Monday, March 07, 2016

Meme evolution

Languages, cultures, traditions, religions and other man-made ideas can be plotted over time as a branching tree, almost exactly like the evolutionary history of life. Hence the term "meme", an analogy where the gene is replaced by an idea that morphs, changes and spreads over time; it's a good analogy that works well even though not all ideas are subject to Darwinian selection pressures (like an idea enforced by powerful people) and ideas can merge in ways species can't. This is especially true of the Abrahamic religions where (because they are very recent inventions relative to geological time) their lineages can much more clearly be seen, Islam was largely plagiarised from Christianity which in turn sprung from Judaism; very much like English is a mash up of French and Germanic languages and French sprung from Latin etc. When it comes to memes you obviously need concious beings to create, develop and most importantly "host" them. If you think about this and extrapolate it to it's logical conclusion, there must have been a time on Earth when "ideas" didn't exist at all. These days we have at least a few billion conscious brains available to host memes of all kinds; it's surprising that the good ones are so scarce.

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