Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

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

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

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

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

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

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

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

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Celia Farber profiled as articulate, ‘obsessive’ AIDS ‘anarchist’ by NY Observer

June 28th, 2006

Detailed front page story stays away from saying she is wrong


Deft sketch portrays her as basket case study of her theme of censorship

Whatever you make of it as science politics, Sheelah Kolhatkar’s take on Celia Farber today (Wed Jun 28) in the elitist pink gossip sheet of the chattering classes in Manhattan draws an accurate picture of a tough minded but supersentient being who has suffered the tortures of the damned for twenty years in pursuing the off limits topic of whether HIV is valid as the key to AIDS.

On the night of Saturday, June 10, the controversial journalist Celia Farber was holding court at a quiet cocktail party in a roped-off section of the Roosevelt Hotel bar in midtown Manhattan. “What does an animal do when they know they’re going to be killed?” she asked, her voice taut, as a handful of people looked on. “They play dead.”

Ms. Farber was in the midst of an anecdote about one of her preferred subjects, her persecution at the hands of a vast network of enemies, and its effect on her writing career. “I’ve been there,” she continued. “You lose interest in doing well; you stop caring about being successful.”

The author of this tragicomedy, the slim, brunette Kolhatkar, is a young beauty who while at the party mentioned in the piece admitted to this writer that she was so devoted to her work writing up various figures in circles of publishing power and influence in Manhattan that she finds herself dreaming about it, and she does a very sophisticated job, handling Farber with care and the perceptive ear of a good theater critic.

She is noticeably polite about Farber’s iconoclastic view on HIV?AIDS, and after the obligatory quote from Moore’s Op Ed piece, gives no extra space to Celia bashing by calling on the likes of a John Moore or Martin Delaney, the paradigm palace guard who can be counted on to make cheap cracks deploring Farber’s misguided resistance to the authority of the HIV?AIDS scientists who are in fact the chief suspects in this case.

The gossipy but telling piece feels to us like a wry Manhattan inner circle assessment of another member of the media power club, who however renegade in her work is not treated here as someone to be trashed as beyond the pale. Although she may be taken aback at being sketched as unremittingly doleful, we hope it will be a pleasant surprise for Farber to read this, when she does – at the moment she has fled to the country with her family and a robot is answering her email.

For while the elephant in the room is largely overlooked as usual, the “blonde, thin AIDS anarchist” is framed in a worldly manner that leaves plenty of room for the possibility that she may be right to champion the censored side of the issue – that is, it does until the very end of the article. Then in a rather abrupt windup it seems to us that Farber is finally patronized as an obsessive who according to her friend and one time editor Bob Guccione of SPIN and Gear has spent a little too much time on “her holy quest”. And in Sheelah’s own view, Celia is a born agitator who would be “lost without her battles”:

When asked how the endless contrarianism might have impacted Ms. Farber professionally, Mr. Guccione, another believer in the “fostering debate” approach to publishing, said: “I think she has paid a terrific price.” He continued: “You know, the flip side of that is, I think she spent too much time dwelling on the AIDS beat. It’s been a holy quest for her.”

In any case, Ms. Farber would be lost without her battles. She said that she’s always been fascinated by Stalinism, Communism, the Holocaust, witch hunts; she visits “as many dictatorships as I can.” “

Seems to us this is going overboard, like the headline – Celia is a paradigm revolutionary in our book, not exactly an anarchist. She is fighting spurious and abusive authority, not all authority, all the time. But perhaps the writer is handicapped by the almost universal inability to conceive that the whole world is wrong on HIV?AIDS. What’s nice is that she dosn’t push it. On the other hand, she doesn’t justify Celia’s quest either.

For most of the deft article as we read it she is respectful of Celia’s work and of her pain, though she doesn’t seem to be entirely clear that Celia was and is not always as she is painted here. Celia’s present preoccupation with the hostility aroused by her work quoted throughout the piece is to our ear the sound of nervous fatigue, coming after twenty years where huge demands were made of the talented author with very little recompense, by the standards of the market today.

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“And this may be the genius of the piece: by depicting so well the plight of a literary victim, it makes exactly the point that Celia wants to demonstrate in her work, which is that it is the censorship which is killing people.”

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Sheelah hints at the financial stress over the years mentioning Celia’s jobs as dishwasher etc but she doesn’t seem to realize that this sacrifice is far from over. Celia is suffering from nervous exhaustion after two years of superhuman effort with not enough emotional and professional support from colleagues or editors, let alone proper pay for her efforts and talent. This is the price demanded of those who flout the current media-science-industrial complex, at least in HIV?AIDS.

That is why the charmingly unpretentious picture of Celia by Melanie Flood accompanying the article (titled Celia Farber in her apartment on the Upper West Side) looks a little more bedraggled than a personal publicist would like (on the Web only — in the print version, where the inside full page is headlined “Celia’s Offensive”, nice pun, the photo looks absolutely beautiful, for some reason). Here is another one of Celia two years ago, looking a good deal fresher at a HEAL gathering in Manhattan, where her colleague in paradigm dismantling, scientist Harvey Bialy, gave a lectern-pounding reading from his “Oncogenes” book. It was the night she heard from Lapham that her piece was accepted.

Here at least she does get credit for her achievements. The “rag tag band” of dissenters would still look like 9/11 conspiracy theorists except for two things that have emboldened them recently, Kolhatkar reports. These are Farber’s twin literary successes – the big piece in Harper’s March issue and now her new book that is just out (July 1st publication date, but already available for three weeks on Amazon), a collection of her key pieces on HIV?AIDS.

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Commercial interruption: Let’s hope a lot of people buy “Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS”, as they should – it is a great read for any nonscientist (or scientist) who wants to catch up with this scene, unique in its vast social and political distortion of sense and science, which Celia describes with a true writer’s thoughtfulness and clarity in vivid story telling from the front lines.

The paperback, which has the cover design of a literary classic and deserves it, includes the first draft of what she wrote for Lapham, a lovely, telling piece which centers on Peter Duesberg’s travails as well as his science; the biographical part was eventually displaced in Harper’s by the newer topic of cooked and lethal AIDS drug trials. It’s worth the price of the book – but so is every well told, illuminating chapter, in which science derailed is described with the clarity of an on-the-scene report from a critical observer.

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As we say, the Observer piece falls apart at the end, we find, though others may read it differently. The last paragraphs shortchange Farber’s intellectual cause by reducing it to reflex anti-fascism and saying that she has taken refuge in appealing merely for free debate. Here given Celia’s deep moral sensibility and her outrage at the deaths of patients, and her twenty year championing of Duesberg’s consistent position that there is nothing in the HIV argument, we expect that she will feel insulted and cheapened.

By focusing her outrage on her opposition’s desire to silence dissent rather than on the actual scientific arguments, Ms. Farber finds protection under the idea that no subject or theory, regardless of its implications, should be taken off the table; continuing to ask the questions can be more important than answering them.

But even if it finally does go off the rails in this way, perhaps due to hasty editing, this is in many ways the first intelligent, worldly article about the leading HIV?AIDS lay critic and her cause, and it is certainly unfair to expect a young woman however smart who is unfamiliar with the field of unscience involved to catch up with the real situation in only three weeks.

All in all, for a gossip piece this is a brilliant encapsulation of a unique spirit and her predicament, even if the forces that have led to it – and the validity of her cause – are not fully depicted by the profiler. Truth to tell, it seems pretty clear that in her extended conversations and emailing with a very thorough reporter her subject neglected the issue herself.

And this may be the genius of the piece: by depicting so well the plight of a literary victim, it makes exactly the point that Celia wants to demonstrate in her work, which is that it is the censorship which is killing people.

AIDS Anarchist Farber

Hops Back in Whirlwind

By Sheelah Kolhatkar

On the night of Saturday, June 10, the controversial journalist Celia Farber was holding court at a quiet cocktail party in a roped-off section of the Roosevelt Hotel bar in midtown Manhattan. “What does an animal do when they know they’re going to be killed?” she asked, her voice taut, as a handful of people looked on. “They play dead.”

Ms. Farber was in the midst of an anecdote about one of her preferred subjects, her persecution at the hands of a vast network of enemies, and its effect on her writing career. “I’ve been there,” she continued. “You lose interest in doing well; you stop caring about being successful.”

Most of the 15 or so at the party were members of Rethinking AIDS, a group of scientists, writers and others who propagate the radical idea that H.I.V. does not cause AIDS. One of Ms. Farber’s beliefs, for example, is that the scientific explanations for the AIDS epidemic are corrupted by drug companies that seek to show that AIDS is amenable to drug therapies—profitable ones.

Their esoteric ideas have far-reaching implications, to say the least. If H.I.V. doesn’t cause AIDS, then “safe sex,” drug “cocktails”—in short, everything that the medical establishment says about prevention and treatment—is wrong.

Not unsurprisingly, the group is small, marginalized and the object of intense criticism in public-health circles. (They view themselves as AIDS “dissenters,” while their critics refer to them as “denialists.”)

Ms. Farber is a central figure among the AIDS “dissenters.” She isn’t a scientist herself; instead, she champions the scientific work of Peter Duesberg, a cancer researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. Ms. Farber sees herself as some sort of modern-day Clarence Darrow to Mr. Duesberg’s Scopes—an advocate whose lonely battle will be vindicated through the prisms of history and science.

Her two-decade career has been dominated by her efforts to keep debate about the dissenting AIDS theory alive, and nearly every piece she publishes on the subject triggers a seismic backlash. An Op-Ed piece in The New York Times on June 4 accused her camp of “Deadly Quackery”: “The truth is that H.I.V. does exist, that it causes AIDS and that antiretroviral drugs can prevent H.I.V. transmission and death from AIDS,” it read. “To deny these facts is not just wrong—it’s deadly.”

One could argue that Ms. Farber gave her life for her obsession with the cause. A few months ago, she and her ragtag band of colleagues might have been considered, by some, to be one step away from the conspiracy theorist’s asylum, next in line behind the 9/11-was-an-inside-job crowd. But they’ve been feeling emboldened by two recent successes: the publication of Ms. Farber’s first book, Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS, by the independent press Melville House; and, perhaps more significantly, the appearance of a 15-page article by Ms. Farber in the March issue of Harper’s Magazine.

Indeed, as one party attendee pointed out, not everyone in the media world regards Celia Farber as a petrified animal. “There are so many people who admire her,” said Thor Halvorssen, a personal friend of Ms. Farber, who was there solely to lend her moral support. He paused. “[Former Harper’s editor] Lewis Lapham, for one.”

UP CLOSE, MS. FARBER, 40, HAS A DAMAGED, fragile air. She is tall and exceedingly thin, with limbs that look as if they might snap to the touch. Her facial features are dramatically chiseled, with large brown eyes topped off with carefully tousled blond hair. “After all these years, the spotlight is on me,” Ms. Farber said, sipping a glass of white wine. “It’s come at the same moment when I’ve ceased to care any more. There comes a point where I don’t crave respectability, I don’t expect to get it from the outside.”

Ms. Farber sees AIDS through the lens of totalitarianism (American society in general, American science specifically and the National Institutes of Health all earned the label). To engage with her is to enter a surreal plane where her intensity threatens to overwhelm. Dozens of e-mails arrive in the night filled with angry rantings, impassioned pleas, links to articles and letters to the editor—all offering a glimpse into the emotional seesaw that is her existence. She seems riven by anxious energy, and her long fingers tend to flutter around her temples like butterflies as she speaks.

At the Roosevelt, she was seated on a couch next to her friend Mr. Halvorssen, a preppy libertarian with a cowlick, whose preoccupations that night included the evils of communism, political correctness, environmentalists and the charges against the Duke lacrosse team.

“I’m an unusual subject in that for years it’s been written that I’m in denial of reality, a mass murderer …,” Ms. Farber said.

At that moment, Barry Farber—Ms. Farber’s father, the anti-communist and conservative radio host who ran for Mayor of New York in 1977—ambled over with a big grin, his tie askew.

“We’re talking about your daughter!” Mr. Halvorssen said to him.

“Ah, my favorite subject!” Mr. Farber said in his Southern drawl. He collapsed on the couch and started punching at his cell phone.

“If you are deprived of respectability over time,” Ms. Farber continued, “what happens is, it’s wounding—but eventually you get freed of the addiction to respectability. I think a lot of media people crave respectability.”

Her friend wasn’t buying it; he thinks she is too timid and insecure. “How often in the past two years have you pitched a story?” said Mr. Halvorssen in a scolding tone.

“Um … ,” Ms. Farber said, “I have pitched stories, probably …. “

“She just does not do it!” Mr. Halvorssen said. “She could get $20,000 a story, she’s so good. But she just. Does. Not. Do. It. She’s still bleeding. If we could just cover these wounds …. “

“I said this to Lewis Lapham, actually,” Ms. Farber said: “‘You are interfering with my persecution complex!’”

“You see this?” Mr. Halvorssen said. “She has a Joan of Arc complex!”

“A persecution complex does not develop out of nothing,” Ms. Farber said.

AIDS “HAS HAD ME IN ITS JAWS FOR 20 YEARS, and I’ve occasionally tried to get away from it. And I have found that there’s not nearly as much free will as you’d think,” said Ms. Farber. “I am not obsessed with it. I probably seem to be obsessed with it—people probably think, Can’t she shut up about AIDS? But in actual fact, I’ve been trying to, for a long time. But some portion of the culture keeps coming to me and asking me to please address it again.” Ms. Farber, however, is unable to “shut up about” AIDS for very long.

Celia Farber is a New Yorker by birth (she now lives on the Upper West Side). Her mother was a Swedish Pan Am stewardess and a nurse; her father is of Russian Jewish ancestry and grew up in North Carolina. She lived from age 11 to 18 in Sweden, which she described as an oppressive, overly socialist, weird place. She joined the alternative-rock scene, and when she returned to New York she enrolled at N.Y.U. and drummed in bands.

She began writing her infamous AIDS column, called “Words from the Front,” at Spin in 1987.

It was in the midst of the so-called “AIDS war,” when public fear (Ms. Farber likes to call it “mass hysteria”) about the disease was at its peak and there was a scientific space race underway to understand it. But: “I didn’t come in and say, ‘I wanna write about AIDS!’” Ms. Farber said. “I wanted to find something out, ideally something that really needed to be found out and nobody else had found out. That was my thing.”

Her pieces, many of which are collected in her book, raised questions about whether H.I.V. was the sole cause of AIDS, about the side effects of the AIDS drug AZT and about the severity of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Her second installment was an interview with Mr. Duesberg, who is also known for his hypothesis that AIDS is caused by heavy recreational and anti-H.I.V. drug use rather than H.I.V. itself. Mr. Duesberg was shunned by the scientific community after publishing his theory that H.I.V. cannot cause AIDS; Ms. Farber has been aligned with him ever since.

Needless to say, many in the medical establishment, as well as gay and AIDS activists—and Ms. Farber’s own colleagues at Spin—found her columns destructive. Spin’s publisher, Bob Guccione Jr., personally shepherded her pieces into the magazine. “There was always a sense of violence and sabotage,” Ms. Farber said, adopting the cadences of a grizzled war reporter. “There were times when Bob and I had to actually walk the boards to the printer—there were people, copy editors and fact-checkers, who hated the column so much they would cut things out.”

There was also another matter: Ms. Farber was romantically involved with Mr. Guccione, which created resentment in the office. This culminated in 1994 when an employee named Staci Bonner filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit against the magazine and Mr. Guccione.

Ms. Farber had by then gone freelance, gotten married to someone else and given birth to a son just that year. In a time line she provided in an e-mail, she wrote: “The years 1994-1997 were consumed with fighting the charges which culminated in Federal Court, 1997. Hospitalized briefly for suicidal urges. Lost 25 pounds. Lost will to live. Betrayed by best friend at Spin (plaintiff).” She said the trial “absolutely leveled me—it was the darkest, scariest, most traumatic, merciless, brutal thing I’ve ever seen or imagined; it took me 10 years to even begin to want to live again.”

Shortly after that, she went to Los Angeles and spent three months shadowing O.J. Simpson for Esquire, which resulted in a sensational cover story in 1998. She wrote for Mr. Guccione at his new magazine, Gear, and had an AIDS column on the Web site Ironminds. She separated from her husband. She organized a concert called “Rock the Boat,” which was intended to raise awareness about alternative AIDS theories; the concert fell apart, and Ms. Farber said that “financial decimation” followed. She worked at a series of odd jobs—in hotels, trade shows, making candles, catering, dishwashing.

Around 2001, Tina Brown commissioned her to write a story about gene therapy for Talk. The piece was killed. She said that she has been broke, and has given up on journalism, ever since.

(There was one bright spot: Ms. Farber said in an e-mail that after she wrote a piece for the New York Press about Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment case in 2004, the founder of American Apparel, Dov Charney, called her up “yelling about the whole fake feminism ordeal.” Mr. Charney had been dealing with his own harassment accusations, and he hired her as a “consultant and writer.” Ms. Farber referred to Mr. Charney as her “secret benefactor.”)

She speaks of her Harper’s article as if it was a divine accident, but in reality Mr. Lapham was the puppet master. After meeting him at a party several years ago, Ms. Farber said he urged her to pitch him stories. “He said, ‘I really need someone to write about science for me,’” Ms. Farber recalled. “He said, ‘I really have a sense that it’s kind of … ,’ and then he paused, and I said, ‘Diabolical?’”

She eventually proposed a piece about the same H.I.V.-does-not-cause-AIDS virologist she’s been championing since Spin. “I had no intention whatsoever of writing about AIDS in Harper’s,” Ms. Farber said, somewhat implausibly. “The original story was about Peter Duesberg’s cancer theory. And I remember saying to Lewis Lapham: ‘The AIDS question—we’ll just fly right over that, right?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, we’ll fly right over that.’” (Mr. Lapham declined to speak to The Observer.)

Ms. Farber turned in that piece, which appears as the first chapter in her book. Mr. Lapham handed the text over to an editor, Roger Hodge, to edit. While it was being worked on, news of a problematic AIDS drug trial appeared in the press. Ms. Farber brought it to her editor’s attention and said that she was urged to look into that story: “I felt like, ‘Oh, God, what a pain in the ass. I don’t wanna go into that extraordinarily difficult, impossible, explosive, life-destroying stuff!’” Ms. Farber said. “But you don’t say that to your editors.”

The piece that ultimately ran was an awkward marriage of the two stories. Predictably, it triggered a considerable level of anger directed at Harper’s. Letters were published both in support of the article and taking issue with some of Ms. Farber’s contentions. The AIDS researcher Robert Gallo and doctors from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, among others, wrote in protest.

Ms. Farber said that she’d tried to warn Messrs. Lapham and Hodge of her reputation and biases. “In this discredited little cadre of scientists, I’m their champion,” she said she told them. In an e-mail, Mr. Hodge, who is now Harper’s’ top editor, wrote: “Yes, we knew what we were getting into.” He also wrote: “Celia is an excellent reporter and I hope she brings us more good stories in the future.”

It’s not entirely surprising that a figure such as Ms. Farber would appeal to a particular brand of right-thinking liberalism, the type embodied by Mr. Lapham’s former magazine. By focusing her outrage on her opposition’s desire to silence dissent rather than on the actual scientific arguments, Ms. Farber finds protection under the idea that no subject or theory, regardless of its implications, should be taken off the table; continuing to ask the questions can be more important than answering them.

When asked how the endless contrarianism might have impacted Ms. Farber professionally, Mr. Guccione, another believer in the “fostering debate” approach to publishing, said: “I think she has paid a terrific price.” He continued: “You know, the flip side of that is, I think she spent too much time dwelling on the AIDS beat. It’s been a holy quest for her.”

In any case, Ms. Farber would be lost without her battles. She said that she’s always been fascinated by Stalinism, Communism, the Holocaust, witch hunts; she visits “as many dictatorships as I can.” She described herself alternately as a lapsed hard leftist, a proto-anarchist, a libertarian sympathizer and a “bit punk.” When asked if she somehow took pleasure in the turmoil triggered by her journalism, she said: “I would vastly prefer a quiet life, without roiling bands of furious AIDS activists—I mean treatment activists—smearing my name all over the world. I mean, I don’t like it. I don’t take it lightly.”

Then she thought for a moment. “I think I was built to take it,” Ms. Farber said. “I just had a very, very unsparing childhood. And I was never any ‘the world is my oyster’ kind of person. Things were always tough, and I developed kind of an identity, I guess, where maybe I relished something about the dynamic of being attacked. It’s a really good question …. It traumatizes me very much. Less now than it used to. I find it boring now. Very, very boring.”

Celia Farber profiled as articulate, ‘obsessive’ AIDS ‘anarchist’ by NY Observer

June 28th, 2006

Detailed front page story stays away from saying she is wrong


Deft sketch portrays her as basket case study of her theme of censorship

Whatever you make of it as science politics, Sheelah Kolhatkar’s take on Celia Farber today (Wed Jun 28) in the elitist pink gossip sheet of the chattering classes in Manhattan draws an accurate picture of a tough minded but supersentient being who has suffered the tortures of the damned for twenty years in pursuing the off limits topic of whether HIV is valid as the key to AIDS.

On the night of Saturday, June 10, the controversial journalist Celia Farber was holding court at a quiet cocktail party in a roped-off section of the Roosevelt Hotel bar in midtown Manhattan. “What does an animal do when they know they’re going to be killed?” she asked, her voice taut, as a handful of people looked on. “They play dead.”Ms. Farber was in the midst of an anecdote about one of her preferred subjects, her persecution at the hands of a vast network of enemies, and its effect on her writing career. “I’ve been there,” she continued. “You lose interest in doing well; you stop caring about being successful.”

The author of this tragicomedy, the slim, brunette Kolhatkar, is a young beauty who while at the party mentioned in the piece admitted to this writer that she was so devoted to her work writing up various figures in circles of publishing power and influence in Manhattan that she finds herself dreaming about it, and she does a very sophisticated job, handling Farber with care and the perceptive ear of a good theater critic.

She is noticeably polite about Farber’s iconoclastic view on HIV?AIDS, and after the obligatory quote from Moore’s Op Ed piece, gives no extra space to Celia bashing by calling on the likes of a John Moore or Martin Delaney, the paradigm palace guard who can be counted on to make cheap cracks deploring Farber’s misguided resistance to the authority of the HIV?AIDS scientists who are in fact the chief suspects in this case.

The gossipy but telling piece feels to us like a wry Manhattan inner circle assessment of another member of the media power club, who however renegade in her work is not treated here as someone to be trashed as beyond the pale. Although she may be taken aback at being sketched as unremittingly doleful, we hope it will be a pleasant surprise for Farber to read this, when she does – at the moment she has fled to the country with her family and a robot is answering her email.

For while the elephant in the room is largely overlooked as usual, the “blonde, thin AIDS anarchist” is framed in a worldly manner that leaves plenty of room for the possibility that she may be right to champion the censored side of the issue – that is, it does until the very end of the article. Then in a rather abrupt windup it seems to us that Farber is finally patronized as an obsessive who according to her friend and one time editor Bob Guccione of SPIN and Gear has spent a little too much time on “her holy quest”. And in Sheelah’s own view, Celia is a born agitator who would be “lost without her battles”:

When asked how the endless contrarianism might have impacted Ms. Farber professionally, Mr. Guccione, another believer in the “fostering debate” approach to publishing, said: “I think she has paid a terrific price.” He continued: “You know, the flip side of that is, I think she spent too much time dwelling on the AIDS beat. It’s been a holy quest for her.”In any case, Ms. Farber would be lost without her battles. She said that she’s always been fascinated by Stalinism, Communism, the Holocaust, witch hunts; she visits “as many dictatorships as I can.” ”

Seems to us this is going overboard, like the headline – Celia is a paradigm revolutionary in our book, not exactly an anarchist. She is fighting spurious and abusive authority, not all authority, all the time. But perhaps the writer is handicapped by the almost universal inability to conceive that the whole world is wrong on HIV?AIDS. What’s nice is that she dosn’t push it. On the other hand, she doesn’t justify Celia’s quest either.

For most of the deft article as we read it she is respectful of Celia’s work and of her pain, though she doesn’t seem to be entirely clear that Celia was and is not always as she is painted here. Celia’s present preoccupation with the hostility aroused by her work quoted throughout the piece is to our ear the sound of nervous fatigue, coming after twenty years where huge demands were made of the talented author with very little recompense, by the standards of the market today.

——————————————————-

“And this may be the genius of the piece: by depicting so well the plight of a literary victim, it makes exactly the point that Celia wants to demonstrate in her work, which is that it is the censorship which is killing people.”

——————————————————–

Sheelah hints at the financial stress over the years mentioning Celia’s jobs as dishwasher etc but she doesn’t seem to realize that this sacrifice is far from over. Celia is suffering from nervous exhaustion after two years of superhuman effort with not enough emotional and professional support from colleagues or editors, let alone proper pay for her efforts and talent. This is the price demanded of those who flout the current media-science-industrial complex, at least in HIV?AIDS.

