Suppression: it's everywhere

Chapter 2 of Suppression Stories by Brian Martin (Wollongong: Fund for Intellectual Dissent, 1997), pages 17-32.

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The struggle over Human Sciences helped me to see a pattern. I had read about other cases in which environmental researchers or teachers had come under attack. The denial of Jeremy's tenure was part of a larger picture of "suppression of environmental scholarship." It all seems obvious to me now but at the time it struck me like a revelation.

In June 1978, Richard Dunford, then doing a PhD at ANU, gave me a 1976 article from the Australian journal Arena. It was by Peter Springell and called "For the freedom to comment by scientists." Springell had worked as a scientist for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the large Australian government research body commonly known as CSIRO. In the early 1970s, while working at the CSIRO Division of Animal Genetics in Rockhampton, Queensland, Springell began to be involved with environmental research. He encountered quite a few obstacles, some of them amazingly unfair.

CSIRO has an internal review system for publications: they are screened within the organisation before they can be sent to journals. Springell wrote some environmental research papers on topics such as beef production and lead in petrol. He was told that he could not submit them as an employee of CSIRO. However, he was allowed to submit them using his home address. From the point of view of editors and readers, a home address rather than an institutional address lowers one's credibility. Springell found out that the chief of his division, J. M. Rendel, who objected to Springell's papers going out under CSIRO auspices, had actually published a paper on "consciousness" - a topic having nothing to do with division's work - using his CSIRO affiliation. Springell did not endear himself to Rendel when he pointed out the hypocrisy involved.

Springell was not one to suffer quietly. He took the issue of the treatment of his environmental work to senior CSIRO officials and then to politicians. He complained publicly about the lack of environmental research in CSIRO. His dissent was met with hostility. Attempts were made to dismiss him for inefficiency, but since Springell published more research than most of his colleagues, these attempts failed. Then he was transferred from Queensland to Melbourne. Springell decided this move was political rather than scientific and refused to go. CSIRO officials then began dismissal proceedings. Springell resisted them. Various tricks were used against him. Eventually he decided to leave and take another job.

Springell's article in Arena told his story briefly and effectively. It contained a host of references backing up his claims. His story had received national publicity. It was essentially the story of a scientist who was harassed by his employer because he pursued environmental research and refused to shut up about it.

In February 1978 I received a letter from Clyde Manwell, Professor of Zoology at the University of Adelaide. He had read a recent article of mine in the Ecologist magazine and felt considerable affinity with my views. After some letters and phone conversations, he invited me to Adelaide to give a seminar. In October that year I made the trip and gave a talk on "Environmental studies and politics." As a result of this contact, I found out about Manwell's experiences. It is one of the most astounding stories I've encountered.

Manwell moved to Australia from England in 1970 to take up the second chair of Zoology at the University of Adelaide. He introduced environmental issues in his teaching and pursued some research with environmental themes. Then in 1971 Manwell and his wife Ann Baker wrote a letter to the local newspaper, the Adelaide Advertiser. They actually wrote it from their home address, but the newspaper, knowing Manwell's position, added his university affiliation. Their letter was a criticism of some aspects of the South Australian government's programme for spraying pesticides against fruit fly. Note that their letter was not a broadside: it only criticised some aspects of the fruit-fly spraying programme.

The response to this letter was immediate and dramatic. Several politicians denounced Manwell in the South Australian parliament. Back at the university, the senior professor of Zoology, H. G. Andrewartha - the only other full professor in the department - wrote a letter to the Vice-Chancellor making a number of complaints about Manwell's performance. Some of these were ludicrous, such as a charge that there were four errors in statistics in Manwell and Baker's book on evolution. (It is well documented that errors in statistics are rife in published research. As it turned out, only one of the four alleged errors was actually wrong, and it didn't affect the conclusion.)

The Vice-Chancellor took Andrewartha's letter seriously, and launched proceedings that could have led to Manwell's dismissal from his tenured post. This was the beginning of a four-year struggle for Manwell, in which he defended himself against the charges and against harassment within the Department of Zoology. There was also a lot of support for Manwell, from some colleagues and especially from students, who even on one occasion occupied the Council Chamber in his defence. Eventually in 1975 the charges were dropped.

What was behind all this? One factor was hostility to environmentalism which, in the early 1970s, was seen as a dangerous challenge to prevailing practices. It was also noted by a number of people that H. G. Andrewartha, who made the complaint against Manwell, had strong links with the South Australian Department of Agriculture and its fruit-fly spraying programme.

