Friday, November 15, 2002

disappointment can be pleasant

(originally posted at

So I've finished Drexler's "Engines of Creation"; and will be journaling up a review sometime soon.

But this morning I picked up Susan Blackmore's "The Meme Machine" which has been collecting dust on my bookshelf for the better part of two years now. Lo and behold, she cuts to the chase and by page 3 I'd discovered that I already disagree with her entire thesis! Get a load of this...
The thesis of this book is that what makes us different is our ability to imitate... Certainly, other animals do not take naturally to it."
Say what? It seems she's taken Dawkins' idea of a meme to a most illogically extreme conclusion. When a hungry chimpanzee sees one of its brethren fetching bugs out of the earth with a stick - it learns that behavior or it continues to grow hungry and will eventually starve. Predators mimic bird mating calls. Non-poisonous butterflies have evolved the bright coloring of poisonous butterflies to blend in and not get eaten. Imitation and mimicry seem to be prevalent in nature.

But still, I can't judge a book by the preface and first 3 pages. I'm looking forward to reading on, with the author trying to convince me every step of the way.

It's refreshing to read a book whose thesis I don't particularly agree with. Perhaps it'll better prepare me to handle Fukuyama's work.

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