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Tuesday 6 May 2008
MEMES AND GENES
Dr Donald Cameron, BRLSI Convenor
In Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, the word “meme” was coined. A meme is a fragment of culture which is transmitted between human brains. In doing so it is reproduced, but it can also be changed or “mutate” as it is passed along. The memes are thus analogous to life forms and can evolve by natural selection. Our knowledge of the world, together with our values and ethics, are shaped by the interplay of the two replicators – the genes and the memes.
However the matter is examined, we have to admit that philosophy is a failed enterprise. After some thousands of years there is little to show, yet we have an industry of academic practitioners who, by using convoluted language and obscure terminology, have preserved the illusion that they have an expertise that is valuable and worthy of a substantial meal ticket. Of course, there have been some useful insights, but these could be written, if not on the back of a postcard, certainly on a lot less printed paper than has been produced.
Philosophy, if we consider only the modern sense of the word, is mainly addressed to two big questions. These are “how can we know facts with certainty?” and “how can we be sure of what is morally right?” In both of these broad questions, any attempt at careful analysis brings us in a short time back to so called self-evident facts. We have to assume that our senses do not deceive us (although we know that they sometimes do). Even mathematics, the most deductive of the sciences, depends on axioms which we “just know”. In ethics, as was clarified by Hume, reason is the servant of the passions. No value deduction can be made without a premise that contains a statement of value and such premises can only be extracted from our moral sentiments. Even the processes of deduction and induction that we use to reason from evidence to a conclusion is something that is instinctively known, although they seem to be improved by training and study.
People sometimes regard these self-evident facts and logical rules as if they were absolute pieces of information independent of their own brains, but this is an error. What is self-evident to you may not seem so to me. What is self evident to me may not be so to my dog. And probably nothing is self-evident to the chair beside me. Self-evident facts, self-evident values and self-evident logical rules are pieces of information that are installed in our brains. They are very specific, non-random, complex structures that have not appeared by chance. They can have come only from two sources: information coded in our genes and information that has come through our senses from human culture or direct observation. We cannot assume that they are the same in every brain, but it is familiar to us that we can often agree that certain ideas are self-evident. Of course, this does not prove that they are universal facts. It only shows that our brains probably share the same genetic or cultural sources.
There is a revolution taking place in philosophy today and we are privileged to be witnessing its early stages. The new philosophy, which is only beginning to produce some progress, is one which digs into the provenance of these self-evident premises. We are using the science of biology, the study of information flows and mathematical decision theory to examine where our self-evident ideas have come from. Of course many of the facts that we can use to build our philosophy are only as good as the theory of knowledge that underpins them and yet we need that philosophy to work out the theory of knowledge. There is a potential circularity here, but it is only partial and the investigation still remains very useful.
So where do our self-evident facts and values come from? Some billions of years ago some molecules happened to begin forming copies of themselves. They were acting as templates in a chemical reaction that was creating a form of order, or non-randomness, that was not much more remarkable than crystallisation. But this process of replication had a potential to produce extraordinary results. In the primeval scum that they formed, the types that produced more copies of themselves made more copies of themselves, and those that didn’t, didn’t. That is it. It is as simple as that. That is the principle of life. All of the plants and animals, fishes and fungi, priests and philosophers, literary achievement, scientific progress, imperial glories and human criminality come from this simple source.
As life forms increased in complexity they became capable of reacting conditionally to their environment to give greater replicative success. In so doing they began to process two types of information. One involved registering in some way differences in the external world (detection of facts). The other, always internally specified, defined what actions to take in response to the fact information (these we may call values). The earliest life forms that began to process information did not form in order to be machines to determine the truth; they were machines that produced decisions that promoted the replication of their genetic material.
Millions of years later we see the increase in complexity that has occurred. The human animal is distinguished from others only in its ability to process information, but has come to dominate the earth. Yet the process remains basically the same. Our means of gaining knowledge and our means of deciding what we want to do with it (including our ethical sentiments) have been built by only one non-random source – the force of natural selection. This has profound implications for philosophy which has for too long been ignored.
Let us spell it out clearly.
1) Our ability to make logical deductions, or to make inferences that patterns that have repeated will be likely to repeat again, and many facts about the external world have been formed by natural selection. There is no other information source that has created them and they are there simply because they have caused their bearers to survive and reproduce better. Our brains are not mechanisms to seek the truth but rather to make decisions that that will get our genes selected. We can only surmise that these decisions will have been more successful, if they were based on truth, and that our instincts have been formed in that way.
