Hay Player

Susan Blackmore

The Meme Machine

Hay Festival 2000, 
Our minds are fashioned by memes just as our bodies are fashioned by genes. Memes are ideas, behaviours or skills passed on from person to person by imitation. Memes are replicators, and are all around us in our everyday lives, competing to get into our brains and minds. Examples include the way in which we copy ideas, behaviours, inventions, songs, ctchphrases and stories from one another. Memetics can explain why we talk and think so much, why religious, cults and ideologies have such power over us, and how our telephones, televisions and computers could have been designed for the replication of memes. Memetic competition shapes our minds and culture, just as natural selection has designed our bodies.