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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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).

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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blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.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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Gary Taubes explains why AIDS still kills

Renowned mythbuster stumbles on HIV/AIDS, repeats official nonscience

Fans wonder how could it happen to the author of “Big Fat Lie”?

His invisible editor, the HIV Meme

gary_taubes.jpgA piece in New York magazine this week demonstrates how the rationalization of the current HIV/AIDS ideology works in the brains of those taken over by the HIV=AIDS meme.

The meme we refer to is the universal premise that HIV causes AIDS, which has a truly remarkable ability to prevent anyone it inhabits from examining itself anew, to see whether it is a universal truth or the intellectual equivalent of a mischievous monkey which has in twenty years turned into a global Godzilla.

The latest example of a giant journalistic brain hijacked by this self protective gremlin is that of Gary Taubes, a skeptical writer famous in Manhattan for the $700,000 advance hurriedly offered him by the fine old literary house Knopf when he published a dynamite piece in the New York Times Magazine six years ago, What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?. The article explained that fat after all didn’t make you fatter, and the champion of the high fat low carb diet Dr Robert Atkins was quite right to revive the view of an earlier era that obesity, diabetes and heart disease came from the officially recommended diet of white bread, pasta, polished white rice, bagels and sugar (in fruit).

After five years of further extensive research Taubes’ mythbusting 600 page book Good Calories, Bad Calories came out last year, still nailing refined carbohydrates goodcalsbadcal.jpgas the major diet villain and adding for good measure that exercise didn’t lead to weight loss, obesity didn’t result from couch potatoes overeating and that salt did not cause high blood pressure.

Like his article the book generated controversy as it ran into strong defense arguments from those who insisted that the causal chain of fat to heart disease had been proven by good studies, and that high fiber unrefined carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains such as oats, brown rice, and corn) were good for you, and using them in a low fat, high carb diet worked fine in reversing heart disease and losing weight. Also, there were good fats and bad fats, the latter being saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fatty acids which provably block arteries, and in the end the whole subject of bodily metabolism is far more complex than any simplistic rule.

Professional skeptic misled

coverpicgarytaubes.jpgWhile noting that Taubes is an accomplished and serious investigator, the author of Nobel Dreams (1987) and Bad Science: the Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion (1993), and a correspondent for Science who has won several awards in science journalism, we’ll deal with that dispute in depth in a later post. Today’s topic is HIV/AIDS in Taubes’s New York Magazine piece just arrived in Manhattan mailboxes, Who Still Dies of AIDS, and Why: In the age of HAART, the virus can still outwit modern medicine.

In the video, filmed last November, Mel Cheren appears understandably dismayed. He’s being interviewed by a reporter for CBS News on Logo, a gay-themed news program; he’s sitting in a wheelchair, and he’s talking about the indignity and the irony of dying from AIDS at a time when AIDS should be a chronic disease, not a fatal one. Cheren, a music producer and founder of West End Records, had been an AIDS activist since the earliest days of the epidemic. It was Cheren, in 1982, who gave the Gay Men’s Health Crisis its first home, providing a floor of his brownstone on West 22nd Street. In the interview, Cheren talks about what it’s like to lose more than 300 friends to the AIDS epidemic, outlive them all, and then get diagnosed yourself at age 74.

Indeed, the fact that Cheren had plenty of sex through the height of the epidemic, had been tested regularly, and had apparently emerged uninfected had led him to believe that testing was no longer necessary, or at least so one doctor had told him half a dozen years earlier. He’d only learned the truth after he began losing weight, had trouble walking, and was finally referred to a specialist who didn’t consider AIDS an unreasonable diagnosis for a man of Cheren’s experience and advanced years and so ordered up the requisite blood test. “There was one guy,” Cheren says in the interview, explaining how he might have been infected. A male escort. “We really hit it off, sexually … ”

By the time Cheren learned he had AIDS, he was already suffering from a rare, drug-resistant pneumonia, what infectious-disease specialists refer to as an opportunistic infection, and he had lymphoma, an AIDS-related cancer that had spread to his bones.

Within a month of his diagnosis, Cheren was dead. The official cause was pneumonia, although, as his cousin Mark Cheren points out, cause of death in these cases is a moot point. “Infection from pneumonia was probably the culprit,” he says, “but only because that acts quickest when you don’t stop it.”

