What is the responsibility of the Scientist and of the discipline of Science"


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Folks:

I love the scientific professions. I was being equally pulled towards research science and law/politics in my teen years.

What has clearly, according to even a cursory reading of the e-mails that have been exposed to the public, emerged is that the entire peer review process has been totally corrupted.

The following links describe Peter Duesberg, who is an accomplished scientist being sent into oblivion because of his theories on AIDS and its possible cause.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Duesberg

http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/324.html

The second link has two videos. The CDC and the NIH are apparently military in nature? This comes as a complete surprise to me. Does anyone know the facts here?

Tony:

Also, it appears that Deusberg, advised the South African government on a new approach to AIDS...?

What are the responsibilities of the scientist?

What is "the field of science" today?

What data from the NIH or the CDC can be trusted at this point in time?

Adam

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I see two problems with Duesberg's HIV theory right off the bat. First, he claims that HIV could not kill its victims in so short a time because such a retrovirus could not survive to be passed on. My understanding is that HIV came from a different species than humans, and in that other species (some monkey) the virus is not as fast at killing (if it kills at all), and child-bearing occurs far more early in age for this species. Second, if anti-retroviral drugs are the cause of AIDS, I would like to understand why the increase in anti-retroviral drugs has increased lifespans.

What absolute garbage overall! Don't let me contradict Duesberg's freedom of speech, that's ok. But I reserve my right to hold an opinion against such ludicrous claims.

Regarding the videos, the credibility of the source is already in doubt considering the connection with Duesberg. Of course I have no problem with the reality that government is hierarchical. I have posted questions before asking whether government organizations have really been run successfully otherwise. Businesses used to be completely hierarchical, but there was always room for good innovation (if not quite as good as we get w/o hierarchy). So this argument against hierarchical "military" government structure is true, but to such a lesser degree than I feel is being represented. An "A" is a better grade than a "B+," but B+ is still not an "F." I think it's dishonest to portray it as such.

As for anti-retroviral drugs, yes they are poisonous to humans. Anti-retroviral drugs are poisonous to life, and medical organizations prescribe them because the human can withstand it better than the virus. The same thing occurs with antibacterial soap... it's not healthy for life, but the effects are a lot stronger on little bacteria versus big humans.

I'm no government-lover, and I'm sure there are times when drugs are prescribed under circumstances where they should not be prescribed, but this radical vision presented by the videos is too radical for me. Even so, thanks for sharing. Always nice to listen to other opinions from various sources.

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I see two problems with Duesberg's HIV theory right off the bat. First, he claims that HIV could not kill its victims in so short a time because such a retrovirus could not survive to be passed on. My understanding is that HIV came from a different species than humans, and in that other species (some monkey) the virus is not as fast at killing (if it kills at all), and child-bearing occurs far more early in age for this species. Second, if anti-retroviral drugs are the cause of AIDS, I would like to understand why the increase in anti-retroviral drugs has increased lifespans.

What absolute garbage overall! Don't let me contradict Duesberg's freedom of speech, that's ok. But I reserve my right to hold an opinion against such ludicrous claims.

Regarding the videos, the credibility of the source is already in doubt considering the connection with Duesberg. Of course I have no problem with the reality that government is hierarchical. I have posted questions before asking whether government organizations have really been run successfully otherwise. Businesses used to be completely hierarchical, but there was always room for good innovation (if not quite as good as we get w/o hierarchy). So this argument against hierarchical "military" government structure is true, but to such a lesser degree than I feel is being represented. An "A" is a better grade than a "B+," but B+ is still not an "F." I think it's dishonest to portray it as such.

As for anti-retroviral drugs, yes they are poisonous to humans. Anti-retroviral drugs are poisonous to life, and medical organizations prescribe them because the human can withstand it better than the virus. The same thing occurs with antibacterial soap... it's not healthy for life, but the effects are a lot stronger on little bacteria versus big humans.

I'm no government-lover, and I'm sure there are times when drugs are prescribed under circumstances where they should not be prescribed, but this radical vision presented by the videos is too radical for me. Even so, thanks for sharing. Always nice to listen to other opinions from various sources.

Chris:

As I said, I did not stay in the science field, so I am not up to snuff on a scientist of his "stature". I felt the entire spin in the videos was conspiratorial at best. However, thanks for the quick analysis of Duesberg. His claims did not register to me at all.

The broader question is what can we even check when the peer review process has been politicized?

Or, as I experienced in the '60's, the peer review process was completely political.

Has it always been?

And, will it always be if government is involved, or is it a function of power and money to control "science"?

