Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Blackmore , Susan (2000-05-16), The Meme Machine (Popular Science), Oxford University Press, USA, Retrieved on 2011-01-09
Folksonomies: memetics

Memes

09 JAN 2011

 A Succinct Definition of a Meme

For something to count as a replicator it must sustain the evolutionary algorithm based on variation, selection and retention (or heredity). Memes certainly come with variation - stories are rarely told exactly the same way twice, no two buildings are absolutely identical, and every conversation is unique - and when memes are passed on, the copying is not always perfect. As the psychologist, Sir Frederic Bartlett (1932) showed n the 1930s, a story get a bit embellished or the details are forg...
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Memes are ideas that are replicated, have variation, and are subject to selection, making them things that can evolve.

09 JAN 2011

 Not All Thoughts are Memes

Where do new memes come from? They come about through variation and combination of old ones - either inside one person's mind, or when memes are passed from person to person. So, for example, the poodle story is concocted out of language that people already know and ideas they already have, put together in new ways. They then remember it and pass it on, and variations occur in the process. And the same is true of inventions, songs, works of art, and scientific theories. The human mind is a r...
Folksonomies: memetics memes idea mashups
Folksonomies: memetics memes idea mashups
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Thoughts we keep to ourselves are not memes, because they are not passed along to others. New memes come ideas that we put together in new ways.

The "poodle story" referred to in this meme is the urban legend of a woman who microwaved her dog to dry it after a bath.

09 JAN 2011

 The History of Analogies Between Biological Evolution and...

From the early days of Darwinism analogies have been drawn between biological evolution and the evolution of culture. Darwin's contemporary Herbert Spencer studied the evolution of civilizations, which he viewed as progressing towards an ideal something like that of Victorian English society. Lewis Morgan's evolutionary theory of society included the three stages of savagery, barbarism, and civilization. The historian Arnold Toynbee used evolutionary ideas in identifying over thirty distinct ...
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A brief summary of the history of various intellectuals investigating and hypothesizing on the evolution of societies.

23 JAN 2011

 Insights from Comparative Linguistics

Nowadays, comparative linguists analyse the minute details of similarities and differences. They can often trace words back through many types of change such as the dropping of syllables and shifts in pronunciation. Thus, the evolutionary history of various languages can be accurately traced. Family trees based on differences in DNA. Also, the migratory histories of whole peoples can be deduced from the languages that remain today. In Africa, for example, the 1500 or more surviving languages ...
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Comparative linguistics is an excellent method for tracing memetic influences between cultures and cultural genealogy.

23 JAN 2011

 Cannibalism as an Example of Maladaptive Meme

A seriously maladaptive example is the practice of cannibalism in the funeral rites of a New Guinea highland tribe called the Fore. As part of complex rituals honouring their dead the Fore ate parts of the human bodies. In fact, they preferred eating pork to human flesh and so the men tended to get more of this prized food, leaving the women and children to more cannibalism (Durham 1991). This practice led directly to an epidemic of the degenerative disease kuru, which killed about 2500 Fore ...
Folksonomies: memetics maladaptive meme
Folksonomies: memetics maladaptive meme
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Cannibalism in Fore tribe members persists as a meme in the tribe despite killing 50 percent of its carriers.

23 JAN 2011

 Can you stop thinking?

Can you stop thinking? Perhaps you have practiced meditation or some other method of calming the mind. If so you will know that the task is not trivial. If you have not, I suggest you try now to empty your mind for a minute or so (or if you cannot face it now, try it sometime when you have nothing 'better' to do, waiting for the kettle to boil, or the computer to boot up, for example). When any thought comes along, as it certainly will, just acknowledge it and let it go. Do not get tangled up...
Folksonomies: memetics
Folksonomies: memetics
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Our brains cannot stop thinking, processing the memes contained in our brains. There is not biological imperative for this, but there is a memetic explanation for it.

23 JAN 2011

 Written Worlds May Not be Memes

Think of the number of things you are likely to say to someone else today -- or the number of words you will hear other people speak. You might listen to the radio, watch television, have dinner with other people, help your children with the homework, answer the phone to people far away. Most of what is said in these conversations will never be passed on again. Most of it will not reappear as 'Then he said to her...' or 'And did you know...' Most will die at birth. Written words may not fare ...
Folksonomies: memetics
Folksonomies: memetics
  1  notes

Some examples of ideas that won't become memes, with the surprising inclusion of books.

