HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

HIV/AIDS as pseudo-science

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/03/15

A vast literature in science studies, philosophy of science, history of science, sociology of science, and a variety of popular media deals with “pseudo-science”; sometimes enumerating instances of pseudo-science, sometimes focusing on a single example (creationism, or UFOs, etc, etc.) and sometimes grappling with an issue over which no consensus has been achieved despite a century or more of discussion: How to define pseudo-science? How to distinguish pseudo-science from real science?

The simplest identification of pseudo-science, with which almost no one would disagree (“there’s always one ….”), is something totally incompetent but pretending to be properly scientific. Examples can rather easily be found in “HIV/AIDS research”, for instance that one person has staved off the disease since 1978, which is several years before AIDS had even been identified and half-a-dozen years before “HIV” had been suggested as its cause (Mainstream HIV PSEUDO-science).

A commonly advanced supposed criterion for pseudo-science, directed often particularly at parapsychology, is an inability to reproduce results exactly. By that standard, HIV/AIDS “science” again qualifies as pseudo-science (HIV/AIDS and parapsychology: science or pseudo-science?)  — as of course does all of sociology and almost all of psychology.

My own empirically-based suggestion for when mainstream sources treat something as pseudo-science is if it differs from mainstream science in all the three aspects of established method, currently accepted fact, and standard theory. Once again, HIV/AIDS “science” qualified as pseudo-science (Defining pseudo-science: Three strikes against HIV/AIDS theory)  — that is, before it came to be accepted as unassailable dogma, which it was for reasons of politics and social factors, not on scientific grounds.

Yet another common criterion for supposedly characterizing pseudo-science, again often directed at parapsychology, is that claimed phenomena or events are not accompanied by the offering of any reasonable mechanism that could possibly cause those events or phenomena; see, for instance, Erich Goode, “Paranormalism and pseudoscience as deviance”, chapter 8, pp. 145-164 in Philosophy of Pseudoscience, University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Once more, HIV/AIDS qualifies as pseudo-science under that criterion. For three decades suggestions have been put forward as to how the purported retrovirus “HIV” could act to destroy the immune system. First it was found that some sort of direct action on the supposedly most involved immune-system cells (CD4 T-cells) was not a viable explanation. Subsequently a variety of indirect or “bystander” mechanisms have been suggested, all of which are notably non-specific, mere names like “chronic inflammation” unaccompanied by specific mechanisms (The Pathogenesis of AIDS).

By every measure that has been suggested for distinguishing science from pseudo-science, HIV/AIDS qualifies as pseudo-science.


P.S., after a useful comment sent to me privately:

As always, my intent here has been to undermine the pretensions of HIV/AIDS theory.
However, I also have quarrels with the very use of the term “pseudo-science”, because of the lack of agreed substantive meeting for the term; it is in practice not an objective label but a term of abuse. I’ve written a great deal about improper labeling of a number of matters as pseudo-science, and the fact that what was once called pseudo-science has sometimes become accepted science, and vice versa (Science or Pseudoscience: Magnetic Healing, Psychic Phenomena, and Other Heterodoxies, University of Illinois Press, 2001).

That parapsychology in particular has been called pseudo-science under a couple of the above-mentioned criteria should not be taken to mean that I think it is pseudo-science. However, I do think HIV/AIDS theory is dead wrong and deserves all sorts of pejorative labels.

11 Responses to “HIV/AIDS as pseudo-science”

  1. lukas said

    Prof bauer,
    I think that it is useless to express more words to say why hiv-theory is completely wrong on scientific basis and one could spend hours explaining why it is.I would like to ask you if you don’t think a pseudoscience can be so defined also on the basis of an existential or philosophical point of view.For exemple i would define absurd a science that would say that a microorganism is in the air,without showing it,neither the links that tie it to the diseases so people must wear some masks to breath,or the same bug is in food and have to put some plastic sheet on it.I mean an act of unprotected sex is required to make humanity continue.i cannot believe a malignant retrovirus jumped in humanity in 1984 so that what humans always did for thousands years became life-risking.It goes against the laws of nature and put divisions and incredible sufferings in humanity.I find absurd that a man meets a woman and have start wondering if she has a microbe or not.I find it more than absurd,I find it a complete madness.

    • Henry Bauer said

      I think one has to try to cover all aspects of “HIV” and “AIDS” so that people who first become aware that the official view is questioned can find whatever seems to them most potentially convincing. That’s why I tried to organize something comprehensive at The Case against HIV.
      Section 4.7 there lists some “Self-contradictions and absurdities of HIV/AIDS theory and practice”.

