Re: virus: Will the real meme please stand up.

Robin Faichney (
Wed, 6 Aug 1997 09:50:00 +0100 wrote:
>ERiC wrote:
>> "A meme is a unit of information in a mind whose existance influences
>> events such that more copies of itself get created in other minds."
>> (Richard Brodie, Virus of the Mind, pg.32)
>> that is, a meme is a specific *type* of idea, one which is
>> self-propagating. Any other use of the word is *abuse*[1].
>Interesting. So all those ideas that float around my head and I wish
>I had time to write down or work on more but don't, are not memes...
>Aren't they just unsusccessful memes? Like genetic sports, not viable
>so they don't reproduce.

Given the complexity of interaction between ideas, and between
each idea and its environment, I don't believe it's possible in
practice to distinguish between those ideas that reproduce,
and those that don't. Also, I think all ideas are, at least in
principle, capable of reproducing. While taking it forgranted
that memetics is about ideas that actually do reproduce, I
really don't see any harm arising from using "meme"
fairly indiscriminately. So, for instance, to view
uncommunicated ideas as unsuccessful memes would be
fine. Like tmca says: a mutation resulting in an organism
being unable to reproduce might be viewed as an
unsuccessful gene.

Any argument?