‘The Scientist’ Smears Duesberg in Censorship Story

Economist Nicoli Nattrass Represents Censorship as Serving Science

But She References Excellent Duesberg Journal Article for All to Read

Let’s See If Our Corrective Comment Gets OK’d

David Crowe who runs the best site of the Web for the latest news on the political attacks on and suppression of the true science of AIDS (which is that it is not HIV that causes it, and all of it has to be rewritten taking out that eternally stupid and prima facie ridiculous notion) has noted on Facebook the latest outrage in this respect. One Nicoli Nattrass has written an egregiously upside down report on the attempted censorship of Peter Duesberg latest excellent article on bad HIV/AIDS science.

This piece of scientific, intellectual and moral outrage is perpetrated at The Scientist website and is titled “The Specter of Denialism: Conspiracy theories surrounding the global HIV/AIDS epidemic have cost thousands of lives. But science is fighting back” and reads as follows:

There is a substantial body of evidence showing that HIV causes AIDS—and that antiretroviral treatment (ART) has turned the viral infection from a death sentence into a chronic disease.1 Yet a small group of AIDS denialists keeps alive the conspiratorial argument that ART is harmful and that HIV science has been corrupted by commercial interests. Unfortunately, AIDS denialists have had a disproportionate effect on efforts to stem the AIDS epidemic. In 2000, South African President Thabo Mbeki took these claims seriously, opting to debate the issue, thus delaying the introduction of ART into the South African public health sector. At least 330,000 South Africans died unnecessarily as a result.2,3

The “hero scientist” of AIDS denialism, University of California, Berkeley, virologist Peter Duesberg, argues that HIV is a harmless passenger virus and that ART is toxic, even a cause of AIDS. He has done no clinical research on HIV and ignores the many rebuttals of his claims in the scientific literature.4,5 As I describe in my new book, The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back, this has prompted further direct action against Duesberg by the pro-science community.

In 1993, John Maddox, then editor of Nature, complained that Duesberg was “wrongly using tendentious arguments to confuse understanding of AIDS,” and that because he was not engaging as a scientist, he would no longer be granted an automatic “right of reply.” More recently, in 2009, AIDS activists and HIV scientists, including Nobel Laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, complained to Elsevier, the publisher of Medical Hypotheses, when that journal published a paper by Duesberg defending Mbeki and denying the existence of the African AIDS epidemic. Medical Hypotheses had a policy against peer review, so Elsevier asked the Lancet to oversee a peer review of the paper. When the panel of reviewers unanimously recommended rejection, Elsevier permanently withdrew it and forced Medical Hypotheses to introduce peer review. Last December Duesberg published a reworked version in an Italian journal,6 sparking further controversy and protests from the journal’s editorial board, one of whom has already resigned.

Efforts by scientists to defend science are supplemented by pro-science activists operating on the Internet. Physician, author, and blogger Ben Goldacre argued in his Guardian column Bad Science that a “ragged band of bloggers from all walks of life” has been very successful at exposing pseudoscientific claims and fraudulent alternative practitioners selling quack cures. The Internet now poses a double-edged sword for AIDS denialists. It is becoming a tougher place for people to sequester themselves in a comfortable cocoon of the like-minded. While the web allows denialists to advertise their ideas and build networks, it also exposes potential converts to scientific rebuttals of their claims, as well news about the deaths of the “living icons”—high-profile HIV-positive people who rejected ART.

The key living icon for AIDS denialism was Christine Maggiore. She founded Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives (an organization with Duesberg on its board), campaigned against the use of ART to prevent mothers passing HIV to their babies, and met President Mbeki. Despite her 3-year-old daughter’s succumbing to AIDS, Maggiore remained staunchly opposed to HIV science and ART. She opted for alternative therapies and died at the age of 52, from AIDS-related infections.

Scientists often have a tough time responding to antiscience conspiracy theories because their integrity is impugned by the conspiratorial moves made against them. But precisely because living icons like Maggiore lent credence to AIDS denialism by appearing to offer “living proof” that the science of HIV pathogenesis and treatment is wrong, pro-science activists maintain a list of denialists who have died of AIDS. The weapons of science and reason are still very much in contention, but the gloves have come off in a broader struggle over credibility.

Nicoli Nattrass is director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit at the University of Cape Town and visiting professor at Yale University. Her research on the economics and politics of antiretroviral treatment helped change South African AIDS policy. Read an excerpt of The AIDS Conspiracy.

References
PA Volberding and SG Deeks, “Antiretroviral therapy and management of HIV infection,” Lancet, 376: 49-62, 2010 ↩
P Chigwedere, et. al., “Estimating the lost benefits of antiretroviral drug use in South Africa,” JAIDS, 49:410-15, 2008 ↩
N Nattrass, “AIDS and the scientific governance of medicine in post-apartheid South Africa,” Afr Affairs, 427:157-76, 2008 ↩
P Chigwedere and M. Essex, “AIDS denialism and public health practice,” AIDS Behav, 14:237-47, 2010 ↩
N Nattrass, “Defending the boundaries of science: AIDS denialism, peer review and the Medical Hypotheses saga,” Soc Health Ill, 33:507-21, 2011 ↩
PH. Duesberg, et. al., “AIDS since 1984: No evidence for a new, viral epidemic–not even in Africa,” Ital J Anat Embryol, 116:73–92, 2011 ↩

The comments include some explanation of the wretched Natrass’ activities in this line, which are of course entirely predictable given her affiliations, the most recent of which is an invitation to visit Yale and teach the hapless students there. There was a time when such lame brains engaged in servile self promotion would not have been offered a visit to Yale but apparently that era is long past.

We wrote a comment to try and set the framework for the story and comments straight, but since it probably won’t pass muster we publish it here too just in case it fails to appear:

It should be noted that Peter Duesberg is casually savaged here in this report of the unprofessional political censorship he has suffered in science, without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, his explanation of HIV/AIDS as in fact being other diseases and ailments rrewritten as “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach in cancer which replaces the cul-de-sac of “cancer genes” (oncogenes). Duesberg has been politically vilified but not scientifically disproven (he is unanswered in the two of the very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989, see his site for exact references). His mistreatment should not be echoed in casual remarks or amateur superficialities which reflect lack of research into his position and taking for granted that his vilification by scientific and media opponents is justified. It isn’t.

As a professional science reporter I have followed this absurd situation (absurd and cruel and infinitely wasteful in money and in lives) for 28 years and it has long been quite clear that Peter Duesberg is a fine scientist, and his opponents are trying to maintain nonsense in HIV/AIDS. It is a mistake to assume that notorious heretics in science are wrong. Many of them get the Nobel in the end. Duesberg deserves one, frankly. I am speaking of qualified heretics, of course. He is more qualified than anyone anywhere now to speak on the true science of so called HIV/AIDS, including the core truth, which should be obvious to any thoughtful person, that it is not the cause of AIDS, regardless of labeling. Be that as it may, the treatment Duesberg has received in an outrage to professional science. No one should thoughtlessly join in. It is important to research the issue properly. I refer readers to my scienceguardian.com for repeated clarifications of this egregious distortion of science and smearing of an exceptionally qualified scientist, and a long list of further references to reliable sites and journal articles on the topic.

We always wonder how many readers are sophisticated enough not to swallow this kind of propaganda peddled self-servingly by Nattrass to promote her book (the author allowed to review her own book!) without checking its source, but we doubt there are very many in the world who are sufficiently wary compared to the millions high and low who automatically assume they are being fed the gospel.

Years ago we got our own lengthy piece in The Scientist about efforts to censor Duesberg in the Proceedings of the National Academy where he scotched the HIV nonsense in his biggest broadside ever (a 10 page close spaced article with about 230 footnotes). But that era of even handed editing is past at The Scientist, it is sad to see.

The lack of independent thought and political attitude among editors even in science is one of the great disillusions of working as an investigative science reporter.

