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Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme (Hardcover)

by Richard Brodie (Author) Review

If you've ever wondered how and why people become robotically enslaved by advertising, religion, sexual fantasy, and cults, wonder no more. It's all because of "mind viruses," or "memes," and those who understand how to plant them into other's minds. This is the first truly accessible book about memes and how they make the world go 'round.

Of course, like all good memes, the ideas in Brodie's book are double-edged swords. They can vaccinate against the effects of cognitive viruses, but could also be used by those seeking power to gain it even more effectively. If you don't want to be left behind in the coevolutionary arms race between infection and protection, read about memes. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Anyone who wants to be involved in media in the next ten years must understand memetics and must read Virus of the Mind. -- Danny Bannister, President, The Mental Fitness Company, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

A Basic Primer On Memetics & Evolutionary Psychology, April 14, 1999
By Alex Burns ( (Melbourne (Australia)

Since its publication in 1996, Richard Brodie's 'Virus of the Mind' has ignited ongoing debate within the memetics community, and signalled the beginning of the new science crossing-the-chasm into the mainstream (for example, Oprah Winfrey invited Brodie on her talk-show in January 1999).

For 'hard' scientific data and mathematical/conceptual modelling (which really conveys why memetics is a legitimate science and not just a controversial upstart), you definately need to look elsewhere (Brodie himself has admitted this to me in extensive interviews). Texts by Lynch, Beck & Cowan, Csikzentmihalyi, Blackmore, Dennett, Dawkins, and Hofstadter are more useful in this regard. Brodie should be considered as a populariser of memetics, able to look at its impact on and relevance to contemporary cultural debates.

Politics aside, Brodie's book is best understood as an accessible introduction to the memetics field, which can capture and hold a general audience's attention. It is closer in many respects to a description of evolutionary psychology drives, 'hot buttons', coercive double-binds, and ideological faith/belief structures used by cults, advertisers, politicians, and religious entities.

Thus, a reading of 'Virus of the Mind' can offer you an accessible text with some insight into how people are programmed, and how to become more aware of your own consensus trance (Charles T. Tart). It continues a self-help perspective developed by Brodie in his earlier book 'Getting Past OK'. Many of Brodie's ideas have been said before in different contexts, but the memetics angle puts a fresh spin on things, and his early chapters on definitions of memes are useful for the layperson in confronting a rapidly growing field.

As long as you don't expect the definitive text on memetics (which Dawkins may one day write as 'The Selfish Meme'?), you will find some useful insights that can be quickly integrated into everyday living. This is the real strength of the book, and partly why it has proven to be so popular.

A Consciousness Raising Book, December 8, 1999
By Jake Sapiens (Texas)

Richard Brodie's, Virus of the Mind, presents what has proven to me the most practical use of the idea of memes. He presents plenty of good scientific background to set up the concept for those still unfamiliar with the meme meme. Although he does not actually inaugurate a true scientific field of memetics, he uses the concept of memes very skillfully to raise our consciousness and look at everyday things in our culture in a whole new light. In this respect I think he accomplishes far more than many of the unsatisfying attempts to make memetics a full fledged science. It is a bit early to expect such grand successful collective science, but it is not too early to raise our consciousness as individuals about some of these ideas, and Richard Brodie does a fantastic job in that undertaking.

Unlike some in the self-development field, Richard Brodie does not insult the intelligence of more educated readers. He doesn't hide the ball, act mysterious in his presentation, cop out to supernaturalism, or try to claim false or highly questionable scientific support. I have found it easy to disagree with him on some points and still get a lot out of his work. He has certainly given a lot of serious thought to the nuances, pitfalls, and strongpoints of our modern culture and that shows through in this book. He is a guy trying to figure things out just like all of us, and he shares his thoughts in a non-offensive highly accessible way. I think you will find his book a joy to read, and find many useful insights as we individually try to navigate the quickly evolving cultural environment we find ourselves in today.