HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Science Studies 102: Burden of proof, HIV/AIDS “science”, pseudo-science

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/07/22

For a long time, the central question in philosophy of science was to find objective, specific, and practically applicable criteria for deciding whether a claim or investigation warrants designation as “science”; without that, one cannot legitimately class anything as “not science” or “pseudo-science”. Tried and found wanting were notions of “scientific method”, falsifiability, progressiveness or regressiveness of research programs, as well as other, less well known attempts. Perhaps the definitive history and debunking of these attempts is by Larry Laudan (1).

Nevertheless, the epithet “pseudo-science” continues to be bandied about in controversies over such matters as human-caused global warming, psychic phenomena, HIV/AIDS, Loch Ness monsters—wherever dogmatists are 100% sure of their beliefs, they like to describe the opposing position as pseudo-science.

The history of such arguments teaches that they are finally settled only by evidence specific to the particular claims, not by application of abstract notions like scientific method or falsifiability (2); for no matter how plausible some abstract criterion may seem at first sight, in practice illustrations of it can be found on both sides of the imagined divide between science and pseudo-science.

Take the matter of burden of proof (3). Defenders of mainstream paradigms like to portray those who put forward unorthodox claims as saying, “Prove me wrong”, when actually the onus is on the dissenters to prove their claims right; but in practice, one can find mainstreamers themselves setting the challenge, “Prove us wrong”, instead of providing the necessary proof that the mainstream view is sound.

Immanuel Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision” had received great public acclaim in the 1950s, and the Velikovskian cult gained widespread support even among prominent humanists and social scientists (4), despite the huge implausibility of his claims: that a comet ejected from Jupiter had nearly collided with Earth and Mars, producing such Biblical events as the parting of the Red Sea and the fall of Jericho’s walls before settling eventually into its present position as the planet Venus.
“Throughout Velikovsky’s writing runs the subtly misleading attitude that the onus is on his critics to prove him wrong. Whenever he states — as he often does — that his case is unshaken and has not been disproved, the unwary listener or reader is led to expect that some clear disproof is called for, and that in its absence Velikovsky’s reconstruction stands as plausible or even valid. But in all fields of knowledge the onus of proof rests on the new proposition” (5).

Yet when it comes to HIV/AIDS, it is the orthodoxy that states, “Prove us wrong”, and that refuses to accept the onus of proof. Mainstream discourse is salted and peppered with statements to the effect that “the evidence that HIV causes AIDS is overwhelming” (6), yet the mainstream has never established, for example:
1. That a positive HIV-test marks the presence of active infection (7).
Whole virions of HIV have never been isolated direct from an HIV-positive individual. Indeed, a prize of $50,000 awaits anyone who uncovers a scientific publication in which such isolation has been demonstrated (8).
2. That HIV-positive portends progress to AIDS, and all AIDS patients are HIV-positive.
To the contrary: It has long been known that there are thousands (at least) of “long-term non-progressors” or “elite controllers”, HIV-positive individuals who have not become ill, some of them “positive” since the early 1980s. It has also been known since the early 1990s that there are many clinically diagnosed AIDS patients who have never tested HIV-positive, causing the mainstream to invent the new condition of “ICL” (9).
3. What mechanism it is by which HIV destroys the immune system (11).
4. What properties a vaccine needs to have to protect against infection (12).

As noted before [Science Studies 101: Why is HIV/AIDS “science” so unreliable?, 18 July 2008], the repeated publication of mainstream HIV/AIDS claims without adequate proof represents a failure of peer review that began in the late 1980s when Duesberg’s critiques were ignored. The initial claim that Gallo had discovered the “probable” viral cause of AIDS became accepted by default, it was never followed by definitive published proof; a prize of ₤50,000 awaits whoever produces proof of isolation of virions from AIDS patients (13).

By contrast, HIV/AIDS rethinkers and skeptics have accepted the onus of proof by publishing positive evidence to the effect that
1. A retrovirus cannot do what HIV is charged with doing (14).
2. Illnesses developing in “AIDS” patients who abuse drugs are specific to the particular drug; signifying that it is the drug that produces the illness and the frequently positive HIV-test in drug abusers (15).
3. Kaposi’s sarcoma in gay men in the United States results predominantly from persistent inhalation of nitrite “poppers” (16).
4. Official data show that the tendency to test HIV-positive has the characteristics of an endemic physiological property, not of a spreading infection (10).
5. Officially reported deaths from “HIV disease” since 1987 demonstrate that antiretroviral drugs have had no life-extending effect (17). AIDS patients treated by alternative modalities have lower mortality than those treated with antiretroviral drugs (18).
6. Officially reported death statistics together with officially reported data on HIV “infection” demonstrate that the 10-year latent period supposed to intervene between “infection” and illness does not exist (17).


