Meme  

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Mona Lisa (c. 1503–1519) is an oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most famous paintings in the world.
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Mona Lisa (c. 1503–1519) is an oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most famous paintings in the world.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

According to memetic theory, a meme — a unit of cultural information, cultural evolution or diffusion — propagates from one mind to another analogously to the way in which a gene propagates from one organism to another as a unit of genetic information and of biological evolution.

Biologist and evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins coined the term meme in 1976. He gave as examples tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothing fashions, ways of making pots, and the technology of building arches.

Meme theorists contend that memes evolve by natural selection similarly to Charles Darwin's theory of biological evolution through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance influencing an organism's reproductive success. So with memes, some ideas will propagate less successfully and become extinct, while others will survive, spread, and, for better or for worse, mutate. Memeticists argue that the memes most beneficial to their hosts will not necessarily survive; rather, those memes that replicate the most effectively spread best, which allows for the possibility that successful memes may prove detrimental to their hosts.

The idea of memes has proved a successful meme in its own right, gaining a degree of penetration into popular culture rare for an abstract scientific theory.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Meme" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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