Written in 2008, this book is a bit outdated in 2017.
A very odd little book, somewhere between a passionate essay and academic treatise on the efforts by governments to prevent information freedom and access in a variety of areas The book ranges from interesting to provocative, offering both concrete examples of ways information access has been denied and the problems it has caused, to proposing extensions of such limitations all possible, some probable then others and pointing out the consequences of those limitations as well.
A little conspiracy theory, a little reality i enjoyed this a lot especially when dealing with copyright law and cloning and what it has to do with out right to know and reason Fascinating if you are looking for a quick read on something you ve never thought about before.
Crime of Reason is an interesting, I want to say philosophical discussion, on the power of knowledge Laughlin delves into the power of knowledge and how the world has changed in the past decades due to it From governments envoking laws trade secrets, copyright, patents, treason, etc to keep it at bay and from the general public, believing that it would be harmful in the greater scheme I really enjoyed the read although it is a lot of information to take in and I did have to put it down after each chapter to process All in all I realised that the kind of knowledge a person has could potentially be harmful to the general public and we should be careful in what we share with the world Knowing how to build an atom or nuclear bomb could potentially have disastrous consequences On the other hand if we didn t share our knowledge of genetics we wouldn t have the medical advancements we have today So, the message I took from this is that knowledge is powerful and we should be careful how we end up using it If you are a knowledge seeker, do yourself a favour and give it a read
Poorly arguedLaughlin is rather inconsistent, so it s not even very clear what he s arguing for He fails to make several crucial distinctions, so that the freedom to think about certain subjects say, nuclear physics is not clearly distinguished from the freedom to act on one s knowledge such as the freedom to sell nuclear secrets to North Korea if you feel like it The basic problem running throughout the book is a moral practical dichotomy, so that he argues for a sort of platonic ideal of intellectual freedom, while regularly being forced to recognize that it is not at all practical or even desirable in many cases And his basic premise that information should be equally available to everyone isn t just false, it s impossible return return Surprisingly, the best chapter is probably the one on patent law, which he concludes This unhappy state of affairs has now led to loud cries for tort reform, both from concerned individuals and from businesses being bled dry by legal costs Yet while legislatures may enact reforms soon, most people think they are unlikely to do what it takes to restore respect for technical law ban patents for methods of reasoning, methods of communicating, discovery of things widely viewed as self evident, and discovery of phenomena that occur on their own when humans are not present That s or less accurate, though it could stand to be clear it depends, for instance, on what exactly he means by methods of communicating , but this is about as clear and accurate as he gets.
The Crime in Reason is in part reasoned argument, screed, and silly humor It was an enjoyable and quick read, but given the seriousness and depth of the topics covered, I didn t feel like I walked away with much new insight or a different perspective Maybe my views on intellectual property, gambling, nuclear hysteria, and the right to open learning were already inline with Laughlin, though he s thought, and certainly written, about them in depth than me On the other hand, I m not as keen to live on the moon.
Let me apologize for not providing a detailed and insightful review of this book, but this book simply does not warrant it The author is clearly a distinguished scholar, but I after reading this book I had the feeling that this work was a halfhearted attempt to toss together a collection of recent ideas It left me without any clear new insights, nor any compelling reason to recommend it to anyone else I was left mainly with the feeling that Dr Laughlin could have written a better book.
We All Agree That The Free Flow Of Ideas Is Essential To Creativity And We Like To Believe That In Our Modern, Technological World, Information Is Freely Available And Flows Faster Than Ever Before But According To Nobel Laureate Robert Laughlin, Acquiring Information Is Becoming A Danger Or Even A Crime Increasingly, The Really Valuable Information Is Private Property Or A State Secret, With The Result That It Is Now Easy For A Flash Of Insight, Entirely Innocently, To Infringe A Patent Or Threaten National Security The Public Pays Little Attention Because This Vital Information Is Technical But, Laughlin Argues, Information Is Often Labeled Technical So It Can Be Sequestered, Not Sequestered Because It S Technical The Increasing Restrictions On Information In Such Fields As Cryptography, Biotechnology, And Computer Software Design Are Creating A New Dark Age A Time Characterized Not By Light And Truth But By Disinformation And Ignorance Thus We Find Ourselves Dealing And With The Crime Of Reason, The Antisocial And Sometimes Outright Illegal Nature Of Certain Intellectual Activities The Crime Of Reason Is A Reader Friendly Jeremiad, On Bullshit For The Slashdot And Creative Commons Crowd A Short, Fiercely Argued Essay On A Problem Of Increasing Concern To People At The Frontiers Of New Ideas