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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How science works – some background

Now hold on, you might be saying after reading the introductory post below, why is this blog even necessary? Surely debate is free and open in every field of science, where all issues get thoroughly debated on the basis of evidence and reason? This is the way, after all, that good science must work.

Well, not in fact. As far as this fine, Platonic ideal of science is concerned, no Sir. Or as the Goomba Guide to Science might put it, Fah-geddabaht it!

In fact, it has been nearly fifty years since Thomas Kuhn, in his famous The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, built an entire book around this very point. His well known, but currently ignored, conclusion was that in practice, science is struggle. That is to say, change and progress in the theory of science, like the rest of the academy, come about through political revolution and overthrow. Scientific leaders and their favored ideas are not lightly displaced.

In real life, the sorry truth is that in virtually every scientific field, debate on any challenge to an existing major theory or paradigm (the broadly held idea on which recent progress is built) is most enthusiastically stifled, at least in the beginning, by those on top.

The powers that be in the field, who in almost every case are personally benefiting from the status quo (merely coincidence, of course!) are happy to reject every attempt to publish anything which threatens to undermine the world view upon which they and their work stand.

As in every field of human endeavor, those at the top of the hill are ready to kick back down the hill any challenger trying to replace them. So the difficulties of publishing objections to the prevailing wisdom, let alone replacing faulty but widespread beliefs, are very great. Only the strong survive the obstacle course, and many don’t.

On the other hand, many do, and some will win the Nobel for their contribution, which becomes the ruling wisdom in its turn. And when the time comes, they in their turn will kick newcomers back down the hill if they can.

Now, how does this apply to AIDS? As it happens, the science of AIDS is undoubtedly one of the most egregious examples of this unhappy trait, where scientists appear to put self-preservation ahead of truth, and join activists and others in repressing debate. And there are many, many signs that this has allowed bad science to thrive, and led to a massive diversion of funds and effort as people of goodwill and sense who are trying to save lives may have been led down the garden path. So many signs, in fact, that many believe this is the case, and AIDS is very bad science.

This blog will examine these signs as they crop up in the endless mainstream news flow about AIDS and the “AIDS pandemic.”

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