HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘guilt by association’

Loch Ness Monsters again

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2015/03/13

HIV/AIDS groupies and vigilantes like to assert — most recently in attempting to critique Patricia Goodson’s fine review of 30 years of failed HIV/AIDS theory (Questioning the HIV-AIDS hypothesis: 30 years of dissent) — that my interest in the possible existence of “Loch Ness Monsters” marks me as not to be listened to about anything, no matter the evidence I adduce. In response, some years ago I detailed what my “belief” about Nessies actually is (Henry Bauer and the Loch Ness monsters). Later that year I posted a Tribute to Robert Rines, who had carried out some of the most ingenious modern searches for the creatures (Science, media, and Loch Ness “monsters”).

Some of the most objective and compelling evidence for the existence of these creatures comes from sonar (“The Case for the Loch Ness Monster: The Scientific Evidence”Journal of Scientific Exploration, 16(2): 225–246 [2002]) and a few underwater photos taken simultaneously with sonar echoes, but such technical stuff is less subjectively convincing than “seeing with one’s own eyes”. For the latter, there is no substitute for the film taken by Tim Dinsdale in 1960. Recently Tim’s son Angus published a book, The Man Who Filmed Ness: Tim Dinsdale and the Enigma of Loch Ness, whose website contains a link  that enables anyone to see the film itself on-line. Grainy as the film is, small as the Nessie’s back may seem at the range of a mile, you need to know only one thing to judge its significance:

The most determined debunkers, of whom there have been quite a few, have been able to suggest only one alternative explanation to this being a film of a large unidentified creature, of a species far larger than anything know to be in Loch Ness: That what seems to be a black hump, curved in cross-section and length, which submerges but continues to throw up a massive wake, is actually a boat with an outboard motor. Several magnified and computer-enhanced frames of the massive wake on my website show quite clearly that nothing material is visible above the wake after the hump has submerged.

If the most dedicated “skeptics” can offer no better explanation than this, then I feel justified in believing that Dinsdale filmed a genuine Nessie.
It reminds me of the Christian apologist, I think probably G. K. Chesterton or Malcolm Muggeridge, who remarked that the best argument for the truth of Christianity is the attempts by disbelievers to discredit it.
If there is one thing that the hump filmed by Dinsdale is certainly NOT, it’s a boat with an outboard motor.

Posted in HIV does not cause AIDS | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

HIV skepticism, Nessies, homophobia, and racism

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/08/25

Some months ago, I had written: “One of the burdens that AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics impose on one another is that the HIV/AIDS groupies and vigilantes seize every possible opportunity to assert ‘guilt by association’. I’ve felt apologetic for some time that my fellow Rethinkers and Skeptics have been tarred by the brush of being associated with Henry Bauer, who is a believer in Loch Ness monsters (‘Nessies’)” [Henry Bauer and the Loch Ness monsters, 16 February 2009].

I was recently asked by a neutral observer about another guilt-by-association charge directed at me in vigilante blogs, Wikipedia, and no doubt elsewhere as well: that I am racist and that I am or was at one time homophobic. So I’ll explain here where these charges came from, which will demonstrate at the same time how ludicrously unfounded they are.

The cited basis for my alleged homophobia and racism are the memoir, To Rise Above Principle: The Memoirs of an Unreconstructed Dean [Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press 1988, under the pen-name ‘Josef Martin’], and the newsletter (Virginia Scholar) which I edited for 7 years (1993-99) for the Virginia Association of Scholars.

It’s only now that I’ve come to realize what a remarkable coup it had been on my part to have the University of Illinois Press put their imprimatur on homophobic and racist remarks. It may be even more remarkable that the reviews of the book were so favorable, and that not one of them picked up on the homophobia and racism. It was yet another remarkable coup that the Council of Colleges of Arts & Sciences unblushingly invited this racist homophobe to address its Annual Meeting in 1989, and that the American Conference of Academic Deans had him give the keynote speech at its 49th Annual Meeting in 1993, where he even used the occasion to expound his racist views, namely, that every person should be treated as an individual and not as a generic member of some group.

It took two decades after the Dean’s Memoirs were published, and a decade or so after my editorship of the Virginia Scholar, before the homophobic, racist nature of their contents were discerned under an evidently very close reading by an enterprising albeit amateur literary critic, Kenneth W. Witwer, then a graduate student in biology who was minoring in AIDStruth.org. He first announced his discovery in a “review” on amazon.com of my book, The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory, a “review” that was subsequently withdrawn. The same discovery was also inserted into a “bio” about me posted on Wikipedia (see “Beware the Internet: Amazon.com ‘reviews’, Wikipedia, and other sources of misinformation”, 11 April 2009).

Witwer’s discovery is all the more remarkable when one considers the number and nature of the interested parties who had failed for a couple of decades to discern in those texts what he was able to discern. Since the late 1980s, political correctness has held prominent hegemony at my university (Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, a.k.a. “Virginia Tech”), resulting for example in the resignation of the university’s best, most appreciated teacher after being charged with sexual harassment on the basis of a joke told in class that 496 students out 500 did not find inappropriate let alone objectionable [“The trivialization of sexual harassment: Lessons from the Mandelstamm Case”, Academic Questions, 5 (#2, Spring 1992) 55-66; letters and response, ibid., 5 (#4, Fall 1992) 5-6; “Affirmative action at Virginia Tech: The tail that wagged the dog”, ibid., 6 (#1, Winter 1992-93) 72-84]. Yet in that hotbed of political correctness, those homophobic, racist memoirs and newsletters somehow brought no complaints, though the newsletter was widely distributed and the university’s president and provost had each received an author-inscribed copy of the memoirs hot off the press. This homophobic, racist author even continued to receive very satisfactory salary raises and a semester of paid leave (sort of a “sabbatical”) to write two books. Of course, political correctness pervaded and pervades academe as a whole, not only Virginia Tech; one of my favorite illustrations is that when I suggested to that collection of Deans in 1993 that every person should be treated as an individual and not as a generic member of some group, a number of individuals complimented me afterwards on having the courage to say such a thing.

The memoirs have long been out of print, but a PDF has long been freely available at my website. The Virginia Scholar is also freely available. I invite anyone who wants to decide at first hand about my views on affirmative action, homosexuality, race, or anything else to read and judge for themselves.
I was never homophobic, which properly means fearful of or averse towards people who happen to be homosexual. I was, however, guilty of accepting the then-generally-held view that homosexuality is in some way aberrant. When in later years I began to actually think about it, I came to a better conclusion, for reasons that I described in a book review in 2005 (Journal of Scientific Exploration, 19 #3, 419-35)  and cite on my personal website.  That guilt, of having accepted thoughtlessly a societal shibboleth, is comparable, I suggest, to the guilt of those who accept thoughtlessly other societal shibboleths, for example, that “HIV” causes “AIDS”, which is accepted so thoughtlessly that its believers are unable to cite any proof for it.

*******************

As I’ve remarked ad nauseam, when someone seeks to assassinate characters instead of arguing the substance of an issue, it reveals that those someones are unable to prove their case by substantive argument. All the HIV/AIDS vigilantes and groupies have to do to shut me up is to cite the scientific publications that prove HIV to be the cause of AIDS. They don’t do that because those publications don’t exist, and they acquired their belief not by looking at the evidence but by just accepting “what everyone knows”.

Further, as again I’ve remarked ad nauseam, even the most assassin-worthy characters may nevertheless be right about something. I could be wrong about Nessie, homosexuality, racism, and much else and still be right about HIV/AIDS. The charges are beside the point as well as unfounded.

Posted in HIV skepticism, Legal aspects, prejudice | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »

Henry Bauer and the Loch Ness monsters

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/02/16

One of the burdens that AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics impose on one another is that the HIV/AIDS groupies and vigilantes seize every possible opportunity to assert “guilt by association”. I’ve felt apologetic for some time that my fellow Rethinkers and Skeptics have been tarred by the brush of being associated with Henry Bauer, who is a believer in Loch Ness monsters (“Nessies”). Most recently, Seth Kalichman and Richard Wilson have been trying to make hay from this association, so I thought it might be useful if I made a plain statement about the matter — useful, that is to say, for anyone who is interested in actual facts.

But first, some comments on what the real issues are here.

1. Guilt by association is understood by all thinking people to be invalid, whether it’s being held accountable for someone else’s views or actions (e.g., House Un-American Activities Committee, McCarthyism) or whether it asserts that a person who is wrong about one issue is therefore wrong about all other issues — e.g., because Isaac Newton spent most of his time and intellectual energy delving into alchemy and Biblical exegesis, therefore his views on calculus and celestial mechanics are not worthy of consideration.

2. People who seek to counter what I’ve written about HIV/AIDS by pointing out that I’ve written about the Loch Ness mystery reveal thereby their inability to counter the arguments I’ve made about HIV/AIDS. It’s rather like the response that HIV/AIDS defenders always give when they’re asked to cite specific data that prove HIV to be the cause of AIDS: they never give a direct reply, it’s always about “overwhelming evidence”, “virtually unanimous consensus”, “hundreds of thousands of papers over 25 years” — when the argument would be cut short decisively in their favor if only they could cite such specific data. Similarly, if the groupies and vigilantes had conclusive answers to the data and inferences presented in my book, they could just give those answers, and then they wouldn’t have had to spend the considerable effort that they’ve evidently devoted to reading my writings on so many other matters, not only about Loch Ness but even my memoir of academic administration.

