Tom Bethell

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Tom Bethell
BornJuly 17, 1936
DiedFebruary 12, 2021(2021-02-12) (aged 84)
OccupationJournalist, writer

Tom Bethell ( /bəˈθɛl/ ; July 17, 1936 February 12, 2021) [1] was an American journalist who wrote mainly on economic and scientific issues.


Life and career

Bethell was born and raised in London, [2] England. He was educated at Downside School and Trinity College, Oxford. A resident of the District of Columbia, he lived in Virginia, Louisiana, and California. From 1962 to 1965 he taught math at Woodberry Forest School, Virginia. He was married to Donna R. Fitzpatrick of Washington, D.C. [3] [4] [5] He was a senior editor of The American Spectator and was for 25 years a media fellow of the Hoover Institution. He was Washington editor of Harper's , and an editor of the Washington Monthly . [6]

In 1980, he received a Gerald Loeb Award Honorable Mention for Columns/Editorial for "Fooling With the Budget." [7] [8] [9]

Jim Garrison investigation

Bethell was hired as a researcher by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison to assist with his prosecution of Clay Shaw for conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy. [10] Bethell gave no credence to Garrison's charges that Shaw was involved. [11] Shaw was acquitted after the jury deliberated for about an hour.


In 1976, Bethell wrote a controversial article for Harper’s Magazine titled "Darwin's Mistake". According to Bethell there is no independent criterion of fitness and natural selection is a tautology. [12] Bethell also stated that Darwin's theory was on "the verge of collapse" and natural selection had been "quietly abandoned" by his supporters. [13] These claims were disputed by biologists. [12] [13] The paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote a rebuttal to Bethell's arguments. [13]

Bethell was a member of the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis, [14] which denies that HIV causes AIDS. In The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science (2005), he promoted denial of the existence of man-made global warming, AIDS denialism, and denial of evolution (which Bethell denied was "real science"), [15] promoting intelligent design instead. [16] Bethell endorsed the intelligent design documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed . [17]

Bethell died from complications of Parkinson's disease at his home in Washington, D.C. in February 2021, aged 84. [18]

Selected publications



Book contributions

Related Research Articles

The Duesberg hypothesis is the claim, associated with University of California, Berkeley professor Peter Duesberg, that various noninfectious factors such as but not limited to, recreational and pharmaceutical drug use are the cause of AIDS, and that HIV is merely a harmless passenger virus. The scientific consensus is that the Duesberg hypothesis is incorrect and that HIV is the cause of AIDS. The most prominent supporters of this hypothesis are Duesberg himself, biochemist vitamin proponent David Rasnick, and journalist Celia Farber. The scientific community contends that Duesberg's arguments are the result of cherry-picking predominantly outdated scientific data and selectively ignoring evidence in favor of HIV's role in AIDS.

Eric Hoffer American moral and social philosopher (1902–1983)

Eric Hoffer was an American moral and social philosopher. He was the author of ten books and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 1983. His first book, The True Believer (1951), was widely recognized as a classic, receiving critical acclaim from both scholars and laymen, although Hoffer believed that The Ordeal of Change (1963) was his finest work. The Eric Hoffer Book Award is an international literary prize established in his honor. Berkeley College awards an annual literary prize named jointly for Hoffer.

Peter Duesberg German American molecular biologist (born 1936)

Peter H. Duesberg is a German American molecular biologist and a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is known for his early research into the genetic aspects of cancer. He is a proponent of AIDS denialism, the debunked claim that HIV does not cause AIDS.

