* Unanswered questions: Response *

Margaret Fowler 101722.35 at CompuServe.COM
Wed Jun 26 14:16:24 EST 1996


General Response to Comments of Drs R Azpiroz, P S Brookes, Greg Fraley,
C Krasel, P French, A Pelletier, and others on 'Unanswered Questions in
Biology', posted by H Hillman.

[1] There have been extraordinarily few responses to the 47 questions
which I have posed.

[2] Instead of answering the questions, most respondents have accused me
of ignorance, not knowing the literature, not being critical of my own
views, etc.; none have indicated that they have read any of my publications.
I would like to make it abundantly clear that in my books and papers I
have answered at length all the points at issue. I hope they do not teach
their students the unacceptable practice of indulging in polemics, when
one has not read the evidence of those with whom one disagrees. So far,
no one has asked me for any publications.

[3] Even if all my assertions and conclusions are wrong, cytologists
should address the 47 questions, because they are central to their beliefs
in cell structure. These questions may be included in examinations, and I
would suggest that both undergraduate and postgraduate students should
press their teachers and supervisors to answer them. Intellectual
dishonesty, casuistry or avoidance of awkward questions will not
advance science.

[4] I have never denied the view that tissues consist of cells, which
have membranes around them. However, it has not been realised that a
line is a geometrical abstraction with position but no thickness. Any
real membrane has two sides, and any metal deposit must appear as *two*
lines for every real membrane, if it is magnified enough. This applies
to cell, nuclear and mitochondrial membranes, and cristae.

[5] I have made VHS tapes in PAL format of my views on the structure of
the cells, and the cellular anatomy of the mammalian nervous system,
which I am prepared to lend to anyone who will pay the postage and
return them. I have lectured on these questions at over 120 institutions
and universities in Britain, continental Europe, United States,
Australia and Canada, and have answered in detail and in publication
every objection I have heard to my views.

[6] Everywhere I have lectured, cytologists have alleged that they have
electron micrographs of 'unit' membranes, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi
bodies, nuclear pores, microtubules, cristae of mitochondria, myelin
lamellae and thylakoid membranes in a random selection of orientations
in a single cell.
    (One could not select a cell in which a section went normally
thorough the membranes around the cell, nucleus, mitochondria, and
endoplasmic reticulum, because the section does not know from which
direction a microtome knife will come.)
    In 24 years, no one has sent me a micrograph or any reference to
any micrograph in the literature, showing any of the structures in a
random series of orientations. Oblique views should be more frequent
than transverse sections. Occasionally, people have drawn my attention
to a minute piece of membrane *not* apparently cut in transverse
section, but that is not good enough. I did not invent the laws of
solid geometry or thermodynamics, and I do not believe that one can
defy them without risk.

[7] Colleagues and students, I earnestly request you to address these
proper questions. Their importance is quite independent of your views
of me or my work. However, I stress that I have published full and
critical answers to all the questions.
    I will be pleased to send reprints to interested parties, who are
prepared to enter into dialogue.

Harold Hillman
Unity Laboratory of Applied Neurobiology
76 Epsom Road
Guildford
Surrey
GU1 2BX
U.K.

Tel: (441) 483 568332
Fax: (441) 483 31110
Email 101722.35 at compuserve.com
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