Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.


Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.

Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

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New mainstream coverage of rethinkers

November 29th, 2006

Piece in Charlotte SC paper lays out issue fairly

Remarkably clear account by Greg Hambrick

Is South Carolina a hotbed of enlightened comment on national issues which are distorted by power and money in the power centers of this country?

Suddenly the Charleston City Paper, an arts and entertainment weekly in Charlotte, has published this morning (Wed Mov 29) Rethinking AIDS: Doubters abandon traditional HIV/AIDS theories and treatment, a very matter of fact, well written and surprising reliable account of the vexed HIV?AIDS dispute in which reporter Greg Hambrick doesn’t seem to have heard of Dr Anthony Fauci of NIAID and his edict that no media coverage of this topic is allowed.

Telling both sides

Instead of kow towing to the mainstream wisdom as a matter of course and repeating all their quotes deploring HIV debunkers as scientific Luddites, Greg swiftly balances any rude remarks from spokesmen of the official line with a counter quote from an HIV critic such as Peter Duesberg or Henry Bauer.

The scientific evidence is overwhelming and compelling that HIV is the cause of AIDS, says Jennifer Ruth, spokeswoman with the National Center for HIV, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention.”Infection with HIV has been the sole common factor shared by AIDS cases throughout the world among men who have sex with men, transfusion recipients, persons with hemophilia, sex partners of infected persons, children born to infected women, and occupationally exposed health care workers,” Ruth says.

Henry Bauer, a retired chemistry and science professor and an ardent rethinker, says history has shown reversals in science when the orthodoxy was challenged by mounting questions.

“When the questions get to a critical mass, it’s a revolution,” he says. “But it’s often a bloody revolution.”

For someone presumably new to the topic Greg has done a nifty job of summarising the to and fro so that any newcomer can catch up with what is going on, and we expect this piece will have some influence in helping to keep the sputtering debate going.

Noreen Martin’s breakaway

The heroine of the piece is none other than Noreen Martin, who has been active in comments here recently as well as on Hanks You Bet Your Life.

Everything known about AIDS suggests that Noreen Martin is near death. The 53-year-old Lowcountry woman was diagnosed with AIDS three years ago. Her viral load, the rate of HIV in her blood, is at more than 100,000 — 200 to 500 is good and an undetectable number is even better. Her CD4 rate that gauges the number of “helper” cells in her system is at 136 — healthy people run between 600 and 1,200. Martin’s doctors have begged her to take antivirals, but she’s refused the drugs since March and the numbers keep heading in the wrong direction.The puzzler is that Martin looks great. She feels great. She says it’s no surprise. She claims it’s because everything known about AIDS is wrong. She says HIV is a harmless retrovirus that can’t be sexually transmitted, that AIDS medicine can cause the very disease it is expected to fight, and that the government knows this and is ignoring the facts.

The only big blot on the page is the inevitable paragraph on Christine Maggiore reporting that her daughter Eliza died from an “AIDS related” illness, which of course as anyone who is familiar with the case knows is not true, whatever the incompetent and politically influenced coroner might have announced (she died of allergy to a common antibiotic).

This is a great pity since it goes without saying that this misreporting of Christine’s tragedy gives the naive reader a strong impression that rethinkers are flouting conventional wisdom at a heavy cost, in this case the death of a young daughter.

Then there is the tribute Martin pays to antiretrovirals saying they probably saved her life. This is another statement that will stick in the mind of the reader as proof that the established paradigm is correct after all.

The matter is more complicated than that, as readers of this blog will appreciate, since long term use of the drugs is universally acknowledged dangerous to the health especially of the liver, sometimes causing fatalities (half or more of US AIDS patients who die actually die of drug related symptoms such as liver failure not on the list of AIDS symptoms).

Short term use yields effects which patients are convinced are beneficial but which may simply reflect the effect of poison on infections, although the power of protease inhibitors to restore trace element balance in support of the immune system is a known benefit (this may be because the medication as a broad spectrum antibiotic kills infections interfering with digestion). There are also known antioxidant effects.

