And going to the university and the University of Florence in particular, it came out that Professor Ruggiero – that’s myself – was in absolute terms the Best Professor in the Entire University... and not only in biology and medicine but overall, concerning all the professors of the entire university" - Dr Marco Ruggiero, Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Florence.

"Derrida's method consisted in demonstrating the forms and varieties of this originary complexity, and their multiple consequences in many fields. He achieved this by conducting thorough, careful, sensitive, and yet transformational readings of philosophical and literary texts, to determine what aspects of those texts run counter to their apparent systematicity (structural unity) or intended sense (authorial genesis)."
- Wikipedia: Jaques Derrida (and also copy-pasted to 2,520 other websites)

"I have long ago given up looking at anything from Snout... He has no credentials at all to discuss the things he talks about, yet feels free to denigrate a long-established, peer-reviewed Italian journal, and highly competent, even distinguished scientists and scholars. If anyone prefers to take his opinion rather than mine, I think that shows rather poor judgement in view of the curriculum vitae posted on my website and the anonymity and missing C.V. of Snout…"

- Henry H. Bauer. Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Science Studies and Dean Emeritus of Arts and Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Friday, March 30, 2012

More pseudoscholarship from the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology

(originally published 8th January 2012, now updated)

HIGHLY COMPETENT, Even Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Marco Ruggiero of the University of Florence has scored another coup... in his ongoing campaign to embarrass his university and draw the disgust of the few people who can be bothered watching his self-promoting antics and those of his fellow clowns from Rethinking AIDS.

(Marco's teaching achievements are celebrated here.)

Apparently his and coauthor Henry Bauer's brilliant scheme to secure fame and fortune through promoting  Mad Marco's Magic Yoghurt Cure For AIDS over the internet has fallen through, despite the free advertising to the target demographic provided by Leading Scientific Discussion Forum Questioning AIDS. So Marco and Henry have gone back to writing inept epidemiology papers with their friends Peter Duesberg, David Rasnick, Christian Fiala and the other AIDS denialists, and trying to get them published.

To get it into print Ruggiero has had to call in yet another favor from his dear and close friend Paolo Romagnoli, editor of the prestigious Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology - lauded by Nature news editor Brian Owens on Twitter as "a journal you've never heard of".

Romagnoli has also put his hand up to confess that he was one of the two "peer reviewers" who okayed this drivel for publication. The other wisely remains anonymous.

This is now the third AIDS denialist pseudo-epidemiology paper published by Romagnoli's IJAE in the past couple of years, or fourth if you include a recently published conference abstract by Ruggiero et al that probably could be classified as "denialist" if it were remotely intelligible. The other two papers are discussed here.

As more than one commentator has observed, Romagnoli seems to be trying to convert his journal from a respectable but somewhat obscure anatomy and embryology publication into the Italian Journal of Amateur Epidemiology - a vanity journal for his personal friends in the AIDS denialist movement to gain access to coveted NIH library listing despite the fact that they are - well there's no kind way of saying this - completely nuts.

That seems to be Henry Bauer's idea, anyway:

THE SIX SENIOR AUTHORS OF THE PAPER - Duesberg, Rasnick, Bauer, Koehnlein, Fiala and Ruggiero - comprise about half the board members of Rethinking AIDS. The other three are recent graduates who have worked under Duesberg and Ruggiero. Of the six, Ruggiero was appointed to the board in 2010, according to a press release put out by the organisation:
"In a recent talk at an Italian conference, Dr. Ruggiero speaks of present day AIDS as a scandal and a hoax, a creature of the pharmaceutical-medical complex. He stated that the drugs that are used to treat AIDS cause cancer. He claimed billions are uselessly spent in search of a vaccine for AIDS.

"Dr. Ruggiero stated that in the past three years definitive evidence has accumulated demonstrating that HIV cannot be considered the sole cause of AIDS. For example, a ten year meta-analysis of anti-retroviral therapy published in the Lancet showed that, although the medicines decreased HIV levels, they did not decrease the rates of AIDS or death. Ruggiero concludes that the virus does not cause AIDS, but instead arises as a result of a lowered immune system, thus reversing the cause-effect relationship between HIV and AIDS.

"Dr. Ruggiero referred to Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier who stated that someone with a healthy immune system can be exposed to HIV many times without being chronically infected. It is possible for someone infected with HIV to get rid of the infection by naturally building up their immune system, without the use of anti-viral medicines."

