I became an AIDS Rethinker through reading and looking at data long after the AIDS era had started. So there’s much about the early days that I still don’t know, which is unfortunate for me. What’s even more debilitating is that I’ve known so few of the people who have suffered personally from the monstrous mistake of HIV = AIDS. Just now, a correspondent reminded me of a useful way to broaden my understanding: looking at some videos.
In particular, my friend sent me a link to a 2-hour program assembled by Gary Null from earlier videos. It touches on most of the salient issues, gives glimpses of the early days, and covers in some detail the central issue that positive “HIV” tests do not and cannot diagnose infection. For me, though, the most useful parts were the many appearances by HIV+ people talking about their dilemmas and their various ways of coping under circumstances where the medical dogma was and is to give them toxic drugs.
When mentioning videos about HIV/AIDS, one should always bear in mind the splendidly informative collection that Joan Shenton makes available at the Immunity Resource Foundation and her recent documentary, “Positively False — Birth of a Heresy”. The wealth of other material at the Foundation’s website includes a long list of pertinent websites and many links to pertinent articles as well as an archive of Continuum magazine*.
I had come to learn about Peter Duesberg’s dissent from HIV/AIDS orthodoxy in the mid-1990s because my academic interest has long been in scientific unorthodoxies. I was impressed by the strength of the case against HIV as cause of AIDS, and read more useful books: by Hodgkinson, Lauritsen, Root-Bernstein, Shenton, and others. Then around 2005 I came upon Harvey Bialy’s scientific bio of Duesberg, useful in several respects but mainly because one of his remarks would not stop bugging me, that testing of military recruits in the mid-1980s showed male and female teenagers from all across the country to be testing HIV+ at about the same rate. That is so obviously impossible in light of official HIV/AIDS theory that Bialy must surely have got the source wrong, I thought, or else had cited something that had later been superseded. That led to my collating the mainstream data on HIV test-results and discovering that the epidemiology of positive HIV tests is incompatible with the spread of an infectious agent. Not only that “HIV” doesn’t cause AIDS, it isn’t even an infection (The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory). (It took me longer and more reading to realize that “HIV” has not even been shown to exist in the form of free virions.)
In high school I had become fascinated with chemistry, and worked as a chemist in academe for a couple of decades. I also became interested in learning about things that science seemed to ignore utterly, like Loch Ness Monsters and UFOs and psychic phenomena. But I never lost my enthusiasm for science as THE way to gain understanding of how the world works, and I never lost faith in the ability of science to gain reliable, trustworthy understanding.
So HIV/AIDS theory struck me as an extraordinary, unprecedented, unique aberration. In these modern times of superb technological resources and evidence-based, scientific medicine, it seemed incredible that such a blunder could not only be perpetrated but could remain uncorrected for so long.
Well, that would indeed be incredible, if medicine were actually evidence-based and if science were still a basically truth-seeking enterprise. But I had learned about an increasing number of specialties in which mainstream dogmatism was increasingly suppressing competent dissent (Science in the 21st Century: Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels) and slowly came to realize that the “HIV/AIDS blunder is far from unique in the annals of science and medicine”.
The reason lies in the way modern science has changed, from truth-seeking by passionate amateurs to a vast enterprise intertwined with commercial, political, and social forces and subject to innumerable conflicts of interest (From Dawn to Decadence: The Three Ages of Modern Science). Contrary to popular belief, contrary to what most pundits and science writer and journalists say, science nowadays is not self-correcting. Science has emerged from its erstwhile ivory tower and stepped down from its erstwhile disinterested pedestal to become, like other social institutions, at the mercy of commercial and other sociopolitical forces. It matters who you know rather than what you know. The situation is encapsulated by one of Peter Duesberg’s younger colleagues — that’s a misleading term, I mean someone who is employed quite non-collegially in the same university as Duesberg:
“I don’t think Peter is necessarily wrong . . . . He may well be 3,000 percent right . . . . [But] he was overturning generally held views. . . . Political savvy is intrinsic to a scientific career. . . . There’s no such thing as totally right or totally wrong. . . . He would have been OK if he had just done things as convention dictates. . . . Peter may be right about HIV. . . . But there’s an industry now . . . . He’s like a child” (Celia Farber, Serious Adverse Events, pp. 54-6).
That colleague did not wish to be identified, but I fear it was for the wrong reason; not that she’s ashamed of her views, she just wants to remain hidden within what convention dictates and make a good career doing “what everyone does”.
Had science and scientists half a century ago been like that faculty member at Berkeley, my peers and I would not have been attracted into wanting to be scientists. We had thought we were joining a community of truth-seekers working for the public good.
Peter Duesberg, by contrast, believes that science and scientists should follow the evidence wherever it leads and that researchers are duty-bound to tell others what they find.
The manner in which Duesberg has been treated by his Department and his university demonstrates that the bulk of his “fellow” faculty acquiesce in the disgusting sentiments cited by Farber. With the present and future of science in the hands of such people, in what is still regarded as one of the leading institutions of science in the so-called free world, every critique in Dogmatism in Science and Medicine can only understate the parlous condition of 21st-century science.
That faculty member is right, though, on one point: Peter Duesberg is in some ways like a child. He is naively innocent of the evils and nastiness all around him, and has the qualities that cause all human beings to love children: innocence, enthusiasm, and because they represent the real hope for better futures.
Things are just as bad in medicine as in science. Practicing physicians gain their knowledge from sources that are just as unreliable as the careerists masquerading as scientists at Berkeley, namely careerists in universities generally and bureaucratic careerists at institutions like the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Dozens of books have been published in the last couple of decades describing how medicine has been commandeered by profit-seeking institutions and individuals, with drug companies playing a lead role (Critiques of the Commercialization of Science, Medicine, Academe). Yet nothing has been done to ameliorate the situation.
The HIV/AIDS blunder is not an aberration unique in the annals of science and medicine, rather it is a microcosm of 21st-century circumstances. AZT may have killed about 150,000 people, and various antiretroviral drugs continue to maim or kill untold numbers; but so do statins, and doctors continue to prescribe blood-pressure-lowering drugs and cholesterol-lowering drugs even though there is no sound evidence for doing so, so that the risks of the “side” effects outweigh by a large margin any possible benefit. Medicine does not practice what it preaches in the Hippocratic oath, “First, do no harm”.
* The Continuum archive at Immunity Resource Foundation is missing a few issues. Comparing this archive with the list at virusmyth, seemingly missing are volume 1 #1, December 1992; volume 1 #2, February 1993; volume 1 #6, October/November 1993; volume 2 #1, February/March 1994 and #3-#6, June/July 1994, August/September 1994, November/January 1994/95.
Continuum will remain of considerable importance to historians of medicine and of science, so I hope anyone who has copies of those will let Joan or me know about it. In the meantime, browsing in the available issues can only add to one’s astonishment that so much evidence against HIV/AIDS theory, and against the use of AZT and its analogues, was simply ignored by the mainstream.