memes and bugs

January 5, 2001
Quote of the Moment
"What is so wrong with culture that it should be really conspicuous in only one species?"
--Richerson and Boyd (via Susan Blackmore's The Meme Machine)

I'm reading Blackmore's The Meme Machine, I'm roughly halfway through. The first part wasn't too convincing, where she defines memes strictly in terms of imitation, but now she's bringing up some good points. Seeing the conflict between our memes and our genes is interesting: the ideas we have and patterns of behavior we follow are no longer certain to be good for us in terms of reproductive capability. While clearly there's been some benefit, or otherwise wouldn't be the force that we are on the planet, it's wise to keep in mind that biomass-wise, the insects are more than holding their own 'against us'-- in that sense, their genes are 'better' than ours. (Arguably. "Insects" forms a much more diverse group than "People", and I'm not sure how Insects are against all Mammals, say.)

Still, our meme-laden brains like to think we're the best thing going. There's some quote out there (couldn't find it on Google, drat) along the lines of "I used to think that my brain was my best organ...then I thought about what was telling me this." Same goes for our brains and method of making it as a species in general.