Re: Meme Conference

Robert Aunger (
Tue, 18 May 1999 10:23:29 +0100

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From: Robert Aunger <>
Subject: Re: Meme Conference
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 10:23:29 +0100

Paul Marsden has just published to this list both a complaint about my
exclusion criteria for the conference I am organizing, and a piece that was
written for conference participants only as a "teaser" and was not intended
for general distribution. I think the latter is lamentable and
unprofessional. The former he has sent to the list rather than to me, which
is also disturbing.

I invite anyone organizing a conference with limited funds and academic
sponsorship (especially Cambridge University!) to come up with a "logical"
means of determining who can participate. There are simply many more
people interested in attending than I can pay for, and I have the
additional constraint of having to include antagonists to promote debate
(my sponsors are not willing to host a one-sided conference on such a
controversial topic). I chose an "academic" exclusionary criterion, to
which I have held without deviation, because I couldn't think of anything
else that would involve so little "personal" decision-making (read biasing)
on my part.

As for Ilfryn Price's "banning," I can only say that when I drew up the
list of invitees I was not aware of his work. Having no money to invite
additional people when he later inquired, I told him so. My lapse in
awareness of everyone who has ever written on memes is perhaps lamentable,
but one would think that a consultant to business would recognize economic
constraint as a "logical" reason for exclusion. This has happened a number
of times, so I expect to be regaled on this account again in future.

Finally, it is unusual for conferences held at King's College Research
Centre to be open to the public, and to be advertised to lists such as this
one. I have fought to be allowed to do this, and it has made planning much
more difficult (because I don't know how many people will show up). This is
my reward. I look forward to being "banned" from later memetics
conferences on the grounds that I excluded people from mine.

Bob Aunger

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