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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Theory of intelligent design disproven – Onion

December 28th, 2005

According to the most reliable news source on the planet, a lesser known theory of intelligent design was exploded by the actions of the Dover School board this year.

Theory of Intelligent School-Board Design Disproven

The Onion

December 28, 2005 | Issue 41•52

DOVER, PA—The controversial “theory of intelligent school-board design,” which holds that local school boards are “imbued by their creator with minds of irreducible complexity,” was decisively disproven by the actions of the Dover School Board this week. “The ignorant and incompetent decisions of this school board clearly indicate that their opinions are not informed by any sort of higher intelligence,” said Dover citizen Hank Jervis, one of thousands of locals currently mobilizing to oust the current school board in the next scheduled elections. “Obviously, there is no all-knowing, all-powerful superintendent guiding their demonstrably incorrect policies.” Critics of the theory argue that the new evidence supports the alternate view that school boards, instead of being created perfect and without error, rather evolved over the eons out of a morass of political, social, and religious special-interest groups, some of which are better-suited to adapt to change than others.

Christmas present for the Libyan held doctors and nurses – a retrial

December 27th, 2005

The spirit of Christmas has smiled on the Bulgarian nurses in Libya who were waiting to be executed for looking after children who tested positive for the “AIDS virus”. They are to get a new trial, and their death sentence has been lifted.


Libya lifts ‘HIV medics’ sentence

(BBC) Libya’s supreme court has overturned death sentences on six foreign health workers who were charged with infecting Libyan children with HIV. It has also ordered a retrial of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor in a lower court.

The six were sentenced to death in May 2004 for infecting 426 children with the HIV virus in the city of Benghazi. They have always maintained they are innocent. Bulgaria, the US and the European Union had urged their release.

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This comes after Bulgaria went along with the blackmail request of Libyan authorities to trade the lives of these innocents for a sum of money large enough to balance the penalty Libya was forced to pay for its useless and appalling killing of hundreds of airline passengers in the Lockerbie downing.

Presumably if the funds get transferred Libya will eventually stop persecuting these unfortunate angels of mercy whose only mistake was to trust the Libyan authorities.

Even the HIV=AIDS crowd argues that it was unhygienic conditions at the hospitals that are the real problem being covered up in this diversion. But without the HIV=AIDS superstition (for that is what it is, according to the current scientific review literature) there would be no belief system to back any accusation at all, of course.

But perhaps one shouldn’t blame the Libyan officials entirely. The original New York Times report from October (below) is attached to remind us how the ignorance and superstition of the Libyan prosecutors merely mirrors the scientific confusion in the medical minds at work in the hospitals of the country, as advised by the WHO and Luc Montagnier.

Perhaps the case will turn out to have a silver lining after all – the arguments presented in the court case, if they are translated and published for the world to read, may expose this confusion and the inconsistency of the HIV?AIDS paradigm to the public gaze more clearly than ever before.

After all, lawyers in court deal in reason and evidence and it seems likely that the questionable nature of the HIV?AIDS paradigm may emerge under the spotlight, and that at least one or two of the representatives of the Western press in attendance may notice.

On the other hand their editors may have no stomach for that line of enquiry, even if it is called to their attention. And the source – Libya – is already tainted by its absurd prosecution of the Bulgarians.

A complete report from UPI is Nurses to be re-tried in Libya:

Analysis: Nurses to be re-tried in Libya

UPI – Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 11:27:59 AM EST By ROLAND FLAMINI, UPI Chief International Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) — Later this week, officials from the United States, Britain, Bulgaria and Libya are expected to reach agreement on a compensation package that is the reverse image of a similar settlement from five years ago, even if in very different circumstances. The negotiations in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, are due to resume Dec 28 to agree on financial assistance for the families of 426 Libyan children infected with HIV/AIDS in a hospital in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, seven or eight years ago, the exact date being a key factor in the ensuing court case.

The amount mentioned in the international media with a reasonable degree of reliability is $10 million per family. From all accounts the money will be paid by Bulgaria, with European Union support, because five Bulgarian nurses working in Libya were originally tried and sentenced to death before a firing squad in connection with the mass infection. Britain is negotiating on the EU’s behalf: It holds the rotating EU presidency.

The mirror image is derived the fact that slightly more than a year ago the Libyan government agreed to a $2.7 billion compensation settlement to the American and other families of the 270 victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which crashed on the Scottish village of Lockerbie. The agreement worked out as roughly $10 million per family. Two Libyan officials were indicted on charges of planning the terrorist attack.

This week’s expected deal comes after the Libyan Supreme Court on Sunday overturned the death sentences of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor and ordered a new trial having found “irregularities” in the old one. Although the lower court trial had been widely criticized by observers as a travesty of justice, and the Bulgarians claimed that some confessions had been obtained under considerable duress, the decision of the country’s highest court had been far from a foregone conclusion, and might even have been something of a surprise, particularly for its speed and clarity. An informed source said the court seemed to have acted independently and was not following “a directive from the tent,” that is from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who likes to spend time in a Bedouin tent in the desert.

U.S. Department of State spokesman Justin Higgins welcomed the verdict overturning the death sentences Sunday and said, “A way should be found to allow the medics to return to Bulgaria and Palestine.” In Sofia, Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov said, “We hope that the swiftness and the effectiveness demonstrated by the Libyan courts…will help solve the case as soon as possible.”

The case unfolded against the background of a series of important developments in Libya’s emergence from its isolation in the international community imposed by the punitive U.N. sanctions following the Lockerbie bombing.

In 1998, 19 Bulgarian nurses and two Palestinian doctors were arrested in connection with an outbreak of the HIV/AIDS virus among children in the Al Fatah hospital in Benghazi. A year later, 13 of the Bulgarians were released, but six nurses — one was later acquitted — and a Palestinian doctor were subsequently charged together with nine Libyans with deliberately infecting the 426 children with HIV-infected blood products as part of an international conspiracy managed by a foreign intelligence service.

At the time, Gadhafi was still refusing to hand over for trial under Scottish law the two officials who were alleged to have planned the Pan Am bombing. But by the time the trial began in July 2003, the situation had changed dramatically. The Lockerbie tribunal had ended with the conviction of one of the two Libyans and the acquittal of the other, and talks had begun on compensation for the families of the Pan Am 103 victims. Equally significant, Gadhafi had made his historic offer to the United States to abandon his nuclear weapons program and to renounce the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.

The international community was able to shift away from sanctions, but the trial was a road block on the way to diplomatic conciliation.

From the start, the case against the medical workers had been highly questionable, and became more so as the lower court trial progressed. Two AIDS experts, Luc Montagnier and Vittorio Colizzi, testified the virus was a rare type prevalent in West Africa. They estimated the outbreak had started in 1997, that is, before the arrival of the Bulgarian medical workers, when an infected child was brought in for treatment of another condition. Poor standards of hygiene in the hospital had led to an infection of the blood product subsequently used on other children. But in May 2004, the six medical workers were found guilty by the Benghazi court and sentenced to death before a firing squad.

The verdict produced a wave of international protest, and a flurry of diplomatic activity by the EU and Washington. Libya was anxious to find a way out of the impasse, but the case had generated much emotion in Libya. The families of the affected children — 50 young AIDS victims have since died — had organized, and were demanding the conviction of the Bulgarian nurses. Another problem was that Benghazi, a traditional rival of Tripoli, resented any attempt by the central government to overturn the verdict. At one point, Bulgarian media reported Libyan and other Arab officials had urged Sofia to demonstrate its support for the Arab world by withdrawing its support of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy. The Bulgarians refused to pull out of the U.S.-led coalition, and kept their military contingent in Iraq. “I would not like to think that the Bulgarian position on the Iraq crisis will influence relations between Bulgaria and Libya,” President Purvanov said at the time.

When Libya first proposed compensation to the victims as a way of easing the public opposition, the Bulgarians saw it as blood money and an implied admission the nurses were guilty. Still, discussions went ahead involving the Moammar Gadhafi Foundation, which is run by the leader’s son Seif al-Islam, on the one hand, and Bulgaria, the EU, and the United States on the other. With Sunday’s Supreme Court verdict in effect taking the process back to square one, the question of the nurses’ responsibility has been separated from the tragedy of the children and the issue of compensation, as the Bulgarians had wanted.

There was speculation Tuesday that following the Supreme Court’s severe public criticism of the government’s case, the prosecutors may decide not to insist on a new trial, and the Bulgarians will be quietly released. Yet another possibility is that a new trial will be held outside Libya.

But the Supreme Court’s verdict removes another in the series of leftover problems standing in the way of full resumption of diplomatic relations between Washington and Libya that are in any case wanting only the exchange of ambassadors. It also brings Gadhafi closer to a new relationship with the world.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

All rights reserved.

Libyan Court Delays H.I.V. Case Verdict:

December 23, 2001

Libyan Court Delays H.I.V. Case Verdict

A Libyan court postponed its verdict today in the case of six Bulgarians and a Palestinian, all doctors and nurses, accused of injecting 393 children with H.I.V.-contaminated blood.

It was the second time in four months that the judges had postponed their verdict. They were originally scheduled to hand down a ruling in September.

The chairman of the three-judge panel said the postponement was necessary ”to review the files of evidence further.” The verdict is now scheduled for Feb. 17, he said.

The indictment said the infection was part of a conspiracy by foreign intelligence to undermine Libya’s security and its role in the Arab world and Africa.

One of the defense lawyers for the group criticized the move.

”The adjournment creates additional tension and has a bad effect on the health of the defendants,” the lawyer, Vladimir Sheitanov, told the Bulgarian news agency BTA from the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The defendants have been in custody since early 1999.

The five Bulgarian nurses, a Bulgarian doctor and a Palestinian doctor have said they are not guilty of charges of murder and conspiracy.

Prosecutors charged them with giving blood contaminated with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, to 393 children at Al-Fateh hospital in Benghazi. Twenty-three children reportedly developed AIDS and died.

If convicted, they could be condemned to death.

Nine Libyans are also on trial in the case, charged with negligence.

The long-running trial, which began in February 1999, has drawn international criticism.

Critics charge that Libya may be trying to divert attention from horrendous conditions at state-run hospitals. The defense lawyer, Othman el-Bezanti, told the court that the infections stemmed from poor hygiene at the hospital and the reuse of syringes.

Bulgaria accused Libya of holding a political trial and repeatedly called for an independent team of international experts to study the case and testify. The court refused to allow expert opinion from Switzerland and France.

The human rights group Amnesty International said there were ”serious irregularities” in pretrial proceedings.

Many Bulgarian doctors and engineers work in Libya, where salaries are higher than in Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian foreign minister, Solomon Pasi, was in Tripoli today, but the Bulgarian Embassy denied that he had come to hear the verdict.

Bulgaria said it welcomed the court’s decision to delay the verdict.

”For us, the delay is encouraging as it means that as of today there is no solid evidence that could warrant the most severe sentences,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

The delay ”means the court is considering all facts seriously and the door remains open for a favorable outcome,” the spokeswoman said.

Justice Minister Anton Stankov, a former judge, agreed.

”This is a positive sign,” he said. ”From my experience I know that long delays are always favorable for the defendants. We view the court’s decision for a new delay as a sign of its determination to uncover the truth.”

* Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Here is the long New York Times article from October 17, Time Is Short for Bulgarian Nurses Facing Death in Libya:

NYTimes

FOREIGN DESK

Time Is Short for Bulgarian Nurses Facing Death in Libya

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL; MATTHEW BRUNWASSER CONTRIBUTED REPORTING FOR THIS ARTICLE. ( International Herald Tribune ) 1117 words

Published: October 17, 2005

In 1998, at a time when her country was mired in hyperinflation, Valya Chervenyashka left her rural Bulgarian village and went to work as a nurse in Benghazi, Libya, for $250 a month, to pay for her daughters’ college educations.

Today, Ms. Chervenyashka and four other Bulgarian nurses, as well as a Palestinian doctor whose family moved to Libya in 1967, are under death sentence in a Libyan jail and could face a firing squad. They are accused of intentionally infecting more than 400 hospitalized Libyan children with the AIDS virus, in order, according to the initial indictment, to undermine Libyan state security.

They were also charged with working for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service.

”Nurses from little towns in Bulgaria acting as agents of Mossad?” said Antoanetta Ouzounova, 28, one of Ms. Chervenyashka’s two daughters. ”It all sounds funny and absurd until you realize your mother could die for it.” Although the motive of subversion has been dropped, the death sentence stands. The Libyan Supreme Court is to hear the nurses’ final appeal on Nov. 15.

With that date approaching, President Georgi Parvanov of Bulgaria plans to raise the case at a meeting with President Bush in Washington on Monday, Bulgarian officials say. International AIDS specialists, including Dr. Luc Montagnier, who discovered the AIDS virus, have traveled to Libya to study the situation and have testified that the children were infected as a result of poor sanitary practices at the hospital, Al Fateh Children’s Hospital, in Benghazi. The nurses have testified that they were tortured in the months after their arrest in 1999.

In a handwritten 2003 declaration to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, one, Snezhana Dimitrova, described part of the torture. ”They tied my hands behind my back,” she wrote. ”Then they hung me from a door. It feels like they are stretching you from all sides. My torso was twisted and my shoulders were dislocated from their joints from time to time. The pain cannot be described. The translator was shouting, ‘Confess or you will die here.”’

For seven years the nurses’ plight has simmered on the back burner of international politics, especially since Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, renounced terrorism and nuclear weapons in 2003.

Last year, even as Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, and Romano Prodi, then president of the European Commission, were protesting the case, the commission invited Colonel Qaddafi to Brussels for lunch, and the United States lifted the trade embargo against Libya.

But with time running out, negotiations to secure the nurses’ release are ”not moving well,” Ivailo Kalfin, the Bulgarian foreign minister, said in a recent interview here.

Solomon Passy, leader of the Committee on Foreign Policy of the Bulgarian National Assembly and a former foreign minister who has visited Libya five times on the case, said Bulgaria needed more international support, calling the nurses ”hostages.”

”The Libyans need to know they won’t get carrots, like they won’t get taken off the terrorist list, until they release the nurses,” he said. Libya remains on the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism. If the nurses were Italian or British or American, some diplomats say, the case would have provoked a major international protest.

Mr. Kalfin, the foreign minister, said with a shrug, ”It is one thing when Britain raises an issue; it is another when Bulgaria raises it.”

Libyan officials have suggested that Bulgaria pay $10 million in compensation for each of the 420 children Libya accuses the nurses of infecting, according to Bulgarian and European Union diplomats, saying the families might then express forgiveness toward the nurses and ask for dismissal of the court case, a procedure permitted under Islamic law. The Libyans drew parallels to compensation payments the Libyan government agreed to make to families of the 270 people killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the work of Libyan agents.

The Bulgarian government has rejected the idea, Mr. Kalfin said, adding that it was absurd to compare the nurses to terrorists, and that Bulgaria would not pay ”blood money since the nurses are not guilty.”

Still, a senior European Union diplomat, speaking of covert activities on condition of anonymity, said there had been extensive ”underground meetings” about a payment. Hoping to broker a deal, the European Union has sent diplomats and medical teams to Libya to study and consult on AIDS. It has flown dozens of children to Europe from Libya for medical treatment and held training sessions for doctors in Libya.

Bulgaria recently agreed to send Libya 20 of the 50 pieces of medical equipment it had requested, and even offered to restructure the $27 million in Libyan debt it holds.

Around the time the doctor and nurses were arrested, a team of World Health Organization doctors was dispatched to study Libya’s rapidly growing AIDS problem. Its internal report, which was provided to a reporter by an official, said the factor ”mainly responsible for the current epidemic” was the accidental spread of the virus in medical procedures. It added that sterile supplies and better equipment were needed.

Three years later, Dr. Montagnier was hired by Colonel Qaddafi’s son to reconstruct what had happened at Al Fateh Children’s Hospital.

”Some of the children were infected before the Bulgarian nurses even arrived, and others after they left,” Dr. Montagnier said in a recent telephone interview. He said most of the children were also infected with various subtypes of hepatitis C, which can be transmitted to children only by injection, clear evidence that ”there were many errors in hygiene in this hospital at the time.”

But at the trial, in 2004, a group of medical specialists from Benghazi disputed the Montagnier report.

Dr. Montagnier said that testimony ”contained many mistakes showing that they didn’t understand much about H.I.V.,” the virus that causes AIDS.

”The hospital,” he said, ”needed a scapegoat.”

Photos: Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were convicted in 2004 of infecting children with the AIDS virus at a hospital in Libya. At left, Ashour al-Sultani contracted the virus at the hospital in 1998 and transmitted it to his mother, Juma al-Sheikhi. (Photo by Yousef Al-Ajely/Associated Press); (Photo by Jehad Nga for The New York Times)

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Politically savvy medical columnist covers AIDS skeptics

December 20th, 2005

Independent analyst makes radical proposal

A seasoned New York based medical columnist with long experience of medical politics, Marcus Cohen, has completed a five article survey of the establishment of the HIV=AIDS paradigm over the last two decades, and concluded that the unproven theory contains too many inconsistencies to be accepted without question.

Writing in the monthly Townsend Letter, a respectable, multi page (133 pages in the new issue for Jan 2006) print and Web journal serving doctors and patients with coverage of alternative medicine, Cohen has completed five articles in a series on AIDS of which the final and latest instalment AIDS in Africa: Medical Neocolonialism? is up today on the web site of the Townsend Letter at Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients. (For full text see below – click ‘Show’ at end of post).

Cohen lives on the Upper East Side of New York, just off Fifth Avenue, and he has considerable experience of medical politics in New York State, having taken an active part in supporting the cause of Emanuel Revici, the cancer specialist who treated patients with a still unique alternative therapy.

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SPECIAL NOTE: Emanuel Revici’s therapy consisted of fatty compounds – lipids – designed to convey trace elements and minerals such as selenium to the patient, delivering high amounts with reduced potential toxicity. Revici had a long and successful career in Europe in the twenties and thirties and America from the forties to the nineties, but was persecuted by the medical authorities who mounted a legal attack on his unorthodox treatments, and took away his license. Other doctors at his center continued to administer his therapy.

Revici died at the age of 101 in 1998, but not before Cohen played a role as patient advocate in a movement which helped to restore his license in 1997, after winning over the state legislature, the governor and New York State Board of Regents.

One reason for that vindication was that Revici’s regimen was successfully tested in Belgium at the University of Louvain by Joseph Maisin, a established figure who was the director of the cancer institute there, and the president of the mainstream International Union Against Cancer. He reported that nine of 12 terminal cancer patients responded to Revici’s regimen with a dramatic improvement.

Revici admirers claim that the main reason his approach has not made headway in the US in the years since Revici’s death is that the large scale studies the FDA requires for approval are not financially viable for commercial companies since his nutritional approach cannot be patented.

This story is worth mentioning here since Revici also reportedly gained good results with AIDS patients with the his lipid-based delivery of selenium, zinc and other essential trace nutrients, as long as the patients did not also take AZT as prescribed by their GPs, as some did without informing Revici. Interestingly enough, the same Revici anti-viral therapy was applied to the parading Lipizzaner horses of Vienna, with equal benefit, supporters claim.

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As a result of this experience, Cohen deplores the current situation in New York where any practicing licensed GP is unable to try out unorthodox treatments, including even standard nutrient regimens, without risking being threatened with loss of license by the medical establishment.

Cohen is also an expert on Lyme disease and the author of the recent Lyme Disease Update: Science Policy and Law (Lyme Disease Association, 2004) with a foreword by Brian Fallon of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

With experience of the excessive bias towards conventional wisdom in medical practice in New York, which precludes doctors from independent initiative by threatening them with loss of license, Cohen was primed to approach the HIV?AIDS paradigm debate with an open mind. The result of his research and personal interviews with leading scientific dissidents is that he concludes in his series that the HIV=AIDS paradigm is due for serious review, and alternatives should be considered.

His survey of HIV?AIDS includes interviews with AIDS critic Celia Farber of SPIN, Gear, and Esquire, Michael Ellner, founder of HEAL (Health Education AIDS Liaison) and a professional hypnotist whose view of HIV?AIDS as a mass scientific and medical delusion was formed in the very beginning of the epidemic, and Roberto Giraldo, pictured here left, an MD trained in internal medicine, specialist in tropical diseases, well known critic of HIV=AIDS and passionate advocate of nutritional factors from South America whose current longtime position as a technologist in the laboratories of clinical immunology and molecular diagnosis at a major hospital in New York City gives him an informed perspective on one key to the paradigm’s claims – he is in charge of HIV tests.

Cohen writes that he doubts media reports on AIDS in Africa are an accurate guide to what is happening on that continent, and repeats the main points of Peter Duesberg’s critique for his readers. He picks up on the point that the transmission rate for heteropsexuals is far too slow to support an epidemic, and points to the huge amount of money which is distorting the choice of treatment of patients:


I would add about the children that such treatment, lacking at the very least a positive HIV antibody test, is also unethical.

Apart from Duesberg’s critique, it’s worth calling attention to mainstream studies which show that it requires an average of 1,000 sex acts between discordant heterosexual couples (one HIV-positive, the other negative) to pass along the virus – an impossibly slow, ludicrously ineffective transmission rate.3

Finally, there is the corrosive power of the colossal amount of money invested everywhere in AIDS research and treatment. Celia Farber and other keen observers of the African AIDS scene have supplied examples aplenty of the lavish sums available to AIDS research and treatment facilities, to African MDs for attending AIDS conferences, in comparison with the paltry funds doled out to deal with historical sub-Saharan African diseases related to malnutrition, poverty, and unhealthy sanitation.4 Imagine under such circumstances the temptation for Africans dependant on healthcare for a living to draw the AIDS net around as many people as possible . . .

A radical but wise proposal

Cohen ends his survey of HIV?AIDS with this excellent prescription for Africa, more radical than any proposed by HIV?AIDS questioners so far:

Morally, the constructive course to follow in sub-Saharan Africa on AIDS would be for the developed nations of the world to provide or lend money to African countries: leave these countries to move forward with desperately needed improvements in sanitation, to rebuild infrastructures that bring adequate medical care to citizens afflicted by poverty-related diseases, to relieve conditions that breed malnutrition (which perpetuates susceptibility to the many illnesses that have ravaged Africa for centuries).

Above all, first wait and see if such improvements lower the death rates among Africans. Then, if the alarming rise in deaths reported in recent years doesn’t abate, consider HIV as a possible reason, and lend money on the stipulation that it must be used to block the spread of AIDS. Then, but only then, get on with the condomizing of sub-Saharan Africa, of every “underdeveloped” nation on the globe where AIDS has manifested.

Perhaps a copy of this Townsend Letter column by Marcus Cohen should be forwarded to Bill Gates, before that well meaning philanthropist shovels more millions to Africa to finance AIDS drugs in what is otherwise a world changing, life-giving initiative of his foundation.

Of course, in a way Gates will actually help to carry out Cohen’s prescription since his aid is directed agaist other diseases than AIDS, especially malaria, and will help to improve the African health infrastructure generally.

If HIV is as wrong a candidate for causing immune deficiency as the top level reviews in the literature indicate, it will be a sad irony if Gates’ efforts are at cross purposes because no one has brought the dissidents in AIDS to his attention, and made sure that he is properly advised that the heresy is not crackpot but very intelligent and informed, and not so far dealt with, let alone dismissed by any serious scientific response.

This is the state of affairs which is apparent to any impartial and thoughtful observer who examines the state of affairs in HIV?AIDS for themselves, as Maruc Cohen demonstrates.

Here is Cohen’s latest column, AIDS in Africa: Medical Neocolonialism?

From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients

January 2006

Townsend’s New York Observer

by Marcus A. Cohen

AIDS in Africa: Medical Neocolonialism?

There is an approach which asks why is this President of South Africa trying to give legitimacy to discredited scientists, because after all, all the questions of science concerning this matter had been resolved by the year 1984. I don’t know of any science that gets resolved in that manner with a cut-off year beyond which science does not develop any further. It sounds like a biblical absolute truth, and I do not imagine that science consists of biblical absolute truths.

—Thabo Mbeki, President, South Africa, opening address, first meeting of Presidential Advisory Panel on AIDS, Pretoria, May 6, 2000

AIDS, HIV, and anti-retroviral drugs had seldom blipped across my healthcare radar before last summer, when I cautiously wrote my first column on these polarized, politicized topics, an interview with medical hypnotist Michael Ellner, president of HEAL (Townsend, Aug./Sept. 2005). The column on Ellner dwelt on his experience during the early period of AIDS, starting in 1981 with the initial CDC report about the appearance of this illness in five gay men in Los Angeles. Oriented toward nutritional treatment for AIDS, Ellner mostly observed a relatively small subculture of the New York City gay community, whose lifestyle included frequent anal sex and heavy use of nitrites (“poppers”) and other recreational drugs. The column ended with Ellner’s recollections of the effects of AZT on people diagnosed with AIDS, right after treatment with this highly toxic drug became the mainstream regimen (1987), and many patients on the original high dosage died.

An interview with Dr. Roberto Giraldo followed (Townsend, Oct.). Giraldo, a specialist in internal medicine, had predicted the emergence of AIDS among US gays while practicing in his native Colombia in the late 1970s. Giraldo had extensively read studies about the sexual and drug habits of gay men in the U.S. and Europe, and warned that continuation of their lifestyle would result in the complete collapse of the immune system. Giraldo maintained, and still maintains, that the immune deficiency characteristic of AIDS is mainly a toxic reaction to the abuse of recreational drugs and the often-accompanying malnourishment; he’s never bought into the theory that HIV is the cause of this condition. My column on Giraldo ended with his relocation to the US in the late 1980s.

My next two columns on AIDS focused on sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in the 1990s (Townsend, Nov. and Dec.). These featured two field reports from Africa by investigative journalist Celia Farber, published in 1993, and Farber’s memories and reflections on polarized responses to her efforts to get at the truth about African AIDS. She offered the latter at an interview in Manhattan, her home base, this Sept.

As I begin the fifth in this unexpected series of columns on AIDS, summing up the situation in Africa, my acquaintance with the medical literature and journalism1 about this illness has broadened. Still, I have reservations about the validity of much data for AIDS incidence, transmission, and mortality in Africa. And I’m still stuck on crucial questions concerning the accuracy of the media coverage and analyses of the African AIDS scene, particularly those originating in the West.

The Medical Establishment View of AIDS in Africa

Mainstream medicine’s position on the cause and treatment for African AIDS is the same as it is elsewhere around the globe: Since 1984, HIV has been presumed to be the infectious agent. Since 1996, AZT and protease inhibitors, in tandem, have constituted the presumed proper treatment.

How AIDS is defined, diagnosed, and thought to spread in Africa differ markedly from the definition, criteria for diagnosis, and people at greatest risk in the US, Europe, and certain developed nations elsewhere in the world. My third column on AIDS (Nov. Townsend) detailed these differences.

Here, I must stress that the varying definitions have fostered the AIDS establishment’s hypotheses that the illness mainly transmits heterosexually in Africa. Foremost among the reasons put forward: unusual promiscuity, and the supposedly common practice of “dry sex” (see my December column for the latter). Pregnant women and nursing mothers are thought to transmit HIV to fetuses and children.

I must also emphasize that the belief in heterosexual transmission has engendered a corollary belief of sorts: HIV is rampantly epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, threatening to depopulate a number of countries if unchecked by anti-retroviral drug therapy.

Critiques of Mainstream Positions on African AIDS

Research literature is available on the prevalent views of African AIDS. Were I to review these studies here, it might well lead to yet another column on the subject. Were I to critique the AIDS establishment’s positions as briefly as possible, in addition to the likelihood of oversimplifying them, I would plunge myself in a medical, political whirlpool where only adept swimmers should venture. Instead, I’ll toss the critiquing to experts who doubt that HIV causes AIDS, contend that the toxicity of anti-retroviral drugs outweighs possible therapeutic benefits, and scoff at the idea of any heterosexually transmitted AIDS pandemic in Africa.

Professor Peter Duesberg is the most frequently cited debunker of HIV causation, the first distinguished scientist to publish a major challenge to the cardinal tenets of AIDS orthodoxy.2 Duesberg presented a paper to the second meeting of the AIDS panel convened by South Africa President Mbeki in Pretoria, June 22, 2000. He titled it, “The African AIDS Epidemic: New and Contagious – Or – Old Under a New Name?”

Before zeroing in on African AIDS, Duesberg described elements that historical microbial and viral epidemics had in common, listed in contrast characteristics of diseases caused by factors which were chemical or non-contagious or physical, and summarized in comparison the characteristics of AIDS in the US and Europe.

He then analyzed AIDS in Africa, to see whether it measures up to the historical and epidemiological literature, basing his analyses on data from the WHO in Geneva, the UN, the US Agency for International Development, and the US Census Bureau. I’ll paraphrase some of his most astute points and conclusions.

1. AIDS in Africa is not following the bell-shaped curve of an exponential rise and subsequent steep drop with immunity of historical infectious epidemics. Rather, it “drags on like an environmentally or nutritionally induced disease,” evidently affecting a very small segment of the African population.

2. AIDS in Africa accounts for roughly 75,000 out of a total of approximately 12,300, 000 deaths per year, 0.6% of all mortality.

3. “It is impossible to distinguish clinically African AIDS [defined chiefly by the Bangui definition] from previously recognized, concurrently diagnosed, conventional African diseases.” Unlike microbial conditions, African AIDS is clinically unspecific, more like certain chemically and nutritionally caused illnesses.

4. Estimated increases in HIV antibody-positive Africans do not seem to correlate with decreases in population in any African nation. They correlate instead with unprecedented simultaneous increases in population. The population of Africa has leaped from 274 million (1960), to 356 million (1970), to 469 million (1980), to 616 million (2000).

5. The WHO reports African AIDS cases cumulatively (since they began tracking AIDS) rather than annually, creating an “impression of an ever growing, almost exponential epidemic, even if annual incidence rates decline.”

6. AIDS in African children is highly compatible with malnutrition, parasitic infection, and poor sanitation – not with heterosexual transmission of HIV. Thus, it’s inappropriate to treat children symptomatic of illnesses long recognized to be due to these conditions with toxic DNA-chain terminators and other anti-HIV drugs.

I would add about the children that such treatment, lacking at the very least a positive HIV antibody test, is also unethical.

Apart from Duesberg’s critique, it’s worth calling attention to mainstream studies which show that it requires an average of 1,000 sex acts between discordant heterosexual couples (one HIV-positive, the other negative) to pass along the virus – an impossibly slow, ludicrously ineffective transmission rate.3

Finally, there is the corrosive power of the colossal amount of money invested everywhere in AIDS research and treatment. Celia Farber and other keen observers of the African AIDS scene have supplied examples aplenty of the lavish sums available to AIDS research and treatment facilities, to African MDs for attending AIDS conferences, in comparison with the paltry funds doled out to deal with historical sub-Saharan African diseases related to malnutrition, poverty, and unhealthy sanitation.4 Imagine under such circumstances the temptation for Africans dependant on healthcare for a living to draw the AIDS net around as many people as possible . . .

Comments by Dr. Roberto Giraldo and Michael Ellner

Interviewed in late April and late August of 2005, Dr. Roberto Giraldo and Michael Ellner commented on past and current developments in African AIDS. Ellner and HEAL, the organization he directs, favor immune-boosting nutritional treatments for AIDS, and work to educate patients and doctors worldwide about the benefits of nutritional therapy. Besides internal medicine, Giraldo has specialized in infectious diseases. He’s also earned an MS in clinical tropical medicine. Over the years, he’s conducted much of his research in the area of secondary or acquired immune deficiencies, especially those occurring in developing nations. Since 2000, he’s served as a member of the South African Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel, and served a number of African countries as advisor on nutrition and diseases related to poverty.

Regarding the definition of AIDS by the WHO in Bangui in 1985, both Giraldo and Ellner told me they clearly perceived the hand of the US CDC pulling strings behind the scenes.5 Both were dismayed by official awareness campaigns trumpeting that AIDS was inevitably a death sentence, drummed into the minds of Africans not medically wise enough to shut their ears to the hypnotic drumbeat. Celia Farber observed the same effects of these campaigns in central Africa in the early 1990s: “AIDS Brain,” she said, was the term in widest circulation for the terror they aroused, citing instances where patients with typical African illnesses shunned medical clinics for fear that they would be more profitably diagnosed, then treated for AIDS.6

“Out Of Africa” Once More, With Celia Farber

A sense of remoteness overcomes me when I linger over academic discussions of diseases. I’ve devoted my career in healthcare to helping patients survive life-threatening illness, to exposing conditions and developments which hinder their recovery. Nearing the end of my series of columns on AIDS, I feel an urge to return to excerpts from Celia Farber’s reports from the bush in Central Africa: with the shock of a smack in the kisser, her word pictures give us sharp close-ups of Africans – individuals sick, dying, or dead, and their suffering kin – entangled in the mazy AIDS business.

“It was an eerie drive from the airport in Entebbe back to the hotel in Kampala. Prior to Idi Amin, prior to the last three decades, Uganda was known as the ‘pearl of Africa,’ and was said to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Some say that the Garden of Eden was in Uganda. Now it is one of the poorest, disease-ridden countries in Africa. It is also known as the AIDS center of the world. The road to Kampala was lined with people building and selling coffins. Simple wooden boxes with black crosses on the front . . .

“Sam and I were looking for a place to have lunch in downtown Kampala. We went to a roadside café and ordered grilled chicken. Upon asking for a toilet, I was shown through the kitchen and into the backyard, where a whole separate world was bubbling. There were chicken parts everywhere – heads, feet, feathers, and live chickens pecking in the mud – women standing over vats of dirty water, rinsing potatoes in them, coils of black smoke, and a rancid, oily stench. The toilet was a shack with a hole in the ground. In fact, every toilet I saw in Uganda, except in the hotel, was a hole in the ground. I went to inspect the toilets at Mulago Hospital, the major hospital in Kampala, and even there – a hole in the floor, covered in excrement and buzzing with flies . . .

“Although the poverty in Uganda was shocking and brutal, it wasn’t the most distressing thing about it. The real depressing thing was the lack of any kind of infrastructure. It seemed like chaos on earth, genuine chaos . . . The government had crushed the country, the people, and then vanished, and left a population steeped in lawlessness, chaos, and poverty . . .

“There were power failures constantly. No medical supplies, even in the hospitals. People were crammed throughout the corridors of the hospitals, waiting, maybe for days, to get any attention . . . What medication they had was poor quality, often too strong, unspecific, and ineffective. People bought prescription medications from little shacks called drugstores that had smuggled them from God knows where. Deaths were not counted, except maybe at some hospitals, but many people just died in the villages. It was not known how many people had died in any given year, much less what the cause of death had been. To try to make sense out of AIDS, with HIV tests and T-cell counts and clinical case definitions, in this chaos seemed hopeless . . .” (Celia Farber, “Out Of Africa,” Parts One and For the Record Two, Spin, March, April 1993)

For the Record

In my interview with Celia Farber (Townsend, Dec.), we touched on a dispatch in The New York Times from correspondent Rachel Swarns.7 Swarns had attended an international AIDS panel convened by South Africa President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria in 2000, and reported back that Mbeki said he was aware that HIV causes AIDS. Farber attended the same conference, and noted in a report she published that Mbeki said nothing of the sort.8 In my column, I asked how Swarns could attribute a total fabrication to Mbeki. Recently, curiosity compelled me to get Mbeki’s speech and Swarns’ news story from the library.

Here’s what Mbeki really said: “What we knew (italics added) was that there is a virus, HIV. The virus causes AIDS. AIDS causes death and there’s no vaccine against AIDS.”9

Swarns’ version went: “Today, Mr. Mbeki said that he and his ministers know (italics added) that the human immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS.”

Swarns didn’t fabricate. She took Mbeki’s statement out of context and changed the tense of the operative verb, misrepresenting him; in essence, Mbeki was expressing a neutral position on HIV.

Again for the record: My reports on NY’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct in Townsend (they began in 2001 and are ongoing), and my four columns in Townsend about censorship in medicine (Aug./Sept. through Dec. 2004) include many instances where theories on disease causation in vogue were dead wrong, where treatments introduced into community practice were later subjected to rigorous trial and proven harmful, where the majority of physicians and medical researchers clamped down dogmatically on free debate over appropriate treatment, where research clinicians with approaches new to or different from the corpus of accepted wisdom were ridiculed and denied funds to pursue and publish their studies.

In light of these instances, and there is in fact a lengthy list of them, eventually acknowledged by the mainstream,10 why should theories about the cause and treatment of AIDS be exempted from reexamination? Why – without question – should the AIDS establishment be handed “blank checks” on defining and managing AIDS and its therapy?

What is there in the nature of AIDS that accords Western governments and non-governmental organizations the right to “dictate” to sovereign African governments policy on controlling AIDS and priorities on healthcare spending?

Closing Thoughts

Morally, the constructive course to follow in sub-Saharan Africa on AIDS would be for the developed nations of the world to provide or lend money to African countries: leave these countries to move forward with desperately needed improvements in sanitation, to rebuild infrastructures that bring adequate medical care to citizens afflicted by poverty-related diseases, to relieve conditions that breed malnutrition (which perpetuates susceptibility to the many illnesses that have ravaged Africa for centuries).

Above all, first wait and see if such improvements lower the death rates among Africans. Then, if the alarming rise in deaths reported in recent years doesn’t abate, consider HIV as a possible reason, and lend money on the stipulation that it must be used to block the spread of AIDS. Then, but only then, get on with the condomizing of sub-Saharan Africa, of every “underdeveloped” nation on the globe where AIDS has manifested.

Books have been published on why the more likely course is the one that Western governments and non-governmental organizations have already shamelessly, evangelically taken,11 the one that promises profits for the US and a sprinkle of other high-tech countries through what is essentially a medical form of neocolonialism, the one that portends an immense disaster for black Africans, especially women and children. Note well in this connection: in university studies where Africans clinically diagnosed with AIDS (according to the Bangui definition and its variants) are tested serologically for HIV, the majority of the test results prove antibody-negative!12

References

1. For example: Laurie Garrett, “The Lessons of HIV/AIDS,” Foreign Affairs, July/Aug. 2005; and Laurie Garrett, “HIV and National Security: Where are the Links? A Council on Foreign Relations Report,” Council on Foreign Relations, Inc., NY, 2005. Garrett studied immunology in graduate school, and her professional credentials include a Pulitzer Prize. Today, she’s a Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. I dipped into the article and report cited above. Her report depends heavily on secondary and tertiary sources – astonishingly rare is a reference to a medical paper – and the analogy she makes between the bubonic plague that rapidly decimated late medieval Europe and the supposed AIDS pandemic now sweeping sub-Saharan Africa is as strained and thin as boullion. A thorough examination online at NewAIDSreview.com, under the title, The Black Death of the 21st Century – a CFR Report has this pivotal sentence about Garrett’s pieces: “Both are either magisterial or drivel depending on where you stand on the basic scientific assumptions of HIV/AIDS.”

2. Duesberg P, Retroviruses as carcinogens and pathogens: expectations and reality, Cancer Research, 3/1/87. Duesberg is Professor of Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley. For additional articles by Duesberg, see his website,Duesberg.com.

3. For example: Padian NS et al, Heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in northern California: results from a ten-year study, American Journal of Epidemiology, 8/15/97; also, Wawer MJ et al, Rates of HIV-1 transmission per coital act, Rakai, Uganda, Journal of Infectious Diseases, 5/1/05.

4. Celia Farber, “Out Of Africa,” Part One, Spin, March 1993; Farber wrote: “AIDS generates far more money than any other disease in Africa. In Uganda, for example, WHO allotted $6 million for a single year, 1992–93, whereas all other infectious diseases combined – barring TB and AIDS – received a mere $57,000.” In the same issue, Farber dug deeper into the funding situation: “Where there was AIDS there was money – a brand new clinic, a new Mercedes parked outside, modern testing facilities, high-paying jobs, international conferences.” She spoke about the AIDS money with a leading African physician . . . who refused to be named. “‘You have no idea what you have taken on,’ he said . . . ‘You will never get these doctors to tell you the truth. When they get sent on these AIDS conferences around the world, the per diem they receive is equal to what they earn a whole year at home.'”

5. Charles Geshekter, “A Critical Reappraisal of African AIDS Research and Western Sexual Stereotypes,” May 1999; accessible via Virusmyth.com. Geshekter, Professor of African History, California State University, Chico, is a member of the South African Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel. Two sections in the paper by Geshekter cited here detailed the CDC’s role in the WHO definition of African AIDS at Bangui in 1985 and exposed crude racist myths about African sexuality. Geshekter’s documentation is impressive. There’s no space here to exemplify it, but an excerpt from one paragraph summed up most of the conclusions Geshekter drew from his profuse sources: “It was upon these grossly unscientific claims, sweeping clinical generalizations, western notions of sexual morality, and 19th century racist stereotypes about Africans that AIDS became a ‘disease by definition.’ Africa was assigned a central role in promoting the premise that AIDS was everywhere and everyone was at risk.” See Virusmyth.com for published papers by Geshekter.

6. Celia Farber, “Out Of Africa,” Part Two, Spin, April 1993.

7. Rachel Swarns, “Mbeki Details Quest to Grasp South Africa’s AIDS Disaster, The New York Times, 5/7/00.

8. Celia Farber, “AIDS & South Africa: A Contrary Conference in Pretoria,” New York Press, 5/25/00.

9. Thabo Mbeki, text of the opening speech by the South Africa President, first meeting of his Presidential Advisory Panel on AIDS, Pretoria, 5/6/00; accessible via virusmyth.com>.

10. For example: Lawrence K. Altman, “Nobel Came After Years Of Battling The System,” The New York Times, 10/11/05; on the bacterial cause of ulcers, “just too wild a theory for most people.”

11. For example: Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997). Diamond is a MacArthur fellow, evolutionary biologist, and professor of physiology at UCLA. Guns, Germs, and Steel won a Pulitzer Prize. A sizable portion of the book, which dismantles racially-based hypotheses of human history, traces the colonial exploitation of black Africa from its origins to its current aftereffects.

12. For example: Ankrah TC et al, The African AIDS case definition and serology . . . , West African Journal of Medicine, April 1994.

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Calling Peter Falk – Colombo needed as a peer reviewer

December 18th, 2005

Spotting misleading science demands a certain detective’s skills

The Times’ Gina Kolata has sensibly pursued the question of how the peer reviewers for Science can have given the thumbs-up to such a misleading article as Dr Hwang’s account in May of an easy way to obtain stem cells from embryos.

Her article today (Sun Dec 18) is a news item on how “A Cloning Scandal Rocks a Pillar of Science Publishing”, recording the excuses offered by the editors of Science for the debacle.

The reviewers comment on the paper and also assess its quality, checking off boxes ranging from “reject” to “publish without delay.” About 25 percent of those reviewed end up being published. But the reviewers are not the science police, Ms. Bradford and outside scientists emphasized.

“We work on the assumption that the data are real,” Ms. Bradford said. “The question is, Do the data support the conclusions?”

But is this good enough? The problem here, as we understand it, is that of the 11 lines of stem cells cloned, some of the photographs were exactly the same, ie did not substantiate the claimed 11 different lines. That one reputable scientist might have misled reviewers is not as worrying as the fact that the reviewers did not notice obvious defects in the photographic evidence.

“What we do not understand is how one person could have hoaxed all 24 of the collaborators on the papers – all of whom seemed eager to claim the work as ‘our’ work at the time,” Dr. Zoloth said. “Did we see only what we yearned to see?”

In other words, the familiar phenomenon which contravenes the vital principle of science, which is that those practicing the vocation make it their first duty to check themselves and their perceptions for bias arising from wish-fulfilment, self-interest, or any other prejudice. Science after all is an objective practice, not a subjective art, which is why it is based on reproducible experiment and measurement by instruments and not subjective evaluation.

But anyway we think that the underlying problem is another one only hinted at in the account of the misery at Science, and among those watching with horror from elsewhere in the field as things unravel. It is the natural tendency for decent human beings to trust their colleagues in a field not to let them down.

But Dr. Hwang also held a news conference on Friday in which he insisted that the data were correct. And Dr. Schatten, in a telephone interview on Wednesday, did not really distance himself from Dr. Hwang, whom he had previously introduced as his best friend, or from the results.

“I still remain totally optimistic and convinced about all of this,” Dr. Schatten said. “I’m optimistic that at some point, I hope sooner than later, this is brought to a satisfactory conclusion that I think will be constructive for everyone including the man I still think of as my best friend.”

As Dr Hwang continues to deny there is any problem with the data, although he is withdrawing the paper, Dr. Schatten continues to emphasize his trusting relationship with him, though he probably knows that things will turn out to be as bad as they look now.

This is very natural behavior, arising from the need to affirm the virtue of confidence in colleagues, the collegiality of good science politics, and the desire to save the face of colleagues in public.

Unfortunately, these very decent and understandable characteristics of the kind of person one wants to work with may be inappropriate when pursuing scientific truth. Probably good science demands the investigative style of Peter Falk’s famous television crime mystery role as Columbo, in the long running series of the same name.

When Lieutenant Columbo investigates a crime perpetrated by a celebrity or other prominent person (the culprit is always at the top of his or her field) he is always civil and self-deprecating, a posture symbolized by his grubby raincoat and aging auto. But he is also always entirely uninfluenced by the fame and reputation of his target.

Seems to us the same attitude has to be adopted by peer reviewers in science if these kind of embarrassing confidence tricks are to be avoided in the future.

Such objectivity would also help in assessing the reviews of established paradigms, as in the many cases where the challenger is young and is reflexively poo pooed by reviewers and prevented from publishing, only to win the Nobel in the end.

In science after all it is not the credentials, or clubbiness of the claimant which determines the value of a new claim, but the argument and the evidence, which should be objectively assessed. Cosy collegiality should be reserved for the faculty club lunches and conference dinners where scientists bond, enhancing their cooperation and their careers, but kept out of their evaluations of scientific papers.

But of course the chances of that happening are probably minimal, given human nature. Possibly the answer is to include scientists from another field among the peer reviewers, or something similar.

Maybe someone at Science should give Peter Falk a call.

The New York Times

December 18, 2005

A Cloning Scandal Rocks a Pillar of Science Publishing

By GINA KOLATA

Science magazine has seen its share of controversies over the years: papers questioned and withdrawn and occasional accusations of scientific fraud. But none of those incidents, says Science’s executive editor, Monica M. Bradford, can compare to the turmoil that has been shaking the magazine for the last month.

