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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New York Times calls creationist teaching “lunacy” – but not AIDS

With the eight members of the school board in Dover, Pa. who were pushing for Intelligent Design as part of the curriculum abruptly given the royal boot at the polls, the New York Times editorial board is moved today (Fri Nov 10) to call the whole idea “lunacy.”

We are somewhat disappointed at the failure of the iniative since as noted earlier we strongly support the teaching of ID along with evolution in every school from kindergarten thru K12. Our reason is simple enough. Even the youngest schoolkid will surely notice the difference between the hours the teachers will have to devote to evolution to get across its basics, and the thirty seconds it will take to teach the whole of ID ie a single sentence along the lines of “The things we don’t understand in evolution are due to the intervention of God, and we have no idea how He does it.”

The editorial points out, however, that there is still a state-wide problem in Kansas, where the State Board of Education has left evolution in the curriculum “science standards”, but added criticisms of the theory and changed the definition of ‘science’ to allow supernatural causes.


… the current board has narrowly approved new science standards that leave evolution in place but add specific criticisms that schools are urged to teach. Most significant, the definition of science is changed so it is not limited to natural explanations.

The standards, which define the material to be covered in statewide science tests, won’t take effect until 2007 at the earliest. That leaves time for the electorate to once again dump the board members responsible for this lunacy.

Strong word, ‘lunacy’. We applaud this decisive rejection of part of the trendy modern effort to merge science and religion on an “I’m OK You’re OK” basis. That is to say, when the Times goes so far as to call this creeping merger of the two in the realm of classroom teaching “lunacy”, we take it as indicating that they have no interest whatsoever in appeasing the religious wherever good science should rule unsullied by unprovable fantasy.

What we would like to know now is, does this principle apply also to the pages of the Times?

That is to say, given this editorial writer’s impressive, take-no-prisoners stand on behalf of good science dare we suggest that the Times editors now turn and examine their own coverage of science in the field of HIV?AIDS, and make sure that a similar unwarranted merging of science and religion hasn’t taken hold in its own pages?

After all, we have now had two decades of uncritical coverage slavishly conveying to the readers of the Times the inconsistent, irrational, unproven, and unproductive claims of the HIV?AIDS paradigm, a gospel which was barely launched back in the eighties before it was subjected to withering and apparently intellectually fatal criticism in review articles in Cancer Research and the Proceedings of the National Academy, peer-reviewed articles which were never directly answered by any peer-reviewed response in the same journals.

Has there ever been any acknowledgement by the Times of this wholesale refutation of HIV?AIDS theory, an unrefuted refutation which has been visible in the best scientific literature for twenty years, and frequently updated? Barely. We would certainly bet that no Times reader has readily got that idea from the Times coverage of HIV?AIDS, which has mentioned its existence hardly five times in the nineteen years since.

On the contrary, the Times’ reporting has seen fit to dismiss skepticism in HIV?AIDS science virtually out of hand whenever it has mentioned it, which is seldom, meanwhile including the phrase “HIV the virus that causes AIDS” like some kind of instructional mantra in every article it publishes on the topic of AIDS.

What politics is it that moves the Times editors to back the ruling paradigm in AIDS and scorn the critique when (we would bet) none of them have the level of expertise in the field of the chief heretic in AIDS science, Peter Duesberg of Berkeley, and none of them (we would bet) have read much if any of the critique, let alone considered it with the level of attention that it deserves?

What hubris is it that moves the editors of the newspaper of record to squelch the professional curiosity that should be aroused by the enduring challenge in the best scientific literature to the paradigm in HIV?AIDS sustained by a Berkeley scientist of impeccable reputation, whose papers have never otherwise been challenged, a member of the National Academy whose achievements were acknowledged in a letter in Nature to be worthy of a Nobel?

How is it that these editors in their wisdom prefer to accept the view of scientists and bureaucrats who benefit in reputation, position and money from their support of this repeatedly questioned paradigm, and dispense with any reporting on the scientists who despite great penalty in each of these dimensions stick to their guns in rejecting the paradigm even as it spreads like a giant psychedelic mushroom to cover the entire globe?

How very sophisticated they must be, these Times editors, to know without much research or expertise in the science of the field, but using their brilliantly illuminating intuition born of years of reporting and editing in other fields, so clearly to see that the established, universally believed and funded paradigm must be valid, and the objections of a few thousand holdouts, however credentialed, not worth reporting.

(A list of those who support a review of HIV?AIDS science on the ground that the science currently makes no sense is here. Those who have gone on record with worthwhile quotes are here, with the quotes.)

How uncannily the Times editors have found the right way through this thicket of scientific reasoning, despite their lack of personal research and absence of Times reporting on an issue that they have hardly investigated in print even though it involves the welfare of millions around the world and the expenditure of billions in public and private funds based on this paradigm which they perceive so unerringly must be correct.

How astonishing that they know the correct answer even though their own news stories contain enough challenges to common sense that one would think that any editor dealing with them would at least ask what the heck was going on, if not actually smell a rat. One example, obvious to any thinking reader, is the extraordinary discrepancy between AIDS as gay plague in the US and in Europe, and as heterosexual pandemic in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

Apparently, however, the editors of the Times are too busy playing office politics or too addled by the cosy sensation of insider status flowing from their position and the close connection of their chief AIDS reporter, Larry Altman, to the CDC that trained him, and too pleased at their respectful treatment by the officials of the NIH led by Anthony “Don’t dare mention Duesberg” Fauci, to have noticed that the HIV?AIDS theoretical monster has two heads facing in opposite directions.

One would think that in the aftermath of Judith Miller’s somewhat misleading pre-war reporting on the chances of Saddam Hussein’s hiding weapons of mass destruction, and her final exit this week, only slightly less embarrassing than the wreckage done to the Times’ reputation for accuracy by the antics of Jason Blair, that executive editor Bill Keller, managing editor Jill Abrahamson and other key editors might be open to hints that they review the performance of their AIDS reporters.

It is in this spirit of optimism that we are drafting a less impolite version of this post to send to these media princes and princesses in the dim hope that they might act. But we are not betting on it.

(show)

The New York Times

November 10, 2005

Editorial

Evolution and the Electorate

Voters in Dover, Pa., came to their senses this week and tossed out almost the entire school board, which had tried to discredit the theory of evolution and steer students toward the theory of “intelligent design” – the idea that life forms are so complex that a higher being must have made them. Let’s hope the voters in Kansas follow suit next year by ejecting several benighted members of the State Board of Education, which has just approved new science standards that open the way for supernatural explanations of natural phenomena.

The Dover schools are the first in the nation to require that attention be paid to intelligent design. Administrators read a brief statement to biology classes asserting that evolution was only a theory, that intelligent design provided an alternative explanation and that a book on intelligent design was available in the library. That roundabout effort to undermine the teaching of evolution has been challenged as unconstitutional in the courts, with a verdict expected by early January.

Meanwhile, Kansas seems to be veering once again toward supernatural science. Six years ago, the Kansas State Board of Education gutted its statewide science standards to eliminate evolution as an explanation for the development of humanity, and tossed out the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe as well. That madness was reversed the following year, when voters dumped three of the conservative board members responsible.

Now the current board has narrowly approved new science standards that leave evolution in place but add specific criticisms that schools are urged to teach. Most significant, the definition of science is changed so it is not limited to natural explanations.

The standards, which define the material to be covered in statewide science tests, won’t take effect until 2007 at the earliest. That leaves time for the electorate to once again dump the board members responsible for this lunacy.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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