HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘knowledge monopolies’

Dogmatism in science and medicine

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2012/05/23

It never rains but it pours, as they say. On the same day as I learned of the exciting court decision exonerating an “HIV-positive” person because “HIV” tests do not  diagnose infection — see previous post (Federal court finds “HIV” tests flawed) — I also received the first copies of my new book, Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth (McFarland 2012), which is now featured at the top of the left-hand sidebar of this blog.

The arrogant unscientific dogmatism of the HIV/AIDS true-believers is far from unique, there’s something quite similar in many other fields: Big-Bang cosmology, dinosaur extinction, theory of smell, string theory, Alzheimer’s amyloid theory, specificity and efficacy of psychotropic drugs, cold fusion, second-hand smoke, continental drift . . .
The consequences with HIV/AIDS are incomparably more damaging to innumerable people than in those other fields; but there are comparably damaging economic consequences of actions based on true belief in human-caused global warming. When a dogmatic opinion about a matter of science gets mixed up with politics and with corporate interests and with social activism, that view can become as set in stone and harmful in free societies as was Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union.

That’s what this book is about. It also argues that this is a distinctly new development in science, and suggests possible ways to limit the damage. There needs to be some way of separating and insulating truth-seeking science from State and Church and other institutions of that ilk.

AIDS Rethinkers will find that much of the supporting documentation in the book is drawn from inside knowledge of the HIV/AIDS mess; in particular, a whole chapter describes and analyzes the destruction of Medical Hypotheses by Elsevier. But there are ample data from other fields as well.

I would be very grateful if friends of this blog would recommend the book for purchase by their local libraries.

Posted in experts, HIV does not cause AIDS, uncritical media | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Mainstream duffers clutch at Duffy straws: African ancestry and HIV

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/07/26

Anywhere and everywhere, people of African ancestry test HIV-positive more often than others—including members of other “minority” groups in the United States, notably Native Americans and Asians. The dilemma for HIV/AIDS dogmatists is that this well established fact sits very uneasily with the claim that HIV is chiefly transmitted sexually, through risky and widely deplored behavior: that conjunction mirrors racist stereotypes about the sexual behavior of blacks [ANTHONY FAUCI EXPLAINS RACIAL DISPARITIES IN “HIV/AIDS”, 3 June 2008; RACE and SEXUAL BEHAVIOR: STEREOTYPE vs. FACT, 27 May 2008; HIV/AIDS THEORY IS INESCAPABLY RACIST, 19 May 2008; SEX, RACE, and “HIV”, 14 May 2008; RACIAL DISPARITIES IN TESTING “HIV-positive”: IS THERE A NON-RACIST EXPLANATION?, 4 May 2008; DECONSTRUCTING HIV/AIDS in “SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA” and “THE CARIBBEAN”, 21 April 2008; HIV: A RACE-DISCRIMINATING SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED VIRUS!, 16 April 2008; HIV: THE VIRUS THAT DISCRIMINATES BY RACE, 11 April 2008].

A just-published article seemed to promise delivery from this dilemma (“Duffy antigen receptor . . . mediates trans-infection of HIV-1 . . . and affects HIV-AIDS susceptibility”, Weijuing He et al., Cell Host & Microbe 4 [2008] 52-62). The significance and authoritativeness of this revelation was underscored by the fact that one of the members of the “international team” is “renowned virologist Robin Weiss” [Sabin Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 July 2008]:

“An international team of AIDS scientists has discovered a gene variant common in blacks that protects against certain types of malaria but increases susceptibility to HIV infection by 40 percent. Researchers, keen to find some biological clues to explain why people of African descent are bearing a disproportionate share of the world’s AIDS cases, suspect this subtle genetic trait — found in 60 percent of American blacks and 90 percent of Africans — might partly explain the difference. Ten percent of the world’s population lives in Sub-Saharan Africa, but that region accounts for 70 percent of the men, women and children living with HIV infection today. In the United States, African Americans make up 12 percent of the population, but account for half of newly diagnosed HIV infections. ‘The cause of this imbalance is not necessarily driven by behavior,’ said Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles. ‘Gay black men do not engage in riskier behavior than gay white men, for example. African people with this gene may have a higher vulnerability’. . . .
The researchers compared 814 African American military personal who were HIV negative with 470 who were infected with HIV. Out of this comparison popped the surprising number: A 40 percent higher risk of HIV among those whose genes suppressed the Duffy protein.”

