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The Book of Common Sense,
This review is from: The Meme Machine (Hardcover)
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the term 'meme' to surpass the lexicon of phrases previously used to convey cultural ideas. "Shibboleth" is, of course, too 'foreign' for the WASP mind to grasp intuitively. "Myth" is nice and brief, but again has been relegated to minor considerations. It's something 'pagan' or out of time. "Cultural icon" conjures up images of rock stars or charismatic politicians. "Meme" has the advantages of universality; it's easy to remember, and isn't carrying any prior cultural overtones. In an age of fast moving technologies, 'meme' is timely - after all, how many readers here haven't heard something about genetic research. It's only shortcoming is the hesitation one hears when others are trying to say it: is it 'meem' or 'meemee'. The former is correct, of course, but you might have to have read Dawkins first to pick up on that.
Alien abductions and Near Death Experiences as expressions of memeplexes, complex, irrational memes. In 'Religions As Memeplexes' Blackmore explains how memes modify the genetic mechanism for altruism among kin by extending benificence to those who are 'like us'. This give great strength to religious memes, extending their influence over disparate groups. Religious memes did not set out to be successful, they have no more ability to foresee the future than do genes. Religious memes flourish in a given environment, with group selection rising above selection of individuals. The link of memetics to genetics and the reinforcing feedback loop of their interaction is the basis for successful religions.
It's a useful exercise to read this book in company with Richard Brodie's VIRUS OF THE MIND. Where Blackmore takes Dawkins' idea and fleshes it out with additional background information, Brodie applies practical applications of how memes impact our lives, and what, if anything, the reader might wish to do about that.
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Initial post: 9 Jul 2012 18:53:19 BDT
Eileen Shaw says:
An excellent introduction to the book and all it exemplifies. But I do wonder what happened to the terms "to have impact upon, or to have impact on something? Again and again I see impact (which has another meaning - as in the phrase, an impacted tooth) used as a verb. It feels ugly to me to lose the sense of "impacted on" and confuse with the sense of impact as a means of crushing cars into tin squares etc, after all I never do impact when I meet something harder than me.
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