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This is a neuroscience newsgroup!!!

Matt Jones jonesmat at ohsu.edu
Thu Feb 18 13:50:37 EST 1999

In article <7ah4qe$agm$1 at denws02.mw.mediaone.net> Richard Norman,
rsnorman at mw.mediaone.net writes:
>If you are taking a poll -- stick to strict neuroscience, broadly
>defined to include physiology, biology, behavior, neurology,
>biochemistry etc.  as long as it is real science.  E. Modestino
>was exactly right.
>Jason Ebaugh wrote in message <7ag6kl$k83$1 at news1.tc.umn.edu>...
>>What does the group think of posts that are definitly related to
>>neuro-biology but not so much neuroscience in a strict chemical,
>>synapse, curciuts kind of way. I mean specificaly the threqads on
>>non-human empathy and dolphin intelligence. They have been some of
>>most active threads on this group.

Well, annoyed as I perpetually get at some of the incorrigible nonsense
spouters here, I say we shouldn't limit the scope of discussion on this
group too much. There are plenty of "softer" issues that are very
relevant to neuroscience, and we shouldn't turn a blind eye to these
things. For example, the non-human empathy thread, although a little
rambling, is quite relevant to the policy decisions about the use of
animals in research that is still just heating up in Europe and North
America [e.g., see the editorial entitled "Science and Terrorism in
Europe" (Nature Neurosci. 2:99-100) about animal rights policy and
terrorism, or see the article on p. 767 of Science 283].  To ignore
issues surrounding policy decisions that affect  how neuroscience is done
is a BAD IDEA. To exclude those issues from our open discussion (even if
that discussion may get a little absurd at times) is begging for trouble
all the way around. If anything, we neuroscientists should have talked
these issues through amongst ourselves, and should each have some idea of
what we think about them, even if we don't all agree (ideally, we won't).
Where is this sort of dialogue going to occur if not here? How many of us
attend the policy forums at professional meetings? Not me. Yeccchh. Other
examples are the perennial mind/brain debates, and the machine
intelligence debates. These certainly contain enough neuroscience-related
issues to interest me, and I'd like to see them continue here. 

I think this should be an open forum, and practically any subject with
even a passing relation to "neuroscience" (whatever that is) should be

Finally, I think the responsibility for all these off topic annoyances
lies squarely at the feet of those who should know better, but respond to
the nonsensical or inflammatory posts anyway.  Mr. Modestino responds
over and over again to someone he obviously thinks is a crackpot
("psychotic" is the word I believe he uses). Five out of fourteen posts
in the "dabbles in genetics" thread are his so far. He has also posted
queries about aspartame (a subject which many of us remember clogging
this group almost to the point of extinction a while back). And now, he
tells us all in a rather pushy tone what is acceptable and not acceptable
for discussion on a Usenet group. This kind of behaviour does not help to
reduce bandwidth, or to keep us focused (if that is in fact what we

Matt Jones

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