Dying from AIDS, or dying with an HIV infection, which may not be the same thing, is a significantly less common event than it was a decade ago, but it’s not nearly as uncommon as anyone would like. Bob Hattoy, for instance, died last year as well. Hattoy, 56, was “the first gay man with AIDS many Americans had knowingly laid eyes on,” as the New York Times described him after Hattoy announced his condition to the world in a speech at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Hattoy went on to work in the Clinton White House as an advocate for gay and lesbian issues. In the summer of 1993, he told the New York Times, “I don’t make real long-term plans.” But the advent of an anti-retroviral drug known as a protease inhibitor, in 1995, and then, a year later, the multidrug cocktails called HAART—for highly active anti-retroviral therapy—gave Hattoy and a few hundred thousand HIV-infected Americans like him the opportunity to do just that.

If the pharmaceutical industry ever needed an icon for evidence of its good works, HAART would be it. Between 1995 and 1997, annual AIDS deaths in New York City dropped from 8,309 to 3,426, and that number has continued to decline ever since. The success of HAART has been so remarkable that it now tends to take us by surprise when anybody does succumb, although 2,076 New Yorkers died in 2006 (2007 figures are not yet available). Though many of the most prominent deaths, like Cheren’s and Hattoy’s, tend to be of gay men, the percentage of the dead who contracted the disease through gay sex is now reportedly as low as 15 percent (with a large proportion still reported as unknown). Intravenous-drug users make up the biggest group, 38.5 percent, and women account for almost one in three of total AIDS deaths.

One of the ironies of the success of HAART is that it has fostered the myth that the AIDS epidemic has come to an end, and that living with HIV is only marginally more problematic than living with herpes or genital warts. This is one obvious explanation for why HIV infection is once again on the rise among young men—specifically, MSMs, as they’re now known in the public-health jargon, for men who have sex with men—increasing by a third between 2001 and 2006. Among those 30 and over, the infection rate is still decreasing, notes Thomas Frieden, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, suggesting that the increased rate of infection among men under 30 is due in part to decreased awareness of the disease or the toll it can take.

And so on and so on. Here (at the bottom of a couple of further remarks) is the rest of it, as proof of our earlier remark in our previous post, which we repeat and modify slightly to fit this prize specimen of a well informed, intelligent, scientifically attentive journalist who is unable to reexamine his basic assumption however absurdly contradictory and conflicting the Ptolemeic rationalizations served up to him by his prime sources:
The inability of good men in the field of AIDS to realize that all the inconsistencies vanish as soon as the basic premise that HIV is the cause is removed from their analysis is quite astonishing. Apparently the paradigm has some kind of hypnotic effect which prevents anyone ever wondering if it is true, however many absurdities it produces. Or is it simply the inability of honest men to conceive that their sources are misleading them?

Why Taubes wrote the book

What’s even more astonishing in this case of course is that Taubes is a professional skeptic who has just delivered a book in which he manages 600 heavily researched pages on the theme of “Don’t believe what bad scientists tell you”.

In fact, that thought was the initial seed from which his blockbuster sprang. Some scientist had just finished boasting to him that he took pride in being personally responsible for warning the population of America not to eat too many eggs or too much fat.

Taubes rang up his editor and said he didn’t yet know enough about the field but judging from the sheer stupidity of the scientist he had talked to there was obviously a story there somewhere.

As he told Frontline on PBS:

What made you go after this topic in the first place?

Two things. I’d been reporting on salt and blood pressure, which is a huge controversy, and some of the people involved in that were involved in the advice to tell Americans to eat low-fat diets, and they were terrible scientists. These were some of the worst scientists I’d ever come across in my 20-odd year career of writing about controversial science.
You cannot say that because fat consumption associates with heart disease, that that means it causes heart disease, because a lot of other things, for instance, associate with fat consumption.

I literally called up my editor and said, “I just got off the phone with so-and-so, and he’s [taken] credit for getting Americans to eat less eggs and less fat. This guy’s one of the worst scientists I’ve ever talked to, and if he was involved in this, then there’s a story there.” And that was it. I didn’t know what the story was. I just knew there was a story.

