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Internet Meme

Discussion in 'Psychology and Sociology' started by Joe, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. Preacherbob

    Preacherbob Well-Known Member Unclaimed IQ

    I believe I started a thread here a number of years ago that questioned adaptation versus adoption which might have some distinct relevance here.
    To adapt to an idea, psychological premise, philosophy, cultural dictation or what have you doesn't necessarily include a biological or even mental change but merely the ability to live within a new and changing atmosphere.
    Adoption on the other hand insists that relevant changes be made in order to be fully inclusive to a given atmosphere.

    In the 60's I learned to adapt to the idea of men wearing long hair.
    In the late 70's I adopted the idea and started wearing long hair.
    In the 80's I had to adapt to the idea that I was losing my hair.
    In the 90's I adopted the situation and quit cursing about hair loss. :)
    marom, Vince and Chuck like this.

  2. Chuck

    Chuck Active Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    Overall a reasonable perspective.
  3. atmh4

    atmh4 Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    Hi Again.

    Im not sure if you are interested in having a discussion. So I'm just going to assume that you are.

    As Richard Dawkins explained in his book The Selfish Gene, natural selection is not really about the survival of the species. Nor is it even about the survival of the group or the individual. But rather the survival of the individual gene. More over, natural selection does not "select" those genes that are most adapted to their environment, but rather those genes that are best at spreading through a population at the expense of its rivals (alelles).

    "To see why, consider this thought experiment. Imagine an island on which the total number of birds of a particular species would be maximized if they nested at, say, the beginning of April. The explanation for why a particular date is optimal will refer to various trade-offs involving factors such as temperature, the prevalence of predators, the availability of food and nesting materials, and so on. Suppose that initially the whole population has genes that cause them to nest at that optimum time. That would mean that those genes were well adapted to maximizing the number of birds in the population – which one might call ‘maximizing the good of the species’. Now suppose that this equilibrium is disturbed by the advent of a mutant gene in a single bird which causes it to nest slightly earlier – say, at the end of March. Assume that when a bird has built a nest, the species’ other behavioural genes are such that it automatically gets whatever cooperation it needs from a mate. That pair of birds would then be guaranteed the best nesting site on the island – an advantage which, in terms of the survival of their offspring, might well outweigh all the slight disadvantages of nesting earlier. In that case, in the following generation, there will be more March-nesting birds, and, again, all of them will find excellent nesting sites. That means that a smaller proportion than usual of the April-nesting variety will find good sites: the best sites will have been taken by the time they start looking. In subsequent generations, the balance of the population will keep shifting towards the March-nesting variants. If the relative advantage of having the best nesting sites is large enough, the April-nesting variant could even become extinct."
    David Deutsch
    The Beginning of Infinity

    Thus the original situation that we imagined – with genes that were optimally adapted to maximizing the population (‘benefiting the species’) – is unstable. There will be evolutionary pressure to make the genes become less well adapted to that function. In short, natural selection favours those genes that get themselves copied at the expense of their rivals. Even if it is at the expense of the population at large. This is the sense in which meme evolution resembles gene evolution. If a meme is better at spreading through a population than its rivals, it will do so. Even if that meme is detrimental to its hosts. One important thing to notice here is that individual bodies don't spread genes, genes spread themselves by creating bodies that can do the spreading. The same is true of memes. Memes spread themselves, and they get their hosts to spread them.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  4. Vince

    Vince Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    Thank you for your reply. I do want to have a discussion about it but don't always have the time.
    So in order to minimize our dialogue let me ask you this:
    You or the author are saying that genes are to life what cultural memes are to culture, in a sense that genes and memes self replicate inaccurately to perpetuate the coherence and existence of each system, respectively life and culture, because both have to adapt to a constantly changing environment.
    Am I correct? You say genes and memes resemble each other, which is different than saying they are the same thing in regard to the system they are part of.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
    Cornucopia, Chuck and atmh4 like this.
  5. atmh4

    atmh4 Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    No not quite. Forgive me if I am not correct, but I think it might be helpful to go over a few preliminaries about genes and alleles.

    Consider the gene that specifies eye colour. We know that eyes are usually either green, brown or blue. Sometimes, they can be exotic colours like purple, hazel or turquoise. But for the moment, let's just assume that there are only three of them. You can think of these colours as 'alleles' of the eye colour gene; as different versions of the same gene. So for example, blue is an allele. So is green! In fact, all three colours are alelles of the same gene. Now, remember when I said that natural selection favours those genes that can spread themselves at the expense of their rivals. What I actually meant is that natural selection favours those ALLELES that are the best at spreading through a population at the expense of its rival ALLELES. In the case of eye colour, natural selection will favour the colour -- or allele -- that successfully spreads through the human population at the expense of its rival colours.

