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Memetics (Meme-theory)

mark.marrocco
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7/14/2012 9:20:00 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
As concisely defined as possible, memetics treats "units of culture" (i.e. ideas and behaviors) as self-replicators (e.g. genes) that are essentially a force of their own, acting for their own "benefit."

I just wonder if anyone has any insights or opinions on memetics. Some worthwhile questions to answer are: Is it a valid scientific theory? Just an unproven hypothesis? How could it be proven? If it is valid, what would the implications be? If it isn't valid, what alternative theories do you think better explain the phenomena that memetics does?
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
vbaculum
Posts: 1,274
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7/15/2012 1:33:32 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Memetics is really just looking at the notion of an idea in a Darwinian light. As Dennett says, if you believe language exists then you believe memes exist.

I'm not sure what the consequences of scientific research into memes will yield (or have yielded). (I've always wondered though.) I do think the word "meme" makes it easier to think about the evolution of ideas. Religions are very easy to analyse in Darwinian terms, for example. I don't think certain insights into the evolution of religion would be possible without the notion of memes available in ones cognitive tool kit.
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Wnope
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7/15/2012 6:58:35 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I was fairly skeptical of it, but it turns out that you actually can create an empirically useful model of "memetics" by showing how an entity ascribed the tag "meme" (like how certain chains of DNA are designed "gene") can reproduce itself in the same way a virus would.

Malcolm Gladwell's "Tipping Point" is an example of how memetic transfer can be empirically modeled. However, his models don't allow for mutation, only selection based on a fixed set of concepts within differing contexts.
vbaculum
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7/16/2012 12:42:27 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/15/2012 6:58:35 PM, Wnope wrote:
I was fairly skeptical of it, but it turns out that you actually can create an empirically useful model of "memetics" by showing how an entity ascribed the tag "meme" (like how certain chains of DNA are designed "gene") can reproduce itself in the same way a virus would.

Malcolm Gladwell's "Tipping Point" is an example of how memetic transfer can be empirically modeled. However, his models don't allow for mutation, only selection based on a fixed set of concepts within differing contexts.

I just put Tipping Point on my reading list...
"If you claim to value nonviolence and you consume animal products, you need to rethink your position on nonviolence." - Gary Francione

THE WORLD IS VEGAN! If you want it
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/17/2012 5:54:26 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/15/2012 1:33:32 AM, vbaculum wrote:
Memetics is really just looking at the notion of an idea in a Darwinian light. As Dennett says, if you believe language exists then you believe memes exist.

I'm not sure what the consequences of scientific research into memes will yield (or have yielded). (I've always wondered though.) I do think the word "meme" makes it easier to think about the evolution of ideas. Religions are very easy to analyse in Darwinian terms, for example. I don't think certain insights into the evolution of religion would be possible without the notion of memes available in ones cognitive tool kit.

I agree, in "The Meme Machine" Susan Blackmore focuses a lot on language (and mentions Dennett, whose "Freedom evolves" I own but have yet to read), and in "Virus of the Mind" Richard Brodie focus a lot on religion, which is definitely better understood through a memetics model for me as well. The point Blackmore focuses on a lot when discussing memes is that they spread themselves through mimicry, which really shows itself in religion more than most other places, at least historically (e.g. tracing the cross, bowing, wearing symbols.)

The "Tipping Point" was a great read, and it definitely seemed to present a lot of useful ideas. I really enjoyed "Blink" as well, though I don't remember it being quite as useful as the former.
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
baggins
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7/17/2012 9:50:06 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/15/2012 6:58:35 PM, Wnope wrote:
I was fairly skeptical of it, but it turns out that you actually can create an empirically useful model of "memetics" by showing how an entity ascribed the tag "meme" (like how certain chains of DNA are designed "gene") can reproduce itself in the same way a virus would.

Given any large set of data, we can always tweak any sufficiently complex model so that the model explains the data.

It is unlikely that such empirical models will be useful. A model is useful only if it can be used to make predictions about future.
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
baggins
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7/17/2012 10:02:09 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/14/2012 9:20:00 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
As concisely defined as possible, memetics treats "units of culture" (i.e. ideas and behaviors) as self-replicators (e.g. genes) that are essentially a force of their own, acting for their own "benefit."

