HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Archive for January, 2010

Elsevier publishes another HIV-denialist article

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/01/13

“[T]here is extensive evidence that certain micronutrient deficiencies are associated with faster disease progression or increased mortality risk, and that dietary supplements . . . can prolong survival in HIV/AIDS. . . .
one aspect stands out in importance: the potential relationship to oxidative stress. . . . the antioxidant role of selenium in glutathione peroxidases . . . .
a daily supplement of 200 μg of selenium alone stopped progression of HIV-1 viral load increases, and lead [sic] to  improved  CD4  counts. . . . selenium status was reported to be 10 times  more  significant  than  CD4  cell  count  as  a  predictor  of   mortality. . . .
HIV infection is typically characterized by a dramatic decline in glutathione levels . . . [which] suggests an abnormal degree of biological oxidation, manifesting as elimination of cysteine sulfur as sulfate. A key feature of HIV disease is an apparent ‘antioxidant defect’ . . . [which] can be aggravated by co-factors such as malnutrition, co-infection with other microorganisms, and the use of various oxidant   drugs, such as nitrites. . . .
Intermediates of oxidative tryptophan metabolism have also been implicated in neurotoxicity, potentially contributing to AIDS dementia. . . .
oxidative   stress   can   induce niacin/NAD+ depletion. . . .
The oxidative stress-induced niacin sink (OSINS) model for HIV pathogenesis. . . . links oxidative stress and selenium to the observed tryptophan abnormalities and immunosuppression in HIV/AIDS. . . . [and] provides a mechanism whereby oxidative stress associated with HIV infection can contribute to immunosuppression via tryptophan deletion, as well as neurotoxicity via toxic tryptophan metabolites and ATP depletion. . . .
But whatever the source of oxidative stress, there would be a net effect towards niacin depletion and compensatory tryptophan oxidation. . . .
the need for certain nutrients in HIV infection may be largely secondary to an underlying defect that could be largely rectified by another nutrient, with antioxidants being the most fundamental to an effective regimen. . . .
whatever underlies or contributes to the antioxidant defect and increased oxidative stress . . . leads also to intracellular niacin depletion, and thereby to tryptophan depletion, with an end result of immunosuppression . . . and also T-cell loss” [emphases added].

It might seem natural to infer that this was written by the Perth Group, who have argued for upwards of two decades that “AIDS” results from oxidative stress, possibly with co-authorship by Rebecca Culshaw, who described the crucial role of glutathione, and by Harold Foster, who has long argued the central role of selenium, not to mention Matthias Rath, who has long spoken up for the value of micronutrients in treating AIDS patients.
But no. What’s more, none of those earlier publications are mentioned in this article by Ethan Will Taylor, “The oxidative stress-induced niacin sink (OSINS) model for HIV pathogenesis”, published on-line in Toxicology (Received 1 July 2009 — Received in revised form 10 October 2009 — Accepted 15 October 2009 — On-line at PubMed 24 October  [Epub ahead of print, PMID: 19857540, ).

(The review is described as “Hypothesis”, suggesting it might equally have been accepted by another Elsevier journal, Medical Hypotheses, were it not that the latter seems nowadays to bar anything that questions HIV/AIDS orthodoxy.)

At any rate, this article talks about “HIV-associated” oxidative stress and the benefits of nutritional supplements in “HIV-infected” people without demonstrating that “HIV” is actually involved. Essentially the same network of reactions and feedback applies in any situation of oxidative stress, as noted in the article: “whatever the source of oxidative stress . . . whatever underlies or contributes to the antioxidant defect and increased oxidative stress”. The only suggested involvement of HIV in the network of reactions is via a postulated stimulation of IDO (indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase) by tat and nef proteins and an increased level of interferon γ ascribed to viral infection and immune activation.

If it could be shown that under generalized oxidative stress, substances are released that are capable of yielding an “HIV-positive” response, that would combine with this comprehensive review of the literature to make oxidative stress an entirely plausible cause of AIDS, a worthy alternative to the HIV/AIDS hypothesis.

