21.7.06

genetics vs memetics

I haven’t read Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, so what follows could be laughably obvious, or worse, utter bullshit.

Only about a week ago I fully appreciated for the first time why Dawkins’ concept of memetics is so compelling. The relationship with genetics is more than just its analogous process of procreation and evolution. The really interesting part is arguably their symbiotic relationship.

Genes and memes (in the most comprehensive sense) constitute a humans being’s two profound faculties of identity. We are in a sense nothing more than our genetic makeup and the memetic dynamics of our collection of memes. The parallel coexistence of these two processes is a beautiful concept. Without genes, memes would not exist. Without memes, genes would not be able to evolve as quickly and efficiently as they do.

At first I subconsciously assumed it’s an accidental relationship, the one feeding off the other. Perhaps because of the uneasiness between the two which manifests itself in human terms through conflicts between body (genes) and mind (memes). To me, this conflict continually manifests itself in our ambivalent stance between the needs of the two. Do I flirt with the beautiful model on the left or the interesting nerd on the right?

It’s obvious, however, that memes are the more promising entity when it comes to the continued conservation and development of knowledge. They would eventually not need genes (humans) to exist and procreate. Describing our lifetime as the “The Information Age” will seem more and more ridiculous as time goes by. If humans survive another 100 years without some cataclysmic event destroying all progress, memes will be virtually immortal, in one form or another.

But it’s not just about symmetry; it’s really about continuity. They are not just parallel processes that happen to help each other out. We arguably live in a major transition period in which the biological hands over the bastion of information conservation and development to the infinitely more robust and flexible: ones and zeros. A much purer and less constrained form of information, and all that is needed for memes to exist. Memetics is in a sense the fruits of the labour of genes. Genes gave birth to memetics, which is taking things to the incomprehensible next level.

A cataclysmic event could easily wipe genes out any second, but if this event is delayed another 100 years, genes would in all probability already succeeded in rendering (either by intelligent design or by pure chance) memes an autonomous entity, and taken the conservation and evolution of a seemingly divine experiment in knowledge to places we can only try to imagine.

I think I have always been hesitant to read Dawkins because I am not ready for his level of atheism. I already see things much more mechanically than is strictly healthy (for me anyway). Dawkins has surely conceived the most impenetrable “religion” yet. But I’m sure it will evolve.

I really should read more.

13 comments:

hein said...

Dear Barry.

Some thoughts:

"Without memes, genes would not be able to evolve as quickly and efficiently as they do."

Not true. We always think we won the competition of the ‘fittest’, but we are nowhere close. When we talk about evolutionary competition, we are talking about competition between various types of gene carriers in their ability to replicate and distribute the genes they are composed of (if competition is the right word at all - there is no finish line). Thus, the only way to ‘score’ evolutionary competition is look at rate at which a gene 'machine’ (genes that have by chance developed a collective carrier usually on the basis of symbiosis) is on its ability to replicate. By this measure we humans rate behind millions of other creatures, like roaches and maggots and worms, none of which have memes. Also, if one had to look at the other primates that have at least some rudimentary meme system, memes does not seem to hold such a grand evolutionary advantage. Thus, there is no reason to think that “Without memes, genes would not be able to evolve as quickly and efficiently as they do”.

"To me, this conflict continually manifests itself in our ambivalent stance between the needs of the two. Do I flirt with the beautiful model on the left or the interesting nerd on the right?"

In considering each girl, it is the exact same part of the brain following the exact same chemically-based processes, and considering the exact same factors - all of which are either directly or indirectly are related to reproduction (genetic replication). Choosing the nerd does not mean that you are following your ‘mind’ or some mental meme structure. You are always following on your biological drive to reproduce. Thinking a girl is smart, for example, could simply mean that you physically sense that it would be in the interest of your genes to share with her genes in their next carrier – your offspring. It is not different parts of you reacting to different things. The ‘split’ between body and mind is one of the great fallacies of the Western Philosophy. The whole meme paradigm is simply a way of thinking about ideas and how ideas change. It is not meant as a tool for analyzing consciousness, only, I could almost say, the products of consciousness.

