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/meem/ [By analogy with "gene"] Richard Dawkins's term for an idea considered as a replicator, especially with the connotation that memes parasitise people into propagating them much as viruses do.

Memes can be considered the unit of cultural evolution. Ideas can evolve in a way analogous to biological evolution. Some ideas survive better than others; ideas can mutate through, for example, misunderstandings; and two ideas can recombine to produce a new idea involving elements of each parent idea.

The term is used especially in the phrase "meme complex" denoting a group of mutually supporting memes that form an organised belief system, such as a religion. However, "meme" is often misused to mean "meme complex".

Use of the term connotes acceptance of the idea that in humans (and presumably other tool- and language-using sophonts) cultural evolution by selection of adaptive ideas has become more important than biological evolution by selection of hereditary traits. Hackers find this idea congenial for tolerably obvious reasons.

See also memetic algorithm.


(Pronounced "meem") A trend, belief, fashion or phrase that is passed from generation to generation through imitation and behavioral replication. Coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book "The Selfish Gene," memes and memetics are the cultural counterpart to the biological study of genes and genetics. Using the evolution analogy, Dawkins observed that human cultures evolve via "contagious" communications in a manner similar to the gene pool of populations over time. See Internet meme.
References in periodicals archive ?
A memetic random-key genetic algorithm for a symmetric multi-objective traveling salesman problem, Computers and Industrial Engineering 55(2): 439-149.
The Design of Memetic Algorithms for Scheduling and Timetabling Problems.
The fields of memetics and memography continue to generate many publications (Doyle, 2006; Sterelny, 2006; Blackmore, 2005; Brodie, 2004; Blute, 2005).
Yet Dawkins notes that memetic theory still cannot account for consciousness, and Dennett claims that there is no single place in the brain where everything "comes together" (see Menuge, 2004, p.
The Endangered Meme: Toward the Conservation of Traditional Knowledge, Indigenous Culture, and Memetic Diversity.
One of the underlying assumptions in our memetic drama of the 100,000-year-old disoriented parvenu is that the human cognitive apparatus is more liable to adapt to environmental stimuli earlier in life.
We will see that any genetic or memetic adaptation is necessarily an ecological change.
This matters because the first scenario is memetic in that the ideas are ultimately responsible for their own success, while the second is not because it implies that ideas are at the mercy of the scientists who take them up.
Gordon, Note, The Implications of Memetic for the Cultural Defense, 50 DUKE L.
Social selection does not proceed via genes but via memory, consciousness, and language, which ensure the mimetic copying and memetic remembering of group practice.
This work is focussed on the development and analysis of a new class of algorithms, called cellular memetic algorithms cMAs), which will be evaluated here on the satisfiability problem (SAT).
8) In her book The Meme Machine, psychologist Susan Blackmore asserts that the design of our minds can only be understood in terms of memetic selection.