HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘Kalichman “Denying AIDS”’

PDF of the Kalichman/Newton saga

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/08/13

I’ve been very remiss about posting PDF’s of blog posts, as I’d been asked to do quite a while ago. An obvious candidate for such a PDF is a collection of the blog posts about Jekyll-Kalichman and Hyde-Newton, so I’m making that available now. To the 5 Chapters of this Strange Tale I’ve added an Epilogue that summarizes the salient failings of the Kalichman book, with links to the blog posts that give full details of the particular flaws.

JekyllKalichmanTale

Posted in HIV absurdities, HIV skepticism, prejudice | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Kalichman and Nazis — K’s anything-but-Komical self-revealing Kaper (#12)

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/06/07

Like several other fanatical believers in HIV/AIDS theory (for instance, Gallo et al. [2006], Cameron [2005]), Kalichman insists that there’s a meaningful similarity between “HIV/AIDS denialism” and “Holocaust denialism” (pp. 8-12); for example (p. 9):
“the link to Holocaust denialism means that the word is emotionally charged. Still, I defend my use of the term because I believe it best describes the rejection of objective reality to sustain a flawed, hurtful, and ultimately dangerous belief system”.

What’s basically wrong with this is the failure to demonstrate that “HIV/AIDS denialists” actually reject objective reality, or that we have a “belief system”, or that this supposed “belief system” is flawed, hurtful, or dangerous.  Kalichman’s approach exemplifies the attempt to ascribe guilt by association, asserting that’s what’s wrong with A is also wrong with B without presenting actual evidence that they share any common characteristics; he just says they do.

Kalichman, like Cameron, Gallo, and other HIV/AIDS vigilantes, has no interest in arguing such a case on the basis of evidence — because, of course, he can’t. The whole and only purpose of using terms like “denialism”, and invoking Holocaust denialism as a type specimen, is to arouse moral outrage and to brand AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics as unfit for intellectual discourse about the substantive issues. And that, as I’ve remarked several times, is attempted because the HIV/AIDS believers can’t answer our questions and can’t support their case with convincing evidence.

The bees in Kalichman’s bonnet include Nazis as well as Holocaust denialism. He makes the extraordinary claim that AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics call AIDS scientists Nazis:
“As expected [Kalichman doesn’t say by whom or why], denialists refer to AIDS scientists and medical specialists as Nazis, the mafia, and murderers” (p. 10); “AIDS scientists are typically portrayed as evil doers or even Nazis pitted again truth seekers” (101); “denialists are insulting our integrity and the value of our life’s work. Referring to AIDS scientists as conspirators, frauds, Nazis and child killers” (113); “a rather bizarre and unique feature of HIV/AIDS denialism is its repeated reference to AIDS scientists as Nazis” (143).

However, Kalichman offers only one documented example of denialists using the term “Nazis” in reference to HIV/AIDS vigilantes, namely, South African attorney Anthony Brink (pp. 144-45). Kalichman here accuses President Mbeki of it too, but fails to provide a needed reference — such an utterance seems uncharacteristic of Mbeki. Thus Kalichman commits the “single study fallacy”, which he incorrectly accuses others of committing.

Brink’s tirade could be plausibly excused (“to understand is to excuse”) as provoked by the incessant and intemperate “into the streets” tactics of HIV/AIDS “activists” in South Africa, but I personally have no more wish to excuse or condone it  than I excuse or condone application of the term “Holocaust denialists” to Rethinkers. Both are equally invalid intellectually and are used solely for polemic purpose. I invite Kalichman, too, to reject deployment of “Holocaust denialism” for the same reason that one objects to comparisons with Nazis.

Note too that the Brink piece is a self-published work, as Kalichman notes. One of the drawbacks of such publication is that one doesn’t get the benefit of an independent view and independent advice from an editor, and so one isn’t forced to second and third thoughts about what one writes. Kalichman doesn’t have that excuse for his “Holocaust” remarks, since he specifically acknowledges the excellence of the editorial help he received, and I can’t imagine that an even half-way competent editor would not have queried Kalichman about so egregiously offensive an assertion.