Now, to get an idea of just how seriously deranged the "Board of Rethinking AIDS" really is as a group, have a look at the homicidally negligent Patient Information Leaflet they publish and distribute to people with HIV/AIDS, or who are at risk:

"AIDS doctors accidentally killed an estimated 300,000 people during the AIDS hysteria years of 1987-1997 (by prescribing heavy doses of AZT or similar drugs). It was a mass iatrogenic (doctor caused) massacre, claiming the lives of Arthur Ashe, Rudolf Nureyev, Keith Haring, Kimberley Bergalis, Freddie Mercury and many others.

“They were healthy until convinced to take the medicines. This danger is still with us. Modern AIDS drugs are less toxic, but still life threatening, just not as quickly. Today, 2009, those taking the modern-day ARV therapy are dying at an average age of 45.”


See also the Press Release these geniuses put out to promote this piece of garbage, which RA president David Crowe described as targeted at "people with limited language skills":

Or check out coauthor Dr David Rasnick's medical "advice" about HIV testing, originally posted on the Rethinking AIDS channel on Youtube:

"People ask me all the time. I don't volunteer - I only answer if they ask. I say: Don't take the test. If unfortunately you take the test don't find out what the result is. If you come back positive I say forget it. If you can't forget it, the test is so unstable keep taking it until you get a negative one and then stop."
Or floridly loopy Rethinking AIDS President Emeritus Roberto Giraldo explaining to the youtube audience that George W. Bush admits that the US government knows HIV does not exist, only they can't say so publicly:
‘In year 2000, when George Bush was candidate to be President of the United States, [then South African president] Mbeki came to the United States to try to do some business. And George Bush told him that they knew, that the government knew, that HIV was not the cause of AIDS, that they knew that HIV didn’t even exist, but that the problem was that they couldn’t say that to the public because the public was going to get crazy. Or that the countries of the world were going to [get] united against those lies that were spread by the government of the United States.’
Or Marco Ruggiero explaining in the AIDS denialist youtube "documentary" The Science of Panic that "the origin of AIDS is chemical in Europe and the Western world, and lack of potable water and malnutrition in Africa and in developing countries". Earlier in the film he tells us that the antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS don't improve survival with the disease, and are themselves "the cause of AIDS, or at least some types of AIDS". Unfortunately, Ruggiero's medical advice didn't help the film's director Isabel Otaduy Sömme. She died with HIV/AIDS in 2009, before her propaganda project was completed. She was 44 years old... Or have a look at the Rethinking AIDS facebook page, where Rethinking AIDS board members do much of their internet "outreach" to people with HIV/AIDS all over the world. For example, here is the advice given by current RA president David Crowe to a South African lady with AIDS whose last T cell count was 107:
In reality, Duesenggiero's IJAE paper is just a rehash of the woeful Out of Touch With South African AIDS fiasco, a work so negligently inept that even the publishers of Medical Hypotheses rejected it. And your paper has to be pretty bad if even Med Hype refuses to accept your payment to print it.
Yep, it's a stinker.
No serious epidemiologist or HIV/AIDS scientist or clinician would consider either the original paper or its latest incarnation even remotely credible, but that's not the point of it. The paper wasn't written and published for a scientific readership: rather the idea is to provide a veneer of credibility for the benefit of their unsophisticated target audience on youtube, facebook and elsewhere on the net - to be able to say "Look! There really is a genuine scientific controversy here about whether HIV causes AIDS!" And when people with HIV/AIDS get sucked into the Rethinking AIDS propaganda, the consequences are often devastating. See also here, here, here and here. And here.
While Romagnoli and his University of Florence might like to pretend to themselves that they are simply providing a platform for genuine and sincere scientific debate about an unresolved issue, in reality they are merely supporting a cynical propaganda campaign targeted at those people who are least able to critically examine the claims of the AIDS denialists, and who can be most harmed by their misinformation. Henry Bauer makes the strategy of Rethinking AIDS perfectly clear:
"At any rate, AIDStruthers [ie the scientific mainstream] are not the audience to be courted. Their arguments must be countered with answers directed to the media and the general public in terms that are understandable by and clearly convincing for unengaged observers. That means the points cannot be too technical."
And when generally credible scientific media outlets like Nature News and Comment provide publicity - even negative publicity - they are playing into the Rethinking AIDS strategy, which is to try to convince their target audience that there is a legitimate scientific controversy going on.  Especially when they trumpet a headline like "Paper refuting HIV–AIDS link secures publication: Work by infamous AIDS contrarian passes peer review" without making any attempt to explain the background to the paper's publication. (A day or two later someone at Nature changed "refuting" to "denying", but this makes little difference).
Because as former "public relations chairperson" of Rethinking AIDS Elizabeth Ely gloats on RA's facebook page:
SNOUT WON'T BORE HIS READERS with a blow by blow dissection thorough, careful, sensitive, and yet transformational reading of the whole paper, but here's a small sample of the Burning Stupid that Romagnoli thought worth publishing. As Actual Epidemiologist Max Essex remarked, when faced with bilge like this "it's hard to respond in an intelligent way". Coauthor on the paper Christian Fiala, of course, excitedly interprets this as meaning "there is no argument against what we have presented", and in a way that's true - after all as Thomas Jefferson once said,"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions."
Fiala, of course, is the guy who gained recent notoriety for announcing on the right-wing fundamentalist christian website WingNut Daily that he not only denies that HIV causes AIDS but also that HPV causes cervical cancer.  So anyway, the paper begins with the proposition that:
"The germ theory of disease predicts that a new (relative to a population) pathogenic virus or microbe causes an exponentially spreading epidemic of new microbe-specific illnesses and deaths within weeks to months of the arrival of the new pathogen (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010)." [italics added]
