Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sue Blackmore Flogging a Dead Horse

Every now and again, you come across an idea that you thought must have died. But lost causes seem to walk the earth in a state of undeath long after they should have been buried at a crossroads with a stake through their hearts. Memes are one such idea. Susan Blackmore is actually still arguing that religion is a bad meme or a mind virus. Honestly, I'm not joking. It's all here. Dawkins's old insult rises again.

No, I'm not going to bother refute this nonsense. But if anyone suggests to you that God is a meme, I suggest you point out to them that we have plenty of evidence that God exists and none for memes at all.

Click here to read the first chapter of God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science absolutely free.


mattghg said...

All those spliffs (and the rest) have obviously affected her medium-term memory so she can't remember just how vacuous the whole "meme" concept has been shown to be.

Seriously, though, Blackmore has done more work on this than anyone (Dennett possibly excepted) -- heck, she even calls herself a "memeticist" -- so it's hardly surprising she should be the last one to leave the ship before it sinks.

Jamie said...

Out of interest, would it be possible to do a post dedicated to memes in the future? Not been able to find anything on the site which goes into depth regarding the Dawkinistas' claims about them...

SlagleRock said...

How does she know atheism isn't a bad meme? Hasn't anyone ever asked her that?

A Dude said...

Memes were an ill-conceived thought experiment that only proved self-referential at their most effective. From the beginning, Dawkins failed to make a clean distinction between parts of memes and made the following jarring statement (which I paraphrase), "Just as genes leap from body to body, so memes leap from mind to mind." Except there is no body there for genes to jump to outside of their instructions to create it! (materialism be believed.) Nonetheless, we did see an example of thoughts fit to survive only by an affinity of the substrate.

But no one can be fooled. All we need is a somewhat semi-conscious intention to poison the well and not a endless cascade of events where no decision can prove to be made on any condition other than affinity, including the suggestion of memes themselves.

phaseshift said...

How about stating WHAT the evidence for your God is, rather than suggesting people to tell others that there's so much of it?
Here's why: it's all been discussed (I would say refuted) ad infinitum, and in any case whatever sort of "evidence" you can come up can equally well be used to defend any number of absurd concepts AND religions (which is why the Flying Spaghetti Monster idea was invented, silly as it is). Philosophize all you want about evidence for *a* creator: even more difficult is how does YOUR evidence "beat" the "evidence" that followers of other religions would claim to have?

That's the point at which it should become clear that you're really talking about philosophy, not evidence-based science. And please don't confuse things by bringing "interpretation of the evidence" into the discussion. After all, pick any of your evidence and ask yourself: what would a Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim say about it? Probably something different!

Or let me put it this way: Why are there so many distinct religions - but so few "versions" of the scientific worldview? The answer: evidence *as defined by scientists* has a much more clear-cut definition than what you mean by "evidence for (your) God".

There IS no evidence for the Christian God, when using the scientific definition of the term. You *may* be able to talk about evidence for SOME kind of creator, but even there you're simply pretending to know what nobody CAN know at this point.

And why would you say there's no evidence that memes "exist"? Memes are just a way of describing how ideas spread - any ideas. Just look at how clothes fashions change and re-appear in revised forms...that's a meme right there! Or well-known jokes, etc. etc. Those ARE memes! So if you want to argue that Christianity is NOT "just" a meme, or at least not a harmful one, OK...but don't tell me there's no evidence for memes, as if they're some kind of 'thing' to be discovered!