Re: virus: Manipulation 101

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Sun, 23 Feb 1997 00:10:32 -0800 (PST)

On Sat, 22 Feb 1997, David McFadzean wrote:

> At 12:23 PM 22/02/97 -0800, Eva-Lise Carlstrom wrote:
> >Actually, there could be endless combinations of these three sources, too;
> >A person might observe something in the physical, non-memetic world,
> >relate it to something learned culturally, and be predisposed by genetics
> >to come to a particular conclusion. Is the conclusion then a meme?
> >Obviously, if the host then transmits it to another host, it is. But
> >before being transmitted?
> Yes, because a gene that kills its host before it can reproduce (by causing
> a congenital defect, for example) is still considered to be a gene.

Yes, but. There's a big difference here, which is that the premise was
that the conclusion was at (least partially) non-memetic in its origins,
not culturally transmitted to the host. A gene that kills the host was
still obtained through normal genetic means to begin with. Unless it was
a mutation, which is probably the nearest thing to the memetic situation I
described, and which is still called a gene, so I guess I agree.

So a meme doesn't have to be transmitted culturally, it only
has to be potentially transmissible thus? Of to be of the type of
thing that generally is? Something like dictionary definitions of
femaleness, in which one has to allow for non-fertile females, so one
can't rely on egg production as a necessary condition.

> > One odd thing about memetic 'sex' as contrasted with the
> >standard genetic version is that rather than creating a new entity with a
> >new combination of the old materials, it changes the existing ones. Hmm.
> I would say that the new one replaces the old rather than changing the old.
I meant it changes the existing entities (the ones involved in the memetic
transfer). Did you mean "the new materials replace the old materials",
which I agree with, or "the new entities replace the old entities", which
I don't? Admittedly, the question of identity can get very hairy (I had a
housemate threaten my life once after I introduced her to the Philosophy
101 example of the ship that's had every board and screw replaced one
bit at a time). But I think most of us, even those of us willing to admit
to being meme ecologies, still recognize the continuity of personal
identity even after memetic shifts.