Re: virus: The "science" of memes?

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Thu, 26 Dec 1996 17:09:35 -0800 (PST)

I fell hundreds of messages behind in the past month, a state which the
dreary prospect of trudging through all of XYZ's tiresomely attack-ridden
and inconsistent posts encouraged. Having caught up at last on my first
read-through (I read any posts I reply to at least twice), perhaps I will
now manage to work up the energy to deal with some of the messages.

Memetics is not a whole new field; it does not claim to be examining
things that have never been studied before. It is a new way of looking at
old things. It is based on an analogy of human communication with
genetics. Analogy is not in itself a scientific concept (except, of
course, in linguistics), but it can lead to new insights about how the
world works, and thus to new scientific knowledge. All of us here on this
list, and as far as I can tell this includes you, are interested in
discussing how cultural information is transmitted, what effects it has
in its various forms, and how such knowledge might best be used. That is
what we are here for.

Like others who have posted here, I object to XYZ's belligerent and
superior attitude. I am always willing to argue an interesting point with
someone who argues fairly (following a consistent line of reasoning,
acknowledging points taken, abandoning fruitless threads when necessary,
listening to my explanations and assuming that I mean to be communicating
something useful by them, and re-explaining points if I don't understand
them as intended the first time around). I do not perceive this to be
XYZ's method. Instead I have seen XYZ sprawl across my mailbox, offering
only abuse to everyone who replies with even the most polite
counterarguments and questions. In addition XYZ has given inconsistent
answers and arguments (one example: claiming not to accept the existence
of memes, claiming to accept memes but not memetics), making productive
discourse impossible because the goal keeps shifting. XYZ may be a mask
for someone else, or may be a genuine new face on the list, but I don't
see this as an important distinction. If someone purposefully tripped me,
I wouldn't care deeply whether the person was genuinely an asshole or was
merely engaging in an asshole-roleplaying exercise for the day.

I don't want to play croquet with the Red Queen; the mallets, balls, and
hoops move around to much for my taste, and if I do well she's liable to
have me beheaded anyway.