“It didn’t cure me, but it certainly helped,” Martin says. “On the chelation days I could at least get off the couch.”But her overall health continued to decline and when she finally got to the infectious diseases doctors, they rushed to get her on an antiviral medicine that Martin concedes likely saved her life.

“I had about three different viruses going on at the same time, so these things were a godsend,” she says, though noting that the success of the medicine was in tandem with healthy living and natural supplements.

But her doctors weren’t supportive of Martin’s alternative supplements, which sent her looking elsewhere for answers and eventually to the rethinkers movement.

“The more I read, the more things just weren’t adding up,” she says.

The even handed competence with which Greg Hambreck has covered the issue is generally impressive, though, especially since his last story on AIDS in September, Kicking AIDS Local photographer captures fight for Africa’s future was the usual stenographic piece acting as a mouthpiece for establishment thinking about AIDS in Africa.

Moore and Padian’s false claims

What good will this piece do? Given the extensive coverage of John P. Moore of Cornell, perhaps not as much as it might. This professional spanner-inserter is allowed to do a muted version of his usual smear job and the piece goes on to repeat the false claims on the AIDSTruth.org site, in particular the laughable attempt of Nancy Padian to disavow the conclusion of her own study which found no transmission whatsoever in six years between fifty seven heterosexual discordant couples that didn’t use condoms.

Earlier this year, after what they saw as a one-sided story on rethinkers in Harpers magazine by a writer immersed in the rethinkers movement, Moore and other HIV scientists and doctors began the website www.aidstruth.org to refute the claims in the article. They have since updated the website to combat other claims by the rethinkers, whom they refer to as “denialists.””These people are basically being persuaded to kill themselves,” Moore says.

On the other hand readers are not going to miss the figure that Noreen draws attention to, the 1 in 1000 acts rate of transmission that the study found (after finding no transmissions during the study, transmission before the study was guessed at probably to provide some figure higher than zero, which would have been far too embarassing to the paradigm and lost Padian her high status among the officers of the palace guard of that unfounded theory).

And Hambrick does quote Noreen’s prize remark that scores a bullseye on the prima facie ridiculous core at the heart of the HIV∫AIDS panic, the claim that a fatal epidemic is being transmitted by the HIV antibodies that the test detects, which as we know are normally accompanied by a virtual absence of virus, if any at all:

“Everybody’s immunity is different,” she says. “I can’t give somebody my immunity any more than I could give them my toothache.”

But the Padian rebuttal is then given play and the reader is likely to conclude that Padian is the one with the authority:

It’s Padian herself who refuted these arguments earlier this year on www.aidstruth.org. She notes that her study regarded couples that were counseled to use protection, not avoid it.”Individuals who cite the 1997 publication … in an attempt to substantiate the myth that HIV is not transmitted sexually are ill-informed, at best,” she stated. “Their misuse of these results is misleading, irresponsible, and potentially injurious to the public.”

Padian notes that HIV transmission between couples can be as high as 20 percent, depending on risk factors including other sexually transmitted diseases. Cornell professor Moore says that Padian is not alone and that certain lines from scores of studies have been selectively cited to further the rethinkers movement.

“Then these things become urban legends,” Moore says.

Report likely to please both sides

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Saving the chimps from scientists

November 9th, 2006

Joy of liberated chimps shows up witless abuse of power by researchers

Suggests lethal motivations in HIV∫AIDS drug research are similar

Strong men may weep and rage at the Nature segment on Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History running on PBS stations this week in New York.

According to this poetic video lament by filmmaker Allison Argo, scientific researchers who work with chimps behave with less sensitivity than chimps themselves. They have neither the imagination nor the principles to treat their charges as they deserve, ie as 99.5 per cent genetically human, and deserving of equal rights if not in all respects, then in 99.5 per cent respects.

