Thursday, June 21, 2007

Declaration of Academic Freedom

The recent crackpot hunting activities have their comic aspects but what looks comedy from a safe distance, is a tragedy when seen from nearby. A public defame literally in a global scale can produce a lot of suffering to their victims and their friends and relatives. The young crackpot hunters seems to be quite blind to this human aspect.

Many western intellectuals accept Physical Integrity as a basic value. For some reason these people however see nothing bad in the violation of what might be called Intellectual Integrity or Emotional Integrity. The events in comment sections of some blogs indeed bring in mind a story about how primitive tribes treated the individuals who broke the taboo: the taboo breaker was literally torn in pieces in a bloody orgy.

The crackpot hunting is of course only a tip of iceberg. The censorship applied by so called respected journals and by electronic archives such as plus academic discrimination prevents very effectively the communitation of new ideas.

There is an organization known as Archive Freedom founded for few years ago by the victims of these activities. It has also electronic archive to which people censored out of and unable to publish in so called respected journals can post their papers.

Kea had added to her blog a piece of the Declaration of Academic Freedom to her blog. I think that this piece of text deserves to be added also here.

Article 2: Who is a scientist

A scientist is any person who does science. Any person who collaborates with a scientist in developing and propounding ideas and data in research or application is also a scientist. The holding of a formal qualification is not a prerequisite for a person to be a scientist.

Article 4: Freedom of choice of research theme

Many scientists working for higher research degrees or in other research programmes at academic institutions such as universities and colleges of advanced study, are prevented from working upon a research theme of their own choice by senior academic and/or administrative officials, not for lack of support facilities but instead because the academic hierarchy and/or other officials simply do not approve of the line of inquiry owing to its potential to upset mainstream dogma, favoured theories, or the funding of other projects that might be discredited by the proposed research. The authority of the orthodox majority is quite often evoked to scuttle a research project so that authority and budgets are not upset. This commonplace practice is a deliberate obstruction to free scientific thought, is unscientific in the extreme, and is criminal. It cannot be tolerated.

A scientist working for any academic institution, authority or agency, is to be completely free as to choice of a research theme, limited only by the material support and intellectual skills able to be offered by the educational institution, agency or authority. If a scientist carries out research as a member of a collaborative group, the research directors and team leaders shall be limited to advisory and consulting roles in relation to choice of a relevant research theme by a scientist in the group.

Article 8: Freedom to publish scientific results:

A deplorable censorship of scientific papers has now become the standard practice of the editorial boards of major journals and electronic archives, and their bands of alleged expert referees. The referees are for the most part protected by anonymity so that an author cannot verify their alleged expertise. Papers are now routinely rejected if the author disagrees with or contradicts preferred theory and the mainstream orthodoxy. Many papers are now rejected automatically by virtue of the appearance in the author list of a particular scientist who has not found favour with the editors, the referees, or other expert censors, without any regard whatsoever for the contents of the paper. There is a blacklisting of dissenting scientists and this list is ommunicated between participating editorial boards. This all amounts to gross bias and a culpable suppression of free thinking, and are to be condemned by the international scientific community.

All scientists shall have the right to present their scientific research results, in whole or in part, at relevant scientific conferences, and to publish the same in printed scientific journals, electronic archives, and any other media. No scientist shall have their papers or reports rejected when submitted for publication in scientific journals, electronic archives, or other media, simply because their work questions current majority opinion, conflicts with the views of an editorial board, undermines the bases of other current or planned research projects by other scientists, is in conflict with any political dogma or religious creed, or the personal opinion of another, and no scientist shall be blacklisted or otherwise censured and prevented from publication by any other person whomsoever. No scientist shall block, modify, or otherwise interfere with the publication of a scientist's work in the promise of any presents or other bribes whatsoever.

P.S. In n-Category Cafe there is a nice posting of David Corfield expressing what science is at best: a spiritual endeavour rather than fight for academic positions.


Kea said...

Excellent. There is some interesting reading on the Archive Freedom website. Now let's wait and see what happens to me next....

Anonymous said...

> It has also electronic archive to which people censored out of and unable to publish in so called respected journals can post their papers.

Interesting. I like thie concept of free archives, unlike the commercials journals that even charge you for reading the papers. Which I always found a big odd.

Perhaps this could grow into beeing something for the scientific community, that GNU is for the software community?

In my opinion and I think many agree the GNU community is highly respected, because alot of their stuff it good and done for the love of it and to provide good function to the public. Unlike commercial software wich is done with the primary purpose of making money.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who would support this vision, and thus boycott and forum or media that allows political or commercial interference with scientific ideals, for whatever reason.

I guess the real life problem is that all of us are constrained to every day life and pay your bills.

We all need basic needs satisfied. It's hard to do science, philosophy or any intellectual if you lack coverage of basic needs. Unless your born rich and can spend 24 hours do anything at all without working, noone could do 8 hours research everyday for free.

I personally do like like the interference with commercial aspects and science. It just doesn't smell right to me. But it seems to be part of reality. I see two choices, accept it any "play the game", or try to change the rules.

I'm not politically interested so I can't actively work to change the world (I think it's juts not my mission) but I instead try to passively act in favour of a long term change. This is why I jumped off the academic route well in time. I'll let someone else play and I instead try it my way.

Anyone know if there has yet been any good posts in the alternative archive?

Hyvää Juhannusta and be easy on the koskenkorva! ;)


Matti Pitkänen said...

Free archives at least guarantee that you have some forum where someone might easily find your theory of everything;-).

I have the feeling that if we could give up the idea of ever-continuing growth, we could live good life by limiting hard work to few hours per day. A lot of time for art, science and philosophy and family life.

Koskenkorva is not for a drinker at my age even unless he identifies himself as "äijä";-)!