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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

An Open Letter to Richard Dawkins

Professor Dawkins,
You coined the term "meme" in 1976 to describe a second replicator impacting the biosphere.  You posited this second replicator but did not reinterpret sociology, psychology or linguistics to support the new theory.  As social science is not your professional focus, this was entirely sensible.  You left the endeavor for others. 
Skeptics criticized you for a perceived belief in non-material, un-provable agents influencing human behavior.  Religious leaders jumped at the chance to point out that you must have metaphysical beliefs after all.  This placed you in a rather thankless position.  It was prudent to take several reflective steps back and withhold comments on the subject.

You once said in an interview, 
"I used not to think this but I'm increasingly thinking that nothing but confusion arises from confounding genetic evolution with cultural evolution.  Unless you are very careful about what you are doing and don't talk as though they are different aspects of the same phenomenon.  Or if they are just different aspects of the same phenomenon, let's hear a good case for regarding them as such." 1
In the following blog you will find such a case.  It is crucial to remember Meme Theory  is a paradigm shift.  The initial response to a scientific revolution (which can last for several generations) is skepticism.  The current paradigm is not simply ingrained in scientific literature; it is ingrained in our culture and in the English language.  We have a long road ahead.

Continue to The Second Replicator

1.  Shermer, Michael  The Skeptic's Chaplain Skeptic Magazine Vol. 13, No. 2, p. 45; 2007

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