Seth Kalichman is a better man than I. Kalichman is a clinical psychologist, editor of the journal Aids and Behavior and director of the Southeast HIV/AIDS Research and Evaluation (SHARE) product, and he has devoted his life to the treatment and prevention of HIV. Despite a clear passion for reducing the harm done by HIV/AIDS, to research this book he actually met, and interviewed, prominent HIV/AIDS denialists. I confess I simply lack the temperament to have done this. To this day, when I read about HIV/AIDS denialists, and the the 330,000 people who have died as a result of HIV/AIDS denialism, I see red. I think violent, bloody thoughts.

The HIV/AIDS denialists, like Celia Farber, object to being called denialist, a quote from her in the book:

Those who wish to engage the AIDS research establishment in the sort of causality debate that is carried on in most other branches of scientific endeavor are tarred as AIDS “denialists,” as if skepticism about the pathogenicity of a retrovirus were the moral equivalent of denying the Nazis slaughtered 6 million Jews.

To this I would reply that the HIV/AIDS denialists like Duesberg are worse than holocaust deniers. Holocaust deniers are anti-semitic bigots and horrible people sure, but the HIV/AIDS denialists are responsible for an ongoing campaign of death. Because people like Duesberg have convinced morons like Thabo Mbeki of their pseudoscience, hundreds of thousands of people are dead.

This is why I see red. Denialist is about the nicest thing you could call the likes of Farber and Duesberg.

Kalichman’s book is well-written, timely, thoroughly researched, and to his great credit he uses my definition of denialism. Ha! How could I help but love this book? The fact that he pursues denialism from a psychological angle, and interacts directly with the critical denialists behind this story make it a profoundly important study and resource in understanding not just HIV/AIDS denialism, but all forms of denialist pseudoscience. This takes a very patient, very dedicated person. I would have lost my temper, lost my patience, or lost my mind to have delved so deep into this madness. Not to mention, I’m not very forgiving or nice to people I perceive as being so detrimental. It’s a personality flaw, I recognize it. That’s why we’re lucky to have people like Seth Kalichman.

Let’s discuss some of Kalichman’s findings below the fold…

First off, in his introduction he describes what it was like interacting with denialists:

My relationships with denialists created some complicated arrangements that allowed me to experience denialism face-to-face. I often felt more like a journalist than a scientist, giving me a glimpse of how it must feel when denialist journalists delve into science. Still, it is important to say that the denialists who interacted with me did not seem evil. They are deeply skeptical of science and untrusting of government and big business. Some are surely misguided and others seem to foolishly believe that they understand everything there was to know about AIDS. But I did not find them evil in the sense they were intesnt on harming people, even though their actions surely are. Of course, those I have come to see as malevolent – the vitamin pushers con men, and angry academics are the ones who did not respond to my attempts to contact them.

Fascinating. I would be surprised if Kalichman had found them to be overtly sinister, like some disease-denying caricatures reminiscent of Mr. Burns on the Simpsons. I think in light of this description we must remember the phrase the banality of evil used by Hannah Arendt to describe Eichmann. Evil isn’t always blocking out the son or stealing candy from infants, or always performed by the sociopaths and madmen of history. Sometimes evil is perpetrated by those who are operating without ill intent within a framework that is twisted and wrong, and this is one of the most important lessons of history. Ordinary people who are perfectly normal are capable of doing great harm under the authority of those with radical ideology. See also the Milgram experiment or the Stanford Prison Experiment as examples of this phenomenon. To find them ordinary, if anything, is what one would expect of foolish people who have adopted the warped and devastating ideology of the HIV/AIDS denialists. This does not exonerate them, it merely informs us of the work we need to do to fight against the thoughtless obeisance to ideology which causes so much human misery.

Kalichman starts with a definition of denialism, a description of HIV/AIDS denial and a justification for using the term. And here is my only criticism of the text. I believe that in defining denialism, he does not succinctly describe the critical elements. This is probably a result of my bias towards my own methods of describing the critical elements of denialism. He does cover them all, going into depth in the importance of conspiracy and suspicious personality traits endemic to denialists as a whole. His discussion was of the defining characteristics was of great value though, and I left feeling as though I learned a great deal about the psychological gray zone between simple denial that most people exhibit in the face of hard truth, the ignorant denial of followers, and the more malignant form of denial that is practiced by the leading pseudoscientists. His subsections on “Suspicious Minds” and “Why AIDS, Why Now” I think are truly novel contributions to the discussion of denialism and provide great information as to the motives and sources of denialist arguments.

His second chapter is an extensive discussion on Duesberg. I was also fascinated by his interaction with Duesberg, who not only sounds like he is fundamentally broken mentally, but ignorant of virology. Kalichman writes “Even knowing the complexity of HIV and the barriers it poses to vaccines, Peter Duesberg looked me dead in the eyes and said that failure to achieve and HIV vaccine means that an infectious agent cannot be the cause of AIDS”. I immediately smacked my head and thought, does he also deny that the Hepatitis C virus causes Hepatitis despite antibody response? Or that herpes viruses cause a host of chronic infections despite the presence of antibody? Not every virus is easily vaccinated against, that doesn’t mean they’re non-infectious or can’t cause disease. This is a stunningly stupid statement from a virologist. Duesberg is not just an HIV/AIDS denialist, but also denies the role of viruses in cancer, apparently rejecting the mountains of evidence that HPV causes cervical cancer, that any other virus causes cancer, or that cancer can be caused by gene mutation. I would point out again that he seems ignorant of virology despite extensive experience in the field. How about EBV and Burkitt’s Lymphoma? There is no other cause of the disease. Or HHV-8 and Kaposi Sarcoma? Duesberg is a classic crank – incompetent and completely unaware of it, and Kalichman lays out his successive use of each of the denialist tactics from conspiracy, to utterly dishonest cherry-picking of data and quote-mining, to logical fallacies. The image emerges of a man who is just contrary, no matter what he refuses to accept any idea that is mainstream, even if it is true. Kalichman spends the rest of the chapter laying out Duesberg’s case, which is laughable, and then smashing it, he even alludes to some nice crank magnetism from the cdesign proponentsists, radical libertarians and environmental extremists. Gems include Duesberg’s denial that children or sex-workers die of AIDS. The ability of his delusion to protect him from the reality of AIDS is astonishing, and deadly. Somehow, Kalichman’s final summary of Duesberg is ultimately too charitable:

Peter Duesberg’s legacies will be that he both discovered the first cancer-causing gene and that he brought a sort of legitimacy to a band of sad denialists and wacky pseudoscientists. How one man could be the source of so many lives saved and so many lives lost is the greatest paradox and human tragedy in this whole contorted affair.

