Creede's Reviews > Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme

Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie
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's review
Jan 09, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 24-books-in-2011
Read in January, 2011

** spoiler alert ** A fascinating, enlightening and sometimes frightening look at the "DNA of society". Brodie's text is a study into the science of Memetics or Memes. Memes, loosely translated, are the genes of ideas. Akin to computer viruses or biological viruses, successful Memes are designed and programmed with an inherent goal of replicating and therefore furthering the objectives of the Meme (or idea)...which is to replicate.

A significant portion of the text is dedicated to understanding the basis of our subconscious thought process. Specifically, the impact our ancestral genes have on how we think today. At each of core processes remains the remnants of our cave forefathers focus on danger, food and sex. Consequently, as we evolve we are building(or cluge-ing) on the shaky foundation of an antiquated analytical framework. This proposition suggests to explain why men cheat, fight and risk all over often times non-sensical rewards. It also explains a good part of why marketing to the masses looks the way it does. Fear, Sex, "buy now or it's gone" and Sizzle sell.

So how are Memes spread? Ordinarily Memes are spread as some derivation of our core genetic tendencies interspersed with an evangelical leaning, a sprinkling of cognitive dissidence and lots of repetition. A key point from the book is that Memes are not true or false, they are just ideas that are built to make you think they are true or false and then they spread unconsciously to slaves.

How does one disinfect from the viruses? In a capsule- live consciously and adhere to programming of your choice. There's a underlying "zen" feel to transcending false realities. Plainly put, see things for what they are and actively choose your beliefs. This ordinarily requires the creation of a mission or purposes and then the procurement of programming to feed that purpose. I'm not sure that this strategy inoculates a person from viruses, but it certainly lets the person be a slave by choice to their own mission.

What are the stages of infection? There are three levels. The first level is a person who never moves beyond the "danger, food, sex" stage. This is a reflection-less place. The second level(and the most common home to people) is the academic class where objectives (primarily the sourcing or avoidance of our core genetic dispositions) are activated. This lacks a certain consciousness and purposefulness that may explain the depression and fear that emanates in much of our society today. The final level is transcending all to become conscious of what is happening and rejecting viruses that fail to further your higher life's purpose of maximizing fulfillment and enjoyment of life.

What was a particularly insightful chapter? Chapter 11- how to form a cult. The discussion on "Designer viruses" was especially interesting. Brodie proposes that designer viruses are primarily based on profit and power ideas. They succeed by "pushing buttons" usually comprised of "loss" or "short window of opportunity", "quick return on investment" and evangelism. Common characteristics of a cult include (1) commitment to a purpose or mission without reflection + 2) real or perceived consequences if one leaves the mission. Golden handcuffs, mission statements and arbitrary reward systems are typical ways that corporations advance themselves in a cult-like manner. (see mailrooms at talent agencies, vesting and stock options, hazing in fraternities)

How do you avoid falling victim to a cult? Ask if the mission is yours or if it was dictated to you with some string attached. Align your purpose with your values and you will program yourself out of someone else's cult.

Big Take-Aways:

-Beware of what constitutes an idea.
-Compare what you hear with its effect on your purpose or intent
-Practice seeing positions from all sides to gauge the memes in play.
-Consciousness, Purpose and Programming.
-If it's all a fairy tale or dream, than be conscious of the reality you choose to subscribe.
-Raise your children with an understanding of how ideas work and what the idea's motive is.(to replicate) To appreciate that the carrier of an idea may not even know if they believe it or not. The carrier or slave is just replicating it- it's nothing personal.
-Switch off internal dialogue to disconnect.
-Find your own meaning, it will make it much easier to avoid being a slave to other people's memes/

Additional reading on the subject:

Carlos Castaneda- the teachings of Don Juan
Victor Sanchez- Don Carlos
Victor Frankl - Man search for meaning
Don Miguel Ruiz- Four Agreements: Impeccability, Assume nothing, Take nothing personal, Only do your best

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