RE: Structure of facts and opinions

Richard Brodie (
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 08:40:52 -0700

From: "Richard Brodie" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: Structure of facts and opinions
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 08:40:52 -0700
In-Reply-To: <>

Responding to Bruce Edmonds...

While it would be comforting to know the physical structure of memory, the
fact that we don't yet know it can hardly argue against its existence at
all. We call the replicable components of learned memory "memes." Sure,
there are replicators outside the mind. But there are also replicators
inside the mind: memes. You want to focus on replicators outside the mind? I
think that's great. I called then viruses of the mind. You call them
whatever you want. The point is that whether inside or outside, these
replicators require human minds to replicate.

Most self-help books are an attempt to transform dysfunctional memes whose
locus is inside the mind into better-functioning memes by the use of a
benign mind virus. A best-selling book replicates outside of minds (mine
personally uses a printing press in Ann Arbor, Michigan to self-replicate).
But it would never happen if it was not infecting many minds with its memes
AND with the "recommend me" meme. And when it infects Oprah Winfrey's mind,
as mine recently did: watch out!

Memes influence behavior They may be long-lasting, as understanding of a
language, or quite ephemeral, as the notion to participate in a sports cheer
such as "the wave." Either way, they live in minds, influence behavior, and
thereby cause replication in other minds.

For a great and very readable study of cultural "co-evolution" in which
cultural evolution is looked at as happening symbiotically both inside and
outside of minds, see Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart, "Figments of Reality." I
have posted a review of it on my Memetics Bookstore web page,

All the best memes,


Richard Brodie
Author, "Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme"
Free newsletter! Visit Meme Central at

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