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Memetics is the study of memes and their social and cultural effects.[4] A theory of mental content based on Darwinian evolution, it has met praise and criticism for its non-traditional theory of self-replication and untested concepts.[14]


In 1976, Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene was published.[1] In the book Richard Dawkins invented the terms meme and memeticist. The term memeticist is treated in the book as synonymous with one whom would track trends in a market (shown below).[2]

If it is a style of women's shoe, the population memeticist may use sales statistics from shoe shops.

Memeticist is analogous to geneticist but instead of being one whom studies genes it's one whom studies memes.[3] The memeticist analyzes memes with the assumption they are analogous to genes though this analogy is not perfect.[3] The exact term memetics is never used in the book but is implied to exist by Richard Dawkin's term memeticist because one cannot be a memeticist unless one studies memes and memetics is the study of memes. In January, 1983, a column by Douglas Hofstadter was published in Scientific American titled Metamagical Themas which discussed the nature of memes.[6] In 1985 he published a book containing an eclectic collection of early 1980s articles of his published in Scientific American (shown below).[7]

METAMAGICAL THEMAS: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern DOUGLAS R. HOFSTADTER An Interlocked Collection of Literary, Scientific, and Artistic Studies

On page 65 of the book he suggests the study of memes should be called memetics after receiving a piece of mail suggesting the name (shown below).[8]

After writing this column, I received much mail testifying to the fact that there are a large number of people who have been infected by the "meme" meme. Arel Lucas suggested that the discipline that studies memes and their connections to humans and other potential carriers of them be known as memetics, by analogy with "genetics". I think this is a good suggestion, and hope it will be adopted.

Military Memetics

There is a distinct branch of memetics which studies the military uses of memes. The Department of Defense commissioned the Military Memetics Project in 2006.[11] A Memetics Compendium providing a basic overview of memetics was developed in the same project and finished in May 2008.[12] The Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin (MIPB) published an issue between April and June of 2010 which included a section titled Memetic Warfare: The Future of War.[13] President of Robot Technology Inc., Dr. Robert Finkelstein presented a 151-slide presentation on the uses of memes for meme warfare in Virginia on October 24th, 2011 (slide shown below).[10]

POTENTIAL MILITARY WORTH OF MEMETICS Information Operations (IO) Global Information Environment The integrated employment of Military Information Environment the core capabilities of Political Decisions Industry Foreign, US) Global Information Infrastructure lectronic warfare Computer network operations Psychological operations Military deception and operations security Systems Joint Systems Media CNN, Internet)Relevant Defense Information and Operations Infrastructure elligence Other National International Organizations Red Cross, World Health Organization) Infrastructure In concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own According to Joint Publication 3-13 Information Operations (13 February 2006)

Notable Terms

Memetics uses a specialized scholarly set of jargon that is key to understanding how memes function and why they function how they function. Notable terms from a memetic lexicon on the site Deoxy are listed below.[9]

  • Ideosphere: The realm of memetic evolution, as the biosphere is the realm of biological evolution. The entire memetic ecology. (Hofstadter.) The health of an ideosphere can be measured by its memetic diversity.[9]
  • Metameme: Any meme about memes (such as: "tolerance," "metaphor").[9]
  • Memeplex / Meme Complex: A set of mutually-assisting memes which have co-evolved a symbiotic relationship. Religious and political dogmas, social movements, artistic styles, traditions and customs, chain letters, paradigms, languages, etc. are meme-complexes.[9]
  • Meme Pool: The full diversity of memes accessible to a culture or individual. Learning languages and traveling are methods of expanding one's meme pool.[9]
  • Memotype: The actual information-content of a meme, as distinct from its sociotype. Can also refer to a class of similar memes.[9]

  • Sociotype: The social expression of a memotype, as the body of an organism is the physical expression (phenotype) of the gene (genotype). Hence, the Protestant Church is one sociotype of the Bible's memotype. Can also refer to a class of similar social organisations.[9]
  • Replication Strategy: Any memetic strategy used by a meme to encourage its host to repeat the meme to other people. The hook co-meme of a meme-complex.[9]
  • Mimicry: An infection strategy in which a meme attempts to imitate the semiotics of another successful meme. Examples include: pseudo-science (Creationism, UFOlogy); pseudo-rebelliousness (Heavy Metal); subversion by forgery (Situationist detournement).[9]
  • Censorship: Any attempt to hinder the spread of a meme by eliminating its vectors. Hence, censorship is analogous to attempts to halt diseases by spraying insecticides. Censorship can never fully kill off an offensive meme, and may actually help to promote the meme's most virulent strain, while killing off milder forms.[9]


