Susan Blackmore’s talk at the year’s TED conference is now available online. As usual, thought-provoking, although, judging from the comments on the TED site, many people dismiss her ideas almost out of hand. She’s accused of anthropomorphising memes, whereas I don’t think she does at all. To me, the central idea is sound – evolution must occur when there are replicators and selection. The fact of understanding that the substrate on which this occurs is not always of a genetic basis is the clue to being able to see what she’s driving at.
Mind you, I think that her implied claim that we are the only species where memes occur is false. We may be the species that is a hyper-producer of memes, but I think that limited memes can be observed in many species. I am also not yet convinced that we are at the stage of temes – here heredity is not something that is common, and this is a necessary condition, it seems to me. Still, interesting talk.