Dr. Harold Lewis sent this today via email with a request to make it public here. I’m happy to oblige. Read the letter to understand the movie poster.- Anthony
When on October 6 I sent you my letter of resignation from APS , I of course expected the Empire to strike back in one way or another. It pleased me however, when I read your response, to find a very minimum of ad hominem attacks, confined mostly to apparently irresistible eruptions of “Lewis is a liar.” (“His statements are all false” is the equivalent.) So I thank you for that courtesy.
What took me by surprise was the pusillanimous, almost puerile, tone of the comment, which reads more like an ad for a used-car lot than as a declaration of a great scientific society. All our products have passed a complete inspection by our factory-trained mechanics. We’re making no money on this, take it and be thankful. Etc. Not a single major issue confronted in any substantive way. Yet everyone knows about the sloppy handling of the 2007 statement; everyone knows about the financial investments of many of the major players; there is plenty of dirt in the public domain, yet you continue to pretend it is all in a different universe.
Curt, you cannot have written such a shabby document.
Roger Cohen has written an incisive deconstruction of your response, and I can add little, so let me turn to the repair options. For the record, though my resignation from APS gives me no standing, my objective here is to help slow the APS rush toward the cliff. This is what I think must be done at the proximate meeting of the Council.
1.The 2007 statement should be simply withdrawn. No excuses, no caveats, no unnecessary embarrassment, no statement of principles, no references to future research, simply withdrawn. It was a mistake. This is the sine qua non for restoring the honor of APS.
2. The Council should promulgate a transparent confict-of-interest policy, comparable to those used by the government. Those offended by this might even serve under reasonable constraints. Others should not serve. Many know how to do this. It is insane to have people with millions of dollars at stake determining APS policy on such matters.
3.The APS management has become a conglomerate force in itself. This is largely through neglect, because the Council is drawn too specifically through its major fields, and in all too many cases the policies are drawn by very few members, often with an axe to grind. It is too easy to push them through the Council, the members of which are in the dark. There is a wise observation (not due to Archimedes) that if any organization is left alone, the lightweights will rise to the top.