Book Review: Denying AIDS
(T)he work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus… There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.
Dehumanization has the function of decommissioning our moral sentiments. In dehumanizing others, we exclude them from the circle of moral obligation. We can then kill, oppress, and enslave them with impunity. Taking the life of a dehumanized person becomes of no greater consequence than crushing an insect under one’s boot…
While Plato referred to the idea of the “crowd mind” and concepts such as social loafing and social facilitation were introduced in the late-1800s, it wasn’t until after World War II that research on social psychology began in earnest. The horrors of the Holocaust led researchers to study the effects of social influence, conformity and obedience.The U.S. government also became interested in applying social psychological concepts to influencing citizens…
A psychological approach to public opinion and propaganda is justified since both involve human behavior; this approach reduces the complexities to a common denominator. First are discussed the present status of psychology and the major principles of social behavior, the latter in terms of stimulus-response, personality, drive, reward and punishment, habits, attitudes and knowledge. Public opinion is then defined, its cultural background analyzed, and its behavior described in terms of such mechanisms as consistency, rationalization, displacement, projection.
My reaction was one of absolute outrage. I mean I was really angry. I was in an emotional upheaval. I surprised everyone around me, including myself, by my seemingly irrational reaction. How could someone I knew to be intelligent, well-trained as a scientist at a respectable university and in a position of influence over college students endorse a book [Duesberg’s Inventing the AIDS Virus (1996)] that everyone surely knows is outdated, biased, and of little more value than that worthy of a doorstop?
What is it about denialists that can push a scientist out of objectivity into a fit of rage? … In a personal sense, denialists are insulting our integrity and the value of our life’s work.
If HIV does not cause AIDS it would mean that thousands of scientists, researchers, medical doctors, and public health officials—essentially the entire biomedical science and public health enterprise—had conspired to maintain a lie for 25 years.
“Evidence indicates that many technologies are not adequately assessed before they enjoy widespread use… Many technologies which have been used extensively have later been shown to be of limited usefulness”…and ” … only 10 to 20 percent of all procedures currently used in medical practice have been shown to be efficacious by controlled trial.”
“With public health officials and politicians thrashing out who should be tested for HIV, the accuracy of the test itself has been ignored. A study last month by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment found that HIV tests can be very inaccurate indeed. For groups at very low risk – people who do not use IV drugs or have sex with gay or bisexual men – 9 in 10 positive findings are called false positives, indicating infection where none exists.”
This obviously has the potential to raise a lot of controversy (If this isn’t the virus, how do we know the blood supply is safe? How do we know anything about transmission? How could you all be so stupid and why should we ever believe you again?) and we need to be prepared to respond. I have already asked NIH public affairs to start digging into this.
Alas—in the past few months, inquires have been mounting… . The calls and interest are mounting. Perhaps it’s time to review and activate the attached STATEMENT.
I am glad you correctly infer from my letter that I am in many ways sympathetic to what you say. I did not ask you to revise the manuscript, however. The danger, as it seems to me, is that the dispute between you and what you call the HIV community will mislead and distress the public in the following way. You point to a number of ways in which the HIV hypothesis may be deficient. It would be a rash person who said that you are wrong, but…if we were to publish your paper, we would find ourselves asking people to believe that what has been said so far about the cause of AIDS is a pack of lies.
What is to be thought of a science journal that publishes attacks on the opinions of a scientist, but which never (or hardly ever) publishes his replies? On the face of things, this is a serious breach of journalistic ethics—and it would be legally prevented by the legislation on the press perpetually being considered by the British House of Commons. Yet that is how Nature has behaved to Dr. Peter Duesberg, the virologist from Berkeley who is identified with the view that HIV does not cause AIDS. How can such intolerance be justified? … [W]hy scorn Duesberg’s demand of the research community for answers to his proper questions?
Duesberg has not been asking questions, or raising questions he believes should be answered. … [Thus] Duesberg has forfeited the right to expect answers by his rhetorical technique. … Duesberg will not be alone in protesting that this is merely a recipe for suppressing challenges to received wisdom.
This IS a war, there ARE no rules, and we WILL crush you, one at a time, completely and utterly (at least the more influential ones; foot-soldiers like you aren’t worth bothering with).
As far as I’m concerned, and I hope this view is adequately represented, those who attempt to dispel the notion that HIV is the cause of AIDS are perpetrators of death. And I would very much for one like to see the Constitution of the United States and similar countries have some means in place that we can charge people who are responsible for endangering public health with charges of endangerment and bring them up on trial. I think that people like Peter Duesberg belong in jail. Someone who would perpetrate the notion that HIV is not the cause of AIDS is perhaps motivated by sentiments of pure evil, that such a person may perhaps really want millions of people in Africa and elsewhere to become infected by this virus and go on to die of it. And, who knows, maybe there’s a hidden agenda behind the thoughts of a madman. Maybe all psychopaths everywhere have ways of getting their views across that are sometimes camouflaged in subterfuge. But I suggest to you that Peter Duesberg is probably the closest thing we have in this world to a scientific psychopath.
