There is an entire field of study devoted to the propagation of behavioral characteristics, and by extension, of the language and images used to express societal norms and values, as well as their effect on those who use and transmit them. Symbology is a related discipline.
My fellow New Hampshirite, Dan Brown has incorporated some of this work in his books, including The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons. There is certainly abundant controversy among those who study this field, as with any scientific endeavor, and I would suggest you might consider researching the subject, which at least some of us find both fascinating and enlightening.
“Are you familiar with the linguistic provenance of the word ‘meme’? Hint: it is in fact related to the study of evolutionary genetics, albeit indirectly. Further hint: the English word is derived from a Greek word meaning ‘imitation,’ and does not require an ‘idea’ as its subject, but also images and icons.”
Why don’t you try actually reading people’s posts before you respond to them.
“as with any scientific endeavor”
Ah, but you see, it’s not science. It is the illusion of science. I don’t care who you are, Richard Dawkins or Bozo the Clown, you are not allowed to notice that ideas/beliefs/customs/symbols pass from human to human, dub them “memes,” and call it science. If that counts as a scientific discovery, it is the most banal discovery in the history of the world.
“Meme” is a buzzword, is what I’m saying, and it didn’t help us learn anything about what humans non-genetically transmit between one another that we didn’t know before the word popped up in the 1970s. Whatever use there is for such (I hate to call them discplines) schools of study as “symbology” is as teeny, tiny areas of interest within such larger discplines as history, anthropology, sociology, archeology, etc.
Even then, I don’t think they deserve recognition by neologism. Symbols, ideas, beliefs, fashions, customs, and everything else that passes from human to human has been studied to death and ad naseum for centuries before anyone ever heard the word “meme.” If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, so I’ll continue to call them symbols, ideas, beliefs, fashions, customs, cliché, trope, catch-phrase, etc.