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The New Science
of the Meme

Richard Brodie

Summary | Author | Contents | Ordering


Virus of the Mind is the first popular book devoted to the science of memetics, a controversial new field that transcends psychology, biology, anthropology, and cognitive science. Memetics is the science of memes, the invisible but very real DNA of human society.

In Virus of the Mind, Richard Brodie carefully builds on the work of scientists Richard Dawkins, Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennett, and others who have become fascinated with memes and their potential impact on our lives. But Brodie goes beyond science and dives into the meat of the issue: is the emergence of this new science going to have an impact on our lives like the emergence of atomic physics did in the Cold War?

Brodie would say the impact will be at least as great. While atomic bombs affect everybody's life, viruses of the mind touch lives in a more personal and more pernicious way.

Mind viruses have already infected governments, educational systems, and inner cities, leading to some of the most pervasive and troublesome problems of society today: youth gangs, the welfare cycle, the deterioration of the public schools, and ever-growing government bureaucracy.

Viruses of the mind are not a future worry: they are here with us now and are evolving to become better and better at their job of infecting us. The recent explosion of mass media and the information superhighway has made the earth a prime breeding ground for viruses of the mind.

Will there be a mental plague? Will only some of us survive with our free will intact? Brodie weaves together science, ethics, and current events as he raises these and other very disturbing questions about memes.

About the Author

Richard Brodie was Microsoft chairman Bill Gates's personal technical assistant and the original author of Microsoft Word, one of the world's best-selling computer programs. Educated at Harvard, he is the also the best-selling author of Getting Past OK. An accomplished speaker, he has appeared on more than 80 television and radio shows including two appearances on Donahue and NBC's Today. He can also be seen engaged in his hobby, playing the major televised poker tournaments.


Introduction: Crisis of the Mind

1. Memes
2. Mind and Behavior
3. Viruses
4. Evolution
5. The Evolution of Memes
6. Sex: the Root of All Evolution
7. Survival and Fear
8. How We Get Programmed
9. Cultural Viruses
10. The Memetics of Religion
11. Designer Viruses (How To Start a Cult)
12. Disinfection

Recommended Reading

Last Edited: March 19, 2008
 © 1996-2006 Richard Brodie. All rights reserved.