Memes spreading of
- If we ignore the modern ability of humans to sequence and synthesize genes and the possibility of natural, but, in multicellular organisms, relatively rare horizontal transmission of genes, genes can be transmitted under natural conditions only during reproduction. In contrast, memes can be transmitted in various forms and through various pathways. The most important difference in the spreading of genes and memes is apparently that a meme can be transmitted, not only vertically, from parents to offspring, but also horizontally, within a population between related and completely unrelated individuals. In fact, the spreading of a successful meme need not even respect the borderlines between biological species, as the members of one species can imitate the behavior of some other species. For example, 10 various species of birds gradually learned how to open milk bottles from tits. It has been confirmed in experiments that dogs are capable of obtaining useful information by observing the behavior of humans (Fig. XVII.5). Thus, spreading of memes is far more effective than spreading of genes. As a new allele of a certain gene can become fixed in the population only in that the carriers of other alleles will transmit their alleles to their progeny with lower effectiveness than the carriers of the new alleles so that, after a certain, frequently quite large number of generations, they become extinct, a new, useful variant of a meme can very easily spread at the expense of other variants of the relevant meme in the entire population during the lifetime of a single generation.