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