That is why the charmingly unpretentious picture of Celia by Melanie Flood accompanying the article (titled Celia Farber in her apartment on the Upper West Side) looks a little more bedraggled than a personal publicist would like (on the Web only — in the print version, where the inside full page is headlined “Celia’s Offensive”, nice pun, the photo looks absolutely beautiful, for some reason). Here is another one of Celia two years ago, looking a good deal fresher at a HEAL gathering in Manhattan, where her colleague in paradigm dismantling, scientist Harvey Bialy, gave a lectern-pounding reading from his “Oncogenes” book. It was the night she heard from Lapham that her piece was accepted.

Here at least she does get credit for her achievements. The “rag tag band” of dissenters would still look like 9/11 conspiracy theorists except for two things that have emboldened them recently, Kolhatkar reports. These are Farber’s twin literary successes – the big piece in Harper’s March issue and now her new book that is just out (July 1st publication date, but already available for three weeks on Amazon), a collection of her key pieces on HIV?AIDS.

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Commercial interruption: Let’s hope a lot of people buy “Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS”, as they should – it is a great read for any nonscientist (or scientist) who wants to catch up with this scene, unique in its vast social and political distortion of sense and science, which Celia describes with a true writer’s thoughtfulness and clarity in vivid story telling from the front lines.

The paperback, which has the cover design of a literary classic and deserves it, includes the first draft of what she wrote for Lapham, a lovely, telling piece which centers on Peter Duesberg’s travails as well as his science; the biographical part was eventually displaced in Harper’s by the newer topic of cooked and lethal AIDS drug trials. It’s worth the price of the book – but so is every well told, illuminating chapter, in which science derailed is described with the clarity of an on-the-scene report from a critical observer.

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

As we say, the Observer piece falls apart at the end, we find, though others may read it differently. The last paragraphs shortchange Farber’s intellectual cause by reducing it to reflex anti-fascism and saying that she has taken refuge in appealing merely for free debate. Here given Celia’s deep moral sensibility and her outrage at the deaths of patients, and her twenty year championing of Duesberg’s consistent position that there is nothing in the HIV argument, we expect that she will feel insulted and cheapened.

By focusing her outrage on her opposition’s desire to silence dissent rather than on the actual scientific arguments, Ms. Farber finds protection under the idea that no subject or theory, regardless of its implications, should be taken off the table; continuing to ask the questions can be more important than answering them.

But even if it finally does go off the rails in this way, perhaps due to hasty editing, this is in many ways the first intelligent, worldly article about the leading HIV?AIDS lay critic and her cause, and it is certainly unfair to expect a young woman however smart who is unfamiliar with the field of unscience involved to catch up with the real situation in only three weeks.

All in all, for a gossip piece this is a brilliant encapsulation of a unique spirit and her predicament, even if the forces that have led to it – and the validity of her cause – are not fully depicted by the profiler. Truth to tell, it seems pretty clear that in her extended conversations and emailing with a very thorough reporter her subject neglected the issue herself.

And this may be the genius of the piece: by depicting so well the plight of a literary victim, it makes exactly the point that Celia wants to demonstrate in her work, which is that it is the censorship which is killing people.

AIDS Anarchist Farber

Hops Back in Whirlwind

By Sheelah Kolhatkar

On the night of Saturday, June 10, the controversial journalist Celia Farber was holding court at a quiet cocktail party in a roped-off section of the Roosevelt Hotel bar in midtown Manhattan. “What does an animal do when they know they’re going to be killed?” she asked, her voice taut, as a handful of people looked on. “They play dead.”

Ms. Farber was in the midst of an anecdote about one of her preferred subjects, her persecution at the hands of a vast network of enemies, and its effect on her writing career. “I’ve been there,” she continued. “You lose interest in doing well; you stop caring about being successful.”

Most of the 15 or so at the party were members of Rethinking AIDS, a group of scientists, writers and others who propagate the radical idea that H.I.V. does not cause AIDS. One of Ms. Farber’s beliefs, for example, is that the scientific explanations for the AIDS epidemic are corrupted by drug companies that seek to show that AIDS is amenable to drug therapies—profitable ones.

Their esoteric ideas have far-reaching implications, to say the least. If H.I.V. doesn’t cause AIDS, then “safe sex,” drug “cocktails”—in short, everything that the medical establishment says about prevention and treatment—is wrong.

Not unsurprisingly, the group is small, marginalized and the object of intense criticism in public-health circles. (They view themselves as AIDS “dissenters,” while their critics refer to them as “denialists.”)

Ms. Farber is a central figure among the AIDS “dissenters.” She isn’t a scientist herself; instead, she champions the scientific work of Peter Duesberg, a cancer researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. Ms. Farber sees herself as some sort of modern-day Clarence Darrow to Mr. Duesberg’s Scopes—an advocate whose lonely battle will be vindicated through the prisms of history and science.

Her two-decade career has been dominated by her efforts to keep debate about the dissenting AIDS theory alive, and nearly every piece she publishes on the subject triggers a seismic backlash. An Op-Ed piece in The New York Times on June 4 accused her camp of “Deadly Quackery”: “The truth is that H.I.V. does exist, that it causes AIDS and that antiretroviral drugs can prevent H.I.V. transmission and death from AIDS,” it read. “To deny these facts is not just wrong—it’s deadly.”

One could argue that Ms. Farber gave her life for her obsession with the cause. A few months ago, she and her ragtag band of colleagues might have been considered, by some, to be one step away from the conspiracy theorist’s asylum, next in line behind the 9/11-was-an-inside-job crowd. But they’ve been feeling emboldened by two recent successes: the publication of Ms. Farber’s first book, Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS, by the independent press Melville House; and, perhaps more significantly, the appearance of a 15-page article by Ms. Farber in the March issue of Harper’s Magazine.

Indeed, as one party attendee pointed out, not everyone in the media world regards Celia Farber as a petrified animal. “There are so many people who admire her,” said Thor Halvorssen, a personal friend of Ms. Farber, who was there solely to lend her moral support. He paused. “[Former Harper’s editor] Lewis Lapham, for one.”

UP CLOSE, MS. FARBER, 40, HAS A DAMAGED, fragile air. She is tall and exceedingly thin, with limbs that look as if they might snap to the touch. Her facial features are dramatically chiseled, with large brown eyes topped off with carefully tousled blond hair. “After all these years, the spotlight is on me,” Ms. Farber said, sipping a glass of white wine. “It’s come at the same moment when I’ve ceased to care any more. There comes a point where I don’t crave respectability, I don’t expect to get it from the outside.”

Ms. Farber sees AIDS through the lens of totalitarianism (American society in general, American science specifically and the National Institutes of Health all earned the label). To engage with her is to enter a surreal plane where her intensity threatens to overwhelm. Dozens of e-mails arrive in the night filled with angry rantings, impassioned pleas, links to articles and letters to the editor—all offering a glimpse into the emotional seesaw that is her existence. She seems riven by anxious energy, and her long fingers tend to flutter around her temples like butterflies as she speaks.

At the Roosevelt, she was seated on a couch next to her friend Mr. Halvorssen, a preppy libertarian with a cowlick, whose preoccupations that night included the evils of communism, political correctness, environmentalists and the charges against the Duke lacrosse team.

“I’m an unusual subject in that for years it’s been written that I’m in denial of reality, a mass murderer …,” Ms. Farber said.

At that moment, Barry Farber—Ms. Farber’s father, the anti-communist and conservative radio host who ran for Mayor of New York in 1977—ambled over with a big grin, his tie askew.

“We’re talking about your daughter!” Mr. Halvorssen said to him.

“Ah, my favorite subject!” Mr. Farber said in his Southern drawl. He collapsed on the couch and started punching at his cell phone.

“If you are deprived of respectability over time,” Ms. Farber continued, “what happens is, it’s wounding—but eventually you get freed of the addiction to respectability. I think a lot of media people crave respectability.”

Her friend wasn’t buying it; he thinks she is too timid and insecure. “How often in the past two years have you pitched a story?” said Mr. Halvorssen in a scolding tone.

“Um … ,” Ms. Farber said, “I have pitched stories, probably …. ”

“She just does not do it!” Mr. Halvorssen said. “She could get $20,000 a story, she’s so good. But she just. Does. Not. Do. It. She’s still bleeding. If we could just cover these wounds …. ”

“I said this to Lewis Lapham, actually,” Ms. Farber said: “‘You are interfering with my persecution complex!’”

“You see this?” Mr. Halvorssen said. “She has a Joan of Arc complex!”

“A persecution complex does not develop out of nothing,” Ms. Farber said.

AIDS “HAS HAD ME IN ITS JAWS FOR 20 YEARS, and I’ve occasionally tried to get away from it. And I have found that there’s not nearly as much free will as you’d think,” said Ms. Farber. “I am not obsessed with it. I probably seem to be obsessed with it—people probably think, Can’t she shut up about AIDS? But in actual fact, I’ve been trying to, for a long time. But some portion of the culture keeps coming to me and asking me to please address it again.” Ms. Farber, however, is unable to “shut up about” AIDS for very long.

Celia Farber is a New Yorker by birth (she now lives on the Upper West Side). Her mother was a Swedish Pan Am stewardess and a nurse; her father is of Russian Jewish ancestry and grew up in North Carolina. She lived from age 11 to 18 in Sweden, which she described as an oppressive, overly socialist, weird place. She joined the alternative-rock scene, and when she returned to New York she enrolled at N.Y.U. and drummed in bands.

She began writing her infamous AIDS column, called “Words from the Front,” at Spin in 1987.

It was in the midst of the so-called “AIDS war,” when public fear (Ms. Farber likes to call it “mass hysteria”) about the disease was at its peak and there was a scientific space race underway to understand it. But: “I didn’t come in and say, ‘I wanna write about AIDS!’” Ms. Farber said. “I wanted to find something out, ideally something that really needed to be found out and nobody else had found out. That was my thing.”

Her pieces, many of which are collected in her book, raised questions about whether H.I.V. was the sole cause of AIDS, about the side effects of the AIDS drug AZT and about the severity of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Her second installment was an interview with Mr. Duesberg, who is also known for his hypothesis that AIDS is caused by heavy recreational and anti-H.I.V. drug use rather than H.I.V. itself. Mr. Duesberg was shunned by the scientific community after publishing his theory that H.I.V. cannot cause AIDS; Ms. Farber has been aligned with him ever since.

Needless to say, many in the medical establishment, as well as gay and AIDS activists—and Ms. Farber’s own colleagues at Spin—found her columns destructive. Spin’s publisher, Bob Guccione Jr., personally shepherded her pieces into the magazine. “There was always a sense of violence and sabotage,” Ms. Farber said, adopting the cadences of a grizzled war reporter. “There were times when Bob and I had to actually walk the boards to the printer—there were people, copy editors and fact-checkers, who hated the column so much they would cut things out.”

There was also another matter: Ms. Farber was romantically involved with Mr. Guccione, which created resentment in the office. This culminated in 1994 when an employee named Staci Bonner filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit against the magazine and Mr. Guccione.

Ms. Farber had by then gone freelance, gotten married to someone else and given birth to a son just that year. In a time line she provided in an e-mail, she wrote: “The years 1994-1997 were consumed with fighting the charges which culminated in Federal Court, 1997. Hospitalized briefly for suicidal urges. Lost 25 pounds. Lost will to live. Betrayed by best friend at Spin (plaintiff).” She said the trial “absolutely leveled me—it was the darkest, scariest, most traumatic, merciless, brutal thing I’ve ever seen or imagined; it took me 10 years to even begin to want to live again.”

Shortly after that, she went to Los Angeles and spent three months shadowing O.J. Simpson for Esquire, which resulted in a sensational cover story in 1998. She wrote for Mr. Guccione at his new magazine, Gear, and had an AIDS column on the Web site Ironminds. She separated from her husband. She organized a concert called “Rock the Boat,” which was intended to raise awareness about alternative AIDS theories; the concert fell apart, and Ms. Farber said that “financial decimation” followed. She worked at a series of odd jobs—in hotels, trade shows, making candles, catering, dishwashing.

Around 2001, Tina Brown commissioned her to write a story about gene therapy for Talk. The piece was killed. She said that she has been broke, and has given up on journalism, ever since.

(There was one bright spot: Ms. Farber said in an e-mail that after she wrote a piece for the New York Press about Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment case in 2004, the founder of American Apparel, Dov Charney, called her up “yelling about the whole fake feminism ordeal.” Mr. Charney had been dealing with his own harassment accusations, and he hired her as a “consultant and writer.” Ms. Farber referred to Mr. Charney as her “secret benefactor.”)

She speaks of her Harper’s article as if it was a divine accident, but in reality Mr. Lapham was the puppet master. After meeting him at a party several years ago, Ms. Farber said he urged her to pitch him stories. “He said, ‘I really need someone to write about science for me,’” Ms. Farber recalled. “He said, ‘I really have a sense that it’s kind of … ,’ and then he paused, and I said, ‘Diabolical?’”

She eventually proposed a piece about the same H.I.V.-does-not-cause-AIDS virologist she’s been championing since Spin. “I had no intention whatsoever of writing about AIDS in Harper’s,” Ms. Farber said, somewhat implausibly. “The original story was about Peter Duesberg’s cancer theory. And I remember saying to Lewis Lapham: ‘The AIDS question—we’ll just fly right over that, right?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, we’ll fly right over that.’” (Mr. Lapham declined to speak to The Observer.)

Ms. Farber turned in that piece, which appears as the first chapter in her book. Mr. Lapham handed the text over to an editor, Roger Hodge, to edit. While it was being worked on, news of a problematic AIDS drug trial appeared in the press. Ms. Farber brought it to her editor’s attention and said that she was urged to look into that story: “I felt like, ‘Oh, God, what a pain in the ass. I don’t wanna go into that extraordinarily difficult, impossible, explosive, life-destroying stuff!’” Ms. Farber said. “But you don’t say that to your editors.”

The piece that ultimately ran was an awkward marriage of the two stories. Predictably, it triggered a considerable level of anger directed at Harper’s. Letters were published both in support of the article and taking issue with some of Ms. Farber’s contentions. The AIDS researcher Robert Gallo and doctors from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, among others, wrote in protest.

Ms. Farber said that she’d tried to warn Messrs. Lapham and Hodge of her reputation and biases. “In this discredited little cadre of scientists, I’m their champion,” she said she told them. In an e-mail, Mr. Hodge, who is now Harper’s’ top editor, wrote: “Yes, we knew what we were getting into.” He also wrote: “Celia is an excellent reporter and I hope she brings us more good stories in the future.”

It’s not entirely surprising that a figure such as Ms. Farber would appeal to a particular brand of right-thinking liberalism, the type embodied by Mr. Lapham’s former magazine. By focusing her outrage on her opposition’s desire to silence dissent rather than on the actual scientific arguments, Ms. Farber finds protection under the idea that no subject or theory, regardless of its implications, should be taken off the table; continuing to ask the questions can be more important than answering them.

When asked how the endless contrarianism might have impacted Ms. Farber professionally, Mr. Guccione, another believer in the “fostering debate” approach to publishing, said: “I think she has paid a terrific price.” He continued: “You know, the flip side of that is, I think she spent too much time dwelling on the AIDS beat. It’s been a holy quest for her.”

In any case, Ms. Farber would be lost without her battles. She said that she’s always been fascinated by Stalinism, Communism, the Holocaust, witch hunts; she visits “as many dictatorships as I can.” She described herself alternately as a lapsed hard leftist, a proto-anarchist, a libertarian sympathizer and a “bit punk.” When asked if she somehow took pleasure in the turmoil triggered by her journalism, she said: “I would vastly prefer a quiet life, without roiling bands of furious AIDS activists—I mean treatment activists—smearing my name all over the world. I mean, I don’t like it. I don’t take it lightly.”

Then she thought for a moment. “I think I was built to take it,” Ms. Farber said. “I just had a very, very unsparing childhood. And I was never any ‘the world is my oyster’ kind of person. Things were always tough, and I developed kind of an identity, I guess, where maybe I relished something about the dynamic of being attacked. It’s a really good question …. It traumatizes me very much. Less now than it used to. I find it boring now. Very, very boring.”

Newsflash: Mathias Rath exits South Africa

June 28th, 2006

According to what we hear, the vitamin advocate, and one time associate of Linus Pauling, Mathias Rath is pulling up stakes and leaving South Africa.

We are sorry to hear it. Rath may not be the world’s greatest scientific mind, academically speaking, but he seems to have very much the right idea in researching and promoting nutritional restoratives in African “AIDS”.

That is our judgement according to the best scientific literature, which is ignored and derided by the activists and medical authorities who have attacked Rath as strenuously as they can politically and in the courts, under the illusion that they are supported by the mainstream medical literature.

Apparently the power of Thabo Mbeki and his Health Minister are now not enough to protect him and the political struggle has been won by the denialists of South Africa, by whom we mean those who deny the mainstream scientific papers which show that the pandemic is impossible because the heterosexual infectiousness of the supposed cause is nil.

Does this mean the HIV?AIDS critics have lost the battle in South Africa and Thabo Mbeki’s rare capacity to raise the obvious questions is now spiked?

We hope not.

John Moore shoots self in foot with Amazon review of Harvey Bialy

June 26th, 2006


Spoiler panning of “Oncogenes” boosts sales and delights author

The remarkable John Moore has posted a review of Harvey Bialy’s book about Peter Duesberg on Amazon, and his evident motivation of doing the mad professor an injury seems to have backfired. Soon after the screed appeared the sales rating for the book shot up sevenfold.

As readers here may know, “Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg” is a unique scientific biography with a bombshell message. Bialy’s book is the story of the career of a brilliant scientific mind written by a peer, explaining rather convincingly why both of them believe that the highflying current paradigms of HIV?AIDS and cancer genes are both based on fantasy rather than fact.

The tongue twister of a title reflects the double edged appeal of the pages inside, paradigm politics mixed with science that is a hard read in parts for the layman. But the revelations are always reliable. This is shown by the fact that the book has not been attacked before, even though it is a sort of ticking time bomb which undermines the fond beliefs and mightily threatens the position of all those who live off the perks of the prevailing paradigms in two fields, HIV?AIDS and cancer.

For two years no one hostile to its message has dared launch a review trashing it or challenging its contents in any public space, following the one long and laudatory review by George Miklos in Nature Biotechnology when it first came out. Even armchair ranters on the Web have known better.

Until yesterday, that is.

The policy so far has been to quietly ignore it. So with all its unique qualities as a convincingly disturbing guide as to how billions are being misspent the book after two years was quietly sitting at a respectable Amazon rating of 200,000 or so when Moore wrote this appreciation this weekend.

A travesty of science, June 25, 2006

Reviewer: John P Moore, PhD (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

It is hard to imagine that this book was actually written by a professional scientist. The author displays only his ignorance and his prejudices when championing the extraordinary argument that HIV does not cause AIDS. This theory, of course, is utter nonsense, but it is a nonsense that was created by Peter Duesberg, the maverick scientist who is the focus of the book. Hence the author is writing a hagiography of one of his heroes, not a fair and accurate representation of the scientific facts and moral truths about HIV/AIDS. The book should therefore be read (or preferably not read) in that political context: it appeals to the small clique of AIDS denialists who think like the author does, and it should be ignored by anyone who respects science and the truth. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and when it comes to HIV and AIDS, the author and his hero are prime examples of the aphorism in practice. For factual information on HIV/AIDS, interested people should consult http://www.aidstruth.org or the NIAID’s web-site, amongst other bona fide resources.

John P. Moore, PhD

Professor of Microbiology and Immunology,

Weill Medical College of Cornell University,

New York

A literary stab in the heart, right? Not exactly. Soon enough Bialy, instead of being miffed, was chortling in email to us “Can you dig this? It already has produced enough sales to get me an only 2 left in stock! What a guy.” To Moore he wrote the following appreciative letter:

do you always do as I ask?

it was not in nature or the ny times (neither would publish you now) but free and easy amazon was just too tempting. i believe my sales rank was in 200,000 range before you posted. when i looked last and discovered your wonderful, wonderful review it was 29,000 and there were only 2 copies left in stock.

what can i say except please be very, very careful crossing the street, your value to the insurgency grows exponentially almost (you do know what that word means, don’t you? do you know what a sigmoid curve looks like and what it means? probably not, but you are beginning to experience the part where the slope gets very positive very fast.

Why is Bialy so chuffed? His reasoning goes as follows. When a book is so pristine that it has no real flaw, then an obviously over the top hostile review simply piques the interest of the intelligent reader, the only kind he wishes to collect. Apparently the Duesberg book won about 200 new sales from the cheaply hostile Nature review, according to the publisher, Regnery.

The current clash between Bialy and Moore is not the first, as it happens. Moore wrote an equally childishly damning review for Nature of Peter Duesberg’s book Inventing the AIDS Virus (Regnery) in 1996 (see below). Science editor at the time of Nature Biotechnology, Bialy called Moore up at Sloane Kettering and lambasted him as not worthy of shining Duesberg’s shoes. The hapless Moore, a politically innocent Brit twit fresh from Cambridge was taken aback, to say the least, to be exposed to the fiery Bialy’s scorching opinion.

Moore had been been put up to it by David Ho, according to Bialy’s sources. As noted in his Comment post here yesterday, Bialy suspects that the diatribe Moore penned as an Op Ed piece in the Times recently was also instigated by Ho, a short researcher whose breakthrough concept of cocktail therapy for HIV?AIDS won him a Time cover in the 90s, even though the scientific theory it was based upon is now laughed at even by the HIV?AIDS establishment.

Ho is now leading the effort to find a vaccine for HIV, which even mainstream commentators such as Abraham Karpas of Cambridge suggest may be irrational: “The immune response to HIV can be compared to that of a live viral vaccine. It explains why most HIV-infected individuals remain well for years.” (Human retroviruses in leukaemia and AIDS: reflections on their discovery, biology and epidemiology. – Biol. Rev. 2004, 79, pp 911-933)

Anyway now Bialy is bouncing around in email heaven sending copies of this interchange to selected friends and enemies (one unfortunate recipient was Martin Delaney, who responded desperately in large capital letters, STOP SENDING ME THIS DRIVEL, and when Bialy reminded him of filters, explained at some length why he couldn’t use one – on his network a filter would block Bialy communications from everyone else, and “While I doubt anyone here has any useful dialogue with you, it’s not appropriate for me to deprive others of the right to watch your little cat fights.”)

Bialy’s logic is devilish and apparently valid. His book is the opposite of Moore’s rant, as is obvious to any working mind. It is a precise and revealing professional biography about the discoveries and travails of a gifted and intellectually penetrating scientist, who when compared with his opponents, the most prominent being David Baltimore, Robert Gallo and Anthony Fauci, can reasonably be called a genius. Both author and his subject are distinguished as truthseekers rather than self-promoters, counter to the modern trend.

Half of the text consists of descriptions of the derailing of science in HIV?AIDS and cancer genes, showing how the academically impeccable Duesberg has debunked the hollow theories in both fields and suggested better alternatives, all to a conspicuous lack of enthusiasm on the part of the socio-economic systems built on both.

The other half interweaves the scientific story with telling accounts of the backstage dealings which the distinguished German-American’s scientific challenge to the mainstream have provoked – ostracism, unfunding, almost impossible hurdles to publication, secret offers of redemption if the honest professor acquiesced, and the like.

A correctly edited version of Moore’s review might go roughly as follows:

It is easy to imagine that this book was actually written by a professional scientist. The author displays only his knowledge and prejudice in favor of good science when championing the extraordinary argument that HIV does not cause AIDS. This theory, of course, solves at one stroke the many puzzling indications that the current paradigm is utter nonsense, and the puzzles evaporate as the evidence is reinterpreted by Peter Duesberg, the maverick scientist who is the focus of the book. Hence the author is very justifiably writing a hagiography of one of his heroes, a fair and accurate representation of the scientific facts and moral truths about the sometimes appalling behavior of the leaders of HIV/AIDS. The book should therefore be read (preferably not read once, but at least twice) in that political context: it appeals to the growing crowd of AIDS critics who think like the author does, and it should be cherished by anyone who respects science and the truth. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and when it comes to HIV and AIDS, the author and his hero expose prime examples of the aphorism in practice. The additional knowledge they provide is enough to enable readers to avoid the gross dangers to which they otherwise will be exposed. For factual information on HIV/AIDS, interested people should consult http://www.newaidsreview.org

You would think that Moore, from his long ago experience of having his ear scorched by Bialy at Sloane-Kettering, would know better than to get into a cat-fight with the impatient idealist, who has become notorious as an email and blog provocateur in the last two years, since discovering the true power of the Web after his book was published.

From the safety of Cuernavaca, Mexico, Bialy, who became financially independent following a lucky investment, has become the most unrestrained tormenter of both the HIV?AIDS establishment and its critics, sending capitalized excoriation and challenges to both sides in email which quickly reaches heights of red hot chile expression that even Bialy describes as “bizarre, crazy and off putting to some – you have my permission to say so”.

His email madness has method to it, however. Bialy dismisses the promoters of the HIV?AIDS paradigm and other questionable science as “insecure poseurs, all of them without a single bit of self worth, because all their achivements are grounded on lies. So unlike truthtellers they don’t have real responses when poked but react like robots. I am an expert at poking them, I delight in it and it takes me no time at all. Anybody who is into this thing has to know they are frauds, just as Baltimore and Gallo know it.”