UPDATE:

The comment was evidently rejected, possibly because too long. So this was substituted, and it seems to have passed muster:

Peter Duesberg’s evisceration of the claim that HIV causes AIDS is scorned by Nattrass, a person who has exploited this claim in her career, but she cannot quote any scientific journal article proving it, for the simple reason there is none. She scorns Duesberg’s science and thoroughly approves the censorship he has suffered without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach. Duesberg remains unanswered in the two very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989. Until he is, the censorship should be stopped, even though it powerfully demonstrates the fact that the HIV claimants feel too vulnerable to behave like true scientists.

Of course, what is really needed is an Op Ed in the New York Times but given that newspaper’s servile accord from the very beginning with the fairy tale peddled by Anthony Fauci at the NIAID, the chances of that seem slim as long as Lawrence Altman is their goto man for the truth in this concealed scientific dispute.

Certainly it would have to be well written, and carry influential support along with it.

UPDATE 2

How odd. Now The Scientist has published both my Comments after all, which is a bit redundant, though not entirely. There were others in the pro Duesberg, anti censorship camp, too, some usefully pointing out that Nattrass’ views are those of a non specialist who has managed to ride the HIV/AIDS claim to the higher echelons of South African academic circles and abroad probably without ever considering it could be be wrong, or understanding why.

The Scientist deserves a few points for including dissenting Comments, especially since the editor in 2004 would not even consider our reviewing Harvey Bialy’s brilliant book about Duesberg’s life in science, Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg.

But of course any periodical which purports to be about science for scientists has no business printing the word “denialist” as in “AIDS denialist” to describe those who dissent from the prevailing paradigm. This prejudicial word is a favorite of the defenders of the HIV/AIDS claim, who like to imply that AIDS dissenters have no more merit to their view than Holocaust “deniers”.

We are sorry to see that Nattrass has not only suckered the editor into printing a bit of truly unscientific propaganda against the fine scientist Peter Duesberg but also a sales flyer for her own book and one including this word instead of the proper label for those who deny the accuracy and validity of the now universal belief that HIV causes AIDS, which is “HIV dissident”.

But then she is no scientist, but a mere sociologist, a breed which does not always understand good statistics, let alone good science, which gives her a lot in common with most HIV/AIDS researchers.

Of course the record of psychologists in the HIV/AIDS debate is even worse, given the atrocious inanity of the analysis by clinical psychologist Seth Kalichman, in his book Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy, and his blog Denying AIDS (interesting how often sites inimical to the truth purveyed by Duesberg manage to coopt the names which imply that he is right!…another example is the site AIDSTruth.org, which is actually a propaganda site run by John Moore of Cornell Medical Center and other HIV peddlers who like to contort the truth in their cause).

Anyhow here are The Scientist comments so far:

Showing 14 of 14 comments

raymondffoulkes
The term ‘denialism’ has no place in a scientific journal. It is the right of everybody to question any hypothesis or theory; and, for scientists, it is a duty. If a hypothesis has merit it should be capable of standing on its own two feet. There is no piece of apparatus as powerful as the methodology of science, and we must absolutely resist its hijacking by propagandists – however well meaning they may be.

Like Reply
03/08/2012 10:16 AM 5 Likes

Ciocccholly
Don’t be taken in by the Nattrass nonsense.

She spends way too much time jetting here and there and attending endless rallies that is has distorted her thinking.

Nattrass garbles the history of sicknesses like TB, malnutrition and upper respiratory infections in South Africa, ignores the well-known medical history of KwaZulu and eastern Transkei, embraces the racist use of Africans as guinea pigs for western drug companies, and is such a dogmatist that she is blind to why the labor-intensive sex miseducation programs are such flops across Africa.

Save your money folks.

Instead re-read Ludwik Fleck’s indispensable *Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact* (U. of Chicago Press, 1979) to see what a con job and anti-science hustle AIDS has become. Nicoli Nattrass is one of its chief beneficiaries and dogmatic enablers.

(Edited by author 4 days ago)
Like Reply
03/08/2012 12:09 AM 2 Likes

keepitlegal, I graduated from a university in 1962, with a degree in government (some universities call it “political science.” Since retirement I have read daily, and have reviewed college level courses on the philosophies, theories relating to advanced political, economic, historical, scientific and financial issues. I am NOT associated with ANY OTHER entity using the name “keepitlegal,” some of which have taken on that name subsequent to my beginning to use is as a blog name, years ago. I am NOT affiliated with any political party, nor any biased political public relations (propaganda) narrative. I seek to learn, and to think in accord with, analysis of actual events, actual problems in the U. S., and optimally workable solutions to those problems — and am opposed to the opportunistic, self-serving, greedy… spinning of events on part of any organization or interest that puts its own interests ahead of objectivity, accuracy and the good of ALL the people, rather than any self-serving benefit of a few of the people. To the extent that any individual or interest may attain wealth and power without monopolizing, without limiting the power of others to do likewise, without committing fraud, without abusing others… I am fully in support of it. Where and when it abuses and exploits and gouges, I am against that.
I’m sure you will agree that AIDS etiology, symptomology, comparative treatment protocols, and search for a preventive vaccine, are legitimate and important issues.

The best that can be said of the politicization of these issues and the urban legends and conspiracy theories that are attached to them, are hazards resulting from the democratization of information to any and all who wish to know and understand and rationalize such issues.

To read and put into useful perspective the most sophisticated thinking on the subject of how scientists know what they know (and do not know what they do not know) is beyond the motivation or the literacy of most individuals in the world, but there are those — and I am one of them — who believe strongly in “putting the information out there” and hoping for the best.

You are, no doubt, a person who would appreciate the observations of thinkers such as Thomas Kuhn, on what he terms “the structure of scientific revolutions,” and the observations of Witgenstein, Popper, Feirabend and others on the limitations, as well as the accomplishments, of scientific research in conjunction with technological extension of the human senses and application of informal logic to the cause of optimization of coping in humans (individually as well as collectively). Grasping the fuzziness of all observation, measurement and human learning, rationalizing and applying of what is at best fuzzier at the frontiers than most lay persons would ever begin to imagine, it is small wonder that there is fuzziness in the making of some sense of information as it gets ground up and cookie cut to fit the agendas of individuals and self-serving authorships and interest group biases on its way to the lunatic fringe of any population of “learners and users.”

Thank you for the reference. Haven’t read that one.

Shall.

(: > )

Like Reply
03/08/2012 12:39 PM in reply to Ciocccholly

Ciocccholly
I completely agree with you that African AIDS etiology, symptomology, comparative treatment protocols, and search for a preventive vaccine, are legitimate and important issues.
What helps to define and to characterize unscientific books like the latest shrieking accusations from Nattrass is a stubborn and rigid determinism that fails to situate the clinical symptoms that define an AIDS case in Africa (Bangui Definition 1985-2012) in the impoverished living context of rural Africans under apartheid, for instance. She imagines their fevers, diarrhea, persistent coughs, weight loss and associated ailments are somehow derived from their sexual activities!

To paraphrase the old Johnny Lee country song, “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,” folks like Nattrass continue futilely but energetically to look for an AIDS vaccine, drug interventions and the real cause of those AIDS symptoms in all the wrong places. But they can sure roar through the money in no time and demand more, more, more!

Like Reply
03/08/2012 01:37 PM in reply to keepitlegal 2 Likes

Mark Cannell
As keepitlegal says: “Dogmas can be chiseled in stone, and defended by way of apologetics that treat any debate as blasphemy. Science, on the other hand, not being dogma, must do the best it can do with the information at hand, seek new information, and seek to find the highest and best rationale for explaining current information… and should never shrink from facts that challenge it.”

Quite so, and yet the piece clearly shows the stifling of debate by censorship. This is unacceptable. Another form of censorship is taking place around AGW and in the latter case it seems that the science is far less certain being based only on correlation in imperfect computer models… What is needed is general acceptance that our science is imperfect and that we may be wrong and to always accept healthy debate, avoid hubris and to allow funding to carefully examine/consider the 5% outside the 95% confidence interval. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that AGW theories are wrong, rather that failure to properly explore the deficiencies in our understanding are as large a scientific failing as the inability to accept a hypothesis such as HIV causes AIDS.

