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Pseudoscience and Scientific Press

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"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."

--A. J. Liebling, writer (1904 - 1963)

Truth is the most precious thing. That's why we should ration it.

Vladimir Lenin

"The truth is that the newspaper is not a place for information to be given,
 rather it is just hollow content, or more than that, a provoker of content."

Karl Kraus, 1914

XXI century can probably be called "the age of disinformation", although the process started long ago with the first totalitarian regimes in Russia, Italy and Germany. This process definitely affected science and engineering. The level of disinformation is highly dependent on the importance of the event and generally reaches maximum in war coverage ("Truth is the first casualty of war"). 

It is also more pronounced in such disciplines as economics were political pressure interfere with the search for truth. Famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith in  his latest book The Economics of Innocent Fraud  noted that  politicians and the media colluded in propagation   of  'the myths of a benign "market" that big business always knows best, that minimal intervention stimulates the economy, that obscene pay gaps and unrestrained self-enrichment are an inevitable by-product of the system'. 

There are three major cases:

The situation with the mainstream media already reached extremes that are well captured by the popular show slogan "fake news, real times" and is perfectly applicable to all cable TV. In case of important events nobody with IQ to speak about now generally expects the government to tell the truth rather than to resort to propaganda.  But some people naively expect honest coverage from the mainstream media in less important cases.  They do not understanding that if powerful interests are involved, then trying to tell the truth is a direct threat to the employment (and in some countries even life) of individual journalists; in the case of the broadcasters can lead to direct or subtle forms of economic retribution.  That means that loyalty to one's boss overwhelmingly took precedent over personal honesty and integrity. Also journalists especially in national capitals are regularly bribed by the establishment. Some of them are connected with the establishment by marital and other ties.

 Here are some relevant quotes:

And while Internet is the last bastion of democracy, it is extremely important to be aware of the nature of the Internet. Information exists on the Net outside of existing scholarly structures. Sometimes respectable Internet sites are using all the dirty  tricks of  of yellow press journalism. See Open Directory - Science Social Sciences Psychology Persuasion and Social Influence.

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Old News ;-)

[Jul 11, 2009] A Ruritania of the Mind by Jeremy Allison

June 22, 2009

I gave up on the mainstream media in 2002-2003, in the run up to the Iraq war. Every single channel in the USA was selling the prospect of war like a product, a new soap powder. I tried to find coverage of the over one million person protest march in London that I'd heard about via email, and it was barely mentioned. The last straw came when I got so angry I nearly threw a chair through my brand new plasma TV, which would have been an expensive outburst, but that's what you get for watching Fox News for longer than it takes to flip through the channels on the remote.

I moved to the Internet to get my news coverage, and I've never looked back. Yes I'm seeing some of the same US-centric reports, but you can easily balance them by looking at the viewpoint on events from world wide media coverage.

[Jan 24, 2005] The New York Times Opinion Op-Ed Quartet A Columnist's Farewell How to Read a Column By WILLIAM SAFIRE

... ... ...

4. When infuriated by an outrageous column, do not be suckered into responding with an abusive e-mail. Pundits so targeted thumb through these red-faced electronic missives with delight, saying "Hah! Got to 'em."

5. Don't fall for the "snapper" device. To give an aimless harangue the illusion of shapeliness, some of us begin (forget "lede") with a historical allusion or revealing anecdote, then wander around for 600 words before concluding by harking back to an event or quotation in the opening graph. This stylistic circularity gives the reader a snappy sense of completion when the pundit has not figured out his argument's conclusion.

... ... ...

7. Watch for repayment of favors. Stewart Alsop jocularly advised a novice columnist: "Never compromise your journalistic integrity - except for a revealing anecdote." Example: a Nixon speechwriter told columnists that the president, at Camp David, boasted "I just shot 120," to which Henry Kissinger said brightly "Your golf game is improving, Mr. President," causing Nixon to growl "I was bowling, Henry." After columnists gobbled that up, the manipulative writer collected in the coin of friendlier treatment.

... ... ...

9. Cherchez la source. Ingest no column (or opinionated reporting labeled "analysis") without asking: Cui bono? And whenever you see the word "respected" in front of a name, narrow your eyes. You have never read "According to the disrespected (whomever)."

10. Resist swaydo-intellectual writing. Only the hifalutin trap themselves into "whomever" and only the tort bar uses the Latin for "who benefits?" Columnists who show off should surely shove off. (And avoid all asinine alliteration.)

... ... ...

12. Scorn personal exchanges between columnists. Observers presuming to be participants in debate remove the reader from the reality of controversy; theirs is merely a photo of a painting of a statue, or a towel-throwing contest between fight managers. Insist on columns taking on only the truly powerful, and then only kicking 'em when they're up.

In bidding Catullus's ave atque vale to readers of this progenitor of all op-ed pages (see rule 10), is it fair for one who has enjoyed its freedom for three decades to spill its secrets? Of course it's unfair to reveal the Code. But punditry is as vibrant as political life itself, and as J.F.K. said, "life is unfair." (Rules 1 and 5.)

Economics of open source hijacking The economics of open source hijacking and the declining quality of digital information resources: A case for copyleft by Andrea Ciffolilli

The economics of information goods suggest the need for institutional intervention to address the problem of revenue extraction from investments in those resources characterized by high fixed costs of production and low marginal costs of reproduction and distribution. Solutions to the appropriation issue, such as copyright, are supposed to guarantee an incentive for innovative activities at the price of few vices marring their rationale. In the case of digital information resources, apart from conventional inefficiencies, copyright shows an extra vice since it might be used perversely as a tool to "hijack" and privatise collectively provided open source and open content knowledge assemblages, even in the case in which the original information was not otherwise copyrightable. Whilst the impact of hijacking on open source software development may be uncertain or uneven, some risks are clear in the case of open content works. The paper presents some evidence of malicious effects of hijacking in the Internet search market by discussing the case of The Open Directory Project. Furthermore, it calls for a wider use of novel institutional remedies such as copyleft and Creative Commons licensing, built upon the paradigm of copyright customisation.

... ... ...

Free–riding of information does not imply depletion; hijacking is different since it means taking possession of and fencing otherwise freely accessible resources. Hence, hijacking translates in exhaustion with respect to all the individuals and bodies orphaned by the new unwarranted access barrier.

Although open source software endeavours can be definitely hijacked, there is no agreement on the fact that this necessarily constitutes a damaging circumstance. The diffused and rational worry is that the proprietary strategy to copyright a collective produced public good may "hold up" developers that lose the ability to customize a project to their needs (Lerner and Tirole, 2003).

... ... ...

Despite these downfalls, the Open Directory Project database constitutes a massive and valuable resource, regularly exploited by commercial search engines and directories [12]. Google and AOL (which owns Netscape) are usual "shoppers" and even Yahoo! uses DMOZ data to enhance its relevant search results [13]. All this would not be a big deal, if the search engine market was not going through serious and important changes.

In general, Web directories are dropping behind search engines. The latter automatically crawl the Internet and record sites found on the basis of certain search algorithms that, at first glance, seems to guarantee better results, either in terms of the reach or the quality of the searched information.

The number of search engines has reduced substantially over the last few years, probably to an extent as a consequence of the new economy crisis that opened the millennium. In general, there is less advertising funds keeping them afloat (Vaughan, 2003). For instance, Open Text started in 1995 and terminated its Web search services in 1997; both Magellan and Infoseek, born in 1995, closed in early 2001; Snap ended its internal search technology in 2001, after four years of activity; Direct Hit was born in 1998 and deceased in 2002. Some very popular engines such as WebCrawler, Lycos, Excite and HotBot started outsourcing search technology (Sullivan, 2003). Others, such as AltaVista, have been acquired and even if they did not disappear completely, they eventually lost their appeal and their market share.

[Jan 23, 2005] Chicago Sun Times: Reporting isn't what it used to be by WILLIAM O'ROURKE

Actual journalists are supposed to display impartiality, a 1950s Sgt. Joe Friday's "Just the Facts" stance. But such impartiality has long been a myth -- bias comes with the territory and H. L. Mencken's old line, ''Freedom of press is limited to those who own one,'' is controlling and omnipresent.

... ... ...

On the other hand, Williams is a case study for a more modern, troubling development: Unlike ''60 Minutes,'' the apotheosis of old journalism, TV style, Williams is a poster boy for the new entrepreneurial ''journalists,'' individuals whose background is politics and flackery and who trade access for legitimacy.

Williams emerges from this fertile breeding ground. He worked in Strom Thurmond's Senate office. Television has an excess of these personalities, from Tim Russert at NBC to any number of people at Fox News. They labor in congressional staff positions or as campaign operatives, and then become dispensers of deep thought (such as ABC's George Stephanopoulos) on the national airwaves.

Williams, who pleads all sorts of convincing ignorance of journalistic ethics, came to prominence as a supporter of Clarence Thomas, during Thomas' contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Williams then reaped the benefits of that exposure and with help became a successful conservative black commentator. The recent revelation that the Department of Education paid him nearly $250,000 to speak well of the No Child Left Behind Act is not so much a scandal, but yet another revelation of hitherto secret backstage shenanigans.

The White House knows PR and advertising and how to package falsehoods and shoddy goods. Its mastery of those ethically challenged crafts -- with the aid of pseudo-journalists like Williams -- brought us the Iraq war and is attempting to sell the privatization of Social Security.

... ... ...

[Oct 14, 2004] Tamotsu Shibutani Obit

On August 8, 2004, Tamotsu (Tom) Shibutani died quietly in his sleep from heart failure at age 83. Tom wrote several very influential books and his contributions to sociology are immeasurable. Although his intellect was impressive, he was a humble man, giving unstintingly to others while assiduously avoiding the limelight. We have lost one of sociology's stellar contributors.

Tom was born in Stockton, California, in 1920, as the only child of two first-generation Japanese immigrants. For many, the American Dream is for children of immigrants to take advantage of a free public education and reach positions of respectability, and Tom did. He entered Stockton Junior College at age 18, where he was deeply impressed with John Dewey's work, and he became a pragmatist for the rest of his life. At the age of 20, Tom transferred to the University of California at Berkeley, where he further broadened his intellectual horizons. As Tom finished his undergraduate degree, W.I. Thomas and Dorothy Thomas (his mentors) encouraged him to enter graduate school at the University of Chicago, where he found Louis Wirth's courses to be especially impressive, along with courses from Everett Hughes, Herbert Blumer, and others.

During World War II, Tom spent two years in the Army, and then continued his education at Chicago on the GI Bill. (Later we wrote The Derelicts of Company K [1978] to reveal the absurdities he experienced during the war.) He earned his Ph.D. in 1948 and was given an instructorship at the University of Chicago. In 1951, Tom moved to the University of California at Berkeley and began to synthesize many of the ideas he had been developing for years. His famous first book, Society and Personality (1961) became a major success and was translated into Russian and Spanish. The book presents a conceptual scheme developed from the work of Dewey, Mead, and the Chicago School.

In 1961, Tom came to the University of California at Santa Barbara and began working with Kian M. Kwan on ethnic relationships. Together they published Ethnic Stratification in 1965, presenting a theory based on data drawn from around the world, covering 5000 years of history. Extensive data support their conclusion that most ethnic groups that initially experience hostility eventually learn to live with each other over time.

Tom's next book, Improvised News: A Sociological Study of Rumor (1966), demonstrated that rumors are not merely the result of faulty communication. In ambiguous situations, people often respond like pragmatic problem-solvers, pooling their intellectual resources-which include accurate data, guesses, beliefs, speculation-constructing consensus from whatever sources that are available. Since much of life is filled with ambiguity, this book is of much greater importance than is suggested by describing it as a study of rumor. Many of the most crucial personal, group, governmental and international decisions have to be made with inexact information. The increasingly rapid pace of social and environmental change necessitates increasingly rapid decision making amidst a flood of information, making the study of collective information processing in ambiguous situations critical.

Social Processes (1986) reflects the sophistication of a maturing scholar in synthesizing macro and micro theoretical perspectives. This book blends Tom's expertise in social psychology with observations about whole social systems to generate empirically testable propositions for solving many problems of current social interest.

In 1984 Tom was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 1998 he was honored with the George Herbert Mead Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.

Tom loved grappling with ideas and writing, saying of his own work: "The pragmatic search for answers to questions is not always an orderly process. Side projects have frequently intruded that disrupted current projects. Some of these looked like they could be handled in several months or a year; but took five or ten or fifteen years to complete." This is why Tom has a succession of different books on disparate subjects and different areas of specialization. When asked why he has written few articles, he replied: "The books say it all."

Tom is survived by his wife, Sandra, along with countless friends, colleagues and former students. He is greatly missed for his wise and caring ways, which leave wonderful memories for all of us who knew him.

Problems with CAM Peer-Review and Accreditation

Listing in the Index Medicus is a favorable sign but does not guarantee quality -- particularly with information about "complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)." In recent years, several "CAM" journals that mimic the form but lack the substance of good science have been accepted for listing. As a result, Medline searches on "CAM" topics often yield untrustworthy citations. In addition, respectable journals have done a remarkably poor job of screening out low-quality "CAM" manuscripts [7-9]. The British Medical Journal and the Annals of Internal Medicine have done an especially poor job in keeping out junk "CAM" reports. I suspect that this occurs because editors are not suspicious enough and most peer reviewers -- even for prominent journals -- do not know the subject matter well enough to spot the misleading statements, faked data, or improper statistical manipulation used by "CAM" proponents. As a result, physicians everywhere been receiving a steady stream of misleading reports. Unscientific teachings are also percolating through medical schools. Although the AMA Council on Scientific Affairs has urged that "courses offered by medical schools on alternative medicine should present the scientific view of unconventional theories, treatments, and practice as well as the potential therapeutic utility, safety, and efficacy of these modalities" [10], pressure by proponents and the lure of grant money have led to the creation of courses, departments, and clinics that promote unscientific methods.

Similar problems exist with the continuing medical education (CME) system in the United States. Most courses doctors take after graduating from medical school are "regulated" by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), which provides voluntary accreditation to about 2,500 CME providers. CME accreditation has great practical importance because (a) many professional groups, hospitals, insurance programs, and licensing agencies (in some states) require CME participation; and (b) accreditation often influences how many people will take the course.

ACCME regulations state that all courses must be based on scientific principles:

  1. All the recommendations involving clinical medicine in a CME activity must be based on evidence that is accepted within the profession of medicine as adequate justification for their indications and contraindications in the care of patients.
  2. All scientific research referred to, reported or used in CME in support or justification of a patient care recommendation must conform to the generally accepted standards of experimental design, data collection and analysis.
  3. Providers are not eligible for ACCME accreditation or reaccreditation if they present activities that promote recommendations, treatment or manners of practicing medicine that are not within the definition of CME, or known to have risks or dangers that outweigh the benefits or known to be ineffective in the treatment of patients [11].