“If humans survive another 100 years without some cataclysmic event destroying all progress, memes will be virtually immortal, in one form or another [including the rest of your post]”

No they won’t. Memes are like organisms; prone to mutations that are unpredictable, like an evolutionary leap or cancer (which we then call a perversion). Memes are not static or cumulative in any sense, and thus will not ever be able to be archived in binary code. Your opinions are based – I think - on the idea that the terms ‘memes’ and ‘information’ are interchangeable. They are certainly not.

Also, the theory of Singularity you are referring to in the second half of your post have nothing to do the memetics, but rather consciousness, except of course that it is itself a meme.

Interesting topic though.

Rebecca said...

I agree with Hein (he got there first and more articulately).

The concept of memes is that of ideas being passed along and imitated. Depending on the host, further development of a meme
may result in that meme being mutated. They are not intrinsically linked to genes as memes can be developed and mutated, cross culturally, in a short period of time. A tune that everyone is humming is an example of a successful meme - even if the tune is annoying. Not all successful memes are positive memes. Faith and religion are examples of where a meme is popular with masses but can have terrible consequences. To quote Dawkins from 'The Sefish Gene':

"If a man believes in a different god, or even if he uses a different ritual for worshipping the same god, blind faith can decree that he should die - on the cross, at the stake, skewered on a Crusader's sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in a bar in Belfast."

Rebecca said...

Moreover, there is physical evidence that genes exist whereas 'memes' are just a theory - a phrase that has been coined to explain the movement and development of fashions and ideas across culture. You have to understand the concept of memes to believe in their existence. A meme is a meme in itself.

dcm said...

I had the liberty of experiencing an unpleasant and short lived conversation (in a bar) with a guy believing that some of the ape species in Uganda are more evolved than the local population!? After some thought, it dawned upon me that the only constant in evolution is time. That makes every species in the fauna and flora kingdom equally evolved, until at some point it is vanquished. Memes might be attributed to Homo sapiens, and even barbs:

“A complex combination of senses allows fish to achieve those smooth schooling movements we marvel at. At one time it was believed there was a leader in the school, who directed the movements. However, it is now known that each fish responds to the movements of the other fish, and even stimuli such as pheromones. If one fish moves in a different direction all the others sense it and move accordingly.”

Doesn’t matter how hard I’ve tried to produce a fat layer with sunlight, I’ve always ended up UV stroked. I now find bars, with the gift of memes, a way more pleasant method.

iv said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hein said...

Very well summarized iv, particularly with regards to the relationship between memes and genes in the works of Dawkins.

You have gotten me thinking though: memetics is an exciting concept to grasp, but in essence it is a very limited tool for scientific enquiry. It cannot predict, only describe post facto. Genetics, on the other hand, is solid science that has already deeply enriched our understanding of the world. In this regard, memes and genes are so different that I sometimes think it was a mistake of Dawkins to have related discussed them in the same book.

The difference lies in the fact that memes mutate so unpredictably, and where an ‘unfit’ biological mutation would lead to extinction; there is no reason to believe that a gross perversion of a meme would necessarily lead to the death of that meme.

The mind races with examples (which are, of course, post-facto descriptions and essentially ideological).

The reason why genes have been so successful is not because they can evolve, but because they are such accurate replicators usually. Mutations have to very infrequent and for a mutation to enter the population it would have to be only slight. There is a certain understanding of the behavior of genes and evolution. None so for memetics.

