We love our memes. We repeat them, tweet them and watch them go viral on YouTube. There’s so much useless chatter about memes, we often forget that they’re profoundly important.

The US constitution is a meme, as is celibacy in priests and the concept suicide bombing. These might not be as cute, but they are memes nonetheless and they are serious business.

Just as genes are the elemental unit of biological fitness, memes are the building blocks of cultural fitness. Some, like bell-bottom jeans and prohibition, have their day and then die out. Others, like kosher diet restrictions and democracy last for millennia. People will die for them. To understand why, we need to start thinking more seriously about memes.

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