Unfortunately, ACCME and many of its accredited providers have failed to prevent nonsensical courses from being accredited. I and a few of my colleagues have complained to ACCME about various organizations and programs that promote quackery. (Some quacky groups even hold provider status that enables them to accredit their own programs.) We have also met with ACCME's exective officer (Murray Kopelow, M.D.) to discuss efficient procedures for preventing quackery-promoting organizations and courses from being approved. So far, we have seen no evidence that he is interested in solving the obvious problems.

USOE recognition is supposed to mean that an accrediting agency is "a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered." However, the criteria are primarily organizational. To achieve recognition, the agency must be national or regional in scope and must have appropriate bylaws, procedures, institutional and public representation, "reliability," and autonomy. Individual schools, in turn, must meet criteria set by the recognized agency. The criteria do not include scientific validity. Although much of what is taught in chiropractic, naturopathic, acupuncture, and massage schools is questionable, agencies for each have been recognized. In 2001, an astrology school was accredited.


  1. Relman AS. Peer review in scientific journals: What good is it? Western Journal of Medicine 153:520-522; 1990.
  2. Kronick DA. Peer review in 18th-century scientific journalism. Journal of the American Medical Association 263:1321-1322, 1990.
  3. Lundberg GD. Medscape General Medicine: Launch of a new journal and invitation to authors and readers. Medscape General Medicine, April 9, 1999.
  4. Lundberg GD and others. Medscape General Medicine: The next steps in an ongoing experiment in medical publishing. Medscape General Medicine, Oct 31, 2002.
  5. Lundberg GD. Thanks to the peer reviewers of Medscape General Medicine -- April 1999 through October 2002. Medscape General Medicine, Dec 13, 2002.
  6. Sampson W. On the National Institute of Drug Abuse Consensus Conference on Acupuncture. Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine 2(1):54-55, 1998.
  7. Gorski TN. The Eisenberg data: Flawed and deceptive. Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine Fall/Winter 1999.
  8. Barrett S. Remote prayer report misrepresented its data. Consumer Health Digest, Nov 19, 2002.
  9. Sampson W, London W. Analysis of homeopathic treatment of childhood diarrhea. Pediatrics 96:961-964, 1995. (Debunks previously published article)
  10. Alternative medicine: Report 12 of the AMA Council on Scientific Affairs (A-97), June 1997.
  11. ACCME's Accreditation Policy Compendium, section 2002-B-09, revised Oct 11, 2002.

Case for an International Medical Scientific Press Council... [Peer review, July 13 JAMA. 1994;272: 166-167] (c) AMA 1996

Douglas G. Altman; Iain Chalmers, MSc; Andrew Herxheimer, FRCP

Serious abuse of editorial power is rarely publicized, but evidence that it occurs is accumulating. Authors who believe that they have been dealt with unfairly have little possibility of a hearing of their complaint, and cases cannot easily be publicized because of fears of legal action. We describe briefly three cases in which the alleged misdeeds indicate that there were legitimate questions that needed answers. In the first case, an editor republished a previously published article without the authors' permission (but stated the opposite), attacked it in an accompanying editorial, and then denied the authors the right of reply. The other cases concerned a commissioned review article that was plagiarized and an editor with an undisclosed vested interest. An appeal process is needed for authors who think that they are victims of editorial abuse of power. We suggest that the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors turn its attention to editorial misconduct and explore possible procedures for allowing authors' grievances to be heard and for possible sanctions if complaints are upheld. An International Medical Scientific Press Council might be established to produce a code of conduct for editors and a corresponding taxonomy of inappropriate editorial behavior.

(JAMA. 1994;272:166-167)

THE PRESSURES on medical researchers to publish and the consequent lapses of scientific standards have become well documented in recent years, most recently by Lock and Wells.[1] Much less often discussed are failures by editors (and reviewers) to behave honestly and honorably toward authors. Dewey[2] recently raised several important issues in his review of problems encountered by authors when dealing with journals. Most of his examples relate to inefficiency or poor procedures, such as making extensive changes to a manuscript after acceptance but not showing the changes to the author until the proof stage. Others are more serious, such as rejecting a manuscript after acceptance (perhaps because of a change of editor) or after all the conditions of a conditional acceptance have been met and abuse of power when the editor is also an author. Refusal to allow authors the right of reply when a journal has published correspondence criticizing their article is another occasional difficulty. Unethical editorial practices also occur, but they have rarely been described. In this article, we consider the published evidence and give brief details of three cases in which misconduct may have occurred. Against this background we then consider how aggrieved authors might seek redress.


Previously Publicized Cases

Rennie[3] summarized the infamous case of Sir Cyril Burt, who used his position as editor to publish many of his own research papers (some allegedly containing fictitious data and with nonexistent coauthors), altered the text of other authors' manuscripts without their agreement, and published letters to the editor that he had written himself under false names to attack a rival.

Another publicized case concerned the guest editor of a special conference issue of a journal. The editor included within the special issue one of his own manuscripts that was not sent for peer review (unlike all the other manuscripts), was not appropriate to the content of the journal, and had not even been presented at the meeting.

We are not aware of other published cases of editorial misconduct, although the concept has been briefly discussed before[3] [4]

Additional Cases

We know of three additional cases of apparent editorial impropriety. We do not seek to establish here that there was misconduct, only that there was clear evidence suggestive of possible misconduct. Reluctantly, we have had to comply with legal advice not to give full details of any of these cases. However, we give brief descriptions of the main allegations. (We note that none of us was an author of any of these articles.)

Case 1.--An editor republished in full an article that had previously appeared in another journal. Although this was stated to be with the authors' permission, the authors had not in fact been consulted. Publication was accompanied by a hostile editorial attacking the article. The authors were originally refused the right of reply to this editorial. When we tried to publish an account of the case, the editor gave a misleading account of events to try to dissuade another editor from publishing our manuscript.

Case 2.--A scientist was invited by an editor to write a review article. He submitted the manuscript and received a letter of thanks and, a while later, the proofs (returned by courier, as requested), but his review was not published. About 6 months later he noticed in Current Contents, an indexing publication, that an article with the same title had been published in the same journal. When he read it he realized that the authors must have seen his own article. Most of the introduction and much of the following text was identical or almost identical to the text of his own manuscript. The author received no reply, let alone an explanation, from the editor.

Case 3.--A manuscript describing a randomized controlled trial comparing two active drugs and placebo was submitted to a journal. This manuscript reported serious adverse effects of one of the drugs. Unknown to the authors, the editor of the journal to which the manuscript had originally been submitted was a paid consultant of the manufacturers of the drug. The editor sent the manuscript to several reviewers including at least one who was employed by the pharmaceutical company in question. While we do not argue against the use of industry reviewers in general, in this case the use of one or more reviewers with the same vested interest as the editor could only decrease the possibility of the manuscript's being assessed fairly even when, as in this case, it was also sent to several other referees. The manuscript was rejected and was not published until 2 years later in a much less prominent journal.


In recent years, author misconduct has rightly received considerable publicity. By contrast, editorial misconduct seems to have been almost totally neglected. Some aspects of editorial behavior fall into the category of inefficiency or unfairness rather than dishonesty--Dewey[2] discussed several examples. A more important difficulty arises when an editor is also an author. Although Dewey[2] suggested that journals should publicize their policy for dealing with this case, Rennie[3] felt that there are compelling reasons why an editor should not publish research in his or her own journal if he or she made the decision about that research. Our main focus in this article, however, is not editorial inefficiency or unfairness. It is actual dishonesty by editors toward authors--misdeeds that would violate an editorial code of conduct if one existed.

The cases of clear or possible editorial misconduct of which we are aware fall into three main categories--dishonesty, favoritism/victimization, and conflict of interest. The last of these categories is one of the few aspects of misconduct that has received any attention. The target group here has largely been authors and reviewers, although the statement by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors[5] does extend to conflict of interest for editors.

Reluctance to Publicize Misdeeds

As was initially the case with attempts to raise consciousness about fraud by authors, it is tempting to suggest that the few publicized cases are the only ones and that there is no real problem. Because of the secrecy inherent in the editorial aspects of scientific publishing and fears of litigation, incidents such as the ones we have described herein are unlikely to be publicized. We simply do not know either the frequency or scope of unacceptable editorial behavior. Regardless of its true prevalence, it is clear from informal discussions that many researchers believe that they have been victims of unethical behavior by editors. There is currently no outlet for complaints against perceived editorial abuse of power, and it is also extremely difficult to publish details of particular cases. We have full documentation of case 1, but have failed in our attempts to publish a full account of it. Not surprisingly, the journal with the ex-editor whom we were accusing of misconduct was not interested. Two other journals that had been involved in the case to some degree suggested that their readers "would not be interested in the behavior of an editor of a journal with which they are not familiar." Two more journals that had not been involved did not see why they should publish the story. One journal never responded to our submission. We believe that at least two of these six journals were concerned about the legal implications of the allegations in our manuscript. Although convinced of the importance of publicizing such episodes--not to be vindictive but to heighten awareness of the phenomenon of editorial abuse of power--we eventually abandoned our attempts to do so.

What Can Be Done?

Editors were at first reluctant to face the issue of scientific fraud by authors, so it is not surprising that they are unwilling to publicize failings of their editorial colleagues. That said, editors have valid concerns about the legal implications, and it is undeniable that they have no responsibility to publish such allegations. We wanted to give fuller details of the cases summarized herein but had to accept legal advice against doing so.

We suggest, therefore, that the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors should consider editorial misconduct and investigate possible procedures for allowing authors' grievances to be heard. In particular, an International Scientific Press Council might be created[6] (or perhaps a Medical Scientific Press Council). It would be useful for such a council to produce a code of conduct for editors and a corresponding taxonomy of inappropriate editorial behavior.

We would hope that journals would sign an agreement to abide by a prespecified investigation procedure. The nonparticipation by journals in this system would then be a matter of public record. Likewise, if a journal signed the agreement and then failed to comply with the agreed procedures, this too would become public knowledge. We would hope that a consequence of this system would be greater accountability of editors. As with other potentially contentious issues, there should be considerable advantages in journals having considered the issue before any case arose.

What should happen if a complaint against an editor is upheld? Clearly the appropriate outcome would depend on the seriousness of the offense. The first requirement would be to publish the judgment and rectify the offense, if this is possible. Other possibilities include the wider publication of the council's ruling, perhaps in a publication such as the bulletins of the European Association of Science Editors or the Council of Biology Editors or in a leading scientific journal (based on a rotation system) or both. When the journal is run by or for a professional society, the editor has a clear additional responsibility to that society. Therefore, another route for complaints to be aired is via the publications or journals committee of the society, but probably few societies have a specific mechanism for dealing with such cases. Nearly all journals have editorial boards, however, and we imagine that members might not be too keen on maintaining their contacts with an editor who has been acting unethically.

Finally, we emphasize that we are not suggesting that such a council would act in a policing role. Rather it would act as an appellate organization existing to set appropriate standards and determine if these standards had been breached.

From the Medical Statistics Laboratory, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London (Mr Altman), and the Cochrane Centre, National Health Service Research and Development Programme, Oxford (Drs Chalmers and Herxheimer), England.

Presented in part at the Second International Congress on Peer Review in Biomedical Publication, Chicago, Ill, September 11, 1993.

We gratefully thank the authors of the manuscripts for providing details of cases 1 through 3.

Reprint requests to Medical Statistics Laboratory, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, PO Box 123, 61 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, England WC2A 3PX (Mr Altman).


1. Lock S, Wells F, eds. Fraud and Misconduct in Scientific Research. London, England: British Medical Association; 1993.

2. Dewey M. Authors have rights too. BMJ. 1993;306:318-320.

3. Rennie D. Problems in peer review and fraud: cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt. In: Balancing Act: Essays to Honour Stephen Lock. London, England: Keynes Press; 1991:9-19.

4. LaFollette MC. Stealing Into Print. Berkeley: University of California Press; 1992.

5. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Conflict of interest. Lancet. 1993;341:742-743.

6. Herxheimer A. Make scientific journals more responsive and responsible. Scientist. March 20, 1989:9, 11.

Scientific Problems with Animal Models Perspectives On Medical Research Volume 4, 1993 by Stephen R. Kaufman

Historian and philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn notes that every scientific age has its "paradigms," theories nearly universally regarded as true that form the framework for ongoing scientific investigations.(1) Paradigms are rarely challenged until overwhelming contradictory evidence forces their revision or rejection. A currently dominant paradigm is that animal "models" are necessary for medical progress.(2-4) For most members of the current scientific establishment, the issue is not whether animal models should be used but which models are most useful. However, critics of animal models argue that they are inherently flawed (5-7) and point out the frequency with which animal models provide misleading information.(8-12)

All species differ; animal-model conditions never exactly mimic human ones. Animal models are only analogues of human conditions because they share certain characteristics. Philosophers Hugh LaFollette and Niall Shanks observe that animal models are used primarily for two functions--to predict human responses to stimuli (such as infectious, traumatic, or toxic conditions and therapeutic drugs or devices) and to offer new ways of conceptualizing human anatomy, physiology, or pathology. Researchers who use animal models employ the following reasoning: a given animal model resembles an analogous human condition in some of its features (say, A, B, and C); therefore, it is reasonable to proceed as if an additional feature (D) found in the animal model--for example, a physiological function or a drug response--can be expected to be a feature of the human condition as well. As LaFollette and Shanks point out, this assertion is logical only if feature D is causally related to A, B, and C--in both the animal model and the human condition. That is, A, B, and C must be causal factors of feature D. The following reasoning illustrates a failure to recognize the importance of causal relationships:

Two dogs bark, love bones, and wag their tafls when their human companions arrive home; because the two dogs are similar in these respects, they can also be expected to be of the same breed. If we know the first dog's breed, we can reliably predict the second's.

Breed, however, is not causally related to the three features that the two dogs are already known to share. If we know a dog's breed and we also know that a second dog has the same parents as the first, then we can reliably predict the second dog's breed--even if the two dogs differ in many other respects, such as coat color or temperament.

LaFollette and Shanks distinguish between weak and strong models. Strong animal models are identical to the analogous human features in all causally relevant respects, and research using such models can be confidently applied to humans. Although many animal research advocates assert that animal models faithfully reproduce human conditions, LaFollette and Shanks argue that most animal models are weak models of little direct applicability to humans. Neverthe- less, LaFollette and Shanks do not reject animal research's value. They maintain that animal models may be helpful but are probably not necessary for medical progress.(5)

In public, animal research proponents often suggest that weak causal models are in fact strong. For example, the Stanford Committee on Ethics states, "Cancer kills humans and animals alike.(13) At any buf the most simplistic level, the comparison immediately begins to break down. For example, malignancies that are experimentally induced in nonhuman animals and malignancies that occur spontaneously in humans significantly differ in their causes.(14-16) Other important differences include the greater virulence of most experimental cancer strains and differing mechanisms of tumor growth and metastasis. Even nonhuman cancers that apparently share many characteristics with human cancers make unreliable research models, since human and nonhuman cancers inevitably differ in some relevant causal factors. Viewed in this light, an animal model such as the mouse-leukemia model is a poor means of attempting to identify potential anti-cancer drugs, and this model has, in fact, proved grossly inadequate.(17)

Even if a disease's main causal factors were well understood--and were alike--in both humans and other animals, animal models would still be undermined by systemic differences between animal models and human conditions. Because of evolutionary divergence, species show differences in virtually every aspect of organ and tissue function. All organ subsystems interact, so every physiological difference between a given "laboratory"-animal species and the human species necessarily affect every causal factor. Consequently, all tissues of an animal model will tend to react to an experimental manipulation differently from a supposedly analogous human condition. Animal models of human conditions tend to provide only the most obvious and general information, such as that cancers kill; in order for them to provide reliable and specific information, the model and the human condition must have identical causal factors and have no significant systemic differences that affect these causal factors. This is impossible, since there are always differences in causal factors between the model and the human condition and because systemic differences are an inevitable consequence of evolutionary divergence.

