controversy of meme theory

The case made by Dawkins for meme theory is one of a deceptive metaphor. Genes can be identified and separated from organisms, and then studied. The theory of memes is no more than Dawkins' own idea of how cultures influence behavior; the theory itself is placed in a persuasive analogical form. The reason this theory is believable is due to the nature of our technical society--one which exposes the individual to a convincing discourse of evolutionary biology. The actual fact is that there is no empirical way to verify the reality of memes as defined by Dawkins; they can only be talked about as if they existed. This is only an extension of the status of sociobiology, which in turn has only produced theory based primarily on analogical thinking and parallelism among species.

Sociobiologists claim to investigate the biological bases of the social behaviors of animals, such as aggression, territoriality, social systems, and mate selection, seeking to understand how natural selection underlies the development of these behaviors in animals, including humans. This view has naturally aroused controversy. Opponents consider sociobiology no more than a sophisticated modern day purveyor of nineteenth century biological determinism and, in effect, a supporter of existing inequitable social systems. Sociobiologists dispute such charges, using their studies of diverse animal species to argue in favor of innate biological control of all animal behaviors, including human ones, such as mate choice, gestural communication, incest avoidance, personality, and cognitive traits. Particularly, meme theory would have cultural representations, including those such as paintings, musical composition, marriage rites, and burial rites expressed in terms of evolutionary processes, and not historical, social, and psychic processes. But cultural representations, unlike genes, are not just replicators that mutate randomly and survive according to their adaptiveness--this is the crux of meme theory. These are always transformed in their interaction with the human minds that produce and sustain them.

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