Units of culture is not very well defined. However it is possible to allow that much leeway.

Ideas as self-replicators sounds extremely dubious, unless you come from a particular background where such stuff is routinely parodied around as science.

I just wonder if anyone has any insights or opinions on memetics. Some worthwhile questions to answer are: Is it a valid scientific theory? Just an unproven hypothesis? How could it be proven? If it is valid, what would the implications be? If it isn't valid, what alternative theories do you think better explain the phenomena that memetics does?

It is an extremely weak scientific hypothesis.

A better idea may be to simply study rise and fall of ideas without any assumptions about how they spread (which should prevent any bias from entering the process of creating the graph). Once it is arranged in a graph, we should look for the simplest model which may explain the data. And I don't think the simplest model is not going to be simple at all.
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
belle
Posts: 4,113
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7/18/2012 1:30:23 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
you have to be very careful about what you mean when you say things about memetics to avoid confusing yourself and others. in the same way that genes "propegate themselves" by taking advantage of the cellular environment around them (and creating it, but thats a complexity that isn't really essential here), memes propegate themselves by taking advantage of their environment, which is human minds. theres no intentionality involved. memes that survive are good at getting human brains to believe in them and spread them by whatever means, as well as avoiding being replaced by other memes.

that said, i think as a model, although its interesting, its not especially fruitful. it does highlight the fact that ideas can rise in popularity for reasons completely separate from what is good for the humans that adopt those ideas, which is a good thing to point out, but beyond that the degree of fuzziness introduced when you have to think about what a meme is tends to render the model somewhat useless for further analysis. with a gene you have sequence data which clearly allows you to track it over time and space in different bodies, but with a meme, different people's conceptions of a given idea tend to be subtly different... i think there is too much variation and not enough consistency in the realm of ideas for the meme model to be able to track anything but the simplest of concepts or cultural inventions. the contribution it makes is in the stance you take towards cultural evolution and change.... once you get into specifics it kind of falls apart in that it isn't much able to say anything novel or make any predictions (at least beyond extremely general ones).

tl;dr: i really like the idea, but i don't think it has all that much to teach us except in a very general sense
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/19/2012 9:47:36 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/17/2012 9:50:06 PM, baggins wrote:
At 7/15/2012 6:58:35 PM, Wnope wrote:
I was fairly skeptical of it, but it turns out that you actually can create an empirically useful model of "memetics" by showing how an entity ascribed the tag "meme" (like how certain chains of DNA are designed "gene") can reproduce itself in the same way a virus would.

Given any large set of data, we can always tweak any sufficiently complex model so that the model explains the data.

It is unlikely that such empirical models will be useful. A model is useful only if it can be used to make predictions about future.

I'm sorry, but isn't that the whole aim of science in general; to fit models to the data as well as possible in order that you can make those predictions?
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/19/2012 10:07:44 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/17/2012 10:02:09 PM, baggins wrote:
At 7/14/2012 9:20:00 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
As concisely defined as possible, memetics treats "units of culture" (i.e. ideas and behaviors) as self-replicators (e.g. genes) that are essentially a force of their own, acting for their own "benefit."

Units of culture is not very well defined. However it is possible to allow that much leeway.

Ideas as self-replicators sounds extremely dubious, unless you come from a particular background where such stuff is routinely parodied around as science.

I just wonder if anyone has any insights or opinions on memetics. Some worthwhile questions to answer are: Is it a valid scientific theory? Just an unproven hypothesis? How could it be proven? If it is valid, what would the implications be? If it isn't valid, what alternative theories do you think better explain the phenomena that memetics does?

It is an extremely weak scientific hypothesis.

A better idea may be to simply study rise and fall of ideas without any assumptions about how they spread (which should prevent any bias from entering the process of creating the graph). Once it is arranged in a graph, we should look for the simplest model which may explain the data. And I don't think the simplest model is not going to be simple at all.

