Letters to the editors

We publish here a letter which has been addressed to the SGA News Editorial by Prof. Pierre Routhier, one of the founders of the SGA and former Professor of Economic Geology at the University P. et M. Curie, Lab. de Géologie Appliquée. Equipe Provinces Métallogeniques (CNRS), Paris, France.

On some hazardous words and on scientific ethics

About SGA News, nr. 3 (May 1997) I have written some remarks in a letter to the President and Editors. They concern two very different themes:
1) The use in the editorial of words borrowed from politics. I certainly do not blame the sincerity of Prof. Stumpfl but I wish to note how risky such an use may be. You quite always offend somebody! For example the undersigned "founding father" when he reads "nationalism" instead of "chauvinism". In my experience conscious (learned) nationalists do not behave in a chauvinistic way while people seemingly insensible to the cult of ancestral land may act as passionate jingoists.
To avoid heating of nationalist feelings, please do not use imperialist statements such as "English as the language of science" (italics are mine)! Let them to John Garfield and his narrow thinking followers. Even when accepted as a fact the today situation should not obliterate: 1) another fact: many other languages can convey limpid science; and 2) the initial wish of the "founding fathers" to maintain some vestiges of language diversity as a symbol of a truly international mind.

2) The article on "Mineral exploration in the Iberian Pyrite Belt" where the (short) list of references did not mention the work of my former team.
Prof. Lluis Fontboté, co-editor of the News, courteously answered (in good French) that two of the authors had recently published a synthetic paper with a rich list of references, and he joined this list. Actually, in Ore Geology Reviews 11, 1996, R. Saez, G. R. Almodovar and E. Pascual listed more than 130 papers and books including those by M. Lécolle (thesis, 1977) and P. Routhier et al. (1978).
I am appeased and cordially thank L. Fontboté for the information. Now, as he himself underlined, a more general problem of ethics and also of efficiency remains open: would it be appropriate not to mention works older than X years? With X=10, or 5 or even 2 as can be verified in so many to-day publications?! If we applied such a rule many detailed descriptive memoirs and most treaties of Metallogeny would be soon forgotten. Then, the history of our field would become obscure to young researchers and even to older science historians. Let us help to saveguard this thesaurus. And say: there is still no better way than to put confidence in the integrity of authors and the knowledge and vigilance of referees and editors.
To end allow me to mention a "wretched" book where, under a surname, I described many violations of ethics in scientific circles; written in French it is nevertheless rich in anglo-saxon examples...
Jean Destouches - Science, le cycle infernal (order to Editions Godefroy de Bouillon, 113-119 rue Lecourbe, 75015 Paris. Tel: 01 45 31 33 65. Price: 80 FF).

Pierre Routhier, 21 rue Charles Fourier, 75013 Paris, France