Richard G. Petty, MD

Science and Medicine at Your Fingertips

There is a very important initiative which will likely have far reaching consequences.

A number of organizations are creating a Public Library of Science (PLOS), which is a non profit organization of scientists and physicians who are committed to making the world’s scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. The impressive Board of Directors includes the Nobel Prize winner Harold E. Varmus, Chairman of the Board, and President & Chief Executive, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York; Patrick O. Brown

, Stanford University School of Medicine and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Michael Eisen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory University of California at Berkeley.

Some of the journals that are relevant to Health, Integrated Medicine, Meaning and Purpose are in the "journals" section in the side bar on the left.

Let me explain why this is so important. Since the early days of science, most of what has been written has been hard to get at and therefore often open to misunderstanding and misquotation. Books – including textbooks – are full of errors that have been repeated from one to another, in most cases simply because the authors did not bother to check their sources. There’s a good example in popular literature. Book after book has repeated the story of the Hundredth Monkey. According to the story, Japanese scientists in the 1950s discovered that when a hundred monkeys learned a new task, monkeys elsewhere – without any physical means of contact – suddenly and spontaneously learned the same thing. The idea was that once the global monkey mind learned something, then the information was available to monkeys everywhere.

A number of years ago I looked at all the original research papers, copies of which are lodged in the Senate House Library in the University of London. The papers showed that the whole thing was untrue! There is a short piece about the hoax here.

If the papers had all been openly available, this urban legend would never have been able to take root.

Our next task will be to show people without a strong scientific background how to go about reading a paper: it is not as simple as it may seem, but is a learned skill. So almost anybody can be shown how to do it.

This is a terrific step toward greater freedom of information and everyone involved deserves our thanks.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

Comments

2 Responses to “Science and Medicine at Your Fingertips”
  1. Peter Suber says:

    Hi Richard: PLoS is part of a larger movement for open access to peer-reviewed research literature, and a lot has happened since PLoS was launched in 2001. For details, see my Timeline [ http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/timeline.htm ], and for daily updates see my blog, Open Access News [ http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/fosblog.html ].

  2. Dear Peter,

    Thank you so much for your note, and the outstanding work that you and others are doing.

    A lot of people have expresed an interest in my brief piece about this initiative and so I have just subscribed to your blog so that my readers can all keep abreast of your daily updates.

    This is an extraordinary revolution.

    Kind regards,

    RP

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