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Monday, June 21, 2010

The Shame of Academia: No Price for Reckless Public Health Mischief

Berkeley Drops Probe of Duesberg After Finding 'Insufficient Evidence'

 on June 21, 2010 2:07 PM 
The paper that cost the editor of Medical Hypotheses his job will have no further consequences for its main author, molecular virologist Peter Duesberg of the University of California (UC), Berkeley. The university has ended its misconduct investigation after concluding that Duesberg was within his rights when he wrote that there is no evidence of a deadly AIDS epidemic in South Africa.
Duesberg's paper, published online on 19 July 2009, triggered a storm of protests from AIDS scientists and activists. Elsevier, the publisher ofMedical Hypotheses, has retracted the article and has terminated the contract of the journal's editor, Bruce Charlton of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, who declined to introduce a peer review system at the 35-year-old journal.
UC Berkeley started its investigation in August after receiving two letters of complaint, one from activist Nathan Geffen of the Treatment Action Coalition in South Africa. (University rules allow people making such allegations to remain anonymous.) The investigation, by UC Berkeley epidemiologist Arthur Reingold, focused on two allegations: That the article was retracted because of false claims in the paper and that Duesberg should have disclosed an alleged financial conflict of interest. One of his co-authors, David Rasnick, formerly worked for Matthias Rath, a vitamin entrepreneur who claims that HIV drugs are dangerous and that his dietary supplements can cure AIDS.

In a letter Duesberg forwarded to ScienceInsider, Berkeley Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Faculty Welfare Sheldon Zedeck writes that there is "insufficient evidence ... to support a recommendation for disciplinary action, pursuant to the Faculty Code of Conduct." (Zedeck's letter is dated 28 May, but Duesberg says he received it only recently.) Zedeck's letter did not explain the basis for the decision. However, the Faculty Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures for the Berkeley Campus does not mention reporting potential conflicts of interest in published papers.
The ruling does not mean Berkeley approves of the paper. "The university's investigation did not undertake to evaluate the merits of your research," Zedeck writes, "but concluded that your right to publish and disseminate your views is protected under the umbrella of academic freedom." A UC Berkeley spokesperson says the university does not comment on personnel issues.
Duesberg says he feels "exonerated" by the university's decision. He made his case to Reingold at a 7 May meeting at which he was accompanied by Berkeley's faculty ombudsperson. His lawyer also wrote Zedeck a letter in his defense.
Geffen disagrees. "This finding does not exonerate Duesberg," he says. "The language of the ruling makes that clear." Geffen, who was notified of the outcome, says he respects the university's decision but believes that "it was worth raising the issue, in any case, and putting it on the record."


  1. I'm waiting to see which denialist will be the first to claim that this means UC Berkley agrees with his conclusions on HIV.

  2. No big surprise to me. If UC, Berkley have allowed Duesberg to continue this long, I am not surprised. Also, they probably wanted to avoid the onslaught and dust storm and barrage of negative attacks the AIDS Dissidents would have kicked up over this...we all know how they act when they get their ire up!

  3. I don't understand how any respectable educational establishment would give a platform to a bigot, and allow him to make up "science" and publish in the guise of academia to support his nasty views (and help boost sales for his vitamin pushing buddies).

  4. Seth, is it possible that academia do not share your very personal view on Duesberg (bigot, wacko, fraud, etc) or your very foggy idea about how they need to be policed?

  5. I actually wonder if there is a report that will be published? OR can someone get their hands on it? It seems that such a public spectacle should have the reasoning made public. Unless of course there is something to hide? I would be interested to see if Duesberg does not "voluntarily" resign very soon. There is really nothing holding him to his position, afterall.

  6. Anonymous said... "Seth, is it possible that academia do not share your very personal view on Duesberg..."

    Very insightful. Of course it is not possible that academia does not share my view. Don't you know that I never go against the mainstream? I always agree with the Orthodoxy? Don't you know that if I do not fall in line with the establishment I will lose everything?

    Scientists agree, Duesberg is a certified nut case. Even the writers of Law and Order SVU knew that.

    Sorry to say that I am sure academia does not agree with me about my call for accountability among academics that go off the deep end. Should Bauer be teaching Science to undergrads? Maybe Science Fiction, but not science.

    Duesberg and his co-author Henry "Nessie Hunter' Bauer should not have academic positions. If they were Associate Professors, they would not get Tenure. They would booted. Just like Rebecca Culshaw--Booted. Just like Maniotis who cannot get a real academic job. They same reason why no university has ever and would ever hire Rasnick.

