Science Guardian

Truth, beauty and paradigm power in science and society

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

News, views and reviews measured against professional literature in peer reviewed journals (adjusted for design flaws and bias), well researched books, authoritative encyclopedias (not the bowdlerized Wiki entries on controversial topics) and the investigative reporting and skeptical studies of courageous original thinkers among academics, philosophers, researchers, scholars, authors, filmmakers and journalists.

Supporting the right of exceptional minds to free speech, publication, media coverage and funding against the crowd prejudice, leadership resistance, monetary influences and internal professional politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, HIV(not)AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, information technology, religions and cults, health, medicine, diet and nutrition.



Halton C. Arp wki/obit/txt/vds/txt/txt/bk/bk, Henry Bauer txt/blg/ blg/bks/bk/txt/bk/vd, John Beard bk, Harvey Bialy bk/bk/txt/txt/rdo/vd, John Bockris bio/txt/ltr/bk, Donald W. Braben, Peter Breggin ste/fb/col/bks, Darin Brown txt/txt/txt/txt/txt/vd, Giordano Bruno bk/bio/bio, Frank R. Buianouckas, Stanislav Burzynski mov, Erwin Chargaff bio/bk/bio/prs, James Chin bk/vd, Nicolaus Copernicus bk, Mark Craddock, Francis Crick vd, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw txt/bk, Roger Cunningham, Charles Darwin txts/bk, Erasmus Darwin txt//bk/txt/hse/bks, Peter Duesberg ste/ste/bk/txt/vd/vd, Freeman Dyson, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman bio, John Fewster, Rosalind Franklin, Bernard Forscher tx, Galileo Galilei, Walter Gilbert vd, Goethe bio/bk/bio, Nicolas Gonzalez tlk/rec/stetxt/txt, Patricia Goodson txt/bk/bk, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Etienne de Harven bk/txt/vd, Alfred Hassig intw/txt, Robert G. Houston txt, Steven Jonas vd, Edward Jenner txt, Benjamin Jesty, Adrian Kent vd, Thomas Kuhn, Fred Kummerow, Stefan Lanka txt/txt/vd, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen vd, Paul Lauterbur vd, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, James Lovelock, Andrew Maniotis, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, Christi Meyer vd, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Luc Montagnier txt/txt/vd, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling prs/vd/vd, Eric Penrose, Roger Penrose vd, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick bio/vd/bk, Robert Root-Bernstein vd, Sherwood Rowland, Otto Rossler, Harry Rubin, Marco Ruggiero txt/txt/intw/vd, Bertrand Russell Carl Sagan vd, Erwin Schrodinger, Fred Singer, Barbara Starfield txt, Gordon Stewart txt/txt, Richard Strohman, Thomas Szasz, Nicola Tesla bio/bio, Charles Thomas intw/vd, Frank Tipler, James Watson vd/vd, Alfred Wegener vd, Edward O. Wilson vd.


Jad Adams bk, Marci Angell bk/txt/txt/txt, Clark Baker ste/txt/rdo/vd, James Blodgett, Tony Brown vd, Hiram Caton txt/txt/txt/bk/ste, Jonathan Collin ste , Marcus Cohen, David Crowe vd, Margaret Cuomo, Stephen Davis BK/BK,/rdo, Michael Ellner vd, Elizabeth Ely txt/txt/ste, Epicurus, Dean Esmay, Celia Farber bio/txt/txt/txt/vd, Jonathan Fishbein txt/txt/wk, T.C.Fry, Michael Fumento, Max Gerson txt, Charles Geshekter vd, Michael Geiger, Roberto Giraldo, David Healy txt, Bob Herbert, Mike Hersee ste/rdo, Neville Hodgkinson txt /vd, James P. Hogan, Richard Horton bio/vd/vd, Christopher Hitchens, Eric Johnson, Claus Jensen vd, Phillip Johnson, Coleman Jones vds, William Donald Kelley, Ernst T. Krebs Sr txt, Ernst T. Krebs Jr. txt,/bio/txt/txt/ltr, Paul Krugman, Brett Leung MOV/ste/txt/txt/tx+vd/txt, Katie Leishman, Anthony Liversidge blg/intv/intv/txt/txts/txt/intv/txt/vd/vd, Bruce Livesey txt, James W. Loewen, Frank Lusardi, Nathaniel Lehrman vd, Christine Maggiore bk/ste/rec/rdo/vd, Rouben Mamoulian txt/txt/txt/txt/txt/doc/flm/flm, Noreen Martin vd, Robert Maver txt/itw, Eric Merola MOV, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Michael Moore bio/MOV/MOV/MOV, Gordon Moran, Ralph Nader bk, Ralph Moss txt/blg/ste/bks, Gary Null /txt/rdo/vd, Dan Olmsted wki, Toby Ord vd, Charles Ortleb bk/txt/bk/intw/flm, Neenyah Ostrom bk, Dennis Overbye, Mehmet Dr Oz vd, Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos ste/vd, Maria Papagiannidou bk, Thomas Piketty bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk, Robert Pollin txt/vd/bk, Jon Rappoport bio/bk/bk/ste/bk/bk/vd, Janine Roberts bk/bk, Luis Sancho vd, Liam Scheff ste/txt/bk/bk/rdio/vd, John Scythes, Casper Schmidt txt/txt, Joan Shenton vd/vd, Joseph Sonnabend vd, John Stauber, David Steele, Joseph Stiglitz bk/txt, Will Storr rdo Wolfgang Streeck, James P. Tankersley ste, Gary Taubes vd, Mwizenge S. Tembo, John Tierney vd, Michael Tracey, Valendar Turner rec, Jesse Ventura bk, Michael Verney-Elliott bio/vds/vd, Voltaire, Walter Wagner, Andrew Weil vd, David Weinberger bio/bk/blg/blg/BK/bk/pds, Robert Willner bk/txt/txt/vd, Howard Zinn.

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing that ever interfered with my learning was my education. I am Freeman Dyson, and I approve of this blog, but would warn the author that life as a heretic is a hard one, since the ignorant and the half informed, let alone those who should know better, will automatically trash their betters who try to enlighten them with independent thinking, as I have found to my sorrow in commenting on "global warming" and its cures.
Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

The progress of science is strewn, like an ancient desert trail, with the bleached skeletons of discarded theories which once seemed to possess eternal life. - Arthur Koestler

One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison. – Bertrand Russell

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it. - Samuel Johnson

A sudden bold and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man and lay him open. – Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. – John Stuart Mill

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform. – Mark Twain

Although science has led to the generally high living standards that most of the industrialized world enjoys today, the astounding discoveries underpinning them were made by a tiny number of courageous, out-of-step, visionary, determined, and passionate scientists working to their own agenda and radically challenging the status quo. – Donald W. Braben

An old error is always more popular than a new truth. — German Proverb

Who does not know the truth is simply a fool, yet who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a criminal. – Bertold Brecht

When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself. – Mark Twain

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair

They don't erect statues to critics. - Prince Ea

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

Important: This site is best viewed in LARGE FONT, and in Firefox for image title visibility (place cursor on pics to reveal comments) and layout display. Click the title of any post to get only that post and its Comments for printing. All posts guaranteed fact checked according to reference level cited, typically the original journal studies. Full guide to site purpose, layout and how to print posts out is in the lower blue section at the bottom of the home page.

PBS Platforms Ken Burns’ Take On ‘Emperor of All Maladies’

March 30th, 2015

Six hours of establishment history rolled out by public television

New era of progress heralded as gene targeted drugs multiply

Will the series tell us of other, more promising approaches? Probably not.

Following the Pulitzer prize winning book published in 2010, Emperor of All Maladies, connoisseurs of misinformation, having enjoyed the Vaccine Wars repeat last week, can now settle down this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 9pm (Mar 30-Apr 1) on the East Coast for Ken Burns’ version of Emperor on PBS.

Judging from Burns’ WNYC radio interview in advance of this watershed event in cancer history, things are not promising. Guess what? From the sound of it, it wasn’t Peter Duesberg who found the first supposed oncogene and sequenced it (and later debunked it and all such specific cancer gene theory) any more. He is not to be mentioned. Instead we are to be told that Harold Varmus, the varmint at NCI, found with Bishop the src gene as the first supposed human oncogene. Well, we do know that Varmus, who headed the NIH after his Nobel and then Memorial Sloan Kettering, and has ruled the NCI as director since 2010, is to retire on Tuesday. We label him a varmint since he has been denying Duesberg his support for any money for his work, which is probably the only cancer lab research worth funding given the field’s continuing obsession with the inherited gene theory of cancer, which has yet to yield one actual oncogene consistently shown to mutate to originate any cancer (though scores of “confirmed” candidates last time we looked).

Now we have PBS doing its usual job of swallowing currently leading, publicly funded scientists’ story whole, without checking behind the scenes in any way. Here’s a talk by Peter Duesberg which might have shed more light on the real cancer research story and its scandalous misdirection today, Controversies in Cancer Research by Peter Duesberg.

Your breasts or your life

Line up for your mastectomys, girls – now that Angelina Jolie has had her ovaries removed too, she has shown the way, and we will continue to ignore decades old clinical studies showing it doesn’t help at all – in fact it worsens outcomes.

But hey. if you have the gene it’s the best thing to do, reports Ken, advised by Siddhartha Mukherjee who has his Pulitzer in hand for the original book.

Is this what PBS supporters deserve for their support which they fondly believe frees PBS reporting from the money game? When will the progressive TV news program Democracy Now learn to handle the big scandals of science and expose all this nonsense? Not soon enough, sadly, given the mental paralysis in questioning that so often afflicts the left as soon as they hear the word science. Even though Amy Goodman, the admirable Democracy Now host and personification, has a biochemistry undergrad degree from Harvard, and planned a career in science before leading the way in progressive news coverage, it doesn’t seem likely she will investigate, though she has managed some coverage of scientific issues.

The truth is that cancer is still the great scourge of humanity just as it was for the Pharaohs, and PBS has a duty to investigate the topic as thoroughly as possible if there is any chance of saving women from the grotesque suffering it brings them either personally or through their children.

Times adds Op-Ed perspective

All is not lost at the Times, at least, since that generally admirable paper (except in its science coverage of HIV/AIDS, another giant boondoggle) allowed a small but fierce bit of enlightened skepticism to peek through on its Op Ed pages in the Weekly Review section yesterday. In Trying to Fool Cancer Mikkaela Sekeres, director of the Cleveland Clinic program on leukemia and an oncologist, is permitted to say that a national cancer policy focusing on drugs targeted on individual gene mutations may be something of a wild goose chase, since the cancer picture appears to be, from Cleveland Clinic research, a lot more complicated.

The problem is, cancer is rarely that simple, or that easily fooled.

Three recent studies, all published or presented late last year, highlight the challenges of building a national cancer therapy policy around precision medicine…..

Ten genetic mutations. So if you’re developing a drug to treat these cancers, which mutation would you choose to target? If your drug attacked the ninth or 10th mutation, the cancer would quickly regrow, because one through eight would still thrive…..

Targeting these mutations would be the best way to fight these cancers, right?

But what if it turns out that the founder mutations are part of a given person’s normal human genome — what are called “germline” mutations, which are present in both cancerous and noncancerous cells? Killing them could wreak havoc……

When we looked back to our database of more than 1,000 patients with similar disorders, we were able to identify eight others with this mutation who had already been treated with the drug I gave to my identical twin patients, and all had improved blood counts. This would seem to argue in favor of a national cancer policy focusing on targeted drugs.