Kalichman has to stretch to say positive things about a man who ultimately comes across as a dishonest contrarian, and an insufferable self-aggrandizer. I also would disagree that he has saved any lives for his discovery of src, as it’s not as if it would never be discovered if it wasn’t for him. It’s not like science is art, and only one artist can create some unique work. It’s clear that Duesberg has only been a net negative for humanity and science.

Kalichman’s description of pseudoscience in chapter 3 is spot on, but I think more or less synonymous with denialism. I believe denialism is the pseudoscientific method, or at least describes its components. He proposes pseudoscience is kind of an applied form of denialism by quasi-experts seeking legitimacy through a more precise mimicry of the trappings of science – fake journals, fake experts, fake peer review etc. I’m not sure one can say they are truly different, but his description of AIDS pseudoscience is great and more extensive debunking of the variety of denialist claims about the existence or non-existence of HIV and AIDS. Many things become clear, especially the tendency of anti-medical pseudoscientists to blame the victim. Almost all of the the denialist theories seem to find a way to make it the victims fault – their lifestyle, their diet, their genetics, etc. which may feed back on their need for control His close examination of their arguments is sometimes grueling for someone with a medical education, I think my forehead has developed a welt from how many times I smacked it. For instance, I hadn’t heard about Celia Farber’s theory on HIV and infants:

Journalist Celia Farber confuses HIV infection with antibody responses when she states that all babies born to HIV positive mothers are born HIV positive and that all babies born to HIV positive mothers are born HIV positive and that most become negative months later…In this respect Farber is suggesting that all babies born to women with HIV/AIDS have HIV infection.

Facepalm! In humans, there is a IgG transport system across the placenta that delivers maternal antibodies to the infant so that when it is born it enjoys protection from various infections until its own immune system gets its legs under it. This way infants have much of the same acquired immunity as their mothers for the first few months of life. Since the HIV test tests for the presence of antibodies, this gives a false-positive test until the maternal antibodies disappear and, if the infant is positive, they generate their own HIV antibodies. HIV doesn’t readily cross the placental barrier, which is why AZT given before labor, not even during the whole pregnancy, is highly protective against transmission of the virus to the child as it is usually infected during birthing. Why are we even arguing with people so ignorant of basic biology? They don’t understand human development, they don’t understand immunology, they don’t understand virology, they don’t even understand how an ELISA assay works, but they’ll propose their incompetent use of it discredits the work of every HIV/AIDS researcher in the world! It’s maddening to hear these cranks assume the mantle of the likes of Galileo and Einstein – minds that may occur maybe once a century – when they are clearly so completely incompetent. The arrogance is astounding.

After icing my forehead…He forgets to mention Michael Fumento as a denialist for his promotion of the myth that heterosexual sex does not transmit HIV. He’s a general-use infectious disease promoter who routinely uses the success of public health efforts as proof they’re not needed. After all, if disease doesn’t get transmitted, why should we think it has anything to do with public health interventions?

In his fourth chapter he summarizes the dominant conspiracy theories, again a thorough job, as well as an excellent sub-chapter on why denialists make people like me so crazy. In the fifth he makes sure not to let Reagan off the hook in a discussion of political elements of HIV/AIDS denialism. And the last chapter deals with the question of how to get people out of denial. Importantly he recognizes the nature of how denialism is spread, starting with a few sources and then expanding outwards through the echo chambers of the internet. There are few original ideas in denialism, and while good ideas come and go, bad ideas last forever. He has some good suggestions of intellectual shortcuts to avoid BS that I’m sure most of my readers are familiar with. He also recognizes the diverse ideological radicalism which contributes to the formation of these ideas. Whether it’s anti-medical cranks, environmental cranks, libertarian cranks, they tend to come to the topic of HIV/AIDS with an ideological axe to grind, rather than truly caring for the victims of the disease. Thus I think their moral position deteriorates further, they use the death of millions and ongoing illness and death of innocent men, women and children to further their bigotry against modern medicine, or to promote their toxin paranoia, or their politics.

He also has inspired me to conduct a kind of experiment. Simply put, denialism is an outgrowth of a certain personality type that is dysfunctional. These people with suspicious/paranoid beliefs, a tendency towards conspiracism, and lack of critical reasoning skills are all over the country and all over the world. They interpret events in a predictable manner. I ask the readers to consider world events from this perspective. Let’s see if, in the face of a crisis or other major event, we can predict what those with this conspiratorial mindset will come up with as an explanation. I’m curious to see if we can come up with their unique conspiracy theories before they do. Maybe the next time we see something big break in the news if we can successfully conduct this experiment here at denialism blog.

To sum up, this is a well-written engaging book that should serve as a resource for anyone interested in critical thinking, and just as a fascinating story of how things can go awry in the public understanding of science. It’s also the best work I’ve seen so far in evaluating the psychology of the believers causing all the trouble. This is a subject which needs more attention, and I hope to write about it more in the future.

So buy it! All royalties go to the purchase of anti-retrovirals for people in Africa, so you not only help yourself but you help undo some of the damage done by denialists like Duesberg and Mbeki.

Comments

  1. #1 J Todd DeShong
    May 25, 2009

    Excellent review! I completely agree that the head smacking is what really gets to me as well. I used to think the ignorance of these people was funny, and that they just had not had anyone who took the time to carefully explain the science to them! Then I decided to give up and just ridicule them for my personal enjoyment. But they have such crazy, ridiculous beliefs that they hold onto with such tenacity, that they even steal some of the joy I get from ridiculing them! But, I will keep up the fun as long as I can retain my sanity.
    JTD

  2. #2 your_homework
    May 26, 2009

    Sorry, but I have to object with the whole premise of the ordinary nature of these denialists. Arendt’s observations of Eichmann were skewed as she didn’t attend the days in which Eichmann’s evil intentions were shown. The Stanford Experiment is a rather poor experiment that I wish would be expunged from citations if only because of the complete lack of scientific rigor in the process, and the Milgram experiment does not necessarily conclude the existence of the banality of evil.

