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Censorship Science

Avian Flu Researcher Backs Down On Plan To Defy Publishing Ban 54

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the would-like-to-see-family-live dept.
ananyo writes "Ron Fouchier, a researcher at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, whose work on the H5N1 avian flu virus has been embroiled in controversy, has now agreed to apply for an export permit to submit his work to the journal Science. Fouchier's paper is one of two reporting the creation of forms of the H5N1 virus capable of spreading between mammals. The other, by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Tokyo, and his colleagues, has already been submitted to Nature. Fouchier had said last week that he intended to defy the government and submit the work to Science without seeking the export permit that the Dutch government says is required." In related news, renek noted that the U.S. NIH director supports publishing the papers in full.
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Avian Flu Researcher Backs Down On Plan To Defy Publishing Ban

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  • Fun! (Score:1, Offtopic)

    One of the solutions to the Fermi Paradox is there is some feature of physics that is trivially easy for a disgruntled sentient to misuse and kill everybody.

  • way to cave (Score:1, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323)

    Pansy.

    • Re:way to cave (Score:4, Informative)

      by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@NOspam.comcast.net> on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @12:39PM (#39796403)

      Yeah, it's not like variations of the flu have killed [nap.edu] more people than all of our wars combined. It's not like we have a lack of organizations that believe [bbc.co.uk] in terror or widespread murders. Heck, we don't even have any environmental radicals that just might look at a world wide population reduction [utexas.edu] as the best possible [seashepherd.org] thing that could happen to the environment. Nope, no reason at all to be concerned about this....

      • by bky1701 (979071)
        So scientific research potentially dangerous is OK to be censored? Oh boy, that is going to set back chemistry a bit.
        • by onyxruby (118189)

          That isn't what I said or implied, your argument is completely off base. I talked about a very specific danger, one that has a track record of killing more people than anything short of communism. This also happens to have a fairly low barrier of entry compared to conventional weapons of mass destruction. Biological warfare in WWII killed far more people than the atomic bombs ever did.

          I'm not aware of anything in Chemistry that would allow something to propagate on it's own and kill people by the millions.

          • by bky1701 (979071)
            They'll certainly be helpless if we start censoring and preventing research on it and, potentially, other forms of virology. Hell, you seem to be advocating no research be done UNTIL there has been an outbreak, with your little "their have been biological out breaks from secured environments". If that's your concern (not that bad people repeat the experiment), then you're not complaining about the same thing. You're complaining the science was done. That's even sadder than complaining about it being publish
            • by onyxruby (118189)

              I have advocated for years in support of scientific research and my comments consistently show that position. Are you aware of what the research paper contains? If this was a stock issue research report there never would have been controversy to begin with. Research into dangerous things has been done for decades and it is necessary. The controversy in this case was whether or not it was appropriate to publish to the public at large. The issue was serious enough the government accepted that this needed a hi

  • 1. pandemia
    2. ???
    3. profit!

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:29AM (#39795337) Homepage Journal

    There's a guy who's in charge of a department devoted to grumbling that things were "not invented here"?

    I wonder where that dumb idea came from.

  • With each new advance come new powers; with new powers, the ability to commit evils.

    When humankind invented the axe, murder got a lot easier.

    With the computer, hacking.

    With home DNA synthesis, biological warfare.

    When we get nuclear reactors for the home, all sorts of bad stuff can be done.

    Do we retreat from technology just because there are going to be evils?

    Or accept that we're going to take some casualties and move forward?

  • by LambdaWolf (1561517) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:38AM (#39795467)
    I love the way that headline is phrased. So he's not deciding not to follow the rule about not publishing, eh?
  • by pla (258480) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:40AM (#39795503) Journal
    So "the truth" now requires an export permit before we dare speak of it in public?

    Well and truly fucked, the lot of us.
  • Science is now dead.

    All science and engineering have "dual uses" - good and evil. Basic science more than anything, because it's done without any practical goals in mind - that's figured out later and we call it the applied sciences.

    When a government says you can't publish because "someone might use it for bad things" that means you can't publish anything at all. It doesn't matter. A design for a new kind of architectural brick cannot be published because someone might make one and bash someone's head in

    • by Twinbee (767046)
      Could you try to think of an evil use for say, aerogel (or the research therefore), a material which if could be massively manufactured cheaply, could have incredibly ramifications for humanity, and mostly only positive ones at that.
      • by bmo (77928)

        Evil use of aerogel: Someone could probably be asphyxiated with it. Wow, that was hard.

        >cheap aerogel

        If only. It would revolutionize the home insulation industry.

        --
        BMO

        • by Twinbee (767046)
          Something called 'Starlite' very almost did that. Unfortunately, the guy behind it was a bit paranoid (and almost made million/billion dollar deals with big companies, but he wanted a 51% share and more control than they were willing to offer). Hoax you say?