At first sight, I was less than overwhelmed. A 40% increased risk doesn’t seem all that much help in explaining why African-American men are about 7 times more often “HIV-positive” than white American men, and African-American women about 21 times more often “HIV-positive” than white American women; nor that certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa report an “HIV-positive” rate of between 5 and 35% whereas no other region in the world, with the exception of the Caribbean, reports anything as high even as 1%. Still, HIV/AIDS dogmatists have proven their ability to explain anything, forget about plausibility; one could easily enough conjure some amplification effect.

I was impressed, however—though still not quite overwhelmed—by another aspect of this study:
“The researchers also made another remarkable finding — once a person with the African gene became infected, the same genetic trait appears to prolong survival. One of the Duffy protein’s natural roles appears to be to ramp up the immune system. It attracts a number of chemical signals that promote inflammation — a defensive mechanism that normally protects the body, but lays out a banquet of white blood cells for HIV to infect and destroy. So the same genetic mutation that raises the risk of HIV infection provides some protection to those who become infected. Similarly, those who carry the normal Duffy protein may be somewhat shielded from HIV infection, but once infected may sicken and die sooner without treatment.”

This counter-intuitive claim struck me hard because I had suggested elsewhere on the incongruity that blacks do in fact survive “HIV disease” to greater ages than members of other races, even as they are also “infected” by “HIV” to a far greater extent than are members of other races [HOW TO TEST THEORIES (HIV/AIDS THEORY FLUNKS), 7 January 2008]. I had taken this as further confirmation of my view that testing “HIV-positive” is an entirely non-specific indication of an immune-system response and that racial disparities reflect differences in genetic patterns relevant to immune-system function; now here was a generic explanation that was consistent with the data AND with the mainstream HIV/AIDS theory!

Admittedly, this explanation of how the Duffy protein could both increase and decrease susceptibility to “HIV” made my head swim. It ramps up the immune system, that should be good. But those extra cells whose job it is to defend the body are thereby exposed to the predations of “HIV”! That fits with the Ho view of frantic rapid turnover, but Ho’s math was discredited as soon as it was published. The explanation is also reminiscent of attempts to invoke immune (hyper)- activation or auto-immune reactions to explain how HIV destroys the immune system—but those had also been found wanting. Just too technically sophisticated for a lay person to understand. Anyway, wouldn’t this mean that anything that ramps up the immune system also makes it easier for HIV to destroy it? Beware vaccination! No wonder all attempts to make an anti-HIV vaccine have failed, indeed have sometimes increased susceptibility!

I was totally confused, so it was some comfort to find that technically sophisticated people could also find this explanation difficult: “The researchers offer an explanation that they concede is far from straightforward. ‘If you found the paper plain sailing, most of my students didn’t,’ Dr. Weiss said.”

Still, that didn’t erase my concern that here was a shred of evidence to support a mainstream explanation. Fortunately, alleviation came from several sources. Nick Wade in the New York Times cited certain reservations [17 July 2008; Gene variation may raise risk of H.I.V., study finds]: “David B. Goldstein, geneticist who studies H.I.V. at Duke University, said that the new result ‘would be pretty exciting if it holds up’” [emphasis added]; and he remarked that the techniques used to avoid effects of chance correlation “might not have been adequate”.

The crucial point seems to be that the Duffy gene in question is characteristic of—closely associated with—African ancestry. The tendency to test “HIV-positive” is also strongly associated with African ancestry. Therefore the Duffy gene and testing “HIV-positive” will inevitably show an association, a correlation, whether or not the gene has any causative role as to “HIV”. It’s the same old correlation-doesn’t-prove-causation fallacy that HIV/AIDS researchers—and innumerable others too, of course—often commit (for example, about “HIV” and excess deaths in Africa, see p.194 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).

