Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tim Tyler: Why is there no science of memetics?


Hi! I'm Tim Tyler - and this is a video which responds to one of Steven Pinker's criticisms of memetics - the one where he asks: where is the science of memetics?

In my book on memetics - which is out now - I take a look at some of the critics and criticisms of memetics. Steven Pinker is one of the critics. Pinker expressed a number of objections to memetics in a 2009 Harvard lecture. Here we will look at his claim that there is no proper science of memetics - so over to Steven:

For one thing, just empirically, the idea of memetics, of a science of cultural change based on a close analogy with natural selection, it is just a fact: it's never taken off. It's thirty-five years old almost at this point. Every five years a paper appears that heralds the final development that we have all been waiting for of a science of memetics - and nothing ever happens. Compare this to other sciences that have just flourished since 1976: neural networks, cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology - there are conferences and journals and textbooks - we don't have a science of memetics - despite the constant promise that it is just around the corner - and I think that there is a good reason why we don't that there is something deeply flawed with the idea.

It is, alas, true that, so far, there is no proper science of memetics. At the moment, nobody learns about memes in school, college or university - and practically nobody gets paid to lecture on the topic either. However, what we do have is a science of gene-culture coevolution. This is a branch of population genetics - and on close inspection, it is closely isomorphic to memetics - a fact which has previously pointed out by both by students of memetics (for example, Blackmore in her 2006 review of Not By Genes Alone and at regular intervals by Daniel Dennett) and by people from the population genetics side (for example, Kendal and Laland's 2000 paper Mathematical Models for Memetics). The academic material is essentially memetics without the "m"-word. It comprehensively validates most of the guts of memetics, and it has all of the features that Pinker is objecting to. The field has been researched by Robert Boyd, Peter Richerson, Kenichi Aoki, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Marcus Feldman, Joseph Henrich, Kevin Laland, Alex Mesoudi, Edward Wilson, Charles Lumsden - and now many others. It is true that this area is under-developed and not terribly widely known about, but it does at least exist and has produced a long series of academic papers on the topic dating back to the 1970s, which comprehensively document human cultural evolution. Pinker doesn't make any mention of this branch of science - and indeed it isn't clear from his presentation that he is aware of its existence.

Cultural evolution does appear to be slowly blossoming in academia. For instance, this year saw the publication of Alex Mesoudi's "Cultural Evolution" book, Kevin Laland's "Sense and Nonsense" book - which is all about the evolution of culture an has a whole section on gene-culture coevolution and another whole section on memetics. Kate Distin's "Cultural Evolution" book was published this year and there's my own book on the subject. James Gleick's book "The Information" had a big section on memes - as did David Deutsch's book "The Beginning of Infinity". Cultural evolution is also blooming in the world of marketing. Again if we just look at the books from this year, we have Dan Zarella's book "Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness" - which has a whole section on memes - and there's also Alex Bentley, Michael O’Brien and Mark Earls' book entitled: "I’ll Have What She’s Having". I don't pretend marketing manuals have much in the way of academic status - but there can surely be no doubt that these models are of substantial practical utility. Overall, this is not a huge amount of activity for one year - but it is a significant amount.

The biggest problem with cultural evolution being accepted within academia comes from the human sciences dragging their feet when it comes to embracing the basic principles of Darwinian evolution. There is an extremely long history in the human sciences of resistance to Darwinism. Even a few decades ago, within psychology there was ignorance of - and resistance to - Darwinian explanations. The Darwin enthusiasts were treated as alien invaders from another area of science and were given a hostile reception - as Pinker can probably testify. However, the resistance to Darwin from within the social sciences is much stronger. Cultural anthropology and history should be Darwinian sciences, but they are not. Instead they have mostly embraced the idea that their role is to observe and record, and that too much theory results in biases which act only to interfere with this aim. So, essentially, they are not really proper sciences at all. Social scientists have seen eugenics, social Darwinism and sociobiology. They know that anything related to Darwin is not any good, and will just give their field a bad name and make their colleagues hate them for dragging them into disrepute. So: Darwin gets trashed, and the truth be damned.

The problem is not entirely on the social scientist's side. A few evolutionary biologists are knocking on their door - but only a few. Most have no idea that social science has something to teach them about how evolution works. To them, humans are considered to be just another animal - and to think otherwise is "human exceptionalism" - an idea which has a long history of being wrong. So, they are mostly unaware of the revolution represented by cultural evolution.

The result of all this is that memetics has never taken off. That is a rather embarassing fact for intelligent humans - since it means that the scientists whose job it is to study human evolution have rather badly screwed up.

However, the correct response is not to look for holes in memetics. Memetics is just fine - and the criticisms of it are all a bunch of nonsense. Rather we should set to work constructing the science - since the world will be better off if it is built now rather than later.


Pinker's entire critique may be found here.

Tim Tyler - Are most words intelligently designed?


Hi! I'm Tim Tyler - and this is a video which responds to one of Steven Pinker's criticisms of memetics - the one where he points out that most words are do not evolve and rather are intelligently designed.

In my book on memetics - which is out now - I take a look at some of the critics and criticisms of memetics. Steven Pinker is one of these critics. Pinker expressed a number of objections to memetics in a 2009 Harvard lecture. Here we will look at his claim that most words did not evolve via a process of blind mutation and selection. Here's Steven on the topic:

[footage of Steven Pinker]

Pinker gives a series of examples of words that he claims that did not arise as a result of blind mutation and selection. It is of course true that his examples are not the result of such processes alone. However organic evolution is not just the result of blind mutation and selection either. There are other processes involved in organic evolution - and one of these is sexual recombination. In each one of Pinker's examples it is recombination - and not mutation and selection - that explains the main features of the resulting word.

To go through Steven's examples of supposed invention and explain how to interpret them properly:

  • Palimony - arose from pal and alimony having sex;
  • Loonie - arose from "loon" and "penny" having sex;
  • Podcast - arose from "iPod" and "broadcast" having sex;
  • Spam - arose from the Monty Python Spam sketch and the idea of unsolicited bulk email having sex.

These forms of recombination are typically the result of a breeding process. So: "iPod" and "broadcast" did not just spontaneously combine to form "podcast", rather they were selected and bred. However breeding happens in the organic world as well. It is most familiar in domesticated dogs, cats, pigeons and sheep. However, breeding is not just done by humans - so, for example, ants farm aphids and selectively cultivate fungi.

