USA wants to Censor Science

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(not all science, that was just to get you here)

OK the basic information is that Scientists, doing science have been looking into the spread of bird flu, and in particular the way in which the virus mutates so that it could pose a threat to humans. The results are to be published soon.

The standard Scientific process is simple.
Make assumption. Preform experiment. Analyze results. Evaluate the assumption against the Data. Share results for Peer Review.

The NSABB is wanting people in the Scientific community to alter the method by which Peer Review works. They want to in effect censor information... they want scientists to not publish their findings... to the public, but rather to a small group.

Dangerous precedent.
You can read the whole BBC article, or look at the offending extract I've quoted here.

Read the whole thing repeating the words in your head: Land of the Free.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/17066147

The NSABB comprises a group of US scientists and government security officials.

Its role is to identify research that might pose a security threat and recommend redaction where appropriate.

It is the first time that it has done so since it was created in 2005.

Dr Alberts supports the NSABB mechanism because it enables government security advisers to be informed by the scientists who sit on the board.

He suggests that for him and the editor of Nature, Dr Phil Campbell, to simply ignore the recommendations of the NSABB would undermine a system which could be considerably worse.

"Both Science magazine and Nature would both of like to support the mechanism because it's the best mechanism we're ever going to get," he says.

The sticking point though is that the scientific community and governments cannot agree the process by which an applicant for redacted material is deemed to be worthy of receiving it and who should make that judgement.

Initially the US government had suggested that US scientists, with the input of some foreign researchers, should administer the distribution process.

But this week at the WHO, international health bodies have said they should be more intimately involved and it would not work to run it through the US government.

"It is our hope that that meeting will lead to an international resolution as to how to get the information selectively to those that need to know and that would allow us to adhere to the NSABB recommendation," says Dr Alberts.

Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free.
Censor Scientists. Land of the Free.

However much you hate terrorists... Censor information from peers... fucking disgraceful.

Information of this type should be free... no matter how it could be used. If you don't know about infomation then if someone independently came up with something then you cannot do anything to counter act it. It would be better to allow publication but then look into how to counter act any dangers.

What would you do? Who do you think is right? Discuss.

EDIT:
OK finally we have someone post who is a Scientist and a Biologist to boot!

To those who fear a biological attack from cavemen... just read this:

Confusedious:
As a scientist myself, this kind of censorship is unacceptable. Results are for the benefit of all people, not just a select group. We are not paid to publish our work, we do it because it is the right thing to do (and because if we don't we have a difficult time to convince Universities to keep employing us...).

The thing is, even published, this kind of data would never be see by the public anyhow. How many regular Joes dig through academic journals? Even if they did they wouldn't understand what they were reading.

In effect, journals are already on a 'need to know' basis as a virtue of their very content. Even though I am a biologist with a good few years in science behind me, the contents of a chemistry or physics based journal are little better than gobbledegook to me. So I can imagine how little immunological papers would mean to those without an understanding of immunology.

His first post is this, just joined the Escapist today! Good choice for a post fir ;)
His Profile:
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/profiles/view/Confusedious

His Science Blog.
http://confusedious.wordpress.com/

If you need convincing that Terrorists won't be able to make a super-virus then read this title:
Our (not so) unique minds: metacognition in non-primates
Understand that?

Well... try reading in his blog the section titled:
Is Gene-Culture Coevolution at the Reins of Recent, Rapid Human Evolution?

Al-Queda and co will not be creating super viruses when they are failing to blow up cars because they have used non-explosive or explosive underpants only setting the guy's arse on fire. Nations are more of a threat than poorly sponsored terrorists

No! That's so stupid! That's ridiculously stupid! I can't...I can't truly state just how insane America has become since 13 years ago.

The USA wants to censor sceince? That's really nothing new XD

This is a very serious matter though, all scientific findings need to be released to the general public, a not under go any form of filter. A "National security" or "Anti-terroism" filter on any information is usually relating "What we don't like or want you to know" anyway.

I don't agree with what they're doing, but you could at least report it in a less biased way. I imagine the NSABB is trying to make sure information on making a strand of flu mutate to spread quickly among the population is kept from the wrong hands.

