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Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme Paperback – Mar 1 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Integral Press (March 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963600125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963600127
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #732,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By G. Wilson on Jan. 13 2004
Format: Hardcover
I first flicked through a copy of 'Virus of the Mind' in a secondhand bookshop in Flagstaff, Arizona. At that stage the part that caught my attention was the chapter on disinfection and particularly the piece entitled 'zen and the art of devirusing'. Here Richard Brodie states, "if you switch off your internal dialogue, you've made the first big step towards freeing yourself of the tyranny of mind viruses." The technique he suggests is a simple meditation, "thought watching".
This brought to mind two other, seemingly unrelated, schools of thought. One is 'speed reading'; the Evelyn Wood Reading dynamics system suggests the only way to increase your speed significantly is to stop repeating the words in your head. The second is Carlos Castaneda, who talks of 'stopping the world' - more on the technique is given in Victor Sanchez's book 'The Teachings of Don Carlos' where techniques for 'Stopping Inner Dialogue' are given.
More recently, I was reminded of this book when I began a course of study in Psychosynthesis. One of the key concepts our tutor talked about was "Belief Structures." Belief structures and memes are for all intents and purposes the same thing. Our course involved looking at where we gained many of our beliefs, including a project entitled 'Family of Origin' where the main aim is to trace beliefs (memes) and traits through our parents and grand-parents, along with our siblings.
Psychosynthesis itself (as a "psychotherapy") works heavily on breaking down belief structures, and allowing an individual to recreate new beliefs which are more appropriate for their needs. For those interested in following up this line of thought, check out the works of Roberto Assagioli and Piero Ferrucci.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Too Soon Old on July 11 2006
Format: Paperback
The back of this book classes this book as "Popular Science". It would be far more accurate to describe it as "Religion / New Age".

The renowned evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, defines a meme as "a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events, such that more copies of itself get created in other minds". It is "the basic unit of cultural transmission or imitation". It is an idea or unit of cultural knowledge that is analogous to a gene, in that it gets replicated and can evolve.

The idea of memes being the genes of culture seems to me to be a very original idea. Richard Brodie's title implies that memes can be virus like in nature, and is a great metaphor with which to sell this book about the nature of memes.

However it turns out to be quite ironical that the author has become so "infected" by the meme of "meme as virus" analogy, that he becomes obsessed to the point where the idea turns into a kind of religion for him, and he becomes an evangelist in the promotion of the theory of memes.

In his mind everything in our society are memes, but he himself has been able to get off the "cow path" as he calls it, and follow his own course. He doesn't realize he has just taken the "meme path", which has just as much manure on it (produced by bulls) as any regular cow path.

The book mainly consists of his rant on politics, advertising, education, religion and other things, which he feels mostly consist of malicious memes which subvert we unthinking humans. The only salvation is to practice the art of Zen like thinking (or non-thinking) to free ourselves from these "Virus(es) of the Mind".

Paradoxically, he wants to find a mind virus that disinfects people from mind viruses.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By AMC on June 12 2004
Format: Hardcover
The author has a nice writing style and interesting theory on cultural evolution that would have major implications if one accepted it wholeheartedly. (Some complex issues seem to be oversimplified)
Particularly meaningful are the political uses of memetics, though less space is devoted to it than to discussions about sexual roles and motives. Just when it's getting interesting, this book seems to abruptly end. There is an extensive bibliography, however for further research on memetics.
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