virus: RE: MONTAG

Richard Brodie (
Fri, 24 May 1996 13:26:09 -0700

>1: How does memetics explain culture and the mind?

In memetics, we look at the mind as a combination of genetic instincts
and memetic programming--hardware and software. Memes are the basic unit
of programming. Culture is a battle among memes for the territory of the
minds of the people.

>2:Why does it represent a paradigm shift?

Memetics goes against some commonly held beliefs (memes). For example,
"human culture is evolving toward a better world"; "we have our own
original ideas"; "the truth will eventually come out." All of these
common memes are shattered by the memetic model, which predicts that
evolution of culture is not evolving toward anything but fitter memes.
The memes that spread aren't the "good ideas"; they are the fittest

>3:How does the meme influence events?

All our behavior is influenced by the memes we are programmed with.
Advertisers, for instance, deliberately program people with memes
intended to influence them to buy their products. Politicians attempt to
infect people with memes that put them in power.

>4:Is there competition between the memes and the genes?Is biological
>evolution led by the memes too? If it is, does it mean that biological
>evolution is not the only one in action?

Gene evolution happens on a much slower scale than meme evolution, but
will eventually influence it. For example, the spread of the "birth
control" meme is resulting in fewer births to those who are susceptible
to it, making the gene pool fill up with people who don't have a
tendency to control births for whatever reason.

>5:Is it possible for individuals to hinder or foster the diffusion of
>certain memes?

Absolutely. This is known as "spin control". One can "inoculate" a
population against the spread of, for instance, a political enemy's
memes by first introducing a counter-meme that undermines his

>The term meme stems from Greek mimesis: if ideas are handed down only
>imitation,how can they get into evolution? Just by casual mutations?

I don't think it's true that ideas only get handed down by imitation. I
think each brain has an idea generator. But how ideas get created is not
as interesting as how and why they succeed, and that is what my book
"Virus of the Mind" is about.

Richard Brodie +1.206.688.8600
CEO, Brodie Technology Group, Inc., Bellevue, WA, USA
Do you know what a "meme" is?