The Meme Machine – Susan Blackmore

The Meme Machine - Susan BlackmoreSusan Blackmore explains the theory of memes; what they are and how they affect us. She suggests that memes are as intertwined with recent human evolution as genes, explaining much of our strange behaviour and our huge brains.

I’m sure this will upset a lot of people due to the suggestion we are at the mercy of the memes and that they basically control us. With a good understanding of memes, you see the modern world in a interesting light. You begin to see more clearly why people gossip, why everyone wants to have David Beckham’s hairstyle and why people waste their entire lives following an illogical, pointless and largely suspicious religion, like Christianity for example.

It finishes quite philosophically and perhaps depressingly, suggesting that conciousness is actually a meme itself and our idea of self is false; that we’re just sacks of meat processing evolving memes. I think this is coming close to the science behind Zen Buddhism (which I’m also currently coincidentally reading about), with some suggested ‘ignore the memes’ tests sound very much like zazen techniques.

The author, who perhaps realises many people will reject any idea that clashes with their faith in ‘free will’, finishes up with some sentimental bullshit. Ignore this bit.

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