> Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2008 06:34:07 +0100
> From: Willard McCarty
> Subject: remaking universities in the image of business
> Those here concerned with the future of our universities might wish to read and to circulate a paper by Robert Laughlin, Professor of Physics at Stanford and Nobel Laureate (1998), "Truth, Ownership, and Scientific Tradition", Physics Today 55.12 (December 2002), available at ftp://large.stanford.edu/publications/2002/p01jul02/p01jul02.pdf. Following is a brief extract. (See http://large.stanford.edu/ for more on Laughlin; note in particular his book, A Different Universe.).
>> Although outright fabrication of data by scientists is rare, scientific deception is commonplace. The academic who refuses to exaggerate in proposals, for example, will not get grants. The industrial worker who explains the core of his technical niche to someone else will jeopardize his job. Even at Bell Labs in its heyday it was common for the scientists working in the public domain to be ignorant of matters deeply important to the company even while being exhorted to be "relevant" because the knowledgeable technical people would not reveal the problems to them. The mandate to generate peoperty forces us to deceive. Members of Congress and managers in the NSF and other federal agencies would do well to reflect on this effect and understand that some fraction of the industrial-style research portfolo of which they are so proud is simply lies.... In this sense ownership, more accurately the secrecy it necessitates, is not the engine of progress but its enemy. One cannot both expose knowledge to scrutiny and keep it for one's self to sell. It has to be be one or the other. This process is why making over universities in the image of business is such a terrible idea. The great power of university research is its openness and the inherent truthfulness -- stemming from this openness -- of the knowledge it generates.
> One could collect many similar statements from those who in the estimation of society at large exemplify what universities are supposed to be for, who advise in the strongest possible terms
> against the path down which we appear to be going. I think also of John Polanyi (Nobel Prize in chemistry, 1986), "In Search of the Passionate Idea", http://www.utoronto.ca/jpolanyi/public_affairs/.