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Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Summary, for those in a hurry:

Memetics deals with information transfer, specifically cultural information in society. The basic idea is to conflate the exchange of information between people with genetic material, to track the mutation of ideas as they are transmitted from one person to the next in the way you could track viral transmissions and mutations. However, a meme also provides benefits to the carrier if they spread it.

Meme : Memetics :: Gene : Genetics

Memetics does NOT refer to telepathy, ESP or any imaginary psychic mental magic. These words are memetic, and if you understand them then they are having a completely ordinary memetic effect on you.

Memetics in regards to SCP objects tends to focus on the impossible rather than the mundane, regarding effects that are transmitted via information. In general, the effects themselves should remain in the realm of information. A memetic SCP would be more likely to be a phrase that makes you think you have wings as opposed to a phrase that makes you actually grow a pair of wings. If you write up magic words that make people grow wings, it should be described as something other than memetic.

Memetic SCPs do not emanate auras or project beams. They are SCPs which involve ideas and symbols which trigger a response in those who understand them.

Memetic is often incorrectly used by new personnel as the official sounding term for “Weird Mind Shit.” However, that is not actually what memetic means. These words are memetic. They are producing a memetic effect in your mind right now, without any magical mind rays lashing out of your computer monitor to grasp your fragile consciousness. Memes are information, more specifically, cultural information.

Outside of the Foundation’s walls the concept of memetics is not taken very seriously; it is a theory that conflates the transfer of cultural information with evolutionary biology.

meme : memetic :: gene : genetic

The idea was that certain memes prosper and others wither the same way certain genes produce stronger offspring that out-compete creatures with different genes. Also, it is easy to compare the spread and mutation of information to the spread of a virus. The reason we use the term memetic in our work is largely due to this, as the truly dangerous memes out there can spread like wildfire due to the fact that the very knowledge of them can count as an infection.

Understanding the true nature of memetic threats is critical to surviving them. You cannot wear a special set of magical goggles made of telekill to protect yourself from a meme. THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING. If you just read those words in your head with a bad Teutonic accent, congratulations on being victim to yet another memetic effect. If you did not know that phrase was an oft-repeated quote from the Simpsons then congratulations; you are now infected with that knowledge and are free to participate in its spread.

A meme perpetuates itself by being beneficial to the carrier to spread to new hosts. You now understand that THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING; you’re in on the joke. However, you might have friends who aren’t, and don’t get it. It benefits you to explain them, because then you both have something new to laugh together about when it gets brought up. This is what makes a meme effective – how much incentive a carrier has to spread it. Unless an anomalous meme’s effect is the compulsive urge for the carrier to infect others, there needs to be incentive to spread it.

An artifact can no more have a memetic aura or project a memetic beam than a creature could have a genetic aura or genetic beam. Even though you could imagine a creature with genes that allow it to produce some kind of aura or beam like a big doofy X-man, remember that the examples we have of such creatures in containment are not getting their super-powered emanations from anything resembling our scientific understanding of genetics and biology. Neither are the memetic artifacts. We contain these things specifically because we cannot understand or explain them yet. At the end of the day we’re still using a clumsy concept to describe things we don’t have a full grasp of.

It is very rare that anything with a dangerous memetic component could be described as hostile to begin with. We do not contain memetic threats because they are out to get us. They are threats because it is dangerous for us to merely perceive them. It is exceptionally rare for dangerous memes to even have anything resembling sapience with the exception of certain known entities which exist entirely within the medium of “cultural information” such as SCP-, SCP-732 and SCP-423.

A dangerous meme is basically a trigger that sets off something inside of you that you may or may have not been aware of. What would your knee jerk reaction be to knowing that your rival is sleeping with your one true love? How would you react if you were to unwittingly catch them in the act? That kind of sudden revelation can make a mild mannered citizen into a killer, so don’t be surprised that there are other strange bits of information out there that can break the human mind in different yet equally drastic ways.

Protecting yourself from memetic threat is very tricky and can be worse than the threat itself. There are reasons that we behave the way we do, there are reasons our emotions soar when we hear just the right combination of sounds in a piece of music. Do you want to stop thinking about the Simpsons or your obnoxious nerdy friends that quote it every time you hear the phrase THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING? That would require forgetting about the Simpsons and your friends.

Do you want to survive hearing or reading the phrase ” ?” Well, sadly we don’t quite know what other information you need to forget or know to prevent [DATA EXPUNGED] but we’re getting better. Lobotomies and pills help, and are one of the few times that the cure is not worse than the disease. The sum total of our human condition; our cultural knowledge and upbringing and memories and identity; this is what makes us susceptible to the occasional memetic compulsion.

So it’s not the basalt monolith or its bizarre carvings that is making you strangle your companions with your own intestines, the problem was within you all along.

Should you ever find yourself under a memetic compulsion and aware of the fact, remember that there are certain mental exercises that you can perform which may save your life or the lives of your companions. Changing the information your mind is being presented with may just change how you react to it, and the more abrupt or absurd the change is the better.

Imagine the fearsome entity is wearing a bright pink nightgown. Draw a mustache on the haunted painting. Pee on the stone altar. Wear the terrible sculpture like a hat.

And if all else fails, bend over and kiss your ass goodbye. I’m not kidding. That could actually help.

– Dr. Johannes Sorts received a special dispensation to use the word “doofy” in this document

But seriously

This was originally intended as a piece of fiction on its own before it got stuck into the information bar with plenty of other plainly out-of-character writing guides. So here’s the important things to take away:

1 – “Memetics” is a specific concept regarding information exchange. It has nothing to do with telepathy or ESP or psychic compulsions.

2 – SCP-148 has no effect on anything memetic. Don’t screw this up or we will give you an incredibly hard time about it.

3 – Psychic compulsions are lame and you should think twice before using them in your new SCP, even if you avoid misusing the term “memetic” when you do it.

4 – Sorts’ Rule for all memetic SCPs is “Memetic effect + crazy to death = failure.”

5 – Wear it like a haaaaat!!

Go here to see the original:

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Best Search Engines To Use | MeMetics

Search engines are ubiquitous in our use of the internet, with most of us turning to them on multiple occasions each day. Whilst many people use browsers which are connected with one search engine or another, this wasnt always the case, although there are still people who remain staunch advocates of a certain brand, despite there being plenty of competition.

It is easy to take the technology behind a search engine for granted as we use them to find out whatever information we require. Basically speaking, a search engine crawls through an index of websites based on key terms and phrases supplied by site owners and webmasters. This all happens in a fraction of a second, with often hundreds of millions of responses ranked and returned to your screen.

It is impossible to talk about search engines without mentioning the industry leader. Google was founded after most of its competitors, but dominates the market, with an astonishing 69% of web searches taking place on its pages, knocking Bing into second place with 25%. On mobiles and tablets, Googles penetration goes further, with almost 90% of searches being carried out there.

When looking at ways in which to ensure that your business appears in the results returned by search engines, it is important to make certain that your web pages are optimised to work with the algorithms in place to rank results. This practice is called search engine optimisation (or SEO for short), and has come a long way since the days where sites just needed to include a page of key words and back links to satisfy the search engine site crawlers. In each sector there are experts out there who can help your site work within the laws of each search engines algorithm, so for example for healthcare seo, a site like bhm experts in healtcare seo would be a great first port of call.

With 25% of the market share, Microsofts entry into the search engine market, Bing is firmly established as the second choice search engine. Much of this traffic probably stems from the fact that Bing is the default option for searches carried out on Internet Explorer, helping it to claw back some ground on Google.

One of the biggest names in the internet in the 1990s, Yahoos results are now provided by Bing. This search engine remains popular thanks to the fact that many people have stuck to Yahoos e-mail service, which is actually the most popular e-mail provider, putting it firmly into third place when people are conducting a web search.

Formerly known as Ask Jeeves, the search engine dropped the butlers presence which formed the bulk of its widespread advertising campaigns in order to appeal to a more modern and savvy audience. The big selling point of this search engine is the community feel, but its results lack the depth of quality found on Google or Bing.

Read the rest here:

Best Search Engines To Use | MeMetics

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Summary, for those in a hurry:

Memetics deals with information transfer, specifically cultural information in society. The basic idea is to conflate the exchange of information between people with genetic material, to track the mutation of ideas as they are transmitted from one person to the next in the way you could track viral transmissions and mutations. However, a meme also provides benefits to the carrier if they spread it.

Meme : Memetics :: Gene : Genetics

Memetics does NOT refer to telepathy, ESP or any imaginary psychic mental magic. These words are memetic, and if you understand them then they are having a completely ordinary memetic effect on you.

Memetics in regards to SCP objects tends to focus on the impossible rather than the mundane, regarding effects that are transmitted via information. In general, the effects themselves should remain in the realm of information. A memetic SCP would be more likely to be a phrase that makes you think you have wings as opposed to a phrase that makes you actually grow a pair of wings. If you write up magic words that make people grow wings, it should be described as something other than memetic.

Memetic SCPs do not emanate auras or project beams. They are SCPs which involve ideas and symbols which trigger a response in those who understand them.

Memetic is often incorrectly used by new personnel as the official sounding term for “Weird Mind Shit.” However, that is not actually what memetic means. These words are memetic. They are producing a memetic effect in your mind right now, without any magical mind rays lashing out of your computer monitor to grasp your fragile consciousness. Memes are information, more specifically, cultural information.

Outside of the Foundation’s walls the concept of memetics is not taken very seriously; it is a theory that conflates the transfer of cultural information with evolutionary biology.

meme : memetic :: gene : genetic

The idea was that certain memes prosper and others wither the same way certain genes produce stronger offspring that out-compete creatures with different genes. Also, it is easy to compare the spread and mutation of information to the spread of a virus. The reason we use the term memetic in our work is largely due to this, as the truly dangerous memes out there can spread like wildfire due to the fact that the very knowledge of them can count as an infection.

Understanding the true nature of memetic threats is critical to surviving them. You cannot wear a special set of magical goggles made of telekill to protect yourself from a meme. THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING. If you just read those words in your head with a bad Teutonic accent, congratulations on being victim to yet another memetic effect. If you did not know that phrase was an oft-repeated quote from the Simpsons then congratulations; you are now infected with that knowledge and are free to participate in its spread.

A meme perpetuates itself by being beneficial to the carrier to spread to new hosts. You now understand that THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING; you’re in on the joke. However, you might have friends who aren’t, and don’t get it. It benefits you to explain them, because then you both have something new to laugh together about when it gets brought up. This is what makes a meme effective – how much incentive a carrier has to spread it. Unless an anomalous meme’s effect is the compulsive urge for the carrier to infect others, there needs to be incentive to spread it.

An artifact can no more have a memetic aura or project a memetic beam than a creature could have a genetic aura or genetic beam. Even though you could imagine a creature with genes that allow it to produce some kind of aura or beam like a big doofy X-man, remember that the examples we have of such creatures in containment are not getting their super-powered emanations from anything resembling our scientific understanding of genetics and biology. Neither are the memetic artifacts. We contain these things specifically because we cannot understand or explain them yet. At the end of the day we’re still using a clumsy concept to describe things we don’t have a full grasp of.

It is very rare that anything with a dangerous memetic component could be described as hostile to begin with. We do not contain memetic threats because they are out to get us. They are threats because it is dangerous for us to merely perceive them. It is exceptionally rare for dangerous memes to even have anything resembling sapience with the exception of certain known entities which exist entirely within the medium of “cultural information” such as SCP-, SCP-732 and SCP-423.

A dangerous meme is basically a trigger that sets off something inside of you that you may or may have not been aware of. What would your knee jerk reaction be to knowing that your rival is sleeping with your one true love? How would you react if you were to unwittingly catch them in the act? That kind of sudden revelation can make a mild mannered citizen into a killer, so don’t be surprised that there are other strange bits of information out there that can break the human mind in different yet equally drastic ways.

Protecting yourself from memetic threat is very tricky and can be worse than the threat itself. There are reasons that we behave the way we do, there are reasons our emotions soar when we hear just the right combination of sounds in a piece of music. Do you want to stop thinking about the Simpsons or your obnoxious nerdy friends that quote it every time you hear the phrase THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING? That would require forgetting about the Simpsons and your friends.

Do you want to survive hearing or reading the phrase ” ?” Well, sadly we don’t quite know what other information you need to forget or know to prevent [DATA EXPUNGED] but we’re getting better. Lobotomies and pills help, and are one of the few times that the cure is not worse than the disease. The sum total of our human condition; our cultural knowledge and upbringing and memories and identity; this is what makes us susceptible to the occasional memetic compulsion.

So it’s not the basalt monolith or its bizarre carvings that is making you strangle your companions with your own intestines, the problem was within you all along.

Should you ever find yourself under a memetic compulsion and aware of the fact, remember that there are certain mental exercises that you can perform which may save your life or the lives of your companions. Changing the information your mind is being presented with may just change how you react to it, and the more abrupt or absurd the change is the better.

Imagine the fearsome entity is wearing a bright pink nightgown. Draw a mustache on the haunted painting. Pee on the stone altar. Wear the terrible sculpture like a hat.

And if all else fails, bend over and kiss your ass goodbye. I’m not kidding. That could actually help.

– Dr. Johannes Sorts received a special dispensation to use the word “doofy” in this document

But seriously

This was originally intended as a piece of fiction on its own before it got stuck into the information bar with plenty of other plainly out-of-character writing guides. So here’s the important things to take away:

1 – “Memetics” is a specific concept regarding information exchange. It has nothing to do with telepathy or ESP or psychic compulsions.

2 – SCP-148 has no effect on anything memetic. Don’t screw this up or we will give you an incredibly hard time about it.

3 – Psychic compulsions are lame and you should think twice before using them in your new SCP, even if you avoid misusing the term “memetic” when you do it.

4 – Sorts’ Rule for all memetic SCPs is “Memetic effect + crazy to death = failure.”

5 – Wear it like a haaaaat!!

More:

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Best Search Engines To Use | MeMetics

Search engines are ubiquitous in our use of the internet, with most of us turning to them on multiple occasions each day. Whilst many people use browsers which are connected with one search engine or another, this wasnt always the case, although there are still people who remain staunch advocates of a certain brand, despite there being plenty of competition.

It is easy to take the technology behind a search engine for granted as we use them to find out whatever information we require. Basically speaking, a search engine crawls through an index of websites based on key terms and phrases supplied by site owners and webmasters. This all happens in a fraction of a second, with often hundreds of millions of responses ranked and returned to your screen.

It is impossible to talk about search engines without mentioning the industry leader. Google was founded after most of its competitors, but dominates the market, with an astonishing 69% of web searches taking place on its pages, knocking Bing into second place with 25%. On mobiles and tablets, Googles penetration goes further, with almost 90% of searches being carried out there.

When looking at ways in which to ensure that your business appears in the results returned by search engines, it is important to make certain that your web pages are optimised to work with the algorithms in place to rank results. This practice is called search engine optimisation (or SEO for short), and has come a long way since the days where sites just needed to include a page of key words and back links to satisfy the search engine site crawlers. In each sector there are experts out there who can help your site work within the laws of each search engines algorithm, so for example for healthcare seo, a site like bhm experts in healtcare seo would be a great first port of call.

With 25% of the market share, Microsofts entry into the search engine market, Bing is firmly established as the second choice search engine. Much of this traffic probably stems from the fact that Bing is the default option for searches carried out on Internet Explorer, helping it to claw back some ground on Google.

One of the biggest names in the internet in the 1990s, Yahoos results are now provided by Bing. This search engine remains popular thanks to the fact that many people have stuck to Yahoos e-mail service, which is actually the most popular e-mail provider, putting it firmly into third place when people are conducting a web search.

Formerly known as Ask Jeeves, the search engine dropped the butlers presence which formed the bulk of its widespread advertising campaigns in order to appeal to a more modern and savvy audience. The big selling point of this search engine is the community feel, but its results lack the depth of quality found on Google or Bing.

Visit link:

Best Search Engines To Use | MeMetics

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Summary, for those in a hurry:

Memetics deals with information transfer, specifically cultural information in society. The basic idea is to conflate the exchange of information between people with genetic material, to track the mutation of ideas as they are transmitted from one person to the next in the way you could track viral transmissions and mutations. However, a meme also provides benefits to the carrier if they spread it.

Meme : Memetics :: Gene : Genetics

Memetics does NOT refer to telepathy, ESP or any imaginary psychic mental magic. These words are memetic, and if you understand them then they are having a completely ordinary memetic effect on you.

Memetics in regards to SCP objects tends to focus on the impossible rather than the mundane, regarding effects that are transmitted via information. In general, the effects themselves should remain in the realm of information. A memetic SCP would be more likely to be a phrase that makes you think you have wings as opposed to a phrase that makes you actually grow a pair of wings. If you write up magic words that make people grow wings, it should be described as something other than memetic.

Memetic SCPs do not emanate auras or project beams. They are SCPs which involve ideas and symbols which trigger a response in those who understand them.

Memetic is often incorrectly used by new personnel as the official sounding term for “Weird Mind Shit.” However, that is not actually what memetic means. These words are memetic. They are producing a memetic effect in your mind right now, without any magical mind rays lashing out of your computer monitor to grasp your fragile consciousness. Memes are information, more specifically, cultural information.

Outside of the Foundation’s walls the concept of memetics is not taken very seriously; it is a theory that conflates the transfer of cultural information with evolutionary biology.

meme : memetic :: gene : genetic

The idea was that certain memes prosper and others wither the same way certain genes produce stronger offspring that out-compete creatures with different genes. Also, it is easy to compare the spread and mutation of information to the spread of a virus. The reason we use the term memetic in our work is largely due to this, as the truly dangerous memes out there can spread like wildfire due to the fact that the very knowledge of them can count as an infection.

Understanding the true nature of memetic threats is critical to surviving them. You cannot wear a special set of magical goggles made of telekill to protect yourself from a meme. THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING. If you just read those words in your head with a bad Teutonic accent, congratulations on being victim to yet another memetic effect. If you did not know that phrase was an oft-repeated quote from the Simpsons then congratulations; you are now infected with that knowledge and are free to participate in its spread.

A meme perpetuates itself by being beneficial to the carrier to spread to new hosts. You now understand that THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING; you’re in on the joke. However, you might have friends who aren’t, and don’t get it. It benefits you to explain them, because then you both have something new to laugh together about when it gets brought up. This is what makes a meme effective – how much incentive a carrier has to spread it. Unless an anomalous meme’s effect is the compulsive urge for the carrier to infect others, there needs to be incentive to spread it.

An artifact can no more have a memetic aura or project a memetic beam than a creature could have a genetic aura or genetic beam. Even though you could imagine a creature with genes that allow it to produce some kind of aura or beam like a big doofy X-man, remember that the examples we have of such creatures in containment are not getting their super-powered emanations from anything resembling our scientific understanding of genetics and biology. Neither are the memetic artifacts. We contain these things specifically because we cannot understand or explain them yet. At the end of the day we’re still using a clumsy concept to describe things we don’t have a full grasp of.

It is very rare that anything with a dangerous memetic component could be described as hostile to begin with. We do not contain memetic threats because they are out to get us. They are threats because it is dangerous for us to merely perceive them. It is exceptionally rare for dangerous memes to even have anything resembling sapience with the exception of certain known entities which exist entirely within the medium of “cultural information” such as SCP-, SCP-732 and SCP-423.

A dangerous meme is basically a trigger that sets off something inside of you that you may or may have not been aware of. What would your knee jerk reaction be to knowing that your rival is sleeping with your one true love? How would you react if you were to unwittingly catch them in the act? That kind of sudden revelation can make a mild mannered citizen into a killer, so don’t be surprised that there are other strange bits of information out there that can break the human mind in different yet equally drastic ways.

