A Progress Report
|Results from the Statement||Page 6|
The results of our work over two and a half years have indeed become a 'snowball' of support and publicity. In the most recent newsletter (Volume 3, Number 2, November 1988), we've listed 24 organizational endorsements and 44 publications of the Seville Statement representing over 21 nations and 13 different languages.
Of course, not all our results have been positive. As already mentioned, we have found great difficulty obtaining coverage of the message of the Seville Statement in the mass media. We have also encountered difficulties obtaining the support of a number of organizations of scientists and academics that are specifically concerned with the issue of peace. With a few exceptions mentioned earlier, we have been told by such groups that 'we do not endorse or support statements that we ourselves do not write'. Although attempts have been made to appeal this rule, our appeals have not proved successful.
We have had a much more co-operative reception from professional scientific organizations that do not concern them- selves primarily with the issue of peace. To search for an explanation, it may be useful to consider the striking use of the word 'entrepreneur' in the following final remark from the letter from one organization of scientists for peace that does not sponsor statements that it does not initiate: ' Anyway, as an entrepreneur in these matters, I applaud the vigor with which you are pursuing this and send you our best regards. ' One possible interpretation of this could be that we are seen as competitors for a limited set of resources, for example, foundation grants, publicity, or audience.
The message of the Seville Statement has begun to penetrate into educational systems. A number of textbooks are planning to include a summary of the Statement, and we have received accounts of very effective classroom presentations. Also, there is an initiative to obtain endorsement by the American Association of Counseling and Development which represents school counselors throughout the US.
As for the content and the style of the Seville Statement, we have received remarkably little criticism. There was an exchange of letters in the Human Ethology Newsletter along with publication of the Statement with criticisms by two specialists in primate aggression. Among other things, they argued that we had slighted the potential contribution of studies on animal aggression to work for peace. Robert Hinde, a Seville signatory, responded to their arguments and concluded that the Statement is not intended as an attack on biological research, but 'rather, the Statement is intended to attack the misuse of biological data'.
Sometimes we are criticized by scientists who say that although we don't know of any biological basis for war as yet, perhaps future research will show that there is such a thing. This reminds one of arguments by proponents of racist theories who say that even if IQ differences between races can't be proven yet, perhaps they will be in the future. Of course, in some abstract, idealistic sense these arguments have merit, just as it can be said that no scientific knowledge is final and all knowledge may be amended with further research. However, in this particular case, as in the case of race and intelligence, there are practical political consequences of the way the issue is posed. At any given point in history, science and society must work with the best knowledge that we have.
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