    And overall, I don’t find the argument that these people are not willfully doing wrong very appealing. Those that are actively participating in denialism must have, at some point, decided that everyone else’s reasoning is flawed/inarguable to the point that they must rebel against it and do things that go against mainstream science. It’s unimaginable arrogance to think that you (and a handful of others) are the only ones who have figured out that HIV does not cause AIDS while thousands of researchers work night and day on curing this disease believing that HIV causes AIDS.

    This is not to say that going against conventional thoughts implies doing evil. I am saying that, in science, if you are going to contest a theory, you better have good enough evidence, enough to persuade the majority of the scientific community. By skipping this step and going right out into the public and putting your theory into action you are going against the most important aspects of science. You are being arrogant, and in some strong cases, evil.

    So I will not let these people off the hook that easily. Though I would, in most circumstances, refrain from using morals when discussing denialists because it’s never a good idea to call your opponent evil: it either makes them feel like a supervillian and/or it allows them the ability to justify their claims of your impartiality to the subject.

    Other than that, the book sounds pretty interesting.

  3. #3 Richard Eis
    May 26, 2009

    If the vitamin pushers etc… are not included then you are missing a large chunk of personality types and if they are the ones that started it and help along these silly memes then you are still missing a large chunk of the denialist picture.

    Of course it’s a start and as we have seen with Randi’s million dollar challenge, trying to pin down the profit makers is rarely possible.

  4. #4 claire
    May 26, 2009

    Looks like an interesting book, i’ll be looking out for it.

    For those interested in this kind of thing, the final chapter of Ben Goldacre’s book is available at http://www.badscience.net, and deals with some similar topics, albeit from a less deteminedly calm stance……

  5. #5 Sokratis
    May 26, 2009

    The actual real and hidden truth is that the late nuclear test that took place in North Korean territory is a US nuclear test.
    The US have to conceal their nuclear testing because they have been banned. Thus the N. Korean regime has offered itself to play the role of the illegal tester, as it is already named a rogue state and has nothing to lose. N. Korea actually profits from an underground pact with the US.
    Of course, HIV is another case of a secret plot. It happens all the time.
    Also, Earth is flat.
    Noah’s Arc was found by the Soviets and that’s why they let their communism “fall”. The truth is they have turned the US communist and now you find American soldiers in Afganistan.

    The Simpsons should be taken more seriously.

  6. #6 Paul Browne
    May 26, 2009

    Thanks for bringing this book to my attention, I’ll have to get hold of a copy.

    I’m not sure that it’s helpful to refer to Tabo Mbeki as a “moron”. While he has shown himself to have very poor judgement on several occasions and is clearly prone to a form of self delusion similar to the crank magnetism that is often discussed on science blogs he is clearly not a moron, indeed if he had been he would probably have done far less damage.

  7. #7 Michelle Schatzman
    May 26, 2009

    Come on, Sokratis, didn’t you know that the Korean bomb is a zionist conspiracy? By the way, the divorce of the cousin of your sister-in-law also, I am sorry to tell you.

  8. #8 MarkH
    May 26, 2009

    Your homework,
    I do think it’s an important lesson of history that pretty ordinary people have done terrible things when a defective ideology has controlled their lives. Terrible things are done by ordinary people with good intentions. That doesn’t forgive them, it just is a problem we should not overlook.

    Thabo Mbeki may be clever, or wily, but I’m still going to have to insist on calling him a moron. These people, I think including Duesberg, are kind of idiots. I’m stunned by their stupidity. Duesberg’s is somewhat willful, he seems to have the potential to be bright, but his intellect is dragged down by his need to be contrarian and fixed on this single, absurd belief.

  9. #9 James Sweet
    May 26, 2009

    To back up MarkH on the banality of evil thing, let’s take anti-vaxers as an example. Surely, folks like Jenny McCarthy have done massive amounts of damage, and while she probably has good intentions, one could also argue it was for money. Who knows? But the dirty work of the AoAs and the McCarthys is done by a hundred thousand mothers whose concern for their children is legitimate, but unfortunately whose ratio of scientific acumen to time spent surfing on the internet is dangerously low. I’m not talking about their own refusal; I am talking about how this affects their peer groups.

    It’s one thing to see Jenny McCarthy spew rancid cow shit out of her mouth… it’s another thing entirely if a couple of the moms in your play group aren’t vaccinating either. All of a sudden, it’s not just a scary thing you saw on TV, it’s also a legitimate thing to do in your peer group. This is especially true when — as is the case 99+% of the time — nothing bad actually happens to the non-vaxers they know.

    That is where the banality of evil lies… in the literally hundreds of thousands of moms who aren’t even anti-vax campaigners, but who might offhandedly mention to their friend, “I would never put those toxins in my kid.”

  10. #10 Michael Geiger
    May 26, 2009

    Mark,

    You say you see red when reading about the 330,000 who have purportedly died as a result of hiv/aids denialism. You fail to note that the study was done by Max Essex et al at Harvard. Essex is one of the handful of original retrovirologists (six to be exact) who has had a personal and vocal vendetta against Duesberg since before before the first gay man ever died in 1981 of what is called AIDS. I doubt you even know who Max Essex is. Other than a hack veterinarian who became one of the first “retrovirologists”, he is anything but an impartial unbiased observer. His fortunes and position have been tied to upholding the retroviral theory of disease causation since the 1970′s. Max Essex’s latest so-called “study” of the effects of “denialism”, is just one more of his unending attacks on Duesberg since the 1970′s. The study is based on slipshod guesses and estimates and extrapolations, and is full of shite. According to the SA health department, fully 80 percent of the presumed “aids” deaths in South Africa are TB deaths in those who tested HIV positive (while ignoring that TB is well known to create the antibodies that register as HIV on the elisa and WB tests, and furthermore, are in those who live in the ghettos of SA who are saddled with extreme poverty, malnutrition, and sewers running through their streets.

