Pharyngula

And the Nobel Prize goes to…

It looks like Alex’s predictions for the Nobel Prise this year did not come to pass — although I was thinking McCulloch and Till were likely, so I was wrong, too. The Nobel for Physiology or Medicine has just been announced, and the winners are Harald zur Hausen, for discovering that HPV causes cervical cancer, and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for the discovery of HIV. It’s a viral year this time around.

Comments

  1. #1 wazza
    October 6, 2008

    Did they achieve their victory through a viral campaign?

  2. #2 Michelle
    October 6, 2008

    Who won the nobel for Peace? Another greenie that has nothing to do with peace?

  3. #3 Thinker
    October 6, 2008

    Michelle: the prizes are announced through this week, one per day; I believe the peace prize is announced on Friday.

  4. #4 sachatur
    October 6, 2008

    What about Robert Gallo? Is it fair to exclude him?

  5. #5 Thinker
    October 6, 2008

    Announcement schedule here.

  6. #6 Masks of Eris
    October 6, 2008

    “And the Nobel Prize for Peace 2008 goes to immunologist and viral technician Böse Kaboom, for his *cough* extermination of the entire human *gasp* race *wheeze* *thud*”

    Peace on Earth.

    With apologies for the morbid idea.

  7. #7 Sigmund
    October 6, 2008

    Isn’t it a bit of a snub to the US with Gallo missing out?

  8. #8 NM
    October 6, 2008

    “What about Robert Gallo? Is it fair to exclude him?”

    Considering that it pretty much looks like he cheated to get joint credit with Montagnier, yes it is.

  9. #9 a lurker
    October 6, 2008

    But I thought that mighty Discovery Institute where the check and recheck all their facts until they get it wrong has people who say HIV does not cause AIDS. Do you mean that Phillip E. Johnson, Jonathan Wells, and Tom Bethel are not credible scientists? ;-)

  10. #10 Nick Gotts
    October 6, 2008

    Isn’t it a bit of a snub to the US with Gallo missing out? – Sigmund

    A bit of a snub to cheats and plagiarists I’d say.

  11. #11 Matt Heath
    October 6, 2008

    Hmmm… should I be preparing for the blogosphere to sink under a deluge of HIV-denialist and abstinence-fan ridiculousness?

  12. #12 Didac
    October 6, 2008

    Matt,

    Not only HIV-denialists and abstinence-fans, but also anti-vacciners will be prepared to attack. Here, in Europe, social conservatives are attacking HPV vaccine on grounds that avoiding HPV infection in young women favors some kind of paroxistic promiscuity. It’s a pity that they are wrong ;)

  13. #13 Matt Heath
    October 6, 2008

    Didac: I was counting the anti-HPV-vaxxers as abstinence-fans. They talk the MMR-style-anti-vax line about safety and side-effects, but it’s like you say – they really just aren’t keen on stopping young women who have sex from getting sick.

  14. #14 Lynnai
    October 6, 2008

    ugh, I need coffee, I spend 3/4 of the reading here comments and all before I figured out it wasn’t the Ig Nobel but the ACTUAL Nobel Prize that was beign talked about.

  15. #15 Blaidd Drwg
    October 6, 2008

    Harald zur Hausen – - – - Hmmmmm…

    I know he CLAIMS to be German, but his name SOUNDS a lot like Hussein – so he MUST be one of those Ay-Rab turrists. I say we strip his Nobel, take the prize money, and give it to McCain’s campaign – Now THERE’S a real Amuurican!!11!

    *sarcastic mode off*

  16. #16 Eli
    October 6, 2008

    Psst… it’s spelt priZe, not priSe!

  17. #17 Brian D
    October 6, 2008

    Apologies for the off-topic, but when I see anti-science garbage of any sort, I need to lay down some smack.

    Michelle: If you’d read the IPCC reports (all three, not just WG1′s science report but also WG2′s impacts and WG3′s adaptation reports), you’d see why they deserved a Nobel Peace Prize. If you haven’t worked your way through those reports (they are kinda dry), there’s other similar reports that are much more readable done by the military or security specialists, such as this one (the authors include the head of the National Academy of Sciences, a Nobel economist, a former CIA director, a former Chief of Staff to the President, and a former National Security Adviser to the Vice President) or this one (written by eleven three- and four-star generals and admirals for a group funded by the Navy). Note that neither of these groups are particularly notorious for being “greenies”.

