Reaffirm core principles of scientific inquiry

Reaffirm core principles of scientific inquiry

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Lev Reyzin started this petition to Professional societies and

On January 8th, the following open letter was sent to the Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), signed by 50 academics in computing and closely related areas.

Now, we ask those who support the principles stated in our letter to add their names here. This change.org petition is not limited to academics or computer scientists; it is open to anyone wants to stand up for the core principles of scientific inquiry. The full text of the open letter appears below.

Dear CACM Editor,

We are a group of researchers, industry experts, academics, and educators, writing with sadness and alarm about the increasing use of repressive actions aimed at limiting the free and unfettered conduct of scientific research and debate. Such actions have included calls for academic boycotts, attempts to get people fired, inviting mob attacks against ‘offending’ individuals, and the like. We support discussion of policies aimed at a more diverse and inclusive society; a range of opinions is natural. We condemn all attempts to coerce scientific activities into supporting or opposing specific social-political beliefs, values, and attitudes, including attempts at preventing researchers from exploring questions of their choice, or at restricting the free discussion and debate of issues related to scientific research.

Such actions are antithetical to the very nature of scientific inquiry, which often advances most through the pursuit of that which others believe to be implausible, banal, or wrong-headed. Debate must be free of prior restraint, and the use of public shaming or similar tactics to restrict the scope of scientific research and discussion is regressive and contrary to the values expressed in the ACM Code of Ethics. Such actions are particularly odious when directed toward junior colleagues and students, who are especially vulnerable. 

We urge the community to reaffirm their core principles that:

- Scientific work should be judged on the basis of scientific merit, independent of the researcher's identity or personal views,
- Discussion and debate in the scientific community must be free of prior restraint as to topic or viewpoint, and
- No individual should suffer harassment or attack based on their personal or political views, religion, nationality, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Scientific discourse should be based on mutual respect, use of civil language, and professional conduct. Indeed, all disagreements in the scientific community, however heated or fraught, should be addressed through argument and persuasion and not through personal attacks or by coercively shutting down those with dissenting points of view. 

In short, challenging and debating ideas is always acceptable and ought to be encouraged. Marginalizing, intimidating, or attacking the holders of those ideas is not.

Signed,

Scott Aaronson, David J. Bruton Centennial Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin

Russ Abbott, Professor, Department of Computer Science, California State University, Los Angeles

Ezio Biglieri, Honorary Professor, Department of Information and Communication Technologies, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Diane Bischak, Professor Emerita, Department of Operations and Supply Chain Management, University of Calgary

Alex Bronstein, Professor, Department of Computer Science, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Edith Cohen, Visiting Full Professor, School of Computer Science, Tel Aviv University and Research Scientist, Google

Pamela Cosman, Distinguished Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, San Diego

Harry Crane, Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, Rutgers University and Co-Founder, Researchers.One

Cassio de Campos, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Eindhoven University of Technology

Pedro Domingos, Professor Emeritus, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington

Shlomo Dubnov, Professor, Department of Music and of Computer Science and Engineering (Affiliate), University of California, San Diego

Anthony Ephremides, Distinguished University Professor and Cynthia Kim Eminent Professorship Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Maryland College Park

Matthias Felleisen, Trustee Professor, College of Computer Sciences, Northeastern University

Yuval Filmus, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Eugene Fiume, Professor and Dean of Applied Sciences, Department of Computing Science, Simon Fraser University

Georgios B. Giannakis, Professor and Endowed Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Minnesota

Joe Guinness, Associate Professor, Department of Statistics and Data Science, Cornell University

Thore Husfeldt, Professor, Department of Computer Science, Lund University and IT University of Copenhagen

Joaquim Jorge, Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Lisbon

Reuben Kirkham, Lecturer (Assistant Professor Equivalent), Department of Human Centred Computing, Monash University

Bjørn Kjos-Hanssen, Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Sergiu Klainerman, Eugene Higgins Professor, Department of Mathematics and Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics, Princeton University

Aryeh Kontorovich, Professor, Department of Computer Science, Ben-Gurion University

Daniel Lemire, Professor, Department of Science and Technology, University of Quebec (TÉLUQ)

Marius Leordeanu, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, Polytechnic University of Bucharest

Jeffrey Lipton, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and of Computer Science and Engineering (Affiliate), University of Washington

Shachar Lovett, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, San Diego

Jerzy Marcinkowski, Professor, Institute of Informatics, University of Wrocław

Ryan Martin, Professor, Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University and Co-Founder, Researchers.One

Norman Matloff, Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of California, Davis

Timothy McGuire, Instructional Professor, Computer Science & Engineering, Texas A&M University

James E. Moore, II, Professor, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Southern California

Richard Moot, Research Scientist, Laboratory of Computer Science, Robotics and Microelectronics of Montpellier, French National Centre for Scientific Research

Alex Olshevsky, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston University

Klaus Ostermann, Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Tübingen

Periklis A. Papakonstantinou, Associate Professor, Department of Management Science and Information Systems, Rutgers University

Judea Pearl, Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus, Department of Computer Science, University of California, Los Angeles

Bernhard Pfahringer, Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Waikato

Keshav Pingali, Professor and W.A. “Tex” Moncrief Chair of Computing, Department of Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin

Lev Reyzin, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago

Ilya Safro, Associate Professor, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Delaware

Niculae Sebe, Professor, Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science, University of Trento

Chunhua Shen, Professor, School of Computer Science, University of Adelaide

Alex Simonelis, Research Scholar in Residence, Department of Computer Science, Dawson College

Jan Šnajder, Associate Professor, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, University of Zagreb

Ari Trachtenberg, Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston University

Pavan Turaga, Associate Professor, School of Arts, Media and Engineering, Arizona State University

Etienne Vouga, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin

Michael Vyalyi, Professor, Faculty of Computer Science, National Research University Higher School of Economics

Asher Yahalom, Professor and Vice Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Ariel University

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