Is there a Red Queen of memetics?

inspectormustard
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Is there a Red Queen of memetics?

For those of you who don't know the analogy of the Red Queen to pathology it is explained superbly beyond this link: http://www.iscid.org/encyclopedia/Red_Queen_Theory

Based on this hypothesis I began to wonder this: If gene is to physical disease is to sex as meme is to irrationality is to something, what is that something which would be the equivalent of sex?

Some of my starting points took the idea out of its frame a bit. For example,
Sex produces new gene carriers. Would this something produce new meme carriers? I'm not 100% certain what criteria constitute a meme carrier but books, the internet, and of course people seem likely candidates. However, information storage isn't necessarily a meme carrier (or rather, I'm including the possibility that it might not be).
Does this something have "gender,"  and/or is it affected by carrier gender?
With sex there are sexually transmitted diseases. Would this something have an equivalent?

My goal here is to spur some thinking on the matter and maybe come up with a parallel philosophical jolt just as natural selection was to evolution when it was just a hypothesis.


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OOh... what a great

OOh... what a great question!

 

I'm not sure I can come up with a jolt at 4AM, but I'm going to be thinking about this.  My initial thought is that genes don't just pass sexually.  Genes can and do pass on rather efficiently asexually, though they tend not to vary nearly as much.  I'd suggest that whatever the analog is, it might have not so much genders, but the equivalent of "interchangeable parts."  Some memes, perhaps, resist tampering, and tend to be passed on virtually intact.  Others end up in something akin to the telephone game such that they are hardly recognizable after a few generations.

What this distinction is, I'm not sure.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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You are taking the idea a

You are taking the idea a bit out of frame, but I think that I can put the idea completely within the frame of the Red Queen.

… to explain the advantage of gossip* and the constant race between competing cultures (and subcultures**).  Through the exchange of memes that occurs during gossip, each new meme** thereby created is a memetic experiment, where different memes can come together to allow quick adaptation and change to hold onto or adapt to cultural niches.

In nature, a culture may have to adapt quickly to its changing environment**** in order to simply survive.  In adaptive scenarios, the capacity to adapt quickly confers a huge advantage.  Simplistically put, consider the relationship between a culture and a subculture.  In order for the subculture to survive as a subculture it must continually adapt to the continual adaptation of the greater culture unless it is beneficial for the subculture to lose its distinction and become part of the greater culture.

*Gossip here doesn't mean just idle talk of rumour but the whole of communication between individuals including, but not limited to, oral communication.

**Obviously, not only do cultures ‘war’ with other cultures, subcultures ‘war’ with the culture in which they exist, with other subcultures and with other cultures and altogether vice versa.  There could even be considered a world culture.  There are many layers to culture in any case.  This is clearly different from species in the evolutionary sense because the fabric of cultures is so analogous to fabric -a woven, interlinked structure upon which no one part is dependant, but the whole of which is dependant on each part; culture is a continuum of memes- and I’m not sure that the whole of the extant species form a continuum of genes.

***A new meme doesn’t have to be novel.  A new meme could be any meme slightly altered in any way.  Also, memes, when they are transferred to a new host, or person, aren’t necessarily even changed.  This brings another point up which varies meme reproduction from that of a species engaging in sex: new memes are not embodied in a new organism, but in an organism that has merely absorbed them and who may alter them for any reason.  A novel meme would be one that is created by one individual or a group of individuals for disbursement.  Disbursement might be by gossip or by some other media and a meme can only be viable if it is actually absorbed by someone and then passed on.  Of course, not only do people pass memes on by gossip directly with one or a few people who they likely believe will absorb the meme, but also by mechanisms such as advertising, which are arguably the same as gossip only disembodied and which are rapidly becoming as highly specialized as personal gossip.  There are also media that allow a single person to gossip with an indiscriminate audience some portion of which may absorb the meme.

****This is of course not a physical environment, or it doesn’t have to be just a physical environment, but the political, economic, ideological, etc. environment in which it exists.