Two blogs concerned with genetics give a full explanation of why the attempts by this “international team of AIDS scientists” to rule out chance correlation were flawed. Some of the gene bits (SNPs) used as “tests” were not independent of the Duffy gene; others were poor discriminators between European and African ancestry, and therefore unsatisfactory for gauging the proportional ancestry of African Americans; and the choice of SNPs raised the suspicion that they had initially been looked at for possible correlations with “HIV” and only later for ancestry-indicating tests; see “DARC and HIV: a false positive due to population structure?” and “Duffy-HIV association: an odd choice of ancestry markers”.


An HIV-gene claim analogous to the Duffy one was made some years ago about the supposedly protective properties of CCR5 genes with a particular deletion (Δ32), because that is found in European but not in African populations. But it’s present in only a small proportion of Europeans, and moreover its distribution varies enormously from north to south. It’s also present to a negligible extent in North Africa, whereas HIV is as uncommon in North Africa as it is in Europe.

Novembre J, Galvani AP, Slatkin M (2005) The Geographic Spread of the CCR5 Δ32 HIV-Resistance Allele. PLoS Biology 3(11): e339 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030339

For comparison, “HIV” rates, with North African countries in bold; “HIV” should increase from red to pale yellow regions if CCR5delta32 protects against it:
Albania, Algeria, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Libya, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey <0.2%; Finland, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Morocco, Norway, Poland, Tunisia 0.1; Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Serbia/Montenegro, Sweden, United Kingdom 0.2; Austria, Belgium 0.3; France, Portugal, Switzerland 0.4; Italy 0.5, Spain 0.6 (UNAIDS 2006 report on the global AIDS epidemic)


These quite typical episodes illustrate something that science writers and journalists do not usually know but should know—indeed, that it would be good for everyone to know:


“Real science”, the stuff that is almost universally regarded as reliable, trustworthy, in fact true, is not and cannot be the latest, newest “breakthrough”, because it takes time and the critiquing and testing by other investigators to determine how much validity any new claim has. The real, reliable science is what’s been around long enough to have been thoroughly tested. Science is made trustworthy not by any formulaic “scientific method” but by a knowledge filter of the criticisms and repetitions and modifications and disproofs rendered by other researchers and peer reviewers.

Those who cover science for the media should learn to be as cautiously suspicious of “scientists” and “scientific” institutions as they mostly are of politicians, political institutions, business executives, and corporations. Scientists are no less human than other people, and they are no less capable of being corrupted by career ambitions and pressures, by “the system”, by taking goodies “because it doesn’t hurt anyone” “because everybody does it” and “If I didn’t do it, someone else would”.

Modern-day “Big Science” does not fit the traditional view of a quasi-religious vocation attracting disinterested truth-seekers who form an intellectual free market in which an invisible hand safeguards against error; modern-day “Big Science” is an array of bureaucracies that produce knowledge monopolies and research cartels.

Posted in experts, HIV and race, HIV tests, HIV/AIDS numbers, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »


Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/01/27

I’ve been wondering for several years, and I’ve also been asked quite often, “When will HIV/AIDS theory be abandoned? How will that happen?”

According to Yogi Berra, prediction is very hard, especially about the future. The only solid basis for attempting predictions is to extrapolate from the past and present, which can’t take account of the “unknown unknown”—the totally unforeseeable stuff—waiting to trip up even the most judicious and careful projections.

But when it comes to HIV/AIDS, there aren’t even comparable cases from which to extrapolate. Sure enough, plenty of beliefs in science, and a fortiori in medicine, have been found wanting over the centuries, that’s how understanding has advanced; “scientific revolutions” have overturned, displaced, repudiated long-held beliefs—about atoms, about the Earth’s age, about the relation between chemicals in living and non-living entities, about literally innumerable matters.

