What Defines a Meme? – Our world is a place where information can behave like human genes and ideas can replicate, mutate and evolve
What would it mean for a replicator to exist without chemistry? “I think that a new kind of replicator has recently emerged on this very planet,” Dawkins proclaimed near the end of his first book, The Selfish Gene, in 1976. “It is staring us in the face. It is still in its infancy, still drifting clumsily about in its primeval soup, but already it is achieving evolutionary change at a rate that leaves the old gene panting far behind.” That “soup” is human culture; the vector of transmission is language, and the spawning ground is the brain.
For this bodiless replicator itself, Dawkins proposed a name. He called it the meme, and it became his most memorable invention, far more influential than his selfish genes or his later proselytizing against religiosity. “Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation,” he wrote. They compete with one another for limited resources: brain time or bandwidth. They compete most of all for attention.
The author of this article, James Gleick, and Richard Dawkins are both smart. They’re commonly referred to as intellectuals. I wouldn’t argue with that. So if they want to define their meme as an idea that thrives in petition. Is something that can be digested, regurgitated and digested again and again. Well, it is their idea and their definition. Though this would not be the first time a word and it’s meaning has also been extended upon,whittled, plastered over and grown some mold in its journey through the mob and time. Most popular memes seem to be shallow substitutes for ideas. I rarely have actual ideas – Brownian motion, derivative calculus, Joycean prose, the law of gravity, buttons for collars, rhythmic music – are all ideas. That someone is a jerk, that plaid on plaid doesn’t work, that net based social networks are an idea, that a tax-less society creates the most jobs and wealth, are all memes, not ideas. Which is the thing abut ideas and popular cuture that probably corresponds to some algorithm, they become co-opted over time. At that point you have to make clear you are talking about the original concept, not the popular corruption.
I was searching for something related to taxes earlier today and found this post. It a relatively short space it puts to rest the pop meme the rich are beleaguered souls who are paying more than their fair share of taxes. More on Tax Fairness – We Pretty Much Have Flat Taxes Now
Yesterday, I showed graphically how average income tax rates are actually lower than most people think. In that last post, I introduced the idea that comparing income tax rates alone isn’t adequate. Since incomes below $106,150 are fully taxed for payroll taxes (Social Security/Medicare) but income over that threshold is payroll tax-free…
[ ]…So what do we learn from this? It shows us that if we look at the overall tax system in the U.S., the complex patchwork system of federal-state-local income taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc., we are pretty close to having a flat tax system.
The graph is one of those a picture says a thousand words situations.