23 JAN 2011

 Imitation is Instinctive

Recent research shows that babies begin to imitate facial expressions and gestures from an early age whether they are rewarded or not. Babies are able to mimic facial expressions they see and sounds they hear when they are too young to have learned by practice or by looking in mirrors (Meltzoff 1990). Successfully imitating something seems to be rewarding in itself. We can see now, as the behaviourists could not, why so much of our behavior has to be instinctive. The world is too complicated ...
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The complexity of our brains makes us natural learners and imitators.

23 JAN 2011

 Taboos Against Homosexuality Promote its Genetic Survival

The taboo against homosexuality is especially interesting. There is not generally accepted biological explanation of homosexuality and superficially it does not appear to be adaptive. Nevertheless, evidence is accumulating that there is an inherited predisposition for homosexuality. Assuming this is the case, the taboos of the past would, paradoxically, have favoured the survival of these genes by forcing the people who carried them, against their wishes, to marry and have children. This sugg...
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By forcing homosexuals to live heterosexual lives, the genes for homosexuality survive.

23 JAN 2011

 Memes and Genes in Conflict in Modern Child-Rearing

Let us suppose that women who have many chidren are far too busy to have much social life, and spend most of their time with their partners and family. The few other people they do see are likely to be other mothers with young children who already share at least some of their child-rearing memes. The more children they have the mor eyears they will spend this way. They will, therefore, have little time for spreading their own memes, including the ones concerned with family values and the ple...
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Women who have lots of children have less memetic influence, while women who are career-oriented have more memetic influence, but less genetic.

08 FEB 2011

 Is Beethoven's <em>Fifth Symphony</em> a meme, or only th...

Whether by coincidence or by memetic transmission, Beethoven is the favourite example for illustrating this problem. Brodie (1996) uses Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Dawkins (1976) uses the Ninth and Dennett (1995) uses both the Fifth and the Seventh. Dennet adds that the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth are a tremendously successful meme, replicating all by themselves in contexts in which Beethoven's works are quite unknown. So are they the meme, or the whole symphony? If we cannot answe...
Folksonomies: memetics beethoven
Folksonomies: memetics beethoven
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We cannot specify the unit of a meme.

08 FEB 2011

 Good Replicators have Fidelity, Fecundity, and Longevity

Effective memes will be those that cause high fidelity, long-lasting memory. Memes may be successful at spreading largely because they are memorable rather than because they are important or useful. Wrong theories in science may spread simply because they are comprehensible and fit easilty with existing theories, and bad books may sell more copies because you can remember the title when you get to the bookshop -- though, of course, we do have strategies for overcoming these biases. An importa...
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Since memes rely on memory, and memory is not digital, how effective are they as a replicator in our brains?

08 FEB 2011

 Distinguishing the Meme Content from the Meme's Effect on...

[Cloak] defined the i-culture as the instructions in people's heads, and the m-culture as the features of people's behaviour, their technology and social organization. he explicitly likened his i-culture to the genotype and m-culture to the phenotype... in The Extended Phenotype [Dawkins] says 'Unfortunately, unlike Cloak... I was insufficiently clear about the distinction between the meme itself, as replicator, on the one hand, and its "phenotypic effects" or "meme products" on the other' (D...
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A survey of different scientists exploring varying metaphors to express the difference between the meme as an idea and the manifestation of the meme in society.

08 FEB 2011

 Mental Exercises for Coping with a World of Memes

If my understanding of human nature is that there is no conscious self inside then I must live that way--otherwise this is a vain and lifeless theory of human nature. But how can 'I' live as though I do not exist, and who would be choosing to do so? One trick is to concentrate on the present moment--all the time--letting go of any thoughts that come up. This kind of 'meme-weeding' requires a great concentration but is most interestin in its effect. If you can concentrate for a few minutes at...
Folksonomies: memetics meditation
Folksonomies: memetics meditation
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Being in the moment and paying attention to everything equally are strategies for escaping the self-centered aspect of memes seeking our attention.

09 JAN 2011

 Campbell's Rule of Design Through Evolution

We should think of it like this - evolutionary theory describes how design is created by the competition between replicators. Genes are one example of a replicator and memes another. The general theory of evolution must apply to both of them, but the specific details of how each replicator works may be quite different. This relationship was clearly seen by the the American psychologist Donald Campbell (1960, 1965) long before the idea of memes was invented. He argued that organic evolution, ...
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Natural selection doesn't just apply to biological designs, but exists on molecular and memetic levels as well.