Susan Blackmore on Memes and Temes (Video)

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is probably the best idea that anybody has ever had. Darwin’s idea is not just applicable to biology, though, it also applies to culture.

The application of natural selection to culture has been called ‘memetics’. This is the theory that, like living things, ideas – or ‘memes’ – naturally vary and that (generally) the ‘fittest’ ideas survive and are replicated across generations.


Neuroscientist Susan Blackmore, who has studied memetics, introduces a new type of meme which she calls the ‘teme': the technological meme. Technology, through temes, she argues, is now driving us forward, whether we like it or not.

In this talk Blackmore uses the idea of the ‘teme’ to pose some interesting questions. She asks whether there are other lifeforms out there in the universe and also whether humanity will survive the arrival of the ‘temes’.

About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 3 June 2008

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