HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘cognitive dissonance’

None so blind as those who WILL not see

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2011/06/26

The mainstream HIV/AIDS literature is replete with evidence that HIV/AIDS theory is wrong. Here’s a nice selection made by R. Crumb and obtained courtesy of Martin Barnes, from HIV and the Pathogenesis of AIDS by Jay Levy (3rd ed., 2007). Levy is one of the elders and gurus of HIV/AIDS matters, and he even claims to be a co-discoverer of HIV. Moreover, that his text is in its 3rd edition indicates that it has found favor among his peers. Yet it acknowledges as clearly as can be that there is actually no genuine evidence that HIV caused AIDS then or causes AIDS now:

A central point is the “Unresolved Mystery” of CD4 cell loss (p. 327)
“What causes a decrease in IL-2 (CD8 cell anti-viral factor) production is not known” (331)
“The process leading to a reduction in anti-HIV immune responses, mirrored by the loss of CD4 cells and CD8 cell responses, are not yet well defined. Most likely, multiple factors are involved in CD4 cell loss” (328)
“[R]elatively few infected cells show sufficient virus replication that would lead to cell death” (329)
“The exact mechanism toward CD4 cell depletion and immune deficiency are not yet well defined, and its cellular latency, as well as several other features of HIV infection, remain mysterious” (429)

“The mechanism for anti-body mediated neutralization of HIV has not yet been well-defined” (239)
“The clinical relevance of neutralizing antibodies remains unclear” (246)
“Why certain laboratory strains (of HIV) passaged for months or years in vitro, are very sensitive to neutralization by a variety of heterologous sera is not clear” (240)

“[T]he true nature of the envelope structure of an infectious virion has not been resolved” (10)

“Studies with individual HIV isolates may not provide the correct conclusions relating to in vivo pathogenesis” (328)

“The reasons for this disconnect between viral load and CD4 cell count are not known” (333)

“Thus, how, where, and when HIV emerged in human populations and existed in various groups and clades are not clearly evident” (21)

“While current anti-viral drugs have had substantial effects on HIV infection and development of disease, the side effects can be very harmful to the infected individual. These include abnormalities in body fat distribution and in lipid and glucose metabolism, cardiac disease, and pancreatic, liver, and kidney disorders” (381)

CONCLUSIONS: “Encouraging progress has been made in understanding the pathogenesis of HIV infection…Nevertheless, the path toward eventual control of HIV still requires major efforts toward immune restoration and the development of an effective vaccine” (429)

That last statement is quite typical. The details in the text make plain that nothing is understood about how HIV is supposed to kill off the immune system and cause AIDS. But those who believe in their bones that HIV causes AIDS can only repeat over and over again, “Much is known but more needs to be understood”; Fauci, for one, says that almost routinely. What exactly it is that’s known is never specified, however.

As always, it’s quite difficult to resist the emotional impulse to interpret the sorry state of affairs in terms of deliberate hoodwinking of the public by the experts and insiders. But there is a more plausible albeit complicated interpretation that’s based solidly in the history and sociology of science. Recognize that the vast majority of HIV/AIDS researchers are engaged in excruciatingly specialized studies of intricate details, based unthinkingly on the accepted dogma. No one who enters HIV/AIDS research has the slightest doubt about it. Therefore when conundrums are encountered, they are regarded as challenges and reasons for further research, not as potential falsification of the fundamental premise. This may be particularly so with those like Jay Levy who have been in the field since its beginning and whose careers are inseparable from HIV/AIDS theory.
It’s not that these people willfully ignore evidence, it’s that they are incapable of appreciating its significance because their mindset makes it literally inconceivable; it’s an illustration of the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance, by which our minds guard themselves against threats to our beliefs.
It follows that Rethinking cannot reasonably aim to change the minds of the HIV/AIDS research establishment: those will be the very last people to admit the truth. Change must be forced from the outside, by those who make public policy and feed the funding of research, treatment, and ancillary public activities. One tiny silver lining in the pervasively gloomy global economic clouds may be that some politicians might become willing to listen to claims that tens of billions of dollars are being wasted annually in pursuit of a non-existent entity that causes an invented disease.