 

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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To Actually Answer The Post...

So, that something that is equivalent to sex is communication (or as I called it 'gossip').  A meme carrier, by my understanding must be a person.  A person may refer to a 'storage' media that contains the whole of the meme when gossiping and the person who absorbs the meme may also absorb the whole of the information in the storage media, but it's not necessary.  People have gender and I have to think that memes are affected by a great number of things that can subject them to change, and that gender is one.  There could be something like a disease attached to a meme, but whether that disease affects the carrier or the meme requires some more substiantial detail to the question.  I can imagine a disease that affects the meme as a gene can be affected by a disease as well as a meme that is, or carries, a disease that infects the carrier.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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I tend to think of memes as

I tend to think of memes as being transmitted by a medium. The medium could be verbal communication aided by a constructed metaphor, for example, or it could be a stone tablet or a specific type of tool. Let's use the example of a stone tool. In our example, a primitive human ancestor has adapted a flaking technique to make a more efficient tool. Because the more efficient tool is a refinement or perhaps an improvement on a standardized technique (perhaps it is sharper or it has more uses than the cruder tool), as stone technology eventually became,  if another primitive wants to try and copy it, it will not be difficult. This is presuming the next primitive ancestor has the intelligence and the skill to reproduce the artifact. Artifacts whose construction is self apparent make the best memes. By artifacts I am referring not only to tools or the written word but to all forms of higher communication as well, like verbal language and signing. The best "fit" memes are the ones that reproduced most easily: take the chord progression for Pachelbel's Cannon, which shows up in about one in twenty pop songs. Or sophistry- sophistry makes for great memes.

 

I tend to go with the idea that the actual creation of the "artifact"- making the tool, speaking the phrase or the sentence, or otherwise communicating a meme is the memetic equivalent of sex. Since we're given to innovation, there's your Red Queen.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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inspectormustard wrote:Based

inspectormustard wrote:

Based on this hypothesis I began to wonder this: If gene is to physical disease is to sex as meme is to irrationality is to something, what is that something which would be the equivalent of sex?

Sharing memes. Communication involves interpretation, which merges a meme with someone's interpreted imitation of it.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

inspectormustard wrote:

Based on this hypothesis I began to wonder this: If gene is to physical disease is to sex as meme is to irrationality is to something, what is that something which would be the equivalent of sex?

Sharing memes. Communication involves interpretation, which merges a meme with someone's interpreted imitation of it.

 

HisWillness- you have no idea how many hours I've spent literally sketching diagrams of theoretical ways that memes could interact and "recombine," if indeed they are structures in the brain. The problem is, none of it is quantifiable. Let's say that we determined that the meme could realistically be equated to something like a specific neural circuit. Even though two people might learn the same thing, this says nothing about how they learn it, or how they store this newly acquired piece of information in their memories. Similarly, if one of them transmits the meme to another person, that person will not develop an identical neural pathway. Individuals humans even use muscles differently from each other in subtle ways for bipedal motion. That's why the meme needs to be seen at the level of the artifact or the communicative act. The example I like to use is a lego set: even without instructions, how the pieces fit together is pretty much self-explanatory. With instructions, it is self correcting. Let's say you make a mistake on Step 3. By step 4 or 5, you will have realized your mistake when the product of step 3 is required to initiate a later step. This is a self-correcting mechanism, similar to our genetic machinery which snips out certain mutations and repairs damage during DNA replication.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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There's a problem with the

There's a problem with the analogy, though, and this is the difference between sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction (like viruses or bacteria), which don't experience genetic recombination. Thus genetic evolution is far slower for asexual species than it is for hermaphroditic and bisexual species that have evolved genetic recombination. In Susan Blackmore's book "The Meme Machine" she discusses a similar event in memetic evolution, the point at which the imitation of innovations became a reality in human life. It makes a lot of sense, but I have some problems with her theory, as it seems to put human beings on a kind of pedestal. I don't think a science of memetics should or can be exclusively anthropocentric. Even if what we mean when we commonly talk about memetics pertains mostly to human life, there are certainly precedents for what some might call gene-culture co-evolution in the animal kingdom. I would argue that social insects are a good, non-human example of gene-culture co-evolution. In fact, especially as you go further up in complexity with more adaptive and behaviorally flexible animals like birds and mammals, there's a trend of behavioral changes preceding morphological changes in evolution: an animal uses a part differently, and the most useful traits of that part contribute to the greater survivability of that animal's offspring.

