Defenders of the HIV/AIDS Faith: Why Anonymous?
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/11/06
I’ve used the Internet pretty much from its inception, at first chiefly for e-mail, of course. I tried a few on-line lists, groups, discussions on various topics pertinent to my academic interests — for example, fraud in science — or on my hobbies — Loch Ness monsters, say. These were open to all who wanted to participate, and participants were open about their identity; electronic communication was just adding some speed and convenience to exchanges that we’d been engaged in via letters, conferences, phone calls.
Some of the discussion groups touched on fairly controversial matters, like political correctness and associated sensitive topics like race, IQ, affirmative action. Still, we knew who everyone was, where they worked, what their professional credentials were; and — possibly for that reason — lack of civility was rare, even as disagreements could be stark and forcefully expressed; ad hominem innuendo or direct attacks didn’t feature. I didn’t stay long with any list or discussion, though, because I so rarely learned anything new.
I came late to the ranks of HIV/AIDS Rethinkers and Skeptics. It was around 1995 that I first discovered, through reading Ellison & Duesberg, “Why we will NEVER win the war on AIDS”, that some people question whether HIV is the cause of AIDS — people with impressive and relevant credentials. I was sufficiently intrigued to read more. Bialy’s scientific biography of Duesberg caused me to consult primary sources about HIV tests, and thereby to discover that “HIV” is not infectious and doesn’t correlate with “AIDS”. Astonished, bemused, I looked for people with whom I could discuss the matter, and that caused me to visit, and sometimes to send comments and questions to, a number of web-sites and blogs. In too many cases, I was appalled at the level of “flaming” as well as the lack of substantive discussion, indeed the prevalence of violently asserted claims on factual matters without the benefit of supporting citations to reliable publications.
Those experiences informed my decisions when I set up this present blog as a means of furthering substantive discussion:
“All comments are moderated, and may be edited.
I have a great preference for comments that are concise, substantive, and not ad hominem.
Giving a fake e-mail address makes it less likely that your comment will be accepted.
. . . please understand that I can only respond if the e-mail address you give is a valid one. For example, e-mails cannot be delivered to ‘email@example.com’.”
Because of the blog, I’ve learned a great deal from commentators and correspondents, and I’ve been stimulated to look into an increasing range of HIV/AIDS-related matters. Tony Lance provided to the salient question, “So what did cause AIDS?”, a highly plausible suggestion supported by a large variety of published evidence [“What really caused AIDS: Slicing through the Gordian Knot”, 20 February 2008]. Invitations to comment on various “news” items led me to look, for the first time, into statistics about deaths from “HIV disease”, and to discover another clear disproof, or set of disproofs, of HIV/AIDS theory [“’HIV Disease’ is not an illness”, 19 March 2008; “HAART saves lives — but doesn’t prolong them!?”, 17 September 2008]. I’ve heard from a number of individuals who have experienced at first hand the psychological and physical damages wrought on healthy people by diagnoses of “HIV-positive” followed by antiretroviral “therapy”; and those interactions in particular keep me constantly aware of how important it is that HIV/AIDS theory be publicly discarded.
But I’ve also learned quite a lot about the deplorable behavior of fanatical HIV/AIDS true-believers, groupies, and vigilantes [“Dissenting from HIV/AIDS theory”, 8 December 2007]. It’s not only the disgustingly ad hominem nature and sadly lacking-in-intellectual-substance content of so many of the “mainstream” HIV/AIDS blogs, I’ve also been taken aback at underhanded approaches, via comments sent to my blog as well as e-mails to me direct, from individuals (I suppose individuals, but of course it could be groups) whose purpose is not to discuss substantive issues but to find ways to discredit and undermine AIDS Rethinking. For example, a graduate student evidently took the trouble to read my memoir about academic deaning and at least some issues of a newsletter that I had edited for a number of years in order to mis-interpret as homophobic and racist a few out-of-context quotes in a “review” of my book on amazon.com (that review is no longer there, at one time there was a note that it had been withdrawn by the author, but even that note is no longer there). Another vigilante posed as a graduate student in personal e-mails to me, fishing for information about Rethinker doings. Several comments have been submitted anonymously to my blog — for example by “Fulano de Tal” [“John Doe and his ilk: pitfalls of pseudonymity”, 28 August 2008], alleging mistakes in factual matters, yet when I requested citation of sources for those facts, I never heard more.
Those communications led me to ponder the apparently common practice of participating anonymously in Internet discussions. Why would one do that? (I would be interested to learn of any scholarly discussions of Internet anonymity, how the practice started, what justifications there might be for it, and so on.)
I can’t bring myself to engage in discussion with people who are unwilling to tell me who they are. It throws immediate doubt on their bona fides. Signing one’s name to one’s opinions seems to me the natural as well as proper thing to do, and I’m one of those who always signed manuscript reviews even when the journal policy did not require it. I think it’s a useful form of self-discipline, to ensure that one is being as honest and unbiased as humanly possible.
I can understand why whistle blowers must practice anonymity — except with the appropriate investigating authority to whom they bring grievance; and I understand why HIV/AIDS Skeptics are sometimes forced to remain anonymous in view of the career-threatening activities boasted of by people of the ilk of Wainberg and Moore (“AIDS and the dangers of denial”, Globe and Mail, 4 July 4 2007). But why would AIDStruth groupies and other supporters of mainstream views be unwilling to communicate openly and honestly? What are they afraid of? Do they sense subconsciously that they have no substantive grounds to stand on and that they must fight by innuendo and attempted character assassination? Why are they ashamed to let others know who they are?