By Susan Blackmore

What's a meme? First coined by way of Richard Dawkins in his 1976 learn The egocentric Gene, a meme is any proposal, habit, or ability that may be transferred from one individual to a different by means of imitation: tales, models, innovations, recipes, songs, and methods of plowing a box, throwing a baseball, or creating a sculpture. it's also essentially the most important--and controversial--concepts to emerge given that Darwin's beginning of the Species.
Here, Blackmore boldly asserts: "Just because the layout of bodies should be understood merely by way of traditional choice, so the layout of our minds will be understood basically when it comes to memetic selection." certainly, The Meme computer exhibits that when our far-off ancestors got the the most important skill to mimic, a moment type of typical choice started: a survival of the fittest between competing principles and behaviors. those who proved so much adaptive--making instruments, for instance, or utilizing language--survived and flourished, replicating themselves in as many minds as attainable. those memes then handed themselves on from iteration to iteration via aiding to make sure that the genes of these who bought them additionally survived and reproduced. utilising this thought to many facets of human existence, Blackmore brilliantly explains why we are living in towns, why we speak a lot, why we can't cease considering, why we behave altruistically, how we decide our associates, and lots more and plenty extra. With arguable implications for our spiritual ideals, our unfastened will, and our very feel of "self", this provocative ebook could be needs to analyzing any normal reader or scholar drawn to psychology, biology, or anthropology.

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Memes can spread for other reasons too, including less benign ones. They might spread because they appear to provide advantages even when they do not, because they are especially easily imitated by human brains, because they change the selective environment to the detriment of competing memes, and so on. With a meme’s eye view we ask not how inventions benefit human happiness or human genes, but how they benefit themselves. Turning to more modern technology, from the invention of the wheel to the design of cars, there is plenty of evidence that innovations evolve in the sense that they arise from what went before.

Perhaps the answer seems too obvious – that it was biologically adaptive. But, as we shall see, this is not necessarily the right answer, and memetics can provide new twists to the argument. 26 THE MEME MACHINE Inventions as memes Another example is the spread of inventions. Probably the most important of all ‘inventions’ in human history was that of farming. Although there are still many arguments over the details, archaeologists generally agree that before about 10000 years ago all humans lived by hunting and gathering.

However, they cannot be just a bare instruction to ‘Copy me’. This might succeed in clogging up the entire memory of the first computer it got into but would have no way of getting any further. So viruses have co-memes for promoting their survival. They lurk in the programs that people mail to their friends on disks. Some evade immediate detection by infecting only a small proportion of the machines they reach, and some are triggered probabilistically. Some bury themselves in memory only to pop up at a specified time – we may expect many at midnight on 31 December 1999 – quite apart from the looming problem of computers that cannot cope with the year ‘00’.

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The Meme Machine (Popular Science) by Susan Blackmore


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