It involves a dazzling paper in which South Korean scientists announced not only that they had produced cloned human embryos and extracted their stem cells but that they had done so with such efficiency that it seemed almost easy.

The publication of that paper, celebrated by Science with great fanfare on May 19, has now turned into a debacle. And the mood in Science’s editorial offices on the 10th floor of a gray marble office building in Washington has gone from elation to distress and exhaustion.

On Friday, Science announced that that paper was in the process of being withdrawn. In the meantime, investigations continue into what actually happened at the South Korean research labs and where the truth lies.

“This has become so dramatic,” Ms. Bradford said, saying she could think of no precedent at the journal. “In a sense it has been unlike anything else.”

For Science, the chain of events began on Tuesday, March 15, when the manuscript arrived by e-mail. It was clearly a high-profile paper, and its lead author, Hwang Woo Suk of Seoul National University, was known at the journal.

He had published a previous paper in Science, on Feb. 12, 2004, announcing that he had, with great difficulty, cloned a human embryo and extracted stem cells.

Still, Science put this latest paper from Dr. Hwang’s lab through the same process it put the nearly 12,000 other papers received this year, Ms. Bradford said.

Papers are sent to one or two outside experts on the journal’s board of reviewing editors who advise on whether they are appropriate for Science magazine. Seventy percent of submitted papers are rejected. The others are sent to at least two additional scientists for in-depth review.

The reviewers comment on the paper and also assess its quality, checking off boxes ranging from “reject” to “publish without delay.” About 25 percent of those reviewed end up being published. But the reviewers are not the science police, Ms. Bradford and outside scientists emphasized.

“We work on the assumption that the data are real,” Ms. Bradford said. “The question is, Do the data support the conclusions?”

On May 12, after having passed scrutiny by three outside reviewers, Dr. Hwang’s paper was accepted for publication, faster than the journal’s average time from submission to acceptance, which is about three months.

When the paper appeared May 19, it met with enormous acclaim. Dr. Hwang traveled the world lecturing on his work and scientists trekked to South Korea to visit the lab and see how the feat was accomplished.

The first hints that something might not be right came in November. By Dec. 9, Ms. Bradford and her colleagues – Katrina L. Kelner, the deputy editor, who has an office next door; another editor, working from another city, whom Ms. Bradford would not identify; and the editor in chief, Donald Kennedy, who is at Stanford – were trying to get some answers.

As the weeks passed, Dr. Hwang, was hospitalized for stress but insisted that his group had really cloned human embryos and created 11 lines of stem cells, as his paper reported. But one of his co-authors, Dr. Roh Sung Il, said the data were fraudulent.

One question was whether photographs, described in the paper as being stem cells derived from cloned human embryos, were frauds. Dr. Roh said they were actually from a large computer file of stem cells and not derived from cloning experiments.

Another question involved the veracity of the DNA fingerprints in the Science paper that were used to show that a stem cell was genetically identical to a person who provided cells for cloning.

“We sent a series of questions to the authors,” Ms. Bradford said. “How did this high resolution image get put together? Look at all your images. Go through your data. The same with the DNA fingerprinting: go through your data. What are your answers?”

But despite repeated calls and e-mail messages to South Korea, Ms. Bradford said Thursday, “We haven’t gotten any answers yet.”

All along, Science’s news department, a group of journalists at the magazine, was kept separate from the editorial investigation.

Colin Norman, Science’s news editor, said the editors on the editorial side “tell us when something is going to be released to the press, but not much more.” In fact, he said, “I only know what I’m reading in the press at the moment, which is pretty amazing.”

The story continues, with its twists and turns. On Dec. 12, the one American author on the paper, Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, asked that his name be taken off and his university began an inquiry. On Friday, Dr. Schatten and Dr. Hwang told Science they wished to retract the paper.

But Dr. Hwang also held a news conference on Friday in which he insisted that the data were correct. And Dr. Schatten, in a telephone interview on Wednesday, did not really distance himself from Dr. Hwang, whom he had previously introduced as his best friend, or from the results.

“I still remain totally optimistic and convinced about all of this,” Dr. Schatten said. “I’m optimistic that at some point, I hope sooner than later, this is brought to a satisfactory conclusion that I think will be constructive for everyone including the man I still think of as my best friend.”

Dr. Kennedy said in news conference by telephone on Friday afternoon, “As of now we can’t reach any conclusions with respect to misconduct issues.” He also said that as of now the journal’s editors did not know the exact reasons that Dr. Schatten and Dr. Hwang asked that the paper be withdrawn.

If the paper is withdrawn, Dr. Kennedy said, “There will have to be a retraction statement, and it will have to contain more than we now know about the authors’ reasons for retracting it.”

He added, “I can’t state chapter and verse, but it is more than we have gotten now.”

Dr. Hwang and Dr. Schatten were the only 2 of the paper’s 25 authors who asked that it be retracted, Dr. Kennedy said. Ordinarily, Science requires each one of a paper’s authors to sign a statement agreeing to a retraction. Ms. Bradford said that despite quite a bit of effort, she and her colleagues had been unable to get even e-mail addresses for all of the authors. But Dr. Kennedy said Dr. Hwang was trying to reach the members of his group.

Meanwhile, stem cell scientists and ethicists continue to follow the story with what Laurie Zoloth, an ethicist at Northwestern University, describes as “a kind of collective mesmerized despair,” and some troubling questions.

“What we do not understand is how one person could have hoaxed all 24 of the collaborators on the papers – all of whom seemed eager to claim the work as ‘our’ work at the time,” Dr. Zoloth said. “Did we see only what we yearned to see?”

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

Stem cell debacle – fraud not quite confirmed, but data bad, and promise clearly exaggerated

December 17th, 2005

Another sorry tale of scientific three card monte is pretty much confirmed today (Dec 17 Sat) as the now notorious Korean researcher, Dr Hwang Woo Suk, has asked Science to discredit his own headline making article in May, which reported his lab breakthrough towards making stem cell therapy a reality. His results were misleading, and athough he hasn’t admitted it, seem to have been duplicitous.

As Gina Kolata wrote yesterday:

Last May, a stunning research paper in Science, one of the world’s most respected scientific journals, instantly changed the tenor of the debate over cloning human embryos and extracting their stem cells. A team of South Korean scientists reported in the paper that they had figured out how to do this work so efficiently that the great hope of researchers and patients – to obtain stem cells that were an exact match of a patient’s – seemed easily within sight.

But that rosy future has been cast into doubt with the statement last month by Dr. Hwang Woo Suk, who led the team that wrote the paper, that it contained fabricated evidence. Questions have also been raised about earlier research and a new debate has begun.

The news has the sad but salutary effect of raising two questions in science that have long been swept under the carpet by the media who act as public relations spokesmen for the leading scientists who feed them news.

1) How come the peer reviewers at Science didn’t detect fraud visible in the very photographs attached to the paper they approved, which Korean graduate students soon exposed on websites?

2) Is the whole fanfare for stem cell therapy overblown, yet another example of exaggerated promise designed to win funding for a line of research which is probably a cul-de-sac, at least in the short run? Examples of such unjustified or overpromoted calls on the public purse that critics can point to include genes that cause cancer, the human genome project, and the new cancer genome project.

At least the normally somnolent New York Times is alert to the dangers in this case, as today’s report by Nicholas Wade, “Cell Researcher’s Retraction Leaves Vexing Questions”, makes clear.

Now that Dr. Hwang Woo Suk has asked Science magazine to withdraw the June 17 article in which he reported what seemed a striking advance toward the goal of treating patients with their own regenerated tissues, scientists have two formidable tasks ahead of them.

The first is to decide how much of the work of Dr. Hwang, of Seoul National University in South Korea, can be relied on. The second is whether scientific journals’ procedures for detecting spurious claims can and should be improved.

… Scientists disagree as to whether Science’s reviewers should have detected the problems with Dr. Hwang’s article. “Should reviewers have caught some of this? Yeah, probably they should have,” said John Gearhart, a stem cell expert at Johns Hopkins University and a member of Science’s board of reviewers. “Obviously great claims require great proof, and maybe more people should review such a paper,” he said.

Dr. Arthur Levine, dean of the University of Pittsburgh medical school, where a committee is investigating the work in the Science article for possible misconduct, said he agreed that Science’s referees “might have been more critical, but that is hindsight.” He added, “Almost six months have elapsed since the paper was published, and it had been widely read by many fine scientists without challenge.”

The New York Times

December 17, 2005

Cell Researcher’s Retraction Leaves Vexing Questions

By NICHOLAS WADE

Now that Dr. Hwang Woo Suk has asked Science magazine to withdraw the June 17 article in which he reported what seemed a striking advance toward the goal of treating patients with their own regenerated tissues, scientists have two formidable tasks ahead of them.

The first is to decide how much of the work of Dr. Hwang, of Seoul National University in South Korea, can be relied on. The second is whether scientific journals’ procedures for detecting spurious claims can and should be improved.

The editor of Science, Dr. Donald Kennedy of Stanford University, said yesterday that he would allow the paper to be retracted if all the other authors agreed with the request. Dr. Gerald P. Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, the senior author, asked to withdraw his name from the article on Monday.

Dr. Hwang had conceded that there were problems with some of the data in the article, Dr. Kennedy said, but that “there is certainly no basis right now for a charge of scientific misconduct.”

Dr. Hwang claimed yesterday that he had succeeded in making embryonic cell colonies from some patients, but that the cells were killed by a fungus. His withdrawal of the paper and his acknowledgment of problems with some of its data have inevitably raised doubts about his previous work.

“It is clear now that every experiment published by Hwang will have to be confirmed in some way before being believed,” said Rudolf Jaenisch, a biologist at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge.

Scientists disagree as to whether Science’s reviewers should have detected the problems with Dr. Hwang’s article. “Should reviewers have caught some of this? Yeah, probably they should have,” said John Gearhart, a stem cell expert at Johns Hopkins University and a member of Science’s board of reviewers. “Obviously great claims require great proof, and maybe more people should review such a paper,” he said.

Dr. Arthur Levine, dean of the University of Pittsburgh medical school, where a committee is investigating the work in the Science article for possible misconduct, said he agreed that Science’s referees “might have been more critical, but that is hindsight.” He added, “Almost six months have elapsed since the paper was published, and it had been widely read by many fine scientists without challenge.”

Unlike readers, a journal’s reviewers can demand more data on points that do not persuade them. But reviewers are unpaid, and their main task is to judge whether the data presented to them support the claim being made. Dr. Kennedy said that the reviewers could not be expected to detect deliberate falsehoods and that he could not see any generic fault in the peer review system.

Dr. Levine said he saw “terribly important lessons” in the Hwang incident, chiefly that the senior author of an article is responsible for its integrity and must therefore be “intimately familiar” with the data. However, the true test of science is replication of a claim by others, Dr. Levine said.

Other scientists have expressed the fear that a replication – the success by a second laboratory in cloning human cells – might have seemed to vindicate Dr. Hwang’s work, if the present criticisms had not come to light. Any Nobel Prize might then have gone to him, not to the scientists who had apparently come second. “If the procedure works indeed and other labs would have repeated it, the credit would have gone to Hwang,” Dr. Jaenisch said.

In the wake of the problems with the June Science article, scientists are now looking more skeptically at some of Dr. Hwang’s other work. In an article published in Science in March 2004, he claimed to have performed the first nuclear transfer with human cells, the cloning procedure in which a nucleus from a person’s adult cell is inserted into a human egg, from which embryonic stem cells are obtained.

An unusual feature of the 2004 paper is that Dr. Hwang inserted a woman’s nucleus into her own cell. Both Dr. Jaenisch and Dr. Gearhart said that Dr. Hwang had offered a reasonable explanation for this self-cloning procedure and should be given the benefit of the doubt.

But Dr. Robert Lanza, a rival cloner at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass., said the design would protect Dr. Hwang against critics who asked for the donor and cell to be subjected to a DNA fingerprinting test.

DNA fingerprint tests were indeed demanded by Science’s reviewers for the 11 colonies allegedly derived from patients in the June 2005 paper, and Dr. Hwang provided them.

But critics have said that in some cases the fingerprints Dr. Hwang provided have the identical background noise, as if a single test were being presented twice, instead of two tests having been made independently.

Dr. Lanza also pointed to a similar article by Dr. Hwang in the August 2005 issue of the journal Molecular Reproduction and Development. The identical photograph, a test of pig embryonic cell colonies, seemed to have been presented twice but as representing different cells. The first photo shows embryonic cells said to have been cloned from an adult pig, and the second embryonic cells labeled as from a fertilized pig egg.

Dr. Lanza also expressed doubt about the cloned dog, Snuppy, which Dr. Hwang announced in Nature, Science’s rival publication, in August 2005. Nature’s editors should have required a test of the mitochondrial DNA of Snuppy and the dog it was cloned from, Dr. Lanza said. If a true clone, the mitochondrial DNA of Snuppy and the egg’s donor would be different.

But Dr. Hwang, in a very brief report with little data, reported only that the nuclear DNA of Snuppy and the adult cell donor were identical. This would not rule out the possibility that the two dogs were in fact identical twins obtained by splitting an embryo and delaying the gestation of the second twin. “I think it’s essential that he immediately allow independent testing of the original and cloned animals,” Dr. Lanza said.

Dr. Gearhart agreed, saying, “That would be the very first thing that anyone would have asked.”

Seoul National University is conducting an inquiry into Dr. Hwang’s work, and its committee, with access to Dr. Hwang’s colleagues and data, may be in the best position to decide which, if any, parts of his work are valid.

For the committee members’ findings to have credibility, Dr. Gearhart said, it was “critical they bring in people from outside and who know the field.”

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

Gina Kolata’s news analysis yesterday, “Scandal for Cloning Embryos: ‘A Tragic Turn’ for Science”, also noted the backstage problems in science that the case may signal.

Scientists and ethicists caution that the full story is not in, but they are staggered by how the research has unraveled so far.

“This is a tragic turn,” said Laurie Zoloth, director of the Center for Bioethics, Science and Society at Northwestern University. Stressing that she considers Dr. Hwang innocent until proven guilty, she asked, however, whether the edifice of stem cell research was built on sand.

“We depend entirely on the truthfulness of the scientific community,” Dr. Zoloth said. “We must believe that what they are showing us and what they say has been demonstrated is worthy of our concern and attention.”

The South Korean story, Dr. Zoloth added, raises questions about whether the science is good. “Good as in true and real and morally worthy of our funding,” she explained. “That is so most especially in this twilight sort of terrain with a lot of open questions that people disagree about. At least we thought that the step-by-step slow technical achievements had placed the science on a trajectory.”

“Is this our version of W.M.D.?” Dr. Zoloth said.

….”In one sense, this puts us back to where we were before May of 2005, when there still was some uncertainty about whether this would work at all,” Mr. Doerflinger said. “In another sense it does illustrate in my mind how hype and ambition have gotten ahead of the science.”

The New York Times

December 16, 2005

News Analysis

Scandal for Cloning Embryos: ‘A Tragic Turn’ for Science

By GINA KOLATA

Last May, a stunning research paper in Science, one of the world’s most respected scientific journals, instantly changed the tenor of the debate over cloning human embryos and extracting their stem cells. A team of South Korean scientists reported in the paper that they had figured out how to do this work so efficiently that the great hope of researchers and patients – to obtain stem cells that were an exact match of a patient’s – seemed easily within sight.

But that rosy future has been cast into doubt with the statement last month by Dr. Hwang Woo Suk, who led the team that wrote the paper, that it contained fabricated evidence. Questions have also been raised about earlier research and a new debate has begun.

Scientists and ethicists caution that the full story is not in, but they are staggered by how the research has unraveled so far.

“This is a tragic turn,” said Laurie Zoloth, director of the Center for Bioethics, Science and Society at Northwestern University. Stressing that she considers Dr. Hwang innocent until proven guilty, she asked, however, whether the edifice of stem cell research was built on sand.

“We depend entirely on the truthfulness of the scientific community,” Dr. Zoloth said. “We must believe that what they are showing us and what they say has been demonstrated is worthy of our concern and attention.”

The South Korean story, Dr. Zoloth added, raises questions about whether the science is good. “Good as in true and real and morally worthy of our funding,” she explained. “That is so most especially in this twilight sort of terrain with a lot of open questions that people disagree about. At least we thought that the step-by-step slow technical achievements had placed the science on a trajectory.”

“Is this our version of W.M.D.?” Dr. Zoloth said.

A vocal opponent of cloning human embryos voiced a similar concern. “Certainly, if these reports are true, it’s a tragedy for science,” said Nigel Cameron, president of the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

He said the episode showed that stem cell research and cloning to create human embryonic stem cells, “is a hype balloon and it’s been pricked.” Not so, said the ethicist Arthur Caplan, an outspoken supporter of stem cell research. “We know that in science, speed kills if you go fast, and that’s what the South Koreans did,” he said. “It’s also clear that they will do whatever it takes to right this ship. At the end of the day, critics of stem cell research will try to use this, but they won’t get very far. People bending the rules in other countries doesn’t reflect badly on us.”

The promise of cloned human embryonic stem cells remains, said Dr. George Daley, a stem cell researcher at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

“The goal is still there and the medical value is still largely theoretical but no less than before.”

Dr. Cameron, however, said the political implications of the South Korean scandal are huge.

When it seemed that the South Koreans had taken a giant leap forward in stem cell research, he noted, “we panicked into thinking that we have to join in.” Politicians and patient groups argued that cures were around the corner if scientists could get the needed support. States poured money into stem cell programs.

The collapsing South Korean claims, Dr. Cameron added, made him ask: “Where’s the beef? Where are those cures? Why is it that there is no private money going into this research? The business community values it at zero.”

Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of anti-abortion activities at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that he has argued for some time that the stem cell proponents were exaggerating the state of the science and misleading the public about scientific accomplishments. They promised cures that, if they ever came, would not come any time soon. But Mr. Doerflinger said that when he tried to point out what he saw as misleading claims, ” no one would listen.”

Now, he said, with the collapse of some of the South Korean scientists’ research, the situation may change.

“In one sense, this puts us back to where we were before May of 2005, when there still was some uncertainty about whether this would work at all,” Mr. Doerflinger said. “In another sense it does illustrate in my mind how hype and ambition have gotten ahead of the science.”

“How am I going to exploit it?” he said. “You don’t have to. It’s just speaking for itself.”

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

The whole episode serves to reinforce the skepticism which this site and all too few other media platforms for science critics purvey about AIDS and other paradigms which the critics say resemble fund raising science bubbles than legitimate avenues of mainstream research spending, at least at the exaggerated levels that they attain with overblown promises.

Tom Bethell’s new book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science (Regnery)”, scores a bullseye on this topic with his chapter on “The Stem Cell Challenge to Bioengineering” (p 131).

The seasoned science skeptic Bethell mentions that Gina Kolata’s current caution on scientific breakthroughs including stem cell research follows a dinner party three years ago when “DNA star Jim Watson…told her at a dinner party that Dr. Judah Folkmanm “is going to cure cancer in two years”, a report she wrote up on the front page of the New York Times, to her subsequent embarrassment.

As a result, the Times has put stem cell setbacks on the front page, including the difficulties with the expected cure for Parkinson’s disease (which resulted in the transplanted fetal cells growing all too well, emitting so much dopamine that they “writhed and jerked uncontrollably” with no way to remove them). This is one example of the general danger of embryonic stem cells: they are cancerous.

Other media have been suitably wary, as many of the claims (for example, that adult stem cells could revert to other types of tissue) turned out not to be true.

In other words, the premature promise of stem cells has been well noted before this example of conscious fraud. Hopes are hyped. Real breakthroughs may be decades away.

Bethell quotes Von Baer, a 19th Century resident of Germany and Russia, who said that “all new and important ideas must pass through three stages: first dismissed as nonsense, then rejected as against religion, and finally acknolwledged as true.”

Bethell cracks that stem cells show that today the process is reversed. The new idea is “first hailed as true, then bolstered by religious opposition, and finally acknowledged as false.”

Certainly it is true that there is much in Bethell’s book that makes one wonder if his own skepticism is driven by religion, though nothing explicit. But in this case, at least, he has the followers of Mammon on his side.

The stock market shows what hard headed businessmen and investors think of the current promise of stem cells: not much. Embryonic stem cell drug developer Geron’s stock is $8.74 this week, compared with nearly $70 in March 2000.

The real irony is that Dr Hwang might have been suckered by the very hype that presumably won him support and an easy ride through the obstacle course of peer review. For the only point of committing such fraud, as far as the scientists who comment can explain, is that if you pretend to make a breakthrough and someone else genuinely succeeds soon afterwards, then you get the Nobel, not them.

Here are the main news stories on the topic of Dr Hwang’s three card monte for the past week or so:

Korean Scientist Said to Admit Fabrication in a Cloning Study by Nicholas Wade (Dec 16 Fri)

The New York Times

December 16, 2005

Korean Scientist Said to Admit Fabrication in a Cloning Study

By NICHOLAS WADE

Correction Appended

(Correction:Because of an editing error, a news analysis yesterday about a colleague’s statement impugning the stem cell research of Dr. Hwang Woo Suk, a South Korean scientist, misstated what Dr. Hwang said about it last month. Dr. Hwang admitted then that an error had been made in submitting photographs that accompanied an article about his research, but he has not publicly admitted that he fabricated evidence, and has defended his research.)

The South Korean scientist who claimed a stunning series of advances in cloning and stem cell research has admitted that critical parts of one discovery were fabricated, a colleague said yesterday.

The colleague, Dr. Roh Sung Il, a co-author of a paper in the journal Science last June in which the scientist, Dr. Hwang Woo Suk, claimed to have created stem cells from 11 patients, told the Korean television station MBC, “Hwang today made statements totally contrary to what we have believed is right. ” Dr. Roh added, “Nine of the 11 stem-cell lines he had said he created didn’t even exist.”

But in a press conference this morning in Seoul, Dr. Hwang defended his work, saying he had proof of his success. He said the patient-tailored stem cells had become badly contaminated but that five frozen stem cells were being thawed for analysis.

Barbara Rice, a spokeswoman for Science, said the journal had asked all of the co-authors of the disputed paper “to clarify these unconfirmed rumors that we are getting.” Dr. Hwang, at his news conference, said he had asked Science to withdraw the article as a result of the uproar.

Over the past two years, Dr. Hwang, a veterinary medical researcher who turned 53 yesterday, became a hero in South Korea and an international celebrity.

Last year he claimed to be the first to clone a human cell, inserting an adult cell’s nucleus into a human egg to make embryonic cells. This year he said he had done the same thing in 11 patients, the first step to the dream of treating people with their own regenerated tissues. And for good measure he said he had cloned a dog as well, a feat that has long frustrated other clone researchers.

This morning, Seoul National University Hospital said Dr. Hwang had been hospitalize there for a week for treatment for stress and was released today. Later, when asked at the press conference why Dr. Roh would have said he had faked some of his work, Dr. Hwang said that Dr. Roh had visited him at the hospital yesterday and raised concerns about the research. Dr. Hwang said he had agreed that some of the work needed to be verified, and that he expected to accomplish that in 10 days. But he said: “We retain our original core technology. We found out later that our management had been poor and as the head of research I feel a grave responsibility.”

The first hints of trouble with Dr. Hwang’s research came earlier this year, when reports emerged that women who worked in his laboratory may have donated eggs for an experiment in cultivating stem cells from a cloned human embryo. Last month, an American collaborator, Dr. Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, severed ties with his group, citing “ethical violations” over the way the eggs were obtained.

All these achievements, and his earlier work as well, are now under suspicion.

Dr. Hwang’s new troubles were presaged earlier this week when Dr. Schatten, the senior co-author of the Science article, wrote to the journal asking that his name be withdrawn from the article and urging Dr. Hwang and the other co-authors to retract it. Dr. Schatten wrote that he had “substantial doubts about the paper’s accuracy” and had heard that some of the experiments had been fabricated.

Although the new disclosures are being presented as a blow to Korean science, they can also be seen as a triumph for a cadre of well-trained young Koreans for whom it became almost a pastime to turn up one flaw after another in his work. All or almost all the criticisms that eventually brought him down were first posted on Web sites used by young Korean scientists, although vigorous reporting by MBC television and the online newspaper Pressian also played a leading role.

The young scientists were more skeptical of Dr. Hwang than was Dr. Schatten, who agreed to be senior co-author on Dr. Hwang’s article this June in Science, even though all the experiments had been done in Seoul. The referees and editors at Science accepted the Schatten-Hwang article without spotting the problems that later came to light, although they did ask for extra tests that may have contributed to the denouement.

The debacle is particularly surprising to the many American scientists who visited Dr. Hwang’s lab at the Seoul National University and were impressed by the dedication of his 65 colleagues, the specialization of his lab into separate units for each aspect of cloning, and the technical skill of those who worked the micromanipulators used to suck the nucleus out of human cells.

The event that led to Dr. Hwang’s downfall, after a month of sniping at certain puzzling aspects of his published work, was the posting of a pair of duplicate photos on two Korean Web sites.

One of the new duplicate photos appears in the June Science article about the 11 patients and a second in the Oct. 19 issue of a lesser-known journal, The Biology of Reproduction, where it was reported as being of a different kind of cell.

In the Science article, the cell colony was labeled as being the fifth of Dr. Hwang’s human embryonic cell lines derived from a patient’s cells, but in the Biology of Reproduction article it was designated as an ordinary embryonic cell line generated in the MizMedi hospital in Korea, presumably from surplus embryos created in a fertility clinic.

Critics cited the duplication as confirming suspicions that Dr. Hwang had never successfully cloned any adult human cell and that his Science photos might instead show just human embryonic cell lines derived in the usual way from fertility clinic embryos.

Dr. Roh’s statements make that now seem exactly what happened.

Dr. Roh, the superintendent of MizMedi, was asked by The New York Times on Wednesday to say which type of cell was represented in the photos. Dr. Roh was the senior author of the article in Biology of Reproduction, which Dr. Hwang did not sign. Dr. Roh replied by e-mail that the photo had come from a large computer file of stem cell colonies and that a colleague had accidentally chosen one of the patient-derived colonies to illustrate the Biology of Reproduction article.

Dr. Roh had heard about the error just two hours earlier, he wrote in his e-mail message, and had already written to the editor of the journal requesting that the article be withdrawn immediately. “I really apologize again to have made a big mistake as a principal investigator,” he wrote.

He did not reply to an e-mail message seeking his comment on critics’ demonstration of how the 11 photos in the Science article could have been generated from just two cell colonies. But yesterday he told the Korean news media that Dr. Hwang had confessed to him that the Science photos in fact showed Dr. Roh’s fertility clinic cells, and not cells derived by Dr. Hwang from the adult cells of patients.

In an interview this week on MBC, Dr. Kim Sun Jong, a junior colleague of Dr. Hwang, said his boss had instructed him to take two photos of Dr. Roh’s clinic-derived stem cells and present them as evidence in the Science paper that 11 cell colonies had been successfully derived from patients.

Critics had already begun to screen Dr. Hwang’s previous research for errors. A few days ago they began questioning an article he published in Science last year, in which he announced the first establishment of a human embryonic cell line from an adult cell. The paper in Science this year claimed a greatly improved efficiency in the same technique, and was presented as the first step toward treating patients with their own regenerated tissues.

The criticism of the 2004 paper was that in the published DNA fingerprints of the donor and the cell colony derived from her cells, the trace moves backward a little at certain points. But since the trace is made by a pen moving across a paper strip, the pen cannot usually reverse its movement. The reversals, if real, would point to an abnormality in the machine or to the traces being hand-drawn, in the view of critics. Manual changes would be potential evidence of data manipulation.

John Gearhart, a stem cell specialist at Johns Hopkins University, said the trace was “certainly odd, to say the least.”

Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, said, “The traces appear to be hand-drawn.” But another stem cell researcher, Rudolf Jaenisch of the Whitehead Institute, said that, though not an expert in such matters, he could not detect any problem with the traces.

If there was a serious flaw with the 2004 paper, that would apparently mean that no human embryonic stem cell line has yet been created by nuclear transfer, the insertion of an adult cell’s nucleus into a human egg. Dr. Jaenisch said he could not recall any other published paper on the subject besides Dr. Hwang’s. “Right now it is very confusing for all of us and very sad,” said Jose Cibelli, a cloning expert at Michigan State University and a co-author of the 2004 article.

But the fact that no one else has yet replicated Dr. Hwang’s work does not imply it cannot be reproduced, said Dr. George Daley of Harvard University. He has been waiting a year to get the necessary approvals to proceed along the same lines but he could see no technical obstacles to cloning human cells.

Dr. Daley said he had been impressed during a visit to Dr. Hwang’s lab in Seoul at the scale of the operation and the speed and efficacy of the people who worked there. “I have no reason to doubt their technical efficiency,” he said. “If there was any lab capable of doing what they said they did, it would be his lab.”

Dr. Hwang reported in August this year that he had cloned a dog. His brief article in the journal Nature, also with Dr. Schatten, shows two look-alike dogs but offers very little data to prove they are true clones and not identical twins produced by embryo splitting. Dr. Arthur Levine, the dean of the University of Pittsburgh medical school, said that a university committee exploring possible misconduct with the June 2005 Science article would include the Nature dog paper in its inquiry.

Monica Bradford, who as executive editor of Science oversees its selection and publication of research papers, said the situation was distressing for people at the journal, “because this was such a significant result and held so much hope for a lot of people and particularly for Korean science,” and also because “it’s spinning out in the press and no one knows the truth.”

But she said even if the work ended up being retracted, it would not challenge the journal’s review process, in which other experts are asked to assess the strengths and weaknesses of research reports submitted for publication. Though the system has its flaws, “there is no other process that has worked as well,” she said.

Cornelia Dean and James Brooke contributed reporting for this article.

Correction: Dec. 17, 2005, Saturday:

Because of an editing error, a news analysis yesterday about a colleague’s statement impugning the stem cell research of Dr. Hwang Woo Suk, a South Korean scientist, misstated what Dr. Hwang said about it last month. Dr. Hwang admitted then that an error had been made in submitting photographs that accompanied an article about his research, but he has not publicly admitted that he fabricated evidence, and has defended his research. Also because of an editing error, the article misstated the title of Richard Doerflinger, who maintains that stem cell proponents are misleading the public about their accomplishments. He is deputy director for pro-life activities – not “anti-abortion activities” – at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

American Co-Author Wants His Name Off Stem Cell Paper by Nicholas Wade (Dec 14 Wed)

The New York Times

December 14, 2005

American Co-Author Wants His Name Off Stem Cell Paper

By NICHOLAS WADE

After several days of serious accusations about the validity of a prominent article on the cloning of human cells, the senior author, Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, has asked for his name to be removed as co-author, the editors of the journal Science said yesterday.

They also said they were refusing the request because authors could not withdraw their names unilaterally and Dr. Schatten’s Korean co-authors, who did all the experiments, had not yet agreed to retract the article.

The lead Korean author is Hwang Woo Suk, a veterinary researcher at Seoul National University who came to sudden prominence with several striking successes in the cloning field in the last two years. In February 2004 Dr. Hwang reported in Science online that he had established a line of human embryonic stem cells by transferring the nucleus of adult cells to a human egg whose own nucleus had been removed. In June 2005 he said he had done the same procedure with 11 patients, using far fewer human eggs.

The report was hailed as the first step toward the goal of treating people with their own tissues, generated through embryonic cells.

For reasons that are unclear, Dr. Hwang invited Dr. Schatten to be the senior co-author of the article, and he accepted. But last month Dr. Schatten severed his collaboration with Dr. Hwang over the way human eggs were procured for the experiment and placed a correction in Science saying that his only role in the paper had been to analyze data and prepare the paper for publication.

Meanwhile, the paper has come under increasing criticism from Korean scientists. Their accusations, posted anonymously on Korean Web sites, first showed that some of the photographs of the 11 cell colonies were duplicates. Science acknowledged that the accusation was correct but said the duplication occurred when originals were replaced with photographs of higher resolution.

The critics then showed that several of the photographs overlapped, even though they were supposed to be of different cell colonies. Indeed, they said it seemed that as few as two cell colonies had been used to generate photographs.

The critics also noticed a strange feature in the DNA fingerprints taken of the cell colonies and the donors from whom they were supposedly derived. In several cases the pairs of fingerprints seemed to be identical, lacking any of the subtle differences expected in two independent tests.

If this were true, critics say, the paper would not have any evidence that the cell colonies came from the donors or that Dr. Hwang ever performed any successful nuclear transfer experiments.

Eight leaders in cloning technology, including Dr. Ian Wilmut of Edinburgh University, John Gearhart of Johns Hopkins and Dr. Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology, have written to Science saying that they encouraged Dr. Hwang “to cooperate with us to perform an independent test of his cell lines” to see if they matched the donors.

Dr. Schatten’s confidence in Dr. Hwang’s results has also been shaken. In his letter to Science, released yesterday by the University of Pittsburgh, he said he wished to retract his co-authorship of the June 17 article because “my careful re-evaluations of published figures and tables, along with new problematic information, now casts substantial doubts about the paper’s accuracy.”

He also said that over the weekend he had “received allegations from someone involved with the experiments that certain elements of the report may be fabricated.”

The individual was not named, and Dr. Schatten was unavailable for comment yesterday, but Korean press accounts have quoted Kim Sun Jong, a member of Dr. Hwang’s laboratory who now works at the University of Pittsburgh, as saying in an interview with MBC-TV in South Korea on the program “PD Diary” that he was told by Dr. Hwang to make 11 or so cell lines out of the two or three he had in his possession.

The promise of Dr. Hwang’s Science paper is that it seemed to make the long-sought goal of therapeutic cloning quite practical by using only 10 or so human eggs per patient, compared with the 242 used in his 2004 experiment. If the article should turn out to have been fabricated, it would “give a black eye to science in general,” Dr. Gearhart said.

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

New Criticism Rages Over South Korean Cell Research

By Nicholas Wade (Dec 10 Sat)

The New York Times

December 10, 2005

New Criticism Rages Over South Korean Cell Research

By NICHOLAS WADE

A new round of criticism has broken out in South Korea over the accuracy of a recent article that reported a striking advance in human stem cell research.

In the June 17 article, Hwang Woo Suk, a veterinary researcher at Seoul National University, reported that he had developed embryonic stem cell colonies from 11 patients. The article, published in the journal Science, was hailed as a major step toward the goal of treating patients suffering from many serious diseases with their own, regenerated tissues.

But Dr. Hwang’s research, though praised by the South Korean government, faces mounting criticism from some Korean scientists. The newest questions about the paper concern DNA fingerprint tests carried out to prove that the embryonic stem cell colonies were indeed derived from the patient in question. The test, demanded by referees for Science, was necessary because cell colonies often get mixed up or overgrown by other cells in even the best laboratories.

Usually any two DNA fingerprint traces will have peaks of different heights and alignment and different background noise. But in several cases the pairs of traces in the Science article seem identical in all three properties, suggesting that they are the same trace and not, as represented, two independent ones.

If so, there could have been yet another innocent mixing up of data, as seems to have been the case with duplicate photos – an error that came to light earlier this week. But it is also possible that the cell colonies never existed and that a single DNA fingerprint from a patient was falsely represented as two traces, one from the patient and one from the embryonic cell line allegedly derived from him.

Monica Bradford, the deputy editor of Science, said that the journal had asked Dr. Hwang for an explanation and that experts probably needed to examine the original data in Dr. Hwang’s possession before any conclusions could be drawn.

The new charges have also attracted attention in South Korea. Thirty faculty members at Seoul National University wrote Dec. 7 to the university president, Chung Un Chan, saying that, as experts in the life sciences, “we find a significant part of the DNA fingerprinting data is inexplicable.”

They asked Dr. Chung to create a committee to investigate possible misconduct and added, “We are extremely worried that, by keeping silent, we are endangering the international credibility of the Korean scientific community, which in turn will cause irreversible damage to our country.”

The University of Pittsburgh, where Dr. Hwang’s American co-author, Gerald Schatten, is based, has asked its office that investigates research misconduct to look into this and other problems with the Science article.

Earlier this week the critics noted that several photographs, issued online by Science as a supplement to the June 17 article, were duplicates of one another, though they ostensibly showed 11 different cell colonies. But the duplication appeared to have an innocent explanation. The editors of Science announced that the originally submitted manuscript had 11 different photos and that the duplicates were submitted later, presumably by accident, after a request for higher-resolution copies.

Dr. Hwang did not respond to an e-mail inquiry sent yesterday. He has been hospitalized with an ulcer, said Lorenz Studer, a stem cell specialist at the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York.

Dr. Studer, who has visited the lab several times, said Dr. Hwang had a large operation with 65 people working around the clock, many of them specializing in minute points of detail in the cloning process, and had made evident progress on cloning human cells. Noting the attacks on Dr. Hwang’s work by other Korean scientists, Dr. Studer said, “It is really difficult for us to judge if there is a problem or someone who has an agenda.”

Dr. Studer is studying two of Dr. Hwang’s human cell lines in his laboratory but said he had not tested them and had no way of knowing if they were derived from the cloning of patient’s cells or from embryos from a fertility clinic.

Though the experiments reported in the Science article were done in Seoul, the person formally most responsible for the data is Dr. Schatten, whose name appears last on the Science article, the position reserved for the senior author. Dr. Schatten recently stated that his involvement was limited to analyzing data and preparing the manuscript. Such services do not usually merit senior co-authorship, raising the question of why Dr. Hwang offered it and why Dr. Schatten accepted.

Dr. Arthur Levine, the dean of the University of Pittsburgh medical school, said that Dr. Schatten was a scientist of stature and had contributed ideas to Dr. Hwang, but that “discussion doesn’t ordinarily eventuate in senior authorship.” He added that he knew for certain that Dr. Schatten “must be deeply regretting” having accepted the co-authorship.

Dr. Schatten was not available for comment yesterday, a university spokeswoman said.

The new critique was first raised Dec. 7 by an anonymous posting on a Korean-language Web site, the Biological Research Information Center. The writer commented on the improbability of two independent DNA fingerprints’ being so similar and concluded, “I cannot help but to say that there were no stem cells from the very beginning because the nearly identical fingerprinting patterns raises strongly the possibility of serious misconduct in experiments.”

The letter and its translation were provided by a Korean scientist at an American university who asked not to be identified because of the possibility of recrimination from the South Korean government.

Dr. Hwang has published three significant cloning advances since 2004, including the first cloning of a human embryo, and is somewhat of a national hero in South Korea. The current furor over his work arose last month when PD-Notebook, an investigative program on MBC-TV, a South Korean network, obtained human stem cell samples from Dr. Hwang and had them tested by an independent laboratory.

The results apparently did not match Dr. Hwang’s, and he then refused to cooperate further with the program. The 30 young scientists who signed the letter to the president of the Seoul National University asked him to follow the University of Pittsburgh’s example and set up a committee to inquire into possible misconduct. Dr. Levine agreed that Pittsburgh’s committee may not be able to get very far, given that all the data is in Seoul, and that it could be logical for the two universities to work together.

If misconduct in any part of the Science paper were established, it could well cast doubt over all of Dr. Hwang’s work. But his evident expertise and his generosity in helping other researchers have deeply impressed American visitors like Dr. Studer and Dr. Schatten. So the possibility that the issues raised by his critics are due to careless handling of data, in a scientific paper that has received far more careful public scrutiny than is usual, cannot be ruled out.

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

Paul Theroux speaks up for teaching Africa to fish

December 15th, 2005

Rock star deplores charity aid

Paul Theroux has a striking Op Ed piece in the Times today (Dec 15 Thu). It backs what even the African economist Shikwati (see prev post July 7) has said: Africa needs assistance directed towards running its own affairs properly, not US media and celebrities projecting their own insulting fantasies on a great continent.


There are plenty of educated and capable young adults in Africa who would make a much greater difference than Peace Corps workers.

Africa is a lovely place – much lovelier, more peaceful and more resilient and, if not prosperous, innately more self-sufficient than it is usually portrayed. But because Africa seems unfinished and so different from the rest of the world, a landscape on which a person can sketch a new personality, it attracts mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth. Such people come in all forms and they loom large. White celebrities busy-bodying in Africa loom especially large. Watching Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently in Ethiopia, cuddling African children and lecturing the world on charity, the image that immediately sprang to my mind was Tarzan and Jane.

He also deplores the busybody menace Paul “Bono” Hewson, whose efforts to increase misdirected aid (massively plundered by thieving politicians and officials) only add to the problem.

Bono, in his role as Mrs. Jellyby in a 10-gallon hat, not only believes that he has the solution to Africa’s ills, he is also shouting so loud that other people seem to trust his answers. He traveled in 2002 to Africa with former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, urging debt forgiveness. He recently had lunch at the White House, where he expounded upon the “more money” platform and how African countries are uniquely futile.

Unfortunately, Theroux is unaware of the questionable activities of the AIDS do-gooders intent on delivering drugs to combat an HIV pandemic held to be bedevilling sub-Sahara, despite the mainstream AIDS scientific literature, which has repeatedly shown that heterosexual HIV epidemics are ruled out (the rate of transference is impossibly low, as we have posted earlier):


I am not speaking of humanitarian aid, disaster relief, AIDS education or affordable drugs. Nor am I speaking of small-scale, closely watched efforts like the Malawi Children’s Village. I am speaking of the “more money” platform: the notion that what Africa needs is more prestige projects, volunteer labor and debt relief.

Cloaked both by science, which no social commentator seems capable of assessing independently, and humanitarianism, which no one in politics can afford to challenge, the AIDS “mythomaniacs” seem likely to pursue their business unchallenged in Africa, unless Tom Bethell’s new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, (Regnery) gains traction.

As we noted earlier, it contains a biting and highly readable chapter recounting the many absurdities and unscientific claims on which the claim of African AIDS is based.

It remains to be seen if this will have an effect of the public discourse in AIDS, however. The unrelenting Celia Farber’s many columns in SPIN exposing the hollowness of this fantastical story, purveyed uncritically by the New York Times for so many years in so many sensational and prominent reports, seem to have had little effect.

Perhaps books will have more influence, however. We understand Farber is hard at work on her own opus, which will doubtless contain the first hand reporting on Africa that marks her work and sets it apart from much other coverage of the HIV?AIDS paradigm and its flaws.

The New York Times

December 15, 2005

Op-Ed Contributor

The Rock Star’s Burden

By PAUL THEROUX

Hale’iwa, Hawaii

THERE are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can’t think of one at the moment. If Christmas, season of sob stories, has turned me into Scrooge, I recognize the Dickensian counterpart of Paul Hewson – who calls himself “Bono” – as Mrs. Jellyby in “Bleak House.” Harping incessantly on her adopted village of Borrioboola-Gha “on the left bank of the River Niger,” Mrs. Jellyby tries to save the Africans by financing them in coffee growing and encouraging schemes “to turn pianoforte legs and establish an export trade,” all the while badgering people for money.

It seems to have been Africa’s fate to become a theater of empty talk and public gestures. But the impression that Africa is fatally troubled and can be saved only by outside help – not to mention celebrities and charity concerts – is a destructive and misleading conceit. Those of us who committed ourselves to being Peace Corps teachers in rural Malawi more than 40 years ago are dismayed by what we see on our return visits and by all the news that has been reported recently from that unlucky, drought-stricken country. But we are more appalled by most of the proposed solutions.

I am not speaking of humanitarian aid, disaster relief, AIDS education or affordable drugs. Nor am I speaking of small-scale, closely watched efforts like the Malawi Children’s Village. I am speaking of the “more money” platform: the notion that what Africa needs is more prestige projects, volunteer labor and debt relief. We should know better by now. I would not send private money to a charity, or foreign aid to a government, unless every dollar was accounted for – and this never happens. Dumping more money in the same old way is not only wasteful, but stupid and harmful; it is also ignoring some obvious points.

If Malawi is worse educated, more plagued by illness and bad services, poorer than it was when I lived and worked there in the early 60’s, it is not for lack of outside help or donor money. Malawi has been the beneficiary of many thousands of foreign teachers, doctors and nurses, and large amounts of financial aid, and yet it has declined from a country with promise to a failed state.

In the early and mid-1960’s, we believed that Malawi would soon be self-sufficient in schoolteachers. And it would have been, except that rather than sending a limited wave of volunteers to train local instructors, for decades we kept on sending Peace Corps teachers. Malawians, who avoided teaching because the pay and status were low, came to depend on the American volunteers to teach in bush schools, while educated Malawians emigrated. When Malawi’s university was established, more foreign teachers were welcomed, few of them replaced by Malawians, for political reasons. Medical educators also arrived from elsewhere. Malawi began graduating nurses, but the nurses were lured away to Britain and Australia and the United States, which meant more foreign nurses were needed in Malawi.

When Malawi’s minister of education was accused of stealing millions of dollars from the education budget in 2000, and the Zambian president was charged with stealing from the treasury, and Nigeria squandered its oil wealth, what happened? The simplifiers of Africa’s problems kept calling for debt relief and more aid. I got a dusty reception lecturing at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation when I pointed out the successes of responsible policies in Botswana, compared with the kleptomania of its neighbors. Donors enable embezzlement by turning a blind eye to bad governance, rigged elections and the deeper reasons these countries are failing.

Mr. Gates has said candidly that he wants to rid himself of his burden of billions. Bono is one of his trusted advisers. Mr. Gates wants to send computers to Africa – an unproductive not to say insane idea. I would offer pencils and paper, mops and brooms: the schools I have seen in Malawi need them badly. I would not send more teachers. I would expect Malawians themselves to stay and teach. There ought to be an insistence in the form of a bond, or a solemn promise, for Africans trained in medicine and education at the state’s expense to work in their own countries.

Malawi was in my time a lush wooded country of three million people. It is now an eroded and deforested land of 12 million; its rivers are clogged with sediment and every year it is subjected to destructive floods. The trees that had kept it whole were cut for fuel and to clear land for subsistence crops. Malawi had two presidents in its first 40 years, the first a megalomaniac who called himself the messiah, the second a swindler whose first official act was to put his face on the money. Last year the new man, Bingu wa Mutharika, inaugurated his regime by announcing that he was going to buy a fleet of Maybachs, one of the most expensive cars in the world.

Many of the schools where we taught 40 years ago are now in ruins – covered with graffiti, with broken windows, standing in tall grass. Money will not fix this. A highly placed Malawian friend of mine once jovially demanded that my children come and teach there. “It would be good for them,” he said.

Of course it would be good for them. Teaching in Africa was one of the best things I ever did. But our example seems to have counted for very little. My Malawian friend’s children are of course working in the United States and Britain. It does not occur to anyone to encourage Africans themselves to volunteer in the same way that foreigners have done for decades. There are plenty of educated and capable young adults in Africa who would make a much greater difference than Peace Corps workers.

Africa is a lovely place – much lovelier, more peaceful and more resilient and, if not prosperous, innately more self-sufficient than it is usually portrayed. But because Africa seems unfinished and so different from the rest of the world, a landscape on which a person can sketch a new personality, it attracts mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth. Such people come in all forms and they loom large. White celebrities busy-bodying in Africa loom especially large. Watching Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently in Ethiopia, cuddling African children and lecturing the world on charity, the image that immediately sprang to my mind was Tarzan and Jane.

Bono, in his role as Mrs. Jellyby in a 10-gallon hat, not only believes that he has the solution to Africa’s ills, he is also shouting so loud that other people seem to trust his answers. He traveled in 2002 to Africa with former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, urging debt forgiveness. He recently had lunch at the White House, where he expounded upon the “more money” platform and how African countries are uniquely futile.

But are they? Had Bono looked closely at Malawi he would have seen an earlier incarnation of his own Ireland. Both countries were characterized for centuries by famine, religious strife, infighting, unruly families, hubristic clan chiefs, malnutrition, failed crops, ancient orthodoxies, dental problems and fickle weather. Malawi had a similar sense of grievance, was also colonized by absentee British landlords and was priest-ridden, too.

Just a few years ago you couldn’t buy condoms legally in Ireland, nor could you get a divorce, though (just like in Malawi) buckets of beer were easily available and unruly crapulosities a national curse. Ireland, that island of inaction, in Joyce’s words, “the old sow that eats her farrow,” was the Malawi of Europe, and for many identical reasons, its main export being immigrants.

It is a melancholy thought that it is easier for many Africans to travel to New York or London than to their own hinterlands. Much of northern Kenya is a no-go area; there is hardly a road to the town of Moyale, on the Ethiopian border, where I found only skinny camels and roving bandits. Western Zambia is off the map, southern Malawi is terra incognita, northern Mozambique is still a sea of land mines. But it is pretty easy to leave Africa. A recent World Bank study has confirmed that the emigration to the West of skilled people from small to medium-sized countries in Africa has been disastrous.

Africa has no real shortage of capable people – or even of money. The patronizing attention of donors has done violence to Africa’s belief in itself, but even in the absence of responsible leadership, Africans themselves have proven how resilient they can be – something they never get credit for. Again, Ireland may be the model for an answer. After centuries of wishing themselves onto other countries, the Irish found that education, rational government, people staying put, and simple diligence could turn Ireland from an economic basket case into a prosperous nation. In a word – are you listening, Mr. Hewson? – the Irish have proved that there is something to be said for staying home.

Paul Theroux is the author of “Blinding Light” and of “Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town.”

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

Onion reports China adopting extreme bird flu measure

December 14th, 2005

Hidden away on an inside page of the world’s most trusted news source (Issue 15-21 Dec 2005, p2, top left) is a report from China, briefly describing the ultimate measure taken by the Chinese authorities in guarding against the danger of world avian flu.

The rest of the world can only salute in awed gratitude the willingness of Chinese health officials to follow the implications of flu science to its logical conclusion.

The question now is, is the NIH and CDC prepared to undertake similar measures to guarantee against any problem in the United States, or will they in effect chicken out?

News brief

China Slaughters Population to Control Flu Outbreak

BEIJING—Chinese health officials entered a new phase of their bird-flu-containment campaign Monday by slaughtering all non-essential personnel, the Xinhua News Agency reported. “This weekend, we placed into bleach-filled plastic bags, asphyxiated, and then incinerated all 15 million residents of Beijing who may have come into contact with birds or the air through which birds have flown,” Vice Minister of Agriculture Zhang Baowen said. “We are also asking the World Health Organization for additional help in eliminating the human-borne vector of this virus.” Plans to connect the remaining 1.3 billion potentially infected citizens to high-voltage power lines extending from the Three Gorges hydroelectric dam will commence within the week.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s view of the HIV?AIDS issue

December 10th, 2005

“One hears only those questions for which one is able to find answers.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882)

A skeptics’ Wikipedia is born, and Web AIDS discussions bloom

December 8th, 2005

Esmay, Bennett, Bialy star on desk screens

The Wikipedia for skeptics, SkepticWiki, the Encyclopedia of Science and Critical Thinking, has started operation, notes Bob Carroll, author of The Skeptic’s Dictionary.

SkepticWiki is still in an embryonic state, though it already has 335 entries. It is not clear yet how to add a new entry.

Also mentioned is a skeptical bloggers’ scheduled chat, Skeptics Circle, where bloggers at regular intervals chat and blog various topics. See introduction, schedule and archives at here.

Carroll confides his reservations about the accuracy of Wikipedias, which suffer from the same problems of credibility as any other posts on the current free-for-all that is the Web:


The 21st meeting of the Skeptic’s Circle is now up and in dialogue form for your reading pleasure.

SkepticWiki, the Encyclopedia of Science and Critical Thinking, is also up and running.

Both of these resources offer an opportunity for skeptics to share their writing. I will admit, however, that I have some reservations about the Wiki movement and its anonymous authors. One of the key pieces of information I believe I need to have is the author’s name when determining whether to trust something I read on the Internet. The reader has to already know most of the stuff you read in a Wiki piece to be able to judge whether it’s trustworthy or not. Also, many of the articles are redundant. The opportunity for hoaxing and subterfuge may be too tempting for some miscreants. Do the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks? I don’t know.

The Skeptic’s Circle, on the other hand, gives skeptical bloggers a place to meet, publish, and find out what others are writing.

Such problems will surely be around in the beginning, but perhaps they will ease as the crowd reaches its stable conclusion, since often, according to the principle of James Surowiecki’s Wisdom of Crowds, the crowd achieves wisdom that the individual cannot match.

However, though it surely has great potential, the raw SkepticWiki site is still at square one as far as text goes. Here is a SkepticWiki book review of Almost Like a Whale (Darwin’s Ghost: The Origin of Species Rewritten, in the States). presumably indicating that the site is based in England:


Almost Like a Whale

From SkepticWiki

Author: Steve Jones

ISBN 055299958X

[edit]

Synopsis

The subtitle of Professor Jones’s book is “The Origin of Species Updated”. He has taken it upon himself to rewrite Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species reusing Darwin’s chapter headings, subheadings, and even synopses of chapters, but having the advantage of another century and a half of biological data to refer to. His book, then, is like Darwin’s: “one long argument” in favour of evolution and the theory of evolution, replete with biological facts. By following so precisely the intellectual framework laid out by Darwin, it also demonstrates clearly that although the theory of evolution has been refined over the years, it has required no substantial alterations and that Darwin’s insights into evolution are still essential to our understanding of biology.

[edit]

Memorable Quotes

“Soon after the discovery of Unenlagia, a turkey-sized, carnivorous (and emphatically flightless) dinosaur with short arms was found. It had unmistakeable feathers, barbs and all, fanning from its tail. In the absence of wings, they could not be used for flight and may have been courtship displays or even insulation for the animal’s rear end … Birds can no longer claim sole ownership even of feathers, let alone of an identity that sprang fully formed into the fossil record.”

[edit]

Reviews

An excellent read for anyone interested in biology, and also an excellent source of facts for the confusion of creationists.

Room for expansion, obviously, but a solid start to what could become an excellent resource node. Notification came via Caroll’s email listserv, in Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter 62 (see below – click to expand – at the end of this post).

The problem with most Web “skeptics”

Unfortunately the stream of skeptic contributions to the SkepticWiki seems likely to suffer from the widespread flaw that limits the value of most skepticism of this kind, on the Web. That is, the tendency of the ordinary skeptic to stand within the circle of conventional wisdom facing outwards, rather that outside facing in both directions ie in and out.

Like the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, most ordinary skepticism currently blogged and argued in threads seems to be of this defensive, reflex kind, rather than the more productive, Bertrand Russell brand whereby the independent thinker questions established doctrine as freely and independently as he or she tries to demolish challenges to it.

In the case of the Skeptical Inquirer, otherwise generally a well written and useful contribution to rationality in an increasingly supertitious society, it is disappointing that both contributors and editors seem largely unaware of the enduring truth that science moves on frequently by replacing paradigms, rather than simply enlarging them.

Where the magazine could be doing a useful service in examining current scientific and medical beliefs and reporting where they may be less certain and evidence-based than represented in the media by their proponents, on the whole it prefers to attack the easy targets of scientific and medical quackery. Predictably the magazine has proved unequal to the task of evaluating the sense and nonsense of the HIV-AIDS debate in its one major attempt to treat the subject.

In general the current range of skeptic blogs are merely more pedestrian examples of the same problem. This is particularly unfortunate in a curently hotly debated AIDS case, the death of dissident Chistine Maggiore’s child from allergic reaction to amoxicillin, where bloggers seem to serve largely as cheerleaders for the HIV=AIDS orthodoxy. In this cause they have extensively rationalized the accusation that Maggiore endangered the wellbeing of her child and caused its death with her conviction that the paradigm was illfounded.

For example, Medicspoint, a page of ad hominem discussion of “Why Did “AIDS Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?” on the large eight forum Medicspoint discussion site, useful because it shows the risk of being more civil than the adolescents ragging on you (in this case, the victim is the Engish-born, gentlemanly HIV?AIDS apologist Nick “Cheers” Bennett, see below in this post).

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Old 12-10-2005, 11:59 PM

Mark Probert

Guest

Posts: n/a

Default Re: Why Did “Aids Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?

njb35@cantab.net wrote:

> LOL Cathy.

I do not think that it was Cathy. CathyB comes from Australia and is

well aware of the nature of your degrees.

> Hello there. I am the Nick Bennett you are talking about. I am a long

> time regular, or rather ex-regular to misc.health.aids. I have posted

> here since the summer of 1998. Right now I’m working full-time in

> medicine and my ability to track down and respond to dissident articles

> is severly curtailed. I simply don’t have the time…

>

> However, I was so riled up by Al-Bayati’s report that I had to respond

> somehow. I can reveal that there is a second version of the report

> which I wrote last night while on call when I discovered that the LA

> coroners report was available, and I could directly compare what

> Al-Bayati CLAIMED was in the report to what was really in the report.

> As far as I can tell this second version is going to be hosted on

> Monday or thereabouts.

Wonderful. Look for me.

>

> If you’re having trouble searching for me, you’re not searching very

> well…

>

> You’re better off searching for “nick bennett aids”. Or “nick bennett

> duesberg” or “nick bennett perth group” or any other combination of my

> name and AIDS dissidents.

>

> I have an anti-dissident website at aidsmyth.blogspot.com

>

> I contributed for around a year to the BMJ debate, directly addressing

> and debating with the Perth Group and other dissidents. I have

> archives of all my posts there if you would like to see them. They are

> still available in the BMJ archives.

>

> I was hounded off of Dean’s World blog while trying to debate with

> Harvey Bialy.

>

> If you simply go to

> http://groups.google.com/group/misc.health.aids?lnk=li and search for

> “Bennett” you will find several thousand articles either written by or

> referring to me. I was a very, very prolific writer from 1998 to 2000

> but slowed down during the PhD years a bit.

>

> In answer to your specific question about why I don’t use the MD, it’s

> because I technically don’t have an MD degree. I have bits of paper

> that say I have an MB and BChir, which as others have pointed out are

> the same as the American MD. As a matter of fact, I had to pass the US

> medical exams as well as the UK exams, so I could kind of claim that I

> have a US MD as well. Where I work they certainly put “MD” after my

> name everywhere, no matter how hard I try to tell them otherwise… In

> England, the MD refers to a medical research degree, roughly equivalent

> to the PhD.

>

> I can readily assure you that I have never recieved any kind of

> financial recompense for my “work” in arguing against the AIDS

> dissidents. I started as an irate medical student and now I’m a

> practising physician with a PhD in HIV (a slightly more practical way

> yo contribute to HIV and AIDS science). My funding has come from

> medical schools, charities or the State over the years. The closest I

> have come to getting anything from Big Pharma is that, on paper, my

> sponsor for the PhD was AstraZeneca (who paid the clinical school, who

> allocated the money at random among the students).

>

> Some website links to help in finding out more about me. Be warned,

> the BMJ link is huge and is likely to crash internet exploder (I use

> firefox).

>

> http://aidsmyth,blogspot.com

> http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/326/7387/495

> http://groups.google.com/group/misc…nnett&start=90&

>

> I’ve heard everything you’ve accussed me of before. *shrugs* I only

> find it amusing that you really did have trouble finding out about me

> in the AIDS dissident arena. I seem to have pissed off enough people

> through the years… )

>

> Cheers

>

> Bennett

>

Reply With Quote

Mark Probert

#212

Old Yesterday, 12:30 AM

cathyb

Guest

Posts: n/a

Default Re: Why Did “Aids Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?

njb35@cantab.net wrote:

> LOL Cathy.

>

> Hello there. I am the Nick Bennett you are talking about. I am a long

> time regular, or rather ex-regular to misc.health.aids. I have posted

> here since the summer of 1998. Right now I’m working full-time in

> medicine and my ability to track down and respond to dissident articles

> is severly curtailed. I simply don’t have the time…

>

> However, I was so riled up by Al-Bayati’s report that I had to respond

> somehow. I can reveal that there is a second version of the report

> which I wrote last night while on call when I discovered that the LA

> coroners report was available, and I could directly compare what

> Al-Bayati CLAIMED was in the report to what was really in the report.

> As far as I can tell this second version is going to be hosted on

> Monday or thereabouts.

>

> If you’re having trouble searching for me, you’re not searching very

> well…

Sorry, you’ve made a bit of a mistake.

I was actually quoting from another poster, JanD, who insists that

al-Bayati is, because she wants him to be right, competent to have

produced the report he did and unaffected by his relationship with

Christine Maggiore’s group, Alive and Well.

I was laughing at her venturing to comment on other’s qualifications

while being completely unaware of what an MB is.

I had snipped most of her drivel, and simply quoted her; I can see it’s

not terribly clear, now you mention it.

> You’re better off searching for “nick bennett aids”. Or “nick bennett

> duesberg” or “nick bennett perth group” or any other combination of my

> name and AIDS dissidents.

>

> I have an anti-dissident website at aidsmyth.blogspot.com

>

> I contributed for around a year to the BMJ debate, directly addressing

> and debating with the Perth Group and other dissidents. I have

> archives of all my posts there if you would like to see them. They are

> still available in the BMJ archives.

>

> I was hounded off of Dean’s World blog while trying to debate with

> Harvey Bialy.

>

> If you simply go to

> http://groups.google.com/group/misc.health.aids?lnk=li and search for

> “Bennett” you will find several thousand articles either written by or

> referring to me. I was a very, very prolific writer from 1998 to 2000

> but slowed down during the PhD years a bit.

>

> In answer to your specific question about why I don’t use the MD, it’s

> because I technically don’t have an MD degree. I have bits of paper

> that say I have an MB and BChir, which as others have pointed out are

> the same as the American MD. As a matter of fact, I had to pass the US

> medical exams as well as the UK exams, so I could kind of claim that I

> have a US MD as well. Where I work they certainly put “MD” after my

> name everywhere, no matter how hard I try to tell them otherwise… In

> England, the MD refers to a medical research degree, roughly equivalent

> to the PhD.

>

> I can readily assure you that I have never recieved any kind of

> financial recompense for my “work” in arguing against the AIDS

> dissidents. I started as an irate medical student and now I’m a

> practising physician with a PhD in HIV (a slightly more practical way

> yo contribute to HIV and AIDS science). My funding has come from

> medical schools, charities or the State over the years. The closest I

> have come to getting anything from Big Pharma is that, on paper, my

> sponsor for the PhD was AstraZeneca (who paid the clinical school, who

> allocated the money at random among the students).

>

> Some website links to help in finding out more about me. Be warned,

> the BMJ link is huge and is likely to crash internet exploder (I use

> firefox).

>

> http://aidsmyth,blogspot.com

> http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/326/7387/495

> http://groups.google.com/group/misc…nnett&start=90&

>

> I’ve heard everything you’ve accussed me of before. *shrugs* I only

> find it amusing that you really did have trouble finding out about me

> in the AIDS dissident arena. I seem to have pissed off enough people

> through the years… )

>

> Cheers

>

> Bennett

I’m looking forward to reading the updated report.

Cheers,

Cathy

Reply With Quote

cathyb

#213

Old Yesterday, 01:10 AM

njb35@cantab.net

Guest

Posts: n/a

Default Re: Why Did “Aids Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?

S’alright, I’ve replied to the other post you made about this.

Bloody Google doesn’t make quotes always that obvious. At least,

that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Upon-re-reading the thread

it is clearer now I know who I should be reading!

I’ll try to keep tabs on all the groups but I mostly monitor

misc.health.aids.

Cheers

Bennett

Reply With Quote

njb35@cantab.net

#214

Old Yesterday, 01:48 AM

JanD

Guest

Posts: n/a

Default Re: Why Did “Aids Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?

wrote in message

news:1134263439.944183.95180@g49g2000cwa.googlegro ups.com…

> S’alright, I’ve replied to the other post you made about this.

>

> Bloody Google doesn’t make quotes always that obvious. At least,

> that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Uh huh.

Seems like you are rather good at making up stories.

Like:

Hello there. I am the Nick Bennett you are talking about. I am a long

time regular, or rather ex-regular to misc.health.aids. I have posted

here since the summer of 1998. Right now I’m working full-time in

medicine and my ability to track down and respond to dissident articles

is severly curtailed. I simply don’t have the time…

I see you have time to waste and quite an EGO.

I also note you seem to use the same posting host as Ted Nidiffer.

Road Runner

OrgID: RRNY

Address: 13241 Woodland Park Road

City: Herndon

StateProv: VA

PostalCode: 20171

Country: US

Quite amazing.

Then when you speak of the UK, you seem to switch to NY.

SUNY Health and Science Center

OrgID: SHSC-1

Address: 750 East Adams Street

City: Syracuse

StateProv: NY

PostalCode: 13210

Country: US

As for wasting time and making up stories, and your EGO problems:

Newsgroups: misc.health.aids

From: “PaulKing” – Find messages by this

author

Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 01:30:51 -0500

Local: Mon, Mar 21 2005 1:30 am

Subject: Bennett shoots himself in the foot…big time!

Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show original

| Report Abuse

P.S. It what you say was correct than you would have to admit that saying

condoms were protection against most stds would be a total lie.

You have just shot yourself in the foot….big time.

15. Bennett

Mar 21, 10:16 pm show options

Newsgroups: misc.health.aids

From: “Bennett” – Find messages by this author

Date: 21 Mar 2005 19:16:33 -0800

Local: Mon, Mar 21 2005 10:16 pm

Subject: Re: Bennett shoots himself in the foot…big time!

Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show

original | Report Abuse

My definition of protection is “reduces risk of transmission”. Yours

seems to be “0% transmission”, which just highlights your ignorance –

or your willingness to re-write science to suit your own ends.

We already know you are prepared to re-write everything else.

Cheers

Bennett

16. PaulKing

Apr 11, 4:14 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.health.aids

From: “PaulKing” – Find messages by

this author

Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005 05:14:23 -0400

Local: Mon, Apr 11 2005 4:14 am

Subject: Re: Bennett shoots himself in the foot…big time!

Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show

original | Report Abuse

New US government website attacked for comments on sexuality and

effectiveness of condoms (telling partly the truth -ed)

The wording of information about condoms on the site is also

potentially

misleading (they mean factual). US abstinence education programmes

usually

only mention condoms when referring to their potential for failure.

The 4parents.com site suggests that condoms offer only “moderate”

protection against HIV and gonorrhoea, “less” protection against

Chlamidya, herpes and human papilloma virus, and that the ability of

condoms to protect against syphilis “has not been well studied.”

Although

these claims are backed by reference to studies looking at the

effectiveness of condoms, they do not acknowledge that the studies

were,

almost exclusively, conducted in populations with a high prevalence,

or

risk of sexually transmitted infections.

____

The rest of the article (attacking the new semi honest official

statements

on condoms) is a pathetic attempt to defend condoms citing the one and

only study (if you can call it that) conducted over twelve years ago

that

claimed that condoms reduced ‘AIDS’ in the 132 couples studied. As

usual

the ‘conclusions’ section of that report which said ‘in real world use

condoms failed up to 32% of the time’ was ignored.

This study has been contradicted by ALL the 400 subsequent studies

almost

without exception.

===

My boss has some funky data which shows a hell of a difference if used in

combo

with something else.

Your boss, huh

Hmmmm.

========

Ok, for shits and giggles I’m interested in this one

==

Upon-re-reading the thread

> it is clearer now I know who I should be reading!

>

> I’ll try to keep tabs on all the groups but I mostly monitor

> misc.health.aids.

>

> Cheers

>

> Bennett

>

Attached Images

Reply With Quote

JanD

#215

Old Yesterday, 02:04 AM

HCN

Guest

Posts: n/a

Default Re: Why Did “Aids Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?

wrote in message

news:1134263439.944183.95180@g49g2000cwa.googlegro ups.com…

> S’alright, I’ve replied to the other post you made about this.

>

> Bloody Google doesn’t make quotes always that obvious. At least,

> that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Upon-re-reading the thread

> it is clearer now I know who I should be reading!

>

> I’ll try to keep tabs on all the groups but I mostly monitor

> misc.health.aids.

>

> Cheers

>

> Bennett

>

Hi,

I linked over to your report from Oracknows. I thought it was very

interesting. (and I did find some of your posts on the google archive of

misc.health.aids )

I did a check on www.amazon.com for Maggiore’s book… and noticed that SHE

has posted a review refuting the posts that claim her beliefs killed her

daughter. She claims they were getting an “independent” review of the

report. I am amused at what is considered “independent” from the “Alive and

Well” group…. like members of its advisory board.

Reply With Quote

HCN

#216

Old Yesterday, 02:33 AM

njb35@cantab.net

Guest

Posts: n/a

Default Re: Why Did “Aids Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?

JanD wrote:

> Uh huh.

>

> Seems like you are rather good at making up stories.

>

> Like:

>

> Hello there. I am the Nick Bennett you are talking about. I am a long

> time regular, or rather ex-regular to misc.health.aids. I have posted

> here since the summer of 1998. Right now I’m working full-time in

> medicine and my ability to track down and respond to dissident articles

> is severly curtailed. I simply don’t have the time…

>

> I see you have time to waste and quite an EGO.

>

> I also note you seem to use the same posting host as Ted Nidiffer.

>

> Road Runner

> OrgID: RRNY

> Address: 13241 Woodland Park Road

> City: Herndon

> StateProv: VA

> PostalCode: 20171

> Country: US

>

> Quite amazing.

>

> Then when you speak of the UK, you seem to switch to NY.

>

> SUNY Health and Science Center

> OrgID: SHSC-1

> Address: 750 East Adams Street

> City: Syracuse

> StateProv: NY

> PostalCode: 13210

> Country: US

>

My posting host? You mean RoadRunner from Time Warner Cable. Cripes.

I wonder how many thousands of people are using that one…

Did you bother to read anything I gave you?

Born in the UK, I studied medicine at Cambridge and got my BA, MB/BChir

and PhD from there. I moved to upstate NY in March 2004, and started

work as a clinical research associate in August 2004 while I sat the

USMLE exams. I started my residency a few months back in pediatrics.

Do you need to be spoonfed from the archives?

http://tinyurl.com/bzv89

http://tinyurl.com/afflg

http://tinyurl.com/cq26v

http://tinyurl.com/8qp8a

Do you even care…? Probably not I think.

Do I have time to waste? Sure! It’s a Saturday. I’m post-call so I

get a guaranteed 24hrs off from work!

If you research science as well as you research people it’s no wonder

you believe the things you do.

Oh yeah, why quote from an post I wrote about ribavarin?

As amusing as all this repartee is, you don’t seem much more than a

troll right now. Having fun?

Cheers

Bennett

(cross-posting to MHA to avoid contamination – will cut other groups

next time)

Reply With Quote

njb35@cantab.net

#217

Old Yesterday, 03:36 AM

JanD

Guest

Posts: n/a

Default Re: Why Did “Aids Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?

wrote in message

news:1134268398.500433.232160@g44g2000cwa.googlegr oups.com…

>

> JanD wrote:

>> Uh huh.

>>

>> Seems like you are rather good at making up stories.

>>

>> Like:

>>

>> Hello there. I am the Nick Bennett you are talking about. I am a long

>> time regular, or rather ex-regular to misc.health.aids. I have posted

>> here since the summer of 1998. Right now I’m working full-time in

>> medicine and my ability to track down and respond to dissident articles

>> is severly curtailed. I simply don’t have the time…

>>

>> I see you have time to waste and quite an EGO.

>>

>> I also note you seem to use the same posting host as Ted Nidiffer.

>>

>> Road Runner

>> OrgID: RRNY

>> Address: 13241 Woodland Park Road

>> City: Herndon

>> StateProv: VA

>> PostalCode: 20171

>> Country: US

>>

>> Quite amazing.

>>

>> Then when you speak of the UK, you seem to switch to NY.

>>

>> SUNY Health and Science Center

>> OrgID: SHSC-1

>> Address: 750 East Adams Street

>> City: Syracuse

>> StateProv: NY

>> PostalCode: 13210

>> Country: US

>>

>

> My posting host? You mean RoadRunner from Time Warner Cable. Cripes.

> I wonder how many thousands of people are using that one…

From

Herndon

StateProv: VA

NOT that many.

>

> Did you bother to read anything I gave you?

No, actually I didn’t, I am not going to search through thousands of

archives back to 1998.

What I saw in 2005 was quite enough for me.

>

> Born in the UK, I studied medicine at Cambridge and got my BA, MB/BChir

> and PhD from there. I moved to upstate NY in March 2004, and started

> work as a clinical research associate in August 2004 while I sat the

> USMLE exams. I started my residency a few months back in pediatrics.

>

> Do you need to be spoonfed from the archives?

NO.

I have spoonfed more than you will ever know, sonny boy.

>

> http://tinyurl.com/bzv89

> http://tinyurl.com/afflg

> http://tinyurl.com/cq26v

> http://tinyurl.com/8qp8a

>

> Do you even care…? Probably not I think.

You are not sure of what you think?

Interesting.

>

> Do I have time to waste? Sure! It’s a Saturday. I’m post-call so I

> get a guaranteed 24hrs off from work!

I am afraid that doesn’t fly, you seemed to have time to waste as I proved

with your other posts.

>

> If you research science as well as you research people it’s no wonder

> you believe the things you do.

LOL!!!

I can see you pretty much fit right into the *GANG*.

Guess what Nicky, ole boy, this is NOT about *me*.

>

> Oh yeah, why quote from an post I wrote about ribavarin?

>

> As amusing as all this repartee is, you don’t seem much more than a

> troll right now. Having fun?

Newsflash.

Trolls don’t stick around. I have been here since 1999.

I am good at spotting *organized medicine* brainwashed mumbo jumbo, and

those who get paid to do so.

Along with those who are EGO driven.

>

> Cheers

>

> Bennett

>

> (cross-posting to MHA to avoid contamination – will cut other groups

> next time)

Oh deara, you won’t have time to post until next Saturday, so no need to

worry. *;*.

Run a long now sonny. See if others will fall for your jargon.

Toot A Lu,

Jan

Reply With Quote

JanD

#218

Old Yesterday, 03:45 AM

JanD

Guest

Posts: n/a

Default Re: Why Did “Aids Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?

“HCN” wrote in message

news:zaudnVSr6JJaFAbenZ2dnUVZ_sadnZ2d@comcast.com. ..

>

> wrote in message

> news:1134263439.944183.95180@g49g2000cwa.googlegro ups.com…

>> S’alright, I’ve replied to the other post you made about this.

>>

>> Bloody Google doesn’t make quotes always that obvious. At least,

>> that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Upon-re-reading the thread

>> it is clearer now I know who I should be reading!

>>

>> I’ll try to keep tabs on all the groups but I mostly monitor

>> misc.health.aids.

>>

>> Cheers

>>

>> Bennett

>>

>

> Hi,

>

> I linked over to your report from Oracknows.

Poor, poor HCN.

Orac has been proven a BLATANT LIAR, right here on this newsgroups.

And, I KNOW HCN saw it.

Mark Probert posted it!!!

Newsgroups: sci.med, misc.health.alternative, uk.people.health,

talk.politics.medicine

From: Mark Probert – Find messages by

this author

Date: Sat, 10 Dec 2005 18:51:29 -0500

Local: Sat, Dec 10 2005 6:51 pm

Subject: Re: WARNING: Industry is Blogging These NewsGroups to

Maintain Their Monopolies

Reply | Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show

original | Report Abuse

– Hide quoted text –

– Show quoted text –

JanD wrote:

> “Mark Probert” wrote in message

> news:%ahmf.5353$O05.2972@fe09.lga…

>>JanD wrote:

>>>>The onus of proof is on those who claim that her program works.

>>>>Remember,

>>>>last year Hulda’s Henchmen agreed that they could not prove her claims.

>>>I see Mark is repeating this LIE.

>>>He can NOT show where they did any such thing.

>>>Because he made up this LIE.

>>>http://tinyurl.com/cxbh5

ORAC’S LIES ARE ALL THERE FOR ALL TO SEE.

THAT’S ONLY ONE EXAMPLE!

>>Actually, Janny, that link takes you to this link:

>>http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0223…stip0223051.pdf

>>which is the *stipulation*.

> The word stipulation does nothing to prove your case or clear your lie.

It proves that they agreed that they could not prove her claims. After

they agreed to that, they also agreed to pay back the money and never

sell her junk with those claims ever again.

That is good enough for me.

> It’s no wonder, you were disbarred.

>>stip·u·late 1 (stpy-lt) KEY

>>VERB:

>>stip·u·lat·ed , stip·u·lat·ing , stip·u·lates

>>VERB: tr.

>>To lay down as a condition of an agreement; require by contract.

>>To specify or arrange in an agreement: stipulate a date of payment and a

>>price.

>>To guarantee or promise (something) in an agreement.

>>VERB:

>>intr.

>>To make an express demand or provision in an agreement.

>>To form an agreement.

>>Note the word “agreement”.

>>Sorry, Janny, but you are still wrong.

> NO, I am NOT wrong, YOU LIED.

No, you did not understand.

> The word *quackery* is NOT used.

So what? I used it. What they agreed to was that they were making claims

that they could not substantiate, and that is quackery when it is in

medicine.

> LIE #1.

> In the US. is NOT listed.

> LIE #2.

> There was NO agreement that anyone could not prove any claim

Yes, there was. They were given the opportunity to prove the claims, and

when they could not, they agreed to stop making them, and give back the

money they took. While the precise words are not there, they did agree

that they could not prove their claims, BECAUSE IF THEY COULD, there was

NO reason to enter into the stipulation. They would have fully defended

the action brought by the FTC. When they didn’t, they agreed.

> LIE #3.

> Furthermore.

> That URL proved your buddy Orac LIED.

> ORAC IS A LIAR.

> TED Nidiffer LIED.

> TED NIDIFFER IS A LIAR

> Coleah joined in.

> COLEAH IS A LIAR

> THEY ALL DIVERTED.

> THEY ARE ALL DESPICABLE LIARS, LIKE YOU

> THE ONLY TWO HONEST PEOPLE IN THE THREAD WERE IIENA AND MYSELF.

I thought it was very

> interesting. (and I did find some of your posts on the google archive of

> misc.health.aids )

>

> I did a check on www.amazon.com for Maggiore’s book… and noticed that

> SHE

> has posted a review refuting the posts that claim her beliefs killed her

> daughter. She claims they were getting an “independent” review of the

> report. I am amused at what is considered “independent” from the “Alive

> and

> Well” group…. like members of its advisory board.

>

>

>

Reply With Quote

JanD

#219

Old Yesterday, 04:34 AM

nospam@aol.com

Guest

Posts: n/a

Default Re: Why Did “Aids Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?

On Sat, 10 Dec 2005 18:33:16 -0500, Mark Probert

wrote:

>nospam@aol.com wrote:

>> On Sat, 10 Dec 2005 10:55:49 -0500, Mark Probert

>> wrote:

>>

>>

>>

>>>>>>>Another problem I find with the *basics* of child development is

>>>>>>>al-Bayati’s claim:

>>>>>>>

>>>>>>>”Eliza Jane’s weight measured prior to autopsy was 29 pounds which is at

>>>>>>>the 10th percentile rank.”

>>>>>>>

>>>>>>>Using weight of 29 lbs. age 3y6m, but not her height and head

>>>>>>>circumference (which are always reported in the actual autopsy) and

>>>>>>>applying this limited information to:

>>>>>>>

>>>>>>>http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/usef…percentiles.htm

>>>>>>>

>>>>>>>we get:

>>>>>>>

>>>>>>>At 36 months: your child is 29 pounds, and that is

>>>>>>>at the 33th percentile for weight.

>>>>>>>

>>>>>>>al-Bayati is off by a large margin.

>>>>>>>

>>>>>>>I wonder why he did not include Eliza’s height and head circumference in

>>>>>>>this report?

>>>>

>>>>

>>>>Page 18 of the pdf document containing the autopsy report also shows 10th

>>>>percentile. I wonder what criteria they are using.

>>>

>>>Ora

>>

>>

>>>Exactly, I used a caclulator I found on the web. One is clearly wrong,

>>>the other is clearly right.

>>>

>>

>> The autopsy report stated 10th percentile. Al-Bayati’s report stated 10th

>> percentile. Bennett’s stated below 5th percentile. Your source shows 33rd

>> percentile.

>

>My ‘source’ is from a calculator I found on About.com. They usually

>offer some decent tools.

>

>I found another one that only goes to 36 months. At that age:

>

>Sex = girl

>Age = 36 Months

>Weight = 29.0 pounds

>

>

>Based on the data you submitted, your child falls into the following

>percentiles:

>

>Weight = between 25th and 50th percentile

>

>Still quite off of the “experts”.

See the chart at http://z.about.com/d/pediatrics/1/0…rlstwoyears.gif and

look at the little numbers on the right side of the page to the left of the kg.

column.

Ora

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nospam@aol.com

#220

Unread Yesterday, 06:01 AM

Eric Bohlman

Guest

Posts: n/a

Default Re: Why Did “Aids Baby” Eliza Jane Really Die?

[I’m limiting followups to misc.health.alternative]

njb35@cantab.net wrote in news:1134268398.500433.232160

@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com:

>

> JanD wrote:

>> I also note you seem to use the same posting host as Ted Nidiffer.

>>

>> Road Runner

>> OrgID: RRNY

>> Address: 13241 Woodland Park Road

>> City: Herndon

>> StateProv: VA

>> PostalCode: 20171

>> Country: US

>>

>> Quite amazing.

>>

>> Then when you speak of the UK, you seem to switch to NY.

>>

>> SUNY Health and Science Center

>> OrgID: SHSC-1

>> Address: 750 East Adams Street

>> City: Syracuse

>> StateProv: NY

>> PostalCode: 13210

>> Country: US

>>

>

> My posting host? You mean RoadRunner from Time Warner Cable. Cripes.

> I wonder how many thousands of people are using that one…

Jan refuses to understand that when large national ISPs register their

various points of presence (which are often unattended machines co-

located in telephone company facilities) they use the address for their

corporate headquarters rather than the address of the POP itself (since

nobody is collecting postal mail at the POP locations). Since both

RoadRunner and AOL are headquartered in Herndon, she automatically

assumes that anyone posting from either of their POPs must be an alias

for Ted Nidiffer. Another time she accused one poster of being another

based on the fact that they were both SBC users; again, SBC registers all

its locations with the corporate address. This has been pointed out to

her several times, yet she keeps doing it.

Reply With Quote

Eric Bohlman

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Dean Esmay fires up a mighty HIV?AIDS Web discussion

A remarkable exception to this one-sided myopia of web blogs on HIV?AIDS is the Dean Esmay blog, which early this year distinguished itself by starting what has become the central live discussion of the HIV=AIDS paradigm in the blogosphere. The first post last February was followed by many others, some extending hundreds of pages with comment discussion, and now the Dean Esmay site contains the most dynamic, thorough, continuing public exploration of the problem on the Web, and probably anywhere.

As a result of those extensive threads, computer network techie Esmay, who was long skeptical of the HIV-AIDS hypothesis as a result of reading Peter Duesberg’s book Inventing the AIDS Virus, found himself finally personally persuaded of the failure of the paradigm and repudiated it on his site.


I also believe–and I lay it out here for everyone to see, for anyone who wants to mock me and deride me–I believe that the retrovirus known as “HIV” simply does not cause AIDS.

I don’t even say it to “make a point” or to be “thought provoking.” I’m telling you flat-out: I may be wrong, I may be an idiot, I may be fucking insane. But I don’t care: HIV does not cause AIDS.

The penalty has been that he has suffered a swarm of derisive ad hominem attacks by other bloggers who are convinced that he has taken leave of his senses, but has nevertheless conducted the best live public discussion of the issue so far.

The long DeanEsmay threads in February and March form an unprecedented major Web discussion of the basic HIV causes/does-not-cause AIDS issue in which both sides throw every explosive they can find at each other, including some comically insane antics by Harvey Bialy, the Nature Biotechnology science editor who wrote the remarkable “Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: The Life and Scientific Times of Peter Duesberg (North Atlantic, 2004) the best current guide to the science of the review debate and its repression by editors, scientists and bureaucrats.

Apparently Bialy prefers to sharpen his wit by imaginative sallies into the realm of the Goon Show, a British radio show of the fifties with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe, by imitating “Eccles”, a character from the show, than to blunt his keen intelligence on obtuse discussants who raise points already dealt with. Unfortunately this renders some of the exchanges unintelligible to onlookers trying to follow the thread.

Lately the issue of Maggiore’s tragedy and its attraction for HIV=AIDS fanatics has led to a new round of debate, especially on the Dean Esmay site, in which blogging has exercised its one great advantage over conventional media – the capacity to unearth copious information on all aspects of a discussion at light speed compared to any newspaper or magazine, let alone a television station.

Unfortunately, the information gathered tends to be too often a mass of red herring detail which ultimately has little bearing on the judgement of the essential facts and broader issues at stake. In the case of AIDS it is almost certain not to unearth much relevant new information since the peer review of Duesberg’s published arguments against the HIV?AIDS paradigm has been unusually intense and severe, for political as well as scientific reasons.

However for those who are not expert scientists close to the field these discussion often throw up corrections, and answers to points made by either side, especially in medicine.

HIV/AIDS defender Nick Bennett tackles Duesberg

Some examples of this kind of challenging discussion include

Did a Vaccine cause AIDS? on Google’s misc.kids.health, an exchange from 1999 which features an early appearance by the inimitable Nick “Cheers” Bennett, an Englishman who is one of the few practicing (a resident pediatrician in SUNY Health and Science Center in Syracuse) clinicians who is willing to defend the HIV?AIDS paradigm in public. (By his own account in a public post he is “born in the UK, I studied medicine at Cambridge and got my BA, B/BChir and PhD from there. I moved to upstate NY in March 2004, and started work as a clinical research associate in August 2004 while I sat the USMLE exams. I started my residency a few months back in pediatrics.”)

Bennett’s site where he has blogged since August last year is Correcting The AIDS Lies and offers the best publicly argued case against the dissidents that we know of, though marred by an excessive and thus compromising faith in the accuracy of claims in peer reviewed mainstream articles (which would be justified if their results were not often inconsistent with the tenets of the paradigm, as in the case of the articles showing that heterosexual transmission is effectively nil.)

At one point (see (see Tuesday, February 8, 2005 on this page) in the discussion on Dean Esmay’s blog site, Bennett was persuaded to put his objections to Duesberg, and this resulted in the following reply from Duesberg:


In recent days, a very thoughtful, very interesting physician named Nick Bennett has tried to make the case to me (Dean Esmay wrote) that HIV causes AIDS. He has been a fairly frequent commenter here on Dean’s World, and I recently challenged him: I asked him that if he thought Peter Duesberg were so full of crap, why he didn’t just challenge Duesberg directly?

So Dr. Nick wrote to Dr. Duesberg, and asked him to answer for some things. Then Nick posted to the comments here on Dean’s World saying that he’d written Dr. Duesberg and that Duesberg hadn’t really responded to him. But I then wrote to Duesberg and asked him what he had to say. And then National Academy of Sciences member Peter Duesberg forwarded me this response:

Dear Bennett,

You seem to move in small steps in our correspondence. In your first letter you asked me, “Why do you think that antibody responses [to HIV] should result in an inactive infection?” My answer was that according to the HIV-AIDS literature, even the New Engl. J. Medicine, “HIV is rapidly and effectively limited by antibody” and that “titers [of HIV] fell precipitously by day 27, and the decline coincided with an increase in the levels of antiviral antibodies” (Clark et al 1991; Daar et al 1991). Thus HIV, like all other conventional viruses, is neutralized by naturally acquired antibody or by vaccination. But your next letter did not acknowledge acceptance my answer to your question.

Following my call for clarification you now concede in your third letter of Feb. 3 that “HIV maybe limited by the immune response”. But what does that “maybe” mean? Don’t you trust HIV-AIDS authorities publishing in the prestigious New Engl. J. Med? Or do you have better data of your own showing that we were all misled by Ho and Daar et al. and by Shaw, Hahn and Clark et al publishing in the New Engl. J. Med for all these years? Please send any such publication from your lab, if it exists. Or do you insist in your hypothesis, “antibodies don’t necessarily mean control of an infection [by HIV]” – despite the facts.

Again you question my ability to interpret HIV-AIDS science correctly, “You simplified a rather complex situation in a dogmatic statement. ‘HIV induces antibodies and is brought under immune control, and is therefore non-pathogenic’. No such logical conclusion can be drawn!”

Really? As an example for your superior logic you assert that the very low rate of T cell infection by HIV after it is neutralized by antibody, described in numerous papers (“papers in [your] previous mail”), “is hardly a sign of an inactive virus”.

Lets have another look at your assertion based on the “facts”. Anthony Fauci has published in Science that only 1 in 100 to 1 in 1000 T cells are ever infected in antibody-positive people with and without AIDS (Schnittman et al 1989). A British group, Simmonds et al., reports even lower rates of infection, namely 1 in 500 to 1 in 3000. Even more importantly regarding the “activity” of HIV under these conditions, they report that only 1 in 10,000 to 100,000 cells express some HIV RNA (Simmonds et al 1990).

But this creates a new paradox for the very HIV-AIDS hypothesis you are trying to defend: How would HIV-infected people lose their T-cells, except for the 1 in 100 to 1000 that are infected? According to conventional logic something other than HIV must kill the 99% to 99.9% uninfected T-cells of HIV-infected people. How do you explain T-cell “pathogenicity” by a virus that is making RNA in only 1 out of 10,000 to 100,000 cells? If this were possible, it would be the functional equivalent of claiming that you can shoot 10,000 to 100,000 soldiers with one single bullet.

It is the hallmark of a flawed hypothesis that it generates paradoxes. In the short correspondence we had you have already generated two such paradoxes: 1) Non-neutralizing anti-viral antibodies (despite the facts to the contrary) and 2) the clinically defining loss of T-cells in AIDS patients from a virus that infects less than 1% to 0.1% of their T-cells.

According to the scientific method the time has now come for you to look at alternative AIDS theories. Let me know, if you need suggestions.

Regards,

Peter D.

References

Clark S J, Saag, M S, Decker, W D, Campbell-Hill, S, Roberson, J L, Veldkamp, P J, Kappes, J C, Hahn, B H and Shaw, G M 1991 High titers of cytopathic virus in plasma of patients with symptomatic primary HIV-infection; N. Engl. J. Med. 324, 954-960 Daar E S, Moudgil, T, Meyer, R D and Ho, D D 1991 Transient high levels of viremia in patients with primary human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection; N. Engl. J. Med. 324, 961-964 Schnittman S M, Psallidopoulos, M C, Lane, H C, Thompson, L, Baseler, M, Massari, F, Fox, C H, Salzman, N P and Fauci, A 1989 The reservoir for HIV-1 in human peripheral blood is a T cell that maintains expression of CD4; Science 245, 305-308 Simmonds P, Balfe, P, Peutherer, J F, Ludlam, C A, Bishop, J O and Leigh-Brown, A J 1990 Human immunodeficiency virus-infected individuals contain provirus in small numbers of peripheral mononuclear cells and at low copy numbers; J. Virol. 64, 864-872

Bennett has also contributed to paradigm defense in the Rapid Responses section of the British Medical Journal, a Web area where unreviewed comments on articles are allowed, where extensive exchanges on HIV?AIDS have taken place. For example, in November 2004 he posted frequently regarding a news report that Ranbaxy withdraws all its AIDS drugs from WHO list (click “show” to see the full text here). The full discussion reproduced here is interesting for its exchange on reasons to doubt HIV exists at all:

Re: Withdrawal of Generic (Antiretroviral Drugs) ARVs by Ranbaxy 21 November 2004

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Musa Garbati,

Consultant Physician

University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, P.M.B. 1414, Maiduguri, Nigeria

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Re: Re: Withdrawal of Generic (Antiretroviral Drugs) ARVs by Ranbaxy

I read the disturbing development on the above subject matter which I find very disturbing indeed. This is happening barely five months after the withdrawal of two other generic (Acquired immune Deficiency Syndrome)AIDS drugs in June this year, for the same reason.1 This brings the list of withdrawn ARVs to eight since June 2004. The generic antiretroviral agents in question have been said not to have the desired bioequivalence although the drugs have been the most widely used ARVs in most developing countries. Practitioners in many third world countries can attest to this. Before the introduction of generics to these countries management of HIV/AIDS and related conditions have been limited to just treatment of opportunistic infections (OIs). The other available ARVs in at least the Nigerian markets were either difficult to come by or out of reach of the poor.

For the HIV infected (and affected) in the developing world like Nigeria, with an average seroprevalence rate of 5.8%,2 the coming of generic ARVs was seen as the best thing that has ever happened to persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWAs) towards the alleviation of their sufferings. Generics produced by Ranbaxy and Cipla are the most popular ARVs in many Nigeria markets (and other developing countries). The introduction of one of the products, Triomune, a three in one pill combining lamivudine, stavudine, and nevirapine, has been of particular relief to a lot of our patients due to improved compliance.

