Nobel Laureates: Better to Be “Wacko” than Good
I often get email from people interested in frequency medicine that are called “wacko” by their spouse, their physicians, and their friends. On occassion, I even get called “wacko” myself, although that is becoming increasingly rare as people, including clinicians, get consistent results based on comments posted here.
My favorite mentor and “wacko” is Linus Pauling who was sponsor of the Center for Vitamins and Cancer Research that I cofounded at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1980. Linus only won two Nobel Prizes and was very upset he did not get a third for discovering DNA. He loaned some data to Watson and Crick and they got the jump on him, maybe because of Linus’s data. The government thought he was really “wacko” for winning a Nobel Prize for complaining about nuclear testing hazards, considered him a security risk, and would not let him out of the country. The Chinese felt the same way about the Dalai Lama when he got the Nobel Peace Prize.
Francis Crick was a “wacko” of sorts because he was a physicist who dabbled in biology.
Let’s take a look at the “wacko” of the week in today’s Investor’s Business Daily, not exactly a “wacko” publication. J. Michael Bishop won the Noble Prize in 1989 for discovering that normal genes cause cancer. Most of todays clinicians still do not get it. Normal programming in a cell is turned on to produce cancer. We have to turn the program off, not blast cells with various technologies that risk the patients life.
Researcher J. Michael Bishop – Have Vision: Following his instincts helped this doctor win a Nobel Prize
Curt Schleier, Investor’s Business Daily, 27 Jan 2004
Bishop had an idea for a research project early in his career. He wanted to research a theory by Dr. Howard Temin of the University of Wisconsin that retroviruses let genetic information flow backward through what was then though of as one-way circuitry in a cell. However, many of Bishop’s peers predicted his work was doomed to fail. Instead of following his instincts, he listened and abandoned the research, only to discover a year later that Temin and others succeeded where he’d feared to go.
“If you have an idea that you think is really good — particularly if it’s path-breaking — shut off your antennae and just go with it,” Bishop said. “If your own judgment about these things is not sound, your’re not going to make it as a scientist. You’d rather find that out sooner than later…”
Bishop says one reason so many scientists were skeptical about Temin’s theory was its source, at an unlikely outpost in Wisconsin. It taught Bishop to judge ideas on merit — not where they originate.
“Howard Temin had a good pedigree, but he was working at the University of Wisconsin,” Bishop said. “There he was making this heretical proposal on how retroviruses replicate. I saw him at one of the first scientific meetings I attended. He was literally denigrated by the chair of the session in advance of his talk, accused of being a wacko. (Temin) was right, but it was clear that people were willing to snipe at him because he wasn’t from Harvard or MIT.”
So the next time your spouse, your physician, or your friends call you wacko, thank them! You may be in good company.