Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.
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Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

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Whoopi Goldberg heralds Worlds AIDS Day of behalf of orphans

November 30th, 2005

The BBC pandering again, Alas

Whoopi Goldberg weighed in today with the full force of her glamor on the BBC to push AIDS Day (tomorrow, Thurs Dec 1) and the urgent need for a cure for a plague which, she tells the BBC World News, has left 15 million children orphaned. It shouldn’t be overshadowed by bird flu, she points out, when children are the ones which are suffering.

As we have noted before, the BBC seems to be neglecting its mandate to serve the public with unbiased news by reporting AIDS and other global medical alarms without ever quoting skeptics for balance. Once above marketing considerations, the public, license-funded corporation is now obsessed with audience numbers and has hardly any public affairs programs at all. How are the mighty fallen! American viewers. if unaware of this comedown from its majestic past, presumably view it as independent and responsible, even a cut above the once regal PBS which has now taken to running commercials for its sponsors.

Alas the truth is much different. The BBC has become a purveyor of biased information of the most sensationally simplistic sort, at least in AIDS. It informs viewers about AIDS at this BBC page on AIDS news”, which is chock full of the standard beliefs and claims without the slightest hint that the whole ideology has been ill founded for 19 years, according to the scientific review literature, peer reviewed and in the highest level journals.

Supporters of dissent in AIDS viewing this page with a jaundiced eye shouldn’t get excited at the big headline, “AIDS Debate”. This is not a reference to the scientific debate about whether HIV has any support in reason or evidence for being taken as the cause of the 33 AIDS symptoms, rather than their conventional causes.

The headline in fact refers to this news story Tough challenges remain in Aids fight by Karen Allen

BBC Health correspondent


Global funding for HIV/Aids has tripled in the past four years from a little over US$2bn to $6bn.

Yet it still falls far short of the $20bn UNAids estimates will be needed by 2007, just to stop the epidemic getting worse.

With more money now in the system, divisions are emerging about how it should best be spent.

The Bush administration in the US has committed $15 billion to fight HIV/Aids. It’s an impressive sum.

Tough challenges remain in Aids fight

By Karen Allen

BBC Health correspondent

By the time World Aids day has run its course an estimated 14,000 more people in the world will have become infected with HIV.

Nearly 40 million people globally are living with the Aids virus and within two years, six million more are expected to die.

A volunteer receives a vaccine shot in Bangkok

Only a small percentage of Aids funding goes into vaccine research

The statistics make grim reading and with infections continuing to rise at an alarming rate, there is no room for complacency.

It is a dynamic picture and one of the biggest global challenges the international community has had to face.

Funding

Global funding for HIV/Aids has tripled in the past four years from a little over US$2bn to $6bn.

Yet it still falls far short of the $20bn UNAids estimates will be needed by 2007, just to stop the epidemic getting worse.

With more money now in the system, divisions are emerging about how it should best be spent.

The Bush administration in the US has committed $15 billion to fight HIV/Aids. It’s an impressive sum.

But it has come in for criticism from some aid agencies for pushing programmes that use brand name anti-retroviral drugs which are more expensive than their generic counterparts.

It has also been under fire for pursuing an agenda which gives priority to projects that promote sexual abstinence over condom use.

Finding a safe effective vaccine is the holy grail in HIV/Aids research.

Some commentators say this is irrelevant for women in parts of Africa, for whom the biggest risk is of getting HIV is having a partner who sleeps around.

But others argue that even money with strings attached is welcome at a time when the epidemic shows little sign of waning.

Anthony Fauci – the US government’s key advisor on HIV/Aids argued at the International Aids Conference in Bangkok that the logic behind the Bush programme was to maintain accountability and control over how US taxpayers’ money is spent.

Meanwhile UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ruffled feathers when he countered that the American unilateral approach was undermining the Global Fund – an international mechanism to raise cash for HIV/Aids work, which is struggling to meet its financial targets.

That dispute has not really been resolved but there is now a concerted international effort to co-ordinate Aids funding in a more orderly manner.

This is likely to be a key theme taken up by the British government when it assumes the presidency of the G8 and EU next year.

Drugs

The cost of a year’s anti-retroviral treatment has fallen from around £6,000 a year to £180, yet nine out of 10 people who need the medicines are still not getting these life-saving treatments.

Aids drugs

The price of anti-retroviral drugs has plummeted

The World Health Organisation has set an ambitious target of getting three million people onto the drugs by the end of 2005.

But there are real doubts whether this is achievable, given current funding levels. Aid agencies say that it is entirely possible to meet that deadline but what is needed is the political will to roll drugs out on a massive scale.

However, it is not simply about distributing pills.

Christian Aid is one of the charities warning that without proper investment to build hospitals and train staff, sustaining anti- retroviral treatment in the long term will be hard.

Anti-retrovirals need to be taken consistently and widespread failure to do this could lead to major drug resistance and a reduction in treatment options for infected patients.

Vaccines

Finding a safe effective vaccine is the holy grail in HIV/Aids research but is proving a difficult challenge and it is unlikely that we will see effective immunisations available before the end of the decade.

Aside from the scientific difficulties, there are also enormous financial challenges

There are currently some 30 different Aids vaccines undergoing trials.

These experiment with different approaches, aiming either to disable the Aids virus or prevent it from entering human cells and multiplying.

Aside from the scientific difficulties of HIV vaccine research, there are also enormous financial challenges.

IAVI, the International Aids Vaccine Initiative points out that only 1% of global research and development funding is being channelled into finding an Aids vaccine.

The G8 have promised to set up a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, a consortium to fast-track Aids vaccine research and pool information and cash.

The British government has already indicated that it intends to push Aids vaccine research up the political agenda, backing it up with a promise of more funding.

If indeed it does deliver, it could be a lasting legacy that finally turns the tide on an unrelenting epidemic.

amid a whole collection of unexceptional news items and other aspects of the AIDS non-debate, scientifically speaking, which are offered on the page.

Have Your Say Special

Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 15:45 GMT

Find out the facts, explore the issues and read about life with HIV in our BBC Aids special.

Overview

DEBATE IN: Arabic Persian Hindi Russian Spanish Portuguese Chinese

FEATURES

Anti-Aids drugs have transformed Bongani’s life Aids: A South African success story

Bongani’s health has been transformed since he began taking ARV’s.

IN PICTURES

Light bulbs of hope: A mother and daughter’s story

Interrupted lives: Don McCullin’s images

The time has come for our governments to press the panic button

Karthik Dinakar, Bangalore, India

Your views: How can the battle against Aids be won?

Sha Wang, suspected Aids sufferer Slow starter

China’s new openness to tackling Aids begins to pay off – for some

Woman farmer in Thyolo, Malawi HIV in Malawi

Cultural norms fuel the spread of the disease among women

Logo of the Rainbow House, a Haiti orphange for children whose parents have died of Aids Catching a rainbow

Orphans find a home at Haiti’s first refuge for children with Aids

MORE FEATURES

Tackling Iran’s growing drugs problem

A pilot scheme is helping drug addicts who would otherwise be “dead or in prison”.

LIVING WITH HIV

Amir Reza ‘One cannot expect a drastic change’

A man walks past a Chinese government-sponsored poster on HIV/Aids ‘Everybody seems to know I have HIV’

TALKING POINT

You asked Botswana’s president

Peter Piot, UNAids

WHO Aids Director

HIV/AIDS AROUND THE WORLD

MORE PERSONAL STORIES

YOU ASKED THE EXPERTS

‘Why we are failing African girls’

Girl-trafficking hampers Aids fight

New York’s ‘guinea pig’ kids

Mozambique faces HIV dilemma

Mally, S Africa: Staying upbeat

Bogdan, Romania: Teenage years

Niza, Mexico: Fears leaving son

Juan, USA: Loneliness of HIV

UK minister Hilary Benn

Aids activist Emma Thompson

HIV drugs: Our panel

Condoms and culture: Our panel

Shukria Gul, HIV positive counsellor Tackling taboos

Uphill struggle for open debate in Pakistan on Aids

The biology of Aids

Find out how HIV attacks the body and how drugs fight back

Condom quiz

What do you know about the sheath that saves lives?

YOUR PICTURES

HIV/AIDS SEASON

The ‘real face of Aids’: Final days in Florida

Fighting HIV in Trinidad and Tobago

A lone mother cares for her son in Vietnam

Kenya’s slum volunteers fight back

world service banner

The Interview: Kofi Annan

Outlook: India’s Aids hospital

Young people & HIV

The Nelson Mandela concert

The BBC Aids concert

Out of control

The impact of Aids in the worst-hit countries

Global disease

Maps, charts, facts and figures about the global spread of HIV

Aids frustrations

A global survey for the BBC reveals anger and confusion

For anyone who grew up with the Beeb as the disinterested authority in all matters concerning news and views, the epitome of starchy, unperturbable decency carried over the ether across the mountains and jungles of the world to outlying posts of the contracting British Empire, this is a sadly low station for the old lady to inhabit in her dotage.

Holbrooke tells Rose we need universal AIDS testing -but do we?

November 27th, 2005

To test or not to test, that is the question

The handsome man with the steady gaze of a rich and educated patrician on Rose on Tuesday night (Nov 22) was impressive, He sounded thoughtful and well briefed as he assured Rose that US soldiers were in greater danger now in Iraq than they were when he was fighting in Vietnam. “Obviously, knowing what we know now, the war should never have been attempted,” he said.

This was Richard Holbrooke, speaking with the authority of a former US Ambassador to the United Nations, and clearly a man who thinks through any issue he is interested in.

Until, that is, he reached the topic that seems to kill that critical impulse stone dead across the entire stratum of power and influence, even in those like Holbrooke in whom thoughtfulness is a habit, who are high in business and politics and take part in trying to find a solution to AIDS.

To be precise, just as we were wondering if he would make a good US president Holbrooke informed the earnestly sycophantic Charlie Rose that as President of the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, it was “almost a personal obsession now for me to promote AIDS testing. Since the virus doesn’t have any effect for seven years, 95% of the world who are positive don’t know they have it. We need more than an ABC of prevention, we need ABCT – abstinence, be faithful, condoms and testing,”

In other words, Holbrooke’s vision of the problem of AIDS follows the standard line all the way. So does Bill Clinton’s, of course, and so does economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia Earth Institute, both men who have played a strong part in opening the tap of international assistance in this cause. None of these politically sophisticated people, who can easily afford to ask their staff to look into the matter, have done so, it is clear. Scientists get a free pass, it appears, even when there have been complaints about their activities and questions raised about the validity of their science for two decades in an issue which has been on the front pages for the entire time.

In all Holbrooke says, there is not the slightest hint of any such doubt has ever existed in his mind. India now has most HIV positives, he says, and HIV is spreading to Russia. He is worried that with bird flu the priority, AIDS will take a back seat and run rampant. Evidently, he is as likely to lend an ear to the AIDS expose as George W. Bush.

Universal testing looms

In urging universal AIDS testing Holbrooke has fastened on one of the most twisted aspects of AIDS ideology, one where common sense is corrupted by politics which ignores mainstream research, let alone the review papers which reject HIV as the cause of anything.

For twenty years part of the schizophrenia of HIV=AIDS-think has been the banning of comprehensive AIDS testing as an invasion of privacy which may lead to prejudice and unfair treatment. At the same time, the result of a test is counted as the key to care and medication, and the failure to test is imagined to be the cause of the spread of AIDS by people who have no idea they are “HIV positive”.

The mental contortions needed to accomodate these inconsistent ideas are fairly demanding, but apparently not beyond the abilities of millions. Unless of course they don’t bother to think about it at all, which is more likely.

The scientific review literature of HIV?AIDS denies that a positive AIDS test has any significance for health whatsoever, of course, and even the mainstream paradigm literature has now repeatedly shown that heterosexual spread of AIDS is ruled out because the rate of transference of “HIV positivity” is too low, or even non existent.

This delicate balance of opposing ideas may collapse soon given the introduction of a home AIDS test some time in the next year. Such easy and rapid testing will confirm many new “HIV positives” throughout the nation and the world, without affecting the “spread” of AIDS in the slightest among heterosexuals. All it will do is foster all the distortions of social behavior that follow on acceptance of this doubtful paradigm, which ruins so many lives.

Perhaps the most egregious of these are the prosecutions for attempted murder that are being mounted lately especially in Canada against individuals who are HIV-positive and have sex with others without telling them.

Here are three from the last week:


Johnson Aziga is shown in this undated file handout photo.

CTV.ca News Staff

Updated: Tue. Nov. 15 2005 8:00 AM ET

An HIV-positive man from Hamilton, Ont. will stand trial on first degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of two women who were allegedly his sexual partners.

Johnson Aziga, 49, is accused of having unprotected sex with at least 13 women without disclosing his health status.

Ontario Court Judge Norman Bennett has ruled there’s enough evidence to make Aziga stand trial on murder charges. Aziga has been remanded in custody until a trial date is set on Dec. 16.

Aziga worked as a staff analyst with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1996.

The two women he is accused of killing were from Toronto. One died in December 2003, and the other died in May, 2004.

He is also accused of endangering the lives of 11 other women who were allegedly his sexual partners. Those women are alleged to be aggravated sexual assault victims since they say they didn’t know they were having unprotected sex with someone who was HIV-positive.

Legal experts say this court’s decision is unprecedented in Canada……

CTV.ca

HIV-positive man to stand trial on murder charges

Johnson Aziga is shown in this undated file handout photo.

CTV.ca News Staff

Updated: Tue. Nov. 15 2005 8:00 AM ET

An HIV-positive man from Hamilton, Ont. will stand trial on first degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of two women who were allegedly his sexual partners.

Johnson Aziga, 49, is accused of having unprotected sex with at least 13 women without disclosing his health status.

Ontario Court Judge Norman Bennett has ruled there’s enough evidence to make Aziga stand trial on murder charges. Aziga has been remanded in custody until a trial date is set on Dec. 16.

Aziga worked as a staff analyst with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1996.

The two women he is accused of killing were from Toronto. One died in December 2003, and the other died in May, 2004.

He is also accused of endangering the lives of 11 other women who were allegedly his sexual partners. Those women are alleged to be aggravated sexual assault victims since they say they didn’t know they were having unprotected sex with someone who was HIV-positive.

Legal experts say this court’s decision is unprecedented in Canada.

“It’s certainly the first case of its kind in Canada,” legal analyst Steven Skurka told Canada AM. “There have been a few cases of criminal negligence but none where the allegation was that a man used his body as a weapon to kill other women.”

Skurka adds that consent plays no part in this case, since the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that one does not consent to putting oneself at risk of HIV infection when one consents to sex.

“Let me explain it to you this way: If someone walked into a restaurant and ordered a meal, and the chef deliberately poisoned the meal, you could hardly say, ‘Well, you agreed to eat the food, didn’t you?’ It’s no different with the women in this case.”

Skurka admits that with the two key witnesses – the victims – deceased, prosecutors will have some difficulty proving their case.

“It’s going to be tremendously difficult. But there are three ways that it can be proven, in my view,” he says.

“First of all, there’s the pattern of conduct. Let’s remember there were two women here alleged to have been murdered — not just one — and there may be other cases that the prosecution will rely on. The second feature is what statements he’s given; has he given statements to other people about his conduct or to the police? And finally, what was his knowledge, what did he know about the transmission of the disease?”

The Hamilton case comes on the heels of a high-profile case involving a professional football player.

Trevis Smith is a linebacker with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. He is HIV-positive, and in October was charged with aggravated sexual assault in Surrey, British Columbia.

Smith was freed on $10,000 bail last week. He heads back to a Surrey court on Wednesday to enter a plea. His lawyer has said it will be not guilty.

© Copyright 2002-2006 Bell Globemedia Inc.

HIV-positive Ga. man sentenced on consensual sex charges

Judge rejects Fulton prosecutor’s request for 10 years in prison

By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN | Nov 22, 5:54 PM

A Fulton County judge on Tuesday rejected a prosecutor’s request to send an HIV-positive Georgia man to jail for 10 years for failing to disclose his infection before engaging in consensual sex in separate relationships with two men….

HIV-positive Ga. man sentenced on consensual sex charges

Judge rejects Fulton prosecutor’s request for 10 years in prison

By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN | Nov 22, 5:54 PM

A Fulton County judge on Tuesday rejected a prosecutor’s request to send an HIV-positive Georgia man to jail for 10 years for failing to disclose his infection before engaging in consensual sex in separate relationships with two men.

Instead, Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger sentenced Gary Wayne Carriker, to 10 years, with only two to serve in prison, followed by eight years of probation.

A Fulton County judge on Tuesday sentenced Gary Wayne Carriker to serve two years in prison for not disclosing that he is HIV-positive before engaging in sexual activity.

Carriker, 26, must also receive counseling and, during his first two years of probation, abide by a 10 p.m. curfew and complete 500 hours of community service with an AIDS group, Goger ruled.

“I think the judge was fair, I think the judge was thoughtful and I think he exemplified the highest standard of judicial restraint,” Clay Collins, Carriker’s attorney, said after the hearing.

Carriker, handcuffed and wearing a red jail jumpsuit, spoke briefly during the Nov. 22 hearing, acknowledging that he understood the charges against him and was pleading guilty voluntarily to two felony counts of reckless conduct.

Carriker did not disclose his HIV status before he engaged in consensual oral and anal sex with Jordan Myers between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2004, according to his May 10 indictment in Fulton Superior Court. He also did not disclose his status before he engaged in consensual oral sex with Don McDaniel between Jan. 8 and Jan. 25, 2005, according to the indictment.

The plea was non-negotiated, meaning prosecutors and Carriker’s attorneys had not agreed to a sentence prior to the hearing.

After questioning Carriker on the charges, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, a Fulton County senior assistant district attorney, asked Goger to sentence him to 10 years in prison for each charge, to serve concurrently.

In her arguments to the judge, Dunikoski acknowledged that Carriker’s victims were present in court and disagreed with her sentencing recommendation. But Dunikoski said Carriker should serve the full 10 years in jail to help protect the public by preventing him from engaging in similar behavior after his release.

On Nov. 7, a Fayette County judge sentenced Carriker to 10 years, with two to serve in jail, for a similar charge of reckless conduct for not disclosing his HIV status to another man, John Withrow, during a consensual sexual relationship between Dec. 10, 2003, and April 30, 2004. A civil lawsuit filed by Withrow against Carriker remains pending.

HIV-Positive Woman Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Sexual Assault

By Philip White

(EUNN) London – A Canadian woman has plead guilty to charges of having unprotected sex with several soldiers at a central Ontario military base knowing she had tested positive for HIV, a virus known to cause AIDS. Jennifer Murphy, 31, plead guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault….

November 26, 2005

HIV-Positive Woman Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Sexual Assault

By Philip White

(EUNN) London – A Canadian woman has plead guilty to charges of having unprotected sex with several soldiers at a central Ontario military base knowing she had tested positive for HIV, a virus known to cause AIDS. Jennifer Murphy, 31, plead guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault.

