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.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

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.
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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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About Science Guardian/New AIDS Review/Damned Heretics

December 25th, 2006

What is the purpose of this particular blog, Science Guardian? At core, its original purpose was, in essence, to use the complete peer reviewed scientific and medical literature to brief both newcomers and the more knowledgeable on the vexed issue of whether the conventional wisdom in “HIV/AIDS” is correct or not.

According to that literature, and the books and comment on the topic reviewed in posts here over the past two and a half years, it is not.. Period.

The situation in HIV/AIDS is that science has gone very, very wrong, and it forms a classic case study of what can happen in almost any field now that science has become beholden to the government and business funding needed for the large projects which modern science undertakes, especially in medicine, but in many other fields, including even physics.

This blog exists to explore this and similar instances of science gone wrong because of the politics internal to science, especially sticky paradigms – ruling beliefs that resist change. But there are a number of fields where the leading players evade the public referee or even the review of their peers with concealment or propaganda.

The simplest way to put the problem addressed here is that any big idea which becomes the reigning paradigm or conventional wisdom of a field will tend to become fiercely entrenched and resist all efforts to correct it if its flaws start showing through.

The phenomenon is familiar in every academy, unsurprisingly, since as people grow older they find it difficult to welcome the replacement of the ideas by which they have lived and prospered, particularly if they thought them up themselves, wrote them into many texts and even won a Nobel for them.

The result is that intellectual innovation and improvement becomes harder and harder as time passes. Novel approaches are kept out of the literature by the conscious or unconscious resistance of those who stand on top of the status quo, or otherwise benefit.

In the most extreme scenario, the ruling idea may be blatantly rotten and unsustainable in the face of criticism yet because the replacement may be of little profit to those who exploit the accepted wisdom, they will attack and defeat critics and innovators with overwhelming force, relegating them to the sidelines and even obscurity, unable to obtain the funding from the NIH or other government sources which is almost a sine qua non of modern lab projects.

This is clearly what has happened in HIV/AIDS, the most blatant example of the roblem in science. There an unanswerable critique of the current ruling theory written by the best scientist in the field of HIV/AIDS, and published in the highest journals, which roundly rejected with impeccable logic the notion that HIV caused AIDS, was never answered directly in the same journals, but only indirectly, ineffectively and almost entirely outside peer review in public statements and on the Web, while lethal politics was brought to bear to discredit the scientist, Peter Duesberg of Berkeley, and ensure that his many professional reviews of the issue then and later went unread, and that he himself was sidelined by ensuring that his funding at the NIH was always unsupported, and that he published thereafter on the topic only with the greatest difficulty..

The point about all this is that HIV/AIDS is a case study of the egregious behavior of scientists which applies to other fields and issues where established leaders and their ideas in science are rendered untouchable, beyond both scientific and public review, even though they may be quite obviously wrongheaded to competent outside critics without any personal stake in the belief system who examine their scientific beliefs carefully.

Let’s outline the situation in HIV/AIDS.

A contradictory view of HIV/AIDS

The paradigm that AIDS is caused by an infectious virus, and that that unique virus – HIV, now labeled self servingly and misleadingly as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, – is behind a grand infectious pandemic that is sweeping the world, felling millions by destroying their immune systems, has never been scientifically proven or even credible, according to the best peer reviewed literature of the field and in particular, the ongoing reviews both mainstream and from paradigm critics of the mismatch between the theory and its scientific studies and their results.

Though now an almost universal belief of governments, institutions and individuals around the world, HIV-is-the-virus-that-causes-AIDS began as a non starter of a paradigm, scientifically speaking, a stillborn child of ambition and authority, of political and economic advantage, which was rejected almost immediately by knowledgeable critics but nonetheless rescued, kept alive and inflated to global dominance by professional and media censorship, a massive influx of funding and unprecedented political pressures, all aided by the servility and conformity of the uncritical science and general interest media.

The claim, which was privately ridiculed by the elite of the scientific field which spawned it (retroviruses) when it was first made in 1984, and which soon (1987 and 1989) was thoroughly and expertly rejected in lengthy professional scientific reviews in the highest peer reviewed journals, has always lacked proof or even convincing demonstration of any kind in the scientific literature.

These profound drawbacks did not, however, keep it from instantly becoming a hallowed and unchallengeable assumption of tens of thousands of self-referencing papers. One reason is that the supposed solution to AIDS was announced at a news conference mounted by the federal government, which immediately guaranteed federal funding for any research based upon the claim and ensured that any claim rashly based on alternative and better justified science would be denied.

Precisely how this wingless paradigm failed to crash in the wake of the standard scientific review process which rejected it, and has instead been borne aloft for twenty two years on the hot air of claims, belief, faith, reinterpretation, rationalization, fantasy and delusion in the service of self-interest and group advantage, to the detriment and often death of those mismedicated in its wake, is the subject of this blog.

HIV∫AIDS a case study

As the most remarkable specimen extant of a proven baseless belief maintained as conventional wisdom in the face of scientific logic and evidence, not to mention plain common sense, HIV∫AIDS is the case study par excellence of how modern influences can distort science away from its origins in avocational truth seeking and toward its more modern role in licensing personal gain and power.

