Michael Gibson’s Paper Belt on Fire: How Renegade Investors Sparked a Revolt Against the University is inextricably linked to my own interests: the university and its purpose. You might think that I will find it an easy book to review. However, I do not entirely agree with its idea of a radical reform of higher education modelled on the Protestant Reformation. Thus, this review will make a critical analysis of Gibson’s book. It is not made easier by Gibson’s own deep knowledge of the university. I should also state that I write from a UK, not a US perspective. However, as Gibson’s book is littered with biographical anecdotes, I will be presenting my own anecdotes from my time as a mature doctoral student in England to counter some of his arguments … [please read below the rest of the article].
Hewitt, Des. 2023. “A Match and Some Gasoline.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 12 (1): 61-69. https://wp.me/p1Bfg0-7y2.
🔹 The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers.
Paper Belt on Fire: How Renegade Investors Sparked a Revolt Against the University
Encounter Books, 2022
If all that sounds slightly high-falutin’ to the reader then I apologise, although the same could be said of Gibson’s deliberately provocative book. I say this because of his drawing the analogy between his thesis and the inflammatory, nay incendiary radical, firebrand Martin Luther’s actions in 1517: the nailing of his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg in 1517. Moreover, the notion that university degrees and diplomas are worthless pieces of paper, bought from those that corruptly administer higher education just as indulgences were from priests isn’t a new argument. Gibson’s invocation of 1517 as a metaphor, along with Steve Fuller’s very similar conceptualization might be new, but the deconstruction of a graduate’s experience and achievements over a three- or four-year course is something that I’ve overhead many times while eavesdropping on conversations on train journeys and in pubs.
The conversations I overheard were mostly between ‘techies’, ICT wizards and such like. The basic premise of these people’s arguments was that university taught young people little and there were kids sat in their bedrooms on their own writing computer code and these were who the tech industry needed; universities didn’t need to come into the equation. This in fact is Gibson’s argument put in very basic terms. There are autodidacts out there who don’t need university to succeed but need another route into industry and business.
To make this ‘sea-change’ (author’s emphasis) happen, Gibson, started a lucrative fellowship scheme, along with his friend and collaborator Peter Thiel, designed to help young people enter employment in the tech industry and in start-ups and other similar fields without the requirement of a paper degree. The only qualification being that the young person is not in education. This is a very simplistic interpretation of Gibson’s argument, and so I will of course develop his conceptualization on how we change university and society through a wider review of this incredibly fascinating and cheeky book. Indeed, throughout its sixteen chapters and coda, Gibson writes in an enthusiastic, excited manner. Indeed, far from trashing young people and their academic achievements, in the coda to his book Gibson puts the blame on the stifling environment of universities and the way they restrict the potential of young people, whom he clearly sees as caged birds in need of release to fly. As the title of one of Gibson’s chapters pleads: ‘Leave Them Kids Alone’ (chapter four, 43).
Excellence Lost in the Fog of Argument
I criticized Gibson in my introduction for trashing paper degrees because it is clearly an implication, intended or not, of his argument. So, while Gibson says he’s not a bomb-throwing anarchist and indeed, it’s not that he’s lobbed a Molotov Cocktail over the ramparts of the ‘Ivory Tower’ (author’s emphasis), his criticisms do sear a little, and there is a lingering whiff of gasoline in the air. One need only read the subtitle of his book to get a sense of the revolution that Gibson seems to intend from his work. Perhaps surprisingly to the reader, I do in fact agree with much of what Gibson has to say. I wouldn’t go as far to say as he does, that I have been to the inner sanctum of the temple only to find nothing there; however, I like many others have felt disillusioned by my experience of higher education—what is its point, what is its value, we ask ourselves, when we witness a production line awarding degrees to more and more students, some of whom seem to have little interest in the value of the arts and humanities or the social sciences.
I say this, despite the fact that my own PhD thesis argued that ‘excellence’ (education) the leitmotif of the university, is defined as eudaemonia, that is, our endless material, social and political development through education, and that this was alive and well in the university; under this definition of excellence, higher education is then, transformative. This is because I believe we have all at some time or another caught enough of a glimpse of the brilliance of excellence in our students and fellow academics in our careers to know the worth, or should I say, potential worth of higher education. Contrary to Gibson, I argue that degree certificates can be an accurate reflection of a person’s reputation, something Gibson seems particularly concerned with, and represent the experience as well as the academic record of a student. Indeed, Gibson himself acknowledges the completion of a degree signals something to an employer.