Anyhow, here is the rest of the New York magazine piece by Gary and the Meme:
“If you do the mathematics,” Frieden says, “HAART became available in 1996. If you were of age before then, sexually active, and you saw a lot of people dying or sick or disfigured from AIDS, maybe you’re more careful than if you came of age after 1996 and didn’t see that. When we’ve done focus groups, what young men have told us is that the only thing they hear about HIV these days is that if you get it, you can climb mountains, like Magic Johnson. Certainly it’s true that the treatment for HIV is very effective and it’s possible to live a long and productive life with an HIV infection. It’s also true that it remains an incurable infection. That the treatment is very arduous and sometimes unsuccessful. It remains a disease often fatal, and frequently disabling.”

At the moment, some 100,000 New Yorkers are infected with the HIV virus, and AIDS remains the third leading cause of death in men under 65, exceeded only by heart disease and cancer. The question of who will die from AIDS in the HAART era—or who dies with an HIV infection but not technically from AIDS—and what kills them is worth asking now that such deaths have become relatively infrequent.

Frieden’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tried to answer this question with a study it published in the summer of 2006. The newsworthy conclusions were that deaths among New Yorkers with AIDS were still dropping, thanks to HAART, and that one in four of these individuals was now living long enough to die of the same chronic diseases that are likely to kill the uninfected—particularly cancer or heart disease—although most of these non-HIV-related deaths were from the side effects of drug abuse. HIV-related illnesses were still responsible for the remaining three out of four deaths. Or at least “HIV disease,” in these cases, was recorded as a cause of death on the death certificates.

What the Health Department study couldn’t do is say precisely what these HIV-related deaths were. For the answer to this question, you have to go to physicians who specialize in treating HIV-infected patients. Michael Mullen, clinical director of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, for instance, says the best way to think about AIDS deaths is to divide HIV-infected individuals into three groups.

“If it’s 1988, 1989,” says one doctor, “and I have a patient with HIV disease and hypertension, he’s not going to live long enough to die of hypertension. I want to treat the disease.”

The bulk of these deaths occur within the first group, those who either never started HAART to begin with or didn’t stay on it once they did. For these patients, “it might as well still be the eighties,” says Mullen, and they die from the same AIDS-defining illnesses that were the common causes of death twenty years ago—pneumocystis pneumonia, central-nervous-system opportunistic infections (such as toxoplasmosis), lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, etc.

A large proportion of these victims are indigent; many are intravenous-drug users—IVDUs, as they’re known in the official jargon, accounted for 21 percent of HIV-positive New Yorkers in 2006, but, as noted above, 38.5 percent of the city’s AIDS deaths. The virus is no more aggressive or virulent in these cases. Rather, these are the people who either don’t or can’t do what it takes to fight it. “These individuals are repeatedly admitted to the hospital,” says Mullen, “sometimes for opportunistic infections, sometimes for drug-related issues, often for HIV-related lymphomas and malignancies. They will not take the medication, nine times out of ten, because of drug use.” Often these individuals are co-infected with hepatitis, which increases the risk that the more toxic side effects of the anti-retroviral drugs will lead to permanent liver or kidney damage.

By far the highest death rates in this group are in what the authorities now refer to as concurrent HIV/AIDS diagnoses. These patients never get diagnosed with HIV infection until they already have active AIDS. (Cheren, because of his age and his AIDS awareness, is an extreme case.) These constituted more than a quarter of the 3,745 new cases of HIV infections diagnosed in New York in 2006. “Those people have never been tested before,” says Mullen. “Believe it or not, people like this still exist.” Typically, they’ve had the infection for ten years—the average time between HIV infection and the emergence of AIDS—but won’t know it or acknowledge it until admitted to the emergency room with pneumonia or some other opportunistic infection. These individuals are twice as likely to die in the three to four years after their diagnosis as someone who was just diagnosed with HIV alone. Half of these deaths will occur in the first four months after diagnosis, often from whatever AIDS-related ailment led them to the emergency room in the first place.