The online encyclopaedia entry they cite says nothing of the kind, because Duesenggiero's statement is made-up nonsense. But no matter, they use this "citation" to conclude that that the AIDS epidemic cannot have been caused by a virus, because:
"A new viral epidemic would have risen and declined exponentially within weeks or months after its discovery in 1984." [italics added]
Pardon? Next the authors express surprise that "the WHO/UNAIDS does not list any numbers on 'Reported HIV cases' and 'Reported AIDS cases'" in South Africa, and just in case you don't believe them, they include an image of the blank data boxes.
Golly gee. Could that have anything to do with the fact that neither HIV infection nor AIDS are notifiable conditions in that country?
Then we come to the main thrust of Duesenggiero's argument: that because the estimated populations of various African countries have continued to increase during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there can't possibly have been significant HIV/AIDS mortality.
That's essentially it.
No, really. It's that dumb.
These amateur epidemiologists have apparently never considered the impact of high birth rates, migrations, and other factors on total population estimates. Nathan Geffen points out the obvious:
"The annual number of births in South Africa over the last two decades has been between 1 and 1.2 million. By the best estimate the number of deaths rose between 1997 and 2006 from about 400,000 to about 650,000 annually. This rise in deaths, as I explain below is entirely consistent with our large HIV epidemic, but it is still far below the number of births: hence South Africa's population has risen."
For example, our geniuses state:
Unexpectedly we found that the population of South Africa had increased by 3 million from 2000 to 2005, based on concordant statistics from South Africa and the US Census Bureau.
Duesenggiero et al appear to be unaware that the Statistics South Africa and US Census Bureau population figures they are citing are not head counts, but estimates that explicitly modelled the impact of HIV/AIDS on mortality.
Then they tell us that:
In all countries where testing was introduced the prevalence of HIV-antibodies was soon found to be steady as it would be expected if HIV were a long-established endemic retrovirus (Duesberg, 1996; Duesberg, 1992; Duesberg et al., 2003).
This is an unbelievably ignorant claim. It is so wrong you can only wonder what morons provided the three references used to support it. And - you guessed it - Duesberg mines this stupid factoid out of his own fundament on all three occasions, despite the authors contradicting themselves only a couple of paragraphs earlier when they inform us that in South Africa:
anti-HIV antibodies were first detected in 0.7% of the population. This percentage then increased gradually (not exponentially!) over about 10 years until 2000 when it levelled off between 25 and 30%.
Hmm. Let me see. A forty-fold rise in seroprevalence in a demographic between 1990 and 2005 is what Duesenggiero mean by steady? Furthermore, they also appear not to have noticed that the figures they are citing were not for the South African population as a whole, but rather were annual surveys of antenatal clinic attendees. In 2005, for example, the whole population (over 2 years old) prevalence was estimated at 10.8%, not 30.2%
Then the authors wheel out the Bedrock Factoid of Denialist Pseudo-epidemiology, namely:
In the US, for example, 1 million have been HIV-antibody-positive since 1985 (Curran et al., 1985; Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 1986; Duesberg et al., 2003; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007, 2008).
This is nonsense that has been refuted over and over again - for example see here - and yet they bring out their favorite poor dead horse for yet another flogging. Aside from the fact that they are seriously misrepresenting Curran et al's 1985 estimate (which was based on taking the 10,000 notified AIDS cases to 1985 and guessing what percentage of the total HIV positive population they represent) it is disingenuous if not outright dishonest to suggest that the CDC estimates a steady 1 million prevalence. The CDC's US HIV prevalence and incidence estimates over the course of the epidemic to 2006 are shown here:
And so on. You get the idea - the paper is unutterable crap, even if you disregard the nauseous arrogance of the authors sitting on their fat arses in Berkeley or Firenze or Blacksburg Virginia and telling African communities that have buried far too many of their young adults that - hey! never mind, these deaths never really happened... ... Have some of our yummy yoghurt!
Yet another FAIL for the University of Florence. Please report to the Unsatisfactory Academic Progress Committee.
 Further Reading:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------   UPDATE (1st February 2012): Looks like there's TROUBLE AT' MILL with the editorial board of the Italian Journal of Amateur Epidemiology.  Editor-in-chief Paolo Romagnoli tells us that the peer reviewers for Duesenggiero's silly essay "were chosen on the basis of 'scientific competence' and 'impartiality of judgement'". Given that he himself was one of the two "reviewers" he chose, it's nice to know he has such a high opinion of himself. Unfortunately, it seems, not all the members of his editorial board share this view.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- UPDATE (30th March 2012)
Yet another example of the misrepresentations of Duesberg, Ruggiero and their coauthors in their recent IJAE paper. In the Acknowledgements section of the paper they state:
We are grateful to Colonel Frank Anders, Lieutenant Colonel Clinton Murray and Major Jason Okulicz for encouragement, critical comments and for preliminary results on “HIV-Elite Controllers” (HIV-positives) from the US Military.
This seems to be news to Lt. Col. Murray and Maj. Okulicz.
Jason Okulicz, you might recall, was the lead author of a study that Henry Bauer misrepresented in his previous IJAE offering, to support his stupid claim that half of US HIV positives are elite controllers. Apparently Henry has trouble telling the difference between 0.55% and 50%.
Okulicz and Murray, it seems, are Not Pleased.
Prof. Paolo Romagnoli,
We were recently acknowledged in a manuscript written by Peter H Duesberg et al. titled AIDS Since 1984: No Evidence for a New, Viral Epidemic - not Even in Africa. We would like to indicate that we were never asked to participate in the development of this manuscript including providing encouragement or critical comments. In addition, we do not concur with the findings of the manuscript. Finally, the opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Department of the Army, Department of the Air Force, Department of Defense or the US government.
Clint K. Murray, MD Jason F. Okulicz, MD Infectious Disease Service Brooke Army Medical Center Fort Sam Houston, TX USA 78234 [bold added]