The trick I argued, along I must admit, along with many others past and present, that to reform the university would be to reappropriate higher education from the state’s obsession with solely economic concerns and turn the institution back toward its humanist mission which mirrors the technical, practical and emancipatory concerns of society, in the spirit of the Enlightenment project—the ‘dare to know’ sensibility which Gibson obviously shares. The omission of ideology in Gibson’s plan to circumvent the university is slightly puzzling, concerning even. Moreover, I am also concerned about those young people who are not autodidacts and enter a modern university (in the UK) instead of one of the ostensibly more highly regarded research-intensive elite institutions. I argued in my thesis that excellence encompassed, or rather, ought to be seen as encompassing these more vocational universities because of the evidence showing their contribution to research and teaching. I will return to this issue in due course. However, this is a review of Gibson’s ideas and perhaps a good place to start is with his beef over universities and indeed, how this all came about; a critical analysis of the ideological issues surrounding Gibson’s plan can wait till later.
And I Ran, I Ran so Far Away; I Ran All the Way to the Stars
Let’s start at the beginning. Gibson was originally in training to become an academic. He was at Oxford reading for a doctorate in Ancient and Moral Philosophy as a Rhodes Scholar but didn’t complete it. He dropped out, presumably disillusioned with academia and the failure to find that magical, divine centre at the heart of the ‘temple’ (author’s emphasis). Interestingly, Gibson’s book begins with two extracts juxtaposed presumably to present a message to the reader.
The first extract is from Arthur S. Eddington’s The Internal Constitution of the Stars. Eddington was an English astronomer, mathematician, and a philosopher of science and physicist who went to Cambridge and was a Fellow of the Royal Society. Eddington developed Einstein’s theory of relativity. He also very importantly, discovered the heat source created by nuclear fusion that heats the sun and the stars. Nuclear fusion is a technology that Gibson seems particularly concerned with towards the end of his book, and so I will return to this in due course.
The second extract is from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These are the extracts.
At first sight it would seem that the deep interior of the sun and stars is less accessible to scientific investigation than any other region of the universe. Our telescopes may probe farther and farther into the depths of space; but how can we ever obtain certain knowledge of that which is hidden behind substantial barriers? What appliance can pierce through the outer layers of a star and test the conditions within? —The Internal Constitution of the Stars, Arthur S. Eddington (1926).
But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and civilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before. —The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain (1884).
I get the sense Gibson is saying he didn’t want to be ‘civilized’ so ran from the university, at least this is my guess. However, I am confused as to why Gibson presents these two contradictory quotes because Eddington was a man of academia through and through, and his inclusion illustrates to us just how important the university has been to the development of science, technology and indeed, much of the progress in the world today. Gibson then begins his first chapter enthralling us with the tale of an encounter with Bill Gates and a conversation about how little development, progress in science and technology, and growth in America there was, how only existing knowledge was being spread to the four corners of the earth, and how the private sector needed a spark to get the things going; perhaps the spark needed to set the paper belt on fire and ignite entrepreneurship and ingenuity.
It’s interesting to note that Gibson doesn’t just conceptualize the universities of America as the paper belt but views the political economy of the Northeastern corner of the US from Washington D.C to Boston as comprising a wider more concerning corrupt ‘paper’ belt; from printed money to all manner of institutional documents as a form of fictional capital and representation of life. But are the universities really doing nothing but corruptly bolstering their incomes from tuition fees and endowments at the expense of a society full of passive dupes. And anyhow, is not the whole of America, indeed the world living a fiction through abstract concepts we accept are made material through ‘paper’?
Even the hard copies of the books we write and sell, as are the e-copies of the same, and existing in the digital ether are forms of reputational ‘paper’ accreditation, which I think I’m right in saying Gibson acknowledges. However, another interpretation of Gibson’s thesis might be that the Northeastern seaboard of the State’s has entered into a kind of stagnation, a stasis, and that the going along with the existing system is what stunts growth in the fields of science, technology and the economy. The question is, do we burn it all down or reignite the fire of progress?
