Sunday, 13 April 2014

Gillian Crozier: Simulating Bird Songs To Study Cultural Evolution

Gillian Crozier at TEDx on cultural evolution. She explicitly discusses memes at 02:55.

Gillian starts out with big questions about cultural evolution, but then doesn't really offer answers to them - and closes with a "stay tuned" message.

Gillian contrasts the gene-meme analogy, the meme-parasite analogy and the idea that cultural traits are analogous to adaptations - saying that maybe one of these analogies will prove more fruitful than the others, or maybe they'll all turn out to be be wrong. I think the correct answer is that all of them are right: memes are cultural genes; some of those cultural genes are in parasites (while others are in cultural mutualists or cultural commensals), and many cultural traits are indeed cultural adaptations.

While some workers still seem to have some confusion associated with the gene-meme analogy, I don't see any sensible way of looking at cultural evolution that answers these questions differently. Workers should surely treat these as basic facts and move on.

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