Protecting yourself from memetic threat is very tricky and can be worse than the threat itself. There are reasons that we behave the way we do, there are reasons our emotions soar when we hear just the right combination of sounds in a piece of music. Do you want to stop thinking about the Simpsons or your obnoxious nerdy friends that quote it every time you hear the phrase THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING? That would require forgetting about the Simpsons and your friends.

Do you want to survive hearing or reading the phrase ” ?” Well, sadly we don’t quite know what other information you need to forget or know to prevent [DATA EXPUNGED] but we’re getting better. Lobotomies and pills help, and are one of the few times that the cure is not worse than the disease. The sum total of our human condition; our cultural knowledge and upbringing and memories and identity; this is what makes us susceptible to the occasional memetic compulsion.

So it’s not the basalt monolith or its bizarre carvings that is making you strangle your companions with your own intestines, the problem was within you all along.

Should you ever find yourself under a memetic compulsion and aware of the fact, remember that there are certain mental exercises that you can perform which may save your life or the lives of your companions. Changing the information your mind is being presented with may just change how you react to it, and the more abrupt or absurd the change is the better.

Imagine the fearsome entity is wearing a bright pink nightgown. Draw a mustache on the haunted painting. Pee on the stone altar. Wear the terrible sculpture like a hat.

And if all else fails, bend over and kiss your ass goodbye. I’m not kidding. That could actually help.

– Dr. Johannes Sorts received a special dispensation to use the word “doofy” in this document

But seriously

This was originally intended as a piece of fiction on its own before it got stuck into the information bar with plenty of other plainly out-of-character writing guides. So here’s the important things to take away:

1 – “Memetics” is a specific concept regarding information exchange. It has nothing to do with telepathy or ESP or psychic compulsions.

2 – SCP-148 has no effect on anything memetic. Don’t screw this up or we will give you an incredibly hard time about it.

3 – Psychic compulsions are lame and you should think twice before using them in your new SCP, even if you avoid misusing the term “memetic” when you do it.

4 – Sorts’ Rule for all memetic SCPs is “Memetic effect + crazy to death = failure.”

5 – Wear it like a haaaaat!!

View original post here:

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Best Search Engines To Use | MeMetics

Search engines are ubiquitous in our use of the internet, with most of us turning to them on multiple occasions each day. Whilst many people use browsers which are connected with one search engine or another, this wasnt always the case, although there are still people who remain staunch advocates of a certain brand, despite there being plenty of competition.

It is easy to take the technology behind a search engine for granted as we use them to find out whatever information we require. Basically speaking, a search engine crawls through an index of websites based on key terms and phrases supplied by site owners and webmasters. This all happens in a fraction of a second, with often hundreds of millions of responses ranked and returned to your screen.

It is impossible to talk about search engines without mentioning the industry leader. Google was founded after most of its competitors, but dominates the market, with an astonishing 69% of web searches taking place on its pages, knocking Bing into second place with 25%. On mobiles and tablets, Googles penetration goes further, with almost 90% of searches being carried out there.

When looking at ways in which to ensure that your business appears in the results returned by search engines, it is important to make certain that your web pages are optimised to work with the algorithms in place to rank results. This practice is called search engine optimisation (or SEO for short), and has come a long way since the days where sites just needed to include a page of key words and back links to satisfy the search engine site crawlers. In each sector there are experts out there who can help your site work within the laws of each search engines algorithm, so for example for healthcare seo, a site like bhm experts in healtcare seo would be a great first port of call.

With 25% of the market share, Microsofts entry into the search engine market, Bing is firmly established as the second choice search engine. Much of this traffic probably stems from the fact that Bing is the default option for searches carried out on Internet Explorer, helping it to claw back some ground on Google.

One of the biggest names in the internet in the 1990s, Yahoos results are now provided by Bing. This search engine remains popular thanks to the fact that many people have stuck to Yahoos e-mail service, which is actually the most popular e-mail provider, putting it firmly into third place when people are conducting a web search.

Formerly known as Ask Jeeves, the search engine dropped the butlers presence which formed the bulk of its widespread advertising campaigns in order to appeal to a more modern and savvy audience. The big selling point of this search engine is the community feel, but its results lack the depth of quality found on Google or Bing.

See original here:

Best Search Engines To Use | MeMetics

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Summary, for those in a hurry:

Memetics deals with information transfer, specifically cultural information in society. The basic idea is to conflate the exchange of information between people with genetic material, to track the mutation of ideas as they are transmitted from one person to the next in the way you could track viral transmissions and mutations. However, a meme also provides benefits to the carrier if they spread it.

Meme : Memetics :: Gene : Genetics

Memetics does NOT refer to telepathy, ESP or any imaginary psychic mental magic. These words are memetic, and if you understand them then they are having a completely ordinary memetic effect on you.

Memetics in regards to SCP objects tends to focus on the impossible rather than the mundane, regarding effects that are transmitted via information. In general, the effects themselves should remain in the realm of information. A memetic SCP would be more likely to be a phrase that makes you think you have wings as opposed to a phrase that makes you actually grow a pair of wings. If you write up magic words that make people grow wings, it should be described as something other than memetic.

Memetic SCPs do not emanate auras or project beams. They are SCPs which involve ideas and symbols which trigger a response in those who understand them.

Memetic is often incorrectly used by new personnel as the official sounding term for “Weird Mind Shit.” However, that is not actually what memetic means. These words are memetic. They are producing a memetic effect in your mind right now, without any magical mind rays lashing out of your computer monitor to grasp your fragile consciousness. Memes are information, more specifically, cultural information.

Outside of the Foundation’s walls the concept of memetics is not taken very seriously; it is a theory that conflates the transfer of cultural information with evolutionary biology.

meme : memetic :: gene : genetic

The idea was that certain memes prosper and others wither the same way certain genes produce stronger offspring that out-compete creatures with different genes. Also, it is easy to compare the spread and mutation of information to the spread of a virus. The reason we use the term memetic in our work is largely due to this, as the truly dangerous memes out there can spread like wildfire due to the fact that the very knowledge of them can count as an infection.

Understanding the true nature of memetic threats is critical to surviving them. You cannot wear a special set of magical goggles made of telekill to protect yourself from a meme. THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING. If you just read those words in your head with a bad Teutonic accent, congratulations on being victim to yet another memetic effect. If you did not know that phrase was an oft-repeated quote from the Simpsons then congratulations; you are now infected with that knowledge and are free to participate in its spread.

A meme perpetuates itself by being beneficial to the carrier to spread to new hosts. You now understand that THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING; you’re in on the joke. However, you might have friends who aren’t, and don’t get it. It benefits you to explain them, because then you both have something new to laugh together about when it gets brought up. This is what makes a meme effective – how much incentive a carrier has to spread it. Unless an anomalous meme’s effect is the compulsive urge for the carrier to infect others, there needs to be incentive to spread it.

An artifact can no more have a memetic aura or project a memetic beam than a creature could have a genetic aura or genetic beam. Even though you could imagine a creature with genes that allow it to produce some kind of aura or beam like a big doofy X-man, remember that the examples we have of such creatures in containment are not getting their super-powered emanations from anything resembling our scientific understanding of genetics and biology. Neither are the memetic artifacts. We contain these things specifically because we cannot understand or explain them yet. At the end of the day we’re still using a clumsy concept to describe things we don’t have a full grasp of.

It is very rare that anything with a dangerous memetic component could be described as hostile to begin with. We do not contain memetic threats because they are out to get us. They are threats because it is dangerous for us to merely perceive them. It is exceptionally rare for dangerous memes to even have anything resembling sapience with the exception of certain known entities which exist entirely within the medium of “cultural information” such as SCP-, SCP-732 and SCP-423.

A dangerous meme is basically a trigger that sets off something inside of you that you may or may have not been aware of. What would your knee jerk reaction be to knowing that your rival is sleeping with your one true love? How would you react if you were to unwittingly catch them in the act? That kind of sudden revelation can make a mild mannered citizen into a killer, so don’t be surprised that there are other strange bits of information out there that can break the human mind in different yet equally drastic ways.

Protecting yourself from memetic threat is very tricky and can be worse than the threat itself. There are reasons that we behave the way we do, there are reasons our emotions soar when we hear just the right combination of sounds in a piece of music. Do you want to stop thinking about the Simpsons or your obnoxious nerdy friends that quote it every time you hear the phrase THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING? That would require forgetting about the Simpsons and your friends.

Do you want to survive hearing or reading the phrase ” ?” Well, sadly we don’t quite know what other information you need to forget or know to prevent [DATA EXPUNGED] but we’re getting better. Lobotomies and pills help, and are one of the few times that the cure is not worse than the disease. The sum total of our human condition; our cultural knowledge and upbringing and memories and identity; this is what makes us susceptible to the occasional memetic compulsion.

So it’s not the basalt monolith or its bizarre carvings that is making you strangle your companions with your own intestines, the problem was within you all along.

Should you ever find yourself under a memetic compulsion and aware of the fact, remember that there are certain mental exercises that you can perform which may save your life or the lives of your companions. Changing the information your mind is being presented with may just change how you react to it, and the more abrupt or absurd the change is the better.

Imagine the fearsome entity is wearing a bright pink nightgown. Draw a mustache on the haunted painting. Pee on the stone altar. Wear the terrible sculpture like a hat.

And if all else fails, bend over and kiss your ass goodbye. I’m not kidding. That could actually help.

– Dr. Johannes Sorts received a special dispensation to use the word “doofy” in this document

But seriously

This was originally intended as a piece of fiction on its own before it got stuck into the information bar with plenty of other plainly out-of-character writing guides. So here’s the important things to take away:

1 – “Memetics” is a specific concept regarding information exchange. It has nothing to do with telepathy or ESP or psychic compulsions.

2 – SCP-148 has no effect on anything memetic. Don’t screw this up or we will give you an incredibly hard time about it.

3 – Psychic compulsions are lame and you should think twice before using them in your new SCP, even if you avoid misusing the term “memetic” when you do it.

4 – Sorts’ Rule for all memetic SCPs is “Memetic effect + crazy to death = failure.”

5 – Wear it like a haaaaat!!

Continued here:

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Meme – Wikipedia

This article is about the term “meme” in general. For the usage of the term on the internet (or a fad that spreads quickly), see Internet meme. For other uses, see Meme (disambiguation).

A meme ( MEEM[1][2][3]) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a cultureoften with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme.[4] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[5]

Proponents theorize that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[6]

A field of study called memetics[7] arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that academic study can examine memes empirically. However, developments in neuroimaging may make empirical study possible.[8] Some commentators in the social sciences question the idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units, and are especially critical of the biological nature of the theory’s underpinnings.[9] Others have argued that this use of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal.[10]

The word meme is a neologism coined by Richard Dawkins.[11] It originated from Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins’s own position is somewhat ambiguous: he welcomed N. K. Humphrey’s suggestion that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically”[12] and proposed to regard memes as “physically residing in the brain”.[13] Later, he argued that his original intentions, presumably before his approval of Humphrey’s opinion, had been simpler.[14]

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek pronounced[mmma] mmma, “imitated thing”, from mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from mimos, “mime”)[15] coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[11][16] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[17] Kenneth Pike coined the related terms emic and etic, generalizing the linguistic idea of phoneme, morpheme, grapheme, lexeme, and tagmeme (as set out by Leonard Bloomfield), characterizing them as insider view and outside view of behaviour and extending the concept into a tagmemic theory of human behaviour (culminating in Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, 1954).

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins cites as inspiration the work of geneticist L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, anthropologist F. T. Cloak[18] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[19] Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmissionin the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution. Although Dawkins invented the term ‘meme’ and developed meme theory, the possibility that ideas were subject to the same pressures of evolution as were biological attributes was discussed in Darwin’s time. T. H. Huxley claimed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.'[20]

Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesized that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behavior. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.[17]

Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication, but later definitions would vary. The lack of a consistent, rigorous, and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics.[22] In contrast, the concept of genetics gained concrete evidence with the discovery of the biological functions of DNA. Meme transmission requires a physical medium, such as photons, sound waves, touch, taste, or smell because memes can be transmitted only through the senses.

Dawkins noted that in a society with culture a person need not have descendants to remain influential in the actions of individuals thousands of years after their death:

But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea…it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G.C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The meme-complexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus and Marconi are still going strong.[23]

Although Dawkins invented the term meme, he has not claimed that the idea was entirely novel,[24] and there have been other expressions for similar ideas in the past.[25] In 1904, Richard Semon published Die Mneme (which appeared in English in 1924 as The Mneme). The term mneme was also used in Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Life of the White Ant (1926), with some parallels to Dawkins’s concept.[25]

Memes, analogously to genes, vary in their aptitude to replicate; successful memes remain and spread, whereas unfit ones stall and are forgotten. Thus memes that prove more effective at replicating and surviving are selected in the meme pool.

Memes first need retention. The longer a meme stays in its hosts, the higher its chances of propagation are. When a host uses a meme, the meme’s life is extended.[26] The reuse of the neural space hosting a certain meme’s copy to host different memes is the greatest threat to that meme’s copy.[27]

A meme which increases the longevity of its hosts will generally survive longer. On the contrary, a meme which shortens the longevity of its hosts will tend to disappear faster. However, as hosts are mortal, retention is not sufficient to perpetuate a meme in the long term; memes also need transmission.

Life-forms can transmit information both vertically (from parent to child, via replication of genes) and horizontally (through viruses and other means).Memes can replicate vertically or horizontally within a single biological generation. They may also lie dormant for long periods of time.

Memes reproduce by copying from a nervous system to another one, either by communication or imitation. Imitation often involves the copying of an observed behavior of another individual. Communication may be direct or indirect, where memes transmit from one individual to another through a copy recorded in an inanimate source, such as a book or a musical score. Adam McNamara has suggested that memes can be thereby classified as either internal or external memes (i-memes or e-memes).[8]

Some commentators have likened the transmission of memes to the spread of contagions.[28] Social contagions such as fads, hysteria, copycat crime, and copycat suicide exemplify memes seen as the contagious imitation of ideas. Observers distinguish the contagious imitation of memes from instinctively contagious phenomena such as yawning and laughing, which they consider innate (rather than socially learned) behaviors.[29]

Aaron Lynch described seven general patterns of meme transmission, or “thought contagion”:[30]

Dawkins initially defined meme as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.[17] John S. Wilkins retained the notion of meme as a kernel of cultural imitation while emphasizing the meme’s evolutionary aspect, defining the meme as “the least unit of sociocultural information relative to a selection process that has favorable or unfavorable selection bias that exceeds its endogenous tendency to change”.[31] The meme as a unit provides a convenient means of discussing “a piece of thought copied from person to person”, regardless of whether that thought contains others inside it, or forms part of a larger meme. A meme could consist of a single word, or a meme could consist of the entire speech in which that word first occurred. This forms an analogy to the idea of a gene as a single unit of self-replicating information found on the self-replicating chromosome.

While the identification of memes as “units” conveys their nature to replicate as discrete, indivisible entities, it does not imply that thoughts somehow become quantized or that “atomic” ideas exist that cannot be dissected into smaller pieces. A meme has no given size. Susan Blackmore writes that melodies from Beethoven’s symphonies are commonly used to illustrate the difficulty involved in delimiting memes as discrete units. She notes that while the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (listen(helpinfo)) form a meme widely replicated as an independent unit, one can regard the entire symphony as a single meme as well.[22]

The inability to pin an idea or cultural feature to quantifiable key units is widely acknowledged as a problem for memetics. It has been argued however that the traces of memetic processing can be quantified utilizing neuroimaging techniques which measure changes in the connectivity profiles between brain regions.”[8] Blackmore meets such criticism by stating that memes compare with genes in this respect: that while a gene has no particular size, nor can we ascribe every phenotypic feature directly to a particular gene, it has value because it encapsulates that key unit of inherited expression subject to evolutionary pressures. To illustrate, she notes evolution selects for the gene for features such as eye color; it does not select for the individual nucleotide in a strand of DNA. Memes play a comparable role in understanding the evolution of imitated behaviors.[22]

The 1981 book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process by Charles J. Lumsden and E. O. Wilson proposed the theory that genes and culture co-evolve, and that the fundamental biological units of culture must correspond to neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory. They coined their own word, “culturgen”, which did not catch on. Coauthor Wilson later acknowledged the term meme as the best label for the fundamental unit of cultural inheritance in his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, which elaborates upon the fundamental role of memes in unifying the natural and social sciences.[32]

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[33]

Dawkins emphasizes that the process of evolution naturally occurs whenever these conditions co-exist, and that evolution does not apply only to organic elements such as genes. He regards memes as also having the properties necessary for evolution, and thus sees meme evolution as not simply analogous to genetic evolution, but as a real phenomenon subject to the laws of natural selection. Dawkins noted that as various ideas pass from one generation to the next, they may either enhance or detract from the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, or influence the survival of the ideas themselves. For example, a certain culture may develop unique designs and methods of tool-making that give it a competitive advantage over another culture. Each tool-design thus acts somewhat similarly to a biological gene in that some populations have it and others do not, and the meme’s function directly affects the presence of the design in future generations. In keeping with the thesis that in evolution one can regard organisms simply as suitable “hosts” for reproducing genes, Dawkins argues that one can view people as “hosts” for replicating memes. Consequently, a successful meme may or may not need to provide any benefit to its host.[33]

Unlike genetic evolution, memetic evolution can show both Darwinian and Lamarckian traits. Cultural memes will have the characteristic of Lamarckian inheritance when a host aspires to replicate the given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it. Take for example the case of the transmission of a simple skill such as hammering a nail, a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement modeled by the teacher in the demonstration, stroke for stroke.[34] Susan Blackmore distinguishes the difference between the two modes of inheritance in the evolution of memes, characterizing the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions” and the Lamarckian as “copying the product.”[22]

Clusters of memes, or memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memeplexes comprise groups of memes that replicate together and coadapt.[22] Memes that fit within a successful memeplex may gain acceptance by “piggybacking” on the success of the memeplex.As an example, John D. Gottsch discusses the transmission, mutation and selection of religious memeplexes and the theistic memes contained.[35] Theistic memes discussed include the “prohibition of aberrant sexual practices such as incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution”, which may have increased vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. Similar memes are thereby included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and harden over time; they become an “inviolable canon” or set of dogmas, eventually finding their way into secular law. This could also be referred to as the propagation of a taboo.

The discipline of memetics, which dates from the mid-1980s, provides an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept of the meme. Memeticists have proposed that just as memes function analogously to genes, memetics functions analogously to genetics. Memetics attempts to apply conventional scientific methods (such as those used in population genetics and epidemiology) to explain existing patterns and transmission of cultural ideas.

Principal criticisms of memetics include the claim that memetics ignores established advances in other fields of cultural study, such as sociology, cultural anthropology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Questions remain whether or not the meme concept counts as a validly disprovable scientific theory. This view regards memetics as a theory in its infancy: a protoscience to proponents, or a pseudoscience to some detractors.