 

The more I think about this, the more I think biological analogies of memetics take the analogy way too far, and a more general notion is needed for the concept of a universal replicator.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


HisWillness
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FulltimeDefendent wrote:Even

FulltimeDefendent wrote:
Even though two people might learn the same thing, this says nothing about how they learn it, or how they store this newly acquired piece of information in their memories. Similarly, if one of them transmits the meme to another person, that person will not develop an identical neural pathway. Individuals humans even use muscles differently from each other in subtle ways for bipedal motion. That's why the meme needs to be seen at the level of the artifact or the communicative act.

That's the long way of saying what I meant. If you have a "meme sequence" called Catholocism, which involves the meme of genuflection ( "crossing yourself" ), two people will interpret the action differently, but be doing the "same thing". The behavioural meme survives, and the whole of the memes of a group make up their full meme sequence (=culture). At least, that's my understanding of the use of the word "meme". Please correct me on this if I'm wrong.

If we're talking "sex" as in "the sexual act", then my answer stands. Sharing these memes isn't exactly sexual, though (considering mass media can transmit memes, and it's impossible to impregnate millions of women at once simultaneously).

If, however, we're talking "sex" as in male and female, then we're faced with a difficult path to reconciling the biology with the philosophy. Deciding that a "male" brain is one that is constantly driving towards spreading memes, and a "female" brain is one that is always, say, researching is beyond simplistic. The process of transmission is completely different with genetics and memetics, so I wonder if it's necessary at all to attempt to reconcile the two.

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fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

FulltimeDefendent wrote:
Even though two people might learn the same thing, this says nothing about how they learn it, or how they store this newly acquired piece of information in their memories. Similarly, if one of them transmits the meme to another person, that person will not develop an identical neural pathway. Individuals humans even use muscles differently from each other in subtle ways for bipedal motion. That's why the meme needs to be seen at the level of the artifact or the communicative act.

That's the long way of saying what I meant. If you have a "meme sequence" called Catholocism, which involves the meme of genuflection ( "crossing yourself" ), two people will interpret the action differently, but be doing the "same thing". The behavioural meme survives, and the whole of the memes of a group make up their full meme sequence (=culture). At least, that's my understanding of the use of the word "meme". Please correct me on this if I'm wrong.

If we're talking "sex" as in "the sexual act", then my answer stands. Sharing these memes isn't exactly sexual, though (considering mass media can transmit memes, and it's impossible to impregnate millions of women at once simultaneously).

If, however, we're talking "sex" as in male and female, then we're faced with a difficult path to reconciling the biology with the philosophy. Deciding that a "male" brain is one that is constantly driving towards spreading memes, and a "female" brain is one that is always, say, researching is beyond simplistic. The process of transmission is completely different with genetics and memetics, so I wonder if it's necessary at all to attempt to reconcile the two.

 

I think "recombination" as opposed to sex is a better analogy. It's probably seen best in linguistics and in religion. For example, the religious syncretism of Catholicism and Orisha Worship (Voudon, Santeria) or Catholicism and Greco-Roman Henotheism. These "meme sequences" (I would call a specific religion a Memeplex/Co-adaptive Meme Complex) interact in interesting ways by transitioning and borrowing elements from each other in order to survive. The traditions of Orisha worship are literally an example of memetic adaptation and survivorship of mostly African traditions that adapted to the presence of Christianity in the form of Roman Catholicism and in some cases to other traditions, like the spiritual systems of the Native Americans displaced by Black slaves and European settlers in Latin America.

