Deniers also paint themselves as skeptics working to break down a misguided and deeply rooted belief. They argue that when mainstream scientists speak out against the scientific “orthodoxy,” they are persecuted and dismissed. For example, HIV deniers make much of the demise of Peter Duesberg's career, claiming that when he began speaking out against HIV as the cause of AIDS, he was “ignored and discredited” because of his dissidence . South African President Mbeki went even further, stating: “In an earlier period in human history, these [dissidents] would be heretics that would be burnt at the stake!” .
HIV deniers accuse scientists of quashing dissent regarding the cause of AIDS, and not allowing so-called “alternative” theories to be heard. However, this claim could be applied to any well-established scientific theory that is being challenged by politically motivated pseudoscientific notions—for example, creationist challenges to evolution. Further, as HIV denial can plausibly reduce compliance with safe sex practices and anti-HIV drugs, potentially costing lives, this motivates the scientific and health care communities to exclude HIV denial from any public forum. (As one editorial has bluntly phrased it, HIV denial is “deadly quackery”) . Because HIV denial is not scientifically legitimate, such exclusion is justified, but it further fuels the deniers' claims of oppression.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Denial of science can be dressed in leftist or rightist garb but as described in the PLOS medical online journal, it follows universal patterns.
Posted by Michael Tobis at 4:47 PM