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AIDS denial – the Loch Ness Monster connection

with 46 comments

Via the ongoing and somewhat feisty discussion over at the New Statesman, I was delighted to learn more about the work of AIDS denialist Henry Bauer. While Bauer denies the evidence linking HIV and AIDS – he happily affirms the existence of the Loch Ness Monster along with various other “unorthodoxies”.

The website Avert.org has an excellent summary here on the weird cult of AIDS denialism, its main proponents and its central tenets. Many thanks to David for bringing up that link.

UPDATE - “Michael” comments:

I looked at all of Professor Bauers research into the research on Nessie, and I find nowhere in any of it, that professor Bauer “affirms the existence of the Loch Ness Monster”.

Bauer simply affirms there is yet a possibility for such undiscovered large lifeforms to exist in the lake, and nothing more and nothing less.

Richard, where exactly did you come up with such a nonexistent conclusion that Bauer “affirms the existence”?

Are your conclusions on HIV as the cause of AIDS also as dishonest as what you have so far espoused and concluded about Professor Bauer?

Well thanks for that, Michael. You might want to try checking this page from Mr. Bauer’s website.

The clue is in his statement “I happen to believe that Loch Ness monsters are real animals waiting to be identified”… and “For the evidence that Loch Ness monsters are real, and why so few people know about that evidence, see my LOCH NESS PAGE”.

46 Responses

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  1. Richard. Oddly enough,

    I looked at all of Professor Bauers research into the research on Nessie, and I find nowhere in any of it, that professor Bauer “affirms the existence of the Loch Ness Monster”.

    Bauer simply affirms there is yet a possibility for such undiscovered large lifeforms to exist in the lake, and nothing more and nothing less.

    Richard, where exactly did you come up with such a nonexistent conclusion that Bauer “affirms the existence”?

    Are your conclusions on HIV as the cause of AIDS also as dishonest as what you have so far espoused and concluded about Professor Bauer?

    Michael

    September 23, 2008 at 1:34 am

  2. Vasculogenic mimicry as a tumor biofilm.

    In the context of cancer, perhaps an misguided emphasis has been placed upon aneuploidy, sequential deregulation of oncogenes, escape mutants, drug-resistant pumps, and other types of possible tumor and drug resistance mechanisms. Many scientists, including this author, may have overlooked the obvious, despite the fact that “it” was staring us in the face all along. There appears to be a striking parallel between microbial biofilms and the formation of tumor biofilms or what we described as vasculogenic mimicry patterns. It is the purpose of the essay to specifically list these parallels and discuss the implications for this important mode of both tumor, and microbial pathogenesis.

    The existence of an extravascular network of extracellar matrix, made predominantly of polysaccharade-like residues, was discovered in malignant tumors many years ago. These extracellular matrix patterns have been puzzled over, and have been controversial as to their significance and function. In recent decades, these extravascular matrix patterns were linked to a malignant tumor course. 1-2

    More recently, these extravascular matrix patterns have been linked to the phenomenon described as vasculogenic mimicry (VM) in melanomas,3 as well as in a variety of different solid neoplasms that exhibit back to back loops of polysaccharide-rich extracellular matrix residues. The mechanisms involved in VM formation have been widely confirmed and described, and their role in tumor perfusion measured 4-16 Looping patterns have even been detected in genetically-constructed malignant, but not non-malignant tumors in Drosophila. 17

    Recently, there has been a suggestion to re- name the process of vasculogenic mimicry and the formation of extravascular matrix patterns as “a fluid conducting meshwork. 18

    1. In malignant tumor progression, the data suggest that vasculogenic mimicry (VM) patterns form where a stream of aqueous solution (plasma) flows in and around a tumor. The literature on biofilms says:

    “Biofilms are a collection of microorganisms surrounded by the slime they secrete, attached to either an inert or living surface. You are already familiar with some biofilms: the plaque on your teeth, the slippery slime on river stones, and the gel-like film on the inside of a vase which held flowers for a week. Biofilm exists wherever surfaces contact water.”

    2. In malignant tumor progression, the data suggest that the aggressive tumor cells make the VM patterns, and that these cells shape the polysaccharide matrix as they form it. The biofilm literature says:

    “Biofilms are a collection of microorganisms surrounded by the slime they secrete, attached to either an inert or living surface.”

    3. In malignant tumor progression, the evidence shows that VM pattern-forming matrices are molded by subpopulations of initially invasive tumor cells, and that they become populated by cells of different characteristics from the invasive cells as they become non-proliferative and closely associated with the matrix. According to the literature on biofilms:

    “Material properties of the biofilm phenotype are not defined by traditional principles of microbiology; rather, they are properties of organic polymers (material) demonstrating behavior of rheological fluids.

    “Shear forces and nutritional availability influence the 3-D architecture (Stage III) and
    dispersal (Stage IV), mostly.”

    “Time-dependent response of biofilms is modeled on the principles of viscoelasticity, with states the biofilm dynamic response is defined in terms of compliance, storage and viscosity, a reflection of the organic polymer-like structure. It highlights why antibiotics alone will not reduce the bioburden of the biofilm.”

    “Infection and disease potential can be defined by three interactive variables (Risk factors): Bioburden, Resistance, and Host immunity.”

    “The co-biofilm increases robustness with maturity and number of organisms, with a 4-
    stage, universal growth cycle: Stage I, Log; Stage II, Logarithmic; Stage III, Stationary
    and IV, Apoptosis/metastasis.”

    “The non-uniform spatial pattern and non-uniform susceptibility with physiologic heterogeneity (3D-architecture) equals antibiotic “tolerance” and development of stage III, “persister cells”.

    Figure 1.

    PAS reaction without counterstain of cutaneous malignant melanoma showing patterns of interconnected PAS-positive loops forming networks around colonies of tumor cells. (X280). Scale bar = 100 micrometers. (From Thies et al., Journal of Pathology, 195, 537-542, who were among the first to confirm the presence of mimicry. PAS-positive loops and networks as an indicator in cutaneous malignant melanoma).

    Below I list similarities between vasculogenic mimicry patterns, and natural biofilms that occur amongst microorganism communities, as described from a variety of different sources on biofilms that were compiled by noted dental biofilm researcher, Professor John Thomas. (From The Sciences of Biofilm Dynamics — 6/3/2005). I have also included a section on how biofilms may develop, and I urge you to note the similarities regarding the terminology and conceptualizations commonly used in the biofilm arena versus the cancer arena:

    Some Key parallels between microbial biofilms and tumors were described by Thomas 19 as follows (note emboldened words):

    THE SCIENCE OF BIOFILM DYNAMICS
    John Thomas, Ph.D., Professor

    I. INTRODUCTION
    Which Phenotype? Or “What’s in a Name?”.

    Microbial biofilms (Phenotype – PB) are as common as the planktonic microorganisms
    (Phenotype – PP) that cause them.

    Virtually any liquid environment where organisms are subject to 1) shear forces and 2) limited nutrition will select for up-regulation to biofilm growth (PB). In fact, given the environmental selective pressures, 99.9% of bacteria will preferentially construct a biofilm phenotype (PB).
    The 2 phenotypes are not mutually exclusive. Biofilms (PB) are the universal strategy for
    survival, horizontal gene transfer and growth (colonization Resistance) and the ancestor
    of the planktonic, free floating organisms, which are very specialized transmissible and
    symptom associated microbes (PP) (Germ Theory).

    II.COMMUNITY
    To attach is to survive. In the human ecosystem, there are greater than 1014 procaryotic bacteria, and an unknown number of eukaryotic organisms such as yeast, more than any lumenal cell (eucaryotes). In the oral cavity, there are greater than 700 different microbial species. However, only a select proportion will efficiently up-regulate to a biofilm phenotype (PB) on the 1) gingival or 2) tooth surface or 3) periodontal pocket based on stress response genes and cell signaling via Quorum Sensing/Quorum Diffusion (Gram Positive Pheromones).

    Eight key environmental/cultural characteristics magnify the selection of multi-species
    biofilm inhabitants: Gingivitis and cariogenic (microaerophilic microbes) and/or periodontics (anaerobic microbes). The unifying concept is the Ecological Hypothesis; it states that ecological pressure is necessary for low number pathogens to out-compete resident flora and achieve numerical dominance associated with disease.

    Both prokaryotes and eukaryotes are important, particularly a co-biofilm of Candida spp
    and Pseudomonas spp.

    Infection and disease potential can be defined by three interactive variables (Risk factors): Bioburden (tumor burden?), Resistance (tumor resistance?) and Host immunity (absence or presence of intact immune system?).

    The co-biofilm increases robustness with maturity (tumor age?) and number of organisms (tumor size?), with a 4-stage, universal growth cycle: Stage I, Log; Stage II, Logarithmic; Stage III, Stationary and IV, Apoptosis/metastasis. The non-uniform spatial pattern and non-
    uniform susceptibility with physiologic heterogeneity (3D-architecture) equals antibiotic “tolerance” and development of stage III, “persister cells”. (What are these “persister cells?”

    Planktonic phenotypes (PP) are equivalent to Stage “0”

    Conflicts of interest define the interplay of PB Vs PP: individual vs group selection, competition vs cooperation and highlights the significant, similarity between tumors and biofilms. (Thomas’s words, not mine).

    The interplay of biofilm/planktonic phenotypes and 3-D architecture of the biofilm is
    universal for growth in: human, agricultural and industrial biofilms.

