By Far the Strangest Scientific Discovery of 2018: Your Memories Are a Viral Infection



I don't know that the rock-to-bird analogy is applicable because viruses still contain all the necessary ingredients for life and lack only the mechanism to reproduce on their own. Nucleic acids are the language of life and viruses are fluent. Whether they are living is still debated and depends on whether self-replication is considered an essential criteria but a rock meets none of them.


The implication is that memories could infect other people - or likewise purged.


This lit my brain up like a Christmas tree. Thanks, Charles.


@3 agreed--and I need more exposure to this Margulis character.


Like most things in nature at any scale, this is beautiful and sad.


'Total Recall' is TRUE?!

Wow. Remember when I won the Olympics?


FYI, Charlies, you put the wrong link under "Scientific American".

(Your link goes to the Atlantic article about discovering phages that can detect growth signals from their host bacteria, that you mention further down.)

I think the proper link you meant to use there was:




This is a frustrating example of pop writers running off the rails with a tantalizing analogy, in this case playing two degrees of telephone. Charles, your starting point is already a non-scientist attempting to interpret for his audience: "if we can compare a rock to a bird"... of course, no, the relationship between viruses and bacteria is not in any meaningful way like a rock eavesdropping on a bird. What follows from that assertion cannot be sensible.


@9 Absolutely frustrating. He also says "we must begin to suspect that there's something life-like in non-biological things like clouds and hills". No, we must not suspect that clouds and hills are life-like.

You can make up a poor analogy to try to make anything seem truthy, but poor analogies are not useful thinking tools.


Having lost everyone in my life who I loved, I can confirm that recalling memories of them makes me physically sick. Now I understand why. Booking my lobotomy today.


Thanks for the insight!