HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Archive for the ‘scientific literacy’ Category

Why skepticism about science and medicine?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2020/09/06

(cross-posted from

My skepticism is not about science and medicine as sources or repositories of objective knowledge and understanding. Skepticism is demanded by the fact that what society learns about science and medicine is mediated by human beings. That brings in a host of reasons for skepticism: human fallibility, individual and institutional self-interest, conflicts of interest, sources of bias and prejudice.

I have never come across a better discussion of the realities about science and its role in society than Richard Lewontin’s words in his book, Biology as Ideology (Anansi Press 1991, HarperPerennial 1992; based on 1990 Massey Lectures, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation):

“Science is a social institution about which there is a great deal of misunderstanding, even among those who are part of it. . . [It is] completely integrated into and influenced by the structure of all our other social institutions. The problems that science deals with, the ideas that it uses in investigating those problems, even the so-called scientific results that come out of scientific investigation, are all deeply influenced by predispositions that derive from the society in which we live. Scientists do not begin life as scientists, after all, but as social beings immersed in a family, a state, a productive structure, and they view nature through a lens that has been molded by their social experience.
. . . science is molded by society because it is a human productive activity that takes time and money, and so is guided by and directed by those forces in the world that have control over money and time. Science uses commodities and is part of the process of commodity production. Science uses money. People earn their living by science, and as a consequence the dominant social and economic forces in society determine to a large extent what science does and how it. does it. More than that, those forces have the power to appropriate from science ideas that are particularly suited to the maintenance and continued prosperity of the social structures of which they are a part. So other social institutions have an input into science both in what is done and how it is thought about, and they take from science concepts and ideas that then support their institutions and make them seem legitimate and natural. . . .
Science serves two functions. First, it provides us with new ways of manipulating the material world . . . . [Second] is the function of explanation” (pp. 3-4). And (p. 5) explaining how the world works also serves as legitimation.

Needed skepticism takes into account that every statement disseminated about science or medicine serves in some way the purpose(s), the agenda(s), of the source or sources of that statement.

So the first thing to ask about any assertion about science or medicine is, why is this statement being made by this particular source?

Statements by pharmaceutical companies, most particularly their advertisements, should never be believed, because, as innumerable observers and investigators have documented, the profit motive has outweighed any concern for the harm that unsafe medications cause even as there is no evidence for definite potential benefit. The best way to decide on whether or not to prescribe or use a drug is by comparing NNT and NNH, the odds on getting benefit compared to the odds of being harmed; but NNT and NNH are never reported by drug companies. For example, there is no evidence whatsoever that HPV vaccination decreases the risk of any cancer; all that has been observed is that the vaccines may decrease genital warts. On the other hand, many individuals have suffered grievous harm from “side” effects of these vaccines (see Holland 2018 in the bibliography cited just below, and the documentary, Sacrificial Virgins. TV ads by Merck, for example in August 2020 on MSNBC, cite the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention as recommending the vaccine not only for girls but also for boys.

For fully documented discussions of the pervasive misdeeds of drug companies, consult the books listed in my periodically updated bibliography, What’s Wrong with Present-Day Medicine.
I recommend particularly Angell 2004, Goldacre 2013, Gøtzsche 2013, Healy 2012, Moynihan, & Cassels 2005. Greene 2007 is a very important but little-cited book describing how numbers and surrogate markers have come to dominate medical practice, to the great harm of patients.

Official reports may be less obviously deceitful than drug company advertisements, but they are no more trustworthy, as argued in detail and with examples in “Official reports are not scientific publications”, chapter 3 in my Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth (McFarland 2012):
“reports from official institutions and organizations . . . are productions by bureaucracies . . . . The actual authors of these reports are technical writers whose duties are just like those of press secretaries, advertising writers, and other public-relations personnel: to put on the actual evidence and conclusions the best possible spin to reinforce the bureaucracy’s viewpoint and emphasize the importance of the bureaucracy’s activities.
Most important: The Executive Summaries, Forewords, Prefaces, and the like may tell a very different story than does the actual evidence in the bulk of the reports. It seems that few if any pundits actually read the whole of such documents. The long public record offers sad evidence that most journalists certainly do not look beyond these summaries into the meat of the reports, given that the media disseminate uncritically so many of the self-serving alarums in those Executive Summaries” (p. 213).

So too with press releases from academic institutions.

As for statements direct from academic and professional experts, recall that, as Lewontin pointed out, “people earn their living by science”. Whenever someone regarded as an expert or authority makes public statements, an important purpose is to enhance the status, prestige, career, profitability, of who is making the statement. This is not to suggest that such statements are made with deliberate dishonesty; but the need to preserve status, as well as the usual illusion that what one believes is actually true, ensures that such statements will be dogmatically one-sided assertions, not judicious assessments of the objective state of knowledge.

