HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Answering Cranks — THANK YOU, PERTH!

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/12/04

I think it was Bertrand Russell, or perhaps it was Bernard Shaw, who wrote a classic piece about the frustrations of trying to engage in substantive discussion with a crank. The essay has been cited quite often by accomplished science writers like Jeremy Bernstein. The frustration is that it takes far longer to deconstruct the crank’s claims that it takes the crank to make them. The crank pours out undocumented assertions that are wrong not only in detail but that are wrong-headed in general principle, and each assertion then requires general background discourse to establish the correct principles as well as detail-specific answers; and all needs careful documentation and attention to nuance if the contretemps is to be not just a shouting match of opposing assertions.

Since HIV/AIDS theory is pseudoscience (Science Studies 102: Burden of proof, HIV/AIDS “science”, pseudo-science, 22 July 2008;  HIV/AIDS and parapsychology: science or pseudo-science?, 30 December 2008; Trying to think about the Unthinkable, 2 January 2009; Mainstream pseudo-science good, alternative pseudo-science bad, 25 February 2009; Circumcision pseudo-science, 2 September 2009), its proponents are cranks (crackpots, pseudoscientists), and frustration is a common experience for AIDS Rethinkers. The most vociferous of the HIV/AIDS vigilantes, say Jeanne Bergman or Seth Kalichman, show that they know nothing of history of science or philosophy of science or sociology of science, and have not even done any science themselves (unless one grants their idiosyncratic claim that economics or law or psychology are sciences). So their detailed statements are embedded in discourse that is ignorant of the very nature of science, and that needs correction before one even begins to address their detailed claims.

The HIV/AIDS groupies and vigilantes have been increasingly on the defensive after Medical Hypotheses accepted, and posted as in press on the journal’s website in July, a couple of articles striking at the very heart of HIV/AIDS blunders: the fact that the sovereign nation of Italy maintains its health without recognizing HIV as a dangerous infection or AIDS as an illness caused by it (Ruggiero et al.) and that an article in JAIDS found it necessary to multiply by a factor of 25 the deaths from AIDS in South Africa (Duesberg et al.) in order to maintain the fictions that AIDS is devastating Africa and that antiretroviral drugs save lives when delivered indiscriminately to “HIV-positive” individuals.

At the same time, The House of Numbers (documentary film by Brent Leung) as making the rounds of film festivals, gathering honors and plaudits as it showed through direct on-camera interviews the vacuity of HIV/AIDS theories and the disagreements among HIV/AIDS gurus over the most elementary aspects of the whole business.

The first response was a joint letter by some of the interviewed gurus disclaiming what they were seen to have said: just as convincing as Nancy Padian’s repeated assertions over the years that her observation of zero transmission of HIV was not evidence of no transmission. In other words, the first responses was the claim that a goodly number of the leading HIV/AIDS experts are unable to say what they mean.

Luc Montagnier’s remarks were, it was alleged, (1) taken out of context; (2) suffered from Montagnier’s lack of command of English; (3) reflected trapping through leading questions from the interviewer (though Montagnier himself did not sign the letter). The claim of taken out of context would seem to have dissolved when Leung posted an unedited clip of the relevant portion of the interview in honor of World AIDS Day.

The chief attempt to discredit the film appears to be a website devoted entirely to that task. When I learned of it and looked at it, I left again almost immediately because my intellectual stomach turned in revolt at seeing the assertions has Bergman posted in typically crank fashion, undocumented, wrong in detail and wrongheaded in its ignorance of the very nature of science in particular and disciplined logical argument in general.

