Re: The Demise of a Meme

From: wilkins (wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU)
Date: Wed Mar 21 2001 - 22:37:35 GMT

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    From: wilkins <wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU>
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    Subject: Re: The Demise of a Meme
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    Vincent Campbell wrote:
    > Galileo.

    > > From: wilkins

    > > Richard Brodie wrote:
    > > >
    > > > Science is most certainly not memeless. It is a set of carefully crafted
    > > > memes designed to produce reliable knowledge and theories through
    > > > observation and hypothesis. People have died to propagate the memes of
    > > > science.
    > > >
    > >
    > > Who, exactly? Are you referring to the Minchurist-Lysenkoist movements?
    > > Or to what deaths? I can think of several candidates but not many who
    > > died *because* of their memes.
    > >

    Galileo most assuredly did not die, at least due to his heliocentric
    views. I thought Richard might have meant Giordano Bruno, but he was
    more likely burned because of his theological rather than his scientific
    memes. Arguably Alan Turing was hounded to his death, but this was due
    to his homosexuality rather than his beliefs about thinking machines.
    I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone other than the pre-Lysenko
    Mendelians who died in Gulags who died for reasons related to their
    scientific views, and even these died because of a conflict in secular
    politics rather than scientific views.

    One of the things that characterises science, and the processes of
    selection of scientific memes, is that people do *not* die as a result
    of memetic competition.


    John Wilkins, Head, Graphic Production, The Walter and Eliza Hall 
    Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia
    Homo homini aut deus aut lupus - Erasmus of Rotterdam
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