.

b said...

thanks for setting me straight hein. like i said, i should read more.

on body and mind: of course the mind is simply part of the body, but they are not one and the same thing. with "body" i was effectively referring to the effect millions of years of evolution have had on our way of thinking, as opposed to the effect of our carefully collected set of memes.

effectively my very incomplete view is due to the human point of view i was taking. both genes and memes clearly help us survive and they feed off each other to some extent. "quickly and efficiently" is a bad choice of words. i was not comparing human evolution to that of other species, but just looking at it from a very human perspective. sometimes we're attracted to someone's body and other times their mind. the one is attraction is more due to our unconscious mind, which is in turn to a large extent due to our genetic make-up as opposed to anything we've learnt along the way. and yes, that is a gross over-simplification.

cockroaches are great, but haven't gotten the universe any closer to understanding itself. You could tell me that I’m being shortsighted and that a cockroach’s views are just as valid as mine, but then we’d just have to agree to disagree.

i know full well that information is not the same as memes. but the evolutionary process of memes could continue in the interaction and “minds” of intelligent computers, by which time genes could be extinct.

memes could continue their evolution in the artificial "consciousness" that could exist after a singularity. so i wasn't referring to individual memes, but to the process of their evolution. Of course they are not static.

but yes, my view is very rudimentary, incomplete and naive at best. I was hoping to be taught something about this topic, and you def did, so thanks.

i don't agree that our grasp of genetics and memetics and dynamics is that different. we still know very little about why some people find each other irresistable. just because memetics is still quite an arcane topic, doesn't make it at all less valid than genetics. a 100 years ago we knew nothing about genes either.

thanks, for the compliment on my topic, it’s neat isn’t it? i came up with it all by myself.


rebecca: of course some memes are not benevolent, but religion served its purpose at some stage, just like science is now serving its purpose. and of course memes evolve, again, i was referring to a process that could potentially continue indefinitely, and that is very much dependent and a consequence of the memes that exist today.

now leave me alone everyone, leave me b.

M said...

Note to self: take over universe.
Error: Note already in genes.

Bugger.

M

iv said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
iv said...

Cultural and Genetic evolution

I am probably going to be sued for plagiarism but I have tried not to copy phrases. Excuse my elaborate comment.

For Tinus' benefit:

Dawkins reckons that before 1838 everyone probably had to believe in God or a creator. There was no other explanation before Darwin’s publication of his theories on evolution. I feel consoled by his own childhood delusion when I think of the occasions where something or someone’s existence urged me to think that there had to be a designer. The only designer is the blind replicator, the selfish gene. Genes accidentally created us. This is the truth nobody emphasized in the South African schools I attended, except one teacher. ‘Mrs. Grobler, I salute you!’ She hated my guts, but secretly I had great respect for her.

What created genes?

Dawkins speculates casually that on the young earth there most probably was an abundance of chemical raw materials like water, Carbon Dioxide, Methane and ammonia. Primordial lightning or UV may have catalyzed the formation of a weak brown primeval soup containing more complex molecules like Amino Acids which build proteins (specifically Purines and Pyrimidines which are the building blocks of the genetic molecule, DNA.)

At some point a molecule was formed by a very improbable accident: a Replicator.
This remarkable molecule could replicate itself. The replicator is a template consisting of various building blocks. These building blocks were abundantly available in the soup surrounding the replicators. Each building block had an affinity for its own kind. So, the building block would stick to the part of the replicator for which it had an affinity. This double-chain could then split apart like a zip and the separate chains could act as a replicator each and could form two more copies by allowing the building blocks to attach as before.

This allowed the replicator to spread its copies rapidly. At first lots of identical copies were produced, but then mistakes were made and the primeval soup became filled with several varieties of replicating molecules all descended from the same ancestor.

In DNA, the replicator’s building blocks do not have an affinity for its own kind but for a particular other kind.

Guanine attaches to Cytosine. Thiamine attaches to Adenosine, always.
e.g.
GCTTAC GATTACA CTAATGT
CGAATG CTAATGT GATTACA

So, the replicator acts as a template not for an identical copy, but for a ‘negative’, which could then in turn re-make an exact copy of the original positive.

DNA-copying is very faithful, but, mistakes do occur and it is these mistakes that make evolution possible.
Evolution favours longevity, fecundity and copying-fidelity of the replicating entities.

