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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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May 29, 2012

Luc Montagnier Is Not Losing It. Luc Montagnier Has Lost It.

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Posted by Derek

I don't see any alternative. My question from last year is answered, as I'd feared. Word comes of an autism conference featuring the likes of Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield, which should be all any well-informed person needs to hear.

And Luc Monagnier is there, too. Not content with teleporting DNA molecules and defending homeopathy, he now says that he can cure autistic children with antibiotics, and is decrying the reception that these claims are getting. In fact, all of Montagnier's odd beliefs tend to run together, so in one way, his rubbing shoulders with the likes of the other speakers at this autism meeting is completely fitting. After all, they believe all kinds of weird stuff, too, so why not?

But on another level, it's just sad. Even if one might want to give Montagnier the benefit of the doubt, based on his past work, there's no way that anyone can be taken seriously after sharing a speaker's platform with the likes of Jenny McCarthy et al. The fact that he doesn't seem to realize this, or care, is just another piece of evidence: Luc Montagnier has lost it.

Comments (22) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Snake Oil


1. luysii on May 29, 2012 12:33 PM writes...

It happens. How sad that Linus Pauling, one of the giants of 20th century chemistry (The Nature of the Chemical Bond, Pauling and Wilson's QM, electronegativity, the alpha helix) is remembered by most for outrageous claims for vitamin C and his opposition to the Vietnam war.

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2. RB Woodweird on May 29, 2012 12:38 PM writes...

It is probable that Luc at some time in his career licked his finger to turn the page of a lab notebook and was exposed to a virus which slowly destroyed his incredulity gene. We need to isolate this virus, which I am tentatively naming the Human Skepticodeficiency Virus (HSV) and develop therapies so victims like poor Dr. Montagnier can be returned to some semblance of a normal life.

Step one in the protocol will be to homogenize Jenny McCarthy in preparation for ultracentrifugation of the resulting slurry.

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3. WCA on May 29, 2012 1:19 PM writes...

“DNA sequences that emit, in certain conditions, electromagnetic waves. The analysis by molecular biology techniques allows us to identify these electromagnetic waves as coming from … bacterial species"


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4. Curious Wavefunction on May 29, 2012 1:20 PM writes...

Luysii, I have to say I still remember Pauling for quantum chemistry, his book and the alpha helix. Montagnier is much worse and is more akin to Kary Mullis.

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5. Hap on May 29, 2012 1:22 PM writes...

1) I have to wonder: at what kind of conference is Andrew Wakefield welcome (well, that one can actually advertise), much less actually a draw? It's like having Jayson Blair headlining a journalism conference, except at least he didn't get anybody killed from his dishonesty.

2) Where would you culture HSV? Isn't it probably a Level 4 virus - while it may not kill its host, its host may kill a lot of others before it stops being spread, either by death or cure, and it doesn't have a cure yet (and if it's just contagious stupid, it probably won't ever have one).

3) I don't think Pauling was anywhere near this level of stupid, though his quasicrystal opposition definitely moves the crankometer above baseline.

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6. Imaging guy on May 29, 2012 1:31 PM writes...

"DNA sequences that emit, in certain conditions, electromagnetic waves."
I should think that this statement is true. But not only DNA but also RNA, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, water and all other organic or non organic molecules above absolute zero temeperature emit elecromagnetic raditaiton. At normal body temperature I would expect them to emit EM waves in infrared region. Since all are emitting infrared waves, I do not know how he could differentiate bacterial DNA from human DNA and other molecules.

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7. SP on May 29, 2012 1:32 PM writes...

Hasn't it been demonstrated that DNA can act as a nanowire? In which case it is by definition emitting EM waves. Not that that has been shown to happen in cells or that it has any demonstrated relevance to disease.

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8. In Vivo Veritas on May 29, 2012 1:46 PM writes...

When I was a grad student (late 1990's) my institution spent big $$ on buildings, plans, etc. as part of a package to get Luc to join our US institution. As a public University it would have been a coup to get someone of his caliber. last minute, after paperwork was signed, dirt dug, etc., Luc backed out. As an institution we were distraught. Now it looks like we dodged a bullet.

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9. partial agonist on May 29, 2012 3:11 PM writes...

Does he want to use regular antibiotics or homeopathic antibiotics?

bizarroworld indeed

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10. Rich Apodaca on May 29, 2012 3:43 PM writes...


It's been well over a year since you wrote about Montagnier's DNA teleportation claims. Surely some group must have tried to repeat the experiments since then. Have you seen anything and if so what ever came of it?

Also, the article you cite has this quote from the man himself:

"We must confirm this breakthrough by controlled double blind clinical trials, but within the rules of medical ethics."

That doesn't exactly scream 'con-man' or 'lunatic' to me.

It wasn't too long ago that the idea of bacteria causing ulcers wasn't even worth considering. And then there's always this:

Regardless of how outlandish Montagnier's claims appear to be, I'd be careful about calling 'crackpot' while the jury is still out.

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11. matt on May 29, 2012 4:30 PM writes...