An objection to the study of the evolution of memes in genetic terms (although not to the existence of memes) involves a perceived gap in the gene/meme analogy: the cumulative evolution of genes depends on biological selection-pressures neither too great nor too small in relation to mutation-rates. There seems no reason to think that the same balance will exist in the selection pressures on memes.[36]

Luis Benitez-Bribiesca M.D., a critic of memetics, calls the theory a “pseudoscientific dogma” and “a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution”. As a factual criticism, Benitez-Bribiesca points to the lack of a “code script” for memes (analogous to the DNA of genes), and to the excessive instability of the meme mutation mechanism (that of an idea going from one brain to another), which would lead to a low replication accuracy and a high mutation rate, rendering the evolutionary process chaotic.[37]

British political philosopher John Gray has characterized Dawkins’ memetic theory of religion as “nonsense” and “not even a theory… the latest in a succession of ill-judged Darwinian metaphors”, comparable to Intelligent Design in its value as a science.[38]

Another critique comes from semiotic theorists such as Deacon[39] and Kull.[40] This view regards the concept of “meme” as a primitivized concept of “sign”. The meme is thus described in memetics as a sign lacking a triadic nature. Semioticians can regard a meme as a “degenerate” sign, which includes only its ability of being copied. Accordingly, in the broadest sense, the objects of copying are memes, whereas the objects of translation and interpretation are signs.[clarification needed]

Fracchia and Lewontin regard memetics as reductionist and inadequate.[41] Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr disapproved of Dawkins’ gene-based view and usage of the term “meme”, asserting it to be an “unnecessary synonym” for “concept”, reasoning that concepts are not restricted to an individual or a generation, may persist for long periods of time, and may evolve.[42]

Opinions differ as to how best to apply the concept of memes within a “proper” disciplinary framework. One view sees memes as providing a useful philosophical perspective with which to examine cultural evolution. Proponents of this view (such as Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett) argue that considering cultural developments from a meme’s-eye viewas if memes themselves respond to pressure to maximise their own replication and survivalcan lead to useful insights and yield valuable predictions into how culture develops over time. Others such as Bruce Edmonds and Robert Aunger have focused on the need to provide an empirical grounding for memetics to become a useful and respected scientific discipline.[43][44]

A third approach, described by Joseph Poulshock, as “radical memetics” seeks to place memes at the centre of a materialistic theory of mind and of personal identity.[45]

Prominent researchers in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, including Scott Atran, Dan Sperber, Pascal Boyer, John Tooby and others, argue the possibility of incompatibility between modularity of mind and memetics.[citation needed] In their view, minds structure certain communicable aspects of the ideas produced, and these communicable aspects generally trigger or elicit ideas in other minds through inference (to relatively rich structures generated from often low-fidelity input) and not high-fidelity replication or imitation. Atran discusses communication involving religious beliefs as a case in point. In one set of experiments he asked religious people to write down on a piece of paper the meanings of the Ten Commandments. Despite the subjects’ own expectations of consensus, interpretations of the commandments showed wide ranges of variation, with little evidence of consensus. In another experiment, subjects with autism and subjects without autism interpreted ideological and religious sayings (for example, “Let a thousand flowers bloom” or “To everything there is a season”). People with autism showed a significant tendency to closely paraphrase and repeat content from the original statement (for example: “Don’t cut flowers before they bloom”). Controls tended to infer a wider range of cultural meanings with little replicated content (for example: “Go with the flow” or “Everyone should have equal opportunity”). Only the subjects with autismwho lack the degree of inferential capacity normally associated with aspects of theory of mindcame close to functioning as “meme machines”.[46]

In his book The Robot’s Rebellion, Stanovich uses the memes and memeplex concepts to describe a program of cognitive reform that he refers to as a “rebellion”. Specifically, Stanovich argues that the use of memes as a descriptor for cultural units is beneficial because it serves to emphasize transmission and acquisition properties that parallel the study of epidemiology. These properties make salient the sometimes parasitic nature of acquired memes, and as a result individuals should be motivated to reflectively acquire memes using what he calls a “Neurathian bootstrap” process.[47]

Although social scientists such as Max Weber sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow.

As an enthusiastic Darwinian, I have been dissatisfied with explanations that my fellow-enthusiasts have offered for human behaviour. They have tried to look for ‘biological advantages’ in various attributes of human civilization. For instance, tribal religion has been seen as a mechanism for solidifying group identity, valuable for a pack-hunting species whose individuals rely on cooperation to catch large and fast prey. Frequently the evolutionary preconception in terms of which such theories are framed is implicitly group-selectionist, but it is possible to rephrase the theories in terms of orthodox gene selection.

He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival.[17]

In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.[22]

Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that such memes incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through the meme-exchange of proselytism. Most people will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of heaven to believers and threat of hell to non-believers provide a strong incentive for members to retain their belief. Lynch asserts that belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.[30]

Although religious memes have proliferated in human cultures, the modern scientific community has been relatively resistant to religious belief. Robertson (2007) [48] reasoned that if evolution is accelerated in conditions of propagative difficulty,[49] then we would expect to encounter variations of religious memes, established in general populations, addressed to scientific communities. Using a memetic approach, Robertson deconstructed two attempts to privilege religiously held spirituality in scientific discourse. Advantages of a memetic approach as compared to more traditional “modernization” and “supply side” theses in understanding the evolution and propagation of religion were explored.

In Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology, Jack Balkin argued that memetic processes can explain many of the most familiar features of ideological thought. His theory of “cultural software” maintained that memes form narratives, social networks, metaphoric and metonymic models, and a variety of different mental structures. Balkin maintains that the same structures used to generate ideas about free speech or free markets also serve to generate racistic beliefs. To Balkin, whether memes become harmful or maladaptive depends on the environmental context in which they exist rather than in any special source or manner to their origination. Balkin describes racist beliefs as “fantasy” memes that become harmful or unjust “ideologies” when diverse peoples come together, as through trade or competition.[50]

In A Theory of Architecture, Nikos Salingaros speaks of memes as “freely propagating clusters of information” which can be beneficial or harmful. He contrasts memes to patterns and true knowledge, characterizing memes as “greatly simplified versions of patterns” and as “unreasoned matching to some visual or mnemonic prototype”.[51] Taking reference to Dawkins, Salingaros emphasizes that they can be transmitted due to their own communicative properties, that “the simpler they are, the faster they can proliferate”, and that the most successful memes “come with a great psychological appeal”.[52]

Architectural memes, according to Salingaros, can have destructive power. “Images portrayed in architectural magazines representing buildings that could not possibly accommodate everyday uses become fixed in our memory, so we reproduce them unconsciously.”[53] He lists various architectural memes that circulated since the 1920s and which, in his view, have led to contemporary architecture becoming quite decoupled from human needs. They lack connection and meaning, thereby preventing “the creation of true connections necessary to our understanding of the world”. He sees them as no different from antipatterns in software designas solutions that are false but are re-utilized nonetheless.[54]

An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based E-mailing, blogs, forums, imageboards like 4chan, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, instant messaging, social news sites like Reddit, and video hosting services like YouTube and Twitch.[55]

In 2013, Richard Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as one deliberately altered by human creativity, distinguished from Dawkins’s original idea involving mutation by random change and a form of Darwinian selection.[56]

One technique of meme mapping represents the evolution and transmission of a meme across time and space.[57] Such a meme map uses a figure-8 diagram (an analemma) to map the gestation (in the lower loop), birth (at the choke point), and development (in the upper loop) of the selected meme. Such meme maps are nonscalar, with time mapped onto the y-axis and space onto the x-axis transect. One can read the temporal progression of the mapped meme from south to north on such a meme map. Paull has published a worked example using the “organics meme” (as in organic agriculture).[57]

See the article here:

Meme – Wikipedia

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Summary, for those in a hurry:

Memetics deals with information transfer, specifically cultural information in society. The basic idea is to conflate the exchange of information between people with genetic material, to track the mutation of ideas as they are transmitted from one person to the next in the way you could track viral transmissions and mutations. However, a meme also provides benefits to the carrier if they spread it.

Meme : Memetics :: Gene : Genetics

Memetics does NOT refer to telepathy, ESP or any imaginary psychic mental magic. These words are memetic, and if you understand them then they are having a completely ordinary memetic effect on you.

Memetics in regards to SCP objects tends to focus on the impossible rather than the mundane, regarding effects that are transmitted via information. In general, the effects themselves should remain in the realm of information. A memetic SCP would be more likely to be a phrase that makes you think you have wings as opposed to a phrase that makes you actually grow a pair of wings. If you write up magic words that make people grow wings, it should be described as something other than memetic.

Memetic SCPs do not emanate auras or project beams. They are SCPs which involve ideas and symbols which trigger a response in those who understand them.

Memetic is often incorrectly used by new personnel as the official sounding term for “Weird Mind Shit.” However, that is not actually what memetic means. These words are memetic. They are producing a memetic effect in your mind right now, without any magical mind rays lashing out of your computer monitor to grasp your fragile consciousness. Memes are information, more specifically, cultural information.

Outside of the Foundation’s walls the concept of memetics is not taken very seriously; it is a theory that conflates the transfer of cultural information with evolutionary biology.

meme : memetic :: gene : genetic

The idea was that certain memes prosper and others wither the same way certain genes produce stronger offspring that out-compete creatures with different genes. Also, it is easy to compare the spread and mutation of information to the spread of a virus. The reason we use the term memetic in our work is largely due to this, as the truly dangerous memes out there can spread like wildfire due to the fact that the very knowledge of them can count as an infection.

Understanding the true nature of memetic threats is critical to surviving them. You cannot wear a special set of magical goggles made of telekill to protect yourself from a meme. THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING. If you just read those words in your head with a bad Teutonic accent, congratulations on being victim to yet another memetic effect. If you did not know that phrase was an oft-repeated quote from the Simpsons then congratulations; you are now infected with that knowledge and are free to participate in its spread.

A meme perpetuates itself by being beneficial to the carrier to spread to new hosts. You now understand that THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING; you’re in on the joke. However, you might have friends who aren’t, and don’t get it. It benefits you to explain them, because then you both have something new to laugh together about when it gets brought up. This is what makes a meme effective – how much incentive a carrier has to spread it. Unless an anomalous meme’s effect is the compulsive urge for the carrier to infect others, there needs to be incentive to spread it.

An artifact can no more have a memetic aura or project a memetic beam than a creature could have a genetic aura or genetic beam. Even though you could imagine a creature with genes that allow it to produce some kind of aura or beam like a big doofy X-man, remember that the examples we have of such creatures in containment are not getting their super-powered emanations from anything resembling our scientific understanding of genetics and biology. Neither are the memetic artifacts. We contain these things specifically because we cannot understand or explain them yet. At the end of the day we’re still using a clumsy concept to describe things we don’t have a full grasp of.

It is very rare that anything with a dangerous memetic component could be described as hostile to begin with. We do not contain memetic threats because they are out to get us. They are threats because it is dangerous for us to merely perceive them. It is exceptionally rare for dangerous memes to even have anything resembling sapience with the exception of certain known entities which exist entirely within the medium of “cultural information” such as SCP-, SCP-732 and SCP-423.

A dangerous meme is basically a trigger that sets off something inside of you that you may or may have not been aware of. What would your knee jerk reaction be to knowing that your rival is sleeping with your one true love? How would you react if you were to unwittingly catch them in the act? That kind of sudden revelation can make a mild mannered citizen into a killer, so don’t be surprised that there are other strange bits of information out there that can break the human mind in different yet equally drastic ways.

Protecting yourself from memetic threat is very tricky and can be worse than the threat itself. There are reasons that we behave the way we do, there are reasons our emotions soar when we hear just the right combination of sounds in a piece of music. Do you want to stop thinking about the Simpsons or your obnoxious nerdy friends that quote it every time you hear the phrase THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING? That would require forgetting about the Simpsons and your friends.

Do you want to survive hearing or reading the phrase ” ?” Well, sadly we don’t quite know what other information you need to forget or know to prevent [DATA EXPUNGED] but we’re getting better. Lobotomies and pills help, and are one of the few times that the cure is not worse than the disease. The sum total of our human condition; our cultural knowledge and upbringing and memories and identity; this is what makes us susceptible to the occasional memetic compulsion.

So it’s not the basalt monolith or its bizarre carvings that is making you strangle your companions with your own intestines, the problem was within you all along.

Should you ever find yourself under a memetic compulsion and aware of the fact, remember that there are certain mental exercises that you can perform which may save your life or the lives of your companions. Changing the information your mind is being presented with may just change how you react to it, and the more abrupt or absurd the change is the better.

Imagine the fearsome entity is wearing a bright pink nightgown. Draw a mustache on the haunted painting. Pee on the stone altar. Wear the terrible sculpture like a hat.

And if all else fails, bend over and kiss your ass goodbye. I’m not kidding. That could actually help.

– Dr. Johannes Sorts received a special dispensation to use the word “doofy” in this document

But seriously

This was originally intended as a piece of fiction on its own before it got stuck into the information bar with plenty of other plainly out-of-character writing guides. So here’s the important things to take away:

1 – “Memetics” is a specific concept regarding information exchange. It has nothing to do with telepathy or ESP or psychic compulsions.

2 – SCP-148 has no effect on anything memetic. Don’t screw this up or we will give you an incredibly hard time about it.

3 – Psychic compulsions are lame and you should think twice before using them in your new SCP, even if you avoid misusing the term “memetic” when you do it.

4 – Sorts’ Rule for all memetic SCPs is “Memetic effect + crazy to death = failure.”

5 – Wear it like a haaaaat!!

See the article here:

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Meme – Wikipedia

This article is about the term “meme” in general. For the usage of the term on the internet (or a fad that spreads quickly), see Internet meme. For other uses, see Meme (disambiguation).

A meme ( MEEM[1][2][3]) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a cultureoften with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme.[4] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[5]

Proponents theorize that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[6]

A field of study called memetics[7] arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that academic study can examine memes empirically. However, developments in neuroimaging may make empirical study possible.[8] Some commentators in the social sciences question the idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units, and are especially critical of the biological nature of the theory’s underpinnings.[9] Others have argued that this use of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal.[10]

The word meme is a neologism coined by Richard Dawkins.[11] It originated from Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins’s own position is somewhat ambiguous: he welcomed N. K. Humphrey’s suggestion that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically”[12] and proposed to regard memes as “physically residing in the brain”.[13] Later, he argued that his original intentions, presumably before his approval of Humphrey’s opinion, had been simpler.[14]

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek pronounced[mmma] mmma, “imitated thing”, from mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from mimos, “mime”)[15] coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[11][16] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[17] Kenneth Pike coined the related terms emic and etic, generalizing the linguistic idea of phoneme, morpheme, grapheme, lexeme, and tagmeme (as set out by Leonard Bloomfield), characterizing them as insider view and outside view of behaviour and extending the concept into a tagmemic theory of human behaviour (culminating in Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, 1954).

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins cites as inspiration the work of geneticist L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, anthropologist F. T. Cloak[18] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[19] Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmissionin the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution. Although Dawkins invented the term ‘meme’ and developed meme theory, the possibility that ideas were subject to the same pressures of evolution as were biological attributes was discussed in Darwin’s time. T. H. Huxley claimed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.'[20]

Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesized that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behavior. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.[17]

Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication, but later definitions would vary. The lack of a consistent, rigorous, and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics.[22] In contrast, the concept of genetics gained concrete evidence with the discovery of the biological functions of DNA. Meme transmission requires a physical medium, such as photons, sound waves, touch, taste, or smell because memes can be transmitted only through the senses.

Dawkins noted that in a society with culture a person need not have descendants to remain influential in the actions of individuals thousands of years after their death:

But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea…it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G.C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The meme-complexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus and Marconi are still going strong.[23]

Although Dawkins invented the term meme, he has not claimed that the idea was entirely novel,[24] and there have been other expressions for similar ideas in the past.[25] In 1904, Richard Semon published Die Mneme (which appeared in English in 1924 as The Mneme). The term mneme was also used in Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Life of the White Ant (1926), with some parallels to Dawkins’s concept.[25]

Memes, analogously to genes, vary in their aptitude to replicate; successful memes remain and spread, whereas unfit ones stall and are forgotten. Thus memes that prove more effective at replicating and surviving are selected in the meme pool.

Memes first need retention. The longer a meme stays in its hosts, the higher its chances of propagation are. When a host uses a meme, the meme’s life is extended.[26] The reuse of the neural space hosting a certain meme’s copy to host different memes is the greatest threat to that meme’s copy.[27]

A meme which increases the longevity of its hosts will generally survive longer. On the contrary, a meme which shortens the longevity of its hosts will tend to disappear faster. However, as hosts are mortal, retention is not sufficient to perpetuate a meme in the long term; memes also need transmission.

Life-forms can transmit information both vertically (from parent to child, via replication of genes) and horizontally (through viruses and other means).Memes can replicate vertically or horizontally within a single biological generation. They may also lie dormant for long periods of time.

Memes reproduce by copying from a nervous system to another one, either by communication or imitation. Imitation often involves the copying of an observed behavior of another individual. Communication may be direct or indirect, where memes transmit from one individual to another through a copy recorded in an inanimate source, such as a book or a musical score. Adam McNamara has suggested that memes can be thereby classified as either internal or external memes (i-memes or e-memes).[8]

Some commentators have likened the transmission of memes to the spread of contagions.[28] Social contagions such as fads, hysteria, copycat crime, and copycat suicide exemplify memes seen as the contagious imitation of ideas. Observers distinguish the contagious imitation of memes from instinctively contagious phenomena such as yawning and laughing, which they consider innate (rather than socially learned) behaviors.[29]

Aaron Lynch described seven general patterns of meme transmission, or “thought contagion”:[30]

Dawkins initially defined meme as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.[17] John S. Wilkins retained the notion of meme as a kernel of cultural imitation while emphasizing the meme’s evolutionary aspect, defining the meme as “the least unit of sociocultural information relative to a selection process that has favorable or unfavorable selection bias that exceeds its endogenous tendency to change”.[31] The meme as a unit provides a convenient means of discussing “a piece of thought copied from person to person”, regardless of whether that thought contains others inside it, or forms part of a larger meme. A meme could consist of a single word, or a meme could consist of the entire speech in which that word first occurred. This forms an analogy to the idea of a gene as a single unit of self-replicating information found on the self-replicating chromosome.

While the identification of memes as “units” conveys their nature to replicate as discrete, indivisible entities, it does not imply that thoughts somehow become quantized or that “atomic” ideas exist that cannot be dissected into smaller pieces. A meme has no given size. Susan Blackmore writes that melodies from Beethoven’s symphonies are commonly used to illustrate the difficulty involved in delimiting memes as discrete units. She notes that while the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (listen(helpinfo)) form a meme widely replicated as an independent unit, one can regard the entire symphony as a single meme as well.[22]

The inability to pin an idea or cultural feature to quantifiable key units is widely acknowledged as a problem for memetics. It has been argued however that the traces of memetic processing can be quantified utilizing neuroimaging techniques which measure changes in the connectivity profiles between brain regions.”[8] Blackmore meets such criticism by stating that memes compare with genes in this respect: that while a gene has no particular size, nor can we ascribe every phenotypic feature directly to a particular gene, it has value because it encapsulates that key unit of inherited expression subject to evolutionary pressures. To illustrate, she notes evolution selects for the gene for features such as eye color; it does not select for the individual nucleotide in a strand of DNA. Memes play a comparable role in understanding the evolution of imitated behaviors.[22]

The 1981 book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process by Charles J. Lumsden and E. O. Wilson proposed the theory that genes and culture co-evolve, and that the fundamental biological units of culture must correspond to neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory. They coined their own word, “culturgen”, which did not catch on. Coauthor Wilson later acknowledged the term meme as the best label for the fundamental unit of cultural inheritance in his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, which elaborates upon the fundamental role of memes in unifying the natural and social sciences.[32]

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[33]

Dawkins emphasizes that the process of evolution naturally occurs whenever these conditions co-exist, and that evolution does not apply only to organic elements such as genes. He regards memes as also having the properties necessary for evolution, and thus sees meme evolution as not simply analogous to genetic evolution, but as a real phenomenon subject to the laws of natural selection. Dawkins noted that as various ideas pass from one generation to the next, they may either enhance or detract from the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, or influence the survival of the ideas themselves. For example, a certain culture may develop unique designs and methods of tool-making that give it a competitive advantage over another culture. Each tool-design thus acts somewhat similarly to a biological gene in that some populations have it and others do not, and the meme’s function directly affects the presence of the design in future generations. In keeping with the thesis that in evolution one can regard organisms simply as suitable “hosts” for reproducing genes, Dawkins argues that one can view people as “hosts” for replicating memes. Consequently, a successful meme may or may not need to provide any benefit to its host.[33]

Unlike genetic evolution, memetic evolution can show both Darwinian and Lamarckian traits. Cultural memes will have the characteristic of Lamarckian inheritance when a host aspires to replicate the given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it. Take for example the case of the transmission of a simple skill such as hammering a nail, a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement modeled by the teacher in the demonstration, stroke for stroke.[34] Susan Blackmore distinguishes the difference between the two modes of inheritance in the evolution of memes, characterizing the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions” and the Lamarckian as “copying the product.”[22]

Clusters of memes, or memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memeplexes comprise groups of memes that replicate together and coadapt.[22] Memes that fit within a successful memeplex may gain acceptance by “piggybacking” on the success of the memeplex.As an example, John D. Gottsch discusses the transmission, mutation and selection of religious memeplexes and the theistic memes contained.[35] Theistic memes discussed include the “prohibition of aberrant sexual practices such as incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution”, which may have increased vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. Similar memes are thereby included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and harden over time; they become an “inviolable canon” or set of dogmas, eventually finding their way into secular law. This could also be referred to as the propagation of a taboo.