Firstly, however, I want to address the notion that growth in science and technology is stagnant: there are no end of projects which continue the work of Eddington;, secondly, there is a well-established relationship between the university and the private sector in science and technology. Thirdly, there is a well-established argument that the ultimate democratisation of the ownership of science and technology will come to fruition through a partnership between public and private ventures (see Barnett in Hewitt 2021b). Indeed, one day it is conceivable we will return to the stars that Eddington studied with such reward to us now, especially given the precarious state of our planet. Thiel and Gibson’s venture capital projects are/could be one of many of these. I wonder then, if Gibson sees his escape from the ‘civilizing’ mission of the university as the catalyst that might bring about this revolution.
It may well be Gibson feels that creativity is stifled in the university; Gibson does argue, incidentally against the evidence, that there is no evidence that liberal arts degrees add anything to the development of the individual and by definition, society. Again, I remember those conversations I overheard about the pointlessness of a university degree. I remember my local golf pro, who had wasted a scholarship to a US university, speaking about higher education in derogatory terms: young people on politics courses didn’t even know who the Foreign Secretary was, and how could students gain any life experience in university when all they needed to do was work in the golf pro’s shop where ‘real life’ took place.
Who We are Matters
In pondering these views, it seems to me that a negative experience in higher education can produce negative views of the university. In fact, not going at all seems to be as destructive in terms of how we view the university. My final anecdote concerns a conversation I had when returning from a doctoral research interview I conducted with a vice-chancellor of a modern institutions in the outer reaches of London. I made the mistake of telling a fellow passenger at the bar in the train where I’d been and why, he then took it upon himself to launch a sustained two-hour attack on universities and my intelligence—he was, clearly, in his own mind, as intelligent, if not more intelligent than me for not being a part of the university. He told me he was dyslexic. I don’t think I’d been pompous at all, but my doctoral student identity had clearly touched a nerve.
The irony of his inverted snobbery was almost too much to bear: I had been to interview the vice-chancellor of modern university who was committed to widening participation in terms of the socioeconomic background and the ability of students but also ethnicity. Interestingly, Gibson’s solution to the differentiation in outcomes in American schools, and a fall in US productivity, is to set up ‘charter’ schools. These schools, however, seem to have been designed to cream of the best, most inventive and indeed, whacky students. Gibson discusses these in the chapter four (43) ‘Leave Them Kids Alone’ and chapter six (67) ‘Intelligence Redefined’. Without wanting to dismiss Gibson’s project out of hand, however the solution in the UK a few years ago to falling standards and productivity was to introduce more ‘rigorous’ final secondary school, pre-university exams. We have also had experiments with ‘academies’ specialising in for example, science and technology. It seems to me that how we view education depends very much on our own experience of it.
Indeed, in this sense, what can we make of Gibson’s enthralling anecdotes? From the biography Gibson presents in chapter one, it seems he fits the profile of the archetypal ‘insider-outsider’ he theorizes about. It is perhaps apposite at this juncture to remind ourselves that the university was once considered to be the refuge for those of us who felt they belonged in society or who society could not integrate—’civilize’; the university acted as an asylum (no pun intended). In any case, just before Gibson left Oxford, it seems he was headhunted by Peter Thiel and he applied unsuccessfully to become a CIA operative. He says in his book he did this in order to find out what had happened to his late father who did work for the Agency and who had passed away suddenly in mysterious circumstances. It seems Gibson’s collaboration with Thiel led to him becoming persona non grata at Oxford. However, Gibson is really quite disparaging about his time at Oxford—in particular, about his peers, Oxford alumni, Bill Clinton, media types, politicians, and the Rhodes Scholarship in general (26-27).
Gibson says he found the whole Rhodes Scholarship ‘insufferable’ (author’s emphasis) and in the early stages of devising the ‘anti-university’ (author’s emphasis) fellowship, toyed with the idea of calling it ‘the anti-Rhodes Scholarship.’ Gibson also attacks the imperialist aspects of the Rhodes mission, which he seems to suggest is still the foundation of the scholarship, if not Oxford more generally, and with more relevance to his overall project, the US Ivy League. Gibson echoes many of Steve Fuller’s (2020) arguments concerning the overturning, destruction of elites, our institutions, and of society more generally. This, to me at least, is what Gibson really means by the subtitle of his book: how renegade investors sparked a revolt against the university. In the coda to his book Gibson visits Greek philosophy, Aristotle and his concept/vision of the virtue of arete(317), the notion that in striving to be the best we can achieve eudaemonia through arete, the feeling of elation at reaching for the stars. Gibson then moves in his discussion from Aristotle to Epictetus to the Stoics.
