Times Higher Education removes comments
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/01/15
The Times Higher Education website posted an article about Elsevier’s withdrawal of already accepted articles in Medical Hypotheses:
“Unclear outlook for radical journal as HIV/Aids deniers evoke outrage — Publisher considers Medical Hypotheses’ future in light of articles’ ‘implications'” (by Zoë Corbyn, 14 January 2010) which brought many comments, with a gratifying number of individuals speaking up for the importance of Medical Hypotheses, the limitations of peer review, and the impropriety of attitudes like those expressed by Moore and Kalichman that seek to suppress any critiques of mainstream theories.
Checking for new comments this morning, I found the following:
“# Editor’s comment
We have removed a number of comments for breaching our policies. Please note that posters could be vulnerable to legal action with regards to what they say on this forum.”
By the sort of glitch that can happen under these circumstances, one of the removed comments was by me. Those who scan the comments at the moment will therefore find a comment on my comment, by a certain Todd DeShong, and will be puzzled over (1) what he is referring to and (2) why the editor did not remove DeShong’s assertions about me that may well be libelous.
Here’s the comment of mine that had appeared briefly yesterday:
“There’s also an unclear outlook as to whether Elsevier is fit to publish scientific journals.
Glen Campbell, Executive V-P for Global Medical Research Journals, Elsevier Health Sciences, received an e-mail on 3 August 2009 apparently alleging that an article in press and posted on-line constituted a threat to global public health.
What would an administrator of scientific publishing do in this situation? Obviously, the first step is to inform himself properly about the matter by seeking information from the journal’s editor, and possibly also the journal’s Editorial Board, and plausibly from the article’s authors, who would naturally be in the best position to comment on the technical allegations — if any — in the protest e-mail.
Instead, Campbell had the articles taken down without the benefit of advice from editor, editorial board, or authors. It might be noted, too, that the wording of the withdrawal makes serious allegations, arguably libelous, about the article’s authors (see PubMed 19619953).
The authors found out about it when a protester’s blog, on the day following Campbell’s e-mail to the protesters, announced triumphantly their success in having the articles withdrawn.
Several days later, the authors received belated notification of Elsevier’s action, from a different Elsevier vice-president, Chris Lloyd (V-P for Health Sciences Journals). There would be an internal investigation into the matter, he said.
At no time have the authors, the editor, or the editorial board been informed of the content of the protesting e-mail; or about the nature of the internal investigation — who conducted it, what it was supposed to investigate. Most recently, a result of that investigation was communicated to the authors: A panel of editors of medical journals should be asked to advise whether the withdrawn articles were broadly within the bounds of acceptable science.
The salient substantive points, too, have been persistently avoided. The journal JAIDS published an article alleging that hundreds of thousands of South African lives had been needlessly lost because the South African government did not make antiretroviral treatment available, owing in part to Peter Duesberg’s influence, holding him therefore at least partly responsible for those deaths. The calculations used ESTIMATES of South African deaths from AIDS that EXCEED BY A FACTOR OF 25 those published by Statistics South Africa (estimating 350,000 instead of the count from death certificates of about 14,000). JAIDS refused, however, to publish Duesberg’s letter correcting the numbers. Later a modified version (of which I am one of the co-authors) was submitted to and accepted by Medical Hypotheses.
Since it is an article and not a letter, Duesberg’s piece in Medical Hypotheses contains additional material, but the fact remains that JAIDS refused to publish a correction based on official South African statistics, and fanatical defenders of HIV/AIDS dogma are apparently terrified that the media and the wider public might come to know that estimates about AIDS deaths are exaggerated by factors like 25 by such agencies as UNAIDS. That such exaggeration has been routine is attested, for example, by the former epidemiologist for the World Health Organization, James Chin, who points out (“The AIDS Pandemic”, Radcliffe Publishing) that, to explain the alleged spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, one would have to postulate that 20-40% of the adult population is continually engaged in sexual promiscuity with several partners who change frequently.
On the wider issue of whether HIV causes AIDS, it’s pertinent that my own expertise is in history, philosophy and sociology of science, with a special interest in the role of unorthodox views in the progress of science. After monitoring the HIV/AIDS controversy for a decade or so, I was led to collate the data on HIV tests in the United States and realized that the tests are not detecting a infectious agent (see “The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory”, McFarland 2007). My background in science studies enabled me to believe that the mainstream consensus could be wrong because I knew that has happened so often about interpretations and theories: indeed, were it not so, then our understanding would not have progressed.”