Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Deafening Silence....

'Knowledge is power'...or so the saying goes. One of the most liberating, uplifting aspects of modernity (or post modernity depending on your viewpoint) - is the way knowledge circulates, and of course the advent of the internet in its own way empowers us all. There are threats to the 'knowledge' available on the internet however and they have been well documented and raged against. President Obama doesn't just have his finger ever close to a 'red button of death' - it's only a reach away to the proposed internet 'kill switch'. To be honest, he doesn't need any new legislative power to kill the internet in the USA - it already exists. The Communications Act of 1934 gives him all the power he needs to stop you and I chatting should he get fed up with us;

Upon proclamation by the President that there exists war or a threat of war, or a state of public peril or disaster or other national emergency, or in order to preserve the neutrality of the United States, the President, if he deems it necessary in the interest of national security or defense, may suspend or amend, for such time as he may see fit, the rules and regulations applicable to any or all stations or devices capable of emitting electromagnetic radiations within the jurisdiction of the United States”

But there's an even greater danger in my opinion. Our knowledge is fed to us via the media (and shaped by the media too) - but even they can only feed us media pies made from the 'raw meat' they source. Much of what we need to know to survive on this god-forsaken planet emanates from science and scientists. What if you could 'shut them down? Silence them?' What if that very 'meaty' finding a scientist wants to feed everyone is devoured by the Government without us ever even getting a whiff of it? In very large part it is already happening.

The Government of Canada has been quite intentionally suppressing scientists and the important findings they have come up with for years now. It's shocking, unacceptable. How on earth this piece of 'policy' slipped through the Canadian system I do not know as I have always found Canadians to be fiercely libertarian. We've been Muzzled  

Ok, so one country keeping their scientist's quiet doesn't quite warrant a 'the global sky is falling' conspiracy theory from me - but it's not just the Canadians. Only two years ago the British Government 'dismissed' neutral scientists from their drug advisory boards because they did not return findings which sat nicely with the Governments own 'policy' view on certain drugs (This in its own way also impacts upon research funding). So outraged were the scientists that their research was being ignored that mass resignations followed - did it matter to the British Government? Apart from some short term embarrassment, no, not really. It was business as usual. Of course there are deeper and murkier scientific tales of woe - The eminent British Biological Warfare Scientist Dr David Kelly dared to question Britain's dossier on Iraq's 'weapons of mass destruction' - then after 'going missing' for a while, turns up dead in a field by means of suicide - that's possibly understandable - the 'Public Inquiry' into his death will bring things to light we all thought - 'Oh yeah - in an unprecedented move the Government decided the 'Public Inquiry' findings were to remain secret for 70 years'. Fortunately, public outrage and pressure has finally had the findings released - and they raise more questions than they answer.

And today in steps the NSABB - The who? The US National Security Advisory Board for Biotechnology. So where do they fit in? Well, once again it seems, they want scientists and science to 'shut up'. They don't want anyone knowing about 'Bird Flu' - they don't want the finer details published by scientists, discussed publicly by scientists and God forbid that we, the great unwashed, should ever understand what the scientists are talking about - we might just engage in biological terrorism if we understood it all... It's just the flu

I sincerely hope David Shukman, the Science editor over at the BBC doesn't mind me quoting sections of what he had to say here - but I thought he summed it up succinctly...
These talks go to the heart of a fundamental debate over whether scientists should operate openly and publish all their findings - which is a basic principle of modern research - or whether some subjects are so sensitive that some key details should only be available to a carefully vetted audience.
The researchers passionately believe that the best way to tackle the threat of a pandemic is to understand how the virus can mutate, and that only by releasing their results in scientific journals will progress be made.
Ranged against them are experts in security who argue that too much information in the public domain will create another weapon for terrorists.
It's a highly sensitive dispute - the scientists fear that any kind of censorship will set a precedent of government control over their work.

You know, there was a time when any scientist who knew how to make a nuclear weapon would be shadowed by the Secret Service in whichever country they lived in. Now so many people know how to make a nuclear bomb it's impossible to devote that kind of manpower to protecting or watching them. But I can't for the life of me remember when the last 'rogue' nuclear device went off...let me think....oh yeah...never.

When the open dissemination of academic findings is stifled, stilted or silenced - then we have truly entered the era of fascism.

This isn't about protecting us from 'terrorism' or harm - it's more shots in the war for control of our minds and our view of reality.

(Tomorrow if I blog about what a great family game 'Twister' is, or that kittens are cuddly - you'll know they got to me.)




  1. We are FUBAR. BOHICA and BOAKYAG. Our nearest big town is buying a tank. The salesman said, "If a group of terrorists decide to shoot up a shopping mall in a town like Keene, wouldn't you rather be prepared?" We're buying the weapons of mass submission.

  2. You want answers?
    I want the truth!
    You can't handle the truth!

    I'm pretty sure if we had a clue what was really going on, there'd be an end to civilization.

  3. Very funny article about "Harper's Government of Canada" in the news this week (speaking of Canada and infringing on rights):

    Canada has gone to the rats since Harper got "his" majority.