Re: virus: Replication of Memes

David McFadzean (
Mon, 19 Aug 1996 23:28:47 -0600

Steve wrote:

> Yes, I have challenged *some* basic definitions in memetics. But I have also
> broadened others, and made memetics more *general* and universally
> applicable. The reason I have developed my own variation of memetics is
> because of a very fundamental assumption that I have made:
> Complexity is impossible without simplicity.

I don't think anyone would disagree with the assertion that simple rules
can lead to extremely complex behaviour. This has been shown
Given this, we can hope that all complexity has simple underlying
mechanisms, otherwise we have can never understand it.

> There is something very simple going on. My only serious disagreement with
> the current, dominant state of play in memetics is the assumption that the
> brain is some kind of biological computer that 'processes' input streams of
> information to turn them into outputs that drive the biological machine.
> This disagreement arises because it violates the assumption of simplicity.

I really don't understand how you think this violates the assumption
of simplicity. That is the most simplistic model of the brain I've seen.

> But once the ball-and-chain model of brain-as-computer is discarded, *then*
> the other contradictions that KMO has disagreed with are resolved. Memes
> will still play a central role, but the locus of influence shifts from the
> meme to the organism - that is, throughout its lifetime, the memes that an
> organism has chosen and habituated have shaped its desires. These desires
> are what motivates the organism to choose more of the same. These desires
> are powerful. But they have arisen out of choices that have been presented
> to the organism from the environment. What is more, had the organism not
> made these choices, it would have died. (Humans that choose the wrong memes

I think it is a category error to claim that organisms make choices as
opposed to memes. I guess it is true to the extent that no single meme
a choice, but rather it is the collective influence of all active memes
that lead to a choice. Sort of like how the collective firings of
of neurons lead to the utterance of a sentence.

> become designated as insane, and they are unable to look after themselves)

Perhaps if you define a meme as being "wrong" if and only if they cause
their host to be insane and unable to look after themselves. But what
memes that cause their hosts to devote their lives to trivial hobbies to
the exclusion of almost everything else? There are millions of people by
that description that are capable of looking after themselves and they
not considered insane (at least not clinically).

> Further, the lower an organism is in the hierarchy, the more it is confined
> by its physiological form that predisposes it to making one choice over

Which hierarchy is that?

> another. And so, yes, memes are very important, very powerful and essential
> to survival. But they are not the *source* of behaviour. And with this shift
> in perspective, what I said in an earlier post makes a lot of sense - that
> is, mind precedes matter, choice precedes form.

Maybe I don't understand what you mean by "mind precedes matter" but I
recall you making any argument to support that position.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Ideosphere Inc.