A successful meme must be able to "infect" a new host, that is, enter into its memory. Let us assume that a meme is presented to a potential new host. "Presented" means either that the individual encounters a meme vehicle, or that he or she independently discovers it, by observation of outside phenomena or by thought, i.e. recombination of existing cognitive elements. To be assimilated, the presented meme must be respectively noticed, understood and accepted by the host.

Noticing requires that the meme vehicle be sufficiently salient to attract the host's attention. Understanding means that the host recognizes the meme as something that can be represented in his or her cognitive system. The mind is not a blank slate on which any idea can be impressed. To be understood, a new idea or phenomenon must connect to cognitive structures that are already available to the individual. Finally, a host that has understood a new idea must also be willing to believe it or to take it serious. For example, although you are likely to understand the proposition that your car was built by little green men from Mars, you are unlikely to accept that proposition without very strong evidence. Therefore, you will in general not memorize it, and the meme will not manage to infect you. (Heylighen, Francis, 2001)

Last edited on Wednesday, October 1, 2003 10:16:30 pm.