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Crackpot Vs Crackpot

ONE OF THE FEW PLEASURES of watching the AIDS denialist conspiracy movement in action is seeing the different factions slugging it out with their equally stupid but mutually contradictory claims.

Best known, of course, is the dispute between the Perth Group (and their supporters) who claim that HIV does not exist has not been proven to exist, and Peter Duesberg's supporters who are unable to deny the existence of HIV, but claim that it's a "harmless passenger virus" and that the real cause of progressive depletion of CD4+ cell mediated immune function in AIDS is illicit drug use.

Or AZT if you have never taken illicit drugs.

Or malnutrition if neither of the above apply.

Or something-or-other that's non-infectious in factor VIII if you are a well-nourished haemophiliac who's never taken AZT.

Or their latest "theory" - AIDS is just a manifestation of  a mysterious condition called Gay Bowel Syndrome . This designation apparently applies to people with HIV/AIDS who (a) happen to be gay and (b) have a bowel.

But for sheer wackiness it's hard to go past the third main school of thought within the denialist/conspiracist movement - the AIDS is a bioweapon developed by the US government theory, propounded all over some of the more weirdass corners of the internet (eg youtube).

Now, from a military standpoint, a bioweapon that takes a median of ten years or so to cause serious illness in adults seems to Snout to have rather limited usefulness in a conflict situation. This is especially so given that HIV is only transmissible in a limited range of... well... fairly specific ways. Presumably the intention was to deploy it on the battlefield in conjunction with the infamous Gay Bomb, by which "enemies would left helpless by mass gay orgies, as soldiers were irresistibly attracted to one another."

In reality, the story behind the AIDS is a bioweapon developed by the US government theory is almost as strange as the theory itself. It has its origins in the murky depths of 1980s-era cold war disinformation campaigns, in which both the US and Soviet bloc tried to outdo each other spreading rumors in each other's spheres of influence hoping to destabilise popular support for the respective enemy governments. The AIDS-bioweapon theory was a well-documented initiative of the Soviet KGB and the East German Stasi, and was eventually so successful that it has managed to outlast the communist eastern bloc itself by a couple of decades.

