Brian Martin (social scientist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brian Martin
EducationRice University, (BA in Physics); University of Sydney (PhD)
Occupation(s)Social scientist at University of Wollongong (social study of dissent, peace studies); formerly mathematician at Australian National University
Years active1973–present
EmployerUniversity of Wollongong

Brian Martin (born 1947) is a social scientist in the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, Faculty of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, at the University of Wollongong (UOW) in NSW, Australia.[1] He was appointed a professor at the university in 2007, and in 2017 was appointed emeritus professor.[2] His work is in the fields of peace research, scientific controversies, science and technology studies, sociology, political science, media studies, law, journalism, freedom of speech, education and corrupted institutions,[2][1][3] as well as research on whistleblowing and dissent in the context of science.[4][5] Martin was president of Whistleblowers Australia from 1996 to 1999 and remains their International Director.[6] He has been criticized by medical professionals and public health advocates for promoting the disproven oral polio vaccine AIDS hypothesis and supporting vaccine hesitancy in the context of his work.[7][8][9]

Martin has spoken at a British Science Association Festival of Science,[10] and testified at the Australian Federal Senate's Inquiry into Academic Freedom.[4][11] The crustacean Polycheles martini was named after him.[12]

Research and academia[edit]

Martin was born in the United States in 1947 and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He earned a BA in physics at Rice University in Texas in 1969, and, seeking to avoid conscription into the Vietnam War, emigrated to Australia, where he earned a PhD in physics at the University of Sydney in 1976.[13][14]

Martin's original academic field was theoretical physics, and he worked in both stratospheric modelling and numerical methods during his career. He has published extensively about the social dynamics and politicisation of controversial scientific topics. His topics of inquiry have included the globalization of polarised science such as the origin of HIV/AIDS.[8] He argues that there are situations in which scientific research that threatens vested interests can be suppressed. He describes a number of direct and indirect mechanisms through which he argues that this can occur, ranging from the denial of funds and the denial of promotion and tenure, through to the creation of a "general climate of fear".[15] Martin's work on in this area has provided what Delborne describes as a "key foundation for conceptualizing scientific dissent".[5]

Martin has been criticised for supporting the incorrect proposal that oral polio vaccine caused AIDS.[8][16][17] The hypothesis first came to notice in Rolling Stone magazine by way of journalist Curtis and AIDS activist Elswood in 1992, and was later further promoted by the journalist/writer Hooper and Martin,[8][18] with Hooper crediting Martin for giving the OPV-AIDS link hypothesis "further publicity and credibility".[19] Martin disputes the claim that he has been a supporter of the hypothesis, instead saying that he has "never argued in favour of the OPV theory", but has instead stated "that it was and remains worthy of consideration yet in many ways has been unfairly dismissed".[20] A 2016 article in The Australian described Martin's 2010 paper as claiming "that medical researchers had colluded to silence the theory that the AIDS virus was caused by contaminated polio vaccines in 1950s Africa."[7]

Martin has been active in the criticism of university systems. He has criticized conflicts of interest where universities are managing internal investigations that may lead to bad publicity, and recommends having independent groups investigate allegations of misconduct;[21] he has written about the unauthorised use of research produced by students and junior researchers by senior academics;[22] and he has been outspoken against sexual relationships between staff and students.[23][24] He also reports that any bias within universities could simply be due to students strategically working in-line with the biases of their teachers.[4]

Martin was subjected to an attempted academic gag when he published material about the forced retirement of a University of Adelaide academic. His university instructed him to remove the content from his website after Adelaide University threatened to sue. Martin's published material in question is now found on other websites.[25]

Martin believes that if complainants go through the official channels the outcome is very predictable, in that the organisation's internal grievance procedures, or making a complaint to the relevant ombudsman, does not work.[10] He also believes whistleblower laws do not work, saying; "Not only are whistleblower laws flawed through exemptions and in-built weaknesses but in their implementation they are rarely helpful".[26]