    Have you been to the ghettos of South Africa? No. You have not. You are clueless. AIDS and TB are no problem for 99.999% of those in SA who have jobs, food, money, and are better off. Yet they often have more unprotected sex than those who live in poverty. AIDS and TB are only found to be a problem where high stress and poverty itself is creating massive stress and problems. So Mbeki was obviously right in pointing out that the disease and illnesses and deaths were due to poverty, not HIV.

    As a gay man, who has been “out” in the gay community since before the word AIDS meant anything but a teacher’s assistant, I assure you that you and your co-believers in HIV as the cause of AIDS are way off track. And I have been what you like to call a “denialist” long before I ever heard the name of Peter Duesberg.

    And I know from first hand experience in the gay communities how intensely and chronically stressed the affected in the gay community were. And I also know from first hand experience just how common intense drug abuse was and sometimes still is in the gay community.

    I also know from first hand experience that those taking high dose AZT that was given to all hiv positives from 87 to 95, along with the intense stress from the death diagnosis of AIDS was the cause of hundreds of thousands of gay mens deaths, that doctors such as YOU, Mark, are responsible for. I also know that liver failure is still the leading cause of death, again in those patients of doctors such as yourself, who would first scare their patients into toxic stress syndrome, then poison them with often highly toxic drugs.

    All of you faithful believers in HIV conveniently ignore that the HIV tests are non-specific tests that were designed not to diagnose HIV, but to be broad spectrum tests to protect the blood supply from any possibility of getting diseases from us presumed to be dirty infected gay boys.

    You also ignore the well proven causes of immune suppression such as putting people into high stress. That would qualify you to be noted as one of the worst of medical doctors who would infuse your own fears and paranoias into those who you would treat.

    Not so much today here in the US, but back in the 80s and early 90′s when all hiv positives were given a death sentence, intense panic and chronic stress in the hiv diagnosed was the natural result.

    Chronic stress, as well as the fight or flight response that are activated when someone is highly stressed and panicked are well proven to cause the thymus, the very controller of the immune system and t-cells, to shut down. Yet you panicked preachers of death wish to blame this proven stress caused thymus and t-cell shutdown on the unproven hiv theory.

    By the way, Doc, no-one has ever died of AIDS. AIDS is a syndrome, it is not a specific cause of death. People die of actual direct causes, not of syndromes. Like

    Mark, you said: “Sometimes evil is perpetrated by those who are operating without ill intent within a framework that is twisted and wrong, and this is one of the most important lessons of history. Ordinary people who are perfectly normal are capable of doing great harm under the authority of those with radical ideology.”

    I, as a gay man who survived all of this by not listening to MD’s such as yourself, and many thousands of other gays who do the same, are fully aware that you and those like you, unknown even to your own conscious self, are simply a wanna-be good doctor who are unfortunately, quacks!

  11. #11 Frank
    May 26, 2009

    For over 20 years now, my life has been turned upside down because of lies, intimidation, fear, politics and governmental/pharma interests. It started when I was called into the doctor’s office at the hospital and was given the HIV+ label by my then doctor who had ordered a routine blood sample of mine to be tested. This happened at the Hospital Hemophilia clinic while in my late teens with my parents present. I was completely asymptomatic then, completely healthy in every way but in effect from that time onwards until today I was told that I would be very sick, would need to take drugs and was the carrier of an infectious disease. The whole HIV=AIDS=Death Dogma was in effect a self fulfilling prophecy for most hemophiliacs at that time. Most would invariably test positive for antibodies on the non specific test and were told that they would be at risk for death. Of course, hemophiliacs like myself were never told that the test itself is neither specific, standardized or approved for dianostic purposes. I was never told that hemophilia itself and the administration (injection) of clotting proteins for my illness was one of over 70 conditions which can cross react with the test kit proteins themselves to cause a false positive reaction on the test. Moreover, I wasn’t presented with with any proof whatsoever that a purported retrovirus called HIV?! was the cause of AIDS or that my antibody response was an indication of infection.

    On behalf of my fellow hemophiliacs and all those harmed by the HIV=AIDS=Death Dogma I demand the full restoration of truth, reconciliation, compensation and reparations be restored back to our lives. Our stories need to be told and our voices must be heard. Now. When I think back to the mid 80s and early 90s when the fears of an epidemic were heightened, I realize that there was no examination of evidence or correction when the theory failed to fit facts and reality. All we got was fear campaigns, and more testing and treatments with toxic drugs. In fact, up to the time of the AIDS era the mortality rate of hemophiliacs that had died over the years was fairly predictable and life expectancy had dramatically improved with the higher quality of clotting treatments that had become more readily available. However, the massive sudden increase in deaths can be directly correlated with the use of AZT and other toxic drugs soon prescribed on a prophylactic basis. This is the absolute truth that has been covered up for so many years. i strongly believe that the record and documenatation of the deaths of so many hemophiliacs should be exposed in a court of law that really seeks to set the record straight. In my view the drug deaths of my peers is tantamount to murder.

    The truth with regards to the events of those years has indeed become much clearer and can easily be verified. Virtually all hemophiliacs on heavy drug regimens were killed off quickly. Most of them were asymptomatic at the time the AIDS treatment regimens were imposed on them. A few lucky survivors regained health when the drug regimens they were on was significantly reduced or ended. The very lucky ones like me who refused the drugs from day one have remained 100% healthy to this day. Yet all this evidence has been ignored and I still see that patients are being poisoned at the hospital to this day 2008! If there is any lesson I have learned over the years is that if we don’t fully unite together to fight the oppressors of the HIV/AIDS orthodoxy and their monetary interests they will continue without conscience as their crimes become ever more heinous in scope and magnitude on human life. Consider for instance how the definition of AIDS has changed numerous times when predictions of doom and so called infectious epidemics never materialized. We have an incubation period that once started out between 2-5 years when AZT monotherapy was prescribed that now stretches up to 30 years and beyond. A myriad number of diseases have been added to the mix like cervical cancer which are not even immune related. Furthermore, the usage of wholly inaccurate methodologies like the unspecific antibody itself, T cell counting and viral load tests have been proven to be false, misleading and I would say outright criminal in their application on healthy asymptomatic people. It should be noted too that the number one cause of deaths of HIV+’s today is liver and/or kidney failure which is definitively a direct result of drug toxicity and cannot be attributed to any hypothetical virus.

