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.

Master list of sources of human bias in sciences

May 3rd, 2008

The humble host of this blog and his much more distinguished colleagues and commenters extend an invitation to all enlightened readers to join us in defending good science against the endless list of corrupting human frailties and motivations which bend scientific conclusions in fields where data is malleable and open to interpretation, especially HIV/AIDS, cancer, bird flu, SARS, and other medical alarms, so that a gullible public and scientifically naive media reporters and political leaders may be rescued from often dire consequences, including inappropriate imprisonment and painful and premature death.

Since the list of compromising influences on modern science is long enough to form a Devil’s Dictionary in its own right, and expands every time we contemplate it, we have removed it from the bottom of the home page and present it here, available for additions anytime a new one occurs to us or is suggested by readers.

These are some of the emotions, influences and errors endemic to human nature which lead to the unjustified conclusions and claims of scientists, policy errors of political leaders, misdirected bureaucratic responses, wrong headed posturings of celebrities, invalid court judgments, and other unhappy consequences now rife in public affairs across the planet:

Activism, arrogance, authority wielding, avarice,
backscratching, bootlicking, browbeating, bullying, bureaucratic bumbling and self preservation,
careerism, closemindedness, censoring, censoriousness, clubbiness, club membership, coercion, collegiality, competitiveness, confidence tricks, conformity, convention, cooking the books, competing for credit, corruption of power, cowardice, credulity, crowd psychology, currying favor, cv expansion,
deceit, defensiveness, delusions of grandeur, gratitude, discretion, dissembling, dogmatism, dreams of glory,
embarrassment, empire building, envy, experimental bias,
false hope, fanciful theorizing, family loyalty, fashion, fear and loathing, fear mongering, flag waving, flocking, fondness for the status quo, friendship,
group loyalty, grant seeking,
herd instinct, homophobia, hubris, human error, hypocrisy,
iatrogenic ignorance, ideology, illogic, instigating panic, institutional affiliation, intimidation, irrationality, insanity,
job retention,
lack of controls, laziness, lickspittle press instincts, loyalty to superiors, lying, lynch mob mentality,
maintaining parents, wives, mistresses and offspring, masochism, media stenography, mental inertia, mentor allegiance, misdirection, misunderstanding, naivite, narcissism, Nobel hunting,
obedience, obeisance, officiousness, opportunism, overclaiming,
panic, paradigm protection, patron pandering, peer pressure, perks, preconceptions, privileges and prizes, piety, politicking, political pressures, popularity, power seeking, pseudoscience, prejudice, preserving face, prevarication, pride, protectionism, Ptolemaic rationalizing, public relations, PubMed illiteracy, pusillanimity,
racism, rage, rationalization, religion, religious instinct, respectability, reputation enhancing, resistance to change, rivalry, ruthless ambition,
sadism, scheming for advancement, self-deception, self-interest, self-justification, self-preservation, self-promotion, scientific illiteracy, shame, sloth, slow wittedness, smug orthodoxy, social ambition, social belonging, status seeking, sheer stupidity,
terrorizing, thievery, timidity, toadying, trickery, tribalism, ‘truthiness’,
unchecked error copying, uninformed certainty,
vanity, venality, veneration, virus hunting,
witch hunting, wishful thinking, worship of authority,

and all other primeval forces of human nature flowing through modern social systems defeating intelligent objectivity and rational public choice.

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