HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Duesberg publication noted in NATURE, infuriates HIV/AIDS vigilantes

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2012/01/08

“Evidence-based medicine: No HIV/AIDS epidemic”  drew attention to the article, “AIDS since 1984: No evidence for a new, viral epidemic — not even in Africa”, Italian Journal of Anatomy & Embryology 116 (# 2, 2011) 73-92, by Duesberg, Mandrioli, McCormack, Nicholson, Rasnick , Fiala, Koehnlein, Bauer & Ruggiero. The article summarizes epidemiological evidence, and reiterates points made in the Medical Hypotheses publication that had been withdrawn by Elsevier publishers at the behest of HIV/AIDS vigilantes spearheaded by Nobel-Prize awardee Barré-Sinoussi (“Elsevier-Gate”).
That this material had been published in a peer-reviewed mainstream journal of long and honorable standing, indexed in all the leading professional places including PubMed, was judged noteworthy by Nature: see the article by freelance journalist Zoë Corbyn at Nature.com, 5 January. Corbyn’s news report is quite evenhanded and factual, paying the needed amount of attention to the outraged protests by “leading AIDS researchers and campaigners” — of whom the only one actually named is Nathan Geffen, a South African activist who lacks any of the scientific credentials for whose supposed lack he and his colleagues like to castigate AIDS Rethinkers.
The Comments to this Corbyn piece at Nature.com seem as if designed to warm the cockles of Rethinkers’ hearts. An amusing bit of trivia in those exchanges is that the editorially chosen heading for Corbyn’s piece had been “Paper refuting HIV-AIDS link secures publication — Work by infamous AIDS contrarian passes peer review”. This was soon changed (though not immediately on the Nature home page) to “Paper denying HIV-AIDS link secures publication — Work by infamous AIDS contrarian passes peer review”. As is the wont on Internet discussions, a certain amount of emotional energy was discharged over this terminology and substitution. As I pointed out long ago, in connection with Kalichman’s use of “refute” throughout his book (“HIV/AIDS refuted, according to Kalichman! — Kalichman’s very-Komical Kaper #8”), the Oxford English Dictionary notes that “refute” in the sense of “deny” is an acknowledged but archaic usage. That makes it appropriate to the archaic Dark-Ages mindset of HIV/AIDS vigilantes in which any deviation from authoritative orthodoxy is heretical, and those who commit it should be banished beyond the pale: imprisoned if Mark Wainberg had his way, or at least deprived of employment if he and John Moore had their way. Among the gurus of language usage who had their say about this was a graduate student in economics, who doubtless learned from his mentor, economist Nicoli Nattrass, that economists are qualified to speak with authority on every matter in any discipline.
I was delighted that Clark Baker was able to draw attention of Nature.com readers to the fact that the Office of Medical & Scientific Justice (OMSJ) has already succeeded in 38 cases in defending individuals charged with criminal transmission of “HIV”, because the prosecutors cannot find HIV/AIDS experts willing to be cross-examined under oath in court. Among other things, Baker challenges anyone to find a mainstream expert willing to run that gauntlet.
I was very pleased with the comments from activist Richard Jefferys, because they draw attention to the RA website, to the AIDS TRAP leaflet, to several articles like those showing that the risk of catching “HIV” is negligible even for medical students in South Africa, let alone in Italy, and — by no means least, in my view — to this blog. These citations are highly welcomed. Quite a few hits on my blog yesterday and today came from people who had linked to it from the Nature.com site, evidently people who had not previously known of my blog.
Jefferys illustrates quite a few of the tactics that activists typically engage in, like criticizing matters of procedure instead of addressing central substantive issues; insinuating guilt by association because Duesberg agreed to talk to someone representing as mainstream-sounding an organization as the American Family Association; attempting to make smear charges persist by saying that lack of evidence of guilt does not constitute clearing of charges — what about innocent unless proven guilty?
As Charles Geshekter notes, “The hyperbolic and frenzied comments from Richard Jefferys confirm that the article destabilized and agitated the AIDS orthodoxy, and that’s a good thing”.
Several of the vigilante commentators try to remain anonymous, by contrast to the Rethinkers who all write under their own names. Those familiar with this quite typical state of affairs will already have identified “Ed Daring” as a pseudonym, for example, or “Jack Knight”, who links to his “HIV Innocence Project Truth” which castigates Clark Baker and OMSJ for lack of transparency even while remaining anonymous. Connoisseurs will even have a very good idea which of 2 or 3 candidates those pseudonyms attempt to mask, as Clark Baker noted. Google is also an excellent resource for clues to the people behind pseudonyms.
Rethinkers should enjoy this cornucopia of vigilante fury and incompetence and shameless cherry-picking. For example, “Colin Esperson” links to a graph that does not appear in the sources he cites, Hall et al. (JAMA 300 [2008] 520-9) and MMWR 57 #39 (2008) 1073-76.