In theory, then, animal modeling is unreliable in predicting human responses to stimuli; and it has proved so in practice. Animal tests of acute lethal toxicity,(18) eye irritancy,(19-21) skin irritancy,(22-24) teratogenesis (birth defects),(25-27) and carcinogenesis (28,29) have generally provided inconsistent results and failed to correspond to human experience. R. Heywood has estimated that only about 5-25 % of toxic effects found in animal experiments occur in humans.(30) Of course, animal models can serve as strong models when researchers attempt to predict gross toxicological effects, such as the ability of strong acids to burn the eye's surface; however, such effects could readily be predicted from the most rudimentary knowledge of chemistry. Most animal tests are supposedly intended to identify subtle effects, and they perform poorly in this regard.

Animal tests have also proved inadequate as a means of identifying potentially useful drugs. U.S. law requires that drugs be found effective and safe in animal testing before they are tested on humans. This law fails to reflect animal tests' poor predictive value: Ronald Hansen found that only about 12% of drugs that passed Phase I animal tests and entered human testing reached the market;(31) earlier, Samuel Irwin had found that only 2.3% of drugs selected for clinical trial were eventually marketed.(32) Most new drugs are similar to existing drugs, and so their clinical effect can be at least partially predicted based on structural analogy. Also, modern biochemical methods can help characterize specific drug-receptor interactions, and these interactions can suggest specific drug effects. Therefore, it is debatable whether animal tests help identify which drugs are most suitable for human clinical trials (the critical step in determining human safety and efficacy).

In addition to having failed to accurately predict drugs' efficacy and toxic side-effects, animal tests have, no doubt, prompted researchers to abandon numerous drugs and therapies that proved ineffective or toxic in nonhuman animals but would have benefitted humans. It is impossible to determine how many valuable therapies were discarded on the basis of misleading animal studies.

Are animal models worthless, then? Although causal dissimilarities and systemic differences undermine animal models, they are not necessarily useless. For example, animal data need not accord perfectly with human data to be relevant. For example an animal test that correctly identified carcinogens 90% of the time could help formulate reasonable public health guidelines. However, as noted above, most animal tests do not accurately identify subtle toxic effects. Therefore, animal toxicity data may be valuable in theory, but in practice it is generally inconsistent and misleading.

Although most animal models are weak models, certain strong ones can reliably predict gross toxicological effects. For example canaries were once used to test for carbon monoxide in coal mines because canaries are much more sensitive to this toxic gas than humans are. Although animal models cannot reliably elucidate mechanisms of disease induction and spread in humans, they have, in the past, afforded strong models for research on the organisms themselves. To illustrate, rats infected with the syphilis spirochete yield little insight into human syphilis infection. Nevertheless, Erhlich discovered arsenobenzol as a treatment for syphilis by infecting rats with the spirochete and then trying different compounds for possible anti-syphilis effect. In Ehrlich's studies, rats served primarily as reservoirs to harbor the organism, facilitating research on the organism itself. Today, in vitro cultures have replaced animals as mere reservoirs for almost all infectious agents.

Also, animal models may provide information about the species under investigation, because there are generally few major differences in physiological parameters among individuals of the same species. Most animal experimenters, however, claim to address human health issues.

Many philosophers of science have distinguished between validating (or disproving) hypotheses and formulating them. (33-35) An animal model cannot be used to test a hypothesis about humans because differences in causal factors between the animal model and the human condition render the animal model invalid as a predictor. The only way to support or disprove a hypothesis about human anatomy, physiology, or pathology is by studying human beings. Animal-model conditions are analogues, and it is impossible to validate or disprove any hypothesis by analogy. Therefore, logically animal models cannot directly contribute to medical discovery. Medical historian Brandon Reines maintains that animal models primarily "dramatize" hypotheses about humans without actually validating or disproving them.

Although animal models cannot validate or disprove hypotheses, they may function as heuristic devices that assist the process of discovery.(5-7) That is, they may suggest different ways of conceptualizing problems and thereby help generate new hypotheses. In this regard weak models have potential value. An unexpected finding during animal experimentation (including experimentation that was poorly conducted or that failed to accomplish its original objectives) may lead to an insight.

Such insights, however, can also arise via other research approaches, such as observing human patients, conducting epidemiological studies, performing in vitro tests, or engaging in computer or mechanical modeling. Once again, then, animal models do not appear to be necessary for medical progress. In fact, medical historian Brandon Reines (36,37) and physician Paul Beeson (38) consider the role of animal models as heuristic aids very limited.

In a review of hepatitis research, Beeson writes: "progress in the understanding and management of human disease must begin, and end, with studies of man."(38) Although much hepatitis research has used animals, Beeson has found that hypotheses about hepatitis have derived from clinical observations, and that clinical studies have been necessary to test their validity.(38)

Reines observes that nearly all hypotheses about human conditions derive from human clinical research.(36,37,39) Animal experimenters, he contends, perform the, superfluous and irrelevant function of experimenting with different animal models until they find one that accords with the clinical findings; typically they then claim that their model has "validated" the clinically derived hypothesis. Often, Reines observes, animal modelers highlight confirmatory animal data while discounting animal data that contradict their findings.

Although Beeson doesn't share Reines' conclusion that animal experimenta- tion is largely irrelevant to medical discovery, he agrees that most insights derive from human studies. Beeson writes, "The initial observations of manifestations and courses of human disease must be made in human beings. The important contributions of epidemiology depend on accurate clinical definitions. The occurrence of rare sequels or late manifestations is beyond any feasible approach through experiments on other species."(38) Beeson cites progress in understanding hepatitis, appendicitis, rheumatic fever, typhoid fever, ulcerative colitis, and hyperparathyroidism as representative of most medical progress in having occurred almost exclusively through the study of humans.(38) Nevertheless, like other researchers who have acknowledged the primary importance of clinical investigation yet remain lodged in the animal-model paradigm, Beeson continues to maintain the importance of animal experimentation.(40-45)

The history of polio research illustrates many of animal experimentation's strengths and limitations. Proponents of animal research frequently claim that animal experiments were crucial in controlling polio.(4,46) John R. Paul's review of polio research indicates that animal experimentation facilitated some insights but delayed others.(47)

In the 1800s, polio's clinical presentation and natural history were deduced from bedside observation and postmortem studies of human victims. Ivar Wickman's detailed epidemiological analyses of two Swedish epidemics in the early 1900s revealed that mild or even subclinical cases contributed to contagious spread of the disease. Most investigators, focusing on polio's life-threatening paralysis, considered polio a central nervous system disease. But Wickman found that polio affects the alimentary tract (throat, stomach, and intestines) and suggested that the gastrointestinal system may be the initial site of infection. (48,49)

By contradicting Wickman's observations, animal data delayed understanding of polio's true pathogenesis and natural history. The first animal model of polio was developed by Simon Flexner, who induced polio-like paralysis in rhesus monkeys after placing infected human tissue into their noses. Convinced that his animal model precisely paralleled the human disease, he concluded that human polio was introduced to the brain via the nose and confined to the central nervous system. For decades, most scientists adhered to this erroneous theory, and this led to misguided therapeutic measures.(47)

While animal studies remained the principal focus of polio research in the United States, Swedish clinical investigators continued to make important contributions. They tested for the presence of polio in tissues of human polio victims and family members by inoculating monkeys with test samples. If a test monkey contracted polio, the sample was determined to be infected. The investigators found that polio carriers could have polio virus present in their throats and intestines up to seven months after exposure. (Here, monkeys were used as bioassays, in which researchers sought a gross effect. Today, few animals are used as bioassays, because more reliable non-animal bioassays exist.)

Meanwhile, Flexner and other animal researchers continued to study rhesus monkeys infected with viruses obtained from other rhesus monkeys. This process selected for more virulent polio strains that tended to infect nervous tissue. Consequently, the animal model increasingly diverged from human polio in pathogenesis and natural history. Systemic differences between humans and rhesus monkeys undermined Flexner's animal model as a causal model of human polio.

In the 1940s researchers found that polio infection in chimpanzees accords more closely to the human disease. Like humans and unlike rhesus monkeys, chimpanzees were found to harbor the polio virus in their alimentary, tracts. Researchers were now more willing to accept the clinically derived hypothesis that polio infects the human alimentary tract. But this response merely demonstrates the research establishment's reluctance to accept clinical findings in humans until parallel findings have been produced--however artificially--in the laboratory in another species.

Animal models of polio were not very helpful as causal models, and they significantly delayed development of an effective vaccine. After clinical studies showed that polio virus infects gastrointestinal tissue, decades of experimentation on rhesus monkeys suggested that the virus infects only neural tissue. Vaccine researchers mistakenly believed that polio would only grow in neural tissue, but vaccines derived from these cultures were too dangerous. In 1948, John Enders, Thomas Weller, and Frederick Robbins grew polio on human intestinal tissue, which led to a safe vaccine. Albert Sabin, who developed the Sabin oral polio vaccine, has written, "the work on prevention was long delayed by an erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys."(50)

Nevertheless, animal experiments may have served a heuristic function by inspiring new ways of thinking about polio. For example, studies of TO virus encephalitis in mice revealed that animals infected early in life tend to have a more benign course: after initial exposure to TO virus, mice become immune.(51) According to Paul, this may have helped researchers derive a theory to explain the clinical observation that major epidemics tended to occur in remote areas. Because sparse or isolated populations did not permit an endemic state of polio infection, few children were exposed earlier in life, when the disease tended to have a more benign course. This insight did not require animal studies; it could have been derived entirely from clinical investigations, including population studies. The TO virus model illustrates the limited utility of weak models.

Some strong models were also used in the fight against polio. Swedish investigators used monkeys to test for the presence of polio virus in tissue samples; later, researchers used the mouse neutralization test for similar purposes. In addition, monkeys were used in immunological studies that demonstrated multiple distinct viral strains. In these cases, however, researchers merely assessed whether or not the animals became infected under different conditions. Today the absence or presence of a virus in human tissue can be more reliably determined using in vitro methods.

In theory and practice, animal models generally fail to reliably predict human responses to stimuli. While some strong animal models exist, most are weak models of human responses to stimuli. Weak animal models may serve as heuristic devices and help to inspire new ways of conceptualizing clinically relevant issues, but they are not indispensable analogues that are directly applicable to humans. As merely heuristic devices, animal models are not necessary for progress in human medicine.


1. Kuhn T. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1969.

2. Bernard C. An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine. Paris, Henry Schuman, 1949.

3. American Medical Association. Use ofanimals in Biomedical Research: The Challenge and Response [White Paper]. Chicago, AMA, 1988.

4. Gay WI (ed). Health Benefits of Animal Research. Washington DC, Foundation for Biomedical Research, 1986.

5. LaFollette H, Shanks N. Animal models in biomedical research: Some epistemological worries. Public Affairs Quarterly 1992;7(2):113-130.

6. LaFollette H, Shanks N. The intact systems argument: Problems with the standard defense of animal experimentation. Southern Journal of Philosophy 1993;31:323-333.

JEP Preservation of Scientific Serials


Scientific knowledge is increasingly being created and recorded in electronic forms, yet today's computer systems are poorly suited for

What is Past is Prologue

Editor's Gloss

Practical Lessons for Small-Scale Web Publishers

  • Preservation of Scientific Serials

    Authors' Rights

    Five Years and Counting

  • Thom Lieb:
    Looking Good Potpourri

    Front Page

    the long-term retention of information. Unless conscious efforts are made, important knowledge will be lost to future scientists and historians.

    The general question of preservation of digital information has recently emerged as a major topic for research. The underlying issues were first elaborated by the Research Libraries Group's Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information; several projects of the Digital Libraries Initiative emphasize preservation, including Cornell University's Prism project on information integrity.

    Most of the work to date seeks general principles that apply to a wide range of preservation challenges. This paper is the opposite. It is an outgrowth of a discussion paper that was prepared for a meeting at the Council on Library and Information Resources in September 1999 to discuss preservation of journals in digital form. It makes no attempt to address the general problems of preservation, but concentrates on three case studies: the ACM Digital Library, the Internet RFC series, and D-Lib Magazine. Those examples were chosen as typical publications where the definitive versions are already in electronic formats and maintained online. The ACM Digital Library provides the electronic versions of journals that mainly originated in print. The other two are novel forms of digital publication that were made possible by the development of the Internet. (Conversely, the development of the Internet was greatly helped by open access to the Internet RFCs.)

    This paper asks what can be done today that will help to preserve the information contained in these three examples for scientists and historians a hundred years from now. The answers are partly technical and partly organizational.

    The Case Studies

    The ACM Digital Library
    The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is a professional society that publishes research journals and magazines in computer science. It also organizes a wide variety of conferences, many of which publish proceedings. ACM is typical of the publishers that have moved rapidly into electronic publication of conventional journals. In 1993, the ACM decided that its future publication process would be a computer system that creates a database of journal articles, conference proceedings, magazines and newsletters, all marked up in SGML. Subsequently, ACM also decided to convert large numbers of its older journals and build a digital library covering its publications from 1985. The digital library will eventually extend back to ACM's foundation in 1948. (See "ACM: A Case Study" by Bernard Rous in the June 1999 Journal of Electronic Publishing.)

    The main collection came online in 1997. It has a Web interface that offers readers the opportunity to browse through the contents pages of the journals and to search by author, keyword and subject classification. Behind the Web interface lies a relational database, which is accessed through a set of CGI scripts.

    The ACM Digital Library is available only from ACM. For performance reasons, ACM is negotiating to deliver its information to users through a private company that will use a private network to mirror the publications. That will greatly reduce access delays, particularly outside North America, but the mirroring is purely for performance, not for preservation.

    For most of its publications, ACM continues to provide printed versions, which are generated from the SGML database. Since the ACM Digital Library became available online, demand for the online service has exceeded every forecast, while demand for the printed versions of the same journals has dropped sharply. The association expects to abandon the printed versions if and when the demand drops to uneconomic levels. No date has been set; a reasonable guess is that the printed versions of most journals will be withdrawn within the next five to ten years.