I really do think the biological analogies get taken too far sometimes. What I'd like to see is an approach like I described earlier, the Lego-set model. This seems like a good starting place. The real problems are when you get into the interactions of Co-adaptive Meme Complexes. What, for example, about Buddhism might interest a moderate Christian to incorporate Zen meditation into their daily routine? What about some memplexes, when adopted, strip away the foundations of other memeplexes (losing faith in the face of scientific evidence, for example). I'm not sure a scientific answer can be found to this yet without dealing the problem of subjective consciousness.

 

Linguistics is the probably the best starting point we have available, since linguistic change is a relatively well-documented and understood phenomenon with presumably many parallels in the concept of memetics. One of the problems Blackmore attempted to address, as I recall reading from her book, is the criticism that the meme is just a bastardized "Sign."

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

FulltimeDefendent wrote:
Even though two people might learn the same thing, this says nothing about how they learn it, or how they store this newly acquired piece of information in their memories. Similarly, if one of them transmits the meme to another person, that person will not develop an identical neural pathway. Individuals humans even use muscles differently from each other in subtle ways for bipedal motion. That's why the meme needs to be seen at the level of the artifact or the communicative act.

That's the long way of saying what I meant. If you have a "meme sequence" called Catholocism, which involves the meme of genuflection ( "crossing yourself" ), two people will interpret the action differently, but be doing the "same thing". The behavioural meme survives, and the whole of the memes of a group make up their full meme sequence (=culture). At least, that's my understanding of the use of the word "meme". Please correct me on this if I'm wrong.

If we're talking "sex" as in "the sexual act", then my answer stands. Sharing these memes isn't exactly sexual, though (considering mass media can transmit memes, and it's impossible to impregnate millions of women at once simultaneously).

If, however, we're talking "sex" as in male and female, then we're faced with a difficult path to reconciling the biology with the philosophy. Deciding that a "male" brain is one that is constantly driving towards spreading memes, and a "female" brain is one that is always, say, researching is beyond simplistic. The process of transmission is completely different with genetics and memetics, so I wonder if it's necessary at all to attempt to reconcile the two.

 

Interestingly the issue of the neural circuit that I mentioned seems to be a memetic equivalent of convergent evolution, if we wanted to distinguish between analogs of "genotype" ("memotype"?) and "phenotype" for memes. In this sense, a tied shoe would be the equivalent of the "phenotype" and the actual method of tying the shoe would be the "genotype"/"memotype." If there are two or more successful ways of tying shoes, then the same "phenotype" arises from non-identical "memotypes." Similarly, with clothing: at its most basic, the meme is the concept of covering nakedness and reducing exposure. Let's leave out the issue of modesty for the moment, that's a whole different meme. The clothing could be a robe, loose-fitting. It could be a three-piece suit. It could be stitched or woven, by hand or by machine. Different activities producing variations of the same effect, not to different from the fins of dolphins and fish and the wings of birds and bats.

For these purposes:

"Meme"= a communicative act or artifact that is transmitted by cultural means (language, art, etc...)

 

"Memotype" ("Memetic Genotype&quotEye-wink : How the meme is stored as part of an individual's memory, in other words what physical structure in an individual's brain is responsible for storing a learned behavior?

 

"Phenotype" : The behavior itself: If the meme is clothing, than the phenotype could be a robe or a three piece suit or buckskins or silk turbans or whatever articles of clothing are specific to your cultural circumstances. Two cultures might wear turbans, one makes them out of silk and the other out of linen. They have different ways of folding and arranging and patterning their different styles of turbans, just like different gene sequences guide the assemblies of chains of folded proteins to produce analogous structures in different species- like the wings of birds and the wings of bats, which evolved independently and convergently.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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Seems like the topic has

Seems like the topic has wandered a little. The best definition of meme I've seen is

A unit of cultural information that represents a basic idea that can be transferred from one individual to another, and subjected to mutation. A meme consists of any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that gets transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Examples include thoughts, ideas, theories, practices, habits, songs, dances and moods and terms such as race, culture, and ethnicity.

