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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Whoopi Goldberg heralds Worlds AIDS Day of behalf of orphans

The BBC pandering again, Alas

Whoopi Goldberg weighed in today with the full force of her glamor on the BBC to push AIDS Day (tomorrow, Thurs Dec 1) and the urgent need for a cure for a plague which, she tells the BBC World News, has left 15 million children orphaned. It shouldn’t be overshadowed by bird flu, she points out, when children are the ones which are suffering.

As we have noted before, the BBC seems to be neglecting its mandate to serve the public with unbiased news by reporting AIDS and other global medical alarms without ever quoting skeptics for balance. Once above marketing considerations, the public, license-funded corporation is now obsessed with audience numbers and has hardly any public affairs programs at all. How are the mighty fallen! American viewers. if unaware of this comedown from its majestic past, presumably view it as independent and responsible, even a cut above the once regal PBS which has now taken to running commercials for its sponsors.

Alas the truth is much different. The BBC has become a purveyor of biased information of the most sensationally simplistic sort, at least in AIDS. It informs viewers about AIDS at this BBC page on AIDS news”, which is chock full of the standard beliefs and claims without the slightest hint that the whole ideology has been ill founded for 19 years, according to the scientific review literature, peer reviewed and in the highest level journals.

Supporters of dissent in AIDS viewing this page with a jaundiced eye shouldn’t get excited at the big headline, “AIDS Debate”. This is not a reference to the scientific debate about whether HIV has any support in reason or evidence for being taken as the cause of the 33 AIDS symptoms, rather than their conventional causes.

The headline in fact refers to this news story Tough challenges remain in Aids fight by Karen Allen

BBC Health correspondent


Global funding for HIV/Aids has tripled in the past four years from a little over US$2bn to $6bn.

Yet it still falls far short of the $20bn UNAids estimates will be needed by 2007, just to stop the epidemic getting worse.

With more money now in the system, divisions are emerging about how it should best be spent.

The Bush administration in the US has committed $15 billion to fight HIV/Aids. It’s an impressive sum.

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Tough challenges remain in Aids fight

By Karen Allen

BBC Health correspondent

By the time World Aids day has run its course an estimated 14,000 more people in the world will have become infected with HIV.

Nearly 40 million people globally are living with the Aids virus and within two years, six million more are expected to die.

A volunteer receives a vaccine shot in Bangkok

Only a small percentage of Aids funding goes into vaccine research

The statistics make grim reading and with infections continuing to rise at an alarming rate, there is no room for complacency.

It is a dynamic picture and one of the biggest global challenges the international community has had to face.

Funding

Global funding for HIV/Aids has tripled in the past four years from a little over US$2bn to $6bn.

Yet it still falls far short of the $20bn UNAids estimates will be needed by 2007, just to stop the epidemic getting worse.

With more money now in the system, divisions are emerging about how it should best be spent.

The Bush administration in the US has committed $15 billion to fight HIV/Aids. It’s an impressive sum.

But it has come in for criticism from some aid agencies for pushing programmes that use brand name anti-retroviral drugs which are more expensive than their generic counterparts.

It has also been under fire for pursuing an agenda which gives priority to projects that promote sexual abstinence over condom use.

Finding a safe effective vaccine is the holy grail in HIV/Aids research.

Some commentators say this is irrelevant for women in parts of Africa, for whom the biggest risk is of getting HIV is having a partner who sleeps around.

But others argue that even money with strings attached is welcome at a time when the epidemic shows little sign of waning.

Anthony Fauci – the US government’s key advisor on HIV/Aids argued at the International Aids Conference in Bangkok that the logic behind the Bush programme was to maintain accountability and control over how US taxpayers’ money is spent.

Meanwhile UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ruffled feathers when he countered that the American unilateral approach was undermining the Global Fund – an international mechanism to raise cash for HIV/Aids work, which is struggling to meet its financial targets.

That dispute has not really been resolved but there is now a concerted international effort to co-ordinate Aids funding in a more orderly manner.

This is likely to be a key theme taken up by the British government when it assumes the presidency of the G8 and EU next year.

Drugs

The cost of a year’s anti-retroviral treatment has fallen from around £6,000 a year to £180, yet nine out of 10 people who need the medicines are still not getting these life-saving treatments.

Aids drugs

The price of anti-retroviral drugs has plummeted

The World Health Organisation has set an ambitious target of getting three million people onto the drugs by the end of 2005.

But there are real doubts whether this is achievable, given current funding levels. Aid agencies say that it is entirely possible to meet that deadline but what is needed is the political will to roll drugs out on a massive scale.

