The Case of HIV and AIDS - Part
5 Part 1
Part 2 Part 3
Horton In The New York Review
Horton In The New York Review pp
A Statement by A. Arthur Gottlieb p
Horton In The New York Review
editor of The Lancet, wrote an 8500-9000 word review article
"Truth and Heresy About AIDS" in the New York Review of Books,
23 May 1996. This article, with its many footnotes, gives a
false impression of scientific scholarship. Horton's selectivity
did not properly allow readers to evaluate (a) the books under review;
(b) the relative merits of hypotheses competing with the orthodox
hypothesis that HIV is a cause of certain diseases; (c) the positions
of a number of scientists who have challenged the orthodoxy. I documented
these assertions in a "Review of a Review," about the same length
as Horton's article, which I submitted for publication in the New
York Review, but which was rejected.
and a tendentious presentation. Horton's article purportedly
dealt with three books. Two of them were authored by Duesberg, namely
the collection of his scientific papers concerned with HIV and AIDS,
and the more popularly written book published by Regnery. The third
book purportedly under review by Horton was Aids: Virus- or Drug
Induced? published by Kluwer (1996). This book is a collection
of 27 articles. Twelve of these were originally published in the
scientific journal Genetica (1995). Only four of the articles
are by Duesberg and co-authors. One of the articles even represents
a position supporting the orthodoxy about HIV and AIDS. My two articles
from the Yale Scientitic are reproduced updated in the Kluwer
collection ("HIV and AIDS..." pp. 271-295; and "To fund or not to
fund..." pp. 297-307). Although the Kluwer collection was formally
under review, Horton did not describe it as a collection, he did
not describe what this collection contains, and in particular he
did not mention a single article in that collection, with the sole
one item from
me on the non-funding of Duesberg.1
Indeed, in 1995-1996, some scientists who disagree with objections
raised by Duesberg and others nevertheless have deplored publicly
that Duesberg cannot get funding.2
Horton represented this view in his own journal The Lancet
(6 July 1996) after promoting it in the New York Review. So increasing
support for this view is a very recent and welcome development.
his review, Horton did not mention my much longer article "HIV and
AIDS: Have We Been Misled?," nor did he mention or take into account
independent documentation contained in that article which goes counter
to his views. He also systematically ignored other articles in the
Kluwer collection documenting defects in articles published in scientific
journals, purporting to show that "HIV causes AIDS." Readers of
Horton's review cannot learn from his review the existence of these
articles and the information they contain. A fortiori, they are
not given the means to evaluate that information. These readers
have no way to know, let alone appreciate, the extent, specificity,
and seriousness of criticisms by the variety of scientists in that
book. Horton mentioned Duesberg repeatedly as a critic of the established
views, but by not referring to the multiple articles in the Kluwer
collection, he made it appear as if Duesberg is more isolated than
he actually is in raising objections.
did not give any information which might make readers wary of statements
and figures put out by the CDC and WHO (World Health Organization).
For example, he did not inform readers of the CDC definition of
AIDS, and of other definitions of AIDS used in Africa. Indeed, the
WHO allows African doctors to use a clinical definition, the "Bangui
definition," which does not even require an HIV test.3
invoked both the CDC and the WHO for AIDS statistics (p. 16, bottom
of column 4), but they have both put out figures which cannot be
trusted for multiple reasons, some of which are listed in my "HIV
and AIDS..." article, but none of which is mentioned by Horton.
Footnotes for page 700
Horton states p. 20, column 3: "This issue
is examined in detail by Serge Lang of the Department of Mathematics
of Yale in AIDS: Virus- or Drug Induced? His review of the NIDA
grants application is revealing..." However, Horton did not include
a proper reference citing my article as an independent article in
what is a collection of articles
for instance a letter from Stuart Derbyshire in Nature 377, 26 October
1995, p. 672.
"R. Widy-Wirski MD et al., "Evaluation of the WHO Clinical Case
Definition for AIDS in Uganda," Journal of the American Medical
Association 260 (1988) pp. 3286-3289.
Horton systematically shifted the attention:
- away from
the quality of the science concerned with the "HIV causes AIDS"
- away from
very testable aspects of a hypothesis that drug use may cause certain
diseases used to define AIDS;
- and toward
I shall give
(a) In his
review, Horton wrote (p. 14, column 4): "Is AIDS a single disease?
No, says Duesberg." But it's not a question of what Duesberg says.