    On a personal level, I have had to live with the constant pressure to take the highly toxic HIV medications by my doctors and nurses for many years. My decision to take charge of my situation and refuse the toxic medications from the beginning indeed saved my life. While I feel fortunate to be alive when so many HIV positives died needlessly on the meds, it has saddened me greatly that the overall arrogance of the medical community has prevented correction of the current terrible state of affairs. To be told time and time again that you are “sick” and at “grave risk for impending death” for so many years, I believe is extremely psychologically damaging. A complete never ending nightmare! I have had many suicidal thoughts over the years. A few HIV positive friends of mine have admitted to me that they have come painfully close to the act of suicide itself. Because of the intense social isolation, psychological pressure, stigmatization and sense of utter hopelessness (that comes with the diagnosis), it is not surprising that suicide is the second leading cause of death of HIV positives.

    It must be pointed out that being HIV positive is analogous to being the societal equivalent of being a “social leper”. The judicial system and media have portrayed us as spreaders of disease, killers, murderers, and purveyors of death, etc. The truth of the matter that there is NO scientific proof that HIV causes AIDS or is sexually transmitted is conveniently ignored. The famous Padian study meticulously documented irrefuteable data showing no seroconversions occurring among hundreds of discordant couples having unprotected sex for upwards of ten years. All the predictions by the AIDS orthodoxy of mass epidemics afflicting the earth killing millions never materialized. Dr. De Cock of UN AIDS’ confirmation that the prior predictions of mass epidemics in the 80s was false was an admission of a failed theory, a sinking ship as it were sturggling to stay afloat against the changing tides. Moreover, Dr. De Cock confirmed that the theory had “0″ predictive value and that statistics had been fraudulently manipulated in conjunction with propaganda “fear campaigns” to benefit mass pharma profiteering and genocidal drug campaigns worldwide.

    The irrational policies of the AIDS orthodoxy have led to the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of innocent people for having consensual sex. It has destroyed lives, families and relationships. I have been terrorized by the institutional violence wrought by these policy makers. I have felt much sadness and frustration to read about HIV postives being flashed in the newspapers, paraded in the courts and treated like grotesque circus freaks. The apparent failure of the judicial system to properly examine and reject the fraudulent non science of the HIV theory will in my view undoubtedly geatly stain their collective reputations for many years in the future. In my view, their approval of the status quo represents tacit complicity and support of the real criminal murderers protected in the AIDS orthodoxy. The failure of the courts to allow debate and answer basic questions only adds to the growing stench of the ongoing coverup. Why have AIDS researchers refused to debate dissident scientists for 20 years? Why have the AIDS corporate nterests been able to evade the serious charges of fraud and scientific misconduct levelled at them by sincere oourageous scientists bearing no conflicts of interest? Who are the real “Denialists”? Why have AIDS doctors, pharma reps, governmental officials, etc. not yet answered for the deaths, disfigurement, stigmatization and terror imposed on HIV postives for decades? It seems clear now that the impending loss of power, money, prestige and public credibility is at the root of keeping the fraud alive in the face of so much evidence and opposition continually raised against it.

    It is my view that the disgraceful treatment of latter day ‘lepers’ (now euphemistically called “HIV Positives”) dragged into the courts to be mocked, prodded and jailed will not be easily forgotten. History will look back very harshly on the barbarism and betrayal by trusted institutions and the government on innocents.

    Now in my late 30s I face the future with a great deal of hope that better days lie ahead for myself and all those oppressed by the rules imposed on us by all those profitting from the HIV=AIDS=DEATH dogma. Collectively we must seize this movement and demand our freedom and compensation for the many crimes that have been perpetrated against us all. Personally I have been stigmatized and lived with much discrimination 24/7 because of the lies and the rules that have been associated with them over the years. The emotional toll of being “branded” so to speak has been an enormous imposition to me, affecting virtually every aspect of my day to day life. Virtually all my relationships have been short lived and I could not continue with some of my career plans as I had originally envisioned back in my 20s.

    When I consider the billions of dollars of profits pharma and governmental interests have made criminally on the lives of innocents without any correction, re-examination or apology, etc. for all these years it makes me feel very sick inside. If justice can be found in court, then they should have to give back their profits to the victims. I call out to you all, my brothers and sisters, to fight the tyranny which has damaged our lives until our freedom is finally fully restored.

  12. #12 Deny This!
    May 26, 2009

    Hey Mark, your comment fits you and your cohorts to a Tee.

    “Mark”,
    I do think it’s an important lesson of history that pretty ordinary people have done terrible things when a defective ideology has controlled their lives. Terrible things are done by ordinary people with good intentions. That doesn’t forgive them, it just is a problem we should not overlook.

    Mark Hoofnagle may be clever, or wily, but I’m still going to have to insist on calling him a moron. These people, I think including Gallo and Anthony Fauci, are kind of idiots. I’m stunned by their stupidity. Gallo’s is somewhat willful, he seems to have the potential to be bright, but his intellect is dragged down by his need to be important and fixed on this single, absurd belief.

  13. #13 Deny This!
    May 26, 2009

    Or how about this?

    I do think it’s an important lesson of history that pretty ordinary people have done terrible things when a defective ideology has controlled their lives. Terrible things are done by ordinary people with good intentions. That doesn’t forgive them, it just is a problem we should not overlook.

    Seth Kalichman may be clever, or wily, but I’m still going to have to insist on calling him a moron. These people, I think including Hoofnagle and his brother Chris, Palmd, Tara, and David Gorsky are kind of idiots. I’m stunned by their stupidity. Gallo, Temin, Baltimore, Fauci, and Max Essex are somewhat willful, they seem to have the potential to be bright, but their intellect is dragged down by their need to be right, regardless of the evidence that refutes them, and they are fixed on this single, absurd retroviral theory belief. But then again, all of them also believed in Saddam Hussein’s mass weapons of destruction, showing them to be panicky fear based and irrational individuals.

