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Replies to some critics of “Memetics as a pseudo-science” (Part 2 of 4: Polichak 2002)

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 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 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 in 2016) we have (1) identified the meme, and (2) provided a true scientific paradigm for Memetics – 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 `problems’ in Memetics now need solving.

(In short, there don’t seem to be any. We seem to have solved all the problems at once, in 2013, by identifying the meme.)

Some of the prior `key articles’ critical of Memetics appear to be:

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

And I have already gone over that article with a fine-toothed-chainsaw here, in the previous post.

Also there is:

(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

(which this post deals with, below…)

Also there is:

(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.

And – note that, below, I am quoting the author of the critical article below, in bold.

(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

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 then – read the following refutation, and then – go and read the actual `critical paper’ itself.

That way – as you finally do read the paper you will already know, as you read it, why he is (now, in 2013) wrong – about each point that I make (i.e. – each criticism he makes, that  in 2013 we can now refute) below.

(By the way – many of his identifications of flaws in Memetics, back in 2002 at the time – were  correct! Nobody back then had explained Memetics – as I have now done in 2013.)

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 – Polichak is referring to the problems with Memetics that existed – back in 2002.

This refutation below, shows why – all those prior criticisms from 2002 about `Memetics is currently a pseudoscience’ no longer apply (as of: 2013) to the Domain of Memetics; Why and How all of these problems Polichak 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/irrelevant) criticisms…

First of all –

Polichak (2002) says: “The writings of memeticists are about as vague as their attempts to define the meme”

Well Polichak, take a look at this scientific and empirical definition of memes: Velikovsky 2013.

– There is nothing vague about that.

As for the rest of the objections here in his article, Polichak confuses himself. He talks about ideas and memory and learning…

All I can suggest is that – he reads Koestler (1964) and (1967). ie The Act of Creation (1964), and The Ghost In The Machine (1967).

Memes (ideas, words, etc) are holons. Koestler 1964 and 1967 lays it all out.

Read it!

Polichak then talks a whole lot about Blackmore’s ideas on memes…

Look, a few of Blackmore’s ideas have great merit, but some of her ideas are wrong – as, like everyone else at the time (1999) – nobody knew what `the meme’ (the unit of culture) was.

Now – we do. (See: Velikovsky 2013)

So – many of Blackmore’s ideas (eg from The Meme Machine 1999) are just wrong. Forget them.

“Memeticists need to more clearly define the kinds of information they are going to deal with, and show that existing models are flawed when it comes to understanding this information”

Okay so: I am telling you now – memes are ideas, processes and products.

And – they are holons.

Existing models (of Cultural Evolution) are flawed as – they don’t understand what Creativity, nor Culture (the Sciences, the Arts, etc) is…

Nor do they explain how Culture (and Creativity) works, in this way.

So, just use this Velikovsky 2013 definition as a basis and you can’t go wrong, seriously.

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

– Comments always welcome.

PS – So now you can go read:

(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

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

And – in the next 2 posts I’ll likewise examine (and: refute):

(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/

————————————

REFERENCES

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 – Polichak (2002), and those other schmucks.

One thought on “StoryAlity #103 – Reply to 4 critics of “Memetics as a pseudo-science” (Part 2 of 4) – Polichak 2002

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

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