HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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Elsevier strikes again: Predator or merely parasite?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2015/05/04

According to the doubtfully reliable Wikipedia, “Elsevier B.V. . . . is an academic publishing company that publishes medical and scientific literature. It is a part of the Reed Elsevier group” which is “an Anglo-Dutch multinational publishing and information company co-headquartered in London, United Kingdom and Amsterdam, Netherlands. It operates in the science, medical, legal, risk, marketing, financial, and business sectors”.

Actually, Elsevier is strictly in the business of making money, not of providing information, and its activities have included MISinforming or DISinforming, as illustrated by these actions:

⇒ Elsevier put out a number of medical-company advertisements masquerading as professional medical journals — “Elsevier published 6 fake journals”; “Merck published fake journal”.

⇒ Elsevier took over and soon destroyed Medical Hypotheses, after having withdrawn an article that corrected a published error: It was claimed that there had been 300,00 AIDS deaths per year in South Africa, whereas the official count was reported by Statistics South Africa as about 15,000 — “Censored by Elsevier”; “Public Health Service of Italy accepts work of Ruggiero et al.”; Chapter 3 in Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth (McFarland 2012).

⇒ Now Elsevier is in the process of doing its destructive work on the Medical Journal of Australia: “Editor of Medical Journal of Australia fired after criticizing decision to outsource to Elsevier”.

The decision-makers at the company that controls the Medical Journal of Australia do not understand — as the Journal’s now-fired editor does —that the such “technical” matters as the procedures by which articles are submitted, the “infrastructure”, is inseparable from editorial matters. It determines how the Journal presents itself to prospective authors.
My own experience of publishing in an Elsevier journal can best be described as intense frustration at unnecessary complications: creating accounts, navigating ambiguous web pages, filling out numerous forms, putting up with inept computerese — all these only because Elsevier is so anxious to make profits, charging exorbitantly for reprints and requiring authors to pledge not to make copies of their own work available freely to others. Elsevier, not the author of an article, takes the copyright to articles in the journals it publishes. It does not forbid authors from sharing PREprints with the rest of the scientific community, but “Preprints should not be added to or enhanced in any way in order to appear more like, or to substitute for, the final versions of articles”, so that prospective readers will need to access articles via libraries that subscribe — at exorbitant rates — to Elsevier publications, or via reprints supplied to authors at outlandishly exorbitant charges: the article I published runs to 5 pages, and reprints would have cost me $220 for 100 (minimum order), decreasing per copy to $400 for 400 — for the economy version without covers; the deluxe off-prints with covers would have cost $430 for the minimum 100 (but less per copy for more, e.g. “only” $925 for 400). As everyone knows, once something has been printed, there is negligible marginal cost in running off any number of extra copies.

⇒ The exorbitant charges that bring Elsevier extraordinary profit margin led mathematicians to organize a boycott of Elsevier journals: “Why are we boycotting Elsevier?”; “Mathematicians organize boycott of a publisher”; “Scientists sign petition to boycott academic publisher Elsevier”; “Why Elsevier?”;  “The Elsevier boycott one year on”.
In 2010, on revenues of ~$3.2 billion, Elsevier’s profit was 36% (“Why scientists are boycotting a publisher”, Boston Globe, February 2012). Such a profit margin will make jealous even the racketeering Rx-drug industry (Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare by Peter C. Gøtzsche).

⇒ The possibility of cheap online publishing has brought an explosion of hundreds if not thousands of “journals” that librarian Jeffrey Beall has described as “predatory” since they offer nothing but opportunity for anyone to get published in “academic journals” if they can pay for it.
Beall’s survey of predatory publishers lists 693 in 2015, up from 18 in 2011, 23 in 2012, 225 in 2013, and 477 in 2014.
Is Elsevier not also predatory in the same way? It too offers authors online “open access” publishing for supposed more and quicker exposure, for a price: “Fees range between $500 and $5,000 US Dollars depending on the journal”.
And Elsevier too is responsible for the explosive growth in numbers of journals. In 1991, Elsevier took over the prestigious British journal THE LANCET. But prestige alone evidently doesn’t bring in enough money, so Elsevier has traded on The Lancet brand to proliferate publications: The Lancet Oncology since 2000, The Lancet Infectious Diseases since 2001, The Lancet Neurology since 2002; in 2013 were added The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, The Lancet Global Health, and The Lancet Respiratory Medicine; in 2014, The Lancet HIV.

