Re: virus: ESS's and Punc. Equil.

Tim Rhodes (
Tue, 22 Jun 1999 16:48:38 -0700

Richard wrote:

>Memes do self-replicate by definition.

Nice circular logic ya got goin' there, Richard!

Memes are defined by you as "information which gets copies of itself made" so saying that they "self-replicate by definition" seems to be a bit of a there tautology isn't it?

>Memeplexes [Blackmore] and Viruses of
>the Mind [Brodie] also self-replicate. Saying they self-replicate is simply
>invoking the model known as the intentional stance [Dennett]. How "true" it
>is depends on the accuracy of the predictions made.

And I suspect you and I are after different levels of description from our models of memes, hence of difference in perspectives.

I'm well aware of the "intentional stance, thank you. Are you aware that there are actual physical characteristics that are different in a self-replicating object (like a cell) and an externally replicated one (like book). I suspect any one of your programmer friends that works on anti-virus software would be willing to point them out for you.

Or you could try this experiment, put a living bacteria in a perti dish with nutrients (food energy). And then beside it put a book in a bucket with wood
pulp, ink, binding glue, and some movable type. (Hell, maybe even toss in a whole printing press while your at it!) Now, come back later and see which one has made copies of itself.

Saying that mind-viruses self-replicate does not imply that all memes do, as I'm sure you'll agree. (Unless you use that circular logic to define them that way.) And the distinction is important to those not wed to the mind-virus side of memetics.

>A lot of the confusion in memetics stems from not realizing there are more
>than one kind of cultural replicator.

And a lot of confusion in memetics also stems from expecting that everyone wants to get the same level of description from their models as you do. Even if we're all taking about the same overall phenomena.

Are you willing to call all the cultural replicat(ors) "memes"?

And can you see how the difference between making-copies-of-yourself and being-copied-by-another could be an important and necessary distinction for someone with interests in the process which are fundamentally different than yours?

-Prof. Tim