Re: Re(4): virus: Forwarding: some comments about the concept

David McFadzean (
Sat, 06 Jan 1996 13:48:01 -0700

At 12:35 AM 20/12/95 -0800, Chris Stefaniw wrote:

>After thinking about the messages for awhile, I see that your reasons for
>believing your claims tend to make more sense than my reasons for doubting
>them. However, there is one notable exception (even though this may just be
>mostly a matter of semantics). This exception is that of a definition of
>memes that includes any "pattern in the nervous system which *causes* some
>identifiable behavior." Why do we draw a causal relation between these
>patterns and behaviors? I'm not about to argue the fact that there's a

I've been trying to come up with a good answer to this question for some
time now (hence the late reply) and I have to admit that when it comes
right down to it, I don't know how or why anything causes anything.
Some research into philosophical treatments of causality unfortunately
didn't shed much light on the matter, it seems the professionals are
as confused about it as I. For example, some have suggested that
causality is really an abstraction of statistical correlation, which
seems to have some truth to it until you realize that one implication
is that day causes night and vice versa which doesn't seem very
intuitive. I would be interested if anyone has read a good analysis
of causality.

>relationship, but it's difficult to see why we should think that memes cause
>behaviors. Sure, memes are associated with behaviors, but do memes really
>produce an effect, result, or consequence of any kind where we can determine
>that the meme has caused it? Do we have any more reason to think that neural
>patterns cause behaviors than to think that behaviors cause neural patterns?

I was working under the assumption that memes cause our behavior in the
same or similar way that computer programs (being patterns of information
in memory) cause computers to behave. Of course the causality gets
extremely complex when it is an interactive application which causes
the human user to enter data or click the mouse in such a way as to
control the program. In this case the user and the program are controlling
each other; together they form a recurrent complex dynamic system. My
claim is that both the computer and human are recurrent complex
dynamic systems by themselves, though the human is more complex by
several orders of magnitude. Is this making any sense?

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Merak Projects Ltd.