Adam

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The responsibilities of the scientist are the same as the responsibilities of any person, to be logical, rational, honest, exhibit integrity, etc. Of course, these could be viewed as professional and not simply personal responsibilities for the scientist.

Duesberg sounds like a brilliant man that has, unfortunately, left the reservation, so to speak. I don't know whether he is certifiable, but it would probably be better for him if he were. Otherwise, it's hard to believe he's being honest and his views have apparently led to thousands of avoidable deaths in places like South Africa. That would make him culpable, unless he really does have a loose screw.

This brings us to the problem of doing research in a highly politicized atmosphere. Other scientists are right to shun Duesberg. There is ample evidence of the link between HIV and AIDS. But, consider the problem of global warming. Consider how some climate scientists have attempted to shun and marginalize global warming skeptics, even when the evidence for global warming is much less clear. They've prevented skeptics from having their papers published in peer reviewed journals, calling them crazy or dishonest. Of course, we now have evidence that some proponents of global warming were actually being dishonest, but, in a highly charged atmosphere the truth is sometimes lost.

In the normal course of scientific inquiry, where most scientists are not emotionally invested in a certain outcome, the process of science probably works pretty well. In such an atmosphere, scientists are generally honest about their results and reviewers are honest in their appraisals. But when deeply held biases and predispositions are at stake or when coming to the wrong conclusion can cost a scientist grant money, all bets are off when it comes to the integrity of the system.

Is there anything that can be done about it? Probably not. Scientists simply have to be called on the carpet when they're wrong or worse, when they lie, just like everyone else. And when the malfeasance is widespread, it's simply going to take time and effort to win the battle. But, usually, the truth will out in the long run.

Darrell

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Science has always been politicized to one degree or another, if only in the way that scientists needed to persuade rulers or members of the political elite to give them funding for their research or allow publication of their findings. It's not for nothing that the premier scientific group in England is the Royal Society.

But the stakes are much higher now, thanks both to the increased reach of government and the technological possibilities involved in modern science (not to mention the increased needs for funding: it costs a lot more to build a radio telescope than it cost Galileo to have a primitive telescope made for him).

As for the CDC--CDC is part of the campus of my undergraduate school, Emory. (It's linked to Emory's medical school.) I went there in the late '70s. Although I never had a reason to enter the CDC itself, I never saw nor heard a hint of military involvement with the CDC while I was there, nor have heard of anything that might be interpreted that way since I graduated. The closest link to the military I ever saw was a historical marker just down the street from the CDC buildings identifying one particular slope as a place where some Johnny Rebs shot at some advancing Yanks when Sherman was in the process of taking Atlanta.

Jeffrey S.

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Science has always been politicized to one degree or another, if only in the way that scientists needed to persuade rulers or members of the political elite to give them funding for their research or allow publication of their findings. It's not for nothing that the premier scientific group in England is the Royal Society.

But the stakes are much higher now, thanks both to the increased reach of government and the technological possibilities involved in modern science (not to mention the increased needs for funding: it costs a lot more to build a radio telescope than it cost Galileo to have a primitive telescope made for him).

As for the CDC--CDC is part of the campus of my undergraduate school, Emory. (It's linked to Emory's medical school.) I went there in the late '70s. Although I never had a reason to enter the CDC itself, I never saw nor heard a hint of military involvement with the CDC while I was there, nor have heard of anything that might be interpreted that way since I graduated. The closest link to the military I ever saw was a historical marker just down the street from the CDC buildings identifying one particular slope as a place where some Johnny Rebs shot at some advancing Yanks when Sherman was in the process of taking Atlanta.

Jeffrey S.

Thanks. I thought it made no sense that I would have missed that, but now I am going to check with a friend.

Adam

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These are all great considerations about how can we keep science "clean" of corruptive/political influence. Even in pure academia, there is still influence in that people are invested in their own work and so are slanted. Totally natural, and it takes professional integrity to be ruthlessly honest.

I agree that the peer-review process is a great way of monitoring the works of others. I'd like to understand more about the connection between peer-review and politics that you speak of Adam. My knowledge of peer-review extends through the university system. What I see as potential influences within that system are publicly-funded universities (receiving government aids/grants) or privately-funded universities with high-powered politically-connected chairs or donors.

I might argue that a good peer-review process is one that extends throughout all universities to all professors. We can't eliminate corruption completely, but it seems reasonable that we try to wash it out (dilute it).

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These are all great considerations about how can we keep science "clean" of corruptive/political influence. Even in pure academia, there is still influence in that people are invested in their own work and so are slanted. Totally natural, and it takes professional integrity to be ruthlessly honest.

