Ever since Galileo turned his telescope toward the heavens and discovered the moons of Jupiter, helping to undermine the Aristotelian conception of the universe, those in power have persecuted scientists who hold politically incorrect opinions. In Galileo's case, his discoveries upset the leaders of Roman Catholicism, who saw in his ideas a threat to their ideology. More recently, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, James Watson, was forced to resign his position as head of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an institution which he largely built, after he had said that he believed that Africans had lower intelligence than others, and that this meant their prospects for African development were "gloomy". Since one ideological leg of the academic and political establishments is literal human equality, they rightly saw Watson's statement as a threat and dealt with it appropriately.
There have been other, lesser known persecutions of politically incorrect scientists in recent years. In 2005, the Danish psychologist Helmuth Nyborg published a paper, "Sex-related differences in general intelligence g, brain size, and social status", in which he demonstrated that men have a three to eight point advantage in IQ over women. He showed that, assuming a male advantage in IQ of 6.9 points, along with a wider distribution than women, at the highest levels of IQ - that is, at 145 points - men would outnumber women by eight to one.
Nyborg's paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal, but despite this he was accused of scientific fraud, a charge his university, Aarhus, took seriously. The end result was that the university censured Nyborg, officially finding him "grossly negligent" and bestowing on him "a severe reprimand". While he was lucky to escape with his job, much less from criminal charges, the example made of Nyborg stands as a warning to anyone else who would dare to publish politically incorrect findings in IQ research. The field of IQ studies stands out in the persecution of its scientists, as Linda Gottfredson, Philippe Rushton, and Arthur Jensen, all heavyweights in the field, have all been reprimanded or otherwise persecuted for their research.
Peter Duesberg is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has been a well-known critic of the thesis that the cause of AIDS is HIV. In 2009, he and four co-authors published a paper in the journal Medical Hypotheses titled "HIV-AIDS hypothesis out of touch with South African AIDS - a new perspective". This paper immediately attracted the ire of some members of the AIDS establishment, who wrote to the publisher of the journal and demanded a retraction, for which they also campaigned publicly. The publisher appointed a committee - the cynical might think it of the rubber-stamp variety - to investigate, and ultimately acceded to the demands of the agitators and officially withdrew the paper. In addition, a demand was made that Medical Hypotheses now become a peer-reviewed journal, something that in its 35-year history it had never been, the journal's mission being to publish "radical ideas" in science and medicine. The publisher demanded that the journals' editor, Bruce Charlton, M.D., either accede to this demand or resign, both of which he refused to do; as a result, Charlton will be fired from his editorship as of this May.
As if all that were not enough, UC Berkeley, at the instigation of unnamed faculty, is now investigating Peter Duesberg for misconduct. The university will not inform Duesberg of the identity of his accusers, and the nature of the charges consist of a possible conflict of interest of one of his co-authors, something Duesberg could hardly be held responsible for. Yet, his job is now apparently in jeopardy.
In 2010, the annual funding for AIDS-related research in the U.S. alone is some $24 billion, with a total of $287 billion having been spent since the early 1980s. The global total must be some multiple of this. Since the dominant paradigm of AIDS research is that it is caused by HIV, one can see that those who receive this funding - with all that it entails, including careers and renown - have a powerful motivation to silence opposition, including the opposition of their own doubts or contrary findings. As Upton Sinclair wrote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
Science is not a purely objective pursuit, as most scientists would have you believe. The scientists themselves have motivations and vulnerabilities that can be exploited, and those who control the purse strings, as well as competing scientists, do the exploiting. Modern science requires money, and scientists require livelihoods, and these two facts mean that those who would silence inconvenient theories have plenty of leverage with which to work.