HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll-Kalichman and Mr. Hyde-Newton — Chapter 1

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/04/04

It’s a common enough experience, to wake up in the morning with the answer to a troubling problem or at least a fresh insight: when one’s conscious, systematic, objective, scientific mind is asleep, the subconscious seems better able to exert its creative powers. I’ve benefited from it when I was doing electrochemistry, and when I was an administrator, and when I was writing about science studies, and when I was analyzing “HIV”-test data. And it’s still happening. The other morning I woke to another Eureka moment:

The reason that I was reminded of “Joe Newton” so often while working my way through Kalichman’s book was because the persona of Newton, which at first Kalichman could summon and dispense with almost at will, had at last taken him over irrevocably, just as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll had succumbed to Mr. Hyde after he had summoned him up once too often. That’s why Kalichman’s book attributes to me and other Rethinkers and Skeptics things said by “Newton”, not by us; and why the book finds it necessary to use so many “!” to emphasize what it regards as telling points; and why there are as many untruths in the book as there were lies in “Newton’s” e-mails and deceptions in his personal interactions with us.

The first fateful step, it’s obvious by hindsight, was to the top of a very steep as well as slippery slope. Professor Kalichman, perfectly well versed in the rules of conduct that govern his profession, would never dream of deceiving the subjects of his research; or if he did dream of it, he would have obtained advice and approval from the Human Subjects Board or Institutional Review Board at the University of Connecticut before actually doing so.

But a little imp seems to have whispered to Professor Kalichman: “Wouldn’t it be interesting, maybe even a bit exciting, to find out from the inside what those so-evil-seeming denialists are really thinking and doing? Why not pose as someone sympathetic or at least open to denialism? What harm could it possibly do, just to try a little experiment? Anonymously, no one need ever know. ”

So Kalichman gave birth to an alter ego, “Joseph C Newton”, who registered in August 2007 as an HIV-positive individual on a website maintained by Stephen Davis.

At about the same time, “Newton” in very different guise was requesting information from the new Rethinking AIDS website:

“From: Joseph Newton <joecnewton@gmail.com>
To: “correspondence@rethinkingaids.com” <correspondence@rethinkingaids.com>
Date: Thursday, August 9, 2007, 9:28:31 AM
Subject: Questions
I have visited your website and I am keenly interested in your views. As a medical professional I have often questioned the AIDS establishment as we stand by and see people get sicker from the highly toxic medications we use.
Can you direct me to other information so I can learn more about alternative theories of AIDS.
Thank you
JCP”

Perhaps the “Newton” persona had not been well thought out (Kalichman evidently lacks a novelist’s understanding of human psychology, as earlier noted — “How not to create a persona: Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #4“), or Kalichman was not keeping track of what he was doing, or perhaps he had designated several people to chase information under “Newton’s” name, or he thought foolishly that the several contacts being made by “Newton” would never compare notes; for no sooner had he signed up as an “HIV-positive”, and then told the RA website that he was a medical professional, than he described himself, again to the RA website, as a mere student:

“From: Joseph Newton <joecnewton@gmail.com>
To: correspondence@rethinkingaids.com
Date: Friday, August 10, 2007, 9:18:02 PM
Subject: joining you
Hello
I have been reading quite a bit about alternative theories of AIDS and as a student of Public Health in the USA, I would like to joinn your list of Rethinkers. Can you tell me how I might apply?
Thank you!
Joseph C. Newton, Connecticut, USA”

On the same day, “Newton” started an e-mail correspondence with Henry Bauer, who had just published the latest denialist book (see How not to create a persona: Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #4). And five days later, Joseph Newton, “student in public health, Bridgeton, USA”, signed as a member of the original Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis.

Although “Newton’s” professional and “HIV-positive” status was so varied in these different approaches, what was constant was a predilection for typos and a rather unnatural or stilted style. My guess is that the imp suggested that typos would create an image of hurriedness, lack of concentration perhaps, at any rate of someone with whom one could safely let one’s guard down.