Phillip E. Johnson was a UC Berkeley law professor, opponent of evolutionary science, co-founder of the pseudoscientific intelligent design movement, author of the "Wedge strategy" and co-founder of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture (CSC). He described himself as "in a sense the father of the intelligent design movement". He was a critic of Darwinism, which he described as "fully naturalistic evolution, involving chance mechanisms and natural selection". The wedge strategy aims to change public opinion and scientific consensus, and seeks to convince the scientific community to allow a role for theism, or causes beyond naturalistic explanation, in scientific discourse. Johnson argued that scientists accepted the theory of evolution "before it was rigorously tested, and thereafter used all their authority to convince the public that naturalistic processes are sufficient to produce a human from a bacterium, and a bacterium from a mix of chemicals."

Lew Rockwell American libertarian author, editor, and political consultant (born 1944)

Llewellyn Harrison Rockwell Jr. is an American author, editor, and political consultant. A libertarian and a self-professed anarcho-capitalist, he founded and is the chairman of the Mises Institute, a non-profit dedicated to promoting the Austrian School of economics.

HIV/AIDS denialism False belief that HIV does not cause AIDS

HIV/AIDS denialism is the belief that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) does not cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), despite conclusive evidence to the contrary. Some of its proponents reject the existence of HIV, while others accept that HIV exists but argue that it is a harmless passenger virus and not the cause of AIDS. Insofar as they acknowledge AIDS as a real disease, they attribute it to some combination of sexual behavior, recreational drugs, malnutrition, poor sanitation, haemophilia, or the effects of the medications used to treat HIV infection (antiretrovirals).

John Gould English ornithologist (1804–1881)

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Frot Penis-to-penis sexual contact

Frot or frotting is a non-penetrative form of male-to-male sexual activity that usually involves direct penis-to-penis contact. The term was popularized by gay men activists who disparaged the practice of anal sex, but has since evolved to encompass a variety of preferences for the act, which may or may not imply particular attitudes towards other sexual activities.

John Corrigan "Jonathan" Wells is an American author, theologian, and advocate of the pseudoscientific argument of intelligent design. Wells joined the Unification Church in 1974, and subsequently wrote that the teachings of church founder Sun Myung Moon, his own studies at the Unification Theological Seminary and his prayers convinced him to devote his life to "destroying Darwinism." The term Darwinism is often used by intelligent design proponents and other creationists to refer to the scientific consensus on evolution. He gained a PhD in religious studies at Yale University in 1986, then became Director of the Unification Church's inter-religious outreach organization in New York City. In 1989, he studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a PhD in molecular and cellular biology in 1994. He became a member of several scientific associations and has published in academic journals.

Arnold Beichman was an author, scholar, and a critic of communism. At the time of his death, he was a Hoover Institution research fellow and a columnist for The Washington Times.

Mark Arnold Wainberg, was a Canadian HIV/AIDS researcher and HIV/AIDS activist. He was the Director of the McGill University AIDS Centre at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital and Professor of Medicine and of Microbiology at McGill University. His laboratory primarily studies HIV reverse transcriptase, the molecular basis for drug resistance, and gene therapy. He received a B.Sc. from McGill University in 1966, a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1972, and did his post-doctoral research at Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University.

Harvey Bialy was an American molecular biologist and AIDS denialist. He was one of the signatories to a letter to the editor by the "Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis", which denied that HIV was the cause of AIDS, and was a member of the controversial and heavily criticized South African Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel convened by Thabo Mbeki in 2000. Bialy authored a scientific biography of Peter Duesberg, a fellow AIDS denialist, in 2004.

Gary Null American talk radio host and author who advocates for alternative medicine

Gary Michael Null is an American talk radio host and author who advocates pseudoscientific alternative medicine and produces a line of questionable dietary supplements.

Celia Ingrid Farber is an American print journalist and author who has covered a range of topics for magazines including Spin, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper's, Interview, Salon, Gear, New York Press, Media Post, The New York Post and Sunday Herald, and has been particularly noted for her beliefs about HIV and AIDS, and a 1998 report on O. J. Simpson's post-trial life. Farber is the daughter of radio talk pioneer Barry Farber and a graduate of New York University.

