The leaping of genes and memes · Small percentages, big differences · Which memes do we need to change? · Lethal memes

What do people mean when they describe someone’s reaction as “sour grapes”? [This meme entered our consciousness through the Aesop fable about a fox who, unable to reach a bunch of grapes, walked away muttering that they were probably sour anyway.]

Advertising copywriters often make good use of memes to sell products. A men’s hair-coloring product has had success with the motto “Looks so natural, no one can tell!” What’s so important about looking “natural”? Why does it matter that “no one can tell”?

The 1974 film Death Wish was about an armed vigilante who reduced the crime rate in New York City by terrorizing muggers. Among others, it communicated the meme Ordinary citizens need guns to protect themselves from urban crime. What are some other ways this meme is communicated in our society?

Most popular movies lend themselves to analysis in terms of memes. The Blair Witch Project convincingly conveys the meme You may not be as much in control of things as you think. Discuss current hits in terms of the memes they convey.

What are some of the “new ideas” that made the Renaissance what it was?

As a writing assignment, have students explain in their own words why lethal genes survive.

As a research project, have students discover the meme that made suicide “irresistibly attractive” to Heaven’s Gate cultists. [Searching on “Heaven’s Gate” on the internet will lead to many different sites devoted to the cult.]