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)

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New Yorker scores a point for Stossel

Cartoon to give pause to all

Very witty. But in fact, according to independent scholar Bob Houston, there are studies which indicate that cavemen lasted a lot longer, sometimes as old as ninety. He promises to provide them shortly.

3 Responses to “New Yorker scores a point for Stossel”

  1. michael Ellner. Says:

    I believe that everyone will win the AIDS debate, if we re-focus our attention on the question WHAT IS AIDS?, instead of debating what causes AIDS.

    As long as we act as if people were/are getting sick because of underlying CD4, “immuno- deficiencies” we will remain stuck in the AIDS Zone.

    From day one, there was never any evidence that the low CD4 counts found in the sub-set of gay men, drug users, blood recipients and the very poor who were lumped together under the AIDS banner, were the cause of their health problems, rather than an effect of their social health risks. There was never any scientific basis to claim they all suffered from the same syndrome.

    AIDS is a political construct that offered the CDC the opportunity to market the idea that we all needed to be protected from ourselves and each other. Which grew into a multi-billion dollar industry.

    If that seems unfeasible, you should know that CDC officials have already admitted it, publicly acknowledging that they intentionally lied to the American public about the scope and risk of AIDS in the U.S. for the purpose of funding AIDS research and prevention efforts and modifying sexual behavior (Wall Street Journal, Pg 1 and A6, 5/1/96).

    Michael Ellner

  2. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    What is “AIDS” is an excellent question. There are rules about how discrete symptoms or diseases can be clumped together to form “syndromes,” like AIDS. The area of study concerned with this is called Nosology. Serge Lange gives an excellent and concise dismantling of “AIDS” as a coherent syndrome — available in his book “Challenges.”

  3. Gene Semon Says:

    Michael Ellner raises the important issue of psychological stress as an etiological, perhaps dominant, AIDS risk factor.

    For convenience, I’ve reproduced this part of the response thread at the British Medical Journal website, which elaborates on the nature of the AIDS Zone.

    Re: Re: Re: See what one wants… Marcel Girodian, Writer US, 17 April 2005

    Nick Bennett, yes, we’re all individuals on the dissident side, with many disagreements as well as many areas of agreement. So what? What does that have to do with anything?

    The point of my post was simply to point out to you a plausible explanation for your assertion that Hiv negative people with the same risk factors don’t get lowered CD4 counts in some selected studies. We have studies that show that psychological stress causes t-cell depletion. The Hiv+ diagnosis goes well beyond stressful — it is a hammerblow to the psyche like no other, known to cause suicides, murders, and other unpleasantries. Now that’s a situation that should be studied further. I would also theorize that the stressful effect is much worse in Third World people than it is in, say, San Francisco gay men, who often accept the diagnosis in a very blasé fashion since it is considered by many of them to be an important component of gay identity.

    For normal people in Thailand or Africa, it’s quite different. To them, the diagnosis is a life-ender. Just like that, you get pronounced positive, and your life is over, your hope is gone. All your grand plans, down the toilet. And not only will nobody sleep with you anymore, nobody will want to come near you. They think they will get Aids just by touching you. That’s one of the lovely things the Aids establishment has done to the simple people of the Third World by planting the panic of a deadly germ in their minds. You don’t need a pac-man virus eating your t-cells. The gossip of your neighbors alone will do you in.

    Would Hiv+ people get Aids if they didn’t know they were Hiv+, didn’t do drugs, didn’t have malnutrition, didn’t drink from the same water they defecate in? I don’t think so. You’d probably consider it unethical to deliberately withhold Hiv+ info from a person. Personally I think it would be extremely ethical. Lots of people don’t want to know their Hiv “status.” Why not enroll them in an experiment?

    People are still presenting in “end stage Aids,” are they? You mean they are presenting, not having had a Hiv test? What percentage of people are doing so, and which of the many criteria for defining “Aids” is being used with each person? Which of the many criteria for diagnosing someone “Hiv+” is being used in these end stage cases? I assume you must know they are Hiv+, otherwise, how can you say they have “Aids?” Oh, except if they are African, then under the Bangui definition you can say they have Aids without a test! Or if they are Thai, you can call your “end stage” presenters Hiv+, hence “Aids cases,” if they have two positive Elisas from a single blood sample. But they wouldn’t be Aids cases in America or Australia, would they? Because there you need to run the more specific test, the Western Blot, as well (requiring four reactive bands for a positive diagnosis in Australia, but only three in the US). Of course, this wouldn’t work in England, because there the WB is not considered reliable!

    Mr. Bennett, forgive me impertinence, but I suspect that many of your never tested end stage Aids cases are just cases of tuberculosis and other common diseases, relabeled as Aids. Even one of your Aids establishment supporters, Daniel J. Ncayiyana, MD, Editor, The South African Medical Journal, has said:

    “I am quite confident in my own mind that many cases identified as AIDS (according to their symptoms) are not AIDS…The numbers given must, of necessity, include people who possibly have other conditions.”

    –Now Magazine, 9-15 March 2000

    Why do you waste precious bandwidth debating whether we are “skeptics,” “dissidents,” “denialists” or whatever. What does that have to do with anything?

    You say that “psychological impacts on physical health, while real, don’t result in pneumocystis pneumonia and KS!” Well, that sounds logical re KS, which seems to be connected more to nitrite use than anything else (though I know you guys have blamed it on a new virus, what a surprise!). But couldn’t depleted immune cells, caused by the overwhelming, devastating, almost intolerably depressing knowledge that one possesses the “deadly virus” — that one is essentially a leper as far as the community is concerned — foster the conditions that might give rise to pneumocystis pneumonia? Help me with that, I’m not a medical person.

    I mean, you people have been saying for 20 years that you get pneumocystis pneumonia because Hiv eats your t-cells, right? Why couldn’t you get it because stress and depression eat your t-cells?

    We (groups like Alive and Well and others) have had many reports from people who, immediately after their positive diagnosis, started getting sick with diseases associated with Aids. It seems unlikely that the slippery little lentivirus could have chosen that precise moment to do his dirty work. It seems more sensible to conclude that such people are suffering from psychological devastation. The fact that some of them then had another test, which came back negative, upon which event their “Aids” symptoms immediately ceased, would seem to strongly suggest that the diagnosis caused their ailments. You have heard of the Nocebo effect, I presume? Is that not a fairly well proven phenomenon?

    Yes, as you say, “it seems simpler to invoke a single cause” just as it is simpler to attribute Aids to God’s wrath against the sexually uninhibited, as many people do. Or to attribute misfortune to punishment for sins committed in a previous life. But we’re not looking for answers that are simple, are we? We’re looking for answers that are correct, and can be validated by reference to the real world, not by high tech bean- counting of t-cells, alleged Hiv proteins or other means that are fraught with problems and create self-fulfilling prophecies.

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