The Electric Meme: A New Theory of How We Think by Robert Aunger

By Robert Aunger

In his defining booklet, The egocentric Gene, Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins sought to explain cultural evolution in organic phrases with the newly coined time period "meme," a metaphorical info particle that replicates itself as humans trade details, because the cultural identical of the gene, the replicating agent of organic evolution. right here, Cambridge anthropologist Aunger (Darwinizing tradition: The prestige of Memetics as a technological know-how) theorizes at the nature of this so-called "thought gene." In doing so, Aunger cash a time period of his personal, "neuromemetics," presenting that memes are in truth self-replicating electric fees within the nodes of our brains. the writer explains that the shift in standpoint from Dawkins's in basic terms social memetics to a memetics operating on the intercellular point is such as sociobiology's view of social habit as a genetic trait topic to evolution. this can be an bold booklet on a par with Susan Blackmore's The Meme computer. in contrast to the handful of pop-culture remedies in the market, Aunger steers away from the preferred snapshot of the meme as a VD-like mind parasite glided by note of mouth. That stated, this e-book is that infrequent hybrid of crossover technological know-how writing that includes sufficient highbrow punch to warrant considerate peer evaluation, and but may still attract these bold common readers who're available in the market for a megadose of brain sweet.

Show description

Read or Download The Electric Meme: A New Theory of How We Think PDF

Best culture books

Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia

This encyclopedia covers the whole lot of the Celtic international, either via time and throughout geography. even supposing emphasizing the parts the place Celtic languages and traditions live on into the current, the paintings doesn't moderate the reaches of the Celtic empire, which was once the biggest language and cultural team in the world sooner than the increase of Rome. In a few 1,500 articles, many representing unique study via the best Celtic students, the paintings covers the Celts from prehistory to the current, giving accomplished remedy to all subject matters from fable to tune, faith to rulers, literature to language, govt to video games, and all themes in between.

Entry into the wealthy international of Celtic scholarship has been tough: The to be had details has to be teased out of dense scholarly tomes or light-weight books emphasizing such renowned parts of Celtic culture as wee humans, Druids, and blue-painted pagans. whereas this paintings treats these subject matters inside its extensive scope, the data is gifted as scholarship, with out the pop patina.

Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures

For greater than 30 years, well known anthropologist Wade Davis has traveled the globe, learning the mysteries of sacred crops and celebrating the world’s conventional cultures. His ardour as an ethnobotanist has introduced him to the very heart of indigenous existence in locations as distant and numerous because the Canadian Arctic, the deserts of North Africa, the rain forests of Borneo, the mountains of Tibet, and the surreal cultural panorama of Haiti.

Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition (Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology)

"Scaffolding" is an idea that's turning into widespread throughout disciplines. This booklet investigates universal threads in different functions of scaffolding, together with theoretical biology, cognitive technological know-how, social concept, technological know-how and know-how reports, and human improvement. regardless of its frequent use, the concept that of scaffolding is usually given brief shrift; the members to this quantity, from a number of disciplines, provide a extra totally constructed research of scaffolding that highlights the position of temporal and transitority assets in improvement, largely conceived, throughout options of tradition, cognition, and evolution.

The Best Business Writing 2013

An anthology Malcolm Gladwell has referred to as "riveting and indispensable," the simplest company Writing is a far-ranging survey of business's dynamic dating with politics, tradition, and lifestyles. This year's decisions comprise John Markoff ( long island occasions) on recommendations in robotic expertise and the decline of the manufacturing facility employee; Evgeny Morozov ( New Republic) at the questionable worth of the preferred TED convention sequence and the belief at the back of it; Paul Kiel ( ProPublica) at the ripple results of the continued foreclosures difficulty; and the notorious op-ed via Greg Smith, released within the big apple occasions, asserting his holiday with Goldman Sachs over its buying and selling practices and corrupt company ethos.

Extra info for The Electric Meme: A New Theory of How We Think

Example text

So folks in Peoria, where it’s cold, wear warmer clothing and have a word for snow, while people in Pongo-Pongo wear next to nothing and have never heard of a frightfully cold substance that lies about on the ground. Sociobiologists claim that so-called “cultural” variation is the result of an interaction between genes and environment. The way in which a genetic trait manifests itself is not heritable; instead it is the product of a specific interaction. Uproot a Chinese man and fly him to Los Angeles.

But such a bias must be in place, and be used by many people, for this period of very rapid adoption to take place. The fact that novelties are a ubiquitous component of any culture— just think of the constant turnover of fads and technology-inspired behaviors and ideas—suggests that cultural transmission is an important influence on how people in a group come to share their beliefs and values. The implication of these models is that the social transmission of information is important indeed and should not be cast aside as a trivial footnote to evolution.

Typically this bias could favor traits exhibited by prestigious individuals or by the majority of those observed from the individual’s social group (a process called “conformist transmission”). But such a bias must be in place, and be used by many people, for this period of very rapid adoption to take place. The fact that novelties are a ubiquitous component of any culture— just think of the constant turnover of fads and technology-inspired behaviors and ideas—suggests that cultural transmission is an important influence on how people in a group come to share their beliefs and values.

Download PDF sample

Rated 4.13 of 5 – based on 41 votes