Talk:Walter Gilbert

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Views on AIDS[edit]

Why isn't he an AIDS dissident?—The preceding unsigned comment was added by 134.139.24.99 (talkcontribs) .

Gilbert once said that the HIV theory was unproven; according to the AIDS journalist Richard Jefferys, he's since changed his mind: "I am afraid that those comments go back to the late 80's. At that time I was a skeptic--the argument based on Koch's postulates to try to distinguish between cause and association... Today I would regard the success of the many antiviral agents which lower the virus titers (to be expected) and also resolve the failure of the immune system (only expected if the virus is the cause of the failure) as a reasonable proof of the causation argument." (Source) Trezatium 21:32, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
So far I have been unable to verify that info from other sources, so I am removing it from the article until someone can provide a reliable source as per WP:RS (a post in a blog, where someone associated with the AIDS-orthodox organization Treatment Action Group claims to reproduce a private email from Gilbert, is not a reliable source per Wikipedia guidelines). Given the relevance for his reputation (since he would be leaving what the AIDS orthodoxy labels as the "pseudoscientific" side), one would expect that Gilbert would have made his change of mind public through some verifiable source such as a press release, a published interview, or a notice in his own website. Uaxuctum 10:49, 5 January 2007 (UTC)


Ditto the above - a blog is the only source for this statement?? Gilbert must have made another mention of this - also his name has never been removed from the list of scientists, which he can do whenever he wishes ( the offer to remove your name is given to anyone who signed - several scientists have removed their names, but not Gilbert, etc). Parenthically - there funding resumes when they removed their name so there is a substantial incentive.( PS - is a blog - and only one at that - considered a citation?)159.105.80.141 (talk) 12:39, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

OK, I agree. I've removed the offending statement. Would be nice to have a good reference to resolve this issue, but I've been unable to find one. Trezatium (talk) 14:34, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

Added back mention of his initial skepticism wrt AIDS, with a citation. I know from personal communication he later withdrew his objections, but am having difficulty finding a referenceKrobison13 (talk) 02:42, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

synthesis[edit]

Surely he didnt work on the "synthesis of insulin" as a protein -- done much earlier -- but the synthesis of the nucleic acid sequence coding for Insulin. ? 21:03, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

AIDS[edit]

His posting of the reliable [1] gives his statement about what he believes. He is a reliable source for what he himself believes. DGG (talk) 06:06, 13 February 2008 (UTC)


Original Message-----

From: Walter Gilbert [2] Sent: Tuesday, April 04, 2006 10:27 PM To: richard.jefferys@verizon.net Subject: Re: question

Dear Dr. Jeffreys---I am afraid that those comments go back to the late 80's. At that time I was a skeptic--the argument based on Koch's postulates to try to distinguish between cause and association. However, even during that time we had several AIDS projects going within Biogen--one to try to stimulate T-independent B-cell activation (a pet approach of mine), another to develop soluble CD4--to use as an antiviral agent. That second project got to clinical trials (and failed because the virus in patients didn't have the high affinity for CD4 that the lab-grown virus had.) Today I would regard the success of the many antiviral agents which lower the virus titers (to be expected) and also resolve the failure of the immune system (only expected if the virus is the cause of the failure) as a reasonable proof of the causation argument.

yours truly

Walter Gilbert DGG (talk) 06:06, 13 February 2008 (UTC)


Did he say it himself anywhere? This would be a big enough turnabout from a well enough known man to show up more than second hand in a blog one would believe. There must be a news article - ie_ "Noble Prize Winner Does 180 on AIDS" somewhere out there. 159.105.80.141 (talk) 12:10, 13 February 2008 (UTC)PS I remember a discussion on another article where using blogs for more than the weather was discouraged - some well known editor's opinion.

It's hardly newsworthy; he probably changed his mind many years ago. Richard Jeffreys is a well-known, respected activist and writer; I very much doubt he would invent this email. Trezatium (talk) 17:12, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
what's more to the point is that the original skeptical comment was, as WG says, an offhand remark, that was picked up by the anti-AIDS people. It would be impossible to document that it was his settled opinion in the first place. I'm sure there's more documentation to be found, but its not a newsworthy reversal except to those who took it out of proportion in the first place. Its not news when a biologist says: "I believe in real science, just like I always did." DGG (talk) 06:04, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

Isn't he one of the 2572 signers of the petition skeptical of the HIV/AIDS link? His signature was undoubtedly not offhand - his lack of removing it ( as offered by the petitioners? ) may not be offhand. There must be another time and place that Gilbert has stated his conversion other than to Mr Jeffreys, probably an honorable man, but why not post all/more of the evidence.159.105.80.141 (talk) 17:03, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

He almost certainly didn't sign the petition. Instead, his name was added by one of the administrators of the list based on what he'd reportedly said. This is consistent with his name appearing in black rather than blue in the list you refer to. Trezatium (talk) 22:04, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

Blue means they don't believe that HIV causes AIDS - the signers.159.105.80.141 (talk) 12:14, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes, and black means they were added by the admin, with or without consent. Trezatium (talk) 13:30, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

General Expansion[edit]

First, just to be upfront about what could be construed as a COI, I was a Ph.D. student of Gilbert's. I am trying to be scrupulous about citing sources to balance that potential bias (though the truth is that most people who have worked with Gilbert will have both positive and negative opinions of him -- he is not simple!). I've started some edits tonight, as I found the scientific & biographical information was incomplete, colorless & out-of-date. Among the key points previously lacking were his purification of the lac repressor, his term as CEO of Biogen (and the fact he left Harvard during that time), his involvement in the AIDS controversy & has involvement in the Imanishi-Kari affair (not to mention his retirement and post-retirement career as an artistic photographer). The fact he was recruited to biology by James Watson via Gilbert's wife is a next bit to add. Krobison13 (talk) 02:49, 14 March 2015 (UTC)