For a pandemic that is spreading around the world, infecting more than 14,000 individuals per day,3 this move by WHO if not followed by the provision of alternative ARVs is likely to be the disaster of the year. Alternatives should not just be made available but affordable to those that need it most.

These drugs are withdrawn not because they are unsafe or of poor quality, but because they may not be as effective as they should be. Since the problem now is of bioequivalence I would like a situation where by WHO and its sister agencies to as a matter of urgency make alternative arrangements to making branded ARVs available to the developing world. If not the current success that we are beginning to record as far as the management of HIV/AIDS is concerned will be just be a thing of the past, in a matter of months.

From the words of Peter Graaff from WHO’s AIDS medicines and diagnostics service,1 that WHO was just advising countries to suspend the use of these drugs but for those that do not have alternatives, continued use should be weighed against the risks of interrupting treatment.

References 1. Fiona Fleck. WHO pulls three more AIDS drugs from list. BMJ 2004; 329: 368. 2.Gwarzo S, Eloike T, Ekanem EE, Elong O, Gboun F. The 2001 National HIV/Syphilis Sentinel Survey among pregnant women attending ANC in Nigeria. FMOH, Nigeria. 2001. 1:51 3. Schenker II, Nyirenda JM. Preventing HIV in schools. Educational and practices series. 2002; 9:6

Dr Musa A. Garbati Consultant Physician University of Maiduguri teaching Hospital, Maiduguri, Nigeria E-Mail: musagarbati@yahoo.com

Competing interests: None declared

Do cheap Antibiotics halve AIDS deaths? 23 November 2004

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Alexander H Russell,

Writer/artist/philosopher

WC1N 1PE

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Re: Do cheap Antibiotics halve AIDS deaths?

Dr Musa A. Garbati alarmingly stated: “For a pandemic that is spreading around the world, infecting more than 14,000 individuals per day,3 this move by WHO if not followed by the provision of alternative ARVs is likely to be the disaster of the year. Alternatives should not just be made available but affordable to those that need it most.”

What evidence does Dr. Garbati have for these fictitious figures of “14,000 individuals per day” being ‘infected’ with ‘HIV’? Even the ‘AIDS’ establishment admit – and are agreed – that ‘HIV’ is very difficult to ‘transmit’. These wildly inflated figures are abstract and arbitrary and are all based on ‘guesstimates’ which in the past have invariably been wrong. How many of these alleged “14,000” individuals have had a ‘positive’ ELISA ‘HIV’ test, confirmed by Western Blotting, and further confirmed by the recovery of a significant quantity of viable infectious ‘HIV’ particles from said patient? The answer may surprise Dr. Garbati: zero. What studies have ever been carried out to recover ‘HIV’ particles from the blood of these individuals? The answer is none.

If “14,000 individuals” are being ‘infected’ by ‘HIV’ daily then where is the ‘HIV’ epidemic in the West? Where are all the 100,000s of Western heterosexuals with ‘HIV’ or ‘AIDS’? There is no heterosexual ‘HIV’ epidemic in the West (or anywhere else in the world for that matter). Does Dr Garbati realise that TB, malaria and disease conditions relating to poverty in the developing world make these non-standardised and non- specific arbitrary ‘HIV’ tests run ‘positive’? What we are wrongly calling ‘HIV’ is merely an endogenous marker for ‘risk-behaviour’ in the West and disease-conditions relating to poverty and malnutrition in the developing world. So-called ‘anti-retroviral’ drugs cannot cure ‘AIDS’ related conditions such as TB and malaria.

All ‘anti-retroviral’ drugs can do is interfere with the bodies natural metabolism and make matters worse. There is no such thing as an ‘anti- retroviral’ drug anyway because ‘HIV’ is really an endogenous epiphenomenon. What poor Africans really need is clean water, sanitation, nourishing food and not over priced and highly toxic ‘antiretrovirals’. All endemic diseases of Africa are made infinitely worse by malnutrition: their bodies do not have the basis resources to fight disease. The last things poor Africans need is expensive and lethal ‘anti-retroviral’ drugs.

We now see Septrin is being touted as the great, low-cost saviour antibiotic for ‘AIDS’ related illnesses in African children, halving the death rates previously attributed to the hypothetical ‘HIV’ infection. We are told that co-trimoxazole has the advantage of being cheap and readily available, whereas ‘anti-retroviral’ drugs are much more expensive. Co- trimoxazole costs less than ten cents per person a day.

It is well known that antibiotics are powerless against viruses – including ‘retroviruses’ – so if the patients are recovering when put on Septrin this must be because Septrin is active against bacterial infections. However, if it is claimed that ‘X’ million children a year die of malaria with or without ‘HIV’ then the malaria is obviously the main problem and ‘HIV’ is irrelevant. If Septrin is halving ‘AIDS’ deaths then obviously their ‘HIV’ status is irrelevant; antibiotics have no effect on viruses, retro or otherwise. What the Septrin is killing is the mycoplasmas which are the true cause of cell death. This was shown to be the case by Luc Montagnier himself in a series of experiments. Montagnier showed when ‘HIV’ infected cell cultures were dying, adding doxycyclin to those cultures, the cells no longer died and continued to replicate ‘HIV’ with no apparent damage. Apparently the antibiotic he used destroyed a highly hypoxic mycoplasma which he called mycoplasma neoformans or mycoplasma incognitus.

We can only eradicate ‘AIDS’ in the developing world by removing ‘HIV’ from the equation and abolishing lethal ‘anti-retroviral’ drugs. We have been ‘informed by WHO that there are 12 million (so-called) ‘AIDS’ orphans in Africa – and a million have ‘HIV’. Such white Western fantasies can fuel racist attitudes and images about Africans being ‘sexual savages’ spreading ‘AIDS’ like wild fire.

We need to stop using the racist slogan ‘AIDS’ and start to treat people for the actual (rather than virtual) disease-conditions that they may have. I ask Dr. Garbati to consider my points with an open mind.

References: ‘Antibiotic halves HIV/Aids deaths’, BBC News UK Edition: Friday, 19 November 2004.

Competing interests: None declared

Re: Do cheap Antibiotics halve AIDS deaths? 24 November 2004

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Nicholas Bennett,

Infectious Disease Postdoc/Clinician

Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital, Syracuse NY

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Re: Re: Do cheap Antibiotics halve AIDS deaths?

Dear Editor,

The mycoplasma story is a classic among those claiming that HIV is harmless. A very little research shows that the cell line in question (CEM) was a mixed lineage line, containing CD4+ and CD4- cells. In the prescence of HIV all the CD4+ cells died, but the CD4- cells grew to replace them [1]. When co-infected with the mycoplasma, CD4+ and CD4- cells died non-selectively.

The use of antibiotics in this case, coupled with proper analysis of the cell line, actually proves that HIV neatly kills CD4+ cells in vitro.

This story also highlights the dangers of reading the literature without knowing enough about the field.

On a more practical note, the use of antibiotics in preventing AIDS deaths is rather obvious: since HIV doesn’t kill people, but the secondary infections due to the immune suppression of AIDS will kill. This is why in serious infections the antivirals may be temporarily stopped to prevent poly-pharmacy side effects, and why prophylactic antibiotics are regularly administered to people with progressive HIV infection: and heart valves, cystic fibrosis, antibody deficiencies, neutropenia…

If HIV is a harmless endogenous phenomenon and the drugs are toxic, can Mr Russell explain the fact that HIV seropositivity (i.e. infection) produces disruption of lymph node architecture [2], that is restored, along with CD4 T cells, once antiretrovirals are administered [3]? Can he explain why withdrawal of the drugs results in the reappearance of lymph node damage and a drop in CD4 T helper cells? [4]

Nick Bennett njb35@cantab.net

ref:

1. Yelle et al Arch Virol 1994;139(1-2):155-72 “Analysis of long- term viral expression in CEM cells persistently infected with non syncytium-inducing HIV-1 strains.”

2. Zhang et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1999, 96:5169±5172. “Reversibility of the pathological changes in the follicular dendritic cell network with treatment of HIV-1 infection.

3. Orenstein JM et al. AIDS 1999, 13:2219±2229. “Lymph node architecture preceding and following 6 months of potent antiviral therapy: follicular hyperplasia persists in parallel with p24 antigen. Restoration after involution and CD4 cell depletion in an AIDS patient.

4. Orenstein et al AIDS. 2000 Aug 18;14(12):1709-15. “Rapid activation of lymph nodes and mononuclear cell HIV expression upon interrupting highly active antiretroviral therapy in patients after prolonged viral suppression.”

Competing interests: None declared

Re: Do cheap Antibiotics halve AIDS deaths? 24 November 2004

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Trevor G Marshall,

Director

Autoimmunity Research Foundation, California 91360

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Re: Re: Do cheap Antibiotics halve AIDS deaths?

Dr Russell said “Montagnier showed when ‘HIV’ infected cell cultures were dying, adding doxycyclin to those cultures, the cells no longer died and continued to replicate ‘HIV’ with no apparent damage”

Has this work of Montagnier been published? I did find “Mycoplasmas as cofactors in infection due to the human immunodeficiency virus” (PMID: 8399934) but that doesn’t seem to cover this Doxycycline experiment. Is a citation available that describes this study in more detail?

Competing interests: None declared

Reply to Nicholas Bennett: ‘HIV’ & lymph nodes 25 November 2004

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Alexander H Russell,

Writer/artist/philosopher

WC1N 1PE

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Re: Reply to Nicholas Bennett: ‘HIV’ & lymph nodes

Nicholas Bennett stated: If HIV is a harmless endogenous phenomenon and the drugs are toxic, can Mr Russell explain the fact that HIV seropositivity (i.e. infection) produces disruption of lymph node architecture.”

How do we know that the particles are ‘HIV and how do we know it is ‘HIV’ that is disrupting the lymph nodes? What else is in there? If ‘HIV’ is sequestered in the lymph nodes, as claimed, how can it be actively damaging the immune system?

There are cases recorded in the literature of people who have never tested ‘HIV’ positive who nevertheless have swollen lymph nodes. On examination, the nodes are shown to contain particles morphologically identical to ‘HIV’. However there is no evidence that these particles are destroying the lymph nodes, merely that they are being sequestered there.

On examination the tissues were shown to contain morphologically identical particles to ‘HIV’.

Hoe does Mr. Bennett explain that morphologically identical particles to ‘HIV’ can be found in virtually all placental tissue examined under electronmicroscopy?

What is “HIV seropositivity (i.e. infection”? There is still no evidence that ‘HIV’ is an ‘infectious’ agent; it is only assumed to be.

Competing interests: None declared

Re: Do cheap Antibiotics halve AIDS deaths? 26 November 2004

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John P Heptonstall,

Director of the Morley Acupuncture Clinic

Leeds LS27 8EG

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Re: Re: Do cheap Antibiotics halve AIDS deaths?

Sir

Although I agree with the thrust of Alexander Russell’s arguments I would point out that Septrin was effectively ‘banned’ in the UK some years ago – other than for infections other drugs could not affect – after having been cited as unsafe, especially for children. It was also suggested that trimethoprim (part of the trimethprim/ sulphonamide mix which is co-trimoxazole or Septrin) was equally as effective as Septrin at dealing with infections -the Sulphonamide almost irrelevant. Jornalist Brian Deer wrote an excellent (and perhaps controversial) article at that time in the Sunday Times about the problems of the drug as a kind of expose, and of it’s producer Wellcome.

One wonders what problems so-called HIV+ve African kids are having from Septrin that go unannounced? Doxycycline, although not without potential ADRs, might be the better option.

Regards

John H.

Competing interests: None declared

Re: Reply to Nicholas Bennett: ‘HIV’ & lymph nodes 26 November 2004

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Nicholas Bennett,

Infectious Disease Postdoc/Clinician

Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital, Syracuse NY

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Re: Re: Reply to Nicholas Bennett: ‘HIV’ & lymph nodes

Mr Russell poses some concrete questions that I’m only too happy to answer, since I hope that by doing so he might appreciate more of where I’m coming from.

“What else is in there?” is a very good question, since of course we’re largely limited to observing what we know to look for (especially as regards the molecular techniques).

We know the particles are HIV because, by the standards of distinguishing any other pathogen, they appear to be HIV. They have the morphology, genetic material and protein content of HIV. Mr Russell refers to several reports (previously quoted here) of EM photographs showing virus-like particles in some lymph node specimens. I have to say that I have yet to see a report where the particles are obviously indistiguishable from those of HIV – unless you ignore data in the paper. Either the morphology is _not_ the same as HIV, or molecular techniques show that the particles do not contain HIV genetic material and protein. The giveaway is that the HIV-type material is only seen in cases isolated from HIV+ patients. This strongly suggests that the material is from an infection with the same agent that caused the serology to change. To most scientists and clinicians, the strength of the immune response and molecular techniques makes this a QED.

The placental story is absolutely fascinating! An endogenous retrovirus called HERV-W is activated and expresses some of its retroviral genes. [1] The envelope gene is called Syncytin, and was initially discovered to be crucial to forming the syncitiotrophoblast later of the placenta. It was only later shown to be from an endogenous retrovirus. Additionally, the immunosuppressive effects of this virus (all retroviruses are immunosuppressive to a certain degree, via their envelope protein) may protect the foetus from rejection by the mother. After all, the foetus is nothing if not a non-tissue matched organ graft!

The intriguing part is considering that a retrovirus infected some animal millions of years ago and is now directly involved in the formation of a key part of the mamallian placenta – would there be mammals without this retrovirus…? Is it only a homonid phenomenon?

Needless to say, Syncytin and HERV-W have been sequenced and don’t have homology to HIV. Hence the placental particles aren’t HIV. It may be however why pregnancy is a small risk for a false-positive HIV test: antibodies to endogenous RVs are made, albeit at low levels. Maybe there is a cross-reaction going on. I think this is only for the ELISA though, not for the confirmatory tests.

Mr Russell also asks: “If ‘HIV’ is sequestered in the lymph nodes, as claimed, how can it be actively damaging the immune system? “

This is the best place to damage the immune system! 60-80% of lymphocytes are in the lymph nodes. Only 10-20% will be in the peripheral bloodstream, and most of the activated cells (those preferentially infected by HIV) will traffic to the lymph nodes. The initial CD4 “recovery” seen in the first week or two of antiviral therapy is in fact due to redistribution of cells rather than a true recovery. The cells were there, just not in the bloodstream to be measured. Lymph node cultures can culture HIV even if viral load in the blood is “undetectable”, but only if you’re HIV+.

The other particles do indeed just seem to be sitting there: only those identifiable as HIV seem to be related to lymph node damage and CD4 T cell loss. The mechanism is likely to be a mixture of cell death, chronic inflammation and over-stimulation and a disrupted cytokine environment. All of these occur and are reversable with treatment, but it’s not clear yet which is _most_ important. B cells in particular lose their normal maturation sites in the nodes, but then overproduce ineffective antibodies. The lymph nodes are also home to cell types that bind HIV and present its antigens without themselves being vunerable to being killed off (the follicular dendritic cells). It is these cells that collect HIV from the mucosal surfaces and drag it into the body, straight into the sites best suited for its replication.

I would say that there is plenty of evidence that HIV is an infectious agent. The sero-epidemiology looks like an infectious agent, the agent is transmissible in the lab and in experimental animal models, and just genetically it looks like an infectious agent (i.e. a retrovirus with intact, functional genes). Other infectious agents show weaker correlations than HIV between serology, PCR and culture: so in my eyes HIV surpasses the criteria for making the assumption it is an infectious agent.

Are there other RVs and HERVs? Quite possibly. I’ve seen some data implicating retrovirus-like proteins and gene sequences in disease from multiple sclerosis to prostate cancer. It’s possible that a recombination event between one of these and an SIV strain led to HIV. Mice, after all, are almost 100% infected with exogenous viruses like the Friend agent referred to elsewhere, and have at least 70 known endogenous retroviruses as well. I see no reason why we shouldn’t have our own collection of harmless retroviral parasites. But HIV is not one of them.

Nick Bennett njb35@cantab.net

1. Mi et al Nature. 2000 Feb 17;403(6771):785-9. “Syncytin is a captive retroviral envelope protein involved in human placental morphogenesis.”

Competing interests: None declared

Reply to Nicholas Bennett: what does ‘HIV’ look like? 27 November 2004

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Alexander H Russell,

Writer/artist/philosopher

WC1N 1PE

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Re: Reply to Nicholas Bennett: what does ‘HIV’ look like?

Mr. Bennett stated that: “We know the particles are HIV because, by the standards of distinguishing any other pathogen, they appear to be HIV.”

This is a ridiculous, circular argument – we don’t even know what ‘HIV’ looks like because it has never been isolated. How does Mr. Bennett know what ‘HIV’ looks like? We have not yet established what ‘HIV’ looks like. No one has ever seen ‘HIV’ – not even Mr. Bennett. Why has Mr. Bennett still not provided an EM (electronmicrograph) reference of isolated/purified ‘HIV’? How does Mr. Bennett know the ‘particle’ he is looking at is a virus? Mr. Bennett cannot escape the fact that Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier did not isolate a virus. There is still no evidence that ‘HIV’ is a virus.

Mr. Bennett stated: “I would say that there is plenty of evidence that HIV is an infectious agent.”

Where is this evidence? ‘HIV’ is presumed to be an infectious agent based purely upon rather shaky epidemiological evidence. However, no one has described in scrupulous detail how ‘HIV’ is transmitted from one individual to another. For instance what is the precise mechanism by which the receptive partner (heterosexual female or homosexual male) infects the insertive partner. Why is it that ‘HIV’ appears to be unidirectional? For a pathogen to survive in nature and spread in an epidemic form it has to be bi-directional in its transmission. This does not appear to be the case with ‘HIV’. It is seldom or never found in peripheral blood of infectees so therefore how is ‘HIV’ transmitted from one individual to another. Certainly there is no evidence that animal retroviruses are transmitted sexually so why do we make the assumption that ‘HIV’ is transmitted this way? Traditionally retroviruses are alleged to be transmitted from female to offspring either in the womb or during breast-feeding but there is no suggestion that animal retroviruses are transmitted in semen.

Nobody knows what ‘HIV’ looks like. Can Mr. Bennett provide an EM of isolated ‘HIV’?

Competing interests: None declared

Re: Reply to Nicholas Bennett: what does ‘HIV’ look like? 28 November 2004

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Nicholas Bennett,

Infectious Disease Postdoc/Clinician

Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital, Syracuse NY

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Re: Re: Reply to Nicholas Bennett: what does ‘HIV’ look like?

The problem with Mr Russell’s argument, is that you do not have to isolate something to know what it looks like.

One early paper (from 1988) shows several EM micrographs of HIV showing the characteristic “truncated cone” core that is not seen in normal retroviruses. [1] One has to ask why these pictures must be ignored. This was just the first paper I pulled up with a 5 minute PubMed search, and incidentally also demonstrates how relative levels of reverse transcriptase can be used to attribute source (viral or cellular).

Also, how is the epidemiology shaky? It is clear that bidirectional transmission DOES occur, since seroconversion to and from male and female partners has been well documented. To say otherwise is to ignore the evidence. The transmission HAS been described in scrupulous detail: HIV in semen or vaginal fluids, or blood, is transfered to the mucosal surface of the other partner. Dendritic cells transport the HIV to the lymph nodes. HIV infected CD4+ macrophages and T cells, and the resulting immune stimulation recruits yet more CD4+ T cells to be infected. This is all in the literature (and in the previously maligned Field’s Virology!). HIV is found in 100% of infectees, as I have repeatedly demonstrated here, unless one chooses to ignore the findings of PCR and culture – generally considered Gold Standards for detection of a pathogen…

There is plenty of evidence that animal retroviruses are transmitted sexually (e.g. [2] which shows an EM of wild mouse ecotropic virus within a semen sample): and besides, how could a pathogen that has a 5% per annum mortality, in the West, survive through solely vertical transmission? (and more importantly, not be noticed before? Death rates in some African HIV+ cohorts are over 30% by year 1, compared to 5% in uninfected children). If retroviruses are not transmitted horizontally, perhaps people should stop vaccinating their cats against Feline Leukaemia Virus, which is also a retrovirus. Paper [2] incidentally clearly demonstrates preferential male-to-female transmission, again at odds with what is expected of HIV.

The words used by Mr Russell sounds strikingly like those of Duesberg in his original criticism of HIV’s pathogenic role, but I hope that this evidence will help persuade Mr Russell that these statements were, in fact, entirely wrong. Additionally they should show that HIV, far from breaking any rules of virology, is in fact merely toeing the party line and behaving perfectly normally.

Thirdly I hope that Mr Russell realises that some of what he believes to be true about retroviruses, and virology in general, is in fact not. I appreciate that he has the right to make informed decisions on a topic, even as an outsider, but experts are experts not just by token of working in a field, but through picking up the knowledge associated with it.

Some other HIV EM’s, to make the point that we really do know what it looks like. [4-6] Note that these papers used normal HIV EM as a _control_, since the field has moved on beyond trying to describe what HIV looks like. It’s so much easier to simply state “HIV has no EM’s” than to actually check out the facts.

I wouldn’t be surprised however if Mr Russell were not already aware of much of these images anyway, and therefore doesn’t accept them. If that is the case, I would be interested in what _specific_ criticisms he has of their methodology – criticisms that cannot be applied to other areas of virology.

Nick Bennett njb35@cantab.net

1. Gendelman et al J Exp Med. 1988 Apr 1;167(4):1428-41. “Efficient isolation and propagation of human immunodeficiency virus on recombinant colony-stimulating factor 1-treated monocytes.”

2. Portis et al. J Virol. 1987 Apr;61(4):1037-44. “Horizontal transmission of murine retroviruses.”

3. He et al. Science. 1984 Oct 26;226(4673):451-3. “HTLV-III in the semen and blood of a healthy homosexual man.”

4. Welker et al. J Virol. 2000 Feb;74(3):1168-77. “Biochemical and structural analysis of isolated mature cores of human immunodeficiency virus type 1.”

5. Ohagen et al J Virol. 2000 Dec;74(23):11055-66. “Role of Vif in stability of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 core.”

6. Shehu-Xhilaga et al J Virol. 2002 May;76(9):4331-40. “The conformation of the mature dimeric human immunodeficiency virus type 1 RNA genome requires packaging of pol protein.”

Competing interests: None declared

Reply to Bennett: True isolation of ‘HIV’ from a fresh blood sample has never been achieved. 3 December 2004

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Alexander H Russell,

Writer/artist/philosopher

WC1N 1PE

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Re: Reply to Bennett: True isolation of ‘HIV’ from a fresh blood sample has never been achieved.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett stated: “The problem with Mr Russell’s argument, is that you do not have to isolate something to know what it looks like.”

Mr. Bennett’s statement is ludicrous and an oxymoron and merely typifies the kind of sloppy science surrounding ‘HIV’ research. His statement is absolute nonsense: if the hypothetical ‘HIV’ has not been isolated how do we know what it looks like? I must remind Mr. Bennett that isolation means separating the target virus from all other contaminants. You have to establish which are viral proteins and which are contaminant proteins. No one has ever published EM images of isolated/purified ‘HIV’ recovered from a fresh blood sample or any other bodily fluid.

Sloppy thinking and sheer laziness allowed scientists to get way with stating that material banding 1.16 in a sucrose density gradient represented ‘pure retrovirus’. However, when this banded material was finally photographed under electronmicroscopy in 1997 it was revealed that practically all the banded material consisted of contaminants – microvescicles, cellular debris, etc., with just a few ambiguous dots which may or may not have represented the sought after hypothetical ‘retrovirus’. It would be impossible from that mix when broken down into its constituent proteins to distinguish actual viral proteins from debris proteins.

As for the point of knowing what something looks like, morphologically identical particles to those purporting to be ‘HIV’ can be found in the majority of placentas examined as well as in lymph node tissues biopsied from people with swollen lymph glands but with no indication of so-called ‘HIV infection’. Luc Montagnier himself described the tissue cultures used in ‘HIV’ research as a “retroviral soup”. When certain cell-lines are used it is possible using stimulants to activate previously latent endogenous retroviruses – yet another danger when making judgements based purely upon results obtained from cell culture.

Mr. Bennett continues: “One early paper (from 1988) shows several EM micrographs of HIV showing the characteristic “truncated cone” core that is not seen in normal retroviruses.”

Please note: Mr. Bennett forgets to add that these particles are only ever observed in cell culture (in vitro)and have never been seen in this degree of clarity in any fresh blood or in any other bodily fluid. Laboratory conjuring tricks produce laboratory artefacts which should not be used for purposes of extrapolation. In a typical viral disease sufficient virus to cause the disease should be observable in the relevant tissues: this has never been the case for ‘HIV’. Merely to say that the ‘virus’ is doing its lethal work from the comparative safety of the lymph nodes is a total cop out.

Competing interests: None declared

Re: Reply to Bennett: True isolation of ‘HIV’ from a fresh blood sample has never been achieved. 4 December 2004

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Nicholas Bennett,

Infectious Disease Postdoc/Clinician

Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital, Syracuse, NY

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Re: Re: Reply to Bennett: True isolation of ‘HIV’ from a fresh blood sample has never been achieved.

As an idea, I wonder if Mr Russell has considered the point that it’s supremely easy to distinguish if the proteins in a soup are cellular of not.

Look for them in the uninfected cells.

Oddly enough, those alleged to be HIV are absent in uninfected cells by protein-based and (more importantly) genetic methods.

There is really only one other conclusion: that they are viral. The concept can be taken to its limits by techniques such as subtractive hybridisation to detect upregulated or tissue-specific genes (pool x subtracted from pool y leaves only those genes or proteins unique to pool y).

It’s surprisingly easy to do – and needless to say has been done for HIV. Unless Mr Russell has some information from the human genome project that I am unaware of – i.e. that HIV genes have been detected, despite years of experiments showing the contrary.

It is not so much laziness as using superior techniques (faster, cheaper, more accurate) which render others redundant: but I accept that it means that EM of peripherally isolated HIV will likely never be done – because it doesn’t need to be done. This is NOT a unique situation to HIV science, contary to Mr Russell’s assertations. If he looked elsewhere he would find it elsewhere.

I’m still awaiting his acceptance that animal retroviruses can be horizontally transmitted, through sexual activity, and can additionally show preferential male-to-female transmission over female-to-male [1]. HIV (and the science behind it) is far from exceptional.

Nick Bennett njb35@cantab.net

1. Portis et al. J Virol. 1987 Apr;61(4):1037-44. “Horizontal transmission of murine retroviruses.”

Competing interests: None declared

Reply to Bennett: EM is essential to confirm that ‘HIV’ exists 7 December 2004

Previous Rapid Response Top

Alexander H Russell,

Writer/artist/philosopher

WC1N 1PE

Send response to journal:

Re: Reply to Bennett: EM is essential to confirm that ‘HIV’ exists

Regarding the impossibility of isolating ‘HIV’, Mr. Bennett unwittingly has completely given the game away:

“It is not so much laziness as using superior techniques (faster, cheaper, more accurate) which render others redundant: but I accept that it means that EM of peripherally isolated HIV will likely never be done – because it doesn’t need to be done.”

It most certainly does need to be done – but Mr. Bennett is right in stating it never will be done, but not for the reason he states. The fact is that the current crop of virtual virologists DARE not use the earlier, tried and trusted methods of viral isolation to find HIV in peripheral blood – because they know they would not find any particles at all. By affecting to disdain to use ultra centrifugation, peletting down etc. they can perpetuate the myth of HIV proliferation and pathogenicity by using indirect markers, as introduced by Robert Gallo, David Ho and others.

In his book ‘Virus Hunting – AIDS, Cancer & the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery’, Gallo readily admits that when he was working on HTLV1, a novel human retrovirus he suspected was the cause of adult T cell leukaemia, he was puzzled when he could never find any virus in the infected tissues of the elderly patients. It was he who suggested the use of surrogate markers as an acceptable alternative to actually finding and recovering virus using the traditional methods. Thus virtual virology was born -virologists were no longer required to demonstrate, with visual confirmation, the presence of virus in a patient’s blood. They could just assume it was there by using antibody evidence, reverse transcription assays etc. Goodbye empirical observation, hello viral theology!

‘HIV’ research is not based upon hard science but is a matter of belief akin to religious faith: you cannot see the Holy Ghost but you are required to believe in it in order to belong to the club. However, as Peter Duesberg observed in his seminal paper published in Cancer Research (March 1st, 1987) viruses and other pathogens, typically when they cause a disease can be found at high titre, sufficient to cause cell destruction or intoxication at a faster rate than the body can replace them. The result is a disease condition. This just did not seem to be the case with HIV, which a) appeared to infect very few cells, and b) appeared to be restricted to latency by the antibody response.

The apparent inactivity of ‘HIV’ worried those who sought to blame a retrovirus for ‘AIDS’, and that is what led David Ho and others to the theory behind ‘viral load’ testing. This purported to show that far from being an indolent virus restricted to latency by the immune system, HIV was hyperactive, creating billions of new particles daily, whilst the body simultaneously created billions of new cells to counter the viral proliferation. Ho was not bothered that such huge HIV titres had never been observed, nor the fact that the hallmark of HIV infection, if the experts were correct, should be the disappearance of cells, not a massive increase.

Once again, it was left to Peter Duesberg to debunk a ridiculous, but still widely believed hypothesis, in a fully referenced letter he wrote with his colleague Harvey Bialy to Nature, which was grudgingly published in a much edited form. (“HIV an illusion” Nature 375: 197, 18 May 1995.) In their letter they point out that the methodology used by Ho et al and Wei et al, in two papers published in the same edition of Nature, grossly overestimated the numbers of viral particles claimed to be in a ml of plasma. “Here we would point out only that the central claim of the Ho et al and Wei et al papers-that 105 HIV virions per ml plasma can be detected in AIDS patients with various nucleic-acid amplification assays is misleading. The senior author of the Wei et al. paper has previously claimed that the PCR method they used overestimates by at least 60,000 times the real titer of infectious HIV: 100,000/60,000 is 1.7 infectious HIVs per ml, hardly the “virological mayhem” alluded to by Wain-Hobson.

Further, Ho and a different group of collaborators have just shown that more than 10,000 “plasma virions,” detected by the branched-DNA amplification assay used in their Nature paper, correspond to less than one (!) infectious virus per ml. And infectious units, after all, are the only clinically relevant criteria for a viral pathogen.” (My emphasis)

Eminent electronmicroscopist Prof. Etienne de Harven*, in criticising the loss of precision due to the abandonment of EM in identifying and quantifying viruses, pointed out that the pretext they used for their abandonment (like Mr. Bennett) was that EMs were unnecessary, time consuming and too costly: de Harven stated:

“Dangerously enough, EM was progressively dismissed in retrovirus research after 1970. Molecular biologists started to rely exclusively on various ‘markers’, and what was sedimenting in sucrose gradient at density 1.16 gm/ml was regarded as ‘pure virus’. It is only in 1997, after fifteen years of intensive HIV research, that elementary EM controls were performed, with disastrous results.”

These “disastrous results” published in Virology (Gluschankof et al. and Bess et al.) did not show purified/isolated ‘HIV’ but a mass of cellular debris and microvesicles with three ambiguous dots which were arbitrarily identified as ‘HIV’.

De Harven concludes: “In conclusion, and after extensive reviewing of the current AIDS research literature, the following statement appears inescapable: neither electron microscopy nor molecular markers have so far permitted a scientifically sound demonstration of retrovirus isolation directly from AIDS patients.” (REMARKS ON METHODS FOR RETROVIRAL ISOLATION by Etienne de Harven, Continuum, Spring 1998.)

If the methods of viral detection using indirect ‘markers’ Mr. Bennett trusts really work, then it is axiomatic that using the earlier methodology will only confirm their findings. It is time to clear up this point before ‘HIV’ research becomes even more irrational and ludicrous. Surely it would be worth while to spend a mere three or four days with basic EM equipment to confirm visually the results obtained by using Mr. Bennett’s “superior techniques”?

Hence, Mr. Bennett’s statement is absurd and pure madness: “I accept that it means that EM of peripherally isolated HIV will likely never be done – because it doesn’t need to be done.” It does need to be done and urgently: can Mr. Bennett do it – and prove that ‘HIV’ exists?

*Etienne de Harven worked in electron microscopy (EM) primarily on the ultra-structure of retroviruses throughout his professional career of 25 years at the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York and 13 years at the University of Toronto. In 1959 he was the first to report on the EM of the Friend virus in murine (mouse) leukaemia, and in 1960 to coin the word “budding” to describe steps of virus assembly on cell surfaces.

Competing interests: None declared

Here’s the full text of a page of the HIV Dissidents: The Continuing Saga section of Catallarchy, a blog by Trent McBride, a pathology resident.: (Click show)

Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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Bennett

Nov 22 1999, 3:00 am show options

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From: “Bennett” – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/22

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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David Wright wrote in message …

>It’s been seen before, many times. I’m curious about whether all the

>people who signed it in 1991 still believe it. (With some of them,

>like Kary Mullis, who cares? He’s a chemist. Or good old Philip

>Johnson. He’s a lawyer. He doesn’t believe in evolution, either.)

>And, as for the number of signatures, well, “if a million people say a

>foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”

I know at least one who doesn’t – Udo Schuklenk – who recanted when Mellors

posted his evidence that HIV steady state viral load predicted time to AIDS.

He reviewed a short article I wrote on the dangers of reading the dissident

views on the Internet for people with HIV and AIDS.

Cheers

Bennett

bajabum

Nov 23 1999, 3:00 am show options

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From: baja…@my-deja.com – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/23

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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In article ,

wri…@nospam.clam (David Wright) wrote:

> In article ,

wrote:

> >In article ,

> Bajabum, you certainly believe everything you read — if it’s

> sufficiently alarmist. I don’t think you really understand it, or can

> evaluate it, but you believe it anyway.

> The idea that the AIDS tests are highly unreliable is a myth. Nobody

> is diagnosed HIV+ on the basis of just one test. Not these days.

Rarely, if ever, has a single diagnostic test had such an enormous

impact on the lives of the millions of people who rely on it. Since

1985, the U.S. government and various civilian institutions have

performed more than 20 million HIV tests every year. Responses to

positive tests have been melodramatic. People have been known to commit

suicide or murder, lapse into depression, have abortions, become

divorced, and take toxic medications. (2) Tragically, these dramatic

actions were triggered by a test that is far from foolproof.

In 1993, a group of Australian researchers published what would be the

first substantial critique of the HIV antibody test. The article,

entitled “Is a Positive Western Blot Proof of HIV Infection?” was

published in the journal Bio/Technology, a respected scientific

publication affiliated with the British magazine Nature. The Australian

researchers stated that the HIV test is seriously flawed on several

counts: it is not standardized, so different labs will interpret the

same results differently; it is not reproducible (the test fails when

tested against itself); it cross-reacts with other, non-HIV proteins;

and it lacks a true “gold standard.” Every diagnostic test must have a

gold standard, which in this case would be HIV itself, but the authors

argue this is impossible since the HIV virus has never been isolated in

pure form. (3)

The scientists scrutinized the two most widely used HIV antibody tests –

– the “ELISA,” which is used to screen blood, and the “Western Blot”

(WB), which is used to confirm a positive result on the ELISA. The

problems apply to both tests.

The ELISA test, first developed in 1985, is highly sensitive and also

extremely nonspecific, which means it gives a positive result even when

there is no HIV present. As many as four out of five ELISA tests cannot

be confirmed by Western Blot, (4) and yet it remains the most widely

used test in the Third World, most notably Africa, where HIV is said to

be rampant.

Citing the data from a mass HIV testing program undertaken by the U.S.

military, the Australian researchers revealed some startling findings.

There were, for instance, 4,000 people who had two positive ELISAs

followed by a negative WB. Perhaps worse, there were 80 cases of people

who had two positive ELISAs, a positive WB, followed by a negative

follow-up WB.

In other words, those 80 people, outside the context of this study,

would have gone home believing they were HIV positive, since a single

positive WB qualifies a person as positive. But in fact they were

negative.

Another problem with the test is that it is nonspecific. The test looks

for patterns of proteins thought to be specific to HIV. One protein in

particular, p24, is “currently believed to be synonymous with HIV

isolation and viremia,” the study says. But the Australian researchers

detected p24 antibodies in a number of people who were completely free

of HIV, including one out of every 150 healthy people, about 13 percent

of all people with generalized warts, and more than 40 percent of those

with multiple sclerosis. On the other hand, they point out, p24 is not

found in all AIDS patients.

But perhaps most troubling, the tests tend to cross-react with other

microbes. The Bio/Technology articles describes a tribe of Amazonian

Indians who have never had contact outside their tribe and who have no

AIDS. And yet, 3.3 to 13.3 percent were HIV- positive by Western

Blot. “The above data,” they speculated in their final report, means

either that HIV is not in fact causing AIDS, “or, that the HIV antibody

tests are non-specific.”

The test’s greatest failing in the eyes of those who’ve had to rely on

it, however, is that it is not standardized. In the Australian study,

one particular blood sample was sent 89 times to three different labs.

It was reported to be positive 64 times, indeterminate 23 times, and

negative once. There is such a broad, gray, “indeterminate” zone, in

fact, that it’s often merely chance whether a given lab reads the

result as positive or negative.

By Celia Farber

Mothering Sept./Oct. 1998

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bajabum

Nov 23 1999, 3:00 am show options

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From: baja…@my-deja.com – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/23

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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In article ,

“Roger Schlafly” wrote:

> Lon Morgan wrote in message

> news:wdYwOHztShhUyRlZTzXTeHPcCrur@4ax.com…

> This point is addressed in the book and in the review.

> “Most batches of CHAT were grown on tissue taken from monkeys. But

the links

> between vaccine workers and a chimpanzee-research station in the

Belgian

> Congo are close enough for it to have been at least a possibility that

> chimpanzee kidneys were used as well. There is no documentary

evidence that

> chimpanzee kidneys were used. But the written records of which primate

> species were used for which vaccine batches are far from perfect, as

are the

> memories of those who took part in the experiments.”

THE FAUCI FILES: “The River” — An Affirmative Review in the journal

Science (Nov 12, 1999)

Science, November 12, 1999; Volume 286, Number 5443, pp. 1305 – 1306

HISTORY OF MEDICINE:

Is AIDS Man-Made?

A review by Robin A. Weiss*

Were chimpanzee kidneys used in the production of oral polio vaccines?

This is the nub of Hooper’s case. He points to the Wistar Institute or

to Belgian laboratories using Wistar strains. Numerous chimps and

bonobos (pygmy chimps) were kept at Camp Lindi, outside Stanleyville

(Belgian Congo). Some were used there for testing the safety of

vaccines, but what happened to the majority of the animals? Although

Hooper reveals that some chimp kidneys were sent to Philadelphia for

tissue culture, there is no record of vaccine production in them. If

chimpanzee kidneys were used, however, it seems odd that the one pool

of OPV (CHAT 10A-11) that, according to Hooper, might have been

contaminated found its way back to the Congo–and not to Sweden,

Poland, or the United States, where other Koprowski trials took place.

Hooper wonders if Ghislain Courtois, the director at Lindi, might have

amplified the pools of CHAT vaccine in Stanleyville. The author reveals

that the veterinarian Alexandre Jezierski independently grew attenuated

poliovirus in chimpanzee kidney cultures in the Congo. Because the

Pasteur Institute’s Pierre Lepine used local baboon kidneys, could the

French also have used chimp cells? In addition, Hooper suspects that

French and Portuguese activities led to the West African origin of HIV-

2 from sooty mangabeys. To me, the possible use of small batches of

experimental OPV made locally seems a more plausible source of

contamination than the Wistar preparations. As one of the investigators

of that time, Abel Prinzie, told Hooper: “We were acting in full

innocence, not understanding what sort of Pandora’s box we were

opening.”

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Bennett

Nov 23 1999, 3:00 am show options

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From: “Bennett” – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/23

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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baja…@my-deja.com wrote in message …

>In article ,

>THE FAUCI FILES: “The River” — An Affirmative Review in the journal

>Science (Nov 12, 1999)

Oh dear, reposting tripe from Fred Shaw does even less to your credibility

than your other posts. If you really want to argue the issue, crosspost to

misc.health.aids and I and others will happily tear it to shreds :o)

Cheers

Bennett

Lon Morgan

Nov 23 1999, 3:00 am show options

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From: Lon Morgan – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/23

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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On Mon, 22 Nov 1999 15:16:19 GMT, baja…@my-deja.com wrote:

Lmorgan wrote:

>> Nonetheless the combination of

>> ELISA, with Western Blot and RT-PCR followup makes for a very

>> sensitive and specific testing process.

>Whether you are an HIV believer or an HIV skeptic, you can’t possibly

>argue that the HIV antibody test is not wracked with problems.

Ah, but I can argue, especially in light of the fact that you remain

incapable of getting past the ‘Scudamore Mediocrity’ level of

‘references.’ And it is questionable whether you would comprehend

it anyhow. But just in case, here’s current *legitimate evidence* on

AIDS/HIV testing:

“Accurate determination of plasma human immunodeficiency virus type 1

(HIV-1) RNA levels is critical for the effective management of HIV-1

disease. ..We describe here the AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR Test, version

1.5, … version of the 1.5 test yielded equivalent quantification of

HIV-1 RNA regardless of the subtype. ” (1)

“A new immunochromatographic rapid test, Determine HIV-1/2, for the

detection of antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)

and HIV-2 in human whole blood, serum, and plasma was evaluated.

..This evaluation demonstrated the excellent performance of this

immunochromatographic test with EDTA-anticoagulated whole-blood,

serum, and plasma samples. We conclude that this test is suitable for

use in emerging countries and is an excellent alternative to HIV

antibody testing at remote sites, as well as in traditional

laboratories. ” (2)

“In order to reduce the window phase between time of human

immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and laboratory diagnosis, new

fourth generation screening assays which permit a simultaneous

detection of HIV antigen and antibody have been developed. ..The

specificity for unselected blood donors was 99.6%. The Enzymun-Test

HIV Combi permits an earlier diagnosis of HIV infection than third

generation assays through the detection of p24 antigen, which may be

present in serum samples from individuals with recent HIV infection

prior to seroconversion and it shows an excellent sensitivity for

antibodies to all known HIV-1 subtypes and HIV-2. The specificity in

blood donors and hospitalized patients is comparable to that of other

assays. ” (3)

-MANY- more references are available.

Reality can be a bummer for the alarmist mentality.

==============================================

1. Development of calibrated viral load standards for group M

subtypes of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and performance of an

improved AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR test with isolates of diverse

subtypes. Michael NL; J Clin Microbiol, 1999 Aug, 37:8, 2557-63

2. Evaluation of a rapid immunochromatographic test for detection of

antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus.

Arai H; J Clin Microbiol, 1999 Feb, 37:2, 367-70

3. Reduction of the diagnostic window with a new combined p24 antigen

and human immunodeficiency virus antibody screening assay.

Gürtler L. J Virol Methods, 1998 Nov, 75:1, 27-38

“Issues in Immunization: the Evidence”

http://fp1.cyberhighway.net/~lmorgan/

Lon Morgan

email: lmorgan AT cyberhighway DOT net

Quantum mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of.

Lon Morgan

Nov 23 1999, 3:00 am show options

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From: Lon Morgan – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/23

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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On Tue, 23 Nov 1999 06:18:32 GMT, baja…@my-deja.com wrote:

Prior post:

>> Bajabum, you certainly believe everything you read — if it’s

>> sufficiently alarmist. I don’t think you really understand it, or can

>> evaluate it, but you believe it anyway.

>Rarely, if ever, has a single diagnostic test had such an enormous

>impact on the lives of the millions of people who rely on it…

Hmmm, so your ‘reference’ is now Mothering magazine.

My my Baja, at least it’s not a girlie magazine, so I suppose that’s

an improvement. 😐

Just can’t clue into the necessity of actually consulting the current

scientific literature, can you?!

The diagnosis of AIDS is certainly traumatic, as is a dx of cancer,

but not nearly as melodramatic as you would claim. Magic Johnson and

a few zillion other HIV positive individuals continue to lead

productive lives – in spite of your alarmist and unfounded ‘moronismus

on parade’ attempts to tell them otherwise.

And having a postive HIV test leading to a later AIDS diagnosis does

not seem to affect survival time:

“OBJECTIVE: To examine the impact of the time period from first

positive HIV test to AIDS diagnosis and other variables on survival

after AIDS diagnosis…

CONCLUSION: No association was found between survival time and the

time interval between first positive HIV test and AIDS diagnosis. “

(1)

==========================================

1. Knowledge of HIV-positivity had no impact on AIDS survival time

among Danish AIDS patients 1980-95.

Jensen L Scand J Infect Dis, 1998, 30:3, 231-6

“Issues in Immunization: the Evidence”

http://fp1.cyberhighway.net/~lmorgan/

Lon Morgan

email: lmorgan AT cyberhighway DOT net

Quantum mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of.

D. C. & M. V. Sessions

Nov 24 1999, 3:00 am show options

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From: “D. C. & M. V. Sessions” – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/24

Subject: Re: Does HIV cause AIDS?

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Andrew Sanders wrote:

> Here’s an article disputing the official line on HIV / AIDS with a number

> of references:

> http://homepages.go.com/~frann55/hiv.html

> What you don’t seem to realise is that it is nigh on impossible to

> publish or receive funding to openly address the issues surrounding HIV-

> AIDS. All the money is directed at HIV, HIV, and more HIV. That’s why

> there are thousands of articles published on HIV that wouldn’t dare doubt

> its involvement in this disease (not that they usually even consider this

> minor matter) – if they did their funding and careers would disappear

> overnight. And that explains why you and many others are so defensive on

> this matter.

It is nigh on impossible to publish or receive funding to openly address

the issues surrounding the Flat Earth Hypothesis, too.

| Bogus as it might seem, people, this really is a deliverable |

| e-mail address. Of course, there isn’t REALLY a lumber cartel. |

| There isn’t really a tooth fairy, but whois toothfairy.com works. |

+———– D. C. & M. V. Sessions ———-+

bajabum

Nov 25 1999, 3:00 am show options

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From: baja…@my-deja.com – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/25

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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In article ,

“Roger Schlafly” wrote:

> This theory might sound farfetched, but most of the competing theories

> about the origin of AIDS have been shot down.

Hilary Koprowski was the first scientist in the world to successfully

test a live, attenuated vaccine in a human being. He trialled his

vaccines first on mentally retarded children in New York State, then on

an experimental group in Northern Ireland – where the vaccine

encountered difficulties – and subsequently on almost a third of a

million children and adults in the cities and rural areas of the

Belgian Congo between 1957-59.

In March 1959, Sabin reported in the British Medical Journal that he

had found an unknown virus contaminating a sample of Koprowski’s

vaccine – a claim Koprowski vehemently challenged.

The nature of any virus contaminating the Congo vaccine has never been

determined. The only official inquiry ever held into the issue

concluded that on every scientific ground, it was possible for a monkey

immunodeficiency virus (or SIV) to grow in culture, be administered to

humans in a vaccine and to cause infection — though it rated the

chances of this as low.

Pascal’s theory that AIDS might accidentally have started as an

iatrogenic disease was shunned by the international medical research

community. Though carefully researched and documented, his attempts to

publish it in the world scientific press met with rejection.

But Pascal was not the only one with suspicions about how humans came

to catch AIDS. In South Africa, virologists Professor Mike Lecatsas

(left) and Professor Jennifer Alexander, published a warning in the

South African Medical Journal. They had found at least one monkey which

tested positive for HIV-like antigens. Such animals could,

unknowingly, have been used for making vaccine on many occasions in the

past, they pointed out.

The South Africans were condemned by other scientists for daring to

propose such a thing. “We were vilified in the extreme,” Alexander

said. “No reasoned consideration was given to our points. Instead we,

and not our ideas, were attacked.”

After reading Pascal’s theory, one of the world’s most distinguished

evolutionary biologists, Professor William Hamilton of Oxford

University, concluded that it deserved the most serious scientific

attention. Hamilton promptly wrote to the leading journals, Science

and Nature, urging that the theory be subjected to scientific

scrutiny. If AIDS was shown to have been transmitted in this way,

other plagues could enter humans by similar means and millions more

human lives would be placed at risk, he argued.

Both journals rejected his letters.

Opinion in the research community was sharply divided. US AIDS

researcher, Dr Robert Gallo, who had originally told journalist Tom

Curtis a contaminated vaccine was theoretically possible, came out with

a blunt assertion that the theory was false.

Eminent polio researcher Professor Joseph Melnick, on the other hand,

stated in a court affidavit: “I find this theory plausible, and one of

several possible explanations for the still-unsolved mystery of how the

modern AIDS epidemic originated.”

His views have since been echoed by Dr David Ho, regarded by many as

America’s premier AIDS researcher and 1997 TIME Magazine Man of the

Year. Dr Ho stated “I found the hypothesis to be an intriguing,

scientifically plausible theory” and went on to express concern that

the mere exposition of a scientific hypothesis should become the

subject of litigation.

At least one new monkey virus has been discovered since the first

animal organ transplants began, and it is now considered by some

scientists that the stealth viruses associated with chronic fatigue

syndrome also entered humans from monkeys in polio vaccine.

What nobody knows is how many such agents remain to be discovered – or

how lethal to humans they may prove.

After a US AIDS patient was implanted with baboon marrow, a leading

epidemiologist with the US Centers for Disease Control, Dr Louise

Chapman, told the media, “You can’t dismiss out of hand that using

animal tissues may be a very effective way to introduce another

equivalent infection.” Yet experiments in the transfer of animal

tissues continue.

(Julian Cribb is a science writer and author of “The White Death”, a

book on the origins of HIV, published by HarperCollins (Australia)

under their Angus & Robertson imprint.

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Hall/1671/origin.htm

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Andrew Sanders

Nov 25 1999, 3:00 am show options

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From: Andrew Sanders – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/25

Subject: Re: Does HIV cause AIDS?

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In article ,

“D. C. & M. V. Sessions” wrote:

– Hide quoted text –

– Show quoted text –

> Andrew Sanders wrote:

> > Here’s an article disputing the official line on HIV / AIDS with a number

> > of references:

> > http://homepages.go.com/~frann55/hiv.html

> > What you don’t seem to realise is that it is nigh on impossible to

> > publish or receive funding to openly address the issues surrounding HIV-

> > AIDS. All the money is directed at HIV, HIV, and more HIV. That’s why

> > there are thousands of articles published on HIV that wouldn’t dare doubt

> > its involvement in this disease (not that they usually even consider this

> > minor matter) – if they did their funding and careers would disappear

> > overnight. And that explains why you and many others are so defensive on

> > this matter.

> It is nigh on impossible to publish or receive funding to openly address

> the issues surrounding the Flat Earth Hypothesis, too.

You’ve all got it the wrong way around here. For centuries everyone

believed the earth was flat, in spite of plenty of commonsense evidence

to the contrary (planets appearing round, ships masts being visible at a

distance before the hull, etc) until someone was ‘stupid’ enough to put

it to the ultimate test. The analogy here can only be that conventional

HIV-AIDS thinking is, in fact, the flat earth hypothesis.

Andrew.

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bajabum

Nov 25 1999, 3:00 am show options

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From: baja…@my-deja.com – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/25

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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In article ,

“Roger Schlafly” wrote:

> This theory might sound farfetched, but most of the competing theories

> about the origin of AIDS have been shot down.

THE MARBURG MONKEY VIRUS

In mid-August 1967, six years after the SV40 problem came to light, a

mysterious, dangerous, infectious disease broke out simultaneously in

German and Yugoslavian research institutes. Thirty-one people,

including technicians making polio vaccines, suddenly became ill – and

seven died. All those infected had direct contact with monkeys or their

blood, organs or tissue cultures. Other people later got the disease,

too, including hospital personnel who had contact with these patients.

In one case, a woman contracted the disease from the semen of her

husband, who had been infected three months earlier. Though millions of

monkeys had been used as experimental animals and as raw material to

provide kidneys to make vaccines, no such disease had ever been seen

before. Eventually the “Marburg virus” was isolated, and its source was

traced to monkeys shipped from Uganda.

THE CONGO VACCINE

As it happens, equatorial Africa was the site of the world’s first mass

trials of an oral polio vaccine – a vaccine cultured in monkey kidneys

but different in at least one important respect from the Sabin vaccine

ultimately adopted worldwide. This footnote in medical history took

place from 1957 to 1960 right in the middle of what was then the

Belgian Congo, Rwanda and Burundi – the epicenter of the future African

AIDS epidemic. It was developed by a naturalized American polio

researcher named Hilary Koprowski – the same Dr. Koprowski who four

years later would warn congressmen of the dangers of an almost infinite

number of monkey viruses contaminating polio vaccines.

Almost immediately, Koprowski arranged to have his weakened polio

viruses tested in a colony of 150 chimpanzees in Camp Lindi at

Stanleyville, in the Belgian Congo (now Kisangani, Zaire). To protect

the animals’ caretakers, these humans, too, were fed the weakened

virus. The successful immunization of the keepers then became the

justification for mass vaccination trials in the Congo itself- the

first mass trials in the history of an oral polio vaccine.

In 1957, when the Congo trials began, most researchers were using

rhesus macaques from India. It would be another four years before

scientists fully appreciated the danger that macaques, the natural

hosts for SV40, were passing along the virus to humans. Once that

troubling discovery was made, in 1961, vaccine producers shifted to

kidneys from African green monkeys, which in the wild were free of SV40.

Unfortunately, green monkeys were infected with something else. More

than two decades later, in 1982 and 1983, veterinarians at the

California Primate Research Center and at Harvard’s New England Primate

Center observed that large numbers of their macaques were dying

periodically of AIDS-like illnesses. These disorders had been killing

animals since 1969, but suddenly, the researchers were struck by the

similarity to the new disease afflicting American homosexual men. The

monkeys’ illnesses, the researchers discovered, were triggered by a

previously unrecognized retrovirus called simian immunodeficiency virus

(SIV).

Among the natural hosts for this virus were none other than African

green monkeys, but in that species, typically, SIV didn’t cause serious

disease. SIV turned out to be related to HIV, though it was only about

forty percent similar in genetic structure to the chief AIDS-causing

human retrovirus, known as HIV-1. Robert Gallo says some versions of

this monkey virus are virtually indistinguishable from some human

variants of HIV-2, the second virus that causes AIDS in human beings

and mainly afflicts western Africa.

No one who was involved with Koprowski’s Congo project and is alive

today remembers what kind of monkey kidneys were used in 1957-60.

Koprowski is still vigorous and remains at the Wistar Institute, in

Philadelphia – now as an institute professor and until 1991 as the

director of the facility, which is housed in a stolid Victorian

structure on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

Koprowski insists that his associates used kidneys from African green

monkeys to make the Congo vaccines. When I express surprise and mention

that Salk and Sabin were using rhesus monkeys at that point, he agrees

to check. When we speak next, he admits he can’t find a single paper

describing which species was used to make his vaccine. “But I have a

suspicion the virus was grown in the rhesus monkey at the original

beginning,” he tells me in his thick Polish accent. “Now when we

switched to green monkeys, I have no idea.” Thomas Norton, his

associate who grew the virus for the vaccine, is now dead, Koprowski

says – as are those who worked with Norton to prepare the vaccine.

Significantly, the large lots of the vaccine used in the Congo

apparently were prepared at the laboratories of the Wistar Institute,

he says. Wyeth Laboratories made subsequent preparations, including

those used in Poland.

According to no less an authority than Albert Sabin himself, at least

one other virus did contaminate Koprowski’s vaccine used in the Congo.

In 1959, Sabin reported in the British Medical Journal that a special

test he had devised revealed the presence of an “unidentified” cell-

killing virus in “Koprowski’s type 1 ‘Chat’ vaccine used in the Belgian

Congo trials.” More than three decades later, Sabin says he never

figured out exactly what the virus was.

Writing in the British Medical Journal on July 26th, 1958, Koprowski

and his colleagues offered a preliminary report on their mass

vaccination campaign. They included in the paper a detailed map showing

where nearly a quarter million inoculations had taken place in the

northeastern part of the Belgian Congo. The area outlined corresponds

roughly to another map in a report published thirty years later in the

Reviews of Infectious Diseases – this one identifying the regions of

highest HIV infection in equatorial Africa.

Of course, many of the viruses contaminating the monkey kidneys went

unrecognized in the Fifties and early Sixties. Koprowski and his

colleagues in the mass-vaccine campaigns found some monkey viruses and

eliminated them from their preparations. But many others weren’t known,

and no test to identify their presence had been developed. “That’s the

problem,” Koprowski says. “The viruses which you know, there’s a test –

there’s no problem; the viruses which lurk, for which there is no test,

obviously you can’t do anything about.”

http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/dissent/documents/AIDS/Curtis92.h

tml

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Before you buy.

David Wright

Nov 27 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: wri…@nospam.clam (David Wright) – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/27

Subject: Re: Does HIV cause AIDS?

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In article ,

Andrew Sanders wrote:

>In article ,

> “D. C. & M. V. Sessions” wrote:

>> It is nigh on impossible to publish or receive funding to openly address

>> the issues surrounding the Flat Earth Hypothesis, too.

>You’ve all got it the wrong way around here. For centuries everyone

>believed the earth was flat, in spite of plenty of commonsense evidence

>to the contrary (planets appearing round, ships masts being visible at a

>distance before the hull, etc) until someone was ‘stupid’ enough to put

>it to the ultimate test. The analogy here can only be that conventional

>HIV-AIDS thinking is, in fact, the flat earth hypothesis.

It’s nice to see that you’re as ignorant about history as you are

about medicine. Any educated person in Europe over the last 2000

years or so knew the earth was spherical. The ancient Greeks knew

it, for pity’s sake! They even computed how large it was (and

pretty accurately, too).

The reason people laughed at Columbus, dillweed, was that he was

using a bogus figure for the size of the earth and they figured he’d

never make it to Asia. He wouldn’t have, either. Finding the

Americas was a lucky accident.

— David Wright :: wright at ibnets.com :: Not a Spokesman for Anyone

These are my opinions only, but they’re almost always correct.

“What would Brian Boitano do?” — Kyle, Stan, and Cartman

bajabum

Nov 28 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: baja…@my-deja.com – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/28

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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In article ,

Lon Morgan wrote:

> On Mon, 15 Nov 1999 16:06:07 -0800, “Roger Schlafly”

> wrote:

> Outside of being hopelessly antiquated this theory has already been

> tested – endlessly. Most obvious: polio vaccines were produced

> initially using rhesus monkeys – NOT chimpanzees. The process was

> later switched to African green monkeys, again NOT chimpanzees.

> Chimpanzees have NEVER been used in the manufacture of polio vaccines.

> The only thing sillier is the notion of a ‘gay hep b vaccine’ causing

> AIDS!

A NEW THEORY ON THE IATROGENIC ORIGIN OF AIDS

by Leonard G Horowitz, DMD; Walter Kyle, JD; and Alan R Cantwell, Jr.,

MD

We propose a new theory regarding the origin of human immunodeficiency

virus (HIV-1). The simian immunodeficiency virus from the chimpanzee

(SIVcpz) is generally considered the closest nonhuman primate virus

related to HIV-1. We believe this virus, or a closely related simian

virus, most likely contaminated the experimental hepatitis B vaccines

that were administered to gay men in New York City and to blacks in

Central Africa during the 1970s. The introduction of a monkey virus

into the human species via contaminated vaccine programs could have

given rise to a new and unprecedented human immunodeficiency disease,

now commonly known as AIDS.

Robert Gallo, the foremost authority on AIDS, has theorized

that HIV-1 evolved from a virus in African green monkeys that “jumped

species” to infect the black African population. Based on our extensive

review of the scientific literature, we conclude that HIV-1 most likely

evolved and jumped species due to iatrogenic (i.e. man-made) causes.

In the late 1970s the simultaneous emergence of the earliest

cases of AIDS in Central Africa and in New York City closely followed

a period of major scientific advances in molecular recombinant biology

and retrovirology. By the early 1970s researchers had already isolated

RNA-dependent DNA polymerase. Synthetic RNA and cat leukemia retrovirus

templates were added to human type-C viruses associated with lymphatic

cancer. Experimental infection with these genetically engineered hybrid

viruses were reported to cause leukemia, lymphoma and sarcoma.

By the mid 1970s the role of T-lymphocytes in immunosuppression

was clarified. Specific enzymes and other biochemical processes needed

to induce immune system collapse were also identified. In 1971 Fujioka

and Gallo designed experiments in which tumor specific cell tRNA was

added directly to “normal” human white blood cells. To achieve this,

simian monkey virus 40 (SV-40) and mouse parotid tumor (polyoma) virus

were routinely employed to deliver foreign cancer-causing tRNA into

these “normal” human white blood cells. In other experiments the DNA in

SV-40 was commonly replaced with RNA from various animals, including

RNA associated with cat leukemia and chicken sarcoma. Gallo and other

researchers commonly modified monkey viruses enabling these viruses to

induce AIDS-like immunosuppression, cancer, and wasting and death in

primates and lower animals.

It is widely believed that HIV-2 (which purportedly preceded

the evolution of HIV-1) and HIV-1 both share a common viral ancestor,

the so-called simian immunodeficiency virus from the African green

monkey (SIVagm). In addition, SIVmac, a macaque monkey virus

laboratory contaminant, has also been found to be identical to HIV-2.

Because HIV-2 has never been found in macaques in the wild, humans who

are now infected with HIV-2 were most likely infected via contaminated

vaccines.

Narayan et al. have produced an experimental AIDS-like illness

in monkeys by using a hybrid of HIV-1 which contains a core of the

monkey virus and an outer coat of the human AIDS virus. Primate cancer

virus researchers used a similar process (albeit in reverse) to develop

AIDS-like viruses that could infect human cells. (See Fig.1). Recent

research suggests that some HIV-positive individuals may maintain the

envelop of the AIDS virus in their cells as a “normal” gene. A gene

like this could have recombined with one of more vaccine-induced simian

virus particles to produce an iatrogenic monkey/human hybrid virus like

HIV-2. Or evolved further into HIV-1.

The experimental hepatitis B vaccines and polio vaccines have

been implicated by some investigators as possible sources of HIV virus

contamination and intercontinental transmission. Although one report

exonerated the experimental hepatitis B vaccine used in gay men in 1980

in Denver and San Francisco, no analysis was performed on possibly

contaminated hepatitis B vaccines that were administered in New York

City and in Africa, as early as 1972.

Between 1972 and 1974 hepatitis B vaccine producers, under

contract with the U.S. Army and the National Cancer Institute (where

Gallo worked), used chimpanzees to grow hepatitis B virus that could

not be grown in human or monkey cell cultures. This MS-2 strain of the

hepatitis B virus was subsequently used to develop four subtypes of

experimental hepatitis B vaccine that were used in different parts of

the world. Some vaccine researchers have expressed concern that “more

than 70%” of their experimental animals had been cross-contaminated

with hepatitis B and other viruses.

Up to the present time the U.S. government and pharmaceutical

industry disregard simian virus contaminants below 100 particles per

dose. Thus, contamination of live polio and other vaccines by SV-40,

simian foamy retroviruses, and SIVagm, can occur. Due to their highly

unstable nature, simian foamy viruses contaminants can give rise to

viral recombinants and cross the species barrier. We hypothesize that

the use of live viral vaccines in New York and Africa during the 1970s

could have generated AIDS-virus progenitors, such as HIV-2 and SIVcpz.

In addition, the possibility that HIV-1 evolved iatrogenically

in human subjects (specifically Willowbrook State School mentally

retarded children and/or gay volunteers for the hepatitis B vaccine

experiments) as a result of polio vaccination in the late 1950s or

early 1960s cannot be ruled out. One experimental hepatitis B vaccine

manufactured in the mid-1970s was made from the blood serum of gay men.

Some of these young men likely received polio vaccines as children,

which could have been contaminated with SV-40, SIVagm, simian foamy

virus, or other HIV-1 progenitor viruses. Since certain hepatitis B

vaccine experiments took place simultaneously in Africa and New York

City in the late 1970s, this could explain the initial AIDS outbreak on

both continents in the early 1980s.

To prevent possible conflict of interests, PCR (polymerase

chain reaction) genetic analysis of these suspected vaccines should be

undertaken by independent laboratories. The original vaccines are

allegedly in safe keeping at the FDA. However, our inquiries to the

FDA’s Bureau of Biologics have failed to elicit a response because

details of these vaccines and their manufacture remain “classified” for

reasons of national security. Independent epidemiologic studies to

ascertain the actual number of deaths from AIDS in groups exposed to

these early experimental hepatitis B vaccines should also be

undertaken.

As part of the hepatitis B vaccine experiments undertaken in

the 1970s, the Bureau, along with the CDC, the NIAID, Merck

pharmaceutical company, and other industry contractors, developed

certain “pools of hepatitis B virus of known infectivity” from the

blood of gay men that also contained “subtypes of HBsAg,” (i.e.

hepatitis B surface antigen). This product was also adminstered to

chimpanzees in hepatitis B experiments.

Most people believe AIDS originated as a quirk of nature in

which a monkey virus “jumped species” to infect the African population.

In our view, the widely-accepted green monkey theory is weak in

comparison with our research which supports a man-made, vaccine-

induced origin of AIDS.

HIV and its progenitors more likely evolved from simian (i.e.

monkey) viruses altered by the deliberate or inadvertant insertion of

cancer-causing viral particles from other animal species. We

hypothesize these man-made mutants crossed over to infect the human

population via contaminated vaccine experiments and vaccine programs.

Such experiments and outcomes were commonplace in cancer virus research

laboratories during the 1970s, at a time when collaborative vaccine

developmental programs were ongoing, and before the initial outbreak

of AIDS.

The transmission of hybrid viruses from contaminated animals

and laboratories involved in vaccine production might also best explain

the simultaneous outbreak of the first cases of AIDS in Africa and in

New York in the late 1970s, as well as the peculiar epidemiology of

AIDS which initially affected white homosexual men in the U.S. and

black heterosexual Africans. Additional confirmatory studies are

required to provide the scientific and health professional communities,

as well as the general public, with all the facts.

ftp://ftp.win.net/winnet/tetra/pub/Origin_of_AIDS.txt

Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/

Before you buy.

David Wright

Nov 28 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: wri…@nospam.clam (David Wright) – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/28

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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In article , wrote:

>In article ,

> wri…@nospam.clam (David Wright) wrote:

>> In article ,

>wrote:

>> >In article ,

>> Bajabum, you certainly believe everything you read — if it’s

>> sufficiently alarmist. I don’t think you really understand it, or can

>> evaluate it, but you believe it anyway.

>> The idea that the AIDS tests are highly unreliable is a myth. Nobody

>> is diagnosed HIV+ on the basis of just one test. Not these days.

long quoted article snipped. bajabum, you also have the bad habit of

posting stuff in a way that makes it look as though you wrote it, at

least until the very end. Even the odious Scudamore just posts

URLs to the tripe he believes. You should do likewise, since you also

snip out the references, assuming there are any.

In any case, your dopey, out-of-date, unrefereed article has already

been soundly thrashed by other posters. It looks terribly ominous,

but it’s not, for several reasons. One, nobody gets a positive

diagnosis of HIV+ on the basis of a single WB test, and in fact, the

WB is seldom the first test. ELISA is, because it’s more accurate and

cheaper. Your article is a blatant misuse of statistics; actually,

it doesn’t really even contain any useful statistics, but you have to

look at it carefully to realize that.

The “Perth Group” is the only group that thinks it’s on to anything.

Nobody else takes them seriously.

— David Wright :: wright at ibnets.com :: Not a Spokesman for Anyone

These are my opinions only, but they’re almost always correct.

“What would Brian Boitano do?” — Kyle, Stan, and Cartman

David Wright

Nov 28 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: wri…@nospam.clam (David Wright) – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/28

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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– Hide quoted text –

– Show quoted text –

In article , wrote:

>In article ,

> Lon Morgan wrote:

>> On Mon, 15 Nov 1999 16:06:07 -0800, “Roger Schlafly”

>> wrote:

>> Outside of being hopelessly antiquated this theory has already been

>> tested – endlessly. Most obvious: polio vaccines were produced

>> initially using rhesus monkeys – NOT chimpanzees. The process was

>> later switched to African green monkeys, again NOT chimpanzees.

>> Chimpanzees have NEVER been used in the manufacture of polio vaccines.

>> The only thing sillier is the notion of a ‘gay hep b vaccine’ causing

>> AIDS!

>A NEW THEORY ON THE IATROGENIC ORIGIN OF AIDS

>by Leonard G Horowitz, DMD; Walter Kyle, JD; and Alan R Cantwell, Jr.,

>MD

The main trouble with this dopey “theory” is that it ignores some

inconvenient problems, like the earliest known human serum sample that

is HIV+ dates from 1959. There are plenty of others from the early

1970s.

— David Wright :: wright at ibnets.com :: Not a Spokesman for Anyone

These are my opinions only, but they’re almost always correct.

“What would Brian Boitano do?” — Kyle, Stan, and Cartman

Bennett

Nov 28 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: “Bennett” – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/28

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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David Wright wrote in message …

>In any case, your dopey, out-of-date, unrefereed article has already

>been soundly thrashed by other posters. It looks terribly ominous,

>but it’s not, for several reasons. One, nobody gets a positive

>diagnosis of HIV+ on the basis of a single WB test, and in fact, the

>WB is seldom the first test. ELISA is, because it’s more accurate and

>cheaper.

ELISA in fact is probably not as “accurate” in the strict sense, simply

because it can give too many false positives. However, WB is about the

opposite, sorting out the true negatives that “passed” the ELISA screen.

It’s for this reason that ELISA is the first screening test, often used

twice in series, and then followed up with a WB or “LINE assay” (based on

the same principle) to confirm and type the infection (HIV-1/HIV-2).

Your article is a blatant misuse of statistics; actually,

>it doesn’t really even contain any useful statistics, but you have to

>look at it carefully to realize that.

>The “Perth Group” is the only group that thinks it’s on to anything.

>Nobody else takes them seriously.

The Perth group write, and get published, some dangerously incorrect

statements. For example, I showed very simply that their article arguing

that ‘AZT was useless’, was in fact showing just the opposite, but that by

making an assumption (and possibly ignoring published work) they were able

to make their case. I spoke publically to one of the authors on that paper,

and he tried to argue his case to me using a paper that contradicted their

work in the _abstract_. I despaired.

http://x35.deja.com/getdoc.xp?AN=479750643

http://x35.deja.com/getdoc.xp?AN=481930246

http://x35.deja.com/getdoc.xp?AN=483394966

I suspect (but have yet to formally show) that their assertations on the

validity of the WB are equally unfounded, but based on their track record I

hold their views in very low regard.

Cheers

Bennett

Lon Morgan

Nov 28 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: Lon Morgan – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/28

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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On Sun, 28 Nov 1999 15:31:35 GMT, baja…@my-deja.com wrote:

>A NEW THEORY ON THE IATROGENIC ORIGIN OF AIDS

>by Leonard G Horowitz, DMD

>We propose a new theory …experimental hepatitis B vaccines

>that were administered to gay men in New York City

Ah yes, Baja contines the confused, conflicted ‘Scudamorish’

befuddlement.

Is AIDS from:

a – a ‘contaminated polio vaccine’, or is it

b – a ‘gay hep b vaccine’, or is it

c – AIDS is really just syphilis and HIV is irrelevant, or maybe

d – Moon-Rays!

Baja can’t seem to decide which conspiracy theory to go with either.

Baja further cannot comprehend that the theories are so mutually

exclusive: if one of them is ‘true’, then the others couldn’t

possibly be. But this kind of rudimentary common sense is irrelevant.

As long as there’s a venue of conspiratorial theories to pick from

Baja ( and John) will just alternate each day between them. And

neither one of them can commit to whether HIV is bad or not.

Horowitz is a dentist. Fine. He’s not a virologist. He has ZERO

training or research experience in virology.

Horowitz claims to have written over 80 publications, but a medline

search does not produce even one. Apparently his material is so

mediocre it can’t get by peer review anywhere. Which is undoubtedly

just one more chapter in his conspiracy delusions. Instead of doing

an accountable reassessment of his crackpot ideas, he just keeps

selling books to the paranoid and gullible.

Sad.

In 1993, the same year Horowitz produced his comic-book, an excellent

title by the same name -“Emerging Viruses” -, edited by Stephen S.

Morse, (Oxford Press) was published. Contributions were made by well

over 40 experts in virology from all over the country. Those addicted

to endless rounds of paranoia will be disappointed by the outcome.

What Morse makes clear is that in addition to HIV and Ebola numerous

other viruses have emerged, including: Junin, Hantaan, Oropouche,

Omsk, Kyasanur Forest, Crimean-Congo, Lassa, Rift Vally, Nile Valley,

to name only a few.

One other recent publication noted the emergence of over 50 new

viruses in the past 10 years. The emergence of these viruses has much

to do with human activity: changes in agriculture, increased

populations, dams, irrigation, sexual activity, etc.

No shred of a ‘vaccine connection’ in any of them.

As Winston Churchill noted:

“The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may

resent it; ignorance my deride it; malice

may distort it; but there it is.”

The possibility exists that one or more of these viruses will take on

increased importance as a threat to human health. If/when that

happens I wonder which vaccine the anti-vac-wacs will blame?

Chicken pox, no doubt!

“Issues in Immunization: the Evidence”

http://fp1.cyberhighway.net/~lmorgan/

Lon Morgan

email: lmorgan AT cyberhighway DOT net

“The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may

resent it; ignorance my deride it; malice

may distort it; but there it is.”

– Winston Churchill –

bajabum

Nov 29 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: baja…@my-deja.com – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/29

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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In article ,

Lon Morgan wrote:

> On Sun, 28 Nov 1999 15:31:35 GMT, baja…@my-deja.com wrote:

> >A NEW THEORY ON THE IATROGENIC ORIGIN OF AIDS

> >by Leonard G Horowitz, DMD

> >We propose a new theory …experimental hepatitis B vaccines

> >that were administered to gay men in New York City

> Horowitz is a dentist. Fine. He’s not a virologist. He has ZERO

> training or research experience in virology.

> Horowitz claims to have written over 80 publications, but a medline

> search does not produce even one. Apparently his material is so

> mediocre it can’t get by peer review anywhere. Which is undoubtedly

> just one more chapter in his conspiracy delusions. Instead of doing

> an accountable reassessment of his crackpot ideas, he just keeps

> selling books to the paranoid and gullible.

Congress Explores Vaccine and Biological Weapons Links:

Leading Expert Submits Stunning Suppressed NCI Reports

Date Mailed: Oct. 12, 1999

Contact: Jackie Lindenbach

Sandpoint, ID
in Washington, D.C. to discuss contractual links between vaccine

makers, defense contractors, and the biological weapons industry, the

nation’s leading authority on the subject will not be there. He simply

wasn’t invited. Dr. Leonard Horowitz, leading a massive grassroots

crusade to expose certain vaccine makers’ links to biological weapons

producers, defense department (DoD) contractors, and a plethora of

emerging diseases affecting millions of Americans, was merely asked to

submit his documentation for future consideration by the U.S.

Government Reforms Committee (GRC) that is chaired by Congressman Dan

Burton (R-IN). The doctor¹s submission includes stunning National

Cancer Institute (NCI) reports tying several cancer epidemics and

autoimmune diseases to contaminated vaccines and possible biological

weapons experiments.

These documents, he believes, will unlikely make it to the floor for

discussion. According to Beth Clay, a GRC staff member in Dan Burton’s

office, the committee is unaware of “The Special Virus Cancer Program

(SVCP)” that Dr. Horowitz’s materials document. The SVCP was a largely

funded, mostly secret, NCI sponsored program. During the 1960s and

early 1970s, contractors engineered numerous genetically altered

viruses and disease triggers, some descriptively and functionally

identical to even the AIDS virus (HIV) and Ebola. After they were

developed, isolated, and cultured, they were tested according to

contract reports. This was done illegally under the guise of “cancer

research” according to Dr. Horowitz.

Included in his submission is the SVCP pharmaceutical company contract

under which a 1974 experimental hepatitis B vaccine was prepared in

chimpanzees for human use, then given to gay men in New York City and

Blacks in Central Africa. This, according to Dr. Horowitz, and even

some scientists connected to the study, most likely triggered the

international AIDS pandemic. “In my estimation, Dr. Horowitz has

unearthed a covert operation, run amok, that is bigger than any secret

operation in U.S. history,” reported retired Colonel Jack Kingston,

Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board in Washington.

Previously on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, Mr. Kingston

called Dr. Horowitz’s revelations “more momentous in it’s implications

to humanity than the atomic weapons OManhattan Project’ of World War

II.” His letter accompanied a proposal submitted to HBO by National

Geographic film producer Ron Quarachi. Mr. Quarachi has contracted for

the film rights to Dr. Horowitz’s work. A documentary based on Dr.

Horowitz¹s bestselling book, “Emerging Viruses: AIDS & Ebola Accident

of Intentional?” (Tetrahedron Press, 1997;1-888-508-4787;

http://www.tetrahedron.org), wherein several potentially explosive NCI

reports are reprinted, is currently in production by Nashville

independent film producer Brent Leung.

“It’s unfortunate that legislators won’t see these documents early in

their investigation.” Dr. Horowitz said. “The longer the connections

between certain military­medical­industrialists, biological weapons

makers, and vaccine manufacturers is withheld, the greater the rising

tide of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and emerging infections will be.

Without getting into conspiracy theories, it’s synchronous and ironic

that Dan Burton’s committee won’t hear these critical truths at the

exact time the media is advising people regarding their risk of

immanent’ biological weapons attacks, and need to reduce world

populations.”

http://www.tetrahedron.org/Press_Releases/pr02.htm

Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/

Before you buy.

David Wright

Nov 29 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: wri…@nospam.clam (David Wright) – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/29

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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– Hide quoted text –

– Show quoted text –

In article , wrote:

>In article ,

> Lon Morgan wrote:

>> On Sun, 28 Nov 1999 15:31:35 GMT, baja…@my-deja.com wrote:

>> >A NEW THEORY ON THE IATROGENIC ORIGIN OF AIDS

>> >by Leonard G Horowitz, DMD

>> >We propose a new theory …experimental hepatitis B vaccines

>> >that were administered to gay men in New York City

>> Horowitz is a dentist. Fine. He’s not a virologist. He has ZERO

>> training or research experience in virology.

>> Horowitz claims to have written over 80 publications, but a medline

>> search does not produce even one. Apparently his material is so

>> mediocre it can’t get by peer review anywhere. Which is undoubtedly

>> just one more chapter in his conspiracy delusions. Instead of doing

>> an accountable reassessment of his crackpot ideas, he just keeps

>> selling books to the paranoid and gullible.

>Congress Explores Vaccine and Biological Weapons Links:

>Leading Expert Submits Stunning Suppressed NCI Reports

>Date Mailed: Oct. 12, 1999

>Contact: Jackie Lindenbach

>Sandpoint, ID
>in Washington, D.C. to discuss contractual links between vaccine

>makers, defense contractors, and the biological weapons industry, the

>nation’s leading authority on the subject will not be there. He simply

>wasn’t invited. Dr. Leonard Horowitz,

Who says he’s “the leading authority?” The article?

Anyway, the biggest question I’ve got about this so-called “Special

Virus Cancer Program” is: where’s the time machine they used to

infect serum samples taken before the program was started?

— David Wright :: wright at ibnets.com :: Not a Spokesman for Anyone

These are my opinions only, but they’re almost always correct.

“What would Brian Boitano do?” — Kyle, Stan, and Cartman

Roger Schlafly

Nov 29 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: “Roger Schlafly” – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/29

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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David Wright wrote in message

news:81rn2a$ifr$1@autumn.news.rcn.net…

> The main trouble with this dopey “theory” is that it ignores some

> inconvenient problems, like the earliest known human serum sample that

> is HIV+ dates from 1959. There are plenty of others from the early

> 1970s.

That 1959 case was from the Congo, a few miles from where

an experimental polio vaccine program was started in 1957.

A article in today’s NYTimes discusses the book and the

hypothesis that the polio vaccine is the origin of AIDS.

It treats the idea as a plausible scientific hypothesis that

should be taken seriously.

“With 16 million people dead and 33 million more infected, AIDS is among the

worst epidemics in history. A seriously researched theory about something so

devastating deserves a full scientific investigation even if the theory is

unlikely and chances of proving or disproving it are slim. ..

Yet many scientists say privately that publicizing Hooper’s theory would

risk tarnishing public confidence in the safety of vaccines.”

http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/health/113099hth-aids…

s.html

(registration required, but it is free)

bajabum

Nov 30 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: baja…@my-deja.com – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/30

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

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In article ,

wri…@nospam.clam (David Wright) wrote:

> In article ,

wrote:

> >In article ,

> > Lon Morgan wrote:

> >> On Mon, 15 Nov 1999 16:06:07 -0800, “Roger Schlafly”

> >> wrote:

> The main trouble with this dopey “theory” is that it ignores some

> inconvenient problems, like the earliest known human serum sample

that

> is HIV+ dates from 1959. There are plenty of others from the early

> 1970s.

Letter to the Editor:

Response to Zhu et al. 1959 Origin of AIDS

By

Leonard G. Horowitz, D.M.D.,M.A.,M.P.H.

Introduction

The politically correct analysis applied to Zhu et al.’s speculative

findings published in “An African HIV-1 sequence from 1959 and

implications for the origin of the epidemic,” was unbecoming of Nature

(February 5, 1998). The authors concluded that four genetic fragments

isolated from the blood of an African man in 1959, “authenticate this

case as the oldest known HIV-1 infection.” They added that the genetic

sequences suggested that “all major [HIV] group viruses, may have

evolved from a single introduction into the African population not long

before 1959.(1)

Another objectionable conclusion was spun by the Zhu et al. team leader

David Ho in the study’s heralding article in The New York Times (3).

His group’s findings, Ho claimed, put an end to the theory that the

AIDS virus was engineered in American biological warfare laboratories

by Pentagon contractors–a theory initially advanced by a British

medical scholar, John Seale, though Ho falsely accused Russian spin

doctors for the alleged hoax.(4)

Questionable Background and Methods

Historically, this “case” and blood sample had raised

questions. Nahmias et al. allegedly found HIV-1 in this one of 1,213

Leopoldville blood samples.(6) These samples had been available for

more than a quarter century, that is, from the 1950s when large scale

polio vaccine trials were also underway in Leopoldville. Following

publication of their study, however, the sample was said to have been

lost.(7) Thus, confirmatory studies could not be undertaken.

For Zhu et al. this sample fortuitously reappeared. From it

they extracted viral RNA. “As it turned out,” wrote Wain-Hobson, “the

HIV genomic RNA was substantially degraded, meaning that, after much

labour, the authors could obtain only a few 300-nucleotide fragments of

DNA.” Then “multiple primers [additional RNA sequences] were used

[i.e., mixed in with the original isolated fragments] in a single RT

[reverse transcriptase initiated] reaction, and all synthesized

complementary DNAs were amplified by PCR [polymerase chain reaction]

using primers designed to amplify HIV-1 sequences from all known

subtypes. . . . This mixture was heated to 70 degrees C for 10 minutes

and used to synthesize HIV-1 cDNA . . . Each PCR product was then

purified, cloned and sequenced.

The “synthesized” sequences of HIV, the authors stated,

allowed “ample [genetic] comparisons” and the construction of family

trees reflecting the evolution of the virus and its relatives.

Certainly such methods and materials should bare scrutiny.

Common sense begs to know how HIV-1, composed of several genes

including the LTR, gag, pol, nef, and env portions, and a few smaller

ones sprinkled in, could be honestly “synthesized” from four degraded

fragments of just two of these, the pol and env, genes? The four

fragments were manipulated, the authors described, then labeled ZR59a,

b,c, and d. They said these compared very closely with the GenBank data

base. There was only a “0-3% divergence. . . . [and] maximum sequence

identity scores of 92% (ZR59a), 96% (ZR59b), and 94% (ZR59c) confirmed

that the ZR59 sequences are indeed unique and unlikely to be the result

of PCR contamination.”

Vaccine Contamination: A Politically Incorrect Perspective

A curious association advanced by the authors was that “[f]or most

regions of the HIV-1 genome, subtypes B and D are more closely

associated with each other than are any other subtypes with the major

group.” Of the six major AIDS virus subtypes, the B subtype is most

common to North America. The D subtype is most common to Uganda, and

the F subtype is most common in Zaire.(9) The authors’ analysis showed

an “unusual B/D/F clustering found in [their] phylogenetic analyses.”

Given the administration of contaminated monkey kidney tissue derived

polio vaccines in these areas from the mid 1950s through the 1960s; and

later, the testing of contaminated hepatitis B (HB) vaccines in these

specific areas during the late 1960s through mid-1970s, the B, D and F

subtypes may have closely evolved in experimental subjects, or in the

vaccines given them. Critically relevant is the fact that these early

experimental hepatitis B vaccines were tested in these areas of the

world, and in the populations most plagued by AIDS.(10) These four

subtype HB vaccines were partially processed in live contaminated

chimpanzees housed in New York City where biohazard and containment

problems were reported.(11) After growth in contaminated chimpanzees,

live HB viruses were inoculated into human subjects whose blood serum

was then taken to develop 200,000 doses including four subtypes of the

HB vaccine administered by 1974.(10) The close link between HIV-1 and

chimpanzee SIV is well established, and might be best explained in this

manner.(12)

Read the complete letter here:

ftp://ftp.win.net/winnet/tetra/pub/David_Ho_Paper_Nature_Rebuttal.txt

Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/

Before you buy.

Andrew Sanders

Nov 30 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: Andrew Sanders – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/30

Subject: Re: Does HIV cause AIDS?

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In article ,

wri…@nospam.clam (David Wright) wrote:

– Hide quoted text –

– Show quoted text –

> In article ,

> Andrew Sanders wrote:

> >In article ,

> > “D. C. & M. V. Sessions” wrote:

> >> It is nigh on impossible to publish or receive funding to openly address

> >> the issues surrounding the Flat Earth Hypothesis, too.

> >You’ve all got it the wrong way around here. For centuries everyone

> >believed the earth was flat, in spite of plenty of commonsense evidence

> >to the contrary (planets appearing round, ships masts being visible at a

> >distance before the hull, etc) until someone was ‘stupid’ enough to put

> >it to the ultimate test. The analogy here can only be that conventional

> >HIV-AIDS thinking is, in fact, the flat earth hypothesis.

> It’s nice to see that you’re as ignorant about history as you are

> about medicine. Any educated person in Europe over the last 2000

> years or so knew the earth was spherical. The ancient Greeks knew

> it, for pity’s sake! They even computed how large it was (and

> pretty accurately, too).

> The reason people laughed at Columbus, dillweed, was that he was

> using a bogus figure for the size of the earth and they figured he’d

> never make it to Asia. He wouldn’t have, either. Finding the

> Americas was a lucky accident.

Isn’t it uncanny that all of you HIV-AIDS hypothesis fundamentalists are

so unbelievably rude and condescending. And you wonder why people don’t

autmatically believe what you say is the gospel truth? I’m no historian,

but the point I was making is that people believed the earth was flat

first, before going on to learn the truth; the parallel here is that

people have universally believed the HIV-AIDS hypothesis first with some

dissenting voices being rasied later on – thus making the ‘flat earth’

analogy relevant to the HIV-AIDS hypothesis rather than to those who

doubt it.

Please don’t bother to reply again, unless you can force yourself to be

civil.

Andrew.

Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/

Before you buy.

Bennett

Nov 30 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: “Bennett” – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/30

Subject: Re: Does HIV cause AIDS?

Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show original | Report Abuse

Andrew Sanders wrote in message …

>Isn’t it uncanny that all of you HIV-AIDS hypothesis fundamentalists are

>so unbelievably rude and condescending. And you wonder why people don’t

>autmatically believe what you say is the gospel truth? I’m no historian,

>but the point I was making is that people believed the earth was flat

>first, before going on to learn the truth; the parallel here is that

>people have universally believed the HIV-AIDS hypothesis first with some

>dissenting voices being rasied later on – thus making the ‘flat earth’

>analogy relevant to the HIV-AIDS hypothesis rather than to those who

>doubt it.

Actually, all of the dissident views were considered as possible reasons for

AIDS, it’s just that while most people accepted evidence that showed them to

be untenable, a few marched on regardless. Yes, believe it or not studies

have actually been done “for” dissident science, it’s just that it wasn’t

dissident at the time. Duesberg’s arguments “against” HIV are easily

refuted (done it myself) and his arguments “for” drug abuse/AZT have been

tested in studies.

The analogy is _continuing_ to believe the Earth is flat, when evidence

exists to disprove that. Believing in it in the first place isn’t a crime

when you know no better. The condescention creeps in from trying to argue

against people who _ought_ to know better 😉

Cheers

Bennett

bajabum

Nov 30 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: baja…@my-deja.com – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/30

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show original | Report Abuse

In article ,

“Roger Schlafly” wrote:

> “With 16 million people dead and 33 million more infected, AIDS is

among the

> worst epidemics in history. A seriously researched theory about

something so

> devastating deserves a full scientific investigation even if the

theory is

> unlikely and chances of proving or disproving it are slim. ..

> Yet many scientists say privately that publicizing Hooper’s theory

would

> risk tarnishing public confidence in the safety of vaccines.”

Maintaining public confidence in the system is the key element

necessary for voluntary compliance. The general public will blindly co-

operate as long as they perceive the benifits to outweigh the risks.

As far as a full investigation goes the spin doctors parrot “Actually,

all of the dissident views were considered as possible reasons for

AIDS, it’s just that while most people accepted evidence that showed

them to be untenable, a few marched on regardless. Yes, believe it or

not studies have actually been done “for” dissident science”, there by

placing anyone who continues to question orthodoxy as belonging to

the “flat earth society”.

The science behind all this is insignificant compared to the mind

control and propaganda involved in maintaining the belief systems for

control and manipulation of the masses. In fact science has become

nothing more than a side show designed to distract and confuse the

public mind, creating a ruling class of experts who know all and are

beyond reproach.

Those who profit from the system will defend it to the bitter end, at

any cost. They feed at the public trough and their appetite is never

satisfied. They will eat as much as we are willing to feed them.

Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/

Before you buy.

David Wright

Nov 30 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: wri…@nospam.clam (David Wright) – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/30

Subject: Re: Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show original | Report Abuse

In article ,

Roger Schlafly wrote:

>David Wright wrote in message

>news:81rn2a$ifr$1@autumn.news.rcn.net…

>> The main trouble with this dopey “theory” is that it ignores some

>> inconvenient problems, like the earliest known human serum sample that

>> is HIV+ dates from 1959. There are plenty of others from the early

>> 1970s.

>That 1959 case was from the Congo, a few miles from where

>an experimental polio vaccine program was started in 1957.

>A article in today’s NYTimes discusses the book and the

>hypothesis that the polio vaccine is the origin of AIDS.

>It treats the idea as a plausible scientific hypothesis that

>should be taken seriously.

The question is which theory we’re talking about. The idea that

HIV was spread via polio vaccines grown on the kidneys of infected

monkeys or chimps is at least possible, I suppose. I was referring

to the idea that a virus supposedly genetically engineered in the

1970s travelled back in time.

I still have a lot of trouble with the genetic engineering idea,

though. Building HIV to order is beyond the state of the art

even today, as far as I can see. And if, in 1975, you had somehow

managed to tinker with some existing viruses to construct HIV, how

would you know what you had created? If you tried it out in lab

animals, it would have appeared to do nothing. It takes so long to

operate that if you tried it out (HOW?) in humans, it wouldn’t seem

to be doing anything either. And even if you somehow knew what you

had, why on earth would you release it into the world? It would be

quite impossible to control and apt to kill just about anyone.

— David Wright :: wright at ibnets.com :: Not a Spokesman for Anyone

These are my opinions only, but they’re almost always correct.

“What would Brian Boitano do?” — Kyle, Stan, and Cartman

Roger Schlafly

Nov 30 1999, 3:00 am show options

Newsgroups: misc.kids.health, sci.med

From: “Roger Schlafly” – Find messages by this author

Date: 1999/11/30

Subject: Re: Does HIV cause AIDS?

Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show original | Report Abuse

Andrew Sanders wrote in message

news:820a9m$6mv$1@nnrp1.deja.com…

> Isn’t it uncanny that all of you HIV-AIDS hypothesis fundamentalists are

> so unbelievably rude and condescending.

Not. He properly corrected you on a historical fact.

> And you wonder why people don’t

> autmatically believe what you say is the gospel truth? I’m no historian,

> but the point I was making is that people believed the earth was flat

> first, before going on to learn the truth; the parallel here is that

> people have universally believed the HIV-AIDS hypothesis first with some

> dissenting voices being rasied later on – thus making the ‘flat earth’

> analogy relevant to the HIV-AIDS hypothesis rather than to those who

> doubt it.

