[extropy-chat] FWD [Skeptic] Re: Emotional memes, was Elvis Sightings //cold fusion +//

Terry Colvin fortean1 at mindspring.com
Fri Feb 9 07:13:10 UTC 2007

-----Forwarded Message-----
>On Feb 08, 2007, at 19:02:44, Leonard R. Cleavelin wrote:
>> Is the whole meme thang really advanced enough to call it a  
>> "theory", in the strict scientific sense?
>I think so. I suspect Dennett might, as well, but, then, the actual  
>practice of developing methodologies for experimentation never  
>happened in memetics- it has failed as a science- possibly because  
>its a theory of how things are, not how they do, and mostly because  
>the whole endeavor was just swallowed up by socio-biology before it  
>had a chance to split off.
>The 'meme' as the quanta of culture is a valid term. It follows  
>darwinian processes, and is a good explanation for why culture is  
>both inside and outside of us. There is no other, IMHO, good theory  
>about artifacts and their use in understanding, performing, and  
>continuing cultures.
>But it's all too general, too oblique, and too wrapped up in human  
>behavior to truly define.
>I gave it what I consider a good shot, even developing my own model  
>and usage of 'meme'- but, nothing is really out there except the term  
>Keith Henson, the currently exiled scientology debunker, was one of  
>the first 'memeticists'. Dawkins came on with an offhand comment  
>about how culture needs a 'gene', and the gates were open. Dennett  
>puts a mechanism in the mind for memes.
>There are basically two camps of memeticists- mental and physical.  
>Some hold that memes are active mental entities and are somehow  
>'passed' from brain to brain. Others hold that there is nothing  
>unique about what happens in the brain, and that memes are physical  
>things created by cultural behaviors.
>My own theory is that memes are the very performances of culture  
>themselves- constantly in flux, and constantly enforcing their own  
>continuance. Not either mental or physical, but the very motions in  
>present time of human behaviors within cultures, as separate from  
>those innate behaviors we as a species cannot eradicate or escape,  
>except through genetic change.
>The (imagined) divide between 'cultural' behavior and 'genetic'  
>behavior is the schism that memes depend upon.
>There is good argument to deny this schism, and thus deny any  
>separate power to culture at all.
>Difficult fence to straddle, difficult fence to get off.
>I suspect a lot of critics of memetics just said, who cares?
>The only official journal of memetics is defunct, but, see http:// 
>cfpm.org/jom-emit/overview.html for a brief synopsis of what was.
>- Wade

Terry W. Colvin
Sierra Vista, Arizona

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