virus: Memetics.

Tony Hindle (
Mon, 14 Apr 1997 17:00:23 +0100

In message <>, Dan Plante
<> writes
> As I understand it, Dawkins was the first to publish anything regarding
>memes or memetics as it is 'understood' today. I also get the impression
>that he came to the conclusions he did (sorry, I haven't read his work),
>upon noticing patterns in how thoughts, ideas and their ilk, appear and
>change in the human mind, spread through a population, and affect behaviour
>at the individual and cultural level. He may have either noticed a pattern
>first, then drawn a corollary with genetics later, or his understanding (or
>model) of the overall dynamics of genetic evolution caused a direct recognition
>of a similar functional dynamic. I think the latter is more likely, but either
>way, the comparison was made and the term 'meme' was coined.
Thanks for the postings Dan, I love these attempts to try and
agree a consensus reality (BTW Tad's gone away now so OBJECTIVISM IS
POOH AND ALL OBJECTIVISTS SMELL...shit I forgot David R is still here,
never mind I just wont send this ;-)

I like to remember that Dawkins sort of created memetics by
accident, here are some of his words from a 1995 article in sceptic

My original purpose in introducing the concept of memes really
was not to produce a theory of culture, but rather to say that Darwinism
doesn't have to be tied to genes. It can work wherever you have a
self-replicating code. We should actively be looking around for other
examples of self-replicating codes which are "doing the Darwinian
thing." The important thing is not to get too hung up on genes when
you're doing your evolutionary biology.

Personaly I believe he accidently created the paradigm for
understanding culture that will overtake all previous attempts. Who
among you would disagree with this? (Im looking for a bit of consensus
reality here.)

>How closely do the attributes of genes and the dynamics of
>genetics correspond to the same in memes and memetics?
I think they are two separate examples of evolution by natural
selection as in the substrate neutral way Dawkins defines it...
...the non-random selection of randomly varying replicators.

Apart from this we should just be grateful if we find any
isomorphisms between higher level structures, we can use them as helpful
analogies because we have had much longer to create a shared language
relating to genetics. We have to create our own language for memetics,
this could be the most reflexive task we ever ask of ourselves.
The fact that I can't get very far with discussing these matters
with others leads me to believe that we already share the beginnings of
this new language on this list.

Tony Hindle.
Oh shit I forgot to delete that childish joke about objectivism