Replies to some critics of “Memetics as a pseudo-science” (Part 1 of 4: Hallpike 2004)

How do you solve a problem like Memetics..? Read on…

So, since Memetics began in 1976 (The Selfish Gene, Dawkins), as the idea of Memetics has evolved, there have been a number of articles that have previously criticized Memetics for being a pseudo-science.

And – rightly so…

That is because: previously, it was. (ie Memetics was previously a pseudo-science. Prior to 2013, nobody had yet universally identified the meme, the unit of culture.)

See this book chapter:

Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `The Holon/Parton Theory of the Unit of Culture (or the Meme, and Narreme): In Science, Media, Entertainment and the Arts.‘ In A. Connor & S. Marks (Eds.), Creative Technologies for Multidisciplinary Applications. New York: IGI Global.

However – now that in 2013, and again (repeated) in 2016 we have (1) identified the meme, and (2) provided a scientific paradigm for Memetics, so – it feels as if – we should revisit some of the key articles that have previously criticized Memetics, and see if there are still any `holes’ in it that need fixing / which exact problems in Memetics now need addressing/solving.

Four of the prior `key articles’ critical of Memetics are:

(1) Memetics: a Darwinian pseudo-science. C. R. Hallpike (2004): http://hallpike.com/Memetics.%20A%20Darwinian%20pseudo-science.pdf

(2) “Memes as pseudoscience.” The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience (2002): 664 – Polichak, James W. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=Gr4snwg7iaEC&pg=PA664&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

(3) “Memetics: A dangerous idea.” Interciencia 26.1 (2001): 29-31. Benítez-Bribiesca, Luis  http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=33905206

(4) “Spare Me Your Memes” (1996) Jaron Lanier debates Charles Simonyi and Mike Godwin on the concept and value of Memes http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge1.html

So – I’ll aim to address these criticisms one by one. Note that, below, I am quoting the author of the critical article below, in

Note that, below, I am quoting the author of the critical article below, in bold.

Starting with:

(1) Memetics: a Darwinian pseudo-science. C. R. Hallpike (2004)

And for anyone reading the following refutation of these criticisms, what I recommend is that, if you first read these two posts:

  1. StoryAlity #100 – The Holonic Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture
  2. StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology

And this chapter:

Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `The Holon/Parton Theory of the Unit of Culture (or the Meme, and Narreme): In Science, Media, Entertainment and the Arts.‘ In A. Connor & S. Marks (Eds.), Creative Technologies for Multidisciplinary Applications. New York: IGI Global.

And then – read the following refutation (everything below, and there is a lot of it), and, then – go and read the actual `critical paper’ itself (e.g., say, Hallpike, in the example below.)

That way – as you finally do read the Hallpike (2004) paper (just for example) you will already know, as you read it, why he is (now, in 2013 and again in 2016) no longer correct – about each point that I note (i.e. – each criticism he makes, that , in 2013, and again in 2016, we can now refute) below.

(By the way – importantly, many of these identifications of the flaws in Memetics, back in 2004 – at the time – were indeed correct-! Nobody back then had explained Memetics – as we have now done in 2013. And again in 2016.)

So – to be fair, I only published the above two papers on `The Holonic Structure of the Meme‘ and `A Science of Memetic Culturology‘ in 2013 – and so – in context – Hallpike (2004) is of course, (rightly) referring to the problems with Memetics that existed – back in 2004.

This refutation below, shows why – all those prior criticisms from 2004 about `Memetics is currently a pseudoscience’ no longer apply (as of: 2013) to the Domain of Memetics; Why and How all of these problems Hallpike notes below – are actually solved by my own synthesis of various theories, in Memetics.

So – let us begin the detailed refutation of these (now out-dated) criticisms…

First of all –

Hallpike (2004) says: “Whereas Mendel’s idea of the gene derived from specific problems in the heredity of plants, the idea of the meme was not stimulated by any specific research problems in the social sciences.” (p 2)

– This is now (i.e.: – in 2013) no longer relevant or correct. But actually – it was also incorrect in 2004, and even in 1976, back before Hallpike had even said it, this point was still wrong…

In 1976, when Dawkins first proposed the `meme’ (in Chapter 11 of The Selfish Gene), the Social Sciences were – at the time – unable to explain `what Culture is exactly’, because: they also did not know what `the unit of culture’ was, nor what culture itself was, nor – How it works (the mechanism, and its laws, for example the laws of holarchies).

And I note – there is still currently, no consensus across all Domains/Disciplines on “What Culture is”.

See van Peer et al 2007, in Muses and Measures, where they state “As far as can be seen, there is no consensus on the notion of culture anywhere to be found.’ (Peer, Hakemulder & Zyngier 2007, p. 30) )

So – there were indeed many – and massive – problems in the social sciences – about Culture – when Dawkins officially proposed the idea of the unit of culture (the meme) back in 1976.

In fact – technically, some of those problems still exist, in the Social Sciences.

i.e.: Until they actually see, the Velikovsky 2013 paper, Ethologists (and Cultural Anthropologists, Cultural Theorists, etc) will likely remain unsettled (i.e. – without a consensus) on the questions of “What is Culture?” and even on questions like: “Do animals have culture?”

(Again, this comes back to the fact: prior to Velikovsky 2013, Nobody really identified specifically, and `atomistically’ What `Culture’ was, exactly.)

But – if memes are: ideas, processes and products – then yes, some animals do indeed have culture. Animals can use tools – and can solve problems, and these ideas can also spread among animals, by imitation: as one example, see Kohler’s famous experiments with Koko and also Sultan the chimpanzees. (See: Koestler 1964) Please note – humans are also animals.

One key point is, some people often start a declaration with “What separates humans from the other animals is…” but this is ignoring that humans are animals and are not truly separate from them. It is a spectrum, whereby animals (chimpanzees, dolphins, dogs, etc) also show evidence of culture (of ideas, processes and products that can spread – by learning/imitation). Memes are solutions to problems that are learned and passed along, and animals can solve problems, and learn habits and behaviours (memes: ideass, processes, products) .

The key point here is, Hallpike is incorrect when he says: “the problem [of `what memes are’] was not stimulated by problems in the social sciences.”

– It was totally a problem in the Social Sciences! – Not just in 1976, but back in 1952, and much earlier as well.

Culture (what it is, and what its `unit’ is, etc) was always one of the key domain problems in the Social Sciences, in fact, and – anyone can find overwhelming evidence of this – everywhere in the Social Sciences, prior to Dawkins, 1976.

Note: the 150+ varying definitions of culture in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions, Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952).

So – if that lack of consensus on `What culture is’ is (or: was) not a problem in the Social Sciences – then I don’t know what was-! it was in fact, one of the key domain problems in the Social Sciences. Hallpike is, for some reason, ignoring this fact.

Note just exactly how many Social Scientists are listed in (Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952) – including even Talcott Parsons – one of the most famous and influential social scientists-(!)

So – in short, Hallpike is incorrect here. – It was indeed a massive problem in the Social Sciences, that: nobody could actually agree on, What Culture was (and especially on – the unit of culture, which is also now called – the meme).

– The fact that Dawkins named `memes’ takes nothing away from the fact the Social Sciences were at that point, totally lost on: `culture’.

(And – for the most part, until they read Velikovsky 2013, they likely are still – to this day – lost on it! Again – see van Peer et al 2007, where they state “As far as can be seen, there is no consensus on the notion of culture anywhere to be found.’ (Peer, Hakemulder & Zyngier 2007, p. 30) ) – Seriously.

Back to Hallpike (2004): next point…

On the contrary, it [the idea of memes] was proposed by biological theorists and philosophers with no background in the social sciences, but who, in the pursuit of an ideological agenda, wished to apply neo-Darwinian theory to human society. The history of the meme (and similar concepts) shows that it is the expression of a World View, a whole philosophy of life which believes that natural selection is the algorithm
that explains not just biological evolution, but emergent order of every kind, Universal Darwinism.

This is all incorrect, too.

(1) Dawkins is an ethologist. Many animals (e.g. primates, bees, ants, etc) are social – and Dawkins is, actually, a social scientist – by being an ethologist. And – sorry if this disappoints (or shocks) anyone, but: humans are primates (animals), and we are 98% chimpanzee, when you look at our genes. Also – for more on memes and social behaviours: read Hierarchy In The Forest (Boehm 1999). As I say, there is a spectrum that spreads across primates. There is not a clear `dividing line’ where we can say “Only humans have culture.” We can see how culture is present in other animals (even wasps can solve problems) but it is the case that human culture is more complex than animal culture. A chimp using a tool is the same problem-solving technique as humans sending a person to the moon; the complexity of the tools is the only difference.

(2) As to “in the pursuit of an ideological agenda,” No – that is also incorrect. – It was not `the pursuit of an ideological agenda’ that led Dawkins to first propose the idea of memes. – He had simply noticed a real-world phenomenon (and – he was not even the first to notice it, as Darwin clearly mentions it many times in Origin, 1859, and I am pretty sure – from the oldest literature – that all human societies had noticed that “things spread — and change over time – in culture”: ideas, words, languages, etc. That’s self-evident.)

So – ideas, processes and products spread in culture – and, ideas are (clearly) transmitted between minds.

Dawkins (1976) was simply commenting on, a real phenomenon: Ideas, processes and products spread in culture…! (e.g. songs, jokes, ways of weaving baskets, ways of landing a human on the moon, etc.)

So – the next question that everyone has to ask is: Why? And exactly, How? (ie – Why and How does Culture evolve?)

That is not “an ideological agenda”; it is an attempt to answer a valid question. And Dawkins was also taking a calculated risk by speculating on that (memes), in The Selfish Gene (1976).

And – as it turns out, he was right! Ideas processes and products do spread in culture. And they are somewhat like a biological virus.

And – likewise, in my view, nobody in Memetics pursues an `ideological agenda’ just for the sake of doing it: There is a very good reason behind it – namely, seeking the exact answer/s to the questions: `What exactly is culture? And – How does culture work? And – why does it exist?’

The fact that it (culture) evolves in exactly the same way as biological evolution (via: selection, variation [e.g.: combination, mutation], and transmission-with-heredity) isn’t: anyone trying to `shoehorn’ Culture into `Universal Darwinism’…

– If the process of both Biology and Culture is indeed `evolution’ (which – Koestler (1964, 1967), Csikszentmihalyi (1988-2006) and Simonton (2004) among many others have clearly demonstrated to be true) – then – What is the problem?

Universal Darwinism is not “a philosophy of Life”; it is just: Science. – It is real. It is observable: Culture evolves. Calling it “philosophy” here, as Hallpike does, is just rhetoric – to try and make it sound like, it’s an idea “imposed on reality.”

When the Reality displays that: Culture evolves via selection, variation and transmission-with-heredity – What else are you going to call it? It’s `Universal Darwinism’; or Universal Evolution; or Universal Creativity.

– If you don’t realize that – then possibly, you are in some kind of denial.

An important side-note on Blackmore (i.e. on: The Meme Machine: 1999) (by JTV)

Re: Some of Susan Blackmore’s theories on memes. Now – while I do like some of her ideas (i.e. I mean – some of them would appear to be true, given the evidence) I do happen to agree, that Blackmore in The Meme Machine (1999) appears to go too far, when she states, this point, exactly: “we have to think of them as autonomous selfish memes, working only to get themselves copied.”.

This notion would give memes (ideas, processes, products) themselves, agency/intention. Sorry – but I don’t think that’s right… Memes (ideas, processes, products) are just solutions to problems. They get copied (spread to other minds) because: they work (i.e. they solve problems, for those who own the minds, that they are inside).

If they (memes/ideas/processes/products) work – and/or, if they appeal to human predispositions (as in  – Pinker’s `strawberry cheesecake – for the mind’, and/or body) then – they will clearly get copied more…

An example: Why did the idea of Darwinian Evolution (i.e. – any scientific theory is an idea, a meme, a holon) spread, in culture? (e.g. In Biology, and also in pop culture)…? Why did Newton’s theory of gravity? (which I note has since been vastly improved upon, e.g. gravitrons)

Answer: Because – it is (currently) a better solution to the problem of: How Life/Reality Works than any other we currently have.

Also – so, Why did Coke become so popular? – Well for one thing – it originally used to have cocaine in it, back when Freud and the likes were campaigning that, cocaine was a `miracle drug’. But later, even without the cocaine (instead, with: caffeine) it has still grown/spread – so – if the public taste didn’t find that Coke solved the problems that it solves (eg: thirst, and that it tastes good, and gives a mild `buzz’, and a sugar-rush, and is not too expensive to buy) then – in the same way that any soft drink that doesn’t solve problems as well, it would then become unpopular – and just like many other soft drinks (which are memes: ideas, processes, products) have done, it would also disappear (or – `go extinct’ – as a meme/idea/process/product). Csikszentmihalyi even makes this exact point about New Coke (Csikszentmihalyi 1996).

Moving on to the next point by Hallpike:

“2. What evidence is there that memes exist at all?” (p3)

Vast amounts. Culture is all around you. Memes are ideas, processes, products. And ideas, processes and products are all real. The evidence is all around you. And even – inside you.

(Any idea – in your mind – is a potential meme. As soon as any idea is transmitted to another mind – by whatever means – that meme has been copied. It’s called `transmission-with-heredity’.)

