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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In defense of Duesberg – scientist who adheres to classic standards

Disparaging Duesberg won’t get DAIDS defenders very far this time, we predict

The comment of Ed Tramont to the inclusion of Peter Duesberg ‘s name and views in the Harpers article – “As soon as I saw it I knew it wouldn’t be taken seriously” or the equivalent – is widely shared by poorly informed blog commenters.

Since we know from experience that, on the contrary, anything Duesberg writes is always impeccably precise, factually accurate, and finely argued, we believe we should contradict this politically aimed, scientifically unjustifiable remark.

The kind of response to Duesberg’s critique he has gotten in the past and is getting now is worth noting because it is not only inappropriate to Duesberg but because it indicates the very weakness of the HIV case.

Rated by some as one of the finest intellects at work in science today, on the basis of his remarkably precise and comprehensive papers damning the selection of HIV as the cause of AIDS, and his recent work in cancer, Duesberg nonetheless has been successfully smeared by the political defenses mounted by those of his peers who are seriously invested in HIV, having based their entire career on it for twenty years.

Having dealt with Duesberg as a reporter for those two decades, having read all his papers, and having never found him anything but precisely accurate in his observations on HIV?AIDS or any other scientific topic, including especially cancer, and corrected only in very minor ways by peer reviewers in areas outside his core expertise, we have to agree with those who give him a top rating, and say his treatment has been shameful.

We’ve interviewed scores of other scientists at the top of their field over the years, and we can assure these Duesberg denialists, that is, those who deny Duesberg’s stature, that they are scorning an unusually powerful scientific intellect and analyst, clearly superior to his opponents in the HIV?AIDS matter.

This is easily evidenced by the quality of his papers eviscerating the rationale for HIV?AIDS from the Cancer Research and the Proceedings articles right up to the Journal of Biosciences paper in 2003. We are certain that no one of any intelligence can read these papers without appreciating that they are written by a major scientific mind. (A researcher of our acquaintance who has read Duesberg’s papers very closely says he is convinced that Dueberg is a “scientific genius.”)

But of course, the foot soldiers of HIV?AIDS will never read them. So let’s note that of all the graduate students at Harvard that Walter Gilbert made read these papers as examples of high grade paradigm challenge, not one decided to make a name for him or herself by writing a rebuttal.

This salient point is made by Harvey Bialy, in his book of 2004, “Aneuploidy, Oncogenes and AIDS: The Scientific Life and Times of Peter Duesberg”, a highly revealing account of the specious and egregious manoevering over the years by scientists, bureaucrats and editors in HIV?AIDS to evade the impact of Duesberg’s challenge as a professional threat by castrating him financially and in terms of platform.

Bialy, writing from the safe distance of a university appointment in Mexico, spares none of them in reporting such incidents as the notorious invitation to the opera, where a scientific player flew into San Francisco and invited Duesberg to the opera and drinks afterwards.

There he produced from his jacket pocket a document Duesberg was to sign repenting of his sins and renouncing his objections to HIV, whereupon he would be accepted back into the fold, and invitations extended once again, funding approved and publication of his papers accepted. Duesberg, though facing professional ruin, declined.

His recent progress in understanding cancer is also recognized as extremely important and promising by many senior scientists in that field, in spite of the fact that he demolished the intellectual foundation of their current fashion in cancer research in Cancer Research in 1987. (See his website Peter Duesberg on Cancer for the article in Scientific American which published a timeline of cancer research recognizing Duesberg’s contribution as seminal).

The essential theme of the Harpers piece by Celia Farber is the abandonment of scientific standards. Duesberg has never shown any sign of this weakness in anything he has written. He remains a classic scientist of the old school, subscribing without reserve to the very highest standards of logic and evidence.

It is a sad commentary on the general abandonment of those standards in the HIV?AIDS debate that he has to be defended against such politics.

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