Some weeks later, things at last seemed to become more productive. “Newton” queried Bauer about a supposed HIV-positive friend, and was introduced to Tony Lance and his theory of intestinal dysbiosis.

Now temptations began to multiply for Hyde-Newton. Instead of merely observing, perhaps he could inveigle some of the denialists into delivering up words with which they could later be thoroughly discredited — for example, if they could be enticed into advocating unsafe sex:

2 October 2007, “Newton” to Tony Lance:
“But my question has to do with safer sex. If my friend believes that he has tested positive because of instestinal spewing of antibodies, should he even care about using condoms or serosorting??
I appreciate your sharing this with me and your insights.”
[Notice, by the way, not only “Newton’s” trademark of frequent mis-spellings and exclamation marks, sometimes multiplied, and question marks that often come in duplicate, but also his odd, unconvincing mixture of feigned naivety and simultaneous familiarity with such rather uncommon phenomena as “serosorting”; I’ve commented before on the inept choice of a graduate-student persona that types like a rather hysterical elementary-school pupil — “How not to create a persona: Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #4“]

Huge disappointment. 2 October 2007, Tony Lance to “Newton”:
“As for your question about safer sex, I think condoms are a good idea regardless of what you believe about HIV’s relationship to AIDS. To put it simply, until any alternative theory of AIDS causation wins out the smart thing to do is cover your ass (and your cock!) and play it safe.”

But maybe there’s still something to be ferreted out from Lance:
20 October 2007, “Newton” to Lance:
> Hi Tony
> I jjust saw on the Alive and Well website that you are heading up
> an Alive and Well support group in NYC. True?
> I would like to know more about it.
> Thanks!!
> Joe
[Only one “typo” this time, but another doubled !!]

[As I was reviewing the exchanges by “Newton” with Bauer and with Lance, I experienced once more the comforting reassurance that if one has nothing to hide, and tells the truth, then one is not likely to put one’s foot in it. That always reminds me of the time when I, as Dean of Arts & Sciences, had rejected a request for a large salary raise from a faculty member who was waving offers from Elsewhere as a threat. A little later, I heard from his Department Head, whom he had approached in similar fashion. Chortled the Head: “When I told him we don’t bargain like that, he was stunned, and said, ‘But that’s exactly what the Dean said!’ Isn’t life simple when you just tell the truth? You don’t have to keep trying to remember what you said to whom”.]

28 October 2007, “Newton” to Lance:
“Hi Tony
I am actually in Connecticut, but I come to the city now and then. Maybe I can come to a meeting. When and where are they held?”

A dilemma. “Connecticut” was a natural, to make plausible the possibility of visits to NYC. But “Connecticut” was also an unfortunate slip, because Professor Kalichman wanted no connection to be known between himself and “Newton”; so when he first posted his “review” of Bauer’s book on Amazon.com, he showed his location as “New York” (Kalichman’s Komical Kapers — 1: Introducing the author, 8 March 2009).

By now, the apparent opportunity to glean from Lance information for the Kalichman opus was just too much to resist. So “Newton” continued with some $64K questions:

“Tony, I am also wondering if you might know anyone who was of dissident thinking and then changed to accept the orthodoxy??
I would like to know mor about the cycles that people may go through, between questioning HIV=AIDS and taking HAART??”

But Lance’s group was for “HIV-positives” only, so “Newton” couldn’t attend meetings.
29 October 2007, at 10:09 AM, Joseph Newton wrote:
“Hi Tony.
I do not have HIV, so I fully understand not being welcome to the group. I do not think it is good to have people who are negative in an HIV support group.
But I am interested and I have a close freind who is HIV positive.
It sounds like your group may not differ from most. I know support groups require members to respect each other’s choices and beliefs. They are not usually dogmatic, are they?”

By this point, “Newton” was perhaps wishing that he had kept to his original idea of “being” “HIV-positive”, for “Newton’s” increasing inquisitiveness about Lance’s group and its members brought an obvious query:

“Joe, What is your personal motivation in this matter?”

Whereupon “Newton” prevaricated once again; lying was becoming easier all the time:
“I am just trying to understand.
If the one thing you have in common is that the HIV/AIDS hypothesis flawed…how is it that some of the members are currently taking the meds or are consdiering taking them?
I understand that people can have ambivolent feelings and the openness of your group surely will allow for that.
But like using condoms, if you guys believe that the HIV = AIDS hypothesis is flawed, why take the meds??
If it possible that there are more extreme groups? Like barebackers are sort of the extreme condom rejectors — is there an extreme dissident group and you guys are sort of moderate??”

But Lance persisted:
“From: Tony Lance <tonylance@mac.com>
Date: October 30, 2007 11:35:27 AM CDT
To: Joseph Newton <joecnewton@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Hello again
Joe,
Why is condom usage amongst dissidents important to you personally if you are negative? Why are you asking me if there exist other dissident groups that are more extreme than ours?”

and “Newton” just kept on lying:
“On Oct 29, 2007, at 4:17 PM, Joseph Newton wrote:
First and foremost I am someone who cares about AIDS.
I am an HIV- person who is trying to understand both sides of the issue.
I have freind who are positive and I know taking treatments can be hard going.
I am personally motivated, I do not have a political agenda. Just trying to understand.”

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

What Dr. Jekyll discovered too late was that indulging too often in “Hyde” was the same as morphing into Hyde, and apparently Kalichman was morphing into “Newton” and becoming increasingly prone to prevarication. This is how Kalichman describes his interactions — which of course were actually “Newton’s” interactions — with the AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics who were the subjects of his research (p. xiv):

“So I started corresponding, conversing, and visiting the insiders of HIV/AIDS denialism. I posed questions and gained insight into the inner workings of denialism. . . . Not really knowing who I am, they took me under their wing to enlighten me about the truth about AIDS. . . . It is through these cordial and inquisitive exchanges that I learned most about this problem.
My relationships with denialists created some complicated arrangements that allowed me to experience denialism face-to-face.”

Despite the strange “Not really knowing who I am”, the unwary reader would hardly gather from this that Kalichman deliberately tried to deceive several of those with whom he corresponded, that he tempted them to make self-incriminating statements, and that he even posed as “Newton” in person in some of his meetings with “denialists”. More examples of these distasteful Kalichmanian-Newtonian doings will be documented in future chapters of this cautionary tale.

16 Responses to “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll-Kalichman and Mr. Hyde-Newton — Chapter 1”

  1. Michael said

    As you clearly present us, Henry, at this point you really have to ask — Was the work even authored by Kalichman, or was it written and promoted by his alter ego, now displaying itself as the devious and lying Newton who is simply using the stolen “nom de plume” of the guy who used to be Honest Seth Kalichman?

    It seems that Kalichman’s “tell-all” book, actually tells nothing in any degree of honesty. It also seems that after finding there were no juicy stories to tell about deviant death-promoting and -worshipping child-sacrificing dissidents in his book that planned on exposing them, he probably soon discovered there would be nothing at all to expose. No story, no exposition, no deviant psychologies, no death worshippers, no child sacrifices, nothing to tell at all. Nothing to make the book even slightly interesting.

    And it likely even occurred to him, that an honest book might (GASP) draw even more people than ever over to the denialists, including tempting even himself! If so, the temptation must have been difficult to endure for any honest rational side of him.

    If so, how intense would this inner struggle have been, or yet be? Why would the deviant “Newton” want to talk him out of it?

    Here are some possibilities:

    Very likely, by the time Seth had begun his infiltrations, he had also already confided and bragged to many others in his life that he was going to write a “tell-all” investigational book by infiltrating the world of “denialists” with intentions to uncover the biggest story about AIDS yet. Surely, any he told would all have urged him on.

    But, to his great disappointment and maybe even great distress, especially after his own earlier high expectations, and after all of the lies and deceit used in infiltrating (it would have been much easier if he would just have been honest), he still found nothing at all but his own dishonesty in his dealings with them. And his expectations of saving the world from denialists was probably even about to be further destroyed by what would have by then become a fuller education as to what the dissidents believe with their fully supported evidences to back them; he may also have had to deal with his own inner temptations to come out of his closet of deceit and seriously consider looking into joining them.

    But, if such thoughts ever occurred to him, what a frightening thought that would have been. I can imagine some of the thoughts that would have gone through his mind:

    To write an honest book, few would read it and it may cost him his career. To do so would be to promote, or even join the dissidents and would destroy any hope of future HIV-study grants! It could also destroy all of his long established friendships with all of the HIV faithful that he has accumulated over the years. He might even have been afraid of possibly being thrown out of his teaching position as a denialist. He may have considered that his entire world would come apart and he and his family would lose their homes and positions and then likely starve to death and die. And worst of all, and most impossible to face, he would have to admit to everyone he has taught otherwise, that he might have been mistaken about any sure beliefs regarding connection of HIV to AIDS.

    Though it is also possible that he never allowed himself to investigate it to such a point.

    If he did, any such thoughts of joining the dissidents would have produced for Kalichman such a dilemma. And , in his mind, mixed with a few fear-inspired thoughts of such bad outcomes for honesty, it could easily become a matter of life or death in his imaginations. Starvation, death and destruction — OR, continue the dishonesty, and thereby save himself and his family. With such extremely fear-instilling thoughts, the choice would then be simple:

    Continue the lie that has fed and nurtured and supported him and his family with finances and friendships and grants and funds and positions. Continuing Newton’s deceitfulness via the book would save him from the inevitable destruction that choices of honesty would have presented him with.

    One thing I am rather sure of. If he is honest, he will never be the same as before he investigated. He can delay his inevitable choice, but he cannot go back to where he was before.

    On the other hand, it could be doubtful whether there is much if anything left of any presumably former Honest Seth Kalichman (if such entity ever existed). And nothing but Newton living in Seth’s carcass that is stuffed with its own self-deceiving and self-interests….. ?

    If so, Is this how the movie ends, Henry? Is there to be no redemption for the wicked Newton and no resurrection of Honest Seth before he dies?

    All very fascinating to consider.

    But really, thanks, Henry for establishing the links! Great detective work, and a fascinating account of human behavior as well!

    As for Seth and his internal struggles, I will wish him peace, as I sense he has little of it.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Michael:

      It’s been natural for me to try, because the stuff is so extraordinary; but I’ve been totally unable to put myself into Kalichman’s mind. One haunting thought: He mentors graduate students. One of them, Lisa Eaton, tried to become my friend on Facebook. That raises the ugly question, whether Kalichman told her of his deceitful behavior and tried to enlist her in it. Other evidence indicates that some members of his Department must have known about it, at the very least the office people who manage the mail and telephone.

      When I’ve finished all the blogging about this, I plan to send a summary to his Department to try to find out who knew what and when. And to his publisher. But there’s a lot of stuff to wade through still, about extraordinary distortion or sheer invention of “facts” in the book itself.

  2. MacDonald said

    Bravo!

    This is what a psychological case study looks like in the best Scottish tradition (is there a sinister German [or thereabouts]-Scottish link here? Weren’t the founders of KKK of Scottish descent? I guess we’ll have to wait for Prof. Kalichman’s next literary masterpiece to find out.)

    I love the way Newton’s spelling and language regress as he gets cornered. He really does withdraw into the Newton persona. Textbook stuff, lol!

    Hey, Prof. K., keep doubling up on ’em ??s That’s like u know reely gonnu fool da stoopid denialists, heheh!!

  3. Photonaut said

    Dr Bauer

    This is so fraught with irony — he amateurly projects his own perceived stereotype of the “babe in the woods”, naive, gullible “young person” “at risk” from “denialist ideas”. Yet Seth Kalichman exposes that he is just one such: one of the numberless nincompoops who have never had an original thought in their lives, yet are adept at rehashing & spewing out what their tutors like to hear — & so they go on themselves to become “professors” (professional sophists), leading a new generation of the blind into the future.