    The Internet RFC Series
    The Internet RFCs are the heart of the primary literature that documents the technology of the Internet. The initials "RFC" once stood for "Request for Comment" but that name long ago ceased to be appropriate. The 2,700 RFCs form a series that goes back thirty years. They include the formal specification of the TCP/IP protocols, Internet mail, components of the World Wide Web, and many more technical standards. Moreover, they are the only records of the technical discussions behind the development of much of modern networking.

    RFCs have never been published on paper, though in the early years hard copy was available on request. Originally they were available over the Internet by FTP, more recently by the Web. Most are text-only with no graphical or other formats; a few have PostScript versions with additional graphics. Various indexes have been developed, but they are generated automatically. No metadata is provided beyond a number, category, a list of authors, and the title. Until fairly recently the older RFCs were not collected systematically and some of the older RFCs have been lost.

    The organization behind the RFCs is complex. The RFCs are the official publications of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), but responsibility for publication of the RFCs lies with the Internet Society (ISOC). The secretariat of the IETF coordinates the Internet Draft process that leads to the creation of the RFCs, but the RFC Editor maintains the RFC series. At present the secretariat is based at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), with services provided by Foretec Seminars, a subsidiary of CNRI. The RFC Editor is at the Information Sciences Institute, a semi-autonomous unit of the University of Southern California.

    D-Lib Magazine
    D-Lib Magazine is a monthly magazine that publishes articles about digital library innovation and research. Since its first issue in July 1995 it has become one of the primary sources for information about digital libraries. D-Lib magazine is representative of a number of important Web serials. The following comments are broadly applicable to other open access serials, such as the Journal of Electronic Publishing, RLG DigiNews, First Monday, iMP, Ariadne, and many more.

    D-Lib Magazine uses basic Web technology. Articles are formatted in HTML, with images and other material in the standard Web formats of today. Efforts are made to ensure that the magazine is accessible from standard Web browsers, but there is no systematic enforcement of any markup standards. Recently, D-Lib Magazine has been introducing new metadata methods. Each article has a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and an associated file containing simple metadata. The metadata uses fields from the Dublin Core and is marked up in XML.

    Work is beginning on automatic reference linking from the magazine to other technical literature. That will partially address the problem of links from the magazine being broken. At present internal links are maintained carefully after publication, but external links are not monitored; over time some are broken and references become invalid.

    From its origin, D-Lib Magazine has been supported by funds from DARPA grants. It is published by CNRI, a not-for-profit corporation with activities centered on the development of network-based information infrastructure. Currently, the magazine is edited for content by two of us at Cornell University, with production by CNRI.

    Implications for Long-term Preservation

    The desire to preserve publications for a hundred years highlights some

    "One approach to long-term preservation is to rely on the publisher"

    interesting themes. The first is understanding what should be preserved. The primary information of science comes from many sources. The Internet RFC series, the Genome Database, NASA's photographic archives, D-Lib Magazine and the Journal of Electronic Publishing are not conventional journals, but they are primary sources in their fields.

    Publishers and librarians often equate primary information with conventional peer-reviewed journals, but practicing scientists recognize that that is far from accurate. The review process that turns an Internet Draft into a standards track RFC is more thorough than almost any peer review. Conversely, peer-reviewed journals vary greatly in quality, from fundamental importance to an embarrassment.

    For scientific information, three possible levels of preservation have been proposed. They can be labeled conservation, preservation of access, and preservation of content.

    The most demanding is conservation of the full look and feel of the publication. Museums and archives distinguish between conservation of artifacts and preservation of content. Is it sufficient to preserve the scientific information or is it important to conserve the look and feel of those early electronic publications for their historic interest? An early edition of Physics Review is of interest today as a historical artifact as well as for the physics it contains. We must expect that future generations will value publications such as these three examples as the incunabula of electronic publication; they will be of interest for how they use the Internet as much as for the scientific information they contain.

    The second level is preservation of access, maintaining both the underlying material and an effective system of access. The ACM Digital Library and D-Lib Magazine both support fairly complex Web sites. Those sites have indexes, search engines, sets of metadata, guidelines to authors, and other materials beyond the actual published articles.

    If the objective is to preserve only the scientific content, then a simple warehouse of the articles with minimal metadata is sufficient. Thus, the third and least demanding level of preservation is preservation of content. For example, Elsevier Science maintains a basic warehouse of journal articles that is independent of the various delivery systems that are provided. If the content is preserved, then the scientific knowledge is not lost, but access may be awkward.

    Publishers as Archivists
    One approach to long-term preservation is to rely on the publisher. If the publisher is actively maintaining a serial, there may be no need for other organizations to duplicate the technical work of preservation.

    Studies of preservation emphasize the need to refresh data by periodically copying it from older magnetic storage, and to migrate information to keep current with modern formats and operating environments. When a publisher is actively managing materials, refreshing and migration become routine data processing. All three examples are published by organizations that have strong computing staffs. They regularly replace old hardware and transfer data to the new. They upgrade software packages (such as operating systems and databases) periodically and run tests to ensure that the new systems work with the old data.

    By a strange twist, while active management by the publisher is likely to preserve both content and access, it also increases the need for conscious planning if the original look and feel is to be conserved. Migration to take advantage of new technology preserves the content and often improves current services, but frequently discards the design of early systems. D-Lib Magazine treats each monthly issue as its own package, complete with graphic design elements. That means that a reader who accesses an early issue will see the original design. A more common approach, however, is for the design of a publication to be described by a single package that contains a style sheet and a set of graphical elements. Changes to that package are reflected in all issues of the publication, thus changing the appearance of back issues. While no publisher would reformat its backlist of printed journals, migration of content frequently alters the design of all materials, losing the older design and the organization of the materials forever.

    If a publisher is to be relied on for long-term preservation, it must be financially sound and technically skilled. The publisher must value the materials either as a business asset or as an archive that it keeps for the public good. The organizational stability and the commitment of the publisher become major considerations, but no organization is completely safe. This is a time of prosperity in the United States; the next hundred years will surely see financial and political crises, wars, corruption, incompetence, and natural disasters. Tomorrow we could see the National Library of Medicine abolished by Congress, Elsevier dismantled by a corporate raider, the Royal Society declared bankrupt, or the University of Michigan Press destroyed by a meteor. All are highly unlikely, but over a long period of time unlikely events will happen.

    Stability for the Next Century
    The three examples have very different organization stability. The scientific and library communities can be reasonably confident that ACM will continue to look after its Digital Library so long as the association exists. As a professional association, ACM sees the Digital Library as one of its great assets. If ACM should ever go out of business or merge with another organization, the Digital Library would be an important asset. The association is prosperous, with 80,000 members and significant financial reserves. ACM is more than fifty years old and could well be active a hundred years from now.

    The organizational arrangements for the Internet RFC series are essentially short-term. They work well at present, but surely they will not remain unchanged for a hundred years. While the RFCs remain the working documentation of the Internet, the technical community will look after them, but there is nothing in the present structure that will preserve the RFCs when they cease to be current and become part of the history of science. The Internet Engineering Task Force is a remarkable organization, but the informality that has made it successful is a risk when planning for the long term.

    The organizational stability of open-access serials varies greatly. For example, the University of Michigan Press, which publishes the Journal of Electronic Publishing, presumably pays attention to the long term, while SAIC, the commercial company that publishes iMP makes no long-term promises. CNRI, the publisher of D-Lib Magazine, depends on grant funding. If funding ceased, CNRI might well stop publishing the magazine and freeze the Web site. If sometime in the next hundred years CNRI were to cease operations, such a frozen Web site could easily be lost.

    In these three examples copyright does not appear to be a barrier to preservation, but for different reasons. The authors of most, but not all, materials in the ACM Digital Library have transferred copyright to ACM. Even where ACM does not own the copyright, it has the rights needed to publish, convert to different formats, and archive the materials. In any possible changes of its copyright policy, ACM would ensure that it had sufficient rights to allow any reasonable preservation policy.

    ACM is more generous about copyright than most publishers, but still does not permit copies to be made of the entire library. The RFC series and D-Lib Magazine explicitly allow copies of the materials to be made, at least for noncommercial purposes. Legally no permission is needed to build a complete archive of these serials. The RFCs are often treated as public documents. Authors of RFCs grant very broad rights to ISOC and the IETF. ISOC holds copyright in the recent standards-track documents, but provides them to all users with essentially no restrictions. Authors retain copyright in the materials that appear in D-Lib Magazine. Each author provides CNRI with a release that permits CNRI to publish and maintain the magazine. The magazine is open access and broad permission is given for all noncommercial uses of the material. The entire Web site is mirrored at several sites around the world.

    For preservation, those distinctions are more apparent than real. In each case the publisher has all the rights needed to preserve the materials, including the rights to work with other noncommercial organizations for long-term preservation. All of the publishers would be happy to discuss preservation with a well-intentioned library that planned to establish an archive of the serials for future generations.

    Technology and Standards
    Some of those materials are in such simple formats that refreshing the bits can preserve the content.

    "Preservation is a service to the future that cannot depend on financial rewards"

    Others are more complex. The ACM Digital Library is the only one of the three examples to use a standard system of markup, SGML, yet it is the most vulnerable to technical obsolescence. The system is complex technically and it uses a variety of formats (SGML, PDF, and HTML). The use of SGML poses particular problems for preservation. The DTD is specific to ACM and the special-purpose algorithms used to render mathematics from SGML are an essential part of the system. Indeed, the difficulties experienced in rendering mathematics from SGML have led some ACM members to urge the use of a language (TeX) that represents the appearance of mathematics directly. ACM uses a relational database to store the Digital Library material. The database also stores the metadata needed to manage the collection and provide access. The database schema and the metadata are specially designed and not tied to any standard. Thus the ACM Digital Library is dependent on ACM-specific specifications (a DTD, CGI scripts, database schemas, and rendering algorithms). The ACM-specific tools change periodically as ACM improves its system.

    At the other extreme, the RFCs were deliberately designed to be extremely simple technically. Each RFC is a single file of ASCII text. RFCs have a carefully controlled layout and the basic descriptive metadata is easily extracted from the text. The short-lived experiment with PostScript was not seen as a success; the few PostScript versions are highly vulnerable to obsolescence since PostScript has many variants.

    The technical issues of long-term preservation of D-Lib Magazine are shared with many other Web sites. The magazine is fairly simple. It uses no JavaScript or Java applets and tries to avoid the more abstruse aspects of HTML. Therefore, little of the content will be lost even when Web browsers cease to support current versions of the various formats. There should be safety in numbers, too: because a huge number of Web sites use the same formats, migration tools will almost certainly be widely available (e.g., tools to convert HTML to XML).

    In these three examples, metadata is not crucial to preservation because most vital metadata is embedded within the documents. The descriptive metadata that exists can easily be recreated if necessary. Preservation of structural metadata is slightly more important. A database schema is used to manage the ACM Digital Library. That is essential for preservation of access, but not for preservation of content; it will surely be modified with time. D-Lib Magazine, in common with other Web publications, is highly dependent on internal hyperlinks, and hence on the directory structure used to store the magazine.

    Long-term preservation requires organizations that are committed to the long-term. Candidates include the national libraries, scholarly societies, charitable foundations, and major university libraries. It is no accident that these are all not-for-profit. Preservation is a service to the future that cannot depend on financial rewards.

    For the scientific serials discussed in this paper, preservation appears likely to go through two phases, a period of active management by the publisher followed by preservation independent of the original publisher. For the ACM Digital Library, the duration of the first phase may be measured in centuries. For the Internet RFCs and D-Lib Magazine the first phase is unlikely to continue for more than a few decades, and could be less.

    Partnerships with Publishers
    A theme that runs through the examples is the need for the scientific and library communities to build partnerships with the publishers. One way to minimize the risk that valuable information will be lost is for publishers to make arrangements with libraries to replicate their collections. That ensures that separate copies of the publications always exist. If a publisher should subsequently cease to maintain its collections, those libraries become the long-term preservationists. The American Physical Society is discussing such a collaboration with Cornell University Library, and Elsevier has recently announced a policy that should lead to all its journals being protected in the same way.

    An option that is sometimes proposed is for the publisher (e.g., ACM) to take the primary role in maintaining, upgrading, and migrating the system and its content. At the same time, one or more libraries accept snapshots of the system and its content on a regular basis, to be archived as protection against catastrophic events. A legal agreement would be drawn up between publisher and the libraries listing the circumstances under which the archives can be made available to general users. A side benefit of snapshots is that they conserve the design of the site at specific moments. Almost certainly, a hundred years from now such a snapshot would not be immediately usable, but it would provide the raw material for the digital archeologist. It is the digital analog of a dusty box of papers found in an attic.

    Snapshots alone are not attractive to libraries, however, unless they are combined with current access to the publications. A more attractive alternative is for the library to maintain an up-to-date copy of the materials for both local access and preservation. That could even be managed as a mirror site for the publisher. Each publisher could collaborate with one or two libraries and the total effort would not be excessive.

    Preservation Independent of the Original Publisher
    Over time, the volume of material that is no longer actively maintained by its original publisher

    "Physical media decay, software systems become obsolete, and the expertise needed to manage the collections disperses"

    will grow. Some publications have sufficient financial value that others may be prepared to maintain them and generate revenue from them. JSTOR, which digitizes backruns of important journals, is the leading example of such an initiative. Hopefully, such activities will flourish, but they will not cover everything. Many sources of scientific information will have to be preserved for their cultural value alone. Preservation will have to be by organizations that are independent of the publisher. That is a function of research libraries that continues naturally into the digital future.

    The Library of Congress could play a special role. A prime function of the Library of Congress is to collect the cultural and intellectual output of today for the benefit of future generations. No legal changes are needed for the library to extend its mission to collecting and preserving information that is created in digital formats. It could be accomplished by partnerships with selected publishers, combined with acquiring and preserving materials that are not actively maintained by others. As a first step, the Library of Congress has an innovative agreement with UMI (now known as Bell and Howell Information and Learning) in which the library essentially designates that company as the long-term archive for most university theses. As yet, however, the library has paid little attention to information that is created in digital forms. Its digital-library efforts focus on converting physical artifacts to digital form.

    Preservation of open-access materials like the Internet RFCs can proceed independently of partnerships with publishers. The Internet RFCs are now maintained by organizations that do not have long-term preservation as a priority. Because they are technically very simple, a possible strategy for preservation is for one or more libraries to announce a public commitment to acquire every RFC as it is published and to preserve the content for the long term. While it is sensible for those libraries to work with ISOC and the RFC editor, it is perfectly possible for them to act independently.

    Preservation of digital information is not a single issue with a single universal solution. As these three examples demonstrate, much can be done immediately.

    Information is especially vulnerable when the original publisher ceases to maintain it actively. That transition can be abrupt, caused by a natural catastrophe, war, bankruptcy, or other disaster. More often, however, the publisher slowly loses interest. Physical media decay, software systems become obsolete, and the expertise needed to manage the collections disperses. Those are already problems with research information mounted on Web sites.

