Tuesday, 21 December 2010


Some ideas are more virulent than others. Popular culture has come to refer to the most infectious ideas as "memes". However, this term seems unsuitable for more technical discussion of the topic - since the term "meme" is already taken. There is the term "internet meme". However, that doesn't really say what we mean here.

I think that popular usage fairly clearly indicates that there is demand for a term to refer to highly contagious ideas. I think they should be called "supermemes".

A rather obvious way of classifying memes is according to how popular they are. So, following metric-system conventions, we might call memes with more than a million existing copies "megamemes" and memes with more than a billion existing copies "gigamemes". In the future, we may see "teramemes".

However, for an umbrella term to refer to "very popular" memes, I think "supermemes" is the best term. Supermemes may be highly contagious, very persistent - or preferably both.

It seems likely that the culture of today is relatively poor at occuping human brains - compared to what will be possible in the future. So maybe most of the "supermemes" are yet to come. However, it seems as though there is no point in reserving the term for future use. Some of today's memes are "super" enough.

I note that others have previously used the term. For example, Rebecca Costa says:
Supermemes are ideas that have such strong support or opposition that the mere mention of them clouds peoples' thinking or prevents people from even looking at alternatives.
That's close to my proposed usage. We both have the basic underlying idea of a powerful, successful meme.

One possible problem is the mismatch with the concept of a Supergene. It looks to me as though that one should yield. It seems generally better if "super" refers to fitness rather than mere size.

Justin Bieber is more popular than god

Google and Facebook have been more popular than god for a while now.

Research shows that The Beatles were never more popular than Jesus. However, these days, god is being eclipsed by mere mortals.

In 2010, some celebrities (Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga) became more popular than god:

Justin is more popular - at least temporarily - according to Google's metrics.

As the graphs show God and Jesus combined may still hold their own over the world of mortals (holy trinity win!) - though this situation may not last for much longer.

However, Google and Facebook make god look insignificant:

Google have their own shrine: The Church of Google - for those who want to pray to something that actually exists, and might even answer.

A previous analysis of the "justin vs god" phenomenon may be found here.

2016 update - multiple news articles have now covered this story - e.g. CNET.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Google Ngram Viewer

Google have released their Ngram Viewer - which allows sequences of up to five words to be tracked in their enormous database of scanned books.

Here are some more sample searches.

The tool seems likely to be a useful one for students of cultural evolution.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

YouTube Trends

YouTube try their hand at a viral video - to launch their new "trends" blog.

"You know it's viral when you get it from your mommy".

Memology is not a word!

Facebook have recently been attempting to coin a new term, "memology".

They define "memology" here as follows:

"Memology" refers to the study of how "memes," or new ideas and trends, are spreading on Facebook.
Sorry, Facebook, "memology" is not a word. It is an attempt at marketing - and one of those nasty ones that pollutes the language.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Ed Wilson endorses memes

Here's me reading from Ed Wilson - discussing memes:

The notion of a cultural unit, the most basic element of all, has been around for over 30 years, and has been dubbed by different authors variously as mnemotype, idea, idene, meme, sociogene, concept, culturgen and culture type. The one label that has caught on the most, and for which I now vote to be the winner, is meme, introduced by Richard Dawkins in his influential work The Selfish Gene in 1976.

- Ed Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, (1998, p.149).

Google Insights for Search

Following up on my previous blog post regarding the popularity of the term "meme", Google has now launched Google Insights for Search.

This new tool lets you do many things that Google trends never did.

Without further ado, here's a static snapshot of the graph for "meme":

...and here's the graph for "memes":

However, now here's the graph for "memetic":

...and here's the graph for "memetics":

While memes are doing well, the science of memes is not. Sad times.

Anyway, Google Insights for Search is also a great new way for tracking meme trends - for those who are interested in that sort of thing.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Memes

A new book - The Complete Idiot's Guide to Memes - by John Gunders and Damon Brown - is out now. Blurb:
Memes are "viruses of the mind"-symbols, ideas, or practices that are transmitted through speech, gestures, and rituals. Understanding how symbols like the peace sign or ad slogans like "Where's the beef?" or viral videos become part of our common culture has become a primary focus of sales and marketing companies across the globe. The Complete Idiot's Guide(r) to Memes explains how memes work, how they spread, and what memes tell us about how we make sense of our world.

