The Electric Meme

Author: Robert Aunger
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 1476740569
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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From biology to culture to the new new economy, the buzzword on everyone's lips is "meme." How do animals learn things? How does human culture evolve? How does viral marketing work? The answer to these disparate questions and even to what is the nature of thought itself is, simply, the meme. For decades researchers have been convinced that memes were The Next Big Thing for the understanding of society and ourselves. But no one has so far been able to define what they are. Until now. Here, for the first time, Robert Aunger outlines what a meme physically is, how memes originated, how they developed, and how they have made our brains into their survival systems. They are thoughts. They are parasites. They are in control. A meme is a distinct pattern of electrical charges in a node in our brains that reproduces a thousand times faster than a bacterium. Memes have found ways to leap from one brain to another. A number of them are being replicated in your brain as you read this paragraph. In 1976 the biologist Richard Dawkins suggested that all animals -- including humans -- are puppets and that genes hold the strings. That is, we are robots serving as life support for the genes that control us. And all they want to do is replicate themselves. But then, we do lots of things that don't seem to help genes replicate. We decide not to have children, we waste our time doing dangerous things like mountain climbing, or boring things like reading, or stupid things like smoking that don't seem to help genes get copied into the next generation. We do all sorts of cultural things for reasons that don't seem to have anything to do with genes. Fashions in sports, books, clothes, ideas, politics, lifestyles come and go and give our lives meaning, so how can we be gene robots? Dawkins recognized that something else was going on. We communicate with one another and we get ideas, and these ideas seem to have a life of their own. Maybe there was something called memes that were like thought genes. Maybe our bodies were gene robots and our minds were meme robots. That would mean that what we think is not the result of our own creativity, but rather the result of the evolutionary flow of memes as they wash through us. What is the biological reality of an idea with a life of its own? What is a thought gene? It's a meme. And no one before Robert Aunger has established what it physically must be. This elegant, paradigm-shifting analysis identifies how memes replicate in our brains, how they evolved, and how they use artifacts like books and photographs and advertisements to get from one brain to another. Destined to inflame arguments about free will, open doors to new ways of sharing our thoughts, and provide a revolutionary explanation of consciousness, The Electric Meme will change the way each of us thinks about our minds, our cultures, and our daily choices.

The Electric Meme

Author: Robert Aunger
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 0743201507
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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A cultural evolution scientist presents an outline of "meme," a distinct pattern of rapidly reproducing electrical charges in a brain node, citing their role in free will, human identity, consciousness, and society.

Darwinizing Culture

Author: Robert Aunger
Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand
ISBN: 9780192632449
Format: PDF, Docs
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'If you need a guide into the murky heat of memetics, look no further than the essays in Darwinizing Culture, which are a fine illustration of the murkiness at the heart of memetics, admirably framed by Bob Aunger's introduction and conclusion' New Scientist

Thought Contagion

Author: Aaron Lynch
Publisher: Basic Books
ISBN: 9780786725649
Format: PDF, Docs
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Fans of Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Bennet, and Richard Dawkins (as well as science buffs and readers of Wired Magazine) will revel in Aaron Lynch’s groundbreaking examination of memetics--the new study of how ideas and beliefs spread. What characterizes a meme is its capacity for displacing rival ideas and beliefs in an evolutionary drama that determines and changes the way people think. Exactly how do ideas spread, and what are the factors that make them genuine thought contagions? Why, for instance, do some beliefs spread throughout society, while others dwindle to extinction? What drives those intensely held beliefs that spawn ideological and political debates such as views on abortion and opinions about sex and sexuality?By drawing on examples from everyday life, Lynch develops a conceptual basis for understanding memetics. Memes evolve by natural selection in a process similar to that of Genes in evolutionary biology. What makes an idea a potent meme is how effectively it out-propagates other ideas. In memetic evolution, the "fittest ideas” are not always the truest or the most helpful, but the ones best at self replication.Thus, crash diets spread not because of lasting benefit, but by alternating episodes of dramatic weight loss and slow regain. Each sudden thinning provokes onlookers to ask, "How did you do it?” thereby manipulating them to experiment with the diet and in turn, spread it again. The faster the pounds return, the more often these people enter that disseminating phase, all of which favors outbreaks of the most pathogenic diets. Like a software virus traveling on the Internet or a flu strain passing through a city, thought contagions proliferate by programming for their own propagation. Lynch argues that certain beliefs spread like viruses and evolve like microbes, as mutant strains vie for more adherents and more hosts. In its most revolutionary aspect, memetics asks not how people accumulate ideas, but how ideas accumulate people. Readers of this intriguing theory will be amazed to discover that many popular beliefs about family, sex, politics, religion, health, and war have succeeded by their "fitness” as thought contagions.