However, it is not simply about distributing pills.

Christian Aid is one of the charities warning that without proper investment to build hospitals and train staff, sustaining anti- retroviral treatment in the long term will be hard.

Anti-retrovirals need to be taken consistently and widespread failure to do this could lead to major drug resistance and a reduction in treatment options for infected patients.

Vaccines

Finding a safe effective vaccine is the holy grail in HIV/Aids research but is proving a difficult challenge and it is unlikely that we will see effective immunisations available before the end of the decade.

Aside from the scientific difficulties, there are also enormous financial challenges

There are currently some 30 different Aids vaccines undergoing trials.

These experiment with different approaches, aiming either to disable the Aids virus or prevent it from entering human cells and multiplying.

Aside from the scientific difficulties of HIV vaccine research, there are also enormous financial challenges.

IAVI, the International Aids Vaccine Initiative points out that only 1% of global research and development funding is being channelled into finding an Aids vaccine.

The G8 have promised to set up a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, a consortium to fast-track Aids vaccine research and pool information and cash.

The British government has already indicated that it intends to push Aids vaccine research up the political agenda, backing it up with a promise of more funding.

If indeed it does deliver, it could be a lasting legacy that finally turns the tide on an unrelenting epidemic.

amid a whole collection of unexceptional news items and other aspects of the AIDS non-debate, scientifically speaking, which are offered on the page.

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Have Your Say Special

Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 15:45 GMT

Find out the facts, explore the issues and read about life with HIV in our BBC Aids special.

Overview

DEBATE IN: Arabic Persian Hindi Russian Spanish Portuguese Chinese

FEATURES

Anti-Aids drugs have transformed Bongani’s life Aids: A South African success story

Bongani’s health has been transformed since he began taking ARV’s.

IN PICTURES

Light bulbs of hope: A mother and daughter’s story

Interrupted lives: Don McCullin’s images

The time has come for our governments to press the panic button

Karthik Dinakar, Bangalore, India

Your views: How can the battle against Aids be won?

Sha Wang, suspected Aids sufferer Slow starter

China’s new openness to tackling Aids begins to pay off – for some

Woman farmer in Thyolo, Malawi HIV in Malawi

Cultural norms fuel the spread of the disease among women

Logo of the Rainbow House, a Haiti orphange for children whose parents have died of Aids Catching a rainbow

Orphans find a home at Haiti’s first refuge for children with Aids

MORE FEATURES

Tackling Iran’s growing drugs problem

A pilot scheme is helping drug addicts who would otherwise be “dead or in prison”.

LIVING WITH HIV

Amir Reza ‘One cannot expect a drastic change’

A man walks past a Chinese government-sponsored poster on HIV/Aids ‘Everybody seems to know I have HIV’

TALKING POINT

You asked Botswana’s president

Peter Piot, UNAids

WHO Aids Director

HIV/AIDS AROUND THE WORLD

MORE PERSONAL STORIES

YOU ASKED THE EXPERTS

‘Why we are failing African girls’

Girl-trafficking hampers Aids fight

New York’s ‘guinea pig’ kids

Mozambique faces HIV dilemma

Mally, S Africa: Staying upbeat

Bogdan, Romania: Teenage years

Niza, Mexico: Fears leaving son

Juan, USA: Loneliness of HIV

UK minister Hilary Benn

Aids activist Emma Thompson

HIV drugs: Our panel

Condoms and culture: Our panel

Shukria Gul, HIV positive counsellor Tackling taboos

Uphill struggle for open debate in Pakistan on Aids

The biology of Aids

Find out how HIV attacks the body and how drugs fight back

Condom quiz

What do you know about the sheath that saves lives?

YOUR PICTURES

HIV/AIDS SEASON

The ‘real face of Aids’: Final days in Florida

Fighting HIV in Trinidad and Tobago

A lone mother cares for her son in Vietnam

Kenya’s slum volunteers fight back

world service banner

The Interview: Kofi Annan

Outlook: India’s Aids hospital

Young people & HIV

The Nelson Mandela concert

The BBC Aids concert

Out of control

The impact of Aids in the worst-hit countries

Global disease

Maps, charts, facts and figures about the global spread of HIV

Aids frustrations

A global survey for the BBC reveals anger and confusion

For anyone who grew up with the Beeb as the disinterested authority in all matters concerning news and views, the epitome of starchy, unperturbable decency carried over the ether across the mountains and jungles of the world to outlying posts of the contracting British Empire, this is a sadly low station for the old lady to inhabit in her dotage.

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