Bending Science: This Will Not End Well

Bending Science:  This Will Not End Well

I tend to see some issues through the lens of of how it will play in the world of pseudo-medicines.

So when I saw "Bending the Rules of Science Can Save Lives, Says Fauci" over at Medscape (where I am a paid blogger) I cringed.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of the premier HIV/AIDS researchers in the US and director of the NIAID.  He is Infectious Disease royalty.

He gave a talk at TEDMED as part of the session Catalyzing Great Science, part of

Risk-taking researchers reveal new ways to disrupt the scientific paradigm, break through barriers between academia and industry, link seemingly unrelated fields, and meet demand from patient activists. Catalyzers include an evangelist for creative science; a science experiment matchmaker; a global health and life sciences champion; America's AIDS doctor; and other rebels against science-as-usual.

TEDMED does excel at gushing adjectives. I became short of breath just reading the descriptions of the other talks.

The video is not yet available, so I had to rely on the Medscape summary. And what were these risk-taking disruptions of the scientific paradigm that rebelled against the science-as-usual?

One was listening to AIDS patients and realizing, as was the case back in the day, that the drug evaluation system was inadequate and inflexible to meet the needs of AIDS patients with multiple infections. He came up with a "parallel track" that allowed patients expanded access to new medications.

This was not a bending  science but bending the FDA bureaucracy.

Another example was the conventional wisdom that HIV medications would be impossible to deliver in Africa, but they sent the drugs and patients took them as scheduled.

Again, it was not bending science, but the rules of bureaucracy that was key to providing care.

And conventional wisdom are not the same as rules of science. It says so in the Handbook, page 11, section 2B.

As far as bending the rules of science, I am reminded yet again of the Bard.

It is a tale.

Told by TEDMED, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

But it has such a high abuse potential, right up there with the recent Nobel. I can see this TED talk being touted as a validation for all kinds of pseudo-sciences. I suspect that Dr. Fauci will be quoted out of context for all kinds of implausible therapies and disproven concepts. There were comments about applying the same principles to Lyme and cancer research. Acupuncture and homeopathy will likely be next.


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