Print

Print


Thanks, Herb for an excellent concept for the list. I think some of  
Michael Balter's caveats are well-taken, but let us not stray too far  
from the emphasis  on science and technology one way or the other.

Best,
Michael

On Jan 4, 2009, at 1:59 AM, Michael Balter wrote:

> This all sounds reasonable, except for this one sentence:
>
> "Let the list serve be exclusively a forum for exposing the misuse  
> of science and for revealing examples of the use of science on  
> behalf of people."
>
> This is way too restrictive, and would eliminate many of the useful  
> posts on this list, which provide information and background on what  
> scientists are doing, the social and political context for science,  
> science policy, and the like, often from mainstream sources. It  
> would also be impossible for us to agree on which posts fit these  
> criteria and which don't. List members should be free to post  
> material that they in good faith believe is relevant or of interest,  
> even if it only indirectly relates to the central mission of the  
> list. The more we know about what is going on in the scientific and  
> technological worlds, the better equipped we are to make a  
> difference should we have the opportunity to do so.
>
> I would also add that the list should continue to be a place where  
> vigorous debate can take place, but that personal attacks (rather  
> than political disagreements) should be barred. As the target of the  
> great majority of PERSONAL attacks on this list over the past few  
> years, due primarily to the political positions I take (from George  
> Salzman, Jonathan Campbell, Louis Proyect, Louis Godena, "Michael  
> Butter," et al., who have branded me everything from a "liberal" to  
> a paid tool of the ruling class to a "racist hypocrite" and  
> "Zionist") I would be very happy if they would stop, and I have  
> pledged to our moderator that I will no longer respond in kind as  
> long as they are dealt with. There has been a tendency for our  
> moderator to be silent when a personal attack is made and to only  
> step in when it is responded to in kind, which raises the issue of  
> evenhandedness.
>
> MB
>
> On Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 5:52 AM, herb fox <[log in to unmask]>  
> wrote:
> Below is my conception of what a civil, broad, friendly Science-for- 
> the-People list should be.
>
> 1.   The list should be a free association of like-minded persons  
> with a common interest in what is broadly expressed by the slogan  
> "Science for the People."  This requires a certain amount of self  
> moderation, respect for others, tolerance for differing political  
> perspectives, and an awareness that an excessively contentious  
> atmosphere makes the list unattractive to those whom we would like  
> to reach.
>
> 2.   It is reasonable and necessary that there be provocative list  
> postings.  The Science-for-the-People perspective, especially the  
> assertion that science is not intrinsically neutral, is  
> provocative.  Although  provocative ideas in and about science are  
> appropriate, deliberate attempts to provoke a response from someone,  
> or some few, that one has an animus toward (for whatever reason.) is  
> nether appropriate nor ethical and will eventually destroy the  
> usefulness of the list.
>
> 3.   Continuing to post off-content material because others do or  
> making personal attacks because one has been personally attacked are  
> evidence of a lack of self-discipline.  Everyone should assume  
> responsibility for his or her own posting behavior irrespective of  
> the behavior of others.  That also enables the moderator to  
> recognize and isolate destructive behavior.
>
> 4.   Let the list serve be exclusively a forum for exposing the  
> misuse of science and for revealing examples of the use of science  
> on behalf of people.  Those on the list who have more completely  
> developed and inclusive political visions and critiques should feel  
> free to relate the critique of the misuse of science to their larger  
> critiques; but a critique of capitalism that makes no reference to  
> science does not belong on this list.  Neither do critiques of  
> various contemporary socialist experiments belong on this list  
> unless they appear in reference to scientific activities in those  
> countries.
> 5.   The list should also offer opportunity for the non-scientist,  
> or scientist, to raise questions and receive measured civil  
> responses.  A list consisting of a sequence of highly contentious  
> remarks infused with personal insults does not invite such questions.
>
> The origin of the conceptions stated above is the original  
> conception of Science for the People.  It was radical in its  
> critique and in its actions; but it welcomed all who shared its  
> critique of the contemporary practice of science from liberals to  
> communists and anarchists.
>
> herb
>
>
>
> Michael Balter wrote:
> By the way, I would assume according to Herb's logic that it is okay  
> to post something "provocative" on this list as long as one does not  
> announce in advance that it is being posted because it is  
> provocative. That is easily done. And once done, then list members  
> have to decide whether posts that some of them consider  
> "provocative" should be banned. Fortunately, that has not been the  
> practice so far.
>
> MB
>
> On Sat, Jan 3, 2009 at 9:53 AM, Michael Balter <[log in to unmask] 
>  <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>
>    I think it would be fine to limit posts to science-related issues,
>    as long as that rule were not applied hypocritically. In general
>    on this list, so-called "off topic" posts are only objected to
>    when someone disagrees with their content (thus we see little or
>    no objection to many of Mitchel's off-topic posts about his radio
>    program, etc.) There is also the matter of defining what is off
>    topic and what is not, which not everyone here will agree on.
>
>    I also think that posting something to deliberately provoke list
>    members into thinking differently or considering a different way
>    of looking at things should be just fine. To some people, anything
>    they disagree with is considered a provocation, and that can't
>    possibly be the criterion on a serious list of scholars.
>
>    MB
>
>
>    n Sat, Jan 3, 2009 at 7:36 AM, herb fox <[log in to unmask]
>    <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>
>        Interesting Carrol.  Here i am on vacation far from my
>        library, but still willing to break this down a bit w/out
>        reference. The concerns here are two: the validity of an
>        argument and the civility of the discourse.  What, i believe
>        is inappropriate, given that we are supposed to be rational
>        scientists is to dismiss arguments not by systematically
>        countering the proposition but by (1) not addressing it at all
>        by attacking the arguer, (2) discrediting the arguer by
>        reference to the arguer's stand on other issues or even
>        similar issues, or (3) defaming the arguer.  I'll leave it to
>        you to construct the appropriate syllogisms.  Fallacy #2 is
>        quite common on this list, oftentimes from persons with whose
>        stand i agree.  All 3 however are fallacious in that they do
>        not attempt to refute the argument.  #3 is unambiguously
>        uncivil. #1 is often uncivil.  It is not fallacious to call
>        into question the validity of data from a proven questionable
>        source of data; but that cannot be the basis for resolving a
>        question unless the critic has contrary supportable data.  If
>        i recall correctly countering an argument by calling into
>        question the truthfulness or reliability of the arguer is
>        called "poisoning the well."
>
>        It is unreasonable to ask any moderator to subject every
>        submission to the rigors of proper logic.  It is, however,
>        reasonable to hold submitters to a standard of civility.  That
>        includes restraining those whose submission is entirely a
>        personal attack or who deliberately announce their role to be
>        a provocateur.  That a post of a few weeks ago referred to the
>        manner in which Venezuelan police handled a pair of Human
>        Rights investigators is inappropriate for this list to begin
>        with, not being relevant to Science and its relationship to
>        People, is not that unusual.  But that it was openly described
>        by its submitter as an attempt to provoke a response from
>        those with whom the submitter disagreed is deeply offensive
>        and destructive of the integrity of the list.  It would be
>        wonderful if this list became a forum for addressing the
>        wholesale misuse of science and technology today where we
>        could send persons who are concerned with the issue, and where
>        a reasonably sensitive and non aggressive person would feel
>        comfortable.
>
>        herb
>
>
>
>
>
>    --    ******************************************
>    Michael Balter
>    Contributing Correspondent, Science
>    Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>    Boston University
>
>    Email:           [log in to unmask]
>    <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>
>    Website:       michaelbalter.com <http://michaelbalter.com>
>
>
>    Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com
>    <http://michael-balter.blogspot.com>
>
>    ******************************************
>
>
>
>
> -- 
> ******************************************
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> Boston University
>
> Email:           [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask] 
> >
>
> Website:       michaelbalter.com <http://michaelbalter.com>
> Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com <http://michael-balter.blogspot.com 
> >
> ******************************************
>
>
>
> -- 
> ******************************************
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> Boston University
>
> Email:           [log in to unmask]
>
> Website:       michaelbalter.com
> Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com
> ******************************************