Tuesday, 3 November 2009

How to spot an AIDS denialist

Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.

Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

When I got taken in by an AIDS denial film a while back, in amongst the scoldings from outraged rationalists (including Ben Goldacre) I got this message from one Seth Kalichman: "You have no reason to feel bad about this. AIDS denialists are very convincing. They are a mix of narcissists and conmen. I think I know these guys and what makes them tick as well as anyone can. It is extremely easy to buy into their crap."

Kalichman is the author of Denying AIDS, a definitive account of the global AIDS denial movement. While researching the book he went undercover and met many of the key players, including Peter Duesberg (that's undercover-Seth on the right with Duesberg in the picture). And he proves he does know these guys well, in the piece he kindly wrote for New Humanist exposing the sinister tactics of the denialists, as well the motives of this strange band of shysters and victims. It's a brilliant piece. I urge you to read it.


TD said...

The "impure virus" gambit is actually steeped in irony, and the explanation for its origin dispenses with two denialist canards in one go.

The tendency for gradient-purified HIV to also contain microvesicle contaminants results from another capacity of the virus that denialists deny: it's ability to cause cell death.


"HIV-1 infection leads to pronounced cytopathic effects in the later stages of infection, causing release of cellular vesicles which tend to copurify with virions (16, 37). For preparation of high-titered HIV-1 stocks devoid of major cellular contaminants, it would therefore appear optimal to harvest virus from a synchronized infection of highly productive cells at an early time point, well before cell lysis occurs."

This electron micrograph shows purified virions obtained by this method of earlier harvesting (panels E & F):


And this image is from another study that used the same approach, it shows multiple purified virions:


And they look just like the photos of purified Friend virus that AIDS denialists say retroviruses are supposed to look like:


obmode said...

www.twitter.com/hivquestions ~ www.youtube.com/hivquestions (and healing alternatives)

Anonymous said...

Why don't you replace the epithet "denialist" with another epithet?

Perhaps it should read, "How to spot a nigger."

It is essentially the same thing isn't it? Or maybe how to spot a commie? You are our new Modern McCarthy.

Cheers to you Professor Kalichman

Chris Noble said...

TD, the "pure virus" goalposts have been moved when you weren't looking.

The denialists, or at least one faction, are now denying the existence of the Friend Virus.


and as a response to "Anonymous" this pattern of moving the goalposts and impossible to fulfill criteria is just one of the reasons why 'denialist' is a better description than 'skeptic', 'dissident', 'rethinker' or any other term that they would like to use to describe themselves. There is one single common theme - deny the evidence.

Jaime said...

You have written nothing that would convince me NOT to question the hiv=aids=death orthodoxy.
You said they are looking to make a "quick buck." But I don't know if that's enough for me, because the same could be said of Big Pharma who push toxic anti-retrovirals, who are making billions off of this.
And if they've isolated HIV, why do the tests only look for antibodies?
Everyone should be a skeptic in all regards of our health and the officials who claim to have our best interests at heart while they're holding hands with pharmaceutical companies.

Clone said...

TD & Noble,

The things they grew and "isolated" are molecular clones. Nobody denies that scientists are able to make those, but it has nothing to do with original purification isolation and identification of a novel virus.

Matti Virtanen said...

Actually, global warming denialists tend to deny global warming, not just the fallacy that all scientists agree about the extent of human impact on climate. You fall for the disingenious debating trick of lumping climate skeptics with the denialists. There is hardly another field of science so politicized that this trick is given a pass, even among humanists it seems.

John Lauritsen said...

Kalichman's sleazy article, which consists entirely of ad hominem attacks on good people, has been rebutted in my own article, "In Defence of AIDS Critics". This is published in the latest issue of *Gay & Lesbian Humanist* at:


John Lauritsen

Gene said...

The New Humanists refer to themselves as rationalists and free thinkers.

And yet, they can't recognize neo-medievalists like Kalichman, who advocate blind fealty to the Lords of Science.

Anyone who is awake and keeping up with Big Pharma and other multi-national corporations via empirical research can see the situation.

They want us to believe that only MDs can say what medical treatment compounds to put in our own bodies.

They don't know best, as empirical research clearly demonstrates.

For the economic part of neo-medievalism movement (or CONSPIRACY), see Michael Hudson at http://www.counterpunch.org/hudson03182009.html.

See also, for context in understanding the Kalichman's of the world, Robert Anton Wilson's "The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science".

The middle class is being reduced to a form of serfdom by those who really believe they are the New Lords.

Surely you can see this in the UK?


Elizabeth Ely said...

The fact that dissidents are sometimes dissident against each other is just a fact. It neither proves nor disproves anything we say, scientifically. It just means you might want to check out all sides and decide for yourself.

Science concludes things until more facts come in and it changes its mind.

The irrational, emotional response to scientific disagreement is telling. Aren't you really defending a "right" to your certainty? A certain trust in authority to always get things right and never have to explain how their theories work? A childlike view of the world, in which Daddy always has to be right or your world falls apart? What would it mean to you that the world is far more nuanced than you believe it to be? What would implode if that turned out to be true?

You're speaking from a world I do not understand, where ordinary people are not allowed to question things. You doubtless don't understand my world; it's probably scary and chaotic.

But isn't that what AIDS really "is" anyway? It's an attempt to bring order back into the world: through "safe sex," monogamy, categorizing people into neat boxes of "risk groups," confirmation of all our racist fears of "contamination" from the "dark continent," and stark and scary pronouncements from authority, telling us the sky is falling and what to do about it. I honest-to-God can't tell you what else AIDS is but that. Because in 18 years of studying this, no one has bothered to drop by the with the proof of HIV's isolation or that the tests even find or predict HIV. They find certain proteins, that's all. Nothing is there, but there certainly is a lot of something there when we talk about AIDS, isn't there? A lot of fear and paranoia and running to authority for certainty. A lot of hysterical responses and name-calling over . . . what? A simple question: Do the tests find HIV or don't they? Does HIV even exist? Not exactly something to get upset about, but a fear of your worldview falling in on you must surely be unnerving.