So, every single one of the examples Pinker gave of word invention is better interpreted as a case of recombination - where two ideas have sex and contribute part of their own inheritance to their cultural offspring. That is not to say that no words are ever invented from scratch by intelligent designers. However, processes in memetics which are deeply analogous to those in genetics are evidently vastly more common and widespread than Pinker seems to realise. Indeed a failure to consider the possibility that recombination might be involved helps to explain why Pinker doesn't think memetics is worth very much - he hasn't grasped one of its most basic and essential features.

It is important to understand that there is more to evolution than blind mutations and selection. Throughout his critique Pinker keeps emphasizing that some cultural product or another is not the result of blind variation and selection. However, organic evolution isn't based only on blind variation and selection either. There are other processes going on - most notably recombination. Any conception of evolution that attempts to boil everything down to blind variation and selection is so deeply impoverished that it is incapable of modeling even organic evolution.


Pinker's entire critique may be found here.

Tim Tyler: Memetics features directed mutations


Hi! I'm Tim Tyler - and this is a video which responds to one of Steven Pinker's criticisms of memetics - the one where he points out that memetics features directed mutations.

In my book on memetics - which is out now - I take a look at some of the critics and criticisms of memetics. Steven Pinker is one of these critics. Pinker expressed a number of objections to memetics in a 2009 Harvard lecture. Here we will look at his claim that memetics features directed mutations. Here's Steven next:

[footage of Steven Pinker saying things including:]

Design without a designer is essential for biological evolution - but it is peverse for cultural evolution: there really is a designer - the human brain - and there's nothing mystical or mysterious about saying that.

OK - thanks very much for that, Steven. It is true that memetics features directed mutations. However, directed mutations are simply not prohibited in evolutionary theory. It is easy to verify this by looking at the definitions of the term "evolution" in the textbooks on the subject. Not a single one of those definitions makes any mention of mutations being "random" or "undirected". They just talk about variation. Non-random sources of variation are absolutely permitted in evolutionary processes - according to standard definitions of the term "evolution" in the textbooks on the subject.

In the organic evolution of genes, mutations are typically perfomed inside cells. They are far from random. The effects of organic mutations are, in fact, biased towards being adaptive, compared to what the effects of random mutations would be. This is true because the cell controls how its error detection and correction machinery is deployed. Consequently, cells have a variety of mechanisms to prevent the most damaging kinds of mutations - namely mutations to expressed genes. Some of these mechanisms have been clearly documented by scientists working in the area so, we know for example that some base pair sequences are more prone to trigger mutations than other ones. The redundancy in the genetic code allows coding genes to systematically avoid being mutated by steering clear of these mutation-prone sequences.

In meme evolution, mutations are typically perfomed inside brains. Consequently, a much wider array of mutations is available, and mutations can be made using the principles of engineering and intelligent design. So, in memetic evolution, there are indeed intelligent designers. That is just fine, and it does not represent some kind of problem.

Just because directed mutations exist, that does not mean that natural selection is no longer important - just that it is not the sole star of the show.

For example, the design of a video player may involve intelligent design. However, if you look at the VHS vs Beetamax battle, the outcome of that is the result of a selection process, not the consequence of design. So there is still a substantial role for selection to play in determining the form of the things that we see. That is why you need evoution as a base theory. Changes by intelligent agents are modelled as a type of directed mutation - and evolutionary theory is absolutely OK with mutations being directed - that is not forbidden at all.

Introducing directed mutation does not gut the theory of natural selection of its explanatory power. Nor does it entirely take over the role of explaining the form of things that exist. Directed mutations explain some of the features of the resulting products, and selection explains some of their other features. To explain the observed results you plainly need a theory that models both selective and mutational processes - and evolutionary biology is that theory.

In the case of the VHS vs Beetamax battle, the individuals doing the selecting are intelligent agents - namely consumers - but intelligent agents are intimately involved in organic evolution too. Selection by intelligent agents took place throughout human evolution. Human sexual selection was selection of intelligent agents by other intelligent agents. Any idea that organic evolution is somehow "blind" is just bunk. In organic evolution, mutation may not typically involve very much intelligence, but selection very often does. That does not imply that the selection was done by "deities with foresight" or "cosmic engineers". The selective agents were intelligent humans - and it is perfectly permissible to invoke intelligent agents who influence the evolutionary trajectory because the process of natural selection gave them to us. This argument that allows us to invoke the actions of intelligent agents in organic evolution is exactly the same as the argument that allows allow us to invoke intelligent agents in cultural evolution. The time when we are not allowed to invoke intelligent agents in evolution is before intelligence evolved. However, we have had intelligent agents for millions of years, and they have been influencing the path taken by evolution since they arrived on the scene.

Of course, if you bother to unpack the process going on creating something like a VHS video recorder you will find that the process that created it involved a vast amount of trial-and-error testing:

The companies involved in designing them were the result of trial and error in the marketplace, based on their previous products.

Within the company, there was a selective retention process which was responsible for deciding which engineers were employed by the company in the first place. Another similar process which influenced which of the employees worked on the project.

More trial, error and selective retention was employed by the engineers involved in attempting to find out what works and what doesn't by using testing procedures.

This was then followed by selective rejection of what didn't work and the perpetuation of what did by supervisors and managers.

Also, if you look inside the minds of the human engineers involved, you will find that there's an iterative generate-and-test process going on in there as well. The mind contains a virtual world which allows possiblilites to be tested and rejected rapidly in a virtual environment. The mutations involved at that level are typically generated rapidly - and without very much intelligence - and are then filtered by selective processes.

And at lower levels in the brain, there are still more instances of variation followed by selective retention - in the case of axon tips competing for dendrite attachment points and dendrite bodies dynamically competing with other dendrites from the same neuron for resources.

So, you really have a form of natural selection taking place at each level.

However, that's really more of a topic for another video. Or if you prefer, my Memetics book has a whole chapter about processes of selection in the mind and brain - check it out.


Pinker's entire critique may be found here.

Natural production and natural elimination

There's a chapter about "Generalised Darwinism" in my Memetics book. Here's a promotional video about one topic within that area:


Hi, I'm Tim Tyler - and this is a video about natural production and natural elimination. This pair of concepts represents an alternative to selection and drift when it comes to visualising and modelling the process of evolution. They are extremely basic concepts which arise naturally when attempting to generalise the Darwinian framework.

An understanding that culture evolves along Darwinian lines has led many of those involved to wonder what other systems exhibit Darwinian dynamics.