Up at Fauna Foundation [outside Montreal], a female chimpanzee named Pepper was grooming my arm and she clearly wanted me to take my watch off because it was in the way. So I took my watch off and she had it so fast! It was in the cage, and I thought, “Oh well, that’s the end of the watch. I really liked that watch, too.” She grasped it in her foot, since they can use their feet like hands. So she held it in her foot and groomed me for about 10 minutes. And then when she was finished, she very gently took it out of her foot and handed it out to me. And I was just amazed. It was so considerate, sensitive. She understood that it was something that was mine, something that I liked.

Just how ruinously our brothers and sisters under the hairy skin are treated in America is made only too miserably clear. In labs they are or have been the subject of damaging experimentation without consent, often permanently harmful and sometimes useless. They were shot up into space, injected with disease, surgically messed with and strapped into seats to test seat belts at high speeds.

Small cages were their living quarters in between these heroic services to mankind, solitary confinement for creatures with strong social needs, probably stronger than the scientists who neglected them.

In circuses or show business, all their teeth would be removed.

After their scientific or show business careers are over, they are transferred to retirement homes funded by the Federal government which are no better than solitary in Alcatraz. Typical quarters are or were steel cages indoors without even visual access to their fellow chimps living next door behind the concrete dividers (Click on pics to enlarge hugely).

Kissing a chimp with HIV

In this moving documentary, some women are introduced who, unlike the typical chimp researcher, have that part of the brain functioning that can empathize with chimps as deserving of humane treatment as much as any other intelligent, thoughtful, inventive, passionate, family oriented and loving creature – a group which apparently does not include many of the researchers, though one girl looking after them in a lab does feel a sharp pang when she can’t give them the attention they obviously implore.

The women are trying to move their retirees to the outdoors by building an island or otherwise releasing them into grass and trees. One hitch is that one collection of chimps is among the 200 or so that were “injected with HIV” in the early days of AIDS. The research was carried out because chimps are genetically so close to humans that they are thought to be ideal subjects for such experimentation.

The effort was abandoned, the documentary explains, because the chimps didn’t get AIDS. There is no answer to the obvious question, why then didn’t the researchers conclude that HIV didn’t cause AIDS in humans?

So now one sympathetic woman has a bunch of chimps “with HIV” in hand, and heavy resistance on the part of the townspeople where she runs her chimp home to the idea of building an island for them in case they somehow escape and give everyone the AIDS which they do not have themselves.

There is one exception, a gentleman who at first is scared stiff of catching AIDS from the chimps but gets to know one and is totally transformed in attitude, kissing the chimp fearlessly and saying his feelings about people are as changed as his feelings about chimps:

“Now there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Tommy…I used to be a redneck type. I’ve changed immensely. It’s unbelievable how I have changed in my attitude towards people as well as chimps. They are so forgiving. They have hearts bigger than us. There’s no way I could forgive like they forgive. And we’re supposed to be human and smarter. But I don’t know if we are smarter.”

In their bones, do they know it’s false?

In their behavior, he and the woman who rescued the chimps “with HIV” are certainly smarter than the scientists who research HIV∫AIDS, which is odd. The woman who was the retired chimps’ savior in this case, when warned that the chimps “had HIV”, did not panic and abandon the project. Her immediate reaction was “I have to save these chimps.”

A: I didn’t have a choice. The day that I went to the lab and met the chimps, I decided I would be taking whomever I met. I was introduced to two groups of chimps –15 in total, 7 of which were infected with HIV. There was no way I was going to discriminate. I met the chimps and I decided that, even if they were HIV positive, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t even a question in my mind. We would overcome the obstacles.Q: Safety Precautions with HIV + Chimps?

A: We did everything we needed to do in terms of learning about HIV. We had healthcare workers come in to educate our staff about working with the chimps. And we knew that the two primary methods for contracting the disease were intercourse and exchange of needles. But we are at the same risk as doctors, police officers, and healthcare workers– we’re not really at a greater risk. Plus, we knew who had the virus. The chimps had been labeled and they were behind bars.

Why their instincts are so much more accurate than thousands of HIV researchers is not explained. As far as the ordinary viewer is concerned, they simply demonstrate that HIV is not infectious enough to worry about in daily contact, as we have long been told by the NIAID. But the man’s original worries about “mosquito bites” remain valid, as far as we are told here. Perhaps we are meant to assume that it shows that love overcomes fear, and magically preserves the lover from harm.

