March 31, 2015

8:32 PM | Time after Time: Music and Memory in the Group
Or, messing around in one another’s mind space for fun and funk This is about a simple, but profound, matter: that we cannot always and reliably access the contents of our own minds. In some circumstances we need external prompts. For reasons that I’ll have to explain in a later post, this absolutely sinks the […]

March 30, 2015

3:15 PM | Memetics is Dead but What’s the Study of Cultural Evolution Otherwise About?
In the waning years of the previous century an online journal for serious work in cultural evolution was established: Journal of Memetics – Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission. The first issue came out in 1997 and the last in 2005. The journal closed for lack of interest; it wasn’t getting enough high-quality submissions. In the […]

March 26, 2015

11:54 AM | Q: Why is the Dawkins Meme Idea so Popular?
A: Because it is daft. I believe there are two answers to that question. For most people it’s convenient. That requires one explanation, which I’ll run through first. For some people, however, memetics is more than convenient. Some, including Dawkins himself and his philosophical acolyte, Dan Dennett, use it as a way of explaining religion. […]

March 06, 2015

4:33 PM | A Note on Dennett’s Curious Comparison of Words and Apps
I continue to think about Dan Dennett’s inadequate account of words-as-memes in his paper, The Cultural Evolution of Words and Other Thinking Tools (PDF), Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, Volume LXXIV, pp. 1-7, 2009. You find the same account in, for example, this video of a talk he gave in 2011: “A Human […]
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