Or does it? True, the twins had a founder genetic mutation for which we identified (by accident) a drug that worked really well, and neither had major side effects. But despite the improvement in their blood counts, when we examined their bone marrow after they had been treated, the twins’ cancer never went away, and one died from an infection related to his disease only months later……

One final study should give us all pause. Researchers from Harvard and M.I.T. analyzed genomic tests from more than 17,000 patients enrolled in diabetes or heart disease studies. They found that many had mutations more commonly associated with blood and bone marrow cancers, despite the fact that the patients did not have any known blood disorders…..

Even for patients who have a genetic mutation and a clearly defined cancer, that mutation might have nothing to do with causing the cancer. Targeting it with a drug could just damage cells that might be innocent bystanders.

Without doubt, therapies that target genetic abnormalities have made huge inroads in the survival of cancer patients, most notably in some chronic leukemias, melanomas and lung and breast cancers.

But they haven’t been curative. And we shouldn’t delude ourselves, or our patients, in thinking that standard chemotherapy is a thing of the past. Or that a few more months of life, which is what many targeted drugs have been able to deliver on average, is a panacea in cancer care.

Let’s see how many of these caveats are featured in Ken Burns’ six hour saga, on which he acted as Senior Creative Consultant, according to the credits, though it seems he was the senior producer from all accounts. More intimately responsible for the level of new information and the perspective of the coverage is the director and “series producer”, Barak Goodman, perhaps. But whoever had the final say, the first signs are not promising.

However, it is apparent from uninformed reviews in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times that at least one giant mistake is admitted.

Needless mastectomies

The horrible infliction of radical mastectomy, where the whole breast is removed and a good deal else, is recognized in this six hour history as having been uselessly savage for many years. Halsted’s desperate attempt at the turn of the century to prevent the cancer spreading was sadly misdirected, because it couldn’t block metastasis which had already happened through the blood. The problem was known since the 1940s, and mastectomy was confirmed by Bernard Fisher of the University of Pittsburgh in large scale trials in the 1970s as no better than lumpectomy. Not that that has stopped many doctors and surgeons from still perpetrating this barbaric piece of sadism on many women today, though the prophylactic double mastectomy that Angelina Jolie recently experienced, with typical female enthusiasm for maximum intervention, was undertaken for different reasons.

The motive for the operation in her case was not preventing metastasis but heading off the potential failure of her immune system to block cancer, which was reckoned a strong possibility owing to her possessing a mutated BRCA1 gene (ie BReast CAncer 1). But the severe operation remains questioned by some for its possibly exaggerated statistical rationale, and more decisively, for its similar inability to prevent the cancer coming up in the chest wall or anywhere else. Jolie followed with a second operation removing her ovaries for the same reason a fortnight ago, again open to the same objection and more.

On this topic, a review paper in March last year showed that in general mastectomy is not only a treatment which results in nil advantage over lumpectomy, or ‘BCT – breast conservation therapy’, it actually worsens outcome in terms of death when used on early stage breast cancer (Effect of Breast Conservation Therapy vs Mastectomy on Disease Specific Survival for Early-Stage Breast Cancer, Agarwal et al., JAMA Surg. 2014;149(3):267-274.)

Skepticism on mammography, new drugs

It has already been made clear that the upbeat conclusion of this standard piece of establishment self congratulation is that a whole new wave of advance in the standard, oncogene fixated strategy against the Emperor’s cellular armies of the night can be expected. The wave will wash over the haplessly trusting patients as an armory of new and profitable drugs targeted against specific gene mutations will pad the billing of hospitals. But will they help, or will the great wave be to no real avail? As indicated above, this is by no means a sure thing.

After all, the earlier wave of early (before age 50) mammograms built up by advertising and promotion has run up against a seawall of reassessment in the last decade, leaving its benefits debatable in terms of risk and reward, for like chemotherapy, mammography itself risks cancer.

Alternatives without side effects

Any mention of dietary treatments and phytochemicals (plant constituents) will probably be absent, we expect, in the same way as they will no doubt be neglected in Memorial Sloan Kettering’s free lecture coming up shortly on Targeted Therapies for Breast Cancer: What Are They and How Do They Work?. Last time we attended a MSK briefing on breast cancer, the topic was entirely omitted, and one of the specialists presenting, a woman, said that diet was not addressed in treatment with any regard to what phytochemicals might be especially relevant to breast cancer.

That’s a pity, given the impressive lab results that have come through in the last two decades showing that phytochemicals can kill cancer cells in petri dishes faster than chemo. But of course, these are manufactured for free by Mother Nature, so no one can make enough money out of them to justify a billion dollar set of clinical trials, lab studies and legal expenses to satisfy the authorities they are effective, safe and have no side effects, even though we eat our veggies and fruit every day and prove otherwise.

Recent notable findings of interest in regard to breast cancer include Resveratrol increases BRCA1 and BRAC2 mRNA expression in breast tumour cell lines Fustier et al Br J Cancer. 2003 Jul 7;89(1):168-72; BRCA1 and BRCA2 as molecular targets for phytochemicals indole-3-carbinol and genistein in breast and prostate cancer cells by Fan et al Br J Cancer. 2006 Feb 13;94(3):407-26 ;and the latest one to emphasize synergy in phytochemical action, here on breast cancer cells, Simultaneous Inhibition of Cell-Cycle, Proliferation, Survival, Metastatic Pathways and Induction of Apoptosis in breast cancer cells by a phytochemical super-cocktail: genes that underpin its mode of action, by Ouhtit et al, J Cancer. 2013 Nov 14;4(9):703-15. doi: 10.7150/jca.7235. eCollection 2013 .

The abstract of the last one emphasizes the advantages that Mother Nature offers over traditional chemotheray and radiation, let alone sadistic surgery:

Traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer treatment face serious challenges such as drug resistance and toxic side effects. Complementary / Alternative medicine is increasingly being practiced worldwide due to its safety beneficial therapeutic effects…..
This investigation indicates the potential for development of a highly effective phytochemical combination for breast cancer chemoprevention / chemotherapy.

Optimistic, perhaps, but surely it is a tragedy that any avenue to progress should be blocked simply because it won’t make any money.

Tell that to Angelina Jolie.

Support for Peter Duesberg and HIV-AIDS dissent as well worth examining and apparently right

September 30th, 2014

Frontiers in Public Health publishes summary of paradigm dissent in literature by Patricia Goodson of Texas A&M

Review for public health professionals outlines the multitude of reasons for doubting paradigm, need for debate

Will editors or publisher of Swiss journal in Nature stable surrender when attacked by HIV-AIDS partisans, as with Medical Hypothesis?

The thirty year debate over HIV as the wrong cause of AIDS seemed to be thoroughly suffocated by the rulers of the field till last week, when a remarkable article burst into view on line.

A thorough review of the state of dissent in HIV-AIDS, it was published by a respectable public health journal and authored by a member of the Department of Health & Kinesiology at Texas A&M, one Patricia Goodson.

If Questioning the HIV-AIDS hypothesis: 30 years of dissent by Patricia Goodson, Department of Health & Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA is not repressed by being withdrawn after the predictable political counter attack, we’d say the article has the potential to be a game changer in the hitherto stifled debate.

What the article says

Professor Goodson has done a fine job of examining the thirty year history of the logic and the politics of the discussion, in which dissenters even at the highest academic journal level have waged an uphill battle against the ruthless efforts of paradigm partisans among scientists established in the field to fend off and deny any criticism or review of their fond belief.

Goodson’s review (here is a pdf copy) appends 96 references, the first being Nobelist Kary Mullis’s striking statement, in his introduction to Peter Duesberg’s ‘Inventing the AIDS Virus’ (Regnery, 1996), that

“the HIV-AIDS hypothesis is one hell of a mistake.”

(Photo right: Will the ship of fools, the Titanic HIV-AIDS cruise liner, meet the Goodson iceberg and sink within hours? Probably not.)

That forthright quotation by Mullis is in effect Goodson’s opening shot across the bows of the great cruise ship ‘SS HIV-AIDS’, as that gigantic vessel continues its so far unarrested world tour. For thirty years without effective opposition it has gathered unprecedented public and private funds for its mission of medicating the human race with noxious drugs that can do grievous and sometimes fatal harm and no good at all, according to HIV-AIDS dissenters, whose case is gone through in four major aspects in Goodson’s paper:

I organize the challenges put forth by unorthodox scholars into four categories of data that support the HIV-AIDS hypothesis: (1) retroviral molecular markers (2) transmission electron microscopy (EM) images of retroviral particles; (3) efficacy of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs; and (4) epidemiological data [7,8]

In other words, claims that the tests are invalid, actual HIV particles have never been seen, the drugs are ineffective and dangerous, and the transmission of the disease has never taken place. As anyone familiar with the problem knows, all these claims, shocking as they may be to the New York Times reader uninstructed in the issue, are true, in that this is what the evidence states, and there has never been any proven valid counter evidence or argument offered by the paradigm partisans in the literature. Indeed, there is still no paper to reference demonstrating that HIV is the cause of HIV-AIDS, which remains merely a conjecture based on a correlation.

Comprehensive review

(Photo left): Nobel prize winning scientist Kary Mullis joins with distinguished cancer scientist Peter Duesberg in condemning the HIV paradigm as a gigantic error and says that AIDS is clearly a behavioral rather than a transmissible disease in the West.

The paper is admirably complete, including every major flaw in the paradigm claimed by critics, though not all of them agree as to which is important or valid. To reach her paper’s conclusion, Goodson surveys a raft of objections to the HIV-AIDS core notion from every direction, many of which may be new to many readers who have previously looked at the problem long enough to know which side must be correct.

Among the many stones she turns to reveal the wriggling population of nonsensical inconsistencies and foolishness alleged by the critics are the following:

1) The antibodies revealed by tests would suggest that ‘the immune system has controlled the invading agents” in any other context than HIV-AIDS theory.

2) The tests used to confirm exposure to HIV (the ELISA and Western blot) react positively to more than sixty factors other than HIV antibodies, including flu and flu vaccinations, second and later pregnancies, tetanus vaccination, and the malaria widespread in Africa, a claim supported by “scientifcally valid evidence published in reputable peer reviewed journals” such as Lancet, JAMA, AIDS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Canadian Medical Association Journal.

3) The Western blot has no standardized criteria for a positive result and one can change from positive to negative by flying from one country to another (eg a test reaction to p41, p32 and p24 would be considered positive in Africa, but not in Britain).

There are about forty more difficulties which the HIV-AIDS paradigm supporters have so far found no convincing answer for, as confirmed by their notorious habit of resorting to political evasions and counter attack to deal with them over the last thirty years. (We will convey them in a subsequent post).

A global can of worms opened

(Photo right:This is what Goodson opened with in her review of HIV and AIDS, but did she not know that there would be armed resistance? She didn’t read the label carefully!)

Goodson thus notes the flaws alleged by dissenters in each category. But what’s novel about this new review of HIV dissent, apart from its being published at all in a world where virulent attacks on any dissent from HIV paradigm supporters are notorious, is that it concludes that it is indeed politics which has repressed the contrary view in the field, not that the arguments and evidence to doubt the validity of HIV as the cause of AIDS are prima facie wrong.

In other words, that the critics have demonstrated to her satisfaction that there are indeed very good scientific reasons to believe that HIV is not the cause of AIDS’ serious and potentially fatal immune deficiency, and that current health policy should be reviewed in this light. It should not be left alone as none of our business, or not the business of health professionals, to investigate and put right.

