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Wednesday, June 24, 2009


In reply to a letter by Steuart Campbell on the the utility of nuclear power a prat wrote in to give alternate figures from - well read for yourself
PETER Roche (Letter, 23 June) has been kind enough to say where his figures for the possible future cost of nuclear power came from – the Vermont Law School. In Britain and the US, most politicians are lawyers, whereas in China most are engineers.

With this law school knowing so much more engineering than the engineers (who say that at 1.7p a unit, nuclear is far less expensive) we must all be glad to be ruled by lawyers, otherwise we might now be in a recession as bad as China's 8 per cent growth.
I am told that the Vermont Law School report is so meandering as to be incomprehensible which means they are either very bad or very good lawyers, depending on whether they trying to inform or conceal, but either way very poor engineers.

I also sent Jerry Pournelle the previously discussed report from the World health Organisation about how all those promises of a widespread epidemic of infectious AIDS was no longer operative.

Jerry had previously, while not saying that infectious AIDS is a scam, made these reasonable points:

...Peter Duesberg, Chief Virologist of the University of California, said he did not accept the HIV = AIDS hypothesis, and proposed an experimentum crucium which would falsify the HIV causes AIDS hypothesis. As I recall he asked for ten millions of dollars; this from a budget of over a billion earmarked for AIDS research. (AIDS research funding very quickly grew to huge numbers, larger than the amounts earmarked for breast cancer, a matter of some concern to women's organizations.) He didn't get the money, and much of the scientific community turned on him with a vengeance. He was called an unqualified quack. In those days "AIDS Denialist" hadn't been invented as an accusation, but there are few epithets that were not hurled at him.

There are several problems here. First, Duesberg was hardly a quack, and had he requested a hundred million dollars for HIV research without stating his opposition to the HIV = AIDS hypothesis he probably would have got it -- he was, after all, a key figure in the discovery of the retrovirus, and was among the leading figures in virus research. One would have thought that the simplest way to deal with him would have been to give him the ten million and see what he did with it; one would have thought that his reputation would have earned that much.

Second, given the billion dollars to be spent on AIDS research -- just about all of it to be spent on the HIV = AIDS hypothesis -- it would seem to be a simple act of prudence to invest in a crucial test of the central hypothesis driving all that research. The evidence for the HIV = AIDS hypothesis may have been pretty strong, but it wasn't overwhelming them.

And, finally, the incident raises the general question of consensus science: in an era in which funding is largely governed by the peer review process, how do dissenters fare? What if the general consensus be wrong? That wouldn't be unprecedented. nor is the use of ridicule as a major argument against those with new ideas. (Recall "Tell me, Mr. Darwin, on which side of your family are you descended from an ape?" There was, after all, a time when "Creation Denialist" was a pretty serious charge...

I'm not an AIDS Denialist -- but because I have no expertise on the subject, and the only thing I've read about it in years is the New Scientist article I cite above; read that and you'll know all I do about it

I answer to my item he said

Actually, the threat of heterosexual AIDS and the question of why the discrepancy in heterosexual between the US and Africa may be an entirely different question from the HIV = AIDS hypothesis. The threat of heterosexual AIDS epidemics was originally a major factor in obtaining AIDS research funds. That's no longer such a critical factor. Until the actual cause of AIDS was known, the mechanisms of AIDS propagation were pretty hard to determine.

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1.Related, but if I remember correctly liberals in Vermont were trying, and may have succeeded, at shutting down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The report you mention may have been part of the Vermont liberal's attempt to go backward in time technologically. I think I saw the reference to killing the plant a few years ago in Vermont's official state electrical plan. I think I found the plan as a result of pointlessly wandering the internet looking for information of moving to that state. Did you know that Vermont does not have a single electricity company, but instead has a grid fragmented among at least ten different owners?

2. The New American had a sidebar to an article a few years ago claiming that most AIDS cases in Africa may be *medically* transmitted in dirty facilities.
1 - Thanks, I had forgotten Vermont's reputation as the most illiberal (by the traditional definition of the word) state in the Union.

2 - AIDS in Africa is not detected by medical testing for HIV but simply by saying "he looks ill". That must leave doubt as to whether it is genuine.
There are a lot of contenders for the title of most liberal.
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