      As to pseudo-science, I agree with your approach, which is to point specifically to substantive points. My argument against using the label “pseudo-science” is that (1) it is just name-calling and (2) like all name-calling, it is used instead of bringing substantive specific arguments. Listing specific points, as you do here, is the same as explaining WHY something is pseudo, and that is in my view how it should always be done

      • lukas said

        As i said hiv-science can be defined “pseudo” on many aspects.One aspect in general is related to observation of specific phenomena and how the observation made on them is related to a theory.This involve the concept of “fraud”.For exemple i know even if i have no scientific background that observation of new phenomena can induce change in a scientific paradigm,as it add new data with experiments.But these new phenomena have not to be corrupted by scientists to force them to enter in an interpretative scheme just to confirm their theoretic construct as this is called fraud.Just to a specific exemple:In his book prof.Duisberg mention an experiment made to prove feline immunodeficiency in cats(FIV) who were injected with viruses.The problem is that scientists didn’t tell that those animals were ALREADY seriously sick for others reasons(!)Another aspect of fraud is the alteration of theories to match them with phenomena.The problem with hiv-theory is that it is a complete paradox and revert upside down all the complex of knowledges that were known till the moment of its appearence and that the new phenomena(that are not new) can be explained without the presence of a new virus.A specific exemple:Prof Duisberg claim that the notion of “lentivirus” is a fraudolent construct.This is a notion artificially invented to tie in time diseases with germs,while diseases must strike soon after infections and not decade(s) later.(and hiv doesn’t shows up to be morphologically a lentivirus after purification either).Complicated diseases cannot have a single sleeping-decade virus causation.So a “pseudo-science” is the one that alter experiments to make them match with theory,or alter theory to make it explain phenomena that have other explanation.

      • Henry Bauer said

        You’re using the term “fraud” in a weaker sense than is typically done. You’re right with your examples, they illustrate fraudulence in the sense of misleading other people; but the more common, stronger sense of fraud typically used in discussions of scientific misconduct requires that the culprit deliberately misleads, knows clearly that what he or she is saying is fraudulent. I don’t believe that’s the case with most HIV/AIDS researchers and proponents: they believe their own lies.
        Humans can go far wrong, in the face of evidence, for very long times. Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions described how scientists ignore, set aside, pay no attention to evidence against the accepted theory until some crisis when they can’t get any further. Imre Lakatos (“History of Science and its Rational Reconstruction”, a chapter in Method and Appraisal in the Physical Sciences, Cambridge University Press. 1976) described how scientists apply little fixes to accepted theories instead of admitting that they need to be replaced.
        If Gallo, Fauci, and all the other HIV/AIDS proponents realized that their theory is wrong, then they would be committing fraud. But I think they illustrate cognitive dissonance, the general human psychological phenomenon that makes it difficult for us to see, to take in, to appreciate facts that contradict our own beliefs. The classic discussion of cognitive dissonance is Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, & Stanley Schachter. When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of A Modern Group that Predicted the Destruction of the World, University of Minnesota Press, 1956.
        I think genuine deliberate fraud is still quite uncommon on major issues like global warming or HIV/AIDS. One of my favorite quotes is “NEVER ATTRIBUTE TO MALICE WHAT CAN BE EXPLAINED BY INCOMPETENCE”, because incompetence and cognitive dissonance are so much more common than deliberate malice.

      • lukas said

        I also truly believe that most of hiv-research is driven by genuine faith the researchers have in their premises or many of them are too busy in their job to start questioning the groundings of such a science or simply questioning is not in their horizon and see no reason to do it(as Kary Mullis said with an example “who works for IBM belong to that family and have no reason to start questioning if it works fine”).What makes me suspect that however “malice” is not completely absent is that when some remarks arise from the same main mainstream exponents or researchers are costantly ignored if they collide with the orthodox line that matches the pharmaindustry interests.For example Montaigner stated since 1990 that hiv was not by itself sufficient to cause aids but needed an other parassite(a mycoplasm),the same did retrovirologist Sonnabend saying aids require co-factors.The pharmaindustry interest coincide with “a single pathogen-a single magic bullet” paradigm,and they deliberately ignore cofactors as they could undermine this dogma.Or they ignore the conclusions that the Lancet August 2006 got to that established that arvs are toxic and not extend the quality of life or lifespan and indulge in their propaganda.Or the study that show that to high viral loads does not correspond cd4 depletion.These remarks do not come from the other side of the scientifical thought that they call denialism and I’ve personally experienced that when some make them notice they get neurotic or will not receive any answer.That is what makes me doubt that the hiv-establishment could not be honest on the subject