Why is it weak then? I agree that what you propose in the middle of this might be the most objective way of interpreting the data, that is in the sense of simply tracking the spread of ideas and then creating a model. However, you have to start with some assumptions in this case, and in this case they would be justified. i.e. There are only certain ways that ideas can spread, they have to be communicated from mind to mind somewhat consciously, unlike the spread of genes. For example, before language, the only way humans, or hominids, could have spread "ideas" is through imitation. We would most likely have to assume that as a starting point for the transmission of primitive ideas. Now, the pathways taken haven themselves diversified enormously since then (e.g. spoken/written language, telegraphs/phones, television, the Internet, satellites), but the mechanism of imitation remains the greatest common factor in all of these. So modern ideas are naturally more complex (most are actually meme-plexes), but they contain within them simple building blocks based on imitation (memes), e.g. religions (memeplexes) have certain rituals and rules (memes), and languages (memeplexes) have certain spelling and sounds (memes.) And when you look at it that way, it really does look like genetic evolution (obviously the mechanisms and "structures" are different but that's somewhat less relevant.) So, then even the simplest scientific models have one or two assumptions, in this case there's only one (imitation.) Therefore we need to evaluate the mechanisms of imitation, which recently have gained some merit with the discovery of "mirror neurons," which Blackmore actually predicted in "The Meme Machine." So neuroscience will, and needs to, dictate the assumptions we make here.
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
THE_OPINIONATOR
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7/19/2012 11:23:08 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Thanks to The Big Bang Theory, I know what the Meme-Theory is. Where a peice of information say a rumor hops host in order to be sufficiant in self gain, as an organisim perhaps? Like a parasite?
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mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/19/2012 7:26:49 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/19/2012 11:23:08 AM, THE_OPINIONATOR wrote:
Thanks to The Big Bang Theory, I know what the Meme-Theory is. Where a peice of information say a rumor hops host in order to be sufficiant in self gain, as an organisim perhaps? Like a parasite?

Are you asking? Essentially yes, those who "study" memetics view the memes as something like viruses that try to "spread themselves" although the intent isn't really there, it just makes it easier to model. I don't understand the connection between the Big-Bang Theory and Meme-Theory though, other than the fact that memes obviously wouldn't have existed without the former.
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
vbaculum
Posts: 1,274
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7/20/2012 12:14:43 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/19/2012 7:26:49 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/19/2012 11:23:08 AM, THE_OPINIONATOR wrote:
Thanks to The Big Bang Theory, I know what the Meme-Theory is. Where a peice of information say a rumor hops host in order to be sufficiant in self gain, as an organisim perhaps? Like a parasite?

Are you asking? Essentially yes, those who "study" memetics view the memes as something like viruses that try to "spread themselves" although the intent isn't really there, it just makes it easier to model. I don't understand the connection between the Big-Bang Theory and Meme-Theory though, other than the fact that memes obviously wouldn't have existed without the former.

I think he's talking about a TV show.
"If you claim to value nonviolence and you consume animal products, you need to rethink your position on nonviolence." - Gary Francione

THE WORLD IS VEGAN! If you want it
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/20/2012 12:58:36 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/20/2012 12:14:43 AM, vbaculum wrote:
At 7/19/2012 7:26:49 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/19/2012 11:23:08 AM, THE_OPINIONATOR wrote:
Thanks to The Big Bang Theory, I know what the Meme-Theory is. Where a peice of information say a rumor hops host in order to be sufficiant in self gain, as an organisim perhaps? Like a parasite?

Are you asking? Essentially yes, those who "study" memetics view the memes as something like viruses that try to "spread themselves" although the intent isn't really there, it just makes it easier to model. I don't understand the connection between the Big-Bang Theory and Meme-Theory though, other than the fact that memes obviously wouldn't have existed without the former.

I think he's talking about a TV show.