It’s because of these concurrent HIV/AIDS diagnoses that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have been lobbying for HIV tests to be given routinely to anyone who visits an emergency room for any reason. In one recent study from South Carolina, almost three out of four of those people with concurrent HIV/AIDS diagnoses had visited a medical facility after their infection and prior to getting their blood tested for the virus—averaging six visits each before they were finally tested and diagnosed. “By remaining untested during their routine contacts with the health-care system,” said Frieden, in testimony to the New York State Assembly Committee on Health, “they have missed the high-quality treatment that could improve their health and extend their lives. Many may have unknowingly infected their partners—and these partners may not learn that they are infected until they too are sick with AIDS. And so this cycle of death continues.”

Who Still Dies of AIDS, and Why

The second group of HIV-infected patients consists of those at the other extreme, the ones who are least likely to die from AIDS or its complications. These individuals were diagnosed with HIV after the advent of HAART and have taken their medications religiously ever since. In these cases, HAART is likely to suppress their virus for decades, and they’re now significantly more likely to die of heart disease or cancer than of anything related to AIDS. To get an idea of the mortality rate among these patients, consider Alexander McMeeking’s practice, on East 40th Street. McMeeking ran the HIV clinic at Bellevue from 1987 to 1989 and then left to start a private practice. To the best of his knowledge, only three of his 300-odd Bellevue patients survived long enough to get on HAART. They are still alive today. “Fortunately, thank God, all three are doing great,” says McMeeking. “I tell them they will essentially die of old age.”

McMeeking’s practice now includes 600 HIV-infected patients, and last year he lost only two of those—one to lung cancer, another to liver cancer.

Now the question is whether these patients doing well with HAART are actually more susceptible to the kind of chronic diseases that kill the uninfected. Are they more likely to die from heart disease, cancers, liver and kidney failure, and other chronic diseases either because of the HIV itself or the anti-retroviral regimen keeping it under control? One observation made repeatedly in studies—including the 2006 report from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene—is that these HIV-infected individuals appear to have higher rates of several different cancers, in particular lung cancer among smokers, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and cancers of the rectal area. These cancers appear both more precocious and more aggressive in HIV-infected patients—they strike earlier and kill quicker. The reason is not yet clear, although a likely explanation is that the ability of the immune system to search out and destroy incipient malignancies is sufficiently compromised from either the anti-retroviral drugs, the virus, or the co-existence of several viruses—squamous-cell cancers of the rectal area are caused by the same human papilloma virus that causes cervical cancer in woman—that the cancers get a foothold they don’t get in non-HIV-infected individuals.

“I still expect most of my patients to live a normal life expectancy,” says an AIDS doctor, “but they may do so with a bit more nips and scrapes.”

One finding that’s considered indisputable is that HAART, and particularly the protease inhibitors that are a critical part of the anti-retroviral cocktail, can play havoc with risk factors for heart disease. They raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels; they lower HDL, and they can cause increased resistance to the hormone insulin. These changes often accompany a condition known as HIV-related lipodystrophy, which afflicts maybe half of all individuals who go on HAART. Subcutaneous fat is lost on the face, arms, legs, and buttocks, while fat accumulates in the gut, upper back (a condition known as a buffalo hump), and breasts. The question is whether these metabolic disturbances actually increase the likelihood of having a heart attack. It’s certainly reasonable to think they would, but it’s remarkably difficult to demonstrate that the drugs or the virus itself is responsible: The fact that a relatively young man or woman with AIDS has a heart attack does not mean that the heart attack was caused by HIV or the disturbance in cholesterol and lipid levels induced by the therapy.

Any difference in disease incidence between HIV-infected and uninfected individuals, explains John Brooks, leader of the clinical-epidemiology team within the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, can be due to the infection itself, to the therapy—HAART—or to “the host, the person who has HIV infection, both physiologically and socioculturally.” It’s the last factor—the host—that complicates the science. Until recently, for instance, physicians saw little reason to worry about heart-disease risk factors in their HIV-infected patients and so didn’t bother to aggressively treat risk factors in those patients, as they did the HIV-negative. “Think about it,” says Brooks, “if it’s 1988, 1989, and I have a patient with HIV disease and hypertension, he’s not going to live long enough to die of hypertension. I want to treat the disease.”

The rate of cigarette smoking among HIV-infected individuals is also twice as high as the national average. The rate of intravenous drug use is far higher, as is the rate of infection with hepatitis B or C, because intravenous drug use is a common route to getting both HIV and hepatitis. So the fact that an HIV-infected patient may seem to be suffering premature heart disease, diabetes, or liver or kidney disease earlier than seems normal for the population as a whole—or the fact that a study reports such a finding about a population of HIV-infected individuals—only raises the issue of whether the population as a whole is the relevant comparison group. “Since one of the major risk factors for HIV is intravenous drug use,” says Brooks, “you have to ask, what’s the contribution of heroin to somebody’s kidney disease versus the HIV versus untreated high blood pressure versus smoking?”

From his own clinical experience, McMeeking agrees that heart disease, certain cancers, and liver and kidney disease do seem to pose a greater threat to his HIV-infected patients than might otherwise be expected in a comparable uninfected population. “I still expect most of my patients to live a normal life expectancy,” he says, “but they may do so with a bit more nips and scrapes.”

The third group of HIV-infected individuals consists of those in the middle of the two extremes. HAART, in these cases, has literally been a life saver, but has not guaranteed a normal life expectancy. These are the patients, like Bob Hattoy, who were diagnosed with AIDS in the late eighties or early nineties, before the advent of HAART. They began on one drug (AZT, for instance) and then stayed alive long enough to get on protease inhibitors and the HAART cocktails. These patients were on the cusp of the HIV transformation from a deadly to a chronic-disease epidemic; they were infected late enough to survive but too early to derive all the benefits from HAART.

The anti-retroviral drugs of HAART work by attacking the life cycle of the virus. The earliest generation of HAART drugs attacked the enzymes that the virus uses to reproduce in the cells. (Protease inhibitors, for instance, go after an enzyme called HIV-1 protease, which the virus uses to assemble itself during reproduction.) The latest drugs go after the methods that the virus uses to enter cells in which it will replicate. The key to the effectiveness of HAART, as researchers discovered in the mid-nineties, was to include at least three drugs in the cocktail to which the patient’s specific virus had no resistance. This would suppress viral replication sufficiently so that the virus wouldn’t be able to mutate fast enough to evolve resistance to any of the drugs. But patients who began on one or two anti-AIDS drugs and only then moved to HAART already had time to evolve resistance to a few of the drugs in the cocktail. This made the entire package less effective and increased the likelihood that they would evolve resistance to the other drugs as well.

“We call it ‘sins of the past,’ ” says Mullen. “We gave these patients sequential monotherapy; it was state-of-the-art at the time, and a lot of those people are alive today because of that. It got them through until HAART came along, but their HAART is not highly active, only fairly active. Their virus has baseline mutations that interfere with the response.” This group of patients also includes those who were infected initially with a strain of HIV already resistant to one or several of the components of HAART, or those patients who were less than 99 percent faithful in taking the regimen of pills that constitute HAART. Anything less than that and the virus has the opportunity to evolve resistance.

Perhaps a quarter of all new cases, says Mullen, are infected with a strain of the virus resistant to one or more drugs in the HAART cocktail. “You can’t use the frontline regimen, because the virus has already seen those drugs,” he says. “You have to go to more complicated regimens. This is why we do resistance testing before we start a person on medication. We see what drugs the virus has seen or is resistant to and can take that into account.”

Sins-of-the-past patients have to have faith that the pharmaceutical industry can stay one step ahead of their disease. The prognosis, at the moment, is promising. There are several entirely new classes of AIDS drugs, including one by Merck, called an integrase inhibitor, that was just approved by the FDA last October. A recent report of the discovery of 270 new human proteins employed by the AIDS virus to hijack cells and start replicating—the definition of a successful infection—means the pharmaceutical industry will not run out of new targets to block the infection in the near future.

Still, some sins-of-the-past patients simply do worse than others, and the occasional patient will lose the battle before new drugs come along or simply give up. “I had a friend who died last week,” one sins-of-the-past patient told me recently. “He just lost faith. He would get sick a lot, would get better, then sick again. Finally he decided to try Eastern medicine, and stopped taking his [HAART] medications entirely. It killed him. It’s not a good example, other than to show that people can reach their breaking point.”In other words, take that, HIV skeptics. The man stopped taking his HAART medications entirely, and….”It killed him”.

Gary’s co-author

Here we have a writer who has prided himself in the past on digging into the truth underneath the news media pap and the layers of public ignorance on the subject of diet, and who has written books on scientists and their Nobel dreams, and the atrociously bad science of cold fusion.

We hereby salute the HIV/AIDS meme, undoubtedly the greatest intellectual infectious virus ever produced.

14 Responses to “Gary Taubes explains why AIDS still kills”

  1. MacDonald Says:

    Methinks you are giving these run-of-the-mill “myth-busters” far too much credit. That was probably one of the most boring pieces I’ve ever read. At least when it’s Moore or Wainberg or some such, there’s that colourful scorn and brimstone language so uplifting to spirit of the Righteous, manly chest-thumping, fatwas being issued, jokes being cracked voluntarily or otherwise. . . That’s entertainment! Gary Whatsyaface is a wet blanket.

    BTW, G. could have saved himself the last 599 pages of his book; the noble art of virology has in the meantime shown that obesity is caused by obesity viruses and heart attacks by cardiac arrest viruses – what else, stupid?!

  2. Truthseeker Says:

    MacD, you are too restrained and gentlemanly in your assessment of one of the most blindingly boring pieces ever written in New York Magazine or elsewhere, a screed so cripplingly paralyzing to both mind and body that it is being forwarded by our government liaison representative to the Federal authorities for potential use in crowd control when gay activists agitate outside Dr Fauci’s office at NIAID for more drugs to swallow and prove that HIV kills despite their beneficial effects.

    But on deep and lengthy reflection we perceive that this level of boredom, which splits the universe into two pieces on an atomic level whenever any rational person attempts to read it, can only be achieved by a writer who is forced to incorporate irrational inconsistencies wholesale into a piece which by order of public opinion led by NIAID has to conform to an absurd and internally contradictory paradigm. That paradigm, HIV=AIDS, is currently the measure of sanity and good citizenship in all players on this stage, and only the heinous and misguided HIV “denialists” dare flout it.

    The fine and upstanding award gathering Gary, still heart warmed by the $700,000 he received from Knopf for being a champion skeptic, seems to have been caught in a bind. His extensive education in detecting perfidious nonsense emanating from bad scientists conflicted with his duty as imposed by the HIV meme in his brain never to question the fundamental premise of all AIDS commentary.

    Hence the series of contradictory statements by his paradigm faithful, HIV promoting sources from on high at Mt Sinai and elsewhere, all faithful to their own resident Meme thought controllers. But here we have an honest and thoughtful skeptic, the pride of American science journalism, forced to reproduce them without challenge, and desperately try to fit their square peg incredibilities into his round peg Meme framework.

    I think we are lucky that Gary survived this ordeal, and we have to wonder if he will now be capable of finishing his next book, now he has been forced by the HIV meme into abandoning the hitherto fundamental premise of all his work, which is the same as ours: Do not take scientists’ claims and statements at face value. Check them against the peer reviewed literature, and check that for internal distortion from human emotions of a non scientific kind.

  3. MartinDKessler Says:

    It’s apparent to me and to Mr. Taub that there is more money to be made promoting the establishment paradigm than not, especially with a famous popular skeptic like Gary Taub.
    Now the establishment can say: See, we have a famous skeptic too and he believes us.

  4. Cathyvm Says:

    Truthseeker you crack me up! I am likewise very disappointed with Mr Taubes’ stance on HIV-AIDS, especially as I had email correspondence (defending him – and he did reply) with him over the slag-job Michael Fumento did over his Big Fat Lie article here: http://www.reason.com/news/show/28714.html and pointing out that Reason Magazine was pretty much an industry front: http://www.cspinet.org/integrity/nonprofits/reason_foundation_and_public_policy_institute.html.
    Maybe I should try emailing him again on this issue?

  5. Cathyvm Says:

    Martin I’m not convinced Gary Taubes is just about the money – he has swum against the orthodoxy tide before and risked his reputation. Perhaps he just needs a nudge in the right direction.

