Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

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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.

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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

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Scotsman defeats HIV but questions remain – BBC/News of the World

The BBC, which has shown that no AIDS drama from Africa is too unlikely for it to report with a straight face on its nightly World News, today picks up a sensational story from the News of the World and Mail newspapers.

Apparently a Scot who tested positive for HIV antibodies a year ago has now tested negative. Calling himself the “luckiest man in the world” Andrew Stimpson is declining any more testing, presumably on the principle Quit while you’re ahead.

The story shows how few reporters or members of the public at large understand even what the HIV test is about. Evidently their understanding is that the test detects the presence or absence of HIV, the “virus that causes AIDS”, as the Times likes to assure us ad nauseam.

In fact of course the test supposedly determines whether somebody has at some time been exposed to HIV and generated antibodies to it. It supposedly detects such antibodies.

In other words, according to the standard HIV=AIDS tale, what happened to Andrew from Ayrshire, evidently a down-to-earth Scotsman from one of Scotland’s most beautiful corners, was that (if the tests are accurate, and consistent, and reveal what they are supposed to reveal, which is another highly questionable story) he was exposed to HIV, developed antibodies to HIV and then a year later, had somehow lost these defenses against HIV.

People with antibodies to HIV – ie those that test “positive” – supposedly have HIV lurking still somewhere in their systems, but effectively hiding from the antibodies, and from any lab researcher hunting for it. That is to say, the amount of HIV found in such people, even after they become fully fledged “AIDS patients” and eventually approach death as a result of a damaged immune system, is typically very low, and hard to tease out at all even with the help of PCR, which can find and multiply the equivalent of a needle lost at the bottom of New York harbor.

So Andrew is, according to the standard bible of AIDS theory, now worse off than before. In a world where HIV causes AIDS, he is now undefended against the dread virus. Unless he can make some more antibodies, HIV will have a field day when it emerges from its hiding place somewhere in his body, or when he is again exposed to it. Why is he celebrating?

Since such conundrums arise from the bare minimum of contemplation of the fatuously inconsistent story of HIV?AIDS peddled by news reports like this courtesy of the kind of “expert” news source quoted from AIDS “trusts” and “international AIDS groups”, one wonders whether the reporters and editors of the BBC have any critical faculties left in operation when they read this stuff.

Given the deluge of arrant nonsense purveyed in such stories, probably not. Even the sharpest mental blade grows dull if it has to cut through a tangle of anomalies as knotted as the daily world news on HIV?AIDS.

Meanwhile, we note that the Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust is anxious for Andrew to return for another test, presumably because they feel slightly vulnerable to Andrew pressing suit, and have a pretty good idea they can produce a positive test result again if he will just come back into their clutches.

Seems to us though that they are in something of a fix. If they want to question Andrew’s case, they are going to have to acknowledge that their tests might not be so accurate after all.

Caution over HIV cure claims

(show)

Home of the BBC on the Internet

Sunday, 13 November 2005, 13:56 GMT

A 25-year-old man is reported to be the first person ever to have been cleared of having the virus that causes AIDS.

Andrew Stimpson was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2002 but was found to be rid of the virus in 2003. Adam Brimelow reports.

Caution over HIV ‘cure’ claims

Doctors say they want to investigate the case of a British man with HIV who apparently became clear of the virus.

Scotsman Andrew Stimpson, 25 was diagnosed HIV-positive in 2002 but was found to be negative in October 2003.

Mr Stimpson, from London, said he was “one of the luckiest people alive”.

Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust confirmed the tests were accurate but were unable to confirm Mr Stimpson’s cure because he had declined to undergo further tests.

A statement from the trust said: “This is a rare and complex case. When we became aware of Mr Stimpson’s HIV negative test results we offered him further tests to help us investigate and find an explanation for the different results.

“So far Mr Stimpson has declined this offer.”

A trust spokeswoman added: “We urge him, for the sake of himself and the HIV community, to come in and get tested.

“If he doesn’t feel that he can come to Chelsea and Westminster then he should please go to another HIV specialist.”

‘Miracle’

There have been anecdotal accounts before from Africa of people shaking off the HIV virus.

Mr Stimpson, who is originally from Largs in Ayrshire, said: “There are 34.9 million people with HIV globally and I am just one person who managed to control it, to survive from it and to get rid of it from my body.

“For me that is unbelievable – it is a miracle. I think I’m one of the luckiest people alive.”

Mr Stimpson told the News of the World and Mail on Sunday that he became depressed and suicidal after being told he was HIV-positive but remained well and did not require medication.

Further tests

Some 14 months later he was offered another test by doctors, which came back negative.

He sought compensation but has apparently been told there is no case to answer because there was no fault with the testing procedure.

He has told the papers he would do anything he could to help find a cure.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said: “This appears to be a highly unusual case and without further tests it is impossible to draw any conclusions for people living with HIV.

“The virus is extremely complex and there are many unknowns about how it operates and how people’s bodies react to it.

“Therefore, if this case were able to shed further light, it could be extremely valuable for research into treatments or a cure.”

Vaccine clue

Aids expert Dr Patrick Dixon, from international Aids group Acet, said the case was “very, very unusual”.

“I’ve come across many anecdotal reports of this kind of thing happening in Africa, some quite recently, but it’s difficult to verify them,” he told BBC News 24.

“You have to be rock-solid sure that both samples came from the same person, no mix-up in the laboratory, no mistakes in the testing, etc.

“This is the first well-documented case.”

He said the case was important because “inside his immune system is perhaps a key that could allow us to develop some kind of vaccine”.

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