Foremost among its promoters in the US have been the deliciously crazy Lenny Horowitz, and the now-deceased lawyer Boyd Graves, who died of AIDS in 2009.

But here's the best bit: Horowitz not only accuses Robert Gallo of engineering this Crime Against Humanity (Gallo is of course the AntiChrist Incarnate for all denialist whackjobs), but he also points the finger at Peter Duesberg. As his INDICTMENT OF SPECIAL VIRUS CANCER PROGRAM VIROLOGIST DR PETER DUESBERG attests:
"I, Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz, respecting and representing thousands of scientists and physicians worldwide whose voices have been neglected and silenced; as a Diplomat for the World Organization for Natural Medicine; as a representative of God, Knighted emissary for the Sovereign Orthodox Order of Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem, and as a Levitical priest in the bloodlines of Moses and YaHShuaH, the Messiah, I hereby INDICT YOU, Dr. Peter Duesberg, FOR THE DEATHS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WORLDWIDE, THROUGH YOUR ROLES IN THE CREATION OF AIDS AS WELL AS THE DISINFORMATION THAT SUSTAINS THIS AND RELATED MEDICAL GENOCIDES."    [shouting in original]
Now Duesberg is of course a famous belligerent loon in his own right. So it's only with the slightest touch of schadenfreude that Snout records that Duesberg has managed to attract a belligerently loony parasite of his very own. Or as Irish essayist and poet Jonathan Swift noted in 1733:

"So, naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum."

Friday, February 11, 2011

HIV/AIDS denialism at the University of Florence

AN OPEN LETTER TO PROFESSOR ALBERTO TESI, Provost of the University of Florence in Italy:

Prof. Alberto Tesi
Magnifico Rettore
Università degli Studi di Firenze
Piazza S. Marco, 4
50121 – FIRENZE

Dear Professor Tesi,

I am writing to express my deepest admiration for your University’s courageous stance in defending the academic endeavors and teaching standards of your Highly Competent, Even Distinguished Scientists and Scholars, Prof. Marco Ruggiero and Prof. Stefania Pacini, as reported recently by the award-winning American medical science journalist and humanitarian, Celia Farber.

It is especially gratifying to note that thanks to their efforts and those of their friends in the international AIDS denialist community, the traditional and culturally vital Art of Plagiarism is being so vigorously promoted, endorsed and it seems actively taught at your University, and also that this is apparently - according Ms Farber's report  - with institutional support and approval.

For far too long the time honored discipline of copy-pasting the work of others and passing it off as ones own has been discouraged, frowned upon and indeed cruelly persecuted within so-called academic circles. And while the Internet was initially a boon to practitioners of Plagiarism worldwide, with the recent development of anti-plagiarism software there have been concerns raised that it could soon become a dying Art in the schools, colleges and universities where it has previously flourished.

It is therefore a pleasure to read on the Internet the published tesi di laurea (graduation theses) on AIDS denialist theory from two of your students - mentored by the Highly Competent, Even Distinguished Scientists and Scholars Professor Ruggiero and Professor Pacini, along with Dr Vincenzo Crupi of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and Dr Henry H. Bauer, Professor Emeritus at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA.

These scientific papers have been made available and indeed have been extensively promoted for several months now on the World Wide Web as shining examples of the excellent student work at your University, including on Professor Ruggiero’s personal website and also on the websites of his numerous friends in the AIDS denialist community.

See for example the entries for 7/13/2010 and 10/21/2010 on the website of Highly Competent, Even Distinguished Scientist and Scholar David Crowe, President of the international scientific think-tank Rethinking AIDS (of which Professor Ruggiero has recently been honored by his election to the  board).
"July 13th – New insights into the role of HIV in the aetiology and pathogenesis of AIDS
University of Florence: [Presented July 14, 2010 at the University of Florence for a thesis defence] “In the first part of this thesis I analyze current hypotheses on AIDS aetiology and pathogenesis using the deconstructive analytical approach proposed by Jacques Derrida, i.e. I conducted thorough, careful, sensitive, and yet transformational readings of scientific texts on HIV and AIDS, to determine what aspects of those texts run counter to their apparent systematicity (structural unity) or intended sense (authorial genesis)... etc.""