 Hall et al. estimate incidence (annual new cases) by an ingenious — not to say ingenuous — “extended back-calculation approach” that exemplifies the stimulus for the well-founded folklore about “lies, damned lies, and statistics” (see Darrell Huff, How to lie with statistics, 1954/93; Joel Best, Damned lies and statistics: untangling numbers from the media, politicians, and activists, 2001, and  More  damned  lies  and  statistics:  how  numbers confuse  public issues, 2004).
MMWR 57(39) estimates the prevalence (total number of cases) for 2006 at 1,106,400 (1,056,400–1,156,400) — an invigorating illustration of the penchant HIV/AIDS gurus have to imply extraordinary accuracy to guesstimates, in this case to 5 significant figures despite an acknowledged range of no less than 5%. Improved data are supposed to allow a correction for the estimates for 2003, from (1,039,000–1,185,000) down to 994,000. It is stated that the method of estimation used in the 1990s cannot be applied in later years owing to purported effectiveness of antiretroviral treatment, but I find no data reported here from those years to give a basis for the graph offered by “Esperson”. On the other hand, uncontested earlier data from official sources, cited on pages 1-2 of my book, are —

1986: 1-1.5 million
(MMWR 36 #49, 18 December 1987, 801-4)
1987, refinement for 1986: 945,000 to 1.41 million
(MMWR 36, suppl. 6, 18 December 1987, 1-20)
Mid–1988: 1.5-2 million
(Kaslow and Francis, The Epidemiology of AIDS: Expression, Occurrence, and Control of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Infection, Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 93)
1989: ~1 million
(MMWR 39 #7, 1989, 110-2, 117-9)
1993: >1 million
(Merson, Science 260 [1993] 1266-8, Fig. 1)
2003: >1 million
(Glynn and Rhodes, JAMA 294 [2005] 3076-80)

“Esperson’s” not-sourced figure for prevalence is reminiscent of, but not exactly the same as, numbers offered in AIDS in the World II, edited by Mann & Tarantola (Oxford University Press, 1996), numbers based entirely on one or more of the several computer models and ignoring the officially published data just cited.

So: I recommend highly reading, for amusement, the ensuing commentaries on the Nature piece by Corbyn, just bearing in mind that where comments from HIV/AIDS enthusiasts are concerned, the watchwords are, CAVEAT   LECTOR.

22 Responses to “Duesberg publication noted in NATURE, infuriates HIV/AIDS vigilantes”

  1. Arrest Bauer and Duesberg Now! said

    I note the Nature article’s mentioning a notion that the Rethinkers are on their last legs. Would you agree that it’s more like the opposite, that not for a long time has the Rethinkers’ position been so strong? And the bubble might burst in not too long? Hilarious “scientific debate” in the comments following the article!

    • Henry Bauer said

      “Arrest Bauer and Duesberg Now!”:
      Just as well I recognized your e-address, for a moment I thought this was from another of TDJ’s blogs.
      To be serious: I have no sense of how strong the Rethinker position is now, or what the ups and downs have been over the years. My guess is that there was a better chance of getting a proper hearing early in the AIDS era. I have no doubt about the eventual outcome, but I don’t know whether it will come with a bang or with a long-drawn-out whimper

      • Release Bauer and Duesberg Now! said

        How long? Lysenkoism appears to have been ended by rather obvious food shortages resulting from the agricultural pseudoscience. In respect of HIV/AIDS it might be easier to conceal indefinitely, except for increasing absurdities of “elite controllers” and the fact it’s clearly not the terrifying urgent epidemic we imagined in the 1980s, and the increasing awareness that the tests are rubbish and the treatments likewise, and also decreasing credibility of medical authorities generally.
        So WordPress bloggers can see the commenters’ e-addresses? Pseudo-anonymity!

      • Henry Bauer said

        Release Bauer and Duesberg Now!—
        The quite general problem for all societies is that beliefs and policies and actions are so rarely and so weakly coupled to facts of the matter. Economic gurus continue to squabble about which ideology is correct even as the copious data and long experience clearly invalidate all the extreme ideas.
        Blogs cannot be moderated effectively if the moderator cannot communicate with would-be commentators. Comments can be made anonymously so far as blog readers are concerned; and the moderator may not necessarily require more identification than a valid e-mail address, which can be traced to an individual only at some effort and expense. So far I’ve not felt the need to ask for personal identification, though I might not have blocked a couple of commentators (e.g. “Fulano de Tal”) if they had been willing to come clean and engage in open, honest debate.