It's a question of whether academic freedom is worth the risk of bioterrorism. I don't know how high the risk is (and it's probably really low), but to say that academic information should always be available to everyone regardless of the risk to human life is really naive.

Censoring kinda defeats the purpose of the journals. Scientists need to be able to freely share their findings among themselves.

Comando96:
(not all science, that was just to get you here)

OK the basic information is that Scientists, doing science have been looking into the spread of bird flu, and in particular the way in which the virus mutates so that it could pose a threat to humans. The results are to be published soon.

The standard Scientific process is simple.
Make assumption. Preform experiment. Analyze results. Evaluate the assumption against the Data. Share results for Peer Review.

The NSABB is wanting people in the Scientific community to alter the method by which Peer Review works. They want to in effect censor information... they want scientists to not publish their findings... to the public, but rather to a small group.

Dangerous precedent.
You can read the whole BBC article, or look at the offending extract I've quoted here.

Read the whole thing repeating the words in your head: Land of the Free.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/17066147

The NSABB comprises a group of US scientists and government security officials.

Its role is to identify research that might pose a security threat and recommend redaction where appropriate.

It is the first time that it has done so since it was created in 2005.

Dr Alberts supports the NSABB mechanism because it enables government security advisers to be informed by the scientists who sit on the board.

He suggests that for him and the editor of Nature, Dr Phil Campbell, to simply ignore the recommendations of the NSABB would undermine a system which could be considerably worse.

"Both Science magazine and Nature would both of like to support the mechanism because it's the best mechanism we're ever going to get," he says.

The sticking point though is that the scientific community and governments cannot agree the process by which an applicant for redacted material is deemed to be worthy of receiving it and who should make that judgement.

Initially the US government had suggested that US scientists, with the input of some foreign researchers, should administer the distribution process.

But this week at the WHO, international health bodies have said they should be more intimately involved and it would not work to run it through the US government.

"It is our hope that that meeting will lead to an international resolution as to how to get the information selectively to those that need to know and that would allow us to adhere to the NSABB recommendation," says Dr Alberts.

Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free. Land of the Free.
Censor Scientists. Land of the Free.

However much you hate terrorists... Censor information from peers... fucking disgraceful.

Infomation of this type should be free... no matter how it could be used. If you don't know about infomation then if someone independantly came up with something then you cannot do anything to counter act it. It would be better to allow publication but then look into how to counter act any dangers.

What would you do? Who do you think is right? Discuss.

Nice misleading title, but whats this? The US doesn't want a publication on a virus that could harm humans published? One that could rapidly spread? Oh god, what a terrible idea. /sarcasm

Get serious, the US government isn't the Catholic Church telling scientist they can't say the Earth revolves around the sun, the US gov is trying to prevent the publication of the study of a serious virus from being able to be viewed by those that would use it as a weapon.

I got a warning for doing this before but fuck it, this deserves it.
image

OT: so this means...That I can "Make" a Finding...and no one could find out that I was talking out of my ass?...
(Did I understand this right? *Compete Moron*)

lol usa

I dont know why but this makes me want to watch Borat again. Something about the sheer level of dumbassery in this proposal gets me in the mood to see some Americans getting trolled.

They haven't censored anything yet. They may not censor anything. The want a peek first. Considering weaponized flu has been considered in the past, I can see where they might be going with a security concern.

This is also the first time they exercised their power in 7 years, that leads me to believe they aren't power crazed.

How about you wait and see if they actually censor anything before you complain.

Hm... This is a difficult situation. If they publish the information, it is possible that people with bad intentions could create a world-wide pandemic. If the government forces them not to, or just to a small amount of fellow scientists, it sets a dangerous precedent for the future, which could lead to the government stopping the free flow of information. I don't really know what to think on this one. :/

Volf99:
Nice misleading title, but whats this? The US doesn't want a publication on a virus that could harm humans published? One that could rapidly spread? Oh god, what a terrible idea. /sarcasm

Its a report about the mutation process of said virus.

It is hoped that greater understanding of the mutation process can later lead to creating cures, for example that can respond to the mutation processes, or identify some common characteristic kept by the mutating virus.

This Federal group wants to pick and choose who can see the material and data which will not happen anywhere else in the free world where the results will be open to everyone.

The USA in its zealous fear of all terrorism related topics wants to disallow the standard academic practice of allowing public... publication. Rather it must be a select publication of... security vetted Scientists who are only allowed to have a look at the results.

It's a nonsense of sorts as firstly you can't ban the internet so people in America can find out the contents of the publication. However still the precedent of even trying is worrying.

Diablo1099:
OT: so this means...That I can "Make" a Finding...and no one could find out that I was talking out of my ass?...
(Did I understand this right? *Compete Moron*)

No... but others can make such a claim and when we say can we see the results as proof and so we can recreate and therefore verify your findings... we can't... and must take their word for it.

I'm just glad this is USA exclusive.

Kendarik:
They haven't censored anything yet. They may not censor anything.

Hence why the Title says "wants".

Wants as in: Wants to in the future.
Not past nor present tense.

Kendarik:
How about you wait and see if they actually censor anything before you complain.

SOPA? Wait and see if the power is abused?

Invalid argument.

Comando96:
Snip

OH NO! Terrorists can find out how a virus MUTATES, and using ONLY that they can bioengineer a deadly form of the flu from a cave in the middle of a desert. D:

-_-

This, and many other things, is the reason I want to limit the size and power of government.

BreakfastMan:
Hm... This is a difficult situation. If they publish the information, it is possible that people with bad intentions could create a world-wide pandemic. If the government forces them not to, or just to a small amount of fellow scientists, it sets a dangerous precedent for the future, which could lead to the government stopping the free flow of information. I don't really know what to think on this one. :/

Well, it takes a LOT of expensive equipment and trained personal to bio engineer a virus. If a terrorist organization could really afford the cost to make the virus, than they would easily just be able to bribe a scientist or afford a half way decent spy to get it. Censoring it is pointless.

Comando96:

Diablo1099:
OT: so this means...That I can "Make" a Finding...and no one could find out that I was talking out of my ass?...
(Did I understand this right? *Compete Moron*)

No... but others can make such a claim and when we say can we see the results as proof and so we can recreate and therefore verify your findings... we can't... and must take their word for it.

I'm just glad this is USA exclusive.

Right, so instead, I could "find" Result Y as opposed to a Result X for Subject A and Still no one could stop me?
...And a Bible Basher could use this Logic to declare Homosexuality IS a disease, despite everything?

Diablo1099:
Right, so instead, I could "find" Result Y as opposed to a Result X for Subject A and Still no one could stop me?
...And a Bible Basher could use this Logic to declare Homosexuality IS a disease, despite everything?

Yeeeeessssss... in theory but it would need to have its publication "blocked" for a reason related to terrorism. Otherwise everyone could call it as bullshit.

If people got their shit organised however I am sure they could pull a stunt of good enough quality to pull the wool over the media's eyes (or lead them willingly)... wouldn't last long but there is the danger of preeching to the converted on the issue and then these induviduals conviently blocking out later news of "this was actually bullshit".

Homosexuality and terrorism... were not in Saudi Arabia so the two cannot be related by the government.

Comando96:

Diablo1099:
Right, so instead, I could "find" Result Y as opposed to a Result X for Subject A and Still no one could stop me?
...And a Bible Basher could use this Logic to declare Homosexuality IS a disease, despite everything?

Yeeeeessssss... in theory but it would need to have its publication "blocked" for a reason related to terrorism. Otherwise everyone could call it as bullshit.

If people got their shit organised however I am sure they could pull a stunt of good enough quality to pull the wool over the media's eyes (or lead them willingly)...

Homosexuality and terrorism... were not in Saudi Arabia so the two cannot be related by the government.

So as long as it can be connected to Terrorism and thus Blocked because "9/11!! D:", A scientist can say whatever the hell he/she wants as the proof for/against a motion is blocked but "Still there, we just can't see it because *9/11!! D:*"
Real sorry for bugging you but I really want to know what's What about this.

Diablo1099:
So as long as it can be connected to Terrorism and thus Blocked because "9/11!! D:", A scientist can say whatever the hell he/she wants as the proof for/against a motion is blocked but "Still there, we just can't see it because *9/11!! D:*"
Real sorry for bugging you but I really want to know what's What about this.