Of course we are not perfect. We make logical errors, we are very poor at certain probability estimations (the gambling industry depends on this) and we have superstitious misconceptions about the real world. We are good enough, however, to be the most successful mammals on earth. It is sometimes difficult to appreciate the amount of hard-wired software that we have in our brains. For example, it is not obvious that the world is three dimensional; why should it not be two or five? Yet we firmly believe it is and can consider any alternative theory only as a mathematical abstraction.
2) All of our preferences, goals or values, including our ethical values, have been formed by their ability to cause our genes to be selected. Our values take their cause from this source alone – there is no other driving force that has caused them. For many, this is a very hard concept to accept because it seems to negate the very concept of morality, yet there can be no doubt that it is so. It is a popular idea that evolution involves “nature red in tooth and claw” and that any purely evolved values would be completely selfish. A moment’s reflection can dismiss that. In the tribal society in which we have evolved over the last few million years, a vicious and selfish individual would not necessarily have left more descendants, but then neither would a perfect saint. Recent work on kin altruism, reciprocal altruism and display altruism (or reputation building) together with game theory has adequately shown that our imperfect morality is entirely consistent with its evolutionary origin. (Trail Professor Binmore’s talk next month.)
THE END OF EVOLUTION
A theory of knowledge and of values that is derived from evolution must be weighed against the claim that genetic evolution has effectively stopped. Man may have evolved, like the brutes of the wild, by a blindly mechanical and rather distasteful process of natural selection, but that was in the past. The existence of culture vastly improves human capabilities and frees us of the depravity of the struggle for life. Civilisation has replaced the jungle and man is freed from the inheritance of his past to set new and better moral standards.
But where can these standards have come from? Interstellar signals? Tablets of stone? There must be an information source. When the Earth millions of years ago, first condensed from a cloud of hot gases, it was presumably completely sterile. Values had no existence and no meaning until organisms capable of processing information were brought into being by evolution. Natural selection has created our values and this includes our values of morality and co-operation with our fellows as well as our tendency to recruit each other to a common set of values. But can there be a second source of value information?
The idea that values "come" in some sense from civilisation is a very common one, but it must be examined carefully. Societies do indeed develop moral codes, with a willingness to accept and reciprocate them when they are established. But the instinct to do so has evolved by natural selection of the genes, because participation in the moral code of a group will certainly increase their fitness. Before we can begin to understand cultural values in any scientific way, we must examine the extraordinary effect, which the mass of learned information, which we call culture, has had on the evolution of our genes.
During the last ten thousand years, the human animal has made vast improvements in biological fitness, but this has apparently had only little to do with genetic evolution. It has been almost entirely the result of a learned culture, which has developed with a redoubling acceleration. It is frequently asserted that man has progressed from the stage of genetic evolution to that of cultural evolution. The use of the word "evolution" for both phases of development is questionable, however, as it implies that both are controlled and given direction by the process of natural selection. This is not obviously so.
CULTURE IN OTHER SPECIES
Culture is not unique to man and, in many species, learned information supplements the genetic information, which passes from one generation to the next. Some birds, for example, cannot produce their characteristic song, if they are prevented from hearing the song of older birds.
One of the most convincing pieces of evidence for an essential role of learning is that of the monkeys with surrogate mothers: the celebrated results produced by H. Harlow of the University of Wisconsin in 1957. In this very informative, if rather distressing, experiment, new-born monkeys were deprived of various combinations of social contacts, which are normally available in monkey groups. They were separated from their real mothers and were allowed to cling to dummies, which in some cases cruelly abused them. It was found that monkeys raised under the worst of these conditions were quite incapable of performing the duties of parenthood later in life and were content to reject their babies and allow them to die. It might have been expected that the mothering instinct would be built genetically into the mammal brain, but the experiment demonstrates that some essential parts of it at least, are not. It is possible that natural selection has found it simpler to construct the mothering instinct by using the learning process, which is always available in nature. Or perhaps an earlier genetic instinct had disappeared, as selection no longer needed to preserve it.
