HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

Archive for March, 2009

How not to create a persona: Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #4

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/29

The publication of my HIV/AIDS book brought e-mails, phone calls, and even old-fashioned letters from a variety of individuals. A few of them smelled somehow wrong, for example, on 10th August 2007:

“FROM: “Joseph Newton” <joecnewton@gmail.com>
I have been reading about AIDS online and your name keeps coming up. You seem to have views on alernative theories of AIDS. I am wondering if you could point me to some of your writings on AIDS. I am eager to learn more.
Thank you for your time.
JCN”

If this guy has been reading about AIDS online, and my name kept popping up there, why didn’t he just go to the links to my writings? If where he saw my name didn’t have links, anyone going on-line for information would nowadays immediately Google and find those links; on-line searching would be easy, and much quicker than e-mailing a stranger whose receptivity is not known.
Funny coincidence, too, that he should have the family name of one of the world’s most famous scientists.
And I don’t like the carelessness, leaving that  typo, “alternative”. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but when I first approach someone from whom I’m asking a favor, I try to put my best foot forward and make an impression of being careful as well as literate.

But I gave “JCN” the benefit of doubt and responded substantively — with items that he would have known about if he really had seen my name popping up:

“The main thing I contribute that is new is an analysis of just about all the published HIV-test results for the USA. It shows that HIV is not a spreading infection and isn’t correlated with AIDS incidence. Therefore what HIV tests detect cannot be the cause of AIDS.
The most comprehensive discussion is in my book ‘The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory’ (McFarland 2007), more info at http://www.failingsofhivaidstheory.homestead.com
The book also discusses how it is possible for medical science to go so wrong, and how it went wrong in this instance
I published the analysis of HIV-test data earlier in 3 articles, and abstracts and pdf’s of those are at http://hivnotaids.homestead.com
I appreciate your interest and welcome comments on what I’ve written.
Best wishes”

The response was immediate:

“Thank you
This is all very helpful.
I have ordered your book.
I appreciate your being open to my asking more questions as I try to understand this all. I am an advanced graduate student in public health interested in the whole AIDS issue.
Thanks”

HELLO!
What’s going on here?
“an advanced graduate student”?!?
Who ever described himself like that?
The graduate students I’ve known identify themselves as master’s students or as doctoral students. What on earth is an “advanced” graduate student?!
And that makes the earlier typo even more surprising, because one of the few things for which I’ve envied modern-day students is their typing facility. Then too, “try to understand this all” doesn’t seem like an English-speaking individual.
Still, as a life-long teacher at the college level, my natural inclination is to overlook such infelicities and to strive to educate. But I couldn’t shake the suspicion that this individual was not who he claimed to be, and didn’t want me to know too much about him  or her. What was almost certain, though, was that this was NOT a graduate student; apparently someone fishing for information of some sort — but what? All my writings about HIV/AIDS are publicly available. What else could s/he want to know? And why not ask it directly?

***************

A few weeks later, I heard again from “Joe Newton”:

“Hello Dr. Bauer.
I am reading your book and I am just glued to it!
I have also been in conversation with David Crowe. Very smart man.
I do have a question. The link between race and HIV seems complicated and I think I understand what you are saying in your book. But I am unsure how that link happens. Do you mean dark skinned people have some genetic basis that attracts HIV?
Thanks again for all of your help.
JCN”

Humph! — “. . . and I am just glued to it!”
With exclamation mark and all, a puerilism I might expect from perhaps an excitable middle-schooler, certainly not any graduate student I’ve ever encountered. No American graduate student ever tried to flatter me like this, neither in person nor by e-mail; they were never so obsequious. The occasional Asian student has been what I’ve regarded as overly respectful toward me, but that was a cultural norm; and “Joe Newton” didn’t seem Asian. S/he just didn’t ring true.

Still, I replied substantively, patiently, not pointing out that if s/he had really read those chapters in my book, then these questions were superfluous. My response was immediately appreciated:

“Thank you again Dr. Bauer
If I have other questions, do you mind if I write again?
Also, are you planning any lectures or seminars on AIDS or are you doing a book signing? It would be great to hear you speak!
Best regards
JCN”

GRRR….
“It would be great to hear you speak!”
What sort of graduate students has this “Joe Newton” ever been in contact with? Evidently not any who have ever taken a good writing course and thereby learned to use those exclamation marks more sparingly.
More than somewhat peculiar, too, to be asking about book signings and talks without saying where in these vast United States s/he is located.

But again I replied noncommittally but substantively. Sooner or later, I thought, I’d find out more about who this enquirer really was.

