Debunking Denialism

Defending science against the forces of irrationality.

Monthly Archives: March 2012

HIV/AIDS Denialist Marco Ruggiero under Investigation

In a previous entry about Ruggiero called takes on Italian HIV/AIDS denialist Marco Ruggiero, I explained how an Internet forum populated by HIV+ Italians and other individuals alerted me to the fact that Ruggiero, a professor at the University of Florence, not only where propagating an alternative medicine treatment for HIV/AIDS in the form a yogurt, but was also teaching elective courses containing parts that explicitly tried to teach that HIV was not the cause of AIDS.

Now, according to a Nature News article by Zoë Corbyn called Inquiry launched over AIDS contrarian’s teaching the University of Florence has launched an investigation into “the teaching activities of an academic who assisted on a course that denies the causal link between HIV and AIDS, and supervised students with dissertations on the same topic”.

I first found out about the dissertations by the students from reading the Reckless Endangerment blog written by Snout. I particularly found two articles, HIV/AIDS denialism at the University of Florence and More pseudoscholarship from the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology especially helpful and informative.

The Nature News article continues:

The Italian university’s internal ‘special commission’ will examine the “teaching behaviour and responsibility” of molecular biologist Marco Ruggiero, a university spokesman told Nature.

The move follows a letter to the institution’s rector, Alberto Tesi, by an Italian campaign group called the HIV Forum, which represents people infected with HIV and others concerned about the disease. It calls on him to disassociate the university from the “science and activities” of Ruggiero, who, the group says, is “internationally known” for denying the widely accepted link between HIV and AIDS, and promotes a potential cure for HIV involving an enriched probiotic yoghurt for which there is no proven evidence.

Tesi replied on 29 February to announce the special commission. This “will examine whether professor Ruggiero’s conduct complies with the institutional guidelines on teaching contents and adherence to the objectives of the official curriculum of biological sciences”, says university spokesman Duccio Di Bari, who adds that any misconduct would be dealt with internally.

This is also a great example of what Internet activism potentially can result in. Besides supervising dissertations promoting HIV/AIDS denialism and promoting a treatment lacking scientific evidence, the inquiry will focus on the elective courses he handled: Read more of this post

Rejecting the Holocaust Deniers’ Quote Mine of Historian Raul Hilberg

Like creationists, Holocaust deniers love to take the word of historians out of context in their feeble attempts to demonstrate their position. I dissected one such example in my article about a quote from functionalist historian Arno Mayer, but there are apparently many more such quotations out of context.

Raul Hilberg was considered the most respected Holocaust historian ever lived, especially since he wrote a huge book on the subject called The Destruction of the European Jews back in the early 60s.

Here is the butchered quote that is often presented:

There was a Holocaust, which is, by the way, more easily said than demonstrated.

Holocaust deniers like to use this quote in an effort to show how leading Holocaust historians believe that the Holocaust is an historical reality based on nothing but faith, since they cannot demonstrate it. The quote is from an interview called Is There a New Anti-Semitism? A Conversation with Raul Hilberg in the Logos journal. Now, lets read the context of the quote, which shows something quite different: Read more of this post

Mailbag: The Absurdity of Race Realism

I am always happy to answer reader emails set to me via the contact form at the About page of this blog. This email comes from “Nigel”. Nigel writes that:

Speaking about denialism, what about politically correct race-deniers? These people are so wrapped up on some ideology of Boasian Cultural Marxism that they regularly try to subvert the truth.

In just this short message, consisting of nothing more than two sentences, Nigel has managed to set off my baloney detector several times. This is because phrases such as “politically correct” and “cultural Marxism” are buzzwords frequently used by extremist right-wing…thinkers, who are often anti-immigration. “Politically correct” designates their belief that they are being suppressed by the establishment and “cultural Marxism” signifies the related idea that the establishment was been taken over by leftists who ignore the truth that race realists think is plain as day. Thus, Nigel has carried out two very common denialist tactics that I described in the article Common Denialist Tactics Defined and Destroyed, namely playing the martyr card and conspiratorial thinking: Read more of this post


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