Virus of the Mind

Virus of the Mind

Memes are ideas, concepts or thought forms that spread from one person to another within a culture. The term meme was originally coined by Richard Dawkins (an evolutionary biologist) and is based on the Ancient Greek for imitate (mimema), and modelled on gene to form the word meme.

In this book, Richard Brodie, who also created Microsoft Word, calls memes ‘Viruses of the Mind’ because of their similarity to both computer and biological viruses. Just like their biological name-sakes mind viruses have one purpose and that is to propagate. Their whole purpose is to be as insidious as possible, invading a host, multiplying and spreading to new hosts to do the same. However, unlike their biological ‘cousins’, of which we’re all too aware of the dangers from, viruses of the mind often seem harmless (or worse we’re not even aware of their existence).

These mind viruses surround us and take the form of ideas or concepts that either propagate and quickly spread or wither and die – think advertising jingles you can’t get out of your head, old wives tales passed from adults to children, cultural rituals embedded in society like handshaking or not talking with your mouth full, beliefs and ideas passed amongst family members / peers / friends – political affiliation, religion, what garage to take your car to for an MOT.

Only by pulling down the veil and exposing these mind viruses to the light can we recognise their existence and be in a position to challenge their acceptability to us, thus enabling us to be free to choose to keep them or let them go – to truly ‘turn off the auto pilot’ if we so choose.

This book has been truly empowering for me, and I hope it sets you free too! Oops, I’ve just planted my own mind virus! - Andy


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