Friday, 3 January 2014

Memes in the context of other brain viruses

Memes - especially deleterious memes - have been characterized by many as "viruses of the mind". However, they aren't the only brain viruses out there. They have to compete for that title with DNA-based exogenous viruses. These include Human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6), cytomegalovirus, rabies, JC virus, HIV, Borna disease virus, LCMV, and probably many others.

Schizophrenia has previously been speculated to be virus-mediated. The Borna disease virus has been linked to it. Endogenous retroviruses were also linked to it in 2010.

Recently, 'Jumping Genes' have been linked to schizophrenia - with significantly elevated levels of transposons being found in brain tissues of those afflicted with schizophrenia - and some other mental disorders.

Probably the most famous behaviour-control brain parasite in humans is Toxoplasmosis. It manipulates human behaviour working under the assumption the that human is a mouse. The Rabies virus is another brain parasite that infects humans and manipulates their behaviour, mostly under the assumption that they are lower animals.

However, there are probably many other behaviour-modifying parasites out there. A better understanding of these might help to improve public understanding of memetics. If people learn that their behaviour is being manipulated by DNA viruses, they may become more open to the proposal that their behaviour is also being manipulated by software viruses.


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