Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

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

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

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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blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.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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Magic Johnson presents a problem for HIV dissenters —which they solve

Magic Johnson presents a major problem for HIV dissenters, because he has stated in public that he takes his antiviral cocktail – the HAART regime – dutifully, and does not visibly suffer from fatty lumps and humps. Nor has he collapsed from kidney and liver damage, which dissenters claim is the fate of all who take these AIDS medicines, certainly within the many years that Magic has been taking his medicine after being diagnosed HIV positive.

HIV dissenters like to solve the inconsistency with their counter-theory of the dangerous irrelevancy of anti-HIV drugs to AIDS by claiming that Magic has said privately he doesn’t touch the stuff,

But he consistently maintains the opposite in public, so we took a special interest in the Charlie Rose interview tonight (Thurs Nov 24), which featured Magic for the full hour with his book My Hero; The Hero Project.

Rose brings up AIDS in the last quarter hour briefly, and Magic outlines his current ideas on AIDS, after correcting Rose by saying he has the “HIV virus” not AIDS, and that telling his woman about his positive HIV test was the hardest thing he ever had to do. Magic gives talks on HIV and AIDS to many groups. he says, and he urges them all to confess at once that they have HIV if they test positive, because “we have 26 drugs to help you”.

Without exception Magic’s comments followed the conventional wisdom ie the HIV party line – the “science of AIDS is going really, really well, fabulous”, “it is not a gay man disease”, one should get tested straight away, and AIDS is now invading the black and the Latino community “in a big way”, 60 per cent of the new cases now, etc. “We have to make sure we educate our children, our young people about this, because as we read in the paper the other day teenage sex is up among young people. Highest it’s ever been before. So we gotta get out there and make sure we educate people about HIV and AIDS.”

Given Magic’s ready, confident response along these lines, it seems impossible that he is concealing any private belief that all this is fantastic nonsense, and not taking his drugs. Fantasy it is of course, according to the latest mainstream scientific literature (which gives data which effectively denies any possibility of heterosexual HIV spread through sex, as we showed recently), not to mention the scientific review literature.

The question is, then, why has Magic survived the medications so well? The answer, critics say, is that he is a robust athlete whose body can handle them and stay healthy. Cancer chemotherapy patients survive similar assaults. The reason Magic and many other patients survive the drug regimen of AIDS very well is that it affects individuals differently because of biological variance.

The bigger question is, if the literature, as the reviews point out, tells us that any initial improvement aside (first they kill infections faster than the host, and excite immune cell creation by the bone marrow, which feels good, giving rise to the many stories in the uncritical press that a quick dose of “cocktail” enables an ailing AIDS patient to leap out of bed and climb the nearest mountain), the drugs have an adverse impact on the health of most AIDS patients and eventually send them to their doom, how is the standard claim that the drugs have enabled them to live normal lives able to survive a decade without imploding?

That, currently, is the billion dollar question for HIV dissenters. As Nobel prize winner James Watson said to this author, when discussing the validity of HIV?AIDS, “But the new drugs work, don’t they?”

To this HIV critics have an answer. Two answers, in fact. The point they say is that HIV supporters are able to make false claims for HIV and AIDS medications, based on a misinterpretation of a) the effect of reducing the dose of lethal drugs and b) recruiting more robust patients ie those not yet down with “AIDS” symptoms.

In the early days of AIDS the dose of AZT was much higher and more of the patients were already sick when they were given the standard AIDS medications, As the level of AZT was reduced the patient’s lives were lengthened, a year or so before protease inhibitors were brought in. HIV proponents now claim that their lives were lengthened by the new medications, but the improvement is visible in the trend before they came in. Clearly it was simply a result of cutting the dose of AZT, which is a DNA chain terminator which kills any cells dividing nearby, which they do to multiply in our bodies all the time.

Likewise, critics say, the trend towards administering protease inhibitors to people who are “HIV positive” (actually HIV antibody positive) but in good health without any AIDS symptoms results in more people living longer as they take the new drugs, because they have the robust health to withstand them better. This also is falsely credited to the efficacy of protease inhibitors.

One set of facts, two interpretations—but only one fits all the facts. The decline of AIDS deaths a year or more before the introduction of the new medications cannot be explained by the HIV defenders.

One Response to “Magic Johnson presents a problem for HIV dissenters —which they solve”

  1. Truthseeker Says:

    Update: After this post was posted, informed observers emailed to say (in one email, from a knowledgeable scientific and political actor in the HIV dissent) that “He is lying. There is no way on God’s earth that even superman could survive the Mac truck of HAART and AZT for as long as he has had the ‘AIDS virus’.What I am told on good authority is that he fudges by taking a couple a week and lots and lots and lots of vitamins.” and that Johnson in a POZ interview in the late nineties acknowledged he had swiftly given up AZT as soon as he found in his case the side effects were terrible.

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