Literary digression:
The insight that “none are so blind as those who will not see” has been traced back as far as the 16th  century. cites, apparently from the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs:
Who is so deafe, or so blynde, as is hee, That willfully will nother here nor see [1546 J. Heywood Dialogue of Proverbs ii. ix. K4]
There is no manne so blynd as he that will not see, nor so dull as he that wyll not vnderstande [1551 Cranmer Answer to Gardiner 58]
My Wordsworth Dictionary of Proverbs (ed. G. L. Apperson, 1993) also gives, from 1547, Borde’s Breviary of Helthe
Concepts like this were doubtless known well before they could be traced in written records. For a delightful as well as informative illustration, see Robert Merton’s On the Shoulders of Giants.

Posted in experts, HIV does not cause AIDS | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Facts versus Faith (cognitive dissonance again)

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/11/18

In my last post I ascribed to cognitive dissonance the inability of mainstream researchers to grasp fully the plain fact that HAART has been demonstrably responsible for a range of quite-often-fatal “side” effects including organ failure (of heart, kidney, and lung in particular) as well as life-long mitochondrial dysfunction, lipodystrophy, bone loss, and bone-marrow damage. (And that is doubtless an incomplete list.)

Another major example of cognitive dissonance is the inability to grasp what the demographics of “HIV” tests demonstrate: namely, that what is measured is not an infectious agent. For instance, people of relatively recent African ancestry invariably test “HIV-positive” more often than others, by not much less than an order of magnitude and often more, when matched for any other demographic variable. (“Relatively recent”, because all modern-sapiens human beings are of African ancestry if one goes back far enough, say more than 100,000 years or so.)

Writing about this, I was led to think back on how difficult it had been for me to see what these demographics meant, even though I had already come to disbelieve that HIV could be the cause of AIDS. If it was difficult for someone who didn’t fully believe HIV/AIDS theory to grasp the heretical significance of the demographics, how extraordinarily difficult must it be for true believers? Thinking along those lines may enable one to appreciate, I think, the power that cognitive dissonance wields.

My first encounter with HIV/AIDS dissidence had been the 1994 Ellison-Duesberg book. Over the years I then read a few other dissident works, finding the viewpoints plausible though not conclusively compelling; for example, I was impressed by Root-Bernstein’s multifactorial hypothesis that included “HIV” as a co-factor.
I began to read intensively about the question only after I had found in Harvey Bialy’s book an assertion about HIV tests that simply could not be correct under the mainstream view. Up to that time, I had not questioned the existence of HIV, its infectiousness, or its detection by HIV tests. I had had no occasion to question those: my introduction to the matter had been through the work of Duesberg, universally accepted as expert retrovirologist, who differed from the mainstream over whether or not HIV caused AIDS, not over its existence or its being a retrovirus. Almost all the dissident material I later encountered also concentrated on that issue of causation, not on what “HIV” tests detected or on the nature of “HIV”.
Bialy quoted a mainstream source to the effect that when the Army began to test potential recruits in the mid-1980s, it found in teenagers all over the country much the same prevalence among females as among males. But that could not be the case, if — as the mainstream view would have it — HIV had entered the USA during the mid-1970s in gay communities in two or three large cities: it could not have spread to teenage females all over the country within 10 years.
Chapter 1 of my book describes how I checked Bialy’s source and then collected as much additional data as I could on the results of HIV tests. That chapter does not describe, however, the state of my mind and emotions during that time. I couldn’t believe what the demographics showed, but equally couldn’t see what was wrong with the data. I tried to get help from other people, not very successfully. This long piece which I wrote as part of that attempt may convey my months-long state of emotional and intellectual turmoil; it shows how difficult it was for me to accept what the data pointed to, how hard I tried to reach some non-heretical interpretation. So pity the true believer faced with the ample conclusive evidence that disproves HIV/AIDS theory.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