Occasionally there were clues that s/he was really looking for rather precise information:

“Hello again Dr. Bauer
I have now finished reading your book and I am amazed by it!! You must be famous by now given that it clearly proves Deusberg has been right all along.
I am now reading Ms. Farber’s book. So rich in history.
I have seen that Dr. Gallo is very critical of her book. That is no surpise. But the 56 errors they published did concern me. Until I found the Rethinking response to Gallo. I see you worked on that. Can you tell me which of the points addressed you specifically may have contributed to? It would be nice for me to be able to tie things together as I continue my quest to learn the realities of AIDS.
Thank you again
JCN”

Uh-oh—DOUBLE exclamation marks.
And “You must be famous by now”, an obsequiousness quite worthy of Dickens’ Uriah Heep.
Why does s/he care what points I might have contributed, if her/his interest is substantive in “learning the realities of AIDS”?

I was noncommittal but seemingly responsive again: I couldn’t remember those details; and I freely gave some unasked-for information and tried a little needling by referring to “the not-unfavorable review in the International Journal of STD and AIDS” of my book. S/he was suitably impressed:

“WOW! I did not know that a review was published in the International j of STD and AIDS…do you have a pdf of that?? II now see it abstracted on your website..but would love the whole thing… THANKS and I will stay in touch.
JCN”

Well, there’s a link in the abstract on my website to the whole thing as a pdf. Is s/he trying to present the impression of sub-par intelligence? And does s/he really believe that graduate students make a practice of mis-typing? Is this an attempt to convey excitement too great to be managed, revealed through typos and ?!?!
BAH, HUMBUG.
And, grad students and experienced Internet users do use lots of abbreviations, but if one writes “j” instead of Journal, wouldn’t you expect to see just “IntJSTDAIDS”?

One thing is clear about “Joe Newton”: s/he is trying to create an impression of lack of sophistication, of a certain carelessness — maybe someone with whom one could drop one’s guard? Or is it just that whoever is creating this persona doesn’t really know much about graduate students?

***************

Enough already. I’ll be citing further tidbits from these exchanges, and “Newton’s” equally inept exchanges with several others, in future posts; with me they went on for months. But let me now jump ahead to the time, almost a year ago now, when a computer-savvy colleague took an interest and traced the origin of “Joe Newton’s” e-mails to the University of Connecticut. But that meant nothing to me at the time. Now it does, of course, since S. C. Kalichman, one-time “New-York-located” reviewer on Amazon.com [Introducing Seth Kalichman --- Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #1, 8 March 2009], has revealed himself as Seth C Kalichman of the University of Connecticut. Now one understands why “Joe Newton’s” e-mails originated there.

My correspondence with “Joe Newton” enriches my understanding at several places in Kalichman’s book. For example, other readers might find it incongruous that “So I started corresponding, conversing, and visiting the insiders of HIV/AIDS denialism” is followed almost immediately by “Not really knowing who I am, they took me under their wing to enlighten me about the truth about AIDS” (xiv) — how could he converse with people who didn’t know who he was?

By pretending to be someone else, of course, but Kalichman doesn’t share that crucial item with his readers. Again, when he writes, “My relationships with denialists created some complicated arrangements” (xiv), Kalichman doesn’t explain what complications were created, or why, for the benefit of those readers who don’t know about “Joe Newton” and his ilk. Or, what could he be referring to when he writes (10), “Actual experiences have reinforced denialists’ beliefs that the establishment is conspiring against them” — What actual experiences? And “I am sure that some of my own actions in researching this book will be touted as evidence that the AIDS orthodoxy is out to get them”? Which of his actions? Uninformed readers can only remain puzzled, but those who “knew” SCK as “JCN” or some other of his aliases might quite possibly draw the inference of an unfriendly hidden agenda from the fact that he tried to mask his identity when communicating with us.

*****************

The clumsiness of Kalichman’s attempt to masquerade as a graduate student is another anecdotal confirmation of what I’ve said often over the years, that good novelists have a much better understanding of human nature and human behavior than do so many professional psychologists. If a novelist — John Updike, say — rather than a professor of social (community/clinical) psychology had created the character, “Joseph Newton, graduate student”, I think he might have fooled me for a long time; certainly he wouldn’t have placed me on guard with the very first e-mail. Nor would Updike have chosen “Newton” as a name, he would have chosen something quite nondescript, not too common yet not too uncommon — “Johnston”, say. He would have avoided anything that would generate a pause for thought, even the coincidence of a name recalling one of science’s greats. Or, to the other extreme strategy, Updike might have generated a really intriguing name — Havercrombie, say — and would have had ready an elaborate genealogy together with ample information about lifestyle, including location. Anyway, I doubt that Updike would have chosen a graduate student’s persona, least of all one “in public health”, if he had wanted to draw me out about my views on HIV/AIDS: that could be done so much more plausibly and in so much more detail by posing as an interested lay person.

