Re: comparison/contrast of memes and engrams

Mark M. Mills (
Thu, 14 Oct 1999 10:49:33 -0400

Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 10:49:33 -0400
From: "Mark M. Mills" <>
Subject: Re: comparison/contrast of memes and engrams
In-Reply-To: <>


At 03:22 PM 10/13/99 -0700, you wrote:

>Coining terms like G and L-meme might add excess baggage where it might
not be

I'm not adding baggage, only recognizing primary forms of 'meme' used since
original 70s Dawkins description. G and L-memes are just shorthand for
definitions published last year in the Journal of Memetics. I use them because
they are explicit and anyone can go back to the source documents and authors.
Both Lynch and Gatherer are active on this list. I think Tim Rhodes first
coined the shorthand L-meme and G-meme.

Here is the straight Gatherer-meme definition (G-meme):

Meme: an observable cultural phenomenon, such as a behaviour, artefact or
an objective piece of information, which is copied, imitated or learned,
and thus may replicate within a cultural system. Objective information
includes instructions, norms, rules, institutions and social practices
provided they are observable.

(Gatherer, "Why the `Thought Contagion' Metaphor is Retarding the Progress
of Memetics"

Gatherer points out this is essentially the definition previously published
by Bill Benzon.

Second, the Lynch definition (L-meme):
A memory item, or portion of an organism's neurally-stored information,
identified using the abstraction system of the observer, whose
instantiation depended critically on causation by prior instantiation of
the same memory item in one or more other organisms' nervous systems.
(Lynch, "Units, Events and Dynamics in Memetic Evolution",

Some partisans of each definition advocate their ownership of the term
meme. I
take a middle view. I find usage of both valuable.

What do you think of memetics? Do you think either usage will ever find
acceptance in Science or Nature?


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