Complete this quote: “If a meme is to dominate the attention of a human brain, it…”

How would you complete this quote?


“If a meme is to dominate the attention of a human brain, it…”


 This week’s quote comes from The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins first published in 1976 (I have the 1989 edition where the above quote appears on page 197). Dawkins is a well versed writer with a convincing literary style. An earlier work that also alluded to selective processes in culture, Le Hasard et la Nécessité: Essai sur la philosophie naturelle de la biologie moderne, by Jacques Monod is also a fascinating read that I would reccomend. This decade of research and literature saw a rising interest and awareness of genetics, biology and culture with a passionate body of researchers seeking to deepen our understanding of the central dogma of biology. As Dawkins wrote in The Selfish Gene, “Just as we have found it convenient to think of genes as active agents, working purposefully for their own survival, perhaps it might be convenient to think of memes in the same way” (p. 196). Now, more than thirty years later, in the face of developments in the biological and cultural sciences, and with the recent interest in epigenetics, let us see if people still agree with the ‘convenient’ ways of thinking about genes and memes.

Reply below and let us know how you would complete the following quote:

“If a meme is to dominate the attention of a human brain, it…”

Complete this quote from previous weeks:

Diane Ackerman: “Shaped like a little loaf of French Country bread, our brain is…”
Richard L. Gregory: “One of the difficulties in understanding the brain is…”
Francis Crick: “There is no scientific study more vital to man than…”
Dr Seuss: “You have brains in your head, you have…”

Published by

Paul Mason

I am a biomedically trained social anthropologist interested in biological and cultural diversity.

24 thoughts on “Complete this quote: “If a meme is to dominate the attention of a human brain, it…”

    1. In retrospect, I should have said food, sex, or the high cost of living. (Women can’t tell the difference between the first two; men can’t tell the difference between the last two. :-))

  1. is the end of human thought as we know it.

    God, Paul, you did this just to provoke me, didn’t you!? Unfortunately, conference planning has managed to squeeze clever riposte to memeticism from my cortex temporarily, leaving only bitterness and contempt behind.

  2. IF a meme is…., it should first have read Foucault’s “Archaeology…” in order to understand the basis of it’s own power.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s