Gibson thus seems focused on the idea of the self-preservation of one’s ‘inner-temple’ through a Stoicism based on heroic individual masochism. He talks of a Vietnam veteran and others dreadfully wounded by terrible events, situations beyond their control, or after minor indiscretions. Gibson says the Stoics moved away from Aristotle, but my understanding of eudaemonia is that this concept should be read in the context of that philosopher’s writing in the Ethics and Politics and that in this way individuals act as part of the collective in the polis as zoon politikon: the political animal. I must admit that I practice the philosophy of the positive power of negative thinking; however, I wonder, despite the need to catastrophize, whether this engenders less poor mental health and reliance on the antidepressants and ameliorate the suicide rate Gibson interestingly wants to tackle in US society., But what I think from reading this from Gibson, is that he has a deep, deep sense of the fragility of life (in every sense) and is determined to fix what he can while he’s alive (from his writing he also seems to have a survivor’s mentality about him). I am not sure therefore if Gibson sees the cult of Stoicism that he argues is rife in the US, is a good or bad thing. Presumably, given Stoic’s tendency to be indifferent to vicissitudes of social reality, their own and presumably that of others, it is the former. I do think this, and the way Gibson talks about his project illustrates his determined radical firebrand inclinations.
The Seas Still Dry?
Now we have thought about our psychological and philosophical stances (and I note Gibson used his academic philosophical training to make sense of the world), we can return to more material things, the question we perhaps need to ask, given Gibson’s determination to shatter the status quo, is what and who replaces the status quo, especially in this frenetic digital epoch in which the ownership of new technologies might not be democratic (Hewitt 2021a, 2021b), and under the post-truth condition (Fuller) who controls the technological discourse is also up for grabs. In thinking about the ideological implementations of Gibson’s project (which seem to be absent in Gibson’s writing), I just want to visit the idea of imperialism within universities from Gibson’s and Fuller’s perspectives. Fuller (2016), like Gibson, takes aim at the way students are constricted by the curriculum in the way students are taught to rehearse a small part of the corpus and present this in a plagiarised representation in their writing. Fuller also argues that research and funding in the so-called research-intensive universities are protected by a cabal of academics who receive most of the funding.
Thus, in mirroring Gibson, Fuller argues research projects in the discipline-bound university have limited horizons and the development of genuinely new scientific and technological breakthroughs are limited. Fuller’s answer to the academic rentiership in universities is to socialize relations. His answer to his and Gibson’s concerns over the stifling of students is to radically change how academics interact with them; Fuller argues for a less formal approach coupled with a university that constantly upgrades itself as Microsoft and Apple do with their products so as to keep pace with a rapidly changing social and economic environment.
In the coda to his book (259), Gibson lists areas of concern with regard to progress: for example, civilian supersonic with jet travel has been thwarted by laws, bureaucracy and a failure of imagination. In citing the ignominious end of Concorde as an example, Gibson’s writing reminds me of the song ‘Sleeping Satellite’ by Tasmin Archer the lyrics of which are: ‘Did we fly to the moon too soon … Why are the seas still dry … Sleeping Satellite … have we lost what it takes to advance, have we peaked too soon, sleeping satellite.’ For me these few words sum up Gibson’s frustration with the lack of progress with so many scientific and technological advances, not least with regard to climate change. I also get the sense of Gibson’s ‘dare to know’ sensibility in his writing in the coda.
The Solution: Gasoline, a Box of Matches. The Result: A Sonic Boom
Nevertheless, many breakthroughs in science and technology have happened recently, not least in nuclear fusion, and space travel. One thinks of Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and of course Elon Musk, whom Gibson mentions frequently. Supersonic civilian flight is practically a reality also, and perhaps of most note here, NASA’s Artemis mission to the Moon—we have returned, and perhaps one day we will return to where life began amongst the sun and the stars. Perhaps we can say that these developments are in fact a consequence of these entrepreneurs and projects like Gibson’s, as the private sector along with the state have seemingly, at least, dramatically increased our advances in these technologies, as in medicine; one thinks of gene therapy and, of course, vaccines. Indeed, perhaps we could also say that this is the happy consequence of pouring gasoline on to the fire of progress; after all, Gibson’s own venture capital fellowship project is now called ‘1517’.
If this is the conceptualization of a ‘paper belt’ on fire rather than the startling notion of a burning institution, then I’m on board with Gibson. However, I take issue with the idea that there is a need for an ‘Invisible College’ akin to that of the 17th century because diplomas and degrees are stifling, crushing unnecessary qualifications which are all about ‘subservience to power’ (262). Is Gibson really in fear of the university in the same way the original members of the Invisible College were in fear of the church? Gibson says there is still a place for the university but tongue in cheek (hopefully) also says child labour is good. Are we really saying we are in such dire straits with regard to discovery, invention etc., because universities haven’t allowed young people to fly free? And have we really not advanced towards a cure for cancer since President Nixon declared war on it?  Personally speaking, I feel that both the university and young people are being slighted., , ,  A quick Google search might prove it one way or another. As a final word, we might not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but now that Gibson has nailed his theses to the door of the university, there’s that unmistakable whiff of gasoline in the air.
Desmond Hewitt—firstname.lastname@example.org—completed his PhD in Sociology at the University of Warwick in 2014. While a doctoral student, he taught at Warwick and also at the University of Aston. His PhD was entitled, ‘Excellence in Critical Condition: The Current State of English Higher Education’. He conducted a critical discourse analysis of successive governments’ reviews into higher education, focusing on ‘excellence’, and what it means to those in higher education who administer the university. Tracing excellence back to Aristotle and the concept of eudaemonia—not simply defined as ‘happiness’ or even ‘flourishing’, but as our desire to fly above the clouds. The thesis argued that the Enlightenment notion of endless development was alive and well in higher education—perhaps ‘transhumanism’ without calling it so. https://www.des.gen.in/.
Fuller, Steve. 2020. A Player’s Guide to the Post-Truth Condition: The Name of the Game. New York. London: Anthem Press.
Fuller, Steve. 2016. Academic Caesar: University Leadership Is Hard. London: Sage.
Hewitt, Des. 2021a. “Enhancing Human Existence: Mercer and Trothen’s Religion and the Technological Future.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 10 (8): 48-54.
Hewitt, Des. 2021b. “Towards a Knowledge Socialism: A Digital Sedition.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective. 10 (10): 22-30.
 https://theconversation.com/the-university-must-be-the-site-of-the-next-reformation-heres-why-86255. I will discuss Steve Fuller’s take on 1517 and refer to some of his many publications on higher education in due course, particular Academic Caesar(2016), in which Fuller critiques the knowledge protection and academic rentiership of the research-intensive universities in England.
 Readers can access Gibson’s central ideas in this podcast although I urge them to read Paper Belt on Fire for themselves: https://www.spreaker.com/user/10614200/paper-belt-on-fire-michael-gibson-on-the
 In the UK it has become the norm to go on to university after sixth form, or high school as it’s more commonly known.
 In fact in contradiction to Gibson’s argument that liberal arts degrees have little value, it is argued people who have been to university are much more likely to be politically active, moreover that critical thinking skills are invaluable in solving the technological and scientific problems we face and which Gibson is concerned with. See book’s coda. In contradiction to my point, students often surprise at the end of their degrees by their vocal support for university.
 Coincidentally, Gibson also embraces eudaemonia, although I feel we have slightly different interpretations of this virtue which I will discuss in due course.
 Please see this video to hear Gibson expressing this view: https://youtu.be/fShpu9SMNGc.
 Gibson says he is concerned about the overall value of education in the US and references the low literacy rate, citing the significantly high percentage of adults in California who are ‘functionally illiterate’. The concern is of course that focusing fellowships on so-called autodidacts will only worsen this without a major intervention in the general education system. Interestingly, Gibson also questions just how much we remember from our studies, thereby again questioning the value of learning at all I would argue.
 Please see this article which discusses Eddington’s view of how science is much more than an intellectual goal, but as a way of advancing humanity: https://physicsworld.com/a/explorer-of-stars-and-souls-arthur-stanley-eddington/.
 Gibson talks copiously about ‘ growth’, citing work by Tyler Cowen’s The Great Stagnation and The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert Gordon.
 Indeed our book reviews can be said to be the same.
 Please see these links which I argue all begin with research in or with the university: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-63836496. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-63859184.
 https://youtu.be/1bOAg1ToDcY. As I write this review from the beaches of South Goa, I am reminded by discussion of Eddington of this song, ‘Stars’ by Mark Owen, especially by the lyrics ‘Cause we’re just stars trying to get back to where we’re from, one by one we’re going to leave this planet …’: as beautiful as Goa is, and mostly sunny and incredibly hot, there is often haze caused by the burning of rubbish and vehicle emissions, and unlike our visit in 2019, there is a clear change in the climate in general; according to long-time visitors from England this is the first time in 30 years it’s rained during the month of December.
