Memetics Books

This is a collection of books related to the topic of memetics. The list is associated with my 2011 "Memetics" book - which is now available.

Memetics: Memes and the Science of Cultural Evolution by Tim Tyler (2011)
Memetics is the name commonly given to the study of memes - a term originally coined by Richard Dawkins to describe small inherited elements of human culture. Memes are the cultural equivalent of DNA genes - and memetics is the cultural equivalent of genetics. Memes have become ubiquitous in the modern world - but there has been relatively little proper scientific study of how they arise, spread and change - apparently due to turf wars within the social sciences and misguided resistance to Darwinian explanations being applied to human behaviour. However, with the modern explosion of internet memes, I think this is bound to change. With memes penetrating into every mass media channel, and with major companies riding on their coat tails for marketing purposes, social scientists will surely not be able to keep the subject at arm's length for much longer. This will be good - because an understanding of memes is important. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
Common searches: [Meme] [2009] [2010] [2011] [Clear search filters]
ImageTitle, author, date and description
Memetics / Cultural evolution
Cultural Evolution: How Darwinian Theory Can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences by Alex Mesoudi (2011)
Charles Darwin changed the course of scientific thinking by showing how evolution accounts for the stunning diversity and biological complexity of life on earth. Recently, there has also been increased interest in the social sciences in how Darwinian theory can explain human culture. Covering a wide range of topics, including fads, public policy, the spread of religion, and herd behavior in markets, Alex Mesoudi shows that human culture is itself an evolutionary process that exhibits the key Darwinian mechanisms of variation, competition, and inheritance. This cross-disciplinary volume focuses on the ways cultural phenomena can be studied scientifically—from theoretical modeling to lab experiments, archaeological fieldwork to ethnographic studies—and shows how apparently disparate methods can complement one another to the mutual benefit of the various social science disciplines. Cultural Evolution provides a thought-provoking argument that Darwinian evolutionary theory can both unify different branches of inquiry and enhance understanding of human behavior. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
Universal Darwinism: The path of knowledge by John Campbell (2011)
This book develops the paradigm that any complex entity must have an accurate internal model to inform it of the available resources and opportunities given its nature and environment. Such knowledge is necessary to make the entity’s complexity compatible with the second law. The model’s accuracy may only be maintained through Bayesian inference; updating the model upon the reception of new data or experience in accordance with Bayes' theorem. I argue further that Darwinian processes are a physical implementation of Bayesian inference. In quantum systems the internal model takes the form of the wave function and the process of Quantum Darwinism is seen as responsible for maintaining the predictive accuracy of the wave function. Such systems may be found throughout nature and include (system -internal model - theory explaining inference): 1. Quantum systems - wave function - quantum Darwinism 2. Biological systems - genome - natural selection 3. Brains - neural connections - Bayesian Brain & Synaptic Darwinism 4. Cultures - cultural knowledge, for example science - evolutionary epistemology The huge number of scientific theories in subject matter as diverse as quantum theory, cosmology and archeology which employ a Darwinian process to explain the creation and evolution of their subject matter motivates the meta-theory of Universal Darwinism, developed by Dawkins, Dennett, Blackmore and others. This book attempts to further develop this theory and to put it on the foundation of information theory. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
On the Origin of Tepees: The Evolution of Ideas (and Ourselves) by Jonnie Hughes (2011)
Why do some ideas spread, while others die off? Does human culture have its very own “survival of the fittest”? And if so, does that explain why our species is so different from the rest of life on Earth? Throughout history, we humans have prided ourselves on our capacity to have ideas, but perhaps this pride is misplaced. Perhaps ideas have us. After all, ideas do appear to have a life of their own. And it is they, not us, that benefit most when they are spread. Many biologists have already come to the opinion that our genes are selfish entities, tricking us into helping them to reproduce. Is it the same with our ideas? Jonnie Hughes, a science writer and documentary filmmaker, investigates the evolution of ideas in order to find out. Adopting the role of a cultural Charles Darwin, Hughes heads off, with his brother in tow, across the Midwest to observe firsthand the natural history of ideas—the patterns of their variation, inheritance, and selection in the cultural landscape. In place of Darwin’s oceanic islands, Hughes visits the “mind islands” of Native American tribes. Instead of finches, Hughes searches for signs of natural selection among the tepees. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
The Origin of Cultures by John Lin (2011)
The book investigates how information is acquired, processed and transmitted by the human mind and, based on this knowledge, formulates an original theory of cultural evolution to understand phenomena such as altruism, morality, ideology, and religion. Highly original and covering a wide range of subjects in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience, it addresses the obstacle faced by memetic theorists in their analysis of culture: that nobody really knows what goes on inside the mind or how mental experiences may direct cultural evolution. Part 1 of the book, How to Build a Conscious Robot with Feelings, breaks down information processing in the mind into purely mechanical components for analysis and implementation. Part 2, Cultural Evolution, uses the results to build a theory of cultural evolution to understand cultural phenomena. Book home page. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
The Origin of Everything via Universal Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Systems in Contention for Existence by D B Kelley (2011)
The Origin of Everything While the full title of the book that shook the world is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, the full title of its modern predacessor is The Origin of Everything via Universal Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Systems in Contention for Existence. Because Nature's many systems are so highly interactive, they often experience remarkable levels of competition. Survival of the fittest is therefore at work throughout the cosmos at large and has led to the emergence of every phenomenon in history. Consequently, the stability and self-organization of the entire universe is inevitable, as selection is not only ever-present, but is one of the most powerful principles at work in Nature.
