RE: virus: Do memes exist?

Brett Lane Robertson (
Thu, 25 Sep 1997 14:17:15 -0500

At 10:12 PM 9/24/97 -0400, you wrote:
>> What I'm getting at is that there must be
>> a place where the information contained in a meme is recorded
>> in a form which maintains its integrity long enough to be passed
>> on to the next host. I have suggested that genes are this
>> device.
> Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you're saying that
>memes, or rather their 'contents', are coded in genes and from there
>they infect another host. Exactly how do you mean? I fear that this
>is particularly vulnerable to misinterpretation...
>Mark Cidade

I'm saying that memetics is a process which occurs at all levels of
development from that of the cell to that of behavior (see the bit on
pragmatism from today's post). I am saying that the actual physical
structure of meme must have certain characteristics--they must be recorded
in a stable form which is understood to have the evolutionary properties of
passing charisterics "on to the next host". Because of these criteria, I am
saying that the meme will be scientifically designated as that
structure/process within a gene by which genes record "behavioral changes"
(as opposed to simply physical characteristics).

I am not saying that there is no behavorial equivalent to this proposed
genetic structure. I am not saying that the only way behavior is passed on
is through the gene. I am not saying that "memes" at the level of "jingles"
and "slogans" must first be encoded into a gene before they can "infect"
someone else. But I am saying that memetics viewed from the level of
jingles and slogans only provides behavioral *evidence* that memes
exist...and that jingles and slogans are not memes.


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