HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘Charles Geshekter’

Public Debate about Leung film

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/10/25

On 28th October, the SPECTATOR magazine (London UK) arranged a debate on the occasion of a screening of Brent Leung’s “House of Numbers”.

I await with high interest a report on that debate, which featured Professor Beverly Griffin (Imperial College London), Dr Joe Sonnabend (founding editor of AIDS Research), Rt. Hon. Lord Norman Fowler (former UK Secretary of State for Health), Charles Geshekter (emeritus, California State University) as well as Brent Leung, Director/Producer.

In the meantime, one can read this preview of the debate by Neville Hodgkinson already published at the SPECTATOR.

STOP PRESS, 26 OCTOBER:  Screening and debate were cancelled at very short notice, will be rescheduled.

I am writing to inform you that, with much regret, the event on “Aids – realism or denial” due to take place on Wednesday 28 October,  has been cancelled due to several members of the panel having pulled out at the last minute, leaving us with an unbalanced panel which would not make for a rounded discussion on the film.

The purpose of the event was to have a rational and balanced discussion in an area of science too often characterised by hysteria. House of Numbers is a controversial film and we wanted it scrutinised by leading authorities and to follow its showing with real debate encompassing a wide spectrum of opinion. It has proved very difficult to put together a panel which could do this. We thought we had managed but several last-minute defections have defeated us. We will look at staging this event at a later date with another, more dependable panel.

We apologise to you who signed up to attend, however, we have been left with no option but to cancel.

We will be fully reimbursing your ticket fees today and can confirm that the refund should show in your accounts by the end of the week.  We will be in touch should we manage to stage this event in the future.  In meantime, we would like to thank you for your support and encourage you to visit our website on to view our forthcoming events which may be of interest.

Yours sincerely

Phoebe Vela
Head of Corporate Affairs and Events

Events Team
Press Holdings Media Group
22 Old Queen Street
T – +44 (0)20 7961 0044
F – +44 (0)20 7961 0100

Posted in experts, HIV skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Thinking so, makes it so

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/05/16

Talk about “placebo-controlled trials” is too easily taken to imply that “placebo” means “doing nothing”. That is far from true. In reality, placebo describes the phenomenon that unconscious and not-understood emotional or mental processes can produce powerful physical effects. A person given a dummy pill and told that it is a drug will often experience the feelings that the drug would induce. Someone given a drug that lowers blood pressure, say, who is told that it raises blood pressure, may actually experience a rise in blood pressure: “placebo” can actually be more powerful than physical medication.

Mainstream disciplines are beginning to recognize the power of the placebo response. The National Institues of Health held a workshop in 2000, “The Science of the Placebo: Toward an Interdisciplinary Research Agenda”. Several books by doctors, historians, and psychologists have reviewed what little is understood about the matter:

Arthur Shapiro & Elaine Shapiro, “The powerful placebo — from ancient priest to modern physician”, Johns Hopkins, 1997

Anne Harrington (ed.), “The placebo effect–an interdisciplinary exploration”, Harvard, 1997

Howard Brody with Daralyn Brody, “The placebo response: how you can release body’s inner pharmacy”, Cliff Street Books, 2000

Whereas the term “placebo” is widely recognized, its opposite, “nocebo” is not. Logically speaking, however, it seems likely that, if thinking one’s health will improve can tend to make that happen, thinking one’s health is declining can tend to make that happen.

Perhaps the best known such phenomena are in voodoo, where such rituals as sticking pins into an effigy representing an actual person can cause harm to that person, and in the Australian aboriginal ritual of bone-pointing, where a person waking to find a certain arrangement of bones in his vicinity recognizes it as death-causing and subsequently does die. Our culture tends to admit some efficacy for the placebo response but to consign nocebo as effective only among primitive people. Logically speaking, though, whatever mechanism can translate belief into physiological action can surely do it in both directions. A recent article in the New Scientist is a sensible discussion of nocebo with a few examples:
Helen Pilcher, “The science of voodoo: when mind attacks body”, 13 May 2009.

