Debunking Denialism

Defending science against the forces of irrationality.

No Sanctions for HIV/AIDS Denialist Marco Ruggiero

Previously, I have written about how the University of Florence has launched an inquiry into the activities of HIV/AIDS denialist Marco Ruggiero, a professor who held courses actively promoting that HIV is not the cause of AIDS at the university. He also promotes a pseudoscientific yogurt treatment of HIV/AIDS and supervised degree projects by students that also denied the link between HIV and AIDS that were clearly plagiarized.

ruggiero

Yesterday, an article about the decision written by science journalist Zoë Corbyn was posted on the Nature News Blog entitled “Greater oversight but no sanctions for Italian AIDS contrarian“. The general gist of the story is that no sanctions will be leveled at Ruggiero, that his future teachings will be supervised more strongly, that his clinical experiments with the yogurt treatment has been reported to the Italian medical board.

Ruggiero sees it as a victory for his position when he claims that “The University of [Florence] has demonstrated it is an institution where the freedom of research and teaching is guaranteed”. This is of course nonsense as university teachings in science should be based on evidence.

The HIV Forum, who notified the university about Ruggiero, also claims a modest victory because “Our target was not the career of someone, but the consistency of what is taught at the University of Florence with what thirty years of scientific research tells us about HIV,” and “[The result confirms] freedom of research and teaching must ‘move with the scientific method’.”

I think the special commission had a tight rope to talk on. Clearly, the university cannot go around teaching that HIV does not cause AIDS, but sanctions on Ruggiero could create another martyr and strengthen conspiracy theories. I will try to keep myself updated on the decision by the Italian medical board.

4 responses to “No Sanctions for HIV/AIDS Denialist Marco Ruggiero

  1. G.M. August 1, 2012 at 07:37

    Ruggiero’s claim seems blatantly delusional. The university put a short leash around his neck and he’ll be closed watched internally.
    Waiting for the decision of the medical board…

  2. Snout August 18, 2012 at 06:37

    I’ve posted the University’s press release at the end of the Snoutworld article “AIDS Denialism at the University of Florence”, together with an English translation:

    http://snoutworld.blogspot.com/2011/02/hivaids-denialism-at-university-of.html

    It’s clear they are embarrassed by the whole business. They say, in part:

    “…Professor Tesi has asked that the arguments of the degree theses assigned by Ruggiero related to aspects of clinical interest are subjected to more stringent verification procedures to ensure their compatibility with the particular basic themes of the Bachelor in Biological Sciences course. Furthermore, the professor was also admonished for publishing or causing to be published incorrect online news implicating the University and adversely affecting its image, as was done in the past.”

    I’ll leave it to readers to decide whether this is an adequate response by the institution, but as you say, they have to balance up any actions with the risks of drawing further attention to the guy.

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