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GOFMAN: We have to get back to a simple understanding of
the concepts of liberty, justice, and truth.
You know, Frederick Douglass--then an ex-slave--made an
important statement about power. He said, "Find out just what
people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount
of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them. . . . The
limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom
People have to see the truth in Douglass's words . . . they
have to realize that a lot of freedom is being taken away from them,
and they have to learn how to take it back.
PLOWBOY: So the first step is education. We Americans have to
become aware of how we're being used.
GOFMAN: Yes, but it's not just Americans who need to wake
up. We may not have perfect freedom here, but comparing our
liberties to those of people in the world's totalitarian countries is
like comparing night and day. The journey to full liberty for much
of the rest of the world will be a very tough one.
So we need to preserve and extend our own freedoms and help
men and women in totalitarian countries resist coercion, as well. All
of the world's peoples need to work toward liberty.
Roger Batzel--who, by the way, once
admitted to a TV journalist that even he didn't see any errors in our
calculations--came up to me. "Jack," he said, "last year the AEC
told us that we'd have to cancel your chromosome and cancer research
program. Now you may not believe this, but Mike May and I both said
that--although we disagree heartily with you concerning your actions
against nuclear power--we think your lab work on chromosomes is first
rate, so we're not going to cancel it."
I started to assure Roger that I appreciated his efforts, but
he went on: "This year the AEC people have told us that either we
cancel your work or they'll simply cut our budget by the $250,000 that
your program costs . . . which would force us to fire somebody else in
order to keep you."
PLOWBOY: Now that's devious!
GOFMAN: Roger said he'd leave the decision up to me. Well, I
couldn't force another project to lose out in order to keep my
program. So I told Roger that I thought I might be able to get
funding from the National Cancer Institute . . . and asked whether
he'd get me the approval to move all my scanners, culture equipment,
and other research gear to Berkeley. Roger agreed.
At first, my plan looked as if it would work smoothly. I
talked with Frank Rauscher, the head of the National Cancer
Institute, and he was quite excited about funding my chromosome
work. In fact, Frank said the research would tie in perfectly with
some breast cancer studies the Institute was doing at Yale. All
he'd need, before giving me the go-ahead, was three or four weeks to
look into the funding.
Well, about seven weeks later, I still hadn't heard from
him, and--since it was getting near the time when Roger would have to
cut his budget--I wrote a little note to remind him . . . and got back
a letter, from an assistant I didn't even know, saying, "Thank you
very much for your inquiry. The program that you're proposing is not
in the mainline interest of the National Cancer Institute. But if you
ever have any ideas in the future, please call us."
That was the end of my research. The next day, a program that
could have been very important to world health, one that I'd worked on
for seven years, was completely dismantled. All the people were
reassigned to other scientists' work . . . in fact, to anyone's work
as long as it wasn't mine. It was one of the saddest days of my life.
PLOWBOY: Yet nothing was done that you could point to to
GOFMAN: Oh no. Everybody knew, of course, that I didn't want
to give up the research program. But I had to. It's really a rather
common story: There's just no room for scientific truth in
government-funded work when the truth in any way goes against a
program that the government--or any of its special interests--wants to
carry through. And I believe it's an outrage that we're taxed to
support dishonest scientists . . . or to finance science that's being
paid to provide a façade.
stock here: nothing new under the sun. Nuclear has been corrupt out of the gate.
This interview is from 1981
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