Monday, November 03, 2008

Memes & "Temes"

I watched this Susan Blackmore video over at TED. It's interesting, but what I don't understand, and explain, please, is the way in which she endows "memes" (which she defines as "that which wants to be imitated") with intention. She defines meme pretty broadly (any habit you have which you didn't invent is pretty much a meme), so, tell me, how can the meme itself want to be replicated? (like, running, for example)

Watch and explain.


susansinclair said...

I "must, must" stop listening to this. I'm leery of any effort to apply Darwin's theories universally to human behavior.

Maybe it's just my skepticism. Maybe she'd appreciate that, eh? But I distrust anyone giving slick lectures on big stages.

theorris said...

Memes are big in modern biological studies. Dawkins is fascinated by them, despite his hate for all things post modern. He thinks everything but memes are gobbledygook. Biologists, being the good materialist scientists they are desire a natural explanation of why we do what we do and why things like "memes" develop despite seemingly little contact between organisms. They are completely uncomfortable with any sort of spirituality, so that is rejected out-of-hand.

Given that I can't watch the videos for whatever reason, I'm only guessing on what is being said.

Have you heard about the monkeys on the desert islands who seem to figure out how to do the same things at about the same time without having any contact at all with each other?

Lisa B. said...

I haven't watched this yet, and won't tonight because it's getting late, but am looking forward to it . . . have wondered what in the hell people mean when they talk about memes--thought I'd grasped it and now the comments suggest I have more to learn. Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

The whole meme thing is interesting: The idea that as humans we are coevolving our brains both by material constraints and the concepts that those brains think about. Beyond that, the problem with evolutionary thinking is that it is a great idea, but it is very difficult one to use predictively in any substantial way for human beings. There are numerous books speculating what the evolutionary pressures that crated human language (see The Symbolic Species), but they are all ad hoc explanations that can never be tested. V.S. Ramachandran has written about how easy it is to come up with a plausable evolutionary explanation for just about anything (why men prefer blonds, ect...). Most of those explanations are garbage. Although some have used evolutionary thinking to explain why we tend to have so much mental illness (see Why We Get Sick, notice familial relation)

When you get down to molecular biology there are some more substantial research on how dna genes are not just a static code, but a dynamically regulated set of instructions, where experience (on a molecular level) sets how and how much genes are transcribed, and how the resulting proteins are folded up and function. Many genes actually don't do anything but regulate other genes (see Gene regulatory network Wiki article)

But the above is real science. The TED lectures are pop psychology, part of a "brand," if you will, for a certain class of people (who work as web designers or something) and consider themselves to be part of some Technocratic Elite of Jet Setters, all with subscriptions to Wired Magazine. Sorry, the whole "Teme" thing is just retarded. I am saddened that we that lady was wasting energy inventing a new nomenclature do describe why folding toilet tissue in bathrooms is trendy.