  • First book to cover all types of memes, including viral memes in the digital age

  • Features the Most Influential Memes in History and the Ten Biggest Internet Memes
  • The author has a blog: http://thememesofproduction.org/

    There is a review: here.

    I think it is good that there is now an official "Idiot's Guide" to memes. Now, when people ask me particularly stupid questions about memes and memetics, I have somewhere suitably patronising to refer them to.

    Thursday, 11 November 2010

    Darwin's Conjecture - a new book

    A new book: Darwin's Conjecture: The Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution - by Geoffrey M. Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen - is due out soon.

    Amazon page. Author's site.

    Of paramount importance to the natural sciences, the principles of Darwinism, which involve variation, inheritance, and selection, are increasingly of interest to social scientists as well. But no one has provided a truly rigorous account of how the principles apply to the evolution of human society—until now.

    In Darwin’s Conjecture, Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen reveal how the British naturalist’s core concepts apply to a wide range of phenomena, including business practices, legal systems, technology, and even science itself. They also critique some prominent objections to applying Darwin to social science, arguing that ultimately Darwinism functions as a general theoretical framework for stimulating further inquiry. Social scientists who adopt a Darwinian approach, they contend, can then use it to frame and help develop new explanatory theories and predictive models.

    This truly pathbreaking work at long last makes the powerful conceptual tools of Darwin available to the social sciences and will be welcomed by scholars and students from a range of disciplines.
    It sounds promising.

    The introduction appears to be online here. The author has a web site here.

    Friday, 29 October 2010

    Carl Zimmer & Paul Ehrlich discuss cultural evolution

    Carl Zimmer & Paul Ehrlich discuss cultural evolution on bloggingheads.tv.

    Here, Paul Ehrlich describes what he thinks is wrong with memetics.

    To summarise, he thinks the main problem is that mutations are (more-or-less) random in genetic evolution - while they are directed in cultural evolution.

    Alas, nobody ever thought that mutations were random in memetics.

    That was never a tenent of meme theory in the first place.

    The basic idea of memetics and memetic evolution is that copying with variation and differential reproductive success of culture results in evolution and cumulative adaptations.

    Nobody ever claimed that the variations have to be made at random.

    Alas, Paul has previously rather seriously incriminated himself in this area in print by saying:

    Among humans, genes can only pass unidirectionally from one generation to the next (vertically), normally through intimate contact. But ideas (or “memes”) now regularly pass between individuals distant from each other in space and time, within generations, and even backwards through generations. Through mass media or the Internet, a single individual can influence millions of others within a very short period of time.

    In fact cold virus genes pass between individuals of the same generation and from offspring to parent. Hepatatis B is a hardy virus that can exist on almost any surface for up to one month, and so can be transmitted by mail - and viruses can spread from one person to many - in what is commonly known as a pandemic. So, the while the relationship between the cultural and organic realms looks pretty close in these respects, it is clear that Paul is criticising memetics without being very familiar with its basic concepts.

    Bernie Hogan - The Social Structure of (Memetic) Diffusion

    The Social Structure of (Memetic) Diffusion - by Bernie Hogan.

    This video is from the 2008 conference Memory, Social Networks, and Language: Probing the Meme Hypothesis II.

    Paul Higgs - Is it Good to Share?

    Is it Good to Share? The Parallel between Information Transfer and Horizontal Gene Transfer - by Paul G. Higgs.

    This video is from the 2008 conference Memory, Social Networks, and Language: Probing the Meme Hypothesis II.

    Robert Finkelstein - What is a Meme?

    What is a Meme: A Functional Definition - by Robert Finkelstein.

    This video is from the 2008 conference Memory, Social Networks, and Language: Probing the Meme Hypothesis II.

    Keith Stanovich - Rationality, Evolution, and the Meme Concept

    Rationality, Evolution, and the Meme Concept - by Keith Stanovich.

    This video is from the 2007 conference Imitation, Memory and Cultural Changes: Probing the Meme Hypothesis.

    I disagree with Keith Stanovich about many things - and he says some strange things in this video (memes have no phenotypes, what?!?) - but he speaks articulately and fairly competently slams meme critics here.

