Nobel vs Nobel

Luc Montagnier was once one of Gods of Science.

Dude was head of one of the groups of scientists who ultimately discovered HIV-1 was the cause of the AIDS pandemic.

Wonderful science that amazes me-- The things they could do when we didnt know anything, when they didnt have the technology that I have-- Amazing.

Im not the only one-- Montagnier got part of the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2008 for his part of the work.

And then... something went wrong...

As cataloged by Orac, Montagnier started pushing any number of absurd, if not blatantly anti-science agendas-- from homeopathy and autism woo, to something about DNA teleportation (read: contamination of PCR) and electromagnetic fields of DNA and treatment of disease or something...

... yeah...

Okay, well, there are no real Gods of Science.  We are all human, you take the good stuff scientists have done and toss the dumb stuff.  Montagniers dumb stuff does not mean HIV-1 does not cause AIDS.

And nutters gonna nut.  What can you do?

Well, Montagnier is not just any old nutter.  He just got his paws on a brand new research center in Cameroon, that was desperate to find a scientific and administrative director.

So now Montagnier is not just some old nutter derping around on the internet.  Hes involved with a research organization that has access to individuals that are already at risk of being victims of HIV-woo, and now he could potentially use these people as guinea pigs for his own brand of woo-- God knows what this guy will try, and what the organizations advisory board will let him try, out of ignorance and desire to keep their Nobel Prize winning director.

He also plans to embark on new research, including a “key project” using his electromagnetic-wave theory to detect reservoirs of HIV in the body that persist after antiretroviral treatment.

Who even knows what that means? Sure it might be useless, but what if it causes harm?  Where are the cell culture models for his 'electromagnetic-wave theory' in Retrovirology?  Where are his animal models in Journal of Experimental Medicine?  NOPE!  STRAIGHT to vulnerable human populations!  Thats ethical lol :-|

Thirty-five other Nobel Prize winners wrote to the president of Cameroon urging him to replace Montagnier:

The laureates argue that his embrace of theories that are far from the scientific mainstream, as well as what they claim are anti-vaccination views, risk hurting the CIRCB’s research, health-care programme and reputation. Montagnier has suggested, for example, that water can retain a ‘memory’ of pathogens that are no longer present; that the DNA sequences of pathogens emit electromagnetic waves that could be used to diagnose disease; and that stimulating the immune system with antioxidants and nutritional supplements may help people to fight off AIDS.


The last straw for Montagnier’s critics seems to have been his appearance in May alongside vaccine sceptics at a conference in Chicago, Illinois, organized by US patient-advocacy groups AutismOne and Generation Rescue. Montagnier’s talk, on his hypothesis that bacterial infections may be one of many causes of autism spectrum disorder, states: “There is in the blood of most autistic children — but not in healthy children — DNA sequences that emit, in certain conditions, electromagnetic waves.”


Montagnier deplores what he describes as “ad hominem attacks” and “plain lies”, and says that there is an “ignominious campaign” against him and his group. He says that history is full of pioneers whose ideas were at first given a chilly reception by a conservative research community. “I believe this is happening again to me, and it is very sad that it involves Nobel Prize laureates attacking a fellow laureate,” he says.

Someone elses nutty ideas are not my problem.

Someone elses nutty ideas misleading (at best) or actively harming (at worst) vulnerable populations in the name of 'HIV Research' is my problem.

Im glad thirty-five Nobel Prize winners stepped up to do something about it.

More like this

“But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”
― Carl Sagan

By Optimus Primate (not verified) on 20 Jun 2012 #permalink

The ideas of Luc for a couple of years are a pile of totally crazy woo. But what makes me wonder is that I must have missed the long list of Nobel Laureates* who spoke out against the fraud committed by Frank Ruscetti. After all, what would it have meant to stop the spread of HIV one year earlier? It makes me think that it is easier to out a crazy loon, than it is to out a well connected and respected researcher – you wouldn't know anything about this, Abbie?

"Dude was head of one of the groups of scientists who ultimately discovered HIV-1 was the cause of the AIDS pandemic."

How awfully nice and backwards-bending of you towards Frank. Read up on how Frank held back research for HIV for one year – John Crewdson's book is affordable second hand even for grad students.


* I wonder, is the current list dominated by US Nobel Laureates?

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 20 Jun 2012 #permalink

Substitute Frank Ruscetti with Bob Gallo. Got my arch villains mixed up – blame it on my brain fog.

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 20 Jun 2012 #permalink

One of the most important lessons my mentor taught me: brilliant scientists can sometimes have the dumbest of ideas. And the craziest people sometimes have flashes of brilliance. I've witnessed both of these events first hand as well.