    Gore got it for popularizing their results — and although I disagree with him getting it (as it sort of devalues the IPCC contribution), given how enough folk need to act on climate if we’re to have any chance at all, and how critical governments (like the Bush administration) aren’t going to show initiative, an attempt to hit Joe Public directly seems more effective.

    The point here, however, is that inaction on climate change has the potential to not only be its own threat to world peace, but it also makes almost every other social justice issue harder to deal with. (Does the phrase “environmental refugees” place it in context?)

    We now return to more biology-related claims from others more qualified to speak on the subject than this non-biologist.

  18. #18 Nat
    October 6, 2008

    Cocorico ! This year in France we have a Nobel AND an Ig Nobel prize !! I don’t know which one I prefer…

  19. #19 Jim Hu
    October 6, 2008

    Regarding Gallo, I have a post on the prizes. From what I’ve heard and read, Gallo deserves his reputation as a jerk, but not as a thief.

  20. #20 James F
    October 6, 2008

    Françoise Barré-Sinoussi was almost a co-author of mine on a recent paper – I say almost because she politely declined, saying that her contribution did not warrant authorship. A class act all the way and I’m thrilled that she’s getting the recognition she deserves.

  21. #21 Monado
    October 6, 2008

    Hmmm, no Americans. I hope that’s just a blip and not a slipping of science education!

  22. #22 Matt Heath
    October 6, 2008

    Monado:
    They’ve announced one category. I don’t think it is normal that in a given year the US will win a share of the prize in EVERY category.

    That said, WOOHOO GO EUROPE! Allez! Los! Força! Dawaj!…

  23. #23 Sili
    October 6, 2008

    Even the mainstream press (at least here in Denmark) are asking about Gallo.

    Concensus seems to be that the prize should gone to Hansen alone (or together with other HPV people?) and that the HIV/Aids prize shoulda waited till a vaccine exists. Or summat.

    Also – there’s a book coming out critisising the Nobel Commitee’s choices of Peace Prizers since The War. The author (president of the Norwegian Peace Association (or summat)) considers the reasons given to be too broad and too far removed from the will’s reference to peacemaking and peacecongresses. A good deal of lawyers specialising in inheritance law seem to think he’s got a good point.

  24. #24 SC
    October 6, 2008

    Also – there’s a book coming out critisising the Nobel Commitee’s choices of Peace Prizers since The War. The author (president of the Norwegian Peace Association (or summat)) considers the reasons given to be too broad and too far removed from the will’s reference to peacemaking and peacecongresses. A good deal of lawyers specialising in inheritance law seem to think he’s got a good point.

    That’s interesting.

    Incidentally, a segment from one of my favorite interviews on The Colbert Report, which may have been reported here:

    Stephen Colbert: You’ve said that anyone who grew up on a farm knows that evolution exists. Okay… Are you saying that a monkey can milk a cow?
    Dr. Peter Agre: Well, if I can milk a cow, I suspect a monkey as smart as I am could milk a cow.
    Stephen Colbert: Are there monkeys as smart as you are?
    Dr. Peter Agre: I’m sure there’re quite a few.
    Stephen Colbert: Really?
    Dr. Peter Agre: Mmm hmm.
    Stephen Colbert: Do they give a Nobel Prize for throwing your own feces?
    Dr. Peter Agre: That’s the economics prize, I think.

    Zing!

    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/76990/october-19-2006/peter-agre

  25. #25 sunny
    October 6, 2008

    its awesome to see that Luc Montagnier and not gallo won the nobel prize. its one thing to steal another mans discovery but to announce it to the media before peer review, thats just unscientific. go luc you deserve the prize!!

  26. #26 Jonathan Vos Post
    October 6, 2008

    Gallo gets plenty of deserved credit for later stuff. He’s doing just fine.

    What a nice coincidence that this happened just as my 10th grade Bio and 11th grade Anatomy & Physiology classes were ready to learn about virus structure and function.

  27. #27 The Denialists
    October 11, 2008

    As so many of you are waiting with baited breath for the hiv “denialist” response, I wanted to let you know the following has been sent to all of the 2008 Nobel committee members:

    To the esteemed Ladies and Gentleman of the Karolinska Institue, and members of the 2008 Nobel Prize Committee,

    I, and many thousands of others worldwide, in the name of Alfred Nobel, humbly ask that you reconsider the 2008 Nobel Prize award in medicine, and revoke the prestigious the awards to Barre-Sinousi and Montagnier until
    purification of a retrovirus that causes aids is fully and unquestionably independently established and verified to have a high degree of probability. After 25 years of ever increasing public doubt, Alfred Nobel himself would demand of you nothing less than the highest due diligence in this matter.