The sad thing is he seems to be using his homeopathic EM water waves to judge whether his antibiotic "cure" is working. Hello, confirmation bias. Will anybody hold his feet to the fire and demand a real endpoint, which is some diagnostic measure of autistic behavior? I suppose, when one gets out on the fringe with known frauds like Wakefield, the ethics have already slid to the side.

@RB Woodweird: I think HSV is simply the human brain wandering off, when it is no longer subjected to the sharp tugs of reality applied by others around us. (Many times a day, to most of us, but after a Nobel and many honors, both the willingness or temerity to give and the humility to take may shrivel up. The loss of much human interaction after retirement is critically important.)

While I'm philosophically rambling, I wonder if the craziness to tackle odd ideas or think differently and persist intelligently in the face of learned opposition doesn't tend to create Nobel prize winners AND make them more likely to wander into fringe pseudoscience? Is this a different phenomena than the Case Western professor whose strange nonsensical paper you linked a while back?

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12. cientifico on May 29, 2012 4:59 PM writes...

Re the Human Skepticodeficiency Virus. It would seem that exposure to a Nobel Prize is necessary to acquire one of most aggressive forms of this virus.

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13. Watson on May 30, 2012 12:15 AM writes...

Thanks for the discussion. Now I'm wondering what the momentum of these DNA sequences are so that I can calculate their de Broglie wavelengths.

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14. Crick on May 30, 2012 11:42 AM writes...

@ Hap
HSV could be cultured in the petri dish of the media (eg "Dr" Oz) and the uninformed blogosphere. The media is full of individuals with no minds anyway and blogging is like a glovebox. Therefore, no real human being would be purposely put in harm's way. This is only a 1st draft.

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15. The Iron Chemist on May 30, 2012 5:26 PM writes...

Man, I hope that the DNA doesn't teleport out of my cells. That would suck.

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16. ttmy on May 31, 2012 9:20 AM writes...


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17. Xelandre on June 16, 2012 1:39 PM writes...

He lost "it" quite a while before he was granted the Knowbull Prayz.

He was a friend and supporter of the late Jacques Benveniste, and back in 2006 he gave "expert" testimony to the European Patent Office when it was minded to refuse an application by the fallen scientist for a device and method based in the memory of water. (The EPO's decision to refuse was eventually affirmed on appeal).

In fact, he founded the same year a venture, Nanectis, in which Laurent Benveniste, (the son of Jacques) owns 40% of the stock through his own company, Digibio. Nanectis/Montagnier are now pursuing several patent applications of their own for "detecting" water "signals".

Montagnier also drew attention a decade ago for his "interesting" theories on the virtues of papaya juice. Is is because it contains a lot of vitamin C? Linus would be so proud...

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18. aK on June 22, 2012 1:38 PM writes...

He is a Nobel price and you are not. And he is right and you are not.

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19. Jimm on July 10, 2012 8:42 AM writes...

Well, all of the above having been said, I think it's fair to ask this question: how many of you have gone to your labs and attempted to duplicate Montagnier's claimed results in the area of DNA duplication?

Derek, this may interest you since it has an Arkansas connection - during the 2012 U of A Sponsored regional science fair, a 13-year old kid wrote a paper railing 'ol Luc for "bad science" in that he failed to publish the magnetic field strength needed to "duplicate" DNA base pairs, and, then he extrapolated the published design of the apparatus, hijacked a "boom box" low freq amplifier, used more expansive controls than were described in the paper and lo, what the the tyke find? While being proctored by certified adults, the tyke managed to tag and photograph base pairs in sterile target tubes - none of the control tubes ever fluoresced.

They gave the lad 1st place in molecular biology. His project was judged by some interesting DNA gurus (visiting fellows) they scrounged up from the campus.

Can you teleport DNA? probably not. Can you at least attempt to run the experiment before you rail 'ol Luc? If a 13 year old kid can do it, surely some of you folks can.

Science is a disciplined process. It is not endless debate and ungrounded criticism. Such attitudes were responsible for lengthy periods of promotion and acceptance of the "fact" that the earth is flat.

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20. Chris Levy on December 1, 2012 11:48 PM writes...

Everything has an electromagnetic signal this work makes sense as it applies to the medium of water. So you take viral DNA signals and reverse these signals you thereby have a device to prevent viral DNA replicating and the device cures all diseases in the world without any harm to the host. Is that not important work?

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21. john on December 16, 2012 3:45 AM writes...

Who made all of you know better than the guy who showed in experiments that he was right .

What makes you red beard know anything better than the next guy .

AND ALL YOU NAY SAYERS ... WTF do you know about water ?

The Joe Cell , Hexagonal water as per Emoto ... this is all science AND all i read here is ignorance .

This is Tesla's era and you better get with it !

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22. Mark on January 21, 2013 8:33 AM writes...

This is totally sick. A real scientist has an open mind. The current attitude shows the same aspects of the muslim terrorists and others who have such strong convictions that it does not leave an opening for the unbelievable, the space where the unknown is to be found. This a psychological deficiency that holds mankind in darkness.

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