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.


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.

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

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

Expanded GUIDE TO SITE PURPOSE AND LAYOUT is in the lower blue section at the bottom of every home page.

In defense of Duesberg – scientist who adheres to classic standards

February 28th, 2006

Disparaging Duesberg won’t get DAIDS defenders very far this time, we predict

The comment of Ed Tramont to the inclusion of Peter Duesberg ‘s name and views in the Harpers article – “As soon as I saw it I knew it wouldn’t be taken seriously” or the equivalent – is widely shared by poorly informed blog commenters.

Since we know from experience that, on the contrary, anything Duesberg writes is always impeccably precise, factually accurate, and finely argued, we believe we should contradict this politically aimed, scientifically unjustifiable remark.

The kind of response to Duesberg’s critique he has gotten in the past and is getting now is worth noting because it is not only inappropriate to Duesberg but because it indicates the very weakness of the HIV case.

Rated by some as one of the finest intellects at work in science today, on the basis of his remarkably precise and comprehensive papers damning the selection of HIV as the cause of AIDS, and his recent work in cancer, Duesberg nonetheless has been successfully smeared by the political defenses mounted by those of his peers who are seriously invested in HIV, having based their entire career on it for twenty years.

Having dealt with Duesberg as a reporter for those two decades, having read all his papers, and having never found him anything but precisely accurate in his observations on HIV?AIDS or any other scientific topic, including especially cancer, and corrected only in very minor ways by peer reviewers in areas outside his core expertise, we have to agree with those who give him a top rating, and say his treatment has been shameful.

We’ve interviewed scores of other scientists at the top of their field over the years, and we can assure these Duesberg denialists, that is, those who deny Duesberg’s stature, that they are scorning an unusually powerful scientific intellect and analyst, clearly superior to his opponents in the HIV?AIDS matter.

This is easily evidenced by the quality of his papers eviscerating the rationale for HIV?AIDS from the Cancer Research and the Proceedings articles right up to the Journal of Biosciences paper in 2003. We are certain that no one of any intelligence can read these papers without appreciating that they are written by a major scientific mind. (A researcher of our acquaintance who has read Duesberg’s papers very closely says he is convinced that Dueberg is a “scientific genius.”)

But of course, the foot soldiers of HIV?AIDS will never read them. So let’s note that of all the graduate students at Harvard that Walter Gilbert made read these papers as examples of high grade paradigm challenge, not one decided to make a name for him or herself by writing a rebuttal.

This salient point is made by Harvey Bialy, in his book of 2004, “Aneuploidy, Oncogenes and AIDS: The Scientific Life and Times of Peter Duesberg”, a highly revealing account of the specious and egregious manoevering over the years by scientists, bureaucrats and editors in HIV?AIDS to evade the impact of Duesberg’s challenge as a professional threat by castrating him financially and in terms of platform.

Bialy, writing from the safe distance of a university appointment in Mexico, spares none of them in reporting such incidents as the notorious invitation to the opera, where a scientific player flew into San Francisco and invited Duesberg to the opera and drinks afterwards.

There he produced from his jacket pocket a document Duesberg was to sign repenting of his sins and renouncing his objections to HIV, whereupon he would be accepted back into the fold, and invitations extended once again, funding approved and publication of his papers accepted. Duesberg, though facing professional ruin, declined.

His recent progress in understanding cancer is also recognized as extremely important and promising by many senior scientists in that field, in spite of the fact that he demolished the intellectual foundation of their current fashion in cancer research in Cancer Research in 1987. (See his website Peter Duesberg on Cancer for the article in Scientific American which published a timeline of cancer research recognizing Duesberg’s contribution as seminal).

The essential theme of the Harpers piece by Celia Farber is the abandonment of scientific standards. Duesberg has never shown any sign of this weakness in anything he has written. He remains a classic scientist of the old school, subscribing without reserve to the very highest standards of logic and evidence.

It is a sad commentary on the general abandonment of those standards in the HIV?AIDS debate that he has to be defended against such politics.

Massive Washington drug trial meet is unanimous – HIV, nevirapine OK, Harper’s not

February 24th, 2006

We return from the heart of darkness, having seen the light, courtesy of Tony Fauci

The morning session at the HIV Prevention Trials Network Annual meeting at the $309 a night Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington began with a bounteous breakfast buffet including unlimited fresh orange juice, scrambled eggs, sausages of two kinds and long and perfectly done slices of bacon, meeting the highest standard of English country house weekends of the past century.

We ate as much bacon as we reasonably could, in honor of the hapless victims of AIDS around the world and the public spirit of many of them in agreeing to participate for very small reward ($10 or $20, we were told, is typical) in testing revolting drugs which may help stave off the depredations of a retrovirus which is entirely to blame for their ailments, according to every single person present at this meeting, for which no fewer than 861 people had signed up.

Bleary from a unsuccessful fight to find anything but trash on the 27 inch tv in our room last night, this morning we simply sat down beside two Thai girls at the nearest table. Destiny, however, took a hand. A friendly woman sitting at the same table proved to be administering the very pilot study that had Myron Cohen exploding with enthusiasm yesterday afternoon.

She informed us of the answer to the puzzle that had challenged us since. She explained how the “statisticians” had allowed them to launch a study which would detect the effects of nevirapine on the transfer of HIV positivity from man to woman or vice versa, even though this mostly (after initial infection) occurs at such a low rate that for all practical purposes it can be ignored as nil.

This was the last point in the day when pure logic ruled, as it turned out, and it was interesting to explore it with her. We have to say we are still not quite sure if the study design makes sense in principle. In case you can and wish to comment, we explain our difficulty in a hidden section which will emerge if you click (show):

The conundrum is as follows: if Nancy Padian, Gisselquist and numerous other mainstream reasearchers agree that on the whole it would take heterosexual discordant couples (one HIV positive, one negative) one thousand couplings on average to effect one transfer of HIV positivity, how could a dose of nevirapine or anything at all make any discernible improvement in this almost negligible rate?

(The rate is even lower, one thousand to ten thousand, according to the slide by Myron Cohen yesterday, endorsed by other speakers in the meeting, which noted that after the acute phase, during the lengthy period of dormant virus before actual AIDS breaks out ten to twenty years after, the chances of transferring the cirus heterosexually were 1/1000 to 1/10,000, as shown in a slide which we will reproduce here)

The brunette beauty told us that “the statisticians” had worked out how to do the study. Apparently there would be about 4000 men and women roped into this trial, and that the expected maximum total of successful transfers of the positive virus antibody status in five years would be “88”. If there were more than 88 the trial would be halted, she said, since it would be clear that nevirapine was not working to inhibit the rate.

How does that work? we enquired. You mean, if it takes ten years for the average couple, at the rather generous level of two bouts a week, to transfer HIV positive status to the other, then if you have 2000 couples, you can expect many more events? And therefore if there is any improvement with nevirapine, you will be able to see it (assuming there is a control group, which has often been missing from NIAIDS trials, according to the Harpers piece)?

Yes, she agreed. But unfortunately the first talk had started, and she had to excuse herself with advice to look at their web site and see what the statisticians had explained.

We must say we couldn’t immediately decide whether their approach made sense or not. Perhaps readers can advise.

If ten men take ten hours to paint a house, then twenty men would take five hours, sure. But if ten men can eat lunch in half an hour, twenty men can’t eat lunch in fifteen minutes. Which principle applies to this study?

Is the principle of a faster paint job applicable to the statistics of HIV transfer? Assuming that HIV is transferred through sex at all, which seems questionable (the 1 in 1000 Padian found seems to have been raised from zero during the trial by a somewhat circuitous and apparently invalid logic) especially since the lower end estimate on the slide yesterday from Myron Cohen showed 1/10,000? (We reproduce the chart in black and white for clarity here)

Unless we are mistaken, the average couple would be corpses in their graves before their number came up. At the lower, once a week copulation rate that is the normal assumption of researchers, that rate would be 50 copulations a year, or 500 in ten years, so 10,000 would take a couple 200 years. So the bottom line would be that the average couple would take 20 to 200 years to transfer HIV.

The approach suggested by the statisticians, the lady explained, was simply to use this figure to project how many events would occur in a group of 2000 discordant couples. Since the typical couple will take 20 to 200 years, and the events occur at random, anywhere from immediately for an unlucky couple to forty years for a lucky one, a five year study of 2000 couples should produce about one quarter ie 50 to 500 transfers of HIV.

In other words, if one couple takes an average of 20 years to transfer, then two thousand couples all copulating simultaneously will produce more such events in a shorter time. Presumably if the curve is flat there will be 50 to 500 in five years, more or less. So where does this mere “88” come from? Apparently the statisticians have chosen the 1 in 10,000 bouts average rate of transfer.

This is an interesting fact, that heterosexuals can find very comforting even if they believe in the dangers of HIV. Apparently anyone’s chances of contracting HIV in sex from another person of the opposite sex in a single bout is a very low 1/10,000, not 1/1000, according to the assumptions of the statisticians.

All this seems to be logical, and is a standard approach in HIV?AIDS research, we believe, but somehow one still wonders if there is any sense in it at all. Surely such a fantastically low rate of transfer for an individual couple probably reflects the reality that HIV just does not transfer in heterosexual sex at all, and nevirapine or any other factor is therefore going to make no difference whatsoever, except for producing illnmess and even death for some, if the critics are right.

Of course, the fact that condoms could certainly achieve the desired result without any nasty medication whatsoever is not relevant, because this is not permitted to be mentioned by the granting agency, the federal government.

That was the last time we examined anything with a critical eye today, it turned out. For having demolished as much bacon and orange juice as possible on behalf of the trial participants unable to attend this meeting, we joined the 861 listeners in the main hall presentations, and from that moment on we found ourselves increasingly unscientific in mood, as we were caught up in the group spirit.

By the end of the day, in fact, we had seen the light. Suddenly there was no need to criticize at all. Right in front of our eyes was the best evidence that HIV medication research was on the right track, and that anyone who was going to criticize was simply an outsider who hadn’t got the message.

This overwhelming evidence included:

1) The vivacious and warm personae of the participants, who seemed so much more content and agreeable than complaining HIV critics, one has to say, and who set an extremely good example for the populations of underdeveloped countries to follow. If belief in HIV had conferred such vibrant health and energy on the 861 people gathered in this meeting, surely it would bring the same blessing to the people of Africa and Asia.

2) The extraordinary cohesion and sense of mission shared by all. There was not a single doubter or skeptical mind in the bunch, as far as we could tell. This was enormous team spirit, equal or perhaps even greater than a school of fish, all swimming in unison in the same direction. The effect was overwhelming. The latest science has revealed that the mirror neurons in one’s brain tend to bring one’s mind in line with another human being as one observes them in action. We found it impossible not to empathize with 861 people in close proximity who have the same idea all at once.

3) The inspiring positive spirit of the HTPN and DAIDS leaders, including at least three with enormous charisma and oratorical talent, who we found could stir even a skeptical outsider with a sense of mission and accomplishment as we all moved forward together into the future where thanks to advanced science and sophisticated drugs the entire world will be able to live with HIV/AIDS, if not actually avoiding HIV altogether.

Such exceptional orators included Myron Cohen, Jonathan Kagan and the celebrated Anthony Fauci, whose sense of mission, vigor and confidence in the future imbued us as well as everyone else listening to them. In fact, we suggested to all three that perhaps we should name them “Heroes of AIDS” in a magazine piece, but unexpectedly Anthony Fauci, after three seconds reflection, declined.

4) The powerful arguments advanced to this reporter to the effect that any doubts in the relevance of HIV medication to AIDS were as absurd as Holocaust denial, and probably the moral equivalent. “Come and see for yourself!” cried at least two busy researchers with massive trials ongoing on the Dark Continent. One tall African-American active in Zambia told me that I would see how they brought in ailing AIDS victims so weak they had to be wheeled in barrows. Three months later, the anti HIV regimen had them returning to their villages.

5) The level of organization and authority reflected in the slides presented, with their perfectly worked out diagrams, arrows, columns, tables and lists, jargon, acronyms, and labels, showed everything labeled, named, ordered, computed and Powerpointed and explained clearly and logically (we assume, since the slides often slid by too quickly for real inspection). Nothing is more convincing and authoritative than a scheme mapped out and charted in clear order, we found.

6) Clear agendas. All Friday morning one agenda after another was presented and explained, in slide after slide – the currently very popular microbicides research agenda, the pediatric research agenda, the antiretroviral, behavioral, substance use and STD control research agenda. In fact, it could be said that nowhere had the public monies been more intensively applied than in this effort to map a future research agenda, which had so clearly achieved its goals. One could have nothing less than complete confidence in all these agendas, whatever their underlying rationale.

Questioning any agenda so thoroughly mapped would be like questioning the course of a tightly disciplined, immaculately maintained ship – a Navy ship, say, with clean uniforms (in fact there was one officer of the CDC present in full gold banded cuffs and medals, of whom we took this snapshot) and all sailors at their posts, steaming ahead to do battle, guns polished and loaded and course steady. As an observer on the bridge you would never dream of challenging the competence of the captain, even if the prow was aiming at a stone harbor wall dead ahead.

7) Keeping their own house in order. Nothing instils confidence in an operation than keeping its own house in order, as we say. One half hour presentation, by the proud designer of a new DAIDS computer reference system, explained how it would allow everyone applying for a trial grant to check at any moment, day or night, the precise position the application had reached in winding its way through the bureaucracy. This admirable order of priorities in the concerns of all involved won appreciative applause.

8) The tremendous presentation by the NIAIDS director. The week long session ended on a high note as Anthony Fauci, looking extremely dapper in a nicely tailored dark grey suit with subtle color threading, reassured his troops that funding might have leveled off from its previous 45 degree ascent, but they shouldn’t feel depressed. He had found a slide from the early years of the plague in which he predicted that funding would be tight, but as it turned out it was only just beginning its steep climb. The same thing might happen again, he suggested, and meanwhile he personally would make sure that the number of trials they were administering didn’t drop too far.

Fauci’s confidence was fortifying, and we felt quite reassured that the whole effort to test the effect of rather unpleasant drugs on the world’s ailing poor was unlikely to slow down noticeably.

In fact, we took the opportunity to ask him about his reaction to the new Harpers article, by Celia Farber, mentioned earlier, which calls into question the entire scientific quality and even the rationale of the 20 year effort to combat HIV?AIDS that Fauci has led with such success in the eyes of the world and the White House.

Unlike every other major figure in the NIAIDS and out of it that I had asked yesterday and this morning, Fauci, however, informed me that he hadn’t yet read it. By sheer coincidence, however, his talk had contained a spirited defense of the HIVNET nevirapine trial in Uganda which Farber had revealed was a complete mess, according to its embarrassing initial internal reviews.

Fauci had repeated the endorsements of the Institute of Medicine and other defenders of the study, who had claimed that despite the failures of controls and other flaws pointed out by critics, the final result, as rewritten by the responsible official in NIAIDS, was that nevirapine was an effective drug and should be funded with large chunks of the $15 billion in AIDS aid promised by President Bush.