Back to Hallpike:

But the well-known examples of memes that are often produced – tunes, catchphrases, ways of making pots, God, ten-second-slow-downs by drivers causing traffic jams, and Darwinian theory – suggest that we are indeed in the presence of ‘an arbitrary unit of analysis’, and defining the meme still remains a basic problem for memetics.

Not any more, Velikovsky has solved it – in 2013.

Hallpike says:

After examining some attempts to say what memes are, Aunger concludes: ‘even this brief foray into attempts at defining memes suggests there is disarray at a fundamental level in the subject’. (2000:7)

This was correct. Important: A definition of `the unit of culture’ – the meme – is no longer arbitrary. It is now finite, definite, concrete, and precise.

See this post. This is a clear and unambiguous definition of the meme. It is: a holon.

“it seems clear that a meme must at least be some generic type of bounded entity, and its proponents must be able to tell us how to recognize one.”

Yes, precisely – see that same post, defining the meme. Hallpike is correct. A holon (the structure of a holon) is indeed – exactly – a generic type of bounded entity. – It is very specific.

A meme is an idea, process or product. It is a holon, when it is in a human mind. (It is also a holon – as a process – or as a product.) Words are holons. So are sentences. So are films, novels, jokes, and religions. They are holons, and holarchies. They are memes.

Hallpike says:

But while human society, technology, and culture are much less rigid in their organization than are physical organisms, with a great deal of variability and dysfunction, they still have no resemblance to soup. They are very complex systems, with intricate chains of causality, but memeticists, like Darwinians generally, are utterly indifferent to how systems work.

Incorrect. Hallpike is here confusing the use of the word `soup’. – If there is a `gene pool’, then it too is (conceptually) somewhat like: `soup’. The `meme pool’ is the term for all Culture. If you can conceive of all genes as a `gene-pool’, as a `soup’  floating in space-time, then – by the exact same token – you can do the same for all memes, floating in space-time. Also – memes are ideas (holons) in human minds. (Also in some other animals’ minds, actually.)

Of course, genes – at any given time are in DNA – in people (and – animals). Memes are in minds, and are also ideas, processes and products.

The `soup’ analogy is apparently confusing Hallpike – but if you can conceive a `gene pool’ as an entity (in fact, as a holon) that is like a soup – then logically, you should be able to swap in a `meme pool’ – using the same concept.

But I note – if you think this particular Memeticist (i.e. – JT Velikovsky) is “utterly indifferent to how systems work”, then – please note (or: try and `explain away’, exactly why) I used the systems model of creativity to explain memes: i.e. – What they are – and How they work, in Culture.

Please also note – I’ve also been a Game Designer for over 20 years – and that work involves: a lot of complex systems, and systems design, and interacting systems and algorithms.

Please also note – the agent-based model that I created: to explain Creativity in the Film industry – which uses the systems model (Csikszentmihalyi 1988-2006) as its entire underlying basis.

What this suggests to me is that – Hallpike probably always (intuitively) knew on some level, that: systems were involved in Creativity/Culture. For this reason – everyone really should read all of Csikszentmihalyi’s work on the systems model of creativity. (From 1988, onwards, and especially the book Creativity, 1996.)

Note that: memes are at the centre of the systems model of creativity/Culture. Just as – genes are at the centre of the systems model of Biology. Csikszentmihalyi mentions memes 7 times in Creativity (1996) and by odd coincidence EO Wilson mentions memes (units of culture) 7 times in Consilience (1998).

Note – this is not an `analogy’ to say `memes are like genes’: within their overlapping systems (Biology, and Culture) – it is exactly the same process.

It is: Meme – or gene – selection, variation (i.e. combination) and transmission-with-heredity.

And – just as genes can mutate (e.g. due to radiation, or copying errors) so too memes (ideas, processes, products) can – and do – mutate. It is the same process.

Hallpike says:

It is, or should be, obvious to any scientist that it is totally inappropriate to represent organized systems – societies, knowledge structures, languages, machines, bodies, and so on – simply as populations of bits and pieces, meme-soup, because this ignores all the causal relationships between the bits and pieces that make the system what it is.

This is nonsense. – Nobody has ever said that: the meme-pool (culture) was just a pile of inanimate soup, with no causal relationships between the parts of all the various interconnected systems. This totally ignores the DIFi (Domain, Individual, Field, interaction) systems model of Creativity in culture (Csikszentmihalyi 1988-onwards).

Just as – nobody has ever said the gene pool (including genotypes and phenotypes – and populations of organisms, and biospheres) is like that, either (ie – ignoring causal relationships in biology). – Why is Hallpike even suggesting this? This is nonsense. Nobody is ignoring systems – nor cause and effect. (Well, at least – I am certainly not.) See: Velikovsky 2013. Without the systems model of creativity – and cause-and-effect in there, there is no explanation for: Culture, Creativity and Memes. Causal relationships – and systems models – are crucial to all of this.

In the same way, counting the relative frequencies of the ‘memes’ can tell us nothing about their different functions within sociocultural systems, and their structural relations to one another. Structural relations would include hierarchical subordination, specialisation of function, recursion and embeddedness, homeostatic regulation and feedback loops, exchange, and causal priority, just to name a few.

Okay so – this too is incorrect. Please, if anyone is unaware of it, immediately – go and read 2 books – Koestler’s The Act of Creation (1964) and The Ghost In The Machine (1967). You will then realize that – what Hallpike is saying here, is all completely covered – in great detail – there (with regard to both genes – and memes). That was: back in the 1960’s. Fifty years ago.

Please, realize: memes are holons. Which: answers every single one of Hallpike’s points here, about: `hierarchical subordination, specialisation of function, recursion and embeddedness, homeostatic regulation and feedback loops, exchange, and causal priority, just to name a few.’ Read Koestler (1964) and (1967). Please. You will stop saying things that are so obviously incorrect.

Next point:

So, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first five commonest words in English are the, be, to, of, and; and the first five commonest nouns are time, person, year, way, day. And the commonest letter in the English alphabet is e, followed by t, a, o, i, n, and s. But so what? This tells us nothing of the slightest interest about how the English language works, and the rules governing the formation and transformation of its syntactic structures.

No – this tells us a lot. You really need to read Koestler (1964 and 1967). Note that he also uses Chomsky on natural language structures in The Ghost In The Machine (Koestler 1967, 1989).

Koestler, after Chomsky (Koestler, The Ghost In The Machine, 1967, 1989, p. 30)

Koestler, modified, after Chomsky (Koestler, The Ghost In The Machine, 1967, 1989, p. 30)


And – that Koestler discusses memes (words, and also languages) – as holons/holarchies – tells us a great deal.

See: The Holon-Parton structure of the Meme


Why Some Things Are Popular (Velikovsky 2014)

When you realize letters, words, and languages (and novels and films and songs, etc) are all memes (and – are holons and holarchies) it really tells you a lot.

So – please – before anyone continues this line – just read Koestler’s The Act of Creation (1964) and also The Ghost In The Machine (1967). And all these consilient books here.

Nor can counting the numbers of things capture their relative importance in a system, and in social hierarchies the importance of roles is actually negatively correlated with their frequency. There are obviously far more private soldiers than generals in an infantry division, but this does not mean that the ‘general’ meme has failed to replicate itself as successfully as the ‘private’ meme, and that therefore the role of general is much less important than that of private.

Hallpike is wrong about `counting the numbers of things [cannot] capture their relative importance in a system,’ as – he is confused.

If we count the number of people in a population (town, city, country) infected with (say) the influenza virus, it tells us how far that exact flu virus has spread (including new strains of it, when it evolves/mutates). So too – if we count (track, and measure) the number of instances of a meme (and idea, process or product) has spread in Culture, we can also see how `viral’ that meme is. This is now easier with social media tracking tools, but books and movies and TV shows also contain clear evidence of how far certain memes (e.g. ideas, processes, products – including specific words, and dialog catchphrases) have spread in culture, and whether they are waxing or waning (increasing in the meme pool, staying relatively static, or decreasing).

We can also examine the comparative structures and characteristics of different memes, e.g. Compare more viral films with less-viral films (such as my own doctoral research on the top 20 and bottom 20 RoI films) and we can also see: which words, sentences, catchphrases are more – or less – viral, and can examine them – and work out why. Ultimately – this all means life is easier for scientists and creative practitioners (eg artists, filmmakers, screenwriters, novelists, etc.)

There are massive practical implications for all this – now that the structure of the meme has been identified – in (Velikovsky 2013). See also the StoryAlity Theory of High-RoI Films. It is a direct, real-world, practical application of all this theory on Memetic Culturology.

Note – we can also see when a (biological) virus has gone extinct (or is not active) in a population, and we can observe and measure, exactly the same with ideas, processes and products.

So – Hallpike is confusing himself here. What he is saying is no longer true at all. The structure of the meme and of all culture and the mechanism of Cultural Evolution has been revealed.

As for the “relative importance” of things, Hallpike has also just switched to talking about holons and holarchies (which is exactly what memes/memeplexes are), without yet knowing, what they are. Read Koestler’s The Act of Creation (1964). Koestler uses many examples, but also – uses this explanation below: (note – this is not an analogy, it is: a literal explanation).

Excerpt from The Act of Creation (1964) on the laws of holarchies: (which is what memeplexes are. eg Sciences, Religions, all Domains (and `disciplines’) in Culture, such as: Film, Novels, Cooking, Dance, etc…)

`The Concept of Hierarchy [Holarchy] – The word `hierarchy’ is used here in a special sense. [note – it actually means `holarchy’, which Koestler only named as such in The Ghost In The Machine, 1967]

It does not mean simply `order of rank’ (as in the `pecking hierarchy’ of the farmyard); it means a special type of organization (such as a military hierarchy) in which the overall control is centralized at the apex of a kind of genealogical tree, which branches out downward.

At the first branching-out, the commanders of the land-, sea-, and air-forces would correspond to the co-ordinating centres of say, the digestive, respiratory, and reproductive organ-systems; each of these is sub-divided into units or organs on lower levels of the hierarchy with their own co-ordinating centres, C.O.s and N.C.O.s; the organs in turn are sub-divided into organ parts; and so the branching process goes on down to the cellular level and beyond.

But each sub-organization, regardless on what level, retains a certain amount of autonomy or self-government. Without this delegation of powers the organization could not function effectively: the supreme commander cannot deal with individual privates; he must transmit strategical orders through `regulation channels’, which at each level are translated into tactical and sub-tactical moves. In the same way, information on what is happening in the various fields of operation (the sensory input) is selectively filtered on each level before being transmitted to the higher echelons.

A living organism or social body is not an aggregation of elementary parts or elementary processes; it is an integrated hierarchy of semi-autonomous sub-wholes, consisting of sub-sub-wholes, and so on. Thus the functional units of every level of the hierarchy are double-faced as it were; they act as wholes when facing downwards, as parts when facing upwards.

On the upper limit of the organic hierarchy [holarchy], we find the same double-aspect: the individual animal or man is a whole relative to the parts of his body but a part relative to the social organization to which he belongs.’ (Koestler, 1989, p. 287)

Everyone interested in Culture (and how it works) really must understand, memes are holons and holarchies, and so too, some social hierarchies are holarchies. (Not all hierarchies are holarchies. Holons and holarchies have 3 Laws: mark them well-!).

So – before he says anything else about memes (which are: holons), Hallpike should please stop and read Koestler’s The Act of Creation (1964). This will answer all these questions here, about memes, and holons and holarchies. And even systems, etc. (See: the DIFi systems model of creativity, Csikszentmihalyi 1988-onwards. it works the same way in the Sciences and the Arts/Humanities.)

The whole variation and selection model, on which memetics is based, also ignores the basic causal processes by which innovations appear and spread.

This too is a totally incorrect statement. To understand why – read anything by Csikszentmihalyi, on the systems model of creativity (e.g. from 1988 onwards, and especially say, Creativity, 1996) and also – read Koestler’s The Act of Creation (1964). Also R Keith Sawyer’s Explaining Creativity (20120.

So – I am sorry – but – Hallpike clearly does not know what he is talking about, here with regard to innovations/creativity.

Crucially – as McIntyre has stated: `Creativity is not what most people think it is.’ (McIntyre 2012)

The idea of the meme is inherently mutational, that is, conceives of innovation as analogous to a change in a particular gene, whereas social and cultural innovation is typically combinatorial and processual. (p7)

Sorry – but Hallpike is also dead wrong here.

The idea of the meme – exactly like the gene – involves 2 aspects: (1) mutation (as a gene mutates, so too, a meme/idea/memeplex can mutate…) and (2) innovation in memes (in ideas) is all about – being: combinatorial and processual.

If you combine 2 memes (2 ideas) you then get a new idea (meme). If it works, it can go viral. This is Koestler’s idea of bisociation from 1964. Read The Act of Creation (1964). – Seriously. Also read anything on `combinatorial creativity’ by Boden (2004), or by any of the renowned scientific researchers of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi, Sawyer, Simonton, Runco, etc).

So – (1) Hallpike not understanding this theory of memes, and (2) the theory itself being wrong, are: 2 very different things.

This combinatorial account of the origin of chaos theory, which has no resemblance to a mutation, is typical of many other analyses of how some important idea or inventions originated by the bringing together of disparate factors.

Hallpike again is deeply-confused here, as he still) does not understand: What Creativity is, and How It Works… When you combine 2 people (2 sets of genes) and you then get a new person, the result is – in effect – a 50% mutation of both sets of the donor genes.

This is because – both sets of parent-genes are combined – and, randomly – either the male or female genes are selected, in the new DNA.