    The solution lies in preparation during the period of active management, so that the technical and legal arrangements for subsequent preservation are already in place. Hopefully, the planned partnership between the American Physical Society and the Cornell University Library will be one of many. If libraries and publishers work together, it should be possible to preserve all the primary materials of science for future generations.

    * * *

    William Y. Arms may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

    * * *

    Links from this article:

    ACM Digital Library, Association for Computing Machinery,

    Ariadne, The UK Office for Library and Information Networking,

    Cornell University, Project Prism, Digital Libraries Initiative Phase 2,

    D-Lib Magazine,

    First Monday,

    iMP: Information Impacts, Center for Information Strategy and Policy (CISP),

    Internet Engineering Task Force, Requests for Comments,

    Journal of Electronic Publishing, University of Michigan Press, .

    JSTOR: Journal Storage Redefining Access to Scholarly Literature,

    RLG DigiNews,

    Research Libraries Group Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information, Preserving Digital Information: Final Report and Recommendations, March 1996,

    Rous, Bernard. ACM: A Case Study. Journal of Electronic Publishing 4(4) June 1999,

    * * *


    This article is based on a discussion paper prepared for a meeting of the Council on Library and Information Resources on September 27, 1999. Many of the ideas raised at the meeting are reflected in this new version, though naturally I take responsibility for errors and omissions. The meeting was attended by Scott Bennett (Yale University), Pieter Bolman (Academic Press), Robert Bovenschulte (American Chemical Society), Martin Blume (American Physical Society), William Gosling (University of Michigan), Rebecca Graham (Digital Library Federation), Kevin Guthrie (JSTOR), Karen Hunter (Elsevier Science), Michael Keller (Stanford University), Richard Lucier (University of California), Clifford Lynch (Coalition for Networked Information), Deanna Marcum (Council on Library and Information Resources), Elaine Sloan (Columbia University), Abby Smith (Council on Library and Information Resources), Michael Spinella (American Association for the Advancement of Science), Winston Tabb (Library of Congress), Sarah Thomas (Cornell University), Donald Waters (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation) and myself.

    This work has been supported in part under DARPA Grant No. N66001-98-1-8908.

    [Jun 15, 2004] The Cheating Culture "A Liberal With a New Emphasis on Old Values" Profile of David Callahan in

    June 15, 2004 |The New York Times

    America's moral decline, real or illusionary, is at the heart of the current culture wars. And as these wars polarize the nation and dominate much of the political debate, a few trigger words instantly place people on either side of the divide. The right tends to talk about morality and values, while the left invokes evolving mores and personal rights.

    It is hard, therefore, to label David Callahan, a liberal who argues that America has lost its moral compass. He warns that the country must recapture the solid bourgeois values that once guided business leaders, and he says the cheating and lying from Wall Street to university exam rooms are unraveling the fabric of the nation.

    That kind of scolding may sound odd coming from the left, but Mr. Callahan seems intent on wresting moral issues out of the hands of conservatives. Liberals, he says, should wake up to the rot in the country, fight against its pervasiveness and stake out moral values as their own turf. . . . "

    Read the Full Article

    AP: A Giant Right-Wing Propaganda Network?

    Beat the Press

    Okay, that's more than a bit strong, but on the other hand, AP referred to Social Security as "a giant federal Ponzi scheme," so if we're going to do name-calling, Beat the Press is closer to mark here than AP.

    It goes on to tell readers:

    "That's pretty much the current system. Social Security takes contributions from today's workers and uses them to pay the old-age benefits that were promised to retirees. But there are serious concerns how long that can last."

    "There are serious concerns"..... scary, ominous, concerns lurk.

    Of course, once we get beyond science fiction and horror films, concerns don't lurk in the world, they reside in specific people. Names would be nice. There are people cited in the article, but none of them say anything implying that a largely pay as you go Social Security system could not continue indefinitely, because of course it can.

    Social Security is absolutely not a Ponzi scheme as anyone who has ever looked at either the Trustees report, the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) analysis, or taken third grade arithmetic knows. As this article notes, the Trustees project that the program will be fully funded through 2037 (the next 28 years) with no changes whatsoever. CBO projects that it will be fully funded through 2043 (the next 34 years) with no changes whatsoever.

    The program is projected to face shortfalls after these dates, but it would still be able to pay the overwhelming majority of scheduled benefits even if no changes were ever made. (Just like a Ponzi scheme, right?) The reason that it can pay all benefits now and nearly all benefits forever, is that the tax rate is set at level that the taxes collected from current workers can support the benefits paid to current retirees. The problem in the longer-term is that we will be living longer in future decades, therefore the ratio of retirees to workers will rise, eventually pushing the program into deficit.

    But, this is not exactly a horror story. As the country gets richer, it may decide to put a larger share of its wealth into supporting retirement. That is something that it has done repeatedly in the past (something that AP reporters who write on Social Security should know). It may also decide to raise the retirement age at some point, this is also something that has been done in the past.

    Social Security has faced many shortfalls in prior decades because the rise in the ratio of retirees to workers is not new, it has been happening almost continuously since the program's inception (the baby boom cohort is a small blip, temporarily reducing the ratio during its peak working years). If our AP reporter had been around in 1965 he or she would have been writing much more alarming stories, since the situation for Social Security three decades into the future would have looked far worse then. If anyone had taken such fears seriously, we never would have created Medicare, Medicaid, or Head Start. As it was, we did create these programs and we also patched the holes in SS, so it is still doing just fine more than 40 years later.

    This article also includes an inaccurate assertion by Brookings Economist Bill Gale, that "the world is sick of our debt." This can easily be shown to be false by looking at market interest rates. Investors are willing to hold 10-year Treasury bonds at a 3.75 percent interest rate. This is a far lower interest rate than they demanded at any point in the prior 50 years, except at the peak of the crisis last fall. If investors were actually sick of our debt, they would be demanding very high rates of interest to hold it.

    --Dean Baker

    Blogger naked capitalism - Post a Comment

    Our new hero Elizabeth Warren (we had always liked her posts at Credit Slips, and it's to see her kicking ass and taking names) pointed to a paper "Bullshit Promises," by Curtis Bridgeman and Karen Sandrik. It looks at the concept of "bullshit" as defined by philosopher Harry Frankfurt and discusses the implications for contract law.

    For those not familiar with Frankfurt's construct, (and I wasn't), bullshit is different than lying. Lying takes place when an individual says something he knows to be untrue. Bullshit is when the speaker is indifferent to the truth. Frankfurt's example is when a politician goes on about how "our great and blessed country....created a new beginning for mankind." The candidate may or may not believe it, and in this case, he isn't saying it to be believed, he is saying it to curry favor with voters.

    The authors explain:

    The defining characteristic of bullshit, for Frankfurt, is that it is speech that holds itself out as describing reality, but fails to live up to the accepted standards of how we go about making such descriptions. It is not its actual truth or falsity that determines whether a statement is bullshit, but rather whether it is made with or without regard for its truth or falsity.

    I have a particularly keen interest in topics like this because I am distressed with the many and varied forms of dishonest that take place routinely in our culture. Not only is there resigned acceptance of much of it, but even worse, people don't even seem to notice when it happens.

    I don't mean the sort of white lies that will be with us ever and always to smooth over interpersonal relations (although research has found that they are amazingly common, with study subjects telling 20 to 30 lies a day). It's the skirting the edge of truth in business and public life that sets my teeth on edge.

    Maybe I am just showing myself to be old-fashioned, but when I started out for myself nearly 20 years ago, pretty much everything was on a handshake basis, even though I would always paper it up. I've seen a decline in those sorts of situations over the years, and my colleagues have had similar experiences. In recent years, I've had a few situations where people have attempted to retrade deals radically at the 11th hour, even with a paper trail and authorizations, almost for sport, just to see what they could get away with.

    As an aside, maybe that's why Clint Eastwood remains so popular. He has come to play anachronistic, cranky (most recently, in Gran Torino, bigoted) old men, who are nevertheless appealing because they adhere rigidly to antique, unabashedly masculine notions of honor, in particular, living up to one's word.

    I wonder how the decay started. Politicians have always been famous for exaggerating, but Lyndon Banes Johnson took discourse down a notch (he lied so unabashedly that reporters, historically loath to say anything bad about a sitting President, started openly about a "credibility gap"). But I believe that it is commercial speech that has fostered a willingness to cut corners with the truth.

    I could go on at length, but I will stop with a couple of examples. One of the mainstays of commercials is to show smiling, sometimes ecstatic or giddy, people using the product. Is a better cake mix or floor cleaner really going to make you feel all that good? No, but the images say they will. And because the distortion/overpromise is non-verbal, it's harder to parse it out and look at it clinically. That is why TV is so remarkably effective.

    Another is the pervasiveness of "gotcha" practices, which are particularly popular in financial services. Rebates that have such elaborate protocols that it is clear that the company went to some length to come up with ways to reject completed forms. "Free" checking accounts that are anything but (say, a minimum balance, or only a few month no-fee period). As we discussed earlier this evening, revocable "fixed interest rate for the life of the balance" credit card offers. And then we just have good old fashioned bad faith dealing. I have taken to recording the dates and details of medical claims I submit to my insurer, Cigna, because they routinely throw them out. Two years ago, every single item I sent to them wound up in the system. Now, anywhere from 20% to 35% go missing. But I can't prove that they are systematically and deliberately "losing" claims, even though that is clearly what they are up to.

    Now the list above could all be called lies, made with an intent to deceive. But we have related bullshit. I once went to a focus group (I do so out of professional curiosity) which was to test consumer reactions to a proposed advertising message for a health insurance company. I cannot recall the exact wording, but all the messages said explicitly that the insurer would put the patient's interest first, be proactive, caring, etc. I took issue, saying the ad themes were rubbish, no insurer acted that way and they would have to turn their business model on its head to do so (ironically, the insurer was CIGNA).

    The person running the session kept trying to force me into agreement: "But if a company were to do this, how would you feel about it?" The session leader refused to hear that if I saw an advertisement so wildly at variance with the truth, it would annoy me rather than make we think better of the company. So we have bullshit market research leading to dishonest ad campaigns.

    Back to the paper for some legal highlights:

    Most courts require an actual intent to deceive the promisee rather than just a lack of an intention to perform. A paradigm case would be Max Bialystock from the musical The Producers, who sold 1,000% interest in a musical, planning to make sure the musical was so bad that there would be no profits to divide so that no one would discover his fraud....

    In a world of standard-form contracts, however, consumers are faced with what is arguably a much more widespread problem than lying promises. Parties with great bargaining power who deal primarily in standard-form contracts need not lie in order to get the benefits of lying. Instead, what parties can do – as we will see, what they often actually do – is to avoid making a lying promise simply by making more nuanced promises that fall short of committing them to any particular course of conduct. To be sure, these parties use the words of promising, but then they elsewhere reserve the right to cancel the contract at any time or to change its terms unilaterally.

    The paper then has a very informative discussion of some of the many tricks that credit card companies play (did you know that it takes PhD level reading skills to parse the interest rate language in credit card agreements?). Cell phone companies are also devious:

    While these two industries are arguably the worst offenders, similar bad practices are common elsewhere.

    The authors content that the protections under current law against such practices are too weak and suggest some modest reforms that could rein them in a great deal.

    posted by Yves Smith at 2:49 AM on Jan 11, 2009

    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    One of the reasons I think this recession is going to be much worse than most people imagine, is exactly this culture of bullshit we swim in. You don't notice it until you've crawled up on land and had time to dry yourself off and think about it.

    So, imagine tens of millions of American consumers, cut off from their credit cards and cable TV brainwashing for several months by economic necessity, and then being coaxed back into the consumerist fold. This culture looks horrible from the outside, and once you've been detoxed for a few months, you're an outsider.

    I'm stingy, not because I don't enjoy fine things, but because virtually nothing you can afford to buy in this country lives up to the promises.

    January 11, 2009 3:12 AM

    Blogger donna said...
    Um, did you people not grow up in the 70s?

    Nixon disillusioned me forever. I've never trusted a politician since. As to advertising, credit cards, banks, television, etc., they all seem to have been deceptive pretty much my whole life.

    Same as it ever was, really.

    January 11, 2009 3:25 AM

    Blogger Yves Smith said...

    The point is it got worse before Nixon, and appears correlated with the popularity of TV. Weirdly, Johnson and Nixon kept lyin' when the footage from VIetnam made it hard to pretend things were going well there. So we've now had nearly four decades of pols getting more clever about handling the media.

    And commercials are getting ever more manipulative. I spent two years in Oz, and it was refreshing how straightforward (and often wry) their commercials are. Ours have very weird video game and dream type images, often bizarre and not funny irony. It almost seems as if a very disturbed psyche is behind some of our stuff. And I suspect a lot of research has gone into it and has ascertained that it is effective.

    January 11, 2009 3:37 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    The de-evolution of the business contract has been a sore spot of mine for many years now. In my field, construction, its a game of who sets the standards, manufacturer of building goods, people with the development monies, right through out the entire food chain.

    Ask a question to a person with authority about a clarification in a spec, may educe a response, but try and get them to sign off on it. I've seen contracts ripped up with the statement of go a head and do some thing about it we have better solicitors. In the building boom over here, I have watched as the old and knowledgeable members of the industry have be replaced with increasingly younger and more malleable individuals with little ethical behaver evident in their still maturing brains.

    Ex sample to my point, Young man walks on to construction site, new khaki slacks, fashionable new black shoes, Ralph L Oxford shirt and eyes wide with pride. I greet him with a G'Day and what can I do for you, his response was Hi I'm the new site supervisor (his type would run 5 to 20 jobs depending on size). I jokingly say you guys just keep getting younger every day and his response was "well we are bringing a new youthful energy into the market". Well after I picked my jaw off he floor, I wished him luck in his new position and got back to my work. My head was filled with pictures of him in a room full of dopplegangers, just down loading what ever some construction/sales Mgr puts in front of them and send them out the door to make life hell for everyone else and all for a company cell phone/car and a title they can bullshit about at the pub to get girls and impress mates lool.

    Society is sick and its the criminals, wolfs in lambs skins, sales, advertising, profit at all costs, politicians for personal gain that are the root of it.

    Yes Yves, I agree with you 110% fix this component in the equation and then things will start to function with more rational behaver for everyones benefit.


    January 11, 2009 3:53 AM

    Blogger Richard Smith said...
    'Bullshit' has been around for a long long time. It's acknowledged in your Constitution - that's why the right you have is to 'the pursuit of happiness', not 'happiness'. The hucksters facilitate that pursuit.

    For other literary examples see "Huckleberry Finn" (the Duke and the King); or Nabokov "Nicolai Gogol" (1944).

    The term "poshlost" that Nabokov uses is a nuanced version of 'bullshit'. Fake ad promises are pretty much at the core of it. You can see Nabokov pursuing that from magazines & film (40s) through to TV (50s and 60s).

    Ideal exchange for fake happiness? Fake money.

    Easy to see why bullshit peaks might coincide with debt bubbles.

