Literature on memetics?

post by moridinamael · 2019-11-07T19:18:05.748Z · score: 16 (8 votes) · LW · GW · No comments

This is a question post.


    4 m_arj
    3 rsaarelm
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In certain circles, it's common to talk about memes as entities, in a metaphorical and handwaving way. But it seems to me that thinking rigorously and precisely about memes in the framework of "memes::genes, memeplexes::infectious agents, minds::hosts" actually has a lot of explanatory and predictive power. This kind of thing ought to be a tool in the rationalist toolkit. In the space of politics, for example, it can be very illuminating to strip away the content of an idea and analyze it purely as a replicator, or as a component of a larger replicator conferring a specific fitness advantage.

A cursory online search for existing literature on memetics reveals that the field is about as confused as you would expect. But perhaps I am going about my search in the wrong way. Is there another field that encompasses the kind of thing I am gesturing at here?


answer by m_arj · 2019-11-08T23:00:13.411Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Meme Machine by Susan Blackmore.

answer by rsaarelm · 2019-11-09T07:21:30.458Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I remember a sort of consensus from the 00s that memetics had failed as a research program and the big-name people like Dawkins and Blackmore moving on to other stuff. Here's one summary I found. People still find the metaphor compelling, so it might just be that right now nobody has a good idea how to study the thing rigorously.

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