The primeval soup could not support an infinite number of replicators and so the replicators had to contend for building blocks which eventually became scarce. The process of improvement came about with more miscopying that occurred due to the scarcity of building blocks and other factors. If a very stable replicator was formed, then it was favoured from then onwards. Some of them may even have accidentally discovered (mutated due to mistakes) how to break up rival molecules and to use the rival’s building blocks for personal use.

The replicators that survived were the ones that built ‘survival machines’ or eventually more complex ones like bodies to live in.

So, the replicators are now no longer drifting around in a primordial soup but swarming in colonies inside these machines or bodies, communicating with the body via indirect routes.

They created us body and mind: ‘The blind watchmakers’. (From Dawkins on Paley’s postulation)

The preservation of our genes is the ultimate rationale of our existence or the existence of our minds and bodies.

I could explain exactly how genes are formed. I could explain DNA and chromosomes and genes and the cell divisions that lead to growth in a body (mitosis) and creation of sperm and egg cells in the testes and ovaries (meiosis), but I think most of us know how these processes work. Dawkins defines a gene as a genetic unit that is small enough to last for a number of generations and to be distributed around in the form of many copies. This is an important point as there is a process of cross-over occurring during meiosis when the ovaries and testes form new sperm and egg cells which have only 23 chromosomes in each of them. Each of these sperm or egg cells produced, are entirely unique because this shuffling of the same genetic material produces a sperm cell of 23 chromosomes. Parts of the maternal grandmother and grandfather’s genes are combined to form a grand-daughter sperm-cell which is not identical to the mother cell at all but shares half of the mother cell genes in an entirely different arrangement. So, for every characteristic such as eye-colour to be expressed, a person has two alleles coming from both his/her mother or father and the colour that is expressed is the dominant colour. Brown dominates green which dominates blue (recessive). You may be created from a sperm cell where the paternal grand-mother’s eye-colour dominates and this colour may also dominate over the colour dominating in the 23 chromosomes featured in the egg you originate from which was dominated by your maternal grandfather’s eye-colour. Hence this dominating colour is expressed in you. Your sister may have blue eyes, which is a recessive colour (non-dominating). This means she got both the recessive blue from your paternal grand-father and another recessive blue gene from the maternal grand-mother. You have to inherit two recessive genes to express the recessive characteristic phenotypically. Anyway, it takes much more to explain it simply and sketches would also help…but this is why I am my sister’s antithesis in most regards.

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Instead, I just want to jump to memetics.
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Reminder: “All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities.” R. Dawkins

Dawkins postulates that there is a new kind of replicator on the planet. The new soup is the soup of human culture.

Some examples of memes are: tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, fashions, blind faith which discourages rational inquiry, belief in the after-life etc.

Instead of being copied from a template, it is simply copied via imitation.
Genes propagate by leaping from mother body to child body via sperm and eggs and memes propagate by leaping from brain to brain via imitation or repetition i.e. b hears of a good idea and passes it to Hein who passes it to the rest of the blog.

A fertile meme will parasitize a brain, turning the brain into a vehicle for its propagation.
In genetics, a virus could parasitize a body cell by interfering with the genetic mechanism and could use/manipulate the body’s cells to manufacture its DNA to propagate itself instead of the host body.

In memetics, mutations also occur. The memes change due to all sorts of factors as a word would change in a game of Chinese whispers. Copying-fidelity is therefore an imperative. In this post the outcome of Dawkins’ ideas at the other end of our chain of whispering players is already affected by my gross misconception of some ideas of his. It is also affected by any bias I might have or religious, cultural or moral preconceptions. I do not think of his ideas as unhealthy, however. Being informed about a potentially dangerous or disturbing concept does not necessarily have to affect an individual. I believe in sifting through everything to get to the best possible outcome. Atheism is not lethal. It may in fact be the meme that will benefit our survival most as we cease to make decisions based on our preconceptions and start to make open-minded, informed decisions which actually benefit us in all aspects of our physical and mental lives.