      • Henry Bauer said


        I don’t disagree, I just think “the hiv-establishment could not be honest on the subject” because of cognitive dissonance, not because they understand the evidence and willfully refuse to accept it.
        And there’s certainly malice, but it’s after the fact, when their beliefs are questioned and they cannot give a substantive reply

      • Henry Bauer said

        P.S. re “lentovirus”: The first “slow virus” was postulated by Carleton Gadjusek (Nobel Prize for that discovery, 1976) was the supposedly infectious agent supposedly responsible for kuru, a brain-killing disease in Papua/New Guinea. But later it was discovered that kuru — and similar ailments like bovine (BSE) and human encephalopathies, are actually brought on by misshapen proteins, prions (Nobel Prize 1996 to Stanley Prusiner)

      • lukas said

        I’ve always thought that science was a field with strict laws and that there was no space for such a thing such as cognitive dissonance.As the same as to someone that partecite to a chess tornaument is required to observe the rules and noone would aspect to attend it playing his arbitrary rules becouse he thinks these must be played .I supposed the existence of a perfect way to determine what is scientific and what it is not without involving extra-scientific arguments,i don’t know if it’s me who had a noble conception of science.Just an example with hiv theory is :Does it satisfy koch’s postulates?(I would say no abundant virus found in blood,no animal model,etc.etc).So i think that science have tried to put rules.An escape is to say that the phenomena is so new that it reverse upside down all the rules:my istinct tells me to be suspicious when i hear such a claim.I could understand that some extraforces such as pharmainterests push on this interpretation and they are eager to dogmitise it but i don’t see why the society,the jurisdictions are not independent and don’t look at scientific tradition which is in contradiction with the hiv-theory.I understand that also many aspects can be nebolous in science (such as isolation:it means different things to different scientists) but it is difficult to accept that there does not exist an objective indicator that establishes what is scientific and what is not,and that it cannot be ignored,and that whoever it does it is justified and not accused to play a dirty game.

      • Henry Bauer said

        Science is a human activity and is subject to all the problems associated with human behavior. Science doesn’t have the precise rules that chess does, and certainly doesn’t have the supervision present in chess tournaments or the discipline enforced by chess clock-timing.
        The ideals of science are disinterestdness, changing one’s mind whenever the evidence seems to demand it, and total competence. Humans aren’t capable of those things. Conflicts of interest have corrupted science increasingly: see my piece on my other blog, “From Dawn to Decadence: The Three Ages of Modern Science, 2012/12/03”

  2. Francis said


    Your comment on Prions is remarkably similar to an orthodox position on HIV. Even Wikipedia acknowledges that prion causation is a hypothesis and there is debate around it. Indeed there is less to suggest prions are responsible for BSE and other spongy brain syndromes than HIV causes AIDS and remarkably no one is using the term “Prion Denier” anywhere. In the case of Mad Cow Disease there is a far better correlation to the use of organophosphates for the treatment of warble fly than any suddenly discovered infectious protein.

    And while I’m not trying to be critical, it does highlight that if you don’t have any real knowledge of a particular area you are prone to accepting without question the mainstream explanation. I also agree with you that there probably isn’t a great deal of malice in keeping HIV/AIDS going, with the exception perhaps of Big Pharma – I think it has become such a large and intensely specialised area that pretty much the researchers can’t see the wood for the trees and each accepts the published work of the others without question. There is also the issue of attempting to break things down in to ever smaller components looking for a singluar root cause for every ailment rather than accepting that animals are complex creatures and multiple factors contribute towards disease states.

    • Henry Bauer said

      I agree entirely.
      It is a very important general point, that no one has the time to look in sufficient detail at every controversial issue in order to reach an informed, personal opinion; so on other matters we accept opinions from individuals or groups or institutions that we think we can trust.
      As to prions, I should have worded my little comment a bit differently, maybe like this: the mainstream view of causation of BSE and its ilk began with Gajdusek’s postulate of a slow virus, but some decades later the mainstream view switched to the prion hypothesis.
      I happen to agree with you in being very skeptical about the prion hypothesis. I can’t grasp the notion of alternative configurations of proteins being so stable that they can be transmitted in that “misshapen” way as an infection and then somehow convert the non-mis-shapen into mis-shapen. It implies that the normal, non-mis-shapen configuration is less stable than the mis-shapen one. However, I also haven’t taken the time to inform myself of what detailed mechanism, Prusiner and other prion proponents may have suggested.
      Anyway, thanks for an important corrective comment.

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