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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The pressing need to spend $22 billion on global AIDS

For twenty one years, there has been one consistent theme sung and trumpeted by all involved in the burgeoning and now global AIDS ideology, and that is the extreme importance of spending as large amounts of money as possible in combating the dread threat of a virus scientifically established as extremely un- or not at all infectious which lacks any peer-reviewed scientific explanation or proof of its supposed depredations, or indeed any proven significant presence in patients who are supposed to be deteriorating unto certain eventual death under its influence.

Yes, sir, the importance of spending ever larger sums of money defending against this terrifying threat in which a 9 kilobase wisp of RNA that hadn’t been observed by the health system directly or indirectly throughout human history until it popped up seemingly out of nowhere or perhaps from the moon or Mars or some distant star three decades ago is one of the few certainties of HIV AIDS.

Never mind that cancer, stroke, heart attack, TB, malaria and other well understood health threats decimate the populations of nations world wide with far greater totals of annual victims, the vital necessity of raising as much as possible to combat AIDS worldwide is the one sure thing of the field.

Anyone with political ambitions feeding off an image as a human rights advocate can say nothing guaranteed to win more instant approval from all quarters than to suggest that the disproportionate sum already applied to AIDS is still inadequate and must be immediately expanded by yet more billions if the global pandemic is to be prevented from swallowing what might be ultimately the entire population of the planet, given that unlike any other disease agent, there is nobody whose immune defenses can overcome this “insidious” and “cunning” virus.

So today we are not surprised to learn that the UNAIDS agency has upped the ante to $22 billion:

$22 Billion needed in 2008 to Reverse Spread of AIDS, UNAIDS reads a press release forwarded by a pr agency.

Almost US$22 billion will be needed in 2008 to reverse spread of AIDS in the developing world, according to latest estimates. These figures feature in a new report on estimated funding needs produced by the UNAIDS Secretariat, to be released to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board at the end of June.

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$22 Billion needed in 2008 to Reverse Spread of AIDS, UNAIDS

Almost US$22 billion will be needed in 2008 to reverse spread of AIDS in the developing world, according to latest estimates. These figures feature in a new report on estimated funding needs produced by the UNAIDS Secretariat, to be released to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board at the end of June.

(I-Newswire) – Building on previous estimates, these figures have been developed using the latest available information and with the invaluable input from a newly established Resource Needs Steering Committee and Technical Working Group which are made up of international economists and AIDS experts from donor and developing countries, civil society, United Nations agencies and other international organizations.

“We have come a long way in mobilizing extra funds for AIDS, moving from millions to billions, but we still fall short of the US$22 billion needed in 2008,” said Dr Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director. “AIDS poses an exceptional threat to humanity and the response needs to be equally exceptional, recognizing the urgency as well as the need for long term planning and financing.”

The revised estimates indicate funding needs of approximately US$15 billion in 2006, US$ 18 billion in 2007 and US$ 22 billion in 2008 for prevention, treatment and care, support for orphans and vulnerable children, as well as programme costs ( such as management of AIDS programmes and building of new hospitals and clinics ) and human resource costs ( includes training and recruitment of new doctors and nurses ).

This is the first time that specific attention is given to resource needs for longer term investments to improve country capacity in the health and social sectors through training of existing staff, recruiting and paying new staff and significant investments for building the necessary infrastructure. These financial requirements for the human resources and programme costs are preliminary, and will be further refined and improved.

Meeting the 2006-2008 resource needs would result in the following achievements:

— Prevention – A comprehensive prevention response by 2010, as is required to turn around the AIDS epidemic, based on the current coverage of services and the most recent evidence on actual rates of scaling up interventions.

— Treatment and care – 75% of people in need globally ( approximately 6.6 million people ) will have access to antiretroviral treatment by 2008, based on current coverage rates and rates of growth as seen in 2004.

— Orphans and vulnerable children – Increase of support from low levels of coverage to full coverage of all orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa, given that AIDS is responsible for more than 2/3 of children who have lost both parents, as well as AIDS orphans in other low and middle-income countries.

— Human resources – Covering the costs of recruiting and training additional doctors, nurses and community health workers in low-income countries, and two middle-income countries ( South Africa and Botswana ) and incentives to retain and attract people to the health sector. Future analyses will calculate costs for other health workers, including nurse practitioners, clinical officers and laboratory technicians.

— Programme costs – The construction of over 1000 new health centres ( to be available by 2010 ), based on the investments made during 2006-2008. An additional 19, 000 health centres and 800 hospitals would be renovated over the next three years to handle the scaling-up of HIV treatment and care.