          Except it has been tested and verified countless times independently. Here's a clip from an old Tomorrow's World (a reputable science prog from the BBC):
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4nnLP--uTI [youtube.com]

          Here's more info:
          http://www.reddit.com/r/science/c [reddit.com]
          • by geekoid (135745)

            I came to the conclusion in the 80's that it's either a Hoax, or they has decided no one gets any no matter what. Since his reasons for not selling it or licensing it changes, I strongly suspect hoax.
            Patent it, sell the patent. Even if a company sits on it, 20 years latter everyone will be able to get it.
            So instead we have had decades with out it?

            Hell, go on 'Shark' and get an investor. There are tones of investors that he could get for less then 51% and then manufacture it himself.

            It makes no sense at all.

    • by allonoak (1800750)

      When a government says you can't publish because "someone might use it for bad things" that means you can't publish anything at all. It doesn't matter. A design for a new kind of architectural brick cannot be published because someone might make one and bash someone's head in.

      This is different. You're talking about not just harming one or two people, you're talking about working with a virus that could possibly kill 1/10th of the world's population. From an excessive point of view: If someone developed a way to make a nuclear bomb out of superglue and rubber bands, you think they should publish that, too? The results: -No more superglue and rubber bands. and/or -A whole lot of nuclear weapons. Those are the two options.

      • by bmo (77928)

        >From an excessive point of view: If someone developed a way to make a nuclear bomb out of superglue and rubber bands, you think they should publish that, too?

        Your argument is based upon the assumption that weaponizing a virus is as simple and easy as manufacturing a nuclear bomb from superglue and rubber bands.

        Even if you have the equipment, you need the education and training to figure out how to do bioweapons research and take this paper and somehow translate it into something practical. Your assumpt

        • by allonoak (1800750)
          My argument was intentionally excessive. In general, the people who will read the article and understand it in the first place are those that have some experience in the field already, though probably a few who don't. The point is that if it can be weaponized, we at least have to think twice about it before throwing the information out there.
          • by bmo (77928)

            >The point is that if it can be weaponized, we at least have to think twice about it before throwing the information out there.

            But here's the thing.

            The only people *capable* of weaponizing this are in the industry and academia. And these are the people who are going to get access *anyway.*

            How does Joe "I set my undies alight and it hurt" Terrorist even comprehend the fucking abstract?

            Your argument stems from the entire assumption that this is cheap and easy. It's not. It likely never will be, because

  • Ron is from the same "venture" that convinced the Dutch government to make the tax payers invest millions and millions in useless vaccines. And now somehow they still feel they don't need to be held accountable by the Dutch government. I trust him as far as I can throw him. And I promise I'll make a real good effort....
  • Too much sophistry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by adamchou (993073)

    I'm all for freedom of information. But in this instance, what reason do we have to release it to people that aren't working at research labs? Why would the hobbyist need access to this? I agree, we need to release this to researchers so we can develop a vaccine. But can a person who's not working at a serious research facility develop a vaccine before the eco-terrorist with basic biology skills develop a weaponized form of the virus? I'm not an SME on the field, but I'd bet that the answer is no.

    And for a

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm all for freedom of information. But...

      That says everything about you right there.

    • You approach some fuzzy line when you start to tag the research labs as legigimate or ilegitimate, and crossing it will have very bad consequences. Let's all hope the involved government(s) have enough self control to not kill the development of medicine within their borders, or even worse, steer it in a bad way.

    • by nbauman (624611)

      There was an article in Science magazine about why the same U.S. government agency that wanted to withhold the data talked it over and decided that it wouldn't work.

      For one thing, it was impossible to make up a list of "legitimate" research facilities and "non-legitimate" research facilities.

      On the other side, the "select agents" regulations already threw the field of infectious diseases into an uproar. Foreign graduate students couldn't work on them. One accomplished infectious disease scientist went to ja

  • Good. Some people live like there is no reality and no actors out there but the one they live in and the ones they have lunch with. Glad to see they finally GTFU.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Now it can sit in the back ground until a research who is a bad actor decides to whip some up.
      Better to release the info, and make it a priority on vaccine research.

      You can't control it from the people who would use it because they have researchers as well.

      And if we study it now, if Mother nature tosses it at us, or something similar, we will be prepared.

      • It's not black and white like that. It's not "everyone knows or no one can look". It's controlling who looks. Yes that is not democratic and will not lead to the optimum results if your ONLY goal is to study it for defensive purposes- against Mother Nature or terrorists .

        But that can't be your only goal. Your goal has to be to minimize the likelihood that terrorists will use it in the first place, or learn from it and do something just as vile against which we have no immediate defense.

        So we have an opt

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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