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42 43 memes selfreplicating thoughts and cultural viruses Using biological evolution to help better understand cultural evolution, Richard Dawkins, in 1976, invented the concept of the meme as the cultural equivalent to the gene, defining it as unit of cultural information existing within a meme pool. Memes manifest from thoughts or discoveries, and either survive in the meme pool or die off, depending on their value as perceived by individuals. Memes may also be represented in cultural patterns. A selection, perhaps, for a preference for a particular way of dressing, dining, or dancing, sends out cultural information arrays, which offer differing benefits to each individual that comes into contact with it. As this information feeds back between individuals and their groups, the effects spread, and subcultures form. Memetics, the study of memes, describes how fashions come and go in what are often compared to viral or contagious effects. Other examples of memetic patterns include words, songs, phrases, beliefs, trends, habits and so on. Memegene coevolution, or DuelInheritance Theory, explains the ecology responsible for some of our ways of doing things and their genetic influences. Lactose tolerance, the Western acquisition of an adaptation involving increased tolerance to cows milk, is just one example. Other theories suggest stranger forces at play. Rupert Sheldrake, in studies from 19992005, showed that many people can sense when they are being stared at. His theory of morphic resonance proposes that similarly shaped ideas sometimes travel instantaneously between similarly shaped homes. Memes could be traveling between minds as quantum synchronicities in a holographic universe. Memes are everywhere, affecting many of your actions. Some memes express themselves in trendy dress or speech. Others are injected into society by advertisers and politicians. Like genes, they can survive intact for centuries. Memes can take over what we notice, and what happens. Folk wisdom is a fine kind of meme.
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