“I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself - we are creatures that should not exist by natural law.”

True Detective: Season 1 (2014)


“Viruses of the Mind” is an essay by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, first published in the book Dennett and His Critics: Demystifying Mind (1993). The essay discusses how religion can be viewed as a meme*, an idea previously expressed by Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976). Dawkins analyzes the propagation of religious ideas and behaviors as a memetic virus, analogous to how biological and computer viruses spread. 

Dawkins stresses his claim that religious beliefs do not spread as a result of evidence in their support, but typically by cultural transmission, in most cases from parents or from charismatic individuals. He refers to this as involving “epidemiology, not evidence”. (X)

*A meme is “an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. The concept of language as a virus was explored in The Electronic Revolution by William S. Burroughs

Images: True detective S01E03 ‘The locked room’