HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘Elsevier’

Elsevier strikes again: Predator or merely parasite?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2015/05/04

According to the doubtfully reliable Wikipedia, “Elsevier B.V. . . . is an academic publishing company that publishes medical and scientific literature. It is a part of the Reed Elsevier group” which is “an Anglo-Dutch multinational publishing and information company co-headquartered in London, United Kingdom and Amsterdam, Netherlands. It operates in the science, medical, legal, risk, marketing, financial, and business sectors”.

Actually, Elsevier is strictly in the business of making money, not of providing information, and its activities have included MISinforming or DISinforming, as illustrated by these actions:

⇒ Elsevier put out a number of medical-company advertisements masquerading as professional medical journals — “Elsevier published 6 fake journals”; “Merck published fake journal”.

⇒ Elsevier took over and soon destroyed Medical Hypotheses, after having withdrawn an article that corrected a published error: It was claimed that there had been 300,00 AIDS deaths per year in South Africa, whereas the official count was reported by Statistics South Africa as about 15,000 — “Censored by Elsevier”; “Public Health Service of Italy accepts work of Ruggiero et al.”; Chapter 3 in Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth (McFarland 2012).

⇒ Now Elsevier is in the process of doing its destructive work on the Medical Journal of Australia: “Editor of Medical Journal of Australia fired after criticizing decision to outsource to Elsevier”.

The decision-makers at the company that controls the Medical Journal of Australia do not understand — as the Journal’s now-fired editor does —that the such “technical” matters as the procedures by which articles are submitted, the “infrastructure”, is inseparable from editorial matters. It determines how the Journal presents itself to prospective authors.
My own experience of publishing in an Elsevier journal can best be described as intense frustration at unnecessary complications: creating accounts, navigating ambiguous web pages, filling out numerous forms, putting up with inept computerese — all these only because Elsevier is so anxious to make profits, charging exorbitantly for reprints and requiring authors to pledge not to make copies of their own work available freely to others. Elsevier, not the author of an article, takes the copyright to articles in the journals it publishes. It does not forbid authors from sharing PREprints with the rest of the scientific community, but “Preprints should not be added to or enhanced in any way in order to appear more like, or to substitute for, the final versions of articles”, so that prospective readers will need to access articles via libraries that subscribe — at exorbitant rates — to Elsevier publications, or via reprints supplied to authors at outlandishly exorbitant charges: the article I published runs to 5 pages, and reprints would have cost me $220 for 100 (minimum order), decreasing per copy to $400 for 400 — for the economy version without covers; the deluxe off-prints with covers would have cost $430 for the minimum 100 (but less per copy for more, e.g. “only” $925 for 400). As everyone knows, once something has been printed, there is negligible marginal cost in running off any number of extra copies.

⇒ The exorbitant charges that bring Elsevier extraordinary profit margin led mathematicians to organize a boycott of Elsevier journals: “Why are we boycotting Elsevier?”; “Mathematicians organize boycott of a publisher”; “Scientists sign petition to boycott academic publisher Elsevier”; “Why Elsevier?”;  “The Elsevier boycott one year on”.
In 2010, on revenues of ~$3.2 billion, Elsevier’s profit was 36% (“Why scientists are boycotting a publisher”, Boston Globe, February 2012). Such a profit margin will make jealous even the racketeering Rx-drug industry (Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare by Peter C. Gøtzsche).

⇒ The possibility of cheap online publishing has brought an explosion of hundreds if not thousands of “journals” that librarian Jeffrey Beall has described as “predatory” since they offer nothing but opportunity for anyone to get published in “academic journals” if they can pay for it.
Beall’s survey of predatory publishers lists 693 in 2015, up from 18 in 2011, 23 in 2012, 225 in 2013, and 477 in 2014.
Is Elsevier not also predatory in the same way? It too offers authors online “open access” publishing for supposed more and quicker exposure, for a price: “Fees range between $500 and $5,000 US Dollars depending on the journal”.
And Elsevier too is responsible for the explosive growth in numbers of journals. In 1991, Elsevier took over the prestigious British journal THE LANCET. But prestige alone evidently doesn’t bring in enough money, so Elsevier has traded on The Lancet brand to proliferate publications: The Lancet Oncology since 2000, The Lancet Infectious Diseases since 2001, The Lancet Neurology since 2002; in 2013 were added The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, The Lancet Global Health, and The Lancet Respiratory Medicine; in 2014, The Lancet HIV.

