Original Repository: Stanford University Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Paul Berg Papers
Reproduced with permission of Paul Berg.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Protein Synthesis, Tumor Viruses, and Recombinant DNA, 1959-1975
Letter from Francis Crick to Paul Berg (September 18, 1973)
Letter from Paul Berg to Francis Crick (October 18, 1973)
Letter from Francis Crick to Paul Berg (October 19, 1973)
Letter from Francis Crick to Paul Berg (October 25, 1973)
Letter from Francis Crick to Paul Berg (November 8, 1973)
Letter from Francis Crick to Paul Berg (November 28, 1973)
Letter from Paul Berg to Francis Crick (January 3, 1974)
November 5, 1973
Although not especially noted for it I can be aroused to heights of anger, particularly when I believe I've been dealt
with unfairly. So if my comments seem too blunt, bear in mind that they originate from the impetuosity of the moment and
are not likely to reflect a lasting feeling.
What has provoked me is the implicit and not too subtle threat in the last paragraph of your letter of October 19. After
all, Francis, I didn't owe you anything--information or pictures; supplying both was mine and Jack's choice--freely
given with the hope and expectation that you and Roger would find it helpful in your own work. I was especially pained to
discover that you (I trust that the thought never entered Roger's mind) believed (even if momentarily) that I was being
devious and trying to withhold information from our exchange.
On several occasions I've had to battle my students and fellows over the issue of whether I talk too freely about ideas
and experiments in progress. In my view science is not worth doing if secrecy, suspicion and back-biting are rules of the
game. Consequently I refuse to accede to the practice of too many others--silence until published; even though on several
occasions that degree of openers has come back to haunt and embarrass me.
In this particular instance you'll recall I tried to interest you and Roger (and others) in recognizing that viral DNA
molecules because of their structural and sequence homogeneity are excellent objects for studying the details of protein-DNA
interactions. So, I'm delighted that you've seen the light and if our experience can be helpful to you, that only
increases my enthusiasm. I can even admire your own willingness to do battle but I believe that threats are out of line.