HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘Sigmund Freud’

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).

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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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Pots and kettles: Is ignorance an excuse? — Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #6

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/04/20

A favorite tactic of AIDStruthers, including Kalichman (e.g., p. 71 in “Denying AIDS”), is to dismiss without further ado anything said by AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics on the grounds that they have never done any AIDS research themselves. As I pointed out in “Science Studies 101: Why is HIV/AIDS ‘science’ so unreliable?” [18 July 2008]:

“HIV/AIDS vigilantes like to denigrate rethinkers for not having had their hands dirtied by direct research on the matters they discuss. Historians and sociologists of science, however, know that some of the most acclaimed breakthroughs were made by disciplinary outsiders, who were not blinkered and blinded by the contemporary paradigm (24, 25). . . .
24. Ernest B. Hook (ed.), Prematurity in Scientific Discovery: On Resistance and Neglect, University of California Press, 2002.
25. Henry H. Bauer, The progress of science and implications for science studies and for science policy, Perspectives on Science 11 (#2, 2003) 236-78.”

At the same time as the Guardians of the HIV/AIDS Faith insist that it’s worth attending only to people who have themselves worked in a given specialty, those same Guardians of the Faith apparently feel themselves perfectly qualified to hold forth on matters of science in general and of pseudo-science in particular without having themselves done any scholarly research into those matters, indeed without displaying knowledge of even the rudiments of those subjects. They are ignorant even about aspects of Science Studies where they might be thought to have some insight, as when a clinical/social psychologist makes the stunningly ludicrous assertion that “Scientists are by their nature and training systematic and objective” (“Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #2: The Social Psychology of Scientists”, 14 March 2009).

Kalichman further ventures the astonishing and equally ludicrous assertion that one can discuss pseudo-science without first identifying criteria by which to distinguish science from what isn’t science: “Fortunately, we do not have to define science to understand pseudoscience” (p. 57).
The most cursory consideration reveals that statement as utter nonsense. If you offer me a pseudo-apple, the only way I can know it’s pseudo is if I could  recognize a real apple. “Pseudo-science” surely means something that masquerades as science but isn’t the real article; if one cannot recognize real science, then one cannot recognize pseudo-science. Generations of philosophers and other specialists have tried every which way, unsuccessfully*, to find a definitive set of criteria by which to distinguish science from non-science, pseudo-science, pathological science**, “cargo-cult” science, and all the other pejorative terms that Guardians of The Only True Faiths like to toss around:

“Self-styled ‘skeptics’ (26) like to denigrate heterodox views as ‘pseudo-science’ just because those views are heterodox, ignorant of the fact that there are no general criteria available by which to judge whether something is ‘scientific’; and they tend to be also ignorant of the fact that ‘scientific’ cannot be translated as ‘true’ (2, 27, 28). . . .
2. Henry H. Bauer, Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method, University of Illinois Press, 1992. . . .
26. The mother of all “skeptical” groups is CSICOP, publisher of Skeptical Inquirer; see George P. Hansen, “CSICOP and the Skeptics: an overview”, Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 86 (#1, 1992) 19-63.
27. Chapters 1-3, 6, 7 in reference 9.
28. Henry H. Bauer, Science or Pseudoscience: Magnetic Healing, Psychic Phenomena, and Other Heterodoxies, University of Illinois Press, 2001.”

Kalichman claims to rely on “standard definitions of pseudoscience” (p. xv) — of which none exist, if “standard” has its usual meaning of accepted throughout the pertinent intellectual community. He lists a number of purported attributes of pseudo-science (p. 57 ff.) — all of them easily deconstructed as invalid — yet doesn’t even pretend to show how any of those are supposed to be exemplified by AIDS Rethinkers or HIV Skeptics. According to Kalichman, moreover, “Pseudoscience, which is not science at all, differs from bad science and junk science, which are science but utilize faulty methodologies to draw incorrect conclusions” —
What on earth does he mean? Is he implying that pseudo-science doesn’t utilize faulty methodologies to draw incorrect conclusions?! What distinction is he trying to draw between his notion of pseudo-science and his notions of bad science or junk science — neither of which he defines beyond the just cited sentence?