A parallel case exists in the need for nourishment. In animals natural selection has not preserved the ability to synthesise certain substances, which they need, simply because they are available in other living things which can be eaten. The individual with the least investment in unnecessary and unused functions has an advantage. Possibly we have become dependent for our development on the available diet of learned information in a similar way.
The characteristic feature of human evolution over the last five million years or so has been the growth of brain size and this has been so rapid that we are still imperfectly adjusted to it. Human females differ from most other animals in having pelvises so enlarged that mobility is somewhat impaired and in giving birth with pain and frequent dangerous complications. This is largely due to the enlargement of the brain in recent evolutionary time. For the same reason, the human infant is born in a more premature state than many other mammals.
We can speculate that there may have been selective pressure against further inborn genetic information with a preference towards information passed by learning after birth, to avoid an even greater growth in brain size. Of course, until much more is known about the mechanisms of brain function, that can only remain a speculation.
PROGRESS IN CULTURE
Human culture is distinguished from most animal culture, at least in recent times, by showing a "progress" from one generation to the next. This is not unique, however, and interesting examples of a progressing culture in animals have been discovered by the Japanese Monkey Centre's study of macaques over many years. There have been many examples of cultural differences among the wild troops, which they have studied, but the most spectacular was the invention and spread of the technique of seed washing.
The scientists began to provide extra food for one troop by scattering sweet potatoes and, later, wheat grains on the beach. A particularly inventive macaque, a two year old female, discovered the idea of washing the potatoes to remove the sand and within ten years the habit had spread to 90% of the population other than infants under one year. At the age of four, the same female, who must have been something of a monkey genius, devised a technique for washing wheat grains by throwing them into a rock pool, allowing the sand to sink and scooping off the floating grains. This too spread throughout the population, but rather more slowly. It is a more complex task to part with the food and wait a few moments before recovering it. Interestingly it was the younger and middle aged groups who adopted the new ideas most readily, some of the older monkeys showing an almost human conservatism and refusing to change.
Examples of progress in culture in the animal world do not go much beyond the Japanese macaques and it is this, which makes humanity today a unique species. It was not always so. Prior to the agricultural revolution of ten thousand years ago, humans had existed in a virtually static style of life for millions of years. This is confirmed by the discoveries of stone tools separated in time by hundreds of thousands of years and only showing the slightest elements of progress. In the last ten thousand years and, in particular, in the last few hundred years, all this has changed. It is as if man's evolution, whether genetic, or in terms of a static animal-like culture, had suddenly reached a threshold.
Agriculture was the starting point. Its excess of food production allowed the formation of other trades, which naturally congregated in the larger villages and towns. Resulting improvements in communication increased the pace of discovery and dissemination of new ideas.
Only in the last few hundred years, has there been a breakthrough in communication with a resulting acceleration of discoveries of all kinds. We owe the structure of the modern world largely to the invention of printing, which has made it possible to transmit large amounts of information around the world, or to allow us to understand the thoughts of men long since dead. Indeed, someone reading this in an old copy of the Proceedings might be doing just that! The growth of radio, television and the internet are having profound effects on our societies today, which we cannot yet hope to measure.
We can be sure that we are in a rapid state of change, but can we describe it as evolution? For evolution, in the sense of natural selection, to occur, we must have variation and heritability. Only with these two, can traits be selected and preserved. Variation is certainly there, but heritability of learned information is, to say the least, confused.
Genetic information passes only to an individual's own offspring. The more successful individuals will survive better and have more offspring and, as a result, their genes will become more common in the gene pool of the population. For genetic evolution to proceed in a consistent direction, its mechanism depends critically on the inheritance of genetic information with almost, but not quite, complete accuracy.
Cultural evolution does not follow the same pattern. If an individual makes an invention, the cultural equivalent of a good genetic mutation, it is transmitted not only to his offspring. It can be transmitted all over the world and it frequently happens that individuals, who fail to reproduce at all, can make large cultural contributions. For this reason, cultural development is something different from evolution, in the sense of a process given consistent direction by the process of natural selection. It seems to be more in the nature of an uncontrolled growth, sparked off by human mental capacity crossing a threshold, beyond which it becomes self-reinforcing and unstable.
Culture, however, has such a profound effect on human fitness and ability to reproduce that it can largely swamp the evolutionary effects of any visible genetic differences. If we are to understand why it is not true that genetic evolution has ceased to matter, we must understand in detail its interaction with the progress of culture.
