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Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,429 ratings  ·  126 reviews
"Virus of the Mind" is the first popular book devoted to the science of memetics, a controversial new field that transcends psychology, biology, anthropology, and cognitive science. Memetics is the science of memes, the invisible but very real DNA of human society.
Paperback, 251 pages
Published August 31st 2004 by Integral Press (first published 1995)
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,429 ratings  ·  126 reviews

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Todd Martin
Mar 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
A “meme” is a unit of culture which can be transmitted from one mind to another through communication. It was first coined by Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene” in the mid-1970s. Dawkins suggested that an idea (take religion for example) propagates through a culture in much the same way as a virus replicates its genes. In the case of religion, it infects a host, who then passes on the meme through evangelism (as opposed to sneezing on them). This way of looking at things is an intere ...more
Jan 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
I read about a quarter of this book. First off, I thought it would be more about the science than some sort of self-help approach. Probably my fault.

More importantly, the author makes unsupported assumptions about many topics not directly related to memes. The one that made me give up was when he trotted out the age old myth about too many "dumb people" breeding leading to a lowering of general intelligence. Over the past century, measurements of general intelligence have actually grown signific
Jun 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
I regard most of these books
as extended essays
and as such deserve a lower rating
since much or all of the material is filler
but if you are not aware
of the definition and the concept
of the meme
this is a good place to start
The overall premise
is you can't avoid their influence
but you can learn to spot them
when they're thrown at you
and you can learn to pick and choose
Mar 16, 2007 rated it it was ok
This guy was in Microsoft, got really rich, and quit. But he shouldn't write a book on memetics just because he's rich and bored.
Amanda Kay
Jun 18, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty awful writing here. Also, a very big book for a very small idea. Every social thought = a 'good' (not qualitative) meme. If something is pervasive through society (i.e. American Idol contestants, or a politician folly) it is a 'good' meme (again, 'good' is not qualitative).

Essentially, this is the idea of the book. Common sense will tell you that we are programmed with social, cultural, religious, traditional memes. The important thing is to be aware of them.

Rambling Reader
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Получи се почти пълно съответствие между мемите, с които съм инфектирана и тази книга. Единственото нещо, което не ми стана ясно е как така психическите вируси служат само на себе си. Но може би се има предвид, че даден мем (вирус) не може да бъде контролиран от хората, щом веднъж бъде пуснат на свобода.
Книгата не е кой знае колко изчерпателна, по-скоро маркира проблема. Поражда много повече въпроси, отколкото отговори дава. Напр. не ми стана ясно защо някои меми се разпространяват много по-добр
Christopher James
Dec 26, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh this is a bad book.

He does say in the introduction '...even reading these words might make you angry...'. This was true for the following 200 pages. I don't normally finish things I don't like. But as it was short I guess I wanted to get to the end to see if my anger was justified.

I could go on about what's wrong with it, but I'll just describe the formula for each chapter.

1. Make a general statement about a big idea.
2. Expound on it in 'ordinary' language. Miss the point completely.
3. Di
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: *Poker Without Cards,* Ben Mack
My mind has been hijacked, and so here I am, vector for Richard Brodie's meme. First hypothesized by Richard Dawkins in the 1970s, "memes" are to the human mind what viruses are to the world of cellular biology--fragmentary gewgaws whose sole "purpose" is to hijack their host and use it to churn out copies of themselves. In brief, the idea behind "memetics" is that these memes and their propensity for replication are the fundamental driving force behind most human behavior, individually and coll ...more
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Going to have to re-read this one, I have some serious gripes with it that I can't quite articulate yet. On the whole it was a good read, some really useful information, but also a few parts that really set off my bullshit detector. Should have taken better notes.

Among the claims this book makes that I found dubious: The author claims that racism is linked to our selfish gene's desire for self replication, but then goes onto claim that the reason we love other mammals is that they share so many
Michele Harrod
Sep 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
A great read, and certainly makes you think about where your own 'ideas' and beliefs actually come from - who planted those, and do they really serve you? It's made me have a really good close look at the basics like, why do I eat this, why do I live life according to this particular routine? Has given me great license to "de-bug"!! And I'm with them on the TV - greatest virus spreader of all time. Certainly worth reading if you have kids, so you can be more aware of how and where their influenc ...more
Cassandra Carico
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
This was an intelligent book. Unfortunately, I did not feel that it brought any new "memes" to the table. I got bored reading information that was not at all new, even though the author presented it in an entertaining manner. I would have better spent my time washing my hair.
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very thought provoking. I could have given it 5 stars for personal impact, but I have to admit it has some flaws. It's a bit pop-sciencey. But it's a great introduction to the memetics meme, and once you know about this, you can't ignore it. This is another book that will stay with me a long time, and it correlates well with many of the other things I've been learning about punishment and rewards and needs, etc.
Brandon Henke
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
As a seasoned veteran of The Great Meme War of 2016, it was a bit underwhelming. However, this book could function as a perfectly acceptable introduction to memetics for normies. Either way, its good to brush up on the basics for the upcoming battle in 2020.
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
Virus of the Mind is a mix between Dawkins ideas of the meme, self help, poor philosophy (which can be blamed on Dawkins),and a championship of Zen meditation. So this book was a mixed bag.