"10/21/2010 - Endogenous retroviruses as confounding factors in the pathogenesis of AIDS
"A new thesis from the University of Florence approved with high marks on October 20, 2010, studies the issue of human endogenous retroviruses in signs and symptoms usually interpreted as being from an exogenous virus - HIV"

... or the website of Investigator, Student of Humanity and Self-Taught Pharmacologist Clark Baker:
... or the widely read and influential web log of leading US academic Professor Henry Bauer, a Highly Competent, Even Distinguished Scientist and Scholar of such brilliance that I’m sure you need no introduction:
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/10/21 
"That HIV does not cause AIDS is again demonstrated, this time in a doctoral thesis, “Endogenous retroviruses as confounding factors in the pathogenesis of AIDS”... mentored by Dr. Stefania Pacini and Dr. Marco Ruggiero. The work has just been accepted (with maximum marks) at the University of Florence, is in English, and is publicly available. The presentation was in Italian.

"The literature review mentions Montagnier’s longstanding view that sound immune systems withstand HIV, unpublished work of Dr. Christl Meyer suggesting that HIV is an evolutionary adapted and partly active variable and heritable gene construct of our immune (MHC/HLA)-system, De Harven’s discussion of human endogenous retroviruses as confounding factors in AIDS pathogenesis, and Yamamoto’s demonstration that stimulation of the immune system can eradicate HIV..."
It is particularly encouraging to note that there is nothing half-hearted about the Plagiarism in these dissident student works. Each paper consists almost entirely of passages copied from the net - mostly from a variety of AIDS denialist websites, "scientific" and other papers and lecture slides readily downloadable from the web, and even from wikipedia. Here are the first twenty or so pages of the first thesis, with the copy-pasted material highlighted in various colors according to the original sources, blue for wikipedia, red for Ruggiero, brown for Crupi, green for Bauer, purple for Duesberg, etc:

And here are the first pages of the second thesis, similarly highlighted. Note that the extended red section of what Highly Competent, Even Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Professor Bauer has described in glowing terms as a "literature review" is copied verbatim (and without any distracting comments by the student) from an article by Dr Etiene De Harven and recently published the highly respected first rank US science periodical Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

As you can see, both Graduation Theses (Tesi di Laurea) are almost entirely uncontaminated by any actual original work from either student, and represent some of the finest and purest examples of the Art of Plagiarism as taught at your University. Bravo!  The University should be proud to have awarded these AIDS denialist papers the highest honors, and to see them distributed so widely to the world in the University's name as examples of quality scholarship one might expect as standard for the Università degli Studi di Firenze - thanks to the tireless efforts of Professor Ruggiero, Professor Bauer, Mr Crowe and their friends.

It is a rare pleasure to note such diligent efforts as those shown by these fine and exemplary mentors and tutors of undergraduate students. Usually when an academic is confronted with evidence of plagiarism in a student’s paper that he has hitherto lauded and recommended I understand it is customary to sheepishly deny any knowledge of the original publications from which it was lifted. Prof Ruggiero, Dr Crupi, and Prof Bauer have unequivocally eschewed such pusillanimity, and stand justly proud of the skills of their protégés with the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V keys, even actively promoting the fruits of their work over the World Wide Web. Indeed, they have no choice but to proudly acknowledge the Plagiarism, given that the bulk of the material in each thesis was stolen largely from their own previously published work, and from other well known AIDS denialist sources, including an article of Mr Crowe's. This is, of course, well established practice amongst the AIDS denialist intelligentsia.

Might I also congratulate your University on its courage in officially approving and funding Prof Ruggiero’s recent course entitled “The Chemical Bases of AIDS”, lecture slides of which are freely available as a gift to the world from his website. (See "One chemical AIDS", "Two chemical AIDS"... "Last chemical AIDS", etc).

Here he proudly shows off the evidence of the University's endorsement of his course:

As you will note if you review the slides,

the content of the course is not so much in the area of chemistry or cell biology but rather consists of a remarkably fearless and creative re-imagining of the history and epidemiology of HIV/AIDS in order to press upon his students his firm personal conviction that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. It is an especially brave example of the quality of teaching at your University to publicize to the world, particularly since it is more than obvious from these lecture slides that neither Professor Ruggiero nor either of his co-lecturers Dr Rasnick and Dr De Harven (both past Presidents of Rethinking AIDS) are encumbered with even a passing acquaintance with the basic methods of epidemiology or any familiarity with the history of the disease which is their subject of interest. Or indeed, with elementary logic as it is conventionally understood.

