Button Pushing

Aaron Lynch (aaron@mcs.net)
Sun, 26 Apr 1998 12:20:25 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 12:20:25 -0500
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
From: Aaron Lynch <aaron@mcs.net>
Subject: Button Pushing

Much has been made of the idea of "pushing people's buttons," and to some
it would seem that memetics is the amazing new scheme for fooling all of
the people just by pushing a few buttons. The idea of "pushing buttons" is
not new to memetics, however.

Nevertheless, there are some interesting "buttons" being pressed in our
field. One of these is the "science funding" hot button. Push this button,
and everyone from starving post-docs to noted authors will do what you
want--at least in theory.

That theory does not always work, however. Last year, a certain book author
attempted to push my "science funding" button by telling me a lie that he
had gotten Charles Simonyi to fund Richard Dawkins. He subsequently
suggested that I write a plug for his book. If I had been a spineless and
complete dupe, then I would have broken with my scientific standards
written the book plug. Instead, I saw through the lie.

My advice to other scholars is to adhere to your scientific and
intellectual standards, rather than succumb to "button pushing." If someone
wants you to depart from your intellectual standards, it is a safe bet that
they are only too willing to tell lies themselves in order to get you to do
it. A bit of healthy immunity from fraud is in order. Getting yourself
known as a dupe will not help your funding or your career in science.

--Aaron Lynch


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