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€L$€VI€R and the NEW “Medical Hypotheses”

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/08/21

A brief recapitulation:
Chigwedere et al. (2008) claimed there had been 300,000 unnecessary AIDS deaths in South Africa because, at instigation of Peter Duesberg and others, President Mbeki withheld life-saving antiretroviral drugs. That relied on UNAIDS estimates of AIDS deaths which are 25 times as great as the official South Africa Statistics numbers, as well as making all sorts of assumptions including about the efficacy of the drugs.
JAIDS (Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes), which had published this, refused to allow Duesberg to publish a response, citing a single reviewer’s comments that did not address the central issue of that factor of 25, indulging instead in ad hominem remarks and making the astounding assertion that AZT is a beneficial non-toxic antiretroviral treatment.

Subsequently Duesberg et al. published the response in Medical Hypotheses.

Medical Hypotheses is published by €L$€VI€R, whose Vice-President Glen Campbell withdrew that response after it was already in-press and published-on-line — within 4 days of receiving a protest and without consulting the journal’s editor, its editorial board, or the authors of the article.
At the same time, Campbell withdrew an article by Ruggiero et al. (corresponding author, S. Pacini) which noted that official documents and procedures of the Italian Ministry of Health did not treat HIV as a dangerous, communicalbe disease or as the necessary cause of AIDS.
€L$€VI€R then took months over “investigations” or “reviews” of the withdrawal of those article, all carried out anonymously and in secret, culminating in having the articles reviewed by 5 anonymous individuals, who unanimously agreed that the articles should be rejected — albeit on very different grounds. Whereas the Duesberg article continued to be described as a threat to global public health and perhaps libellous, the Ruggiero article was criticized primarily for its presentation, in reviews that need to be read to appreciate their vacuity and self-contradictions, for example:
— Reviewer 1, “Statistical Reviewer”, actually finds nothing substantively wrong . . . . “There was virtually no statistical reasoning in the paper . . . . no question a Reject from the statistical/methodological perspective”.
— Reviewer 5: “My first and main remark about this paper is that I do not understand it”.
— Several reviewers asserted that the authors, whose native tongue is Italian, had misunderstood the Ministry documents through relying on their own translation into English of the original Italian documents.
Given the lack of any serious or substantive criticism, Ruggiero et al. revised their article, improved its presentation by engaging the services of a native speaker of English who is also a professional writer, and re-submitted it.
The editor, Bruce Charlton, found the revisions acceptable and scheduled the article for publication.
However:

19 April 2010, e-mail, Charlton to Ruggiero:
I have accepted your paper for publication; but instead of being put into production as it should have been — the paper has — according to a note on EES [Elsevier Editing System] — been held for approval by the manager called Tanya Wheatley — t.wheatley@elsevier.com.
So officially, the paper is accepted for publication.
But over the weekend I discovered that Elsevier have been doing this interception with all my accepted papers over the past few days — but without informing me that this was happening.
However, since I had already, in good faith, informed you that the paper was accepted for publication and you accepted this decision in good faith — your article is officially “in the press” for Medical Hypotheses.
If Elsevier’s managers reverse this decision they would be doing so without my consent.

On 29th April, Wheatley informed Ruggiero and Pacini that “to maintain consistency” with the earlier withdrawals, the revised article was being sent “for external review” (e-mail to Ruggiero, cc. Pacini, from Tanya Wheatley, Publisher, Global Medical Research).

Two months later:
“You are probably aware that we have just announced the appointment of a new Editor-in-Chief of Medical Hypotheses. The new Editor will be reviewing your paper as a priority and I will let you know as soon as he has made a decision.” (E-mail, Wheatley to Ruggiero, 29 June)

The final decision came two weeks later from the new Editor:
“From: ‘Medical Hypotheses’ <medicalhypotheses@elsevier.com>
To: <stefania.pacini@unifi.it>
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 3:20 PM
Subject: Your Submission YMEHY-D-10-00543
Ref.:  Ms. No. YMEHY-D-10-00543
ON THE RISK OF IMPERFECT AIDS DEFINITIONS AND POLICIES AT THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Medical Hypotheses
Dear Doctor Pacini, [the corresponding author on Ruggiero et al.]
Reviewers’ comments on your work have now been received.  You will see that they are advising against publication of your work.  Therefore I must reject it.
For your guidance, I append the reviewers’ comments below.
Your manuscript is not suitable for publication in Medical Hypotheses. The arguments are more or less direct to “the Italian Ministry of Health” and you conclude that they i.e  Italian Ministry of Health “seems to be unaware of the existence of an AIDS skeptics movement that could interpret its policies, guidelines, definitions and data as if they supported the thesis that HIV is not the cause of AIDS”
I would NOT like Medical Hypotheses to be channelled as media to discuss polices of Italian Ministry of Health. You should use other means available to you. I would like to keep clear of such topics. I am sorry to have to reject your paper.
Many thanks
Editor
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work.
Yours sincerely
Dr. M. Manku PhD
Editor in Chief
Medical Hypotheses”

COMMENTS:
The external review to be made for consistency appears to have reverted to editorial review.
The new editor should engage a professional writer who is a native English-speaker to edit his e-mails.
Reviewer 5 should be asked whether he understands this e-mail, in particular which in it are the “reviewers’ comments below” and which are the editor’s own, given that “reviewers’” means more than one and that the second paragraph is in the first person.