  2. More pseudonyms:
    Rob Marciano (easily identified). Ruairidh MacDonald (his remarks reveals his identity to insiders)

  3. SkepticalGuy said

    https://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/hivaids-refuted-according-to-kalichman-kalichman’s-very-komical-kaper-8/

    Thanks for reminding me of this in your recent post. I got a few laughs out of this, subtle as the humor might be.

    Have there been any stirrings in the Kalichman et al. camp recently? I don’t think you’ve mentioned them in a long time. Then again, what would one expect from them anyway, other than bad behavior, and nasty language?

    Henry:
    “Just as well I recognized your e-address, for a moment I thought this was from another of TDJ’s blogs.”

    You mean JTD? The poison pen, err, poison keyboard? That guy has a special place in my Hall of Shame. His behavior really borders on psychotic, I think. His cyberstalking of J. Barnett in particular and the vile things he says are kind of baffling, honestly. I don’t get it. He must have some kind of remuneration for his tireless efforts.

    http://www.nature.com/news/paper-denying-hiv-aids-link-secures-publication-1.9737#/comments
    Uh, oh!
    >> “Comments

    Sorry, there was an error fetching comments for this article.”

    Well, I guess I will not be able to see them. I notice that two of their other pieces on Duesberg have intact comments.
    Mysteriously vanishing comment section? Maybe just a technical glitch?
    “Computers don’t make mistakes: they do it on PURPOSE!”

    Under the title of the article, it says
    “Work by infamous AIDS contrarian passes peer review.”
    SHOCK! AWE! Reminiscent of some of the Climategate 2.0 emails “Oh my GOD! I can’t believe (insert journal) would publish something critical of our Holy Hockey Stick. Science has been tarnished! Heads must roll!”

    >>Romagnoli says he decided to review the revised paper because the original was withdrawn by Medical Hypotheses not for “flawed or falsified data” but for “highly controversial opinions” — which the IJAE’s readers can make up their own minds about.

    “Speculative conclusions are not a reason for rejection, provided they are correlated with the data presented,” he says.

    Highly controversial opinions. Right. More evidence that peer-review works, except when it doesn’t. Peer review is valuable, except when you have been deemed to have wrong opinions.

    BTW, I thought it wasn’t opinion, but some very tenuous “conflict of interest” regarding Dr. Rasnick? Well, at least that was the official story. Or am I confusing the misconduct charges with the publishing?

    • Henry Bauer said

      SkepticalGuy:
      I haven’t tried to find out what Kalichman does. He has a blog, but I don’t look at it.
      I think it’s Todd De Jong.
      I’m waiting to see whether the Nature.com “Comments” difficulties are technical or political.

      • swrisch said

        …guesss it’s political because although the comments weren’t available yesterday the article ratings (on the right side of the nature page) showed 80 comments on the article (made it to no. one in the comments!), this morning also this counter is curiously down to 23 comments only….

      • SkepticalGuy said

        Well, I checked out his blog several times back when you wrote Kalichman’s Kapers series. I like to be open minded towards the guy and his opinion, but you kind of exposed the somewhat shallow nature of his little clique, I think.
        As for the other culprit, he generally goes by J. Todd DeShong, when he’s not using an alias. Given “Joe Newton’s” activities, I have wondered if DeShong, who seems to like pseudonyms as well, is on someone’s payroll, and he uses the same tactic as his benefactor? That might help explain his behavior maybe.
        Time and again, the scientific orthodoxy (AIDS in this case) employs the most hostile of tactics.

        Nature comments for that article are still missing. I wanted to read them. One of the other articles on Duesberg being warned, which I saw you left a comment on, was pretty interesting. Comments are wonderful for second opinions and rebuttals by the maligned, and you and Rasnick both used that opportunity.
        I gathered that the paper was refused summarily, and only afterwards was it reviewed.

      • Henry Bauer said

        SkepticalGuy:
        Ah, yes, I got it wrong, it’s DeShong not DeJong. Clark Baker has said quite a bit about his identity and activities, can’t locate it now, but DeShong appears to be his real name.
        See comment from swrisch with link to the comments saved by Clark Baker.
        Which paper of Duesbeg’s are you referring to that was refused summarily? See my blog “Elsevier-Gate” for much about one fo them.