Retired academic experts like myself no longer suffer conflicts of interest at a personal or institutional-loyalty level. When we venture critiques of drug companies, official institutions, colleges and universities, and even individual “experts” or former colleagues, we will be usually saying what we genuinely believe to be unvarnished truth. Nevertheless, despite the lack of major obvious conflicts of interest, one should have more grounds than that for believing what we have to say. We may still have an unacknowledged agenda, for instance a desire still to do something useful even as our careers are formally over. Beyond that, of course, like any other human beings, we may simply be wrong, no matter that we ourselves are quite sure that we are right. Freedom from frank, obvious conflicts of interest does not bring with it some superhuman capacity for objectivity let alone omniscience.

In short:
Believe any assertion about science or medicine, from any source, at your peril.
If the matter is of any importance to you, you had best do some investigating of evidence and facts, and comparison of diverse interpretations.

Posted in consensus, experts, prejudice, scientific literacy, unwarranted dogmatism in science, vaccines | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Disproving HIV/AIDS theory

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2018/02/06

After an old friend, a notably successful scientist, had read my book, The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory (McFarland, 2007), he remarked that the trouble was that it would lead to undermining trust in science overall.

But he was assuming, as do so many scientists, and so many of us who have been promoting HIV/AIDS dissent and AIDS Rethinking, that it is the facts of the matter that count; that evidence and factual reality are bound to carry the day in public discourse and public policies. That is simply not so nowadays.

Perhaps it was not so far from the truth in times past, when there was a “basic” or “pure” science carried on by relatively disinterested truth-seekers who were able to command sufficient research resources that came without strings attached.

Was that a purely mythical past?

Not really. During my student days and early faculty jobs at an Australian university, technical facilities were automatically available to the faculty: glass-blowing and other technical needs were provided by permanently employed service people; routinely used chemicals were on hand; reasonable sums of money were provided for purchase of more exotic items; publication was supported by secretarial staff, and of course in those times one’s articles were published in journals that did not demand “page charges” or other fees. We studied what interested us, what we thought would be fruitful, not what others told us to study.

That was half a century ago. There was competition, of course, but it was within civilized bounds. Peer reviewers could make bad decisions, perhaps partly under the influence of bias, but there was not much attempted suppression of rivals just for the sake of personal advancement, and outright fraud was rare indeed. We studied and practiced science pretty much as idealists. A fellow academic of my generation told me about 20 years ago that he still had his graduate students read Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith for its early-20th-century message of honesty, integrity, disinterestedness.

Younger people will doubtless read the above with incredulity. Nowadays a career in scientific research begins by working on what the scientific consensus considers appropriate. One spends a significant number of years in postdoctoral and other temporary positions waiting for the rare tenure-track slot to open up, competing then with other hopefuls who are also supported by long publication lists and records of research support; or perhaps one goes into “applied” research in industry or government. In any case, the research that gets done and then published is determined by the prevailing scientific consensus, not by the individual inspiration and ingenuity of an intellectual entrepreneur. In 1980, the recipient of a prize for scientific work described the subterfuge needed to get research support for anything novel, unconventional (Richard A. Muller, “Innovation and scientific funding”, Science, 209 [1980]: 880‑883).

No mechanism exists for mainstream science to rethink accepted ideas. Rather, everything works against dissent from contemporary theory. When it comes to HIV/AIDS, a simple thought-experiment will illustrate the point:

Try to imagine how Anthony Fauci, Robert Gallo, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention could possibly manage face-saving explanations for how and why HIV doesn’t really, after all, cause AIDS; how the Food and Drug Administration would find excuses for all its approvals of toxic antiretroviral drugs. Imagine the reactions of all the researchers who had avidly pursued mindless “research”, and all the science groupies and researchers who had defended wrong theory and maligned and persecuted the “denialists” who now turned out to have been right all along. Think about what would be said and done by the Gates Foundation and all the other charities and non-profits who had diligently worked to provide health care for people being made sick not by disease but by medication.

It seems to me simply inconceivable that “the scientific consensus” and its agents could ever retract about HIV/AIDS.

So the task of disproving HIV/AIDS theory is not a matter of offering contradictory facts, which have in any case been available in profusion for decades (The Case against HIV The task is first to persuade society that “science” can get it wrong, even and in particular on a matter that affects such huge numbers of people and huge expenditures by governments and by non-profits and charities.

Society as a whole needs to be disabused of mistaken beliefs about science, in other words. My old friend had it backwards: until unquestioned faith in science is replaced by sensible skepticism and a demand that evidence for claims be openly presented and defended against skeptics, evidence-based criticisms of HIV/AIDS theory will not gain even a foothold in the conventional wisdom, the popular media, the mainstream discourse.

On my other blog, I’ve just posted a detailed discussion of the salient points:

What has been so damaging is not so much sheer ignorance as beliefs that are wrong (Dangerous knowledge).

Wrong views about the history of science are rampant throughout society; especially how drastically different today’s science is from the idealized popular view of it — which, as I opined above, was actually not that unrealistic only about half-a-century ago (Dangerous knowledge II: Wrong knowledge about the history of science).

The popular belief is wrong, that science is infallible and made so by “the scientific method”. The fact is that the scientific consensus always defends itself vigorously even when it happens to be wrong (Dangerous knowledge III: Wrong knowledge about science).