MORE SERIOUS COMMENTS:
1. Note that the reason for rejection is quite a new one, one that was not given for the earlier rejection.
2. €L$€VI€R’s new editor for Medical Hypotheses wishes “not to get into controversial subjects” but will “publish radical new ideas”. Is it necessary to point out that this is oxymoronic?
3. The National Library of Medicine, which received the same protestations as had €L$€VI€R, found no reason to uphold the protest. The difference may be that the National Library of Medicine is a not-for-profit organization whereas €L$€VI€R puts profits first, as illustrated by
deceptively publishing as scientific journals half-a-dozen periodicals that were actually propaganda paid for by pharmaceutical companies.
— The  €L$€VI€R peer-reviewed journal Urology was paid by GlaxoSmithKline to publish a “special supplement” whose development — choice of authors and content — had been helped along by GlaxoSmithKline and which featured favorably the GlaxoSmithKline drug, Avodart. It was executives at the drug company, not at €L$€VI€R, who had second thoughts and revealed the deception and apologized for it;
— the €L$€VI€R peer-reviewed journal Clinical Therapeutics offered fast publication to academics at a cost of $500 per printed page, a significant multiple of the more typical page charges (Reviewer 3, https://hivskeptic.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/mehy-reviews-of-duesberg-et-al.pdf).
—  €L$€VI€R also offered gifts to those who would write on amazon.com 5-star reviews of €L$€VI€R-published textbooks.
4. The substantive points in the articles withdrawn by €L$€VI€R are now published in the mainstream, peer-reviewed Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology which is abstracted by the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed:
Ruggiero, M., M. P. Galletti, S. Pacini, T. Punzi, G. Morucci, and M. Gulisano. 2009b. “On the risk of contracting AIDS at the dissection table.” Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, 114: 97-108; PMID: 20198822 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE].
Galletti, Matteo Prayer, and Henry H. Bauer. 2009. “Safety issues in didactic anatomical dissection in regions of high HIV prevalence.” Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, 114: 179-92; PMID: 20578674 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE].

Posted in antiretroviral drugs, HIV skepticism, HIV/AIDS numbers, Legal aspects, prejudice | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Left hand, right hand — Elsevier remains ignorant about science

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/06/25

Peer reviewers base their judgment on what they (believe they) know. People are asked to serve as peer reviewers because they have achieved solidly within the framework of the contemporary consensus. Peer review always favors the status quo and rejects the most promising novelties (examples galore in Bernard Barber, Resistance by scientists to scientific discovery, Science, 134 [1961] 596–602).

David Horrobin founded Medical Hypotheses to publish interesting novelties that could not pass peer review.

Elsevier fired Editor Bruce Charlton for publishing what could not pass “peer” review because those “peers” are dogmatists of HIV/AIDS theory.

Now Elsevier has issued the non-sequitur, oxymoronic announcement that it is going to maintain Horrobin’s vision by instituting peer review at Medical Hypotheses under a new editor.

It would be laughable, were it not so tragic, with tragic consequences for untold numbers of human beings, that so much of what passes for science, medical science, scientific publication, and science punditry is similarly lacking the most fundamental understanding of the character of everything to do with research, publication, and scientific activity in general.

New editor for Medical Hypotheses
. . .
First, we will retain the ethos, heritage and unique characteristics of the journal as they were proposed at inception, . . . . Second, we will engage a medically qualified editorial board to get members more involved in the review system to help ensure radical new ideas and speculations in medicine are given open-minded consideration while ensuring scientific merit.”

However, “most of the board planned to resign in response to Elsevier’s changes to the journal”: because they understand that “open-minded consideration” and “ensuring scientific merit” constitute an oxymoron when the judgment of scientific merit is to be made by people whose views are based on the prevailing mainstream consensus. And when the judgment is not based on that, then articles will be published like those withdrawn by Elsevier in response to protests from upholders of the mainstream consensus.

The new editor simply cannot do what he pledges to do, no matter how much he may imagine that he can. It’s just another case of imagining that “Saying so, makes it so”.

