Planet Trumped

The accession to power of the likes of Donald Trump is by far the greatest catastrophe — moral and environmental — to befall the planet since WW II, perhaps ever.

With control of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court all ceded to Trump, all the US consitution’s intended checks-and-balances are check-mated and Trump’s malign destructiveness is unchecked.

Since the free and open media helped get him there, it is unlikely that they will be able to constrain him now.

Bottomless ignorance, incompetence, pettiness and malevolence have been empowered limitlessly.

And by 2020 immense, irreversible damage will have been done.

Even a violent revolution could not prevent it, just make it worse.

Only a quick impeachment from one of the pending court cases against him can mitigate the damage (though Pence et al are not much better).

Planet Trumped

The accession to power of the likes of Donald Trump is by far the greatest catastrophe — moral and environmental — to befall the planet since WW II, perhaps ever.

With control of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court all ceded to Trump, all the US consitution’s intended checks-and-balances are check-mated and Trump’s malign destructiveness is unchecked.

Since the free and open media helped get him there, it is unlikely that they will be able to constrain him now.

Bottomless ignorance, incompetence, pettiness and malevolence have been empowered limitlessly.

And by 2020 immense, irreversible damage will have been done.

Even a violent revolution could not prevent it, just make it worse.

Only a quick impeachment from one of the pending court cases against him can mitigate the damage (though Pence et al are not much better).

Exchange with President of HUngarian Academy of Sciences

From: Lovász László
Subject: Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 3:38:45 AM GMT-4

Dear Colleagues:

I address this letter to Honorary and External members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Several of you have resigned from ourAcademy, protesting the policies of the Hungarian government and assuming that the Academy did not work to mitigate these. This is a very serious loss for us. I understand their concerns, and respect their decision, but I would like to make some comments about the Academy’s position.

Democracy in Hungarian society is still evolving and sadly it has been and still is deeply divided between – roughly speaking – a liberal and conservative side. Throughout society, including intellectuals, this leads to opposing camps, and the tribal mentality often dampens the critical balanced approach that could be expected from such people.

The Academy is one of the very few places where such divisions nevertheless enable creative activities, and where people voting for either side are willing and able to cooperate for the benefit of science and education. I was nominated and elected by all members on both sides of the line, and I promised to maintain this fruitful cooperation. From this it follows that I should not make any political statements in the name of the Academy, since I was not elected on any political platform. Any political statement would be opposed by a considerable fraction of the members.

Of course, it is not always easy to draw the line between political and moral concerns. On issues when politicians from both sides advocate one-bit answers, we try to express a scientifically supported, balanced opinion. This requires rigorous work and advice from experts. For example, our Academy did carry out a thorough and (I hope) unbiased study of the composition of migrants, and with some recommendations, released it to the government; this is now publicly available. On the also hotly debated issue of public education, we did not take sides on whether it should be run by the national or local governments, but started more than a dozen research groups to design education methodology based on real experiments performed in real schools. An extensive volume about the status of the Hungarian legal system has just been published by our research institute (this is also freely available from our web site). We publish well-researched (and often critical) studies about many other legal, sociological, educational, economic issues of our society.

We must cooperate with the government (which was reelected with more than 50% of the votes cast) on a number of issues like research funding (we maintain a research network of institutes employing about 3000 researchers), education, water management and other problems raised by climate change, just to mention a few.

I regret the resignation of several of our external and honorary members. I hope very much that those who have resigned will maintain their close relation with the Academy, their collaboration with Hungarian scientists. I also hope that your expert and wise advice will help the Academy to work for progress and ensure that decisions are made on scientific basis. I want to thank those external and honorary members who expressed their support for a policy as outlined above.

I am at your disposal should you have any questions, and so are your collaborators in research, as well as the leaders of the section of your research area.

Laszlo Lovasz
President, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

From: Stevan Harnad
Subject: Reply to Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 9:05:09 AM GMT-4
To: Lovász László

Dear Professor Lovasz,

Thank you for your message to External and Honorary Members.

I regret that I cannot agree that the underlying issues are merely a matter of political differences of opinion between between liberals and conservatives in an evolving democracy. 

Nor can I agree that ? in the name of keeping science separate from politics ? there is nothing more the Academy can do. I think the Open Letter of the Internal Members and Doctors indicates what the Academy can do.

But I fully understand the difficult position you are in, in view of the fact that the Internal Members? salaries and pensions as well as their research grants are under the control of the Orban regime.

Please believe that our resignations and critique are not intended to harm the Academy but to help it.

This is a reflection of my view only. I do not speak for the other resignees.