I would argue, nonetheless, that the debate between orthodox and unorthodox scientists comprises much more than an intellectual pursuit or a scientific skirmish: it is a matter of life-and-death. It is a matter of justice. Millions of lives, worldwide, have been and will be significantly affected by an HIV or AIDS diagnosis. If we – the public health workforce – lose sight of the social justice implications and the magnitude of the effect, we lose “the very purpose of our mission.” [3,90. p.690]

The matter is particularly critical now that the CDC wishes to test all comers:

“A pressing concern for public health is the move or push toward a) HIV screening for “patients in all health-care settings” (with opt-out screening) [91] and b) placing persons-at-risk (even if not yet infected with HIV), on retroviral medication as a form of prophylaxis (see discussion about PrEP, above) (92). If in 1986 the CDC recommended voluntary testing for people in high-risk groups, in 2013 the US Preventive Services Task Force “gave routine HIV screening of all adolescents and adults, ages 15-65, an ‘A’ rating” ([93. p.1]). The recently approved Affordable Care Act “requires or incentivizes preventive services rated ‘A’ or ‘B’ at no cost to patients” ([93], p.1). Thus, routine screening of every adolescent and adult in all populations in, now, the goal [91,94].

If, to this goal we juxtapose the problems with the HIV tests, with the definition(s) of AIDS, and with the toxicity of the ARVs currently prescribed, we begin to understand the potential for harm inherent in them. Put blatantly: these recommendations can be harmful or iatrogenic [95].

A dangerous conclusion

Goodson concludes that it is “vital that public health professionals attend to the debate and embark in a questioning of their own.”

Since this is precisely what the supporters of HIV/AIDS have always feared – that competent professional outsiders should review their essentially crackpot theory and denounce it – it seems unlikely they will let this pass without mounting an immediate counter attack to undermine its credibility, and persuade the publication to withdraw it.

Such an obnoxious effort is already underway, the publisher has announced, in effect once again demonstrating that there are no good counterarguments to those of the dissenters, and that HIV defenders need politics to evade the debunking of their infatuation.

Politics: Will this publication survive?

The first target, we can predict, of the defenders of the HIV faith will be Patricia Goodson herself. We wonder if she is prepared for the onslaught, since she apparently spends her professional life among colleagues who are likely more idealistically motivated that the promoters of the heavily funded but so far failed paradigm HIV=AIDS (it has failed to produce a proof of cause, or a cure, or a vaccine, in thirty years).

We have in mind John P. Moore Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Microbiology and Immunology, Weill Cornell Medical College, where he has worked since 2000 on research well funded by the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases on the nature and properties of HIV, particularly when applied to the private parts of macaques.

Moore is well known in the field for his notorious Op-Ed piece in the New York Times deploring dissenters in HIV-AIDS science as being “dangerous” to the community because they might discourage the taking of noxious anti-HIV drugs. He is also notorious for making personal attacks on dissenters, most effectively by writing to their employers to urge them to relieve the HIV doubters of their jobs or posts.

Another prominent deplorer of dissent in any form is Mark Wainberg, Director of the McGill University AIDS Centre and Professor of Medicine and of Microbiology at McGill University in Montreal. In one fit of zeal he has called for the imprisonment of Peter Duesberg and any other prominent dissenter.

There are a host of lesser folks who can be counted upon to come eagerly to the fray in support of the status quo, though without scientific credentials even of the suspect HIV expertise kind. We are thinking of some who have unsuccessfully though energetically trolled this site in earlier years.

(Photo left: Will Patricia Goodson of Texas A&M’s department of Health & Kinesiology survive the anticipated attacks behind her back of the notoriously ungentlemanly defenders of the HIV faith, now she has published a very thorough review of the history and state of HIV-AIDS dissent in a respectable journal, albeit thus far only on line? We hope so, for the sake of science, free speech and debate, and the cancellation of harmful HIV-AIDS policy before more lives are ruined by this unjustifiable and very dangerous scientific notion.)

An arrow at the castle of denial

So will the reputation of Goodson survive, along with her publication?

According to the website apart from being a professor of public health she is also a teacher of writing, which explains why her document is well written enough for laymen to understand it. Even Rhodes scholar Bill Clinton will be able to read through it and finally realize what’s up; not that that would make any difference to his public posture.

Which is the problem. Over thirty years this paradigm, which any reasonable person can see from her review is undoubtedly the most ill founded, wretched embarrassment to science in history, has become part of the culture, and woven into countless lives, not just of the patients but of all the scientists, bureaucrats, NGO idealists, doctors, nurses and other fellow travelers, professional or lay, engaged in any career or job involved in the spending of the hundreds of billions of dollars commanded by it.

To take one example, what precisely is a man and scientist such as John P. Moore to do with the realization that his entire life in science has been conducted on a false premise, and the whole string of grants he has received have been applied to studying a chimera? Even if there is something else his expertise can be turned to, which is questionable, what about the reputation he will lose, the standing in the community which will vanish, like fog in the sun?

The scientific truth is that HIV-AIDS is a paradigm with a hollow center, and that truth is like a trap door under the feet of all concerned, one which they have devoted their lives to nailing shut, lest it open and drop them into the void of calumny and ostracism, if not investigation and hearings on the topic of whether they knowingly misled the public and incurred the waste of billions in taxpayer funds and the blight and loss of hundreds of thousands of human lives.

They will fight to the death to prevent this trap door opening, and they have done so to date. They are not going to change now.


Here is the text of the article for reference in case it is obliterated for political reasons from its current place on the Web:

Click for article
Click for the 96 references listed separately here in addition to the above

Here are the comments on the article so far (by Feb 3 2015):

Click for the comments at Frontiers
Click for the Goodson article as a pdf

New York Antique Fair Offers Aviation Engineering as Breathtaking Art

September 20th, 2014

Hatchwell Shows Polished Artifacts of Aviation History in Brilliant Display

Tech Beauties of a Bygone Age – For a Hefty Price

(Above) Rolls Royce Pegasus MK 105 Titanium Stator Ring Mirror Circa 1985 from a RAF Harrier ‘Jump’ Jet at Hatchwell Antiques

A profusion of richly ornate, colorfully decorative and highly polished items including magnificently carved clocks, rows of gorgeously sanguine flower paintings and landscapes, enormous photographs of Manhattan landscapes and society, and glittering jewelry filled the Armory last night in an invitational preview of the four day New York Art, Antiques and Jewelry Fall Show.

Not all of it was high art, perhaps, in fact, much of it veered dangerously close to kitsch, but there were many designs and works of lasting value amid this commercial flower garden of decoration. Prices ranged from four to six figures.

Hatchwell’s Shining Aviation Beauties

The most unexpected discovery at the show was an extraordinary display of polished steel artifacts at Hatchwell Antiques, where Allan Hatchwell and Richard Wait (US temporary Cell 561-635-8968 UK Cell 44 7768 862229 533 King’s Road 0207-351-2344 offered shining polished metal and wood antiques of a unique engineering kind from aviation history – huge propeller blades, soaring model planes, giant marine binoculars and a telescope on wheel adjustable stands, a double life size training Browning machine gun with cutaway moving parts, a Campbell-Stokesspehere sunshine recorder, an RAF Gloster Javelin ejection seat and a coffee table incorporating a Rolls Royce Titanium Turbine, all (except for the giant polished wood propellers) made entirely of steel buffed to dazzling brilliance, and including several circular wall mirrors made from jet engines.

Pair of Cold War era Czech Binoculars c 1955 (above) was part of Hatchwell’s London stock of large aperture binoculars from the golden era of binocular manufacturing from 1910 to 1960 by Zeiss, Nikon and Fuji, which like the other brilliant metal objects on display offered not only forms of engineering art but also perhaps a chance to touch the past and retrieve something of the time when complex creations of human invention were physical, tactile and intelligible to the ordinary citizen who experienced them, rather than the virtual, vanishingly abstract creations of the dot com era.

Against the background of the Rolls Royce Pegasus 105 Stage 1 Titanium Turbine c 1985 coffee table (above), the crystal ball-like glass sun focuser of the Campbell-Stokessphere sunshine recorder by Casella of London, mounted on a golden oak base, c 1930, above, stands ready to record the amount of sun shine throughout the day. As invented by John Francis Campbell in 1853 and modified by Sir George Gabriel Stokes in 1879, the sun burns a trace on the bowl, or with Stoke’s refinement of adding a card holder, burns through a card.

The idea, explained Richard Wait (above), is that it measures the time it takes for the sun to burn through the card. If the concept seems a little primitive, there is an undeniable beauty in the object.

Ejection seat (above): This beautiful machinery will save your life if you have to leave your Harrier jet in a hurry.

Also on hand was Allan Hatchwell, the son of the founder of his business which dealt in wooden antique furniture until he came up with this inspired idea. He explained how the ejection seat (above) worked, the rocket at its back lifting the pilot out with such force that his spine was compressed one inch as he cleared the plane’s tail. An oxygen canister is fitted to the side to ensure survival in high altitude ejections.

Another view of the ejection seat  shows the beautiful life saver in all its glory.  But will it serve as a living room seat to read one's early morning coffee?  Probably not, but does it matter?

Even if the ejection seat – above, in its full glory – doesn’t serve as a comfy nook to drink your early morning coffee, it will make any other seat you occupy seem even more comfortable and safe than usual. But in fact, the seat is very comfortable, as well as being good for the posture. Hatchwell sold a complete set of twelve as dining chairs to one customer.

Meanwhile, here’s a coffee table which will serve both you and a lady guest very nicely if you wish to impress:

Impress the lady of your choice by giving her coffee and cakes on this aluminum coffee table incorporating a Rolls Royce Pegasus 105 Stage 1 Titanium Turbine blade, c 1985 (above) especially when you reach your hand under the glass and spin it around for her.

There were several binoculars at Hatchwell that were also beautiful objects, especially the pair of large aperture Fuji Meibo 25X150 Marine Binoculars from Japan c 1975, mounted on a Perico rise and fall tripod.

Mount these on your balcony and enjoy the unmatchable purity of the huge glass lenses as you peer across the park at the apartment windows of Faye Dunaway opposite your Fifth Avenue perch.

Bringing antiques into the jet age: Allan Hatchwell caressing one of his beloved binoculars as art object, in this case an extremely rare pair of 119×40 large aperture beauties by BBT Krauss of Paris, c 1928, on a Carl Zeiss design tripod. This pair was set up on the Normandy coast of Trouville-sur-mer, near Deauville, to watch yachts and shipping at the mouth of the Seine, and in 1940 were hidden away from the Germans so they couldn’t be commandeered for coastal defense. ($90,000)

But did you notice the giant propeller?

A conversation at the show invitational preview on Wednesday evening – Where did you get that material? It works so well! – (below) shows the scale of the huge and beautiful laminated Sitka spruce supersonic wind tunnel propeller on show at Hatchwell Antiques, which can occupy your living room for $98,000 the pair.

The original 18 blade fan and 7×10 foot tunnel cost $2,052,000 and developed a wind speed of 675 mph. Built in 1945 at the NASA Langley research center in Virginia it tested aircraft, missiles and eventually the manned orbiter. It was closed in 1994.

A look through one of the Carl Zeiss periscope binoculars with 10x magnification shows how well the fist sized glass lens captures light from seventy yards away, illuminating the globe of apples at the show entrance and bathing the scene in a beautiful luminosity:

View of the entrance to the show seventy yards away (above) through the magnificent large glass lens of one of the Carl Zeiss 10x 50 Periscope Binoculars, c 1965, often fitted to Panzer tanks and used along the Berlin Wall during the Cold War.

This is the first time Hatchwell has exhibited its unique collection in New York, and it attracted considerable notice at the preview.

In touch with past reality

It was certainly enough to make any science and technology buff to plan a new room in the mansion to host one to five of these marvelous artifacts of a past generation, which allow the owner and his or her guests to enjoy touching and having around a beautiful example or set of shining engineering which bring back a past of great design feats in the physical realm, concrete beauties as opposed to the virtual reality in which we increasingly live today. They will be a comfort to all who are now forced to live in an age where half the advances in science and technology are completely opaque to the understanding of the average mortal.

