A metameme is any meme
that organizes and directs other memes (its supporting memes). In this sense, it lies in a meta
position to other memes. A metameme that controls and directs lower memes is the main meme in a meme complex
. Every human has a metameme called "reality" that controls and directs what the human considers real. This "Reality Metameme" is formed by thought loop
s into what I call a reality bubble
/ | \
/ | \
memeX memeY memeZ
Metameme B ________
/ | \ \
/ | \ \
memeY memeZ memeX memeC
As shown in the above diagram, the metameme may control the sequence of other memes (procedural memory
), it may control the deletion and insertion of other memes (see: General Semantics
, selective attention
), it may control the value judgements assigned to other memes (eg. good/bad, true/false, see: belief system
Science has a metameme that says "something must be testable empirically in order to be true." This causes many scientists to reject any belief system or epistemological approach that does not rely on empirical evidence and to accept any belief system that does rely on empirical evidence.
Consider science and Christianity. Scientists have a particular metameme that causes them to view the world in terms of the scientific method. The scientific metameme is based on the assumption that things can be understood through analysis and reductionism, and scientists tend to seek external support for their scientific approach. Christians, on the other hand, have a particular metameme that causes them to view the world in terms of the religious ideas contained in the bible and told to them by friends, preachers, etc. They find both internal and external supports for these ideas. They believe that things can be understood by seeking the guidance of God.
This does NOT mean that Christianity is necessarily anti-science or that Science is necessarily anti-religious. Religion and science, however, do represent distinct metamemes that tend to organize perceptions and beliefs about reality that at times appear contradictory. In other words, they represent separate epistemological approaches.
Both of these belief systems are governed by separate metamemes that cause the person who has them to view the same world from vastly differing perspectives. This is how metamemes guide and shape our experiences and understandings. Metamemes can be altered using a process known as reframing.