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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Mario Stevenson places foot in crocodile’s mouth with foolish Amazon review

Researcher signs name unaware it will remind all of a crucial public admission

Bialy email tornado whirls in response

Bonus epic: How the Zapata of AIDS insurgency escaped from Cuba to found biotech virtual library

The long weekend seems to have weakened the instinct for self-preservation of a well known establishment HIV?AIDS researcher, who has tried to join in ganging up on Harvey Bialy’s book on Amazon, presumably to save his buddy John Moore from further embarrassment for a similar faux pas last week.

Unfortunately, venturing to put any kind of cheaply dismissive review on Amazon in regard to Bialy’s book, which is obviously an armored plated, if tough to read classic to anyone who actually peruses it, is a losing proposition, rather similar to demonstrating one’s bravery by putting one’s head in the mouth of a crocodile resident in the Zambesi.

Now Mario Stevenson has done this for the entertainment of knowledgeable armchair spectators with a brief, silly, schoolboy level three lines that causes us to marvel all over again at the power of the Web to seduce people into making permanent fools of themselves with rash postings that Google will never forget.

Dont bother
I don’t understand why anyone would lionize a scientist (Duesberg) who opposes the fact that AIDS is caused by a virus. Duesberg’s theories on AIDS are total hogwash and dangerous hogwash at that. A book on Duesberg is a waste of paper.

Needless to say, this sally was received with delight in Cuernavaca where the ever vigilant author Harvey Bialy stirred his email witches brew and sent out a notice gleefully reminding insiders of the fact that in his very book on page 195 Mario Stevenson, if he had troubled to read it, would have found a salutary reminder of his own earlier admission of how the paradigm came up emptyhanded when asked to explain the core of its claim – exactly what Peter Duesberg had just pointed out a month earlier.

Referring to Peter Duesberg’s final definitive roadside bomb placed in the path of the overcrowded HIV?AIDS bandwagon, “The chemical bases of the various AIDS epidemics: recreational drugs, antiviral chemotherapy and malnutrition” in the Journal of Biosciences, June 2003, Bialy on his page 195 refers to the July 2003 issue of Nature Medicine which appeared a month later and was devoted to “20 years of HIV science”.

He writes:

“In these pages Mario Stevenson from the University of Masachusetts Medical School, in an eerie, persistent echo of the retired Science editor John Maddox’s words almost ten years prevous, writes : “…the reason why HIV-1 infection is pathogenic is still debated and the goal of eradicating HIV-1 infection remains elusive.” Exactly how elusive is quite wonderfully described in an article from the New York Times of September 23, 2003, entitled “Trying to Kill the AIDS Virus by Luring It Out of Hiding”.

In other words, Mario Stevenson, although perhaps not very well known in the outside world, is one of the series of elite members of the HIV?AIDS palace guard who have made frank public admissions at regular intervals over the years that none of them really have any idea what HIV does to cause AIDS.

His statement came a month after Peter Duesberg not only pointed this out as well, but provided innumerable reasons why three other factors not only accounted for AIDS but unlike HIV yielded predictions all of which were continually borne out.

In a sane world, the two would have lifting glasses to each other’s health in the same club. Unfortunately, Duesberg had been blackballed from membership in the HIV?AIDS club without even applying to join it. Now we have the same Mario Stevenson reacting to Harvey Bialy’s book, which came out soon afterwards, after two years, as if it was a bottle of rat poison.

All of this plays into Bialy’s hands, as far as he is concerned, and he is observing it with unusual calm from Mexico. His email comment to his circle: “It’s really quite great, this fire and brimstone, TWO full years after publication. I wonder why……:-)”

Amazon dogfight provides easy guide for newcomers on value of Bialy volume

As things stand at present, with two unspecific damnations of Harvey’s book and two detailed appreciations recently, we now have four names leading off the line up of reviews of “Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg”: Mario Stevenson, “Dr. Chipper” (actually a university professor, Charles Geshekter, who publicly supports Peter Duesberg and who did not intend for Amazon to print his Web moniker but his own name, and is trying to correct that), John Moore, and the mathematician Darin Brown.

Here are the reviews, which just by themselves indicate which side is in possession of the right idea and which is trying to bend it out of shape for ulterior reasons.

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

Don’t bother, July 2, 2006

Reviewer: Mario Stevenson (Shrewsbury, MA USA) – See all my reviews

(REAL NAME)

I don’t understand why anyone would lionize a scientist (Duesberg) who opposes the fact that AIDS is caused by a virus. Duesberg’s theories on AIDS are total hogwash and dangerous hogwash at that. A book on Duesberg is a waste of paper.

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

Bialy’s book is must reading!, June 29, 2006

Reviewer: Doctor “Chipper” (California) – See all my reviews

Reading the blustery, hot air fulminations by John Moore it is hard to imagine that his review was actually written by a scientist.