So I would advise Kalichman to stick with his academic last and to repress firmly any urges he might ever feel to try his hand as a novelist or playwright. And should he still feel the urge to hide behind a fake persona at some time, I would suggest avoiding all such whimsies as “Newton” or retaining his real middle initial. Coincidences do happen, of course, but they draw attention, and if you’re trying to pull wool over someone’s intellectual eyes, the last thing you want is to arouse attentiveness.

Kalichman would also do well to eschew any ambitions he might have to qualify as a private investigator. His techniques just aren’t up to it. Here’s a quite recent illustration:

On the 5th of February this year I received this e-mail:
“Subject: Lisa Eaton added you as a friend on Facebook
Lisa added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know Lisa in order for you to be friends on Facebook.
To confirm this friend request, follow the link below:

http://www.facebook.com/n/?reqs.php&aref=18137191

Thanks,
The Facebook Team”

Never heard of her, but I checked at Facebook to see whether we had mutual friends who might have suggested that we get together.
Nope, no mutual friends.
So I had a look at Lisa Eaton’s profile:

facebookeatonuconn
AHA — University of Connecticut again. And see p. xvii in Kalichman’s book for an appreciation of “Lisa Eaton the greatest graduate student anyone could work with”.

*************************

So Kalichman ought not to seek a career as a novelist, nor as a private investigator. But if he remains a psychologist, perhaps he ought to take more care to abide by the “ETHICAL PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGISTS AND CODE OF CONDUCT”, drawn up and published by the American Psychological Association. It states, for example (emphases added):

“Principle C: Integrity
Psychologists seek to promote accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in the science, teaching, and practice of psychology. In these activities psychologists do not steal, cheat, or engage in fraud, subterfuge, or intentional misrepresentation of fact….

8.07 Deception in Research
(a) Psychologists do not conduct a study involving deception unless they have determined that the use of deceptive techniques is justified by the study’s significant prospective scientific, educational, or applied value and that effective nondeceptive alternative procedures are not feasible.
(b) Psychologists do not deceive prospective participants about research that is reasonably expected to cause physical pain or severe emotional distress.
(c) Psychologists explain any deception that is an integral feature of the design and conduct of an experiment to participants as early as is feasible, preferably at the conclusion of their participation, but no later than at the conclusion of the data collection, and permit participants to withdraw their data.”

Where a study would not be feasible without deception, the researcher is required to obtain approval for the research from the Human Subjects Committee or Institutional Review Board at his university or other place of employment. For example, the psychology profession’s Wiki states:
“Human subjects committees or Institutional Review Boards, which include researchers and lawyers that review and approve research at an institution must approve the use of deception to certify that it is both necessary and that a plan exists to debrief participants to remove and residual effects of the deception.”

One’s immediate reaction is that “Joe Newton” and his ilk violated rather clearly the accepted code of ethics of Kalichman’s professional association. Perhaps that explains Kalichman’s deployment of such euphemisms as “complicated arrangements” for his interactions with his research subjects.

Posted in experts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

Open Letter to my Representatives in Congress

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/27

With all due respect: Why we are spending so much on HIV/AIDS? Overall and also compared to other diseases? In 2008, “U.S. federal funding to fight HIV totaled $23.3 billion”.

By the end of 2007, not much over 1 million Americans had supposedly been infected by HIV; so in just one year, 2008, we spent $23,000 for every American who had ever been infected. Or look at it this way: There were 37,000 new cases in 2007: in 2008 we were spending $630,000 per each new infection in the previous year.

We — taxpayers, via the federal government — pay for treatment: HIV/AIDS is the only disease for which objections to “socialized medicine” don’t apparently apply. We pay for “education” and “prevention” activities. We provide billions of dollars in foreign aid specifically targeted to HIV/AIDS.

Compare just the research funding for HIV/AIDS with that for other diseases:
Why are we spending nearly 100 times as much on HIV/AIDS research, per patient and per death, than on research into heart disease? $2800 compared to $29 per patient, $207,000 compared to $2700 per death?
Or compared to diabetes, 15 times as much per patient and 70 times as much per death?

fair2009figure

fair2009table1

Would it be churlish to suggest that you enquire into what we have received and are receiving in return for these enormous expenditures?