Anything that could be used for the purposes of terrorism (bio terrorism anyway) could be restricted to a select group. This group then effectively is only allowed to do dangerous science and they have power. Hopefully Peer Review could exist within this group but... fewer people, less review. Also the infomation would be less useful as fewer groups having knowlage would result in less innovations, discoveries, investigations etc etc.

The NSABB: The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, would also have to confirm they blocked something so its not the case of people can make up whatever bullshit they feel like, but rather discoveries that could come sooner... don't... or they happen else where.

dyre:
I don't agree with what they're doing, but you could at least report it in a less biased way. I imagine the NSABB is trying to make sure information on making a strand of flu mutate to spread quickly among the population is kept from the wrong hands.

It's a question of whether academic freedom is worth the risk of bioterrorism. I don't know how high the risk is (and it's probably really low), but to say that academic information should always be available to everyone regardless of the risk to human life is really naive.

Volf99:
Nice misleading title, but whats this? The US doesn't want a publication on a virus that could harm humans published? One that could rapidly spread? Oh god, what a terrible idea. /sarcasm

Get serious, the US government isn't the Catholic Church telling scientist they can't say the Earth revolves around the sun, the US gov is trying to prevent the publication of the study of a serious virus from being able to be viewed by those that would use it as a weapon.

Hey guys, pop quiz.

If a person in the USA died in the last 10 years, what was their chance of dying from a terrorist attack?
a) 1 in 100
b) 1 in 100,000,000
c) 1 in 10^300
d) 0

Answer: D. D is the correct answer.

See, part of the issue here is, it takes a lot more than the information provided in the average science publication to craft a bioterrorist attack. I mean, the information required to create a nuclear bomb is all readily available on the internet, but that's not causing terrorists to leap up and build them. And in the case of, say, the flu virus, you're going to need a large biolab to even have a chance at being able to get much out of this information. At that point, we're probably not dealing with a terrorist attack, but a military invasion. Hell, even, say, detailed instructions on how to construct this new explosive molecule probably won't help until you have the resources to mass-produce it, and that kind of thing can be very large and expensive.

This is a non-issue. The effective threat from something like this is very, very low, as the resources needed to create said strain of hypervirus is akin to the resources needed to just do the damn research yourself.

Comando96:

Anything that could be used for the purposes of terrorism (bio terrorism anyway) could be restricted to a select group. This group then effectively is only allowed to do dangerous science and they have power. Hopefully Peer Review could exist within this group but... fewer people, less review. Also the infomation would be less useful as fewer groups having knowlage would result in less innovations, discoveries, investigations etc etc.

The NSABB: The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, would also have to confirm they blocked something so its not the case of people can make up whatever bullshit they feel like, but rather discoveries that could come sooner... don't... or they happen else where.

Ahhhh right...Thanks for your time.

Well it's been a good run...what, like 230 years, was it? Ironic isn't it, that the IMAGINARY terrorists seem to be doing much more damage to America than the real ones.

So really, the terrorists HAVE won. Way to go, US Government!

>Clap<

>Clap<

>Clap<

It's a little surprising the BBC only catches wind of it now. This was months ago in Dutch media.

Funny details about the case:
-the American organisation that ordered the research picked the Dutch Erasmus MC facility because the security provided there wouldn't be possible in any lab in the US.
-This research is actually useless to terrorists. It doesn't offer anything in terms of mutating viruses to more dangerous forms for humans that wasn't already previously known
-About a decade ago, American researchers were allowed to publish far more sensitive details on the spanish flu.

As for my opinion, screw all that national security paranoia, publish it. It's about how an existing virus spreads among ferrets, not a 'how to create my own supervirus 101'.

BreakfastMan:
Hm... This is a difficult situation. If they publish the information, it is possible that people with bad intentions could create a world-wide pandemic.

The lead researcher on the project Ron Fouchier commented on that, that a terrorist with sufficient knowledge of viruses and the correct facilities could easily create the virus they've created without any know-how, simply out of what's already known about birdflu.

Basically the US is trying to stop a publication which is of a level of usefullness to terrorists as saying "We've done tests with nitroglycerin, and concluded you can use it to blow stuff up".

