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Monday, September 15, 2014

Comparison with Bacteria

One objection to comparing memeplexes to biological organisms is that memeplexes do not simply mutate and evolve over successive generations.  A memeplex can copy parts of other memeplexes, even a competitive memeplex, to gain a survival advantage, taking a practice or concept and reworking it into its own memetic blueprints.  Some would argue, this is not evolution as we understand it in sexual and asexual vertical gene transfer, but rather chaos.

Enter horizontal (lateral) gene transfer.  A tree of life that includes horizontal transmission looks somewhat different than the traditional vertical tree of life.  As species diverge and complexity increases, the mechanisms of gene transfer become more complicated and vertical transmission becomes more pronounced.  With less complicated organisms, lateral transfer is more common. 

The comparison to biological evolution holds.  It was our understanding of biology and genetics that had to advance before we could accept observations about memes, not a flaw in memetic theory.   

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