We will not, ourselves, condemn our own people to death by giving up the search for specific and targeted responses to the specifically African incidence of HIV-AIDS.I make these comments because our search for these specific and targeted responses is being stridently condemned by some in our country and the rest of the world as constituting a criminal abandonment of the fight against HIV-AIDS.Some elements of this orchestrated campaign of condemnation worry me very deeply.It is suggested, for instance, that there are some scientists who are ‘dangerous and discredited’ with whom nobody, including ourselves, should communicate or interact.Not long ago, in our own country, people were killed, tortured, imprisoned and prohibited from being quoted in private and in public because the established authority believed that their views were dangerous and discredited.We are now being asked to do precisely the same thing that the racist apartheid tyranny we opposed did, because, it is said, there exists a scientific view that is supported by the majority, against which dissent is prohibited.The scientists we are supposed to put into scientific quarantine include Nobel Prize Winners, Members of Academies of Science and Emeritus Professors of various disciplines of medicine!Scientists, in the name of science, are demanding that we should cooperate with them to freeze scientific discourse on HIV-AIDS at the specific point this discourse had reached in the West in 1984.People who otherwise would fight very hard to defend the critically important rights of freedom of thought and speech occupy, with regard to the HIV-AIDS issue, the frontline in the campaign of intellectual intimidation and terrorism which argues that the only freedom we have is to agree with what they decree to be established scientific truths.Some agitate for these extraordinary propositions with a religious fervour born by a degree of fanaticism, which is truly frightening.
There is an approach which asks why is this President of South Africa trying to give legitimacy to discredited scientists, because after all, all the questions of science concerning this matter had been resolved by the year 1984. I don’t know of any science that gets resolved in that manner with a cut-off year beyond which science does not develop any further. It sounds like a biblical absolute truth and I do not imagine that science consists of biblical absolute truths.There was this very strong response saying: don’t do this. I have seen even in the last few days, a scientist who I’m quite certain is eminent who said that perhaps the best thing to do is that we should lock up some of these dissidents in jail and that would shut them up. It is a very peculiar response but it seemed to me to suggest that it must surely be because people are exceedingly worried by the fact that large numbers of people are dying. In that context any suggestion whatsoever that dealing with this is being postponed because somebody is busy looking at some obscure scientific theory, is seen as a betrayal of people. Perhaps that is why you had that kind of response which sought to say: let us freeze scientific discourse at a particular point; and let those who do not agree with the mainstream be isolated and not spoken to. Indeed it seems to be implied that one of the important measures to judge whether a scientific view is correct is to count numbers: how many scientists are on this side of the issue and how many are on the other—if the majority are on this side, then this must be correct.
There is…no single scientific paper proving HIV causes AIDS… (Rather, it takes) tens of thousands of papers containing a wide-range of evidence that, taken together, makes the overwhelming case that HIV causes immune system decline that ultimately results in AIDS… Of the more than 116,000 scientific articles listed in the PubMed database concerning the HIV disease process, or HIV pathogenesis, over 31,000 have been published in the past 5 years. AIDS scientists basing their conclusion that HIV causes AIDS on these current studies. … (I)f a scientific article is published before 2000, I would say it can be considered dated, perhaps even ignored.”
… banning people with HIV from entering the United States, prohibiting access to sterile needles and syringes, insisting on abstinence for prevention, banning condoms in prison, and interfering with access to HIV treatments.
(T)he discovery [of HIV] by Gallo and Montagnier, and perhaps the attendant publicity, may have shaped his [Duesberg’s] decision to abandon retroviruses and oncogenes as a cause of cancer and in doing so also refuting HIV as the cause of AIDS.
No research has ever even suggested the Duesbergian view of AIDS is true.
David Rasnick said at his recent cancer and Aneuploidy conference, he relies on the research of others because he does not do research himself.
David Rasnick and Matthias Rath performed… unethical and unlawful studies of mega-dose vitamins for treating HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
With the notable exception of Peter Duesberg, there are no denialists who have the credibility that comes with passing through the filters of peer review.
(Elsevier is) squeezing out the last drops of blood. But it is worse than that – they apparently have a new business model in which they are paid by lobbyists to create fake journals to publish articles supporting the lobbyists’ point of view.
Simply put, if you’re attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you’re motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you’ll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right. His model predicted… (that) 80 percent of non-randomized studies turn out to be wrong, as do 25 percent of supposedly gold-standard randomized trials, and as much as 10 percent of the platinum-standard large randomized trials. The article spelled out his belief that researchers were frequently manipulating data analyses, chasing career-advancing findings rather than good science, and even using the peer-review process—in which journals ask researchers to help decide which studies to publish—to suppress opposing views…(Ioannidis) zoomed in on 49 of the most highly regarded research findings in medicine over the previous 13 years… Of the 49 articles, 45 claimed to have uncovered effective interventions. Thirty-four of these claims had been retested, and 14 of these, or 41 percent, had been convincingly shown to be wrong or significantly exaggerated. If between a third and a half of the most acclaimed research in medicine was proving untrustworthy, the scope and impact of the problem were undeniable.