  14. #14 Doctor, Heal Thyself!
    May 26, 2009

    “To this day, when I read about HIV/AIDS denialists, and the the 330,000 people who have died as a result of HIV/AIDS denialism, I see red. I think violent, bloody thoughts.”

    Violent bloody thoughts? Violent bloody thoughts? Violent bloody thoughts?

    Mark, this is evidence that you are undoubtedly an unbalanced and disturbed individual who really should not be practicing medicine on patients until you get treatment for your violent and hateful personality issues. Surely, you have unresolved childhood issues that are crying out for you to attend to them.

    Doctor, Heal Thyself.

    Oh, and by the way, I would not suggest going to Seth Kalichman for your psych problems. He is even more disturbed than you are.

    I do hope you find healing Mark.

  15. #15 LanceR, JSG
    May 26, 2009

    Wow. The crazy is strong today.

    Normal people *do* get angry when faced with insanity that kills. This is normal.

    HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. There is no debate on this. And before anyone soils themselves with “But it hasn’t been isolated”, that is also a lie.

    For pete’s sake, people, get a grip. Then get a clue. Then get a life.

  16. #16 MarkH
    May 26, 2009

    We don’t argue with cranks here, get lost. And my intolerance for people whose stupidity results in the deaths of hundreds of thousands is not something that I would change, even if I could.

    Further HIV/AIDS denial on this post will be summarily deleted and commenters banned.

  17. #17 J Todd DeShong
    May 26, 2009

    I win! I sucessfully bet that it would take the crazies less than 24 hours to bring full throttle stupid to this post!
    I wonder if the denialists sniff out these blogs like sharks smell blood in water?
    JTD

  18. #18 jre
    May 26, 2009

    JT, you need to get your bet down in time (not that there would have been any takers).
    Let’s look at the timing. Comments came in at a leisurely pace for about fourteen hours, then came a bolus of five rants in about a half-hour. If you could do contact tracing, you could probably find blog zero. I see that the link from aidstruth.org precedes Michael Geiger’s comment by a half-hour, raising the interesting possibility that those commenters came here not at the urging of a denialist website, but after doing a bit of opposition research.

    Michael, Frank, DT, DHT — how about it? Care to tell us how you learned of this post?

  19. #19 Michael
    May 26, 2009

    Yes, jre, and it is all rather simple.

    Every morning I check out a few blogs and google the issue a bit. I googled “denying aids” to see if there were any fresh rants from Kalichman on his own blog, and Mark Hoofnagle’s new post came up on the search. I contacted Frank (and a couple of others) to see if he, as a hemophiliac who has been deeply impacted by this, wanted to share his own personal perspective on the issue.

    And, as Mark undoubtedly wants to share his view with as wide an audience as possible, I am sure that Mark will appreciate that I have also posted a note about Mark’s post to Dr. Henry Bauer’s hiv/aids skeptic blogsite. As Henry has done a series of exposes on Seth Kalichman, and as he has a very high number of daily readers and followers, there will undoubtedly be many other hiv skeptics as well as those just beginning to research the issues, now perusing Mark’s rather revealing yet censorial perspective. The note I left on Bauer’s blog is in one of Dr. Bauer’s threads about Kalichman and is at the following:

    http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/kalichman-disclaims-and-makes-ad-homonym-attacks-does-illiteracy-matter-kalichman’s-komical-kaper-9/#comment-3618

  20. #20 MarkH
    May 26, 2009

    Boys, don’t encourage them. There is no point engaging cranks in debate. We want to inform people and immunize them against this nonsense, not pretend like cranks are capable of changing their opinions.

  21. #21 Ktesibios
    May 26, 2009

    Thanks for the review. Kalichman’s book is on my list for my regular Sunday afternoon bookstore run.

    My own particular interest in the world of woo is paranoid conspiracism, but since conspiracist thinking is so common among health cranks and both the tinfoil-hat brigade and quackery enthusiasts seem to share a lot of the same broken methods of thinking I hope that a reading of Denying AIDS will provide some insight into just how people develop the knack of getting it wrong so consistently and why they cling so aggressively to the wrongness.

  22. #22 Sokratis
    May 26, 2009

    To the friend that says that 80% of deaths in S. Africa were actually because of TB and not AIDS:
    Nobody dies of AIDS per se. AIDS causes immune deficiency, which in turn causes death because the patient is exposed to tenths of serious illnesses that finally kill.
    The death certificate of a person that suffers from heart disease does not indicate that the cause of death was lack of oxygen; the heart disease is mentioned as cause of death.
    Mind you, I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but some things are quite clear.

  23. #23 jre
    May 26, 2009

    Boys, don’t encourage them. There is no point engaging cranks in debate.

    Mark, don’t misunderstand. It is useful to know how Michael Geiger found the post, that he recruited the other commenters, and that he continues to follow the thread. I have no illusions that anyone’s mind will or could be changed by trying to debate the issues (especially after seeing some of the food-fights at Tara’s blog). To change my mind (to choose a trivial example) would require a body of research explaining all the existing data better than the prevailing theory. To change Michael Geiger’s mind would require … well, a lightning strike, at least. But remember — arguing that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS is his life. If he isn’t writing this stuff here, he’s writing it somewhere else. Better here than out there corrupting the innocent, I say. Think of it as throwing yourself on the grenade of loony.

  24. #24 Anonymous
    May 26, 2009

    Posted by: llewelly | May 26, 2009 2:12 AM

    The Maya did not go ‘extinct’ in 900 CE . Instead, it was the large cities of the southern lowlands which went into decline and were abandoned in the 8th and 9th century (yes, that’s roughly by 900 CE). This marked the end of the ‘Classic’ period. However, the cities of the northern lowlands in the Yucatan, including Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Edzna, Mayapan, and Coba, continued to flourish until about 1450 CE. At that time there was widespread revolt, Mayapan was sacked and burned, and the other cities went into decline. Although no Maya city-state after Mayapan ever ruled over so many other city-states, Chichen Itza and other Maya cities remained inhabited and ruled by various Maya peoples until the Spanish conquered the Yucatan in the 1540s. (The Itza Maya of the Peten basin were not conquered by the Spanish until about 1697 or so.)