But no matter how time-consuming and unrewarding it may be to develop properly supported answers to such crankish stuff, it serves as a valuable resource to which other Rethinkers can refer as they try to spread the truth, one acquaintance or friend or student at a time. So we should be exceedingly grateful to the Perth Group who have posted impeccably argued and documented material that demolishes utterly the Bergmanian flim-flam.
The first installment of the deconstruction exposes the dirty little secret that HIV/AIDS theorists nowadays regard immune activation and not immune-cell depletion as what goes wrong in “AIDS”, which among other things explains why antiretroviral treatment, if or when it “reconstitutes” the immune system also brings on AIDS diseases (the phenomenon swept under the carpet by being named, Immune Restoration Syndrome). The Perthers also make mincemeat of Bergman’s attempt to discount the role played by animal models in HIV/AIDS publications (I was about to write “research”).
The second installment of the deconstruction exposes Bergman’s incompetence to write about scientific matters. There is a useful list of the Perth Group’s seminal articles questioning HIV/AIDS theory, some e-mails illustrating J P Moore’s unwillingness to engage in substantive scientific discourse, and a reminder that Montagnier has been talking about oxidative stress for quite some time but without acknowledging the much earlier proposal by the Perth Group of which he had been fully aware. The way in which HIV/AIDS virologists have taken in vain the term “isolation” is described in convincing detail, together with the filmed evidence that David Baltimore, Robin Weiss, and other experts do not appear to be aware that “HIV” has never in fact been isolated in the proper meaning of the word. The claimed evidence for sexual transmission of HIV is demonstrated to be non-existent.
Perhaps the worst of Bergman’s assertions is that of 99.9% accuracy for a two-test protocol of ELISA plus Western Blot. Since she cites no source, one cannot contradict the source; but Perth does the job nicely even without that. Lacking a gold standard, “accuracy” or specificity cannot be known; and there is no gold standard for “HIV” tests (Weiss &Cowan, cited in “HIV” tests are self-fulfilling prophecies, 10 May 2009).

Thank you, Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, Valendar F. Turner, John M Papadimitriou, David Causer. Well done! Yet another of your invaluable contributions to the Rethinking literature.

12 Responses to “Answering Cranks — THANK YOU, PERTH!”

  1. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, Excellent posting. When the Perth group had their day in court as expert witnesses for the defense in the Parenzee trial, they were discredited unfairly. Robert Gallo and Anthony Fauci had ample opportunity to debate Peter Duesberg, but avoided a confrontation for two major reasons: a public debate would give credibility to Duesberg (and they would risk losing the debate big time), and they would always opt out claiming that they were too busy “saving” lives. The ignorance of the general public about even the conventional view of AIDS is amazing.

  2. Francis said

    Everyone seems to get hung up on the fickleness of courts in resolving some of these medical scientific issues. Much weight has been placed by the orthodoxy on Judge Sulan’s summing up and judgement about the Perth Group.

    Would you go to your local GP for a legal opinion? If not, then why would you expect a court of law to make any valid decision on a technical medical issue? These issues are best decided by those who have the technical abilities to do so.

    I beleive that both sides in this equation should avoid the law courts as a venue for settling this one, as a decision either for the orthodoxy or the dissenters carries no worthwhile validity in this context.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Francis: I certainly agree, so far as settling the intellectual questions is concerned. But the mainstream view will not, in the foreseeable future, be altered by weight of evidence — the evidence has long been ample that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS: non-specific tests; epidemiology of “HIV+” unlike any infectious agent; peak ages of “HIV” infections, “AIDS” diagnoses, PWAs, and deaths from “HIV/AIDS” all around 40-45 plus/minus 5 or so; elite controllers and long-term non-progressors; etc. etc.
      What’s needed is for something to trigger a perception in mass media that there’s a newsworthy event, preferably scandalous. A court case might do that.

  3. Tony said

    When I discuss this with people that I know, I find they typically are dismissive for two reasons: (1) because this runs counter to the orthodox view; or (2) because they do not perceive a viable alternative.

    Dr. Bauer has addressed (1) in a variety of ways and it underscores the importance of NOT allowing theories to be promoted prematurely. In discussing (2) with those in anecdotal settings (e.g., they know people who “died of AIDS” or people who “were dying of AIDS but then started ART and got better”) the challenge is often to not only refute the underlying theory, but to then also craft an alternative theory that better explains what has happened than the current orthodoxy. Failing to do so, they will cling to the current model (I suppose this is nothing more than a real-world manifestation of the danger of promulgating theories prematurely.)

