You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Why are people asking Richard Dawkins, inventor of the word “meme,” how a dog should wear pants?

Viral content didn’t exist when Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” in 1976 in his book The Selfish Gene. And although he generally approves of the way the word has been used on the internet, when he encounters actual memes, he tends not to like them very much. 

A lot of the trouble started last year, when a fan innocently asked him whether “any other species have oral sex?”—maybe dolphins, or bonobos, she suggested. Dawkins replied:

This was the inspiration for more elaborate canine oral sex-themed folk art than the internet had ever previously seen.

So when the question of how a dog should wear pants arose, readers wondered if Dawkins could provide a scientific opinion:

But what if you could combine the two popular questions: do other species have oral sex, and how should a dog wear pants? Only Dawkins can confer legitimacy on the meme: