Publication Details

Martin, B, The politics of a scientific meeting: the Origin-of-AIDS Debate at the Royal Society, Politics & the Life Sciences, 2001, 20(2), 119-130. Published by Beech Tree Publishing. The original journal can be found here.


The Royal Society of London held a scientific meeting in September 2000 focusing on two theories of the origin of AIDS, one that it occurred through "natural transfer" of immunodeficiency virus from monkeys or chimpanzees to humans and the other that it occurred through iatrogenic transfer via contaminated polio vaccines used in Africa in the late 1950s. This meeting was the culmination of years of public contention over the polio-vaccine theory. Several dimensions of the politics of science are revealed by analysis of this issue, including the power of scientific editors, the use of the mass media, decisions about selection of speakers and organization of the meeting, and epistemological assumptions made by participants.