Re: virus: Memetic evolution

David McFadzean (
Fri, 22 Mar 1996 12:38:52 -0700

At 07:17 PM 22/03/96 -0800, C. David Noziglia wrote:

>Another way of saying it would be that I would consider ideas that changed
>our way of thinking to be more important that "mere" descriptions of the
>physical world, or facts. Another way of putting it . . .

Given that criterion I'm surprised the meta-meme (or the extended phenotype)
hasn't made the list yet. wrote:

> To rephrase your qualifications for the selection process (tell me if I'm
> wrong in this), it seems to be a matter of focusing on the actual
> revelations of the physical and natural world (DNA, quantum reality, etc)
> versus "bolt from the blue" creative (often theoretical) insights which
> also fuel a deeper comprehension of reality (ala Godel's theorem and
> Einstein's relativity). In terms of the exercise, your impulse would be to
> preserve creative insights as they seem to be less predictably reproducible
> throughout history. A meme like Einstein's relativity is, ideationally
> speaking, more of a "masterpiece" or "rarity" than that of DNA.

In "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" Dennett introduces an important distinction
between "Newtons" and "Shakespeares". The former are people that have made
very important (influential, meaningful) contributions, but if they had
never lived someone else probably would have done the same thing eventually.
On the other hand if Shakespeare had died in infancy, there would be no
reason to believe someone else would have written those literary works.
(Well, maybe someone did write them, but you get the point :) Perhaps it is
the works of the 20th century Shakespeares that should be preserved.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus