HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Kalichman on “Denying AIDS”: an answer to Job’s prayer

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/05

behold, my desire is,
that the Almighty would answer me,
and that mine adversary had written a book

JOB 31:35 (King James Bible)

With “Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy”, Seth C. Kalichman has gone a long way to discrediting the AIDStruthers and their hangers-on. With adversaries like Kalichman, AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics have scant need of allies.

But could it be fair to find people guilty by mere reason of association? Well . . . Kalichman does so, which should mean that he believes so — assuming, of course, that he practices as he preaches.

In any case, several prominent mainstream HIV/AIDS researchers, not AIDStruthers or vigilantes, have lauded the book so extravagantly that perhaps the whole HIV/AIDS enterprise can be indicted on the basis of this single volume (reviews taken from amazon.com, 090225, screen shot on file; emphases added):

“Editorial Reviews
‘. . . superbly captured the contradictions inherent in AIDS denialism. . . . deftly captured . . . . AIDS denialism has left confusion in its wake as it undermined public health efforts to curb the greatest health challenge of the 20th century. . . . vividly shares his experiences, understanding, and dilemmas as he unraveled this phenomenon piece by painful piece’ — Salim S. Abdool Karim, Member of the 2000 South African Presidential Panel on AIDS, Professor at University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Director of Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)

‘. . .  . However, myths and misunderstandings about HIV/AIDS still abound and pose a real threat to our progress. In Denying AIDS, Seth Kalichman provides a fascinating look into the thinking of those who propagate AIDS myths and the negative impact it has on our response to a deadly disease. He shows us how AIDS pseudoscience has at times confused the public and threatened sound public health policy. . . . ‘ — Helene D. Gayle, President and CEO CARE USA and former Director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Assistant Surgeon General, and Member of the 2000 South African Presidential Panel on AIDS

‘Seth Kalichman is an excellent scientist . . . . This excellent volume examines the detailed history of HIV/AIDS denialism as well as its damaging impact throughout the world. HIV/AIDS denialism and its proponents have created confusion . . . .’ — James Curran, Dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Coordinator of the 1981 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ‘Task Force on Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections’ and former Director of the CDC HIV/AIDS Division.

‘. . . . brilliantly uses a psychological lens to expose the wacky world that creates and maintains its presence despite the untold numbers of deaths and suffering it has caused. . . . A must read for those who want to know more about the power and influence of pseudoscience’ — Michael Merson, Director, Global Health Institute at Duke University and Former Director of the World Health Organization’s Global Program on AIDS.”

Note, by the way, in the highlighted phrases, how very influential AIDS Rethinkers have been. That’s a real morale booster, even as we’ve barely begun to fight.

I leave it to any readers who manage to wade their way through this book to judge for themselves the accuracy of such terms as “superbly”, “deftly”, “vividly”, “unraveled”, “fascinating”, “excellent volume”, “brilliantly”.
For those who find themselves unable to tolerate Kalichman’s treatment, future blogs will spell out — in unfortunately also nauseating detail — how this book plays fast and loose with matters of fact, to the extent of misquoting material inside quotation marks and attributing to people things they’ve never said or written. There are some absurd inferences, wild leaps from faulty evidence to ridiculous conclusions. What the book says about “science” displays ignorance to an extent truly extraordinary in a volume that claims to apply validly the label “pseudo-science”. And that’s not even the half of it.

This book truly is an answer to Job’s prayer.

8 Responses to “Kalichman on “Denying AIDS”: an answer to Job’s prayer”

  1. Seth Eat-Newt said

    Hey, Prof Bauer!!

    I’m na advanced Grad student in Science studies and I’ve been awafully intersted in the to and fro arguments about if HIV is the same as AIDS. I just saw you mentioned this new book on your blog, and Id love to read it, but my budget is pretty tight just now so I Googled and foound that thre are quite a few file-sharing sites that let you download it for free!!!

    Thnaks so much for your interesting blog and stuff

    Seth Eat-Newt

    • Henry Bauer said

      Seth E-N:

      As the author of ten well-received books myself, I don’t really approve of file-sharing that infringes copyright, so I wasn’t sure about posting your comment, but I realized that people younger than me are so computer-savvy that they’d Google anyway and find those sites, and I try to bend over backwards not to censor comments that come in.