According to the latest UNAIDS projections, a total of US$8.3 billion is estimated to be available from all sources in 2005, rising to US$ 8.9 billion and US$10 billion in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

As the response to AIDS is scaled up, funding estimates must be constantly revised and updated. UNAIDS will work with international donors and affected countries to refine the costing estimates, focusing particularly on strengthening health infrastructures.

UNAIDS has been producing resource needs estimates since 2001. Since that time there has been increased access to relevant data, a continuous improvement in the methodologies and new thinking about what comprises a comprehensive package of interventions to turn back the epidemic. The latest estimates constitute the best available assessment of global needs for AIDS and a rational basis for further discussion about AIDS funding in the international arena. The coverage levels presented in the analysis should not be considered as agreed targets, but the outcomes that could be expected if these resources were spent.

It appears that there is a funding gap between resources available and those needed of at least US $18 billion from 2005 to 2007. However, this is likely to be a significant underestimate. Determining the gap between resources available and resource needs is not a matter of simple subtraction. The resources available are based on pledges rather than budgets that have been finalized by governments; actual disbursements to countries are generally less than the total commitments; and the resources available are not necessarily being spent on the same sets of interventions that have been included in the resource needs estimations.

For more information, please contact Dominique De Santis, UNAIDS, tel. +41 22 791 4509, email. desantisd@unaids.org or Beth Magne-Watts, UNAIDS, tel. +41 22 791 5074, email. wattsb@unaids.org. For more information on UNAIDS, please visit http://www.unaids.org.

Distributed for UNAIDS by

Peter Robbs Consultants Ltd

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If this expanded activity is based on an entirely spurious medical fantasy, as the most intensely peer reviewed and peer cleared-for-publication-as-without identifiable-fault scientific literature finds it is, and a pack of some 2000 excruciatingly attentive scientists, doctors, journalists and other researchers also maintain in the face of exceptional social disapproval from a vast crowd of supporters none of whom have the same incentive to be sure of what they are talking about before taking a public position, then this is a seriously distorted allocation of aid money.

In fact, it is then a river of spending devoted to killing off the very people that the fundraisers and the people who support them in the assumption they know what they are doing believe they are rescuing.

Given the stink arising from what has been uncovered at the NIH now that the lid has been taken off the AIDS research arm of that gigantic institution (see preceding post ) , it may be time for all those leading and cheerleading the world in greasing the axles of this particular bandwagon to pause for review. Perhaps the staff employed by the President, Bill Clinton, Richard Holbrooke, and Jeffrey Sachs might be assigned to look into this festering issue instead of blithely ignoring it as politically untouchable. Perhaps there might be a sign of life from the appropriate Congressional investigating committee.

Will this happen, though? Cynics, step aside, we think it is just faintly possible. So we are going to call a few people to see what they think, Washington hands who have been around and know the inside of the Beltway like the back of their hands.

Who better to start with than Jonathan Fishbein, who has just been at least somewhat vindicated in his steel-spined whistleblowing as described in the previous post referred to, which exposed the sexually colored shenanigans of the disreputable bureaucrat running AIDS research at the NIH, and called into question the treatment of research studies on drugs there, in which according to Fishbein results were actually reversed, and reports were written up to say that atrociously run studies which were scientifically invalid nonetheless served to vindicate drugs which were widely suspected as being so damaging as to be useless.

We called Jonathan yesterday for a chat. We found him ebullient after the NIH report backing his criticisms, even though it was not yet revealed to have done so on the most important area of his criticism, the studies. The AP piece was based on a report by the NIH to the Senate Finance Committee which has not yet been made public, except by whatever public spirited bureaucrat got a copy to the AP reporter. Fishbein, who apparently has a lot of quiet support inside the agency he has been kicked out of, says he does not know the full contents yet.

The NIH report did at least make it quite clear that his allegations of gross misbehavior were valid. This is important since the misbehavior – sexually colored comments and the like – was aimed at members of his staff apparently in an attempt to scare them off in their investigations of procedural corruption.

So, given that a serious lack of integrity is what he found at DAIDS, the first thing we asked Fishbein was, had it made him doubt the whole story of AIDS, or at least give the naysayers a little more credit than he had before?

The answer to this was yes, it had somewhat, helped by an introduction he had received to Peter Duesberg, with whom he had had dinner in Washington two weeks ago when Duesberg was invited to the NIH to give an account of his new route to the cure for cancer, aneuploidy.

(If you don’t realize what that invitation means in regard to Duesberg, read the next post.)

On the other hand, he was hardly going to take any public position on it, given that his chief purpose now is to make sure that hearings on the NIH and his allegations is mounted on Capitol Hill, which is the only way he will achieve professional vindication and avoid the scarlet letter W for whistleblower emblazoned on his forehead forever.

What Fishbein told us we will post tomorrow.

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