I hope you won’t think it out of order for me to suggest that you exercise the same skepticism toward what you hear from medical and scientific experts as you are wont to exercise when questioning corporate executives and the experts that they bring with them.

You are familiar with the phenomenon that distinguished economists will disagree with one another over what specific facts mean and what the best policy might be. You are also aware that the opinions of expert economists are sometimes influenced by their political views and even by their personal vested interests.

Admittedly, economics is scarcely a hard science; but experts disagree with one another in the hard sciences, too. One of the best-kept secrets in science is that the major breakthroughs that we celebrate in retrospect were, at the time they were proposed, fiercely resisted by the overwhelming consensus of leading contemporary experts — the overwhelming consensus of leading contemporary experts has been wrong on notable occasions, on really significant issues. It wasn’t only Galileo who experienced that, it was also Charles Darwin. And Albert Einstein. And Gregor Mendel, who first discovered the laws of heredity. And Alfred Wegener, whose concept of continental drift has now become a universally accepted belief. Max Planck, the founder of quantum theory, went so far as to say that new ideas don’t triumph by convincing the opponents, the new ideas win out only as those opponents die off. That’s no different nowadays than it was in the past, in fact in some respects it may be worse now, because of the heavy and pervasive intrusion of commercial interests into scientific research and into federal agencies concerned with science and medicine.

Another aspect of this resistance to new ideas, this inertia of the status quo, is that accepted theories are clung to long after the evidence has shown them to be invalid, because no such theory is abandoned until a comprehensive better one has been developed. Unfortunately, the hegemony of the old hinders development of the new. At any rate, Popper’s notion that scientific theories can be falsified by contradictory evidence isn’t borne out in practice.

You are surely familiar with the oft-quoted warning by President Eisenhower about the influence on public policy of the military-industrial complex. What has been realized only by a few so far, however, is the power exerted nowadays by the medical-pharmaceutical-research-industry-government complex. A number of books in the last few years, by editors of leading medical journals and prominent medical scientists and social scientists in academe, have described in some detail how widely conflicts of interest are spread throughout medical science, in academe and in federal agencies. An appreciably large part of public policy relating to medical matters is tainted by influence exerted by pharmaceutical companies through direct and indirect payments to practicing physicians and to academic and government researchers. If you want to look at only one book about all this, perhaps it might be “Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion”, by Daniel S. Greenberg, whose name you may recall from his decades of informed and instructive commentary on the interaction of Science with Washington DC. If you doubt that dedicated academic scientists could be influenced by filthy lucre, Greenberg has a more recent work about that, “Science for Sale: The Perils, Rewards, and Delusions of Campus Capitalism”.

But let me not digress too far from the matter of HIV/AIDS. Please look into the question of what we have received in return for massive investment in HIV/AIDS research. Quite specifically:

How reliably do positive HIV tests diagnose a life-threatening active infection?
What do we know about how HIV produces immunedeficiency?

No matter what you hear from mainstream experts, the documented facts are that HIV tests have never been shown to detect active infection, and the tests were not approved for that purpose. As to the mechanism of HIV’s action, there are half-a-dozen or more theories, none of which has sufficient evidential support to have gained universal acceptance.

You may not feel qualified to question the experts on technicalities. Please bear in mind the wisdom expressed many decades ago by a Nobel Laureate in Physics, Lord Rutherford (when such locutions didn’t transgress public sensitivities or political correctness): “If you can’t explain your physics to a barmaid it is probably not very good physics”.
What you and your colleagues can certainly do is to ask the experts to cite the publications in which it is proved that HIV tests detect active infection; those that showed definitively how HIV destroys the immune system; and, indeed, those that proved that HIV cause AIDS.

My prediction is that you will be met at first with answers about “overwhelming evidence”, “25 years of research”, “no single paper but a cumulation of evidence”, “universal agreement”, and the like. It will take some persistence before you are given specific references — and I can’t guarantee that you ever will get them. But if you do, please have those publications examined by some of the experts who hold the minority view that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, competent experts whose opinions have been shoved aside for decades, informally barred from the leading professional journals. Let these dissenting experts explain to you exactly how those publications do NOT prove what the mainstream experts suggest that they do. You will then have your own ideas how to proceed further and whom to believe. You don’t need to understand technicalities to judge whether people you question are being responsive or evasive. Sound inferences can be drawn when people are persistently unable or unwilling to give direct answers to straightforward questions. Keep this lesson of history always in mind: the overwhelming consensus of leading contemporary experts has been wrong on notable occasions, on really significant issues. No matter how incredible it may seem, HIV/AIDS is one of those issues.