In creativity (when new ideas/processes/products are created) it is the result of combining 2 old ideas (memes/memeplexes; holon/holarchy) to get a new idea (meme/memeplex; holon/holarchy).

Also, Hallpike clearly does not understand how scientific (and artistic) creativity works. His account here of how Chaos Theory came about (and indeed, likewise – how all new scientific theories come about – see Koestler 1964, etc) is wrong – and totally misses out some key facts. Read Koestler’s The Act of Creation (1964). Seriously. It has been sitting there since 1964 – and, Hallpike is apparently) still unaware of everything in it.

Hallpike is also clearly unaware of all the scientific research on creativity that has ensued since, and that follows in exactly the same line – including Csikszentmihalyi 1988, and the DIFi systems model of creativity. The problem here is, not : the Theory of Memetics (Velikovsky 2013).

The real core problem here is – Hallpike doesn’t know, what he doesn’t know – in short, ignorance of all the facts. – I am also quite sure, that once he acquired all of these facts (i.e.: What holons and holarchies are – and how they work – and why memes are holons, and why all of culture is holons/a holarchy) – his view will then totally change. (Well – unless of course – he is are just purposely pretending to remain in denial, for some other political reason/a personal agenda. And – If that is indeed the case, then please stop talking – and, go away – and stop wasting everyone’s time – as – you are just getting in the way of scientific progress, now.)

There are lots of very faulty (i.e.: wrong) assumptions about What Creativity Is in Hallpike (2004). And what Culture is. – This is not all Hallpike’s fault. Until 2013, nobody really knew what memes – and therefore Culture – were. It was not yet scientifically and empirically defined.

To understand it, we need to combine the 3 ideas of `ideas, processes, products’ and the idea of `holons/holarchies’ and – once you have done that – now combine (synthesize) that idea with – the systems model of Creativity. (It is actually quite simple.)

Note that all new scientific theories are just the combination of 2 old theories, resulting in a new synthesis. This is Koestler’s (1964) notion of `bisocation’. It is how the evolution of both genes and memes work: selection (of an idea), variation (combine 2 old DNA strands – or ideas – to get a new DNA strand – or a new idea)  and then transmission-with-heredity. The new DNA strand is transmitted into the gene-pool, or the new idea/process/product is transmitted into the meme-pool/Culture.

To give a genuine explanation of how the ‘shipping-container’ meme actually spread, it is not enough merely to invoke ‘selection’: it also requires a close causal analysis of the transport process… Even this elementary analysis shows that to say that a meme spreads by selection is empty and trivial. What we want to know is first how something like the container was invented, and secondly, what its effects were, and why, and here memetics has nothing to contribute. (pp7-8)

Okay – so in Hallpike’s example of creativity/innovation/invention, given here on pp7-8 – of the creation and adoption of the idea (meme) of the shipping container: without even knowing/realizing it, Hallpike has: very clearly and exactly explained the process of, idea (meme): selection, variation and transmission-with-heredity. 

In the example Hallpike gives – the truck driver who created that idea (Mr McLean, with his truckful of cotton bales, as noted) combined 2 separate ideas (i.e. – the idea of a full truck-tray/container and the idea of detaching it from the truck and moving it around independently, using cranes).

This is: (1) selection (select 2 ideas: (1) a full truck-tray, and – (2) the idea of detaching that part of the truck) and (2) variation (in the combination of those 2 ideas, McLean has just varied both of the 2 old ideas, resulting in a new hybrid idea, ie – Koestler’s `bisociation’ – or – Boden’s `combinatorial creativity’) and then, transmission-with-heredity (as the idea spread in the meme pool/culture).

In fact – I cannot think of a more perfect example of memes, and how they work. Hallpike has provided here a perfect example that completely refutes his own argument.

So – the last part of the quote above could not be more wrong. Hallpike has just perfectly explained the process of memes – and how they work in Culture (ie – the process of memetic evolution) – and yet, Hallpike still apparently cannot see that. This is quite remarkable. To have an idea/fact staring you in the face like that, and not to see it is: some kind of conceptual snowblindness.

Memetics not only fails entirely to address the general problem of process in sociocultural systems, but the more specific problem of how memes actually combine to produce highly complex social organizations, belief systems, and knowledge structures. This basic gap in the explanatory framework of memetics results from the extreme vagueness of the meme concept itself, which can be anything at all from tunes and hair-styles to monarchy and the theory of evolution. The discoveries of the atom and the gene were so productive because they revealed, beneath the surface appearance of things, not just the basic building blocks of material objects and organisms, but explained precisely how they combined to produce all the different types of objects and the species of living things. But we can only understand this process of combination because we can identify different types of atoms and genes, each with their own properties. In the case of the meme, however, it is not possible to say what a meme is, other than that it is a unit of replication.

All of this is simply no longer true (i.e. – is now wrong) given Velikovsky’s 2013 scientific and empirical identification of: the meme as a holon.

New memes (new: ideas, processes, products – and that includes all new scientific theories) are the result of combining two old memes. Note – this is exactly how DNA works. Combine two `old’ strands of DNA (male and female) and you get a `new’ strand of DNA.

Memes and genes work the same way. The evolutionary algorithm: selection, variation and transmission-with-heredity. – This is how all biology, and how all culture, works. This is, whether you like the idea or not, Universal Darwinism. – It is not philosophical, nor dogma, it is: empirically observable reality.

The core problem here is that: after 30 years of Memetics (since 1976), due to the vagueness of prior descriptions and analyses of the meme, and of `cultural evolution’ – almost everyone is now stuck in the habit of: seeing genes as merely analogous to memes.

To be crystal-clear: They are not just analagous. – They both work exactly the same way. This a truly profound discovery / insight. Most people’s brains have trouble accepting the idea, due to the baggage of 30 years of confusion and vagueness about this concept…

And – this is indeed, exactly how Science works – people observe reality, and at first, merely start to have `hunches’/intuitive insights – but they cannot yet study/accurately explain it. So – they `talk around the idea’, mostly stumbling around in the dimness – until finally, someone comes along, and clarifies it all for everyone, at which point progress accelerates rapidly. – Look closely at the history of the structure of scientific revolutions (see; Kuhn 1967) and you will see this is all true.

See also Watson and Crick (1953) and the discovery of the structure of DNA, for a perfect example, although any example in the history of scientific discovery will reveal the exact same pattern. (e.g.: see: Simonton 2004, Creativity In Science). See also Koestler 1964, The Act of Creation. This phenomenon is not new.

Unlike the atom and the gene, therefore, the meme is of absolutely no analytical value because it is impossible to establish any systematic differences between types of meme that would allow us to develop laws about how the different types of memes combine in complex structures.

This statement is (now) of no truthful value. In 2013 the structure of the meme was discovered by JT Velikovsky. This explanation (Velikovsky 2013) not only describes exactly and incredibly precisely – the “laws about how the different types of memes combine in complex structures.” Please look in very close detail at The 3 Laws of Holarchies. Memes are holons. They are holarchies, and they are memeplexes.

Please read Koestler’s The Act of Creation (1964) and The Ghost In The Machine (1967).

Please also read Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1996). If you do that – you will then understand/realize that, the answers to all your questions have been given in Velikovsky (2013): The Holonic Structure of the Meme.

Note that – it is a synthesis of prior scientific ideas that were sitting around in various domains, and nobody had assembled them into a synthesis before.

Note also that – this is exactly what Einstein did with the theory of relativity. Note well also – this is also exactly what Charles Darwin did with the theory of evolution by natural selection in 1859 in The Origin of Species (by combining anthropology and mathematics, and then adding Malthus ‘on population’ to that). Note that – just as Darwin explained biology, Velikovsky (2013) also explained Culture, which apparently – to everyone else on the planet up till that point was previously, an unexplained mystery.

Note that Velikovsky even used Darwin’s theory (the evolutionary algorithm) to do it…!

Note also that – no other explanation of Memes, and Culture – and How they work – (their mechanism) makes sense, or: works.

Note that Velikovsky (2013) is to Memetics/Culture, exactly what Watson and Crick were to Genetics/Biology in 1953. Note also – the wording of the opening sentences of both papers (i.e.: Velikovsky 2013 and Watson & Crick 1953).

Note also how Velikovsky 2013 explains: not just the meme, i.e. – the unit of culture – but indeed how all Culture (language, the arts, the sciences) is a meme, a holon and a holarchy.

Note the grand unified theory of Culture that this discovery provides.

Note also that: previously, nobody knew – or, could agree on – what Culture actually is. (See van Peer 2007 on how there is no consensus on “What exactly is Culture?”. Note the 150+ varying definitions of culture in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions, Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952)

Note that – Velikovsky 2013 changes all of that. Culture – and the meme – is now clearly defined.

Note that – every single one of Hallpike’s objections/criticisms here is resoundingly-and-comprehensively answered by: Velikovsky 2013.

Note also that – all scientific revolutions are at first, resisted by the Field, (see: Kuhn 1967) and then – when everybody (in fact, when a majority, as there are still some `holdouts’ who remain in denial, even until they die – see: Planck’s Principle) realizes that the new idea/concept/meme/scientific theory is actually totally right, it is then accepted into the Domain of knowledge (this is the DIFi systems model of creativity and is: How culture works.)

The closest we get in memetics to any attempt to deal with structures of memes is the memeplex, ‘a co-adapted stable set of mutually assisting memes’, which ‘may evolve in the same kind of way as co-adapted gene complexes’ (Dawkins 1978:212,213). So, for example, ‘Mutually suitable teeth, claws, guts, and sense organs evolve in carnivorous gene pools, while a different set of stable characteristics emerged from herbivorous gene pools’ (ibid., 212). The example he uses to illustrate a memeplex is the Christian Church, but all he does is take isolated memes, such as belief in hell-fire, faith, and clerical celibacy, and try to show how each of these perpetuates itself. There is no attempt to analyse their relations with one another within the Church as a whole. Blackmore’s analysis of the memeplex, again focused on religion, is no improvement, while Dennett in his long section on memes (1995:335-69) does not even discuss the mutual interaction of memes within larger structures of belief systems or social organizations. (pp 8-9)

Okay – so – what is so amazing and remarkable about what Hallpike has just said here, is: just how close Dawkins got – and how, all that it then required was – for Velikovsky, to come along – and add in the concept of holons from 1964 (as with it – comes `the 3 laws of holarchies’, which you should note, biological evolution also adheres to precisely, and totally) and suddenly – we now have the explanation for all Cultural Evolution – and which – as it happens – perfectly matches Biological Evolution – as they have the exact same evolutionary mechanism.

This is `Universal Creativity’, or if you want to use another term – given, the name of the guy who first famously published on it in 1859, (well, apart from Wallace publishing at the same day at the Linnean Society, and note – none of them realized how significant that discovery was at the time either, until Origin came out in 1859) – `Universal Darwinism’.

By this same logic (calling something `Universal Darwinism’) – this all (i.e. – memes, and cultural evolution) should all be called `Universal Velikovskyism’.

So – for the sake of clarity, let’s just call it (the mechanism of both Biology and Culture): Universal Creativity, if we can all agree that creativity works the same way in biology (genes) and culture (memes), namely – via the Evolutionary Algorithm of: selection, variation (i.e.: combination) and transmission-with-heredity. Which – as I have shown – it unquestionably-and-definitely, 100% does.

Note also that Velikovsky 2013 explains Religions as memes, and memeplexes (as holons and holarchies), which answers Hallpike’s question/criticism of Dawkins, Blackmore and Dennett above. Those 3 theorists all got close, but did not quite nail it; Velikovsky 2013 absolutely did.

To sum up so far, then, the populational model of memetics is of inherently the wrong type to understand the operation and evolution of causal and conceptual systems, to understand process, and this is exacerbated by the extreme vagueness of the meme concept, and its consequent inability to explain memetic combinations of higher levels of complexity, in the manner of atoms and genes.

To sum up so far – the populational (and: systems) model of memetics (as per Velikovsky 2013) – is of exactly the right type to understand the operation and evolution of causal and conceptual systems, to understand process, and this is achieved by the extreme precision of the meme concept, and its consequent ability to explain memetic combinations of higher levels of complexity, in the manner of atoms and genes.

A meme is a holon – and is exactly like an atom, but – as per Velikovsky 2013 – that is precisely because an atom is also a holon and a holarchy.

It is that simple. Please note well that – when Darwin explained the theory of evolution by natural selection: Huxley’s first reaction was: `How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!’. And Huxley was an intellectual giant himself. – It is exactly the same situation with this theory of Memetics.

Which is – in fact – the same theory as Darwin’s – i.e.: selection, variation (combination) and transmission-with-heredity. Now that I have explained it, everyone else can see it – and: even I know that, it is totally and utterly obvious. It is quite remarkable that – in 30 years of Memetics – up to 2013, nobody else on the planet has had this insight. Many people (Darwin, Koestler, Csikszentmihalyi, Bourdieu, Dawkins, Blackmore, Dennett, etc) – all are utterly-brilliant in my view (their hunches were exactly right), and – all of them came very close.

So  that – all the hard work was done for me – all it required was a tiny nudge from me, as: I have simply stood on the shoulders of these intellectual giants.

I have just simply synthesized, what they were all saying, all along.

Note that this is also: bisociation. I selected the right ideas, combined (varied) them and transmitted them into the culture. Now – watch it spread. The reason? It clearly works! It solves the problems/questions. eg `What is culture? How exactly does culture work? What are its laws and mechanisms?’

