Respectful Insolence

HIV/AIDS denialism versus science

As a skeptic and a blogger, my main interest has evolved to be the discussion of science-based medicine and how one can identify what in medicine is and is not based in science. Part of the reason for this is because of my general interest in skepticism dating back to my discovery that there actually are people who deny that the Holocaust ever happened, which led to a more general interest in pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and other non-evidence-based and non-science-based viewpoints that now includes quackery, anti-vaccine nonsense, 9/11 “Truth,” creationism, and anthropogenic global warming denialism, among other topics. Part of the reason is because, among various forms of pseudoscience, quackery and anti-vaccine views arguably have the potential to do the most direct and immediate harm to people. Teaching creationism will harm our nation in the future as it erodes the ability of young people to have a good grasp of biology that will have deleterious effects on our science effort years from now, and AGW denialism is likely to cause harm in decades to come if nothing is done to mitigate climate change, but quackery kills–and kills now. All of this is why, no matter how far I might stray from medicine from time to time, be it for a change of pace or just a desire to indulge my other interests for a while, I always eventually come home to discussing pseudoscience in medicine.

Among the various forms of pseudoscience in medicine, the two most potentially harmful are probably anti-vaccine beliefs and HIV/AIDS denialism. I write a lot about anti-vaccine pseudoscience here, but only occasionally about HIV/AIDS denialism, even though the latter has arguably done more concrete measurable harm to real people, particularly in Africa where, for instance, it was estimated that government policies in South Africa based on HIV/AIDS denialist beliefs have contributed to the preventable deaths of 330,000 people. Anti-vaccine activists haven’t been responsible for that body count–yet–at least in the modern era (but give them a chance). In any case, HIV/AIDS denialism is an excellent example of how the same sorts of arguments made for pseudoscience can, when applied to a subject like treating and preventing AIDS or vaccines, go from being curiosities that we skeptics like to dissect as intellectual exercises to being deadly threats to public health. At least, that was what I was thinking as I read a post I had come across by HIV/AIDS denialist Henry Bauer, who turns right into left, up into down, hot into cold, and intelligence into stupid with a post entitled HIV/AIDS exemplifies scientific illiteracy.

Yes, you read that right. Bauer thinks that the well-established, scientifically well-supported hypothesis that HIV causes AIDS exemplifies “scientific illiteracy.” In actuality, if he inserted the word “denialism” after “HIV/AIDS” he would have been a lot closer to the truth. But denialists are known for nothing if not for their utter lack of self-awareness when it comes to the pseudoscience behind their arguments, and that utter lack of self-awareness is very apparent in Bauer’s screed right from the very first passage:

HIV was never shown to have caused AIDS.

Nevertheless, during three decades huge arrays of people and organizations have become engaged in a variety of activities based on the mistaken belief that HIV is an infectious immune-system-killing virus that caused and continues to cause AIDS.

That such a mistake could metastasize so massively seems incredible to the conventional wisdom, which regards it as impossible that “science” could go so wrong — after all, this is a scientific age in which all manner of technological marvels are accomplished all the time; and science itself can’t go wrong because it uses the scientific method and is self-correcting.

Note that here, as in the rest of Bauer’s post, no evidence is provided to back up his assertions. Indeed, this is argument by assertion at its baldest. At its core, however, Bauer’s tactic is far more about casting doubt upon science itself than it is about providing actual evidence and doing actual science to demonstrate that the current scientific consensus about HIV causing AIDS is in serious error. In this post, Bauer is not about demonstrating that the evidence for the current consensus is seriously flawed or lacking and that the evidence supporting an alternative hypothesis is compelling enough to cast serious doubt on the current paradigm as the strongest explanation for how AIDS develops. He’s about misrepresenting science itself.

For example, Bauer seems obsessed with the self-correcting nature of science, but in the reverse direction. In other words, he’s obsessed with trying to convince readers that science is not self-correcting and consequently it’s wrong about HIV/AIDS and won’t let go of that hypothesis:

The conventional wisdom can hardly accept that it’s wrong about HIV/AIDS so long as it doesn’t realize that it’s wrong about science. It needs to be understood that

  1. Science is not self-correcting.
  2. Science is not done by “the scientific method”.
  3. Scientists are not the appropriate experts to explain science to policymakers, the public, or the media. On the whole*, scientists know only the technical intricacies of what they do; they don’t understand the epistemology and sociology of science and they are ignorant of or mistaken about the history of science.

In fact, Bauer repeats the very same three points in almost exactly the same way a little later in his post. OK, already. We get it. You don’t think that science corrects itself or that scientists actually use the scientific method. I’ll get back to that in a minute. What interests me is his other assertion, namely that for some reason scientists aren’t the appropriate experts to explain science to the public or the media. You know, whenever I hear someone say something like that I wonder to myself: If not scientists, then who? Who is “most appropriate” to explain science to non-scientists? The communication of science and medicine to lay people has been a major theme in this blog, one that I come back to periodically time and time again. It’s also not as though scientists themselves don’t ask how better to communicate science to the public and media. To some extent, science journalists and science writers can fill that role, but they can’t do it all any more than scientists can do it all. One reason is that non-scientists by their very nature will never attain the deep understanding of science and scientific issues that people who have devoted their lives to science at the very highest level will, and often that is what is require, particularly when trying to communicate science to the media and to policymakers. I can’t help but suspect that part of Bauer’s motivation in arguing this is that he hopes that scientists will instead cede the field to him and his fellow propagandists of pseudoscience.

As for the claim that science is not self-correcting, Bauer simply asserts that more than once and claims that there is a “massive consensus” on this point. Really? Among whom? Bauer and his fellow denialists? Anti-vaccine loons? Creationists? Of that I have no doubt. But among scientists, those who study science, and historians of science? Not so much. Is science perfect? No one claims that, least of all me. As I’ve said many, many times before, it might be very messy, and it often takes a lot longer than scientists would like to admit, but eventually science does correct itself when it goes astray. And, yes, sometimes hypotheses hang around far longer than they should, especially in medicine, but in the end the evidence. However, as I’ve also said many times before, if you want to dethrone a hypothesis in medicine or science, you have to have the goods. In other words, you have to be able to produce evidence of such quality and quantity that, when weighed against the evidence supporting the current hypothesis, it casts enough doubt that other hypotheses must seriously be considered. I hate to point it out to Bauer (well, no I don’t, actually, I don’t), but HIV/AIDS denialists, like anti-vaccine activists and creationists, have never been able to do that. Bring us compelling data instead of self-pitying B.S., and maybe you’ll be taken seriously.

Of course, as all anti-science cranks do sooner or later when they’re on a roll, Bauer can’t resist making a certain analogy that never fails to annoy the crap out of me because it’s so off base:

What’s understood in and about the humanities and social sciences is not understood with respect to science and medicine. The experts consulted and cited about matters of science and medicine are scientists and doctors; they are supposed to explain to the rest of us what science and medicine are about, what they mean to our culture and our society, how we should use what they produce. Scientists and doctors represent Science and Medicine in the same way as priests represent Religion: as unquestionable authorities.

Ah, yes, the comparison of science to religion and scientists and physicians to priests! Where have we heard that cliche before? Actually, I’ve read it on so many anti-science websites and blogs that I long ago lost count, and it’s a common misconception (or outright lie) that frequently needs to be refuted. Religion, after all, requires belief in things that, by its adherents’ own admission, can’t be proven; indeed, religion is all about strong (or even absolute) belief without evidence. This is in marked contrast to science, which is all about tentative, provisional belief only after there is adequate evidence. More importantly, science is about subjecting those tentative beliefs based on evidence to further testing and overthrowing the ones that can’t stand up to that testing. The difference between science and religion couldn’t be more stark.

Finally, Bauer retreats into another favorite canard of the anti-science crank, namely trying to paint the scientific process as being hopelessly tainted with dogma, politics, and ideology, making the ridiculous assertion that HIV became accepted as the cause of AIDS based on politics and social factors rather than based on science, concluding:

The science relating to HIV and to AIDS has never supported the mainstream assertions. Vested interests determined the course of events: careerism, political exigencies, empire-building in government agencies, financial benefits for companies and individuals. Once an activity commands billions of dollars of annual expenditure, mere scientific findings can exert little if any practical influence.

If there’s a substantive difference between this sort of nonsense and the “pharma shill gambit,” I’m hard pressed to find it. Replace the phrase “the science relating to HIV and to AIDS” with “the science relating to vaccines and autism” in the passage above, and this post would be right at home on the anti-vaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism, so much so that it would not look the least bit out of place. Of course, that’s because HIV/AIDS denialism is, at its heart, no different than anti-vaccinationism. It’s pure pseudoscience and, more than that, it’s utterly hostile to science because science doesn’t support its conclusions.

But worst of all, HIV/AIDS denialism is, like anti-vaccinationism, deadly. It’s a perfect example of how pseudoscience can kill.

Comments

  1. #1 blackheart
    November 15, 2011

    To all

    Among the various forms of pseudoscience in medicine, the two most potentially harmful are probably HIV/AIDS denialism and those who would seek to hold back life giving treatments starting with AZT.

    HIV/AIDS denialism / AZT denialism has done more measurable harm to real people, particularly in Africa where, for instance, it was estimated that government policies in South Africa based on HIV/AIDS denialist beliefs have contributed to the preventable deaths of 330,000 people.

