Virtual Symposia

Imitation, Memory and Cultural Changes: Probing the Meme Hypothesis

Rationality, Evolution, and the Meme Concept

Keith Stanovich


Click on the arrow to start the video. Video by Enam Huque

From a psychological standpoint, the fundamental insight of memetics is that a belief may spread without necessarily being true or helping the human being who holds the belief in any way. “Helping the human” of course can be cashed out in terms of the distinction between replicators and vehicles, yielding a fourfold categorization of meme efficacy/inefficacy. The two categories that involve meme replication in the absence of vehicle benefit link the controversies surrounding the meme concept to what has been termed the Great Rationality Debate in cognitive science. The implications of this debate for controversies in memetics will be explored. It will be argued that many controversies are dissolved when the importance of the grain size of belief is understood.

Keith E. Stanovich is Professor of Human Development and Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto. He is the author of over 150 scientific articles. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. His latest books include The Robot’s Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin (2004) and Who is Rational? Studies of Individual Differences in Reasoning (1999).