Richard Dawkins (1978) in his book "The Selfish Gene" has offered a metaphor, which is a key to an understanding of this mechanism. He has pointed out that the genes of a sexual species, as they are shuffled and reshuffled in individuals produced by sexual reproduction, can be regarded themselves as the units of evolution, rather than the individual animals. Their effect is through individuals, which they construct as "survival machines", to help them in the process of competing with their alleles (or rivals for the same slot on the chromosome) to become most numerous in the gene pool. We can regard the genes in a sense as the true replicators. The genes are “selfish” in the sense that they are in straight competition with each other, but it can be shown that the animals that they create have a more complex relationship. The selfish goals of the genes can often be best served by an organism that cooperates and has a moral relationship with its fellows.
In a similar way he has shown that individual cultural ideas, which he has called "memes", can be considered to have an independent existence. Their habitat is the community of human brains and they reproduce by communication from one brain to another. Their "fitness" depends only on their having whatever it takes to find acceptance. Memes, as they are copied from one brain to another, show a kind of heritability and when inventions occur they provide variability. In this way, they have the precise qualities of an evolving species of living things.
Memes are not necessarily technical inventions: they can be any fragment of human culture. Clothing fashions, religious ideas, moral values, tunes, new words, methods of using addictive drugs would all qualify as memes. It is not necessary that they are beneficial to human beings or to their genes, just that they will tend to reproduce themselves given a community of intercommunicating human brains. Their reproduction is quite independent of the lines of inheritance of their human hosts and we can regard memes as simply a large number of symbiotic species, with which we share our environment. We have seen that natural selection is the only source of non random values, but here is a second arena of natural selection! The memes can be regarded as a second type of replicator (as so well set out by Susan Blackmore in The Meme Machine, 1999). We have found a mechanism, by which culture can perhaps create values out of thin air. It is conceivable that they could create values independently of the genes and even against the interest of the genes.
The question that the philosopher must answer is how you or I as an individual should make our own decisions. The memes are not us and their values, coming from their own evolution, will be in their interest and not necessarily ours. They will be either beneficial to us or not and we should feel free to reject them like the values of any other species. For example, a tiger might consider that it would be "good" for me to be his supper, but I am under no obligation to agree!
THE MEME FARM
A meme, which is harmful, such as one for drug abuse, could be regarded as a parasite, with which the brain becomes infested, but this is the unusual case: the greater part of the memes that we harbour is highly beneficial. My own metaphor is to visualise our collection of memes as a farm, which each of carries around in his brain. They are domesticated species, which we cultivate and which provide us with food, shelter and all the other special benefits, which the human animal has secured. When we know of a valuable meme, we seek out those who have it, so that by learning, we can acquire the seed to plant in our own minds.
The inventions of communications media, both printing and electronic, are very important memes. They can be regarded as the analogues of living things also, acting like seed merchants to increase the dissemination of the other memes.
It is fascinating to visualise that around ten thousand years ago, when the last ice age came to an end, the human mind had reached a threshold, which permitted not only the development of agriculture. There was also a less obvious cultivation: the husbandry of ideas, which was in the end to far outperform its literal counterpart in fruitfulness.
FACT AND VALUE MEMES
The memes, which inhabit our mental farms, fall into two distinct kingdoms, just as in real farming with plants and animals. Memes can be divided into fact-information and value-information and these are very different life forms.
Fact memes are easy to visualise. They are the ones responsible for everything, from the methods of simple everyday tasks, to our most astonishing technological abilities. Let us consider an example. A fisherman instructs his son in the art of fishing: the details of boats, nets and lines. These are fact-memes, which are planted in the youngster's mind. At the same time, possibly without realising it, value-memes will be transferred also. The boy may absorb many ideas like the need to preserve his own safety in a potentially dangerous profession, the virtue of being productive to provide for his family members at home and moral duties towards shipmates and others.
The young fisherman, in the modern world, will also obtain the seeds of both kinds of meme from many sources other than his father. School, college and friends will all be important on a local scale, but he may read books, which bring information from a time many generations before his birth, or from distant countries. As he sails remote fishing grounds, a radio set in the boat may even cause him to feel a sense of duty to people suffering famine on the other side of the planet.
