HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

Posts Tagged ‘cold fusion’

Italy, a new Renaissance, and the need for slower science

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2011/07/12

In “Medical students in Italy need not fear ‘HIV’ when dissecting cadavers”  I had occasion to write,
“Many centuries ago, the European Renaissance was born in Florence, Italy. The modern renaissance of evidence-based, non-dogmatic medical science may now be incubating there as well, with deconstruction of the misleading HIV/AIDS hypothesis which represents a true danger to global public health.”

Just now I received the latest newsletter of the group, New Concepts in Global Tectonics, and saw that Rethinking of plate-tectonics theory is also being given a hearing at a conference in Italy. Note that the organizers have invited representatives of the mainstream to engage those who are seeking to revive the concept of an expanding Earth as an alternative to movement of tectonic plates (only approximating to movement of continents). Expanding-Earth theory was quite mainstream half-a-century or so ago before being eclipsed by plate tectonics, which seemed to be supported by the discovery of mid-ocean ridges that push apart the sea floor on both sides of the ridges. But, of course, that would also happen if the Earth were expanding and opening cracks in the sea floor. Both theories rely for mechanism on the accepted fact that heat is being generated inside the Earth, partly or wholly because of the decay of radioactive substances. Most substances expand when they are heated. . . .

While I’m singing the praises of contemporary Italy’s open-minded evidence-based approach to science, I might mention too the decade-old Democracy and Science conferences, publications, and website .
Italy has also hosted several meetings on “cold fusion”, now increasingly being called LENR (low-energy nuclear reactions) or CMNS (condensed-matter nuclear science). Italian scientists are among those who have been actively studying this enigmatic phenomena and periodically appearing to have some worthwhile successes, e.g. “Italian cold fusion saga continues with new papers released”.  It is not widely realized how strong is the evidence that LENR is real, albeit not yet defined or fully reproducible. A couple of years ago, the investigative TV program “60 Minutes” featured an independent measurement expert, formerly skeptical about the phenomenon, who judged it to be real after reviewing experiments done in Israel. I’ve been particularly interested in these claims since I was an electrochemist in my former career and had spent a sabbatical year at the University of Southampton, which had one of the leading electrochemistry labs in the world where one of the professors was Martin Fleischmann who had been the first, in 1989, to announce the discovery of “cold fusion”.

The New Concepts in Global Tectonics group is based in Australia. Perhaps serious evidence-based non-dogmatic science will find footholds primarily outside the high-stakes circumstances of the United States. The intense pressure to get research funding, to commercialize, to attain visibility, to do things fast has brought conflicts of interest and dysfunction to the extent that contemporary science has become a matter of dogma and research cartels.  Just a few days ago there were exchanges on the Internet about the need to slow things down, to give science time to attain reliability instead of rushing headlong in thoughtless pursuit of every new fad. Several years ago the Robert Bosch Foundation issued a manifesto to that effect; here is an English translation of that manifesto.
An encouraging aspect of the Bosch Foundation paper is that its signatories cover such a range of intellectual spheres. Within the small academic sect of science studies, these matters have of course been noted for many years. An early essay was by the founder of citation analysis, Eugene Garfield: “Fast science vs. slow science, or slow and steady wins the race”, The Scientist, 17 September 1990,  p. 14 (reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist: Science Reviews, Journalism Inventiveness and Other Essays, 14 [1991] 380.
John Ziman had pointed out long ago that any research organization requires ‘‘generous measures’’ of
► room for personal initiative and creativity;
► time for ideas to grow to maturity;
► openness to debate and criticism;
► hospitality toward novelty;
► respect for specialized expertise (Prometheus Bound, 1994, p. 276).
The problems stemming from commercialization and other pressures were discussed in my essay “Science in the 21st Century: Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels” (Journal of Scientific Exploration 18 (#4, 2004) 643-60)  which also includes my formulation of the progress of science as a knowledge filter that requires time to winnow reliable stuff from the unreliable (see Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method, 1992/1994)
A book-length discussion of all this is in process of publication as Dogmatism in Science and Medicine.