The foregoing was set off by an article by Adimora et al., “Ending the epidemic of heterosexual HIV transmission among African Americans” (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 37 [2009] 468-71). It makes rather desperate attempts to come to terms with — really, to evade the significance of — the evident fact that recent African ancestry in itself is a reason for testing “HIV-positive”.
Adimora et al. recognize that African Americans test “HIV-positive” at rates similar to those found among people of African ancestry elsewhere (in the Caribbean as well as in southern Africa itself), and that the differences are independent of behavioral and social variables:
“estimates of HIV prevalence among African Americans are strikingly similar to, and in some cases exceed, population-based estimates of HIV seroprevalence . . . reported by several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. . . . Although individual-level sexual behaviors contribute to the disparity in HIV prevalence, observed differences in individual behaviors do not fully explain the marked racial differences in HIV infection prevalence. . . . HIV prevalence among African Americans exceeds that of whites, typically substantially, even in comparisons stratified by education, poverty index, marital status, age at first sexual intercourse, lifetime number of sex partners, history of male homosexual activity, illicit drug use, injection drug use, and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) antibody positivity” [emphases added]. In other words,

no economic, social, or behavioral variables explain
the racial disparities in “HIV” status.
Race itself remains as the only correlate.

It may not be immediately obvious why this conclusion should be unthinkable. After all, the Food and Drug Administration has been comfortable with approving heart medication specifically for African Americans. Crestor acknowledges that Asians should be prescribed lower doses than others.
Perhaps the difference lies in the fundamental faith that “HIV” is infectious? Yet it has long been accepted that people of African and Mediterranean ancestry are prone to harbor genes for sickle-cell anemia because those are protective against the effects of malaria, an infectious disease.
All those, however, are physical, physiological, correlates of race. And utterly ingrained in HIV/AIDS believers is the axiom that “HIV” is spread primarily by sexual practices, in other words because of particular types of behavior.
Now, this belief condemns HIV/AIDS theory and practice to restate common racist stereotypes about black sexuality: inherently black behavior leads to being “HIV-positive”. Political correctness then requires this racist viewpoint to be camouflaged by placing the blame for this postulated different racial behavior not on those who behave this way but on their victimization by others; or, as Adimora et al. phrase it, “structural violence”:
“a social system characterized by inequalities in power and life chances of sufficient magnitude to restrict a group of people from realizing their full potential 23 and put them ‘in harm’s way.’ 24 The system is structural because it is ‘embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world’ and ‘violent because it causes injury to people (typically, not those responsible for perpetuating such inequalities)’ 24”.
The effects of structural violence include the higher prevalence of sexually transmitted disease among African Americans and “poverty, the low male-to-female sex ratio, de facto racial segregation, and disproportionate incarceration”.
The central flaw in all this is that the racial disparities in rates of “HIV-positive” remain when those postulated effects of structural violence have been taken into account, as Adimora et al. themselves acknowledged: the disparities are NOT owing to differences in “education, poverty index, marital status, age at first sexual intercourse, lifetime number of sex partners, history of male homosexual activity, illicit drug use, injection drug use, and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) antibody positivity”, all the variables that would reveal effects of structural violence.
Another way of parsing the rationalizing by Adimora et al. is this: African Americans always test “HIV-positive” more often than whites. This cannot be owing to the fact of their race, it must be owing to the discrimination they have always suffered. Therefore their sexual behavior and its consequences are not under their individual control.
Of course this too cannot be stated plainly because it’s demeaning, so it is expressed in sociologese jargon that plays around with such abstractions and generalities as “structural violence”. Nevertheless, the meaning remains: The long record of discrimination and unjust treatment has caused contemporary African Americans to be helplessly sexually irresponsible and helplessly promiscuous — irrespective of education, poverty, etc.

What Adimora et al. cannot do by any contortions of semantic obfuscation is to make their argument logically sound, nor can they rescue HIV/AIDS theory from its inherently racist character.

Posted in experts, HIV and race, prejudice, sexual transmission | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Abuses of statistics in HIV/AIDS research

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/09/14

There are many ways of lying under the cover of statistics. One that I’ve not previously emphasized is to imply a correlation where none exists; for example, “the declining incidence in the control group in Rakai — which, although not statistically significant, reduces the difference between the groups” [emphasis added; Gray et al., “Male circumcision for HIV prevention in men in Rakai, Uganda: a randomised trial”, Lancet, 369 (2007) 657-66].

The whole point of this type of statistical analysis is to determine whether or not an association plausibly exists. If there is no statistically significant association, then no association has been found.
The proper statement would be significantly different:
“The declining incidence apparently had nothing to do with the difference between groups”.

Here’s another example: “The odds of being HIV-positive were nonsignificantly lower among MSM who were circumcised than uncircumcised (odds ratio, 0.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.65-1.13; number of independent effect sizes [k]=15)” (emphasis added; Millett et al., “Circumcision status and risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections among men who have sex with men”, JAMA, 300 [2008] 1674-84).
The enumeration of odds ratio, confidence interval, and effect sizes conveys a sense of technical correctness which, whether intended or not, lends rhetorical weight to the assertion of “lower” when, in actual technical fact, no significance has been established at the 95% probability level.
It is unwarranted, irresponsible, pseudo-scientific to say “nonsignificantly lower”, because that suggests that it is actually lower, though perhaps for purely technical statistical reasons not statistically significantly so.

Again: If the statistics delivers a verdict of “not significant”, then nothing has been established, not lower and not higher. Once more the proper statement would be significantly different:
“No association was found between circumcision and ‘HIV’ status”.

The silver lining in these instances, such as it is, is that I have stimulated many belly laughs — though also some very puzzled expressions — by inviting statistically literate friends to explain to me what “nonsignificantly lower” means.

The dark clouds, however, are that these people — who work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no less — are capable of writing such a phrase. They are either statistically illiterate or seeking deliberately to deceive. I don’t know which of those two would be the more depressing.

It is also worth noting and regretting that these statistical illiteracies passed the editorial- and peer-review processes of the Lancet and the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Peer review” is no better than the reviewers and the editors make it.


Oxymoronic jargon like “nonsignificantly lower” surely comes about because of an unshakeable belief that there is — must be — a lowering, in the face of data that do not support the belief. There exists a persistent unwillingness among HIV/AIDS mainstreamers to accept facts that contradict their belief — they suffer cognitive dissonance, as I’ve had occasion to remark all too often [Cognitive dissonance: a human condition, 26 December 2008; The debilitating distraction of “HIV”, 21 December 2008; State of HIV/AIDS denial: carcinogenic HAART, 21 November 2008; True Believers of HIV/AIDS: Why do they believe despite the evidence?, 30 October 2008; “SMART” Study begets more cognitive dissonance, 11 June 2008; Death, antiretroviral drugs, and cognitive dissonance, 9 May 2008; HIV/AIDS illustrates cognitive dissonance, 29 April 2008].

Of course, one might try to argue that “95%” is just an arbitrary criterion: one could choose 85%, or 70%, or any other value; or one might say that “lower” is simply expressing the raw numbers in words without attempting statistical analysis to attach a particular probability. But that would mean jettisoning any pretence of being scientific by using statistics to guide judgment as to whether an effect is plausibly real or not. If one offers statistical details then one should also abide by what the statistical analysis concludes and not try to fudge it.


Another abuse of statistical analysis that also may not be obvious until made explicit:

Upon finding  no correlation, divide the data into sub-groups in the hopes that one or other might show an apparently significant effect. This is statistically improper, a prelude to lying with statistics, because if you look at enough sub-groups the probability becomes appreciable that there will be found one or a few that appear to have a statistically significant association. Recall that if one uses a criterion as weak as “95% probability”, one apparently but not actually significant association will show up on average at least once in every twenty times — more often if the looked-for association is inherently unlikely [R. A. J. Matthews, “Significance levels for the assessment of anomalous phenomena”, Journal of Scientific Exploration 13 (1999) 1-7].

