[Coral-List] Educating the masses---or NOT: embargoed publications

Alan E. Davis lngndvs at gmail.com
Wed Aug 6 11:37:47 EDT 2008

Relative to the current threads re. educating "the masses."  I am a high
school teacher in Micronesia, where most of the excitement about reaching
the masses would have little or no impact.  We hope we are reaching
tomorrow's fishermen, hoping to convince people to embrace the concept of
Marine Protected Areas that seem so illogical to fishermen today, but that
ironically were the basis of traditional resource management on at least
many of the islands.  I teach my students---whose textbooks are often
written for american kids---about the contributions of automobile exhaust to
global warming, and the link to the reef's decline.  But I cannot seriously
propose that if the islanders of Micronesia avoid driving automobiles and
driving outboard craft, it will have an important impact upon the global
warming scenario.  Likewise, or contrariwise, how will  educating the masses
about the links of driving to work in an SUV to coral reefs result in any
meaningful impact on coral reefs?  COral reefs are, however, a key link, a
charismatic ecosystem that people maybe can relate to and maybe reach a
better understanding of the impacts of the daily lives of each of us on our

That is not my message today, however.  Earlier I followed a link on an
interesting site, http://researchblogging.org, to an article that was
coincidentally timed to be published in our most highly esteemed Science
Magazine, to an article entitled "One-Third of Reef-Building Corals Face
Elevated Extinction Risk from Climate Change and Local Impacts" authored by
39 scientists among whom number once recognizes many names he may respect.
I think it is obvious that these men and women are devoted to the concepts
engendered in this article, and, by implication, in the current thread.

HOWEVER, even in this day of broadening attitudes of publishers towards Open
Access publication of scientific research reports, I was rudely astonished
once again to be confronted, when I clicked on  "Read the Full Text" with
the following message: "Subscribe/Join AAAS or Buy Access to This Article to
View Full Text. ."  !!!!!!!!!  Furthermore, I was advised that I could
purchase "24 hours access to this Science article for US $10.00 from your
current computer".  Pretty cheap compared with the 52.00 I would have to
pony up for articles in some journals.  JStor even tries to coerce me into
paying for articles that are available for free on the web sites of the
publishers themselves!  Of course, the NOT masses are largely located near
or at Universities or libraries where Science can be read for free.  Another
one of life's little ironies.

Of course none of this is news to anyone on this list.   It strikes me,
however, that concealed within the clamour for more appeal to the masses,
are built in ironies of many kinds, and implicit, unrecognized biases or
many sorts.  I attended the 7th International Coral Reef Symposium on Guam,
and noted that the many scientists who were discussing weighty global
issues, in authoritative tone, were each, almost every one, driving rented
vehicles, eating at the fanciest restaurants.

A friend once said that the scientist has two tasks: research and
education.  My commitment to teaching is rooted in a commitment to science.

Well, what is this important message doing hidden/protected  behind that
splash screen on the AAAS web site?

The writing is one the wall.


Alan Davis

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