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More reviews of DOGMATISM book

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/05/22

Two substantial reviews offering much room for further thought have just been published of Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth:

Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28 (2014) 142-48, by Donald J. DeGracia
Dogmatism in Science and Medicine (DSM) by Henry H. Bauer is about the corruption of modern science. For practicing scientists it is a disturbing book to read. Medicine is bitter, yet we put up with it to get better. DSM is bitter medicine intended to improve the health of science.
. . . .
Dr. Bauer does a professional, competent, and important job bringing the corruption of modern science into the light. The criticisms offered above do not detract from the fundamental correctness of the picture DSM paints, but instead underscore its seriousness, and the need to further refine the picture. To scoff at DSM or to think it is off-base is merely to reveal that the scoffer is woefully uninformed about the transformations that have occurred in science over the past decades. If one is a practicing scientist, or a concerned citizen of good will, one ignores this book at one’s own peril.

Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28 (2014) 149-52, by Brian Josephson
At the end of this fascinating book, Bauer asks the question: Can 21st century science become trustworthy again? He suggests that change must come from outside the existing institutions, which merely serve to perpetuate knowledge monopolies, but first the need for change must become generally recognized . Possibilities discussed include a Science Court; independent, publicly funded institutions that can assess scientific claims of public importance; and designated funds for non-mainstream research. Something of this nature is clearly needed.




Posted in HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, prejudice, uncritical media | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

What’s wrong with HIV/AIDS — and with ideologically determined “science”

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/05/22

Donald Miller, cardiac surgeon and now Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington (Seattle) has written an excellent critique of HIV=AIDS theory:

Fallacies in Modern Medicine: HIV/AIDS  (15 May 2014)

The venue, Lew Rockwell’s website, might be described as right-leaning libertarian: it advertises itself as “anti-state — anti-war — pro-market”. That HIV/AIDS dissidence can find an outlet virtually only in right-leaning places illustrates the sorry state of political-ideological division that shows no signs of ameliorating.
The same situation bedevils public discourse about “global warming” or “climate change”. Conservative-leaning media and groups and individuals seem almost always to be “denialists” on HIV/AIDS and global warming, whereas progressive-leaning media and groups and individuals seem almost always to regard HIV=AIDS and human-caused “climate change” as established fact, even as the plain evidence demonstrates that they are not established facts; see “A politically liberal global-warming skeptic?”  and “The Case against HIV”  (or for book-length treatment, Dogmatism in Science and Medicine).

These circumstances add to the characteristic loneliness of any position that lies between two extreme beliefs. My own sociopolitical leanings fit much better with MSNBC than with Fox News, but I can’t watch MSNBC without cringing whenever global warming or HIV/AIDS is mentioned, as individuals who have no familiarity with the actual evidence rant against us “denialists”.
I’ve also never stopped thinking of myself as science-trained, and have never lost my wonder and awe, that human beings have managed to gain so much evidence-based, science-mediated understanding of the natural world. So I cringe also when “scientific experts” hold forth about “the established fact” of HIV=AIDS or human-caused global warming. Or when President Obama declaims with full conviction about the necessity of combating climate change following indoctrination by his doctrinaire Science Advisor. Scientists (and “experts” generally) who abuse their expertise to propagandize their own beliefs instead of purveying summaries of the range of professional opinion are traitors to their profession.