In the present instance, there was no association in the sub-group of insertive anal sex, nor between circumcision and sexually transmitted infections, two sub-groups where an association would not be implausible. On the other hand, highly implausible apparent associations were noted in studies conducted before the introduction of HAART, and between “HIV”-preventive circumcision and study quality. It is not easy to conceive why an association between circumcision and “HIV” acquisition would have anything at all to do with what treatment is provided people who have AIDS, long after acquiring “HIV”; and “study quality” is a highly subjective variable.

No. The Millett article leads to only one legitimate conclusion: No association found between circumcision and “HIV” status among MSM.


The problem for HIV/AIDS dogmatists is that they have failed to find any way of preventing people from becoming “HIV-positive”. The mistaken view that it has to do with infection and with sex keeps them searching for data to support that view, rather as rats or guinea pigs are doomed to try eternally to scale the turning wheels in their cages. Study after study gives the same result, no association. At the 4th International AIDS Society Conference, Sydney 2007:
Guanira et al., “How willing are gay men to ‘cut off’ the epidemic? Circumcision among MSM in the Andean region”)
— “No association between circumcision and HIV infection when all the sample is included. A trend to a significant protective effect is seen when only ‘insertive’ are analyzed.”
Note again the unwarranted, illegitimate attempt to assert something despite the lack of evidence: a “trend” toward a significant effect, when the statistical analysis simply says “nothing”, no correlation.
Then there was Templeton et al., “Circumcision status and risk of HIV seroconversion in the HIM cohort of homosexual men in Sydney”)
— “Circumcision status was not associated with HIV seroconversion . . . . However, further research in populations where there is more separation into exclusively receptive or insertive sexual roles by homosexually active men is warranted” [emphasis added].
More research is always warranted, of course, that’s what pays the researchers’ bills [Inventing more epidemics; the Research Trough; and “peer review”, 2 August 2009; The Research Trough — where lack of progress brings more grants, 10 September 2008].

Posted in clinical trials, experts, HIV absurdities, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV transmission, sexual transmission | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Impersonation is a crime, even on the Internet

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/06/29

“Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau today announced the arrest of a 49-year-old man for creating multiple aliases to engage in a campaign of impersonation and harassment . . . . The defendant, RAPHAEL HAIM GOLB, was arrested on charges of identity theft, criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment. . . . [perpetrated] in order to influence and affect debate . . . and in order to harass . . .  scholars who disagree with his viewpoint. GOLB used computers at New York University (NYU) in an attempt to mask his true identity when conducting this Internet scheme. . . .
GOLB is charged with Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a class E felony, which is punishable by up to 1⅓ to 4 years in prison; Identity Theft in the Third Degree, Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree, Forgery in the Third Degree and Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, all class A misdemeanors, which are each punishable by up to 1 year in prison”
(News Release, New York County District Attorney, 5 March 2009).

The disputed issues concern the Dead Sea Scrolls, but the legal and other circumstances make the case of some interest to AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics, who have become quite familiar with harassment and impersonation practiced by HIV/AIDS groupies and vigilantes.

Golb apparently began his campaign in reaction to a museum exhibit featuring work by Robert Cargill. Cargill had set Google Alerts to track material about the Dead Sea Scrolls and noticed suspiciously similar comments coming from an apparent variety of sources. His 2-year investigation, which included tracking IP addresses, is described on the website, “Who is Charles Gadda?”

“Prosecutors said Mr. Golb opened an e-mail account in the name of Lawrence H. Schiffman, the New York University professor who disagreed with Mr. Golb’s father. He sent messages in Professor Schiffman’s name to various people . . ., fabricating an admission by Professor Schiffman that he had plagiarized some of Professor Golb’s work . . . . Raphael Golb also set up blogs under various names that accused Dr. Schiffman of plagiarism . . . . ‘It’s very easy to open an account using any name you want on the Internet. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. But when you start using another person’s true identity for some purpose, you’re crossing the line into a possible identity theft crime or impersonation crime’. . . . ‘We debated the theories,’ Dr. Schiffman said . . . , referring to Mr. Golb’s father. ‘I thought that’s what scholarship is about. You don’t have to impersonate me’” (“Identity-theft arrest in dispute over Dead Sea Scrolls”).

