Regular readers are very familiar with my refrain that many science deniers use the same tactics: bad arguments, quote-mining, appeals to authority, castigation of originators of respective theories, etc. etc. Another common thread is the complete bastardization of statistical analysis. Mark Chu-Carroll elaborates on Peter Duesberg’s misuse of statistics here, while mathematician John Allen Paulos destroys creationist/ID analysis here. I’ll highlight some of the best parts below:

For those of you who are familiar with creationist/ID arguments, you know that they take an event (say, the evolution of the human eye), and extrapolate backwards, ending with the assertion that such a structure is “too complex” for it to have evolved; it’s “statistically impossible.”

…the standard argument goes roughly as follows. A very long sequence of individually improbable mutations must occur in order for a species or a biological process to evolve.

If we assume these are independent events, then the probability of all of them occurring and occurring in the right order is the product of their respective probabilities, which is always an extremely tiny number.

Thus, for example, the probability of getting a 3, 2, 6, 2, and 5 when rolling a single die five times is 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 or 1/7,776 — one chance in 7,776.

The much longer sequences of fortuitous events necessary for a new species or a new process to evolve leads to the minuscule numbers that creationists argue prove that evolution is so wildly improbable as to be essentially impossible.

Of course, this is illogical for a number of reasons; most notably because, while that particular outcome may have been unlikely, *some* outcome had a high probablility of occurring. Paulos gives the example of dealing a particular hand from a deck of cards. The odds of getting a particular sequence of cards defined a priori are incredibly small, but the odds of being dealt *some* hand, obviously, is high.

Similarly, Mark Chu-Carroll takes apart Peter Duesberg’s use in a 1992 paper (still making the rounds) of the gambler’s fallacy in HIV transmission. Duesberg claims (emphasis mine):

Most, if not all, of these adolescents must have acquired HIV from perinatal infection for the following reasons: sexual transmission of HIV depends on an average of 1000 sexual contacts, and only 1in 250 Americans carries HIV (Table 1). Thus, all positive teenagers would have had to achieve an absurd 1000 contacts with a positive partner, or an even more absurd 250,000 sexual contacts with random Americans to acquire HIV by sexual transmission. It follows that probably all of the healthy adolescent HIV carriers were perinatally infected, as for example the 22-year-old Kimberly Bergalis (Section 3.5.16).

Of course, as many of you can already see, just because HIV transmission may result from, on average, 1000 contacts, it doesn’t follow that one would need 250,000 random sexual contacts to contract the virus. Mark explains:

If the odds of, say, winning the lottery are 1 in 1 million, that does not mean that if I won the lottery, that means I must have played it one million times. Nor does it mean that the average lottery winner played the lottery one million times. It means that out of every one million times anyone plays the lottery, one person will be expected to win.

To jump that back to Duesberg, what he’s saying is: if the transmission rate of HIV/AIDS is 1 in 1000, then the average infected person would need to have had sex with an infected partner 1000 times.

Nope, that’s not how math works. Not even close.

Suppose we have 1000 people who are infected with HIV, and who are having unprotected sex. If we follow Duesberg’s lead, and assume that the transmission rate is a constant 0.1%, then what we would expect is that if each of those 1000 people had sex with one partner one time, we would see one new infected individual – and that individual would have had unprotected sex with the infected partner only one time.

This isn’t rocket science folks. This is damned simple, high-school level statistics.

Mark picks apart some of the other people defending Duesberg, so it’s definitely worth the read to look at the rest of the post. Meanwhile, back here at Aetiology, Chris Noble asks:

Why doesn’t Rebecca Culshaw comment? Why can’t she admit that Duesberg makes serious mathematical error?

None of the “rethinkers” have really admitted to the mathematical mistake inherent in the Duesberg Fallacy. Most of them still insist that in some way Duesberg is still correct. The few that have sufficient mathematical training choose not to comment on this issue. They neither admit to the error nor attempt to refute anything that I stated.

The likely outcome is that in a few months or a few years a new batch of “rethinkers” will read Duesberg’s articles and be convinced by the Duesberg Fallacy.

Likewise with creationists; the arguments keep popping back up like a bad game of whack-a-mole.

1. #1 somnilista, FCD
September 4, 2006

The few that have sufficient mathematical training choose not to comment on this issue. They neither admit to the error nor attempt to refute anything that I stated.

Yup, I see that all the time with Creationists. It becomes clear that they are not evaluationg the evidence to find the best answer; they already have their answer and so acknowledge only evidence that (they perceive) supports that answer.

2. #2 End Times
September 4, 2006

Well, yes… and no.

What you say in faulting Duesberg’s explanation is absolutely correct and he would be dead wrong framing his argument that way.

But if you accept that it would take 1 in 1,000 sexual encounters with an HIV+ person in order to pass on HIV, while any ONE CASE would indeed only need come from ONE single sexual encounter, it would be mathematically improbable to have a wide-spread epidemic.

This isn’t rocket science either. You would need a thousand million incidents of HIV- persons having unprotected sex with HIV+ partners in order to have just a million new cases of HIV. Now think of the “35 million African AIDS cases” and see if the math works for sexual transmission at the root of the plague.

Also, I believe without mentioning Duesberg by name, Culshaw has criticized some of the rethinkers about their use of stats. I could be wrong. I’ll see if I can find the quotes.

3. #3 Tara C. Smith
September 4, 2006

Culshaw’s criticized Hank Barnes’ use of the Padian paper to “disprove” sexual transmission. I’ve never seen her speak against Duesberg on anything.

Additionally, the 1 in 1000 stat hasn’t been found in all studies. Others have found it to be much higher in Africa, as much as 1 in 80 encounters. Additionally, I’ve mentioned before that it can increase due to other factors as well, such as co-infection with herpes virus, which increases the odds by as much as a factor of 5.

4. #4 End Times
September 4, 2006

Well I WAS going to add that YOU may well disagree with the number “1 in 1,000” and that’s a whole different breed of ape. But the gist of your post was that the math was wrong BASED ON that. If you want to start claiming at the actual math in Africa is actually about 1 in 15 when you factor in herpes, then we have a whole different argument that would probably start with some pretty strong challeges to those numbers, but nonetheless is, again, a wholey different subject.

A world-wide epidemic based on 1 in 1000 is astronomically improbable. I thought those were the numbers we were arguing this point on.

Further, whether she criticizes Barnes (and I believe she actually DID NOT criticize him, but “others”) or someone else is kind of irrelevant. Does she need to announce, by name, everyone who is of some authority who has used statics on AIDS wrongly, or is it just good enough that she has stated that it’s bad math?

5. #5 End Times
September 4, 2006

Just out of curiousity (because I really don’t know the answer) – when the world has had flu pandemics, have there been authenticated populations that suffered 12X the expected cases of others? For instance, were Chinese 12X more likely to have contracted The Spanish Flu and the Germans in 1918? Or anything even close to those kinds of population differences? Ever?

6. #6 pat
September 4, 2006

Yes, here we have people trying to state the obvious about statistics. Of course THE INDIVIDUAL him/herself doesn’t need 1000 acts of unprotected sex to get the virus(retrovirus). Some will catch it on the first go and others wont. Some will have sex 100’000 times before they catch anything and that is what I read into Duesberg. He is clearly talking about AVERAGES. He merely forgets to put the word in the sentence. Had he done so no one would be having this conversation.
And again the Africans get no civilised credit whatsoever. It must be their HUGE schlongs. What math was used to come to this Tara? “Others have found it to be much higher in Africa, as much as 1 in 80 encounters”.
What math was used here and how would they know for sure? How can you back it? By faith? Co-infection with the Herpes virus doesn’t alone mean you’re at higher risk. You need to be one of the unfortunate few(10%) that get the LEASIONS for it to be a “co-factor”. THINGS LIKE THIS NEED TO BE POINTED OUT OTHERWISE YOU ARE MISLEADING. It is a bit like saying HPV causes cancer which is utter non-sense. The truth is HPV “MAY” cause cancer but not necessarily.

PS: When you can’t convince them, you compare them! Ah, the intelligence!

September 4, 2006

Phil Johnson is apparently beyond error as well.

So why don’t AIDS ‘rethinkers’ tear each other apart for the mutually inconsistent ‘thoughts’ they have about HIV and AIDS? Some don’t think HIV exists. Others don’t think tests correctly identify HIV. Still others think the tests are OK but that HIV has no role in AIDS. Much like the disturbing lack of agreement without argument found in in ID/Creationism, there seems to be very little coalescence on many crucial and relatively simple questions about HIV. Real HIV researchers bicker about details of studies all the time.

8. #8 pat
September 4, 2006

“So why don’t AIDS ‘rethinkers’ tear each other apart for the mutually inconsistent ‘thoughts’ they have about HIV and AIDS?”

Maybe they have a better upbringing

9. #9 End Times
September 4, 2006

Do you want them to “bicker” or “tear each other apart”. I’ve seen bickering among them. I’ve seen it right here at Aetiology. Not that I’m saying it makes them right.

But I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents about statistics.

10. #10 Tara C. Smith
September 4, 2006

A world-wide epidemic based on 1 in 1000 is astronomically improbable. I thought those were the numbers we were arguing this point on.

I’m not arguing the actual numbers at all. It doesn’t matter what the actual figure is, whether it’s 1 in 15 or 1 in 1000. What matters is the way Duesberg applies that: that you’d have to actually go *through* 15 parters, or 1000 partners, in order to become infected. That is the problem with it.

Does she need to announce, by name, everyone who is of some authority who has used statics on AIDS wrongly, or is it just good enough that she has stated that it’s bad math?

Since much of AIDS denial is based on variations of this kind of bad math and certainly the papers of Peter Duesberg, I think it would be important for those mathematicians in the group to say that more openly, yes.

Just out of curiousity (because I really don’t know the answer) – when the world has had flu pandemics, have there been authenticated populations that suffered 12X the expected cases of others? For instance, were Chinese 12X more likely to have contracted The Spanish Flu and the Germans in 1918? Or anything even close to those kinds of population differences? Ever?

I don’t know about infection rates, as those are much more difficult to measure, but certainly mortality rates were strikingly different among populations. For example, overall mortality from the Spanish flu has been estimated at around 2.5% for those infected, but in some areas, mortality reached 90% of the population (for example, this village in Alaska). So certainly, there have been major differences observed in populations, and this holds for many infectious agents.

11. #11 Steve Reuland
September 4, 2006

Of course, this is illogical for a number of reasons; most notably because, while that particular outcome may have been unlikely, *some* outcome had a high probablility of occurring. Paulos gives the example of dealing a particular hand from a deck of cards. The odds of getting a particular sequence of cards defined a priori are incredibly small, but the odds of being dealt *some* hand, obviously, is high.

That’s not the real problem. The real problem is that by multiplying probabilities, you ignore selection. If selection is operating at each step, and if it drives the population to fixation, then the probability of selecting an individual with all of the previous mutations is 1. So you don’t multiply the probabilities.

I’m a little disappointed that Paulos didn’t catch this.

12. #12 Tara C. Smith
September 4, 2006

Well, he didn’t really delve into the biology of it at all. He didn’t really even get into much of the statistics. Bring up words like “selection” and “fixation” and you automatically lose a good portion of the audience you’re trying to hit.

13. #13 pat
September 4, 2006

“Bring up words like “selection” and “fixation” and you automatically lose a good portion of the audience you’re trying to hit.”

Bring up “creationism” and the same happens Tara!

14. #14 Dave Cerutti
September 4, 2006

Ah, the common threads of anti-intellectualism. I highlighted a number of common threads between Palestinian advocates and Intelligent Design supporters here:

http://www.ucsdguardian.org/cgi-bin/opinion?art=2006_05_25_03

The Palestinian advocates don a veil of moderacy and open-mindedness, then proceed to relentlessly accuse the other side of tyranny. They alternate between grandiose philosophical notions and incremental distortions of fact. They play the victim and hold on to victim status even after generous offers to assist them out of their “plight.” And then they ask for equality, which of course is just a ploy to get everything they want.

