Monday, 21 September 2009

Was I conned by AIDS-denialists?

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I'm trying to figure out if I have fallen victim to a con. I'd love to hear what you think (so feel free to post) once you've heard my side.

It goes like this. Yesterday I chaired a panel discussion at the Cambridge Film Festival called “Science on Screen: Darwin, Denial and Documentary”. The idea was to gather together science-themed films from the festival in a discussion about how (well) science is depicted in documentary and fiction films. The films under discussion were the Darwin-denial film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, an exploration of belief called The Nature of Existence, the Darwin biopic Creation and, most important for this discussion, a film called House of Numbers a documentary about AIDS.

So in preparation I watched all four films last week. On Thursday I was a guest on the Guardian Science Podcast, where I discussed some of the films, as a part of the issue of how we decide who to engage in constructive dialogue, and who are the nutters that are best avoided. You should listen to it so you can follow what comes next. The issue is what I said about House of Numbers - as you will hear I said that it was a film that raised important questions, that I didn't consider it a denial film, and that after watching it I felt I was armed with a greater understanding of issues pertaining to AIDS and HIV and that it had persuaded me to find out more.

Now I have found out more, and the questions that people are asking, and I'm asking myself is: was I conned into taking the film seriously as an insight into a scientific controversy rather than a shoddy, ideologically driven and utterly unscientific piece of AIDs-denial propaganda. I'm asking this both because of what I have found out myself since I did the podcast, and because – I have been lead to understand –there are others out there, including Mr Bad Science himself Ben Goldacre, who not only take the latter position on the film but having heard me on the podcast, think I've let the rationalist side down.

So what have I learned since Thursday?

The first thing that happened when I arrived in Cambridge was that one of the festival organisers told me that he thought the film was a clear example of "AIDs-denial" (we'll get to what that is in a minute), that the festival was going to reject the film but then decided to include it as long as there was discussion about it, that the local hospital had requested that the film not be shown since it misrepresented the science and could, if believed, endanger lives, and that Ben Goldacre himself had similarly argued that the film should not be shown at the festival.

Then I met Brent Leung (that's him in the picture, me in the glasses), the director/presenter of the film, who I was asked to add to the panel. We sat round with the other panellists and discussed some of the issues arising from the film. Then we did the panel discussion, during which time I got a chance to hear Leung defend his film, hear the other panellists (historian Louise Foxcroft and Leonor Sierra from Sense about Science) criticise it in various ways, and members of the audience have their say. I have spent today reading up on the controversy that surrounded the screening of House of Numbers in the US and Googling the experts Leung talked to in the film, in order to try to figure out if the film does indeed count as a credible expose on the heretofore hidden controversy about AIDs numbers, the relationship (if any) between AIDs and HIV and the effectiveness of treatment.

I'm still trying to marshal my thoughts around this issue - some of which are contradictory - so this might not be very coherent but here's the current state of my thinking on the subject, for what it's worth, with a random selection of mitigating factors, new insights, mea culpa(s) and restatements.

First up the podcast. I wish I had been able to raise, alongside what I said, all the reservations I had about the film - in terms of its structure, the sense that it was not reliable or had somehow stacked the decks - as I ended up giving it a kind of endorsement. That was not my intention. Partly this was a consequence of the fact I was comparing it to Expelled, which is such a ludicrous cack-handed piece of propaganda which does not even attempt to discuss actual science. House of Numbers couldn't hep but look better by comparison. But also it is true that the effect of House of Numbers on me was to raise an issue I had not thought much about, in such a way as to provoke a desire to know more.

Its critics argue that the film makes a clear case that HIV doesn't exist, that ART (anti-retroviral treatment) does more harm than good, and that it is poverty that causes AIDS. But I didn't, and don't, think that this is the only conclusion the viewer can reach - perhaps this is because the film is not a particularly effective or well-made piece of propaganda - and I appreciated it for raising these questions (even if they are, as appears the case, not genuine scientific questions or questions which have long-ago been settled in the scientific community). I also liked the way in which the film presented science as a conflicted area, where scientists do not agree with each other, and researchers become wedded to particular perspectives out of a sense of proprietorship, or for reasons of funding or reputation. This is, of course, true (as Dawkins said yesterday) of science as of any other specialist field with money and prestige attached to it. (I am reconsidering this now, see below).

Beyond that I liked the film because it was going to provide a very good case study, alongside Expelled, for a debate about the acceptable limits of questioning scientific orthodoxy, whether we should engage 'denialists', outsiders, cranks etc in discussion or ignore them (might one of them be, as they claim, a new Galileo?), and how we decide who is to be listened to and who ostracised (i.e. I 'liked' the film because it was going to be useful to me).

So what did the panel teach me?

First up, Brent. He is young and confident and just like his film he talks the talk about being 'objective' and dedicated to free speech and having merely stumbled upon a controversy, and wanting people to make up their own mind because lives are at stake and we are not being told the truth, while at the same time leading one to think there is probably a bit more to it than that, and you’d certainly like to find out more. In the debate he held his own, but was very punchy (perhaps the legacy of the vociferous debates he has had in America, but also suggesting an awareness he would be strongly criticised) and fairly unsophisticated. He baulked at a very gentle suggestion that perhaps a more thorough grounding in the philosophy and history of medicine might have deepened his understanding of the subject, and hotly argues that he gave equal screen time to both ‘sides’ of the arguments. He said that even if you removed the interviews with the more controversial figures in the film, what the mainstream scientists said would still lead us to think that AIDS drugs might be doing more harm than good, that the link between HIV and AIDS was not clearly established and that healthy people were bring misdiagnosed.

It was during these exchanges that it dawned on me that what I had at first appreciated about the film – that it throws some light on the fact that science is always partial, riven with contradictions, gets things wrong etc – was in fact somewhat bleeding obvious. The great shocking conspiracy Brent thinks he has uncovered and is waking the world up to could look, from another perspective, like a not very original insight, or even a very dangerous one if shackled to an unconvincing argument about the alternatives (what do the denialists propose?).

Originally I was more sanguine about the film than about Expelled, because Ben Stein’s film is a clear piece of propaganda with the clear ideological aim of undermining the audience’s confidence in evolution and making the case for allowing the teaching of ID in classrooms. It is at first blush much harder to find a clear ideological message, or aim, in House of Numbers. During the discussion I asked Brent several times what he was trying to achieve with the film – what his aim was. His platitudes about informed consent and trying to help the search for a system of testing that makes no mistakes at all sounded naive and unconvincing. But (and I still think this for now) whether it is because the film is not actually very well put together, or because it really wasn’t made, at least initially, strictly as propaganda, I still think it poses questions that encourage the audience to think and seek out more information. If they do that, as I have done, they quite quickly find plenty of evidence to contradict the AIDS-denial claims that critics of the film argue it is supporting. Incidentally, although the panellists were critical of the film for several reasons – including its faux naive Candide-esque narration, its wide-eyed incredulity at the fact that science isn’t right all the time, and its lack of historical and social context – neither Louise nor Leonor felt the film should not have been shown, and believe, I think, that the discussion it triggered was a productive one.

However, if you judge films and film-makers by the company they keep then there was clearly something else going on. Scattered amongst the audience were people who were clearly there because they felt that House of Numbers was a profound film, revealing a scandal at the heart of the AIDS industry which Brent has bravely exposed. One of these people held the floor for a few minutes in a rant which suggested that science is completely flawed, peer review is ineffective, and doctors prescribing ART are practising a form of genocide. There are more of those kinds of people here , and I must say when you hear this kind of swivel-eyed irrationalism from the supporters of the film you have wonder what it is really trying to say.

What I did not know until I read about it here, was the existence of a vociferous AIDS-denial faction in the US, who have rallied around House of Numbers (if not actually funded it – Leung is very reticent about the sources of his funding) and have been waging a campaign in the US to discredit the use of ART, cast doubt on the notion that HIV cases AIDS, and argue that they have been censored. Confusingly, AIDS-denialism does not deny the existence of AIDS per se, but denies that it is the HIV virus that causes AIDS (and also therefore that the way to treat Aids is to treat HIV). One such group is Rethinking Aids, who, according to the Bay Window article cited above, have taken to describing House of Numbers as ‘our film’. And this is hardly surprising, since if you peruse their website you can find a list of supporters that features many of the denialist experts featured in House of Numbers. Looked at in the light of this, House of Numbers actually looks a lot more like Expelled than at first sight – an insidious interweaving of interviews with ‘the establishment’ that makes their position look arrogant or incoherent (or is edited so as to make them appear to agree with the film's thesis) and interviews with ‘expert witnesses’ who turn out to all be representatives of one view (if not organisation) and whose expertise is questionable if not non-existent.

So, where does this leave us, I mean me?

Well, as I said, I regret sounding so upbeat about House of Numbers on the Guardian podcast, and in particular saying it wasn’t a denial film. On the other hand, I stick to what I said about the way in which it opened up a whole lot of interesting questions. It did. Even if the questions it posed about AIDS and HIV, funding, testing etc… are in fact pseudo-questions, in the sense that there is actually no real scientific credibility to them, they were new to me and having seen the film and done the research I know more about this issue than I did before, and I also now know about AIDS-denial. Beyond that the film does an even better job, not consciously and not in what happens on the screen but in relation to itself as a media object, of bringing to the surface a whole set of issues about free speech – how we legitimate challenges to scientific orthodoxy, who gets a place at the debating table – that are of absolute centrality to what we do. I can’t say, therefore, that I’d prefer it didn’t exist, or should be suppressed.

Another series of questions has been kicked up around the phenomena of AIDS-denialism itself. What is it? What are their aims? Who funds it? At the moment I feel a bit like I did when I first came across Adnan Oktar (so we went and found out LINK). I want to know more about Brent Leung, more about the people who support him, more about the logic of AIDS-denial. Is it fuelled by religious fervour (it is as hysterical as the pro-lifers?), by homophobia, by those who have been diagnosed with HIV who ardently wish to believe they are not going to die? (As suggested by this brilliant quote: “What mattered to me as person living with HIV was to be told that HIV did not cause AIDS. That was nice. Of course, it was like printing money when the economy is not doing well. Or pissing in your pants when the weather is too cold. Comforting for a while but disastrous in the long run.” Winstone Zulu, Zambian AIDS Activist and former denialist. From here)

The best thing I’ve come across so far is this excellent New Scientist piece by Jonny Steinberg (see our review of his book about Aids) which not only summarises the deluded AIDS-denial case but outs several of Brent Lueng’s informants: Christine Maggiore, whose AIDS denial Steinberg argues contributed to the death of her daughter, and her own death in December 2008 (something that is not mentioned in the film), and Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos from the ‘Perth Institute’, who feels able to appear in court and claim that HIV doesn’t exist on the basis of her scientific qualifications that amount to an undergraduate degree in nuclear physics.

One of the big problems about debates around AIDS is that, as Louise Foxcroft noted to me, there is a tendency to answer arguments you don’t agree by ‘lobbing dead babies’. Both sides claim to be saving lives with what they are saying, and imply the opposing view are wasting them. That said I must say that I feel chastened by the statistic provided by Steinberg that Thabo Mbeki's adoption of the denialist argument and consequent antipathy to allowing ART in South Africa has reliably been estimated to have resulted in 365,000 premature deaths in that country. Though the arguments about scientific orthodoxy and the limits of free speech are interesting and valid, those issues do somewhat pale in comparison with such a number.

So, for the record, I now think that House of Numbers is a poor piece of work. As science it is hopeless, and hopelessly compromised by its (mis)use of ‘experts’ and misrepresentations of the debate (fourteen of the scientifically credible interviewees have signed a letter claiming that they were mislead or misrepresented by the film) as well as more generally by its lack of depth, context and style. It is an AIDS-denial film, in that it is entirely congruent with, and draws on the argument and resources of, the AIDS-denial movement (however much the film's director and producer dispute this). This does not mean that everything it says is wrong, or that AIDS treatment is perfect or could not be improved. I’m still glad I saw it and would defend the right of everyone else too, but I think it deserves and should be met by a vigorous response from those who know the area well.

Meanwhile, I’m going to get Seth Kalichman’s book Denying AIDs to make sure that I don’t make the same mistake again. Oh yeah and Ben, next time I'll make sure to read your columns every week. D'oh.

So there’s the story. Please do post a comment if you feel moved to. .

82 comments:

TD said...

Good piece, and I think your experience is informative. Leung also conned his interviewees (well, the non-denialist ones anyway). If you Google Brent Leung's name you'll find that he was cited as working on an HIV-as-biological warfare movie a decade ago:

http://www.tetrahedron.org/news/press1.html
http://www.devvy.com/aids_20001206.html

As for who supported the film, one of the Executive Producers is listed as Martin Penny. And there's a Martin Penny who was added to the "rethinking AIDS" list back in July 2007:

Before: http://web.archive.org/web/20070629184931/http://www.rethinkingaids.com/quotes/rethinkers.htm
After: http://web.archive.org/web/20070702055910/http://www.rethinkingaids.com/quotes/rethinkers.htm

Martin Penny is also listed as a sponsor of the rethinking AIDS conference in Oakland in November, which is being promoted with a banner ad for House of Numbers:

http://ra2009.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52&Itemid=57

http://ra2009.org/

Note that one of the presenters is David Rasnick, a longtime colleague of Peter Duesberg who for several years worked for Matthias Rath in South Africa (for background on what Rath was up to there, see The Guardian's excellent series: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/matthiasrath).

