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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Numb and dumb at the New York Times

A Times editor and a Columbia economist both seem blind to there being something very odd about global AIDS

Given the research impotence of Nicholas Wade and other in house authorities at the New York Times, including the CDC trained Larry Altman, one cannot blame the editorial writers for assuming that the established ideology of AIDS, endorsed by every official institution as well as by their colleagues, is assailed only by crackpots and charlatans. That’s assuming, of course, that the opinions which touch on AIDS are not written by Wade himself.

But when one reads work such as today’s lead editorial, A Better Way to Fight Poverty, one begins to wonder whether at times the brain of the writer is functioning at all. Essentially a lament for the poverty endemic in Africa, it calls for the world to live up to its promises of raising aid to 0.7 per cent of their GDP (Gross Domestic Poduct) by 2015, in the UN plan spearheaded by Columbia’s Jeffrey Sachs.

Jeffrey’s political acumen

Who could argue with that? Sachs is doing an excellent job of rousing political support for this cause, in fact. A week or two ago, he was telling a conference at the UN that if everybody gave up the equivalent of one Starbucks coffee a day, the lives of the 20,000 children dying from starvation every day could be saved. The audience loudly applauded his speech, which in this and other ways emphasized how little the rich have to give up to rescue the poor.

Unfortunately, his idealism (or is it his political savvy) leaves no room for questioning the AIDS hypothesis, as he has made clear to this writer when the topic was raised. His answer to my offer to do a report for him was a) “Any topic but that!” and b) to vanish into the night before I could fully explain why it might be worth his while as a global white knight to at least get a briefing as to what was going on. So in one way, if the HIV skeptics have anything to tell us, Sachs is part of the problem, as the same time as being part of the solution.

African malnutrition

In the same way, the Times editorial writer, whether he is Wade or informed by Wade, is part of the problem too, for he or she blithely accepts statistics which to a skeptic actually indicate the questionable nature of the HIV-AIDS concept of a rampant infection slowly but surely pervading the world.

The editorial takes a school in a village on the equator in Kenya as an example of how important it is to feed children properly. Six years ago, the head teacher arrived in Sauri to find that the children were starving. Small wonder that their performance on national exams was poor. Mrs Omolo started a food program, partly paid for by the teachers, which managed to feed at least the top two grades (the children from the lower grades crowded the windows to watch the seniors eat). Their test scores shot up and the school’s ranking among the 353 schools in the district went from 68th to 7th.

Now the village has been picked as a UN showcase, and will receive $250,000 a year in aid for five years. All the children will be fed, and the ranking of the school this year, Mrs Omolo confidently expects, will be 1st.

AIDS salutes

A fine, telling story, and one hopes it will help influence the world’s richest country to commit to a timetable for raising its own aid contribution to the target 0.7 per cent. which it hasn’t yet. But just as telling are the routine bows in the direction of AIDS ideology as this otherwise sensible editorial proceeds.

There are two. The first is offered as a reason why half the school’s students were “in no position to contribute food”—because they were “orphans whose parents had died of AIDS.” The second is offered as a caution, warning us that even if the villagers are fed and enabled to improve their methods with the UN bounty, they still have to grapple with devils. “In the meantime, the people in Sauri work on their farms while trying to ward off killers like malaria, malnutrition and AIDS—some 25 per cent of them are infected with HIV.”

Surely any working mind should screech to a halt at those statements. Here we have an evidently agricultural lifestyle, yet the claim is that half the children are AIDS orphans, and 25 per cent of the village is infected with HIV. How, one wonders, are these hapless farmers getting infected? Is Sauri near a thruway to Nairobi and doing a roaring sex trade with passing truckers? Doesn’t sound like it.

Even if one is unfamiliar with the scientific literature that shows that HIV is so uninfectious that it takes a heteroexual couple on average 1000 copulations to transfer it, surely the editorial writer was reading the papers in the US years ago when we were told that sharing a bathroom and even a toothbrush with an HIV infected person would be safe. Surely he or she has heard of, even if he or she hasn’t read, Michael Fumento’s book “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS”?

A relabeling epidemic?

Malaria is one of the biggest killers in the world, and so is malnutrition. How likely is it that AIDS is in any way involved in the deaths of people in Sauri, when the editorial makes clear that hunger was so rife that it affected all the children in the village school?

How likely is it that the truth, instead, is that the AIDS in this village, if not all of Africa, is simply the relabeling of these other bigger, undoubtedly real threats as “AIDS”, with all the increased concern and funding that that entails?

The job of editorial writers is to deal with the factual distortions of politics. It is a mark of the political power of the AIDS fantasy that it can benumb the minds of the worldly editorial board of the Times into accepting such apparent distortions of reality in Africa.

If you want to read the editorial, here it is.


The New York Times

May 5, 2005

A Better Way to Fight Poverty

Kenya has never seemed to be able to live up to the potential of its rich farmland and staggeringly beautiful valleys. Its government is corrupt. Its capital, Nairobi, has become a haven for street thieves and muggers. Some 56 percent of the population lives below the poverty level. Malaria, which could be as treatable as strep throat, kills one in five children every year because the government grossly shortchanges its public health system. All in all, it is a classic case of how African governments can squander foreign aid.

But far from the noise, pollution and public and private crooks of Nairobi, the village of Sauri, practically smack on the equator, is an example of a better way to do things. It is one of two test cases for the United Nations’ ambitious program to cut poverty in half by 2015. Sauri’s story shows how direct aid can largely bypass governments, getting money and help straight into the hands of the people who not only need it the most, but also know what to do with it.