Sound familiar?

15. #15 pat
September 4, 2006

Dave,
You are guilty of a gross generalization. When you write “the palestinians” surely you meant SOME palestinians just like there are SOME Israelis guilty of war crimes and harboring genocidal plans for THE palestinians….SOME! SOME= NOT ALL (and probably few)
Tara, when will you see the stupidity of this kind of conversation where any Tom Dick and Harry comes along and makes stupid “arguments by comparison”. I have never seen such a stupid attempt before the way our Dave does. Palestinians and creationists? PATHETIC!

16. #16 Steve Reuland
September 4, 2006

The problem is, Tara, you don’t know what’s truly wrong with the math unless you understand what “evolution” actually means. It doesn’t mean you get one shot to have several specific mutations appear all at once. That may happen some of the time, but most of the time we expect that specific sequences arose in a step-wise manner, with selection operating at all (or at least most) steps. Creationist math ignores this entirely, which makes their numbers meaningless.

It is exactly for this reason that Dawkins made his WEASEL program. Although it’s not an accurate depiction of natural evolution, it nicely illustrates the massive difference between cumulative selection and a random search.

17. #17 Kim Boone
September 4, 2006

Hi,
I’ve just struggled through the comments on “whack a mole”, and I find it amazing that you and other commenters showed so much patience towards a certain commenter who shall go unnamed (I doubt anyone would like to read the name again and be reminded of his indecent proposals)
Wow, I mean, do you pay your trolls?
Anyhow, I like your blog very much, there’s a lot of great info here, and I’m fascinated by those lil’ disease-causing critters. I really learned a lot since I started reading Aetiology about 4 months ago.
Keep it up.
Kim

18. #18 End Times
September 4, 2006

“I’m not arguing the actual numbers at all. It doesn’t matter what the actual figure is, whether it’s 1 in 15 or 1 in 1000. What matters is the way Duesberg applies that: that you’d have to actually go *through* 15 parters, or 1000 partners, in order to become infected.”

Well that takes us back to the beginning. Yes. You are absolutely right if the only point you want to make is that Duesberg’s math was wrong.

But I was making an entirely different point – that 1 in 15 or 1 in 1000 makes a huge difference in whether the virus could account for a pandemic. Huge.

Steve’s well-taken insights about stats and evolution don’t apply to this. If it was 1 in thousand 20 years ago and is 1 in 1000 today, it has little chance of creating a pandemic. I can say this with confidence, even while fully accepting that anyone could have unprotected sex one time and contract HIV.

19. #19 Chris Noble
September 4, 2006

Steve Reuland writes:

The problem is, Tara, you don’t know what’s truly wrong with the math unless you understand what “evolution” actually means.

I think the point here is that even if we accept the strawman version of evolution that creationists use the maths is still just plain wrong. It all boils down to a simple mathematical fallacy that stems from asking the wrong question.

HIV “rethinkers” and Creationsists ask what is the probability of a given specified person winning the lottery.

The correct question is to ask what is the probability that someone will win the lottery.

Of course the Creationists also fail to accurately describe evolution in their pseudomathematical analyses. Duesberg also makes completely false assumptions. He assumes that all of the HIV+ 17-19 year old military recruits acquired HIV through heterosexual contacts. This is unlikely to be true. Other acts have much higher risks and would be likely to account for a large proportion of seroconversions. Duesberg also assumes that HIV prevalence is randomly distributed through the entire population. It isn’t. It is largely confined to specific risk groups such as men who have sex with men and injecting drug users. Teenagers that also belong to these risk groups are a) going to experience higher risks per contact and b) see a much higher prevalence of HIV than the ~1/250 national average.

Of course “rethinkers” will debate these issues but the totally damning thing in this case is that the maths in itself is totally and utterly wrong. There is no weasel room for “rethinkers”.

20. #20 DeanOr
September 4, 2006

As Chris Noble points out, in the real world, people do not have sex with random samples of the general population. Truck drivers in Africa with untreated STDs who regularly have unprotected sex with truck-stop prostitutes, and a men who very frequently have unprotected receptive anal sex with numerous men in bath-houses, are at very high risk of infection. HIV infection does not spread randomly through the general population but is correlated with a number of other factors, such as those in my examples. Furthermore, as more people become infected the probability of transmission increases exponentially, and as more people receive treatment and live longer the more chance they have of spreading infection.

21. #21 Seth Manapio
September 4, 2006

“But I was making an entirely different point – that 1 in 15 or 1 in 1000 makes a huge difference in whether the virus could account for a pandemic. Huge.”

———-

Really? Here’s some assumptions: 1 in 250 americans has HIV. 1 million people. If 1 in 10 of them has unprotected sex on a given day, that is 100,000 people. So, 100 people would get HIV every day, based on a 1/1000 infection rate. In 1000 days, you have 100,000 new cases, which is a lot. Is this end of the world stuff? No. A serious health problem? A good sized city getting a mortal disease every 3 years? Yeah.

September 4, 2006

What’s so absurd about 250,000 sexual encounters with random Americans??

23. #23 End Times
September 4, 2006

Seth said: “Is this end of the world stuff? No. A serious health problem? A good sized city getting a mortal disease every 3 years? Yeah.”

Actually, that’s a small city. Fresno, CA is double that. But I Never meant to imply that a lot of people getting a mortal disease wasn’t a serious health problem.

But a “pandemic”? No. Even with those assumptions, giving you the complete benefit of the doubt…
35 million African AIDS cases… hmmmmmm. I’ll leave the facts about HIV causing AIDS to those who know the science. Just don’t try to sell me on the fact that what’s happening is primarily due to sexual transmission. Duesberg was COMPLETELY WRONG in his use of the statistics as Tara says. But the statistics STILL show that there is no AIDS pandemic caused primarily through sexual transmission.

24. #24 grasshopper
September 4, 2006

37% of scientist know that 82% of all statistics are suspect.

25. #25 Chris Noble
September 5, 2006

I just had an amusing thought.

Perinatal transmission is 25-50% efficient. If as Duesberg claims the 17-19 year old military recruits all acquired HIV perinatally then they must have on average been born 2 to 4 times according to his “logic”.

26. #26 Tara C. Smith
September 5, 2006

Just don’t try to sell me on the fact that what’s happening is primarily due to sexual transmission.

Well, that’s a rather separate topic. In fact, we know it’s not primarily sexually transmitted in some areas of the world. The maps here, for instance, emphasize that the epidemic in China and Russia is due largely to IV drug use, while in India and Africa it’s largely sexually transmitted. It’s difficult to make any generalizations about the epidemiology from one place to another.

27. #27 Seth Manapio
September 5, 2006

“But a “pandemic”? No. Even with those assumptions, giving you the complete benefit of the doubt…”

————

Isn’t a “pandemic” just an outbreak of a disease that is new, infectious and capable of spreading sustainably throughout the population? If so, HIV/AIDS seems to qualify, even at 1/1000 transmission rates with infected people having one sexual encounter every 10 days… an absurdly low number, considering that 1/3 of americans have sex twice a week or more and we would expect a disproportianately high number of HIV positive people to fall within this group.

But yes, I would agree that if you see transmission rates far higher than expected from sexual transmission, it is probable that either there are other vectors at work or else there is a novel variant of the pathogen that is more easily transmitted. Is this a controversial point?

28. #28 End Times
September 5, 2006

In the early 1980’s, while AIDS was exploding in gay populations throughout America, a co-existing and sexually intermingling population of straight Americans were doing all of the exact same sexual practices, largely unprotected, without any exponential explosion into their populations, which would have been absolutely necessary if HIV were a primarily sexually transmitted virus.

There is absolutely nothing that gay men were doing differently than straights with the single exception that their acts were with partners of the same sex.

Duesberg’s claim of “poppers” and other drugs being the “single source” is similiarly destroyed as, again, these behaviors were not limited to the gay population. In fact, in terms of sheer numbers, there were a great many MORE straights engaging in these unsafe practices without any “epidemic” of AIDS in the general population.

IF HIV is passed, genome to genome, then the relatively stable number of nationwide cases of HIV infection would be explanable based on a 25-50% rate with an average of about 3 births per mother (a little higher than the national average. About what you might expect in poorer families).

Just a thought for discussion.

29. #29 Tara C. Smith
September 5, 2006

In the early 1980’s, while AIDS was exploding in gay populations throughout America, a co-existing and sexually intermingling population of straight Americans were doing all of the exact same sexual practices, largely unprotected, without any exponential explosion into their populations, which would have been absolutely necessary if HIV were a primarily sexually transmitted virus.

Not at all. Big difference: fewer homosexuals in the population, higher percentage infected with HIV, therefore we’d expect much more rapid spread.

There is absolutely nothing that gay men were doing differently than straights with the single exception that their acts were with partners of the same sex.

…and more of them were infected with HIV. You’re right; the sex act itself doesn’t matter, it’s having sex with an HIV+ partner that matters. Those partners were much more frequently encountered in the homosexual population in the US, hence more rapid spread.

As far as the mother to child transmission, I’ll let Chris handle that one, as he can probably explain it in his sleep.

30. #30 Steve Reuland
September 5, 2006

Chris Noble writes:

I think the point here is that even if we accept the strawman version of evolution that creationists use the maths is still just plain wrong.

I agree, but the problem is that Paulos didn’t mention that the creationists are attacking a strawman of evolution to begin with. It’s not even clear to me that he realizes this.

In fact, I’d go further and say that they’re not erecting a “strawman” version of evolution, they’re just ignoring the concept altogether. Most of us would agree that it’s improbable for a specified sequence of any significant length to occur via randomly picking monomers. But no one has ever hypothesized that this is what happens. We think that they came about via smaller iterative steps, each of which has a relatively high probability. So when creationists talk about it being widly improbable for a new species to appear, they’re literally thinking about a bunch of atoms randomly arranging themselves, not about evolution as commonly understood. Therein lies the real problem with creationist math — it fails to address the problem that actually exists.

31. #31 Chris Noble
September 5, 2006

IF HIV is passed, genome to genome, then the relatively stable number of nationwide cases of HIV infection would be explanable based on a 25-50% rate with an average of about 3 births per mother (a little higher than the national average. About what you might expect in poorer families).

No, you need somewhere on average of around 3 daughters per mother all of whom live long enough to have children.

Men don’t give birth.

At 3 daughters per mother the population would triple every generation!

32. #32 Dave Cerutti
September 5, 2006

Pat,

If you look at what I wrote it concerned Palestinian advocates, of the sort that routinely picket university campuses spreading the appalling rhetoric that Israel IS (not harboring anyone who might wish to, but IS) commiting genocide against Palestinians. This is not true by any stretch.

Israel is home to a population stuck in the old tribal mentality which might seek genocide against Palestinians, or their forcible displacement. However, today West Bank settlers are still a minority and the Israeli government / military does its best to keep them under control.

Now, if there were a group calling for Palestinian statehood alongside Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, recognizing Israel’s legitimacy and seeking peaceful relations between the two states, then this would be a different sort of pro-Palestinian advocacy than I have encountered. It would be like finding intelligent design advocates who actually proposed valid tests of this notion of irreducible complexity and were truly willing to follow the evidence where it might lead. You seldom get such modesty from either group, however. Until then, the parallels between each sales pitch hold.

Please provide your full name and a valid email or I will not continue this discussion.