The global news is replete with descriptions of warring groups of human beings killing one another over apparently irresolvable divisions of ethnicity or religion or political ideology, when it is so obvious to outsiders that all sides would benefit from compromises grounded in available evidence of what makes for sustainable, peaceful, human living.
It’s a great sadness that in the most advanced societies, in which science and technology have gained the most ground, such major issues as HIV/AIDS and global warming have become faiths that distort the facts just as egregiously as traditional religions so often have done.

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Race, HIV, media pundits

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/03/09

People carrying black-African genes test “HIV-positive” at far greater rates than do people without that genetic ancestry. HIV/AIDS theory “explains” that by postulating greater rates of careless “not-safe-sex” promiscuity and infected-needle-sharing drug injection. Thereby HIV/AIDS theory postulates significant genetic determination of behavior, which in other contexts is dismissed as pseudo-science.

Moreover, actual observations and studies have repeatedly shown that the facts vitiate that proposed “explanation”: Africans and African-Americans indulge in risky behavior at lower rates than do white Americans (pp. 77-9 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).
The conclusion is inescapable: HIV/AIDS theory is radically wrong about how “HIV-positive” is transmitted.

But that inescapable conclusion continues to escape mainstream practitioners and researchers and such media pundits as Donald G. McNeil Jr. of the New York Times (Poor Black and Hispanic men are the face of H.I.V.):

“The AIDS epidemic in America is rapidly becoming concentrated among poor, young black and Hispanic men who have sex with men”
NO. There’s nothing recent or rapid about it. The racial disparities have always been there (Chapters 5 & 6 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).
Furthermore, it is black WOMEN who are most affected compared to others, 20 times more likely to be “HIV-positive” than white women, whereas for males the ratio is (“only”) 7.

“Nationally, 25 percent of new infections are in black and Hispanic men, and in New York City it is 45 percent”
Yes, of course, because it’s blackness that contributes overwhelmingly to testing “HIV-positive”. Hispanics in New York are primarily of black Caribbean-African stock, whereas West-Coast Hispanics are largely non-black, of Latin-American stock. Therefore national-average rates of “HIV-positive” among Hispanics are lower than East-Coast Hispanic rates of “HIV-positive” (pp. 57-8, 71-2 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).

“Nationally, when only men under 25 infected through gay sex are counted, 80 percent are black or Hispanic — even though they engage in less high-risk behavior than their white peers” [emphasis added]; “a male-male sex act for a young black American is eight times as likely to end in H.I.V. infection as it is for his white peers. That is true even though, on average, black youths in the study took fewer risks than their white peers: they had fewer partners, engaged in fewer acts of sex while drunk or high, and used condoms more often”.
So McNeil is even aware of this conundrum which falsifies the central axiom of HIV/AIDS theory, namely, that HIV is transmitted as a result of risky behavior. Yet he does not follow this statement of fact with any explanation of this paradox which contradicts and falsifies mainstream views.
Instead, McNeil passes on without comment the usual meaningless weasel-words about some unspecified “intervention”:
“Critics say little is being done to save this group, and none of it with any great urgency. ‘There wasn’t even an ad campaign aimed at young black men until last year — what’s that about?’. Phill Wilson, president of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, said there were ‘no models out there right now for reaching these men’”.
What conceivable use could any models be, when it’s acknowledged that these supposedly at-high-risk people already practice less risky behavior than the no-high-risk white folk?
Still, of course there’s no harm in asking for more money even in absence of any clue what to do with it:
“With more resources, we could make bigger strides”.

