Re: Institute for Memetic Research

Aaron Lynch (
Mon, 22 Jun 1998 11:07:07 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 11:07:07 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Institute for Memetic Research

Richard Brodie wrote:

>Aaron Lynch wrote:
><<However, if you can tell me the train stop for the "Institute for Memetics
>Research," I would be impressed.>>
>Your difficulty may be that you have a slight error in the name. It's
>"Institute for Memetic Research" (not "Memetics"). The last address I have
>for them is
>PO Box 16327
>Panama City FL 32406-1327


>Unfortunately, I don't think they are around any longer and I have lost
>touch with Elan Moritz, the director of the Institute and editor of the
>Journal. Dr. Moritz kindly gave me a very nice quote to use on the dust
>jacket of my book "Virus of the Mind", which you can read on the


My typo was not the problem. After all, It was I who first told Richard
Brodie about Elan Moritz, and Moritz's "Institute." I also told Richard
about the journal Moritz started in 1990 and killed in a year later.
Moritz, however, did not "direct" any published memetics research other
than his own home-office based work, and he was the only one whose papers
used "Institute for Memetics Research" in the affiliation or address
information. The title Moritz used was vastly inflated even during the year
in which he published a journal. In late 1991 or early 1992, Moritz
informed me that he was ending his memetics efforts to concentrate on his
family and his day job in the U.S. Department of the Navy. I passed this
information along to Richard Brodie by telephone in early 1994, in the same
conversation that informed Brodie about Moritz's 1990-1991 efforts. Even if
Richard forgot what I said, the lack of a journal, research projects, and
staff made it quite clear from 1992 onward that there was no authentic
"Institute for Memetic Research."

A P.O. box, a web page, a book jacket, or other superficials do not make a
bona fide research institution--even if the contact information reflects
someone's defunct attempt at a proto-institute. Post office boxes go for as
little as $7.50 per year in the U.S., and can bear just about any
organization name one cares to invent.

No one, least of all Moritz himself, should have referred to Moritz as
"Director, Institute for Memetics Research" at any time from 1992 onward.
Not, that is, if they wanted to establish the credibility of memetics among
scientists. Moreover, just because we have an unfortunate precedent does
not mean that anyone should imitate the idea of citing bogus institutions
or "directors" thereof.

I might be able to take Amtrak almost to the post office in Panama City,
Florida, but this will not get me any closer to a real "Institute for
Memetics Research."

--Aaron Lynch

How Belief Spreads Through Society--The New Science of Memes
Basic Books. Online Brochure:

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