Companion Book Summary for The Origin of Cultures by John Lin (2011)
120-page summary of the much larger book 'The Origin of Cultures'. Contains an introduction and a summary of each chapter. Book home page. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
Mimesis and Science: Empirical Research on Imitation and the Mimetic Theory of Culture and Religion (Studies in Violence, Mimesis and Culture) by Scott R. Garrels (Editor) (2011)
This exciting compendium brings together, for the first time, some of the foremost scholars of René Girard’s mimetic theory, with leading imitation researchers from the cognitive, developmental, and neuro sciences. These chapters explore some of the major discoveries and developments concerning the foundational, yet previously overlooked, role of imitation in human life, revealing the unique theoretical links that can now be made from the neural basis of social interaction to the structure and evolution of human culture and religion. Together, mimetic scholars and imitation researchers are on the cutting edge of some of the most important breakthroughs in understanding the distinctive human capacity for both incredible acts of empathy and compassion as well as mass antipathy and violence. As a result, this interdisciplinary volume promises to help shed light on some of the most pressing and complex questions of our contemporary world. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
CULT-URE: Ideas can be dangerous by Rian Hughes (2011)
Culture is your local consensus reality; your clothing, cuisine and hairstyle, the music you listen to, the films you see; your values, ideas, beliefs and prejudices. Culture, unlike race, is not quite an inevitability of birth, but ultimately, in its choice of statements, an intellectual position. Today culture has a powerful new vector: the internet. Ideas--from a YouTube video to a viral marketing phenomenon or a fundamentalist religion--are travelling further and faster, and changing the cultural landscape like never before. In a new electronic democracy of ideas, cultural power is devolving to the creative individual. Amid our symbol-drenched existences, we desperately need a way of decoding the messages that bombard us. Written and designed by author and artist Rian Hughes, and sporting such design features as a faux-leather cover, die-cuts and tip-ins, Cult-ure is the culmination of a decade's research into why and how we communicate. Revealing how ideas are transmitted through words, symbols and gestures, how such ideas gain cultural currency via the theory of the meme, this book provides a provocative exploration into media convergence within our digital age and an insider's guide into the changing nature of communications, perceptions and identities; it is the twenty-first century's answer to Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore's seminal graphic collaboration The Medium Is the Massage (which punned on McLuhan's famous motto "the medium is the message" to suggest the ways in which media directly tweaks our sensorium). Cult-ure is a guide to surviving the new media revolution.
The Art of Memetics by Edward Wilson, Wes Unruh and Ray Carney (2011)
The Art of Memetics is a much needed text on memes and how ideas grow might and power and spread as if by magic. There is more actual magic in memes than I ever saw before reading this master text by Edward Wilson and Wes Unruh. If you want your ideas to spread, you'll read this book twice. Available in full online. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
Spiral Guide to Meme by Jag S. (2011)
This book serves as an introductory guide to Meme and its types. The evolutionary principles of meme are discussed with explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. This spiral guide to Meme explains how Meme work, how they spread, and transmit. Meme are defined as cultural analogues to genes. Spiral guide uses a spiral model to enable the user through stages/cycles of topics. Spiral model most closely matches how learning really happens. Spiral guide takes an iterative approach rather than a linear approach. Each iteration is an independent capsule of knowledge.