In point of fact, it is already well and long known that “HIV-positive” is a condition that can be brought on by a large range of conditions and infections: hypergammaglobulinemia, tuberculosis, or vaccination against flu, and dozens more documented by Christine Johnson (“Whose antibodies are they anyway? Factors known to cause  false positive HIV antibody test results”, Continuum, #3, Sept./Oct. 1996, p.4, anti-tetanus shots (Saag et al., Nature Med 1996;2:625-9 and Gonnelli et al., Lancet 1991;337:731), and even pregnancy (Taha et al., AIDS 1998;12:197-203; Gray et al., Am J Obstet Gynecol 2001;185:1209-17; Gray et al., Lancet 2005;366:1182-8). Drug abusers very often test “HIV-positive”. That the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included increasing numbers of conditions as “AIDS-defining” after “HIV-positive” became a criterion reflects the fact that many illnesses induce oxidative stress and the resulting “HIV-positive” status.

Here is a simple way of Rethinking AIDS:
There are two hypotheses.
1. AIDS is caused by a previously unknown retrovirus that first infected gay men simultaneously in several large metropolitan areas in the United States even though it had first crossed into humans in Africa. No vaccine or microbicide against it has been found after more than two decades of concentrated effort. Transmitted sexually, it is however very difficult to transmit, which is why it has remained within the original risk groups of promiscuous drug-abusing gay men and other drug abusers, except in Africa where 20-40% of the adult population has several sexual partners simultaneously and changes them frequently (James Chin, The AIDS Pandemic); however, the retrovirus has never actually been observed, in prospective studies, to be transmitted sexually. It kills T-cells by some unknown but certainly indirect as well as obscure mechanism. Though transmitted by breastfeeding, it is transmitted less, the greater the degree of exclusive breastfeeding. The presence of antibodies denotes active infection even when no actual virus can be detected. Some significant proportion of those infected remain healthy, even as no reason for this immunity has been discovered. One of the three original salient AIDS diseases supposedly caused by this retrovirus, Kaposi’s sarcoma, turns out not to be caused by it after all. Antibodies to the retrovirus appear after vaccination against flu, or after an anti-tetanus shot, and in a host of illnesses as well as natural conditions of some physiological stress like pregnancy. In an appreciable number of AIDS cases, no antibodies or retrovirus could be found, but this could be explained away as another new disease, idiopathic CD4-T-cell lymphopenia. Drugs that kill the virus do not correlate with restoration of the immune system nor with improved health. Indeed, purported restoration of the immune system with these drugs brings on another new ailment, “immune restoration syndrome”, a worsening of clinical condition with symptoms that mimic AIDS. The retrovirus mutates at unprecedented speed, so that infected individuals harbor not a single variant but a swarm of variants; and all variants and strains appear to be pathogenic to similar extents. Antiretroviral treatment is by toxic drugs whose side effects are so severe that non-compliance by patients has been observed or estimated at nearly 50%. Deaths from AIDS continue to occur in the same age-range as before, roughly mid-30s to late 40s. Although the retrovirus is latent for an average of a decade before causing illness, the age of first infection, of first AIDS diagnosis, and of death are all in that same age range.
2. AIDS is caused by oxidative stress. Proof: dietary supplements of antioxidants and essential minerals and vitamins restore health and extend life without dangerous side effects.

Posted in Alternative AIDS treatments, HIV absurdities, HIV as stress, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, sexual transmission, vaccines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments »

“HIV” has infected virology with cancer-causing viruses

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/01/08

Duesberg (Inventing the AIDS Virus, Regnery, 1996) described in detail how the unsuccessful, decades-long search for human-cancer-causing viruses stimulated frustrated virologists to hunt for and insist on a viral cause for AIDS. That has produced a thriving industry that’s highly lucrative for researchers and drug companies and government agencies and non-governmental entities — albeit unfortunate for millions of healthy and innocent people. That model now seems to be enticing virologists to discover new viruses associated with a variety of conditions, including human cancers, and to market expensive tests to detect those postulated viruses and expensive vaccines to ward them off.

This approach has approval at the highest levels of the scientific establishment, vide the award of Nobel prizes for the discoveries of HIV — which doesn’t case AIDS — and human papillomavirus, HPV — which has not been proven to cause cervical cancer but against which an expensive vaccine has been marketed for administration to teenage girls and more recently teenage boys, who may not be at risk for cervical cancer but still deserve to be protected against genital warts, with which some strains of HPV are sometimes associated (Gardasil and Cervarix: Vaccination insanity, 21 September 2009).

One element of this HIV/AIDS model is that weak associations are declared to be proof of causation: the seminal Gallo papers claimed to find HIV in much fewer than all AIDS patients, and only some strains of HPV are even claimed to be associated with cervical cancer. This betrayal of statistical logic is now exemplified again by the latest retroviral fad, XMRV, xenotropic murine retrovirus, which has been “associated” first with prostate cancer and thereupon with chronic fatigue syndrome, CFS.