Nocebo is of clear pertinence to “HIV/AIDS”, given the psychological impact of a diagnosis of “HIV-positive” or of  “AIDS”, as several AIDS Rethinkers have emphasized at various times — Michael Ellner, Charles Geshekter, Neville Hodgkinson, Michael Geiger, Casper Schmidt, among others. But while a few mainstream researchers are taking placebo seriously, that remains to happen with nocebo.

Posted in clinical trials, experts, HIV as stress, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The German Connection, contd.: How not to test an hypothesis (Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #3, part 2)

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/25

In Kalichman’s not-so-Komical Kaper #3, I questioned via personal anecdote the suggestion that support for Duesberg’s views about HIV/AIDS might be partly owing to “nationalist sentimental loyalty” among people with some sort of Germanic connection. Here I consider how a scientist — someone who, according to Kalichman, is “by nature and training systematic and objective” — might go about testing such an hypothesis, paying due regard to established principles of science, statistics, and logical thinking.

The hypothesis is that Germanic association of some sort predisposes to support of Duesberg’s views. That’s the same as saying that there are relatively more people with a Germanic association of some sort among Duesberg’s supporters than there would be by chance, which is the same as saying that Duesberg’s supporters include a higher proportion of Germanic-associated people than there are people with Germanic association in the population at large, or among those who oppose Duesberg.

Now, Kalichman claimed to have identified (p. 54) eight individuals as Germanic-associated Duesberg supporters. AIDS Rethinkers — people who, like Duesberg, deny that HIV has been proven to cause AIDS — include at least the individuals listed at the Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society, numbering 2648 as of early February 2009.

Thus Kalichman has identified as Germanic-associated 8/2648 = 0.302%, say 3 per 1000, among known AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics. It should be unnecessary to point out that Kalichman is aware of this publicly available list. It seems eminently reasonable, too, that the actual number of those who do not adhere to HIV/AIDS theory is likely to be significantly larger than the published list. So 3 per 1000 is likely to be a considerable overestimate.

The world’s population as of mid-February 2009 was about 6.75 billion; and the population of Germany was about 82.5 million. Thus in the world as a whole, more than 12 in every 1000 (82.5/6,750) were actual citizens of Germany — which is 4 times larger than the 3 per thousand identified by Kalichman who “support” Peter Duesberg because of shared “nationalist sentimental loyalty” toward Germany. But, of course, there are far more German-associated people throughout the world than merely the present-day citizens of Germany; for example, the US Census reports that anywhere between 15% and 25% of Americans claim part-German ancestry, in other words about 200 per 1000. So for the world at large, 12 per 1000 is a gross underestimate. Indeed, since so much of HIV/AIDS dissidence is based in the United States, perhaps the figure of 200 per 1000 is the one that should be used in the comparison with Duesberg supporters.

So Kalichman is claiming as noteworthy, something less than 3 per 1000, when pure chance would yield somewhere between 12 and 200 per 1000. He is claiming the very opposite of what is suggested by the very evidence that he presents. The fact is that people of Germanic association are hugely under-represented among Duesberg supporters. Kalichman wrote (p. 54), “The number of German colleagues who rally around Duesberg is notable”. Yes, notable for how SMALL is their number, not how large.

Why should that be?

The answer seems obvious: Duesberg’s views are so well founded, so intellectually compelling, that they force agreement even from people who don’t harbor Germanic nationalist sentimental loyalties.


This is just a very rough sketch of the proper statistical approach that Kalichman should have used. To test the Kalichman hypothesis really strictly, perhaps one ought not to deal with populations at large but ought to identify all interested and relevantly qualified people who are (1) supporters and (2) non-supporters of Duesberg and then determine the proportions of Germanic-associated individuals in each group. So the statistical problem demands somewhat more research.

I hope to be excused from actually working on this myself, though, because I’m so confident in knowing what the outcome will be. But I trust Kalichman will do the work, now that he has been informed about the correct way to test scientifically the hypothesis he seems so taken with. It shouldn’t be too great a burden, since he has at his disposal an excellent stable of graduate students, as he acknowledges in his book and as will feature for more than one reason in later Chapters of Kalichman’s Komical Kapers.

