Can memes bypass rationality to manipulate you?

We’ve had a few discussions about what ‘memes’ are and how they work. We didn’t reach a consensus on whether they are true replicators in their own rights, as genes (or gene collectives) seem to be. Consider the following excerpt (author permission obtained) with the less rigorous working definition of a meme in mind: a unit of information with the capacity to shape perception and belief (or a  unit of ‘culture transmission’). Also, consider the conversations and readings we’ve had about metaphors and embodied cognition (particularly Lakoff and Johnson’s works and Edward’s many posts on the topic. Even in Facebook, there are people calling out manipulation by meme.

 

Memes can manipulate your perspective

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Edward Berge
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Edward Berge

Yes, memes are a form of metaphorical manipulation and quite effective. But we can train ourselves to examine them and reduce or eliminate that influence, and even create our own metaphorical memes to consciously inculcate what we want. As to how to counter negative memes, see Lakoff on creating a truth sandwich.