Bialy compares his performance on the Web, where he orchestrates provocative web discussions on blogs such as DeanEsmay or Aetiology in much the same way as his email exchanges, with his 35 years of studies in Tai Chi. “People like that are puppets. You can make them do anything. Twist them and turn them. If I was 5 per cent as good at Tai Chi as I am in email I would have my own school!”

On blogs, he engages with the HIV activists who enter discussions to impede progress – “these morons” – to build tutorial discussions, such as the one from Dean Esmay’s blog last year that reached a record 159 pages, which has been downloaded ten thousand times, Bialy estimates. These are made available as Internet ‘books’ that can be found on the AIDS Wiki at Insurgency Blogging Documents.

He doesn’t expect ever to change the minds of Moore or any of the HIV?AIDS faithful, he says. “Not after twenty years of vested interest. Maybe they really believe it. The New York Times is the equivalent to a public figure who, after speaking forcefully on one side of a grave and controversial issue for quite a long time, cannot afford to advocate the opposite. I recall Malcolm X coming back from Mecca and announcing that ‘the white man is not the devil. Capitalism is the devil.’ Not long after that he was shot.”

“I function from the premise that the major media is closed to the corrective view of AIDS, so I fight on the Internet and in email as an insurgent. I know that I will never change the mind of anyone in the media power structure but I have every expectation of taking it down.”

—————–

Here is a copy (from the new anti-HIV critic site AIDS Truth, which is the current reference collection of misleading defenses of the HIV?AIDS paradigm) of John Moore’s extraordinary self-condemnation in Nature, his 1996 review bashing Duesberg and his “Inventing the AIDS Virus”. This earlier effort, starting with its slightly silly pun of a title “A Duesberg, Adieu!”, trumps his recent New York Times Op-Ed editorial, “Deadly Quackery”, on every parameter of shame. For sheer greenhorn effrontery, coupled with its factual inaccuracy and scientific misapprehension, this masterwork has to be read to be believed. Some of the insufficient logic is apparent to any layman, but it is the unselfconscious crudity of the schoolboy insults which is most grievous. Apparently Moore is the original adolescent Web flamer, writing before his time.

À DUESBERG, ADIEU!

John Moore

Nature Volume 380 March 28, 1996

Inventing the AIDS Virus. By Peter H. Duesberg. Regnery: 1996, Pp. 722. $24.95

According to Bryan Ellison, who co-wrote with Peter Duesberg an earlier version of Inventing the AIDS Virus, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tried to suppress the publication of this book. I can’t think why they would want to bother. But conspiracy theories so pervade the book and that I shouldn’t be in the least surprised if Oliver Stone does the movie.

Duesberg’s central thesis is that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a harmless virus, and that life-style (especially recreational drug use) is the principal reason why people die of AIDS. The use of AZT as an AIDS therapy is blamed for exacerbating the problem. In the first section of his book, Duesberg tells the story of an obscure syndrome (SMON) that was present in Japan from the 1950s to the 1970s. Despite persistent theories of a viral cause, SMON was found to be a toxicological problem caused by anti-diarrhoea drugs sometimes used to treat SMON symptoms. Duesberg draws an analogy from these events to AIDS, with AZT analogous to the anti-diarrhoea drugs. An interesting tale, but documenting this and a few other old medical mistakes scarcely proves that AZT causes AIDS and that HIV is a mere passenger virus. But according to Duesberg, “No fatal viral disease is known to cause death in nearly all infected people — except the paradoxical ‘AIDS virus’.” Try telling that to those who came across Ebola-Zäire; their mortality rate was about 80 per cent, for this virus is literally more lethal than a bullet in the head.

The book contains no new revelations on the ‘non-link’ between HIV and AIDS since September 1995, when the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases released its 61-page document on The Relationship Between the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. This contains all the facts, and I strongly recommend people to read it. Of course, seeing that it was written by government scientists, it will no doubt be dismissed by Duesberg’s sympathizers as part of a continuing cover-up. For according to Duesberg, the AIDS epidemic became the “salvation” of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) of the CDC is described as the “medical CIA” and ex-members are said to “have obtained prominent positions in the media”. One even edits a scientific journal. How sinister! Whatever next? Essentially, Duesberg’s case is that the fundamental purpose of the CDC is to invent medical emergencies for the National Institutes of Health to resolve – anything is justified so long as the tax dollars just keep on rollin’. Implicit, and often explicit, is that tens of thousands of health-care professionals and research scientists are either too stupid to realize that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, or too venal to do anything about it for fear of losing income from the government or drug companies.

Duesberg mounts an assault on the virology “establishment”, with special emphasis on the tumour virologists of the 1960s and 1970s. Researchers mistakes, real and opined, are gleefully documented – a veritable virological Who’s Who is castigated. And the trend continues when the HIV section is finally reached. There, all the ‘big name’ retrovirologists of the 1980s are targeted, and the early scandals of AIDS research are picked over yet again. So many scientists and so many of the “mistakes” are listed that I was eventually reminded of the old joke about the brigade of guards on parade, with one little guardsman horribly out of step. When the drill sergeant bawls at him, an old lady attacks him with an umbrella saying: “Leave him alone, my boy Peter is in step, it’s all them other so-and-so’s what are the problem!” All this ancient history is very entertaining, but it hardly seems central to the purpose of the book. Or is it?

Although some vengeance might be expected from a virologist whose eminent career was ended by the AIDS epidemic, one might have wished for a better understanding of modern virology from Duesberg. One of his main complaints about HIV and other ‘slow’ viruses is that they “violate the laws of virology”. But what are these laws? Was it carved in stone that the Lord God spake unto the retroviridiae and commanded: “Thou shalt not kill”? The great beauty of biology – indeed, of science in general – is that as knowledge advances, so paradigms shift; if HIV acts differently from the viruses Duesberg grew up with, what of it? And herein, I suspect, lies the basic problem: Duesberg clearly has an outstanding knowledge of the relatively simple avian leukaemia viruses with which he made his professional reputation. But he draws his views on how HIV ‘should’ behave from his early research experience; he has never published any papers based on his own work with HIV at the laboratory bench. Reading the AIDS literature can take one only so far: experimenting gives active researchers a whole new dimension to their knowledge.

I can list here only a few of the more egregious examples of Duesberg’s misunderstanding of HIV virology. He states that “retroviruses do not kill cells”. This assertion is not even correct for all avian leukaemia viruses, and anyone who has cultured HIV can attest to its prominent cytopathic effects. HIV is not a leukaemia (onco)virus; it is a lentivirus, and behaves distinctly differently from the oncoviruses both in vivo and in vitro. To extrapolate from avian leukaemia virus to HIV is like asserting that because one can stroke a pussy-cat with impunity, it is perfectly safe to put one’s head in a lion’s mouth. Duesberg sees a fatal paradox in the fact that HIV can be grown in permanently infected, immortal T-cell lines in vitro, yet is supposed to cause AIDS by killing T cells in vivo. There is no such paradox. When a chronically infected cell culture is started, clones of cells relatively resistant to the cytopathic effects of HIV are gradually selected for and eventually take over the culture. There can also be some adaptation of the cells (and virus) to the culture conditions. The principal phenotypic change in the cells is a partial reduction in the surface expression of the HIV receptor, which reduces the extent of cell-killing in the culture. But the HIV produced in these cultures is still highly cytopathic when plated back onto unadapted primary T cells. And sadly, HIV produced from permanent cell lines is pathogenic in vivo – it is today causing disease in at least one accidentally infected laboratory worker.

Duesberg writes: “Only rare luck … can extract HIV from an antibody-positive person”. Perhaps I should get the technicians in our laboratory to buy my lottery tickets; they succeed in isolating HIV almost every time they try. Many of Duesberg’s problems with the pathogenic effects of HIV seem to lie in his belief that HIV is dormant in vivo, that HIV-infected people “never have more than one in every 10,000 T-cells actively producing copies of the virus”. This old canard, derived from research in the mid-1980s, has long since been proved incorrect. In the early days of HIV research, analytical techniques were obviously more primitive than they are now, so why still rely on them? The true figure for the frequency of infected cells is more like 1 in 100, although there is a wide range, depending on the state of disease progression. The documented loss of more than a hundred million T cells a day as a result of the generation of more than a billion virus particles a day attests to the virulence of HIV.

Duesberg points out that the opportunistic infections suffered by AIDS patients are unrelated to each other, and finds this hard to reconcile with any common cause, let alone HIV. The common cause is that opportunistic infections generally happen because of a dysfunctional immune system, and the cause of this dysfunction is usually HIV infection. Of course, there can be other causes – genetic or environmental – but rarely is the dysfunction as devastating as that found in the later stages of HIV infection, and never is it as common.

Duesberg believes that HIV is essentially not a sexually transmitted virus; indeed, the very cover of his book states that “AIDS is not sexually transmitted”. Instead, he argues that “HIV has been passed along from mother to child for many centuries”. The first statement ignores the entire body of data on the epidemiology of HIV spread in the United States and Europe, whereas the second ignores the death rate among children infected by HIV from their mothers; only a tragically small proportion of these children survive long enough to have the chance of having children of their own. How could transmission from mother to child permit sustained HIV spread under these conditions?

Much space is devoted to the thesis that AZT causes AIDS. AZT is decried as a toxic chemical, which of course it is to an extent. So are most chemotherapeutic agents used against cancer. So is paracetamol, rock salt and water if consumed in the wrong quantities. Like all drugs, AZT has a therapeutic window – a dosage that has maximum effect on its target (HIV) and minimal effect on the working of the human body. This fundamental pharmacological principle is critical for understanding AZT’s (admittedly limited) effect on HIV replication in vivo. Adding human interest to an otherwise dry section are the numerous quotations from people who believe that AZT has harmed them or their infants. But what of Elizabeth Glaser, who later founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation? She was infected by HIV through a blood transfusion, and then passed the virus to her children. None of the family used recreational drugs. Sadly, Elizabeth and her daughter Ariel eventually died of AIDS. But at a critical stage of Ariel’s disease, Elizabeth managed to obtain AZT for her unconscious child. I quote below from In the Absence of Angels, Elizabeth’s book: “Three weeks to the day after we started intravenous AZT I walked into Ariel’s room in the morning and she looked up and said “Good morning, Mom. I love you’… She hadn’t talked in three months!… It was the miracle we had been waiting for.” No AIDS researcher pretends that AZT is the answer to AIDS. But neither is it the cause of it. Most people die of AIDS have never taken AZT or any other Western drugs. Neither have the monkeys who die from AIDS induced by molecular clones of SIV, lethal close cousin of HIV.

Duesberg wraps together his twisted facts and illogical lines of argument to create a tangled web to trap the unwary, desperate or gullible. But however much he attempts to gild his writings with philosophies of scientific truth, the reality is that his premises are based not on facts but on faith: faith that he is right, and that everyone else is wrong. This was h is position long before AIDS appeared, as tumour virologists know well.

Duesberg ends by detailing his ostracism by the virology community, his inability to get research funding, the personal snubs he has suffered. The advent of HIV has clearly been a personal tragedy for a once highly respected retrovirologist, but one’s sympathy must of course be tempered by thoughts of those for whom AIDS has been a rather greater personal tragedy. Three years ago, I likened Duesberg to the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. This character had his limbs hacked off one by one, but the game little torso tried to bite the knee-caps from his assailant. The events of the past few years have extracted the Black Knight’s teeth, leaving him with the sole recourse of spitting at those whose views of virology have differed from his over the past two decades. But where the spittle lands is on the graves of those millions of people killed by HIV, and on those it has yet to slaughter. How sad, and how ultimately pathetic.

John Moore is at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, 445 1st Avenue, New York, New York 10016 USA.

Blistering letter to John Moore from Harvey Bialy

June 24th, 2006

Tone a welcome relief from usual submissive politesse of HIV critics

One of the ways that the HIV?AIDS paradigm is successfully maintained while flying in the face of all scientific logic is the fact that the tone of the objections coming from laymen amd laywomen is entirely too respectful of the high status and position and credentials of the paradigm leaders, which is understandable because those who object publicly are usually people who are inexpertly outside the politico-socio-medical career system which feeds off the paradigm.

Luckily science professor Harvey Bialy is neither a compromiser nor compromised. Here is his letter to John Moore, the HIV?AIDS researcher and paradigm lackey who published the recent Op-Ed piece in the New York Times to mislead the readership and conveniently fend off any question about the behavior of Times editors and reporters in this regard over the last twenty years, a chicken which has yet to come home to roost.

Professor Moore:

You have written hither and yon on the Internet, and most recently in the pages of that once excellent and independent newspaper, The New York Times, how critics of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis are not to be taken seriously. The points you raise (if such they can be called) fall within the categories of “scientific-sounding” but unverifiable “facts”, slanderous assaults, and outright fabrications.

And you have the nerve to take a salary from a reputable university.

Since you purport to know so much, I propose a simple debate at the AIDS WIKI on the etiology of AIDS. I further propose it take the following form:

I will present one fully referenced (with PDF files that the moderator can hyperlink) challenge to your favorite and livelihood-sustaining hypothesis, and you can demolish my feeble arguments in the same fashion. We will continue this for one additional round, and then move on to the next challenge. I have maybe seven such challenges.

At the end, we will have produced the first fully documented, real scientific debate on the cause of AIDS. Interesting that after 25 years none has ever been held before, Bob Gallo’s promise in the PNAS in 1989 not withstanding.

Surely this is not too much for someone possessing even a fraction of the neurons and cojones that you pretend to have. Or is it that you are only capable of boldly proclaiming your unsubstantiated “beliefs” when protected by editorial armaments as mighty as The NY Times that you know would never publish any factual contradiction of your filthy and girlish prose masquerading as an academic Op. Ed.

Yours most sincerely,

Harvey Bialy

Resident Scholar

Institute of Biotechnology

National Autonomous University of Mexico

Cuernavaca

9 June 2006

P.S. You might try reading my biography of Professor Duesberg. If you can understand the technical parts, you will actually learn something.

Shockingly rude, or no more that the obtusely servile Moore deserves for promulgating a profitable paradigm which for those who are intelligent enough to know what they are doing (possibly even Moore) might be counted as murder when the accounting for this Enron of science is finally done?

(See An Open Letter and Challenge to Prof. John Moore – from Dr. Harvey “Tryptophan” Bialy)

Brown and Bialy outmaneuver John Moore on Lew Rockwell

June 21st, 2006


Op-Ed author of “Deadly Quackery” told who are the real “denialists” by AIDS Wiki founder, and professor

A remarkable article, Who Are the Real AIDS Denialists? – Testing the Moore Assertion by the philosopher-mathematician Darin Brown, the founder of the AIDS Wiki, appears on the libertarian site this morning (Wed Jun 21).

Brown presents a zinger of a proposal, after tracking the email exchange which erupted when the intellectually brilliant biographer of Duesberg and his science, Harvey Bialy, challenged the understandably reluctant John Moore to a seven point exchange on the etiology of AIDS.

Despite his initial contemptuous dismissal Moore got lured into an exchange which ended with him comparing their doubts over HIV and AIDS with someone who “thought the moon was made of green cheese” (the cliche betrays than John Moore is another embarrassment to the reputation of Brit expatriates, joining Andrew Sullivan and Nick Bennett).

Any scientist who claims that HIV does not cause AIDS (or that HIV does not exist) is simply not credible, essentially as a point of definition. The evidence is so overwhelming that a credible scientist could not fail to understand and accept it… Would astrophysicists and geologists debate with people who believed the moon was made of green cheese?”

Darin Brown corrects this assertion by pointing out that Science thought the debate worth holding in 1988, and that the discussion was arbitrarily halted by editor Dan Koshland before resolution.

Brown relaunches Bialy’s challenge to editors of Nature and Science

Brown – in what may be a watershed move in the age of the Web – then revives Bialy’s idea of harassing the editors of Science and Nature today with a request that they take a straw poll of their readers to see how many of them would support a rematch, this time a series of debates between David Baltimore and Peter Duesberg on the cause of AIDS.

All that is required is to take an anonymous, electronic straw poll of the readership of Nature and Science, the world’s two most prominent science journals, asking whether they would support a series of debates, organized and held under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, between Peter Duesberg and David Baltimore (the two most prominent and best-credentialed spokespersons for the two sides) on the cause of AIDS.

The idea was previously rejected as a petition from the Committee for the Reappraisal of HIV/AIDS to those editors, since that group (known for short as Rethinking AIDS) thought that there was no more chance of the editors taking such a suggestion seriously than devoting a special issue to the topic, which has been anathema ever since 1988, due to the active and public hostility of Anthony Fauci and every other paradigm promoter in HIV?AIDS science, which may or may not have to do with the bountiful rewards that it brings to them in their work. Such promoters include the editors of both Science and Nature, of course, then and since.

But Bialy is no fool and his purpose was not to convince the editors of Science and Nature to mend their ways, but to expose the situation for what it is – political censorship of first class science, by the very gatekeepers themselves. As the Romans said, Who shall guard the guardians?

Now Brown writes:

If you would like to see this experiment performed, you may meaningfully contribute by sending a joint email to Don Kennedy and Philip Campbell, (the editors of Science and Nature respectively) expressing your agreement with the letter above (and carbon-copying me) so we can, in the words of Prof. Moore, “keep at the maths…someone has to do it, after all.” (Please address them by name in your email.) In contradistinction to the “Moore Assertion,” we present the “Brown/Bialy Conjecture”:

“No matter how many emails are received by the editors of Science and Nature in support of the above experiment to test the ‘Moore Assertion,’ they will never allow such an experiment to take place.”

We speculate that the reason is because they know full well what the uncomfortable result would be.

The ploy has all the earmarks of Bialy’s convoluted logic, and there seems to us some possibility that, like the members of Rethinking AIDS, readers may not get the point. And we are not quite sure they will not be right. Will the inevitable scorn of the proposal by the editors of Science and Nature prove that they wish actively to censor the debate, or merely that they consider the proposal silly?

Silly – or subtle?

The proposal, after all, is to poll their readers’ opinions on the matter. They might validly feel that to hold such a poll is to imply that they think that the debate should be renewed. They might balk at that because they genuinely feel that the issue is decided, and therefore such a debate is a waste of time and not called for.

This has always been the subtle catch-22 of the HIV?AIDS debate on the cause of AIDS. If people genuinely judge that an issue is settled to their own satisfaction, then they are not actively censoring the debate when they refuse to endorse it, since their reason is that the argument of the HIV critics is not so strong and threatening that it must be censored, but too weak, and therefore should not be supported because it will waste everyone’s time.

Of course, anyone with a working intelligence who has studied the issue for more than a few hours can see very well that the HIV critics have overwhelming arguments to review the cause of AIDS, since as Peter Duesberg has repeatedly demonstrated without rebuttal, the scientific evidence for HIV turns out not to be “overwhelming” at all, as is so often claimed, by Anthony Fauci and his many Moore’s, but distinctly underwhelming.

In fact, underwhelming to the vanishing point, for there is no good scientific reason yet offered under the sun or moon as to why one should believe such a claim, as the unanswered papers by Peter Duesberg have clearly shown for twenty years, except the single reason that everyone else believes in it as the “consensus” belief, a tautology which satisfies everyone who wishes to believe it but no one who needs to justify it. In other words, the belief is a matter of faith and collegiality which serves emotional and financial interests but offers no defenses at all against scientific examination.

But this fact doesn’t prove that the editors of Science and Nature don’t firmly believe in HIV, or believe the case against it is so very strong that it must be repressed. In fact, we are very sure they do believe it, since doubting HIV in their circles is a one way express ticket to obscurity and ostracism. Hard to be an HIV skeptic and edit either journal very effectively.

This genuine belief in HIV is what their inevitable scornful response to any such proposal as a straw poll of their readers will come from, unless they are secretly independent minds who have troubled to examine the case for themselves and are going to discreetly become allies of the critics by going along with the proposal.

Not very likely. So what will Bialy’s caper prove? We wait to see if anyone else thinks it makes sense: Will his proposal, if taken up by large numbers of people emailing Don Kennedy and Philip Campbell, expose

a) their recognition that the challenge to HIV and all the fruits it brings (delicious to some, poisonous to others) is so dangerous it must be actively repressed

or

b) their belief that the paradigm is an incontrovertible fact and that it is political suicide and useless time wasting to give it to their readers to respond to, especially since the readers are bound to reject it?

We are afraid that it is b) and even if it is a) there will be no way of telling, so the whole exercise is pointless.

Much better for Darin Brown and Harvey Bialy to run the poll themselves.

Or will a Perfect Storm sink HIV?AIDS?

But then – and this is an example of Bialy’s fiendish acuity, which is so often displayed in his book, “Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: The Life and Scientific Times of Peter H. Duesberg”, a sine qua non of informed understanding of this vexed debate – that is precisely what they will do and are doing.

The numbers of people emailing will be their poll, a poll of the public at large, including presumably no small number of Nature and Science readers, on their wish to reopen the can or coffin of worms which, scientifically speaking, have been wriggling for twenty years eating the stillborn theory of HIV causing immune deficiency, stillborn according to the most tested scientific literature on the topic.

Stillborn, in fact, as we recently showed, according to the very first papers on the topic by Robert “I discovered HIV in the mail” Gallo, which showed clearly that HIV was totally insufficient even to qualify as a candidate for causing AIDS, let alone win the prize.

Whatever John Moore says, then, it seems he is outmaneuvered. If this email attack builds, it may prove to be the Perfect Storm that sinks the merry cruise liner of HIV?AIDS.

Perhaps the effort will fizzle at a few dozen or hundred, but Lew Rockwell being a popular libertarian site, and libertarians being by nature for freedom of debate and against censorship, the chance of this building into thousands or even tens of thousands of emails over time are not nil.

Who Are the Real AIDS Denialists? – Testing the ‘Moore Assertion’

by Darin Brown

A very interesting and instructive exchange between myself, Harvey Bialy and the New York Times-celebrated Op. Ed. author Prof. John P. Moore, self-appointed “Major General in the War on AIDS” and spokesperson for “The Scientific Community,” recently appeared on the AIDS Wiki. The exchange was prompted by an offer to Prof. Moore to participate in a moderated debate with Dr. Bialy, who wrote in part:

“I propose a simple debate at the AIDS Wiki on the etiology of AIDS. I further propose it take the following form:

I will present one fully referenced (with PDF files that the moderator can hyperlink) challenge to your favorite and livelihood-sustaining hypothesis, and you can demolish my feeble arguments in the same fashion. We will continue this for one additional round, and then move on to the next challenge. I have maybe seven such challenges.

At the end, we will have produced the first fully documented, real scientific debate on the cause of AIDS. Interesting that after 25 years none has ever been held before, Bob Gallo’s promise in the PNAS in 1989 not withstanding.”

Within the hour, Prof. Moore had replied to me by email:

“Participating in any public forum with the likes of Bialy would give him a credibility that he does not merit. The science community does not ‘debate’ with the AIDS denialists, it treats them with the utter contempt that they deserve and exposes them for the charlatans that they are. Kindly do not send me any further communications on this or any related matter.”

Despite Prof. Moore’s expressed wish to discontinue communication, he in fact continued conversation with Dr. Bialy and myself for several days thereafter. By the end of this exchange, Moore had produced (and “more” than thrice) what we now call “The Moore Assertion.” In the professor’s inimitable style,

“… I’ll expand a very little…about why it’s not appropriate to ‘debate’ with HIV denialists who also happen to be scientists, by profession or self-proclaimed… The principal reason is that there’s nothing to debate… A secondary one is that there’s nobody worth debating with. One should only debate science with credible scientists, and no credible scientist could ever dispute the causative role of HIV infection in AIDS. I repeat, in case you have missed the point: Any scientist who claims that HIV does not cause AIDS (or that HIV does not exist) is simply not credible, essentially as a point of definition. The evidence is so overwhelming that a credible scientist could not fail to understand and accept it… Would astrophysicists and geologists debate with people who believed the moon was made of green cheese?”

More succinctly, “The Assertion” denies that there is any scientific reason to doubt HIV as the cause of AIDS because a vaguely defined “scientific community” has already pronounced on the matter ad nauseum. This is vigorously defended by the ultra-orthodox AIDS cadres that Moore represents, even though the only semblance of a “real” debate in the literature occurred in the journal Science in 1988.

It ran under the logo of a “Policy Forum,” with Peter Duesberg arguing against, and William Blattner, Robert Gallo, and Howard Temin arguing for, the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. In his book Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS, Bialy gives an entertaining and accurate description of this “heavyweight science fight.” Here is the last paragraph of the linked excerpt

“After the ‘Policy Forum’ appeared, Peter all but begged Dan to sanction another round, to no avail. And so just when it was getting good, the bout was declared a technical draw on an inexplicable and non-appealable decision of commissioner Koshland. There was never to be a rematch. The failure to extend the discussion in the pages of Science was significant. Most scientists have neither time nor inclination to follow specialist literature in fields outside their own. They depend, consequently, on journals like Science and Nature to tell them what is considered important. Having read, as best they could at the time, the arguments of the Policy Forum, and then seeing nothing more than vulgar anti-Duesberg editorials in the scientific press and worse in the popular media, even a partially persuaded non-specialist could and would eventually concur with the ‘overwhelming evidence’ of Team Virus, although it has become even less overwhelming now than it was in 1988.”