Anne Omolo, the head teacher of Sauri’s sole primary school, arrived six years ago to find a student population that was listless, miserable and performing poorly in national exams. Some 500 children were enrolled, but attendance was low. She soon realized the problem. “They were hungry,” she said.

So on her own, she started a food program. She went to the village parents who could afford it and asked them to bring in corn and beans. But almost half of the school’s students were orphans whose parents had died of AIDS, and they couldn’t afford to contribute food. So Mrs. Omolo and the 10 other teachers dug into their own pockets.

Eventually, they scraped together enough to feed about 100 students. It was a terrible choice. “Not everybody could eat,” Mrs. Omolo said. So she fed the top two grades – seventh and eighth graders – because they would soon be taking national exams to move on to high school. Students from the younger classes went to the windows to watch their older schoolmates eat.

The result was instantaneous. Attendance among the older children shot up to 100 percent, and their test scores followed suit. Sauri went from 68th out of 353 schools in the district in 2000 to 7th in 2004.

“This year,” Mrs. Omolo says, “we will be No. 1.”

Part of the reason for her confidence is that this year, every schoolchild will eat. Sauri was chosen last year to be one of the United Nations’ test villages – Koraro, Ethiopia, is the other – to show how poverty in Africa can be ended through programs that help villages directly. For the next five years, Sauri will receive $250,000 a year for agricultural, educational and health programs.

Much of the money will go to help farmers improve their crop yields. Farms are already looking better, thanks to people like Patrick Mutuo, a Kenyan soil expert who travels there from Kisumu four days a week to teach the farmers how to get the most out of their land.

Because of Mr. Mutuo and his band of agricultural extension workers, Monica Okech’s six acres of corn, ground nuts and beans are lush and green. Mrs. Okech, a fiercely independent 50-year-old whose husband left her in Sauri years ago, has planted leguminous trees and plants throughout her farm. These plants provide natural fertilizer for what was once depleted soil. Mrs. Okech now feeds 10 villagers, and is building a chicken coop.

The United Nations plan, spearheaded by the economist Jeffrey Sachs, seeks to expand the program to the entire district, and then all over Africa. But that will happen only if rich countries make good on their promise to ratchet up foreign aid to 0.7 percent of G.D.P. by 2015. Britain, France and Germany have all put out timetables for meeting the goal. The United States, the world’s richest country, has yet to do so.

In the meantime, the people in Sauri work on their farms while trying to ward off killers like malaria, hunger and AIDS – some 25 percent of them are infected with H.I.V. But all it takes is for the villagers to look across the valley at the anemic farms and dismal test scores of their neighbors to know that they are still the lucky ones.

One Response to “Numb and dumb at the New York Times”

  1. harveyb Says:

    Dangerous insurgent activity. This letter went today to 35,000 emails from the FASEB directory. Talk abt directed advertising. How many potentially motivated buyers read the NY Times book review? Not this many, no way. Why don’t you put THAT on your front page.

    From: vcenter@ibt.unam.mx [SMTP:vcenter@ibt.unam.mx]
    To: h.bialy@natureny.com

    Subject: I have written a book about Peter Duesberg, cancer and HIV
    Sent: 06/05/2005 05:21 p.m.
    Importance: Normal

    It is very good, and Peter and I are not the only ones who think so as you can discover at the online Barnes and Noble or Amazon, or by reading George Miklos’ review in Nature Biotechnology (http://www.duesberg.com/books/oncogenes.html).

    Here is the publisher’s summary:

    Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and Aids: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg

    The author is an unabashed friend of Peter Duesberg and makes no bones about it in this personalized account of some of what the transformation of classical molecular biology into biotechnology has
    wrought. Most people, even many molecular biologists, will either not know or remember that two of the great themes of modern medicine, AIDS and cancer genes, both directly derive from the pioneering work on retroviruses of Peter Duesberg and a handful of others in the 1970s.
    Thus Duesberg’s more than two decade, ongoing theoretical and experimental critiques of the dominant etiological explanations in each of these fields comes from substantial scientific contributions over a highly distinguished professional career that not only placed him in the US National Academy of Sciences at the young age of 50 in 1986, but gave him his own archive at the U.C. Berkeley Bancroft library–an archive that provided much of the documentation for revelations about the
    extremely unscientific behavior of several of Duesberg’s powerful scientific adversaries.

    In tracing Duesberg’s academic trials, tribulations and recent emerging triumphs, the author, an early PhD from the first department of molecular biology in the country at Berkeley, and the founding scientific editor of Nature Biotechnology, uses as guide posts the published papers of Duesberg from the earliest critical analysis of oncogenes in the pages of Nature in 1983 to very recent experimental demonstrations in the pages of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) of quantitative, aneuploidy-based explanations of cancer’s genetic roots. In between, the book follows the interruption of this classical scientific arc–in which one dominant paradigm begins to transform into a more useful and correct one–with the story of the
    iconoclastic professor’s professionally self-destructive questioning of the other pillar of today’s biotech driven molecular medicine that he unwittingly midwived–HIV and its relationship to AIDS etiology. The author interweaves fully documented and serious scientific history with
    often quite funny personal accounts to demonstrate how scientific theories develop and are shaped by historical circumstances.

    It goes very well with coffee too.

    Thanks for reading this.


    P.S. If you are interested in purchasing a copy online, doing so directly through North Atlantic Books
    will benefit The Virtual Library of Biotechnology for the Americas (http://www.ibt.unam.mx/virtual.cgi), which receives 100% of the profits from the sale of the book, substantially more than purchasing it from a secondary distributor like Amazon.

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