The immensely positive influence of Prof. Ruggiero’s teaching on his young and eager students is best exemplified in the "Conclusions" sections of both theses, which in each case consists of a verbatim transcription of Prof. Ruggiero’s lecture slides 28 to 32 from the last of his six-lecture series. What educator would not be thrilled and delighted that his students’ work could so faithfully reproduce his own teachings, particularly when such opinions risk being unkindly characterized by a bigoted and mean-spirited scientific world as “profoundly ignorant” and “intellectually dishonest” and their active and direct promotion by scientists and academics to people at risk of HIV/AIDS as “grossly unethical” and “a serious threat to public health”?

As I mentioned before, what prompted me to write to you was the recent interview published by award-winning American medical science journalist and humanitarian, Celia Farber. From this interview it is clear that a certain so-called “Italian professor of microbiology, now retired” has had the temerity to write to you to draw your attention to the Plagiarism proudly endorsed by Professors Ruggiero, Pacini, Bauer et al, and to the innovative, imaginative, and highly original content of their teaching. An English translation of your cogent and entirely appropriate reply to this alleged “professor of microbiology” was published in full in Ms Farber’s article, as forwarded to her by Prof. Ruggiero:
Dear Professor La Placa,
I acknowledge receipt of your letter of October 16, 2010 (registered with n. 20.10.2010). As far as the substance of your letter is concerned, I cannot but state that, as you should know, freedom of teaching is in our corpus of laws and it is related with the amplest sphere of freedom of expression and communication of thought guaranteed by our Constitution. Such a freedom, by the way, concerns all dimension of free cultural expression of the profession of teaching that is realized within the laws and rules concerning the matter.
Sincerely yours,
Prof. Alberto Tesi,
Rettore dell’Università di Firenze.
I want to thank you for publicly putting this upstart “professor of microbiology, now retired” in his place. Bravo!

Reading your reply brought tears (of almost unbelieving gratitude) to my eyes, and I urge you to stand firm in dismissing any pressures from the prejudiced reality-based community to try to get you to address what might be called in institutions less liberated and enlightened than yours “gross academic misconduct” or “a major public embarrassment” or “bat-shit insane”. It was also reassuring to read your opinion that it is actually illegal under Italian Constitutional Law for your University to intervene in cases of plagiarism and obviously deranged or incompetent teaching. I only wish that the rest of the world could one day enjoy such freedom from narrow-minded and oppressive restrictions on academic conduct as is enjoyed in the City of Galileo.

With the most extremely warm wishes from the Land Down Under, and in the spirit of the amplest sphere of freedom of expression and communication of thought, made possible over such distances by the Electric Internet.

I am your servant,


PS: As you can see from your letter reproduced in Ms Farber’s article, it is now customary (in the interests of transparency) to routinely publish correspondence on these matters on the net. I have therefore taken the liberty of publishing this letter on my own website, http://snoutworld.blogspot.com/.

UPDATE July 2012

In response to a number of complaints by a group of Italian activists associated with the website HIVforum.info, in February 2012 Professor Alberto Tesi set up a commission to investigate the teaching activities of Professor Ruggiero at the university.

On 25th July, the university issued a press release outlining the results of their investigation:
Firenze, 25 luglio 2012

/Comunicato stampa/

*Università, caso Ruggiero*

*Conclusa l’indagine dell’Ateneo sull’attività didattica del docente*

Conclusa l’istruttoria nei confronti di Marco Ruggiero, ordinario di
Biologia molecolare presso la facoltà di Scienze matematiche, fisiche e
naturali dell’Università di Firenze, chiamato a fornire nei mesi scorsi
spiegazioni su alcuni aspetti della sua attività didattica all’interno
del corso di laurea in Scienze biologiche, a seguito di apposite
audizioni e delle osservazioni svolte da una commissione incaricata di
acquisire elementi di valutazione.

Alla fine del procedimento non sono emersi elementi di responsabilità
tali da richiedere l’emanazione di sanzioni disciplinari. Il rettore
dell’Ateneo fiorentino Alberto Tesi, titolare del procedimento stesso,
ha però scritto una lettera al docente, formulando alcune precisazioni
sui temi oggetto di contestazione. In particolare, ricordando le
difformità rilevate tra le lezioni di Ruggiero e il programma dei corsi
di studio del Corso di laurea in Scienze Biologiche, il rettore, pur nel
rispetto della libertà di ricerca e di insegnamento, ha riaffermato la
necessità per il docente di concordare i programmi di insegnamento con
il responsabile del Corso di laurea, soprattutto qualora si intenda
indirizzare le lezioni destinate agli studenti di biologia su aspetti
clinici. Il rettore ha anche preso atto dell’intenzione del docente di
rivedere il proprio programma di insegnamento.