They take one back via their beautiful elegance to an age where the function and purpose of all the tools of living from telephones to cars were intelligible to the average mortal, and the beauty of their design could be appreciated by the naked eye and the touch of a hand.

“Second Opinion”: Laetrile Scandal at Sloan-Kettering Revisited

August 27th, 2014

Eric Merola’s Documentary Shows Pharma Politics Reversed Positive Studies

Public Spokesman/Idealist Ralph W. Moss Resisted Cover Up, Got Fired

Time Brought Justice for Both Sides but Not Yet for Laetrile

By Anthony Liversidge

One of science and medicine’s best buried political secrets has burst like Frankenstein out of its grave into the open this week with the release of Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering, a documentary directed by Eric Merola, which will be premiered with Q/A at Cinema Village (22 East 12 St) at 7pm Friday (Aug 29 2014).

The film beautifully dramatizes and clarifies one of the greatest scandals in the ongoing war between pharma and the alternative natural remedies it labels “quackery”, but which tend to look better and better in mainstream lab research.

Rather miraculously, Second Opinion manages to be riveting despite being essentially nothing more than the testimony of one talking head, the whistleblower in the affair, Ralph W. Moss.

Moss, luckily, has the lively charisma and intelligence to carry the film through seventy six minutes of revelation, aided by images and footage illustrating his story – their own research results that were denied by the poobahs of a great research hospital, their false testimony to the press and to Congress, and the family who backed him in his youthful decision not to lie to keep “the best job I ever had”.

Playing politics with science

The absorbing film dissects the fairly disgraceful attempt by the rulers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the great cancer research and treatment temple in Manhattan, to bury studies by one of their own, a very respected (pioneer of chemotherapy) scientist named Kanematsu Sugiura. His experiments with mice inconveniently showed that the much maligned “quack remedy” Laetrile actually had value, and should have been pursued with further research.

Instead, the research hospital’s administrators arranged to fold his study in a paper of their own (for the Journal of Surgical Oncology 10:89-123, 1978. C.C.Stock et al: Antitumor Tests of Amygdalin in Spontaneous Animal Tumor Systems) which denied that Laetrile had any value and suggested that Sugiura, a grand old man of science who had been with them for nearly sixty years, was mistaken. The further studies added saw his positive results vanish amid skulduggery – “a funny thing happened”, as the Dr Sugiera put it to the press – which mixed up groups of mice and swapped their feeding solutions.

The conclusion of their published paper was the opposite of the truth: Laetrile had nothing to offer. Or as MSK president (and director of Squibb pharmaceuticals) Lewis Thomas put it, testifying in July 1977 at Senator Kennedy’s hearing on Laetrile, the data showed that “Laetrile is without any effect at all.”

Public humiliation of an honest researcher

At the huge press conference mounted in June 1977 to satisfy outsiders on this point, video of which director Eric Merola has miraculously unearthed, the unfortunate Sugiura is seen both inclined to be loyal and politely agree with his employers, yet quietly refusing to renounce his own findings. “Of course, my results don’t agree, but I agree with what my institution says.”

But asked pointblank by reporters if he stood by his results, he replies, “Yes, I stick.”

He added, “I hope somebody will confirm my results later on.”

Meanwhile the preprints of the group paper in which his work was buried were placed by the PR staff behind a curtain so that reporters would use the misleading summary a young science writer at Sloan-Kettering Ralph W. Moss, 34, was forced to author.

The politics inside medical science

This is not quite as much of a blatant embarrassment as the just preceding Sloan-Kettering scandal of the seventies, where William Summerlin used a Magic Marker to darken mice in a bogus demonstration that he had transplanted skin successfully between them.

But this history of the top brass at Memorial Sloan Kettering caught red handed trying to suppress the good results of the ancient and gentle Dr Kanematsu Sugiura is educational for all who might think that the medical community, even today, welcomes studies indicating that natural remedies have potential, though these have accumulated into a small mountain of paper in the forty years since Laetrile was politically defeated.

None of this scientific trickery would have emerged into the light of day except for the integrity and bravery of a young whistleblower on the pr staff of the renowned hospital-research institute from 1974 to 1977. Ralph W. Moss, now 71, was a bright young Stanford Ph.D and classicist hired to master the arcane labyrinth of modern cancer research and translate it for the press. He had the distasteful assignment of blandly peddling the false impression favored by the brass that Dr Sugiura’s results were contradicted by tests at another institution. Being new to science and medical politics, and a young man of unusual integrity, he didn’t take kindly to the role of compromising the truth. Nor did his wife Martha, who said “They want somebody who is going to lie? That is not you!”

So Moss became a mole for truthseekers in the press. He slipped the papers of the esteemed Dr Sugiura that showed that Laetrile (actually the naturally occurring chemical amygdalin drawn from apricot and peach pits, and the kernels of bitter European almonds) was far from useless to the New York Times, but Jane Brody’s front page revelation of the affair (4 Cancer Centers Find No Proof of Therapy Value in Illegal Drug Mon Jul 21 1975) was the reverse of what Moss hoped for – not even mentioning Dr Sugiura (whom Brody didn’t interview, Moss noticed), denying that any positive results could be duplicated and crediting the research of notorious Laetrile enemy Daniel S. Martin at the Catholic Medical Center in Queens which supposedly proved Dr Sugiura wrong, but which was later shown to be based on faulty cancer assays.

Laetrile – a promising direction

As the film shows, Sugiura had in fact found the much maligned Laetrile did not cure but did work very well in slowing breast cancer, curbing new tumors, preventing pain in significantly many test mice, and stopping the deadly spread to the lungs (11 per cent suffered this compared to 89 per cent in one test). Their health and appearance was markedly improved. Moreover, there were two other scientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering who had got similar positive results for Laetrile. Franz Schmid found that even 40mg, a fiftieth of the dose (2000 mg per kilo of body weight) used by Sugiura, extended the life of the mice after they were given cancer by half. Elizabeth Stockert’s results also matched Sugiura’s, all confirmed by the five pathologists that counted lesions and tumors at Sloan-Kettering.

In fact, on July 2nd 1974 the top leaders of Sloan-Kettering (Lewis Thomas, Robert Good, Chester Stock and Lloyd Old) visited with the NCI and FDA in a large meeting to persuade them to allow clinical trials, and it was agreed to consider trials to treat cancer and relieve pain, and “the FDA will publicly endorse good research on amygdalin as in the public interest.”

Federal sun turns to wind and rain

But a later, bigger meeting at NCI on March 4th 1975, with higher ranking NCI officials, was attended by Daniel Martin of CMC, newly a national quackbuster and adamant opponent of Laetrile, and federal permission for trials was cancelled. To Moss’s bafflement, with the exception of Lloyd Old, the head of research, with no change in the science his top officials’ tune changed to “misrepresentations and egregious lies” claiming Laetrile had no virtue whatsoever. Chester Stock, director of the Sloan-Kettering’s Walker labs told the press “We have found Laetrile negative in all the animal systems we have tested.” It was at this point Moss realized there was a “cover-up”.

Only Lloyd Old responded to his concerns. As Moss sat in Old’s office, the head of research said to him “Do you want to know where we get all of our new ideas?” and took down a copy of the American Cancer Society’s Unproven Methods of Cancer Management which blacklisted Laetrile and other innovations as quackery. “This is the Bible!”

Moss says that “scientifically speaking, this was the most mind blowing moment of my life!” Later, he reports, Old handled his inner conflict by holidaying in Tahiti when Sloan-Kettering had its press conference, where as the film shows every one of its leaders present from Lewis Thomas down had to lie convincingly to 100 reporters and cameras, and did so with great acting skill.

After Brody’s failure to present the correct science a doubly disenchanted Moss sent the research in mid 1975 to the main Laetrile lobbying group, but they turned out to have too many members from the extreme right wing John Birch Society, which didn’t help gain traction. So Moss turned to a small left wing group, Science For The People, run by physician-activist named Alec Pruchnicki, and formed the secretly authored Second Opinion movement, to produce an underground sheet for employees at Sloan-Kettering to write anonymously about work issues, which became a must read for all managers on the day it was distributed.

Six months after the press conference held by Sloan-Kettering Moss wrote a 30,000 word monograph correcting the deceptions of his top brass. He decided to hold a press conference about it at the New York Hilton, with the head of Science for the People and others to speak. When assigned by his boss at the research center to spy on it, he confessed that he was the lead speaker. Next day, he described what had really happened with Laetrile research at Sloane-Kettering, a devastating account of corporate deceit in reporting scientific research. “Laetrile in fact is better than all the known anti-cancer drugs. All told, there were 20 positive experiments between 1972 and 1977”. Ultimately, he blamed “the profit system” for the scandal.

The brouhaha and the allegations of cover up landed on the front page of the New York Post, and his boss, Gerald Delaney, finally fired him when he came in on Monday, for “betraying the trust placed in him as a member of the public affairs department of this cancer center,” as he told the New York Times. Meanwhile the papers and statements from Second Opinion were “irresponsible and totally incorrect”.

Moss felt devastated by what seemed “so unfair” – that “an institution ostensibly devoted to seeking scientific truth” should behave in this way. Sloan-Kettering padlocked his filing cabinet and two armed guards told him never to enter the building again. But his wife says she was proud to be his wife, and Sugiura sent him a letter congratulating him on the accuracy of his report.

In the end, all the men who sold out science at the renowned institution have passed away, and as Moss notes, all of them died of cancer.

Ralph Moss as cancer reporter

The public is fortunate that Moss was kicked out from what he has described as perhaps “the best job I ever had”. The radical classicist went on to carve out a prominent place in cancer research information as perhaps its best consultant and writer. He described the notorious but soon forgotten Sloan-Kettering affair in a chapter of his 1980 book on The Cancer Industry and has now returned to the topic in a new book devoted to the battle, Doctored Results, published in February. He has become an unusually useful and widely respected source, publishing 12 books on cancer research and treatment and building a 35 year record of researching the best available treatment for all major types of cancer, and currently writing the Moss Reports, impartially assessing conventional and unconventional research and experience for over 200 cancer diagnoses.

His writing and editing has appeared in publications on both sides of the battle to reform medicine, from JAMA and the Lancet to the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, including a monthly column on the “War on Cancer” for the Townsend Letter. He has even been back to lecture as an honoree at Sloan-Kettering, as well as many other medical centers here and abroad, with a slew of awards and honors around the world. He was invited by Harold Varmus who was then director of the NIH, in 1994 to sit on the NIH Alternative Medicine Advisory Council and help found the Office of Alternative Medicine, although this unfortunately has failed to live up to its ambitious charter since.

Why this movie matters

To revisit this storm in a fine china teapot may seem irrelevant forty years later, when Laetrile has been replaced in interest by numerous other plant substances. Especially in the last twenty years, peer reviewed studies in major centers around the world (even by institutions as deeply established as the Mayo Clinic) have shown that substances as common as green tea, resveratrol, curcumin (in turmeric) and the ubiquitous plant flavonoid quercetin might well have or even provably do have beneficial effects in humans in regard to cancer and other major ailments. But mainstream medicine is still not enthusiastic about using them: evidently, the same system flaws are at work.

Whether viewers of this unusual documentary will get its real message seems uncertain, since it spends little time on who’s to blame, and what should be done about a medical cancer research system clearly still in the pocket of big pharma. On this there is but the one telling quote that comes at the end. “Nobody is going to pay $70,000 for a new cancer drug if they can buy Laetrile for 75 cents.” – William W. Vodra, Former Associate Chief Counsel for Drugs, FDA.