– If you really want to understand in detail the process of what I just did in making this discovery, in Velikovsky 2013 then you should also take a look at CPF and CPS (Creative Problem Finding – and Creative Problem Solving) – i.e. the Osborn-Parnes, model of CPF and CPS, from 60 years ago.

Note that Creativity works the same in the Arts and the Sciences with regard to CPF and CPS, and see Novrup-Redvall’s paper on CPF and CPS in film. Seriously. Note that my friend Eva (Novrup-Redvall) also uses the systems model of creativity, and Why? Because it’s right/true/it works!

Having spent 20 years as a professional filmmaker, game designer and musician, (among other professional creative pursuits) I can assure you – the systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988) is exactly how reality / the world / Culture works.

And that is on one level exactly what I am saying in this theoretical synthesis: (i.e.: Velikovsky 2013). 

Check all the evidence over the History of culture (scientific and artistic creativity, in culture). It matches the theory (Velikovsky 2013) precisely. Note also that Darwin refused to `publish short; with `Origin’ as he wanted to present all the irrefutable evidence. I do not have to do that, as it is already all there – in Koestler 1964 (read `The Act of Creation’, seriously), in Csikszentmihalyi 1988-2006 and in Simonton 2004. Read those books. You will see it is all there, it is just that nobody ever `put it all together’ (synthesized it) before like I have now done.

Note this about Darwin – and the theory of evolution by means of natural selection:

`How extremely stupid not to have thought of that,’ was Huxley’s first reaction, reflecting that Columbus’ companions had probably felt the same way when he made the egg stand on end.

The same thought suggested itself to the ornithologist Alfred Newton, who did not know whether to be `more vexed at the solution not having occurred to me, than pleased that it had been found at all’, particularly since it was `a perfectly simple solution’ to the problem that had been plaguing him for months.

Many of Darwin’s friends must have felt as Huxley did… and many of his enemies must have agreed with Samuel Butler: `Buffon planted, Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck watered, but it was Mr. Darwin who said “that fruit is ripe” and shook it into his lap’.’

(Koestler, 1989, pp. 133-134)

4. Malthus and the meme – Many discussions of memetics also tend to leave out a crucial part of what Dennett calls ‘Darwin’s dangerous idea’. They seem to assume that variation plus selection will do the trick, but forget that selection will not operate automatically and needs to be driven by a high degree of competition. According to the Malthusian principle which, Darwin repeatedly emphasised, is at the heart of his theory, competition is driven by the inexorable pressure of population on the necessary resources of life. ‘So the normal state of affairs for any sort of reproducers [my emphasis] is one in which more offspring are produced in any one generation than will in turn reproduce in the next. In other words, it is almost always crunch time.’ (Dennett 1995:41) But why should it ever be crunch time for memes? How, in other words, is the Malthusian principle to be translated into cultural terms at all? Unlike biological offspring, there is no inherent tendency for memes to multiply at a geometric rate, or at any particular rate at all, nor do they need food, nor, if they are simply ideas, do they impose any other burden on the physical resources available to any human population. To be sure, if we could each only remember a few hundred words, there would be intense competitive pressure on the vocabulary of any language spoken by a specific community, but in reality the human capacity for remembering words is enormous, and in any case, it is not necessary that all the members of a community should each remember exactly the same words. Similarly, just how many myths, for example, would start to strain the cultural resources of a tribe, or how many riddles, and how many novels, or how many paintings, would strain our cultural resources? Yet without some way of answering this kind of question, how is the memeticist to calculate the selective pressure that is operating on any particular meme pool?

The selective pressure with memes (a la Malthus and `the struggle for survival’) is twofold:

(1) There is a limited space for memes – in that: the environment of the memescape itself is limited. There are only around 7 billion people on Earth right now. No meme (idea – as an idea in a mind) can spread wider than: that 7 billion minds. (Whatever the exact number is at this second.)

(2) Some solutions to problems (i.e.: some memes) are actually: clearly and empirically better solutions to the problems they are solving. So in biology – if a better-adapted organism comes along, (due to evolution, i.e. `variation’/mutation) then it will outcompete all the others. ie – In the race/competition/struggle for survival of life, it will `beat out’, all the organisms (holons) that do not solve all the various complex problems of survival and reproduction, as well as it does.

So in culture – ask yourself this – Why exactly did Harry Potter sell so many more copies than all the other competing YA books about teenage wizards? (In fact – than all the other YA books.)

Answer: When most people go to the store, they have decided to spend money on a book (or books). Now – a big question – which book/s are they going to choose? They have to decide. (Note – this process is called `Selection’.)

So – if anyone hears (via word-of-mouth, or by reading a book review, etc) that one particular book is truly fantastic (i.e.: that it – essentially – solves the problem of: “I want to read a fantastic book – but I can only afford to buy and read, one book right now.”) Then – what do you think is going to happen..?

More people will buy that one book that is clearly the more effective meme / that solves the problems better in comparison to others.

Likewise – why did the motorcar replace the horse and cart? Clearly – a car is a better solution to the problem of “fast and reliable economical travel” than is a horse and cart. Like with all evolution, it all comes back to cost/benefit ratios.

Whichever meme (e.g. film, book, mechanical invention, song) solves the problems better is the one that becomes more populous, increasing in a geometic ratio, and it squeezes out the competition.

There is only a limited amount of money in the world, that people have allocated towards: buying books. Books cost money. So – not every book in the world is going to be bought; at some point we reach the limit of “books that can be bought, right now.” Regardless of: how great each book may be.

Likewise with films – there is only a finite number of cinemas in the world. So – at any one time, only a certain amount of films can physically be screened. So – which films are going to be shown in more cinemas? The ones that solve the problem of “I want to see a fantastic movie”. (And cinema Exhibitors and Distributors take guesses at that, and then see how the word-of-mouth spreads. Those films that seem to be more popular will soon be screened on more screens, if the Exhibitors want to maximize their own income/reduce their losses. And they clearly/logically do.)

So – “Similarly, just how many myths, for example, would start to strain the cultural resources of a tribe, or how many riddles, and how many novels, or how many paintings, would strain our cultural resources? 

What Hallpike ignores here is – there is only a limited amount of time in anyone’s life, to read novels or to listen to (or repeat) myths, or see movies. A certain amount of time is consumed by working, eating and sleeping, commuting, etc.

Even when you multiply that by 7 billion people (but wait, given global inequality, not everyone is literate, or – can even afford to buy a book). It may not seem this way to Hallpike, but it is absolutely true: There is a limited, finite, `space and time’ that competing memes can fill, so – some memes (novels, myths, riddles, films, songs, etc) are simply not going to `make the cut’.

So – it is exactly a struggle for survival – just as Malthus spoke about in his famous (though ethically-wrong) essay on Population – that both Darwin and Wallace also independently read, and that prompted both to also suddenly arrive at basically the same theory of evolution. (Please note DK Simonton on “scientific multiple discovery” and also “disciplinary zeitgeist” in Creativity In Science: Logic, Chance, Genius and Zeitgeist, 2004. – This stuff happens all the time. That is how memes, minds, culture and creativity works.)

So – as with population pressure in biology and ecosystems – it is exactly the same – in culture/the meme pool. Each Domain (in culture, eg: Film, Novels, Dance, Chemistry etc) only has a finite number of members in the Field. There are a limited number of minds. Therefore, there is limited/finite `room’ (and: time) in the memescape.

If an idea, process or product is, say – a new refrigerator – (a newly-invented solar-powered one, say) – there is still only a finite, limited market for refrigerators (no matter how great or new-fangled they may be) at any one time. So – if that new solar-powered refrigerator, much like the original Ford motorcar – is really cheap – and solves all the problems of `being a refrigerator’ better than all other fridges, then over time, it will soon outsell all other fridges on the market – selling in a geometric ratio (an exponential curve on a sales graph) – and will soon come to dominate the market.

Ideas and myths are the same.

There are only around 70 or 80 years – or so – in everyone’s life (on average). If they could spend their whole life listening to new myths, that is still only a limited number of myths they can possibly hear. Some of those myths (stories) are going to be so good in comparison to the others, that the person is going to say “Wait, stop telling me new myths – and go back and tell me Myth #32,758 again, that particular one was really great, I loved it.”

– Do you see? And it is the same with movies (for example). There are only about 3,000 feature films released in cinemas every year. But – there are twice that number being made… So which 3,000 which make the cut? (And get shown in cinemas?) – It is a Malthusian struggle for survival.

Memes (ideas, processes, products) are not alive, but – the people (and sometimes, animals) in whose minds they occur certainly are alive – so – the pressures of selection, for consumers, means `population pressure’ results. Time and space are limited, they are not infinite.

I hope this is all clear, why Hallpike’s assumptions in the above paragraph are wrong. He seems to think the `time and space’ of people is infinite. But just because it is large (7 billion minds) that certainly does not mean: it is `infinite’.

Hallpike has even pointed all this out himself – when he quotes other Memeticists:

`Clearly, the ‘struggle’ Darwin was alluding to here cannot be directly compared to the competition over finite physical resources alluded to by the reference to Malthus. Rather, we have to think in more general terms, of a competition for limited ‘slots’ or functionally equivalent ‘solutions’ to specific ‘problems’…We suggest that an appropriate way to conceptualise what any set of cultural variations are in general competing over is in terms of functional categories. Thus, synonyms will be in competition for describing the same semantic category; different hammers will be in competition for effective hammering; and different gestures may be in competition to fulfil the same social function.’ (ibid., 4)

But – the thing is, at any one time, there is only a limited number of slots for hammers, refrigerators, movies, novels, myths, etc. This is called the `maximum market size’ – and is not a new concept-!

Any product only has a certain amount it can sell. If everyone in the world bought one hammer – then that is 7 billion hammers. Sure, some people might buy 2, so they have a spare, and some artist may well be building a rocket-ship in his backyard out of hammers, as some kind of postmodernist sculpture.

But at some point, the demand for hammers is met by: the supply of hammers. So – what happens to the spare/surplus hammers? They are not in circulation, and not being used – they are stuck in a warehouse someplace, gathering dust. As some hammers wear out and need replacing, surely, there is a constant level of demand… and, yes – the population of humans is also steadily increasing towards 10 billion by the year 2050. But – at any one time, there is still a limited number of `slots’ for hammers. Also for example a family may only need one hammer that they can share (obviously).

Every idea, process or product (or even gesture) can only be used finitely, in time and space.We do not go to see 2 movies at once, we can only sit in one cinema theater, and watch one movie at a time. (Though I know the youth of today usually has 4 screens going at once, and could well be watching 4 movies at once on iPods and smartphones and whatnot. But – the human nervous system can only process about 111 bits of info per second at maximum. Also – to give a movie the respect it deserves you probably should only watch, one movie at once.)

This is the same as the fact that, in any ecosystem, there is limited resources (e.g. food, space) and overcrowding and overpopulation means that (especially if there are predators) “the weaker and the older” die out sooner. As do – the less better-adapted.

Because human minds are constantly absorbing memes (in culture) and are constantly combining two memes (ideas) we keep on getting more Creativity, more Culture, more inventions (this process cannot be stopped).

So new ideas, processes and products will keep combining – just like males and females in any species will keep on breeding. And some less-well adapted species (and ideas/processes/products/memes) will also go extinct.

Consider also – Genres, in Film: The Western is now not as popular as it used to be. Sci-fi and fantasy and still on the rise. But now and then – someone `reaches back’ and combines a `sci-fi-fantasy’ genre with the Western genre – and we get Firefly on TV – or Cowboys and Aliens in film. (Do you see?)

(And note that Cowboys and Aliens didn’t do so well, either.) See: http://the-numbers.com/movie/budgets/ i.e. – As at Dec 2013, Cowboys and Aliens (2011) is #14 on the list of `Biggest Money Losers, Based on Absolute Loss on Worldwide Earnings’ at The-Numbers.com.

In terms of memes (ideas) and Cultural Evolution – note – it is not a new idea (meme) to combine a `Western’ with `aliens’. See: Star Wars (1977) and also the 1935 Western serial film The Phantom Empire starring Gene Autry. Note also that – a later Star Wars film was also called The Phantom Menace (1999) , and involves `The Empire’.

Memes are constantly being `recycled’ in the meme pool (culture). This is the systems model of creativity and cultural evolution in action.

In the Malthusian situation, however, competition arises from the fact that the population is too large for all of them survive, given the food available to them. There is, however, nothing Malthusian about this competition between types of pen, which did not arise from the number of the competing variants, but simply from human beings choosing between two alternatives, which could equally well be two ideas.     

What Hallpike just said here is wrong. When people go to buy a pen, they usually do not buy: two pens. (Though if they are cheap – they may of course, buy a whole packet.) Question is: Why buy two (expensive) pens – (or, even cars – or houses) when one will do the job/fit the budget? You can then use the money you saved from not buying two of anything – but only buying one [say, pen, car, house] to instead buy: something else.

I can also hardly believe what Hallpike has said here. Hallpike has just explained it – and yet still cannot see it. When you choose between selecting two types of pen, or between selecting one of two ideas, or between two (or more) models of fridges, or two (or more) models of car, or two (or more) different houses, you only choose `the best one’. The one that is the best solution to your current problem/s that you are trying to solve.

Usually (unless you just made a bad decision) – it is the one (best meme/best solution) with the best cost/benefit ratio. The one that solves, the current problem/s you have (are: trying to solve). e.g.: I need a pen. Or: I need a house.