“’I can’t believe this would happen,’ . . . [Schiffman] said. ‘We are supposed to be doing scholarly interchange’” (“U. of C. scholar’s son charged with identity theft, harassment”)

“Schiffman issued a statement after Golb’s arrest: ‘. . . . Reasoned intellectual discourse relies on integrity. When an individual, in seeking to advance a particular view, engages in impersonation and falsehood, he or she undermines the precepts of higher inquiry’” (“The arrest of Raphael Golb”).

“’I don’t know what caused the transition from the proper intellectual discourse,’ Prof. Schiffman said . . . . ‘Usually these things happen because someone hates their ex-wife. But this? Who would do this?’ . . . . ‘It’s the nature of academic life that you have scholars in disagreement. They tend to debate in academic publications such as books and peer-reviewed journal articles, and sometimes at academic conferences,’ Prof. Levitt Kohn said” (“Curse of the scrolls”)

Why the underhanded roundabout rigmarole?
“Mr. Schiffman said that if Raphael Golb had knocked on his office door saying, ‘I think my father’s right, and I think you’re wrong, and is it OK if I come to some conference and bring the reasons why?’, he would have had no objection. ‘The guy could have been a big friend of ours. That’s what’s so stupid about all this’” (Steve Kolowich, “The fall of an academic cyberbully”, Chronicle of Higher Education, 20 March 2009, A1, 8-11).


Raphael Golb is a lawyer, not an academic. But some academics, too, behave just like that: attempting anonymity, attempting character assassination, being anything but honest, open, straightforward.

Just like Golb, all that the HIV/AIDS groupies and vigilantes would have to do to make their case and demolish their opposition is to cite the published articles that prove HIV to be the cause of AIDS.
Instead of spending countless time in attacking persons and spewing vitriol and making fools of themselves and disgracing their professions, all that the HIV/AIDS groupies and vigilantes would have to do is just cite the articles that prove HIV as the cause of AIDS.
Just cite the articles, and all we AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics will stop being such annoying thorns in your sides and hair.

So why are those articles not cited?
Because they don’t exist.
The people who should most know are the co-discoverers of “HIV”.
Montagnier, for his part, has consistently denied knowledge of such publications, and has consistently gone further to say that HIV alone does not cause AIDS, that it requires co-factors and a pre-weakened immune system. Indeed, more than 15 years ago, articles from his laboratory showed that “HIV” in the presence of antibiotics does not kill T-cells whereas in absence of antibiotics “it” does, proving that some bacterial type of agent in “HIV” “isolates” is the killer.
Gallo, for his part, has consistently refused to answer requests for the pertinent citations, most recently on the Gary Null radio program, where he offered the consensus of official organizations as proof. Testifying in the Parenzee case, he had even claimed that purification of “HIV” ”isolates” was unnecessary.
All the researchers and groupies who took up “HIV/AIDS” after the Gallo-Montagnier “discovery” have simply taken the matter on faith. They can’t cite the pertinent proofs because they never looked for them. They can’t engage in rational discourse now because of cognitive dissonance: They cannot admit to themselves that they accepted on faith, and built their careers on, a mistaken view that was without proof when they adopted the belief as their own without first looking into its merits.

Posted in HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, Legal aspects, prejudice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Cognitive dissonance: a human condition

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/12/26

I’ve been kicking myself because it took so long to appreciate what Martin had been telling me [“The debilitating distraction of ‘HIV’”, 21 December 2008]. That I didn’t grasp it was not because Martin could have expressed it more appropriately or clearly, but just because my mental apparatus somehow wasn’t ready to absorb it.

