Starting with the deceptively simple story of an ant, Dan Dennett unleashes a dazzling sequence of ideas, making a powerful case for the existence of "memes" — a term coined by Richard Dawkins for mental concepts that are literally alive and capable of spreading from brain to brain.
On the way, look out for:
• a powerful one-sentence secret of happiness
• a compelling insight into terrorists’ motivation
• a chilling view of Islam
And just when you think you know where the talk’s heading, it dramatically shifts direction and questions some of our fundamental assumptions.
This kind of explains the viral memes in many societies in the west and especially the east. I was bought up in a strong Hindu sub-culture which embraces the idea of a elephant headed god – Ganesha. During the annual festival the normally benign worship turns into euphoria. I let go of the meme a long time ago, as I just cant bear the concept of a god, any god (esp. Elephant headed humanoid god.) in a rational society. However, many of my friends and family, while not particulary religious, do continue on with the traditions and ceremonies involved. The meme survives almost irrespective of daily professions (Doctors, Engineers, Writers, Scientists…), activities or personal beliefs. A cousin admitted that he was an agnostic, but still took part in the ceremonies because it was a part of his culture. It seems that otherwise rational people are often corrupted by an overwhelming desire to preserve their cultures. Is this a viral meme fighting for survival?
What is wrong with culture attrition [sic] anyways? It was part of a Hindu sub-culture to burn widows on their husbands pyre. That didn’t survive… so why the desire to preserve other parts of that culture? Casteism, which is not dissimilar to racism, finds legal and government backing in India.
When subjected to individual meme’s in a culture or religion, humans form groups to oppose assimilation or attrition. Yet, we are united in following the meme, that we are to preserve these viral agglomeration of memes, sometimes at whatever cost necessary.