Books with sections on memes/memetics
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch (2011)
Throughout history, mankind has struggled to understand life's mysteries, from the mundane to the seemingly miraculous. In this important new book, David Deutsch, an award-winning pioneer in the field of quantum computation, argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe. They have unlimited scope and power to cause change, and the quest to improve them is the basic regulating principle not only of science but of all successful human endeavor. This stream of ever improving explanations has infinite reach, according to Deutsch: we are subject only to the laws of physics, and they impose no upper boundary to what we can eventually understand, control, and achieve. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick (2011)
In a sense, The Information is a book about everything, from words themselves to talking drums, writing and lexicography, early attempts at an analytical engine, the telegraph and telephone, ENIAC, and the ubiquitous computers that followed. But that's just the 'History.' The 'Theory' focuses on such 20th-century notables as Claude Shannon, Norbert Wiener, Alan Turing, and others who worked on coding, decoding, and re-coding both the meaning and the myriad messages transmitted via the media of their times. In the 'Flood,' Gleick explains genetics as biology's mechanism for informational exchange - Is a chicken just an egg's way of making another egg? - and discusses self-replicating memes (ideas as different as earworms and racism) as information's own evolving meta-life forms. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed by Martin Nowak and Roger Highfield (2011)
EVOLUTION IS OFTEN PRESENTED AS A STRICTLY COMPETITIVE ENDEAVOR. This point of view has had serious implications for the way we see the mechanics of both science and culture. But scientists have long wondered how societies could have evolved without some measure of cooperation. And if there was cooperation involved, how could it have arisen from nature “red in tooth and claw”? Martin Nowak, one of the world’s experts on evolution and game theory, working here with bestselling science writer Roger Highfield, turns an important aspect of evolutionary theory on its head to explain why cooperation, not competition, has always been the key to the evolution of complexity. He offers a new explanation for the origin of life and a new theory for the origins of language, biology’s second greatest information revolution after the emergence of genes. SuperCooperators also brings to light his game-changing work on disease. Cancer is fundamentally a failure of the body’s cells to cooperate, Nowak has discovered, but organs are cleverly designed to foster cooperation, and he explains how this new understanding can be used in novel cancer treatments. Nowak and Highfield examine the phenomena of reciprocity, reputation, and reward, explaining how selfless behavior arises naturally from competition; how forgiveness, generosity, and kindness have a mathematical rationale; how companies can be better designed to promote cooperation; and how there is remarkable overlap between the recipe for cooperation that arises from quantitative analysis and the codes of conduct seen in major religions, such as the Golden Rule. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
Mood Matters: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers by John L. Casti (2011)
"Mood Matters" makes the radical assertion that all social events ranging from fashions in music and art to the rise and fall of civilizations are biased by the attitudes a society holds toward the future. When the "social mood" is positive and people look forward to the future, events of an entirely different character tend to occur than when society is pessimistic. The book presents many examples from every walk of life in support of this argument. In addition, methods are given to actually measure the social mood and to project it into the future in order to forecast what’s likely or not over varying periods of time. Casti's writing is a pleasure to read and its contents an eye-opener. Has a small section on memetics. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
Human Behavioral Ecology
Historical (before 1975)
From Wikipedia
From Yuppies to Rickrolling: The Evolution of Cultural and Internet Memes and the Theory of Memetics by Beatriz Scaglia (2011)
Memetics as a theory is the study of the presence and strength of memes in the collective cultural mind. Memes are ideas or groupings, self-perceptions, and imitable practices. This book explores the more traditional cultural memes such as the preppy or yuppie labels based on fashion and socioeconomic status, as well as the newer meme phenomenons via the internet such as viral marketing, lolcat, and the viral video, plus much more. While the internet has revolutionized the definition of memes, the human nature supporting it remains the same. This book claims to be comipled from high-quality Wikipedia articles. View on Google Books the book page, the author page, or the book contents.
Memetics, including: Daniel Dennett, Hugo De Garis, The Selfish Gene, Viruses Of The Mind, Susan Blackmore, Meme Pool, Viral Marketing, Opinion ... Meme Hack, Sociocultural Evolution by Hephaestus Books (2011)
This particular book is a collaboration focused on Memetics.
More info: Memetics is a theory of mental content based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution, which was originated by Richard Dawkins in the 1976 book The Selfish Gene. It purports to be an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer. A meme, analogous to a gene, is an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour (etc.) which is "hosted" in one or more individual minds, and which can reproduce itself from mind to mind. Thus what would otherwise be regarded as one individual influencing another to adopt a belief is seen memetically as a meme reproducing itself. As with genetics, particularly under Dawkins's interpretation, a meme's success may be due its contribution to the effectiveness of its host (i.e., a the meme is a useful, beneficial idea), or may be "selfish", in which case it could be considered a "virus of the mind". Memetics is notable for sidestepping the traditional concern with the truth of ideas and beliefs.


Tim Tyler | Contact |