First, prostate cancer:
“We found XMRV DNA in 6% and XMRV protein expression in 23% of prostate cancers” (Robert Schlaberg, Daniel J. Choe, Kristy R. Brown, Harshwardhan M. Thaker, and Ila R. Singh. “XMRV is present in malignant prostatic epithelium and is associated with prostate cancer, especially high-grade tumors”. PNAS 106 #38 [2009] 16351-6; doi 10.1073/pnas.0906922106).

In case 6% and 23% seem not too impressive, the authors assert that “Our observations provide evidence for an association of XMRV with malignant  cells and with more aggressive tumors” [emphases added] — in other words, if they could have isolated only the actual tumor cells, of course the association would have been much more impressive. Skeptics might ponder, though, the fact that they “detected XMRV DNA” in 2.0% of controls as well as in 6.2% cases of prostate cancer. We are reminded of Gallo’s decision in patenting an “HIV” test to use 3 times the reading in normal controls as an indication of infection (US Patent 4,520,113, 28 May 1985).

Since HIV has been declared to be an underlying cause in an increasing number of illnesses, obviously any newly discovered virus, especially a retrovirus, ought also to be indictable for an increasing number of ailments. A group of entrepreneurial virologists noted that “XMRV-positive prostate cancer and CFS [chronic fatigue syndrome] have been linked to alterations in the antiviral  enzyme RNase  L” and therefore they looked for XMRV in CFS: “Of the 101 CFS samples analyzed, 68 (67%) contained XMRV gag sequence. Detection of XMRV was confirmed in 7 of 11 [64%] WPI CFS samples at the Cleveland Clinic”( Lombardi VC, Ruscetti FW, Das Gupta J, Pfost MA, Hagen KS, Peterson DL, Ruscetti SK, Bagni RK, Petrow-Sadowski C, Gold B, Dean M, Silverman RH, Mikovits JA. “Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”. Science 326 [2009] 585-9). Finding the putative cause in as many as 2/3 of patients is, by HIV/AIDS standards, more than adequate proof.

A corollary feature of the HIV/AIDS model is that the willingness to accept weak association as causation throws up an increasing number of conundrums. The inference based on “antiviral  enzyme RNase  L” led to the search for XMRV, which is associated with that enzyme, in CFS. Conundrum:     “We found XMRV infection  to  be  independent  of  a  common  polymorphism  in  the RNASEL gene, unlike results previously reported. This finding increases the population at risk for XMRV infection from only those homozygous for the RNASEL variant to all individuals” (Schlaberg et al.).

OOPS! The very reason for looking for XMVR in CFS turns out to be spurious.

Furthermore, other researchers were unable to find XMRV in any appreciable number of CFS patients: “XMRV or MLV sequences were not amplified from DNA originating from CFS patients in the UK” (Erlwein et al. “Failure to Detect the novel retrovirus XMRV in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”. PLoS ONE 5[1] [2010] e8519. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008519).

Now what is one to do when apparent associations turn out to be no association at all? Again HIV/AIDS theory provides a useful model, namely, the conceit that any given illness may look quite different on different continents:
“Although we found no evidence that XMRV is associated with CFS in the UK, this may be a result of population differences between North America and Europe regarding the general prevalence of XMRV infection, and might also explain the fact that two US  groups found XMRV in prostate cancer tissue, while two European studies did not” (Erlwein et al.). “XMRV could show more genetic variety, and thus be harder to detect, than anyone assumed. It’s also possible that distinct strains of XMRV appear in different parts of the world, like the retroviruses HIV and HTLV (a leukemia virus)”  ( Sam Kean, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome attacked again”, ScienceNOW Daily News, 6 January 2010).

HIV/AIDS provides an apparently unlimited number of good ideas for CFS researchers. Just as there can be AIDS-TB and non-AIDS TB, AIDS Kaposi’s sarcoma and non-AIDS Kaposi’s sarcoma, and so forth, “It’s naïve to think that everyone with chronic fatigue has the same etiology. There’s probably going to be a subset of people with CFS that have XMRV, and it will probably end up being classified as XMRV-related CFS” (Kean, op. cit.).

Another lesson from HIV/AIDS theory and practice is to keep asserting something even if it is not true, thus “We have discovered a highly significant association between the XMRV retrovirus and CFS” (Lombardi et al.). First, the claimed association isn’t highly significant. Second, no association at all has been found by researchers attempting to reproduce the finding. Third, the reason for seeking an association in the first place turns out to be invalid: “As noted above, XMRV has been detected in prostate tumors from patients expressing a specific genetic variant of the RNASEL gene (5). In contrast, in our study of this CFS cohort, we found that XMRV infection status does not correlate with the RNASEL genotype”.

