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Memetics

keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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7/17/2016 6:51:17 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
You're probably over 40 if you remember the 'revolutionary' science of mimetics, which was going to explain all things cultural and religious using the notion of self-replicating, evolving "memes".
I was wondering if anybody still takes 'memes' seriously today. In the 90's they were the bees knees. Susan Blackmore wrote a fairly well known book 'The Meme Machine' about the brain as a, well as a meme machine, and there were plenty of other lesser people on the meme bandwagon Mimetics was going to revolutionise our view of the world. But today nobody bothers with memes.

So why did the 'meme' meme not catch on?
v3nesl
Posts: 4,500
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7/18/2016 7:32:03 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/18/2016 6:51:10 PM, keithprosser wrote:
Yep - 'memetics' is dead.

Just another example of how the evolution meme is junk science :-)
This space for rent.
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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7/20/2016 1:37:37 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/17/2016 6:51:17 PM, keithprosser wrote:
I was wondering if anybody still takes 'memes' seriously today.

Apparently not, Keith. In 2002, Bruce Edmonds from the Centre for Policy Modelling at the University of Manchester wrote in the Journal of Memetics: [http://cfpm.org...]

In my opinion, memetics has reached a crunch point. If, in the near future, it does not demonstrate that it can be more than merely a conceptual framework, it will be selected out. While it is true that many successful paradigms started out as such a framework and later moved on to become pivotal theories, it also true that many more have simply faded away. A framework for thinking about phenomena can be useful if it delivers new insights but, ultimately, if there are no usable results academics will look elsewhere.
I am challenging the memetic community of academics to achieve the following three tasks of different types:
* a conclusive case-study;
* a theory for when memetic models are appropriate;
* and a simulation of the emergence of a memetic process.


In 2005, the Journal of Memetics was closed due to lack of quality submissions. and Edmonds wrote an I Told You So in the final issue: [http://cfpm.org...]

The revealed poverty of the gene-meme analogy --
why memetics per se has failed to produce substantive results

I claim that the underlying reason memetics has failed is that it has not provided any extra explanatory or predictive power beyond that available without the gene-meme analogy. Thus whilst the idea of memes has retained its attractiveness for some in terms of a framework for thinking about phenomena, it has not provided any "added value" it terms of providing new understanding of phenomena. The fact that some who wear the theoretical spectacles (Kuhn 1969) of memetics insist of redescribing a host of phenomena in these terms despite the lack of substantive results merely confirms other academics' opinion of the approach. The ability to think of some phenomena in a particular way (or describe it using a certain framework), does not mean that the phenomena has those properties in any significant sense.

In short, description is not prediction. I think there's not much more to say. :)