Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Popularity contest: meme vs gene

In the process of writing the criticism chapter of my book on the subject, I have been reading what some of the critics of memetics have to say for themselves.

I recently read this one:
  • Wimsatt, William C, (2010) Memetics does not provide a useful way of understanding cultural evolution: A developmental perspective. In Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology, Ed. Francisco Ayala and Robert Arp, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 255-72.

This paper is pretty bad, in my humble opinion, but it did have at least one interesting bit in it! It pointed out that the term "meme" was no more popular than the term "gene" on the internet - according to search engines.

I checked. The idea has some truth to it.

Google has meme: 233,000,000 - gene: 106,000,000.

Bing has meme: 14,700,000 - gene: 57,100,000.

Yahoo has meme: 12,200,000 - gene: 56,500,000.

Youtube has meme: 644,018 - gene: 225,997.

"Meme" beats "gene" on Google and YouTube - but not on Bing or Yahoo. I think those are the same program behind the scenes these days anyway.

However, Google contradicts itself a little:

Anyhow, the memes are clearly ascendant - and are already ahead - in many places on the internet!
Update 2013-12-20: OMG - now it's a complete walkover!

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