Obviously, the evidence that all this research was based on a flawed hypothesis indicates only a pressing need for more research based on the same hypothesis:
“This observation raises several important questions. Is XMRV infection a causal factor in the pathogenesis of CFS or a passenger virus in the immunosuppressed  CFS  patient  population? What is the relationship between XMRV infection status and the presence or absence of other viruses that are often associated with CFS (e.g., herpesviruses)? [NO ASSOCIATION OF CFS WITH ANY VIRUS HAS STOOD THE TEST OF TIME] Conceivably these viruses could be cofactors in pathogenesis, as is the case for HIV-mediated disease, in which co-infecting pathogens play an important role (20). [Not quite; HIV is supposed to be pathogenic by itself, not requiring co-factors to kill off the immune system — except according to Montagnier, of course.] Patients with CFS have an elevated incidence of cancer (21). [How many other conditions than CFS can be correlated with one or another cancer? Especially if a single unreproduced observation counts as a correlation?] Does XMRV infection alter the risk of cancer development in CFS? . . .  Finally, it is worth noting that 3.7% of the healthy donors in our study tested positive for XMRV sequences. This suggests that several million Americans may be infected with a retrovirus of as yet unknown pathogenic potential”.
Ah, yes.  The 3.7% of healthy people who are XMRV-positive are evidently elite controllers and long-term non-progressors to CFS and cancer. But everyone is obviously at risk, after all this virus MIGHT cause some illness or other — perhaps following a latent period of a decade or two or three? (As Koehnlein pointed out at RA2009, “Life is a sexually transmitted disease which ends in death after an incubation period of 77 years”; briefer incubation periods include HIV at 15 years, HCV 30 years, BSE 55 years,  HPV 55 years).

So just like HIV/AIDS, XMRV is significant for stimulating and supporting researchers, if for nothing else: “virologists around the world practically sprinted to their labs to redo the experiments . . . . a Google search on ‘XMRV’ the day before the Science paper [Lombardi et al.] hit  . . . found about 22,500 hits. Three months later, there are 400,000 hits”( Sam Kean, op. cit.).

Finally (for the moment at least): just as with HIV/AIDS and other unsavory enterprises, FOLLOW THE MONEY:
“the discovery that a clinic associated with the Science paper was selling a $650 diagnostic test for XMRV made the issue more pressing. . . . [S]ome scientists . . . fear that Lombardi’s clinic took advantage of that hunger [for help on the part of CFS patients] by offering the $650 diagnostic test, 300 of which have been administered so far. Lombardi’s group never claimed XMRV caused CFS, so it’s not clear what a patient could do with a positive result. Lombardi argues that patients can avoid infecting other people with XMRV and have their diagnoses validated, if nothing else”.
Great value for $650, for those who sell the tests if not for those who get themselves tested.

Not that any of the researchers admitted to a conflict of interest when they submitted the manuscript to Science (7 May 2009; accepted 31 August). The last footnote did note that “R.H.S. may receive royalty payments in the future from Abbott Laboratories”,  but it was left to a “Note added in proof: V.C.L. is operations manager of Viral Immune Pathologies Laboratory, which is in negotiations with the Whittemore Peterson Institute to offer a  diagnostic test for XMRV”.
Of course, the belatedness of this note, added after the article had been accepted for publication, is really immaterial, because there is little if any precedent for rejecting manuscripts just because of a blatant conflict of interest.