    Why should Bauer and Duesberg find safe refuge in what are supposed to be respected universities? Just because they have tenure? What kind of scam is that. I have been granted tenure 3 times - 3 different institutions. Does that mean I should not be held accountable for what I say and write? That's the way it is. And that needs to change.

    I know it can be a slippery slope. But too bad. Academic Freedom is not Free Speech. These Assholes should be ale to say whatever they want, but not as Professors.

    Academics agree with me that Duesberg is a crazy old man who should be in a rubber room. It is the legal department at UC Berkeley that is limp. I can tell you the same would happen at any university. Academic freedom has become equated with free speech. It is not.

    And universities are more concerned with being sued than doing the right thing.

    What is needed is reform of the tenure process. There should be 5 year post tenure reviews (I am 9 years past due). If a professor is knowingly harming the public with false information, then tenure should stripped and the position revoked.

    I am sure the establishment sees things my way. After all, I have everything to lose.

  7. Peter Duesberg, the Teflon Don of AIDS Denial.

  8. PS, I do not think I would take much pride in every scientist reading about my 6 month scientific misconduct investigation in Science and Nature. Much less everyone in my state.

    I think we pretty much agree.

  9. "What is needed is reform of the tenure process. There should be 5 year post tenure reviews (I am 9 years past due). If a professor is knowingly harming the public with false information, then tenure should stripped and the position revoked."

    Duesberg achieved tenure 1972 or so about so your proposal still has no teeth. Also, I am afraid to say, you are too emotionally involved for your work to be taken seriously when it comes to tenure review and academic policing. Considering outbursts like "assholes" and your admission such as the one you posted under your thread "A Sincere Message to Seth Kalichman" I think it would be wise for you to take a step back and reconsider your approach and involvement if you want your ideas to reach a wider audience and perhaps even be embraced.

    To be honest, I think your proposals are extreme and would have disastrous consequences for science as a whole further down the road. Consider this: Is it better to let a guilty man walk free than to imprison an innocent one or vice-versa? Your proposals run the very real risk of silencing future scientific brilliance and it is because of this that I believe academia will always rejects your ideas.

    Duesberg does not belong in a rubber room. He may be way off on AIDS and HIV but to silence him because of that might, just might, be a set-back in the fight against cancer and I am not alone in saying so. You see, Seth, no one is perfect and you should be careful what you wish for because suddenly you might find yourself bouncing about between rubber walls.


  10. Academia may find comfort and solace inside their "Consensus", however if the central dogma of the consensus is wrong all we end up with is a bunch of old back slapping buddies eating canapes at various conferences.

    The fact is Seth you are a psychologist and cannot realistically make any valid comment on whether Duesberg is right or wrong from a scientific point of view. All you can and vociferously do, is regurgitate a mantra from others that say he is wrong, a wacko, a nut job etc. You exemplify one who rides the bandwagon.

    And when you really look in to it, how many people actually have the necessary qualifications and experience to make the call on him? The consensus is simply an illusion of nodding heads, not scientific probity.

    I worry though that the very same people who led the fight on cancer now lead the fight against HIV/AIDs and have come full circle once again to proclaim that their pet retro virus' are involved in cancers such as HPV etc.

    The other simple fact is that the virus hunters and the nodding dolls that agree with them have not produced any tangible results with their theories that viruses are responsible for cancer, AIDS and even obesity.

    With a score sheet that by any standard looks pathetic when you consider the time and money spent chasing those elusive RV's through the 60's up until now, anyone should accept that there is a very serious chance that they are wrong. And even if it is only a minute possibility that the dogmatic got it wrong, all avenues should be looked at and not ridiculed, especially in light of what your precious consensus has thus far given us.

    There is little doubt that Duesberg is a genius, he may be totally off beam with his HIV/AIDS dissidence, or he may only be partially wrong, or god forbid, right. His aneuploidy work is gaining ground rapidly, which is surely of concern to the same virus hunters busy pedalling the same rubbish they have for the last 50 years. But to advocate shutting him up or jailing him simply stinks of some kind of totalitarian regime that advocates the gulag.

    Even if Duesbergs only role has to been to keep your orthodoxy on its toes and thinking, then he has done well.

