A meme, a meme, my kingdom for a meme.

Roger  had asked, simply, “wtf is a meme?”

And Scott  replied that it is: “a trendy thing of sorts involving a person or group ranging from a wide variety of selective areas that passes around the internet. they are normally intended to impart humour about said persons or groups. at least, that’s what I’ve gathered. The technical definition is still nebulous to me.”

Roger  Like an image? Shouldst we worship graven memes??

Scott  Can be. It can be a video too I believe.

Aye, an altar should be made with the sacred meme at its head, so thine and my families, and their children, and their children’s children can pay their due respects to the glorious meme that dost give our lives purpose.

Raymond  Ummm, a meme has purpose?

Scott  Meme is purpose, comrade.

Raymond Like the selfish meme?

Scott I reduce your question of late to “does purpose have a purpose?” And that is a very good question. I thought Roger was referring to the cyber-meme thing being tossed around hither and thither on the internet.

Raymond  Oh I don’t mind. Was it Dawkins who ‘invented’ it? I never bothered to understand its definition.

Roger  I think its definition is self-promotion of the inventor. It has no other purpose.

Raymond  Ah. He is not shy of promoting purpose when evolution seems to be missing that ingredient!

Scott  Raymond, I couldn’t tell you man. I honestly don’t know what the general consensus is on the definition of “meme”. I do think that Dawkins was the first to use the word, for reasons completely unrelated to what we are discussing meme for. I actually think Game Theory was where is was first used.

Roger  Any idea has survival potential. “Memetics” is just a cheap play on that idea. I want someone to tell me that the idea has value.

Raymond  Not me. I really don’t see any value in it before or since knowing what it is or was. Good question though.

Stevie  It is the cultural equivalent of a gene but involves the transferance and replication of a human idea orconcept over time and through generations. It’s an element of a culture or a behaviour that may be passed from one individual to another by non-genetic means, especially by imitation. [This is what one might describe as the meme “replicating, I guess.]

Unfortunately [Do we need this moral judgement here?] the term has fallen into IT-online-pop culture and can also mean an image, video, etc. that is passed electronically from one Internet user to another.

Raymond  Could it be a compound value of ‘me’, as in me+me?

Or mexme?

Scott  you are a smart one, Raymond.

Raymond Thanks. Not knowing its value means there is no fog surrounding it….

Scott  I see what you meme.

Edmund  A meme is a quantum of culture. For example, there are people who like to look at pictures of cats on the Internet. The whole cat thing is considered to be a meme because it’s a fairly self contained activity which defines us, to some small extent.

Roger  Nice one, Ed. It could be a theme (the cat thing, that is) so what’s the difference ‘tween meme and theme?

Edmund  Inherent in the word meme is the fact that people engage themselves with this particular theme.

Raymond Harris Hmmm. I tried the word ‘meme’ on my wife to test her reaction. She glared at me and asked was I feeling all right..

Roger Chapman We must ask ourselves whether

“Inherent in the word theme is the fact that people engage themselves with this particular meme”

carries the same truth value.

I think Christine would give me one of her blank stares, before choosing whether to ignore me or make a pronouncement.

Raymond  I suppose the cat culture is a progression from Dawkins referring to his administrators as Cat Herders. It established a pecking order where he was the Chief Pecker.

Roger  Did he really? I wondered why that was such a common idea five years ago on the Dawkgroup.

Raymond  I really didn’t pay much attention to it, but had a strange feeling he was establishing a position above his ‘minions’ who were only too happy to do his work for him, and to take the flak that HE should have been participating in. Not once did he post a comment. But I did respect the admins.


  1. A meme is an idea, a behaviour, or a style that spreads from person to person within a culture.
  2. 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. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.
  3. The word meme is a shortening, modelled on gene, of mimeme from Ancient Greek mīmēma, “imitated thing”, from mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from mimos “mime”.
  4. It was coined by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976) 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, catch-phrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.
  5. Proponents theorize that memes 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 influence a meme’s reproductive success.
  6. Memes spread through the behaviour that they generate in their hosts. [So they are parasitic in this definition. Can we please use “symbiotic partners” in future?!]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. [Cunningly left without an example. OK, I’ll find one – suicide bombing!]
  7. A field of study called memetics  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, recent, modern developments in neuroimaging may actually make such  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. [But these are only social scientists so, hey, we can ignore them, no?]
  9. However, and finally, others, including Dawkins himself, have argued that this usage of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal. [Well tough, Richard. You lost control of the meme meme as soon as it left your quill.]

(Derived from Wiki)

Raymond  Wow! Thanks, Timathie. So, if memes are a cultural thing that is shared, it hardly entitles itself to be scientific, as it is not observable and dissectable…… don’t you think? [He tailed off, speculatively and oh so wrong!]

Roger  My criticisms:

1 – “an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.”

ALL ideas, behaviours or styles are capable of spreading from person to person within a culture. If they weren’t then no-one would be talking about this here. [So why is this a criticism, Roger?]

