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"Ethics '93" and the Freeman Affair On February 1 and 2, "Ethics '93," a symposium organized by the National Research Council (NRC), was the forum for a discussion of the notorious "Freeman Affair." The publication in the Canadian Journal ofPhysics of an article by Gordon Freeman, a professor of chemistry at the University of Alberta, has caused waves of protest throughout North American academic circles. The article, published under the rubric "Sociology," purported to be the result of research done by Dr. Freeman using his students as a control group. In fact, he had followed none of the guidelines for the ethical use ofhuman beings in research in place at the university. The article is, in essence, an attack on women academics, working women, and feminism in general; it is a completely subjective harking-back to, in Freeman's readings, the "good old days" when women knew their place and that place was in the home. For some time after the publication of the article in 1990, offense at its content and its publication in a totally inappropriate journal was contained within the scientific community. Then Morris Wolfe, a Toronto journalist and teacher, read a letter in the McGill alumni journal submitted by Professor Freeman, along with another article on the same theme which he wished the journal to print. The journal's editor printed Freeman's letter, which linked the Montreal massacre with Marc Lepine's mother having been a feminist - "feminism has gone too far," being the overall theme - as well as a note saying that the editor had declined to accept the article. After ascertaining the facts, Wolfe wrote a column about the affair for The Globe and Mail. From that time on, the matter has been common knowledge, its impact made even more damaging by a full-page article in Science, an American publication of wide circulation. Even before the growing chorus of protests gained momentum, various steps towards both damage control and reparation had been taken. The editor of the Journal ofCanadian Studies Vol. 27, No. 4 (Hivu 1992-93 Wintu) Canadian Journal of Physics was replaced ; a formal apology on the part of the Association of Canadian Physicists was tendered; and finally, in response to a very strong vote of censure at the Royal Society's annual meeting in 1992, the conference on the ethics of scholarly publishing was organized by the NRC for early February 1993. Speakers at the conference were impressive, both hard-hitting and totally frank. Freeman and Ralph Nicholls of York University, the editor of the Canadian Journal of Physics who inconceivably published the so-called "sociological " article, were repeatedly censured. Residual and on-going censure was reserved, however, for the NRC itself, which had pledged to print a supplement to the offensive issue and to have it available at the time of the conference. That promise was not honoured. To many of the 150 delegates from Canada and the United States present at the conference the reasons for this failure, as advanced by the NRC spokesmen present, were halfhearted at best and quite unacceptable. The matter of its future publication remains uncertain; the field of contention is divided sharply between those who, like Clive Willis, Vice-President of NRC, dread the possibility of court action - "The last thing we want to do is give Freeman a day in court" - and Dr. Selma Zimmerman, a natural science professor and adviser on the status of women at York University, who urges that NRC honour its pledge: "What is the ethical responsibility to the community when there's a promise that the NRC will publish the supplement?" The symposium was characterized by memorably humorous lines as well as by powerful speaking. In calling for a genuine concern for public communication of knowledge, Ursula Franklin labelled scientific papers as "the rabbit-droppings of Academe." Anne McMillan, President of the Women's Caucus of the Association of Canadian Physicists, outlined several grades of "pernicious paternalism," using lines from Freeman's various public utterances (including a letter to Ann 199 Landers) as a testing scale. Dr. Pamela Woolf of Princeton University climaxed and concluded her key-note address on the problems of ethics and scientific...


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