 I have also heard these conversations from people who have not been to university and seem to feel it necessary to justify this by championing a non- academic credential.
 Fortunately, I was able to end this conversation, during which I remained mostly silent, by putting in my earphones and listening to ‘Instant Karma’ by John Lennon: https://youtu.be/xLy2SaSQAtA.
 It is argued education and its alleged failings are used as the perennial scapegoat, usually by the right of politics, for the cyclical economic crises of the global economy.
 Gibson argues arete, eudaemonia is a state of mind, not an award, medal, and thus presumably, not a degree award.
 See pages 316-7 in which Gibson discusses James Stockdale, an American pilot captured by the North Vietnamese. Again, Gibson introduces philosophy by telling us how this prisoner used the cerebral writings of Epictetus to maintain his sanity (presumably) and survive which of course suggests the liberal arts are of some use, in or outside the university. I also think I’m correct in saying Gibson states that Stockdale had been heading for a desk at the Pentagon. All this puts me in mind of Plato’s Philosopher Kings.
 Elon Musk, now former CEO of Twitter seemingly intended to stop help for suicide prevention. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/dec/23/elon-musk-orders-twitter-to-remove-suicide-prevention-feature.
 In fact it seems from Gibson’s writing on various tragedies concerning individuals that he sees the relationship individuals form with others in the community as their savings grace. He cites Durkheim’s theory of suicide (331).
 Gibson references Stephen Westaby, the fine UK cardiac surgeon who he says in his book reminded him of the fragility of life. Coincidentally, my own step-daughter was operated in by Westaby and his team when she was very young. The coincidences of Gibson’s thoughts and experiences with my own are really quite striking; although I fear we are poles apart on many of the substantive issues he writes of.
 I am perhaps being particularly harsh here although I do feel simply grinning and bearing it is not necessarily the right approach, hence my reference to masochism earlier, and the notion of a proactive zoonpolitikon.
 https://youtu.be/XxSdTGAcJWs. ‘Sleeping Satellite’ by Tasmin Archer.
 It seems Elon musk is acceptable to Gibson, unlike many of his contemporaries at Oxford, and the ‘corrupt’ media types of the paper belt; slightly counterintuitively, in his book, Gibson references his best friend during his time at Oxford as a ‘Marxist’. I do wonder, as I discussed above earlier, what and who would replace the status quo in a new Reformation.
 See this link for the future possibilities of extracting water and living on the moon: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/dec/26/moon-rivers-uk-scientists-at-heart-of-mission-to-extract-water-from-lunar-rock.
 Of course scientific and technological progress is completely different to ‘growth’, American Growth specifically.
 See this example of cancer research from the university: https://news.stanford.edu/2022/10/03/breakthrough-production-acclaimed-cancer-treating-drug/
 Are we really saying young people are unable to use their own resources in university and excel in spite of the suffocating credentialism?
 https://youtube.com/playlist?list=RDK_G_R_1gMfc&playnext=1 ‘For the Love of Richard Nixon’ by The Manic Street Preachers. This song really sums up Gibson’s sentiments in a way that makes a direct reference to Nixon’s war on cancer.
 Another example of cancer research, cures, from the university and private sector: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/dec/25/aptamer-york-biotech-cancer-treatments.
 I remember my time at Warwick, hearing of the amazing innovative ideas that came from students at the former Warwick Manufacturing Group, students who, when no one else thought of it, modified play stations to help disabled children etc, the list is endless. https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/about/.
Categories: Books and Book Reviews
Re “have we really not advanced towards a cure for cancer since President Nixon declared war on it?”
Most people would be much smarter and better informed if they had awareness of what the “war on cancer” movement (and the “Breast Cancer Awareness” movement) does NOT raise awareness about.
The official mainstream “war on cancer” has been an unofficial “war” on the unsuspecting public: to keep them misinformed and misguided about the real truth of this “war.” The latest program/”promise” is an extension or reincarnation of the enduring deep racket.
This PHONY official “war” was never meant to be won but to be CONTINUED (preferably endlessly, at least for decades) so that the criminal BIG allopathic medical business (the medical mafia) built around them make insane profits and defraud the general naive/stupid public, which they’ve been doing successfully … so “THEY ARE winning THEIR war against the general forever-naive/forever-stupid public”..