      • swrisch said

        …fortunately Clark saved most of the comments: http://www.omsj.org/corruption/nature-bends-over-for-gay-activists#more-3975
        …cool!

  4. SkepticalGuy said

    Henry:
    Economic gurus continue to squabble about which ideology is correct even as the copious data and long experience clearly invalidate all the extreme ideas.

    Forgot to ask about this above. An example?
    Something that’s been in my mind lately is: ask 3 PhD economists how to solve America’s financial problems, and you get three different opinions. Corbett Report did a program not too long ago entitled “Expertology” or something like that, and how people put blind trust in those labeled as experts.

    All I can say about economic extremes, is summed up in the title of a John Stossel piece at Reason.com..
    http://reason.com/archives/2011/11/03/the-stupidity-of-buy-american/1#commentcontainer

    Yes, wanting to support American products, and American manufacturing is apparently stupid to Mr. Stossel. In his world, the whims of corporations, cheap foreign labor (or imported unchecked immigration) and lower prices at WalMart are best for America, because whatever is good for the “free market” is ultimately good for America.

    I come down on the Constitutional libertarian side on a lot of issues, but some just seem dogmatic, rather than embracing pragmatism. I call the Stossel types the Ayn Rand cultists, because they often behave like a cult!

    Not HIV related, so pardons, but you mentioned it, so I had to indulge! Actually, the philosophical angle certainly has pertinent applications in many areas, like a template of sorts, like you pointed out once when comparing climate and AIDS science.

  5. Gene said

    Hi Henry.

    Just a comment on economics.

    According to Warren Mosler and modern monetary theory [MMT], the US of A is not insolvent and it’s impossible for the US Treasury and Federal Reserve SYSTEM to ever be bankrupt.

    I realize this may be counter-intuitive to some but Mosler backs up his case with the operational realities of the money/banking system. He also makes the case that there can never be a ‘debt burden’ that impacts the living standards of future generations. And the necessity of ‘households’ to balance their budgets, as deficit fetishists like to go on about, has nothing to do with a government that issues its own currency.

    Thus the US of A is NOT in the same situation as Greece or Italy.

    I’m reading the ‘7 Deadly Innocent Frauds’, which is in lay language except for technical footnotes, and he lays out his argument quite well – highly recommended.

    Here’s the place to start for those who are interested in MMT and a way out of the extant Depression.

    http://moslereconomics.com/2011/06/13/modern-monetary-theory-the-last-progressive-left-standing/

    Peace

    • Henry Bauer said

      Gene:
      Thanks. But let’s not focus too much on economics, it’s often called the dismal science. But come to think of it, that’s a good term for HIV/AIDS “science” too….

    • SkepticalGuy said

      Thanks Gene, I might peruse that site, though I am wary of all economics experts!

      The only reason I mentioned it, other than that Henry did, was that it has been bothering me how rigid some of those “experts” can be.
      We all know the saying: when all you have is a hammer, everything tends to look like a nail. This pervades politics and economics, as well as AIDS (both sides of the fence) and other science studies.
      Some of the people, like the economic ideologues, almost behave as if they have been handed a Ten Commandments by God in their respective study, where everything has a standard, unswerving answer.

      Hmmm. Dismal science? https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/The_dismal_science
      Never heard that one that I recollect, but there is the evidence!

      I’m being a little silly but: which is more fact-based? Psychology or economics? They both seem to be in a similar corner.

      • Henry Bauer said

        SkepticalGuy:
        Economics went wrong — in the overwhelming mainstream — several decades ago when it turned to theory-top-down mathematics instead of being empirical.
        Psychology and sociology go wrong when they try to be “scientific” and interpret that as quantitative and “science” as the only way to reliable knowledge.
        Nowhere can you avoid the need to exercise good judgment and pay attention to evidence, no matter how sophisticated your theoretical approach. Physicists forget this often, like the social scientists.

  6. Gene said

    Thanks for those two responses Henry and SG.

    I agree that one has to be wary of econometrics – the GIGO principle, and of course mathematical models of ‘HIV replication’ that have never been verified.

    A fascinating essay on this subject, a book review of ‘Trust in Numbers-the Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life’ is available here – highly recommended –

    http://www.issues.org/13.2/ravetz.htm

    BTW, I last encountered Jerome Ravetz at a Society of Risk Analysis meeting decades ago as one of the mentors of this quite interesting interdisciplinary organization. As a member, one of my professional perks, I can assure readers they really were interested in bridging disciplinary boundaries.

