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David Wootton, University of York Innovation and Replication -- Memes, Mimesis and Measurement.

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Presentation on theme: "David Wootton, University of York Innovation and Replication -- Memes, Mimesis and Measurement."— Presentation transcript:

1 David Wootton, University of York Innovation and Replication -- Memes, Mimesis and Measurement.

2 Change: An Intellectual Puzzle Three Paradigms: Functionalism (Marx) The Unconscious (Freud) Discursive Rupture (Foucault, Kuhn)





7 Puzzle No. 1 Germ Theory --- triumphs after 1850 --- intellectual preconditions in place by 1700 If the obstacle is not intellectual or technological what is it?

8 The Survival of Classical Medicine Does Classical Medicine cure? Does it invoke the placebo effect? Does it make patients feel better? Is it regarded as credible? Why does it survive? Not self-interest Not TINA


10 Puzzle No. 2 The survival of Aristotelian physics and Ptolemaic astronomy In the first fifty years after Copernicus only one competent person published in defence of Copernicanism Not a single professional philosopher supported Galileo during his lifetime


12 The survival of classical science – Does classical science fulfill a function? Astrology – What are its psychological benefits? – What is its place in the curriculum? – What is its relationship to religion?

13 Puzzle No. 3 The survival of alchemy and astrology Robert Boyle Isaac Newton

14 Puzzle No. 4 The survival of Windows operating systems

15 Charlie Brooker, The Guardian 28 September Microsoft's grinning robots or the Brotherhood of the Mac. I admit it: I'm a bigot. A hopeless bigot at that: I know my particular prejudice is absurd, but I just can't control it. I don't like Apple products. And the better- designed and more ubiquitous they become, the more I dislike them. I blame the customers. Awful people. Awful. Stop showing me your iPhone. Stop stroking your Macbook. Stop telling me to get one.

16 Brooker on Windows I know Windows is awful. Everyone knows Windows is awful. Windows is like the faint smell of piss in a subway: it's there, and there's nothing you can do about it. OK, OK: I know other operating systems are available. But their advocates seem even creepier, snootier and more insistent than Mac owners. The harder they try to convince me, the more I'm repelled. To them, I'm a sheep. And they're right. I'm a helpless, stupid, lazy sheep. I'm also a masochist. And that's why I continue to use Windows – horrible Windows – even though I hate every second of it. It's grim, it's slow, everything's badly designed and nothing really works properly: using Windows is like living in a communist bloc nation circa 1981. And I wouldn't change it for the world, because I'm an abject bloody idiot and I hate myself, and this is what I deserve: to be sentenced to Windows for life. That's why Windows works for me. But I'd never recommend it to anybody else, ever. This puts me in line with roughly everybody else in the world.

17 Puzzle No. 5 – The survival of the lecture – medieval technology – rhetorical presence – the age of podcasts and you-tube

18 Obstacles to Change predictable outcomes 1) Self-interest: existing investment known beneficiaries 2) Conceptual barriers 3) Psychology: identification

19 Advertising as a technology for change innovation – directline information – identification –

20 Memes Meme theory helps explain patterns of occurrence – eg citation incidence Meme theory alone cannot explain large scale change – eg the collapse of classical medicine – which is about failure to replicate A central difference between a biological population and a meme population is that memes are the result of deliberate design

21 Mimesis The Charlie Brooker article shows we make complicated choices about who we are – tinker tailor soldier sailor In conservative cultures social practices and belief systems are “sticky” In innovative cultures there are usually entrenched limits to innovation Mimesis or identification helps explain cultural stickiness

22 Measurement Replication: Conservation and Innovation The difficulty of using mimesis to foster change The great driver for change has been measurement: measurement in experiments counting of medical outcomes profit and loss, the bottom line


24 Two Technologies For Change The Fact – facts are stubborn The Table – tables are comparative not narrative


26 Using Mimesis for Change Requires creating an interest in change Requires constructing attractive identities Requires playing one identificiation off against another Innovators versus Publicists --- Newton and Galileo --- Gould and Dawkins --- Voltaire's Philosophical Letters


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