      I appreciate your interest, best of luck with your studies.

  2. Photonaut said

    Dr Bauer

    I think that like all the other AIDS literature, no-one has really read Kalichman’s book — they’re just doing the politically correct thing by lauding it the way they are.

    Dealing with a cheap hack like this entails a dilemma: the contradiction of the old & true maxim, “aquila non captat muscas”, the eagle does not hunt for flies. If ever there was a dirty little fly, this is it! However, the rest of the maxim goes (I don’t know the Latin for it) something like “but if one does happen to buzz past, the eagle will make a tasty morsel of it”.

    Dr Bauer, please do not spare him — the truth will out!

    Photonaut

    • Henry Bauer said

      Photonaut:

      Of course you’re right, people often write these pre-publication blurbs without having actually read the whole book. That doesn’t absolve them from being lampooned for egregiously inappropriate blurbs, though.

      Eagles and flies… My first reaction when I heard about the book, and scanned for the stuff about me, was to ignore it and not even read it. But after a while I realized that the demonstrable outrageous errors of plain fact might be worth pointing out, and when I started to read the text from the beginning, I soon saw that there are uproariously funny things to comment on.

  3. Matt said

    Henry, I also do not approve of file-sharing that violates copyright. However, this book in an exception. All money made from the book goes toward purchasing antiretrovirals for Africans. The book was so bad I could not finish it. Purchasing it and contributing to the poisoning of Africans would just add insult to injury.

  4. Joe said

    I haven’t read the book (and probably won’t bother). However, what is interesting to me is that the AIDS establishment sees a need for this book. After all, it’s over 20 years since Duesberg, Rasnick, Mullis, the Perth Group, et al. launched their critiques of the HIV theory. Why is it now that AIDS dissidence is seen as being problematic enough to deserve this kind of intervention into addressing the general public? It’s not even like a decade ago, when Mbeki established his committee to appraise the issues. Even at that point, issuing the Durban Declaration was seen as enough of a rebuttal to AIDS dissidence. I wonder if it is the publications of Henry, and Culshaw and Janine Roberts that’s prompting this critique. After all, Springer is a respectable academic publishing house. Somehow they have been convinced that the subject of AIDS dissidence is of interest to far more people than I would have estimated.

    It looks to me that we might be moving into stage three: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. I hope there’ll be many more books like Kalichman’s.

    The irony is that since Kalichman is a social psychologist, there is probably far more fertile material in the study of how and why scientists and the layman are prepared to overlook the anomalies and contradictions in HIV theory. For 25 years everyone ‘knows’ about the AIDS epidemic, yet STD rates among young straight people in the West see year-on-year rises (clearly condom use is rare), yet there’s no equivalent rise in HIV rates. I would have thought that the double-think going on here would be far more pertinent to a social psychologist who is also the editor of “AIDS and Behavior”. It would be interesting to see if that journal takes advertising from pharmaceutical companies.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Joe:

      You’re completely right. Historians and sociologists of medicine will be analyzing the HIV/AIDS mistake for many years, once the mistake has been generally admitted. And the stages you cite are indeed the standard progression when once-shunned claims turn out to be correct.

      Our library has “AIDS and Behavior” only on-line, which means only the articles and not the front- or end-matter, so I don’t know about advertising. But it would be quite normal for a medicine-related journal to be full of ads, annoys me considerably when I’m trying to locate specific pages in the bound volumes in the library.

  5. Tracy D. Ellis said

    After seeing Seth’s photo, I’m just dying to pinch those chubby cheeks of his.
    Gimme 20 minutes alone with this guy. I would look this man dead in the eye, tell him three or four horror stories that have occurred in my little HIV family, and then I would enjoy seeing this backstage clown shiver and shake. In the end he would either become more of a man or he would not be able to look me in the eye again. That’s my silly little fantasy that my mind uses for comfort sometimes when I feel the world is against me.
    When I’m being a good Buddhist I give Seth and his industry my compassion. I pray if I am to die young as a result of their chemo and bone-pointing, I give them my body freely and may they not suffer on the account of my death.
    When I am able to do this I feel so much better, but blame and hatred is a slow habit to break.

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