Horton did not properly inform his readers by failing to tell them
of the circular CDC definition, or the different Bangui definition.
Horton himself wrote as if AIDS is a single disease, for instance
p. 20, column 4, where he refers to "the current widely acknowledged
uncertainty about the origins and mechanisms of HIV disease." Horton's
focus on what Duesberg "says" skewed the presentation of facts concerning
AIDS and the role of HIV, and made Duesberg appear more isolated
than he actually is in raising objections.
Africa, Horton wrote (p. 16, column 4): "The AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan
Africa, driven mainly by heterosexual transmission, provides Duesberg
with an opportunity to stretch his theory beyond the bounds of all
reasonable beliefs." In light of the different definitions of AIDS,
how legitimate is it to compare African AIDS and American AIDS?
What constitutes reasonable beliefs remains to be determined. But
there are many facts which are not a matter of "belief." Horton
did not mention articles providing such facts, and critical of the
orthodoxy on Africa, such as those by Neville Hodgkinson and by
Papadopulos-Eleopulos and Harvey Bialy, a long time scientific observer
of conditions in Africa.4
of Horton's review did not learn of these or other critical analyses
in the Kluwer collection, despite the fact that this collection
was one of the three books purportedly under review. Such articles
also include those by Mark Craddock, the Ellison-
Footnote for page 701
N. Hodgkinson, "Cry Beloved Country," Kluwer
collection, pp. 347-358. E. Papadopulos-Eleopulos, V. F. Turner,
J. M. Papadimitriou and H. Bialy, "AIDS in Africa: Distinguishing
fact from fiction," World J. Microbiology & Biotechnology Vol.
11 (1995), pp. 135-143.
analysis of the Ascher et al article,5
and articles by Papadopulos-Eleopulos et al, mentioned in the previous
part on journalistic suppression and manipulation.6
did not inform his readers that others besides Duesberg have raised
questions about the role of nitrite inhalants in causing certain
diseases. (Cf. my "HIV and AIDS..." article.) For example, Horton
in his review did not mention the position and conclusions of Harry
Haverkos, who chaired the meeting of 24 May 1994, sponsored by NIDA,
on the toxic effects of nitrite inhalants. Thus he made Duesberg
appear more isolated than he actually is in making objections.
asserts (p. 20, column I): "For Duesberg, laboratory based experimentation
must take precedence as the foundation for scientific reasoning,
while others are content to rely on epide-miological considerations."
Horton thereby misrepresented the fact that Duesberg's criticisms
have also borne heavily and concretely on the defective way epidemiological
data have been gathered, reported, and interpreted. A fundamental
problem is whether HIV is a cause or coincidence. It has been noticed
(but not studied systematically) that the measurable presence of
HIV (e.g. via antibodies) may follow certain pathogenic syndromes,
rather than precede them. I urge readers to compare the information
given in the article by Papadopulos et al. mentioned in footnote
4, with Horton's paragraph dealing with Africa (starting p. 15,
column 4). As remarked in the Papadopulos article, HIV positivity
sometimes followed weight loss by several months, and possibly years.
Similarly, in connection with the possibility that a new herpes
virus causes Kaposi's sarcoma, recall the New York Times report
(16 December 1994) that "the possibility exists that the virus is
present in Kaposi's sarcoma only after the cancer develops."
studies can be questioned if they do not clarify or take into account
whether the measurable presence of HIV antibodies (or HIV itself)
signifies a cause or a coincidence of certain diseases. There are
difficulties in making the determination, but the questioning is
legitimate in evaluating the presence
Footnotes for page 702
et al., "HIV as a surrogate marker for drug use: A re-analysis of
the San Francisco Men's Health Study," Kluwer collection, pp. 97-104.
Papadopulos-Eleopulos et al., "A critical analysis of the HIV-T4-cell-AIDS
hypothesis," Kluwer collection pp. 3-22; and another article by
Papadopulos-Eleopulos et al., "Factor VIII, HIV and AIDS in haemophiliacs:
an analysis of their relationship," Kluwer collection pp. 23-46.
and role of
HIV. Scientific standards require that whatever difficulties exist
be acknowledged and brought out explicitly.
misinformation uncritically. Horton in his review gave no inkling
to his readers that government officials put out defective responses.
For an example, see footnote 7 of "Joumalistic Suppression and Manipulation."
responses may be based on questionable scientific publications.