    III. PROPERTIES
    Material-like properties of the biofilm phenotype are not defined by traditional principles of
    microbiology; rather, they are properties of organic polymers (material) demonstrating behavior of rheological fluids. Shear forces and nutritional availability influence the 3-D architecture (Stage III) and dispersal (Stage IV), mostly. Time-dependent response of biofilms is modeled on the principles of viscoelasticity, with states the biofilm dynamic response is defined in terms of compliance, storage and viscosity, a reflection of the organic polymer-like structure (the VM patterns)?

    It highlights why antibiotics alone will not reduce the bioburden of the biofilm.

    IV. DISEASE Ratio of PB/PP?

    Oral biofilms constitute a significant reservoir for microbes associated with human chronic and systemic disease, transmitted by metastasis of Stage IV, down-regulated aggregates in (3-10 mu sizes) in VAP as an example.

    Today there are level 17 diseases involving greater than 30 bacteria/yeast. The dis-
    aggregate composition of PP/PBseems to be important and is a reflection of co-inhabitants
    and selective pressures on apoptosis of the biofilm (stage IV).

    Diseases with oral flora biofilm association include: VAP, low birth weight babies,
    and PROM. V. INTERVENTION

    Multiple-strategies
    Therapeutics modulities are refocusing on multiple interventions, recognizing the properties of biofilms similar to organic polymers. Further, antibiotics recently, have been un-recommended for peridontitis in the UK. We have evaluated in our biofilm model, four combinations of:

    1)mechanical disruption/removal (sonication),
    2)immune modulation (azithromycin/low dose doxycline and a CMT(Col-3),
    3)anti-infections (silver/tobromycin)and
    4) essential oils.”

    “Each ingredient at impacts different stages of the biofilm architecture, Stage I-IV and planktonic phenotype (Stage 0). Key component emphasizing a “hold” of Stage I to Stage II up-regulation.
    One cannot eliminate the preformed, biofilm, but by reducing the bioburden and effectively managing the Ecological Hypothesis, maintain a normal flora that favors oral planktonic over the biofilm phenotype with non-cariogenic and non-periopathogen inhabitants. The biofilm can be maintained preferentially as non-pathogenic.”

    “VI. SUMMARY
    A natural biofilm (PB) is the preferred method of growth and survival reflecting:
    1) the normal flora (co-inhabitants) and 2) environmental stress.”

    “The close similarity between a neoplasia and natural biofilm 3-D architecture reflects:
    1) individual versus group level selection, 2) competitive behavior versus cooperation, 3) resource consumption versus economical use and 4) heterogeneous cell signaling.”

    “Anti-biofilm management must recognize: 1) the polymer hydrogel-like properties of
    a biofilm and 2) that disease transmission and progression is associated with the
    proportion of PB : PP in dispersal (Stage IV).”

    Steps in Biofilm Development
    The instant a clean pipe is filled with water, a biofilm begins to form. The development of the biofilm occurs in the following steps:

    Step 1.
    Surface conditioning
    The first substances associated with the surface are not bacteria but trace organics (fibrinogen in tumors)? Almost immediately after the clean pipe surface comes into contact with water, an organic layer deposits on the water/solid interface (Mittelman 1985). These organics are said to form a “conditioning layer” which neutralizes excessive surface charge and surface free energy which may prevent a bacteria cell from approaching near enough to initiate attachment. In addition, the adsorbed organic molecules often serve as a nutrient source for bacteria. (Plasminogen in tumors)?

    Step 2.
    Adhesion of ‘pioneer’ bacteria
    In a pipe of flowing water, some of the planktonic (free-floating) bacteria will approach the pipe wall and become entrained within the boundary layer, the quiescent zone at the pipe wall where flow velocity falls to zero. Some of these cells will strike and adsorb to the surface for some finite time, and then desorb. This is called reversible adsorption. This initial attachment is based on electrostatic attraction and physical forces, not any chemical attachments. Some of the reversibly adsorbed cells begin to make preparations for a lengthy stay by forming structures which may permanently adhere the cell to the surface. These cells become irreversibly adsorbed.

    Step 3.
    Glycocalyx or ‘slime’ formation
    Biofilm bacteria excrete extracellular polymeric substances, or sticky polymers, which hold the biofilm together and cement it to the pipe wall. In addition, these polymer strands trap scarce nutrients and protect bacteria from biocides. According to Mittelman (1985), “Attachment is mediated by extracellular polymers that extend outward from the bacterial cell wall (much like the structure of a spider’s web). This polymeric material, or glycocalyx, consists of charged and neutral polysaccharides groups that not only facilitate attachment but also act as an ion-exchange system for trapping and concentrating trace nutrients from the overlying water. The glycocalyx also acts as a protective coating for the attached cells which mitigates the effects of biocides and other toxic substances.”

    As nutrients accumulate, the pioneer cells proceed to reproduce. The daughter cells then produce their own glycocalyx, greatly increasing the volume of ion exchange surface. Pretty soon a thriving colony of bacteria is established. (Mayette 1992)

    In a mature biofilm (advanced tumor containing numerous VM patterns), more of the volume is occupied by the loosely organized glycocalyx matrix (75-95%) than by bacterial cells (5-25%) (Geesey 1994). Because the glycocalyx matrix holds a lot of water, a biofilm-covered surface is gelatinous and slippery.

    Step 4.
    Secondary Colonizers
    As well as trapping nutrient molecules, the glycocalyx net also snares other types of microbial cells through physical restraint and electrostatic interaction (macrophages)? These secondary colonizers metabolize wastes from the primary colonizers as well as produce their own waste which other cells then use in turn. According to Borenstein (1994), these “other bacteria and fungi become associated with the surface following colonization by the pioneering species over a matter of days.”

    Step 5.
    Fully Functioning Biofilm A cooperative “consortia” of species
    The mature, fully functioning biofilm is like a living tissue on the pipe surface. It is a complex, metabolically cooperative community made up of different species each living in a customized microniche. Biofilms are even considered to have primitive circulatory systems. Mature biofilms are imaginatively described in the article “Slime City”:

    “Different species live cheek-by-jowl in slime cities, helping each other to exploit food supplies and to resist antibiotics through neighborly interactions. Toxic waste produced by one species might be hungrily devoured by its neighbor. And by pooling their biochemical resources to build a communal slime city, several species of bacteria, each armed with different enzymes, can break down food supplies that no single species could digest alone.” “The biofilms are permeated at all levels by a network of channels through which water, bacterial garbage, nutrients, enzymes, metabolites and oxygen travel to and fro. Gradients of chemicals and ions between microzones provide the power to shunt the substances around the biofilm.” (Coghlan 1996)

    Biofilms grow and spread
    A biofilm can spread at its own rate by ordinary cell division and it will also periodically release new ‘pioneer’ cells to colonize downstream sections of piping. As the film grows to a thickness that allows it to extend through the boundary layer into zones of greater velocity and more turbulent flow, some cells will be sloughed off. According to Mayette (1992), “These later pioneer cells have a somewhat easier time of it than their upstream predecessors since the parent film will release wastes into the stream which may serve as either the initial organic coating for uncolonized pipe sections down stream or as nutrient substances for other cell types.”

    How fast does biofilm develop?
    According to Mittelman (1985), the development of a mature biofilm may take several hours to several weeks, depending on the system. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common ‘pioneer’ bacteria and is used in a lot of biofilm research. In one experiment (Vanhaecke 1990, see test summary pg 11), researchers found that Pseudomonas cells adhere to stainless steel, even to electropolished surfaces, within 30 seconds of exposure.

    Reasons for development: food and protection

    The association of bacteria with a surface and the development of a biofilm can be viewed as a survival mechanism. Bacteria benefit by acquiring nutrients and protection from biocides.

    Food
    Potable water, especially high-purity water systems, are nutrient-limited environments, but even nutrient concentrations too low to measure are sufficient to permit microbial growth and reproduction. Bacteria and other organisms capable of growth in nutrient-limited environments are called oligotrophs. Bacteria have evolved the means to find and attach to surfaces in order to increase the chances of encountering nutrients. What advantages are offered by adhesion to surfaces and development of biofilm?

    1. Trace organics will concentrate on surfaces.
    2. Extracellular polymers will further concentrate trace nutrients from the bulk water.
    3. Secondary colonizers utilize the waste products from their neighbors.
    4. By pooling their biochemical resources, several species of bacteria, each armed with different enzymes, can break down food supplies that no single species could digest alone.

    What means have bacteria developed to find and attach to surfaces?

    Motility and chemotaxis

    Motile bacteria can swim along a chemical concentration gradient towards a higher concentration of a nutrient. The movement of organisms in response to a chemical (nutrient) gradient is called chemotaxis. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the motile bacteria which uses a flagellum to move toward higher nutrient concentrations at the pipe wall. In a study on the attachment of Pseudomonas to stainless steel surfaces (Stanley 1983), researchers put cells in a blender to remove the flagella. They found that the rate of cell attachment decreased at least 90% when flagella were removed.

    Hydrophobic cell wall

    Many organisms (tumor cells) faced with the starvation conditions encountered in purified water systems (growing tumors) respond by altering their cell wall structure to increase their affinity for surfaces. By altering the protein and lipid composition of the outer membrane, the charge and hydrophobicity can be changed. The cell wall becomes hydrophobic. “Such hydrophobic cells want nothing more than to find their way out of the water column. Once in the boundary layer (the dead zone at the piping wall where flow velocity falls to zero), they are attracted to the pipe surface (Mayette 1992).”

    Extracellular polymer production

    Once at the surface, bacteria cells anchor themselves to the surface with their sticky polymers. Simple shear (flushing) is no longer adequate to remove these cells.