In the case of Peter Springell, my information was based on a brief but well-referenced article. On Clyde Manwell's case I had much more. There were quite a few documents, including a statement written by the Vice-Chancellor that was published as part of the settlement of the case, articles in the University of Adelaide student newspaper On Dit, and various unpublished internal documents. In addition, Clyde told me a lot of things that had never been written down.

At this stage I knew a lot about a few cases: Jeremy Evans, Peter Springell and Clyde Manwell. There was also the case of John Hookey, who had informed Jeremy about his expected denial of tenure in the ANU Law Faculty. In each of these cases, a person had undertaken environmental research or teaching, or spoken out about environmental issues, in a way that threatened powerful vested interests. In each case they had come under attack as a result.

The Evans, Springell and Manwell cases were prominent. There was a lot of media coverage and activity and lots of publicly available information. The Hookey case was low key and, except for the Evans case, might never have come to my attention. Obviously there weren't all that many high-profile cases, otherwise we would read about them every day. My suspicion was that the high-profile cases were the tip of an iceberg of suppression, and that cases like John Hookey's were more typical. Several things led me to think this way.

Cases where there is a direct attack on people - denying them tenure or threatening to dismiss them - are easy to document. There are procedures for tenure and dismissal. Therefore decisions can be contested, information can be generated and media stories produced. But in many situations there is no easy way to provide documentation. For example, what if there is a bias against environmental research by the editor of a journal? This could even be unconscious bias, as in an assessment that environmental arguments are less scientific than other sorts of arguments. In any event, environmental articles might be rejected where articles on other topics, of similar calibre, are more easily accepted. This could be called suppression of environmental scholarship. But it would be virtually impossible to document.

A similar process occurs in job applications. Often there are quite a few applicants who are good enough to be appointed. The selection is made by a few people and usually no public justification is required for the elimination of certain applicants. Bias - against women, ethnic minorities, political activists, etc. - is quite possible. It is also very difficult to document.

These sorts of abstract arguments make it plausible that prominent cases are the tip of the iceberg. But what really convinced me was something else: Clyde Manwell's experiences and my own.

Clyde Manwell's case received enormous attention in Adelaide over several years. As a result, Clyde received many letters from individuals who wanted to tell him about their own experiences in being attacked for their views. I have no way to assess this information directly, as I've seen only a few of the letters - Clyde took requests for confidentiality seriously. But I saw enough and heard enough to convince me that it was entirely plausible that for every case like Clyde's, there were tens or hundreds of other cases of suppression which never received any publicity.


My experiences at CRES

So far I may have given the impression that I was a disinterested observer of other people's struggles. But I had my own experiences to draw on. These had primed me to conceptualise the phenomenon of suppression.

When I first arrived at the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies - CRES for short - at the beginning of 1976, I realised that my views on both environmental and social issues were much more radical than those of my superiors. I was a research assistant - a fairly junior position - in the Applied Systems Analysis group, headed by Peter Young. My view was that environmental problems persisted largely because of the dominance of powerful groups in society, especially governments and large corporations. However, the research in Applied Systems Analysis was concerned with technical aspects of pollution. The most likely use for such research was minor tinkering with environmental standards, not a re-examination of the driving forces behind environmental problems.

I decided to keep a relatively low profile in CRES. By my own standards I did keep a low profile, but it wasn't low enough. Outside of work, I joined Friends of the Earth and became active in the campaign against uranium mining. At CRES I sometimes offered comments at seminars, pointing out the social dimensions of environmental issues. Stephen Boyden made the same sort of comments, as well he might, considering that he had been the driving force behind setting up the Human Sciences Program. Stephen's comments were politely received. He was an experienced researcher, a professorial fellow and head of the Human Ecology group at CRES and could not easily be dismissed. My similar comments caused more consternation. After all, I was just a young research assistant.

In addition, I did not respond well to Peter Young's rather authoritarian managerial style. For example, I was working on a book - published several years later as The Bias of Science - and sent sample chapters to some publishers. Peter demanded to know what was in my packages. He insisted that either he be allowed to read my writings prior to posting, or that I pay for the postage myself. I chose the second option. There were a number of other tensions between us, some of them relating to our different disciplinary backgrounds, his in control engineering and mine in theoretical physics.