For example, Horton reported the existence of Shalala's answer to
Gutknecht in his footnote 34, without giving any indication of the
defects in this answer, and without warning readers about these
defects. He gave no specific information which might cause readers
to be very skeptical of the unreliable mess in Science, especially
in articles by Jon Cohen such as those which gave rise to Shalala's
defective answer to Gutknecht's question 6 (see §8 of my HIV/AIDS
article). Horton thus did not prepare readers to exercise the appropriate
caution when he invoked such articles.
Horton also asserted (p. 16, column 4) that Kaposi's sarcoma was
"once classed as a disease that defined AIDS and therefore also
HIV." This assertion is at best misleading. Kaposi's sarcoma is
still on the CDC list of AIDS defining diseases in the presence
of HIV. Like Altman in the New York Times and Cohen in Science,
Horton contributes to fudging the issue about relationships between
AIDS (whatever it is), HIV and other viruses such as a presumed
So Horton contributed
to the uncritical spreading of misinformation.
uneven attitude." Even though The Lancet has published "letters"
by Duesberg on the Ascher et al article and on hemophiliacs,7
has not been allowed to publish longer pieces in The Lancet, either
as a scientific article, or as a "Viewpoint." Aside from other items
not mentioned by Horton in his review, he also did not mention the
above Duesberg letters (let alone address or challenge their substance).
In the previous
part on journalistic suppression and manipulation, I have analyzed
how The Lancet rejected "many" letters, including the one by Gordon
Footnote for page 703
41 (1993): "HIV and the aetiology of AIDS," pp. 957-958; and "Aetiology
of AIDS," p. 1544.
We have also
just seen how Horton does not give to his readers information which
would make them wary of statements on HIV and AIDS coming from government
In his review,
Richard Horton stated (p. 19, column 1): "The professional science
journals, such as Nature and Science, which represent the majority
opinion of researchers, have displayed an alarmingly uneven attitude
during this dispute." Horton's own journal, besides Nature and Science,
deserves being added to his list. So does his review (not to speak
of his reply in New York Review dated 8 August 1996, see below).
territory" argument. It is legitimate to raise specific objections
or questions against the way experiments are made or reported in
certain scientific articles. Horton answered such objections in
part by bringing up what he calls "dangerous territory" (p. 16,
arguments take him into dangerous territory. For if HIV is not
the cause of AIDS, then every public health injunction about the
need for safer sex becomes meaningless...
Such an answer
bypasses the specific objections and questions, and draws an invalid
extreme conclusion. Even if HIV is ultimately determined to be non-pathogenic,
there would still be no reason to abandon safe sex practices, just
as there are reasons to be on guard against poppers. I also don't
see it as illegitimate to bring up reasons why people might exercise
some caution about taking prescription drugs purportedly acting
against HIV, such as AZT. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies have
made mistakes in the past (remember thalidomide). Very recently
(1996), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society banned the use of poppers
as a recreational drug in Britain, citing a "link" to the AIDS-defining
disease Kaposi's sarcoma.
There is also
the "status and peace of mind of spouses or partners, and children,"
as Gordon Stewart wrote in his letter of 3 January 1996, rejected
by The Lancet. What if they have been misled by the categorical
assertion that "HIV causes AIDS"?
article: "Crucial and decisive"? In the previous part devoted
to an analysis of joumalistic suppression and manipulation, I have
discussed the case of the Darby article, published in Nature. In
his New York Review article, Horton endorsed the Darby article with
the statement that "another crucial,
line of evidence refutting Duesberg comes from the hemophiliac population,"
(p. 17, column 1 and footnote 7, referring specifically to the Darby
article). But instead of informing readers of the existence of Duesberg's
questions and predictions published in a letter to his own journal,
and explaining why Duesberg's criticisms are invalid (if indeed
Horton can document that they are), Horton in his review simply
did not mention the existence of Duesberg's letter, let alone his
questions or predictions. Horton also did not mention Gordon Stewart's
Thus one is
at an impasse, when specific criticisms or questions are either
defectively answered, bypassed, or censored. Since Gordon Stewart's
letter was refused publication, and Horton does not mention it in
his review, The Lancet and New York Review readers have no way to
realize the existence of his two additional questions to evaluate
the Darby article. In addition, The Lancet and Horton's review made
it appear as if Duesberg is more isolated than he actually is in
At the moment,
the Darby article is being invoked by Horton and others in support
of the orthodox view. Critical analyses (by Craddock, Duesberg,
Papadopulos, Stewart, to name but four of which I have direct knowledge)
are ignored or censored. On the basis of past performance by several
scientific journals, especially Science and Nature, in publishing
or endorsing articles which were subsequently shown to be deficient,
I await more information about the Darby article to arrive at a
more definitive conclusion. Caveat emptor!