Dawkins GOD

Author: Alister E. McGrath
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 1118724917
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Alister E. McGrath is one of the world’s leading theologians, with a doctorate in the sciences. Richard Dawkins is one of the bestselling popular science writers, with outspoken and controversial views on religion. This fascinating and provoking work is the first book-length response to Dawkins’ ideas, and offers an ideal introduction to the topical issues of science and religion. Addresses fundamental questions about Dawkins’ approach to science and religion: Is the gene actually selfish? Is the blind watchmaker a suitable analogy? Are there other ways of looking at things? Tackles Dawkins’ hostile and controversial views on religion, and examines the religious implications of his scientific ideas, making for a fascinating and provoking debate Written in a very engaging and accessible style, ideal to those approaching scientific and religious issues for the first time Alister McGrath is uniquely qualified to write this book. He is one of the world’s best known and most respected theologians, with a strong research background in molecular biophysics A superb book by one of the world’s leading theologians, which will attract wide interest in the growing popular science market, similar to Susan Blackmore’s The Meme Machine (1999).

Virus of the Mind

Author: Richard Brodie
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780963600127
Format: PDF, Kindle
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"Virus of the Mind" is the first popular book devoted to the science of memetics, a controversial new field that transcends psychology, biology, anthropology, and cognitive science. Memetics is the science of memes, the invisible but very real DNA of human society.

The Complete Idiot s Guide to Memes

Author: Damon Brown
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 1101444045
Format: PDF, Docs
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The ways of memes. Memes are "viruses of the mind" - symbols, ideas, or practices that are transmitted through speech, gestures, and rituals. Understanding how symbols like the peace sign or ad slogans like "Where's the beef?" or viral videos become part of our common culture has become a primary focus of sales and marketing companies across the globe. The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Memes explains how memes work, how they spread, and what memes tell us about how we make sense of our world. ?First book to cover all types of memes, including viral memes in the digital age ?Features the Most Influential Memes in History and the Ten Biggest Internet Memes

The Meme Machine

Author: Susan Blackmore
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191574619
Format: PDF, ePub
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Humans are extraordinary creatures, with the unique ability among animals to imitate and so copy from one another ideas, habits, skills, behaviours, inventions, songs, and stories. These are all memes, a term first coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 in his book The Selfish Gene. Memes, like genes, are replicators, and this enthralling book is an investigation of whether this link between genes and memes can lead to important discoveries about the nature of the inner self. Confronting the deepest questions about our inner selves, with all our emotions, memories, beliefs, and decisions, Susan Blackmore makes a compelling case for the theory that the inner self is merely an illusion created by the memes for the sake of replication.

Wired for Thought

Author: Jeffrey M. Stibel
Publisher: Harvard Business Press
ISBN: 1422152766
Format: PDF, Docs
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In this age of hypercompetition, the Internet constitutes a powerful tool for inventing radical new business models that will leave your rivals scrambling. But as brain scientist and entrepreneur Jeffrey Stibel explains in Wired for Thought, you have to understand its true nature. The Internet is more than just a series of interconnected computer networks: it's the first real replication of the human brain outside the human body. To leverage its power, you first need to understand how the Internet has evolved to take on similarities to the brain. This engaging and provocative book provides the answer. Stibel lays out: - How networks have changed and what that implies for how people connect and form communities - What the Internet-and online business opportunities-will look like in the future - What the next stage of artificial intelligence will be and what opportunities it will present for businesses Stibel shows how exceptional companies are using their understanding of the Internet's brainlike powers to create competitive advantage-such as building more effective Web sites, predicting consumer behavior, leveraging social media, and creating a collective consciousness.

The Secret of Our Success

Author: Joseph Henrich
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400873290
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often failing to overcome even basic challenges, like obtaining food, building shelters, or avoiding predators. On the other hand, human groups have produced ingenious technologies, sophisticated languages, and complex institutions that have permitted us to successfully expand into a vast range of diverse environments. What has enabled us to dominate the globe, more than any other species, while remaining virtually helpless as lone individuals? This book shows that the secret of our success lies not in our innate intelligence, but in our collective brains—on the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from one another over generations. Drawing insights from lost European explorers, clever chimpanzees, mobile hunter-gatherers, neuroscientific findings, ancient bones, and the human genome, Joseph Henrich demonstrates how our collective brains have propelled our species' genetic evolution and shaped our biology. Our early capacities for learning from others produced many cultural innovations, such as fire, cooking, water containers, plant knowledge, and projectile weapons, which in turn drove the expansion of our brains and altered our physiology, anatomy, and psychology in crucial ways. Later on, some collective brains generated and recombined powerful concepts, such as the lever, wheel, screw, and writing, while also creating the institutions that continue to alter our motivations and perceptions. Henrich shows how our genetics and biology are inextricably interwoven with cultural evolution, and how culture-gene interactions launched our species on an extraordinary evolutionary trajectory. Tracking clues from our ancient past to the present, The Secret of Our Success explores how the evolution of both our cultural and social natures produce a collective intelligence that explains both our species' immense success and the origins of human uniqueness.