President’s Column

Pledge for Honest, Open, Fair but Tough Scientific Discourse

August 2008, Niels Kuster

The two most alarming complaints communicated to me by numerous researchers during discussions about the annual meeting in San Diego were that 1) the polarization between the “believer” and “non-believer” camps has become increasingly more evident in our Society and 2) well informed scientific discourse has become rare. With little to be learned or achieved in such a stifling and divisive environment, many are rethinking whether it is worth attending our meetings in the future.

It is vital for any scientific society to maintain a scientific discourse that is tough on the facts but always honest, open, constructive and fair. Our podium should not nurture those who are not curious enough to think “out of the box.” We should welcome and expect criticism, skepticism and debate through open discourse and accountability, especially because of the multidisciplinary nature of the field of bioelectromagnetics, in which everyone is a layman to a certain extent. It is indefensible, however, that innuendo, inherently political issues, personal insults and ignorance are accepted and condoned as fact because it undermines the objectives of our society and the scientists who work diligently, honestly and enthusiastically to advance science to improve the quality of human life.

For our joint meeting with EBEA in Davos, I am committed to providing a stimulating and fair environment for open dialogue, but I need your pledge as well to initiate candid and constructive debate and action, and to discourage ill-informed criticism, personal innuendo or politically influenced views of the experimental methods or results. Science always progresses faster through constructive dialogue between opposing views when knowledge is shared.