Lombardi may have been too modest in his claims for the benefits of the test. After all, people who are XRMV-positive and who want to guard against all possibilities that it might be harmful can avail themselves of antiretroviral treatment: “websites are abuzz with reports from [CFS] patients who say they have been tested and queries about how to obtain zidovudine (AZT), the antiretroviral drug used to combat HIV. . . . Scientists are . . . warning people . . . of the dangers of dosing themselves with antiretroviral drugs. . . Richard Baker, head of the group that wrote the official UK guidelines on CFS, warns patients against taking AZT, which can have side effects [YES INDEED, AZT CAN HAVE ‘SIDE’ EFFECTS –it causes death, but a side effect is that it kills retroviruses as well]” (Clare Wilson and Ewen Callaway, “CFS patients in UK show no signs of suspect virus”, 6 January 2010).
Still, that doesn’t stop research on using AZT to block XMRV: “In lab experiments reported last month, AZT was found to block replication of XMRV (Virology, DOI: 10.1016/j.virol.2009.11.013)”. “Because XMRV is a retrovirus, it has been suggested that it might be susceptible to some of the many drugs available for treatment of AIDS. Of  ten licensed compounds evaluated for activity against XMRV, just one, AZT (azidothymidine), was found to inhibit viral replication. . . . Because AZT is approved for use in humans, such studies can proceed immediately, without the need for extensive toxicity studies in animals” (Vincent Racaniello, “AIDS Drug AZT Inhibits XMRV”, 091208, citing Sakuma R, Sakuma T, Ohmine S, Silverman RH, & Ikeda Y (2009). Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus is susceptible to AZT. Virology PMID: 19959199).

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We’ve gone full circle: From realizing that there aren’t any human-cancer-causing viruses to establishing by fiat the existence of human-cancer-causing viruses, beginning with cervical cancer which was declared an AIDS-defining disease just because “HIV” — or rather a positive “HIV” test — occurs in some cases of cervical cancer. Nowadays virologists are demonstrating that bits of DNA and protein that  might be parts of some new virus can be found in a whole host of physiological conditions; and they seem willing to establish the existence of a virus simply by inference from those bits and pieces, and to infer the pathogenicity of that imaginary virus from its putative presence in any ailment or unusual physiological condition.

Thus virology has succeeded in mainstreaming junk science.

Posted in antiretroviral drugs, experts, uncritical media, vaccines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments »

The Fairy-Tale Cult of Wikipedia

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/01/04

A correspondent who shares my interests in cosmology and in the suppression of novel ideas alerted me to the manner in which Wikipedia has been censoring and denigrating suggestions about the influence of electromagnetic forces on large-scale phenomena in the universe: see “Wikipedia Woes — Pending crisis as editors leave in droves” (by Dave Smith, 2009/12/26).

Wikipedia’s dogmatic defense of a mainstream scientific belief, together with character assassination of those who point to defects in that belief, will be familiar enough to AIDS Rethinkers (Beware the Internet: Amazon.com “reviews”, Wikipedia, and other sources of misinformation, 11 April 2009). It takes only one dedicated fanatic to dominate any given Wikipedia entry or topic, and arbitration on Wikipedia is controlled by sometimes anonymous individuals whose credentials are thereby unknown. What I found most interesting about this described censorship was the persistent “contributor”, “ScienceApologist”, who boasts of being absolutely determined to keep out of Wikipedia everything not presently sanctioned by the high Pooh-Bahs of mainstream science.

ScienceApologist gives a self-description that raises the suspicion that he, she, or they is or are in reality a Trojan Horse designed to discredit all who claim to defend science. I could not reach a conclusion as to whether or not this self-description was written satirically, because it is so perfect a send-up of the most extreme scientism — “scientism” being the quasi-religious belief that contemporary science is the place to get true answers to everything. For example:

“Wikipedia is inherently a non-innovative reference work: it stifles creativity and free-thought. If Wikipedia had been around at the time of Galileo, his ideas would have been subject to my incisive commentary and editorial braggadocio — even if I agreed with him. I am a status quo promoter.”

Surely this gives the game away! Only a self-satirist, a person of unsound mind, or a fifth columnist would write something like that.
But ScienceApologist was so assiduous in his harassment of Eric Lerner over concepts about an “Electric Universe”, leading even to Lerner being barred from contributing to Wikipedia on subjects on which he is expert, that the fifth-columnist possibility doesn’t seem applicable — unless ScienceApologist is an anarchist or terrorist who accepts “collateral damage” in the pursuit of his cause and feels no guilt about causing collateral damage.
The self-satirist possibility seems to fail on similar grounds.
One is then left with the possible explanation that ScienceApologist is of unsound mind. Within that explanation there is a more specific, albeit extremely farfetched scenario: ScienceApologist is actually the pseudonym of a proponent of a non-mainstream theory about electromagnetism in the universe that competes with Lerner’s ideas, and ScienceApologist is trying to kill two birds with a single approach: discrediting mainstream science by impersonating the extremity of scientism while at the same time preventing Wikipedia from giving a fair account of Lerner’s ideas.

