Do the Ends Justify the Memes?

This post started as an update to my earlier post, but then I decided it needs its own post as it is a decidedly different topic.

The scandal I referred to earlier is known as the Seralini Affair.  The long and short of it is French biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini published a paper purportedly showing a connection to GMO corn and tumor growth.  When Seralini et al. were questioned on their methods and the fact the experiment was non-duplicatible.  It turns out the mice they had used were known for having a naturally high incidence of tumors.  In other words, Seralini et al. chose a test subject that would more likely than not give them the results they desired.  It seems M. Seralini felt the threat of GMOs, whether real or imagined, was so great that he needed to guarantee the proper outcome.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing isn’t limited.  Just last year, Jonathan Gruber, the self-described architect of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (AKA Obamacare) was caught on film talking about how ACA was passed:

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure C.B.O. did not score the [individual] mandate as taxes…Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the ‘stupidity of the American voter’ or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

Similar to the Seralini Affair, M. Gruber felt that the need to pass the ACA outweighed any benefit of debate on the issue, that its true nature had to be hidden.  And though this method, the discussion becomes more about memes rather than merit.

From a moralist point of view, such behavior is inexcusable.  From a realistic point of view, any idea should be able to stand or fall upon its merits.  If one needs to lie or cheat to implement their ideas or further their agenda, then the idea doesn’t begin with much merit.  It is in this area that markets really thrive.  Markets rigorously test ideas.  Those that have merit will stand.  Those without, fall.

2 thoughts on “Do the Ends Justify the Memes?

  1. As you imply Jon, do the memes justify the means, or vice versa, do the means justify the memes. Either way it always comes down to the character of the one generating the meme, and how willing he is to sacrifice his honor in achieving a goal. Aside from that, memes work more often than they fail, because most people have no idea they are in a market place of ideas, they just accept what comes their way that fits their preconceived notions.


  2. Jon, somewhere in my stack of Discover and Omni magazines from the 80s and 90s, there is a quote I very clearly recall but have not been able to locate.

    A scientist, talking about the relatively new idea about the greenhouse effect on the planet, said (I paraphrase, but my language is not far off): “This is too important for us to rely just on science. The fate of life as we know it is at stake, and we can’t wait on results to be conclusive.”

    I shook my head, said “That will never fly,” and foolishly went on with my life.


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