Tuesday, 28 February 2012

John Maynard Smith on social biology

Videos of John Maynard Smith on sociobiology:

A full list of the videos from the John Maynard Smith interview with Richard Dawkins is here.

John Maynard Smith only wrote about memetics a little. In 1999 he showed signs of having come around, writing:

I used to regard the meme as a fun idea - helpful in explaining to students that there can be more than one kind of replicator, and that all replicators evolve by natural selection - but not as an idea which could be used to do much serious work. Genes have clear rules of transmission (in sexual organisms, Mendel’s laws) whereas you can learn memes not only from parents, but from friends, books, films and so on. Consequently population genetics can generate precise, testable predictions, whereas it seemed to me difficult to make such predictions about memes. Susan Blackmore’s book, The Meme Machine, has gone some way to changing my mind. Perhaps we can make the meme idea do some work.

Update 2017: the full text of John Maynard Smith's review of the meme Machine is now online - from the link above.

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