Leave aside, though, what could motivate ScienceApologist, and note merely that he wants progress to stop. He boasts of wanting to suppress Galileo’s insights even knowing their value and basic truth, and brags about helping Wikipedia stifle creativity and free-thought! He is in some ways like the Luddites who rioted against the Industrial Revolution, yet ScienceApologist is even more extreme, because he wants to stop not merely material change but the advance of human understating. In the name of science, of course!

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ScienceApologist’s self-portrait contains a number of references to Wikipedia “principles” that helped me realize that Wikipedia is best described as a cult, defined as:
“Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing. . . . An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest” (American Heritage Dictionary).

ScienceApologist asserts:
“I act to mitigate, redesign, and occasionally destroy the offerings of users who think that a particular ‘breakthrough’ or ‘notable idea’ deserves more consideration than it has gotten in the academic world. Such grandstanding is forbidden by a variety of Wikipedia policies and guidelines (WP:V, WP:SOAP, WP:NOR, WP:FRINGE, WP:WEIGHT, WP:NOT, and WP:REDFLAG to name just a few).”

Here’s an immediate clue to a diagnosis of cultism: pseudo-technical insider jargon. Compare, for example, Scientology’s MEST (matter, energy, space, time), 8 dynamics, “engrams”, “clears”, “thetans”, etc.

In the cold light of rational day, these Wikipedia policies and guidelines can be seen as some combination of wishful thinking, childish naivety, megalomania, and the like — divorce from reality. “WP:V” stands for “Verifiability”: “Material challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, must be attributed to a reliable, published source.”
The rub, of course, is in who is to judge “reliable”?

Naturally, Wikipedia offers guidance:
“Reliable sources — This page documents an English Wikipedia content guideline. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.”
One notices that this does not erase the original rub, given the failure, indeed the impossibility, of defining, “generally accepted”, “common sense”, and “consensus”, even without the “occasional exceptions”.

The other principles and guidelines cited by ScienceApologist are no less irrationally dogmatic and impossible to apply objectively:
WP:SOAP: “Wikipedia is not a soapbox, a battleground, or a vehicle for propaganda and advertising” — but ScienceApologist and HIV/AIDS vigilantes and untold others have used it and continue to use it precisely as soapbox and battleground, and Wikipedia’s supposed means of resolving disputes have not put a stop to that.
WP:NOR: “Wikipedia is not a place to publish your own thoughts and analyses or to publish new information” — but the mainstream-defending dogmatists are precisely publishing their own thoughts and analyses; and it is not obvious what “new” information is supposed to be excluded. What if it’s from “reliable sources”?
WP:FRINGE: “In order to be notable enough to appear in Wikipedia, an idea should be referenced extensively, and in a serious manner, in at least one major publication, or by a notable group or individual that is independent of the theory.
Even debunking or disparaging references are adequate, as they establish the notability of the theory outside of its group of adherents.”
— note first that a judgment is already implicit in the heading “Fringe”, and then of course there are the host of following imprecisions (“extensively”, “serious”, “major”, “notable”, “independent”). Worse perhaps is the apparent allowing of “debunking or disparaging”, as though adherents of a “fringe” matter ought to be honored to mentioned at all in Wikipedia.
“Coverage on Wikipedia should not make a fringe theory appear more notable than it actually is.[1] Since Wikipedia describes significant opinions in its articles, with representation in proportion to their prominence,[2] it is important that Wikipedia itself does not become the validating source for non-significant subjects”
— as though Wikipedia could or should ever be regarded as a “validating source”! Printed encyclopedias carried a certain imprimatur because the publisher’s reputation — and therefore livelihood — hinged on the validity of its entries, and often the individuals responsible for those entries were identified or identifiable. In Wikipedia, we have anonymous and pseudonymous contributors and editors, whose penchant for denigrating the views of others is evident on any matter where differing views on a particular subject exist.
WP:WEIGHT: “Neutrality requires that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each. Now an important qualification: In general, articles should not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more widely held views; generally, the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all. For example, the article on the Earth does not mention modern support for the Flat Earth concept, the view of a distinct minority.
In articles specifically about a minority viewpoint, the views may receive more attention and space. However, such pages should make appropriate reference to the majority viewpoint wherever relevant, and must not reflect an attempt to rewrite content strictly from the perspective of the minority view.”
— This of course underscores ScienceApologist’s declared ambition to keep out of Wikipedia even ideas like Galileo’s that turned out to be correct and that overturned an incorrect majority view.
WP:NOT:  specifies all the things that “Wikipedia is not” — even as many entries illustrate that in practice it is, for example, a soapbox and battleground.
WP:REDFLAG “Certain red flags should prompt editors to examine the sources for a given claim:
— surprising or apparently important claims not covered by mainstream sources;
–reports of a statement by someone that seems out of character, embarrassing, controversial, or against an interest they had previously defended;
— claims that are contradicted by the prevailing view within the relevant community, or which would significantly alter mainstream assumptions, especially in science, medicine, history, politics, and biographies of living persons. This is especially true when proponents consider that there is a conspiracy to silence them.
Exceptional claims in Wikipedia require high-quality sources.[5] If such sources are not available, the material should not be included. Also be sure to adhere to other policies, such as the policy for biographies of living persons and the undue weight provision of Wikipedia:Neutral point of view.”
— That last policy, principle, or guideline is perhaps the only one that actually needs to be cited, to show what Wikipedia really is (a fairy-tale cult) and is not (an objective, reliable source):
“Neutral point of view (NPOV) is a fundamental Wikimedia principle and a cornerstone of Wikipedia. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. This is non-negotiable and expected of all articles and all editors.”
— Right. Anonymous and pseudonymous contributors all have neutral points of view. Their strong motivation to contribute is a natural corollary of possessing a neutral point of view on all matters significant (“notable”) enough to be in Wikipedia. Non-negotiable!