Dave

33. #33 Chris Noble
September 5, 2006

In the early 1980’s, while AIDS was exploding in gay populations throughout America, a co-existing and sexually intermingling population of straight Americans were doing all of the exact same sexual practices, largely unprotected, without any exponential explosion into their populations, which would have been absolutely necessary if HIV were a primarily sexually transmitted virus.

This is not true. Particularly in the 1980s homosexual men were having on average more partners and more sexual contacts of which a much higher proportion were high risk activities compared to heterosexuals. There is a quantitative difference.

These factors, number of partners, number of sex acts, relative risk of sex act determine to a large degree the basic reproduction number ie. the number of people on average that one HIV+ will infect. If the reproduction number is greater than 1 then the prevalence will increase in that sub-population. If it is less than 1 then the prevalence will decrease in that sub-population.

It is quite possible for the basic reproduction number for HIV in the homosexual sub-population to be much greater than 1 and for it to be less than 1 in the general heterosexual population in the US.

From cohorts such as the SF City Clinic we have early records showing a sudden rise in HIV prevalence amongst this subpopulation in the late 70s early 80s. The blood samples for the time before 1984 when HIV was identified were kept as a part of a project addressing extremely high rates of hepatitis B in this sub-population. The exact same factors that lead to an epidemic of hepatitis B lead to an epidemic of HIV in this sub-population.

In 2004 the male-to-female ratio for syphilis infections in the US was 5.9. CDC syphilis stats In 1996 the ratio was 1.2. So it is definitely possible to have epidemics in sub-populations that do not effect the general population.

The male-to-female ratio for HIV infection (and AIDS) has also been steadily decreasing over time since 1984.

A large proportion of Duesberg’s arguments come down to how Duesberg thinks a sexually transmitted virus should behave rather than observing how they really behave.

34. #34 pat
September 5, 2006

“If you look at what I wrote it concerned Palestinian advocates, of the sort that routinely picket university campuses spreading the appalling rhetoric that…”

I know AIDS activists like that and I’m sorry but I remain: if you need to resort to argument by “comparison” you loose the important chunk of your audience. Only the morons won’t understand the difference. You want to talk about creationism then talk about IT; you want to talk about AIDS, then talk about IT. You want to talk about the Palestinians, then forget the activists and talk about the Palestinians. Otherwise you make it sound like the Palestinians are wrong because of who chooses to represent them. Then again this site takes cruel and self-deluding pleasure in “profiling” people. Join the police. I found it interesting how the “palestinian advocate” popped up with you. Why the Palestinian advocate? What seperates him/her from any other?

“Please provide your full name and a valid email or I will not continue this discussion”

Never heard anyone need that before. Was it because I called the comparison pathetic?

Patrick Moore

PS : about my e-mail: if you show me yours, I’ll show you mine. Or you can simply ask Tara why you can’t see my e-mail

35. #35 Chris Noble
September 5, 2006

In fact, I’d go further and say that they’re not erecting a “strawman” version of evolution, they’re just ignoring the concept altogether.

Fred Hoyle is another good example of a extremely good scientist who made spectacularly bad arguments. He thought that it was impossible for HIV to have evolved by chance on Earth and that it must have come from space.

His tornado-in-a-junkyard argument is bound to live on in Creationist circles despite being its complete misrepresentation of the processes involve in evolution. It is a simplistic argument that appeals to people that are desperate for justifications for their beliefs.

Most of these tornado-in-a-junkyard arguments also commit the lottery fallacy because they calculate the propbability of a given specified amino acid sequence spontaneously appearing by chance. In reality a large proportion of the amino acids in an enzyme can vary with no loss of activity. The number of possible amino acid sequences that could catalyse a given substrate is huge.

36. #36 Chris Noble
September 5, 2006

pat writes:

Yes, here we have people trying to state the obvious about statistics. Of course THE INDIVIDUAL him/herself doesn’t need 1000 acts of unprotected sex to get the virus(retrovirus). Some will catch it on the first go and others wont. Some will have sex 100’000 times before they catch anything and that is what I read into Duesberg. He is clearly talking about AVERAGES. He merely forgets to put the word in the sentence. Had he done so no one would be having this conversation.

Had Duesberg put the word average in his argument then it would still be false.

You have had this explained to you several times in great detail.

If we apply exactly the same “logic” to perinatal transmission then we are forced to accept that on average baies that acquire HIV perinatally are born between 2 and 4 times. Some babies are born once some are born 10 times but the average is between 2 and 4.

The whole dialog illustrates very well how some people cling to indefensible beliefs despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The idea that Duesberg must be correct because this got published in a peer-reviewed journal is another logical fallacy. It is also completely hypocritical when “rethinkers” have no qualms about rejecting the vast majority of peer-reviewed literature.

37. #37 Chris Noble
September 5, 2006

I should also mention that I was initially excited that Bialy was apparently making a testable prediction of his theory and I proposed a simple test.

http://www.newaidsreview.org/posts/1155530746.shtml#1483

This resulted in Bialy writing this

http://www.reviewingaids.com/awiki/index.php/Image:Momispositivetoo.jpg

It should be apparent that what Bialy proposes is not a test of his hypothesis. It is apparently an empowerment tool.

It is also rather ironic that the link that Bialy gives for this claim:

Retroviruses (of which HIV is a classic example) are normally transmitted in the wild through perinatal routes (that is from mother to child), making them endemic rather than epidemic microbes

contains this sentence:

Since the virus is not endemic in the U.S., it is transmitted more often by parenteral exposures associated with risk behavior (see below) than perinatally.

38. #38 James
September 5, 2006

Dave

Stop conflating ID and the middle east problem – it’s not helpful to either debate.

However, let me respond to this comment of yours: “Now, if there were a group calling for Palestinian statehood alongside Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, recognizing Israel’s legitimacy and seeking peaceful relations between the two states …”

There is such a group:- the Arab nations. In 2002 they joined with Saudi Arabia and made the following offer to Israel: “Withdraw to the 67 borders, allow the PA to become a nation in the West Bank and Gaza and we will give you full recognition with full peaceful and normal relations” ie. just what Israel alleges it wants, offered by what you’ve claimed doesn’t exist. And it’s not just some bunch of guys either – it’s a group of soveriegn nations with the ability to deliver on the offer (or withhold as the case may be).

Answer from Israel? “Not good enough”.

And just this morning a report in the paper that the Israeli government is calling a new tender for building settler homes in …. the West Bank.

Want to know what someone thinks as opposed to what they say – look where they put their money.

Just something for you to think about.

September 5, 2006

I wrote: “So why don’t AIDS ‘rethinkers’ tear each other apart for the mutually inconsistent ‘thoughts’ they have about HIV and AIDS?”

pat: Maybe they have a better upbringing

Hmm… They don’t seem to hold their ire against the vast majority of the scientific community doing research on AIDS & HIV, so that’s not it. Maybe the ‘rethinking’ is mostly limited to finding fault with any connection between HIV and AIDS instead of trying to produce workable, robust alternatives.

End Times: “Do you want them to “bicker” or “tear each other apart”.

Yes. They hold mutually incompatible ideas that absolutely require sifting and clarification if they want to get to the scientific root of the problem. Much like the IDers whose notions cover everything from young-earth creationism and individual creation of individual species to old-earth & God stepping in from time to time to moderate the direction of evolution, they don’t seem to be in too much of a hurry to figure out what is and isn’t actually known. The high signal-to-noise ratio is rather difficult to overlook. The low level of dissent among dissenters where there clearly are incompatible views is not the sign of a healthy or robust scientific area.

40. #40 Dave Cerutti
September 5, 2006

Pat,

My purpose was to compare the Palestinian advocates to Intelligent Design proponents, not to talk about the Palestinians in general. You seem to allege that I wish to talk specifically about the Palestinians, but this is not the case. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to talk about who represents the Palestinians, just as it’s perfectly reasonable to talk about who represents Intelligent Design without mentioning how Intelligent Design researchers feel. In both cases, you’ll find that a massive PR campaign is really all there is–there’s really no honest drive for scientific inquiry or democracy underneath.

Very well, we need not provide emails. I see that mine is actually not being displayed, so I won’t ask that of you either.

James,

I think it is helpful to note how cognitive dissonance and sympathy for “the underdog,” in absence of a true appreciation of the problem, make one vulnerable to equivocation ploys. Why is it that so much of the American public believes this nonsense that Intelligent Design and evolution are two competing theories, each with their strengths and weaknesses? It’s got to be, in part, because we as a culture prefer to think we’re giving all a fair hearing.

As for the Arab nations’ 2002 offer, that followed closely on the heels of two intifadas which themselves were merely periods of intensified violence (there are daily incidents that don’t make the news). The massive string of suicide bombings in late 2001 / early 2002, coupled with the onset of rocket attacks from Gaza, followed closely on the heels of similar Israeli offer for Palestinian statehood. Late last year, Israel began its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the dismantlement of some West Bank settlements. The rocket attacks never ceased, it’s taken a security fence to make Israelis in discos and cafes more secure, and rather than attempt to rein in their militants the Palestinian leadership shifted further towards radical Islamists and pricked the situation by kidnapping an Israeli soldier.

I agree with you if you think that, on the whole, the settlements have been a bad policy. But if there’s a renewed push for settlements, I approve of them creating strategic territorial depth around Tel Aviv. The flip side of the settlements issue is that, for more than a generation, the Palestinian militants (as well as the Palestinian people) have learned that they can wage war against Israel with nothing to lose–the offers of land (for peace) hardly diminish. At least American creationists seem to have learned that they can lose ground by trying to meddle with science education.

Look at it this way: just as “scientists” and “evolution” are seen by large swaths of our population as the purveyors of “materialism” and all manner of immorality in our society, Jews are seen by large segments of the muslim world as the purveyors of evil and greed. Scientists and academics in America, like Jews in the Muslim world, are somewhat wealthier and better educated demographics than the average American / Arab, but demonized as the source of all the problems. The fundamental reasons are different, but the ways in which each group gets scapegoated are very similar, and the underlying reason that the scapegoating works is deep-rooted indoctrination, beginning in childhood and coupled to religious beliefs.

If you compare the two cases, it helps you to see the enormity of either problem.

41. #41 Michael
September 5, 2006

Unsympathetic.

You believe there is a low level of dissent among dissenters. I would have to disagree. There are many points that the rethinkers disagree on. The debates between Duesberg and the Perth Group had raged for years, and are pretty much at a stalemate in most rethinkers minds. This was a debate over whether actual HIV was found by the tests, or cellular debris, and several other issues.

There are many points the rethinker community debates, although there are basic tenets and beliefs that fairly all agree with. For most of us, it is backed up by our personal experiences or backed up by our intimate involvement in the affected communities. Some of the overwhelmingly agreed upon points are as follows:

The HIV tests are terrible and inconclusive and prone to extremely high innacuracy as there is no “gold standard” to set them by.

HIV is not the “cause” of immune deficiency and not even necessarily a symptom of it.

The African AIDS situation is completely different than American AIDS, and neither has HIV at the core of the issues or as a cause of the immune system failures involved.

The psychological factors were ignored and are of major health importance, as stress, fear, and negative belief in impending death takes a serious toll on immune function.

More than 300,000 gay men were unwittingly poisoned to death by AZT.

The HIV drugs do more harm than good.

Immune dysfunction is not due to HIV but due to many other causes.

The above is held to be true rather universally by those involved in rethinking AIDS, especially, as more than 250,000, according to the CDC itself, do not take any antivirals or medications for their HIV status, and they remain healthy, and a lot of them for more than 20 years!

It has always been amazing to me, of how many people involved in rethinking, reached many of these conclusions on their own, prior to ever having been involved or knowledgable of the rethinkers positions, such as Duesberg or Perth. For instance, I myself had very early on in the mid 1980’s reached the conclusion that HIV was not the source of the problems. My experience with my own HIV positive lover, and many of my friends, confirmed my beliefs, As time went on, I met many other people who surmised the same, that all was not well with HIV=AIDS. I had never even read a word on the rethinker side until just a few years ago.

