1998-01-09 - Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality (fwd)

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From: Jim Choate <ravage@ssz.com>
To: cypherpunks@ssz.com (Cypherpunks Distributed Remailer)
Message Hash: 105deb4c981a9b23fe2687fa72035abc5b89a789847b229a466178805edccf51
Message ID: <199801090201.UAA06101@einstein.ssz.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1998-01-09 02:38:04 UTC
Raw Date: Fri, 9 Jan 1998 10:38:04 +0800

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From: Jim Choate <ravage@ssz.com>
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 1998 10:38:04 +0800
To: cypherpunks@ssz.com (Cypherpunks Distributed Remailer)
Subject: Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality (fwd)
Message-ID: <199801090201.UAA06101@einstein.ssz.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text

Forwarded message:

> Subject: Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality 
> Date: Thu, 08 Jan 98 16:42:43 -0800
> From: "Vladimir Z. Nuri" <vznuri@netcom.com>

> every respondent to my post has missed the key points.

Not quite. Of course I don't agree with all of them either. There are two
rules you should consider:

 -  It's ok to have an open mind, just don't let it slosh out on the

 -  Understanding a view is not equivalent to supporting a view.

You might also want to consider that two opposing views might very well
*both* be right...it depends on where you sit on the fence as to what the
tree looks like.

> >Scientists even in schools and foundations are often secretive, too.
> >
> >The notion that "science" is about blabbing one's latest discoveries or
> >theories is overly simplistic. Many scholars and scientists choose not to
> >publicize their work for years, or decades, or, even, never.
> if so, they are not SCIENTISTS. a key aspect of SCIENCE is publishing
> results. science cannot advance without it. name me one scientist
> who did not publish an important result, or is considered a good
> scientists for doing so!

I must agree here. If a technologist (ie one who studies science for
profit, hence creating a technology) chooses not to publish their results
that is fine. However, a scientist is one who studies nature and its
interactions, profit is not and should not be a motive. Simplistic or not;
in fact some things are better understood when simplified (ala the
scientific principle). A scientist has an obligation to discuss and publish
their results for other scientists (and even technologist) when they are
reasonably sure their results will stand up to indipendant verification (a
critical issue in science, not in technology however).

Don't be confused by Timy's claim to be a scientist, he is a technologist at
heart. Many of his views and beliefs are motivated by issues of control *not*

> >Consider Andrew Wiles, Princeton math professor, and the prover of Fermat's
> >Last Theorem. He labored in secrecy for many years, only going public when
> >he felt his results were complete. (As it turned out, they were not, and he
> >needed another year or two to fill in some gaps.)
> but he PUBLISHED his results, he gave a LECTURE on his findings. I am
> not saying that secrecy and science are mutually exclusive in this way.
> secrecy is a useful tool, I am not in general against secrecy. but
> secrecy can be ABUSED, and our government is ABUSING it. 

Further, the *reason* he was so secretive was because of the history of
failed attempts and early 'proofs' that later failed. He was motivated by
getting it right and ruining his reputation; not because he thought proving
Fermat's Last Theorem would provide him riches and laurels for the remainder
of his mortal coil.

> have you
> been following that Clinton was just fined $286,00 for lying to
> a judge?

Which means, per the Constitution, that he should be removed from office.
He broke a public trust and that means he looses any public station he
currently has and is barred from future office.

>  I could give
> >dozens of examples of where the open literature either did not exist or was
> >not used...and science still advanced.

Of course, this is a specious argument. If it was already in the literature
it wouldn't be science advancing (learning something that wasn't known
before). The whole point to science is to understand and explain what we see
and don't see that creates the cosmos we inhabit. Now if your point is that
Intel taking some trade secret only they are aware of and using this to make
quicker chips is science then you don't know a damn thing about science.

> but science eventually published the results.

It is *required* for doing 'science', it isn't for doing 'technology'. As a
matter of fact a little perusal of history demonstrates that science
requires open and unhindered dialog while technology requires closed
channels of communcication and mechanisms of control. A perfect current
example is the move to cloan humans. The guy, Creed?, is right "you can't
stop science"; you can however stop technology and businesses do every day.
Until that oocyte goes viable it's science, from that point on it's

> human endeavor. how can you argue with something so obvious?

You don't know Timmy very well do you...

> all this is uninteresting to me-- I was making a moral point in an
> essay that is obviously unintelligable to most people here. its my
> big mistake in this world, to pretent that morality plays a role.

Actualy your mistake is assuming that there is *one* morality. Don't fret
though. Just about everyone wants to jam everyone else into their nice
little easily understood molds. It makes it much easier to justify their
actions to themselves and potentialy to others if they get them to swallow
even once.

> of how things should be? things ARE, PERIOD. good lord, no wonder 
> Ayn Rand is so uninfluential.

Reasonable men don't change the world. If we aren't motivated by our ethics
and belief that our actions can change the world into the way it 'should be'
then what is the motive? Money? Even that is a veiled mechanism to make the
world the way we think it should be (ie we have more money or social station
than currently endowed with). Changing the world is what *makes* life worth
living. The question *is* why do you want to change the world and *who* gets
to profit by it?

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