Re: Parody of Science

Aaron Lynch (
Fri, 30 Jul 1999 18:28:58 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 18:28:58 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Parody of Science
In-Reply-To: <000801bedaba$39739180$e3708cd4@paul>

At 08:34 PM 7/30/99 +0200, Paul Marsden wrote:
>>Readers might therefore consider the possibility that
>>my "Millennium Contagion" paper competes with Marsden’s contract work,
>No it helped it, that is why I thanked you.

In that case, you are admitting the value of publishing hypotheses that are
not yet backed by rigorous empirical evidence. The main hypotheses about
doomsday beliefs in the Millennium Contagion paper derive directly from
ones published in chapters 1 and 5 of _Thought Contagion_.

>Check out the New Scientist article, our theoretical positions have more in
>common than you would probably want to admit - but I'm a sucker for evidence
>and theoretically informed argument. My problem.

Fine, I will look at it when it reaches the U.S.

In the meantime, I re-post my replies to the sample you gave from your
"review," in case you missed my 2-part reply. Note that this is only my
reply to the 3 paragraphs from your "review" that YOU chose to post today.
I will further point out that even if you disagree with everything I say,
or if you doubt the prospects for a rigorous science of memetics, or my
contribution to it, that does not give license to falsify. If you really
had such a strong theoretical or empirical case against what is said in
_Thought Contagion_, you should have been able to make that case without
falsifying any of what I said. You also would not have needed to play
preposition games with the subject heading of this thread.

At 07:57 AM 7/30/99 +0200, Paul Marsden wrote:

>Why do men talk more about/prefer women's breasts than posteriors? "Indeed,
>young males may feel inhibited from discussing female posteriors because it
>reminds them of anal sex and homosexuality ..." (p. 86)

The section in question is titled "Breast Fetishes," and focuses on the
(largely American) phenomenon of males vocally expressing preferences for
large breasts. (p. 85-85). Marsden's out of context quote of a sentence
fragment skips my main argument and mislabels the subject heading.

>Why is masturbation "prime material for commercial use"? Masturbation is a
>"prime material for commercial use" because it can make "... people pay
>attention long enough to hear a commercial, and then improve recall of the
>commercial by "downloading" it to an aroused audience." (p. 91)

Anyone mislead by these out of context sentence fragments can read the
masturbation discussion in the online introductory chapter at as well as the section in chapter 4.
Note that my phrase "commercial use" does not refer to use in
advertisements, but use on commercial media such as television and
radio--most famously "Seinfeld," on October 26, 1992, the episode titled
"The Contest" (David, L. 1992).

>Why do women want to have children? "As the girl grows up, she learns that
>she is too old to play with dolls anymore. But the desire for comfort and
>attachment remains, and translates into a desire for a real baby". This is
>what lies behind the phenomenon of "baby lust". (p. 57)

The last sentence is a falsification, and one of many I did not have space
to discuss in my forthcoming reply in JASSS. The actual statement from p.
57 reads "Seeing other women enjoy comfort and attachment from a real baby
heightens the desire still further, to a point sometimes called "baby lust"
in contemporary America." Note also that the section in question is not
about why women want children, but one titled "Baby Dolls for Girls and
Hero Dolls for Boys." (p. 56-58) No part of that section is offered as the
explanation of why so many women want children, or even as well-developed
look into memetic factors. Rather, the sentence I just quoted was made to
assure readers that I was NOT saying that experience with baby dolls was
the whole story. Marsden's sentence "This is what lies behind the
phenomenon of "baby lust" is quite contrary to what _Thought Contagion_
actually says. Again, anything said about _Thought Contagion_ in Marsden's
"review" must be checked for accuracy by reading the book itself.


--Aaron Lynch

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