Hi, I'm Tim Tyler, and this video is a brief one, which debunks
a one of the "obituaries" of memetics, published in the final
issue of the Journal of Memetics.
Richard Dawkins proposed tracking the health of memetics by tracking
citations of the idea in learned journals - in the Selfish Gene. At
least one author took this idea seriously. Bruce Edmonds produced some
research along these lines in a paper entitled: "The revealed poverty
of the gene-meme analogy – why memetics per se has failed to produce
The paper's sole piece of empirical evidence was represented by a plot,
which purported to show that "the memetics bandwagon may have peaked"
and that memetics "has been a short-lived fad whose effect has been to
obscure more than it has been to enlighten".
The plot drew on data from Google Scholar - and appeared to
show that mentions of the term "memetics" had peaked in 2001 and then
gone into precipitous decline.
Bruce Edmonds - search results
After noting that the purported decline was heavily influenced by a
single data-point, I attempted to reproduce this result in November
2008, using precisely the same methodology - Google Scholar
searches for "memetic" (but not "memetic algorithm").
Tim Tyler - search results
My results failed to find any such effect - rather papers mentioning
memetics by name have increased in volume monotonically year after
year between 1990 and 2006.
Comparing our results gives a clue about what went wrong: the author
obviously failed to correct for the paucity of recently published
papers that are indexed in Google Scholar.
If you search the Google Scholar database on almost
any subject, the data for the current year and the last one has
not all been indexed yet.
Oops! Ironically the author of the paper subtitled
"why memetics per se has failed to produce substantive results"
himself failed to produce any substantive results!
Anyway, I'm happy to say that reports of the death of memetics appear
to have been greatly exaggerated.