If the `problem’ is only functional – “I just want the cheapest pen I can get right now, that also works the best” then – you have a very simple choice. But – if you also are trying to solve this problem: ““I want the most expensive [pen] that also works the best, mainly so that my status and wealth is also clearly on display” – then you are choosing a different pen (or fridge, or car, or watch, or house).

Note that status is important in evolution and biology, in social hierarchies. Higher status often means you: get your pick of (more and better choice of) breeding partners: i.e. See anything on – How survival and reproduction works.

For example, as examples of the ‘struggle’ Darwin was alluding to, Mesoudi et al. refer to semantic categories, and ‘the successive replacement over recent years in youth culture of the adjectival synonyms “neat”, “fab”, and “cool”.’ (ibid., 4) But in what way are any of these ‘better, shorter, or easier’ variants than the others, and what particular semantic problem are they supposed to be solving?

How does Hallpike not know the answer to this? How is it not: completely obvious? Certain words, when used, reveal that you are “up with the latest development in the field.” Using the new, cool or “in” word is the same as driving the newer, `cooler’ car. Also humanity (as do all animals) crave novelty. Read Koestler (1964).

A recent word like this was “amazeballs” instead of “amazing”. That is a funny way of saying “amazing”. It has extra added (comedy) value than simply saying “amazing”. Also you need to look at the article by Dunbar on `Why Are Good Writers So Rare?’ Where he talks about how stories/memes and cultural ideas/memes (such as: Snow White) show that we are members of the same group/tribe.

See: Dunbar on Why Are Good Writers So Rare?  http://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:90f2c35f-42ef-4ecb-87d9-daf7b2bce690

Hallpike says:

(Some semantic categories, such as those involving praise and blame, money, sex, and drunkenness, are actually notable for the proliferation of their synonyms.) Many memes, then, are not solutions for anything.

This again is incorrect. Praise and blame are effects, due to causes. Their functional properties are so obvious that I won’t even discuss them, except to say: when someone does something good it is logical to praise them, and when they do something bad, it is probably appropriate to blame them.

And – if you do not understand why sex exists (i.e. reproduction) then you do not understand evolution at all. If you do not understand that drunkenness is the result of drinking alcohol, I am not sure what to say.

Also this is the most wrong thing Hallpike has said so far: “Many memes, then, are not solutions for anything.” i.e. To be clear – Every meme (if it spreads from mind to mind) solves a problem. If you personally cannot work out what that problem (in the case of each meme) is, then that is possibly your own lack of intellect, imagination or knowledge.

To repeat: Every meme (idea, process, product) solves a problem. (Like I say, look closely at CPF and CPS… as per Osborn-Parnes – from 50 years ago). Show me any meme and I will show you the problem that it solves. (Or conversely, if it is NOT an effective/viral meme, then – I will show you why it does not solve that target problem well. Note that – some animals die, as they cannot solve some specific problems of survival. This is exactly the same point.)

A meme (idea, process, product) not only must survive – but reproduce (be copied/be transmitted between minds, or copied/replicated in culture) to become – and stay – a successful meme. Likewise – any organism must survive – to remain a successful organism.

If it dies, it disintegrates/ceases to exist (as an organism, and so too – with any meme).

A vast amount of ‘memes’, particularly in modern culture, are not functionally equivalent solutions competing with one another to solve specific problems, but are simple novelties that if anything create new problems, and may become fashionable for a time simply because they are newer, and unfashionable simply because they are older. Indeed, far from increasing competition and the power of selection, as it should do in the Malthusian model, it can also be said that too many memes actually inhibit competition, because as the level of cultural ‘noise’ increases – as it has, for example, on the Internet – it becomes steadily more difficult to bring competing memes into contact with each other. We might call this ‘The Tower of Babel Syndrome’, and what it produces is something like primitive warfare – an endless succession of skirmishes, but no decisive outcomes. Without effective competition, however, the whole Darwinian model of natural selection collapses when applied to memes. 

Hallpike is so confused here; completely bumfuzzled. (That is an old word for `confused’ that I am trying to bring back as a meme.) Anyway – so – this is all completely wrong. If Hallpike does not yet understand why, I probably cannot help him to understand the concept of cultural evolution, and memes.

5. Imitation and replication – According to the theory, besides having lots of copies, replicators like memes and genes need longevity and fidelity. Longevity is the ability of the replicating unit to survive unchanged – the longer the better, of course. This in turn requires fidelity, the accurate copying of a unit at each replication, which is quite crucial, since inaccurate copying would very soon lead to the collapse of the whole process [1. Here, there is a footnote – as below] .

Footnote # 1. ‘For evolution and selection to take place, genetic information has to be stored in a relatively stable molecule such as DNA in what Schrödinger referred to as a “code-script”. Without this structure, a mutation, which is nothing else but a change of code, could not take place and in the absence of a precise copying mechanism mutations cannot be selected. Information in genes is encoded in digital form with four letters, but in memes messages are encoded in continuously varying analogue symbols that might rapidly decay into noise as they are transmitted from individual to individual…’ (Benitez-Bribiesca 2001:30)

Okay so – I will criticize Benitez-Bribiesca (2001) in about 3 blog-post’s time, but for now – can I just say – this is all entirely wrong. Wrong-wrong-wrong. Wrong-cubed, wrong-to-the-power-of-infinity.

Let’s disassemble this argument piece by piece, nut-by-bolt: firstly –

Longevity is the ability of the replicating unit to survive unchanged – the longer the better, of course. This in turn requires fidelity, the accurate copying of a unit at each replication, which is quite crucial, since inaccurate copying would very soon lead to the collapse of the whole process

Okay so then – please explain the meme of `Jesus Christ’ for me then? (That whole process – memetic transmission – certainly hasn’t `collapsed’ in about 2000 years, so far.)

It (the meme of `Jesus Christ)’ exists in at least 3 forms of memes: an idea (in minds), a process (apparently there was once a real guy, who went through the process of being Jesus), and, as a product – in fact as many products (eg say, the New Testament, and also those little glow-in-the-dark statues of Jesus, and postcards of Jesus, and paintings of Jesus, and stained-glass church-windows of Jesus – etc).

There is (1) the idea of Jesus, as in – the New Testament, and also – in lots of other places too (e.g. in the musical, `Jesus Christ Superstar’ and in the movie `The Passion of The Christ’ by Mel Gibson.) The idea of `Jesus Christ’ is there as an idea (a meme, a memeplex, a holon, a holarchy) in the minds of everybody alive right now who knows of the concept of `Jesus Christ’.

Now, the exact memeplex (of `Jesus’) in everyone’s mind is slightly different – i.e. Muslims have a very different idea of `Jesus’ than say Catholics or say Jews, or even atheists. It also depends on what information each person absorbs / is exposed to, about `Jesus’ (how much they absorb, what the sources are that they absorb it from, etc). But – all I can say is, read Koestler (1964) The Act of Creation. You will then get a much better (more accurate/real) sense of how ideas (memes/memeplexes) work, in minds.

Also, who says that `genes survive unchanged’? That is a fallacy anyway. Genes recombine and change, all the time! THAT IS WHAT EVOLUTION IS!!! Selection, VARIATION (including mutation by combination – and by other means) and TRANSMISSION-WITH-HEREDITY. GENES EVOLVE/CHANGE OVER TIME – AS DO MEMES!!!! – Jeeezus Christ-! What about that, don’t you understand? (A: Clearly, everything.)

Note the variation of the meme where the term/idea `Jesus Christ’ is used as a curse-word of frustration – and then also note, the other meme, that: to do so is a blasphemy.

Note – that in certain memeplexes (matrices/holarchies of ideas/memes) blasphemers go to Hell.

Note also the idea of Hell is a meme/memeplex.

Note how ideas are memes and holons.

Note how Religions are memeplexes.

Note that the structure of the meme is the holon. (See: Velikovsky 2013)

Imitation and its relation to mental activity are therefore of central importance in memetic theory – indeed, the genuinely unique human capacity for imitation in the animal world is much stressed by Blackmore as the foundation of the whole memetic process and the fidelity of replication. ‘My reason for restricting meme acquisition to imitation (i.e. excluding other kinds of learning) is my suspicion that only imitation is capable of sustaining a true evolutionary process’ (Blackmore 2000:27).

Look, before this article: (Velikovsky 2013) nobody had ever identified the meme, the unit of culture, and therefore what all culture is, and how culture works, in detail. (Its laws, and mechanisms).

So – in order to start over, without any faulty assumptions – we now have to throw all of prior `Memetic Theory’ out, and take (Velikovsky 2013) as a starting point. Then – we can go back over everything that has ever been said, in Memetics – up to December 2013, and compare it with that new model/theory/paradigm, and see `which bits we can keep’ – and which bits were clearly always wrong.

So, many things Blackmore has said are right, but – many are, also, wrong.

Likewise with all prior commentators / theorists on Memetics.

i.e. – Once Darwin `laid out’ evolution, we then all could see, exactly which things that had been said before were true/right/correct (and many of them were: wildly off-target) – in light of the new, solid, explanatory framework that Darwin had created.

Also – even Darwin got a few little details wrong too (see: Lamarckism), but – who really cares; What Darwin did was still better than anything else that had gone before. And the core of it still stands.

So, look – I would not get all hung up in this `imitation’ idea of Blackmore’s. ie Yes – memes can be imitated (e.g. a way of smiling, a gesture, a line of dialog, an accent, etc.) But – this is all still SELECTION, VARIATION and TRANSMISSION WITH HEREDITY. The evolutionary algorithm. (As in Biology with genes, so it is, with memes in Culture).

Sometimes – the `variation’ of the `copy’ is so small – that we may as well call it: imitation/copying.

When I go to see a movie, and I come away with that `film story’ (that meme/memeplex, including all the characters in the film, and, lines of dialog that I can remember, etc) now in my mind, I didn’t just `imitate’ the movie… (unless I then try and `act out the whole movie’ for someone, like playing the game Charades, maybe – but I would suggest that is an edge case.)

It was just the case that: the meme (film story) was transmitted from the movie projecter, onto the movie screen – and then into my mind, when I perceived it. – Do you see? Imitation is certainly a subset of `ways that memes get copied’ (selected, varied and transmitted) but – it (imitation) is definitely not the be-all, and the end-all.

Like I say, Blackmore, Dawkins, Dennett and everyone have done a brilliant job, when you consider: They didn’t yet have a Watson and Crick (1953) moment (theoretical framework), to hang all their knowledge/ discoveries/ ideas about memes on..!

These people are all geniuses – when you consider they were mostly stumbling around in the dark up till now, yet they got quite a few things right. They basically were like, the 3 blind guys feeling the elephant: “a meme is alike a piece of rope (the tail), no, it’s like a wall (the side of the elephant), no it’s like a snake (the trunk), etc.” What they achieved is utterly amazing – and I have nothing but admiration for it all.

But now that we (well, I) have defined the meme, the unit of culture, and have explained what holons and holarchies are, and the laws of holarchies, and how the evolutionary algorithm (selection, variation and transmission-with-heredity) works – therefore, how Cultural Evolution works – now, we can all go back and put all those puzzle-pieces into their actual, correct places – and we can get on with Directed Bio-Cultural Evolution as per EO Wilson and Jonas Salk. (see: Csikszentmihalyi 1996, Creativity)

Some of what has gone before in Memetics, we will (sadly) need to jettison, as it was just-plain-wrong, But – a lot of it still applies.

(I will tell you what exact bits apply, if you can’t work it out for yourself. Just ask me. “I will teach you. You will learn.” See: Full Metal Jacket. That was a meme. A line of dialog from an awesome film. Kubrick is my favourite filmmaker.)

But while we imitate tunes, designs, gestures, words and catch-phrases all the time, it is possible to imitate without understanding anything beyond the meme itself – the company logo, the name, the tune, and so on.

Please stop getting so hung up on the idea of `imitation’ with memes.

Blackmore was only partly right: Imitation is just one way that memes can be selected, varied, and transmitted-with-heredity. Seriously.

This, however, is wholly inadequate to describe the transmission of ideas, which have to be understood – the word ‘meme’ itself being a good example. While we learn words by hearing and reading, by imitation, we only learn their meaning by questioning and repeated use of them in different contexts, and even in a dictionary there will be many shades of meaning that need to be understood.

Can I just say something? Read Koestler (1964). You will learn. He will teach you.

Indeed, when it comes to learning the grammar of our language, the imitation model breaks down entirely, because children do not acquire knowledge of grammatical rules in the bit-by-bit process that imitation would involve:

One of the most striking facts about language is its ‘creativity’ – the fact that by the age of five or six children are able to produce and understand an indefinitely large number of utterances that they have not previously encountered – and the behaviourist’s ‘learning theory’, however successful it might be in accounting for the way in which certain networks of ‘habits’ and ‘associations’ are built up in the ‘behaviour patterns’ of animals and human beings, is totally incapable of explaining ‘creativity’ – an aspect of human ‘behaviour’ manifest most clearly (though perhaps not exclusively) in language. (Lyons 1970:84)

Indeed, quite apart from the case of language, ‘no psychologist believes that cultural learning is essentially a matter of imitation’ (Sperber 2000:172), and ‘No satisfactory model of imitation has been worked out so far, although developmental psychologists and ethologists have long been trying to define and operationalize it.’ (Conte 2000:96).

May I suggest: read Koestler (1964). The Act of Creation. It will answer all of your questions, on this.