Is it insufferably and unwarrantedly arrogant of me to make these suggestions and assertions?
My own view has been formed not through any deep understanding of molecular biology, but by noting the consequences of the contemporary conventional wisdom about “HIV/AIDS”. For example, in every tested group — blood donors, pregnant women, military cohorts, drug abusers, gay men, college students, in every social sector and in every country and culture — the highest rate of testing positive is among people of African ancestry, and the lowest rate is among people of Asian ancestry. Caucasians are 50% more likely than Asians to test positive. Blacks are more than 10 times as likely as Asians to test positive. To me it’s obvious that those racial disparities cannot be a result of different tendencies to practice risky sex, because these disparities cut across all social and cultural sectors.

There are other incongruities as well:
— Again on racial disparities, though blacks are far more likely to test “HIV-positive” and to die from “HIV disease”, they become infected at later average ages than others and survive to greater average ages than others — in other words, they are MORE susceptible to “HIV disease”, and at the same time LESS debilitated by it.
— Though breast-feeding by “HIV-positive” mothers is supposed to risk infecting babies, babies are less infected, the more they are breast- rather than formula-fed!
— More on the matter of age: The highest probability of “contracting” HIV is between the ages of 35 and 45, quite different from the age of greatest risk for sexually transmitted diseases, where adolescents and people in their early twenties are at greatest risk. Strangely enough, the highest mortality among “HIV-positive” people is also in that age range of 35-45, and it has been since records were first kept in the early 1980s.
— Among “people with AIDS”, the death rate does not increase sharply with age, as it does with every other illness and with all-cause mortality.

But perhaps I’m going too far too soon, so let me close with my initial question and pleas:
Why are we spending so disproportionately on HIV/AIDS? Where is the proof that HIV tests detect active infection? How does HIV infection destroy the immune system?

Posted in experts, Funds for HIV/AIDS, HIV absurdities, HIV and race, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV in children, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, HIV varies with age, HIV/AIDS numbers, sexual transmission | Tagged: , , , | 23 Comments »

The German Connection, contd.: How not to test an hypothesis (Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #3, part 2)

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/25

In Kalichman’s not-so-Komical Kaper #3, I questioned via personal anecdote the suggestion that support for Duesberg’s views about HIV/AIDS might be partly owing to “nationalist sentimental loyalty” among people with some sort of Germanic connection. Here I consider how a scientist — someone who, according to Kalichman, is “by nature and training systematic and objective” — might go about testing such an hypothesis, paying due regard to established principles of science, statistics, and logical thinking.

The hypothesis is that Germanic association of some sort predisposes to support of Duesberg’s views. That’s the same as saying that there are relatively more people with a Germanic association of some sort among Duesberg’s supporters than there would be by chance, which is the same as saying that Duesberg’s supporters include a higher proportion of Germanic-associated people than there are people with Germanic association in the population at large, or among those who oppose Duesberg.

Now, Kalichman claimed to have identified (p. 54) eight individuals as Germanic-associated Duesberg supporters. AIDS Rethinkers — people who, like Duesberg, deny that HIV has been proven to cause AIDS — include at least the individuals listed at the Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society, numbering 2648 as of early February 2009.

Thus Kalichman has identified as Germanic-associated 8/2648 = 0.302%, say 3 per 1000, among known AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics. It should be unnecessary to point out that Kalichman is aware of this publicly available list. It seems eminently reasonable, too, that the actual number of those who do not adhere to HIV/AIDS theory is likely to be significantly larger than the published list. So 3 per 1000 is likely to be a considerable overestimate.

The world’s population as of mid-February 2009 was about 6.75 billion; and the population of Germany was about 82.5 million. Thus in the world as a whole, more than 12 in every 1000 (82.5/6,750) were actual citizens of Germany — which is 4 times larger than the 3 per thousand identified by Kalichman who “support” Peter Duesberg because of shared “nationalist sentimental loyalty” toward Germany. But, of course, there are far more German-associated people throughout the world than merely the present-day citizens of Germany; for example, the US Census reports that anywhere between 15% and 25% of Americans claim part-German ancestry, in other words about 200 per 1000. So for the world at large, 12 per 1000 is a gross underestimate. Indeed, since so much of HIV/AIDS dissidence is based in the United States, perhaps the figure of 200 per 1000 is the one that should be used in the comparison with Duesberg supporters.

