[Air-l] Is there a stranglehold?

Dr. Steve Eskow drseskow at cox.net
Thu Sep 14 12:06:47 PDT 2006

(I have eliminated messages from this post, since the original post was too
long. SE)

-----Original Message-----
From: Dr. Steve Eskow [mailto:drseskow at cox.net] 
Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 11:31 AM
To: 'wrc at tcfir.org'; 'air-l at listserv.aoir.org'
Subject: RE: [Air-l] Air-list

Reid Cornwell's argument continues to be factually false. The scientists
Gibbons speaks of that have controlled the flow of information to the public
have been in corporate and industrial and government and military research
centers as well as in the university.  Indeed, much crucial research on
matters (for example) pertaining to health has been conducted by giant
private pharmaceutical companies who have not made this information widely
available but have held it in what might be considered a "stranglehold"
while poor people around the world perished from lack of the drugs which
research made possible.

The issue of the control of information versus its free flow is too vital to
society--and to the future of the Internet--to be conducted in the
inflammatory language of "stranglehold" and the like.

This matter of course takes us into complex issues of patents, copywright,
and the like. 

That the university has no stranglehold, de facto or otherwise,is refuted by
the research and development that led to the Internet and the World Wide
Web, and the disputes centering around control of anti-malaria drugs and
antiretrovirals needed by the poor afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

The notion that the private sector is the hero and the solution to the
world's research needs is refuted by the private sector's behaviors in such
matters as Vioxx and the other cox-2 inhibitors, and its unwillingness to
share its research findings for the benefit of those needing it--except for
a prohibitive price.

Perhaps what is needed is an anti-inflammatory to cool down the use of such
language as 'stranglehold" in an important discussion.

Steve Eskow

-----Original Message-----
From: Dr. W. Reid Cornwell [mailto:wrc at tcfir.org] 
Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 10:54 AM
To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org; drseskow at cox.net
Subject: RE: [Air-l] Air-list

I would have preferred to have this off-list but I have been accused here of
factual falsity and am compelled to respond.

-----Original Message-----
From: air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org
[mailto:air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org] On Behalf Of Dr. Steve Eskow
Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 10:16 AM
To: wrc at tcfir.org; air-l at listserv.aoir.org
Subject: Re: [Air-l] Air-list

Reid, and all,

The matter of the relations between universities and the larger society
seems critical to the future of the Internet. So: 

Reid describes Michael Gibbons' Mode 1 and Mode 2 this way:

<<In mode 1 the Universities and their social structures and customs
(praxis)have a stranglehold on the creation and dissemination of knowledge.
In mode 2 applications become a major driving force. In this scenario
practitioners in search of solutions to real world problems take on a more
important role.These practitioners are not likely to be Ph.D.s. Gibbons does
not directly say this but it is inherent in the mode 2 schema.>>

The statements in this paragraph are factually false, and distort Gibbons'

[ Reid Cornwell Wrote]  I think not. Gibbons writes, "Traditionally,
communications between science and society was essentially one way:
scientists were the holders of privileged expert knowledge, while the lay
public was to be enlightened and educated."

He continues, "The previous one-way communication process from scientific
from scientific experts to the lay public perceived to be scientific
illiterate and in need of education and in need of education by experts has
been supplanted by politically backed demands for accountability of science
and technology and new public discussions in which experts have to
communicate in a more 'vernacular' science than ever before."

On Mode 2 research Gibbons writes, "its theoretical and methodological core
is in response to problem-formulation that occur in highly specific and
local contexts of application."

I said my views were parallel not the same. My argument is that "science
equals the academy." Traditionally, the academy has, at the least, had a de
facto stranglehold.

First, and most important: the universities have never had, or claimed, or
wanted "a stranglehold on the creation and dissemination of knowledge." Had
they wanted such a "stranglehold" they have never had the power to prevent
the government, the military, the industrial research laboratory, or the
solitary explorer in his basement from researching. Indeed, a major
criticism of university research is that it has often been compromised by
its dependence on funds from these non-university sources, and that its
research agenda has often been shaped by donor interests rather than
society's needs and thus there has developed the drift to applied rather
than basic research.

[ Reid Cornwell Wrote] The accountability that Gibbons refers to is a
reaction to the pretensions of the Academy and its arrogance of customs.

Gibbons' Mode 2 is largely in effect now: "partnerships" and close
collaboration between the university research lab and the research
activities of the business, industry, the military, and government. The
trend is in this direction, and it is unlikely that it will stop. In one
view we now need another independent research effort to determine whether
the long term interests of the nation and the world are being neglected in
the pursuit of research devoted to products and processes with an immediate
profit potential. 

[ Reid Cornwell Wrote] This partnership you speak of is an unwilling, if not
unholy alliance at its best. Accountability (intellectual and financial)
means control in these partnerships. You are correct in your assessment of
the trend, but it is a self inflicted wound.

This trend and current needs for researchers seem to offer no clear signal
for our need for researchers at the Ph.D. level. Part of that answer seems
related to the question of how research attention is divided between basic
and applied research.

[ Reid Cornwell Wrote] The Internet has exposed the dense communication of
the academy and asked, "is this what we are paying for?" Keep in mind that
this thread was in the context of "Are We Producing too many Ph.D.s?", which
asserts that Mentors influence their students by counseling them that
research outside the academy is a failure in their careers. This may not be
a stranglehold in brute force terms but is certainly a stranglehold of
intellectual manipulation, speaking metaphorically.

Steve Eskow


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