Online Relevance

Know Your Meme is a popular meme documentation site which first went live November 25th, 2007 (logo shown below).[15] It to date has over 20,000 entries in its database, half of which are meme documentation entries mostly consisting of internet memes.[16] Encyclopedia Dramatica is a popular internet documentation site which satirically documents all their pages often while in the process utilizing pornography and vigorous swearing.[17] A large portion of their entries are naturally related to internet memes.[18] TV Tropes documents memes in the more traditional definition of what a meme is, in that they document not only internet memes but also memes applied in genres of entertainment and pop-culture.[19]


The Meme Machine is a science book by psychologist Susan Blackmore published in 2000. In the book she discusses the potential empirical and analytical evidence of memes and core issues with the study of memes.[20] She discussed the nature of memes and the book in a TED Talks video (shown below). The Selfish Meme: A Critical Reassessment is a book by PhD Kate Distin published in December of 2004. She discusses the implications of us being meme machines following memetic algorithms and proposes culture is both a product of memetic evolution and human creativity.[22] Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme is an essay by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins first published in his 1993 book Dennett and His Critics: Demystifying Mind. In it he discusses how religion acts as a memetic virus and the relationship between memetic viruses and biological and computer viruses. [21]


Fan Art




Religion is a system of beliefs and worship, often including a code of ethics. Oftentimes an adherent to religion will conduct rites of worship to a higher power or powers, sometimes but not always including prayer, sermons, and/or sacrifice. The origins of religion are hotly debated. Richard Dawkins wrote an essay called Viruses of the Mind, first published in the book Dennett and His Critics: Demystifying Mind (1993), in which he proposes religion can be viewed as a meme which was previously expressed by him in The Selfish Gene (1976). Dawkins analyzes the propagation of religious ideas and behaviors as a memetic virus, analogous to how biological and computer viruses spread.[28]

The evolutionary tree of religion Version 2.0 ODYSSEY European African Middle East Indian East AsianArctic N. American Central /Mesoamerica S. American New Guinean /Australian Oceanic Transported to the Americas via the slave Asatrú Rodn90CE 1890 CE 1772CE Baha'i Faith 1844 CE Macumba 1900 CE Ayyavazhi Mormonism 1954 CE 1900 CESanto Daime 1930 CE Druidism 1954 CE 1904 CE 1887 CE 1912 CÉ 1870 CE 1809 CE 1833 CE 1830 CE 1800 CE Plateau ShamanismOO CE 1550 CE 1550 CE 1550 CE 1500 CE 1270 CE 200 CE Sikhism 1517 CE 1000 CE 1100 CE 1407 CE 850 CE 800 CE 1200 CE East Orthodox Catholicism 1000 CE 1054 CE 1054 CE 750 858 CE 600 CE800 CE 500 250 CE940 CE 270 CE 200 CE 250 Hellenisnm 300 BCE 300 BCE620 CE 250 BCE 550 500 BCE 500 BCE 300 BCEHopewell Sramanism 500 BCE 800 BCE 250 BCE 200 BCE 500 BCE Jainism 1000 BCE 1200 BCE 1000 BCE Poytheism 950 BCE 1700 BCE 750 BCE 520 BCE Snamanism 1500 BCE 1850 BCE 1500 BCE 2000 BCE folk religions 2000 BCE1000 BCE Polytheism 2000 BCE 900 BCE Earty Hindu 1700 BCE 2000 BCE2000 BCE 3500 BCE LH 3000 BCE Egyptian 2500 BCE Shamanism 3300 BCE 3000 BCE 3000 BCE 3500 BCE 3000 BCE 4000 BCE Archaic Indian 4500 BCE Shamanism 4500 BCE 5000 BCE 000 BCE 9000 BCE 000 BCE EastSouth Asian A proposed onigin language trom Eurasia that unites the majority of worid languages. it is speculated that the people who spoke this anclent tongue were practtoners of Animism12,500 BCE 40,000 Dreamtime 40,000 BCE 12,500 CE 10,000 BCE 8000 BCE 12,500 BCE 40,000 BCE 40,000 BCE TA This graphic Mustrates how thils Nostratic faith may have spread out across the continents, folowing the into the muittude of reiglons we tis possibie the ear est sign of re glous actvity are familar with today. Influenced by another religion the oigins to many of can be traced back to the Middie Palaeoäthic where our distant ancestors began to bury their dead in a rituaßstic manner, and create symboic artefacts (early signiters of spintual activity) these faiths are estimates onty Md ould bot be counted as fact. This chart ANIMISM: 100,000 BCE Adapted from another religion offer anapproximation to the founding Cates of 。DESIGNED BY SIMON E. DAVIES | FACEBOOK.COM/HUMANODYSSEY


