One final word on all the HIV stuff for now then I’m taking a break to get in some more interesting subject matter. I’ve started responding to this comment, but it’s getting lengthy so I’m going to start it as a new post below the fold.
Regarding being a “left vs. right” issue, who’s characterized them as such? Indeed, I mentioned in an interview here that AIDS denial runs the political spectrum. And just because it’s a “prevailing paradigm” doesn’t mean it’s incorrect, or that the left should for some reason rally against it. Aren’t progressives supposed to value logic and evidence, in addition to healthy skepticism?
I mean, come on, does anyone truly think that HIV=AIDS skeptics derive some kind of perverse pleasure from the knowledge that Africans are wasting away, or have some kind of agenda to annihilate gay people?
Where has that been said? Rather, it’s those like Harvey and Bethell that accuse those who agree that HIV causes AIDS of being racist and having an agenda to depopulate Africa.
And incidentally, if I were trying to portray myself as open-minded or progressive, I’d take great pains to distance myself from “Quackwatch” and “Dr.” Stephen Barrett. This site is, much like the initiative to Nevirapinize Africa, a wholly Bush-endorsed, right-wing venture.
Again, irony. Wouldn’t that be part of the formula you’re railing against in your post?
You’re arguing against the wrong side here, Matt. Please look over the recent posts here on this. Who is it that’s “shoving questions aside?” I and others have been happy to address any question, but what we’ve received are insults and outright threats. Dr. Bialy has even formulated a response I’m supposed to post here in order for his attacks to stop, so who’s the one stifling dissent?
Finally, yes, I will continue to use the phrase “denialist.” “Dissident” gives them an aura of credibility that I do not believe they deserve. They were given a chance here to answer questions, to show their point of view, and what was given were grevious misunderstandings or outright misrepresentations of the scientific literature (note Hank’s repeated assertions that the Padian study followed couples for 10 years, for instance). When they were confronted, they moved goalposts or simply left the discussion. When they were asked for evidence, little was provided, and when it was, it was up to 20 years old, with no research in the interim.
No one denies there are unanswered questions in HIV research–as there are in every field in science. What the denialists suggest is that we’ll never be able to answer them, and we should switch to an even more unproven paradigm, such as drug use. Again, this is reminiscent of the IDers and their assertion that “evolution is dead” and ID should now take over.
Here in Toronto where I live, a lot of people (both straight and gay) are quite open to some of the dissident points of view. Smart, inquisitive, creative, well read, primarily left-leaning people.
And therein lies some of my concern. I understand that those on the left prefer to rally for the underdog; to buck the mainstream; to examine alternatives. I’m all for that. But when does this skepticism lead to outright denial? I argue that HIV causation of AIDS has met the burden of evidence and then some. Perhaps you noted that none of the people who argued against HIV causation of AIDS were willing to explain what *would* be enough evidence for them to accept the theory; IMO, this is telling. And just because I believe the burden of proof has been met doesn’t mean we have all the info, and it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible that it’s wrong. Scientists admit this all the time–do you see the folks like Harvey admit that possibility? I sure haven’t.