The Politics of a Scientific Meeting

“The Politics of a Scientific Meeting: The Origin-of-AIDS Debate at the Royal Society” by Brian Martin, from Politics and the Life Sciences 20 (2) 119-130 (September 2005).

A note of explanation about the late publication of this article

The official date on the published version of this article is September 2001, and yet it was actually published four years after that, in late 2005.

The previous year, the then-editor of “Politics and the Life Sciences” (PLS) had published a lengthy explanation for a four-year delay in publication of an earlier issue of the journal. This was apparently due to “threats of legal action, accusations of misconduct, letters to university officials, [and] termination of the journal‘s publication contract” with a small British publisher who felt that his company could not risk publication when defamation threats had been made (Gary R. Johnston, “Science, Sulloway, and birth order: an ordeal and an assessment”, PLS, 19(2), September 2000, pp. 211-245 [appearing in print 2004]).

In a letter to Brian Martin, this editor said that the British publisher of PLS, on hearing about Brian Martin‘s forthcoming PLS paper “Politics of a scientific meeting”, had expressed similar reservations about publishing due to the risk of legal action. PLS, resisting the pressure to ask authors to make changes in order to limit the risk of defamation, switched to self-publication for subsequent issues of the journal, a change that caused additional delay.

This provides an insight into another (more indirect) way in which suppression of free speech may occur. On one level, we have the rather comprehensive cover-up that has been taking place about the origins of AIDS. I now possess copious evidence (much of it documentary evidence) proving that in the past six years conference organisers, journal and book publishers, TV executives, film festival organisers, journalists, scientists and eye-witnesses have come under either overt or tacit pressure from doctors Koprowski and/or Plotkin, or from one or several of their scientific supporters, legal representatives or “hired hands”. Since the world of Science has failed dismally to bury “the ugly theory” (that the AIDS pandemic was sparked by a man-made vaccine) by sound scientific methods, these persons have instead resorted to stealth (together with “smoke and mirrors”, ie obfuscation and untruths). Indeed, this seems to be how the most effective of cover-ups are staged.

Yet such activity also has a secondary impact. The knowledge that people such as Koprowski are highly litigious (or even simply that they are in the habit of using the threat of litigation as a manipulative tool) does cause a general frisson of nervousness among those who are responsible for publishing articles that Koprowski might not like, which causes many editors or publishers to reject such articles, or else (as in this case) contributes to horrible delays. This is therefore yet another way in which those who fear the broadcasting of certain information or ideas can attempt to suppress “ugly theories.”

Ed Hooper, 9/3/06