Speaking of religion…
The idea of God is the most potent meme. It probably arose from mutations of other ideas. We don’t know how such an error could have occurred. The spoken and written word and religious music and religious art probably aided its replication. We don’t know why it survived so long, but it did. The idea of a god is a stable meme meaning it lasts long and mutates only gradually. This is probably because of its psychological appeal. It gives a plausible answer to troubling questions about existence and even suggests that the injustices in this world may be rectified in the next life. Thus, the idea of God is copied so readily by successive generations of brains.

We don’t know why genes shaped brains that should find the God meme so appealing.
We also haven’t proved that the God meme can improve gene survival, but it is likely. If I think of how this thought consoled me throughout trials and tribulations…I feel lucky to have been blind to Darwinism until after my studies. Psychotic delusion, or not, I benefited from this imaginary friend, God. I am still standing. Fear of hell, at least curbs suicidal ideation in most Christians.

For 3000 000 000 years, DNA has been the only replicators worth talking about. Now conditions are arising which are allowing the new replicator, memes, to take over.

Memes could influence our survival greatly, because our beliefs due to the ideas and memes we have assimilated could cause us to transcend the genetic imperative to procreate.

Incidentally, if I feel that procreation is obsolete because of over-population, I will have no offspring and my genes will be terminated when I die.
Unfortunately, more educated, wealthy and healthy individuals will be making this informed decision in the future. But, religious memes still forbid contraception and many families have more than 2 children because of this. My decision will probably not improve the situation of overpopulation but will only mean that my crap genes will come to an end at long last (In this way I will improve the universe-I am my own heroine(!?)). Muslim and Catholic countries will probably have bigger families. The religious memes will then be favoured and may dictate who survives and may even lead to a Muslim-dominant world population.
I seem to recall South Africa’s government through SABC television attempting to curb over-population by broadcasting a number of advertisements (more memes) on how economical small families are. A small tribe of lions with three cubs was shown as favoured above a large pack of hyenas with many puppies. I don’t know if this curbed South Africa’s population growth at all, but while I am on the topic I have to add that this is among other reasons, why I propagate the pro-abortion meme and the idea of emergency contraception available to all at a very low cost or even for free.

But should we all follow China’s lead to cull the population or would the practice of this meme then mean that after a devastating natural disaster, a population of sterile women, who lost all their first and only allowed children (e.g. if all schools and universities in the city centre were destroyed in a devastating earthquake as it occurred in Armenia in 1988) would not be able to reproduce again, and that a country could potentially wipe out its population in this way, and a specific civilization could potentially lose its entire younger generation (!?). Who should be prevented from having more than 2 kids and who should not?

I do not think, that by stating that our memes will rule most of our decisions, that we are insisting that we will have better survival than all other creatures because of our mental functioning, but I do believe that we would eventually. In human survival this statement:
‘Without memes, genes would not be able to evolve as quickly and efficiently as they do” will eventually become a truism.

I also agree with Hein’s stance on the lack of a split between body and mind and the great divide between consciousness and its product memes. I do think, however, that memes as the product of consciousness has the ability to affect a person’s conscious thought and is thereby able to affect what your body decides to do: flirtation or interesting conversation. Memes are not just simply information. This is true. But it is information and it is a piece of information that replicates by means of imitation. Just a reminder that the most important concept of this meme is that it is a replicator.

If I should manage to create a conscious super computer program, which is for all intensive purposes able to perform conscious functions exactly as I would have, and to come to the same conclusions as I have and to make the same decisions I would have, then my ideas will be propagated by computers which, if they were installed into robots, able to perform the functions I would have chosen to perform, would then be able to build more robots installed with more personality programs which would then be able to interact with one another to exchange memes and I will eventually rule the world: Hehe
…Excuse this digression and the lengthy sentence (and blog for that matter).

My personality program designed to include almost all of my ideas, my strengths, and advantageous concepts will exchange ideas just as we are doing right now and will improve it‘self’ indefinitely. It would have to have a developed consciousness. (I would definitely leave out all of my negative ideas and any abstract concepts and memes which could have deterred me from operating optimally in my biological life when I design my digital future and my new concept of the ‘after-life’. This is effectively a frontal lobotomy performed digitally leaving me well-adapted.)

