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Whole meme thing is friggin ridiculous

  1. Dec 4, 2003 #1
    whole "meme" thing is friggin ridiculous

    First, let me state a personal bias: I think the whole "meme" thing is friggin ridiculous. All from a non-theory which was barely mentioned in one book? Now, on to the questions.

    Why use the word "meme" when we already had the perfectly good word "idea"? Is it not simply an attempt to gain fame and money by inventing a new word for something we already had? In what ways does "meme" differ from "idea", given that ideas are mental constructs or patterns or such which can be communicated between people, can spread, can be acted upon, et cetera?

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2003 #2


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    I believe the novel idea (heh) regarding memes is that it calls attention to how ideas evolve and spread according to the same principles as natural selection. Plus, while "idea" connotes a rather specific kind of mental event, a meme can be anything from a TV commercial jingle to a behavioral mannerism.
  4. Dec 5, 2003 #3


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    I think an idea is a dynamic process, it is something that happens and changes common thinking.

    A theory is an elaborate idea.

    While a meme is static, passed down generations. Static, but subject to mutations that is. You know that childs game, you start with a story and it is whispered in the ear from one child to the other, at the other end of the line the story has mutated, but it is still the same entity.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2003
  5. Dec 6, 2003 #4

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    Chinese Whispers its called.

    I think the point of calling them a meme is to create a dichotomy between the theoretical use of the concept, and the daily use of the word idea. For instance, when I say 'Meme' you know I am talking about the concept of ideas evolving, changing from person to person and spreading throughout the minds of people. If I say 'idea', then it is most likely that I am just talking about a single idea that I have just had or that someone else had. One creates a context of evolution, one creates a context completely seperate from evolution.

    And I jsut want to point out that although it started off as a brief mention at the back of a book, doesn't mean it has no basis. It isn't like people have gone "Oh my GOD, Richard Dawkins mentioned something, we have to worship it for no good reason". What has happened, is people saw this idea and went "Hey, you know, that's not a bad idea...let me think about that a little." Just because Dawkins took it no further, doesn't mean other people shouldn't.
  6. Dec 7, 2003 #5


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    Yeah, AFAIK, Dawkins has not presented memes as a new theory...just a speculation/hypothesis.
  7. Dec 7, 2003 #6
    It's also called the game of "Telephone".

    And thus the "meme" meme propagates...
  8. Dec 8, 2003 #7
    What about the "'meme' meme" meme?

    Seriously though, the fact that there are memes of memes makes this an imperfect analogy for the evolutionary workings of genes, doesn't it?
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