Yours sincerely,
Stevan Harnad

From: Stevan Harnad
Subject: Fwd: Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 8:34:23 AM GMT-4
To: Thomas Jovin, Israel Pecht, Torsten Wiesel, Daniel C.Dennett

Dear colleagues,

The… letter, sent today by the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to all the External and Honorary Members, is unfortunately a confirmation of the degree to which the Academy is now under the thumb of the Orban regime. It recites the all-too-familiar ? and highly misleading ? talking points of the Orban regime, marshalled for every occasion: 

(1) Hungary and the Academy have democracy and pluralism 

(2) the issues cited by the resignees are merely political differences between liberals and conservatives

(3) the current government is a reflection of the free will of the majority of the populace

(4) an Academy of Science must be independent of politics

(There is also some muted indication that the President?s and the Academy?s hands are tied because they are dependent on the government for support and subsidies. This is certainly true. But the rest is quite the opposite of the truth.)

1. Democracy in Hungary is not evolving, it is devolving, being systematically dismantled by the Orban regime.

2. The differences among the members of the Academy, and in the general population, are not differences between liberals and conservatives, but between proponents of democracy and proponents (or fellow-travellers) of autocracy.

Opposing the Orban regime are not just liberals but centrists and conservatives, although they are all collectively labelled as liberals (and communists and traitors) by the Orban regime. Even the neo-nazi Jobbik party, which is as far right as one can be, is opposed to Orban?s kleptocracy.

3. The current government is not a reflection of the free will of the populace: It is the reflection of a population under duress from an ever more autocratic and corrupt machine that is controlling their media, their education, their livelihoods, their health, their laws, their tax money and their elections. None of this is a liberal/conservative matter.

4. In a democracy, an Academy of Sciences should be independent from politics. In an increasingly flagrant autocracy, an Academy of Sciences, like every individual and institution, should be opposing the autocracy in any way it can.

The many international, nonpartisan reports in the database linked to our call for resignations contain some of the abundant and definitive evidence of the ever-growing anti-demcratic actions of the Orban regime.

The signatories of the Internal Members’ and Doctors? call for the Academy to investigate and openly debate these actions. This is the way the Academy can do its part in trying to restore freedom and democracy in Hungary. Not in trying to reassure External Members that these are all just partisan political differences on which science is best served by remaining mute.

I close with an illustration of how the familiar tactics of the Orban regime are again palpable in Professor Lovasz?s letter (without a doubt vetted and partly also redacted, by the Orban regime?s minders):  

One of the signatories of the 2011 Open Letter about the “philosopher affair? (which had been a microcosm and harbinger of what was to ensue in the country as a whole in the next 5 years) had been successfully persuaded to withdraw his signature ? by receiving a barrage of the apparently polarized views on the issue (government press and police harassment campaigns against Academy members critical of the Orban regime)?  that this was just a partisan political matter on which he could not make a judgment one way or the other. The ensuing five years have since demonstrated to the world that the polarization is not between liberals and conservatives in a democracy, but between opponents and collaborators of a malign and sinking autocracy. This time this prominent academician resigned. I doubt that Professor Lovasz?s letter will persuade him to withdraw his resignation, or to rue it.

Yours sincerely,
Stevan Harnad

Exchange with President of HUngarian Academy of Sciences

From: Lovász László
Subject: Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 3:38:45 AM GMT-4

Dear Colleagues:

I address this letter to Honorary and External members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Several of you have resigned from ourAcademy, protesting the policies of the Hungarian government and assuming that the Academy did not work to mitigate these. This is a very serious loss for us. I understand their concerns, and respect their decision, but I would like to make some comments about the Academy’s position.

Democracy in Hungarian society is still evolving and sadly it has been and still is deeply divided between – roughly speaking – a liberal and conservative side. Throughout society, including intellectuals, this leads to opposing camps, and the tribal mentality often dampens the critical balanced approach that could be expected from such people.

The Academy is one of the very few places where such divisions nevertheless enable creative activities, and where people voting for either side are willing and able to cooperate for the benefit of science and education. I was nominated and elected by all members on both sides of the line, and I promised to maintain this fruitful cooperation. From this it follows that I should not make any political statements in the name of the Academy, since I was not elected on any political platform. Any political statement would be opposed by a considerable fraction of the members.

Of course, it is not always easy to draw the line between political and moral concerns. On issues when politicians from both sides advocate one-bit answers, we try to express a scientifically supported, balanced opinion. This requires rigorous work and advice from experts. For example, our Academy did carry out a thorough and (I hope) unbiased study of the composition of migrants, and with some recommendations, released it to the government; this is now publicly available. On the also hotly debated issue of public education, we did not take sides on whether it should be run by the national or local governments, but started more than a dozen research groups to design education methodology based on real experiments performed in real schools. An extensive volume about the status of the Hungarian legal system has just been published by our research institute (this is also freely available from our web site). We publish well-researched (and often critical) studies about many other legal, sociological, educational, economic issues of our society.