The situation is not unique in science. Vast sums are now at stake in maintaining more than one such unfounded scientific belief system beyond its proper shelf life, as billions pour into science and the pockets of scientists from government and private sources, particularly biotechnology investors and drug developing companies. But HIV∫AIDS is certainly the biggest of such boondoggles that we know of.

In the case of HIV∫AIDS, the belief is artificially protected by explicitly acknowledged bureaucratic censorship at NIAID, full media cooperation with this ban on covering the topic, and drug company support of the many non governmental AIDS patient support groups in this country and abroad, funding which ensures that activists are bound to the ruling wisdom.

No conspiracy theory implied

No conspiracy is stated or implied in covering this topic and explaining how the system has gone awry, and nor are individuals accused of conscious deceit, however misguided their activities in the science or medication of AIDS and however obvious their resistance to considering the alternative without bias.

HIV∫AIDS may be the grandest delusion yet in the history of medicine, but there is no evidence it was planned or coordinated as such except in small ways by Dr Anthony Fauci and his publicity cohorts at the NIH and elsewhere who have joined a few influential scientists and gay activists in protecting the paradigm with propaganda against debunkers. Most of its expansion has been achieved by the passive process of letting human nature take its course. That, at least, is our opinion, barring more evidence available under the Freedom of Information Act and possibly the discovery process in upcoming criminal trials.

The modest objective of this blog is to provide a public service in guiding enquirers to the material available on the topic, including the two dozen or more books on the topic, many written by scientific and medical authorities among the thousands of scientists, academics, scholars, specialists and professionals of all kinds that have added their names to a public list of critics urging a paradigm review.

Need for this blog

A long list of newspapers and magazines have covered this topic but nearly all, even the best, (particularly Science, Nature, the New York Times and the New Yorker) have failed to employ reporters capable of or willing to challenge the NIAID and question the scientists most responsible for the misportrayal of the science and compare their claims with the literature of the field. Rather they have become supine propaganda spokesmen for the paradigm promoters they cover in their stories. Some have distinguished themselves, however, including the Sunday Times of London (Neville Hodgkinson) and Harpers Magazine in New York (Celia Farber).

But apart from a slew of books on the theme of how things have gone very wrong in this field, the promoters of the paradigm still have a stranglehold on media coverage of HIV∫AIDS, and on political and media influence at NIAID, CDC, WHO, UNAID, NAS, NSF, Science, Nature, all foundations, virtually all governments (South Africa is the exception) etc. so there is a need for independent blog coverage which can guide readers to more reliable sources on the Web and off, especially the medical and scientific literature in the PubMed data base.

The posts in this blog develop this theme from their beginning and form a reasonably sequential guide to the various aspects of the issue. Read from the start to gain a quick understanding of the picture and its frame, that is, the paradigm dispute and the sociological context which distorts it.

Science and Ethics Guardian

Following the events and claims of HIV∫AIDS and its dissent over two and a half years, from January 2005 to mid-2007, with Comments open to and attracting contradictions and objections from all comers, the blog host sadly concluded that the case against HIV as the cause of AIDS, the ruling paradigm under assessment in New AIDS Review, was complete, and there were no further arguments or supposed evidence to entertain against the debunkers who have weighed in against it.

For that reason, the expansion of the topic to other paradigms under review, such as human caused global warming, cancer caused by oncogenes, etc., which we have dealt with from time to time, seemed appropriate to avoid repetition.

Moreover, it has become increasingly clear that the fundamental issue in discriminating between good science and bad science is whether the science is practiced according to genuine professional standards or not, ie without bias introduced by human nature (see the blog logo) and without the distortion introduced by censorship, bullying and other means of evading open review.

Since good science is truthseeking, and a social activity in which professional standards have to be maintained, it seems to us that the ethics of good and bad behavior are the fundamental rules that have to be observed, and that this blog is concerned as much with those ethics as with science per se (data, observation and theory).

So we have expanded the title of the blog to Science and Ethics Guardian to better reflect our area of concern.

Lest this give the wrong, arrogant impression we hasten to add that this implies absolutely nothing about the behavior of the blog host, who in no way sets himself up as the example to be followed, though admittedly we do try to live a decent life in accordance with the principles we imagine lead to the greatest social happiness and personal security of all.

However, we also hurry to admit that if the representatives of large corporate entities or other fine institutions wish to offer us contributions to enable us to go forward with the work of this blog in promulgating what we think are worthwhile social goals, and those contributions are large enough, we cannot promise that we will refuse, and if we accept we cannot guarantee that our minds and our posts will not be subtly twisted in the general direction of tolerance of the self-serving views and opinions which seem to go hand in hand with such gifts in the case of other commentators.

For who are we to claim we are less human than anybody else?

Update: Reversion of title to original

Brevity being the soul of wit, we have reverted to the original title of Science Guardian, partly because we prefer to let the ethical implications speak for themselves, and to confine posts purely to the actual events in science and its politics we are concerned with, which may or may not give readers umbrage, which we leave up to them, and their expression of it in comments.

Trained in the “objective” reporting tradition we find ourselves uncomfortable in the role of arbiter and judge, since after all no one appointed us the judge of others, and such considerations are essentially unscientific. Our quasi-scientific study is human nature and its effect on the practice and profession of science, as far as we can divine it, and it is not our business to comment on its quality in individual cases, however lacking it may be in some instances well known to readers of this blog.

Moreover, we have found that quite often judging is an excuse not to give to others.

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