Peer Review: MORE COMMENTS

U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu
Sun Jan 14 04:59:25 EST 1996



On Sat, 13 Jan 1996 10:33:59 -0500 (EST) Alexander Berezin
<berezin at mcmail.CIS.McMaster.CA> wrote:

>> [playing at devil's advocate... asking the types of questions a
>> typical Joe Lab would?]
>>
>> But then by what standards due we judge excellence in our
>> community?
>
>> Do we have to pour over countless papers looking for high
>> caliber work... instead of supposedly having it available in a
>> hand full of 'prestigious' journals?

>Question to the above statement:

>How strong is the EVIDENCE that for, say, last 20 - 30 years a lot
>of 'really importanat' developments came from articles published
>in Nature or Science. (and those which were in obscure places all
>were 'unimportant').

I don't know.  But that's not the point.  Because most believe
this, whether it's true or not?

>How strong is this correlation IN REAL (again, what are the FACTS,
>not wishy-washy).

Fact... most people try to aim to have their work published in such
journals in the first place.

Do I feel a circular argument coming on?

>Present researchers are for the most only pretend that want to
>crack the 'secrets of nature'. In fact, what they in ovevwhelming
>majority do are collecting 'data'. (often, but, of course not
>always, data are fraudulent, tossed or overwise corrupted). The
>type of data needed for the game is such that they (the data) can
>be conveniently packed as 'original research papers' to be
>approved by same-breed 'peer reviewers' (round robin principle) -
>to be published in 'preseguous journals' - to be used in funding
>spiral - to be cloned again, etc, etc , ...

>(we certaily discussed this story 100 times over).

Well, for the 101st time (which may be my lucky number?)... how do
you break this pretense?  Short of brainwashing?

"I believe in what I am doing!"
"It's valid!" [the, 'we don't need no stinking controls' attitude]
"They're dying anyway, what does it matter?"
"Well, you know, in this case, the ends justifies the means, Kathy"

And my personal favorite..." After all, it is only research"

If only I a nickel for every time I have been told these things...
Well, I wouldn't be rich... for in a job situation, it's not too
good of an idea to constantly be pointing this stuff out?...

But I bet I would have enough to at least buy a new computer?

>> And how would I know if something was worth calling my broker
>> about if Science or Nature wasn't there to tell us which ones
>> are 'mainstream' and *hot topics* - with full text to back it
>> up?

>Don't bother to call brocker - random darts to select stocks
>consistently overperform all 'market experts'. This experiment
>goes on at Toronto Stock Exchange for few years. There is
>even a book on this topic, if I recall correctly the
>title is 'Radmon Walk on Wall Street" (can't quite recall the
>author, something like Merkel).

I like this one.  Good one!

But somebody should probably be telling this to all those
prestigious doctors which go to the international meetings on AIDS?

Article attached:  It's a bit outdated - and the author has since
passed away... but I think it's an interesting observation from
someone from the outside looking in... and yet who, at the same
time, was inside looking out?

Newsgroup(s): sci.med.aids
From: Billi Goldberg <bigoldberg at igc.apc.org>
Subject: Article on Berlin
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 93 22:35:51 PDT

The following article was printed in the San Francisco Sentinel on
Wednesday, June 16, 1993.  There are no restrictions on
reproduction of this article according to the author Charles R.
Caulfield and the San Francisco Sentinel.
 ******************************************************************


      Enough is Enough! A Review of the Berlin Proceedings
                    by Charles R.  Caulfield

Once again we have been subjected to the yearly ritual celebrating
the scope and resources of the world's medical-industrial complex.
This year's International Conference on AIDS, held last week in
Berlin, for the ninth year held out the promise of breakthroughs in
the prevention and treatment of AIDS.  As in years past, the
conference ended with researchers and clinicians voicing collective
dismay at their inability to grapple effectively with the pandemic,
dashing hopes and expressing rueful predictions for the future.

The annual ritual, which this year consisted of over 15,000
"experts" descending on an international tourist Mecca, was
comprised largely of physicians and scientific researchers touting
their theories and putative treatments.  In essence, it could be
viewed as 15,000 closed minds, assembled at a cost of literally
scores of millions of dollars - money which might better be spent
on development of treatment strategies and prevention measures that
actually work.  It boggles the mind to consider the astounding cost
of production for such an event, including air and ground
transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, tuition, conference
space, honoraria, etc., etc.  This bacchanal of
self-aggrandizement, not surprisingly, once again ended with a
resounding thud that said, "this disease is more than we can
manage." Is this is a conclusion which required the pomp and
expense characteristic of these international symposia to discern?
Hardly.

Now an honest admission of this frustration and failure by the
mainstream antiviral research establishment, although
disappointing, would be refreshingly honest, and would clear the
ground for the undertaking of a new direction in treatment and
prevention research.  A new paradigm in immunology is emerging,
much to the disdain and resistance of the old regime.

Possibly the only good thing to come out of this year's Conference
is the validation of a line of reasoning which has been pursued by
isolated researchers in immunology science and followed closely in
the Sentinel's HIV News section.  This paper alone, among all the
media outlets in the country, has pursued in great depth an area of
research which may hold out the only possible safe and effective
treatment for this disease, and at a cost which is not likely to
bankrupt the country.  This includes our coverage during the last
twelve months of the role of Cytotoxic T-lymphocytes in disease
progression, the cross-inhibitory roles of the body's cellular and
humoral immune cascades, and the need for a reversal in emphasis
from antiviral strategies toward immune modulation.