Your analogy is completely bogus. You are the one who is

refusing to accept the facts about the flat earth theory.

There are lots of historical examples of scientific controversies,

if you want to make an analogy. But you have to get your facts

right (or at least somewhat similar to the truth) if it is going to

help your case.

« Older Messages 26 – 50 of 59 Newer »

Other general examples of intelligent science/skeptic blogs include

Immunoblogging – Debunking the claims of pseudoscience one quack at a time. JM O’Donnell, New Zealand. (“I’ve now come to the end of my degree and will have a Bsc(Hons) in Microbiology and Immunology (need to walk in the graduation ceremony to make it all official). At the moment I’m just going to look for a job for a small break from study and then think about moving onto a PhD.”) A pro-HIV?AIDS paradigm blogger with anti-Dean Esmay posts.

Science and Politics Red-State Serbian Jewish atheist liberal PhD student with Thesis-writing block and severe blogorrhea trying to understand US politics by making strange connections between science, religion, brain, language and sex. – Bora Zivkovic, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

Scientific Assessment – A Circle for Assessing Science as it Enters the Realm of Politics

I was motivated to start blogging back in January of this year by a desire to express my outrage at Bush administration policies, relating to science in particular. Alarmed by Bush’s “mandate”, the agressive invasion of science by religion in the form of ID, little progress overturning the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, attacks on the Endangered Species Act, and so on ad nauseum, I was tired of sitting idly by as moderates such as myself were being marginalized by the far right.

Bad Science, the usual debunking and quackbusting, but written by a professional journalist at least, one Dr Ben Goldacre, apparently a medical correspondent for the Guardian, and states he has a BBC documentary coming up, and a book out next September called “Bad Science” from Forth Estate/ Harper Collins. A key attraction on the site – Placebo pills for sale – has unfortunately sold out.

“Bad Science” Placebo Pills £8.99

Exploit the power of the mind-body connection while your consciousness isn’t looking. These Placebo tablets come in blisterpacks of 12, in their own Bad Science approved Placebo packaging. This medication has been proven effective in more clinical trials than any other. Rebrand the pills and imbue them with cultural meaning to your own nefarious

ends. A limited edition of 100 packets. Placebo: because a doctor gave it to you. This limited edition has, to my complete astonishment, sold out.

This is not to say that the posters are not a cut above the ordinary brain dead mortal, refreshing in their arrogant intelligence and interest in documented reason.

They are, for they typically include many generally bright people. Matt of Pooflingers nicely demonstrates his literary prowess with his introduction to the Twenty-first Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle:


The Twenty-first Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle has been posted at Pooflingers Anonymous, and Matt may have come up with the most unusual and creative format yet. Shakespeare, anyone? It begins:

A school of thought, lacking credulity,

In Skeptics’ Circle, where we lay our scene,

From doubting mind springs forth some sanity,

Where decent thought doth wash the B.S. clean.

‘Tis here we place the quacks in fatal throes,

For lies do seem to take on their own life;

And greatly do increase the public’s woes,

Thus do the skeptics ever dwell in strife.

‘Tis this, the thing which doubters most do love:

To purge the crap and bring the truth to light.

They do not ask for answers from above,

But use critical thinking as they might.

If your most patient eyes do wish to read,

The Circle hath such answers as you need.

Go thou forth and be inoculated against the credulous claims that flood the blogosphere!

What’s lacking is all too often the smarts of the person who sees the broader picture. Why generalists outdo those with a better eye for detail we admit we do not really know, but it might be called the Jimmy Carter principle – in science as elsewhere many people cannot see the wood for the trees, and even though they are personally familiar with most of the trees, they cannot find the shortest way out of the forest.

Here is the full copy of the Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter 62 which alerted us to the SkepticWiki, showing Carroll’s wide range of skepticism, admirable in itself:

the Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter 62

December 7, 2005

“For every complicated problem there is a solution that is simple, direct, understandable, and wrong.” — H. L. Mencken

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD! Tell your friends and foes about the FREE Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter. Remind them that I don’t give or sell e-mail addresses to anyone.

Previous newsletters are archived at skepdic.com/news/

To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to add@skepdic.com

To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail to sdunsubscribe@skepdic.com

Do not reply to this e-mail.

Send feedback to sdfb@skepdic.com

What’s New in The Skeptic’s Dictionary & Skeptic’s Refuge

Entries have been added on frontier medicine and healing touch. I posted a rant on asbestos and fair play.

A link to an article about a man who has recanted his claims of molestation has been added to the entry on satanic ritual abuse. I updated the intelligent design entry to include news of the latest events in Dover, PA, and Kansas.

A link was added to the Amway entry about that company’s recent activity in China.

I also added a link to the Mary Kay support group on the MLM page.

The Pleiadians page was updated to include some more data on hoaxer Billy Meier.

I revised the selection bias, paraskevidekatriaphobia, and animism entries.

I also posted a few items regarding a Kansas University professor’s battle with intelligent design and its defenders. (See the next section.)

Skeptics and Party Time

“Aren’t skeptics party poopers? Aren’t you the ones who are raining on everybody’s parade?” Like other skeptics that I’ve heard answer this question in an interview, I lied and told my last interviewer that being rational and asking others to be rational was really good for the party. Things are so interesting when understood scientifically rather than magically. Yada, yada, yada. However, I wish I’d said the following:

Yes, skeptics are the destroyers of dreams and beliefs that many people cherish: beliefs about God, the soul, and immortality. Even our criticisms of ESP, EVP, UFOs and other non-religious notions can strike nerves that threaten the core beliefs of people. The ideas we deal with may be considered fringe ideas by us but they are core ideas to the people who hold them. We’re a threat. If we’re right, everything they believe in may collapse. We are party poopers. We do rain on the parade.

Criticizing intelligent design (ID) or supporting evolution, for example, is seen by many religious people as a threat to their core beliefs about the Bible. If evolution is correct, then it would not be right to persecute homosexuals or transgender persons. If the Bible is right, then there are just two sexes and the only normal sex is intercourse between a married man and his wife. If the evolutionists are right, then the variety of sexual identities and attractions found in human and other species is a fact of life, the way it is, and all identities and attractions are natural. To condemn any as ‘unnatural’ would be absurd, if evolution is right. Thus, evolution can’t be right because it would mean the Bible (or at least the way a large number of people read the Bible) is wrong.

When a conservative Christian group like the American Family Association (AFA) calls for a boycott of Ford Motor Co. products because its leaders think Ford has a “homosexual agenda,” it is just protecting its core beliefs. Anything that suggests that homosexuals or transgender persons should be treated as normal human beings with dignity and respect is a threat to the group’s core beliefs. The AFA has also called for a boycott of Walgreen’s drug stores and Kraft foods because of a perceived “homosexual agenda.” Likewise, the Christian group known as Focus on the Family was just protecting its core beliefs when it dumped Wells Fargo as its bank because of its perceived “pro-homosexual agenda.”

So, yes, skeptics are party poopers. When we attack ID and support evolution, when we defend argument and reason over traditional prejudices, or when we challenge an alleged weeping statue of the Virgin Mary and call it a hoax without even investigating it (as Joe Nickell did recently), we are seen by many people as a threat to the beliefs that define their values. A skeptic may find it appalling that grown people believe that a red mark on a statue’s cheek is a miracle, but to the believer it’s a validation of their other religious beliefs. Challenge the alleged miracle and you’re seen as challenging the believer’s faith.

Skeptics are rarely challenging isolated beliefs. The beliefs we challenge are interconnected with many other beliefs and if one of the beliefs is threatened the others are threatened also. Whether “in God we trust” is on our money may not matter much in itself. Whether President Bush sends out cards that say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas might not matter much in itself. But to many people such issues are connected to their core beliefs about God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ. Threaten those and it’s as if you put arsenic in the punch bowl. Just ask Paul Mirecki, the head of the Religious Studies Department at Kansas University, who was hospitalized recently after being attacked by two unidentified men who’d been tailgating him in a large pickup truck. The men, described as white and in their 30s, made reference to Mirecki’s recent Internet rants against conservative Christians, Catholics, and Jews. The men punched Mirecki about the head and shoulders and struck him with a metal object. Who knows what the men might have done had Mirecki ranted against homophobes.

No mas!

Readers continue to ignore the announcement on my feedback page that I’m not accepting feedback on Amway, Landmark Forum, and substance abuse treatments. The Landmark Forum writers are especially annoying. Like the Amway folks, they don’t like criticism. Apparently, they think I’m taking money out of their pockets by steering thousands of potential customers away from them. I even received a single page letter in a large post office envelope from a Landmark lawyer who wants to sit down with me for an hour and “correct” a few things. The last e-mail from a Landmark defender went on for dozens of lines about how perception is subjective and reality isn’t what it appears to be and other mundane things that he considered to be great insights. The substance abuse writers seem to think that the fact that some people quit abusing drugs or alcohol after a treatment that any criticism of the treatment is unjustified.

Anyway, the reason I stopped taking feedback on those topics is because in each case I had received numerous repetitious letters over at least a year-long period. Of course, I am always thankful for corrections of any factual errors I have made.

Homeopathic Overdose?

What are friends for, if not to bring you medicine when you’re sick. The problem with New Age folks, however, is that they think everybody’s sick all of the time and in need of some herb, oil, tea, juice, mineral, or vitamin to restore equilibrium, balance, alignment, harmony, or some such item. Homeopathy is no exception. J. A. writes:

Earlier today a friend of mine, noticing that I was suffering from catarrh, very kindly offered to go to the supermarket and get me something for it. Unfortunately she came back with “a homeopathically prepared biochemic remedy” for catarrh and sinus disorders – a bottle of 450 molded tablets manufactured by New Era, containing: Ferr. Phos 6X Kali Mur 6X Kali Sulph 6X Nat Mur 6X (The above are apparently “combination Q tissue salts”, whatever they may be), and Lactose.

Were it not for the fact that homeopathy is such utter drivel the instructions would be funny:

“You have selected one of 18 New Era Combination Remedies. The tablets are formulated from completely natural ingredients designed to counteract the imbalance in your body that may be causing the ailment.” (Since when has catarrh been caused by an imbalance?)

“Tissue salts are part of homeopathy. Homeopathic treatment does not fight your symptoms, instead it aims to encourage your body to rally its own defenses to fight off the root cause of your symptoms.” (So, even if your catarrh doesn’t improve, it doesn’t mean that the pills aren’t working. By the time your body has rallied its defenses the symptoms will no doubt have run their course anyway. And how can the body fight off an imbalance?)

“The benefits: Natural, active ingredients, homeopathically prepared. No unpleasant side effects from the active ingredients such as drowsiness or addiction. They can be taken by the whole family. There is no risk of overdose. They are non-habit forming.” (In other words you could scoff all 450 tablets with no ill effects BECAUSE THEY ARE A PLACEBO! In fact, this being a homeopathic remedy, surely the fewer tablets you take the more effective they will be. Which makes you wonder why the dose for adults is 4 tablets, that for children 2 tablets…)

“You should tip the tablets into the lid of the tub and then straight into your mouth. Homeopathic preparations are best if not contaminated by handling.” (Yes, I’m sure they were untouched by human hand at all stages of the manufacturing process.)

“If you are allergic to lactose, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist before you start to take New Era Products.” (There is nothing “natural” about human beings eating the milk products of another species. You’d think that New Era would have been able to come up with a suitable alternative.)

.

The tablets cost £4, half the price of a conventional catarrh remedy which I know from previous experience would have worked. New Era must be making a nice living by exploiting the scientific illiteracy so depressingly common nowadays.

I’m reminded of the story James Randi tells of the time he swallowed a box of homeopathic sleeping pills in front of a large audience just before launching into an energetic lecture. I should note, however, that not all homeopathic remedies are placebos.

Billy Meier

A curious reader wanted to know how I would explain the prophetic knowledge allegedly received from ‘Semjase’, a Pleiadian who befriended Billy Meier? The reader thinks Semjase had “highly technical scientific information he [?] received about Venus, Jupiter and its moons etc., years before it was known by our scientists.” I hate to be the one to break it to this person, but Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter a few hundred years ago. So, if Billy thinks he got a scoop on this point from his alien friend, it just shows Billy’s ignorance.

The reader also thinks that Semjase predicted both Iraq wars and that she allegedly gave a metal alloy to Billy who had it “examined by IBM scientist Marcel Vogel and others which revealed highly unusual properties which they could not explain.”

Billy Meier is a known hoaxer. Semjase is not a Pleiadian. Her picture is a photocopy of a model from an old Sears catalog. The alleged alien metal has mysteriously disappeared. Any alleged prophecies from Billy Meier should be taken with a micro-grain of salt.

George W. Bush preparing for intergalactic war?

Paul Hellyer was Deputy Prime Minister in the cabinet of the late Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Recently, Hellyer announced: “UFOs are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head.”* Hardly newsworthy stuff. But he also accused the Bush administration of preparing for intergalactic war. According to Hellyer, the U.S. has “finally agreed to build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them if they so decide.” Hellyer is confident that “the United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning.”

Throughout his long political career, Hellyer has supported the Space Preservation Treaty, which would ban space weapons. It was nearly forty years ago (on June 3, 1967) that Hellyer officially inaugurated a UFO landing pad in St. Paul, Alberta. The sign beside the pad proclaims that it is “a symbol of our faith that mankind will maintain the outer universe free from national wars and strife.”*

Hellyer believes he has seen a UFO and was moved to his belief in their current presence on earth after watching the Peter Jennings special on UFOs that aired on ABC last February and after reading Philip J. Corso’s book The Day After Roswell. Hellyer is certainly open-minded, but he’s not much of a critical thinker. If you doubt that last comment, read the material on the previous two links.

Hellyer has joined the Toronto Exopolitics Symposium, the U.S.– based Disclosure Project, and the Vancouver-based Institute for Cooperation in Space (ICIS) in requesting Parliamentary hearings on Exopolitics relations with “ETs.”

May the force be with them, but personally I’m more concerned about the weapons aimed at aliens on this planet than I am about the one’s aimed at those in space.

Religion and Politics

On November 22, 2005, The New York Times ran an editorial about the I.R.S. threatening to revoke the tax-exempt status of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, because of an anti-war speech by the rector.

I.R.S. officials have said about 20 churches are being investigated for activities across the political spectrum that could jeopardize their tax status. The agency is barred by law from revealing which churches, but officials have said these targets were chosen by a team of civil servants, not political appointees, at the Treasury Department. The I.R.S. argues that freedom of religion does not grant freedom from taxes if churches engage in politics.

.

That should mean that the 2004 presidential campaign would be an extremely fertile field. While some churches allowed Democrats to speak from the pulpit, the conservative Christians last year mounted an especially intense – and successful – drive to keep President Bush in office. Some issued voter guides that pointedly showed how their own religion was allied with Mr. Bush’s views. Several Roman Catholic bishops even suggested that a vote for John Kerry would be a mortal sin. Since the election, Republicans have held two openly political nationally televised revival meetings at churches to support Mr. Bush’s judicial nominations.

.

If the IRS is pursuing any of those churches, we certainly have not heard from them about it.

But that was different, since the bully pulpit was used for the forces of good and righteousness. These anti-war ministers are using their pulpits to give comfort to the enemy. What next? Will they be screaming from the pulpit not to revoke Roe v. Wade? or to make Plan B available without a prescription?

Oxygenated vs. Oxidized

In response to my criticism of oxygenated water products, Gary Bakker, an investor in a company called Oculus, wrote to inform us that Oculus “has developed a technology to super-oxygenate water in a stable form which can be used as a disinfectant because it kills bacteria.” You can read all about it in Dermatology Times. I don’t want to be too picky but the article on Oculus talks about super-oxidized saltwater, not oxygenated water. To oxidize water you use electrolysis to kick out of orbit single electrons from oxygen atoms. To oxygenate water you pressurize water with oxygen gas.*

I can’t vouch for the financial wisdom of the investment, but at least it doesn’t look like an investment in quackery!

Environmental Evangelism

Sarlo writes

I have recently learned there is another interesting class of believer who … believe that since God made the world, they should take care of it rather than trash it so that they will be Raptured up faster. Their movement is called Creation Care and is championed by some of the leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals…

Sarlo is right. The group has even issued a statement: an “Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility.” “The environment is a values issue,” said the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals. “There are significant and compelling theological reasons why it should be a banner issue for the Christian right.”

According to the group, it’s every Christian’s duty to care for the planet.

“We affirm that God-given dominion is a sacred responsibility to steward the earth and not a license to abuse the creation of which we are a part,” said the statement, which, according to the Washington Post, has been distributed to 50,000 member churches. “Because clean air, pure water, and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation.”

Signatories included Haggard, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries.

As my mother used to say: “Will wonders never cease?”

Skeptic’s Circle and SkepticWiki

The 21st meeting of the Skeptic’s Circle is now up and in dialogue form for your reading pleasure.

SkepticWiki, the Encyclopedia of Science and Critical Thinking, is also up and running.

Both of these resources offer an opportunity for skeptics to share their writing. I will admit, however, that I have some reservations about the Wiki movement and its anonymous authors. One of the key pieces of information I believe I need to have is the author’s name when determining whether to trust something I read on the Internet. The reader has to already know most of the stuff you read in a Wiki piece to be able to judge whether it’s trustworthy or not. Also, many of the articles are redundant. The opportunity for hoaxing and subterfuge may be too tempting for some miscreants. Do the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks? I don’t know.

The Skeptic’s Circle, on the other hand, gives skeptical bloggers a place to meet, publish, and find out what others are writing.

Vlado, Where Are You?

If anyone knows the whereabouts of Vlado Luknar, please let me know. Eight years ago, Vlado contacted me about translating the SD into Slovakian. Four years later we met in San Francisco and got briefly acquainted. The last time I heard from Vlado was two years ago. He was on his way to Greece, but he was living in in Brataslava with his wife and son.

Amazing Meeting 4 (January 26-29, 2006)

I hope to see some of you next month at the Stardust in Las Vegas for the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Amazing Meeting 4.

Holiday Shopping

If you shop online, please consider shopping at Amazon.com by linking there from Skepdic.com. Amazon sells a lot more than just books, DVDs, and CDs. You can purchase your copy of The Skeptic’s Dictionary online from Amazon.com or from your local bookseller. If you are looking for a book for a child between the ages of nine and twelve, consider Nibbling on Einstein’s Brain: The Good, the Bad and the Bogus in Science by Diane Swanson. You can find other suggestions for gifts for the child in your life by clicking here.

As a gift to yourself, why not try Firefox? I’ve been using the Firefox browser for about a year and love it, especially the Tab feature.

***

Bethell of the Spectator trashes African AIDS in his new book

December 7th, 2005

Page Six sets Bethell on Cole:African AIDS is PC Science

As the New York Post’s Richard Johnson points out today (Wed Dec 7) in his notorious Page Six, the city’s leading gossip column, one author who would like to set Kenneth Cole straight on whether “We All Have AIDS” or not in Africa is Tom Bethell, the science correspondent for the American Spectator. Long alert to the politics of AIDS and other questionable scientific paradigms, Bethell reviews them all skeptically in his deftly written new book, The Politically Correct Guide to Science (Regnery), available on Amazon for the last two weeks.


“We Dont All Have AIDS” – December 7, 2005 — BEFORE fashion designer Kenneth Cole is heaped with more praise for his “We All Have AIDS” campaign, which is supposedly raising awareness of the disease, maybe he should consult with Tom Bethell, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Sci ence” (Regnery), which is on ama zon.com. Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Hanks, Sir Elton John, Richard Gere, Natasha Richardson and Sharon Stone should read it, too, since they are appearing in ads under the “We All Have AIDS” banner. Bethell claims AIDS in Africa has been vastly overre ported since 1985, when the World Health Organization decided “a combi nation of the following symptoms would suffice for an AIDS diagnosis: weight loss, fever, diarrhea, swollen glands, a cough, prolonged fatigue.” Bethell re ports in The American Spectator that the real problem is lack of clean drink ing water in sub-Saharan Africa, which leads to a horrifying smorgasbord of infections, parasites and disease. Such conditions render HIV tests unreliable. “About 70 conditions have been shown to trigger a false positive, so the test is essentially useless in countries where bacterial contamination is endemic,” Bethell writes. “Therefore, AIDS in Africa has never been shown to be the same as AIDS here . . . The sheer dishonesty of the New York Times and other media in not reporting these facts is hard to take.”

Bethell devotes a chapter to exposing the claims of African AIDS as a blatant fiction, as well as presenting the case against all the usual suspects among pc paradigms that are taken for granted by the art and humanities crowd and the liberal media, who take any critique as evidence of right wing proclivities or selling out to industry. Among the topics: global warming, endangered species, DDT, nuclear power,cloning, stem cells, evolution and intelligent design.

Bethell’s major theme is the way science has become distorted by politics, and his treatment of African AIDS is precisely what Peter Duesberg and his colleagues have elucidated in the scientific literature (he also follows Duesberg in a critique of cancer research as having wasted time for twenty five years following a mirage in oncogenes).

However, like many authors who have critiqued HIV-AIDS ideology in one dimension or another – such as Michael Fumento or Robert Root-Bernstein – he never grasps the real nettle. He does not question HIV as the cause of immune deficiency. Given the lethal politics of the issue, it may be that all these authors, who otherwise find it so easy to lift the veil of politics from the true face of science, prefer to win a battle than to lose a war in AIDS. Whatever the reason, it is a pity that their courage or their intellect fails them.

Bethell’s chapter on evolution vs intelligent design in the classroom is also oddly weak, since though he has a very good grasp of the debate and its many aspects, he seems to feel that the inability of evolutionary theory to provide a working mechanism that explains the origin of species admits the possibility that evolution may be wrong. He doesn’t specifically say this, but he leaves a large gate open for intelligent design to drive through and take over.

Evidently Bethell’s thinking is driven by more than pure faith in science allied to a healthy political skepticism. But for all that, he has written what is currently the best introduction to the flip side of the major pc paradigms promoted by scientists and reported uncritically by most of the mainstream media.

Global warming media mess indicates why AIDS critics must be heard

December 6th, 2005

Hard to think that the global warming naysayers can be right when one reads the editorial in the New Yorker this week, “Global Warning”, by Elizabeth Kolbert.

By the time one finishes it one feels that anyone challenging global warming must be an extreme holdout risking the welfare of future generations by turning a blind eye to what is happening right there on our television screens. Bush must be the dumbest president ever to ocupy the Oval Office, any critics must be in the service of industrial interests, denial of the urgent need to take action at whatever cost is merely evidence of right wing obstinacy, etc etc.

The atoll’s evacuation fits into a pattern of grim, if unsurprising, news. In September, the area of Arctic sea ice shrank to a record low, prompting glaciologists to conclude that the ice had entered a state of “accelerating, long-term decline,” and to warn that at the current rate of loss the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free in summer “well before the end of this century.” At about the same time, a team of researchers at the University of Colorado announced that the extent of surface melt on the Greenland ice sheet had reached a new high, and a second team of researchers, at Georgia Tech, reported that the number of Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes had nearly doubled in the past three decades. Global temperatures, meanwhile, continued their steady upward climb; 2005 is on track to be the hottest year since record-keeping began, in the late eighteen-hundreds. (Eight of the ten hottest years on record have occurred since 1996.)


COMMENT

GLOBAL WARNING

by Elizabeth Kolbert

Issue of 2005-12-12

Posted 2005-12-05

The Kilinailau Islands—also known as the Tulun Islands, or the Carteret Atoll—which lie four hundred miles from the coast of Papua New Guinea, are tiny, low, and impoverished. Their fate, thanks to global warming, has long been a foregone conclusion. In 1995, most of the shoreline of Piul and Huene washed away, and the island of Iolasa was cut in half by the sea. Saltwater intrusion has now reached the point where islanders can no longer grow breadfruit, and have to rely on emergency food aid. Last month, Reuters reported that the decision had finally been made to give up. The islands’ two thousand residents are being relocated, at the expense of the Papua New Guinean government, to the slightly higher ground of Bougainville Island, some sixty miles to the southwest.

The atoll’s evacuation fits into a pattern of grim, if unsurprising, news. In September, the area of Arctic sea ice shrank to a record low, prompting glaciologists to conclude that the ice had entered a state of “accelerating, long-term decline,” and to warn that at the current rate of loss the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free in summer “well before the end of this century.” At about the same time, a team of researchers at the University of Colorado announced that the extent of surface melt on the Greenland ice sheet had reached a new high, and a second team of researchers, at Georgia Tech, reported that the number of Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes had nearly doubled in the past three decades. Global temperatures, meanwhile, continued their steady upward climb; 2005 is on track to be the hottest year since record-keeping began, in the late eighteen-hundreds. (Eight of the ten hottest years on record have occurred since 1996.)

These events are the all too relevant backdrop for the current round of international climate talks taking place in Montreal. The talks are the first since the Kyoto Protocol entered into force, this past February. Technically, the United States, not being a party to the protocol, will be excluded from many of the sessions in Montreal. But, by virtue of its contribution to climate change—Americans produce nearly a quarter of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions—it will still have a great deal of influence on what does, and does not, get accomplished there.

When the Bush Administration’s policy on climate change was first articulated by the President, in early 2002, critics described it as a “total charade,” a characterization that, if anything, has come to seem too generous. Stripped down to its essentials, the Administration’s position is that global warming is a problem that either will solve itself or won’t. The White House has consistently opposed taxes or regulations or mandatory caps to reduce, or even just stabilize, greenhouse-gas emissions, advocating instead a purely voluntary approach, under which companies and individuals can choose to cut their CO2 production—that is, if they feel like it. (At the G-8 summit this summer, the President embarrassed British Prime Minister Tony Blair by refusing to accede even to minor modifications in this position.) In Montreal, the Administration’s chief climate negotiator, Harlan Watson, has been touting the efficacy of the voluntary approach, pointing out that between 2000 and 2003 the United States’ carbon-dioxide emissions dropped by .8 per cent. Conveniently left out is the fact that since 2003 they have shot back up again. According to the latest government figures, the country’s CO2 emissions are now three per cent higher than they were three years ago. (The brief dip, it should be noted, had nothing to do with government policy; it was entirely a function of the downturn in the economy.)

Much of the Montreal talks will be taken up with the nitty-gritty of implementing Kyoto—how, for example, to structure the “clean development mechanism,” under which industrialized countries can receive credit for financing emissions-reducing projects in developing ones. Such details are clearly important if the protocol is to have an impact. But Kyoto is, and has always been understood as, a first step, and a baby step at that. As President Bush likes to point out, the protocol imposes no restrictions on countries like China and India, whose emissions are growing rapidly. (China is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest carbon emitter sometime around 2025.) Kyoto, moreover, is a temporary measure; it lapses in 2012, at which point it will need to be replaced by something much more ambitious. The protocol took almost three years to negotiate and seven years to ratify; at that rate, work on its successor should have begun back in 2002. Many countries are pressing for post-Kyoto talks to commence immediately. In characteristic fashion, the Bush Administration is refusing to participate. “The United States seeks to focus attention on progress . . . rather than to detour positive approaches toward a new round of negotiations” is how Watson put it shortly after arriving in Montreal last week.

America’s failure to ratify Kyoto is widely viewed as a scandal. The Administration’s effort to block a post-Kyoto agreement has received less attention, but is every bit as dangerous. Without the participation of the United States, no meaningful agreement can be drafted for the post-2012 period, and the world will have missed what may well be its last opportunity to alter course. “If we don’t get a serious program in place for the long term in this post-Kyoto phase, we will simply not make it,” Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton, told reporters last month. “We will be crossing limits which will basically produce impacts that are unacceptable.” Such is the nature of global warming that the problem is always further along than it seems. The kinds of changes that are now becoming evident—the rise in sea levels, the thawing of permafrost, the acidification of the oceans, the acceleration of ice streams—mean that much larger changes are rapidly approaching. To continue to delay is not to put off catastrophe but, rather, to rush toward it.

This is inciting stuff. Aux armes! Aux armes! To the barricades!

Then one turns to Benny Peiser’s CCNet and one sees once again that the answers are not so easy. For example the sensational reports that the Arctic is melting are balanced by ice accruing in the Antarctic, according to the online science editor of the often alarmist BBC, no less.


While the headlines blaze that the Arctic is declining we should take a look at the ice at the other end of the planet. By far, most of the world’s ice is held in Antarctica and the evidence there is, by and large, that the amount of ice there is growing.

Many scientists know this, but the mantra of ‘global warming happening due to humanity’s flagrant release of greenhouse gases’ is now an established political correctness. Many of them realise there are significant areas of doubt but if they voice that doubt they run the risk of losing research funds. When scientists are afraid to express doubts we are all in trouble, human-made global warming or not.

– David Whitehouse

Copyright 2005, BBC Focus

Nature’s recent sensational report that global warming would stifle the Gulf Stream and leave Europe to shiver in a continental freeze is also countered by skeptics, including one in Science (Dec 2):

Science magazine’s Richard Kerr covers the Bryden et. al. findings in the December 2nd issue of the magazine with an article titled “The Atlantic Conveyor May Have Slowed, But Don’t Panic Yet.” Kerr’s look at the issue is a bit more critical than most other mainstream press reports. He notes that the trend reported by Bryden et. al. is hardly bigger than the uncertainty in the calculations, and even quoted Bryden as telling him “we don’t know enough about the ocean to know whether [our result] represents a trend” that will persist.

And on Sun (Dec 4) as CCNet notes (see below, where the whole email is reproduced to show how much you are missing if you don’t sign up for it) we had the Times’s Andrew Revkin and his odd article explaining that the Kyoto Treaty approach is not going to be the answer as long as China and India won’t curb emissions, and alternative energy to fossil fuels is underresearched. One reason it seemed odd was because it didn’t mention nuclear power, possibly because the deep cuts to his article that he complains of.

All in all, the discussion relayed by Benny Peiser in the Cambridge Conference Net (CCNet) almost daily reveals how superficial and misleading even the science media have become these days on climate warming, an issue which is simply too big for them to handle. Anyone who wants to get a reliable clue as to what is going on in climate change has to read CCNet or Fred Singer’s listserves, and then tread very carefully in the minefield of politics if commenting publicly on the topic.

Exactly the same caution applies to HIV/AIDS, of course. The media mess in climate change is yet another signal that the revisionism in AIDS science cannot be dismissed without serious examination.

From: B.J.Peiser@ljmu.ac.uk

Subject: CCNet: NATURE’S ICE AGE SCARE FLOPS

Date: December 5, 2005 6:03:00 AM EST

To: cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk

CCNet 159/2005, 5 December 2005

NATURE’S ICE AGE SCARE FLOPS

———————————

Scientists say that global warming is slowing the Gulf Stream and that Britain may face a new ice age as a result. In the eyes of one expert, it is the greatest natural hazard facing the planet. Professor Bill McGuire decided to calculate the risk of the Gulf Stream shutting down. Based on what is known about previous ice ages and on recent

ocean data, he calculated that there is almost a one in two chance of the current stopping. “The world is facing a disaster.”

–Jonathan Leake, The Sunday Times, 4 December 2005

The occurrence of a climate state without the Gulf Stream anytime soon – within tens of millions of years – has a probability of little more than zero.

–Carl Wunsch, MIT, Nature 428, 601, April 8, 2004

In fact, climate researcher Jeff Knight of the Hadley Centre and colleagues recently reported that changing sea surface temperatures suggest that the conveyor has speeded up a bit since the 1970s (Science, 1 July, p. 41). And physical oceanographers Carl Wunsch and Patrick Heimbach of the

Massachusetts Institute of Technology have just crunched far more oceanographic data from a variety of sources over the interval of dramatic change (1993 to 2004) in the NOC analysis. In a paper submitted for publication, they report a small slowdown, a quarter the size of the NOC group’s. The change in heat transported northward is negligible, they calculate.

–Richard A. Kerr, Science, 2 December 2005

By far, most of the world’s ice is held in Antarctica and the evidence there is, by and large, that the amount of ice there is growing. Many scientists know this, but the mantra of ‘global warming happening due to humanity’s flagrant release of greenhouse gases’ is now an established political

correctness. Many of them realise there are significant areas of doubt butif they voice that doubt they run the risk of losing research funds. When scientists are afraid to express doubts we are all in trouble, human-made

global warming or not.

–David Whitehouse, BBC Focus, December 2005

Today, in the middle of new global warming talks in Montreal, there is a sense that the whole idea of global agreements to cut greenhouse gases won’t work… Some veterans of climate diplomacy and science now say that

perhaps the entire architecture of the climate treaty process might be flawed.

–Andrew C Revkin, The New York Times, 4 December 2005

(1) DOOMSDAY BILLY: “50% CHANCE GULF STREAM WILL SHUT DOWN THIS CENTURY”

Jonathan Leake, The Sunday Times, 4 December 2005

(2) IS THE ICE REALLY MELTING?

David Whitehouse, BBC Focus, December 2005

(3) COMMENT & ANALYSIS: DON’T BELIEVE ALL YOU READ ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

David Whitehouse, BBC Focus, December 2005

(4) ON CLIMATE CHANGE, A CHANGE OF THINKING

Andrew Revkin

(5) A CURRENT AFFAIR

Pat Michaels, Tech Central Station, 2 December 2005

(6) SETI: “UNEXPECTED METEOR SHOWER REVEALS PRESENSE OF POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS COMET”

Peter Jenniskens, SETI

(7) NATURE HAS BEEN PUSHING ALARMIST SCIENCE FICTION

Allan MacRae

(8) APOPHIS NUMEROLOGY

Robert Matson

(9) TSUANAMIS HITTING SW SPAIN AND PORTUGAL DURING THE HOLOCENE

Francisco Ruiz et al., Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. December 2005

(10) ANCIENT LEGENDS GIVE AN EARLY WARNING OF MODERN DISASTERS

Robin McKie, The Observer, 4 December 2005

(11) AND FINALLY: “BUSH, BLAIR, BECKETT: CLIMATE CRIMINALS”

The Daily Telegraph, 3 December 2005

(12) UNDER THE BOTTOM LINE: THE INDIE’S FEAR OF GHOSTS

The Independent (frontpage story), 3 December 2005

==================

(1) DOOMSDAY BILLY: “50% CHANCE GULF STREAM WILL SHUT DOWN THIS CENTURY”

The Sunday Times, 4 December 2005

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1902950_1,00.html

SO ARE WE GOING TO FREEZE OR FRY?

Scientists say that global warming is slowing the Gulf Stream and that Britain may face a new ice age as a result. Confused? Jonathan Leake explains the oddities of climate change

[…] Others, however, believe that even if the different local impacts of climate change are uncertain, the overall picture is clear.

In the eyes of one expert, it is the greatest natural hazard facing the planet.

Professor Bill McGuire, director of the Benfield Hazard research centre at University College London, has calculated the threat from a range of geophysical hazards – based largely on how often they have occurred in the past.

He found that the risk of a major comet impact in the average person’s 70-year lifespan was about 8,570:1.

That compared with a risk of 143:1 for an ocean-wide tsunami. Recently, McGuire decided to calculate the risk of the Gulf Stream shutting down. Based on what is known about previous ice ages and on recent ocean data, he calculated that there is almost a one in two chance of the current stopping.

“Global warming is no longer a future threat, it is a reality and it is happening faster than anyone ever predicted,” he said. “The world is facing a disaster.”

For McGuire, Wadhams and most other scientists the real wonder is no longer the rapidity of climate change but the incomprehension and inaction of the public and politicians.

Last week Lord Robert May, used his final address as president of the Royal Society, Britain’s pre-eminent science organisation, to warn of the consequences of inaction.

“Climate change is undeniably real, caused by human activities, and has serious consequences,” he said. “The forecasts are for warming of 1.4 to 5.8C by 2100. This would be the warmest period on Earth for the last 100,000 years. If this ‘experiment’ is to end in success for humankind, it is essential that progress be made at the climate negotiations in Montreal.”

Even the doomsayers admit, however, that the interactions of the various elements of the earth’s climate are so complex that predicting what will happen is uncertain.

It is not clear, for example, what the effect would be of global warming combined with a European freeze. Just possibly, the cooling caused by a slowing of the Gulf Stream might match the warming caused by global climate change, making northern Europe one of the few hospitable parts of the world … possible, but unlikely.

Copyright 2005, TST

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bill McGuire has a rather notorious track record of similar doomsday

prophecies that have been debunked by leading experts in the field

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_5-1-2005_pg7_10

============

(2) IS THE ICE REALLY MELTING?

BBC Focus, December 2005

http://www.focusmag.co.uk/

By David Whitehouse

Recent reports suggest that Arctic sea ice is declining faster than ever. But do we know enough to say what’s happening with any certainty?

Recently the news headlines told us that scientists at the University of Colorado had found that the extent of Arctic sea ice – the floating ice that covers the Arctic Ocean – is declining rapidly. Almost everyone said that anthropogenic global warming was to blame and that it was another example of humanity’s detrimental effect on the planet.

The data was obtained from a satellite that uses microwave radiation to monitor sea-ice changes. According to Mark Serreze of Colorado University’s National Snow and and Ice Data Center, it indicated that in September 2004 sae ice extent (in other words, the ice’s surface area) was almost 14 per cent below average. September usually marks the end of the summer melt season when the extent of the ice is at its lowest. Even so, the decline in sea ice extent during September has only been around eight per cent during the past decade. “This is the third year in a row with extreme ice losses, pointing to an acceleration of the downward trend,” Serreze told BBC Focus. Researchers say a dip in the September ice extent one year is often followed by a recovery the following year, but that this has not been the cased in the past year. The September 2004 sea ice loss was especially evident in northern Alaska and eastern Siberia.

“One possible explanation for the continuing loss of sea ice is that climate warming from human activities like the burning of fossil fuels is becoming more apparent,” says Serreze. “Climate models are in general agreement that one of the strongest signals of greenhouse warming will be a loss of Arctic sea ice.”

UK on ice

Some say it’s a crisis. According to the University of Colorado’s Julienne Stroeve, we may soon reach a ‘tipping point’ – a threshold beyond which the sea ice can no longer recover. The result would be a runaway loss of ice, leading to an ice-free Arctic in a few decades. This would alter the global energy balance and affect ocean circulation patterns, possibly causing the North Atlantic drift that keeps Britain’s shores ice-free, to fail.

Serreze believes natural climate variability likely plays some part in the observed changes. “However, the most reasonable view is that the nice decline represents a combination of both natural variability and the greenhouse effect, with the latter becoming more evident in coming decades,” he says.

But scientists need to be careful. The records of ice in the Arctic do not go very far, meaning that researchers cannot be completely sure whether what they see is a result of man or nature.

“It’s always difficult with a short period of observations to determine if a trend seen over a short period will continue,” climate scientists Professor Duncan Wingham, of University Collage London, told BBC Focus. “We know that Arctic ice has cycles of decline and recovery, but the recent decrease seems considerable. It does seem to be indicative of a larger change than we have ever seen before.”

Cryosat coverage

But not all scientists agree that the declining surface area of ice in the Arctic is an indication that the total amount of ice is diminishing. It is known that ice can get thinner in some regions and thicker in others so that even when the total area declines there could be little change in the total volume.

Scientists thought they had a solution to the problem of finding out exactly what was happening to the Arctic ice – in the form of a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite called Cryosat. “Cryosat was designed to improve the data coverage of the Arctic ice and to tell us how much ice ikn total, not just the area of ice, was disappearing from the Arctic,” says Professor Wingham.

But disaster struck. Cryosat was launched on a Russian rocket from the Plesetsk complex in Northern Siberia on 8 October. A few minutes after launch it suffered a malfunction and instead of entering orbit crashed onto the very ice it was supposed to monitor. Dismayed scientists say that Cryosat most be rebuilt and relaunched, perhaps as soon as three years from now.

At Liverpool John Moores University, Dr Benny Peiser points out that the Arctic ice is a complex system and that if you look at it in too simplistic a way, you will not be able to draw valid conclusions: “We must be careful in equating a decrease in the quantity in surface ice area with a real decrease in the quantity of ice. There is much variation in growth and decay from year to year and place to place., by as much as a metre in just a few years. Natural variability is considerable. Mankind may not be to blame after all.”

Dr David White House is Science Editor of BBC News Online

Copyright, 2005 BBC Focus

========

(3) COMMENT & ANALYSIS: DON’T BELIEVE ALL YOU READ ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

The fact is that we don’t know very much about the natural cycles of ice growth and decline in the Artic. Detailed measurements only stretch back barely two decades and that is just too short to tell what is really happening.

The ice on our world is always changing, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. When we look at glaciers and become worried that they may be shrinking and what it might mean, bear in mind that only 2000 years ago there were no glaciers at all in the Alps and hardly any in Norway. Their spectacular growth since then has had nothing to do with human influence. It has been due to natural cycles of climate change that we have lived through successfully.

The media are also not telling the whole story, but rather are ‘cherry-picking’ the news that fits the credo that the world is warming and the ice is retreating because of human influence. It must be noted that for every glacier in the Alps or Greenland that shows signs of shrinking, there are others elsewhere in the world that show signs of growing.

While the headlines blaze that the Arctic is declining we should take a look at the ice at the other end of the planet. By far, most of the world’s ice is held in Antarctica and the evidence there is, by and large, that the amount of ice there is growing.

Many scientists know this, but the mantra of ‘global warming happening due to humanity’s flagrant release of greenhouse gases’ is now an established political correctness. Many of them realise there are significant areas of doubt but if they voice that doubt they run the risk of losing research funds. When scientists are afraid to express doubts we are all in trouble, human-made global warming or not. David Whitehouse

Copyright 2005, BBC Focus

==========

(4) ON CLIMATE CHANGE, A CHANGE OF THINKING

Andrew Revkin

This got deeply cut and edited, but you might still find it interesting.

– andy

———

The World: On Climate Change, a Change of Thinking

The New York Times, 4 December 2005

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/04/weekinreview/04revkin.html

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

IN December 1997, representatives of most of the world’s nations met in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate a binding agreement to cut emissions of “greenhouse” gases.

They succeeded. The Kyoto Protocol was ultimately ratified by 156 countries. It was the first agreement of its kind. But it may also prove to be the last.

Today, in the middle of new global warming talks in Montreal, there is a sense that the whole idea of global agreements to cut greenhouse gases won’t work.

A major reason the optimism over Kyoto has eroded so rapidly is that its major requirement – that 38 participating industrialized countries cut their greenhouse emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2012 – was seen as just a first step toward increasingly aggressive cuts.

But in the years after the protocol was announced, developing countries, including the fast-growing giants China and India, have held firm on their insistence that they would accept no emissions cuts, even though they are likely to be the world’s dominant source of greenhouse gases in coming years.

Their refusal helped fuel strong opposition to the treaty in the United States Senate and its eventual rejection by President Bush.

But the current stalemate is not just because of the inadequacies of the protocol. It is also a response to the world’s ballooning energy appetite, which, largely because of economic growth in China, has exceeded almost everyone’s expectations. And there are still no viable alternatives to fossil fuels, the main source of greenhouse gases.

Then, too, there is a growing recognition of the economic costs incurred by signing on to the Kyoto Protocol.

As Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, a proponent of emissions targets, said in a statement on Nov. 1: “The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge.”

This is as true, in different ways, in developed nations with high unemployment, like Germany and France, as it is in Russia, which said last week that it may have spot energy shortages this winter.

Some veterans of climate diplomacy and science now say that perhaps the entire architecture of the climate treaty process might be flawed.

The basic template came out of the first international pact intended to protect the atmosphere, the 1987 Montreal Protocol for eliminating chemicals that harmed the ozone layer, said Richard A. Benedick, the Reagan administration’s chief representative in the talks leading to that agreement.

That agreement was a success, but a misleading one in the context of climate. It led, Mr. Benedick now says, to “years wasted in these annual shindigs designed to generate sound bites instead of sober contemplation of difficult issues.”

While it was relatively easy to phase out ozone-harming chemicals, called chlorofluorocarbons, which were made by a handful of companies in a few countries, taking on carbon dioxide, the main climate threat, was a completely different matter, he said.

Carbon dioxide is generated by activities as varied as surfing the Web, driving a car, burning wood or flying to Montreal. Its production is woven into the fabric of an industrial society, and, for now, economic growth is inconceivable without it.

Developing countries – China and India being only the most dramatic examples – want to burn whatever energy they need, in whatever form available, to grow their economies and raise the living standard of their people.

And the United States – by far the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases – continues to say that emissions targets or requirements would stunt economic growth in both rich and poor nations. All this has turned the Montreal meeting, many participants have conceded, into, at best, a preliminary meeting on how to start over in addressing the threat of global warming.

Indeed, from here on, progress on climate is less likely to come from megaconferences like the one in Montreal and more likely from focused initiatives by clusters of countries with common interests, said Mr. Benedick, who is now a consultant and president of the National Council on Science and the Environment, a private group promoting science-based environmental policies.

The only real answer at the moment is still far out on the horizon: nonpolluting energy sources. But the amount of money being devoted to research and develop such technologies, much less install them, is nowhere near the scale of the problem, many experts on energy technology said.

Enormous investments in basic research have to be made promptly, even with the knowledge that most of the research is likely to fail, if there is to be any chance of creating options for the world’s vastly increased energy thirst in a few decades, said Richard G. Richels, an economist at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit center for energy and environment research.

“The train is not leaving the station, and it needs to leave the station,” Mr. Richels said. “If we don’t have the technologies available at that time, it’s going to be a mess.”

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

===========

(5) A CURRENT AFFAIR

Tech Central Station, 2 December 2005

http://www.techcentralstation.com/120205F.html

By Pat Michaels

In the December 1st issue of Nature magazine, Harry Bryden and colleagues at Britain’s National Oceanography Centre report that the Atlantic meridional circulation (also known as the thermohaline circulation (THC) — the density driven current that carries warm surface water northward and returns colder deep water southward — has slowed by 30 percent between 1957 and 2004.

The significance of this finding is difficult to assess in light of other recent observations.

Climate model simulations estimate that a complete shutdown of the THC would result in a cooling of Europe of 4ºC or more. So, shouldn’t a 30% slowdown have some noticeable impacts, such as a pretty sharp cooling trend?

Just two days before the Bryden results were published, a report from the European Environment Agency detailed all of the ills that Europe has been facing recently because of how warm it has been, and prominently proclaimed that Europe’s four hottest years on record were 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004. And yet, how many breathless news stories, like the one in London’s Guardian, played the Bryden paper as reflecting a long-term (read: anthropogenic influenced) trend in the THC?

A close read, however, shows that the THC changes have really only taken place sometime since 1992. Since 1957, the characteristics of the Atlantic Ocean that Bryden et al. used in making their calculations were sampled 4 more times — in 1981, 1992, 1998, and 2004. No remarkable changes were detected between 1957 and 1992, but since then, Bryden found indications that the THC had slowed a bit by 1998, and further in the 2004 data.

A large-scale, arguably “natural” event took place during that same time. Karcher et. al. recently reported a large freshwater release from the Arctic Ocean into the North Atlantic Ocean in the mid-1990s as a result of atmospheric circulation patterns resulting from an extremely intense North Atlantic Oscillation (or NAO, a measure of the pressure distribution over the North Atlantic Ocean basin). Since the early to mid-1990s, the NAO has returned to more normal values indicating that the trend from low NAO values characteristic of the 1960s to the historically high values in the early 1990s has ended. The return to normal NAO conditions has also, according to Karcher et. al., resulted in a more normal degree of freshwater input to the subpolar North Atlantic. Addition of a pulse of freshwater to the North Atlantic is one mechanism for slowing the THC, and so it is possible that the freshwater release in the mid-1990s identified by Karcher could have acted to slow, temporarily, the THC — perhaps an effect picked up in Bryden’s analysis.

And further, a recent paper by Knight et. al. reconstructed the history of the THC in the Atlantic for the past 125 years or so based upon a combination of climate model simulations and sea surface temperature observations. They concluded that the THC had increased substantially since the 1970s — a finding in opposition to that of Bryden et. al. Squaring these disparate findings is not a simple matter and indicates that the situation is much more complex than perhaps realized.

Science magazine’s Richard Kerr covers the Bryden et. al. findings in the December 2nd issue of the magazine with an article titled “The Atlantic Conveyor May Have Slowed, But Don’t Panic Yet.” Kerr’s look at the issue is a bit more critical than most other mainstream press reports. He notes that the trend reported by Bryden et. al. is hardly bigger than the uncertainty in the calculations, and even quoted Bryden as telling him “we don’t know enough about the ocean to know whether [our result] represents a trend” that will persist.

Here is how Kerr concludes his look into the issue:

The picture is still fuzzy, however. “It would be dangerous to jump to the conclusion that there’s a persistent weakening” of the conveyor circulation, says ocean and climate modeler Richard Wood of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter, U.K. Wood, Rhines, and Bryden all worry that the near-instantaneous snapshots taken by the ocean surveys might have been misleading. Like any part of the complex climate system, the conveyor is bound to slow down at times and speed up at others. The two latest surveys, Wood says, may have happened to catch the Atlantic as the conveyor slowed temporarily, giving the impression that a permanent change had taken place.

On the other hand, the [Bryden’s] analysis may not have even captured what happened in the past decade or so. Climate models simulating the conveyor in a warming world don’t call for such a large slowdown until sometime in the next century, Wood notes. In fact, climate researcher Jeff Knight of the Hadley Centre and colleagues recently reported that changing sea surface temperatures suggest that the conveyor has speeded up a bit since the 1970s (Science, 1 July, p. 41). And physical oceanographers Carl Wunsch and Patrick Heimbach of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have just crunched far more oceanographic data from a variety of sources over the interval of dramatic change (1993 to 2004) in the NOC analysis. In a paper submitted for publication, they report a small slowdown, a quarter the size of the NOC group’s. The change in heat transported northward is negligible, they calculate.

So has the conveyor slowed? Might it continue to slow? “We don’t know,” says Wunsch. And it may take a decade or two more of watching and waiting to know for sure.

Together, all of this points to a far less clear picture about the state of the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean than is generally being reported. On the other hand, if Bryden et. al. have discovered a real long-term change in the THC, then this will in turn change the paradigm as to how the THC relates to a huge host of climate parameters — parameters that, at present, don’t seem to be behaving like they should if the THC is indeed slowing dramatically. Not often does one anomaly break a paradigm. It happens — but rarely.

References:

Bryden, H.L., et al., 2005. Slowing of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 25ºN. Nature, 438, 655-657.

Karcher, M., et al., 2005. Arctic Ocean change heralds North Atlantic freshening. Geophysical Research Letters, 32, doi:1029/2005GL023861.

Kerr, R., 2005. The Atlantic Conveyor May Have Slowed, But Don’t Panic Yet. Science, 310, 1403-1404.

Knight, J.R., et al., 2005. A signature of persistent natural thermohaline circulation cycles in observed climate. Geophysical Research Letters, 32, doi:10.1029/2005GL024233.

Copyright 2005, TCS

=============

(6) SETI: “UNEXPECTED METEOR SHOWER REVEALS PRESENSE OF POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS COMET”

http://www.seti.org/site/pp.asp?c=ktJ2J9MMIsE&b=1233789

by Peter Jenniskens

SETI Institute scientist and meteor expert Peter Jenniskens reports in a telegram issued by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center (http://www.seti.org/site/pp.asp?c=ktJ2J9MMIsE&b=1233789) that an unexpected burst of meteors on October 5, 2005 has occurred, which betrayed the presence of a thusfar unknown, potentially Earth-threatening, comet.

The burst of meteors radiated from a direction on the border of the constellations Draco and Camelopardalis, and the new shower is called the October Camelopardalids. The meteors were caused by dust ejected by an Intermediate Long-Period comet during its previous return to the Sun, and the detection of the comet’s dust trail implies that the comet itself could wander into Earth’s path, if so directed by the gravitational pull of the planets. The comet itself has not yet been discovered and is likely to return to Earth’s vicinity only once every 200 – 10,000 years. Chances are very small that Earth will be at the intersection point at the time of the return, hence, there is no immediate concern. The dust, however, is forensic evidence that may provide more insight into the nature of this new comet when the meteor shower is seen again in the future.

2005 OCTOBER 5 OUTBURST OF OCTOBER CAMELOPARDALIDS

Peter Jenniskens, Jarmo Moilanen, Esko Lyytinen, Ilkka Yrjölä, Jeff Brower

http://www.seti.org/atf/cf/{B0D4BC0E-D59B-4CD0-9E79-113953A58644}/WGNreport.pdf

Abstract of the report in WGN: the Journal of the International Meteor Organization

“Jarmo Moilanen (Finland), detected twelve meteors from a compact geocentric radiant at R. A. = 164.1 ± 2.0º, Decl. = +78.9 ± 0.5º, on the border of Draco and Camelopardalis, in the evening of October 5, 2005. The differential mass distribution index was a low s = 1.4 ± 0.2 (+0 to -6 magnitude). The new shower was confirmed by Esko Lyytinen (2 meteors, early period only, located at 25.00 E; +60.25 N) and Ilkka Yrjölä (4 meteors: 26.4 E, +60.9 N) at nearby locations, and by Sirko Molau in Germany (7 meteors). Esko Lyytinen calculated an apparent speed of Vg = 47.3 ± 0.5 km/s from one two-station meteor, close to the parabolic limit. We conclude that the event was caused by the 1-revolution dust trail of a yet unidentified potentially Earth-threatening (Halley-type or) Intermediate Long-Period comet with orbital elements similar to those of the meteoroids: Epoch = 2005 October 05, a = Inf. (15 – Inf.) AU, q = 0.993±0.001 AU, w = 170.5±1º, W = 192.59±0.04º , and i = 79.3±0.5º (J2000.0).”

Copyright © 2005, SETI Institute

========= LETTERS =========

(7) NATURE HAS BEEN PUSHING ALARMIST SCIENCE FICTION

Allan MacRae

RE: This was important data, well presented and well discussed, which we reported accurately and responsibly. It was not a scare; nor was it silly; nor did it say anything about forthcoming ice ages.

–Oliver Morton, Chief News and Features Editor, Nature, 1 December 2005

I agree with you Benny,

For years, Nature has been pushing silly, alarmist science fiction masquerading as climate science. So have other journals, including EOS, Science and Scientific American. Their lack of editorial objectivity has utterly discredited these once-great journals, so I no longer waste any time on them.

As McIntyre and McKitrick found while exposing Mann’s bogus “hockey stick”, it takes years of hard work and adversity to discredit this junk. Meanwhile, these alarmists’ scares become the latest religion for the scoundrels and imbeciles who make a living by peddling the phony global warming crisis.

Dr. Richard Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT and a co-author of the 2001 UN IPCC and US NAS reports, elegantly wrote in the Wall Street Journal on June 11, 2001,

as follows:

“The full IPCC report is an admirable description of research activities in climate science, but it is not specifically directed at policy. The Summary for Policymakers is, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives (many of whom are also their nations’ Kyoto representatives), rather than of scientists. The resulting document has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.

Science, in the public arena, is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens. This is what has been done with both the reports of the IPCC and the NAS. It is a reprehensible practice that corrodes our ability to make rational decisions…”

Best regards, Allan

=============

(8) APOPHIS NUMEROLOGY

Robert Matson

Hi Benny,

I’ve been following the 2004 MN4 Apophis story since its discovery almost a year ago, and only today did the humo(u)r in its formal numbering- 99942 – occur to me. Whether through happenstance or possibly deliberate jiggering by the MPC (some of whose members have an admitted fondness for Douglas Adams ;-), Apophis’ designation can be split into:

999: the emergency phone # in the UK (if I’m not mistaken)

42: the ultimate answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything.

Best wishes for the holidays from across the Pond,

Rob Matson

============

(9) TSUANAMIS HITTING SW SPAIN AND PORTUGAL DURING THE HOLOCENE

Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Volume 229, 20 December 2005, Pages 212-229

http://tinyurl.com/ap9ub

Evidence of high-energy events in the geological record: Mid-holocene evolution of the southwestern Doñana National Park (SW Spain)

Francisco Ruiz a), Antonio Rodríguez-Ramírez a), Luis M. Cáceres a), Joaquín Rodríguez

Vidal a), María Isabel Carretero b), M. Abad a), M. Olías a) and M. Pozo c)

a) Departamento de Geodinámica y Paleontología, Univ. de Huelva. Avda, Fuerzas Armadas, s/n. 21071-Huelva, Spain

b) Departamento de Cristalografía, Mineralogía y Química Agrícola, Univ. de Sevilla, Apdo. 553, Sevilla, Spain

c) Departamento de Química Agrícola, Geología y Geoquímica, Univ. Autónoma de Madrid, 28049-Madrid, Spain

Abstract

Four phases are distinguished in the Mid-Holocene evolution of the southwestern Doñana National Park (SW Spain), based on the multidisciplinary study of sediments in drill cores. In the oldest phase (> 5500-5400 cal. years BP), a coastal, brackish lagoon occupied the central part of the study area, partly enclosed by the Doñana spit and limited by fluvial levees. An evolution from subtidal to intertidal conditions characterized the areas located close to the inner side of the Doñana spit during the same phase. The following phase (5400-5200 cal. years BP) is characterized by a high-energy event (tsunami?), which caused the breakthrough of the Doñana spit and the creation of new littoral strands in the inner areas. In the first period of the third phase (5200-4200 cal. years BP), estuarine infilling was probably the dominant process, with the accumulation of phyllosilicate-rich clays in the lagoon bed. This was followed by a renewed phase of instability (4200-4100 cal. years BP) indicated by the presence of fine storm-lain deposits and thicker, probably tsunami-induced shelly deposits. The last phase (4100-3700 cal. years BP) comprises: a) an infilling period, with a diminution of the marine influence; and b) two new high-energy events, which caused the erosion of the Doñana spit and the creation of new cheniers.

In the last 7000 years, the comparison of these results with a revision of both geological and historical records has revealed the occurrence of twenty tsunamis (at least) during this period in Portugal and southern Spain. Evidences of these high-energy events are washover fans, bioclastic coarse-sized layers within salt marsh deposits or the presence of giant boulders and pebbles. The determination of the recurrence period is very difficult owing to the very scarce data, although our data and other authors do not discard a possible periodicity of 2000 years for a cycle of two events separated by 300-400 years.

FULL PAPER at http://tinyurl.com/ap9ub

doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2005.06.023

Copyright © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

=============

(10) ANCIENT LEGENDS GIVE AN EARLY WARNING OF MODERN DISASTERS

The Observer, 4 December 2005

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1657262,00.html

The new science of geomythology is being harnessed by researchers who believe folklore can save lives

Robin McKie, science editor

Sunday December 4, 2005

The Observer

On the banks of Siletz Bay in Lincoln City, Oregon, officials dedicated a memorial last week to one of America’s worst calamities: a huge earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of Native Americans 300 years ago.

But the memorial’s main job is not to commemorate the disaster, which has only just come to light, but to warn local people that similar devastation could strike at any time.

The area sits over massive fault lines whose dangers have been highlighted by a startling new scientific discipline that combines Earth science studies and analysis of ancient legends. This is geomythology, and it is transforming our knowledge of earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, says the journal Science.

According to the discipline’s proponents, violent geological upheavals may be more frequent than was previously suspected.

Apart from the ‘lost’ Seattle earthquake, geomythology has recently revealed that a volcano in Fiji, thought to be dormant, is active, a discovery that followed geologists’ decision to follow up legends of a mountain appearing overnight.

Geologists have found that Middle Eastern flooding myths, including the story of Noah, could be traced to the sudden inundation of the Black Sea 7,600 years ago. The Oracle at Delphi has been found to lie over a geological fault through which seeped hallucinogenic gases. These could account for the trances and utterances of the oracle’s mystics.

‘Myths can tell us a great deal about what happened in the past and were important in establishing what happened here 300 years ago,’ said Brian Atwater, of the US Geological Survey in Seattle.

Along the Oregon and Washington coast, there are Native American stories about boulders, called a’yahos, which can shake to death anyone who stares at them. In addition, Ruth Ludwin, a seismologist in Seattle, discovered tales of villages being washed away and of whales and thunderbirds locked in fights.

These stories were a key influence on Atwater, who started to study the 680-mile long Cascadia subduction zone fault along the coast. What he found provided a shock. Long stretches had suffered sudden inundation relatively recently.

The study of trees stumps in this drowned landscape indicated there had been a huge earthquake and a tsunami between 1680 and 1720. ‘We didn’t know whether it was one massive quake or a couple of slightly smaller ones. Nor did we know exactly when the disaster occurred,’ added Atwater.

Later research on tree rings put the date at between 1699 and 1700. Then local legends helped again. Japanese colleagues studied their records and traced an orphan tsunami – a giant wave not linked to a local earthquake – that destroyed several villages on 27 January, 1700.

‘That told us two things: that our earthquake must have been vast, Richter scale 9, to devastate part of Japan thousands of miles away. It also gave us a precise date for our disaster.’

Scientists now believe huge earthquakes and tsunamis devastate the Seattle area every 200 to 1,000 years. ‘We may be due one soon,’ added Atwater.

However, until this year, the lesson of that tsunami was remembered only as a dim legend. Other such stories have been put to better use, however.

Last year’s tsunami was also triggered by a strong earthquake, and around 300,000 people died. The Moken – or sea gypsies – of Thailand, however, have a tradition which warns that when tides recede far and fast, now known as a precursor of a tsunami, then a man-eating wave will soon head their way: so they should run far and fast. Last 26 December, they did – and survived.

Another example of the power of geomythology is from Patrick Nunn, of Fiji in the South Pacific. His studies of volcanoes on the Fijian island of Kadavu indicated they had not been active for tens of thousands of years.

‘Then I heard legends of recent eruptions,’ he told The Observer. ‘I thought them unlikely. When a road was cut there in 2002, I found there had been a volcanic eruption long after it had been occupied by humans. It made me look at myths in a new light.’

Now, Nunn is working for the French government to compile tales that might pinpoint Pacific islands where scientists should look for warnings of earthquakes, volcanoes and catastrophic landslides.

These include stories of deities who fish up islands from the water and others in which they are thrown back into the sea.

‘If you had asked me 10 years ago if there was value in local myths I would have said “not a lot”,’ added Nunn. ‘Since then I have had a Pauline conversion.’

Copyright 2005, The Observer

============

(11) AND FINALLY: “BUSH, BLAIR, BECKETT: CLIMATE CRIMINALS”

The Daily Telegraph, 3 December 2005

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/12/03/uclimate.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/12/03/ixportaltop.html

Thousands of UK demonstrators have taken to the streets as others protested around the world for action to combat the threat of global warming.

Almost 10,000 people chanting slogans, waving banners and blowing whistles marched through the capital calling on the Government to tackle climate change, organisers said.

The demonstration in London coincides with other events in 32 countries and with critical United Nation talks in Montreal which will be attended by the Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, and Elliott Morley, the Environment Minister.

The march has been organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change and many of the UK’s leading social, environmental and political groups including Friends of the Earth.

Phil Thornhill, national co-ordinator for the Campaign Against Climate Change said: “Climate change is probably the greatest threat humanity faces – it has consequences of catastrophic proportions.

“We are demanding urgent action at a global level to deal with it.

“We need an international treaty to deal with that and we need to have a target to bring emissions down and keep to that, that’s the only way it will work.”

The demonstration had a party atmosphere as many of those taking part banged on drums, whistles and chanted anti-political slogans.

Some carried banners saying ‘Bush, Blair, Beckett: climate criminals’, while others waved banners which read ‘Save Our World’.

Mr Thornhill was joined by environmental campaigner George Monbiot when he handed in a letter to Downing Street mid-way through the march which travelled from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Grosvenor Square, the site of the American Embassy.

Mr Thornhill said the letter demanded that the Government reaffirm its commitment to an international climate treaty with legally binding targets on emission reductions.

Copyright 2005, The Daily Telegraph

============

(12) UNDER THE BOTTOM LINE: THE INDIE’S FEAR OF GHOSTS

The Independent (frontpage story), 3 December 2005

http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article330863.ece

THE ‘X’ FACTOR?

[…] What’s predicted is terrible enough. But it is what’s not even on the radar that some scientists fear most of all – the possibility that global warming might bring about some sudden, extreme and devastating climatic phenomenon that we cannot yet even imagine. The climate is a complex system, and we know that complex systems, when subject to stress, can collapse – it happens on your office desk when your computer crashes – and the global climate is now being subjected to stresses that have never been put on it before. Last year’s global warming disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow tried to show this with the northern hemisphere freezing solid in a matter of weeks. Most people dismissed it as far-fetched, but something just as catastrophic may be out there, not far in the future.

————

CCNet is a scholarly electronic network edited by Benny Peiser. To subscribe, send an e-mail to listserver@livjm.ac.uk (“subscribe cambridge-conference”) or contact the editor at b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk. (http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis).

Dismissing skeptics in global warming as simply compromised by right wing bias is too easy, although one may be tempted to do so when faced with the excessive conviction they profess. The letter from Allan MacRae to Beiser included in the above email is typically overly adamant that it is the scaremongers who are biased in their alarms. MacRae is a follower of Richard Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, author of the 2001 UN IPCC and US NAS reports, and one of the toughest skeptics in this arena.

For years, Nature has been pushing silly, alarmist science fiction masquerading as climate science. So have other journals, including EOS, Science and Scientific American. Their lack of editorial objectivity has utterly discredited these once-great journals, so I no longer waste any time on them.

As McIntyre and McKitrick found while exposing Mann’s bogus “hockey stick”, it takes years of hard work and adversity to discredit this junk. Meanwhile, these alarmists’ scares become the latest religion for the scoundrels and imbeciles who make a living by peddling the phony global warming crisis.

Here is a letter that MacRae wrote a year ago to the Canadian Meteorological and Ocean Society (CMOS) Bulletin:


There is a growing body of evidence that CO2 is a minor factor and that a hypothetical doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, a concentration that is unlikely to ever be caused by humankind, would only have a theoretical impact of about 1 degree Celsius average warming of global temperatures. Such a minor change would be barely noticeable within natural climate variation and would be much better dealt with by means other than the flawed Kyoto Protocol.

Kyoto supporters, citing unproven computer models that assume amplifiers of up to 600% of the base CO2 effect, have predicted global average humanmade temperature increases of up to 6 degrees Celsius and thus justify the need for Kyoto. There is no evidence for such CO2 amplifiers, and some scientists suggest that the impact of a hypothetical doubling of atmospheric CO2 could be less than 1 degree Celsius due to moderating feedbacks in the climate system.

It is simply self-evident that such climate computer models prove absolutely nothing, especially when the models include amplifiers that distort the results by factors of up to 600%.

Date: June 14, 2004

Subject: Letter to the Editor, CMOS Bulletin (for publication)

I was disappointed in the letters of Henry Hengeveld and Julian Brimelow (Vol. 32, No. 2), which were more reminiscent of our parliamentary debates than of scientific discussion. Their letters avoided real scientific arguments and consisted primarily of deliberate distortions of my letter and appeals to authority such as the IPCC.

For example, everyone in this debate accepts that the so-called “greenhouse effect” exists and that the world would be too cold to be habitable without it. The fact is that water vapour is by far the predominant greenhouse gas and CO2 is just one of many lesser factors that influence the equation. Putting aside such attempts at obfuscation, the question we should be discussing is: how significant is CO2 as a factor that influences the greenhouse effect?

There is a growing body of evidence that CO2 is a minor factor and that a hypothetical doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, a concentration that is unlikely to ever be caused by humankind, would only have a theoretical impact of about 1 degree Celsius average warming of global temperatures. Such a minor change would be barely noticeable within natural climate variation and would be much better dealt with by means other than the flawed Kyoto Protocol.

Kyoto supporters, citing unproven computer models that assume amplifiers of up to 600% of the base CO2 effect, have predicted global average humanmade temperature increases of up to 6 degrees Celsius and thus justify the need for Kyoto. There is no evidence for such CO2 amplifiers, and some scientists suggest that the impact of a hypothetical doubling of atmospheric CO2 could be less than 1 degree Celsius due to moderating feedbacks in the climate system.

It is simply self-evident that such climate computer models prove absolutely nothing, especially when the models include amplifiers that distort the results by factors of up to 600%.

Further, appeals to authority such as the IPCC usually fail to differentiate between the technical reports prepared by the scientists and the IPCC Summary for Policymakers, which was not prepared by the scientists and not endorsed by them.

Dr. Richard Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT and one of the co-authors of the UN IPCC and US NAS reports on climate change, wrote an informative letter in the Wall Street Journal in June 11, 2001 – an excerpt of which is included below:

“The full IPCC report is an admirable description of research activities in climate science, but it is not specifically directed at policy. The Summary for policymakers is, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives (many of whom are also their nations’ Kyoto representatives), rather than of scientists. The resulting document has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.

Science, in the public arena, is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens. This is what has been done with both the reports of the IPCC and the NAS. It is a reprehensible practice that corrodes our ability to make rational decisions. A fairer view of the science will show that there is still a vast amount of uncertainty — far more than advocates of Kyoto would like to acknowledge — and that the NAS report has hardly ended the debate. Nor was it meant to.”

I am further disappointed by the attempt to denigrate the legitimate work of honorable, competent researchers like Jan Veizer and Ross McKitrick. I know and trust these individuals and am confident that when the full body of evidence is compiled, their courageous work will stand the test of time.

Soon and Baliunas et al (Climate Research 2003) and McKitrick and McIntyre (Energy and Environment 2003) are not unique in challenging Mann’s “hockey stick”: Briffa et al (Journal of Geophysical Research 2001) and Esper et al (Science 2002 and Eos 2004) raise serious doubts about the hockey stick – in fact Mann’s work is the “outlier” in this body of science and it is most unusual that it has received so much undeserved attention and credence. This part of the debate is not over, but it appears highly probable that Mann’s conclusions will be refuted.

Some legitimate questions for this debate would include:

1. What caused the Medieval Warm Period (ca. 900 to 1300 A.D.), how is it best characterized in location and time and was it as warm or warmer than today?

2. How accurate are various proxies in establishing temperatures from disparate input variables?

3. What is the evidence for using CO2 amplifiers of up to 600% in climate computer models and are such amplifiers legitimate or not?

4. Why do weather balloon and satellite measurements not show significant warming in the lower troposphere since 1979?

5. What caused the cooling period from 1940 to 1975 (during a time of rapid increase in atmospheric CO2) and what is the evidence for this cause?

6. What is the evidence that allegedly proves that CO2 is much more significant than other factors that influence climate, such as variations in solar intensity?

Kyoto supporters have consistently avoided scientific debate of such questions and have even tried to suppress such debate. It is time for them to cease their rhetoric and honestly address valid technical questions that challenge their theory of catastrophic humanmade climate change, or leave us to conclude that they have no solid scientific basis for their position.

Yours truly,

Allan MacRae, B. Sc., M. Eng., P. Eng.

#201 – 318 26th Avenue SW

Calgary AB T2S 2T9

403 244 7947

firsst@shaw.ca

As far as the facts of the matter go, it is hard to see how such certainty can be gained in what has to be the most complex modeling challenge in science, with the models still constructed to a large extent of guesses and the claims and data still changing.

Judgement in the absence of complete data

All we can say is that debate seems to be characterized by the same two opposing sides that seem to form in almost every global debate in science. On the one side is the more skeptical engineering mentality, preoccupied with double checking the data and finding details that reveal to them a contrary conclusion and prove the other side wrong. We are thinking of Fred Singer, John Stossel, Tom Bethell, and all the scientists and authors who tend to challenge the mainstream and support the right wing conservative political view that environmental and other concerns are ill informed scares.

On the other side, are the generalists, in science politics fairly consistently on the left wing, as it were, who form the opposite overall conclusions, yet who often seem to be caught short by the engineers and their data details, and seem to be shown up as ill informed in specific ways by the latter group.

To draw a rather forced parallel with presidents and their executive style, you have on the one hand the Jimmy Carter types, who like to make a study of the specifics and are very well informed, yet somehow fail at making judgments at the meta level. In quoting Carter as a type we are merely talking about executive style here, of course, not Jimmy Carter’s views, which on global warming are mainstream.

On the other side, you have the Ronald Reagan types, more intuitive and sensitive to the possibilities of the future than the engineering mentality. For reasons inexplicable to the well informed engineers, however. they seem to succeed in larger judgements and in steering the right course into the future. We are referring to the intuitive Reagan management style here, of course, not his views on science.

This split seems to have happened in the global warming debate, where the meta-analysts cry human global warming and it is the more hands-on engineers who reject this alarm as entirely unproven and possibly completely unfounded and misguided.

Given the tendency in political history of the former type – the intellectually detail-focused – to fail in the realm of large action, and of the latter type – the meta analyst – to succeed (to the annoyance and bafflement of the engineering types), perhaps the intuitive side is right after all despite the data-based objections of the engineers. Maybe they are just smarter, or maybe in a scientific debate where the data is incomplete, such as global warming, data-based opinion can be wrong.

In other words, when information is not complete, perhaps one can choose the meta analytical, intuitive judgement over the micro objections raised against it. In the case of global warming, this would dictate acknowledging human-caused warming, and taking remedial action, whatever the cost, since the future of the world is at stake, and whatever the superficial persuasiveness of particular skeptical arguments against.

Whatever the truth of this possibly spurious argument, there has to be some way of accounting for the fact that so many factual arguments can be raised against the liberal view in crucial scientific debates, yet the editorial opinions of those such as Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker and the combined opinion of thousands of ‘concerned’ mainstream scientists and other sources of liberal enlightenment seem so … well, enlightened.

Yet in the case of AIDS, it seems to us from careful study of the scientific review literature that the data based objections to the ruling paradigm are completely persuasive and the enlightened mainstream judgement is entirely wrong.

So perhaps the mere fact that views seem ‘enlightened’ has nothing to do with whether they are true or false. This, of course, is exactly what conservative critics are saying.

Or perhaps the difference is that in AIDS it is the mundane and not very smart engineers who support the mainstream view, and their detailed justifications of the paradigm are merely Ptolemaic rationalizations of its inconsistencies and paradoxes. Perhaps it is the HIV?AIDS critics who are simply smarter and more perceptive.

For in AIDS there is one fact that seems indisputable. Peter Duesberg is a much smarter scientist than any of his opponents. Anyone who doubts this has not read his classic papers, which are indisputably beautifully argued works, as the use by Walter Gilbert of one of them at Harvard to exemplify brilliant paradigm challenge for his graduate students confirms.

India ravaged by virus transmitted by sex contrary to all scientific studies

December 6th, 2005

Times reports above the Sunday fold: Indian AIDS spread by truckers and other clients of paid sex

As pointed out earlier the HIV virus is not transmitted effectively in heterosexual sex (takes 1000 bouts on average). That is what 20 recent mainstream studies say.

Why then is the Times publishing a typically sensational report today (Tue Dec 6) on India Accelerating: An Epidemic Spreads On India’s Roads: Cargo and a Deadly Passenger

by Amy Waldman, explaining that the country is in an uproar because truckers, taxi drivers and other clients of paid sex are transmitting AIDS up and down the country along the new super highways, including to their wives?

Amy quotes a taxi driver dying of AIDS without access to any antiretrovirals – how can that be explained? Obviously there is another disease rampant – tuberculosis is mentioned. Are the Indians failing to treat for TB now that the AIDS narrative is taking over their land?

Why doesn’t the Times employ someone educated in science to the extent of familiarity at least with the mainstream AIDS story, let alone the challenge to it from the Duesberg papers and other dissident scientists, who can help to demand a litle more informed reporting from their apparently totally scientifically illiterate correspondents and editors?

That this is not a misplaced insult is clear from Nicholas Kristof’s Op Ed piece The Hubris of the Humanities, also today, lamenting the state of ignorance of science among some of the nation’s “cleverest” people, ie those like himself educated in the humanities. Kristof admits he is a “math ninny” and that he found it impossible to find anyone in the Times newsroom outside the science section to check an equation he wanted to include in a piece.


A year ago, I wanted to ornament a column with a complex equation, so, as a math ninny myself, I looked around the Times newsroom for anyone who could verify that it was correct. Now, you can’t turn around in the Times newsroom without bumping into polyglots who come and go talking of Michelangelo. But it took forever to turn up someone confident in his calculus – in the science section.

Does Kristof realize that his columns on AIDS suffer from the very ignorance he is concerned about? Perhaps we should send him our earlier post on his performance, with some of the disrespectful adjectives removed.

The New York Times

December 6, 2005

Op-Ed Columnist

The Hubris of the Humanities

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

The best argument against “intelligent design” has always been humanity itself. At a time when only 40 percent of Americans believe in evolution, and only 13 percent know what a molecule is, we’re an argument at best for “mediocre design.”

But put aside the evolution debate for a moment. It’s only a symptom of something much deeper and more serious: a profound illiteracy about science and math as a whole.

One-fifth of Americans still believe that the Sun goes around the Earth, instead of the other way around. And only about half know that humans did not live at the same time as dinosaurs.

The problem isn’t just inadequate science (and math) teaching in the schools, however. A larger problem is the arrogance of the liberal arts, the cultural snootiness of, of … well, of people like me – and probably you.

What do I mean by that? In the U.S. and most of the Western world, it’s considered barbaric in educated circles to be unfamiliar with Plato or Monet or Dickens, but quite natural to be oblivious of quarks and chi-squares. A century ago, Einstein published his first paper on relativity – making 1905 as important a milestone for world history as 1066 or 1789 – but relativity has yet to filter into the consciousness of otherwise educated people.

“The great edifice of modern physics goes up, and the majority of the cleverest people in the Western world have about as much insight into it as their neolithic ancestors would have had,” C. P. Snow wrote in his classic essay, “The Two Cultures.”

The counterargument is that we can always hire technicians in Bangalore, while it’s Shakespeare and Goethe who teach us the values we need to harness science for humanity. There’s something to that. If President Bush were about to attack Iraq all over again, he would be better off reading Sophocles – to appreciate the dangers of hubris – than studying the science of explosives.

But don’t pin too much faith on the civilizing influence of a liberal education: the officers of the Third Reich were steeped in Kant and Goethe. And similar arguments were used in past centuries to assert that all a student needed was Greek, Latin and familiarity with the Bible – or, in China, to argue that all the elites needed were the Confucian classics.

Without some fluency in science and math, we’ll simply be left behind in the same way that Ming Dynasty Chinese scholars were. Increasingly, we face public policy issues – avian flu, stem cells – that require some knowledge of scientific methods, yet the present Congress contains 218 lawyers, and just 12 doctors and 3 biologists. In terms of the skills we need for the 21st century, we’re Shakespeare-quoting Philistines.

A year ago, I wanted to ornament a column with a complex equation, so, as a math ninny myself, I looked around the Times newsroom for anyone who could verify that it was correct. Now, you can’t turn around in the Times newsroom without bumping into polyglots who come and go talking of Michelangelo. But it took forever to turn up someone confident in his calculus – in the science section.

So Pogo was right.

This disregard for science already hurts us. The U.S. has bungled research on stem cells, perhaps partly because Mr. Bush didn’t realize how restrictive his curb on research funds would be. And we’re risking our planet’s future because our leaders are frozen in the headlights of climate change.

In this century, one of the most complex choices we will make will be what tinkering to allow with human genes, to “improve” the human species. How can our leaders decide that issue if they barely know what DNA is?

Intellectuals have focused on the challenge from the right, which has led to a drop in the public acceptance of evolution in the U.S. over the last 20 years, to 40 percent from 45 percent. Jon Miller, a professor at the Northwestern University medical school who has tracked attitudes toward evolution in 34 countries, says Turkey is the only one with less support for evolution than the U.S.

It’s true that antagonism to science seems peculiarly American. The European right, for example, frets about taxes and immigration, but not about evolution.

But there’s an even larger challenge than anti-intellectualism. And that’s the skewed intellectualism of those who believe that a person can become sophisticated on a diet of poetry, philosophy and history, unleavened by statistics or chromosomes. That’s the hubris of the humanities.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

In other words, the Times is typical in its ignorance of science aside from those who work in the area, so God help us if they report on AIDS in the International section as a topic which rests on scientific premises, since no one there has a clue as to the mainstream AIDS literature, let alone the controversy over whether it is valid, if they have heard of the issue at all.

Is it not time for the newspaper of record to report a little more responsibly in this area of US global policy? Their current performance as exemplified by this front page story is merely sensational pandering to readers’ prejudice against poor Indians and in support of a medical hypothesis which is the most questioned by scientists of any health scare extant.

This huge piece detailing the spread of AIDS down India’s new superhighways is the second most popular article to be emailed today, so it amounts to spreading the virus of a scientific fiction along the interstate and global highways of the Net in the most infectious way possible.

Yet mainstream AIDS papers say it is impossible.

Perhaps the New York Times’ Amy knows better that the scientists and their research. just as Larry Altman knows better than HIV?AIDS critic Peter Duesberg, his peer reviewers and the editors of Cancer Research and the Proceedings of the National Academy, not to mention a slew of other top journals.

But is this surprising, when, as reporters with hands on experience of the day to day events of HIV?AIDS in the real world, they are clearly better informed than scientists who carry out peer reviewed research, who are probably just sitting in their ivory towers mapping at second hand statistics supplied by medical workers in the hospitals and clinics of faraway continents?

Who would you rather put your money on, Amy Waldman’s unerring eye trained on an Indian prostitute she has just met whose story she takes down first hand right then and there, or an ivory tower researcher dealing with a bunch of statistics?

Contemplating this obvious choice, it seems to us that rather than the Times going hat in hand to the NIH to beg that self serving institution for guidance via press release or Anthony Fauci as to what is going on in AIDS, the NIH should humbly refer to the reporters of the Times when it wishes to conduct research in this field of study.

The New York Times

December 6, 2005

India Accelerating | An Epidemic Spreads

On India’s Roads, Cargo and a Deadly Passenger

By AMY WALDMAN

NELAMANGALA, India – Hot water: 10 rupees. Cold water: 8 rupees. Toilet: 5 rupees.

Sex: no price specified on the bathhouse wall, but, as the condom painted there suggests, safe.

Sangeetha Hamam, a bathhouse, sits on the national highway near this gritty truck stop about nine miles north of Bangalore. Its mistress is Ranjeetha, a 28-year-old eunuch who lives as a woman. Her lipstick and black dress provide a touch of glamour in the small dark shack.

Her clients are not only truckers, but also Bangalore college students and other city residents. They know to look for sex at highway establishments geared toward truckers. Her customers – as many as 100 on Sundays for her and five other eunuchs – come for a “massage” and the anal sex that follows, but also for the anonymity the location confers.

Ranjeetha knows men will pay more for unprotected sex, but she calculates that the extra money is not worth the risk to her livelihood and life. She knows they can go elsewhere; there are some 45 bathhouses doubling as brothels near this truck stop. She also knows several eunuchs who have died of AIDS.

India has at least 5.1 million people living with H.I.V., the second highest number after South Africa. It is, by all accounts, at a critical stage: it can either prevent the further spread of infection, or watch a more generalized epidemic take hold. Global experts worry that India is both underspending on AIDS and undercounting its H.I.V. cases.

Its national highways are a conduit for the virus, passed by prostitutes and the truckers, migrants and locals who pay them, and brought home to unsuspecting wives in towns or villages. In its largest infrastructure project since independence, India is in the process of widening and upgrading those highways into a true interstate system. The effort will allow the roads to carry more traffic and freight than ever before. But some things are better left uncarried.

The national highways between New Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, formerly Madras, and Mumbai run through at least six districts where H.I.V. prevalence is above 2.5 percent. Earlier this year, a New York Times reporter and a photographer drove the route, which has been nicknamed the Golden Quadrilateral.

To drive it is to peel back a nation’s secret, or not so secret, sex life, and the potent mix of desire, denial and stigma that is helping spread the disease.

India’s entry into the global economy over the past 15 years may also be furthering the spread of AIDS. With rising incomes, men have more money for sex; poor women see selling sex as their only access to the new prosperity. Cities are drawing more migrants and prostitutes, and Western influences are liberalizing Indian sexual mores. In response, cultural protectionists are refusing to allow even the national conversation about AIDS to reflect this changing reality.

The notion of a sexually chaste India is a “complete myth,” said Ashok Alexander, the director of Avahan, the India AIDS Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its preservation hurts prevention: “You say it’s not a big problem, only ‘those people’ are doing that.”

Driving the highway also shows the complications in reaching the various constituencies along it. India’s AIDS epidemic is as variegated as the country itself, with a multiplicity of high-risk groups. Intravenous drug users concentrate in northeastern states. Devadasis – poor, lower-caste women consecrated to gods as young girls and then consigned to prostitution – live in the south.

Many of the groups are deeply fragmented and in perpetual motion, making them difficult for educators to reach: the man who owns a single truck; the woman who works at night out of a thatched hut; the lone migrant who shuttles back and forth between his village and urban work.

But a number of AIDS prevention groups have come to see working along the highway as the best hope for targeted interventions.

Avahan is pouring much of its $200 million into efforts along the highway. Another group, Project Concern International, sent young men to walk the Golden Quadrilateral – 3,625 miles long – over the course of a year to raise awareness about AIDS.

They met truckers, villagers, road workers and migrants, and in some places were cheered as heroes. In others, they were chased out for daring to discuss condoms and H.I.V., accused of spreading promiscuity and disease.

Sometimes, construction on the highway blocked the workers’ way. But the deeper obstacles were culture, politics and history. The puritanical values of British colonialists repressed sexual expression in this country – essentially criminalizing homosexuality – and stigmatized it in many Indians’ eyes as well. Some of the socially conservative Hindu nationalists who governed until 2004 tried to pretend no one was having sex, at least outside marriage.

In truth, sex work has flourished in independent India. Red-light districts operate openly in cities like Mumbai, formerly Bombay, and in its new suburbs and industrial areas. Hundreds of girls and women parade the streets at night near “pharmacies” where quacks peddle fake AIDS remedies.

And advocates battling the spread of AIDS say they have learned that men having sex with men, then with their wives, is surprisingly common, but veiled by stigma.

Ranjeetha, the bathhouse mistress, believes the real danger is not open eunuchs like her, but the men in denial, who work in offices by day and dress in saris at night. “People who lead double lives don’t use condoms,” she said.

Awareness and Denial

At least 1,000 trucks a day pass through Nelamangala’s trans-shipment point, often waiting hours or days for a new load. In the interim, drivers and their helpers patronize bathhouses like Sangeetha, although many of the sex establishments do not paint condoms on the outside, and use none inside.

There are three million to four million trucks on India’s roads, at least one million of them traveling long distances. If truckers cannot find sex at trans-shipment points, they can buy it on the roadside, where women signal potential clients with flashlights.

As many as 11 percent of truckers may be H.I.V. positive. In some parts of the country, like Tamil Nadu, the stigma around truckers has grown so strong that fathers forbid their daughters to marry them.

Yet no one has figured out a comprehensive system for education or testing. There are perhaps 3,000 to 4,000 regional transport companies, but most trucks are owner-driven or run by small companies.

The major stopping points, or trans-shipment yards, see so many truckers each day that even if truckers take an AIDS test, there is no way to follow up – an “amnesiac system” in one advocate’s words.

In a dusty parking lot at this truck trans-shipment point, an AIDS educator wielded a black dildo and a condom, encircled by truckers who stifled mirth and curiosity.

“Why are you targeting us?” a trucker asked the educator.

Truckers asked if AIDS could be transmitted by mosquito bites. They made ribald jokes about their sex lives, and boasted about not using condoms.

One trucker interrupted to say he knew people who used condoms and still got AIDS.

“Check the expiration date,” the educator said.

“We are illiterate, we can’t read,” the trucker replied.

In the country’s north, some drivers say they have never heard of AIDS, although their facial expressions may suggest otherwise. In the south, where AIDS is much more common, denial is trickier. Truckers have heard of AIDS, and often know someone who died from it, and word is starting to travel along with the virus.

But awareness does not always translate to protection. Bhagwan Singh, 47, a trucker who was halting at the Gujarat-Rajasthan border, said he did not use condoms, because he had paid for sex only a few times.

“What happens if I just go once, twice, thrice?” he said. “Only if I’m a regular fellow I might contract such things.”

Bringing H.I.V. Home

Once, twice, thrice or more often, whatever the truckers do on the road, or migrants do in cities, is coming home to oblivious wives. Here, the danger of a culture that is simultaneously licentious and conservative, of seasoned husbands and sheltered wives, becomes clear.

This has become especially apparent in India’s southern states, which are prospering economically, but have been hit the hardest by AIDS, along with pockets of the isolated northeast.

The states the highway runs through in the south all have H.I.V. infection rates of 1 percent or higher.

In the government hospital in Guntur, a district with a 2.5 percent H.I.V. infection rate, Sambra Ja Lakshmi, 27, a mother of two, was being counseled.

Her husband, a 33-year-old trucker, had done “thousands of kilometers on the national highway,” as she put it. Where he got H.I.V. is unknown, but he was so sick he could no longer move. She, a homemaker and mother who barely left her village about 15 miles off the highway, was H.I.V. positive, too.

The counselor, Sunita Murugudu, had heard it before, and knew she would hear it again.

Some 80 percent of truckers’ wives who came in for voluntary testing and counseling tested positive, she said, usually because by the time they came in their husbands were on their deathbeds, and denial could no longer be sustained.

G. Karuna, 24, was another woman who fell prey to the peregrinations of her husband, a long-distance driver from a family of truckers. When they both sought treatment for tuberculosis or opportunistic infections at hospitals, they hid his occupation, since many private hospitals now turn truckers away.

After her husband died, his family blamed her, a cruel vengeance some in-laws inflict on the widows. They have made treatment and prevention that much harder.

She was forced to sleep on the path outside; the family refused to share even a loaf of bread that she had touched. Soon their whole village had ostracized her.

Ms. Karuna cried as she told her story, but that story also conveyed an uncommon strength. She had left her husband’s family and her village to start a new life on her own. She became an activist with the Social Educational and Economic Development Society, an advocacy group in Guntur, trying to save other truckers’ wives.

She showed women pictures of her handsome husband before he sickened, and after.

She told the wives to know what their husbands were doing outside the home, to negotiate the use of condoms with them, to get treated for sexually transmitted diseases. Her husband’s relatives still teased her: “Why are you working so hard? You also will die.”

Morality and Stigma

In the town of Nippani, outside Lafayette Hospital, a sign warned against unprotected sex, showing a blue demon on a horse slaying a healthy man.

But those who fell prey to that demon were not welcomed, explained a doctor, Sunil Sase. AIDS carried a stigma like leprosy, he said, “so we are not exactly treating the AIDS cases.” They were sent to another hospital 50 miles away.

A group working to raise AIDS awareness among prostitutes had been chased from Nippani after being accused of promoting sex. Most of the devadasis and prostitutes, who had been working in the town on the highway for 50 years, had been chased out in a morality crusade. Now they were scattered along the road, impossible to reach with education or condoms.

A mob had pulled one prostitute, Reshma Sheikh, and her 7-year-old son out of her house to try to force them from town. “We have a right to live and work there, we never hurt the sentiments of the people around,” she said. She had stayed, only because she had nowhere else to go.

The main group leading the crusade was the Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist political party. Sunil Sadashir Dalavi, 32, the local leader, boasted about their success. But he said the women were not the only cause for the spread of AIDS.

“Educated boys don’t get jobs, they have extra time, they don’t know what to do,” he said. “They can’t marry till they get a job, they have very strong desires, so they go to these women.”

Once the men were married they would not do “these things,” he insisted, despite government surveys showing otherwise. The answer to controlling sex was controlling the culture, he said. A lot of local men went to two nearby cinemas that screened sex movies, he said, and then to brothels. “We want to close the ‘talkies’ down,” he said, “so people will not do this.”

A Fragmented Industry

In almost every doorway in the red-light district of Chilakaluripet, in Andhra Pradesh, women drape, wearing bright clothes, garish makeup and come-hither expressions that have served to lure both men and disease.

For half a century, the town has been a center of sex work, combining its location on the national highway with women from its Domara community, which has come to specialize in prostitution. Truckers passing through know where to stop; if they do not, there are hotel boys, rickshaw pullers and others willing to guide them.

In recent years, the town and surrounding area have also become a center of H.I.V. infection, and, given the number of long-distance truckers tarrying here, a likely source for its spread elsewhere.

The sex industry has been organized in some cities, like Calcutta, but mostly it is as fragmented as the trucking industry. Chilakaluripet features brothel-based and home-based prostitutes, secret prostitutes and women who sell sex along the highway. A police crackdown on brothels in recent years has further dispersed the women.