But it’s not only the relation between numerator and denominator that Kalichman needs to check in order to determine whether Germans are over- or under-represented among Duesberg ”supporters”. As I pointed out in “The German Connection: Kalichman’s not-so-Komical Kaper #3”, the numerator in this proportion, Kalichman’s “catch” of 8 German supporters, needs to be reduced to 7 by removing me because I’m an Austrian Jew and actually lack any nationalist sentimental loyalty toward things German.

Curious whether others might find themselves in a similar situation, I asked Charles Geshekter, with whom I’ve been in occasional correspondence over the years:

In this forthcoming book, one of the extraordinary statements is
‘It is also noteworthy that much of the groundswell of support for Duesberg has come from his German colleagues, suggesting a nationalistic source for at least some of his support. As a German-born and German-trained scientist whose father served in the German Army during WW-II, Duesberg may evoke a sort of nationalist sentimental loyalty among some fellow countrymen.’
Among those German colleagues he lists you and me. Do you feel a ‘nationalist sentimental loyalty’ toward things German, or toward Peter D because he’s German?!
Best regards

The reply:
“Dear Henry:
You must tell me that you are surely joking? Come on now! Say it ain’t so!
1) My paternal grandparents came from Austria; my maternal grandparents were from Russia.
2) Duesberg will confirm that he has been a follower, supporter and acolyte of mine, not the other way around, when it comes to challenging and debunking the orthodox view of AIDS in Africa.
Best regards,


That Kalichman identified Henry Bauer and Charles Geshekter as Germanic raises the question of what criteria he used. In my case, it was Austrian birth, but with Geshekter he obviously didn’t have even that information. So here’s an open letter aimed at clearing up this mystery:

Dear Professor Kalichman:
Did you infer without further ado that “Geshekter” sounds German, and that his “support” of Duesberg “confirms” it? If so, let me suggest that your argument is a circular and invalid one.
Do you have much familiarity with the German language? For my part, I would expect a German name to have “sch” rather than “sh”, and not the “k” alone but rather “ck”, or perhaps “ch” — as in “gerecht” (“correct”, “fair” — an important concept, by the way) or perhaps “Geschichte” (“story” — which you seem adept at concocting) or even “Geschicklichkeit” (“dexterity”, “skill” — which your inferences don’t display often enough, I’m afraid).
Of course, the spelling of names is often changed, so “sch” could easily have become “sh”, and “ch” or “ck” might well have become “k”; so your inference is not necessarily or obviously wrong, it just would have benefited from checking.
But now I’m even more curious: “Kalichman” seems no less German than “Geshekter”. In fact, among my parents’ friends from Vienna, fellow refugees in Australia, were a couple named Paul and Ruth
Kalisch. Was your family name perhaps once “Kalischmann”?

Thinking along lines like that brings me to wonder whether Kalichman and Bauer might even be related?
One of the long-standing jokes in the Bauer family was the frequently voiced suggestion that my father’s favorite exercise involved jumping to conclusions.
That’s a trait that Kalichman displays to an even higher degree of perfection — so to speak.

Kalichman’s uncanny ability to draw inferences from names reminds me of a true story that my mother never tired of telling. Miss Ruby Moore was a fine Australian lady and a family friend. Like all human beings she had some foibles, and like many  non-Catholic Australians she could discern Papal conspiracies where others couldn’t. Anything untoward she was inclined to track to something Catholic. One day my mother told Ruby Moore of an occasion when a greengrocer had overcharged her. Snapped Miss Moore: “What’s his name?”, evidently expecting to hear something like “O’Flaherty”.
My mother responded, with perfect truth, “Smith”.
Ruby was unfazed and unshaken: “Hmmph”, she sniffed, “INCONCLUSIVE“.
Ever after, “inconclusive” became in our family a convenient shorthand for not allowing one’s beliefs to be swayed by the evidence or lack thereof.

Seth Kalichman jumps to conclusions better even than my father, and draws conclusive inferences where even Ruby Moore might remain in doubt.

Posted in experts, HIV absurdities | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

The Social Psychology of “Denialist” Scientists — Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #2, part 2

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/18

Scientists, we are instructed by Kalichman, are “by their nature and training systematic and objective” (p. 112; see “Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #2: The Social Psychology of Scientists”, 14 March 2009). That raises a seemingly obvious question:

How or why did some “systematic and objective” scientists become “AIDS denialists”?