    Protection from disinfectants

    “Once the microorganisms have attached, they must be capable of withstanding normal disinfection processes. Biofilm bacteria display a resistance to biocides that may be considered stunning” (LeChevallier 1988).

    This researcher demonstrated that biofilm associated bacteria may be 150-3000 times more resistant to free chlorine and 2-100 times more resistant to monochloramine than free-floating bacteria.

    Another researcher’s work (Anderson 1990, see test summary below) suggests that Pseudomonas has a clever way of eluding its attackers: It secretes a sticky slime that builds up on the pipe interior. A germicide flushed through the water distribution system kills free-floating microbes, but it can’t touch bacteria embedded in the slimy biofilm.

    Roger Anderson and his colleagues at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control took plastic pipes and filled them with water contaminated with two strains of Pseudomonas. After allowing the bacteria to incubate for eight weeks, the scientists emptied out the infested water and doused the pipes with germ-killing chemicals, including chlorine, for seven days. They then refilled the pipes with sterile water and periodically sampled the “clean” water. The team reported that both strains survived in the chemically treated pipes and reestablished colonies there.

    When bacteria are in a film, they are very resistant to biocides. “In fact, they often produce more exopolymers after biocide treatment to protect themselves” (Borenstein 1994).

    How does the biofilm provide protection from disinfectants?

    Protective shield

    In order to destroy the cell responsible for forming the biofilm, the disinfectant must first react with the surrounding polysaccharide network. The cells themselves are not actually more resistant, rather they have surrounded themselves with a protective shield. The disinfectant’s oxidizing power is used up before it can reach the cell.

    Diffusion limitations

    When cells are attached to a pipe wall, delivery of the disinfectant is limited by the rate of diffusion of the compound across the boundary layer and through the film. It takes a higher concentration over a longer contact time for the disinfectant to reach the bacteria cells in a biofilm compared to free-floating organisms

    Trace organics will concentrate on surfaces.

    1. Extracellular polymers will further concentrate trace nutrients from the bulk water.

    2. Secondary colonizers utilize the waste products from their neighbors.
    3. By pooling their biochemical resources, several species of bacteria, each armed with different enzymes, can break down food supplies that no single species could digest alone.

    New discoveries

    Recent research from the Center for Biofilm Engineering has dispelled some earlier assumptions about bacteria and biofilms.

    Center for Biofilm Engineering
    The Center for Biofilm Engineering was established at Montana State University in Bozeman in 1990 by the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers program. Their mission is to advance the basic knowledge and education required to understand, control, and exploit biofilm processes. Visit the center’s home page at http://www.erc.montana.edu.

    Biofilm structure
    In the past, microbiologists assumed that biofilms contained disorderly clumps of bacteria located in no particular structure or pattern. New techniques to magnify biofilms without destroying the gel-like structures have enabled researchers to discover the complex structure of biofilms as if viewing a city from a satellite. This structure is described in the recent article “Slime City” (Coghlan 1996) :

    “In most cases, the base of the biofilm is a bed of dense, opaque slime 5 to 10 micrometers thick. It is a sticky mix of polysacharides, other polymeric substances and water, all produced by the bacteria. Soaring 100 to 200 micrometers upwards are colonies of bacteria shaped like mushrooms or cones. Above street level comes more slime, this time of a more watery makeup and variable consistency with a network of channels through which water, bacterial garbage, nutrients, enzymes, metabolites and oxygen travel. ”

    Some microcolonies are simple conical structures, while others are mushroom shaped. Water currents (arrows) flow in channels between the colonies carrying nutrients and waste. (Costerton 1995)

    Biochemistry of Biofilm Bacteria
    Past researchers assumed that biofilm bacteria behaved much like solitary, free-floating microorganisms. Now, they are discovering that while it’s true that biofilm bacteria have exactly the same genetic makeup as their free-roving cousins, their biochemistry is very different because they switch to using a different set of genes. For example, the Center for Biofilm Engineering has studied how Pseudomonas aeruginosa forms biofilms. The instant the bacteria dock to glass, they switch on certain genes involved in the synthesis of alginate (an unusually sticky form of slime), switching them off again once the bacteria are engulfed in alginate.

    Researchers now estimate that as many as 30 to 40 percent of the proteins present in bacterial cell walls differ between sessile and planktonic bacteria (called ‘city dwellers’ and ‘free-rovers’ by Coghlan 1996). Some of the targets for antibiotics are not there any more, so bacteria become difficult to kill. This is primarily a problem with biofilms inside humans and animals.

    Chemical Signals
    Researchers are studying the chemicals (called sigma factors) which signal bacteria to change their biochemistry to life in a biofilm (Costerton 1995). If they can discover a “reverse sigma factor” which would change biofilm bacteria into planktonic free-floaters, it might be possible to dissolve biofilms by “sending the equivalent of an evacuation signal (Coghlan 1996).”

    Implications for sanitization
    Traditional disinfectant testing has been done with single-species free-floating laboratory cultures. The CT constant for a disinfectant is the product of (concentration) x (time) required to kill a particular bacteria. However, CT values shouldn’t be extrapolated to bacteria in biofilms.

    What does this mean for automated drinking water systems? For one thing, it explains how bacteria counts can be measured even when the water contains low levels of chlorine. Typical chlorine levels in tap water are between 0.5-2.0 ppm. This amount of chlorine has been shown to kill free-floating bacteria, but may not be enough to kill biofilm bacteria. Chunks of sloughed off biofilm can contain viable bacteria which show up in plate counts. This is a particular problem with Pseudomonas which is a great slime producer and so is more chlorine resistant. One animal facility determined through their own testing that they need approximately 3 ppm chlorine in RO water to achieve low Pseudomonas counts.

    1. Folberg R, Pe’er J, Gruman LM, Woolson RF, Jeng G, Montague PR, Moninger TO, Yi H, Moore KC: The morphologic characteristics of tumor blood vessels as a marker of tumor progression in primary human uveal melanoma: a matched case-control study. Hum Pathol, 23:1298-1305,1992.

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    19. Thomas JG. Department of Otolaryngology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.

    Andrew Maniotis

    September 23, 2008 at 5:23 am

  3. Michael – you obviously weren’t looking very hard. The clue is in Mr Bauer’s statement “I happen to believe that Loch Ness monsters are real animals waiting to be identified”… and “For the evidence that Loch Ness monsters are real, and why so few people know about that evidence, see my LOCH NESS PAGE”.

    So who’s being dishonest, Michael?

    rcameronw

    September 23, 2008 at 6:05 am

    • This is a total Fake As i have been researching the lochness monster forever and i have even been in the lake in search of her no sign and this happens to be a boat with a head like nessie but not her and the person whos took this picture is Dishonest and Added Grayscale Any1 can do that

      Aaliyah

      October 17, 2009 at 7:34 am

  4. Andrew – your knowledge of long words is jolly impressive! Now tell me, as a layman – does this prove or disprove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster?

    rcameronw

    September 23, 2008 at 6:07 am

  5. Who are you trying to kid?

    Bauer’s statement of “I happen to believe….though I may be wrong” is far from Richard Wilson’s claim that Bauer has “affirmed the existence of”.

    So to answer your question “So who’s being dishonest, Michael?”

    You are being dishonest. Again.

    Michael

    September 24, 2008 at 4:59 pm

  6. Michael, Michael, I have to say that I’m sensing some real hostility from you here…

    I’d take the view, and I think that many reasonable people would agree, that the statement: “I happen to believe that Loch Ness monsters are real animals waiting to be identified” can reasonably be said to constitute an affirmation of the existence of the Loch Ness monster, whether or not it’s followed by a caveat that “I may be wrong”.

    I would argue, for example, that someone who says “I believe in God”, is affirming the existence of God, even if, like good reasonable non-fundamentalists, they then add the caveat that “I may be wrong”. We might say that it’s a tentative affirmation, but it’s still an affirmation, in my view…

    But in addition to this, I think we also need to look at Bauer’s statement: “For the evidence that Loch Ness monsters are real, and why so few people know about that evidence, see my LOCH NESS PAGE”.

    I would argue (or perhaps even ‘affirm’) that this statement entails a claim that there is evidence that Loch Ness monsters are real [and that not many people know about the evidence, and that the evidence, and the explanation for not many people knowing about it, can be found at Henry Bauer's "LOCH NESS PAGE"]

    But actually I think that this is something of a diversionary point – the reason I raised the Nessie connection in the first place is to make the point that Henry Bauer, alongside denying the link between HIV and AIDS, believes in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, and that maybe we need to take this into account when reading his work. I’m sorry if my phraseology was in any way confusing…

    Richard Wilson

    September 24, 2008 at 8:50 pm

  7. Richard, looks like you need to impose a 2000 word limit here too, just to keep in check the irrelevant spam that Andrew Maniotis continually spews out.

    David

    October 20, 2008 at 9:04 am

  8. It’s tempting – but at the same time I kind of like Andrew’s incoherent stream of consciousness stuff… there’s a sort of zen-like pleasure in scanning through page after page of sober-sciencey-sounding stuff and realising that it actually is complete and utter gibberish!

    Richard Wilson

    October 20, 2008 at 10:49 pm

  9. Ha! That’s really funny – I’ve just checked the New Statesman article again and I see that they’ve imposed a word limit there. So at least Andrew is having some sort of an impact on the world… Way to go Maniotis – you made a difference!