My initial appointment at CRES was a one-year contract, but I was told at the beginning that I could expect at least another year in the job. But towards the end of 1976, I was told by the head of CRES, Professor Frank Fenner, that he and Peter Young had decided that it would be better not to renew my contract.

There was no way I could contest the decision. After all, my contract was only for one year. In addition, there was no easy way to demonstrate any bias. True, another research assistant in Applied Systems Analysis, Tony Jakeman, who was appointed at the same time as me on a similar basis, had his contract extended. But Tony had done more that Peter had wanted, tackling the control theory modelling most effectively. It could be argued that my performance wasn't up to scratch.

Nevertheless, it seemed to me that my environmental activism was involved in some way. Frank Fenner was not an enthusiast of radical environmentalism. According to a friend at the local environment centre, he had been a supporter of the "old guard" at the Australian Conservation Foundation that was ousted by the "radicals" in the 1973 elections. CRES itself reflected a fairly technocratic orientation to environmental issues. The two main groups were Applied Systems Analysis, headed by Peter Young, and Resource Economics, headed by Professor Stuart Harris, a traditional economist. Stephen Boyden's Human Ecology group had been put in CRES as an afterthought, when Stephen sought a new home for his research.

My case, I felt in retrospect, was one that might have involved suppression, but for which there was insufficient evidence to prove much one way or the other. My experience thus primed me to recognise cases of suppression and also to appreciate that most possible cases are clouded by ambiguity and uncertainty.

As soon as I found out about the nonrenewal of my contract at CRES, I began applying for other jobs. I was lucky to be offered a research assistant position in the Department of Applied Mathematics at ANU. It was also a one-year contract, but this time I was working in a situation where my radical views were less of a threat. CRES dealt with environmental problems but also set itself up as a centre for scholarly research. Radical views and environmental activism were seen as a threat by some of the senior members of CRES. By contrast, radical views and environmental activism were largely irrelevant in the Department of Applied Mathematics. In addition, my new boss, Professor Archie Brown, seemed to hold the old-fashioned view that as long as I did my work satisfactorily, it didn't matter what else I did. So when I had a letter on uranium mining published in the Canberra Times, no one commented one way or the other. It was not seen as having anything to do with applied mathematics!

My experiences at CRES undoubtedly made me more receptive to the plight of Human Sciences and willing to take up the case of Jeremy's tenure. There was also another link. In my final days at CRES, I began to write a critique of CRES itself, with sections on the shortcomings of each group within CRES when it came to analysing environmental problems. I obtained comments on drafts from about a dozen people within CRES. This paper was published in the Ecologist, a British magazine, in July 1977, and caused quite a stir in CRES and around Canberra at the time. Forthright published comments about an actual programme were not common. Although lots of people knew about my article, no one told the senior members of CRES, who were shocked when it appeared. I was told by one person at CRES that Peter Young - to his credit - wanted to invite me to give a seminar at CRES, so that my views could be challenged. Frank Fenner apparently ruled against this.

Publication of the article cemented my position as a critic of the establishment. I assumed that I could never again get a position at CRES. Undoubtedly this made me more willing to take up the causes of other challengers of orthodoxy. One of the people who read my Ecologist article was Clyde Manwell. As noted earlier, he wrote me as a result, beginning a long interaction.


More suppression cases

During 1979, as the struggle over Human Sciences proceeded, I thought it might be useful to write an article about the difficulties faced by environmental teachers and researchers who threatened the status quo. I decided to base the article around a series of case studies. I had good material about Jeremy Evans, John Hookey, Peter Springell and Clyde Manwell. I began talking over my ideas with several people. My friend Mark Diesendorf told me about a New Zealand environmentalist, Bob Mann, who had come under attack by the administration of the University of Auckland. The Vice-Chancellor initiated dismissal proceedings. As it turned out, Mann's colleagues rallied to his defence and the attack eventually failed. Mark gave me a few documents about Bob Mann's case, which were enough for me to include a relevant entry in my article.

An article with a series of cases is one thing, but I wanted to do more - to develop a framework for understanding the attacks. I drew upon my ongoing studies of the exercise of power in science. I argued that science - both the practice of science and scientific knowledge - is strongly influenced by the dominant groups that fund research and use scientific findings. The other dominant influence is the internal hierarchy within science, in which some elite scientists, such as lab directors and editors of key journals, have enormous power over the direction of research. The outside influences plus the internal hierarchy make up what I called the "power structure of science."