Like Reply
03/04/2012 03:11 AM 3 Likes

Skepticnyc
It should be noted that Peter Duesberg is casually savaged here in this report of the unprofessional political censorship he has suffered in science, without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, his explanation of HIV/AIDS as in fact being other diseases and ailments rrewritten as “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach in cancer which replaces the cul-de-sac of “cancer genes” (oncogenes). Duesberg has been politically vilified but not scientifically disproven (he is unanswered in the two of the very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989, see his site for exact references). His mistreatment should not be echoed in casual remarks or amateur superficialities which reflect lack of research into his position and taking for granted that his vilification by scientific and media opponents is justified. It isn’t.
As a professional science reporter I have followed this absurd situation (absurd and cruel and infinitely wasteful in money and in lives) for 28 years and it has long been quite clear that Peter Duesberg is a fine scientist, and his opponents are trying to maintain nonsense in HIV/AIDS. It is a mistake to assume that notorious heretics in science are wrong. Many of them get the Nobel in the end. Duesberg deserves one, frankly. I am speaking of qualified heretics, of course. He is more qualified than anyone anywhere now to speak on the true science of so called HIV/AIDS, including the core truth, which should be obvious to any thoughtful person, that it is not the cause of AIDS, regardless of labeling. Be that as it may, the treatment Duesberg has received in an outrage to professional science. No one should thoughtlessly join in. It is important to research the issue properly. I refer readers to my scienceguardian.com for repeated clarifications of this egregious distortion of science and smearing of an exceptionally qualified scientist, and a long list of further references to reliable sites and journal articles on the topic.

Like Reply
03/08/2012 01:19 AM 1 Like

alexandru
Congratulation!

keepitlegal – *It is the job of
science to discover phenomena, to experiment, to seek ever newer and better
models for explaining.*

Brian
Hanley – *I think just answering them is probably the most productive
thing to do.*

Proverbs 25.2 – *We honour God for what He conceals; we honour kings for what they
explain!*

Proverbs 1.22 – *Foolish
people! How long do you want to be foolish? How long will you enjoy pouring
scorn on knowledge? Will you never learn?*

Not everyone can stay
comfortable at the Office knowledge.

Like Reply
03/02/2012 02:26 PM 2 Likes

Brian Hanley
It’s not hard to answer Duesberg’s questions about HIV.

1. Why does Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels, occur almost
exclusively in gay males and not in heterosexual drug users?

– Because KSHV is transmitted by homosexual practices, and while it is not terribly easy to transmit, it is easier to transmit than HIV. So it has filled out its epidemiological niche among the roughly 40% of MSMs (men who have sex with men) who are highly promiscuous. KSHV is also transmitted in heterosexuals, but heterosexual sexual practices are far less efficient at transmission and heterosexuals have far fewer lifetime sexual contacts.

2. Why is AIDS rarely transmitted by heterosexual contact in Europe but is said to spread rapidly among heterosexuals in Africa?

– Because of:

— a much higher number of sexual contacts in African women in certain classes

— extreme poverty causing women to engage in prostitution with higher frequency

— female genital mutilation creating scars that crack and bleed during sex

— a high rate of genital herpes with lesions that improve transmission

— because of sexual practices such as putting sand or dirt on a man’s penis to increase friction and cause pain and bleeding, mixing blood of the partners in the vagina

— civil war and civil disturbance leading to rape

3. If AIDS is caused by a virus, why has it been impossible for researchers to develop a vaccine after 20 years and millions of dollars spent?

– It has also been impossible to develop a vaccine for TB, malaria and Dengue.

– Not every disease can be vaccinated against, because the human immune system cannot defeat every disease. No person has ever been found who naturally recovered from HIV. There are only a rare few elite controllers and long-term-non-progressors.

-Elite controllers are an artifact of probability. HIV variation is a matter of probability, and the exact antibodies produced are also a matter of probability. Win the lottery on both and you have an elite controller. Win the lottery on one, and you have an elite controller for a while. There is also an interaction with the strain of HIV contracted.

– Long-term-non-progressors in some cases have mutations that protect them from destroying their T-cells despite high viral loads. Duesberg is correct that viral load is not inherently a death sentence, but only if you have the right mutation(s). Studying this population has helped develop drug targets.
– Is the rare LTNP population fully understood? No, it’s not. Some may be elite controllers. Some may be elite controllers who will stop being elite eventually. Some may have protective mutations. And some are deluding themselves because it makes them feel better. Some physicians skate on the edge by suggesting a patient or two of theirs is an LTNP when they probably are not and really should be on HAART.

4. Could it be that antiretroviral (ARV) drugs used to attack HIV actually do more harm than good, contrary to the common assumption that they have dramatically reduced AIDS deaths?

– There is no evidence for that. Duesberg’s writeups discussed extremely long-term use of tetracycline, poppers and AZT.
– His tetracycline observation is not new. Suppression of bone marrow does happen with long term use, and it used to be that many in the gay community used tetracycline for long periods prophylactically. But so did legions of teenage boys and girls to control acne in the same time period. That demographic did not develop AIDS.

– Poppers are primarily composed of butyl or isobutyl nitrite/nitrate because it’s cheaper than amyl form. These are carcinogenic. But there is no evidence tying AIDS or KSHV to such use.
– Tetracycline and poppers are not part of the pharmacopeia for HIV.
– We have moved far past AZT into targeted development of drugs that interfere
with the HIV life cycle. Those drugs worked in culture, in animals and demonstrably work in humans.
– AZT does have negative effects with long term use and well documented toxicity. But no animal study shows an AIDS syndrome as a toxic effect. Monkey studies show suppression and increases survival, as do human studies. You cannot produce AIDS by dosing with AZT, although you can cause toxicity.

I don’t know why Duesberg has kept after this any more than anyone else does. But it isn’t difficult to answer the questions he has raised, and I think just answering them is probably the most productive thing to do.

(Edited by author 1 week ago)
Like Reply
03/02/2012 01:32 PM 1 Like

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
Brian: while I agree with most of what you say, I think your reply No. 2 needs some attention. The simple fact of heterosexual African HIV transmission is that it is due to sexual networking – and that a LOT of this is due to men being promiscuous with multiple concurrent partners. Your reasons seem to put the load unfairly on women – and on sexual practices that are in fact not mainstream.

And as for Duesberg: I heard him disbelieve hepatitis B in 1986; he is on record as saying that its reverse transcriptase was too inefficient for it to be the virus’s means of replication. He is so caught up in the “correctness” of his world views that he is in fact incapable of being reasoned with.

Like Reply
03/04/2012 05:14 AM in reply to Brian Hanley 1 Like

Ciocccholly
These are absurdly racist and parochial insinuations backed up by zero evidence. What exactly is meant by “promiscuous?”

With all sexually transmitted infections on the rise across U.S. campuses for the past 20 years – chlamydia, genital warts and herpes simplex – why have HIV infections (pure guesswork numbers from nowhere by the CDC) remained so flatlined at an alleged but never verified 40,000 cases a year (now recently upgraded to a flat 50,000)?

Like Reply
03/08/2012 12:15 AM in reply to Ed Rybicki 2 Likes

Skepticnyc
Peter Duesberg’s evisceration of the claim that HIV causes AIDS is scorned by Nattrassa, a person who has exploited ths claim in her career, but she cannot quote any scientific journal article proving it, for the simple reason there is none. She scorns Duesberg’s science and thoroughly approves the censorship he has suffered without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach. Duesberg remains unanswered in the two very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989. Until he is, the censorship should be stopped, even though it powerfully demonstrates the fact that the HIV claimants feel too vulnerable to behave like true scientists.

Like Reply
03/09/2012 01:17 AM

Thomas Lucero
That HIV starts the process that ends in AIDS has long been shown beyond reasonable doubt. But Duesberg’s assertions give us the opportunity to explain in plain, simple language how we know what we know, in both causes and treatment.

It’s important to be open to new information and new hypotheses that are consistent with the facts. I believe it hurts science to try to censor pseudoscience, as in some important cases, we have found that mainstream science was wrong – e.g. germ theory, meteorites. But Duesberg doesn’t have the right to invent his own facts, or to ignore the facts discovered by others.