We must cooperate with the government (which was reelected with more than 50% of the votes cast) on a number of issues like research funding (we maintain a research network of institutes employing about 3000 researchers), education, water management and other problems raised by climate change, just to mention a few.

I regret the resignation of several of our external and honorary members. I hope very much that those who have resigned will maintain their close relation with the Academy, their collaboration with Hungarian scientists. I also hope that your expert and wise advice will help the Academy to work for progress and ensure that decisions are made on scientific basis. I want to thank those external and honorary members who expressed their support for a policy as outlined above.

I am at your disposal should you have any questions, and so are your collaborators in research, as well as the leaders of the section of your research area.

Laszlo Lovasz
President, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

From: Stevan Harnad
Subject: Reply to Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 9:05:09 AM GMT-4
To: Lovász László

Dear Professor Lovasz,

Thank you for your message to External and Honorary Members.

I regret that I cannot agree that the underlying issues are merely a matter of political differences of opinion between between liberals and conservatives in an evolving democracy. 

Nor can I agree that ? in the name of keeping science separate from politics ? there is nothing more the Academy can do. I think the Open Letter of the Internal Members and Doctors indicates what the Academy can do.

But I fully understand the difficult position you are in, in view of the fact that the Internal Members? salaries and pensions as well as their research grants are under the control of the Orban regime.

Please believe that our resignations and critique are not intended to harm the Academy but to help it.

This is a reflection of my view only. I do not speak for the other resignees.

Yours sincerely,
Stevan Harnad

From: Stevan Harnad
Subject: Fwd: Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 8:34:23 AM GMT-4
To: Thomas Jovin, Israel Pecht, Torsten Wiesel, Daniel C.Dennett

Dear colleagues,

The… letter, sent today by the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to all the External and Honorary Members, is unfortunately a confirmation of the degree to which the Academy is now under the thumb of the Orban regime. It recites the all-too-familiar ? and highly misleading ? talking points of the Orban regime, marshalled for every occasion: 

(1) Hungary and the Academy have democracy and pluralism 

(2) the issues cited by the resignees are merely political differences between liberals and conservatives

(3) the current government is a reflection of the free will of the majority of the populace

(4) an Academy of Science must be independent of politics

(There is also some muted indication that the President?s and the Academy?s hands are tied because they are dependent on the government for support and subsidies. This is certainly true. But the rest is quite the opposite of the truth.)

1. Democracy in Hungary is not evolving, it is devolving, being systematically dismantled by the Orban regime.

2. The differences among the members of the Academy, and in the general population, are not differences between liberals and conservatives, but between proponents of democracy and proponents (or fellow-travellers) of autocracy.

Opposing the Orban regime are not just liberals but centrists and conservatives, although they are all collectively labelled as liberals (and communists and traitors) by the Orban regime. Even the neo-nazi Jobbik party, which is as far right as one can be, is opposed to Orban?s kleptocracy.

3. The current government is not a reflection of the free will of the populace: It is the reflection of a population under duress from an ever more autocratic and corrupt machine that is controlling their media, their education, their livelihoods, their health, their laws, their tax money and their elections. None of this is a liberal/conservative matter.

4. In a democracy, an Academy of Sciences should be independent from politics. In an increasingly flagrant autocracy, an Academy of Sciences, like every individual and institution, should be opposing the autocracy in any way it can.

The many international, nonpartisan reports in the database linked to our call for resignations contain some of the abundant and definitive evidence of the ever-growing anti-demcratic actions of the Orban regime.

The signatories of the Internal Members’ and Doctors? call for the Academy to investigate and openly debate these actions. This is the way the Academy can do its part in trying to restore freedom and democracy in Hungary. Not in trying to reassure External Members that these are all just partisan political differences on which science is best served by remaining mute.

I close with an illustration of how the familiar tactics of the Orban regime are again palpable in Professor Lovasz?s letter (without a doubt vetted and partly also redacted, by the Orban regime?s minders):  

One of the signatories of the 2011 Open Letter about the “philosopher affair? (which had been a microcosm and harbinger of what was to ensue in the country as a whole in the next 5 years) had been successfully persuaded to withdraw his signature ? by receiving a barrage of the apparently polarized views on the issue (government press and police harassment campaigns against Academy members critical of the Orban regime)?  that this was just a partisan political matter on which he could not make a judgment one way or the other. The ensuing five years have since demonstrated to the world that the polarization is not between liberals and conservatives in a democracy, but between opponents and collaborators of a malign and sinking autocracy. This time this prominent academician resigned. I doubt that Professor Lovasz?s letter will persuade him to withdraw his resignation, or to rue it.