So Kalichman is claiming as noteworthy, something less than 3 per 1000, when pure chance would yield somewhere between 12 and 200 per 1000. He is claiming the very opposite of what is suggested by the very evidence that he presents. The fact is that people of Germanic association are hugely under-represented among Duesberg supporters. Kalichman wrote (p. 54), “The number of German colleagues who rally around Duesberg is notable”. Yes, notable for how SMALL is their number, not how large.

Why should that be?

The answer seems obvious: Duesberg’s views are so well founded, so intellectually compelling, that they force agreement even from people who don’t harbor Germanic nationalist sentimental loyalties.

******************

This is just a very rough sketch of the proper statistical approach that Kalichman should have used. To test the Kalichman hypothesis really strictly, perhaps one ought not to deal with populations at large but ought to identify all interested and relevantly qualified people who are (1) supporters and (2) non-supporters of Duesberg and then determine the proportions of Germanic-associated individuals in each group. So the statistical problem demands somewhat more research.

I hope to be excused from actually working on this myself, though, because I’m so confident in knowing what the outcome will be. But I trust Kalichman will do the work, now that he has been informed about the correct way to test scientifically the hypothesis he seems so taken with. It shouldn’t be too great a burden, since he has at his disposal an excellent stable of graduate students, as he acknowledges in his book and as will feature for more than one reason in later Chapters of Kalichman’s Komical Kapers.

But it’s not only the relation between numerator and denominator that Kalichman needs to check in order to determine whether Germans are over- or under-represented among Duesberg ”supporters”. As I pointed out in “The German Connection: Kalichman’s not-so-Komical Kaper #3”, the numerator in this proportion, Kalichman’s “catch” of 8 German supporters, needs to be reduced to 7 by removing me because I’m an Austrian Jew and actually lack any nationalist sentimental loyalty toward things German.

Curious whether others might find themselves in a similar situation, I asked Charles Geshekter, with whom I’ve been in occasional correspondence over the years:

“Charles:
In this forthcoming book, one of the extraordinary statements is
‘It is also noteworthy that much of the groundswell of support for Duesberg has come from his German colleagues, suggesting a nationalistic source for at least some of his support. As a German-born and German-trained scientist whose father served in the German Army during WW-II, Duesberg may evoke a sort of nationalist sentimental loyalty among some fellow countrymen.’
Among those German colleagues he lists you and me. Do you feel a ‘nationalist sentimental loyalty’ toward things German, or toward Peter D because he’s German?!
Best regards
Henry”

The reply:
“Dear Henry:
You must tell me that you are surely joking? Come on now! Say it ain’t so!
1) My paternal grandparents came from Austria; my maternal grandparents were from Russia.
2) Duesberg will confirm that he has been a follower, supporter and acolyte of mine, not the other way around, when it comes to challenging and debunking the orthodox view of AIDS in Africa.
Best regards,
Charles”

*************************

That Kalichman identified Henry Bauer and Charles Geshekter as Germanic raises the question of what criteria he used. In my case, it was Austrian birth, but with Geshekter he obviously didn’t have even that information. So here’s an open letter aimed at clearing up this mystery:

Dear Professor Kalichman:
Did you infer without further ado that “Geshekter” sounds German, and that his “support” of Duesberg “confirms” it? If so, let me suggest that your argument is a circular and invalid one.
Do you have much familiarity with the German language? For my part, I would expect a German name to have “sch” rather than “sh”, and not the “k” alone but rather “ck”, or perhaps “ch” — as in “gerecht” (“correct”, “fair” — an important concept, by the way) or perhaps “Geschichte” (“story” — which you seem adept at concocting) or even “Geschicklichkeit” (“dexterity”, “skill” — which your inferences don’t display often enough, I’m afraid).
Of course, the spelling of names is often changed, so “sch” could easily have become “sh”, and “ch” or “ck” might well have become “k”; so your inference is not necessarily or obviously wrong, it just would have benefited from checking.
But now I’m even more curious: “Kalichman” seems no less German than “Geshekter”. In fact, among my parents’ friends from Vienna, fellow refugees in Australia, were a couple named Paul and Ruth
Kalisch. Was your family name perhaps once “Kalischmann”?

Thinking along lines like that brings me to wonder whether Kalichman and Bauer might even be related?
One of the long-standing jokes in the Bauer family was the frequently voiced suggestion that my father’s favorite exercise involved jumping to conclusions.
That’s a trait that Kalichman displays to an even higher degree of perfection — so to speak.

