Now unlike genes, memes have the decided disadvantage of not actually existing.However, now - with memes saturating popular culture and the news, critics who claim that memes don't exist run a bigger risk of looking out-of-touch - or just stupid.
I think this has happened - memetics has seen less of this criticism of late. Meme denialism is on the wane. However, I was reminded of this issue recently by reading a 2013 article by Charles Goodnight - in which he claims that ¨Memes do not exist, end of story¨ and ¨there is no meme¨.
I can't say I'm impressed by Charles' position. He seems to want to act as though the 'gene' revolution of the 1960s and 1970s never happened. This would, I believe, be a retrograde step. Distinguishing between heritable information and its expression is extremely useful to evolutionists - even if Charles doesn't seem to appreciate this.
Charles also seems hung up on the issue of whether 'discrete' memes can represent 'continuous' human culture. This seems like a non-issue to me. For one thing, there's no evidence that human culture is 'continuous' in the first place. Forms of culture that can't be digitized and put on the internet have proved elusive. Alleged 'continuous' human culture has not been shown to exist. Indeed, philosophers don't know if anything in the world is continuous. In Shannon information theory, all information is represented by finite quantities. Supposedly-continuous phenomena can only be described via discrete approximations. Direct descriptions are impossible - since the value of a continuous variable would typically takes an infinite quantity of information to specify. Memetics operates in this realm of information theory. This isn't a bug, it's a feature.
Memes and culture traits: There is an absolutely enormous amount of work on this. Nothing remotely like a “meme” exists. Cultural knowledge is not packaged in neat little clumps, does not spread like genes or bugs or viruses from person to person, and does not have a life or identity of its own.I think that Gene is mistaken and confused. He's an anthropologist, but I don't see any sign that he has an understanding of cultural evolution. This puts him low on my list of critics that are worth bothering to address.