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Science and Censorship: A Duel Lasting Centuries

The specter of censorship loomed over science last week with news that a federal advisory panel had asked two leading journals to withhold details of experiments out of fear that terrorists could use the information to make deadly flu viruses — the first time the government had interceded this way in biomedical research.

But science and secrecy go back centuries, their conflicting agendas often rooted in issues of war and advanced weaponry. Self-censorship — the kind of confidentiality being requested of the two journals, Science and Nature — was even mentioned by Bacon, the 17th-century British philosopher long credited with illuminating the scientific method.

Click here to read more from this December 26, 2011 New York Times article by William J. Broad.

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