    • SkepticalGuy said

      Gene, it seems many things exist “in theory”: HIV, Big Bang, Anthropogenic Global Warming or whatever scary sounding name they’ve decided to go with for the time being, ie Catastrophic Climatological Fluctuation (made it up), abiogenesis of organisms..

      Society of Risk Analysis? I’ll check that out. Interdisciplinary…

      HA! Interdisciplinarianism!
      I put that into a search engine, and was surprised to actually see it in usage, although I don’t think anyone officially recognizes it. It’s certainly dictionable if nothing else, but I’m pretty sure it would be acceptable, since the suffix is valid and all. Not sure on the “rules” of augmenting words like that.
      http://anythingexceptthetruth.blogspot.com/2008/07/interdisciplinarianism.html
      Sorry for the diversion! Back to your regularly scheduled program…

      • Henry Bauer said

        SkepticalGuy:
        “Interdisciplinarianism” seems to me that it should mean making a fetish out of interdisciplinarity, not being interdisciplinary. There is also a need to define and distinguish between interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary; I like to use the first for working in a way that’s not bound by any single discipline but manages to meld facts, ideas, etc., from several disciplines to create something distinctive and original, which is very difficult and rare, in effect creating a potential new discipline of its own, e.g. what evolved into biochemistry or biophysics. The ambition of “science studies” is to create such a new entity to transcend history, sociology, philosophy, etc., of science.
        But most stuff that’s loosely described as interdisciplinary is really only multidisciplinary, accumulating stuff from several individual disciplinary viewpoints.

  7. SkepticalGuy said

    swrisch said:
    …guess it’s political because although the comments weren’t available yesterday the article ratings (on the right side of the Nature page) showed 80 comments on the article (made it to no. one in the comments!), this morning also this counter is curiously down to 23 comments only….

    Highly interesting! I guess, thanks to that link, I can at least read them. I’m intrigued which comments they whittled away. That will remain a mystery, at least for the time being.
    UPDATE?: I can’t find the counter you were referring to, and maybe I was confused by what you said, but now there are some comments there, mostly from Richard Jefferys, and surprisingly quite a few from Clark Baker.
    At the bottom of comment section, it says comments are currently not accepted. I don’t know if the time limit expired (some have a deadline for commenting) or if that’s part of the disappearing/re-appearing text. Appears from my count to be about 21 comments there now.

    I’ll check this link, thanks http://www.omsj.org/corruption/nature-bends-over-for-gay-activists#more-3975
    Hmm. Has Bauer linked to this site before? OMSJ sounds very familiar, but don’t think I’ve been there before. Seems like a very helpful site to bookmark.

    Henry Bauer:
    >>Clark Baker has said quite a bit about his identity and activities, can’t locate it now, but DeShong appears to be his real name.

    I’ll do a search on his site then. Unfortunately, blog search engines are sometimes good at returning a ton of results that aren’t quite what you are looking for.

    Henry Bauer:
    >>Which paper of Duesbeg’s are you referring to that was refused summarily? See my blog “Elsevier-Gate” for much about one of them.

    Yeah, I read your post when that controversy first started. I was referring to what’s at this page http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100504/full/news.2010.210.html
    A very contrived controversy… much ado about nothing. It seems they were looking for any tiny excuse to scream bloody murder over! But isn’t that their modus operandi anyway?

  8. SkepticalGuy said

    Henry Bauer:
    Nowhere can you avoid the need to exercise good judgment and pay attention to evidence, no matter how sophisticated your theoretical approach.

    Spot on. Some studies are heavy on theory, but short on down-to-earth practicality. Or with politically infused studies, heavy on dogma and “one-size-fits-all” remedies.

    Off topic question: I noticed that text smilies translate into graphic smilies in the actual post. Are italics code (like BBCode) allowable in comment section?
    A minor pet peeve of mine is cluttered text where everything is just vanilla text, because sometimes it’s a bit daunting to read certain things, or differentiate quotations that run together, which is why I have been occasionally resorting to using “>>” for that.
    Was just wondering if italic codes work or are allowed, as sometimes differentiated formatting is easier on the eyes, so when quoting someone, I can just put that in italics or something so it stands out better.
    Or maybe you would rather no one did?
    I can make do with whatever, just a peculiarity of mine!

    • Henry Bauer said

      SkepticalGuy:
      When I reply, there are buttons that allow me to put in a link and to make font bold or italic. There are several other buttons whose functions I haven’t explored. I don’t know how to do this when there are no buttons, which is the case for posting comments in the first place.

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