Re: virus: Do memes exist?

Tim Rhodes (
Sat, 20 Sep 1997 12:44:13 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 19 Sep 1997, Wade T.Smith wrote:

> Hmmmm. Yes, drosophila are used because mutations can be seen swiftly.
> The grand argument is still that those using fruit flies know what
> they're looking at....


> We need something where we can say with some certainty there are no
> memes, and something which is a cultural variation of those behaviors,
> so that we can see what the memes did. As such, there is a vast and
> everchanging species of memes within toilet training, as each
> tribe/culture/family uses adaptive techniques.

I think this would be a fruitful area to explore, but I wonder about its
utility. When did anyone do a productive experiment to find the
difference between things in which genes exist and the ones that don't
have genes? I can't see a biologist running an experiment on drosophila
and then using rocks as a control to prove that genes exist.

Genes are implied by the manner in which traits are handed down across
generations by living creatures. The study of /how/ they are handed down
gave clues as to their nature, which enabled scientists to formulate a
model of what they expected to find and then look for it. I don't think
we have a good enough understanding of /how/ memes behave to make a model
accurate enough to enable us to find a meme. But I may be a lone voice on
this though.

> So, without an actual working mechanism, there is really no drosophila
> yet. But- fruit flies are used just as much to _find_ genes as to explore
> them, ain't they? (Although there may be no difference between such
> modes.)
> And, yes, ultimately I don't feel memes are a necessary and sufficient
> part of mind until they are found. But- I want them to be found.

I too. It would not only be comforting, but illuminating as well.

How many have read Asimov's _Foundation Trilogy_? The equation written on
the wall of the secret room on Earth is what I'm after from memetics in
the long run.

(And yes, Tad, be afraid. Be VERY afraid!)

-Prof. Tim