HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘Ernest Gellner’

Kalichman disrespects Bauer; Bauer blows his own trumpet — Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #11

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/05/31

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping statement Kalichman makes about me, because it’s so easily shown to be utterly false, is that “Bauer has never done any scientific research” (p. 71, similar on pp. 72 and 182-3).

I had initially presumed — incorrectly, apparently — that Kalichman had read my book before criticizing what he claims to find in it. As it turns out, he places in quotation marks things I never said or wrote, and attributes to my book a “single-study fallacy” in making a comparison between HIV and AIDS that I never made (Kalichman re-writes Bauer’s book — Kalichman’s disgracefully un-Komical Kaper #10).  As to my record of scientific research see p. 7, in my Preface:

“After two decades of teaching chemistry, carrying out research specifically in electrochemistry, I joined the fledgling field of ‘science studies,’ or ‘science and technology studies,’ which was emerging in the 1970s as an interdisciplinary venture among engineers, scientists, historians of science, sociologists of science, philosophers of science, political scientists, and others” [emphasis added].

Not only is it stated plainly there; had Kalichman wanted to know about my professional doings, nothing prevented him from getting a copy of my vita. It’s not a confidential document, I’ve often sent out various versions of it when acting as consultant or dissertation evaluator or reviewer of credentials or when invited to give a talk somewhere. Kalichman describes having visited with Duesberg, so why would he not make direct contact with me and get accurate information? For some reason, while he was writing the book, Kalichman was trying to keep his identity and doings hidden from me, presenting himself as “Joe Newton” (Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll-Kalichman and Mr. Hyde-Newton — Chapter 1, 4 April 2009; How not to create a persona: Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #4, 29 March 2009; Introducing Seth Kalichman (Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #1), 8 March 2009); but he could have had “Joe”, or Kalichman’s actual graduate student Lisa Eaton, ask for my c.v.;  say, on the pretense that they wanted to arrange a talk for me under the auspices of a graduate-student group.

At any rate, I remain frankly and utterly without a good explanation for this blatantly false assertion by Kalichman; although, I confess, I’ve come to think that Kalichman is wont to just make up stuff, or perhaps to rely on a very faulty memory, or to “see” what he wishes to see rather than what’s actually there. At the end of this post, I’ll list a few details of my scientific research. I won’t count my scholarly work in Science Studies as scientific research, despite the fact that some of it is original and that I’ve published a respectable amount in that genre (half-a-dozen books, a few book chapters, a dozen or more articles). However, like most people, I think Science Studies is a social science and not a “hard” science. But surely no one would deny that research in electrochemistry is scientific research; or would they?

In an earlier post (“Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #2: The Social Psychology of Scientists”, 14 March 2009), I noted that Kalichman, a social psychologist, does regard himself generically as a scientist. Could it be, I wonder, that he overlooked my electrochemical research in a sort of Freudian slip prompted by subconscious jealousy? There is, after all, the well-recognized phenomenon of “physics envy” on the part of some social scientists who are jealous of the status that “hard” sciences like physics and chemistry have and that the “soft” social sciences don’t. The latter are “multi-paradigmatic”, a euphemism for the fact that there is no discipline-wide paradigm subscribed to by all; rather, there are differing schools of thought about fundamental issues. In psychology, for example, there is the inescapable problem of mind-body, or mind-brain interactions, where some take a materialistic view and others don’t. There is no universally-agreed-to governing paradigm on which to base explanations, and there are sometimes even differences over methods and over the validity of “facts” within any given field in social science. By contrast, chemistry, physics, and the other “hard” sciences are able to call on a structure of fundamental theory with associated explanatory powers that is shared among all researchers (in between the occasional scientific revolutions, that is). Since the social sciences cannot erect or sustain for any length of time a firm body of theory to which all practitioners pay obeisance, “physics envy” even has substantive grounds — sort of.  For discussion of differences between “hard” and “social” sciences, and for pointing out how wrong-headed it is to try to model the social sciences on the hard sciences, see for example Jock Abra, Should Psychology be a Science? (1998); Stanislav Andreski, Social Sciences as Sorcery (1972); Ernest Gellner, “The scientific status of the social sciences”, International Social Science Journal, XXXVI (1984): 567 586; Alexander Rosenberg, Philosophy of Social Science (1988; revised 2nd. ed., 1995).

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This may be flippancy plus a bit of sarcasm at Kalichman’s expense, but it’s also more than that. The psychology of intellectual activity is an integral part of science studies. One cannot understand what happens in scientific or scholarly activity without recognizing roles played by biases, conflicts of interest, and the like, which do express themselves in phenomena like physics envy.

On a personal note, I’ve also had a long interest in matters psychological. I grew up in an environment where Freudian ideas were common parlance, in part perhaps because my paternal grandmother had once been governess to Sigmund Freud’s children — my father was named after one of Freud’s sons, the family stayed in intermittent touch with Anna Freud, and I even got to shake the old man’s hand in London when we were on our way to Australia. I still find enlightening much of what Freud wrote about slips of the tongue and the interpretation of dreams, and I think his views about early childhood influences made it seem reasonable to me that homosexuality might be a psychologically determined or fostered condition — a view that Kalichman calls “homophobia”, though he acknowledges (p. 183) that I’ve claimed to be recovering from it.

At any rate, “physics envy” is a phenomenon that can be discerned in those schools of thought in the social sciences that  believe they can only be “scientific” by being mathematical, reproducible, as much like physics as possible; which to my mind is an aberration, since every field of study has to develop methods and general approaches suited to the particular subject matter being investigated.

Back to the matter of Kalichman’s assertion that I’ve never done scientific research. My full c.v. is available here. While I was still teaching (to the end of 1999) I had to keep it up-to-date, and I still add articles and books as they are published. Some of the highlights as to scientific research are these:
I published or co-published in electrochemistry 85 research articles, 12 reviews of specific research topics, and a research monograph. I was research mentor to 15 graduate students, 4 of them doctoral. Two of the latter are full professors with distinguished research records of their own. I received research grants from a number of sources including the National Science Foundation. In 1969 I was the principal investigator on a Themis Project grant that ran for 6 years and was worth $200,000 in the first year alone, which 40 years ago was notable. I was listed in American Men & Women of Science as of 1971; was Visiting Professor, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 1974; received University of Kentucky Research Foundation Award, 1974; invited Sydney S. Negus Memorial Lecturer, Virginia Academy of Science, 1984.
And so on; I participated in the usual array of workshops, conferences, invited seminars, etc.

I remain astounded, uncomprehending, why Kalichman would make the plain statement that I’ve never done scientific research, and I can’t find a good excuse for his statement. As Tony Lance pointed out, you just have to Google my name and “electrochemistry” to find a couple of hundred citations of my research.

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🙂  At several places in Appendix B of “Denying AIDS”, Kalichman’s potted bios of “denialists”, he seems to make positive statements about some of us, no doubt to underscore the evenhandedness and objectivity that is “by nature and training” an attribute of scientists, of whom he is one. Thus he cites one of my colleagues (not named, of course) to the effect that I was “an able administrator and dean”. But was that intended as a compliment or as another snide disparagement? Researchers in the hard sciences typically grant little respect to administrators. There’s the saying, after all, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; and the rest go into administration”. Indeed, when I asked people to serve as references in my applications for administrative jobs, one of my most revered mentors expressed horror and the hope that, for my own good, I would remain a researcher.  🙂

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