Re: virus: Re: Rationality (meme make-up)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Fri, 14 Mar 1997 11:54:52 -0800 (PST)

> And I'm into the idea that everything we'd normally call a meme is in fact a
> fuzzy-edged ecological colony of idea things. Single nerve stimulus mapping
> to single muscle ending sounds massively unlikely to me... with the human
> nervous system being as complex as it is, I reckon the chances of any input
> neuron mapping neatly to any single output neuron are vanishingly small.

Of course, but that's the same case as with DNA-genes, but that doesn't
stop us from talking about them as if they were discrete things. There's
no such thing as a single nucleotide that causes a single phenotype
either. Recombination ignores cistron boundaries, and even whole
cistrons have several interacting phenotypic effects, all of which vary
with the environment in which they are found.

The fact that neither genes nor memes are neatly organized into units
with nice orderly consequences is just a fact of life. But we can
see the statistical effect, and on the average they behave pretty much
like Mendel's genes, even though we now know that they don't exist as
Mendel imagined them (even if he hadn't faked his numbers).

Regardless of the fuzzyness of both concepts, their effects are
quite obviously real; blue-eyed parents do in fact wind up with blue-
eyed children, and French children wind up with French accents. If
a mathematical abstraction like "gene" or "meme" helps explain those
phenomena, why should we quibble that they don't neatly organize
themselves they way we would like? That just underlines the fact that
they weren't designed, but emerged as a result of a complex system.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>