Volume 6, Number 30, Supplemental: 23 July 2003
On 12 July 2003, I was pleasantly surprised to be given The Petr Beckmann Award of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness at their 21st annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, which award comes with a citation saying it is given "for courage and achievement in defense of scientific truth and freedom."
In contemplating these words, I initially felt rather undeserving of the honor they imply, especially in light of having celebrated -- just eight days earlier -- the signing of my country's Declaration of Independence, which occurred on the Fourth of July 1776. This feeling was particularly poignant when I reflected upon the lives of the people of that earlier time, who sacrificed all they possessed to establish the freedom that has allowed me to do so much of what I love to do, without constraint and without worry of retribution. Nevertheless, I have subsequently come to terms with my receiving the Beckmann award in what I believe to be a reasoned process of thought.
This is my thinking on the subject. Although a select cadre of truly great men and women have done things in both establishing and defending scientific truth and freedom that make my feeble contributions pale almost into oblivion by comparison, it clearly takes more than the Herculean efforts of a few outstanding individuals to preserve these cherished ideals. Indeed, it takes the everyday disciplined actions of uncounted numbers of believers in, and practitioners of, the same ennobling principles.
Within this context of helping to sustain the legacy of the immeasurable good that others have brought to pass before me, I can comfortably acknowledge that many of my actions of the past several decades have indeed been in harmony with the spirit of this award. Although the impact of my efforts has been small in comparison with the impact of the works of the luminaries of ages past, considered in concert with the complementary efforts of untold numbers of other like-minded individuals, our combined actions of these latter days have surely had, and will continue to have, an equally important cumulative effect.
In view of these considerations, I feel my selection to receive The Petr Beckmann Award is an excellent way of acknowledging the contributions of the many similarly-motivated people who will never be able to be recognized individually for their similar contributions, but without whose consistent everyday actions in defense of scientific truth and freedom, the work of the truly great and pioneering individuals who established these principles would ultimately have been for naught.
Therefore, I say to you, my fellow defenders of truth and freedom, congratulations! As you play an essential ongoing role in the grand enterprise of protecting those institutions and conventions that safeguard the truth and protect the rights of all individuals under heaven, we all share equally in this award.