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

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Wed, 6 Aug 1997 09:22:04 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 6 Aug 1997, Robin Faichney wrote:

> 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?
> Robin

I am in agreement with Robin; "unsuccessful meme" is a perfectly coherent
way of speaking of an idea that fails to reproduce.