The truth of the “Moore Assertion” is a key point of dispute between the two camps. Indeed, in the absence of a satisfactory resolution of its validity, it remains the principal impediment to ever discovering the real scientific merits of the virus-AIDS hypothesis that have nothing to do with the consensual basis of the claim. Until now, assertions of this type were like the Riemann hypothesis in number theory – important but impossible to resolve due to a lack of technical tools. With the ascendance of the internet, however, the “Moore Assertion” is readily testable as a scientific hypothesis. All that is required is to take an anonymous, electronic straw poll of the readership of Nature and Science, the world’s two most prominent science journals, asking whether they would support a series of debates, organized and held under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, between Peter Duesberg and David Baltimore (the two most prominent and best-credentialed spokespersons for the two sides) on the cause of AIDS.

The goal of such an electronic straw poll would not be to generate an actual debate between Duesberg and Baltimore, but to test the “Moore Assertion” that “there is nothing to debate and no-one worth debating with, and the issue has already been decided by ‘overwhelming evidence’ by the ‘scientific community.’”

To take this experiment out of the gedenken, we propose the following letter to the editors of Nature and Science:

“In the interests of once and forever ending the disquieting and possibly harmful pseudo-debate over the cause of AIDS that has been simmering at the margins of the journals and popular media for almost two decades, we urge you to use your good offices to take an electronic straw poll of your readers in which you simply ask them to respond to the following question. Would you support a series of debates between David Baltimore and Peter Duesberg, to be organized by, and held under the auspices of, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, on the etiology of AIDS?”

If you would like to see this experiment performed, you may meaningfully contribute by sending a joint email to Don Kennedy and Philip Campbell, (the editors of Science and Nature respectively) expressing your agreement with the letter above (and carbon-copying me) so we can, in the words of Prof. Moore, “keep at the maths…someone has to do it, after all.” (Please address them by name in your email.) In contradistinction to the “Moore Assertion,” we present the “Brown/Bialy Conjecture”:

“No matter how many emails are received by the editors of Science and Nature in support of the above experiment to test the ‘Moore Assertion,’ they will never allow such an experiment to take place.”

We speculate that the reason is because they know full well what the uncomfortable result would be.

June 21, 2006

Darin Brown [send him mail] received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2004. He maintains the AIDS Wiki with Frank Lusardi, a New York computer programmer.

Copyright © 2006 LewRockwell.com

NAR nominates Dr Anthony Fauci for Nobel – he has found the solution to AIDS

June 19th, 2006

Fauci leads Gallo in suggesting that HIV may be the antidote to itself

We hope to find an opportunity to shake Dr Anthony Fauci’s hand when he appears tonight at the New School, for he is truly a hero of AIDS. (Apologies for the horizontal photo, which is an artefact of inadequate Apple software, which we will correct later).

Not only has he fought for expanding federal spending on this vexed socio-political-medical conundrum for two decades, and achieved the splendid result of funding it more lavishly than cancer or heart disease, but recently, we have discovered, has actually provided the long sought solution to AIDS, which looks to save many billions in future spending, not to mention all kinds of suffering in deaths and twisted lives.

Why Dr Fauci has seen fit to confine his breakthrough finding to the pages of a textbook read almost exclusively by medical students late at night and by our eagle-eyed consultant Bob Houston, it is hard to imagine. Possibly it is his innate modesty, which we have always admired.

Should HIV be used to combat AIDS?

Or possibly it is the shocking originality of his conception, which is likely to strike the orthodoxy much as the conception of Copernicus struck the Papal community a number of centuries ago: a novel and possibly valid idea best kept for the Cardinals to consider and not for immediate dissemination to the congregation

For Dr Fauci has remarkably suggested that the best antidote to AIDS may be HIV itself.

But this great man deserves to speak in his own words, as found in his review paper in 2003 in the definitive textbook “Fundamental Immunology” which was edited by William E. Paul MD and published by Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins (p. 1295):

“Several investigators have demonstrated that there is an increase in CD4+ T cell proliferation in both HIV and SIV infection. In certain studies, the enhanced T cell proliferation that was observed during active disease was significantly decreased following the initiation of anti-retroviral therapy, and proliferation increased again in parallel with plasma viremia following the cessation of treatment in these individuals.”

In other words, adding HIV to the bloodstream increases T cell count, ARV drug therapy decreases it, and the withdrawal of ARVs increases it again.

At one stroke, this kind of intervention – Fauci’s brilliant implied suggestion here to replace antiretroviral drugs with a dose of HIV – will restore 61% of AIDS patients in this country to health overnight.

For ever since the 1993 emendation of the list of AIDS symptoms to cover more people, a low T-cell count has been one of the AIDS defining conditions in itself. Now 61% of AIDS patients are in that category, and have no other symptom at all, other than copious HIV antibodies, when diagnosed.

So Fauci’s unique proposal to shoot them up with HIV will instantly restore their count to normal.

Will Robert Gallo try to claim credit too?

Of course, now that Fauci has made his suggestion, many others will be claiming it as an idea they already thought of.

One of them is bound to be the noted Dr. Robert Gallo, who will remind the world that after all he included HTLV-III (as he then labeled the virus subsequently known as HIV) in the category of human leukemia viruses, like its forebear HTLV-I, for which the heroic Gallo has retained the ropyalties for a blood test since.

Leukemia viruses are supposed to cause cell proliferation, of course, that being a characteristic of cancer, so it will be no surprise to Dr Gallo to find that Dr. Fauci has located studies which show that HIV works in the same manner – boosts the number of CD4+ T-cells in the blood of AIDS patients.

Gallo will also point to his original 1984 papers, of course, since these as we have already noted indicated that not only did HIV not cause AIDS immune deficiency, but actually served as a prophylactic against the development of AIDS.

That is to say, Gallo originally showed that the category of patients he called “pre-AIDS” (people with a cold or similar) twice as often had the virus present as AIDS patients. The proportion was four out of five, compared to one third of the AIDS patients proper.

Not only was Gallo, as we have pointed out, well ahead of Peter Duesberg in demonstrating that HIV almost certainly did not cause AIDS (it occurred only in one third of his AIDS patients’ blood samples) but also he anticipated Dr Fauci in suggesting that HIV was probably a defense against AIDS, since it occurred in more (4/5) of pre-AIDS patients than in (1/3) AIDS patients proper. Apparently only when HIV was overcome did AIDS symptoms appear in many people.

That is why we predict that Dr. Fauci will be joined post-haste in his race for credit, and perhaps even the Nobel, by Robert Gallo, much in the same manner of David Baltimore racing to join Howard Temin in his candidacy for the Nobel prize for reverse transcriptase those many years ago.

That is why NAR intercedes in honor of Dr Anthony Fauci today to emphasize his priority in making this astounding conceptual breakthrough.

Well done, Dr. Fauci, may the call from Stockholm come through soon.

AIDS elite at 25 – top trio meets in public at the New School tonight

June 19th, 2006

But will audience dare to question progress?

Celebrating “AIDS at 25”, three of the AIDS elite will meet at the New School tonight in a New York Times panel to discuss progress to date.

New York Times Talks

AIDS at 25: What’s Next?

Mon., June 19, 6:30 p.m. Admission: $25 at nytimes.com/timestalks or call 888.NYT.1870. A limited number of complimentary New School student, faculty, staff and alumni tickets are available by calling 212.229.5488 or emailing boxoffice@newschool.edu.

Location: Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street

This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the first New York Times story about a rare, often rapidly fatal form of cancer afflicting gay men. What we now know as AIDS has gone on to become a worldwide pandemic with no known cure. Some of the leading voices in the quarter-century-long struggle to identify and combat this disease talk about the victories they have helped attain and the challenges that remain. Panelists: Allan Clear, executive director, Harm Reduction Coalition; Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Larry Kramer, Founder, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP; and Mathilde Krim, PhD, founding chairman, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. Panel discussion moderated by Brent Staples, New York Times editorial board.

Their names are the most celebrated in the socio-politics of AIDS: Anthony Fauci, Mathilde Krim and Larry Kramer.

Anthony Fauci is the short, well dressed director of NIAID, which is responsible for guiding the research and development of medications in AIDS, as well as possible vaccines. Result so far: no vaccine, no cure, no explanation, and no genuinely good medications but merely ones which act rather like a flame thrower used inside a house to chase mice. Initially the weapon may kill the mice (infections), but it soon enough burns down the house (ie kills the patient: half of AIDS patient deaths now are due to drug symptoms – such as liver damage – which are not AIDS diseases).

Mathilde Krim is the short, blonde-bunned founder of AmFAR, the prominent charity devoted to a similar goal. Best known for winning the support of Elizabeth Taylor and for saying to this reporter, on the topic of whether HIV caused AIDS, “Well we can’t prove it does, but Peter (Duesberg) can’t prove it doesn’t!”

Larry Kramer is the short, regal playwright and orator who is fond of accusing officials, and gays themselves, of behaving in ways that put the health of the gay community at risk, but has never bitten the bullet and examined whether scientists have the same range of human motivations, some of which may betray the gay community in just as lethal a manner. Kramer, in fact, has despite his artistic grasp of the emotions at play has never been able to move beyond fearing the virus to fearing the men and women behind its status.

Since this is an unprecedented opportunity to ask questions from the audience of these movers and shakers of HIV?AIDS science and politics, perhaps someone will formulate an enquiry which politely asks them to explain how a virus that does not kill T-cells after all, that is not significantly present in AIDS patients, and that is not transmitted through man-woman sex (all now established in mainstream scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals) can possibly be responsible for so many deaths over the years, and how it can be spreading throughout the world in a pandemic which threatens the very survival of some African nations?

Prize for best query

Maybe you can formulate a cleverer question today, in time for it to be asked by this correspondent or his deputy tonight. Prize to be awarded for best suggestion: free copy of Harvey Bialy’s inimitable book, “Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: The Life and Scientific Times of Peter H. Duesberg”, which explains how the issue of the true cause of HIV?AIDS was settled in 1988, if not earlier.

Some suggestions:

1. Dr. Fauci, how come the Virus appears to be contagious in poorer countries overseas and not in the US and Europe? Are rich people immune as long as they are not gay?

2. Dr. Fauci, how is it that at least five listed AIDS diseases have little to do with immune deficiency – wasting, cervical cancer, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, dementia, lymphoma?

3. Dr. Fauci, how come that after the Virus has been replaced (controlled, neutralized) by antibodies to it, people develop AIDS diseases after ten years or even twenty years, when antibody immunity is still effective and the Virus is not present more often than a needle in a haystack?

4. Dr. Fauci, do you support Dr. Gallo in still saying that the Virus kills T cells and that this is the cause of AIDS immune deficiency? If so, how does the Virus kill cells it is not inside, in a body in which it is almost totally absent? Does this “conundrum” after twenty years (as it is now called in mainstream literature eg by Zvi Grossman of NIAID and Tel Aviv in Nature Medicine in March) suggest we have the wrong cause of AIDS after all?

5. Dr. Fauci, if HIV positive people are already full of antibodies which have replaced their Virus, what kind of viral antibodies will the vaccine that we are still asked to spend more billions hunting, provide?

6. Dr. Fauci, if the occurrence (prevalence) of HIV in the US has remained flat at around a million HIV+ people for twenty years, how did the Virus cause the rise and decline in AIDS in the US?

7. Dr. Fauci, if it is the Virus that is killing AIDS patients, how come more than half are now dying of liver damage, which is a drug symptom and not an AIDS symptom?

8. Dr. Fauci, what exactly is the rationale for spending more on AIDS than on the much, much bigger killers cancer and heart disease?

9. Dr. Fauci, do you support funding for the widely admired research Dr. Duesberg is undertaking down a new path in cancer research? If so, will you lend your weight to advising NCI to support his grant applications?

10. Dr Fauci, what co-factors could explain whether people get sick soon or much later?

11. Dr Fauci, if the initial effect of HIV is to increase T cell count as you wrote in your review in 2003 in the textbook Fundamental Immunology, why not use HIV to combat AIDS? Would this not be better than using antiretroviral drugs, which you wrote decreased T cell count, and when stopped, saw T cell count improve?

12. Dr. Fauci, is there a single prediction based on the current paradigm that has come true?

LSE pow wow on evidence and dissent in science

June 18th, 2006


But no sign of awareness of current worst example

Interesting workshop tomorrow at LSE, Monday-Tuesday, 19-20 June- Contingency and Dissent in Science Workshop – T206, Lakatos Building, London School of Economics.

But will this workshop on Dissent in Science grasp the nettle and deal with the greatest case study of all in science today? With HIV?AIDS following a politically maintained, doctrinaire paradigm and actively repressing first rank scientific dissent which is long established in the peer-reviewed literature as overwhelming in logic and evidence, one would hope so.

After all, if these academics won’t address it, who will, inside the established institutional system? With a topic blatantly censored in the popular and scientific media, and in the field itself, the academic world seems to be the last recourse for any free debate.

Our letter a week ago to Nancy Cartwright, who organized the workshop, enquiring as to this possibility has gone unanswered to date. But since this evidently very Establishment lady is a MacArthur fellow whose first book was titled How the Laws of Physics Lie, there seems a glimmer of hope that alerted to the true state of affairs in HIV?AIDS, namely the stifling of debate to an exceptional degree, she might decide to explore the topic.

Here are the details:

Contingency and Dissent in Science: Description of Aims

Jun 13, 2006, at 12:06 AM

Contingency and Dissent in Science

Today society is scrambling to figure out how to manage the uses and abuses of science to minimize harm and maximize public benefit. But we face dramatically opposed attitudes to science. On one hand, it is presumed that the correctness of what science teaches does not come into question. On the other, there is widespread dissent even within the scientific community about results, methods and consequences. This project on contingency and dissent in science aims to develop tools for the scrutiny of the correctness of methods and results in the natural and human sciences based on detailed case studies.

We shall ask

* How contingent are the results of modern science?

* When is contingency harmful?

* When harmful, how can it be minimised?

Dissent is essential for scientific advance and can help reduce contingency: there are no scientific revolutions without scientific revolutionaries. It can also stall crucial decisions, waste money and misdirect effort.

* How has dissent helped to reduce contingency?

* How has it contributed to safeguards in cases where results are insecure?

* When has dissent merely wasted time and effort?

* Can we differentiate political exploitation of dissent from legitimate exploration of scientific uncertainties?

We shall look at

* Epistemological dimensions of dissent. When is dissent intellectually justified and when not? We shall try to develop criteria for distinguishing between a ‘crank’ and a ‘mainstream’ dissenter.

* Political/social/economic dimensions. If a topic is politically charged, there can be political gains from fostering and exploiting dissent. We aim to develop criteria to distinguish between ‘legitimate’ development of scientific uncertainty versus political or economic exploitation.

A reasonable assumption is that contingency is reduced when results are judged via agreed-upon methods. But –

* What happens when there is dissent over methods? Consider weak neutral currents where (according to Peter Galison) different experimental groups championed different methods and would not trust results from the alternatives. Physicists came to agree only when different methods produced the same results. The same is true for continental drift and plate tectonics.

Failing convergence of results, what factors do and should resolve disputes? Philosophers are keen on ’empirical evidence’ and ‘extra-empirical values’ (like ‘simplicity’). What do these abstract concepts amount to in real cases, how do they generate consensus and why assume the consensus is likely to be correct? We shall investigate three cases here:

o High-temperature superconductors. These were created in laboratories in 1986 but theorists still do not agree on how to explain them. The conservative school appeals to an ‘extra-empirical virtue’, demanding a theory as close as possible to that for conventional superconductors. More revolutionary schools urge a radical break: high-temperature superconductors are something new and should not be explained by minimal modifications of existing theory. We will study how controversy is conducted, what role empirical evidence and extra-empirical values play and what else matters in the dispute.

o Climate change. Controversy over global warming might be unexpected, since the case has all the elements conventionally necessary for a scientific demonstration. But the situation is complicated. First, predictions of the severity of the impact of the greenhouse effect rely on complex general-circulation models that are subject to considerable uncertainties. Second, there is deliberate stoking of scientific dissent for political purposes. The self-interests of powerful nations, corporations, and individuals are at stake and opposition has taken the form of attacking the science behind the environmental concern. And an individual who does dissent will find many opportunities to air that dissent in public.

o Randomised-controlled-trials (RCTs). These are generally the only admissible method for judging new medical treatments. For years Bayesians and others dissented, criticising both the logic and morality of RCTs and arguing that they cannot deliver on their promise in many real trials. These arguments had little effect. But cost factors may at last do so. We shall follow this case to compare the effects of dissenting argument with those of economic incentives. We shall also look for positive ways contingencies can be reduced without RCTs.

* What happens when established methods give out? Within specific sciences we usually have agreed-upon methods. But these seldom carry us all the way to the conclusion we need. For instance, economics, and increasingly other social sciences, are dominated by game-theory models that use rigorous techniques, often justified by neat theorems. But how do the results rigorously derived in the model relate to the world? There is no extant methodology. Midway through our attempt to arrive at real-life results, we resort to guesswork and judgement.

A second place where contingency sets in is when evidence must be combined. Consider Michael Marmot’s hypothesis that stress in low-status people produces ill-health. He defends this with a number of different kinds of studies, each adhering to methods appropriate to it. But each study has a local conclusion – Russian mortality or ape health or health/status correlations among Whitehall civil servants. The general conclusions to be drawn are clearly contingent on how these results are combined – and we have few methods for doing this. Our project will study how evidence can/has been/should be combined with health/status evidence as a test case.

* How sure can we be when dissent is missing? Points of possible contingency are easy to detect where there is active dissent but it is much harder when one theory dominates and dissent is practically non-existent.

Consider gauge theory, which has led to important breakthroughs in particle physics. Scientists accept the methodology based on past successes and the similarity of the problems at hand. Dissent is not entirely missing however. Critics note that strange moves had to be made in adopting the methodology to specific problems. How can genuine troublespots be identified? A clue for gauge theories may lie in their relation to theories from which they borrow (like condensed matter physics) and to more fundamental theories (like superstring theory). What can we learn from cases like this about locating points of contingency? For instance, are intertheoretic links a tool for reducing contingency?

We shall concentrate on cases where methods of adjudication are (or should be) in dispute. But it would be a mistake to undertake a study of contingency without consulting the philosophical work done in response to scepticism about scientific results engendered by the dramatic revolutions that many sciences have experienced. We will look in particular at two recent schools that hold out a big promise: they claim to isolate what is likely to prove necessary as our world picture changes from what is merely contingent. But they offer exactly opposite answers. One says that it is the abstract structure of fundamental equations. The other eschews high theory and argues that it is concrete claims about entities and their behaviours that are likely to last. Both claims are too sweeping. We want to reassess the grounds for both, and other emerging alternatives, and try to formulate the conditions under which any plausible alternative is likely to be reliable. (We are in a special position for this since founders of both schools [Cartwright and Worrall] are associated with the project.)

Project Leader is Nancy Cartright

Bio of Nancy Cartwright

Nancy Cartwright is the Chair of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science and Professor of Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method. She is also Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. Her principal interests are philosophy and history of science (especially physics and economics), causal inference and objectivity in science. Her publications include How the Laws of Physics Lie (1983), Nature’s Capacities and their Measurement (1989), Otto Neurath: Philosophy between Science and Politics [co-author] (1995), and The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science (1999).

Nancy Cartwright is a Fellow of the British Academy and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

She was married to Sir Stuart Hampshire who died in June 2004. Sir Stuart was a philosopher and reviewer who towards the end of his life worked as Warden of Wadham College Oxford and as Professor at Stanford University. They have two daughters, Emily and Sophie, and a granddaughter, Lucy.

Email: n.l.cartwright ‘at’ lse.ac.uk

Some publications

Nancy Cartwright’s books include:

Hunting Causes and Using Them, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

Measuring Causes: Invariance, Modularity and the Causal Markov Condition, Measurement in Physics and Economics Discussion Paper Series

Monograph DP MEAS 10/00, London: Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, 2000 Measuring Causes: Invariance, Modularity and the Causal Markov Condition

The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science,

Cambridge University Press, 1999; Represented as a Fathom Internet Story, Cambridge University Press, 1999 The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science

Otto Neurath: Philosophy between Science and Politics, with Jordi Cat, Lola Fleck, Thomas E Uebel,

Cambridge University Press, Ideas in Context Series, 1995 Otto Neurath: Philosophy between Science and Politics

Nature�s Capacities and their Measurement,

Oxford University Press, 1989; reproduced in Oxford Scholarship on Line, 2003 Nature�s Capacities and their Measurement

How the Laws of Physics Lie,

Oxford University Press, 1983; reproduced in Oxford Scholarship on Line, 2003.

Also translated into Chinese, to appear in Shanghai Scientific & Technological Education Publishing House.

Program of Worlshop:

Program of Conference

This project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Subject: ‘Evidence and Dissent in Science Workshop’ June 19th and 20th, LSE.

Date: June 13, 2006 12:06:05 AM EDT

Reminder:’Evidence and Dissent in Science Workshop’ June 19th and 20th

(part of the AHRC-funded Contingency and Dissent in Science Project)

Location:

T206, Lakatos Building

London School of Economics

Houghton Street,

London WC2A 2AE

Please register in advance by emailing: ContingencyDissent@lse.ac.uk

Programme:

Monday June 19th

9.00 – 9.30 Registration, Coffee

9.30 – 10.45 Dissent and Evidentiary Procedures

in Regulatory Science

Dr Justus Lentsch

Institute for Science and Technology Studies

University of Bielefeld, Germany

10.50 ˆ 12.05 Defining a role for evidence Œfrom

above‚

Mr Jeremy Howick

Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

London School of Economics.

12.15 ˆ 13.30 Does dissent in science differ from dissent in religion?

Prof Steve Fuller

Department of Sociology

University of Warwick

13.30 ˆ 14.30 Break for lunch

14.30 ˆ 15.45 Testimony, Dissent and the Growth of Knowledge

Prof Peter Lipton

History and Philosophy of Science Department

University of Cambridge

15.45 ˆ 16.15 Coffee

16.15 ˆ 17.30 On the Grammar of Pure Scientific

Dissent

Prof Aristides Baltas

National Technical University of Athens, Greece

Tuesday June 20th

9.15 ˆ 9.30 Coffee

9.30 ˆ 10.45 Values, Uncertainty, and Dissent: A Rational Basis for

Scientific Disagreement

Dr Heather Douglas

Philosophy Department

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, U.S.A.

10.50 ˆ 12.05 Evidence and Dissent in Structural Econometrics

Dr Damien Fennell

Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science

London School of Economics

12.05 Closing Remarks.

Steve Fuller, a sociologist at the University of Warwick, will talk at 12.15 on “Does dissent in science differ from dissent in religion?” He is the author of a rather interesting article on the Science Wars he wrote in 1998, The Science Wars: Who Exactly is the Enemy?

C’mon Steve, let’s hear your conclusions on the current topic of the HIV paradigm in AIDS:

This article is scheduled to appear in Japanese in the periodical, ‘Sekai’, at the end of 1998.

THE SCIENCE WARS: WHO EXACTLY IS THE ENEMY?

Steve Fuller

For at least the past five years, an undeclared war has been raging in many university departments in the USA, the UK, and Europe. I write as a veteran of these “Science Wars” that have now reached the shores of Japan. Are the Science Wars the equivalent of an intellectual World War or are they little more than a series of local guerilla incursions? What role, if any, should Japanese scholars take in them? I am here to argue that, to a large extent, the Science Wars are an outgrowth of specifically Western developments in the relationship between science, technology, and society — and that the Japanese situation offers a useful distance from which to critique the assumptions that inform the Science Wars.

The first salvo of the Science Wars was fired in 1992 with the publication of two popular works, one by an American physicist (Dreams of a Final Theory by Steven Weinberg) and the other by a British biologist (The Unnatural Nature of Science by Lewis Wolpert). These books included extended critical discussions of a group of historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science who over the past quarter-century have been challenging many taken-for-granted views about the nature of science. Ironically, Weinberg and Wolpert provided the first exposure of these scholars of “science studies” (or “STS,” for “Science, Technology and Society”) to the general public. Soon thereafter, science studies was connected with other broadly academic leftist movements, such as feminism, postmodernism, and multiculturalism. Arguments traceable to science studies started to appear in science policy forums, especially as grounds for cutting the budgets of expensive research projects and even the enrollments in science courses. In 1994, a biologist and a mathematician, Paul Gross and Norman Levitt, published the first full-length work devoted to these developments (Higher Superstition). They claimed to be part of the “Old Left” (Marxists who protested the “military-industrial complex” in the 1960s) who had become disillusioned with the seemingly pointless radicalism of today’s academic left. Science studies was portrayed as part of this “New Left,” and a major source of cynicism about science’s abilty to solve the world’s problems.

Are these charges well-founded? To be sure, science studies scholars have shown, often in considerable detail, that when science is regarded as a concrete human practice, it displays all the features one would expect of other similarly endowed social, economic, and political institutions. Put most pointedly, they claim that it is difficult to specify empirically the distinctly “rational,” “objective,” or “truth-oriented” character of the scientific mind. It is not that scientists are less rational than the rest of humanity; rather, they are not more rational. Whatever rationality science has displayed is the product of either specific features of its social organization (which enables concentrated periods of both teamwork and criticism) or the control that scientists exert over recounting their own history, which leaves the impression of an overall “progress” that is lacking in other human activities. I do not deny that these are controversial claims that often aim to “demystify” science. However, many science studies scholars have made these points in the spirit of encouraging scientists to be more modest in their own claims so that the public is not led to believe in things that are unlikely to happen. The failure of science to live up to its own expectations has probably done more damage to science’s social standing than any explicit criticism from non-scientists.

In 1994, I organized the first conference that brought together major representatives of both sides of the Science Wars into dialogue. The conference received enormous national publicity in the UK, but nearly three years passed before it was repeated, this time by physicists at the University of Kansas in the USA. In the interim had occcurred an event which made negotiations very difficult. An obscure theoretical physicist, Alan Sokal, had managed to publish an article in a special issue of a leading American cultural studies journal (Social Text) which parodied the style of writing of several notable science studies scholars. In particular, the article inferred wider cultural significance from highly technical scientific concepts and even equations: Einstein’s relativity theory was said to imply philosophical relativism; Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle implied interpretive indeterminacy; chaoplexity implied the fragmented world of the postmodern condition; etc. Moreover, although Sokal’s article was the most highly documented in the special issue, it included some fabricated sources from mathematics and physics, which could have been easily spotted by someone trained in these fields. But the editors neglected to submit Sokal’s article to scientific “peer review” because they found his line of argument so congenial. At least, this was the “spin” that Sokal gave the situation when he revealed the article to be a hoax on the front page of The New York Times in May 1996.

Soon many began to see the controversial character of science studies claims as marks of arrogance and incompetence. But equally, Sokal’s hoax raised more general issues about the level of trust needed for any organized form of inquiry to occur. Given the expense involved in reproducing most scientific experiments today, even the hardest of “hard” scientists are forced to take most of what their colleagues say in print at face value. In other words, Sokal unwittingly found himself teaching science studies by example! This became very evident when conservative political groups in the US began supporting conferences on the Science Wars. Sokal quickly distanced himself from these groups because they used the “socially constructed” character of science as grounds for influencing what academics teach and research. In particular, they aimed to banish all research that could not meet the test of the marketplace and all teaching that did not foster the nation’s cultural values. By those criteria, both theoretical physics and science studies appear to be dubious social constructions. By the time I debated Sokal in Kansas, there was enough common cause between us against the conservatives that the significance of his hoax faded by comparison.

This last point is rather important because it underscores the extent to which “science” is presumed to be a cultural value by both sides of the Science Wars. Admittedly, just based on journalistic coverage, one could easily conclude that the battle is between forces “pro” and “anti” science. However, none of the major academic participants in the Science Wars has ever claimed to be “anti-science.” After all, even the scholars parodied by Sokal stood accused of seeing too much, not too little, cultural significance in recent scientific developments. Rather, the dispute has been over what it means for an activity to be “scientific” and which activities should be counted as scientific. Generally speaking, professional scientists use the term “scientific” to capture certain ideals of inquiry, whereas science studies scholars aim to capture how science is actually practiced, “warts and all,” as it were. Of course, there is a more personal way of posing the question: Who speaks for science: only natural scientists and maybe engineers and medical doctors? or perhaps also historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science? While this should not be an exclusive choice, the polemical character of the Science Wars has generally made it seem that way.

Before Japanese readers decide to take sides in the Science Wars, you need to understand their unique historical significance. Western academics who are not themselves scientists have generally regarded the natural sciences in one of two ways, one corresponding to the humanities and the other to the social sciences.

On the one hand, humanists have usually condescended to the natural sciences in the form of “benign neglect” because they could not see the larger cultural significance of a form of knowledge so intimately tied to technology, manual labor, and the craft tradition more generally. Difficult as it may be to believe now, as recently as 100 years ago Western humanists objected to the placement of laboratories on university grounds because of the unseemly sights, sounds, and smells emanating from them. Indeed, these prejudices were substantially challenged for the first time with Japan’s defeat of Russia in 1905, since Westerners generally knew that the university system established under the Meiji Restoration had placed the natural sciences and engineering at the center of academic life. Shortly thereafter laboratories started to be welcomed in Western universities, alongside calls for the spread of scientific and technical training. Nevertheless, the old humanistic prejudices remained, especially in political circles, as evidenced in C.P. Snow’s famous 1959 lecture on the “two cultures” that is often cited as a precedent for the Science Wars.

On the other hand, social scientists have generally regarded the natural sciences as disciplinary role models, not to mention providers of principles for the rational governance of society. Here it is worth recalling that Auguste Comte, who coined both “positivism” and “sociology,” argued that the natural sciences ought to replace the Roman Catholic Church as the source of world order. Although Comte wrote in the early 19th century, this “sacred” view of science has lasted well into the 20th century. Robert Merton, who is often credited with having the founded the sociology of science, never actually observed “science in action,” in the sense of studying the places where science is done. Rather, he generalized from the accounts of scientific practice given by distinguished scientists and philosophers from the past. This is akin to relying exclusively on the testimony of theologians and saints as evidence when studying the sociology of religion. Social scientists have been traditionally reluctant to study the natural sciences as they would other social practices because of the implications that their findings might have for the status of their own work as “scientists.”

Under these circumstances, perhaps you will not be surprised to learn that the first generation of science studies scholars were actually trained scientists who had become disillusioned with the science’s failure to live up to its public image as an exemplary truth-seeking enterprise. This generation, which came of age in World War II, consisted of such luminaries as Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, and Stephen Toulmin. Each had participated in routine scientific work for the war effort in their respective countries — the US, Germany, and the UK — after having completed a first degree in physics. The founders of science studies had originally become scientists in order to pursue natural philosophy by experimental means and thereby acquire a comprehensive understanding of reality. Such a motivation was shared by Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein, but it was out of place in a scaled-up, fragmented scientific enterprise that had come to be driven by military-industrial concerns. The level of disillusionment only increased among scientists who came of age in the following generation, which coincided with the Cold War and the Vietnam War. Thus, the new, post-Merton sociology of science that has been the focus of the Science Wars was conceived by scientists such as Barry Barnes and David Bloor, who defined science studies as the application of the scientific method to science itself. Just as sociology had contributed to the secularization of religion, science studies would contribute to the secularization of science.

So far I have said little about the role of technology in the development of either science or science studies. This is because technology has not figured as an issue in the Science Wars and, until relatively recently, has not even figured as a prominent research topic in science studies. Here Japanese readers should keep in mind the strong cultural distinction between science and technology that is still drawn in the West. Of course, no one denies that over the past 150 years science has been instrumental in the development of new technologies, and that technology has always been an inspiration for scientific inquiry. But the histories of science and technology are still told as very different stories, in which the motivation for undertaking research is crucial in determining whether someone’s achievements belong in the history of science or the history of technology. A good case in point arose at the recent International Conference on Science, Technology and Society that was held in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Kyoto (16-22 March 1998) under the sponsorship of various Japanese agencies representing science, government, and industry. Here Western scholars such as myself had a valuable opportunity to learn how the large Japanese science studies community framed its research agenda.

There were several indications that Japanese scholars understand the relationship between science, technology, and society in subtly different ways from the “received view” of Western scholars. One clear example is the tendency of Japanese scholars to describe both Michael Faraday and Thomas Edison as “scientists” in roughly the same sense and of roughly the same significance. To be sure, the two men had much in common. Both came from poor backgrounds, had little formal education, but went on to do experimental research that substantially illuminated the electromagnetic realm. And of course, both came to represent “the scientist” in the popular imagination of their time. However, over the years, Western historians of science have shown much greater interest in Faraday than Edison — so much so that Edison’s name is usually omitted from general histories of 19th and 20th century science. There turns out to be two relevant differences between Faraday and Edison. First, Faraday was motivated by a desire to fathom the fundamental forces of nature. This desire had a religious origin that makes his story somewhat more edifying than the largely instrumental and utilitarian concerns that informed Edison’s research. Second, while both Faraday and Edison kept meticulous notebooks of their research, Faraday was much more methodologically self-conscious than Edison, who seemed to resort to a trial-and-error approach on almost all matters. (Here it is worth recalling that Edison is the one who said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”) If one regards the natural sciences as the secular successor of Christianity, a la Comte, then Faraday’s spirituality and discipline would clearly make him a more important figure than Edison.

My point here is that the definition of “science” in both science studies and the Science Wars is strongly colored by the way in which science has developed in the West, namely, as a competitor to organized religion. In that sense, science studies is like the Protestant Reformation, only applied to the scientific establishment. The controversies surrounding Copernicus and Darwin come to mind as precedents in challenging the orthodoxies of their day. Nevertheless, both heliocentric astronomy and evolutionary biology were introduced with relatively little resistance in Japan. Consequently, the history of Japanese science has not needed figures like Galileo or Huxley who achieved heroic status by arguing that a choice had to be made between a scientific and religious way of relating to the world. In this respect, the history of Japan’s selective incorporation of Western science during the Meiji Restoration offers an interesting critical perspective on the nature of science that transcends the cultural limits of the Science Wars.

It is generally known that the Westerners who advised the Japanese government on education and research policy in the last quarter of the 19th century had different goals from those of their Japanese hosts. Whereas the Japanese were interested in Western technical know-how for purposes of what has been called “defensive modernization,” the European and American advisors also wished to impart the cultural values, philosophical systems, and political ideologies that had attended the development of science in the West. Indeed, the latter assumed that the unique history of Western Europe provided the blueprint for all human progress. (Marxism is probably the 20th century philosophy that has most closely adhered to this 19th century assumption.) Thus, argued the advisors, if the establishment of scientific institutions in Japan was not accompanied by liberal capitalist democracy cloaked in a secularized Christian ethic and a materialist metaphysics, those institutions would never reach their full potential. For their part, the Japanese responded with a tactful skepticism that exploited what the economic historian Alexander Gerschenkron has called “the relative advantage of backwardness.” This is the idea that latecomers to economic development have the advantage of learning from the mistakes and idiosyncracies of the innovators, especially by finding more efficient substitutes that draw on native resources.

I believe that Gerschenkron’s idea can be applied quite generally in the Japanese case to cover both intellectual and material resources. For example, Japanese translations reduced Western scientific concepts to operational definitions stripped of metaphysical baggage that for centuries had been the source of many profound but inconclusive debates that often only held up the course of experimental inquiry in Europe. A case in point is Newton’s appeal to “gravity” as a real force in nature, which some read as his attempt to introduce “The Hand of God” into physics. That Japan succeeded in avoiding such debates can be seen in that it entered the top five of world powers in science-based technology in one-tenth the time it took Western Europe to complete its own “Scientific Revolution.” Although the Scientific Revolution is normally said to have occurred in the 17th century, as late as 1898 the same number of university students in Germany — the scientifically most advanced nation of the time — studied theology as all the natural sciences put together. In contrast, the religious and class taboos that delayed the assimilation of the natural sciences in European education did not affect Japan. Indeed, in several other respects, the selective appropriation of the history of Western science by Japan contradicts many of the overblown cultural claims for science made by both sides of the Science Wars.

As soon as “science” began to stand for not only a highly disciplined pursuit of knowledge of nature but also the standard by which all knowledge in society is judged, a tension emerged as to whether science is primarily a critical or a cumulative enterprise. I have called the two poles of this tension the Enlightenment and the Positivist images of science, respectively. The former captures science’s ability to criticize taken-for-granted assumptions (including its own) by subjecting them to empirical and logical test, whereas latter stresses the reliable body of knowledge that is supposed to result from such relentless criticism. The historical tendency in the West has been to connect the Enlightenment image to what Karl Popper called “the open society,” in which everyone is called upon to use their critical reasoning abilities, and the Positivist image to a more “closed society” in which public decision-making is increasingly delegated to experts whose judgement is supposedly less error-prone and more efficient than the ordinary citizen’s.

One area where this clash of images has led to much confusion in the Science Wars concerns the expression, “public understanding of science.” This expression first gained prominence in a 1985 report of the Royal Society, which alleged, in the case of Britain, a connection between low levels of research funding and science literacy and a decline in industrial innovation and wealth creation, when measured against international rivals. The big assumption made in the report and most of the subsequent debate has been that an increased public understanding of both the findings and methods of science will reverse any perceived economic decline, presumably because citizens will become at least more receptive to the idea of increasing research funding levels and may even enroll in courses to become scientists themselves. However, this assumption is little more than a superstition. In fact, most studies show that as people learn more about science, they become more critical of its development and uses, especially in the context of technological applications. In true Enlightenment fashion, the public acquires a form of wisdom that consists in recognizing how little one really knows. Indeed, they come to realize that even the experts know much less about the likely consequences of technological innovations than their policy pronouncements might first suggest. All of this is quite healthy from a democratic standpoint, as it encourages both the public and the experts to assume a greater sense of responsibility for the uncertainties and risks implied in what they say and do. However, it is not clear how the cultivation of these attitudes relate to more growth-oriented goals associated with technological innovation. At the very least, the spread of the Enlightenment function of science means that public debates over increased investment in science-based technologies will need to be conducted at a more sophisticated level. I believe that this is the issue on which all parties to the Science Wars should focus their energies.

To their credit, the science studies community in Japan has begun to tackle this problem seriously. The recent International STS Conference showcased the results of the first Japanese consensus conference on the appropriateness of gene therapy for the treatment of various diseases whose genetic composition is already known. A “consensus conference” consists of a quasi-experimental situation in which a sample of the public are exposed to the details of a technical policy issue and then asked to formulate the basic framework within which policymakers should take their decisions. In the West, consensus conferences have been promoted by two groups: environmental activists and political scientists interested in exploring “deliberative democracy” as a practical alternative to the colonization of the public sphere by experts. The conferences have been generally successful on their own terms, in that ordinary citizens can acquire the technical knowledge needed to debate the relevant policy issues in relatively short time and arrive at frameworks that appear reasonable, even in the eyes of experts. In this respect, consensus conferences are much like trials by jury — except that consensus conferences rarely feed into any actual ongoing policy process. In fact, the only country where consensus conferences are currently used to inform real policy decisions is Denmark, and that is usually attributed to the country’s small and relatively homogeneous population. In short, a sample of the public is readily seen there as a representative sample.

The Japanese initiative, organized by Professors Yukio Wakamatsu (Tokyo Denzi University) and Tadashi Kobayashi (Nanzan University), is distinctive in several respects. Most notably, it comes from the science studies community, which has so far failed to participate in any Western initiatives of this kind. This is somewhat surprising, since consensus conferences are designed to test empirically a claim frequently made in the Science Wars, namely, that scientific experts do not have a monopoly on the knowledge needed to resolve complex science-based policy issues. In any case, the results of the conference were very encouraging, especially given the highly experimental and potentially controversial character of gene therapy. Professors Wakamatsu and Kobayashi succeeded in facilitating dialogue between a wide range of experts and members of the public. This was due, in no small measure, to their own intervention in the process. Themselves no experts in biology, medicine, or economics, but informed by work in science studies, Professors Wakamatsu and Kobayashi asked questions that raised points of uncertainty in the experts’ testimony which helped give members of the public the confidence they needed to air their concerns and ask still more probing questions. The quality of the resulting policy framework was very high by the standard of consensus conferences. This has led the organizers to propose a future conference that will explore Japanese resistance to the Internet and information technology more generally. This seems to me an ideal way for science studies to cultivate a critically informed public for science and technology, while ensuring that it issues in a constructive result. Given the importance of computer-based networking to the emergent “post-industrial” economy, this forthcoming Japanese initiative may offer guidance to the West in “squaring the circle” of the Enlightenment and Positivist images of science. We shall watch in eager anticipation.

Accurate AIDS Wiki solves overlooked problem of Mega Wiki

June 17th, 2006


HIV critics establish corrective to consensus driven bias of standard Wiki

The Times seems fascinated by how the Wikipedia is going to ensure accuracy despite teen spoilers and other threats to its scholarly reliability. Does this have to do with the Times notorious lack of fact checking for its articles on important topics, such AIDS and its science? Whatever the reason, this piece, Growing Wikipedia Revises Its ‘Anyone Can Edit’ Policy By Katie Hafner

The New York Times

June 17, 2006

Growing Wikipedia Revises Its ‘Anyone Can Edit’ Policy

By KATIE HAFNER

Wikipedia is the online encyclopedia that “anyone can edit.” Unless you want to edit the entries on Albert Einstein, human rights in China or Christina Aguilera.

Wikipedia’s come-one, come-all invitation to write and edit articles, and the surprisingly successful results, have captured the public imagination. But it is not the experiment in freewheeling collective creativity it might seem to be, because maintaining so much openness inevitably involves some tradeoffs.

At its core, Wikipedia is not just a reference work but also an online community that has built itself a bureaucracy of sorts — one that, in response to well-publicized problems with some entries, has recently grown more elaborate. It has a clear power structure that gives volunteer administrators the authority to exercise editorial control, delete unsuitable articles and protect those that are vulnerable to vandalism.

Those measures can put some entries outside of the “anyone can edit” realm. The list changes rapidly, but as of yesterday, the entries for Einstein and Ms. Aguilera were among 82 that administrators had “protected” from all editing, mostly because of repeated vandalism or disputes over what should be said. Another 179 entries — including those for George W. Bush, Islam and Adolf Hitler — were “semi-protected,” open to editing only by people who had been registered at the site for at least four days. (See a List of Protected Entries)

While these measures may appear to undermine the site’s democratic principles, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder, notes that protection is usually temporary and affects a tiny fraction of the 1.2 million entries on the English-language site.

“Protection is a tool for quality control, but it hardly defines Wikipedia,” Mr. Wales said. “What does define Wikipedia is the volunteer community and the open participation.”

From the start, Mr. Wales gave the site a clear mission: to offer free knowledge to everybody on the planet. At the same time, he put in place a set of rules and policies that he continues to promote, like the need to present information with a neutral point of view.

The system seems to be working. Wikipedia is now the Web’s third-most-popular news and information source, beating the sites of CNN and Yahoo News, according to Nielsen NetRatings.

The bulk of the writing and editing on Wikipedia is done by a geographically diffuse group of 1,000 or so regulars, many of whom are administrators on the site.

“A lot of people think of Wikipedia as being 10 million people, each adding one sentence,” Mr. Wales said. “But really the vast majority of work is done by this small core community.”

The administrators are all volunteers, most of them in their 20’s. They are in constant communication — in real-time online chats, on “talk” pages connected to each entry and via Internet mailing lists. The volunteers share the job of watching for vandalism, or what Mr. Wales called “drive-by nonsense.” Customized software — written by volunteers — also monitors changes to articles.

Mr. Wales calls vandalism to the encyclopedia “a minimal problem, a dull roar in the background.” Yet early this year, amid heightened publicity about false information on the site, the community decided to introduce semi-protection of some articles. The four-day waiting period is meant to function something like the one imposed on gun buyers.

Once the assaults have died down, the semi-protected page is often reset to “anyone can edit” mode. An entry on Bill Gates was semi-protected for just a few days in January, but some entries, like the article on President Bush, stay that way indefinitely. Other semi-protected subjects as of yesterday were Opus Dei, Tony Blair and sex.

To some critics, protection policies make a mockery of the “anyone can edit” notion.

“As Wikipedia has tried to improve its quality, it’s beginning to look more and more like an editorial structure,” said Nicholas Carr, a technology writer who recently criticized Wikipedia on his blog. “To say that great work can be created by an army of amateurs with very little control is a distortion of what Wikipedia really is.”

But Mr. Wales dismissed such criticism, saying there had always been protections and filters on the site.

Wikipedia’s defenders say it usually takes just a few days for all but the most determined vandals to retreat.

“A cooling-off period is a wonderful mediative technique,” said Ross Mayfield, chief executive of a company called Socialtext that is based on the same editing technology that Wikipedia uses.

Full protection often results from a “revert war,” in which users madly change the wording back and forth. In such cases, an administrator usually steps in and freezes the page until the warring parties can settle their differences in another venue, usually the talk page for the entry. The Christina Aguilera entry was frozen this week after after fans of the singer fought back against one user’s efforts to streamline it.

Much discussion of Wikipedia has focused on its accuracy. Last year, an article in the journal Nature concluded that the incidence of errors in Wikipedia was only slightly higher than in Encyclopaedia Britannica. Officials at Britannica angrily disputed the findings.

“To be able to do an encyclopedia without having the ability to differentiate between experts and the general public is very, very difficult,” said Jorge Cauz, the president of Britannica, whose subscription-based online version receives a small fraction of the traffic that Wikipedia gets.

Intentional mischief can go undetected for long periods. In the article about John Seigenthaler Sr., who served in the Kennedy administration, a suggestion that he was involved in the assassinations of both John F. and Robert Kennedy was on the site for more than four months before Mr. Seigenthaler discovered it. He wrote an op-ed article in USA Today about the incident, calling Wikipedia “a flawed and irresponsible research tool.”

Yet Wikipedians say that in general the accuracy of an article grows organically. At first, said Wayne Saewyc, a Wikipedia volunteer in Vancouver, British Columbia, “everything is edited mercilessly by idiots who do stupid and weird things to it.” But as the article grows, and citations slowly accumulate, Mr. Saewyc said, the article becomes increasingly accurate.

Wikipedians often speak of how powerfully liberating their first contribution felt. Kathleen Walsh, 23, a recent college graduate who majored in music, recalled the first time she added to an article on the contrabassoon.

“I wrote a paragraph of text and there it was,” recalled Ms. Walsh. “You write all these pages for college and no one ever sees it, and you write for Wikipedia and the whole world sees it, instantly.”

Ms. Walsh is an administrator, a post that others nominated her for in recognition of her contributions to the site. She monitors a list of newly created pages, half of which, she said, end up being good candidates for deletion. Many are “nonsense pages created by kids, like ‘Michael is a big dork,’ ” she said.

Ms. Walsh also serves on the 14-member arbitration committee, which she describes as “the last resort” for disputes on Wikipedia.

Like so many Web-based successes, Wikipedia started more or less by accident.

Six years ago, Mr. Wales, who built up a comfortable nest egg in a brief career as an options trader, started an online encyclopedia called Nupedia.com, with content to be written by experts. But after attracting only a few dozen articles, Mr. Wales started Wikipedia on the side. It grew exponentially.

For the first year or so, Mr. Wales paid the expenses out of his own pocket. Now the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia, is financed primarily through donations, most in the $50 to $100 range.

As the donations have risen, so have the costs. The foundation’s annual budget doubled in the last year, to $1.5 million, and traffic has grown sharply. Search engines like Google, which often turn up Wikipedia entries at the top of their results, are a big contributor to the site’s traffic, but it is increasingly a first stop for knowledge seekers.

Mr. Wales shares the work of running Wikipedia with the administrators and four paid employees of the foundation. Although many decisions are made by consensus within the community, Mr. Wales steps in when an issue is especially contentious. “It’s not always obvious when something becomes policy,” he said. “One way is when I say it is.”

Mr. Wales is a true believer in the power of wiki page-editing technology, which predates Wikipedia. In late 2004, Mr. Wales started Wikia, a commercial start-up financed by venture capital that lets people build Web sites based around a community of interest. Wiki 24, for instance, is an unofficial encyclopedia for the television show “24.” Unlike Wikipedia, the site carries advertising.

Mr. Wales, 39, lives with his wife and daughter in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the foundation is based. But Mr. Wales’s main habitat these days, he said, is the inside of airplanes. He travels constantly, giving speeches to reverential audiences and visiting Wikipedians around the world.

Wikipedia has inspired its share of imitators. A group of scientists has started the peer-reviewed Encyclopedia of Earth, and Congresspedia is a new encyclopedia with an article about each member of Congress.

But beyond the world of reference works, Wikipedia has become a symbol of the potential of the Web.

“It can tell us a lot about the future of knowledge creation, which will depend much less on individual heroism and more on collaboration,” said Mitchell Kapor, a computer industry pioneer who is president of the Open Source Applications Foundation.

Zephyr Teachout, a lawyer in Burlington, Vt., who is involved with Congresspedia, said Wikipedia was reminiscent of old-fashioned civic groups like the Grange, whose members took individual responsibility for the organization’s livelihood.

“It blows open what’s possible,” said Ms. Teachout. “What I hope is that these kinds of things lead to thousands of other experiments like this encyclopedia, which we never imagined could be produced in this way.”

was granted top left positioning above the fold today (Sat Jun 17), which is rather remarkable.

Much discussion of Wikipedia has focused on its accuracy. Last year, an article in the journal Nature concluded that the incidence of errors in Wikipedia was only slightly higher than in Encyclopaedia Britannica. Officials at Britannica angrily disputed the findings.

“To be able to do an encyclopedia without having the ability to differentiate between experts and the general public is very, very difficult,” said Jorge Cauz, the president of Britannica, whose subscription-based online version receives a small fraction of the traffic that Wikipedia gets.

Intentional mischief can go undetected for long periods. In the article about John Seigenthaler Sr., who served in the Kennedy administration, a suggestion that he was involved in the assassinations of both John F. and Robert Kennedy was on the site for more than four months before Mr. Seigenthaler discovered it. He wrote an op-ed article in USA Today about the incident, calling Wikipedia “a flawed and irresponsible research tool.”

Yet Wikipedians say that in general the accuracy of an article grows organically. At first, said Wayne Saewyc, a Wikipedia volunteer in Vancouver, British Columbia, “everything is edited mercilessly by idiots who do stupid and weird things to it.” But as the article grows, and citations slowly accumulate, Mr. Saewyc said, the article becomes increasingly accurate.

What the Times piece doesn’t really get to is the more subtle core problem of the Wiki, which is not the obvious one of factual accuracy so much as the distortion of judgment likely when the mainstream view is strongly questioned. The view likely to be endorsed by the Wiki crowd editing approach is the consensus view, and alternatives are likely to be disparaged.

The Wiki founder (Jimmy Wales, photo above) explains how entries are encouraged to be “objective” and if they are the problem won’t be seen, but people being what they are “objectivity” is a virtue notoriously hard to inculcate even in media reporters, in whom it is supposedly a professional qualification. This is notoriously seen in HIV?AIDS coverage but really in almost any area reporters will tend to convey whatever bias their more valued sources share.

So it is not surprising that the problem presents itself with the entries on AIDS and HIV, a topic in which the supporters of the current paradigm are often more doctrinaire than religious zealots, and believe themselves to be morally virtuous to condemn the review suggested by critics to whom it makes no more sense than any other superstition or religious belief.

To escape this misleading bias the critics of HIV?AIDS science have initiated a Wiki of their own, under the helmsmanship of the founder of this ingenious initiative, the mathematician Darin Brown. Those incapable of independent thought on the topic are kept out of the writing and editing process, since Brown and Frank Lusardi, the notoriously tough minded and professional Web site creator and administrator who is hosting the AIDS Wiki, are vetting who gets to gain entry to its hallowed grounds.

The software is generally available, and others have taken similar initiatives for similar reasons:

Wikipedia has inspired its share of imitators. A group of scientists has started the peer-reviewed Encyclopedia of Earth, and Congresspedia is a new encyclopedia with an article about each member of Congress….

“It can tell us a lot about the future of knowledge creation, which will depend much less on individual heroism and more on collaboration,” said Mitchell Kapor, a computer industry pioneer who is president of the Open Source Applications Foundation.

Zephyr Teachout, a lawyer in Burlington, Vt., who is involved with Congresspedia, said Wikipedia was reminiscent of old-fashioned civic groups like the Grange, whose members took individual responsibility for the organization’s livelihood.

“It blows open what’s possible,” said Ms. Teachout. “What I hope is that these kinds of things lead to thousands of other experiments like this encyclopedia, which we never imagined could be produced in this way.”

Those who wish to read this burgeoning construction and gain the happily uncensored (by the establishment) and rightfully censored (by the HIV?AIDS science critics) guide to who’s who and what’s what on the other side of the science on this vexed topic will find it at the Rethinking AIDS website, specifically at AIDS Wiki.

Revolutionary committee celebrates plans with exclusive party

June 11th, 2006


Historic session of HIV?AIDS revisionists capped with evening hospitality

A day marked with rapid progress in arranging their future strategy in combating censorship in HIV?AIDS ended for the Committee for the Reappraisal of HIV?AIDS in a cordoned off section of the Roosevelt bar this evening, where they were joined in drinks, delicacies and the heavy private club armchairs by guests including three writers from sophisticated New York based media, one of them tall, slim and brunette and armed with a notebook and pencil preparing a profile of Celia Farber.

Other guests included tall, slim Mark Setteducati, the globe trotting magician, who remarked that he had seen through the HIV theory of AIDS from the beginning, since his own business was “fooling people”. His business card is entirely black on both sides, a puzzle for the recipient until with a snap of his fingers Mark makes it open to reveal his name and address, written in backwards font on one side legible only in the mirrored side opposite.

“Pretty tricky”, we allowed. “That’s what I mean”, said Mark. We introduced him to Peter Duesberg, who when he learned Mark was a magician said that he could be very useful to the HIV?AIDS establishment. “You could make the virus cause AIDS,” he said. “That’s what they need!”

Manhattan quietly infiltrated by radical science group

June 10th, 2006


Revolutionaries plan further gains in HIV?AIDS row

As an answer to the UN “AIDS at 25” celebration last weekend (which was described to this author today at the UN by an official there in the following terms: “Did you ever see such a job creation machine?”), the members of the Committee for the Reappraisal of HIV/AIDS flew into New York City from Europe and the West Coast this evening to meet at the Roosevelt Hotel, a midtown holdover from the past and therefore suitable for modern samurai fighting for old fashioned standards in science to rest their heads.

Currently the best choice in hotels in New York for anybody who understands that long etablished is good, the Pakistani owned hotel is still splendid in an old fashioned way, with its personable staff and marble floors and polished brass and wood and fleur de lis carpets and one of the city’s best kept secrets, its bar, which is grand and cosy at the same time. Apparently when asked for an Internet connection to a meeting room it charges through the nose for a T1 line, the staff not yet having heard of wireless.

After a sojourn at said bar to gather their wits and energy, twelve of the core members and a couple of guests moved to the Jewel of India, a spacious curry restaurant along from the Harvard Club, where they bonded in preparation for two days of concentrated discussion on future strategy in the information war in this field, which has resisted free debate on the cause and cure of HIV?AIDS for two decades.

Among the highlights of the sessions at a nearby location will be a Sunday morning presentation by the renowned scientist, amiable, joking and very sharp Peter Duesberg, which invited guests will also attend, including four filmmakers at last count, with cameramen.

Other members of the board at the meeting will include Neville Hodgkinson, the London Sunday Times correspondent who wrote a huge series exposing the problems of the field and its science in the mid nineties, the diminutive bombshell Joan Shenton, who has made several award winning documentaries on the topic for independent TV in London, the slim progressive Christine Maggiore, whose book has long been the best rundown for the layman who wishes to know what is going on, tall, mustachioed David Crowe, who runs the Alberta group of independent thinkers on AIDS, hardbitten renegade Frank Lusardi the distinguished designer of million dollar dot com boom websites, long dark haired Bryan Owen, Alabama webmaster of the Committee for the Reappraising AIDS website, the Panlike Claus Koehlein a medical authority from Germany who has just published a book on “Virus Mania”, unfortunately so far still in German, and the very tall San Fransciscan angel Robert Leppo, the investor who has backed Duesberg’s research on the same principle as the start ups he finances, which is that he believes in him personally.

A number of journalists and authors in the field and out of it will be attending the open session also, including Celia Farber of Harpers’s who just published the LA CityBeat clarification of the Maggiore tragedy, Anthony Liversidge a science freelancer who is writing a book on the abuse of trust in modern science, Marcus Cohen, who has devoted seven columns in the past year in the Townsend Letter to the topic of HIV?AIDS and its errors, and Robert Houston, the independent medical authority in cancer who has heavily researched HIV?AIDS, and others.

Special note: If anyone here wishes to attend, they should email us, since we have been given several invitations to pass on.

Celia Farber writes what should be the last word on Eliza Jane Scovill

June 7th, 2006


Los Angeles CityBeat carries the whole truth about lynch mob beset tragedy

Celia Farber follows up her Harper’s article with a definitive piece on the Maggiore mess today, published in Los Angeles CityBeat:

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A Daughter’s Death, A Mother’s Survival

“ I want to know the truth about what killed EJ,” says Christine Maggiore, right, with her husband Robin Scovill and son, Charlie.

Photo by Max S. Gerber

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This cover story, which combines the nightmare sociology with a sure grasp of the medical issue, shows clearly what the cause of Eliza Jane’s sudden death had to be, and it was not, of course, HIV, but amoxicillin. There has never been any scientific reason to think otherwise, except for those infatuated with the idea that HIV is a microbe with devilish powers, which cannot be accounted for by conventional medicine, but nonetheless mysteriously accounts for all illness and death in or near its presence, whether on the list of AIDS symptoms or not.

AIDS has become synonymous with rage and hatred of those who think differently from the orthodoxy. About that there is no question. The question is: In such a climate, what are the chances of anybody, on either side, being able to see clearly what the “facts” are about the sudden death of Eliza Jane Scovill, one year ago? Especially one fact: the county coroner has produced no HIV test on EJ Scovill.

Farber has a peculiar knack for seeing the psychosocial forces which give rise to superstition, and their power to spur the kind of crowd behavior in the well informed 21st Century which reminds one of witchhunts of old. Christine Maggiore, having suffered the greatest loss imaginable as a parent, has had to put up with her personal tragedy being compounded by a storm of ignorant and hostile comment on and off the Web, plus poorly reported articles, and the insult and threat of official enquiry.

Dr. Ribe was summoned to oversee the second autopsy, and arrived at the “AIDS” diagnosis. The primary concern about Ribe’s credibility is that he is under investigation by the L.A. Appellate Court for having submitted flawed and possibly fraudulent autopsy reports in several cases cases that led to murder convictions of parents.

Ribe concluded that Eliza Jane died of AIDS as determined by PCP pneumonia and “brain encephalopathy,” after an HIV-associated protein called p24 was found in her brain tissue, which Maggiore refers to as a “scavenger hunt” set into motion when no p24 was found in her daughter’s blood.

Critics say that p24 is found in healthy controls, outside of HIV contexts, and that EJ showed no signs of dementia or any brain abnormality while alive. Ribe stated adamantly on 20/20 Primetime that EJ’s lungs were ravaged by Pneumocystic organisms and her brain by “HIV,” which was not advertised as being found in the blood but only in the brain in the form of this one protein, p24.

The program set off another round of blog warfare and attacks on Maggiore. What was striking was the mercilessness in the voice of the attackers.

One woman, Heather Knolls Morgan, to cite one of countless examples of anti-Maggiore sociopathology on the Internet, wrote in to a thread at Reason’s Hit and Run blog: “Christine, your daughter is six feet under. Are you happy now?”

Here is another example, a flyer mentioned in the story, of the grotesque antics of the virtuous conformists who in their self righteous enmity of her independent mind passed around this vicious image to revenge themselves on the bereaved mother.

One of these groups printed a flyer that was originally a picture of EJ in a hat, taken from a website that friends of Maggiore and Scovill put up, but the photo was defaced. Black X marks were over her eyes, her lips were morphed and turned down over ghoulish teeth, and the text read: “I died of neglect and AIDS and then my Mommy paid people big bucks to lie and say it was bad medicine! See you in HELL Mommy!”

Farber sees through it all. Bringing order out of chaos, and light into this darkness, her article is a set of solid stepping stones, on which one treads behind her across the rushing, dark torrent of hysteria, fear, panic, and hostility that engulfs so many who do not have such a guide. She is also someone who lets Maggiore speak for herself.

Maggiore herself made the following arguments in her unpublished letters to the L.A. Times and in countless skirmishes with journalists and bloggers: First, that during the last two weeks of her daughter’s life, three doctors listened to EJ’s lungs and declared them “clear.” Her lungs were operating at full capacity three weeks before her death, when she was videotaped at a birthday party blowing an unfurling paper tooter repeatedly. (This footage was given to ABC Primetime, which did not air it.) She also noted that her daughter never turned blue in the extremities, but was “pink” until the very end, and that she did not die of respiratory failure, but rather, cardiac arrest. She said that although her daughter’s lungs on autopsy were fluid filled, there was no inflammation, and that pneumonia is characterized by inflammation.

In other words, nothing wrong with Eliza Jane’s lungs before she encountered amoxicillin. By the end, we see the heart of darkness that is the core of the sociology of HIV?AIDS, and the reasons why science and rational medicine have been set aside so easily at the level of the petty official, the common reporter, and the average Joe and Jane. All of these acted against the couple without any good reason to do ss.

The L.A. Times article by Costello and Ornstein contained no mention of EJ’s HIV status, or whether she was tested. Her HIV status was not contained in the coroner’s report, and for several weeks Maggiore and Scovill were faced with the Kafka-esque situation of being denied their own daughter’s HIV serology records (HIV tests, unlike other viral tests, are run repeatedly, often have different outcomes, and banding patterns that can be interpreted subjectively. It is not a clear Yes or No, and is often decided based on the patient’s identification with a risk group.)

Of course the real clincher is the mention of Eliza Jane’s T cell count, which was very healthy indeed. Nothing wrong with this child’s immune system, either.

Maniotis said something that I have never heard noted before. “They did a lymphocyte count on Eliza Jane when she was admitted to the hospital. Forget everything else. Her absolute lymphocyte count was 10,800 cells per milliliter. She was not immune suppressed. That’s all you’ve got to know. She could not have died from PCP and had 10,800 lymphocytes in her bloodstream at the time of death. No way. It just doesn’t happen. Nor could she have encephalitis. End of story, it’s that simple. 10,800 lymphocytes is very high, and the World Health Organization has said that it is a legitimate standard way of gauging the immune system, in the absence of testing for CD4/CD8 ratios. An AIDS patient has to have below 1,000 total lymphocyte counts. Normal is about 4,000 to 8,000. EJ’s was 10,800. Even according to the most strident HIV dogmatists, AIDS is still a disease of too few lymphocytes, not too many. All the pathologists I talk to find this logic hard to refute. She could not have had PCP, nor died of it.”

What’s surprising and reassuring is that not only has Maggiore’s spirit survived so far intact, but that she has found widespread support in her own community. One pillar is of course her husband, Robin Scoville, whose film, The Other Side of AIDS, remains one of the best and most accessible exposes of all that has turned rotten in this particular state of science.

If you’re going to put Christine and Robin on trial you may as well put all of us parents in this community on trial. We would have done no different than what they did—they are exceptional parents,” added Cliver. She says now, “I am so furious, and I told that detective what I thought of her. I told her how disgusting this is, to all of us, how morally and ethically wrong. “

None of the parents in the TK name community have turned against Maggiore and Scovill—far from it—they support them all the way, and continually tell the investigators as much each time they come knocking.

We think this piece by Farber is likely to be more powerful in explaining reality to those who want to know across the world than her twelve pages in Harpers. It will also serve as a powerful foretaste of her book, Serious Adverse Events, to be published on July 1, which will doubtless burn the fingers of the mandarins of HIV?AIDS science as they leaf through it wondering how to stop these tumbling propaganda dominoes.

Here is the story, with the original title and subhead, which we like better:

Los Angeles CityBeat

Jun 8 Thursday

THE MONSTER WITHIN

A year after the sudden death of Eliza Jane Scovill, the battle over the LA Coroner’s mystifying diagnosis has unleashed a heated battle between those who fear HIV and those who don’t. It’s getting very ugly. For “treatment activists,” it’s worth stooping to criminal harassment, and psychic torture to STOP Christine Maggiore from talking about what she thinks killed her daughter.

By Celia Farber

It was in the early spring of 2005 when Christine Maggiore and her two children, Eliza Jane, 3, and Charlie, 8, scored a tiny victory against loss.

A bee got caught on the windshield of their car as they drove Charlie to school. “EJ misheard something I said about nectar and thought the bee’s name was Hector,” Maggiore recalls.

Christine slowed the car down and drove the rest of the ride at 20 miles per hour, while the three of them, as she recalls it, “all shouted at Hector to hang on.”

“Charlie’s task was to report changes in stop lights to me so I could concentrate on Hector, while EJ was in charge of keeping up Hector’s spirits.”

They were late for school, but the bee named Hector was still alive when they got there 40 minutes later. The children watched attentively as Christine delivered him safely onto a lavender plant.

No such shielding spirits, providence, or mercy came their way on the terrible night of May 15. EJ had developed a runny nose and cough two weeks earlier, which resolved, but eventually developed into an ear infection. Christine, by all accounts a very protective mother, took EJ to a total of three doctors, all of whom said she had nothing serious, that her lungs sounded clear, and that Christine and her husband Robin Scovill should wait and watch, and place her on an antibiotic only if the ear infection worsened. A third doctor, a personal friend of the family who made a house call—was concerned about redness in EJ’s ears and prescribed an antibiotic called Amoxycillin, at 400 milligrams twice a day. After the second dose, on May 15, EJ vomited several times. After the third dose, by the next evening, she became agitated, pale, and cold to the touch. Robin called the doctor who had prescribed the antibiotic and while he was on the phone with him, Christine started screaming from the other room: “She stopped breathing!!”

Robin ran to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, while Christine, sobbing, called 911. Paramedics arrived and found EJ pulseless; they rushed her by ambulance to Valley Presbyterian Hospital, where she was pronounced dead after several hours of attempts to revive her. The EMT report stated that she had died of cardiac arrest. The attending physician that filled out a cause of death form stating that, in his opinion, “this death was caused by sepsis.”

When word started to trickle out that Christine Maggiore’s daughter had died, it carried a very loaded cargo even beyond the universal sadness no parent wants to fathom. For years she had been a public and well-known campaigner for the most agonized polemic in all of contemporary medicine—the fight about whether HIV “causes” AIDS. In recent years, the 49-year-old Maggiore—HIV positive and healthy for 14years—had relaxed her identity as a global warrior who fought the psychic death sentence attached to HIV. For years, hers had been a fairly benign message of positivism that her many detractors would spitefully call “AIDS denialism.” But at the time of EJ’s death she was enjoying being a stay-at-home mother who doted on her kids, raising them in a gentle, counter-cultural zone shared by a community that favored organic diets, limited antibiotics, and no vaccinations. Having first hand experience with the oddities and uncertainties of the HIV test, she quite naturally never had them tested for HIV. Nor did Eliza Jane’s two pediatricians of record—Dr. Paul Fleiss and Dr. Jay Gordon– ever request of the parents that they have EJ (or Charlie) tested.

The question of what killed little Eliza Jane has pitted those who question HIV’s role in AIDS against those who are certain it is uniformly deadly, and turned the “debate” into an all-out war. The evidence at the heart of the war is a Rorschach blot for everything that remains dizzyingly unresolved about what AIDS is and is not.

Four months after Eliza Jane died, after an initial autopsy finding no apparent cause of death, the couple got a call from a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Dan Costello, who said he was running a story on the coroner’s new assessment that EJ had died of AIDS—specifically, a kind of pneumonia called PCP. The L.A. Times had somehow been tipped off to this new result before the report was even completed. When Christine returned Costello’s call, and asked that they hold the story until there was time for them to even receive and digest the autopsy report, he told her he was under “tremendous pressure” to run with the story two days later.

“From whom?” she asked.

“I can’t say,” Costello answered.

“Is it the coroner’s office?” Maggiore asked.

“No,” he answered.

(Costello did not respond to an interview request. His cowriter Charles Ornstein said that their story would have to “stand on its own.”)

On September 12, 2005, the Times ran a cover story by Costello and Ornstein accusing Maggiore, in so many words, of murder. Titled, “A Mother’s Denial, A Daughter’s Death,” it was a slam-dunk indictment that assumed the revised coroner’s report was accurate, and that EJ had died of AIDS-related pneumonia—which could have been prevented if her mother had had her tested, and medicated with AIDS drugs. Pedicatricians who never laid eyes on EJ were quoted telling readers what she died of, and how they themselves could have saved her with their own HIV vigilance, and treatment strategies. (Optional)

The L.A. Times refused to publish a letter from Maggiore in which she spelled out the facts that contradicted the claims made about her daughter’s autopsy findings in the newspaper, citing a policy not to “publish letters that dispute known facts.”. It was around this time that I began to speak to Christine Maggiore on the phone and take notes on her story, which often left me speechless. I had been reporting on AIDS for 20 years, and we were both familiar with the impossibly censorious and even brutal treatment one can expect if one is branded an “AIDS denialist, ” which entails listening to those now countless scientists and MD’s (2300 and counting) who disagree with the paradgim. We talked about our own capacity for seeing, hearing, knowing reality. “I want to know what killed EJ,” she would say, and I felt she really meant that.

More and more, as time passed, I started to see the story as one that was less and less medical, more and more psycho-social – a story of an almost crushing kind of mob rule, where the victims have no rights. Few could resist the delicious temptation to condemn a “denialist” mother, or to appropriate EJ as their own tragic little girl. It was all done in the pitch-perfect tones of the AIDS morality play some of us know so well.

So; they have had their play. The lights have gone up, the mother is, in some minds, swinging from the gallows, and the pious are triumphant in their lament. Bloggers have made their names dissecting and re-dissecting EJ’s autopsy reports with tongue-clucking certainty. ABC Primetime showed footage of Christine and Robin watching film of EJ’s brain tissue, which was said to be ravaged by an HIV protein called p24. They then posted her autopsy report on their website, which the anti-Maggiore bloggers went at like sharks after chum. Anonymous hate groups sprouted from Bethesda to L.A., distributing increasingly deranged flyers, erecting an anti-Maggiore website, and even starting a new activist group : The “Christine Maggiore Action Committee,” (CMAC, pronounced “smack”) devoted to forcing her to publicly recant her HIV positions, and “apologize for her involvement in the AIDS denialism movement.” One of these groups printed a flyer that was originally a picture of EJ in a hat, taken from a website that friends of Maggiore and Scovill put up, but the photo was defaced. Black X marks were over her eyes, her lips were morphed and turned down over ghoulish teeth, and the text read: “I died of neglect and AIDS and then my Mommy paid people big bucks to lie and say it was bad medicine! See you in HELL Mommy!”

These and other similarly grisly flyers were distributed all over L.A.. She received profane, abusive emails from email addresses with her late daughter’s name in the address, as well as heavy breathing anonymous phone calls that were traced to the Gay and Lesbian Transgender Community Center (LGBT) in L.A. who also distributed 1,500 copies of a leaflet asking people to get involved in the campaign to “…Help STOP Christine Maggiore.”

All this all courtesy of the people who for years have instructed the world about “compassion.” They were once called “AIDS activists;” now they are called “Treatment Activists.” EJ Scovill’s death has become, in the past year, the very crucible of the HIV Causation War.

I have more of these profane and cruel flyers and emails at hand, but let’s stop there. The point is made. AIDS has become synonymous with rage and hatred of those who think differently from the orthodoxy. About that there is no question. The question is: In such a climate, what are the chances of anybody, on either side, being able to see clearly what the “facts” are about the sudden death of Eliza Jane Scovill, one year ago? Especially one fact: the county coroner has produced no HIV test on EJ Scovill.

AIDS is So Obvious

Christine Maggiore originally tested positive on an HIV test during a routine medical exam in 1992, and became a poster girl for heterosexual, middle-class AIDS, speaking to students and groups of young women, telling them: : “If I can get it, anybody can.”

But the spell broke. She became an HIV “skeptic” after she repeated the HIV test and tested inconclusive twice, positive three times, and negative once. This caused her to start researching the scientific underpinnings of the HIV test, the hypothesis itself, the assumptions about illness and death attached to it, and the wisdom of the drug regimens. She founded what would become the largest “dissident” AIDS charity in the country, Alive and Well, rooted in the heretical idea that people who tested positive for HIV antibodies could live long healthy lives and not die from HIV “infection,” per se. Above all it was about empowering people to read, research, and make informed choices. She never gave direct medical advice. She authored a self-published book: What if Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong? and became a kind of motivational figurehead for the HIV positives of the world, speaking, holding meetings, and working behind the scenes to help both mothers and fathers who were under siege by draconian HIV mandates.

Being hyper-aware of the high incidence of false positives, of the stigmas attached to the test and a positive result, and above all, of the crushing power of the state to enforce toxic medications, ban breastfeeding, and even seize perfectly healthy children at gunpoint if HIV positive mothers disobeyed, Maggiore says to this day that she does not regret not testing her children. Since EJ died, she had Charlie tested and he has tested negative on all tests, as has her husband Robin, with whom she has had unprotected sex for 11 years. Robin Scovill is an award-winning filmmaker who shares his wife’s convictions about the need to question HIV dogma. He won the Special Jury Prize at the AFI Los Angeles International Film festival for his documentary The Other Side of AIDS. (Scovill has been all but erased from media portrayals of the story, which focus instead on the archetypal Bad Mother.)

On May 16, 2005, Eliza Jane’s body was referred to the L.A. County Coroner to determine a cause of death, which was then listed as “unknown.” AIDS had not been considered initially. Maggiore and Scovill did not volunteer the news that Christine had tested positive, as well as negative and indeterminate, so the examiners initially did not see the girl’s body through the lens of HIV or AIDS. A friend of theirs, Keith Relkin, identifying himself as a student of public policy, called the coroner’s office on May 21, and asked if routine HIV tests were administered in cases of unexplained death. Relkin spoke to a male employee who told him the coroner does not consider routine HIV testing necessary because “AIDS is so obvious.” Coroner’s know, or knew before this case, that a PCP death caused massive destruction to the lungs and could be seen instantly.

Nor did the coroner consider, apparently, the possibility of an antibiotic-related death. The reason for all this obfuscation is clear to me: The mother is an “AIDS denialist,” and therefore stands accused of not seeing AIDS. What the medical examiners saw, before they knew whose daughter they were looking at, was nothing.

