[Lecture] Memetics and Genetics: Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett

RDF Richard Dawkins Foundations for Reason and Science UK & Oxford Atheists, Secularists & Humanists present:

Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett in conversation, Oxford, may 9th 2012.

The conversation begins with noting Darwin’s contribution to the scientific community, positing that Darwinian Evolution is the most disruptive and revolutionary theory in all of recorded science- unifying all aspect of human existence from the arts to biology to physics.

Memes play a large part in the dialogue- beginning with the meme of cultural evolution. The theory being that there is very little premeditated aspects of culture and the machinations of man- that it is a series of revisionism and unintended editing that ‘evolves’ the tropes of humanity.

Exceptions occur, such as Scientology, created whole with premeditation, versus some small sect of Christianity which may be derivative of some mistake, some reinterpretation, or any number of things in the natural imperfect transmission of data.

An example provided by Dawkins is ‘Chinese whispers’ or ‘telephone’ where 20 children in a chain whisper something from mouth to ear and at the end of the line what the last child heard is compared to what the first said.

In some instances where the statement was familiar or in the native tongue, the message will be received well enough, but unfamiliarity or novelty will instigate ‘mutations’ in the meme, thus forming different tropes.

Dawkins supposes that the iterations of the meme can be audited by impartial observers. If the iterations can be correctly sorted in order, then you have ostensible evolution.

This is reminiscent of Laird Scranton’s work, drawing upon his work as a programmer, which enabled him to audit the iterative memes of mythology and all their offshoot permutations, which culminated in his opinion that most religions are derivative of Kemetism (which like Robert Temple he works into a Sirius B ancient astronaut narrative…).

The meme is likened to evangelizing the ‘good news’ which is incorporated into the central tenets of all major religions, allowing the meme to infect it’s host to perpetuate itself like a virus.

Another comparison is meme groups as species, supposing that memes can’t cross-breed. In this case Roman Catholicism and it’s tenets become irreconcilable with Protestantism or Islam. Which many agree they indeed cannot both be correct, at least as currently interpreted (except by those insipid synchromystics)…

It is a fascinating talk. Please give your feedback in the comments, we look forward to hearing them. :)

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