I find no explanation for this in Kalichman’s book, even though he places quite a few of us in that category. For example, there’s Kelly Brennan-Jones, like Kalichman a psychologist and therefore also a scientist, and one for whom Kalichman had much respect and from whom he had solicited a book review: “I knew her work dating back to my years in graduate school. I knew Kelly Brennan-Jones was trained at a superlative university by some of the best social psychologists in the country” (p. xiii).

But, it turns out, Brennan-Jones differs with Kalichman about HIV/AIDS.
“My reaction was one of absolute outrage. I mean I was really angry. I was in an emotional upheaval. I surprised everyone around me, including myself, by my seemingly irrational reaction. How could someone I knew to be intelligent, well-trained as a scientist at a respectable university and in a position of influence over college students endorse a book that everyone surely knows is outdated, biased, and of little more value than that worthy of a doorstop?” (p. xiii).

Thus Kalichman describes how he himself lapsed from systemic objectivity and became irrational (though only “seemingly” so, whatever that means), but he doesn’t give a convincing explanation for why it happened. Surely that a fellow psychologist differs with him over a scientific issue can’t be the explanation — if it were, then psychologists would be in a continual state of irrational anger and outrage, given that there are disagreements over so many quite fundamental issues in psychology and psychotherapy. Nor does Kalichman suggest what might have pushed the respected Brennan-Jones, senior to Kalichman though perhaps no more distinguished, out of her customary systematic objectivity — if indeed that’s the case; Kalichman nowhere establishes that there’s anything non-objective about doubting HIV/AIDS theory, he just takes it for granted. He doesn’t even enlighten us about what convinced him personally of that. But consider the matter from Kalichman’s viewpoint for the moment; doesn’t that immediately raise the question, why did Brennan-Jones, an outstanding, systematic, objective scientist for many years, lose those attributes?

The same conundrum applies to others whom Kalichman takes to task as “denialists”. There’s Peter Duesberg, pioneer acclaimed retrovirologist, who isolated the first oncogene in 1970 and was elected to the National Academy in 1986 (p. 175) — yet who almost immediately thereafter lost the scientific attributes he had exemplified during a quarter century of highly distinguished research.

Then there’s David Rasnick (pp. 176-77), competent enough to have worked on proteases (albeit only in rats), who also apparently lost his scientific marbles in middle age or later.

Dr. Matthias Rath is not included among “denialist” scientists in Kalichman’s Appendix B, but he is referred to throughout the book as a German vitamin entrepreneur and “AIDS denialist”. It fails to be mentioned that Rath had worked closely with one of the 20th century’s leading scientists, Linus Pauling. Apparently Rath, a PhD scientist, also somehow lost his systematic objectivity in middle age or thereabouts.

Harvey Bialy had been systematically objective enough to garner a PhD in molecular biology from Berkeley. Kalichman (p. 177) appears to think he wasn’t that great a scientist, though, since he published only 27 articles and was merely an editor for a while at one the leading medical-scientific journals. At any rate, at some stage Bialy, too, apparently lost any remaining systematic objectivity and lapsed into denialism.

Then there’s the sad case of Kary Mullis (pp. 177-8), a Nobel Laureate who happens to be also an “AIDS denialist”, having evidently lost his Nobel-quality systematic objectivity at some time or other. One of the things responsible for that fall from grace, no doubt, was that Mullis persistently asked everyone he encountered to please give him citations to the specific publications that prove HIV to be the cause of AIDS; and he never received a responsive answer. Perhaps that’s enough to drive anyone out of systematic objectivity.

And so it continues. Charles Geshekter (pp. 178-9) had been a systematic, objective social scientist (historian) until he contracted denialism. Claus Koehnlein (p. 179) too — though he had been only a practicing physician, not a researcher, not a scientist, so perhaps he never had been systematically objective. The Perth Group (pp. 179-80) has several doctors and scientists who were infected with denialism around mid-career. There’s also Etienne de Harven (p. 180), formerly of the University of Toronto and the Sloan-Kettering Institute. Roberto Giraldo, who might never have been very systematically objective because his medical degree was only from South America and he had been merely a medical technologist in New York (p. 181). Mohammed Al-Bayati (p. 181), PhD from the University of California at Davis, somehow became unsystematic and unobjective at some time thereafter. Lynn Margulis (pp. 181-2), who was elected to the National Academy in 1983, is rightly famous for having discovered the mechanism of symbiosis by which evolution advances in leaps rather than by infinitesimally slow natural selection from genetic mutations; however, she too suffered a breakdown of systematic objectivity as the years went by.