    When I said that genes are the same as memes, I meant that they are similar in the sense I described above. If you replace the word 'allele' with the word 'variation', you can state the similarity as follows: "cultural selection favours those 'variations' that are best at spreading through a population". Memes have variations, and each is competing for a spot in as many minds as possible. Those memes -- or variations -- that are best at spreading themselves at the expense of their rival variations will survive and become cultural norms. Does this make sense to you?
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
    Vince likes this.
  6. Vince

    Vince Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    It does. Would my above statement be correct if I replace genes by alleles?
    Memes are to culture what alleles are to life?
    atmh4 likes this.
  7. atmh4

    atmh4 Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    Oh I think it's ok to stick with gene instead of allele. Both work I guess. Why's that?
    Vince likes this.
  8. Vince

    Vince Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    What do mean? Are you asking "why is that that they both work"?
    atmh4 likes this.
  9. atmh4

    atmh4 Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    Haha no. I mean why are asking about the analogy. I thought you might have something to add, or to criticize?
    Vince likes this.
  10. Vince

    Vince Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    Yes, I need to know what the exact analogy is. I do have something to add, I can even answer your last question. But you might have to wait a few hours.

    I'm going to tease by saying that I do agree with the author if this is the analogy we're talking about, but I'm going to take a big chance with you guys by saying that what he's telling us is hardly noteworthy.
    I might make a few enemies but that's ok, I still have plenty of blank pages to fill up in my war book.:)

    By the way, seriously I'm glad you asked about discussions. I come here to have discussions, not debates. I love to learn why I'm wrong.
    Be back in a few.
    atmh4 likes this.
  11. Vince

    Vince Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    Most self organizing systems based originally on living matter, at most levels of complexity, will have their individual elements exhibit a self replicating behavior.
    So I'm not surprised. However I'd like to why it happens.
    That was the short explanation.
    Do you want the long one?

    In all honesty, I guess I somehow want to disagree with the author so I don't have to quote his name all the time.
    atmh4 likes this.
  12. atmh4

    atmh4 Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    Hi Vince

    If I am understanding you correctly, what you are essentially saying is: "Living, self organising systems are usually capable of self replication. This fact is itself unsurprising". I happen to agree with this, indeed it is not surprising that living systems can self replicate. In fact, it is not even surprising that non-living physical systems can self replicate. Consider a crystal and it's infinitely repeating structure. It IS surprising, however, that non-living abstract systems -- like cultures -- can self replicate. We usually think of people as replicating culture through communication. But if David Deutsch is correct, then it is actually culture that replicates itself. Culture tells us what to do and how to communicate, not the other way around. Moreover, it is not primarily self replication I commented on before, but rather evolution. Remember, I was comparing the evolution of culture with the evolution of living organisms. Self replication is merely a side concept.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
    Vince likes this.
  13. Vince

    Vince Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    No, I mean the invidual components of a self organizing system based on living matter, will self replicate.

    I don't believe systems based on non living matter have self replicating elements but I think we're on the same page. I'll be back later with more comments.
  14. atmh4

    atmh4 Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    Yes I know. But as I stated above, this particular truth is not so important. What's important is that no-physical abstract entities can replicate. This truth IS surprising.
    Vince likes this.
  15. Vince

    Vince Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    I think we're essentially saying the same thing, I'm to blame for the lack of clarity.

    When I said
    The part in bold was meant to include abstract thoughts that come from a living human brain. It was unclear, ambiguous at best. In retrospective, I remember being lazy on that part, I wanted to say it better but didn't want to spend the time.

    Also, I mention self replication and you mention evolution. I think the latter is the change that occurs to individual self replicating elements over time. A system sustains itself against environmental changes with the help of diversification. We're talking about the same thing.
    I like to look at self replication because I can see the parallel with a cultural meme. An idea is passed onto another brain, it has now self replicated and exists in 2 locations.

    Well, this is where I also made a mistake. I have seen these evolutionary "patterns" before, as a matter of fact that's all I see, a bunch of systems put together like russian dolls, where the dolls don't look the same and you can't always tell why. There are many examples of this analogy with the evolution of life, and the one I know well is about how music evolves, I'll spare you the details but it's similar to how life evolves.
    My mistake was to say earlier that it wasn't noteworthy, I should have said that it wasn't newsworthy to me.

    So yes it is a surprising fact of nature, but not anymore as far as I'm concerned. The news would be to know why it exists. Since I have no explanation, I'm tempted, maybe falsely, to think that the reason is that the common denominator to all these systems is the observer.
    Also things may look the same for unrelated reasons. I see in the thread that the evolution of life is described at length, culture not as much, because it is more complex I guess? It would be great to put them side by side.

    Finally, back to the various systems, it is interesting to notice that while non living structures or systems are subjected to entropy, living matter seem to be slowing down the process, like it is fighting back.
  16. Creedinger

    Creedinger Well-Known Member IQ: 120+

    I think the trick is to realize that in the analogy humans are only the medium in which memes exist and evolve. So the fitness function is applied to the meme soly by asking "how well did this meme spread?".
    For it to spread atmh4 explained that the spread by the medium. If it is good or bad for the fitness function of the medium is absolutly irrelevant. It is only irrelevant that it is spread.

    Please read Richard Dawkins "the selfish gene". It is really an eye opener for how natural selection works. The term "beneficial" here really only means "the gene or meme spreads well". You can understand all evolutionary processes by asking the question: "How did this successful mutation has increased the chance of the gene to spread?" All of what we are as .... living beings ... is only a byproduct on the genes thrive to spread :)

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