I had noticed in earlier threads, quite a bit of criticism of who was signed up on the rethinkers petitions, with many of the voices criticising the signers as being composed of a lot of way out there looney tune fanatics. Although there are many respected doctors and scientists who signed and vocalize their beliefs on the issues, the majority of those who signed up, did so because of personal experience with either themselves being diagnosed as HIV positive, or due to the personal experiences with loved ones and close friends whom were observed in how they dealth with the issue.

There was also criticism leveled at who many of these people were or what they do for a living, while no consideration at all is given to the fact that it is the “outside of the box” thinkers that did NOT get caught up in following the crowd to the AZT poisoning or ARV liver failure routes, nor did they scare themselves to death over it.

You know-it-all guys and girls can criticise our science and our scientists, and you can criticise those of us who survived HIV or AIDS or whose lovers survived it by becoming rethinkers, (or “denialists” as many of you like to call us), all you want, and you can tell us how off track and nuts you think we all are, but you know what? We are still here, while hundreds of thousands of others who went along with the establishment take on it are now disfigured by the meds, or often suffering intense side effects, or gone!

42. #42 Seth Manapio
September 5, 2006

“There is absolutely nothing that gay men were doing differently than straights with the single exception that their acts were with partners of the same sex.”

—————-

If it is true that HIV does not transmit well from women to men through vaginal intercourse, wouldn’t we expect a different rate of transmission in the different sub-populations? After all, if a straight woman becomes infected, than in a sexual transmission sense, it would slow down there, but if a gay male becomes infected, this would not be the case at all.

43. #43 End Times
September 5, 2006

Seth, in regards to your last – good point. The only consideration to include is that for many guy men, there is a “preferential position” which would, in those cases at least, make it similar to the male/female scenario.
Chris, you are absolutely right about – “Particularly in the 1980s homosexual men were having on average more partners and more sexual contacts of which a much higher proportion were high risk activities compared to heterosexuals. There is a quantitative difference.”
However, there was a subset of the general population that was much greater in sheer numbers than the gay population that engaged in those EXACT SAME practices, sexually intermingled with the gay population, and yet had no similar explosion (which we can safely assume would later have made a strong move into the greater straight population – this point is arguable and I don’t want to make much of it). All I’m saying is that there was not some impenetrable divide among these populations and yet only the gay population (and, I guess, the “transfusion” population) that had a devastating plague. And this is all during a time when a large chunk of the population was having unprotected sex. We should have seen some significant move into some portion of that population, out of the gay sector, and to this day it just doesn’t exist. Now, “to this day” doesn’t mean all that much because so much has changed (most people practicing safe sex to various degrees, for instance) but certainly in the early days, even after HIV was identified, there should already have been a surge of AIDS that the statistics just do not show.

All I’m asking for is that you do what you expect of the rethinkers and approach the problem with a continuing open mind. And I only question the mode of transmission of HIV as being primarily sex. An open minded study of all the statistics would indicate it is not.

44. #44 SLC
September 5, 2006

1. Maybe I’m behind the times here but it was my understanding that anal intercourse was much more likely to result in HIV transmission then the usual male/female intercourse. END TIMES makes the absolutely ridiculous statement that there is no difference in sexual practice between gay and straight men, except for the sex of their partners. I don’t know how he arrived at this conclusion; I suspect very few straight men engage in anal intercourse with their partners!

2. The case of Peter Deusberg is really a sad case. Here is a man who back in the 1960s was considered a candidate for a Nobel prize in Medicine for his work on retroviruses and who has now turned into a whackjob. He joins Linus Pauling, Brian Josephson, William Shockley, and J. Allen Hynek, other distinguished scientists with long records of scientific accomplishment who turned into whackjobs (the first three are Nobel Prize winners).

45. #45 Seth Manapio
September 5, 2006

“The only consideration to include is that for many guy men, there is a “preferential position” which would, in those cases at least, make it similar to the male/female scenario.”

————-

But without a fairly detailed study of homosexual practices, especially among men who frequent “bathhouses”, it is difficult to ascertain what the palliative effect of this behavior might be on disease transmission. In heterosexual contact, however, you have a definite, built in stopgap. Even if relatively few gay men are non-preferential, if they are among the most promiscuous, this would have a huge impact on transmission rates.

I guess what I’m saying is that owing to the differences in anatomy between homosexual men and women, your expectation that straight and gay sub-populations would have similar transmission rates is not well supported without corellating evidence that positionally non-preferential gay men are poorly represented among those who frequent bathhouses.

Also, we haven’t even discussed transmission differences between anal and vaginal sex. If there is such a difference, without some evidence that a large subpopulation of straights engaged in habitual anal sex with multiple partners during the time in question, you would be lacking a second pillar to support your hypothesis that the groups are engaging in identical behavior.

I’m not saying that you don’t have that evidence, or that such studies haven’t been done, I’m just saying that I think that both must be true before we expect similar rates of transmission in heterosexual and homosexual populations.

46. #46 SLC
September 5, 2006

1. Although the Palestinian/Israeli problem seems off-topic for this blog, I am not able to let the Israel bashers Pat and James off with their distortions. The fact of the matter is that the Palestinians could have had a Palestinian state in 1948 and in 2000. The Palestinian street is not interested in a Palestinian state which does not include all of Palestine, i.e. they are not interested in a two state solution period. There is no concession that the state of Israel can make to change this dynamic, other then agreeing to go out of business.

2. Note for Professor Smith. If you allow discussions of the Palestinian/Israel issue on this blog, you will get very long threads which will swamp its medical and scientific purpose.

47. #47 End Times
September 5, 2006

SLC said: “Maybe I’m behind the times here but it was my understanding that anal intercourse was much more likely to result in HIV transmission then the usual male/female intercourse….”

I’m not aware of any such evidence. It seems to me that the semen has a pathway (vagina or anus) and if it is aided by any type of cut or sore then the virus should be able to be passed. BUT…

“I suspect very few straight men engage in anal intercourse with their partners!”

Oh, yes. You ARE behind the times! Personally, I know very few males who don’t, at least, desire it.

SETH: I hear everything you are saying, and it makes a good deal of sense on the surface. But the people who would take this view are the same ones assuring me that it is primarily heterosexual sex that has led us to 35 million African AIDS cases. How do you square your reasoning on why it would not have jumped out of the homosexual populations in the late 70’s through late 80’s here in the U.S. (factoring in what I claim about those hetero and homo populations) and a massive heterosexual epidemic in Africa?

48. #48 Laura
September 5, 2006

End Times,
There is a significant difference in transmission risks between anal and vaginal sex regardless of position.

In anal sex there is a much larger risk of tearing as it is not as flexible which facilitates semen to blood transmission. The use of poppers supports this as it relaxes the muscles making anal sex more comfortable also allowing for rougher sex which further increases transmissionn risk.

This is not to say heterosexuals do not practice anal sex but I would imagine its at a much lower number.

49. #49 End Times
September 5, 2006

Laura said: “This is not to say heterosexuals do not practice anal sex but I would imagine its at a much lower number.”

Yeah, I wasn’t making a large issue of which way was more likely to aid in transmission. I only said I didn’t know what the evidence on it was.

I would contend that anal sex is extremely common in heterosexual communities, although you are certainly correct in terms of pct. of couples participating in the act. In terms of total couples, however, it isn’t even close. There are many more heterosexual (than homosexual) couples doing it.

And, again, this brings me back to my last point to Seth. You can’t say how difficult it is to transmit it heterosexually when I challenge the lack of evidence of even a fledgling epidemic here in the U.S. and then claim that there is an African epidemic that is primarily heterosexual. Well, you can. Because you do. But you are grasping at explanatory straws when you do so.

(and I don’t mean “you” personally on this comment, Laura. I have no idea where you stand. Well, I do have an “idea”, but it still wasn’t meant as YOU).

50. #50 Laura
September 5, 2006

End Times,

I admit I do not know how difficult it is to transmit heterosexually. I do know that the fastest growing group infected in the US and Africa is women which suggests it can be transmitted heterosexually. Does this translate to what is happening I can not say for certain.

51. #51 End Times
September 5, 2006

“Does this translate to what is happening I can not say for certain.”

That’s basically all I’m saying. I wish some people, who should know better, act a little more intrigued by the problem instead of so certain that they already have the answer.

52. #52 Chris Noble
September 6, 2006

That’s basically all I’m saying. I wish some people, who should know better, act a little more intrigued by the problem instead of so certain that they already have the answer.

You have failed to demonstrate that there is a problem in the first place. You seem to have some “common sense” notion of how a virus should spread. You have not produced anything like a valid description let alone a mathematical model for your “common sense” notion.

Nobody can produce an answer to a problem that has not been coherently presented.

If you really think that there is a problem then develop a computer model. Put in several thousand people with a representative distribution in sexual orientation, number of sexual partners, number of sexual contacts per month, number of high risk acts per week etc and see how it runs.

53. #53 End Times
September 6, 2006

That’s a great idea, Chris. You should absolutely do that. That’s all I’m asking. Start with the common sense (or whatever else gets your motor running) and then do the science, if you are a scientist. I’m not.

54. #54 Laura
September 6, 2006

Hmmm create a mathmatical model that could be interesting. I may play around with Mathmatica on that one. I know nothing about biological modeling but I can try.

55. #55 Seth Manapio
September 6, 2006

“And, again, this brings me back to my last point to Seth. You can’t say how difficult it is to transmit it heterosexually when I challenge the lack of evidence of even a fledgling epidemic here in the U.S. and then claim that there is an African epidemic that is primarily heterosexual. ”

———-

I think you’re moving goalposts a little here. Let me take your points one at a time.

The first point you made was that given that gay couples and straight couples were engaged in exactly the same high risk behavior in the united states, you did not see a pattern that suggested sexual transmission as a major factor in the spread of AIDS in the United States.

I pointed out that your given is not a given. You lack at least two key pieces of evidence: first, you need to know something about the habits of gay men and straight women, there has to be some kind of analysis of the frequency of unprotected anal sex and number of partners so engaged, second, you need some numbers on the percentage of gay men who never switch position.

Without that information, you cannot make the assumption that the percentage of transmission should be the same in two populations because their behavior may in fact be quite different.

Your SECOND point is that we do NOT see the same pattern in Africa that we do in the United States. You argue that if AIDS is so hard to spread through a heterosexual population, than what we see in Africa is unexpected. But the subpopulation vs. general population epedemiology in the US don’t actually inform you about the general population epedemiology in Africa. And general population epedimiology in the US may not inform you well about what to expect in Africa.

There are many questions you can ask about the two regions. Are the two areas similar culturally, are there similar pressures for gay men to marry women, are married men equally monogamous, are there similar behavior patters with prostitution, is use of condoms the same, the list goes on. If these factors are not the same, than we would not expect to see the same epedemiology there that we do here.

Now, I’m just hypothesizing, but the main point is that there are lots of reasons why a sexually transmitted disease may have non-uniform rates of transmission in different populations. Based on your current argument, I would say your hypothesis is tenouous at best.

56. #56 Chris Noble
September 6, 2006

That’s a great idea, Chris. You should absolutely do that. That’s all I’m asking. Start with the common sense (or whatever else gets your motor running) and then do the science, if you are a scientist. I’m not.

All I am asking is for you to demonstrate there is a problem in the first place.

If you read HIV “rethinker” literature (and evolution “rethinker” literature for that matter) you will find that a lot of arguments fall into this category.