Kalichman’s uncanny ability to draw inferences from names reminds me of a true story that my mother never tired of telling. Miss Ruby Moore was a fine Australian lady and a family friend. Like all human beings she had some foibles, and like many  non-Catholic Australians she could discern Papal conspiracies where others couldn’t. Anything untoward she was inclined to track to something Catholic. One day my mother told Ruby Moore of an occasion when a greengrocer had overcharged her. Snapped Miss Moore: “What’s his name?”, evidently expecting to hear something like “O’Flaherty”.
My mother responded, with perfect truth, “Smith”.
Ruby was unfazed and unshaken: “Hmmph”, she sniffed, “INCONCLUSIVE“.
Ever after, “inconclusive” became in our family a convenient shorthand for not allowing one’s beliefs to be swayed by the evidence or lack thereof.

Seth Kalichman jumps to conclusions better even than my father, and draws conclusive inferences where even Ruby Moore might remain in doubt.

Posted in experts, HIV absurdities | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

HIV/AIDS as ZOMBIE SCIENCE

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/21

A correspondent just alerted me to a particularly insightful editorial by Bruce G. Charlton, MD, in Medical Hypotheses.  That journal was founded by David Horrobin to allow publication of heterodox views and data that tend to be rejected by mainstream medical-science journals.

This link brings a PDF of the whole piece. “Zombie science” is “walking dead”, sustained by external infusions and not by inherent scientific value. Points that are particularly pertinent to HIV/AIDS:
— Early adoption of the theory brought generous research funding, publication in prestigious journals, and founding of “a raft of new second-string  specialist  journals”
— “even  the  most  conclusive ‘hatchet  jobs’  done  on  phoney  theories [think Duesberg] will  fail to  kill,  or  even  weaken,  them  when  the  phoney theories  are  backed-up  with  sufficient  economic muscle in the form of funding”
— Anomalies are explained away by increasingly complicated ad hoc add-ons, and the very complexity makes clear disproof ever more difficult to achieve
— “technical disasters [think AZT and HAART] can sometimes themselves be explained-away — and thereby covered-up — by  yet  further  phoney  theoretical elaborations, especially when there is monopolistic control of information”
— Zombie science marks, and is made possible by, the break-down of disinterested peer review as the reviewers are motivated by self-interest, which outweighs allegiance to the abstraction of “scientific truth”

On a couple of points, Charlton seems to me too optimistic:
— The existence of multiple competing sources of research funds could break zombie monopolies.
Maybe sometimes, but with HIV/AIDS every funding source seems to compete with others to support the monopoly.
— “proper medical science is underpinned by the effectiveness of medical treatments based upon its theories and results”
Not with HIV/AIDS, where the complexity (among other things) allows the mainstream to claim that HAART is beneficial (which also confirms the validity of the theory) whereas HAART kills, just more slowly than high-dose AZT alone did.

(I made some of the same points as Charlton in my essay, “Science in the 21st Century:
Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels”
)

Posted in antiretroviral drugs, experts, Funds for HIV/AIDS, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, prejudice, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

The German Connection: Kalichman’s not-so-Komical Kaper #3

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/21

That scientists are by “nature and training systematic and objective” brought me about equally guffaws and disbelief — guffaws at the absurdity of the assertion, disbelief that it could emanate from anyone who believes himself qualified to write about science. I found myself distinctly more disbelieving than chuckling, though, when I read (p. 54):

“much of the groundswell of support for Duesberg has come from his German colleagues, suggesting a nationalistic source for at least some of his support. As a German-born and German-trained scientist whose father served in the German Army during WW-II, Duesberg may evoke a sort of nationalist sentimental loyalty among some fellow countrymen. . . . The number of German colleagues who rally around Duesberg is notable: . . . [7 names] . . .  Henry Bauer, Austrian born academic”.

Kalichman really believes this, repeating it elsewhere:

“Denialists . . .  base their argument on the views of a group of German men born during the years of Nazism . . . .” (p. 145).

Let me emphasize at the outset that I feel genuinely honored to be associated for any reason with Duesberg and the others that Kalichman names in this connection. Let me state also that, to the best of my conscious knowledge, I have nothing against any individual generic German; indeed, I have some very good friends who are certifiably genuine born-in-Germany Germans.

BUT:

I learned “at my mother’s knee”, on countless occasions, that Austrians are not Germans. That view was by no means idiosyncratic to my mother. Describing an Austrian as a German is perhaps analogous to calling a Canadian an American (meaning a citizen of the United States of America) — though even less acceptable. It’s perhaps analogous to telling a Moslem Kosovan that he’s really a Serb, though perhaps not quite as bad. Or think of telling a Turkish Cypriot that he’s really a Greek citizen. And so on.