As for AGW and CO2, we have many millions of temperature observations, with daily/hourly high/low, precipitation, and other measurements. We also have the absorption bands of the major atmospheric gases. Since CO2 and H2O vary by day/night, weekday/weekend (in populated areas), seasonal, and, in the case of CO2, secular changes, it should be possible to run the data, not in the form of models and projections, but historical data, to see what statistically significant information emerges. If it turns out that we need to collect more information in a different way to reduce error bars by enough to draw conclusions, that would also be valuable.

Since according to best available information, we have had ice ages with CO2 above 3000 ppm, it would be good to know what triggers an ice age, and if there are early warning signs. That could save billions of lives and hundreds of thousands of species.

In the current warming environment, we should also try to find out what stopped the temperature rise at the end of the last ice age and at the end of the Younger Dryas. Due to limited information, this is much more difficult than interpreting current data.

Like Reply
03/07/2012 09:29 AM

johnfryer
This illness is devastating and to argue about treatments is missing the point. Nobody ever got a retroviral illness until we started tinkering with DNA and introducing fragments which produced novel illnesses.

We need to research the origin and thereby prevent other illnesses possibly worse affecting us.

GMO food is one example where in Europe mysterious deaths occurred and the survivors face a zero life on medication and tied to hospital bed treatments for life. E Coli never found but present in every ounce of the millions of tons of GMO shipped from America to Europe under the guise that it is good and nourishing for us.

It is another time bomb going off at present as a damp squib.

But AIDS commenced when one person converted GMO organisms into transmissible illness.

My own enquiries 20 years ago solicited the response that no one was interested in the orign of AIDS and one oxbridge professor who was promptly died stopping any top level work continuing.

While we are dismayed that people do not accept AIDS and treatments we forget our knowledge of how a retroviral illness arrived on mans doorstep after being without for a million years is something more important as deaths may continue now for the eternity that man exists on a planet more and more devastated by his errors.

To be blunt science and industry make advances without due regard to the hazards and when government do intervene as they did in 1973 or so they prove totally unfit to respond correctly. (Asilomar conference).

Like Reply
03/05/2012 09:17 AM

keepitlegal, I graduated from a university in 1962, with a degree in government (some universities call it “political science.” Since retirement I have read daily, and have reviewed college level courses on the philosophies, theories relating to advanced political, economic, historical, scientific and financial issues. I am NOT associated with ANY OTHER entity using the name “keepitlegal,” some of which have taken on that name subsequent to my beginning to use is as a blog name, years ago. I am NOT affiliated with any political party, nor any biased political public relations (propaganda) narrative. I seek to learn, and to think in accord with, analysis of actual events, actual problems in the U. S., and optimally workable solutions to those problems — and am opposed to the opportunistic, self-serving, greedy… spinning of events on part of any organization or interest that puts its own interests ahead of objectivity, accuracy and the good of ALL the people, rather than any self-serving benefit of a few of the people. To the extent that any individual or interest may attain wealth and power without monopolizing, without limiting the power of others to do likewise, without committing fraud, without abusing others… I am fully in support of it. Where and when it abuses and exploits and gouges, I am against that.
In recent years, there has been a turn in how writers ABOUT science view their role in life, and how they view their non-science-literate reading audience as dependent upon them (the writers) to lead them to enlightenment about what science preaches.

Science, in its most useful hours, is spent in searching for new understanding of the world, the universe, the makeup of things… of how living things cope, of how time and motion and space relate, and how material and energy relate and interact in them.

It is the job of science to discover phenomena, to experiment, to seek ever newer and better models for explaining.

If scientists themselves (as opposed to the increasingly sensationalists journalism that feigns a role of protecting them from being misunderstood) were to become rhetoricians who defend “the right” facts and “the right” interpretations against their antagonists, they would be hampered in that cause by the fact that the gaining of new knowledge is not a dogma but — quite the contrary — the very assault upon science itself.

Yes, science is a process of ever and always challenging its own assumptions, always seeking to overturn the current wisdom, always seeking newer and better syntheses to are better at explaining anomalies that don’t fit current ones.

There is no greater misunderstanding of science than the grossly false and misleading perception science could effectively overturn or squelch any misinformation that would be thrown against it. That is the job of what are known among philosophers as “dogma” and ‘apologetics.”

We humans NEVER have ALL the facts about anything. We NEVER have knowledge CERTAIN. We NEVER have a model of any complex thing that does not sweep some anomalies under the veil of ignorance, in tidying up any set of what are often called “laws” rationalized into place to explain most of (but never all) that goes on in nature.

All scientific models are tentative. They will do until a better one comes along. They can be modified to some exetent, to adapt them to new information that fits only to the extent that a square peg can be forced into a round hole — allowing us to almost explain something if we don’t look at all the troublesome little details.

Dogmas can be chiseled in stone, and defended by way of apologetics that treat any debate as blasphemy. Science, on the other hand, not being dogma, must do the best it can do with the information at hand, seek new information, and seek to find the highest and best rationale for explaining current information… and should never shrink from facts that challenge it.

There is much to be said for taking the findings of science, and, yes, the doubts among scientists, too, to the widest human audience which might kick around ideas about those findings. The alternative would be to provide no information to the non-science-literate, at all.

Science does not, and cannot, stamp out ignorance, nor spend time effectively setting the ignorant right.

Meantime, however, journalism is a commercial product or service. Whether it sells or not, does not depend upon how is describes or mis-describes its subject matter.

I have not read the book titled The Aids Conspiracy: How Science Fights Back. Therefore, I have no grounds for commenting on its contents. For all I know, it may be well written, and may contain many reliable observations and argumentations.
My purpose here is only to point out that its title implies at the very least a mis-characterization of what science does, and at least one about what scientists do.

Hopefully the contents of the book may explain that the title is facetious, and designed only to capture reader interest and, having done that, dispel these false implications.
Like Reply
03/02/2012 11:55 AM

Of course, the last comment – “All scientific models are tentative. They will do until a better one comes along. etc” – is a fine statement of the principles of good science, but as far as practical considerations go, it is silly and naive.

When the retiree keepitlegal acquires more information and experience of infighting among scientists he may better appreciate how often modern science in many ways fails to rise to the standards of the vocational ideal he has in mind. Since the last World War when funding from the federal government began to dominate and steer scientific research, joined in the last forty years by the millions invested in biotech and the ever expanding drug sector, more and more leading scientists have become politically competitive rivals wedded to their funding sources and their prospects for patents and other riches.

No wonder Peter Duesberg has had trouble publishing his dangerous views lately (dangerous to HIV/AIDS proponents, not to science or medicine). HIV/AIDS has become one of the biggest examples of this internal distortion of pure science, with hundreds of billions spent and invested so far. Even though it has been clearly shown by the best man in the field to be a fairy tale, and this should be obvious to any thoughtful newspaper reader who contemplates for more than twenty minutes what he is supposed to believe in HIV/AIDS lore (antibodies a guide to future sickness?! come on, gentlemen), the fierce grip of proponents on this lucrative meme will probably last until they are all gone, and are replaced by a younger generation. As Max Planck remarked, progress in science advances funeral by funeral.

UPDATE: Well, well, that got in as a Comment too!

UPDATE: The Comments have expanded to 26, and are well worth recording in total here, since they include not only a prime nitwit “virologist” ably demonstrating how fatuously the HIV/AIDS claim is defended and the distinguished Duesberg is scorned for debunking it, but have also attracted the inimitably sharp Claus Jensen, one of the few people who point out how provincial and racist HIV/AIDS scientists are when they rationalize how HIV could be pandemically infectious heterosexually in Africa when it was demonstrated incontrovertibly by AIDS research general Nancy Padian that HIV positivity simply won’t transfer at all from one heterosexual to another in the US. This is hardly surprising when it is detected by tests for antibody, rather than the supposed agent itself. No one has yet explained how antibodies could possibly infect another human.

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
google-44a0ee4bcf8bdea874fe556af48095dd Well, your mind is obviously made up! Have you ever met Duesberg? I have – and a couple of other prominent denialists. NONE of whom had actually ever worked on HIV, or another lentivirus – which as a virologist myself, I would have expected is a minimum requirement for their skepticism. Saying that Duesberg and Rasnick and Bialy’s opinions on HIV and AIDS should have as much weight as those of people who DO actually work in the field, is like saying that amateur astronomers are qualified to have authoritative and controversial opinions in theoretical astrophysics.
Google my name and HIV if you want to know my qualifications to have an opinion. I’d be interested to know your qualification.

(Edited by author 1 day ago)
Like Reply
Yesterday 08:14 AM 2 Likes

1Claus_Jensen1
Dear Ed “the Virologist” Rybicki,

We all understand that your job here is not to say anything of interest but simply to lend the weight of your title to lay person Nicoli Natrass’s shrill cries for censorship. Good teamwork.

But you know, it looks to me like you’re issuing a challenge up there; something about qualifications. Have you asked Nicoli Nattrass about her qualifications for having an opinion on HIV? Are they more impressive than Duesberg’s?

Personally, I’d like to know your qualifications for deciding who can have an opinion and who can’t on a given issue? I didn’t see philosophy of science or similar among your formal credentials, although hardcore science fiction features prominently.

I understand that when a scientific paper about astronomy, for example, comes out, you simply read it uncritically and say wow! The next day you read another paper saying the exact opposite and your reaction is emphatically and uncritically wow! The next day yet another paper contradicting both of the previous ones is published, and your reaction, well it’s the latest paper, so this must be the truth, at least until tomorrow. Is that how you read about anything you haven’t personally fondled in a test tube?

Be that as it may, how about putting your money where your much vaunted credentials are by telling us exactly what is wrong with the dissident critique of HIV:

HIV has never been purified and isolated properly, the tests accordingly have no virological gold standard, but are validated against each other in a wholly circular fashion (the Perth Group).

There is nothing special about HIV, no special genes or anything else that offers a satisfactory explanation for all the superpowers virologists and other science fiction fans attribute to it. After 25 years HIV experts have yet to come up with an agreed method of action (how HIV causes AIDS), as witnessed by the fact that HIV infection cannot be mathematically modeled (Duesberg).

Let’s start there. Please educate us about why this is so “fringe”, or why you need to owe your career and your paycheck to HIV to make those observations?

(Edited by author 18 hours ago)
Like Reply
Yesterday 01:57 PM in reply to Ed Rybicki

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
You dodged the question: your qualifications? And if you can’t understand how it is that a virus that infects helper T-cells can cause AIDS, then there’s not a lot of point in trying to explain it to you.

Like Reply
Yesterday 03:09 PM in reply to 1Claus_Jensen1

Eugene Semon
Sir, do I have to be qualified to read in the Journal of Virology that HI virions have never been isolated directly from the plasma of AIDS patients

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Yesterday 04:25 PM in reply to Ed Rybicki

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
I flatly refuse to believe you read that in any recent issue of JV – because it’s simply not true.

Like Reply
Yesterday 04:49 PM in reply to Eugene Semon 1 Like

1Claus_Jensen1
No, Ed, the Virologist, I didn’t dodge the question, you were asking it of somebody else.

I, however, asked you directly to refute the Perth Group and Duesberg in your own discipline. You couldn’t. Your answer was a parody of a teenage girl’s “if you don’t understand me it doesn’t matter anyway”.

I’ll humour you anyway though. You have framed your answer deceptively. Of course I can imagine how it would be conceivable for any virus to cause AIDS. That is, I read science fiction as well as you do. But merely being able to conceive of something doesn’t make it so, or a virology degree wouldn’t take more than a week to achieve for people with a rich imagination.

For example, has Robert Gallo not claimed to have discovered other human retroviruses that also have T-cell affinity, but don’t cause AIDS?

And is it not true that some of the proposed mechanisms by which the alleged HIV supposedly kills its victims don’t require infection or only incomplete infection of the particular cell, the so-called bystander killing theory of HIV? As one paper puts it:

“the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused by human immunodeficiency virus-1(HIV-1) involves the apoptotic destruction of infected cells (‘direct killing’) and of noninfected cells many of which are immunologically relevant (‘bystander killing’). Without doubt, HIV-1 can induce apoptosis through a cornucopia of different mechanisms”

In other words, Ed, since the ability of a virus to infect T-cells is not a sufficient cause of AIDS, and since it is not even a necessary cause, according to the speculations of virologists, what you and I are able to imagine has no place in a scientific discussion. Even if I were to accept that there is such a thing as a unique, coherent viral entity HIV that infects T-cells, it proves nothing.

And if after this you still can’t guess my humble qualifications, well there’s no point in telling you is there? (-:

(Edited by author 20 hours ago)
Like Reply
Yesterday 04:31 PM in reply to Ed Rybicki

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
My eyesight must be going: I clicked “like” instead of “reply” on your post….

“Even if I were to accept that there is such a thing as a unique, coherent viral entity HIV that infects T-cells…”: what planet are you ON? In Catholic dogma I am afraid we would have to classify you as “invincibly ignorant”: that is, incapable of being educated. And life is too short to try. Suffice it to say I know folk who routinely isolate live HIV from infected people; I have electron micrographs of the virus taken by someone who worked with isolates every day; a family member is Africa’s leading expert on HIV diversity; my wife is responsible for developing the South African HIV vaccines.

We have 6 times more infected people than the whole US, for 6 times less population – giving us a prevalence of 36 times yours, of a scourge that has very real impacts on our society. SO pardon me if I dismiss you out of hand as not being worth the trouble to engage with further, because all you can do is respout the poisonous and irrelevant nonsense of a bunch of dangerous people.

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Yesterday 04:58 PM in reply to 1Claus_Jensen1

1Claus_Jensen1
And pardon me me if I say that the HIV prevalence in South Africa is an artifact of unproven assumptions fed into flawed computer modelling and as such epidemiological hocus pocus, which I take it is not your area of expertise, so by your own criteria you are not entitled to an opinion.

Regarding your other claims: I put it to you that what you and your colleagues “isolate” and EM are either markers, bits and pieces of the consensus HI-virus, or so-called molecular clones, which are the results of transfection, not infection. Never the whole, purified virus directly from patient’s plasma (cultured).

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Yesterday 05:37 PM in reply to Ed Rybicki

raymondffoulkes
The term ‘denialism’ has no place in a scientific journal. It is the right of everybody to question any hypothesis or theory; and, for scientists, it is a duty. If a hypothesis has merit it should be capable of standing on its own two feet. There is no piece of apparatus as powerful as the methodology of science, and we must absolutely resist its hijacking by propagandists – however well meaning they may be.

Like Reply
03/08/2012 10:16 AM 6 Likes

Ciocccholly
Don’t be taken in by the Nattrass nonsense.

She spends way too much time jetting here and there and attending endless rallies that is has distorted her thinking.

Nattrass garbles the history of sicknesses like TB, malnutrition and upper respiratory infections in South Africa, ignores the well-known medical history of KwaZulu and eastern Transkei, embraces the racist use of Africans as guinea pigs for western drug companies, and is such a dogmatist that she is blind to why the labor-intensive sex miseducation programs are such flops across Africa.

Save your money folks.

Instead re-read Ludwik Fleck’s indispensable *Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact* (U. of Chicago Press, 1979) to see what a con job and anti-science hustle AIDS has become. Nicoli Nattrass is one of its chief beneficiaries and dogmatic enablers.

(Edited by author 6 days ago)
Like Reply
03/08/2012 12:09 AM 2 Likes

keepitlegal, I graduated from a university in 1962, with a degree in government (some universities call it “political science.” Since retirement I have read daily, and have reviewed college level courses on the philosophies, theories relating to advanced political, economic, historical, scientific and financial issues. I am NOT associated with ANY OTHER entity using the name “keepitlegal,” some of which have taken on that name subsequent to my beginning to use is as a blog name, years ago. I am NOT affiliated with any political party, nor any biased political public relations (propaganda) narrative. I seek to learn, and to think in accord with, analysis of actual events, actual problems in the U. S., and optimally workable solutions to those problems — and am opposed to the opportunistic, self-serving, greedy… spinning of events on part of any organization or interest that puts its own interests ahead of objectivity, accuracy and the good of ALL the people, rather than any self-serving benefit of a few of the people. To the extent that any individual or interest may attain wealth and power without monopolizing, without limiting the power of others to do likewise, without committing fraud, without abusing others… I am fully in support of it. Where and when it abuses and exploits and gouges, I am against that.
I’m sure you will agree that AIDS etiology, symptomology, comparative treatment protocols, and search for a preventive vaccine, are legitimate and important issues.