If you dig around on the House of Numbers Facebook page, you can find photos of Rasnick appearing to be working on the film with Leung in South Africa:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1540225&id=40491054861

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1540222&id=40491054861

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1540252&id=40491054861

Yet, as far as I can tell, he receives no credit.

Bennett said...

Yes, you were conned. As TD has already pointed out, and you have probably concluded yourself.

Who the heck paid for Leung to fly trans-atlantic to attend a showing at the Cambridge Arts House???!!!! WTF?

AIDS denial has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in South Africa, after then-President Thabo Mbeki was influenced by AIDS denialists and avoided treating and preventing HIV infections in his country.

I'm glad you recognized the 'swivvel'eyed' mania that surrounds this kind of thing - for many in the US it's not so obvious (Fox News makes that seem like it's a normal way to behave...). This film should never have been shown, as it's only served to muddy up what was a perfectly clear stream. The fact that Leung added the mud himself is what makes this sad.

resistanceisfruitful said...

Caspar,

Your discomfort is really obvious in the way you are back-pedaling with this article. You apparently don't trust your first impression of House of Numbers and have since been unduly influenced by those with a vested interest in protecting the HIV=AIDS status quo.

What I find most distressing from a site such as New Humanist, is the irrationality of your willingness to discredit dissident scientists and rethinkers as "denialist" because they are listed on one blog, yet you fail to similarly suspect or fault those supporting the orthodox view even though they are also grouped on another website!

I understand that Leung has challenged those who accuse him of cherrypicking or conning them to offer a specific example of his doing so and that none have provided any examples to date.

"Bennett" questions the source of financial backing for the film, a tactic that is dismissed when the influence of pharmaceutical funding on the AIDS paradigm is raised by some of us who question the wisdom of prescribing toxic drugs to healthy people, as I do.

Snout said...

I'm not quite sure what the single website is that groups all the scientists supporting the "orthodox view". That's a lot of scientists, including virtually everyone who has done actual research into HIV or AIDS, and virtually every qualified clinician who has ever treated anyone with the condition.

PubMed perhaps?

RIF, the issue is not that the film was conceived and funded by individuals connected with "Rethinking AIDS". The issue is that these origins were concealed, while presenting Leung as an independent and impartial investigator "just asking questions".

"Rethinkers" have long ago given up any pretense of subjecting their assertions to informed critical assessment by scientists competent in the fields they claim they are critiquing. Their strategy is to directly target the general public using a standard set of rhetorical techniques, argumentoids and misrepresentations.

As RA Board member Henry Bauer says:

"At any rate, AIDStruthers [ie the scientific mainstream] are not the audience to be courted. Their arguments must be countered with answers directed to the media and the general public in terms that are understandable by and clearly convincing for unengaged observers. That means the points cannot be too technical.

House of Numbers is clearly part of that project.

CriticNYC said...

This is a sorry piece of wriggling which is apparently trying to retreat from your first impression that House of Numbers was a worthy expose of much that is amiss in the science of HIV/AIDS. It sounds as if Robin Weiss or some other HIV fanatic - of which there are uncounted numbers, including the recognisable one who has posted here - has got at you for letting the side down, and that you are politically defenseless because you have no clear idea what the film presents. One might suggest that you look at scienceguardian.com to see the review there for a quick summary of how the documentary eviscerates common beliefs about HIV/AIDS peddled by the chief figures of HIV/AIDS science, simply by presenting what they themselves say.

Isn't seeing Luc Montagnier who won the Nobel for discovering HIV in AIDS patients saying HIV can be conquered in a few weeks by "any healthy immune system" and that Africans could be liberated from it by giving them proper food and clean water enough for you to realize what is really going on?

One thing you should understand is that the scientific reviews in the highest journals which rejected the idea that HIV causes ideas from 1987 have never been directly refuted or even answered in the same journals, and have continued ever since with gathering force, that this is a scandal of giant proportions where to protect their careers bureaucrats and scientists have unthinkingly cooperated in repressing review and curtaining it off from the public.

This is not a public debate between "denialists" and sensible supporters of good science. It is a battle between those who have for years tried to draw the attention of the public to the disregarded criticism of HIV/AIDS science and the repression of the professional and peer reviewed rejection of this paradigm as absurd and one that never should have been adopted by policy makers, as it was for reasons of politics and careerism, at the expense of AIDS patients, who have been mismedicated and their lives shortened.

This is the shambles to which science in this arena has been reduced, with the unthinking acquiescence and active support of uninformed popular journals from the New York Times to New Scientist, to whom you ascribe so much credibility.

The extent of the scandal is so grand that it is almost impossible for people to believe the implications of Brent Leung's admirable expose which is only the tip of the iceberg. But all you have to ask yourself is, when does good science need to be defended by the politics of calumny and repression? As soon as you accept the answer is Never, then you know who to credit ie who is credible and who is not. For the science, go to scienceguardian.com for the story in intelligible lay language and to the site of the heroic but much abused (by HIV defenders) scientific critic, the distinguished Peter Duesberg, at duesberg.com, for the excellent papers which have never been read by almost all the journalists in the field, including those at the Times and New Scientist.

Those who have read them include Neville Hodgkinson whose series in the Sunday Times in the 1990s mapped the whole situation very well, giving the HIV fellow traveling John Maddox of Nature apoplexy and resulting in Maddox advising his readers not to read it - just as the sorry defenders of HIV advise people not to credit the material in House of Numbers.

They are quite wrong to do so.

CriticNYC said...

By the way, the scientists who signed the attempted retraction of what they said in the film (a statement sent round by John Moore, an Englishman in New York who is the most active scientist working in HIV in trying to get any criticism of HIV/AIDS stopped before it gains a hearing with the public, calling it "dangerous" as you mentioned in your post (another silly irrationality peddled effectively by HIV defenders, since the danger is in believing an incorrect premise in AIDS if it is true that HIV does not cause immune deficiency after all, as all the critiques find)) was not signed by Montagnier, and is clearly only the result of HIV experts being caught with their scientific pants down in public.

See the film again and judge for yourself without the prejudice that has been pressured on you by others. There is no need to flounder in ignorance on this topic, and be persuaded after the fact by HIV defenders. The fact is as House of Number demonstrates in asking questions of the high poobahs of AIDS, the whole field is founded on science that was exploded in 1987, and thousands of lives have been ruined and lost needlessly.

The problem is so vast and the politics and psychology attached to it so distorting that anyone who describes the true outline of the scandal as I just did comes off as extreme and hard to credit, but this is the fault of the situation not those who point it out. The ONLY place to go is the scientific literature and those who report it without bias against so-called (by HIV defenders) "denialists", who in fact are simply following the best scientific conclusions which have been established in the wake of peer reviewed discussion, however much the HIV defenders like to deny it.

They in fact are the true "denialists"

CriticNYC said...

Sorry for the typo, please read "the idea that HIV causes AIDS" in the first comment, not "the idea that HIV causes ideas", although of course to those who have observed this Enron of science for the last 25 years the latter statement is quite true also, especially if the word "bad" is added as in "bad ideas".

Chris said...

Whatever the motives the film-makers had, and whatever the facts turn out to be surrounding the provenance of HIV -> AIDS, one thing seems very clear to me.

'Denial' involves making statements irrespective of the evidence that is available (and which clinical trials have provided in huge abundance). What Caspar has displayed here is the diametrically opposite quality - something which is in line with science itself: he's looked at the facts again, listened to the other side, and taken the opportunity to re-formulate his opinion, in public.

You will NEVER see denialists doing that because their minds are closed: they have decided what they want to think beforehand and accepted and pushed those facts that fit their goals.

Whether Caspar is right or wrong in his initial, or subsequent, assessment of the film, he is at least listening to the opposition and taking the time to look at all their facts, and that shows a heck of a lot more honesty and integrity in the pursuit of truth than people who use such manufactured controversy to make a quick buck out of a movie. Those people are, in my opinion, only a rung above the denialists themselves.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Reading all this takes me back...to about 1990, when the Sunday Times adopted AIDS denialism (HIV does not cause AIDS) as an actual campaign. I was then (and am still, when I think about it) horrified.

That said, as I know myself it's very easy to make a misjudgement about something that's new to you under the pressure of having to come up with cogent reactions for the media.

wg

Louise said...

"What Caspar has displayed here is the diametrically opposite quality - something which is in line with science itself: he's looked at the facts again, listened to the other side, and taken the opportunity to re-formulate his opinion, in public."

Exactly.

It is absurd to suggest that we shld not listen to ideas, be they ever so foolish.

Snout said...

Mostly agree, Chris, except for the bit about making "a quick buck" out of the movie.

Financial self interest is not a primary motivator of denialist movements. The motivations are far more complex and interesting than that.

HIV/AIDS denialism as a movement has several prominent roots that are often in conflict and which are sometimes difficult to disentangle after over two decades of rhetoric, especially for someone who is new to the pseudo-debate.

One root is centred on Peter Duesberg, and has its origins in a quarter-century-old bloody-minded personal vendetta between him and erstwhile colleague Robert Gallo. Duesberg is a charismatic character who has inspired intense loyalty from personal friends at Berkely and in Germany, irrespective of the scientific merits of his claims which are essentially nonsense. Gallo has ego and ambition to match Duesberg's and an abrasive personal style that has won him as many enemies as friends. Thing is, he turned out to be right in his work on HIV.

The second root centres on a pair of hospital workers in Australia with no training or practical experience in HIV/AIDS who call themselves the "Perth Group". They make specious but epistemologically complex claims that HIV doesn't exist and that testing is meaningless. Much of their argument depends on cherry picking and often frankly misrepresenting old and obscure scientific literature, and dishonestly attributing their claims to legitmate scientists, particularly Luc Montagnier. Their sophistry plays out well in the internet among denialists, despite the fact it is in obvious contradiction to the claims of Duesberg.

Neither the Duesbergians "HIV is a real retrovirus but cannot cause disease" or the Perthians "HIV does not exist" can ever rethink their positions because this would require them to acknowledge the devastation caused by their respective ideologies, including the public health policy paralysis in South Africa during the Mbeki presidency which cost a conservative estimate of over 300,000 lives.

A third major root of AIDS denialism comes from people with HIV/AIDS, or who are at risk, who have become alienated both by the stigma attached to the disease and the difficulties of negotiating with a seemingly monolithic medical and scientific establishment which often speaks an arcane and sometimes impenetrable language.

In simple terms, HIV/AIDS denialism is a result of the first two groups exploiting the alienation of the third. There are other players, including the proponents of "alternative" health care (sometimes with financial motivations) and some out and out nutcases with a variety of odd agendas.

The Duesberg-Gallo vendetta is tedious and irrelevant in 2009. The Perthian arguments are pointless and specious for anyone past the late-night undergraduate bull-session phase (hence their internet popularity).

However, the third root of AIDS denialism deserves serious attention, because it highlights the failure of science and reason to communicate to those who need it most.

gimpyblog said...

With respect to Snout's argument, what alarms me about this is that the editor of a rationalist magazine was not able to determine nonsense outside of his interests. While this might be a personal failing I suspect a more useful interpretation might be that all of us struggle outside our comfort zones of knowledge and should be willing to defer to expertise rather than assume that the mantle of scepticism somehow grants us foolproof abilities to smell bullshit.

Chris said...

I understand that the denialist movement is considerably more diverse than just film-makers; pharmaceutical companies, governments, international investors, nationalist 'social reform' and religious organisations - and plain old street charlatans - can all use it as a bargaining issue or route to money and power.

I'm just suggesting that if someone has no connections in those high-finance areas, it's still possible to make some money out of a film that promotes the 'controversy', even if that film does huge damage to the global understanding of AIDS, and those people are only marginally more ethical (or rather 'less appallingly unethical') than those right in the midst of the denialist camp.

By making a serious-looking documentary film about the denial, they're lending it the mantle of mainstream concern, as if denialist claims hold as much claim to the truth as the previous decades of scientific research.

They are deliberately undermining public understanding of, and faith in, science, mostly in order to stir up a controversy and hopefully generate large audiences and box office receipts. No different to many other media organisations with subscriptions and advertising sales.

It's this subsidiary activity that this gives the mainstream denialist organisations, who crave political and financial power and social control, much more leverage within society to run unopposed.

As Ben Goldacre says himself, there really needs to be some kind of international legislation stopping media whores making dangerous claims about health for personal gain. By the time they've done it, and experts have complained, it's often too late, and people are dead. MMR is a classic example, and there are millions worldwide who are still sceptical, even though the whole autism link has long ago been debunked.

How one sets that kind of policing up is anybody's guess...

AT said...

Caspar, you seem to have caught some serious flak for re-examining a position you took, explaining your thinking then and now and going through the research and information that led you to change your mind.

What an irrational, douchebag thing to do. You ought to be ashamed.

For the record, rightly or wrongly, the denialist movement doesn't seem like a marginalized but scientifically accurate faction. It looks like a totally crazy bugbear. But that's just opinion.

where is said...

Caspar

I am a HIV dissident. And I am proud to be one. I have lived as a HIV+ person for some 7 years, getting seriously ill on ARV's. And when I aksed questions I was either ignored or my HIV doctor got seriously upset.