  2. #2 dt
    November 15, 2011

    In the past I spent a lot of effort debating the HIV/AIDS denialists on line and in electronic/print journal responses. The field of bizarre pseudoscientific denialism provided rich pickings – people such as Duesberg, the Perth Group and Eleni “I’ll have sex [with an HIV positive person] anytime” Papadopoulos, David Rasnik and the Mbeki hangers on. But over time, they seemed to become an irrelevance, and I thought their ridiculous arguments had faded into obscurity because of the inescapable fact that reality cannot be denied for ever. The deaths of their prominent denialist poster girls from AIDS like Christine Maggiore and Karri Stokely hardly helped their cause.

    So I am sorry to see that there is still a hard core rump of the denialist movement that is actively trying to kill people. Isn’t Bauer the guy who also writes about having seen the Loch Ness monster?

  3. #3 dt
    November 15, 2011

    My internet wanderings inform me that the denialists had planned their annual conference in Washington next month (timed to start on World AIDS day).
    http://denyingaids.blogspot.com/2011/10/rethinking-aids-when-99-of-world.html#comments

    Seems they have had to cancel.
    Not because of a reality check, but because the 2 organizing factions are at each other’s throats. What a shame.

  4. #4 Tara C. Smith
    November 15, 2011

    Oh lord. Bauer’s obsession with me was one of the reasons I stopped writing about HIV. (Bialy’s was another). He believes in the Loch Ness Monster. Need I say more?

  5. #5 shawmutt
    November 15, 2011

    My first experience with HIV denialism was reading Kary Mullis’ book. I took it with a grain of salt, since he also wrote about barely recovering from psychedelic trips and talking with a glowing alien raccoon.

    At least he did some good with developing PCR.

  6. #6 Jud
    November 15, 2011

    Actually I can see exactly why folks like Bauer truly believe science is a religion. The way people like Bauer “do [pseudo-]science,” and by extension think science is done, is that they have as a goal a particular conclusion, and they work very hard to ignore everything that might logically negate that conclusion. This is of course the very same way people like Bauer “do religion” – start out with a belief in a particular God, and work hard to ignore anything that might show there isn’t one. Thus believers deny with particular vehemence science that is seen to preempt the place of a Creator God, like heliocentrism (before denying that became untenable) or evolution (150 years of denialism and counting).

    The very particular and detailed items of knowledge that science based medicine now has regarding the HIV virus (details of construction, evolutionary genetics and lethality, mechanisms of infection down to the biomolecular level), which show all Bauer’s objections to be utter nonsense, are strenuously ignored by Bauer and others like him precisely because their objections would be overwhelmed.

  7. #7 NJ
    November 15, 2011

    Ah, the chemistry department at the school up in VA must be so proud

    BAUER, HENRY H. PAPERS, 1971-1999. 14 cu. ft. Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and Science Studies and Emeritus Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (1978-1999) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Papers include correspondence, grant reports, newspaper clippings, memoirs, books, class roles, chemistry files, evaluations, lectures, and appointment books. Correspondence and clippings mainly concern Loch Ness; papers on chemistry, classes, Immanuel Velikovsky. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms1999-005. Note: This collection is in off-site storage and requires 2-3 days notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

  8. #8 Denice Walter
    November 15, 2011

    HIV/AIDS denialism is one of the reasons I became involved with on-line support of SBM:

    I’m old enough to remember how science slowly learned about the vicissitudes of this new terrifying illness and its effect on society ( 1980s) and later, in my own very small way, I allowed my own “talents” ( whatever they might be) to be enlisted in communicating information to the vulnerable.

    Thus, I first was aghast to hear( c. 2000) denialism freely broadcast to a radio audience. Over the years I have tried to understand why SBM about HIV/AIDS is such a threat to alt med advocates- something it has in common with vaccines and pharmacological products for mental illness- it represents both the triumph of SBM ( learning to diagnoses and treat a deadly illness- taming it to the status of “chronic illness”) and the impotency of alt med methods to address a devastating virus. This really irks the deniers.

  9. #9 Denice Walter
    November 15, 2011

    Supplement salesmen and providers of natural medicine have put forth a dis-information campaign that relies upon the general public’s difficulties comprehending complex science and younger targets’ distance from the early days of the epidemic. Like the anti-vax agenda, isn’t it?

    You might think that only a few people would buy into this nonsense but these bad ideas trickle down affecting the attitudes and actions of a significant number of those most likely to be affected ( Kalichman; Natrass). Like anti-vax.

    Woo-meisters who double as HIV/AIDS denialists spin their tales about the “treachery” of scientists as support for their own pharma-government conspiracy tripe: which in turn serves as the support scaffolding that explains why their own brilliant theories have been thorougly rejected by mainstream medicine. It’s all a plot, you see.

    I could go on and on about details but the important fact is this: if you read/ hear someone who promotes alt med, sells vitamins or treatments for *any* condition, when they start talking about how SBM “lies” about HIV or the “poisonous treatments” concocted by the evil geniuses of pharma to line their own pockets with gold, you know it’s time to say, “Au revoir”.

  10. #10 Viktor
    November 15, 2011

    (HIV) – a virus of an immunodeficiency, can cause a syndrome of an immunodeficiency – (AIDS). The virus in translation with latin means slime.
    Inactive slime can block the immune answer and cause a syndrome of an immunodeficiency.

  11. #11 Bill
    November 15, 2011

    “Religion, after all, requires belief in things that, by its adherents’ own admission, can’t be proven; indeed, religion is all about strong (or even absolute) belief without evidence. This is in marked contrast to science, which is all about tentative, provisional belief only after there is adequate evidence. More importantly, science is about subjecting those tentative beliefs based on evidence to further testing and overthrowing the ones that can’t stand up to that testing. The difference between science and religion couldn’t be more stark.”

    Thanks, that is one of the most succinct statements on the issue I’ve read. I’ve stolen it for future use.

  12. #12 Vicki
    November 15, 2011

    It seems that most of the people who claim that science is a religion, or that scientific ideas require faith, turn around and declare themselves to be religious, and consider faith to be a virtue.

    They aren’t atheists or skeptics who want more evidence. They’re heretic-hunters, defending creationism or homeopathy, I’d guess because they somehow connect it to their other beliefs. I’m an atheist, but I don’t think you can get from “homeopathy is a scam” or “no spaceship crashed at Area 51″ or “HIV causes AIDS” to “therefore, there is no god.”

  13. #13 HardLight
    November 15, 2011

    I am interested by his third point, as a general rule scientists are not taught much scientific history because it would get in the way of the, you know, science.

    Why does he think that a better knowledge of history would help us communicating current day science? I dont need to know about Ibn al-Nafis to understand how the heart pumps blood.

  14. #14 Orac
    November 15, 2011

    Oh lord. Bauer’s obsession with me was one of the reasons I stopped writing about HIV. (Bialy’s was another). He believes in the Loch Ness Monster. Need I say more?

    Ah, yes. Crank magnetism.

  15. #15 Jud
    November 15, 2011

    Why does he think that a better knowledge of history would help us communicating current day science?

    My guess is that his point isn’t a positive but a negative one: That since scientists don’t know the sad history of arrogant certainty regarding propositions we now know to be incorrect (at least this is the history of science as Bauer presumably sees it), then insert Santayana chestnut to the effect that it’s occurring all over again and those damned arrogant scientists can’t recognize it.

    It’s just another form of the Galileo gambit when you come right down to it.

  16. #16 LovleAnjel
    November 15, 2011

    “On the whole*, scientists know only the technical intricacies of what they do; they don’t understand the epistemology and sociology of science and they are ignorant of or mistaken about the history of science…*“On the whole”: Of course there are individual exceptions, as always. Those exceptions have no more influence on and significance for public policy than, for instance, AIDS Rethinkers have with respect to mainstream HIV/AIDS dogma.”

    This is odd, seeing as how at all three Universities I attended (for three science degrees), almost every science class I took went over the history and/or epistemology of science. I could cover the history of 20th century science philosophy in my sleep. In my Ph.D. qualifiers, prelims and defense I had field philosophical & sociological questions. Maybe I’m an exception, but that means there are hundreds if not thousands of other exceptions in the other students who attended those same programs as me. I find it hard to believe that out of those thousands of people, none of them is qualified to talk about science to the media or policy makers.

  17. #17 Denice Walter
    November 15, 2011

    @ Jud:
    My own lovely history of psych prof – in her own nearly inimitable, ridiculously posh accent – while surveying theories and research of the past, best summed it up as:

    ” So we don’t have to go through all of _that_ again!”

  18. #18 Edith Prickly
    November 15, 2011

    It seems that most of the people who claim that science is a religion, or that scientific ideas require faith, turn around and declare themselves to be religious, and consider faith to be a virtue.

    My understanding (and I could be wrong) is that creationists pioneered the use of the “Science is a religion too” argument to justify their efforts to force their beliefs into science education, and the tactic has been adopted by other purveyors of pseudoscience because it’s useful. The thinking, if you can call it that, is if they convince enough people that science is just another faith-based belief system, that means the beliefs of creationists/alt-med devotees/anti-vaxxers/HIV denialists/etc. carry equal weight. It also feeds into the persecution complex so many of them like to cultivate – the evil, power-hungry high priests of Science trying to silence the prophets and oppress the faithful.

  19. #19 Dangerous Bacon
    November 15, 2011

    “Ah, yes, the comparison of science to religion and scientists and physicians to priests! Where have we heard that cliche before?”