    January 11, 2009 5:09 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    I don't think people are any different today than what they were in the past. It's just that we've been in an environment for the last several years where regulation was seen as 'bad' and thus the cheats were able to get away with pretty much anything.

    Look at this guy Madoff -- still walking the streets even though he admitted to a multi-billion dollar fraud. And his kids will probably live out their lives in the lap of luxury because they 'didn't know'. If we would start treating white-collar criminals more in-line with the magnitude of the crimes they've committed, then you would start to see less cheating in society.

    All you have to do is ask yourself "What is the downside of cheating today?" The answer: not much.

    January 11, 2009 5:16 AM

    Anonymous Nick said...
    How nice to have an article and be able to agree with every word.

    The gap between promise and performance has never been greater in my lifetime and I was born in the '30s.

    The advertising industry is of course the prime mover in the creation of bull and from this flow all the weasel contracts, get out clauses and nil responsibility that is a feature of our life.

    BUT, and it is a big BUT, so much of this we brought upon ourselves with the help of the "ambulance chasers". A packet of peanuts has the words 'may contain nuts', a cup of coffee we are reminded 'is hot', and everyone who trips over their own feet immediately seeks out a claim compensation firm to sue.

    I have no time for the shysters of the marketplace but we once used to have an ethos of personal responsibility and there was such a thing as the spirit of the law as well as the letter.

    January 11, 2009 5:59 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    Simple solution: unplug from the Matrix...
    1) Canceled my sub. to the LA Times (no real worthwhile news anyway.
    2) Canceled my contract for cable service (50 channels providing nothing of real value).
    3. Use rabbit ears for local programs (watch few programs and PBS).
    4. Plug into internet to get latest news/analysis and blogs.

    You become detoxed after a couple of months...Frees up time to read and do other things...

    January 11, 2009 6:46 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    Bullshit is epidemic, no doubt. I have felt as though the majority of companies I have dealt with in the last year were trying to cheat me, from double charges from the phone company, to the appliance store delivering an identical looking but cheaper fridge, to the bank jacking up mortgage closing costs 4 hours before close. These are supposed to be reputable companies yet dealing with them is like playing 3 card monte with a street hustler. You practically have to pack a gun to keep them from robbing you.

    I hope there is a cure for the bullshit epidemic somewhere on the horizon because there are not enough honest companies left to meet one's needs without dealing with the shysters.

    January 11, 2009 7:39 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    Of course, if I were a true criminal, I would read "Bullshit Promises" and all other papers of a similar type to fully understand the options and opportunities which await me in my career of Crime. There is lots of useful research in this field. I'm positive Madeoff and their ilk are well schooled in all the accounting possibilities including all the criminal ones. Just ask UBS who were advising US clients how to criminally avoid taxes.

    What we see today is an outgrowth of the S&L Disaster 1990-91 wherein the Criminals were bailed out and there were few prosecutions, just like today. When the Criminals are bailed out, they don't just take their loot and go off into the sunset, they look for new opportunities to get more loot. Thus, today is simply S&L DIsaster with new wrinkles and nuances and sons and daughters of S&L Criminals. Any TV Cop Show tells you one thing, Criminals don't go away; they go to school on their Crimes and they replicate. We see this all around us.

    Add up all the money looted from the War and FInancial Rackets alone and you have tens of thousands of Criminals operating in the USA. Hopefully they will not be moving into my rural, unfashionable neighborhood. And, without any meaningful prosecution in the works, we continue on the same path, the Criminals replicating and the Crime expanding.

    The ultimate question now is:
    When do the Crimes exhaust the Treasury? It may be soon.

    January 11, 2009 8:11 AM

    Anonymous shtove said...
    Any link for the assertion about PhD level skills for parsing a credit agreement?

    I believe it, but would like to see how it was figured out.

    January 11, 2009 8:12 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    The most pressing problem for consumers today is algorithmic billing. I cannot tell you the amount of man hours a week I spend trying to get improper charges corrected. This problem is not Bullshit as it is intentional lying and cheating.

    It is my belief that most people don't take the time necessary to dispute charges and just pay them anyway. I wonder how much profit is generated by companies from algorithmic billing.

    January 11, 2009 8:22 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I have watched as the old and knowledgeable members of the industry have be replaced with increasingly younger and more malleable individuals with little ethical behaver evident in their still maturing brains.

    In the 1980s new hires at Lehman Brothers in retail sales (financial consultants) training began with 'leave your brains at the door.'

    I matriculated at a big private university in the early 1980s and again in 2001-2005 when I got my degree.

    The change was like day and night as hype, advertising and new building construction boomed.


    January 11, 2009 8:27 AM

    Blogger ballyfager said...
    The trouble with big corporations, and cell phone companies are an excellent example, is that they think they have last bats. By that I mean that, ultimately, they think you have to do what they say.

    Only if they have a monopoly (as the cable companies used to). Comcast treated their customers in a highhanded manner but, with the availability of FIOS, they've come down to earth somewhat.

    I had a run-in with Verizon a few years back. The lower level people just keep telling you about company policy. I kept telling them that I didn't give a rat's ass about company policy. Eventually you get to someone who realizes that you represent a revenue stream to them and they would be crazy to let that get away.

    They think (without actually thinking) that the customer is subordinate to them. This represents a major sea-change in my lifetime, from when the customer was always right.

    January 11, 2009 8:32 AM

    Anonymous Richard Smith said...

    you can get a rough and ready reading list out by shoving "measuring lexical difficulty comprehension" into Google and trawling the results. There are some half decent measures and analysis tools out there now I think.

    January 11, 2009 8:33 AM

    Anonymous Richard Kline said...
    I absolutely loath commercial advertising. It's existence is a major reason I refuse to own a television. The purpose of commercial advertising is exactly in the vein of this post, not necessarily to lie but to replace reality with a simulacra more favorable to the producer; a brilliant, tawdry, or in fact mendacious simulacra, it matters not so long as the effect is achieved. Our culture is a cheap, dumb culture as long as we tolerate this stuff, which we do.

    . . . Did I mention that I love as much truth as one can realistically approximate? And, too, beauty is a shining star; show me the way thither, and I'm gone. : )

    January 11, 2009 8:52 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    The BS factor has become worse in the last 8 years. The Federal Trade Commission is a very unique federal agency since they are tasked with rooting out deceptive practices against consumers.

    Oversight from the FTC has been as comprehensive as the SEC and DOJ under Bush.
    When "Laissez-Faire" is the official policy of the US government, then the system breaks down very quickly at every level of commerce and trade.

    The current "Truthiness" approach to commerce will take a hit under the new administration. While everyone is watching the battles over the economy the Obama Agencies will be rewriting regs that focus on protecting the consumer over business. Big business will have much influence over these reg as DiFi had over the selection of the new CIA chief.

    Change is good.

    January 11, 2009 9:14 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    I generally avoid giving credence to assertions that one cultural phenomenon or another is worse than it was way back then in the good old days. Its hard to measure such things and usually reflects the observer's advancing age more than anything else.

    That said, it makes sense that bullshit would be worse these days. As long as profit and wealth are primary cultural values, then pretty much anything goes in the business world, leading to spiraling one-upmanship. Increasing disintermediation and the expanding number of participants who are fully integrated into the global economy make it much less likely that a person or organization will have to deal with someone they shafted again, or that the transgression will be widely known. The vastly disparate resources of corporations and individual consumers means the former are able to martial squads of experts to generate BS that consumers just can't unravel without sacrificing significant portions of their leisure time or family life. And corporations are also able to muscle their way into the legislative process in order reduce the consequences of generating BS.

    Many people are aware of BS coming at them, and view it with a certain amount of ironic detachment at times. But the BS is wall-to-wall 24/7 on all 57 channels, and it becomes difficult to push back on everything. Others are just simply too credulous, which isn't the worst personality failing to have, but it makes them easy victims.

    As for the political world, I think a lot of people capitulated back in 1980 when they voted for "Morning in America." The Republican party has been unleashing torrents of BS ever since that initial success. Mission Accomplished.

    January 11, 2009 9:22 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    The consumer is a little blond girl on the playground and nice Mister Verizon has a puppy in his van and Uncle Citibank wants to show her something silly in his pants. It goes for every single commercial transaction. All of them are predators. Consumer resentment could be channeled with spectacular results.

    January 11, 2009 9:26 AM

    Anonymous michael gotkin said...
    I much prefer associating with
    convicted felons, compulsive gamblers and self acknowledged bullshitters to "honest" folk. We all know exactly where we stand and who we are, its the "honest" guys that always worry me.

    January 11, 2009 9:31 AM

    Of Corsi Lies

    An editorial from the local paper on the new book smearing Obama with lies:

    Return of the swift boater, Editorial, Register Guard: You've got to hand it to Jerome Corsi. Not only did he manage to debut in the No. 1 spot on The New York Times best-seller list with his book-length smear of Barack Obama, but he also has played the media like a Stradivarius.

    Capitalizing on his success four years ago as a key figure in the swift boating of John Kerry, Corsi once again is capturing priceless political coverage that further propels book sales and keeps his grab bag of lies, innuendo and character assassination front and center in the presidential campaign. He has appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" and had major stories and editorials on his book published in dozens of leading U.S. and international newspapers.

    Rarely does such obvious media manipulation succeed so effortlessly without promising exclusive photos of Brangelina's new babies. We take the bait because we must. The media are obliged to vet the charges and countercharges that ping-pong through a presidential campaign.

    As Obama has discovered painfully, deliberately repeated misinformation is difficult enough to combat with irrefutable evidence. Left unchallenged, it can undergo the Joseph Goebbels' transformation - repeat a lie often enough and it becomes truth.

    That's why the Obama campaign wasted no time pushing back hard against Corsi's book, "The Obama Nation," a title that is a deliberate play on the word "abomination."

    Because of the virulent misinformation that has circulated on the Internet about Obama since his rapid rise to the top of the Democratic ticket, his campaign has developed a rumor-debunking Web page called "Fight the Smears." On that page is a link to a 40-page rebuttal to Corsi's 384-page book.

    In addition, John Kerry's political action committee has launched a new Web site called Truth Fights Back to "fight against the right-wing smear machine." It devotes significant space to "making sure Jerome Corsi doesn't get away with his lies unchallenged."

    Corsi shouldn't get away with much of anything unchallenged. He's a staff reporter for the hard-right World Net Daily, where the Web site features an item headlined "Astonishing photo claims: Dead Bigfoot stored on ice" and another that announces "Big Macs fund training for homosexual activists."

    Corsi is well-known for his intemperate remarks. He has referred to Arabs as "ragheads," called Pope John Paul II senile and characterized Islam as "a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion."

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    George Orwell

    Scholarly Publishing, Peer Review and the Internet

    We do well, I think, to maintain a critical frame of mind when considering any new developments in electronic publishing. While a number of avenues for enhancing scholarly communication are opened up through the information superhighway, this does not mean older systems will - or ought - to completely disappear. It is easy to be swept along by the Internet wave and to forget that electronic discourse is still a relatively privileged domain (Luke, 1996). It is crucial that the new information technologies be understood not merely as technical developments, but as social, political, cultural, and economic phenomena (see further, Street, 1984; Lankshear with Lawler, 1987; P. Roberts, 1997c). The problem of escalating costs (discussed near the beginning of the paper) can only be addressed when suitable computers and the appropriate software packages have been paid for. Network charges for accessing and downloading material from the Internet also need to be met. The difficulties university librarians currently face in attempting to store ever-increasing collections of books and serials will certainly be largely overcome as texts are gradually converted to digital form and housed on hard disks (or other devices). Again, however, those fortunate enough afford the best machines - with fast, powerful processors and sophisticated graphics capabilities - have a distinct advantage over scholars and students who can only gain access to more rudimentary and 'outdated' equipment. As many academics know only too well, moving around electronic documents in computers with modest processing power can be a frustratingly slow (and sometimes impossible) process.

    Equally, it would also be unwise to ignore the new developments in information technology, pretending the print publishing practices of the past will or could continue indefinitely. They cannot, and academics should, I believe, be positioning themselves to make the most the Internet as a medium for scholarly communication. Bringing (greater) control of scholarly publishing back to academic communities - a process some (e.g., Okerson, 1991b) believe will be enhanced by the shift to electronic environments - is, in my view, a positive development. Electronic journals and other scholarly forums can provide a means through which the domination of cyberspace by corporate giants is theorised and contested. Decisions have to be made within universities, as well as by politicians and bureaucrats in government departments, about the resourcing of new systems for publishing, circulating and accessing information. Enhancing opportunities to read Internet materials will be vital if staff and students in universities are to stay abreast of the latest findings and theories in their chosen disciplines. Money is, for most universities, always difficult to come by and there will invariably be a shortfall between what academics would like to do and what is practical or financially feasible. Setting up and maintaining rigorous, internationally-refereed electronic journals may, however, be a domain of academic activity worthy of increasing institutional recognition in the future.

    S.R. Acker, n.d. "Space, collaboration, and the credible city: Academic work in the virtual university."

    B. Agger, 1990. The Decline of Discourse: Reading, Writing and Resistance in Postmodern Capitalism. London: Taylor and Francis.

    K. Arnold, 1995a. "The electronic librarian is a verb / the electronic library is not a sentence," Journal of Electronic Publishing, volume 1.

    K. Arnold, 1995b. "The body in the virtual library: Rethinking scholarly communication," Journal of Electronic Publishing, volume 1.

    D. Astle, 1991. "High prices from Elsevier," Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues, NS 15 (December 12).

    J.D. Bolter, 1991. Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    G.D. Bothun, 1997. "Seven points to overcome to make the virtual university viable," Cause/Effect, volume 20, number 2 (Summer).

    D. Brent, 1991. "Oral knowledge, typographic knowledge, electronic knowledge: Speculations on the history of ownership," EJournal, volume 1, number 3 (November).

    N.C. Burbules and B.C. Bruce, 1995. "This is not a paper," Educational Researcher, volume 24, number 8, pp. 12-18.

    N.C. Burbules and T.A. Callister, Jr., 1996. "Knowledge at the crossroads: Some alternative futures of hypertext learning environments," Educational Theory, volume 46, number 1, pp. 23-50.

    K. Burnett, 1993. "The scholar's rhizome: Networked communication issues," Arachnet Electronic Journal on Virtual Culture, volume 1, number 2 (April 21).

    D. Chandler, 1997. "Writing oneself in cyberspace."

    J.A. Cohen, 1993. "The Electronic library in higher education: An Overview and status report," Interpersonal Computing and Technology, volume 1, number 1 (January).

    C. Day, 1994. "Pricing electronic products," Paper presented at the AAUP/ARL Symposium on Electronic Publishing (November).

    C. Day, 1995. "Economics of electronic publishing," Journal of Electronic Publishing, volume 1.

    J.B. Dilworth, 1992. "Credit, compensation and copyright: Owning knowledge and electronic networks," EJournal, (second supplement), volume 1, number 3-2 (September).