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These “principles and guidelines” reek of the belief that complex matters are really simple, just so long as everyone is as rational and intelligent as those who created Wikipedia; and the belief that human beings are able to behave ideally, namely, like rational robots programmed by straightforward formulas.
The assertions that Wikipedia actually “is” and “is not” these various things remind me of a present given to me when I left the University of Kentucky to become Dean of Arts & Sciences at Virginia Tech: a framed motto, “Saying so, makes it so”, referring to an old essay of mine that had struck a spark of recognition among many in academe.

Cults are characterized by the accepting on faith of unproven assertions (“Saying so, makes it so”), that emanate from the cult’s guru; examples that spring to mind are Objectivism and Ayn Rand, the Unification Church and Sun Myung Moon, Dianetics/Scientiology and L. Ron Hubbard. (Thanks to Richard Karpinski for correcting my “H. Ron…).
The fundamental  reason why Wikipedia is so cult-like may be that it too was founded by a guru, Jimmy (Jimbo) Wales, who “describes himself as an Objectivist and, with reservations, a libertarian”.
‘Nuff said?

Not quite. I enjoyed Ayn Rand’s books, especially “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”, probably as much as anyone; just as I’ve enjoyed Leslie Charteris’s “Saint” books, say, and many other works that are fundamentally fairy tales: they tailor characters and plots in a sufficiently simplistic manner that the moral of the story comes through plainly — because that’s the whole purpose of a fairy tale, to teach something about morality. But reality is not a morality tale, and the attempt to have real people live like those in such simple fairy tales has never had a happy ending. (Don’t ever forget that the recent disastrous financial bubble was largely nurtured by Alan Greenspan, devotee of Objectivism applied to free-market economics.)
Jimbo Wales describes himself as an Objectivist, and he too, like Greenspan, seems to have allowed wishful thinking to overwhelm rational empiricism. In “Atlas Shrugged”, it’s quite possible and even appropriate to have John Galt and the good guys win; it’s a fairly tale, after all!  In reality, though, it’s the Ellsworth Tooheys (see “The Fountainhead”) and the looters and moochers (see “Atlas Shrugged”) who will take over by sheer force of numbers and reduce their domain to its lowest possible denominators.
That’s what has happened with Wikipedia, on subjects where the mainstream consensus has outlived its validity and survives only by suppressing the waves of the future.

An obvious cure for the worst ills of Wikipedia would be a requirement that every contributor be named and post a CV. That would constitute no problem for anyone who abides by Wikipedia’s principles and guidelines.

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A more drastic remedy is suggested by Tom Bolen in a must-read piece.

Posted in uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

Italy: Demographics of HIV and AIDS

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/01/02

Professor Ruggiero has sent recent official data about HIV and AIDS in Tuscany as well as in Italy as a whole. Both sets of data illustrate once more that HIV/AIDS theory is incapable of explaining salient demographic features of HIV and of AIDS.