In April 2001, Martin published an article in defence of a sacked academic at UOW in the national newspaper The Australian.[27] In a response published in the same paper, the Vice-Chancellor of Murdoch University Steven Schwartz accused Martin of a position supporting the concept of a "laissez-faire attitude towards academic freedom (in which all sides are presented impartially)" saying his "approach to academic freedom is neither logical nor practical" as this approach "forces universities to abandon their most cherished values: scholarship, wisdom and truth".[28]

Immunologist and research scientist Greg Woods refuted Martin's posit on the Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease stating Martin's 2014 paper in The Conversation on the theory behind the cancer "misrepresents the state of the science".[29][30][relevant? ]

In 2014, Martin published a paper characterising criticism of Andrew Wakefield's discredited claims about vaccines and autism as "suppression of vaccination dissent".[31][non-primary source needed] In 2016, an Agence Science-Presse piece accused Martin of defending "the idea of a vaccine-autism link."[32] However, Martin disputes this, saying: "I have never defended this idea."[33] The Australian reported that "Martin is a former paid member of the anti-vaccine Australian Vaccination Network", and that Martin states that he is also a member of the American Skeptics Society.[9]

Martin has been criticised for his role in the Judith Wilyman PhD controversy where medical academics and the AMA raised concerns of whether Martin had the necessary knowledge to assess her doctorate which discussed vaccine science.[7][34][35][9] The Australian has criticised him as not recognising academic rigour over academic freedom,[34] and surgeon John Cunningham called on the University to have the thesis "reviewed by people whom have knowledge of vaccinations".[36]

In 2016, the Australian Skeptics criticised Martin's supervision of Wilyman by presenting Martin, Wilyman and the Social Sciences Department of the University of Wollongong the satirical Bent Spoon Award for awarding "a PhD thesis riddled with errors, misstatements, poor and unsupported 'evidence' and conspiratorial thinking".[37][38]



  • Truth tactics (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2021)[39]
  • Official channels (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2020)[40]
  • Jørgen Johansen and Brian Martin. Social defence (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2019)[41]
  • Vaccination panic in Australia (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2018)[42]
  • The deceptive activist (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2017).[43]
  • Ruling tactics: methods of promoting everyday nationalism, how they serve rulers and how to oppose them (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2017).[44]
  • Nonviolence Unbound (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2015).[45]
  • The Controversy Manual (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2014).[45]
  • Doing Good Things Better (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2013)[45]
  • Justice Ignited: The Dynamics of Backfire, (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).[46]
  • (with Wendy Varney). Nonviolence Speaks: Communicating against Repression, (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2003).[47]
  • Nonviolence versus capitalism, (London: War Resisters' International, 2001).[46]
  • Technology for Nonviolent Struggle, (London: War Resisters' International, 2001).[46]
  • (with Lyn Carson). Random Selection in Politics, (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999).[46]
  • The Whistleblower's Handbook: How to Be an Effective Resister, (Charlbury, UK: Jon Carpenter; Sydney: Envirobook, 1999).[10] Updated and republished 2013 as Whistleblowing: a practical guide, (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing)[45]
  • Information Liberation, (London: Freedom Press, 1998).[46]
  • Tied Knowledge: Power in Higher Education, (self-published, 1998).[48]
  • Suppression Stories, (Wollongong: Fund for Intellectual Dissent, 1997).[46]
  • Social Defence, Social Change, (London: Freedom Press, 1993).[49]
  • Scientific Knowledge in Controversy: The Social Dynamics of the Fluoridation Debate, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991).[46]
  • (with C. M. Ann Baker, Clyde Manwell & Cedric Pugh) Intellectual Suppression: Australian Case Histories, Analysis and Responses,[3] (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1986) ISBN 0207151326
  • Uprooting war, (London: Freedom Press, 1984).ISBN 978-0900384264
  • The Bias of Science (Society for Social Responsibility in Science, 1979) ISBN 0909509131

Journal articles in the physical sciences[edit]

His most cited papers are:

Other journal articles (selection)[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Brian Martin". University of Wollongong Australia. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b Raper, Judy (1 November 2017). "Emeritus Professor Brian Martin". University of Wollongong. Archived from the original on 22 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b Maley, William (1 September 1986). "Corrupted Institutions". The Age Monthly Review. Melbourne: Fairfax. pp. 19–21(61–63). Archived from the original on 10 August 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Devine, Miranda (4 December 2008). "Monoculture is killing thought". Brisbane Times. Fairfax. Archived from the original on 22 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b Delborne, Jason A. (2008). "Transgenes and Transgressions: Scientific Dissent as Heterogeneous Practice". Social Studies of Science. 38 (4): 509–541. doi:10.1177/0306312708089716. JSTOR 25474595. PMID 19227618. S2CID 10272587.
  6. ^ Barclay, Paul (10 May 2004). "Perspective: Whistleblowers and Iraq". ABC Radio. Archived from the original on 7 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Loussikian, Kylar (16 January 2016). "Anti-vaccination activists spruik PhD thesis as proof of conspiracy". The Australian. Archived from the original on 25 January 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Jenkins, Stephen H. (2015). Tools for Critical Thinking in Biology. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 217–219. ISBN 978-0-19-998104-5. OCLC 904046627. Although Hooper and Martin are still promoting the tainted polio vaccine hypothesis, recent genetic work has convincingly disproven it... Worobey's team published their genetic comparison of HIV samples in 2008, but Brian Martin continued to promote the tainted polio vaccine hypothesis for the origin of AIDS as late as 2010 in a paper called "How to Attack a Scientific Theory and Get Away with It (Usually)..."
  9. ^ a b c Morton, Rick (28 January 2014). "University paid for anti-vaccine student to attend conference". The Australian. Archived from the original on 25 January 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Murcott, Toby (11 September 2000). "Science needs its whistleblowers". BBC News. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017.
  11. ^ APH (9 September 2008). "Inquiry into Academic Freedom". Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017.
  12. ^ Ahyong, S.; Brown, D.E. (2002). "New Species and New Records of Polychelidae from Australia (Crustacea Decapoda)" (PDF). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 50 (1): 53–79. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  13. ^ Martin, Brian (1984). Uprooting War. London: Freedom Press. pp. 104–107. ISBN 978-0900384264.
  14. ^ Martin, Brian (2021). "Reflections on a Life in Science and STS". Science as Culture. 30 (1): 44–57. doi:10.1080/09505431.2020.1819222. S2CID 225193318.
  15. ^ Hess, David J. (1997). Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction, NYU Press. ISBN 978-0814735640. p152.
  16. ^ "Debunked: The Polio Vaccine and HIV Link". The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. 21 January 2016. Archived from the original on 1 December 2019.
  17. ^ Hammar, Lawrence (1 April 2004). "Dephlogistication, Imperial Display, Apes, Angels, and the Return of Monsieur Emile Zola". Papua New Guinea Medical Journal. 47 (1–2): 120, 124. S2CID 50897742.
  18. ^ Curtis, Tom (19 March 1992). "The Origin of AIDS: A startling new theory attempts to answer the question, 'Was it an act of God or an act of man?". Rolling Stone. No. 626. pp. 54–9, 61, 106, 108.
  19. ^ Hooper, Edward (1999). The River: A Journey Back to the Source of HIV and AIDS. US: Little Brown and Company. p. 797. ISBN 0316372617.
  20. ^ Martin, Brian. (16 May 2016). "Critical thinking about the origin of AIDS: Comments on Stephen Jenkins' account". Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  21. ^ Colvin, Mark (17 April 2014). "PM: Investigations mounting into research at University of New South Wales". PM - ABC Radio. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 13 May 2017.
  22. ^ Matthews, David (22 October 2015). "Papers retracted after authors used unauthorised data from junior researchers". Times Higher Education. London, UK. Archived from the original on 12 March 2016.
  23. ^ Harvey, Sarah. (14 February 2010). "Staff-student review may have wider impact", The Sunday Star-Times, New Zealand. pA005.
  24. ^ Powell, Stan. (29 May 1993). "Uni Staff Attacked for having Sex with Students", The Sydney Morning Herald, p 11.
  25. ^ Cervini, Erica (1 December 1999). "Gagged. Victoria's academics feel increasingly stifled as funding cuts force their universities down the big-business path". The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax. p. 1(67). Archived from the original on 10 August 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  26. ^ Pickard, Gabrielle (25 December 2014). "Who Does The Whistleblower Protection Act Really Protect?". Top Secret Writers. US. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  27. ^ Martin, Brian (18 April 2001). "Higher Education Supplement". The Australian. News Corp.[dead link]
  28. ^ Schwartz, Steven; Schwartz, Gregory (27 June 2001). "Laissez faire not fair for all". The Centre for Independent Studies. Sydney: (originally published in The Australian, 27 June 2001 p.31). Archived from the original on 9 January 2020.
  29. ^ Woods, Greg (18 November 2014). "Tassie devil facial tumour is a transmissible cancer". (Australian ed.). Parkville, Vic.: The Conversation Media Group Ltd. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019.
  30. ^ Martin, Brian; Warren, Jody (16 November 2014). "What's killing Tassie devils if it isn't a contagious cancer?". (Australian ed.). Parkville, Vic.: The Conversation Media Group Ltd. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019.
  31. ^ a b Martin, Brian (2015). "On the Suppression of Vaccination Dissent". Science and Engineering Ethics. 21 (1): 143–157. doi:10.1007/s11948-014-9530-3. PMID 24658876. S2CID 9824788. Published online: 23 March 2014.
  32. ^ Lapointe, Pascal (15 January 2016). "L'anti-vaccination à l'université" [Anti-vaccination at university]. Agence Science Presse (in French). Quebec, CA. Archived from the original on 26 February 2016. The professor she chose as supervisor, Brian Martin, is known for his belief in a conspiracy to silence and hide the study that the AIDS virus was caused by the polio vaccine. And he also defends the idea of a vaccine-autism link.
  33. ^ Martin, Brian (2018). "Persistent Bias on Wikipedia: Methods and Responses". Social Science Computer Review. 36 (3): 379–388. doi:10.1177/0894439317715434. S2CID 65125326.
  34. ^ a b "When fulltime isn't quite that, and Queensland's VET goes to Kerala". The Australian. 2 February 2016. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016.
  35. ^ Brull, Michael (7 February 2016). "Anti-Vaccination Cranks Versus Academic Freedom". New Matilda. At Large Media Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 26 February 2017.
  36. ^ Laurence, Emily (13 January 2016). "University of Wollongong criticised over thesis by anti vaccination activist". ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 17 January 2016.
  37. ^ "2016 Skeptics awards – Spoon to Wilyman, Skeptic of the Year to Harvey and Vickers". Australian Skeptics. 28 November 2016. Archived from the original on 18 March 2020.
  38. ^ "Skeptics name winners of Bent Spoon award". Pharmacy News. Australian Doctor Group. 28 November 2016. Archived from the original on 29 November 2016.
  39. ^[bare URL PDF]
  40. ^[bare URL PDF]
  41. ^[bare URL PDF]
  42. ^[bare URL PDF]
  43. ^ Martin, Brian (2017). The deceptive activist. ISBN 978-9188061218. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  44. ^ Martin, Brian (2017). Ruling tactics: methods of promoting everyday nationalism, how they serve rulers and how to oppose them. ISBN 978-9188061171. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  45. ^ a b c d "Author search "Brian Martin"". Irene Publishing. Sweden. 5 January 2020. Archived from the original on 5 January 2020.
  46. ^ a b c d e f g NLA (6 January 2020). "author: "Martin, Brian, 1947-"". National Library of Australia. Archived from the original on 6 January 2020.
  47. ^ Martin, Brian (2003). Nonviolence Speaks: Communicating Against Repression. ISBN 978-1572734852. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  48. ^ Martin, Brian (1998). "Tied Knowledge: Power in Higher Education" (PDF). S2CID 166873314.
  49. ^ Martin, Brian (1993). Social Defence, Social Change. ISBN 978-0900384691. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  50. ^ Google Scholar,

External links[edit]