Customer Reviews for

Meme Machine

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2008

    Extremely recommended

    While this book does have a fair share of weaknesses in its arguments, one can't expect an errorproof writing when it is about a subject still considered controversial. I think Blackmore does a great job with what is known on the subject and anyone interested in evolutionary biology/ psychology should read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2002

    thought-provoking

    Some of the things I liked about this book: 1. existing ideas are thoroughly discussed before novel ideas are introduced 2. the importance of imitation in meme transmission is emphasized 3. the discussion of the selfplex (meme complex associated with `self¿) is well done Some of the things I disliked about this book: 1. I could not follow the arguments regarding the memetic role in the development of large brains, the development of language, etc. A major problem is the author¿s unfortunate tendency to anthropomorphize memes. The following is typical: ¿The selfplex is not there to make your life easier; it is there for the propagation of the memes that make it up.¿ (p.245) This is wrong. The selfplex exists because it has sucessfully competed against all other memes competing for the same role within the mind. The selfplex is not ¿for¿ anything. Interestingly, on at least two occaisons, the author admits that she is being inaccurate when anthropomorphizing memes: ¿Note that I said that `the memes are busy devising¿. This translates into the more accurate statement that memes for DNA testing, sequencing the human genome, and genetic engineering are successfully replicating in today¿s world.¿ (p.146) and ¿...we can expect memes to have devised strategies for getting into altruistic people without actually being altruism memes themselves (or more accurately - memes that happened to have such strategies should have survived better that those without...)¿ (p.168). I may have better understood the author¿s arguments if they had been couched entirely within the language of Universal Darwinism: heredity, selection, and variation. I hope that the author someday reworks her arguments accordingly. 2. One of the author¿s key arguments is that the memetic `dog¿ can go off of the genetic `leash¿ and become a `driving force¿ in its own right. I disagree. Firstly, as mentioned above, neither genes nor memes can ever be considered `driving forces.¿ The genetic and memetic ¿environments¿ are the real driving forces that determine which genes and memes replicate successfully. Secondly, the environment in which memes compete is greatly influenced by genes. The nature of a human host¿s emotional response to a meme is a product of knowledge encoded in its genes. This emotional response greatly influences whether a particular meme will successfully infect the host. It is true that a renegade meme that is unfavorable to the propagation of the genes can infect a host (e.g. the contraception and adoption memes). However, the genes still play a substantial role in creating the mental environment in which a renegade meme flourishes. I don¿t see how we can ever divorce memes from genes without unrealistically idealizing the human mental environment. I do agree with the author that memes can substantially change the environment in which genes compete. Therefore, it seems to me that the co-evolutionary gene/meme model is the ONLY model that completely describes gene/meme dynamics. Despite the above reservations, I recommend this book to all individuals interested in memetics.

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