HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

The German Connection, contd.: How not to test an hypothesis (Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #3, part 2)

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/25

In Kalichman’s not-so-Komical Kaper #3, I questioned via personal anecdote the suggestion that support for Duesberg’s views about HIV/AIDS might be partly owing to “nationalist sentimental loyalty” among people with some sort of Germanic connection. Here I consider how a scientist — someone who, according to Kalichman, is “by nature and training systematic and objective” — might go about testing such an hypothesis, paying due regard to established principles of science, statistics, and logical thinking.

The hypothesis is that Germanic association of some sort predisposes to support of Duesberg’s views. That’s the same as saying that there are relatively more people with a Germanic association of some sort among Duesberg’s supporters than there would be by chance, which is the same as saying that Duesberg’s supporters include a higher proportion of Germanic-associated people than there are people with Germanic association in the population at large, or among those who oppose Duesberg.

Now, Kalichman claimed to have identified (p. 54) eight individuals as Germanic-associated Duesberg supporters. AIDS Rethinkers — people who, like Duesberg, deny that HIV has been proven to cause AIDS — include at least the individuals listed at the Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society, numbering 2648 as of early February 2009.

Thus Kalichman has identified as Germanic-associated 8/2648 = 0.302%, say 3 per 1000, among known AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics. It should be unnecessary to point out that Kalichman is aware of this publicly available list. It seems eminently reasonable, too, that the actual number of those who do not adhere to HIV/AIDS theory is likely to be significantly larger than the published list. So 3 per 1000 is likely to be a considerable overestimate.

The world’s population as of mid-February 2009 was about 6.75 billion; and the population of Germany was about 82.5 million. Thus in the world as a whole, more than 12 in every 1000 (82.5/6,750) were actual citizens of Germany — which is 4 times larger than the 3 per thousand identified by Kalichman who “support” Peter Duesberg because of shared “nationalist sentimental loyalty” toward Germany. But, of course, there are far more German-associated people throughout the world than merely the present-day citizens of Germany; for example, the US Census reports that anywhere between 15% and 25% of Americans claim part-German ancestry, in other words about 200 per 1000. So for the world at large, 12 per 1000 is a gross underestimate. Indeed, since so much of HIV/AIDS dissidence is based in the United States, perhaps the figure of 200 per 1000 is the one that should be used in the comparison with Duesberg supporters.

So Kalichman is claiming as noteworthy, something less than 3 per 1000, when pure chance would yield somewhere between 12 and 200 per 1000. He is claiming the very opposite of what is suggested by the very evidence that he presents. The fact is that people of Germanic association are hugely under-represented among Duesberg supporters. Kalichman wrote (p. 54), “The number of German colleagues who rally around Duesberg is notable”. Yes, notable for how SMALL is their number, not how large.

Why should that be?

The answer seems obvious: Duesberg’s views are so well founded, so intellectually compelling, that they force agreement even from people who don’t harbor Germanic nationalist sentimental loyalties.

******************

This is just a very rough sketch of the proper statistical approach that Kalichman should have used. To test the Kalichman hypothesis really strictly, perhaps one ought not to deal with populations at large but ought to identify all interested and relevantly qualified people who are (1) supporters and (2) non-supporters of Duesberg and then determine the proportions of Germanic-associated individuals in each group. So the statistical problem demands somewhat more research.

I hope to be excused from actually working on this myself, though, because I’m so confident in knowing what the outcome will be. But I trust Kalichman will do the work, now that he has been informed about the correct way to test scientifically the hypothesis he seems so taken with. It shouldn’t be too great a burden, since he has at his disposal an excellent stable of graduate students, as he acknowledges in his book and as will feature for more than one reason in later Chapters of Kalichman’s Komical Kapers.

But it’s not only the relation between numerator and denominator that Kalichman needs to check in order to determine whether Germans are over- or under-represented among Duesberg ”supporters”. As I pointed out in “The German Connection: Kalichman’s not-so-Komical Kaper #3”, the numerator in this proportion, Kalichman’s “catch” of 8 German supporters, needs to be reduced to 7 by removing me because I’m an Austrian Jew and actually lack any nationalist sentimental loyalty toward things German.

Curious whether others might find themselves in a similar situation, I asked Charles Geshekter, with whom I’ve been in occasional correspondence over the years:

“Charles:
In this forthcoming book, one of the extraordinary statements is
‘It is also noteworthy that much of the groundswell of support for Duesberg has come from his German colleagues, suggesting a nationalistic source for at least some of his support. As a German-born and German-trained scientist whose father served in the German Army during WW-II, Duesberg may evoke a sort of nationalist sentimental loyalty among some fellow countrymen.’
Among those German colleagues he lists you and me. Do you feel a ‘nationalist sentimental loyalty’ toward things German, or toward Peter D because he’s German?!
Best regards
Henry”

The reply:
“Dear Henry:
You must tell me that you are surely joking? Come on now! Say it ain’t so!
1) My paternal grandparents came from Austria; my maternal grandparents were from Russia.
2) Duesberg will confirm that he has been a follower, supporter and acolyte of mine, not the other way around, when it comes to challenging and debunking the orthodox view of AIDS in Africa.
Best regards,
Charles”

*************************

That Kalichman identified Henry Bauer and Charles Geshekter as Germanic raises the question of what criteria he used. In my case, it was Austrian birth, but with Geshekter he obviously didn’t have even that information. So here’s an open letter aimed at clearing up this mystery:

Dear Professor Kalichman:
Did you infer without further ado that “Geshekter” sounds German, and that his “support” of Duesberg “confirms” it? If so, let me suggest that your argument is a circular and invalid one.
Do you have much familiarity with the German language? For my part, I would expect a German name to have “sch” rather than “sh”, and not the “k” alone but rather “ck”, or perhaps “ch” — as in “gerecht” (“correct”, “fair” — an important concept, by the way) or perhaps “Geschichte” (“story” — which you seem adept at concocting) or even “Geschicklichkeit” (“dexterity”, “skill” — which your inferences don’t display often enough, I’m afraid).
Of course, the spelling of names is often changed, so “sch” could easily have become “sh”, and “ch” or “ck” might well have become “k”; so your inference is not necessarily or obviously wrong, it just would have benefited from checking.
But now I’m even more curious: “Kalichman” seems no less German than “Geshekter”. In fact, among my parents’ friends from Vienna, fellow refugees in Australia, were a couple named Paul and Ruth
Kalisch. Was your family name perhaps once “Kalischmann”?

Thinking along lines like that brings me to wonder whether Kalichman and Bauer might even be related?
One of the long-standing jokes in the Bauer family was the frequently voiced suggestion that my father’s favorite exercise involved jumping to conclusions.
That’s a trait that Kalichman displays to an even higher degree of perfection — so to speak.

Kalichman’s uncanny ability to draw inferences from names reminds me of a true story that my mother never tired of telling. Miss Ruby Moore was a fine Australian lady and a family friend. Like all human beings she had some foibles, and like many  non-Catholic Australians she could discern Papal conspiracies where others couldn’t. Anything untoward she was inclined to track to something Catholic. One day my mother told Ruby Moore of an occasion when a greengrocer had overcharged her. Snapped Miss Moore: “What’s his name?”, evidently expecting to hear something like “O’Flaherty”.
My mother responded, with perfect truth, “Smith”.
Ruby was unfazed and unshaken: “Hmmph”, she sniffed, “INCONCLUSIVE“.
Ever after, “inconclusive” became in our family a convenient shorthand for not allowing one’s beliefs to be swayed by the evidence or lack thereof.

Seth Kalichman jumps to conclusions better even than my father, and draws conclusive inferences where even Ruby Moore might remain in doubt.

12 Responses to “The German Connection, contd.: How not to test an hypothesis (Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #3, part 2)”

  1. J Reister said

    When Kalichman says, “The number of German colleagues who rally around Duesberg is notable”, I assume by “colleagues” he means other scientists unless some of the eight names he mentioned are not scientists.

    • Henry Bauer said

      J Reister:
      Kalichman’s so-called “8 German colleagues of Duesberg” are: ” vitamin sales entrepreneur Matthias Rath; virologist Stefan Lanka; Heinrich Kremer medical director of the Federal Clinics for Juvenile and Young Adult Drug Offenders for five German counties; Charles Geshekter, professor of African history at the California State University, Chico; University of Miami professor Rudolf Werner, trained in biochemistry at the University of Freiburg; Heinz Ludwig Saenger, Emeritus Professor of Molecular Biology and Virology and a former director of the Department of Viroid Research at the Max-Planck-Institutes for Biochemy near Munich; Henry Bauer, Austrian born academic; and Claus Koehnlein, Department of Oncology at the University of Kiel. “

  2. Tony Lance said

    Henry,

    I chuckled out loud several times reading this. Bravo!

    Tony

    • Henry Bauer said

      Tony:
      Thanks, that was the idea, the first part of “German connection” was a bit heavy, and I thought it was time to get back to the levity that Kalichman’s stuff deserves

  3. J Reister said

    Though I’ve been casually following the debate about HIV and AIDS since about 1997, I’m still not sure which side is right. For quite a while now my best guess has been that there is a 25% chance that the mainstream view is correct and a 75% chance that the “denialists” are correct.

    I also happen to be 3/4 German.

    That seems like nothing more than a funny coincidence to me, but then again I’m not a professional Social Psychologist.