It has also prompted a revisiting of the foundations of evolutionary theory. I have a whole chapter about Generalising Darwinism in my new memetics book. Here I will describe some of the more significant results.

Natural selection beyond biology

Most people are familiar with the idea of natural selection. However, many people associate the idea with life - and with living systems. In fact natural selection represents the action of a more general principle that also applies systems which are not alive.

The truth of this has long been appreciated. For example, here is Richard Dawkins, writing on page 12 of The Selfish Gene:

Darwin's survival of the fittest is really a specific case of a more general law of survival of the stable. The universe is populated by stable things.
In fact, the familiar process of natural selection is not confined to biology. It affects everything that comes into existence. Whether or not it comes into existence via a copying process is irrelevant. Some abiotic examples of the effects of natural selection include:
  • Pebbles tend to be made of hard materials;
  • Islands tend to include hard rocky outcrops;
  • Planets tend to have circular orbits.

New fundamental concepts

Evolution is often visualised in terms of natural selection, sexual selection and genetic drift. However, when generalising Darwinism, there is another useful perspective, which can be obtained by considering evolution to be the result of a balance between the forces of production and elimination. This idea is best introduced by considering the following new categories:

  • Natural production - refers to things coming into existence.
  • Natural elimination - refers to things going out of existence.
These are extremely basic and fundamental principles. They neatly encapsulate the aspects of evolution that do not involve copying. They thus apply to both biotic and abiotic systems. To illustrate these principles with some abiotic examples:

Examples of natural elimination

Some examples of natural elimination:

  • Stars that are observed are the ones that have not previously burned out or exploded;
  • Atoms that are observed tend to be the stable ones - the ones with long half-lives;
  • Mountains tend to be covered in hard rocks - soft rocks there tend to get washed away.

Examples of natural production

Natural elimination is balanced by natural production. Some examples:
  • Stars are produced by balls of gas condensing;
  • Atoms are mostly produced from other atoms - by the processes of fission or fusion;
  • Mountains are produced by tectonic plate motion and erosion.

Observed frequencies

The frequencies of the things we observe in the world arise as a result of a mixture of processes of production and elimination. Things that are produced frequently and are difficult to eliminate are often observed - whereas things that are produced infrequently and are easy to eliminate are rarely observed. In my book I include a table of examples of these phenomena - including "tall coin stacks" - which are produced rarely and destroyed easily - and "pebbles", which are produced easily and destroyed relatively rarely.

If production rates exceed elimination rates, the number of entites grows - while if elimination rates exceed production rates, the number of entites shrinks. These ideas thus fit very naturally into the framework provided by population genetics.

Note that the approach here can be applied to anything with a measurable frequency. The entities do not have to form a natural kind. They do not need to be to be discrete or particulate either.

For example, you could consider the category of: "men over six feet tall". Production takes place during adolescence, and elimination takes place through death, limb loss, sex changes or degenerative osteoporosis. The results may be more interesting if dealing with natural kinds, but any system where you can measure the frequency with which something occurs can be analysed in this way.

Use in biology

Natural elimination and natural production are most familiar in the context of biological systems. There, production typically takes place at birth, and elimination takes place at death. If birth rates exceed death rates the population grows while if death rates exceed birth rates, the population shrinks. In living systems, natural elimination is selection by death. Natural elimination is a bit different from natural selection, thoug. For one thing, it makes no attempt to exclude genetic drift. The nearest familiar concept in biology to natural production is probably sexual selection. However, sexual selection is not a very general principle. It isn't just sexual organisms that are able to produce varying numbers of offspring. Instead the concept of differential reproductive success is sometimes used. Natural production is a more general concept than this though - since it can be applied to both biotic and abiotic systems.

Another way of considering the difference is to see that natural production is a kind of mirror image of natural elimination - in that production creates and elimination destroys. However, there isn't really any corresponding mirror concept for the idea of natural selection.

Since biological processes involve copying, what is naturally produced is constantly being magnified, while things that are naturally eliminated play an ever-diminishing role. Thus, iterative application of natural production and natural elimination can result in adaptive evolution.

Framing things in terms of natural selection and sexual selection reflects the way in which these ideas were discovered historically - but sexual selection is not a very general concept. Thinking in terms of natural elimination and natural production results in a more general and broadly-applicable framework - one that extends deeply into many kinds of abiotic systems.

Fundamental revisions

When taught at all, natural selection is currently taught in biology classes. Natural elimination and natural production should probably be taught first in physics (or mathematics) classes. These are pretty basic explanatory principles, broadly comparable in scope to the idea of entropy, or to self-organisation.

This material may seem very basic - and it is. However, it is not so basic as to be obvious. Something like it does need teaching to children in science classes - with presentation along the lines given here, and with natural selection in biology being given as an example of the results of these principles being applied to a system which involves copying.

For more about this topic, please see my book on Memetics - which is out now.


My Memetics book on

My new "Memetics" book is now available on

Here is the book's home page.

Here's the book's launch video:

The transcript of the launch video:

Hi, I'm Tim Tyler - and this is a video to announce my new Memetics book. The book is now available on - see the links at the bottom for details.

So, here's the book, the back cover of the book and the book's spine. I am pretty pleased with the build quality and presentation.

The book is all about memes and the science of cultural evolution - as you can probably see from the subtitle of the book - so: memes are small sections of inherited cultural information. Just as genes transmit inherited organic information down the generations, so memes transmit inherited cultural information. Memetics is the name of the field devoted to the study of memes, thus the title of my book.

Memes represent the rise of a new medium of inheritance on the planet. For the first time in three billion years, DNA has a credible rival. As a result, meme products are making substantial inroads into the biosphere. The rise of the memes shows little sign of slowing down and reaching an equilibrium with the nucleic acids that preceeded them. So, an understaning of this area seems to be rather important.

A brief reading from the introduction should help to give a flavour of the book:

This is a book about a curious and counter-intuitive idea. The idea is that humans are apes with infected brains. That we harbour living things inside our skulls which are even less closely related to us than the bacteria that thrive in our guts are.

These entities are not bacteria, or other microorganisms. They are a new form of life, not closely related to the DNA-based life forms that have dominated the planet for billions of years.

It is the presence of these entities that distinguishes modern humans from primitive cave-dwellers. They are what is responsible for out music, literature, science and technology.

It seems likely that these entities have been with us for millions of years - and are a major factor in contributing to making us human in the first place. This means that most accounts of human evolution that fail to take account of these entities are deeply misguided.