    The current orthodoxy is unwilling to consider alternatives because it runs counter to their interests. They have nothing to gain by open debate and, in fact, have proven that in head-to-head debates they lose (for all that they criticize Mbeki’s government, I would note they were sufficiently unpersuasive that they could not prove their preferred course of action was clearly the superior one. That is a de-facto defeat for them.)

    As for judicial process, it amazes me that ANY court could rationally convict someone of an HIV-related crime in the face of clear language in the tests that say they are not valid for determining that someone is infected. But then I remind myself that courts routinely convicted witches based upon tests that we now would deem insufficient to prove anything, let alone that the party was guilty of being “a witch.”

    Perhaps humanity needs to always have a bogeyman. Witches, communists, fascists, lepers, PWA. They are all different, we use infallible tests to prove they fit into the proscribed category and we then punish them.

    It is encouraging that there are people, like the Perth Group and Dr. Bauer, who care deeply enough in the search for truth that they will question the mainstream, even though they gain nothing from it and in fact suffer for their positions.

    Personally, I find the arguments of those who suffer for their positions in this matter to be more credible than those who benefit from their positions.

  4. Martin said

    Hi Tony, The comparison with witches was very apt. Because it’s a crime to have sex when you are aware of your own “positive” status, a trial was inevitable for Parenzee. Unfortunately the judge had (apparently) no choice but to accept the Establishment view of AIDS and HIV. In a similar manner, the judges of old had no choice but to believe in witches — their disbelief would have gotten them into just as much trouble as the “witch” under trial. I’d bet that the jury in the Parenzee trial was chosen on their belief in HIV as the cause of AIDS.

  5. Francis said

    I agree with you, Henry, but do not think the lone trigger will ever happen. I am convinced that this issue will take a generational change to resolve. You have stated/quoted previously that in order for the new ideas to be adopted often the old guard has to die off first (words to that effect). I think a lot of this has to do with generational attitudes as well. A baby boomer, living with the fear of AIDS from my early 20s, I accepted what was told to me in the media. This initially consisted of telling us if you had sex of any sort, you were going to die a grisly death shortly after. This was not much of an aphrodisiac. The effects of this doomsday scenario were short-lived and progressively dire predictions had to be invented to retain public interest at all. Eventually the scenarios became so outrageous, no one took them seriously and for the last 12-15 years AIDS has pretty well not been in our day-to-day consciousness. There really was no reason to question the “facts”, if it wasn’t affecting us, who cared? (I didn’t). But it was ingrained HIV=AIDS=DEATH, we all “knew” that. My generation is very trusting of “known” truths as we have belief in science. We were brought up on the marvelous achievements of scientists and if you didn’t want to be a rocket pilot you wanted to be a scientist who made rockets. We also have a sense of WW2 and the Holocaust.

    We are slowly now being affected by the generations X and Y. Who have less blind faith in anything than we do, and don’t appear to find the word sceptic or denier quite so offensive. I see this daily in the climate-change debate. The old guard is working to a formula again, heck it worked for HIV big time. Sadly for the “consensus” who are mainly baby-boomer scientists, obviously not smart enough to be pilots or rocket engineers, the target audience this time is less gullible and believing of increasingly dire predictions (see a pattern?). The very word “consensus” has less meaning and authority now. In Australia (where I live) the opposition government leadership has changed this week. The new guy in charge (Tony Abbott) is standing on a platform of climate change, not outright denial but questioning man’s involvement and how an emissions trading scheme or carbon tax will actually do anything for the climate itself. He may actually win government on this alone. A heretic in some circles. There are regular columns in our mainstream papers that openly dispute the climate-change theories, models and predictions. Despite many attempts to stop them, sceptics and deniers are still given voice on TV and radio. There is less blind adherence to Dogma these days. We are now seeing advertising urging us to take up the free HPV and Swine Flu vaccines, this is becoming more and more urgent as the population hasn’t been blindly compliant in availing themselves of these wonder vaccines. Sure, a few sheep have gone for their drenching, many just haven’t bothered, even though 100% government-paid-for.

