Examples of Memes in Conflict with Genes

Two examples of memes overriding the reproductive imperative of genes. Homosexuality genes survive because of religious taboos, while the genetic need to reproduce is overridden by the professional woman meme.

Folksonomies: religion memetics culture genetics

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 suggests an interesting prediction for the future. As horizontal transmission increases the taboo should lose its power and so can be expected to disappear, as indeed it is doing in many societies. Homosexuals are then free to have sex with other homosexuals, to have long-term relationships with their own sex, and not to have children at all. The short-term effect is much more overt homosexual behavior and acceptance of that behavior by everyone, but the long-term effect may be fewer genes for homosexuality.


By forcing homosexuals to live heterosexual lives, the genes for homosexuality survive.

Folksonomies: memetics homosexuality taboos


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 pleasures of having lots of children.

On the other hand, women who have onlyh one or two children, or none at all, are far more likely to have jobs outside the home, to have an exciting social life, to use e-mail, to write books and papers and articles, to become politicians or broadcasters, or do any number of other things that will spread their memes, including the memes for birth control and the pleasures of a small family. These are the women whose pictures appear in the media, whose succss inspires others, and who provide role models for other women to copy.

There is a battle going on here -- a battle between memes and genes to take controle over the machinery of replication -- in this case a woman\'s body and mind. Any one person has only so much time and energy in their lifetime. They can divide it as they choose but they cannot have lots of children and devote maximal time and effort to spreading memes. This particular battle is played out largely in the lives of women and is becoming ever more important as women take a more prominent role in modern meme-driven society. My argument is simply this -- the women who devote more time to memes and less to genes are the more visible ones, and therefore the ones most likely to be copied. In the process, they are effectively encouraging more women to desert gene-spreading in favour of meme-spreading


Women who have lots of children have less memetic influence, while women who are career-oriented have more memetic influence, but less genetic.

Folksonomies: evolution memetics memes genes genetics