Letters

Unconventional Journals: Research Ramifications

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Science  23 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5977, pp. 427
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5977.427-a

Take the Poll

The non–peer-reviewed journal Medical Hypotheses considers “radical, speculative and non-mainstream scientific ideas.” Recently, the journal has drawn fire for publishing papers that some say are detrimental to health care efforts (see this Letter); others feel that the journal is a “refreshing source of independent thinking” (see Letter by O. S. Amit). The future of Medical Hypotheses is now unclear. What do you think?

In general, do the benefits of a journal such as Medical Hypotheses outweigh the risks? Take the poll at www.sciencemag.org/extra/polls/20100423-1.dtl.

The News of the Week story “Elsevier to editor: Change controversial journal or resign” (M. Enserink, 12 March, p. 1316) reports on the withdrawal of a controversial HIV paper from Medical Hypotheses, a journal published by Elsevier. The paper in question claimed to refute the pivotal results of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Transfusion Safety Study, which revealed that 111 of 124 (89.5%) recipients of a single unit of HIV-infected blood became infected and that the rate of progression to AIDS within the first 38 months after infection was similar to that reported for homosexual men (1). Given such compelling data in support of HIV as the etiologic agent of AIDS, published in a prestigious medical journal, it was strange that Duesberg and Rasnick (2) put forth their hypothesis in 1998 that HIV does not cause AIDS. Propaganda exemplified by Duesberg's first and subsequent papers on the subject, and coupled with information freely disseminated through the Internet (e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS_denialism), has indeed distracted from confronting AIDS in South Africa. Elsevier's due diligence in a responsible withdrawal of Duesberg's recent paper from Medical Hypotheses is commendable and will hopefully put an end to perpetuation of a dogma that is damaging to science and society. Only an effective HIV vaccine can ultimately end this drama.

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