Re: MEMETICS: The Triumph of Reason

Keith Henson (
Mon, 20 Jan 1997 19:24:09 -0800 (PST)

On Tue, 21 Jan 1997, Damien Broderick wrote:

> At 08:47 PM 1/19/97 -0800, Mr Willow wrote:
> >James Roger wrote:
> >===
> >The strength of these bad memes is more apparent than actual. By
> >definition, a "bad" meme is one that at some fundamental level is
> >incorrect, inadequate, or counterproductive.
> >===
> >
> >Really? Another definition of bad meme could be that it interferes with
> >my goals. Dogmatism and conformity could be bad for me but good for
> >most other people. Or to blend this with your definition:
> >counterproductive of what?
> If `meme' has any degree of rigour (which I rather doubt), a `bad meme', by
> definition, is simply one that fails to reproduce itself, while a `good
> meme' is one whose replication approaches maximal inclusive fitness. To
> confound the *content* of the meme with its worth (as assayed by some other
> memetic gauge) is to miss the point completely. My 2$s worth.

You miss the primary thing Richard Dawkins introduced to this type of
discussion, that of viewpoint. "Good" or "bad" have to be seen as
dependent on some viewpoint, rather than some fixed meaning. A meme can
be a "good" from its own viewpoint if it propagates, and bad from the
viewpoint of the gene it may inhibit from propagating. Memes can be good
or bad depending on the viewpoint of some mind (shaped by both genes and
memes) and *often* one person's good meme is another's bad meme.

Keith Henson