The film’s bottom line message is that Memorial Sloan-Kettering should correct the record, and Laetrile should be revisited and properly assessed. Unlike chemotherapy it is not toxic, by the way, contrary to the impression given by Wikipedia. Raw (not roast, marzipan is made in Europe from roast bitter almonds) apricot kernels in huge amounts (more than sixty, say, at 0.5 mg each)) are toxic and even fatal to take orally (the enzymes release cyanide from the molecule) but purified Laetrile itself (amygdalin, C(20)H(27)NO(11)) is perfectly safe in reasonable amounts to take orally, one gram per day, say, in a human. (Given the way cyanide works, nothing much will happen to you if you eat fewer than sixty apricot pits at once, since the body is able to detoxify them in lesser amounts).

Whether current Sloan-Kettering executives will be prepared to take responsibiity for their predecessors misleading the press and public seems highly improbable given that the forces that made them do so are still in place and more powerful than ever. But the crying need to have clinical trials for Laetrile is well established by this careful account of a political crime against good science. As Moss says “to this day, if there are any better agents that have been proven as effective at preventing the spread of cancer they are unknown to me.”

Merola’s Corrective Moviemaking

This is Merola’s second major documentary of this kind, factually supporting pioneers in medical research against unscientific repression of their results. He made the excellent movie about Burzynski, Burzynski! , the Polish anti-cancer pioneer, in 2010, illuminating the excesses of the FDA in persecuting that independent researcher regardless of his promising and now officially validated results in countering brain cancer, something established medicine is largely unable to do. This important movie can be seen free at the Dr. Mercola site A full transcript is available at Burzynski! transcript A part II was completed and released in March this year, see Burzynski Movie. In June the FDA acknowledged the safety and efficacy of Burzynski’s “antineoplastons” and allowed Phase III trials.

Here is the trailer, which is worth watching:

How to catch the film, its director and its star source
Reviews and other responses to film

Almost Everything Human Is Animal, Though Scientists Still Deny It

July 6th, 2014

By Anthony Liversidge

Times Magazine Salutes Soulful Zoo Inmates Afflicted with Depression, Anxiety

Halberstadt Reports Scientists After Centuries Still Reluctant To Face Reality

Conformists Whisper to Him They Knew It All Along, but Dare Not Speak Up

Today’s piece in the New York Times Magazine – Zoo Animals and Their Discontents – is something of a breakthrough, since Alex Halberstadt (edited by Jillian Dunham) lets us know that zoo animals suffer from depression and other emotional malaise just like human prisoners, and are successfully treated by a behavioral psychologist, Dr Vint Virga, who reads their body language expertly and comforts them sometimes with no more than his constant presence and friendly support.

This level of understanding of animals as conscious, self conscious, sentient and emotional beings may be practiced without thought by every pet owner but has been a sticking point for scientists since Descartes and Spinoza, Halberstadt notes. Even today many scientists confuse it with anthropomorphism, or the projection of our own ideas and emotions on animals when we interpret their behavior. Such is the sanction of scorn and derision attached to such a mistake that scientists don’t dare acknowledge the obvious, which is that animals are indeed human in basic respects because after all humans are first and foremost animals.

The bias against animal sentience is hardly recent. Descartes famously wrote that “the reason why animals do not speak as we do is not that they lack the organs but that they have no thoughts.” Spinoza claimed that human reluctance to slaughter animals is “founded rather on vain superstition and womanish pity than on sound reason.” The notion of animals as unthinking automatons has enjoyed curious staying power; one form it has taken is a tendency to study animal behavior to the exclusion of thoughts and feelings. The Oxford Companion to Animal Behaviour, a longstanding reference, cautions behaviorists that “one is well advised to study the behaviour, rather than attempting to get at any underlying emotion.”

Needless to say animals (dogs, birds, dolphins, octopuses) cannot reason as effectively or use the language of words as well as humans (though in some respects some can compete with a four year old) and their social impulses may vary widely from human in direction and consummation (humans do not actually eat their step progeny unlike lions) but the days when Descartes and Spinoza could write that animals were thoughtless automatons without feelings are long behind us. Science has been busy proving the obvious in this field for a number of years now.

The notion that animals think and feel may be rampant among pet owners, but it makes all kinds of scientific types uncomfortable. “If you ask my colleagues whether animals have emotions and thoughts,” says Philip Low, a prominent computational neuroscientist, “many will drop their voices to a whisper or simply change the subject. They don’t want to touch it.” Jaak Panksepp, a professor at Washington State University, has studied the emotional responses of rats. “Once, not very long ago,” he said, “you couldn’t even talk about these things with colleagues.”

That may be changing. A profusion of recent studies has shown animals to be far closer to us than we previously believed — it turns out that common shore crabs feel and remember pain, zebra finches experience REM sleep, fruit-fly brothers cooperate, dolphins and elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, chimpanzees assist one another without expecting favors in return and dogs really do feel elation in their owners’ presence.

Of course, close watchers of Nova and other PBS programs already know many more examples of the extraordinary mental and emotional life of our fellow animals. The latest series of three was one of the most impressive: NOVA: Inside Animals Minds.

At the end of the final segment, Who’s The Smartest?, a group of Australian divers filming giant Manta rays was approached out of the dark by a dolphin wrapped in a fishing line with a hook in its fin, and in response one of the divers was able to remove the hook and line from the animal, which returned to the surface during the seven minute process to get more air before finally swimming away freed of the hook and line which it never could have achieved by itself or with the help of another dolphin.

Saying that it waved its tail in gratitude might be anthropomorphism, but there was no doubt that a high level of interspecies communication had occurred, along the lines of, “Can you free me of this entanglement?” “Yes, sure!”

The Cambridge Declaration

In 2012, a public statement was signed by leading animal researchers to emphasize the findings of the latest research:

In the summer of 2012, an unprecedented document, masterminded by Low — “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Human and Nonhuman Animals” — was signed by a group of leading animal researchers in the presence of Stephen Hawking. It asserted that mammals, birds and other creatures like octopuses possess consciousness and, in all likelihood, emotions and self-awareness. Scientists, as a rule, don’t issue declarations. But Low claims that the new research, and the ripples of unease it has engendered among rank-and-file colleagues, demanded an emphatic gesture. “Afterward, an eminent neuroanatomist came up to me and said, ‘We were all thinking this, but were afraid to say it,’ ” Low recalled.

The Declaration ended thus: “the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.” It was publicly proclaimed on July 7, 2012, at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non Human Animals at Churchill College, Cambridge, and the signing that evening in front of Stephen Hawking at the Hotel du Vin was filmed by CBS Sixty Minutes.

Scientists in denial

Why this should be necessary when every Internet surfer is aware of how elephants take their ritual leave of a dead companion, and every Economist reader read the obituary of Irene Pepperberg’s African grey parrot Alex which appeared in its pages otherwise devoted to influential politicians, businessmen and thinkers, is hard to say.

Alex’s cognitive and expressive abilities were astounding to those unfamiliar with the intelligence of African greys: he learned 200 word labels to describe the color shape and material of objects and when asked what he wanted for breakfast would choose what fruit he preferred. If brought the wrong one, a banana, say, he would object, “No, apple!”

A lot of scientists still in denial may be clinging to the supposed superiority of man over beast, or justifying their distasteful cruelty in experimenting on monkeys’ brains. But in general it seems to be theoretical conformity to the ruling idea and fear of sanction if they step out of line. They remain as faithful to the shared notion as the followers of Aristotle did for two millennia, until surgeons and scientists decided to look at the evidence of the real world.

For Philip Low, the Cambridge Declaration was aimed directly at the Cartesian prejudice against nonhumans. “The term ‘animal’ is simply an excuse not to look at something,” Low argues, citing eugenics, phrenology and “scientific” racism as byproducts of the tendency to elevate humans — especially certain humans — over other beings. Some scientists have criticized Low for not consulting with more colleagues before issuing the declaration. “Whom did Descartes consult before making his declaration?” Low asked me.

The hero of this fine article is Vint Verga, the behavioral psychologist who attends to zoo patients so well, who has been reading animals’ body language as evidence of their inner state since he was a child, a child who found pets understood him better than his own family.

Mostly, Virga enjoyed being alone in nature, or with animals. “They understood me better than my family,” he says. “I was shy and had a hard time figuring out what to say to people, so at parties I would gravitate toward the cat or dog. I still do.”

The story of how his breakaway conviction was formed is quite moving in itself, an instance of how great a connection there can be between dog and man without words:

The dog was dying. Virga looked in on him at 3 a.m., after a busy emergency-room shift was over and the clinic had finally gone quiet. If anything, Pongo’s condition had worsened. Resigned, Virga sat on the floor beside him; he filled out medical records while leaving his other hand draped loosely around the dog. Virga was exhausted and engrossed in the paperwork, and an hour passed before he noticed that Pongo’s pulse had grown stronger and movement was returning to his body. By the time the sun had come up, Pongo was nuzzling in Virga’s lap and licking his hand.

Virga had been an emergency-room vet for four years and yet, poring over the dog’s chart, he could find no sound medical reason for Pongo’s recovery. He couldn’t escape the conviction that medicine had little to do with it, that it had been the physical contact and the closeness that effected the sudden change.

Herd of donkeys

Virga has little appetite for dealing with what he calls the religion of scientists, who resist the changing nature of our notions about animals and their interiors because they are stuck mentally, conforming to the group rule which dictates expulsion if they think otherwise. But Virga was one who broke away from convention when he saw that group assumptions didn’t match his experience:

For a behaviorist at a zoo, striking a balance between hard science and drawing reasonable parallels between human and animal suffering may be the only avenue toward effectively diagnosing afflictions and treating patients. Virga told me that encountering misgivings about anthropomorphism once made him timid about expressing his convictions. “But we get to a point in our careers when we say, this is what I feel. And now my job is to prove it.” He says that he could not be effective at his job without understanding animals as individuals with complex psychological lives. “In behavioral work, there are no lab tests,” he says. “But medicine is subjective. Sure, when you interpret behaviors, there’s a leap there. But there’s also a leap when you read an ultrasound.” The debate between skeptics and believers, he says, is akin to arguments about religion, and he’s not eager to engage. “Sometimes a scientist will ask me, ‘What are your data points?’ ” he said. “But if we accept that animals are self-aware beings and have emotions, they are no longer data points. No amount of data points will explain identity.”

Just how entrenched is the fear of losing funds for joining in what is wrongly viewed as anthropomorphism in crediting the new evidence is made plain. It is a prejudice solid enough to resist the influence of spouses and children and the rest of the public, all of whom almost certainly believe otherwise:

Yet avoiding anthropomorphism at all costs may be the main cause of the schism between scientists and the public in the debate about animal sentience. “Most reasonable people will be on the side of animals being sentient creatures despite the absence of conclusive evidence,” Jaak Panksepp told me. “But scientists tend to be skeptics. And, in this field, it pays to be a skeptic if you want to get your research funded.” Irene Pepperberg recalls receiving comments from colleagues on an early grant proposal to study verbal comprehension in African grays: “One of the notes was ‘What is this woman smoking?’ ”

Willful blindness

An interesting comment by a philosopher is thrown in to account for this tendency of scientists to deny what they could see with their own eyes:

The philosopher Thomas Nagel, who wrote the seminal essay “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” used a term for the tendency to deny the existence of phenomena that cannot be proved empirically. “Scientism,” he wrote in 1986, “puts one type of human understanding in charge of the universe and what can be said about it. At its most myopic, it assumes that everything there is must be understandable by the employment of scientific theories like those we have developed to date — physics and evolutionary biology are the current paradigms — as if the present age were not just another in the series.”

Scientism or not it is such an outdated notion that animals are not sentient or thoughtful or emotionally complex creatures that it has become a blot on the reputation of science.