evading previous objections and introducing new material. In
the issue dated 8 August 1996, New York Review published an exchange
between Duesberg and Horton (p. 51). To reinforce some of his points,
Horton followed a pattern which has been common in the past, namely:
spokesmen for the orthodox view about HIV causality evade dealing
with specific previous objections, or questions, or criticisms raised
about scientific articles which they uphold as evidence against
those who challenge the orthodoxy; at the same time, these spokesmen
introduce new articles as further evidence, before these new articles
have been subjected to scientific scrutiny.
- Horton ignored
specific objections and questions which had been raised previously,
for example concerning the Darby article which he himself had invoked
as "crucial and decisive."
- Horton addressed
one item in Duesberg's reply of 8 August 1996:
On the specific
matter of hemophilia, which he [Duesberg] draws special attention
to [in the 8 August reply], we published his letter on November
18, 1995, in which he sets out ten reasons why he believes that
the causal association between HIV and disease in this [the hemophilia]
population is insecure.
footnoted the reference for Duesberg's letter to the Lancet of 18
November 1995, without any explanation of the context of this letter
or any description of its content. Horton thereby misrepresented
the situation. Horton in his original review had not mentioned Duesberg's
Lancet letter of 18 November 1995, let alone the substance of that
letter. In that letter, Duesberg did not engage in the generality
attributed to him by Horton ("ten reasons why he believes...").
Duesberg raised ten specific questions, called "highly relevant"
by Gordon Stewart, about a specific article, namely the Darby article.
He also made two predictions, as we have seen. Readers have no way
of reconstructing the context of Duesberg's letter from Horton's
account. On the other hand, in his review (p. 17, column 1), Horton
had written flatly of Duesberg being refuted: "Another crucial,
and decisive, line of evidence refuting Duesberg, comes from the
hemophiliac population. The British researcher Sarah C. Darby reported
last year..." Thus it's not a question whether Duesberg believes
whether the causal association between HIV and disease is "insecure."
The question is: do Darby's data refute Duesberg as claimed by Horton
or do they not?
- Horton did
not show any of Duesberg's objections in The Lancet about the Darby
article to be invalid, if indeed he could do so.
- Horton did
not follow up and nail down a debate about the proclaimed "crucial
and decisive line of evidence" in Darby's article. Such a debate
would have to include a publication of Gordon Stewart's two questions,
a proper scientific answer to Stewart's question as well as to Duesberg's
"highly relevant" ten questions, and tests of Duesberg's predictions.
It could profitably include a discussion of Mark Craddock's and
Papadopulos' critical comments on the Darby article. Since these
were rejected by Nature, The Lancet (Horton) could very well solicit
them to give substance to a scientific discussion. Instead of doing
any of the above, Horton brought up new material, namely three new
articles which had not even appeared at the time of his review.
They appeared in May 1996. Horton concluded:
But for failing
to acknowledge the strength of the data I have cited here and
earlier, he [Duesberg] deserves censure.
documents Horton's illegitimate scientific and journalistic practices.
- First, how
could Duesberg acknowledge data, let alone the "strength of the
data," which was not even available at the time when Horton's review
- Second, there
has been no time to have independent analyses of the three new articles
mentioned by Horton. How do we know the strength of data before
the data have been subjected to appropriate scrutiny?.
- Third, how
can Duesberg "deserve censure" for not acknowledging data contained
in articles which did not even exist at the time of Horton's review?
- Fourth, whether
the data are strong or not strong is one of the items which is in
contention. Gordon Stewart's questions (unpublished by The Lancet),
Duesberg's questions ("highly relevant" according to Gordon Stewart),
Mark Craddock's and Papadopulos' unpublished letters to Nature about
the Darby article raise possibilities that the strength of the data
is indeed questionable. Do those (including me) who have raised
specific questions about the quality or validity of scientific data
and interpretations published in the scientific literature, also
"deserve censure" because we "fail to acknowledge the strength of
the data," including data which is not even published today and
may be thrown at us after our specific questions or objections concerning
past data have been ignored?
