A Giant of Science Dancing Naked in the Mind Field

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Thanks to covid more people know what PCR is than the inventor of this widely used biochemical detection method could have dared to imagine. 

Even though I probably benefited from it many times throughout my life, before covid I had no idea what a polymerase chain reaction test was, let alone how it worked and what its limitations were. 

Those of us who were critical of the central role PCR tests played in the whole travesty would also at some point have learned the name of the guy who invented PCR in 1983: Kary Mullis. 

In 2020, video clips surfaced showing Mullis cautioning about the limits of PCR. I’ll get back to that. Surely, many of us said, Mullis himself (he died of pneumonia on 7 August 2019) would not have approved of the way his 1993 Nobel Prize winning invention was being (ab)used by health authorities around the world to detect the SARS-Cov-2 virus. After reading Mullis’s 1998 autobiography, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, I think he would definitely have been turning over in his grave when Christian Drosten’s WHO-approved covid test regime was used as a weapon to terrorise the entire globe. 

The eccentric Mullis was never one to mince words. Would he have been able to single-handedly stem the tsunami of covid madness that was flooding the planet? Unlikely, but he would not have kept quiet. 

Judging by his autobiography, Mullis was a free-spirited maverick, a fiercely independent and critical thinker, a scientist at heart, driven by curiosity. Here is a sample from page 110:

If there is something in my food that somebody says is a poison, I want to have the chemistry explained and decide for myself whether or not I want to eat it. Science is a method whereby a notion proffered by anyone must be supported by experimental data. This means that if somebody else is interested in checking up on the notion presented, that person must be allowed access to instructions as to how the original experiments were done. Then he can check things out for himself. It is not allowable in science to make a statement of fact based solely on your own opinion. 

Mullis also harboured a deep mistrust in government:

Checks and balances are hard to come by in a scientific establishment that is supported from outside by a populace unskilled in the scientific arts. I know it’s going to be a hard and inefficient answer. Compared to a benevolent monarchy, having three branches of government was also inefficient. And I know that as long as it achieves a better life for us here in the colonies, we will put up with it. We are optimistic people, really, and we are not in a hurry to go anywhere else. I don’t know exactly what the answer is, but I know the answer is not to believe, “Trust us. We’re here to help.” It never has been. [p 103]

Nothing’s changed for the better since he wrote these words. On the contrary. 

Mullis was fully aware of the problems science was already facing back then:

We have to make it on the basis of our own wit. We have to be aware-when someone comes on the seven o’clock news with word that the global temperature is going up or that the oceans are turning into cesspools or that half the matter is going backward-that the media are at the mercy of the scientists who have the ability to summon them and that the scientists who have such ability are not often minding the store. More likely they are minding their own livelihoods. [p 106]

He pinpoints the beginnings of this decline to the 1930s, when governments realised that they could use science to determine the balance of power. 

Further, he is critical of many of the then-pervasive issues: the climate scare, the ozone hole; and perhaps most famously, HIV-AIDS:

I lectured about PCR at innumerable meetings. Always there were people there talking about HIV. I asked them how it was that we knew that HIV was the cause of AIDS. Everyone said something. Everyone had the answer at home in the office in some drawer. They all knew and they would send me the papers as soon as they got back. But I never got any papers. Nobody ever sent me the news about how AIDS was caused by HIV. I finally had the opportunity to ask Dr. Montagnier about the reference when he lectured in San Diego at the grand opening of the ICSD AIDS Research Center, which is still run by Bob Gallo’s former consort, Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal. This would be the last time I would ask my question without showing anger. In response Dr. Montagnier suggested, “Why don’t you reference the CDC report?” “I read it,” I said, “That doesn’t really address the issue of whether or not HIV is the probable cause of AIDS, does it?” He agreed with me. It was damned irritating. If Montagnier didn’t know the answer, who the hell did? [p 174]

Intriguing, to say the least, but unfortunately, the chapter ends there.  

Mullis’s book is entertaining as much as it is thought-provoking. He reminisces about his relationships with his parents and his partners, his drug use, how he invented PCR, his involvement in the O.J. Simpson trial – but somehow he always finds a link back to his great love for science and the quest to find scientific truth.

So, what about those video clips that surfaced early on during the covid years, which were of course dismissed by our all-knowing fact-checkers? 

I dug a little deeper, past those pesky YouTube and Google algorithms, and eventually found the entire footage, which, as it turns out comes from an interesting panel discussion at an AIDS-critical conference in Santa Monica that took place on 12 July 1997. You can find the recording in two parts here and here. When Mullis talked, he was far from eloquent, and it was not always easy to be sure what he actually meant. But to me what he says about PCR at the end of the discussion is clear enough to confirm that he would not have approved of the way the PCR method was being abused during covid. 

Here is my 45-minute compilation of everything Mullis said on that occasion. You might also want to treat yourself to this fascinating 30-minute TED-X talk. 

No, Mullis was not the most refined orator, but he more than made up for that with his intellect, his authenticity, his wit, and his passion for science.

This article first appeared on Jörg’s website here.

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  • Jörg Probst

    Jörg Probst is a Sydney-based Swiss-born polyglot Australian researcher and commentator with a passion for promoting critical and independent thinking. He studied philosophy, psychology and law, practised as a lawyer and now works as a legal researcher.

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