Of course the binary code would in a sense then become the alphabet coding for the information of the memes carried within the computer’s control circuitry, memory, I/O and ALU and interconnected by bundles and wires. Mutations would be possible in this program as it would have my clumsy thought-processes programmed into it. Memes would be able to improve and would be able to influence the programs to build better ones. Hein, I do not see how this is not possible. It is just a matter of combining logic and the principles of the advent of the semantics web-age.

Genes would then be superfluous. Physiological bodies will cease to exist because there would be no need for this survival entity.

Let’s return to 2006.

To outline the similarities: Genes build the bodies as their vehicle using sexual reproduction to replicate. Memes manipulate brains as their vehicle using imitation to leap from brain to brain.

Some genes are more successful than others due to natural selection and some memes are more successful due to its appeal to the masses.
-A meme or gene’s longevity (length of survival), fecundity (ability to produce offspring) and copying-fidelity (accuracy) influences its survival and stability.
-Longevity of memes: Mendelssohn’s violin concertos have already survived many generations. Opus 64 may even last into infinity. I doubt, however, that any top 5 song today will have a very long shelf-life.

-Fecundity: The number of bodies built to carry the genes could represent the fecundity of a gene and that of a meme could be measured by counting the number of times it is referred to in successive years in articles e.g. a scientific idea mentioned in a journal or how often a popular tune is whistled on the street or Jewish religious laws’ propagation through potential permanence of written records.

-Copying fidelity: Whether the meme comes out in the offspring after a life- imitates-art game of Chinese whispers as pretty similar to the original meme or whether the gene, by replication through reverse-copying accurately replicates an exact copy.

Memes always compete for television, radio, billboard space, and genes compete for building blocks to dictate growth or replication of the DNA making up the chromosomes which dictate the building design of the body.

Memes and genes may reinforce each other, but they sometimes come into opposition e.g. the habit of celibacy cannot be inherited because this gene would be doomed to failure in the gene pool. But a meme for celibacy could be quite successful. This meme is transmitted from priests to impressionable young choir boys who have not yet decide what to do with their lives.

When we die we will leave behind our genes and memes. Our genes get diluted by generations. After about three generations our genes are unrecognizable. (You may share many of your ancestors’ characteristics but eventually our children’s children would bear no resemblance to them. Our genes are immortal but they get shuffled around and the collection of genes is different soon.

In contrast, however, If you contribute to the world’s culture, by writing poetry, composing or inventing, your idea or meme might live on, in tact, long after your genes have dissolved into the common pool.

Some of the ideas on this blog will probably be seemingly immortal and the survival of the strongest opinion awards the blogger a form of immortality albeit only in the minds of the readers of the archives. (I know this is all just superficial crap to pass the time with…but still…) Mutations may occur but the written copy may stay in tact. Hein, you must admit, this is a form of immortality of an idea or tune or poem or invention, information, or not.

Dawkins states that ‘once the genes have provided their survival machines with brains that are capable of rapid imitation, the memes will automatically take over. We do not even have to posit a genetic advantage in imitation, though that would certainly help. All that is necessary is that the brain should be capable of imitation: memes will then evolve that exploit the capability to the full.’

Selfish genes and memes have no foresight. They are unconscious, blind replicators. A simple replicator, whether gene or meme cannot be expected to forgo short-term selfish advantage even if it would pay it in the long term to do so and all symbiotic cooperation between organisms evolve accidentally and these cooperators will eventually amalgamate into one super organism. We already thrive due to intestinal flora or bacteria benefiting our digestive process.
In contrast:
‘Man’s capacity for conscious foresight could save man from the most selfish excesses of the blind replicators. This foresight may have evolved memetically. We have the power to defy the selfish genes of our birth and to defy the selfish memes of our indoctrination.’