An ad hominem
attack. Horton's reply of 8 August 1996 introduced a major new
issue, namely an ad hominem attack on Duesberg. Horton endorsed
a suggestion of self-experimentation, made by Barry Bloom, whom
Horton characterized as "a respected investigator at the Howard
Hughes Medical Institute in New York." Thus Horton appealed to an
authority figure. Horton wrote:
Here is a
startling challenge. Duesberg accuses me of using "the argument
of fear." If there is nothing to fear from HIV, he can easily
prove it. If Duesberg seriously believes that HIV is harmless,
let him inject himself with a suspension of the virus.
is deficient on several counts. First, self-experimentation by Duesberg
would not "prove" (let alone "easily prove") anything about a virus
which is supposed to take ten
years to achieve
pathogenic effects. Second, the negation of one extreme is not the
extreme of opposite type. There may be many possibilities in between.
For example, there may be something to fear from poppers (amyl nitrites)
or AZT, as well as HIV.
with the above challenge to Duesberg pushed the discussion to extremes
in an unscientific and ad hominem manner. He turns the discussion
to considerations of beliefs, rather than facts. ("If Duesberg seriously
believes...") But it is not a question what "Duesberg believes."
What is involved scientifically are, among other things: the possibility
of making certain experiments (some of them on animals); whether
certain data (epidemiological or laboratory) are valid (e.g. properly
gathered and reported); whether interpretations of the data are
valid; the extent to which certain hypotheses are compatible with
the data; and whether specific objections to specific scientific
articles are legitimately or substantially answered, if answered
As a scientist
and as a professor, I object publicly and vigorously to the Bloom-Horton
ad hominem challenge, which I do not respect.
I object to
his making it appear as if the scientific community respects the
position he has defined about self-experimentation, by invoking
a "respected investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute."
I object to
the Bloom-Horton position, that raising scientific objections in
a situation when medical factors are involved, requires self-experimentation
to give credibility to one's objections.
As things stand,
Horton in the joumalistic context of New York Review shifted the
discussion from what might have been a scientific exchange to an
ad hominem exchange. Unfortunately, Duesberg wrote back directly
to Horton that he is willing to inject himself with HIV if Horton
could arrange the funding for such an experiment. Thus Duesberg
caved in (under journalistic and psychological pressure) by accepting
the legitimacy of Horton's point, although Duesberg's reply made
the situation somewhat more complicated by suggesting that responsibility
for such self-experimentation was to be shared institutionally.
I object not only to Horton's unscientific journalistic and rhetorical
thrust, but also to the fact that Duesberg did not reject outright
the terms Horton was setting for the discussion.
to be seen whether the Bloom-Horton challenge to Duesberg, that
he engage in self experimentation to give credibility to his scientific
objections, is respected by the scientific community.
and journalistic responsibility. On 2 August 1996, I submitted
a letter to the editors of the New York Review, about 500 words
long. This letter consisted essentially of the previous section
on the ad hominem attack, but included a few introductory lines
informing readers of my longer piece "Review of a Review." My letter
In its issue
of 19 September 1996 (available at the end of August), the New York
Review published a further exchange between Duesberg and Horton.
These exchanges occurred under severe limitations of space imposed
on "letters to the editors," not just in the present case of HIV
and Duesberg. I regard Duesberg's two letters as grossly insufficient
to inform readers of the New York Review properly about the scientific
and journalistic issues involved, although they bring up some substantial
the greater part of his second reply to the ad hominem challenge,
and some history of self experimentation.8
Thus Horton compounded the problems raised by his ad hominem attack.
Self-xperimentation is something which a scientist may offer unprompted,
as has sometimes been done in the past. Whether to do so or not
is for each scientist to decide individually. I object to other
scientists putting pressure for self experimentation, especially
in a journalistic context.
I was sufficiently
disturbed by Horton's continued emphasis on self-experimentation
to submit my letter to the editors of 2 August as an advertisement,
to occupy half a page in the New York Review. I sent a check for
$3,500 to cover the cost for this space. Then the editor returned
my check and agreed to publish my letter.