The best that can be said of the politicization of these issues and the urban legends and conspiracy theories that are attached to them, are hazards resulting from the democratization of information to any and all who wish to know and understand and rationalize such issues.

To read and put into useful perspective the most sophisticated thinking on the subject of how scientists know what they know (and do not know what they do not know) is beyond the motivation or the literacy of most individuals in the world, but there are those — and I am one of them — who believe strongly in “putting the information out there” and hoping for the best.

You are, no doubt, a person who would appreciate the observations of thinkers such as Thomas Kuhn, on what he terms “the structure of scientific revolutions,” and the observations of Witgenstein, Popper, Feirabend and others on the limitations, as well as the accomplishments, of scientific research in conjunction with technological extension of the human senses and application of informal logic to the cause of optimization of coping in humans (individually as well as collectively). Grasping the fuzziness of all observation, measurement and human learning, rationalizing and applying of what is at best fuzzier at the frontiers than most lay persons would ever begin to imagine, it is small wonder that there is fuzziness in the making of some sense of information as it gets ground up and cookie cut to fit the agendas of individuals and self-serving authorships and interest group biases on its way to the lunatic fringe of any population of “learners and users.”

Thank you for the reference. Haven’t read that one.

Shall.

(: > )

Like Reply
03/08/2012 12:39 PM in reply to Ciocccholly

Ciocccholly
I completely agree with you that African AIDS etiology, symptomology, comparative treatment protocols, and search for a preventive vaccine, are legitimate and important issues.
What helps to define and to characterize unscientific books like the latest shrieking accusations from Nattrass is a stubborn and rigid determinism that fails to situate the clinical symptoms that define an AIDS case in Africa (Bangui Definition 1985-2012) in the impoverished living context of rural Africans under apartheid, for instance. She imagines their fevers, diarrhea, persistent coughs, weight loss and associated ailments are somehow derived from their sexual activities!

To paraphrase the old Johnny Lee country song, “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,” folks like Nattrass continue futilely but energetically to look for an AIDS vaccine, drug interventions and the real cause of those AIDS symptoms in all the wrong places. But they can sure roar through the money in no time and demand more, more, more!

Like Reply
03/08/2012 01:37 PM in reply to keepitlegal 2 Likes

Mark Cannell
As keepitlegal says: “Dogmas can be chiseled in stone, and defended by way of apologetics that treat any debate as blasphemy. Science, on the other hand, not being dogma, must do the best it can do with the information at hand, seek new information, and seek to find the highest and best rationale for explaining current information… and should never shrink from facts that challenge it.”

Quite so, and yet the piece clearly shows the stifling of debate by censorship. This is unacceptable. Another form of censorship is taking place around AGW and in the latter case it seems that the science is far less certain being based only on correlation in imperfect computer models… What is needed is general acceptance that our science is imperfect and that we may be wrong and to always accept healthy debate, avoid hubris and to allow funding to carefully examine/consider the 5% outside the 95% confidence interval. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that AGW theories are wrong, rather that failure to properly explore the deficiencies in our understanding are as large a scientific failing as the inability to accept a hypothesis such as HIV causes AIDS.

Like Reply
03/04/2012 03:11 AM 3 Likes

Skepticnyc
It should be noted that Peter Duesberg is casually savaged here in this report of the unprofessional political censorship he has suffered in science, without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, his explanation of HIV/AIDS as in fact being other diseases and ailments rrewritten as “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach in cancer which replaces the cul-de-sac of “cancer genes” (oncogenes). Duesberg has been politically vilified but not scientifically disproven (he is unanswered in the two of the very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989, see his site for exact references). His mistreatment should not be echoed in casual remarks or amateur superficialities which reflect lack of research into his position and taking for granted that his vilification by scientific and media opponents is justified. It isn’t.
As a professional science reporter I have followed this absurd situation (absurd and cruel and infinitely wasteful in money and in lives) for 28 years and it has long been quite clear that Peter Duesberg is a fine scientist, and his opponents are trying to maintain nonsense in HIV/AIDS. It is a mistake to assume that notorious heretics in science are wrong. Many of them get the Nobel in the end. Duesberg deserves one, frankly. I am speaking of qualified heretics, of course. He is more qualified than anyone anywhere now to speak on the true science of so called HIV/AIDS, including the core truth, which should be obvious to any thoughtful person, that it is not the cause of AIDS, regardless of labeling. Be that as it may, the treatment Duesberg has received in an outrage to professional science. No one should thoughtlessly join in. It is important to research the issue properly. I refer readers to my scienceguardian.com for repeated clarifications of this egregious distortion of science and smearing of an exceptionally qualified scientist, and a long list of further references to reliable sites and journal articles on the topic.

Like Reply
03/08/2012 01:19 AM 1 Like

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
“Peter Duesberg is a fine scientist”: he certainly was; however, I don’t think he’s produced much in recent years that isn’t considered fringe. What’s more important is that he has never actually worked on HIV or another lentivirus: he has published far more on cancer than on HIV in the last twenty years, and not ONE of those HIV papers actually reports any experimental data. They all seem to be commentaries or reviews.

Like Reply
Yesterday 04:40 AM in reply to Skepticnyc

Seth Kalichman
5 Lines and a virologist didn’t say anything about HIV, just another sledging of Duesberg. It’s incredible that the orthodox does not have any answer to the skeptics except for glib and garbled crap about “didn’t work on a lentivirus”. That kind of logic would state that an astrophysicist who hadn’t been in to space doesn’t have a right to form an opinion. Wake up you dud clowns

Like Reply
Yesterday 07:27 AM in reply to Ed Rybicki

alexandru
Congratulation!

keepitlegal – *It is the job of
science to discover phenomena, to experiment, to seek ever newer and better
models for explaining.*

Brian
Hanley – *I think just answering them is probably the most productive
thing to do.*

Proverbs 25.2 – *We honour God for what He conceals; we honour kings for what they
explain!*

Proverbs 1.22 – *Foolish
people! How long do you want to be foolish? How long will you enjoy pouring
scorn on knowledge? Will you never learn?*

Not everyone can stay
comfortable at the Office knowledge.

Like Reply
03/02/2012 02:26 PM 2 Likes

Brian Hanley
It’s not hard to answer Duesberg’s questions about HIV.

1. Why does Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels, occur almost
exclusively in gay males and not in heterosexual drug users?

– Because KSHV is transmitted by homosexual practices, and while it is not terribly easy to transmit, it is easier to transmit than HIV. So it has filled out its epidemiological niche among the roughly 40% of MSMs (men who have sex with men) who are highly promiscuous. KSHV is also transmitted in heterosexuals, but heterosexual sexual practices are far less efficient at transmission and heterosexuals have far fewer lifetime sexual contacts.

2. Why is AIDS rarely transmitted by heterosexual contact in Europe but is said to spread rapidly among heterosexuals in Africa?

– Because of:

— a much higher number of sexual contacts in African women in certain classes

— extreme poverty causing women to engage in prostitution with higher frequency

— female genital mutilation creating scars that crack and bleed during sex

— a high rate of genital herpes with lesions that improve transmission

— because of sexual practices such as putting sand or dirt on a man’s penis to increase friction and cause pain and bleeding, mixing blood of the partners in the vagina

— civil war and civil disturbance leading to rape

3. If AIDS is caused by a virus, why has it been impossible for researchers to develop a vaccine after 20 years and millions of dollars spent?

– It has also been impossible to develop a vaccine for TB, malaria and Dengue.

– Not every disease can be vaccinated against, because the human immune system cannot defeat every disease. No person has ever been found who naturally recovered from HIV. There are only a rare few elite controllers and long-term-non-progressors.