Murphy is scheduled for sentencing on December 2, Barrie Court officials said.

The Canadian woman was charged March 2 following allegations that she had engaged in unprotected sex with a soldier at CFB Borden near Barrie without informing him she had the virus that causes AIDS.

The Defence Department sent a notice to Forces personnel across the country warning them to seek medical advice if they had sex with Murphy.

The Canadian woman had returned to the area to visit friends she had made while she and her husband, a mechanic in the armed forces, were stationed at Barrie last year.

Murphy had been dubbed the “Soldier Stalker” following rumors of her being sighted walking around in a pink G-string and combat boots between military barracks there.

Here is another story, this one of a man who ran amok with a revolver apparently trying to get shot dead by the police in New York City today after a positive HIV test:

Suicide try by HIV guy

‘I wanted to get killed by cop’

By MICHAEL WHITE, JESS WISLOSKI

and ROBERT F. MOORE

DAILY NEWS WRITERS

A man who had just learned he was HIV-positive pointed a loaded gun at cops outside a Brooklyn police station yesterday, setting off a wild chase that ended with police firing five shots.

“I wanted to get killed by a cop today,” the suspect told officers as they put him into a holding cell, according to a law enforcement source.

The man with a death wish, Shalton Walters, 22, was charged with attempted murder, reckless endangerment, assault, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon, cops said.

No one was hurt in the bizarre drama that began just before 8 a.m. outside the 69th Precinct stationhouse on Foster Ave. in Canarsie.

“They’re all a little shaken up,” said an officer who works with the cops involved.

The three minutes of madness erupted as three uniformed patrol officers were leaving the front door of the police station. An armed Walters allegedly approached the officers and “got into a combat stance,” a police official said.

Standing less than 20 feet from the cops, Walters tried to fire his .45-caliber handgun and then darted down Rockaway Parkway, cops said. He cut through a parking lot behind the stationhouse and on E. 98th St. ran into a plainclothes officer who had just completed his shift.

The gunman stepped back, got into a combat stance again and pointed the gun at that cop, officials said. The officer yelled for him to stop but didn’t pull his weapon, and the suspect then ran toward Farragut Road without firing, cops said. At Farragut and Rockaway Parkway, he was met by four on-duty cops in two marked squad cars, as other officers poured out of the stationhouse.

Three cops fired a total of five shots at Walters after he had pointed the gun at them, too. He was not hit, and police were finally able to wrestle him to the ground.

A police source said Walters’ gun was a “piece of crap” and may have been inoperable. The source said Walters’ boldness faded quickly once the cops started firing.

“When you hear a bullet whiz by your ear, you start to think maybe this isn’t a good idea,” said a cop scouring the crime scene.

One bullet shattered a glass door at Grocery Inc., which is across Rockaway from the shooting. “The bullet almost went right into my head,” said Abdul Fattah, 27, a clerk at the convenience store. “I was scared. I just hit the floor right away.”

A police source said cops suspect Walters, a janitor at Natural Furniture Liquidators on Atlantic Ave. who was staying with friends in Queens, has been treated for a mental illness. They were investigating his medical history last night.

With Alison Gendar

Originally published on November 27, 2005

Media reporting and comment on the prospect of an easy home HIV test reveals how the acceptance of the doubtful HIV=AIDS premise leads to an ever larger structure of fantasy supported by perfectly good reasoning without anyone questioning the premise. Somehow the fact that reasoning itself is valid seems to validate the premise, however absurd the fantasy that results.

One example of this is “Test Adds New Twist to the Dating Game” from Washington by Gardiner Harris in the New York Times Style section today (p 16 Sun Nov 27).

perhaps soon to fade from the popular imagination will be scenes like the one from “Sex and the City” in which the sexually ravenous Samantha is asked by a prospective partner to get tested for H.I.V. (She becomes so nervous, she passes out at the clinic.)

Ms. Friedman said she expected the tests to be taken by people who routinely get anxious, often for very little reason, about their partners or their past. She has clients who take at-home pregnancy tests repeatedly and then, for good measure, go to a doctor for another test, she said.

The New York Times

November 27, 2005

Test Adds New Twist to the Dating Game

By GARDINER HARRIS

WASHINGTON

THE two young single women, attractive and confident, were sitting at the bar of a popular Washington after-hours spot when they were asked how a relatively quick do-it-yourself H.I.V. test might affect their dating life.

One of them, Julie Powers, 23, laughed. “I would definitely make someone take it,” she said, “hopefully before the sex.” And she would not be embarrassed, she said, to insist that a man submit to the test.

“I really think we’ve got what they want,” she explained. “And if they want it, they can have it on our terms.”

Her friend, Victoria Maulhardt, 25, nodded and added, “Especially if you’re getting serious with someone.”

Their comments were not idle speculation: a rapid at-home H.I.V. test could be available on pharmacy shelves within the next year or so. Encouraged by a federal drug advisory committee earlier this month, OraSure Technologies in Bethlehem, Pa., is expected to apply to the Food and Drug Administration soon for permission to start selling its H.I.V. test over the counter. Now it’s available only in clinics.

Taking the test involves a simple swab of the gums. Results appear within 20 minutes.

And if the results are negative, certain inhibitions may disappear.

“I think there would be a lot more unprotected sex if there was a 20-minute test that people could take,” said Michael Mathews, 40. Mr. Mathews was sitting in another Washington nightspot, this one with frosted windows and a clientele that was almost uniformly male.

“We’re all sick of hearing about condoms and prevention and safe sex,” Mr. Mathews said. If a test could allow gay men to skip such prevention efforts, many would, he said.

Ken Deckinger, co-founder and chief executive of the dating service HurryDate, said that an easily available AIDS test could quickly reassure a dater of a prospective partner’s health, allowing a couple to jump into bed faster than they might have before.

The test, he wrote in an e-mail exchange, will “speed up the natural relationship evolution process.”

“This, of course, will most likely lead to more casual encounters,” he wrote.

Helen Friedman, a clinical psychologist in private practice in St. Louis, said she could envision daters “bonding over this and saying, ‘Let’s take this test together,’ ” and then, safely reassured, going from there.

The test is part of a growing stable of medical products that people can use at home to address their sexual behavior; self-administered pregnancy tests and the morning-after pill are others.

The H.I.V. test also addresses an issue that more and more singles face: knowing next to nothing about their next date. The popularity of Internet dating and group set-ups has led more and more singles to participate in blind dates, no references included.

But while technology has helped foster the trend, it is also helping singles cope with it. Google can provide screenfuls of information about a prospective match. Other Web sites offer criminal background checks and lists of real estate holdings. So perhaps it’s no surprise that coming soon to a CVS near you is a quick way to tell if a would-be Mr. or Ms. Right has an infection that could kill.

And perhaps soon to fade from the popular imagination will be scenes like the one from “Sex and the City” in which the sexually ravenous Samantha is asked by a prospective partner to get tested for H.I.V. (She becomes so nervous, she passes out at the clinic.)

Ms. Friedman said she expected the tests to be taken by people who routinely get anxious, often for very little reason, about their partners or their past. She has clients who take at-home pregnancy tests repeatedly and then, for good measure, go to a doctor for another test, she said.

Members of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee suggested in a meeting this month that the people most likely to take the test are college students recovering from an uncharacteristically wild night. But the test is no hangover cure.

An H.I.V. infection will take anywhere from two weeks to three months to become detectable, so the test can offer no assurances about a partner’s most recent sexual history – or fidelity.

Still, Arthur Aron, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, said surreptitious testing of bodily fluids was bound to happen once the test becomes widely available.

“In the context of jealousy, people do amazing things,” Professor Aron said.

Ms. Maulhardt, on the other hand, nursing a drink at the Washington bar, dismissed the idea. “I wouldn’t want to do it behind someone’s back,” she said.

Besides giving daters more chances to have quickie sex and then be horrible to each other, a rapid at-home H.I.V. test could of course help stem a stubbornly high rate of H.I.V. infections in the United States, particularly among blacks, homosexuals and drug users. More than a million people here have been infected with H.I.V., almost two-thirds through male-to-male sex. The rate of infection among blacks is more than eight times that of whites.

Last year 38,685 more Americans were found to be infected with H.I.V., and studies have shown that 40 to 45 percent of new cases develop into AIDS within a year of diagnosis. AIDS takes nearly a decade to develop after an H.I.V. infection, so the seemingly rapid onset of AIDS in these cases means that many Americans – at least 250,000, studies estimate – carry the virus for years without knowing it, perhaps infecting others.

That is why many public health officials are so eager to put OraSure’s test on pharmacy shelves. Getting that quarter-million people to shed their ignorance and get screened could be the key to reducing the epidemic’s toll in the United States. But persuading some daters to make use of the test may still be difficult.

“I could not envision saying, ‘Gee, this has been really great, but before we go any further, here’s a box for you with a little bow on it?’ ” said Amy Drummond, a single woman from Alexandria, Va. “No.”

Matthew Montroi, a 23-year-old single from Washington, said he could imagine a woman asking him to take the test as they became more intimate and moved from using condoms to using birth control pills.

“But I’d probably never ask her to take one unless we were sitting at dinner and she just happened to mention that she’d had 50 partners before,” Mr. Montroi said. “I’d probably leave at that point anyway.”

Then he paused.

“Well,” he said, “if she was really hot, I might stay and ask her to take the test.”

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Evidently we are in for a reprise of the complications of romantic love in the late eighties and nineties, when those who fell for a partner of the opposite sex found themselves in love with someone they also had to suspect of murdering them with sex. Until, that is, the suspect partner took an HIV test, and even then, they couldn’t be sure because the test supposedly did not show HIV antibodies until months after exposure.

Now the test will be a simple swab of the gums and be available in 20 minutes, But we are told that “an HIV infection will still take anywhere from two weeks to three months to become detectable”, so the problem of too recent exposure is not solved. Nonetheless, the article predicts that mutual swabbing between interested parties will provide enough reassurance to permit instant gratification for many.

All these inconsistent behaviors result from the collision of two powerful emotions, longing for love and the fear of death, in people under the sway of a paradigm that the most tested scientific literature has reviewed and rejected.

Anyone who accepts this scientific literature and its conclusions can only marvel at the way intelligent people can adapt to a false belief even though it leads to the most obnoxious results in the part of life many of them value the most, the search for love.

Official blinkers

Meanwhile officials also fail to imagine alternatives, as if they were also wearing blinkers. From the same article, we have these paragraphs:


Last year 38,685 more Americans were found to be infected with H.I.V., and studies have shown that 40 to 45 percent of new cases develop into AIDS within a year of diagnosis. AIDS takes nearly a decade to develop after an H.I.V. infection, so the seemingly rapid onset of AIDS in these cases means that many Americans – at least 250,000, studies estimate – carry the virus for years without knowing it, perhaps infecting others.

That is why many public health officials are so eager to put OraSure’s test on pharmacy shelves. Getting that quarter-million people to shed their ignorance and get screened could be the key to reducing the epidemic’s toll in the United States. But persuading some daters to make use of the test may still be difficult.

For whatever reason, it doesn’t occur to these officials that a good reason for the sudden decline of those detected as HIV-positive only within the last year might be the news itself, and any of the severe medications which might be applied. Not to mention that any one of the thirty or so “AIDS symptoms” to appear for some conventional reason will be interpreted as “AIDS”.

Sauerkraut cures Korean chickens of flu, perhaps you too – BBC

November 25th, 2005

The idea that nutritional vitamin defenses against avian flu might work is not new. Only last March that the BBC reported that sauerkraut might be an answer to avian flu, though in its usual uncritical fashion. In a rather anecdotal study, 13 flu-ridden chickens at Seoul National University were fed Kimchi, a tasty Korean version of fermented cabbage, and 11 showed distinct signs of recovery a week later,

We have to assume their improvement was permanent, though there has been no later report. Anyhow, Karen Herzog of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with a sauerkraut maker in the vicinity, picked up on the story and ran with it three weeks ago, evidently without calling Korea to find out what happened to the chickens. Sauerkraut sales in Milwaukee skyrocketed, and a media bushfire briefly blazed.

The professor who had the idea, Kang Sa-ouk, said at the time it might be the bacteria (lactobacillus) in sauerkraut which fought the flu. But Sauerkraut is also a rich source of vitamin K ie phylloquinone which helps blood clotting and skin healing. Vitamin K is found in leafy vegetables, cheese, liver, and asparagus, though not in coffee, bacon or green tea as some Web sites claim.

Kimchi was popular in Asia as an antidote during the SARS scare two years ago. The Koreans export some 34,000 tons of the stuff every year, mostly to Japan. A Polish-American study of Polish immigrants to the US even suggests sauerkraut is preventive of breast cancer.

The University of New Mexico reported Polish women who ate four or more servings of sauerkraut and cabbage per week during adolescence were 74 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who ate 1.5 or fewer servings per week.

However, there are no papers explaining how it might cure avian flu, as far as we know. Vitamin A remains the key that the scientific literature suggests. Perhaps Anthony Faiuci’s office should be contacted.

Monday, November 7, 2005 – Page updated at 12:00 AM

Is sauerkraut a new weapon against bird flu?

By Karen Herzog

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE — While President Bush scrambles to ward off an avian-flu pandemic, the world’s largest sauerkraut producer, tucked amid the glacial lakebeds of rural Wisconsin, is sitting atop a bumper crop of one possible preventative.

That’s right: sauerkraut.

An international buzz is surrounding the unassuming fermented cabbage. Scientists at Seoul National University in South Korea fed an extract of kimchi, a spicy Korean variant of sauerkraut, to 13 chickens infected with avian flu, and a week later, 11 of the birds started to recover, according to a report by the BBC Network.

“Unlike the government, we’ve got the preventative, and 115,000 tons of it in Wisconsin alone,” said Ryan Downs, owner and general manager of Great Lakes Kraut Co., which has sauerkraut factories in Bear Creek and Shiocton, Wis., and in Shortsville, N.Y.

Downs said more extensive scientific research is needed to prove any curative link to avian flu, but he’s more than happy to tout kraut as a healthful part of any diet.

“People are starting to realize kraut is a pretty doggone good food,” Downs said when contacted about the South Korean study. “We’re ready to help keep the world healthy.”

Several television and radio stations across the United States have picked up the BBC story, said Steve Lundin, spokesman for Frank’s Sauerkraut, based in Fremont, Ohio.

After a Minneapolis CBS affiliate did its own story on sauerkraut’s potential in the battle against avian flu, Frank’s checked 54 Twin City area stores it supplies, and found an 850 percent spike in overall sauerkraut sales, Lundin said.

“People will do whatever they can if they can’t rely on the government to provide them with a vaccine or other preventative,” Lundin said.

South Koreans reportedly are eating more kimchi since news of the study came out. But Korean researchers acknowledged that if kimchi actually caused the effects they observed, it was unclear why.

advertising

Men’s Health magazine fed the sauerkraut buzz in its November issue, suggesting Americans put together pandemic kits containing a few cans of sauerkraut, among other nonperishable foods, because — like kimchi — it is packed with lactic-acid bacteria “shown by Korean researchers to speed recovery of chickens infected with avian flu.”

Another recently released study at the University of New Mexico indicates that sauerkraut may reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 74 percent. That study set out to determine why the risk of breast cancer nearly triples in Polish women who immigrate to the United States.

Of the hundreds of Polish women and Polish-born U.S. immigrants observed in the study, those who ate four or more servings of sauerkraut and cabbage per week during adolescence were 74 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who ate 1.5 or fewer servings per week.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

Sauerkraut sales up after avian flu report

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 4 (UPI) — After a Minneapolis media report that said sauerkraut might help guard against avian flu, there was a 850 percent spike in sauerkraut sales in the city.

A Minneapolis CBS affiliate aired its story on the possible benefits of sauerkraut avian flu, after a BBC report that said scientists at Seoul National University fed an extract of kimchi, a spicy Korean variant of sauerkraut, to 13 chickens infected with avian flu. A week after the birds were fed the sauerkraut, 11 of the birds started to recover.

Ryan Downs, owner and general manager of Great Lakes Kraut Co., said more extensive scientific research obviously was needed to prove any curative link to avian flu, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday. However, he said sauerkraut as a healthy part of any diet.

Earlier this week, the University of New Mexico reported Polish women who ate four or more servings of sauerkraut and cabbage per week during adolescence were 74 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who ate 1.5 or fewer servings per week.

Korea.Net

Kimchi gains popularity abroad

November 10, 2005

Contrary to a cool reception at home in the wake of a recent ruckus of its tarnished image, kimchi is gaining popularity with Americans and other places abroad following a spate of news reports to the effect that the traditional Korean dish has an inherent preventative effect on bird flu, the fear of which is now gripping the world.

It was last March that kimchi’s curative effect on avian influenza began to be known well outside of the country, when the British public broadcaster BBC aired the results of a research team led by Seoul National University professor Kang Sa-wook.

Quoting the team’s test results, BBC said of the 13 chickens stricken with the influenza, 11 had shown telling curative effects after being administered kimchi extracts.

Back in 2003, when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) broke out in Asia, there was a ‘kimchi rage’ in China and Southeast Asia on the strength of reports that the Korea-originated pickle was working in heading off the epidemic.

In recent weeks, the American media were into handling kimchi’s efficacy in treating avian flu.

The ABC network, South Carolina’s largest state newspaper, the Murtle Beach Sun News, Centre Daily Times of Pennsylvania, and some 100 media outlets across the United States reported kimchi’s curative effects on the epidemic.

The ABC reported on Tuesday that with the interest in kimchi growing in America, sauerkraut, the U.S. version of kimchi, is also enjoying a boom. Sauerkraut, a pickle of German origin made from shredded cabbage fermented in brine, is normally inserted into hot dogs or sandwiches.

Journal Times, a publication from Racine, Wisconsin, reported scientists speculated that the bacteria which were detected in kimchi, help cure avian influenza, adding that the same strains were also discovered in sauerkraut.

Kim Jae-soo, the agricultural attaché to the Korean embassy in Washington, D.C., said that contrary to the perception of misgivings Koreans have at home, the American press has given an intense coverage of kimchi’s curative effects on the poultry epidemic.

He noted that although the U.S. media had not paid significant attention to kimchi when it gained popularity as a curative to SARS in Southeast Asia, it is watching carefully this time around.

Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Korea Agro-Trade Corp. on Thursday (Nov. 10), despite the recent unsavory episode involving tainted kimchi, Korea’s exports of the item amounted to 26,275 tons in the first 10 months of the year, up 81 tons from a year earlier.

In particular, shipments to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia have surged partly due to Hallyu, or the Korean cultural wave, prompted by Daejanggeum, a Korean TV drama aired in those countries. In the January-October period, exports to Taiwan totaled 561 tons, up 72 percent from a year before. Hong Kong and Malaysia saw their imports increase by 15 and 150 percent respectively.

Besides, prospects for suspended kimchi shipments to Japan to resume were bright as the Japanese authorities were about to end their investigation into the Korean products soon. About 93 percent of Korea’s total exports of 34,827 tons last year went to Japan.

\

November 14, 2005

Sauerkraut–possible cure to avian flu?

According to experts, Sauerkraut, a traditional recipe, made from cabbage can be effective in fighting bird flu. Made from chopped cabbage that is fermented for at least a month, Sauerkraut contains bacteria that may counter bird flu.

The findings follow a study in which ‘kimchi’—a spicy cabbage dish popular in South Korea and similar to sauerkraut—was fed to 13 chickens infected with bird flu. Just one week later, 11 of the birds showed signs of recovery from the virus. Prof Kang Sa-ouk of Seoul National University claims that lactobacillus created during the fermenting process, is the active ingredient that could combat bird flu. The feed helps improve fight against bird flu and other types of viruses.

Sauerkraut has many other health benefits. It has cancer-fighting and detoxifying properties and is also a rich source of vitamins. A further study on Sauerkraut, carried out recently by Polish and American scientists, concluded that the meal might be the reason for the lower breast cancer rate observed among Polish immigrants in America.

Though Sauerkraut has attracted a lot of attention due the recent studies, much more extensive scientific research is needed to prove its effectiveness against bird flu. Whether or not scientists are able to establish Sauerkraut as a cure for bird flu, its health benefits have definitely come into foreground as a result of the studies.

November 14, 2005

Magic Johnson presents a problem for HIV dissenters —which they solve

November 24th, 2005

Magic Johnson presents a major problem for HIV dissenters, because he has stated in public that he takes his antiviral cocktail – the HAART regime – dutifully, and does not visibly suffer from fatty lumps and humps. Nor has he collapsed from kidney and liver damage, which dissenters claim is the fate of all who take these AIDS medicines, certainly within the many years that Magic has been taking his medicine after being diagnosed HIV positive.

HIV dissenters like to solve the inconsistency with their counter-theory of the dangerous irrelevancy of anti-HIV drugs to AIDS by claiming that Magic has said privately he doesn’t touch the stuff,

But he consistently maintains the opposite in public, so we took a special interest in the Charlie Rose interview tonight (Thurs Nov 24), which featured Magic for the full hour with his book My Hero; The Hero Project.

Rose brings up AIDS in the last quarter hour briefly, and Magic outlines his current ideas on AIDS, after correcting Rose by saying he has the “HIV virus” not AIDS, and that telling his woman about his positive HIV test was the hardest thing he ever had to do. Magic gives talks on HIV and AIDS to many groups. he says, and he urges them all to confess at once that they have HIV if they test positive, because “we have 26 drugs to help you”.

Without exception Magic’s comments followed the conventional wisdom ie the HIV party line – the “science of AIDS is going really, really well, fabulous”, “it is not a gay man disease”, one should get tested straight away, and AIDS is now invading the black and the Latino community “in a big way”, 60 per cent of the new cases now, etc. “We have to make sure we educate our children, our young people about this, because as we read in the paper the other day teenage sex is up among young people. Highest it’s ever been before. So we gotta get out there and make sure we educate people about HIV and AIDS.”

Given Magic’s ready, confident response along these lines, it seems impossible that he is concealing any private belief that all this is fantastic nonsense, and not taking his drugs. Fantasy it is of course, according to the latest mainstream scientific literature (which gives data which effectively denies any possibility of heterosexual HIV spread through sex, as we showed recently), not to mention the scientific review literature.

The question is, then, why has Magic survived the medications so well? The answer, critics say, is that he is a robust athlete whose body can handle them and stay healthy. Cancer chemotherapy patients survive similar assaults. The reason Magic and many other patients survive the drug regimen of AIDS very well is that it affects individuals differently because of biological variance.

The bigger question is, if the literature, as the reviews point out, tells us that any initial improvement aside (first they kill infections faster than the host, and excite immune cell creation by the bone marrow, which feels good, giving rise to the many stories in the uncritical press that a quick dose of “cocktail” enables an ailing AIDS patient to leap out of bed and climb the nearest mountain), the drugs have an adverse impact on the health of most AIDS patients and eventually send them to their doom, how is the standard claim that the drugs have enabled them to live normal lives able to survive a decade without imploding?

That, currently, is the billion dollar question for HIV dissenters. As Nobel prize winner James Watson said to this author, when discussing the validity of HIV?AIDS, “But the new drugs work, don’t they?”

To this HIV critics have an answer. Two answers, in fact. The point they say is that HIV supporters are able to make false claims for HIV and AIDS medications, based on a misinterpretation of a) the effect of reducing the dose of lethal drugs and b) recruiting more robust patients ie those not yet down with “AIDS” symptoms.

In the early days of AIDS the dose of AZT was much higher and more of the patients were already sick when they were given the standard AIDS medications, As the level of AZT was reduced the patient’s lives were lengthened, a year or so before protease inhibitors were brought in. HIV proponents now claim that their lives were lengthened by the new medications, but the improvement is visible in the trend before they came in. Clearly it was simply a result of cutting the dose of AZT, which is a DNA chain terminator which kills any cells dividing nearby, which they do to multiply in our bodies all the time.

Likewise, critics say, the trend towards administering protease inhibitors to people who are “HIV positive” (actually HIV antibody positive) but in good health without any AIDS symptoms results in more people living longer as they take the new drugs, because they have the robust health to withstand them better. This also is falsely credited to the efficacy of protease inhibitors.

One set of facts, two interpretations—but only one fits all the facts. The decline of AIDS deaths a year or more before the introduction of the new medications cannot be explained by the HIV defenders.

Magic Johnson presents a problem for HIV dissenters —which they solve

November 24th, 2005

Magic Johnson presents a major problem for HIV dissenters, because he has stated in public that he takes his antiviral cocktail – the HAART regime – dutifully, and does not visibly suffer from fatty lumps and humps. Nor has he collapsed from kidney and liver damage, which dissenters claim is the fate of all who take these AIDS medicines, certainly within the many years that Magic has been taking his medicine after being diagnosed HIV positive.

HIV dissenters like to solve the inconsistency with their counter-theory of the dangerous irrelevancy of anti-HIV drugs to AIDS by claiming that Magic has said privately he doesn’t touch the stuff,

But he consistently maintains the opposite in public, so we took a special interest in the Charlie Rose interview tonight (Thurs Nov 24), which featured Magic for the full hour with his book My Hero; The Hero Project.

Rose brings up AIDS in the last quarter hour briefly, and Magic outlines his current ideas on AIDS, after correcting Rose by saying he has the “HIV virus” not AIDS, and that telling his woman about his positive HIV test was the hardest thing he ever had to do. Magic gives talks on HIV and AIDS to many groups. he says, and he urges them all to confess at once that they have HIV if they test positive, because “we have 26 drugs to help you”.

Without exception Magic’s comments followed the conventional wisdom ie the HIV party line – the “science of AIDS is going really, really well, fabulous”, “it is not a gay man disease”, one should get tested straight away, and AIDS is now invading the black and the Latino community “in a big way”, 60 per cent of the new cases now, etc. “We have to make sure we educate our children, our young people about this, because as we read in the paper the other day teenage sex is up among young people. Highest it’s ever been before. So we gotta get out there and make sure we educate people about HIV and AIDS.”

Given Magic’s ready, confident response along these lines, it seems impossible that he is concealing any private belief that all this is fantastic nonsense, and not taking his drugs. Fantasy it is of course, according to the latest mainstream scientific literature (which gives data which effectively denies any possibility of heterosexual HIV spread through sex, as we showed recently), not to mention the scientific review literature.

The question is, then, why has Magic survived the medications so well? The answer, critics say, is that he is a robust athlete whose body can handle them and stay healthy. Cancer chemotherapy patients survive similar assaults. The reason Magic and many other patients survive the drug regimen of AIDS very well is that it affects individuals differently because of biological variance.

The bigger question is, if the literature, as the reviews point out, tells us that any initial improvement aside (first they kill infections faster than the host, and excite immune cell creation by the bone marrow, which feels good, giving rise to the many stories in the uncritical press that a quick dose of “cocktail” enables an ailing AIDS patient to leap out of bed and climb the nearest mountain), the drugs have an adverse impact on the health of most AIDS patients and eventually send them to their doom, how is the standard claim that the drugs have enabled them to live normal lives able to survive a decade without imploding?

That, currently, is the billion dollar question for HIV dissenters. As Nobel prize winner James Watson said to this author, when discussing the validity of HIV?AIDS, “But the new drugs work, don’t they?”

To this HIV critics have an answer. Two answers, in fact. The point they say is that HIV supporters are able to make false claims for HIV and AIDS medications, based on a misinterpretation of a) the effect of reducing the dose of lethal drugs and b) recruiting more robust patients ie those not yet down with “AIDS” symptoms.

In the early days of AIDS the dose of AZT was much higher and more of the patients were already sick when they were given the standard AIDS medications, As the level of AZT was reduced the patient’s lives were lengthened, a year or so before protease inhibitors were brought in. HIV proponents now claim that their lives were lengthened by the new medications, but the improvement is visible in the trend before they came in. Clearly it was simply a result of cutting the dose of AZT, which is a DNA chain terminator which kills any cells dividing nearby, which they do to multiply in our bodies all the time.

Likewise, critics say, the trend towards administering protease inhibitors to people who are “HIV positive” (actually HIV antibody positive) but in good health without any AIDS symptoms results in more people living longer as they take the new drugs, because they have the robust health to withstand them better. This also is falsely credited to the efficacy of protease inhibitors.

One set of facts, two interpretations—but only one fits all the facts. The decline of AIDS deaths a year or more before the introduction of the new medications cannot be explained by the HIV defenders.

Onion’s Lack of Seriousness Deplored by NIAID Director Anthony Fauci

November 23rd, 2005

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, stated today (Wed Nov 23) that in his opinion “the continuing ridicule and satire by the weekly paper, The Onion, of the strenuous efforts of our institution to raise the alarm regarding the greatest threat to US national security and world order in history, H5N1 bird flu, is now beyond a joke.”

Asked by New AIDS Review what he objected to most, Fauci replied: “For example the blatant excess of the image in this week’s issue ‘KFC Introduces New Bird-Flu Dipping Vaccine’.”

Added the NIAID director, “While I appreciate humor as well as the next official in Washington, I have to draw the line when it comes to the Onion’s giving the bird to what is without doubt the most alarming prospect for the human race since Noah’s flood.”

Brain science explains unscientific conformity to AIDS hypothesis

November 22nd, 2005

The “top-down process” in AIDS

There is a telling article by Sandra Blakeslee this morning (Tues Nov 22) in the Science section of the Times, right where it should be – on the front page.

We say this should be prominently displayed because it yields the best explanation for the infinite capacity of otherwise competent and honest scientists in AIDS to believe in what their objective selves should have told them long ago is nonsense, if the expert reviews of the science in AIDS is correct.

The article reports that modern brain studies have confirmed the peculiar capacity of the brain to justify its beliefs – as implanted by accepted authorities such as teachers or colleagues, the media or textbooks – in the face of a mountain of contrary evidence. Instead of adjusting the mental framework it is using to interpret data, the brain prefers to adjust its perception of the evidence which doesn’t fit its preconceptions. Voila! Rationalisation of a belief in the face of heresy, reinforced by resentment of the attempt to disturb the established truth.

These extensive feedback circuits mean that consciousness, what people see, hear, feel and believe, is based on what neuroscientists call ”top down processing.” What you see is not always what you get, because what you see depends on a framework built by experience that stands ready to interpret the raw information — as a flower or a hammer or a face.

Here surely is the explanation of the peculiar attitude of the AIDS rank and file, who so often seem to want to burn at the stake anyone who raises the question, Do we really know that HIV causes AIDS?

They are, in effect, under hypnosis, and instructed ,by their hypnotist (the scientific and health authorities who preach the paradigm to them and other members of the global AIDS congregation) to violently reject any questioner.

In this they appear to be very much a match for the Scientologists and other cults who exploit the same mechanism of mesmerism.

Possibly the mystery of why some people do not accept the mainstream idea, and are led to question and reject it, has something to do with the brain factors which lead some people to be easily hypnotized, and others to be hard or impossible to hypnotize, as the article mentions.

Since the huge proportion of easy believers in conventional wisdom in AIDS seems to be much higher in the general population, however, than the 18-20 per cent of humans that are easily hypnotized as adults, it seems that the figure for children is more applicable.


According to decades of research, 10 to 15 percent of adults are highly hypnotizable, said Dr. David Spiegel, a psychiatrist at Stanford who studies the clinical uses of hypnosis. Up to age 12, however, before top-down circuits mature, 80 to 85 percent of children are highly hypnotizable.

Come to think of it, there does seem something childish in the incapacity to think for oneself in the face of authority, crowd or peer pressure. But what this research suggests is that it is a function of immature brain structure, and therefore hopeless to try and influence it with arguments of reason or even contrary evidence.


Brain scans show that the control mechanisms for deciding what to do in the face of conflict become uncoupled when people are hypnotized. Top-down processes override sensory, or bottom-up information, said Dr. Stephen M. Kosslyn, a neuroscientist at Harvard. People think that sights, sounds and touch from the outside world constitute reality. But the brain constructs what it perceives based on past experience, Dr. Kosslyn said.

Most of the time bottom-up information matches top-down expectation, Dr. Spiegel said. But hypnosis is interesting because it creates a mismatch. ”We imagine something different, so it is different,” he said.

Evidently changing the minds of loyal subscribers to an AIDS paradigm which makes no scientific sense in logic or in regard to the data according to repeated scientific review may be akin to telling a five year old that Father Christmas doesn’t exist after he finds his stocking stuffed on Christmas morning: cruel and ineffective.

NYTimes.com

SCIENCE DESK

3, 2, 1: This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis

By SANDRA BLAKESLEE (NYT) 1706 words

Published: November 22, 2005

Hypnosis, with its long and checkered history in medicine and entertainment, is receiving some new respect from neuroscientists. Recent brain studies of people who are susceptible to suggestion indicate that when they act on the suggestions their brains show profound changes in how they process information. The suggestions, researchers report, literally change what people see, hear, feel and believe to be true.

The new experiments, which used brain imaging, found that people who were hypnotized ”saw” colors where there were none. Others lost the ability to make simple decisions. Some people looked at common English words and thought that they were gibberish.

”The idea that perceptions can be manipulated by expectations” is fundamental to the study of cognition, said Michael I. Posner, an emeritus professor of neuroscience at the University of Oregon and expert on attention. ”But now we’re really getting at the mechanisms.”

Even with little understanding of how it works, hypnosis has been used in medicine since the 1950’s to treat pain and, more recently, as a treatment for anxiety, depression, trauma, irritable bowel syndrome and eating disorders.

There is, however, still disagreement about what exactly the hypnotic state is or, indeed, whether it is anything more than an effort to please the hypnotist or a natural form of extreme concentration where people become oblivious to their surroundings while lost in thought.

Hypnosis had a false start in the 18th century when a German physician, Dr. Franz Mesmer, devised a miraculous cure for people suffering all manner of unexplained medical problems. Amid dim lights and ethereal music played on a glass harmonica, he infused them with an invisible ”magnetic fluid” that only he was able to muster. Thus mesmerized, clients were cured.

Although Dr. Mesmer was eventually discredited, he was the first person to show that the mind could be manipulated by suggestion to affect the body, historians say. This central finding was resurrected by Dr. James Braid, an English ophthalmologist who in 1842 coined the word hypnosis after the Greek word for sleep.

Braid reportedly put people into trances by staring at them intently, but he did not have a clue as to how it worked. In this vacuum, hypnosis was adopted by spiritualists and stage magicians who used dangling gold watches to induce hypnotic states in volunteers from the audience, and make them dance, sing or pretend to be someone else, only to awaken at a hand clap and laughter from the crowd.

In medical hands, hypnosis was no laughing matter. In the 19th century, physicians in India successfully used hypnosis as anesthesia, even for limb amputations. The practice fell from favor only when ether was discovered.

Now, Dr. Posner and others said, new research on hypnosis and suggestion is providing a new view into the cogs and wheels of normal brain function.

One area that it may have illuminated is the processing of sensory data. Information from the eyes, ears and body is carried to primary sensory regions in the brain. From there, it is carried to so-called higher regions where interpretation occurs.

For example, photons bouncing off a flower first reach the eye, where they are turned into a pattern that is sent to the primary visual cortex. There, the rough shape of the flower is recognized. The pattern is next sent to a higher — in terms of function — region, where color is recognized, and then to a higher region, where the flower’s identity is encoded along with other knowledge about the particular bloom.

The same processing stream, from lower to higher regions, exists for sounds, touch and other sensory information. Researchers call this direction of flow feedforward. As raw sensory data is carried to a part of the brain that creates a comprehensible, conscious impression, the data is moving from bottom to top.

Bundles of nerve cells dedicated to each sense carry sensory information. The surprise is the amount of traffic the other way, from top to bottom, called feedback. There are 10 times as many nerve fibers carrying information down as there are carrying it up.

These extensive feedback circuits mean that consciousness, what people see, hear, feel and believe, is based on what neuroscientists call ”top down processing.” What you see is not always what you get, because what you see depends on a framework built by experience that stands ready to interpret the raw information — as a flower or a hammer or a face.

The top-down structure explains a lot. If the construction of reality has so much top-down processing, that would make sense of the powers of placebos (a sugar pill will make you feel better), nocebos (a witch doctor will make you ill), talk therapy and meditation. If the top is convinced, the bottom level of data will be overruled.

This brain structure would also explain hypnosis, which is all about creating such formidable top-down processing that suggestions overcome reality.

According to decades of research, 10 to 15 percent of adults are highly hypnotizable, said Dr. David Spiegel, a psychiatrist at Stanford who studies the clinical uses of hypnosis. Up to age 12, however, before top-down circuits mature, 80 to 85 percent of children are highly hypnotizable.

One adult in five is flat out resistant to hypnosis, Dr. Spiegel said. The rest are in between, he said.

In some of the most recent work, Dr. Amir Raz, an assistant professor of clinical neuroscience at Columbia, chose to study highly hypnotizable people with the help of a standard psychological test that probes conflict in the brain. As a professional magician who became a scientist to understand better the slippery nature of attention, Dr. Raz said that he ”wanted to do something really impressive” that other neuroscientists could not ignore.

The probe, called the Stroop test, presents words in block letters in the colors red, blue, green and yellow. The subject has to press a button identifying the color of the letters. The difficulty is that sometimes the word RED is colored green. Or the word YELLOW is colored blue.

For people who are literate, reading is so deeply ingrained that it invariably takes them a little bit longer to override the automatic reading of a word like RED and press a button that says green. This is called the Stroop effect.

Sixteen people, half highly hypnotizable and half resistant, went into Dr. Raz’s lab after having been covertly tested for hypnotizability. The purpose of the study, they were told, was to investigate the effects of suggestion on cognitive performance. After each person underwent a hypnotic induction, Dr. Raz said:

”Very soon you will be playing a computer game inside a brain scanner. Every time you hear my voice over the intercom, you will immediately realize that meaningless symbols are going to appear in the middle of the screen. They will feel like characters in a foreign language that you do not know, and you will not attempt to attribute any meaning to them.

