HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Don’t wrestle with pigs

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/08/06

“Don’t wrestle with pigs, because the pigs like it and you get dirty”

I was reminded of this useful advice by Ross Douthat’s review of DIGITAL BARBARISM: A WRITER’S MANIFESTO by Mark Helprin (“Into the fray”, New York Times Book Review, 21 June 2009, p. 13).

Helprin had apparently entered Internet exchanges about copyright questions without previous experience of blogs, flaming, personal attacks from anonymous sources, and so on. So he became “the latest distinguished writer to come undone in this way”, like “the sportswriter Buzz Bissinger [who committed] . . . a spittle-flecked rant against blogging” or “Lee Siegel . . . who . . . resorted to ‘sock puppetry,’ creating an online alter ego who hotly defended the ‘brave’ and ‘brilliant’ Siegel”. (See also “Impersonation is a crime, even on the Internet”, 29 June 2009.)

Douthat points out how self-defeating it is to allow the momentary passions aroused by anonymous Internet barbarians to tempt one into getting down in the mud with them in a pig-wrestling contest:
— Helprin’s book is “a furious treatise” that inevitably comes across as “hectoring, pompous and enormously tedious”. [Who, after all, is interested in following rant and counter-rant?]
— That “a Talmud” could — according to Helprin — be written about the anonymous blogging commentariat “does not mean that one should”;
— especially when that involves “the peculiarity of arguing with anonymous comments rather than . . . more intellectually serious targets”.
— Helprin allowed himself to engage in name-calling whose “overall effect is like listening to an erudite gentleman employing $20 words while he screams at a bunch of punk kids to get off his front lawn”.

I had something to say about Internet gutter culture in Beware the Internet: “reviews”, Wikipedia, and other sources of misinformation, 11 April 2009”.  From Douthat’s review, I would like to add:

The copyright argument had brought untold numbers of comments; “And since this was, after all, the Internet, most of them were stupid”. Some “feuds are better left unfeuded”.


I’ve expressed views similar to Douthat’s in a number of earlier posts. My attitude toward anonymous defenders of the HIV/AIDS faith bears repeating [“Defenders of the HIV/AIDS Faith: Why Anonymous?”, 6 November 2008]:

“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.”

Of course I don’t insist that AIDS Rethinkers allow their real names to be published when they comment on this blog, because there are so many potentially unpleasant consequences for those who question HIV/AIDS orthodoxy; but I personally am privy to their identity. Defenders of the HIV/AIDS faith, on the other hand, can offer no good reason for anonymity on the blog, still less for a refusal to identify themselves to me in confidence.

3 Responses to “Don’t wrestle with pigs”

  1. Sabine Kalitzkus said


    For the AIDS-warriors there’s a perfect reason to remain anonymous (or even homonymous): They’ve frankly and publicly declared war against “denialists” and they don’t want to be prosecuted as war criminals when the war is over. In this context I just like to remind you of Clark Baker’s Semmelweis Investigation and of tenderly beloved Mister Kalichman, who prefers to ridicule himself as a 55-year-old “advanced graduate student” of public health.

  2. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, The only reason I can think of as to why Defenders of the HIV/AIDS faith may not want to give their true identity is that they believe that they may get to “crack” the armour of the Rethinker by getting a more “true” answer because their defenses are “down” whereas if a Kalichman or a Gallo or a Moore were to put the same question, your answer would be more carefully worded. Or rather you would say something less guarded and more honest to the blog replier (you don’t know) than to someone who is “famous”. That may be just they way the faithful think.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Martin: Your explanation is certainly the excuse Kalichman gave for posing as graduate student Joe Newton. But I don’t think the same can be used for blog comments, because they are entirely public. My own guess is that anonimity is used to mask lack of credentials. Defenders of the HIV/AIDS Faith like to throw stones at people who have not themselves done research on HIV or on AIDS, and they don’t want to uncover their glass houses; although Nattrass, for example, is an economist, and Kalichman is a psychologist, and several others in the AIDStruth cabal are “community activists”, with rather less credentials to address issues in virology than Duesberg, Mullis, and a host of other Rethinkers.

      None of the HIV/AIDS defenders have shown the slightest familiarity with history of science and the long record of mainstream beliefs overturned as understanding improved and progressed.

      I admit to not having any rational explanation for some of the pseudonym users, though; for instance, why Snout is sometimes Kopek Burun, or Mengano de Tal, or “the real Fulano de Tal”. I have to suppose it gives him some satisfaction, but I can’t figure out what that might be.

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