It would not be true, however, to claim that everything in the meme garden is lovely and that no weeds grow. It is easy to think of examples. Drug abuse can take root in our brains, but reduce fitness. Religions can have the same effect, certainly among those who take a vow of celibacy or make other large distortions to the usual lifestyle. But not all of the imperfections in human culture are as obvious as those, which infect heroin addicts or the people who were persuaded to take part in a mass suicide by the Jonestown religious cult, or murder their own daughters in the name of religious honour. Most of the bad memes are much milder in effect, but because they are more widespread, they are much more important.
Parasitic memes, like all memes, are of two types: facts and values. Parasitic fact-memes present no philosophical difficulty. They are simply plausible beliefs, which happen to be mistaken: careful enquiry can steadily eliminate them. In medieval medicine, for example, it was often held that some particular herbs increased the probability of recovery from certain illnesses. This kind of meme would propagate, in proportion to its plausibility, heart-shaped leaves signifying benefit for heart conditions, for example. Yet they were often completely false. The patient may only have received psychological benefit, or may even have been harmed by the treatment. Nowadays we have developed the methods of science, in this kind of case the double-blind trial with control groups, which greatly improves on the informal assessment of the human mind.
SCIENCE AS A SHEEPDOG
Scientific methods are themselves part of our meme population and can be regarded as servants who help us to manage the other memes. Science might be thought the analogy of a sheepdog: a species used by the meme farmer to help to control the other memes to his ultimate advantage. It can be used to eliminate the parasitic false fact-memes, which reduce our fitness, and to cultivate the conditions in which new and correct fact-memes can be discovered. We are assuming here that true facts contribute more to our fitness than false ones. Except in cases where we labour under the effect of a double and self-compensating error, this would seem likely to be the case.
The part of the garden where we cultivate our value-memes is probably more infested with weeds and parasites. That our values are subject to error must be beyond question, when we contemplate the contradictory changes of the last few hundred years, the differences in values with geographic separation and the violent controversies, which occur in every society.
We lack, however, the equivalent of a scientific method to weed our value meme garden and the work is left to our evolved instincts, which have fitted us over millions of years to become good hunter-gatherers. These instincts are overwhelmed by the many exotic and virulent value memes, which nowadays blow in from afar to plant themselves in our fertile minds. Its practitioners often define science itself to be outside the realm of values, yet we desperately need an equally efficient servant meme to help our genetically based instincts to control and cultivate our value-memes. It is this problem that an effective moral philosophy must address, but has not yet done so.
CO-EVOLUTION OF GENES AND MEMES
Let us summarise this approach to the interaction of culture and genes, laying aside for the moment the meme metaphor. Human beings are evolved animals, whose information processing apparatus is determined by genetic chemistry. This brain incorporates a number of pre-set values and also factual assumptions about the physical world. Most importantly, one of these pre-set values is an appetite to seek out and learn new facts about the outside world and to make treaties with other human beings so as to form co-operative societies.
Biological success in humans comes mainly from success in using this culture of facts and values and this is more important than almost any other physical factor. Natural selection acts on the genetically defined parts of our minds and selects for the genetic ability to obtain and use culture to the best advantage in terms of fitness.
Some humans are vastly more fortunate than others in their cultural environment and profit as a result. It is, however, absolute nonsense to say that this imbalance of culture means that genetic evolution has become irrelevant for man. It would be as absurd as saying that a lack of uniformity in the distribution of antelopes has made genetic evolution irrelevant for lions.
The symbiosis of human minds with cultural memes or human beings with agricultural plants and animals are not the only examples of this evolutionary situation. Our own intestines are hosts to an aquarium of micro-organisms, which are essential to us for our efficient digestion. These micro-organisms reproduce quite independently, guided by their own DNA, not ours. And for that reason they follow evolutionary pressures, which promote their own interests and not ours, although our survival might perhaps be in their interest.
Human evolutionary pressure will promote, just as in the other cases, the ability to encourage and use the beneficial micro-organisms and to eliminate the harmful ones. Evolutionary pressure on the human genotype remains important.
In the last two pages of The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins (1976) allows his logic to loosen up a little. In this he is in excellent company, for Charles Darwin himself also dropped his guard in the closing passages of "The Origin". Despite being almost as much a Dawkins enthusiast as I am a Darwin enthusiast, I must disagree with one of his conclusions.
