virus: random memes

Paul Prestopnik (
Wed, 22 Oct 1997 09:38:16 -0400

>What precedes a habitual cultural behavior? Unfortunately, the animal
studies, even the >interesting ones, like bird songs and food washing, can
easily be honed by Occam as random >behavioral changes. While they seem to
follow evolutionary patterns, are they culture? are >they memetic?

even if the behavior changes originate randomly, does this mean they are
not memetic. They are ideas that have been observed to travel from one
mind to others. The biggest problem seems that there is no overwhelming
evidence (to my knoweldge) that they are communicated. If a behavior is
copied, but not communicated is that still memetic.
Also, even if they do not represent memes, they may be still be used to
study, in a limited manner, the propogation of memes.
A major problem is that with animals viral shells cannot be created, we
cannot study a complex linkage between memes. i.e. the food washing meme
cannot be tied to an evangelism meme, or a save the children meme.

Returning to the random behavioral changes, an aside. If a friend and I
are discussing some idea, and I give my opinion to the matter, my friend
does not here me correctly and thinks and I said something else, and wait
he thinks I said is a better idea/meme than what I did say. Who is the
creater of this meme? It could be stated that the friend subconscously
projected his idea onto my utterance, but I think there could be an
occurance where this is not true. This parrallels the genetic idea of
random mutation and natural selection. Not sure where I'm going with this.
Just something I've thought about lately, that seemed could be important;
I figured maybe you guys could help me figure out why.