Describing humans as "apes with infected brains" is not intended to imply that the infectious agents are necessarily deleterious - just that they don't necessarily always have our best interests at heart. Many visitors are mutualists - useful symbionts. However, others are toxic and harmful - and humans are often in need of strategies for getting their brains disinfected.

I then go on to explain how ideas behave rather like infectious disease agents using an analogy between the human brain and a zit.

So far, humanity has had a hard time digesting Darwinism, with popular understanding of the topic spreading slowly. According to my book, the revolution started by Darwin is only about half way through. Many scientists are still getting to grips with the idea that our bodies are the product of Darwinian forces, and have yet to get their heads around the idea that all human culture - science, technology, religion and so on - are also the result of Darwinian evolution. Yet without an understanding of cultural evolution, the study of human society and culture is hopelessly stuck in a pre-Darwinian era. Evolutionary theory is key to understanding cultural evolution - just as it is central in understanding organic evolution. Let's hope that - now that we have access to the internet - it won't take another 150 years for the study of human culture to catch up with the rest of evolutionary biology.

Memetics was really founded by Richard Dawkins - in his classic 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins pretty-much nailed the topic - and authors and scientists since then have mostly been playing catch-up. However, Dawkins only managed a single chapter on the topic - so, with my thirty chapters on the topic I'm hoping to do a little bit better than that.

There have been a few books on the topic since then. The first was Aaron Lynch's Thought Contagion, and then there was Richard Brodies's Virus of the Mind. Probably the most important book on memetics so far is Susan Blackmore's The Meme Machine. However, that's over a decade old now - and there's been quite an explosion of activity in the area and scientific publications on the topic in the last decade, so the topic plainly needs revisiting.

Cultural evolution is one of the most confused and misunderstood areas of science I have encountered to date. The specialists within cultural anthropology and history who are supposed to be studying the area have mostly adopted a bizarre and unscientific approach in which observations are key and theoretical expectations represent an undesirable source of bias. However, this is just not how science works, and as a result whole areas of social sciences are grossly distorted. There's also considerable balkanisation: experts in the social sciences can't talk to each other very easily because the of the lack of a unified framework that would be provided by adopting Darwinian foundations. Social scientists have previously seen the influence of Darwinism. Darwin has brought them eugenics, social Darwinism, and sociobiology - which misguidedly attempts to reduce social phenomena to genes. As a result, to this day, Darwin is mostly kept at arms length in the very fields where the topic most urgently needs to be studied. The resulting anti-Darwinian mindset has had devastating effects on genuine scientific study of these areas.

However, there is an ongoing influx of interest in the area. There has been a substantial explosion of memes on the internet recently - with meme-related searches in 2011 rising to 5-10 times previous levels. Internet memes have started appearing regularly in mainstream news channels - and there are substantial online subcultures devoted to memes. The internet is really a key tool for spreading and studying memes. The ability to decompse online memes into sequences of 1s and 0s is broady comparable to the ability to sequence genomes - and this facilitates attempts to study cultural lineages from a phylomemetic perspective and so document the evolution of culture.

So, I reckon that it's a good time for my book on the topic to be published. There are sections on the history of memetics, the origin of human culture, human meme-spreading adaptations, how to classify memes, the major transitions in memetic evolution, applications to marketing, advertising, politics, science and self-development. The science surrounding memetic change is covered, including sections on meme-gene coevolution, symbiosis-based models of their interactions and epidemiological models of meme spread. There's a chapter relating to criticisms of the topic from naysayers. There's a chapter on generalising Darwinism in an attempt to produce a more universally applicable form. There's a chapter on selection processes within the human mind. Another chapter deals with the rapidly developing topic of memetic algorithms. These are related to genetic algorithms - but they represent an attempt to duplicate human cultural evolution inside machines. The book closes with a look to the future and the possibility of a memetic takeover.

A brief reading from the book on the significance of the whole topic:

Richard Brodie, in 1996, characterised the shift towards cultural evolution as a paradigm shift:
Viruses of the mind, and the whole science of memetics, represent a major paradigm shift in the science of the mind.
It is a major paradigm shift - probably the biggest disruption in evolutionary theory since 1859. However it isn't just a paradigm shift. Not only is our understanding of evolutionary theory changing, but the way in which evolution actually happens is changing too. The introduction of directed mutations, intelligent design, and the whole modern optimisation toolkit are not just major developments in the theory of evolution, they are major changes in how the process of evolution actually works.
The book is necessarily somewhat technical. I have tried hard to make it accessible to general population, but some basic knowledge of evolutionary theory would certainly help in understanding its message.

If you are interested in this whole area, my book makes essential reading. It is now available - please follow the links below to get hold of a copy.

Oh yes, and if you can help to introduce other people to this important, but neglected area of science, please go right ahead with my blessing.


Monday, 29 August 2011

Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness

Dan Zarrella's latest book is out now.

It's called Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas.

It looks as though there's a fair bit of memetics in it.

Yes, that really is the cover! Did Dan really study the effect of the cute bunnies on sales?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Memetics - back cover blurb

Here's the back cover of my new book:

The blurb reads:

Memes and the Science of Cultural Evolution.

Memetics is the name commonly given to the study of memes - a term originally coined by Richard Dawkins to describe small inherited elements of human culture. Memes are the cultural equivalent of DNA genes - and memetics is the cultural equivalent of genetics.

Memes have become ubiquitous in the modern world - but there has been relatively little proper scientific study of how they arise, spread and change - apparently due to turf wars within the social sciences and misguided resistance to Darwinian explanations being applied to human behaviour.

However, with the modern explosion of internet memes, I think this is bound to change. With memes penetrating into every mass media channel, and with major companies riding on their coat tails for marketing purposes, social scientists will surely not be able to keep the subject at arm's length for much longer.

This will be good - because an understanding of memes is important. Memes are important for marketing and advertising. They are important for defending against marketing and advertising. They are important for understanding and managing your own mind. They are important for understanding science, politics, religion, causes, propaganda, law, morality and popular culture.

Memetics is important for understanding the origin and evolution of modern humans. It provides insight into the rise of farming, science, industry, technology and machines. It is important for understanding the history of human evolution. It can also be expected to throw light on the important issues surrounding future technological changes.

This book covers the basic concepts of memetics, giving an overview of its history, applications, development - and the controversies that have been associated with it.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Memetics - Introductory chapter

Here's the first chapter of my book on memetics - which is out now.

