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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  August 2008

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE August 2008

Subject:

Re: Censored topics: Clarification requested

From:

Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 5 Aug 2008 11:48:03 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (144 lines)

Hi Mandi,

I, too, have witnessed similar problems to those you describe on
various lists. But there are also long-established lists such as
SprayNo, where most everyone on it is actively involved in fighting
against pesticides spraying, and which has generally not been faced
with the kind of abusive behavior you describe.

I, for one, have raised several items on this list that have turned
out to be controversial. My intention is NOT to disrupt, and I find
it hard to see how my own posts, or the relatively few posts by Jim
West, for example, can cause disruption here, as frustrating as some
people on this list may find those controversial ideas which --
please remember -- were writtten as legitimate queries in response to
assertions that others were making. I write here because on this list
are scientists of high quality and radical politics. Not being
involved with a university or research institution myself, this
listserve is one of the few resources available to me to discuss and
to come to understand the nature of certain debates. Please
understand that the controversial issues I raise here concerning HIV,
Gardasil, 911 Truth, etc. are coming out of and influencing social
movements with which I am involved (I could throw in Palestine and a
few other issues as well, but that one I'm pretty much able to handle
on my own), and for which I seek deeper scientific understanding. I
have learned a great deal from this list, especially in those
instances when list members have seriously addressed concerns raised.
As such, I have refined my views on a number of matters. The feedback
I've received has helped me in my various organizing projects. I've
also forwarded items and ideas from this list to other bulletin
boards I'm on, particularly the Green listserves, and those have
helped guide us in our work.

Just as much as this list has helped me, I think it is very important
to keep scientists connected to social and ecological movements.
While everyone here is, I'm sure, involved in those movements -- some
more than others -- the danger has always been for academics,
experts, scientists to become isolated from the nitty gritty of those
movements. The same is true for many of us regardless of profession
as we get older. We need to remember the import and intensity of
those arguments within movements, the often wrong interpretations as
well as the right ones, and strengthen our connections to them, which
is especially difficult now that so many revolutionary groups that
were nourished on grassroots democracy in addressing issues have been
replaced by Not-for-profit corporations prizing the trust-the-expert
and top-down approach that feeds the individual, with nowhere else to
turn, back into the system even as we seek to remedy a particular aspect of it.

Dana Bramel and Ron Friend wrote a crucial article back in 1981 on
"The Theory and Practice of Psychology," printed in Ollman and
Vernoff, "The Left Academy: Marxist Scholarship on American
Campuses." (I typed and critiqued that essay for the authors, who
were also my teachers at Stony Brook, and as part of my job I was to
run it into the editors in New York City, which is how I first met
Bertell Ollman -- the beginning of our provocative friendship.) Their
short review of psychology and Marxism is still fascinating to me,
and their general conclusion can productively be made to reflect on
other areas of science, including the Science for the People
listserve. It is worth posting here:

"Discussion of the organized efforts of left or Marxist psychologists
brings us full circle in our attempt to answer the question:
"Psychology for whom?" [We might here ask, "Science for whom?"] The
primary function of psychology as a bourgeois science in North
America has been to reduce society's problems to individual problems.
Psychology is applied at both ideological (images of human nature)
and practical levels for purposes of social control, but always with
the individual as the unit of analysis. This handicaps psychologists
in viewing the world as Marxists do. Therefore, if they are to take
an anticapitalist role in society, we believe it is insufficient to
organize as an alternative psychology. In addition they should
consider joining together with those outside of the discipline in
Marxist organizations, where their psychological work can be put to
direct use. This may be the only way to overcome the narrowness of
the professional's point of view, in its theory and in its practice."

I agree with that assessment, still, after all these years. One
should, in my opinion, take into consideration not only the view or
question or challenge itself, but from whence it springs. The
challenges to the official HIV = AIDS paradigm, for example, emerged
among People With AIDS themselves in ACT UP and HEAL, who may not
have had every scientific nuance nailed down but who knew (and still
do) from experience that something was awry and who were being killed
by the pharmaceuticals they were being told to take, and so the quest
for information became (and still remains) a desperate and immediate
need. Others can disagree, they can refine, they can argue -- but the
exhibition of *contempt* by some on this list for those who
collectively were (and still are) raising challenges to the dominant
paradigm further speaks, in my opinion, to Bramel and Friend's
insights and supports their conclusion -- one that I feel many on
this list, as elsewhere, have for too long ignored or forgotten in
our everyday lives.

Mitchel




At 08:21 AM 8/5/2008, you wrote:
>Having been involved in a number of fora on e-mail, I've realised that every
>single one has one or two members who constantly bring up a particular
>subject which arouses ire and frustration in other members. (With some,
>indeed, I've wondered if that's the whole point, if they just enjoy the
>effect.)
>One lefty forum had a member who simply would not, ever, be persuaded that,
>while men may indeed suffer abuse at the hands of women, statistics quite
>clearly show that the major problem is man-on-woman abuse. No matter what
>evidence anyone brought to the table, he would simply revert to his old
>point of view. (Curiously, this man - who is an attorney - is one of the
>names on the famous list of thousands of 'Aids dissenters'.)
>In the end, the forum, by unspoken consensus, simply stopped responding to
>his posts on this issue. What was the point, after all? And he just quietly
>went away, confirming my view that he was getting his kicks out of our
>response to him.
>Now I would not suggest that this is the case here, but I did decide some
>time ago that I would no longer engage in comment on this one issue. The
>commenters haven't given any evidence that persaudes me, and quite plainly,
>none of what any other members provide persuades them. So why bother? I'd so
>much rather save my energies for debates that actually inform, engage and
>interest me.
>Mandi
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "herb fox" <[log in to unmask]>
>To: <[log in to unmask]>
>Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2008 1:09 PM
>Subject: Re: Censored topics: Clarification requested
>
>
> > In my judgment the discussion about censorship is off the underlying
> > problem. What is the mission of this list serve? Were there a clear
> > statement of what is the purpose, intended participants, and intended
> > audience of the list serve, the criteria for acceptable and unacceptable
> > posts would be a slam dunk.
> > herb
> >
> > Mitchel Cohen wrote:
> > > Censorship is always tricky business.
> >
> > __________ NOD32 3327 (20080805) Information __________
> >
> > This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus system.
> > http://www.eset.com
> >
> >

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