Comments on Censorship
Comments on censorship
Lord Martin Rees, Professor Martin Rees, Sir Michael Pepper FRS, Brian Josephson , Professor Howie FRS, Dr Neil McEwan, May Chiao
W I B Beveridge, "The Art of Scientific Investigation", pub. Mercury 1961.
In 1847 Semmelweis got the idea that the disease [puerperal fever] was carried to the women on the hands of the medical teachers and students coming direct from the post-mortem room. To destroy the "cadaveric material" on the hands he instituted a strict routine of washing hands in a solution of chlorinated lime before the examination of the patients. As a result of this procedure, the mortality from puerperal fever in the first obstetric clinic of Vienna fell immediately from 12% to 3%, and later almost to 1%. .... opposition from entrenched authority .... Frustration made him bitter and irascible .... finally he came to a tragic end in a lunatic asylum ....
The work of others, especially Tarnier and Pasteur om France and Lister in England, forced the world reluctantly to recognise, some ten years or more later, that what Semmelweis had taught was correct.
by David Crowe, Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society
published in Alive Magazine, November 2003, published with permission of the Author.
It is a modern cliché that we live in an ‘Information Society’. We drown in data, but scientific discussions that threaten vested interests are lost at sea and scientists who insist on studying controversial theories are cast adrift.
One esteemed scientist turned pariah because he refused to stop questioning a dogma (that HIV causes AIDS) is Dr. Peter Duesberg. He once was considered a top retrovirologist, the first to isolate a cancer gene, California Scientist of the Year in 1971 and recipient of an Outstanding Investigator Award from the US National Institutes of Health in 19861 . For 25 years he had every grant application approved.
That ended in 1987 when he published a paper providing extensive evidence that HIV could not cause disease2 . Since then he has had 0 of 23 government grants approved for research in AIDS and cancer and great difficulty getting his work published.
Duesberg’s mirror image is Robert Gallo, widely revered as a co-discoverer of HIV, yet with an entire book devoted to documenting his shoddy and corrupt science3 . The scientific establishment shuns Duesberg and his ideas, yet treats Gallo’s questionable work as the foundation of a multi-billion dollar research program.
Another researcher who suffered for his integrity was Erdem Cantekin who published data indicating that antibiotics were not effective for ear infections without permission from the lead researcher, Charles Bluestone, who was cozy with antibiotic manufacturers4 . The issue became not the validity of the data, but whether the lead researcher could control if, when and how it would be published. After a long legal battle Cantekin ended up shunned by his peers, broke and with his career destroyed.
Mark Purdey5 , the man who first questioned the infectious theory of Mad Cow disease (BSE)6 is an outsider, an organic farmer turned scientist. The massive British BSE report7 grudgingly admitted that the use of organophosphate pesticides could be a co-factor, but that the connection claimed by Purdey was unproven. Conveniently, funding to test the hypothesis has been difficult to obtain. Only the persistence of Purdey and his supporters has allowed a small research program to proceed and show that the theory is tenable .8
For ideas to be censored the mainstream media must also be silent. Mainstream scientists and public health organizations often characterize certain ideas (and open discussion of them) as ‘dangerous’ or ‘junk science’ and usually refuse to debate them in public.9
Paul Connett of the Fluoride Action Network has experienced shunning many times. This college chemistry professor has traveled the world offering to debate experts on the safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation. Only on two occasions has he had his offer accepted, and even then they refused to debate important issues like safety .10 Without both sides of an issue being presented, the media often decide that there is no story.
Scientists are fatally proud of their reliance on peer-review to ensure that only good science gets funded and published. Yet it has been shown that peer review does not increase the quality of studies11,12 and because the anonymous reviewers generally represent established ideas it is an effective way to suppress innovation 13,14 .
Censorship is most effective when the censor’s hand is invisible. Modern science has developed an effective hierarchy for disseminating ‘acceptable’ information and, perhaps more importantly, for excluding work that threatens mainstream scientists and the governments and industries that fund them. Luckily, there are still publications and websites outside this web of self-censorship. You should take advantage of this information, use it to formulate your own opinions, and discuss them with friends, family and colleagues. Small donations of your time and money can make a tremendous difference to the world’s excluded scientists.
David Crowe is a Calgary based environmentalist and analyst of the scientific justification for modern medicine. He has an HBSc in Biology and Mathematics. He can be reached at David.Crowe@aras.ab.ca.
1. Duesberg Website (Biographical sketch)
2. Duesberg PH. Retroviruses as Carcinogens and Pathogens: Expectations and Reality. Cancer Res. 1987 Mar 1; 47: 1199-1220.
3. Crewdson J. Science fictions: A scientific mystery, a massive cover-up, and the dark legacy of Robert Gallo. Little, Brown. 2002.
4. Crossen C. A medical researcher pays for doubting industry claim. WSJ. 2001 Jan 3.
6. Crowe D. Mad cows or mad scientists? Alive. 2001 Jun.
7. BSE inquiry report. MAFF. 2000 Oct.
8. Brown DR. BSE did not cause variant CJD: an alternative cause related to post-industrial environmental contamination. Med Hypoth. 2001 Nov; 57(5): 555-60.
9. Duesberg PH. Inventing the AIDS Virus. Regnery. 1996.
10. IFIN Bulletins.
11. Editorial peer review for improving the quality of reports of biomedical studies. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003.
12. Rothwell PM et al. Reproducibility of peer review in clinical neuroscience - is agreement between reviewers any greater than would be expected by chance alone? Brain. 2000; 123: 1964-9.
13. Horrobin DF. Peer review of grant applications: a harbinger for mediocrity in clinical research? Lancet. 1996; 348(9037): 1293-5.
14. Horrobin DF. The philosophical basis of peer review and the suppression of innovation. JAMA. 1990; 263(10): 1438-41.