That experience helps me gain a little empathetic insight into the frequent illustrations of cognitive dissonance displayed by proponents and defenders of HIV/AIDS theory. The misguided, misleading unconscious connotations of “HIV” made it hard for me to recognize some obvious aspects of clear facts, most significantly, that what defines being “a person with AIDS” doesn’t define who dies from “HIV disease” — even “knowing” that “HIV” doesn’t cause “AIDS”, I’d slipped into thinking that there’s a meaningful, functional, connection between those “things”. How much more difficult it is for people who firmly believe HIV=AIDS, to draw unbiased inferences from the plain data, to see things as they really are.

For example, look at recent exchanges between Chris Noble and me. I look at the mortality numbers (M) and the death-age numbers (D), and what I see is this: D has increased at almost the same rate for the whole period 1982 to 2004 (“almost linearly”, according to the National Center for Health Statistics at the pdf link supplied by Noble); M, by obvious contrast, has changed anything but steadily — about constant from 1982 to 1986/87; 1986/87 to 1992, drops by nearly half; 1992 to 1993, drops by nearly 1/3 in a single year; drops by another half over the next FOUR years; drops by half in a single year, 1996/97; then takes SEVEN years to drop by another half. To me, as I just said, that’s anything but a steady decline, it’s distinct phases. Yet Chris Noble says “the mortality rate has steadily decreased while the median age at death has steadily increased”. I suppose this is what Thomas Kuhn called “incommensurability”: adherents to the conventional view simply cannot see, mentally speaking any alternative interpretation of the data.

Again, Noble asks me repeatedly to calculate how age of death ought to correlate with mortality. I repeat that I start with the data on both and try to see what relationship, if any, exists between them. Noble insists that I can’t know that there’s no functional relationship, unless I first predict what it should be! I haven’t the foggiest idea what he means; if two things aren’t related, how should they be related? But Noble’s mind is fixed in the belief that whatever defines “PWA” also defines death while a PWA, so he can’t “see” the contradictory data.

These examples illustrate why critical comments to my blog seem always to have developed in much the same way. Fulano de Tal, Köpek Burun, and others begin with substantive comments on a specific point. For a while, the exchanges remain to that point — and have served to make me clarify things and to re-examine the data or to seek more. And then, when the data and my interpretations seem to have withstood the original critique, the criticisms veer off into side-tracks, trivialities, off the main point; and they also change in tone. At first there’s a suave, sophisticated, above-the-fray manner; then that disappears as matters are argued in an increasingly aggressive manner (“Why can’t you answer a simple question?”; “I’m being polite, damn you!”); and when the critique hasn’t won out, what I say gets ignored and the tone descends into personal abuse and accusations of guilt by association (“You don’t know what you’re talking about”; “Learn some math”; “Who could believe anyone who takes Loch Ness monsters seriously”; etc.).

That typical course reflects the fact that cognitive dissonance is not only an intellectual fact of human life, it’s also powered by emotion: wanting to “be right”, wanting to “win an argument”. Both emotion and intellect are also at the mercy of conflicts of interest, and many defenders of HIV/AIDS orthodoxy have substantial stakes in it: jobs for “activists” and social workers, grants and career advancement for researchers, and so on.

It’s ever so much easier to understand what’s being said in argument against us when we’re arguing with people we already know as friends and have come to trust. Friendly rivalries can be just that, friendly. I relish the achievements and honors and successes and good luck that have come to friends of mine, I don’t feel jealous of them or competitive with them. The brasher, more dogmatic opinions I held in youthful days were much modified, and much for the better, because two close friends held very different political and social views, and because we were able to argue uninhibitedly with one another — we were aiming to get closer to understanding things, not trying to best one another.

By stark and sad contrast stands what goes on in so much of the blogosphere (and also in all-too-many mainstream venues), especially when it comes to issues like HIV/AIDS. AIDStruthers are out for blood, PERSONAL blood. They want President Mbeki held responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. They seem uninterested in carrying on discussions that focus on substance and in which friendly opponents can help one another to see things ever more clearly by shredding away the curtains of preconceived notions and ideological commitments. They want people fired for disagreeing with them. (I treasure the fake concern of the disguised AIDStruther who told me s/he was worried about how my HIV/AIDS activities might affect my employment — ignorant, apparently, of what “emeritus” means.)

