Policy ForumEthics

Forbidden Knowledge

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Science  11 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5711, pp. 854
DOI: 10.1126/science.1107576

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This Policy Forum provides an empirical assessment of the nature and occurrence of "forbidden knowledge,"-philosophical shorthand for the censorship of knowledge that is controversial, taboo, or politically sensitive. Kempner et al. interviewed 41 scientists about experiences or knowledge with science that had been suppressed. Although science is shaped by formal regulations and policies, the authors found that most constraints described by respondents are informal or are self-imposed, reflecting social, political, and cultural pressures on what is studied, how studies are performed, how data are interpreted, and how results are disseminated.