I am not a fan of Dawkins ideas about religion. I don't think that man has a clue about what he is talking about. However, I do think his ideas of genetics being used to explain evolution is a clever idea, and applying evolution to the spread of ideas is also an interesting concept. Richard Brodie does a very
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
ok book about the "meme", coined by Richard Dawkins to describe unit of cultural evolution analogous to gene as unit of biological evolution. Key idea is that a successful meme is an idea that replicates itself from one mind to another. Advice is given on how to inoculate yourself against memes that others (evangelists, advertisers, etc.) may be deliberately spreading in much the same way that an evil hacker spreads computer viruses that take over your hard drive.

It gets interesting when he digs
Łukasz Garczewski
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Richard Dawkins mentions this book in The Selfish Gene, as a discussion of memetics. And it is a concise discussion of the subject of memes, along with some libertarian digressions, elements of self-help and attempts at consciousness raising.

As such this book tries to be a popular science text, a socio-political manifesto of sorts, and a motivational essay on adding meaning to one's life. Because of that split it's not very good in any of the three categories.

As a science book, it lacks the slow
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
The author's enthusiasm for the subject is appreciated and does lend an element of enjoyability to the book. I thought his writing was lacking in a few ways though. I just couldn't get past the fact that he was so convinced that what he was writing was so revolutionary and powerful rather than an interesting different perspective on well understood ideas. As a person of faith I thought he was particularly sloppy in addressing the topic of religion - making condescending generalizations and fitti ...more
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
When I bought this book I was specifically looking for material on Memetics, and I found it puzzling that Chapter’s had classified it as New Age & Occult. I know that others supposedly like it, at least other books dealing with Memetics, are typically found in the Science section. Having just finished the book, I now know why I found it where I did.

Even though I’m new to the subject, I found the first several chapters to be a somewhat rudimentary introduction to the topic, and then the self-
Mary K.
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Memetics" is not a new term, but it was for me! I think Richard Dawkins is the one that first came up with the word "meme," which, in essence, addresses the issue of how much we believe about what we think we know has come from our readings, listenings, experiences, parents, traditions, society, etc. He estimates that a good percentage of what we think we remember never really gets transformed by this sort of virus that we pass on to each other, usually unknowingly. The more one l ...more
Mary Paul
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
This would have a higher rating if M Brodie did not include enormous (relatively irrelevant) sections on sex and evolution. While the original chapters on memetics were insightful and promising, he dives head first into a childish and unsophisticated lecture on human dynamics rather than stick to what he knows best...or doesn't. An interesting discussion but not very intelligent and the illustrations are awful. I can see this selling well but it's barely popular science fluff. I've only read a l ...more
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Solala - although the basic tenet is fine. But you can summarize it in one sentence: The meme is to the mind what the (selfish) gene is to the organism - beware of the meme's goals and ensure that these goals don't influence your thinking when it is not rational for them to do so from your wellbeing's perspective.
Apr 25, 2010 rated it did not like it
Everything manulative trick he warns readers to look out for and resist is exactly the tricks he uses to convince the reader to accept and promote his odd-ball theory. And, simply because I resist the truth of his claims, that in of itself proves that his theory must be true according to him.
Roger Paine
Jan 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
I didn't like it it felt a bit up it's own arse for some of it, it felt very long to read too. it was 4 days but it felt like much longer than that.
Dan Wallbank
Jun 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
Interesting subject, poorly written with too much repetition.
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was ok

Parts of the book were useful but as the book progressed, it seemed to ravel a bit.
Renee shi yan Liu
Aug 13, 2014 rated it did not like it
I seldom give one star rating, but......
Derrick Mcvicker
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Although it had some interesting information, it seemed more like a self-help book disguised as a science book.
Oct 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
Possibly the dumbest, least useful book I've ever read. It would make great kindling.
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Richard Brodie is best known as the original author of Microsoft Word. His self-help book, Getting Past OK, is an international bestseller. His groundbreaking book on memes, Virus of the Mind, spent 52 weeks on the Hot 100 and is used as a text in many college courses. An accomplished speaker, Richard has appeared on dozens of television and radio shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show ...more
“If you listen repeatedly to religious speech, after enough repetitions you will actually begin to notice God and His works where there was just chaotic life going on before. What was formerly chance becomes a miracle. What was pain is now karma. What was human nature is now sin. And regardless of whether these religious memes are presented as Truth or as allegorical mythology, you’re conditioned just the same.” 4 likes
“Many myths and religions have some kind of threat of retribution from their god or gods, and their doctrines warn of the dangers of doing various forbidden things. Why? Because memes involving danger are the ones we pay attention to! As oral traditions developed, our brains were set up to amplify the dangers and give them greater significance than the rest.” 2 likes
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