from Marketing Memetics, by Michael Taylor
You might be wondering why you haven’t heard of Memetic Theory before. Dawkins coined the term ‘meme’ in 1976, and aside from internet memes (a hijacking of the term), it’s barely discussed in marketing today. Dawkins’ status as an outspoken Atheist probably didn’t help, but Memetics says nothing about morality: it’s simply a tool for understanding how ideas – good or bad – spread through the population. The prevailing consensus is that the ‘meme’ is a nice metaphor, but one we shouldn’t stretch too far. Many consider Memetics is a fascinating and promising pseudoscience, but further research and experimentation is needed.
Memes are hard to define, quantify, and measure – they’re not scientifically verifiable, at least until we have better neuroimaging tools. Information doesn’t spread in the same way as genetic material – it doesn’t have the same physical limitations. Genes spread through reproduction, mutating randomly, whereas memes are deliberately altered by human creativity. Memes aren’t really alive: they don’t act in their own interest to increase their chances of survival. We’re also oversimplifying the relationship between the meme and the human carrying them.
Of course, the same goes for Genes. Genes that don’t reproduce will die out – only the fittest survive. The Genes aren’t really ‘selfish’ – they don’t make choices to maximize their survival – but on evolutionary timescales it’s helpful to think of them that way. I’m not a Scientist, I’m a Marketer who found these ideas useful, which compelled me to pass them on. If you also find them useful, you’ll remember them and share them with others. If not, they’ll die out. You see, Memetics works even if you don’t believe in it.
Criticism Of Memetic Theory
Critics of Memetics
In Defense of Advertising
Lasting evolutionary change takes about one million years
Richard Dawkins on the internet's hijacking of the word 'meme’
The Selfish Gene, Dawkins