Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Critic Massimo Pigliucci offers daft objections to memetics

Massimo Pigliucci has another dopey article out on memes:

Scientists and philosophers have cast doubt on the usefulness, even the coherence, of the very concept. As my evolutionary biology colleague Jerry Coyne has said, it is ‘completely tautological, unable to explain why a meme spreads except by asserting, post facto, that it had qualities enabling it to spread’. We don’t know how to define memes in a way that is operationally useful to the practicing scientist, we don’t know why some memes are successful and others not, and we have no clue as to the physical substrate, if any, of which memes are made.

This criticism doesn't get any less stupid through repetition. Social scientists do know a lot of things about which memes spread. The problem here is that Pigliucci doesn't know about the relevant social science.

I made a video about this one a while back: Tim Tyler: Can memetics predict meme fitnesses?

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