Memeticists, therefore, have to face the fact that imitation is quite inadequate to serve as the main basis of memetic replication, since ideas are also interpreted and assimilated by the receiver in accordance with his existing cognitive structures, and the way in which he understands his social and natural environment (on this see in particular Atran 2001).


Like I say. Blackmore didn’t quite get it all nailed. Imitation is not everything in memes. Certainly, it is one part of the story. It is: one of the holons in the holarchy that is `memes/memetics’.

Let me quote Koestler on how scientific paradigms work:

`The revolutions in the history of science are successful escapes from blind alleys. The evolution of knowledge is continuous only during those periods of consolidation and elaboration which follow a major breakthrough. Sooner or later, however, consolidation leads to increasing rigidity, orthodoxy, and so into the dead-end of overspecialisation – to the koala bear. Eventually there is a crisis and a new `break-through’ out of the blind alley – followed by another period of consolidation, a new orthodoxy, and so the cycle starts again. But the new theoretical structure which emerges from the break-through is not built on top of the previous edifice; it branches out from the point where progress has gone wrong…

(Koestler 1989b, pp. 168-9 – emphasis mine)

So – I am sorry, but – exactly as above, as with all prior scientific revolutions – we totally need to throw out quite a lot of “the existing thinking” – in this case, on Memetics, before December 2013.

We should now just take my theory (Velikovsky 2013) as the basis, just like we all threw out the other past ideas on `Evolution’ in 1859, and took Darwin’s theory as the basis, and then – we can all build on that.

Some of the old ideas from Memetics over the past 30 years, we can surely keep. But – only the ones that work/fit with this new paradigm! – Some of the old ideas simply: have to go!

So – pretend no-one has ever said anything about Memetics before Velikovsky 2013. I hope this is clear. This is the way, that this always works. This is Big-C Creativity. (See Simonton 2013, Boden 2004 etc) This is: Cultural Evolution itself.

Note – ironically, I am now using Cultural Evolution itself – to explain how Cultural Evolution works. (Do you see?) Sorry about the weird freaky trippy infinite fractal regress here – but this was inevitable sooner or later.

i.e. At some point in the history of human evolution – someone would have had to do this.

ie – Use Cultural Evolution itself – to explain how Cultural Evolution works.

There is a word for this: mise en abyme. It is just like: thinking about thinking. Same thing.

But if memes have to be replicated through the much vaguer processes of ‘social learning’, or ‘cultural transmission’, how, then, can fidelity of replication be maintained? Indeed, is it justifiable to go on talking of memes ‘replicating’ at all? On this point, Dawkins concedes:

Here I must admit I am on shaky ground. At first sight it looks as if memes are not high fidelity replicators at all. Every time a scientist hears an idea and passes it on to somebody else, he is likely to change it somewhat. . .This looks quite unlike the particulate, all-or-none quality of gene transmission. It looks as though meme transmission is subject to continuous mutation, and also to blending. (Dawkins 1978:209)

Can I make a suggestion? Read Koestler (1964). The Act of Creation. It speaks to (ie – solves!) all this.

And yes – Dawkins is right here, memes change as they are transmitted: given that memes are ideas, processes and products, but – note that – all three of those categories can be abstracted to ideas in the mind.

Example: We see a new model of car drive past us on the street, (or a `new car!’ ad in a magazine, or on TV say) and suddenly – the idea of: that new car model has now been transmitted into our mind. Or – we see a new process, e.g. – a new way to juggle 3 chainsaws underwater, and the idea (meme) of that process (meme) enters our mind. So – those memes have just been copied, into our mind. – It doesn’t end there, obviously. Using selection (choosing to buy a new car, and – choosing which new car to buy) we might decide to go buy that same new model of car (meme) ourselves. If we buy that new car, the meme-as-product (the new car model) has just been replicated physically, in that – we also just bought that new model of car. The new car itself was actually copied when it was made in the factory, which is itself a process (the meme of the process of making the car). Also – if we now go and juggle 3 chainsaws underwater, then we have also imitated that meme / idea /process, sure. (Blackmore was right about Memetics on some things.)

But note – this is all still just: meme – selection, variation and transmission-with-heredity.

Hallpike says:

He attempts to find a way round this by using the example of Darwinian theory:

…when we say that all biologists nowadays believe in Darwin’s theory, we do not mean that every biologist has, graven in his brain, an identical copy of the exact words of Charles Darwin. Each individual has his own way of interpreting Darwin’s ideas…Yet, in spite of this, there is something, some essence of Darwinism, which is present in the head of every individual who understands the theory. (Dawkins 1978:210)

My suggestion, here? Go read Koestler (1964). The Act of Creation. He explains all this. i.e. How ideas go from brain to brain.

All theories, ideologies, and belief systems have certain key ideas; those of Darwinism include variation, selection, adaptation, and competition, and if this is all that Dawkins means by ‘essence’ who could disagree? But he actually thinks that the essence of the Darwinism meme is much more than this, and involves the agreement by all who hold the theory about what it implies. Disagreements about what the theory implies must therefore produce a different, heretical meme:

The differences in the ways that people represent the theory are then, by definition, not part of the meme. If Darwin’s theory can be subdivided into components, such that some people believe component A but not component B, while others believe B but not A, then A and B should be regarded as separate memes. (ibid., 210)

Ahem. Is this not the `variation’ in: selection, VARIATION and transmission-with-heredity?

He is forced into this position because he is trying to salvage the claim that meme transmission does have strong fidelity of copying, so that memes can preserve their identity over many replications. But his claim has the obvious and fundamental flaw that the key ideas, especially adaptation and selection, are not simple and transparent notions at all, but have very complex implications and unpredictable ramifications about which there will inevitably be disagreements. 

Whatever. Memes are holons, and holarchies and memeplexes. The Darwinian theory of evolution – as Darwin laid it out in The Origin Of Species is there in the text of the 1859 book, still for all to see (notably – he updated it a bit, in later versions. So – he even varied it (the theory) himself. But all scientific theories evolve – and `get better’ (more accurate) like this over time, and sometimes a new theory {meme} comes along – and we all need to throw out the old one.)

All scientific theories are memes, memeplexes, holons and holarchies.

And all copies of the actual book (Origin of Species) from 1859 are exact copies of each other, right?

Well, yes and no, as – on a molecular level, each page in each different book is – slightly different. The universe is a very messy place. But if we are just going to look at the holon at the level of the text, the text of the book itself is coped by a printing press – and is pretty much, identical. Except – it’s not, as sometimes the ink is running out – and some of the text on some pages of the book is faint/faded. Okay so – all digital copies of the book on CD-ROM (say) are identical, right? Well, more or less. Yes. (Some CD-ROMs have tiny manufacturing flaws, and so errors creep in.)

The moral: stop being so nit-picky and pedantic about this `fidelity of copying’ business. The universe is full of errors and flaws.

Given human error, and the odds against life ever even evolving – and our ancestors surviving – it’s amazing that we’re even here to discuss this. Life is amazing.

You should just go chill out and examine an entangled bank sometime. It will blow your mind. (See: Darwin on entangled banks.)

Gould’s and Vrba’s 1982 concept of exaptation, for example, denies that all adapted features of an organism were historically the result of natural selection, and Kauffman 1993 maintains that there are spontaneous sources of order in organisms that do not need selection to explain them. Some biologists think that these ideas are compatible with standard Darwinian theory, others do not. The memeticists assert that the meme is a valid analogy of the gene, and a truly Darwinian concept, while other biologists dismiss it as a meaningless metaphor.

Well then – if that is true – all biologists should read Velikovsky 2013. And Koestler 1964 (The Act of Creation). And – so should you.

What the key ideas imply is therefore not fixed at all, but grows and changes in the course of further discoveries and arguments – as, for instance when Darwinism had to assimilate the new science of genetics in the twentieth century.

Aha! Listen, here’s a crazy idea, why not read Koestler 1964. He covers all this in 700 pages of glorious detail, and diagrams included. Also try Creativity 1996, and Simonton 2004 (Creativity in Science). And Kuhn 1967 (The Ghost In The Machine).

The fact that a theory has some key ideas does not therefore mean that they constitute an immutable essence, or that those who believe the theory will necessarily agree about their application to real problems. The theorists are simply working within the framework of a common tradition, in which some ideas are more important and last longer than others because people understand their strategic importance in the theory, and because of their generality.    

Ahem. See all the above books. Read them all. Now. Especially all the ideas from the 1960s.

This stuff was all settled over 50 years ago. You seem to be totally ignorant of that fact/that knowledge..?

Again, Dennett, having reminded us that Darwinian evolution ‘depends on very high fidelity copying’ of the DNA, then goes on to say:

Minds (or brains) on the other hand, aren’t much like photocopying machines at all. On the contrary, instead of just dutifully passing on their messages, correcting most of the typos as they go, brains seem to be designed to do just the opposite: to transform, invent, interpolate, censor, and generally mix up the ‘input’ before yielding any ‘output’. Isn’t one of the hallmarks of cultural evolution and transmission the extraordinarily high rate of mutation and recombination? (Dennett 1995:355)

Who really cares about the level of fidelity? Look – some people have a photographic memory – and can remember a whole page of a book (and, all the memes/words/diagrams/photos in it) totally perfectly. Most of us don’t. – Who really cares? Memes still spread in culture (ideas, processes, products).

What, then, is his answer to the fidelity problem? Essentially, it is to substitute the cultural trait, the ‘distinctly memorable unit’, for the meme:

‘One of the most striking features of cultural evolution is the ease, reliability, and confidence with which we can identify commonalities in spite of vast differences in underlying media’ (ibid.,356).

He mentions the common theme in the plots of Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, pottery styles, monarchy, and tattooing, and on p.344 gives the examples of the Odyssey, calculus, chess, perspective drawing, and evolution by natural selection. The anthropologist would accept these as cultural traits, in the sense of asking which of them are to be found in societies X, Y, and Z. But they are transmitted by an often arduous process of learning that can take years, not by anything resembling imitation and, like Dawkins’s ‘essence’ of Darwinism, they also have no resemblance to the meme defined as an instruction trying to replicate itself. Blackmore has nothing more significant to contribute, and we can conclude that memetics has no answer at all to the basic problem of fidelity of copying. And without this, of course, selection cannot work.

Ahem. Selection, Variation and Transmission-with-heredity. Just read Koestler 1964. Just. Do. It.

(NB – A Nike brand meme. I am pretty sure 99% of people reading this knew that – as that is a very viral meme, in culture.)

6. Invention and design. – To understand the process of cultural transmission, then, we must take the inner workings of people’s minds into consideration, but just as memeticists are embarrassed by the structural properties of societies and belief systems, and avoid mentioning them as far as possible, they are remarkably silent about what goes on inside the mind.

Oh dear God. Read Koestler 1964. Please. Or else, I will kill one of us. Soon. This. Has Got. To. Stop.

(A meme from the movie Maniac, starring Joe Spinell: “It’s got… to stop…”)

Note that Velikovsky’s (2013) model of Memetics includes: Bio-Psycho-Socio-Politoco-Cultural-Cosmic evolution. The whole box-and-dice.

Note that – there is no `bio’ (biology) without an underlying: Physics – and Chemistry. I don’t think I am missing anything. Everything is a whole and a part. A holon.

This even includes: the Multiverses. (See: Multiverse Theory, and M-Theory. Surely – if Holarchies apply all the way up (bigger) – and down (smaller, e.g. a Higgs boson) – there are multiverses. Not just: this one universe.)

Also – the Higgs-boson is probably: the universe. Our universe. This one. I bet, it’s all just one big recursive loop. Seriously. Same idea that: all electrons in the universe are just all the one electron. I bet you think I am talking nonsense now. But – read some Science. The universe/reality is weirder than you can imagine.

Clearly they do not deny that inner mental processes take place, but they cannot allow them to be directed by conscious human goal-seeking, because that would allow the demon of the designer to reappear on the scene, which would be almost as bad as the return of God. But inner mental processes are obviously of special importance when we try to explain how new memes are invented.

Forget all that stuff Blackmore was talking about, with “memes having a mind of their own”. That was a flight of fancy, and – good on her for making it though, as sometimes you have to `go too far’ just to find out where the limits/boundaries are.

Like I say, humans have Culture. Memes (ideas, processes, products) only get selected varied and transmitted when human minds want (or need) them to. We do have free will/choices. We are influenced by the ideas (the model of reality in our head) but – we still make choices. (See Koestler 1964 on all that.)

If we choose to be a Muslim or Christian, and that means, we are in theory, not allowed to sin – that’s because – we have chosen to `buy the whole idea’ (or part of the idea) of: a brand of Christianity that someone invented, and that then evolved in Culture.

(Note: we only know as much of it – a religion – as we have learned/know. This often includes some very weird “rules”: eg Thou Shalt Not Eat Candy on days with a `Y’ in them. And – Thou Shalt Not Be Gay. etc). We choose what we believe. Some people are too thick to realize (examine) what they believe – and so, they just believe it anyway.

And as for this: “But inner mental processes are obviously of special importance when we try to explain how new memes are invented.”

Christ-on-a-pikestick – will you just read Koestler 1964, and Creativity 1996? And Simonton 2004 (Creativity in Science)? This is all getting tedious now. Frealz.

Blackmore uses the case of the Cherokee Indian Sequoyah, who designed a syllabary for his own language in about 1820, as a test case for memetics.