On May 18, L.A. County medical examiner Dr. Changsri called and spoke to Scovill, telling him that she had found “nothing apparent,” as a cause of death, and would need to see what might grow in cultures. Meanwhile, she would release Eliza Jane to a mortuary.

On May 26, an investigator from the coroner’s office called Dr. Paul Fleiss, one of Eliza Jane’s pediatricians, and asked if he knew about “the parents,” and “what happens when you Google the mother’s name.”

When Fliess replied he didn’t think Google searches would illuminate what killed Eliza Jane, the woman snapped that she thought Maggiore’s book had “everything to do” with the case. Under threat of subpeona, she demanded that Fleiss immediately fax Eliza Jane’s medical records to the coroner’s office.

In early August, Maggiore started calling the coroner’s office for any possible information about Eliza Jane’s second autopsy. She was told by the coroner’s office that the case had been placed on “security hold,” and no information was available. A Detective Castillo from the LAPD had ordered the hold; Maggiore was told she could get no additional information. A few days later, Maggiore called again and asked under what circumstances the hold might be lifted. The woman who answered the phone shouted: “Hold is hold. Do you understand the meaning of the word hold?” When Maggiore replied that she understood it to be a matter of waiting, the woman yelled: “It’s a police matter. You need to take it up with the police. Do you understand that?”

On September 13, somebody from the coroner’s office called and angrily told Scovill that they had determined the cause of death to be “AIDS pneumonia,” and that the family had caused them difficulty by “withholding information.”

But did EJ “have” HIV? Was she tested? Or was it her mother’s HIV positive status that caused the diagnosis—the Googling of her name and history? Did her lungs show evidence of fatal pneumonia? Did her blood show signs of a crashed immune system, as measured by lymphocyte counts, viral load, HIV antibodies, anything?

The couple were told that the new autopsy report would be ready by September 16. The couple provided their address. In this same conversation, they were told that EJ’s case had been so difficult because the coroner’s office “didn’t know HIV was an issue.”

On September 15, L.A. Times reporter Dan Costello left a voicemail message asking for comment on a story he had mostly written already, and which was scheduled to run on September 17. The L.A. Times did not have a copy of the coroner’s report, but had been told that the cause of death had been re-classified as “AIDS.” Coroner James Ribe had been brought in by Dr. Changsri to “help resolve” the case and it was he who had penned the word “AIDS” to the report. (THIS CRUCIAL) It is not known how the L.A. Times got this information, even before Scovill and Maggiore had received their copy of the coroner’s report in the mail, which was on September 23. (The Coroner’s office at press time had not returned a call for comment.)

The L.A. Times article by Costello and Ornstein contained no mention of EJ’s HIV status, or whether she was tested. Her HIV status was not contained in the coroner’s report, and for several weeks Maggiore and Scovill were faced with the Kafka-esque situation of being denied their own daughter’s HIV serology records (HIV tests, unlike other viral tests, are run repeatedly, often have different outcomes, and banding patterns that can be interpreted subjectively. It is not a clear Yes or No, and is often decided based on the patient’s identification with a risk group.)

“We have been trying since September of last year to gather information about and copies of any and all HIV-related diagnostics that may have been performed on our daughter post-mortem,” said Maggiore. “The position of the coroner’s office had been to refer us to the lab and the lab’s position is they’re not giving us anything absent a subpeona.” That seems suspicious, does it not?

Diagnostics aside, what about the corporeal evidence?

On what basis did the coroner determine, after four months, that EJ had died of PCP pneumonia? This is a question that has been analyzed into powder-grade detail on blogs, radio shows, and even network TV over the past year. HIV believers see pneumonia clear as day, those who question the causes of AIDS do not. Vituperative condescension is the one note struck by those who believe it was AIDS, bloggers being the most wild-eyed. “Bad mothering,” cant mixed with AIDS “denial” rage, against a backdrop of hatred against the entirety of Alternative Medicine Culture, depicted as “crackpots,” by the Libertarian leaning Internet rationlists. (Dean: This additon not critical. Don’t get mad.)

Maggiore herself made the following arguments in her unpublished letters to the L.A. Times and in countless skirmishes with journalists and bloggers: First, that during the last two weeks of her daughter’s life, three doctors listened to EJ’s lungs and declared them “clear.” Her lungs were operating at full capacity three weeks before her death, when she was videotaped at a birthday party blowing an unfurling paper tooter repeatedly. (This footage was given to ABC Primetime, which did not air it.) She also noted that her daughter never turned blue in the extremities, but was “pink” until the very end, and that she did not die of respiratory failure, but rather, cardiac arrest. She said that although her daughter’s lungs on autopsy were fluid filled, there was no inflammation, and that pneumonia is characterized by inflammation.

The day after EJ died, friend started worrying about the fairness and accuracy of any autopsy, and advised the couple to back up with an outside reviewer. Dr. Mohammed Al Bayati, a board certified toxicologist and pathologist, offered to review the L.A. Coroner’s autopsy findings for them, free of charge. He reviewed the autopsy data exhaustively over a period of four weeks and concluded: “Eliza Jane’s death was not caused by Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia or any type of pneumonia. Her lungs did not show an inflammatory response to medically justify a diagnosis of pneumonia of any kind. Eliza Jane’s death resulted from acute allergic reaction to amoxicillin [a form of penicillin] which caused severe hypotension, shock, and cardiac arrest.”

Anaphylactic deaths due to so-called beta-lactam antibiotics result in up to 1000 deaths per year. According to Al Bayati, and others who have reviewed his assessment of the coroner’s report, the most striking thing about EJ’s autopsy findings were the amount of displaced fluids in the body, suggestive of a massive toxic reaction. Forty percent of her body fluids had been displaced and “leaked out into the tissues,” which is consistent with toxicity, causing the body’s vasculature to become permeable. All of her organs—lungs, heart, liver and kidneys, were way larger than normal, engorged and fluid filled, which is what Al Bayati says caused multiple organ failure culminating in cardiac arrest.

This claim—that EJ was killed by a reaction to the antibiotic—in turn caused a massive wave of attacks on Al Bayati’s credibility throughout the blogophere. It was noted that he is on the advisory board of Alive and Well, and that he is on record having stated that he does not believe HIV causes AIDS.

There are several kinds of antibiotic reactions that can be fatal: Some are immediate and others are delayed, or “late,” occurring up to 72 hours after ingesting the drug. Package inserts for Amoxycillin describe possible fatal reactions that include: “cardiovascular collapse,” “nausea and vomiting,” and “hemolytic anemia.” (EJ was found to be severely anemic.)

Credibility wars raged against Al Bayati on the one hand, and Chief Coroner Dr. James Ribe on the other. Dr. Ribe was summoned to oversee the second autopsy, and arrived at the “AIDS” diagnosis. The primary concern about Ribe’s credibility is that he is under investigation by the L.A. Appellate Court for having submitted flawed and possibly fraudulent autopsy reports in several cases cases that led to murder convictions of parents.

Ribe concluded that Eliza Jane died of AIDS as determined by PCP pneumonia and “brain encephalopathy,” after an HIV-associated protein called p24 was found in her brain tissue, which Maggiore refers to as a “scavenger hunt” set into motion when no p24 was found in her daughter’s blood. Critics say that p24 is found in healthy controls, outside of HIV contexts, and that EJ showed no signs of dementia or any brain abnormality while alive. Ribe stated adamantly on 20/20 Primetime that EJ’s lungs were ravaged by Pneumocystic organisms and her brain by “HIV,” which was not advertised as being found in the blood but only in the brain in the form of this one protein, p24.

The program set off another round of blog warfare and attacks on Maggiore. What was striking was the mercilessness in the voice of the attackers.

One woman, Heather Knolls Morgan, to cite one of countless examples of anti-Maggiore sociopathology on the Internet, wrote in to a thread at Reason’s Hit and Run blog: “Christine, your daughter is six feet under. Are you happy now?”

Last Sunday, writing on the Op Ed page of The New York Times, pharmaceutical industry funded firebrandAIDS researcher Dr. John Moore, echoing recent calls by “treatment activists” to “wage war on AIDS denialism,” cited EJ’s death as a catalyzing reason HIV dissent could no longer be tolerated, and was indeed, “deadly quackery.” He claimed in this angry sermon to have special knowledge that EJ was “infected at birth” with HIV, and that she died of a treatable AIDS infection.This is what EJ’s death means to the punitive, sermonizing AIDS establishment and why they are fighting it so breathlessly: They need it. EJ is the justification for a pogrom on HIV dissent, and is serving to uphold the very paradigm of HIV always causing AIDS—even when it is not demonstrably there.

[subhed]

I called up University of Illinois at Chicagocell biologist and toxicology expert Dr. Andrew Maniotis, who will stand accused of “agreeing with Al Bayati,” and therefore being insane, to ask him for a lay person’s tour through this thicket. In a paper he wrote (not yet published) reviewing all the evidence, Maniotis wrote: “No one in their right mind would assume that the presence of the organism, [P. Cariini] especially in the absence of pneumonia … in an immuneocompetent host … equals a lethal case of PCP.”

In a telephone interview with City Beat, Maniotis said: “I wanted to come to my own conclusions because I needed to make my own peace with Christine Maggiore’s situation, which affected me deeply. So I started at the beginning. The events leading up to the death looks pretty much like a drug reaction. They should have focused on Amoxycillin first and foremost because it was the last agent taken. When she got to the hospital they gave her more antibiotics, intravenously, which is crazy. She had a heart attack—she wasn’t dying of an infection.”

I asked him how one can cut through the din and fog of whether it could have been “AIDS,” in the absence of news of an HIV test, or CD4 cell counts or viral load, which are the “surrogate markers” that bracket the entire clinical AIDS dialectic outside of this particular case, for which we are asked to alter all parameters in the name of exorcising “denialism.”

Maniotis said something that I have never heard noted before. “They did a lymphocyte count on Eliza Jane when she was admitted to the hospital. Forget everything else. Her absolute lymphocyte count was 10,800 cells per milliliter. She was not immune suppressed. That’s all you’ve got to know. She could not have died from PCP and had 10,800 lymphocytes in her bloodstream at the time of death. No way. It just doesn’t happen. Nor could she have encephalitis. End of story, it’s that simple. 10,800 lymphocytes is very high, and the World Health Organization has said that it is a legitimate standard way of gauging the immune system, in the absence of testing for CD4/CD8 ratios. An AIDS patient has to have below 1,000 total lymphocyte counts. Normal is about 4,000 to 8,000. EJ’s was 10,800. Even according to the most strident HIV dogmatists, AIDS is still a disease of too few lymphocytes, not too many. All the pathologists I talk to find this logic hard to refute. She could not have had PCP, nor died of it.”

There is a coroner’s report that has listed as the cause of death “AIDS” for Eliza Jane Scovill, and despite all the arrows that point away from that conclusion, the witchhunt against Maggiore and Scovill is in full swing and showing no signs of abating.

A criminal investigation of neglect leading to homicide has been under way for months, and hangs like a sword over the family each day. Detectives have called all the parents from Charlie’s school, neighbors, friends, parents of playmates, and grilled them for details about EJ’s condition in the last weeks of her life. “They have been going around asking parents questions about Eliza Jane’s snot,” says Maggiore incredulously. “Was it green? Yellow? One parent opened the door and said sarcastically to the police officer: “I guess you want to talk to me about the cold sore do you? Come on in.” The officer jumped on it: “What do you know about the cold sore?”

When Shari Cliver got the call from a police officer, who said she was “calling about the death of Eliza Jane Scovill,” Cliver became enraged. “EJ was like any other kid,” she says with desperation in her voice. “I told the detective she was perfectly healthy and normal and you need to do your homework and figure out who I am and then call me back. I was this family’s nanny.”

“If you’re going to put Christine and Robin on trial you may as well put all of us parents in this community on trial. We would have done no different than what they did—they are exceptional parents,” added Cliver. She says now, “I am so furious, and I told that detective what I thought of her. I told her how disgusting this is, to all of us, how morally and ethically wrong. “

None of the parents in the TK name community have turned against Maggiore and Scovill—far from it—they support them all the way, and continually tell the investigators as much each time they come knocking.

Christine Maggiore says, in a steady voice, choosing her words carefully: “To a certain extent, in all the darkness there has been light. Blessings. My immediate world is a beautiful place. A family I love, friends and neighbors. But it’s a daily struggle. There is no immediate solace.”

Celia Farber is the author of a new book, Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS. Her most recent article appeared on the cover of the March 2006 Harper’s

Michael Faraday comments on the HIV?AIDS scene

June 6th, 2006


Rather sadly, since he saw it all coming

An hour ago we got in touch with the spirit of Michael Faraday, wondering what he might have to say about the current HIV?AIDS madness from his saintly but realistic point of view.

Across the light years, we could hear him sigh and almost inaudibly breathe these words:

“Men are so often bowed down and carried forward from fallacy to fallacy, their eyes not being opened to see what that fallacy is…the more acute a man is, the more he is bound by the chains of error; for he only uses his ingenuity to falsify the truth which lies before him.”

We tried to arrange a conference call with John Moore, but the connection broke before we could manage it.

Times publishes scurrilous John Moore Op-Ed piece against “denialists”

June 4th, 2006


Second mistake of defenders of HIV?AIDS paradigm

As the UN “AIDS at 25” delegates depart, and probably also as a consequence of the Harper’s March issue coverage of the questionable science of HIV?AIDS, both in theory and in its drug trials, the New York Times today publishes a counter attack on the “denialists” by John Moore, a Cornell scientist whose happy exploitation of the ruling paradigm is matched by his scathing contempt for those who question it, with the exception of Peter Duesberg, that he doesn’t dare mention, it appears.

Like Robert Gallo’s precipitate response to the Harper’s article, Deadly Quackery is a political error that probably has Anthony Fauci wringing his hands at the crumbling of his highly successful strategy, which has over two decades kept the issue from the public gaze, of banning mention of the dispute in the public media. Now he has not only Gallo’s unfortunate and clumsy defense of the status quo to worry about, but John Moore’s equally ill thought out fatwa.

Presumably the Times editors feel that this will help defend them against the threat of the Harper’s article, and take eyes off their record in this affair. But we doubt it. The article, a Web level diatribe, is so poorly stated that it will raise questions in the mind of any worldly reader all over again, as soon as any independent commentator on the HIV?AIDS debacle gets a piece on the same page in reply.

Of course, the Times would be wise not to allow any such reply. For the newspaper’s record in this regard is tragically an embarrassment to their reputation more excruciating that the Jayson Blair affair, because it involves public irresponsibility on the part of the editors and the science reporters which has apparently contributed to the illness and death of tens of thousands of people around the globe. That is true if the best scientific literature is to be believed, and presumably it can be, on the basis that the work of the skeptics that the Times has ignored and dismissed is the most intensely peer reviewed of all.

Meanwhile, John Moore’s achievement is to present startling evidence of the contempt in which he and (the worldly reader will assume) other scientists supporting the paradigm hold those who legitimately question the HIV=AIDS assumption which serves them so well, but visibly serves the AIDS patients of the world so ill. Not simply his contempt for the questioners, either, but for the process of science itself.

Let’s deconstruct this piece, which contains unscientific statements of such blatant calumny as to bring the reputation of Cornell itself into question.

A considered reply to it might go as follows:

Mainstream nonscience in HIV?AIDS

John Moore, in “Deadly Quackery”, wants to tell the world that “H.I.V. causes AIDS”, and that “this is not a controversial claim but an established fact, based on more than 20 years of solid science. It is as certain as the descent of humans from apes and the falling of dropped objects to the ground.” He says he is forced to repeat the obvious, because lately a “bizarre theory” has gained ground that HIV is harmless, and that antiretroviral drugs cause rather than treat AIDS. This dangerous idea has emerged as a genuine menace in the US and in South Africe, he writes, where it has encouraged President Thabo Mbeki to slow access to such drugs, so that only a quarter of those who need them receive them.

Sophisticated readers of the Times might think, on the contrary, that such an adamant denial that there is anything fundamentally wrong with AIDS raises questions all of its own. Why has this apparently “bizarre” revisionism gained a foothold if it has nothing to be said for it, particularly with such a notably intelligent black leader in Africa as Thabo Mbeki?

The answer, of course, is that there is something very visibly wrong with the scientific ideology that has held sway for twenty years, and the supporters of the ruling wisdom have no convincing answers to explain it. The name that John Moore apparently hesitates to mention with the same disrespect as other “denialists”, as he calls them, in his piece is Peter Duesberg.

From almost the beginning of the era of HIV/AIDS, where the genetically challenged retrovirus HIV has been blamed for all of AIDS, this senior Berkeley retrovirologist, who is recognized by many as one of the best thinkers in science, has reviewed and dismissed every last reason advanced by its promoters as to why HIV should cause AIDS. His last comprehensive review in 2003, published in the Journal Biosciences of the respectable Indian National Academy of Sciences, presented a revisionist view of what is happening in AIDS, in which all the inconsistencies and insults to accepted science and common sense which the conventional wisdom embodies are no longer present. Meanwhile the co-authored paper also shows that of 17 predicted outcomes which are implied by the ruling HIV=AIDS paradigm, not one has been realized.

Moore, whose career is flourishing as a proponent of HIV and researcher with funding premised on it as the true cause of AIDS, likes to call the independent view that HIV=AIDS should be reassessed “denialism”, so that it is tarred with the political brush of holocaust denialism. But contrary to his implication that the view is nonscience, it is a case closely argued on a scientific basis by professional and layman alike. Those with scientific and professional qualifications who publicly object to the paradigm number in the thousands, including two Nobelists, and the intelligent laymen that join them are responding to inconsistencies which often insult common sense.

These inherent problems date from the initial claim of Robert Gallo that HIV was the “probable” cause of AIDS, unlikely in itself since his research had found the virus in only one third of patients with AIDS, which argued to the contrary. In fact, Robert Gallo could be said to have been the first scientist to prove that HIV was not the cause of AIDS, if only anybody had troubled to read his papers before reporting his false conclusion. But then, they were not yet published in Science at the time of the press conference led by Margaret Heckler, President Reagan’s secretary of health, who was notoriously anxious to have a political solution to what was proving a thorn in the side of the Administration.

The inconsistencies have only mounted with every passing year: no longer is it believed that HIV kills T-cells, for example, once the very lynchpin of the theory of why and how it causes AIDS. The most recent problem is the mainstream studies which show that the antibodies detected by the HIV test (it detects antibodies, not the virus) are completely unable to be transferred through heterosexual sex, as one would expect. Where does that leave the current political brouhaha about whether AIDS aid can go to organizations advising condoms? Where in fact does it leave the whole concept of the infectious pandemic sweeping the world, which according to last week’s UN discussions now demands $20 billion for preventive action and ARVs if we are to slow it?

These studies only confirm the many other signs that the AIDS is not and never was an infectious epidemic in the United States either, since as was pointed out in the early nineties, the prediction of a heterosexual epidemic was not then nor has it afterwards ever been realized. The rise and fall of the numbers of AIDS cases never correlated with the graph of HIV prevalence, which has remained around one million people in the US for the duration of the phenomenon.

An epidemic which is not infectious through HIV is not something that should be treated with anti-HIV drugs, which is the rationale for the current range of antivirals given patients, the triple cocktail regimen of mixed AZT, ddI and protease inhibitors for which so much is claimed. That is, unless those claims are true, in which case their effect is due to some other effect than interfering with HIV.

Since reports of the beneficial effect of the triple cocktail or HAART drug regimen are widespread – in fact, in our experience that is the chief reason why any questioning of HIV is initially rejected by both patients and the health workers who treat them – it is clear that they do initially help in some manner, though not necessarily because they defeat HIV. They must be effective because they substitute for a weakened immune system, by attacking viruses and other infections directly and, some studies indicate, even helping to restore the nutrient balance essential for the proper working of the immune system.

To make fun of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the Health Minister of South Africa, and of the vitamin salesman Matthias Rath and their advisors Roberto Geraldo (an MD and tropical disease expert who is a specialist in HIV testing at Cornell) and David Rasnick for promoting vitamins and nutrients in lemon, garlic and olive oil as better boosters for a failing immune system than ARV’s is a childish insult rooted in Moore’s disrespect for their skepticism on the HIV paradigm.

In fact the nutritional approach makes perfect sense if the cause of severe immune decline is not HIV, as the incessant paradigm propaganda has it, but an illness induced by extreme drug use in the US, or extreme malnourishment, severe poverty and TB, malaria and the many tropical diseases of Africa, now to be compounded by misapplied drugs of severe toxicity. Anyone who trumpets the saving grace of the current HAART regimen has to explain the appalling side effects, and why nearly half of current AIDS deaths in the US are due to liver disease, which is a drug symptom not even on the AIDS list.

Since there is not yet any specific, scientific, clinching evidence for the HIV=AIDS position John Moore is married to, still no paper to reference which proves the theory, or even details the mechanism, which the mainstream theorists acknowledge is still a “conundrum”, let alone provides any preventive or cure, even after a twenty year search costing billions of dollars, perhaps it is time that he and his colleagues admitted the questionability if not failure of their favored hypothesis, and respected other positions.

In particular, he might stop using a degree of venomous hostility to the idea of opening up the debate which suggests that it is a purposeful effort to block it off with force and verbal violence, rather than defeat it with argument and evidence.

As it happens “letter writer to South African newspapers” David Rasnick is a colleague and coauthor of Peter Duesberg’s at Berkeley who developed an independent view of HIV and AIDS after years of working on developing protease inhibitors in the pharmaceutical industry, so his familiarity with the mainstream literature on the non-transmissability of HIV is not surprising. On the other hand, John Moore’s public lack of familiarity with his own side’s literature on this point is astonishing, and suggests that the defense of HIV is as divorced from the scientific literature as ever.

Perhaps it is time that the liberal distribution of federal funds in support of a paradigm on which President Bush has promised $15 billion in US aid, and on which the nations of the world now want to spend $20 billion, but which entirely ignores the conclusions of the corrective literature of the field, be reassessed. Should more taxpayer money go to a theory which is exposed as unsupported in the scientific literature than to the alternatives its critics suggest? Should more money go to what may be an entirely misbegotten analysis of AIDS as infectious, rather than to a new understanding of it as a universal relabeling of conventional threats to health? Should AIDS research and prevention be better funded than cancer or heart disease, without double checking that the fundamental concept of AIDS is correct?

Finally, isn’t the tone and thrust of John Moore’s complaint in itself a reason to smell something fishy about the whole ideology it promotes? What respectable scientist with firm confidence in his theory stoops to labeling his questioners with politically smearing nomenclature such as “denialist”, attacks the credibility of a woman who has lost her child by implying that her position on HIV had anything to do with its death (Ms Maggiore’s child died in 24 hours of symptoms consistent with a conventional systemic overreaction to the double dose of amoxicillin she was given for an infected ear, and the coroner’s belated attempt to connect it with HIV is theoretically spurious), and derides a respected, 150 year old journal, Harper’s, for reporting its discovery of the “out of control corruption of AIDS science” only out of a desire to “sell magazines”?

Harper’s in fact reported that not only is the HIV=AIDS theory of Mr Moore’s field so far scientifically unsupported, but that two of its many drug trials administered by the DAIDS had in the first case callously risked the lives of patients (ending one of them), and in the second case been so poorly conducted as to be scientifically worthless. Yet the results of the second, a Uganda trial of the obviously dangerous drug nevirapine (Viramune), were endorsed by DAIDS officials, reviewed and cleared by scientists funded by the NIH, to justify FDA approval for nevirapine, which will now be exported overseas to dose expectant mothers in Africa to prevent their transmitting the HIV virus to their babies, despite the numerous deaths recorded in the inadequate trial.

As opposed to Moore’s damning the AIDS critics as purveyors of non-peer reviewed pseudoscience, bolstered by uninformed Web discussion, Celia Farber’s clear view in Harper’s of the AIDS scene in both its science and medicine revealed that it is John Moore and his colleagues who indulge in peer rejected pseudoscience and whose motives are suspect, given the clear conflict of interest involved in their sources of funding, which tend heavily towards the companies that market AIDS drugs against HIV. Moore himself is beholden to Bristol-Myers Squibb, for example, the richest source of corporate grants for unrestricted medical research.

But such considerations are petty, in the end, for they apply to most scientists today. The true signal of all that is wrong with HIV and AIDS is the endless effort by those piloting the paradigm to avoid having to land it for inspection. This indication of bad faith is the greatest cause for worry that for twenty one years we have had it all wrong, and misled ourselves and mistreated the patients whom we have mismedicated and so often lost.

Expanding the preventive effort and spending billions more on research without acknowledging that other ways of understanding what has happened may be preferable and should be explored will only risk continuing down the same disastrous cul de sac and leading many more millions into a greater medical holocaust than has been suffered to date.

The New York Times

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June 4, 2006

Op-Ed Contributor

Deadly Quackery

By JOHN MOORE and NICOLI NATTRASS

H.I.V. causes AIDS. This is not a controversial claim but an established fact, based on more than 20 years of solid science. It is as certain as the descent of humans from apes and the falling of dropped objects to the ground.