Ohhh... I should've known that, it's my favorite show. Lol
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/20/2012 12:26:23 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/18/2012 1:30:23 AM, belle wrote:
you have to be very careful about what you mean when you say things about memetics to avoid confusing yourself and others. in the same way that genes "propegate themselves" by taking advantage of the cellular environment around them (and creating it, but thats a complexity that isn't really essential here), memes propegate themselves by taking advantage of their environment, which is human minds. theres no intentionality involved. memes that survive are good at getting human brains to believe in them and spread them by whatever means, as well as avoiding being replaced by other memes.

that said, i think as a model, although its interesting, its not especially fruitful. it does highlight the fact that ideas can rise in popularity for reasons completely separate from what is good for the humans that adopt those ideas, which is a good thing to point out, but beyond that the degree of fuzziness introduced when you have to think about what a meme is tends to render the model somewhat useless for further analysis. with a gene you have sequence data which clearly allows you to track it over time and space in different bodies, but with a meme, different people's conceptions of a given idea tend to be subtly different... i think there is too much variation and not enough consistency in the realm of ideas for the meme model to be able to track anything but the simplest of concepts or cultural inventions. the contribution it makes is in the stance you take towards cultural evolution and change.... once you get into specifics it kind of falls apart in that it isn't much able to say anything novel or make any predictions (at least beyond extremely general ones).

tl;dr: i really like the idea, but i don't think it has all that much to teach us except in a very general sense

Hmmm...

I'm aware and understand already the concept, and its utility, of saying that memes try to "benefit" themselves or "spread" themselves, without it actually meaning that there is intentionality. And, I agree with you about the fact that the most important concept taken from memetics is that ideas in general will spread independently of their actual worth or value, but I think that in itself is novel to most people, and infinitely useful.

That being said, I disagree with you that you can't say what a meme is as a single unit. Obviously, you can't make it as precise or explicit as a gene-sequence (or maybe you could...), but that doesn't mean, necessarily, that it should be abandoned. Too few people have made a real effort to study it, or contribute to the theory. For instance, internet-memes, chain mails, etc. could all easily be justified in being labeled memes.

I guess the real challenge, and the thing that would validate it, or keep it from gaining any more credibility, is if it can be used to make predictions or not.
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
baggins
Posts: 855
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7/20/2012 1:28:45 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/19/2012 9:47:36 AM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/17/2012 9:50:06 PM, baggins wrote:
At 7/15/2012 6:58:35 PM, Wnope wrote:
I was fairly skeptical of it, but it turns out that you actually can create an empirically useful model of "memetics" by showing how an entity ascribed the tag "meme" (like how certain chains of DNA are designed "gene") can reproduce itself in the same way a virus would.

Given any large set of data, we can always tweak any sufficiently complex model so that the model explains the data.

It is unlikely that such empirical models will be useful. A model is useful only if it can be used to make predictions about future.

I'm sorry, but isn't that the whole aim of science in general; to fit models to the data as well as possible in order that you can make those predictions?

So what I mean is, memetics makes no predictions.
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
baggins
Posts: 855
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7/20/2012 1:36:33 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
A better idea may be to simply study rise and fall of ideas without any assumptions about how they spread (which should prevent any bias from entering the process of creating the graph). Once it is arranged in a graph, we should look for the simplest model which may explain the data. And I don't think the simplest model is not going to be simple at all.

Why is it weak then? I agree that what you propose in the middle of this might be the most objective way of interpreting the data, that is in the sense of simply tracking the spread of ideas and then creating a model. However, you have to start with some assumptions in this case, and in this case they would be justified. i.e. There are only certain ways that ideas can spread, they have to be communicated from mind to mind somewhat consciously, unlike the spread of genes. For example, before language, the only way humans, or hominids, could have spread "ideas" is through imitation...

Problem is, unlike genes, ideas don't have any physical foundations. The whole concept of breaking up a culture into small ideas is not a very strong one.

... We would most likely have to assume that as a starting point for the transmission of primitive ideas. Now, the pathways taken haven themselves diversified enormously since then (e.g. spoken/written language, telegraphs/phones, television, the Internet, satellites), but the mechanism of imitation remains the greatest common factor in all of these. So modern ideas are naturally more complex (most are actually meme-plexes), but they contain within them simple building blocks based on imitation (memes), e.g. religions (memeplexes) have certain rituals and rules (memes), and languages (memeplexes) have certain spelling and sounds (memes.) And when you look at it that way, it really does look like genetic evolution (obviously the mechanisms and "structures" are different but that's somewhat less relevant.) So, then even the simplest scientific models have one or two assumptions, in this case there's only one (imitation.)

Here are the assumptions...
1. Culture is made up of small ideas.
2. Ideas move from one person to other
3. Spread and success of ideas can be studied independent of history, culture and content and truth of the ideas.

... Therefore we need to evaluate the mechanisms of imitation, which recently have gained some merit with the discovery of "mirror neurons," which Blackmore actually predicted in "The Meme Machine." So neuroscience will, and needs to, dictate the assumptions we make here.
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
baggins
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7/20/2012 1:47:48 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
The biggest problem with meme theory is, it was not developed as a tool to study development of culture and ideas. It was developed to find applications of evolutionary thinking and to lampoon religion; by comparing it to a successful virus.

This is a case of model being developed without considering any data. This is not the way science works.
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/20/2012 2:01:01 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/20/2012 1:36:33 PM, baggins wrote:
A better idea may be to simply study rise and fall of ideas without any assumptions about how they spread (which should prevent any bias from entering the process of creating the graph). Once it is arranged in a graph, we should look for the simplest model which may explain the data. And I don't think the simplest model is not going to be simple at all.

Why is it weak then? I agree that what you propose in the middle of this might be the most objective way of interpreting the data, that is in the sense of simply tracking the spread of ideas and then creating a model. However, you have to start with some assumptions in this case, and in this case they would be justified. i.e. There are only certain ways that ideas can spread, they have to be communicated from mind to mind somewhat consciously, unlike the spread of genes. For example, before language, the only way humans, or hominids, could have spread "ideas" is through imitation...

Problem is, unlike genes, ideas don't have any physical foundations. The whole concept of breaking up a culture into small ideas is not a very strong one.

More accurately they might be termed as small gestures, rather than small ideas. Ideas themselves are made of these gestures, like words or numbers. The gestures are what replicate themselves, so for instance the phrase "God Bless America" is an (ambiguous) idea that is made up of the three gestures (words), and once the three gestures themselves are used together, they become one gesture, and thus one meme that spreads itself. I think the problem people have is being able to shift the scope of what they're inquiring into as necessary.

Here are the assumptions...
1. Culture is made up of small ideas.
2. Ideas move from one person to other
3. Spread and success of ideas can be studied independent of history, culture and content and truth of the ideas.


1. Culture is made up of small gestures that may or may not make up an abstract idea.
2. This isn't an assumption, it's an empirical observation and an existential truth. How else would they spread? Where would they come from? Obviously people sometimes have innovative ideas, but even those necessarily have to be composed of, or derived from, previously existing ideas. True invention is very rare, if it exists at all.
3. This assumption isn't made at all, most of it is made of straw, the only piece that's accurate is that ideas -- or more accurately the gestures (memes) that make up culture -- can be studied independent of their truth content. History and culture (which are inextricably linked) are the field in which memes would be observed and analyzed.

So, actually it would look more like this:

1. Culture is made up of small, mimic-able gestures (which we'll call memes.)
2. Humans copy these gestures, practice them, perform them, and are then copied (possibly) by other humans.
3. Truth content is valuable where it is applicable, but does not necessarily affect how memes spread, as not all memes (or even most) even have a truth value (i.e. they aren't necessarily true or false.)
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/20/2012 2:05:07 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/20/2012 1:47:48 PM, baggins wrote:
The biggest problem with meme theory is, it was not developed as a tool to study development of culture and ideas. It was developed to find applications of evolutionary thinking and to lampoon religion; by comparing it to a successful virus.

This is a case of model being developed without considering any data. This is not the way science works.

You're referring to "Virus of the Mind" when you say it's used to lampoon religion, but "The Meme Machine" was the first in-depth book about it that was by a psychologist who did use it to explore how it could have developed culture and ideas (specifically language), and even the biological evolution of the human brain.
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
baggins
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7/20/2012 2:34:39 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Problem is, unlike genes, ideas don't have any physical foundations. The whole concept of breaking up a culture into small ideas is not a very strong one.

More accurately they might be termed as small gestures, rather than small ideas. Ideas themselves are made of these gestures, like words or numbers. The gestures are what replicate themselves, so for instance the phrase "God Bless America" is an (ambiguous) idea that is made up of the three gestures (words), and once the three gestures themselves are used together, they become one gesture, and thus one meme that spreads itself. I think the problem people have is being able to shift the scope of what they're inquiring into as necessary.

Here are the assumptions...
1. Culture is made up of small ideas.
2. Ideas move from one person to other
3. Spread and success of ideas can be studied independent of history, culture and content and truth of the ideas.


1. Culture is made up of small gestures that may or may not make up an abstract idea.
2. This isn't an assumption, it's an empirical observation and an existential truth. How else would they spread? Where would they come from? Obviously people sometimes have innovative ideas, but even those necessarily have to be composed of, or derived from, previously existing ideas. True invention is very rare, if it exists at all.
3. This assumption isn't made at all, most of it is made of straw, the only piece that's accurate is that ideas -- or more accurately the gestures (memes) that make up culture -- can be studied independent of their truth content. History and culture (which are inextricably linked) are the field in which memes would be observed and analyzed.




So, actually it would look more like this:

1. Culture is made up of small, mimic-able gestures (which we'll call memes.)
2. Humans copy these gestures, practice them, perform them, and are then copied (possibly) by other humans.
3. Truth content is valuable where it is applicable, but does not necessarily affect how memes spread, as not all memes (or even most) even have a truth value (i.e. they aren't necessarily true or false.)

If you are talking about usage of words and expressions in language, you make some sense. If you are talking about cultures, it does not make any sense. American culture cannot be defined as a collection of some 'gestures' like 'God bless America'.
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
baggins
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7/20/2012 2:40:12 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/20/2012 2:05:07 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/20/2012 1:47:48 PM, baggins wrote:
The biggest problem with meme theory is, it was not developed as a tool to study development of culture and ideas. It was developed to find applications of evolutionary thinking and to lampoon religion; by comparing it to a successful virus.

This is a case of model being developed without considering any data. This is not the way science works.

You're referring to "Virus of the Mind" when you say it's used to lampoon religion, but "The Meme Machine" was the first in-depth book about it that was by a psychologist who did use it to explore how it could have developed culture and ideas (specifically language), and even the biological evolution of the human brain.

I was not referring to Virus of the Mind. The concept of meme was introduced by Richards Dawkins in his horrible book, 'The Selfish Gene'. It is full of fallacies and pretends to be a science book. I have not read Virus of the mind or The Meme Machine.
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/20/2012 11:57:44 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/20/2012 2:34:39 PM, baggins wrote:
Problem is, unlike genes, ideas don't have any physical foundations. The whole concept of breaking up a culture into small ideas is not a very strong one.

More accurately they might be termed as small gestures, rather than small ideas. Ideas themselves are made of these gestures, like words or numbers. The gestures are what replicate themselves, so for instance the phrase "God Bless America" is an (ambiguous) idea that is made up of the three gestures (words), and once the three gestures themselves are used together, they become one gesture, and thus one meme that spreads itself. I think the problem people have is being able to shift the scope of what they're inquiring into as necessary.

Here are the assumptions...
1. Culture is made up of small ideas.
2. Ideas move from one person to other
3. Spread and success of ideas can be studied independent of history, culture and content and truth of the ideas.


1. Culture is made up of small gestures that may or may not make up an abstract idea.
2. This isn't an assumption, it's an empirical observation and an existential truth. How else would they spread? Where would they come from? Obviously people sometimes have innovative ideas, but even those necessarily have to be composed of, or derived from, previously existing ideas. True invention is very rare, if it exists at all.
3. This assumption isn't made at all, most of it is made of straw, the only piece that's accurate is that ideas -- or more accurately the gestures (memes) that make up culture -- can be studied independent of their truth content. History and culture (which are inextricably linked) are the field in which memes would be observed and analyzed.




So, actually it would look more like this:

1. Culture is made up of small, mimic-able gestures (which we'll call memes.)
2. Humans copy these gestures, practice them, perform them, and are then copied (possibly) by other humans.
3. Truth content is valuable where it is applicable, but does not necessarily affect how memes spread, as not all memes (or even most) even have a truth value (i.e. they aren't necessarily true or false.)

If you are talking about usage of words and expressions in language, you make some sense. If you are talking about cultures, it does not make any sense. American culture cannot be defined as a collection of some 'gestures' like 'God bless America'.

While it is easiest to think about with words an expressions in languages, it still can be used that way more generally. Why couldn't it? Why couldn't any culture? It doesn't imply that the sum total is meaningless, we still have emotional reactions to these gestures, and particularly groupings of gestures (meme-plexes.)
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/21/2012 12:02:28 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/20/2012 2:40:12 PM, baggins wrote:
At 7/20/2012 2:05:07 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/20/2012 1:47:48 PM, baggins wrote:
The biggest problem with meme theory is, it was not developed as a tool to study development of culture and ideas. It was developed to find applications of evolutionary thinking and to lampoon religion; by comparing it to a successful virus.

This is a case of model being developed without considering any data. This is not the way science works.

You're referring to "Virus of the Mind" when you say it's used to lampoon religion, but "The Meme Machine" was the first in-depth book about it that was by a psychologist who did use it to explore how it could have developed culture and ideas (specifically language), and even the biological evolution of the human brain.

I was not referring to Virus of the Mind. The concept of meme was introduced by Richards Dawkins in his horrible book, 'The Selfish Gene'. It is full of fallacies and pretends to be a science book. I have not read Virus of the mind or The Meme Machine.

Actually he introduced the word and it unintentionally developed into the concept later, but I've never read "The Selfish Gene," so I can't say anything very useful about how scientific it was. Meme machine is very logical though.
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
FREEDO
Posts: 21,057
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7/22/2012 6:56:41 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Everything acts according evolutionary principles. Since the big bang, only the most stable things survived, building upon each other in continuing stability. Energy became particles. Particles be came atoms. Atoms became chemicals. Chemicals became cells. Cells became nervous systems. Nervous systems became brains. Brains became webs of ideas and culture.
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord
mark.marrocco
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7/22/2012 7:13:32 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/22/2012 6:56:41 PM, FREEDO wrote:
Everything acts according evolutionary principles. Since the big bang, only the most stable things survived, building upon each other in continuing stability. Energy became particles. Particles be came atoms. Atoms became chemicals. Chemicals became cells. Cells became nervous systems. Nervous systems became brains. Brains became webs of ideas and culture.

Right, beautiful isn't it? And you've stated it so elegantly. Cosmos means order after all. I think memetics is simply the realization of that order in the most recent stage (ideas and culture.)
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
FREEDO
Posts: 21,057
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7/22/2012 7:25:44 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/22/2012 7:13:32 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/22/2012 6:56:41 PM, FREEDO wrote:
Everything acts according evolutionary principles. Since the big bang, only the most stable things survived, building upon each other in continuing stability. Energy became particles. Particles be came atoms. Atoms became chemicals. Chemicals became cells. Cells became nervous systems. Nervous systems became brains. Brains became webs of ideas and culture.

Right, beautiful isn't it? And you've stated it so elegantly. Cosmos means order after all. I think memetics is simply the realization of that order in the most recent stage (ideas and culture.)

http://24.media.tumblr.com...
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord
baggins
Posts: 855
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7/22/2012 8:32:16 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/20/2012 11:57:44 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/20/2012 2:34:39 PM, baggins wrote:
Problem is, unlike genes, ideas don't have any physical foundations. The whole concept of breaking up a culture into small ideas is not a very strong one.

More accurately they might be termed as small gestures, rather than small ideas. Ideas themselves are made of these gestures, like words or numbers. The gestures are what replicate themselves, so for instance the phrase "God Bless America" is an (ambiguous) idea that is made up of the three gestures (words), and once the three gestures themselves are used together, they become one gesture, and thus one meme that spreads itself. I think the problem people have is being able to shift the scope of what they're inquiring into as necessary.

Here are the assumptions...
1. Culture is made up of small ideas.
2. Ideas move from one person to other
3. Spread and success of ideas can be studied independent of history, culture and content and truth of the ideas.


1. Culture is made up of small gestures that may or may not make up an abstract idea.
2. This isn't an assumption, it's an empirical observation and an existential truth. How else would they spread? Where would they come from? Obviously people sometimes have innovative ideas, but even those necessarily have to be composed of, or derived from, previously existing ideas. True invention is very rare, if it exists at all.
3. This assumption isn't made at all, most of it is made of straw, the only piece that's accurate is that ideas -- or more accurately the gestures (memes) that make up culture -- can be studied independent of their truth content. History and culture (which are inextricably linked) are the field in which memes would be observed and analyzed.




