When Memes and Genes Conflict

Memes and genes may often reinforce each other, but they sometimes come into opposition. For example, the habit of celibacy is presumably not inherited genetically. A gene for celibacy is doomed to failure in the gene pool, except under very special circumstances such as we find in the social insects. But still, a meme for celibacy can be successful in the meme pool. For example, suppose the success of a meme depends critically on how much time people spend in actively transmitting it to other people. Any time spent in doing other things than attempting to transmit the meme may be regarded as time wasted from the meme's point of view. The meme for celibacy is transmitted by priests to young boys who have not yet decided what they want to do with their lives. The medium of transmission is human influence of various kinds, the spoken and written word, personal example and so on. Suppose, for the sake of argument, it happened to be the case that marriage weakened the power of a priest to influence his flock, say because it occupied a large proportion of his time and attention. This has, indeed, been advanced as an official reason for the enforcement of celibacy among priests. If this were the case, it would follow that the meme for celibacy could have greater survival value than the meme for marriage. Of course, exactly the opposite would be true for a gene for celibacy. If a priest is a survival machine for memes, celibacy is a useful attribute to build into him. Celibacy is just a minor partner in a large complex of mutually-assisting religious memes.


Memes can override genes, which means a meme like 'celibacy' can prevent the genes from reproducing.

Folksonomies: evolution memes genes reproduction

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partner:JobTitle (0.724896 (negative:-0.302784)), official:JobTitle (0.271878 (neutral:0.000000))

Gene (0.988661): dbpedia | freebase
Meme (0.893261): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Memetics (0.850500): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Logic (0.729390): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Evolution (0.727646): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
The Selfish Gene (0.718986): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Richard Dawkins (0.712266): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago | musicBrainz
Organism (0.530043): dbpedia | freebase

 The Selfish Gene - First Edition
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Dawkins , Richad (1976), The Selfish Gene - First Edition, Oxford, Retrieved on 2007-01-09