Introduction - A brief guide to this book

We will start with a brief introduction to the main themes of this book.

Apes with infected brains

This is a book about a curious and counter-intuitive idea. The idea is that humans are apes with infected brains. That we harbour living things inside our skulls which are even less closely related to us than the bacteria that thrive in our guts are.

These entities are not bacteria, or other microorganisms. They are a new form of life, not closely related to the DNA-based life forms that have dominated the planet for billions of years.

It is the presence of these entities that distinguishes modern humans from primitive cave-dwellers. They are what is responsible for our music, literature, science and technology.

It seems likely that these entities have been with us for millions of years - and are a major factor in contributing to making us human in the first place. This means that most accounts of human evolution that fail to take account of these entities are deeply misguided.

Describing humans as "apes with infected brains" is not intended to imply that the infectious agents are necessarily deleterious - just that they don't necessarily always have our best interests at heart. Many visitors are mutualists - useful symbionts. However, others are toxic and harmful - and humans are often in need of strategies for getting their brains disinfected.

Humans have grown dependent on these symbiotic visitors. As with our gut bacteria, most of us are now so dependent on them that we could barely survive without them.

Brain-zit analogy

At this point an analogy and some diagrams should help to illuminate the situation. Acne is a disease caused partly by bacteria - which infect the sweat glands in human skin. These help to create a plug which blocks the pore of the gland. The bacteria reproduce in the resulting trapped pool of juices, and then explode forth into the world - where some of them find their way into other sweat glands - thus completing their reproductive cycle.

The brains of adult humans are typically infected with similar entities. They are contagious ideas. They spend most of their reproductive cycle in human brains, and then spurt forth - often from the human mouth. Then they find their way through the air, and sometimes successfully find their way into another human brain - thus completing their reproductive cycle.

Ideas in brain.            Juices in Zit.

In this analogy, certain types of contagious ideas are considered to be similar to the bacteria that cause acne. Like the bacteria, those ideas reproduce themselves using energy derived from their human hosts, and spread from one human to another in a manner closely resembling a contagious disease.

Ideas spurt forth.             Juices spurt forth.

Not all ideas spread contagiously from one person to the next. Some ideas form inside human minds but never attempt to spread themselves to other humans. However, other ideas have mastered the trick of spreading "horizontally", form one human to the next - and these more powerful ideas are very common.

Also, transmission doesn't always occur through the human mouth. Sometimes, the ideas are transmitted using gestures. Sometimes, they are typed into computers. Sometimes, the idea is in the form of a picture - or a movie. The important thing is that they have found a way from one human mind to the next.

Parasites and mutualists

On average, these contagious ideas appear to be beneficial. In that respect, they are different from typical diseases, which are normally harmful to their hosts. Many ideas are more like gut bacteria - which are also beneficial, on average. There are other cases in nature of beneficial symbiotic relationships with microorganisms. For example, many common plants make use of nitrogen-fixing bacteria living in their root systems - to help them harvest nutrients from the atmosphere. Some plants actively cultivate ants which help the plants to protect themselves against predators. For example, the Swollen-Thorn Acacias of Central America have developed special bulbous chambers to act as homes for aggressive species of ants - which then protect the their tree house against predators and parasites.

However, not all culturally-transmitted ideas are beneficial to their hosts. Cults, religions, scams, fads and lies are often more like real diseases than they are like a mutually-beneficial symbiosis. Sometimes, the host is even sterilised. Sterilisation can actually benefit the infectious ideas - since liberating the host's reproductive resources can free up time and energy - which can then be used to propagate the ideas to new hosts.

This picture - of humans as apes with infected brains - is one which relatively few people are familiar with, and which even fewer have fully worked through the implications of.

Many find this kind of perspective to be counter-intuitive. If you open up the skull of a human, no parasites spill out. If you look at it under a microscope, no rapidly-dividing foreign-cells are seen. Some question exactly where these hypothetical invaders are - and whether they even exist. The short answer is that the parasites live in a virtual world.

Computer viruses

Fortunately there is another type of system which behaves in a similar way. Our personal computers are also frequently infected with parasites. These regularly get infected with their own species of computer virus - and yet, if you open up a computer, no viruses come spilling out. As with the human mind parasites, this is because they live in a virtual world.

Although the computer viruses live in a virtual world, they can still cause real damage, blackmailing the user, using their network connection by acting as a spam relay - and so on. The infected human brain behaves similarly. Though its infections are often unseen, their effects are not.

The new organisms

The picture that results from this is dramatic - and for many people it is unfamiliar. After several billion years of evolution a range of new types of self-reproducing creature have arrived on the scene. They have genes that are not made of nucleic acids. In next to no time, they have spread to all areas of the globe. Their effects can be seen everywhere. Suddenly, intelligent design, engineering, simulation, extrapolation, interpolation - and many other novel tools are being used to create the next generation of organisms. This is a new kind of evolution, faster than the older kind of evolution by random mutations that preceded it.

This is really the first time in the last three billion years that new, non-nucleic-acid-based self-reproducing entities have succeeded in getting a major foothold in the biosphere. There is currently an explosion of these new creatures. Their rise seems rapid and dramatic, and it shows little sign of levelling off.

The extraordinary and rapid rise to power of these new self-reproducing creatures raises important questions about what will happen in the future. One possibility is that their meteoric rise eventually slow down - and reach some kind of harmonious equilibrium with the older nucleic-acid-based systems that were responsible for their creation. Another is that the new creatures will stage a take over - as they find a way to build bodies and minds for themselves and then proceed unshackle themselves from their more primitive precursors.

We urgently need to develop a basic scientific understanding of what is happening in this area. Understanding the evolution of culture will throw light on human evolution, so we can better understand human nature, it will allow us to better deal with the modern world and the challenges that we now face - and it will also help us to prepare for the future. This book lays down some of the foundations needed to deal with these issues.

Parasitism videos

Memetics is well-known for its idea that some culture is parasitic. Memetics got this idea early - and it got it right.

Parasites are small - so there are probably many more parasite species than host species on the planet. The world is indeed riddled with life.

I have posted some mind control parasite videos before - to illustrate parasitic behavioural control in the organic realm.

There are lots of other interesting parasitism videos out there. Here are a few of them.

Warning: some of these are video nasties.

Jewel wasp vs parasite.

Moth ear mites.

Life in the Undergrowth - Intimate Relationships - butterfly, ant and wasp.

Toad with parasite in the eye.

Bot fly, housefly, cow.