    It’s quite common for superficial histories of Mesoamerica to treat the end of the Classic Maya period as the end of the Maya, and ignore the Post-Classic period. But this wrong for many reasons; not the least that the Maya maintained a complex civilization for centuries after, which successfully fought off the first two Spanish attempts to conquer it (one in the 1520s and one in the 1530s).

  25. #25 jre
    May 26, 2009

    Now, llewelly, in the interest of symmetry you really ought to be posting a comment on HIV denialism over at Pharyngula.

  26. #26 J Todd DeShong
    May 26, 2009

    Mark, out of respect, I just wanted you to know I did not mean to engage the crazies…nor even look them in the eye!
    However, as a proof of just how crazy Geiger is, (and how much fun can be derived from knowing their antics) I give you the following:
    This comes from a very trusted source…

    Robert Gallo was in Israel last week collecting an award from one of the country’s major scientific institutions. Michael Geiger wrote to all the people associated with the award, perhaps 25 or so, all senior Israeli scientists, demanding that the award be revoked (for all the usual denialist reasons). But of course he did so in classic Geiger style, rambling, incoherent, etc. And he closed by offering “a deal” – if “the State of Israel” revoked the award at the last minute, he (Michael Geiger) would devote the rest of his life to working to advance Israel’s political and social agenda. For reasons that I am at a loss to understand, this generous and utterly appealing offer was declined. What a shame – someone with the literary and diplomatic skills of Michael Geiger could no doubt have brought Iran to the peace table in no time at all.
    JTD

  27. #27 Travis
    May 26, 2009

    So I hears that Robert Gallo was in Israel last week collecting an award from one of the country’s major scientific institutions. Michael Geiger wrote to all the people associated with the award, perhaps 25 or so, all senior Israeli scientists, demanding that the award be revoked (for all the usual denialist reasons). But of course he did so in classic Geiger style, rambling, incoherent, etc. as you see above. He closed by offering “a deal” – if “the State of Israel” revoked the award at the last minute, he (Michael Geiger)would devote the rest of his life to working to advance israel’s political and social agenda. For reasons that I am at a loss to
    understand, this generous offer was declined……. What a shame – someone with the literary and diplomatic skills of Michael Geiger could no doubt have brought Iran to the peace table in no time at all, I mean the Great AIDS Denialist and the Great Holocaust Denialist would have quite the meeting of the mindless.

  28. #28 Joe Stokely
    May 26, 2009

    [comments deleted - HIV/AIDS denial will not be tolerated at this site]

  29. #29 LanceR, JSG
    May 26, 2009

    Reading comprehension FAIL!

  30. #30 NUTCracker
    May 26, 2009

    Joe Stokely? The husband of Karri Stokely? The Stokely’s of Tampa?
    I saw pictures of you and your whacked out wife manning a booth for Rethinking AIDS with your kids! I mean, like 10 or 12 year old son and daughter. Are you actually feeding this crap to your kids? Did the kids make the signs saying HIV testing is flawed? Man, what the f#@k is wrong with you? Has anyone reported you to Child Protective Services for child endangerment yet? Dude, take those pictures off the rethinking AIDS site. You and Karri look creepier than Gomez and Morticia.

  31. #31 morten
    May 27, 2009

    It looks like the deniers are all up in arms because Kalichman was able to fool them and go “undercover” and “infiltrate” their network! (Just do a google search on “Henry Bauer and Komical Kapers” or “Seth Kalichman and Joe Newton”.)

    I say, Kudos to Kalichman! If that’s what it takes to expose these murderous scum, more power to him!

  32. #32 Michael
    May 27, 2009

    Interesting! Please type this for another topic. Regards to the author

  33. #33 Michael Geiger
    May 27, 2009

    [comments deleted - HIV/AIDS denial will not be tolerated at this site]

  34. #34 Michael Geiger
    May 27, 2009

    [comments deleted - HIV/AIDS denial will not be tolerated at this site]

  35. #35 Michael Geiger
    May 27, 2009

    [comments deleted - HIV/AIDS denial will not be tolerated at this site]

  36. #36 Michael Geiger
    May 27, 2009

    [comments deleted - HIV/AIDS denial will not be tolerated at this site]

  37. #37 LanceR, JSG
    May 27, 2009

    Wow. Persistent *AND* stupid. That’ll serve him well in the real world!

  38. #38 trrll
    May 27, 2009

    This illustrates a style of denialist debating that is sometimes known as the “Gish Gallop,” after a notorious evolution denialist. It is particularly effective in live debate, and a major reason why scientists are cautioned not to engage denialists in oral debates. The strategy is to attempt to drown the opposition in a lengthy litany of fallacies, false assertions, out-of-context quotes, and ad hominem accusations. Because each claim requires even more space/time to rebut, a respondent must either generate an involved, prohibitively lengthy rebuttal, or (probably the true goal) give up in disgust, allowing the false claims to stand unchallenged.

    One way in which denialist argumentation differs from scientific debate is that a scientist will carefully discuss prior work, and offer rebuttals to contrary arguments advanced by others. But denialists invariably present each claim as though it is without history, never acknowledging the fact that that it has been repeatedly rebutted. This is one reason why books such as this one and online compendia of denialist arguments such as AidsTruth.org are valuable.

  39. #39 Seth Kalichman
    May 28, 2009

    LanceR
    Too bad Michael Geiger does not live in the real world. Tragic that he dedicates his sorry life to dragging others into denial with him.

  40. #40 GaryB, FCD
    May 30, 2009

    Dr. Kalichman, have you ever investigated the AGW deniers? After years of dealing with creationists I noticed that the AGW deniers use very similar tactics. Is the set of tactics universal across denial groups, or is that just my biases at work?

  41. #41 Seth Kalichman
    May 30, 2009

    GaryB
    I have only dedicated significant time to studying AIDS denialists. However, it does not take much investigation to see that true denialism is a form of psychopathology. There are all types involved in denialism, a garden variety. But true denialists, like Christine Maggiore, Peter Duesberg, Brian Carter, Karri Stokey, and others whose self preservation demands that they must believe that HIV does not cause AIDS, represent what the American Psychiatric Association calls Malignant Denial. Psychiatry is considering making Malignant Denial an official diagnosis, but not yet. When you look at it this way it is not surprising that all denialists use the same ‘tactics’. A most recent connection has been medical denialism in childhood autism and AIDS. I have posted about it at my blog http://denyingaids.blogspot.com

  42. #42 Richard Karpinski
    June 1, 2009

    When I read “blocking out the son” I suddenly realized how much care you take in writing your blog. May I presume the same care is exercised in researching and composing your review of the book you discuss? I am glad you are not nearby to me in any way.