There is no 'evil' conspiracy. But after 22 years of being HIV I am healthier than I ever was - simply because I stopped believing the AIDS orthodoxy and most importanlty I stopped taking ARV's.

But there are a lot of people around now whose existence depends on me being HIV+. If HIV does not cause AIDS - well they are all out of a job. Billions of dollars go into their research and up to now NO ONE has managed to cure any one with AIDS. And when you ask these questions people like snout get not only abngry, but outright abusive.

I know I am on the right side. HIV does not cause. And if Brent managed to fund his film using the funds of a better off dissident - good for him, good for us, good for me!

All he does in his film is ask some questions. And i see nothing wrong with that. it is high time more people ask more questions. A LOT MORE!

where is said...

sorry i meant it took me 7 years to realise that the AIDS establishment got it wrong and i am HIV+ for 22 years.

resistanceisfruitful said...

To suggest that monetary gain was a motive for Leung's work is too laughable to comment further.
As for the triad of denialism espoused by Snout, count me in the third leg.

As an AIDS activist in the 1980s I demonstrated for faster access to the very drugs I've now learned cause more death than the original disease ever could have.
But what would someone who has been part of the AIDS-affected community and AIDS activism for nearly 30 years know? I'm just being manipulated by Duesberg and the Perth Group, right.

You have no idea (or maybe you do) how offensive that suggestion is to me.

For the record, I made the decision to quit the AIDS meds seven years ago independently and THEN discovered the AIDS dissidence movement. My personal experience with them and watching dozens of my friends die from their effects was sufficient to cause me to pause and question what was going on.

I also recently reconnected with an old friend who has been poz since 1988 who kept his status a complete secret. He too has avoided the cocktails and is healthy. After years of isolation he is only now discovering there are others who question the orthodoxy that he can find some support.

Yes these are "cherry-picked" examples because there are so few who have dared to question the massive fear-based marketing of AIDS drugs to gay men.

Your analysis might look good at first glance, but it fails the reality of our collective experiences.

These debates and arguments quickly grow tiresome and tedious and I won't participate here further.

I simply don't understand why AIDS defenders are so afraid of information and knowledge that is at odds with their own entrenched beliefs and are attempting to prevent the showing of this film.

Disagree with it.

Object to the content.

Criticize the motivation.

But why insist on censorship?

BTW, if you are a reader who is taking AIDS meds, you owe it to yourself to examine the recent evidence that many patients have been able to quit the drugs and manage their health quite well. You can find links to relevant studies at my blog (click my name above), or contact me there for more information.

Gos Blank said...

Caspar,

Yes, you were conned. But don't be too quick to jump to conclusions about who it was that conned you.

Let me ask you something: If Brent Leung had made a film which questioned the accuracy of the statement, "The Earth is 93 million miles from the Sun," and you'd expressed an opinion that the film raised some valid questions, what do you think the response would have been? Vitriol? Name-calling? Would you have been inundated with letters from astronomers calling Leung a "denialist" and accusing him of being "irresponsible" and "dangerous" for even posing the question? Would you be getting posts calling you an "irrational douchebag" just for entertaining the questions raised by the film? (See AT's comment)

I seriously doubt that this would have been the response, simply because any astronomer worth his salt could offer a half-dozen different kinds of proof to show the actual distance between the Earth and the Sun. But even more importantly, the proof that they offered would stand the test of critical examination.

When I first heard of the so-called "denialist" movement some eight years ago, I was quick to dismiss them. I prided myself on being more knowledgeable than the average person on the subject of AIDS, and where the mainstream AIDS hypotheses were concerned, I was in fact very knowledgeable. And because I prided myself on my knowledge, I was understandably reluctant to consider the possibility that everything I thought I knew was wrong.

I set out to prove the "denialists" wrong, and to my surprise, I found that many of their arguments stood up to critical examination.

This brought me to the rather awkward realization that I needed to be equally critical in my examination of the mainstream views on HIV and AIDS. After all, it is a meaningless exercise to examine a debate at all if you're only critical of one side.

When I began to critically examine the mainstream HIV/AIDS hypothesis, the whole thing came crashing down like a house of cards, and I've been a "denialist" ever since. (Though we tend to prefer the term "dissident", since the term "denialist" is deliberately pejorative and intended to produce bias.)

And while we're on the subject of the term "denialist", do you think that if the orthodoxy had proof of their case, they'd need to invent pejorative names to call us? It seems to me that if they actually had proof that would stand up to critical examination, they'd offer that proof and put an end to all of the questions once and for all -- no name-calling required.

For that matter, you yourself have said that the film's detractors say that the film "makes a clear case that HIV doesn't exist". You yourself saw the film -- Do you agree with that assessment? If not, who do you trust -- your own eyes, or the claims of others who themselves may or may not have even seen the film?

You yourself have answered that question: "I didn't, and don't, think that this is the only conclusion the viewer can reach..." Thus, you yourself already know that House of Numbers makes no such case.

Given this fact, you have to ask yourself why its critics would make such an obviously false claim. Why are they lying?

Personally, I think they're telling on themselves. They know that the film merely invites the viewer to investigate the evidence for himself, and they also know that if you look too closely at the evidence, you'll inevitably come to the conclusion that HIV is harmless and probably nonexistent. Thus, merely by inviting investigation of the evidence, the film is absolutely guilty of making "a clear case that HIV doesn't exist", even if that case is nowhere made within the film itself.

(cont'd below)

Gos said...

(cont'd from above)

It seems to me that you are tempted to cave in to pressure from a rather aggressive group of axe-grinders (many of whom I myself have encountered, and I can attest that the term "aggressive" is the euphemism of the century in this case. A more accurate description would include the words "vicious" and "fanatical".)

Please don't succumb to this pressure. If your own eyes tell you one thing about this film, and these people tell you something else, then believe your own eyes and have the courage to speak publicly about it. Likewise, if you examine the evidence about HIV and AIDS and you come to the conclusion that HIV exists and that it causes AIDS, then believe the evidence, and don't let me or anyone else convince you otherwise.

But if you critically examine the evidence on both sides for yourself, and you find that the evidence compels you to disbelieve what you've previously been told about HIV and AIDS, then don't let "Snout" and his buddies intimidate you.

And make no mistake: If you persist in investigating the facts about HIV and AIDS, they will attempt to intimidate you. They'll lean on you, and hard. If you doubt what I'm saying, have a conversation with private investigator Clark Baker. His contact info can be found here.

Baker was hired in 2008 by the Semmelweis Society International to investigate allegations by certain members of the organization against Peter Duesberg and Celia Farber.

As he began his investigation, he was shocked to find that the very members who'd leveled the allegations against Duesberg and Farber were pressuring him not to investigate. In Baker's own words, "It seemed incongruous that the individuals who alleged genocide would also pressure me to not investigate their own allegations."

As Baker's investigation continued, the pressure was stepped up and became more and more hostile. Eventually, the hostility was escalated to criminal behavior, which included threats, identity theft, and "...a 'spam attack' against [Baker's] name and professional email account and phones, generating thousands of unwanted spam messages and phone calls that offered everything from gay porn to paid vacations."

Baker was eventually forced to file a criminal complaint with LAPD. His story can be found here.

I want you to note that on one side of this debate, you'll find people who encourage you to investigate for yourself the questions raised by House of Numbers, and to make up your own mind and trust your own judgement. On the other side are people who don't want you to investigate, but would rather have you take their word for it that all of these questions have already been settled, and who have already accused you of being gullible and naive, merely for voicing the opinion that House of Numbers raises some interesting questions.

Which invites the question: Who are the true denialists? Those who want you to investigate these questions, or those who would rather take refuge in ad hominem attacks against anyone who dares even to ask them?

--- Gos
--- myspace.com/nerosopeningact
"Nobody here but us heretics..."

CriticNYC said...

You wrote earlier, in this blog, on Crick and the wretches who challenge Darwinism:

http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/search/label/Francis%20Crick

"If they want to make it a choice between Darwin and the Bible I’ll take Darwin every time."

As the above posts show quite well, the HIV defenders are the Bible thumping believers who trash their critics who urge proper review of HIV as heretics who should burn at the stake for their "dangerous" views, etc etc, and the fine scientist responsible for the unrefuted reviews which damned HIV as the possible cause of AIDS. Peter Duesberg, they say must be pursuing his "rival" Gallo enviously by denying Gallo's great achievement etc etc, and not what he is clearly to all who know him and read his papers properly, at duesberg.com, merely an objective and public spirited professor, researcher and public servant, willing to sacrifice his membership of the club of his peers to state what he sees in the evidence and publish peer reviewed papers on the topic.

Thus the situation is precisely the opposite of Snout's silly claims. Duesberg is a fine public servant and a very fine scientist and exemplary analytical writer. Read his papers. No wonder he was a National Academy member at a young age and earlier than any of his "rivals" such as Gallo, who barely got in later.

But this correction of Snout et al is only worth making to draw attention to the fact that Snout and other HIV footsoldiers have not a shred of science to back their beliefs that has not been thoroughly trounced in Duesberg's peer reviewed papers over the 22 years since his first one in Cancer Research.

All they have to offer are various spurious ad hominem ways in which they try to discredit Duesberg et al as scientists and as people, in terms of motivation ("in it for the money" etc) or expertise "never worked with HIV" or "not in the field" etc). That is why you have to check the science and see how it is entirely ill founded in all the essential ways that House of Numbers shows are admitted by the leaders of HIV promotion themselves.

The bottom line is that HIV defenders are the Bible thumpers and the HIV critics (the "denialist" dissidents) are the Darwinists, in this case.

So to apply your admirable preference in evolution to this field, "If they want to make it a choice between Darwin and the Bible I’ll take Darwin every time. ", you should choose the dissidents, who base their views on evidence and scientific argument, and not the HIV defenders, who have nothing but nonscience to peddle in the form of insults and detraction.

As shown in the above series of their comments.

Snout said...

Gos, I think you missed that AT's comment: "What an irrational, douchebag thing to do" was intended ironically.

CriticNYC, Duesberg's claims have been given more than a fair hearing in the scientific literature over the past 22 years, and have been found to lack cogency and to run contrary to evidence. They are based principally on his understanding of epidemiology, which is woeful. They simply do not stand up to informed analysis.

A good example is his most recent paper (now withdrawn) in which he tried to deny the extent of AIDS mortality in South Africa, claimed that HIV prevalence there has been stable (while citing antenatal seroprevalence studies showing a fortyfold increase over 15 years), and denied the efficacy of antiretroviral therapy by dishonestly misrepresenting the results of a key study. And that's just for starters.

To point out such serious failings in a supposed scientific paper is not "ad hominem".

To my knowledge, not a single "dissident" has tried to defend the substance of these claims of Duesberg's. Instead you simply assert the supposed personal qualities of the man, and dismiss any substantive criticism of his assertions as a personal attack.

AIDS denialism, like creationism, has nothing to do with bona fide scientific debate. It is political, and uses the rhetorical techniques of politics.

CriticNYC said...

Snout writes: "CriticNYC, Duesberg's claims have been given more than a fair hearing in the scientific literature over the past 22 years, and have been found to lack cogency and to run contrary to evidence. They are based principally on his understanding of epidemiology, which is woeful. They simply do not stand up to informed analysis.

A good example is his most recent paper (now withdrawn) in which he tried to deny the extent of AIDS mortality in South Africa, claimed that HIV prevalence there has been stable (while citing antenatal seroprevalence studies showing a fortyfold increase over 15 years), and denied the efficacy of antiretroviral therapy by dishonestly misrepresenting the results of a key study. And that's just for starters."
--------------

On the contrary, Snout, as I stated none of the main points or indeed virtually none of the minor points have been significantly refuted. You are, dear Snout, fantasizing about the truffles you are rooting for, ie flaws in Duesberg's writings, because there are none. His peer reviewers have always been very anxious to find flaws, and have thus zealously cooperated with making them flawless.

Your misunderstanding is almost certainly because you do not carefully read the papers concerned, but read them (if you do at all, which is hard to credit) with inviolable preconceptions cemented into your mental frame, particularly the overriding premise that HIV is the cause of AIDS.

One gathers this because you give the impression of not being aware of the quality of Duesberg's papers, which is remarkably high and at one point prompted Walter Gilbert at Harvard to use them as examples of brilliancy in his graduate teaching. Anyone who passes such deprecating remarks casually on a Web thread is merely confirming the suspicion that he has no exposure to them.

Nor have they had a "fair hearing" over the last 22 years. In fact, the exact opposite is the case. You apparently have no familiarity with the politics of this field of science, or you wouldn't fantasize along these lines. You would benefit from reading the posts on scienceguardian.com in this regard, since attempts to censor Duesberg from publishing his critique is a major theme backed up with many examples dealing with Duesberg's egregiously distorted reception by his colleagues and other scientists, who treat him quite justifiably as someone who threatens their fond belief in HIV as the agent in AIDS, and all the benefits that go with it.

It is this antagonism which signals to outsiders that the paradigm in AIDS is incorrect, otherwise it wouldn't need such censoring.

The plain fact is that no one has ever dared to write a rebuttal of Duesberg's seminal papers in either Cancer Research or the Proceedings of the National Academy, which are the bedrock of all clear thinking of HIV and AIDS and the impossibility that HIV is the cause.