Bot fly larvae in kitten's eye. This video is rather unpleasant. However, if you like it, there are other similar ones.

Organ replacement - the Cymothoa exigua story

Some more videos associated with a story from my book: Cymothoa exigua - an isopod that eats and then replaces the tongue of a fish. Not that many cases where a parasite completely replaces a host organ are known - but this is one of them.

Could humans see any of their organs replaced by their symbiotes? Of course, this already happens if folk are disabled, they can have artificial limbs, and organs. In the long run, all our organs will probably be replaced. The brain could be one of the first to go. We have already heavily outsourced memory. If prediction capabilities become outsourced, the human brain may have a much reduced role to play. Also the human gut may become redundant early on. If food comes predigested, a complicated internal food processing system is no longer needed.

Oh, and I should probably warn you, the first video is not very nice: contains death.

Cymothoa exigua - The most horrifying parasite.

Fish Parasite, Cymothoa exigua?

Domatia videos

Some of the mutualist relationships of particular interest to memeticists are ones which feature adaptive symbiont homes.

Ant Domatia are one of the most obvious enlarged structures which function to house symbiont visitors.

Domatia are relevant to memetics, because of the big brain hypothesis - according to which our enlarged cranium has swollen up to make a nest for memes.

For more about the significance of domatia in the context of memetics, see my book.

Perfect Symbiosis - tree ants.

Ant Domatia.

Elephants Are Terrified By Ants.

Acacia Tree Ants.

Bull-Horn Acacia Ants.

Elephants keep ants in harmony with tree hosts .

Ants and the Whistling Thorn Acacia.

Ant Plant - Myrmecophyte.

Ant-House Plants, So Strange!

Mutualism videos

In memetics, culture is in a symbiotic relationship with humans. Cultural creatures have symbiotic relationships with humans - and with each other. So: understanding symbiosis is the key to understanding how human culture works.

Some symbiotic relationships are mutually-beneficial. The term for such relationships is "mutualism". Mutualist relationships are ubiquitous in biology. Some videos illustrate the phenomenon in the organic world:

Ant and caterpillar symbiosis.

Acacia Tree Ants.

Leaf cutter ants and fungus.

Clownfish and Sea Anemone Partnership.

Caribbean Cleaners.

Hippo Spa.

Elephants Are Terrified By Ants .

Ant Caterpillar Mutualism.

Perfect Symbiosis - tree ants.

Ant-aphid mutualism.

Coral Reef Symbiosis.

Evolution coevolution of the ant and fungi.

Symbiotic Relationships.

Ants farm aphids.

Tree Ants & Caterpillars.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Information prohibition - Is it safe to share?

Sharing is a natural and basic human activity. However, current law criminilises much sharing, thus hampering innovation and progress.

The current laws appear to be ridiculous - but anti-sharing laws are lobbied for by rich and powerful groups, who benefit from them. Laws against sharing are widely violated and highly unpopular.

No doubt future society will look back on the current era of information prohibition with horror and contempt.

The latest salvo in the battle over sharing is this one:

RIAA appeals Jammie Thomas-Rasset's damage reduction

This faceless corporation has been making news for attempting to bankrupt this ordinary American housewife for years now.

I'm not impressed. Please work to help to end this era of information prohibition as soon as possible.

Memetic warfare

I follow military interest in memetics and recently came across Memetic warfare: the future of war - which is an interesting article on the topic.

The article describes what I would usually call memetic hitchhiking in terms of a Trojan horse.

The Trojan Horse technique is an insidious trick that involves proffering a very attractive meme such as sex, and having a less attractive meme such as beer sales ride on its coat tails.

I can imagine how military minds might have Trojan horses in mind - but I don't think something is a Trojan unless the payload is hidden.

The article concludes:

It is vital to the interests of the U.S. and its people that memetic theory is fully explored, if for no other reason than to develop defenses against foreign memetic attack. Memetic operations do not require a presence in the target country. For a fraction of the cost of deploying troops on the ground, the enemies of the U.S. could conduct devastating memetic based information warfare against America. It is time for the IC to turn this threat into an opportunity. Memetics after all is only a tool, and tools when properly employed can be used to build peace, hope, prosperity, and a better way of life.

The article says it is "COPYRIGHT 2010 U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School."

Monday, 22 August 2011

The rise of the hand heart gesture

The NYT has a nice article titled: When Two Thumbs Down Are a Sign of Approval. It is about the spread of the hand heart gesture.

The article has a comment on the accelerating pace of cultural change:

It used to take longer for nonverbal culture to move. But now, with smartphones, it’s instant.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Richard Dawkins - The Virus Of Faith

Richard Dawkins - The Virus Of Faith

Mind viruses feature in various places - e.g. 14:40.

For good measure, here is the video on YouTube or Google video.

Dawkins on mind viruses

Richard Dawkins describes "mind viruses" - giving the example of chain letters - and then compares religion to a mind virus.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Dawkins vs Pinker on religious memes

Dawkins puts it to Pinker that it isn't just that priests are manipulating their flock, but rather both may be being manipulated by "mind viruses".

Alas, Pinker's response doesn't really seem to get around to addressing the point.

This video is from the following series:

Sunday, 14 August 2011

My "Memetics" book - chapter titles

The chapter titles and extended section map of a pre-release version of my Memetics book:

Table of contents

1.Introduction - A brief guide to this book.5
2.Basics - Cultural evolution in a nutshell.9
3.Evidence - Support for cultural evolution.18
4.Defining evolution - What “evolution” means.25
5.Similarities - Between organic and cultural.30
6.Differences - Between cultural and organic.36
7.Memes - Terminology for cultural evolution.41
8.Coevolution - Culture-organic interactions.51
9.Symbiosis - Symbiotic relationships.57
10.Parasitism - Memetic epidemiology.63
11.Mutualism - Mutually-beneficial relationships.82
12.Significance - The importance of memetics .95
13.Defining memes - What "meme" means.100
14.Replicators - Replicator terminology problems.111
15.Scientific perspective - Views from academia.117
16.Criticism - Skeptics and naysayers.138
17.Controversies - Outstanding issues.182
18.Textbooks - What the evolution textbooks say.197
19.Marketing - Exchange memes for cash.203
20.Applications - What memetics is for.213
21.Origins - The origin of culture.216
22.Major transitions - Seismic memetic shifts.222
23.Immunity - Resistance to infection.224
24.The internet - Recent developments.228
25.Classification - Category distinctions.234
26.Mental selection - The Darwinian mind.241
27.Memetic algorithms - Optimising with memes.246
28.History - Of the study of cultural evolution.246
29.Universal Darwinism - Basic principles.257
30.Evolution revolution - The changes needed.265
31.Memetic takeover - Memes triumphant.268
34.Alphabetical index.345