Virga in ignoring such misgivings has opened up a field where animals are understood to be suffering from anxieties and phobias in the same way as we do. He has cured a giraffe of its fear of large cameras with zoom lens, and an aoudad (Barbary sheep) frantic over the loss of its tail, as well as helped to further the reform of zookeeping from negative (hoses, prods, dart guns) to positive reinforcement (clicks, treats) to get the animals to cooperate, amid the reform of enclosures from concrete pits to natural surroundings. One important asset he promotes is a place to get out of sight of the audience, which Virga feels is essential for the animals’ psychological welfare.

All these bring relief to animals that have long been tormented by pitiless life sentences in crummy living conditions and abuse at least partly due to the conformist conservatism of scientists who should know better. Aristotle two thousands years ago ordained that women had fewer teeth than men, without bothering to check the mouth of his own wife. Today there is very little excuse to do likewise in conforming to a theoretical objection to what Virga and so many others have shown is an emotional life in animals to match humans which can be understood by anyone who learns their body language.

After all, Darwin himself was one of the great observer of animals’ emotions in his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals published as long ago as 1872.

Many comments

Meanwhile, once again the biggest problem in a field is the resolute conformity of scientists to an outdated notion. We couldn’t help posting a Comment on the piece as follows, to join the 260 other Comments allowed so far:

Surely there is a very big lesson in this report of a trend in science toward realizing that animals share so much more in common with us than they lack. It is that group thinking distorts science as often as it does every other field.

Why let scientists off the hook for their long established blindness to the body language of animals just because they whisper to the author that they knew that animals were so much more all along, but did not dare to say so out loud?

How scientific was it to be unable to see what was in front of their noses – don’t any of them have pets!? – all in the cause of supposed scientific objectivity? Aristotle is famous for insisting that women have fewer teeth than men without looking into his wife’s mouth to see if this was true. But that was 2000 years ago. Now we have modern professional science, where there is no excuse for ignoring evidence in favor of theoretical preconceptions.

The sad truth is that scientists have been in denial for centuries on this front, and many still are, and it is not the only example where scientists stick to ideas which are out of date and downright wrong because they want to stay in line. Ask any Nobel winner.

In an era of massive group science split into tiny specialties we have to be more wary than ever before of conformist thinking in science in the cause of bad ideas.

From the sound of Virga’s personality, we bet that The Soul of All Living Creatures, Virga’s recent book, published a year ago, is a must read.

Bottom line: Times news editors must wake up, too

But kudos to the Times for pointing out discreetly how scientists from groups which subscribe to fatheaded notions which they then stick to for centuries in the face of new evidence and a rather obvious conflict with the reality they deal with daily.

Perhaps the editors should consider what other notions scientists have peddled to them as gospel which also conflict with the news that the Times itself reports on the topic.

A good place to start would be the constant reiteration of the phrase “HIV, the virus that causes AIDS”, given that the seminal articles by a leading scientist in the top journals rejecting this still unproven notion published twenty eight years ago have never been answered in the same journals or successfully contradicted elsewhere.

Book Expo 2014 Preview: Cornucopia at Javits Will Include Science Gems

May 13th, 2014

By Anthony Liversidge (May 13 2014)

Books still unmatched for depth of information and imagination

University presses come to fore, as Harvard tops list with Piketty’s Capital

New York’s show of the year for literati and fans

There is a boom in on line video, with Netflix accounting for as much as 40 percent of US peak downloading, and Youtube and sites such as Snagfilms, Putlocker and Topdocumentaryfilms offering a vast array of documentaries. But we celebrate real, physical books, which remain the widest and deepest source of information and entertainment for serious readers – artifacts, once in hand, that are faster to search through and more authoritative than Google, more stable visually, easier to mark, more pleasurable to spend time with, and less subject to endless distraction. Ebooks come a close second, of course: they miss out on a lot of these advantages but they have three huge ones – portability, the instant accessibility of a vast library, and electronic text search.

So once again in 2014 we welcome back Book Expo at Javits as New York City’s show of the year. Nothing matches it for the number and variety of stimulating ideas and stories wrapped in the delightful form of new printed books.

The blockbuster size of this upcoming treasure house of fact and fiction (which runs from Wed 28th to Sat 31st May for conferences and Thu 29th May to Sat for exhibits (8am-5pm except Sat 3pm, with remainders shown on Wed)) is daunting, however, even for attendees in search of special interests, such as science, politics, and economics, let alone those seeking jewels of literature.

Selections to look for

Here are some of the best upcoming or recent science, politics and economics releases we will be looking for:

The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life by Alex Bellos (Simon and Schuster June 10 2014) may be the most discursive, anecdote and example packed treatise on mathematics and humanity ever, from the UK Guardian’s math blogger who became a curator at the Science Museum after an Oxford degree in mathematics and philosophy. With a seemingly insatiable curiosity Bellos explores every nook and cranny of math and number lore from past to present in an extraordinary tour de force.

The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science by Will Storr (Overlook Press, March 6 2014) examines the capacity of unconventional thinkers to cling to radical notions in the face of scorn and derision from the mainstream and then rationalize them so expertly that the inexpert cannot fathom who is right – sometimes even the expert is lost. While exploring the way our minds work to resist change – the psychology of belief – Storr is sympathetic to radical thinkers and does not demonize them, however tenaciously they hold to extreme beliefs, leaving the reader to consider whether they may have a point. After all, most Nobel prizes are won by radical thinkers, often scorned in the early years of their achievements.

Capital in the Twenty First Century by Thomas Piketty (Harvard, 696 pp, March 10 2014), a young French economist who has turned assumptions upside down. He has thoroughly researched the tax records of the last two centuries in France and elsewhere to topple dogma and show that unless war, depression and tough unions interfere, the natural state of unleashed capitalism is to reward capitalists more and more and workers less and less, just as Marx predicted. The recent 30 years of growing inequality is simply the inevitable trend says Piketty, as the return on investment tends to outpace growth in the economy, and untaxed inheritance multiplies the gains for the rich. The new Gilded Age now upon us can only be reversed by major taxes on riches and inherited wealth, he argues, in this academically accurate but highly readable (though the economics can be technical) 700 page book which after 200,000 copies initially Harvard is racing to reprint as it sits at the top of the best seller list. The best review is by Paul Krugman in the New York Review of Books, where he joins Joseph Stieglitz and other economists and liberal reviewers in praising it to the skies as seminal. Activists are adopting it as a major manual for the future of politics and government, and columnists for business periodicals such as the Financial Times are working hard to refute its message.

Wade has left the Times where he reported orthodox ideas to champion bold notions that upset the orthodox A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History by Nicholas Wade (288pp Penguin, May 6). A longtime reporter on orthodoxy and complacent editorial writer for the New York Times has returned to his roots, as it were, once again provoking orthodox science (his first book was entitled Betrayers of the Truth), this time by advocating “bold ideas which lie outside the consensus”, as evolutionary geneticist H. Allen Orr puts it in the New York Review of Books. Wade’s explosive and improbable thesis is that since the genes of humans vary somewhat by continental location, Tibetans, for example, being adapted genetically to high altitudes, some behavioral differences may also have evolved by natural selection from different circumstances, and that the “five major races” may now differ genetically in social behavior – level of violence, trust in strangers, innovation, conformity, accumulation of wealth etc – and social institutions because of it. Wade emphasizes that his ideas are speculative and are not currently backed by hard science, though they are superficially intriguing, since they could help to explain the rise of the West and decline of Islam and China, or the intellectual success of the Jews. But reviewers point to North and South Korea as counter examples where presumably identical genes have been overwhelmed by cultural differences in a very short time. A provocative discussion by a dedicated reporter having his own say at last, having broken free from group restrictions.

Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes by Svante Paabo (Basic Books, 288pp, Feb 11) reviewed by Steven Mithen in the New York Review of Books as a “fabulous account of three decades of research into ancient DNA” which ended with the publication of the Neanderthal genome in 2010, “to be compared to The Double Helix” as a strong personal account of scientific discovery, and history of a new scientific field.

Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen Dubner (William Morrow, 288 pp, May 12). The inimitable duo of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics blew up standard assumptions in economics by applying first principles and curiosity. Now they return with a book which uses magic tricks and other examples to rise to the meta level and teach adults how to abandon basic assumptions and expectations and think like a child, ie just like Einstein. The chapter on persuasion is worth the price of the book (first principle is to tell a story).

Promoting the Planck Club: How defiant youth, irreverent researchers and liberated universities can foster prosperity indefinitely by Donald Braben, (Wiley Feb 19 238 pp) who demonstrates that in the history of science almost all the good radical notions have come from the heretics that the orthodoxy is always trying to repress. With science these days mostly funded and authorized by peer review committee either at the NIH or in private companies the book is a wake up call to the public to ensure that the fringe (a.k.a.the cutting edge) receives proper funding. It is also one of the most definitive works on how creativity flourishes in individuals in science in far more liberated and innovative fashion than in groups.

Brain Rules by John Medina (Pear Press, 301 pp, April 22) If you need it, a molecular biologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine who founded two brain research institutes has written a popular guide to how to fine tune your brain, which replaces hype with scientific research. Attention deficit starts at ten minutes for all. Multi tasking is futile. Exercise colossally reduces risk of dementia and Alzheimers. Learn why and how to nap!

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz, (Simon and Schuster, 496 pp, May 13) a New Yorker, Economist and New York Times writer who follows Gary Taubes in thoroughly reviewing and rejecting thirty years of misplaced emphasis on fat in dieting, in his case as a cause of obesity, in her case as threatening heart disease. “How overzealous researchers and … premature institutional consensus allowed dangerous misrepresentations to become dietary dogma.” “Tracks how a hypothesis morphs into truth without the benefit of supporting data”.

 Julian Simon won the bet, but would he now? The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and our gamble over Earth’s future by Paul Sabin (Yale University Press, 320pp, Sep 3 2013) revisits the famous bet that the Earth would run out of resources to support the modern economy, which Julian Simon won in 1990 after ten years when technology advanced more rapidly than resources (five metals) dwindled. Now Sabin suggests that we have run out of time, soon technology will be unable to keep pace, and a crisis looms. Especially interesting as a record of politics in a scientific dispute and “how intelligent people are drawn to vilify their opponents and to reduce the issue that they care about to stark and divisive terms” (Publishers Weekly).

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte (Sarah Crichton Books, 368 pp, March 11) deals with one of the biggest mysteries in current economics, why after a half century of growth we all seem to have less leisure than ever – in fact, seem to be on 24/7. A four page review in the New Yorker by Elizabeth Kolbert notes that John Maynard Keynes in 1931 in “Economic Possibilities” predicted the opposite – that in fact by this date growth would have plunged us into the doldrums of so much leisure we wouldn’t know what to do with it. The answer seems to be that we are caught up in a spiral of ever advancing materialism and will have to get off the train before we can stand still and smell the roses in our back garden, rather than those imported from Ecuador.

General interest picks:

In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman (Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 512 pp, Apr 22) An epic debut which has drawn a plethora of praise all over, from critics and readers, peaking with an admiring three pages by James Wood in the New Yorker (May 19, p87) which labeled it a “dazzling” five hundred pages of rich philosophical musing in elegantly clear English on how the privilege of high intelligence and education on top of distant birth makes for difficulties in class, knowledge and belonging. A Balliol scholar and banker of Pakistani heritage but brought up in America Rahman’s gift for clear, unusually intelligent story telling is apparent from the start, where he mentions Godel in the first three pages, and much other science as he goes along, making more famous novelists look like slurry mixers.

The Double Life of Paul de Man by Evelyn Barish (Liveright, 560pp, March 17) treats the odd case of the notorious literary theorist who was exposed as a great liar in his personal life, confounding his supporters when it was revealed 25 years ago. Louis Menand reviewed this new biography extensively in the New Yorker in The De Man Case and suggested that de Man was clearly a sociopath who deserved condemnation for his actions but that this didn’t invalidate his writing. Others, however, feel that his academic prominence in the US after World War II was achieved by playing self serving political games outside the realm of truth seeking which helped distract attention from his own corruption, which included anti-Semitic wartime articles, embezzlement, falsifying his academic record, bigamy and abandoning his children.

