RE: virus: STOP! not another tautology thread!

Robin Faichney (
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 10:19:00 +0100

Richard wrote:
>Robin wrote:
>>The fit survive to reproduce. And what does "fit" mean?
>>Something is fit if it survives to reproduce. It's circular.
>>You can't test whether "good memes" will populate
>>people's minds in the future at the expense of the less
>>fit, if "good memes" are defined as those that will
>>populate people's minds in the future at the expense of
>>the less fit.
>This really needs to be in the Evolution FAQ.
>The point of Darwinism is that the future is created by the
>success of replicators rather than by some other means (e.g., conscious
>design, randomness with no histeresis). The word "fit" is coined to
>describe those replicators that have better success than others. It is
>no more a tautology than saying "heavy" is a tautology because it
>describes things that are...well...heavy!

Sorry Richard, but I missed any previous tautology thread(s),
and I need to get this clear.

I wasn't accusing evolutionary theory of being tautologous,
just one purported short way of explaining it (my first para),
and it seems to me you said something very similar about

It still seems to me that you can't test whether "good memes"
will out-compete "bad" ones, unless you have a definition of
"good memes" that's independent of their success. In other
words, enables prediction in *specific* cases, not just that of
"all good memes". Now, if there is such a defn, I'd be very
grateful to be told of it.

The bottom line: I think you slipped out of Level 3 thinking,
because at that level you know that memetics isn't
testable. And I think you should admit it -- despite being
a published author, you are fallible, just like the rest of
us! :-)