Venkaimah, a 25-year-old widow, is part of a “highway brothel” – a small moving coterie of women who work in bushes or fields or restaurants along the road. Her workday starts when the light is gone and the truck traffic heavy. She leaves her two daughters, 10 and 2, behind, and on a good night may get 8 to 10 customers who pay 50 cents to a dollar each.

Some prostitutes now use condoms, but the disease continues to spread. One local organization, Needs Serving Society, estimated that 1,000 people had tested positive for H.I.V. in the town and nearby villages, most of them not prostitutes, but locals who may have patronized them. No one, though, had any real idea of the true number. On one narrow lane alone, 20 prostitutes were infected, said one of them, Konda, 38.

Venkaimah’s children motivated her to use condoms – if she did not, she knew that sooner or later they would be orphaned. But loneliness can loosen defenses: like many prostitutes, she had “temporary husbands” – longtime boyfriends – with whom she did not use a condom at all.

Chilakaluripet, known for sex, was now marked by death.

In a courtyard, Venkateswarmma, a mother of two, as thin and brittle as a doll, sat on a cot, unable to move. Her husband, a brothel owner’s son, had died 10 days before, infected after sleeping with its employees. She was near death herself, unable to walk for her husband’s death ceremony. Her 2-year-old son had already died from AIDS; she would leave behind an 11-year-old boy.

A Mobile Society

For 15 years, Vilas Jaganath Kamkar had been taking the bus from his village in Maharashtra state to Mumbai, its capital, where he worked as a taxicab driver. In 1994, he had taken a wife, Manisha, but he kept working in Mumbai, with monthly visits home.

In this migrant nation, his life was not unique. Nor, in this age of AIDS, was his fate. Migrants may be the hardest group for AIDS educators to reach. As Indian society becomes more mobile, people are leaving villages for urban work at increasing rates.

In Maharashtra, new plants and factories are springing up along the revamped highway. As rural migrants come to work in the factories, poor women follow to sexually service the men. Newly rich locals patronize the abundant supply of women, spawning H.I.V. “hot spots” along the highways.

In cities, the migrants live in slums, three or more to a room, and may move often. Away from their families for months at a time, they seek the companionship not just of prostitutes but of girlfriends, with whom safe sex is often ignored.

Migrants leave home to work, but go home to die. At the hospital in Satara, a prospering city on the highway south of Mumbai, Mr. Kamkar, the taxi driver, now 32, lay breathless on a hospital bed. His luck had run out, and not just because he had contracted H.I.V. Only 25 hospitals and health centers were prescribing antiretroviral drugs. They were available in Guntur, but not 12 miles south in Chilakaluripet. They could be had in Mumbai – but not in Satara.

All Mrs. Kamkar, 25, a mother of two, could do was take her husband back to their village, try to ease his pain and nurse him until the end.

“It’s a matter of his destiny,” she said.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Man who could have got the Nobel – if not discouraged by elders

December 6th, 2005

Dr Stone Freedberg discovered ulcer bacteria first

Larry Altman writing in the Times Science section today (Tues Dec 6) has found Dr. Stone Freedberg, a 97 year Harvard man who discovered in 1940 that bacteria were associated with stomach ulcers, and would undoubtedly have got the Nobel for it, instead of the two Australians who will go to Stockholm for that discovery soon, if he had pursued the matter.

Unfortunately he was discouraged by his superiors after he failed to find the bacteria again in additional experiments.


But Dr. Freedberg’s superiors squelched any thoughts of continuing the research. “I was discouraged by everybody,” he said….

Though some doctors continued to raise suspicions about an infectious cause of ulcers, researchers consistently failed to find the evidence. For example, in 1954, Dr. Eddy D. Palmer of the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington reported finding no bacteria among 1,180 stomach specimens he examined.

Apparently this was a mistake, or possibly sheer incompetence (it is not explained here):

Dr. Freedberg said that “what Palmer did, was to essentially destroy interest in a bacterial cause of ulcers” until 1984, when two Australians, Dr. Barry J. Marshall and Dr. J. Robin Warren, identified H. pylori among ulcer patients.

Whatever the problem, it seems clear that if Dr Freedberg had been encouraged millions would have been saved from having part of their stomachs removed.

And the pioneer would have got the Nobel he apparently deserves, since he wrote a paper describing his findings and The American Journal of Digestive Diseases published it in 1940.

Those contemplating poor Stone Freedberg’s bad luck might consider the following paragraphs, since they are highly relevant to the question of whether the reviews rejecting the conventional theory in HIV?AIDS are being given their proper weight by the scientists in the field, whose interests would be mightily disturbed if they accepted their import.


Editors of medical journals insist that other experts review new findings before they are published and reported to the public.

The purpose of this peer review is to help ensure accuracy and to exclude false findings. But publication of papers that fail to confirm initial positive findings in peer reviewed journals illustrates that the publication of poorly researched negative findings can be as dangerous, if not more so, as publishing sloppy positive findings.

In other words, Freedberg lost his Nobel partly because sloppy research which failed to confirm his finding out of sheer incompetence was published thanks to sloppy peer review which failed to detect its lousy quality.

Here we have Larry Altman once again recognizing the fallibility of peer reviewed research published in respected journals. Why then does he accept without question that the mountain of peer reviewed AIDS research might not be equally sloppy, or just plain misguided and irrelevant, as the reviews of Peter Duesberg constantly indicate?

Perhaps because the same doubt – that peer review is not necessarily a gold plated measure of quality – applies equally to Duesberg’s own research. But then why should Mr Altman assume that the consensus is right, and Duesberg is wrong?

After all, science is not a democracy, so the numbers supporting one side of an issue or the other don’t count.

The simple fact is that in the end, it is necessary to read the papers yourself with a critical mind.

It would be interesting to ask Mr Altman to confirm that he has done his own reading of Duesberg’s papers in this all-important dispute. We will write an email to him and put this question to him.

But of course, it may be that he suffers from the same “top down process” brain syndrome that we analysed in our post of Nov 22. That is, the tendency of the left-brain interpreter to reinterpret challenging results so that they fit into one’s preconceptions.

So perhaps he read Duesberg’s papers and like the president of the British immunology society we mentioned a while back, found that they only confirmed his belief that the AIDS consensus is valid.

If there ever is a Congressional enquiry trying to fathom the true state of affairs in AIDS science such that the opposing views can be reconciled, it will be interesting to hear how Altman accounts for his unquestioning support of the HIV=AIDS paradigm and his disdain for the papers of Peter Duesberg, when the latter contain so many enduring objections to the enire scheme.

Presumably he is not biased in any way by his training at the CDC.

The New York Times

December 6, 2005

The Doctor’s World

A Scientist, Gazing Toward Stockholm, Ponders ‘What If?’

By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN, M.D.

For Dr. A. Stone Freedberg, a 97-year-old retired Harvard scientist, the presentation of the Nobel Prize in Medicine on Saturday to two Australians for discovering a bacterial cause of stomach ulcers will be bittersweet.

In 1940, Dr. Freedberg identified curved bacteria, now known as H. pylori, in the stomachs of ulcer patients in Boston. But he abandoned that line of research after other scientists failed to confirm his findings, and his boss, Dr. Herrman L. Blumgart, told him to move on to something easier to prove.

But what if that confirmation had come and Dr. Freedberg had pursued ulcer research?

Dr. Freedberg might have become a Nobel laureate long ago. Antibiotics would have cured millions more people of their ulcers and spared them from surgically parting with much of their stomachs, a standard treatment for chronic ulcers.

“What ifs” are as plentiful in medicine as any other field. In conducting research, doctors are guided by a number of philosophical questions: is the aim to create a new paradigm? To try to disprove a well-accepted theorem? Or to refine existing understandings?

Most scientists say that they settle on making minor advances, because grants from the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies usually support that type of research.

Also, young researchers face tremendous career risks in seeking to upset conventional thinking and scientific dogma. Ulcers are a case in point: for decades doctors believed that stress caused ulcers and were slow to accept them as an infectious disease and to prescribe antibiotics.

Dr. Freedberg’s interest in stomach ulcers as a young researcher at the Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Hospital in Boston grew out of his investigations into another condition. His initial focus was on learning the effects of fever on the heart and circulatory system when it collapsed into shock from infections.

Dr. Freedberg learned from reading scientific reports that patients who had this condition often developed tiny ulcers in the stomach and small bowel that sometimes bled, even severely.

He also learned that since at least 1906, doctors had seen curved bacteria in the stomach of patients with ulcers but rarely in people without them. Dr. Freedberg was puzzled. “The stomach was very acid and did not seem to be the kind of place where bugs would grow,” he said. “So how could bugs be there? And what were they doing there?”

All these findings were in dead people, raising the possibility that the bacteria were contaminants or that they took up residence after death.

So Dr. Freedberg decided to determine whether the bacteria were present in living patients by examining pieces of stomach removed during operations for ulcers and other illnesses.

A surgeon friend agreed to provide Dr. Freedberg with these tissues. A pathologist gave him a work space and supplies to examine the stomach tissue under a microscope after the staff had gone home.

In performing these tests, Dr. Freedberg relied on techniques he had learned in 1936 and 1937 while training as a specialist in pathology and microbiology at the Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. He abandoned that career choice because he could find no permanent pathology job, he said in interviews.

Initially, Dr. Freedberg could not see any bacteria when he used standard chemicals to stain the stomach tissue. But the bacteria stood out when he used a silver stain. He found the bacteria in 13 of 35 patients, or 37.1 percent.

“I still remember the surprise and good feeling I had when I first saw the S-shaped organisms” in the mucosa, or surface lining, of the stomach, Dr. Freedberg said.

Dr. Freedberg said that trained pathologists agreed that what he had seen were bacteria in living tissue.

Dr. Freedberg thought they were not normal inhabitants of the stomach, but he lacked evidence that the microbes had any pathological significance. Still, a fundamental question needed answering: what were the bacteria? The only way to know was to grow them in a laboratory.

“Obviously if I could grow the bacteria, there were things you could do with them,” Dr. Freedberg said.

A microbiologist colleague whose main interest was virology, not bacteriology, tried to culture the bacteria. But about four months later he stopped because nothing grew.

So Dr. Freedberg wrote a paper describing his findings and The American Journal of Digestive Diseases published it in 1940. In a discussion section, published as a follow-up to Dr. Freedberg’s paper, Dr. Frank D. Gorham of St. Louis said that for 10 years he had found that intramuscular injections of bismuth helped heal ulcers. Bismuth was a popular remedy.

In 1850, a German doctor recommended the mineral for stomach ulcers and by 1900 Norwich Eaton sold Bismosal for relief of gastric ulcers and acute gastritis.

To determine whether bismuth worked because ulcers might be an infection, Dr. Gorham’s colleagues at Washington University examined 242 stomachs obtained from autopsies and found curved bacteria in 43 percent. But these colleagues could not establish a definite causative link between the presence of the bacteria in the stomach and serious gastric disease. Dr. Gorham urged additional searches for an ulcer-causing microbe.

Dr. Freedberg said he was “very upset that my findings weren’t confirmed” because it implied that his work was wrong. Also, the inability to grow the bacteria “bothered me,” Dr. Freedberg said, because his findings “had to be important” for ulcers, which were an important health problem.

But Dr. Freedberg’s superiors squelched any thoughts of continuing the research. “I was discouraged by everybody,” he said.

Dr. Freedberg said that Dr. Blumgart, the chief, told him, “Maybe you made a mistake,” and that it did not make any sense to continue because it would be a waste of time, when diseases of the heart and blood vessels were the main focus of the department’s research.

The longstanding attitude in the department was “if you find it difficult to pursue a problem, drop it and switch to something you could learn something from, because there is so much unknown in our area and medicine,” Dr. Freedberg said.

Though some doctors continued to raise suspicions about an infectious cause of ulcers, researchers consistently failed to find the evidence. For example, in 1954, Dr. Eddy D. Palmer of the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington reported finding no bacteria among 1,180 stomach specimens he examined.

Dr. Freedberg said that “what Palmer did, was to essentially destroy interest in a bacterial cause of ulcers” until 1984, when two Australians, Dr. Barry J. Marshall and Dr. J. Robin Warren, identified H. pylori among ulcer patients.

They will receive their Nobel Prizes on Saturday in Stockholm.

Dr. Freedberg, who went on to have a distinguished career as a professor of cardiology at Harvard, gave up practice this year, but he remains active by advising former patients and regularly attending concerts in Boston. He said he was “really happy when Marshall found the bugs,” because the discovery confirmed his theory.

He met with the Australians when they received an award in Boston in 1994. Dr. Freedberg tried to go back and study his old specimens and lab notebooks after the initial Australian reports, he said, but the Beth Israel Hospital had discarded them.

Editors of medical journals insist that other experts review new findings before they are published and reported to the public.

The purpose of this peer review is to help ensure accuracy and to exclude false findings. But publication of papers that fail to confirm initial positive findings in peer reviewed journals illustrates that the publication of poorly researched negative findings can be as dangerous, if not more so, as publishing sloppy positive findings.

Dr. Marshall, asked in a telephone interview whether he would have won his Nobel Prize if Dr. Freedberg had been able to pursue his ulcer research, said, “No way.”

“If Dr. Freedberg’s team had been able to culture H. pylori,” Dr. Marshall said, “they would have seen that bismuth kills the bacteria and they could have developed a treatment in a few years.”

He added: “They would have won the Nobel Prize about 1951 as I was getting born. So it was just a bit of bad luck for a lot of people.”

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Kenneth Cole sets the new trend: “we all need an HIV test”

December 5th, 2005

A friend sent the following url, a gateway to a video on AOL (use Safari on Macs) presenting Kenneth Cole’s new effort to engender more sympathy for all who carry the real burden of the HIV?AIDS paradigm, ie those that score positive on an HIV test, whatever that may mean scientifically (see previous post).

http://us.video.aol.com/video.index.adp?mode=2&guideContext=65.73&pmmsid=1436144″>Kenneth Cole: “We All Have AIDS”

The clip is from ABC News, reporting a new AIDS campaign with the sensational slogan “We All Have AIDS.” The leader is shoe designer Kenneth Cole, who believes that we should all view ourselves as one with all who “have AIDS”, because we all are human, and we all might very well get it. More specifically, underlying this feeling of solidarity, he explains, is the “shocking fact that 90 per cent of those who have HIV don’t know it,” because they haven’t been tested.

In other words, Cole’s idea is that the whole world should take an HIV test. Perhaps we are too cynical but we can see why this goal might be promoted by those who want to draw funding for AIDS. Mainstream science has now shown that it is in fact almost entirely uninfectious from man to woman. Expanding testing into the heterosexual community will keep up AIDS numbers, and therefore funding, by finding the 1 in 330 heterosexuals who supposedly are carrying the virus (antibodies) unawares.

By no coincidence Cole is the chairperson of AMFAR. He succeeded Mathilde Krim, the blonde scientist-socialite who parlayed the role into a charity friendship with Liz Taylor. He is presumably keen that the entire population of nearly 300 million souls in the US should be tested, so that the 98,000 known “HIV positives” in this country can be expanded to the full million or so the CDC has always told us live here. The more the merrier as far as AMFAR funding is concerned, to be sure.

(How this total of around a million of these HIV+ unfortunates has held steady throughout the twenty years of AIDS in the US, yet given rise to an expanding and then contracting AIDS epidemic ie how a steady prevalence correlates with a rise and then fall of illness and deaths from AIDS over the same period is one of the great mysteries of AIDS, as yet explained by the HIV=AIDS theorists.

Even if the fall in AIDS deaths in the US over the last decade was explained by newly effective medications in the nineties (it isn’t very well, since it doesn’t coincide precisely, and the literature records the new cocktails cause all kinds of unpleasant side effects including in the end death) the complete absence of any initial rapid expansion of HIV in the population at the beginning of the US epidemic is quite unexplained).

“Thank you very much Kenneth,this is really extraordinary, what an effort, we appreciate it,” says Katie Curran, ending the news segment in the ABC news video.

So why are we not joining in the applause?

One reason is we always find it hard to take the behavior of celebrities in their enthusiasm for advocating AIDS as a cause at face value. Why are they always so earnestly energized by it when they so long ignored much greater ills of mankind? The answer is superficially obvious, of course. Supporting efforts to conquer AIDS is still a win-win situation for any public personality.

Many people with AIDS have been prominent in the arts and its activists have won much more political attention than lobbyists for bigger diseases such as cancer and heart attacks. As long as AIDS remains in the national spotlight, those who crave media attention cannot go wrong in publicising the cause, since they will be near the front of the national stage and bathed in media illumination as well as politically correctness, though perhaps not quite as brightly as in the past.

But if you contemplate the scene long enough it seems that there are more complex psychological factors at work. A strange beatification of AIDS activists occurs, as if they were haloed by their association with AIDS. It is not so much the publicity seeking as the internal moral conviction which takes over. Psychiatrically speaking, one senses they are escaping the earthly threat by transcending it with exemplary, quasi-saintly behavior. They enter a moral heaven to escape a terrestial dragon, as it were.

How else to explain the almost ecstatic joy that seemed to overcome the UN official on the PBS McNeil Lehrer News Hour on the night of World AIDS Day evening (Thus Dec 1), As he described the progress he imagined was being made against AIDS worldwide even as it was spreading far and wide across the globe he seemed lit up by an ineffable joy, flashing ever brighter smiles in striking contrast to the dark underlying topic. As it serves to justify ever larger amounts of funding, HIV-AIDS also allows second level functionaries and minor celebrties of all kinds to assume the mantel of a savior.

All this heavenly St Elmo’s fire of haloed sainthood is now attaching itself to the latest idea being sold by the AIDS establishment, the movement now spearheaded by Cole, that all of us should be tested for HIV, and know our “status”.

Giving Kenneth the boot

Excuse our lack of enthusiasm, but if the unending and so far unanswered scientific review critique of HIV?AIDS is correct, the last thing we would sign up for is a voluntary HIV test. According to the reviewers it is meaningless, merely serving the purpose of those who wish to administer lethal AIDS drugs in order to “save your life” for the short while before you lose it altogether.

Not to mention the news recently noted here which includes more than one report of people being prosecuted for murder for making love to partners whom they forgot to tell they were rated positive for HIV.

Australian News – Courier-Mail

COURT REPORTS

Ex-lover on trial for HIV infection

Amanda Watt

08dec05

A QUEENSLAND man on trial for deliberately infecting his gay lover with HIV was a “highly infectious” carrier of the virus when he allegedly transmitted the disease, Brisbane District Court was told.

The Crown alleges the man, 37, who cannot be named, had been HIV positive since 1987 but lied about it to his new boyfriend during their two-month relationship in 2003, ultimately infecting him with the deadly virus.

The accused man has pleaded not guilty.

The victim, 42, who also cannot be named, told the jury on Tuesday that he was always concerned about the HIV virus but was reassured by his lover before they had sex – and then repeatedly during their relationship – that he had been tested and had the all-clear.

But the victim said after becoming ill a month into the relationship he sought medical help and was eventually diagnosed as being HIV positive.

He said the pair always had unprotected sex – something he would never have agreed to if he knew the true status of his partner’s health.

“He kept on telling me it was fine because he was HIV negative,” the man said.

“I wouldn’t have gone to bed (with him) if he was HIV positive – with or without a condom.”

The victim’s previous lover is not a HIV carrier and the victim claims intravenous drug use and needle stick injury can be ruled out as possible causes.

Yesterday, infectious diseases specialist Associate Professor James McCarthy told the jury he believed the victim was most probably infected in late January or February 2004 – which is soon after the men began their sexual relationship.

He also said the accused man’s hospital file showed he told staff last year that he had never undergone treatment for his HIV virus – which made him “highly infectious with a very high viral load”.

In a police interview played to the court on Tuesday, the accused repeatedly denied he had kept his HIV status a secret.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations today.

As long as the review arguments remain the last word on HIV?AIDS in the scientific debate in the peer reviewed literature, we would suggest that Kenneth Cole may not be the best savior to listen to in deciding whether we all have AIDS or not.

Wicked Wikipedia bias in AIDS entries is a known problem hard to solve

December 4th, 2005

Doubts that Wikipedia can be objective and accurate

Hugely popular and surprisingly reliable, objective and comprehensive, Wikipedia is nonetheless becoming a problem for some people and issues it covers, as the story “Snared in the Web of a Wikipedia Liar” today in the New York Times indicates.

The New York Times

December 4, 2005

Rewriting History

Snared in the Web of a Wikipedia Liar

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

ACCORDING to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, John Seigenthaler Sr. is 78 years old and the former editor of The Tennessean in Nashville. But is that information, or anything else in Mr. Seigenthaler’s biography, true?

The question arises because Mr. Seigenthaler recently read about himself on Wikipedia and was shocked to learn that he “was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John and his brother Bobby.”

“Nothing was ever proven,” the biography added.

Mr. Seigenthaler discovered that the false information had been on the site for several months and that an unknown number of people had read it, and possibly posted it on or linked it to other sites.

If any assassination was going on, Mr. Seigenthaler (who is 78 and did edit The Tennessean) wrote last week in an op-ed article in USA Today, it was of his character.

The case triggered extensive debate on the Internet over the value and reliability of Wikipedia, and more broadly, over the nature of online information.

Wikipedia is a kind of collective brain, a repository of knowledge, maintained on servers in various countries and built by anyone in the world with a computer and an Internet connection who wants to share knowledge about a subject. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have written Wikipedia entries.

Mistakes are expected to be caught and corrected by later contributors and users.

The whole nonprofit enterprise began in January 2001, the brainchild of Jimmy Wales, 39, a former futures and options trader who lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. He said he had hoped to advance the promise of the Internet as a place for sharing information.

It has, by most measures, been a spectacular success. Wikipedia is now the biggest encyclopedia in the history of the world. As of Friday, it was receiving 2.5 billion page views a month, and offering at least 1,000 articles in 82 languages. The number of articles, already close to two million, is growing by 7 percent a month. And Mr. Wales said that traffic doubles every four months.

Still, the question of Wikipedia, as of so much of what you find online, is: Can you trust it?

And beyond reliability, there is the question of accountability. Mr. Seigenthaler, after discovering that he had been defamed, found that his “biographer” was anonymous. He learned that the writer was a customer of BellSouth Internet, but that federal privacy laws shield the identity of Internet customers, even if they disseminate defamatory material. And the laws protect online corporations from libel suits.

He could have filed a lawsuit against BellSouth, he wrote, but only a subpoena would compel BellSouth to reveal the name.

In the end, Mr. Seigenthaler decided against going to court, instead alerting the public, through his article, “that Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool.”

Mr. Wales said in an interview that he was troubled by the Seigenthaler episode, and noted that Wikipedia was essentially in the same boat. “We have constant problems where we have people who are trying to repeatedly abuse our sites,” he said.

Still, he said, he was trying to make Wikipedia less vulnerable to tampering. He said he was starting a review mechanism by which readers and experts could rate the value of various articles. The reviews, which he said he expected to start in January, would show the site’s strengths and weaknesses and perhaps reveal patterns to help them address the problems.

In addition, he said, Wikipedia may start blocking unregistered users from creating new pages, though they would still be able to edit them.

The real problem, he said, was the volume of new material coming in; it is so overwhelming that screeners cannot keep up with it.

All of this struck close to home for librarians and researchers. On an electronic mailing list for them, J. Stephen Bolhafner, a news researcher at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, wrote, “The best defense of the Wikipedia, frankly, is to point out how much bad information is available from supposedly reliable sources.”

Jessica Baumgart, a news researcher at Harvard University, wrote that there were librarians voluntarily working behind the scenes to check information on Wikipedia. “But, honestly,” she added, “in some ways, we’re just as fallible as everyone else in some areas because our own knowledge is limited and we can’t possibly fact-check everything.”

In an interview, she said that her rule of thumb was to double-check everything and to consider Wikipedia as only one source.

“Instead of figuring out how to ‘fix’ Wikipedia – something that cannot be done to our satisfaction,” wrote Derek Willis, a research database manager at The Washington Post, who was speaking for himself and not The Post, “we should focus our energies on educating the Wikipedia users among our colleagues.”

Some cyberexperts said Wikipedia already had a good system of checks and balances. Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Stanford and an expert in the laws of cyberspace, said that contrary to popular belief, true defamation was easily pursued through the courts because almost everything on the Internet was traceable and subpoenas were not that hard to obtain. (For real anonymity, he advised, use a pay phone.)

“People will be defamed,” he said. “But that’s the way free speech is. Think about the gossip world. It spreads. There’s no way to correct it, period. Wikipedia is not immune from that kind of maliciousness, but it is, relative to other features of life, more easily corrected.”

Indeed, Esther Dyson, editor of Release 1.0 and a longtime Internet analyst, said Wikipedia may, in that sense, be better than real life.

“The Internet has done a lot more for truth by making things easier to discuss,” she said. “Transparency and sunlight are better than a single point of view that can’t be questioned.”

For Mr. Seigenthaler, whose biography on Wikipedia has since been corrected, the lesson is simple: “We live in a universe of new media with phenomenal opportunities for worldwide communications and research, but populated by volunteer vandals with poison-pen intellects.”

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Certainly the entries on HIV=AIDS and the dissident review of that almost universally accepted paradigm are cases in point, since they are partly taken over by people defending the conventional wisdom and disparaging the objections to it.


AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and is defined as a collection of symptoms and infections resulting from the depletion of the immune system caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus, commonly called HIV (Marx et al., 1982).

The problem is obvious enough that it is being discussed on a special page, though it seems that a solution is not yet at hand.

A while back we corrected some of the entries, but it is clear that this doesn’t do much good, since they revert to misinformation if others think the corrections are wrong in their turn, and change them back.

The top reference to the paradigm critique on the main “AIDS” entry page , a paragraph titled “Alternative theories”, is unexceptional, in fact quite respectful and objective:


A minority of scientists and activists question the connection between HIV and AIDS, or the existence of HIV, or the validity of current testing methods. These claims are met with resistance by, and often evoke frustration and hostility from, most of the scientific community, who accuse the dissidents of ignoring evidence in favor of HIV’s role in AIDS, and irresponsibly posing a dangerous threat to public health by their continued activities. Dissidents assert that the current mainstream approach to AIDS, based on HIV causation, has resulted in inaccurate diagnoses, psychological terror, toxic treatments, and a squandering of public funds. The debate and controversy regarding this issue from the early 1980s to the present has provoked heated emotions and passions from both sides.

For more details on this topic, see AIDS reappraisal.

The AIDS reappraisal page referenced is also an unusually balanced and informative source on the main points made by the dissidents, but unfortunately many questions are dismissed in a conclusive manner rather than left open. This creates the impression of a successful refutation, rather than an open question, which in fact they all remain in the absence of refutation on the more expert level of discussion conducted by Duesberg in his two decade series of massive, peer-reviewed papers, the last one being the paper in the Journal of Biosciences in 2003.

This page of explication, which is ultimately mostly (inadequate) refutation, presents a small problem, however, compared with another. The bigger roadblock for AIDS dissidents is the Common Misconceptions about AIDS page, which often reads as if it were written by HIV=AIDS apologists from the NIH and CDC, probably because it draws from their page dismissing AIDS scientific review at The Evidence That HIV Causes AIDS Fact Sheet. (That page is dismissed by the dissidents at Rebuttal to the NIAID/NIH document ‘Evidence That HIV Causes AIDS’, a page to give any open minded reader pause.)

The page advertises its thrust in its very title, Common Misconceptions about AIDS, and many of the ‘misconceptions’ are assertions by the HIV?AIDS dissidents countering claims of the paradigm.

To take but one example,


HIV antibody testing is unreliable

Diagnosis of infection using antibody testing is one of the best-established concepts in medicine. HIV antibody tests exceed the performance of most other infectious disease tests in both sensitivity (the ability of the screening test to give a positive finding when the person tested truly has the disease ) and specificity (the ability of the test to give a negative finding when the subjects tested are free of the disease under study). All current HIV antibody tests have sensitivity and specificity in excess of 96% (except the HIV-TEK G by Sorin Biomedica) and are therefore extremely reliable (WHO, 2004).

This paragraph is entirely misleading, since in the first place an accuracy of 96% when testing in a population which contains only 1 true positive for every about 330 true negatives, which is the level of HIV positivity estimated for the general US population by the CDC, which has maintained consistently that there are about 900,000 positives in a population of 298 million, would yield a larger number of false positives than true. 13 times as many, in fact.

(You can work it out. In a group of 330 Americans, there would be on average 1 true positive, and with a test that was 96 per cent accurate, there would be about 13 false results, which would be positives, since they are false. That would be 13 false positives for every true positive, which in itself is a prescription for social disruption of a high order).

The egregiously factually inaccurate nature of this statement (let’s not call a spade a spade) is underlined by reference to any test package which will inform you that there is no established standard for detection of HIV antibodies which is what the tests test for.

Or as the package insert from an HIV Elisa test from Abbott Laboratories, the leading maker, read in 1997, “At present there is no recognized standard for establishing the presence of absence of antibodies to HIV-1 in human blood”.

Meanwhile there is a long list of factors which give rise to a false positive on HIV Elisa tests, including pregnancy, and malaria. Anyone recovered from malaria is liable to score false positive.

The Wikipedia section on the ‘myth’ that HIV antibody testing is unreliable continues:


Progress in testing methodology has also enabled detection of viral genetic material, antigens and the virus itself in body fluids and cells. While not widely used for routine testing due to high cost and requirements in laboratory equipment, these direct testing techniques have confirmed the validity of the antibody tests (Jackson et al., 1990; Busch et al., 1991; Silvester et al., 1995; Urassa et al., 1999; Nkengasong et al., 1999; Samdal et al., 1996).

Presumably they mean PCR, a means of detecting genetic material by amplifying it from a needle to a haystack, and a test rejected for this use by Kary Mullis himself, who won the Nobel prize for its invention, who says it cannot serve as a valid guide to HIV status.

Majority may not be expert

What can be done? Not much, it seems. The validity of Wikipedia entries unfortunately rests on a consensus ruled by the majority, or at least a majority of those who feel strongly enough to write and edit the entries in line with their own understanding.

The flaw in this is that when it comes to a contentious issue in science as in anywhere else, the majority is not always better informed than the few individuals who disagree with the conventional wisdom, and often less, since their motivation to do their own independent research is weaker.

In science, in particular, progress is achieved by people who at the outset of the change they try to effect disagree with the majority and its conventional wisdom, and seek to overturn it. They are usually in for an uphill struggle, as the majority tends to conserve and protect conventional ideas from challengers.

Wikipedia is by nature a repository for conventional wisdom, ruled by the majority to the exclusion of other ideas unless those that have a different view are sufficiently tactful, in entering information on a topic in dispute, to ensure that the qualifications and additions they make do not get bumped.

Since Wikipedia, with 854,455 English entries and 81 other languages is now the largest encyclopedia in the world and possibly the most popular at 2.5 billion page views a month, is normally surprisingly reliable and up-to-date, this presents a problem for the activists in HIV?AIDS dissidence.

The entries biased against HIV?AIDS review are going to persuade many readers that any resistance to the hegemony of HIV=AIDS is flogging a dead horse, when in fact it is a critique which stands peer-reviewed, published and unanswered in the same journals at the same level.

The problem is recognized, as noted above, by Wikipedia participants who have opened a discussion thread on the topic, though without resolution at present. To read the discussion, go to the Duesberg hypothesis page where there is a notice “The neutrality of this article is disputed” and a link to

Talk:Duesberg hypothesis

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* 1 Older discussions

* 2 Disputed

* 3 Outline

* 4 POV

* 5 So Obviously POV

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Older discussions

It would be interesting to know when the Duesberg hypothesis was postulated to understand that in the right context. — mkrohn 21:19 Apr 6, 2003 (UTC)

The “Duesberg hypothesis” was not formulated by Duesberg at all. It was in fact the first hypothesis given by the government researchers themselves, before 1984. The idea that drugs and environmental factors were the priamry cause of AIDS was the predominant scientific opinion at one time in the early 1980s. Only after the “announcement” of HIV as the cause did this change. But ideas that poppers were a primary cause of many early AIDS cases came straight out of the NIH itself in the beginning. Revolver

To answer your question though, the first real signficant published article to challenge HIV appeared in 1987 by Duesberg, “retroviruses as carcinogens and pathogens, expectations and reality” Revolver

I take real offense to the placement of a link to “AIDS misconceptions and conspiracies” in this article, esp. the “conspiracy” part. I think it violates the NPOV stance by making those who question the HIV hypothesis out to be “conspiracy theorists”. I think the link should be removed. Revolver

Strictly speaking, the idea that HIV might not cause AIDS is not a “hypothesis”. The “drug-AIDS hypothesis”, that hypothesises drugs as a possible cause of AIDS illnesses, is an example of a true hypothesis. Saying that HIV does not cause AIDS is not hypothesising a new fact, it is challenging a previously existing hypothesis (namely, that HIV causes AIDS). The only reason “HIV doesn’t cause AIDS” is considered a “hypothesis” is because the claim that HIV causes AIDS has become so widely accepted that people psychologically consider it an obvious fact of reality, rather than a scientific claim. Even if all the evidence does support the HIV hypothesis, this doesn’t make the idea that HIV does not cause AIDS itself a “hypothesis”, it’s just a claim against the original hypothesis. The idea that questioning HIV is itself a “hypothesis” is wrong. I can question the existence of gravitational force or electromagnetic force, but this by itself isn’t putting forward forward a positive claim, it’s arguing against a hypothesis, whether or not the hypothesis has enough evidence to support it or not. Revolver

I agree, but I’ve usually heard it called the “Duesberg hypothesis.” Unfortunately, I haven’t followed recent discussion of this idea. Read quite a bit about it a few years back (including Inventing the AIDS Virus, Rethinking AIDS and a couple other books); I’ve been wanting to tackle this issue since I became a Wikipedia contributor, but am worried that I may be uninformed (and quite biased, since I strongly tend to believe the “Duesberg hypothesis”). Though, considering this article (and the AIDS article), it seems to me such a bias might be needed in order to counterbalance the existing treatment of this as a “conspiracy theory” of sorts. The article on Duesberg’s hypothesis could certainly be much more detailed. Any ideas on how to proceed? I’d have to get back into research before I’d feel comfortable contributing to this article… — Wapcaplet 01:32 21 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Wapcaplet, I’ve had many of the same thoughts. I’ve been a dissident since 1996, and have thought of adding to this article or starting a new article, but I haven’t, mainly for the reason that I fear my own POV is too far from neutral. The only reason I keep thinking of doing such a thing is that most people’s idea of a “NPOV” stance is, in MY eyes, far from neutral. It would be a good exercise for me to try to give an real account of the controversy in a NPOV, but I’ve had other things to do, and I wouldn’t look forward to the inevitable conflicts that would arise from people’s reactions. If you want to talk about it, give me an email (dbrown@math.ucsb.edu) cheers Revolver

The “Duesberg hypothesis”, as I understand it, most frequently refers to the hypothesis by Peter Duesberg that AIDS is caused by hard injected drug use, and not HIV. Though there are many who are skeptical that HIV is the cause of AIDS, the Duesberg hypothesis is simply one of the alternative explanations, by the man who is probably the most vocal opponent of the HIV-AIDS idea; others have suggested alternative hypotheses, or who do not have a hypothesis for the cause of AIDS (but who still question HIV as a causative factor). At any rate, this article should be about Duesberg’s hypothesis. A separate article should be used for exploring the more general notion of “those who are skeptical that HIV causes AIDS.” I’ve encountered no simple, terse terms to describe such ideas, so here are a few suggestions for article titles:

* HIV-AIDS skeptics (would be my first choice for a title)

* HIV-AIDS reappraisal or simply AIDS reappraisal (second choice)

* Rethinking AIDS (good, but could be confused with the book of the same name)

Any other suggestions would also be welcome. I believe this subject can be treated neutrally, provided we stick with the known facts and findings. I am not sure how useful I will be in contributing to this article right now, since it has been at least 4 years since I’ve followed any of the news on AIDS, but the primary arguments against HIV-AIDS I’ve usually seen are:

* The lack of any study or other publication proving HIV to be the cause of AIDS (if this is still true; I know that as of 1999, one had not turned up)

* The failure to isolate “pure” HIV

* Individuals with HIV but no AIDS, or AIDS without HIV

* Difficulties with false-positives in HIV testing

* The CDC statistics disproportionately indicating hard drug use, especially among males, as the primary risk factors, even until recent years

* Positive correlation between AZT treatment and the onset of AIDS-related illnesses

Again, not having followed the discussion recently, I am not aware whether these claims have been discredited or otherwise explained. I’d be obliged if anyone could direct me towards any recent news on these matters; much of the material I’ve seen is quite old and outdated. — Wapcaplet 18:07 21 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Since another article has been started focused on the dissident movement and questioning of HIV in general, I move that the current page be rewritten as a short article on the drug-AIDS hypothesis, which is really what most people involved in HIV (orthodox AND dissident) mean when they say “Duesberg hypothesis”. I am NOT refering to the lay press. Revolver

Agreed. Duesberg hypothesis should be a redirect to that, then. I’ve also heard it called the risk-AIDS hypothesis, though that may be a conceptually different animal. — Wapcaplet 22:46 22 Jul 2003 (UTC)

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Disputed

IMHO the neutrality and the factual accuracy of this article is still disputed, and without changes to the article, it will become worse, as year by year any remaining doubts whether the Duesberg hypothesis is nonsene vanish. You just don’t see much disussion here, perhaps because other contributors don’t know about the article or have resigned changing ot. For related discussions see this talk page and the main article AIDS and its talk page.

Anyway, I don’t re-insert the tag for now, as the cost/benefit ratio of this action doesn’t seem to be that good. Perhaps an RfC listing would attract some more editors.

Pjacobi 15:36, 2005 May 25 (UTC)

I’m not seeing the problem, Pjacobi. The article states what Duesberg thinks, and says very clearly that most scientists disagree…. What’s the dispute? Whig 21:25, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

[edit]

Outline

These issues are important 66.81.16.73, but Wikipedia has articles, not outlines. Try to integrate these issues in a coherent style in the article (not the introduction), or they might be largely removed. Tfine80 17:03, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

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POV

You dont write “X says, but he is wrong”, you write “X says, but Y disagrees”. The article as it is is P O V. –Striver 22:23, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

So if someone says that the earth is flat and someone says he is wrong, that is POV? Duesberg is wrong on many many fronts, and has been proved wrong over and over again, yet he won’t accept defeat. –Bob 22:32, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Yes, that is pov. You can say “the majority of worlds scientis dissagree with the earth being flat”. But not just say he is wrong. That is taking the majorities side, the very definition of pov!

And what the heck is this?!

Duesberg’s most radical challenge to the HIV-AIDS hypothesis is his offer to infect himself with HIV. However, he claims that it is not possible for him to do so without the approval of the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the university where he works. Moreover, there are already some one million HIV-positive people in the United States, as well as some 34 million people elsewhere in the world who test HIV-positive, so the addition of one nearly 70-year-old academic is not likely to make much difference in this debate. –Striver 22:36, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Please, courtesy and politeness on Wikipedia.

Where does it state he is wrong. I do believe it states the following: The current consensus in the scientific community is that the Duesberg hypothesis has been refuted by the huge mass of available evidence, showing that Koch’s postulates have been fulfilled by HIV, that virus numbers in the blood correlate with disease progression and that a plausible mechanism for HIV’s action has been proposed.–Bob 22:42, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Sorry.

This quote is pov:

Duesberg believes that there is a statistical correlation between decreases in recreational drug use and decreases in AIDS cases. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Indeed, the numbers of recreational drug users is declining, but the number of HIV infections is still rising.

It takes the majority view as true. It needs to be refreased as “x shows/says that…” –Striver 00:28, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

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So Obviously POV

Duesberg believes that there is a statistical correlation between decreases in recreational drug use and decreases in AIDS cases. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Indeed, the numbers of recreational drug users is declining, but the number of HIV infections is still rising.

You need some evidence for this. I doubt if recreational drug use is declining but if it is let’s see the evidence.

the number of AIDS cases rose exponentially

Again let’s see some evidence. A graph of number of cases vs time would be a start. And don’t forget ability to diagnose plays an important part here. Aids may have gone unnoticed in the past.

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Duesberg_hypothesis”

Views

Nonetheless, the Wikipedia entries with their references to further reading remain the best introductory discussion of the two sides of the HIV?AIDS dispute on the Web.

PS Dec 19 – Wikipedia is now developing an idea to solve the problem of false entries, according to this news report today:


WIKIPEDIA ASKS FOR DONATIONS OF MONEY

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The Internet’s free encyclopedia has begun an international fundraising effort. “In the coming year, the Wikipedia Foundation anticipates spending millions keeping up with increases in demand, improving our software, and continuing work toward our goal of providing free knowledge to everyone,” said a message on Wikipedia.org. “We can do it with your help.”

In a message signed by Jimmy Wales and other co-founders, the Wikipedia team asked for donations. Since the drive began last week through PayPal, contributions were reported to total $44,000 on Monday morning.

Wales also told reporters over the weekend there are plans for two versions of the encyclopedia, to avoid a repeat of recent events in which bogus information was published. “What we are doing is pursuing a model of having ‘stable’ versions and live versions,” of the online reference, Wales told the Financial Times. “The stable version will have been reviewed so we can say we have some confidence in that,” he said. Wales also plans to require registration for people who want to create new entries.

H. L. Mencken comments on the HIV?AIDS paradigm issue

December 3rd, 2005

“There is always a well-known solution to every human problem – neat, plausible, and wrong.”

Henry Louis Mencken 1880-1956 (Prejudices 2nd series, 1920)

All hail World AIDS Day – let the ink and the electrons flow

December 1st, 2005

Today (Dec 1 Thu) is World AIDS Day, and once again we will all be reminded of the extent of the plague of the fearsome virus, the need for a renewed international effort to prevent it sweeping the world, the praiseworthy efforts of concerned world leaders such as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jeffrey Sachs, Richard Holbrooke and Anthony Fauci to turn the AIDS aid tap another notch, the sheer ignorance of Africans in the realm of sexual relations, the generosity of the drug companies in reducing the price of their pills, and so on and on. In other words, much the same as last year and the year before that and before that and before that.

For as usual not much has changed over the last year, though it is claimed in some African countries that the spread of HIV has eased, owing to the ABC of prevention – Abstinence, Be Faithful, Use Condoms – applied by the same supposedly ignorant Africans previously out of sexual control.

No vaccine, though thirty are being tried out, according to the BBC Health Correspondent. No cure. No explanation of how HIV causes AIDS. No proof that HIV causes AIDS. No explanation as to how AIDS could possibly be spreading outside drug use among the heterosexuals of Africa and beyond, when the possibility of transferring “HIV positivity” in ordinary sex is negligible to the point of vanishing, according to AIDS mainstream science.

No explanation of why it wouldn’t be simpler to adopt the critique of dissent in AIDS science and simply acknowledge that HIV is not the cause of AIDS or anything else, and return to treating all symptoms of AIDS as if they were caused by what they usually are and always were caused by – recreational drugs, TB, malaria, and a myriad other diseases in Africa, malnutrition, fear, panic and hopelessness, and worst of all, the remarkably toxic drugs used in AIDS treatment.

For if that was done, all the myriad inconsistencies, puzzles, paradoxes and lack of explanations in HIV?AIDS would melt away in an instant, leaving absolutely none to be accounted for, and no one confused, instead of everybody baffled who thinks about the topic for more than five minutes.

But that of course would be too simple. For economically, politically and socially, it would be the most complex matter in the world. The very idea is enough to give the editors of Nature and Science a stroke, and doctors in their offices and AIDS scientists in their labs across the world heart seizure.

Not to mention strike fear in the hearts of drug executives, politicians, activists, gays, health workers, WHO statisticians, officials and university administrators and their wives and sons and daughters and dogs and cats and the whole massive infrastructure of dependents whose very life blood would freeze at the prospect of HIV being revealed as “the wrong cause of AIDS, sorry.”

However, today being a day of celebration of sorts – celebrating the conjoined efforts of all who are trying to rescue the world from this ever mounting threat, second only to bird flu in its promise of devastation – we would like to stop criticizing for once and join in the party.

Yes, we too at New AIDS Review welcome World AIDS Day.

We care, do you?

For one very good reason. The very good reason that it serves to keep AIDS in the headlines and the whole fantastic paradigm in view, like some gigantic inflated Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Denis the Dragon cartoon balloon of science, torn loose from the moorings of good scientific review and already high in the sky, though not yet totally beyond the gunsights of the skeptics.

For how otherwise could this science blog’s fundamental point be made so easily? Without this extraordinary example of questionable science inflated by hot air and other invisible supports to global domination, we would be lacking history’s greatest example of Kuhnian paradigm resistance, whereby a flawed but established paradigm is maintained by the secret closemindedness of its supporters against all the attacks of logic and evidence mounted by those who wish to replace it with something better.

Without the staggeringly obvious and conclusive example of AIDS, by now the most suspect paradigm of all time, it seems to us, we would lack a paradigm exhibit of unprecedented size and vulnerability.

A prize exhibit on which well over $130 billion has been spent so far, a paradigm for which no proof has ever been offered, or even valid evidence, according to the best scientific literature.

A prize exhibit of a paradigm which has resisted proper independent review for almost two decades, while achieving no valid results whatsoever in terms of preventive, palliative or cure for the fatal defeat of human health it is supposed to account for. (No, Dr Watson, the drug cocktail does not save lives, unless you prefer to credit Time Magazine rather than the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and not even the review papers, but those written by the mainstream scientists in AIDS in support of HIV?AIDS).

So we too are happy to join hands briefly with the HIV=AIDS establishment and dance around the World AIDS Day pole, forgetting for the moment, as they seem to do in their resistance to review, the lives devastated and sacrificed by this unmoored belief.

For we acknowledge with shame that we too benefit from the existence of this marvel, this incredible gas-filled dragon balloon cartoon figure of a paradigm, which now rules the minds of so many millions and very soon billions, and which presents such a wonderful target for any one who wishes to assert the strange phenomenon of the mental inertia and group mindedness of scientists, fully paid up members of the one profession which supposedly makes a practice of self-questioning its own bias.

But of course, while the target is enormous, an extremely large balloon easily resists a kick in its Mickey Mouse pants, however large the boot. What is needed here is a bazooka.

Well, as we have hinted before, a rocket of much larger firepower, a veritable literary Exocet missile is currently being loaded, polished and aimed. We can say no more at present. But it is not impossible that this World AIDS Day may be the last time that the AIDS higher ups of Washington and in the great American and European universities are seen dancing around the AIDS Maypole in December.


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