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The Crime of Reason and the Closing of the Scientific Mind
May 24, 2011
Robert Laughlin received the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics. He is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Physics at Stanford.
A variety of trends in legislation, patents, and advertising restrict or even criminalize the use of knowledge. One stark example: the work of a medical researcher being halted by fee demands from the owner of a gene patent. And the stakes are being raised by the influence of the Internet, technology, and fast-advancing research in genetics. Indeed, control of the Internet (regularly at issue in legal battles about music and video piracy) and debates over the ethics of cloning are examples brimming with relevance and alarm in daily life. At issue is the conflict between the needs of our society to be safe and to be economically prosperous on the one hand, and a human right that you thought you had on the other, which is the right to better yourself by learning. But there’s no such civil right, there’s no such law.