I had to watch Susan Blackmore’s TED talk on Memetics today for my social web class. Prior to the class I didn’t even know what memetics was. Susan defines them as: “that which is imitated or information that is copied“. Ok, I can buy that concept but where I start to struggle with her ideas and language is when she is trying to assert that memes are in control: The memes are trying to get copied, they are using you and me as their propagating, copying machinery and we are the meme machines. See goes on further to define the idea of memetic drive – as “memes evolve, as they inevitably must, they drive a bigger brain that is better at copying the memes that are doing the driving”.
I can’t reconcile the position she has taken. It just doesn’t sit well with me. She leaves me somewhat baffled as she is also big on researching human consciousness, even writing a text book on the subject. She obviously believes in consciousness as she says here while also believing that the memes are driving. How can an idea that gets copied do the driving? Isn’t that like saying that a car that gets driven is doing the driving? I don’t buy it. I think consciousness (human or otherwise) is the driver, period. Memes being non-conscious can not drive any more than genes can drive evolution. They can influence possibilities and range of outcomes but they are not driving. What are you thoughts? Have I misinterpreted her or not understood clearly?