Re: virus: What makes memes compete?

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 9 Apr 1997 16:59:15 -0700 (PDT)

> Ten pounds sterling for the memeticist who describes, neurally or in terms
> of ideas animals eating/grooming/shagging each other, how memes actually
> agree/disagree.

Evolution operates by selection among organisms, and the overall nature
of an organism is determined by genes and memes. To say that genes and
memes compete is a rhetorical device to aid in understanding certain
results; it is a technique of language, not an observable phenomenon.
If it gets in the way, abandon it and go back to reality. Genes don't
compete; organisms--collections of phenotypes--compete. Genes, and memes,
are both the causes and the beneficiaries of the phenotypic effects they
might have on those organisms, but they are so interdependent and complex
that one can very rarely find 1 locus = 1 gene = 1 phenotype. For any
one meme, it may be unlikely to find itself in the same organism as some
other specific meme because they might share some part of output-space
(say, different methods of throwing a rock). So in that sense, we might
say they compete. But really there are likely to be several memes that
influence how and when one throws rocks (for example, Palestinian
cultural memes:), and they all interact with each other in complex ways
to form the organism that genuinely competes (because it takes up space
and can die and can teach). Those memes who happen to find themselves
in the surviving brains are successful; those who don't aren't. But it
is rarely because they fought one-on-one. They just happened to march
under the right flag, and conspired to create a successful nation, but
the parasites are no less successful than the ones on the front lines.

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