GenBank Errors and the suppression of dissent

L.A. Moran lamoran at gpu.utcs.utoronto.ca
Mon Oct 21 14:49:22 EST 1991


Thomas Marr Ph.D. (marr at CSHL.ORG) says,

     "Furthermore, considering the tarnishing nature of his remarks on a 
      widely-read, public electronic service, I suggest that he be banned
      from further use of this service unless he has something substantive
      or even interesting to say. I think a letter should be sent to the
      Director of NIH by the GenBank staff describing this recent exchange, 
      showing her a good example of what happens when the peer review 
      process is circumvented."

I find this comment revolting and sickening. Whatever happened to academic
freedom, or in this case to simple tolerance? Has the concept of political
correctness even invaded Bionet?

I believe that we should go out of our way to encourage dissenters and those
who disagree with us. I can't imagine how science could benefit by suppressing
dissent - even impolite dissent. In my experience the GenBank staff has much
more common sense than to send a letter to the Director of NIH so we don't
need to worry about that happening. I strongly oppose ANY attempt to censure
anyone by forbiding access to Bionet. As for the peer review process, it is
my understanding that it works precisely because we are free to offer our
frank opinions about the work of our peers. If Thomas Marr was reviewing MY 
grant I would be very worried about his impartiality if he didn't like my 
ideas.

Incidently Thomas Marr Ph.D., it is clear to me that Tom had something 
substantive and (especially) interesting to say. Exactly what kinds of
postings would YOU allow? Do you think that discussions about the availability
of certain restriction enzymes or the efficiency of computer searching 
algorithms is as much substance and interest as you can handle? (-: (-:

Laurence A. Moran (Larry)
Dept. of Biochemistry
University of Toronto



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