The David Baltimore Affair

Up Resource


  1. Introduce the "Baltimore Affair", 1986 - 1996.

  2. Review the political, cultural, and sociological factors that contributed to the inception of the "affair" and to the course it took.

  3. Review the role of academic colleagues of David Baltimore, academic inquiry committees, members of Congress (especially Congressman Dingell), aides to members of Congress, the Secret Service , the NIH, Walter Stewart and Ned Feder, and the Press, in the development of the affair.

  4. Review the "aftershocks" of the affair and its effects on the life of the main protagonists, the political leaders involved, and the author Daniel J. Kevles.

  5. Use the lessons of the affair to assess the role of public agencies in "policing" science. Comment on the view that "science should be left to police itself".


  1. Background lecture in class and a reading assignment to the students (see RESOURCES).

  2. Selected reading and discussion of Kevles' articles and other reviews of the affair.

  3. A public mock trial in class, involving students who represent the main protagonists, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a judge.