What the mainstream says about the high rates of black “HIV-positives” is pitifully, woefully inadequate; it misses the whole point. It suggests that although their behavior is less risky, black folk have “other risk factors. Lacking health insurance, they were less likely to have seen doctors regularly and more likely to have syphilis, which creates a path for H.I.V.”
But it’s yet another counterfactual canard that syphilis and other STDs make it more likely that someone will “contract” “HIV”, i.e. become “HIV-positive”: there is simply no correlation between incidence of STDs and of “HIV” (pp. 31-5, 109 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).
As to insurance, what is the evidence that having health insurance makes for lower rates of being or becoming “HIV-positive”? This is simply hand-waving bullshit* emitted because no sensible explanation can be offered.
As to seeing doctors regularly, what is the evidence that seeing doctors regularly makes for lower rates of being or becoming “HIV-positive”? Quite the opposite, in fact: The largely white gay men who first contracted “AIDS” had mostly been seeing doctors very often because of their constant need for treatment after suffering all sorts of illnesses. Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, with a practice of largely gay clients in New York in the 1970s, had in fact warned his regular customers that if they did not change their lifestyle something drastic and awful would befall them.

And then, “Other risk factors include depression and fatalism” — What, pray, is the mechanism by which those conditions produce “HIV-positive”? Among people who are acknowledged to behave less riskily than those who are not at high risk of becoming “HIV-positive”?

Another popular non-explanation is that blacks become “HIV-positive” more often because “HIV-positive” is so much more common in the black community: It’s more common because it’s more common.

I cannot imagine a higher degree of hypocrisy, intellectual vapidity, sheer unwillingness to draw obvious conclusions from undisputed facts, than is demonstrated without fail and without end by mainstream researchers, doctors, and pundits when confronted with the plain fact that blackness makes for being “HIV-positive”.

Not that this perverse behavior is much different from behaving as though testing “HIV-positive” proved infection by “HIV” when standard authorities have long stated quite forthrightly that there is no gold standard “HIV” test, no test capable of demonstrating actual infection by “HIV”, and that the rates of false positives are inevitably high (Stanley H. Weiss & Elliot P. Cowan, “Laboratory detection of human retroviral infection”, chapter 8 in Gary P. Wormser (ed.), AIDS and Other Manifestations of HIV Infection, 2004 (4th ed.).

No technical expertise is needed to recognize the sheer unadulterated nonsense of talking about “risk factors” when the known end-result is less risky behavior. How can any number of purported risk factors be alleged to heighten risk when the facts show that the risk is lower of the only behavior that supposedly transmits “HIV”?

* Words uttered without regard to their truth — Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, 2005.

Posted in experts, HIV absurdities, HIV and race, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, HIV/AIDS numbers, prejudice, sexual transmission, uncritical media | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Race, HIV/AIDS, peer review

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/02/16

Reading recently a critique of peer review reminded me of the experience I had with the DuBois Review: Social Science Research on Race [1], and it also reminded me that I continue to regard the race-associated epidemiology of “HIV” as a salient Achilles’ Heel of HIV/AIDS theory.

The mainstream has completely avoided, refused, to face an inescapable dilemma: If HIV/AIDS theory is correct, that “HIV” spreads primarily by sexual intercourse and secondarily via infected needles, then adults who become “HIV-positive” did so in one of those ways. If an identifiable social or ethnic or racial group is always “HIV-positive” more than other groups, then the members of that group are more carelessly sexually promiscuous or more addicted to drug-injecting than are other human beings.
People of African ancestry test “HIV-positive” at a higher rate than others, always and everywhere [2] — in Africa, in the Caribbean, in Europe, in the USA. In the latter, most noteworthy is that Hispanics on the East Coast, who are largely of African ancestry, test “HIV-positive” at rates comparable to those of African-Americans, whereas West-Coast Hispanics, who are predominantly Central and South American, test “HIV-positive” at the much lower rates found among Native Americans. So African ancestry determines being “HIV-positive” even within a socially defined cultural or ethnic or language group like American Hispanics.

Therefore, if HIV/AIDS theory were correct, then African ancestry would significantly determine behavior that includes a much higher rate of careless promiscuity or drug-injecting addiction than is seen in people of non-African ancestry. “Much higher” might better be “extraordinarily higher”: a factor of more than 20 in Africa [2], and in the USA a factor of 20 for black females compared to white females and 7 for black males compared to white males [3]. Furthermore, since the observed or calculated rate of sexual transmission of “HIV” is so low, a phenomenal rate of promiscuity would be called for: 20-40% of adults having something like a dozen sexual partners concurrently and changing them about annually [4].

