RE: virus: nudge nudge wink wink

Brett Lane Robertson (
Thu, 25 Sep 1997 14:31:53 -0500

At 11:35 AM 9/25/97 +0100, you wrote:
>> From: Eva-Lise Carlstrom[]
>> On Wed, 24 Sep 1997, David McFadzean wrote:
>> > Does it make sense to say that blinking is a gene? Or maybe
>> > is there is a gene for blinking, is there a meme for winking?
>> I understand the question, David. :)
>OK, now I do too, thanks, Eva.
>> You're looking at our terminology for genetics and memetics, and
>> finding a
>> lack of parallelism. I think this is because of the tendency to speak
>> vaguely about memes, and forget that what is transmitted is not the
>> same
>> as the result of the transmission...
>But I don't agree! Just about everyone around here seems
>to be happy to reify memes, to view them as "things", when
>for me they're theoretical constructs. Thus, any piece of
>behaviour that tends to be propagated is a meme (or meme-
>complex). The meme is not some underlying cause, as is
>the gene. Someone gets winked at, and as a result winks
>at others. To say that the wink is the meme is not just
>loose usage, it is precisely right. Don't get carried away
>by the meme/gene parallel, it only goes so far. Dawkins'
>point was that not only genes reproduce and evolve. In
>principle, any item of information can do so, given
>suitable substrate and environment. But the behaviour
>instantiates the item of information, which cannot exist
>on its own. Behavioural item == information == meme.


Even a theoretical construct has to have characteristics which distinguish
it from another construct. A meme at the level of behavior should be
discernable from "information", "behavior", "environment" well as from
host, thought, imitation, idea, trait, etc.


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