Re: virus: Memohazard (?) Symbol

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 22:28:27 -0800 (PST)

> Nonsense doubled is twice nonsense. Genes are very real _physical_
> things, which can be measured, and seen, using instrumentation. Memes are
> not. I am glad you can sculpt this fog, but you are mistaken if anyone
> else can... Not even Dawkins has canned the things yet....

No, they're not. Genes don't exist. They are /implemented/ in a
physical medium, namely DNA, but they have no boundaries, no rigid
definitions, no specific identity. Memes are precisely the same:
they are /implemented/ in the physical hardware of the brain (if you
are a dualist, we can end the conversation here--I have no patience
to debate mystics), but we have yet to identify their precise
mechanisms or boundaries. They may not be discrete, identifiable
things, just like genes aren't. But they are real in precisely the
same way: we can objectively measure their results, and simulate
their behavior, and test hypotheses about them with empirical data.
Brain cells and processes are no less measurable and observable
than mitosis.

> I am not discounting any worth here, but 'memetics is a science' is a
> false statement. And so, as far as we can determine, is 'a meme is a real
> thing.' It is still, and please correct me if I am mistaken, a
> _descriptor_ of a cognitive process. It is a valid, IMHO, term, ...

But "gene" is an abstract descriptor for a reproductive process in
exactly the same way. If you mean to say that memes don't "exist" in
the discrete, definable way that, say, codons and cistrons do, then
yes, they don't. But neither do genes. Genetics is nevertheless a
science, with quantitative, falsifiable hypotheses and empirical
results. So is memetics: it makes falsifiable predictions, and can
be tested with empirical results.

If memetics isn't a science, then neither is evolution.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>  <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC