HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘unethical conduct by Kalichman’

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 »

How not to create a persona: Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #4

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/29

The publication of my HIV/AIDS book brought e-mails, phone calls, and even old-fashioned letters from a variety of individuals. A few of them smelled somehow wrong, for example, on 10th August 2007:

“FROM: “Joseph Newton” <joecnewton@gmail.com>
I have been reading about AIDS online and your name keeps coming up. You seem to have views on alernative theories of AIDS. I am wondering if you could point me to some of your writings on AIDS. I am eager to learn more.
Thank you for your time.
JCN”

If this guy has been reading about AIDS online, and my name kept popping up there, why didn’t he just go to the links to my writings? If where he saw my name didn’t have links, anyone going on-line for information would nowadays immediately Google and find those links; on-line searching would be easy, and much quicker than e-mailing a stranger whose receptivity is not known.
Funny coincidence, too, that he should have the family name of one of the world’s most famous scientists.
And I don’t like the carelessness, leaving that  typo, “alternative”. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but when I first approach someone from whom I’m asking a favor, I try to put my best foot forward and make an impression of being careful as well as literate.

But I gave “JCN” the benefit of doubt and responded substantively — with items that he would have known about if he really had seen my name popping up:

“The main thing I contribute that is new is an analysis of just about all the published HIV-test results for the USA. It shows that HIV is not a spreading infection and isn’t correlated with AIDS incidence. Therefore what HIV tests detect cannot be the cause of AIDS.
The most comprehensive discussion is in my book ‘The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory’ (McFarland 2007), more info at http://www.failingsofhivaidstheory.homestead.com
The book also discusses how it is possible for medical science to go so wrong, and how it went wrong in this instance
I published the analysis of HIV-test data earlier in 3 articles, and abstracts and pdf’s of those are at http://hivnotaids.homestead.com
I appreciate your interest and welcome comments on what I’ve written.
Best wishes”

The response was immediate:

“Thank you
This is all very helpful.
I have ordered your book.
I appreciate your being open to my asking more questions as I try to understand this all. I am an advanced graduate student in public health interested in the whole AIDS issue.
Thanks”

HELLO!
What’s going on here?
“an advanced graduate student”?!?
Who ever described himself like that?
The graduate students I’ve known identify themselves as master’s students or as doctoral students. What on earth is an “advanced” graduate student?!
And that makes the earlier typo even more surprising, because one of the few things for which I’ve envied modern-day students is their typing facility. Then too, “try to understand this all” doesn’t seem like an English-speaking individual.
Still, as a life-long teacher at the college level, my natural inclination is to overlook such infelicities and to strive to educate. But I couldn’t shake the suspicion that this individual was not who he claimed to be, and didn’t want me to know too much about him  or her. What was almost certain, though, was that this was NOT a graduate student; apparently someone fishing for information of some sort — but what? All my writings about HIV/AIDS are publicly available. What else could s/he want to know? And why not ask it directly?

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

A few weeks later, I heard again from “Joe Newton”:

“Hello Dr. Bauer.
I am reading your book and I am just glued to it!
I have also been in conversation with David Crowe. Very smart man.
I do have a question. The link between race and HIV seems complicated and I think I understand what you are saying in your book. But I am unsure how that link happens. Do you mean dark skinned people have some genetic basis that attracts HIV?
Thanks again for all of your help.
JCN”

Humph! — “. . . and I am just glued to it!”
With exclamation mark and all, a puerilism I might expect from perhaps an excitable middle-schooler, certainly not any graduate student I’ve ever encountered. No American graduate student ever tried to flatter me like this, neither in person nor by e-mail; they were never so obsequious. The occasional Asian student has been what I’ve regarded as overly respectful toward me, but that was a cultural norm; and “Joe Newton” didn’t seem Asian. S/he just didn’t ring true.

Still, I replied substantively, patiently, not pointing out that if s/he had really read those chapters in my book, then these questions were superfluous. My response was immediately appreciated:

“Thank you again Dr. Bauer
If I have other questions, do you mind if I write again?
Also, are you planning any lectures or seminars on AIDS or are you doing a book signing? It would be great to hear you speak!
Best regards
JCN”

GRRR….
“It would be great to hear you speak!”
What sort of graduate students has this “Joe Newton” ever been in contact with? Evidently not any who have ever taken a good writing course and thereby learned to use those exclamation marks more sparingly.
More than somewhat peculiar, too, to be asking about book signings and talks without saying where in these vast United States s/he is located.

But again I replied noncommittally but substantively. Sooner or later, I thought, I’d find out more about who this enquirer really was.

Occasionally there were clues that s/he was really looking for rather precise information:

“Hello again Dr. Bauer
I have now finished reading your book and I am amazed by it!! You must be famous by now given that it clearly proves Deusberg has been right all along.
I am now reading Ms. Farber’s book. So rich in history.
I have seen that Dr. Gallo is very critical of her book. That is no surpise. But the 56 errors they published did concern me. Until I found the Rethinking response to Gallo. I see you worked on that. Can you tell me which of the points addressed you specifically may have contributed to? It would be nice for me to be able to tie things together as I continue my quest to learn the realities of AIDS.
Thank you again
JCN”

Uh-oh—DOUBLE exclamation marks.
And “You must be famous by now”, an obsequiousness quite worthy of Dickens’ Uriah Heep.
Why does s/he care what points I might have contributed, if her/his interest is substantive in “learning the realities of AIDS”?

I was noncommittal but seemingly responsive again: I couldn’t remember those details; and I freely gave some unasked-for information and tried a little needling by referring to “the not-unfavorable review in the International Journal of STD and AIDS” of my book. S/he was suitably impressed:

“WOW! I did not know that a review was published in the International j of STD and AIDS…do you have a pdf of that?? II now see it abstracted on your website..but would love the whole thing… THANKS and I will stay in touch.
JCN”

Well, there’s a link in the abstract on my website to the whole thing as a pdf. Is s/he trying to present the impression of sub-par intelligence? And does s/he really believe that graduate students make a practice of mis-typing? Is this an attempt to convey excitement too great to be managed, revealed through typos and ?!?!
BAH, HUMBUG.
And, grad students and experienced Internet users do use lots of abbreviations, but if one writes “j” instead of Journal, wouldn’t you expect to see just “IntJSTDAIDS”?

One thing is clear about “Joe Newton”: s/he is trying to create an impression of lack of sophistication, of a certain carelessness — maybe someone with whom one could drop one’s guard? Or is it just that whoever is creating this persona doesn’t really know much about graduate students?

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

Enough already. I’ll be citing further tidbits from these exchanges, and “Newton’s” equally inept exchanges with several others, in future posts; with me they went on for months. But let me now jump ahead to the time, almost a year ago now, when a computer-savvy colleague took an interest and traced the origin of “Joe Newton’s” e-mails to the University of Connecticut. But that meant nothing to me at the time. Now it does, of course, since S. C. Kalichman, one-time “New-York-located” reviewer on Amazon.com [Introducing Seth Kalichman — Kalichman’s Komical Kaper #1, 8 March 2009], has revealed himself as Seth C Kalichman of the University of Connecticut. Now one understands why “Joe Newton’s” e-mails originated there.

My correspondence with “Joe Newton” enriches my understanding at several places in Kalichman’s book. For example, other readers might find it incongruous that “So I started corresponding, conversing, and visiting the insiders of HIV/AIDS denialism” is followed almost immediately by “Not really knowing who I am, they took me under their wing to enlighten me about the truth about AIDS” (xiv) — how could he converse with people who didn’t know who he was?

By pretending to be someone else, of course, but Kalichman doesn’t share that crucial item with his readers. Again, when he writes, “My relationships with denialists created some complicated arrangements” (xiv), Kalichman doesn’t explain what complications were created, or why, for the benefit of those readers who don’t know about “Joe Newton” and his ilk. Or, what could he be referring to when he writes (10), “Actual experiences have reinforced denialists’ beliefs that the establishment is conspiring against them” — What actual experiences? And “I am sure that some of my own actions in researching this book will be touted as evidence that the AIDS orthodoxy is out to get them”? Which of his actions? Uninformed readers can only remain puzzled, but those who “knew” SCK as “JCN” or some other of his aliases might quite possibly draw the inference of an unfriendly hidden agenda from the fact that he tried to mask his identity when communicating with us.

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

The clumsiness of Kalichman’s attempt to masquerade as a graduate student is another anecdotal confirmation of what I’ve said often over the years, that good novelists have a much better understanding of human nature and human behavior than do so many professional psychologists. If a novelist — John Updike, say — rather than a professor of social (community/clinical) psychology had created the character, “Joseph Newton, graduate student”, I think he might have fooled me for a long time; certainly he wouldn’t have placed me on guard with the very first e-mail. Nor would Updike have chosen “Newton” as a name, he would have chosen something quite nondescript, not too common yet not too uncommon — “Johnston”, say. He would have avoided anything that would generate a pause for thought, even the coincidence of a name recalling one of science’s greats. Or, to the other extreme strategy, Updike might have generated a really intriguing name — Havercrombie, say — and would have had ready an elaborate genealogy together with ample information about lifestyle, including location. Anyway, I doubt that Updike would have chosen a graduate student’s persona, least of all one “in public health”, if he had wanted to draw me out about my views on HIV/AIDS: that could be done so much more plausibly and in so much more detail by posing as an interested lay person.

So I would advise Kalichman to stick with his academic last and to repress firmly any urges he might ever feel to try his hand as a novelist or playwright. And should he still feel the urge to hide behind a fake persona at some time, I would suggest avoiding all such whimsies as “Newton” or retaining his real middle initial. Coincidences do happen, of course, but they draw attention, and if you’re trying to pull wool over someone’s intellectual eyes, the last thing you want is to arouse attentiveness.

Kalichman would also do well to eschew any ambitions he might have to qualify as a private investigator. His techniques just aren’t up to it. Here’s a quite recent illustration:

On the 5th of February this year I received this e-mail:
“Subject: Lisa Eaton added you as a friend on Facebook
Lisa added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know Lisa in order for you to be friends on Facebook.
To confirm this friend request, follow the link below:
http://www.facebook.com/n/?reqs.php&aref=18137191
Thanks,
The Facebook Team”

Never heard of her, but I checked at Facebook to see whether we had mutual friends who might have suggested that we get together.
Nope, no mutual friends.
So I had a look at Lisa Eaton’s profile:

facebookeatonuconn
AHA — University of Connecticut again. And see p. xvii in Kalichman’s book for an appreciation of “Lisa Eaton the greatest graduate student anyone could work with”.

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

So Kalichman ought not to seek a career as a novelist, nor as a private investigator. But if he remains a psychologist, perhaps he ought to take more care to abide by the “ETHICAL PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGISTS AND CODE OF CONDUCT”, drawn up and published by the American Psychological Association. It states, for example (emphases added):

“Principle C: Integrity
Psychologists seek to promote accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in the science, teaching, and practice of psychology. In these activities psychologists do not steal, cheat, or engage in fraud, subterfuge, or intentional misrepresentation of fact….

8.07 Deception in Research
(a) Psychologists do not conduct a study involving deception unless they have determined that the use of deceptive techniques is justified by the study’s significant prospective scientific, educational, or applied value and that effective nondeceptive alternative procedures are not feasible.
(b) Psychologists do not deceive prospective participants about research that is reasonably expected to cause physical pain or severe emotional distress.
(c) Psychologists explain any deception that is an integral feature of the design and conduct of an experiment to participants as early as is feasible, preferably at the conclusion of their participation, but no later than at the conclusion of the data collection, and permit participants to withdraw their data.”

Where a study would not be feasible without deception, the researcher is required to obtain approval for the research from the Human Subjects Committee or Institutional Review Board at his university or other place of employment. For example, the psychology profession’s Wiki states:
“Human subjects committees or Institutional Review Boards, which include researchers and lawyers that review and approve research at an institution must approve the use of deception to certify that it is both necessary and that a plan exists to debrief participants to remove and residual effects of the deception.”

One’s immediate reaction is that “Joe Newton” and his ilk violated rather clearly the accepted code of ethics of Kalichman’s professional association. Perhaps that explains Kalichman’s deployment of such euphemisms as “complicated arrangements” for his interactions with his research subjects.

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