virus: Re: virus-digest V2 #32

Reed Konsler (
Fri, 7 Feb 1997 12:26:45 -0500

>From: Dave Pape <>
>Date: Thu, 6 Feb 1997 21:04:31 GMT
>Subject: RE: virus: The Virus Homepage stuff
>But no, I still can't buy the argument that memes please themselves. They'll
>still (as long as their hosts are competing for things like status, comfort,
>money etc) be very much selected for on the basis of what level of
>competitive advantage they confer on their hosts.

In the 1970's biologists were having the same debate about genes. Richard
Dawkins' book "The Selfish Gene" was an advocation of viewpoint which was,
at the time, considered a little wacky: That evolution worked on genes and
not on "hosts" or organisms. Everbody in this debate isn't dead yet so
there is still a little controversy...but bets are on Dawkins model being
accepted as cannon.

Richard makes strong meme-gene analogies. If you accept Dawkins argument
about genes then you have to accept the existence of at least one set of
replicators that operate for their own benifit and not that of their hosts,
is it hard to imagine another?

A meme's ability to propoage is not unrealted to it's benifit to the host,
but benifit is not a prerequisite for propogation. In how many situations
have you noted promotion based on interpersonal politics instead of
demonstrated ability or potential? In the world of the "Peter principle"
is it really so hard to imagine us all carrying around tons on memetic


Reed Konsler