A number of problems
to the editor. Only two letters to the editors on the Horton
review, other than those of Duesberg, were published: one by Meyer
Friedman M.D., supporting the notion that "HIV is the cause of AIDS"
(19 September 1996); and the other by me (31 October 1996)
Footnote for page 709
Horton wrote 55 column lines on the self-experimentation
issue, about 7 words per line. Following these 55 lines (more than
half of his reply), he stated: "Nevertheless, whether Duesberg does
or does not inject himself with HIV is, in truth, immaterial to
my central challenge to his argument." Being immaterial to the central
challenge is incompatible with Horton bringing up the issue of self-experimentation
in his first reply, and spending the greater part of his second
reply again on this issue. The imprimatur of the New York Review
contributed to making the self-experimentation challenge an important
journalistic item. Among other objectionable effects, this item
deflected attention from what Horton called the "central challenge."
under the circumstances
just described. I have personal knowledge of four other people who
wrote letters to the editor critical of the orthodox position on
HIV, but their letters were not published. Among these is the well
known writer James P. Hogan.9
By not publishing other letters directed against the orthodox position
on HIV, the New York Review contributed once more to making Duesberg
appear more isolated than he actually is in making objections.
It is important
for people to have documentation on which they can base a more informed
judgment about Horton's review, and the editorial judgment of the
New York Review. From my letter to the editors, readers could learn
that I wrote a 14-page "Review of a Review," but they could not
learn the specific content, countering and documenting Horton's
(b) The responsibility
of the New York Review. The choice of Horton for a review article
on the three books selected by the New York Review, including the
Kluwer collection, was not a priori unreasonable, but it was New
York Review's responsibility to evaluate his piece before publication.
In fall 1995, I had hoped the New York Review would review the forthcoming
three books which were indeed ultimately chosen, because I had such
a rewarding experience with the New York Review in 1978, when it
published my "Survey of a Survey" on the Ladd-Lipset "1977 Survey
of the American professoriate." Hence I provided documentation to
the New York Review's editor during the academic year 1995-1996
by sending him a variety of items on HIV and AIDS. Some of this
documentation was included in my Yale Scientific articles as well
as my "Journalistic Suppression and Manipulation" file as it developed
throughout the year. The editor gave no evidence that he took this
documentation into account in evaluating Horton's piece, with the
single exception of my analysis of the non-funding of Duesberg.
The New York
Review has been, among other things, a journal of appeal. It fulfilled
this role when it printed my "Survey of a Survey" in 1978. With
its world-wide circulation of 120,000, it is very influential in
the academic and intellectual community. Members of these communities
rely on the New York Review for
Footnote for page 710
Hogan has informed me that he has written a long manuscript on the
question of HIV/AIDS, and has been trying to publish it, so far
they cannot get easily elsewhere. Flaws in the New York Review editorial
judgment are therefore very serious.
I know have little time, if any time at all, for seeking information
independently. They rely on the selection made for them by the New
York Review. Some have taken the time to look through the more elaborate
documentation I have given to them, but others don't have the time.
It is therefore very important that articles in the New York Review
conform to the classical standards of science, as they were formulated
particularly well by Feynman10,
whom I quoted already in my discussion of the Baltimore case. It
does no harm to repeat here the relevant quote from Feynman.
is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult
science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in
studying science in school--we never explicitly say what this
is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific
investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now
and speak of it explicitly. It's a kind of scientific integrity,
a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of
utter honesty--a kind of leaning over backwards. For example,
if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that
you think might make it invalid--not only what you think is right
about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results;
and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other
experiment, and how they worked--to make sure the other fellow
can tell they have been eliminated.
could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you
know them. You must do the best you can--if you know anything
at all wrong, or possibly wrong--to explain it. If you make a
theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you
must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well
as those that agree with it. In summary, the idea is to try to
give all the information to help others to judge the value of
your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment
in one particular direction or another.
On the next
page, Feynman recalls a specific instance when physicists fooled
themselves for many years in determining the charge of the electron.
Then on p. 343 he goes on to say:
Footnote for page 711
Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman, W.W. Norton,
1985, p. 341. The piece is adapted from the Caltech 1974 Commencement
principle is that you must not fool yourself--and you are the
easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that.