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

Not only Elsevier or its new editor don’t understand science, of course. Neither do the editors of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences nor the authors of an article just published in that august periodical. It reports “research” finding that “Those who  believe  in  anthropogenic  climate  change  rank, on average, much higher in the scientific pecking order than do those who take issue with the idea” (“Critics are far less prominent than supporters”, Eli Kintisch, Science 328: 1622).
Aha! How extraordinary! Another of those rare cases of dog bites man; or of the finding that friends are friendlier toward each other than they are toward their opponents.

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Ignoramuses at Elsevier and their Ignorant Advisers

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/04/10

Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens
(Even the gods are helpless in the face of stupidity)
—– Friedrich Schiller

Laughter would be as fitting as tears over Elsevier’s contortions in setting out to destroy the raison d’être of Medical Hypotheses without admitting to it. These people who control much scientific publishing have not the slightest understanding of the nature of science and how it progresses or regresses. What they do understand is that their profits depend on a cozy relationship with the powers that be, hence they act as shills for drug companies by publishing fake “medical” journals [“Elsevier published 6 fake journals”].  But publishing anything that questions the prevailing orthodoxy is taboo when it offends mainstream Pooh-Bahs.

Why did David Horrobin found the journal Medical Hypotheses? Why has its value been attested by innumerable people — many established scientists who could not have their best ideas published elsewhere, bystanders sending comments on stories about Elsevier-Gate, members of the Editorial Board, and others?

Anyone with even the most superficial acquaintance with the history of science and the work of philosophers and sociologists of science recognizes as axiomatic that peer review is inevitably informed by the prevailing paradigm. In other words, research proposals and manuscripts for publication are judged for their plausibility on the basis of what is already supposed to be known. Anything that doesn’t question the contemporary consensus sails through the process, even as it may never be found worthy of citation by others (most published scientific articles are never cited, except by their own authors). Anything that contradicts what the prevailing consensus imagines to be true is likely to be rejected.

In hindsight, but only in hindsight, universally lauded are the ideas that overturned a prevailing consensus.

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

Human knowledge and human lack of knowledge have been nicely described as
1.  the known (= thought to be known);
2.  the known unknown:  Gaps in what’s thought to be known, and presumed to exist — so long as what’s thought to be known really is known;
3.  the unknown unknown, from which serendipity occasionally releases intellectual lightning strikes of immense significance for the expansion of human understanding.

Peer review serves to guard against the publication of such intellectual lighting strikes, embryonic scientific revolutions.

In that light, consider the absurdity of Elsevier’s attempted justification for its intended changes for Medical Hypotheses:

The proposed new arrangement should ensure “that potentially controversial articles receive especially careful review”! . . .  “reviewers would only judge the ‘premise, originality, and plausibility’ of hypotheses submitted”! (“May deadline set for controversial journal’s Editor”, Martin Enserink, 1 April 2010)

Perhaps it was a subtle message, that the reporting these idiocies emanating from Elsevier occurred on April Fool’s Day. Peer review finds objectionable precisely anything that questions the status quo because it judged such hypotheses not only implausible but beyond the pale, wrong.

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

Serendipity brings things to hand not only out of the unknown unknown. A long-delayed culling of my file cabinets turned up this just as I was composing this blog post:

“Disbelief greeted classics in top U.K. medical journals” [Bernard Dixon, The Scientist, 17 April 1989].
“Truly innovative science is often — perhaps usually — accompanied by skepticism, dismissal, and/or disdain from the ranks of established expertise. That proposition receives surprisingly strong support from a study of the top-ranking papers from Britain’s premier medical journals. . . . No less than four of the six papers most cited from The Lancet and the British Medical Journal during the years 1955-1988 record ideas that were initially rejected or disbelieved.”
The examples include:
— Marina Seabright’s discovery of stripes or bands in certain chromosome preparations, dismissed for four years; but then it became the most referenced report in The Lancet between 1955 and 1988 (2,643 citations).
— George Miller’s finding of an association between high-density lipoprotein and atherosclerosis.
— Martin Skirrow’s recognition of Campylobacter as responsible for more cases of food poisoning than Salmonella.
— Alice Stewart’s study of lymphatic leukemia leading to discoveries of the fetal origins of all childhood cancers and an understanding of the role of cancers of the immune system in other diseases.

Perhaps worth noting as well is that 50% of these wrongly rejected breakthroughs were made by women. Given that women have been historically greatly underrepresented in the ranks of scientists, this adds at least anecdotal evidence for Bernard Barber’s generalization that low status of the proponents is among the reasons why the Establishment pooh-poohs a given novelty.

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