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RE: [hreg] FW: Eminent physicist refuses to review American colleagues' papers [fwd]

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  • Robert Johnston
    OK, I ll bite. What does this have to do with a Houston based organization devoted to promulgating science and technology? Isn t that what HREG is about
    Message 1 of 2 , May 9, 2003

      OK, I’ll bite. 


      What does this have to do with a Houston based organization devoted to promulgating science and technology?  Isn’t that what HREG is about (within the field of renewable energy)?


      Dr. Amit is entitled to his views.  But to broadbrush all Americans, or even all American scientists and scientific institutions, as warmongers and barbarian oppressors is analogous to saying that HREG members should stick to researching more efficient hiking techniques because the use of transportation technology, e.g., machine-based transportation and cleaner energy sources for same, is evil since it is part of the whole science and technology enterprise from which have emerged nuclear power, internal combustion engines, and other technologies that have created problems along with their benefits.


      Truth is, science and technology have ALWAYS been linked with warfare.  The U.S. Army Museum in West Point does an excellent job of showing how warfare through the ages changed in response to new science and technology, which gave armies the winning edge and forced wholesale changes in military strategy.  The Iraq war is doing the same.  But science and technology have also been linked to peace, and I think it is fair to say that in most cases, the “peace dividends” of new technological discoveries have been greater than the military dividends.  Take computer science, for instance, which you are benefiting from as you read this.  It was developed by and for both civil and military purposes (remember the early code-breaking computers?).  The military applications of computer science have been numerous and growing, but the civilian applications and benefits have been far greater (which is why the military is borrowing so much of their computer technology from civilians rather than the other way around).  Science is neutral.  What we do with it is the issue.  And that is a spiritual and ethical matter, not a matter for science per se.  Scientists are human beings, of course, and therefore are not exempt from facing the ethical dimensions of their work, but I don’t see an ethical basis for shunning the entire scientific enterprise.


      Technology is less neutral than science, since technology is applied science, and application (by definition) involves decisions that affect people directly.  Even here, however, the focus must be on people, not on technology per se.  Not only technologists, but politicians, consumers, businessmen, and all of society have a role to play in deciding the proper role of a particular technology in our society.  Nanotechnology is becoming all the rage, as biotechnology already has.  Rice University and Houston have been leaders in nanotechnology.  There is enormous potential for good.  There is also enormous potential for evil, even if one discounts the sci-fi nanobot domination tales.  Evil men and women have always used technology against humanity.  (Airplanes are great tools for transportation, but as we now know, they make deadly missiles too).  Good men and women should not abandon science nor leave technology for the exclusive use of evil people, but should use it responsibly and ethically and seek to extend it, as most HREG members seek to do.


      It is easy to blame science and technology for not controlling its children.  But it isn’t fair, nor is it realistic.  I applaud Martin Blume for insisting on keeping his technical publication free from politics and focused on science. 


      Robert Johnston


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      -----Original Message-----
      From: Randy Scott [mailto:cad1@...]
      Friday, May 09, 2003 8:23 AM
      To: ETList@yahoogroups. com; Evworld@Yahoogroups. Com; Hreg@Yahoogroups. Com; Impeach-Bush@Yahoogroups. Com; John Lienhard
      Cc: Mental_Fisticuffs@yahoogroups. com
      Subject: [hreg] FW: Eminent physicist refuses to review Ame
      rican colleagues' papers [fwd]


      Subject: Eminent physicist refuses to review American colleagues' papers [fwd]


      > http://www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/042503Amit/042503amit.html
      > The building world boycott of the
      > Eminent physicist refuses to review American colleagues' papers
      > Reprinted
      April 25, 2003
      > Dr. Daniel Amit: "What we are watching today, I believe, is a
      > culmination of 10-15 years of mounting barbarism of the American
      > the world over, crowned by the achievements of science and technology
      > a major weapon of mass destruction."
      > Sent:
      Friday, March 21, 2003 6:11 AM
      > Subject: Review_request AMIT EA8932
      > Dr. Daniel Amit
      > Univ. di Roma
      > La Sapienza
      > Ple Aldo Moro 2
      > 00185
      Roma, ITALY
      > Electronic URL-Download Referral from Physical Review E
      > Code: EA8932
      > Title: Transitions in oscillatory dynamics of two connected neurons
      > excitatory synapses
      > Received
      08 January 2003
      > Dear Dr. Amit:
      > We would appreciate your review of this manuscript, which has been
      > Submitted to Physical Review E. This message is the COMPLETE REFERRAL.
      > No hardcopy will be sent unless requested.
      > ------------------------------
      > From: "Daniel Amit" <daniel.amit@...>
      > To: "Physical Review E" <pre@...>
      > Sent:
      Friday, March 21, 2003 6:11 PM
      > Subject: Re: Review_request AMIT EA8932 Roudi
      > I will not at this point correspond with any american institution.
      > Some of us have lived through 1939.
      > ------------------------------
      > From: "martin blume" <blume@...>
      > To: <daniel.amit@...>;
      > <damita@...>
      > Subject: your email to the American Physical Society
      > Date:
      Tuesday, April 08, 2003 10:31 PM
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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. We have done this even in cases where some of
      > us
      > have disagreed strongly with the policies of that country, and we will
      > continue this practice. We believe it is essential that all parties
      > involved make every effort to separate social and political differences
      > from their
      > participation in scientific research and publication. The pursuit of
      > scientific knowledge needs to transcend such issues.
      > Sincerely,
      > Martin Blume
      > Editor-in-Chief
      > ------------------------------
      > Dear Dr Blume, Editor in Chief
      > American Physical Society
      > 09.04.2003
      > 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
      > 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,
      > 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
      > 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. But, the minor role of my act and
      > statement is a simple way of affirming that in the face of a growing
      > enormity which I consider intolerable, I will exercise my own tiny act
      > of disobedience to be able to look straight into the eyes of my
      > grandchildren and my students and say that I did know.
      > With regard
      > Daniel Amit
      > PS I intend to distribute our exchange as much as possible. I authorize
      > And pray that you do the same.
      > **************************************************
      > forwarded by:
      > The Edmonds Institute
      20319-92nd Avenue West
      Edmonds, Washington 98020 USA
      > telephone: 1-425-775-5383
      > email: beb@...
      > website: <http://www.edmonds-institute.org>
      > **************************************************

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