Crank magnetism would be like the type species for this sort of thing!
Not quite -- crank magnetism would be a process or mechanism. Which reminds me of another reason I don't like this biological analogy. The genesis of memetics was essentially Dawkins' attempt to apply the "selfish gene" perspective to culture and ideas. While that metaphor is useful in genetics, I don't think it is at all in anthropology/psychology/sociology. In a way, it's more accurate to say people use memes rather than vice-versa -- going back to conspiracy theories, while they are often maladaptive in certain ways, they also serve purposes such as justifying or rationalizing failure or lending coherence to randomness which creates psychological comfort (note Goertzel and others find conspiracy theories to be more popular among disaffected people). The idea that the meme is using the person to spread itself doesn't make much sense in many of the contexts its applied. I think this comes up in the memetics episode of Rationally Speaking and it's part of Atran's critique in terms of religion (his paper on memetics is recycled as a chapter in In Gods We Trust), which is that the memetics view tends to look at the direct cost to the "host" of "carrying" a meme, but overlook indirect benefits to the host. And, going back to fidelity, it also tends to overlook the fact that the form of something is often copied rather than the substance, or cases where, as Marshall McLuhan famously said, "the medium is the message."
I do like the "meme" as a sort of generic placeholder variable for a basic idea or simple "imitatable"/"copyable" action that can be used as part of a model, more or less like you did with the essay on language, so I'm probably preaching to the choir here. Though when you get to that point, the meme is mostly shorn of all the pseudo-evolutionary technobabble surrounding it and its explanatory value as a theoretical framework. You could say I like memes but not memetics.
Or, shorter version of this entire spiel, memes are a kind of pseudo-biological reinvention of A.O. Lovejoy's "unit ideas."
Why the fuck are they not just "popular ideas". why must they be "special" kinds of "units" of ideas. or "memes" of ideas.
One of the things I actually like about memes is that they encompass both ideas and actions (sign does this as well, though often in subtly different ways). The notion of "idea" itself almost seems spiritual to me, like some kind of disembodied essence. One of the themes of postmodernism (the parts that weren't absolute gibberish, anyway) was the connection between ideas and actions, especially Foucault's concept of "power/knowledge." Many discoveries in psychology also demonstrate this, again, as in rationalization, in which ideas are not thought up for their intrinsic value but "generated" as a social tool to deal with some predicament.
I'm sure half the art of academia is creating new labels to hide what you mean from the Great Unwashed.
Does the other half involve saying "Ignore that man behind the curtain!"?
It's occurred to me that the link in my last post needs some context. The ABA is the American Bar Association, which has recently come under fire for marketing law degrees as the most employable money-making degree on earth, when in fact most law graduates are living in cardboard boxes lined with letters demanding interest payments on their $120,000 student loan debt. (I may have exaggerated a bit...)
by the way, did i tell you that last night I had a dream about the most amazing thing ever. it was sorta roundish, but there were these support beams in the middle. and teh whole point of it was to let it roll, so you could put something on it, and it too would roll.
do you know what kind of money i can make, if only i can get someone to patent that? I think i shall name it circular rollinging thingy.