Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

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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.

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Crowe on Adelaide

David Crowe posts on the Parenzee case

davidcrowe.jpgDavid Crowe, whose Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society site is one of the most active and helpful HIV∫AIDS truthseeking sites, has sent this commentary on the Adelaide trial to us, and we post it here (we added the bold font in places), although as readers know we cannot agree with his staunch defense of the Perth group’s doubts on HIV existence or identification. But he adds valuable detail, his listing of the points in favor of their argument on this issue is useful, and the basic complaint that Judge Sulan achieved his resolution of the conflict by dismissing the credentials of the Perth pair is clearly correct.

David has a good inside track on developments in Australia, since he is in touch with Kevin Borick, the counsel for Parenzee, who he reports is still going to appeal after sentencing, though on what grounds is not yet clear:

Thoughts on Parenzee

Judge Sulan’s ruling in the appeal of the conviction of Andre Parenzee for endangering the life of three women by having sex with them without revealing his HIV status is a triumph of authority over intelligence, of dogma over science.

His method was very simple. Deny the Perth Group members Eleni Papadopulos and Valendar Turner standing as expert witnesses, grant this to the prosecution witnesses, and then the opinions of the prosecution stand unchallenged as most legal systems only allow expert witnesses to give opinions in court.

Clearly the Perth Group upset the Judge’s delicate sensibilities. He included the most petty remarks about them in his 89 page judgement. He essentially accused Eleni of padding her resume by saying (correctly) that she was “Professor of Medical Physics at Royal Perth Hospital, a teaching hospital of the University of Western Australia”. He quotes the university chancellor as agreeing that this was technically correct but might lead to the impression that she was a professor at the University of Western Australia.

He also accused Eleni of exaggerating the size of the Perth Group because he found that their website listed only her and Val as contributors. A simple pubmed search would show that their papers have an extensive list of authors, some of whom, such as John Papadimitriou, David Causer, Hermann Alfonso and Barry Page, have been co-authors of enough papers that it is fair to call them members of the “Perth Group”.

The judge was also upset that Eleni presented her views in the form of a powerpoint presentation rather than a written report. His more substantial problems were that Eleni did not have an advanced degree, and that her degree was in nuclear physics and he couldn’t see the relevance to HIV or AIDS. He had a bit more of a problem with Val Turner who is an MD but he eventually settled on the fact that Val and Eleni had only studied HIV and AIDS through reading scientific papers, not knowledge through clinical trials or treating AIDS patients. Clearly science is a process of adding data to the pile and not sifting through it looking for nuggets of truth (or falsehood).

The judge gave short shrift to the argument that the views of AIDS dissidents are routinely censored, stating “Reputable journals will only publish material which has been peer reviewed and from which it can be demonstrated that recognised scientific techniques have been followed. Opinions which question scientific conclusions, if adequately researched and peer reviewed, will be accepted for publication.” This shows an incredible level of naivete on the part of the judge who is clearly not familiar with the extensive literature detailing the flaws of peer review.

Without going into too many details here are some remarks collected by the US National Institutes of Health when they were considering reform of peer review in 1999: ‘I have been on study sections and have seen members who clearly lacked expertise review proposals and grade proposals in a biased, or self-serving, or bad scientific manner‘; ‘Under the present ‘culture’, which focuses on fault finding and amplification of minor errors and discouraging innovative research, nearly all NIH funding has gone into confirming, reconfirming, and reinventing what is already known, by individuals of very little insight or talent’; ‘Unscientific grant review rhetoric never receives objective scrutiny’; ‘The AIDS and Related Research Study Section was composed of individuals with widely different areas of expertise…For the most part, we couldn’t understand the reviews written by other members of the panel’.

The judge also established another new scientific rule: that the authors of a scientific paper own the interpretation of their data. Nancy Padian might have found zero seroconversions in a 10 year study, but only Padian has the right to explain that this actually means that HIV is sexually transmitted. He also applied this rule to the recent publication of Rodriguez that found virtually no correlation between CD4 cell counts and viral load. Rodriguez has the right to twist his research into support of the HIV=AIDS theory, but the Perth Group don’t have the right to describe his findings. Same for the May et al study in Lancet (August 5, 2006) that showed no reduction in the rate of AIDS or death in people taking HAART (but an ‘improvement’ in levels of viral load). Reporting this data is wrong. Let the authors spin it to show that everyone should be on AIDS drugs (even if they don’t want to).