    Wednesday, 27 October 2010

    Meme Warfare Centre

    More on the US military's interest in memetics:

    The Meme Warfare Center offers a more complex and intellectually rich capability absent in current IO, PsyOps and SC formations and is specifically designed to combat the enemy’s sophistication as highlighted above. The emerging tools to win the metaphysical fight are memes. Managing, employing and leveraging memetic power is key for the US to shape and win on future battlefields."
    The US must recognize the growing need for emerging disciplines in ideological warfare by ‘weaponeering’ memes. The Meme Warfare Center offers sophisticated and intellectually rich capability absent in current IO, PsyOps and SC formations and is specifically designed to conduct combat inside the mind of the enemy. Memes are key emerging tools to win the ideological metaphysical fight.
    I am reminded of this one:

    Tuesday, 26 October 2010

    Donald T. Campbell papers now online

    Google have kept up with their book scanning. One of the books they scanned contains:

    These papers are both in Evolutionary epistemology, rationality, and the sociology of knowledge - a book by Gerard Radnitzky, William Warren Bartley and Karl Raimund Popper.

    Donald T. Campbell is known as the father of evolutionary epistemology.

    He came up with the idea of Blind Variation and Selective Retention.

    The issue of the significance and applicability of this concept is probably one of the more challenging issues for those attempting to understand cultural evolution.

    These papers are tough going on the reader - but they do have significant historical importance.

    Memetics compendium

    As part of the "military memetics" project, Dr. Robert Finkelstein has apparently used some of the dollars the department of defense sent his way to compile a huge body of existing scientific papers on memetics into an enormous volume, and publish it "for free" on the internet - in the form of the Memetics Compendium.

    It runs to 14Mb - and 1680 pages!!!

    The release notes say:
    The basic purpose of the Compendium is to provide an indication of the prospective value of memetics to the U.S. military for conventional and asymmetric operations, including counter-terrorism.
    Whoah! The next time someone tells me memetics isn't a science - and hasn't produced anything of value - I think I'll tell them to go and read the Memetics Compendium - and to tell me that again when they have finished it.

    The Compendium apparently pays scant attention to international copyright law. For instance it has the entire text of chapter 11 of The Selfish Gene.

    So - it may not stay up forever - but for the moment, you can download your copy now!

    Military memetics

    It had to happen one day! The US military have their own memetics project!

    One Dr. Robert Finkelstein has been apparently been running the project since 2006 under the sponsorship of the department of defense.

    Perpare to have all your memes weaponised!

    They have a web site and a presentation document, ...which explains their mission. The presentation style of this is rather zany. To quote from it:
    • To develop a new approach to
    • Countering terrorists and insurgents beforeand afterthey become terrorists and insurgents: influencing beliefs in a scientific way
    • Preventing irrational conflict and promoting rational solutions to national and international problems
    • Strengthening the U.S. military in

      • Peacekeeping missions
      • Psychological operations
      • Recruitment
      • Training

    • To make new discoveries concerning the human brain, cognition, and social networks
    The web site also says:
    The attempt to establish a scientific basis for memetics is critically important. For example, within a suitable memetics framework could be the means to prevent irrational conflict and promote rational solutions to endemic national and international problems. Of course, without safeguards memetics can become a double-edged sword.
    Right on.


    Sunday, 24 October 2010

    Meme poster

    Here's a "meme poster" which I found down the back of the internet. Enjoy,

    Saturday, 23 October 2010

    Animated GIFs

    I have noticed that quite a few online RSS readers pass animated GIFs through - including popular ones like Netvibes. Many common blog feeds pass them through as well. However, so far, I haven't seen too many people using animated GIFs in my RSS news feeds.

    They are probably pretty attention grabbing. Advertisers have a long history of using them - and using animation has been shown to attract a larger percentage of user clicks. So maybe more people will be using them to promote their content via RSS feeds in the future.

    For most of this year, this page has been one of the most popular pages on this blog. Since there isn't very much here - besides that animated GIF - that seems to add support to the hypothesis.

    Wednesday, 20 October 2010

    The evolution of the term "meme"

    Richard Dawkins coined the term "meme" in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. He defined it to refer to a "unit of cultural transmission".

    However, these days, for many people, the term "meme" has taken on a narrower meaning. It has come to be used as an abbreviation for "internet meme" - which is a term most frequently used to refer to a piece of highly viral (but usually rather frivolous) culture which is shared frequently on the internet.

    As Tom Michael put it:

    It's ironic that the term "meme" has spread much more widely as a term relating to internet silliness than as a general unit of cultural exchange. It had to mutate into a faster-reproducing form in order to be widely known about.

    Sometimes the frivolous internet culture is described as being a "meme", as it is being passed around. In such cases, the term "meme" has become a kind of meta-meme - which spreads due to its association with the viral culture which it is associated with.

    In biology, there is the concept of "linkage". This causes the fate of genes to be associated with the fate of their neighbouring genes. Some genes can us this effect to spread - because they are near other genes which are favourably selected for. This is commonly known as genetic hitchhiking.

    The term "meme" is doing some hitchhiking of its own these days, spreading by virtue of its association with the highly-viral content which it has come to be associated with.

    Tim Tyler - Memetics

    I've put together a prototype cover for my proposed 2011 book.

    The title and subtitle are provisional - and the artwork isn't anywhere near finished - but it illustrates the kind of thing I am considering.

    For the second prototype cover, see: here

    For the third prototype cover, see: here

    Saturday, 16 October 2010

    Matt Ridley - Ideas having sex

    Ridley writes that "whole economies evolve by natural selection", that "ideas have sex" and he talks explicitly about "cultural evolution".

    More videos from Matt are collected on this group.

    Friday, 15 October 2010

    Introduction to memes video

    15 minutes of the basics. Gets a few points from me for mentioning the possibility of a memetic takeover.

    The rise of the meme

    "Meme" is by far the most popular name for a contagious idea.

    Today, the Memetic Explosion continues to gather pace. In fact, memes are exploding!

    Here is a graph from Google Trends which illustrates its progress so far:

    History of "Meme" searches [Current image]

    History of "Meme" searches [Current image]

    Archived images - from 2010:

    History of "Meme" searches [December 2010]

    History of "Meme" searches [source]

    Ray Scott Percival lectures on memes

    Ray Scott Percival lectures on memes:

    This is a bit on the boring side, and has a fair bit of philosophical mumbo-jumbo.

    The author tries to knock down memetics and present his own "anti-materialistic" theory of cultural inheritance. This is not an approach which I am very sympathetic towards.

    Wednesday, 25 August 2010

    Memetics still misunderstood

    One of the more interesting aspects of Sue Blackmore's latest piece on "Temes" in the New York Times blog is the comment section.

    Not for the insightful comments - there didn't seem to be too many of those. Rather for the way commenters repeatedly slammed memetics and the whole idea of cultural evolution. For example:

    If you want to coin a new term, that's fine; but just don't pretend it's an extension of evolutionary theory / natural selection; the constraints, characteristics, and initial conditions present in evolutionary theory vis-a-vis 'memetics,' are so different as to make a connection between the two inapplicable, not to mention empirically inappropriate.

    When will these writers realize that analogy is not argument? One can draw an analogy between human brians and computers, between biological processes like evolution and internet. So what? These analogies neither explain nor predict anything.


    Unfortunately the "meme" idea is based on an interesting analogy, not proper quantitative analysis. Perhaps the easiest way to see this is to realise that it does not provide new insights into hitherto mysterious facts, but merely re-describes them in metaphorical terms. For example, the nature of the copying process, and above all of the supposed "mistakes", is not specified.

    ...and so on.

    Sue has a follow-up piece there as well - and the comments are much the same.

    Memetics seems central to understanding the position of humans in the natural world - and yet it is one of the most ignored, misunderstood, and maligned areas of science.

    Some heads need banging together, I figure.

    Susan Blackmore's "temes"


    "Temes" is a term coined by Susan Blackmore.

    As I am making this video, Susan has recently published her latest piece on "Temes" in the New York Times, following up her previous material on the topic on TED in New Scientist and her own web site.

    Her "temes" are named by analogy with memes and genes - and the term "teme" means - roughly - "technological meme".

    Here is Susan at TED explaining the term:

    The concept of "teme" - neatly illustrates some of the basic principles of cultural evolution.

    * Inheritance: "teme" is descended from "meme" - which is in turn descended from "gene".

    * Variation: "teme" is not an identical copy of "meme" - but differs from it in both spelling and meaning.

    Lastly, there is the idea of "differential reproductive success". That raises the issue of what the fitness of the "teme" concept is likely to be.

    It is hard to say for sure, but I think it would be somewhat surprising if very many people bought into this terminology.

    The need for terminology to describe "temes" apparently arises mainly out of the idea that "memes" are defined as being ideas that are copied via imitation.

    That definition apparently results in a range of unclassified cultural replicators - in the form of culture that is copied by machines - tape recorders, optical media, disc drives, solid state media - etc. There the copying does not happen via behavioural imitation, but rather via mechanical equipment.