I have no satisfactory answer to offer, unfortunately, for how AIDStruthers could be brought to useful mutual discussion. Matters of personal psychology are clearly important, but that doesn’t entail that psychologists could help us fashion a suitable approach. I‘m always reminded in this connection of one of the many things I learned about people and academics while I served as a Dean of Arts & Sciences. One of the few tenured faculty members whom we discharged for cause (refusal to carry out teaching assignments) had been on the faculty for more than a dozen years. The formal hearings that led to his eventual discharge revealed with extraordinary clarity that the person was paranoid — several of us independently recognized the stunning similarities with Captain Queeg’s court appearance in “The Caine Mutiny”. The irony is that the ill person was a member of the psychology department; none of his colleagues had diagnosed his illness during all the years he had been with them. Physicians, as they say, can’t heal themselves.

Here’s a criterion for whether a discussion is genuinely substantive or not, directed at clarification and increased understanding: no personal comments adorn the to-and-fro. If B appears not to understand what A is saying, then A looks for other ways of presenting the case, A doesn’t simply keep repeating the same assertions spiced with “Why can’t you…?”, and the like. [Added 28 December: Another hallmark of the non-substantive comments is that the commentator not only keeps harping on the same thing but does so by return e-mail, leaving no time to consider what s/he is replying to; see Burun’s admission of suffering from that failing.]

One lesson from experience is that the aim of Rethinkers cannot be to convince the AIDStruthers. It soon becomes a sheer waste of time to attempt to argue substance with them; a waste of time because you can’t learn anything from them, and they are incapable of learning anything from you. Rethinkers and Skeptics should address the bystanders, onlookers, the unengaged “silent majority”. There seem always to be with us some people who cheerfully continue to believe that the Earth is only about 6,000-10,000 years old, and many other things that most of us judge to be utterly disproved by factual evidence. One of my friends has been striving for more than two decades to educate those who remain convinced of the merits of Immanuel Velikovsky’s writings, and I judge his progress to be at or close to zero. As Max Planck said about quantum theory, the diehards don’t get convinced: progress comes as they die off. Even after the wider public has recognized that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, the AIDStruthers won’t admit they were wrong. Rather, Mark Wainberg and J P Moore and Fulano and Köpek Burun and their ilk will treat us to elaborate re-writings of history to show that they were always in line with the facts as known with any certainty at any given moment. Rethinkers, they will let it be known, may have happened to be right but it was for wrong reasons, for non-scientific reasons, whereas AIDStruthers just happened to be temporarily wrong, but for the right reasons, they were always guided by then-known facts, as is proper in science.

At any rate, AIDStruthers are not the audience to be courted. Their arguments must be countered with answers directed to the media and the general public in terms that are understandable by and clearly convincing for unengaged observers. That means the points cannot be too technical.

That’s why I’ve continued to look for “smoking guns”. The epidemiology of “HIV” tests shows “it” isn’t infectious, and isn’t correlated with the illnesses dubbed “AIDS” in the early 1980s. That’s a blatantly smoking gun, but it requires people to slog through a large mass of accumulated data to appreciate it. I think the significance of the death statistics is more readily understandable. Look at all the people who have been officially classified as “living with AIDS” over the years. Their mortality (rate of death) has gone since 1982 from 65% to 3% — not steadily, but in distinct phases, about 5 of them. What’s different about each phase is how “living with AIDS” was defined. So mortality depends on how the disease is defined, not on what “it” “is”, or how “it” is treated. That obviously means, there’s something wrong with the definition. And, by the way, could you think of any other disease whose definition has changed like this? And furthermore, any disease whose definition is different in different countries?
(Yes, I know: psychiatric illnesses. See above, what I said about psychology. Maybe I should add that some of my good friends, and indeed valued members of my family, have been and are psychologists. But it isn’t a science, not even a medical science.)

Posted in experts, HIV absurdities, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission | Tagged: , , | 18 Comments »