All papers attempting to find fault with those papers and the follow up papers he has written over the years are published in other journals, despite Gallo's initial promise to the Proceedings' editors to respond in their pages. Most often referenced is a Web page published by NIAID where even the authors are not named. Like all such defenses, it is not peer reviewed. That applies to the Science debate between Duesberg and his opponents, where his victory was prevented by the editors calling a halt to the exchange. And apparently you are unaware of the prejudice implemented against Duesberg by John Maddox of Nature, where the soon to retire Maddox, having papered his once reliable journal with HIV studies, decided that Duesberg no longer had the right of reply to his opponents.

CriticNYC said...

Further:

Why is this? It is because serious HIV defenders have no answers or any other way of interpreting the evidence. If you troubled to read either of these papers you would know why. But I dare say you never have and you never will. You probably prefer to go with the full page Times ad taken out by defenders of HIV in which a large number of people (some of them without any great information about the science, similar I dare say to yourself) avowed their faith in HIV as cause of AIDS in a kind of religious approach to science, a democratic method which indicated scientific truth as decided by vote.

The very existence of this wretched document indicates how poor the science of HIV defenders is, since science is neither a democracy where truths are decided by vote, nor is it a religion where the heads of the faithful are counted for proof. No good science needs a silly declaration of faith in a scientific belief, it is a matter of evidence and reason, both of which are notoriously deficient in the defense of HIV. Such a defense was just another indication of how much rot there is at the core of this supposedly scientific but still entirely unproven hypothetical claim, which evades examination rather than welcomes it, as good science would.

Your claims that Duesberg's paper scotching the absurd claim that he and his colleagues are responsible for millions of HIV/AIDS deaths in South Africa is faulty are quite wrong, but since it is clear you haven't read the paper, why not do so? One of the great scandals of AIDS is how the prevalence of HIV is measured and extrapolated to the general population of an enormous area by testing prenatal women, who tend to test positive at higher rates than average (not to mention the quality of the tests, which as House of Numbers indicates, are abysmal, and cross react galore). As to Duesberg dishonestly misrepresenting the results of a key study, Duesberg unlike his Web critics and some of his peers is incapable of dishonesty, and has sacrificed much for this unusual trait.

The paper was not withdrawn, it was taken down by the publishers of Medical Hypotheses contrary to the acceptance of the editor, who welcomed it in accordance with tradition at that publication devoted to ideas which challenge mainstream notions, at the instigation of the absurd John Moore and colleagues who make a specialty of frightening uninformed publishers out of publishing this non mainstream idea (that HIV=AIDS is an ill founded claim) by saying it is "dangerous" to the welfare of patients, as if they benefited from the current regime of medicating them with poisonous drugs on the premise that HIV causes AIDS, which Duesberg has so long proved false by simply examining all the evidence produced in its favor and showing it does not stand up.

The claim is not only unproven (you are aware of that, right?) but in every respect ridiculous to anybody familiar with the way retroviruses behave and where they appear to come from, and to anyone who looks at the occurrence of HIV in patients (to all intents and purposes, nil) and its relation to T cells (which even the leaders of the paradigm now admit is prima facie not now nor ever was a matter of HIV killing them directly, as was first claimed, because active virus is only ever found in 1 in 10,000 T cells. In other words, a virus which is never inside T cells was supposed to kill them directly. Now we have the wriggling effort to come up with some way of HIV killing T cells indirectly, which is equally fantastic, it is clear).

The censoring of the scientific review and the enthusiasm of you and your colleagues on the Web for a dangerous belief in the complete absence of any valid scientific evidence for it means that one day HIV defenders will be accused of causing the deaths of millions, rather than Duesberg.

CriticNYC said...

In fact, the responsibility of HIV defenders for this scientific debacle shouldn't be minimized.

Consider, Snout: As long as you try to curb free speech and act against a public review of this issue, won't you be guilty of exactly that - causing the needless suffering of millions - if the review, when it does come, approves Duesberg's stand, just as the peer reviewers did, despite themselves?

Those who try to prevent light being shone on this tormented field of science have to take responsibility for preventing its resolution, and all the costs in money and lives that are involved while the public waits for you to get out of the way.

You will have no ethical defense unless you properly read a substantial amount of Duesberg's papers and familiarise yourself with all of this material without looking at it through the spectacles of your assumption that HIV must be the cause of AIDS, because so many respectable people say so.

It really is important for all those who value science not to debate politics and repeat endless ad hominem barbs but to go and read Duesberg for themselves.

Gos said...

Snout,

Earlier, you alluded to a "quarter-century-old bloody-minded personal vendetta" between Duesberg and Gallo.

Now, that's a pretty serious charge that you're making against Duesberg, and if it's false, then it's pure slander.

However, for you there's a lot more at issue than slander. Your very credibility is at stake, for it is now incumbent upon you to offer substantiation for your innuendo, and if you cannot, then you expose yourself as a liar who is so desperate to muddy the waters that you'll say anything to divert the conversation away from the relevant facts.

However, instead of giving us substantiating details about this alleged vendetta, you simply say, "The Duesberg-Gallo vendetta is tedious and irrelevant in 2009."

If it's irrelevant, why do you bring it up?

And if such a vendetta exists, why is it too tedious for you to provide us with a single detail of this supposed vendetta, much less offer a shred of evidence for its existence?

Methinks that (much like HIV itself) you cannot offer a shred of documentation to prove the existence of this vendetta, and if you fail to do so, then I want to thank you for demonstrating to Caspar that I was telling the truth when I said that you can only offer only ad hominem attacks and innuendo, and categorically cannot offer a shred of actual proof for anything that you say.

Caspar is plainly no fool, and he will not allow you to get away with vague innuendo against Duesberg, without offering a shred of substantiation for it. If you do not offer him substantiation for your slanderous allegation, then you will lose all credibility in this discussion.

So the ball is now in your court: Where's the documentation of this alleged vendetta?

...Or are we all simply supposed to take you at your word, no matter how unlikely it seems that a scientist would throw away his entire career simply to attack another scientist whom he personally disliked?

--- Gos

Snout said...

Apologies to Caspar for whacking the hornet's nest of denialism but I thought it might be interesting for readers to see a specimen or two of what passes for "debate" in this area, and to draw their own conclusions about the likelihood of resolution based on a critical examination of the evidence.

Readers can of course make their own minds up about the quality of Duesberg's retracted Medical Hypotheses paper and also about CriticNYC's claim that it is sound and that Duesberg is constitutionally incapable of misrepresenting a key study.

Although Duesberg has reneged on his promise to make available "on request" the peer reviews that led to its rejection from the Journal of AIDS, there are numerous reviews on the web, including three simulated peer reviews here:

http://denyingaids.blogspot.com/2009/09/peer-reviewing-peter-duesberg.html

Contrary to CriticNYC's claim that I haven't read the article in question, I devoted the second half of this July blog post to outlining some of my own concerns about its quality, and readers may also find that and the ensuing uncensored comment thread of interest, particularly as it was joined by a number of people with more expertise in the field than I do:

http://snoutworld.blogspot.com/2009/07/coming-aids-denialist-civil-war-henry.html

The retracted article can (currently) be read in full from a link from the weblog of one of its co-authors, Henry Bauer:

http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/about/#comment-4471

Far from censoring scientific scrutiny of Duesberg's "work" the internet encourages it, and makes it accessible even to non-scientist net-hounds such as myself. Enjoy.

Criticnyc said...

Snout, the paper was not "retracted". Kindly read comments before responding to them. It was removed by the publisher against the wishes of the editor and of Duesberg.

It is certainly true that anyone can compare Snout's notes and objections, whatever they are, if he has blogged them, and Duesberg's original paper, if the link is correct.

It is admirable that Snout has after all pored over Duesberg's writing to the extent of actually having written down his difficulties with it. He has set a fine example for the rest of the HIV Web brigade.

Now all can compare the quality of Snout's thinking with that of Duesberg's. May I suggest that Snout now tackle the Cancer Research paper of 1987 and the Proceedings paper of 1988, and any others following which interest him?

Bob Gallo for one will be grateful for him leading the way in demolishing Duesberg's finest work, thus relieving that disappointed non Nobelist of his own contract to do so expressed in his assurance to the editors of that highest level journal so long ago.

It is impossible not to feel the greatest admiration for Snout, the "non scientist net hound", for actually troubling to go to the original in the latest case and chewing it over himself, even if he found much of it worthy only of spitting out.

Evidently Snout is the man to depend on in sorting out this long festering confusion and putting National Academy member and Berkeley professor Duesberg where he belongs, where scores of peer reviewers desperate to save their asses by finding some way of defeating Duesberg's papers failed to do so.

This is the kind of thing we always hoped for from the Web - members of the public should read Duesberg for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

The only problem as always is that said members of the public should not approach the text with their minds already made up as to whether Duesberg was right or wrong about HIV, and should be able to understand what they read.

I have every confidence that Snout was up to the task and did not suffer from either of these two handicaps. That is, until I read the result. That is my own prejudice, which is in favor of the author Snout, rather than against him.

If my hopes are realized then it seems reasonable to suggest that Snout be given some kind of award for saving us all the time and trouble of finding flaws in what Duesberg wrote for ourselves, which might have been difficult given the failed efforts of the reviewers to do so.

Perhaps a MacArthur? After all, for a lay net Hound to set such a good example and to achieve such a breakthrough all through his own efforts deserves funding for whatever contribution he might make next in solving multi billion dollar scientific issues of global reach.

Trust the independent scholar from outside the field to come up with the most creative and constructive solution. That has always been a principle of large social systems. And here we have Snout as a leading example!

I certainly hope the fairminded and philosophical blog author will follow in his footsteps and read Duesberg for himself. Perhaps he might better appreciate the superb quality of Duesberg's thinking, which apparently has eluded Snout, though saluted at Harvard.

Gos said...

Nick "Snout" Bennett,

You claim that there are "numerous reviews on the web" of the Duesberg article, yet you only include a link to a simulated review posted on a blog, for chrissake. Not only this, but that blog just happens to be the blog of Seth Kalichman, whose objectivity in this matter is questionable to say the least.

Assuming that Kalichman himself did not write all three reviews, it is assured that he selected all three reviewers himself.

Of course, he claims to have made sure that "None of the reviewers had any interest in AIDS denialism", yet the very first reviewer says in the third paragraph, "Who but an AIDS denialist would believe that a) the South African mortality registration system would yield an accurate count of deaths due to HIV/AIDS and b) that 1 death per 1000 HIV-positive people per year were anything close to an accurate measure of the rate at which people with HIV/AIDS die." [emphasis mine - punctuation error in original] This, we are expected to believe, is an objective, disinterested party, without "any interest in AIDS denialism"?

C'mon, Dr. Nick -- surely you can do better than this.

Of course, where your earlier attempt at slandering Duesberg for his "vendetta" is concerned, you are curiously quiet when pressed for substantiation.

Is it just me, or is someone desperately trying to change the subject?

--- Gos

Snout said...

I understand that the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard School of Public Health has indeed examined the quality of Duesberg's thinking and its impact on South African health policy, but I'm not sure "saluted" is quite the right word to describe their assessment.

Thank you for your kind words, though. And I will be careful in future not to say "retracted" when the correct term is "withdrawn".

Snout said...

@Gos, I don't know how many times I have said it now, but I am not Nick Bennett.

Initially I found the misidentification amusing and (from my point of view) flattering. It's a splendid demonstration of Clark Baker's "investigative" skills.

Now it's just annoying. Stop it.

guscairns said...

Dear Caspar,

Yes, you were conned.

I haven't got time to compose a separate reply here (lazy!) but here's the letter I sent the Cambridge film Festival:

Dear Cambridge Film Festival,

I am the editor of the newsletter of the UK’s largest in HIV information charity and am myself someone who has lived with HIV since 1985. In 1996 I was diagnosed with AIDS and was rescued from death by antiretroviral drugs. I write in a personal capacity and not as a representative of NAM.

I am writing to protest about the irresponsible screening of the film House of Numbers, which appears to claim that it is a legitimate scientific proposition to question whether HIV causes AIDS.

It is not; the evidence that HIV causes AIDS is quite simply overwhelming and it is intellectually perverse to deny it. In will no longer even engage in arguments with denialists, as to do so it to argue with an inflexible ideology.

One case does not clinch the argument, but I bear in my own continued existence the evidence that HIV causes AIDS and that antiretroviral drugs contain its damage.

In the early 1990s, having been diagnosed in 1985, I refused to take AZT and put myself on a programme of vitamin supplements, Chinese medicine, psychotherapy, yoga, swimming with dolphins – you name it. None of it made the slightest difference. By late 1996 I had a CD4 count of 10 (i.e. 1% of the normal complement), numerous AIDS-related illnesses, and had lost 25% of my body weight.

The only thing that made a difference was to take a supposedly toxic cocktail of antiretrovirals, which I started in January 1997. My CD4 count immediately improved, my illnesses faded away, and here I am.

I am glad to see that your own website takes a highly sceptical view of the film, and acknowledges that many of the researchers interviewed in the film have since protested that they were made to appear as if they questioned the cause of AIDS by selective quotation and editing.

These letters and comments are far more eloquent than I could be about House of Numbers. To Dan’s letter, however, I would like to add that I too personally knew some of the AIDS denialists he mentions. I debated and argued with the kikes of David Pasquarelli, Huw Christie, and Christine Maggiore, urged them to change their minds, and mourned their passing, For anyone to have died for false beliefs is a tragedy, and these are people who, if only they had not been misled by AIDS denialism, could have been great campaigners on behalf of people with HIV.