  6. Truthseeker Says:

    Very true in the short run, but how much more? Somehow I don’t think that a writer of his type and long years of covering bad scientists is going to sell out for club membership in the Fauci led side of the system unless large sums are involved, though he may well be gay and unwilling to be kicked out of that fiercely HIV-supportive group. Otherwise I’d say it looks as if he genuinely believes in the science for now. How else would he write such a tedious screed with such a mushy edge to it? Perhaps he will come up with an HIV buster in the end to resolve his unconscious perceptions as they rise slowly to the surface.

    After all he has long had an immense amount invested in the approach which generated his endless book, and he did scoop up $700,000 for that.

  7. Truthseeker Says:

    Glad I hit the spot, Cathy, that is the main purpose of this blog, to enlighten through laughter rather than gloom.

    Yes you should please email and let us know what Gary has to say. Forward this post if you like, but I regret I haven’t had time to deconstruct the piece as required into a line up of inconsistencies. Maybe tomorrow when I can assemble a dozen Sherpas and extra rations and oxygen and tackle the summit of this gooey mountain of melting reason.

  8. MacDonald Says:

    Cathy, TS, why not deliver a challenge: We will make minced meat of his article here. If he thinks he can win even a single point, we will concede the rest. Otherwise we will keep the records and shame him for being the gullible, complicit fool he is when they finally realize that the myth has already been busted.

  9. Truthseeker Says:

    Yes, good idea. The initial deconstruction will be the new post, and the comments can take it to a higher level of nuclear separation. ASAP.

  10. Celia I. Farber Says:

    Let me second what MacDonald suggested, about mincemeat. The journalistic culture these days is gladiatorial–a real bloodsport if you ask me.

    I have a suggestion: Let’s sit around like little prigs and COUNT the errors on the article. Let’s create a manifesto. Let’s make flow charts and shading systems that measure the depth and degree of Taube’s errors, (for example, friends, a line in an article can be not exactly wrong but “misleading.”)

    For the love of Christ, did the man even read the numerous articles that cite the higher level of death from HAART than from AIDS in the age of HAART? (Or is it the age of AIDS?)

    I say:

    Let’s make everybody’s life miserable, who has any connection to this article. including the fact checkers at New York Magazine, who we will search out the names of.

    Oh! I have revelations for you Truthseeker, about New York Magazine. But you have to prove to me that you are capable of picking up the phone, doing some show leather reporting. Email me and let me know if you are interested in very salient material that documents the non-objectivity of New York Magazine and its editor, Adam Moss.

    I never ever hear back from you when I email you material, even breaking news.

    Forget New York Magazine. I have truly big news.

  11. Truthseeker Says:

    My email is all centralized on gmail now so there is no possibility of the perfidious and insufficient email at Time Warner blocking my mail by going over limit, Celia, so there is no danger of any email being overlooked if you phone as well. Please confirm your own tel numbers, however, which seem to have changed.

    I find email is uncertain now myself, though. It reminds me of the editor of Wired in 2002, who told me if I wanted to connect with him to use the phone, since he couldn’t handle his email any more. David our mutual friend the lawyer has failed to respond to my several emails and phone messages for eight weeks now.

  12. Cathyvm Says:

    SUPPORT – I second all three of you! Please spill the beans Celia.
    One small ‘fact’ he quoted is that AIDS is now the third leading cause of death in men under 65. While it wasn’t clear whether it was referring to men in NY or across the whole country this seems an absurd claim. Some preliminary checking of actual mortality data revealed a rather striking and very scary anomalous statistic: Black American men are dying at a rate of 6.9 times higher from “HIV infection” than white Americans (which fits with ‘diagnostic’ rates) but Black American women are dying at a rate 15.4 times that of white women. Among whites, the ratio between men and women in “HIV” death rates is 4.5:1, but in Blacks it is 2:1 – clearly (again) something is very wrong with this picture.

  13. cervantes Says:

    Cathyvm, It’s not a mystery – let me try to present the logic behind the black vs. white mortality not only here in the U.S., but also across Europe as regards national citizens vs. immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean. Here in the U.S., the CDC cites that American blacks are 8 times higher (per capita) being “HIV+” and actually this is repeated in the European countries (and Canada, etc.). I might add that I never trust the CDC, but in the case of reporting numbers like this, they are a useful source.

    Here in the U.S., at any rate, the black leaders such as Jesse Jackson, and celebrities such as Magic Johnson exhort their fellow black citizens to be treated with all the anti-retroviral toxic drugs offered at all the inner-city clinics and related care centers, and this has been trumpeted for years in Washington, DC, where the World Health Organization’s Dr. De Cock is even recently quoted as chipping in his two cents, and citing the North Dakota HIV+ rate is 1/100 that of DC, and he admits he is baffled by it (of course, De Cock will always remain baffled because he is a devoted adherent to the lethality of HIV). So, a very large percentage of American blacks on faith take the meds, and Voila!, they are indeed stricken.

    In contrast, the majority of white citizens “infected” are, by far, members of the gay community, and though many won’t admit it, many are aware of how toxic the treatment drugs are, and no doubt eschew the treatments, when only being HIV+. There are actually many doctors who have come to their senses and do not recommend the antiviral/antiretrovirals unless a patient becomes seriously ill. For instance, Dr. Donald Abrams, a very prominent treatment doctor at San Francisco General all through the 1980’s reversed his strong drug attitude, and later taught that a wait and see medical approach was best; his papers are priceless: they document the heavy, strong doses of a dozen different chemotherapies (for those HIV+) were administered by him and his colleagues in the 1980’s to literally thousands of patients, and all, in retrospect, caused death instead of helping.

    BUT, that’s what really happened, and when AZT took center stage for almost 10 years wreaking even higher mortality, Abrams came to his revelation. By the way, Magic Johnson was paid for years to shill Combivir, the mainstay of HAART that caused so much death. His smiling face was on big billboards for years exhorting the black community to take their anti-HIV meds, particulary Combivir which came to the tune of 600 milligrams of AZT a day – pretty lethal stuff. Six years ago, Magic’s doctor said Magic took one Combivir pill a day (300 milligrams of AZT, 150 milligrams of 3TC), but since Magic weighs 300 pounds, and these drugs are all body-weight sensitive, even if he truly took the drug he was shilling (I doubt he did), it would have a non-lethal effect. To beat this point to death (pun intended) the black community trusts the likes of Magic, and follows his advice, that he still gives.

    On top of all this, there have been medical papers citing the genetic makeup of African heritage is, in fact, much more likely to ring up a ‘positive antibody’ result just due to natural, endogenous, cellular debris/particle makeup. This should surprise nobody, as the original basis for being “HIV-antibody positive” was concocted by the infamous Robert Gallo way back in 1984, basing his criteria on the blood of very sick, white, gay guys with all the original symptoms of so-called AIDS. As far as I know nobody at the time tried to check that his concocted tests were appropriate for different racial groups. Finally, there are a plethora of reports over the decades that inner-city blacks in particular have many times the health problems than the rest of the U.S. population, and these health conditions will cross-react with the (really worthless) HIV antibody tests, so this is another reason that blacks fall into the HIV+ category, and then unwittingly fall victim to the poisonous drugs.

  14. cervantes Says:

    PS: The year 2006 CDC stats cite in absolute numbers that American blacks are 2 1/2 times more likely to be tested for HIV.

    Per capita, this comes to the a rate about 13 times greater, blacks compared to whites.

    The ludicrous state of modern medicine always wanting everybody to be tested, not just for HIV antibodies, but for just about anything, is an epidemic in its own right, and brings untold $billions of profits to all involved – and then many $billions for unnecessary prescriptions, many if not most bringing their disastrous side effects.

    The latest HPV vaccine, completely unjustified, has caused the official reporting of about 10,000 serious reactions, and approx. 10 deaths to date. But, as is admitted by even the establishment, at most only 10% of serious reactions to vaccinations that doctors know about actually make a paper report (because the doctors attribute the symptoms to normal disease, not the vaccination), compounded by most vaccinated people (girls and women in the HPV case) upon having a reaction when they get home don’t bother to even get back to the doctor, because they also think it is some type of transient flu, allergy, whatever. The money and profits from the HPV vaccine are mammoth, $billions per year; objective analysis is impossible when profits like this are involved, particularly as evaluations are done by the drug companies making the bucks. To paraphrase Peter Duesberg’s book title Inventing the AIDS Virus, the establishment has invented the cervical cancer virus.

    HPV is following the example of HIV — $billions and $billions for concocted medical tests, iatrogenic therapies, and dangerous vaccinations.

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