05 January 2009

Bad Science and AIDS

I've been a regular Ben Goldacre reader for years. His regular Guardian column on the pitfalls, pratfalls, and outright dangers of bad scientists, crony scientists, pseudoscientists, and nonscientists is not-to-be-missed.

His piece last Saturday, though, just made me sad. A pregnant, HIV-positive woman was told by an idiot scientist that anti-retroviral drugs and breastfeeding were bad for her and her child. They are now both dead. The scientist is a professor at Berkeley (a public, tax-payer-funded university) who served on the South African Advisory Panel on HIV and AIDS, which effectively murdered several hundred thousand South Africans.

I understand the desire for healthy debate and contrary ideas at educational institutions. I also understand that, in this day and age, stupid people have a sufficient medium (the internet) to become horrifyingly dangerous.

If you aren't outraged, you're not paying close enough attention. California is in a budget crunch. I can think of an easy way for the state to save around $100K. Every little bit helps.

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