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Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality (fwd)

Forwarded message:

> Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 19:14:05 -0800
> From: Blanc <[email protected]>
> Subject: Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality 

> >something most anarchists here will deny is the existence of something
> >that could be called *immoral science*. is there such a thing? 
> ............................................................
> No.  There are, however, immoral scientists.

According to who? The scientist who is supposedly immoral? Obviously their
actions aren't against their beliefs. The observer who is claiming it is
immoral because they *believe* it to be immoral? Morality is a function of
human psychology and not a fundamental result of existance. The relationship
is similar to that between A, T, C, G, U and the genome.

> actual manner of existence:  "science" does not exist without those
> individuals who have set themselves to pursue it.  They should bear the
> blame if they practice it immorally.

Who is so moral that they may decide what is immoral? If you're a Christian
the answer is simple 'judge not lest ye be judged'. Jesus stopped the
stonning of an adulteress by saying that he who was without sin could throw
the first stone. Since he was the only one without sin (by defintion in
Christianity) he should have been the one to throw the first stone. What did
he do? He sent everyone home with the admonishment to sin no more.

> .  being smart enough to pursue scientific research

It doesn't necessarily take smarts.

> .  being successful in the scientific pursuit of truths

What truths? Science isn't involved in 'truth' let alone 'Truth'.

> .  giving a damn about the consequences of the effects of research as it
> affects humanity or other living things (as when it is imposed upon them)

So you propose that ignorance of the consequences will some how protect us?

> .  responsibility in science

Responsibility to who? The person(s) paying the bill, your fellow scientist,
the society you live in, the world you inhabit, the generations to follow?

> .  responsibility in science as practiced by mendicants of the State

Don't confuse working for the state as something that somehow mediates the
basic tenents of science. If to get the job you may have to give up some
scientific practices then at that point you aren't practicing science anymore.

> .  the regulation of the methods of science

That's easy, the theories work when applied in experiments.

> I become exceedingly uncomfortable at the realization that I have to buy an
> astronomy magazine from the store, paying yet again for info, in order to
> find out some of what they're doing at NASA.


or simply send email to Ron Baalke at JPL (you could call him on the phone
if you don't mind paying the bill)

>  To think that a responsible
> citizen like myself must go out searching for the info themselves, using
> whatever resources they can find or pay for, in order to become informed!

Why do they have a responsibility to drop it on your doorstep?

> There is a book in Objectivist literature which presents the idea of

What book?

> "context dropping", which is, that in order for some people to function as
> if things were normal and that what they're doing is consistent with moral
> principles, they must drop a part of their information out of sight, out of
> thought, so that their actions appear logically related and make sense  -
> they eliminate elements from the given context, crucial essentials which
> make the difference in its character.  People like these might practice
> secrecy in keeping information from others, but equally significant, they
> also hide things from themselves.

Everyone is like that. It is one of the reasons science requires public
dialog on its results. You can fool some of the people most of the time,
most of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all
the time.

Sooner or later somebody will notice the king (theory) is butt naked
(doesn't work when applied in experiment).

> It's possible for some people to override the boundaries of decency, even
> if they're otherwise smart enough to pursue science.  But what would you
> expect cryptographers to do about it?

Cryptographers are scientist also.

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