I have suggested that human consciousness is not the driving force behind the creation of language (or anything else for that matter) and Sequoyah looks like the ideal case to prove me wrong. In fact, I choose him as a perfect opportunity to explain what I mean. Sequoyah was presumably as conscious as any human being. In discussions about creativity people often assume that consciousness is somehow responsible for creativity, but their view meets with serious problems as soon as you try to imagine what it means. You are almost forced into adopting a dualist position, with consciousness as something separate from the brain, that magically leaps in and invents things. A more common view in science is to ignore consciousness and treat creativity as a product of the intelligence and ability of the individual concerned – ultimately taking the process back to brain mechanisms. This escapes from the dualist trap but leaves out the importance of all the ideas already available in the creative environment. The memetic view includes all this. What I am proposing is this. Human brains and minds are a combined product of genes and memes. As Dennett (1991:107) puts it ‘a human mind is itself an artifact created when memes restructure a human brain in order to make it a better habitat for memes’. In Sequoyah’s case he must have had an exceptional brain, with exceptional determination and motivation, and he happened to come across a writing system that was already available at a time when his own people were in a position to take up his ideas and use them. Sequoyah’s thinking was an exceptional part of the process, but was itself created out of the interplay between memes and genes. All this is a wonderful example of replication creating design out of nowhere. As ever, there is no designer other than the evolutionary process. (Blackmore 1999:206-7)

Sheesh. “I have suggested that human consciousness is not the driving force behind the creation of language (or anything else for that matter) and Sequoyah looks like the ideal case to prove me wrong.”

Look, Blackmore IS wrong on all this. I am telling you – you should just read Koestler 1964. And – so should she. And read Csikszentmihalyi – and all the scientific research on Creativity. Sheesh.

It may be conceded that this is a very unimpressive account of our mental processes, even at an every-day level of analysis. All this talk of ‘the interplay between memes and genes’ is not much of an improvement on Dawkins’s notion of cultural soup,

I already explained `cultural soup’ (the meme pool) to you. Stop this! The meme pool is just `all memes in culture’ (ie ideas, processes, products), in the same way `the gene pool’ is all genes in biology (or: in a certain population).

and our previous discussions of the invention of chaos theory, and the shipping-container, illustrates how extremely bizarre is the memeticist assumption that conscious thought is not involved in invention, and that ‘replication can create design out of nowhere’. The creative flash of inspiration itself may often not be produced by conscious calculation, but is well known to arise unexpectedly, and there would be nothing very surprising if the initial idea for the shipping-container had occurred to Mr McLean in this way.

Well – the past Memeticists – geniuses though they all are – were all just fumbling around in the dark for 30 years. Then Velikovsky 2013 happened, and we have to throw out everything – and we can now reboot `Memetics’ from Velikovsky 2013. Seriously.

Let’s call it Memetic Culturology. A fresh start. Out with the old, let’s have a clean slate.

I have come along and totally reinvented Memetics, so don’t start importing the old ideas without asking me first if it’s right. (Nobody else but me seems to yet understand, all this stuff.)

The real issue here, however, is not actually creativity at all, but problem solving,

Thank God, you are finally getting warm here. (By the way: all creativity is problem-solving, which again shows how confused you are. Can I now refer you to: all the scientific literature on Creativity?)

and this is necessarily conscious, because it involves having a conversation with oneself with questions and answers, and one cannot have such a conversation without being aware of it. The question ‘What dimensions should my containers be?’ must have occurred to Mr McLean, and ‘How can I put my language as marks onto paper?’ is a question that Sequoyah must have asked himself, as a preliminary, and while he began by trying to represent whole words by pictures he clearly became dissatisfied with the enormous numbers of these that were needed, and then asked himself what alternative there could be. He is said to have been inspired to use sounds instead of pictures while listening to a bird singing, and recognising some similarities in its notes to the Cherokee language. It was nevertheless a conscious recognition, as were his subsequent choices of symbols from picture books to represent particular sounds, and his organization of his syllabary around the six vowels of the Cherokee language. This elaborate syllabic structure could only have been produced by a series of questions and choices that were consciously made, and no ‘magical leaping in and inventing things’ occurred at all. (Note the obsessive tendency to treat any idea of human creativity as superstitious.)


You keep usin dat word. I do not tink it meens, whut u tink it meens.”

(A meme from The Princess Bride. Awesome movie.)

Look, read Csikszentmihalyi on `Creativity’. E.g. Creativity 1996.

Oh and did I mention: read Koestler 1964. It’s called “The Act of Creation”. It’s all about: Creativity. In the arts, sciences, and humour. Seriously.

It’s a good book, you’d like it.

A better example of memes being coordinated and developed in new ways by conscious human purpose in a situation perceived as similar is that of the meme itself.

You are finally `getting it’. Sort of.

While Dawkins invented the actual word ‘meme’ he was not, of course, the first to think of the idea it represents.

Wait, you just said `invented’.

Note closely exactly what Dawkins did when he `invented’ the word `meme’.

He first of all selected the word `mimeme’, and then he varied it (to: `meme’), and then transmitted it into his book, and thus transmitted it out into the meme pool/culture.

It (the word `meme’) has heredity as – part of the word mimeme, ie `meme’ was inherited by the new variation of the word. – Do you see?

So – selection (he first selected mimeme, from a whole range of possible options that he looked at), then variation (he chopped off the `mi-‘ bit, at the start of the word), and then he did transmission-with-heredity (he transmitted/put it into the text of his book, The Selfish Gene). Do you see? That is how creativity – and in fact all Culture, works.


If one believes, for whatever reason, that the neo- Darwinian paradigm can be validly extended to human culture, then there will obviously be a problem of finding some basic unit of replication upon which selection can work, analogous to the gene.

Great, and it’s now been done, read this: Velikovsky 2013.

Many other others who have reflected on this problem have come up with essentially the same solution: the mneme (Semon 1921), the memory image (Blum 1963), the idea (Boulding 1970), the instruction (Cloak 1975) the concept (Hill 1978), the culturgen (Lumsden and Wilson 1981), the menteme (Stuart-Fox 1986), and of course the meme itself (Dawkins 1976). While it is true that there has been competition between the various alternatives to the meme, and Dawkins congratulates himself on the victory of the meme over the culturgen (Dawkins 1999:xiv), the invention of these different terms did not constitute a mutation, a blind innovation in the meme soup. Each of these thinkers was consciously looking for something which would perform essentially the same conceptual task in a wider context of Darwinian theory – units of information competing for survival and replication.

Note that – What you have just explained then, is: selection. variation, and transmission-with-heredity in every single case, of those words. (`mneme’, `culturegen’, etc)

Note also that – no matter what word they used for the concept, none of those guys actually ever figured out what a meme really is, like I did.

It’s possible I am a goddamn-bonafides-genius.

Possible even that I am: the Watson-and-Crick of Culture.

So – Kneel Before Zod.

(Note: a meme from Superman II)

7. Can memetics actually solve any problems?

OMG. Memes themselves ARE solutions to problems. THAT IS WHAT CREATIVITY and CULTURE IS !!!

Read Koestler 1964. And Csikszentmihalyi 1996. And Simonton 2004 (Creativity In Science).

Also, take a look at the meme of StoryAlity Theory sometime.

It solves problems of: How To Write/Make A Movie That People Will Like. It solves real-world problems like: 7 in 10 movies lose money, and 98% of screenplays go unmade.


Sheesh cubed!

Whereas the notion of the gene, from its beginnings with Mendel, proved a very powerful solution to specific problems, a growing criticism of memetics is that it has not been able to solve any real problems in a convincing way.

That’s because before a genius like Velikovsky 2013 happened, nobody ever really knew what Culture actually was. See Kroeber and Kluckholn (1952). They listed 164 definitions of `Culture’ – and everyone was totally confused.

In my opinion, memetics has reached a crunch point. If, in the near future, it does not demonstrate that it can be more than merely a conceptual framework, it will be selected out…

Well I just saved and redeemed it.

I vote we call it Memetic Culturology from now on.

(I was first on the `new block’, so I get to make the new rules.)

Later on – when I am dead – I want us to call it `Evolutionary Culturology’ as it’s really the same as Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Psychology, Evolutionary Sociology, etc.

People need to realize: Universal Creativity all works the same way – it’s the evolutionary algorithm. `Universal Darwinism’ sounds a bit too `scary’ somehow. Like `Universal Marxism’ or something. (Eeech.)

A framework for thinking about phenomena can be useful if it delivers new insights but, ultimately, if there are no usable results academics will look elsewhere. (Edmonds 2009:198)

Well check it out now.

I singlehandedly brought it back from the dead. As – I am a Romantic GENIUS: I had the idea when I was hit by lightning from a Muse while in the bathtub dreaming of a snake swallowing its own tail and I noticed the level of the water in the bathtub changed when I got out and I yelled Eureka! as I ran naked down the street.

Actually – no matter whether you view me as a Romantic genius, or the scientific notion of a creative genius, I am still a genius. There’s no getting around it.

I am the uber-duber-menschen.

A useful test case of the explanatory power of the meme has been provided by W.G.Runciman, one of the vanishingly small number of sociologists who is a keen supporter of memes, and who has attempted to use them to explain the survival and eventual extinction of citizen-hoplite warfare in the Greek city states. Runciman, like other memeticists, is hard-pressed to give any clear definition of the meme, and the best he can manage is that they are ‘bundles of information or instructions transmitted exosomatically as units of cultural selection’ (1998:735).

Well, tell him to give me a call, and I’ll explain it all to him sometime.

(Or – I guess – he could just read Velikovsky 2013, in about 5 mins flat. Yeah – tell him just to do that.)

Ok – so, then – I see in the Hallpike (2004) article – there is all this guff about, Runciman trying to figure out “how the military institution of citizen-hoplite warfare managed to survive from the middle of the seventh century BC to the middle of the fourth, when it was replaced by mercenary warfare, and says that ‘it is difficult to see how the persistence of hoplite warfare can be accounted for without reference to the distinctive set of norms, values and beliefs which both encouraged and legitimated it.’ (ibid., 733).”

He (Runciman) sure sounds confused. Look – I have no idea, it all sounds pretty complicated, and I have never even heard of “citizen-hoplite warfare”. I’d suggest – you probably had to be there in the 7th century BC to the 4th century BC, to figure out why. History is like that. It’s a big messy mystery. So – he’s probably never going to get enough good data/evidence, to be able to figure out all the details there. Poor guy. I feel sorry for him. Good data is crucial. I also used to be the national Games Market Analyst for Australia, did I ever tell you that? It’s true. Ask my good buddy Phil Burnham at GfK (previously, Inform Pty Ltd).

So far, then, memetics has failed every basic test of its viability, but there is worse.

Yes agreed – Memetics – as a domain – was a complete mess before Velikovsky 2013. It was a pseudo-science. But then – Velikovsky 2013 totally revolutionised all that.

Amazing really. Truly Creative Geniuses like that only come along every few hundred years. Seriously.

Memetics as self-refuting. While, as we have seen in the case of Sequoyah, memetics denies human intellectual control of the meme production process, it does allow some role for human psychology in the selection of memes:

Actions that are easy to imitate will make for successful memes and ones that are difficult to imitate will not. Apart from that, the effective transmission of memes depends critically on human preferences, attention, emotions and desires – in other words the stuff of evolutionary psychology. For genetic reasons we are driven by the desires for sex, for sex of different kinds, for food, for better food, for avoiding danger and for excitement and power. (Blackmore 1999:58)

Look, Blackmore is great but is also clearly tripping a lot of the time (have you seen how sometimes, she dyes her hair all crazy-rad hippie colours and stuff?), and look – she’s a Philosopher, not a Scientist. So, what do you expect…? She’s gonna go hog-wild with the `out-there’ ideas, sometimes – and the truth might be a casualty in the process. But – you still gotta give her some credit. I like her book (The Meme Machine, 1999), even if, I totally disagree with at least half of it. – It’s not her fault she’s not quite the genius I am.

One can therefore understand why memes relating to sex, power, money, and excitement should find it easier to replicate than those linked to repression, weakness, poverty, and boredom.

Be careful here. Some of what you are talking about is just Biology and instinct, and not Culture (i.e. non-genetically transmitted ideas, processes and products).

Sounds like someone needs to read up on some literary Darwinism, and evolutionary psychology. Eg Carroll, Pinker etc. See this list of books – and read them all: StoryAlity – Consilience is Coming

But does truth have any selective advantage over falsity? ‘Natural selection’, says Blackmore, `has generally equipped us to choose ideas that are true over those that are false.’

Look, I don’t really care what Blackmore says, there: Here’s the thing – If a meme (idea, process, product) works, i.e. solves a problem, then it will spread.

Memes that solve more problems, or solve them in a better cost/benefit ratio – will go more viral.

And memes that suck (don’t solve problems well) will probably die out – or become rare (less populous). They will be found in less human minds.

Of course – there are some crazy-people out there – so `conspiracy theories’ also abound. Those too are viral memes in some cases. – They `solve problems’ where not enough facts/evidence can be located.

So, conspiracy theories are just like religions: when they can’t actually get at the truth (the facts/evidence) they make up a fake answer – and it feels like a `real’ answer. And so – we satisfice. ie “That seems to work / seems to solve the problem/answer the question; so – meh – that will do.”

`Our perceptual systems are designed to provide as accurate a model of the external world as possible.’

Exactly. There are some great articles in literary Darwinism on all this. See the great book Human Nature: Fact and Fiction (2005). See specifically the chapter called: The biology of the imagination: how the brain can both play with truth and survive a predator – by Simon Baron-Cohen.