Every Trick in the Book by Charlie Dancey (Overlook Press, 720pp, Feb 7, 2013) a guide to very practical magic tricks, and Great Sayings (Overlook Press Oct 1, 2012), a fine batch of historical and contemporary quotes from Britain, are past picks from Overlook, but the publishers enduring claim to fame is its ongoing reissuing of all of the perfectly phrased works of the celebrated and finest British comic writer P.G. Wodehouse (91 reprints and counting) in very handy and handsome small hardback volumes. The Collectors Wodehouse Series is the first complete edition by any one publisher, corrected for errors, typeset in Caslon, printed on acid-free paper and bound in full cloth, with cleverly suitable dust jackets by Andrzej Klimowksi.

Show schedule:

The Press Room is open 1-5pm Wed and 8am-5pm Thu and Fri, 8am-3pm Sat; Customer Service is 1800-840-5614 or Consumers may come to the show on Sat only at BookCon though VIP Badge buyers get into the kickoff event panel discussion (Tina Fey) on and a sneak peek at the movie “This is Where I leave You”, plus “exclusive happy hour” on Friday and first access to seating for Martin Short on Saturday.

Huge number of signings

There will be over five hundred and fifty authors signing their books, as well as author breakfasts and teas(tickets required) in the Special Events Hall (Angelica Huston and Tavis Smiley 8am Thu, Dick Cavett Fri 4pm, Martin Short 8 am Sat), a bloggers conference (Wed), innumerable speakers and panelists on one of four stages discussing topics such as advantages of mainstream publishing (Thu 3pm Midtown stage), graphic novels (Thu 4pm Uptown Stage) and how to edit a translation (Sat 10 am East Side stage with Ann Goldstein of the New Yorker).

Book blogging and self publishing

Tyro bloggers may find use tips and leads at the Book Blogger conference on Wednesday ($145 before May 15, $175 after; includes breakfast and boxed lunch). All nine of the conference advisory board are female bloggers.

For self publishing authors there is a self publishing event – uPublishU – all day Sat 9am-4pm which aims to help with marketing; it demands a $215 registration for attendance plus box lunch ($115 early bird before May 15) where Kobo Writing Life are offering a free head shot (sign up before May 19).

Attendees should pay more attention to the new title showcase which has been moved from the Siberia of its former location outside the show ropes to a floor location, where perhaps it will be explored more often and more respectfully. There are always some titles worth looking into.

The show planner is here.

A warning note: apparently the organizers worry about fan behavior and have out up a warning notice on harassment policy (though in our experience, the greater danger is the people who will walk off with your bag if you put it down for a few seconds to talk with a booth person – the year before last, it was that booth person who alerted us to the miscreant, a short woman with an Eastern European accent whom we chased and reasserted our prior ownership in decisive fashion):

Harassment of any kind, including stalking, deliberate intimidation, unwelcome physical attention, physical assault and battery, will not be tolerated at BookCon. If it’s illegal outside the convention center, it’s illegal inside the convention center. Harassment is grounds for removal from BookCon without refund as well as potential legal action. We want BookCon to be a safe environment for all Fans, and if you find yourself victim of harassment at the convention please come immediately to BookCon’s Show Office.

Enjoy it while it lasts – in NYC

A sad note: it appears that after next year the show will not be at Javits any longer. The announced dates are:
2015 Thursday, May 28 – Saturday, May 30 at the Javits Center in NYC
2016 Thursday, May 12- Saturday, May 14 in Chicago

We hope not. Given that the city is the center of publishing and media in the US, we trust that the only reason to move to Chicago is they need more space and perhaps lower fees for an even larger celebration of the leading role in literate life still played by the physical book.

A few quotations about books

There has been plenty of room for comment on the role of the book and how to write one over the past few centuries. Here are random quotes to bear in mind:

One of the greatest creations of the human mind is the art of reviewing books without having read them. – Georg C. Lichtenberg

Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books. – Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

The understanding between a non-technical writer and his reader is that he shall talk more or less like a human being and not like an Act of Parliament. I take it that the aim of such books must be to convey exact thought in inexact language… he can never succeed without the co-operation of the reader. – Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (Messenger Lectures (1934), New Pathways in Science (1935), 279.)

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new at all. – Abraham Lincoln

Until I became a published writer, I remained completely ignorant of books on how to write and courses on the subject … they would have spoiled my natural style; made me observe caution; would have hedged me with rules. – Isaac Asimov (Isaac Asimov and Janet Asimov (ed.), It’s Been a Good Life (2002), p38.)

Wisdom is not wisdom when it is derived from books alone. – Horace

Henry Heimlich’s Maneuvers – Hero or Charlatan?

April 20th, 2014

Was Heimlich Wacky or Misunderstood in Later Years with “Malariotherapy”?

Son Peter Reports Heimlich is a Fraud Who May Not Even Have Invented Famous Choking Rescue

Red Cross Still Insists Back Slaps Are the Answer

NPR’s Radiolab drew attention last year (November 2 2013) to the Heimlich saga. The hero who invented the way to expel lumps of food lodged in the windpipe by embracing the suffocating victim from behind and jerking one’s fists into his or her diaphragm became a household word with the success of his advice worldwide, where it has saved countless victims from dying in restaurants, including Goldie Hawn and other celebrities.

Unfortunately Heimlich apparently went somewhat wacky in his later years. Among other ideas he suggest extending the Heimlich maneuver to drowning victims, asthma sufferers, cystic fibrosis, and using malaria to accelerate the immune system to then expel the so-called AIDS virus from the system. Critics answered that this would only induce the waterlogged to swallow their own vomit, without clearing their lungs (which reportedly do not contain much water), and the procedure would be similarly useless in clearing the lungs of asthma and cystic fibrosis mucus.

Eminent authorities in the field of AIDS such as Dr Anthony Fauci of NIAID dismissed the malaria therapy as “atrocious”. Such was the disapproval from the medical establishment and their allies of his latter day initiatives that the American Red Cross made banging choking victims on the back five times a priority before attempting the Heimlich maneuver, which they relabeled “abdominal thrusting”.

Even one of Heimlich’s sons, Peter, turned against him, though the other, Phil, supported him, saying that the old belief that thumping on the back would only lodge morsels deeper in the bronchial tract was true and supported by studies. But the result is that Heimlich, while still a household name, has lost some of its luster.

How much truth there is in all this is interesting to examine. Wiki of course mirrors the established attack line, but one wonders what the reality is. For a start, it appears that the Red Cross has always been upset with Heimlich for saying that their long time teaching to use chest compression was useless, and might break bones in the elderly. Heimlich refuted the American Red Cross move to prioritize back slaps, and told them to remove his name from their instructions on abdominal thrusting.

Heimlich’s autobiography flops

Heimlich’s autobiography was published in paperback this year (Prometheus, 253 pp, Feb 11) and contained much information on his other “creative problem-solving”, according to Booklist:

From Booklist
Henry Heimlich has saved many lives and made it possible for nearly everyone, even children, to save a life and be a hero. In 1974, he introduced the Heimlich Maneuver, an uncomplicated technique for treating victims of choking. But his creative problem-solving extends beyond obstructed airway passages. Heimlich is a real-life medical version of TV’s MacGyver. While stationed in the Gobi Desert during WWII, he devised a simple cure for trachoma (a leading cause of blindness) by mixing pulverized sulfa antibiotic tablets with shaving cream. He has devised an operation that fashions a new esophagus by using a portion of the stomach, invented a chest drain valve that is used in the treatment of collapsed lungs, and developed a device that aids in the delivery of supplemental oxygen. In his uplifting memoir, the retired thoracic surgeon and medical innovator comes across as a man with big ideas and lofty ideals, a caring physician who combines common sense and knowledge to make the world a safer place. –Tony Miksanek .

It boasted only a few pre-publication blurbs from a well known name – Neil Armstrong – and medical sources:

“As White House physician, I performed the Heimlich Maneuver on a choking guest in the State Dining Room at a holiday reception during the final year of President George H. W. Bush’s term in office. Years later, at the Mayo Clinic, I performed the maneuver on a choking staff member. Thank you, Dr. Heimlich, for inventing this lifesaving method that has allowed me to save two lives. This memoir is a must-read for all who want to know about your amazing life and many contributions to medicine.”
—Connie Mariano, MD, former White House physician (1992–2001), author of The White House Doctor: My Patients Were Presidents

“With compassion and an amazing ability for getting to the essence of problems, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich has saved countless lives. And, as we learn in the pages of this remarkable book, no one has ever lived a life remotely like the inspiring journey that has been Dr. Heimlich’s. I recommend that every medical student, every doctor, and everyone who needs to see the potential of the human spirit read this wonderful book and take its lessons to heart.”
—Neal Barnard, MD, founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

“From northern China in World War II to the laboratory, to the operating room, and to medical conferences around the world, surgery has been the life of Dr. Henry J. Heimlich. In Heimlich’s Maneuvers, Hank recounts the challenges, controversies, and successes of his more than half a century working at the edge of medical knowledge.”
—Neil Armstrong

“[Heimlich’s] ability to find innovative and surprisingly simple solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems has saved countless lives.”
—Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 2010 Award for Innovative Medicine

Apart from a five star rating by one Himri (am “engineer” from Arizona) – “Wow, magician of the human body” – a few days ago the paperback seems to have aroused no enthusiasm among readers and no media reviews except from Booklist.

Evidently the attack on his reputation seems to have scotched the success of the book. Certainly there have been few more lethal sounding patricides that his son’s (read it below).

We are still trying to get to the bottom of this story, which is surely one of the most striking examples of reputation demolition in the history of science. Perhaps you can do better.

Links to explore

Heimlich in WQiki
Medline Heimlich/000047.htm
Heimlich on Why Malariotherapy Makes Sense by Boosting Immunity with Weak Malaria
ABC and Fauci on Why Malariotherapy Might Kill You
Save A Life Abandons Heimlich
Heimlich Fights The Red Cross Backsliding

CINCINNATI (January 21, 2013)– Since inventing the Heimlich maneuver in 1974 with a team of Jewish Hospital researchers, Dr. Henry Heimlich claims the procedure and its abdominal thrusts — into the stomach above the navel and up against the diaphragm to force air from the lungs and remove obstructions — have saved the lives of 100,000 potential choking victims. And yet the American Red Cross’ first-aid procedure recommends five back slaps and then five abdominal thrusts for someone who’s choking.

Those recommendations “horrify” Heimlich. “There has never been any research saying the back slap saves lives,” he said. “We know the Heimlich maneuver works. So it comes down to a matter of life or death.”

Choking is deadly. The National Safety Council lists choking as America’s No. 4 cause of accidental death behind poisoning (35,600 deaths annually), vehicles (35,500) and falls (28,000). In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics have been compiled, choking claimed 4,700 lives, a 4 percent increase over 2009.

Heimlich believes some of those lives could have been saved by his maneuver versus slapping someone on the back.

“I don’t want to fight the Red Cross,” he insisted. “But I don’t want people dying needlessly.”

Heimlich has asked the Red Cross to produce research showing the effectiveness of back slaps over his maneuver. If the nation’s traditionally final word in first aid can’t put up, he wants it to shut up. Stop telling people to slap choking victims on the back, he says. Tell them to use the Heimlich maneuver.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that hitting someone on the back helps a choking person,” Heimlich said. “Many scientific studies” have proven “if a person is choking and the food is in the airway, if you hit them on the back, it causes the food to go deeper and tighter into the airway.”

