Check out this video of Daniel Dennett talking about dangerous memes. Dennett is a philosopher specializing in the study of conciousness.  In another TED conference, he offers insights on this difficult topic. Our consciousness is not a universal chip set capable of processing all inputs with equal fidelity. In fact, our consciousness has rather serious limitations.

The TED conference videos are extremely rich in insights.  It is worth browsing the site for good talks.

The mechanism of consciousness is fascinating- it is one of the most important of all unresolved problems.  The existence of consciousness means that the universe is self-aware to some extent and is able to do experiments on itself. It also means that the universe is capable of acts that are set into motion by the compulsions of creatures, rather than the direct search for ground state. 

These acts are executed through the agency of physics, but sentient beings have altered the notion of spontaneity.  Life forms are able to counter the natural direction of entropy (locally) by channeling large amounts of energy to achieve improbable ensembles of atoms. With large energy inputs, creatures can move about, reproduce, or send robots to Saturn.

Ok, this is obvious, but it remains a rather curious attribute of the universe.