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Radically Inept
Saturday, August 07, 2004
  The politics of science

Via Inspector Lohmann via scratchings via Wealth Bondage, it dawns on me that the use of three 'via's makes order ambiguous, but the link is par excellence. And, though it is now published on several other blogs, it is deserving of yet one more post in light of what I think may be its importance,Interchange of letters between Prof. Daniel Amit and an American scientific journal:
"Dear Dr. Amit,

We have received your email with your decision not to review a paper for us in light of American actions in the middle east. We recognize that reviewing manuscripts is a voluntary activity, one that you perform as a service to the physics community, and we thank you for your efforts.

Given the voluntary nature of your participation we of course respect your decision to cease, and have made an indication in our database so that no further papers will be sent to you for review until you inform us otherwise.

We ask, however, that you consider the following in hopes that in the not too distant future you will decide to review for us again.

We regard science as an international enterprise and we do our best to put aside political disagreements in the interest of furthering the pursuit of scientific matters. We have never used other than scientific criteria in judging the acceptability of a paper for publication, without regard to the country of origin of the author."
Which expresses the sentiment that science has always prided itself on striving to achieve, though occasionally falling short.

The reply:
Dear Dr Blum

Thank you for you letter of April 8. I would have liked to be able to share the honorable sentiments you express in your letter as well as your optimism in the future role of science and the scientific community. To be frank, and with much sadness and pain, after 40 years of activity and collaboration, I find very little reason for such optimism.

What we are watching today, I believe, is a culmination of 10-15 years of mounting barbarism of the American culture the world over, crowned by the achievements of science and technology as a major weapon of mass destruction. We are witnessing man hunt and wanton killing of the type and scale not seen since the raids on American Indian populations, by a superior technological power of inferior culture and values. We see no corrective force to restore the insanity, the self-righteousness and the lack of respect for human life (civilian and military) of another race.

Science cannot stay neutral, especially after it has been so cynically used in the hands of the inspectors to disarm a country and prepare it for decimation by laser guided cluster bombs. No, science of the American variety has no recourse. I, personally, cannot see myself anymore sharing a common human community with American science. Unfortunately, I also belong to a culture of a similar spiritual deviation (Israel), and which seems to be equally incorrigible.

In desperation I cannot but turn my attention to other tragic periods in which major societies, some with claims to fundamental contributions to culture and science, have deviated so far as to be relegated to ostracism and quarantine. At this point I think American society should be considered in this category. I have no illusions of power, as to the scope and prospect of my attitude.
I hadn't made the similarity with our current policies and our past policies against the Native Americans, but I think it apt.

Further, some good may come of this. As our administration keeps suppressing science anyway, and firing scientists and replacing them with theologists, see "Another case of having to follow the money?" as an example, it may work in ways that Dr amid may or may not have considered. Since we seem in this country to be seeking a return to the Dark Ages in terms of actual thought and the pursuit of knowledge, it might work well for the rest of the world to cut off intellectual pursuits which we condemn anyway. Hell, do I even want this administration in control of the knowledge derived from stem cell research. No, I think they would only use it to find better way to turn the populace into drones and to make ever deadlier weapons.

So, sadly I find myself supporting Dr amid, and I even more sadly, hope that other scientists around the world follow his example. America, and as he states - Israel, appear to be bent on using science largely to the detriment of the human race.

I am really scared of what we might do should we achieve a major breakthrough in nanotechnology.




 
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