`Our capacity to think and solve problems is designed to give true rather than false answers, so in general, true memes should thrive better than false ones.’ (Blackmore ibid., 180) 

Okay. Sounds a fair enough inference to make…?

In the first place, our perceptual systems have nothing whatsoever to do with memes because they operate entirely on the level of individual physiology, with no social input from other people.

Wrong! Read Koestler 1964. Seriously. I am not even kidding right now. He speaks about exactly this! With reams of evidence.

Secondly, the claim that ‘Our capacity to think and solve problems is designed to give true rather than false answers’ is obviously wrong.

Huh? Are you nuts?

Try reading some evolutionary psychology (Pinker, etc). Sorry but I really don’t think Hallpike understands much about How The Mind Works.

In particular, ‘scientific method’, unlike vision and hearing, was not designed by genetic selection at all, but is the result of a recent historical process of what Blackmore would call memetic selection,

Nonsense! Science is just problem-solving, and problem-solving is what all Life does, if it survives. Think about it.

and in general a vast amount of human thought is mistaken, at least to some degree.

Well – I can say for sure, that a vast amount of yours certainly is…

And since Blackmore is particularly keen to combat ‘false’ memes, notably those of religion, and the illusion of personality,

Look, Blackmore is tripping most of the time, with this stuff. She is right that Religion is garbage – and just gets in the way of Science, but this “illusion of personality” stuff is pure LSD fantasy.

Personality is biological-psychological-sociological-cultural. Lots of interacting systems.

she is obliged to admit that ‘Memes do not need to be true to be successful’ (ibid., 180).

Well – she is right about some of this stuff. Religions are not true, and Science is. But you don’t have to work very hard to figure it out. In the Pleistocene Era – we didn’t have Science yet, so we just made up the answers to all our `mysterious’ questions (cue: Religion).

Read this article: How Problem Solving and Neurotransmission in the Upper Paleolithic led to The Emergence and Maintenance of Memetic Equilibrium in Contemporary World Religions (diCarlo 2010)

She concedes that it is to the memes’ advantage to be able to mimic truth, just as it is to their advantage to be able to mimic altruism, and other desirable memes like ‘successful’, ‘scientific’, ‘supported by overwhelming evidence’, ‘a triumphant paradigm’, and so on.

True. Memes don’t have to be true to work / go viral. Look at rumours and gossip – that are lies. They can still spread. And, sometimes, all they need to be, is: interesting. But – they still solve problems. (eg: Problem: Tell me something interesting, I am bored. Solution: Here is some random rumour/gossip.)

Since the only ‘aim’ of memes is to replicate as much as possible, there is no reason why they should have any innate bias towards truth or anything else of concern to human beings. Remember that ‘The first rule of memes, as for genes, is that replication is not necessarily for the good of anything; replicators flourish that are good at…replication – for whatever reason!’. (Dennett 1995:362)

Yes, Dennett is right. Dennett is great. I like Dennett. Leave Dennett alone. Dennett is the Bertrand Russell of our times. Stop criticizing him, he’s awesome. Blackmore is great too, leave her alone as well.

So how can we tell when memes are only mimicking the truth? Since Blackmore has ruled out the operation of conscious reasoning as a means to attain truth, there can only be the mindless competition of the memes inside the ‘meme habitat’ of our brains, and since we cannot expect the memes themselves to be honest with us there seems no way left by which any objective notion of truth could be established.

Well, you have confused yourself again. All you need to do is check if the meme is true or false.

Example: There is a meme that says `Elvis Lives!’

So – Is Elvis alive? Biologically? NO. He’s biologically dead. But – is his music and various other memes he left behind (and his movies, etc) `alive’? Well, yes – figuratively speaking, they `live on’.

Are the conspiracies about him being still biologically alive true? No. (The evidence would suggest he is dead.) But – some people want him to be still alive, so, they (appear to) believe it.

Is God real? No. It is just a viral meme, like Santa Claus. The meme(plex) of Santa Claus involves ideas, processes and products. (The idea of St Nick, a red suit, a white beard.) The process of people dressing up as Santa Claus, and pretending to be him. The products of: the Santa suit, and the presents, etc. A meme does not have to be true to survive, it just has to solve some problems. (e.g. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a sort of `blackmail mechanism’ to scare children into being nice, and not naughty. e.g.: “He’s makin a list… He’s checkin it twice, He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice, Santa Claus is coming to town”) That whole memeplex – Santa Claus, who rewards well-behaved children with present (and `punishes’ those who are not by withholding presents) is sheer genius, even though it’s a huge lie/conspiracy.

However popular and successful a scientific theory may be, this can therefore only show that its memes have been particularly successful in replicating themselves, but it is quite possible that this is due to their skilful mimicry of truth.

You’re tripping. You’ve been reading too much Susan Blackmore. Get those memes out of your head. Do like she suggests, just go meditate and “think of nothing” or something.

You now need a mental enema. Flush those memes out. Let Velikovsky 2013 be your mental laxative when it comes to Memetics.

Until the nineteenth century, Euclidean geometry was wrongly thought to be necessarily true of the physical world; Ptolemaic astronomy was a highly sophisticated astronomical model that survived for around 1500 years until Copernicus; Newton’s physics was unchallenged until Einstein in the twentieth century, and in other areas of knowledge, too, many theories that were passionately believed to be true, like Marxism, Freudianism, and Behaviourism, are now as the snows of yesteryear, but they were highly successful memes in their time.

Boy you are really getting mixed up now. Quit overthinking everything – and just read all those books that I told you to. Start with Koestler 1964. Seriously.

In all this we see nothing more than the ceaseless ebb and flow of competing memes, a process in which the science of memetics itself can claim no privileged status.

You have now totally lost it.

The so-called progress of science is a mirage that has simply been produced by the ever-increasing ability of memes to mimic truth, an ability honed, of course, by natural selection.

You have just invented a conspiracy theory. Nice meme though, I like what you did there (inspired by Blackmore) but – I am afraid it’s also: nonsense.

If memetics is true, the belief that we can somehow stand outside the process and make conscious, independent, and objective judgements about truth and falsity is an illusion.

Okay – but that’s only true in the odd configuration you are now calling Memetics, i.e. the absolute mess of competing random ideas that were made in the past 30 years – as nobody had actually yet made a proper Science of Memetics. So now – let us sweep all that garbage away (noting that – some of it by coincidence happens to be correct, but mostly just lucky guesses). Now – empty your mind of all you know on Memetics.

Now – read Velikovsky 2013 and THAT is the start of Memetics as a Domain.

All else that has gone before in the so-called Domain of Memetics is: but shadows and dust.


(Note: A `Gladiator’ meme)

Indeed, the very notion of truth itself is simply a highly successful meme.

Oh – cut it out, already. You sound like Foucault or Derrida or someone. This is just drivel.

At this point memeticists therefore have a choice. On the one hand they can agree that objective scientific research is possible, that people can consciously create new hypotheses, test them by measurement and experiment, and build up bodies of knowledge that have high claims to be true, or at least good approximations to the truth.

Yes. Good call. That is exactly what I have done. See these two posts:

#100 – Holonic Structure of the Meme: the unit of culture
#101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology

Next, Hallpike says:

This also concedes that the same kind of mental activities are possible in other areas of life besides science, and that generally it is we who create the memes in the first place, for our own purposes, and that their spread is not simply blind imitation, but can be mediated by conscious thought: in other words, that memetics is false.

Stop. You have just created a false dichotomy. Memetics is now true, but – it all has to start with Velikovsky 2013. You really need to forget almost everything else that has gone before, in Memetics.

Some of what Dawkins, Blackmore and Dennett have said on the topic is actually correct, but – you really need to be very careful (selective!) about: which exact bits.

On the other hand, they can cling to their faith in memetics, in which case, for reasons we have seen, the whole idea of objective truth becomes an illusion, another trick, like altruism, pulled off by the memes to improve their own replication.

This is all garbage. Blackmore got at least half of her ideas about Memetics wrong in her book (The Meme Machine, 1999). Seriously. I am telling you. She was, like everyone else – up until me – i.e.: just speculating.

OSVK: Others Speculate; Velikovsky Knows.

Memes can only be more or less successful, not more or less true, from which it follows that memetics itself is only one memeplex among hosts of others, and like science as a whole can have no claim to objective truth.

Wrong. Science is about objective truth, and there is now a Science of Memetics. It is within a new Domain called Memetic Culturology – and I just created it.

ie – “And Velikovsky said: Let There Be A Science of Memes; and – There Was…”

Memetics, like extreme cultural relativism, or Derrida’s deconstructionism, is then swallowed up by its own scepticism.

This is all nonsense. To be fair, a lot of Memetics was mostly nonsense, until I happened. (See: Velikovsky 2013)

But the one thing the memeticists cannot possibly do is build themselves some kind of latter-day Noah’s Ark of objective scientific truth, which can keep their ideas safe, while everything else is swept away in the Great Flood of memes.

Fantastic. So – In other words, I have just done the impossible.

I knew it…! Behold – I am like a Zod, Knowing…

Now, everone – KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!

There is an underlying truism at the heart of memetics, which is that social systems and systems of ideas are not under the control of anyone, and develop in unpredictable ways.

No – not true. We can make predictions. We just need good data first, then we can give probabilities of what will happen next. Same as in Biology. If we know the genetics of the parents – we can give probabilities that their kids will – or won’t – have certain inheritable diseases.

Likewise – if we know the memetics of a given cultural situation then we can predict what will happen next, but – all that means is – we can attach probabilities to the possible outcomes.

Read some Probability Theory. Pascal created that. Read about it in Koestler (1964). Seriously.

But it is remarkably perverse to conclude from this that we are therefore nothing more than the passive vehicles of our ideas and artefacts, and that our choices, purposes, and creativity do not play an essential part in social life and its evolution over time even though we cannot control or predict its outcome.

What you just suggested is not just remarkably perverse, it’s flat-out wrong. I know all this stuff, just ask me.

Also – FIGJAM. (Another meme. i.e.: Far-Out I’m Good, Just Ask Me.)

While science is often counter-intuitive, we should not assume that whatever is counterintuitive must therefore be science.

Jeeeezus. Someone’s put too much sugar on their cereal today. You’ve totally lost it.

The whole strange phenomenon of memetics calls to mind Sir Peter Medawar’s obituary of Freudian psychiatry as ‘a terminal product…something akin to a dinosaur or a zeppelin in the history of ideas: a vast structure of radically unsound design and with no posterity.’ (Medawar 1982:140)

Hah! Wrong – and – Eat my dust!

And – read Velikovsky 2013.

i.e. – You could hardly be wronger, at this point in time.

Now (in 2013, onwards) Memetics can be a true Science, and not: just a pseudo-science.

Oh, and I nearly forgot… read: Koestler 1964. The Act of Creation. 

The Act of Creation (Koestler 1964)

– Comments always welcome.

PS – So now, you can go read (1) Memetics: a Darwinian pseudo-science. C. R. Hallpike (2004): http://hallpike.com/Memetics.%20A%20Darwinian%20pseudo-science.pdf 

And you will clearly see why he is now (in 2013 – and still in 2016) wrong, about everything to do with Memetics.

And – in the next 3 x posts, I’ll likewise examine (and refute):

(2) “Memes as pseudoscience.” The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience (2002): 664 – Polichak, James W. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=Gr4snwg7iaEC&pg=PA664&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

(3) “Memetics: A dangerous idea.” Interciencia 26.1 (2001): 29-31. Benítez-Bribiesca, Luis  http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=33905206

(4) “Spare Me Your Memes” (1996) Jaron Lanier debates Charles Simonyi and Mike Godwin on the concept and value of Memes http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge1.html

ie Solving “the unit of culture” was a hard problem.

But now it’s solved.

And – for more detail on the evolutionary systems (or, complexity) view of narrative and bioculture in general, see, this book chapter:

StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture – and the narreme, or unit of story – book chapter (Velikovsky 2016)

And for a great consilience & creativity & evolution reading list, see:

StoryAlity #71On Consilience in the Arts / Humanities / Communication

Comments, always welcome.


JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/



Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `The Holon/Parton Theory of the Unit of Culture (or the Meme, and Narreme): In Science, Media, Entertainment and the Arts.‘ In A. Connor & S. Marks (Eds.), Creative Technologies for Multidisciplinary Applications. New York: IGI Global.

And – Hallpike (2004), and those other schmucks.


6 thoughts on “StoryAlity #102 – Reply to 4 critics of “Memetics as a pseudo-science” (Part 1 of 4) – Hallpike 2004

  1. Pingback: StoryAlity #103 – Reply to 4 critics of “Memetics as a pseudo-science” (Part 2 of 4) – Polichak 2002 | StoryAlity

  2. Pingback: StoryAlity #105 – Reply to 4 critics of “Memetics as a pseudo-science” (Part 4 of 4) – Lanier 1996 | StoryAlity

  3. Pingback: StoryAlity #104 – Reply to 4 critics of “Memetics as a pseudo-science” (Part 3 of 4) – Benitez-Bribiesca 2001 | StoryAlity

  4. Pingback: StoryAlity #109 – Memetics and Film | StoryAlity

  5. Pingback: StoryAlity#137 – Culturology & the CES (Cultural Evolution Society) | StoryAlity

  6. Pingback: StoryAlity #109 – Memetics and Film | StoryAlity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.