Take this one for instance:

It is now claimed that there are at least two new retroviruses capable of causing AIDS, HIV-1 and HIV-2 (3, 7, 12-14), which differ about 60% in their nucleic acid sequences (148). Both allegedly evolved only 20 to 100 years ago (12). Since viruses, like cells, are the products of gradual evolution, the proposition that, within a very short evolutionary time, two different viruses capable of causing AIDS would have evolved or crossed over from another species is highly improbable (56, 64, 159). It is also improbable that viruses evolved that kill their only natural host with efficiencies of 50-100% as is claimed for the HIVs (7, 33-38).

Evolutionary Arguments Against AIDS Viruses

Note that Duesberg never provides a calculation of the probability of two HIV viruses evolving. He just boldly asserts with an appeal to “common sense” that it is highly improbable.

He has not demonstrated that there is a problem to begin with but apparently everybody else has to prove him wrong.

That isn’t the way that science works.

September 6, 2006

“Personally, I know very few males who don’t, at least, desire it.”

But preferences differ between the four states (male/female, giving/receiving), and you can’t expect a female strap-on to transmit efficiently. š

58. #58 SteveF
September 6, 2006

Meanwhile, various HIV/AIDS experts have called for the resignation of the relevant South African minister:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/5319680.stm

59. #59 End Times
September 6, 2006

Chris said: “That isn’t the way that science works.”

True. And I said I’m not a scientist. You “accused” me of using a common sense argument. I’ll only say that many great scientists started with a common sense, or rational, approach and then did the work to prove what they were led to believe (intellectually) must be the case. And while I certainly didn’t provide a scientific framework for my dissent, I notice that you (who are a scientist and knows this topic fairly well) could have simply rebutted what I was saying by demonstrating the science that has already been done which refutes my logic. Instead, you would rather talk about my logic. Interesting.

I guess this is sort of for you as well, Seth.

Give me the links to science that shows that my doubts have already been resolved. I’ll read them.

(And please, no studies from the 80’s showing a sexual link to HIV) I’m talking about something that makes it clear that an epidemic of 35 million African AIDS cases is primarily caused by heterosexual contact.

I’ll make it easy for you. You don’t even need to reply. There is no such evidence and the reason is that it is SO CERTAIN from those 80’s studies that HIV is sexually transmitted that we don’t need to waste time on repetitive studies now. I know.

60. #60 Dale
September 6, 2006

End Times writes I’ll make it easy for you. You don’t even need to reply. There is no such evidence and the reason is that it is SO CERTAIN from those 80’s studies that HIV is sexually transmitted that we don’t need to waste time on repetitive studies now. I know.

In other words, you aren’t really interested in being directed to the data that demonstrates that HIV is transmitted by heterosexual contact; you merely want an excuse to restate your own prejustices.

61. #61 Robster
September 6, 2006

One hypothesis is that HIV1 and HIV2 have evolved to facilitate different preferential routes of transmission. Also, the practice of “dry sex” provides a societal difference between the populations observed. It also leads to a microenvironment that is more susceptable to viral transmissiion.

62. #62 Seth Manapio
September 6, 2006

“I guess this is sort of for you as well, Seth.”

———–

No, it isn’t. I am not addressing the issue of AIDS in Africa, I am addressing the weaknesses in your argument. Allow me to clarify:

You are simply wrong when you state that gay and straight populations engage in the exact same sexual behavior. The two populations are anatomically incapable of engaging in the exact same behavior because women don’t have a penis and men don’t have a vagina. Any argument built on this premise is built on a false premise, and your argument is built on this premise. You are wrong.

You are simply wrong to expect heterosexual transmission rates to be the same in America as in Africa. The conditions are different, there are many cultural factors that you are ignoring. If you do not undertake even a cursory examination of these factors, you have no grounds for your assumptions.

You do not have a good common sense argument. You have a bad common sense argument, based on unsupported premises that you do not justify with evidence or reason.

Again, I am not stating that the primary means of HIV transmission in Africa is heterosexual contact. I’m stating that you haven’t provided a decent argument for your case that it isn’t.

63. #63 End Times
September 7, 2006

You win, Seth.

By the way, a “bad common-sense argument” would be a bit of an oxymoron. I would have said, “you make a bad argument, devoid of common-sense”.

But you probably disagree.

Take care. I’ll stop in to see if anyone has posted links for me.

64. #64 Chris Noble
September 7, 2006

End Times,
common sense is useful in science but it can be deceptive. Common sense tells us that the Sun circles the Earth. Common sense tells us that an electron must go through one slit or the other. Much of science is counter-intuitive.

Statistics is one field where common sense often leads us astray. The reason why Duesberg’s mathematical error got through was that it appeals to peoples “common sense”.

Creation Science/Intelligent Design proponents frequently use arguments that appeal to peoples intuition but are scientifically flawed. HIV “rethinkers” do the same thing. This explains a large lay audience and a vanishingly small scientific basis.

65. #65 Seth Manapio
September 7, 2006

“By the way, a “bad common-sense argument” would be a bit of an oxymoron. I would have said, “you make a bad argument, devoid of common-sense”.

But you probably disagree.”

——————-

Why would I disagree? Your argument was bad, and it was devoid of common-sense.

I doubt anyone is going to post articles for you. Demanding a particular kind of article from a particular time period just isn’t very polite, and people aren’t going to do research for you if you are rude to them.

66. #66 End Times
September 7, 2006

Seth said: “I doubt anyone is going to post articles for you. Demanding a particular kind of article from a particular time period just isn’t very polite, and people aren’t going to do research for you if you are rude to them.”

It wasn’t meant as a demand, but I fully “get” that you may have taken it that way. How about not speaking for anyone but Seth, though?

Unless, of course, you know that no one can come up with such research and are covering that particular end result of my query by blaming ME.

Chris, I hear you. Common-sense and rationality have their place, but they aren’t the end-all in science.

67. #67 Seth Manapio
September 8, 2006

“Unless, of course, you know that no one can come up with such research and are covering that particular end result of my query by blaming ME.

Chris, I hear you. Common-sense and rationality have their place, but they aren’t the end-all in science.”

————–

You have been referenced to at least one article that you didn’t read, and I’ve found several articles that address this issue in a two minute pub-med search. But rather than do a little research on your own, or read an article, you are accusing people of intellectual dishonesty and putting words in their mouths. I can actually see the conspiracy theory growing in your brain as you imagine that I “know” that such research doesn’t exist, but I’m “covering it up”…

Dude, get real.

What I honestly don’t understand is this: We have seen that your entire “common sense” argument relies on the demonstrably false premise that women have penises. Why are you continuing to use that false premise to predict outcomes? Is this how you believe a rational argument is built, by taking a false premise, adding some unwarranted assumptions, bootstrapping that to a conclusion and using the fact that the real world doesn’t fit your model as evidence that your premises are correct?

68. #68 Eric
September 8, 2006

As Stephen Colbert said in last night’s Report, on the Field’s medal:

“They give out four each year. That’s a one in four chance of me winning, if I got the math right.”

Statistics are dangerous because, using flawed methods and outright error, you can make a number that, on the surface, makes people go “well…yeah!” and be, in essence, totally made up.

69. #69 nohivmeds
September 8, 2006

I wonder if someone could give me an example of a scientist who is BOTH an AIDS Rethinker and a proponent of Intelligent Design. I ask, because I feel quite certain that no one can, as AIDS Rethinkers do tend to be rather like everyone else in regard to every other area of science outside of HIV?AIDS.

70. #70 nohivmeds
September 8, 2006

Another question for the smart folks — why did HIV show up in the gay community when it did? Why not a decade earlier, for instance, when data also shows higher levels of sexual activity and drug use.

71. #71 Tara C. Smith
September 8, 2006

nohivmeds–Jon Wells.

As far as your second question, gotta run to class right now but I can get into that later if no one else jumps on it.

September 8, 2006

Scientist ‘rethinkers’ of HIV and evolution? That’s easy. Giuseppe Sermonti & Jonathan C. Wells immediately come to mind…

And note Phillip E. Johnson, lawyer (definitely not a scientist) and co-author (w/ Kary Mullis and Charles Thomas, Jr.) of an HIV ‘rethinking’ paper for Reason magazine and numerous books predicting the downfall of ‘materialistic Darwianism’ and its ultimate replacement with ‘design science*’

* To Be Announced any day now…

73. #73 Seth Manapio
September 8, 2006

I wonder if someone could give me an example of a scientist who is BOTH an AIDS Rethinker and a proponent of Intelligent Design.

————

Scientist? No. But I can add science fiction author James P. Hogan. Also a holocaust “rethinker.”

The simple way to test this is to check this list and this list and look for common names. Let us know what you find.

74. #74 nohivmeds
September 8, 2006

That’s funny, but I can’t find any statements by Sermonti on HIV. Do you think you could help, and perhaps also for Wells? Otherwise it seems we’re just tossing names around, and that wouldn’t really prove anything, would it?

75. #75 nohivmeds
September 8, 2006

In any case — I think my point is made. Very, very, very few AIDS Rethinkers have any interest in Intelligent Design at all — so to conflate the two is really rather misleading. As for Kary Mullis — only perhaps God can take credit for such a brilliant and mad man. I think Dr. Mullis has a lot of unorthodox views, on much more than just AIDS and evolution — and I think you’d have to agree with that, unless you were completely unfamiliar with his work and his book.

76. #76 nohivmeds
September 8, 2006

And I think there was a lovely recent review published in JAMA showing the high number of statistical errors and misrepresentions in many of the major medical journals. Lots of investigations of scientific misconduct havig exactly to do with manipulation of statistical evidence. How very silly to think this “thread” of poor stats flows only through AIDS rethinkign and I.D., when it is clear to anyone working in any scientific field (as I am) that that bad stat thread runs through every scientific discipline, with perhaps the exception of statistics. That’s the real truth of the matter, friends.

77. #77 nohivmeds
September 8, 2006

Oh, and Tara — what does that Panda site connected to wells have to do with AIDS rethinking? The book is on intelligent design.

78. #78 Michael
September 8, 2006

Unsympathetic.

You have yet to respond to my post directed to you in this thread of September 5th, way above!

79. #79 McKiernan
September 8, 2006

Another question for the smart folks — why did HIV show up in the gay community when it did? Why not a decade earlier, for instance,when data also shows higher levels of sexual activity and drug use.

And the short answer is: you are looking at the data at 25 year hindsight. P. Duesberg did the same thing. His first statements are 1987 not 1981. He may as well have correlated the increase in drug use and sexual activity to the ascending slope of Mt. Everest.

In June 1981, Dr.Michael Gottlieb, a medical doctor at UCLA medical who had a specialty in the immature science of immunology reported early clusters of PCP a NEW phenomena. But he also was the founder of a new area of understanding of T-cell-counting.

As time progressed, the CDC started with a working or reporting definition (not a diagnostic definition) as:

CDC defines a case of AIDS as a disease, at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell-mediated immunity, occurring in a person with no known cause for diminished resistance to that disease.

80. #80 McKiernan
September 8, 2006

The HIV tests are terrible and inconclusive and prone to extremely high innacuracy as there is no “gold standard” to set them by.

Right. And if MOM is positive and you are too that disproves HIV causes AIDS.

Beautiful.

81. #81 Seth Manapio
September 8, 2006

“Otherwise it seems we’re just tossing names around, and that wouldn’t really prove anything, would it?”

“In any case — I think my point is made. Very, very, very few AIDS Rethinkers have any interest in Intelligent Design at all — so to conflate the two is really rather misleading.”

———–

Ah, the joys of meeting a rethinker. First, our charming nohivmeds asserts falsely that he is SURE that there will be NO names. He then gets some names. Then there are “very few”, and his point (that there were none) is somehow made.

Step two in the denialist playbook: move the goalposts.

Step one? Set up a strawman argument. The point of Tara’s post is that there are common methods in the misuse of statistics in two separate groups, which does not imply that there should be overlap in membership. hivmeds just made that up.