So one is forced to the sad conclusion that Kalichman makes the Holocaust reference after having considered it carefully.  However, his ignorance on such matters is quite extraordinary:

“The great irony of the denialists’ Nazi allusions to AIDS scientists, of course, is that they base their argument on the views of a group of German men born during the years of Nazism while making Nazi references to AIDS scientists, who are often Jews” (145).

I’ve already pointed out that Kalichman has provided no evidence — indeed, NEGATIVE evidence — that “Germans” are represented among AIDS Rethinkers in above-chance proportion [“The German Connection, contd.: How not to test an hypothesis (Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #3, part 2)”, 25 March 2009]. Now he implies something even more ludicrous, that just being born during the Nazi era somehow predisposes to “denialism”. A fortiori, he offers no evidence at all that Jews are “often” to be found among AIDS scientists — in other words, that Jews are found among AIDS scientists in greater proportion than among AIDS Rethinkers or among scientists in general.

If only that were the worst of it, making wild generalizations without a shred of supporting data. What will in addition be sadly evident to people who do know something about these things — Germans, Jews, Nazis, Holocausts — is that Kalichman evidently himself believes what the Nazis initiated and believed:  that one could not and cannot be at the same time a German and a Jew.

In point of fact, by the early 20th century Jews had assimilated into German culture more seamlessly than they had in any other European country. One of the huge tragedies of the Hitler era for so many German Jews was to be ejected from and rejected by what they had regarded for generations as their homeland, their fatherland, the nation for which they and their forebears had fought in wars, the nation they thought they belonged to just as fully as their Catholic or Protestant fellow countrymen.

Now Kalichman reveals the same baseless, racist belief, that Germans and Jews are two different breeds, the “denialists” and the “scientists”. He just takes the opposite tack to the Nazis, this time the Germans are the bad guys and the Jews are the good guys. But the dichotomy Kalichman embraces is identically the same dichotomy as the Nazis introduced.

Kalichman thinks about Germans and Jews in the same way as the Nazis did. That’s what he states in his book.

—————————————-

Cameron 2005. Witness to AIDS.
Gallo et al. 2006. Errors in Celia Farber’s March 2006 article in Harper’s Magazine; final version, 22 March; http://www.aegis.org/files/tac/2006/errorsinfarberarticle.html

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Kalichman disrespects Bauer; Bauer blows his own trumpet — Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #11

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/05/31

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping statement Kalichman makes about me, because it’s so easily shown to be utterly false, is that “Bauer has never done any scientific research” (p. 71, similar on pp. 72 and 182-3).

I had initially presumed — incorrectly, apparently — that Kalichman had read my book before criticizing what he claims to find in it. As it turns out, he places in quotation marks things I never said or wrote, and attributes to my book a “single-study fallacy” in making a comparison between HIV and AIDS that I never made (Kalichman re-writes Bauer’s book — Kalichman’s disgracefully un-Komical Kaper #10).  As to my record of scientific research see p. 7, in my Preface:

“After two decades of teaching chemistry, carrying out research specifically in electrochemistry, I joined the fledgling field of ‘science studies,’ or ‘science and technology studies,’ which was emerging in the 1970s as an interdisciplinary venture among engineers, scientists, historians of science, sociologists of science, philosophers of science, political scientists, and others” [emphasis added].

Not only is it stated plainly there; had Kalichman wanted to know about my professional doings, nothing prevented him from getting a copy of my vita. It’s not a confidential document, I’ve often sent out various versions of it when acting as consultant or dissertation evaluator or reviewer of credentials or when invited to give a talk somewhere. Kalichman describes having visited with Duesberg, so why would he not make direct contact with me and get accurate information? For some reason, while he was writing the book, Kalichman was trying to keep his identity and doings hidden from me, presenting himself as “Joe Newton” (Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll-Kalichman and Mr. Hyde-Newton — Chapter 1, 4 April 2009; How not to create a persona: Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #4, 29 March 2009; Introducing Seth Kalichman (Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #1), 8 March 2009); but he could have had “Joe”, or Kalichman’s actual graduate student Lisa Eaton, ask for my c.v.;  say, on the pretense that they wanted to arrange a talk for me under the auspices of a graduate-student group.

At any rate, I remain frankly and utterly without a good explanation for this blatantly false assertion by Kalichman; although, I confess, I’ve come to think that Kalichman is wont to just make up stuff, or perhaps to rely on a very faulty memory, or to “see” what he wishes to see rather than what’s actually there. At the end of this post, I’ll list a few details of my scientific research. I won’t count my scholarly work in Science Studies as scientific research, despite the fact that some of it is original and that I’ve published a respectable amount in that genre (half-a-dozen books, a few book chapters, a dozen or more articles). However, like most people, I think Science Studies is a social science and not a “hard” science. But surely no one would deny that research in electrochemistry is scientific research; or would they?

In an earlier post (“Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #2: The Social Psychology of Scientists”, 14 March 2009), I noted that Kalichman, a social psychologist, does regard himself generically as a scientist. Could it be, I wonder, that he overlooked my electrochemical research in a sort of Freudian slip prompted by subconscious jealousy? There is, after all, the well-recognized phenomenon of “physics envy” on the part of some social scientists who are jealous of the status that “hard” sciences like physics and chemistry have and that the “soft” social sciences don’t. The latter are “multi-paradigmatic”, a euphemism for the fact that there is no discipline-wide paradigm subscribed to by all; rather, there are differing schools of thought about fundamental issues. In psychology, for example, there is the inescapable problem of mind-body, or mind-brain interactions, where some take a materialistic view and others don’t. There is no universally-agreed-to governing paradigm on which to base explanations, and there are sometimes even differences over methods and over the validity of “facts” within any given field in social science. By contrast, chemistry, physics, and the other “hard” sciences are able to call on a structure of fundamental theory with associated explanatory powers that is shared among all researchers (in between the occasional scientific revolutions, that is). Since the social sciences cannot erect or sustain for any length of time a firm body of theory to which all practitioners pay obeisance, “physics envy” even has substantive grounds — sort of.  For discussion of differences between “hard” and “social” sciences, and for pointing out how wrong-headed it is to try to model the social sciences on the hard sciences, see for example Jock Abra, Should Psychology be a Science? (1998); Stanislav Andreski, Social Sciences as Sorcery (1972); Ernest Gellner, “The scientific status of the social sciences”, International Social Science Journal, XXXVI (1984): 567 586; Alexander Rosenberg, Philosophy of Social Science (1988; revised 2nd. ed., 1995).

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

This may be flippancy plus a bit of sarcasm at Kalichman’s expense, but it’s also more than that. The psychology of intellectual activity is an integral part of science studies. One cannot understand what happens in scientific or scholarly activity without recognizing roles played by biases, conflicts of interest, and the like, which do express themselves in phenomena like physics envy.

On a personal note, I’ve also had a long interest in matters psychological. I grew up in an environment where Freudian ideas were common parlance, in part perhaps because my paternal grandmother had once been governess to Sigmund Freud’s children — my father was named after one of Freud’s sons, the family stayed in intermittent touch with Anna Freud, and I even got to shake the old man’s hand in London when we were on our way to Australia. I still find enlightening much of what Freud wrote about slips of the tongue and the interpretation of dreams, and I think his views about early childhood influences made it seem reasonable to me that homosexuality might be a psychologically determined or fostered condition — a view that Kalichman calls “homophobia”, though he acknowledges (p. 183) that I’ve claimed to be recovering from it.

At any rate, “physics envy” is a phenomenon that can be discerned in those schools of thought in the social sciences that  believe they can only be “scientific” by being mathematical, reproducible, as much like physics as possible; which to my mind is an aberration, since every field of study has to develop methods and general approaches suited to the particular subject matter being investigated.

Back to the matter of Kalichman’s assertion that I’ve never done scientific research. My full c.v. is available here. While I was still teaching (to the end of 1999) I had to keep it up-to-date, and I still add articles and books as they are published. Some of the highlights as to scientific research are these:
I published or co-published in electrochemistry 85 research articles, 12 reviews of specific research topics, and a research monograph. I was research mentor to 15 graduate students, 4 of them doctoral. Two of the latter are full professors with distinguished research records of their own. I received research grants from a number of sources including the National Science Foundation. In 1969 I was the principal investigator on a Themis Project grant that ran for 6 years and was worth $200,000 in the first year alone, which 40 years ago was notable. I was listed in American Men & Women of Science as of 1971; was Visiting Professor, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 1974; received University of Kentucky Research Foundation Award, 1974; invited Sydney S. Negus Memorial Lecturer, Virginia Academy of Science, 1984.
And so on; I participated in the usual array of workshops, conferences, invited seminars, etc.

I remain astounded, uncomprehending, why Kalichman would make the plain statement that I’ve never done scientific research, and I can’t find a good excuse for his statement. As Tony Lance pointed out, you just have to Google my name and “electrochemistry” to find a couple of hundred citations of my research.

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🙂  At several places in Appendix B of “Denying AIDS”, Kalichman’s potted bios of “denialists”, he seems to make positive statements about some of us, no doubt to underscore the evenhandedness and objectivity that is “by nature and training” an attribute of scientists, of whom he is one. Thus he cites one of my colleagues (not named, of course) to the effect that I was “an able administrator and dean”. But was that intended as a compliment or as another snide disparagement? Researchers in the hard sciences typically grant little respect to administrators. There’s the saying, after all, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; and the rest go into administration”. Indeed, when I asked people to serve as references in my applications for administrative jobs, one of my most revered mentors expressed horror and the hope that, for my own good, I would remain a researcher.  🙂

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Kalichman re-writes Bauer’s book — Kalichman’s disgracefully un-Komical Kaper #10

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/05/26

Ad hominem attacks are one well-recognized and standard recourse for people who cannot win an argument on the merits of their case. A second well-recognized and standard recourse is to try to demolish an opponent’s case by attacking something that the opponent never claimed, said, or wrote — it’s called attacking a straw man. Kalichman has done that in a number of places, for instance when he invented the criterion that scientific work of a certain age could be ignored, and that books citing such work were therefore suspect, and that only the last 5 years of research proved HIV to be the cause of AIDS (“Proving HIV/AIDS — Kalichman’s blunders, in a nutshell”, 11 March 2009).

To attack the case I make in my book, The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory, Kalichman does nothing but put up straw men. His apparently favorite criticism, since it’s reiterated several times, is that I compared or predicted AIDS numbers with or from HIV data of 10 years earlier, and for different populations to boot:

P. 72: “Bauer compares HIV testing data from military recruits in the 1980s, who represented young people from across the United States but were not even remotely representative of people at risk for HIV/AIDS, to US AIDS cases a decade later.”
P. 103: “This version of the single study fallacy is the entire basis for Henry Bauer’s analysis of HIV testing data to prove that HIV cannot cause AIDS. He uses a single study of HIV testing with US military recruits to predict AIDS cases ten years later.”

Here’s an offer open to anyone, very much including Kalichman, his editors at Copernicus/Springer, the eminent HIV/AIDS scientists who furnished complimentary blurbs for the dust-jacket of Kalichman’s book, and the groupies who posted glowing reviews on amazon.com:
I will send a free (no S&H charges!), personally signed, copy of any of my books to the first person who can find in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory (McFarland 2007) what Kalichman claims, in the above citations, to be there. The offer is of a brand-new copy of any of my books that’s still in print, or the best copy I can find at abebooks.com if the book is out of print. For a complete list of my books besides the one on HIV/AIDS, see the “Other Books” page on this blog.

Anyone who has actually read my book — or, for that matter, has even just leafed through Part I — knows that I collate published “HIV”-test data covering about two decades and featuring many population sub-groups. I used every data-set in the CDC’s annual HIV/AIDS Surveillance Reports and in addition a great number of articles reporting “HIV” tests. As I said in the book, I eventually stopped looking for additional data when the trends that had become obvious were just being confirmed and underscored as I located further reports.