The following isn’t directed at those whose interest it is to assassinate characters because they can’t answer my substantive arguments, and it isn’t for those who pull things out of context to serve as innuendos; it is for my fellow Rethinkers and Skeptics who may have felt embarrassed by my Loch Ness connection and who have at times defended me from those sorts of attacks in the many Internet venues that I personally eschew, in which guilt by association, character assassination, bleep-worthy invective, and the like, are standard fare.

A direct question:

Do I believe in the existence of Loch Ness monsters?

A direct answer:

Yes and No     😉
It depends on what the meaning of “believe” is   😉

Flippancy aside: When we say in conversation, “I believe Loch Ness monsters are real animals”, or “I believe the President’s economic stimulus package is the best thing to do”, we’re expressing a strong opinion that’s not the same as saying, “I’m 100% certain that  Loch Ness monsters are real animals and that the President’s economic stimulus package is the best thing to do”.

I believe that the balance of the available evidence is that unidentified animals disport themselves deep under the waters of Loch Ness, but I’m not 100% certain — I wouldn’t bet on it anything that’s important to me.
If you’re interested in what the significant evidence is, read my essay, “The case for the Loch Ness Monster: The scientific evidence”, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 16(2): 225-46 (2002).

My book about the matter, The Enigma of Loch Ness: Making Sense of a Mystery, doesn’t make the case for the existence of Nessies, it is the second of my books to explore the differences between knowledge-seeking within and without the formal scientific community. Though it’s a scholarly monograph published by a university press rather than a popular work, its sales have exceeded 4500 copies plus some unknown number in a British edition and as a “book on tape”. I was delighted by some two dozen reviews of the book (all are listed at my website), overwhelmingly favorable, for example:

“We need more books of this type. Although Bauer personally says that he thinks the creatures do exist in Loch Ness, he is careful not to push his views, or to turn this book into a plea for Nessie. It remains a cautious examination about what is known, what is believed, why it is believed or not believed. The reader is left to make his or her own conclusion, or to make none at all. .  . . Rationalists will be pleased” (Gordon Stein, American Rationalist).

I would no more disown my associations with Loch Ness than Barack Obama would disown his associations with a man who was the preacher at his church for many years. There’s a bit more to me than my associations with Loch Ness, but I have no reason to be ashamed of those associations. Indeed, attempting to satisfy my curiosity about the possible existence of Nessies led to all sorts of good things for me, both personally and professionally.

I was first at Loch Ness during a honeymoon in 1958. I didn’t then take Nessies seriously, made no effort to ask about them, and didn’t buy the recently published book by Constance Whyte, “More than a Legend”. A few years later, I came across Tim Dinsdale’s 1961 book while browsing in the local library. Still photographs in it that were claimed to come from a moving film intrigued me, and I wanted to learn more. During a sabbatical leave in Britain in 1972-73, we encountered Dinsdale, and I arranged lecture tours for him in 1975 in Kentucky and 1979 in Virginia. Whenever there was the opportunity to visit Britain, I would try to include Loch Ness. I took a mini-sabbatical there in 1985, during which time I wrote my memoir about academic administration and made a number of friends. I spent a second honeymoon actually at Loch Ness, and my wife and I took summer vacations there for about 20 years, forming some close and valued friendships and delighting in the scenery across the Highlands; there cannot be many trails or by-ways that we haven’t traversed more than once, and I became quite adept at the maneuverings and the courtesies appropriate to single-track roads with infrequent “passing places”, often unpaved or with only two tire-width strips of asphalt.

So Loch Ness brought me quite powerful and altogether positive personal experiences. The mystery of the possible existence of Nessies brought me stimulating and rewarding intellectual experiences. My first question, naturally, had been, “Could these things really exist?” The second question came from looking in encyclopedias and journals for relevant information, leading me to ask myself, “Why can’t I find an authoritative scientific resource about this?” That led me to explore that question with historians, journalists, and others, and to a recognition that scientific activity is a far more complicated matter than “applying the scientific method”. And that led to my change of academic career from chemistry to science studies, with an interlude in academic administration that was also very instructive about the intellectual differences among academic specialties.

That background of learning about how science works, and about the role of unorthodox views in the progress of science, prepared and enabled me to look for the “beef” in HIV/AIDS theory after I had become aware that some people questioned the mainstream view. What I had learned about the history of science allowed me to contemplate the possibility that a firmly held consensus might be wrong, a realization shared by all too few people outside the academic fields of history of science and science studies or the like.

So there you have it. I “believe” (estimated probability ≥0.9) that Nessies exist, and I believe quite firmly (probability ≥0.999) that studying controversies over such matters can be intellectually rewarding. In the words of the motto adopted by the student newspaper at my alma mater:

Honi soit qui mal y pense

Posted in HIV skepticism, prejudice | Tagged: , , , | 14 Comments »