1. Larry Laudan, “The demise of the demarcation problem”, pp. 111-27 in Physics, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, ed. R. S. Cohen & L. Laudan, Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1983

2. Henry H. Bauer, Science or Pseudoscience: Magnetic Healing, Psychic Phenomena, and Other Heterodoxies, University of Illinois Press, 2001

3.  pp. 220-1 in reference 2

4. Henry H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky, University of Illinois Press, 1984

5. P. 171 in reference 4

6. For instance, read the testimonies of the expert witnesses in the Parenzee case.

7. “The birth of antibodies equal infection”, Appendix II (pp. 333-40) in Celia Farber, Serious Adverse Events, Melville House, 2006

8. May 2007: Alive & Well $50,000 Fact Finder Award—Find one study, save countless lives

9. See “ICL” in index of reference 10 for details and sources

10. Henry H. Bauer, The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory, McFarland, 2007

11. Chapter 7 of Principles of Molecular Virology

12. “Is it time to give up the search for an Aids vaccine? After 25 years and billions of pounds, leading scientists are now forced to ask this question”, 24 April 2008, by Steve Connor and Chris Green,

13. The Michael Verney-Elliott Memorial Prize: £50,000 reward for the existence of ‘HIV’; letter of 29 March 2008

14. Peter H. Duesberg, Retroviruses as carcinogens and pathogens: expectations and reality, Cancer Research 47 (1987) 1199–220; Human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome: correlation but not causation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 86 (1989) 755–64.

15. Duesberg, P., Koehnlein, C. and Rasnick, D. The Chemical Bases of the Various AIDS Epidemics: Recreational Drugs, Anti-viral Chemotherapy and Malnutrition, Journal of Bioscience 28 (2003) 383-412

16. John Lauritsen and Hank Wilson, Death Rush: Poppers & AIDS, Pagan Press, 1986

17. “HIV DISEASE” IS NOT AN ILLNESS, 19 March 2008; “Disproof of HIV/AIDS theory” [Society for Scientific Exploration, Annual Meeting, Boulder CO, June 2008]; at News for June 30; “Incongruous age distributions of HIV infections and deaths from HIV disease: Where is the latent period between HIV infection and AIDS?” in press, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

18. Only 3 of 36 (12%) of Dr. Köhnlein’s AIDS patients died under alternative treatment compared to about 63% of all AIDS patients in Germany, most of whom were treated with antiretroviral drugs; pp. 401-2, Table 8, in reference 15

4 Responses to “Science Studies 102: Burden of proof, HIV/AIDS “science”, pseudo-science”

  1. You mentioned the Velikovsky thesis as an example of the “burden of proof” issue.

    Magellan radar images of Venus make it awfully hard to account for the supposed first four billion years of its existence.

    According to David Grinspoon, “Venus Revealed”, NASA laid on a three-year follow-up study for analysis of Magellan data but cut it back in scale after one year and canceled it after the second year. Hmmm.

    Please see: Is Venus a New Planet?

    Best regards.

  2. Henry Bauer said

    Robert (Fritzius):

    My use of the Velikovsky affair to illustrate burden-of-proof issues wasn’t intended to re-open the question as to whether Velikovsky was “right”. I’ve found no reason over the years to revise my view that the basis for Velikovsky’s predictions is unsound. That some of his predictions could be described as successful is, in my view, partly that they were sufficiently vague and partly because some such would likely seem successful so long as one makes enough of them. I take a similar view of most of the claims of successful psychic predictions or “remote viewings”.

    I don’t want to digress into Velikovskian matters on this blog, but interested readers can follow up on the website you give, though I hope they will balance it with critical ones as well. I haven’t read “Venus Revealed”, but the amazon entries indicate it would make enjoyable reading, thanks for the reference.

  3. sadunkal said

    Is it somehow possible to disprove the HIV theory of AIDS without absolutely proving that something else is the cause? What answer do the mainstream HIV theory believers give when they are asked what would convince them that HIV is not the cause? Do they ever answer that falsifiability question?

  4. Henry Bauer said

    Intellectually, objectively speaking, something can be disproved without providing an alternative explanation. But to do science, one has to choose what to work on, and one needs some guiding framework, so even one that seems to face disproofs isn’t usually abandoned until something better turns up.

    Mainstream believers don’t answer questions from dissidents, they refuse debate, they reject our manuscripts when we send them to mainstream journals.

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