<i>The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science</i> 2005 book by Tom Bethell

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science is a 2005 book by conservative journalist Tom Bethell, in which the author makes questionable and highly politicized claims on subjects such as HIV/AIDS, intelligent design, and the relationship between science and Christianity. It was published by Regnery Publishing.

F. A. Harper American economist (1905–1973)

Floyd Arthur "Baldy" Harper was an American academic, economist and writer who was best known for founding the Institute for Humane Studies in 1961.

<i>Inventing the AIDS Virus</i> 1996 book by Peter Duesberg

Inventing the AIDS Virus is a 1996 book by molecular biologist Peter Duesberg, in which the author argues that HIV does not cause AIDS. Duesberg contends that HIV is a harmless passenger virus and that AIDS is caused by unrelated factors such as drug abuse, antiretroviral medication, chronic malnutrition, poor sanitation, and hemophilia. The unambiguous scientific consensus is that HIV causes AIDS and that Duesberg's claims are incorrect. Duesberg received a negative response from the scientific community for supporting AIDS denialism, misrepresenting and ignoring the scientific evidence that HIV causes AIDS, and for relying upon poor logic and manipulation. The book was also the subject of an authorship dispute with one of his graduate students.

Robert Gould Shaw II

Robert Gould Shaw II was a wealthy landowner, international polo player of the Myopia Hunt Club and socialite of the leisure class in the greater Boston area of Massachusetts. He was one of the prominent figures of the boom years at the turn of the century, sometimes called the Gilded Age.

In South Africa, HIV/AIDS denialism had a significant impact on public health policy from 1999 to 2008, during the presidency of Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki criticized the scientific consensus that HIV does cause AIDS beginning shortly after his election to the presidency. In 2000, he organized a Presidential Advisory Panel regarding HIV/AIDS including several scientists who denied that HIV caused AIDS.

The Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism is given annually for multiple categories of business reporting. The category "Editorials" was awarded in 1970–1972, "Columns/Editorial" in 1974–1976, "Columns" in 1977, "Columns/Editorial" again in 1978–1982, "Editorial/Commentary" in 1983–1984, and "Commentary" in 1985 onwards.


  1. "Remembering Tom Bethell: Wordsmith of Courage and Controversy" Archived February 14, 2021, at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  2. See: Jerry P. Shinley Archive: Thomas Bethell: Biographical Sketch from CA
  3. Trinity College, Oxford – missing members Archived 2008-04-21 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Tom Bethell explains why property matters
  5. Tom Bethell, Beliefnet Columnist Accessed July 20, 2008
  6. Biography at Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc.
  7. "2 California Papers Lead Loeb Awards". The Washington Post . May 30, 1980. p. D3.
  8. "Loeb Award winners 1958–1996". Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing . April 2013. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  9. "Historical Winners List". UCLA Anderson School of Management . Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  10. Tom Bethell, "Reality Check for Another Movie Myth," Los Angeles Times, December 1, 1991.
  11. Tom Bethell, "Was Sirhan Sirhan on the Grassy Knoll?", The Washington Monthly, March 1975.
  12. 1 2 Ruse, Michael. Philosophy of Biology. Prometheus Books, 2007, p. 22, 133-141. ISBN   978-1591025276.
  13. 1 2 3 Gould, Stephen Jay. "Darwin’s Untimely Burial." Natural History, Vol. 85, 1976, pp. 24-30. Republished in Gould, Stephen Jay. Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History. W. W. Norton & Company, 2007, pp. 39-45. ISBN   978-0393340419.
  14. AIDS proposal. Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis.
  15. Bethell, Tom."Don’t Fear the Designer." National Review .
  16. Bethell, Tom. "Banned in Biology." Washington Times , December 25, 2005. Archived from the original.
  17. Branch, Glenn. "Expelled and the Reviewers." National Center for Science Education , Vol. 28, Nos. 5-6, 2008, pp. 24–25.
  18. "Tom Bethell". Retrieved July 13, 2021.