The other day I received an email forward from my friend Peter Duesberg that I could not help adding my two centivos to. And seeing as how Peter's letter was so academically pristine and clearly a case of pearls before swine, I decided to write the physics prof at SMU, to whom it was addressed, what I was sure would elicit a reply, and a determinative one as well regarding the 'pearls before swine' proposition.
The forwarded string concerned a course in "Debunking Pseudoscience", offered by a prof. Scalise at SMU, which includes objecting to the questioning of the HIV=AIDS=Death equation by Peter Duesberg and others. Its content can be examined at the professor's website.
Peter had been very recently alerted to the site, and because his wife and 10 year old son have left him a soltero while they holiday in Germany, he had some spare time to examine it. [He could not go with Siggi and Max as there is no one else to feed and otherwise care for the hundreds of culture dishes with their precisely indexed cells that represent his latest experimental tests of predictions of the numerical chromosome imbalance (aneuploidy) theory of cancer initiation and progression.]
He wrote prof. Scalise as follows:
"Dear colleague Randall Scalise,
You may be surprised to hear from me that we have one thing in common: We both defend classical scientific standards against pseudo-scientists.
In view of this may I make a suggestion to you? I would recommend to be a little more tolerant and forgiving or even courteous to current scientific minorities.
After all, all scientific innovation came from minorities, eg. Galileo, Planck, Einstein, who used to say 'The important thing is not to stop questioning'.
So as a professor myself, I encourage my students to "dissent", but ask them to be prepared for "questions".
A penny for your thoughts or questions, Peter Duesberg"
I was already familiar with this sibling site of AIDSTruthiness, and I quickly wrote him this:
"Dear "colleague" Scalise,
Since you do profess to teach, and I am quite certain you have never even looked at the Amazon reviews of my biography of Prof. Duesberg, a copy of this email to the Ms. Boyd in the cc field with your mailing address will quickly get a free, review copy to you.
Of course you do not have to review it, but I would expect that somebody with your CV would at least make an attempt to read it. Others with little or no formal education in biology have, as well as a host of those with the most advanced degrees and impeccable scientific credentials possible, as can be easily found by typing some code words into a Google or similar engine [hint for the cyber-challenged: "Harvey Bialy, AIDS Wiki"]. -- bialy"
And as I knew it would, the expected reply arrived the next day. It was even better than I might have imagined. But by now, nothing these pods do should really surprise anyone.
"Dear "colleague" Bialy,
I did read the Amazon Reviews just now. Here is my favorite:
Mr. Bialy's opus. Science fiction at its worst.
July 19, 2006
Reviewer: Manny Kimmel (Ohio)
Mr. Bialy's journeyman's prose never fails to bore. He creates a parallel universe in which the modern-day plague of AIDS is a fiction created by greedy and ambitious scientists, politicians, activists, Pharma executivies, and other assorted henchmen.
Against this backdrop of evil, we are given a Christ figure, played by a scientist at a California university who would save the world from the great lie that is AIDS.
Oddly, Mr. Bialy's descriptions of our hero smacks of a schoolgirl crush. Would that we had learned whether this curious realtionship was ever consummated.
Mr. Bialy takes a halfway good science fiction story idea (what if HIV were harmless??) and beats it to death with excrutiating, ham-handed detail.
Life is too short for this kind of drivel. Shame on me for wasting several hours of my life on this nonsense. Shame on YOU if you repeat my mistake.
Have an enlightened day, -- Randall J. Scalise"
I replied (in lc) that his choice of favorite review said all I needed to know about him. As of now, Peter has not yet received a reply to his own missive, although he, and a raft of others were copied on Randall's email to me in which he flaunts his idiocy. I know that some of his past and present students will shortly be reading this, and I hope that a good many potential future ones also do, as a warning. [Note for the truly devious: On my sainted mother's ashes, I am not Manny Kimmel.]
Harvey Bialy is the founding scientific editor of Nature Biotechnology, and the editor of "You Bet Your Life".