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Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality (fwd)



Forwarded message:

> Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 19:26:11 -0800
> From: Tim May <[email protected]>
> Subject: Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality

> "Name me one..."? How about Gauss, who didn't publish many of his results.
> Or, of course, Fermat, ironically linked to Wiles.

True, Gauss didn't publish many of his results and he wasn't famed for that
either. He *was* famed because he *did* publish some of his works. In fact,
if you study Gauss you find a insecure introvert who in general hated his
competition. He lied in his correspondance about work he supposedly did (see
his relations with Bolyai who was a friend of his from school -
"Non-euclidean Geometry" by Roberto Bonola; Dover ISBN 0-486-60027-0 $5.50).
Yes, Gauss was respected for his math, he was hated for his humanity, or
lack thereof. If anything Gauss' bahaviour held back science because of his
self-interest.

Fermat in general published most of his work, however, much of it was lost
including his proof. His statement was that it was too long to be written in
the margin of the book, not that he didn't write it down. The implication
being that he *had* written it down and it got misplaced or lost it.

Both of these folks are *very* poor examples of your point.

> Not to mention Darwin, who sat on his results for almost 20 years, and only
> issued a paper and his famed book because he learned another naturalist was
> about to announce similar conclusions.

Darwin set on his results because he was aware of the results of his work
and the consequence to his career. He felt he needed more stature and as a
consequence more security before publishing. He also understood he was right
and that the first to publish would go down in history and the second would
be an also ran. If you study the others alive at the time there were many
people who had suggested similar theories. His own uncle had written similar
material several decades before Darwin ever set foot on the Beagle. Darwin
didn't invent evolution, he did refine it. Further, Darwin *isn't* know in
the scientific community for his two books intended for lay readers. He *is*
known for his seminal study of finches and mollusks, both quite clearly
demonstrate his beliefs and theories and both had a much bigger impact on
the scientific acceptance of evolution than 'Species' ever hoped to have.
You are confusing the acceptance by the lay public as equivalent to
scientific acceptance. You really should read Mayr.

Again, a bad example.

> Publication and, more importantly, discussion and challenge, is often very
> important to the advancement of science. But is some cast in stone
> requirement? Of course not.

Actualy the open discussion of hypothesis and the testing thereof in open
and unbiased comparison by indipendant researchers *is* most certainly a
requirement in science - your protest not withstanding.

> Building an artifact which embodies the science, for example. Exploding an
> atom bomb was pretty clearly a demonstration that the science done was
> correct, regardless of whether there was "open literature" or not.

Don't confuse the science of atomic physics with the engineering of building
a bomb. They are not the same thing. The majority of the work done to
succesfuly understand an atomic bomb was known world wide in the 1920's
and early '30's. The engineering to do it along with the money and project
management skills motivated by the political where with all to actualy do it
didn't.

You are confusing affect and effect.

> This is just too easy, refuting Detweiler's points. So I'll stop here.

Thanks. My smashed finger is starting to hurt and your points are pretty easy
to refute as well.


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