Sunday, 28 September 2014

Let "memetic fields" lie

I read an article about memetic fields today. There seems to be quite a bit of material about "memetic fields" on the internet. The author of the article linked memetic fields to the morphic fields of Rupert Sheldrake - saying: "Memetic fields are the mental equivalent of morphic fields". That seems to be qute appropriate to me: both concepts are junk science.

That's not to say that memes don't sometimes have associated "fields" of influence. For example, one might generalize the concept of a "reality distortion field" to cover all kinds of memetic influence. The "reality distortion field" that surrounds some cult leaders is a potentially-useful concept that could potentially be quantified and given a scientific basis.

However, the biggest problem with memetic fields is that memetics isn't ready for them yet. Maybe if memetics was decades-old orthodoxy, we could consider the idea of some Sheldrake-free memetic fields with a straight face. However that isn't the current situation - and "memetic fields" just sound like too much of a joke at the moment. The term "field" sounds like it comes from physics - and a "memetic field" conjours up some kind of metaphysical emanations from memes. Just the sort of thing that Rupert Sheldrake would love.

I think we should skip the "memetic field" concept for now. It seems like just the kind of fringe science that could potentially give memetics a bad name.

1 comment:

  1. I believe it is my work you are referring to in this article, at my blog
    Rather than saying 'oh idk, it all sounds like fringe science to me', why not open a debate/dialogue in the comments section of my blog?