He points out, accurately, that our genetic descendants quickly disperse our genes. My son carries half of my genes and his son a quarter. In twenty generations my closest relative will derive less than one millionth of his genes from me, although, all things being equal, there will be more than a million such people! My identity is much dispersed, but if, on the other hand, Dawkins writes, I am fortunate enough to invent a new meme, it will live after me as an indivisible memorial and will be much more satisfactory than genes dissolved in the common pool.
This is where it is difficult to agree. If an instinct arises to invent things, that instinct will only evolve and be stable in the population if the inventions bring evolutionary benefit to the genes of the inventor. This will not happen, if rivals steal the intellectual property. If an instinct exists to invent for any other purpose, opposed to or even diverting effort from the service of the genes, it will be slowly eliminated by natural selection.
It can be argued that there is only one worthwhile memorial after we are dead: copies of our genes in living bodies! Is it useful to me that they are still playing my song...unless perhaps my genetic descendants are collecting the royalties?
The wide dispersal of my genes after many generations is not necessarily a disadvantage: rather it is an insurance, as they would be much less likely to be wiped out in a random accident. We must not exaggerate the importance of our own individual identities, although they seem important to us at the time. Most ordinary people, unlike Dawkins, leave no cultural memorial, becoming, at best, a name in a family tree with virtually nothing of their entire lives recorded. Their genes, in today's living people, are their only continuing achievement.
Of course any claim that our only identifiable objective is the transmission of our genes must be balanced against the case advanced by Ian Charles among others. He is speculating that we might simply maximise the subjective happiness that we experience. There is no doubt that happiness is a mechanism that has evolved in our brain as a proxy for actions likely to transmit our genes, although it is often imperfectly correlated with them in modern situations. But that does not obviously prove him wrong. This is a big question which we must leave to another time.
NATURE AND NURTURE
The nature-nurture debate is the old name for the argument over the extent to which humans are formed by their heredity or by their cultural environment. It is a long-standing controversy, which has produced a fine crop of irrational and emotional argument over the years. Most of the protagonists have had their minds made up in advance and have had little need of evidence. The main reason for this heat of passion has been the involvement of the controversy in religion and in the modern left wing or liberal consensus.
Aristotle has been quoted as saying "Those who are sprung from better ancestors are likely to be better men, for nobility is excellence of family". This view held the stage until the reforms of the last few hundred years. The opposite idea: that man is moulded by his cultural experience and that all men have an equal hereditary endowment is certainly not new. It was advocated by the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) and was well established by the time of the revolutions of the eighteenth century.
The arguments have been for or against the ideas that the European lower social classes, or the non-European races, were genetically less intelligent and deserved to have a poorer position in the world as a result. (Whether or not the factual premises were true, it is difficult to see any clear logic, by which the conclusion about values might follow. We have an example of the "is/ought" fallacy.)
I enjoyed the comments in Steven Pinker (1997) on the nature-nurture controversy. He says, "it falls into the category of ideas that are so bad they are not even wrong". He cites the example of a computer, which is exceptionally well equipped in both hardware and pre-installed software. Does this mean that there will be no need for input data and that it can do a useful job without it? Of course that is absurd: more built-in capability is likely to enhance the computer's ability to handle input data, not remove the need for it.
Today the nature-nurture debate has largely fizzled out, because it was obvious, to anyone who really wished to know, that human mental abilities cannot be wholly inherited or wholly cultural. The answer is a complex mixture of both.
The future of philosophy lies in the realisation that natural selection is the only organising force that has formed our minds. This future lies in achieving a greater understanding of the interplay of the two main types of evolving replicator – the gene and the meme. But the big question remains to be solved. Having understood the mechanisms of why we believe what we do, we still have to ask if we are right to do so.
We are approaching the point where we can understand that the fact that our factual beliefs and moral sentiments are the product of the evolution of two symbiotic but sometimes antagonistic replicators. But we still have to ask what consequences this has for our own choices. We meet the formidable barrier of Hume’s law – you cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”. Yet there seems to be nowhere else to derive them from.
This problem is too much for this evening, but is treated at greater length in my book of a few years ago, and I have a few copies here tonight. I am not quite as generous as last month’s speaker who gave books away free, but they are still a substantial bargain at £9 for a hardback.
But I will stop there for tonight and would hand the meeting back to our chairman for discussion.