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How to deal with HIV denialists online

My Scibling Tara Smith together with Steven Novella, published an article in PLoS Medicine last week that all frequent readers of science blogs will find interesting:
HIV Denial in the Internet Era:

Because these denialist assertions are made in books and on the Internet rather than in the scientific literature, many scientists are either unaware of the existence of organized denial groups, or believe they can safely ignore them as the discredited fringe. And indeed, most of the HIV deniers’ arguments were answered long ago by scientists. However, many members of the general public do not have the scientific background to critique the assertions put forth by these groups, and not only accept them but continue to propagate them. A recent editorial in Nature Medicine [32] stresses the need to counteract AIDS misinformation spread by the deniers.

A very, very good and important article! Especially if you are struggling with various kinds of denialists on blogs all the time.

And you can also see other cool papers published today in PLoS Medicine.

Comments

  1. #1 Bill
    August 21, 2007

    Note to PLoS web folks: I don’t mind if you insist that I give you an email address in order to post a response, but publishing said address where any bastard spammer can scrape it up pretty much guarantees that I won’t be commenting on any more papers.

  2. #2 coturnix
    August 21, 2007

    Arrgggghhh! [after consulting with the IT team]: This is a commentary on one of the non-TOPAZ journals. What you wrote is considered to be an article, not a “comment”. Thus, it has the author’s email address. Just like the email addresses of authors of a research article would be publicly posted.

    Of course, TOPAZ platform is much, much, better and we’re moving all the journals there over the next several months, community journals first, flagship journals a bit later. So far, only ONE is on it and the new NTD journal will be on it as soon as it launches in November.

    I have no idea if we’re working on changing this bug/feature on the AP side, or if we consider this a bug or a feature…

  3. #3 coturnix
    August 21, 2007

    Is Nautilus on a platform that does not allow blockquotes? I thought it was Maxine…

  4. #4 Bill
    August 22, 2007

    Thus, it has the author’s email address. Just like the email addresses of authors of a research article would be publicly posted.

    Ah. I hadn’t thought of that. Hmmm. I appear to have rushed in again where angels fear to tread. It’s necessary to publish an email address with a paper; I can’t think of a way not to do that. So, an address (and one I am going to want to check regularly!) is going to be scrape-able no matter what. So, it’s not up to your IT team to protect me from spam, I need to deal with it on my end. Further, I actually want people to be able to contact me about comments I leave on papers, just as I want people to be able to find me from this comment.

    So, it’s a feature. I retract my earlier statement. Mea culpa, went off half-cocked again. I’ll learn eventually.

  5. #5 Bill
    August 22, 2007

    I dunno if Nautilus allows blockquotes, but Maxine introduces the second paragraph with “From the Editorial:”. From other comments she’s made on blogs and in email, it’s clear she didn’t write the Editorial.

  6. #6 coturnix
    August 22, 2007

    I read it a few days ago, and now linked to it without re-reading it (the responses were so much better). But I still had the impression (wrong, I see) that the words were hers. Anyway, the name-tags are for the post-authors, even if the exact quote was thought by someone else.

  7. #7 Bill
    August 22, 2007

    Aw crap, I commented on the wrong post! Fortunately you knew what I meant to do.

    (Why are you awake? How are you awake? It’s 2:00 am where you are!!)

  8. #8 Bill
    August 22, 2007

    Hey wait, you got the posts mixed up first! I feel better now. That’ll teach you to blog at 2:00am.

  9. #9 DuWayne
    August 25, 2007

    Great article, that I hope galvanizes the science professional community, to the need to combat denialism, not just of HIV/AIDS, but denialism of all stripes. I really appreciate the support and information that a lot of scibloggers have provided me, in my own battles with neurological disorder denialism. I am also starting to venture into HIV/AIDS denial, because it carries the worse real world consequences of any brand of denialism. I just have a very hard time with it, because while I can deal with most denialists, reasonably and coherently, the deadly, brutal nature of HIV/AIDS denialism really makes me angry. Probably because I spend a fair amount of time, visiting someone who will not likely be alive a year from now, because she bought into it for too long, waiting until a virus she picked up, ravaged her body beyond repair.

    I read your blog far too infrequently, but I do pay attention to what you’re doing, mostly through the emails you send. I really appreciate everything that you do, to make more information available. Education is the key to combating denialism and the results of ignorance and anti-intellectualism, so pervasive in American society. Thank you very much for all of your efforts.

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