As an AIDS dogmatist, Moore displays ignorance, prejudice and amnesia in denying the flaws, inconsistencies, errors, and failed predictions that have marred (or characterized) the Church of AIDS Pseudoscience since its inception 25 years ago.

Bialy has written a superb book that exposes the rigidity and sclerosis that make the infectious viral hypothesis about AIDS such a perfidious and empty explanation for what makes some people ill.

Moore reacts with abusive venom and sputtering rage because he knows that Bialy’s book shows what a tragic farce and waste of time his devotion to the HIV hypothesis has been.

Writing in the New York Times in early June, Moore (a biologist in New York) and Nicoli Nattrass (an economist in South Africa), neither of whom ever had access to the medical records of a young girl who died suddenly in Los Angeles, displayed unprofessional dishonesty and unbridled pomposity by making public pronouncements on the cause of the child’s death.

By so doing, Moore demonstrated anew how much he remains in the grip of the absolute deadliest of quackery.

Read Bialy’s book, and see for yourself.

5 of 21 people found the following review helpful:

A travesty of science, June 25, 2006

Reviewer: John P Moore, PhD (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

It is hard to imagine that this book was actually written by a professional scientist. The author displays only his ignorance and his prejudices when championing the extraordinary argument that HIV does not cause AIDS. This theory, of course, is utter nonsense, but it is a nonsense that was created by Peter Duesberg, the maverick scientist who is the focus of the book. Hence the author is writing a hagiography of one of his heroes, not a fair and accurate representation of the scientific facts and moral truths about HIV/AIDS. The book should therefore be read (or preferably not read) in that political context: it appeals to the small clique of AIDS denialists who think like the author does, and it should be ignored by anyone who respects science and the truth. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and when it comes to HIV and AIDS, the author and his hero are prime examples of the aphorism in practice. For factual information on HIV/AIDS, interested people should consult http://www.aidstruth.org or the NIAID’s web-site, amongst other bona fide resources.

John P. Moore, PhD

Professor of Microbiology and Immunology,

Weill Medical College of Cornell University,

New York

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful:

A window on a world, April 23, 2006

Reviewer: Darin Brown “revolver13” (Goleta, CA United States) – See all my reviews (REAL NAME)

In his new book published by the Institute of Biotechnology of the Autonomous National University of Mexico, Harvey Bialy recounts Peter Duesberg’s besieging of the dual citadels of oncogenes and HIV with humor, wit, and a close eye for irony. There were times reading this book when I had to stop from laughing so hard, and only later did the enormous gravity of the stories begin to really set in. This book stands alongside Serge Lang’s “Challenges” and John Crewdson’s “Science Fictions” as one of the most potent works on the politics of modern science.

Tony the Paper Tyger [Fauci] should not be pleased with this book, because it airs a lot of dirty laundry. Anyone who still holds the naive assumption that all biomedical science proceeds as a disinterested quest for truth according to some Platonic scientific method is in for a rude awakening. The fact is that most scientists rely on the official judgments of Science and Nature, and Bialy shows how, with respect to oncogenes and HIV, a relatively small group of researchers have been able to manipulate the system to convince the rest of the scientific community of the validity of their paradigms. After reading the accounts, it is difficult to determine whether the researchers or the journal editors themselves deserve more blame.

Most people will pick up this book because of its coverage of Duesberg’s HIV position. Indeed, Chapter 5, covering President Mbeki of South Africa and his Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel, as well as the “Durban Declaration” and the 2000 AIDS Conference from which it took its name, is alone worth the price of the book. But the coverage of the aneuploidy theory of cancer is even more interesting, because it is Duesberg’s challenge to the oncogene theory of cancer which may very well prove even more important and revolutionary than his HIV/AIDS critiques. The HIV hypothesis is an obvious blunder – akin to someone stepping off a cliff and then denying gravity in mid-flight. The oncogene theory represents a long, slow deterioration of standards, a deterioration which, (pardon the metaphor) has infected many other areas of science, most especially AIDS research itself.

The book is extensively documented and contains helpful comments in notes at the end of each chapter. The details do become a bit technical at times, but a patient reader with some knowledge of virology and immunology should not have trouble following, and many potentially unfamiliar terms are explained.

Harvey’s killer review

Of course, if either Moore or his even less articulate friend Stevenson ever want to find pointers as to how to write a truly devastating review, they might leaf through back numbers of Nature Biotechnology and read the killer demolition of “Making PCR” by Paul Rabinow (University of Chicago, 1996) that Harvey Bialy himself perpetrated in Nature Biotechnology titled “Politically Correct PCR.”

The first sentence sets the tone: “This pretentious little book begins badly and then proceeds, almost exponentially, to get worse.”