    Richard Wilson

    October 20, 2008 at 10:51 pm

  10. “…alongside denying the link between HIV and AIDS, believes in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, and that maybe we need to take this into account when reading his work.”

    How is it exactly supposed to affect us if we take that into account when reading his work? Especially if we haven’t spent nearly as much time as he did looking into the Loch Ness case… ?

    Sadun Kal

    February 9, 2009 at 11:17 pm

  11. That’s up to you, Sadun Kal. If, on reading up about his views on Nessie, you feel inspired to follow his thinking on that too, then good luck to ya! Maybe we could organise a joint research mission? It’s certainly a more innocuous activity than denying the link between HIV and AIDS…

    Richard Wilson

    February 9, 2009 at 11:38 pm

  12. Considering how many new species we discover with every passing year, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Bauer’s arguments if I look at it objectively. He certainly straightened me out on the Loch Ness thing. Because I was also one of the people who didn’t take anything about Loch Ness seriously at all, because of how it’s being portrayed all the time. Although I didn’t find the evidence he presents that convincing, at least I’m open for the possibility now, I wouldn’t be shocked if it turns out to be true. We’re only talking about a new species after all, nothing more. What’s so unbelievable? Bauer’s belief is his personal matter, I can respect it, but I don’t “follow” beliefs.

    You shouldn’t either. I don’t think you really know why dissidents, for example the Perth Group, are not convinced by what’s presented as evidence. I think you simply didn’t do the research to find out those important details because it would take too much time, so you followed the beliefs of those you assumed to be more likely to be correct. Am I wrong? Do you really know the details of what bothers the Perth Group? Be honest please.

    What is innocuous is refusing to debate a certain scientific theory, trying to silence those with different views and risking both the scientific progress and countless lives. Things could’ve been much different if the orthodoxy were more open minded and also more skeptical from the beginning. Noone questioned the claims made on that press conference that day, and then in a short time it became impossible for them to question it ever again, due to conflict of interests. Even if the dissidents were absolutely wrong about all their claims, the way the scientific community handled all this is to be blamed. There is no excuse for such behavior when it comes to science. Open-minded, respectful, objective debates are the backbone of true science.

    Things can still change, but it will take some courageous, open-minded and objective people.

    Sadun Kal

    February 10, 2009 at 3:34 am

  13. Sadun, I think I can see what you’re getting at, but I don’t think the fact that we’re constantly discovering new species has much bearing on the Nessie question. The widespread scepticism about Nessie’s existence is driven be the lack of evidence for a very large yet previously undiscovered species existing in that particular little patch of water, not on an assumption that there are no new species of anything out there anywhere in the world. If you think that those sorts of beliefs deserve “respect”, go ahead, but please don’t be surprised if other people find them laughable and say so.

    I’d love it, incidentally, if Henry Bauer was right on this one and everyone else was wrong – if there really was a giant monster thing living in Loch Ness that all those sonar searches and various other Nessie-spotting enterprises had somehow failed to pick up. That would make the world a more interesting and surprising place – but until I see some evidence for it, beyond the odd grainy photograph, I’m afraid it will continue to seem quite laughable to me…

    As for the Perth Group, I’ll try to be as honest as I can. Don’t Get Fooled Again is the most wide-ranging piece of work I’ve ever done, covering a dizzying array of topics and then looking at what we can learn from the parallels and connections between them. In the section on HIV-AIDS I focused primarily on Duesberg, Continuum Magazine and the political arguments about HIV/AIDS that took place in S. Africa under Mbeki. I gave very little time or space to the Perth Group. The reason I chose to focus on the areas I did was, broadly, because a) Duesberg is clearly a genuine expert in virology (albeit not an infallible one), with a considerable portfolio of work published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. So his views on HIV and AIDS inevitably carry some weight. b) The story of Continuum magazine really seems to illustrate the tragic reality of AIDS denial at a basic human level – plus they were based just around the corner from where I spent three happy years studying Philosophy, so I felt a particular personal connection to the case. c) South Africa is the place where AIDS denial has arguably taken the greatest hold over public policy and done the greatest damage.

    I’m sure it would be possible to write a whole book on AIDS denialism, and look in detail at the various arguments put forward by the likes of Rasnick, Rath, Anthony Brink (I’d particularly recommend his written submission to the International Criminal Court if you have a couple of days free…), Mullis, Maniotis, Farber, Lauritsen, Maggiore, and of course Eleopulos and Turner et al. But what I was trying to do was to pick out the most credible and convincing and influential of the bunch, and focus on them, because obviously if you do that and find that those arguments don’t wash, you know that you can safely ignore the rest.

    The honest truth is that I regard the Perth Group as relatively marginally bit-players in comparison to people like Duesberg, Mbeki, Celia Farber and Neville Hodgkinson. Clearly they’ve had a lot to say and gained a committed band of supporters, but their support base, and their impact on the world, seems to me to be quite small compared to those larger players. I should say that one key reason for my largely ignoring them is that Duesberg himself has been quite dismissive of them and – if my recollection serves me correctly (it would take me a while to dig out the link) I believe he’s suggested that they’ve just not understood the science.

    So I’m open to the possibility that I missed something terribly important in not covering them in any detail. But when you’re having to make time-pressured decisions about which research avenues to go down, you do have to make a judgement call. The question I was looking at in that particular section of DGFA was whether there is good evidence that HIV causes AIDS, and I took it as a working assumption that only fruitloops would try to deny that HIV actually existed at all.

    Any decision to read a piece of work is a decision not to spend time doing something else – be that reading the wealth of good, well-researched science writing out there, or campaigning on genuine human rights issues, or just spending some time in the sunshine.

    There’s a pile of stuff on the internet written by people who have “dissident” views not only on AIDS, but also the Holocaust, global warming, the health risks of asbestos, passive smoking, evolution, UFOS, 911, the credit crunch, 7/7, vaccinations, homeopathy, “indigo children”, crystals, astrology, and whether or not God hates the world (and homosexuals). I don’t accept the idea that we ought to treat all such views with “respect” – or even that we are obliged to read it all in detail unless someone can give us a good reason for doing so. Differences of opinion are one thing, but a lot of the stuff I read through in detail when I was researching DGFA – on AIDS and on other topics – was riddled with lies, distortions, bogus inferences and misrepresentations. There just isn’t time in one lifetime to wade through it all, and I don’t accept that being “open-minded” entails having to take seriously people who’ve repeatedly been caught lying and misrepresenting information…

    Richard Wilson

    February 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

  14. “Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance.”

    …said some wise guy once, and I think I understand what is being meant by that. Here’s a quote from an interview with Michael Shermer:

    “” Q: You confess in “Why Darwin Matters,” “I became a creationist shortly after I became a born-again evangelical Christian in high school in 1971 and I argued the creationist case through graduate school in 1977.”… What caused you to see the light about evolution?

    MS: Taking a class in it by Bayard Brattstrom at Cal State Fullerton, where I got a master’s degree in experimental psychology. He was an evangelical evolutionist and his class met Tuesday nights and then adjourned to the local pub and continued until closing time. He would just hold forth, like Socrates, sitting around with beer and ale, and talking about God, religion, the big bang and cosmology. He was a dynamic speaker. It was great stuff. I was just sitting there stunned, like, Oh my God, this stuff is real. I had no idea. I didn’t really know anything about science.

    Like most creationists, you just know what you read in creationist books. When you read them, it makes the theory of evolution sound completely idiotic. What moron could believe in this theory? When you actually take a class in the science of it, it’s a completely different picture. “”

    I think this demonstrates the validity of the first quotation I wrote above quite clearly. (One thinks Shermer would have learned from that experience, no? : http://condeve.blogspot.com/2008/08/michael-shermer-busted.html )

    Anyway here’s what you wrote:

    “…obviously if you do that and find that those arguments don’t wash, you know that you can safely ignore the rest.”

    Does that remind you of anything I wrote up to this point? How can you be sure that you’re not a “Michael Shermer from 1977″? The answer is you can’t be sure, you shouldn’t be. Not until you objectively do the necessary research. And that’s one long research…

    I must admit I’m impressed that you were able to be honest without getting nasty. You also said:

    “…when you’re having to make time-pressured decisions about which research avenues to go down, you do have to make a judgement call.”

    I can understand that, I can relate to that. I do that also. But what I don’t do and I hope that I’ll never ever do is to believe that what I found out after such a superficial research certainly represents the truth. Of course I also wouldn’t present my beliefs to the public as if my research was conclusive, let alone ridicule those that don’t believe in the same things that I do. I think this is an extremely important point. The importance of doubt, uncertainty, objectivity and open-mindedness in Science cannot be stretched enough.

    How familiar are you with Richard Feynman’s philosophy of science? His “satisfactory philosophy of ignorance” for example..?

    The nature of the book you decided to write requires you to choose a side with incomplete research due to it’s wide range, so you basically trap yourself into being unscientific (i.e. condemn before investigation), it is inevitable.

    Think about these…

    Now if I go back to the “AIDS” topic, the best advice I can give you is to basically ignore Duesberg. I don’t think he’s unimportant, but he doesn’t deserve to be regarded the way he still is by the defenders of the “AIDS” orthodoxy. He became something like the straw-man of HIV/AIDS dissidence. Just look at how silent he is! He doesn’t respond to any criticism, doesn’t write anything new about HIV/AIDS and he certainly ignores many questions. He’s a retired dissident if I may say so. He focuses on his family and career nowadays. In my opinion he has become irrelevant!