    B. Duncan, 1997. "Hypertext and education: (Post?)Structural transformations," Philosophy of Education Society Yearbook.

    L. Fillmore, 1995. "Internet: Literacy's last best hope," Paper presented at Ed-Media: The World Conference on Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, Graz (21 June).

    A.D. Gilbert, 1996. "The Virtual and the real in the idea of a university," Paper presented at the symposium on 'The Virtual University', University of Melbourne (21-22 November).

    B. Green, 1995. "On compos(IT)ing: Writing differently in the post-age," Paper presented at the annual conference of the Australian Association for the Teaching of English, Sydney (January 13-16).

    B. Green and C. Bigum, 1993. "Aliens in the classroom," Australian Journal of Education, volume 37, number 2, pp. 119-141.

    B. Green and C. Bigum, 1996. "Hypermedia or media hype? New technologies and the future of literacy education," In: M. Anstey and G. Bull (editors), The Literacy Lexicon. London: Prentice-Hall.

    C. Greenwood, 1993. Publish or perish: The Ethics of publishing in peer-reviewed journals," Media Information Australia,, volume 68, pp. 29-35.

    J.L. Gresham, Jr.,1994. "From invisible college to cyberspace college: Computer conferencing and the transformation of informal scholarly communication networks," Interpersonal Computing and Technology, volume 2, number 4 (October), pp. 37-52.

    J.-C. Guedon, 1994. "Why are electronic publications difficult to classify? The Orthogonality of print and digital media," In: Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters and Academic Discussion Lists (Association of Research Libraries), 4th edition.

    S. Harnad, 1991. "Post-Gutenberg galaxy: the fourth revolution in the means of production of knowledge," Public-Access Computer Systems Review, volume 2, number 1, pp. 39-53.

    S. Harnad, 1992. "Interactive publication: Extending the American Physical Society's discipline-specific model for electronic publishing," Serials Review, special issue on Economics Models for Electronic Publishing, pp. 58-61.

    S. Harnad, 1995. "Electronic scholarly publication: quo vadis," Serials Review, volume 21, number 1, pp. 70-72.

    S. Harnad, 1996. "Implementing peer review on the Net: Scientific quality control in scholarly electronic journals," In: R.P. Peek and G.B. Newby (editors). Scholarly Publishing: The Electronic Frontier. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 103-118.

    B.L. Hawkins, 1996. "Planning for the national electronic library," Educom Review, volume 31, number 3 (May/June).

    B. Helstein, 1994. "Libraries: once and future," Interpersonal Computing and Technology, volume 2, number 4 (October), pp. 53-67.

    B. Kahin, 1995. "Institutional and policy issues in the development of the digital library," Journal of Electronic Publishing, volume 1.

    R. Kling and L. Covi, 1995. "Electronic journals and legitimate media in the systems of scholarly communication," The Information Society, volume 11, number 4, pp. 261-271.

    E. Korthof, 1995. "Spamming and usenet culture," Bad Subjects, number 18.

    G.P. Landow, 1992. Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    R. Lanham, 1993. The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology and the Arts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    C. Lankshear, 1997. Changing Literacies. Buckingham: Open University Press.

    C. Lankshear with M. Lawler, 1987. Literacy, Schooling and Revolution. London: Falmer Press.

    J. Lemke, 1993. "Education, cyberspace, and change," Arachnet Electronic Journal on Virtual Culture, volume 1, number 1 (March 22).

    J. Lemke, 1996. "Critical literacy for the multimedia future," Interpretations, volume 29, number 2, pp. 1-18..

    T.W. Luke, 1996. "The Politics of cyberschooling at the virtual university," Paper presented at the symposium on 'The Virtual University', University of Melbourne, 21-22 November.

    W.F. Morey, B. Binning and P. Combs, 1996. "Intellectual freedom in the virtual university," Revised version of a paper orginally presented at the Southwest Business Symposium, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, 11-12 April.

    A.M. Odlyzko, 1997. "The Economics of Electronic Journals," First Monday, volume 2, number 8 (August).

    A.M. Odlyzko, 1994. "Tragic loss or good riddance? The impending demise of traditional scholarly journals," Surfaces, volume 4.

    A. Okerson, 1991a. "The Electronic journal: What, whence, and when?," Public-Access Computer Systems Review, volume 2, number 1, pp. 5-24.

    A. Okerson, 1991b. "Back to academia? The Case for American universities to publish their own research," Logos, volume 2, number 2, pp. 106-112.

    A. Okerson, 1994. "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz: or, there is a there there," Surfaces, volume 4.

    A. Okerson, 1996. "University libraries and scholarly communication," In: R. P. Peek and G. B. Newby (editors). Scholarly Publishing: The Electronic Frontier. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 181-199.

    R. P. Peek and J. N. Burstyn, 1991. "In pursuit of improved scholarly communications," In: J. N. Burstyn (editor). Desktop Publishing in the University. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, pp. 99-120.

    R. P. Peek and G. B. Newby (editors). Scholarly Publishing: The Electronic Frontier. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

    J. Peters, 1996. "The Hundred years war started today: An Exploration of electronic peer review."

    M. Peters and C. Lankshear, 1996. "Critical literacy and digital texts," Educational Theory, volume 46, number 1, pp. 51-70.

    M. Peters and P. Roberts (editors), 1998. Virtual Technologies and Tertiary Education. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

    P. E. Peters, 1995. "Networked intellectual property: Brain-ache of the decade," Educom Review, volume 30, number 3 (May/June).

    B. Readings, 1994. "Caught in the Net: Notes from the electronic underground," Surfaces, volume 4, number 1, pp. 4-13.

    M. M. Roberts, 1994. "Why is the Internet so cheap?," Educom Review, volume 29, number 6 (November/December).

    P. Roberts, 1996. "A New academic medium? Scholarly publication and the promise of cyberspace," Sites, volume 33, pp. 68-86.

    P. Roberts, 1997a. "Literacies in cyberspace," SET: Research Information for Teachers, Special issue on Language and Literacy, Item 3.

    P. Roberts, 1997b. "Scholarly life in virtual universities," Keynote address at the AUSNZ conference on 'Virtual Technologies in Tertiary Education: A Vision for New Zealand?', University of Auckland, October.

    P. Roberts, 1997c. "The Consequences and value of literacy: A Critical reappraisal," Journal of Educational Thought, volume 31, number 1, pp. 45-67.

    P. Roberts, 1998. "The Crisis in scholarly publishing: Exploring electronic solutions," Access: Critical Perspectives on Cultural and Policy Studies in Education, volume 17, number 1, pp. 1-16.

    S. Romano, 1996. "Writerly readers: Close readings of close relationships," Computers, Writing, Rhetoric and Literature, volume 2, number 1.

    D. Rooks, 1993. "The Virtual library: Pitfalls, promises, and potential," Public-Access Computer Systems Review, volume 4, number 5, pp.22-29.

    F. Rowland, 1994. "Electronic journals: Neither free nor easy," EJournal, volume 4, number 1.

    M. Ryder, 1995. "Production and consumption of meaning: The Interplay between subject and object in open hypertext representation," Paper presented at the conference 'Semiotics as a Bridge Between the Humanities and the Sciences', Victoria College, University of Toronto, 2-5 November.

    S. Saltrick, 1995. "The Pearl of great price: Copyright and authorship from the middle ages to the digital age," Educom Review, volume 30, number 3 (May/June).

    D. Sewell, 1992. "The Usenet oracle: Virtual authors and network community," Ejournal, volume 2, number 5; see also 1997 revision of this article in First Monday.

    M. Sosteric, 1996. "Electronic journals: The Grand information future?" Electronic Journal of Sociology, volume 2, number 2.

    D.S. Stodolsky, 1993. "Consensus journals: invitational journals based upon peer review," Proceedings of the Nordic Conference on Scientific Journals, Olso: International Peace Research Institute.

    D.S. Stodolsky, 1994. "Telematic journals and organizational control: Integrity, authority and self-regulation," Interpersonal Computing and Technology, volume 2, number 1 (January), pp. 50-63.

    B. Street, 1984. Literacy in Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    W.S. Strong, 1994. "Copyright in the new world of electronic publishing," Paper presented at the workshop Electronic Publishing Issues II, Association of American University Presses annual meeting, Washington, D.C. (17 June).

    G. Taubes, 1996a. "Science journals go wired," Science, volume 271, number 5250 (9 February).

    G. Taubes, 1996b. "Speed of publication - stuck in first gear," Science, volume 271, number 5250 (9 February).

    S.G. Thatcher, 1995. "The Crisis in scholarly communication," Chronicle of Higher Education, (3 March), pp. B1-B2.

    M. Tuttle, 1991. "From the editor," Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues, NS 15 (12 December).

    UCSB Library Newsletter for Faculty, 1996. "Why we buy fewer books and journals: The Continuing crisis in scholarly communication, part II," University of California at Santa Barbara (Spring)

    J. Unsworth, 1996. "Electronic scholarship, or, scholarly publishing and the public," In: R. Finneran (editor). The Literary Text in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.

    H.R. Varian, 1996. "The Information economy: How much will two bits be worth in the digital marketplace?" Educom Review, volume 31, number 1 (January/February).

    T. Wilson, 1995. "In the beginning was the Word...": social and economic factors in scholarly electronic communication," Aslib Proceedings, volume 47, pp. 195-202.

    Eprints by Stevan Harnad on Online Research Communication and Open Access

    Censorship resources

    The File Room is an illustrated archive on censorship which you can browse and update.

    Project Censored explores and publicizes censorship in our society by locating stories about significant issues of which the public should be aware, but is not, for one reason or another.

    Project Censored Canada identifies and publicizes under-reported stories, informally auditing Canada's national news media and their implicit claims to be 'watchdogs of society,' informing the public about significant issues. PCC also conducts a systematic 'negative content analysis' of Canada's national news media. The 1995 Top 10 Under-Reported Stories and 1995 Junk Food Stories are available.

    Banned Books On-line has links to books that have been censored and a description of when, where, and why each was suppressed.

    Also see the alt.censorship usenet newsgroup.

    Alternet's Culture Wars highlights right wing censorship efforts. AlterNet is an independent information service providing subscribers with alternative news, views, information and ideas from hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and leading public interest organizations. AlterNet information is also available via gopher.

    The Institute for First Amendment Studies focusses on a variety of First Amendment threats, including censorship, posed by the so-called Religious Right.

    Blacklisted is a public radio show about the blacklisting of hollywood actors and writers during the 1940's and 1950's. The show is produced by award-winning producer Tony Kahn, has a star-studded cast, and is distributed by NPR.

    The American Civil Liberties Union is the foremost civil liberties group in the United States. Among other issues, it combats censorship by governmental and non-governmental groups.

    The Chronicle of Freedom of Expression in Canada is a chronology of 20th-century censorship by Canadian officials, plus other resources.

    The Committee to Protect Journalists monitors abuses against the press and promotes international press freedom. CPJ has a full-time staff of reporters and regional experts devoted to documenting and responding to violations of press freedoms around the world.

    The Index on Censorship Index Index is a country by country listing of censorship and free speech abuses around the world.

    Fight Music Censorship is an Internet petition campaign to prevent the United States Congress from passing lyric censorship laws. Mass M.I.C. (the Massachusetts Music Industry Coalition) is a non-profit organization of musicians, fans, promoters, music media, and music industry professionals dedicated to fighting music censorship promoting and protecting the freedom of musical expression in Massachusetts.

    Music Censorship - Right or Wrong lists some censored music and includes links to pro- and anti-censorship organizations.

    Other lists of resources buying info The Media Monopoly

    The 50, 26, 20... Corporations That Own Our Media

    Of the 1,700 daily papers, 98 percent are local monopolies and fewer than 15 corporations control most of the country's daily circulation. A handful of firms have most of the magazine business, with Time, Inc. alone accounting for about 40 percent of that industry's revenues.

    Corporate Ownership of the Media FAIR Resources

    Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting What's Wrong with the News

    Independent, aggressive and critical media are essential to an informed democracy. But mainstream media are increasingly cozy with the economic and political powers they should be watchdogging. Mergers in the news industry have accelerated, further limiting the spectrum of viewpoints that have access to mass media. With U.S. media outlets overwhelmingly owned by for-profit conglomerates and supported by corporate advertisers, independent journalism is compromised.

    Ultimately, FAIR believes that structural reform is needed to break up the dominant media conglomerates, establish independent public broadcasting, and promote strong, non-profit alternative sources of information.

    Check out these links for more of FAIR's analysis of the media business:


    English language versions of Islamic newspapers: Al-Ahram, Cairo, state-owned; Daily Star, Lebanon; Gulf Times, Qatar; Daily Jang, Pakistan, excellent reporting on Afghan war.

    Other sources for regional news: Al-Jazeera, the now-notorious Pan-Islamic Qatar TV station; in Arabic, but until the U.S. bombs all of their reporters and facilities, the pictures alone can tell lots that we don't otherwise see or hear about both the news stories and Islamic news priorities. As for critics that claim Al-Jazeera's coverage is propagandistic because it favors one side's view: they should look in the mirror. Al-Jazeera has shown Americans in a humane light far more often than American TV has shown -- well, any Iraqis at all, actually; AllAfrica Global Media, good news coverage of Islamic Africa; Ha'Aretz, left-leaning daily Israeli newspaper, good for domestic Israeli news and a spectrum of opinion on the occupation of Palestine and other Middle Eastern matters far broader, actually, than what passes for debate on Israel/Palestine in mainstream U.S. media; The Islamic Republic News Association, based in Teheran, tends to be a fundamentalist viewpoint;, an impressive pan-Islamic site (Arabic & English) of news, opinion, and culture; Middle East Media & Research Institute, translates articles from Farsi and Arabic media.


    Daily newspapers & TV: BBC; Daily Telegraph; The Guardian (until a few years ago, the Manchester Guardian), Britain's leading left-leaning daily, also publishes London Observer on Sundays; The Independent, home of the immortal Robert Fisk, the single best English-language Middle East reporter in the world; The Daily Mirror, home of John Pilger, who gives Fisk a solid run on both experience and on eloquent opposition to America's neo-colonialism; Irish Times; Le Monde Diplomatique, a separate online magazine published by Le Monde, the prestigious Paris daily. It's not the daily (that's only available in French), but still a good source for European perspectives on international issues.

    Other Western voices: DebkaFile, an excellent Website devoted to Middle East intelligence run by a former Economist foreign affairs writer; scores of links to sites on Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Eureasian counties; Institute for War and Peace Reporting, a British outfit that ranges from the Balkans throughout Asia, but especially valuable for the former Soviet republics; Media Workers Against War, originally formed after 9/11 by disgruntled BBC and Guardian employees scrutinizing British media coverage of the Afghan invasion, has since morphed into becoming, as well, a British, with news on much of the global anti-war movement; European (as opposed to Pacific) edition of Stars and Stripes, the daily newspaper of the U.S. Armed Forces. Not just the military "line" -- the Pentagon figured out ages ago that providing an honest reflection of what men (and now women) in uniform care about is in the long run far more useful than printing a house organ that refuses to acknowledge reality. This is war news stripped of the jingoism and feel-good fluff, and from military contractor scandals to battlefield (and, probably, occupation) difficulties, you're far more likely to read about it here than stateside. Oh, and if you want to support the troops, you can find out what they actually care most about -- like getting some toilet paper into Kuwait... Wombat International News, a Japanese site with a stunning number of links to news coverage around the world, including heavy coverage of U.S. adventurism.
    Wire Services: Try accessing wire service articles, such as Reuters or Associated Press, before they've been edited by their local or national newspaper editors. They're posted on AOL, Yahoo, MSN, and a host of other commercial internet service providers. Because they're originally written for a wide variety of media outlets (with the same article often running internationally), the original wire service articles have been miles above the versions eventually printed in the NY Times, Wash. Post, and other major daily newspapers: they're timely, they contain body counts, and they contain "unofficial" quotes from US military men on the front lines that often contradict the glowing quotes from Pentagon spokesmen.

    ALTERNATIVE U.S. MEDIA: AlterNet: syndicates articles to newspapers, magazines, and web sites around the country, but also carries a lot of great original content; Libertarian-oriented, utterly priceless source of news and opinion on militarism and the resistance to it; Common Dreams; Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, an invaluable media watchdog group; Independent Media Center, activism-oriented, with links to over 90 local indymedia sites around the world, including Israel & Palestine (a site which is very good). Can be stunning in its on the spot coverage of protest, but the open publishing policies of many of its affiliates can mean its quality varies wildly in reliability; In These Times magazine, updated more frequently than the print publication; Mother Jones' magazine; their daily site tends to be harder-edged and not as focused on long investigative pieces as the monthly print version; The Nation magazine, also with many features that don't make it to print; The Onion, an often brilliant satirical newspaper that's more painfully truthful than the garbage in your local chain-owned daily; The Progressive magazine; Tom Paine; Utne Magazine's site is updated daily with little of the new agey lifestyle material the print monthly uses to spice newsstand sales; the political site of Working Assets -- you found it!; Yellow Times, like Utne is essentially a very good clipping service; Z Magazine and ZNet, also with a widely read European edition. Chomsky's a close buddy, and ZNet tends to be more focused on activism and radical alternatives than most of the above outlets.

    As mentioned, this is necessarily incomplete, with no slight intended for a number of fine sites not listed here. I've run such lists in the past, I'm always looking for more suggestions -- and the web generates good new ones far faster than any one person can keep track. Send 'em along and I'll run a follow-up list as the opportunity allows.


    Ecological disaster

    Disinformation and demonizing by war propaganda: making negotiated settlement more difficult.

    Negative effect on non-proliferation

    Disregard of UN and unilateral military actions

    NATO attacks on civilans and destruction of cultural heritage and civilian infrastructure

    DECIPHERING THE BALKAN ENIGMAUSING HISTORY TO INFORM POLICY Table of Contents by William T. Johnsen. Attempt of more or less honest analyses of the complex issue that helps to understand views of a better educated part of the US establishment.

    Finding a solution to the Kosovo crisis must begin by rejecting false analogies to the traumas of the past by Henry Kissinger.

    The fatal flaws of NATO intervention Lt.Gen Satish Nambiar, First Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations Forces deployed in the former Yugoslavia 03 Mar92 to 02 Mar 93, analyzes the errors of the recent past in Yugoslavia.

    Media Ownership

    Who Owns What "Who owns what" search from Columbia Journalism Review

    Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting New York Times Resources

    Who Owns What The New York Times Company

    The New York Times is owned by the New York Times Co., which also owns the Boston Globe, eight television stations, two radio stations, several magazines and several non-media ventures. The New York Times Co. also co-produces the International Herald Tribune with its ostensible competitor, the Washington Post Co.

    Murdoch media empire

    Who Owns What The Washington Post Company Washington Post Co. 1150 15th Street, NW Washington D.C. 20071 (202) 334-6000. Newspapers The Washington Post The Herald (Everett, WA) Gazette Newspapers, Inc. (community weekly newspapers and a monthly business publication, in Maryland...


    Press-Service of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan

    Most dictionaries define the word 'clan' as a phenomenon characteristic of feudal society. A clan is a community of people united by blood and kinship links. Clans were given the name of their heads, who were the highest authority for their members and represented their members' interests outside the confines of the relatively closed life of a tribal community. It was the clan that defended its members, providing for them protection and assistance.

    Over time, new social and economic formations emerged and, in consequence, relationships among people have changed as well. But although the relationships have changed, they have not disappeared completely. Just as the fossil remains of a dead plant may sometimes be discovered in a rock, so in modem society and its social and cultural characteristics there is a clear trace of the distant past. This is what has happened to clans.

    In the present-day world it is hardly possible to find a society with a traditional and classic clan division. But sometimes it presents itself in a modified, 'modernized' form. In many countries blood relations are not as strong as they were. However, they have been replaced by links of another community, another identity including territorial and national groups. It seems that there is nothing wrong with descendants of this or that local area who have settled down elsewhere, in another part of the country, helping their fellow kinsmen.

    It seems quite natural for people to provide mutual aid to each other when they are related to some extent by kinship. But when, through groups based on kinship, regional or ethnic principles are developed (mostly informal) in governmental or other structures, prompted by their narrow interests, and these groups promote their interests over the interests of the state to the detriment of the common cause and nationwide interests; when in order to achieve their goals such groups plan to move up their members into the existing state power or other sorts of hierarchy, then it becomes dangerous.

    We have to speak about regionalism and clan influence causing a real threat to the stability and security of society. At present, there is no serious or profound analysis of these phenomena. They must not be considered as a characteristic feature exclusive to underdeveloped countries or countries in their transitional period. Some economically developed Western countries are also susceptible to them.

    Regionalism and clan influence are the signs of a narrow, ethnoregional type of mentality, which reduces the diversity, complexity and interrelationship of the world to the size of one area, one people, one large expanded family.

    What are the reasons for the vitality of such phenomena and their continuous reproduction in the existing surroundings, and how are they revealed in our environment?

    Clan and countrymen groups in government structures are formed on an ethnic basis. The ultimate goal of a clan is to push its members as far as possible up into the ranks of the state hierarchy. The feature which distinguishes members of a clan is the same birthplace. This is important; it is not shared professional skills, nor a shared world outlook, nor shared spiritual interests, but simply a shared birthplace.

    So, regional self-consciousness, in other words people's perception of themselves exclusively in terms of the place where they were born and grew up, in fact provides the essential ethno-social basis for regionalism and clan influence. Obviously, there are still serious grounds for stating that in some parts of Central Asia regional self- awareness outstrips national self-awareness.

    It should be noted that this situation is largely typical of peoples who are in the process of ethnic consolidation, when the essential features and characteristics of the ultimate form of ethnic unity, a nation, are being shaped.

    An analysis of the ethno-social situation in some countries reveals that ethnic diversity exists when separate groups within one nation are distinguished from each other not only in their dialect, but also in their economic and cultural organization. This creates the conditions for regionalism and clan influence.

    Historically Central Asia has no tradition of building statehood on the basis of national criteria. All the states that existed in the region before Russian colonization were established mainly on the basis of dynastic or territorial principles (Khanates of Bukhara, Kokand and Khiva), It is characteristic that by the time the latter Khanates were established, numerous settled and nomadic tribes were living in the area where there had previously been centralized states and empires.

    The disconnection of one nation, its division into several Khanates - accompanied by ruinous wars - reinforced and retained feudal separation right up to the Soviet period.

    The establishment of Soviet power in the region, its striving for 'internationalisation' and standardization of all national features led to a situation where the differences between the ethnic communities, and even within one nation between different groups, did not disappear but obtained new impetus.

    It was precisely state socialism with its typically rigid planned economy, state-owned property and centralized distribution of benefits that created fertile soil for the existence and full-scale expansion of regionalism and clan influence.

    In the USSR clan influence and regionalism acquired a quality of another kind. The rigidity and sometimes severity of the centrally planned economy and the state-ownership of property became fertile soil. Managers and administrators of various levels and ranks were the actual distributors of material and other kinds of benefits. That is why the local authorities and heads of economic sectors, enterprises and trading establishments were in pursuit of their patronage.

    A personal recommendation by the acquaintance of an official or closely related person to him - a relative, a friend, a countryman - was the magic word that opened the doors of his office. In his turn, such an administrator needed a reliable and loyal environment to maintain and reinforce his position in power. The principle of personal loyalty became one of the criteria of his staff selection policy. The leitmotiv of this policy is the words of one of the characters from Russian literature: 'Why not take care of our own dear little man?'

    This system of relations in society, where the interests of a separate group of people or of separate areas dominate the common interest, is extremely corrupt and dangerous. It results in social tensions in society and poses a threat to the state - to its stability, integrity and capacity for progress. During the Soviet period, when all sorts of fantastic ideas held sway, there were various conflicts caused by the rival interests of opposing clans. These were traditionally solved by using powerful repressive machinery, while the propaganda machine screened everything behind a thick veil of silence.

    Striving for the elimination of such a corrupt legacy is one of the primary strategic tasks of our state. Necessary prerequisites grew up and gained strength when independence became a reality. That is why it is a priority of the highest political importance to urge the need energetically to cut short regionalism and the formation of cliques which are hampering our common cause. We must continue to emphasize that there is only one Uzbek nation in the world, and there are no national differences between the descendants of Khorezm, Ferghana, or Surkhandarya: they are all Uzbeks.

    The most dangerous delusion is to elevate territorial differences to an absolute. It is not regional self-consciousness that ought to determine the national self-identification of an individual: a person must, first and foremost, perceive himself as a citizen of Uzbekistan, and only then as an inhabitant of Khorezm, Samarkand or the Ferghana valley. This in no way lessens the significance of our individual 'native areas' - the locality and region where each person was born and grew up - or the particularity of their way of life and system of values.

    However, it should be borne in mind that an exaggerated local patriotism and its aggressive advancement impede the consolidation of the nation, inevitably lead to internal separatism and cultural isolation, and give rise to a series of other threats to the stability and security of state and society.

    What dangers do these phenomena entail? What negative consequences may they lead to? All these are not idle questions for our young independence; the answers to these questions will, to a great extent, determine the destiny of our country's citizens.

    First and foremost, the growth of regional tendencies may lead to the self-isolation of the regions, the weakening and break-up of economic links, and, consequently, to the economic decline of a region. This, in turn, can only impair the national economy.

    Frequently, it is accompanied by the emergence and rapid growth of centrifugal forces inside the state.

    Separatist trends in the regions pose a real threat to the integrity of the state. In seeking a dominant position and trying to achieve egoistic goals, a clan or a region may become a breeding ground for different formations pretending to play a nationwide role of political opposition in the framework of the entire state. The struggle for power between such groups expressing itself in extremist forms also poses a direct threat to the territorial integrity of the state and to its very existence.

    Political organizations, including those in opposition, should develop within national patterns of society. This will serve as a guarantee that the leaders and members of such organizations regard as of paramount importance the interests of the whole state and nation, and not just the part of them to which they belong because of their origin.

    Another potential danger of regionalism and separatism is the risk of interethnic conflicts caused by local and clan contradictions. People of Central Asia's indigenous nations inhabit all five states of the region. The population of these states is predominantly composed of the same ethnic groups (Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Kyrgyzes, Turkmens, Karakalpaks, Uyghurs and others) in varying proportions, In each of the Republics there are areas where people of one or other non-titular nation prevail; for example the Uzbek areas in Kazakhstan, in the southern part of the Osh Region of Kyrgyzstan, in the Leninabad region of Tajikistan, in the Dashaus region of Turkmenistan; the large Kazakh settlements in Tashkent and the Jizzak region; the predominantly Russian areas in the northern part of Kazakhstan, and so forth.

    During the complicated period of radical social transformation, national minorities may feel frustrated and uncertain about their future in a particular country. And if these feelings have been formed against a backdrop of growing regionalism and interclan conflict, which have resulted in increasing discrimination in economic and political spheres, then the risk of acute interethnic tension grows sharply, eventually to the point of uncontrolled disturbances and violence. Recent history can show many examples of conflicts and tragic events that have emerged for such reasons in post-Soviet territory.

    As for the threats that are posed by regionalism and interclan conflict it is necessary to bear in mind that these phenomena are destructive in their nature; but history has many precedents of external forces using these levers to achieve their own geopolitical goals and mercenary interests against states that are weakened for different reasons.

    History also shows that clan leaders and champions of local interests, who seek to use external forces for their own sake, end up becoming not only hostages to the will of these external forces, but also victims who are readily sacrificed by them for justifying their frequently specious actions.

    An awareness of the complexity and topicality of this problem, along with a clear idea of what can be done to avoid the formation of a dangerous critical mass, will prevent the conversion of regionalism and clan influence from potential risk to real threat.

    The principle of proclaiming the priority of universal human values, of the national interests of Uzbekistan and of the nationwide laws governing the entire territory of the country should be at the core of the work by present-day and future politicians. A recognized unity of corporate (businessmen, intelligentsia, persons related to agriculture, etc.) nationwide interests, but not their kinship-based, territorial or ethnic affiliation, should become the foundation for the organizational consolidation of the individuals in our society.

    A balance of interests in all regions, and of all ethnic and social groups, should be constantly sought. A legitimate mechanism for promoting and implementing this balance will act as a barrier to block the emergence and expansion of selfish interests.

    The policy of cadres selection in the state distribution sector, which is still existing during this transition period of economic, social and regional policy, should ensure equal possibilities for access to and use of state-owned resources to all areas, all national and social minorities.

    Local authorities need greater independence. Knowledge of the speci6c features of their region enables their officials to maximize material and human resources and to improve the implementation of existing reforms by taking account of local economic, demographic and other peculiarities. To charge local authorities with a significant level of responsibility for the reforms will engage their initiative to the full and allow local resources to be incorporated.

    At the same time, greater independence of economic entities and local governments must be combined with a higher personal responsibility of managers and officials to achieve an increase in local budgets, and to discover the most feasible solutions to local economic and social problems. However, unconditional recognition of the priority of national interests should be the basis for such regionalism.

    Extending democratic reform and reinforcing the supremacy of universal human values in people's consciousness in society as a whole (a scrupulous work), and struggling with the problems caused by those who espouse ethnic and national self-isolation, are primary conditions for securing the national independence, sovereignty and stability of Uzbekistan, and for averting the danger of regionalism and clan-influence.

    To attach the significance of nationwide policy to the spiritual development and enlightenment of the nation and the people. To secure a dialectic combination of national pride and respect for the history, culture and dignity of other nations. To educate and continuously strengthen in society's consciousness the feeling of complicity in and responsibility for all that is happening in the modern world. To educate the young and future generations in a spirit of understanding and awareness of the necessity to assimilate fully the achievements of world history and culture along with a thorough knowledge of the history of their own state and people. All these are absolutely indispensable conditions if we are to face our future with confidence and rest easy for our children's Fate and well-being.



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