Yours sincerely,
Stevan Harnad

Exchange with President of HUngarian Academy of Sciences

From: Lovász László
Subject: Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 3:38:45 AM GMT-4

Dear Colleagues:

I address this letter to Honorary and External members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Several of you have resigned from ourAcademy, protesting the policies of the Hungarian government and assuming that the Academy did not work to mitigate these. This is a very serious loss for us. I understand their concerns, and respect their decision, but I would like to make some comments about the Academy’s position.

Democracy in Hungarian society is still evolving and sadly it has been and still is deeply divided between – roughly speaking – a liberal and conservative side. Throughout society, including intellectuals, this leads to opposing camps, and the tribal mentality often dampens the critical balanced approach that could be expected from such people.

The Academy is one of the very few places where such divisions nevertheless enable creative activities, and where people voting for either side are willing and able to cooperate for the benefit of science and education. I was nominated and elected by all members on both sides of the line, and I promised to maintain this fruitful cooperation. From this it follows that I should not make any political statements in the name of the Academy, since I was not elected on any political platform. Any political statement would be opposed by a considerable fraction of the members.

Of course, it is not always easy to draw the line between political and moral concerns. On issues when politicians from both sides advocate one-bit answers, we try to express a scientifically supported, balanced opinion. This requires rigorous work and advice from experts. For example, our Academy did carry out a thorough and (I hope) unbiased study of the composition of migrants, and with some recommendations, released it to the government; this is now publicly available. On the also hotly debated issue of public education, we did not take sides on whether it should be run by the national or local governments, but started more than a dozen research groups to design education methodology based on real experiments performed in real schools. An extensive volume about the status of the Hungarian legal system has just been published by our research institute (this is also freely available from our web site). We publish well-researched (and often critical) studies about many other legal, sociological, educational, economic issues of our society.

We must cooperate with the government (which was reelected with more than 50% of the votes cast) on a number of issues like research funding (we maintain a research network of institutes employing about 3000 researchers), education, water management and other problems raised by climate change, just to mention a few.

I regret the resignation of several of our external and honorary members. I hope very much that those who have resigned will maintain their close relation with the Academy, their collaboration with Hungarian scientists. I also hope that your expert and wise advice will help the Academy to work for progress and ensure that decisions are made on scientific basis. I want to thank those external and honorary members who expressed their support for a policy as outlined above.

I am at your disposal should you have any questions, and so are your collaborators in research, as well as the leaders of the section of your research area.

Laszlo Lovasz
President, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

From: Stevan Harnad
Subject: Reply to Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 9:05:09 AM GMT-4
To: Lovász László

Dear Professor Lovasz,

Thank you for your message to External and Honorary Members.

I regret that I cannot agree that the underlying issues are merely a matter of political differences of opinion between between liberals and conservatives in an evolving democracy. 

Nor can I agree that ? in the name of keeping science separate from politics ? there is nothing more the Academy can do. I think the Open Letter of the Internal Members and Doctors indicates what the Academy can do.

But I fully understand the difficult position you are in, in view of the fact that the Internal Members? salaries and pensions as well as their research grants are under the control of the Orban regime.

Please believe that our resignations and critique are not intended to harm the Academy but to help it.

This is a reflection of my view only. I do not speak for the other resignees.

Yours sincerely,
Stevan Harnad

From: Stevan Harnad
Subject: Fwd: Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 8:34:23 AM GMT-4
To: Thomas Jovin, Israel Pecht, Torsten Wiesel, Daniel C.Dennett

Dear colleagues,

The… letter, sent today by the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to all the External and Honorary Members, is unfortunately a confirmation of the degree to which the Academy is now under the thumb of the Orban regime. It recites the all-too-familiar ? and highly misleading ? talking points of the Orban regime, marshalled for every occasion: 

(1) Hungary and the Academy have democracy and pluralism 

(2) the issues cited by the resignees are merely political differences between liberals and conservatives

(3) the current government is a reflection of the free will of the majority of the populace

(4) an Academy of Science must be independent of politics

(There is also some muted indication that the President?s and the Academy?s hands are tied because they are dependent on the government for support and subsidies. This is certainly true. But the rest is quite the opposite of the truth.)

1. Democracy in Hungary is not evolving, it is devolving, being systematically dismantled by the Orban regime.

2. The differences among the members of the Academy, and in the general population, are not differences between liberals and conservatives, but between proponents of democracy and proponents (or fellow-travellers) of autocracy.

Opposing the Orban regime are not just liberals but centrists and conservatives, although they are all collectively labelled as liberals (and communists and traitors) by the Orban regime. Even the neo-nazi Jobbik party, which is as far right as one can be, is opposed to Orban?s kleptocracy.

3. The current government is not a reflection of the free will of the populace: It is the reflection of a population under duress from an ever more autocratic and corrupt machine that is controlling their media, their education, their livelihoods, their health, their laws, their tax money and their elections. None of this is a liberal/conservative matter.

4. In a democracy, an Academy of Sciences should be independent from politics. In an increasingly flagrant autocracy, an Academy of Sciences, like every individual and institution, should be opposing the autocracy in any way it can.

The many international, nonpartisan reports in the database linked to our call for resignations contain some of the abundant and definitive evidence of the ever-growing anti-demcratic actions of the Orban regime.

The signatories of the Internal Members’ and Doctors? call for the Academy to investigate and openly debate these actions. This is the way the Academy can do its part in trying to restore freedom and democracy in Hungary. Not in trying to reassure External Members that these are all just partisan political differences on which science is best served by remaining mute.

I close with an illustration of how the familiar tactics of the Orban regime are again palpable in Professor Lovasz?s letter (without a doubt vetted and partly also redacted, by the Orban regime?s minders):  

One of the signatories of the 2011 Open Letter about the “philosopher affair? (which had been a microcosm and harbinger of what was to ensue in the country as a whole in the next 5 years) had been successfully persuaded to withdraw his signature ? by receiving a barrage of the apparently polarized views on the issue (government press and police harassment campaigns against Academy members critical of the Orban regime)?  that this was just a partisan political matter on which he could not make a judgment one way or the other. The ensuing five years have since demonstrated to the world that the polarization is not between liberals and conservatives in a democracy, but between opponents and collaborators of a malign and sinking autocracy. This time this prominent academician resigned. I doubt that Professor Lovasz?s letter will persuade him to withdraw his resignation, or to rue it.

Yours sincerely,
Stevan Harnad

Exchange with President of HUngarian Academy of Sciences

From: Lovász László
Subject: Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 3:38:45 AM GMT-4

Dear Colleagues:

I address this letter to Honorary and External members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Several of you have resigned from ourAcademy, protesting the policies of the Hungarian government and assuming that the Academy did not work to mitigate these. This is a very serious loss for us. I understand their concerns, and respect their decision, but I would like to make some comments about the Academy’s position.

Democracy in Hungarian society is still evolving and sadly it has been and still is deeply divided between – roughly speaking – a liberal and conservative side. Throughout society, including intellectuals, this leads to opposing camps, and the tribal mentality often dampens the critical balanced approach that could be expected from such people.

The Academy is one of the very few places where such divisions nevertheless enable creative activities, and where people voting for either side are willing and able to cooperate for the benefit of science and education. I was nominated and elected by all members on both sides of the line, and I promised to maintain this fruitful cooperation. From this it follows that I should not make any political statements in the name of the Academy, since I was not elected on any political platform. Any political statement would be opposed by a considerable fraction of the members.

Of course, it is not always easy to draw the line between political and moral concerns. On issues when politicians from both sides advocate one-bit answers, we try to express a scientifically supported, balanced opinion. This requires rigorous work and advice from experts. For example, our Academy did carry out a thorough and (I hope) unbiased study of the composition of migrants, and with some recommendations, released it to the government; this is now publicly available. On the also hotly debated issue of public education, we did not take sides on whether it should be run by the national or local governments, but started more than a dozen research groups to design education methodology based on real experiments performed in real schools. An extensive volume about the status of the Hungarian legal system has just been published by our research institute (this is also freely available from our web site). We publish well-researched (and often critical) studies about many other legal, sociological, educational, economic issues of our society.

We must cooperate with the government (which was reelected with more than 50% of the votes cast) on a number of issues like research funding (we maintain a research network of institutes employing about 3000 researchers), education, water management and other problems raised by climate change, just to mention a few.

I regret the resignation of several of our external and honorary members. I hope very much that those who have resigned will maintain their close relation with the Academy, their collaboration with Hungarian scientists. I also hope that your expert and wise advice will help the Academy to work for progress and ensure that decisions are made on scientific basis. I want to thank those external and honorary members who expressed their support for a policy as outlined above.

I am at your disposal should you have any questions, and so are your collaborators in research, as well as the leaders of the section of your research area.

Laszlo Lovasz
President, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

From: Stevan Harnad
Subject: Reply to Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 9:05:09 AM GMT-4
To: Lovász László

Dear Professor Lovasz,

Thank you for your message to External and Honorary Members.

I regret that I cannot agree that the underlying issues are merely a matter of political differences of opinion between between liberals and conservatives in an evolving democracy. 

Nor can I agree that ? in the name of keeping science separate from politics ? there is nothing more the Academy can do. I think the Open Letter of the Internal Members and Doctors indicates what the Academy can do.

But I fully understand the difficult position you are in, in view of the fact that the Internal Members? salaries and pensions as well as their research grants are under the control of the Orban regime.

Please believe that our resignations and critique are not intended to harm the Academy but to help it.

This is a reflection of my view only. I do not speak for the other resignees.

Yours sincerely,
Stevan Harnad

From: Stevan Harnad
Subject: Fwd: Letter from President Lovasz
Date: October 24, 2016 at 8:34:23 AM GMT-4
To: Thomas Jovin, Israel Pecht, Torsten Wiesel, Daniel C.Dennett

Dear colleagues,

The… letter, sent today by the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to all the External and Honorary Members, is unfortunately a confirmation of the degree to which the Academy is now under the thumb of the Orban regime. It recites the all-too-familiar ? and highly misleading ? talking points of the Orban regime, marshalled for every occasion: 

(1) Hungary and the Academy have democracy and pluralism 

(2) the issues cited by the resignees are merely political differences between liberals and conservatives

(3) the current government is a reflection of the free will of the majority of the populace

(4) an Academy of Science must be independent of politics

(There is also some muted indication that the President?s and the Academy?s hands are tied because they are dependent on the government for support and subsidies. This is certainly true. But the rest is quite the opposite of the truth.)

1. Democracy in Hungary is not evolving, it is devolving, being systematically dismantled by the Orban regime.

2. The differences among the members of the Academy, and in the general population, are not differences between liberals and conservatives, but between proponents of democracy and proponents (or fellow-travellers) of autocracy.

Opposing the Orban regime are not just liberals but centrists and conservatives, although they are all collectively labelled as liberals (and communists and traitors) by the Orban regime. Even the neo-nazi Jobbik party, which is as far right as one can be, is opposed to Orban?s kleptocracy.

3. The current government is not a reflection of the free will of the populace: It is the reflection of a population under duress from an ever more autocratic and corrupt machine that is controlling their media, their education, their livelihoods, their health, their laws, their tax money and their elections. None of this is a liberal/conservative matter.

4. In a democracy, an Academy of Sciences should be independent from politics. In an increasingly flagrant autocracy, an Academy of Sciences, like every individual and institution, should be opposing the autocracy in any way it can.

The many international, nonpartisan reports in the database linked to our call for resignations contain some of the abundant and definitive evidence of the ever-growing anti-demcratic actions of the Orban regime.

The signatories of the Internal Members’ and Doctors? call for the Academy to investigate and openly debate these actions. This is the way the Academy can do its part in trying to restore freedom and democracy in Hungary. Not in trying to reassure External Members that these are all just partisan political differences on which science is best served by remaining mute.

I close with an illustration of how the familiar tactics of the Orban regime are again palpable in Professor Lovasz?s letter (without a doubt vetted and partly also redacted, by the Orban regime?s minders):  

One of the signatories of the 2011 Open Letter about the “philosopher affair? (which had been a microcosm and harbinger of what was to ensue in the country as a whole in the next 5 years) had been successfully persuaded to withdraw his signature ? by receiving a barrage of the apparently polarized views on the issue (government press and police harassment campaigns against Academy members critical of the Orban regime)?  that this was just a partisan political matter on which he could not make a judgment one way or the other. The ensuing five years have since demonstrated to the world that the polarization is not between liberals and conservatives in a democracy, but between opponents and collaborators of a malign and sinking autocracy. This time this prominent academician resigned. I doubt that Professor Lovasz?s letter will persuade him to withdraw his resignation, or to rue it.

Yours sincerely,
Stevan Harnad

Hungarian Academy of Sciences: External Members’ Call for Resignations in Protest

Hungarian Academy of Sciences:
External Members’ Call for Resignations
to Protest Hungarian Government?s Assault on Democracy

In Hungary today democracy is under a dark cloud that is seriously threatening freedom of expression, human rights and even the rule of law. As External Members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS), we are witnessing with alarm and dismay the relentless and unchecked deterioration of social freedom and justice under Hungary?s current government. We feel that the Academy has the responsibility and the historical duty to raise its voice in defense of freedom and justice in Hungary. Failure to do so would be to miss its higher calling.

The undersigned External Members have accordingly chosen to resign from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to protest the Hungarian government?s assault on democracy but also to support and underscore the fundamental mission of the Academy and its members, as expressed unambiguously in the Open Letter from 28 Internal Members to the President of the Academy on October 14th 2016 requesting:

“that the Academy [should] initiate substantive discussion as soon as possible about the anti-democratic developments in Hungary, especially freedom of the press, and that the Academy should take part in the exploration of issues important for the whole of society?