    Unlike him, the Perth Group is still active, and they recently even called for donations so that they can perform certain experiments. I can forward you some of the emails I wrote to Duesberg where I begged him to communicate with the Perth Group and respond to their arguments if you wish. He just sent me a single, insignificant reply after months and many emails. ( My emails were inspired by what I read here by the way: http://aids-kritik.de/aids/duesberg-letters/index.html ) Ignoring the Perth Group because Duesberg seems to dismiss them is a very twisted and bizarre kind of appeal to authority.

    Apart from the Perth Group’s, there are also even more different viewpoints that deserve attention by the way, smaller stuff though.

    So…yes…my point is that you know very little about a scientific topic that existed for more than 25 years. And you should be much less certain about what you think you know.

    Perhaps what I wrote should also change the way you perceive those other topics included in your book. I can’t address any of them specifically right now. Good luck…

    Sadun Kal

    February 11, 2009 at 2:32 pm

  15. Like I said, I’m open to the possibility that I’ve missed something really important in largely ignoring the Perth Group. I’m also open to the possibility that I’ve missed something really important in ignoring all those Holocaust deniers who go even further than David Irving in downplaying Nazi atrocities. I just don’t think, based on the evidence I’ve seen, that either of those possibilities is very probable. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.

    Another key reason I chose to focus on the most high-profile, high impact figures within AIDS denialism was, in large part, because DGFA is a book about the damage that can be done by bogus ideas. So whether or not Duesberg is a “straw man”, the point is that he was one of the leading figures within the AIDS denial movement, and was particularly influential in S. Africa, where AIDS denial appears to have done most damage.

    So even if, as you suggest, the Perth Group are the ones that really deserve to be taken seriously – and I agree with you that Duesberg’s rejection of them does not, in and of itself, constitute a knock-down refutation – their impact to date has still, in my view, been relatively minimal.

    One of the basic premises of DGFA is that there’s very little that any of us can know with absolute certainty. Another is that, for some of the more advanced areas of science, in which I’d include the science around HIV and AIDS, it’s close to impossible for anyone who hasn’t spent years closely studying the subject to take a fully informed view. By both those measures, as I make clear in the book, I don’t claim to know a great deal with absolute certainty. I argue that there are many cases in which we will have little choice but to trust an expert on one issue or another.

    But the big question that’s then left, and the one that I’m really interested in examining, is how we lay people can reasonably judge which experts to take seriously and which to ignore. And based broadly on the criteria for making this judgement that I detail in DGFA, I drew the conclusion that the Perth Group weren’t worth taking seriously. Again, it’s possible that I was wrong in that conclusion, and again, that’s a risk that I’m happy to have taken.

    There were some additional factors to the ones I’ve already mentioned – notably the apparent lack of success by the Perth Group in getting their ideas published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and the lack of credible scientific credentials/research experience on HIV and AIDS. Again, it’s possible that this is all the result of a huge conspiracy to suppress the truth (or some such equivalent), but the conclusion I drew, based on the evidence I’d seen, was that there had been no such conspiracy and that those crusaders from Perth were cranks in the grand old tradition…

    Richard Wilson

    February 11, 2009 at 9:17 pm

  16. >”DGFA is a book about the damage that can be done by bogus ideas.”

    Do you also have a section in your book where you illustrate for your readers the amount of damage that could have been done and will still continue to be done if HIV is somehow not the cause of AIDS and if the Duesbergs and the Perthians are in fact correctly arguing so..?

    >”But the big question that’s then left, and the one that I’m really interested in examining, is how we lay people can reasonably judge which experts to take seriously and which to ignore.”

    Let me guess; you answered that question by beginning with the assumption that the experts skeptical of HIV/AIDS are wrong and then you went on to build your arguments on that. What else could you have done in that trap you build for yourself? Apparently there wasn’t a process where you decided to start from scratch and compare the both sides of the debate objectively, so that you can determine which experts were right.

    Do you also explain to your readers how dangerous one-sided books might be if the author has got the whole thing wrong? If the author gives advice based on wrong assumptions? If the author is not aware of his responsibility?

    And just out of curiosity… how good are you when dealing with cognitive dissonance?

    Sadun Kal

    February 11, 2009 at 11:19 pm

  17. “Do you also have a section in your book where you illustrate for your readers the amount of damage that could have been done and will still continue to be done if HIV is somehow not the cause of AIDS and if the Duesbergs and the Perthians are in fact correctly arguing so..?”

    No… Readers who want to follow that particular line of investigation will need to look elsewhere. Neither do I look in detail at the counter-factual universe in which the Holocaust deniers are right, and everyone else is wrong. But I do give an overview of Duesberg’s views, and the peer-reviewed research that has been done on HIV and AIDS, and what it points to.

    “Let me guess; you answered that question by beginning with the assumption that the experts skeptical of HIV/AIDS are wrong and then you went on to build your arguments on that.”

    Rather than guessing, why not read the book and find out for yourself?

    “Do you also explain to your readers how dangerous one-sided books might be if the author has got the whole thing wrong? If the author gives advice based on wrong assumptions? If the author is not aware of his responsibility?”

    Broadly, yes. I look at these sorts of issues in my chapter on the media’s complicity in the tobacco industry’s smoking-cancer denialism, and in the section on Sunday Telegraph journalist Christopher Booker. And I think this is probably also implicit when I look at the cases of journalists, such as Neville Hodgkinson, who have disseminated AIDS denialist views over the years. But to answer you more directly, if history shows that the Perth Group were right after all, and that AIDS really is caused by ARVs or whatever, then yes, I will have been at fault, and to some degree complicit in the whole medical-industrial conspiracy thing that AIDS denialists believe is going on, and culpable for not doing my research properly.

    Cognitive dissonance – great topic. In answer to your question, I don’t know that anyone is particular good at dealing with it, and I’m sure I’m as guilty of this as anyone. We can but try. There’s a fascinating and very accessible book called “Mistakes were made but not by me” which I read on this recently, which talks about some of the things we can try to do to minimise it. One of the most interesting aspects I found was the degree to which once we’ve committed ourselves firmly to one particular belief, it can be very difficult psychologically for us to extricate ourselves from it.

    The conclusion I drew was that one should probably strive never to be too firmly wedded to any one particular point of view, but that’s easier said than done. And of course the belief in the reality of cognitive dissonance is also one that could theoretically one day turn out to have been mistaken, so maybe we shouldn’t wed ourselves too firmly to that one either. Or is that a paradox?

    Richard Wilson

    February 12, 2009 at 7:51 am

  18. “…why not read the book and find out for yourself?”

    My guess is based directly on your admission that you didn’t do the necessary research. Either you gave me wrong information here, or my guess is right. I don’t see the need for reading the book.

    Cognitive dissonance theory is just an explanation for why humans are so damn biased I think. Even if you’d explain it through simple laziness or whatever, bias would still be there. So I don’t think it would make much difference whether or not you believe in cognitive dissonance directly.

    The core question now is, will you vigorously keep doing research after all that I said, or will you simply hope and assume that you got it right and consider the whole thing settled?

    You know there are ways of overcoming cognitive dissonance, laziness and the like… Imagine how cool it would be if you were able to change your views on a subject about which you’ve already written in a book you published. Now that would be an impressive demonstration of what true science and true skepticism is all about.

    Sadun Kal

    February 12, 2009 at 10:36 am

  19. I think we may be at cross purposes here – the topic I was looking at in depth (and hence researching) was the denial of the link between AIDS and HIV, not the denial of the existence of HIV. I refer briefly to the latter, but only in passing.

    I’m not sure if I’ll continue to research this topic or not – obviously it’s less of a priority when you aren’t rushing to meet a deadline whilst ensuring that what you’ve written is accurate and properly backed up. But certainly if the Perth Group (or those of a similar view) ever managed to publish anything in a bona fide peer-reviewed journal I’d probably be interested. Or maybe also if strong evidence emerged that the modern-day peer review process is as deeply flawed as, say, we now know the financial regulation process to have been over the last few years – which I think is broadly the meta-scientific claim that sits behind a lot of these arguments.

    I’d agree with you that any writer who wrote a book on the sorts of topics I cover in DGFA could and should publicly revise what they’d said if robust new evidence emerged that called those views into question. I also think that given human nature this mostly doesn’t happen, even when the new evidence is very clear and very compelling. In “Mistakes Were Made..”, the authors argue that we need to promote a culture in which there’s far less shame in admitting mistakes and revising one’s ideas. Maybe that would help. But another key question here is what counts as robust and compelling evidence…

    Richard Wilson

    February 12, 2009 at 11:05 am

  20. Your ongoing certainty and the way you keep using the word denial when you refer to those you don’t believe in the same things that you do is disturbing to say the least. It’s also explainable through the cognitive dissonance thingy as you probably know.

    Anyway, I’ll now extend my guesses and claim that you didn’t even check the papers the Perth Group published in peer-reviewed journals and also didn’t bother to do the necessary research about the peer-review system either. You didn’t spend significant time looking for flaws with the modern-day peer review process. Or am I wrong? Did you do a research trying to find out if the peer-review system truly guarantees highest possible scientific quality?

    “…need to promote a culture in which there’s far less shame in admitting mistakes and revising one’s ideas.”

    Not just far less shame, but also far less fear. Fear of losing your job, your income, your status within the society etc. To create a society without those fears is no easy task. The whole system needs to be revolutionized.

    Obama recently stated:

    “I’m here on television saying I screwed up, and that’s part of the era of responsibility. It’s not never making mistakes; it’s owning up to them and trying to make sure you never repeat them and that’s what we intend to do.”