Not, of course, that a professor of social psychology is under any obligation to know about such matters — unless, perhaps, if he chooses to write about them and to draw inferences which imply that he knows what he’s talking about.

But there’s more than that. My personal website has been up for many years, and by means of annotated maps it shows where I’ve lived. Vienna, Austria, it says, 1931 to 1939. Australia, it says, 1939-56 and 1958-65.

It would be natural to wonder, wouldn’t it, why a family might make the long move across the world from Austria to Australia?

Recourse to a history book or an almanac for “1939” might bring the clue that international events in 1939 included the outbreak of World War II. A more detailed enquiry into events concerning Austria and Germany might yield the information that Germany under Hitler had pressured Austria to become part of Germany, and Austria under Chancellor Dollfuss had resisted; whereupon Nazi thugs assassinated him. I say “thugs” advisedly here. Not all Nazis were thugs, some number of them were just taking the path of least resistance, not questioning the consensus beliefs, “going with the flow”, “doing what everyone’s doing”. As one of my friends says — a friend who himself survived Nazi concentration camps —, the guards were just ordinary people, some were quite nice and others weren’t so nice. But the thugs who assassinated the Austrian Chancellor, a devout Catholic, were so devoid of any humanity that they refused to let him have a priest to hear his last confession and obtain absolution.

Schuschnigg, successor to Dollfuss as Chancellor, also refused to have Austria annexed to Germany, and eventually scheduled a referendum on the issue. A few days before Austrians could make their choice by voting, German troops invaded Austria — the so-called Anschluss, March 1938.  Schusschnigg went into a concentration camp.

I don’t need recourse to history books to recall all that because, throughout her life, my mother could  hardly carry on a conversation for long without finding some connection to “the Nazis” and related matters. She, my father, my sister, and I were among the most fortunate, of course, to be able not only to get out in time but to be accepted into that wonderfully civilized country, Australia.

Anyone who noted the journey we made in 1939 could rather readily infer why we moved and why I would be unlikely to harbor toward things German “a sort of nationalist sentimental loyalty”. But I’d like to underscore that by offering an insight into why Kalichman’s inference strikes me as not only unwarranted but even offensive, re-awakening memories that were better left asleep.

We got out of Austria just in time, sure enough. But not before my mother had been forced by the Nazis to scrub off the streets, on hands and knees, Austrian emblems that the same Nazis had painted there for the very purpose of making Jewish women scrub them off. Nor did we get out before my father had spent a week locked up in a camp where some of the guards amused themselves by making selected groups — lawyers were a favorite — run gauntlets between lines of club-wielding thugs. Yes, thugs is again quite a proper term.

Since I was then only seven years old, I experienced lock-up or street-scrubbing only at close second-hand. Nevertheless, that close second-hand was rather traumatic, and it was also traumatic to be ejected from public school in the middle of 2nd grade because people like me were unfit to participate in normal human activities.

Altogether, it was not the sort of experience that would instill in most people “a sort of nationalist sentimental loyalty” toward the nation that had created those rules and unleashed those thugs.

The experience of emigration was also not what most people would welcome. We were torn away not only from home but from extended family; some of ours managed to get to England, Finland, India, or the United States. Our family had been comfortably middle-class in Austria. In Australia, we arrived with no knowledge of the English language beyond that gained in a couple of weeks in London and 6 weeks on a British ship. My father’s degree in agriculture brought him a job milking cows on a dairy farm, until he was allowed into the Australian Army. After the war he joined the civil service, entering there in his forties at the same grade and pay level as fresh high-school graduates. My mother worked as a seamstress and piece worker her whole life, at home and in factories. The first vacation my parents could afford, in Australia, was one that my sister and I arranged and paid for after we had begun to earn money.

——————————

This autobiographical interlude seemed to me necessary if readers of this blog are to be able to sense the degree of my astonishment and disbelief upon reading that, in Kalichman’s view, my alleged “support” for Peter Duesberg stems somehow and in some part from my “nationalist sentimental loyalty” to Germany and Germans.

Of course, there would be no reason for Kalichman to know anything about my personal experiences; but there is ample reason for him to put together “1939” and Austria-to-Australia and thereby gain a general awareness of the sorts of things  families like ours experienced.

But might Kalichman perhaps be a denialist about the Anschluss, the German annexation of Austria? Might it even be that Kalichman is not only an Anschluss denialist but a closeted Holocaust denialist as well? After all, he wouldn’t be the first man to excoriate publicly what he practices privately. It would even be consistent with his predilection for assuming fake identities like “Joseph C Newton”.

Posted in prejudice | Tagged: , , | 33 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 118 other followers