Saturday, 5 December 2015

More meme denialism

There are still a lot of people who are totally confused about cultural evolution. Whether due to ignorance, stupidity, bad teaching, or whatever, there are still lots of people who just don't get it. They are still on the wrong side of the meme paradigm shift.

We can say these people lack meme literacy. Or we can describe them as being meme challenged. However, sometimes, a bit more of a verbal kick in the ass seems desirable. If people are particularly ignorant of the literature, seem to think they are entitled to spout nonsense on the topic, and fail to update on evidence, the term 'meme denialism' may be appropriate.

I think the term should be reserved for the worst offenders. So, I'm thinking that Steven Pinker and Massimo Pigliucci are in denial about memes, while Peter Richerson and Rob Boyd are more in the 'minor misunderstandings' zone.

When Helena Cronin says:

There's culture; there's history; there's change; there's progress; there's technological innovation; there's growth of knowledge; there's social learning; and there's lots more. But there's no cultural evolution.

That's a nice example of what I'm talking about: complete denial of the whole field of study.

Another example comes from John Gray, writing:

There is no general theory of evolution.

Another case is Jonathan Marks (2000):

Now unlike genes, memes have the decided disadvantage of not actually existing.
This is what meme denialism looks like.

Update: I previously wrote about meme denialism here.

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