It won't come as any kind of surprise to regular readers of this blog that I am irritated by (and usually try to avoid reading) Orson Scott Card's prolific politics columns. I have huge respect for the guy as an author and, as I have said many times, Ender and Bean have a special place in my heart. He does good work with the Medicine Show and his "bootcamp" for writers (I think there's at least a couple alumni of that among writers for M-Brane). I even give him a lot of credit for presenting his views in a tone of civil debate and respectful disagreement with whomever he is disagreeing with. A couple weeks ago when I heard that flap about the TV show Big Love depicting a particular Mormon temple ceremony, a thing that church members generally consider to be private and sacred and not for public ogling, I immediately said to myself, "I bet Card has a post about this somewhere." Ignoring my usual self-imposed ban on deliberately seeking out things that might piss me off, I looked it up. As expected, on the National Review website, was Card's comment on the Big Love incident. It turns out that his reaction to it wasn't angry and his advice to other Mormons was to just let it go and not get all bent out of shape. Very calm and reasonable...but he just had to cast it in terms of what he characterizes as the "open season on Mormons" created by opponents of California's Proposition 8. How about letting that go, too? His side may have won a vote on a prop and they may win some more court battles in the days ahead, but let's face it: there's eventually going to be equal marriage rights for everyone in this country whether you think it's a "sin" or not. It's an inevitable fact, just as it's inevitable that Card's church is going to continue. So how about we give peace a chance.
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Friday, March 27, 2009
But that's not even what I was planning to talk about. The writer I wanted to mention is Jerry Pournelle. I've known since the time it was actually going on that he was part of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy which advised the Reagan transition team on space matters in 1980 and boosted the Reagan administration's desire to build the Strategic Defense Initiative. Other sf members of this group were Gregs Bear and Benford, Robert Heinlein, Jim Baen, Steve Barnes and Poul Anderson. So I always knew he was generally on a different side of political matters than I have ever been. That's fine, it doesn't bother me. I haven't even read much of the man's solo work anyway, though I have read a lot of his collaborations with Niven, such as the one in the picture, so it's not like it even makes me see his work through a distorted political lense. But then a piece of information crossed my screen last night that really gave me pause: the Wikipedia article on Pournelle, in the section about scientific contrarian views, says that he "has advocated research to directly investigate Peter Duesberg's controversial views on the cause of AIDS." I hope this does not mean that Pournelle actually endorses Duesberg. If that is what it means, then I don't want to know about it.
Duesberg believes that HIV has nothing to do with the cause of AIDS. The retrovirus is harmless and incidental, he says. This idea has been roundly rejected by the entire scientific community save for Duesberg and a few other psychopaths. What causes it then? Well, in Africa, they're just getting sick from malnutrition and bad water and other diseases, he says. He sat on a panel to advise South African president Thabo Mbeki on AIDS policy, and his views are considered influential in that country's failure to provide anti-retroviral drugs, resulting in hundreds of thousands of unnecessary AIDS deaths and new HIV infections. I'm not saying that Duesberg is culpable in a sort of passive mass murder of thousands of people. But some people have said that. Oh, you might be wondering what his explanation might be for "all those gays in San Francisco" getting AIDS. This is it: use of recreational drugs, in particular amyl nitrite ("poppers"--yeah, over-the-counter poppers caused AIDS). That's why I'm not going to read Pournelle's blog anymore because I'm afraid he'll endorse this lunatic idea right out in the open and I will scream.
This counts as this week's Science Friday post.Related Articles :