I don't know about the particular details of this case, but I can see in principle a reason one might want to censor the publication of research about dangerous pathogens. Of course, I can only imagine such protections would merely delay the inevitable. Knowledge is difficult to suppress forever. The thing we should be concerned with is the effect of such censorship on the development of countermeasures compared to how long the information is kept somewhat secret.

Stagnant:

dyre:
I don't agree with what they're doing, but you could at least report it in a less biased way. I imagine the NSABB is trying to make sure information on making a strand of flu mutate to spread quickly among the population is kept from the wrong hands.

It's a question of whether academic freedom is worth the risk of bioterrorism. I don't know how high the risk is (and it's probably really low), but to say that academic information should always be available to everyone regardless of the risk to human life is really naive.

Hey guys, pop quiz.

If a person in the USA died in the last 10 years, what was their chance of dying from a terrorist attack?
a) 1 in 100
b) 1 in 100,000,000
c) 1 in 10^300
d) 0

Answer: D. D is the correct answer.

See, part of the issue here is, it takes a lot more than the information provided in the average science publication to craft a bioterrorist attack. I mean, the information required to create a nuclear bomb is all readily available on the internet, but that's not causing terrorists to leap up and build them. And in the case of, say, the flu virus, you're going to need a large biolab to even have a chance at being able to get much out of this information. At that point, we're probably not dealing with a terrorist attack, but a military invasion. Hell, even, say, detailed instructions on how to construct this new explosive molecule probably won't help until you have the resources to mass-produce it, and that kind of thing can be very large and expensive.

This is a non-issue. The effective threat from something like this is very, very low, as the resources needed to create said strain of hypervirus is akin to the resources needed to just do the damn research yourself.

What if we made that 11 years? Like I said, I don't agree with the NSABB, but there's two sides to the story.

And I don't see how the difficulty in making a nuclear weapon has anything to do with the difficulty of making a virus. Fairly powerful, wealthy nations take decades to enrich the uranium for nukes, while two teams of scientists working for universities and hospitals were able to do research for potentially more deadly flu. I also don't see how it's a military invasion to fund some groups who don't like us to attack us.

Are the chances that someone uses this against us extraordinarily low? Probably. In fact, I doubt bio attacks from a strand of flu would do much against us. This isn't the 1600s; our civilization won't fall overnight to a few smallpox-covered blankets. And like you said, it probably wouldn't be a huge challenge for "terrorists" to just make a new strand themselves, if they had enough educated scientists among them. But if it does happen, what's the government going to say? "The chances were low, and we didn't think withholding the information to potential threats was worth the political backlash?"

There's more to this than just "the government wants to steal our freedom." Hell, the scientists working for the NSABB wouldn't even benefit from this censorship. It's not like holding a minor cabinet office is that glorious. Watering down their intentions to make them a bunch of faceless bad guys out to "take out freedoms" and to destroy the "land of the free" doesn't help anyone (does anyone even use that land of the free crap anymore, besides politicians seeking election?). We ought to know our enemies, not stereotype them.

Comando96:

Kendarik:
They haven't censored anything yet. They may not censor anything.

Hence why the Title says "wants".

Wants as in: Wants to in the future.
Not past nor present tense.

Read your OP again. It says that "They want to in effect censor information"

I know its totally out of character for you, but you are getting into a bit of "the sky is falling".

Kendarik:
How about you wait and see if they actually censor anything before you complain.

SOPA? Wait and see if the power is abused?

Invalid argument.

This isn't about SOPA. Invalid argument.

I'd say a large proportion (quite possibly a majority) of science that is done is never released, or is only released within a company or to a small group. This is highly unfortunate but I don't think it's ever going to change with the current scientific method, as (a) peer review is very fallible, and (b) companies don't necessarily want to publish their data.

Also if you wanted to create a virulent form of bird flu, it's incredibly easy. Influenza viruses have two main proteins that are useful in infection, code-named H & N...there are several different versions of these proteins, and different strains. Humans are not resistant to a form of the organism with H1N1, therefore if I artifically recreate the sequence (very easy) and package it in a virus (harder, but definitely not impossible), I have bird flu.

Obviously I'd run into several unforeseen obstacles with this, but the point is that the knowledge is already out there, and if the taxpayer has paid for it then it should be released.

Stagnant:

Hey guys, pop quiz.

If a person in the USA died in the last 10 years, what was their chance of dying from a terrorist attack?
a) 1 in 100
b) 1 in 100,000,000
c) 1 in 10^300
d) 0

Answer: D. D is the correct answer.

See, part of the issue here is, it takes a lot more than the information provided in the average science publication to craft a bioterrorist attack. I mean, the information required to create a nuclear bomb is all readily available on the internet, but that's not causing terrorists to leap up and build them. And in the case of, say, the flu virus, you're going to need a large biolab to even have a chance at being able to get much out of this information. At that point, we're probably not dealing with a terrorist attack, but a military invasion. Hell, even, say, detailed instructions on how to construct this new explosive molecule probably won't help until you have the resources to mass-produce it, and that kind of thing can be very large and expensive.

This is a non-issue. The effective threat from something like this is very, very low, as the resources needed to create said strain of hypervirus is akin to the resources needed to just do the damn research yourself.

But the terrorist are so well funded! They have HUNDREDS, maybe even THOUSANDS of dollars they can use! D:

We need to limit freedom of speech, information, and thought and spend 5.4 billion dollars to prevent the .000000000000001% chance of a terrorist attack!

dyre:
What if we made that 11 years?

We can do that math.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm

Let me go out on a limb here and claim that this 2009 rate was a relatively average one for the last 10 years or so, and use that as an average value for each year between now and 2001. And let's do your end of the math a favor and just round a little bit, so we are measuring January 2001 to January 2012.
That's 11 full years * approximately 2,437,163 deaths per year in the USA = 26,808,793
Now, to get the chance of you dying of a terrorist attack, let's divide that by the death toll of 9/11, the only successful terrorist attack on American soil in the 21st Century... Let's call it 3000. So...
26,808,793 / 3000 = 8,936.26433333333
Huh. 1 in 8936. That's actually considerably higher than I expected, just over 1/100th of a percentage point. Compared to, say, heart disease, which is:
26,808,793 /599,413 = 44, so about 2%.

You know what would be great? A government body ensuring that, say, fast food joints and food processing manufacturers could not work on a new, better-tasting hot pocket or big mac secret sauce.

The fact is, we're worried about what amounts to a statistical non-threat. Terrorists... just aren't that dangerous. Yeah, they can kill people. But you know what? Almost ever time they've tried in the last 12 years, they have failed miserably. This picture of terrorist masterminds living out in a cave somewhere, organizing a multinational "kill america" operation is entirely fabricated. Case in point:

two teams of scientists working for universities and hospitals were able to do research for potentially more deadly flu.

This is actually way beyond what pretty much any terrorist organization was even capable of. Plus, these two teams of scientists, as far as I can understand it, did not actually make the virus more deadly; they simply found a way which would be possible; a way which would require even more expensive equipment and expertise.

There's more to this than just "the government wants to steal our freedom."

Of course. I'm honestly willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt - I don't think they're intentionally trying to limit our freedoms for the sake of weakening our freedoms. They, like many others (such as Volf99 up there) are almost certainly overestimating the operational threat of such terrorist cells.

How is this any different from a government trying to protect its nuclear secrets?

Stagnant:

dyre:
What if we made that 11 years?

We can do that math.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm

Let me go out on a limb here and claim that this 2009 rate was a relatively average one for the last 10 years or so, and use that as an average value for each year between now and 2001. And let's do your end of the math a favor and just round a little bit, so we are measuring January 2001 to January 2012.
That's 11 full years * approximately 2,437,163 deaths per year in the USA = 26,808,793
Now, to get the chance of you dying of a terrorist attack, let's divide that by the death toll of 9/11, the only successful terrorist attack on American soil in the 21st Century... Let's call it 3000. So...
26,808,793 / 3000 = 8,936.26433333333
Huh. 1 in 8936. That's actually considerably higher than I expected, just over 1/100th of a percentage point. Compared to, say, heart disease, which is:
26,808,793 /599,413 = 44, so about 2%.

The fact is, we're worried about what amounts to a statistical non-threat. Terrorists... just aren't that dangerous. Yeah, they can kill people. But you know what? Almost ever time they've tried in the last 12 years, they have failed miserably. This picture of terrorist masterminds living out in a cave somewhere, organizing a multinational "kill america" operation is entirely fabricated. Case in point:

two teams of scientists working for universities and hospitals were able to do research for potentially more deadly flu.

This is actually way beyond what pretty much any terrorist organization was even capable of. Plus, these two teams of scientists, as far as I can understand it, did not actually make the virus more deadly; they simply found a way which would be possible; a way which would require even more expensive equipment and expertise.

There's more to this than just "the government wants to steal our freedom."

Of course. I'm honestly willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt - I don't think they're intentionally trying to limit our freedoms for the sake of weakening our freedoms. They, like many others (such as Volf99 up there) are almost certainly overestimating the operational threat of such terrorist cells.

I think there's something very wrong with the way you talk about terrorists not being a threat to people. Terrorists can't become any threat towards a nation the way, say, the Soviet Union was a threat. Well, not the ones we face now. But if your government told you "oh, well, terrorists killed 50 people today, but more people died from car accidents!" how would you feel?

We takes steps to fight heart disease, to fight cigarette deaths, etc, but we shouldn't take steps to fight planned attacks against US citizens?

And yeah, most terrorist groups these days are a joke, because they're splinter extremists from already extremist groups. Groups like al-Qaeda are basically the extreme form of Islamist parties like the Muslim Brotherhood. But say the jingoists in this country get the war they want with Iran (but I hope to God we shed this ridiculous interventionist foreign policy and a war with Iran never happens). You wouldn't deny that Iran has the capability to fund a few scientists, right?

I think we're in agreement that the NSABB are probably doing this out of well-meaning but misguided attempts to protect the US, but their side of it isn't completely crazy, and we shouldn't water the argument down to a "they want to steal our freedoms" vs "they want to help the terrorists."

Let see... The US government is concerned about the fact that the flu can effectively be weaponized, and wants to limit how many people have access to the information on just how that's done?

I believe in Freedom of Speech and Press as much as the next guy, but -yeah- I don't mind them trying to keep a lid on that shit. Then again, it's only a matter of time before someone else figures it out (or does it better) now that we know it's even possible, so they'd only be delaying the inevitable. But that delay might be just enough time to make a cure...maybe.

But, yeah, keeping this to a few people is probably a sound move. Not all terrorists live in caves, you know.

Danyal:
Is this about this virus?

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/18.327732-Dutch-Researcher-Creates-Virus-That-Could-Wipe-Out-Over-Half-of-The-Worlds-Population

No. Its research about the mutation of viruses in nature whicyh leads to them crossing from animals to humans. Specifically relating to Bird Flu.

I cound understand them blocking the information about a super virus... but what they are blocking... pah... nothing in comparison. Still, TERRORISM!!!!?!!111!

... This makes practically no sense. What could possibly be a better system for a scientist than to have other scientists weigh in on his findings? I'm wondering why any scientist would support such a system if it weren't for a pile of money. Even then, that pile of money is hardly worth it considering the implications.

What's to stop the terrorists from just finding out this information for themselves, anyway?

WouldYouKindly:
... This makes practically no sense. What could possibly be a better system for a scientist than to have other scientists weigh in on his findings? I'm wondering why any scientist would support such a system if it weren't for a pile of money. Even then, that pile of money is hardly worth it considering the implications.

It makes perfect sense, if the censored research is genuinely too dangerous to leak to the public. I am not convinced that the specific research topic above falls under that category, but still.

Let me put it this way. There are plenty of research topics that can cause incredible amounts of harm if the wrong people start messing with it, even if you discounted everyone that might actually intend to do harm. From self replicating nanorobots, to altered diseases, to genetic manipulation, to easier techniques for heavy metal enrichment. All of these things have incredible positive potential, but they are all also incredibly dangerous. A mistake can easily kill thousands or more.

I do not in the end mind the idea of controlling detailed access to such topics so long as it is done intelligently and for the right reasons. The problem I have is that not only can I not think of any group I feel I could trust with that job, the US government fails to even approach the "maybe if we're desperate" category.

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