The Meme Machine

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Mar 16, 2000 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 264 pages
43 Reviews
What is a meme? First coined by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, a meme is any idea, behavior, or skill that can be transferred from one person to another by imitation: stories, fashions, inventions, recipes, songs, ways of plowing a field or throwing a baseball or making a sculpture. The meme is also one of the most important--and controversial--concepts to emerge since The Origin of the Species appeared nearly 150 years ago.
In The Meme Machine Susan Blackmore boldly asserts: "Just as the design of our bodies can be understood only in terms of natural selection, so the design of our minds can be understood only in terms of memetic selection." Indeed, Blackmore shows that once our distant ancestors acquired the crucial ability to imitate, a second kind of natural selection began, a survival of the fittest amongst competing ideas and behaviors. Ideas and behaviors that proved most adaptive--making tools, for example, or using language--survived and flourished, replicating themselves in as many minds as possible. These memes then passed themselves on from generation to generation by helping to ensure that the genes of those who acquired them also survived and reproduced. Applying this theory to many aspects of human life, Blackmore offers brilliant explanations for why we live in cities, why we talk so much, why we can't stop thinking, why we behave altruistically, how we choose our mates, and much more.
With controversial implications for our religious beliefs, our free will, our very sense of "self," The Meme Machine offers a provocative theory everyone will soon be talking about.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
11
4 stars
17
3 stars
11
2 stars
1
1 star
3

Excellent overview of the modern science of "memetics"! - Goodreads
An excellent introduction to a controversial subject. - Goodreads
This book offers some amazing insight to our behaviour. - Goodreads

Review: The Meme Machine

User Review  - Jon Seymour - Goodreads

A thorough explanation of the analogy between cultural memes and biological genes. Read full review

Review: The Meme Machine

User Review  - Ray Kohler - Goodreads

Started off a bit too basic and rather boring, but became interesting after the first few chapters. In the end it may have overreached itself a bit, but that's no real fault in a book that has something new to say. Read full review

Contents

Strange creatures
1
Universal Darwinism
10
The evolution of culture
24
A Taking the memes eye view
37
Three problems with memes
53
The big brain
67
The origins of language
82
Memegene coevolution
93
Sex in the modern world
132
A memetic theory of altruism
147
The altruism trick
162
Memes of the New Age
175
Religions as memeplexes
187
Into the Internet
204
The ultimate memeplex
219
Out of the meme race
235

The limits of sociobiology
108
An orgasm saved my life
121

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2000)


Susan Blackmore is a Lecturer in the School of Psychology, University of the West of England. The author of Dying to Live: Science and the Near Death Experience, she resides in Bristol, UK.