Section names


Introduction - A brief guide to this book

1.1.Apes with infected brains5
1.2.Brain-zit analogy5
1.3.Parasites and mutualists7
1.4.Computer viruses8
1.5.The new organisms8

Basics - Cultural evolution in a nutshell

2.1.The basic idea9
2.2.The case for cultural evolution10
2.3.Dual inheritance theory11
2.4.Shared underlying principles11
2.5.Cosmetic differences12
2.6.Family trees12
2.9.Resource limitation14
2.10.Adaptive culture15
2.11.Internet culture15
2.12.Going digital16
2.13.Rise of the idea16
2.15.Neglect 17
2.16.Modern ascendance18
2.17.The role of this book18

Evidence - Support for cultural evolution

3.1.Evidence of inheritance19
3.2.Evidence of variation19
3.3.Evidence of differential reproductive success20
3.4.Evidence from geographic distribution21
3.5.Evidence of adaptations21
3.6.Evidence from the historical record22
3.7.Evidence from controlled experiments22
3.8.Evidence from natural experiments22
3.9.Evidence from progress23
3.10.Evidence from imperfections23
3.11.Evidence from domestication24
3.12.Evidence of recombination24
3.13.Culture evolves25
3.14.Further reading25

Defining evolution - What “evolution” means

4.1.Common usage25
4.2.Cultural change is evolution25
4.3.Particular definitions26
4.6.Standard definitions30

Similarities - Between organic and cultural

5.1.Basic similarities30
5.2.Other similarities31
5.3.Significance of the similarities33
5.4.Similarities illustrated34

Differences - Between cultural and organic

6.1.The differences36
6.2.Different dynamics40
6.3.Significance of the differences41

Memes - Terminology for cultural evolution

7.5.Terminology family45
7.6.Richard Dawkins45
7.7.Dawkins retreats46
7.8.The term "meme" wins anyway47
7.10.Memetics as a hypothesis48
7.11.Meme critics49
7.13.The mutating "meme" meme50
7.14.Popularity explosion51

Coevolution - Culture-organic interactions

8.1.Agricultural revolution52
8.2.Other cases53
8.3.Rapid memetic evolution54
8.4.Rapid human evolution54
8.5.Genetic assimilation55
8.6.The assimilate-stretch principle55

Symbiosis - Symbiotic relationships

9.1.Organic symbiosis58
9.2.Memetic symbiosis58
9.3.Classification by physical relationship type58
9.4.Classification by benefits to host58
9.5.Classification by type of dependency59
9.6.Symbiosis modelled60
9.7.Pure memetic symbiosis60
9.10.A note about teleology62
10.Parasitism - Memetic epidemiology63
10.1.Memetic infections63
10.2.Infectious disease epidemiology63
10.3.Host harm64
10.7.Epidemic threshold67
10.9.Population saturation68
10.10.Terminology note69
10.11.Behavioural modification69
10.12.The Red Queen70
10.13.Sexual recombination72
10.14.The Red Queen of culture72
10.15.Evolution towards mutualism73
10.16.Optimal virulence73
10.17.Resource competition with the host74
10.18.Effects on fertility74
10.19.Effects on lifespan77
10.21.Meme shedding79
10.22.Virus talk79
10.23.Frequency-dependent selection80
10.24.Memes parasitising other memes80
10.25.Organic genes can parasitise memes82

Mutualism - Mutually-beneficial relationships

11.1.Mutually beneficial symbiosis82
11.2.Organic-organic mutualism83
11.3.Organic-memetic mutualism83
11.4.Supporting adaptations84
11.5.Symbiont homes84
11.6.The big brain as a meme nest86
11.7.Memes and the evolution of human ultrasociality89
11.8.Mutualism and ultrasociality89
11.9.Humans without memes92
11.10.Cultural-cultural mutualism92
11.11.Memetic linkage93
11.12.Memetic hitchhiking94

Significance - The importance of memetics

12.1.Like finding simple alien life96
12.2.An understanding of cultural evolution is long overdue96
12.3.Cultural evolution as a unifying principle97
12.4.Dawkins' Dangerous Idea97
12.5.Understanding the past98
12.6.Understanding the present98
12.7.Understanding the future99

Defining memes - What "meme" means

13.1.The role of imitation100
13.2.Internalist vs Externalist103
13.5.Externalism rules105
13.6.Information theory - The foundations of genetics106
13.9.Definition of "gene"108
13.10.Rival definitions of "gene"108
13.11.Other definitions of "meme"109
13.12.Definition of meme110

Replicators - Replicator terminology problems

14.1.Replicator problems112
14.2.The "high fidelity" objection112
14.3.The "etymology" objection113
14.4.The "too late" objection114
14.5.Other critics115
14.7.It's not too late116

Scientific perspective - Views from academia

15.1.A slow start118
15.2.Current retardation118
15.3.Memetics and cultural evolution119
15.4.Cultural evolution119
15.5.No cultural creatures125
15.6.No meme's eye view127
15.7.Scientific endorsement128
15.8.Modern memetics128
15.9.Social science130
15.12.Unnecessary controversy136
15.13.A difficult update136

Criticism - Skeptics and naysayers

16.1.Memes do not exist138
16.2.Memetics is a pseudoscience140
16.3.Memetics has never taken off141
16.4.Culture cannot be neatly partitioned into discrete units141
16.5.Evolution doesn't require replicators143
16.6.Memes are not like genes145
16.7.Memes are not like viruses146
16.8.Genes are concrete, memes are intangible148
16.9.Cultural evolution features directed mutation148
16.10.Error catastrophe149
16.11.Mutations are more common150
16.12.Copying and selection may not explain culture152
16.13.Memes are not copied but recreated153
16.14.Memes are sometimes analog155
16.15.Culture is more complicated than that156
16.16.Memetics does not explain meme fitnesses157
16.17.Culture is designed - not evolved158
16.18.Memetics makes no predictions and is unfalsifiable159
16.19.Alleged danger159
16.20.There is no memetic code160
16.21.Memetics is nothing new160
16.22.Memetics terminology is pointless161
16.23.Unpalatable truth162
16.24.Naked memes163
16.25.Complex developmental tangles164
16.26."Just So" stories165
16.27.Lamarck's curse166
16.28.Weak predictions167
16.29.No Mendel of culture168
16.30.Long-isolated cultures can sill interbreed168
16.31.Memes do not self-replicate169
16.32.Critique from semiotics170
16.33.Memetics violates Occam's razor170
16.34.Too negative171
16.35.We are too ignorant to say that cultural evolution is Darwinian171
16.36.Cultural evolution is too different - we should start again172
16.37.Memeticis is not socially acceptable172
16.38.Memetics hasn't produced anything original173
16.39.Memeticists can't agree on what a meme is174
16.40.Evolutionists should present a united front174
16.41.Memetics is “mind-blind”175
16.42.Memetic linkage is too strong176
16.43.Alledged infinite regress176
16.44.Cultural evolution exhibits progress176
16.45.Memes don't have loci177
16.46.Culture exhibits insufficient variation177
16.47.Memetics denies a role for chance processes178
16.48.Deleterious cultural traits can't evolve adaptations178
16.49.Are memes "quasi-autonomous bots"?179
16.50.There are no cultural lineages179
16.51.Not an analogy!180
16.52.Sympathetic interpretations are needed181
16.53.Common misunderstandings181
16.54.There's nothing wrong with memetics181

Controversies - Outstanding issues

17.1.Blind Variation and Selective Retention182
17.2.Lamarckian evolution184
17.3.Is culture on a leash?187
17.4.Is culture is a part of human biology?188
17.5.Intelligent design190
17.6.Does memetics cover all cultural change191
17.7.Meme phenotypes192
17.8.Group selection193
17.9.Is culture alive?195
17.10.Imitation difficulty195
17.11.Is the central dogma toast?196

Textbooks - What the evolution textbooks say

18.1.The textbooks on evolution198
18.2.Douglas Futayama - "Evolutionary Biology"198
18.3.Mark Ridley - "Evolution"199
18.4.Monroe Strickberger - "Evolution"201
18.5.Complete rewrite needed202

Marketing - Exchange memes for cash

19.1.Marketing and advertising204
19.3.Viral marketing205
19.4.Big seed marketing206
19.5.Social media marketing208
19.6.Marketing techniques208
19.7.Memetic hitchhiking208
19.9.Catchphrases 209
19.11.Sex appeal210
19.15.Bigger is better212
19.16.Negative marketing212
19.17.Free stuff!212
19.19.Win something!213
19.20.Other areas of marketing213

Applications - What memetics is for

20.5.News and politics215
20.6.Causes and charities215
20.7.Religion and cults215
20.9.Military memetics216
20.10.Other applications217

Origins - The origin of culture

21.1.Culture in other animals217
21.2.Opposable thumb219
21.5.Cultural tipping point220
21.6.Upright gait hypothesis220

Major transitions - Seismic memetic shifts

22.8.Computers and the internet224

Immunity - Resistance to infection

23.1.Immune resistance225
23.3.Avoiding memes227
23.4.The origins of memetic immunity228
23.5.Memetic immune systems should not reject everything228
23.6.Computer immunity228

The internet - Recent developments

24.1.Digital revolution229
24.2.Examples of analog and digital systems230
24.3.Analog problems230
24.4.Digital advantage230
24.5.Digital genetics230
24.6.Digital memetics231
24.7.The internet231
24.8.Internet memes231
24.9.Memetic pandemics231
24.10.Cultural microscopes232
24.11.Frivolous internet culture233
24.12.Meme graveyard233
24.13.Computer viruses234
24.14.Machine intelligence234

Classification - Category distinctions

25.1.Meme anatomy235
25.2.Cybernetics perspective236
25.3.Memetic hitchhiking237
25.5.Environmental inheritance237
25.7.Transmission media240
25.8.Storage media240
25.9.Meme species240
25.10.The memotype/phemotype split241

Mental selection - The Darwinian mind

26.1.Darwin on the brain241
26.2.Optimisation process242
26.3.Within-brain copying242
26.4.Within-brain selection243
26.5.Within-brain variation244
26.6.Brain evolution244
26.7.Adaptive evolution245
26.8.Neurite-tip selection245
26.9.Memes and idea selection245
26.10.Machine intelligence246

Memetic algorithms - Optimising with memes


History - Of the study of cultural evolution

28.1.William Jones247
28.2.Lewis Henry Morgan247
28.3.August Schleicher247
28.4.Charles Darwin248
28.5.William James248
28.6.Herbert Spencer249
28.7.Thorstein B. Veblen249
28.8.Edward Burnett Tylor249
28.9.Leslie Stephen250
28.10.Gabriel Tarde251
28.11.James George Frazer251
28.12.Pierre Auger252
28.13.Pierre White252
28.14.B. F. Skinner252
28.15.Peter Medawar254
28.16.André Siegfried254
28.17.Donald Campbell255
28.18.Roger Sperry255
28.19.Jacques Monod256
28.20.Karl Popper256
28.21.Richard Dawkins256
28.22.More details257

Universal Darwinism - Basic principles

29.1.Natural selection259
29.2.Beyond biology259
29.3.Fundamental concepts259
29.4.Examples of natural destruction259
29.5.Examples of natural production260
29.6.Use in biology260
29.7.Observed frequencies260
29.8.Fundamental revisions260
29.9.Evolution formalised261
29.10.Richard Lewontin 261
29.11.Daniel Dennett262
29.12.Susan Blackmore262
29.13.Gary Boyd263
29.14.William H. Calvin263
29.15.Eliezer Yudkowsky264
29.16.Tim Tyler265

Evolution revolution - The changes needed

30.1.Living in the past267
30.2.Ignoring humans267
30.3.Human exceptionalism267
30.4.Delegation of responsibility267
30.5.Too many differences268
30.6.Other theories268
30.7.Radical shift268

Memetic takeover - Memes triumphant

31.1.Takeovers in organic evolution270
31.2.Takeovers in cultural evolution270
31.3.Evolution of writing270
31.4.Evolution of land transportation271
31.5.Evolution of manned flight272
31.6.Evolution of thinking272
31.7.The rise of the new organisms273
31.8.Automation - takeover in progress274
31.9.Meme's eye view274
31.10.Genetic takeover276
31.11.Memetic takeover276
31.12.Possible paths277
31.13.Meme impact278
31.14.Extinction possibility278
31.15.The modern takeover279





Alphabetical index


Note: page numbers and a few other details have changed a little since this was published.