”This gibberish will be printed in one of four ink colors: red, blue, green or yellow. Although you will only attend to color, you will see all the scrambled signs crisply. Your job is to quickly and accurately depress the key that corresponds to the color shown. You can play this game effortlessly. As soon as the scanning noise stops, you will relax back to your regular reading self.”

Dr. Raz then ended the hypnosis session, leaving each person with what is called a posthypnotic suggestion, an instruction to carry out an action while not hypnotized.

Days later, the subjects entered the brain scanner.

In highly hypnotizables, when Dr. Raz’s instructions came over the intercom, the Stroop effect was obliterated, hesaid. The subjects saw English words as gibberish and named colors instantly. But for those who were resistant to hypnosis, the Stroop effect prevailed, rendering them significantly slower in naming the colors.

When the brain scans of the two groups were compared, a distinct pattern appeared. Among the hypnotizables, Dr. Raz said, the visual area of the brain that usually decodes written words did not become active. And a region in the front of the brain that usually detects conflict was similarly dampened.

Top-down processes overrode brain circuits devoted to reading and detecting conflict, Dr. Raz said, although he did not know exactly how that happened. Those results appeared in July in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A number of other recent studies of brain imaging point to similar top-down brain mechanisms under the influence of suggestion. Highly hypnotizable people were able to ”drain” color from a colorful abstract drawing or ”add” color to the same drawing rendered in gray tones. In each case, the parts of their brains involved in color perception were differently activated.

Brain scans show that the control mechanisms for deciding what to do in the face of conflict become uncoupled when people are hypnotized. Top-down processes override sensory, or bottom-up information, said Dr. Stephen M. Kosslyn, a neuroscientist at Harvard. People think that sights, sounds and touch from the outside world constitute reality. But the brain constructs what it perceives based on past experience, Dr. Kosslyn said.

Most of the time bottom-up information matches top-down expectation, Dr. Spiegel said. But hypnosis is interesting because it creates a mismatch. ”We imagine something different, so it is different,” he said.

Photos: SEEING RED — Dr. Amir Raz, rear, and Miguel Moeno with hypnosis test. Right, Bernard C. Gindes and his hypnosis machine in 1967. (Photo by Ralph Crane/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images); (Photo by Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times)(pg. F4)

Drawing (Drawing by William Duke)(pg. F1)

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company | Privacy Policy | Home | Search | Corrections | Help | Back to Top

Brain science in this case is really only confirming what most of us already knew what was going on in health and medicine, of course. The power of mind over body has been debated for years, both as the placebo effect (which has survived a front page article by Gina Kolata announcing it didn’t exist a few years ago, according to a Danish metastudy “Placebo Effect Is More Myth Than Science, Study Says,May 24,2001

NYTimes

NATIONAL DESK

Placebo Effect Is More Myth Than Science, Study Says

By GINA KOLATA (NYT) 1300 words

Published: May 24, 2001

In a new report that is being met with a mixture of astonishment and sometimes disbelief, two Danish researchers say the placebo effect is a myth.

The investigators analyzed 114 published studies involving about 7,500 patients with 40 different conditions. The report found no support for the common notion that, in general, about a third of patients will improve if they are given a dummy pill and told it is real.

Instead, the researchers theorize, patients seem to improve after taking placebos because most diseases have uneven courses in which their severity waxes and wanes. In studies in which treatments are compared not just with placebos but also with no treatment at all, they said, participants given no treatment improve at about the same rate as participants given placebos.

The paper appears today in The New England Journal of Medicine. Both authors, Dr. Asbjorn Hrobjartsson and Dr. Peter C. Gotzsche, are with the University of Copenhagen and the Nordic Cochran Center, an international organization of medical researchers who review randomized clinical trials.

Dr. Hrobjartsson said he had been telling other investigators what he found and watching their responses.

”People react with surprise, but also with a kind of satisfaction,” he said in a telephone interview. ”They start reflecting.”

Experts interviewed this week had a range of responses from ready acceptance of the conclusion to great surprise to a skepticism and the desire to see the details of the analysis.

Dr. Donald Berry, for example, a statistician at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said: ”I believe it. In fact, I have long believed that the placebo effect is nothing more than a regression effect,” referring to a well-known statistical observation that a patient who feels particularly terrible one day will almost invariably feel better the next day, no matter what is done for him.

Another physician, Dr. Jonathan Moreno, director of the Center for the Biomedical Ethics at the University of Virginia, said it rang true to him. ”Maybe it is one of the urban legends of medicine,” he said.

But others, like David Freedman, a statistician at the University of California, said he was not convinced. Professor Freedman said the statistical method the Danish researchers used, pooling data from many studies and using a statistical tool called metanalysis to examine them, could give misleading results.

”I just don’t find this report to be incredibly persuasive,” he said. ”The evidence of a placebo effect is maybe a little bit less than I thought it was, but I think there’s a big effect in many circumstances. This doesn’t change my mind.”

The researchers said they saw a slight effect of placebos on subjective outcomes reported by patients, like their descriptions of how much pain they experienced. But, Dr. Hrobjartsson said, he questions that effect.

”It could be a true effect, but it also could be a reporting bias,” he said. ”The patient wants to please the investigator and tells the investigator, ‘I feel slightly better.’ ”

Placebos are still needed in clinical research, Dr. Hrobjartsson said, to prevent researchers from knowing who is getting a real treatment. Otherwise, he said, researchers can end up seeing what they want to see. For example, they may notice changes in patients who are taking an active drug while not paying as much attention to similar symptoms in patients that they know are being left untreated. Patients, he said, who are told they are not being treated may leave the study, further complicating research efforts.

Dr. Hrobjartsson and Dr. Gotzsche said they began their study out of curiosity. Over and over, medical journals and textbooks asserted that placebo effects were so powerful that, on average, 35 percent of patients would improve simply if they were told that a dummy treatment was real. The investigators began asking where this assessment came from. Every paper, Dr. Hrobjartsson said, seemed to refer to other papers. And those papers referred him to other papers. He began peeling back the onion, finally coming to the original paper. It was written by a Boston doctor, Henry Beecher, who had been chief of anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and in 1955 published a paper, ”The Powerful Placebo” in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

In his paper, Dr. Beecher, who died in 1976, reviewed about a dozen studies that compared placebos with active treatments and concluded that placebos had medical effects.

”He came up with the magical 35 percent number that has entered placebo mythology,” Dr. Hrobjartsson said.

But, Dr. Hrobjartsson said, diseases naturally wax and wane. And no matter how sick the person is, a truly bad spell will almost inevitably be followed by a period in which the condition seems to improve. What if the natural variation in a disease’s course is behind the placebo effect, they asked?

”Of the many articles I looked through, no article distinguished between a placebo effect and the natural course of a disease,” Dr. Hrobjartsson said. ”This is a very banal error to make, but sometimes banal errors are made.”

He and Dr. Gotzsche began looking for well-conducted studies that divided patients into three groups, giving one a real medical treatment, one a placebo and one nothing at all. That was the only way, they reasoned, to decide whether placebos had any medical effect.

But they worried that there might be so few such studies with a treated, untreated and placebo group that they would never be able to answer the question. ”We thought if we could find 20, that would be a huge success,” Dr. Hrobjartsson said.

To their surprise, they found 114, published between 1946 and 1998. The conditions included medical disorders, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and asthma; behavioral disorders and addictions, like alcohol abuse and smoking; neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy, and infections, like bacterial infections and the common cold.

When they analyzed the data, they could detect no effects of placebos on objective measurements, like cholesterol levels or blood pressure.

Dr. John C. Bailar III, an emeritus professor at the University of Chicago who wrote an editorial accompanying the placebo paper, said the findings called into question some mind-body beliefs. These are arguments that use the placebo effect to conclude that the mind can so profoundly affect the course of a disease that people should be able to harness this power and think themselves well.

The findings should also give doctors pause in prescribing treatments they know are useless, like a glass of warm milk at bedtime for patients with insomnia or futile drugs for patients in the late stages of fatal diseases, Dr. Bailar said.

”I think what this ought to do is bring about a very sharp reduction in the use of placebos,” he said. ”My guess is that it will bring about a modest reduction and that it will take a second or third penetrating paper to bring about a real change.”

But, Dr. Bailar said, he understands the reluctance many will feel to abandon their belief in placebos. He, too, is hesitant to wrench himself completely away from what he now thinks is largely a myth.

”I’m not ready to give up on placebos entirely,” Dr. Bailar said. ”I hope there will be a lot more research on how they work.”

Or, he said, ”if they work.”

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

) and in patient responses to all kinds of ailments and cures. Here, for example, is a recent Times article on possibly curing skin problems with the power of the mind.

New York Times

SKIN DEEP; If You Think It, It Will Clear

By NATASHA SINGER (NYT) 1612 words

Published: July 28, 2005

STRESS may be inflaming your pimples. And hypnosis may help clear them up. Or deep breathing exercises. Or maybe imagining yourself lying on a beach in Aruba.

At least that’s the idea behind an emerging medical specialty that explores the interaction between the mind and the skin. Its practitioners believe that for some patients, stress may play a role in skin conditions from acne to psoriasis, rosacea, warts, eczema, blushing and hives.

These doctors, who identify themselves as psychodermatologists – ”derm shrinks” or ”skin shrinks” for short – concentrate less on medicating the skin and more on getting at the psychological components of what ails it. They do not ignore traditional medicine. But they add treatments like psychotherapy, meditation, relaxation, hypnosis, acupuncture, yoga, tai chi and even anti-anxiety drugs.

These strategies, psychodermatologists say, have the potential to help the tens of millions of Americans who suffer from chronic skin ailments. And many patients, frustrated by skin conditions that seem resistant to traditional medicine, are apparently willing to give them a try.

Mary O’Leary is one who has. A surgical nurse in Boston, Ms. O’Leary had so many plantar warts on one foot, it was painful for her to stand all day in the operating room. Her dermatologist prescribed antiviral creams, but nothing helped until she met Ted A. Grossbart, an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School who specializes in skin problems.

”I spent months learning self-hypnosis,” Ms. O’Leary said. She visualized her immune cells fighting off the virus and imagined healthy skin replacing the warts. ”It’s bizarre and amazing, but it worked.”

Some doctors are skeptical of treatments based on stress relief. Larry E. Millikan, chairman of the dermatology department at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, likened some psychodermatology methods to the wart-treating strategies Tom Sawyer recommended to Huckleberry Finn: burying a dead cat at midnight or sticking one’s hand in a wet, rotten tree stump while chanting ”spunk-water, spunk-water, swaller these warts!”

”The proven benefit for skin problems comes from traditional dermatology,” Dr. Millikan said. ”That will remain true until we have hard science showing the effects of meditation and acupuncture on skin.”

But psychodermatologists say the anecdotal evidence is enough to convince them that their approach is worthwhile.

”We all have patients whose hives, pimples and eczema get worse when their personal lives or work situations get complicated,” said Dr. Richard G. Fried, a dermatologist and psychologist in Yardley, Pa., whose staff includes an acupuncturist and a biofeedback therapist. ”But dermatologists have customarily ignored the root causes and just treated the visible symptoms.”

Joe Duke, a purchasing manager in Philadelphia, is one of Dr. Fried’s patients. ”Two to three hours after a stressful situation,” Mr. Duke said, ”I used to get a psoriasis flare-up with 20 to 30 lesions across my chest, arms and legs. You look like a leper.”

He had spent decades trying ultraviolet light treatments, prescription ointments and creams, antibiotics and even methotrexate, a drug that suppresses the immune system. Some of these worked temporarily, while others had worrisome side effects. So Dr. Fried suggested that Mr. Duke try biofeedback, which teaches patients to reduce tension by practicing deep breathing and muscle relaxation, and by imagining themselves in idyllic landscapes.

”I started biofeedback about 18 months ago, and last summer I even wore shorts for the first time in years,” Mr. Duke said. ”For me personally, biofeedback has been like anger management for my skin.” The result, he said, has been fewer breakouts and less reliance on prescription creams.

The number of skin specialists who combine physical and psychological treatments appears to be rising. The Association for Psychocutaneous Medicine of North America, which includes physicians and psychologists, has grown to more than 40 members from 12 in 1991. Some of these practitioners treat depressed patients with disfiguring skin conditions or psychiatric patients who harm their own skin. But most also treat common skin ailments.

David Colbert, a dermatologist in New York, employs an acupuncturist to work with some of his rosacea and psoriasis patients. And Philip D. Shenefelt, a dermatologist in Tampa, Fla., often uses hypnosis to treat itching or hives.

A few medical school dermatology programs also have begun to provide stress-relief treatments. St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York has a Psychocutaneous Medicine Unit where dermatologists and psychologists often treat patients in tandem. And later this year the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the University of Rochester Medical Center plan to open psychodermatology clinics where doctors may recommend that patients try hypnosis or stress-reduction techniques.

Dr. Grossbart of Harvard, who has been treating skin complaints with psychotherapy for 25 years, said he was pleased that dermatologists were learning psychological techniques. ”If a dermatologist allots only 12 minutes to see each patient,” he said, ”that doesn’t leave time to address underlying emotional issues.”

Several recent studies have shown how stress can impair the skin. In 2001 scientists at Weill Medical College of Cornell University subjected 25 volunteers to a fake job interview and 11 others to a sleepless night. They then gave the volunteers microscopic wounds by peeling off a small, thin patch of skin with tape. All the subjects’ skin took longer than usual to repair itself.

A similar 2001 study, done at the University of California, San Francisco, looked at 27 graduate students during exam time and again during spring break. While the students were studying for and presumably worrying about tests, their skin was slower to repair itself than it was during vacation.

There is less evidence to suggest that the opposite premise may be true: that reducing stress via hypnosis or meditation may heal the skin. But there is some. In 1998 a study of psoriasis patients at the University of Massachusetts found that those who listened to meditation tapes while receiving ultraviolet light treatments healed much faster than patients who did not use the tapes. And a 1999 study at Johns Hopkins found that psoriasis patients who were susceptible to hypnosis treatments improved more than patients who resisted hypnosis.

The biological mechanisms by which these remedies may work are unknown. It is possible that relaxation simply improves people’s outlook and causes them to eat healthier food, sleep better and get more exercise, and that those changes affect their skin. This uncertainty makes some doctors leery of mind-body treatments.

Mark Lebwohl, chairman of the dermatology department at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said that against his better judgment, he agreed to refer a psoriasis patient, Dennis Foglia of Queens, to a psychologist for hypnosis. The therapist tried hypnosis and asked Mr. Foglia to visualize the rash leaving his body.

”I wouldn’t tell other patients not to try it,” said Mr. Foglia, a retired police officer, ”but I can say hypnosis did not impact my psoriasis at all.”

Richard D. Granstein, chairman of dermatology at Weill Medical College, questioned whether stress-relieving treatments could get rid of anyone’s pimples. ”We can’t be absolutely certain until we can prove that these therapies directly alter a patient’s skin,” Dr. Granstein said. ”It can’t hurt your pimples to take up yoga or tai chi, as long as you’re still using your acne creams.”

Seeking Relief? Just Inhale

BEAUTY products designed to heal the skin by calming the mind represent a small but growing trend. ”The best of the new antistress products marry aromatherapy, which works on your emotions through smell, with high-tech skin care,” said Jenny B. Fine, editor of the cosmetics trade magazine WWD Beauty Biz. To test the products’ claims, Diane Madfes, a New York dermatologist, examined the ingredient lists on a sampling of mind-body beauty items.

Origins Peace of Mind Cease and De-stress Diffuser, $12.50, www.origins.com.

One whiff of the peppermint and eucalyptus in this pocket-size aromatic tube is supposed to relax you in an instant. Some scientific evidence does back up the assumption that peppermint has a calming effect, Dr. Madfes said. ”I think taking a deep breath of this makes you stop for a moment, slow down and de-stress,” she said.

Cellcosmet Anti-Stress Cream Mask, $85, www.zitomer.com.

This moisturizing mask with plant extracts promises to detoxify and soften skin. ”Just the act of applying a face mask should relax you,” she said. ”The orange flower and rosewater in this mask should be calming and nonirritating, while the clay would exfoliate dry skin for a fresher appearance.”

Estée Lauder Stress Relief Eye Mask, $29.50, www.esteelauder.com.

”The aloe and cucumber in these eye pads are great natural anti-inflammatories that will calm skin, and the retinol should help restore collagen production,” Dr. Madfes said. ”The hydrating effect will make the skin look better, and just by putting pads on your face, you’ll be shutting your eyes and getting a few minutes of relaxation.”

Molton Brown Seamoss Stress Relieving Hydrosoak, $29, www.moltonbrown.co.uk.

”Anybody who makes time to have a bath is going to get stress relief,” Dr. Madfes said. ”The seaweed extracts are both anti-inflammatory and good hydrators, while the Dead Sea salt is a great exfoliator.”

Skyn Iceland Anti-Stress Oral Spray With Angelica Archangelica, $25, www.skyniceland.com.

”If you stop, take a deep breath and spray this in your mouth, it’s very cooling and calming,” Dr. Madfes said. Green tea, an antioxidant, may help reduce damage from sun, stress and pollution.

Photos: ESTÉE LAUDER; CELLCOSMET; SKYN ICELAND; ORIGINS; MOLTON BROWN

Drawing (Drawing by Dynamic Duo Studio)

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

So why is the obvious truth that it applies in politics, demonstrated by Goebbels, the Reverend Jones in Guatemala and all kinds of misleaders of humanity in the past century, so completely overlooked by critics in the scientific debate in AIDS?

Perhaps it is simply too ad hominem to mention as the likely answer to the big question that jumps to mind when anyone hears for the first time about the HIV?AIDS paradigm challenge: why and how can a global consensus in science be so wrong?

POSTSCRIPT: Here are the letters in the Times which followed the article, which show that readers got the point:

Making Our Own Reality

To the Editor:

Re “This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis” (Nov. 22): The discovery of top-down brain processing is the biological confirmation of a philosophical truism: we make our own reality. It also helps explain the power of political indoctrination, and the power of hope.

Goebbels knew it; so did John Lennon. The ideas that non-Aryan people are subhuman, or that world peace is attainable are equally absurd, but I would prefer to believe the latter.

As the writer Kurt Vonnegut observed, we are what we pretend to be, so we might as well pretend to be good.

John Grannis

Montclair, N.J.

•

To the Editor:

Re “This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis”: The first thing that came to mind when I read that some people are susceptible to suggestion is the trance some religious fundamentalists get into. The article goes on to say that suggestion changes what people see, hear, feel and believe to be true.

That would explain the apparent contradiction in our most recent presidential election, where logic seemed to be turned on its head.

Was that 10 to 15 percent who could have been in a hypnotic trance enough to turn around an election and in essence undermine (undermind) the democratic process?

Mark Gretch

Raleigh, N.C.

•

To the Editor:

Re “This Is Your Brain”: The first thing that came to mind when I read that some people are susceptible to suggestion is the trance some religious fundamentalists get into.

The article goes on to say that suggestion changes what people see, hear, feel and believe to be true. That would explain the apparent contradiction in our most recent presidential election, where logic seemed to be turned on its head.

Was that 10 to 15 percent who could have been in a hypnotic trance enough to turn around an election and in essence undermine (undermind) the democratic process?

Mark Gretch

Raleigh, N.C.

ALERT – Vitamin A is probably simple antidote to bird flu, mainstream literature shows

November 20th, 2005

You read it here first – hold those billions, Vitamin A blocks bird flu lung devastation

All the panic over H5N1 seems a little overblown when you consider that the virus has been around for eight years at least without morphing into a deadly human version that can sweep the globe from human to human. The very same H5N1 was the cause of the “Avian flu” outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997.

But just to reduce the hysteria a few more notches, we have decided to relent on our decision (at the end of the previous post) to be kind to the drug companies, officious officials, army of doomsayers and worryworts, posturing politicians, and all the other people whose interests mesh smoothly with maximum flu alarm, and announce with a trumpet fanfare the final solution to bird flu.

We at New AIDS Review thus proudly note today (Sun Nov 20), apparently for the first time in any form of media outside the medical literature, the references that tell what the ultimate solution to bird flu surely is: a modest dose of Vitamin A to anyone who contracts it.

You read right. The $7.2 billion question is this: why spend billions upon billions on massive and uncertain preventive measures such as

a) executing the few chickens owned by poor Asian families who may depend on them for survival

b) the unlikely effort to prevent H5N1 spreading among domestic fowl by vaccinating 5.1 billion birds in China and billions elsewhere in Asia (the Chinese eat 14 billion chickens a year, so even if a gigantic army of vaccinators is successfully recruited and swings into action, they will have to keep at it forever, as if they were repainting a hundred Golden Gate bridges annually),

c) stockpiling enough vaccine for humans which if it can be done will take months and may be evaded anyway by the evolving virus, and

d) distributing enough antivirals like Tamiflu to sink a ship when there is some question as to whether they will be effective against this virus (according to the British Medical Journal current issue 2005;331;1266 ‘How the Media Caught Tamiflu’)

when, according to the mainstream medical literature lying under the noses of the pontificating pundits and overly political scientists such as Anthony Fauci and the CDC brass who are on every TV channel this morning chinking their medals and repeating what the media have been hearing for months, the simple solution to H5N1 is this: give anyone who contracts deadly bird flu a dose of Vitamin A.

This will do the trick because Vitamin A reliably blocks the pathway of creation of deadly Tumor Necrosis factor in the lungs, which is the aspect of bird flu which is so deadly.

That is what the referenced papers say which we list below, which are readily available to any of these heroes of health for their bedtime reading.

Government without time to read

Why this grand army of well paid advisors, experts, commentators, WHO statisticians, field workers, corporate chieftains, Presidential advisors, think tank wonks, fast-talking current affairs hosts, and other luminaries have somehow overlooked them in their rush to judgement we hesitate to imagine.

Could it be that, in this age of information deluge, opinion making of every kind in the hottest issues of the day has now become completely divorced from factual information if that data is buried in any form of publication other than newspaper headlines and book reviews?

If so, it bodes ill for the future. Certainly there are already two huge signs that this is now true: Katrina and Iraq. In both cases, extensive written advisories were completely ignored.

As we all know, there were plenty of warnings in the form of levee engineering reports that a strong hurricane would flood New Orleans out of existence, written years before Katrina struck. So many, in fact, that even the leisurely PBS had time to send a documentary crew down there to make the same point some years ago.

In the case of Iraq, a report of thousands of pages of what to do with the country once the war was won was prepared by the State Department, in consultation with all kinds of experts and exiled Iraqis, for the Bush administration in advance of the invasion.

According to the New Yorker, it was filed in the White House waste basket.

The Avian flu-TNF-Vitamin A paper trail

Here are the references on Vitamin A and what they say, courtesy of library research by Robert Houston, long time medical investigator and nutrition researcher in New York City, who has lectured at the New School and frequently advises reporters on health and medical topics. He now writes to us:

Can Vitamin A Tame Bird Flu?

NewAIDSreview.com scoops the world’s media by being the first to reveal that recent scientific studies point to vitamin A as a potential remedy for bird flu.

It should be noted however that the normal requirement of vitamin A is only 5000 units per day (1.5 mg), and that the therapeutic levels range from 25,000 to 100,000 units (about 7 – 28 mg).

Unlike vitamin C, it cannot be taken in gram amounts; in fact, severe toxicity has occurred at 300 mg (1 million units). Other nutrients, such as the omega-3 fatty acids of fish oil, can also help to reduce TNF overproduction.

(see Grimble, R. et al. The ability of fish oil to suppress tumor necrosis factor-a production… Am J Clin Nutr 76:454-9, 2002.)

At these tiny amounts it should be possible to defend every person on earth from avian flu for a fraction of the cost of Tamiflu. There is already a system in place for distributing Vitamin A to children in seventy countries.

Here is the paper trail that Houston followed that shows fairly conclusively that a little Vitamin A will tame Avian Flu:

How we know that Vitamin A tames Avian Flu:

1. A report in 1996 stated that vitamin A counteracts TNF in the joints in the case of arthritis caused by Lyme disease, a finding which has been ignored by the Lyme disease establishment.

(Cantorna, M. and Hayes, E. Vitamin A deficiency exacerbates murine Lyme arthritis. J Infec Dis 174:747-51, 1996.)

2. Then it was shown in 2000 that vitamin A deficiency can result in injury to the lungs.

(Baybutt, R. et al. Vitamin A defiency injures lung and liver parenchyma and impairs function of rat type II pneumocytes. J Nutr 130(5):1159-65, 2000.)

3. Then two studies found that vitamin A protects the lungs from damaging effects of TNF.

(Besnard, V. et al. Protective role of retinoic acid from antiproliferative action of TNF-a on lung epithelial cells. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 2822: L863-L871, 2002. First pub Dec 7 2001)

(Am J Physiol Lung Cel Mol Physiol 282: L863-71, 2002; Torii, A. et al. Vitamin A reduces lung granulomatous inflammation… Eur J Pharmacol 497 335-342, 2004.)

4. The fact that H5N1 flu targets the lungs and that TNF collects there was established in July also. The paper showed that avian flu occurs primarily in the lungs.

Bangkok investigators wrote that “We investigated a patient with fatal H5N1 influenza. Viral RNA was detected by PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) in lung, intestine, and spleen tiossue, but positive stranded viral RNA indicating viral replication was confined to the lung and intestine. Tumor necrosis factor was seen in lung tissue…In contrast to disseminated infection documented in other mammals and birds, H5N1 viral replication in humans may be restriucted to the lung and intestine, an the major site of H5N1 viral replication in the lung is the pneumoctye.

(Influenza A replication sites in human sites in humans. Uiprasertkul M, etc al. Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand. Emerg Infect Dis 2005 Jul 11 (7):1036-41.)

5. A study from the National Health Research Institute in Taipei at the same time reported that vitamin A (retinoic acid) suppresses TNF production and does so by blocking the same signalling pathway (p38 kinase) which bird flu activates.

(Ho, L. et al. Retinoic acid blocks pro-inflammatory cytokine-induced matrix metalloproteinase production… Biochemical Pharmacology 70:200-208, July 15, 2005.)

6. The key breakthrough was published two months ago in August, confirming why the avian flu virus H5N1 is more deadly than other flu viruses. Scientists at the University of Hong Kong studied the H5N1 flu which broke out in Hoing King in 1997 and found that it hyperinduces tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in the body’s immune cells, causing severe autoimmune damage in the lungs where the virus localizes.

They say they hope that “these results may provide insights into the pathogensis of H5N1 disease and rationales for the development of novel therapeutic strategies.”

(Lee, D.C. et al. Hyperinduction of tumor necrosis factor alpha expression in response to avian influenza virus H5N1. J Virol 79(16):10147-54, Aug. 2005. The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital,Pokfulam, Hong Kong Special Administratiuve Region, People’s Republic of China.)

As the last paper suggests, this knowledge about the modus operandi of Avian Flu can be used for the “development of novel therapeutic strategies”.

Our “novel strategy” is to ramp up Vitamin A production to straospheric levels and make sure there is enough for every man, woman and child on the planet. Since that would cost less than a few cents each, we reckon, it would save all of $10 billion right there in WHO salaries, Tamiflu patent royalties, Anthony Fauci television appearances, and all the other costs that modern health defenses are now saddled with.

But why haven’t Anthony Fauci and his cohorts at the NIH and CDC, not to mention the WHO, come up with this themselves? Why do they need an obscure onlooker to point it out to them?

It’s their job, after all, to protect us from this gigantic threat which they are saying may ruin the world. The ever authoritative Dr Fauci was saying on TV last night that, even if the virus never appears in lethal form, a vast effort to defend against it will be well worth the billions we can shovel at it. Shouldn’t Dr Fauci read the medical literature in between his many sessions under the TV lights repeating the same smug alarms?

One possibility as to why the medical authorities don’t know all this from reading their own literature, at bedtime if necessary, emerges from this sequence. It does help to be a nutrition expert who has researched Lyme disease, which is a relatively neglected and somewhat disputed area.

But then, so is nutrition a relatively neglected area, medically speaking, it seems to us. As a cause and cure of ailments, it is surely much more relevant than is suspected by many doctors in our commercial, drug-oriented system.

But of course, the unpatentable Vitamin A is no path to profits for the maker of Tamiflu, Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, a leader in an industry where profits are not as easy to come by these days.

Having the right drug in hand for a superbug can rescue the situation very rapidly for a drug company in hard times, as the case of Viropharma shows. Crucial Antibiotic Rescues Biotech Maker’s Finances

On the other hand, as the case of Viropharma also shows, meddling with Mother Nature by dosing her with an ever increasing array of drugs can lead to unintended side effects which make it ever more important to consider the more natural alternative of nutrient supplements. Apparently in this case it is drugs that beget the need for yet another drug:


C. difficile disease occurs when antibiotics used to treat a different infection wipe out the beneficial bacteria that normally reside in the colon. That leaves an opening for C. difficile, which is resistant to most antibiotics. The bacteria form spores that can persist for months on surfaces like toilets and can be transferred to patients from the hands of health care workers or visitors.

Is it too much to ask that Dr Fauci and his battalions of scientists and health workers take up our suggestion and research the saner route of a safe nutritional alternative in dealing with what they present as the global health threat of all time?

And while they are at it, perhaps they might apply the same revisionist thinking to AIDS, which according to the mainstream scientific literature they are also ignoring is the highest mountain of theoretical scientific and medical garbage that has ever accumulated.

The New York Times

November 9, 2005

Crucial Antibiotic Rescues Biotech Maker’s Finances

By ANDREW POLLACK

Roche, whose drug Tamiflu is in great demand as a preparation for a possible influenza pandemic, is not the only company reaping a financial windfall from a treatment for a contagious disease. And in this case, the health threat is not merely a potential one.

ViroPharma, a formerly struggling biotechnology company, sells Vancocin, the only drug approved to treat Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that already kills thousands of people a year in this country and is apparently becoming more common and more deadly.

The life-saving drug has turned out to be a financial lifesaver for ViroPharma which, almost by serendipity, acquired the American rights to Vancocin last November. Since then, in response to rising demand, the company has increased the price of the drug – its only product – three times by a total of 80 percent, to about $800 for a course of treatment.

With Vancocin sales expected to more than double this year to $120 million, ViroPharma, based in Exton, Pa., is profitable for the first time in its 11-year history. Its stock price is up 14-fold since reaching a 52-week low in April. On Monday, it rose nearly 15 percent, after the company announced higher-than-expected third-quarter profit and raised its estimate for sales of Vancocin this year, then it declined 91 cents yesterday, to $23.19.

But some doctors say the price increases are exploiting growing fears of the bacterium, while placing a burden on patients and those who take care of them. “It’s absolutely outrageous,” Dr. Daniel M. Musher, an infectious-disease specialist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, said of the price increases.

ViroPharma executives, as well as some other doctors and Wall Street analysts, defend the price as still relatively low compared with some other antibiotics like Azactam from Elan and Zyvox from Pfizer that are used to treat other infections. Those drugs can cost $1,000 to $2,000 for a course of treatment. They note, too, that ViroPharma has started a program to provide the drug free to those who cannot afford it.

And the company says that after losing money for years, it needs its profits from Vancocin to expand production of the drug and continue developing other potentially promising treatments for other diseases.

Vancocin’s target bacterium, known in scientists’ shorthand as C. difficile, causes severe diarrhea and a type of colitis, mainly in elderly hospitalized patients. According to one estimate, there are about 400,000 cases and about 5,000 deaths a year in the United States.

But comprehensive statistics are not available, and there is now some evidence that the incidence of infections has doubled since 2000 and that some cases are occurring outside hospitals.

Moreover, several hospitals have had outbreaks of a supervirulent strain that produces about 20 times as much colon-damaging toxin as typical strains. The toxic strain has been found so far in 14 states, as well as in Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium.

“This is another superbug,” said Dr. L. Clifford McDonald, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the annual conference in April of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, a session on C. difficile was entitled Apocalypse Next.

An outbreak of the virulent strain in Quebec province has killed hundreds of people since 2003, with one expert estimating the toll as high as 2,000. An outbreak in 2000 led to 44 colectomies, the removal of part of the colon, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and 20 deaths.

At Somerset Medical Center in New Jersey, nearly 10 percent of deaths last year were in patients infected with C. difficile, double the rate of the previous two years, according to a poster presented at a meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America last month in San Francisco.

C. difficile disease occurs when antibiotics used to treat a different infection wipe out the beneficial bacteria that normally reside in the colon. That leaves an opening for C. difficile, which is resistant to most antibiotics. The bacteria form spores that can persist for months on surfaces like toilets and can be transferred to patients from the hands of health care workers or visitors.

Vancocin is an oral form of a powerful antibiotic, vancomycin, which is usually given intravenously. Low-cost generic versions of the intravenous drug are available, but reaching C. difficile in the colon is best done through oral medication.

While Vancocin is the only drug formally approved for C. difficile, most doctors first try off-label use of a generic antibiotic, metronidazole, which costs $10 to $80 for a course of treatment. Two studies published this year suggest that metronidazole is effective 70 to 80 percent of the time. While there is no head-to-head study showing Vancocin to be better, many doctors are starting to use it first, especially in severe cases.

That trend has helped ViroPharma, which is sponsoring seminars for physicians about C. difficile. “Vancocin is the treatment for your mother,” Dr. Colin Broom, ViroPharma’s chief scientific officer, said in an interview. “Metronidazole is the treatment for your mother-in- law.”

Dr. Broom was echoing a long-running joke in the field. But in a recent medical journal commentary asking, “Is it O.K. for Mom?” Dr. Dale N. Gerding, of the Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital and Loyola University medical school in Chicago, wrote that in most cases metronidazole still is effective – although patients should be monitored closely for signs that the drug is not working.

At its founding in 1994, ViroPharma set out to find a cure for the common cold, or at least a drug that would directly fight the cold virus rather than merely treat symptoms. But in 2002, the Food and Drug Administration rejected its drug, pleconaril, over safety questions. In the next two years, ViroPharma shrank to 35 employees from 435 .

With cash running low last year, the company began to look for a drug it could acquire to generate revenue. The investment bank Piper Jaffray had just had a deal fall through with a small biotechnology company to buy Vancocin from the drug’s developer, Eli Lilly, which has been de-emphasizing antibiotics. So Piper approached ViroPharma.

“We had never heard of the product,” said Michel de Rosen, ViroPharma’s chief executive. “We had never heard of C. diff.”

But ViroPharma noticed that prescriptions were growing and learned of the new superstrain of the bug. So last November, ViroPharma paid $116 million – double the company’s market value at the time – for the United States rights to Vancocin, borrowing about half the money needed. (Lilly still sells the drug outside the United States.)

ViroPharma executives say the drug’s success has surprised them. “We did not expect the change in medical need would be so rapid,” Mr. de Rosen said.

United States sales of Vancocin rose from $28 million in 2002 to $40 million in 2003 and $54 million last year, according to executives. The company said on Monday that it expected sales this year to surpass $120 million. ViroPharma’s stock market value is now about $1.3 billion.

The company raised prices for the drug by about 17 percent in December, an additional 26 percent in March and 22 percent more in August. Mr. de Rosen defended those moves, saying Lilly had not increased the price for 17 years. And even at the new price, he said, Vancocin saves money for the health care system by shortening hospital stays.

Dr. Neil O. Fishman, director of health care epidemiology and infection control at the University of Pennsylvania Health System and a consultant for the company, said that because Vancocin was a life-saving drug, “the price becomes nominal” – especially, he said, compared with cancer drugs that cost tens of thousands of dollars and might prolong lives by only a few months.

Wall Street analysts have reacted positively to the price increases. Thomas Wei of Piper Jaffray wrote in a note to investors in September that because Vancocin still cost less than comparable drugs for other life-threatening infections, prices could rise as much as 65 percent further. He predicted that the price would reach $1,000 by 2007.

“Given the lack of alternatives for the treatment of severe or complicated C. difficile associated diarrhea,” his note said, “there is the potential that there could be further upside to our new assumptions.”

In a survey of 44 doctors conducted in September by Lazard, more than two-thirds said the price increases would not cause them to reduce the use of Vancocin and nearly half said they expected to increase their use in the next 12 months.

But some doctors say their hospitals avoid paying for Vancocin by having patients swallow a generic intravenous form of vancomycin. While its unpleasant taste can cause nausea, some doctors say the two forms of the drug are essentially the same.

Dr. August J. Valenti, director of epidemiology and infection prevention at the Maine Medical Center, said this method saves $600 a treatment. His hospital took infection control measures after the number of cases of C. difficile began rising in 2002. “We were beginning to see far more relapses, and relapses after relapses,” Dr. Valenti said.

New drugs aimed at C. difficile, as well as a vaccine, are now in development by various companies, and some experts say they are needed. Genzyme is in the final phase of clinical trials of tolevamer, which works by binding and immobilizing the toxins produced by the bacteria. Because tolevamer is not an antibiotic, Genzyme hopes it will reduce relapses. Others developing drugs include ActivBiotics, Oscient Pharmaceuticals, Romark Laboratories, the team of Optimer Pharmaceuticals and Par Pharmaceutical, and the team of Medarex and the nonprofit Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories. Acambis is working on a vaccine.

Henri A. Termeer, Genyzme’s chief executive, said Vancocin’s price had risen because ViroPharma “looked at it as a single opportunity and they are utilizing it in that sense.” But he predicted that once competition arrived, the “tremendous pricing flexibility” that ViroPharma has had “may not be sustainable over time.”

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

CFR runs all day session on Bird Flu, but ignores evident cure

November 16th, 2005

The Council of Foreign Relations ran a comprehensive update discussion of Avian Flu today (Wed Nov 16), filled with experts on the panels and in the audience in both NYC and in Washington.

Apart from showing that not much has changed since the global panic took hold a month ago, the event was chiefly of interest for the tone of voice and manner in which the review was conducted. That is to say, unhurried and confident, in the inimitable Council style. The topic may be the possibility of the death and illness of millions, and any solutions remote, but voices at the Council are untroubled, manners gracious, and phrasing formal, with no more stress than discussing the budget. Every male visible is wearing a dark suit.

This is typical Council stuff, a pow wow among the highly placed who have time to worry about world problems, one may feel, because their personal concerns are well taken care of. These guys live in offices on the national and international level where millions are small change, and their discussion of what has to be done seems to involve no doubt that anything necessary can be paid for. At times there seems an odd disconnect with the world of Asian poultry breeders whose household income depends on a few chickens. But here the rich are discussing how to save the whole world.

We took a few notes, hoping for major revelations, but if they came, we missed them as our attention wandered during the day. Already by 11 am it seemed clear that, if Tamiflu is ineffective against whatever form it takes, there is really no front line of effective defense against H5N1 once it has evolved into a 1918-type human flu virus, and that society will implode if this ever happens.

For the record, here are the notes:

At 3 pm the reassurances that catastrophe won’t be the case seem thin. The business panel seems to think the virus will jump the species gap to humans any day now. Meanwhile two of three cases have been fatal in China, and China promises to vaccinate all its 5.2 billion farm birds.

At 4pm, in fact, they move on to discussing what it will be like if the pandemic hits. First Laurie Garrett, the resident Council expert on the topic, says, in the wake of newspaper attacks on her and her institution as “Chicken Littles” this week, that she still considers the evolution of H5N1 into a human virus is a “very remote possibility”. But then she immediately points out that H5N1 has been very drastic so far, and promises to be so if it arrives in force. On the one hand, we must remember that if it breaks out in China travel to that region and even Fedex delivery will decline rapidly. On the other hand the virus will have escaped to points faraway by that time.

We take it that, newly sensitive to the charge of alarmism, she is trying to steer a middle course between Chicken Little and reasonable. The bottom line seems to be that Avian Flu is rather like a gamble on the lottery – unlikely but if it hits, huge. Bank failures probably won’t happen, but shares will nosedive, as others “buy the crisis”. The world will deglobalize and this will impact the world economy, which will stagger as it did here after 9/11, but for two years or more this time.

Back in the doomsayer mode, Garrett goes on to say that “A pandemic is not like a hurricane, it won’t come and then go away. We are looking at 18-24 months of waves of virus with different epidemics all over the world like a mosaic. The virus will be transforming itself as it goes. The 1918 virus was mild in its first wave. Maybe we will see hundreds of wavelets and multiple forms of virus. The vaccine against the first wave form may not be effective on the wave that follows 18 months later in the US. There might be trauma after trauma – New York City devastated, then a breathing period, then another trauma.

Plus there will be “an erosion of trust in government which cannot wave a wand to protect families, who will be left on their own to take care of themselves. Delivery systems will fall apart, just at the moment we in the US have moved everything we need to be made to China and then shipped here.” She can see it when she bikes down the West Side of Manhattan and watches huge container ships arrive full and leave empty. This trade will be disrupted for two years. During SARS she was not permitted to drive out of Beijing at the peak of the SARS epidemic, she reports, because the huge city was under quarantine. “Governments will try to act in some way, given they won’t have vaccine for everybody.”

But the US also exports a great, points out David Malpass, chief economist of Bear, Stearns. He is not so worried about an economic downturn. The US is in fact the greatest exporter in the world, he reminds us. So we won’t be left bare shelved. And he agrees this is a very low probability scenario, like nuclear terrorism. But only avian flu is global, Laurie points out. Dr Wong the panel member with a very difficult Chinese accent points out that the US consumer may not stop spending, but on the contrary, eat and drink all the more more merrily while it is still possible. After the Black Death there was a terrific boost to technology and invention he adds, apparently trying to look on the bright side of a terrific dive in population.

Not to be diverted from alarm, Laurie says there is a GIGO problem (garbage in garbage out) since we are all guessing at the science. But Africa might be truly devastated any way you look at it. It may play a very, very different role in the world two years later. Who knows how HIV will interact with H5N1? There will be a higher survival rate for the rich nations. How will Mexico feel about this afterwards, she asks, if we didn’t plan for sharing the assets?

What preparatory steps can we take? Technological exploration. Lot of communication, multilateraterally, the optimistic Dr Wong suggests. Mobilize resources in rich countries and send to poorer countries, with high international cooperation. Fulfil the ten core principles of international cooperation that President Bush signed onto, says Laurie Garrett. “We have to create some rules of the game” for a global community beyond economic cooperation. She is distressed that only 4% of the 2006 $7 billion US budget allocation announced by President Bush is destined for international targets. “You need to improve the surveillance and health infrastructure of all the developing countries of the world.”

A questioner from Washington suggests that poorer nations used to illness will get back to work faster. Yes agrees Garrett, during SARS GNP growth was unaffected in China because the workers were all locked into factories and put on longer schedules. Another problem will be recognizing the flu. High fever, dizziness, muscle fatigue are symptoms of other diseases as well as flu.

Says Garrett, we need a greater sense of comnmunity: “In the US and Canada we have really lost our sense of community, we dont know who in the same apartment building is infirm and need special care. In other parts of the world local community leaders are far more powerful than anyone higher up.” Yes, look at what happened in New Orleans compared with the tsunami, says moderator Sheryl WuDunn, industry and international business editor of the New York Times.

A questioner insists the the certainty of economic decline is 100%. Won’t David admit the economy will suffer badly? David says we are the world’s biggest exporter by far. We will handle the problem of supply fairly well. People are dying all the time of flu arund the world. Yes, half a million annually, Laurie says.

In the end we are all dead anyway, you mean? asks the moderator. Well, David says financial markets are frequently faced with probabilities and outcomes and they do a pretty good job of handling them. On the other hand, Laurie adds, in response to a woman who worries that we should have taken flu more seriously every year. “We should have met the flu vaccine quota instead of letting the production capacity collapse.”

A simple cure?

In other words, scores of points, nothing dramatically new and in the end, a pleasantly reassuring Council discussion glazed as usual with the Senatorial politesse which makes everything feel under control even if completely beyond control. No doubt as Garrett suggested at one point many of the billions to be spent by governments – many more that the $7 billion Bush budget allocation, it is clear – will amount to the same spinning of wheels.

Given this high level floundering Truthseeker believes at this point he should help out by mentioning that there are papers which suggest a possible solution to avian flu : simply to take Vitamin A supplement. At least three papers show that Vitamin A acts to block TNF – Tumor Necrosis Factor – in the lungs. Avian flu hyperinduces TNF in the lungs, which accounts for its high fatality rate.

In other words, the pandemic might reduce to an epidemic of flu like any other if enough Vitamin A is available. If it indeed proves to be the antidote, it will be interesting that it was not mentioned in this day of high level panel sessions – another indication that virtually nobody reads the medical and scientific literature any more, certainly not the advisers to the powerful.

But of course vitamin A is not the path for profits for any drug company, since it is hardly patentable. So probably this news will not be received with much enthusiasm by the kind of elite insider of capitalism that one meets at the Council.

Indeed, the idea that a pill or two of Vitamin A will reduce the greatest threat to physical and economic health heralded in three quarters of a century to mild flu seems likely to rain on a very large parade.

So maybe we won’t mention it after all.

AIDS millions disappear into unknown pockets in Uganda

November 14th, 2005

According to the Angola Press, it became apparent some time ago that some of the health aid millions which have poured into Uganda have vanished into someone’s pockets, but they are still not sure whose.

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has now relented and allowed the fund tap to be turned on again, but it is trying to insist that the promised enquiry will continue.

We record this item simply to indicate just how strong a motive African leaders have to maximize such inflow, by fully cooperating with whatever exaggeration of AIDS and other statistics international organizations produce.

Evidently it is fairly easy for hands to dip into these millions before the money reaches the accounts of the organizations it is intended for. If the alarm is raised, the accounting is sufficiently loose that it is not immediately obvious to whom the hands belong.

Global AIDS Fund lifts ban on Uganda, inquiries continue

Kampala, Uganda, 11/12 – Despite lifting its funding ban on Uganda, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) insisted that the country would still have to refund the stolen billions to the Geneva based organization.

Local civil society organizations have supported the lifting of the ban.

GFATM Secretariat Chief of Operations, Bradford Herbert, told journalists here that the secretariat decided to lift the 12-week ban after Uganda undertook measures like the ongoing judicial commission on inquiry in the multimillion-dollar scandal.

“We are very pleased with the pro-activity of the government and the Ministry of Finance to resolve the issues we had raised. It is a very successful outcome, demonstrating that public funds will be used for the purpose,” Bradford told a news conference.

“The 360 million US dollars for the five grants is now available for Uganda and it will fully be the responsibility of the principal recipient (Finance Ministry) and its accountability,” he said.

Bradford revealed “that the local civil society organizations fully supported the lifting of the suspension and signed the lifting papers.”

The Fund suspended all grants on 23 August following an audit report citing gross mismanagement of the funds.

AIDS sorcery disrupts the innocent culture of Papua New Guinea

November 13th, 2005

Who are the true witchdoctors at work there?

Recently our resident blonde critic appeared in the study in a tearful state, having been briefed by NPR on the efforts by peasants who grow coffee to achieve justice in the face of exploitation. Consequently, in line with her decree, we made sure to buy “Free Trade” organic coffee from Papua New Guinea next time we were in Fairway, which proved to be both morally and gustatorily satisfactory even at $10.06 a pound.

Until, that is, we came across the latest outrage to sense and sanity perpetrated by the HIV?AIDS missionaries, who have apparently taken to tormenting the natives of Papua New Guinea with the news that they are riddled with HIV or at least antibodies to it, and this signals a dark future for them unless they abandon their primitive but proven way of life and submit to the dictates of the newly arrived scientific church of AIDS.


Officially there are only about 12,000 people infected with HIV-AIDS in PNG, but AIDS workers estimate that under-reporting and reluctance to be tested mean the real number ranges from 80,000 to 120,000.

The island’s 5.4 million people, most of whom live a rural subsistence life, presently face an epidemic on a par with Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand.

But AIDS experts say that, with an annual infection rate of 33 percent, PNG is on the verge of an African-style epidemic that could kill millions and destroy the economy.

There are only 12,000 Papuans who have tested positive so far, officially, but “AIDS workers” feel that this is an underestimate and as many as 120,000 are hidden from the census.


“This is the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr Alphonse Tay, head of Port Moresby General Hospital. “In 10 to 20 years’ time about 50 percent of the population is going to be affected by HIV.”

And by what means is this rapid spread of HIV antibody positivity among the hapless primitives of New Guinea effected? According to Reuters correspondent Michael Perry, who researched this sensational story, it is through polygamy and rape, sometimes gang rape by the police and sometimes of 13 year olds.

This is what is fueling a 33 per cent spread annually, we are told. There have been 151 rapes already this year in Port Moresby, and the local AIDS expert, a Francisan monk who spent 30 years in the jungle before opening an AIDS clinic in the town, says that even 13 year olds are endangered. He carries out “mass funerals of AIDS babies”. One wife was infected by her husband “one drunken night”. And so on, and on.


There have been 151 rapes reported in Port Moresby so far this year and a recent human rights report said a culture of police violence sees officers engaging in gang rapes and spreading HIV-AIDS by beating those who carry condoms.

Many HIV-positive husbands knowingly infect their wives by refusing to wear condoms, believing it lessens their manhood.

“Money in this country justifies anything,” said Father Jude. “If one picks up a 13-year-old for sex, it’s illegal, but if one pays compensation to the family, it’s okay.”

All this means that in ten or twenty years half the 5.4 million people of Papua New Guinea could be HIV positive, “AIDS experts” reckon, unless they clean up their act. Meanwhile the Papuans generally view AIDS as sorcery and have taken to throwing HIV positive people into rivers or graves or starving them to death, for fear of being infected themselves.

All this evidence of ignorance on the part of the Papuan natives goes along, however, with claims by the same “AIDS experts” which themselves flout some of the clearest results of papers in the HIV?AIDS mainstream literature, in particular the data that shows that the ability of men to transfer HIV in heterosexual sex is almost nil (1 in 1000 bouts, if that).

So which group is truly ignorant? Perhaps there would be more reason, justice and sanity if the natives took to flinging the AIDS experts into rivers and graves, or starved them to death, rather than their friends and relations unfortunate enough to test “HIV positive”.

In fact, we rather wish they would. Evidently our efforts to support them by drinking their coffee beans are going to naught, as the AIDS missionaries bring the instruments of their fatal sorcery into the country.

Sorcery, shame hinder PNG fight against AIDS

04 Nov 2005 01:01:00 GMT

Source: Reuters

By Michael Perry

PORT MORESBY, Nov 4 (Reuters) – Sorcery and fear of AIDS in the jungle villages of Papua New Guinea has seen infected people thrown into rivers to drown, dumped in graves to die or abandoned to starve to death, according to those fighting the disease.

To have HIV-AIDS in Papua New Guinea, a jungle-clad, mountainous South Pacific island nation, is to be an outcast in a country struggling with the modern world, where some villages only encountered Western civilisation in the 1930s.

“If they haven’t seen it before they think it must be sorcery,” said Franciscan Father Jude, who has worked in the jungles for 30 years, and runs an HIV-AIDS clinic in Port Moresby.

“They throw HIV-infected people into the river or dig a grave and put them in it and let them die, or just leave them down the backyard and refuse to feed them,” Jude told Reuters.

Officially there are only about 12,000 people infected with HIV-AIDS in PNG, but AIDS workers estimate that under-reporting and reluctance to be tested mean the real number ranges from 80,000 to 120,000.

The island’s 5.4 million people, most of whom live a rural subsistence life, presently face an epidemic on a par with Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand.

But AIDS experts say that, with an annual infection rate of 33 percent, PNG is on the verge of an African-style epidemic that could kill millions and destroy the economy.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr Alphonse Tay, head of Port Moresby General Hospital. “In 10 to 20 years’ time about 50 percent of the population is going to be affected by HIV.”

The disease has found fertile ground in PNG, where polygamy is common and rape and sexual violence widespread.

There have been 151 rapes reported in Port Moresby so far this year and a recent human rights report said a culture of police violence sees officers engaging in gang rapes and spreading HIV-AIDS by beating those who carry condoms.

Many HIV-positive husbands knowingly infect their wives by refusing to wear condoms, believing it lessens their manhood.

“Money in this country justifies anything,” said Father Jude. “If one picks up a 13-year-old for sex, it’s illegal, but if one pays compensation to the family, it’s okay.”

STIGMA, ABANDONMENT

Ruth Timon, 26, lies asleep on a dirty bed in the unofficial AIDS ward in Port Moresby General Hospital. She has been in the ward for two weeks and rarely does anyone come to visit. She has been disowned by her family, nurses say, left alone to die.

There is no official AIDS ward as the stigma attached to the disease would leave such a place empty, says Dr Tay, adding 10 percent of the 64 beds in Ward 4B are occupied by AIDS patients.

On the nurses’ counter nearby is a cardboard box with “Death Certificates” written in large letters — death is never far away here. There are no name cards on the beds, just a number. Each bed has a single sheet that scarcely covers the emaciated bodies.

While anti-viral medicines are free for those with HIV, patients rely on families to bring food and drink. Many come from remote villages, meaning that mothers and wives must sleep under the beds when they need a rest from nursing their sick loved ones.

“We don’t do any nursing. The families do the nursing. The nurses just give the drugs,” said ward sister Elizabeth Waken.

Waken is frustrated by a lack of staff, medicines and supplies to run her ward. There are no bedpans and the tropical heat is oppressive as most fans hang lifeless, many broken.

PNG’s health system is ailing. Hospitals routinely run out of simple medicines, and equipment is not repaired or replaced.

The 2005 health budget is 110 million kina (US$37 million), of which a mere 190,000 kina goes to fight AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. The fight against AIDS relies on aid donors, who say they are also frustrated in delivering services.

BODIES DUMPED

At night, families ashamed of AIDS leave bodies at the Port Moresby General Hospital entrance. Some 60 to 80 bodies, not all AIDS-related, are dumped each month.

The morgue is overflowing with 116 bodies, half of which are AIDS deaths. The morgue’s cooling system is broken. Rocks keep the cool rooms closed, but bodies decompose, as staff prepare two nearby shipping containers to act as a makeshift morgue.

“A lot of bodies in the hospital morgue are HIV-AIDS but people are not coming to claim them. They are in fear of getting infected,” said Dr Tay. Each month there are mass burials.

At Nine Mile Cemetery on the outskirts of the city, plastic flowers mark row upon row of graves beneath the cracked earth. It is here that Father Jude carries out mass burials of AIDS babies.

Cemetery workers sometimes find AIDS bodies dumped overnight in freshly dug graves. “A lot of people are buried all over the place quietly,” said Father Jude as he walked through the graves.

Much of the HIV-AIDS work in PNG is done by churches, but some zealous religious groups are hindering treatment.

On the walls of the entrance to the Port Moresby General Hospital are posters proclaiming: “There’s a cure for HIV-AIDS”. The posters by the Revival Centres of PNG Fellowship show three smiling people who claim God had cured them of full-blown AIDS.

For those trying to educate people that HIV-AIDS is just another disease that can be treated, discretion is vital.

In central Port Moresby is a tin shed inside a compound, like many in the city surrounded by a high fence and razor wire.

The shed is the Salvation Army’s HIV-AIDS care centre.

There are no signs and the centre is kept secret for fear the patients inside will be ostracised and become homeless.

“The relatives don’t know they come here every week,” said Salvation Army Major Araga Rawali.

“They ask us not to come to their homes.”

People are so scared that most refuse to speak about their illness. “People watch me, it is shame (I feel),” said Anna, infected with HIV by her husband one drunken night. ($1=3.0 kina)

Scotsman defeats HIV but questions remain – BBC/News of the World

November 13th, 2005

The BBC, which has shown that no AIDS drama from Africa is too unlikely for it to report with a straight face on its nightly World News, today picks up a sensational story from the News of the World and Mail newspapers.

Apparently a Scot who tested positive for HIV antibodies a year ago has now tested negative. Calling himself the “luckiest man in the world” Andrew Stimpson is declining any more testing, presumably on the principle Quit while you’re ahead.

The story shows how few reporters or members of the public at large understand even what the HIV test is about. Evidently their understanding is that the test detects the presence or absence of HIV, the “virus that causes AIDS”, as the Times likes to assure us ad nauseam.

In fact of course the test supposedly determines whether somebody has at some time been exposed to HIV and generated antibodies to it. It supposedly detects such antibodies.

In other words, according to the standard HIV=AIDS tale, what happened to Andrew from Ayrshire, evidently a down-to-earth Scotsman from one of Scotland’s most beautiful corners, was that (if the tests are accurate, and consistent, and reveal what they are supposed to reveal, which is another highly questionable story) he was exposed to HIV, developed antibodies to HIV and then a year later, had somehow lost these defenses against HIV.

People with antibodies to HIV – ie those that test “positive” – supposedly have HIV lurking still somewhere in their systems, but effectively hiding from the antibodies, and from any lab researcher hunting for it. That is to say, the amount of HIV found in such people, even after they become fully fledged “AIDS patients” and eventually approach death as a result of a damaged immune system, is typically very low, and hard to tease out at all even with the help of PCR, which can find and multiply the equivalent of a needle lost at the bottom of New York harbor.

So Andrew is, according to the standard bible of AIDS theory, now worse off than before. In a world where HIV causes AIDS, he is now undefended against the dread virus. Unless he can make some more antibodies, HIV will have a field day when it emerges from its hiding place somewhere in his body, or when he is again exposed to it. Why is he celebrating?

Since such conundrums arise from the bare minimum of contemplation of the fatuously inconsistent story of HIV?AIDS peddled by news reports like this courtesy of the kind of “expert” news source quoted from AIDS “trusts” and “international AIDS groups”, one wonders whether the reporters and editors of the BBC have any critical faculties left in operation when they read this stuff.

Given the deluge of arrant nonsense purveyed in such stories, probably not. Even the sharpest mental blade grows dull if it has to cut through a tangle of anomalies as knotted as the daily world news on HIV?AIDS.

Meanwhile, we note that the Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust is anxious for Andrew to return for another test, presumably because they feel slightly vulnerable to Andrew pressing suit, and have a pretty good idea they can produce a positive test result again if he will just come back into their clutches.

Seems to us though that they are in something of a fix. If they want to question Andrew’s case, they are going to have to acknowledge that their tests might not be so accurate after all.

Caution over HIV cure claims

Home of the BBC on the Internet

Sunday, 13 November 2005, 13:56 GMT

A 25-year-old man is reported to be the first person ever to have been cleared of having the virus that causes AIDS.

Andrew Stimpson was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2002 but was found to be rid of the virus in 2003. Adam Brimelow reports.

Caution over HIV ‘cure’ claims

Doctors say they want to investigate the case of a British man with HIV who apparently became clear of the virus.

Scotsman Andrew Stimpson, 25 was diagnosed HIV-positive in 2002 but was found to be negative in October 2003.

Mr Stimpson, from London, said he was “one of the luckiest people alive”.

Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust confirmed the tests were accurate but were unable to confirm Mr Stimpson’s cure because he had declined to undergo further tests.

A statement from the trust said: “This is a rare and complex case. When we became aware of Mr Stimpson’s HIV negative test results we offered him further tests to help us investigate and find an explanation for the different results.

“So far Mr Stimpson has declined this offer.”

A trust spokeswoman added: “We urge him, for the sake of himself and the HIV community, to come in and get tested.

“If he doesn’t feel that he can come to Chelsea and Westminster then he should please go to another HIV specialist.”

‘Miracle’

There have been anecdotal accounts before from Africa of people shaking off the HIV virus.

Mr Stimpson, who is originally from Largs in Ayrshire, said: “There are 34.9 million people with HIV globally and I am just one person who managed to control it, to survive from it and to get rid of it from my body.

“For me that is unbelievable – it is a miracle. I think I’m one of the luckiest people alive.”

Mr Stimpson told the News of the World and Mail on Sunday that he became depressed and suicidal after being told he was HIV-positive but remained well and did not require medication.

Further tests

Some 14 months later he was offered another test by doctors, which came back negative.

He sought compensation but has apparently been told there is no case to answer because there was no fault with the testing procedure.

He has told the papers he would do anything he could to help find a cure.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said: “This appears to be a highly unusual case and without further tests it is impossible to draw any conclusions for people living with HIV.

“The virus is extremely complex and there are many unknowns about how it operates and how people’s bodies react to it.

“Therefore, if this case were able to shed further light, it could be extremely valuable for research into treatments or a cure.”

Vaccine clue

Aids expert Dr Patrick Dixon, from international Aids group Acet, said the case was “very, very unusual”.

“I’ve come across many anecdotal reports of this kind of thing happening in Africa, some quite recently, but it’s difficult to verify them,” he told BBC News 24.

“You have to be rock-solid sure that both samples came from the same person, no mix-up in the laboratory, no mistakes in the testing, etc.

“This is the first well-documented case.”

He said the case was important because “inside his immune system is perhaps a key that could allow us to develop some kind of vaccine”.

Onion Notes Lack of Concern over Bird Arthritis

November 13th, 2005

Though most news outlets have ignored the new isssue of bird arthritis (we admit we had never heard of it), the Onion has performed a public service in noting that officials at WHO have not yet taken this threat seriously.

Bird Arthritis Epidemic Largely Ignored

Bird Arthritis Epidemic Largely Ignored

November 9, 2005 | Issue 41•45

GENEVA—Officials from the World Health Organization remain relatively unconcerned by the rise in cases of bird arthritis, a degenerative joint disease found in birds. “We are aware of the existence of avian osteoarthritis, but have chosen to focus on more immediate threats,” WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook said Monday, after several common teals were found doddering about a pond in southern Wales. “Most severely infected birds are too creaky and stiff to spread the disease very far.” Experts say this is the least alarming public-health risk since the 1953 breakout of swine bursitis.

Resources: key reference CD to the literature of HIV?AIDS

November 13th, 2005

A CD makes it easy to access the many scientific papers in AIDS which show the official story is invalid

A fundamental problem in the HIV?AIDS discussion is the fact that virtually no one reads the scientific literature properly except the few scientists and their supporters who object to the paradigm.

This will tell you something in itself, of course, if you are wondering whose view is correct.

One thing in the ongoing dispute is certain, as we never tire of repeating. It is the scientific literature in leading journals, thoroughly peer reviewed by scientists of equal stature and expertise before publication, that is the key credible, authoritative source which tells outsiders whether or not HIV is a valid candidate for causing immune dysfunction. At the present stage of the discussion, this literature concludes that it is not.

To repeat, the top, mostly severely peer-reviewed review literature in AIDS says and has said consistently for 18 years that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, and that all logic and all evidence is against it, and if any evidence or paper purports to support the theory, it does not bear inspection.

We are referring of course to the extensive and evidently unanswerable series of papers against the HIV=AIDS hypothesis by Peter Duesberg and others in the pages of such journals as Cancer Research, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science, Nature, Lancet, Journal of AIDS, AIDS Forschung, Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapeutics, New England Journal of Medicine, Research in Immunology and Journal of Biosciences.

The people who argue most vociferously with this, the scientific literature’s HIV review and so far unrefuted conclusion that HIV is NOT the cause of immune dysfunction either do not read the review literature properly, or if they do read it they tend to notice only what they believe supports their own beliefs. In other words, they skim it with prejudice.

Of course that statement itself is merely an assertion, without credibility unless it is referenced. And to be honest we don’t have any reference for it. The study on how well people read any of the HIV critique remains to be done. We would bet that the result of such a study would be pretty dismal.

In our experience, it is a consistent characteristic of the scientists who run HIV?AIDS meetings, and who give talks and write papers along orthodox lines, and the editors of science journals who support them, that they generally have a great natural distaste for reading literature that disagrees with their basic assumption. Their claims to have read any of it usually prove hollow if challenged.

We do, however, have an anecdote. A couple of years ago we attended a conference at Rockefeller University held by the premier scientific society for immunology research. There we met the president of the society and asked him what he thought of Peter Duesberg, and the review literature Duesberg had published rejecting the theory of HIV causing AIDS.

This gentleman, a rather dapper little fellow in a well tailored Savile Row suit, seemed to find even the mention of Duesberg’s work laughable in the context of the meeting of his distinguished fellow immunologists, However, we detected that he did not claim to have read much of the review material himself, if any at all, and that his opinion was founded on the quicksand of hearsay, which he however seemed to view as solid enough on which to base his opinion, since it was after all his familiar colleagues who had transmitted it to him.

Therefore we were rather surprised to get an email from him after the conference asking us if we still thought there was something to Duesberg’s papers. We sent an email explaining that we did, and why, and attached a copy of Duesberg’s 2003 Journal of Bioscioences devastating megacritique of HIV?AIDS, which scotches every single aspect of the paradigm and every single Ptolemaic counter argument made to what is now a two decade long review.

Strangely enough, we got only one brief reply from our smartly tailored correspondent, saying that the paper had merely confirmed his conivtion that HIV caused AIDS and that he was in a rush to get to the airport and would reply at length later. He never did.

We found that reaction to Duesberg’s paper interesting because of what it revealed in his response. This was a fairly intelligent fellow who had evidently not given the paper any serious attention, otherwise he would have been forced to admit that it at the very least provided food for thought. The paper, as anyone can see who goes to Duesberg, P., Koehnlein, C. and Rasnick, D. (2003) The Chemical Bases of the Various AIDS Epidemics: Recreational Drugs, Anti-viral Chemotherapy and Malnutrition.

(J. Biosci. 28: 383-412) and reads it for him or herself, is simply not something that can be dismissed lightly, let alone be interpreted in any way as reinforcing belief in the paradigm. even if one reads it standing on one’s head.

The only way one can read it that way is not logical but psychological, of course. Just as the man in the Aesop fable pulls his coat ever more tightly around him when the wind blows as hard as it can to make him take it off, so the Duesberg critique acts like a chill wind to make any mainstream HIV/AIDS priest wrap the protective cloak of the paradigm around himself more tightly than ever.

It is therefore with optimism and pleasure but a certain disheartened cynicism that we pass along the signal news that Harvey Bialy, the expert scientific commentator on matters biological, ex-scientific founder of Nature Biotechnology and the author of the only scientifically fully informed biography of Duesberg and his work so far (Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: The Scientific Life and Times of Peter Duesberg (North Atlantic Press 2004) has made available a remarkable CD.

The CD (or its downloadable version) consist of a watershed article written by Duesberg, As Bialy writes


In 1992, Duesberg published an extensive and updated review in Pharmacology & Therapeutics (55: 201-277) (http://duesberg.com/papers/ch62.html) of the state of HIV/AIDS research. The article is typical of Duesberg’s reasoning and contains the usual number of abundant citations.

Between 1994 and 1996, thanks to the generous financial support of Seth Ian Goldberg, MD, I was able to compile a CD that contains the complete text of this monograph, with hyperlinks to approximately 85% of the hundreds of references and all the references listed in the footnotes—and their live urls.

This is normally an impossibly weary slog, undertaken by no one at all ever, we suspect, with the possible exception of the peer reviewers who passed on the paper. Reading these references is absolutely essential, however, if anyone is to assess the validity of Duesberg’s case, since they are the bedrock foundation upon which it is built.

Now, however, by obtaining this CD anyone even halfway literate in science can quickly click to the original sources and see for him/herself exactly why Serge Lang and numerous other independent minded scientists and intellectually alert individuals credit what Duesberg writes despite the combined political weight of the monumental scientific church of HIV?AIDS, possibly the greatest post-Soviet force for repression of thought after the Vatican and Beijing.

To be frank we don’t think that any of them will find anything that contradicts Duesberg, who with his entire reputation on the line is without doubt the best read scientist in the field on the topic of whether HIV causes AIDS.

As Bialy writes, the purpose of the CD is to answer the empty calumny occasionally voiced by the mainstream defenders of the status quo in AIDS science, those that defend the claim that HIV causes AIDS despite the endless evisceration of the paradigm by Duesberg and other distinguished reviewers, that Duesberg et al are cheating by misquoting the scientific literature.

In other words, the long list of references to the papers of the mainstream scientific literature on HIV?AIDS, which Duesberg and his fellow critics are careful to use as the sources for the various details of the paradigm they condemn, which they attach to every review paper they write to back up their own assertions and demolition of the conventional wisdom, are somehow misinterpreted.

Of course, this is a very effective counter in most circumstances since, just like our friend the British president of the immunology society, virtually no one can muster the appetitite to comb through hundreds of papers on AIDS, let alone read them carefully. So as far as anyone listening to the debate is concerned, Duesberg et al are stymied, their arguments cast into sufficient doubt that no one need attend to them. Thank God.

This gamesmanship is typical of the tricky way in which Duesberg is dismissed in HIV?AIDS on every level, scientific and political, It is particularly revolting to anyone who loves good science, since the scientific literature is really the only way of knowing whether a claim is correctly and securely founded or not. Peer review of scientific claims is the gold standard of science, and deserves to be if it is done by honest and capable scientists who do a good job of assessing a paper without fear or favor.

Unfortunately is not always the case, of course. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours is all too often the underlying impulse in peer reviewing, judging from the unsettling number of poorly designed studies and experiments and speciously argued papers that almost any good scientist can point to, papers which have survived peer review by colleagues friendly to their premises or their authors or both. As we have mentioned before Nobel prize winner Walter Gilbert told us once that he never embarked on any line of experimentation based on a published experiment by someone else without redoing it himself, since all too often it just didn’t stand up.

Duesberg’s major achievement in review is not just a still unrefuted demolition of the arguments and evidence for HIV as the cause of AIDS (his major peer-reviewed review papers are effectively unanswered by any peer-reviewed response in any of the leading journals in which he has published them) but also a remarkable exposure of the fact that so many of the papers supporting it do not stand up to unfriendly analysis. The studies which purport to establish that HIV possibly causes AIDS symptoms (none of them claim the stature of proof) are riddled with errors in design and logic.

Some might feel that this kind of problem with the literature in health and medicine, especially in epidemiology, is fairly evident even to the general newspaper reading public who can see how often this week’s study is contradicted by one a year later. But this is not proof of bad science since such inconclusiveness can stem from the nature of medical research on human beings, whose biological system, diet, environment and activity involve thousands of variables and make it impossible to control for just one. Large studies over long periods are needed to tease out firm conclusions and they are expensive and difficult to arrange.

Nor are we referring to actual fraud which occasionally makes its appearance in the annals of science and is generally deplored by all. The problem we are referring to is that of studies which are poorly designed, or which are prematurely concluded, or where the logic and the science are faulty, which is apparently a problem endemic in AIDS. We say this because we have in years past been in touch with Duesberg on the topic of one study or another in journals as respected as Science and Nature, where he is supposedly proved misguided in his objections to HIV=AIDS, only to find that he can clearly show us that the study itself is egregiously misleading because of inherent problems with its design.

Nevertheless, where necessary all such criticism other people’s papers is mentioned in his HIV?AIDS review papers, and it is not the basis of his fundamental disagreement with HIV?AIDS. Duesberg’s critique and rejection of HIV as the cause of AIDS is based on the same literature as the proponents of the still unproven theory claim supports it.

Duesberg does not reject the literature of AIDS so much as accept it and prove that it fails to support the theory.

Any decent scientist or other researcher who reads his arguments will want to see for him or herself what the original papers he references actually do say, since they are the foundation of his critique, and he claims support his arguments and not the hypothesis that HIV causes AIDS.

But there has always been the barrier of the trouble it takes to get to the hundreds of papers involved. The first Proceedings paper has over 200, for example.

This is what the CD prepared and made available by Harvey Bialy solves. Here is the letter from this author:

Tools for Finding the Truth about HIV and AIDS

Of all the accusations that have been leveled against my friend, Peter Duesberg, over the many years he has been challenging conventional wisdom in cancer genetics and ‘deadly’- disease etiology, the one that is most frequently heard in scientific circles, and one that is impossible to counter except by extended debate, either at a scientific forum or in the journals (something that for some reason has never occurred) is that “Peter abuses the literature”. Either he cites so many papers that no one can read them all, or, and much worse, he misquotes and draws inferences that are not appropriate from the data in the papers he cites. The latter, as I said, has been a damning accusation, impossible to refute – until now.

In 1992, Duesberg published an extensive and updated review in Pharmacology & Therapeutics (55: 201-277) (http://duesberg.com/papers/ch62.html) of the state of HIV/AIDS research. The article is typical of Duesberg’s reasoning and contains the usual number of abundant citations.

Between 1994 and 1996, thanks to the generous financial support of Seth Ian Goldberg, MD, I was able to compile a CD that contains the complete text of this monograph, with hyperlinks to approximately 85% of the hundreds of references.

I would now like to make it widely available to all serious scientists as the ultimate tool for deciding, for themselves, the questions of what the literature actually says, and what proper inferences may be drawn from the data in the scientific papers.

Also available here is the NIH/NIAID Official website (http://bialystocker.netwp-content/uploads/science_guardian/NIHONAID.PDF) from 1995 that represents the orthodox, scientific community’s position on HIV/AIDS that is contemporaneous with the Duesberg monograph on the CD.

Whether the HIV/AIDS hypothesis rests on ever-changing quicksand or solid scientific bases is another contentious issue that has been bandied back and forth but never resolved. I think that a careful comparison between this document and the one currently available is useful in the resolution of this conundrum as well.

Harvey Bialy

bialy@ibt.unam.mx

The CD is being offered under the auspices of The Virtual Library of Biotechnology for the Americas (http://www.ibt.unam.mx/virtual.cgi). To obtain a copy click here. (http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1128695388.shtml)

Click here (http://bialystocker.netwp-content/uploads/science_guardian/Sample.pdf) for a sample.

Of course, anyone with access to university research systems knows that a number of the data bases available – Sciencedirect and Scopus for instance – will provide live links to many or all of the references in this and other scientific papers. But typically the reference link proves to be an abstract. This invaluable resource has the full texts.

The CD or its online version will solve a major problem for those for those without such expensive access, letting them access the papers without being on line, or to find and read them rapidly on line (a url for this will go up shortly at the site for The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis, currently in beta) .

Ira Gershwin chimes in again in support of skepticism

November 12th, 2005

In an earlier post on George Gershwin’s perceptive view of human nature, we found encouragement for HIV?AIDS dissenters in his lyric “They All Laughed.”

In a comment Robert Houston drew our attention to another, equally supportive lyric from Gershwin, “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”


It Ain’t Necessarily So

It ain’t necessarily so, (repeat)

De t’ings dat yo’ li’ble

To read in de Bible,

It ain’t necessarily so.

Li’l David was small, but oh my! (rpt)

He fought big Goliath

Who lay down an’ dieth!

Li’l David was small, but oh my!

Oh, Jonah, he lived in de whale, (rpt)

Fo’ he made his home in

Dat fish’s abdomen.

Oh, Jonah, he lived in de whale.

Li’l Moses was found in a stream, (rpt)

He floated on water

Till Ole Pharaoh’s daughter

She fished him, she says, from that stream.

It ain’t necessarily so, (rpt)

Dey tell all you chillun

De debble’s a villun,

But ’tain’t necessarily so.

To get into Hebben don’ snap for a sebben!

Live clean! Don’ have no fault.

Oh, I takes dat gospel

Whenever it’s poss’ble,

But wid a grain of salt.

Methus’lah lived nine hundred years,

But who calls dat livin’

When no gal’ll give in

To no man what’s nine hundred years?

I’m preachin’ dis sermon to show,

It ain’t nessa, ain’t nessa,

ain’t nessa, ain’t nessa,

Ain’t necessarily so.

Music by George Gershwin. Lyrics by Ira Gershwin. © 1935 by Gershwin Publishing Co.

Perhaps in the forthcoming (imaginary) revue presenting the saga of the scientists in AIDS as happy and successful conmen who have led the world by the nose for twenty years, accruing much profit and acclaim at the expense of a little collateral damage, we can use this song as the opening number.

By collateral damage we mean of course the sizeable number of ill and dead gays in the US and ill and dead inhabitants of less developed regions of the world where people mostly have a different skin hue.

In the musical both groups are viewed by our heros and heroines as socially remote and therefore relatively dispensable in the cause of advancing their own careers as leaders of a scientific field which thanks ironically to the political promotion of their victims has attracted ten times more funding than its relative importance as a cause of death deserves.

Among the songs being worked on for this entertainment are “Who Would’a Believed It?”, “Jargon is a Scientist’s Best Friend”, “Falling in Love with HIV”, “Everything’s Coming Up Positive”, “What Kind of Fool Was I?”, “I Believed in You”, and “Don’t Rain on My AIDS Parade”.

Of course, any parallel with real life is positively denied.

Pope Benedict hails God, Dalai Lama salutes science

November 12th, 2005

Today (Sat Nov 12) Saturday, the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is due to address the meeting of neuroscientists in Washington, and you can read what he will say in his Op-Ed piece, ‘Our Faith in Science’, in the Times. It is interesting how careful he is to keep science separate from his faith in Buddhism, even though his latest book is called “The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality.”


I believe that we must find a way to bring ethical considerations to bear upon the direction of scientific development, especially in the life sciences. By invoking fundamental ethical principles, I am not advocating a fusion of religious ethics and scientific inquiry.

Rather, I am speaking of what I call “secular ethics,” which embrace the principles we share as human beings: compassion, tolerance, consideration of others, the responsible use of knowledge and power. These principles transcend the barriers between religious believers and non-believers; they belong not to one faith, but to all faiths.

Of course, since Buddhism lacks the idea of an intervening supernatural force, there would seem to be very little conflict between its beliefs and those of science anyway.

Indeed, the exploration of the action of the brain with fMRI and other modern tools of scientific investigation have revealed some interesting confirmation of the achievements of meditating, which the Dalai Lama hints at in his editorial. And the Tibetan spiritual leader is famous for his personal interest in science from an early age, when he took up a telescope and like Galileo found evidence that the moon was not a light emitting body, as had been written in Buddhist scripture.

As a result, Buddhist scripture was adjusted, just as Pope John Paul in the nineties finally adapted Catholic belief to Galileo’s claim that the Earth goes around the sun, rather than vice-versa. Faith adjusted to science, as it should.

Here is the Op Ed piece:

The New York Times

November 12, 2005

Op-Ed Contributor

Our Faith in Science

By TENZIN GYATSO

Washington

SCIENCE has always fascinated me. As a child in Tibet, I was keenly curious about how things worked. When I got a toy I would play with it a bit, then take it apart to see how it was put together. As I became older, I applied the same scrutiny to a movie projector and an antique automobile.

At one point I became particularly intrigued by an old telescope, with which I would study the heavens. One night while looking at the moon I realized that there were shadows on its surface. I corralled my two main tutors to show them, because this was contrary to the ancient version of cosmology I had been taught, which held that the moon was a heavenly body that emitted its own light.

But through my telescope the moon was clearly just a barren rock, pocked with craters. If the author of that fourth-century treatise were writing today, I’m sure he would write the chapter on cosmology differently.

If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.

For many years now, on my own and through the Mind and Life Institute, which I helped found, I have had the opportunity to meet with scientists to discuss their work. World-class scientists have generously coached me in subatomic physics, cosmology, psychology, biology.

It is our discussions of neuroscience, however, that have proved particularly important. From these exchanges a vigorous research initiative has emerged, a collaboration between monks and neuroscientists, to explore how meditation might alter brain function.

The goal here is not to prove Buddhism right or wrong – or even to bring people to Buddhism – but rather to take these methods out of the traditional context, study their potential benefits, and share the findings with anyone who might find them helpful.

After all, if practices from my own tradition can be brought together with scientific methods, then we may be able to take another small step toward alleviating human suffering.

Already this collaboration has borne fruit. Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, has published results from brain imaging studies of lamas meditating. He found that during meditation the regions of the brain thought to be related to happiness increase in activity. He also found that the longer a person has been a meditator, the greater the activity increase will be.

Other studies are under way. At Princeton University, Dr. Jonathan Cohen, a neuroscientist, is studying the effects of meditation on attention. At the University of California Medical School at San Francisco, Dr. Margaret Kemeny has been studying how meditation helps develop empathy in school teachers.

Whatever the results of this work, I am encouraged that it is taking place. You see, many people still consider science and religion to be in opposition. While I agree that certain religious concepts conflict with scientific facts and principles, I also feel that people from both worlds can have an intelligent discussion, one that has the power ultimately to generate a deeper understanding of challenges we face together in our interconnected world.

One of my first teachers of science was the German physicist Carl von Weizsäcker, who had been an apprentice to the quantum theorist Werner Heisenberg. Dr. Weizsäcker was kind enough to give me some formal tutorials on scientific topics. (I confess that while listening to him I would feel I could grasp the intricacies of the full argument, but when the sessions were over there was often not a great deal of his explanation left behind.)

What impressed me most deeply was how Dr. Weizsäcker worried about both the philosophical implications of quantum physics and the ethical consequences of science generally. He felt that science could benefit from exploring issues usually left to the humanities.

I believe that we must find a way to bring ethical considerations to bear upon the direction of scientific development, especially in the life sciences. By invoking fundamental ethical principles, I am not advocating a fusion of religious ethics and scientific inquiry.

Rather, I am speaking of what I call “secular ethics,” which embrace the principles we share as human beings: compassion, tolerance, consideration of others, the responsible use of knowledge and power. These principles transcend the barriers between religious believers and non-believers; they belong not to one faith, but to all faiths.

Today, our knowledge of the human brain and body at the cellular and genetic level has reached a new level of sophistication. Advances in genetic manipulation, for example, mean scientists can create new genetic entities – like hybrid animal and plant species – whose long-term consequences are unknown.

Sometimes when scientists concentrate on their own narrow fields, their keen focus obscures the larger effect their work might have. In my conversations with scientists I try to remind them of the larger goal behind what they do in their daily work.

This is more important than ever. It is all too evident that our moral thinking simply has not been able to keep pace with the speed of scientific advancement. Yet the ramifications of this progress are such that it is no longer adequate to say that the choice of what to do with this knowledge should be left in the hands of individuals.

This is a point I intend to make when I speak at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience today in Washington. I will suggest that how science relates to wider humanity is no longer of academic interest alone. This question must assume a sense of urgency for all those who are concerned about the fate of human existence.

A deeper dialogue between neuroscience and society – indeed between all scientific fields and society – could help deepen our understanding of what it means to be human and our responsibilities for the natural world we share with other sentient beings.

Just as the world of business has been paying renewed attention to ethics, the world of science would benefit from more deeply considering the implications of its own work. Scientists should be more than merely technically adept; they should be mindful of their own motivation and the larger goal of what they do: the betterment of humanity.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is the author of “The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality.”

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Contrary to the amiable realism of Tobetan Buddhism, however, it seems that Catholic resistance to eating the fruit of knowledge from the tree of science continues. At least, a pronouncement from Pope Benedict XVI at his audience on Wednesday is being taken by the press and by the ID movement in the US as support for their insistence that schoolkids be taught that the evolution is guided by the hand of some unseen intelligence.


The pope quoted St. Basil the Great, a fourth-century saint, as saying some people, “fooled by the atheism that they carry inside of them, imagine a universe free of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance.”

“How many of these people are there today? These people, fooled by atheism, believe and try to demonstrate that it’s scientific to think that everything is free of direction and order,” he said.

Evidently Benedict wants to credit God with the beauty and order of the universe, and according to the report from the AP ‘he focused his reflections for the audience on scriptural readings that said God’s love was seen in the “marvels of creation.”‘

Wait a minute, though. Is this support for creationism and its idea that different species sprang fully formed from the hand of God, rather than evolved from amoeba? Perhaps, but if it is it is not so explicit.

Seems to us that both parties are trying to have their cake and eat it, and that in this context this is fair enough. They want to live in the modern world, and accept its description by science. They also want to retain the moral and spiritual inspiration of religious belief.

But what is interesting is that they both noticeably avoid infringing on the territory of science. Both stop short of trying to merge science with faith. The Dalai Lama makes his discretion explicit, and the Pope expresses it by talking in vague generalities. Neither of them have any appetite for arguing with science. But both on the other hand want to do their job working for the benefit of humanity by promoting values and beliefs which will increase the sum of human happiness, and prevent science from destroying it.

This seems very different from the concerns of the ID gang, which seem narrow, anti-science and spiritually sterile by comparison. While the ID promoters seem only to want to undermine science and its standards, the Dalai Lama evidently cherishes science, and both he and the Pope aim to bring important human values into the thinking about how we use its discoveries, and curb the hubris which misleads us into believing that as we gain Godlike powers over destruction and creation, we also gain Godlike enlightenment about how those powers should be used.

What a pity that neither the Dalai Lama nor the Pope have any idea, presumably, about what is going on in AIDS, where the hubris of scientists and their followers in politics and in the field of health work has slipped the leash of reason to perpetrate a worldwide religion which is contradicted by the very Bible of science itself, the peer-reviewed literature.

If someone could tell them, they would certainly be reaffirmed in their conviction that scientists left to their own devices without moral influence can be a danger to the community.

But Alas they are insulated from such enlightenment by the very nature of their position of leadership, which involves being surrounded by advisors who are unlikely to listen to such claims, because like the media they rely on the leaders in AIDS to inform them, and never meet their critics, or read the scientific literature that might inform them of the issue.

In this connection we recall our own experience attending a couple of years ago the 400th anniversary meeting of the Papal Academy of Science, a body housed in its own little building inside the Vatican. The ailing Pope John Paul made a special effort to gave an audience to the gathering of distinguished scientists and their wives and observers attending the meeting, and each one joined a line and met the Pontiff briefly.

When it came to our turn we looked into the politically canny eyes of the great Pole as the Cardinal explained to him who we were, and for a brief instant considered taking advantage of an unprecedented opportunity to inform him directly of the egregious situation in AIDS science.

But of course it was impossible.

Pope Benedict XVI says universe was built as an ‘intelligent project’

Associated Press

Nov. 12, 2005 12:00 AM

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has waded into the evolution debate in the United States, saying the universe was made by an “intelligent project.”

He also criticized those who in the name of science say its creation was without direction or order.

The pontiff made the comments during his general audience Wednesday. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published the full text of his remarks in its Thursday editions.

He focused his reflections for the audience on scriptural readings that said God’s love was seen in the “marvels of creation.”

The pope quoted St. Basil the Great, a fourth-century saint, as saying some people, “fooled by the atheism that they carry inside of them, imagine a universe free of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance.”

“How many of these people are there today? These people, fooled by atheism, believe and try to demonstrate that it’s scientific to think that everything is free of direction and order,” he said.

“With the sacred Scripture, the Lord awakens the reason that sleeps and tells us: In the beginning, there was the creative word. In the beginning, the creative word, this word that created everything and created this intelligent project that is the cosmos, is also love.”

His comments were immediately hailed by advocates of intelligent design, who hold that the universe is so complex it must have been created by a higher power.

Proponents of the theory are seeking to get U.S. public schools to teach it as part of the science curriculum.

Critics say that intelligent design is merely creationism, a literal reading of the Bible’s story of creation, camouflaged in scientific language and does not belong in science curriculum.

New York Times calls creationist teaching “lunacy” – but not AIDS

November 10th, 2005

With the eight members of the school board in Dover, Pa. who were pushing for Intelligent Design as part of the curriculum abruptly given the royal boot at the polls, the New York Times editorial board is moved today (Fri Nov 10) to call the whole idea “lunacy.”

We are somewhat disappointed at the failure of the iniative since as noted earlier we strongly support the teaching of ID along with evolution in every school from kindergarten thru K12. Our reason is simple enough. Even the youngest schoolkid will surely notice the difference between the hours the teachers will have to devote to evolution to get across its basics, and the thirty seconds it will take to teach the whole of ID ie a single sentence along the lines of “The things we don’t understand in evolution are due to the intervention of God, and we have no idea how He does it.”

The editorial points out, however, that there is still a state-wide problem in Kansas, where the State Board of Education has left evolution in the curriculum “science standards”, but added criticisms of the theory and changed the definition of ‘science’ to allow supernatural causes.


… the current board has narrowly approved new science standards that leave evolution in place but add specific criticisms that schools are urged to teach. Most significant, the definition of science is changed so it is not limited to natural explanations.

The standards, which define the material to be covered in statewide science tests, won’t take effect until 2007 at the earliest. That leaves time for the electorate to once again dump the board members responsible for this lunacy.

Strong word, ‘lunacy’. We applaud this decisive rejection of part of the trendy modern effort to merge science and religion on an “I’m OK You’re OK” basis. That is to say, when the Times goes so far as to call this creeping merger of the two in the realm of classroom teaching “lunacy”, we take it as indicating that they have no interest whatsoever in appeasing the religious wherever good science should rule unsullied by unprovable fantasy.

What we would like to know now is, does this principle apply also to the pages of the Times?

That is to say, given this editorial writer’s impressive, take-no-prisoners stand on behalf of good science dare we suggest that the Times editors now turn and examine their own coverage of science in the field of HIV?AIDS, and make sure that a similar unwarranted merging of science and religion hasn’t taken hold in its own pages?

After all, we have now had two decades of uncritical coverage slavishly conveying to the readers of the Times the inconsistent, irrational, unproven, and unproductive claims of the HIV?AIDS paradigm, a gospel which was barely launched back in the eighties before it was subjected to withering and apparently intellectually fatal criticism in review articles in Cancer Research and the Proceedings of the National Academy, peer-reviewed articles which were never directly answered by any peer-reviewed response in the same journals.

Has there ever been any acknowledgement by the Times of this wholesale refutation of HIV?AIDS theory, an unrefuted refutation which has been visible in the best scientific literature for twenty years, and frequently updated? Barely. We would certainly bet that no Times reader has readily got that idea from the Times coverage of HIV?AIDS, which has mentioned its existence hardly five times in the nineteen years since.

On the contrary, the Times’ reporting has seen fit to dismiss skepticism in HIV?AIDS science virtually out of hand whenever it has mentioned it, which is seldom, meanwhile including the phrase “HIV the virus that causes AIDS” like some kind of instructional mantra in every article it publishes on the topic of AIDS.

What politics is it that moves the Times editors to back the ruling paradigm in AIDS and scorn the critique when (we would bet) none of them have the level of expertise in the field of the chief heretic in AIDS science, Peter Duesberg of Berkeley, and none of them (we would bet) have read much if any of the critique, let alone considered it with the level of attention that it deserves?

What hubris is it that moves the editors of the newspaper of record to squelch the professional curiosity that should be aroused by the enduring challenge in the best scientific literature to the paradigm in HIV?AIDS sustained by a Berkeley scientist of impeccable reputation, whose papers have never otherwise been challenged, a member of the National Academy whose achievements were acknowledged in a letter in Nature to be worthy of a Nobel?

How is it that these editors in their wisdom prefer to accept the view of scientists and bureaucrats who benefit in reputation, position and money from their support of this repeatedly questioned paradigm, and dispense with any reporting on the scientists who despite great penalty in each of these dimensions stick to their guns in rejecting the paradigm even as it spreads like a giant psychedelic mushroom to cover the entire globe?

How very sophisticated they must be, these Times editors, to know without much research or expertise in the science of the field, but using their brilliantly illuminating intuition born of years of reporting and editing in other fields, so clearly to see that the established, universally believed and funded paradigm must be valid, and the objections of a few thousand holdouts, however credentialed, not worth reporting.

(A list of those who support a review of HIV?AIDS science on the ground that the science currently makes no sense is here. Those who have gone on record with worthwhile quotes are here, with the quotes.)

How uncannily the Times editors have found the right way through this thicket of scientific reasoning, despite their lack of personal research and absence of Times reporting on an issue that they have hardly investigated in print even though it involves the welfare of millions around the world and the expenditure of billions in public and private funds based on this paradigm which they perceive so unerringly must be correct.

How astonishing that they know the correct answer even though their own news stories contain enough challenges to common sense that one would think that any editor dealing with them would at least ask what the heck was going on, if not actually smell a rat. One example, obvious to any thinking reader, is the extraordinary discrepancy between AIDS as gay plague in the US and in Europe, and as heterosexual pandemic in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

Apparently, however, the editors of the Times are too busy playing office politics or too addled by the cosy sensation of insider status flowing from their position and the close connection of their chief AIDS reporter, Larry Altman, to the CDC that trained him, and too pleased at their respectful treatment by the officials of the NIH led by Anthony “Don’t dare mention Duesberg” Fauci, to have noticed that the HIV?AIDS theoretical monster has two heads facing in opposite directions.

One would think that in the aftermath of Judith Miller’s somewhat misleading pre-war reporting on the chances of Saddam Hussein’s hiding weapons of mass destruction, and her final exit this week, only slightly less embarrassing than the wreckage done to the Times’ reputation for accuracy by the antics of Jason Blair, that executive editor Bill Keller, managing editor Jill Abrahamson and other key editors might be open to hints that they review the performance of their AIDS reporters.

It is in this spirit of optimism that we are drafting a less impolite version of this post to send to these media princes and princesses in the dim hope that they might act. But we are not betting on it.

The New York Times

November 10, 2005

Editorial

Evolution and the Electorate

Voters in Dover, Pa., came to their senses this week and tossed out almost the entire school board, which had tried to discredit the theory of evolution and steer students toward the theory of “intelligent design” – the idea that life forms are so complex that a higher being must have made them. Let’s hope the voters in Kansas follow suit next year by ejecting several benighted members of the State Board of Education, which has just approved new science standards that open the way for supernatural explanations of natural phenomena.

The Dover schools are the first in the nation to require that attention be paid to intelligent design. Administrators read a brief statement to biology classes asserting that evolution was only a theory, that intelligent design provided an alternative explanation and that a book on intelligent design was available in the library. That roundabout effort to undermine the teaching of evolution has been challenged as unconstitutional in the courts, with a verdict expected by early January.

Meanwhile, Kansas seems to be veering once again toward supernatural science. Six years ago, the Kansas State Board of Education gutted its statewide science standards to eliminate evolution as an explanation for the development of humanity, and tossed out the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe as well. That madness was reversed the following year, when voters dumped three of the conservative board members responsible.

Now the current board has narrowly approved new science standards that leave evolution in place but add specific criticisms that schools are urged to teach. Most significant, the definition of science is changed so it is not limited to natural explanations.

The standards, which define the material to be covered in statewide science tests, won’t take effect until 2007 at the earliest. That leaves time for the electorate to once again dump the board members responsible for this lunacy.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


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