I had been reading books and articles on the sociology of science for several years. From my point of view, most of this material was quite uncritical. But there were a few treatments of those scientific elites who exercise power, who I called the "political scientific elite." Much less interesting to me was the study of intellectual authorities in science, who I called the "cognitive scientific elite."

I also brought in the familiar idea of paradigms in science. A paradigm is essentially a standard way of doing things in a field, including an accepted framework of ideas and usual methods. Anyone who challenges the dominant paradigm - such as a supporter of an alternative paradigm - is likely to encounter difficulties. But "difficulties" means that someone else is able to exercise power against the challengers. In practice this means the political scientific elite and its patrons in government and industry.

Different case studies illustrated different aspects of my analysis. For example, the attack on Clyde Manwell came directly from a member of the "political scientific elite," namely H. G. Andrewartha, senior professor of zoology, who carried weight with the Vice-Chancellor. According to Ann Baker, Andrewartha and some of his supporters had links with the South Australian Department of Agriculture which in turn was committed to the use of pesticides produced by chemical companies, illustrating the ties between scientists, government and industry. On the other hand, the struggle over Human Sciences had more to do with its challenge to the standard model of intellectual endeavour in the university. Outside vested interests were not directly implicated.

To bolster my case, I drew upon a range of material. I had been reading quite a few books and articles about attacks on intellectual dissent. Most of this material concerned experiences in the United States, but it was still relevant. There were excellent books documenting the attacks on dissidents during the late 1940s and early 1950s, under so-called "McCarthyism," notably Cedric Belfrage's The American Inquisition 1945-1960 and David Caute's The Great Fear: The Anti-Communist Purge under Truman and Eisenhower. There were also articles about attacks on radical scholars in the late 1960s and 1970s, a phenomenon not nearly so widely recognised as McCarthyism. The more I looked, the more I found evidence that attacks on dissidents are the rule rather than the exception.

More specific to the issue of academic freedom was the work of Lionel S. Lewis, who had studied cases officially brought to the attention of the American Association of University Professors. He found that attacks from outside the university were more common in the first half of the century, but since then attacks from within - namely from university administrations - became more common. This fitted in with my picture of the key role of the political scientific elite in suppression. Most suppression operated within the organisation; the local elites acted to protect their own power and status, which in many cases was linked to powerful outside interests.

There were lots of relevant ideas and references that I tried to pack into the article. For example, Joseph Haberer in his book Politics and the Community of Science documented how most of the German scientific community - especially the scientific elite - had readily cooperated with the Nazis. Haberer introduced the expression "prudential acquiescence" to describe this phenomenon. The current cooperation between the scientific community and dominant political and economic groups was not so very different.

I couldn't resist using a great quote from C. Wright Mills, the famous radical sociologist. Mills wrote "the deepest problem of freedom for teachers is not the occasional ousting of a professor, but a vague general fear - sometimes politely known as 'discretion,' 'good taste,' or 'balanced judgment.' It is a fear which leads to self-intimidation and finally becomes so habitual that the scholar is unaware of it. The real restraints are not so much external prohibitions as control of the insurgents by the agreements of academic gentlemen." This sort of social control is the usual mechanism; suppression is only used occasionally, to warn people against stepping out of line.

I worked away at my article, checking details with every individual mentioned. By early January 1980 I had completed a draft, which I promptly sent out to a considerable number of people for comment. At that stage it had the poor title "Functions of the scientific elite structure." Naturally I sent copies to Jeremy Evans, John Hookey, Peter Springell, Clyde Manwell and Bob Mann. I also sent copies to a number of others who I thought would be likely to give me useful comments.

For several years I had been corresponding with Richard and Val Routley, two radical philosophers who were involved with environmental issues, anarchism and social critique generally. We exchanged copies of draft articles and sent each other detailed comments. They lived near Braidwood, not so very far from Canberra, and Richard actually worked at ANU doing full-time philosophy research, but at that time seldom visited the campus. So we mainly communicated by post.

Val sent me a long letter with lots of insightful comments from their reading of the paper. She also mentioned that some of their own experiences might be relevant. I arranged to meet them within a couple of weeks to obtain more information. As it turned out, their story was another important case.