But yeah, sucks that someone like that might actually influence the health and lives of a large number of people. Sadly, the world is a big place and the probability of this crap not happening sometime, somewhere, is vanishingly small.

Linus Pauling, William Shockley, Kerry Mullis, and Brian Josephson anyone?

Say, does he happen to do a lot of his 'scanning' somewhere that has a microwave?

I only ask because I am reminded of a time when I was pulled over for doing 36 in a 25. The conversation went something like this:

Do you know why I pulled you over?



Oh? How fast?

36. Lots of people are having this problem today.

Really? I notice it's a bit warm out. Would you by chance happen to have the AC on?


Try turning it off and traffic will miraculously stop being all 36.

Wait here.

Oh yeah, I'll do that.

Say, uh, how'd you know it would do that?

Well, you should read your RaDAR manual and pay attention in certification. We teach that kind of thing.

In other words, the chances that something else is causing an artifact than Scotty's sensors are really picking up cloaked Klingon/Romulan/HIV assault forces.

There is nothing wrong coming up a theory no matter how absurd it might look like. The very wrong thing is to apply that theory to human being without testing in cell/animal models.

By Dahui You (not verified) on 20 Jun 2012 #permalink

And nutters gonna nut.

I'm offended, aroused and concerned.

Justicar, it is worse than that. He didn't need a microwave because he used an unsheilded system and used a PC soundboard based amplifier and signal analyzer.

The problem is the system of how funding and kudos is awarded in science. Humans like to use a top-down social hierarchy because that is how the Patriarchy works, the alpha male at the top gets all the females and all the other males are scrabbling to climb their way to the top so they can replace him.

Striving for social power is what many humans do best. If you allow your system of funding and kudos to be hijacked by such people, it will be hijacked by people who are good at competing in a social power hierarchy. Doing good science is much harder than striving for social power. Humans have been successfully striving for social power for longer than there have been humans. People have been doing science for only a few generations, and for the most part, doing good science doesn't (all by itself) bring funding and kudos.

Trash talking other people's results is part of the “game” that “successful” “scientists” are forced to play or they don't get funding or kudos and can't continue working at doing science.

By daedalus2u (not verified) on 21 Jun 2012 #permalink

This is the 'Nobel Disease' a la Orac of "Respectful Insolence"... I think we train our Nobel Prize to behave this way, like Pavlovian conditioning of a dog to get excited when we walk in the door (sorry, Arnie) eventually leading to them jumping and peeing all over the floor.

We reward their dangerous and outrageous gambits with awards and praise, while ignoring the patient and careful researcher who toils away for a lifetime without making that shocking discovery because she took fewer risks, spent more time mentoring, or aimed a bit lower.

We pat the scientific rebels on the head, hand them a medal and a large cash prize, then they sit in their Dean or Director's office and think about what their next big thing will be... clearly the world needs their daring and counter-intuitive intellect. They can't be reduced to working on simple problems with simple solutions. So they begin to look for the world-altering, paradigm-changing ideas that they can champion, can use to catapult themselves back into the scientific lime-light once more.

It's admirable when a Nobel laureate manages to stay humble and grounded, because it would be so very easy to go the other direction.

I've always liked Montagnier, but he's just a human being, and an aging human at that.

By c0nc0rdance (not verified) on 21 Jun 2012 #permalink

I've always had some respect for Frank Ruscetti for sticking it out with Bob Gallo for so long. If I were him, I think would have quit after a few months.

ERV states: "now he could potentially use these people as guinea pigs for his own brand of woo– God knows what this guy will try"

Help me out please. You are not exactly sure what Dr. Montagnier will do, but you are pretty sure in advance that it will be a bad thing. Because he has gone over to the dark side and has woo for brains now. Or something like that.

Or if one searches through your thoughts on the matter for specifics, then it is this thing about using some sort of "electromagnetic-wave theory" on patients that might possibly cause a harm that you state you do not understand or have any clue about? Wow. How did you feel when the entire cell phone industry let microwave radiation run wild on the world population without any adequate animal testing or real science to back up the assertion that it was a completely safe technology?

Or How do you feel about numerous pharmacy companies' hiding negative findings about their products from the FDA and the general public? Or how do you feel about the decades long campaign by tobacco companies to obfuscate and hide the connection of smoking to cancer?

It is not the insane or loopy scientists that pose the most danger to society in my opinion. Rather, it is the scientists who have been bought out for commercial gain. Time and time again you can trace the worst bad science incidents to the money source. I am not seeing that here.

You are just attacking the man in a pretty general fashion. Which is your prerogative, but non-compelling to us non-scientist types. I am "on-board" with the connection of HIV to AIDS. Not because I know the science, but because of the folks I knew and were close to that became HIV+ then died before their time. However, the 900+ billion dollars that has been spent on HIV to date assures me that the science of HIV/AIDS is not perfect, and that imperfection is likely in some way related to commercialism.