    That was a real change. He’s a better role model than any American president I think. Things like that influence the whole society positively I’d claim. So there’s progress.

    Sadun Kal

    February 12, 2009 at 11:51 am

  21. Great – give us the peer-reviewed Perth Group references and I’ll take a look.

    Honestly, if you want to know what I said and didn’t say in DGFA the best thing to do is to read the book. There’s lots in there about Kuhn and Feyerabend and paradigms and all that. You can win a copy for free if you can convince Seth Kaligman that David Crowe really exists – http://denyingaids.blogspot.com

    I talk about peer review in DGFA, but to come close to doing full justice to all the issues surrounding it would take (at least) a whole other book in itself. Maybe I’ll do that next. I agree with your point about Obama.

    Richard Wilson

    February 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm

  22. Again you mention how you trapped yourself…

    Anyway, check out the website of the Perth Group. They got plenty of material there. If you feel like you could use some help with your research feel free to contact. But preferably after you looked at the most obvious places where you might find the info you need…

    And Seth is already convinced David Crowe exists. Seth repeats the same meaningless joke over and over again all over the internet because he’s “so funny”:

    http://ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=423220&page=1

    Sadun Kal

    February 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm

  23. Not sure what you mean by “you trapped yourself”. And for reasons I’ve spelled out elsewhere, I’ll make no apology for using words like “denial” and “denialist”. In my view they’re both useful and accurate terms for the kind ideas and ideologues we’re dealing with, and I don’t buy the notion that we’re duty-bound to sacrifice accuracy rather than offend people.

    According to AIDStruth, the Perth Group Two failed to make the grade as expert witnesses in the Parenzee court case on the basis that:

    “Dr Turner’s knowledge of the subject matter is limited to reading. He has no formal qualifications to give expert opinions about the virus. He has no practical experience in the treatment of viral diseases. He has no practical experience in the disciplines of virology, immunology or epidemiology.

    His opinions are based on reading scientific literature, studying of scientific literature, and spending a considerable amount of time thinking.

    I conclude that Dr Turner is not qualified to advance expert opinion about virus isolation, antibody tests, viral load tests, or sexual transmission of the virus. His knowledge of these subjects is limited to having read a number of publications. He relies entirely on his interpretation of various studies in the specialised disciplines of virology, epidemiology, microbiology, immunology, pathology or infectious diseases, in none of which he has qualifications beyond his medical degree. He has no practical experience, and has performed no research which has been published.”

    and

    “Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos has no formal qualifications in medicine, biology, virology, immunology, epidemiology or any other medical disciplines. She has never treated or been directly involved in clinical trials of any kind relating to any disease. Her duties at the Royal Perth Hospital are to test people for sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation.

    Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos claims that she conducts research in the area of HIV/AIDS in her private time. It became clear that, when she spoke about research, she meant reading various medical papers about the research of others. Her experience with the HIV virus and with AIDS is limited to reading and critiquing the work of researchers involved in various studies. She purports to have expertise to speak on the subject of virology, epidemiology, electron microscopy, biology and immunology. She has no practical experience in any of these areas. She has no formal qualifications in these disciplines.

    The evidence given by Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos about the Perth group demonstrates that she is promoting a cause. She is not independent. She is motivated to create a debate about her theory. The Perth Group will use whatever means available to promote that debate, including encouragement of persons such as the applicant, to promote their theories in courts of law.”

    Richard Wilson

    February 14, 2009 at 4:58 pm

  24. If you imply that what you copy/pasted somehow disputes the arguments of the Perth Group, that’s called an ad hominem argument. And that you repeat the ad hominem argument written by some authority instead of creating your argument makes it also an appeal to authority I guess. Double-fallacy?

    Not so elegant coming from the author of a book subtitled “A Sceptic’s Guide to Life”. Why not try harder and actually read their papers?

    By saying that you trapped yourself I was again referring to this:

    “But when you’re having to make time-pressured decisions about which research avenues to go down, you do have to make a judgement call. … Don’t Get Fooled Again is the most wide-ranging piece of work I’ve ever done… I gave very little time or space to the Perth Group…. There just isn’t time in one lifetime to wade through it all…”

    By deciding to write a too wide-ranging piece of work than you can scientifically handle, you forced yourself to make assumptions not based on the research you have done. You had to rely on other things like experts, authorities, your beliefs etc. when building your arguments. I find what you have done dangerously unscientific.

    Sadun Kal

    February 14, 2009 at 5:39 pm

  25. Wow, that was quick! I think we’re talking at cross purposes again. Saying “so and so is not an expert” is not an ad hominem argument – I guess ad hominem would be more along the lines of “so and so is a liar and a crook”. Anyway, the point is that I’m not actually arguing with them or their position, just giving further background on why it was that I did not feel bound to take them seriously.

    I reserve the right to copy-and-paste when all I’m doing is rattling off a blog comment!

    Your argument seems to centre on the claim that DGFA was in some way incomplete by not including a detailed exposition of the Perth Gang’s views. But this only stands up, in my view, if a) you can show that they really are scientifically significant and b) you can show that the book was supposed to be a comprehensive exploration of all things scientific rather than just a general argument about sceptical thinking that draws on some illustrative examples. I don’t think you’ve proved either of those points.

    Richard Wilson

    February 14, 2009 at 6:49 pm

  26. PS – I guess your arguments might also be more credible if c) you’d actually read the book!

    Richard Wilson

    February 14, 2009 at 6:57 pm

  27. Saying “so and so is not an expert” is not an ad hominem argument but the argument “so and so is not an expert so they are wrong” would be one. In fact such background information is completely irrelevant to science. They could even be retarded blue monkeys with silly costumes but their arguments would still stand, especially if they spent more than 20 years dealing with the subject at hand.

    My point is not just about what you do or do not write in your book, it’s about how you approach all this in general. It’s unscientific. If you accuse a group of people for denying scientific evidence without examining what they’re really doing, then you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. You can’t.

    I disapprove of your mentality. That’s not a healthy, objective kind of scepticism.

    I also don’t have a problem with copy paste, it was just the most fitting verb I could think of.

    Sadun Kal

    February 14, 2009 at 8:23 pm

  28. I think that what we may be getting to is that this is, at heart, a question about method and methodology before we even get to the specifics of AIDS and HIV.

    I think there’s a meaningful difference between

    a) Choosing not to spend time scrutinising X argument by so-and-so about Y subject because the evidence you’ve seen suggests that they aren’t an expert in Y

    b) Claiming to have refuted X argument by so-and-so about Y subject without having spent time scrutinising X

    c) Observing that the conclusions drawn by so-and-so about Y subject on the basis of X argument run counter to the conclusions drawn by the overwhelming majority of the people who are generally acknowledged to be experts in Y subject.

    With regard to the Mirth Group, I don’t think I’ve ever claimed (b). But (a) and (c) probably do apply. Note that there’s a also difference between scrutinising a conclusion (eg. the claim that HIV has not been proven to exist) and scrutinising an argument (eg. the whys and wherefores behind that claim).

    Now you may dispute the observation I describe in (c) – you may hold that in fact, Eleni P and V Turner’s conclusions do not run counter to what the overwhelming majority of acknowledged experts believe on AIDS and HIV.

    Or you may agree with the observation, but maintain that it’s largely irrelevant to the broader question, because if so-and-so’s argument is valid and their claims true, then it strictly doesn’t matter whether or not they are an acknowledged expert. IE – to use your memorable phrase – “They could even be retarded blue monkeys with silly costumes but their arguments would still stand”

    If it’s the latter, then it seems to me that there are at least three broader issues here:

    1) Whether or not the modern global scientific system (eg. the top academic institutions and peer-reviewed journals) is a generally robust and reliable – albeit not infallible – means of producing knowledge.

    2) Whether or not the modern global scientific system is the best available system for producing knowledge

    3) Which qualities one needs in order competently to put forward a counter-consensual argument about the science of AIDS and HIV.

    Now as a proposition, (1) will have all sorts of challenges – at the extreme we have Feyarabend and his view that science is no more valid than voodoo, and then there’s Kuhn and his stuff about dominant paradigms and the scientific old guard doggedly and irrationally hanging on to a defunct theory long after it should be been replaced and updated. Then there are more mundane factors like the potential for corporate funding to corrupt the scientific process and undermine the independence of scientists, and of course the personal biases and blind spots of individual researchers.

    (2) can face similar challenges, along with all those arguments from people who believe that religion, mysticism or art are actually better at revealing truth than science is.

    But (3) is the really central one here, I think. There are certainly people I’ve had contact with who believe that one can competently engage with the arguments around AIDS and HIV without any formal training, and without significant risk of error. I’m not so sure.

    I think that human beings (and I’ve been guilty of this more times than I’d care to detail) often have a tendency to over-estimate their own cleverness and assume, without good evidence, that “the so-called experts” are all actually a bit stupid, cowardly and/or brainwashed. We are all of us prone to certain innate “self-serving” biases, and that one is a very common example.

    I also think that the modern physical sciences (eg. physics, chemistry and biology) have now become so conceptually complex that a whole sub-language of technical terms (eg. “reverse transcriptase inhibitor”) has had to be invented to describe what the experts believe is going on in many cases.

    This, I think, is what poses the really big challenge to the “autodidact” seeking to overturn some widely-accepted theory within microbiology or virology. In my view, it’s kind of analagous to a native speaker of a European language trying to dispute some widely-accepted principle about Japanese grammar on the basis of the private research he’s done looking at lots of Japanese text books in his local library. Of course it’s not strictly impossible that he could be onto something – but I personally don’t think it’s that unreasonable for us to insist that he goes and gets himself a PhD in Japanese linguistics before we have to start taking him seriously, just so that we can be sure that he can be sure that he hasn’t simply misunderstood what he was reading.