    The reasons we find for revocation are many, but to be short and concise, I present to you the following facts:

    Professor Bjorn Vennstrom, who was on the Nobel nominating committee, immediately following the award was given to Luc Montagnier, said in a radio interview that he hoped the award would silence those who claim that HIV does not cause AIDS.

    He said: “We hope this will put an end to conspiracy theories and others who defend ideas that are not founded in research.”

    Though we have great difficulty understanding why any “scientist” would wish for anyone not to question any and everything, the only thing that will ever silence those who question HIV is not science by consensus or award, but credible science itself.

    Pr. Vennstrom’s words are evidence of his bias and political and emotional viewpoint on this matter, and are not founded in the presented scientific evidences.

    By the way, Vennstrom was also postdocing from 1980-1982 in SF with Bishop and Varmus, who became oncogene Nobelists in 1989. But, there is as yet no evidence that “oncogenes” from human or animal cancers can transform normal cells to cancer cells. Yet, the questions- “why?” are no longer, “scientifically correct” since the Nobel Prize closed the case. Roma locuta causa finita.

    Now the Nobel committee has done just the same with HIV, which Varmus’ committee, including Montagnier but NOT Gallo, named Human Immunodeficiency Virus in 1986 without proof that this virus can cause immunodeficiency (Science,1986).

    Another obvious bias on the Nobel committee, is Professor Jan Andersson, who was interviewed as the “spokesperson” for the committee’ selection of Luc Montagnier, immediately after the award to Montagnier was announced. Professor
    Andersson is himself an HIV researcher with his own grants and “science” that is also highly threatened by those worldwide thousands who question HIV.

    Quite obviously these two Nobel committee members were instrumental in urging the 2008 committee to give Luc Montagnier his award. And in so doing, the committee has not demonstrated non-biased nor credible science as their measure in awarding the prize. It is clear to many looking at this situation that bias, politics, and self interests are at stake.

    Furthermore, the award to Luc Montagnier for purifying (isolating) hiv is unconscionable, considering that in a 1993 interview, Montagnier himself said about HIV, and I quote: “I repeat, we did NOT purify”.
    http://www.virusmyth.com/aids/hiv/dtinterviewlm.htm

    If perchance anyone ever does succeed in purifying isolated hiv from those said to be “infected”, it would at minimum be required to have something more conclusive than Robert Gallo’s presented “evidence” that hiv is the cause of aids, which evidence consisted of 36 out of 72 of his “aids patients” showing reverse transcriptase (RT) activity. (Science 1984)

    RT is not restricted, as was formerly believed by earlier retrovirologists and scientists, to be exclusive to retroviral activity. RT is known to also be caused by yeasts and can also be detected in other occasions as well. RT activity is also not any proof whatsoever of any retrovirus causing any disease.

    Furthermore, Gallo’s “evidence of RT as causation” presented a mere 40 percent of his “aids patients” showed RT activity! A mere 40 percent is far removed from any high probability of disease causation.

    However, those worldwide thousands who DO question HIV as the cause of AIDS are indeed quite pleased that Robert Gallo has been brushed from Nobel history. For this, we do sincerely thank you.

    Be assured, that as soon as “we who question HIV” have credible independent science to back Montagnier and Gallo’s claims, such as purified retrovirus taken directly from the blood sera of immunocompromised hiv positives, such as
    evidence of high probability of disease causation by such a retrovirus, we will be glad to silence our own questioning selves, and we will be glad to join with the believers of the faith that HIV is the cause of AIDS.

    Until then, I, and many thousands of others, in the name of Alfred Nobel, again humbly ask that you reconsider the 2008 Nobel Prize award for medicine, and revoke this prestigious award until purification and proof of causation of a retrovirus that causes aids is fully and unquestionably independently established and verified. I remind you again that Alfred Nobel himself would demand of you nothing less than the highest due diligence in this matter.

    Unless you do so, the award itself becomes dishonored as a meaningless display of this generation’s climate of unsupported scientific claims, based on bias, financial and political motivations, conscensus science, and popular belief instead of proven, verified, scientifically backed evidence.