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263 Susan Blackmore: The Meme Machine

Memes are cultural replicators that influence human behavior, creating a new paradigm for the understanding of cultural evolution.

Susan Blackmore: The Meme Machine


The book discusses the concept of memes, cultural replicators that spread from person to person, akin to the biological concept of genes. Memes can be ideas, catchphrases, songs, and other cultural artifacts that can be passed on and imitated by others. The authors explore how memes spread and compete with one another, and how they influence human behavior and culture. They argue that the study of memes can provide a new way of understanding cultural evolution and how ideas and behaviors spread in society.


Title: The Meme Machine

Author: Susan Blackmore

Publishing Year: 2019

Publisher: Audible Studios

Length: 11 hours and 32 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Memes are units of cultural transmission, much like genes are units of biological transmission.
  2. Memes compete for attention and resources in a cultural environment, much like organisms compete for resources in an ecological environment.
  3. Memes can influence human behavior and culture, shaping how people think and act.
  4. The internet has created a new environment for the spread and evolution of memes, allowing them to spread at an unprecedented rate.
  5. Understanding the mechanisms of meme transmission and competition can provide insights into the evolution of human culture and behavior.
Susan Blackmore: The Meme Machine

5 funny quotes

  1. "Memes are not for the faint-hearted, as they can be deadly serious or riotously funny."
  2. "Memes can be like the Swiss Army knife of the mind, with each tool designed to be used in a different situation."
  3. "Memes are like cultural parasites, feeding on our brains and shaping our thoughts and behaviors in often strange and unexpected ways."
  4. "The world is full of memes, from catchy advertising jingles to silly dance crazes, and we can't seem to get enough of them."
  5. "Memes can be like fashion trends, coming and going with the seasons, but always leaving an impression on our minds."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Memes are not trivial distractions but rather are behind everything from the way we think and talk to the way we fight wars and create art."
  2. "When it comes to the evolution of the human mind, it is not our genes that have the last say but the memes that culture creates."
  3. "The spread of memes is not just a result of human nature, it is human nature."
  4. "Memes are like viruses, replicating and spreading themselves throughout the population, often at the expense of the hosts they occupy."
  5. "Memes may have coevolved with human brains, driving their development and enabling humans to become the dominant species on Earth."

5 dilemmas

  1. Are memes just harmless cultural artifacts, or can they have a negative impact on our mental health and well-being?
  2. Can we ever truly control the spread of memes, or are they too ingrained in human nature and culture to be stopped?
  3. How can we distinguish between memes that are helpful and those that are harmful to our societies and cultures?
  4. Are memes just a product of human culture, or could other species also have their own versions of memes?
  5. How can we reconcile the fact that memes are both a driving force behind human creativity and progress, but also a potential source of conflict and division in society?

5 examples

  1. "The internet has made it easier than ever for memes to spread rapidly and infect large numbers of people, as demonstrated by the popularity of viral marketing campaigns like the Old Spice Guy."
  2. "Political memes have played a role in shaping public opinion and mobilizing voters, as seen in the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama."
  3. "The fashion industry is a prime example of memes at work, as trends in clothing and style are constantly changing and evolving."
  4. "The music industry is another area where memes play a major role, with new genres and styles emerging all the time and spreading rapidly through the culture."
  5. "Sports memes are a popular way for fans to express their love for their favorite teams and players, with viral videos and images spreading quickly on social media."

Referenced books

  1. "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins
  2. "The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene" by Richard Dawkins
  3. "Climbing Mount Improbable" by Richard Dawkins
  4. "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design" by Richard Dawkins
  5. "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin


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"Memes are like cultural parasites, feeding on our brains and shaping our thoughts and behaviors in often strange and unexpected ways."

Susan Blackmore: The Meme Machine
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