Re: virus: What is meant by "memes affecting genes"?
Wed, 16 Oct 1996 23:59:05 -0500 (CDT)

On Tue, 15 Oct 1996, David Leeper wrote:

> :> The reverse idea, that memes effect genes, is called the Baldwin Effect.
> :
> :Two possible interpretation to "memes effect genes":
> :1. The actual content of memes is saved into genetic information.
> :2. Memes effect our selection of mates, thereby effecting the genetical information of our
> :off-springs.
> Neither of these is the Baldwin Effect.
> Genes are chunks of DNA. Memes are stored in the neural nets of the brain. It is impossible
> to encode memes into genes.
> Memes effect the selection of mates less than you may think. You may have some "I love
> red-heads" meme, but I doubt you would love an old, fat, disease-infested red-head. Your
> genes have created a person who will be attracted to people who have at least a reasonable
> reproductive potential. This will override your "I love red-heads" meme. There's more to
> all this than I can fit into a mail message. See "The Moral Animal" by Robert Wright.
> The Baldwin Effect works like this:
> Memes can effect the environment an creature lives in or can move the creature to new
> environments. As the creature environment changes, genes which may have been adaptive in
> the old environment may be maladaptive or useless in the new environment and genes which
> were maladaptive or useless in the old environment may be very adaptive in the new
> environment. The selection preasures of the new environment will favor those individuals
> with genes that work in the new environment. The evolution of the creature changes because
> of the new environment and it was the memes that created the new environment or moved the
> creature to that environment.

I think the above description reduces to #2. However, it is an
improvement over the naive one by demonstrating how the effect is
pervasive and indirect.

/ Towards the conversion of data into information....
/ Kenneth Boyd