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Science, media, and Loch Ness “monsters”

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/12/24

In memoriam, Robert H. Rines

Long ago — in the 1930s— “The Loch Ness Monster” became an icon of foolishness,  hoax, tourist-trapping by canny Scots Highlanders, and the like. And so it has remained for some 7 decades for everyone whose knowledge comes only from media sound-bites and shibboleths. The opportunity to become better informed, a potential stimulus to trying to become better informed,  is afforded by the article by Charles Siebert in the New York Times Magazine for 27 December, “The Lives They Lived — Robert Rines: Monster Hunter, 1922-2009”.

I had the privilege of knowing Robert Rines, an extraordinarily accomplished individual; he held patents for inventions in sonar and radar, among other things; first a physicist, later a patent attorney, he was also a musician and composer. He founded the Academy of Applied Science which supported inventors and novel investigations and managed for a federal agency a program to interest young people in science. He founded the Franklin Pierce Law Center. Perhaps above all, he enthused and stimulated untold numbers of people. The many tributes to his life in a range of publications, and the many respectful obituaries after he died on 1 November, attest Rines’s remarkable record of achievements; see for example “Robert H. Rines ’42 — Patent attorney and inventor started MIT the bumpy way” by Sharron Kahn Luttrell, Technology Review, Dec. 2005/Jan. 2006; “Robert H. Rines, Esq. — Pierce Law Founder: A True Renaissance Man”; “Pioneering Loch Ness Monster researcher dies”; obituaries in the Daily Telegraph (UK); in Physics World;  in Huffington Post.

As a potential cure for closed minds, I recommend in particular that last one, by Ben H. Winters, coauthor of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters:
“Sure, the mainstream scientific community felt (and feels) there’s no plesiosaur in Loch Ness; but Rines had seen the damn thing with his own eyes, he trusted his own mind, and by God he was going to get to the bottom of it.
So, yeah, maybe there’s no Loch Ness monster.
Okay, probably there’s no Loch Ness monster.
But it’s worth pausing for a moment to celebrate Robert H. Rines, and the one in a million chance that there is.”

It’s the one in a million chances that have brought genuine progress. Pre-Einstein, for instance, the chances were one in a million or less that Newton’s long-confirmed, long “proved” laws would ever be found wanting. To paraphrase Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, you can spend your life catching and dining on minnows, or you can go after the really big fish, knowing your chances are low but that any success would be a feast for all humanity. Having the courage to risk being wrong makes for progress; as George Bernard Shaw pointed out, progress depends on the unreasonable man. As Jack Good liked to point out, geniuses are cranks who happen to be right and cranks are geniuses who happen to be wrong — they all follow their muse despite the disdain of the multitudes who are too afraid to venture outside what “everyone” believes.

The cranks who happen to be right are often honored only posthumously, for a mainstream consensus defends itself vigorously; as Max Planck pointed out, new ideas take hold only as their opponents die off — science progresses funeral by funeral.

In some part, a mainstream consensus is able to persist so long because media and public seem afraid to look at the evidence for themselves. Once the media have labeled something, that label is likely to stick for a long time; in preparing new stories, time-pressured reporters check newspaper archives and they hesitate to diverge from the received wisdom of the past. So with Loch Ness monsters, the media do not remind the general public that Robert Rines was accomplished enough that he should not have been written off when he became interested in the possible existence of Nessies; the media do not remind the general public that other highly accomplished people had joined in Rines’s searches at Loch Ness, people like Harold Edgerton, inventor of strobe photography and recipient of a Medal of Freedom; Marty Klein, successful entrepreneur, expert in side-scan sonar; Charles Wyckoff, photographic guru at Kodak. The media do not usually accompany mentions of  “The Loch Ness Monster” with reference to the underwater photos of flippers and a long-necked creature that Rines obtained, and which led Nature — at the joint instigation of Rines and the renowned wildlife activist Peter Scott — to publish a scientific name (Rhombopteryx nessiteras) for the creatures.