    From religious people who appear consumed by self-loathing, since they attribute religious behavior to people they regard with supreme contempt.

    Henry Bauer, emeritus professor of chemistry – where have we heard that before? Oh yes, Boyd Haley, emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Kentucky, noted antivaxer, hero to the Mercury Militia and marketer of an industrial chelator to “heal” autism.
    More and more, I suspect universities designate “emeritus” status as a way of alerting us to their notorious dingbats who have been put out to pasture.

    Possibly the worst thing about Henry Bauer is that he brings dishonor to his name, more famously associated with the Yankee great, Henry “Hank” Bauer (over 160 home runs and 700 RBIs for his career).

  20. #20 LovleAnjel
    November 15, 2011

    @Dangerous Bacon

    I believe “emeritus” means “we would force you to retire if you didn’t have tenure”.

  21. #21 palindrom
    November 15, 2011

    Dangerous @12:02 — Well, the fact that many cranks are emeriti doesn’t mean that all emeriti are cranks. I’m getting pretty long in the tooth, so pretty soon I’ll be one myself, and I’m not about to start studying crop circles or something.

    Then again, there’s Ralph Manuel at the University of Missouri at Rolla, and the “Iron Sun”.

  22. #22 dt
    November 15, 2011

    Believers in pseudoscience are indiscriminate in their tastes, hence AIDS denialists are often antivaccine, and vice versa.

    Most recent example – Clark Baker (AIDS denialist) chipping in on the British Medical Journal responses page to support Andrew Wakefield of MMR-autism infamy.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347?tab=responses

    By the way, you will see that the BMJ has introduced a “thmbs up/thumbs down” rating system for its responses. Just to say that Age of Autism has directed its readers to the BMJ site to do their worst in terms of “voting”. I am sure the scienceblogs crew can do much better.

  23. #23 palindrom
    November 15, 2011

    myself @21 — Correction! I meant OLIVER Manuel at Rolla. Brain slip.

    http://www.omatumr.com/

  24. #24 dt
    November 15, 2011

    Odd. Clark Baker’s response to the BMJ has disappeared now – it was there earlier.

  25. #25 ildi
    November 15, 2011

    Bauer’s obsession with me was one of the reasons I stopped writing about HIV.

    Also, who can forget cooler? Good times…

  26. #26 Calli Arcale
    November 15, 2011

    Dangerous Bacon:

    From religious people who appear consumed by self-loathing, since they attribute religious behavior to people they regard with supreme contempt.

    It’s not that. They haven’t attempted to understand their own thought processes and consequently are not even aware that there are other ways of coming to a conclusion than “Mom and Dad brought me up like this” or even just “it’s right, you idiot.” Most people have a fairly naive view of knowledge and the pursuit thereof. And since they don’t even understand how they’ve reached their own conclusions, it logically follows that they’d have difficulty understanding how other people have reached theirs. It’s not quite that there are “different ways of knowing”. (That’s a whole different can of worms.) It’s that they are certain in their beliefs, and therefore assume everything contradictory to be false.

    If a particular religious view is correct and scientists dispute it, that must mean the scientists are wrong. Anybody who really passionately believes something would, of course, champion that belief and fight for it — so when the scientists try to point out errors, the believers think they are doing precisely what the believers would do, and fighting passionately for their beliefs. Since they ascribe their beliefs to God and revealed wisdom rather than human effort, of course they ascribe the same to science. So they are not filled with self-loathing at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. It’s just that they think scientists think the same way they do, and since the scientists have reached different conclusions, it must mean they’ve been overwhelmed with human hubris and allowed the Devil to lead them astray. (Or somesuch; the explanation will vary depending on the religious sect and the charitability of the particular believer.)

    This is what Orac alluded to about pseudoscientists; they accuse scientists of being doctrinaire because that’s exactly what they, themselves would do. So this applies far beyond religion alone, and is not actually a sin of religion, per se — it’s a sin of mankind, and of course religion, being a product of mankind, is vulnerable to it.

  27. #27 David N. Brown
    November 15, 2011

    @2, 4-
    There ARE well-informed people (including myself) who would consider Nessie to be, at least, a phenomenon worthy of serious investigation. I’m sure most of us would feel less stigma in our opinions about the Loch Ness cryptid than at being perceived as affiliated with Mr. Bauer.

    Reading this post, I was reminded of the controversy over whether Yersinia pestis was the cause of the Black Death, recently addressed through genetic testing. I would consider that long-running controversy an indication that the “AIDS denialists” did not ask an unreasonable question. (It would have been all the more reasonable if they had phrased the question as, is HIV the SOLE cause of AIDS?) What I would see as the problem is that this was attached too readily to ideology and social policy, which, on consideration, could well be said of the AIDS epidemic itself.

  28. #28 herr doktor bimler
    November 15, 2011

    14 cu. ft. Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and Science Studies

    Initially I read this as Prof. Bauer’s actual full title, and assumed that “14 cu. ft.” had sponsored his chair.

  29. #29 Jud
    November 15, 2011

    Denice Walter writes:

    in her own nearly inimitable, ridiculously posh accent

    I’ve found the sonorous tones of such accents can be almost completely accounted for by heartburn symptoms.

  30. #30 JayK
    November 15, 2011

    I’ve had run-ins with Oliver Manuel, and felt dumber with each passing moment. He’s a regular at all of the denialist sites, especially Jonova. I think he’s mostly just a fraud.

    Lately I’ve found the anti-GMO rhetoric is ramping up. They’re using the exact language that the anti-vax people do. “I love science……but” is but one of the comments I’ve received lately.

  31. #31 rw23
    November 15, 2011

    @herr doktor bimler #28:

    14 cu. ft. Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and Science Studies

    Initially I read this as Prof. Bauer’s actual full title, and assumed that “14 cu. ft.” had sponsored his chair

    I thought he was being described as morbidly obese.

  32. #32 Jeff
    November 15, 2011

    My observation on cranks such as creationists and denialists is that that they perform cargo cult science. They see researchers experiment and publish papers in journals and change the thinking of those around them.

    So take creationists. They publish their creationist papers in their creationist journals and then wonder aloud when their arguments are picked apart based on weak evidence and poor conclusions.

    Based on these results, they conclude science is a fraud and doesn’t work. After all, look they’re imitating everything that real scientists do. Publishing papers and journals. They don’t understand that real science starts from bedrock fundamentals of observed evidence and proven principles.

  33. #33 palindrom
    November 15, 2011

    JayK @30 — I don’t see why having run-ins with Manuel would make you feel dumber, except for that sinking sensation that comes about when you realize you’ve been wasting your time engaging a crank. It can be fun for a while, but they will always wear you down by spewing infinite streams of detail-obsessed nonsense.

    rw23 @31 — A 14 cu ft emeritus professor, if he or she were about the density of water, would weigh almost 900 pounds! That’s a lot of professor!

  34. #34 jre
    November 15, 2011

    Ah, yes. I, too remember the spectacular goofiness that used to prevail at Tara’s place when it was HIV Wednesday. I recall that cooler was a particularly ecumenical crank who came partially unglued when I pressed him/her/it on whether the moon landing happened. There may be an object lesson in there somewhere; I dunno. But, to the extent that Tara stopped posting on HIV/AIDS because the craziness was too intensely vicious, I think the terrorists have won.

  35. #35 jre
    November 15, 2011

    And, wow, rw23 and Herr Dr. B, that puts Prof. Bauer at about 874 lbs. Shouldn’t that make him notable for more than his views on virology?

  36. #36 Roadstergal
    November 15, 2011

    @17 DW:
    “So we don’t have to go through all of _that_ again!”

    I like it. In addition to avoiding the mistakes of the past, though, there’s also learning the positive lessons of the past. I perhaps was a bit luckier than most in my bio undergrad, but our professors were very keen to give us the history of discoveries rather than just give us a list of facts to memorize. E.g. although we got the whole V/D/J story, it was via the experiments that Tonegawa did to actually demonstrate that this happens. Nothing in those classes was accepted because it was in a book; the experimental basis for everything was either explained up-front, or you could go ask the professor about it afterwards and get an earful of references.

  37. #37 Party Cactus
    November 15, 2011

    @ JayK #30

    Lately I’ve found the anti-GMO rhetoric is ramping up. They’re using the exact language that the anti-vax people do. “I love science……but” is but one of the comments I’ve received lately.

    My favorite variant of that line came from Greenpeace last July when they basically said ‘We’re pro-science, but we just have to destroy research and can’t trust scientists!’ That’s the subject I always I think of when the topic of ‘what pseudo/anti-sciences are more dangerous’ comes up (though as I’m working on a horticulture degree right now I confess my bias towards ag sci), in particular the case of Golden Rice and vitamin A deficiency. The WHO estimates that between a quarter and half a million children go blind from VAD every year, and half die a year after going blind. We have GE Golden Rice that could prevent that, but it isn’t being used in large part as a result of all the FUD about the technology that produced it. Sure its probably overly optimistic to say that Golden Rice would prevent every death, but given that many of those are from places where rice is the main staple it’s pretty hard to argue that it wouldn’t prevent a whole lot of death and suffering if it were put into cultivation. You crunch those numbers and it doesn’t take long before you’ve got a strong contender for ‘most dangerous pseudoscience.’

  38. #38 NJ
    November 15, 2011

    Calli Arcale @ 26:

    This is what Orac alluded to about pseudoscientists; they accuse scientists of being doctrinaire because that’s exactly what they, themselves would do. So this applies far beyond religion alone, and is not actually a sin of religion, per se — it’s a sin of mankind, and of course religion, being a product of mankind, is vulnerable to it.

    Climate change denialist Rachelle over at Starts With a Bang:

    You have seen a Cross in the heavens and nothing will alter your opinion (Faith). You are a zealot. A crop circler. A head to the caves because the earth is ending tomorrow person.

    I prefer to believe the issue is not settled because present techniques for measuring paleoclimate are new, imprecise and incomplete and because the ‘models’ don’t seem to model much of anything but the ‘researchers’ desires…or in your case, Dogma.

    What are you going to do if the Earth fails to warm in the next few years, walk through the streets whipping your back and crying, ‘I have sinned.’

    QED.

  39. #39 Don't Touch
    November 15, 2011

    Argh! I thought most of HIV/AIDS denialism had died down. But I was wrong…

    Anyway, I’m seriously beginning to despise the alt med movement, especially with HIV/AIDS advocators who know better and are spewing this dangerous nonsense just to make a quick buck. Those people definitely have no conscience.

  40. #40 jre
    November 15, 2011

    As a bonus feature for reading this post, I was reminded to pop back over to Tara’s and see what’s up. Lo and behold, in a display of cosmic synchrony, it appears that Discover has joined The Atlantic among Once-Respected Magazines that Ought to Know Better. One notes with pleasure that Tara, when inspired by a particularly egregious display of hooey, can do justice to the Oracian epic post form. Go, TS!

  41. #41 Tara C. Smith
    November 15, 2011

    Heh, thanks!

  42. #42 Queen Khentkawes
    November 15, 2011

    @ David N. Brown #27:

    The serious investigation for Nessie has ended:

    http://www.skepdic.com/nessie.html

  43. #43 Mrs. Woo
    November 15, 2011

    I have to admit I’m baffled. So the assertion is that in order to understand science and tell the world how science interacts with it you cannot be a scientist?

    I would argue that that is quite a leap to go from discussing the sociological and political changes that science and technology have made on the world as a whole (what would be applied in how he describes the role of critics to the arts)to discussing how, disease pathologies present, how comorbid illnesses might interact with each other, how chemicals might interact, or how a drug interacts with the body to treat an illness.

    To do what he is suggesting (say that medicine cannot prove that viruses actually cause illnesses but lay people can assure the world they can’t) is akin to a critic saying that writers need not write because critics can do it for them. Mr. Bauer not assuming the role of a critic, but rather usurping the role that is criticized. That is a big difference.

  44. #44 novalox
    November 15, 2011

    @22 (dt)

    Yeah, I read the article, and suffice to say, the ilk at aoa have gotten their votes in on the comments. Voted on the article and the comments itself, but the pseudoscientific crap seem to have the lead now.

    The ridiculousness and utter stupidity of the comments left at the article over there make me shake my head.

  45. #45 stdpal
    November 15, 2011

    Lots of men and women that are dwelling with sexually transmitted conditions like herpes or HPV are scared to get started on dating again. In STD dating groups, such as Herpesanddating,net or Herpesloving, com, acquiring an STD like HPV is regarded normal, as a result there is no stigma or isolation that will take place considering that all of you belong.

  46. #46 Alan Kellogg
    November 15, 2011

    Sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree here, science doesnt’ do a damn thing. Science is a way of looking at the world and exploring it as to make new discoveries and learn about how the world works. Science cannot correct error, rather it is a set of tools people can use to discover mistakes and correct them

    It is people who correct the errors. People to discover errors in the first place, and people to correct those errors and make the corrections known to the world at large. Science is only a tool, and one that requires people trained in its use. Without people putting it to use science is nothing more than words.

  47. #47 lilady
    November 16, 2011

    @ dt: I already read the article yesterday and voted thumbs up for the few comments that pushed back against Team Wakefield.

    Mrs. Woo actually posted some of the thoughts I had about this AIDS-Denier. If I read his “credentials” correctly, Bauer only studied the history of disease and he is totally unqualified to discuss AIDs research, the antiviral treatment of HIV-infected people, the treatment of opportunistic diseases associated with the virus and the day-to-day challenges that actual HIV+ patients face.

    When I worked in public health and was a TB case manager, I would also rotate between public health clinics and did intake and HIV counseling for patients referred to the clinic for TB treatment. It was so important to be trained and certified as a HIV Counselor, so that all the patients who had latent TB or active TB, would “agree” to be tested for HIV. Patients who are HIV positive receive different antibiotics for their TB infection and require an extended period of antibiotic treatment in order to cure them. In addition, those patients identified as being HIV +, were monitored for CD4 counts and viral loads to institute antiviral treatment against the HIV virus. Contact investigations were begun with the patients as well, with a referral to the dedicated HIV case manager, so that partners could be identified and testing could be offered.

    Looking back on those days, I consider myself fortunate to have had that particular patient demographic (indigent, Medicaid or uninsured (and undocumented alien status) and under-served “minority” groups. They as a group, knew only too well, how, in the bad old days, when there were no reliable tests, and no AZT and no HAART medicines, how quickly people succumbed to HIV opportunistic infections.

    Why is is that seemingly well-educated people are the ones who believe in the pseudo-scientific theories associated with AIDS-Denial and anti-vax groups?

  48. #48 Julian Frost
    November 16, 2011

    Why is is that seemingly well-educated people are the ones who believe in the pseudo-scientific theories associated with AIDS-Denial and anti-vax groups?

    Arrogance. Orac mentioned the AIDS Denialism policies followed when Thabo Mbeki was president of South Africa. Mbeki was (and is) an extremely intelligent man. Unfortunately, he is also an unbelievably arrogant individual with a penchant for disregarding facts that he doesn’t like, and launching personal attacks (generally accusations of racism) against those who disagree with him.

  49. #49 Julian Frost
    November 16, 2011

    Why is is that seemingly well-educated people are the ones who believe in the pseudo-scientific theories associated with AIDS-Denial and anti-vax groups?

    Arrogance. Orac mentioned the AIDS Denialism policies followed when Thabo Mbeki was president of South Africa. Mbeki was (and is) an extremely intelligent man. Unfortunately, he is also an unbelievably arrogant individual with a penchant for disregarding facts that he doesn’t like, and launching personal attacks (generally accusations of racism) against those who disagree with him.

  50. #50 lilady
    November 16, 2011

    @stdpal: I must live in a very “enlightened” community as my regional newspapers readily advertise meetings and social events for people who are infected with HPV and herpes. It really is a wonderful thing that groups such as yours are “out there” to reach out to people.

    In my county when I attended health fairs and “manned” the health department information booth, the LGBT groups were well represented, to provide education and outreach. We always shared our pamphlets about STDs and would split our stash of condoms. IMO, their outreach to adolescents and teens, still “closeted”, enabled these youngsters to feel they were not “oddities” and helped them to get through those awful teen years.

    (No, such activities do not “encourage” promiscuity…they provide education in safe sex practices)

  51. #51 Denice Walter
    November 16, 2011

    For the morbidly curious:

    Bauer is well-known in HIV/AIDS denialist circles- or as I like to call them “ThinkTanks for Virus Promoters”. dt above mentions Clark Baker (OMSJ), there is the Perth Group ( Aus), Rethinking AIDS( Canada), Duesberg, Mullis(US), and others in Italy, Greece,the UK, Rasnick, etc, as well as woo-meisters and “journalists” who serve as conduits for mis-information. Worth investigating if you have a strong stomach.

    Bad ideas promoted by a few can harm the many- because ideas affect how people *behave*.

    You know, denialists say AIDS is a medico-pharma plot to sell products and services but if that were really true wouldn’t those “greedy corporatists” go whole hog and *discourage* sales of condoms and routine testing in order to let people get *really* ill and beg for over-priced ARVs?

  52. #52 john
    November 16, 2011

    My friend told me a report from CNN said that the world’s largest HIV dating and support site STDslove. com which is powered by plenty of fish now has more than 1,100,000 members. Also, more than 80% of members on the site are good looking and sexy.

    The report also indicated that HIV rates soar worldwide and CDC had granted CSU $1.9M for HIV education to lower the rates of HIV transmission.

  53. #53 Calli Arcale
    November 16, 2011

    lilady:

    (No, such activities do not “encourage” promiscuity…they provide education in safe sex practices)

    Indeed. Studies have shown that contrary strategies (such as ignoring it and hoping that kids won’t figure out how to have sex on their own) are associated with an increase in promiscuity. Turns out, as much as we grown-ups like to joke about dumb kids, they’re actually not stupid. They don’t want STDs or teen pregnancies or to lose the respect of all of their classmates. If you give them the information, they’ll generally use it appropriately because, again, they’re not stupid. Yes, teens take more risks — but not because they don’t understand risks or disregard them. Turns out, teens and young adults completely understand their own mortality. They just give more weight to reward than younger children or grownups do — so if you help them to know exactly what it is they’d be getting out of the situation and exactly what it is they’re risking, they’ll weigh it more intelligently.

    HIV/AIDS denialism is a particularly dangerous combination with abstinence-only education. Kids thinking about that momentary reward of impressing their buddies or impressing their significant other are going to be extra-willing to accept theories which make sex sound less risky. Everyone is unconsciously biased towards findings which support their desires, after all. (Ask a good car salesman; they know this very well, and how to play it.) So combined with a lack of appreciation for the social and parental risks of sex, they will fail to appreciate the risk of HIV and an already-risky behavior will become riskier.

  54. #54 Prometheus
    November 16, 2011

    “Scientists and doctors represent Science and Medicine in the same way as priests represent Religion: as unquestionable authorities.”

    Although I don’t believe that aphorisms are interchangeable with data, Arthur C. Clarke explained this phenomenon nicely thus:

    “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

    Current science is so far advanced from what most people learn in secondary school and college (especially for non-science majors) that it is natural that many people look on it as a kind of magic – and what is religion but an organised corporate magic show?

    However, unlike the priests with the tales of dragons swallowing the Sun (solar eclipse) and transubstantiation, scientists (real scientists) can provide a “data trail” to support their conclusions. Unfortunately, it takes training and education to follow that data trail, so most of the population – which lacks the requisite training and education – must take it “on faith”.

    Again, it is not surprising that so many people view science as a kind of magic or religion, but that doesn’t make them correct.

    HIV/AIDS deniers accuse science of being a “religion” and then – apparently heedless of the irony – ask the general public to accept their view of HIV/AIDS “on faith”, as they lack any data to support it.

    I suppose that could be a conscious plan – to accuse science of being a religion and then offering an “alternative” religion of their own devising – but I somehow doubt that the HIV/AIDS deniers are that well organised, though I could be wrong about that.

    Prometheus

  55. #55 Agnes Devereaux
    November 16, 2011

    It is interesting that Prometheus takes umbrage at “science” being called a “religion” by the HIV deniers when it is the HIV/AIDS industry that would like to quash sexual freedom, as religions seem to like to do. The study by Dr. Nancy Padian from one of your “highly regarded” peer reviewed journals http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/146/4/350.full.pdf seems to question the transmission of HIV through sex. If HIV is so virulent, why didn’t the study show a higher percentage of seroconversions?

  56. #56 Wow
    November 16, 2011

    Well, yes, people do take umbrage at lies. This is a normal societal activity that ensures our stable life.

    Science isn’t a religion.

    Now, please explain how this: “it is the HIV/AIDS industry that would like to quash sexual freedom” works? Are the claims of STDs like Steff indications that the medical sciences are against sexual freedom too?

    Or are you talking complete and utter BS?

    “from *one* of your “highly regarded” peer reviewed journals seems to question the transmission of HIV through sex.”

    And why is ONE paper the ONLY correct paper? Because you agree with it?

  57. #57 Bruce of Canuckistan
    November 16, 2011

    “The conventional wisdom can hardly accept that it’s wrong about HIV/AIDS so long as it doesn’t realize that it’s wrong about science. It needs to be understood that…”

    This is just a boilerplate post-modernist / post-structuralist “Theory” attack on science & rationality. Read “Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science”, by Alan Sokal. The truly frightening thing is humanities students in north america have had this crap forced on them for a couple of decades now. It’s sort of the spongiform encephalopathy of the humanities.

    The original effort, circa the 1990′s, was an attempt by self-styled po-mo philosophy “science studies” academics to insert themselves as the designated intermediaries between scientists and the public/politicians.

    Fortunately, the sickness seems to be passing:

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=post+modernism%2Cpost+structuralism&year_start=1970&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=science+studies&year_start=1960&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    I’d expect a revolt by fed up grad students in the humanities at some point soon, as they get into more secure positions and their profs, heavily committed such nonsense, lose all credibility. This should have a positive effect on the rationality of the public at large in the long term.

  58. #58 Calli Arcale
    November 16, 2011

    Agnes Devereaux:

    It is interesting that Prometheus takes umbrage at “science” being called a “religion” by the HIV deniers when it is the HIV/AIDS industry that would like to quash sexual freedom, as religions seem to like to do.

    Seriously??? A huge amount of effort (and money) goes into ensuring that HIV-positive patients can live as normal a life as possible — and that includes some sort of a sex life! There are married people with the virus, after all, and most of them are not psychopaths; they don’t want to infect their partners. At the same time, they’re human beings. They want to be able to be intimate together. Condoms, anti-retrovirals, diligence in cases of spilled bodily fluids (particularly blood), regular testing of the non-infected partner….

    None of this is about quashing sexual freedom. It’s about informing people so that they can keep themselves and their loved ones safe. I’m surprised you’d take umbrage at that. Freedom is important. But surely saving lives is important too. Things aren’t religious just because they point things out which may be inconvenient to your sex life.

  59. #59 Beamup
    November 16, 2011

    he study by Dr. Nancy Padian from one of your “highly regarded” peer reviewed journals to question the transmission of HIV through sex.

    Beyond what others have already said, did you actually read this paper? Or even the abstract? It’s looking into what factors affect the probability of transmission between sexual partners. Which would be quite a meaningless thing to do if one were questioning the transmission through sex.

    It says EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what you’re claiming, as even a cursory review clearly shows. Which presents only three possible interpretations I can think of:

    1. You didn’t bother to read it and simply copied the link from somebody else without checking into what it said.
    2. You somehow managed to read it without comprehending the plain English.
    3. You’re deliberately misrepresenting what it said.

    Which is it? Are you gullible, stupid, or dishonest?

  60. #60 Prometheus
    November 16, 2011

    “Agnes Devereaux” has made some rather jaw-dropping comments:

    “…the HIV/AIDS industry that would like to quash sexual freedom, as religions seem to like to do.”

    I don’t recall scientists and the “HIV/AIDS industry” suggesting that people curtail their “sexual freedom” (what an epidemiologist I heard lecturing in the late 1980′s referred to as “sport f**king”) for moral reasons (as some religious leaders advocate) but rather they have stated that HIV can be sexually transmitted and that people should take appropriate precautions (e.g. condoms, getting to know at least the name of your sexual partner before having sex, etc.).

    Comparing the two is like saying that since doctors and scientists say we need to eat to remain healthy and priests say “Take this bread and eat of it: for this is the body of Christ, which was be given up for you.” that means scientists are advocating Holy Communion.

    “Agnes” continues:

    “The study by Dr. Nancy Padian from one of your “highly regarded” peer reviewed journals seems to question the transmission of HIV through sex.”

    Not exactly. What this 1997 study showed was that heterosexual tranmission of HIV was lower than expected (at the time) and that the apparent transmission of HIV male-to-female was eight times higher than the apparent female-to-male transmission. Since they didn’t genotype the HIV strains (not widely available in 1997), there is no way to know how many were actually infected by their sexual partner de jour.

    Padian (1997) does not give corresponding data for homosexual tranmission, so there is no way to know if the numbers they found are lower or higher than those for homosexual couples. Current data show (and Padian suggested) that male-to-male sexual activity is a higher risk for HIV transmission than heterosexual activity.

    Still, I can’t quite see how this data would “…question the transmission of HIV through sex…”. Based solely on the Padian et al findings, the risk of male-to-female transmission of HIV appears to be 19% and the female-to-male transmission rate 2.4%.

    As has been said – among scientists, at least – for around 30 years, HIV is not easily transmitted, compared to syphillis, gonorrhea, HSV2 or chlamydia, but it is also not as easily treated as those other STD’s.

    If “Agnes Devereaux” is arguing that HIV isn’t sexually transmitted, Padian et al doesn’t support her claim.

    If she is arguing that warning people they increase their risk of contracting HIV – an incurable and often fatal infection – by certain sexual practices is equivalent to religious moral preaching against “sexual freedom”, she needs to rethink her argument. It is analogous to arguing that saying “Wearing seatbelts, not speeding and not driving drunk lowers your risk of car-crash injury.” is the same as saying “Driving automobiles is a sin!”.

    Prometheus

  61. #61 herr doktor bimler
    November 16, 2011

    It says EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what you’re claiming, as even a cursory review clearly shows.

    Scientists cite publications all the time. Therefore if Agnes Devereaux cites a paper, she is a scientist. LOGIC.

  62. #62 Beamup
    November 16, 2011

    Incidentally, I’m also going to have to chide Wow for apparently responding to Agnes’ citation of the paper by assuming that it said what she claimed, as opposed to following the link and reading at least the abstract.

    I may be mistaken in this reading of what happened, but that’s how it appears, and if true would be sloppy argumentation.

  63. #63 Krebiozen
    November 16, 2011

    I never really understood why that Padian study is touted as evidence that HIV isn’t sexually transmissible. I think it’s another one of those weird absolutist ideas that seem so common in crank circles for example:
    “If vaccines are not 100% effective they don’t work.”
    “If HIV is not 100% transmissible by every single sexual act, it is not sexually transmissible at all.”
    “If some untreated HIV positive people live for years without developing AIDS, HIV can’t cause AIDS.”
    “If some people are immunodeficient without being HIV positive, HIV can’t cause AIDS.”
    These are all clearly non-sequiturs, but they are arguments that I have often seen.

  64. #64 anarchic teapot
    November 16, 2011

    @lilady Social events for people infected with herpes? Since a quick search showed the rate of infection in the USA is estimated at 1 in 6, that should make for some huge Facebook-style parties :D

  65. #65 Vicki
    November 16, 2011

    And since some people have had unprotected heterosexual intercourse without producing babies, clearly babies aren’t made by sex, but by the stork!

    I’m still going to use condoms.