I believe the equivalent word to "memotype" would be "genotype." We may have to refer to the flip side as "genetic phenotype" and "memetic phenotype," phenotype being a Latin derivative roughly meaning showing model and and therefore somewhat meaningless by itself.

The way I see it, it follows that if the memotype is (human) clothing, it would have a series of memes such as "conforms to the figure of the human frame," etc. Just like with biological species we would end up drawing a gigantic tree of all the different species connected by cultural descent. As far as I know species refers to phenotype, gen/mem-otype being the next level in classification scope (genus -> memus).

Allow me to extend, using placeholders for terms not yet defined in context, the analogy:

  • Root
    • Domain: Human
      • Kingdom: Modus (Models of things)
        • Phylum: Construerus (things we can make)
          • Class: Geworen (Wearables)
            • Order: de Nîmes (denim)
              • Family: Sumerus (summer wear)
                • Genus: Retrus (Retro)
                  • Species: Pantilones Geworus (pre-worn pants)

You get the idea. Until we understand how things are represented in the mind we will obviously have to resort to a kind of Linnaean taxonomy. We will have to classify memes by phenotype and known history. Some investigation will reveal that even in that mode of biological taxonomy we still ended up fairly close to the genetic tree just by geological history and perception.

ANYWAY. . .

What I was originally hypothesizing was that there is some kind of mechanism (possibly unknown to us) that acts against memetic disease as reproduction is hypothesized to in biology.

It could be said that as a culture is exposed to another culture's ideas it gains immunity to disastrous memplexes and creates more benign forms as those memes which are unfit for the cultural environment go unselected. What I'm interested is the methods this similar war of attrition has developed. We ourselves are definitely a part of it.

We could be cultural lymphocytes; activists as NK cells, skeptics as T cells, and writers as B cells.


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So, if the analogy holds,

So, if the analogy holds, each meme ought to have an equivalent to a genotype and a phenotype, right?  There ought to be something that defines the boundaries of a meme's expression, and then something that expresses where it sits at a particular moment in relation to the boundaries.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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inspectormustard wrote:Seems

inspectormustard wrote:

Seems like the topic has wandered a little. The best definition of meme I've seen is

A unit of cultural information that represents a basic idea that can be transferred from one individual to another, and subjected to mutation. A meme consists of any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that gets transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Examples include thoughts, ideas, theories, practices, habits, songs, dances and moods and terms such as race, culture, and ethnicity.

I believe the equivalent word to "memotype" would be "genotype." We may have to refer to the flip side as "genetic phenotype" and "memetic phenotype," phenotype being a Latin derivative roughly meaning showing model and and therefore somewhat meaningless by itself.

The way I see it, it follows that if the memotype is (human) clothing, it would have a series of memes such as "conforms to the figure of the human frame," etc. Just like with biological species we would end up drawing a gigantic tree of all the different species connected by cultural descent. As far as I know species refers to phenotype, gen/mem-otype being the next level in classification scope (genus -> memus).

Allow me to extend, using placeholders for terms not yet defined in context, the analogy:

  • Root
    • Domain: Human
      • Kingdom: Modus (Models of things)
        • Phylum: Construerus (things we can make)
          • Class: Geworen (Wearables)
            • Order: de Nîmes (denim)
              • Family: Sumerus (summer wear)
                • Genus: Retrus (Retro)
                  • Species: Pantilones Geworus (pre-worn pants)

You get the idea. Until we understand how things are represented in the mind we will obviously have to resort to a kind of Linnaean taxonomy. We will have to classify memes by phenotype and known history. Some investigation will reveal that even in that mode of biological taxonomy we still ended up fairly close to the genetic tree just by geological history and perception.

ANYWAY. . .

What I was originally hypothesizing was that there is some kind of mechanism (possibly unknown to us) that acts against memetic disease as reproduction is hypothesized to in biology.

