April 2003


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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
George Salzman <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 23 Apr 2003 10:45:05 -0400
Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (47 lines)
Subject: Re: Physics researcher refuses to review for American journals
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 15:13:41 -0600
From: George Salzman <[log in to unmask]>
To: Daniel Amit <[log in to unmask]>,
      Daniel Amit <[log in to unmask]>
CC: Martin Blume <[log in to unmask]>,
       Physical Review E <[log in to unmask]>

Oaxaca, Mexico, Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Dear Daniel Amit,

      This is to thank you for your principled refusal to referee for the American Physical Society, which I saw in your correspondence with Martin
Blume, as posted on the Science for the People listserv.

      Blume's statement is profoundly incorrect, because contemporary science is never an innocent pursuit. He wrote, as though science and the
search for scientific knowledge exist in splendid isolation from the social and political goals of those who fund the research,

"We regard 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."

      The pursuit of scientific knowledge not only does not need to transcend social and political issues. It cannot afford to. On the contrary, as an
institutionalized pursuit, it is forced precisely to serve the dominant social and political elites, to do what they pay it to do. The entire technology
of weapons of mass destruction rests solidly on scientific knowledge which was not accumulated simply to satisfy scientific curiosity, but to
assist elites in their struggle for world domination. My own thesis advisor's terrible achievement was to calculate the "optimum" height above
Hiroshima at which to detonate the bomb.

      Years later, during the Vietnam War many U.S. scientists worked for the War Department. Among the elite consultants were those in the
Jason Project who developed the so-called electronic battlefield. Science for the People began with the realization of how science was being
(mis)used. European scientists were also involved in opposing the use of science for war purposes. Some of this history of scientific complicity is
in a talk, "How and Why Science for Humane Survival began: a personal note", which I prepared for my radical science course with that name. It
is posted at:

      I share your conviction that American society has reached the point at which the rest of the world should relegate it to ostracism and
quarantine. In fact, I advocated international imposition of isolation on the U.S. in order to force it to abandon the drive for global military and
economic dominance. My call for tough international sanctions is at:

We were unable to prevent the awesome slaughter in Iraq, but our task is hardly over.