-Elite controllers are an artifact of probability. HIV variation is a matter of probability, and the exact antibodies produced are also a matter of probability. Win the lottery on both and you have an elite controller. Win the lottery on one, and you have an elite controller for a while. There is also an interaction with the strain of HIV contracted.

– Long-term-non-progressors in some cases have mutations that protect them from destroying their T-cells despite high viral loads. Duesberg is correct that viral load is not inherently a death sentence, but only if you have the right mutation(s). Studying this population has helped develop drug targets.
– Is the rare LTNP population fully understood? No, it’s not. Some may be elite controllers. Some may be elite controllers who will stop being elite eventually. Some may have protective mutations. And some are deluding themselves because it makes them feel better. Some physicians skate on the edge by suggesting a patient or two of theirs is an LTNP when they probably are not and really should be on HAART.

4. Could it be that antiretroviral (ARV) drugs used to attack HIV actually do more harm than good, contrary to the common assumption that they have dramatically reduced AIDS deaths?

– There is no evidence for that. Duesberg’s writeups discussed extremely long-term use of tetracycline, poppers and AZT.
– His tetracycline observation is not new. Suppression of bone marrow does happen with long term use, and it used to be that many in the gay community used tetracycline for long periods prophylactically. But so did legions of teenage boys and girls to control acne in the same time period. That demographic did not develop AIDS.

– Poppers are primarily composed of butyl or isobutyl nitrite/nitrate because it’s cheaper than amyl form. These are carcinogenic. But there is no evidence tying AIDS or KSHV to such use.
– Tetracycline and poppers are not part of the pharmacopeia for HIV.
– We have moved far past AZT into targeted development of drugs that interfere
with the HIV life cycle. Those drugs worked in culture, in animals and demonstrably work in humans.
– AZT does have negative effects with long term use and well documented toxicity. But no animal study shows an AIDS syndrome as a toxic effect. Monkey studies show suppression and increases survival, as do human studies. You cannot produce AIDS by dosing with AZT, although you can cause toxicity.

I don’t know why Duesberg has kept after this any more than anyone else does. But it isn’t difficult to answer the questions he has raised, and I think just answering them is probably the most productive thing to do.

(Edited by author 1 week ago)
Like Reply
03/02/2012 01:32 PM 2 Likes

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
Brian: while I agree with most of what you say, I think your reply No. 2 needs some attention. The simple fact of heterosexual African HIV transmission is that it is due to sexual networking – and that a LOT of this is due to men being promiscuous with multiple concurrent partners. Your reasons seem to put the load unfairly on women – and on sexual practices that are in fact not mainstream.

And as for Duesberg: I heard him disbelieve hepatitis B in 1986; he is on record as saying that its reverse transcriptase was too inefficient for it to be the virus’s means of replication. He is so caught up in the “correctness” of his world views that he is in fact incapable of being reasoned with.

Like Reply
03/04/2012 05:14 AM in reply to Brian Hanley 1 Like

Ciocccholly
These are absurdly racist and parochial insinuations backed up by zero evidence. What exactly is meant by “promiscuous?”

With all sexually transmitted infections on the rise across U.S. campuses for the past 20 years – chlamydia, genital warts and herpes simplex – why have HIV infections (pure guesswork numbers from nowhere by the CDC) remained so flatlined at an alleged but never verified 40,000 cases a year (now recently upgraded to a flat 50,000)?

Like Reply
03/08/2012 12:15 AM in reply to Ed Rybicki 2 Likes

Skepticnyc
“All scientific models are tentative. They will do until a better one comes along. etc” – is a fine statement of the principles of good science, but as far as practical considerations go, it is a trifle naive.

When the retiree keepitlegal acquires more information and experience of infighting among scientists he may better appreciate how often modern science in many ways fails to rise to the standards of the vocational ideal he has in mind. Since the last World War when funding from the federal government began to dominate and steer scientific research, joined in the last forty years by the millions invested in biotech and the ever expanding drug sector, more and more leading scientists have become politically competitive rivals wedded to their funding sources and their prospects for patents and other riches.

No wonder Peter Duesberg has had trouble publishing his dangerous views lately (dangerous to HIV/AIDS proponents, not to science or medicine). HIV/AIDS has become one of the biggest examples of this internal distortion of pure science, with hundreds of billions spent and invested so far. Even though it has been clearly shown by the best man in the field to be a fairy tale, and this should be obvious to any thoughtful newspaper reader who contemplates for more than twenty minutes what he is supposed to believe in HIV/AIDS lore (antibodies a guide to future sickness? come on gentlemen!), the fierce grip of proponents on this lucrative meme will probably last until they are all gone, and are replaced by a younger generation. As Max Planck remarked, progress in science advances funeral by funeral.

Like Reply
03/12/2012 02:13 AM

Skepticnyc
Peter Duesberg’s evisceration of the claim that HIV causes AIDS is scorned by Nattrassa, a person who has exploited ths claim in her career, but she cannot quote any scientific journal article proving it, for the simple reason there is none. She scorns Duesberg’s science and thoroughly approves the censorship he has suffered without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach. Duesberg remains unanswered in the two very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989. Until he is, the censorship should be stopped, even though it powerfully demonstrates the fact that the HIV claimants feel too vulnerable to behave like true scientists.

Like Reply
03/09/2012 01:17 AM

Thomas Lucero
That HIV starts the process that ends in AIDS has long been shown beyond reasonable doubt. But Duesberg’s assertions give us the opportunity to explain in plain, simple language how we know what we know, in both causes and treatment.

It’s important to be open to new information and new hypotheses that are consistent with the facts. I believe it hurts science to try to censor pseudoscience, as in some important cases, we have found that mainstream science was wrong – e.g. germ theory, meteorites. But Duesberg doesn’t have the right to invent his own facts, or to ignore the facts discovered by others.

As for AGW and CO2, we have many millions of temperature observations, with daily/hourly high/low, precipitation, and other measurements. We also have the absorption bands of the major atmospheric gases. Since CO2 and H2O vary by day/night, weekday/weekend (in populated areas), seasonal, and, in the case of CO2, secular changes, it should be possible to run the data, not in the form of models and projections, but historical data, to see what statistically significant information emerges. If it turns out that we need to collect more information in a different way to reduce error bars by enough to draw conclusions, that would also be valuable.

Since according to best available information, we have had ice ages with CO2 above 3000 ppm, it would be good to know what triggers an ice age, and if there are early warning signs. That could save billions of lives and hundreds of thousands of species.

In the current warming environment, we should also try to find out what stopped the temperature rise at the end of the last ice age and at the end of the Younger Dryas. Due to limited information, this is much more difficult than interpreting current data.

Like Reply
03/07/2012 09:29 AM

johnfryer
This illness is devastating and to argue about treatments is missing the point. Nobody ever got a retroviral illness until we started tinkering with DNA and introducing fragments which produced novel illnesses.

We need to research the origin and thereby prevent other illnesses possibly worse affecting us.

GMO food is one example where in Europe mysterious deaths occurred and the survivors face a zero life on medication and tied to hospital bed treatments for life. E Coli never found but present in every ounce of the millions of tons of GMO shipped from America to Europe under the guise that it is good and nourishing for us.

It is another time bomb going off at present as a damp squib.

But AIDS commenced when one person converted GMO organisms into transmissible illness.

My own enquiries 20 years ago solicited the response that no one was interested in the orign of AIDS and one oxbridge professor who was promptly died stopping any top level work continuing.

While we are dismayed that people do not accpet AIDS and treatments we forget our knowledge of how a retroviral illness arrived on mans doorstep after being without for a million years is something more important as deaths may continue now for the eternity that man exists on a planet more and more devastated by his errors.

To be blunt science and industry make advances without due regard to the hazards and when government do intervene as they did in 1973 or so they prove totally unfit to respond correctly. (Asilomar conference).