The overall comparisons I make between “HIV” and “AIDS” are summarized in Chapter 9, “HIV and AIDS are not correlated”, with sections pointing out cases of “HIV”-negative “AIDS”, of long-term healthy “HIV-positive” individuals, and that “HIV” and “AIDS” have changed differently for males and females, and differently for blacks and whites, over the course of two decades.

As to comparing different populations, Figure 3, p. 28, shows the geographic distribution of “HIV-positive” among military recruits for 1985-86, separately for 1985-87, and separately again for 1993-97; and these are compared — and shown to be very similar — to geographic distributions for new mothers (1988-90; separately, 1994; separately, 1995); Job Corps members (1987-90, 1993-97); blood donors (1986-87); all CDC public testing sites (1995-98).

The most specific comparison between “HIV” cases and “AIDS” cases (Figure 27 and associated text, pp. 110-12) is not one that I constructed. I make a critique of the correlation claimed by CDC personnel between military applicants, 1985-87, with cumulative AIDS cases through 1987 in the general population (Curran et al., “Epidemiology of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States”, Science 239 [1988] 610–16). But even this is not with AIDS cases 10 years later than some set of “HIV” data. Still, that’s the closest thing I’ve found in my book that might perhaps be what Kalichman refers to: the comparison was not made by me, I criticized it, and it doesn’t compare 1980s “HIV” with “AIDS” ten years later.

If I’m wrong about this, feel free to claim your reward of an autographed book.

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It would be awfully wearisome to list all of the things that Kalichman attacks in my book and which aren’t there. The egregious example just described in wearisome detail, and the misquotations described in an earlier post (Caveat lector! — Kalichman’s less-than-Komical Kaper #7, 3 May 2009), should suffice, I hope, to make readers of Kalichman’s book wary of believing anything he says about my work; every one of his statements needs to be checked against what’s actually in my book.

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Kalichman disclaims and makes AD HOMONYM attacks (Does illiteracy matter? — Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #9)

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/05/14

Among statements in Kalichman’s opus that particularly caused my eyebrows to lift was this one:
“I have also tried to avoid ad homonym attacks by focusing more on what the denialists are saying than who they are” (xv).

What on earth does he mean? Avoiding attacks directed at “homonym”, which means “same name”? Is he trying to say something about guilt by association, like about names that sound German?

But from the context, I fear he meant “ad hominem”, which means “directed at a person”.

Google reveals that there is even a “dictionary” to be found that permits this mis-spelling: the Urban Dictionary — “Urban Dictionary is the dictionary you wrote” — and thereby, of course, aiming for the lowest common denominator, just as insidiously unreliable as Wikipedia, say, or the web sites where students can post their spleen-stimulated “evaluations” of their professors.

Naturally enough, since “you” wrote it, Urban Dictionary provides no etymology to explain how any given word derives from earlier languages. However, a decent high-school education (but that was in another country, and that wench is also dead) left me with a rudimentary awareness of Greek and Latin roots of English words and of commonly used phrases from those dead languages:
“Ad” is Latin, encountered in many commonly used expressions: “ad absurdum”, “ad hoc”, “ad infinitum”, “ad lib”, “ad nauseam” . . . .
“hominem” is also Latin, from the root “homo” (MAN), here in the accusative case following the preposition “ad” (TO as in TOWARD).

By contrast, “homonym” is marked by the “nym” as derived from Greek, as in words with which Kalichman/Newton surely ought to be familiar —  “pseudonym”, “anonymous” — as well as other such common words as “acronym”, “eponymous”, “patronym”.
For “homonym” the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) offers the meanings
“1. a. The same name or word used to denote different things.
b. Philol. Applied to words having the same sound, but differing in meaning: opp. to heteronym and synonym.
c. Taxonomy. A generic name or a binomial that duplicates a name attached to a different plant or animal.
2. A person or thing having the same name as another; a ‘namesake’.
Hence †ho’monymal a., agreeing in name.”

Thus “homo” in “homonym” doesn’t stand for “man”, it stands for “same”, as in “homogeneous”, for example.