When films like House of Numbers get screened, the question of screening them is always framed as a Free Speech issue, and the comparison is often made, as you have done, with creationism. But AIDS denialism is different from creationism, because it kills.

Denying the theory of evolution may only murder science; denying that HIV causes AIDS murders real people. Last year a study by Harvard Medical School found that South African government would have prevented the premature deaths of 365,000 people if it had provided antiretroviral drugs early in the decade, as its neighbour Botswana has done, when the extension of HIV treatment to South Africa was first merged. Instead, a president duped by AIDS denialists allowed his countrymen to lose 3.8 million person-years of life.

AIDS denialism is seductive: it clicks with many people’s suspicions about Big Pharma, colonialism, and the victimisation of gay men, black people, and drug users. People, especially journalists and people in the media, I find, want to believe in it because it supports a conspiracy-theory view of the world. If you are HIV positive it may also be a way to avoid victimisation and deny deeply-buried shame about being HIV positive, and in situations where antiretroviral drugs are not available it provides hope.

It’s not true, however, and has led many people to their grave.

I am therefore urging that, even at this late stage, you cancel the film’s screening.

Yours sincerely,

Gus Cairns
Editor, HIV Treatment Update
NAM

Brad the Builder said...

It sounds like you were conned unfortunately

where is said...

Equally I demand a screening.
Like Gus I was on ARV's and they nearly killed me on the concorde trial in the Kobler centre.

I have personally witnessed how many of my fellow patients died or became seriously ill from the side effects of AZT and Nevirapine.

I owe my life to Peter Duesberg, and in the name of truth and freedom of choice -an informed choice- I demand a screening.

to date no one in the aids camp has been able to answer some serious questions about how hiv causes aids.

we are alsways told the 'scientific consensus' tells us there is an overwhelming body of evidence.

i have been examining that evidence for more than 15 years and concluded that there isn't sufficient evidence and the evidence that exists clearly demonstrates that hiv CANNOT EVER BE THE CAUSE OF AIDS!

The screening must take place to tell the world!

CriticNYC said...

Snout writes:

"Thank you for your kind words, though. And I will be careful in future not to say "retracted" when the correct term is "withdrawn"."

Snout, your research skills seem to be seriously wanting. The paper was not withdrawn, let us repeat, perhaps in vain, since you pay insufficient attention, it was unmounted, taken down, erased from their display on line by the publishers of Medical Hypotheses, because some HIV defender like the writer of the letter to the Festival above demanded that it be censored because it might encourage people to believe that HIV=AIDS was an ill founded claim exploded in the literature and stop taking their assigned revolting and harmful drugs, promoted by Bill Clinton strenuously to improve his image, by Bill Gates on the advice of Helen Gayle, by people such as yourself for personal psychological reasons one can only guess at, and others at NIAID etc.

The Harvard professor who saluted the quality of Duesberg's papers by teaching them to his graduate students was Walter Gilbert, as I stated. I did not mention the seriously compromised School of Medicine. Apparently you wish to put yourself above Gilbert in the pantheon of biology experts, even though he has a Nobel. This is why I suggested you deserve a MacArthur at the very least.

On the other hand, doesn't a good researcher and commentator need to be able to read? You have now shown yourself incapable of digesting the very simplest comments here correcting your facts. Do you suffer from dyslexia or some other handicap in reading text? One hopes not. One hopes that you are simply betraying the purblind myopia that afflicts the best HIV defenders when it comes to facts that undermine their faith.

Perhaps with this inattention you don't deserve the MacArthur after all. But I hope you appreciate the support you briefly got for this distinction.

Meanwhile, may I draw your attention to the missive above by one Gus Cairns? It seems that you have support for your own feeling that any criticism of the paradigm HIV=AIDS should be kept from the public, in case it influences people.

There is something seriously contorted and even bathetic about the dance performed by HIV defenders such as Cairns at this low level. At one and the same time they agitate against "denialism" as utterly unconvincing and misguided and at the same time want it banned without a hearing lest the public be influenced.

Could it be simply that they know that their support of HIV=AIDS is emotional and unthinking, and that they have never troubled to look into it properly in a reasoned manner, because they know it threatens to expose them as fools who have under the guidance of such scientific luminaries as Anthony Fauci of NIAID and John Moore of Cornell dosed themselves repeatedly with damaging drugs on the basis of a fantasy, a paradigm promotion which is no more than the scientific equivalent of Worldcom?

Surely not.

Gordon Comstock said...

We all make mistakes, so bravo to you for 'coming-clean' so quickly. However a couple of issues that struck me. Listening to the Guardian podcast my ears pricked up when you said the director claimed to have little or no knowledge of the AID/HIV 'controversy' and had somehow stumbled into this with an 'open-mind'. This raised my suspicions at once - this is the standard 'line' of various Holocaust deniers, 9/11 truthers, Apollo moon-landing 'hoaxers' etc. I believe this is said either for dramatic effect, they see themselves as characters in a Jason Bourne film, or to give themselves credence as an 'ordinary Jo' and/or they are naive and genuinely have no grasp of how to unpick fact/fantasy/wishful thinking/etc..that is they do not realise they are not equipped with the analytical tools to stop them being led down the cul-de-sac of conspiracy theories and bad or pseudo science. There must also be psychological factors (identity -'in group'/'out group, grievance, bitterness ..the desire to 'make a difference'....whatever) that I am ill equipped to analyse.

You also spoke of its 'plausibility' - yes these people are plausible, particularly if aided by their control of the film's editing.

Your (partial) mea culpa was interesting. You could say exactly the same ('raises questions' etc) about the 9/11 truthers 'Loose Change' or even the 1970s racist comedy programme 'Love Thy Neighbour'. However in both of these cases I would choose not to describe them as 'raising questions'when talking to people whose critical faculties and attitudes I believed were not particularly well developed - I would be roundly critical. Sounds elitist? Maybe, but realistic also.....No, I do not think governments should ban them, just that one has to consider the audience one is addressing.

Perhaps next time Google and Wikipedia might be your first port of call?

Anonymous said...

Caspar

to underline the severity of this matter in no uncertain terms:

as some one who has been classified hiv+ some 22 years ago, who was used as a guinea pig in various ARV trials, who was told i would die within 3 years of diagnosis, as some one whose life has been wrecked by a diagnosis based on questionable HIV tests I ACCUSE the establishment, scientists such as GALLO, practitioners such as SNOUT of manslaughter. THEY VERY LEAST!

I am not the only one who is suffering consequences based on ASSUMPTIONS!

Millions like me are told they will die of a virus that to date has not been isolated. They are given ARV's which cause liver failure - NAM has some interesting reports on this. Why don't you quote those, Gus?

Marriages are ruined, we are discriminated against at work, we ARE MODERN DAY LEPERS, countries refuse eave to enter, expel us when found HIV+, we live in isolation and humiliation all BECAUSE AIDS HAS BECOME BIG MONEY KEEPING PEOPLE LIKE SNOUT GALLO AND MONTAGNIER IN BUSINESS!

I demand justice. I demand that proper proof is delivered to the people of the world that without doubt proofs that HIV is the cause of AIDS and leads to death.

I demand that scientists work according to the rules of science and deliver peer reviewed evidence.

I demand that 'scientific consensus' is based on such evidence and not on the bullying tactics of those that profit from me being HIV+.

Anything less is participation in the discrimination, isolation and killing of any one who tests HIV+.

Gos said...

Snout,

OK, so you're not Nick Bennett. Sure, whatever you say, Dr. Nick.

So are you going to come forth with the substantiation for Duesberg's alleged vendetta against Gallo, or is this going to be like all of the times we've demanded answers to our questions about AIDS, and you're only going to give us further innuendo, slander, and ad hominem attacks?

--- Gos

TD said...

This comment from Snout is worth repeating:

"To my knowledge, not a single "dissident" has tried to defend the substance of these claims of Duesberg's. Instead you simply assert the supposed personal qualities of the man, and dismiss any substantive criticism of his assertions as a personal attack."

Anyone willing to try and defend the substance of Duesberg's claims? Like this one perhaps:

"the Harvard study maintains that the ‘‘beneļ¬ts” of these drugs ‘‘outweigh” their inevitable toxicity [1]. But, contrary to these claims hundreds of American and British researchers jointly published a collaborative analysis in The Lancet in 2006 concluding that treatment of AIDS patients with anti-viral drugs has "not translated into a decrease in mortality" [30]."

CriticNYC said...

For the record, let's examine what Gus Cairns affirms:

Gus states he has lived with HIV since 1985 and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1996.

Apparently he had 11 years of non AIDS health to check out the assumptions he was
spoonfed by his doc and he got off to a flying start by refusing to take AZT and putting himself on a programme of vitamin supplements, Chinese medicine, psychotherapy, yoga, swimming with dolphins – you name it. None of it made the slightest difference. By late 1996 he had a CD4 count of 10 (i.e. 1% of the normal complement), numerous AIDS-related illnesses, and had lost 25% of his body weight.


This is indeed evidence that HIV was the problem, and that nothing else was.

Gus again: Then in 1996 I was diagnosed with AIDS and was rescued from death by antiretroviral drugs. One case does not clinch the argument, but I bear in my own continued existence the evidence that HIV causes AIDS and that antiretroviral drugs contain its damage. The only thing that made a difference was to take a supposedly toxic cocktail of antiretrovirals, which I started in January 1997. My CD4 count immediately improved, my illnesses faded away, and here I am.

Three cheers for Gus! What else could possibly be so convincing as this personal testimony to the efficacy of AIDS drugs? Gus is living proof of the validity of HIV theory and the appropriateness of the drugs taken to counter it. No need to question this anecdote, and certainly no need to point to statistics which show that the rate of death from AIDS has remained high in the US, in fact has recently attained the new peak of 22,000 annually, up from 17,000 annually. Perhaps this is because people are failing to take their meds as they should, malignantly influenced by "AIDS denialists".

Gus states that he is "the editor of the newsletter of the UK’s largest in HIV information charity" although he is writing "on a personal basis" and not representing any organisation. So does this position boost his credentials or bring them into question? One fact that is very apparent is that no one belonging to any organization involved in passing along HIV/AIDS lore to the public has ever dared to open up the issue of whether Duesberg's papers are refuted or not, and whether the evidence accumulating year after year that the current approach achieves absolutely nothing in terms of death rate while like any chemotherapy producing guaranteed suffering should prompt a second look.

The one famous exception is the aforementioned Kevin de Cock, a UN official who took leave of his political senses in 2007 to tell the world that heterosexuals were no longer in danger from HIV/AIDS, if they ever were - except in South Africa, of course. We haven't heard much from de Cock since, although he is WHO director of HIV/AIDS. He certainly set a fine example, including stating that the factors driving HIV spread were still not fully understood. One more example of how full HIV/AIDS is of grand puzzles, which immediately disappear if the contradictory premise, HIV is not the cause of AIDS is adopted.

CriticNYC said...

Gus again: I am writing to protest about the irresponsible screening of the film House of Numbers, which appears to claim that it is a legitimate scientific proposition to question whether HIV causes AIDS.

Evidently for Gus the scientific literature on the topic of his own supposed ailment is a closed book. If only he would read Duesberg's papers, and examine the complete lack of response on the same peer reviewed level in the same journals. But science, to Gus, is apparently a baffling library of expertise which he is willing to take on faith, given the high positions of those he listens to.

Gus: It is not; the evidence that HIV causes AIDS is quite simply overwhelming and it is intellectually perverse to deny it. I will no longer even engage in arguments with denialists, as to do so it to argue with an inflexible ideology.

This is standard boilerplate for HIV defenders - the word "overwhelming" is invoked like some kind of mantra, a blanket claim which by its very nature suggests lack of specifics. A lot of people would like to know what this overwhelming evidence is, including Bob Gallo. Perhaps Gus should let him know. (Fact: HIV=AIDS is entirely unproven, and all evidence so far is against it.)

The second sentence is also interesting, a cliche formulation created by none other that John Moore of Cornell and other rabid HIV defenders in the US, in between calling up the institutions and other employers of HIV critics in the US to demand that they lose their jobs, a vile and revealing tactic which has been successful in some cases.

Here it serves to confirm that Gus is by his own account deaf to reason, and content to reside in an uninformed state if anyone tries to enlighten him with the difficulties HIV theorists have in explaining how their fantasy can be reconciled with reality ("we still don't understand how it kills T cells, how it spreads, why it is wholly gay everywhere else but South Africa, as de Cock noted etc etc).

Gus: I am glad to see that your own website takes a highly sceptical view of the film, and acknowledges that many of the researchers interviewed in the film have since protested that they were made to appear as if they questioned the cause of AIDS by selective quotation and editing.

Gus is glad that a completely false statement which these merry folk have been unable to justify in any respect at all is carried on the web site of the film organizers as if it were valid? The filmmakers have challenged them to produce one example of this misquoting and misleading context, and none has been offered. The claim is as specious as the equally unspecific "the evidence is overwhelming".

Gus again: These letters and comments are far more eloquent than I could be about House of Numbers. To Dan’s letter, however, I would like to add that I too personally knew some of the AIDS denialists he mentions. I debated and argued with the likes of David Pasquarelli, Huw Christie, and Christine Maggiore, urged them to change their minds, and mourned their passing, For anyone to have died for false beliefs is a tragedy, and these are people who, if only they had not been misled by AIDS denialism, could have been great campaigners on behalf of people with HIV.