For example, in Tuscany the male-to-female ratio for the incidence of AIDS has been essentially constant from 1985 to 2008 at ~3.6:

whereas the purported mode of transmission changed drastically: from ~8% of “HIV” being transmitted heterosexually to ~44% being transmitted in that way — see red curve in figure below:

Those data place a very curious constraint on how infection via dirty needles occurred in males and in females respectively: it must occur in precisely the same relative manner as sexually transmitted “HIV infection” occurs in males relative to females. Otherwise the M/F ratio for the consequences of “HIV”, namely AIDS, should have changed in some manner.
HIV/AIDS apologists can surely find a scenario to satisfy that constraint, while unprejudiced observers will recognize any such scenario as the usual attempt by HIV/AIDS theorists to sell a scientific analogue of snake oil or Brooklyn Bridges.
(American idiom and popular culture include such icons of public gullibility as that snake oil is a panacea for illness and that the Brooklyn Bridge could be bought.)

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Another remarkable phenomenon in the Tuscan data is the upward drift in the median age for an AIDS diagnosis:

The stochastic fluctuations reflect the small numbers involved in each year but do not mask that the difference in median ages between men and women was seemingly constant at about 3 years, while both increased from 1987 to 2008 by about 2/3 of a year per year.
Such an upward drift of the median age of AIDS diagnosis (as well as of the median age of first “HIV-positive” test and median age of AIDS deaths) is also present in US data, albeit of somewhat smaller magnitude (Deaths from “HIV disease”: Why has the median age drifted upwards?, 18 February 2009). The drift in the US data is partly explainable by a changing racial composition of those affected by AIDS. In Tuscany, the drift may be associated with the shift away from predominantly drug abusers (from ~54% to ~19%, see above): “HIV-positive” is a very non-specific indication occasioned by a wide variety of physiological conditions, certainly by serious illness and by drug abuse, and it seems plausible that serious drug abuse brings illness at an earlier age.

The Tuscan data also show quite clearly that AIDS incidence declined significantly after 1995, something that UNAIDS has belatedly acknowledged overall in the world (Not with a bang but a whimper, 2009/12/27).

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The national data from Italy, too, display trends that are incompatible with HIV/AIDS theory. Thus the relative rates of “HIV-positive” among men and women has remained the same

while — as in Tuscany — the supposed mode of becoming “HIV-positive” changed from ~75% drug-related to only ~5% drug-related and sexual transmission supposedly increased from less than 10% to ~80%:

And just as in the Tuscan and the US data, the median age of first “HIV-positive” test has drifted upward over the years:

Whatever the reasons may be for these drifts — changing composition of the populations being tested, changes in the tests themselves — they are certainly inconsistent with what one expects for a sexually transmitted condition about whose dangers the propaganda has been intense. As people become older and less at the mercy of pheromones and hormones, and as they learn from experience to behave less self-destructively (or as the more self-destructive die off), they surely become less and not more likely to contract this particular sexual disease.
But HIV/AIDS theory demands that we believe that all the panic and propaganda of the last 25 years has led mature adults, people exposed to that propaganda for all that time, to behave more foolishly as to sex than do adolescents and young adults. Let’s have some more of that great snake oil, please, and I’ll take another Brooklyn Bridge as well.

Then there’s that shibboleth about the dangers of mother-to-child transmission. Italy reports a total of 62,000 AIDS cases from 1982 to 2009, 27% of whom were women, therefore some 16,700. Yet only 716 cases of mother-to-child transmission have been recorded — in Tuscany, the region with the highest prevalence of “HIV-positive”, not a single pediatric AIDS case since 2001. Since the median age of “HIV-positive” women is right in the prime child-bearing years, this is so low as, once again, to throw into ludicrous question the tenets of HIV/AIDS theorists.

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As in the US data, the Italian data show astonishingly regular trends — astonishing, that is, for a sexually transmitted pathogen. Regular trends is another way of saying reproducible, predictable. The incidence of a sexually transmitted infection varies over time, by region, by sex, by age . . . as illustrated copiously in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory (for example, Figure 5, p. 32, and Table 5, p. 34 for gonorrhea, and Figure 4, p. 32, Figure 7, p. 33, Figure 8, p.35 for syphilis). By contrast, “HIV-positive” is ALWAYS at a maximum in early middle age; ALWAYS greater among those of African ancestry than among those of Caucasian ancestry, among whom it is ALWAYS greater than among people of Asian ancestry. In the United States, Hispanics on the West Coast are ALWAYS much less “infected” than Hispanics on the East Coast, be it among gay men or among child-bearing women or among soldiers or any other tested group.

Please explain those regularities as compatible with sexual transmission; and pass that snake oil again while you’re at it.

Posted in HIV absurdities, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV transmission, HIV varies with age, HIV/AIDS numbers, M/F ratios, sexual transmission | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »