The Bankruptcy of American Science
by Daniel Amit
April 29, 2003
Editorís Note: What follows is a correspondence between an American science journal and Dr. Daniel Amit, a European physicist. The journal, Physical Review E, asked Dr. Amit to review the manuscript of a fellow scientist. Dr. Amit declined, saying he will not correspond with any American institution because he feels American and Israeli science has been corrupted for military reasons.
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2003 6:11 AM
Subject: Review_request AMIT EA8932
Dr. Daniel Amit
Univ. di Roma
Ple Aldo Moro 2
00185 Roma, ITALY
Electronic URL-Download Referral from Physical Review E†† Code: EA8932
Title: Transitions in oscillatory dynamics of two connected neurons with excitatory synapses
Received 08 January 2003
Dear Dr. Amit:
We would appreciate your review of this manuscript, which has been
submitted to Physical Review E. This message is the COMPLETE REFERRAL. No hardcopy will be sent unless requested.
From: "Daniel Amit" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Physical Review E" <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2003 6:11 PM
Subject: Re: Review_request AMIT EA8932 Roudi
I will not at this point correspond with any american institution.
Some of us have lived through 1939
From: "martin blume" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: <email@example.com>; <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: your email to the American Physical Society
Date: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 10:31 PM
Dear Dr. Amit,
We have received your email with your decision not to review a paper for us in light of American actions in the middle east. We recognize that reviewing manuscripts is a voluntary activity, one that you perform as a service to the physics community, and we thank you for your efforts.
Given the voluntary nature of your participation we of course respect your decision to cease, and have made an indication in our database so that no further papers will be sent to you for review until you inform us otherwise.
We ask, however, that you consider the following in hopes that in the not too distant future you will decide to review for us again. 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.
Dear Dr Blume, Editor in Chief
American Physical Society
Thank you for you letter of April 8. I would have liked to be able to share the honorable sentiments you express in your letter as well as your optimism in the future role of science and the scientific community. To be frank, and with much sadness and pain, after 40 years of activity and collaboration, I find very little reason for such optimism. What we are watching today, I believe, is a culmination of 10--15 years of mounting barbarism of the American culture the world over, crowned by the achievements of science and technology as a major weapon of mass destruction.
We are witnessing man hunt and wanton killing of the type and scale not seen since the raids on American Indian populations, by a superior technological power of inferior culture and values. We see no corrective force to restore the insanity, the self-righteousness and the lack of respect for human life (civilian and military) of another race.
Science cannot stay neutral, especially after it has been so cynically used in the hands of the inspectors to disarm a country and prepare it for decimation by laser guided cluster bombs. No, science of the American variety has no recourse. I, personally, cannot see myself anymore sharing a common human community with American science. Unfortunately, I also belong to a culture of a similar spiritual deviation (Israel), and which seems to be equally incorrigible.
In desperation I cannot but turn my attention to other tragic periods in which major societies, some with claims to fundamental contributions to culture and science, have deviated so far as to be relegated to ostracism and quarantine. At this point I think American society should be considered in this category. I have no illusions of power, as to the scope and prospect of my attitude. But, the minor role of my act and statement is a simple way of affirming that in the face of a growing enormity which I consider intolerable, I will exercise my own tiny act of disobedience to be able to look straight into the eyes of my grandchildren and my students and say that I did know.
PS I intend to distribute our exchange as much as possible. I authorize and pray that you do the same.