The writing of “homonym” instead of “hominem”, as well as the use of a Latin preposition with a Greek noun, displays (1) illiteracy but also (2) carelessness. Nothing like this should appear in a properly edited book from so prominent and well-established a publisher as Springer. There are all too many other places in this book where fact-checking makes itself sadly obvious by its absence, even in such rudimentary matters as checking that material inside quotation marks is actually in the quoted source (Caveat lector! — Kalichman’s less-than-Komical Kaper #7, 3 May 2009).

What’s most substantively wrong here, however, is that the claimed avoidance of “ad homonym” attacks is not at all in evidence in the book’s text, which is actually replete with ad hominem material. Just scanning the text for mentions of my name immediately turns up the following:

“Bauer has never done AIDS research. In fact, he has never done any scientific research. Henry Bauer is a pseudoscientist’s pseudoscientist!” (71)
“Henry Bauer is also one of the world’s leading authorities on the Loch Ness Monster. That is right, the Loch Ness Monster!” (71) [and there again is that Newtonian penchant for exclamation marks]
“it would be hard to believe that he [Bauer] was ever taken seriously by his colleagues given that he had not conducted scientific research and delved deeply into the world of pseudoscience” (72)
“It is not so remarkable that Bauer has contributed to AIDS pseudoscience, given his long and strange career. Bauer had hoped that his book would land him an interview on the Today Show and change the course of AIDS research and treatments. What is most remarkable about Bauer is how rapidly denialism has embraced him and taken up his conclusions. Bauer offers a vivid example of how denialism indiscriminately embraces anything that agrees with it” (74)
“Conservative groups have also embraced AIDS pseudoscientist and Nessie expert Henry Bauer” (141)
“Bauer also has a history of homophobia” (143)

I submit that those statements are about who I am, not about what I’ve said or written about HIV/AIDS. I submit further that they would be judged by most people as derogatory rather than neutral, in other words, ad hominem remarks. Indeed, since several of them are blatantly counterfactual, I think many people might even judge them to be libelous.

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Some of my friends claim that I have an unfortunate penchant for attempted humor and flippancy on serious matters, and perhaps I’ve let that carry me away here over what might seem substantively trivial matters like the spellings and meanings of words. I promise to get back to pointing to actual substantive falsehoods in Kalichman’s book, like the characteristics of scientists, my German connection, how to test hypotheses, ignorance about science and pseudo-science, and more. I’ll also have more to say about attributing to me what I’ve never said or written.

But using words incorrectly is not so trivial a matter:

Neither can his mind be thought to be in tune,
whose words do jarre;
nor his reason in frame,
whose sentence is preposterous

(Richard Mitchell [“The Underground Grammarian” ] liked that quote so much that it became the motto of his newsletter. All his writings are now available on-line, and I recommend them in the strongest possible terms for clear thinking by an independent mind as well as uproarious commentary on butcherings of the English language, particularly at the hands of social scientists, bureaucrats, university administrators, and the politically correct.)

About ad hominem attacks there are also two pertinent and substantive points to be made:
1. What’s really wrong with resorting to ad hominem statements — personal attacks on people you disagree with — isn’t that they’re uncivil or that they might offend someone, it’s that they are IRRELEVANT to the subject under discussion. It’s a fact of human life that some people whose behavior might be widely regarded as despicable can nevertheless be correct about matters of fact, or science, or economics, or medicine, or anything else; and people who are universally admired for their integrity and regard for others can nevertheless be entirely wrong about matters of fact, or science, or economics, or medicine, or anything else.
Moreover, people who are right about one thing may be wrong on another. I suspect there are people who are wrong about everything, but no one is right about everything.
Ad hominem statements are merely invalid attempts to invoke guilt by association.
2. Why do people resort to making ad hominem attacks? Because they can’t win an argument on the merits of their case. Frustrated and infuriated, the believers lash out at those who reveal that their Emperor is nude.  AIDStruthers can’t cite a set of specific publications to prove that “HIV” tests detect active infection, and they can’t cite a set of specific publications to prove that “HIV” causes AIDS; so they try to “kill the messengers” who bring these facts to public attention.

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