Archive for March 6th, 2013

Raphael notes in a post today on his blog entitled “On my [Pep Pàmies] comments on Lévy’s blog” that the apologia written in a private capacity by Pep Pamies, an editor at Nature Materials has been removed. A cached version has been unearthed and is posted for the record on Raphael’s blog.

To recap, Pep had been defending the data of Francesco Stellacci supporting the separation of ligands on nanoparticles into stripes; he eventually revealed himself to be an editor at Nature Materials, which surprised many and angered a few. As I commented earlier, one aspect I found worrying was the fact that Pep was not taking a strong line against data re-use.

So why the disappearance of his comments? My own speculation is that some giant has awoken from a deep slumber to find annoying disorder in his (or her) castle. As various fairy tales teach us, in such situations (quite common in fairy tales) giants tend to react somewhat violently towards anyone unfortunate to be within striking distance. We should not forget that giants have quite a long reach – that is why they are giants, after all!

Of course it may not be a giant – dragons, I understand from my reading of wise tomes such as Farmer Giles of Ham and The Hobbit, have similar tendencies as giants. Plus dragons can fly, so their reach is greater than that of a giant.

Nevertheless, I remain confident, perhaps over confident, that giants are only so big, dragons can only fly so far and that the world is far larger than their reach. The consequence is that there will always be a safe haven for information. After all, history teaches us that the movement of information out of the reach of an irate giant or dragon has been critical in preserving open debate and democracy and, hence, science. Indeed, the unexpected (temporary) disappearance of information often only serves to stoke the curiosity of Homo sapiens.

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