Heimlich has tussled with the Red Cross before. The Washington, D.C.-based first-aid and disaster relief organization has gone back and forth over the years on endorsing the Heimlich maneuver.

This waffling has vexed the Ohio thoracic surgeon, prompting him to ask the Red Cross to remove his name from any of its literature and training procedures on choking.

“When they started calling for back slaps first and then the Heimlich maneuver,” he recalled, “I wouldn’t let them use the Heimlich name. Why? Because patients were going to die.”

Heimlich has also been at odds with the Red Cross over his claims that the maneuver could help drowning victims and someone suffering an asthma attack. Researchers have seriously questioned both of those claims.

Now, at the age of 92, writing his memoirs, the doctor plans to appeal to the Red Cross one last time.

Turns out, Heimlich’s timing is impeccable. The Red Cross is conducting its semiannual evaluation of the scientific research behind its guidelines for providing first aid to choking victims. The report is due Saturday.

It also turns out, however, that the research Heimlich seeks doesn’t exist.

“To the best of my knowledge, after doing a pretty thorough literature search, no controlled studies exist comparing back blows to abdominal thrusts or anything else,” said Dr. Richard M. Bradley, a member of the Red Cross’ Preparedness, Health and Safety Services advisory council and an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

An independent source concurs. “The literature says there is no one definitive treatment to relieve an obstructed airway on a conscious person,” said William Terry Ray, director of the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing’s Nurse Anesthesia program. He looked at 40 years of research. The reviews concluded “a person may have to use the back blows as well as abdominal thrusts to relieve the obstruction, depending on what caused the person to choke.”

No definitive study exists to support Heimlich’s theory that slapping someone on the back can push an obstruction further down the throat. “The literature on this is not conclusive either,” Ray noted. Studies cited in a review of research projects “used animals, cadavers and anecdotal evidence.” But not living human subjects.

Matt Huesman, who used the Heimlich maneuver in August on a choking victim at his restaurant, planned to continue using the Heimlich maneuver over slapping someone on the back. He questioned science’s lack of progress.

“The Heimlich maneuver has been around for a long time,” he said. “Maybe it’s time somebody got on it and did that definitive study.”

Bradley agrees. But he knows that’s not where the grant money is. Choking happens outside of laboratory and research hospital settings, he noted. “Not enough dollars go to out-of-hospital research.”

Nevertheless, choking remains a killer.

“Anytime something is in the top five,” Bradley admitted, “it is a priority for research.”

Peter Calls Father Spectacular Liar and Fraud:

Peter Heimlich the disaffected son

In Spring 2002, my wife Karen and I began researching the career of my father, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich of Cincinnati, famous for the “Heimlich maneuver” choking rescue method. To our astonishment, we inadvertently uncovered a wide-ranging, unseen 50-year history of fraud.

Our research revealed my father to be a spectacular con man and serial liar, arguably one of history’s most successful – and destructive – medical humbugs. Armed with considerable charm, an instinct for public relations, and fueled by a ravenous need for attention and adulation, my father used the media to pass himself off as a medical genius/inventor and humanitarian, eventually being crowned “America’s most famous doctor” (The New Republic).

Contrary to his public image, my father was an incompetent surgeon – fired for misconduct from his last medical job in 1977 – who appropriated ideas from other doctors and attached his name to them. Facts indicate that he probably didn’t even invent what came to be known as “the Heimlich maneuver.” In my opinion, the only thing my father ever invented was his own mythology….

For example, the use of the Heimlich maneuver to resuscitate drowning victims has been warned against as useless and potentially lethal by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and other organizations. Nevertheless, for decades the Heimlich Institute put the public at risk by promoting this and my father’s other dangerous medical recommendations.

As we came to understand, my father simply dreamed up these claims, then promoted them in journals and the popular media using evidence that ranged from shabby to fraudulent. For example, we researched a string of case reports in which he claimed drowning victims had been miraculously revived by the Heimlich maneuver. They’re all phony. The results? Dozens of serious injuries and deaths, including children.

Heimlich Institute Video Celebrating Heimlich’s Life and Achievement

Peter Heimlich’s Blog Undermines Forthcoming Father’s Autobiography and Radiolab Report

PDF of Peter Heimlich’s Letter Detailing Radiolab Misreporting

The above two links appear to show fine investigative work in medicine and science pursued to its full extent by Peter Heimlich in challenging ill founded initiatives and claims, without mercy for his father. The thorough performance reminds us of the celebrated Serge Lang of Yale, and is probably similarly discounted as extreme and needlessly discomfiting by his targets, who would probably claim that compromising with perfection is an inevitable part of reporting and story telling, as it is in any other human activity.

The autobiography of his father which was in the works at the time of writing and appeared in February is bounded to be – as far as Peter Heimlich was concerned – a whitewash that omits many of the embarrassments that he has pointed out.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
After years of delay (and a canceled contract), Prometheus Books is publishing my father’s autobiography — here’s a preview
Via Heimlich’s Latest Maneuvers by Cleveland writer Mary Mihaly in Health Monitor, December 2009/January 2010:

Dr. “Hank” Heimlich may be the most famous doctor in the world…Inevitably, talk turns to his “latest maneuver”- his upcoming autobiography, Heimlich’s Maneuvers, to be published shortly by Bartleby Press.

The book never appeared, so presumably Bartleby preferred not to publish.

Four years and another publisher later, the wait may be over.

According to Amazon, my father’s 230-page autobiography is scheduled to be released by Prometheus Books, based in Amherst, New York, on February 11, a week after his 94th birthday.

Last week at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (source)

Here’s the Table of Contents which I received from Lisa Michalski, Senior Publicist at Prometheus:

Foreword by Guy Carpico
Author’s Note
CHAPTER 1: Heeeeere’s Heimlich!
CHAPTER 2: My Beginnings
CHAPTER 3: The Depression, Anti-Semitism, and Visits to Sing Sing Prison
CHAPTER 4: Medical School Challenges and a Strange Internship
CHAPTER 5: En Route to China
CHAPTER 6: A Health Clinic in the Gobi Desert
CHAPTER 7: A Medical Newbie Searches for a Surgical Residency
CHAPTER 8: Saving a Life and Finding Love
CHAPTER 9: Restoring the Ability to Swallow: The Reversed Gastric Tube Operation
CHAPTER 10: Taking the Reversed Gastric Tube Operation behind the Iron Curtain
CHAPTER 11: A Promise to a Dead Soldier Kept: The Heimlich Chest Drain Valve
CHAPTER 12: A Boy Named Hayani
CHAPTER 13: Saving the Lives of Choking Victims: The Heimlich Maneuver
CHAPTER 14: The American Red Cross and Back Blows
CHAPTER 15: The Gift of Breath: The Heimlich MicroTrach
CHAPTER 16: Making the Most of Good Ideas
CHAPTER 17: Working toward a Caring World

Hey, where’s “malariotherapy,” the notorious human experiments conducted for decades by Cincinnati’s Heimlich Institute in which U.S. and foreign nationals suffering from cancer, Lyme Disease, and AIDS were infected with malaria, resulting in investigations by three federal agencies and UCLA?

And I don’t see a chapter heading about my father’s decades of relentless campaigning to promote the use of the Heimlich maneuver to revive near-drowning victims, a depraved crusade based on dubious case reports that resulted in who knows how many dead kids.

How about when he was dismissed as Director of Surgery at Cincinnati’s Jewish Hospital in May 1977? Does he tell about the outrageous episode that precipitated his firing? That would probably increase sales.

What about his close relationships with doctors who lost their licenses for massive overprescribing of narcotics? One was Marilyn Monroe’s Dr. Feelgood and two did jail stretches. Wouldn’t that make a lively chapter?

And Chapter 8’s “Finding Love,” does that refer to his marriage or to his reckless sexual promiscuity, some of which my mother, the late Jane Heimlich, shared in her memoir?

And what about the late Edward A. Patrick MD PhD, my father’s 30-year colleague and co-author?

During his singular career, Dr. Patrick obtained a string of state medical licenses using squiffy credentials provided by my father, was involved in every aspect of the Heimlich maneuver, and, per his full-page obituary in the March 13, 2010 British Medical Journal, claimed to be the uncredited co-developer of the treatment — which he called “the Patrick-Heimlich maneuver.”

I asked Ms. Michalski, who replied:

There is no mention of Edward A. Patrick.


How about my father’s widely-published claim that in 2001 he rescued a choking victim at a Cincinnati restaurant by performing “the Heimlich maneuver”? That’s a headline-maker sure to sell plenty of copies.

Via Ms. Michalski:

We have not found any mention of a 2001 incident of Dr. Heimlich saving someone with the Heimlich maneuver in a Cincinnati restaurant.


Then there’s this March 16, 2003 front-page Cincinnati Enquirer article:

For more than 40 years, Cincinnati icon Dr. Henry Heimlich has been taking credit for a world-famous operation that was actually developed first by a Romanian surgeon behind the Iron Curtain.

In interviews, biographies and promotional materials, Heimlich has told anyone who would listen that he performed the world’s first total organ replacement. But even before Heimlich wrote his first article about the “Heimlich Operation” on dogs in 1955, the procedure had been performed dozens of times on humans by Romanian surgeon Dr. Dan Gavriliu, an Enquirer investigation has found.

Gavriliu now calls Heimlich a “liar and a thief.” He says Heimlich not only took credit for the operation, but also lied when he said they co-authored a paper for an international surgery conference.

…”Let Heimlich be a pig if he wants to steal an operation and put his name on it,” says retired New York surgeon Eugene Albu. “He changed the name from the Gavriliu Operation to the Gavriliu-Heimlich Operation. Then it became the Heimlich Operation later on.”

Six years later, from the 2009 article about the (aborted) Bartleby book:

Among other highlights, the book recounts how, in 1953, Dr. Heimlich launched his career by creating a surgical procedure for replacing the esophagus….

So which version is Prometheus running with?

Ms. Michalski:

Dr. Heimlich does credit Dr. Dan Gavriliu, in fact, it’s the basis of chapter 10, “Taking the Reversed Gastric Tube Operation behind the Iron Curtain.” According to the manuscript, Dr. Gavriliu had been performing the operation since 1951 (Heimlich first performed it in 1955).

Finally, here’s her reply when I asked for the name of the Prometheus editor responsible for the content and accuracy of the book:

Our authors are, first and foremost, responsible for the content of their books. During the production process, if the editors working on the book have questions about accuracy, clarity, sources, or the like, these are sent to the author for review and response.

Psst, a word to the wise for those editors….

Re: “questions about accuracy, clarity, sources, or the like,” I have a pretty good idea what’s in these chapters:

CHAPTER 6: A Health Clinic in the Gobi Desert
CHAPTER 11: A Promise to a Dead Soldier Kept: The Heimlich Chest Drain Valve

I’d strongly recommend you ask my father to provide you with a release to obtain his service records from the United States Navy.

And I’ll bet you a Heimlich valve that he won’t.

As in all things in humans and science all this discussion is a mixture of logic and emotion, with the latter not lacking in this arena.

Anyone who can throw further light of what seems to be a dismal end to a life as one of the most famous names in medicine, please comment.

Update: On Feb 6 Sat 2016 1pm RadioLab on NPR in New York (WNYC 94.0 FM) ran a repeat of the segment dating from 5pm Tuesday, March 05, 2013 now to be found at this page The Man Behind the Maneuver covering all this material very well but similarly undecided in the end as to whether the Red Cross advice to thump chokers on the back five times before using the Heimlich approach (which they now refuse to label as such) is valid or simply a defensive undermining of an innovator, which latter theory we are inclined to believe given the physics involved, which would suggest that thumping would send the obstruction further down the throat. But we await any correction on that speculation too.

Bad Behavior has blocked 2094 access attempts in the last 7 days.