Sunday, 4 September 2011

Yay: transmission!

I use the term "transmission" - from epidemiology - to describe the spread of memes. However, there are some critics of the "transmission" terminology. Here are Cosmides and Tooby (1992, p.118):

The use of the word "transmission" implies that the primary causal process is located in the individuals from whom the representations are derived. In contrast, an evolutionary psychological perspective emphasizes the primacy of the psychological mechanisms in the learner that, given observations of the social world, inferentially reconstruct some of the representations existing in the minds of the observed. Other people are usually just going about their business as they are observed, and are not necessarily intentionally "transmitting" anything.

So, does transmission have to be intentional? Does transmission require an intentional transmitter who is actively doing the transmitting? Or can you transmit unintentionally?

I checked with the dictionary.

It seems to me that there are several precidents for using the term "transmission" without there being any intentionality involved.

One is the idea that glass "transmits" light. That seems to be transmission without any emphasis on an intentional transmitter to me.

Meaning two says: "to communicate, as information or news" - which seems pretty broad and makes no reference to intentionality.

So: I think the "transmission" terminology is fine.

No comments:

Post a Comment