The orthodox cancer establishment has been saying a cure for cancer “is just around the corner” and “we’re winning the war on cancer” for decades. It’s all hype and lies (read Dr. Guy Faguet’s ‘War on cancer,” Dr. Sam Epstein’s work, or Clifton Leaf’s book, or Dr. Siefried’s work on this bogus ‘war’, etc). The criminal medical establishment deliberate and falsely self-servingly claims and distorts a ‘win’ in the bogus ‘war on cancer’ when the only truly notably win is a reduction in lung cancer due to a huge reduction in smoking, which has NOTHING to do with their cancer treatments. Lying is their mode of operation.
Since the war on cancer began orthodox medicine hasn’t progressed in their basic highly profitable therapies: it still uses primarily and almost exclusively highly toxic, deadly things like radiation, chemo, surgery, and drugs that have killed millions of people instead of the disease.
As long as the official “war on cancer” is a HUGE BUSINESS based on expensive TREATMENTS (INTERVENTIONS) of a disease instead of its PREVENTION, logically, they will never find a cure for cancer. The moonshot-war on cancer inventions, too, includes industry-profitable gene therapies of cancer treatment that are right in line with the erroneous working model of mechanistic reductionism of allopathic medicine.
The lucrative game of the medical business is to endlessly “look for” a cure but not “find” a cure. Practically all resources in the phony ‘war on cancer’ are poured into TREATMENT of cancer but almost none in the PREVENTION of the disease. Eg, Heidi Williams, the director of science policy at the Institute for Progress, explained that from the time the “War on Cancer” was announced, in 1971, until 2015, only six drugs were approved to prevent any cancer. From 1973 to 2011, nearly 30,000 trials were run for drugs that treated recurrent or metastatic cancer, compared with fewer than 600 for cancer prevention.
It’s IRREFUTABLE PROOF POSITIVE that BIG MONEY and a TOTAL LACK OF ETHICS rule the official medical establishment.
It’s just like with any bogus official “war” (‘war on drugs’, ‘war on terrorism’, ‘war on covid’ etc) — it’s not about winning these wars but to primarily prolong them because behind any of these fraudulent “war” rackets of the criminal establishment is a Big Business, such as the massive cancer industry. The very profitable TREATMENT focus of conventional medicine, instead of a PREVENTION focus which these official medical quacks (or rather crooks) can hardly make any money off, is a major reason why today 1 of 2 men and 1 in 3 women can expect a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetimes yet that rate was multiple times lower 5 decades ago when the phony ‘war on cancer’ began (1 in about 16). And 5 decades ago when this bogus war began cancer was the second leading cause of death and 50 years later it is STILL the second leading cause of death in the country this “war” was declared in. These facts alone prove we are NOT winning the war on cancer.
At the same time, this same orthodox cancer cartel has been suppressing and squashing a number of very effective and beneficial alternative cancer approaches. You probably guessed why: effective, safe, inexpensive cancer therapies are cutting into the astronomical profits of the medical mafia’s lucrative treatments. That longstanding decadent activity is part of the fraud of the war on cancer.
If the public were to scrutinize what the medical industry and its government pawns are telling them about the ‘war on cancer’ instead of blindly believing what they’re saying, they’d find that the cancer industry and the cancer charities have been dismissing, ignoring, and obfuscating the true causes of cancer while mostly putting the blame for cancer on the individual, denying or dismissing the serious harms from orthodox cancer treatments and chemical toxicants, and resorting to deceptive cancer statistics to “educate” (think: mislead) the public that their way of treatment is actually successful — read this well referenced scholarly article’s (“A Mammogram Letter The British Medical Journal Censored”) afterword on the war on cancer at https://www.rolf-hefti.com/mammogram.html (scroll down to the afterword that addresses the fraudulent ‘war on cancer’).
What the medical establishment “informs” the public about is about as truthful as what the political establishment keeps telling them. Not to forget, the corporate media (the mainstream fake news media) is a willing tool to spread these distortions, lies, and the scam of the war on cancer.
Does anyone really think it’s a coincidence that double Nobel laureate Linus Pauling called the ‘war on cancer’ a fraud? If you look closer you’ll come to the same conclusion. But…politics and self-serving interests of the conventional medical cartel, and their allied corporate media, keep the real truth far away from the public at large. Or people’s own denial or indifference of the real truth.