Nor do the media accompany standard sneers about “cold fusion” with reference to the 15 or so international conferences at which a variety of confirmations of and extrapolations from the Fleischmann-Pons effect have been reported by researchers employed at such places as Los Alamos, the Navy Research Establishment, White Sands, SRI, and official as well as private research institutions in Israel, Italy, Japan, and many other countries as well.

Nor, of course, do the media mention that HIV/AIDS theory has disproved itself in countless ways and has maintained itself only through vested interests and not scientific evidence. I think there really are “Loch Ness monsters” — a reproducing population of large and unidentified critters of some sort in Loch Ness, with cousins probably in Loch Morar and in the oceans; but I’m not quite, 100% sure about it, because you can never prove anything like that 100% unless you have captured a living specimen or found a carcass. But you can definitively, 100%, disprove a theory, and HIV/AIDS theory has been definitively, 100% disproved in a variety of ways. There are innumerable observations that do not fit the concept of a sexually transmitted, immune-system-destroying retrovirus. That evidence is seen, however, only by people not blinded by a mainstream consensus.

Robert Rines is sorely missed, even as we celebrate his achievements and feel grateful for having known him, for the excitement he brought to everything he turned to and the encouragement he gave unstintingly to all who wanted to try something new.

Posted in experts, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Mainstream science wrong again, for two decades

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/04/20

In 1989, I was stunned when I saw, purely by chance, the announcement by Martin Fleischmann and Stan Pons that they had generated in an electrochemical cell energy of a magnitude explainable only by a nuclear and not chemical process. Disbelievers, especially physicists, pooh-poohed the claim, on the basis of first principles and also a few very hurried experiments that could not match what Fleischmann and Pons had developed over the course of years.

Science pundits and groupies, very much including the self-styled “Skeptics” groups, accepted the statements of the physicists as authoritative, and “cold fusion” became as synonymous with proven pseudo-science as astrology, Loch Ness monsters, pyramid power, etc.

Soon there were no research funds from mainstream sources to examine rigorously the claims of Fleischmann and Pons, but dozens and later hundreds of scientists continued to look into the claims with whatever resources they could muster. Reproducibility improved, theoretically plausible explanations were proposed, international conferences were held, but the mainstream continued to dismiss “cold fusion” as disproved.

So I was astonished, as well as pleasantly surprised, to see Martin Fleischmann being asked, last night on “60 Minutes”, how he felt about having his claim vindicated at last: 

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/04/17/60minutes/main4952167.shtml

“60 Minutes” had persuaded an independent expert to actually examine in detail ongoing experiments in Israel, and he was convinced that there was a source of energy being tapped that exceeded in magnitude what could be explained by chemical processes. He had been among the mainstream pooh-poohers in 1989.

*********************

So here’s another, contemporary, instance where the mainstream wrongly rejected the minority views of highly competent scientists. Fleischmann is as distinguished an electrochemist as Duesberg is a distinguished retrovirologist, but their admitted high achievements didn’t prevent the mainstream the pundits, the science groupies from denigrating them viciously.

If “60 Minutes” were able to persuade an independent biologist — biostatistician or epidemiologist, say — to actually look at the data on positive “HIV” tests, then Duesberg too would be pronounced as finally vindicated.

The mainstream experts refused to look through Galileo’s telescope. They refused to look through the microscope at the bacteria that cause ulcers. They long refused to look at the “cold fusion” experiments. And they continue to refuse to look at what HIV Skeptics and AIDS Rethinkers say, and persistently refuse even to produce the publications that they claim to know about that prove HIV to be the cause of AIDS.

The mainstream Defenders of the HIV/AIDS Faith are the real “denialists” — they are in denial that their Emperor has no clothes.

Posted in experts, prejudice, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , , | 15 Comments »