    Photonaut

    • Henry Bauer said

      Photonaut:
      Yes, Kalichman explicitly says that he isn’t able to assess the technical details and therefore he trusts the “true experts” who have published all those research articles. He doesn’t know, evidently, that the histories of medicine and of science are of errors corrected, of recognizing that the overwhelming consensus of experts is often wrong in the longer run, that’s what fuels major advances in medicine and science — quantum theory, say, or relativity, or prions instead of lentiviruses causing brain diseases, and bacteria rather than worrying causing ulcers, etc. etc. etc.

  4. sadunkal said

    “…he isn’t able to assess the technical details and therefore he trusts the “true experts” who have published all those research articles.”

    That’s the saddest part for me. That certainty and that desperation to believe in a God of some sort. But apparently it’s inevitable. People are constantly under various kinds of pressure(social, financial etc.) and they have to make quick decisions, take sides, define their position. The system forces people to be certain without allowing them to digest the information to do so healthily (scientifically). But I wish that they would at least acknowledge that they’re taking big risks with their approach, and that there is a problem with how they’re making their decisions. Just a quick look at the history of science is enough to understand that this is the case. Unfortunately as long as this problem isn’t acknowledged by the relevant authorities, as long as this denial persists, then it becomes impossible to address the problem and make improvements. Considering the endorsements of this book and the lack of critique, it’s a perfectly acceptable practice to have blind faith in the authorities apparently.

    One thing though: Kalichman’s failure to properly deceive shows that he’s probably not so experienced with deceiving, which could be considered a plus for him I guess.🙂

    • Henry Bauer said

      sadunkal:

      “failure to properly deceive shows that he’s probably not so experienced with deceiving”

      No, it means unable to learn from experience. 🙂

  5. sadunkal said

    I thought of that possibility too, but I think my version is more probable to be honest.🙂 Do you think he didn’t learn from this one either?

  6. pat said

    Sadunkal:

    He is a headshrinker and should excel at deception, but he doesn’t because he is missing one piece of the puzzle…awareness. He thinks Independent Thinking is over-rated.

    P.S.: I wasn’t “aware” that denialism needed to be “infiltrated”. Is this guy watching too much Fox television?

  7. Sadun Kal said

    At Kalichman’s blog, in the blog post from April 7 where “Travis” called him a liar, Kalichman wrote:

    “I asked my colleague Joe Newton…”

    I find that fascinating. I’m afraid he’s not saying that to be funny either.

    He still seriously pretends that this Joe Newton is another human being. Does anyone know what the first line in Kalichman’s name tag says in this picture: http://i39.tinypic.com/36g2.jpg

    I found that image inside Kalichman’s picasa web album:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/aidsandbehavior/Denialism#5281016476399236738

    The second line looks terribly like a “Joe Newton” to me, or am I mistaken?
    Or is that person in the photo Joe Newton?🙂

    I’m guessing that I’m right about the name tag saying “Joe Newton” and the person being Kalichman in reality, since the image below appears on p.27 of “Denying AIDS”:

    As you can see the second line in his name tag is… ahem… there is no second line! A mistake?

    I shall say no more. Except that I believe Seth Kalichman needs some psychological help. I’m afraid of confronting him with this stuff, because I fear that doing so might make the situation even worse. If Seth’s family members, students or someone close to him reads any of this, I ask them to try to speak with Kalichman about all this. I’m not certain that Seth possesses the power to deal with these things in a healthy way.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Sadun Kal:

      Chapter 5 of the Jekyll-Kalichman-Hyde-Newton series will present definitive proof of the identity.

  8. sadunkal said

    Lisa Eaton, the graduate student Kalichman mentors, left this comment on his blog, under “AIDS Denialist Movie is a House of Cards”:

    “Seth, in reading these blogs and related others it is clear that denialists suffer from serious psychopathology. They seem to believe that you have some sort of financial motive to protect the “AIDS orthodoxy” and thus need to purport it. Ironically, as a clinical psychologist, what their egotistical neuroticism doesn’t allow them to realize is that the mere existence of AIDS denialists provides you with more job security and workload then you could possibly want or need.”

