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)

Expanded GUIDE TO SITE PURPOSE AND LAYOUT is in the lower blue section at the bottom of every home page.

Dr Johnson Speaks

Samuel Johnson urges hacks to read PubMed

Is blog worthwhile? we wonder, but he encourages all dissidents

samjohnson.jpegFinding the confusion and ignorance of the mob detestable this afternoon, we decided to contact Samuel Johnson, reposing in his honored place in heaven and looking down with magnanimity on the vain strivings of the human race to rise above their muddled and unreasonable nature, which he analyzed so well in the Rambler and the Idler.

We wondered what the great English critic would make of their widespread refusal to accept enlightenment from this and other blogs who try seemingly in vain to break the lock the medical and scientific authorities have on public truth and wisdom, all the while denying their own scripture, and disowning the very studies they themselves carry out and write up in the scientific literature, which so roundly contradict their every claim in HIV∫AIDS.

We had no trouble getting through on our VoIP now that heaven is merely one destination on the Internet, and we found the great Cham in a good mood, with plenty of time to give his meta view of the fantastic pandemic now sweeping across the world as the AIDS meme infects ever more earthly minds.

samjohnsonbig.jpegTruthseeker: Good afternoon, Dr Johnson. As we have always greatly admired your lifelong practice of analyzing human affairs with sound reason and robust common sense, we would like to ask you what you think of what is happening today in the realm of HIV∫AIDS, and whether you think there is any use at all in our writing this blog?

Dr. Johnson: Ah, you are clearly becoming discouraged at the lack of progress you estimate your excellent blog has made so far in altering the tide of human affairs. I have often had occasion to consider the contrary effects of presumption and despondency; of heady confidence, which promises victory without contest, and heartless pusillanimity, which shrinks back from the thought of great undertakings, confounds difficulty with impossibility, and considers all advancement towards any new attainment, as irreversibly prohibited.

Truthseeker: We are torn between the two, indeed.

Dr Johnson: Presumption will be easily corrected. Every experiment will teach caution, and miscarriages will hourly shew, that attempts are not always rewarded with success. The most precipitate ardour will, in time, be taught the necessity of methodical gradation and preparatory measures; and the most daring confidence be convinced that neither merit, nor abilities, can command events.

Truthseeker: Well, we are trying to be optimistic, but the failure last year of 12 pages of crystal clear text published by the angelic Celia Farber in Harpers in March to provoke coverage from the rest of the mainstream press for a whole year, until the scientifically uninformed and intellectually feeble counter to it in the New Yorker a few weeks ago, has discouraged our faith in the capacity of journalists of any stripe to read the scientific literature for themselves, despite being given instant access to it in PubMed for a decade.

Dr. Johnson: Don’t yield, Sir. It is the disadvantage of vehemence and activity, that they are always hastening to their own reformation; because they incite us to try whether our expectations are well grounded, and therefore detect the deceits which they are apt to occasion. But timidity is a disease of the mind more obstinate and fatal; for a man once persuaded that any impediment is insuperable, has given it, with respect to himself, that strength and weight which it had not before.

But the thing that we see is that arts graduates seem to feel that anything to do with science is beyond their understanding, and they are forced to accept whatever scientists tell them however fishy it may seem in the light of common sense, because even a sentence or two of math and science instantly freezes their neurons with a kind of elemental terror.

Dr. Johnson: Of all the bugbears by which the Infantes barbati. boys both young and old, have been hitherto frighted from digressing into new tracts of learning, none has been more mischievously efficacious than an opinion that every kind of knowledge requires a peculiar genius, or mental constitution, framed for the reception of some ideas, and the exclusion of others; and that to him whose genius is not adapted to the study which he prosecutes, all labour shall be vain and fruitless, vain as an endeavour to mingle oil and water.

So you feel that not only Grub Street scribblers should be brave enough to tackle difficult subjects, but that anyone can?

teakettle.jpegDr. Johnson: False hopes and false terrours are equally to be avoided. Every man who proposes to grow eminent by learning, should carry in his mind, at once, the difficulty of excellence, and the force of industry; and remember that fame is not conferred but as the recompense of labour, and that labour vigorously continued, has not often failed of its reward.

Truthseeker: This is a message which will lift the hearts of many truthseekers in this realm, Doctor, and we thank you for it. But since we hear that your eternal kettle is boiling, we will excuse ourselves to let you make some celestial tea and revisit you shortly with further inquiry.

Dr, Johnson: Sir, it is my pleasure to have made your acquaintance, and I look forward to renewing it shortly.

3 Responses to “Dr Johnson Speaks”

  1. MacDonald Says:

    The mystery of Truthseeker’s privileged access is hereby solved.

  2. Truthseeker Says:

    Force of industry, MacDonald? Labor vigorously continued?

  3. MacDonald Says:

    Just being pleasantly urbane. From a postmodern point of view the recompense of labour is seldom intelligibly distributed.

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