We can even cultivate pure, disinterested, altruism. We can turn against our creators (genes) and we, alone on earth can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators. I find this impossible, however.

There is so much more to discuss. Dawkins said it in 360 pages. I could not dream to summarize it all.

I conclude with that same quote Ian McEwan mentioned:
‘Individuals (human bodies) are not stable things, they are fleeting. Chromosomes too are shuffled into oblivion (during meiosis), like hands of cards soon after they are dealt. But the cards are the genes (the small bits of chromosome which survives and builds bodies). The genes are not destroyed by crossing-over (these small bits of genes were so small that the improbability that the part will be split up during the meiotic shuffling is so small that it does not happen for many generations), they merely change partners and march on.

Of course they march on (from body to body). That is their business (their purpose). They are the replicators and we are their survival machines. When we have served our purpose we are cast aside (we stay behind in tact and our genes are carried over to our children and march on). But genes are denizens of geological time: genes are forever.

Thank you for reading it right through Hein. You are a trooper.

Actually, this summary was supposed to benefit Tinus, but,
I can never seem to convince him to read anything I write. It must be the same selfish genes I have.

I get the message, ol' buddy, ol' pal. Same reason I always failed at Balderdash.

Anyway, I suggest you skip The Selfish Gene if you cannot cope with this summary. The rest is purely survival and combat strategies and a bit of interesting trivia. I suggest that everyone should read the endnotes.

Tinus, if you did arrive at this sentence…collect your gin ‘n tonic at my place ASAP. Leani, you deserve one for being amazing just as you are.

iv said...

Hein

I probably have other memes in mind but I assume that a meme which describes the South African culture i.e. the Braaivleis-pap-en-wors-bier-en-boepens-mentality could determine how we define ourselves. Just like the description of white trash or trailer trash sort of defines the Americans who are born into this squalor. It is due to the age-old class system that I believe memes could determine the future for some people and occurances.

Love could also be seen as a meme because the only use of love is to cause us to pause momentarily aside a potential partner and to consider the opportunity to procreate. Considering that I may not consider this genetic impulse, the concept of love clearly determines something entirely different in my case and this is the power of a meme.

It could predict that I will pause anyway...perhaps pause forever or if I should take my psychologist's advice, pause only to brush the dust off my shoes...

Love is not a science, but language follows rules and the laws of causality. I think language determines a lot of things if you look at the impact of regional accents and dialects. A posh accent could ensure future success and anything else will relegate one to middle class hell in the UK. I think of 'Six degrees of separation'. I guess his accent made connections if anything.

Some memes shape axioms and others only hypothesise.

Considering that every scientific theory is a meme, it does seem to determine just about everything already: architecture, engineering, art, etc. Need I continue?

Dawkins drew a brilliant comparison by introducing this new replicating entity because consciousness is overtaking genetics.

If you obey the ten commandments, then you should not respond to the genetic imperative that encourages promiscuity. You would also not desire the best and you may even disregard your biological need to hate your neighbour. You could actually forgive and forget merely because a meme directs you to. This protects you from AIDS, but you get the second-best biological partner and you have a fake friendship which leaves everyone unsatisfied anyway...what more should memes prove to predict?

The God-meme mutates all the time all over the world and a new god-idea springs up everyday. Sometimes these mutations are just so incompatible with life that they self-destruct. One would think that if enough Muslims turn radical, then they would all be suicide bombers and then they would all die and the radical muslim meme might die...but I suppose a new extremist movement would just pop up in its place like the Heathers. Still, most small cults, requiring literal self-sacrifice, obviously ends in mass-suicide and therefore this meme self-destructs.
Some of this mutations are even predictable if you study the religious patterns over the millenia. Read Dennett's Breaking the Spell.

I have just recently discovered this concept, but, whilst my understanding develops gradually, I expect it to progress at the speed of cosmic inflation in the collective unconscious as soon as the meme 'MEME' catches on.

I will keep watching this space...

iv said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dan from ideasandhowtheyspread.com said...

That ran pretty long. I can't think of anything to add.