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03/05/2012 09:17 AM

keepitlegal, I graduated from a university in 1962, with a degree in government (some universities call it “political science.” Since retirement I have read daily, and have reviewed college level courses on the philosophies, theories relating to advanced political, economic, historical, scientific and financial issues. I am NOT associated with ANY OTHER entity using the name “keepitlegal,” some of which have taken on that name subsequent to my beginning to use is as a blog name, years ago. I am NOT affiliated with any political party, nor any biased political public relations (propaganda) narrative. I seek to learn, and to think in accord with, analysis of actual events, actual problems in the U. S., and optimally workable solutions to those problems — and am opposed to the opportunistic, self-serving, greedy… spinning of events on part of any organization or interest that puts its own interests ahead of objectivity, accuracy and the good of ALL the people, rather than any self-serving benefit of a few of the people. To the extent that any individual or interest may attain wealth and power without monopolizing, without limiting the power of others to do likewise, without committing fraud, without abusing others… I am fully in support of it. Where and when it abuses and exploits and gouges, I am against that.
In recent years, there has been a turn in how writers ABOUT science view their role in life, and how they view their non-science-literate reading audience as dependent upon them (the writers) to lead them to enlightenment about what science preaches.

Science, in its most useful hours, is spent in searching for new understanding of the world, the universe, the makeup of things… of how living things cope, of how time and motion and space relate, and how material and energy relate and interact in them.

It is the job of science to discover phenomena, to experiment, to seek ever newer and better models for explaining.

If scientists themselves (as opposed to the increasingly sensationalists journalism that feigns a role of protecting them from being misunderstood) were to become rhetoricians who defend “the right” facts and “the right” interpretations against their antagonists, they would be hampered in that cause by the fact that the gaining of new knowledge is not a dogma but — quite the contrary — the very assault upon science itself.

Yes, science is a process of ever and always challenging its own assumptions, always seeking to overturn the current wisdom, always seeking newer and better syntheses to are better at explaining anomalies that don’t fit current ones.

There is no greater misunderstanding of science than the grossly false and misleading perception science could effectively overturn or squelch any misinformation that would be thrown against it. That is the job of what are known among philosophers as “dogma” and ‘apologetics.”

We humans NEVER have ALL the facts about anything. We NEVER have knowledge CERTAIN. We NEVER have a model of any complex thing that does not sweep some anomalies under the veil of ignorance, in tidying up any set of what are often called “laws” rationalized into place to explain most of (but never all) that goes on in nature.

All scientific models are tentative. They will do until a better one comes along. They can be modified to some exetent, to adapt them to new information that fits only to the extent that a square peg can be forced into a round hole — allowing us to almost explain something if we don’t look at all the troublesome little details.

Dogmas can be chiseled in stone, and defended by way of apologetics that treat any debate as blasphemy. Science, on the other hand, not being dogma, must do the best it can do with the information at hand, seek new information, and seek to find the highest and best rationale for explaining current information… and should never shrink from facts that challenge it.

There is much to be said for taking the findings of science, and, yes, the doubts among scientists, too, to the widest human audience which might kick around ideas about those findings. The alternative would be to provide no information to the non-science-literate, at all.

Science does not, and cannot, stamp out ignorance, nor spend time effectively setting the ignorant right.

Meantime, however, journalism is a commercial product or service. Whether it sells or not, does not depend upon how is describes or mis-describes its subject matter.

I have not read the book titled The Aids Conspiracy: How Science Fights Back. Therefore, I have no grounds for commenting on its contents. For all I know, it may be well written, and may contain many reliable observations and argumentations.
My purpose here is only to point out that its title implies at the very least a mis-characterization of what science does, and at least one about what scientists do.

Hopefully the contents of the book may explain that the title is facetious, and designed only to capture reader interest and, having done that, dispel these false implications.

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03/02/2012 11:55 AM

1Claus_Jensen1
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Brian Hanley’s outrageous and unsupported explanation of why heterosexually transmitted HIV transmission is exploding in large parts of Africa, a huge continent where not all cultures and practices are similar mind you, is an excellent demonstration of the racist ad hoc hypotheses scientists (and certain others) come up with to explain the unexplainable.

There are plenty of hypotheses to choose from, such as “Duffy” genes, CCR5 receptor mutations, (making white people immune to HIV infection – unless they are gay of course), smearing monkey blood on genitals, lack of circumcision, and the euphemistic term “sexual networking” preferred by Ed Rybicki, the virologist.

Another current favourite is that African women just happen to have drier vaginas than everybody else. That’s presumably because virologists are not the only ones who are a little queasy about the “smear dirt on the penis to cause pain and rape them” hypothesis championed by Brian Hanley. It does sound better to say that Africans just happen to be genetically unfortunate – but only when it comes to HIV of course.

In one of the latest large studies it was suggested that the big difference was that the partners of African women are on average a couple of years older than those of American women. We recognise the tattered remnants of the “sexual networking” theory.

Niccoli Nattras is a well known crusader, who has found her niche on this smorgasbord of scientific ad hockery. When she is not consigning Peter Duesberg and previous president Mbeki to the flames she co-authors sociological gems such as “AIDS Conspiracy Beliefs and Unsafe Sex in Cape
Town”. Some of the more intriguing observations juxtaposed are these:

“Membership of a religious organisation reduced the odds of believing AIDS origin conspiracy theories by more than a third” (…) Belief in witchcraft tripled the odds among Africans.”

From that we learn that “witchcraft”, the scientific name Nattras and her colleagues have coined for traditional African religion, does not qualify as a religious organisation. We further learn that members of proper religious organisations are not prone to harmful beliefs in supernatural beings, conspiracy theories and unsafe sex because the two groups, “religiously associated” and “witches”, obviously don’t overlap. Nattras is thus crusading in many different areas of scientific, political and cultural life for the benefit of the benighted.

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All this roused us to another pitch of loathing and disgust (to use Chargaff’s phrase) and so we coundln’t help firing off another broadside, but with little hope of this one being included, despite the apparent admirable tolerance of The Scientist for the points of heretics:

Here we have a “virologist” who has “met Duesberg” ably demonstrating how poorly the HIV/AIDS claim is defended and how freely the distinguished Duesberg is scorned for debunking it, but luckily this Scientist thread has also attracted the inimitably sharp Claus Jensen, one of the few people who publicly point out how provincial and racist HIV/AIDS scientists are when they rationalize how HIV could be pandemically infectious heterosexually in Africa when it was demonstrated incontrovertibly by AIDS research general Nancy Padian that HIV positivity simply won’t transfer at all from one heterosexual to another in the US. This is hardly surprising when it is detected by tests for antibody, rather than the supposed agent itself. No one has yet explained how antibodies could possibly infect another human. Perhaps Ed Rybicki, Virologist, would like to tell us? Or does he leave it to the epidemiologists to explain this puzzle?

In that case since he is a virologist by his own account perhaps he would tell the world how come HIV which is so lethal to T cells in the body flourishes in T cell culture and is transported in same from one lab to another? Of course, one also waits for him to explain how HIV kills T cells in the body, since after 27 years of this fatuity no one else has managed to explain it either, let alone demonstrate that it happens at all. Dr Antony Fauci of NIAID has publicly acknowledged at the New School that it doesn’t happen. He said, on the contrary, HIV encourages such a furious output of T cells that the immune system “runs out of steam”.

Perhaps onlookers who are wondering how the HIV/AIDS scientific community have managed to get a free pass for 28 years on an unproven claim that makes no sense whatsoever and which is contradicted everywhere one looks in the data they have gathered should consider the politics, both scientific and also gay, which have protected them. Then there is the tendency of all humans, scientists included, to suffer from confirmation bias and stoutly defend what they already believe against all comers, ably analysed by Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow, among dozens of other brain operation pitfalls we are all heir to.

Whatever happened to the fundamental principle of good science, which is to question ourselves first before we debate others? HIV/AIDS is an unproven claim, not a Biblical text. Its problematic nature is indicated by its infamous lack of results in 28 years. The only way patients have been rescued is to be given weaker drugs, which take longer to undermine their health. The CDC continues to record deaths in the US of around 17,000 a year.

And where is the vaccine? Apparently HIV is its own very effective vaccine, since in a matter of days or weeks a newly infected person has antibodies to HIV and virtually undetectable amounts of HIV. Perhaps someone should patent HIV?

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