Re: implied or inferred memes

Bill Spight (
Sun, 03 Oct 1999 00:29:18 -0700

Date: Sun, 03 Oct 1999 00:29:18 -0700
From: Bill Spight <>
Subject: Re: implied or inferred memes

Dear Robin,

Sorry for the late response. I have been offline for a week or so.


I think Blackmore would argue that the first example is clearly within
her definition of imitation. Why the fact that the element that is
being imitated is a time element would make a difference I am not sure. I would say that most behaviors involve timing elements of some sort. Take a salute that involves crossing both arms in front of one's chest. People doubtless put one arm or the other across their chests in variety of activities. The meme is created placing both arms in the same position at the same time. The siesta example is still imitation.
People copying each other and sleeping at the same time others are.


Interesting point. If the siesta were a part of a specific behavioral sequence, such as eating lunch, going to the bedroom, napping, etc., then the *whole sequence* might be what is imitated, and the siesta is part of that. But the siesta does *not* depend on previous behavior, but on the time. It doesn't matter what you may have done before, when it's siesta time, it's siesta time. Similarly tea time.

You can't imitate time. It's a condition, not a behavior. You *can*
imitate napping, but only by *not* napping.


The second example could also been seen to fall within a definition of imitation. It could be argued that the children are simply progressing to a different level of imitation. Imitating not the surface level visible construction of sentences, but the underlying pattern of grammatical rules.


I think that the analogy of a recipe is helpful. I can copy a written recipe, but if all I know is the cake, I have no recipe to copy. A good cook might be able to come up with a recipe which produces similar cakes, and it might even be the same as the original recipe. But reverse engineering is *not* imitation.



This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)