    I don’t think there will ever be some kind of Big Bang of AIDS Inc’s implosion. It’s not an issue that polarises the current generation like it did mine. It is however steadily faltering, which is evidenced this last couple of weeks by the US lifting the ban on HIV+s travelling there from January, the Swiss saying it’s OK for HIV+s to have unprotected sex if you are on your meds and the Italians saying it’s not a big issue for public health. The only way I knew it was World AIDS Day this week was because Google had it in the search engine and I saw Obama in front of the White House with a big red ribbon draped there. The story wasn’t about AIDS though. 10 years ago this would never have happened. The only people who bleat about HIV/AIDS these days either have a vested interest in maintaining the staus quo or don’t know any different.

    I will clarify that, though, I do not include the dissenters and rethinkers who must operate for more altruistic reasons, let’s face it: there isn’t a lot of money in being classed as a Holocaust-denying lunatic crackpot accused of the genocide of 300,000-odd Africans.

    As we say in my trade, if you want to know who, what or why… just follow the money. Not rocket science but then I wasn’t smart enough for that either. On the subject of money. As a serving police officer, I wonder how many members of the public would tolerate my receiving money and or gratuities from any person, business or agency, criminal or not, and then believe that I could conduct an impartial investigation in to their activities? Hmm — not too many, I think. So where I get a little lost is how in hell can anyone have ANY faith in medics and medical researchers who are practically swimming in donated cash and gifts. It seems to me to be the ONLY industries where that activity would not find you ending up in jail promptly. Such is our misplaced faith in human nature and honesty, forgetting about greed.

  6. Henry, nice the way you say that HIV/AIDS theory is pseudoscience and its proponents are cranks (crackpots, pseudoscientists). I have been saying so for a long time but could not document it so clearly. Thanks.

    I posted a link to this post in the Facebook fan page.

  7. Tony Lance said

    Outstanding post, Henry. It’s good to see the Perth Group getting props for their razor sharp response to Bergman’s drivel.

  8. Axel said

    I just came across a fascinating article here.. Researchers at the University of Rochester have made an important discovery in the fight against AIDS: ancient tiger DNA is present in HIV, perhaps due to a tiger having bitten an SIV+ monkey sometime in the distant past.

    This breakthrough would be quite funny if it weren’t so sad. How quickly do you think the HIV/AIDS paradigm would unravel if alternative theories were given even a tiny fraction of the funding that this brand of research continues to receive?

    • Henry Bauer said

      Axel: The increasing number of reports about HIV “DNA” being found in the genomes of tigers, monkeys, etc., points increasingly to the need for more knowledge about what used to be called “junk” DNA and about HERVs, human endogenous retroviruses. It has been speculated that HERVs represent evolutionary accommodations in which once infectious external agents become incorporated into the host genome, lose the ability to self-express, but retain an ability to generate antibodies or other mechanisms to guard the host against similar external pathogens. The finding that one of the “HIV” proteins, VpR, protects against cancer, is also compatible with this line of thought.

  9. Would there be some way to discover a serious number of people who quit the HAART drugs and see in some detail what happened to them?

    • Henry Bauer said

      Richard Karpinski: Very difficult, I think.
      1. Survey AIDS doctors? Unlikely to get anything like comprehensive response, nor necessarily honest: remember Karri Stokely’s health-carers were unhappy at her choice and seemed to wish her ill.
      2. Ask recoverers from HAART to provide info? Again unlikely to get anything like comprehensive response; and personal testimony about personal health doesn’t weigh heavily with the medical professionals.
      In both cases the statistics couldn’t be convincing because of sampling bias of unknown but probably great extent.

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