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Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality

Blanc <[email protected]> writes:

> Dr.Dimitri Vulis KOTM wrote:
> >Not just the scientific community... everyone. If an art critic declines
> >to publish something, its a loss probably only to his fellow art critics,
> >but if a mathematician or a biologist or a physicist doesn't publish, it's
> >a loss for more than just his colleagues.
> .........................................................................
> There is a sense of loss of valuable information, once you know that it
> existed before you knew about it.   Of course, there are a million and one
> things that we don't know today that we wish we knew, and which could help
> everyone who has the need for that special knowledge.
> 1) But it is also true that the Truth (the facts of nature and principles
> on what is possible - in mathematics, or any scientific pursuit) does not
> "go away" simply because one person's discovery is not conveyed to
> everyone.  It remains true and in existence, waiting for anyone else to do
> the work of discovery, or for mankind itself to evolve into the kind of
> creature whose mind can grasp the principles involved.   It is a loss not
> to know the achievements of a great scientist's work, but the facts
> themselves are not lost, they remain available for anyone who can think as
> well, to find them.

Think of Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Mona Lisa. For
reasons unknown to me, computer geeks like to use it in digitized form as
an example of art. Had it been kept in the Versailles during the french
revolution, it probably would have been looted and destroyed by the mobs.
If that happened, computer geeks probably would be using some other
famous work of art at their art fetish; perhaps the birth of venus
because there the woman is nekkid(!). If some art critic (professional
or amateur) expressed an opinion as to why computer geeks like Mona Lisa,
that opinion would probably be of no consequence.  And if Isaac Newton
chose to write principa in english, rather than latin, it probably would
have contained the same mathematical ideas.

> 2) Scientists and other very original, competent people like to think they
> can do as well as any one else, and I imagine sometimes they consider
> insulting the proposition that they must depend upon the work of another in
> order to achieve understanding; that without it they would be unable to do
> as well.  Isn't this one of the reasons for some of the conflicts between
> scientists over originality, and the jealousy over recognition?

That's why the society/the species benefits when scientific ideas are
published and disseminated: other scientists exposed to these ideas
come up with ideas of their own.

> I went to an exhibit yesterday of Leonardo da Vinci, where I saw the 400
> year old Codex Leicester.   He was "a keen observer" of Nature, and from
> his detailed studies he learned much which provided his inventive mind with
> much material for creative works.   The exhibit brings to mind not only his
> work, but the methods of such a great mind in reaching those heights and
> breadths.
> So in relation to this debate on the morality of not sharing:  would it not
> be as good a thing to look toward method - to value and promote the ability
> to know how to think, how to observe properly, how to understand what is
> before oneself - than merely to consider ourselves dependent upon the
> _result_ of the work of certain others, bewailing their insensitivity when
> they fail to share with us what they obtained for themselves?  Because this
> does go in the direction of thinking in terms of "obligation", which is
> rather unappreciative of their unique & separate identity.

You're missing my point. If the society would benefit from a certain behavior,
it should not rely on coercion, but use economic motivation to encourage it.
Clearly NSF doesn't work any better than NEA.


<a href="mailto:[email protected]">Dr.Dimitri Vulis KOTM</a>
Brighton Beach Boardwalk BBS, Forest Hills, N.Y.: +1-718-261-2013, 14.4Kbps