I agree that the peer-review process is a great way of monitoring the works of others. I'd like to understand more about the connection between peer-review and politics that you speak of Adam. My knowledge of peer-review extends through the university system. What I see as potential influences within that system are publicly-funded universities (receiving government aids/grants) or privately-funded universities with high-powered politically-connected chairs or donors.

I might argue that a good peer-review process is one that extends throughout all universities to all professors. We can't eliminate corruption completely, but it seems reasonable that we try to wash it out (dilute it).

Certainly a good idea Christopher to make the peer-review process one that extends throughout all universities to all professors. We might even mirror one of the marxists pages and insist on a Civilian Review Board that would oversee the peer review process industry wide.

Adam

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Adam,

Dr. Duesberg was not sent into oblivion by his incorrect and grievous theory about AIDS. He had an article on another area, concerning his ideas on chromosomal chaos and cancer, in the May 2007 issue of Scientific American. There was good news yesterday, that South Africa has reversed and will be combating AIDS with antiviral medication.

When I saw Duesberg’s ideas being touted in the 90’s by libertarian publications such as Liberty and Full Context, I fired off personal letters to each of them. Bradford at Liberty followed up wonderfully with an article by an expert who refuted Duesberg’s claims. I was pretty sure that the interest of these publications in the Duesberg theory was to show wasteful government and to promote the cessation of governmental expense on AIDS. Meanwhile, I myself had AIDS (not just the HIV virus, but the condition), and Jerry, my lover of 22 years, had died of AIDS in 1990. Duesberg’s contentions that AIDS was caused by use of recreational drugs and so forth were particularly offensive. I never did that stuff. It was the virus. I took the antiviral medicines. My present partner and I were among the people rescued by these medications. Jerry was half Choctaw, and that genetic difference may have been part of the reason he went down so much faster than I. At any rate, the development of effective medications would take another six years, and he died in my arms when we were both 41 years old. Next summer I will return for sunrise, for the 20th time, to that place on the lake where we spread his ashes.

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The following links describe Peter Duesberg, who is an accomplished scientist being sent into oblivion because of his theories on AIDS and its possible cause.

http://en.wikipedia..../Peter_Duesberg

http://www.brasschec...m/page/324.html

Duesberg was wrong about HIV. It is the pathogen that produces AIDS. Duesberg also insisted that the special theory of relativity was incorrect and that the aether existed.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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As to the general question that I began this thread with, another warning was sounded.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to who said the following?

"Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. "In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present

  • and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society."

Adam

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Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

Which, ironically, is not all that unethical. Damn straight the people with money be allowed to conduct whatever research they want. The problem comes when it is in fact government money sponsoring special-interest projects, or when an institution attempts to display their results as rigorous and unbiased (when the truth is otherwise).

I seem to remember there was a time when research said tobacco didn't cause cancer. Nothing wrong with this statement so long as we know the source and can accurately judge its credibility (tthhhbbbwwwtt!) :P

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Adam,

Dr. Duesberg was not sent into oblivion by his incorrect and grievous theory about AIDS. He had an article on another area, concerning his ideas on chromosomal chaos and cancer, in the May 2007 issue of Scientific American. There was good news yesterday, that South Africa has reversed and will be combating AIDS with antiviral medication.

When I saw Duesberg’s ideas being touted in the 90’s by libertarian publications such as Liberty and Full Context, I fired off personal letters to each of them. Bradford at Liberty followed up wonderfully with an article by an expert who refuted Duesberg’s claims. I was pretty sure that the interest of these publications in the Duesberg theory was to show wasteful government and to promote the cessation of governmental expense on AIDS. Meanwhile, I myself had AIDS (not just the HIV virus, but the condition), and Jerry, my lover of 22 years, had died of AIDS in 1990. Duesberg’s contentions that AIDS was caused by use of recreational drugs and so forth were particularly offensive. I never did that stuff. It was the virus. I took the antiviral medicines. My present partner and I were among the people rescued by these medications. Jerry was half Choctaw, and that genetic difference may have been part of the reason he went down so much faster than I. At any rate, the development of effective medications would take another six years, and he died in my arms when we were both 41 years old. Next summer I will return for sunrise, for the 20th time, to that place on the lake where we spread his ashes.

It is good that your voice was not silenced during that period. Sometimes it is indeed better to hear from the people who experienced the truth rather than from people who merely toy with ideas about truth.

