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Please to be explaining how this is pseudoscience? --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 06:23, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

A mystical belief that ideas, culture, and beliefs take on a life of their own in an almost extrasensory way, spread and behave much as genetic material, *isn't* a pseudoscientific crank idea? It's the very definition of one. The only reason this has escaped such a label is it was invented by Richard Dawkins, who as we all know is revered by skeptics. Secret Squirrel 06:31, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
I think you're taking the concept a bit too literal. It's a social scientific model for explaining how such things propagate and develop, i.e. in a manner which is similar to that of viruses and genetics. No one is claiming they're actually alive. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 06:43, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
Yes, in one sense it's blindingly obvious that ideas grow and spread. The concept of memes simply tries to explore how this happens.--Bobbing up 06:55, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
I have yet to understand why one single theoretical concept about how ideas spread being presented nowadays as the way they spread isn't a pseudoscience. Are there any scientific studies backing it up or is it all just "meme is a commonly understood concept now so it should be un-critically presented as the way it is"? Also, I have heard memes described in exactly that way, of being actually alive, spreading in near-psychic or extrasensory ways, being transmitted and recombined just like genetic material. To the extent this latter, rather mystical view of memes exists, it is a crank idea. Then there is the other extreme, using the term to describe things like lolcats and "which Star Trek character are you" quizzes being passed around on blogs, which aren't even memes in the original sense of the word, but the term has stuck. Secret Squirrel 17:25, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
Describing them as being "alive" may verge on pseudoscience, just as describing, say, a computer virus as being alive. But the concept itself is a valid one. I suppose now I'll have to do some research for you (maybe later this evening) to justify part of my position. Here are some powerful memes... monotheism, bigger is better, new is better (both marketing supported of course), "where's the beef" (ditto), "everyone knows government can't do anything as efficiently as the free marketplace" (think how that one has spread and affected modern life!), "no new taxes", "God is dead", the starving artist/the alcoholic artist, etc. etc. These are not just "ideas" or impressions, they take on a (metaphoric) life of their own, and "grow" and spread through minds - forming the "meme pool" of humanity at any given time. I learned about lolcats and lolcatspeak, for instance, on RW, not from the "source" - I picked a lot of it up without even realizing there was an internet phenomena behind it. I just thought it was funny, and imitated others with my own versions. humanUser talk:Human 18:20, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
While trying desperately not to be making this 'Stomp on Squirrels Day', I agree. It's not pseudoscience, it's a theory, and it's observable in daily life. While there may well be fascinating psycho-social mechanisms that create the marketplace of ideas, the word 'Meme' neatly sums up a simple social phenomenon we can all see. DogP 18:25, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
And, the hypothesis is that some kinds of memes actually are more "infectious" because they literally "bond" to the way the human brain is structured, the same way RNA is used to make proteins and certain drugs only interact with specific parts of the body (or brain). How well this can be tested and explored (or has been) is part of getting the idea to progress to anything like "theory" status. PS, I think Scientology was an "experiment before the hypothesis" along these lines. humanUser talk:Human 18:31, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Grammar Help[edit]

and "lolcats" are a popular emergent meme. -- is this correct, cause it seems to me that either "lolcats" is a single meme, or "lolcats" are memes. have a plural be a single meme seems odd, but I wanted someone who is a real grammar geek to look at it.--WaitingforGodot 10:32, 28 July 2008 (EDT)

"lolcats" is a single meme.PFoster 10:38, 28 July 2008 (EDT)
Or you could also regard them as a series of interconnected memes in which case you could refer to a "memeplex".--Bobbing up 11:51, 28 July 2008 (EDT)
I love this century. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 12:02, 28 July 2008 (EDT)


Tell Philip! Sterilewalkie-talkie 01:48, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Memes obviously cannot increase their information via mutation, that's just a silly idea Shannon. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:27, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

It´s made a simple: Dawkins is an pseudoscientist, and memes theory no support scientific evidience. Paradojic, the pseudoskpeticism validate Dawkins. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 06:05, 26 December 2010

What? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 22:07, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
Memetics is considered unfalsifiable. This puts it on par with string theory - and to those who worship at the Church of Karl Popper, this makes it pseudoscientific (and this is why I don't agree with Popper's definition as a be-all-and-end-all). That's not to say there isn't evidence, as an analytical method memetics can be very interesting. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 01:54, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, well, in a way Dawkins is. However, being my favourite atheist (myself considering myself religious, although most fundamentalist scum wouldn't agree), he has stimulated a debate that might actually be usable for semiotics, stressing the complexes of semes and compatibility issues between semes in a complex. He's a stimulating guy that quite often is a bit provocative and intellectually sloppy, but nevertheless... Rursus dixit (yada³!) 09:21, 10 January 2012 (UTC)


Nice article. I like it. "Memes" (pardon), "semes" are healthy things. Like for example the skeptic semplex. Rursus dixit (yada³!) 09:16, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

The concept is a 'useful thing' even if somewhat fuzzily used by participants so will survive - and when will the book 'The Selfish Meme' appear? (talk) 18:22, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

The word 'seme' is the word for the dominant partner in a yaoi (soft gay erotica targeted at females, produced in japan) couple. Mind soap! Mind soap!±Knightoftldrsig.pngKnightOfTL;DRwalls of text while-u-wait 18:31, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Is yaoi similar to slashfiction (which arises from 'authoress can't decide which chap she prefers, so has them both/all')? (talk) 15:14, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Memes and folklore[edit]

As a longtime student of folklore, I've often wondered what "memetics" really adds to the folk process. Now, folkloristics has at various times in the past been beset by purist movements, and there are those who claim that only material transmitted by oral tradition counts as "real" folklore, but that's pretty much fallen by the wayside. In folklore, traditional images, narratives, poems, songs, and other cultural tokens are preserved in part, subject to update with changing times and values, and retransmitted in new forms. Folklorists have been studying how this works since the early 20th century. I'm not sure what adding metaphors about Darwinian survival really adds. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 14:16, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Hey, we agree on something! I think it comes down to the indiscriminate application of a good idea. Another precursor to the meme, the "unit-idea," was proposed by the historian A.O. Lovejoy in his 1936 book The Great Chain of Being. This idea has similarly been rejected as overly simplistic by contemporary historians. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 14:52, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
The folklore approach, revolving around the transmission of cultural traditions, seems to be more fruitful because it's closer to the material. A Darwinian or cladistic approach might be able to discover how the American love song Shady Grove relates to the British murder ballad Matty Groves. But merely noting the forking of two versions of the song, or noting that an altered version thrived where the parent died out, doesn't tell you a great deal. The American version often keeps the shape of the original melody but sometimes transposes it into a major key. The lyrics are very different. This had something to do with the tastes of the people who left one version be and ran with the other. You could translate this into comparable 'traits' of either version that enhanced its 'survivability', but the observation that Americans seemed to prefer a more upbeat version strikes me as a bit more to the point. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 18:03, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Whatever its 'scientific' basis[edit]

... the concept of 'a meme' is a 'generally useful thing/concept/shorthand term/abstract object.' (talk) 17:04, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

Very useful. I will be working with the great Doug West this summer to reimagine the idea of memetics from a discrete math perspective, combining ideas from graph theory and algebraic geometry to try and propose a different approach on the study of "memes". We have decided against using the term meme, mostly because the term has itself become a "meme" and does not have sufficient rigor to allow for analysis. The underlying idea of memetics and signaling is very intriguing and warrants closer evaluation. Some early results in studying information topology seem good candidates to start and I would like to suggest to everyone here that this field is important to study and motivate it with this: what would the past world elections have been like in a world without memes spreading rapidly on the internet? What would ISIS have been able to accomplish without twitter (and more formally, what is the nature of the radicalicalization meme)? Finally, if you can consider momentarily how interconnected we have become, what happens when appealing bad ideas infect the psyche of everyone?

Even the United States Armed Forces have begun to research memetics, but this is all still in a primitive stage and the language to discuss these matters needs to grow. It is not worth getting stuck on one idea (gene-meme analogy), which is why the first stage in discussing this will be to seed discussion rooms with the idea and watch the process occur. (talk) 13:22, 19 April 2016 (UTC)

You sound like a "social media expert". -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 13:40, 19 April 2016 (UTC)