As an American epidemiologist working in France, I have a unique perspective on the Robert Gallo-Luc Montagnier controversy, diametrically opposed to that expressed by Edward Ahrens (The Scientist, April 13, 1992, page 3).

There is an apparent evolution in many professions toward the belief that professionals are chosen, existing within a supercivilization of their peers, not capable of being understood, much less judged, by society as a whole. Ahrens seems to dismiss much of the Gallo affair as merely a lack of "spin control" by the scientific community.

One suspects that, to Ahrens, it matters not whether the "golden cookie jar" belongs to another scientist, as with Montagnier's virus, or to society as a whole, as with the Stanford University indirect-costs fiasco. Rather, when a scientist is caught with his hand in such a cookie jar, he is now to claim a form of limited immunity, due to his all-...

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