To Ferland (on Fabrinakt analogy)

Ferland Louis H. ferlandl at ERE.UMontreal.CA
Sat Dec 30 01:40:12 EST 1995

On Fri, 29 Dec 1995, Alexander Berezin wrote:

> Date: Fri, 29 Dec 1995 12:43:54 -0500 (EST)
> From: Alexander Berezin <berezin at mcmail.CIS.McMaster.CA>
> To: "Ferland Louis H." <ferlandl at>
> Cc: bioforum at
> Subject: To Ferland (on Fabrinakt analogy) 
> (old staff deleted - A.Berezin) 
> On 29 Dec 1995, Ferland Louis H. wrote:
> > Gee, Alex, now you sound like Valery Fabrikant. You scare me all the more!
> > 
> > (With apologies to non-Canadians who don't know Dr. Fabrikant's gory 
> > story. Basically, he was a Engineering professor in a Montreal University 
> > who thought the world was a rotten place and everybody else out there was 
> > trying to get him. He ended up murdering four people in his department, 
> > and is now serving a life sentence. Thanks heavens we recently and 
> > finally got a reasonable gun control law passed in this country...) 
> .......
> > Dr. Louis H. Ferland
> > Centre de Recherche, Hotel-Dieu de Montreal
> > Dept de Nutrition, Universite de Montreal
> > Phone: (514) 843-2757     FAX: (514) 843-2719
> > 
> > 
> I am leaving with others to judge how appropriate is your
> identification of CRITICISM of grantsmanship and peer review
> funding system with criminal actions of Valery Fabrikant.

I did not identify your criticism of a system you disapprove of 
with criminal action. Only V. Fabrikant's paranioa with your description 
of the said system as "largely immoral, corrupted, exploitive (sic) and 
self-propelled (?)" (both instances of which you conveniently 
deleted from this reply). Sorry for my lack of clarity. By the way, given 
that the overwhelming proportion of people fighting for grants (even 
if mostly without success, judging from the known low success rates at 
NIH/MRC, NSF/NSERC and elsewhere) DO NOT shoot at their colleagues in 
their labs and offices, do you not think that Dr. Fabrikant's paranioa 
had something to do with the rampage (as was rendered unambiguously clear 
in the court case and was even stated, I believe, in the Arthur report you 
mention below, but which link you fail to acknowledge)?

(BTW, my name is FERLAND, not FARLAND. Thank you.)

> First, no-where I advocated violence, second I am far from
> being alone in my criticism, and there were many recent articles 
> and letters by many other people (including even some 
> Nobel Prize laureates) voicing criticism similar to mine. 
> However, the point which I have to make here, largely for 
> the American readers who are unfamiliar with the Fabrikant's
> case (and which Dr. Farland failed to mention) is this:
> After the Fabrikant shooting a special Committee was 
> appointed to invesigate Fabrikant's allegations on the
> abuse of funding system. This Committee was chaired by
> former President by a major Canadian University Prof.
> Harry Arthur and included several other reputable 
> scientisits. The report this Committee has produced is 
> knowen as Arthur's Report and its essence was widely 
> reflected in the Canadian Press.
> The findings if the Report largely confirm Fabrikant's
> allegations and condemn the over-competitive and secretive
> aspects of granstmanship culture. This resulted in a 
> number of resignations of senior members (profs and
> administartion) of the Concordia Univiersity where the 
> Fabrikant tragedy happened in August 1992.
I call on Dr. Arthur to set the record straight and put the emphasis of 
the report's findings where it belongs. The committee was set up to examine 
abuse OF the funding system, as you state correctly, not abuse BY the funding 
system. Some people at Concordia failed to show they had adequately used 
their funding resources (among other things) and were forced to resign. 
This hardly condemns the whole research funding system as you say.

> Therefore, the campaign for opening-up of peer review 
> process, greater public accountability of research funding 
> and more equitable distribution of research funds is
> aimed to PREVENT re-occurence of such events as Fabrikant's
> murders. This point, I believe, Dr. Farland, has failed
> to appreciate.
Wait a minute. Murder is a criminal issue, dealt with by the judicial 
apparatus, not the research funding agencies. Personally, I 
stand by our new gun-control law (among others) rather than a complete 
restructuring of the funding system (ecpecially the kind you propose). 
Had it been in place and enforced in 1992, Dr. Fabrikant would have had a 
much harder time getting the gun in the first place. (Apologies to 
non-Canadians who may not know the EPIC details of the purchase of this 
particular gun; it was all over our newspapers and TV specials here and 
was instrumental in the elaboration of our gun control law.)

Dr. Louis H. Ferland
Centre de Recherche, Hotel-Dieu de Montreal
Dept de Nutrition, Universite de Montreal
Phone: (514) 843-2757     FAX: (514) 843-2719

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