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Authors work hard and I am inclined to be on their side, until they start in, quite gratuitously, with their libertarian interpretations of the U.S. Constitution, a meme out of context here, and hardly the only one. So yes, this is a biased review. First, if you have never (or barely) heard of memes you may find the book enlightening. Especially if you are in marketing and want the latest "theory of everything." The author does a good job of recapping evolution, viral replication, and cultural replication. Nicely summarized. After that, well... anything goes. It used to be that "theories of everything" were promulgated by people like Kant or Marx who had actually read everything. Today they are launched with little footing in history, philosophy, or sociology. Almost no attention is given here to the problematic ontology or definition of memes. How big or small a strand of information makes a meme? What causal mechanisms can be attributed to memes? With no definition "meme" can be applied to anything. And is. Including a rehash of such "psychology for salesmen" topics as operant conditioning and subliminal advertising. (By such a broad definition we might hypothesize that the nice feeling of splashing into water is the "meme" by which swimming pools use humans to reproduce themselves.) Take out the word "meme" and stick in "reflex" and little changes. But I sense myself getting cranky. It has long been my fear that under modern capitalism advances in cognitive science, genetics, and sociobiology will all develop as branches of market research in the hands of the Hayek Youth Movement, and this book seems to confirm that dread. Even so, if you want a brief, light overview of what is, in fact, something of a paradigm shift, this is reasonably well written and well read. I was not the right "host."
22 of 28 people found this review helpful
While I have to admit that it sounds a little like a sermon, the concept is easy to grasp and not dry at all. This is an good lesson in critical thinking for people who dont want to fall for dumb ideas.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
I struggle with what memetics offers beyond other theories of learning like behaviourism, social learning theory and then other things like NLP. Nor am I clear on how memes differ from norms but I guess it’s a catch all framework for anything transmitted between minds. If so, though, I think the book lacks breadth and depth (after all, that’s a hell of a lot of ground to cover!) Just a little research evidence would have strengthened the core arguments and made the whole framework more convincing.
Well read by the author and fun to listen to,
Beautifully written book on a fascinating subject-it's like a really good sequel to the selfish gene