    Susan seems to be the world's foremost proponent of that definition of "meme". It apparently defines huge swathes of modern culture as being a type of replicator without a name. So - Susan feels the need of a new term more acutely than most.

    One problem is that so few appear to have bought into Susan's definition of a meme in the first place. Certainly to me, memes are units of culture - and it doesn't seem too critical exactly how they are copied around. A definition of meme based on copying via imitation leaves out lots of animal traditions that are transmitted in other ways - and also leaves out a lot of modern human culture, which are copied by machines, without behavioural imitation.

    I prefer an umbrella definition of the term "meme". Dividing culture which is transmitted via behavioural imitation from other types of culture using the definition of meme seems profoundly bad to me - it leaves us with no name for the category of all cultural replicators - and that category seems far more fundamental and significant than the concept of cultural replicators tha work via behavioural imitation.

    To me - and as far as I can tell - to practically everyone else concerned - "temes" are just a kind of "meme". Susan said she used to refer to them as such as well.

    It is no surprise that Susan is the one who is looking for new terminology in this area. From her point of view there are lots of unchristened replicators around. Also, she can't call the brain a "meme organ" and call computers "meme machines" - since she already used the term "meme machine" to refer to the brain.

    A problem with attempting a classification scheme that distinguishes between human and mechanical copying is that a lot of human culture doesn't seem to mind very much exactly how it is copied. An idea can be copied by a human, copied by machines and then return to the human domain again. The idea that whether something is a "teme" or a "meme" depends on what agent happens to be copying it at the time seems rather awkward.

    Bringing intelligent machines into the definition doesn't help. Yes, humans and intelligent machines are likely to operate on some different types of content - but there will be plenty of crossover initially - a series of shades of grey between human-readable content and machine-readable content. It seems as though there will be no hard line between "memes" and "temes" - making the area a challenging zone in which to make category divisions.

    As far as terminology goes, it is bad enough that we have genes and memes - and genetics and memetics. "Memetics" is the "genetics" of ideas, and most of its concepts are ones that are shared with genetics. Terminology triplication - in the form of "Temetics" - seems like overkill to me.

    It is true that there are some differences in dynamics between humans copying each others' ideas and machines doing so. Machines tend to speak to each other in their own computer languages, that are often challenging for humans to comprehend. So: the distinction has some virtues.

    Susan Blackmore originally coined the term, and currently is one of the few people who talks about temes.

    Everybody likes to invent terminology, and it is nice to contribute to the language. However, there are overheads associated with inventing new terminology. It creates jargon. I am not convinced that the term "temes" is more positive than negative.

    Sorry Sue!


    Tuesday, 9 March 2010

    Martine Rothblatt's "bemes"

    Bemes are fundamental, transmissible, mutate-able units of beingness very much in the spirit of memes. The difference is that memes are culturally transmissible elements that have common cultural meanings whereas bemes are highly individual elements of personality, mannerisms, feelings, recollections, beliefs, values, and attitudes.

    - http://beta2.kurzweilai.net/on-genes-memes-bemes-and-conscious-things

    Bemes do not evolve in an extended evolutionary process today - but in the future, they could do.

    I've previously referred to a similar concept by the term "intracranial memes".

    Neither my terminology nor Rothblatt's is ideal since - for one thing - these entities don't normally reproduce and evolve. When eventually they do, a "replicator" label may become more appropriate - but at that stage, this should probably still be "meme".

    Monday, 8 March 2010

    An incohorent rant against cultural evolution

    Mark Signorelli has published a long, incohorent rant against cultural evolution:Taking Memes Seriously

    A number of responses may be found on richarddawkins.net.

    If you click - be warned that Mark's article is terrible!

    Friday, 12 February 2010

    Weaponizing Cultural Viruses

    Aaron Muszalski discusses how to preserve hacker culture:

    Wednesday, 10 February 2010

    Dan Zarrella: Social Media Scientist

    Dan Zarrella has been applying memetics to marketing for a while now - and he has some interesting results.

    His home page: http://danzarrella.com/

    Two lectures by Dan:

    The Science of Social Media Marketing.

    O'Reilly Webcast: Science of Social Media.

    Interview with Dan:

    Dan Zarrella of HubSpot on the Etiquette and Currency of Retweets

    Dan also has a popular article entitled Report: Nine Scientifically Proven Ways to Get Retweeted on Twitter

    Sunday, 3 January 2010

    Dawkins discusses memes

    Richard Dawkins talks to Thunderf00t about memes.

    Saturday, 2 January 2010

    New "memetic takeover" article

    The article is titled:

    "Synthetic Existence - We'll live on... not through our genes but through our memes."


    This is a rather weak blog post, full of pictures and short on substance - but it indicates that the idea of a modern memetic takeover may be gradually becoming more mainstream.

    Cultural diffusion

    One complaint some anthropologists have made about memetics is that practitioners ignored previous work on the topic.

    To quote from Engaging anthropology: the case for a public presence By Thomas Hylland Eriksen
    Anthropologists have noted, with some irritation that none of the leading advocates of memetics discuss earlier work on cultural diffusion, which is very considerable.

    The accusation is probably correct. So, a few brief words from me about cultural diffusion.

    First a couple of popular articles on the subject - to provide some context:



    To a certain extent, the issue is one of terminology.

    Memetics replaces the concept of cultural diffusion with cultural epidemiology - the idea that ideas spread contagiously - like mind viruses - and that epidemiology is a more appropriate metaphor than diffusion was.

    On the positive side, terminology based on epidemiology captures the ideas of cultural immunity, vectors, resistance, rapid evolution and pathogenic infections well. On the other hand, it is hard to spell, and tends to suggest ideas are more pathogenic than they are beneficial symbionts - which is not necessarily accurate.

    Diffusion tends to conjur up the idea of physical diffusion processes (such as gas diffusion) more. It fails to capture the dynamic, biological side of the process. There is no hint that the ideas might evolve. On a more positive note, it is more neutral about whether the culture is beneficial or harmful to the DNA it coexists with.

    I don't think there is much of a contest really. The memetics terminology is much better. The anthropological terminology seems to have been largely abandoned by anthropologists since then as well.

    So: the idea of cultural diffusion was a rather weak one - let it die off naturally.

    Susan Blackmore video from 2005

    Susan Blackmore video on "The Future of Memetics" - which is all about memes - from 2005:

    Susan Blackmore (2005) PopTech Pop!Cast from PopTech.

    There's a Q&A at the end of this talk - which is available as audio only here - but there is not much about memes in it.

    More memes on YouTube

    fishingmemes is a new YouTube channel, with armchair philosophy about memetics. Not very advanced - but not too bad. 6 videos on the subject so far. Perhaps start with the introduction:

    Dual Inheritance Theory

    For an introduction to "Dual Inheritance Theory" (DIT), see the page on Wikipedia titled Dual inheritance theory.

    This is basically Memetics without the "M" word from my perspective - and since one of the primary points of memetics is to provide some nice terminology for those who study cultural evolution, I think that sucks.

    The page contains a list of differences between DIT and memetics.

    It claims memetics focuses on replicators, while DIT allows looser forms of cultural transmission. A complete theory of cultural evolution should obviously include those systems with low-fidelity transmission. They are evidently capable of cumulative adaptations, if used in conjunction with error correction.

    However, IMO, memetics doesn't insist on high fidelity transmission, any more than genetics does. Rather what is needed for cumulative adaptations is Shannon mutual information between ancestors and distant descendants. High mutation rates don't invalidate evolutionary theory. They are just high mutation rates. That is true for both genetic and cultural evolution - for both genetics and memetics.

    The idea that memetics is concerned with high fidelity replicators probably comes from Richard Dawkins - since he says things rather like that.

    The idea that genetics is concerned with high fidelity replicators probably comes from the idea that genetics is the study of DNA - which is usually a high-fidelity replicator in biology. However, I take a broader perspective. Biology is the study of life - but that doesn't just include organisms made of DNA. It includes all living things, everywhere - including aliens, and virtual life, and future synthetic life. Genetics is the study of inheritance in living things. That need not necessarily involve high fidelity transmission of data - though it had better involve high fidelity transmission of information, or cumulative adaptations (and life) are impossible.

    So, the idea that memetics is tied to the notion of high fidelity replicators comes from a fundamental misconception people have about the nature of biology and genetics.

    Genetics shouldn't necessarily imply high fidelity data replication - and so neither should memetics, which is just genetics applied to culture.

    DIT is mostly a rechristening of memetics, minus its widespread terminology, and supposed connotations of high-fidelity transmission.

    Update: I revisit this Wikipedia article here.