  66. #66 dt
    November 16, 2011

    As others have pointed out, the Padian study is deliberately distorted and misused by denialists in an attempt to show HIV is not sexually transmissable, simply becuase it found a seemingly low rate of transmission between couples. It was never designed to look at HIV transmission rates or efficiency, it was purely epidemiological and looking at cofactors.

    As for the study, the subjects were long established couples who were discordant for HIV, and during the 18 month study period were advised to use condoms and use safer sex (it would have been unethical not to).

    This is tantamount to doing a fertility study by taking couples who are demonstrably subfertile (ie they have been together for many months and the female has not yet been able to become pregnant), telling them to use condoms and the pill, and then announcing at the end of 18 months when (surprise!) nobody has become pregnant that: “Sex does not cause pregnancy”.

  67. #67 LW
    November 16, 2011

    There are people who think that swimming is immoral. City officials used to shut down swimming pools when there were polio outbreaks because polio is water-borne.

    Eating pork is forbidden in some religious traditions. Pork is dangerous unless properly prepared, because of trichinosis.

    Lots of religious traditions restrict sexual activity. Sexual activity can spread a number of diseases, including HIV.

    Get the point, Agnes Devereaux? If not, I’ll spell it out: some things are forbidden or restricted by religions and *also* are dangerous in reality.

  68. #68 Richard Karpinski
    November 17, 2011

    “HIV/AIDS denialists … have never been able to do that”

    Have you ever noticed that such negative claims are a bit hard to prove?

    You seem to believe that Bauer was aiming to prove every point he mentioned instead of merely referring to things that he had argued in previous writings. If you want his version of proof, then you might have a look at his book on the subject. Of course, you might need to understand a little about statistics to understand some of his arguments.

    You didn’t seem to notice that the 300,000 excess deaths was a completely unsupported “estimate” that you accept without question. We humans do seem to suffer from what they call “confirmation bias”. Me too.

  69. #69 Julian Frost
    November 17, 2011

    @Richard (peabrain) Karpinski:

    You didn’t seem to notice that the 300,000 excess deaths was a completely unsupported “estimate” that you accept without question.

    Unsupported my a***! The researchers looked at the death rates from HIV/AIDS in South Africa and compared them to those in countries that didn’t indulge in such idiocy (and yes, the actions of Thabo Mbeki and Manto Tshabalala-Msimang WERE idiotic), and from that, extrapolated the death rate. Mbeki’s AIDS denialism began when he was still Vice-President under Nelson Mandela and continued until he was forced out of the presidency. In short, the fight against AIDS was “mishandled” for ten years. That’s ample time for that number of deaths to occur, and I suspect that if anything, the estimate was kind towards Mbeki.

  70. #70 Julian Frost
    November 17, 2011

    Comment of mine taking Mr Karpinhead above to task is in moderation.

  71. #71 Julian Frost
    November 17, 2011

    Comment of mine taking Mr Karpinhead above to task is in moderation.

  72. #72 Julian Frost
    November 17, 2011

    Comment of mine taking Mr Karpinhead above to task is in moderation.

  73. #73 lilady
    November 17, 2011

    “You didn’t seem to notice that the 300,000 excess deaths was a completely unsupported “estimate” that you accept without question. We humans do seem to suffer from what they call “confirmation bias”. Me too.”

    Actually, according to the full article that I read on the study…not just the abstract that Orac linked to, makes an “interesting read” and it is not an unsupported study. (Go to Orac’s “linked” abstract and “click-on” Article as PDF (230 KB) to read it for yourself). I am certain that Orac has read the entire study and didn’t pull the numbers out of thin air.

    You might want to look at the study’s authors and their “credentials” as epidemiologists in the Harvard School of Public Health -vs- Bauer’s credentials as a chemist and a student of the history of health.

    Mbeki was steeped in a lot of woo nonsense about White colonialism, White attitudes towards Black people and what he perceived as White pre-conceived notions about oversexed, ignorant Africans.

    Mbeki was totally (abysmallly) unqualified to understand the HIV virus disease process to full-blown AIDS. He denied pregnant HIV + women an anti-viral drug that was very effective to prevent viral transmission to their babies, preferring to offer treatment for opportunistic infections associated with AIDS. Mbeki’s source of knowledge was the internet, from AIDS denialist…included Bauer.

    Why don’t you read the entire study and then given us specifics about the statistics used by the authors, to justify your critique of Orac’s article?

  74. #74 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 17, 2011
    HIV/AIDS denialists … have never been able to do that

    Have you ever noticed that such negative claims are a bit hard to prove?

    One undeniable case of a person who has AIDS but no HIV infection would do it. In fact, you’ve got all of Koch’s postulates to try and find counter-examples for, so, no, I decline to think you’ve got an unfair burden.

  75. #75 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 17, 2011

    Actually, I made an error in my previous comment. One person who undeniably had AIDS but not HIV infection would certainly cause us to reexamine our current view of the disease, but there would be other explanations simpler than “HIV doesn’t cause AIDS at all,” such as “it is possible for the HIV retrovirus to be eliminated from the body, but this does not necessarily stop the disease processes that were triggered by the earlier presence of HIV.”

    It seems the fundamental error that Mr. Karpinski is making is in simply thinking that the leading edge of scientific research is or should be easy, and that if it’s hard to challenge the massive body of evidence collected which indicates that HIV is the causative agent of AIDS, that translates into “we’re being treated unfairly because of our beliefs” rather than “maybe our beliefs are so hard to support with evidence because they’re incorrect.

  76. #76 Prometheus
    November 17, 2011

    HIV denialism (I don’t think there too many people “denying” the existence of AIDS) is a particular bane of mine, as I teach Virology. About once a year, some misguided student will challenge me, stating that AIDS isn’t caused by HIV but by illicit drug use or – stranger yet – by the protease inhibitors used to treat HIV infections.

    This latter fantasy is especially irritating because I was in San Francisco during the early ’80′s, checking CD4/CD8 ratios and helping (in my very small way) to look for a cause for this new immune deficiency disease. There were no protease inhibitors or nucleoside analogues in use at the time, but AIDS was definitely present, in numbers too high to ignore. In fact, there were hundreds of people suffering from AIDS in the SF area before we even knew that it was caused by a virus.

    I just wanted to forstall the (nearly) inevitable “It’s the HIV drugs that cause AIDS!” claim.

    Prometheus

  77. #77 dt
    November 17, 2011

    Prometheus, a prevailing myth was that zidovudine [AZT] caused AIDS, and that the 120,000 or so deaths from AIDS in the 80s and 90s were therefore directly caused by AZT, and that AZT caused “AIDS”.

    There were 3 reasons they thought that.

    1. Some people on AZT died (a bit like if some people treated with antibiotics for meningitis still die, that proves antibiotics killed them and not meningitis?)

    2. A few of the listed side effects of AZT bore some very superficial similarities to the clinically-inexperienced eye with the clinical problems seen with advanced HIV/AIDS.

    3. See 1 and 2 above.

  78. #78 Calli Arcale
    November 17, 2011

    dt:

    1. Some people on AZT died (a bit like if some people treated with antibiotics for meningitis still die, that proves antibiotics killed them and not meningitis?)

    I’ve seen that claim, actually, that a person who died of actually died of the antibiotics used in an ultimately futile attempt to treat it. Mostly, it’s by germ-theory denialists. I’ve seen it several times from homeopaths.

  79. #79 LW
    November 17, 2011

    This is something I’ve wondered about HIV/AIDS. Suppose you found someone who had “AIDS”, that is, an acquired immune deficiency syndrome not caused by chemotherapy, immunosuppressants, or other things that we know cause an acquired immune deficiency, but you determined that that person had never had HIV either.

    Why would that cast doubt on the abundant evidence that HIV causes AIDS? It seems to me that all it would imply is that there are other viruses or environmental impacts that can *also* cause “AIDS”. Now that we’ve been alerted to look for them, we might find there are a number of viruses that can cause “AIDS”, but the one that is currently widespread is HIV.

  80. #80 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 17, 2011

    Why would that cast doubt on the abundant evidence that HIV causes AIDS? It seems to me that all it would imply is that there are other viruses or environmental impacts that can *also* cause “AIDS”. Now that we’ve been alerted to look for them, we might find there are a number of viruses that can cause “AIDS”, but the one that is currently widespread is HIV.

    I must differ. If we were to find a situation where it was clear that something else other than HIV had caused AIDS, Occam’s Razor would require that we look at the possibility that that other causative agent was in fact the sole causative agent of AIDS. It’s unlikely that any such causative agent could have been “hiding in plain sight” all along, of course, but if we assume it for the sake of argument, we have to go back and say “Were all these people who we thought had AIDS that followed from HIV infection actually people who had AIDS as a consequence of Other Virus infection? Did we miss the presence of Other Virus in all those people, and fail to understand that it was the true cause of illness?”

    Of course, the chance of that hypothesis turning out correct would be pretty small. You’d only need to find one case of someone who had AIDS but had never had Other Virus, to debunk the idea that Other Virus is and always was the true causative agent of AIDS. From there, the next most probable hypothesis would be something like “AIDS is a disease process which can be caused by HIV, or by Other Virus, or potentially by other unknown agents which share similarity X with HIV and Other Virus.”

    But yes, if we found a single case where AIDS had unquestionably been caused by something other than HIV, we would have to re-examine our beliefs about HIV ever being the cause. Otherwise we would be like the misguided antivaxxers who came up with the (not inherently unreasonable) hypothesis that thimerosal in vaccines was causing an upsurge in autism, and instead of correctly dropping the hypothesis when the evidence refuted the perception of the upsurge in autism, just kept trying to devise some way they could still believe something about vaccines had made some children autistic.

  81. #81 Denice Walter
    November 17, 2011

    Just a few notes:( pardon my haste- long day)

    HIV/AIDS denialists were all not created equal and subscribe to different myths or combinations thereof:

    1. a few dispute that there even *is* a specific virus at all- what was isolated were bits and pieces of other virii.
    2. HIV tests are also irrelevant because other conditions can result in a positive readings
    4. there is a virus but it is virtually harmless.
    5. the devastation of immunity is caused by ( choose one or more)-impoverished living conditions, contaminated water, malnutrition/ starvation, other viral infection, malaria, IV drug usage, a “fast track” gay life style ( i.e. promiscuity, drugs, amyl nitrate, STDs), intestinal dysbiosis
    6. stress causes the symptoms ( e.g. patient is given the diagnosis of AIDS- fear and stress lead to death!!!!)
    7. AZT, DDI, HAART themselves cause AIDS.

    If you don’t believe in a virus that destoys immunity why would you promote safe(r) sex, testing, or early use of an ARV- it’s only related to sex between “fast” gays and easily “cured” by better nutrition.

  82. #82 Richard Karpinski
    November 17, 2011

    I think it’s sad that Dr. Nobuto Yamamoto’s work with GcMAF, the potent macrophage activating factor has not been pursued. He had fifteen or so young, otherwise healthy Japanese HIV+ patients in Japan and cured them all within 18 weeks with weekly 100 nanogram doses of GcMAF. The article is in a respected peer reviewed journal and is available on line. See GcMAF.eu for more information including reports from others using that medication.

    Apparently, cancers, some viruses, and HIV (via gp120, said to be a viral coat protein), as well as pregnancy all cause high blood levels of Nagalase, (alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase) which prevents formation of GcMAF. This does constitute an immune system deficiency since activated macrophages are heroic immune system fighters. I am working to make GcMAF more widely available. What are you doing?

    However, the very strong connection between HIV and AIDS seems largely a result of the rules. If you die of tuberculosis and are HIV+ you died of AIDS. If you die of the same disease and are HIV- then you died of tuberculosis. Them’s the rules, buddy.

  83. #83 nwpassage
    November 17, 2011

    As far as the reporting of science to us non-scientists, all too often it goes the way of this cartoon.

  84. #84 LW
    November 18, 2011

    Thank you for your response, Antaeus Feldspar, but I think you misunderstood me. In fact, you seem to think I’m saying that AIDS-without-HIV would mean HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, whereas I’m arguing that that’s the wrong conclusion, even though denialists push it.  You say, 

    From there, the next most probable hypothesis would be something like “AIDS is a disease process which can be caused by HIV, or by Other Virus, or potentially by other unknown agents which share similarity X with HIV and Other Virus.”

    Yes, that’s exactly what I meant.  If we found someone who had “AIDS” but not HIV, that’s the right hypothesis, not “Other Virus is the true cause of AIDS”, which is what denialists seem to argue and others seem to accept. 

    Imagine that we’d never seen smallpox or chickenpox or cowpox, and smallpox burst on to the scene.  We’d identify the causative agent of “pox” and we’d be looking for a way to prevent its spread. If someone turned up with “pox”, but not smallpox, that wouldn’t invalidate the fact that smallpox causes “pox”; it would only mean that we need to learn to distinguish between smallpox and chickenpox.  If we’d never seen either one, of course, we’d have no reason to think there even was such a distinction. 

    Likewise with “AIDS”. Right now, we know of one virus that causes it; that virus is very widespread and devastating. But if we found someone who had “AIDS” but not HIV, it would only mean that we need to start distinguishing the various viruses, although right now we have no reason to think there even is such a distinction.

    The evidence that HIV causes AIDS stands by itself. HIV denialists claim that finding that some other, rarer, virus does the same would invalidate that evidence, and I don’t think one should implicitly accept that contention by saying, for instance, “One person who undeniably had AIDS but not HIV infection would certainly cause us to reexamine our current view of the disease”.

  85. #85 dt
    November 18, 2011

    @82 RichardKarpinski

    I presume this is the product available for $660 per shot, taken once a week (have your VISA handy and bank manager on standby for that overdraft) that has been shown to prevent AND cure cancer, cure HIV/AIDS and cure Autism?

    PS: immunobiologicals that can apparently eradicate HIV infections from macrophages do not a cure from HIV make.

  86. #86 dt
    November 18, 2011

    @Richard:

    However, the very strong connection between HIV and AIDS seems largely a result of the rules. If you die of tuberculosis and are HIV+ you died of AIDS. If you die of the same disease and are HIV- then you died of tuberculosis. Them’s the rules, buddy.

    That’s a distortion of the reality. AIDS causes immunodeficiency, so the final event is often an opportunistic infection or tumor.

    Another example: What do people with leukemia die from? Most of the time its because of an opportunistic or overwhelming infection. Does that mean that leukemia didn’t kill them? Does leukemia therefore not exist (according to other rules, buddy)?

  87. #87 dt
    November 18, 2011

    Just to comment that talking about “cases of AIDS without HIV” is somewhat circuitous. It is possible to get cases of immunodeficiency which have great similarities with the HIV-induced immunosuppressive syndrome, but which are not caused by HIV.

    The case definition of AIDS requires several things – one is that all other causes of immunosuppression are ruled out, and another is that that HIV infection is demonstrated to exist. So it is inherently impossible to have HIV-free AIDS cases. Several very similar clinical cases have been described, and people have postulated the presence of other (possibly retro-)viral origins, but these cases are few and far between.

    It is also clinically unhelpful to talk of “AIDS”, and the term has been largely redundant in medical circles for more than a decade (but is still referred to by and with patients). There is HIV infection and its complications, and far better to talk about the various clinical stages of progression of HIV than use the antiquated, black and white terms of AIDS/ HIV+ but not yet AIDS.

    Some denialists whinge that in some countries, it is possible to make a diagnosis of AIDS without HIV testing, and therefore say that these are not really cases of HIV/AIDS, but something else like malnutrition. This situation arose because for epidemiological purposes, the WHO introduced a case definition for probable AIDS in the developuing world so they could get a handle on the emerging epidemic without having to rely on HIV testing which at the time was essentially non-existent in many countries. It was an epidemiological tracking notification system, but also had clinical utility, clearly.

  88. #88 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 18, 2011

    The case definition of AIDS requires several things – one is that all other causes of immunosuppression are ruled out, and another is that that HIV infection is demonstrated to exist. So it is inherently impossible to have HIV-free AIDS cases.

    Well, yes, but the problem is that to anyone who’s having trouble seeing through the misinformation spread by HIV denialists, it looks like we’re saying “HIV is the cause of AIDS because we made it part of the definition of AIDS,” rather than “HIV is the cause of AIDS because all the science points to that conclusion.”

    Thank you for your response, Antaeus Feldspar, but I think you misunderstood me. In fact, you seem to think I’m saying that AIDS-without-HIV would mean HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, whereas I’m arguing that that’s the wrong conclusion, even though denialists push it.

    No, that’s not what I think you’re saying. What I’m saying is that a single case of AIDS-without-HIV would not cause us to automatically conclude “HIV does not cause AIDS”, but it would cause us to re-examine previous evidence with an open mind as to whether that conclusion was actually correct.

    I could understand why any sane and scientifically literate person would want to say “No, that’s ridiculous! After all the evidence we’ve collected, of course we’d still know that HIV causes AIDS!” The problem is, we are already talking about a situation defined by an extremely improbable counterfactual, namely, a case of AIDS in someone who never had HIV infection; once we grant that counterfactual for the purpose of argument, the idea that HIV might not be a cause of AIDS is no longer so improbable.

    As I said previously, the most probable explanation we would find when we re-examined the evidence would be “AIDS is almost always caused by HIV, but can rarely be caused by some alternate cause.” But the thing is, once we find one case of AIDS-without-HIV, we know that there is an agent other than HIV that can cause AIDS (let’s call it ACA). Occam’s Razor says that there being one agent that can cause AIDS is more probable than there being two such agents; since we know that ACA is one such agent, we have to consider the possibility that HIV is not such an agent!

    The problem we have talking about this is that the real-world evidence that HIV is in fact a necessary cause of AIDS is overwhelming. It’s hard to deal with a counter-factual that runs against all that real-world evidence. But if we ran into one case that established that AIDS can be caused by something other than HIV, it would mean that our understanding of how HIV relates to AIDS was, at best, incomplete – and we could not assume the best-case scenario of “everything we thought we knew about HIV is still correct except for the part where it’s a necessary cause of every case of AIDS.” Yes, re-examining the evidence might lead us to just that conclusion, but we could not assume that conclusion.

  89. #89 LW
    November 21, 2011

    Antaeus Feldspar, sorry I didn’t respond earlier. I’ve been traveling.

    I disagree that Occam’s razor would push us to assume that there is only one cause of “AIDS” and it is ACA. To assume that, we would have to also assume that all of the thousands — millions even — diagnosed with HIV and AIDS *also* had undiagnosed ACA infections.

    It is much simpler to believe that in the million years or more that creatures of our species or closely allied species have existed, at least two viruses have developed the ability to attack our immune system. Or that HIV made the leap to the human species and another such virus (and there are at least two that even *I* know of — SIV and FIV) has done likewise.

    Of course, as you point out, there’s no evidence at present that “ACA” exists, but i don’t think the point should be conceded to denialists.

  90. #90 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 21, 2011

    I disagree that Occam’s razor would push us to assume that there is only one cause of “AIDS” and it is ACA. To assume that, we would have to also assume that all of the thousands — millions even — diagnosed with HIV and AIDS *also* had undiagnosed ACA infections.

    I agree completely with the above. But it doesn’t really address my contention, because I’m talking about considering possibilities, not assuming them. If you’ll recall, I even stated that “ACA is the actual cause of all the cases of AIDS we thought were caused by HIV” was a hypothesis we’d probably reject very shortly after considering it, as not consistent with the evidence. But neither assuming it, nor rejecting it before seeing whether it’s consistent with the evidence, would be good science.

  91. #91 Pareidolius
    November 22, 2011

    Well, you’ve all met Richard Karpinski now. He’s in our North Bay Skeptics in the Studio from time to time. 9/11? An inside job. Cancer cure? He says he’s got one. HIV? Harmless passenger virus. He thinks we are all not “real” skeptics, but deluded by “them” (insert evil conspiracy here). Too bad his critical thinking skills are subjugated to whatever emotional agenda drives his fondness for conspiracies because he seems to be a very kind, intelligent person otherwise. Richard has frequently been on the receiving end of my barely controlled rage in a few meetings. You see, I fell for that crap for a few awful years. I’ve met Duesberg, and Christine Maggiore and the incredibly loopy (or just incredibly high) Kerry Mullis.
    I’ve read all their books and more. I used to really want to believe that HIV was all just a big mistake that Big Pharma took advantage of to rake in big profits. I wanted to believe it because like any gay man of my generation, I had lost many friends to AIDS, was afraid of getting infected myself, and one of my best friends at the time, Paul, was HIV positive. Ironically, it was Paul who introduced me to Duesberg in the first place. We were both deep into alt med and new agery back then, and this seemed to dovetail with that kind of magical thinking worldview. Now, while I was pretty smart, it turns out I wasn’t a terribly good critical thinker, so Duesberg’s ideas seemed like they could have been true, and hey, he was a genuine rebel scientist. I remember some of Duesberg’s arguments in Inventing the AIDS Virus seeming really convincing, but there were always nagging doubts, especially the idea that the vast majority of scientists, doctors and caregivers were somehow wrong. How could any conspiracy that big be maintained?
    Sadly, in 1996, I watched helplessly as Paul died of AIDS, with a bag of unopened protease inhibitors on his nightstand. And oddly enough, as he was declining, several of my friends were pulling back from death’s door once they started ARVs (they all flourish to this day). This was reality, and his death a terrible wake-up call. I will always regret my falling for the denialist bullshit. I’ll always wonder if I had been thinking critically, I might have been able to convince Paul to try the protease inhibitors he swore would kill him.
    So that’s why this topic sets me off more than the rest of the nonsense we talk about here on RI, the balance bands, ear candles and homeopathy. Like Gerson, Gonzales and Clark with their cancer quackery, Duesberg and his followers kill people with well-intentioned delusions of their own. I stood by and watched in solidarity with a denialist while he died and I can’t forgive myself for that, so how does Thabo Mbeki who denied treatment to thousands live with himself? Christine Maggiore convinced untold numbers of people to abandon antiretrovirals and was in denial that her daughter died of AIDS and stayed in that denial to her death from AIDS in 2010. How did she justify the loss of so many of her deciples? We’ll never know.
    So Richard Karpinski, now you know why your presence in our meetings makes me so mental. Now you know why when you trot out some lame theory of the Perth Group or Bialy or Duesberg, the same tired tropes I used to parrot fifteen years ago, I have to bite my tongue or get up and go outside. I find it nearly impossible to be civil about this subject. I wish you well, and may you never know the awful loss and regret that ultimately comes from this brand of denial and delusion and may you never convince people to agree with you.

  92. #92 Pareidolius
    November 22, 2011

    Well, you’ve all met Richard Karpinski now. He’s in our North Bay Skeptics in the Studio from time to time. 9/11? An inside job. Cancer cure? He says he’s got one. HIV? Harmless passenger virus. He thinks we are all not “real” skeptics, but deluded by “them” (insert evil conspiracy here). Too bad his critical thinking skills are subjugated to whatever emotional agenda drives his fondness for conspiracies because he seems to be a very kind, intelligent person otherwise. Richard has frequently been on the receiving end of my barely controlled rage in a few meetings. You see, I fell for that crap for a few awful years. I’ve met Duesberg, and Christine Maggiore and the incredibly loopy (or just incredibly high) Kerry Mullis.
    I’ve read all their books and more. I used to really want to believe that HIV was all just a big mistake that Big Pharma took advantage of to rake in big profits. I wanted to believe it because like any gay man of my generation, I had lost many friends to AIDS, was afraid of getting infected myself, and one of my best friends at the time, Paul, was HIV positive. Ironically, it was Paul who introduced me to Duesberg in the first place. We were both deep into alt med and new agery back then, and this seemed to dovetail with that kind of magical thinking worldview. Now, while I was pretty smart, it turns out I wasn’t a terribly good critical thinker, so Duesberg’s ideas seemed like they could have been true, and hey, he was a genuine rebel scientist. I remember some of Duesberg’s arguments in Inventing the AIDS Virus seeming really convincing, but there were always nagging doubts, especially the idea that the vast majority of scientists, doctors and caregivers were somehow wrong. How could any conspiracy that big be maintained?
    Sadly, in 1996, I watched helplessly as Paul died of AIDS, with a bag of unopened protease inhibitors on his nightstand. And oddly enough, as he was declining, several of my friends were pulling back from death’s door once they started ARVs (they all flourish to this day). This was reality, and his death a terrible wake-up call. I will always regret my falling for the denialist bullshit. I’ll always wonder if I had been thinking critically, I might have been able to convince Paul to try the protease inhibitors he swore would kill him.
    So that’s why this topic sets me off more than the rest of the nonsense we talk about here on RI, the balance bands, ear candles and homeopathy. Like Gerson, Gonzales and Clark with their cancer quackery, Duesberg and his followers kill people with well-intentioned delusions of their own. I stood by and watched in solidarity with a denialist while he died and I can’t forgive myself for that, so how does Thabo Mbeki who denied treatment to thousands live with himself? Christine Maggiore convinced untold numbers of people to abandon antiretrovirals and was in denial that her daughter died of AIDS and stayed in that denial to her death from AIDS in 2010. How did she justify the loss of so many of her deciples? We’ll never know.
    So Richard Karpinski, now you know why your presence in our meetings makes me so mental. Now you know why when you trot out some lame theory of the Perth Group or Bialy or Duesberg, the same tired tropes I used to parrot fifteen years ago, I have to bite my tongue or get up and go outside. I find it nearly impossible to be civil about this subject. I wish you well, and may you never know the awful loss and regret that ultimately comes from this brand of denial and delusion and may you never convince people to agree with you.

  93. #93 Chris
    November 22, 2011

    Pareidolius, I am so sorry about your loss. I cannot imagine your grief.

  94. #94 Pareidolius
    November 22, 2011

    Thanks Chris. Grief and the terrible beauty of death has been the fuel for much of my awakening to skepticism and activism. It also makes me appreciate life all the more.

  95. #95 lilady
    November 23, 2011

    My dear Pareidolius: I am so sorry for the loss of your dear friend Paul.

    Sometimes, when a life-changing event takes place in our mundane lives, it causes us to reorder our thinking processes. We can either continually bemoan our loss or resolve to use that loss to expand our view of life and to become an advocate. Wisely, you chose the better course.

    Your willingness to do battle with the AIDS denialists face-to-face and your advocacy on behalf of the gay community is the living, breathing memorial dedicated to Paul and your other friends whose lives were cut short by this dreadful disease.

    Again, I am sorry for your loss, but am in awe of your advocacy.

  96. #96 Julian Frost
    November 23, 2011

    [H]ow does Thabo Mbeki who denied treatment to thousands live with himself?

    Mbeki is an arrogant and extremely insecure individual. While President of South Africa, he surrounded himself with sycophants who told him what he wanted to hear. Unfortunately, he is also very intelligent, and thus able to shield himself from feedback that would prove him wrong. His ego won’t let him acknowledge the truth of what he did.

  97. #97 Diş Tedavisi
    November 27, 2011

    İts dangerous, I’am dentist in Turkey and Patients are hiding this stuation. I hope found a cure by someone. Thaks…

  98. #98 CFSBOSTON
    December 9, 2011

    AIDS patients are simply more CFS patients. And it already well-documented that HIV is not the cause of CFS/ME. The medical establishment will have you believe that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is some sort of ‘mysterious illness,’ but it’s no mystery to me; CFS/ME leads to HIV-Negative AIDS, idiopathic CD lympocytopena (a clinical diagnosis that I possess). How can the orthodox AIDS establishment continue on with a stale “It’s HIV” mantra when there are HIV-Negative AIDS cases dating back to 1992? While millions of ailing immunodeficient CFS/ME patients get belittled and neglected, very healthy HIV+ people are convinced to take a bunch of expensive, toxic medication. It’s such a sham, and its so easy to see that the medical establishment simply has their paradigms (CFS, AIDS) backwards. I am living proof that CFS/ME patients are the real AIDS patients. And its not caused by HIV.