Front Page Titles (by Subject) Freedom of Scientific Inquiry - Literature of Liberty, January/March 1979, vol. 2, No. 1
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Freedom of Scientific Inquiry - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, January/March 1979, vol. 2, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Freedom of Scientific Inquiry
“Science and the First Amendment: The Case of Wilhelm Reich.” Law and Liberty 4 (Spring 1978): 1–3, 6–8.
After escaping from Germany in the 1930s, the psychologist Wilhelm Reich conducted experiments in the United States from which he concluded that all living things were suffused with a sub-atomic primordial energy which he named “orgone energy.” Reich believed that neuroses, and even physical disease, were the result of the physiological blockage of the release of orgone into the body. Elimination of this blockage would rid the world not only of diseases such as cancer, but also of sociological malfunctions such as authoritarianism and to-talitarian governments.
His research was assisted by a number of doctors in the New England area. Reich constructed metal-lined boxes, called orgone energy accumulators, which he claimed collected the omnipresent energy for use in therapy. He published articles claiming success through orgone therapy in treating diseases such as cancer, and as news of this spread there was a demand for orgone boxes which Reich began to send to interested persons.
In 1954 the Food and Drug Administration maintained the accumulators were misbranded and adulterated within the meaning of the Food and Drug Act, and filed an action on libel of information seeking an injunction to prevent Reich and others from doing business in interstate commerce. Reich declined to enter an answer or appear in court, but wrote the judge that to participate “would, in my mind imply admission of the authority of this special branch of the government to pass judgment on primordial, pre-atomic cosmic orgone energy.” Moving by default, the government enjoined the defendents from further business and ordered the destruction and dismantling not only of the devices, but also of “certain listed descriptive literature.” When Reich ignored the injunction, he was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to two years in prison. He appealed arguing he was “engaged in basic scientific research which no agency of the Government had jurisdiction to interfere with or control.” The government replied that it had the power to prevent interstate commerce of devices of “alleged” therapeutic value if they were adulterated or misbranded. Reich's appeal was denied, his books were withdrawn from circulation, and his magazine and accumulators seized and burned. After eight months in prison, Reich died, late in 1957.
Franzen believes only two arguments might be advanced to treat scientific thought differently from other First Amendment speech: that it was never intended to protect demonstrable falsehood, and that science, unlike religion, offers objective proof so that there need be no objection to restrict the dessemination of demonstrably false scientific statements. But the Supreme Court has recognized the need to protect “some falsehood in order to protect the speech that matters.” And, even in the area of science, if we examine the case of the Copernican Revolution, it took almost 300 years to devise instruments to prove such concepts as “stellar parallax,” which Galileo had advanced centuries earlier. “Laboratory ‘proof’ of a theory has often followed rather than preceded its acceptance.” Since, it turns out, science is not as readily “objective” as many imagine it to be, government should allow it the same kind of First Amendment freedom as is given to religion and politics. “Orgone energy boxes cure cancer,” ought not to be any more liable to censorship than, “God will cure you if you pray” or, “Socialism will cure the ills of society.”