I don't know much about Dr. Montagnier at all, but I did see him interviewed extensively for the documentary "House of Numbers" on Netflix the other day. There were also interviews with Dr. Gallo, Anthony Fauci, Robyn Weiss, Dr. Koch, CDC types, and many other scientific big names. They all appeared to be egotistic and non-authentic, continually contradicting each other and mostly clueless individuals. All but Dr. Montagnier that is. So I guess I see why you are concerned.

Robin (note spelling) Weiss is A Dude. He's incredibly intelligent, very sharp despite being a pensioner, still doing really interesting work looking for monoclonal antibodies to HIV, and also extremely nice. I met him last year when I had my hand in a plaster cast, and he helped carry my bag and poured tea for me. He's interested in talking to students about their science (which many PIs aren't!). Certainly not egotistical, false or clueless, Levi.

My favorite part of Dr. Montagnier's statement was " it is very sad that it involves Nobel Prize laureates attacking a fellow laureate" Sorry, but getting a Nobel prize jsut means that the work you did in the past merited recognition. It does not mean that any crap you do afterwards is beyond criticism. Please go back to real science.

By Poodle Stomper (not verified) on 22 Jun 2012 #permalink

Re Levi @ 1;31 am

Ah gee, Mr. Levi uses the big pharma ploy to question whether HIV is the cause of AIDS. I have a flash for him, Montagnier, Mullis, and Duesberg are whackjobs. The evidence that HIV is the cause of AIDS is overwhelming and accepted by 99% of the researchers in the field. Denial of HIV/AIDS is on a par with evolution denial, birthism, and trooferism. It is the province of the IDiots at the Dishonesty Institute.


Boy, I sure hope you are not a scientist because you quite apparently can not read. I have NEVER questioned that HIV is the causal for AIDS. How can you read my post above and possibly come up with that whopper?

Granted, Robyn Weiss did not really seem so clueless in the "House of Numbers" documentary. Like you say, he seems pretty sharp. BUT, the other big name scientists were slamming him right and left for his views on HIV testing and contradicted him 100%.

Re Levi @ 6:03 pm

Well, I have to admit that I didn't read Mr. Levi's comment very carefully. As soon as I saw him apparently taking a positive attitude towards Dr. Montagnier, and his slam against big pharma, I jumped to the conclusion that he was agreeing with the good Nobel Laurette' s HIV/AIDS denial position. I am glad to see that he does accept the HIV/AIDS position, albeit with the aforementioned jeremiad against big pharma.

By the way, in my list of scientific lunatic HIV/AIDS deniers, I forgot the late Lynn Margulis (who was also a 9/11 troofer). Oddly enough, several years ago, she was given a thread over at PZ Myers' blog and I plead guilty to outing her as an HIV/AIDS denier.

And, by the way, I actually have a PhD in elementary particle physics, albeit one that was awarded a million years ago.


No worries. I read right past Charl's correcting me on the spelling of Robin Weiss's name and used it incorrectly a second time. But I know that I have a problem absorbing 100% of what I read, and just do the best I can in spite of it.

" Montagnier has suggested, for example,and that stimulating the immune system with antioxidants and nutritional supplements may help people to fight off AIDS."

Abbie, what worries me is that you seem to have no sense of enquiry. What is the problem with thinking that eating well may have an effect on your immune system?

I mean something as simple as scurvy can make your whole body fall apart and that is only vitamin C.

Have you actually seen the 'house of numbers' film, it's not Luc that looks bad, it's the whole damn lot of scientists from the CDC downwards!

By buckthetrend (not verified) on 26 Jun 2012 #permalink

'Denial of HIV/AIDS is on a par with evolution denia'
When I was a teenager we were all told we were going to die from HIV/AIDS. I don't know anyone in my peer group who has died from either, it does seem a bit weird this prophacy because it aint stacking up.

The African stats on AIDS levels are not based on lab blood test confirmations they are just visual check list diagnosis.

It's hard to buy into this problem when the evidence is just based on clinical obs.

By buckthetrend (not verified) on 26 Jun 2012 #permalink

You obviously don't understand. Montagnier is the Good kind of Nobelist, whose views are infallible. By opposing Montagnier the other Nobelists show that they are the Bad type of Nobelist, in the grip of the Big Pharma Conspiracy. Montagnier is developing the Good type of vaccine, which does not cause autism because he is the Good kind of Nobelist, whereas the others are working on the Bad type of vaccine which does cause autism simply through association with the Big Pharma Conspiracy.

It really is so simple I am astounded that people don't understand.

By Guy Chapman (not verified) on 27 Jun 2012 #permalink