  43. #43 Richard Karpinski
    June 1, 2009

    Now I see that your quotes from the book are as carefully done as the quotes in the book itself. For example see “she states that all babies born to HIV positive mothers are born HIV positive and that all babies born to HIV positive mothers are born HIV positive and that most”.

  44. #44 Travis
    June 1, 2009

    You AIDS deniers are really something. So quick to point out a typo and yet you accept the most obvious crap as gospel from the likes of Duesberg, Bauer, Rasnick etc. Its like you have an IQ of 60 with the ability to attend to excessive detail. Know that is called? An idiot.

  45. #45 Richard Karpinski
    June 3, 2009

    I don’t deny AIDS. A very good friend had it and died.

    Do you know the stats on tuberculosis deaths in South Africa since say 1950? Wolfram Alpha couldn’t tell me but I think it may be important to know that.

  46. #46 Espinola Taylor
    June 3, 2009

    I am like Richard Karpinski. I have had to good friends die from AIDS. They were husband and wife.

  47. #47 Dick Taylor
    June 4, 2009

    Rchrd sd: &qt; dn’t dny DS. vry gd frnd hd t nd dd.&qt;

    spnl sd: &qt; hv hd t gd frnds d frm DS.&qt;

    sy:

    Y r bth fll f t. DS s nt cs f dth. t s dfntn fr syndrm f ny f nrly 30 dsss, r f lw CD4 T cll cnt, PLS th dgnss f HV.

    Yr frnds dd nt d f 30 dsss, nd thy dd nt d smply f lw t-cll cnt. Thy dd f vry spcfc css sch s pcp pnmn r lvr r rgn flr. Wht wr th xct css f dth???

    ftn tms th dth crtfcts smply sd &qt;cmplctns f ds&qt;. Ths cld mn nythng ncldng txc rctns t ds drgs.

    f y wnt t ntpck, Mr. Krpnsk, thn ntpck ths!

  48. #48 steve
    June 6, 2009

    Science is the new religion, the absolute word. Do not EVER question IT or you will be punished.

  49. #49 LanceR, JSG
    June 6, 2009

    Right. Another moron who can’t read, doesn’t understand science, and thinks he knows something.

    Do tell us all, Steve… what happens when someone “questions” science?

  50. #50 Skemono
    June 6, 2009

    Do tell us all, Steve… what happens when someone “questions” science?

    We don our holy raiments (lab coats) and slaughter the infidel, his children, his cousins, yea unto the seventh generation, to make sure that the perfidious gene that makes him blaspheme the holy name of Science is removed from the gene pool.

    Right? I mean, we’re a religion, yah?

  51. #51 orlando
    June 9, 2009

    Yes, Michael, thank you for the predictable diatribe. You know, you should be a fiction writer, but unfortunately the story you are on for many years is about reality – the reality that Maggiore, Pasquarelli and many others are dead, Continuum defunct and many heal chapters closed. And thats how reality looks like. Confronted with these facts, which are sad but true, you tell everyone that it is because of Stress, being in the AIDS- Zone, taking more or less legal drugs, too much junkfood and what not. By those standards everyone should die early of aids.
    Of course, you cant really cite a single scientific study to base your believes on, not that you wont come up with loads of misrepresentations of said science…and so on…

    Last was, again sad but true, Maggiore and her Daughter. How many more?
    And: are you ready to take the responsibility for all of this if you should find out that you where wrong?

  52. #52 Matthew
    June 9, 2009

    I like reading good science writings, but what I don’t like is emotional arguments in science. It’s like politics: the convincing is done not by any rational argument, but by mass appeal.

    This topic is like that. Comparing these denialists to killers. Lots of innuendos they’re completely wrong before looking at the facts. Conclusions before arguments.

    Hey, they may be completely bonkers, but science is science. Science is great when it’s divorced from sides and mass-emotion. This isn’t.

  53. #53 LanceR, JSG
    June 9, 2009

    Not even wrong, Matthew. The facts *have* been examined. The “conclusions before arguments” is all coming from the deniers.

    You may not like emotional arguments. That’s unfortunate. Science gets pretty heated sometimes. That’s a healthy sign of a robust debate. It is generally people with no real argument who decry “incivility” and “emotional appeals”.

    In short, your concern is noted.

  54. #54 nasza-gwara
    June 12, 2009

    Really, very interesting topic. If possible, please more information. This is one of the better blogs that I read.

  55. #55 fifa
    June 22, 2009

    Yes, I did not expect such a topic. But seems to be interesting. Please read comments. Yours

  56. #56 Jim Lippard
    October 10, 2009

    “He forgets to mention Michael Fumento as a denialist for his promotion of the myth that heterosexual sex does not transmit HIV.”

    That’s a misrepresentation.

    Fumento’s book, _The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS_, does not argue that heterosexual sex doesn’t transmit HIV–in fact, he explicitly wrote the opposite (including on the back cover: “The ‘myth’ of heterosexual AIDS consists of a series of myths, one of which is not that heterosexuals get AIDS. They certainly do get it …”). Rather, it argues that non-IV-drug using heterosexuals are at relatively low risk (though men are more likely to transmit HIV to women than vice versa), and that heterosexual transmission of HIV is unlikely to result in a heterosexual AIDS epidemic in the U.S. The CDC data subsequent to his book’s publication has largely supported the positions he staked out in his book.

    I don’t think Fumento’s the most reliable source–he’s clearly a polemicist with his own axes to grind–but that particular book of his was, in hindsight, far more accurate than scare-mongering predictions of a heterosexual AIDS epidemic.

  57. #57 Denizli
    October 11, 2009

    That’s a healthy sign of a robust debate. It is generally people with no real argument who decry “incivility” and “emotional appeals”.
    ——-
    Denizli