  11. Nice thought.
    Sorry to say Duesberg has not kept any AIDS researchers on their toes and thinking. He is ignored by AIDS scientists. Like I said in Denying AIDS nearly everyone I mention Duesberg to says the same thing...'Is he still around?' He is little more than a cult figure. Crazies like Rasnick and Bauer worship him. Sad fragile souls like Maggiore listen to him to their own peril. Duesberg has not done well. He has done harm.

  12. is he ignored by cancer researchers? Have you spoken to them?

  13. Yes, he is ignored by cancer researchers. He cannot be trusted. There was one NIH funded cancer researcher at his Aneuloidy conference, and she was wearing a wig and dark glasses.

  14. I think you are full of shit...

  15. Maybe I am full of shit.
    Can you show me a stitch of evidence that Duesberg is making a mark in Cancer research? Aside from media fascination, like Scientific American. How about NIH funding others to do Aneuploidy research in cancer? What does that look like? The only thing older than Duesberg is the 1800's Aneuploidy Theory...I mean by maybe a few years.
    Go ahead, make my day.

  16. Although I think that Duesbergs' theories are ridiculous and I believe that he has been harmful to public health altogether, I totally agree with the findings of the Berkley committee. When I first heard that he was investigated for misconduct for that paper, I got curious and read his paper. It was a silly wrong, unsubstantiated theory. He can be accused of serious bias, but certainly not misconduct. I dont think there was even a formal investigation warranted. Just my opinion. Unfortunately, this event gave him more exposure. Duesberg is dangerous because some naive people believe him and some stop their medications. But the best way to deal with him is to complete ignore him and not draw more attention to him by unsubstantiated accusations or investigations.

  17. Blue
    I agree.
    But to be clear the complaint was not so much about the content of the article.
    The issue was that Duesberg failed to acknowledge that Rasnick had a conflict of interest that should have been declared. It was a legitimate claim.
    But lets be honest.
    The intent was to sanction Duesberg because he continues to promote an anti-science agenda on AIDS and is contributing to people's deaths in the process.

    But I agree. Duesberg is a narcissist and the attention from this just fuels his Ego...not mention those who wallow in portraying him as a victim of the conspiracy. Worse yet, it brings attention to Rasnick and Bauer, who exploit Duesberg for attention. Duesberg is well know. The others are so obscure it is pathetic. Personally, I would have gone after Duesberg for abusing common pet store mice in his lab in place of research animals (as he admitted in Newsweek). I would have unleashed the PETA people on him, nit to mention his IRB.

  18. But have you seen that Farber has come out of hiding to say that Duesberg has been "exonerated"? That's a little case of the old denial, don't cha think?

  19. JTD
    Not surprising. She is the Queen of Peter the Victim. She can spin this crap all she wants and it will still be denialism.

  20. Can any of you explain why the 300,000 people in the U.S. who are allegedly 'HIV positive' BUT DON'T KNOW IT (according to the CDC) aren't dying of 'AIDS', and aren't responsible for INCREASING the number of so-called 'HIV positive' people in the U.S., which has been one million for over a decade? How can a million people be infected by a supposedly sexually transmitted disease, and yet over ten years later, it's still only a million people who are 'infected'?

    How much 'HIV' is there in sperm?
    What about in vaginal fluids?
    How do the vaginal fluids get into the man's bloodstream, through his penis?

    Did you bother thinking about any of these basic questions?

    Nice blog on behalf of Big Pharma, by the way...

  21. Anonymous
    These are very basic questions.
    1. 300,000... it takes years to develop AIDS. People who are HIV infected can only know if they get tested. Many do not not test until years later when they have AIDS.
    2. HIV does attach to 'sperm' but that is less important than the quantities of HIV in 'semen'.
    3. The quantities of HIV in semen tend to be greater than vaginal fluids, but there are numerous factors that impact these quantities.
    4. HIV enters the immune system through mucous membranes. ulcers, and micro-scratches in penile membranes. The tissue under the foreskin is particularly important.
    I think about educating people on these basic simple facts of HIV transmission every day.
    Why would you think this blog has anything to with Big Pharama?
    Thanks for your questions.

  22. Wow I love this ad hominem stuff - reminds me of Wikipedia. We have to choose between this stuff and science. Nobody knows anything about AIDS/HIV it appears. After 40 - 50 years the "disease" doesn't seem to be able to get much beyond allnight partiers and/or doper users, maybe that is a hint as to what it is and aint. Don't feel bad boys and girls, Duesberg just catches on quicker than most, that damn IQ thing.