HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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


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”

13 Responses to “HIV/AIDS as ZOMBIE SCIENCE”

  1. Henry Bauer said

    Bruce Charlton has a more recent editorial that looks at the problem in a deeper and more comprehensive way:
    The piece also cites important pertinent works by John Ziman and Jacob Bronowski.
    I agree fully that half a century ago, truth-seeking was an accepted and largely practiced aspect of scientific activity. However, I can’t quite imagine how that circumstance can be restored when so many other aspects of society have abandoned truth as a criterion — advertising, financial operations, politics …

  2. Stefan R. said

    Thank you, Henry, for pointing to Bruce Charlton’s enlightening piece. I think that there’s still hope as long as we can find blogs like yours out there. Especially the economic crisis teaches poeple around the world to ask their own questions about “realities” and “truth” and to distrust the mainstream media “reality”.

  3. pat said

    “— 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”’

    This makes sense to me. It is a lot like the law of the jungle…which is …our world today minus the right of bludgeoning your opponents to death…mmm

  4. delwere said


    I read Duesberg but I still see in his logic a kinda paradox:

    In one hand Duesberg says that AIDS is NOT an infectious disease but HIV is an infectious agent. The first claim is grounded by many facts (found in his papers) including some official AIDS and illicit drug usage statistics. I don’t know how he grounds the second claim and I don’t know if he doubts on accuracy and meaning of HIV tests.

    In the other hand I think he is “Totally” ignoring the work (statistical results) of Henry Bauer that shows that HIV+ status distribution among population is not reflecting an infectious condition. He also ignores the lack of [“lack of” inserted later to correct mistake, see later comment from delwere] correlation, found in the same work, between HIV+ status and AIDS.
    I am surprised that this contradiction is still accepted by most of HIV/Aids doubters.

    Some may think that Perth Group has the extremest position sine they are questioning “even” the existence of HIV itself. The reality it that Duesberg’s one should be considered as the extremest since it considers HIV as a harmless passenger virus and therefore HIV+ status as non-health-compromising condition. The Perth Group, in the other side, acknowledges that a HIV+ status is an indication of
    a serious health degradation that may lead to AIDS. The Perth Group is questioning the fact that the HIV test is scanning a specific infectious virus.

    Any idea on how Duesberg explains such contradictions?


    • Henry Bauer said

      I’ve never discussed this with Duesberg, so I’m guessing that (1) he’s preoccupied with his work on aneuploidy and cancer, (2) that he hasn’t thought anew about HIV/AIDS for some time because of that; for example, recent work on HERVs (human endogenous retroviruses) that indicates that “HIV” tests may well be picking up HERV-Ks.
      In my view, the data to answer some of these questions conclusively doesn’t exist — whether there is such a thing as “HIV”; whether “HIV+” tests that reflect a potentially serious condition can be distinguished from “HIV+” tests that reflect no threat to health (i.e., different types of substances, different sets of the 2 or 3 out of 12 bands on a Western Blot that are taken as “positive”).
      There is no correlation between HIV+ and AIDS in the data I analyzed, perhaps you omitted “no”?
      [Yes, he did, now corrected; see later comment from delwere]
      I’m not sure the Perth Group regards ALL “HIV+” status as serious, they say it reflects oxidative stress, which I believe could be mild and temporary or permanent and serious.

  5. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, I am in agreement with Delwere. I have found Dr. Duesberg’s inconsistency troubling. How could he say on one hand, that the tests (ELISA/Western Blot) are unvalidated, HIV (if it exists at all) is very difficult to find much less isolate, that infection is presumptively diagnosed in many cases (especially in Africa — Bangui definition), and accept other reported results of HIV infection. Since Duesberg hasn’t been directly involved with actual AIDS research (a constant criticism of establishment honchos like Fauci and Gallo), much of his commentary on AIDS is garnered from existing research which varies widely in the quality of their scientific methodology.

    • Henry Bauer said

      I don’t think actual involvement in research is a necessary criterion for understanding, lack of it doesn’t prevent close and accurate analysis of published work.
      I don’t understand virology or molecular biology as Duesberg does, so can’t expound his views or critique them. I can discern that he was one of the first to be right about the fact that “HIV” doesn’t cause “AIDS”. I also understand that no one is likely to be right about everything, and that even scientific geniuses — and I regard Duesberg as one — have feet of clay that become obvious at times. I share with you the wish that Duesberg could find time to clarify for us non-specialists exactly what his views now are re the existence of “HIV” and related points.

  6. Joe said

    I don’t believe that Duesberg’s position has changed much (if at all) from his published writings. I have heard him give an internet-radio interview some time in the last year or two, and I didn’t notice anything that would make me think he’d changed his position. I just located the download I made of that interview, and it’s dated July 2007, although it could have taken place a year or two before that. That he even gave such an interview (it lasted about 90 minutes) in the last few years suggests he is still interested in the subject. But perhaps he has quite wisely devoted his skills to areas where he is not being censored and pilloried.

    As far as I can see, with the case of Duesberg the issues around the ideology of the way science works are of as much interest as the actual subject of whether or not HIV is the cause of AIDS. Here we had a scientist who was in a prime position to criticize HIV/AIDS, yet not only was he not engaged with on a scientific level, he was punished financially, ostracized academically, and publicly humiliated for doing the very thing that the ideology of the scientific method claims is necessary. When the dust settles on the issue of HIV/AIDS, the issue of Duesberg is going to appear.

    For me, as a non-scientific observer in the centre of this (most of my gay friends are on ARVs), I don’t feel able to make sense of it. All I know is that those friends came down with a series of strange ailments (none have the same medical history), and some are on ARVs whilst having never been sick. Having argued with them about the issues, none of them is persuaded to come off the medicines. So I just have to watch what happens. Incidentally, it is about 25 years since a doctor first suggested I might have AIDS because I had bronchitis and I told him I was gay. And in the following 25 years, it has been suggested a couple of more times (most laughably when I told a STD doctor that I had back pain and I didn’t want a HIV test.)

    I don’t expect lone scientists to be able to piece together an explanation for what is going on in terms of my friends’ health. I do believe that lone scientists (and even laymen) are able to highlight anomalies in the existing explanations. Which is precisely what Duesberg, the Perth Group, and Prof Bauer are doing.

    I’m grateful for Henry keeping up his sustained critique, and for doing it in a forum like this where we can get involved.

  7. delwere said

    Hi Dr. Bauer,

    Sorry for the typo! and there was obviously one (I was writing a bit fast). In fact I meant the correlation with age, sex, race, health and activities that makes HIV+ status regarded as non-specific response to certain health challenges. Now, potential progress to AIDS is considered by the Perth Group as one of the possible results of such health challenges, as far as I know.

    Said that, and independently from HERVs. It is still unclear why Duesberg ignores the two main points of Bauer’s findings:

    1- HIV tests do not track a contagious virus;
    2- HIV+ status (based on HIV tests) is fairly a non-specific response to certain health challenges (including illness);

    Instead Duesberg states things that seem completely the opposite of the above:
    1′- HIV is an infectious virus;
    2′- HIV+ status = antibodies = immunity from a passenger virus.

    The paradox is that in one hand he uses, among others, statistical data to ground his chemical theory (which is a credible path) of AIDS, and in the other hand he seems ignoring all this statistical work done on F(HIV) and its related conclusions.

    It would be interesting to know what Duesberg thinks about Bauer’s findings!

    ** As for HERVs, at least they are not contradicting so far the findings of Bauer and Perth.

    • Henry Bauer said

      delwere: OK, I corrected the “correlation” in earlier comments. I really don’t know Duesberg’s views on this.

  8. Dave said

    Hi Joe,

    I liked your observations. You write:

    I don’t feel able to make sense of it. All I know is that those friends came down with a series of strange ailments (none have the same medical history), and some are on ARVs whilst having never been sick.

    Yes, that sums it up. Varied histories, multi-factorial symptoms, multi-factorial treatments — yet only 1 cause, a retrovirus!

    Here’s a thought experiment. Instead of talking about “ARVs” — ask you friends what SPECIFIC drugs they are taking, and ask them to read the package insert for each drug.

    All of the drugs are designed to decrease viral load/increase CD4 counts, very few actually are targeted to address symptoms. Also, some of the newer drugs seem to be less toxic than some of the older nucleoside analogues or Nevirapine, a truly god-awful drug. (See page 2 photo).

    The main problem with these drugs is the cumulative effect on your liver, a vital organ. But they probably have some generalized antibiotic effect and definitely a placebo effect for some, so there’s no reason for any of us to be overly dogmatic on the issue. I like Liam Scheff’s mantra — “Reduce the burden, reduce the stigma.”

    In good health,


  9. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, You wrote: I don’t think actual involvement in research is a necessary criterion for understanding, [lack of] it doesn’t prevent close and accurate analysis of published work.

    I understand that — I was just mentioning that particular criticism by AIDS establishment honchos like Fauci — not because I take them seriously but because they know that their target audience takes them seriously. They use that kind of criticism as a bludgeon on Dr. Duesberg. They figure if they can (in their own mind) trump and silence (through Tod Schweigen) the most powerful dissident voice — that would scare off lesser ones — of course we all know that didn’t really happen.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Yes, I’m sorry, looking back on my response to you, it does look like I’m assuming it’s your view rather than the HIV/AIDS groupies; but I really didn’t intend it that way, I was just trying to underscore what we Rethinkers and Skeptics have continually responded to this silly criticism by the HIV/AIDS honchos.

      And I realized that my original statement wasn’t well phrased, so I’ve retroactively inserted “lack of” 😉

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