To us, however, it suggests an inherent wisdom in the fact that people tend to stop worrying about the threat of HIV over time. The CDC and Oprah of course recognize this phenomenon in their constant search for new ways to alarm the populace. But is it too hopeful to imagine that this public torpor is more than natural apathy, and that it reflects an instinct for detecting BS on the subconscious level that operates regardless of what the conscious mind accepts?

After decades, grass, trees and pond

Eventually the townspeople come around and the island is built. Then the chimps are released, to enter a brave new world of grass and trees some may not have experienced for decades if barely at all at the beginning of their lives.

There is no more moving segment in all of Nature documentaries. One chimp is so unused to grass that even when he emerges to the outdoors, he won’t leave the concrete and goes back indoors to the familiar limits of his cage after a while. But the others slowly expand into knucklewalking and then romping into the meadows, where they sit and gaze at the world they were meant to live in, but hardly did.

One won’t come in at dusk and elects to stay out all night enjoying the space and the plant life and gazing at the water in the lake and the moon.

Another, Tommy, evidently dimly remembering his very early life before capture in the wild, immediately climbs a tree to a considerable height and stays there, happily transported into the opposite extreme from the concrete and steel box where he has been imprisoned and experimentally tormented for most of his life, without even the consolation of affection and company.

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Magic takes his meds, updates Oprah

November 8th, 2006

Scientific literature corrected on national television talk show

Oprah’s trust in NIH intact, even after being conned by James Frey, so she allows blacks to be blamed for epidemic

Errors and misleading results in the medical and scientific literature were corrected on Oprah’s HIV in America talk show two weeks ago, since it turns out HIV can be transmitted via heterosexual sex, after all.

By the end of the hour the following truths were established, contrary to anything that mainstream research papers might indicate:

HIV can be transmitted via heterosexual sex, a single time without a condom can do it. A mini-pandemic threatens the American black community. This is the fault of the black community, which under the influence of rappers has descended into sexual irresponsibility. Men who are secretly gay are especially to blame for infecting women. HIV lives in your system for a long time, and must be medicated before it turns into AIDS. Everyone must be tested as soon as possible, to catch it while you are still strong. Medications enable you to stay healthy except for unpleasantly unhealthy side effects, which are bearable, especially if you exercise like a champ, dine on fruit and veg and avoid fatty foods. If you “have HIV”, you must always use condoms, in case you catch HIV again in some other strain.

Skeptics were left floundering, unrepresented and unrecognized, even those who wondered, for example, why if star athlete Magic Johnson contracted HIV through “livin’ that life style” fifteen years ago ie through rampant heterosexual sex, there was such a shortage of celebrities who have followed in his footsteps. Two and two made ten, and such cynical disruptions were not allowed to disturb the public consensus achieved.

The responsible and respected members of the scientific and medical community who have advocated for years some of the same conclusions and recommendations as purveyed in the show, despite a severe lack of evidence and even many contradictions in the 15 million papers available on Pub Med, and ridicule from their scientific betters, must have been gratified to have received such unequivocal support from Oprah and her assembled experts, who included star athlete Magic, Judy Gerberding who leads the CDC, a comely female doctor from a health center in Chicago, a black preacher and six extremely attractive laywomen who were HIV positive.

Any such scientists who watched must have been delighted that trust in our medical and scientific institutions among the general populace is still so high, with their claims so smoothly translated into lay homilies and sermonizing aimed at the black community.

Not only two of the most celebrated and influential African Americans, that is to say, Oprah, queen of America’s most watched daytime talk show, and Magic Johnson, the big hearted giant who now runs a thriving business empire and does charity work to boot, but also six exceptionally personable and good looking women, an enthusiastic studio audience, and (judging from the message boards) virtually all (though not all) of Oprah’s ten million viewers, all have been smoothly absorbed by Dr Fauci of NIAID and his science and medicine propaganda machine. This engine of enlightenment on HIV∫AIDS matters is clearly well on its way to recruiting the entire black community without a pause, with Oprah and Magic cheering it on.

