RE: comparison/contrast of memes and engrams

Mark M. Mills (
Tue, 19 Oct 1999 10:47:25 -0400

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 10:47:25 -0400
From: "Mark M. Mills" <>
Subject: RE: comparison/contrast of memes and engrams
In-Reply-To: <>


>>In terms of the Wilson review of Meme Machine, I'm avoiding the problem of
>>saying the openning bars of Beethoven's 5th symphony are a powerful meme
>>because they are common. I've defined fitness of the L-meme in terms of
>>organism success.

>You thus indicated that organism success was a primary metric by which
memes could be
>judged, which I don't see as having much relation to memetic spread, I
failed to
>grasp/recognize the inherent problems of "common memes are powerful
memes", and I
>don't have a method to measure organism success. I feel a piece
missing from
>your post which seems interesting, but I have not gotten the focus, or
something. How
>does one judge organism success in a manner that predicts memetic fitness?
>Commonality refers to the percentage of a group with a particular
characteristic, like
>self-identifying as having faith in God, as Republican, or as a netizen,
or external
>diagnosis of a characteristic like having cholera or allergies.

First, let me remind you I'm using the Lynch definition for meme (L-meme).

For L-memes, behavior is phenotypic to the L-meme genotype. Just like
other phenotypic expression, it contributes to organism success in terms of
population growth. In L-memetic terms, chimps and humans seem to have had
similar population growth rates 3 million years ago. Due to opportunities
made available to humans via an expanded L-meme N-K fitness landscape,
human population growth is about to force chimps into extinction. In 100
hundred years, it is likely that only captive chimp populations will
survive. This change in relative population growth rates demonstrates the
advantages of human L-memes.

This is what I meant by organism success.

Commonality does not address organism success directly. A common trait may
not have any impact on fitness. Without addressing fitness, no
evolutionary implications are derived.


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