Eleni was excoriated for not including in her discussion of Padian’s work a recent posting on the establishmentarian website aidstruth.org. The transcript that shows that Eleni is clearly not prepared for dirty tricks like this. She did not shoot this down with a remark such as “Aidstruth.org? Is that a peer reviewed journal? I don’t believe so. If Padian wanted to recant her 1997 work surely she would publish a new paper in a peer reviewed journal. And at that point I would certainly update my review of her work.” She did not effectively deal with this tactic and bolstered the view of the judge that she was being evasive.

The judge also accused Val and Eleni of knowing too much. They claim to have studied all of HIV and AIDS, whereas the prosecution witnesses were forced on many occasions to say that they simply didn’t know. One would think that people in such senior positions would have a good overall grasp of AIDS science but, to the judge, their ignorance made them blissfully more expert.

Once the judge got rid of the Perth Group only the prosecution witnesses were allowed to give opinions (legally expert witnesses are allowed to give opinions, not other witnesses). And there was nothing to counterbalance them.

This meant that the judge didn’t need to think about the actual science which surely must have been a relief. His shaky grasp was illustrated humorously by two typos. He described Nancy Padian as “the Professor of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Canada”. She’s a professor in the department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences, but not a professor in all those subjects, let alone ‘the’ professor in those subjects. But more importantly there is no University of Canada (Padian is at UCSF).

A more serious error was his mention of the “reverse transcriptase PCA polymelias chain reaction” instead of “Reverse Transcriptase (RT) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)”. This is almost as humorous as the Washington Post once trying to make fun of President Mbeki by reporting “phosphoral relations” instead of “triphosphorylation”. Some spelling mistakes are irrelevant and probably accidents (such as “Tenin” instead of “Temin”), but others indicate that this judge simply does not have a clue about the science and probably doesn’t want to. He just wants it off his bench.

Nancy Padian accused rethinkers of misunderstanding probability “…they think that if the chance of misfortune is one in six that they can take five chances without the likelihood of injury.” This lesson in basic probability given in the first class of any university statistics course was parroted by the judge “The very misuse of mathematical probabilities which she criticises is the methodology used by Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos.” But what if the risk is zero, as documented by Nancy Padian? What if the risk was 1 out of 1000 (as estimated by Padian in her 1997 paper) for male to female transmission? What is the probability of transmission in a case like that of Andre Parenzee?

So what was it that the judge so fawningly accepted from the prosecution witnesses? Well, whatever they said, and even what he quoted was quite revealing.

The judge implied that HIV killed CD4 cell counts but quoted Rodriguez as saying that “Expanded efforts to identify the other elements that drive CD4 cell losses in chronic HIV infection are needed”.

The judge implied that HIV was the only cause of AIDS but cited French saying “It would therefore be more correct to state that “AIDS is caused by factors in addition to HIV””.

The judge accused the Perth Group of relying on outdated papers but allowed the prosecution to admit that these fundamental underlying papers by Gallo and Montagnier had not proved that HIV caused AIDS or that HIV had been isolated while claiming (without evidence) that later studies had closed these gaping loopholes without identifying where this important data was published.

The judge cited Gallo’s claim that while he might not have purified HIV in his original experiments that “when his team succeeded in mass producing the virus in a continuous culture, they had a great quantity of the virus with little cellular debris”. And which peer reviewed journal published the proof of this?

While the judge accused the Perth Group of being evasive and “non-responsive” to questions he let prosecution witness get away with “HIV was isolated in a 1983 paper by Montagnier’s group. It is not the way we do it now but it was done then and we now isolate HIV by other somewhat quicker techniques and so on and we do it in our lab many times a year. It is a routine procedure.” Ah, so now we know it’s true as Dr. Dwyer says its so!

The fundamental critique of the Perth Group that purification of HIV is necessary was rejected by the judge who merely said “It is the case for the applicant that, in order for the virus to be isolated, it needs to be separated from all other cellular debris. That suggestion has been refuted by Professors Cooper, Gordon and Gallo, and Dr Dwyer.” Talk of a gold standard (purification)? Piffle! “Associate Professor Dax said that the gold standard in respect of HIV could be described as the genome sequence. She expressed the view that the gold standard referred to by Dr Turner was, in her view, rather meaningless.” And the lack of photographs of purified virus? “Associate Professor Dax said that there are many photographs of the virus. She produced four slides which show different magnifications. Professor Cooper said that there are many pictures of the virus in the scientific literature.” This misses the point that photographs of impure material are not enough. But that’s okay because they got support from McDonald: “Professor McDonald said that in 1983 a gold standard had not been established, but it was very quickly established because the gene was sequenced, that it is HIV.”

This is what it boils down to. The judge accepted the statements of the prosecution experts (well, those were the only experts once the Perth Group were de-expertified) at face value despite them proffering no evidence beyond statements like “we don’t need to do that any more”, “we do it all the time”, “that was then, now is now”.

One clear error by the judge was the statement “I reject the submission that the photographs [electron micrographs] in Gallo’s earliest papers” are of contaminated virus.” This despite Gallo being forced to publish a correction over this photograph because it turned out to have been taken from a sample from Montagnier’s lab, meaning that Gallo’s 1984 Science papers did not have a single electron micrograph that was even claimed to be of HTLV-III.

Questions over the meaning of PCR in the absence of purification of the virus’s RNA were dismissed by saying “I am satisfied that the genetic testing which has been developed is specific and accurate for the identification of HIV. Professor Gordon gave clear, unequivocal evidence that the genome of the virus has been sequenced.” So the genome has been sequenced without purification because Professor Gordon said so.

Professor Cooper said “The P24 antigen of HIV is [a] unique protein”. Which I’m sure explains the science that shows that about half of all HIV antibody-positive people don’t have detectable p24 and many uninfected people do. Because Dr. Cooper said so.

Criticisms of different testing standards around the world were dismissed by “The fact that different countries may have different requirements before a person is diagnosed as HIV positive does no more than evidence [show] that different countries have different requirements before the diagnosis will be confirmed. It does not follow that people who are HIV positive in Africa are not also HIV positive when in Australia.”

He went on “As Professor Cooper pointed out, one ELISA test is sufficient because of its accuracy.” Which explains why most western countries insist on 3 ELISA tests and a Western Blot before accepting an HIV positive diagnosis. And this explains the work of Burke et al that showed that only about half of initial ELISA tests were confirmed by a second ELISA test coming up positive.

It is clear from the judge’s decision that he was made very uncomfortable by such a major challenge to the establishment and was looking for reasons to get rid of it. The fact that he wrote an 89 page judgement is an indication that it also made him nervous. Perhaps deep down he knows that he is doing the wrong thing.

Perhaps the most telling paragraph was the penultimate one: “The applicant [Andre Parenzee] presented with AIDS symptoms. His CD4 count was extremely low and his viral load count was very high. After he was prescribed antiviral medications, his CD4 count increased and his viral load decreased. He exhibited the symptoms that might be seen in a person who has contracted HIV/AIDS. He responded to antiretroviral medication in a manner that is expected and is predictable, according to mainstream experts.” This is a bald-faced lie. The truth is that Andre Parenzee went on drugs for a short time and went off very quickly due to the side effects and his increasing understanding of the AIDS myth. And if Andre was so sick with a terminal illness how could the judge consider giving him a sentence of 15 to 45 years?

From a rethinker’s perspective the judgement is a wonderful expose of how the legal system works. It should be required reading for everyone interested in legal approaches to ending the HIV=AIDS=Death dogma, everyone from lawyers, defendants to expert witnesses. The establishment will use dirty tricks, but they can be defended against if you are prepared. The judge will often be biased so he needs to be put in a position where the expert witnesses cannot be denied and where the prosecution witnesses are forced to provide real evidence, not just bald statements.

My understanding is that Kevin Borick will be finding other avenues to appeal this case after sentencing of Andre Parenzee which is expected soon. The only thing the establishment could do to avoid this would be to hand Parenzee a very light sentence, perhaps time served, at which point further appeals would be dangerous as they would risk getting a longer sentence.

Judge Sulan, are you listening? I know you surf the net at nights…

We agree completely that this experience shows that any court case will reduce to an authority fight where credentials are paramount, and defense lawyers must make sure not only that they are prepared to challenge prosecution witnesses on whether their claims are justified by the scientific literature, and demolish their credibility by showing clearly they are not, but also to preserve the credentials of their own witnesses by avoiding making claims which seem too outlandish to the judge.

For additional points on the discussion of whether Perth goes too far is denying the very existence of HIV, see the Comments on “Legally Blind”, the last post. The issue is not even whether or on what basis they are right (clearly they are not, given the work done on HIV since 1984), but the simple fact that the claim that HIV does not exist will discredit any scientific witness in any court immediately.

Perth as Achilles heel

The case for the defense was lost from the beginning by giving the judge this easy out. He was given a basis for rejecting the credentials of the Perth pair, and did so. Dispensing with all their testimony saved him the effort of comparing the prosecution testimony with the defense claims, and all the trouble of gauging whether the questions they raised on other grounds made any sense.

