|Subject: Science for the People list|
|From: George Salzman
|Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 15:53:08 -0500|
|To: Tadit Anderson
Thank you very much for your response. I ought to have included you among the recipients. You were central to the discussion. But I just went down the list of those who had posted to the string, and didn't check to see if you were one of the posters. After thinking about it some more, I'm not really ready to accept Balter's behavior, even once. If he has been comparably personally attacked (I haven't tried to make a search) then the same standard ought to be applied to his attacker(s). I'll wait until he cites a posting that attacks him personally. This entire stupid business is so juvenile. And I've spent so much time on it. Far too much.
It seems to come down to standards. Frankly, I consistently delete every post from Balter on sight, without even beginning to read them. My own preference would be that those that are attracted to personal denigration as a legitimate tactic in discussion be taken off list. Chuck Munson is also right that this sort of thing is relatively common on open lists. One that I managed/owned descended completely into a bullying free for all, I walked away from it for about a year in case somehow I was the source of such unremitting and pointless contention. When I returned on a lurking basis, the majority was still at it full throttle. The folk wisdom of refusing to engage pigs at their level will really only make them happy and you'll get muddy as well, seems to apply. I dissolved the list and several were angry enough to attack personally. I didn't respond and they they went ahead started their own list.
In the case of the SftP list there seems to be a potential for a greater loss given the greater number of people involved, and the uniqueness of the thematic domain of this list. I would suggest that the owners of list determine the standards they want to be followed, and then periodically post those rules of engagement and discourse. It is not a majoritarian democracy, it has a task to accomplish.
This is my response to George's post:
1. It is hypocritical of him to single me out on the score of personal attacks as he has made many recent ones on me, including in this post denigrating my journalism and my scientific knowledge. His statement is also partly inaccurate: Although I do not work as a scientist today, I did so as a graduate student for 3 years at UCLA, doing research and teaching and leaving just shy of my PhD with an MA after three years in the lab for personal reasons. Thus I have significant scientific training and continue to follow the scientific literature actively.
2. It is my opinion that AIDS denialism is based on a tissue of lies and that the most vocal advocates of this position can easily be shown to pursue dishonest and evasive arguments in favor of their positions. This is my political and scientific opinion and I am entitled to it.
3. It is my personal opinion that anyone who ACTIVELY encourages HIV positive patients to abandon their meds should be charged with attempted murder. Should that person be convicted of that or a lesser charge, the judge would presumably take their motivations into account during sentencing. If the defendant is profiting personally from this activitiy, as Jonathan Campbell does as evidenced by his own Web site, the sentence would likely be greater. That is my political and moral opinion and I am entitled to it, and it applies not only to Campbell but to his guru Matthias Rath, to Gary Null, et al.
I retract nothing and apologize for nothing as these are my opinions based on my politics and my principles. Whether they should lead to my banning or suspension from this list I will leave to others to debate.
best wishes, Michael Balter
Thanks very much for writing your own experiences and thoughts. As you probably already know, Balter posted my e-mail to the 11 people to the SftP list. I had in fact thought of doing it (why not solicit wider advice?) but gave myself overnight to think about putting yet another post on conflict on the overburdened list. In any event, the point of this note is to ask whether it would be OK to make your comments public . . .
As you can see [from my note [of 25 June afternoon] to Alex, which I included for Tadit’s info], I anticipated possibly removing others besides Balter. He of course doesn't know that and has called me (potentially) a hypocrite for focussing on him . . .
Would it be OK to make your response to me public? You wrote, . . .
So far the only other direct response I've received is from Tadit Anderson. I wrote him, . . .
You have my permission. One of my side points is that such permission should not be required as validation. Consensus building is generally good thing, except when consensus is made impossible deliberately. The question should arise whether all nominal participants are invested in compatible values. Besides for all we know Balter could be a mole whose intent is to disrupt. I know that such people are out there if only by what I have come upon relative to DU [depleted uranium —G.S.] education. A kindred issue comes up during union organizing, and there have to be ways of controlling the process from disruption by provocateurs. It is also a fact that there are personalities who get behind a keyboard and thereby lose all sense of civility. At the minimum, the process needs to move forward.
I have to say that I have little doubt that HIV
causes AIDS. In fact I doubt it as little as I doubt the general
validity of Newton’s laws. I have some special knowledge in these
matters, having studied under Bill Narayan who is a leading
lentivirologist, and having taught medical students microbiology and
immunology. I got out of the field for many reasons, and started
focusing on other research questions. I know that many well intentioned
people had/have doubts about HIV–AIDS. Our friend James was one of
them. These are usually radicals without scientific training whose
first reflex is to question things. They come across some
scientific-sounding accounts that question HIV–AIDS and latch onto them
because they are contrary to the “mainstream.” On the list I have tried
to be friendly to people like this, to try to point out some very basic
mistakes that they are making in as gentle a way as I can. This is
mainly to help neutralize others whose style is too combative for my
taste, especially with people who should be their comrades.