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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The Council will fight NIH over AIDS trial children

Early reports indicate that yesterday (May 5 Thu) the New York City council members hauled Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner John Mattingly over the coals for being disrespectful, and for dragging his feet over the promised thorough investigation into why 465 foster children were improperly used for AIDS drug trials from the late 1980s till 2001. Only 142 of the children had independent monitors to act on their behalf, as far as records show, and ACS promised to get moving on an investigation last month.

However, Mattingley in his appearance seemed to be primed to dismiss the allegations in advance, as an ACS press release put it:

“At this very early stage of the analysis we’ve done internally, there is absolutely nothing we have learned about anything untoward or inappropriate in the care of these children,” Commissioner Mattingly said. “The intent was to get promising medicine to children who were sick with AIDS and HIV.”

Apparently the General Welfare Committee members yesterday were not prepared to be stalled on this matter, and since they are the arbiters of a city budget of some $48 billion, compared to an NIH budget of $28 billion, they have some clout.

And with an AP reporter (and one from Newsday) present covering a story which reaches across the US since there were similar trials in other states, this story of official abuse of defenseless children in the care of the state is too juicy a political apple not to bite a large chunk out of. For sure this time AIDS politics and blather about the “danger” of reviewing scientists’ ideas and behavior in AIDS cannot keep the lid on a scandal with overtones reminiscent of the Tuskegee syphilis experiments.

(From Newsday):

Mattingly, who took over ACS last year, finished his testimony by asking that people consider the facts that the investigation turned up instead of making allegations.

“To suggest that my predecessors or that I would be willing to engage in any Tuskegee-like experiments is just not right,” he said.

Councilman Charles Barron, who is black, said he thought Mattingly had a lot of nerve.

“I see a trace of arrogance, an insulting lecture to us about Tuskegee,” he said. “We have a right to be concerned about experiments because our community has been experimented on ever since we got here.”

It seems likely that the investigation (by the non-profit Vera Institute for Justice) will result in some further disenchantment with the NIH whose image is already cracking with the allegations of the official NIH reviewer and now whistleblower Jonathan Fishbein that the NIH officials rewrote the damning conclusions of the Uganda nevirapine study to make them seem positive, so that large amounts of this drug could be shipped to Africa paid for with the promised federal funds for AIDS relief.

Documents show NIH knew of problems with the study in early 2002, but did not tell the White House before President George W. Bush launched a $500-million plan that summer to use nevirapine throughout Africa.

This means to us that AIDS skeptics will possibly get a little more traction now in nearly two decades of stymied efforts to get an official review of the justification for current AIDS ideology.

This review has always been prevented by the NIH officials and their allies, the peer reviewers who consistently reject any grant proposal to test the scientific foundation of the AIDS-is-HIV belief.

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