virus: What is meant by "memes affecting genes"?

Lior Golgher (
Wed, 16 Oct 1996 22:26:41 -0700

Kenneth Boyd wrote:
> On Sat, 12 Oct 1996, David Leeper wrote:
>> The reverse idea, that memes effect genes, is called the Baldwin Effect. This idea is a little
>> more radical. In fact, it's only resently resurfaced after decades of neglect because some
>> experiments in Artifical Life seem to indicate that the Baldwin Effect actually exists and can
>> be measured.

> The Baldwin effect should occur in physical reality. It's simply a
> selective process based on social/memetic criteria instead of physical
> criteria. I have a very hard time believing that a social/memetic
> criterion cannot show up in the transmission ratios, although it should
> take a less extreme example than WWII to demonstrate.

Two possible interpretation to "memes effect genes":
1. The actual content of memes is saved into genetic information. Which means for example that a British kid is
born with British memes in his mind, transferred to him through his D.N.A.. Those memes require an external
intensification in order to survive, but they already exist in the off-spring. A possible variation of this -
Dormant memes transferred genetically, which erupt in the mind of the off-spring in a certain biological period
and\or due to certain external conditions. A variation of that claim is expressed in Frank Herbert's Dune saga,
especially in Duncan Idaho's various G'ola [sp?]. Though this interpretation contains both a racist and a
deterministic aspect, I'm not sure if we can scientifically refute it with our current knowledge in genetics.
2. Memes effect our selection of mates, thereby effecting the genetical information of our off-springs. Which
means for example that a British kid is likely to have red hair because of a dominant "red hair is beautiful"
meme spread throughout the British isles. That claim is logical.

Now, which of those interpretations is claimed by the Baldwin Effect?