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, 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.


Anonymous said...

Nothing like a good illustration to get the point across! Until now, I didn't realize this level of plagiarism was even thinkable, much less possible. These skillful scholars have set the bar high, indeed. I would go so far as to dub their work "the apotheosis of aping." (or did I steal that from someone?)

Medico said...

Thanks to Professors Ruggiero, Bauer and their friends, the University of Florence has indeed extended the realm of the thinkable and the possible.

What a marvelous advertisement for Italian academic standards as they seek to move into the English language educational market.

notElon said...

That is quite incredible. I thought I recognized that endogenous retrovirus mumbo-jumbo from somewhere, but the true extent of the plagiarism is entirely breath-taking.

Anonymous said...

My god!!! I haven't seen that level of plagiarism since I last visited AIDSTRUTH, Reckless Endangerment, Denying AIDS or the now thankfully defunct Dissidents4Dumbees.

Still you don't plagiarise, you form consensus daisy chains.

BTW, what has happened to J Todd DeShong over there at Baylor Health? I heard they got rid of him for bringing discredit to the univeristy hospital.

But as usual J.P Moore rattles your leash to pick up the slack.

Anonymous said...

Aww Geez, the dog's got out again.

Gay Hornet said...

I doubt the idiots at the University even understood your sarcasm. They probably think this is a legitimate letter of praise!

I wonder if anything will come of this? It reminds me of the way all the Denialists got behind that Al-Bayati "version" of EJ's autopsy. Although, when Al-Bayati did the same thing with Maggiore's autopsy, the Denialists quickly swept that under the rug. Maybe they can learn something.

Snout said...

Sarcasm, Hornet? Moi? I don't know what you're talking about.

Anyone who's ever read much denialist drivel on the net knows that most of it is copy-pasted. I've always suspected that there must be an academic institution somewhere teaching such extensive Plagiarism skills. Now we know, and the University of Florence deserves full recognition for their efforts.

By the way, if anyone's interested, both theses are still downloadable from Marco Ruggiero's website and David Crowe's. No sweeping things under the rug here!


CBE said...

Pretty amusing to read the responses of the Questioning AIDS gang to all this, at least until Jonathan Barnett started deleting posts. My favorite comes from HansSelyeWasCorrerct who informs us:

"On the other hand, as I said, their argument might be that if it's not yet in a "peer review" journal and if someone grants permission to use the analysis, then it's not plagiarism. This may be the way things are done in Italy, for all I know..."


I'm sure the Perth Group will be delighted to read pages 34 - 42 of the first thesis, and pages 38 - 51 of the second, which attributes their work to Austrian airhead Crystl Meyer. I know they're always pleased when Rethinking AIDS takes credit for their ideas.