Analogamente il rettore Tesi ha chiesto che gli argomenti delle tesi di
laurea assegnati da Ruggiero – inerenti aspetti di interesse clinico –
siano sottoposti a modalità di verifica più stringenti per garantire la
loro compatibilità con le tematiche specifiche del Corso di laurea in
Scienze biologiche. Il docente è stato, inoltre, ammonito dal pubblicare
o far pubblicare online notizie inesatte che coinvolgano l’Ateneo e ne
ledano l’immagine, come già avvenuto in passato.

Circa la presunta effettuazione da parte del docente di sperimentazioni
cliniche attraverso somministrazione della proteina GcMAF, il rettore ha
ritenuto opportuno segnalare la vicenda all’Ordine dei Medici per quanto
possa sembrare rilevante riguardo alle funzioni di tale organismo.
Snout's translation of this release is as follows:
Florence, July 25, 2012
/ Press release /

* University,  Ruggiero case *

* The investigation of the University on the professor’s teaching concludes *

The investigation has concluded with regard to Marco Ruggiero, professor of Molecular Biology, Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences at the University of Florence, who in recent months provided explanations of some aspects of his teaching in the undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences, as a result of special interviews and observations conducted by a commission appointed to evaluate elements of these aspects.

At the end of this procedure, no elements of responsibility emerged which require the issuance of disciplinary sanctions. However, the rector of the University of Florence, Alberto Tesi, in charge of the proceedings, has written a letter to the teacher, making some clarifications on the issues in dispute. In particular, recalling the differences detected between the lessons of Ruggiero and the program of courses  of study of the Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, the rector, while respecting  freedom of research and teaching, has reaffirmed the need for the professor  to arrange  his university teaching program with the director of the degree course, especially when considering direct lessons for students of biology on  clinical aspects. The rector also took note of the professor’s intention to revise his program of teaching.

Similarly, 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.

Regarding  the allegations that the teacher conducted experiments on GcMAF through clinical administration of the protein, the rector considered it appropriate to bring this to the attention of the Medical Board as possibly more relevant to the functions of that body.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Time to pay up, AIDS Inc!

ACCORDING TO AN ULTRA RELIABLE dissident source, namely one Clark Baker of the world-renowned Office of Medical and Scientific Justice,* it appears that the shadowy but extremely well funded organisation of PharmaSluts known as AIDS Inc (#14 on the list) has so far paid Seth Kalichman 17 million dollars for his blog, Denying AIDS and other oddities

Celebrated writer, producer, US Marine, private eye, pilot, divemaster, retired LAPD officer and father of a US Marine and public school teacher and general all-round great guy, Clark studied humanity on the streets of Calcutta, Nairobi, Rio, San Salvador, and Los Angeles (according to one of his numerous blogs). So he must be telling the truth here.

As the recipient of such PharmaLargesse it's no wonder Kalichman's smiling!

http://www.omsj.org/blogs/in-defense-of-aids-critics#more-1728 (accessed June 23 2010)

This is an outrage! For all his hard work slaving over a hot dial-up connection, Snout has yet to be offered so much as a cheap plastic ballpoint pen, or a pad of post-it notes emblazoned with the brand name of the latest stiffy pill evidence-based erectile dysfunction therapy.

Nor has Snout ever been permitted to scoff down the dried-out scraggly remains of the sweaty cheese and mystery meat sandwichettes usually left over after one of AIDS Inc's blatant and corrupt "luncheon" meetings (PharmaFeeds). *whimpers*

Enough is Enough!

Snout hereby demands that the goons of AIDS Inc immediately forward an appropriate and commensurate recompense for his efforts on this blog. About $5 - $10 million would be acceptable, given the current going rates. Used unmarked bills in a plain brown paper package, K?

And in US or Aussie dollars, please, not those Zimbabwean notes you tried to fob him off with last time.

You know where his kennel is. 

*OMSJ is supported by attorneys, scientists, physicians, researchers, investigative journalists and individuals throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and in particular by residents of the planet Xyphron.  Because of the nature of their work and the well-documented retaliation that comes with exposing corruption within the pharmaceutical industry, most of these individuals provide support - well, who'd have thunk it - anonymously.  Senior Contributor Liam Scheff and Clark Baker are exceptions, as are several of their imaginary friends.