Re: Parody of Science

Aaron Lynch (
Sat, 31 Jul 1999 10:50:02 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 1999 10:50:02 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Parody of Science
In-Reply-To: <000201bedb3d$c537a980$2250ac3e@paul>

At 11:57 AM 7/31/99 +0200, Paul Marsden wrote:
>>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.
>"The [baby dolls for girls] meme may also have emotional effects lasting
>girlhood, the baby doll provides a source of comfort and make-believe
>attachment. 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 desire for a real baby." <snip>

I describe the baby dolls for girls meme as *a* contributing causal factor
to women's desire's to have children. Nowhere do I make the statement you
attribute to me that "This is what lies behind the phenomenon of 'baby
lust'." Not only was I quick to point out that seeing other women with
*real* babies is another contributing factor, but the book elsewhere
mentions a variety of memetic factors behind people's (including women's)
desires for children. Some of these include desires to satisfy religious
commands to "populate the world abundantly and multiply in it," or to "be
fruitful and multiply." Or to satisfy the Amish need for farm labor. Or the
Mormon desire to liberate captive souls. Or to please powerful ancestral
spirits. Or to pass down the family name. Etc. And mentioning all these
memetic factors does not rule out biologically innate factors either. What
you have done by falsely attributing the claim "This is what lies behind
the phenomenon of 'baby lust'" is to make the book look ridiculous.

Now what I find ironic is that despite faulting _Thought Contagion_ for
containing so many yet uncorroborated hypotheses, your piece goes on to
plug _The Meme Machine_, which contains all sorts of uncorroborated
hypotheses about the self, brain size, birth control, etc. Now don't get me
wrong, I like many (but not all) of the hypotheses in _The Meme Machine_
and look forward to seeing them given proper empirical investigation.
However, this does not require you or anyone else making false statements
about _Thought Contagion_ that tend to make its hypotheses look utterly
unworthy of consideration.

As for whether my book was preceeded and followed by quantitative
theoretical offered for use in empirical investigations, there is
commentary about that in my forthcoming JASSS reply. Do not, however,
expect such technical material to be published in a book for the

--Aaron Lynch

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