So why reiterate the obvious? Because lately, a bizarre theory has gained ground — one that claims that H.I.V. is harmless, and that the antiretroviral drugs that curb the growth of the virus cause rather than treat AIDS. Such talk sounds to most of us like quackery, but the theory has emerged as a genuine menace to public health in the United States and, particularly, in South Africa.

The theory, which we call AIDS denialism, has gained such currency with President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa that his administration is reluctant to expand access to antiretroviral drugs. Despite generous allocations from the country’s Treasury and substantial assistance from foreign donors, only a quarter of those needing antiretrovirals receive them. This response is poor by the standards of middle-income countries, but it is especially troublesome in South Africa, which has more H.I.V.-positive people than any other country.

American AIDS denialists are partly to blame for South Africa’s backsliding AIDS policy. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the health minister, has described antiretrovirals as poisons. She is supported in these views by Roberto Giraldo, a New York hospital technologist who says AIDS is caused by deficiencies in the diet, and who served on President Mbeki’s AIDS advisory panel in 2000. The minister promotes nutritional alternatives like lemons, garlic and olive oil to treat H.I.V. infection. Several prominent South Africans have died of AIDS after opting to change their diets instead of taking antiretrovirals.

Another American AIDS denialist, David Rasnick, a regular letter-writer to South African newspapers, absurdly claims that H.I.V. cannot be transmitted between heterosexuals. Mr. Rasnick now works in South Africa for a multinational vitamin company, the Rath Foundation, conducting clinical trials in which AIDS patients are encouraged to take multivitamins instead of antiretrovirals.

In the past, South Africa’s Medicines Control Council acted swiftly to curb such abuses, and the Medical Research Council condemned AIDS denialism. But recent high-level political appointments of administration supporters to both bodies have neutered their influence. In South Africa, AIDS denialism now underpins a lucrative nutritional supplements industry that has the tacit, and sometimes active, support of the Mbeki administration.

By courting the AIDS denialists, President Mbeki has increased their stature in the United States. He lent credibility to Christine Maggiore, a Californian who campaigns against using antiretrovirals to prevent transmission of H.I.V. from mothers to children, when he was photographed meeting her. Two years later, Ms. Maggiore gave birth to an H.I.V.-infected daughter, Eliza Jane, who acquired an AIDS-related infection last year and died at age 3.

Mother-to-child H.I.V. transmission is now rare in the United States, thanks to the widespread use of preventive therapy and the activities of organizations like the National Institutes of Health and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Sadly, this is not so in South Africa, where many children are born infected and then face short, painful lives. The health and lives of American children are also still under threat: a small clique of AIDS denialists is trying to block the provision of antiretrovirals to H.I.V.-infected children in the New York City foster care system.

Until recently, AIDS researchers and activists in the United States tended to regard the denialists with derision, assuming they would fade away. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Harper’s Magazine recently published an article by Celia Farber promoting the denialist view. There is a real risk that a new generation of Americans could be persuaded that H.I.V. either doesn’t exist or is harmless, that safe sex isn’t important and that they don’t need to protect their children from this deadly virus. A resurgence of denialism in the United States would have far reaching effects on the global AIDS pandemic, just as it already has in South Africa.

The AIDS denialists use pseudoscience and non-peer-reviewed Internet postings to bolster their false claims about H.I.V. The real facts about this virus have been uncovered by scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health, the British and South African Medical Research Councils, the Pasteur Institute and many other national research organizations. The public should seek AIDS truth from the latter sources.

It is sad when selling magazines and vitamin supplements is considered more important than promoting public health and scientific truth. The truth is that H.I.V. does exist, that it causes AIDS and that antiretroviral drugs can prevent H.I.V. transmission and death from AIDS. To deny these facts is not just wrong — it’s deadly.

John Moore is a professor of microbiology and immunology at Cornell University. Nicoli Nattrass is the director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit at the University of Cape Town.

At UN Conference, ubiquitous AIDS meme spread around world by media

June 3rd, 2006


With still no vaccine available, only pockets of sanity remain

Though testing has yet to confirm it for every case, it is now believed that the AIDS meme in the past decade has infected 100% of international organisations such as UNAIDS, UNICEF, and WHO, as well all activist NGOs in the field, the media who cover them, and nearly all the governments of the world, with the sole exception of the South African government led by Thabo Mbeki, who apparently is one of the rare politicians, possibly unique, who has a natural immunity to putting the welfare of his people in the hands of the well paid practitioners of modern Western medical science if their possibly mistaken and self-serving claims don’t add up in terms of common sense.

Now this week’s government level gathering at the UN of all these institutional victims of the HIV=AIDS meme has resulted in their unwittingly fueling an unprecedented surge of the HIV?AIDS infopandemic around the world, media coverage of the UN conference this week shows.

It has been known for some time that the original media victim of the HIV=AIDS meme was none other than Larry K. Altman MD himself, the medical correspondent of the New York Times, who was apparently infected on or about April 23, 1984. The effect of the meme was to wipe out all the critical acumen in the worthy Altman’s brain, so that when presented with the dictum “We have discovered the probable cause of AIDS” by Margaret Heckler at the famous press conference that day featuring the dashing Robert Gallo in aviator glasses, the mentally paralyzed Altman was unable to ask the obvious question, why HIV, which only occurred in one third of the patient blood samples, and not, if any virus, cytomegalovirus, which could be detected in 97%?

The brain crippling meme subsequently spread through the entire staff of the Times, it is now clear, since the many objections to the HIV ideology which have been repeatedly published in the scientific and lay literature since have never been properly reported, let alone examined, by anyone at the Times, even though they are visible to many without scientific or medical training in the public at large. Such people apparently also have the rare natural immunity to overeaching and self serving claims by modern scientists, especially those wearing aviator spectacles.

Possibly to their everlasting embarrassment, if a vaccine against the meme is ever found, those at the Times taken over by the paralyzing mental microbe include even Nicholas Wade and Philip Hilts, previously distinguished reporters and critics of science who co-authored “Betrayers of the Truth”, a book which warned of the capacity of scientists to try and pull the wool over the eyes of the public and the politicians who might fund their work.

But since then the meme has evidently spread throughout the media, though as yet reporters are rarely tested, owing to the expense, and it is a rare publication in any country that has any resistance at all to the spreading infopandemic. With the refinement of satellite communication technology and the Web it is now known that the media reporters themselves have been and are primarily responsible for the unprecedented rate of new infections around the world in recent years.

While media coverage at the Times and elsewhere of the UN meeting this week shows that the AIDS meme is claiming millions of new victims annually, and may well infect virtually the entire population of the world by the year 2020, the coverage itself this week is believed to have already contributed to a new surge.

At the Times, Larry Altman and Elizabeth Rosenthal have rolled over for the mainstream HIV?AIDS global pandemic narrative all week, culminating in today’s report, UN Strengthens Call for a Global Battle Against AIDS. This report in the usual slavish Altman manner simply repeats the press conference claims of the UN spokesmen during the week, sometimes almost drawn verbatim from the UN press releases:

In the 25 years since the first case was discovered, AIDS has become one of the worst pandemics in history, infecting 60 million people and leading to 25 million deaths.

The New York Times

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June 3, 2006

U.N. Strengthens Call for a Global Battle Against AIDS

By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN and ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

UNITED NATIONS, June 2 — The General Assembly adopted a strongly worded declaration on Friday aimed at pressing the nations of the world to strengthen their battle against AIDS, a global pandemic that Secretary General Kofi Annan called “the greatest challenge of our generation.”

The language of the document surprised even anti-AIDS groups, which said that while it did not satisfy all their objectives, they had feared it would be watered down. In turn, United Nations officials credited the advocacy groups for strengthening the draft in behind-the-scenes struggles during an extraordinary three-day plenary session.

The nonbinding declaration reaffirms commitments made in 2001, when the United Nations defined AIDS as far more than a medical issue, framing it in terms of politics, human rights and economic survival.

At the time, few felt that effective delivery of the antiretroviral therapy now provided to some people in poor countries was possible, and there was little money for the program.

The new document is a political blueprint, not a plan of action. It calls for a strong commitments to bolster the rights of women and girls so they can protect themselves from infection with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. The document also acknowledges the role of men in spreading the disease and their responsibility to respect women.

The declaration calls on countries to use scientifically documented prevention strategies, including condoms; to make clean needles accessible to drug users; and to take steps to provide universal access to prevention programs, care and antiretroviral drugs.

It includes politically charged terms like “condoms” and “vulnerable groups,” though those groups are not specified. Many advocates have urged the United Nations to acknowledge frankly that some of today’s fastest-growing H.I.V. epidemics are among intravenous drug users, prostitutes and gay men.

Countries will be expected to measure their progress over the next five years against targets to be determined by the United Nations.

To achieve these and other goals, the declaration said, the world will need to spend up to $23 billion a year by 2010, almost triple the $8.3 billion spent last year. The challenge is for governments to follow through after delegates go home, the General Assembly’s president, Ian Eliasson of Sweden, said at a news conference.

In the 25 years since the first case was discovered, AIDS has become one of the worst pandemics in history, infecting 60 million people and leading to 25 million deaths.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Annan delivered a gloomy assessment, saying the world was losing the battle.

“The epidemic continues to outpace us,” he told a packed session of the General Assembly. “There are more new infections than ever before; more deaths than ever before; more women and girls infected than ever before.”

His dark tone diverged markedly from the upbeat speeches by world leaders at the start of the three-day session on Wednesday, and from the positive speech given Friday morning by Laura Bush, the first lady.

Mrs. Bush said the United States contributed more money than any other country to fight AIDS, which “respects no national boundaries; spares no race or religion; and devastates men and women, rich and poor alike.”

Mrs. Bush noted that her husband had put forth a plan in 2003 that contributes $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS internationally.

Her speech steered away from many of the criticisms that have been leveled against the administration, notably that it promotes sexual abstinence over scientifically proven strategies, particularly condom use. Indeed, she said, the “ABC” model — the initials stand for abstain, be faithful and use condoms — had brought sharp declines in infections in Africa.

Britain’s secretary of state for international development, Hilary Benn, noting policy differences between his country and the United States, said in an interview that abstinence alone did not work.

Mr. Benn, whose country contributes the second-largest amount to fight AIDS, criticized the declaration for not spelling out the ways the virus is transmitted through sex and through contaminated needles used to inject drugs, and from mother to infant through birth and nursing.

“Abstinence is fine for those who are able to abstain, but human beings like to have sex and they should not die because they do have sex,” Mr. Benn told the assembly.

Dr. Mark Dybul, the acting United States global AIDS coordinator, said in an interview that the United Nations had passed “a fine declaration” in which he had not found any weak points.

Adrienne Germain, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition, said the document could be used “to make significant progress in going forward” in the fight.

But some advocacy groups said the document did not satisfy all their objectives.

The Center for Health and Gender Equity, which says it represents nearly 70 international advocacy groups, denounced the document for failing to show greater political leadership; refusing to make a commitment to more definitive targets on financing, prevention, care and treatment; and rejecting frank acknowledgment that some of today’s fastest-growing epidemics are occurring among injecting drug users, prostitutes and gay men.

Dr. Peter Piot, the executive director of the United Nations program, said that while no document could make anyone “100 percent happy,” the final version was “a major advance” and far stronger than the weaker drafts circulating earlier in the week.

Another of the leading media victims of the AIDS meme is CBS, its critical resistance to the stories of officialdom once extremely high, especially at Sixty Minutes, but in the aftermath of the Dan Rather debacle, weakened to the point where it is now completely wiped out by the brain invading virus.

Thus in the following report, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin’s frequent recognition in her story that the claims of her sources in HIV?AIDS are “incredible”, “hard to believe” etc is apparently only a reflex left over from earlier eras, without connection to the active frontal cortex. The defensive brain cells that normally fight off invading memes, helped by the medicating doses of skepticism freely available earlier at Black Rock, are apparently helpless in the face of the viral onslaught.

The latest statistics show that in the United States, there are 40,000 new HIV infections every year. Incredibly, that number has not changed in a decade…

Powerful drugs have enabled people to live longer. But there are still about 15,000 AIDS deaths every year.

The fastest-growing group getting infected? Heterosexual women like Dawn Averitt Bridge, who now make up 27 percent of new cases…

“The idea that there aren’t positive women out there …. there are probably 300,000 to 400,000 women in this country living with the disease,” says Averitt Bridge, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1988…

Today, Averitt Bridge runs the Well Project, a group for HIV-positive women. She’s managed to live a full, healthy life, even raising two daughters. But she worries that the American infection rate will remain high.

“We are afraid to talk about HIV,” she says. “We’re afraid that somehow we’re going to own HIV if we talk about it. It’s the elephant in the room in so many settings — and unfortunately we have a long, long way to go.”

That can be hard to believe after 25 years and a disease that has claimed 25 million lives.

Slow Progress In Fight Vs. AIDS – 25 Years After First Cases Found, Global Scourge Shows No Signs Of Abating

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Slow Progress In Fight Vs. AIDS

June 2, 2006(CBS) Twenty-five years ago, the first newspaper headlines documented a medical mystery: 41 cases of a rare cancer seen only in gay men. Who could have known that this was the beginning of the AIDS epidemic? Now, says CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin, AIDS and the virus that causes it, HIV, are a global scourge.

On Friday, the United Nations concluded its High-Level Meeting on AIDS, a three-day gathering designed to hammer out better strategies for slowing a seemingly never-ending tide of infections — now numbering 40 million worldwide.

A full quarter-century after the first cases were discovered, meetings about AIDS ignite protest and controversy. Few diseases, if any, remain so emotionally and politically charged.

In the United States, doctors like Jay Levy, who has followed the spread of AIDS from the beginning, fear that Americans, especially young Americans, just don’t care.

“What is wrong is that out best vaccine, which is education, is not working,” he says.

The latest statistics show that in the United States, there are 40,000 new HIV infections every year. Incredibly, that number has not changed in a decade.

Powerful drugs have enabled people to live longer. But there are still about 15,000 AIDS deaths every year.

The fastest-growing group getting infected? Heterosexual women like Dawn Averitt Bridge, who now make up 27 percent of new cases.

“The idea that there aren’t positive women out there …. there are probably 300,000 to 400,000 women in this country living with the disease,” says Averitt Bridge, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1988.

Today, Averitt Bridge runs the Well Project, a group for HIV-positive women. She’s managed to live a full, healthy life, even raising two daughters. But she worries that the American infection rate will remain high.

“We are afraid to talk about HIV,” she says. “We’re afraid that somehow we’re going to own HIV if we talk about it. It’s the elephant in the room in so many settings — and unfortunately we have a long, long way to go.”

That can be hard to believe after 25 years and a disease that has claimed 25 million lives.©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Feedback Terms of Service Privacy Statement

Thus the 60 Minutes level CBS immunity to nonsense from official sources, weakened by the Rather mess, is deactivated by the AIDS meme, which allows free access to the interior of the mind without any resistance beyond feeble semi-conscious cries of “It seems incredible but” and “Hard to believe but”.

Other major media victims reduced to mental paralysis and abject servility in the face of the meme attack include AP and Forbes, which reproduce the meme’s genetic makeup in multiple copies without a single strand of caution in AIDS’ Next 25 Years May Be Worse for Africa By Terry Leonard :

It began innocuously, when a statistical anomaly pointed to a mysterious syndrome that attacked the immune systems of gay men in California. No one imagined 25 years ago that AIDS would become the deadliest epidemic in history….

“It is the worst and deadliest epidemic that humankind has ever experienced,” Mark Stirling, the director of East and Southern Africa for UNAIDS, said in an interview.

More effective medicines, better access to treatment and improved prevention in the last few years have started to lower the grim projections. But even if new infections stopped immediately, additional African deaths alone would exceed 40 million, Stirling said.

“We will be grappling with AIDS for the next 10, 20, 30, 50 years,” he said….

Besides the personal suffering of the infected and their families, the epidemic already has had devastating consequences for African education systems, industry, agriculture and economies in general. The impact is magnified because AIDS weakens and kills many young adults, people in their most productive years.

So many farmers and farmworkers have died of AIDS that the U.N. has invented the term “new variant famine.” It means that because of AIDS, the continent will experience persistent famine for generations instead of the usual cycles of hunger tied to variable weather…

Nobody knows for sure when or where, but the AIDS epidemic is thought to have begun in the primeval forests of West Africa when a virus lurking in the blood of a monkey or a chimpanzee made the leap from one species to another, infecting a hunter.

Researchers have found HIV in a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa, Congo. Genetic analysis of his blood suggested the HIV infection stemmed from a single virus in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

For decades at least, the early human infections went unnoticed on a continent where life routinely is harsh, short and cheap…

“There is evidence to suggest we are at the tipping point,” said Stirling.

The pace of change over the last couple of years suggests the number of new infections can be reduced by 50 to 60 percent by 2020 – if the momentum continues.

“It is surely possible, it is doable,” Stirling said.

Associated Press

AIDS’ Next 25 Years May Be Worse for Africa

By TERRY LEONARD , 06.02.2006, 03:35 PM

It began innocuously, when a statistical anomaly pointed to a mysterious syndrome that attacked the immune systems of gay men in California. No one imagined 25 years ago that AIDS would become the deadliest epidemic in history.

Since June 5, 1981, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has killed more than 25 million people, infected 40 million others and left a legacy of unspeakable loss, hardship, fear and despair.

Its spread was hastened by ignorance, prejudice, denial and the freedoms of the sexual revolution. Along the way from oddity to pandemic, AIDS changed they way people live and love.

Slowed but unchecked, the epidemic’s relentless march has established footholds in the world’s most populous countries. Advances in medicine and prevention that have made the disease manageable in the developed world haven’t reach the rest.

In the worst case, sub-Saharan Africa, it has been devastating. And the next 25 years of AIDS promise to be deadlier than the first.

AIDS could kill 31 million people in India and 18 million in China by 2025, according to projections by U.N. population researchers. By then in Africa, where AIDS likely began and where the virus has wrought the most devastation, researchers said the toll could reach 100 million.

“It is the worst and deadliest epidemic that humankind has ever experienced,” Mark Stirling, the director of East and Southern Africa for UNAIDS, said in an interview.

More effective medicines, better access to treatment and improved prevention in the last few years have started to lower the grim projections. But even if new infections stopped immediately, additional African deaths alone would exceed 40 million, Stirling said.

“We will be grappling with AIDS for the next 10, 20, 30, 50 years,” he said.

Efforts to find an effective vaccine have failed dismally, so far. The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative says 30 are being tested in small-scale trials. More money and more efforts are being poured into prevention campaigns but the efforts are uneven. Success varies widely from region to region, country to country.

Still, science offers some promise. In highly developed countries, cocktails of powerful antiretroviral drugs have largely altered the AIDS prognosis from certain death to a manageable chronic illness.

There is great hope that current AIDS drugs might prevent high-risk people from becoming infected. One of these, tenofovir, is being tested in several countries. Plans are to test it as well with a second drug, emtricitabine or FTC.

But nothing can be stated with certainty until clinical trials are complete, said Anthony Fauci, a leading AIDS researcher and infectious diseases chief at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

And then there is the risk that treatment will create a resistant strain or, as some critics claim, cause people to lower their guard and have more unprotected sex.

Medicine offers less hope in the developing world where most victims are desperately poor with little or no access to the medical care needed to administer and monitor AIDS drugs. Globally, just 1 in 5 HIV patients get the drugs they need, according to a recent report by UNAIDS, the body leading the worldwide battle against the disease.

Stirling said that despite the advances, the toll over the next 25 years will go far beyond the 34 million thought to have died from the Black Death in 14th century Europe or the 20 to 40 million who perished in the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.

Almost two-thirds of those infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa where poverty, ignorance and negligent political leadership extended the epidemic’s reach and hindered efforts to contain it. In South Africa, the president once questioned the link between HIV and AIDS and the health minister urged use of garlic and the African potato to fight AIDS, instead of effective treatments.

AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa, which has accounted for nearly half of all global AIDS deaths. The epidemic is still growing and its peak could be a decade or more away.

In at least seven countries, the U.N. estimates that AIDS has reduced life expectancy to 40 years or less. In Botswana, which has the world’s highest infection rate, a child born today can expect to live less than 30 years.

“Particularly in southern Africa, we may have to apply a new notion, and that is of `underdeveloping’ nations. These are nations which, because of the AIDS epidemic, are going backwards,” Peter Piot, the director of UNAIDS, said in a speech in Washington in March.

Later, at a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, last month, Piot cited encouraging news including a sharp fall in new infections in some African countries. There also has been an eightfold increase in the number of Africans benefiting from antiretroviral treatment, he said.

But, he warned, “the crisis of AIDS continues and is getting worse and any slackening of our efforts would jeopardize the hard-won gains of each and every one of us.”

Besides the personal suffering of the infected and their families, the epidemic already has had devastating consequences for African education systems, industry, agriculture and economies in general. The impact is magnified because AIDS weakens and kills many young adults, people in their most productive years.

So many farmers and farmworkers have died of AIDS that the U.N. has invented the term “new variant famine.” It means that because of AIDS, the continent will experience persistent famine for generations instead of the usual cycles of hunger tied to variable weather.

Africa’s misery hangs like a sword over Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean.

Researchers don’t expect the infection rates to rival those in Africa. But Asia’s population is so big that even low infection rates could easily translate into tens of millions of deaths.

Although fewer than 1 percent of its people are infected, India has topped South Africa as the country with the most infections, 5.7 million to 5.5 million, according to UNAIDS.

The astonishing numbers have grown from a humble beginning.

Nobody knows for sure when or where, but the AIDS epidemic is thought to have begun in the primeval forests of West Africa when a virus lurking in the blood of a monkey or a chimpanzee made the leap from one species to another, infecting a hunter.

Researchers have found HIV in a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa, Congo. Genetic analysis of his blood suggested the HIV infection stemmed from a single virus in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

For decades at least, the early human infections went unnoticed on a continent where life routinely is harsh, short and cheap.

Then, on June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta reported five young actively homosexual men in Los Angeles had a new, mysterious and as yet unnamed illness that attacked the immune system and caused a type of pneumonia. A month later, it reported an odd surge among homosexual men in the number of cases of Karposi Sarcoma, a rare cancer now linked to AIDS.

In the early days of the epidemic, just the mention of AIDS elicited snickers and jokes. Few saw it as a major threat. It was the “Gay Plague,” and for some, divine retribution for a lifestyle Christian fundamentalists and other conservatives consider deviant and sinful.

When heterosexuals began to contract the disease through blood transfusions and other medical procedures, they were often portrayed as “innocent” victims of a disease spread by the immoral and licentious behavior of others.

The initial reactions and prejudices associated with AIDS slowed the early response to the epidemic and limited the funding. Too much time, money and effort was spent on the wrong priorities, Stirling said.

“Over the last 25 years, the one real weakness was the search for the magic bullet. There is no quick and simple fix,” he said. “But with the recent successes we are starting to see the end of epidemic.”

“There is evidence to suggest we are at the tipping point,” said Stirling.

The pace of change over the last couple of years suggests the number of new infections can be reduced by 50 to 60 percent by 2020 – if the momentum continues.

“It is surely possible, it is doable,” Stirling said.

AP correspondent Mike Stobbe in Atlanta contributed to this report

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

And so on, from the Voice of America Observing a Killer: 25 Years of AIDS, and 25 Million Deaths, by Nancy Steinbach

In nineteen eighty-three, researchers discovered the human immunodeficiency virus as the cause of AIDS. The earliest known H.I.V. infection was found in blood stored since nineteen fifty-nine. The blood came from a man in what is now the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa.

Last week, a team of scientists reported confirmation that H.I.V. came from chimpanzees in the nearby country of Cameroon. The researchers believe the virus passed to humans when hunters came in contact with infected blood. The infection could have crossed borders as people traveled along the Sanaga River and other waterways.

Study leader Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama says AIDS may have started in Africa as early as nineteen ten.

to the BBC HIV infections ‘may have peaked’

The rate at which people are infected with HIV may have peaked in the late 1990s, according to a UNAids report.

It found the incidence of new HIV infections appears to have stabilised for the first time in 25 years.

UNAids said improved funding and access to drugs appeared to be producing results – but said HIV remained “an exceptional threat”.

It warned the infection rate was still rising in some countries, and record numbers now live with the virus.

the AIDS meme rules, the inconsistent and irrational narrative it brings amounting to a total breakdown of the brain’s resistance to nonsense. What of the many mainstream studies which now indicate that as might be expected whether you subscribe to the standard theory or not, HIV positivity is not a status that can be transmitted through sex, however exciting, one reason being that antibodies are not contagious, by definition?

How precisely is it that professional reporters of the medical standing of Larry Altman are unable to make themselves aware of what any lowly blog writer with access to PubMed can discover in three minutes?

Her speech steered away from many of the criticisms that have been leveled against the administration, notably that it promotes sexual abstinence over scientifically proven strategies, particularly condom use. Indeed, she said, the “ABC” model — the initials stand for abstain, be faithful and use condoms — had brought sharp declines in infections in Africa.

It is, without question, the power of the meme.


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