Other rapier thrusts follow. “The absence of any analysis of an extremely interesting idea (PCR, the ability to make more and more out of less and less, the ultimate decontextualization of genetic information) is a missed opportunity that, sadly, is itself exemplary of the numerous disappointments Monsieur Le Blanc, to whom the book, with characteristic surface erudition, is dedicated, was forced to endure because of a commitment to read the entire 176 pages…

“Here was a chance to tell a wonderfully ironic, dramatic, and completely fascinating story that traced the flawless trajectory of biotechnology inscribed by the first-ever such company as it traveled from the corridors of the molecular biology and virus laboratory at the University of Califormnia, Berkeley in the early 1970s, where it was conceived, to its building in Emeryville, where it matured, under the experienced and corporate hand of the self-styled biotechnology luminary Robert Fildes, into another would-be pharmaceutical company with too little in the pipeline and the bank.”

That chance, Bialy cruelly suggests, was completely missed by “our newly minted scholar of biotehnology research” who omitting “every nuance and more” gives the reader instead “a dull, methodologically flawed, politically corrected verion that turns intensely interesing, children-of-the-60s scientists like Mullis, and White, and David Gelfand, and Henry Erlich, into two-dimensional caricatures and despite its promises to do so, provides no believable context at all in which to appreciate how biotechnologiy’s exemplary invention came to be.”

By the end of this ruthless literary assassination the only interesting question is not whether the book sold (it was remaindered soon after) but whether the author of the book survived. Apparently he did, although there was a point where, refused by the editor the “right of reply” to the review, he was frantically calling Peter Duesberg to ask him to intercede.

How the Zapata of AIDS insurgency left Cuba to found global virtual biotech library in Mexico

All this attention on Amazon leaves the intellectual, Mexico-based arch-conservative rebel author professor, who likes to act as the behind the scenes general of the 2,400 strong army of HIV?AIDS critics, or at least some of the more activist scientists, academics and writers among them, in such a good mood that he has provided some exclusive material to New AIDS Review, an account of why he left the position of founding science editor at Nature Biotechnology in 1996 for points south, starting with Cuba.

Contrary to the libellous insinuations of John Moore on various Web sites, avers Bialy, this was not because his notoriously passionate personality didn’t accomodate to the staid and devious office politics of a magazine in the same publishing stable as Nature and its editor John Maddox, who caused Bialy and Duesberg so much trouble in publishing what might be called the other side of HIV?AIDS. In fact, all the signs are that Bialy is an expert negotiating such minefields, probably a function of his fierce intelligence trumping his highly strung temperament except when a little terrorism is the right move.

What happened was that Bialy found another outlet for his manipulative wizardry, a scheme he concocted in 1994 which joined Cuba, Israel and South Africa as biotechnology partners. The initiative was the CISABE, or Cuba, Israel South Africa Biotechnology Exchange, and he left in the spring of 1996 for La Habana to manage the project full time from the Cuban Center for Genetic Engineering, where he had been a senior advisor for ten years.

At the same time he was retained as editor at large by the journal he helped found at a salary almost as much as his desk salary, an arrangement which lasted till 2000. Another prize was his unique passport. “I think I am maybe the only person in the world who has these three visas on facing pages of their passport.”

When the Cuba initiative didn’t work out – Harvey found out in a matter of weeks that Fidel and his Secretaries were just not up to moving ahead rapidly on such an ambitious technical cooperation – Bialy got so annoyed that, he says, would probably have murdered one of Fidel’s Secretaries if he hadn’t taken it out on the unfortunate Rabinow in writing the above review.

But then he anyway landed on his feet. He was invited by Francisco Bolivar, co-inventor of the plasmid cloning vector pBR322, a founding scientist of Genentech and founding director of the Institute of Biotechnology (IBT) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to “come here and do for us what you did for Cuba, and believe me we will not treat you that way.”

“I did, and they didn’t,” vouchsafes the Emiliano Zapata of the AIDS insurgency, who now as a resident scholar at IBT and director of its Virtual Library of Biotechnology for the Americas interacts with the principal investigators of this research center, gives guest lectures, and helps via his extensive contacts to gain the IBT international recognition and funding, at which he is clearly very effective at well over 1 million euros.

He gives the Virtual Library all the profits if any from his scientific biography of Duesberg, which was published jointly by the Institute of Biotechnology and the National University (the first book ever published by the IBT, and the first English language book ever published by the UNAM), and was recently translated into Spanish by Roberto Stock, a senior investigator at the Institute of Biotechnology, and published by the National University of Mexico Press (ISBN 9703225993).

Moving to Cuernavaca had another and serious attraction, he reveals – he had met the “last love” of his life in Cuba and married her, and bringing her to Mexico avoided the impossibility of a senior biotechnolgist from the CIGB being allowed to leave Cuba for the United States.

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