Re: Selfish meme?

Date: Fri Jan 25 2002 - 14:36:32 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Selfish meme?
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    In a message dated 1/25/2002 7:45:54 AM Central Standard Time, Wade T. Smith
    <> writes:

    > On 01/25/02 00:48, said this-
    > >When used deceptively or equivocally, words can foster rampant Enronism
    > >the sciences.
    > Like 'Enronism' for instance. What, pray tell, is your two cents about
    > that coin? All it implies to me, right now, is 'how the mighty may fall',
    > and that doesn't make much sense in your sentence.
    > - Wade

    Hi Wade.

    So here's my 2 cents. It's just a word. An amusing word that came to mind
    amid the growing explanations of what was happening in Enron. The rich system
    of fake subsidiaries, fake profits, fake assets, fake loyalties, fake audits,
    fake ideologies, fake tax "refunds," etc. And the attempt to make something
    big come into existence by getting enough people to believe that it already
    existed. In a way, something big did exist, but it was not exactly what it
    seemed to be. On the ideological side, we saw a company pushing the gospel of
    small government and free markets all while setting up an accounting trick
    that may have gotten them hundreds of millions of executive salary paid with
    a "refund" on taxes that were not paid in the first place. That, of course,
    might be considered socialism masquerading as market capitalism. There was
    also that effort to get the government to strong-arm private lenders into
    extending more credit, also in stark contrast to the free-market,
    small-government image being projected. The hypocrisy, at least, was not

    As for "Enronism," it is a word that may itself come into existence in
    standard usage simply from having enough people believe that it is a standard
    word. (I imagine it has been coined elsewhere, too.) The Enron case shows
    fraud, graft, hypocrisy, and carefully crafted illusions mixing on such a
    large scale that it seems to call out for an "ism."

    Are there things that might be considered "Enronism" in science? In my
    opinion, yes, but not on quite the scale as in business. One can look at
    cases of fake term papers, fake dissertations, fake degrees, fake methods,
    fake experiments, etc. all the way up to fake sciences (pseudosciences). (My
    present purpose is not, however, to make specific allegations. Besides, our
    list has a policy against allegations.) Science has ways of addressing such
    problems, but it is not a magical process of ignoring problems and having
    them thus go away -- any more than it is in business. And there are similar
    challenges in all kinds of other human endeavors. Had I subscribed to a
    political discussion list, I could probably have dropped a reference to
    Enronism in politics.

    --Aaron Lynch

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