Christine Maggiore did not die of AIDS symptoms, and neither did her child, by the way. To imply she was a victim of AIDS is a prime example of how the credulous in this arena believe in fantasy which they could easily check, and peddle it to others without the least regard to those who suffer the social consequences.

CriticNYC said...

Gus rolls on: When films like House of Numbers get screened, the question of screening them is always framed as a Free Speech issue, and the comparison is often made, as you have done, with creationism. But AIDS denialism is different from creationism, because it kills.

Yes indeed it is a free speech issue, but unlike creationism, it is based on giving the public the information in the scientific literature which is being hidden from the public at the moment by such people as Gus barring discussion and trying to censor a highly informative film.

Gus again misleads the festival organisers: Denying the theory of evolution may only murder science; denying that HIV causes AIDS murders real people. Last year a study by Harvard Medical School found that South African government would have prevented the premature deaths of 365,000 people if it had provided antiretroviral drugs early in the decade, as its neighbour Botswana has done, when the extension of HIV treatment to South Africa was first merged. Instead, a president duped by AIDS denialists allowed his countrymen to lose 3.8 million person-years of life.

This claim, one of the many shames of Harvard in this field since it began, is a piece of propaganda which rests on the premise HIV causes AIDS, which is precisely the issue that AIDS dissidents raised with Mbeki, who alone among leading politicians looked into the matter himself, and quickly saw that the issue was unresolved among scientists, contrary to the claims of HIV defenders.

Until the issue is properly aired in public and resolved, there remains an overwhelming question as to whether HIV does anything at all to people, and to stand in the way of free speech and progress towards a review and reexamination of the question by lawyers, politicians, media and other intelligent people of influence who might correct the situation is to maintain a situation where suffering and death is continuing which judged on the basis of the evidence and the unrefuted arguments in the literature are entirely needless.

It is this roadblock erected and manned by everyone involved in HIV from Fauci to Gus which must be removed and for which in the end they will have to take responsibility.

In the end, in fact, they may be accused of trying to maintain a mass murder of their own kind, if they are gay. This is where the shame and self degradation Gus refers to may be truly operative - in the self immolation of a gay generation in a medical fiction, for the sole reason that it saves them from taking the responsibility for their own unhappy fate - which began as immune collapse from recreational drugs.

Gus again: AIDS denialism is seductive: it clicks with many people’s suspicions about Big Pharma, colonialism, and the victimisation of gay men, black people, and drug users. People, especially journalists and people in the media, I find, want to believe in it because it supports a conspiracy-theory view of the world.

Conspiracy theories are rampant on the Web and popular for many reasons, but HIV dissidents are not claiming a grand knowing conspiracy, but massive resistance to changing a paradigm on which labs, careers, journals, wives, children, dogs, self respect, social acceptance, etc etc have all come to depend. This resistance to review which Gus embodies is the problem, not some secret arrangement between those in charge of the levers of power.

The wonder is that all those leaders in HIV/AIDS who benefit have through the quirks of psychology and politics the undying (till they actually die) support of an army of fellow travelers such as Gus, including those who assume they are defending science when they are in fact protecting nonsense from scientific examination, and including those who take “meds” and suffer the consequences.

CriticNYC said...

Gus ends: If you are HIV positive it may also be a way to avoid victimisation and deny deeply-buried shame about being HIV positive, and in situations where antiretroviral drugs are not available it provides hope.

It’s not true, however, and has led many people to their grave.


A sad and perhaps even moving rationalization of faith, and affirmation by affirmation.

Science, however, is not determined by the firmness of faith in any prevailing belief, or by speculating as to the motives and emotions involved on either side.

What Gus and everybody needs to do is look behind the curtain HIV defenders have raised around the scientific literature and read it for themselves, if they can. It is not difficult. What is difficult is to resist the overwhelming pressure exerted against doing any such thing by people such as Gus, and their leaders.

CriticNYC said...

Short of that, the best substitute is House of Numbers - see it for yourself: the sorry story of a grand error, confessed by the HIV-AIDS leaders themselves.

Neuroskeptic said...

A good rule of thumb in cases like this is "Ben Goldacre is Right".

Obviously he's not always right... but he is, basically, always right.

Snout said...

CriticNYC said:

"Snout, your research skills seem to be seriously wanting. The paper was not withdrawn, let us repeat, perhaps in vain, since you pay insufficient attention, it was unmounted, taken down, erased from their display on line by the publishers of Medical Hypotheses..."

Pining for the fjords, perhaps?

http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/S0306-9877(09)00447-2/abstract

This is an Ex-Paper.

Tony said...

i don't see a problem that the film includes interviews of very specific people from the denialist movement. isn't that the whole point... to show that there is an opposing viewpoint?

To criticize using those people, then you should also criticize him interviewing people like Gallo, who come from the alternate viewpoint of the denialists.

Its never 'dangerous' to question science. It dangerous not to question it. Denialists aren't telling people to have unsafe sex or shun meds... Simply just to think for yourself.

(but it IS pretty stupid to take an immune suppressive drug to treat a supposed immune deficient disease, methinks, but hey... who am i to judge?).

CriticNYC said...

Alas Tony, you are more than right. Taking immune defeating drugs to cure a condition caused by too many immune defeating drugs is not exactly smart. But then the minds of HIV enthusiasts have been frozen by terror and shame into trusting their doctors even as they are sent down the rat hole together with the funding billions spent on their supposed relief. Meanwhile like a bunch of terrified mice they chorus the party line conducted by their Cheshire cat leaders.

How grown men can believe they are being attacked by a virus of a type know to be harmless (pace Bob Gallo and his absurd HTLV-1, still paying him royalties I imagine, and pace Max Essex and his cat terror, another richly rewarding claim I believe) which is not present in their bodies to any discernible level (except with geometrically multiplying PCR tests) after antibodies have asserted their dominance, and how they can believe in those antibodies as an indication of looming immune dysfunction, and how they can believe the darn thing is sexually transmissible by heterosexuals when Nancy Padian was unable to come up with ONE instance of transmission among hundreds of couples of which one was positive and the other negative over ten years study when nearly fifty were taking no precautions whatsoever, that's right, NONE, let alone the question of how antibodies could transmit positivity, let alone how the dreaded non infectious epidemic could be heterosexual in Southern Africa and gay everywhere else, etc etc etc etc is impossible to fathom except by ratcheting up one's expectation of stupidity among the human race when under stress, which is in fact an established scientific result - that stress defeats the operation of the brain, particularly in underlings.

To a scientist all that the HIV and ARV enthusiasts are exhibiting here and elsewhere is the stupidity of the submissive section of the human race, which is to be expected, scientifically speaking. However, it is up to the more dominant humans to lead them correctly according to the truth as ascertained by the proper application of scientific reason and evidence.

In that regard we humbly apologize to Snout for disapproving of his use of the word "withdrawn" in regard to Duesberg's paper at Medical Hypotheses, the current scandal of HIV-AIDS censorship politics. For we see he is correct in repeating the word from the website of the publisher. But we must insist that the word is wrongly used, and that Snout, a stickler for precision in all things in his ongoing hunt for flaws he imagines he detects in Duesberg and House of Numbers, should not copy this error.

The paper was not withdrawn it was forcibly removed without the permission of the author for spurious reasons advanced by HIV defenders who frightened the uninformed businessmen at Elsevier with the prospect of having hordes of agitators waving placards descend on their office building and accuse them of mass murder.

The insane truth of HIV-AIDS politics is that the ones guilty of mass murder are the HIV defenders who refuse to allow this can of worms to be opened for fear the public and the press not to mention Congress would run them out of town or worse.

The peak of the insanity is that the victims of their mass murder, if they are HIV footsoldiers who take the meds a la Gus above, are themselves.

In the history of the theater of tragic irony this beats even the Greeks.

Sorry, Euripides.

guscairns said...

Two brief comments:

To anonymous: If you've stayed well off HIV treatments ever since the Concorde trial then don't you think your experience would be of value to people interested in researching the cause of AIDS?

To CriticNYC: Thanks for the tremendous and revealing compliment of anatomising every single word I say :)

Gus

CriticNYC said...

Gus, your missive was worthy of deconstruction, being well phrased and passionate in style, which as Oscar Wilde would surely agree, is the main thing in self expression, with factual accuracy something to be dealt with later if at all.

Not only is the truth rarely pure and never simple, especially if left in the hands of the scoundrels who would mislead you by selling you a poisoned cake, but they have concealed it fairly well from the public eye, Thus the true estimates of AIDS deaths are hidden at CISID and UNAIDS, so that the average mortal and media hack can't know where to find them.

See an upcoming post at scienceguardian.com on this sleight of hand, which hides the key title point of House of Numbers - the utter flatulent absurdity of the stats. For example, the UNAIDS figures for AIDS deaths in the US as mentioned above are now 22,000, up from 17,000 in 200 and 2001, where they settled after the enormous bulge from 17000 in 1990 to 59,000 in 1995 caused by the introduction of AZT at full blast, which subsided after they reduced it to a quarter of the dose with David Ho's cocktail approach, celebrated with a cover by Time magazine as a breakthrough.

How very wise were your instincts to avoid that poison at the time. We wonder why you then got caught by this grotesque fairy tale later. Presumably it was that like so many people, you just couldn't hold out in the end if the entire social circle you know and love belongs to the same church. Not to mention of course your public duties with respect to passing along HIV/AIDS lore as promulgated by the church elders with day jobs at NIAID and the drug companies.

I remember encountering a Belgian scientist, who started a very large and successful company, at the Papal Academy of Science in Rome in one of its meetings a while back. He said he was very surprised to hear that Duesberg had been right all along. He has assumed, he said, after seeing that Duesberg had all the arguments and evidence in his favor early on, that he had been shown up later and proved to be wrong with time, simply because he had stopped hearing about him.

Thus the furtive but extraordinarily powerful censorship of Duesberg's views via social and professional ostracism and withdrawal of support for his NIH funding, which frightens off even good men and women from publicly supporting him, had the desired effect - to sideline him as an influence, even as HIV defenders protest he has received notice on the Web, by which they mean that they have had a chance to ignorantly trounce him with insults and specious proofs that he doesn't know his epidemiology etc etc, as if casual amateur objection and brickbat flinging is the level where true science is sorted out.

Of course the sad truth is that this is exactly how science is practiced in the twisted scientific field of HIV/AIDS, where huge amounts of funding and the white hot politics of gays fighting for their rights and health, and even the allure of international celebrity for scientists, have distorted the scientific literature, which can no longer be relied on as trustworthy without independent review.

For example, the UNAIDS estimate of 22,000 AIDS deaths in the US for 2007 is bordered by a low estimate of 9,000 and a high estimate of 54,000. House of Numbers indeed!

But I am mainly referring to the study literature where all is corrupted and infested with this overriding premise that HIV is what is causing immune deficiency, a proposition that stank when it was first tried out by Gallo in 1984, and has won absolutely nothing to recommend it since except the fervent support of thos who exploit it. But if you challenge it in public, you must wave goodbye to your career.

CriticNYC said...

House of Numbers is the movie version of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale where the child cries out, "The emperor has no clothes!" All you have to do is see it with eyes wide open.

My advice to thoughtful people who see the film and realize what is going on is to go along with all this nonsense publicly but save yourself from it privately, as so many people have been doing all along.

Cynical perhaps, but this is a system that eats its own children.

Anonymous said...

Gus

i took aprt in a number trials during the early nineties. it nearly killed me.

if you think i will voluntarily return to anything resembling such as the kobler centre so that scientists can try themselves out on me - then you are dead wrong.

all they have accomplished so far is kill people slower using ARV's. thats all. all they do is suck you into their HIV/AIDS world until you really do get sick.

And then thats where they want you - so they can care you to death. I will never ever go back there! Instead i will live my life as normal as possible and fight this humiliation any way possible. any sane person that values his or her own life should do the same - and for the sake of our human rights, which are violated with every ARV pill some one swallows in the name of profit.

Snout said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Snout said...

Thank you, CriticNYC, for demonstrating why a "scientific debate" with HIV/AIDS denialists is pointless. In reference to US HIV/AIDS deaths you just claimed:

"...the enormous bulge from 17000 in 1990 to 59,000 in 1995 caused by the introduction of AZT at full blast, which subsided after they reduced it to a quarter of the dose with David Ho's cocktail approach."

As has been explained to you numerous times, the adult dose of AZT used as monotherapy or dual therapy in clincal practice from 1992 to 1995 was 500-600 mg daily, exactly the same dose that was used in the more effective "cocktails" of subsequent years.

If you'd listened to the podcast Caspar linked and read the attached thread, you'd realise that it was his own uncritical acceptance of the selfsame denialist factoid and his subsequent correction that led him to take a closer and more skeptical look at HIV/AIDS denialist claims.

In doing so he provided a splendid demonstration of the difference between true skepticism - which involves a critical examination of claims - and denialism - which is simply mindless regurgitation in the face of contrary evidence, padded out with bombast and vague allusions to conspiracy and maleficence.

CriticNYC said...

Oh dear Snout thinks he has detected a truffle in my claim that patient health correlates with AZT dose - inversely.

