virus: 'The Meme Machine' by Susan Blackmore

WALKER, Julia (
Thu, 18 Mar 1999 10:29:37 -0700

we have just published the following book:

The Meme Machine
Susan Blackmore
With a Foreword by Richard Dawkins
A controversial and startling new way of thinking about the human mind, memetics affects us all in every aspect of our lives. Here is the definitive account of this fascinating, emerging science...

'Anyone who hopes - or fears - that memetics will become a science of culture will find this surefooted exploration of the prospects a major eye-opener.' Daniel C. Dennett
'Any theory deserves to be given its best shot, and that is what Susan Blackmore has given the theory of the meme... I am delighted to recommend her book.' Richard Dawkins [who coined the term 'meme' in The Selfish Gene] 'meme (mi:m), n. Biol. (shortened from mimeme... that which is imitated, after GENE n.) An element of a culture that may be considered to be passed on by non-genetic means, esp. imitation'. The new Oxford English Dictionary

Our minds are fashioned by memes just as our bodies are fashioned by genes. Memes are ideas, behaviours or skills passed on from person to person by imitation - memes are replicators and are all around us in our everyday lives, competing to get into our brains and minds. Examples include the way in which we copy ideas, behaviours, inventions, songs, catchphrases and stories from one another. Memetics can explain why we talk and think so much, why religions, cults and ideologies have such power over us, and how our telephones, televisions and computers could have been designed for the replication of memes. Memetic competition shapes our minds and culture, just as natural selection has designed our bodies.

Also covered in the The Meme Machine:
* Are memes the tools with which we think? (p15)

If you would like a copy for review on your Website, please let me know and I will be happy to send a copy to you.

You may also like to see her article for last week's 'New Scientist':

best wishes,


Julia Walker
Press and Promotions Manager - Trade Science and Medicine Oxford University Press
Great Clarendon Street
tel: (01865) 267977
fax: (01865) 267782
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