HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Davis’

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll-Kalichman and Mr. Hyde-Newton — Chapter 1

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/04/04

It’s a common enough experience, to wake up in the morning with the answer to a troubling problem or at least a fresh insight: when one’s conscious, systematic, objective, scientific mind is asleep, the subconscious seems better able to exert its creative powers. I’ve benefited from it when I was doing electrochemistry, and when I was an administrator, and when I was writing about science studies, and when I was analyzing “HIV”-test data. And it’s still happening. The other morning I woke to another Eureka moment:

The reason that I was reminded of “Joe Newton” so often while working my way through Kalichman’s book was because the persona of Newton, which at first Kalichman could summon and dispense with almost at will, had at last taken him over irrevocably, just as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll had succumbed to Mr. Hyde after he had summoned him up once too often. That’s why Kalichman’s book attributes to me and other Rethinkers and Skeptics things said by “Newton”, not by us; and why the book finds it necessary to use so many “!” to emphasize what it regards as telling points; and why there are as many untruths in the book as there were lies in “Newton’s” e-mails and deceptions in his personal interactions with us.

The first fateful step, it’s obvious by hindsight, was to the top of a very steep as well as slippery slope. Professor Kalichman, perfectly well versed in the rules of conduct that govern his profession, would never dream of deceiving the subjects of his research; or if he did dream of it, he would have obtained advice and approval from the Human Subjects Board or Institutional Review Board at the University of Connecticut before actually doing so.

But a little imp seems to have whispered to Professor Kalichman: “Wouldn’t it be interesting, maybe even a bit exciting, to find out from the inside what those so-evil-seeming denialists are really thinking and doing? Why not pose as someone sympathetic or at least open to denialism? What harm could it possibly do, just to try a little experiment? Anonymously, no one need ever know. ”

So Kalichman gave birth to an alter ego, “Joseph C Newton”, who registered in August 2007 as an HIV-positive individual on a website maintained by Stephen Davis.

At about the same time, “Newton” in very different guise was requesting information from the new Rethinking AIDS website:

“From: Joseph Newton <joecnewton@gmail.com>
To: “correspondence@rethinkingaids.com” <correspondence@rethinkingaids.com>
Date: Thursday, August 9, 2007, 9:28:31 AM
Subject: Questions
I have visited your website and I am keenly interested in your views. As a medical professional I have often questioned the AIDS establishment as we stand by and see people get sicker from the highly toxic medications we use.
Can you direct me to other information so I can learn more about alternative theories of AIDS.
Thank you
JCP”

Perhaps the “Newton” persona had not been well thought out (Kalichman evidently lacks a novelist’s understanding of human psychology, as earlier noted — “How not to create a persona: Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #4“), or Kalichman was not keeping track of what he was doing, or perhaps he had designated several people to chase information under “Newton’s” name, or he thought foolishly that the several contacts being made by “Newton” would never compare notes; for no sooner had he signed up as an “HIV-positive”, and then told the RA website that he was a medical professional, than he described himself, again to the RA website, as a mere student:

“From: Joseph Newton <joecnewton@gmail.com>
To: correspondence@rethinkingaids.com
Date: Friday, August 10, 2007, 9:18:02 PM
Subject: joining you
Hello
I have been reading quite a bit about alternative theories of AIDS and as a student of Public Health in the USA, I would like to joinn your list of Rethinkers. Can you tell me how I might apply?
Thank you!
Joseph C. Newton, Connecticut, USA”

On the same day, “Newton” started an e-mail correspondence with Henry Bauer, who had just published the latest denialist book (see How not to create a persona: Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #4). And five days later, Joseph Newton, “student in public health, Bridgeton, USA”, signed as a member of the original Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis.

Although “Newton’s” professional and “HIV-positive” status was so varied in these different approaches, what was constant was a predilection for typos and a rather unnatural or stilted style. My guess is that the imp suggested that typos would create an image of hurriedness, lack of concentration perhaps, at any rate of someone with whom one could safely let one’s guard down.

