[ExI] Memes, genes Gregory Clark

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Tue Sep 14 21:39:52 UTC 2010

On Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 5:00 AM,  BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 4:43 PM, Keith Henson  wrote:
>> No, he really was talking about genes. ?And while there is not *a*
>> capitalist gene, there are certainly a mess of psychological traits
>> presumable under genetic control that definitely contribute to being a
>> capitalist.
> <snip>
>> Now Clark may be wrong, but he sure backs up his arguments with a lot of data.
> But no *genetic* data.  He's a historian not a geneticist.
> He is speculating.

After all the twin studies, I don't think you could find a geneticist
who didn't think personality traits result from genes, at least to a
high extent.

I don't think any one would doubt that certain personality traits are
highly correlated with economic success.

During the time Clark had under consideration, from the mid 1200s to
1800, economic success was strongly correlated with reproductive

The cumulative amount of selection Clark found was close to the level
used to make tame foxes out of wild ones.  *Now* they have been
looking into the fox genes, but you don't need to know about genes to
breed animals or humans or for natural selection to act on them.

> Assume memes and there is no need for genetic theories of racial
> characteristics.

I assume memes.  And have for a *long* time.  Google my name and
memetics.  Heck, my wife suggested the term "memetics" to Hofstadter.
1987 article on memes here:


And even earlier ones were published in 1985.

But you really need to go deeper and ask why some memes do very well
in one population and not as well in others?  Why are some people much
more susceptible to certain memes than others?  And why do some memes
come and go in the whole population?  I can't answer all these
questions, but I make the case that the host substrate for memes
(genetically shaped people) is important.


> See my earlier post:
> <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/2010-September/060124.html>
> BillK


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