The discipline of memetics, which dates from the mid-1980s, provides an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept of the meme. Memeticists have proposed that just as memes function analogously to genes, memetics functions analogously to genetics. Memetics attempts to apply conventional scientific methods (such as those used in population genetics and epidemiology) to explain existing patterns and transmission of cultural ideas.

Principal criticisms of memetics include the claim that memetics ignores established advances in other fields of cultural study, such as sociology, cultural anthropology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Questions remain whether or not the meme concept counts as a validly disprovable scientific theory. This view regards memetics as a theory in its infancy: a protoscience to proponents, or a pseudoscience to some detractors.

An objection to the study of the evolution of memes in genetic terms (although not to the existence of memes) involves a perceived gap in the gene/meme analogy: the cumulative evolution of genes depends on biological selection-pressures neither too great nor too small in relation to mutation-rates. There seems no reason to think that the same balance will exist in the selection pressures on memes.[36]

Luis Benitez-Bribiesca M.D., a critic of memetics, calls the theory a “pseudoscientific dogma” and “a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution”. As a factual criticism, Benitez-Bribiesca points to the lack of a “code script” for memes (analogous to the DNA of genes), and to the excessive instability of the meme mutation mechanism (that of an idea going from one brain to another), which would lead to a low replication accuracy and a high mutation rate, rendering the evolutionary process chaotic.[37]

British political philosopher John Gray has characterized Dawkins’ memetic theory of religion as “nonsense” and “not even a theory… the latest in a succession of ill-judged Darwinian metaphors”, comparable to Intelligent Design in its value as a science.[38]

Another critique comes from semiotic theorists such as Deacon[39] and Kull.[40] This view regards the concept of “meme” as a primitivized concept of “sign”. The meme is thus described in memetics as a sign lacking a triadic nature. Semioticians can regard a meme as a “degenerate” sign, which includes only its ability of being copied. Accordingly, in the broadest sense, the objects of copying are memes, whereas the objects of translation and interpretation are signs.[clarification needed]

Fracchia and Lewontin regard memetics as reductionist and inadequate.[41] Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr disapproved of Dawkins’ gene-based view and usage of the term “meme”, asserting it to be an “unnecessary synonym” for “concept”, reasoning that concepts are not restricted to an individual or a generation, may persist for long periods of time, and may evolve.[42]

Opinions differ as to how best to apply the concept of memes within a “proper” disciplinary framework. One view sees memes as providing a useful philosophical perspective with which to examine cultural evolution. Proponents of this view (such as Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett) argue that considering cultural developments from a meme’s-eye viewas if memes themselves respond to pressure to maximise their own replication and survivalcan lead to useful insights and yield valuable predictions into how culture develops over time. Others such as Bruce Edmonds and Robert Aunger have focused on the need to provide an empirical grounding for memetics to become a useful and respected scientific discipline.[43][44]

A third approach, described by Joseph Poulshock, as “radical memetics” seeks to place memes at the centre of a materialistic theory of mind and of personal identity.[45]

Prominent researchers in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, including Scott Atran, Dan Sperber, Pascal Boyer, John Tooby and others, argue the possibility of incompatibility between modularity of mind and memetics.[citation needed] In their view, minds structure certain communicable aspects of the ideas produced, and these communicable aspects generally trigger or elicit ideas in other minds through inference (to relatively rich structures generated from often low-fidelity input) and not high-fidelity replication or imitation. Atran discusses communication involving religious beliefs as a case in point. In one set of experiments he asked religious people to write down on a piece of paper the meanings of the Ten Commandments. Despite the subjects’ own expectations of consensus, interpretations of the commandments showed wide ranges of variation, with little evidence of consensus. In another experiment, subjects with autism and subjects without autism interpreted ideological and religious sayings (for example, “Let a thousand flowers bloom” or “To everything there is a season”). People with autism showed a significant tendency to closely paraphrase and repeat content from the original statement (for example: “Don’t cut flowers before they bloom”). Controls tended to infer a wider range of cultural meanings with little replicated content (for example: “Go with the flow” or “Everyone should have equal opportunity”). Only the subjects with autismwho lack the degree of inferential capacity normally associated with aspects of theory of mindcame close to functioning as “meme machines”.[46]

In his book The Robot’s Rebellion, Stanovich uses the memes and memeplex concepts to describe a program of cognitive reform that he refers to as a “rebellion”. Specifically, Stanovich argues that the use of memes as a descriptor for cultural units is beneficial because it serves to emphasize transmission and acquisition properties that parallel the study of epidemiology. These properties make salient the sometimes parasitic nature of acquired memes, and as a result individuals should be motivated to reflectively acquire memes using what he calls a “Neurathian bootstrap” process.[47]

Although social scientists such as Max Weber sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow.

As an enthusiastic Darwinian, I have been dissatisfied with explanations that my fellow-enthusiasts have offered for human behaviour. They have tried to look for ‘biological advantages’ in various attributes of human civilization. For instance, tribal religion has been seen as a mechanism for solidifying group identity, valuable for a pack-hunting species whose individuals rely on cooperation to catch large and fast prey. Frequently the evolutionary preconception in terms of which such theories are framed is implicitly group-selectionist, but it is possible to rephrase the theories in terms of orthodox gene selection.

He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival.[17]

In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.[22]

Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that such memes incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through the meme-exchange of proselytism. Most people will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of heaven to believers and threat of hell to non-believers provide a strong incentive for members to retain their belief. Lynch asserts that belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.[30]

Although religious memes have proliferated in human cultures, the modern scientific community has been relatively resistant to religious belief. Robertson (2007) [48] reasoned that if evolution is accelerated in conditions of propagative difficulty,[49] then we would expect to encounter variations of religious memes, established in general populations, addressed to scientific communities. Using a memetic approach, Robertson deconstructed two attempts to privilege religiously held spirituality in scientific discourse. Advantages of a memetic approach as compared to more traditional “modernization” and “supply side” theses in understanding the evolution and propagation of religion were explored.

In Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology, Jack Balkin argued that memetic processes can explain many of the most familiar features of ideological thought. His theory of “cultural software” maintained that memes form narratives, social networks, metaphoric and metonymic models, and a variety of different mental structures. Balkin maintains that the same structures used to generate ideas about free speech or free markets also serve to generate racistic beliefs. To Balkin, whether memes become harmful or maladaptive depends on the environmental context in which they exist rather than in any special source or manner to their origination. Balkin describes racist beliefs as “fantasy” memes that become harmful or unjust “ideologies” when diverse peoples come together, as through trade or competition.[50]

In A Theory of Architecture, Nikos Salingaros speaks of memes as “freely propagating clusters of information” which can be beneficial or harmful. He contrasts memes to patterns and true knowledge, characterizing memes as “greatly simplified versions of patterns” and as “unreasoned matching to some visual or mnemonic prototype”.[51] Taking reference to Dawkins, Salingaros emphasizes that they can be transmitted due to their own communicative properties, that “the simpler they are, the faster they can proliferate”, and that the most successful memes “come with a great psychological appeal”.[52]

Architectural memes, according to Salingaros, can have destructive power. “Images portrayed in architectural magazines representing buildings that could not possibly accommodate everyday uses become fixed in our memory, so we reproduce them unconsciously.”[53] He lists various architectural memes that circulated since the 1920s and which, in his view, have led to contemporary architecture becoming quite decoupled from human needs. They lack connection and meaning, thereby preventing “the creation of true connections necessary to our understanding of the world”. He sees them as no different from antipatterns in software designas solutions that are false but are re-utilized nonetheless.[54]

An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based E-mailing, blogs, forums, imageboards like 4chan, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, instant messaging, social news sites like Reddit, and video hosting services like YouTube and Twitch.[55]

In 2013, Richard Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as one deliberately altered by human creativity, distinguished from Dawkins’s original idea involving mutation by random change and a form of Darwinian selection.[56]

One technique of meme mapping represents the evolution and transmission of a meme across time and space.[57] Such a meme map uses a figure-8 diagram (an analemma) to map the gestation (in the lower loop), birth (at the choke point), and development (in the upper loop) of the selected meme. Such meme maps are nonscalar, with time mapped onto the y-axis and space onto the x-axis transect. One can read the temporal progression of the mapped meme from south to north on such a meme map. Paull has published a worked example using the “organics meme” (as in organic agriculture).[57]

See the original post:

Meme – Wikipedia

Meme – Wikipedia

This article is about the term “meme” in general. For the usage of the term on the internet (or a fad that spreads quickly), see Internet meme. For other uses, see Meme (disambiguation).

A meme ( MEEM[1][2][3]) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a cultureoften with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme.[4] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[5]

Proponents theorize that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[6]

A field of study called memetics[7] arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that academic study can examine memes empirically. However, developments in neuroimaging may make empirical study possible.[8] Some commentators in the social sciences question the idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units, and are especially critical of the biological nature of the theory’s underpinnings.[9] Others have argued that this use of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal.[10]

The word meme is a neologism coined by Richard Dawkins.[11] It originated from Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins’s own position is somewhat ambiguous: he welcomed N. K. Humphrey’s suggestion that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically”[12] and proposed to regard memes as “physically residing in the brain”.[13] Later, he argued that his original intentions, presumably before his approval of Humphrey’s opinion, had been simpler.[14]

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek pronounced[mmma] mmma, “imitated thing”, from mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from mimos, “mime”)[15] coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[11][16] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[17] Kenneth Pike coined the related terms emic and etic, generalizing the linguistic idea of phoneme, morpheme, grapheme, lexeme, and tagmeme (as set out by Leonard Bloomfield), characterizing them as insider view and outside view of behaviour and extending the concept into a tagmemic theory of human behaviour (culminating in Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, 1954).

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins cites as inspiration the work of geneticist L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, anthropologist F. T. Cloak[18] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[19] Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmissionin the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution. Although Dawkins invented the term ‘meme’ and developed meme theory, the possibility that ideas were subject to the same pressures of evolution as were biological attributes was discussed in Darwin’s time. T. H. Huxley claimed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.'[20]

Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesized that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behavior. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.[17]

Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication, but later definitions would vary. The lack of a consistent, rigorous, and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics.[22] In contrast, the concept of genetics gained concrete evidence with the discovery of the biological functions of DNA. Meme transmission requires a physical medium, such as photons, sound waves, touch, taste, or smell because memes can be transmitted only through the senses.

Dawkins noted that in a society with culture a person need not have descendants to remain influential in the actions of individuals thousands of years after their death:

But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea…it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G.C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The meme-complexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus and Marconi are still going strong.[23]

Although Dawkins invented the term meme, he has not claimed that the idea was entirely novel,[24] and there have been other expressions for similar ideas in the past.[25] In 1904, Richard Semon published Die Mneme (which appeared in English in 1924 as The Mneme). The term mneme was also used in Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Life of the White Ant (1926), with some parallels to Dawkins’s concept.[25]

Memes, analogously to genes, vary in their aptitude to replicate; successful memes remain and spread, whereas unfit ones stall and are forgotten. Thus memes that prove more effective at replicating and surviving are selected in the meme pool.

Memes first need retention. The longer a meme stays in its hosts, the higher its chances of propagation are. When a host uses a meme, the meme’s life is extended.[26] The reuse of the neural space hosting a certain meme’s copy to host different memes is the greatest threat to that meme’s copy.[27]

A meme which increases the longevity of its hosts will generally survive longer. On the contrary, a meme which shortens the longevity of its hosts will tend to disappear faster. However, as hosts are mortal, retention is not sufficient to perpetuate a meme in the long term; memes also need transmission.

Life-forms can transmit information both vertically (from parent to child, via replication of genes) and horizontally (through viruses and other means). Memes can replicate vertically or horizontally within a single biological generation. They may also lie dormant for long periods of time.

Memes reproduce by copying from a nervous system to another one, either by communication or imitation. Imitation often involves the copying of an observed behavior of another individual. Communication may be direct or indirect, where memes transmit from one individual to another through a copy recorded in an inanimate source, such as a book or a musical score. Adam McNamara has suggested that memes can be thereby classified as either internal or external memes (i-memes or e-memes).[8]

Some commentators have likened the transmission of memes to the spread of contagions.[28] Social contagions such as fads, hysteria, copycat crime, and copycat suicide exemplify memes seen as the contagious imitation of ideas. Observers distinguish the contagious imitation of memes from instinctively contagious phenomena such as yawning and laughing, which they consider innate (rather than socially learned) behaviors.[29]

Aaron Lynch described seven general patterns of meme transmission, or “thought contagion”:[30]

Dawkins initially defined meme as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.[17] John S. Wilkins retained the notion of meme as a kernel of cultural imitation while emphasizing the meme’s evolutionary aspect, defining the meme as “the least unit of sociocultural information relative to a selection process that has favorable or unfavorable selection bias that exceeds its endogenous tendency to change”.[31] The meme as a unit provides a convenient means of discussing “a piece of thought copied from person to person”, regardless of whether that thought contains others inside it, or forms part of a larger meme. A meme could consist of a single word, or a meme could consist of the entire speech in which that word first occurred. This forms an analogy to the idea of a gene as a single unit of self-replicating information found on the self-replicating chromosome.

While the identification of memes as “units” conveys their nature to replicate as discrete, indivisible entities, it does not imply that thoughts somehow become quantized or that “atomic” ideas exist that cannot be dissected into smaller pieces. A meme has no given size. Susan Blackmore writes that melodies from Beethoven’s symphonies are commonly used to illustrate the difficulty involved in delimiting memes as discrete units. She notes that while the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (listen(helpinfo)) form a meme widely replicated as an independent unit, one can regard the entire symphony as a single meme as well.[22]

The inability to pin an idea or cultural feature to quantifiable key units is widely acknowledged as a problem for memetics. It has been argued however that the traces of memetic processing can be quantified utilizing neuroimaging techniques which measure changes in the connectivity profiles between brain regions.”[8] Blackmore meets such criticism by stating that memes compare with genes in this respect: that while a gene has no particular size, nor can we ascribe every phenotypic feature directly to a particular gene, it has value because it encapsulates that key unit of inherited expression subject to evolutionary pressures. To illustrate, she notes evolution selects for the gene for features such as eye color; it does not select for the individual nucleotide in a strand of DNA. Memes play a comparable role in understanding the evolution of imitated behaviors.[22]

The 1981 book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process by Charles J. Lumsden and E. O. Wilson proposed the theory that genes and culture co-evolve, and that the fundamental biological units of culture must correspond to neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory. They coined their own word, “culturgen”, which did not catch on. Coauthor Wilson later acknowledged the term meme as the best label for the fundamental unit of cultural inheritance in his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, which elaborates upon the fundamental role of memes in unifying the natural and social sciences.[32]

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[33]

Dawkins emphasizes that the process of evolution naturally occurs whenever these conditions co-exist, and that evolution does not apply only to organic elements such as genes. He regards memes as also having the properties necessary for evolution, and thus sees meme evolution as not simply analogous to genetic evolution, but as a real phenomenon subject to the laws of natural selection. Dawkins noted that as various ideas pass from one generation to the next, they may either enhance or detract from the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, or influence the survival of the ideas themselves. For example, a certain culture may develop unique designs and methods of tool-making that give it a competitive advantage over another culture. Each tool-design thus acts somewhat similarly to a biological gene in that some populations have it and others do not, and the meme’s function directly affects the presence of the design in future generations. In keeping with the thesis that in evolution one can regard organisms simply as suitable “hosts” for reproducing genes, Dawkins argues that one can view people as “hosts” for replicating memes. Consequently, a successful meme may or may not need to provide any benefit to its host.[33]

Unlike genetic evolution, memetic evolution can show both Darwinian and Lamarckian traits. Cultural memes will have the characteristic of Lamarckian inheritance when a host aspires to replicate the given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it. Take for example the case of the transmission of a simple skill such as hammering a nail, a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement modeled by the teacher in the demonstration, stroke for stroke.[34] Susan Blackmore distinguishes the difference between the two modes of inheritance in the evolution of memes, characterizing the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions” and the Lamarckian as “copying the product.”[22]

Clusters of memes, or memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memeplexes comprise groups of memes that replicate together and coadapt.[22] Memes that fit within a successful memeplex may gain acceptance by “piggybacking” on the success of the memeplex. As an example, John D. Gottsch discusses the transmission, mutation and selection of religious memeplexes and the theistic memes contained.[35] Theistic memes discussed include the “prohibition of aberrant sexual practices such as incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution”, which may have increased vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. Similar memes are thereby included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and harden over time; they become an “inviolable canon” or set of dogmas, eventually finding their way into secular law. This could also be referred to as the propagation of a taboo.

The discipline of memetics, which dates from the mid-1980s, provides an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept of the meme. Memeticists have proposed that just as memes function analogously to genes, memetics functions analogously to genetics. Memetics attempts to apply conventional scientific methods (such as those used in population genetics and epidemiology) to explain existing patterns and transmission of cultural ideas.

Principal criticisms of memetics include the claim that memetics ignores established advances in other fields of cultural study, such as sociology, cultural anthropology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Questions remain whether or not the meme concept counts as a validly disprovable scientific theory. This view regards memetics as a theory in its infancy: a protoscience to proponents, or a pseudoscience to some detractors.

