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December 28, 1984

The Troglodyte Frieze, Revisited

Author Affiliations

Rockville, Md

JAMA. 1984;252(24):3351. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350240009005

On the main building of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a frieze honoring the immortals of science—Newton, Lavoisier, Archimedes, and Pasteur, among others. Similarly, mused former presidential science adviser Edward E. David, Jr, in a recent Science1 editorial, might there be tucked away in some dank, moldy MIT subbasement a "troglodyte frieze" commemorating those who have retarded scientific progress? Certainly, there is no shortage of historical candidates for such a monumental work; those deserving intellectual perdition include the persecutors of Galileo, the perpetrators of the Piltdown Man hoax, and the supporters of Lysenkoism.

Those who have served as midwives at recombinant DNA's birth of a new generation of biotechnology could add some new candidates. The overzealous souls pushing government overregulation of the products and processes of recombinant DNA technology, for instance. Or the sophists who invoke shopworn analogies to nuclear war and chestnut blight or little-understood but chilling