I am proud to write for a newspaper which has boldly allowed me to
explore a line of reasoning which has been light years ahead of
anything else to appear in the lay press, creating an immensely
educated readership, the scope of whose understanding now far
exceeds that of many AIDS physicians.  Despite the fact that this
line of thinking has seldom been politically correct, the truth of
it has been borne out by cutting edge science and validated by a
small but critical cohort of researchers at the Berlin Conference.
An imminent shift in the way medicine views the immune system has
been emerging in the medical literature during the last year.  But
is a multi-million dollar international science fair necessary to
elucidate what has been clearly described in scientific
periodicals, such as Immunology Letters and Immunology Today?  Most
certainly not!

One example which clearly illustrates the true lack of progress in
antiviral approaches would actually be funny if it wasn't so eerie
in its implications.  John S.  James, publisher of the ubiquitous
AIDS Treatment News, was quoted by the S.F.  Examiner's Lisa
Krieger, while giving his impressions on protease inhibiting drugs,
He stated, "This drug ought to be tried.  If we had anything that
was any good, it would be one thing.  But we don't--and this may be
better." Now could any statement better characterize the drift and
lack of progress which has been the hallmark of AIDS treatment
research?   This conference appears to have been no more than a
celebration of collective medical egotism, pointing to futility and
death for millions, perhaps ultimately billions of people
worldwide.

Project Inform's Martin Delaney was quoted in the S.F.  Chronicle
as cautioning against what he called "a false sense of
hopelessness." There is, in fact, no falsity to the sense of
hopelessness generated by one more year's dead ended research
initiatives, intractably focused on flawed antiviral approaches
which damn countless people to miserable deaths, while catering to
the investments of shareholders in drug companies' stocks and
options.  The sheer opportunity for pharmaceutical industry
advertisement at these events is pernicious, at best.

The utter glee with which the drug companies finagled themselves
into the position of providing funding for transportation and
lodgings for so-called "treatment activists" groups in order to
offset dissent and protest is just another example of the obscene
low to which these "scientific" symposia have sunk.  What is truly
an awesome phenomenon is the extent to which these drug companies
have gained the acquiescence of those who were originally their
detractors, and now hold them in their breast pockets.  It's
loathsome and sickening.

Numerous physicians left the conference early in disgust,
expressing sentiments of anger that everyone there was touting
their own little bailiwick of "information" and were there simply
to convince other scientists of the virtue of their reasoning -
regardless of whether or not it represented a plausible option for
stopping the spread of or alleviating the suffering caused by this
killer disease.  Physicians and researchers were observed in the
audience during scientific presentations with their cellular
phones, eager to jump on any unanticipated late breaking
developments by calling their stock brokers, cashing in on their
options, selling short and reaping huge profits on any
pharmaceuticals which may have gotten the nod from the collective
research establishment.

Dr.  James Curran, AIDS chief at the federal Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention was reported to view this annual fiasco as,
at best, excessive.  In light of the cost of the Conference and the
dearth of beneficial outcome, he recommended that the international
conferences be reduced in frequency to once every two years, with
national conferences of AIDS agencies to be held in the U.S.  on
alternating years.

I say let's carry this a step further.  Let's eliminate this
pretense which is nothing more than a glory grabbing opportunity to
allow scientists and doctors to "hobnob with their fellow wizards",
hoping that some little dog doesn't pull aside the curtain which
conceals the status of their lack of progress.

As the epidemic insidiously spreads, it adds more and more deaths
to the toll of over 180,000 Americans, and countless others from
other geographic regions whom this disease has felled.  It is
becoming more and more evident that medical healing science is
being superseded by political science and the science of economics.
How many more must be doomed due to the prurient interests of
capitalistic ventures which make a literal "killing" from this
disease.  How many people have gotten rich on the prospect of the
deaths of PWAs?  How many more will capitalize on the criminal
neglect and suppression of information vital to any meaningful
treatment strategies?  A Los Angeles oncologist/hematologist
seemingly hit the nail right on the head when he stated recently,
"In all my reading and study it seems to me that "official" medical
"science" is filled with a substance that contaminates everything
connected with AIDS research: the substance is bullshit."

What is needed is a fundamental change of attitude on the part of
scientists in general, and physicians in particular, in order for
this disease to be contained and controlled.  No evidence of such
a change was apparent in Berlin.  It, in fact, made last year's
abysmal conference in Amsterdam seem exciting by contrast.  Despite
failure after failure, the attempt to find the right combination of
anti-retroviral drugs dominates the treatment research landscape.
As one researcher aptly asked recently, "why are holistic and
alternative healing methods suppressed in favor of fatally flawed
research into a magic pill or vaccine against AIDS?" The answer to
that query requires no more than a one word answer - "money."

It's time to eliminate the International Conference on AIDS as a
regularly scheduled event.  If scientists cannot cooperate and
collaborate across institutional lines in their own countries, why
should we assume that they will do so in the worldwide arena.  The
very territoriality which characterizes the scientific community
must be eliminated in our own back yard before we can expect any
global response to this disease.  If a radical change in thinking
does not occur, it is becoming self-evident, though few dare to
publicly admit it, that AIDS will inevitably result in the
elimination of black Africa, black America, much of Asia, and over
50% of the gay men living in the U.S.  Please pass the caviar, and
call my broker.  Let's have a conference to celebrate the new grist
for the AIDS money mill!

If and when significant breakthroughs do occur, ad hoc symposia can
be called to allow review and discussion by the global scientific
community.  Until then, this yearly raising and then dashing of
hopes becomes more and more tiresome.  Let's let the Ninth
International Conference on AIDS be the last.  It's been hopelessly
reduced to a monument to human greed and closed-minds.  The money
could be better used elsewhere.
* * * End of File * * *

-Kathy



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