Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sir John Maddox -Nature Editor - Critical Eulogy

Sir John Maddox, editor of Nature Magazine, is getting lionized following his recent death.
Three cheers, Hip-Hip, give-em-a-medal, etc.    The Economist magazine carries an article recently, about "the man who reinvented science journalism"
http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13525812

On that one score, I agree, but on nothing else.  He removed science journalism from ordinary reporters who used their common sense and judgement to evaluate new claims and medicines, and put it into the hands of cadres of lap-dog journalists, who never dared to criticize anything except when told to do so by the high-ups at journals like Nature.  "Science News" thereafter became a stream of propaganda and press-releases from monied interests, while quiet and serious science -- especially that which might threaten those same interests -- was treated with malicious contempt.

For example, I'll always remember John Maddox as the man who sanctified the censorship of Dr. Peter Duesberg's important criticisms of the HIV theory of AIDS, refusing to allow him the right of rebuttal against malicious personal attack and misrepresentation of his ideas in Nature by HIV fundamentalists. Maddox also was the guy who engineered the smear campaign against Dr. Jacques Benveniste, organizing a cadre of CSICOP fanatics to disrupt his laboratory, thereby making a pretense and sham of scientific investigations of homeopathic dilution experiments. After his retirement from Nature, he was honored by CSCIOP -- the "professional skeptics" who include every notable book-burner and smear-expert in the world -- with a fine dinner and probably a medal or something.

This, and little else, is what authentic history will record for Mr. Maddox's tenure at Nature, how he personally helped train-wreck important scientific discovery which could have saved millions of lives -- HIV still has not been proven the "cause of AIDS" and clear factors which kill people continue to be ignored in favor of it, even while homeopathic medicines continue to work quite well, thank you very much, in spite of the smack-down engineered by Nature.

Nature magazine sports full-page slick advertisements by drug and bio-tech companies on fully 50% of its pages, but of course, this has nothing to do with the content of the articles, we are told (Ha!). I subscribed for awhile, but found its strident anti-American tone to be the straw that ended my interest. Perhaps that has something to do with Mr. Maddox' prior tenure at the left-wing Guardian newspaper.

What he did do, was to take a small but honest scientific journal, controlled by scientists, and turn it into a slick cheer-leading propaganda rag for the pharmaceutical industry, uncritically supporting every stripe and kind of Big Science and Big Medicine. The public has not been well served by this transition, and neither have authentic scientific or medical-health considerations.

So, no, I cannot share this misplaced enthusiasm for a man who was a sell-out, faker and pretender to scientific principles and ethics, who was quite more the clever politician.  Certainly he was not alone in this regard, as a new breed of scientism has so nearly taken over at the directorship-editorship levels of most of our leading research institutions, universities and hospitals.

James DeMeo, Ph.D.

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