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To Err is Not Divine

Ian Stewart, in the June 29, 1987 issue, advocated "Selling Mathematics to the Media" (p. 18). His enthusiasm led him to remark that "many mathematicians act as if putting an error into print is the End of the World. . . one need not. . . be too fearful of the odd blunder in print. The readers don't treat all this stuff as gospel, chaps." I commend his zeal, but protest such a cavalier attitude about the principle of veracity in publication. Occasional error is unavoidable, but should be experie

Joshua Lederberg
Ian Stewart, in the June 29, 1987 issue, advocated "Selling Mathematics to the Media" (p. 18). His enthusiasm led him to remark that "many mathematicians act as if putting an error into print is the End of the World. . . one need not. . . be too fearful of the odd blunder in print. The readers don't treat all this stuff as gospel, chaps."

I commend his zeal, but protest such a cavalier attitude about the principle of veracity in publication. Occasional error is unavoidable, but should be experienced with deep lament. I trust The Scientist, in publishing Stewart's opinion, in no way endorses his doctrine.

Joshua Lederberg
Rockefeller University
1230 York Ave., New York, NY 10021-6399

Lederberg is a member of the ISI Science Advisory Board
and an editorial consultant to The Scientist.

Editor's note: In no way.

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