Monday, 21 November 2011

More regular terminology for memetics and genetics

Much of the terminology of biology was invented without consideration of the possibility of cultural inheritance. One of the biggest strengths of memetics is that it provides concise and neat terminology for cultural evolution. However, largely because of the lack of planning by biologists, there are places where things are not so neat.

Probably the biggest issue is what to call the elements of general inheritance (genes/mnemes), cultural inheritance (memes), organic inheritance (genes?!?) environmental inheritance (?) - but let's skip over that issue for today.

I have previously identified some of the more irregular terminology. Today, here are some of my proposals for tidying things up:

Irregular terms

MemeticGeneticProposed fix
MemeplexGene complexStart using the term "geneplex"
Memetic junkJunk DNAStart using the terms "junk memes" and "junk genes"
AllomemeAlleleDitch "alleles" entirely; use the terms "meme" and "gene" instead; use the term "locus" more
VaccimeVaccineStart using the terms "memetic vaccine" and "genetic vaccine"
PhemotypePhenotypeStart using the terms "meme product" and "gene product"
PhemomePhenomeStart using the terms "meme product group" and "gene product group"
Memune systemImmune systemStart using the terms "memetic immunity" and "genetic immunity"
Meme warfareBiological warfareStart using the terms "memetic warfare" and "genetic warfare"
Population memeticsPopulation geneticsStart using the terms "meme frequency analysis" and "gene frequency analysis"
-CladisticsDitch in favour of phylomemeticsand phylogenetics
-CladogramsDitch in favour of phylomemetic trees and phylogenetic trees
Library / DatabaseGene bankNo proposal at this time
IdeosphereBiosphereNo proposal at this time

I'll explain more about the problem with "population genetics" in due course.

You will see that one theme is to give up trying to fit memetics around the irregualr terminology of biology - and to fix the problem at its source.

It is painful to lose the "pheme-" prefix - but I think it has got to go.

Another pretty major terminology isssue impacting on memetics is "fixing" the terminology of symbiosis. Currently that borrows heavily from epidemiology, which has all the best terminology. However, using the terminology of epidemiology and parasites for mutualists can quickly get confusing - and the whole area seems to be in need of major terminology surgery. My initial approach to this issue is here.

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