    Even then, if some guy (or indeed, to borrow your phrase again, a blue monkey in a silly costume) comes to me claiming that he IS an expert in Japanese linguistics and that he’s figured out where all the other Japanese linguistics experts have been going wrong all these years, I’m going to be faced with similar choices. Do I

    a) take him at his word, and join his crusade against the great Japanese linguistic conspiracy even though I myself know nothing about Japanese linguistics?

    b) read up enough Japanese linguistics to get the key points of his argument, and then join the crusade?

    c) reserve judgement until I’ve had a chance to go and do a PhD in Japanese linguistics myself?

    d) conclude that, given that, expert or no, the overwhelming majority of other Japanese linguists still don’t buy the blue monkey’s claims, and no strong evidence has been put forward to show that they’ve been bribed or bullied into expressing that view, there’s a high probability that he’s deluded, mistaken, or lying.

    Now it could be argued that (b) – or something along those lines – is the most reasonable approach to take in such a circumstance, but again the problem one faces is the possibility that you’re just mistaken in thinking that you’ve understand all the technical terms correctly, and the larger conceptual framework in which they fit….

    My basic starting point is that human knowledge is vast and there’s no way any one person can be an expert at everything. Whether it’s in going under anaesthetic for surgery or getting on a plane or calling in a plumber or reading the latest political news story or sorting out our finances or making a decision about a course of drug treatment – there comes a point at which all of us will have little realistic choice to put our trust in one expert or another. And yes, this does seem problematic for anyone of a sceptical leaning – but I think the most honest thing we can do is face up to it and try to find the most pragmatic way of dealing with it.

    It also seems pretty clear that certain systems of generating information/knowledge are incredibly unreliable and prone to corruption and error – the media and the financial services sector being two examples – although within that there are some outlets with a far better track record than others.

    My personal view, given the information I’ve seen, is that for a whole range of reasons – academic rigour, academic freedom, availability of resources, self-correcting mechanisms such as peer-review – the scientific system is the most reliable of the systems that we have – certainly more reliable than the media, for example. But it’s obviously not infallible – as the Wakefield/MMR case shows, and corporate funding can create distortions. There have also been clear cases, such as with Lysenko in the Soviet Union, when the scientific process in one particular country was very seriously corrupted and compromised. We obviously need to understand how that happened and be vigilant for similar things happening again. But I’ve as yet seen no evidence of such a high level corruption and distortion within modern science as would need to be taking place across the globe, in order to call into question the integrity/competence of the thousands of AIDS/HIV researchers who do not buy into the Perth Group’s theories.

    Richard Wilson

    February 15, 2009 at 10:11 am

  29. You don’t need the whole globe, it’s basically a US thing, the US leads. And don’t think of it as “a high level corruption and distortion within modern science “, that may be sounding too frightening. Think of it as imperfection, flaws… I perceive you as what’s described here as a “pseudosceptic”: http://www.suppressedscience.net/skepticism.html

    You know that science is not infallible. There have been cases where the majority of experts were simply wrong in the recent history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_consensus#Scientific_consensus_and_the_scientific_minority

    With your method you’re always bound to defend whatever the majority of the “experts” tell you and by doing that you obviously guarantee that sooner or later you’ll be on the wrong side and be slowing down scientific progress by helping the wrong side. This alone should prevent books like yours from being written.

    If you’re going to claim that it can’t happen again, that now things are soo good that it became impossible for the majority of the experts to be wrong, then you have to have some evidence for it. What has changed so much? At what point did the scientific establishment reached that stage?

    http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2008/04/07/can-everyone-be-wrong-about-something/

    Take a look at the links below, including the comments.

    http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2008/05/23/the-galileo-gambit-strawman/

    Sadun Kal

    February 15, 2009 at 4:51 pm

  30. (continued…)

    http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2008/01/27/how-can-the-hivaids-bandwagon-be-stopped/

    + hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2008/02/01/stopping-the-hivaids-bandwagon-part-ii/

    http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2008/07/18/science-studies-101-why-is-hivaids-%E2%80%9Cscience%E2%80%9D-so-unreliable/

    http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2008/10/30/true-believers-of-hivaids-why-do-they-believe-despite-the-evidence/

    + hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/scientific-illiteracy-the-media-science-pundits-governments-and-hivaids/

    Sadun Kal

    February 15, 2009 at 4:54 pm

  31. “With your method you’re always bound to defend whatever the majority of the “experts” tell you and by doing that you obviously guarantee that sooner or later you’ll be on the wrong side and be slowing down scientific progress by helping the wrong side.”

    But surely if you side with the minority who dispute consensus then you’re also at risk of sooner or later being on the wrong side? And unless you’ve learned the scientific sub-language fluently, how can you make an informed choice about which side to pick?

    “If you’re going to claim that it can’t happen again, that now things are soo good that it became impossible for the majority of the experts to be wrong, then you have to have some evidence for it.”

    No, I’m pretty sure that it could happen again anywhere in the world if the right conditions arose – I’m just not convinced that those conditions exist within our society at this particular moment in time.

    My basic view is that you take a gamble whenever you back a scientific theory in which you aren’t a fully-trained expert, and that there’s always a risk you’ll end up having backed the wrong side, and that unfortunately in life we often have little choice but to take that gamble. For a non-expert, in the absence of any other criteria, backing the “favourite” each time should minimise your chances of being wrong. But yes, someone who does this will probably still end up being in the wrong at least some of the time.

    “What has changed so much? At what point did the scientific establishment reached that stage?”

    Well that’s a whole history book question in itself. But I guess the answer would probably be something along the lines of the development of modern science from the Enlightenment onwards, with the creation of more and more rigorous procedures for generating and testing new theories, the growth of the universities, the appearance and development of journals like Nature, the Lancet, the BMJ, the NEJM etc., greater public literacy and economic growth leading to more available resources and funding etc., and the development of a political and cultural environment in which academic freedom could flourish etc.

    Richard Wilson

    February 16, 2009 at 12:02 am

  32. “But surely if you side with the minority who dispute consensus then you’re also at risk of sooner or later being on the wrong side? And unless you’ve learned the scientific sub-language fluently, how can you make an informed choice about which side to pick?”

    But it is an avoidable risk if you take precautions, i.e. if you avoid picking sides until you know what’s being talked about. In contrast, in your case a mistake becomes inevitable, it’s not just a risk, it’s guaranteed. It’s even hard to call it a mistake, it’s a decision to conform at the cost of knowledge.

    “…in life we often have little choice but to take that gamble.”

    You don’t have to pick sides with all theories. I know I don’t. How many theories directly affect your life? You can simply live with not knowing whether or not Nellies exist, or “HIV” causes “AIDS”. You’ll probably still make assumptions but there’s no point in strongly holding on to those assumptions either, neither does it make sense to publicly advocate your assumptions as if you’ve done the research. If they really concern you that much, then you’ll want to do the research anyway.

    I have many beliefs different than those of the majority, but I don’t feel the need to talk about them as if they’re all certainly true. If a time comes and I have to choose, then I’d base my decision on those assumptions. But I still wouldn’t present them to others as if I really know what I should be knowing to be sure. At least I would warn them that I don’t really know and that I definitely can be wrong because I didn’t have time to research it all. But that’s just me…

    Your answer to the last question seems a bit arbitrary, a wishful guess. I suggest you dive deeper into that topic and try to test your beliefs. Some of the links I posted already have a lot of relevant information. Here are a few more:

    http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020138&ct=1

    http://condeve.blogspot.com/2008/12/understanding-dissidence.html

    There are also many books on this topic.

    Sadun Kal

    February 16, 2009 at 2:03 am

  33. But that’s exactly my point – if you avoid picking sides until you really understand the subject properly, then the only thing you could ever pick sides about would be something in which you’d done (at least) a PhD.

    I agree that one doesn’t have to ‘pick sides’ in everything, but all of us sooner or later have to make decisions in life that have some scientific implications – even if this is just about what foods to eat, hair products to use etc. (There’s a substantial body of people who’ll tell you, for example, that the chemicals in many shampoos are toxic and may cause cancer). So whether we call it “taking sides” or simply going with a working assumption, it’s those practical implications I’m interested in.

    One big topic I didn’t cover in DGFA but which I think highlights this problem very well is global warming, a topic on which I understand Bauer is also “sceptical”. Whichever side is right this issue has huge implications for everyone on the planet. If the consensus majority among scientists is right then it seems that even a personal decision to buy a plane ticket could be contributing to some pretty big problems. If the opposing side is right then governments are potentially risking huge damage to the economy on a bogus theory. I personally don’t think it would be right to sit on the fence in this instance, because either way it seems that morality would dictate that we act.

    I agree that the line of thought I’ve outlined seems in some ways arbitrary – but I honestly don’t see any way around it. What it does do is take account of the “crank factor” and give us a rough method of dealing with it. Personally, I think that any approach to looking at science from the point-of-view of a non-specialist needs to acknowledge the fact that, throughout history, there have been people who have presented themselves as experts in some subject or another, who were in fact very convincing frauds, and that even an intelligent, educated person could be taken in.

    The risk I see with your approach is that one may mistakenly believe that one has understood the subject, and conclude on the basis of that apparent understanding that the claims of some or other maverick scientist are valid and compelling, but because one has only in fact learned the very basics of the “scientific sub-language” one is actually both mistaken, and unable to see one’s mistake.