2 – “A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices”

A symbol is representative of an idea or of a component of an idea which may be imitated, as practices may be imitated. But is there anything to be gained by conflating ideas and practices, since all ideas are ideas of something, including practices.

The best we seem to end up with is that a meme is an imitated behavioural component. I shall think about this. It may be that there’s some worth to that idea.

Stevie  Memetics is a theory of mental content based on analogy with genetics in Darwinian evolution. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memetics

Roger  “Susan Blackmore (2002) re-stated the definition of meme as: whatever is copied from one person to another person, whether habits, skills, songs, stories, or any other kind of information. Further she said that memes, like genes, are replicators in the sense as defined by Dawkins. That is, they are information that is copied. Memes are copied by imitation, teaching and other methods.”

Yes, she seems correct. This thread is most informative and interesting.

David  So … What’s a troll?

Chris  David, a troll is clearly a meme and acts as a useful handle to describe folk or agencies that operate in a destructive, blocking, drowning etc manner in internetted situations.

The corollary is, of course, not true, although I’m sure particular memes could be made to function in that manner!

I just love the irony that Dawkin’s original concept has itself mutated, and will doubtless continue to do so. I look forward to it’s morphing into religious regalia so coming back to bite its very creator!

David  Is that (a picture posted of a young Roger) a wilder Boris Johnson? Oh the shame!

Elizabeth  Me! Me! or meme for short describes the mind set of an attention-seeking egoist :0)

Elizabeth  Me! Me! or meme for short describes the mind set of an attention-seeking egoist :0)

Elizabeth  Me! Me! or meme for short describes the mind set of an attention-seeking egoist :0)

Stevie  I shall say this thrice states Elizabeth until my meming is understood….. Step away from the enter key Liz

Chris  You could say “self” is a meme of exaggerated importance. But you’d probably be thrown out or ignored for being too serious, too early in the day!

Boris Johnson is an irritating me-mememe.

Andy  A meme is simply an ‘idea’ (part of subjective consciousness) that is shared that takes on an objective existence by that act of sharing.

Meme’s can be ANY ‘idea’ or ‘concept’ that is shared, they can have huge importance or none at all, they can be profound or whimsical, true or pure fiction, fact or pseudo-fact…. None of which actually matters as all that matters is the sharing of the idea/concept.

I consider meme’s to be the base unit of our shared consciousness, EVERYTHING we share is an aspect of memes in action.

Chris  “My, he is so boring – he hasn’t got a single meme in his brain”

“I had a great night at the club – there were memes flying about all over the place”

“A meme, a meme, my kingdom for a meme”

Timathie  Raymond, I would say that a meme is observable and dissectable.

Chris  “OK, OK,OK, now see this on the operating table now. What is it Boyce Junior? What, what, speak up! Yes, that’s utterly correct – I have a fresh meme, which you can all see in front of you this morning.

“Nurse – scalpel. OK, OK, now watch whilst I make this first incision and then pull it open. What do you see inside, eh? Smithers?”

I wonder, can you breed memes? And what about feral memes and free range, organic memes? Can you trap them in the wild? Could there be memezoos or musememes?

What’s an average one called? That’s right – a mean meme, which is also used, of course, for unsettling examples.

I bet you wished you hadn’t asked, Roger. Hey, d’you reckon that YOU are a cryptomeme? I wouldn’t ask!

Raymond  To be, or not to be: that is the meme:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of memes,

And by opposing end them?

To die: to sleep;

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to meme: ay, there’s the rub;

For in that sleep of death what memes may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause: there’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life;

For who would bear the memes and scorns of memery,

The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,

The insolence of office and the memes

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? me n me for all eternity..

~~ wif apologies and memes to Auld Wullie Memespeare.

Chris  Ameme to that!

Raymond  Methinks ’tis not the intent to meme the meme that be

But render thought that brings all things to nought

As memes arrive in regimented serried ranks

That, woe betide the merry souls that shirk

Their duties to the rank and file

That sporting summered skins do glow

With fire and buttered skin do suffer

Their memes to shine in rain and sun

Within their narrow confines and meme to meme

Do whisper sweet nothings that meme so much to me

And mine, and yours who has no meme to be

That which a meme is memeingless and free

From speech and purport long lost in language and misuse..

‘Twas memt to be..

Raymond  You did ask, Roger. All you meme now is a dead ‘orse.

Annelise  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

Chris  Finally – the meming of life.

Roger  I think someone already posted that wiki link didn’t they? I think it’s pretty unconvincing.

Chris  No Stevie posted the memetics link which, as you suggest Roger, is over-conceptualisation.

It shows quite clearly, if I pick up an oft utilised memic device, that no matter how many academics you have, they will never change the lightbulb as, whenever the task is embarked upon, one will attempt to redefine the bulb and another will argue that we cannot accurately determine where the bulb should go whilst still more will continue to blur the operation by adding further parameters for detailed pre-analysis.

This is why most academics work almost exclusively in the dark.

Annelise   Posted a big smile!


About greencentre

Non grant supported hence independent scientist, green activist, writer and forest planter.
This entry was posted in Memes, Memetics, Scientific method. Bookmark the permalink.

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