Re: Selfish meme?

Date: Fri Jan 25 2002 - 15:29:31 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Selfish meme?
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    In a message dated 1/25/2002 8:46:16 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

    > 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
    > in
    > > >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
    > > 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
    > fake ideologies, fake tax "refunds," etc. And the attempt to make
    > big come into existence by getting enough people to believe that it
    > 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
    > a "refund" on taxes that were not paid in the first place. That, of
    > 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
    > faked.
    > 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).
    > present purpose is not, however, to make specific allegations. Besides,
    > list has a policy against allegations.) Science has ways of addressing
    > 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
    > 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

    It's probably worth noting that the Enronism in business had a major effect
    on politics. Without Enron, George W. Bush would probably not have won the
    presidential race. (Even the Republican primary is a big question mark.)
    Arguably, the executives at Enron were acting as American oligarchs.

    The whole thing carries over into science as well, since the president of the
    USA has enormous influence on the science and education budgets in this
    country. There are real consequences to the lack of effective scrutiny and
    real accountability enjoyed for so long by Enron.

    --Aaron Lynch

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