Giuseppe Sermonti’s views on AIDS are mentioned in his frickin’ Wikipedia entry, and Well’s is listed as an HIV rethinker on the virusmyth website. It took me about 3 minutes to find this out. So nohivmeds is uwilling to do even minute amounts of research.

82. #82 Tara C. Smith
September 8, 2006

You can find Wells on this list of signatories that agreed to this statement (the “reappraising AIDS” group):

It is widely believed by the general public that a retrovirus called HIV causes the group diseases called AIDS. Many biochemical scientists now question this hypothesis. We propose that a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against this hypothesis be conducted by a suitable independent group. We further propose that critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.

You can find more about Sermonti here.

As far as linking Wells’ book, that was for people who may have been unfamiliar with him.

Finally, the point isn’t about overlapping membership between the two groups. The point is that they both use the same strategies to deny their respective orthodox scientific theories.

[heh, and Seth beat me to all this as I was typing…]

83. #83 Dale
September 8, 2006

McKiernan writes The HIV tests are terrible and inconclusive and prone to extremely high innacuracy as there is no “gold standard” to set them by.
Right. And if MOM is positive and you are too that disproves HIV causes AIDS.
Beautiful.

I see I’m not the only one who found that incredibly funny.

84. #84 nohivmeds
September 9, 2006

Actually, Tara, the point is, and I know you know this, that statistical errors and misrepresentations are made ACROSS THE SCIENCES. Any scientist who would deny that many of the, say 3rd rate journals in their area are less than, shall we say, rigorous, is simply a liar.

THAT REALLY IS THE POINT. SCIENTISTS IN EVERY AREA MAKE STATISTICAL ERRORS.

And McK my friend — take a study of what a “cohort” effect is, and then talk to me about when the gay epidemic started. You’re not approaching the problem developmentally.

85. #85 nohivmeds
September 9, 2006

In fact, I think it was the late mathematician, Serge Lange, international expert on differential equations, who wrote voluminously concerning the errors in the mathematical models proposed by Gallo. See Lange’s book “Challenges.” Oh — and yes, despite being regarded as the top in his field — he was an AIDS Rethinker, but — wow — not interested in Intelligent design.

86. #86 Dave S.
September 9, 2006

See Lange’s book “Challenges.” Oh — and yes, despite being regarded as the top in his field — he was an AIDS Rethinker, but — wow — not interested in Intelligent design.

The point, once again, is not that AIDS “Rethinkers” are likely to be also advocates of intelligent design (although of course some are) – it’s that both groups use the same kind of flawed thinking processes.

87. #87 Seth Manapio
September 9, 2006

“Oh — and yes, despite being regarded as the top in his field — he was an AIDS Rethinker, but — wow — not interested in Intelligent design.”

“Any scientist who would deny that many of the, say 3rd rate journals in their area are less than, shall we say, rigorous, is simply a liar.”

———————-

Sticking with his strawman argument, nohivmeds moves the goalposts again: Now the point apparently is that ALL hiv rethinkers aren’t also ID advocates.

I’m not sure what to call this second branch. I’m going with red herring, clearly, third rate journals are not at issue and aren’t relevant. The point isn’t that rethinkers make statistical errors, it is that they deliberately misuse statistics.

88. #88 Dale
September 9, 2006

One might also infer from nohivmeds’ argument that Duesberg is or was publishing in third rate journals. I’m not exactly certain how that would give weight to his arguments but perhaps nohivmeds will explain it to me.

89. #89 Michael
September 9, 2006

Are there any mainstream scientists whom agree with the establishment position that HIV is the cause of AIDS who also advocate ID, or is ID restricted to the realm of 0.01 percent of Rethinkers?

90. #90 Michael
September 9, 2006

nohivmeds,

I vehemently disagree with you that in 1974, a decade before HIV was invented in 1984, was a period of higher gay sexual activity and higher drug use. The gay community in 1974 was a fraction of the size that it was by 1984. There were far less bath houses and gay bars, and far less drug abuse happening in 74, and far less people involved in what drug abuse and orgy behaviors did exist. The drug use was much less in the 70’s with most gay men preferring alcoholic beverages over any kind of dope. And just smoking pot or taking a black beauty or doing any cocaine was a big deal. Crystal meth, which even the very first sick gay men in LA in 1981 had used, did not enter the gay community until 1980. By the 80’s the scene had progressed to big parties with bowls of cocaine, crystal, bottles of poppers, uppers, downers, and you name it. Just read Larry Kramers book for verification of how it got more and more out of control. By the mid 80’s, drug abuse was epidemic. There was also very little popper use in the 70’s as compared to the 80’s. The emotional health of the gay community also deteriorated over time. The vast majority of Gays were out only to themselves and each other, or were still quite closeted. Many were dealing with terrible rejection by coming out of the closets beginning in the late 70’s and increasing rapidly with more men attempting to gain approval of family and society. Coming out to family became a big deal starting in the very late 70’s and increased from there with gays becoming much more vocal about gaining societal acceptance. Obviously, you were nowhere near the gay scene in the mid 70’s to mid 80’s, or you would not have made such a statement. Where did you get your “data” that showed higher levels of sexual activity and drug use in the early to mid 70’s than in the early to mid 80’s? Just wondering, cause I was around the gay scene at the time, and my experience of the gay community is exactly the opposite of what you claim as data.

(and some of you guys said above that their was very little disagreement about issues among rethinkers)

91. #91 Michael
September 9, 2006

Wow! I just checked out the list of scientists listed as fellows in promoting ID at http://www.iscid.org. Out of the list of 59, only one was a known rethinker. I am not a real expert in math, but I think that if 58 out of 59 ID scientists are people that believe and promote that HIV causes AIDS, then more than 98 percent of ID’ers are advocates of HIV as the cause of AIDS. It seems to me that a high percentage of mainstream establishment scientists are a bit out there! We will need to confirm the stats on this with the math stats wiz Chris Noble, as to just what the percentage of whacked out mainstream HIV advocates is!

92. #92 Tara C. Smith
September 9, 2006

Michael, this has been explained to you many times, and you still don’t seem to get it. It doesn’t matter if it’s only 1% overlap, 50% or zero. It’s the *tactics* that are the same in both groups: misleading use of statistics as evidenced in this post, cherry-picking the lit, appeals to authority, grand conspiracies imagined, painting scientists as greedy and hopelessly biased, quote-mining, hell, they even each have their own prizes based on an impossible standard of evidence.

93. #93 Michael
September 9, 2006

Oh, I get it Tara, however you seem to be of the naive belief that this behavior applies only to AIDS Rethinkers and ID’ers, and you seem to have lost all of your healthy sense of scepticism when it comes to establishment HIV/AIDS science. That is unfortunate, because without some non-biased people looking at both sides of the issue as Judges searching for truth, instead of Lawyers collecting evidence to back up their own side, there will not be much forward movement going on in the issue to settle any of it or move any of it forward one way or the other. I think it would be quite unfortunate for the followers of your blog if you prove to be incapable of doing so.

94. #94 Michael
September 9, 2006

Tara, is there any, even one minor, tiny, miniscule point worth considering, that the rethinkers have ever brought up on your site in the days, weeks, and months of posts that you have read? Or… Is every word and every piece of evidence that they have brought up pure garbage and untrue bullshit just because they are Rethinkers? Did Peter Duesberg, the National Academy of Science member, ever say one word of truth in all of his books and papers about Rethinking AIDS, or one piece of math that was correct?

I have yet to see you give any consideration whatsoever, to any statement ever made by any Rethinker. I have however, seen you rudely call them all names such as “denialists”, and I have seen you pretty much paint every one of them as fanatical nitwits. Is there even one line in all of your threads, where you ever backed a single word that any rethinker has ever said? Even one Tara?

September 10, 2006

michael asks: “Tara, is there any, even one minor, tiny, miniscule point worth considering, that the rethinkers have ever brought up on your site in the days, weeks, and months of posts that you have read?

Why yes! Adequate nutrition is good! Drug use, having multiple, unprotected sex partners and sharing needles is bad! Better monitoring and beefing up the medical systems in Africa and poor nations would be a good thing.

continued: Did Peter Duesberg, the National Academy of Science member, ever say one word of truth in all of his books and papers about Rethinking AIDS, or one piece of math that was correct?

Nobody is suggesting that *all* of Duesberg’s math is bad, just that much is and the reliable data that he presents tends not to support his conclusions. In other fields unrelated to the HIV/AIDS brouhaha, Duesberg was well known within the Berkeley scientific community (and outside) for favoring wretched statistical justifications that most of the first-year grad students could punch holes through in a second. His understanding of epidemiology is abysmal and tortured — Definitely not his strong suit, but unfortunately, it colors his conclusions. It is a pretty good thing that most of the experimental work for which he was praised during his early career didn’t rely on much math.

96. #96 Michael
September 10, 2006

Unsympathetic,

Since you obviousy seem to be so knowledgeable about epedemiology, to the point of judging Peter Duesberg’s ability in this area, and, since you want to answer questions directed to Tara, then answer these questions?

1) Why is HIV a cell killing retrovirus, when otherwise retroviruses never kill cells?

2) Why is HIV a virus provided to labs in immortal cultures of the same T cells it is said to kill off?

3) Why is HIV a fatal virus that cannot easily be found in most patients, even dying ones, only antibodies to it?

4) Why is AIDS a disease where patients merely with antibodies can nevertheless die of the disease?

5) Why is AIDS a disease whose nature varies from place to place, being almost exclusively a homosexual and drug user ailment in North America and Europe, but heterosexual elsewhere?

6) Why is AIDS a disease that correlates with drug use in North America and Europe, yet is alleviated or prevented by a bowl full of other damaging and lethal drugs, never proved to be directly helpful?

7) Whay is AIDS a disease whose mechanism, including an up-to-twenty-year delay in onset, is as yet quite unexplained?

8) Why is HIV/AIDS a cell killing disease that also causes cell multiplying cancer, with no trace of the virus in the cancer?

9) Why is AIDS a disease said to be a killer epidemic in Haiti and South Africa, with no significant change in overall mortality, and how is it that AIDS is long endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, where a population explosion has nonetheless added 250 million people in two decades.

10) Why is AIDS an epidemic mapped in Africa by the World Health Organization almost entirely without the benefit of AIDS tests, which themselves are problematic?

11) Why is AIDS a viral epidemic uniquely without initial exponential growth or bell-shaped rise and fall?

12) Why is AIDS a viral epidemic which has not found immunity anywhere?

13) Why is AIDS a killer disease where no doctor, nurse or researcher working with it has caught the disease?

14) Why is AIDS an infectious disease with risk group, lifestyle, and malnutrition specific symptoms;

15) Why is AIDS a disease whose every symptom is shared with other diseases–in fact, a disease which would in every case be counted as those other diseases except for the supposed presence of antibodies to the “virus that causes AIDS”?

16) Why is HIV a viral epidemic without a sign of a promising vaccine despite the best funded army of researchers in history?

17) Why is HIV a viral disease which quickly achieves the antibodies of vaccination of its own accord?

18) Why is HIV a virus transmitted 25-50% through birth which has produced no epidemic among children.

97. #97 Seth Manapio
September 10, 2006

“Out of the list of 59, only one was a known rethinker. I am not a real expert in math, but I think that if 58 out of 59 ID scientists are people that believe and promote that HIV causes AIDS,”

“I get it Tara, however you seem to be of the naive belief that this behavior applies only to AIDS Rethinkers and ID’ers”
—————

Michael, these lists aren’t comprehensive, and unless the 58 ID scientists are on record somewhere else, you don’t know what their position is on HIV/AIDS. So you can’t actually make this claim. This would be a bad use of statistics.