There exists a vicious cycle: HIV/AIDS dissent (and dissent from any contemporary scientific consensus) is dismissed out of hand because science couldn’t possibly be wrong about so important a matter; but until it is realized that the scientific consensus on many contemporary issues is flawed, dissent in any given case will be dismissed out of hand, preventing the accumulation of the evidence that science nowadays is pervasively untrustworthy (Dangerous knowledge IV: The vicious cycle of wrong knowledge).

Posted in Alternative AIDS treatments, antiretroviral drugs, experts, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, scientific literacy, uncritical media | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

How has HIV/AIDS theory survived the evidence against it?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2017/07/05

In “How to defeat HIV/AIDS dogma?” I asserted that it is essential that official pronouncements not be accepted automatically and uncritically, that it is necessary for the realities of contemporary scientific activity be recognized, including understanding of how drastically different science is from popular views based on earlier times.

Most people know something like this about science:
It’s done by the scientific method which guarantees that theories are not acceprted unless the evidence supports them. Scientific knowledge is reliable because science is reproducible; and science self-corrects whenever new information requires it.

But if those things were true, then it could not be generally accepted that HIV causes AIDS.

Those statements about science are not obviously or seriously wrong about the first couple of centuries of modern science, roughly 17th century to mid-20th century. However, much about scientific activity changed out of sight following World War II, and by now those earlier descriptions don’t fit at all, they are absurdly and damagingly misleading.

How drastically science has changed and what its characteristics are nowadays are discussed in my newly published Science Is Not What You Think — How it has changed, Why we can’t trust it, How it can be fixed.

The “fix” refers to the possible establishment of a Science Court to adjudicate expert differences over technical issues. That was first suggested more than half a century ago when the experts were at loggerheads and arguing publicly over whether power could be generated safely using nuclear reactors.
More recently, some legal scholars have pointed out that such an institution could help the legal system to cope with cases where technical issues play an important role.
Beyond that, I suggest that a Science Court is needed to force the prevailing “scientific consensus” to respond substantively to critiques like those offered by HIV/AIDS dissenters. At present, Gallo and Fauci and the range of HIV/AIDS groupies get away with ignoring the arguments published by Peter Duesberg, Kary Mullis, and innumerable others, and the voluminous and mounting evidence that “HIV” cannot be the cause of AIDS — see The Case against HIV).

Posted in consensus, experts, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, scientific literacy, uncritical media, unwarranted dogmatism in science | Tagged: | 9 Comments »

Superstitious belief in science

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2017/05/16

Rethinkers have surely been perpetually astonished that so much clear evidence, almost all of it published in mainstream journals and reports, demonstrates that HIV is not the cause of AIDS; and yet official authorities and mainstream media, technical as well as popular, continue to uphold the myths of HIV/AIDS theory.

An underlying culprit is the unthinking obeisance paid to “science”: not to the evidence itself, the real science, but to what supposedly authoritative voices say. Few people other than academic specialists know how drastically scientific activity has changed over about the last half-a-century, making it much more an accessory of commerce and power than an independent truth-seeking enterprise, which latter remains the widespread popular view. But dramatic changes in how science is done, especially since mid-20th century, make it less trustworthy than earlier.

The hegemony of HIV/AIDS theory is unlikely to end until science as a whole is treated more skeptically and less superstitiously.

In 1987, historian John Burnham had published How Superstition Won and Science Lost, arguing that modern science had not vanquished popular superstition by inculcating scientific, evidence-based thinking; rather, science had itself become on worldly matters the accepted authority whose pronouncements are believed without question, in other words superstitiously, by society at large.

Burnham argued through detailed analysis of how science is popularized, and especially how that has changed over the decades. Some 30 years later, Burnham’s insight is perhaps even more important. Over those years, certain changes in scientific activity have also become evident that support Burnham’s conclusion from different directions: science has grown so much, and has become so specialized and bureaucratic and so dependent on outside patronage, that it has lost any ability to self-correct. As with religion in medieval times, official pronouncements about science are usually accepted without further ado, and minority voices of dissent are dismissed and denigrated.

A full discussion with source references, far too long for a blog post, is available here.

Posted in consensus, experts, scientific literacy, unwarranted dogmatism in science | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

How to defeat HIV/AIDS dogma?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2017/01/01

The evidence that “HIV” did not and does not cause “AIDS” is overwhelming, and has been set out in dozens of books. The point is also demonstrated in The Case against HIV, which lists >900 publications, most of them mainstream sources.

It’s no secret that HIV/AIDS dogma nevertheless remains hegemonic among official institutions, national and international.

I’ve come to believe that this will not change until a large enough proportion of people stop accepting automatically whatever official sources claim about scientific matters.

The necessary skepticism about seemingly authoritative statements about science can only be learned by coming to understand how science is done, and in particular how it is done nowadays. That means coming to realize how drastically science has changed since about the middle of the 20th century, from largely believable to automatically and uncritically believable only at one’s peril.

I’ve set out the pertinent history of science on my other blog: How Science Has Changed — notably since World War II.



Posted in HIV does not cause AIDS, scientific literacy, unwarranted dogmatism in science | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »