Re: The Demise of a Meme

From: wilkins (wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU)
Date: Thu Mar 22 2001 - 22:48:07 GMT

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    From: wilkins <wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU>
    Organization: The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
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    Subject: Re: The Demise of a Meme
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    Vincent Campbell wrote:
    > Yes, but Galileo's life was at stake over the principles which he troubled
    > over sticking to, but he did so in the end.
    > Professional death can be another risk- like that bloke who came up with
    > continental drift, or Alvarez's catastrophism theory over the dinosaurs
    > extinction- but such people stick to to their theories, and those who turn
    > out to be right we celebrate their determination, those who turn out to
    > bewrong we condemn their obstinacy.

    *Professional* death, sure. That is the death (or non-proliferation) of
    memes. This is entirely within the model as proposed by Hull (and to a
    less-acceptable extent from a memetic perspective, Kuhn) of scientific
    evolution. But none of the examples so far adduced shows the death of
    anyone for scientific memes.
    > Then of course there's Scopes monkey trial.

    Nobody died, or even went to jail. And that was about a religious set of
    memes, not scientific ones (anyone actually *seen* that textbook? It's
    on the web somewhere in a law school site (search on Scopes trial). Not
    exactly science so much as a triumphalist faith in progress. More
    neo-Lamarckian than Darwinian.

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