Publishers Scam Scientists and the Public

“Aaron [Swartz] believed… you literally ought to be asking yourself all the time, ‘What is the most important thing in the world that I could be working on right now?’ And if you’re not working on that, why aren’t you?”

I’m glad we writers have Amazon et al. competing with the traditional publishers.

Nothing’s perfect but imagine the old days: working for a decade or two on your writing skills, finally hammering out a novel that works, and then feeling like you’ve won the lottery if you’re lucky enough to get past the slush pile and sell your copyrights to a publisher for 5  to 15% of the take.

It wasn’t the worst possible arrangement, but things are better now. If you pour your life energies into your writing, you’ve got choices for finding readers…

Unless you’re a scientist.

“So, a researcher, paid by a University or the people, publishes a paper and in the very last step of that process… after all the original research is done – the thinking, the lab work, the analysis… then the researcher has to hand over his or her copyright to this multi-billion dollar company… It’s an entire economy built on volunteer labor… the publishers sit at the very top and scrape off the cream.” – Christopher Soghoian

 

“Talk about a scam. One publisher in Britain made a profit of three billion dollars last year. I mean, what a racket!” – Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D), Congresswoman California’s 19th District.

Scientists are forced to donate their writing to someone who didn’t do the work.

Most research scientists are paid through government grants, so maybe it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Why should taxpayers want to pay anyone to write for profit? I guess we pay solar companies to make a profit, but maybe scientists don’t deserve that special treatment. They’re only trying to cure cancer and get a few of us off the planet before we blow it up – nothing as important as solar power.

Ideally, science should be free from monetary bias and the corruption it brings. Maybe if they sold their own writing it would affect their integrity more than drug or tobacco company funding.

I doubt it.

Part of me thinks scientists have the right to sell their work, same as anyone else.

Assuming I’m somehow wrong about that, what should happen to the articles that government-funded scientists produce?

Should they be

  1. given to private corporations to sell, or
  2. distributed freely – at least to the taxpayers who funded the research?

The current science journal system has a bad smell and could probably use some fresh air and rational thought – with consideration for the worldwide scientific community, some of whom can’t afford scientific literature at current prices.

The whole situation highlights the capacity of educated people to be manipulated by a few parasitic corporations.

Incidentally, this parallels the way Americans in general have been quietly hoodwinked by another for-profit privately owned parasitic corporation, the Federal Reserve “System.”

Most of us don’t seem to know (or care?) that a few anonymous FED shareholders are skimming six percent off the top while the corporation they own, the FED, is diluting the value of US dollars with “computer money,” and thereby shrinking the middle class into poverty.

Here’s that complex story, free of the technical language that once allowed Bernanke (former FED chair) to say with a straight face, “We’re not printing money” to a fully conscious journalist.

The trick to hiding corruption is to make it complex and leave it out in the open where people become habituated to it, like the unfair loopholes in US tax code or the depressing, outdated myth of Neo-Darwinism that’s preached like a religion in government schools.

But I digress.

A brilliant young man in his early twenties, Aaron Swartz, saw an entrenched system where science articles are confiscated and sold for profit by private corporations. He tried to challenge the system, broke some laws and was charged with thirteen felonies. We’re told he committed suicide in 2013.

The way the government lawyers went after him was outrageous. In the blur of hatred for real cybercriminals it took more discernment and integrity than the authorities could muster to see that Aaron was an idealistic genius trying to make the world a better place, not a dangerous criminal. But I guess discernment is not a prosecutor’s job in a Universe where fairness and compassion, like consciousness itself, are assumed to be illusions by society’s “thinkers.”

Here’s something from a speech Aaron gave:

“…a lot of these [scientific] journal articles – they go back to The Enlightenment. Every time someone has written a scientific paper it’s been scanned, digitized and put into these collections. That is a legacy that has been brought to us by a history of people doing interesting work, a history of scientists. It’s a legacy that should belong to us as a people, but instead it’s been locked up and put online by a handful of for-profit corporations who then try and get the maximum amount of profit they can out of it.” – Aaron Swartz (1986 – 2013)

Maybe research scientists need to peer-review each other’s articles outside of the system. Then publish independently for profit, eliminating the scientific publishing “system” we have now.

Politicians might feign outrage and force scientists to give their work away again, but hopefully to the public, not to a private corporation. This would make the latest research available to developing nations and end the science info cartel’s glorious reign.

“What is the most important thing in the world that I could be working on right now?” – Aaron Swartz

Got a comment?

(Update 10/12/2017:)

“Major periodical subscriptions, especially to electronic journals published by historically key providers, cannot be sustained: continuing these subscriptions on their current footing is financially untenable.” – Harvard University.

Check out this teenager who discovered a new test for early detection of pancreatic carcinoma. He tells the truth about the publisher’s info-sucking money scam near the end of the video.

“And a child shall lead them…”

Cheers,

M. Talmage Moorehead, MD

 

 

 

12 thoughts on “Publishers Scam Scientists and the Public

  1. Sadly we have turned capitalism into our own golden calf, our own graven image. Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. I certainly don’t want a communist society, but I don’t want a society where the love of money overrules the love of science and sharing such scientific discoveries with everyone. Nor should corporations be the ones making money off of scientists’ discoveries.

    • I like your golden calf analogy. The publishers seem to have no conscience in regard to ripping off an entire group of extremely hard-working, well-intentioned people who are too busy and habituated to the rip-off to take a look at it from an objective, outside perspective… and act rationally as a team on their own behalf. Thanks for your insightful comment, Jonathan Scott Griffin.
      By the way, my son’s middle name is Scott. Our last name is Scottish, too. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Publishers Scam Scientists and the Public – Parental Alienation

  3. ” During times of universal deceit,
    telling the truth becomes a 
    revolutionary act.”
                                      George Orwell ( I think…)

    May you have an inspirational summer Sunday!

      • Thank you my friend.
        (there seems to be a widely spread belief about meditation and many struggle to silence the mind when maybe before the silence a change of focus should happen)

        • You’re right. There’s probably not a one-size-fits-all approach, but the common emphasis on turning off the mind and leaving behind all cognitive concerns can open us up to scams where “gurus” don’t take our money before informing us of the possible negative side effects of their “system to enlightenment.” Memory loss, loss of interest in fiction, and loss of interest in real people’s stories (even friends!) are the very real side effects of a “system” I dropped out of half way through. It cost me two thousand dollars to learn this lesson. One person in my group was having constant memory problems. The guru didn’t mention the side effects until after taking our money and having us sign pages and pages of legal documents. When the subject of negative side effects came up, he just smiled and talked about them as very real, but not a big deal (“perfectly normal”), and almost a good thing it seemed, in view of the tremendous prize awaiting anyone who reached his version of enlightenment.

          For me, it has been extremely valuable to learn how to stop ruminating on the negative experiences I’ve had in the past. Regular yoga-type mindfulness helped me tremendously in that regard, but that’s different from the other sort of thing: “forget about every kind of linear, logical thought process and do the mental exercises until you have re-wired your brain.” (That was the bottom line in the $2,000 guru’s system.)

          I think there’s a common thread of “anti-mind” in many fundamentalist-style religions and non-religions, as well as in scientific materialism (the assumption that all mind and free will are false illusions).

          “Silencing the mind” is incredibly useful when your head is full of negativity, fear and anxiety, but once a person learns how to avoid those self-destructive thought habits, meditation is, at least for me, the greatest tool for generating creative, exciting ideas and thinking clearly about the big picture of life. For me, ideas often seem to flow out of the zero-point field or from a muse, or maybe even from God sometimes, who knows?
          Ideas and inspiration come best when I’m fasting, by the way. And a day or two after I’ve fasted. (I’ve been reading about “intermittent fasting” and it’s extremely good for the brain. It’s part of the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, according to Bredesen’s protocol, along with carbohydrate restriction, another of the biggest breakthroughs for me personally in terms of escaping a life of anxiety.

          I’m so thankful I quit medicine and found time to read and hear about these life-changing tools.

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