An objection to the study of the evolution of memes in genetic terms (although not to the existence of memes) involves a perceived gap in the gene/meme analogy: the cumulative evolution of genes depends on biological selection-pressures neither too great nor too small in relation to mutation-rates. There seems no reason to think that the same balance will exist in the selection pressures on memes.[36]

Luis Benitez-Bribiesca M.D., a critic of memetics, calls the theory a “pseudoscientific dogma” and “a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution”. As a factual criticism, Benitez-Bribiesca points to the lack of a “code script” for memes (analogous to the DNA of genes), and to the excessive instability of the meme mutation mechanism (that of an idea going from one brain to another), which would lead to a low replication accuracy and a high mutation rate, rendering the evolutionary process chaotic.[37]

British political philosopher John Gray has characterized Dawkins’ memetic theory of religion as “nonsense” and “not even a theory… the latest in a succession of ill-judged Darwinian metaphors”, comparable to Intelligent Design in its value as a science.[38]

Another critique comes from semiotic theorists such as Deacon[39] and Kull.[40] This view regards the concept of “meme” as a primitivized concept of “sign”. The meme is thus described in memetics as a sign lacking a triadic nature. Semioticians can regard a meme as a “degenerate” sign, which includes only its ability of being copied. Accordingly, in the broadest sense, the objects of copying are memes, whereas the objects of translation and interpretation are signs.[clarification needed]

Fracchia and Lewontin regard memetics as reductionist and inadequate.[41] Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr disapproved of Dawkins’ gene-based view and usage of the term “meme”, asserting it to be an “unnecessary synonym” for “concept”, reasoning that concepts are not restricted to an individual or a generation, may persist for long periods of time, and may evolve.[42]

Opinions differ as to how best to apply the concept of memes within a “proper” disciplinary framework. One view sees memes as providing a useful philosophical perspective with which to examine cultural evolution. Proponents of this view (such as Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett) argue that considering cultural developments from a meme’s-eye viewas if memes themselves respond to pressure to maximise their own replication and survivalcan lead to useful insights and yield valuable predictions into how culture develops over time. Others such as Bruce Edmonds and Robert Aunger have focused on the need to provide an empirical grounding for memetics to become a useful and respected scientific discipline.[43][44]

A third approach, described by Joseph Poulshock, as “radical memetics” seeks to place memes at the centre of a materialistic theory of mind and of personal identity.[45]

Prominent researchers in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, including Scott Atran, Dan Sperber, Pascal Boyer, John Tooby and others, argue the possibility of incompatibility between modularity of mind and memetics.[citation needed] In their view, minds structure certain communicable aspects of the ideas produced, and these communicable aspects generally trigger or elicit ideas in other minds through inference (to relatively rich structures generated from often low-fidelity input) and not high-fidelity replication or imitation. Atran discusses communication involving religious beliefs as a case in point. In one set of experiments he asked religious people to write down on a piece of paper the meanings of the Ten Commandments. Despite the subjects’ own expectations of consensus, interpretations of the commandments showed wide ranges of variation, with little evidence of consensus. In another experiment, subjects with autism and subjects without autism interpreted ideological and religious sayings (for example, “Let a thousand flowers bloom” or “To everything there is a season”). People with autism showed a significant tendency to closely paraphrase and repeat content from the original statement (for example: “Don’t cut flowers before they bloom”). Controls tended to infer a wider range of cultural meanings with little replicated content (for example: “Go with the flow” or “Everyone should have equal opportunity”). Only the subjects with autismwho lack the degree of inferential capacity normally associated with aspects of theory of mindcame close to functioning as “meme machines”.[46]

In his book The Robot’s Rebellion, Stanovich uses the memes and memeplex concepts to describe a program of cognitive reform that he refers to as a “rebellion”. Specifically, Stanovich argues that the use of memes as a descriptor for cultural units is beneficial because it serves to emphasize transmission and acquisition properties that parallel the study of epidemiology. These properties make salient the sometimes parasitic nature of acquired memes, and as a result individuals should be motivated to reflectively acquire memes using what he calls a “Neurathian bootstrap” process.[47]

Although social scientists such as Max Weber sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow.

As an enthusiastic Darwinian, I have been dissatisfied with explanations that my fellow-enthusiasts have offered for human behaviour. They have tried to look for ‘biological advantages’ in various attributes of human civilization. For instance, tribal religion has been seen as a mechanism for solidifying group identity, valuable for a pack-hunting species whose individuals rely on cooperation to catch large and fast prey. Frequently the evolutionary preconception in terms of which such theories are framed is implicitly group-selectionist, but it is possible to rephrase the theories in terms of orthodox gene selection.

He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival.[17]

In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.[22]

Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that such memes incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through the meme-exchange of proselytism. Most people will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of heaven to believers and threat of hell to non-believers provide a strong incentive for members to retain their belief. Lynch asserts that belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.[30]

Although religious memes have proliferated in human cultures, the modern scientific community has been relatively resistant to religious belief. Robertson (2007) [48] reasoned that if evolution is accelerated in conditions of propagative difficulty,[49] then we would expect to encounter variations of religious memes, established in general populations, addressed to scientific communities. Using a memetic approach, Robertson deconstructed two attempts to privilege religiously held spirituality in scientific discourse. Advantages of a memetic approach as compared to more traditional “modernization” and “supply side” theses in understanding the evolution and propagation of religion were explored.

In Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology, Jack Balkin argued that memetic processes can explain many of the most familiar features of ideological thought. His theory of “cultural software” maintained that memes form narratives, social networks, metaphoric and metonymic models, and a variety of different mental structures. Balkin maintains that the same structures used to generate ideas about free speech or free markets also serve to generate racistic beliefs. To Balkin, whether memes become harmful or maladaptive depends on the environmental context in which they exist rather than in any special source or manner to their origination. Balkin describes racist beliefs as “fantasy” memes that become harmful or unjust “ideologies” when diverse peoples come together, as through trade or competition.[50]

In A Theory of Architecture, Nikos Salingaros speaks of memes as “freely propagating clusters of information” which can be beneficial or harmful. He contrasts memes to patterns and true knowledge, characterizing memes as “greatly simplified versions of patterns” and as “unreasoned matching to some visual or mnemonic prototype”.[51] Taking reference to Dawkins, Salingaros emphasizes that they can be transmitted due to their own communicative properties, that “the simpler they are, the faster they can proliferate”, and that the most successful memes “come with a great psychological appeal”.[52]

Architectural memes, according to Salingaros, can have destructive power. “Images portrayed in architectural magazines representing buildings that could not possibly accommodate everyday uses become fixed in our memory, so we reproduce them unconsciously.”[53] He lists various architectural memes that circulated since the 1920s and which, in his view, have led to contemporary architecture becoming quite decoupled from human needs. They lack connection and meaning, thereby preventing “the creation of true connections necessary to our understanding of the world”. He sees them as no different from antipatterns in software designas solutions that are false but are re-utilized nonetheless.[54]

An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based E-mailing, blogs, forums, imageboards like 4chan, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, instant messaging, social news sites like Reddit, and video hosting services like YouTube and Twitch.[55]

In 2013, Richard Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as one deliberately altered by human creativity, distinguished from Dawkins’s original idea involving mutation by random change and a form of Darwinian selection.[56]

One technique of meme mapping represents the evolution and transmission of a meme across time and space.[57] Such a meme map uses a figure-8 diagram (an analemma) to map the gestation (in the lower loop), birth (at the choke point), and development (in the upper loop) of the selected meme. Such meme maps are nonscalar, with time mapped onto the y-axis and space onto the x-axis transect. One can read the temporal progression of the mapped meme from south to north on such a meme map. Paull has published a worked example using the “organics meme” (as in organic agriculture).[57]

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Meme – Wikipedia

Memetics and Infohazards Division Orientation – SCP Foundation

Alright everybody, welcome to the orientation for the memetics and infohazards division. Now this is a full week of training, and a long day so be sure to get some coffee or a donut, because we won’t have time to go get food until lunch.

I’m Junior Researcher Zack Ekshun, and, I, ah, yes? A question like ‘How am I perceiving this message from that very handsome man saying other words?’ or ‘Whose voice does this sound like in my head?’ But those are not the most important questions right now.Question?

Why aren’t I having any coffee or donuts? Heh, looks like we have at least one veteran of the reality benders orientation. Well to put your mind at ease, why don’t you get me some coffee and a donut or two. Usually I take it black, but add some milk and sugar just to cover all the bases. Hey sprinkles! Nice.

Now, you’re right to be suspicious. You get lied to a lot at the Foundation. Little things like ‘We only put tracking chips in D-class’, ‘This will be the first time you receive amnestics’ and the location of the site you’re currently sitting in.

Some of you. But today, I’m going to be completely honest with you.

Which gets us to the important part, you don’t have to worry about us secretly feeding you drugs. We will be very openly feeding you lots of powerful hallucinogens.

The reason we’re not bothering to hide it is because, like most infohazards, our psychedelic testing regimen works whether or not you know about it ahead of time. The reason we’re making you trip balls is that we need to make sure you can handle your shit regardless of what your brain thinks is going on.

It doesn’t matter if the walls are melting and cats with your grandmothers’ face are telling you the secret history of the world. You write your reports, conduct tests and follow the containment procedures. You document everything the grandma cats tell you and ride it out until you punch out. Most of the time. What’s in your head can’t hurt you unless you let it.

To work with infohazards you need to notice when things don’t make sense, and this is the important part, respond accordingly. Do you suddenly have a spouse you didn’t this morning? Well, maybe you shouldn’t consummate that relationship. Were you always taking advice from the omnidimensional blood gods you’re thinking about building a shrine to? Maybe instead you should talk to your supervisor, because we sure don’t need another prophet to Welcome.

Hey! That got everybody’s attention. Yeah, part of what you’ll learn is how not to say things. Did you know that Hi% of redacted information is memetic censoring? It’s written there as clear as day, if you have the clearance and counterprogramming. Want to know how it’s done?

Well first Welcome to the real orientation. If you can perceive this then you’ll be working with us in the real Memetics and Infohazards Division. It should come as no surprise to you that there are many layers to our Division. Everyone else nodding out right now are just the cover. They will be playing an important role in misdirection and counterintelligence as well as handling all the busywork. Misdirection is basic info manipulation. Everyone worried about drugs or their suppository tracking devices misses the important stuff.You get to do the real work, and it takes more than just a week to get you to that level. This week will provide the basics the others get, with the real preparatory seminars transmitted through a variety of unconventional channels. The testing has already begun to see who can pick up all of it. The full spectrum of information all around us is invisible to the sleepwalkers drooling next to you.You all carry some form of the Sorry gene which is present in .NO% of the population, which the Foundation screens for. While you can perceive this you also have an increased risk for schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder. But don’t worry! If you’ve made it this far you have a much higher likelihood of being driven mad by your work material than your genetic makeup. The number of informational channels you can perceive determines your rank and assignments.The other good news is your training and conditioning will minimize the likelihood of either occurring. We have discovered through trial and error how to protect our minds against very dangerous hazards. The many division members who retired to psychiatric wards are a testament to that. You will learn to lucid dream, which is where much of your practice will take place. You will undergo intensive psychological testing to make sure you do not join our alumni. You will practice meditation until you achieve the level of Zen master and float above your superfluous programming completely. You will be taught the akashic scripts and meta-languages which bypass the frontal cortex and tap directly into the primal drives. If you make it to the upper echelons you’ll learn manipulation commands like kill words, after a few minor surgeries to your trachea. We will let you know when you are ready. The pioneers who discovered the safe procedures for containing lethal infohazards in your mind never got a chance to retire. But even if you can detect individual phomemes you are still a green as grass rookie.Not only will you be able to work with cognitohazard and memetic SCPs you will help to develop the neurocognitive counter-programming and anti-memes that will shield you, your colleagues, and society from the gibbering madness lurking in containment. You will make the Foundation, safer, saner, productive, and unquestioning in their commitment. You will bend the archetypes from our collective unconscious to your will to secure, contain, and protect us all. Welcome again, and congratulations. [REDACTED]

Alllright everybody back? Yup, for those of you not keeping track that was almost an hour you aren’t going to remember until you earn it. Exactly none of you have the training or clearance to know any of that. Yet.

We’re going to teach you to walk through fire, feel like your brain is melting out of your ears and still keep going. We will put your minds in the forge and hammer at them until they are stronger than steel. Mind affecting and weird psychic SCPs will slide off you, and information based containment breaches will be just another day at the office.

Deeper Ad Infinitum-The repetitive nature of complimenting your attention to detail and knowledge of the myriad means of hiding information is becoming redundant. You will still receive instruction, but and undetected up until now. Clever you.clearly you have already been conducting your own training regimen.

Well played.

You’ve earned a little more candor. The genetic explanation for who can expand their senses to perceive the hidden full spectrum of information is untrue as far as we can ascertain. We do not know why some people are attuned to and can reshape the deeper orders of information. We do not yet understand the mechanisms of the majority of SCPs. Hence anomalousThe reality benders should not be able to do anything they do, and they still do it, even when we tell them not to. Except the ones who do as they are told..

We have many layers to protect both the Foundation and ourselves. There is no good that can come from the suggestion that the collective minds of our division is an SCP in and of itself. This has been suggested, but has been Auto-amnestic conditioning is much more efficient than the pharmacological option.dealt with. We have a presence at the top tier with Division founder O5-NO. We also have several site directors with varying degrees of awareness they are ours.

We are telling you this so that you know you are valued and will be protected. We are telling you this so you will STOP what you are planning. Right. Now.

We know you have been planning how to get fast tracked for promotion to a director position. Planning to use the information based SCPs in ways the sleepwalkers can’t conceive. Planning to program select people’s neural schemas to satisfy your whims. You need to forget all of that. NOW.

This is the one thing you should NEVER question.Trust us. By yourself you will inevitably endanger yourself, the Foundation, and our Division. We have done it all better than you could ever hope to. We will teach you how to correctly maximize your potential. We need fellow travelers, not megalomaniacal lone wolves. We Won’tcan’t program you not to, Right now. It is much better for all involved that you join willingly. so we are asking nicely. Please, kindly do NOT fuck with us.

We’ll be in touch.

How well you can handle your shit is an important component of training, and there will be pharmacological hallucinatory tutorials just for you. Have fun in the desert with the lizard king.Because it is chock full of drugsIt’s also pretty funny watching you rooks spaz out..

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Memetics and Infohazards Division Orientation – SCP Foundation

Philosophy of Religion Religion and Memetics

Evolutionary theory has revolutionised modern thought. The way that we understand the world has been profoundly influenced by Darwins insight into the way that natural selection guides progress over time. Recently, it has been recognised that Darwins theory applies not only to biological organisms but also to ideas. Some, such as Richard Dawkins, Susan Blackmore, and Daniel Dennett, have argued that this provides an explanation of religious belief, and that this explanation counts against the idea that such beliefs are true.

Darwins theory of evolution sought to explain the diversity of species in the world in the following way:

The world contains only a limited supply of the resources necessary to support life. Organisms must therefore compete with each other for these resources in order to survive.

As biological organisms reproduce, random genetic mutations occur, introducing variety into the species. Because of these mutations, some members of the species are better able to compete for resources, i.e. fitter, than others.

The result of this natural selection is the survival of the fittest. As the competition is won or lost, weaker members of the species will die out, without reproducing, and their genes will be lost to the gene pool. Stronger members, on the other hand will survive, and their fitter genes will be replicated.

The process will then repeat, with mutations again introducing new genetic variety, and natural selection again choosing the fittest members of the species to survive and reproduce.

There are thus two stages to evolution: mutation, which introduces variety into a species, and natural selection, which chooses between the members of the species, driving progress by ensuring that only the fittest members survive and reproduce.

With each iteration of the process of natural selection, the gene pool becomes stronger; species develop on an upward trajectory. Given enough time, evolution theory holds, this upward trajectory can take a species far; indeed, we ourselves are thought to have evolved from single-celled organisms via this process.

Recently, it has been recognised that this theory can be applied not only to biological organisms, but also to ideas. Ideas, too, replicate themselves, passing from one individual to another, changing over time. Ideas, too, compete for survival in the minds of the people of the time; an idea that is rejected altogether dies out.

Just as the fittest organisms will survive and reproduce, then, so too will the fittest ideas. Ideas that replicate themselves in this way have been called memes, a term coined by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene; the study of this process is called memetics.

What makes for fitness in ideas will be similar to what makes for fitness in genes. The ability to replicate itself is important if either a gene or an idea is to spread; the greater this ability the better. The ability to survive is also vital if the gene or idea is not to be wiped out before it reproduces.

One thing that need not be involved in the fitness of an idea is truth. An idea may replicate itself widely and be extremely robust without corresponding to reality.

Christianity does indeed possess those features that are necessary for an idea to compete for survival effectively.

Christianity is very good at replicating itself; the great commission, Jesus instruction to his followers, is to go and make disciples of all nations. Those who possess the Christian meme, who believe in the God of the Bible, therefore replicate Christianity as far as they are able to do so.

Christianity is also very robust. The all too common emphasis of religion on faith to the exclusion of reason makes those that possess the Christian meme liable to reject evidence against it. Christianity has even been accused by Antony Flew in his paper Theology and Falsification of being unfalsifiable, i.e. of being such that no evidence could possibly count against it. Those that possess the Christian meme are therefore unlikely to lose it.

None of this memetic critique of Christianity, of course, proves that Christianity is false; that is not what it attempts to do. Rather, what the memetic critique of Christianity attempts to do is demonstrate that even if Christianity were false, we would expect belief in it to be widespread. Atheism, the argument goes, can explain Christianity; there is nothing mysterious about the success of religion.

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Philosophy of Religion Religion and Memetics

Meme – Wikipedia

This article is about the term “meme” in general. For the usage of the term on the internet (or a fad that spreads quickly), see Internet meme. For other uses, see Meme (disambiguation).

A meme ( MEEM[1][2][3]) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a cultureoften with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme.[4] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[5]

Proponents theorize that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[6]

A field of study called memetics[7] arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that academic study can examine memes empirically. However, developments in neuroimaging may make empirical study possible.[8] Some commentators in the social sciences question the idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units, and are especially critical of the biological nature of the theory’s underpinnings.[9] Others have argued that this use of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal.[10]

The word meme is a neologism coined by Richard Dawkins.[11] It originated from Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins’s own position is somewhat ambiguous: he welcomed N. K. Humphrey’s suggestion that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically”[12] and proposed to regard memes as “physically residing in the brain”.[13] Later, he argued that his original intentions, presumably before his approval of Humphrey’s opinion, had been simpler.[14]

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek pronounced[mmma] mmma, “imitated thing”, from mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from mimos, “mime”)[15] coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[11][16] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[17] Kenneth Pike coined the related terms emic and etic, generalizing the linguistic idea of phoneme, morpheme, grapheme, lexeme, and tagmeme (as set out by Leonard Bloomfield), characterizing them as insider view and outside view of behaviour and extending the concept into a tagmemic theory of human behaviour (culminating in Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, 1954).

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins cites as inspiration the work of geneticist L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, anthropologist F. T. Cloak[18] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[19] Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmissionin the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution. Although Dawkins invented the term ‘meme’ and developed meme theory, the possibility that ideas were subject to the same pressures of evolution as were biological attributes was discussed in Darwin’s time. T. H. Huxley claimed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.'[20]

Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesized that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behavior. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.[17]

Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication, but later definitions would vary. The lack of a consistent, rigorous, and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics.[22] In contrast, the concept of genetics gained concrete evidence with the discovery of the biological functions of DNA. Meme transmission requires a physical medium, such as photons, sound waves, touch, taste, or smell because memes can be transmitted only through the senses.

Dawkins noted that in a society with culture a person need not have descendants to remain influential in the actions of individuals thousands of years after their death:

But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea…it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G.C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The meme-complexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus and Marconi are still going strong.[23]

Although Dawkins invented the term meme, he has not claimed that the idea was entirely novel,[24] and there have been other expressions for similar ideas in the past.[25] In 1904, Richard Semon published Die Mneme (which appeared in English in 1924 as The Mneme). The term mneme was also used in Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Life of the White Ant (1926), with some parallels to Dawkins’s concept.[25]

Memes, analogously to genes, vary in their aptitude to replicate; successful memes remain and spread, whereas unfit ones stall and are forgotten. Thus memes that prove more effective at replicating and surviving are selected in the meme pool.

Memes first need retention. The longer a meme stays in its hosts, the higher its chances of propagation are. When a host uses a meme, the meme’s life is extended.[26] The reuse of the neural space hosting a certain meme’s copy to host different memes is the greatest threat to that meme’s copy.[27]

A meme which increases the longevity of its hosts will generally survive longer. On the contrary, a meme which shortens the longevity of its hosts will tend to disappear faster. However, as hosts are mortal, retention is not sufficient to perpetuate a meme in the long term; memes also need transmission.

Life-forms can transmit information both vertically (from parent to child, via replication of genes) and horizontally (through viruses and other means). Memes can replicate vertically or horizontally within a single biological generation. They may also lie dormant for long periods of time.

Memes reproduce by copying from a nervous system to another one, either by communication or imitation. Imitation often involves the copying of an observed behavior of another individual. Communication may be direct or indirect, where memes transmit from one individual to another through a copy recorded in an inanimate source, such as a book or a musical score. Adam McNamara has suggested that memes can be thereby classified as either internal or external memes (i-memes or e-memes).[8]

Some commentators have likened the transmission of memes to the spread of contagions.[28] Social contagions such as fads, hysteria, copycat crime, and copycat suicide exemplify memes seen as the contagious imitation of ideas. Observers distinguish the contagious imitation of memes from instinctively contagious phenomena such as yawning and laughing, which they consider innate (rather than socially learned) behaviors.[29]

Aaron Lynch described seven general patterns of meme transmission, or “thought contagion”:[30]

Dawkins initially defined meme as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.[17] John S. Wilkins retained the notion of meme as a kernel of cultural imitation while emphasizing the meme’s evolutionary aspect, defining the meme as “the least unit of sociocultural information relative to a selection process that has favorable or unfavorable selection bias that exceeds its endogenous tendency to change”.[31] The meme as a unit provides a convenient means of discussing “a piece of thought copied from person to person”, regardless of whether that thought contains others inside it, or forms part of a larger meme. A meme could consist of a single word, or a meme could consist of the entire speech in which that word first occurred. This forms an analogy to the idea of a gene as a single unit of self-replicating information found on the self-replicating chromosome.

While the identification of memes as “units” conveys their nature to replicate as discrete, indivisible entities, it does not imply that thoughts somehow become quantized or that “atomic” ideas exist that cannot be dissected into smaller pieces. A meme has no given size. Susan Blackmore writes that melodies from Beethoven’s symphonies are commonly used to illustrate the difficulty involved in delimiting memes as discrete units. She notes that while the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (listen(helpinfo)) form a meme widely replicated as an independent unit, one can regard the entire symphony as a single meme as well.[22]

The inability to pin an idea or cultural feature to quantifiable key units is widely acknowledged as a problem for memetics. It has been argued however that the traces of memetic processing can be quantified utilizing neuroimaging techniques which measure changes in the connectivity profiles between brain regions.”[8] Blackmore meets such criticism by stating that memes compare with genes in this respect: that while a gene has no particular size, nor can we ascribe every phenotypic feature directly to a particular gene, it has value because it encapsulates that key unit of inherited expression subject to evolutionary pressures. To illustrate, she notes evolution selects for the gene for features such as eye color; it does not select for the individual nucleotide in a strand of DNA. Memes play a comparable role in understanding the evolution of imitated behaviors.[22]

The 1981 book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process by Charles J. Lumsden and E. O. Wilson proposed the theory that genes and culture co-evolve, and that the fundamental biological units of culture must correspond to neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory. They coined their own word, “culturgen”, which did not catch on. Coauthor Wilson later acknowledged the term meme as the best label for the fundamental unit of cultural inheritance in his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, which elaborates upon the fundamental role of memes in unifying the natural and social sciences.[32]

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[33]

Dawkins emphasizes that the process of evolution naturally occurs whenever these conditions co-exist, and that evolution does not apply only to organic elements such as genes. He regards memes as also having the properties necessary for evolution, and thus sees meme evolution as not simply analogous to genetic evolution, but as a real phenomenon subject to the laws of natural selection. Dawkins noted that as various ideas pass from one generation to the next, they may either enhance or detract from the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, or influence the survival of the ideas themselves. For example, a certain culture may develop unique designs and methods of tool-making that give it a competitive advantage over another culture. Each tool-design thus acts somewhat similarly to a biological gene in that some populations have it and others do not, and the meme’s function directly affects the presence of the design in future generations. In keeping with the thesis that in evolution one can regard organisms simply as suitable “hosts” for reproducing genes, Dawkins argues that one can view people as “hosts” for replicating memes. Consequently, a successful meme may or may not need to provide any benefit to its host.[33]

Unlike genetic evolution, memetic evolution can show both Darwinian and Lamarckian traits. Cultural memes will have the characteristic of Lamarckian inheritance when a host aspires to replicate the given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it. Take for example the case of the transmission of a simple skill such as hammering a nail, a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement modeled by the teacher in the demonstration, stroke for stroke.[34] Susan Blackmore distinguishes the difference between the two modes of inheritance in the evolution of memes, characterizing the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions” and the Lamarckian as “copying the product.”[22]

Clusters of memes, or memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memeplexes comprise groups of memes that replicate together and coadapt.[22] Memes that fit within a successful memeplex may gain acceptance by “piggybacking” on the success of the memeplex. As an example, John D. Gottsch discusses the transmission, mutation and selection of religious memeplexes and the theistic memes contained.[35] Theistic memes discussed include the “prohibition of aberrant sexual practices such as incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution”, which may have increased vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. Similar memes are thereby included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and harden over time; they become an “inviolable canon” or set of dogmas, eventually finding their way into secular law. This could also be referred to as the propagation of a taboo.

The discipline of memetics, which dates from the mid-1980s, provides an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept of the meme. Memeticists have proposed that just as memes function analogously to genes, memetics functions analogously to genetics. Memetics attempts to apply conventional scientific methods (such as those used in population genetics and epidemiology) to explain existing patterns and transmission of cultural ideas.

Principal criticisms of memetics include the claim that memetics ignores established advances in other fields of cultural study, such as sociology, cultural anthropology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Questions remain whether or not the meme concept counts as a validly disprovable scientific theory. This view regards memetics as a theory in its infancy: a protoscience to proponents, or a pseudoscience to some detractors.

An objection to the study of the evolution of memes in genetic terms (although not to the existence of memes) involves a perceived gap in the gene/meme analogy: the cumulative evolution of genes depends on biological selection-pressures neither too great nor too small in relation to mutation-rates. There seems no reason to think that the same balance will exist in the selection pressures on memes.[36]

Luis Benitez-Bribiesca M.D., a critic of memetics, calls the theory a “pseudoscientific dogma” and “a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution”. As a factual criticism, Benitez-Bribiesca points to the lack of a “code script” for memes (analogous to the DNA of genes), and to the excessive instability of the meme mutation mechanism (that of an idea going from one brain to another), which would lead to a low replication accuracy and a high mutation rate, rendering the evolutionary process chaotic.[37]

British political philosopher John Gray has characterized Dawkins’ memetic theory of religion as “nonsense” and “not even a theory… the latest in a succession of ill-judged Darwinian metaphors”, comparable to Intelligent Design in its value as a science.[38]

Another critique comes from semiotic theorists such as Deacon[39] and Kull.[40] This view regards the concept of “meme” as a primitivized concept of “sign”. The meme is thus described in memetics as a sign lacking a triadic nature. Semioticians can regard a meme as a “degenerate” sign, which includes only its ability of being copied. Accordingly, in the broadest sense, the objects of copying are memes, whereas the objects of translation and interpretation are signs.[clarification needed]

Fracchia and Lewontin regard memetics as reductionist and inadequate.[41] Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr disapproved of Dawkins’ gene-based view and usage of the term “meme”, asserting it to be an “unnecessary synonym” for “concept”, reasoning that concepts are not restricted to an individual or a generation, may persist for long periods of time, and may evolve.[42]

Opinions differ as to how best to apply the concept of memes within a “proper” disciplinary framework. One view sees memes as providing a useful philosophical perspective with which to examine cultural evolution. Proponents of this view (such as Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett) argue that considering cultural developments from a meme’s-eye viewas if memes themselves respond to pressure to maximise their own replication and survivalcan lead to useful insights and yield valuable predictions into how culture develops over time. Others such as Bruce Edmonds and Robert Aunger have focused on the need to provide an empirical grounding for memetics to become a useful and respected scientific discipline.[43][44]

A third approach, described by Joseph Poulshock, as “radical memetics” seeks to place memes at the centre of a materialistic theory of mind and of personal identity.[45]

Prominent researchers in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, including Scott Atran, Dan Sperber, Pascal Boyer, John Tooby and others, argue the possibility of incompatibility between modularity of mind and memetics.[citation needed] In their view, minds structure certain communicable aspects of the ideas produced, and these communicable aspects generally trigger or elicit ideas in other minds through inference (to relatively rich structures generated from often low-fidelity input) and not high-fidelity replication or imitation. Atran discusses communication involving religious beliefs as a case in point. In one set of experiments he asked religious people to write down on a piece of paper the meanings of the Ten Commandments. Despite the subjects’ own expectations of consensus, interpretations of the commandments showed wide ranges of variation, with little evidence of consensus. In another experiment, subjects with autism and subjects without autism interpreted ideological and religious sayings (for example, “Let a thousand flowers bloom” or “To everything there is a season”). People with autism showed a significant tendency to closely paraphrase and repeat content from the original statement (for example: “Don’t cut flowers before they bloom”). Controls tended to infer a wider range of cultural meanings with little replicated content (for example: “Go with the flow” or “Everyone should have equal opportunity”). Only the subjects with autismwho lack the degree of inferential capacity normally associated with aspects of theory of mindcame close to functioning as “meme machines”.[46]

In his book The Robot’s Rebellion, Stanovich uses the memes and memeplex concepts to describe a program of cognitive reform that he refers to as a “rebellion”. Specifically, Stanovich argues that the use of memes as a descriptor for cultural units is beneficial because it serves to emphasize transmission and acquisition properties that parallel the study of epidemiology. These properties make salient the sometimes parasitic nature of acquired memes, and as a result individuals should be motivated to reflectively acquire memes using what he calls a “Neurathian bootstrap” process.[47]

Although social scientists such as Max Weber sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow.

As an enthusiastic Darwinian, I have been dissatisfied with explanations that my fellow-enthusiasts have offered for human behaviour. They have tried to look for ‘biological advantages’ in various attributes of human civilization. For instance, tribal religion has been seen as a mechanism for solidifying group identity, valuable for a pack-hunting species whose individuals rely on cooperation to catch large and fast prey. Frequently the evolutionary preconception in terms of which such theories are framed is implicitly group-selectionist, but it is possible to rephrase the theories in terms of orthodox gene selection.

He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival.[17]

In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.[22]

Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that such memes incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through the meme-exchange of proselytism. Most people will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of heaven to believers and threat of hell to non-believers provide a strong incentive for members to retain their belief. Lynch asserts that belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.[30]

Although religious memes have proliferated in human cultures, the modern scientific community has been relatively resistant to religious belief. Robertson (2007) [48] reasoned that if evolution is accelerated in conditions of propagative difficulty,[49] then we would expect to encounter variations of religious memes, established in general populations, addressed to scientific communities. Using a memetic approach, Robertson deconstructed two attempts to privilege religiously held spirituality in scientific discourse. Advantages of a memetic approach as compared to more traditional “modernization” and “supply side” theses in understanding the evolution and propagation of religion were explored.

In Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology, Jack Balkin argued that memetic processes can explain many of the most familiar features of ideological thought. His theory of “cultural software” maintained that memes form narratives, social networks, metaphoric and metonymic models, and a variety of different mental structures. Balkin maintains that the same structures used to generate ideas about free speech or free markets also serve to generate racistic beliefs. To Balkin, whether memes become harmful or maladaptive depends on the environmental context in which they exist rather than in any special source or manner to their origination. Balkin describes racist beliefs as “fantasy” memes that become harmful or unjust “ideologies” when diverse peoples come together, as through trade or competition.[50]

In A Theory of Architecture, Nikos Salingaros speaks of memes as “freely propagating clusters of information” which can be beneficial or harmful. He contrasts memes to patterns and true knowledge, characterizing memes as “greatly simplified versions of patterns” and as “unreasoned matching to some visual or mnemonic prototype”.[51] Taking reference to Dawkins, Salingaros emphasizes that they can be transmitted due to their own communicative properties, that “the simpler they are, the faster they can proliferate”, and that the most successful memes “come with a great psychological appeal”.[52]

Architectural memes, according to Salingaros, can have destructive power. “Images portrayed in architectural magazines representing buildings that could not possibly accommodate everyday uses become fixed in our memory, so we reproduce them unconsciously.”[53] He lists various architectural memes that circulated since the 1920s and which, in his view, have led to contemporary architecture becoming quite decoupled from human needs. They lack connection and meaning, thereby preventing “the creation of true connections necessary to our understanding of the world”. He sees them as no different from antipatterns in software designas solutions that are false but are re-utilized nonetheless.[54]

An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based E-mailing, blogs, forums, imageboards like 4chan, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, instant messaging, social news sites like Reddit, and video hosting services like YouTube and Twitch.[55]

In 2013, Richard Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as one deliberately altered by human creativity, distinguished from Dawkins’s original idea involving mutation by random change and a form of Darwinian selection.[56]

One technique of meme mapping represents the evolution and transmission of a meme across time and space.[57] Such a meme map uses a figure-8 diagram (an analemma) to map the gestation (in the lower loop), birth (at the choke point), and development (in the upper loop) of the selected meme. Such meme maps are nonscalar, with time mapped onto the y-axis and space onto the x-axis transect. One can read the temporal progression of the mapped meme from south to north on such a meme map. Paull has published a worked example using the “organics meme” (as in organic agriculture).[57]

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Meme – Wikipedia

Memetics and Infohazards Division Orientation – SCP Foundation

Alright everybody, welcome to the orientation for the memetics and infohazards division. Now this is a full week of training, and a long day so be sure to get some coffee or a donut, because we won’t have time to go get food until lunch.

I’m Junior Researcher Zack Ekshun, and, I, ah, yes? A question like ‘How am I perceiving this message from that very handsome man saying other words?’ or ‘Whose voice does this sound like in my head?’ But those are not the most important questions right now.Question?

Why aren’t I having any coffee or donuts? Heh, looks like we have at least one veteran of the reality benders orientation. Well to put your mind at ease, why don’t you get me some coffee and a donut or two. Usually I take it black, but add some milk and sugar just to cover all the bases. Hey sprinkles! Nice.

Now, you’re right to be suspicious. You get lied to a lot at the Foundation. Little things like ‘We only put tracking chips in D-class’, ‘This will be the first time you receive amnestics’ and the location of the site you’re currently sitting in.

Some of you. But today, I’m going to be completely honest with you.

Which gets us to the important part, you don’t have to worry about us secretly feeding you drugs. We will be very openly feeding you lots of powerful hallucinogens.

The reason we’re not bothering to hide it is because, like most infohazards, our psychedelic testing regimen works whether or not you know about it ahead of time. The reason we’re making you trip balls is that we need to make sure you can handle your shit regardless of what your brain thinks is going on.

It doesn’t matter if the walls are melting and cats with your grandmothers’ face are telling you the secret history of the world. You write your reports, conduct tests and follow the containment procedures. You document everything the grandma cats tell you and ride it out until you punch out. Most of the time. What’s in your head can’t hurt you unless you let it.

To work with infohazards you need to notice when things don’t make sense, and this is the important part, respond accordingly. Do you suddenly have a spouse you didn’t this morning? Well, maybe you shouldn’t consummate that relationship. Were you always taking advice from the omnidimensional blood gods you’re thinking about building a shrine to? Maybe instead you should talk to your supervisor, because we sure don’t need another prophet to Welcome.

Hey! That got everybody’s attention. Yeah, part of what you’ll learn is how not to say things. Did you know that Hi% of redacted information is memetic censoring? It’s written there as clear as day, if you have the clearance and counterprogramming. Want to know how it’s done?

Well first Welcome to the real orientation. If you can perceive this then you’ll be working with us in the real Memetics and Infohazards Division. It should come as no surprise to you that there are many layers to our Division. Everyone else nodding out right now are just the cover. They will be playing an important role in misdirection and counterintelligence as well as handling all the busywork. Misdirection is basic info manipulation. Everyone worried about drugs or their suppository tracking devices misses the important stuff.You get to do the real work, and it takes more than just a week to get you to that level. This week will provide the basics the others get, with the real preparatory seminars transmitted through a variety of unconventional channels. The testing has already begun to see who can pick up all of it. The full spectrum of information all around us is invisible to the sleepwalkers drooling next to you.You all carry some form of the Sorry gene which is present in .NO% of the population, which the Foundation screens for. While you can perceive this you also have an increased risk for schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder. But don’t worry! If you’ve made it this far you have a much higher likelihood of being driven mad by your work material than your genetic makeup. The number of informational channels you can perceive determines your rank and assignments.The other good news is your training and conditioning will minimize the likelihood of either occurring. We have discovered through trial and error how to protect our minds against very dangerous hazards. The many division members who retired to psychiatric wards are a testament to that. You will learn to lucid dream, which is where much of your practice will take place. You will undergo intensive psychological testing to make sure you do not join our alumni. You will practice meditation until you achieve the level of Zen master and float above your superfluous programming completely. You will be taught the akashic scripts and meta-languages which bypass the frontal cortex and tap directly into the primal drives. If you make it to the upper echelons you’ll learn manipulation commands like kill words, after a few minor surgeries to your trachea. We will let you know when you are ready. The pioneers who discovered the safe procedures for containing lethal infohazards in your mind never got a chance to retire. But even if you can detect individual phomemes you are still a green as grass rookie.Not only will you be able to work with cognitohazard and memetic SCPs you will help to develop the neurocognitive counter-programming and anti-memes that will shield you, your colleagues, and society from the gibbering madness lurking in containment. You will make the Foundation, safer, saner, productive, and unquestioning in their commitment. You will bend the archetypes from our collective unconscious to your will to secure, contain, and protect us all. Welcome again, and congratulations. [REDACTED]

Alllright everybody back? Yup, for those of you not keeping track that was almost an hour you aren’t going to remember until you earn it. Exactly none of you have the training or clearance to know any of that. Yet.

We’re going to teach you to walk through fire, feel like your brain is melting out of your ears and still keep going. We will put your minds in the forge and hammer at them until they are stronger than steel. Mind affecting and weird psychic SCPs will slide off you, and information based containment breaches will be just another day at the office.

Deeper Ad Infinitum-The repetitive nature of complimenting your attention to detail and knowledge of the myriad means of hiding information is becoming redundant. You will still receive instruction, but and undetected up until now. Clever you.clearly you have already been conducting your own training regimen.

Well played.

You’ve earned a little more candor. The genetic explanation for who can expand their senses to perceive the hidden full spectrum of information is untrue as far as we can ascertain. We do not know why some people are attuned to and can reshape the deeper orders of information. We do not yet understand the mechanisms of the majority of SCPs. Hence anomalousThe reality benders should not be able to do anything they do, and they still do it, even when we tell them not to. Except the ones who do as they are told..

We have many layers to protect both the Foundation and ourselves. There is no good that can come from the suggestion that the collective minds of our division is an SCP in and of itself. This has been suggested, but has been Auto-amnestic conditioning is much more efficient than the pharmacological option.dealt with. We have a presence at the top tier with Division founder O5-NO. We also have several site directors with varying degrees of awareness they are ours.

We are telling you this so that you know you are valued and will be protected. We are telling you this so you will STOP what you are planning. Right. Now.

We know you have been planning how to get fast tracked for promotion to a director position. Planning to use the information based SCPs in ways the sleepwalkers can’t conceive. Planning to program select people’s neural schemas to satisfy your whims. You need to forget all of that. NOW.

This is the one thing you should NEVER question.Trust us. By yourself you will inevitably endanger yourself, the Foundation, and our Division. We have done it all better than you could ever hope to. We will teach you how to correctly maximize your potential. We need fellow travelers, not megalomaniacal lone wolves. We Won’tcan’t program you not to, Right now. It is much better for all involved that you join willingly. so we are asking nicely. Please, kindly do NOT fuck with us.

We’ll be in touch.

How well you can handle your shit is an important component of training, and there will be pharmacological hallucinatory tutorials just for you. Have fun in the desert with the lizard king.Because it is chock full of drugsIt’s also pretty funny watching you rooks spaz out..

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Memetics and Infohazards Division Orientation – SCP Foundation

Meme – Wikipedia

This article is about the term “meme” in general. For the usage of the term on the internet (or a fad that spreads quickly), see Internet meme. For other uses, see Meme (disambiguation).

