Start here!

The Memetics 101 section is divided into a series of articles, with accompanying glossary and suggestions for further reading. In this first section, I explain why genetics does not - cannot - explain the diversity of human society, and why we need to introduce the idea of a 'meme' as a carrier of ideas. It also looks at examples of memes in society and organisations, and introduces the idea of a 'test of universality' to determine whether something is carried by genes or by memes.

Read more: Start here!

An introduction to memes

In this second section of Memetics 101 we introduce the idea of a 'meme', which is an item of cultural or informational data which is transmitted by imitation. We look at the origin of the meme of 'memes', try to describe what memes are (and what they aren't), and why they make us what we are today

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The origin of memes

OK, so we accept that genes can't account for the diversity and richness of modern society. We've looked at the concept that there is another carrier for this richness, and for the sake of simplicity we will use Dawkins' term: meme. But where do these memes come from, how do they spread, and why aren't we all the same if we are equally exposed to them? Now read on!

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When you hear the term 'meme', you probably think of a joke, or a viral video, or a stupid cat picture circulating on the Internet. But almost everything you do, say, or think has been learned through imitation, and is therefore carried by memes. Complex structures - legal systems, cultures, religions and businesses - are created from sets of interlocking, self-supporting memes. And so the final section in Memetics 101 is the memeplex.

Read more: Memeplexes