    I thought I should just mention it. You might not want to publish this since it’s pretty much meaningless here. It implies she visited this blog and probably knows very well what’s going on with “Newton”. It also demonstrates how bias can make a person totally miss/ignore the point I guess.

    • Henry Bauer said

      sadunkal:

      It’s quite a feat to diagnose “serious psychopathology” from reading blogs. Lisa Eaton also seems to follow her mentor in unusual choice of words; what does “purport” mean here?

  9. MacDonald said

    “Egotistical neuroticism” isn’t bad either. I guess that specifies the “serious psychopathology” in question. Lest somebody should think the term was made up for the occasion, Lisa also makes sure to flaunt her professional credentials. She’s certainly a credit to her profession.

    Yet another area in which Kalichman’s Anima channels the man who cloned her is the peculiar choice of supporting argument. In this case it is the circumstance that, “They seem to believe that you have some sort of financial motive to protect the ‘AIDS orthodoxy’ and thus need to purport it”, which triggered the diagnosis.

    The wholly unfounded (alleged) belief that Kalichman could have any personal or professional stake in HIV/AIDS has previously been diagnosed as Suspicious Personality Type Disorder and paranoia, to mention a few, but Lisa now has it down as egotistical neuroticism.

    Not to be outdone, Kalichman throws some more diagnoses in there in reponse to Lisa:

    AIDS Denialists are certainly a mixed bag. Some are without question paranoid. Others seem to suffer from ‘malignant denial’, a diagnostic term under consideration by the American Psychiatric Association. Others are not denialists at all, just partaking in mischief … Narcissism and self-indulgence at the expense of others are key traits of sociopathy, also common among Denialists.

    Here we learn that “malignant denial” — coined by Kalichman? — may become accepted as a real diagnostic term in the future, which means that it might eventually become more than pseudo-psychological name-calling.

    The question is now, does Lisa have a similar application pending for “egotistical neuroticism”; and is it being reviewed favourably, or will we have to make do with the already accepted terms, narcissism and self-indulgence?

    BTW, if you’re reading this, Prof K, I have a suggestion for a new APA submission. Instead of the long-winded and not very clinical sounding “self-indulgence at the expense of others”, how about calling it “Malignant Self-Indulgence” (MSI)? That has a much more sinister ring to it, don’t you think? Just imagine how immensely personally gratifying it would be to see your own name, Seth C. Kalichman, listed on Wikipedia as the psychologist who coined that term.

  10. Michael said

    Though I think he would rather see us all treated with high-dosage AZT, perhaps Seth and Lisa would be willing to prescribe Seroquel, Abilify, Zyprexa, Risperdal, Geodon, Haldol, Thorazine, Clozaril, Trilafon, Stelazine, or Navane, maybe all at the same time, for all of us dissidents, in hopes that one, or combinations of all of them, may be the treatment answer for our mental illnesses of Malignant Denial and Malignant Self-Indulgence disorder.

    Maybe they could even get the drug companies to back some studies and drug trials. After all, this Aids Denialist Disorder is virally contagious as well as chronic.

    With Seth’s current notoriety at NIAID, maybe NIAID would consider funding him for grants to do the studies, particularly considering that HIV is listed as a current national threat, and especially since it is such a threat to the reputation of top NIAID dogs and good ole boys like Tony Fauci himself. As such, AIDS dissidents and our malignant denialist diseases should qualify for top and center treatment considerations.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Michael:

      Yes, Kalichman knowns that denialism is contagious:
      “What is most remarkable about Bauer is how rapidly denialism has embraced him and taken up his conclusions” (p. 74).

      Would that it were so! While I’ve certainly felt warmly accepted as a fellow AIDS Rethinker, my thesis that the epidemiology of HIV tests demonstrates that “HIV” isn’t infectious has certainly not infected many of my fellow Rethinkers, more’s the pity.

      Among the many things KN (Kalichman-Newton) doesn’t know about us is the diversity of our views on any number of details.

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