Was I conned by AIDS-denialists? Is Snout rescuing me from a false impression, one not even created by a dentist?

Is the NIH good enough for you Snout?

Drug Name: Zidovudine [USAN:INN:BAN:JAN] [show more names]
Description: A dideoxynucleoside compound in which the 3'-hydroxy group on the sugar moiety has been replaced by an azido group. This modification prevents the formation of phosphodiester linkages which are needed for the completion of nucleic acid chains. The compound is a potent inhibitor of HIV replication, acting as a chain-terminator of viral DNA during reverse transcription. It improves immunologic function, partially reverses the HIV-induced neurological dysfunction, and improves certain other clinical abnormalities associated with AIDS. Its principal toxic effect is dose-dependent suppression of bone marrow, resulting in anemia and leukopenia.

See http://druginfo.nlm.nih.gov/drugportal/ProxyServlet?mergeData=true&objectHandle=DBMaint&APPLICATION_NAME=drugportal&actionHandle=default&nextPage=jsp/drugportal/ResultScreen.jsp&TXTSUPERLISTID=030516871&QV1=ZIDOVUDINE

AZT produces AIDS on cue

Re the year by year dosage trend, I'll post tomorrow, with references. But the implication that AZT is not responsible for the illness and eventual deaths of AIDS patients is laughable to anybody with a PDR.

Snout, have you ever troubled to read the entry?

Snout said...

Veterans of similar "debates" with HIV/AIDS "dissidents" will be familiar with the five common rhetorical tactics commonly used by denialists: conspiracy, selectivity (cherry-picking), fake experts, impossible expectations (also known as moving goalposts), and general fallacies of logic.

http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/about.php

CriticNYC has kindly provided a specimen of the second of these, apparently under the illusion that readers won't bother reading the sentence immediately before the one he has bolded:

"It [AZT] improves immunologic function, partially reverses the HIV-induced neurological dysfunction, and improves certain other clinical abnormalities associated with AIDS."

Alert readers will also note the irrelevance of the bolded satement to CriticNYC's claim that survival with HIV/AIDS improved following the introduction of HAART from 1996 on because the AZT doses were lowered. The doses of AZT used in HAART were identical to those used in mono- and dual therapy in the period 1992-5.

Gos said...

Snout wrote, "Thank you, CriticNYC, for demonstrating why a 'scientific debate' with HIV/AIDS denialists is pointless."

Hey Snout -- what "scientific debate" have you attempted with us?

The last time I checked, it was neither considered "scientific" nor is it considered "debate" to start off with innuendo concerning the motivations of one's opponents, attributing it to denial and/or some as-yet-unsubstantiated vendetta.

Speaking of which, how are you coming with the substantiation for that vendetta?

I will, however, concede to you 100% that I have every reason to want to be in denial even if HIV were the cause of AIDS, and you nailed it on the head when you pointed out that this is specifically because of the stigma and discrimination I've faced ever since first testing positive on an HIV test.

But it's not denial to look Chicken Little right in his beady little eyes and say, "That was an acorn, you dolt! Now quit bothering me and go play with that kid who keeps crying 'wolf!'"

[cont'd below]

Gos said...

[cont'd from above]

I'd like to take a moment to share just a small piece of the discrimination I face as an HIV-positive.

And I want to stress that this is JUST one small slice of the discrimination pie that I've been forced to swallow. This is just a small taste of the discrimination I face, but it's one of the more important items, because it directly affects the quality of health care that I receive.

For the first 30 years of my life, I had Crohn's disease, and multiple autoimmune diseases including asthma, juvenile diabetes, and unusually severe allergic sensitivities. The day I tested positive on an HIV test, I was instantly "cured" of all of these diseases, and now if I have diarrhea, chronic inflammation, chronic infection, respiratory complaints, rash, or any other manifestation of any of these diseases, that's called "HIV disease" instead and instead of getting the normal treatment that I'd get for these diseases, the only option offered to me by doctors is ARVs.

[cont'd below]

Gos said...

[cont'd from above]

A bit more than a year ago, I sought the advice of an allergist/immunologist for treatment of allergies that nearly killed me with "AIDS-related" pneumonia in Nobember of 2000. (It turned out later that the pneumonia was caused by living in an apartment with unrepaired damage from a 6-foot flood that had occurred about 5 years before I'd moved in.)

Since that experience, I've managed to recover my health for the most part, but my allergies still do pose a pretty serious threat to my health and my life, because my allergic sensitivities have been elevated ever since (and I was already ultra-sensitive to begin with.) Regardless of my actual HIV status or whether you believe that HIV causes AIDS, I have these allergies and they are a serious health issue for me, and they require appropriate medical treatment.

On my first visit with this doctor, I mentioned my suspicions that my other health issues were causing me to test false-positive.

On the next visit, I learned that instead of doing the allergy tests I'd requested, she'd used up all of my blood for an HIV test and related tests (CD4/CD8 count, etc.)

On the basis of these tests, she diagnosed "HIV disease" with a side of denial.

This diagnosis was based on 3 facts:

1) My CD4 count was normal. That's right -- I have "HIV disease" because my CD4 count was normal (748 to be precise.) This was because my CD8 count was twice what it should have been, resulting in an inverted CD4/CD8 ratio.

When I asked my doctor how HIV causes an increase in CD8 counts rather than suppressing CD4's like it's supposed to, she suddenly developed an inexplicable inability to look me in the eye, and insisted that my question was outside her specialty (bear in mind that 5 minutes earlier she'd diagnosed "HIV disease" and "denial" without a psychology degree that I know of, and apparently "HIV disease" is outside the specialty of immunology.)

2) My Westergren Sedimentation Rate was elevated. According to Labcorp, the WSR is "used to evaluate the nonspecific activity of infections, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disorders, and plasma cell dyscrasias."

So in other words the sed rate is a non-specific marker for inflammation -- it may be due to infection, but it might as easily be from non-infectious autoimmune disorders the very likes of which I'd sought this doctor's care to begin with.

3) My Anti-Nuclear Antibody (ANA) titer was extremely elevated.

I looked and looked, but I have yet to find a scientific article linking elevated ANAs to actual HIV infection.

However, I was able to find three papers that linked high ANA titers with an increased risk of testing false positive on an HIV test. [1. Dock N, Lamberson H, O'Brien T, et al. 1988. Evaluation of atypical human immunodeficiency virus immunoblot reactivity in blood donors. Transfusion. 28:142 2. Steckelberg JM, Cockerill F. 1988. Serologic testing for human immunodeficiency virus antibodies. Mayo Clin. Proc. 63:373 3. Yoshida T, Matsui T, Kobayashi M, et al. 1987. Evaluation of passive particle agglutination test for antibody to human immunodeficiency virus. J. Clin. Micro. Aug:1433]

So not only are the clinical manifestations inconsistent with what we should expect of actual HIV disease, they are absolutely consistent with the very autoimmune diseases for which I sought treatment.

Gos said...

[cont'd from above]

When I inquired about the allergy tests, I learned that the lab had run out of my blood without doing the IgE tests.

When I asked for more blood to be drawn to run those tests, she said, "I don't see why -- all that's going to tell us is your allergy status." (And the whole reason I'd sought the advice of an allergist/immunologist was...?)

I insisted, and she ran the IgE tests just to humor me. When the results came back, I'd scored as allergic on 12 out of 15 IgE tests, and on 7 of these, the count was above the median of the range.

In other words, I'm allergic to 80% of the allergens I was tested for, and my allergies are more severe than average on about half of them.

Now, at this point it doesn't matter whether you believe that I actually have HIV or whether you believe that HIV causes AIDS. You cannot deny that allergies like mine are a serious health risk and must be treated appropriately.

And yet, I still have yet to get a single word of advice from this doctor concerning the treatment of my allergies. She insists that everything is caused by HIV regardless of my normal CD4 count, and refuses to treat me unless I seek the care of an ID specialist for ARV treatment.

Now let's say that a hypothetical patient didn't have HIV, but he did have a history of severe allergies that had caused pneumonia on more than one occasion and had nearly killed him already at least once. But instead of treating his allergies, his doctors kept prescribing AIDS cocktail drugs.

What do you think might eventually happen to that patient? Do you think he might possibly develop pneumonia at some point in the future, even without HIV? Might he even die of pneumonia in the absence of appropriate treatment for the cause of the pneumonia?

Now, let's say this hypothetical patient is someone like me -- HIV-positive. What do you think my doctors would call it if I died of pneumonia?

So yes, I absolutely agree with you, Snout, when you say that I have every reason to be in denial.

However, the fact that I have every reason to be in denial doesn't mean that HIV actually exists or that it causes AIDS.

Can you actually offer published, peer-reviewed proof that HIV exists and causes AIDS, or can you only offer innuendo that certain people have vendettas and others are in denial?

And can you even offer substantiation of your vendetta allegations, much less the things you claim are scientific facts?

You're on the spot here, Snout. You've made a lot of claims and allegations without offering a shred of corroborable substantiation. You claim that this is "scientific debate", but it is neither scientific, nor is it debate.

Our side of this debate have demanded evidence from your side for more than 20 years now, and as always all you can offer are innuendo, name-calling, and ad hominem attacks. This is exactly why so many are demanding the answers to the questions raised in House of Numbers.

--- Gos

Snout said...

@Gos, if as you say you have been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, you are presumably under the ongoing care of a qualified physician.

That's the person who has been prescribing the insulin that you have been injecting 2-4 times per day for the last 30 years or so. [As you are well aware, juvenile or type I diabetes is rapidly fatal without regular insulin.]

You should ask your physician to refer you to appropriate specialists in gastroenterology, allergy and infectious diseases to advise you about your other health issues.

Demanding that random individuals on the internet debate your medical status with you when they do not have access to your complete medical history is, well, pointless trolling.

But thanks for not confusing me with someone else this time.

Gos said...

Snout,

Whups, I misspoke -- I meant to say "Juvenile arthritis" not diabetes.

My bad.

--- Gos

Gos said...

Snout wrote: "You should ask your physician to refer you to appropriate specialists in gastroenterology, allergy and infectious diseases to advise you about your other health issues."

The last time I checked, juvenile arthritis, Crohn's disease, and allergies were all autoimmune diseases, and well within the specialty of an allergist/immunologist such as the one from whom I sought treatment last year.

I have not asked anyone here to debate my medical status. I think I've made it pretty plain that I was presenting an example of the medical discrimination that HIV-positives such as myself face when we seek treatment for diseases unrelated to HIV.

--- Gos

Snout said...

Whups, I misspoke -- I meant to say "Juvenile arthritis" not diabetes.

Well, that explains why the insulin injections weren't working.

Seriously, Gos, what is the point of posting your laundry list of medical complaints here, particularly when you seem to have difficulty distinguishing conditions as widely divergent as arthritis and diabetes?

Anonymous said...

snout

if you dont get the point - who cares. i do. and making an error with regards to diabetes versus arthritis doesnt mean some one is unable to distinguish between the two. you never made a mistake? are you that arrogant and perfect that you are always writing error free the first time round?

it is exactly that kind of arrogant attitude that drove me away from the aids orthodoxy.

in the end i die when taking medication based on your advise. not you. so come off your high horse and for once, ONCE ONLY, provide the answers we demand:

how exactly does hiv cause aids?
where is the evidence that hiv has been DIRECTLY isolated?
how can you justify spending 300 billion so far on aids when the actual infection rate is less than 1%? out of the 16000 volunteers of the breakthrough vaccine trial in thailand less than 1% of the 8000 strong placebo arm became infected with HIV! google it yourself. 1%!!! and that is supposedly a disease that some how has cost the lives fo 25 million? how at an infection rate that low! any one with half a brain can see the holes in all of this!

and then you have the nerve to ridicule us? humiliate us?

i demand an end to this mass murder - because that is what this is!

Gos said...

Snout wrote: "Seriously, Gos, what is the point of posting your laundry list of medical complaints here, particularly when you seem to have difficulty distinguishing conditions as widely divergent as arthritis and diabetes?"

IF it's any of your business, I just happen to have diabetes on the brain right now because my father died last month of complications from diabetes, my older brother already has diabetes, and I am currently at about the same age when both my father and brother were diagnosed with diabetes.

As such, I've been doing a lot of research on diabetes lately, hoping to get a leg up on prevention before I actually have it.

So I brainfarted and wrote "diabetes" instead of "arthritis". Big whoop, Dr. Nick. Leave it to you to try to use a simple brainfart to prove that I'm too stupid to know the difference between diabetes and arthritis.

Which is yet another example of how you people operate. You can't refute the FACT that elevated ANAs cause false positives on HIV tests, you can't refute the FACT that autoimmune disease causes elevated ANAs, and you can't refute the FACT that I have several serious autoimmune diseases for which I cannot get appropriate treatment, specifically because of medical discrimination based on my alleged HIV status, and you cannot refute the FACT that these same pre-existing autoimmune diseases have already once caused me to develop pneumonia that was diagnosed as AIDS, and that without appropriate treatment this is likely to happen again.

And because you can't refute any of these FACTS, you choose instead to pick on a simple brainfart to try to portray me as some kind of idiot.

[cont'd below]

Gos said...

[Cont'd from above]

Snout wrote: "...what is the point of posting your laundry list of medical complaints here...?"

I've said it once, and you pretended you couldn't fathom why I was sharing my experience. So I said it again, and you still pretend that you don't know.

So since you are apparently so dense that you need things explained to you a third time, here you go, Dr. Nick:

I was presenting an example of the medical discrimination that HIV-positives such as myself face when we seek treatment for diseases unrelated to HIV.

Are you still going to pretend that you don't know why I'm talking about my healthcare experience, or was that plain enough for you?

And given that one cannot get appropriate treatment for potentially life-threatening conditions unrelated to HIV, this discrimination is potentially fatal to the patient in question.

Combine that with taking ARVs for a virus that doesn't exist in his blood (since the pre-existing autoimmune diseases cause him to test false-positive,) and you have a recipe for an AIDS death in someone who doesn't actually have HIV, but merely tests false-positive due to his misdiagnosed illness(es).

I've already shown you 3 studies that linked elevated ANAs to false-positives on HIV tests. I could easily add a dozen or so more which would link false-positives on HIV tests to AI conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus, hypergammaglobulinemia, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, etc.

If you'd like, can also cite about a dozen or so studies to show that at least seven of the factors known to cause false-positives on HIV tests apply to me and predated my poz diagnosis, including influenza antibodies, antibodies to herpes virus, chronic upper respiratory tract infection, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple autoimmune diseases, and elevated ANAs.

But you haven't attempted to address the first three studies I cited, (instead choosing to pick on a brainfart,) so why should I bother citing the other dozens of studies that I could cite, since you'll only ignore them as you already have the first three, and instead make a big deal out of me misspelling the last word of this centence?

By the way...Ever come up with that substantiation for Duesberg's "vendetta" against Gallo? No?

How's your luck coming with presenting proof that HIV exists and it causes AIDS? I'll bet it's about as bankrupt as your luck at finding documented evidence for the "Duesberg Vendetta" (it even sounds like a good title for a bad Tom Clancy novel ...or other work of fiction.)

--- Gos

Snout said...

@Neuroskeptic said:

"A good rule of thumb in cases like this is "Ben Goldacre is Right". Obviously he's not always right... but he is, basically, always right."

Ben includes in the posting "rules" for his Bad Science blog:

"I really don’t think it’s a good idea for you to post anecdotes about your own health problems and treatments here. It’s extremely unlikely that they will inform a discussion about evidence, and experience here suggests that you may become offended and angry when other commenters disagree with your interpretation (as they are very entitled to do). Invite people elsewhere to discuss your anecdote, and if they want to, they will follow your link."

From memory this is softer than an earlier version of this rule in which he decreed that any personal health anecdotes would be summarily deleted.

I don't have any illusions that Ben Goldacre is infallible, but gee it's amazing how often he nails it, eh?

Anonymous said...

interesting though how you still do not answer the question. instead you continue to hit low and foul.

oh well - wouldnt expect anything else. it seems that all you CAN do. divert from the actual issue:

how exactly does hiv cause aids?
when exactly was it directly isolated?
how exactly does hiv cause cd4 depletion?
why does the placebo arm of the vaccine breakthrough recently reported have a transmission rate of less than 1%? why was there practically no trasnmission rate in the padia study? why are millions of people that are HIV+ well and healthy and not dying?

you never answer any of this snout. instead you just come up with arrogant statements. you have no proof, no evidence, yet you advocate ARV treatment. that on its own is man slaughter on a grand scale. i hope you can seel at night.

CriticNYC said...

Snout/Chris Noble said: "CriticNYC has kindly provided a specimen of the second of these, apparently under the illusion that readers won't bother reading the sentence immediately before the one he has bolded:

"It [AZT] improves immunologic function, partially reverses the HIV-induced neurological dysfunction, and improves certain other clinical abnormalities associated with AIDS."

Alert readers will also note the irrelevance of the bolded statement to CriticNYC's claim that survival with HIV/AIDS improved following the introduction of HAART from 1996 on because the AZT doses were lowered. The doses of AZT used in HAART were identical to those used in mono- and dual therapy in the period 1992-5."

I am happy for readers to read the previous sentence, Snout (is it possible that an HIV defending foot soldier chose such a revealing pseudonym? How hilariously appropriate!). AZT does paradoxically have some proven benefits for those such as your trusting followers who imbibe this slow poison. Studies have shown that the presence of selenium and zinc, both essential for the proper functioning of the immune system, are raised from the low levels which afflict AIDS patients ie those who suffer from the effects of recreational drugs, malnutrition and other genuine causes of immune dysfunction. May we suggest you read those studies and others to fill out your apparently deficient knowledge of AIDS and how it works, instead of spending your time posting misleading claims on Web comment threads? There is also the fact that AZT knocks out intestinal parasites as effectively as it harms the helpful flora and fauna of the human gut, so the patients in the US (gays who have been over exposed to the microbial inhabitants of the rear end) and in Africa (native blacks) can initially feel better, and recover from a low ebb, and then gratefully thank you, Dr Fauci, and other snake oil salesmen in HIV/AIDS for their beneficence, and with their psychological state improved from despair to elation, tell the world how HIV must be the culprit and that the "drugs work", and how admirable Bill Clinton is for greasing the wheels of delivery of said wonder drugs to the grateful recipients among the poor of Southern Africa.

In fact, however, the long term result is exactly the same as when AZT in full throttle was allowed to get rid of gays speedily in the late 80s and early nineties. Decline and eventual death for all those who are not sufficiently robust to conquer the toxicity day after month after year. As I pointed out above, the death rate has not only stayed above 17,000 for the US, where AIDS is broadly defined in a way the Europeans refuse to follow, thus feeding such drugs to more people, but in fact has recently gone up to an estimated 22,000 in 2007. You didn't know that, did you? A figure well concealed from the public.

Why is this? Because AZT and its fellow ARVs are poisonous to the patient, as everyone knows except you, it seems. The liver has trouble processing all the toxicity out of the system, and fails in the end. Check out the figures - how many AIDS patients die of liver failure? Hello? Snout? And is liver failure an AIDS symptom? Hello? Snout?

CriticNYC said...

Certainly the patients know that AZT and its replacements are toxic. It is because of their complaints to doctors that the dosages have been reduced and the patients allowed to go on drug holidays, and some refuse them altogether in the end (and seem to do so well, Snout, how do you explain that?) The original dose of AZT was 1500 mg or even 1600mg/day as I recall, and as you point out by 1992 was officially reduced to 500-600 mg/day. Dying through AZT takes time, so the bulge of deaths through AZT peaked in 1995, later than the change down.

Now we have recommended doses of 300 mg a day that I have seen – references tomorrow. And what by the way is your reference for the 1992-1995 figure, Oh generally misleading Snout?

I am sorry to see that the esteemed, anti religious and previously open minded host of this blog has now utterly abandoned his initial feeling that the vilified "denialists" who contradict the belief HIC caises AIDS has completed his back peddling and is not sure that they are totall wrong and briefly "conned" him into doubt.

What causes this kind of closing off of thought among even notoriously thoughtful people? It is you, Oh Snout truffler.

You and your ilk Snout make misleading claims on the Web which convince the foolish and the ignorant who share your basic premise that the conventional wisdom must be right because it is so firmly and globally established.
What they should do is read Duesberg and see for themselves what the true situation is. But you try to discourage and prevent them from doing so.

Why they should listen to you I do not know, given that the personal experience and the statistics of those who take AZT etc are so clear. You decline and die if you take AZT and its cousins and if you don't you live.

Why so many young dynamic alert and often creative gays should follow you and Anthony Fauci in deciding what to take is a mystery and powerfully suggests that medicine is plying its trade as usual by scaring people out of their wits and into infantile dependence of their doctors and the line scientists have fed everyone in this field.

But the loss of so many lives to iatrogenic drugs in AIDS often involving leading names in culture and the arts is a social massacre that you take responsibility for with every unfounded and ill thought post you write. Your first duty to society and to those you would lead by the nose is to read and understand the science first, not indulge yourself by writing twaddle to mislead others over the AZT=AIDS cliff.

But perhaps you get some kind of psychological kick out of it which all the reason and evidence in the world cannot shake. Only you know for sure.

CriticNYC said...

The answer to my question above, How many US AIDS patients die of liver failure, is as many as half.

Liver failure is not an AIDS symptom. It is a toxicity symptom. Drug toxicity.

Just dying slower than before 1992. All due to Snout's wonder drugs!

22,000 a year in the US die of AIDS. That would be 11,000 dying of the drugs.

Not that one can credit this figure of 22,000 for sure, anyway. It is acknowledged a wild guesstimate by NIAIDS.

Probably half of them are dying of fear and despair and whatever other ills are listed on the AIDS symptoms list, which includes everything but traffic accidents.

Snout, should we object to the CDC? Why isn't a traffic fatality with HIV antibodies in his/her blood counted an AIDS victim?

We should demand to know.

Oh you tried? Sorry. Should have known.

CriticNYC said...
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CriticNYC said...
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CriticNYC said...

Correction, sorry:

I am sorry to see that the esteemed, anti religious and previously open minded host of this blog has now utterly abandoned his initial feeling that the vilified "denialists" who contradict the belief HIV causes AIDS seem to have a point, and has completed his back peddling and is now sure that they are totally wrong and only briefly "conned" him into doubt.

Tony said...

above, someone commented on the fact that if a poz person was truly symptom free for 20+ years, they should allow themselves to be studied.

for me, to imply that shows that you do not understand the terrain. There is no doctor out there who'd have any motivation to study such a person. Studies are funded by Pharma companies. Pharma companies do not care why a person not on pharma is able to survive. I'm not judging Pharma. They are a business. There is simply no money to be made from the knowledge yielded by studying the "long-term nonprogressors" (LTNP).

Whats more... even if someone DID study a LTNP, they are not going to find any relevant data. There is nothing physiologically or genetically different about a LTNP verse a non-LTNP. I don't believe the term LTNP is even valid. I think all poz people are inherently LTNP's. They just don't know it... They are swayed by fear and stress, take toxic meds, all of which makes them sick which perpetuates the belief of being a sick person.

Seth Kalichman said...

Casper, were you conned?

Yes you were.

Don’t feel bad though. House of Numbers places scientist next to pseudoscientists, AIDS activists along side of AIDS denialists. Anthony Fauci is made to look like a conspirator while Peter Duesberg is presented as a modern Galileo. The late anti-denialst Martin Delaney looks like a denialist crack pot while the late Christine Maggiore appears rational. If anything, we learn that scientists should vet anyone with a camera before opening their mouths.

As you can see from the comments on this thread, the AIDS Deniers live in a different universe. Psychiatrists call this an encapsulated delusion. Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy is a new book that offers psychological insight on AIDS Denialism and all of the royalties buy HIV meds in Africa.
Seth Kalichman
http://denyingaids.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Seth Kalichman

to me you are not much better than Goebbels was to Hitler: great in twisting words, great in repeating the lie until people believe it.

Fauci does not appear irational - he is. Christine Maggiore was more than rational. And so is Peter Duesberg. who to this date is still a leading scientist.

No matter how you twist words, no matter how you have betrayed our trust as patients, i have absolutely no respect for some one who so desperately clings to a theory that so obviously is woring.

in the above thread i have asked snout some very simple questions. i have asked him these same questions on other threats.

BUT OTHER THAN INSULTS - THERE ARE NO ANSWERS! even the most recent 'aids vaccine' breakthrough is so obviously full of facts such as a less than 1% infection rate in the placebo control arm that received no vaccine. doesnt that already speak volumes?

i pray for the day seth kelichman where i can see your face when the whole tyhing goes belly up. what will you say then? i just followed orders? wer heard that befre. and you wont get away with that lame excuse then!

Anonymous said...

You have just persuaded me not to buy the New Humanist if I can avoid it.

Snout said...

"You have just persuaded me not to buy the New Humanist if I can avoid it."

Yes, but it's not that easy to avoid, Anonymous.

Just this morning I was on my way to the shops when a gang of Freethinkers pounced on me, wrestled me to the ground and prised £3.95 out of my hand before shoving a rolled-up copy of their Humanist magazine into my pocket.

Besides, how else are you going to complete your set of God Trumps cards?

Bennett said...

@Tony. There are many many studies looking at LTNP's. We know that some of them have gene mutations in the virus. Others have gene mutations in their immune system. Others have a particularly strong anti-HIV immune response.

I have reviewed some of these here and others have done more extensive reviews. The primary literature is all over PubMed.

Not only have LTNP's been snapped up by those doctors who want to understand HIV and AIDS better, but they may point the way to better treatments and vaccines.

In fact, the fusion inhibitors and receptor blockers were investigated as a direct result of discovering that people with mutations in these genes did better.

@Gos

No, I'm not Snout. I'm really not sure how on Earth you came to that conclusion. I have always posted as Bennett (my real name).

Both Tony's and Gos's comments reek of anti-establishment and conspiracy. Of COURSE there are Docs who want to investigate LTNP's - because research is what some of us do for a living! The fact that the assumption that Doc's wouldn't want to investigate LTNP's is false just goes to demonstrate denialist thinking and how reliable it is...

As for Gos's fascination with me...I'm flattered, and the longer he goes on in this vein the longer he'll look like a prat. I guess his refusal to accept the facts is yet another demonstration of denialist thinking...

Paul Sims said...

We're closing comments on this post now. As I say on the other related post, this is not something we would usually do, but when "discussions" degenerate into the same people returning again and again to post thousand upon thousands of words, much of which is clearly copied and pasted, then we draw a line.