Never before has sexual behavior been ascribed by mainstream science to genetic determination in this fashion. Nor has any other behavioral characteristic ever been acknowledged to be so genetically determined and race-associated. Indeed, the very notion of behavior being significantly influenced by genetic factors (“sociobiology”, “evolutionary psychology”) remains highly controversial. HIV/AIDS theory is at odds with the mainstream consensus on the relationship between genes and behavior, moreover in a way that is consistent with now-largely-repudiated racial stereotypes.

I was taken aback, therefore, when the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention insisted to me that racial disparities in testing “HIV-positive” could be explained on behavioral grounds (p. 75 in 2]). In any case, the conundrum is quite plain, irrespective of theories about genetic determination of behavior:
Either African ancestry determines extraordinarily careless promiscuity of an extraordinarily high rate, possibly also an inconceivably high rate of sharing infected needles, or HIV/AIDS theory is plain wrong.

I continue to believe that this ought to be of prime significance to African-Americans. Official explanations try to skirt the issue and thereby make no sense, for example [3]:
“The greater number of people living with HIV in African American communities and the fact that African Americans tend to have sex with partners of the same race/ethnicity means that they face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter” — In other words, a classic tautology: there’s more HIV because there’s more HIV. But why are more African Americans “living with HIV” in the first place?
“African American communities have higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) compared with other racial/ethnic communities in the United States. Having an STI can significantly increase the chance of getting or transmitting HIV” — First, it is simply not true that African Americans always and everywhere have higher rates of STIs. Second, it is simply not true that rates of STI incidence correlate with rates of “HIV-positive” (p. 31 ff. in [2]), and anyway the racial disparities in testing “HIV-positive” are seen even among people who have STIs (Figure 12, p. 42 in [2]). Third, even if STIs and “HIV” did correlate, the same conundrum would apply of apparent racial determination of carelessly promiscuous sexual behavior.
“The poverty rate is higher among African Americans — 28% — than for any other race. The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty — including limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education — directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection” — This is waffling, no real explanation, simply bullshit [5]. In Africa, “HIV-positive” rates are greater among the higher economic strata of Africans [6].

Current official statements and practices emphasize that “HIV/AIDS” has become largely a problem for African-Americans and their communities. That is damaging in several ways: increasing the pressure on black Americans to be tested and thereafter subjected to toxic antiretroviral drugs; causing untold harm to people and their families who happen to test “HIV-positive”, for which there are innumerable possible causes (see The Case against HIV); and providing apparent support for racist stereotypes;

Half-a-dozen years ago, such considerations led me to submit a manuscript posing this conundrum or dilemma to what would seem the most obviously appropriate journal, the DuBois Review: Social Science Research on Race. I’ve already described briefly the fate of that MS. [1]. I said there that the journal did not give me permission to reproduce the reviewers’ comments verbatim, but looking back on the e-mail correspondence, I see that they did not refuse permission, they simply did not respond to my query. Furthermore, the reviewers’ comments were not marked confidential, neither was my e-mail correspondence with the journal. So I’ve decided that the full story might interest some of my readers, and I post here copies of my manuscript, of the reviewers’ comments, and of my correspondence with the journal.

[1] Pp. 49-50 in Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth
[2] The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory
[3] Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, “HIV among African Americans”, February 2013, February 2014
[4] James Chin, The AIDS Pandemic, Radcliffe, 2007, p. 64
[5] Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, 2005
[6] Theo Smart, “Structural Factors — PEPFAR: Greater wealth, not poverty, associated with higher HIV prevalence in Africa, according to survey”, nam-aidsmap, 2 August 2006

Posted in HIV and race, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, prejudice, sexual transmission, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »


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