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Meme Central to Meme Central, the center of the world of memetics. Memes are contagious ideas, all competing for a share of our mind in a kind of Darwinian selection. As memes evolve, they become better and better at distracting and diverting us from whatever we'd really like to be doing with our lives. They are a kind of Drug of the Mind. Confused? Blame it on memes.

Quick Tour:

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·         Read the list of frequently asked questions about memetics.

Memetics FAQ
(Frequently Asked Questions)

  • How do you pronounce "meme"?
  • "Meem" (rhymes with "dream")
  • What is a meme?
  • Memes are the basic building blocks of our minds and culture, in the same way that genes are the basic building blocks of biological life.
  • Isn't memetics just a fancy name for _________ (fill in the blank with "cultural evolution", "behavioral psychology", "sociobiology", or anything else)? Why is this anything new?
  • The breakthrough in memetics is in extending Darwinian evolution to culture. There are several exciting conclusions from doing that, one of which is the ability to predict that ideas will spread not because they are "good ideas", but because they contain "good memes" such as danger, food and sex that push our evolutionary buttons and force us to pay attention to them.
  • Who invented memes?
  • Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins is credited with first publication of the concept of meme in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.
  • If memes control our thoughts and therefore our actions, what about free will?
  • We continually understand more and more about how our bodies and minds work. We now know that trillions of organic nanomachines in the cells of our bodies work together to give us life. Neither that understanding nor the new understanding of our minds that memetics will give us should affect the philosophical question of free will.
  • In Virus of the Mind, you seem to neglect truth as a main reason that memes replicate, focusing instead on psychological button-pushing, evangelism, and other non-obvious means. Why?
  • First, the theoretical reason. Our minds evolved to support survival and reproduction in the ancestral environment (Stone Age). The kind of truth that would have aided that would have pertained to knowledge of terrain, seasons, and so on. These things are concrete and simple. Our society today is so complex that concrete and simple things that "make sense" are likely to out-compete "true" memes that are less appealing. Second, empirical evidence shows that students are getting worse and worse at knowledge tests.
  • You talk a lot about living life in "Level 3." What does that mean?
  • It means not just living consciously, but consciously choosing the memes I allow to program me. Read this.

Memetics Resources

Internet Mind Virus Antidote

Send this page to people who send you annoying chain letters, virus hoaxes, or bad jokes.

The Church of Virus

People who master memetics gain the ability to program their own minds—and the minds of others! What kind of religion would you create with this knowledge?

Hans-Cees Speel's Memetics Page

Dr. Speel is one of the first academic researchers to devote his work to memetics. His page has many interesting links.


see the work of KMO.

The Lucifer Principle

Howard Bloom is one of the world's most interesting people. He writes on everything from politics to memetics. Visit the site he has set up around his book The Lucifer Principle.

Peruse the Unofficial Richard Dawkins Page or

Read Richard Dawkins's essay "Viruses of the Mind"

When I met Prof. Dawkins, he politely greeted me with "Oh, you're the fellow who pinched my title!" It was not a week after the advance information for my book Virus of the Mind was sent to Books in Print that I walked into Barnes & Noble and saw his essay featured on the cover of Free Inquiry magazine. Well, I suppose the meme infected both of us at about the same time...

Memetics Publications on the Web

Browse through a collection of memetics-related writing available on the Web, including papers by Daniel Dennett, Keith Henson, and Liane Gabora.

Journal of Memetics

Have an academic bent? Then peruse the scholarly journal dedicated to memetics. The first issue includes papers by William Calvin, Liane Gabora, and other heavy hitters..

The Generosity Virus

John Stoner has created a designer virus to spread the meme of generosity. Here's what he says about the virus: "A little while ago, I made up these cards. They create a chain of generous acts, memetically. How do you use them? You do something nice for someone, and you do it anonymously. For example, you could pay the toll of the car behind you at a tollbooth. One thing I've done is go to this wonderful bakery near my home, and buy a treat for the next person who walks in the door after I leave. Be creative! And you pass on one of these cards.... check them out."

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Here's a smart young man that I'm a big fan of. He's written quite a bit about the future of humanity, especially the "singularity" predicted when artificial intelligence overtakes human intelligence. He's worth getting to know.

Susan Blackmore

Author of The Meme Machine, she has a nice site with more information on memetics.

Last Edited: March 19, 2008
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