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Which, ironically, is not all that unethical. Damn straight the people with money be allowed to conduct whatever research they want. The problem comes when it is in fact government money sponsoring special-interest projects, or when an institution attempts to display their results as rigorous and unbiased (when the truth is otherwise).

I seem to remember there was a time when research said tobacco didn't cause cancer. Nothing wrong with this statement so long as we know the source and can accurately judge its credibility (tthhhbbbwwwtt!) :P

I think when money is involved, especially a great deal of money, it become very difficult to judge the credibility of research. Right now there is alot of research going on about how vitamins can help prevent and even cure disease that does not get published in journals that rely on drug companies to finance their operations. At the same time, research that results in negative conclusions about the effectiveness of vitamins gets published in these same journals. For example, see http://orthomolecula...ns/v05n08.shtml

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The late Donald Campbell once said that that science has an anti-tribal ethos and a tribal social structure.

Sometimes the tribal groupings are too small to deserve that name, in which case I call them factions.

In any case, data gathering, hypothesis testing, theory building, refutation, and criticism are all integral to science—and frequently at cross purposes with loyalty to tribal leaders and factional mentors.

Peer review of journal articles (and its looser counterpart, the editorial review of scientific books) is meant to provide checks and balances and reduce the likelihood of publication decisions based on attachment to the in-group and hostility to the out-group. But peer review is far from perfect under normal circumstances, and the system can be gamed under abnormal circumstances (as we have recently seen in the leaked CRU emails).

And peer review normally covers the interpretation of the data as the authors have presented it. It doesn't extend to audits of researchers' raw data; authors of scientific manuscripts are on an honor system in that regard (it appears that the CRU crew abused the honor system). If everyone distrusted everyone else's data presentation to the extent of feeling a need to audit it, new data collection would nearly grind to a halt.

Scientific research that is expensive to conduct, because of the equipment and/or research assistants required, is supported by patrons. There are potential conflicts of interest when industries are the patrons; other potential conflicts of interest when private foundations and other non-profits are the patrons; still others when governments are the patrons.

As R. Paul Drake has noted (and Dr. Drake is far more accepting of government funding of scientific research than I am), the worst conflicts of interest arise when government-supported research is expected to play a role in shaping laws and policies; he calls this kind of activity "regulatory science." The CRU in Britain, along with GISS in the USA, and their smaller counterparts in other countries which also feed into the IPCC reports, are doing regulatory science—which makes finagling and concealment unusually likely.

Robert Campbell

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The late Donald Campbell once said that that science has an anti-tribal ethos and a tribal social structure.

Sometimes the tribal groupings are too small to deserve that name, in which case I call them factions.

In any case, data gathering, hypothesis testing, theory building, refutation, and criticism are all integral to science—and frequently at cross purposes with loyalty to tribal leaders and factional mentors.

Peer review of journal articles (and its looser counterpart, the editorial review of scientific books) is meant to provide checks and balances and reduce the likelihood of publication decisions based on attachment to the in-group and hostility to the out-group. But peer review is far from perfect under normal circumstances, and the system can be gamed under abnormal circumstances (as we have recently seen in the leaked CRU emails).

And peer review normally covers the interpretation of the data as the authors have presented it. It doesn't extend to audits of researchers' raw data; authors of scientific manuscripts are on an honor system in that regard (it appears that the CRU crew abused the honor system). If everyone distrusted everyone else's data presentation to the extent of feeling a need to audit it, new data collection would nearly grind to a halt.

Scientific research that is expensive to conduct, because of the equipment and/or research assistants required, is supported by patrons. There are potential conflicts of interest when industries are the patrons; other potential conflicts of interest when private foundations and other non-profits are the patrons; still others when governments are the patrons.

As R. Paul Drake has noted (and Dr. Drake is far more accepting of government funding of scientific research than I am), the worst conflicts of interest arise when government-supported research is expected to play a role in shaping laws and policies; he calls this kind of activity "regulatory science." The CRU in Britain, along with GISS in the USA, and their smaller counterparts in other countries which also feed into the IPCC reports, are doing regulatory science—which makes finagling and concealment unusually likely.

Robert Campbell

Yes, it's a bizarre situation for sure!

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We're running into another thorny issue here.

It is not logical for the government to enact programs designed to benefit society unless data demonstrates such programs will induce the desired effect. However, we are noting today that government research programs cannot claim sufficient neutrality to provide objective results. Where can that science come from?

Money-influence is everywhere...

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Christopher,

With any kind of funded scientific research, a prudent reader will pay attention to the funding source.

But if the study is government-funded, and either calls for government action or is being used by advocates of further government action, look out!

Robert Campbell

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