This colossal and cavalier ignorance about what science is and how it works leads Kalichman even to adduce, as examples to support his case, instances that actually point exactly in the opposite direction:

“Scientists who hold views outside of the mainstream play an important role in truth seeking. Dissident scientists do not agree with the prevailing theory or do not accept the body of accumulated observations as fact. The importance of dissidence in science is unquestionable, with many celebrated examples throughout history. Revolutions in how we think about our world come from those who move science in new directions. We remember the dissident scientists who changed the way we think. Galileo Galilei changed how we view our universe. Albert Einstein changed how we contemplate space and time. Alfred Wegener changed how we think about the formation of our planet. Charles Darwin changed our view of life. Sigmund Freud changed how we view ourselves. Dissident scientists turn into revolutionaries when their thinking causes science to shift course. Science surely values diverse thinkers, dissent, disagreement, and vigorous debate. How those of us outside of a respective field of science distinguish between genuine dissidence and destructive attempts to undermine the science is a far more complicated matter” (p. 6).

No, my dear Kalichman, it’s not at all a complicated matter to understand how people outside  a field — or inside a field, for that matter — “distinguish between genuine dissidence and destructive attempts to undermine the science”: the long-demonstrated fact is that they don’t so distinguish because they cannot; no one can. As history tells us, devotees of a mainstream consensus regard all dissidence as destructive, just as you and the other AIDStruthers regard AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics as destructive just because we question the orthodox dogma. Objectively speaking, however, making the distinction is not so much a complicated matter as literally impossible. How can contemporaries distinguish the crank from the genius? As Albert Einstein acknowledged, “There is no objective test” ***.

In point of fact, every one of these former dissidents cited by Kalichman to illustrate how we revere revolutionaries actually illustrates the very opposite. All of them were anything but revered by their contemporaries, ranging from being ignored to being attacked viciously. Galileo’s troubles are well known, and his name has even become the standard example in the conventional wisdom about people who were right even when the authoritative experts pronounced them wrong and wanted them to recant. Darwin and Freud were persistently opposed both by scientists and by non-scientists. Alfred Wegener is one of Gunther Stent’s textbook examples of “premature discovery”, so far ahead of his contemporaries that it was the best part of half a century before his claims were vindicated — posthumously by about 35 years. One of the reasons Wegener’s ideas were ignored or dismissed by earth scientists was, of course, that Wegener was an outsider, not an earth scientist. As to Albert Einstein, the Nobel Committee was careful to note that he was being awarded the Nobel Prize “in particular” for studies relating to quantum theory , not for the then-still-controversial theory of relativity; that disclaimer is somewhat reminiscent of the manner on which Scientific American (May 2007, 53-59) recently prefaced Duesberg’s invited presentation of his views on aneuploidy and cancer:
“Editors’ note: The author, Peter Duesberg, a pioneering virologist, may be well known to readers for his assertion that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. The biomedical community has roundly rebutted that claim many times. Duesberg’s ideas about chromosomal abnormality as a root cause for cancer, in contrast, are controversial but are being actively investigated by mainstream science. We have therefore asked Duesberg to explain that work here. This article is in no sense an endorsement by SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN of his AIDS theories.”

Yes indeed, my dear Kalichman, “Revolutions in how we think about our world come from those who move science in new directions”. But if it were up to people like you, it would never happen, because according to you, only the specialists have a right to an opinion. Except, of course, when it comes to history of science or philosophy of science or sociology of science or science & technology studies, where outsiders like yourself think themselves somehow qualified to speak even though they lack the most elementary familiarity with the matters they address.

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* Larry Laudan, “The demise of the demarcation problem”, pp. 111-27 in Physics, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, ed. R. S. Cohen & L. Laudan, Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1983
** Henry H. Bauer, “‘Pathological Science’ is not Scientific Misconduct (nor is it pathological)”, HYLE (International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry), 8 (#1, April 2002) 5-20
*** I. Bernard Cohen, “An interview with Einstein”, Scientific American, July 1955, 69-73

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