We extend here a general call for External Members of the Academy to join us in resigning in protest against the Orban regime and its repressive policies. This call is addressed only to External Members, not to Internal Members, who might otherwise risk a fate comparable to that of the staff of Hungary?s largest independent newspaper, Népszabadság, often critical of the government, whose operation was abruptly terminated without warning or justification on October 8th 2016.

This open manifesto will appear online at the Hungarian Spectrum website (hosted by Éva Balogh, Professor of History Emerita of Yale University and archived by the US Library of Congress). External Members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences are invited to resign by sending an explicit letter of resignation by email to the President of the Academy, Professor Lászlo Lovász lovasz.laszlo@titkarsag.mta.hu along with a CC to editor@hungarianfreepress.com. Once your identity and intention to resign have been confirmed, your name will be added to the list below.

(For those who would like to consult a comprehensive, detailed legal analysis of the Orban regime?s depredations from 2010 until May 2016, an expert report is available here [link to come].)

Dennett, Daniel, Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy & Co-Director Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University (resigned HAS 17 October 2016)
Harnad, Stevan, Professor of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal, Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Southampton, UK (resigned HAS 8 October 2016)
Jovin, Thomas, Director Emeritus, Laboratory of Cellular Dynamics, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (resigned HAS 8 October 2016)
Pecht, Israel, Dr. Morton and Anne Kleiman Professor of Chemical Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science (resigned HAS 11 October 2016)
Wiesel, Torsten, Nobel Laureate, Physiology or Medicine, 1981, President Emeritus, Rockefeller University (resigned HAS, 17 October 2016)

Open Letter to Professor László Lovász, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Open Letter to Professor László Lovász, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

[hyperlinks added, not in original letter]

14 October, 2016

Dear Professor Lovász,

We, the undersigned members and doctors of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences [HAS], representing a variety of world-views and academic interests, hereby wish to express our concern about the antidemocratic processes that have been taking place in Hungary in the last few years, especially the threat to freedom of the press. We consider it highly damaging to amend Hungary?s constitution to diminish the role of checks and balances that is normal in democratic states and to exploit the refugee crisis to arouse xenophobia.

In addition to the deep crisis in education, research and the health system, we are particularly troubled about the nationalization of the public media and their use as government mouthpieces, along with the liquidation of the existing independent press, as in the restructuring of Origo, and, in the last few days, the closure of Népszabadság.

We consider it important that, as a prominent embodiment and forum of our nation?s intellectual sphere, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences should be playing an investigative role as well as implementing substantive debate about these matters of concern for the whole of society. Our concerns are particularly reinforced by the letters that have been sent to the President of the Academy by external and honorary members in the last few days. The significance of the issues raised is underscored by the fact that these respected scholars, concerned for Hungary?s future, have elected to resign as members to protest the inaction on the part of our Academy.

We hence respectfully request that the President see to it as soon as possible that the leadership of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences initiates discussion toward committing itself to launching scholarly investigations as well as conducting debates concerning these urgent issues facing Hungarian society.

As our letter concerns important matters of public interest, we are simultaneously making it public.

Yours sincerely

(signatories in alphabetical order)

Ács Pál, literary historian, HAS Doctor
Bazsa György, physical chemist, HAS Doctor
Csányi Vilmos, ethologist, HAS Member
Erdélyi Ágnes, philosopher, HAS Doctor
Erős Ferenc, psychologist, HAS Doctor
Falus András, biologist, HAS Member
Ferge Zsuzsa, sociologist, HAS Member
Györfi László, mathematician, HAS Member
Jánossy András, physicist, HAS Member
Juhász István, mathematician, HAS Member
Kardos Julianna, chemist, HAS Doctor
Katona Gyula, mathematician, HAS Member
Kertesi Gábor, economist, HAS Doctor
Kertész János, physicist, HAS Member
Kornai András, mathematician, linguist, HAS Doctor
Krausz Tamás, historian, HAS Doctor
Laki Mihály, economist, HAS Doctor
Mellár Tamás, economist, HAS Doctor
Nagy László, biologist, HAS Member
Radnóti Sándor, philosopher of art, HAS Doctor
Sali Attila, mathematician, HAS Doctor
Sarkadi Balázs, biologist, HAS Member
Solymosi Frigyes, chemist, HAS Member
Somlai Péter, sociologist, HAS Doctor
Szalai Erzsébet, sociologist, HAS Doctor
Tóth Bálint, mathematician, HAS Doctor
Váradi András, biochemist, HAS Doctor
Vicsek Tamás, physicist, HAS Member