There seem to be real similarities between HIV rethinkers and the ID movement in tactics and in the overall structure of the argument. One similarity is to massage statistics so they can make big “wow” statements that have no relationship to reality. You claim that this is true of the scientific mainstream on AIDS: Please provide the examples.

My guess would be that these examples are going to come from press releases of political interest groups, not from books by scientists. In other words, you are going to show that OTHER political interest groups, with specific political agendas, use statistics in this way. That is certainly true, but it supports the contention that the rethinker movement is a political, not scientific, movement.

September 10, 2006

I’ve seen those questions before Michael*. Many of the questions themselves contain factually incorrect statements and the answers are readily accessed on the web. Try the NIH factsheets for starters and continue reading. Note that much of the *actual* HIV and AIDS literature, particularly the scientific and medical research reports, are not geared to a lay audience. One would do well to learn the background biology; it helps one understand when one is being fed a line of bull:
http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/evidhiv.htm

* Reminiscent of the “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher” ‘tool’ promoted by Jonathan Wells with his Icons of Evolution anti-evolutionist tracts.
http://www.iconsofevolution.com/tools/questions.php3

99. #99 Michael
September 10, 2006

Seth, I think you have it backwards!

One similarity is to massage statistics so they can make big “wow” statements that have no relationship to reality. You claim that this is true of the scientific mainstream on AIDS: Please provide the examples.

From the following, it looks to me like the establishment position is the one that is political! WoW

1) AIDS Fight is Skewed by Federal Campaign Exaggerating Risks, Wall Street Journal, May 1, 1996. Cover story, by Amanda Bennett and Anita Sharpe, staff reporters.

http://www.pulitzer.org/year/1997/national-reporting/works/2.html

2) “How AIDS in Africa Was Overstated” Reliance on Data From Urban Prenatal Clinics Skewed Early Projections,
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, April 6, 2006; Page A01

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/05/AR2006040502517.html

Is the African AIDS pandemic a bluff? UNAIDS image of Africa: “Almost 30 million Africans now have HIV/AIDS.”
afrol News http://www.afrol.com/features/11116

http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,62114,00.html

And in India:

http://www.aegis.com/news/ips/2002/Ip020214.html

100. #100 Michael
September 10, 2006

Unsympathetic,

Your response to the 18 simple questions was a very nice way of avoiding and skirting the questions I posed. Perhaps you would like to try again, and just pick any one of the questions I asked, otherwise, I must assume that you yourself also have no valid answers to ANY of the issues that the rethinkers have presented, and are merely a parrot of establishment positions that you are either too brainwashed or too biased to question.

101. #101 Michael
September 10, 2006

I just posted this, but it did not make it online, so I post it again.

Seth, you said,

One similarity is to massage statistics so they can make big “wow” statements that have no relationship to reality. You claim that this is true of the scientific mainstream on AIDS: Please provide the examples.

Here’s four fine examples of mainstream statistics massaging and obvious politisization of HIV/AIDS by the establishment:

1) From the Wall Street Journal: AIDS Fight is Skewed by Federal Campaign Exaggerating Risks, May 1, 1996. Cover story

http://www.pulitzer.org/year/1997/national-reporting/works/2.htm

2) From the Washington Post a couple of months ago: How AIDS in Africa Was Overstated, April 06, 2006.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/05/AR2006040502517_pf.html

3) HEALTH-INDIA: Hyped HIV/AIDS Figures Skew Priorities, Feb. 20, 2002.

http://www.aegis.com/news/ips/2002/Ip020214.html

4) Is the African AIDS Pandemic a Bluff? 2004 Aegis.

http://www.aegis.com/news/afrol/2004/AO040201.html

September 10, 2006

Michael: “I asked, otherwise, I must assume that you yourself also have no valid answers to ANY of the issues that the rethinkers have presented, and are merely a parrot of establishment positions that you are either too brainwashed or too biased to question.

That was a most childish response.

I’ve cited sources to begin your own evaluation. Have you bothered to look? You can even read what we’ve written in related topics on this very board (Try the recent thread with 600+ responses): I’m not going to spoon-feed it to to you. The fact that you can’t seem to punch a hole in any of the questions by yourself or even notice some of the problems is telling. For example, try taking apart question #12 yourself.

You may take your ball and go elsewhere; maybe someone else will indulge you — The thing is, I don’t care. I don’t spend time debating Young Earth Creationists, either. It’s close to pointless and only justifiable as a ‘hobby’.

103. #103 Michael
September 10, 2006

This is the third attempt to answer Seth. The last two for whatever reason are not posting.

Seth, you said:

One similarity is to massage statistics so they can make big “wow” statements that have no relationship to reality. You claim that this is true of the scientific mainstream on AIDS: Please provide the examples.

Examples of Establishment statistics massaging: Number One:

AIDS Fight is Skewed by Federal Campaign Exaggerating Risks, Wall Street Journal, May 1, 1996. Cover story

http://www.pulitzer.org/year/1997/national-reporting/works/2.html

104. #104 Michael
September 10, 2006

Seth,

Here is example number two of HIV/AIDS establishment massaging:

Is the African AIDS pandemic a bluff? Aegis/Afrol News 2004.

http://www.aegis.com/news/afrol/2004/AO040201.html

105. #105 Michael
September 10, 2006

Seth,

Here is example number Three of HIV/AIDS establishmnent massaging of statistics!

HEALTH-INDIA: Hyped HIV/AIDS Figures Skew Priorities.
Inter Press Service – February 20, 2002

http://www.aegis.com/news/ips/2002/Ip020214.html

106. #106 Michael
September 10, 2006

Seth,

Here is example number Four of HIV/AIDS establishmnent massaging of statistics!

How AIDS in Africa Was Overstated. Washington Post April 2006.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/05/AR2006040502517_pf.html

Hey Seth! Are you trying to convince me or yourself that many of the establishment HIV/AIDS scientists are not “political interest groups, with specific political agendas, using statistics in this way.

107. #107 Michael
September 10, 2006

Wow, Unsympathetic, talk about a childish response! Someone presents to you any serious questions about the issues, and you just point hither and yon, and tell them the answers are “out there, blowing in the wind on some thread somewhere”, or to be found in some establishment claim somewhere which is also not backed up with coherent responses. So you conclude that the rethinkers are childish for asking serious questions, and yet present no coherent argument of your own to even one of the questions.

Seems to me you might want to pick up your own ball and go home yourself, or address the questions posed!

September 10, 2006

No, Michael, your response was childish because you tried leveraging an implied insult to wheedle me into a debate — A classic and transparent strategy that probably works fairly reliably with 10-year olds. For a person with a stated openess for alternate possibilities, you don’t seem willing to understand that others have different interests than yourself. Why would anyone want to continue a conversation with someone who says, “Give me the attention I want or I’ll call you a poser”?

I’m not so compelled. When I was younger and more naive, I did get into these sorts of debate on this very subject. Now I’m wiser and bored with the repetition (as others here clearly understand). Maybe Chris Noble will indulge you.

But the answers aren’t blowing in the wind; they’re in journals, books and even on the internet. I gave you a link from which to start. That article links to others.

Consider starting with background research on question #12 as I suggested previously. I certainly don’t consider #12 a serious question today. Or pick any one of the other questions and pursue the answers for it in detail; Along the way, you’ll learn enough in the process to understand the answers to the other ones.

109. #109 Seth Manapio
September 10, 2006

“Hey Seth! Are you trying to convince me or yourself that many of the establishment HIV/AIDS scientists are not “political interest groups, with specific political agendas, using statistics in this way.”

————-

Ummm… neither. I’m saying that political groups use political tactics to advance agendas, and scientific groups practice science. You can have political lobby groups on any side of any position about anything, obviously. But my point is that this kind of behavior isn’t science, its politics.

Your examples are interesting, thank you for posting them. I evaluated each of them. The only one that supports your claim is the CDC ad campaign, however.

To recap, in the Duesberg and ID example, known data is used to tell an obvious statistical lie. The UNAIDS projections are not an example of this, they are an example of scientists continually readjusting their projections and even basic methodology in light of new data, which is what scientists do.

The first one does show an actual attempt to mislead the public from the CDC. In a PR campaign, which is exactly where I would expect it, run by federal government officials, exactly who I would expect to do it. Political interest groups massage statistics for public relations reasons.

But in these cases, there are working scientists, making projections, conducting studies, writing papers. And those who accuse the political groups of abusing statistics are relying on the data gathered from those researchers. When I describe mainstream scientists, it is working scientists that I am talking about, not federal bureacrats engaged in a PR campaign.

110. #110 Seth Manapio
September 10, 2006

“The only one that supports your claim is the CDC ad campaign, however.”

————-

I have to take issue with my statement here. The CDC campaign does not support Michael’s case, because there is no statistical lying in it. The CDC did choose to focus their campaign on low-risk, rather than high-risk, groups, but they did not actually attempt to use statistics to prove that low-risk groups were actually high-risk. So, while it is an example of what I would consider to be propaganda, it isn’t an example of the specific behavior of misrepresenting statistics.

To define statistical lying: the person or group should quote a statistic, and then draw a conclusion from that statistic that clearly doesn’t follow, based on a simple understanding of the process or statistic involved.

Duesberg, for example, essentially stated that I have to play the lottery an average of 4 billion times in order to win. This is clearly contradicted by the fact that no one plays the lottery 4 billion times, and yet some people win the lottery.

Thats the kind of thing I’m talking about. Michael, I read your sources and didn’t see anything like that. Maybe you could explain in more depth.

111. #111 End Times
September 11, 2006

Seth wails:

“You have been referenced to at least one article that you didn’t read, and I’ve found several articles that address this issue in a two minute pub-med search. But rather than do a little research on your own, or read an article, you are accusing people of intellectual dishonesty and putting words in their mouths. I can actually see the conspiracy theory growing in your brain as you imagine that I “know” that such research doesn’t exist, but I’m “covering it up”…

“Dude, get real.”

1. If I was referenced something that I could have read – I’m sorry. I guess I missed it. Like I’m sure must be true for you, this isn’t really MY LIFE. I could have scanned over a post that I didn’t think applied to my discussion. Don’t be so quick to conclude I’m not willing to listen or read just because it suits your assumptions about who I am.

2. No I’m not going to do the research you think I should. I simply said what seems clear to me. If it’s not and I’m wrong – then rather than tell me what kind of research I should do and that I’m wrong, you should show me how I’m wrong. I’m GUESSING that might be by showing me the research that proves it, but I’m not DEMANDING that you do so.

3. I’m not “accusing” anyone of anything, Seth. Where did you get that from?

4. Sorry to spoil your expectations, but I have no “conspiracy theories” rattling around in my head. I’m sure that’s another visual about me that suits you.

5. You’re so ANGRY, Seth. Please go back and find quotes from me that elicited ANGER from you. Really. Take a deep breath now.

112. #112 Seth Manapio
September 11, 2006

“If it’s not and I’m wrong – then rather than tell me what kind of research I should do and that I’m wrong, you should show me how I’m wrong.”

————–

I did. Several times. I pointed out that the basis of your argument is that women have penises, and that therefore it is a lousy argument. You are sticking to it anyway. And I’m suggesting that you spend a few minutes doing research, before asking other people to do it for you, because that would be polite. But whatever, man, do what you do.

September 12, 2006

Well, back to the head of the thread… Another parallel to ID is that the ‘dissent’ against HIV and AIDS now mostly consists as a negative argument.

114. #114 End Times
September 13, 2006

Seth said: “I pointed out that the basis of your argument is that women have penises, and that therefore it is a lousy argument.”

This is the second time you’ve used this very clever line. I’ll just point out that you’re the same guy who accused me of, among other related things, “putting words in peoples mouths”. You know I never claimed that women have penises, just that the sex practices (and I was particularly making a point about anal sex and drugs) were going on in both populations, and that in total numbers, much greater in the the hetero population.

