I was really mad this morning. I glanced at my new issue of Discover, and noticed yet another article glorifying HIV Deniers. Its not online yet, but its a seven page spread on Peter Duesberg.
So I brought it to work with me so everyone had to vomit as much as I did. They changed my perspective a bit.
First, Im still mad, but Im not as mad. I dont think they are glorifying him– I think theyre playing to the ‘fair and balanced all sides’ game that ‘journalists’ think is so clever these days, which is still pathetic.
On the one hand, Jeanne Lenzer plays off of EXPELLEDs theme. You could hear ‘Bad to the Bone’ playing as Duesberg walked down the street with his bike, being described as a ‘golden boy’ turned ‘bad boy of science.’ ‘Radical new theory getting serious attention’. Photos of Duesberg in a lab coat. Looking angelically into the distance. Persecuted to such extremes he no longer can afford his two personal secretaries (excuse me, how many scientists have a personal secretary??). And like William Dembski who can no longer use his Baylor ID card at Baylors cafeteria, Duesberg is no longer invited to colleagues houses to stay, for free, during conferences.
And gosh, hes saved so many lives! Why Billy Bob has been HIV+ for 23 years and hasnt taken any drugs!
On the other hand, this article does seem to paint Duesberg as a delusional old Nazi, commenting on how he flippantly refers to blacks as ‘Schwartzes’. Though she misses the opportunity to point out that idiots like Rev Wright say that HIV was invented to kill black people… and use ‘evidence’ provided by a racist ass to that effect… ugh.
That being said… Who cares if Duesberg is an ass? Im an ass to the degree I dont care if youre an ass as long as your science is good. Sure Id prefer to work with nice people, but I can deal with assholes as long as their science is good.
That is where this article fails miserably. Duesberg made some goddamn stupid comments in this article like:
“He knew that HIV is a retrovirus– the subject of his own heralded research– and that retroviruses dont kill the host cells they infect. If anything, they make them proliferate.”
No. One problem I have with my experiments is that I sometimes put too much virus on my cells, and I kill them all. By ‘kill them all’, I mean 48 hours after I put viruses on, say, 100,000 cells, they are all dead. Nothing is left but scraps of cell membrane. HIV-1 kills the cells it infects. Btw, this might be a side effect of Ms. Lenzer of being lazy, but its HIV-1. Not ‘HIV’. I might not be anal about apostraphes, but I am on that point. HIV ≠ HIV-1≠HIV-2. HIV-1 and 2 are different but related creatures, with different evolutionary histories. lol! I guess its like a primatologist getting irritated when someone calls a chimpanzee a ‘monkey’.
Hes also got some prize pig statements about a disease that often goes hand-in-hand with AIDS, Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Duesberg appears baffled by epidemiological studies of HHV8 (human herpes virus 8). HHV8 is kinda like Mono (EBV). Its usually fairly harmless… unless you become immunocompromised, like through AIDS or organ transplant, and you get KS lesions. Its not transferred blood-to-blood, so you cant get it through blood transfusions or IV-drug-use. This floors Duesberg:
Since nitrites (referring to poppers, cause Grannies making home-made cool-whip get AIDS from poppers) are powerful carcinogens, Duesberg thought this explained why gay men frequently developed KS but other risk groups, such as hemophiliacs and heterosexual drug abusers rarely did.
You dont get infected with HHV8 through blood. Hemophiliacs and heterosexual drug users are therefore not ‘other risk groups’ for HHV8. Theyre ‘other risk groups’ for HIV-1 because its blood born. Seriously, Duesberg? Seriously??
He makes other claims and demands about HIV-1 that go relatively unchallenged. Sure she puts in the ol ‘Other scientists dont agree’ crap, which is refuted with ‘But Nobel laureates agree with Duesberg!! Look here is an obstetrician that believes him!’. *rolleyes*
And then we stupid scientists are left with a stern warning from Ms. Lenzer:
Right or wrong, for more that two decades Duesberg has surely paid a price for his beliefs.
[when asked why he keeps pushing this issue] “I dont want to be ‘a good German.'”
Awwwwwwwww. Awww isnt that cute. Shorter Jeanne Lenzer:
The racist homophobe who has killed millions of people with his denialism has paid for his beliefs, you Nazis!
**flips off Jeanne Lenzer**
My final note on this article, should you happen to see it online as ‘support’ for Duesberg. Duesberg is a ‘scientist’ to the degree he has previously published nice science. But did he ever really understand what being a scientists means? In this article he sobs:
“We had vigorous debates. But I thought that was good science. You challenge ideas. I thought it was all in good spirit.”
Is that was Duesberg, and Creationists, think is ‘good science’? Being contrary? Debating things?
Of course a huge bit of fun in science is thought experiments– What was the world like 3 billion years ago?? How did retroviruses evolve? Are they young? Old? Are they our ancestors??
But those thoughts mean nothing if you dont back them up with experimental data. Not only that, if there are competing ‘thought experiments’ with data, you must take their data into account. Scientists are slaves to data. It doesnt matter if you are a racist, you beat puppies, or youre a nephew loving Creationist. If you have data to support your claims, we must accept your data.
Duesberg has painted himself into a corner in that no one trusts him anymore. He might have neato ideas on cancer, and no one will ever believe him because he blew his science ethos on batshit HIV crap. No one believes he ‘follows the data’ anymore, so his thought experiments cant be tested by him anymore. Hes lost control over his own ideas. He might as well be an undergrad again.
Hes the scientist who proclaimed the wolf was a figment of our imaginations and let millions of people die. No one is going to believe him when he says ‘WOLF!’ or ‘NOT WOLF!’ ever again.