In the early 1970s, Richard and Val wrote a book entitled Fight for the Forests. It was a frontal attack on standard forestry practice and the assumptions underlying it. Richard arranged for it to be published by the Research School of Social Sciences at ANU. However, members of the Forestry Department at ANU obtained word of the impending publication. Apparently as a result, the Vice-Chancellor wrote requesting that the book be shown to the head of the Forestry Department and revised in accordance with any comments he might make. This attempt at censorship failed. Fight for the Forests was published in 1973 and two later editions appeared in 1974 and 1975. It was and still remains the best critique of Australian forestry available. Environmentalists and others sought it eagerly. All three editions sold out, but no money was made available for future printings or editions.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of this story was that Richard Routley was barred from using the Forestry Department library on campus for six months in 1974. David Dumaresq, who worked as a research assistant for Richard, used to use the library on Richard's behalf, almost surreptitiously. David later worked in the Human Sciences Program and obtained an additional taste of the treatment of environmental radicals. When the bar on Richard's use of the library was brought to the attention of a new head of the Forestry Department, it was rescinded.

In her letter to me with comments on my draft paper, Val not only mentioned their own experiences with Fight for the Forests but also suggested that I contact Peter Rawlinson, a forests activist who worked in the Zoology Department at La Trobe University in Melbourne. I talked to Peter on the phone and in April received from him a long letter and pile of documents. This case actually involved not only Peter but also Philip Keane, a lecturer in the Botany Department at La Trobe.

In January and February 1977, Peter had given radio and television interviews in which he criticised the Forests Commission of Victoria, especially regarding the spread of a tree disease caused by cinnamon fungus. At the time he was the official spokesperson for the Conservation Council of Victoria. The chairman of the Forests Commission, Dr F. R. Moulds, made complaints to senior officials of La Trobe University. A courier was sent to the university to hand-deliver letters of complaint. Eventually 10 letters were delivered. Moulds also complained about Philip Keane, who had written an article about cinnamon fungus in a weekly newspaper, the National Times. Moulds suggested that the administration should take action against Rawlinson and Keane.

This story had a happy ending. The Vice-Chancellor defended the academic freedom of Rawlinson and Keane. The staff association also took a strong line against the attack. The Rawlinson and Keane cases were a nice addition to my list of cases. They showed that attacks can be resisted. They also fitted my provisional conclusion that direct attacks from the outside are less likely to succeed than attacks from the inside even allowing that they sometimes serve outside interests.

My contact with Richard and Val Routley led me to look more deeply into the forestry issue. The Forestry Department at ANU was one of the few places in Australia where professional foresters were trained. It had strong links with the government forestry commissions and with the forest industries. These links included shared perspectives, conferences, consultations and even a humorously named international organisation, the Concatenated Order of the Hoo-Hoo. I was referred from one critic of the forestry establishment to another, collecting information and getting comments on a short section in my paper about forestry. Ray Hammond, who had worked for the NSW Forestry Commission, gave me many valuable comments. Ian Penna, who worked in Melbourne for the Australian Conservation Foundation, gave me information on links between the forest industries and government forestry commissions. Ian Penna referred me to John Dargavel, who had worked in the industry for 20 years and who at that time was undertaking a PhD in the Forestry Department, applying a left-wing perspective. And so on.

I diligently collected information and also noted down the names of everyone who had helped me. But there were also a few people who were quite willing to help but didn't want to be mentioned in my paper, not even in the acknowledgments. They were afraid to be associated with any criticism of the establishment, since it might jeopardise their careers.

Throughout the first half of 1980 I kept revising and expanding my paper, showing updated versions of appropriate sections to relevant people. This was before the days of word processors, and I was doing all the typing myself, so an entire new version wasn't such a simple matter. In May, I circulated a new full version to all the key people. By this stage I had collected 10 cases, including the dismissal of John Coulter which I'll describe in chapter 7. I submitted the paper to Science, which quickly rejected it, and then to Social Studies of Science, which did the same. (My experiences with publishing work on suppression are covered in chapter 8.) Then I tried the Ecologist, which had published my critique of CRES. To my delight, the paper appeared in the January-February 1981 issue. I had changed the title to "The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship," as suggested by Jeremy Evans. The Ecologist demoted this to a subtitle under a new title, "The scientific straightjacket."


When is it suppression?

One of the continual challenges in studying suppression cases is to decide whether suppression is actually involved. For example, I've never yet come across an academic administrator who openly admitted to an academic "We dismissed you because you were exercising your academic freedom in a way we didn't like." No, in every case some acceptable-sounding justification is offered: your performance is not good enough; you are derelict in your duties; your publications are not of the right type; your behaviour is improper; and so forth. These sorts of reasons are given because, almost always, those who initiate the action sincerely believe in the reasons. We're not dealing with goodies and baddies with labels attached, where the baddies have broken the law and know it. In suppression cases, everyone is sincere - at least that has always been my working hypothesis.