[Translated by David R. Evans]

Repositories vs. Quasitories, or Much Ado About Next To Nothing

?I have a feeling that when Posterity looks back at the last decade of the 2nd A.D. millennium of scholarly and scientific research on our planet, it may chuckle at us?. I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind as to what the optimal and inevitable outcome of all this will be: The Give-Away literature will be free at last online, in one global, interlinked virtual library.. and its [peer review] expenses will be paid for up-front, out of the [subscription cancelation] savings. The only question is: When? This piece is written in the hope of wiping the potential smirk off Posterity’s face by persuading the academic cavalry, now that they have been led to the waters of self-archiving, that they should just go ahead and drink!? (Harnad, 20th century)

Richard Poynder notes that 17 years on, Institutional Repositories (IRs) are still half-empty of their target content: peer-reviewed research journal articles.

He is right. Most researchers are still not doing the requisite keystrokes to deposit their peer-reviewed papers (and their frantic librarians’ efforts are no substitute).

The reason is that researchers’ institutions and funders still have not got their heads around the right deposit mandates.

They will, but they will not get historic credit for having done it as soon as they could have.

Richard also says authors are more willing to deposit in Academia.edu and ResearchGate.

Not true. In percentage terms those central Quasitories are doing just as badly as IRs. But their visible recruiting efforts (software that keeps reminding and cajoling authors) is clever, and something along the same lines should be adopted as part of funder and especially institutional deposit mandates. (Keystrokes are keystrokes, whether done for one’s own institutional repository or a third party Quasitory.)

The biggest Quasitory of all is the Virtual Quasitory called Google Scholar (GS). GS has mooted most of the fuss about interoperability because it full-text-inverts all content. It’s a nuclear weapon, but it is in no hurry. Unlike institutions and funders, GS is under no financial pressure. And unlike publishers, it does not have the ambition or the need to capture and preserve publishers’ obsolete, parasitic functions (even though, unlike publishers, GS is in an incomparably better position to maximise functionality on the web). GS is waiting patiently for the research community to get its act together.

Institutions and funders are not just sluggish in adopting and optimizing their deposit mandates but they are making Faustian Little Deals with their parasites, prolonging their longstanding dysfunctional bondage.

Can’t blame publishers for striving at all costs to keep making a buck, even if they no longer really have any essential product, service or expertise to offer (other than managing peer review). Publishers’ last resort for clinging to their empty empire is the OA embargo — for which the antidote — the eprint-request button (the IR’s functional equivalent of Academia.edu and ResearchGate — is already known; it’s just waiting to be used, along with effective deposit mandates.

As to why it’s all taking so excruciatingly long: I’m no good at sussing that out, and besides, Alma Swan has forbidden me even to give voice to my suspicion, beyond perhaps the first of its nine letters: S.

Vincent-Lamarre, P, Boivin, J, Gargouri, Y, Larivière, V & Harnad, (2016) Estimating Open Access Mandate Effectiveness: The MELIBEA Score. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) 67 (in press)

Swan, A; Gargouri, Y; Hunt, M; & Harnad, S (2015) Open Access Policy: Numbers, Analysis, Effectiveness. Pasteur4OA Workpackage 3 Report.

Harnad, S (2015) Open Access: What, Where, When, How and Why. In: Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: An International Resource. eds. J. Britt Holbrook & Carl Mitcham, (2nd edition of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics, Farmington Hills MI: MacMillan Reference)

Harnad, S (2015) Optimizing Open Access Policy. The Serials Librarian, 69(2), 133-141

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2014) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

Harnad, S (2014) The only way to make inflated journal subscriptions unsustainable: Mandate Green Open Access. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog 4/28

Brexit for UK Institutional Repositories?

This exchange on jisc-repositories (about abandoning institutional repositories for Elsevier’s “PURE” and/or for CRISes) is so outrageous that I could not resist a pause in my solemn self-imposed silence:

(1) I will assume (out of charity) that George McGregor was being supremely ironic when he quipped that Elsevier “Single handily inspired the global Open Access movement” and that

(2) Elsevier’s Alicia Wise has a tin ear for irony and took it as a compliment — and a cue for some free advertising.

(3) If UK universities are foolish and thoughtless enough to heed the siren call of “PURE” and again let in Elsevier’s latest Trojan Horse (instead of just coupling CRIS functionality with their IRs) then (as in some other recent supremely foolish UK decisions) they will get exactly what’s coming to them.

See: Elsevier’s PURE: self-interest and exploitation

My instinct tells me wiser (sic) heads will prevail (but I’ve been over-optimistic before…)

Stevan Harnad
Erstwhile Archivangelist Seconded to Higher Calling