Some weeks later, things at last seemed to become more productive. “Newton” queried Bauer about a supposed HIV-positive friend, and was introduced to Tony Lance and his theory of intestinal dysbiosis.

Now temptations began to multiply for Hyde-Newton. Instead of merely observing, perhaps he could inveigle some of the denialists into delivering up words with which they could later be thoroughly discredited — for example, if they could be enticed into advocating unsafe sex:

2 October 2007, “Newton” to Tony Lance:
“But my question has to do with safer sex. If my friend believes that he has tested positive because of instestinal spewing of antibodies, should he even care about using condoms or serosorting??
I appreciate your sharing this with me and your insights.”
[Notice, by the way, not only “Newton’s” trademark of frequent mis-spellings and exclamation marks, sometimes multiplied, and question marks that often come in duplicate, but also his odd, unconvincing mixture of feigned naivety and simultaneous familiarity with such rather uncommon phenomena as “serosorting”; I’ve commented before on the inept choice of a graduate-student persona that types like a rather hysterical elementary-school pupil — “How not to create a persona: Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #4“]

Huge disappointment. 2 October 2007, Tony Lance to “Newton”:
“As for your question about safer sex, I think condoms are a good idea regardless of what you believe about HIV’s relationship to AIDS. To put it simply, until any alternative theory of AIDS causation wins out the smart thing to do is cover your ass (and your cock!) and play it safe.”

But maybe there’s still something to be ferreted out from Lance:
20 October 2007, “Newton” to Lance:
> Hi Tony
> I jjust saw on the Alive and Well website that you are heading up
> an Alive and Well support group in NYC. True?
> I would like to know more about it.
> Thanks!!
> Joe
[Only one “typo” this time, but another doubled !!]

[As I was reviewing the exchanges by “Newton” with Bauer and with Lance, I experienced once more the comforting reassurance that if one has nothing to hide, and tells the truth, then one is not likely to put one’s foot in it. That always reminds me of the time when I, as Dean of Arts & Sciences, had rejected a request for a large salary raise from a faculty member who was waving offers from Elsewhere as a threat. A little later, I heard from his Department Head, whom he had approached in similar fashion. Chortled the Head: “When I told him we don’t bargain like that, he was stunned, and said, ‘But that’s exactly what the Dean said!’ Isn’t life simple when you just tell the truth? You don’t have to keep trying to remember what you said to whom”.]

28 October 2007, “Newton” to Lance:
“Hi Tony
I am actually in Connecticut, but I come to the city now and then. Maybe I can come to a meeting. When and where are they held?”

A dilemma. “Connecticut” was a natural, to make plausible the possibility of visits to NYC. But “Connecticut” was also an unfortunate slip, because Professor Kalichman wanted no connection to be known between himself and “Newton”; so when he first posted his “review” of Bauer’s book on Amazon.com, he showed his location as “New York” (Kalichman’s Komical Kapers — 1: Introducing the author, 8 March 2009).

By now, the apparent opportunity to glean from Lance information for the Kalichman opus was just too much to resist. So “Newton” continued with some $64K questions:

“Tony, I am also wondering if you might know anyone who was of dissident thinking and then changed to accept the orthodoxy??
I would like to know mor about the cycles that people may go through, between questioning HIV=AIDS and taking HAART??”

But Lance’s group was for “HIV-positives” only, so “Newton” couldn’t attend meetings.
29 October 2007, at 10:09 AM, Joseph Newton wrote:
“Hi Tony.
I do not have HIV, so I fully understand not being welcome to the group. I do not think it is good to have people who are negative in an HIV support group.
But I am interested and I have a close freind who is HIV positive.
It sounds like your group may not differ from most. I know support groups require members to respect each other’s choices and beliefs. They are not usually dogmatic, are they?”

By this point, “Newton” was perhaps wishing that he had kept to his original idea of “being” “HIV-positive”, for “Newton’s” increasing inquisitiveness about Lance’s group and its members brought an obvious query:

“Joe, What is your personal motivation in this matter?”

Whereupon “Newton” prevaricated once again; lying was becoming easier all the time:
“I am just trying to understand.
If the one thing you have in common is that the HIV/AIDS hypothesis flawed…how is it that some of the members are currently taking the meds or are consdiering taking them?
I understand that people can have ambivolent feelings and the openness of your group surely will allow for that.
But like using condoms, if you guys believe that the HIV = AIDS hypothesis is flawed, why take the meds??
If it possible that there are more extreme groups? Like barebackers are sort of the extreme condom rejectors — is there an extreme dissident group and you guys are sort of moderate??”

But Lance persisted:
“From: Tony Lance <tonylance@mac.com>
Date: October 30, 2007 11:35:27 AM CDT
To: Joseph Newton <joecnewton@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Hello again
Joe,
Why is condom usage amongst dissidents important to you personally if you are negative? Why are you asking me if there exist other dissident groups that are more extreme than ours?”

and “Newton” just kept on lying:
“On Oct 29, 2007, at 4:17 PM, Joseph Newton wrote:
First and foremost I am someone who cares about AIDS.
I am an HIV- person who is trying to understand both sides of the issue.
I have freind who are positive and I know taking treatments can be hard going.
I am personally motivated, I do not have a political agenda. Just trying to understand.”

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

What Dr. Jekyll discovered too late was that indulging too often in “Hyde” was the same as morphing into Hyde, and apparently Kalichman was morphing into “Newton” and becoming increasingly prone to prevarication. This is how Kalichman describes his interactions — which of course were actually “Newton’s” interactions — with the AIDS Rethinkers and HIV Skeptics who were the subjects of his research (p. xiv):

“So I started corresponding, conversing, and visiting the insiders of HIV/AIDS denialism. I posed questions and gained insight into the inner workings of denialism. . . . Not really knowing who I am, they took me under their wing to enlighten me about the truth about AIDS. . . . It is through these cordial and inquisitive exchanges that I learned most about this problem.
My relationships with denialists created some complicated arrangements that allowed me to experience denialism face-to-face.”

Despite the strange “Not really knowing who I am”, the unwary reader would hardly gather from this that Kalichman deliberately tried to deceive several of those with whom he corresponded, that he tempted them to make self-incriminating statements, and that he even posed as “Newton” in person in some of his meetings with “denialists”. More examples of these distasteful Kalichmanian-Newtonian doings will be documented in future chapters of this cautionary tale.

Posted in HIV skepticism, Legal aspects, prejudice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

TELLING TRUE STORIES ABOUT HIV/AIDS

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/05/12

How to entice into “rethinking AIDS”, into questioning the conventional wisdom, people who have been thoroughly brainwashed by the constant repetition of “HIV, the virus that causes AIDS”?

A large part of the problem is that the rethinkers’ case is not readily made in a convincing way via self-evident sound-bites. “The ‘HIV’ tests don’t detect a virus”, or “ ‘HIV’ tests have never been proven to be specific for ‘HIV’”, while perfectly true, are based on evidence that is too technical for most people to feel comfortable with; to appreciate the strength of the case against HIV/AIDS theory, to appreciate that those mainstream-contradicting sound-bites are really true, requires prolonged immersion in much data. Even the most concise as well as documented overview, say, Christine Maggiore’s excellent What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?, or Rebecca Culshaw’s similarly concise yet also comprehensive Science Sold Out: Does HIV Really Cause AIDS?, are hardly bed-time reading. A promising alternative approach is through “fiction”.

There’s a long and respectable history of literary fiction that aims to acquaint readers with important facts. (Most good literature teaches at least indirectly about people and about human life, of course, but I’m now referring to deliberately didactic treatments of specific issues.) Sinclair Lewis in Martin Arrowsmith conveyed important truths about medical practice and medical research and commercial conflicts of interest. Upton Sinclair revealed through novels some ugly truths about the meat-packing industry (The Jungle), the oil industry (Oil), and others, and his Lanny Budd series can serve as a descriptive political history of the era of Nazism, the Second World War, and its aftermath. Most recently, Michael Crichton exposed the lacunae and fault lines in the current obsession with man-caused global warming in State of Fear.

HIV/AIDS seems a natural candidate for this sort of treatment, and Stephen Davis has put his hand, head, and heart into the endeavor. His first novel, Wrongful Death: The AIDS Trial, was published in 2006; the second, Are You Positive?, appeared this year.

Both books feature legal trials, and are thereby consistent with my growing suspicion that HIV/AIDS theory will only be overturned when the mainstream is forced, in a court of law, to reveal the extent to which the theory is like an Emperor wearing no clothes at all.

Wrongful Death tells the story of a class-action suit brought by relatives of those who died needlessly because “HIV-positive” people were treated with AZT. The novel was exceptionally timely, given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was just then recommending that “HIV”-testing should become routine. If that were to happen, then a few perfectly healthy people in every thousand would be misguidedly told that they harbor a deadly virus and should begin taking drugs whose “side” effects make the rate of “adherence to treatment” quite low and which ultimately reward compliant adherence with serious illness and often death.

Davis follows, for legal reasons, the convention of claiming fictional character for the protagonists (except for a few well-known public figures), but readers at all familiar with HIV/AIDS matters will recognize many of the characters, most of whose names are faithful to the initials of their real-life models. The story is told in quite a straightforward manner, an appropriate vehicle for acquainting readers with the facts in a steady succession of digestible pieces. Though the story is straightforwardly told, there are also a couple of ingenious twists in the plot.

Are You Positive? features a trial that has, unfortunately, some real-life precedents: an HIV-positive man on trial for transmitting the virus to a sexual partner. As in the earlier book, the real-life models of some protagonists are recognizable, including by their initials. The evidence is unfolded at digestible pace: the lack of validity of “HIV” tests, the racial bias of the tests, the particular likelihood that TB patients and pregnant women will test “HIV-positive”. The recommendation that everyone be tested is mentioned, and the gruesome story of the orphans used as guinea pigs in clinical trials. The Padian study revealing lack of sexual transmission is dissected expertly. Gallo’s scientific failings are described accurately, as well as his self-incriminating testimony in the Parenzee trial in Adelaide (Australia). The role of conflicts of interest in the HIV/AIDS industry is brought out. An Appendix has a recommended “Informed Consent” form that people should require their doctors to sign if they are being asked to take an HIV test.

The story is told very accurately indeed in this novel. Because I already knew that every detail is correct, I found it emotionally difficult reading–I know of a dozen people languishing in jail for the crime of making love while testing “positive” for a supposedly active infection that the tests cannot actually establish, and there are surely many more in jail of whom I am not aware. HIV/AIDS-naïve readers, however, may not experience that emotional burden as they are led slowly to doubt what the conventional wisdom insists on.

My respect for these books and their author was only increased when, toward the end, I found cited one of my favorite epigrams, one I had used myself for years as the motto of a newsletter I once edited:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

Both these books are paperbacks published via automated “on demand” printing. Their material quality is comparable with such productions from large publishers, but in their lack of typographical errors they are far superior to most contemporary works, including in hard covers from long-established and respected presses.

Rethinkers ought to consider giving these books to their friends and acquaintances who scoff at the possibility that the mainstream could be wrong about HIV/AIDS. Leading HIV/AIDS-naïve people through salient details of the evidence in measured and linear succession is likely to make it easier for them to begin to shake off unthinking acceptance of the conventional wisdom than trying to argue all the scientific issues in concentrated form. Wrongful Death cites hundreds of supporting published sources; Are You Positive? relegates them to the website. In both cases, you can assure those to whom you give these books that the cited evidence is solidly supported in the mainstream literature and that the cited sources represent fairly the totality of what has been published and what is known.

Posted in antiretroviral drugs, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV tests, Legal aspects, sexual transmission | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »