[time 358] memes

Ken Fisher (kenf@soc.plym.ac.uk)
Thu, 27 May 1999 17:31:34 GMT

Stephen said:

> Have you ever heard of "memes"?
> http://www.ed.cqu.edu.au/~bigumc/Meme/meme_definition.html,
> http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/cpace/infotech/cook/memedef.html

On the subject of memes, check out
I'll just copy the start of it:

            What will do absolutely anything to
                                     survive, even trick you into
                                     believing you exist? Susan
                                       Blackmore outlines the
                                 controversial ideas that inspired her
                                            latest book

            Hold out your arm in front of you. Whenever you
                         feel like it, of your own free will, flex
                         your wrist. Repeat this a few times, making
                         sure you do it as consciously as you can.
                         You'll probably experience some kind of
                         decision process, in which you hold back from
                         doing anything and then decide to act. Now
                         ask yourself, what began the process that led
                         to the action? Was it you?

                         Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet of the
                         University of California in San Francisco
                         asked volunteers to do exactly that. A clock
                         allowed the subjects to note exactly when
                         they decided to act, and by fitting
                         electrodes to their wrists, Libet could time
                         the start of the action. More electrodes on
                         their scalps recorded a particular brain wave
                         pattern called the readiness potential, which
                         occurs just before any complex action and is
                         associated with the brain planning its next

                         Libet's controversial finding was that the
                         decision to act came after the readiness
                         potential. It looks as though there is no
                         conscious "self" jumping into the synapses
                         and starting things off.

                         This and other research has led me to believe
                         that the idea of "self" is an illusion. You
                         are nothing more than a creation of genes and
                         memes in a unique environment. Memes are
                         ideas, skills, habits, stories, songs or
                         inventions that are passed from person to
                         person by imitation. They have shaped our
                         minds, leading to the evo-lution of big
                         brains and language because these served to
                         spread the memes. But the memes with the
                         cleverest trick are those that persuade us
                         that our "selves" really exist. We all live
                         our lives as a lie. The memes have made us do
                         it--because giving us the illusion of "self"
                         helps them to survive and spread.

What's everyone's thoughts about that???


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