Skeptics might have said that more nonscience was peddled in the fearful name of the Virus on Thursday Oct 26 than in many of the biblical and cult texts of the world. But they had no voice in the show. With the black preacher present it was as if church and state joined forces on stage to inculcate a new religion into the blacks of America, namely, that a devil is loose in their midst, and its name in HIV. Heretics would have been outcasts, by definition.

Skeptics might have asked, What’s going on, Oprah? Weren’t you sufficiently burned by James Frey to develop a teeny bit of critical discrimination when faced with a fantasy as blatantly improbable as a Virus which discriminates on the basis of sex and race, as if blacks behaved in bed in some fundamental way differently from whites? Have you left your origins so far behind that you detect no element of racism in the tale being spun?

But skeptics were not invited. Not even Lee Evans, dashing the hopes of some paradigm critics. This was a key absence. That is to say, there was no sign of black Olympic sprinter emeritus Lee Evans, despite the reported efforts of distinguished author and biology professor Harvey Bialy, a most active skeptic whose scathing judgments on HIV∫AIDS Evans is familiar with and supports (in October 26, 2006 Lee Evans on Turning a “Positive Test” into Something Positive”, and most lately in a finely wrought Lee Evans: Back from the Sunbelt Conference Cross Country Championships and Time to Call Out Oprah post on Barnesworld, which Bialy currently edits and often writes, which accounts for the satisfyingly insulting but humorous phrases often included), to link Evans up with Oprah on the topic. Despite Evans’ renown in African American circles, where he is second only to Muhammed Ali in his longtime stature, this valiant bid to find a way to replace fantasy with fact in Oprah’s mind, or at least to politely introduce some doubt, had apparently not yet prevailed.

Well, perhaps not surprisingly. The general impression conveyed was that for whatever reason, asking Oprah to examine institutional wisdom in medicine, let alone science, is a fool’s errand, for not a whiff of skepticism marred her public service hour in the service of this dread federal dragon, into whose flaming maw she has now agreed to feed her people.

Oprah’s influence

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Libyan intervention by scientists

November 6th, 2006

Scientists recognize nonsense as non-science

But will rethinkers quote the Bible now at these good folk?

As the Times notes today, the hapless Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor, whose lives are still in the balance after years of the HIV∫AIDS paradigm being used as a political weapon against them, now have many more scientists coming to their defense.

The rehearing of the case ended without Montagnier and the Italian who testified earlier being called back. So the decision, which is scheduled for Dec 19, looked even less likely to be based on scientific sense that the previous one in 2004, which condemned the group to death as scapegoats for what the Libyan authorities apparently imagine is the Virus loose among hundreds of babes in one of their hospitals.

But Nature published an open letter from 114 Nobel Laureates to Qaddafi last week, asking for proper science to be applied. Perhaps this means testing the children again. Presumably the original testing was flawed, since the finding that so many babies at one hospital were HIV positive seems improbable on the face of it.

This week, on the Web site of the journal Nature, 114 Nobel laureates signed an open letter to Colonel Qaddafi. By not allowing —œindependent scientific evidence—? to be presented at the trial, the letter said, —œa miscarriage of justice will take place without proper consideration of scientific evidence.—?

Dr. Richard J. Roberts, who shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, said he delivered the letter on Tuesday to Ambassador Attia Mubarak, the leader of the Libyan mission to the United Nations.

Last month, the leaders of Britain—™s most eminent scientific institutions, including the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society, began a similar letter campaign.

In The Times of London, the scientists wrote: —œWe ask the medical and scientific authorities of the United Nations, Arab countries, United States and European Union (Bulgaria will join the E.U. in three months) to exert their utmost influence on President Qaddafi to prevent what might amount to judicial murder.—?

It is gratifying to see that scientists in this field are capable of recognizing nonsense, at least when it is peddled by petty Libyan bureaucrats trying to get themselves off the hook of being accused of unsafe conditions at a Benghazi Hospital by sacrificing the lives of nurses and a doctor who came to help Libyans improve their health, though why hygiene should be such a sensitive point is unclear. Are conditions in the Libyan health system normally so squeaky clean that this if true would stand out?

Whatever the truth in this case – shouldn’t Elizabeth Rosenthal the Times correspondent in Rome give up her Italian espressos for a few days and take a trip across the Mediterranean to Libya to find out for us? – it is a wonderful tribute to the human mind and its capacity for self-foolery that these gentlemen can castigate the Libyan HIV∫AIDS theory of nurses purposely injecting 426 babies with HIV as nonsense and yet fail to see their own idea of the HIV∫AIDS paradigm as equally absurd.

Let’s hope that no one starts quoting Luke 6.42 at them, since they have enough religious impulse in them already and we wouldn’t want to encourage any more of it.

How canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

As readers of this blog are well aware, we exist to fend off the religious impulse and prevent the insidious creep of this tendency to subscribe to paradigms on the basis of faith rather than fact from this field and any others it might warp.

Science is not a church, and we hope that the Libyan case may even join the one in Australia in opening up the HIV∫AIDS faith to proper examination and reporting in the media and among scientists, as opposed to the NIAID state of censorship so long imposed by the well dressed Dr Anthony Fauci, director of that institution.

Scientists Urge New Trial in Libya AIDS Case by Elizabeth Rosenthal

November 5, 2006
Scientists Urge New Trial in Libya AIDS Case

ROME, Nov. 4 —” With five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor on trial in Tripoli on charges that they spread H.I.V. to 426 Libyan children, hundreds of prominent scientists are rallying in their defense, calling for a new and fairer trial.

The nurses and doctor were foreign experts working at Al Fateh Children—™s Hospital in Benghazi, Libya, in 1998, when an outbreak of H.I.V. was detected at the hospital.

For years, Libyan authorities, including the country—™s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, blamed the foreigners for the outbreak, suggesting that they had intentionally injected Libya—™s children with the virus. But a 2003 independent scientific report on the outbreak, by two of Europe—™s most prominent AIDS experts who spent many weeks in Libya reviewing the evidence, concluded that poor sanitary practices at the hospital were to blame.

Despite that report, which was commissioned by the Libyan government, the six have been in prison in Libya since their arrest in 1999, and they were sentenced to death in 2004.

A new trial was ordered after international protests.

In August, when the second trial started, prosecutors again requested the death penalty.

The expert report was not presented at the new trial, which is now close to conclusion. On Saturday, the judge said that the six would be sentenced on Dec. 19, Reuters reported.

The two experts, Dr. Luc Montagnier, co-discoverer of the virus that causes AIDS, and Dr. Vittorio Colizzi of Italy, said they had not been called to testify.

—œWe—™re concerned that the nurses and the doctor are being used as scapegoats for the problem of H.I.V. in Libya,—? said Dr. Ian Gilmore, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, who signed one of the letters. —œWe realized we had to mobilize —” the case had slipped off the radar.—?

—œYou have to worry it—™s partly because they—™re from a less prominent country,—? he said. —œIf they had been British or American, the world would have woken up sooner.—?

This week, on the Web site of the journal Nature, 114 Nobel laureates signed an open letter to Colonel Qaddafi. By not allowing —œindependent scientific evidence—? to be presented at the trial, the letter said, —œa miscarriage of justice will take place without proper consideration of scientific evidence.—?

Dr. Richard J. Roberts, who shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, said he delivered the letter on Tuesday to Ambassador Attia Mubarak, the leader of the Libyan mission to the United Nations.

Last month, the leaders of Britain—™s most eminent scientific institutions, including the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society, began a similar letter campaign.

In The Times of London, the scientists wrote: —œWe ask the medical and scientific authorities of the United Nations, Arab countries, United States and European Union (Bulgaria will join the E.U. in three months) to exert their utmost influence on President Qaddafi to prevent what might amount to judicial murder.—?

American and European politicians have frequently raised concerns about the medics—™ fate, but at the same time have gone on to develop closer relations with Libya.

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