It could be said that as a culture is exposed to another culture's ideas it gains immunity to disastrous memplexes and creates more benign forms as those memes which are unfit for the cultural environment go unselected. What I'm interested is the methods this similar war of attrition has developed. We ourselves are definitely a part of it.

We could be cultural lymphocytes; activists as NK cells, skeptics as T cells, and writers as B cells.

 

Well, regarding cultural conflicts and your extended analogy of "cultural lymphocytes," I tend to go with Blackmore's assertion that memes reproduce and spread for their own benefit, not necessarily for the benefit of its host, though the host can either benefit or suffer due to the presence of a meme-driven behavior (like smoking cigarettes, for example). But the bottom line is that the success or "fitness" of a meme is not directly related to the fitness of its host.

 

The problem with Linnaean taxonomy, even in biology, is that it's flawed and arbitrary. We can't even technically tell if there are 49 species of Ramipithiens living in contiguous areas with hybrid zones or whether there's just one species with a specifically geographical pattern of inter-population fertility (A can mate with B, B and A can mate with population C, but A, B, and C all have trouble mating with populations X, Y, and Z... that's simplifying it a bit, but the same holds true for many "species" living close by each other with hybrid zones. Cercopithecine monkeys are a similar case, females of some species can interbreed with males of other species, and in some cases this only goes one way between males and females of specific species.

Basically our whole concept of biological species is terribly arbitrary. Geographically, as well as temporally. In all probability, if a female Homo erectus was still around today, she could probably have a child relatively successfully- though possibly with some medical assistance- with a modern human. The only real difference is in the braincase, there probably wouldn't be any biochemical barriers, even if there are biomechanical ones (for example, chihuahuas and great danes are both the same species, but gestating a chihuahua-dane cross would probably kill a chihuahua mother. Maybe the same would hold true between a human being and an australopithecine like Lucy (older and much smaller than erectus). Obviously there's no point in the distant past at which one generation of "erectus" parents couldn't hypothetically (and yes I know this is squicky) successfully reproduce with the next generation of "Homo sapien" youngsters. It doesn't work like that. At any given time, one generation in a lineage is capable of reproducing with the next generation.

I wouldn't say that the "War of attrition" you've described works out well for all cultures. In addition to somewhat Darwinian competition of ideas, there are also things like alcoholism that have historically destroyed native communities all over the world where foreigners have introduced liquor to indigenous populations. Not just in the Americas, but in Africa and Australia and I would bet in India and other places in Southeast Asia too. Often these cultures lacked alcohol (though some used drugs ceremonially), leaving them "memetically unprepared" for its effects, whereas its presence for thousands of years in Europe and the Middle East forced those cultures to develop what level of alcohol tolerance they did.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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Hambydammit wrote:So, if the

Hambydammit wrote:

So, if the analogy holds, each meme ought to have an equivalent to a genotype and a phenotype, right?  There ought to be something that defines the boundaries of a meme's expression, and then something that expresses where it sits at a particular moment in relation to the boundaries.

 

Yes, this is the really hard part. Like I said in my last post, the method of taxonomy used by biologists forces us to arbitrarily divide species by certain characteristics and not others. In all technicality, if we take the Biological Species Concept of the Ecological Species Concept to their logical extremes, than there is really only one species on Earth, and that would include everything except arguably viruses. Alternatively we can simply nix the species concept altogether. I think using Linnaean taxonomy so strictly for memetics is a mistake. But we've definitely hit upon something with the memetic equivalents of a genotype and a phenotype: as discussed, this interpretation allows for convergent evolution of memes. Unlike very simple organisms, a meme, even something as simple as a spoken phrase like Bart Simpson's "Eat my shorts!" would have to have a distinctive memotype and memetic phenotype (the former being the method of memory storage and the application of action potential to speaking the phrase [literally the neural pathway or neural circuit], the latter being the phrase itself as it is heard by the speaker or by others).

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”