I’ll also point out that, whatever Seth thinks of me, I’m sure there are others here who have a slightly different opinion, would gladly post the links talked about if they exist, and haven’t.

I don’t believe that there is strong scientific evidence of a 35 million person AIDS epidemic in Africa linked primarily to hetero-sexual acts. But I’ll still stop by here to look.

I’ll get back to doing what I do.

115. #115 Seth Manapio
September 13, 2006

“You know I never claimed that women have penises, ”

————-

And I never said you did. What I said was that this is an assumption of your argument, otherwise, females could not engage in identical sex practices to males. Your argument–that you would expect the spread of AIDS to be the same in American heterosexuals and American homosexuals–was a bad one that had no evidentiary or logical support and ignored basic facts of anatomy.

This has nothing to do with you personally. It doesn’t make you a bad or stupid person. It just makes you wrong about that.

I’ve never claimed anything about AIDS in Africa, all I’ve claimed is that your argument is garbage. That doesn’t even mean that the conclusion is wrong, it means that your argument doesn’t support your conclusion.

Basically, your whole argument about African AIDS has boiled down to you not believing in it because you don’t want to, and you don’t think there is evidence for it because you don’t believe it.

I still think you should spend a few minutes doing your own research, instead of assuming you know what research exists based on your own preconceptions. You could start by reading some abstracts at PubMed, try the query “Dry Sex HIV” and you will get a number of hits on heterosexual activity and the spread of AIDS in Africa.

116. #116 End Times
September 13, 2006

Seth said: “And I never said you did.”

OK. Here’s EXACTLY what you did say:

“We have seen that your entire “common sense” argument relies on the demonstrably false premise that women have penises.”

And then:

“I pointed out that the basis of your argument is that women have penises”

CYA however you want, Seth, but that would be judged by most “common sense”, “logical” people as putting words in my mouth. And please, don’t worry, I don’t require your assurances that I’m not a “bad or stupid person.” But it’s great to know that YOU are such a certified judge of such matters! Plus, you are so incredibly insightful about people who you don’t know, other than your interpretation of a few words in cyberspace, by declaring – “Basically, your whole argument about African AIDS has boiled down to you not BELIEVING (my emphasis) in it because you don’t WANT (my emphasis) to.”

Seth, you’ve done a much better job disguising your anger in your last two posts (without so much as referring back to my assumption of such, based on your words without having the benefit of seeing your expression and hearing your tone). But you tend to further demonstrate my point with what I’ve pointed out above and your use of words like “garbage” to describe what my uncertainties about AIDS in Africa is based on. It almost seems like you want to go to war with someone just because they express such uncertainties instead of accepting the commonly held thoughts on the subject. Seth, let me surprise you… I’m not an enemy soldier. To the contrary, if you were to go back to the thread with “lincoln” you will see a number of times where I quoted you and voiced my agreement. I’m the guy that kept telling him and others to go “do the science” that they believed would validate their claims. Maybe the fact that I was referring to myself as “Tend Limes” in that thread threw you off. Or maybe you just go to war when someone doesn’t agree with defined model. I don’t know.

You said that you or someone else had left a link for me to look at and that I didn’t check it out. Your implication was (clearly) that I didn’t really care to. I told you that this was not the case. Instead of giving it to me again, you went into your tirade against the logic of my doubts. Now you link me to Pub Med and some key words, but can’t resist some sort of poke at me for not having already done it myself. But I WILL read the link and I’ll let you know what I think. You have a great evening, ok?

117. #117 viji
September 14, 2006

Since Michael asked and have not bothered to look into any of the links he has been directed to, I’ll attempt to answer his questions in the most lay man term possible. Perhaps I’ll be courting more flak for keeping it concise, as its likely some parties will complain that not enough details are given. Feel free to correct any errors I make in my attempt

1) Why is HIV a cell killing retrovirus, when otherwise retroviruses never kill cells?
Fallacy. Most retroviruses do kill cells and cause a variety of disease. Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retroviruses

2) Why is HIV a virus provided to labs in immortal cultures of the same T cells it is said to kill off?
The high turn-over of “immortal” T cells can sustain any killing off caused by HIV infection relative to normal T-cells. Certainly you may also grow and maintain HIV in normal human blood cell such as macrophages, which can be infected with HIV but also known to be the long-term reservoirs of HIV, meaning HIV uses this subset of blood cells as a way of persisting in the body

3) Why is HIV a fatal virus that cannot easily be found in most patients, even dying ones, only antibodies to it?
Misleading question. ‘Easily’ being an ambiguous description. HIV can be found. Antibodies are surrogate markers for HIV and are frequently utilised in diagnosis and HIV detection because these are the earliest methods being pioneered and arguably the most established. There are certainly newer more sensitive methods such as PCR detection of HIV specific genetic material.

4) Why is AIDS a disease where patients merely with antibodies can nevertheless die of the disease?
Simply because HIV attacks the very immune cells the human body uses to clear foreign objects, including bacteria, viruses etc. Antibodies are mere one component of human ‘integrated’ defence, rather like your scouting parties, if your cavalry or infantry are decimated, even if you scout out the position of your enemy, what good can that do

5) Why is AIDS a disease whose nature varies from place to place, being almost exclusively a homosexual and drug user ailment in North America and Europe, but heterosexual elsewhere?
Thats basic epidemiology 101. In North America and Europe and most developed nations for that matter, the general population have the best health services and high awareness of the risk factors associated with HIV transmission. Therefore HIV have mostly been exclusive to certain subjects of the population at high risk or the focal point of the original outbreak, i.e. the homosexual community. The same can’t be said for lesser developing nations. For example, a health official of the AIDS prevention team actually stated on record that showering after havign unprotected sex with a HIV positive person can ward off infection. So how much to you expect the commoner to knwo about HIV transmission. Hence heterosexual transmission being another dimension of the AIDS problem.

6) Why is AIDS a disease that correlates with drug use in North America and Europe, yet is alleviated or prevented by a bowl full of other damaging and lethal drugs, never proved to be directly helpful?
This is actually two separate question. First, drug use is a major risk factor, since there is direct blood to blood contact that best spreads a blood borne agent like HIV. And since drug use is pariah in most country having little access to the best protections afforded against HIV (i.e. clean needles) therein lies the major cause. I am not sure on what basis you equate heroin to HAART as these are different compounds that work on different aspects of human physiology. Moreover, as for HAART there are already many clinical studies that describe its efficacy

7) Whay is AIDS a disease whose mechanism, including an up-to-twenty-year delay in onset, is as yet quite unexplained?
First ask yourself, why have we been tackling so many scientific questions, such as quantum physics for so many decades yet much is still unexplained? Well to put things in perspectives, we already known much about HIV biology and plenty of texts already explains the variable delay in onset of disease upon infection in different individuals. It would be too long winded just to state them all. Check out your nearest library for that matter.

8) Why is HIV/AIDS a cell killing disease that also causes cell multiplying cancer, with no trace of the virus in the cancer?
the current opinion is that our immune system also does housekeeping at clearing cancerous cells, and since the immune cells that are normally tasked to do just that are decimated by HIV infection, what do you think is the outcome? HIV only infects certain subset of cells, i.e. CD4 and CCR5 having cells, so don’t expect HIV to infect your whole body, much less cancer cells.

9) Why is AIDS a disease said to be a killer epidemic in Haiti and South Africa, with no significant change in overall mortality, and how is it that AIDS is long endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, where a population explosion has nonetheless added 250 million people in two decades.
there are just so many factors involved that influences mortality, including standard of living, level of awareness, effectiveness of gov AIDS prevention policies, state of health care, state of individual health, assess to life prolonging HAART etc. Remember the long time before the onset of disease. Certainly, some countries in Afirca have such high HIV positive rates that WHO are predicting a collapse in population in the future if no intervention is provided.

10) Why is AIDS an epidemic mapped in Africa by the World Health Organization almost entirely without the benefit of AIDS tests, which themselves are problematic?
Really? I am not clear about your assertions. Perhaps someone will answer this question for you. I’ll refrain from items that aren’t clear to me

11) Why is AIDS a viral epidemic uniquely without initial exponential growth or bell-shaped rise and fall?
you mean in a epidemiologic sense or the HIV infection of the human body?

12) Why is AIDS a viral epidemic which has not found immunity anywhere?
Well certain European inviduals have a defect in their CCR5 expression that make them more resilient to HIV associated problems. And its a question of evolution too, since HIV made the primate-human jump only recently in evolutionary scale, perhaps that explains it

13) Why is AIDS a killer disease where no doctor, nurse or researcher working with it has caught the disease?
Silly question. We know its a blood borne disease, and with basic and adequate precautions and prevention, it is impossible for anyone to catch the disease. And don’t be too sure, there are already cases where transmission has been documented from dentist to patients, but that was at a time when not everything was clear about HIV transmission

14) Why is AIDS an infectious disease with risk group, lifestyle, and malnutrition specific symptoms;
It affects the immune system, humans need to immune system to ward off almost everything that attempts to colonise us in any given oppurtunity. And the activities you mentioned above also impact on the wellbeing of the immune system, such as nutrition. Get the idea?

15) Why is AIDS a disease whose every symptom is shared with other diseases–in fact, a disease which would in every case be counted as those other diseases except for the supposed presence of antibodies to the “virus that causes AIDS”?
See above. HIV doesn’t cause you to puke or to bleed or to waste. It just lays waste to your immune system. The rest of the damage is done from bad bugs and organisms who ahev a free reign over the human body once there is no immune protection. Most of the AIDS associated oppurtunistic infections and morbidities are never or rarely present in a person with an intact immune system.

16) Why is HIV a viral epidemic without a sign of a promising vaccine despite the best funded army of researchers in history?
As always there is so many factors involved, including resistance, hidden reserviors that aids in the persistence of HIV, etc. Read up on the literature and you will understand the magnitude of the hurdles of making a viable vaccine for HIV. Certainly people have tried in the past, but only failed due to the ‘deviousness’ of this particular virus

17) Why is HIV a viral disease which quickly achieves the antibodies of vaccination of its own accord?

18) Why is HIV a virus transmitted 25-50% through birth which has produced no epidemic among children.
epidemiology 101. Only infected mothers have a risk of transmitting to the unborn children. More so, there are effective interventions to prevent mother to child transmission. Nevertheless there is patchy data that HIV positivity in children is indeed high in countries where awareness is low and interventions are non existant

Whew, that actually took away an hour of my time.

118. #118 Seth Manapio
September 14, 2006

“CYA however you want, Seth, but that would be judged by most “common sense”, “logical” people as putting words in my mouth. ”
————-

No, they would conclude that I was pointing out the basic assumptions of your argument, not that I was saying you had expressed those assumptions.

End Times, this is not a personal war, and I’m not particularly angry, just a bit frustrated at how stubborn you are being. You are holding on to a really bad argument in the face of all reason and evidence… why? What’s the point? It isn’t a good argument, and jettisoning it does not equal accepting anything about AIDS in Africa. I honestly don’t get why you aren’t willing to shrug and concede the point.

Your reasoning was very bad… and that is okay. It is okay to be wrong. What isn’t okay, and what is more to the point of this thread, is to insist that its all some personal attack on you, and to cling to an argument long after its fallacies have been clearly demonstrated to everyone.

I have never said, in any post, that AIDS was a heterosexual epidemic in Africa, or that you shouldn’t have questions about it. I have tried to be very explicit in stating that my sole issue was your line of reasoning. Thats it. It isn’t as if I “want to go to war with someone just because they express such uncertainties”, it is as if I thought that you were making a bad argument and I was pointing that out.

I’m done with this conversation.