Keeping the value of the Science for the People discussion list

Oaxaca, Monday, May 10, 2004


      The following exchange shows why we lost a valuable member. As one of
the two so-called "owners" of this list (Steve Cavrak is the other) I got
the following automatic notice from the listserv:
Sun, 21 Dec 2003 13:44:57

Stuart Newman <[log in to unmask]> has just signed off the
Science-for-the-People list (Science for the People Discussion List).
      I was troubled, and finally, 4 months later, I wrote Stuart:
Date: Sat, 03 Apr 2004 20:22:20 -0600
To: Stuart Newman <[log in to unmask]>

     I got the message below [above] a long time ago, and meant to write you
at the time, but failed to do so. Since I considered you one of the
consistently informative and relevant contributors to the listserv I was
wondering what motivated you to leave. I personally regret that you chose to
give up on the listserv. I kept you on my own e-mail distribution list, and
you should be getting things from me periodically.
Stuart responded promptly:
Date: Sun, 4 Apr 2004 22:23:37 -0400
To: George Salzman <[log in to unmask]>

Thanks for taking note of this.  I was feeling that the list was becoming a
place for people to repost articles, most of which I found of limited
interest. You're right, I did try to post original comments from time to
time, but they rarely, if ever, received any replies. Finally, someone from
New Zealand starting posting comments that included unpleasant references to
an alleged feminist stranglehold on the universities.  I posted something to
the effect that I hoped I was not alone in considering this out of bounds
for the SftP list. When even that garnered no response, I decided to withdraw.

I do appreciate your keeping me on your personal list and value the material
and commentaries you have been distributing.
And I wrote back:
Sent: Monday, April 05, 2004 12:40 AM
To: Stuart Newman <[log in to unmask]>

      I appreciate receiving your response. I too have felt discouraged at
times by the way that some folks are using (in my view misusing) the SftP
listserv. I don't really know what, if anything, to try to do about it. I'm
struck by the fact that initially Judy Norsigian withdrew, and now you. Two
good people, both involved in science and ethics for real, not just in a
diletantish way. Would you have any objection if I were to use your note in
a letter to the listserv? I would like to try to have the list be a valuable
communication site, and it doesn't help when people mainly use their
keyboard buttons to slap up this and that without providing any rationale
for why they think it's important and even, apparently, not realizing that
many of us on the list are not only literate but able to and do read
material on the internet.
Stuart's answer:
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2004 16:49:07 -0400
To: "George Salzman" <[log in to unmask]>

Sure, George--use my note as you wish, but I wouldn't like it to seem that I
expected a response to each of my posts.  Not getting a response when I
criticized the feminism-baiter was really the last straw.
      By losing Judy Norsigian and Stuart Newman our discussion list has
become that much poorer. When I originally thought of starting the listserv
and wrote Steve Cavrak about it, the idea was to have another means for us
to educate ourselves and each other.
      Some of you are on my personal e-mail distribution list, which I have
been building up and using in an effort to reach more people. If you are not
on my list, you can see some of my recent efforts at counter-propaganda,
which I also posted on my website, for example:

"Threat to traditional corn: one of many threats", April 17, 2004, at

"Mexico, birthplace of corn, threatened by its contamination; Scientist who
first announced the danger threatened by firing; A chance for you to act",
May 2, 2004, at

"Criticized for supporting Prof. Chapela's tenure struggle", May 7, 2004, at

      If you want me to add your name to my e-mail distribution list, just
let me know. Sincerely,
                  "Forge simple words that even the children can understand,
                        words which will enter every house like the wind and
                            fall like red hot embers on our people's souls."
                                                     --Jorge Rebelo, FRELIMO

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