However, HIV/AIDS isn’t just a belief in medical science, it’s a huge industry, of direct benefit to many groups and to enormous numbers of people at many levels of society and throughout the world (see “Vested Interests”, p. 212 ff. in The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory). Researchers benefit from expenditures on HIV/AIDS that are 10 to 100 times more per patient or per death than is spent on diabetes or cardiovascular disease (Fair Allocations in Research Foundation) . Africa gets far more for HIV/AIDS-related matters than for anything else; for instance, while researchers in developed countries make a good-enough grant-living from HIV/AIDS, academics and researchers and their assistants in African countries enjoy largesse that others in those countries couldn’t even dream of having. Drug companies make enormous profits. Researchers and drug companies are able to carry out clinical trials in Africa that would never be approved in developed countries (DRUGS OR FOOD?, 25 December 2007; ARE INTESTINAL WORMS GOOD FOR US? ARE THEY GOOD FOR AFRICANS? FOR AFRICAN CHILDREN?, 30 December 2007). Tens of thousands of organizations are involved in HIV/AIDS, and innumerable individuals—very much including so-called activists—make their living from HIV/AIDS-related activities.

Of course, if the scientific community were to proclaim a consensus that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, others would fall in line. But what might move the scientific community to reach such a consensus? All the funding agencies, all the official institutions international as well as national, all the editors of the most entrenched and prestigious journals and the “peer” reviewers they choose, all the science journalists who have specialized in covering HIV/AIDS, are vested in HIV/AIDS dogma—vested in terms of career, reputation, plain self-interest.

Those are the facts. Documented testimonies are freely available. Scientific papers challenging any aspect of HIV/AIDS dogma are routinely rejected by Nature, Science, Lancet, JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, etc. “Dissidents” are persecuted shamefully (DISSENTING FROM HIV/AIDS THEORY, 8 December 2007). Thousands of signatories to petitions that HIV/AIDS be rethought understand that they had better keep that belief separate from their work, and some unknown number are even unwilling to have their names publicly known.

So, one cannot reasonably expect that some epidemic of heart-changing by the powers-that-be will transform this situation. If the mainstream scientific consensus is to change, it will have to be pushed by external forces to reconsider the evidence.

This situation prompted me to take special notice of a sentence in a mystery I was reading (Philip Kerr, “The One from the Other”):

“Hard to comprehend, yes. But not so hard to believe.”

The accumulated evidence forces belief, forces one to accept that, indeed, the mainstream medical-scientific community ignores competently presented and substantively supported views that run counter to the contemporary bandwagon. The evidence forces intellectual acceptance of the fact that this is the way things are. But we rebel against that emotionally, because we cannot comprehend, grasp, that medical science is so very different from how we have been conceiving science to be: objective, self-correcting, concerned primarily and only with truth.

That ideal view of science was not obviously misguided up to perhaps the middle of the 20th century, when one could still understand much about scientific activity as the result of an intellectual free market in which individual truth-seekers collaborated and competed. However, roughly since the Second World War, science has increasingly become a matter of knowledge monopolies and research cartels (for a longer discussion, read my essay on 21st-century science).

At a personal level, I find that I cannot comprehend that individuals should be so impervious to evidence or so uninterested in the whole subject. Like other human beings, I tend to judge others by myself. I came to be an HIV skeptic through a particular combination of personal experience and objective evidence. Subsequently, I make naturally the common yet mistaken assumption that others exposed to the same objective evidence would draw the same conclusions. But others don’t have the same background of personal experience that I do, and it is that personal background that explains why I took an interest in the topic in the first place and why I was able to view the evidence in a non-bandwagon manner.

I suggest that I’m fairly typical of HIV/AIDS dissidents in this. Books, articles, blogs, letters to the editor, and more, have been produced by dissidents under the implicit belief that the HIV/AIDS paradigm can be toppled by presenting the evidence against it. We have to comprehend that this is not so.

Certainly it was necessary to make the scientific case. But that has been overwhelming for a long time now, and the question becomes, How can the evidence be used to bring down this bandwagon? What social or political forces can be harnessed that are sufficiently influential to stand against this colossal combination of vested interests? How can those forces be enticed to take a fresh look at beliefs that have become so entrenched? Who would benefit from it?

Posted in Funds for HIV/AIDS, HIV does not cause AIDS | Tagged: , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

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