And then (p. 182) there are a couple of mathematicians, Serge Lang and Rebecca Culshaw. Of course, the majority view is that mathematics isn’t a science, neither “hard” nor soft, and so maybe mathematicians lack systematic objectivity to begin with. On the other hand, it’s also a majority view that mathematics is the most rigorously logical enterprise of all — all of pure mathematics is the following of axioms to their logical conclusions.

We know, too, that the denialist scientists named in Kalichman’s book are the merest tip of a proverbial iceberg, because there are hundreds more PhDs and MDs among AIDS Rethinkers.

And yet, despite having all these examples to work with, Kalichman offers no explanation for how or why scientists morph from systematic objectivity into wacky denialism.

To fill this vacuum (vacuity?) left by Kalichman, I’ll venture a suggestion.

The clue, I think — as with HIV/AIDS itself — is the matter of age. One of the curiosities of “HIV” is that it “infects” chiefly individuals who are in the prime of adult life, 35-45 years. (And, curiously enough, as I’ve remarked in several blog posts, after a “latent period” of healthy life averaging 10 years, followed by many years of “living with HIV/AIDS” while being kept alive by antiretroviral drugs, they still die chiefly at ages 35-45).

We have a rather similarly curious situation with “AIDS denialism”: It strikes people at relatively advanced ages and typically after decades of healthy systematic objectivity.

However, if one looks more carefully into the histories of these sufferers from denialism, one can often detect some early warning signs of a tendency to deviate from the systematic objectivity of their colleagues and to strike out in new directions, to have different ideas, to be creative and innovative; but this only becomes extreme decades later, when it blossoms into full-blown AIDS denialism.

Evidently, AIDS denialism in scientists, like AIDS in people at large, is brought on by a very slow-working infection that becomes manifest and serious only a decade or more later. Obviously the cause of denialism is, as with AIDS, a lentivirus.

“HIV”, of course, is the type specimen of the species “pathogenic lentivirus”, since the earlier and very first lentivirus, which causes kuru, turned out to be a prion and not a virus at all. We know that one mode of transmission of “HIV” is from mother to child. We further know that there is a genetic predisposition to contract “HIV”, in particular, African genes predispose to contracting “HIV”.

By analogy, we can expect that the “denialist” lentivirus is also sometimes passed on from mother to child, or at least “within families” like HTLV-I and II (p. 114 in Gallo, Virus Hunting, 1991) — there is a correlation between the intellectual qualities of parents and children, after all. And there’s also a genetic predisposition to AIDS denialism: Germanic genes predispose to denialism, according to Kalichman (pp. 54, 145; there’ll be more about this in “The German Connection —Kalichman’s not-so-Komical Kaper #3”).

Kalichman has identified other characteristics of denialists as well. Most notably, they are suspicious people and conspiracy theorists (e.g., p. 13 ff. & chapter 4). But this raises the same problem as denialism itself: Why did so many now-denialist scientists contract these conditions only after decades of unexceptionable, even distinguished research?
Obviously, again, it’s that lentivirus. As “HIV” is capable of explaining every form of deviance from physical health, so the denialist lentivirus is capable of explaining every form of deviance from mental health.

AIDS scientists and AIDStruthers have had no success in protecting against the denialist lentivirus through education. Indeed, as the prominent AIDS scientists praising Kalichman’s work have testified, denialism has become a major threat to public health. Since we know that there’s a genetic predisposition to it, perhaps it will turn out that gene therapy (disabling or modifying Germanic genes) is the only really effective means of prevention — just as with HIV, where abstinence, condoms, microbicides, and vaccines have all failed miserably (“HIV gene therapy trial promising”).

Posted in experts, HIV and race, HIV in children, HIV transmission, HIV varies with age, vaccines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

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