There are ultimately three conditions which are required for consistent, complex evolution to occur:
- Frequently and accurately copied organisms
- Low, but nonzero/non-effectively-zero mutation rate.
- Presence of selection pressures
Interestingly, all three are true of memes: they are generally accurately restated from person to person, they are occasionally misquoted, and of course, “pithy sayings”, “wise words” and so on will be better remembered than a random English sentence.
Memes, of course, have had much less time to evolve; their generations are, perhaps, somewhat shorter, but not nearly enough to compete with biology’s 3.85 billion years. So we should expect significantly less complex memetic organisms than genetic. Still, we should expect “apex predators” as it were – the current state of the memetic art.
Borrowing inspiration from biology, we should expect such high-quality memes to be:
- Possessive. Memes should highly discourage people from being convinced of their falsehood.
- Persuasive. Obviously, a high-quality meme will be popular; the most competitive memes will be those with millions or billions of adherents.
- Competitive. Memes compete for head-space. We should expect adherents to memetic organisms to aggressively seek out other followers and attempt to convince or destroy adherents to other memes.
So we’re looking for ideas or sets of ideas that vehemently decry conversion, are extremely popular, evangelize constantly, and constantly get into violent conflict with other ideas in their reference class.