Despite the sterling work of the Perth group on many aspects of the HIV∫AIDS paradigm and its gaping flaws, it would have been far better as a practical matter to bring in witnesses with hands on experience and expertise in virus research to point out the simple flaws in the paradigm which rule out any real culpability on the part of the unfortunate Parenzee.

Chief among these is the plain fact that Nancy Padian, leading paradigm researcher, has demonstrated that heterosexual transmission is virtually ruled out in HIV∫AIDS, which would be expected given the extraordinarily low, in fact negligible level of actual virus (as low as one in 10 ml) seen in even “high viral load” HIV positives.

This remarkable absence, with its low likelihood of passing HIV along through conventional sex, and the parallel plain fact that HIV antibodies are overwhelmingly effective in combating HIV, together render the entire paradigm of infectious pandemic null and void, as has been made all too apparent by the Gisselquist papers we have dealt with earlier, where the somewhat independent minded HIV∫AIDS researcher desperately looks for some other way in which the pandemic in Africa might be transmitted, given the lack of heterosexual transmission.

Barbaric discrimination

But the nub of the matter is discrimination. The idea of penalizing people with barbaric sanctions for sleeping with women without informing them of a positive AIDS test is a distortion of public policy. After all, counseling is the only penalty for doing the same with syphilis and other STDs of proven danger to health.

Even without the overwhelming evidence that HIV does not cause AIDS, this is just one more way in which the unfortunate people who score HIV positive have their lives ruined for no good purpose and without justification.

Such laws have no basis in science or in statistics, and are not morally justified. To fail to make this clear was the failure of the defence in Perth, which lost the case by trying to defend the indefensible, when it was the indefensible they should have attacked.

But according to reports this was the penalty of using the two witnesses from Perth, who apparently insisted on being the only scientific witnesses for the defense, a proviso with which the family agreed.

This guaranteed the loss of the case.

5 Responses to “Crowe on Adelaide”

  1. MacDonald Says:

    One can only hope defense lawyer Borick appeals the case. If he does, I see no better anchor man and strategic consultant for his reinforced expert team than the laser sharp host of this gold medallion cutting edge science blog. Why he doesn’t even need to glance through the court transcripts to know exactly how this case could have been won in court. The Truthseeker’s impeccable credentials include a hands on degree from the finest English institution imaginable, but even if they didn’t, one is at a loss to see how the judge would even dare question the qualifications of a defence witness who begins his testimony with these words: “The accused is undeniably AIDS positive on the HIV antibody test, however…”

    sleeping with women without informing them of a positive AIDS test is a distortion of public policy (just a few lines above)

  2. Truthseeker Says:

    MacDonald, the complete sentence reads “The idea of penalizing people with barbaric sanctions for sleeping with women without informing them of a positive AIDS test is a distortion of public policy. Perhaps we should have said “good public policy” just to make it clear that the sentence is on a different point than the validity of the test.

    What you mean with the rest of your post is not very clear to us, but you seem to be saying that any witness who accepts the positive AIDS test of this prisoner as a fact is a fool, in this case your long suffering host. But surely his positive AIDS test is a fact however accurate or inaccurate and whatever it means or doesn’t mean scientifically, and such a result has vile consequences in terms of misguided medical treatment, and barbaric social and legal sanctions. Surely Marcel Girodian is totally correct in leading a movement against being tested, and we support him 100%. There is no more dangerous trend than the CDC led march toward universal testing, and we hope you will support the fight against it.

  3. MacDonald Says:

    Ok, let me make it crystal:

    You can reduce the quote to AIDS test and it would still be self-defeating. An HIV antibody test is not an AIDS test. If that were so, the case, Duesberg’s, Parenzee’s and Perth’s alike, would be lost before it began.

  4. Truthseeker Says:

    This seems a small but perfectly acceptable correction. You don’t want us to use the phrase “AIDS test” which the officials, press and public we address use colloquially, but “HIV test”, which is more accurate. OK. No need to use any contemptuous language to make a correction, and people should know that though we are not the scientifically andpolitically censorious John P. Moore we will censor all insults of any kind, including our own, if they slip by and are pointed out.

    Anyway we agree that precision is always best. But sometimes we use the words and ideas of others in a slightly ironic spirit.

  5. marcel Says:

    Absolutely brilliant analysis by David Crowe.

    BTW, TS, I don’t want to LEAD any “Don’t Get Tested” movement. I want somebody else to do it. I’m willing to write some ads and slogans for bumperstickers and posters, that’s all :o)

    If somebody would put up the money for TV, I’d write TV spots, but probably there ain’t a TV station in the world that would run them.

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