“John Foxe speaks on ‘The Impact Factor: a useful metric or the poison science’ in a segment of the ‘How society-owned journals handle your paper’ event at the FENS 2020 Virtual Forum.”
Abstract: In this paper I will outline a worry that citizen science can promote a kind of transparency that is harmful. I argue for the value of secrecy in citizen science. My argument will consist of analysis of a particular community (herpers), a particular citizen science platform (iNaturalist, drawing contrasts with other platforms), and my own travels in citizen science. I aim to avoid a simple distinction between science versus non-science, and instead analyze herping as a rich practice [MacIntyre, 2007]. Herping exemplifies citizen science as functioning simultaneously within and outside the sphere of science. I show that herpers have developed communal systems of transmitting and protecting knowledge. Ethical concerns about secrecy are inherently linked to these systems of knowledge. My over-arching aim is to urge caution in the drive to transparency, as the concepts of transparency and secrecy merit close scrutiny. The concerns I raise are complementary to those suggested by previous philosophical work, and (I argue) resist straightforward solutions.
“A week or so ago, the head of the US Patent and Trademark Office, Andrei Iancu, who has been an extreme patent maximalist over the years, insisted that there was simply no evidence that patents hold back COVID treatments. This is a debate we’ve been having over the past few months. We’ve seen some aggressive actions by patent holders, and the usual crew of patent system supporters claiming, without evidence that no one would create a vaccine without much longer patent terms….
But just to highlight how ridiculous Iancu’s statements were, just days later, Pfizer, Regeneron, and BioNTech — all working on COVID treatments (including the antibody cocktail that President Trump took from Regeneron) — were all sued for patent infringement for their COVID treatments….
So, it certainly appears that patents are getting in the way of some COVID-19 treatments….”