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Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Adlai E. Stevenson

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  • Criminology
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Political Science


Hon. Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson Chiaago, Illinoti ~une 6, 1955 Dear Qov. Stevenson: I am writing to crommnt on your fti apeeah last Thureday at the N.Y.U. Medical Center, as reported ln Fridsy’s New York Times. Thelle is hardly a word in it at ph tih I oould help but applaud, and enthusias- UcaUy. In hopee, hawever, that January 1957 will fi& you in a better position to do a,nmthing about the problems you brought up, I want to explain Why mme saLntlats (as well a8 the A.tI.A.) mq be as apprehen- sive about too much Uedetral support for research as about too little. You put your finger on W issue yourself when you referred to the “polity of cutting off grants for private reeearch where there is no con- c&able seuuritg just ffics$ionfl. Do you think thick has no bearing on wfwrtber “government has any desire or intention to dominate medical educa- tion” ; isn’t this a “hint or whisper of dod.nationtt? I hops and real&e that a more enlightened admin&stration will take measuree to minim&e this ttsi.ckness, awful timidity~l. However, in these daya, the power to support research is the power to destroy it, and we should be careful not to leave that power to politlual whimsy. The only solution that I can bee is a procedural one. I mentioned misguided security fears as only one example of the motives that may lead to trouble in the centralized administration of research funda. The administration of the law has become circumscribed by constitutional limitations, for example, the rights of citizens to equal protectionnof the laws. From contemporary csses, a layman judges that there are no such limits to the discretion of the government when it comes to hiring people for j&bs, or the administration of rsaear~h funds. But these actlrities have an impact on the liberties of the s4.entiat which ie no less than that of the criminal law. Until we have worked out the means of protecting tie beneficiaries of governmental gifts from the possibility of arbitrary discr

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