  4. Dave said

    Talking about Kalichman and his amateur AIDS psychobabble is like talking about the great history and tradition of NY Yankee baseball, but focusing exclusively on the waterboy from 1972.

    Wow — a few German scientists support Duesberg. And the point is………….

    • Henry Bauer said

      Dave:
      I know.
      Trouble is, Kalichman’s frequent mentions of me made it seem necessary to read his book. That set off so many giggles and guffaws that ideas for blog posts came tumbling out, and I jotted them down. I also feel a bit of outrage, especially at the thought that he is mentor to graduate students, who are likely to “learn” the wrong lessons from the example he sets of dishonesty and sloppiness.
      But though Kalichman’s stuff is substantively ignorable, don’t forget that his “research” is funded by what used to be taxpayers’ dollars, and that his efforts are highly lauded by prominent members of the HIV/AIDS Establishment.

  5. pat said

    Let us hope “He” never finds out Hitler was Austrian…Who know’s what he’ll do with that info…

  6. Joe said

    Dave:

    I believe that, in making a supposed ‘German connection’, Kalichman is implying that the supposed 8 are Nazi sympathizers. Kalichman states quite baldly on his blog that Henry is racist (“Henry Bauer has disclosed his racism”). AIDS denialists = Holocaust denialists? AIDS propagandists choosing ‘denialist’ cannot be accidental. It is important for us to not deny that there is a condtion called AIDS, as much as we might argue with the elements that make up the condition, or the treatment, or that not all people who are classified and treated as having AIDS might not have had a single condition that is part of the syndrome (such as my closest friend), or that the people in Africa are dying from traditional diseases being classified as AIDS, whilst many more in Africa could be saved if the money for AIDS treatments there were just directed to getting them clean drinking water.

    Henry is quite right to point out that Kalichman doesn’t seem to have even a slender grasp on the scientific method. All he seems capable of is slur and innuendo.

    My guess is that the AIDS propagandists have to imply racism in order to prevent anyone even considering Henry’s work, because Henry’s work is actually pretty explosive stuff. After all, if Henry is right then it is the HIV test that is racist, posited on registering the presence of abnormal blood components in (mostly white) gay men. And the subsequent administration of toxic medicines based on that test result would also have been racist. Can you imagine the class-action lawsuit that could be brought by black people in America? It would be the end of Burroughs-Wellcome.

    Not just that: it means that millions more will have died in Africa because aid was directed towards the ‘treatment’ of AIDS instead of clean drinking water and treatment for TB, malaria, etc.

    The creation of the bogeyman ‘AIDS denialist’, and the publication of this book that invents a collective psychological profile to attribute to anyone who dares question anomalies in HIV=AIDS, is a new stage in the AIDS establishment’s assault. My guess is that it is because of Henry’s and Rebecca’s work. Pointing out that the testing results routinely are racially biased, and showing that the mathematical modelling behind AIDS make no sense, is probably the worst thing for the AIDS establishment since the early ’90s.

  7. Andy said

    Henry:
    With subjects like HIV/AIDS-orthodoxy, I often feel that to me, setting off giggles and guffaws — though sometimes not being appropiate — is a kind of emotional strategy of survival since the misery caused by pseudoscience seems unbearable. In this regard, thanks for Caper #3, 2. Your mention of Dr. K. being a mentor reminded me of Luke 6,40:
    “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.”
    Good luck. I do not regard the Bible as infallible.
    And you’re right: the laudation of the book alone is worth a considerable amount of giggles and guffaws.

    Pat:
    Yep. …and that Hitler’s “superior Arian race”, what a sick idea!, originates in old Iran and India.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Andy:
      I think you’re right about the value of humor. I’d go a bit further, and suggest that the capacity for humor, even if it’s “gallows” humor, reflects at least a rudimentary sense of proportion. If we can occasionally remember that we’re fallible, and at least smile over some of the silly things we do, then we’re less likely to regard it as a matter of life and death that everyone should agree with us, and then we’re also less likely to go about trying to kill people who disagree with us.
      As a generalization — subject to exceptions, like all generalizations about human beings — my studies of scientific controversies indicate that the most extreme ideologues, who label as “pseudoscience” everything that they themselves think is wrong, are singularly humorless individuals. Many of the HIV/AIDS vigilante bloggers show the same frantic, humorless, desperation to be right on every tiny detail. By contrast, Peter Duesberg is well-known — in some circles infamous — for a truly wicked sense of humor, which may well have helped him enormously to remain productive and sane during two decades of unconscionable persecution even by “colleagues” in his own Department at Berkeley — see chapter 1 of Celia Farber’s “Serious Adverse Events”.

  8. Nick Naylor said

    Henry, this guy’s a barrel of laughs.

    Great work.

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