I receive regularly a lot of red hot tips from regular readers, but as the week goes on they are often buried by newer mail. Thus I will try out a weekly link compilation post. Beware that the links might show up used in a regular post later. Anonymity will be honored for those who want it.
Inside Story of the HBGary Hack
Fascinating write up of how Anonymous broke into security firm HBGary, from Ars Technica. A clearer introduction to basic computer security I have never seen. Read this and you’ll be prompted to change your passwords. Also a good plea to change to that most secure (and superior!) of operating systems, Linux.
Thanks to Eric Dailey, who was referred by cryptome.org.
House votes 244-179 to kill U.S. funding of UN IPCC
Defund IPCC ‘amendment was sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri), who read aloud on the floor from the 2009 U.S. Senate Report of more than 700 dissenting scientists! (Written by Climate Depot’s Morano) — Luetkemeyer: Americans ‘should not have to continue to foot the bill for an (IPPC) organization to keep producing corrupt findings’
Thanks to Marc Morano.
Dawkins’ Genes Encode Memes
From “gene machine” (edited for length and to restrict content to memes, our subject of last week):
Did you read the book?…
If I remember correctly, Dawkins hypothesised that other natural replicators would have a similar selection for “phenotypes” which aid their replication. The only other example he could find in the natural world were “memes”. A fair point, in that we do copy behaviors/words/ideas of other people (they are replicators) and we’re more likely to copy someone rubbing 2 sticks together if it creates something useful like fire (there is a selection of “good” ones). There are important differences too, but it is interesting to note that they are another class of natural replicator and to look at what they have in common with genes.
Up to this point, has Dawkins said anything disagreeable? This is his “bizarre thesis”.
Some of your comments:
>Calling this mundane process a â€œtransmission of memesâ€ isnâ€™t wrong, but an unnecessary obfuscation, a bureaucratic complication.
You may find it trivial, and it is obvious when you think about it, but there is something that is transmitted when one copies another. If Dawkins is going to discuss this then he might as well give these replicators a name and existing words such as “ideas” don’t quite describe the more general class of replicators he is discussing. Boring? that subjective, but not incorrect.
>it is impossible for one copy of a meme to benefit from other copies
No, but it is possible for rubbing sticks together to be more popular than rubbing stones when there is the reward of fire. On average, most ideas should be selected to not harm their own existence such as the “jumping off the cliff meme” and to fit into the ecosystem of memes they compliment or contradict. I don’t think Dawkins, if he used the word, meant “benefit” in the way that you facetiously imply he does.
>Memes are often welcomed by those who want freedom from responsibility for their own actions. If a man canâ€™t point to his â€œselfishâ€ genes and say â€œThey made me do it!â€, then perhaps memes are the real culprits. People arenâ€™t really racists, they have racist memes.
Yeah and people only doubt that CO2 will destroy the universe because they are evil capitalist bastards. This is not an argument, this is just an insult.
>These arguments are identical with those saying there is no free will. â€œWe must not punish the criminal! He has no free will, no choice to have done what he has done.â€
I’m not aware of anybody is making an argument not to punish criminals (I’m including containment, along with attempted rehabilitation in punishment here) , isn’t this just a popular parody made of people who believe in causality? Genes, cultural influences, childhood brain injuries, experiences and the current situation all play a role in how we act at any moment, are you proposing that there is a supernatural input too or that some kind of quantum dice constitutes free will? The existence of free will depends on the details of the definition used.
Anyway, Dawkins was right-on with the genetics, this is rightly the most iconic popularisation of the, sometimes under appreciated, modern synthesis. Dawkins was right to look for other replicators to see how the ideas of the book could be generalised. Memes are not a bad label for these replicators. Personally I did not take too much from the memes part of the book, other than to ponder how (other!) stupid ideas can become popular. The real meat of the book, for me, was giving a foundation for understanding animal (and human) behaviors including sex differences, cooperation and deceit.
So, do the decent thing, go read the book if you have not already, and get your apology written. If you like I will buy you a copy.
Now, now, and tsk, tsk, Mr gene machine. It is rude to suggest that I have not read Dawkins. Proof that I have is evidenced by my surly attitude whenever his name is mentioned; after effects of exposure to poor arguments. I await your apology from your ungentlemanly accusation.
And I’ll bet that you have not read (much of) Midgley and none of Stove. Tell you what. Take the money you would have donated to me (see the upper left corner of this page) and use it to buy Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution. Read that with a clear eye and then report back to me.
Further, I repeat that to call “behaviors/words/ideas” “replicators” is an unnecessary complication and is false. Ideas do not replicate, people may or may not pass on ideas. To stick just with ideas, these can be passed on regardless whether they are harmful or useful to people, in any dimension, or to the ideas themselves. Take socialism. A lovely but murderous idea. Yet it survives, even as “it” kills off its hosts.