/bmw/ stands for Bureau of Memetic Warfare and is a board on the site 8chan.[24] As of June 11th, 2016 the board has 167 threads in its catalogue discussing the nature of memes and their military uses.[25] The board often represents itself with Nazi colors accompanied by the Black Sun symbol (shown below).[26]

/bmw/ Bureau Memetic Warfare

The first documented thread posted on /bmw/ was called Control the Memes, Control the world in which the OP Theodore promotes the use of memes to spread truth to strike down degeneracy accompanied by a picture of quote by a Nazi on propaganda (shown below).[23] It is the most replied to thread on the board with 223 replies.

"Good propaganda does not need to lie, indeed it may not lie. It has no reason to fear the truth. It is a mistake to believe that people cannot take the truth. They can. It is only a matter of presenting the truth to people in a way that they will be able to understand. A propaganda that lies proves that it has a bad cause. It cannot be successful in the long run.


Memes are broadly defined as culturally transmitted information, or ideas and beliefs that can be spread from one organism, or group of organisms, to another.[5] A key component to the meme concept is that the information is able to self-replicate, and in turn undergoes a type of natural selection, much like genes. The word was coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. He postulated that perhaps not only biological information undergoes natural selection, and that anything that is capable of replicating itself would also be susceptible to selection pressures, like ideas and beliefs.

You have become adicted to Memes

Meme Magic

Meme Magic is a slang term used to describe the hypothetical power of sorcery and voodoo supposedly derived from certain internet memes that can transcend the realm of cyberspace and result in real life consequences. Since its coinage on the imageboard 8chan, the fictitious concept has gained popularity on 4chan’s /pol/ (politically incorrect) board and been heavily associated with several in-jokes and shitposting fads on the site, including Ebola-chan, Baneposting and Donald Trump. It has spawned a large amount of magic-related study and discussion on the nature and applications of memes on the boards /bmw/ and /fringe/ on 8chan and /pol/ on 4chan.


Bait / This is Bait

Bait in memetics is defined as the part of a memeplex that promises to benefit the host (usually in return for replicating the complex).[9] It is also an internet slang term used to describe comments or opinions which are considered to be made purposefully to troll other posters or to start a flame war. The term is commonly found on message boards and in comment sections, including the 4chan imageboards.


Search Interest

External References

[1] "S F Walker – Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene

[2] Google Books – The Selfish Gene

[3] The Memeticist – Memetics 101

[4] The Free Dictionary – Memetics

[5] Dictionary – Memes

[6] Google Books – Metamagical Themas

[7] Wikipedia – Metamagical Themas

[8] Google Books – Metamagical Themas

[9] Deoxy – Memelex

[10] Robotic Technology Inc – Tutorial Military Memetics


[12] Robotic Technology Inc – Memetics Compendium

[13] FAS – MIPB

[14] Wikipedia – Memetics – Criticism

[15] KnowYourMeme – KnowYourMeme

[16] KnowYourMeme – Meme Search Results

[17] Wikipedia – Encyclopedia Dramatica

[18] Encyclopedia Dramatica – Memes Portal

[19] TV Tropes – TV Tropes

[20] Wikipedia – The Meme Machine

[21] Wikipedia – Virus of the Mind

[22] Cambridge – The Selfish Meme

[23] 8chan – /bmw/ – Control the Memes, Control the world

[24] 8chan – /bmw/ – The Bureau of Memetic Warfare

[25] 8chan – bmw – Catalog

[26] 8chan – /bmw/ – OP Black Sun

[27] Google Books – Uniquely Human

[28] Wikipedia – Viruses of the Mind

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