virus: Susan Blackmore lecturing at Boxmind

From: Jonathan Davis (
Date: Wed Jul 10 2002 - 17:00:55 MDT

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Memes are ideas, habits, skills or other information passed from person
to person by imitation. The new science of memetics could transform our
understanding of human evolution. The term 'meme' was coined by Dawkins
in 1976 to describe a cultural replicator. Universal Darwinism and the
evolutionary algorithm. Are memes true replicators? Selfish memes will
replicate whenever and however they can. Most are useful (buildings,
recipes, scientific theories); some are viral (email viruses, hoaxes,
chain letters). Religions as viruses of the mind. Most objections are
based on misunderstandings or false analogies with genes: - memes don't
exist, everything is a meme, the units problem, and the 'Lamarckian
objection'. Unresolved controversies concern definitions and questions
about how memes are copied. 'Memetic drive' theory suggests that once
memes appeared they forced hominid genes to produce a bigger brain; one
designed to pass on the winning memes, including religion, ritual, and
music as well as survival skills. Language was created not by and for
genes, but by and for memes - as a method for increasing their
replication. The same process has produced writing, printing, computers
and the web. All are meme-driven. The inner conscious self that has free
will, and can rebel against the selfish replicators, is an illusion. The
self is a memeplex created by and for the memes."

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