Apparently this section of the speech was not in any way designed as a response to Harpers, then, but Fauci was interested to hear that it applied. When I mentioned that he hadn’t replied to the second half of the Harpers piece, however, he asked me what I meant. I told him it contained a fine summary of Peter Duesberg’s activities and critique of HIV. “Oh, that’s all been dealt with on our web site!”, he said dismissively.

Ed Tramont, Director of the Division of AIDS (DAIDS) of the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH) and others, who all admitted to having read the Harpers piece, seemed to think there was no cause to take it seriously either. His reason, he said, was that as soon as he saw Peter Duesberg mentioned in it, he knew he didn’t have to take it seriously. (However, having discovered that we took Duesberg’s reviews seriously as scientific literature, peer reviewed in the best journals, he rushed to tell Tony Fauci that we believed in Duesberg’s critique.)

With the single exception of one key bureaucrat at DAIDS, who when asked his reaction to the Harpers piece looked miserable, and said “I just do my job”, noone seemed to feel that it deserved taking seriously. “They can write anything they like but it doesn’t make it right!” said a female John Hopkins scientist. Those willing to discuss the topic – and there were several of these – insisted that the drugs, including nevirapine, worked very well, and any time I wanted to visit Africa I could confirm this for myself. Their very real conviction was apparent, even in private conversations.

But one thing was noticeable. No one was able to explain how Peter Duesberg had been able to publish continuously over two decades complete scientific eviscerations of the HIV claim in some of the most reputable peer-reviewed journals in the world, where the referees included the greatest experts in the field, often extremely wary of his cause and anxious to prevent publication but evidently unable to prove what he said was factually wrong.

The only answer to both Peter Duesberg and Celia Farber seemed to be as the brunette scientist from John Hopkins put it, “They can publish what they like but it doesn’t mean it’s right!’ Fauci’s “Go to my web site!”, and the testimony of African trial administrators (one from Harvard, no less) that if one didn’t believe the drugs were valuable, “come to Africa and see for yourself.”

Immersed in today’s clubby experience, however, that seemed good enough. Power and money certainly provided a more attractive form of truth than tiresome and remote scientific journals that no one important needs to take seriously.

After Tony Fauci had presented several networking awards to a handful of hard working trial administrators, the meeting broke up and closed lunch sessions planning the future of trials took place.

But we had already learned enough, and full of enthusiasm for the marvelous example of these lively servants of a great cause, which they had so powerfully reassured us was the right one, we returned on the train to New York with what we had sought from the horse’s mouth – replies from the mouths of the biggest horses in the business to the best written and most tightly edited and checked challenge to HIV research and ideology to be published in mainstream journalism for two decades.

The high wattage enthusiasm of Myron Cohen

February 23rd, 2006

An important meeting in Washington of a large number of key people who mount HIV?AIDS trials of all kinds took place this week, and we decided to get down there in time for the talk this afternoon of Myron Cohen, who did not disappoint.

Myron, of the University of North Carolina, has developed a heroic level of enthusiasm for mounting a very large trial to see how anti-retrovirals might interfere with the dread possibility of man transferring HIV positivity to woman and vice-versa.

In a fast talking slide presentation involving “logs” and “g”s Myron rushed the audience through what purported to be a preliminary trial of some kind, which had cleared the way for the $100 million real thing, if funding for that was made available, as it no doubt will be if Myron is in the room. What a dynamo!

There was one very interesting slide which we will examine in detail later for what it tells us about the obstacles he has to contend with.

Meanwhile sitting in the audience was Nancy Padian whose study was the first that established the Mount Matterhorn that Myron will have to climb in discovering any effect whatsoever, which is that heterosexual contagion is effectively nil, according to Padian and other mainstream literature.

We will expand on this theme after returning from the conference, which includes cherry pie and some kind of soft dessert of a celestial order undreamed of by the unfortunate sufferers from HIV?AIDS in far away continents, who are about as far removed from the living style of their saviors as they are in mileage.

We read the Harpers piece again as we trained down to this networking node, and we will report on the surprising responses of key NIAIDS stalwarts such as Ed Tramont, Director of the Division of AIDS, when we asked them if they had read it.

But what a delightful experience the whole affair is. How healthy – positively glowing with nutrition and fulfilment – seem all the people here. I must say they set a good example for the people who are the object of their attentiveness, at least in persuading them to be public spirited enough to offer themselves for experimenting on in these trials, which as Celia Farber points out are the most lucrative scientific and medical activity in view these days.

We have been repeatedly reassured by everyone here that any criticism of these activities or the science behind them is sheer ignorance. In fact we were told by more than one person that it was comparable to Holocaust denial.

No one could yet explain how it was that the scientific journals that had published Duesberg had been taken over by sheer ignorance but we will find out tomorrow, we are sure.

Tony Fauci will come and give the final talk and then hand out awards for “networking”. At the rate we are collecting cards we think we might get one too.

Harpers article a watershed in HIV?AIDS debate

February 21st, 2006

Reasons to expect the HIV?AIDS cruise ship to take on water

That Harpers should be the one journal which has finally broken out of the group hynotic trance of mainstream-liberal-progressive editors in this area now seems inevitable, even though fifteen years ago it rejected an early, 1990 piece on Duesberg and HIV?AIDS politics along similar lines that was written for the magazine, which we happen to know editor Lewis Lapham liked at the time as “the kind of thing we should be publishing”.

As described in an earlier post, however, this fell by the wayside when Jack Hitt, the sub-editor on the piece, passed a newstand one morning and saw on the cover of Policy Review, the magazine of the right wing Heritage Foundation, two articles by Duesberg and Bryan Ellison, his graduate student co-author at the time, on the topic.

These two Policy Review articles and the correspondence they elicited have remained ever since the most intelligent public debate ever conducted on the theory of HIV as the cause of AIDS to this day, with the later debate in Reason a close second.

Why Harpers was shy of joining in such a debate in the wake of Policy Review was never explained, but one can speculate that the editor either felt scooped or was unwilling to lie in the same bed as those at the other end of the political spectrum, even on a non-partisan scientific issue. Or it could have been simply that the writer wasn’t able to peg it on on-the-record scientific mischief, as Celia Farber is able to do this time around.

Now, after fifteen years, Harpers has been finally moved to put its reputation on the line with a new and more powerful cannonade fired by writer and critic Farber, who has been an indefatigable chronicler of the scientific and medical war over HIV?AIDS from its beginning in 1987, when she interviewed Peter Duesberg for SPIN magazine.

We are glad she has finally been rewarded for her courage and perseverance in the face of so many years of social and journalistic punishment. For the path that an HIV?AIDS critic has to follow is not a happy one. There are probably more anti-free-speech religious zealots at large in this field than in a Muslim anti-cartoon rally, and few editors even among science publications with the strength of mind and purpose willing to flout them or the scientific establishment in HIV?AIDS.

Farber’s achievement here rests on a number of factors, it seems to us. First, she writes in a exceptionally honest fashion, which tends to win over the reader from the beginning with its lack of ego. With a deep moral sensitivity and empathy for the victims of injustice and neglect at the hands of officious arrogance, Farber couches her stories in human terms that every reader can relate to.

Probably this talent is inherited from her father, the longtime radio chat pioneer and now grand old man of broadcasting Barry Farber, who speaks 26 languages and is the subject of a new Swedish documentary.


“Possibly the only liberal monthly whose editors are sufficiently worldly and independent to host such non-pc material in this area.”


Beware the public relations functionary who makes a revealing remark within earshot of his daughter. The current piece has a classic specimen towards the end, a foolish remark Celia heard that all by itself sums up and embodies the burden of conformist prejudice and pr antagonism which weighs down free public discussion of the questionable science of HIV?AIDS.

I noticed a very angry-looking NIH publicist standing at the back of the room admonishing a colleague, a scientist. who’d posed a question that somehow connected (cancer) to HIV. “You opened it up,” she scolded. “We got through it OK and you opened it up.” As the questioner tried to defend himself, a thickset man who’d been standing in the circle said loudly, as though intending to broadcast it across the room: “Well at least if he’s wrong about this he won’t be be killing millions of people.”

But her success in gaining the imprimatur of Harpers also reflects the responsive character and nature of one of the country’s more enlightened publications, possibly the only liberal monthly whose editors are sufficiently worldly and independent to host such non-pc material in this area.

Given that most of the press and the public has been successfully bamboozled by the HIV?AIDS scientific establishment and their activist (and often drug company financed, Farber notes) supporters, so that the science of HIV?AIDS is beyond criticism, many will wonder how this came about. How did one of the most reputable magazines in the States come to commit what may be a decisive political act, one which breaks the liberal silence on HIV?AIDS and its suspect science?

Perhaps because it isn’t essentially a political act at all. For example, asked about this, Farber, by nature an observer rather than an activist, typically bridles at the characterisation of the editorial action as political. “I think you are committing the same error as the orthodox media and science establishment”, she responds. “There is no mystery. It’s journalism. Simply put, Harpers is run by very intelligent, conscious people who read. And who know the difference, as (Yale mathematician and accuracy scourge) Serge Lang famously phrased it, between a fact and a hole in the ground. This is pure reportage. It is not interrupted, as it has been so many times, by social anxiety. For that I thank them.”

Anxious to repudiate the idea that she is anything less than an objective writer, she recalls being interviewed by Malcolm Gladwell sixteen years ago, for a piece he never wrote, examining the psychology of so-called AIDS dissidents. “I said to him, we could talk about my childhood if you like, and your head might spin, but it would contain no revelations about why I see what I see. I see what I see. Because it’s there. You’re looking through the wrong end of the lens. Look at the story. Eye on the ball.”

Fair enough. That’s probably why Harpers likes her. At 156 years old and financially above the fray (it is supported largely by a private foundation) Harpers is essentially a generally skeptical rather than politically partisan magazine, given to politely but mercilessly deconstructing cultural attitudes and exposing the unwitting foolishness they often give rise to.

That power and money now drive great swathes of scientific research and may have led to the Enron of science in the case of HIV?AIDS is not something which Harpers was likely to overlook once they found the right writer, and it seems that destiny brought them Farber, whose feeling for the tragedy of human weakness on display throughout HIV?AIDS is a match for the Harpers predilection for pointing out the human flaws of the culture.

With a young editor, Roger Hodge, now taking the reins from Lapham after this issue, the magazine’s deep rooted realism about human nature seems likely to be applied to other scientific topics in future. For Hodge, who edited the Farber piece, is a philosophy scholar who hails from a ranching family in West Texas, and he is evidently not fazed as so many liberal editors and columnists are by scientific material.

In fact, there is more science in this new March issue, which follows Farber’s piece with “Viral Marketing”, a two page deconstruction of the Bird Flu medication panic by Peter Doshi, a young Harvard postgraduate who is also studying the inconsistencies of HIV?AIDS, and then a lengthy piece on the history of flash mobs adorned with several graphs. The few science-as-culture critics in the nation have a new space, it seems.

Reported and edited over nearly two years, “Out of Control” is polished to a careful brilliance and seems factually unassailable when measured against what we know of the deplorable situation in HIV?AIDS science.


“It is a real contribution to sanity that a clear call for reexamination of HIV?AIDS has been made by a respected journal on the basis of a thorough report.”


Clearly Farber with her years of practiced investigative reporting on this topic is on firm ground with her revelations of malpractice at the NIH, given that her main source from public records was a key figure in the scandal, the whistleblower Jonathan Fishbein, who was initially fired by DAIDS for discovering the very flaws in research studies he was explicitly hired to uncover.

Not really a whistleblower, but merely a man who tried to do on the inside the job he was hired to do, Fishbein has now been reinstated with full pay, and it looks as if the investigation into the extent of the coverup of bad research will continue.

The impact of the story

But what will be the impact of this story, the first serious exposure in a politically influential journal of the corruption in the state of HIV?AIDS, and the arguably false science upon which it is based? Given the psychological politics of this twisted scientific issue, it is a real contribution to sanity that a clear call for reexamination of HIV?AIDS has been made by a respected journal on the basis of a thorough report. While the editors take no sides the very publication of the piece is an powerful endorsement of its content as factually accurate (Harpers fact checks its authors assiduously, unlike the New York Times) and worthy of serious consideration.

One immediate blessing is that its factual credibility should spike the gunbarrels of the shoot-from-the-hip armchair gunslingers who interfere with honest discussion on the Web with their trolling and reflexive defense of the status quo in HIV?AIDS, and who torment the very few skeptical bloggers such as Dean Esmay (at http://www.deanesmay.com) who have tried to open up the debate.

Esmay was the first and still the only blogger to provoke serious discussion of the HIV issue in the blogosphere more than a year ago, and his files contain lengthy discussions which are worthwhile further reading (see the Category “Questioning the HIV/AIDS Establishment” on his site). As a result Esmay became personally convinced Duesberg’s critique is sound, and that HIV probably does not cause AIDS, but he tired of the way the dispute affected his reputation and popularity, and moved away from the topic.

Will Harpers’s more restrained editorial view, which merely asks for renewed and open debate, succeed in that goal in the corridors of power in government, science and the media?

There are several reasons we think so, though it is all too easy to be naive in the field of fantasy that is politics. In the first place, Harpers has a good deal of influence in liberal Democratic circles, and is widely respected across the political spectrum, partly because of its style is more literary and its critiques more cultural than politically partisan.

In this case, however, the glaring headline “Impeach Him” may put off as many readers as it attracts and provoke many to dismiss the adjoining story in the issue, as tainted with the same partisan brush, though of course neither is partisan. On the other hand, some suggest it will get plenty of brief exposure on the desks of the White House, and rest longer on those of the New York Times editors and other media people of influence, who have been so long been the docile puppets of the NIH and AIDS activists in the HIV?AIDS matter.

In the second place, the piece after two years of writing, editing and fact checking – and two decades of experience on the part of the writer – is armor plated against factual criticism, with few chinks visible, and surely impossible for the public relations flacks at the NIH or any other institution, such as the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, to turn aside with their usual casual disparagement and hints of discredited science and danger to the public health.

(Following an AP story on Hafford’s death) so-called community AIDS activists were sprung like cuckoo birds from grandfather clocks at the appointed hour to affirm the unwavering AIDS catechism: AIDS drugs save lives. To suggest otherwise is to endanger millions of African babies. Front and center were organizations like the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which extolled the importance of nevirapine. Elizabeth Glaser’s nevirapine defenders apparently didn’t encounter a single media professional who knew, or cared, that the organization had received $1 million from nevirapine’s maker, Boehringer Ingelheim, in 2000. This was no scandal, but part of a landscape. Pharmaceutical companies fund AIDS organisations, which in turn are quoted uncritically in the media about how many lives their drugs save. This time the AIDS organizations were joined by none other than the White House, which was in the midst of promoting a major program to make nevirapine available across Africa.

It is hard to see how much of an explicit defense can be mounted against such revelations, which are supported by footnotes added throughout. We expect a significant silence on the part of such targets as the Glaser Foundation, which asked for an early copy of the issue last week. In fact, we predict that ignoring and poo-pooing Harpers will be the theme of the week in Washington at NIAID, just as it has been for twenty years the successful strategy in the paradigm debate. But this time, we predict, it won’t work very long.

Why it cannot be easily dismissed

For most importantly, the piece doesn’t hinge on the rightness or wrongness of that vexed paradigm, the HIV?AIDS theory of causation, even though its scientific impeccable critic Duesberg is given a full run for his money in the final section of the piece. So its complaints cannot be dismissed as those of inexpert journalists contradicting science they do not fully understand.

Instead, the piece’s moral and political outrage centers on the abominable abortion of scientific process and the lethal flouting of scientific standards that Farber has reported so clearly in the most important of the four hundred of so trials that the DAIDS has conducted over the past few years. The scandal of nevirapine which includes the misreporting and even reversal of the results of a trial in Uganda that indicated that the drug was too dangerous to use is something which will continue to be investigated, it seems clear, especially after this piece is widely read.

So all in all, we expect that the publication of this piece may be a watershed in the politics of HIV?AIDS science, which may at long last turn the tide towards reexamination of the science of HIV?AIDS from the outside. Probably editors in the press and producers in television will now be emboldened to consider alternative points of view in covering HIV?AIDS instead of merely parroting the party line as dictated by Anthony Fauci and his pr force.

It even seems possible that the continuing investigation by the Inspector General’s office of and awareness of the rot at DIAIDS may well result in a committee hearing of some kind, which will if it comes about provide the incentive and the opportunity for questioning scientists about the validity of the paradigm, and why it has had to be so strenuously protected as politically sacrosanct and scientifically unquestionable if it is in fact so clearly true.

Since such enquiry will no doubt call upon testimony by Peter Duesberg, we see every chance that a reassessment will be demanded of the theory at the heart of HIV?AIDS to see whether public funds are being spent on the right basis.

If this is the case, we forsee early retirement and perhaps eventually an orange jumpsuit for Anthony Fauci and his key underlings at the NIAID who have perpetrated what looks like scientific fraud in the administration and reporting of nevirapine trials, and renewed hope of placing HIV?AIDS medical thinking on a firmer scientific foundation than the current ideology, which has been so long refuted by the most tested scientific literature in the field, the intensely refereed (and thus validated) critical reviews of Peter Duesberg.

And lastly, a final reason for expecting “Out of Control” to begin a slow turning of the mammoth drug company cruise liner HIV?AIDS onto a new course. As we have noted, Farber’s contribution is by no means over with this seminal piece. For as noted on the first page of “Out of Control”, she is writing a book on her years of AIDS reporting for Melville House, a small but distinguished publisher in New York City.

Harpers astonishes the world with the extent of AIDS skulduggery

February 19th, 2006

Anthony Fauci may spill his coffee when he read “Out of Control”, everyman’s guide to the HIV?AIDS scam

Duesberg gets his due as the whistleblower of the Enron of science

The red and white cover flap of the new Harpers that will appears on news stands Tuesday (and is already in some mailboxes) will surprise many with one of its headlined stories, and we are not referring to the most obvious bombshell.

The immediate attention getter will be the white headline that shouts IMPEACH HIM in giant capitals, a demand which is Lewis Lapham’s climactic swansong as editor. The urbane long time editor and social critic is leaving the helm of the influential journal this month, and his cover essay, “The Case For Impeachment: Why We Can No Longer Afford George Bush” is a nine page indictment of our friendly President as a outlaw and a “thief who steals the country’s good name and reputation for his private interest and personal use”:

The Conyers report doesn’t return to the President’s focus on Iraq until March 2002, when it finds him peering into the office of Condoleeza Rice, the national security advisor, to say, “Fuck Saddam, we’re taking him out.”…

Footnote 13: As of January 17, 2006, the rap sheet listed 2,229 American military dead in Iraq together with an unknown number of Iraqi civilians; what looks to be the sum of $1 trillion, by some estimates $2 trillion, already committed to The Project for the American Century’s real estate development in the Mesopotamian desert.

This manifesto (which we haven’t had time to read properly yet) will be followed by a public forum titled more politely “Is There a Case for Impeachment?” at Town Hall on March 2, featuring Lapham, Rep. John Conyers, Michael Ratner, and Elizabeth Holtzman, with Sam Seder as moderator.

What this loud Parthian shot into the White House from Lapham should only initially upstage in reader’s minds, however, is a much more unexpected indictment of skulduggery in Washington listed second on the ad flap and the cover: “The AIDS Machine: Celia Farber on HIV Drugs and the Corruption of Science”.

The article, which otherwise has the title “Out of Control: AIDS and the Corruption of Medical Science” on the actual white cover and inside the magazine, takes up 15 center pages without a break.

As a literary work, “Out of Control” can be crudely but fairly described as an armor penetrating, morally fueled missile aimed at the heart of the HIV?AIDS medical-scientific-pharmaceutical complex, the corrupt administrative headquarters of the many hundreds of ongoing, illfounded and lethal (to some participants) HIV?AIDS drug trials at NIAID.

It will grip the ordinary reader with its beginning. The article starts off with the chilling story of the obviously needless death of Joyce Ann Hafford, a pregnant single mother, from nevirapine, the toxic drug which supposedly stops HIV transferring to a newborn. The trial did not even have a placebo group, because it was simply intended to compare the known unpleasant if not deadly impact of nevirapine with the equally nasty medication AZT. This black 33 year old, otherwise in perfect health, whose AIDS diagnosis was based one questionable HIV antibody test, soon suffered monstrous symptoms, but was not taken off the drug until just before she gave birth and then died.

“Her health started to deteriorate from the moment she went on the drugs,” said (her older sister) King….She said to me, ‘Nell’_that’s what she called me-‘I have to get through this. I can’t let my baby get that virus.'”…By this time all she could keep down was cans of Ensure. Her blood was drawn for lab tests, but she was not taken off the study drugs… She was admitted to the hospial’s ICU with “acute and sub-acute necrosis of the liver, secondary to drug toxicity, acute renal failure, anemia, septicemia, premature separation of the placenta”, and threatened “premature labor.” She was finally taken off the drugs but was already losing consciousness…. Hafford’s last words were a request to be put on a breathing tube.

Following this story to make strong men weep, the relentless Farber demolishes the credibility of all nevirapine work at NIAID and calls into question the ethics and the scientific control of the entire DAIDS operation.

One can imagine NIAIDS director Anthony Fauci having difficulty breathing as he reads this work. Long and judiciously phrased, the finely polished piece seems irrefutable as it exposes the horrors of HIV?AIDS drug trials at NIAID as little more than knowing medical murder in one case, and then shows how the vicious corruption and antiscience they embody has been enabled and protected by the religious doctrine of HIV=AIDS, a paradigm which has been thrown like a protective mantle over everything that vast federal funds have been spent on in this area.

That the fabric of this theoretical mantle is threadbare to the point of disintegration is convincingly suggested by a final section describing the ideas and activities of Peter Duesberg, fairly presented as the one scientist with the intellect, the expertise, the public spirit and the sense of scientific honor to review the HIV claim objectively when it was first made, and when he found that it was worthless, to stick to his guns through twenty years of funding strangulation and professional ostracism.

The section on Duesberg completes the piece in a way which should leave very little doubt in the reader’s mind that he is right, and that the calumny heaped upon his reputation and the refusal to listen to his critique is political, sociological, and emotional in nature, and without scientific merit. The clincher in the final paragraphs is a brief account of how the promising results of his research into the source of cancer have won him renewed respect and attention from his peers at the NIH and other leading institutes, whose public relations people are now striving in the service of NIAIDS director Fauci to prevent this spilling over into a second look at Duesberg’s sustained HIV?AIDS critique.

Farber’s contribution is by no means over with this seminal piece. For as noted on the first page of “Out of Control”, she is writing a book on her years of AIDS reporting for Melville House, a young but already distinguished publisher in New York City.

The title is “Serious Adverse Events”, the euphemism used in the NIAID drug trials for death. As this reminds us, the consequences of maintaining a false paradigm in HIV?AIDS over two decades, which is what all the signs point to, have been deadly for thousands of individuals.

World’s greatest academic whistleblower to be remembered at Yale

February 16th, 2006

Lang Memorial tomorrow, Friday February 17

The memorial day for Serge Lang is upon us. Friends, colleagues and perhaps one or two of those he harassed, politely but firmly, for misinforming students and the public, will be attending the event tomorrow in Yale’s Linsly-Chittenden Hall, Room 102. The proceedings will start with an open stage for everyone who wishes to recall the lively virtues of this extraordinary man and mathematician, who was unique in the entire world in the style and execution of his life of truthseeking, academic and political.

After lunch four of the top mathematicians who have collaborated with Lang in his distinguished career in math will be appreciating his contributions in that field, which included not only a slew of current textbooks but some seminal contributions in his field. Here is the Yale Daily News obituary of Lang (there is no proper biography on the web pages of the Mathematics Department any longer, if there ever was, which is a point to be checked tomorrow) which sketches Lang’s math achievements for those that are familiar with that esoteric universe.

Lang’s career research focused on algebra — for which he won the prestigious Frank Nelson Cole Prize — as well as algebraic geometry, number theory, and analysis. Jones said that he often stayed at his office late into the evening, and did not stop theorizing even when he got home. For years at a time, Jones said, Lang would call him each night to pose mathematical problems without pausing to identify himself or say hello.

Many of their discussions centered around the “heat kernel,” a mathematical concept that Lang believed could be used to approach research and instruction across a variety of mathematical branches. As with “The File,” he made publicizing the heat kernel his personal mission.

Despite Lang’s prolific research, teaching undergraduates was his principal passion. Geankoplos met Lang as a freshman at Yale in 1971, when Lang was touring the dining halls of various universities to evaluate their job offers.

“He decided that the best way to find out what the school was like was to sit down and have meals with the undergraduates,” Geanakoplos said. “He was tremendously engaged in what his students were doing and thinking.”

Published Friday, September 16, 2005

Math professor Serge Lang dies at age 78

Lang is remembered for significant academic contributions, dispute of link between HIV and AIDS


Staff Reporter

Serge Lang, a noted mathematics professor emeritus and the most prolific modern writer in his field, died Monday at the age of 78.

Yale President Richard Levin said he did not know the circumstances of Lang’s death, but a colleague said he had been suffering from health problems. Lang, a member of the National Academy of Sciences who retired from Yale last year, was known for his activism in mathematical education and his controversial disputation of the link between HIV and AIDS.

“He was a forceful advocate for causes he believed in,” Levin said. “Sometimes he regarded himself as the conscience of the University.”

Mathematics professor Peter Jones said the volume of Lang’s work is believed to have surpassed that of 18th century mathematician Leonhard Euler, who held the record for total number of words written. Lang’s work includes hundreds of articles, books and textbooks, as well as “The File,” an anthology of academic inconsistencies that he distributed to friends and colleagues.

Economics professor John Geanakoplos, Lang’s longtime acquaintance and colleague, said “The File” was only part of his lifelong crusade against inaccuracy.

“There were famous people and causes that he found intellectually unscrupulous, and he wouldn’t rest until he got to the bottom of things,” Geanakoplos said.

In perhaps his most controversial claim, Lang argued that a causal link between HIV and AIDS has not been definitively established. Lang frequently handed out pamplets on campus at talks dealing with AIDS.

But Lang had more success in his campaign against Samuel Huntington, a Harvard political scientist nominated to the National Academy of Sciences. In an unorthodox campaign, Lang defeated Huntington’s nomination on the grounds that he used spurious mathematical reasoning.

Lang even went so far as to administer a “Huntington Test” to dozens of his students each year, said Avidit Acharya ’06, his friend and mentee. Lang had the students comment on passages from Huntington’s work to determine, as he would put it, whether they could “tell a fact from a hole in the ground,” Acharya said.

Lang’s demanding personality extended into the classroom, said Timothy Brandt ’06, a former student. Though Lang befriended his students, sometimes taking his class out to dinner at Yorkside Pizza and Restaurant, he did not withhold his criticism from them.

“He wasn’t afraid to tell you that you didn’t know what you were talking about, that you were full of it,” Brandt said.

Lang’s career research focused on algebra — for which he won the prestigious Frank Nelson Cole Prize — as well as algebraic geometry, number theory, and analysis. Jones said that he often stayed at his office late into the evening, and did not stop theorizing even when he got home. For years at a time, Jones said, Lang would call him each night to pose mathematical problems without pausing to identify himself or say hello.

Many of their discussions centered around the “heat kernel,” a mathematical concept that Lang believed could be used to approach research and instruction across a variety of mathematical branches. As with “The File,” he made publicizing the heat kernel his personal mission.

Despite Lang’s prolific research, teaching undergraduates was his principal passion. Geankoplos met Lang as a freshman at Yale in 1971, when Lang was touring the dining halls of various universities to evaluate their job offers.

“He decided that the best way to find out what the school was like was to sit down and have meals with the undergraduates,” Geanakoplos said. “He was tremendously engaged in what his students were doing and thinking.”

Here is the schedule for the day which lists the four mathematician speakers:

Schedule for Friday, February 17th, 2006

All talks will be in Room 102 in Linsly-Chittenden Hall at 61 High Street

9:00-11:30 Open discussion on the life and works of Serge Lang

11:30-1:30 Lunch at local restaurants or Yale Dining Halls (The Fellows Dining Hall in Silliman College, 5050 College St. has been reserved for group seating)

1:30-2:10 John Tate, University of Texas at Austin

2:20-3:00 Ken Ribet, University of California Berkeley

3:00-3:30 Coffee Break

3:30-3:40 John Geanakopolos, Economics Department, Yale University

3:50-4:30 Jay Jorgenson, City College, New York

As we wrote in two earlier obituary posts at the time of his death, we know a whole lot more about his extracurricular activity hounding the fat cats and bigtime networking careerists of the academic and scientific world for talking nonsense and not admitting it when Lang called them on it and tried to correct the record. His performance in this arena was matchless, and unfortunately little publicised.

His book Challenges, a collection of the so-called Files of correspondence and comment he built up in his behind the scenes letter writing, is the enduring classic of the field of academic and professional whistleblowing, of which he was the finest and most important practitioner.

He was especially important in HIV?AIDS, where he mercilessly deconstructed the scientific and statistical drivel being asserted by the leaders of the field. Over the last ten years he became the most important academic partner of Peter Duesberg in this respect, since the few academics who supported Duesberg in public did not match Lang in their practical support. In this respect in particular he is sorely missed.

One of his finest performances in objecting to HIV?AIDS – a classic in the field – was THE CASE OF HIV:WE HAVE BEEN MISLED in Yale Scientific for Spring 1999, pp. 9-19.

Sometimes when I have given a talk on HIV, questioning the orthodoxy, members of the bio-medical establishment have not come to my talk and have refused to answer scientific questions, giving to colleagues the reason that what I do “is dangerous”. But I regard as dangerous to censor or suppress information, and to allow a situation to develop when people appear unable to distinguish between facts and an orthodox view. The orthodox view is accepted uncritically by people at large as a result of mass conditioning by the media’s uncritical acceptance of the scientific orthodoxy, and the refusal to publish information which goes counter to the orthodoxy.

Everyone should read through it who wishes to get a clear idea of what has been happening in the (non)science in HIV?AIDS for two decades.

Yale Scientific Spring 1999, pp. 9-19



By Serge Lang

23 February 1999

I am usually a mathematician, but for many years, I have been interested in the area where the academic and scientific worlds meet the world of journalism and politics. I have thus documented extensively certain defective practices over 20 years. I published some of my documentation in my book Challenges (Springer Verlag, 1998).

One thing leading to another, over the last six years I have made up a file on an extraordinary situation concerning the virus called HIV. I have drawers full of documents. The Yale Scientific published two articles by me on HIV, in Fall 1994 and Winter 1995. The first article was entitled “HIV and AIDS: Have We Been Misled?” Both articles are reproduced updated in Challenges. The present article is therefore a follow up. To summarize:

– The hypothesis that HIV is a harmless virus is compatible with all the evidence I have studied.

– Certain purportedly scientific articles on HIV, which I and others have followed up, are subject to severe criticisms, and exhibit serious defects which invalidate them.

– Certain scientific articles admit explicitly that scientists do not know how “HIV causes AIDS”. Although they try to fit data to this axiom, the data don’t fit.

– There is currently ongoing a phenomenon of collective misinformation, promoted by official medical and scientific organizations such as the National Institutes of Health in the United States, of which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is a part most directly concerned with HIV and AIDS. Both the general press (e.g. the New York Times) and the scientific journals such as Nature and Science, propagate misinformation uncritically, and suppress information which goes against the orthodox position that “HIV is the virus that causes AIDS”.

– Questions about the orthodox view have not been properly answered, or even remain unanswered. When persons point to contradictions in publications coming from the orthodoxy, these persons get evasive answers or they do not get answers at all. I am one of those persons, and I have written a number of letters, for instance to the CDC Director, documenting contradictions in CDC publications.

Occasionally, a dissenting voice arises. Just a few years ago on 4 April 1994, The Scientist published an article by Robert Root-Bernstein, associate professor of physiology at Michigan State University, and former MacArthur Fellow. The article started on p. 1, and it was long, headlined by: “Agenda For U.S. AIDS Research Is Due For A Complete Overhaul.” He lists systematically a number of “false assumptions”, and his dissent from the orthodoxy had displayed statements such as:

We have not yet asked all the right questions.

We must consider how many of our notions about AIDS are biased by our preconceptions and are not trustworthy.

Diversity of opinion has never hurt science; dogmatism often has. The [AIDS] task force can foster one or the other — but not both.

The drug hypothesis. The first idea that came to the mind of medical researchers around 1980, when there occurred an increase of certain diseases in certain well-defined risk groups in the western world, is that this increase was due to drugs, of various kinds depending on the risk group. Be it noted here that different risk groups come down with different diseases, and are exposed to different drugs. Various drugs can be involved, ranging from sex-enhancing recreational drugs to HIV-inhibiting drugs such as AZT. The time period and the cumulative effect may also be factors involved in the causation. The situation may be similar to prolonged use or abuse of alcohol causing cirrhosis of the liver, or smoking causing lung cancer. This drug hypothesis was taken up again principally by Professor Peter Duesberg at the University of California at Berkeley. For instance, in a certain subculture of male homosexuals, the use of “poppers” (whose technical name is amyl nitrite) to reinforce sexual pleasure has been suggested as the cause of the increase of AIDS defining diseases such as Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) in this population. A study published in Nature (1993) claimed to show that drugs were not the cause. But after a re-analysis by Duesberg et al of the original data used for this study, it turned out that 100% of the people declared sick with AIDS by the authors of the study had taken drugs systematically, and especially “poppers” (nitrite inhalants). (Complete references are given in Challenges, pp. 642-643.) In England, poppers were declared illegal in 1996, precisely because of their link (correlation) with Kaposi’s sarcoma.

On 23 and 24 May 1994, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse sponsored a meeting on the toxic effects of nitrite inhalants. The meeting was not covered by the press, scientific or otherwise. Harry Haverkos, acting director for clinical research at that Institute, was chairman of the meeting. Because of his views about AIDS, he is a lone figure in U.S. health agencies. He emphasized the role of poppers in gay AIDS and according to an article in the journal Biotechnology (12 August 1994), he “reported an essentially exclusive correlation between nitrite use and gay KS. The hypothesis of Harold Jaffe (Acting Director of the AIDS Division of the CDC) that ‘an unknown infectious agent’ is the cause of KS could not be reconciled with Haverkos’ evidence that there was not a single confirmed case of KS from blood transfusions, which often contain infectious agents.”

Some scientists have proposed some experiments to test whether or not HIV is pathogenic, and also to test the counter hypothesis that drugs, in different forms and different circumstances, are the cause of different diseases defining AIDS according to the CDC. Duesberg is prominent among those who have proposed such experiments, but he cannot get the necessary funding from government agencies or universities in the United States to carry out these experiments. The experiments are partly epidemiological, and partly laboratory experiments on animals. The funding situation is so bad that his lab at Berkeley is now threatened with being closed down within a few months because he cannot get funding. For more details, see a paid advertisement by “Cal Friends of Duesberg” in the California Monthly (UC Alumni Magazine), February 1999. Although the editor was ready to publish an even longer article, he was overruled by higher powers who killed the article in galley proof stage.

Be it noted that Duesberg has also done cancer research which goes against the current orthodoxy. He cannot get funding either for this research in the United States. As a result, he has been spending more time in Germany, where he can get university funding and where he writes joint papers with German scientists.

Communication of information. One basic problem is to communicate a large amount of information to readers who cannot find this information in the standard media, including the scientific magazines and the mainstream press. I have written a detailed account of the situation in one 114 page chapter of Challenges. During this past year, even more evidence against the orthodox view has come to my attention. Although the present article has to recall briefly some items from my previous articles and from that chapter, I emphasize here material which developed too late for inclusion in Challenges, especially in sections §5, §6 and §7 dealing with publications in Nature Medicine, the Scientific American, and a so-called AIDS case in Maine. Hence the HIV chapter in Challenges and the present article are not substitutes for each other but complement each other.

Although I am a mathematician, I do not need to know biology to evaluate critically certain practices, which can be criticized simply from the point of view of ordinary scientific and rhetorical standards. Arthur Gottlieb, M.D., Chairman of the Microbiology/Immunology department at Tulane University, gave to the publishers a statement, reprinted at the end of my chapter, stating in part:

“In this chapter, Prof. Serge Lang has well documented the basis of this controversy [whether HIV is the cause of AIDS] and has provided a sobering picture for the reader of the polity of thinking that has characterized this field. For example, legitimate questions about the effects of HIV and the role of cofactors in the pathogenesis of the immune dysfunction that is the hallmark of AIDS remain unanswered by those who are the proponents of conventional thinking in this field. Models of how HIV and cells of the immune system replicate, which have not yet sustained the rigor of thorough scientific discussion and critique at both the biological and mathematical level, are accepted as if they were laws of nature. Major journals and scientific meetings have often failed to provide a forum for legitimate criticism of these models, and other issues pertaining to HIV. Lang points out that this is an abuse of the process by which science seeks to achieve a complete understanding of a problem…

As well, Lang asks to what extent are readers of scientific journals correctly informed of various points of view and do editors assert unreasonable control over the terms of disclosure in their journals? These are clearly important and disturbing questions. A review of the scenarios which Lang has painted should give the thoughtful reader pause as well as some insight into how doctrinaire thinking can develop and be perpetuated.”

I shall list a few of the problems which confront the HIV pathogenesis hypothesis.

§1. Circular official definition. First, one must realize that the official definition of AIDS in the United States is not scientifically neutral. It is circular. Since 1992, for instance, the CDC has an official list of 29 diseases. Among these, about 60% have to do with immuno deficiency but 40% do not (for instance diseases of cancer type, such as cervical cancer and Kaposi’s sarcoma). A low T-cell count is mentioned explicitly as only one of the 29 diseases. A person is then defined to have AIDS for surveillance reporting purposes if and only if this person has at least one of these diseases, and simultaneously tests HIV positive. With this definition, the correlation between HIV and AIDS is 100% because the definition assumes the correlation. Thus when two people have the same symptoms of sickness, if one is HIV positive the sickness is called AIDS, and if the other is not, then the sickness is given its ordinary name. In this way, the definition obstructs dealing with the question whether the virus HIV is a cause of any disease. Some medical practitioners or scientists follow the CDC definition and some do not. Usually articles on HIV and AIDS do not specify which definition is used. Under such circumstances, statistics purportedly showing that HIV is the cause of certain diseases are worthless, and misleading.

§2. Misleading and nonsensical CDC figures. The CDC December 1996 Surveillance Report provides a typical example of misleading statistics.

(a) A Number of Objections. I wrote to CDC Director David Satcher, listing concretely several of my objections. For example, right on the front page, there is a table headed:

Adults/adolescents living with AIDS, by quarter, January 1988 through

June 1996, adjusted for reporting delays, United States

The graph shows an increase between 1988 and 1996 from about 35,000 to about 220,000. There is a boxed statement, just below the graph:

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a specific group of diseases or conditions which are indicative of severe immunosuppression related to infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

What does “related” mean? Testing HIV positive on some test or other? Caused by HIV? With the use of the word “related”, we see fudging about the role of HIV, as well as another manifestation of the long standing circularity of CDC definitions.

Actually, the above definition, that the diseases or conditions defining AIDS “are indicative of severe immunosuppression”, is inconsistent with the December 1992 definition by the CDC, which defined AIDS to be any one of 29 diseases if and only if the person is also HIV positive. Indeed, one of the defining diseases is a low T-cell count, but about 40% of the 29 diseases defining AIDS in the 1992-1993 CDC list do not involve immunosuppression. For instance, Kaposi’s sarcoma and cervical cancer are not “indicative of severe immunosuppression”, but according to the December 1992 definition, they are among the AIDS defining diseases in the presence of HIV, including cases when there is no immunosuppression. So the definition on the front page of the December 1996 surveillance report is still a new definition, further contributing to the chaotic mess coming out of the CDC.

The wording of the title “living with AIDS” also contributes to the confusion. Does it mean being sick with certain clinical symptoms, or does it mean only being HIV positive? Is there an unstated assumption that such positivity necessarily leads to clinical symptoms of some kind and even death, or what? Is there a justification for such an assumption?

The CDC December 1996 Surveillance Report gives a cumulative figure of “581,429 persons with AIDS reported to CDC” (p. 5, first paragraph). Table 11 p. 17 purportedly reports “AIDS cases…diagnosed through December 1996, United States”. It arrives at such a figure by “cumulative totals”, so depending on three different definitions over 15 years, and depending on the use of “statistical methods” (p. 5, column 1, line -2), but without specifying what these methods were. Thus the figures are manipulated in some undetermined way. So the figure of 581,429 is nonsense, down to the last unit digit.

There are other fundamental problems with this figure. Table 11 purports to give a total number of “AIDS cases” per year 1993 through 1996, broken down into “definition categories”. Under the category “Severe HIV-related immunosuppression”, we find the cumulative total figure 151,131, which is about one-fourth of the 581,429 figure. On p. 36 the CDC explains that the category refers to people who have no symptoms of sickness except a low-T-cell count per se, which is called “AIDS” if and only if it is accompanied by HIV test positivity. The people involved are otherwise healthy.

It emerges further from Table 11’s breakdown that the cumulative numbers given on the front page graph of the CDC Report are very misleading. Indeed, Table 11 shows that if one follows only the 1987 definition, then the number of new “AIDS” cases goes down each year 1993 to 1996 from 28,265 to 8,227. By making up “cumulative” figures as on the front page graph, showing a purported increase from about 35,000 to 220,000, the CDC misrepresents the fact that their own figures using the 1987 definition show a large decline in annual numbers of AIDS cases. The apparent large increase is due to the 1992 change in the definition of “AIDS”, which among other things includes HIV positive people who have no symptoms of disease except a low T-cell count. Such people are called “asymptomatic”. When someone tests HIV positive, this person may not exhibit any symptoms of sickness, but that person’s T-cell count may be measured, and found low, thus giving rise to a diagnosis of “AIDS”. For example, Table 11 claims a total of 36,693 new cases of “AIDS” in 1996, while of these, 22,856 (about 2/3rd) belong to the category of those who show no sign of sickness except low T-cell count and who are HIV positive.

It should be a matter of common sense, let alone scientific standards, to compare T-cell counts in HIV positive and HIV negative people, in other words, to have control groups or what some scientists call “normative data”. The CDC does not provide figures on control groups, any more than some influential purportedly scientific papers, see below. Among the “false assumptions” listed in Root-Bernstein’s article, we find one relevant to HIV and immune suppression:

False Assumptions

…We thought we knew that HIV always precedes immune suppression in people who develop AIDS. But many studies show that lymphocyte counts are as low in some HIV-negative gay men, intravenous drug users, and hemophiliacs as they are in nonsymptomatic HIV-positive people – and sometimes lower.

The first sentence quoted above shows that Root-Bernstein uses the words “develop AIDS” in a sense different from that of the CDC, but left unspecified. The CDC Surveillance Report also introduces the terminology “HIV disease” as in the sentence (p. 5, column 2, line -4):

Through 1996, over 216,000 persons were living with AIDS…However, the cumulative number of persons living with AIDS underrepresents the number of living persons who have been diagnosed with HIV disease because most HIV-infected persons have not yet progressed to AIDS and many persons infected with HIV have not been tested.

There is no explanation of what “HIV disease” means, especially in relation to the 1992 CDC definition. The expression “HIV disease” contains several unstated assumptions, and if these are clarified, the expression may then be incompatible with the official 1992 CDC definition, or the above-mentioned boxed statement. The expression contributes to the general confusion. It also has the insidious effect of inducing people to accept unquestioningly the unstated axiom “HIV causes AIDS”, whatever this means. (See the UCB news release mentioned below in §5.)

(b) Defective reply from the CDC. I received a reply, not from David Satcher but from John W. Ward M.D., Chief of the Surveillance Branch of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. Dr. Ward did not address a single one of the specific criticisms of the Surveillance Report which I had made, nor did he resolve any of the specific problems and incompatibilities which I pointed out. He wrote me only about the boxed statement:

This statement is not, nor was it meant to be construed as, the CDC definition of AIDS. It also is not meant to be a proxy or substitute for the CDC definition of AIDS. Please understand that the “boxed” statement is meant to be a brief comment to serve as a general guide for those readers of the Surveillance Report who are neither prepared nor find it necessary to read the technical notes that accompany the report or follow the technical problems that arise in the models used to derive the report’s estimates.

I then pointed to an official “FACT SHEET”, issued by the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/evidhiv.htm). This so-called “Fact Sheet” contains a paragraph headed “Definition of AIDS”, essentially reproducing the boxed statement, as follows:

Definition of AIDS

The CDC currently defines AIDS in an adult or adolescent age 13 years or older as the presence of one of 25 conditions indicative of severe immunosuppression associated with HIV infection, such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), or HIV infection in an individual with a CD4+ T cell count less than 200/cells per cubic millimeter (mm3) of blood.