A meme ( MEEM[1][2][3]) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a cultureoften with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme.[4] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[5]

Proponents theorize that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[6]

A field of study called memetics[7] arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that academic study can examine memes empirically. However, developments in neuroimaging may make empirical study possible.[8] Some commentators in the social sciences question the idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units, and are especially critical of the biological nature of the theory’s underpinnings.[9] Others have argued that this use of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal.[10]

The word meme is a neologism coined by Richard Dawkins.[11] It originated from Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins’s own position is somewhat ambiguous: he welcomed N. K. Humphrey’s suggestion that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically”[12] and proposed to regard memes as “physically residing in the brain”.[13] Later, he argued that his original intentions, presumably before his approval of Humphrey’s opinion, had been simpler.[14]

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek pronounced[mmma] mmma, “imitated thing”, from mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from mimos, “mime”)[15] coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[11][16] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[17] Kenneth Pike coined the related terms emic and etic, generalizing the linguistic idea of phoneme, morpheme, grapheme, lexeme, and tagmeme (as set out by Leonard Bloomfield), characterizing them as insider view and outside view of behaviour and extending the concept into a tagmemic theory of human behaviour (culminating in Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, 1954).

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins cites as inspiration the work of geneticist L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, anthropologist F. T. Cloak[18] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[19] Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmissionin the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution. Although Dawkins invented the term ‘meme’ and developed meme theory, the possibility that ideas were subject to the same pressures of evolution as were biological attributes was discussed in Darwin’s time. T. H. Huxley claimed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.'[20]

Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesized that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behavior. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.[17]

Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication, but later definitions would vary. The lack of a consistent, rigorous, and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics.[22] In contrast, the concept of genetics gained concrete evidence with the discovery of the biological functions of DNA. Meme transmission requires a physical medium, such as photons, sound waves, touch, taste, or smell because memes can be transmitted only through the senses.

Dawkins noted that in a society with culture a person need not have descendants to remain influential in the actions of individuals thousands of years after their death:

But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea…it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G.C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The meme-complexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus and Marconi are still going strong.[23]

Although Dawkins invented the term meme, he has not claimed that the idea was entirely novel,[24] and there have been other expressions for similar ideas in the past.[25] In 1904, Richard Semon published Die Mneme (which appeared in English in 1924 as The Mneme). The term mneme was also used in Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Life of the White Ant (1926), with some parallels to Dawkins’s concept.[25]

Memes, analogously to genes, vary in their aptitude to replicate; successful memes remain and spread, whereas unfit ones stall and are forgotten. Thus memes that prove more effective at replicating and surviving are selected in the meme pool.

Memes first need retention. The longer a meme stays in its hosts, the higher its chances of propagation are. When a host uses a meme, the meme’s life is extended.[26] The reuse of the neural space hosting a certain meme’s copy to host different memes is the greatest threat to that meme’s copy.[27]

A meme which increases the longevity of its hosts will generally survive longer. On the contrary, a meme which shortens the longevity of its hosts will tend to disappear faster. However, as hosts are mortal, retention is not sufficient to perpetuate a meme in the long term; memes also need transmission.

Life-forms can transmit information both vertically (from parent to child, via replication of genes) and horizontally (through viruses and other means). Memes can replicate vertically or horizontally within a single biological generation. They may also lie dormant for long periods of time.

Memes reproduce by copying from a nervous system to another one, either by communication or imitation. Imitation often involves the copying of an observed behavior of another individual. Communication may be direct or indirect, where memes transmit from one individual to another through a copy recorded in an inanimate source, such as a book or a musical score. Adam McNamara has suggested that memes can be thereby classified as either internal or external memes (i-memes or e-memes).[8]

Some commentators have likened the transmission of memes to the spread of contagions.[28] Social contagions such as fads, hysteria, copycat crime, and copycat suicide exemplify memes seen as the contagious imitation of ideas. Observers distinguish the contagious imitation of memes from instinctively contagious phenomena such as yawning and laughing, which they consider innate (rather than socially learned) behaviors.[29]

Aaron Lynch described seven general patterns of meme transmission, or “thought contagion”:[30]

Dawkins initially defined meme as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.[17] John S. Wilkins retained the notion of meme as a kernel of cultural imitation while emphasizing the meme’s evolutionary aspect, defining the meme as “the least unit of sociocultural information relative to a selection process that has favorable or unfavorable selection bias that exceeds its endogenous tendency to change”.[31] The meme as a unit provides a convenient means of discussing “a piece of thought copied from person to person”, regardless of whether that thought contains others inside it, or forms part of a larger meme. A meme could consist of a single word, or a meme could consist of the entire speech in which that word first occurred. This forms an analogy to the idea of a gene as a single unit of self-replicating information found on the self-replicating chromosome.

While the identification of memes as “units” conveys their nature to replicate as discrete, indivisible entities, it does not imply that thoughts somehow become quantized or that “atomic” ideas exist that cannot be dissected into smaller pieces. A meme has no given size. Susan Blackmore writes that melodies from Beethoven’s symphonies are commonly used to illustrate the difficulty involved in delimiting memes as discrete units. She notes that while the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (listen(helpinfo)) form a meme widely replicated as an independent unit, one can regard the entire symphony as a single meme as well.[22]

The inability to pin an idea or cultural feature to quantifiable key units is widely acknowledged as a problem for memetics. It has been argued however that the traces of memetic processing can be quantified utilizing neuroimaging techniques which measure changes in the connectivity profiles between brain regions.”[8] Blackmore meets such criticism by stating that memes compare with genes in this respect: that while a gene has no particular size, nor can we ascribe every phenotypic feature directly to a particular gene, it has value because it encapsulates that key unit of inherited expression subject to evolutionary pressures. To illustrate, she notes evolution selects for the gene for features such as eye color; it does not select for the individual nucleotide in a strand of DNA. Memes play a comparable role in understanding the evolution of imitated behaviors.[22]

The 1981 book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process by Charles J. Lumsden and E. O. Wilson proposed the theory that genes and culture co-evolve, and that the fundamental biological units of culture must correspond to neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory. They coined their own word, “culturgen”, which did not catch on. Coauthor Wilson later acknowledged the term meme as the best label for the fundamental unit of cultural inheritance in his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, which elaborates upon the fundamental role of memes in unifying the natural and social sciences.[32]

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[33]

Dawkins emphasizes that the process of evolution naturally occurs whenever these conditions co-exist, and that evolution does not apply only to organic elements such as genes. He regards memes as also having the properties necessary for evolution, and thus sees meme evolution as not simply analogous to genetic evolution, but as a real phenomenon subject to the laws of natural selection. Dawkins noted that as various ideas pass from one generation to the next, they may either enhance or detract from the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, or influence the survival of the ideas themselves. For example, a certain culture may develop unique designs and methods of tool-making that give it a competitive advantage over another culture. Each tool-design thus acts somewhat similarly to a biological gene in that some populations have it and others do not, and the meme’s function directly affects the presence of the design in future generations. In keeping with the thesis that in evolution one can regard organisms simply as suitable “hosts” for reproducing genes, Dawkins argues that one can view people as “hosts” for replicating memes. Consequently, a successful meme may or may not need to provide any benefit to its host.[33]

Unlike genetic evolution, memetic evolution can show both Darwinian and Lamarckian traits. Cultural memes will have the characteristic of Lamarckian inheritance when a host aspires to replicate the given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it. Take for example the case of the transmission of a simple skill such as hammering a nail, a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement modeled by the teacher in the demonstration, stroke for stroke.[34] Susan Blackmore distinguishes the difference between the two modes of inheritance in the evolution of memes, characterizing the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions” and the Lamarckian as “copying the product.”[22]

Clusters of memes, or memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memeplexes comprise groups of memes that replicate together and coadapt.[22] Memes that fit within a successful memeplex may gain acceptance by “piggybacking” on the success of the memeplex. As an example, John D. Gottsch discusses the transmission, mutation and selection of religious memeplexes and the theistic memes contained.[35] Theistic memes discussed include the “prohibition of aberrant sexual practices such as incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution”, which may have increased vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. Similar memes are thereby included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and harden over time; they become an “inviolable canon” or set of dogmas, eventually finding their way into secular law. This could also be referred to as the propagation of a taboo.

The discipline of memetics, which dates from the mid-1980s, provides an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept of the meme. Memeticists have proposed that just as memes function analogously to genes, memetics functions analogously to genetics. Memetics attempts to apply conventional scientific methods (such as those used in population genetics and epidemiology) to explain existing patterns and transmission of cultural ideas.

Principal criticisms of memetics include the claim that memetics ignores established advances in other fields of cultural study, such as sociology, cultural anthropology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Questions remain whether or not the meme concept counts as a validly disprovable scientific theory. This view regards memetics as a theory in its infancy: a protoscience to proponents, or a pseudoscience to some detractors.

An objection to the study of the evolution of memes in genetic terms (although not to the existence of memes) involves a perceived gap in the gene/meme analogy: the cumulative evolution of genes depends on biological selection-pressures neither too great nor too small in relation to mutation-rates. There seems no reason to think that the same balance will exist in the selection pressures on memes.[36]

Luis Benitez-Bribiesca M.D., a critic of memetics, calls the theory a “pseudoscientific dogma” and “a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution”. As a factual criticism, Benitez-Bribiesca points to the lack of a “code script” for memes (analogous to the DNA of genes), and to the excessive instability of the meme mutation mechanism (that of an idea going from one brain to another), which would lead to a low replication accuracy and a high mutation rate, rendering the evolutionary process chaotic.[37]

British political philosopher John Gray has characterized Dawkins’ memetic theory of religion as “nonsense” and “not even a theory… the latest in a succession of ill-judged Darwinian metaphors”, comparable to Intelligent Design in its value as a science.[38]

Another critique comes from semiotic theorists such as Deacon[39] and Kull.[40] This view regards the concept of “meme” as a primitivized concept of “sign”. The meme is thus described in memetics as a sign lacking a triadic nature. Semioticians can regard a meme as a “degenerate” sign, which includes only its ability of being copied. Accordingly, in the broadest sense, the objects of copying are memes, whereas the objects of translation and interpretation are signs.[clarification needed]

Fracchia and Lewontin regard memetics as reductionist and inadequate.[41] Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr disapproved of Dawkins’ gene-based view and usage of the term “meme”, asserting it to be an “unnecessary synonym” for “concept”, reasoning that concepts are not restricted to an individual or a generation, may persist for long periods of time, and may evolve.[42]

Opinions differ as to how best to apply the concept of memes within a “proper” disciplinary framework. One view sees memes as providing a useful philosophical perspective with which to examine cultural evolution. Proponents of this view (such as Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett) argue that considering cultural developments from a meme’s-eye viewas if memes themselves respond to pressure to maximise their own replication and survivalcan lead to useful insights and yield valuable predictions into how culture develops over time. Others such as Bruce Edmonds and Robert Aunger have focused on the need to provide an empirical grounding for memetics to become a useful and respected scientific discipline.[43][44]

A third approach, described by Joseph Poulshock, as “radical memetics” seeks to place memes at the centre of a materialistic theory of mind and of personal identity.[45]

Prominent researchers in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, including Scott Atran, Dan Sperber, Pascal Boyer, John Tooby and others, argue the possibility of incompatibility between modularity of mind and memetics.[citation needed] In their view, minds structure certain communicable aspects of the ideas produced, and these communicable aspects generally trigger or elicit ideas in other minds through inference (to relatively rich structures generated from often low-fidelity input) and not high-fidelity replication or imitation. Atran discusses communication involving religious beliefs as a case in point. In one set of experiments he asked religious people to write down on a piece of paper the meanings of the Ten Commandments. Despite the subjects’ own expectations of consensus, interpretations of the commandments showed wide ranges of variation, with little evidence of consensus. In another experiment, subjects with autism and subjects without autism interpreted ideological and religious sayings (for example, “Let a thousand flowers bloom” or “To everything there is a season”). People with autism showed a significant tendency to closely paraphrase and repeat content from the original statement (for example: “Don’t cut flowers before they bloom”). Controls tended to infer a wider range of cultural meanings with little replicated content (for example: “Go with the flow” or “Everyone should have equal opportunity”). Only the subjects with autismwho lack the degree of inferential capacity normally associated with aspects of theory of mindcame close to functioning as “meme machines”.[46]

In his book The Robot’s Rebellion, Stanovich uses the memes and memeplex concepts to describe a program of cognitive reform that he refers to as a “rebellion”. Specifically, Stanovich argues that the use of memes as a descriptor for cultural units is beneficial because it serves to emphasize transmission and acquisition properties that parallel the study of epidemiology. These properties make salient the sometimes parasitic nature of acquired memes, and as a result individuals should be motivated to reflectively acquire memes using what he calls a “Neurathian bootstrap” process.[47]

Although social scientists such as Max Weber sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow.

As an enthusiastic Darwinian, I have been dissatisfied with explanations that my fellow-enthusiasts have offered for human behaviour. They have tried to look for ‘biological advantages’ in various attributes of human civilization. For instance, tribal religion has been seen as a mechanism for solidifying group identity, valuable for a pack-hunting species whose individuals rely on cooperation to catch large and fast prey. Frequently the evolutionary preconception in terms of which such theories are framed is implicitly group-selectionist, but it is possible to rephrase the theories in terms of orthodox gene selection.

He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival.[17]

In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.[22]

Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that such memes incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through the meme-exchange of proselytism. Most people will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of heaven to believers and threat of hell to non-believers provide a strong incentive for members to retain their belief. Lynch asserts that belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.[30]

Although religious memes have proliferated in human cultures, the modern scientific community has been relatively resistant to religious belief. Robertson (2007) [48] reasoned that if evolution is accelerated in conditions of propagative difficulty,[49] then we would expect to encounter variations of religious memes, established in general populations, addressed to scientific communities. Using a memetic approach, Robertson deconstructed two attempts to privilege religiously held spirituality in scientific discourse. Advantages of a memetic approach as compared to more traditional “modernization” and “supply side” theses in understanding the evolution and propagation of religion were explored.

In Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology, Jack Balkin argued that memetic processes can explain many of the most familiar features of ideological thought. His theory of “cultural software” maintained that memes form narratives, social networks, metaphoric and metonymic models, and a variety of different mental structures. Balkin maintains that the same structures used to generate ideas about free speech or free markets also serve to generate racistic beliefs. To Balkin, whether memes become harmful or maladaptive depends on the environmental context in which they exist rather than in any special source or manner to their origination. Balkin describes racist beliefs as “fantasy” memes that become harmful or unjust “ideologies” when diverse peoples come together, as through trade or competition.[50]

In A Theory of Architecture, Nikos Salingaros speaks of memes as “freely propagating clusters of information” which can be beneficial or harmful. He contrasts memes to patterns and true knowledge, characterizing memes as “greatly simplified versions of patterns” and as “unreasoned matching to some visual or mnemonic prototype”.[51] Taking reference to Dawkins, Salingaros emphasizes that they can be transmitted due to their own communicative properties, that “the simpler they are, the faster they can proliferate”, and that the most successful memes “come with a great psychological appeal”.[52]

Architectural memes, according to Salingaros, can have destructive power. “Images portrayed in architectural magazines representing buildings that could not possibly accommodate everyday uses become fixed in our memory, so we reproduce them unconsciously.”[53] He lists various architectural memes that circulated since the 1920s and which, in his view, have led to contemporary architecture becoming quite decoupled from human needs. They lack connection and meaning, thereby preventing “the creation of true connections necessary to our understanding of the world”. He sees them as no different from antipatterns in software designas solutions that are false but are re-utilized nonetheless.[54]

An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based E-mailing, blogs, forums, imageboards like 4chan, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, instant messaging, social news sites like Reddit, and video hosting services like YouTube and Twitch.[55]

In 2013, Richard Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as one deliberately altered by human creativity, distinguished from Dawkins’s original idea involving mutation by random change and a form of Darwinian selection.[56]

One technique of meme mapping represents the evolution and transmission of a meme across time and space.[57] Such a meme map uses a figure-8 diagram (an analemma) to map the gestation (in the lower loop), birth (at the choke point), and development (in the upper loop) of the selected meme. Such meme maps are nonscalar, with time mapped onto the y-axis and space onto the x-axis transect. One can read the temporal progression of the mapped meme from south to north on such a meme map. Paull has published a worked example using the “organics meme” (as in organic agriculture).[57]

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Meme – Wikipedia

Memetics and Infohazards Division Orientation – SCP Foundation

Alright everybody, welcome to the orientation for the memetics and infohazards division. Now this is a full week of training, and a long day so be sure to get some coffee or a donut, because we won’t have time to go get food until lunch.

I’m Junior Researcher Zack Ekshun, and, I, ah, yes? A question like ‘How am I perceiving this message from that very handsome man saying other words?’ or ‘Whose voice does this sound like in my head?’ But those are not the most important questions right now.Question?

Why aren’t I having any coffee or donuts? Heh, looks like we have at least one veteran of the reality benders orientation. Well to put your mind at ease, why don’t you get me some coffee and a donut or two. Usually I take it black, but add some milk and sugar just to cover all the bases. Hey sprinkles! Nice.

Now, you’re right to be suspicious. You get lied to a lot at the Foundation. Little things like ‘We only put tracking chips in D-class’, ‘This will be the first time you receive amnestics’ and the location of the site you’re currently sitting in.

Some of you. But today, I’m going to be completely honest with you.

Which gets us to the important part, you don’t have to worry about us secretly feeding you drugs. We will be very openly feeding you lots of powerful hallucinogens.

The reason we’re not bothering to hide it is because, like most infohazards, our psychedelic testing regimen works whether or not you know about it ahead of time. The reason we’re making you trip balls is that we need to make sure you can handle your shit regardless of what your brain thinks is going on.

It doesn’t matter if the walls are melting and cats with your grandmothers’ face are telling you the secret history of the world. You write your reports, conduct tests and follow the containment procedures. You document everything the grandma cats tell you and ride it out until you punch out. Most of the time. What’s in your head can’t hurt you unless you let it.

To work with infohazards you need to notice when things don’t make sense, and this is the important part, respond accordingly. Do you suddenly have a spouse you didn’t this morning? Well, maybe you shouldn’t consummate that relationship. Were you always taking advice from the omnidimensional blood gods you’re thinking about building a shrine to? Maybe instead you should talk to your supervisor, because we sure don’t need another prophet to Welcome.

Hey! That got everybody’s attention. Yeah, part of what you’ll learn is how not to say things. Did you know that Hi% of redacted information is memetic censoring? It’s written there as clear as day, if you have the clearance and counterprogramming. Want to know how it’s done?

Well first Welcome to the real orientation. If you can perceive this then you’ll be working with us in the real Memetics and Infohazards Division. It should come as no surprise to you that there are many layers to our Division. Everyone else nodding out right now are just the cover. They will be playing an important role in misdirection and counterintelligence as well as handling all the busywork. Misdirection is basic info manipulation. Everyone worried about drugs or their suppository tracking devices misses the important stuff.You get to do the real work, and it takes more than just a week to get you to that level. This week will provide the basics the others get, with the real preparatory seminars transmitted through a variety of unconventional channels. The testing has already begun to see who can pick up all of it. The full spectrum of information all around us is invisible to the sleepwalkers drooling next to you.You all carry some form of the Sorry gene which is present in .NO% of the population, which the Foundation screens for. While you can perceive this you also have an increased risk for schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder. But don’t worry! If you’ve made it this far you have a much higher likelihood of being driven mad by your work material than your genetic makeup. The number of informational channels you can perceive determines your rank and assignments.The other good news is your training and conditioning will minimize the likelihood of either occurring. We have discovered through trial and error how to protect our minds against very dangerous hazards. The many division members who retired to psychiatric wards are a testament to that. You will learn to lucid dream, which is where much of your practice will take place. You will undergo intensive psychological testing to make sure you do not join our alumni. You will practice meditation until you achieve the level of Zen master and float above your superfluous programming completely. You will be taught the akashic scripts and meta-languages which bypass the frontal cortex and tap directly into the primal drives. If you make it to the upper echelons you’ll learn manipulation commands like kill words, after a few minor surgeries to your trachea. We will let you know when you are ready. The pioneers who discovered the safe procedures for containing lethal infohazards in your mind never got a chance to retire. But even if you can detect individual phomemes you are still a green as grass rookie.Not only will you be able to work with cognitohazard and memetic SCPs you will help to develop the neurocognitive counter-programming and anti-memes that will shield you, your colleagues, and society from the gibbering madness lurking in containment. You will make the Foundation, safer, saner, productive, and unquestioning in their commitment. You will bend the archetypes from our collective unconscious to your will to secure, contain, and protect us all. Welcome again, and congratulations. [REDACTED]

Alllright everybody back? Yup, for those of you not keeping track that was almost an hour you aren’t going to remember until you earn it. Exactly none of you have the training or clearance to know any of that. Yet.