After you've not fooled yourself, it's easy not to fool other
scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after
I would like
to add something that's not essential to the science, but something
I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the laymen
when you're talking as a scientist. I am not trying to tell you
what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your girlfriend,
or something like that, when you're not trying to be a scientist,
but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We'll leave those
problems up to you and your rabbi. I'm talking about a specific,
extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards
to show how you're maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting
as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists,
certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.
didn't lean over backwards to show how maybe he is wrong. He didn't
lean over backwards to "give details that could throw doubt on"
his interpretation, or to inform readers of documentation which
would have made readers question the reliability of the scientific
press and government officials. My "Review of a Review" lists a
large amount of such important documentation which Horton did not
report to NYR readers. Horton's review article did not abide by
the classical standards of scientific reporting as expressed above.
of scientific responsibility. Horton systematically evaded answering
my scientific, documented challenges to specific points in his review-essay.
After New York Review rejected my "Review of a Review", I submitted
it for publication in The Lancet. Horton also rejected it, with
The Lancet will be unaware of the debate that has been proceeding
in the pages of The New York Review, and so to publish your piece
would bemuse and confuse them I suspect. I must therefore decline
my "Review of a Review" provides a self contained exposition,
giving necessary background, references, and a documented analysis.
What you "suspect" is not a substitute for evidence. You give
no evidence, and I see none, that my piece would "bemuse and confuse"
Rather, it would enlighten them about the scientific and joumalistic
standards of The Lancet's editor (yourself), besides providing
factual enlightenment about the HIV/AIDS situation, not provided
for them by The Lancet. Furthermore, The Lancet, like other journals,
regularly publishes papers which may address scientific questions
raised in other papers published in other journals. For a further
example, New York Review published your "review" of three books
published elsewhere. Readers of New York Review were not necessarily
aware of the three books, or of any debate about them, but this
didn't prevent NYR from publishing your review.
find your alleged reason for not publishing my "Review of a Review"
to be a non-sequitur, and to be incompatible with scientific publishing
... One major
problem has to do with your continuing evasion to provide a formal
response to my "Review of a Review". On the one hand you wrote me
on 5 August: "Do let me know if you publish it elsewhere. That might
well be the occasion to write a more formal response." On the other
hand, your logic for refusing publication would also apply to any
other publication besides New York Review. Indeed, why should the
readers of any journal other than New York Review be any more aware
of your original review article and the correspondence that followed
in New York Review? You have therefore created a self serving Catch-22
scenario to justify your evasion to provide a "more formal response"
to my criticisms. I object.
you, Richard Horton, of scientific and journalistic irresponsibility:
In not addressing or responding to the documented scientific and
factual points raised in my "Review of a Review". These points are
independent of any journalistic context and deserve to be addressed.
In refusing to publish my "Review of a Review" in The Lancet. As
I wrote to you on 15 August, you would then have an opportunity
to "write a more formal response".
or not you publish my "Review of a Review" in The Lancet, you owe
a response to major specific scientific objections, as well as objections
to your tendentious presentation. By not providing such a response,
you are reinforcing your tendentious selectivity in the presentation
of scientific material, and you are transgressing the norms of scientific
Received 24 July 1997
medical-scientific community, HIV is widely accepted as the causative
agent of AIDS. Notwithstanding this consensus, a group of knowledgeable
scientists have raised a number of meaningful questions about this
thesis, while some remain unconvinced of its validity.
In this chapter,
Prof. Serge Lang has well documented the basis of this controversy
and has provided a sobering picture for the reader of the polity
of thinking that has characterized this field. For example, legitimate
questions about the effects of HIV and the role of cofactors in
the pathogenesis of the immune dysfunction that is the hallmark
of AIDS remain unanswered by those who are the proponents of conventional
thinking in this field. Models of how HIV and cells of the immune
system replicate, which have not yet sustained the rigor of thorough
scientific discussion and critique at both the biological and mathematical
level, are accepted as if they were laws nature. Major journals
and scientific meetings have often failed to provide a forum for
legitimate criticism of these models and other issues pertaining
to HIV. Lang points out that this is an abuse of the process by
which science seeks to achieve a complete understanding of a problem
and that if a hypothesis is correct, it should be able to sustain
legitimate critique. He properly alerts us to the dangers that rigidity
of thinking holds for the advancement of scientific understanding.
As well, Lang
asks to what extent are readers of scientific journals correctly
informed of various points of view and do editors assert unreasonable
control over the terms of disclosure in their journals? These are
clearly important and disturbing questions. A review of the scenarios
which Lang has painted should give the thoughtful reader pause as
well as some insight into how doctrinaire thinking can develop and
A. Arthur Gottlieb,
Professor and Chairman
Department of Microbiology/Immunology
Professor of Medicine
Tulane University School of Medicine
1430 Tulane Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70117