Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Challenging the Scientific "Priesthood" on World AIDS Day

Today's (12/1/09) New York Times article by John Tierney, "E-Mail Fracas Shows Peril of Trying to Spin Science," points to the self-serving efforts of British climate scientists to block perfectly legitimate requests by other scientists to see the raw climate data on which their public proclamations about man-made global warming were based as well as their "plotting revenge against those who question the dangers of global warming" and planning "retaliation against the journal and the editor" who dared to publish a skeptic's paper.

As any 9th grade science student knows, silencing of other points of view and ad hominem attacks are the opposite of the open debate and access to raw data that is essential to true scientific debate and progress.

But, on World AIDS Day, it's important for us to realize that man-made global warming is not the only sphere where official dogma reigns, or where suppression/misrepresentation of data and alternative viewpoints are practiced.

Consider the suppression by leading journals and UNAIDS of reports and articles by researchers like Ted Green and Norman Hearst showing that the condom strategy for reducing the spread of AIDS in generalized epidemics such as exist in sub-Saharan Africa was failing and that the ABc approach emphasizing abstinence for youth and monogamy/partner reduction among the sexually active was having lifesaving success in reducing the prevalence of HIV infections in Uganda by two thirds (from 15% to 5%). The stubborn and blind refusal to consider a new approach because of political or ideological agendas in the U.S. and at the United Nations has contributed to the deaths of millions of Africans.

The recent CDC report "Group-based Interventions to Prevent Adolescent Pregnancy, HIV, and Other STDs," which stated the effectiveness of programs that include condom instruction, is another example of agenda-driven science, released just in time to affect proposals in Congress to cut funding for abstinence education programs and to shift it to "evidence-based" programs that promote condom use.

The CDC refuses to release the underlying statistics for public scrutiny by other scientists. Sound familiar?

In the supposedly open and democratic West, which prides itself on basing public policy on evidence, reason and legitimate science, that shouldn't be acceptable, but most of the media docilely accepts pronouncements from experts whose proclamations we are supposed to accept on faith. Shame on the "scientific priesthood," shame on much of the media and shame on us for allowing unexamined claims and half-truths to endanger the physical and emotional health and lives of youth in this country and around the world.

Richard Panzer, Ph.D.
Moderator and Director
Free Teens USA

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