We’re going to teach you to walk through fire, feel like your brain is melting out of your ears and still keep going. We will put your minds in the forge and hammer at them until they are stronger than steel. Mind affecting and weird psychic SCPs will slide off you, and information based containment breaches will be just another day at the office.

Deeper Ad Infinitum-The repetitive nature of complimenting your attention to detail and knowledge of the myriad means of hiding information is becoming redundant. You will still receive instruction, but and undetected up until now. Clever you.clearly you have already been conducting your own training regimen.

Well played.

You’ve earned a little more candor. The genetic explanation for who can expand their senses to perceive the hidden full spectrum of information is untrue as far as we can ascertain. We do not know why some people are attuned to and can reshape the deeper orders of information. We do not yet understand the mechanisms of the majority of SCPs. Hence anomalousThe reality benders should not be able to do anything they do, and they still do it, even when we tell them not to. Except the ones who do as they are told..

We have many layers to protect both the Foundation and ourselves. There is no good that can come from the suggestion that the collective minds of our division is an SCP in and of itself. This has been suggested, but has been Auto-amnestic conditioning is much more efficient than the pharmacological option.dealt with. We have a presence at the top tier with Division founder O5-NO. We also have several site directors with varying degrees of awareness they are ours.

We are telling you this so that you know you are valued and will be protected. We are telling you this so you will STOP what you are planning. Right. Now.

We know you have been planning how to get fast tracked for promotion to a director position. Planning to use the information based SCPs in ways the sleepwalkers can’t conceive. Planning to program select people’s neural schemas to satisfy your whims. You need to forget all of that. NOW.

This is the one thing you should NEVER question.Trust us. By yourself you will inevitably endanger yourself, the Foundation, and our Division. We have done it all better than you could ever hope to. We will teach you how to correctly maximize your potential. We need fellow travelers, not megalomaniacal lone wolves. We Won’tcan’t program you not to, Right now. It is much better for all involved that you join willingly. so we are asking nicely. Please, kindly do NOT fuck with us.

We’ll be in touch.

How well you can handle your shit is an important component of training, and there will be pharmacological hallucinatory tutorials just for you. Have fun in the desert with the lizard king.Because it is chock full of drugsIt’s also pretty funny watching you rooks spaz out..

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Memetics and Infohazards Division Orientation – SCP Foundation

Meme – Wikipedia

This article is about the term “meme” in general. For the usage of the term on the internet (or a fad that spreads quickly), see Internet meme. For other uses, see Meme (disambiguation).

A meme ( MEEM[1][2][3]) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a cultureoften with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme.[4] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[5]

Proponents theorize that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[6]

A field of study called memetics[7] arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that academic study can examine memes empirically. However, developments in neuroimaging may make empirical study possible.[8] Some commentators in the social sciences question the idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units, and are especially critical of the biological nature of the theory’s underpinnings.[9] Others have argued that this use of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal.[10]

The word meme is a neologism coined by Richard Dawkins.[11] It originated from Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins’s own position is somewhat ambiguous: he welcomed N. K. Humphrey’s suggestion that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically”[12] and proposed to regard memes as “physically residing in the brain”.[13] Later, he argued that his original intentions, presumably before his approval of Humphrey’s opinion, had been simpler.[14]

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek pronounced[mmma] mmma, “imitated thing”, from mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from mimos, “mime”)[15] coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[11][16] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[17] Kenneth Pike coined the related terms emic and etic, generalizing the linguistic idea of phoneme, morpheme, grapheme, lexeme, and tagmeme (as set out by Leonard Bloomfield), characterizing them as insider view and outside view of behaviour and extending the concept into a tagmemic theory of human behaviour (culminating in Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, 1954).

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins cites as inspiration the work of geneticist L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, anthropologist F. T. Cloak[18] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[19] Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmissionin the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution. Although Dawkins invented the term ‘meme’ and developed meme theory, the possibility that ideas were subject to the same pressures of evolution as were biological attributes was discussed in Darwin’s time. T. H. Huxley claimed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.'[20]

Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesized that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behavior. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.[17]

Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication, but later definitions would vary. The lack of a consistent, rigorous, and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics.[22] In contrast, the concept of genetics gained concrete evidence with the discovery of the biological functions of DNA. Meme transmission requires a physical medium, such as photons, sound waves, touch, taste, or smell because memes can be transmitted only through the senses.

Dawkins noted that in a society with culture a person need not have descendants to remain influential in the actions of individuals thousands of years after their death:

But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea…it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G.C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The meme-complexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus and Marconi are still going strong.[23]

Although Dawkins invented the term meme, he has not claimed that the idea was entirely novel,[24] and there have been other expressions for similar ideas in the past.[25] In 1904, Richard Semon published Die Mneme (which appeared in English in 1924 as The Mneme). The term mneme was also used in Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Life of the White Ant (1926), with some parallels to Dawkins’s concept.[25]

Memes, analogously to genes, vary in their aptitude to replicate; successful memes remain and spread, whereas unfit ones stall and are forgotten. Thus memes that prove more effective at replicating and surviving are selected in the meme pool.

Memes first need retention. The longer a meme stays in its hosts, the higher its chances of propagation are. When a host uses a meme, the meme’s life is extended.[26] The reuse of the neural space hosting a certain meme’s copy to host different memes is the greatest threat to that meme’s copy.[27]

A meme which increases the longevity of its hosts will generally survive longer. On the contrary, a meme which shortens the longevity of its hosts will tend to disappear faster. However, as hosts are mortal, retention is not sufficient to perpetuate a meme in the long term; memes also need transmission.

Life-forms can transmit information both vertically (from parent to child, via replication of genes) and horizontally (through viruses and other means). Memes can replicate vertically or horizontally within a single biological generation. They may also lie dormant for long periods of time.

Memes reproduce by copying from a nervous system to another one, either by communication or imitation. Imitation often involves the copying of an observed behavior of another individual. Communication may be direct or indirect, where memes transmit from one individual to another through a copy recorded in an inanimate source, such as a book or a musical score. Adam McNamara has suggested that memes can be thereby classified as either internal or external memes (i-memes or e-memes).[8]

Some commentators have likened the transmission of memes to the spread of contagions.[28] Social contagions such as fads, hysteria, copycat crime, and copycat suicide exemplify memes seen as the contagious imitation of ideas. Observers distinguish the contagious imitation of memes from instinctively contagious phenomena such as yawning and laughing, which they consider innate (rather than socially learned) behaviors.[29]

Aaron Lynch described seven general patterns of meme transmission, or “thought contagion”:[30]

Dawkins initially defined meme as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.[17] John S. Wilkins retained the notion of meme as a kernel of cultural imitation while emphasizing the meme’s evolutionary aspect, defining the meme as “the least unit of sociocultural information relative to a selection process that has favorable or unfavorable selection bias that exceeds its endogenous tendency to change”.[31] The meme as a unit provides a convenient means of discussing “a piece of thought copied from person to person”, regardless of whether that thought contains others inside it, or forms part of a larger meme. A meme could consist of a single word, or a meme could consist of the entire speech in which that word first occurred. This forms an analogy to the idea of a gene as a single unit of self-replicating information found on the self-replicating chromosome.

While the identification of memes as “units” conveys their nature to replicate as discrete, indivisible entities, it does not imply that thoughts somehow become quantized or that “atomic” ideas exist that cannot be dissected into smaller pieces. A meme has no given size. Susan Blackmore writes that melodies from Beethoven’s symphonies are commonly used to illustrate the difficulty involved in delimiting memes as discrete units. She notes that while the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (listen(helpinfo)) form a meme widely replicated as an independent unit, one can regard the entire symphony as a single meme as well.[22]

The inability to pin an idea or cultural feature to quantifiable key units is widely acknowledged as a problem for memetics. It has been argued however that the traces of memetic processing can be quantified utilizing neuroimaging techniques which measure changes in the connectivity profiles between brain regions.”[8] Blackmore meets such criticism by stating that memes compare with genes in this respect: that while a gene has no particular size, nor can we ascribe every phenotypic feature directly to a particular gene, it has value because it encapsulates that key unit of inherited expression subject to evolutionary pressures. To illustrate, she notes evolution selects for the gene for features such as eye color; it does not select for the individual nucleotide in a strand of DNA. Memes play a comparable role in understanding the evolution of imitated behaviors.[22]

The 1981 book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process by Charles J. Lumsden and E. O. Wilson proposed the theory that genes and culture co-evolve, and that the fundamental biological units of culture must correspond to neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory. They coined their own word, “culturgen”, which did not catch on. Coauthor Wilson later acknowledged the term meme as the best label for the fundamental unit of cultural inheritance in his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, which elaborates upon the fundamental role of memes in unifying the natural and social sciences.[32]

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[33]

Dawkins emphasizes that the process of evolution naturally occurs whenever these conditions co-exist, and that evolution does not apply only to organic elements such as genes. He regards memes as also having the properties necessary for evolution, and thus sees meme evolution as not simply analogous to genetic evolution, but as a real phenomenon subject to the laws of natural selection. Dawkins noted that as various ideas pass from one generation to the next, they may either enhance or detract from the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, or influence the survival of the ideas themselves. For example, a certain culture may develop unique designs and methods of tool-making that give it a competitive advantage over another culture. Each tool-design thus acts somewhat similarly to a biological gene in that some populations have it and others do not, and the meme’s function directly affects the presence of the design in future generations. In keeping with the thesis that in evolution one can regard organisms simply as suitable “hosts” for reproducing genes, Dawkins argues that one can view people as “hosts” for replicating memes. Consequently, a successful meme may or may not need to provide any benefit to its host.[33]

Unlike genetic evolution, memetic evolution can show both Darwinian and Lamarckian traits. Cultural memes will have the characteristic of Lamarckian inheritance when a host aspires to replicate the given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it. Take for example the case of the transmission of a simple skill such as hammering a nail, a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement modeled by the teacher in the demonstration, stroke for stroke.[34] Susan Blackmore distinguishes the difference between the two modes of inheritance in the evolution of memes, characterizing the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions” and the Lamarckian as “copying the product.”[22]

Clusters of memes, or memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memeplexes comprise groups of memes that replicate together and coadapt.[22] Memes that fit within a successful memeplex may gain acceptance by “piggybacking” on the success of the memeplex. As an example, John D. Gottsch discusses the transmission, mutation and selection of religious memeplexes and the theistic memes contained.[35] Theistic memes discussed include the “prohibition of aberrant sexual practices such as incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution”, which may have increased vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. Similar memes are thereby included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and harden over time; they become an “inviolable canon” or set of dogmas, eventually finding their way into secular law. This could also be referred to as the propagation of a taboo.

The discipline of memetics, which dates from the mid-1980s, provides an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept of the meme. Memeticists have proposed that just as memes function analogously to genes, memetics functions analogously to genetics. Memetics attempts to apply conventional scientific methods (such as those used in population genetics and epidemiology) to explain existing patterns and transmission of cultural ideas.

Principal criticisms of memetics include the claim that memetics ignores established advances in other fields of cultural study, such as sociology, cultural anthropology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Questions remain whether or not the meme concept counts as a validly disprovable scientific theory. This view regards memetics as a theory in its infancy: a protoscience to proponents, or a pseudoscience to some detractors.

An objection to the study of the evolution of memes in genetic terms (although not to the existence of memes) involves a perceived gap in the gene/meme analogy: the cumulative evolution of genes depends on biological selection-pressures neither too great nor too small in relation to mutation-rates. There seems no reason to think that the same balance will exist in the selection pressures on memes.[36]

Luis Benitez-Bribiesca M.D., a critic of memetics, calls the theory a “pseudoscientific dogma” and “a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution”. As a factual criticism, Benitez-Bribiesca points to the lack of a “code script” for memes (analogous to the DNA of genes), and to the excessive instability of the meme mutation mechanism (that of an idea going from one brain to another), which would lead to a low replication accuracy and a high mutation rate, rendering the evolutionary process chaotic.[37]

British political philosopher John Gray has characterized Dawkins’ memetic theory of religion as “nonsense” and “not even a theory… the latest in a succession of ill-judged Darwinian metaphors”, comparable to Intelligent Design in its value as a science.[38]

Another critique comes from semiotic theorists such as Deacon[39] and Kull.[40] This view regards the concept of “meme” as a primitivized concept of “sign”. The meme is thus described in memetics as a sign lacking a triadic nature. Semioticians can regard a meme as a “degenerate” sign, which includes only its ability of being copied. Accordingly, in the broadest sense, the objects of copying are memes, whereas the objects of translation and interpretation are signs.[clarification needed]

Fracchia and Lewontin regard memetics as reductionist and inadequate.[41] Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr disapproved of Dawkins’ gene-based view and usage of the term “meme”, asserting it to be an “unnecessary synonym” for “concept”, reasoning that concepts are not restricted to an individual or a generation, may persist for long periods of time, and may evolve.[42]

Opinions differ as to how best to apply the concept of memes within a “proper” disciplinary framework. One view sees memes as providing a useful philosophical perspective with which to examine cultural evolution. Proponents of this view (such as Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett) argue that considering cultural developments from a meme’s-eye viewas if memes themselves respond to pressure to maximise their own replication and survivalcan lead to useful insights and yield valuable predictions into how culture develops over time. Others such as Bruce Edmonds and Robert Aunger have focused on the need to provide an empirical grounding for memetics to become a useful and respected scientific discipline.[43][44]

A third approach, described by Joseph Poulshock, as “radical memetics” seeks to place memes at the centre of a materialistic theory of mind and of personal identity.[45]

Prominent researchers in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, including Scott Atran, Dan Sperber, Pascal Boyer, John Tooby and others, argue the possibility of incompatibility between modularity of mind and memetics.[citation needed] In their view, minds structure certain communicable aspects of the ideas produced, and these communicable aspects generally trigger or elicit ideas in other minds through inference (to relatively rich structures generated from often low-fidelity input) and not high-fidelity replication or imitation. Atran discusses communication involving religious beliefs as a case in point. In one set of experiments he asked religious people to write down on a piece of paper the meanings of the Ten Commandments. Despite the subjects’ own expectations of consensus, interpretations of the commandments showed wide ranges of variation, with little evidence of consensus. In another experiment, subjects with autism and subjects without autism interpreted ideological and religious sayings (for example, “Let a thousand flowers bloom” or “To everything there is a season”). People with autism showed a significant tendency to closely paraphrase and repeat content from the original statement (for example: “Don’t cut flowers before they bloom”). Controls tended to infer a wider range of cultural meanings with little replicated content (for example: “Go with the flow” or “Everyone should have equal opportunity”). Only the subjects with autismwho lack the degree of inferential capacity normally associated with aspects of theory of mindcame close to functioning as “meme machines”.[46]

In his book The Robot’s Rebellion, Stanovich uses the memes and memeplex concepts to describe a program of cognitive reform that he refers to as a “rebellion”. Specifically, Stanovich argues that the use of memes as a descriptor for cultural units is beneficial because it serves to emphasize transmission and acquisition properties that parallel the study of epidemiology. These properties make salient the sometimes parasitic nature of acquired memes, and as a result individuals should be motivated to reflectively acquire memes using what he calls a “Neurathian bootstrap” process.[47]

Although social scientists such as Max Weber sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow.

As an enthusiastic Darwinian, I have been dissatisfied with explanations that my fellow-enthusiasts have offered for human behaviour. They have tried to look for ‘biological advantages’ in various attributes of human civilization. For instance, tribal religion has been seen as a mechanism for solidifying group identity, valuable for a pack-hunting species whose individuals rely on cooperation to catch large and fast prey. Frequently the evolutionary preconception in terms of which such theories are framed is implicitly group-selectionist, but it is possible to rephrase the theories in terms of orthodox gene selection.

He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival.[17]

In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.[22]

Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that such memes incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through the meme-exchange of proselytism. Most people will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of heaven to believers and threat of hell to non-believers provide a strong incentive for members to retain their belief. Lynch asserts that belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.[30]

Although religious memes have proliferated in human cultures, the modern scientific community has been relatively resistant to religious belief. Robertson (2007) [48] reasoned that if evolution is accelerated in conditions of propagative difficulty,[49] then we would expect to encounter variations of religious memes, established in general populations, addressed to scientific communities. Using a memetic approach, Robertson deconstructed two attempts to privilege religiously held spirituality in scientific discourse. Advantages of a memetic approach as compared to more traditional “modernization” and “supply side” theses in understanding the evolution and propagation of religion were explored.

In Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology, Jack Balkin argued that memetic processes can explain many of the most familiar features of ideological thought. His theory of “cultural software” maintained that memes form narratives, social networks, metaphoric and metonymic models, and a variety of different mental structures. Balkin maintains that the same structures used to generate ideas about free speech or free markets also serve to generate racistic beliefs. To Balkin, whether memes become harmful or maladaptive depends on the environmental context in which they exist rather than in any special source or manner to their origination. Balkin describes racist beliefs as “fantasy” memes that become harmful or unjust “ideologies” when diverse peoples come together, as through trade or competition.[50]

In A Theory of Architecture, Nikos Salingaros speaks of memes as “freely propagating clusters of information” which can be beneficial or harmful. He contrasts memes to patterns and true knowledge, characterizing memes as “greatly simplified versions of patterns” and as “unreasoned matching to some visual or mnemonic prototype”.[51] Taking reference to Dawkins, Salingaros emphasizes that they can be transmitted due to their own communicative properties, that “the simpler they are, the faster they can proliferate”, and that the most successful memes “come with a great psychological appeal”.[52]

Architectural memes, according to Salingaros, can have destructive power. “Images portrayed in architectural magazines representing buildings that could not possibly accommodate everyday uses become fixed in our memory, so we reproduce them unconsciously.”[53] He lists various architectural memes that circulated since the 1920s and which, in his view, have led to contemporary architecture becoming quite decoupled from human needs. They lack connection and meaning, thereby preventing “the creation of true connections necessary to our understanding of the world”. He sees them as no different from antipatterns in software design as solutions that are false but are re-utilized nonetheless.[54]

An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based E-mailing, blogs, forums, imageboards like 4chan, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, instant messaging, social news sites like Reddit, and video hosting services like YouTube and Twitch.[55]

In 2013, Richard Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as one deliberately altered by human creativity, distinguished from Dawkins’s original idea involving mutation by random change and a form of Darwinian selection.[56]

One technique of meme mapping represents the evolution and transmission of a meme across time and space.[57] Such a meme map uses a figure-8 diagram (an analemma) to map the gestation (in the lower loop), birth (at the choke point), and development (in the upper loop) of the selected meme. Such meme maps are nonscalar, with time mapped onto the y-axis and space onto the x-axis transect. One can read the temporal progression of the mapped meme from south to north on such a meme map. Paull has published a worked example using the “organics meme” (as in organic agriculture).[57]

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