In the past few weeks, a handful of researchers around the globe have publicly renounced their connections to US scientific societies in protest of the US-led war in Iraq. The most widely circulated protest was a terse e-mail written by the prominent neural networking theorist Daniel Amit to the journal Physical Review E, which is published by the American Physical Society. The journal's editors had asked Amit, who is trained in statistical mechanics, to review a manuscript.

"I will not at this point correspond with any American institution," was Amit's blunt response, written on March 21. "Some of us have lived through 1939."

Pressed by the journal's editor to reconsider, Amit was resolute. "What we are watching today, I believe, is a culmination of 10–15 years of mounting barbarism of the American culture the world over, crowned by the achievements of science and technology as a major weapon of...

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