So I wrote back to Satcher: “Here is a contradiction. It’s not just my interpretation of the boxed statement. It is the official view of NIH-NIAID. Thus the NIAID “Fact Sheet” does not contain facts. It contains propaganda. It continues to provide evidence that you guys at NIH, CDC, NIAID can’t tell the difference between a fact and a hole in the ground.” I did not get a further reply from CDC officials.

§3. Correlation? Some in the orthodoxy claim that there is a “correlation” between the AIDS-defining diseases and the presence of antibodies to HIV, or possibly HIV itself. Even if one admits that such a correlation exists in some specific studies, independently of the above circular definition, a question arises: is HIV a cause or a coincidence? For example, it is generally admitted that smoking in fairly large doses over a fairly long period of time causes lung cancer. This is plausible. One of the main reasons (if not the only reason) for this hypothesis is a correlation between those who smoke a lot and those who develop cancer. But essentially the same correlation exists between lung cancer and yellow fingers. However, yellow fingers do not cause lung cancer. Thus it is essential to answer the question: is HIV a yellow finger?

As already noted in the introduction, some studies show an even higher correlation of AIDS defining diseases and drug use, for instance Kaposi’s sarcoma and nitrite inhalants (poppers). Cf. Challenges.

§4. Paradoxes and no control groups. Furthermore, aside from a claimed correlation between HIV and AIDS (whichever way AIDS is defined) in certain studies, there is no verification that HIV is pathogenic. Some purportedly scientific papers do assert that “HIV causes AIDS”, but no justification is given for this assertion.

Even worse, the hypothesis that HIV is pathogenic leads to what even some people representing the orthodoxy call “paradoxes”, that is incompatibility with experimental evidence.

So-called scientific articles about HIV and AIDS are written under the automatic assumption that HIV is the cause of certain diseases by killing CD4 T-cells. This hypothesis has been criticized by some medical scientists, even by some of those who uphold the orthodoxy’s axiom that “HIV causes AIDS”.

Some purportedly scientific papers about HIV infection actually do not compare the rate of T4 cells generated in the HIV positive patients with HIV negative controls any more than does the CDC. Among the most famous of such papers are those by David Ho and George Shaw, published in Nature (12 January 1995). The Australian mathematician-statistician Mark Craddock commented as follows on the Ho and Shaw papers in his critical article “HIV: Science by press conference” from the Kluwer collection:

Neither group compared the rate of T4 cells generated in the HIV positive patients with HIV negative controls! Both groups assert that in HIV infected individuals, up to 5% of the circulating T4 cells are replaced every 2 days. This information is hardly new. Peter Duesberg says something similar in a paper in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from 1989. Except he states that 5% of the bodies T cells will be replaced every 2 days, in healthy people.

The lack of control groups is one of the problems with the medical scientific literature, which does not provide appropriate comparisons between different groups (some sick, some not sick, some HIV positive, some HIV negative) to test the claimed correlation between HIV and AIDS.

A letter to the editors. Among others who have objected to the lack of control groups are Bukrinsky, Manogue and Cerami (Picower Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset NY), the authors of a letter to Nature (18 May 1995, p. 195), concerning the Ho and Shaw papers. They stated: “A definitive answer awaits accurate estimates of the turnover and half-life of both proliferating and peripheral CD4+ T cells in healthy individuals, normative data for which the immunological community strangely lacks a robust appraisal.” Ho and Shaw answered the Bukrinsky et al comment quoted above as follows (p. 198): “…we do not understand their logic of comparing our calculated CD4 lymphocyte turnover rates with previous estimates for normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells…” But the logic seems clear to me. I wrote directly to Bukrinsky that in plain English, the fact that turnover of T-cells is the same in Ho & Shaw’s CD lymphocytes as in previous estimates for peripheral blood as in mononuclear cells, constitutes clear evidence that HIV is neither the cause of T-cell destruction, nor of harm to the immune system. The lack of control groups and the lack of “robust appraisal” has caused a systematic bias for the interpretation of the data in favor of HIV pathogenesis. Thus I don’t find the lack of control groups “strange”; I find it highly objectionable. It provides direct evidence for not trusting results which claim to analyze HIV pathogenesis. I asked Bukrinsky to straighten me out if I was mistaken. I did not get a reply from him.

§5. Contradictory models: Ho and Shaw; Pakker et al, Gorochov et al, Roederer; Hellerstein et al. Ho and Shaw (among other authors) engage in the practice of throwing math and statistics at people, pretending to give a mathematical model for HIV infection and its purported effects, namely the destruction of CD4 T-cells. There is developing a substantial history of criticisms of these papers. We have already mentioned some criticisms in the preceding section, concerning control groups. We now list other criticisms which have developed over the last five years.

1994. Root-Bernstein. A year before the Ho and Shaw article in Nature, one of the “false assumptions” listed by Root-Bernstein concerned the killing of T-cells by HIV, and was challenged as follows:

False Assumptions

…An example of something we thought we knew, but did not, is that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the direct cause of T-cell killing in AIDS. Even such formerly stalwart proponents of this notion as Anthony Faucy and Robert Gallo now admit that this is not the case. Virtually all HIV research is now focused on finding indirect mechanisms by which HIV may cause immune suppression.

1995. Letters to the editor in Nature. Already on 18 May 1995, Nature published six pages of letters to the editor. Many of these letters represented various forms of criticisms of the Ho and Shaw articles, such as the one by Bukrinsky mentioned above. As another example, the medical scientists Ascher et al had a letter (p. 196), stating that “those who would see AIDS as a more-or-less conventional viral infection have consistently refused to recognize the paradoxes that are clearly evident in the experimental data. The problem continues.” They mention a specific “paradox”, that “there are more bodies than bullets [HIV]”.

1996. Mark Craddock in his Kluwer collection article wrote: “The logic [of Ho and Shaw] here is remarkable. It is claimed that HIV sends the immune system into overdrive as measured by a supposedly accelerated production of T4 cells…But where are the healthy controls? How can this production of T cells be ascribed to HIV if there is no comparison made with healthy people? And even if there were a comparison, how can the production be unambiguously attributed to the ‘battle’ with HIV? The patients in both study groups were being treated with new drugs such as Nevarapine (we are naturally told nothing of possible toxic side effects of these drugs) whose effects are largely unknown. So how can these results be extrapolated to HIV positive people who are not taking these drugs? It must surely be admitted that the system they are trying to study, namely the interaction of HIV with T4 cells, might behave substantially differently in people who are not being pumped full of new drugs, in addition to ‘antiretrovirals’ like Zidovudine [AZT]? Yet HIV ‘science’ has declined so far that these elementary questions are addressed neither by the research groups themselves, nor the referees at Nature whose job it is to critique the papers before publication.”

1997. Arthur Gottlieb wrote to me on 16 May 1997: “I might say that I have been skeptical of the validity of the Ho/Shaw model for several reasons, but principally because it is based on observations in subjects who were therapeutically perturbed by use of a protease inhibitor…I think there is more than a matter of scientific debate here…The Ho/Shaw model is now a widely accepted paradigm for HIV pathogenesis. Moreover, it is being used as a basis for therapeutic guidelines in respect of HIV (“treat early and hard”). That, I think is of concern, if indeed there are serious questions about the validity of the model. It would be good to have your views on this.”

My view is that the model is not rooted in experimental evidence, it is incompatible with experimental evidence in certain respects, and it does not take into account the possibly toxic effects of drugs in general and prescription drugs in particular. Cf. the previous items.

1998. Pakker et al., Gorochov et al., Mario Roederer. In any case more fundamental criticisms have arisen, some even coming from members of the orthodoxy. In February 1998, Nature Medicine published two technical articles and one commentary by Mario Roederer, a professor at the Stanford Medical School, who wrote (p. 145):

In this issue of Nature Medicine, reports by Pakker et al and Gorochov et al provide the final nails in the coffin for models of T cell dynamics in which a major reason for changes in T cell numbers is the death of HIV-infected cells.

On the other hand, Roederer (like other critics of the Ho et al article) accepted uncritically the axiom that HIV destroys the immune system, but he provided no justification for this axiom. At the same time he recognized that he and other medical scientists do not know how HIV destroys the immune system, when he concluded:

Finally, the facts (1) that HIV uses CD4 as its primary receptor, and (2) that CD4+ T cell numbers decline during AIDS, are only an unfortunate coincidence that have led us astray from understanding the immunopathogenesis of this disease. HIV leads to the progressive destruction of all T cell subsets, irrespective of CD4 expression. Ultimately, AIDS is a disease of perturbed homeostasis. Only when we understand how the body regulates T cell numbers will we be able to find the mechanism(s) by which HIV destroys the immune system.

Roederer’s assertion “HIV leads to the progressive destruction of all T cell subsets” was and remains unsupported. What does “lead” mean, and what is the evidence for the assertion if “leads” means “causes in some fashion”? No evidence is given in the Roederer article.

1999. Hellerstein et al. Bay Area medical centers findings inconsistent with the Ho and Shaw articles. A year later, Nature Medicine (January 1999) published further criticisms of the David Ho article, partly reinforcing Roederer’s “nail in the coffin”, and partly going in other directions. These criticisms came from researchers Hellerstein et al at San Francisco General Hospital, UCSF and UC Berkeley.

(a) Accelerated production or destruction of CD4+ T cells? The Ho and Shaw articles in Nature had claimed an original increase of T-cell production following HIV infection, in conjunction with high replication of the HIV virus. The Ho et al article concluded: “Taken together, our findings strongly support the view that AIDS is primarily a consequence of continuous, high-level replication of HIV-1, leading to virus- and immune-mediated killing of CD4 lymphocytes.” On the other hand, Hellerstein et al write in opposition to these claims:

p. 87. The CD4 lymphopenia of HIV-infection was associated with reduced survival (shorter half-life) of CD4+ T cells in the circulation combined with an inability to increase production of CD4 cells in compensation. Although we cannot identify the reason for the failure to increase CD4+ T-cell production…our results are inconsistent with a highly accelerated destruction of circulating CD4+ T cells that overcomes a higher than normal total production rate…

Of course, it becomes important to determine the reasons for the discrepancy between the Ho-Shaw articles and the Hellerstein article. Do they have to do with differences in the people in their samples? With samples which are not statistically significant? With different techniques? With unrecognized artifacts? Ad lib.

In any case, like Roederer, the authors of the new study in Nature Medicine accept HIV pathogenesis as an unquestioned axiom. They interpret the data in this context. But the data do not provide evidence for the axiom. The findings do NOT show that a shorter half-life and inability to increase production of CD4+ cells is due to HIV (according to Hellerstein et al.).

(b) HIV causality? HAART? Clinical measurements were done on a rather small sample of 21 people, classified into three groups: nine “healthy” HIV negative subjects (six men and three women) who were not taking any medications; seven HIV positive subjects (six men and one woman) with a low CD4 level; and five HIV positive men who had received HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy) for 12 weeks. All in the group were called “patients” in a UC press release and subsequent newspaper article (see below). Which ones of the latter two categories were actually patients in the ordinary sense of the word (sick in bed, in bad shape)? How was the sample of non-“healthy” (sick?) subjects (patients?) selected? Was it according to the circular CDC definition, so they are all automatically HIV positive, thereby biasing the statistics? How do the researchers know that HIV and not some other agent such as poppers caused “reduced survival (a shorter half-life)” of CD4+ T-cells? Was a low T-cell count the only sign of non-healthyness (sickness?) or were there other signs? In which sample category (“patients”)? How many of the “healthy” resp. non-healthy or sick-in-bed people in the sample had taken poppers (resp. other drugs) and in what quantity over what period of time? Was there even a single “patient” (sick-in-bed, other?) who was not exposed to poppers (resp. some other drug)? None of these questions are addressed. The apparently gratuitous assumption that HIV is the cause (and only cause) of non-healthyness (sickness?) in the people forming the sample biases the data and prejudices the way conclusions are formulated.

Similar criticisms have been applied before to a 1993 study based on a sample from the San Francisco Men’s Health Club. My first Yale Scientific article (Fall 1994) dealt with this matter. Cf. my book Challenges, the chapter on HIV and AIDS, pp. 642-648. There I give complete references to the original study in Nature, and to the criticisms by Ellison, Downey and Duesberg, first published in Genetica (1995) and reproduced in the Kluwer collection. They found that 100% of the sick men in the sample had used nitrites, while 83% were HIV positive.

The “uninfected control group” of Hellerstein et al was a group of people called “healthy”. To answer the question whether it is HIV or other factors such as poppers (nitrite inhalants) or other drugs which cause certain diseases in certain risk groups, an “uninfected control group” of healthy people is much less relevant than a control group consisting of HIV-negative people who are sick with the same symptoms as HIV-positive people called “AIDS patients” (see below). Actually, one has to take into account all possible combinations of HIV positive, HIV negative, poppers taking, poppers non-taking (as well as other drugs).

One also has to take into account the role of prescription drugs. Are HIV negative but sick people with the same symptoms also treated with AZT and protease inhibitors? What is the effect on T-cells of AZT, or protease inhibitors, or whatever purportedly anti-HIV prescription was administered to the AIDS patients?

(c) Effect of anti-retroviral drugs. The data given in the Hellerstein et al article show that T-cell turnover increases in the group exposed to anti-retroviral drugs. Hellerstein et al’s data concern in part the effect of HAART. At least three assertions in the Hellerstein et al paper not only go against previous interpretations of data as in the Ho and Shaw articles, but support the hypothesis that HAART is toxic and harms the immune system:

p. 84. The total (CD4+ and CD8+) T cell production rate was significantly higher in the subjects of HAART… than in the untreated HIV-1 seropositive group…or in the HIV-1 seronegative group…The main kinetic difference in the HAART group was therefore higher production rates of circulating T-cells and shorter (not longer) half-lives…

p. 85. This analysis confirms that the rate of removal of CD4+ T cells is indeed elevated and the half-life is indeed shortened in the HAART group…

p. 86. The results are not consistent with other possibilities, including prolonged survival of circulating T cells due to cessation of HIV-mediated killing (because the half-life of circulating T cells was shorter, not longer, in the HAART Group);…

Thus the data point in the same direction as the Drug-AIDS hypothesis, and are compatible with this hypothesis and with the hypothesis that HIV itself is not a cause of diseases and does not affect T-cell longevity, namely “reduced survival (half life)”. Figures in support of the results are shown in a table p. 86. However, overall this table is subject to many questions as to the meaning of terms used and possible statistical and scientific bias. For instance, the data concern the three groups: “Normal controls”, “HIV+(viremic)”, and “HAART (12 weeks)”. The “normal controls” are “healthy”. The “viremic” is supposed to refer to “viral load”, but no HIV virus is ever directly measured in patients. What is measured is something which is then interpreted as a virus which engages somehow in a deadly battle with the immune system. In any case, the use made of the HIV+(viremic) group in the table as far as one can tell is based on the same circularity as the CDC definition of AIDS, with its assumption of HIV pathogenesis and causality, which prevents an unbiased evaluation whether it is HIV or another factor (e.g. drugs) which cause sickness.

Then one faces contradictory interpretations, such as those of Ho and the Bay Area researchers, but the debate does not extend to questioning HIV pathogenesis.

The Rasnick letter to the editors. David Rasnick, President of The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of HIV/AIDS, submitted for publication a 400-words letter to the editors of Nature Medicine in January 1999. Based on the authors’ analysis (see especially p. 85 cited above), he wrote: “In other words, HAART is accomplishing what HIV is supposed to be doing, i.e. shortening the survival time of T cells…HAART…may represent yet another toxic consequence of combination therapy. If this explanation is correct, it should be easily tested in HIV negative volunteers or animals.”

David Rasnick’s letter was acknowledged, but rejected for publication.

Science by press conference. Some findings of Hellerstein et al were brought to broader public attention in a press release on 4 January 1999, followed by an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. I quote from them to document further the way people at large are conditioned to think about HIV and AIDS. We start with the press release.


University of California at Berkeley

Major clinical findings by California AIDS team: HIV does more than kill off T-cells

By Corinna Kaarlela, UC San Francisco News Office

BERKELEY – A team of California AIDS researchers has found the first direct clinical evidence that HIV does more than kill off T cells in the body’s immune system. The skillful virus also prevents the production of new healthy versions of these vital cells…

The findings are significant in understanding the puzzle of T-cell turnover in the HIV population, an area that has remained controversial among leading AIDS researchers who have proposed different theories to explain why T-cell counts decrease during the course of HIV disease.

…The precise mechanism that HIV uses to derail the different parts of this process have been unclear, but the end result is a collapse of the immune system that makes the body vulnerable to the opportunistic infections that cause full-blown AIDS.

It had been previously thought by many investigators that HIV decreased the T-cell count by causing the destruction of these cells. The new studies indicate that a more important contribution to disease may be the ability to stop T-cell production…

Study participants included both men and women, and all were patients in the General Clinical Research Center at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center…

Major findings include:…

*In untreated HIV-positive patients, CD4 and CD8 cells were being destroyed at a more rapid pace than in HIV negative subjects and the body did not compensate by increasing the rate of production above the normal rate. Accordingly the T-cell count decreased.

*In HIV-positive patients whose virus was suppressed by potent therapy and whose T-cell counts increased, the rate of new cell production increased dramatically. The rise in new cell production was responsible for the increase in T-cell count…

Readers acquainted with facts will appreciate the above tendentious account, starting with the expressions “does more than kill off T-cells” and “skillful virus”. Note especially that the press release made no mention of the possible toxic effect of HAART, and misrepresented measured signs in the HAART group, namely decrease of the half life of T-cells and increase of their turnover rate.

The claims of Hellerstein et al countering those of David Ho (among others) were then reported in the San Francisco Chronicle (5 January 1999), about 1,500 words starting on the front page.

Study Offers New Theory On How HIV Attacks Cells

Findings contradict widely held view


Using a new technique for tracking the life and death of immune cells, Bay Area AIDS researchers have found that HIV causes the deadly disease primarily by blocking the production and shortening the survival time of infection-fighting T cells.

That runs counter to the widely held view among AIDS scientists that HIV strikes mainly by killing T cells, the body’s front-line defenders, as fast as the immune system can produce them…The controversial new findings include the first direct measurements showing how the human immune system becomes locked in a lethal battle with the AIDS virus. The results challenge a core tenet in the scientific dogma of AIDS, a view that has dominated the field ever since a landmark 1995 study co-authored by famed New York AIDS expert David Ho…

They [the authors of the Nature Medicine article] spent more than a year studying immune systems in healthy people and in 21 AIDS patients being treated at San Francisco General Hospital. This produced what the authors described as the first direct clinical measurements of immune system activity both in AIDS patients and an uninfected control group.

Results found no T-cell speed-up-and-collapse pattern in the infected people. What researchers found instead was that, along with reduced cell longevity, the virus caused slower cell production – the opposite of what had been assumed to occur during this critical stage of the disease.

– The Chronicle’s expression “slower cell production” is not accurate. Hellerstein et al write of “reduced survival (shorter half-life)” and “inability to increase production of CD4+ cells in compensation”.

– The findings do not show “how the human immune system becomes locked in a lethal battle with the AIDS virus” nor do they show that the virus caused “slower cell production”.

– There were not “21 AIDS patients”. In the group of 21 people studied by Hellerstein et al, 9 were characterized as “healthy”, so at most 12 could be regarded as “patients” in the ordinary sense of the word.

– The original Nature-Medicine article does not use the terms “AIDS” or “AIDS patients”. The authors write of HIV-positive or negative people, so the journalist goes beyond them in communicating interpretations to the public at large. He is to some extent following the UC press release, which does refer to “patients”.

– The Chronicle, like the UC press release, does not report any of the data showing that HAART may be toxic.

– Like Roederer, Hellerstein et al, and the UC press release, the journalist of the Chronicle accepts unquestioningly the axiom of HIV pathogenesis.

The direct criticisms coming from the Roederer and Hellerstein et al articles and the publicity given to the latter by the San Francisco Chronicle show that it is now sociologically acceptable in some important establishment quarters to dump on David Ho et al’s January 1995 Nature article. To question the HIV pathogenesis hypothesis is another matter, which still entails social, scientific and financial ostracism when coming from someone inside the bio-medical establishment.

§6. Defective journalism. I don’t know of any wide repercussion of the January 1999 Nature-Medicine Hellerstein article in the mainstream press other than in the SF Chronicle. For example, as of the end of January 1999, the New York Times to my knowledge did not report the conclusions of those researchers in the Bay area. Thus newspapers at large skew the information which they communicate to their readers, including the information that different researchers come to different conclusions. Just on this basis, one is entitled to be skeptical about the basic undocumented assumption that HIV is pathogenic. Science (15 January 1999, p. 305) did report the different conclusions, but the article is also subject to most of the other criticisms I have leveled above against the press release and SF Chronicle.

Scientific American. Magazines in between the ordinary mainstream press and the technical journals like Science and Nature have gone along with the orthodoxy, for instance Scientific American which over the last few years has published two long reports on HIV and AIDS. The second in July 1998 was 27 pages long. It is contradicted by the articles which I have cited above, among other items which to list in full would take a book. For instance, the Scientific American July 1998 Report starts p. 81: “Ten years ago…scientists knew that the disease [AIDS]…was caused by HIV.” The Roederer conclusion contradicts this assertion, since Roederer recognizes that we don’t know “the mechanism(s) by which HIV destroys the immune system”, and contributes to the public correction of false notions about the effect of HIV on T-cells (cf. his “nail in the coffin”). Later in the Scientific American Report p. 85 we find: “At the start of an infection, hefty viral replication and the killing of CD4 T cells are made manifest both by high levels of HIV in the blood and by a dramatic drop in CD4 T cell concentrations from the normal level of at least 800 cells per cubic millimeter of blood.” This is contradicted by Root-Bernstein’s evaluation of “false assumptions” (see §2), by Roederer’s conclusions (“nail in the coffin”) based on Pakker-Gorochov, and by the subsequent Hellerstein et al article in Nature Medicine January 1999 reported in the SF Chronicle.

In addition we can also quote further from the 1994 article by Root-Bernstein in The Scientist:

We also thought we knew that HIV alone is sufficient to cause AIDS. But such researchers as Luc Montagnier, Shyh-Ching Lo, Joseph Sonnabend, and many others — including me — now believe that cofactors are necessary and, therefore, that HIV by itself cannot cause AIDS.

Thus if one follows up the scientific and semi-scientific literature, one systematically encounters contradictions.

Be it said in passing that I also have a problem with Root-Bernstein’s use of the expression “now believe”. What is the significance of such an expression? I am not concerned with “beliefs” but with evidence. I would prefer a clear sentence concerning the evaluation of evidence by him and the others he mentions, even though there is an implication that what he and the others believe would not go against empirical evidence. Throwing in “cofactors” is another way to blur distinctions between an assumption, a fact, a hypothesis, a belief, and empirical evidence about which factors cause or do not cause AIDS defining diseases.

The Rasnick letter to the editors. David Rasnick submitted for publication a letter to the editors of Scientific American. He listed some of the false statements in the Scientific American report, and pointed to contradictions with the Pakker-Gorochov-Roederer publication in Nature Medicine. He asked for evidence to support some other statements.

Rasnick also commented on the contribution to the report by John Mellors, who had written that “viral-load measures have therefore replaced assessment of clinical outcome in therapeutic trials…” Thus according to Mellors, medical prescriptions are made on the assumption that whatever sickness exists or may develop is due to a virus. In this way, not only is the definition of AIDS circular, but medical decisions having life and death consequences are based on this circularity. As Rasnick wrote in his letter to the editors: “If Mellors is correct, then whether patients live longer or do better when taking experimental drugs compared to drug-free controls is no longer the basis for determining the efficacy and safety of drugs. This is a frightening prospect.”

A translation into french of the Scientific American report was published in September 1998 by Pour la Science, thus spreading the propaganda over the ocean. At the same time, Pour la Science refused publication of some critical comments which I had communicated to them concerning that report. In particular, they took no account of Rasnick’s letter to the editors.

Rasnick’s letter was neither acknowledged nor published by Scientific American, whose November 1998 issue contained only two printed letters to the editor concerning the July report on HIV/AIDS. These letters were preceded by an editorial commentary at the top of the page:

Readers appreciated the July special report, “Defeating AIDS: What Will it Take?” Dave Toms wrote via e-mail, “Thanks so much for the excellent articles on what’s happening with HIV…And John Casten sent e-mail about taking a copy on a trip to Kathmandu: “I gave it to a friend who works for Family Health International in the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program. He was thrilled to read all the articles with the latest information and passed it around the office.”

Thus the commentary cited two self-serving favorable reactions from readers in addition to those two whose letters were printed. No mention was made of any letters which criticized the report, let alone mention of the Rasnick letter. The last sentence of the editorial commentary is dishonest by omission when it states: “Some readers did have questions, however, about the possibility of developing a vaccine and feasible prevention methods (below).” Not only did some readers have questions about developing a vaccine, but some readers had questions and documentation about the factual (in)accuracy of statements in the Scientific American report, as well as critical comments about using viral load instead of clinical symptoms to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs. Thus Scientific American continues its tendentiously selective journalism, by not informing its readers of:

– published information raising questions about the orthodox view, as in the Pakker-Gorochov articles analyzed by Roederer in Nature Medicine February 1998;

– specific criticisms raised in certain letters to the editor, such as the Rasnick letter.

§7. Efficacy and safety of prescription drugs. The Emerson case in Maine. Medical prescription drugs may also be the cause of diseases attributed to HIV. As already mentioned, the higher T-cell turnover in patients subjected to HAART (see §5(c)) points in the same direction as the drug hypothesis. If a person tests HIV positive, some doctors prescribe AZT, which is a DNA chain terminator. There is some evidence that AZT may then cause that person to become sick and possibly die.

For example, recently in the State of Maine in the USA, a woman Valerie Emerson with four children was HIV positive, as well as her 3 year old daughter and 4 year old son. The other two children did not test positive. The two who were positive were declared to have AIDS and were prescribed AZT. The little girl died, suffering terribly. Her death was attributed to AIDS by the newspapers. The son Nikolas had some health problems since birth (swollen lymph glands, physical development problems). However, some doctors said he had AIDS, and he was given AZT. He then became seriously ill. The mother discontinued the AZT treatment, and the son became well. The pre-AZT problems themselves disappeared. However, officials of the State of Maine then started legal action against the mother to take the child away from her. In September 1998, a judge ruled against the officials. The boy is now running around like any healthy four year old. As the mother wrote to Rasnick: “I was so scared my son’s life was going to be sacrificed for research.” (Her full letter and details of the case are reproduced in Reappraising AIDS, October 1998, p. 5.) The judge wrote in his ruling:

She feels that she has willingly and in good faith surrendered up the life of one child to the best treatment medicine has to offer and does not want to do the same with the next… She has placed her faith in this medical approach in the past and has lost a child. She has discontinued her own treatment with no apparent present ill-effects. She has observed an outward improvement in her sick son’s condition with a discontinuance of drug therapy. The State of Maine is now in no position to tell her in the face of her unique experience that she is wrong in her current judgment to wait for better and more reliable treatment methods… the current body of information available to any mother in her situation is limited or conflicting. The court agrees with Nikolas’s treating family physician that his mother’s decision, while not necessarily the one many parents may make in the same circumstances, does not constitute serious parental neglect.

The judge’s ruling gave rise to an Associated Press item, and to subsequent news articles. The New York Times reported the case on 20 September 1998 somewhat tendentiously. As a result, David Rasnick wrote a letter to the editors, stating:

…I wish to correct a few misleading statements…the author made Nikolas’ suffering from 10 weeks of AZT poisoning appear benign: “…in that time he became fussy, whimpered in his sleep and suffered from continuous stomach aches.” The author failed to mention that during the 10 weeks Nikolas was on AZT he experienced “night terrors” from which he woke screaming…

…his knees grew to twice their normal size when he was on AZT, he even required a blood transfusion because the AZT was destroying his bone marrow. Most importantly within a couple of days (not “two months”) after [his mother] Valerie stopped giving Nikolas the AZT, his health immediately improved…

…the author softened my testimony: “Two scientists, testifying on behalf of Miss Emerson at the daylong trial, said that the recommended treatment of a combination of medications administered as a drug cocktail could cause more harm than good.” What I really said was much stronger: those drugs would kill Nikolas. I also testified that if Nikolas does not take those anti-HIV drugs he has the same likelihood as any other 4 year-old of reaching a ripe old age.

Rasnick’s letter was not published.

§8. Withholding information. Articles outside the mainstream press. The mainstream mass media withhold data and information which may lead people to question the orthodoxy about the pathogenesis of HIV, and to wonder about the effects of prescription drugs such as AZT. They do not report the uncertainties contained in articles such as the Pakker-Gorochov-Roederer articles (with exceptions such as the article by the SF Chronicle mentioned in §5 above on Hellerstein et al.). They do not report, let alone answer, articles published by some medical scientists outside the regular medical or scientific journals, such as those published by a bunch of German and Swiss medical scientists in the dissenting magazine Continuum (from 1996 to 1998, cf. the bibliography). The authors include Alfred Hässig, Professor Emeritus at the University of Bern and former Director of the Swiss Red Cross Transfusion Service and former President of the Board of Trustees of the International Society of Blood transfusion; and Heinrich Kremer, M.D., former medical director of the Specialist Clinic for Juvenile and Young Adult Drug Offenders for five German counties, including Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg. With colleagues, Hässig formed the Study Group for Nutrition and Immunity in Bern, Switzerland. This Study Group has occasionally given support to Continuum. The article in Continuum is headlined by the statement:

The continuous failure in the prevention and treatment of AIDS is rooted in the misinterpretation of an inflammatory autoimmune process as a lethal, viral venereal disease

Most of the article is written in fairly technical language. It is five magazine pages long, plus one page of technical bio-medical references. The authors question the HIV/AIDS orthodoxy in many respects. Here is a sample of some least technical sentences:

AIDS patients quite often demonstrate a weakening of their skeletal muscles. Up to 1990 this was considered a H1-virus-caused impairment of muscles. In 1990 Dalakas et al demonstrated that this kind of muscle disease is due to an administration of AZT, weakening the mitochondria within muscle cells. With the excessive release of free radicals the mitochondria are affected in their function of forming ATP as key substance in metabolic energy.56 …

During the latest international congress of leading HIV scientists the long-term criticism of the HIV/AIDS theory has been confirmed: despite intense and precise investigations there was no proof of pathophysiological mechanism explaining the different reaction of CD4- and CD8- lymphocytes to the postulated retrovirus HIV.48 It was literally stated: “The riddle of CD4 cell loss remains unresolved.”

The last sentence of the article repeats the conclusion of the headline: “Obviously AIDS is not a viral venereal disease, but an inflammatory autoimmune process.”

I am disturbed to see articles by personalities with strong medical credentials such as Kremer and Hässig in Continuum rather than in the mainstream magazines such as Scientific American, or the mainstream newspapers such as the New York Times. The July 1998 Scientific American HIV/AIDS Report is contradicted not only by the Pakker-Gorochov-Roederer articles, but also by the above mentioned Continuum article and its footnoted documentation. If Scientific American and the New York Times opened their pages to informed people with a substantial technical background, and to an open, documented discussion instead of being conduits for a powerful orthodoxy, there would be no need for a publication such as Continuum. Scientific American or the New York Times would be upholding classical standards of scientific discourse instead of acting like the purveyors of a religious dogma, with their ex-cathedra unsubstantiated assertions.

As it is, to get complementary or unskewed information about the HIV/AIDS situation, one has to go to other publications, such as Continuum, Reappraising AIDS, and sporadic publications, for instance those containing articles by Celia Farber who used to publish in SPIN, and has recently published in Mothering magazine (September-October 1998, cf. Reappraising AIDS, September 1998, p. 4). Peggy O’Mara, editor of Mothering, preceded the Celia Farber articles with a strong and long editorial statement about journalistic responsibilities (2 pages), stating in part:

As a magazine that advocates for families, we feel a special responsibility to inform parents about new information as soon as we verify it. While customs and fashions change, we as parents are the only ones who will live with our decisions. And our healthcare decisions can have long-ranging effects…

A vigorous public debate is the cornerstone of a democratic society. Facilitating this debate is the responsibility of a free press…As parents we can’t afford to be satisfied with easy answers or assumed facts. We have to verify our facts. The lives of our family members may depend on it…

It is in the context of this responsibility – and with full awareness of my enormous privilege as a journalist – that we present in this issue a controversial look at HIV, AIDS, and AZT…

While new drugs and new procedures often save lives, the only protection we have as consumers from those that do not is informed consent…

The requirements for informed consent are as follows: 1. The practitioner must disclose all information, including risks and benefits, that a reasonable person would need to know in order to make a decision. 2. The one consenting must be competent and must understand the information provided. 3. The consent must be given voluntarily and without coercion. Typically, some practitioners will doubt the capacity of their patients to make rational, informed decisions. However, this claim is not supported by evidence…

Current treatment of HIV-positive mothers violates all known standards of informed consent as set down by US jurisprudence, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, and the International Childbirth Education Association. Because pregnancy is one of 64 “conditions” that can cause a woman to falsely test positive for HIV, many pregnant women with no risk factors or symptoms will be subjected to the standard treatment for HIV, treatment that can put their lives and the lives of their babies at risk.

The hysteria over HIV and AIDS violates the sacredness of the pregnant woman and the newborn and overrides standards of informed consent that are decades old, as well as almost 85 years of legally guaranteed autonomy and self-determination. It is with deep concern that we present a minority look at the impossible choices facing HIV-positive pregnant women.

The Celia Farber articles themselves discuss the problems which arise from the enforcement of the orthodoxy and the “impossible choices”, especially preventing breast feeding from mothers testing HIV positive and forcing mothers to give AZT to an HIV-positive child under the threat that the child will be taken away if the mother does not do so. Celia Farber challenges the position of Dr. Ellen Cooper, principal researcher of Women and Infants Transmission Study (an ongoing federal research program), that “HIV is always fatal”, and that the risks of AZT are “minimal”.

Her articles contain a one-page statement headed “Does HIV Cause AIDS?”, and starting: “The notion that the HIV virus may not be the real cause of AIDS leaves some people dumbfounded, and others furious.” The statement concludes: “Although he has been harshly derided and denounced for his views – his once-generous funding has been cut off – Duesberg is far from alone in his views…At present the debate is at a standstill. The HIV hypothesis reigns, and most AIDS scientists are obliged to view Duesberg and the other HIV dissenters as deluded. But as more people live with an HIV-positive status without getting sick, many observers inside the medical community and without are beginning to think maybe Duesberg isn’t the one who is deluded after all.” That Mothering is now publishing such dissenting information about HIV represents a great journalistic advance in making questions about HIV available to the public.

When magazines such as Scientific American and newspapers such as the New York Times, do not publish “a minority look” (well-documented) at “impossible choices” and at aspects of HIV which go against the orthodoxy, they are obstructing the possibility for the public to make informed decisions.

By not publishing information going counter to the orthodoxy, the mainstream media may be causing a great deal of harm, medical or psychological, in many ways. They also lose their credibility because one has to look elsewhere for information countering the HIV orthodoxy.

Dangerous? Sometimes when I have given a talk on HIV, questioning the orthodoxy, members of the bio-medical establishment have not come to my talk and have refused to answer scientific questions, giving to colleagues the reason that what I do “is dangerous”. But I regard as dangerous to censor or suppress information, and to allow a situation to develop when people appear unable to distinguish between facts and an orthodox view. The orthodox view is accepted uncritically by people at large as a result of mass conditioning by the media’s uncritical acceptance of the scientific orthodoxy, and the refusal to publish information which goes counter to the orthodoxy. It may also be dangerous not to tell people that poppers may be dangerous to their health.

Conclusion. Of course, there are still many items that I have not discussed: different risk groups (e.g. haemophiliacs, intravenous drug users), what is called AIDS in other parts of the world (e.g. Africa), more cases of contradictions in official statistics from various sources (especially the CDC and the World Health Organization) over two decades, etc. Some of these items are discussed in Challenges. However, the items I have included in the present article will give readers an idea of the numerous objections which have been made against the hypothesis of HIV pathogenesis and the axiom that “HIV causes AIDS”. Interested persons can also consult the forthcoming survey of the drug-AIDS hypothesis by Duesberg and Rasnick in Genetica, with updated references. They can also consult Continuum and Reappraising AIDS on an ongoing basis.



P. DUESBERG and D. RASNICK, The AIDS dilemma: drug diseases blamed on a passenger virus,

Genetica 104 (1998) pp. 85-142;

see also Duesberg’s web site: www.duesberg.com


15 Years of AIDS, Continuum Vol 5 No. 3, spring 1998 pp. 33-37

[The footnoted references 11-14 in the above article are papers published by these authors

in the more technical journal Schweiz Zschr Ganzheits Med in 1996 and 1997.]

H. KREMER, S. LANKA & A. HÄSSIG, AIDS: Death by Prescription,

Continuum July/August 1996; see also


Continuum , 172 Foundling Court, Brunswick Center, London WC1N 1QE England

Reappraising AIDS, publication of The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the

HIV/AIDS Hypothesis, 7514 Girard Ave #1-331, La Jolla Calif 92037

(philpott@wwnet.com) (734-467-7339)

What we liked best of all about Lang was that he applied the same high standards he demanded of others to himself. Every sentence of every communication he sent out to his privileged circle of academic colleagues, journalists and other fortunate recipients of his largesse could be relied upon for absolute accuracy of phrasing and fact.

In fact, it must be said that he was a perfectionist in the matter, perhaps too much so for any human being. The tributes to be paid tomorrow may throw light on the question, but there is some indication that poor Serge had too little tolerance for his own failings when age finally caught up with him, and he found that his mathematical brilliance was losing some of the light of its long burning flame.

One thing is sure: he never lost his fire for demanding honesty and integrity from those in positions of public trust and responsibility in scholarship and research, and in the respectable media. As yet no one has replaced him, and we fear probably no one ever will. His loss was a irreplaceable loss not just for Yale and mathematics, and for his ally Peter Duesberg, but, it is no exaggeration to say, for humanity at large.

The best biography is the Wiki entry on Lang.

Your continued donations keep Wikipedia running!

Serge Lang

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Serge Lang (May 19, 1927–September 12, 2005) was a French-born American mathematician. He was known for his work in number theory and for his mathematics textbooks, including the influential Algebra. He was a member of the Bourbaki group.

He was born in Paris in 1927, and moved with his family to California as a teenager. He graduated from CalTech in 1946, and received a doctorate from Princeton University in 1951. He had positions at the University of Chicago and Columbia University (from 1955, leaving 1971 in a dispute). At the time of his death he was professor emeritus of mathematics at Yale University.



* 1 Mathematical work

* 2 Books

* 3 Awards as expositor

* 4 Character

* 5 Activism

* 6 External links


Mathematical work

He was a student of Emil Artin at Princeton University. His thesis was on quasi-algebraic closure. He then worked on the geometric analogues of class field theory and diophantine geometry. Later he moved into diophantine approximation and transcendence theory.

A break in research while he was involved in trying to meet 1960s student activism half way caused him (on his own description) difficulties in picking up the threads. He wrote on modular forms and modular units, the idea of a ‘distribution’ on a profinite group, and value distribution theory.

He made a number of conjectures in diophantine geometry: Mordell-Lang conjecture, Bombieri-Lang conjecture, Lang’s integral point conjecture, Lang-Trotter conjecture, Lang conjecture on Gamma values, Lang conjecture on analytically hyperbolic varieties.



He was a prolific writer of mathematical texts, often completing one on his summer vacation. Most are at graduate level and aimed at those intending research in number theory. He wrote calculus texts and also prepared a book on group cohomology for Bourbaki.

Lang’s Algebra, a graduate-level introduction to abstract algebra, was a distinctive text that ran through numerous updated editions. It contained ideas of his teacher, Artin; some of the most interesting passages in Algebraic Number Theory, also, reflect Artin’s influence and ideas that might otherwise not have been published in that or any form. His textbooks were also noted for the originality of their problems, which drew on the Princeton and Bourbaki traditions. They were (in some cases) marred by mistakes. (Algebraic Numbers, the early form of Algebraic Number Theory, was particularly notorious, with one leading figure in the field saying that all copies should be burned.) For other reasons Lang’s work was sometimes criticised as ‘vulgarisation’, playing on the slightly different emphasis of this term in French and English.

According to one legend in circulation within the Princeton University math community during the 1970s, Lang typed one of his textbooks over a single weekend on a bet; he had military typing experience which contributed to his speed.


Awards as expositor

Lang was noted for his eagerness for contact with students. He won a Leroy P Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition (1999) from the American Mathematical Society. In 1960, he won the sixth Frank Nelson Cole Prize in Algebra for his paper Unramified class field theory over function fields in several variables (Annals of Mathematics, Series 2, volume 64 (1956), pp. 285-325).



Lang was volatile and insistent. This laid him open to professional teasing (the comments in the book section have to be seen in this light), and personal ribbing. Lang: “My series of papers on modular units has one idea per paper.” Serre: “At most”. André Weil (once and only once a collaborator on a paper with Lang): “What Lang needs is a Japanese wife”. There were even Lang jokes. Lang, who was a lutenist, walks into a lute shop and says that these are pretty good lutes. Shopkeeper: “Yes, I’m the fifth-best lute maker in the world”. Lang: “That’s really a coincidence: I’m the fifth-best mathematician in the world”.



In addition to being a mathematician, Lang spent much of his time engaged in politics. He was active in opposition to the Vietnam War and quit his position at Columbia in 1971 over the university’s treatment of anti-war protesters. He was also engaged in several “whistle blowing” crusades to challenge anyone he believed was spreading misinformation or misusing science or mathematics to further their own goals.

He attacked the 1977 Survey of the American Professoriate, an opinion questionnaire that Seymour Martin Lipset and E. C. Ladd had sent to thousands of college professors in the United States, accusing it of containing numerous biased and loaded questions. This led to a public and highly acrimonious conflict.

In 1986, he challenged the nomination of political scientist Samuel P. Huntington to the National Academy of Sciences, claiming that his research consisted of “political opinions masquerading as science”. The challenge was successful.

Lang kept his political correspondence and related documentation in extensive “files”. He would send letters or publish articles, wait for responses, engage the writers in further correspondences, collect all these writings together and pointed out what he considered contradictions. He often mailed these files to people he considered important; some of them were also published in his books Challenges (ISBN 0387948619) and The File (ISBN 038790607X). His extensive file on the Baltimore affair of alleged scientific misconduct was published in the journal Ethics and Behaviour in January 1993.

His most controversial political stance was as an AIDS dissident; he maintained that the prevailing scientific consensus that HIV causes AIDS has not been backed up by reliable scientific research, yet for political/commercial reasons further research questioning the current point of view is suppressed. In public he was very outspoken about this point and a portion of Challenges is devoted to this issue.

Later in his life, Lang expanded his “challenges” to include the humanities. For example, he fought the decision by Yale University to hire Daniel Kevles, a historian of science, because he disagreed with Kevles’ book The Baltimore Case.


External links

* Serge Lang at the Mathematics Genealogy Project

* Serge Lang on HIV/AIDS

* Interview with Serge Lang by Anthony Liversidge (1993). Lang describes at length his method of File making.

* Obituary in Yale Daily News

* AIDS Wiki article

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serge_Lang”

Categories: 1927 births | 2005 deaths | American mathematicians | 20th century mathematicians | AIDS dissidents

Big time New School conference on Politics and Science

February 9th, 2006

But will it omit the the realpolitik of science itself? Probably.

Here’s a nice little jawfest at the New School this week, starting this morning. We intend to drop down and hear what this combustible mix has to say. Right wing and left, establishment and whistleblowers. That’s the kind of discussion the true academy exists to foster.

No doubt we will hear a few truths that the media lapdogs of the science estabishment would otherwise fail to print, if they live up to the description of South African novelist Rian Molan. He has memorably castigated the HIV?AIDS reporters of the world as “craven lickspittles of the press”.

That’s a little scathing and we would not suggest that most of the world science press are such slavish copiers of NIH and drug company handouts as are the AIDS reporters of the world.

But we do not expect that any of the esteemed members of these panels have read the AIDS literature for themselves or have any idea that science be distorted from within as violently as it can be distorted from without.

What is needed is a similar conference on the former topic. Will it happen? Given that there is a very important and remarkable expose of the shocking situation in HIV?AIDS about to be published in a very influential US magazine, perhaps there is another answer to this question other than the one which one would normally have to give, which is “No chance”.

New School Politics and Science Conference Feb 9-10 2006

New School Politics and Science Conferenmce Feb 9-10 2006

The increasing politicization of science can lead to policy decisions that run counter to accepted scientific consensus and risk endangering our health and well-being. Scientists and policy-makers from across the political spectrum will assess the current tension between politics and science and discuss how to increase the likelihood that the best science becomes the basis for future public policy.

A Social Research Conference

The New School , February 9 and 10, 2006

Contact Register Agenda Overview Speakers Links Hotels

Conference Agenda

(Speakers subject to change.)

Thursday, February 9

10:30 A.M. – 1:15 P.M.

Session I: Recent History: The Emerging Conflict between Politics and Science

Has the balance of power among the various interests that play a role in determining public policy changed? What changes have occurred in the influence of science? What are the consequences of these changes? What lessons can be learned from past successes and failures in creating public policy?

Rita Colwell, Chairman, Canon US Life Science, Inc.; Distinguished Professor, University of Maryland College Park and John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; Former Director, National Science Foundation

Henry Kelly, President, Federation of American Scientists

Daniel Kevles, Stanley Woodward Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies, Program in History of Medicine, Yale University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Moderator: Gerald Holton, Mallinckrodt Research Professor of Physics and Research Professor of History of Science, Harvard University

2:15 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.

Session II: Health

What are the roles of scientific, political, religious, and corporate interests in the creation of health policy, for example reproductive health policy? Has the relationship among these forces changed? If so, what are the consequences for our well-being?

Eric Cohen, Director, Biotechnology and American Democracy Program, Ethics and Public Policy Center; Editor, The New Atlantis

M. Joycelyn Elders M.D., Distinguished Professor, College of Public Health, Professor Emeritus, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas School of Medical Sciences; Former United States Surgeon General

William Hurlbut, Consulting Professor, Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University Medical Center, Member, President’s Council on Bioethics

John S. Santelli M.D., Professor and Chairman, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health and Clinical Pediatrics, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

Moderator: Bernard Goldstein, Professor and Former Dean, Univeristy of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

5:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.


6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.

Session III: Keynote Address by Neal Lane, Science Advisor to President Clinton; Former Director of the National Science Foundation

Why this conference now? How has the relationship between science and politics changed? Where have we been, where are we now, and where should we be going?

Q & A by Bob Kerrey, President, The New School; Former U.S. Senator from Nebraska

Friday February 10

10:00A.M. – 12:450 A.M.

Session IV: The Environment

What is the role of science and scientists in making environmental policy? What interests compete to create policies affecting the environment? Has the balance among them changed? If so, how? What are the consequences?

Paul Ehrlich, President, Center for Conservation Biology; Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University

James E. Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Steven F. Hayward, F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research; Senior fellow, Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy

Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs and Director, Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy, Princeton University

Moderator: Dawn Rittenhouse, Director, Sustainable Development, Dupont

1:45 P.M. – 4:30 P.M.

Session V: Energy: Technology and Sources of Power

What is the role of science and scientists in making energy policy? Has this changed, and if so, how? If a change has occurred, is it a matter of the relative influence of scientists, corporations and politicians? How are the issues tied to new trends in globalization? What are the consequences of these changes?

Paul Gilman, Director, Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies at ORNL; Former Science Advisor, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Kurt Gottfried, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Cornell University; Co-founder and Chair, Union of Concerned Scientists

Martin Hoffert, Professor Emeritus of Physics, New York University

William F. Martin, Chairman, Washington Policy & Analysis; Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee, United States Department of Energy

Moderator: Henry Kelly, President, Federation of American Scientists

5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M.

Session VI: Round-table Discussion

What needs to be done now, and by whom or by what institutions, in order to ensure that good science leads to good public policy that best serves the needs of the American public? How can we change the current situation so that scientists and scientific findings have more influence? How can we improve the policy decision-making process?

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University; Member, President’s Council on Bioethics

Bernard Goldstein, Professor and Former Dean, Univeristy of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

David Goldston, Chief of Staff, House Committee on Science

Rush Holt, US Representative from New Jersey

Rick Piltz, Director, Climate Science Watch; Former Senior Associate, US Climate Change Science Program

Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO, New York Academy of Science

Philip M. Smith, Smith Science Policy & Management; Former Executive Officer, National Research Council

Albert H. Teich, Director of Science & Policy Programs, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Ruth Wooden, President, Public Agenda

Moderator: Ira Flatow, Host, Talk of The Nation: Science Friday; Science Correspondent, National Public Radio

The New SchoolThe New School Divisions

Contact Register Agenda Overview Speakers Links Hotels

Kolata, myth buster, with front page good news again

February 8th, 2006

Generally lower fat diets don’t help with cancer, heart – you must still eat less, exercise more

Old news is confirmed in well designed study

Gina Kolata is once again the bearer of good news, winning the top right front page headline of the newspaper of record today (Wed Feb 8) with Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds.

The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet has no effect.

The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate whatever they pleased, researchers are reporting today.

“These studies are revolutionary,” said Dr. Jules Hirsch, physician in chief emeritus at Rockefeller University in New York City, who has spent a lifetime studying the effects of diets on weight and health. “They should put a stop to this era of thinking that we have all the information we need to change the whole national diet and make everybody healthy.”

Quickly placing first on the Times email list, the story looks a little hard to sustain as she goes along, however, perhaps because it is not really news. What she doesn’t say is that it was well known even before the study was initiated eight years ago that it was more the kind of fats one ate that mattered, rather than the overall level. Since some are apparently beneficial (butyric acid in butter boosts immunity and is anti-cancerous, for example, as is CLA, conjugated linoleic acid, in milk, and polyunstaurated fats have benefits for the circulation, according to our nutrition expert) it wasn’t likely that they were detrimental overall.

Moreover, the level of reduction probably wasn’t drastic enough to show effects. The women weren’t even able to reach the goal of 20 per cent of calories as fat – they were at 29 per cent by the end of the study, compared with 37 per cent in the control group, which matched them in total calorie intake. It is hard for most people to give up oil in salad dressing, it seems, though we cannot see why. Vinegar by itself is hardly less tasty.

So we are not sure whether the story has enough meaning for it to matter that she did draw on a statistician who confirmed that the study was well designed:

David A. Freedman, a statistician at the University of California, Berkeley, who is not connected with the study but has written books on the design and analysis of clinical trials, said the results should be taken seriously.

“The studies were well designed,” Dr. Freedman said, “and the investigators tried to confirm popular hypotheses about the protective effect of diet against three major diseases in women.”

“But,” he added, “the diet studied here turned out not to be protective after all.”

On the other hand, given the public appetite for simple take home stories, it is certainly a good thing that a common public health myth based on insufficient data has finally been scotched with a Times headline.

Dr. Freedman, the Berkeley statistician, said the overall lesson was clear.

“We, in the scientific community, often give strong advice based on flimsy evidence,” he said. “That’s why we have to do experiments.”

That’s the last line of the story and quite an admission. In other words, the scientists themselves were just as fond of the oversimplification as the ignorant public. And the response of many of those Kolata draws upon is to cling to their preconceptions, it is worth noting.

But the general moral of the tale is that at the crude level the composition of diet doesn’t seem to make much difference, as other studies have shown also.

For decades, many scientists have said, and many members of the public have believed, that what people eat — the composition of the diet — determines how likely they are to get a chronic disease. But that has been hard to prove. Studies of dietary fiber and colon cancer failed to find that fiber was protective, and studies of vitamins thought to protect against cancer failed to show an effect.

Many cancer researchers have questioned large parts of the diet-cancer hypothesis, but it has kept a hold on the public imagination. “Nothing fascinates the American public so much as the notion that what you eat rather than how much you eat affects your health,” said Dr. Libby, the Harvard professor.

Perhaps these studies, too, were too general and not specific enough in their focus. What does matter is the more detailed composition, at least as far as fats go.

Be that as it may, it seems a little misleading for the Times to make this yet another Kolata front pager, joining other examples of her headline stories which turn out to be less than meets the eye. We seem to recall one which made much of a meta study showing that the placebo effect did not exist, which has gently faded from view. Front page headlines above the fold surely should be reserved for something more significant than eight year old studies confirming what everybody already knows.

The New York Times

February 8, 2006

Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds


The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet has no effect.

The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate whatever they pleased, researchers are reporting today.

“These studies are revolutionary,” said Dr. Jules Hirsch, physician in chief emeritus at Rockefeller University in New York City, who has spent a lifetime studying the effects of diets on weight and health. “They should put a stop to this era of thinking that we have all the information we need to change the whole national diet and make everybody healthy.”

The study, published in today’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, was not just an ordinary study, said Dr. Michael Thun, who directs epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society. It was so large and so expensive, Dr. Thun said, that it was “the Rolls-Royce of studies.” As such, he added, it is likely to be the final word.

“We usually have only one shot at a very large-scale trial on a particular issue,” he said.

The results, the study investigators agreed, do not justify recommending low-fat diets to the public to reduce their heart disease and cancer risk. Given the lack of benefit found in the study, many medical researchers said that the best dietary advice, for now, was to follow federal guidelines for healthy eating, with less saturated and trans fats, more grains, and more fruits and vegetables.

Not everyone was convinced. Some, like Dr. Dean Ornish, a longtime promoter of low-fat diets and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., said that the women did not reduce their fat to low enough levels or eat enough fruits and vegetables, and that the study, even at eight years, did not give the diets enough time.

Others said that diet could still make a difference, at least with heart disease, if people were to eat the so-called Mediterranean diet, low in saturated fats like butter and high in oils like olive oil. The women in the study reduced all kinds of fat.

The diets studied “had an antique patina,” said Dr. Peter Libby, a cardiologist and professor at Harvard Medical School. These days, Dr. Libby said, most people have moved on from the idea of controlling total fat to the idea that people should eat different kinds of fat.

But the Mediterranean diet has not been subjected to a study of this scope, researchers said.

And Barbara V. Howard, an epidemiologist at MedStar Research Institute, a nonprofit hospital group, and a principle investigator in the study, said people should realize that diet alone was not enough to stay healthy.

“We are not going to reverse any of the chronic diseases in this country by changing the composition of the diet,” Dr. Howard said. “People are always thinking it’s what they ate. They are not looking at how much they ate or that they smoke or that they are sedentary.”

Except for not smoking, the advice for a healthy lifestyle is based largely on indirect evidence, Dr. Howard said, but most medical researchers agree that it makes sense to eat well, control weight and get regular exercise.

That is also what the cancer society recommends. Dr. Thun, who described the study’s results as “completely null over the eight-year follow-up for both cancers and heart disease,” said his group had no plans to suggest that low-fat diets were going to protect against cancer.

Others cautioned against being too certain that a particular diet would markedly improve health, and said that whether someone developed a chronic disease might not be entirely under their control — genetics also plays a role.

David A. Freedman, a statistician at the University of California, Berkeley, who is not connected with the study but has written books on the design and analysis of clinical trials, said the results should be taken seriously.

“The studies were well designed,” Dr. Freedman said, “and the investigators tried to confirm popular hypotheses about the protective effect of diet against three major diseases in women.”

“But,” he added, “the diet studied here turned out not to be protective after all.”

The study was part of the Women’s Health Initiative of the National Institutes of Health, the same program that showed that hormone therapy after menopause might have more risks than benefits.

In this case, the study addressed a tricky problem. For decades, many scientists have said, and many members of the public have believed, that what people eat — the composition of the diet — determines how likely they are to get a chronic disease. But that has been hard to prove. Studies of dietary fiber and colon cancer failed to find that fiber was protective, and studies of vitamins thought to protect against cancer failed to show an effect.

Many cancer researchers have questioned large parts of the diet-cancer hypothesis, but it has kept a hold on the public imagination. “Nothing fascinates the American public so much as the notion that what you eat rather than how much you eat affects your health,” said Dr. Libby, the Harvard professor.

The study found that women who were randomly assigned to follow a low-fat diet ate significantly less fat over the next eight years. But they had just as much breast and colon cancer and just as much heart disease. The women were not trying to lose weight, and their weights remained fairly steady. But their experiences with the diets allowed researchers to question some popular notions about diet and obesity.

There is a common belief that Americans get fat because they eat too many carbohydrates. The idea is that a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet leads to weight gain, higher insulin and blood glucose levels, and more diabetes, even if the calories are the same as in a higher-fat diet. That did not happen here.

Others have said the opposite: that low-fat diets enable people to lose weight naturally. But that belief was not supported by this study.

As for heart disease risk factors, the only one affected was LDL cholesterol, which increases heart disease risk. The levels were slightly higher in women eating the higher-fat diet, but not high enough to make a noticeable difference in their risk of heart disease.

Although all the study participants were women, the colon cancer and heart disease results should also apply to men, said Dr. Jacques Rossouw, the project officer for the Women’s Health Initiative.

Dr. Rossouw said the observational studies that led to the hypothesis about colon cancer and dietary fat included men and women. With heart disease, he said, researchers have found that women and men respond in the same way to dietary fat.

The most recent study follows a smaller one, reported last year, on low-fat diets for women who had breast cancer. That study hinted that eating less fat might help prevent a recurrence. But the current study, asking if a low-fat diet could protect women from breast cancer in the first place, had findings that fell short of statistical significance, meaning they could have occurred by chance.

Dr. Rossouw said he was still intrigued by the breast cancer data, even though it was not statistically significant. The women on low-fat diets had a 9 percent lower rate of breast cancer; the incidence was 42 per thousand per year in women in the low-fat diet group, compared with 45 per thousand per year in women consuming their regular diet.

That could mean that fat in the diet may have a small effect, Dr. Rossouw said, perhaps in some subgroups of women or over a longer period of time. He added that the study investigators would continue to follow the women to see if the effect became more pronounced.

While cancer researchers said they were disappointed by the results, heart disease researchers said they were not surprised that simply reducing total fat had no effect, because they had moved on from that hypothesis.

Of course, Dr. Libby acknowledged, the latest advice, to follow a Mediterranean diet and get regular exercise, has never been tested in a large randomized clinical trial. “If they did a study like that and it was negative,” he said, “then I’d have to give up my cherished hypotheses for data.”

The low-fat diet was not easy to follow, said Dr. Rowan T. Chlebowski, a medical oncologist at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center and one of the study’s principal investigators. Women were told to aim for a diet that had just 20 percent of its calories as fat, and most fell short.

The diet they were told to follow “is different than the way most people eat,” Dr. Chlebowski said. It meant, for example, no butter on bread, no cream cheese on bagels, no oil in salad dressings.

“If a physician told a patient to eat less fat, that will do nothing,” he said. “If you send someone to a dietitian one time, that will do next to nothing.” The women in the study had 18 sessions in small groups with a trained nutritionist in the first year and four sessions a year after that.

In the first year, the women on the low-fat diets reduced the percentage of fat in their diet to 24 percent of daily calories, and by the end of the study their diets had 29 percent of their calories as fat. In the first year, the women in the control group were eating 35 percent of their calories as fat, and by the end of the study their dietary fat content was 37 percent. The two groups consumed about the same number of calories.

Some medical specialists emphasized that the study did not mean people should abandon low-fat diets.

“What we are saying is that a modest reduction of fat and a substitution with fruits and vegetables did not do anything for heart disease and stroke or breast cancer or colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Nanette K. Wenger, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “It doesn’t say that this diet is not beneficial.”

But Dr. Freedman, the Berkeley statistician, said the overall lesson was clear.

“We, in the scientific community, often give strong advice based on flimsy evidence,” he said. “That’s why we have to do experiments.”

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Bad Behavior has blocked 2063 access attempts in the last 7 days.