So, actually it would look more like this:

1. Culture is made up of small, mimic-able gestures (which we'll call memes.)
2. Humans copy these gestures, practice them, perform them, and are then copied (possibly) by other humans.
3. Truth content is valuable where it is applicable, but does not necessarily affect how memes spread, as not all memes (or even most) even have a truth value (i.e. they aren't necessarily true or false.)

If you are talking about usage of words and expressions in language, you make some sense. If you are talking about cultures, it does not make any sense. American culture cannot be defined as a collection of some 'gestures' like 'God bless America'.

While it is easiest to think about with words an expressions in languages, it still can be used that way more generally. Why couldn't it?

It is not obvious to me how it can be used more generally. It is clear that a language consists of words. This is a pretty clear definition and we can work with that. It is not clear how a culture can be defined as a set of 'memes'. Do we have anything better than analogies with genes and words to explain how a meme will be identified and analyzed.

Starting from a state where we don't really know that there is anything which can be considered a meme, a theory to study its 'evolution' is clearly an overkill.

Why couldn't any culture? It doesn't imply that the sum total is meaningless, we still have emotional reactions to these gestures, and particularly groupings of gestures (meme-plexes.)
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
baggins
Posts: 855
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7/22/2012 8:37:02 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/21/2012 12:02:28 AM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/20/2012 2:40:12 PM, baggins wrote:
At 7/20/2012 2:05:07 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/20/2012 1:47:48 PM, baggins wrote:
The biggest problem with meme theory is, it was not developed as a tool to study development of culture and ideas. It was developed to find applications of evolutionary thinking and to lampoon religion; by comparing it to a successful virus.

This is a case of model being developed without considering any data. This is not the way science works.

You're referring to "Virus of the Mind" when you say it's used to lampoon religion, but "The Meme Machine" was the first in-depth book about it that was by a psychologist who did use it to explore how it could have developed culture and ideas (specifically language), and even the biological evolution of the human brain.

I was not referring to Virus of the Mind. The concept of meme was introduced by Richards Dawkins in his horrible book, 'The Selfish Gene'. It is full of fallacies and pretends to be a science book. I have not read Virus of the mind or The Meme Machine.

Actually he introduced the word and it unintentionally developed into the concept later, but I've never read "The Selfish Gene," so I can't say anything very useful about how scientific it was. Meme machine is very logical though.

I admit that it would be fallacious to say that a theory is wrong because it was introduced by a ignorant person like Dawkins.
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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7/22/2012 8:44:44 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/22/2012 8:37:02 PM, baggins wrote:
At 7/21/2012 12:02:28 AM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/20/2012 2:40:12 PM, baggins wrote:
At 7/20/2012 2:05:07 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
At 7/20/2012 1:47:48 PM, baggins wrote:
The biggest problem with meme theory is, it was not developed as a tool to study development of culture and ideas. It was developed to find applications of evolutionary thinking and to lampoon religion; by comparing it to a successful virus.

This is a case of model being developed without considering any data. This is not the way science works.

You're referring to "Virus of the Mind" when you say it's used to lampoon religion, but "The Meme Machine" was the first in-depth book about it that was by a psychologist who did use it to explore how it could have developed culture and ideas (specifically language), and even the biological evolution of the human brain.

I was not referring to Virus of the Mind. The concept of meme was introduced by Richards Dawkins in his horrible book, 'The Selfish Gene'. It is full of fallacies and pretends to be a science book. I have not read Virus of the mind or The Meme Machine.

Actually he introduced the word and it unintentionally developed into the concept later, but I've never read "The Selfish Gene," so I can't say anything very useful about how scientific it was. Meme machine is very logical though.

I admit that it would be fallacious to say that a theory is wrong because it was introduced by a ignorant person like Dawkins.

I'm not familiar with Dawkins' work firsthand, but I think it's a safe bet to say that he's too dogmatic as opposed to ignorant. I'm thinking you take issue with his views on religion?

Also he really didn't invent the theory, he just introduced the word and then the theory came along through other minds.
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."