So how do I determine whether someone is being denied tenure because they don't deserve it in terms of academic merit or whether they are being discriminated against because of their gender, opinions or whatever? One very convenient method is what I call the "double standard test." If the justification for blocking a publication from CSIRO endorsement is that it falls outside the bounds of the organisation's research agenda - as was alleged in Peter Springell's case - then is the same criterion applied to all other staff and all other publications? When Springell pointed out that the chief of his division had published under CSIRO auspices a paper falling outside CSIRO's research agenda, he exposed the double standard involved. The obvious implication was that he was being victimised.

Similarly, in our statement about Jeremy's tenure case, we pointed out his satisfactory research performance and outstanding teaching performance, thereby showing the double standard: other academics with similar or inferior records were routinely granted tenure. One of the justifications for the threat to Clyde Manwell's position was the claim that there were four errors in statistics in his book co-authored with Ann Baker. To use such errors as a reason for threatening dismissal from a tenured position is unheard of - except in Clyde's case. Andrewartha later admitted that two of his allegations of errors were themselves wrong and a third confused and irrelevant. But, needless to say, Andrewartha's mistakes did not put his position in jeopardy.

The double standard test is part of the method. It can be used to show that there seems to be some unfairness. But unfairness occurs all the time, and only in some cases should it be called suppression. In suppression cases, the person involved does something that is threatening to a powerful group, such as carry out radical environmental teaching or research or make public statements on social issues.

In the most obvious cases of suppression, there is a close connection between an action by the dissident and the attack. Immediately after Clyde Manwell and Ann Baker's letter to the Adelaide Advertiser, Manwell was vehemently denounced in state parliament and soon afterwards the attempt at his dismissal began. Soon after Philip Keane and Peter Rawlinson publicly expressed their concerns about cinnamon fungus in Victorian forests, Moulds made his complaints to senior figures at La Trobe University.

When there is no close connection like this, things are a little fuzzier. Jeremy Evans was teaching for years and the Human Sciences Program was under constant threat before his tenure was denied. But of course there were no opportunities to deny tenure before the time arrived to take a decision. Nevertheless, a case like this needs a deeper analysis than a case where an attack comes immediately after a particular act.

Actually, I don't often encounter cases where there isn't at least a strong indication of suppression. The reason for this is simple. When there is a legitimate official reason, it is so hard to argue against it that few people do. To take an example, there are undoubtedly cases in which threatening articles are rejected by an editor on the legitimate grounds that they aren't well argued. The decision is "over determined," to use social science jargon. In these cases, articles might have been rejected on either grounds of quality or grounds of viewpoint. It's difficult to argue that suppression occurred in these cases, since it's hard to find people who are willing to say the articles should have been published.



My investigation of suppression of environmental scholarship was triggered by several factors. First was my involvement in the campaign to defend Human Sciences. Second was having recently read or heard about other attacks on environmental scholars, especially the cases of Peter Springell and Clyde Manwell. Third, my own experiences in CRES had prepared me to recognise the processes of suppression.

In collecting information and writing a paper, I learned as I went along. My studies of the role of power in science turned out to be highly relevant, as was my reading of books and articles about attacks on intellectual freedom.

To obtain more case material, it was helpful to talk to people. But probably most useful was sending people copies of my own writing on the topic, in this case a draft of my article. It showed them what I was trying to do and how I was presenting the information. It made them see how their own experiences might be relevant. And it gave them confidence in my own abilities and commitment to the cause of dissent. Until you see how someone is likely to use information you give them, you may have some reservations.

Probably the most important lesson was to check, double check, triple check and then do another check. To document a case of suppression is a sensitive issue. To document ten cases is even more risky. If a few facts can be easily challenged, they will be, and this will be used to discredit the entire argument. Accuracy was vital.

Of course, the "facts" are seldom simple issues of being right or wrong. There are always interpretations involved. Sometimes different people gave me different stories. Also, it was my article: I put my own stamp on the selection, organisation and interpretation of material. Nevertheless, I found it immensely helpful to circulate drafts for comment. It led me to new material and helped me hone my argument. It gave me confidence about the whole undertaking. Most of all, it made me realise that suppression was everywhere.