    I think that we need some external criteria beyond one’s personal judgement of the theory itself, because one’s personal judgement of the theory itself can easily be mistaken when one is not fluent in the “scientific sub-language” in question.

    Richard Wilson

    February 16, 2009 at 7:39 am

  34. “The risk I see with your approach is that one may mistakenly believe that one has understood the subject…”

    This depends purely on the person. If you train yourself in objectivity and open mindedness, if you get rid of all your attachments to all the subjects, then there is no risk in my opinion. Of course that may not be an easy thing to do, but it’s not impossible either. I think I’m successful with that.

    Other than that, you also don’t have to understand every detail of a subject to reach a conclusion. Not all the details of a subject are necessarily connected in a significant way, which would affect the essential issue. This might mean that you understand why the subject is absurd without understanding the whole subject. You don’t need to read the bible to understand the absurdity with a belief in it. Similarly, that there is no gold standard for the HIV tests directly clarifies the absurdity of all that surrounds HIV/AIDS: http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2008/02/01/stopping-the-hivaids-bandwagon-part-ii/#comment-301

    Ask the experts what the gold standard is, ask them what the “official rules of retroviral isolation” are and on what logic the current “isolation” procedure is based on. Such things do not exist in HIV science. But there sure is a lot of faith…

    “…So whether we call it “taking sides” or simply going with a working assumption, it’s those practical implications I’m interested in.”

    I can understand that. I don’t have a problem with that on the personal level. But as soon as you begin talking about your unreliable assumptions as if they’re certainly true, then you’re messing it up.

    With global warming, if you don’t want to sit on the fence you have to do the research I guess. But the underlying problem with things like global warming is the state of science. When both sides try to push their agenda then both sides become unreliable:

    http://www.green-agenda.com/globalrevolution.html

    Instead of taking sides, the focus should be more on trying to fix the science in my opinion. Like excluding politics and the money somehow. Attempting to ensure neutrality and objectivity by eliminating all potential conflict of interests.

    I personally haven’t found enough reasons to believe in AGW. Actually I used to believe it but then I began doing some research and wasn’t able to find anything that can convince me that the models used to make the predictions are reliable. Although this annoyed me at first, now I don’t think there is anything I can do about how things will work out. It’s too late at this stage. I try to stay positive and see it like this: Even though a lot of money will be wasted for no rational reason and even though science suffers, this will at least force humanity to realize the importance of sustainability. So I don’t support either side, I just go along with it. I was already someone who is careful with the environment before GW alarmism came along, it basically didn’t affect my actions during I believed in it or after I stopped believing. There are better reasons for people to strive for sustainability than a hypothetical climate change, but it’s hard to communicate the importance unless you blow the proportions up I guess.

    Sadun Kal

    February 16, 2009 at 1:39 pm

  35. I guess my problem is that I know from my own bitter experience that it’s possible to strive for objectivity and open-mindedness, and try one’s best to see the world clearly, and without attachment – and to think that one has essentially made it – and still turn out to have been badly mistaken. I’m not sure I’ve met anyone in my life who seemed to be entirely free of bias and delusion, and this personal experience seems to tally up with the findings of social psychologists. All the evidence I’ve seen from social psychology suggest that subjective human experience is spectacularly fallible to the extent that it seems remarkable that any of us ever manage to make remotely rational decisions about anything!

    These aren’t perfect examples but kind of point in the direction of what I mean: http://www.paulvanlange.com/files/VanLangeSedikides1988.pdf and http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-serving_bias

    Human experience seems to be characterised by a continual struggle to retain some semblance of objectivity against the unbalancing force of one’s own subjective biases.

    In my view, when it comes to the really complex problems in life, it’s only through intensive training, and participation in rigorous collaborative intellectual endeavours, such as the modern scientific system, that we can transcend our personal frailties and biases, and collectively achieve something akin to knowledge. I think you’re absolutely right that striving as an individual for objectivity and open-mindedness and detachment is very important, but I also believe that, in addition, in order to help correct one’s inevitable blind spots and errors of judgement, one also needs to be hooked up to a system of external checks and balances. The world of science, or more broadly, academia in general, is, in my view, one such system. And while clearly no system of human knowledge is infallible, the evidence I’ve seen seems to suggest that, in general, the collective view of the scientific community is more reliable and less prone to error than the subjective view of any one individual member of that community.

    Richard Wilson

    February 16, 2009 at 9:52 pm

  36. “…in addition, in order to help correct one’s inevitable blind spots and errors of judgement, one also needs to be hooked up to a system of external checks and balances. The world of science, or more broadly, academia in general, is, in my view, one such system.”

    That’s because you perceive the “denialists” as a group of non-scientists outside that system. But that’s not true. Most -if not all- arguments coming from scientists skeptical about the HIV/AIDS theory -who are parts of the system- were ignored and that’s where the system already failed years ago. That’s the end of your dream. It’s over. You can open your eyes now.

    http://conself.blogspot.com/2009/01/discussion-of-1993-perth-group-paper.html

    Also the HIV/AIDS skeptics were excluded from the “system” after a while, more or less, they just become invisible and silent to the other operating parts of the system. People like Margulis, Maniotis etc. are still a solid part of the system though, yet you still manage to ignore them somehow.

    “The collective view of the scientific community” isn’t really a scientific collective view. Basically people either support the view of one scientist and the idea starts to spread, or they don’t support the idea of one scientist and the idea gets nowhere. In the end it’s not a conclusion they reach collectively and simultaneously, but rather a view of very few people who brought up the idea first. And there is nothing which indicates that they choose which idea to support based on an absolutely objective examination of all the arguments made by all individuals. The majority of that community just goes along with it. And as you hopefully know, the “probable cause of AIDS” was announced at a governmental press conference prior to any publication. So scientist would either have to speak up at that moment against the government and express their doubts and demand that all actions should be delayed until the material can be properly reviewed, or they were going to have to support the suggested idea and join the efforts to develop a vaccine or whatever.

    So…yes..you see…and..umm… Oh of course:

    I got a problem with your attitude! I think you’re too pessimistic about how objective people can be. That’s not very smart, it is demotivating.

    http://condeve.blogspot.com/2008/06/pessimism-of-intellect-optimism-of-will.html

    I’m not saying that you can achieve absolute objectivity without any external factors, that may be possible, but you can make such external factors a part of your life without the need for “an academia”. It’s not like academia is the most perfect thing in the world. It has many flaws. And you can train yourself in challenging your own assumptions with every chance you get. You can be like your external checker or you can also constantly look for/invite other external checkers.

    So my point is…ah..I’m tired, I’m busy. I shouldn’t be here and writing this right now. Bye.

    Sadun Kal

    February 17, 2009 at 1:46 am

  37. “I think you’re too pessimistic about how objective people can be. That’s not very smart, it is demotivating.”

    I agree that this degree of pessimism about the human capacity for overcoming bias can be quite a depressing viewpoint, but in some ways it can also be liberating. On the one hand it should stop us from being complacent – from ever thinking that we’ve got it all figured out with 100% reliability. On the other I think it’s reasonable to conclude that when have tried our best to overcome our biases and still failed, it’s OK – it’s OK to be fallible, and mistaken, because being fallible and often mistaken, despite our best efforts, is just a fundamental part of being human.

    Alongside this, if we really are striving to overcome bias and see the world in a clear-minded way, surely this entails embracing the evidence even when the consequences of doing this can be quite quite demotivating? I didn’t set out with such a pessimistic view of human nature – I came to it based on the evidence presented by cognitive psychologists, which in turn seemed to chime with my own experiences.

    I’m sceptical about the degree to which it’s possible for a person to function very effectively as their own “external checker”, precisely because the very nature of bias means that we are often blind to it when we ourselves are being biased.

    In my experience it’s usually much easier to spot biased thinking in someone else than it is in one’s self – hence the value of us striving to keep checks and balances on each other. I agree that the academic/scientific system is only one of the available mechanisms for checking subjective bias, and that it’s not infallible, but given its track record it would seem irrational to be too readily dismissive of it.

    Maybe “collective view of the scientific community” was an unhelpful metaphor for the phenomenon that I was trying to describe. Of course it’s always the individual, not the community, that has a mind and holds an opinion, and communities as a whole never or rarely think as one streamlined, monolithic entity.

    Perhaps a better way of looking at it might be to consider the example of a well-respected scientific journal, such as the Lancet. Consider the number of people – researchers, assistant researchers, editors and peer-reviewers – whose intellectual work feeds in to just one scientific paper that makes it into the Lancet. Think of the number of hours they have each put in, and the amount of knowledge and ideas that they each individually hold. Then think of the number of different peer-reviewed papers that get published in the Lancet in just one year, and the amount of knowledge that this represents, and the amount of people who contributed to that single year’s production. My contention would be that the sum total of knowledge and ideas held by this group of people will almost certainly dwarf the knowledge that any one individual human being, even a world-ranking genius, holds in their head. It’s that sum total of knowledge and ideas (or at least the subset of that sum total that makes into the peer-reviewed journals) that I was referring to with the phrase “the collective view of the scientific community”.

    “the “probable cause of AIDS” was announced at a governmental press conference prior to any publication. So scientist would either have to speak up at that moment against the government and express their doubts and demand that all actions should be delayed until the material can be properly reviewed, or they were going to have to support the suggested idea and join the efforts to develop a vaccine or whatever.”

    I’m sceptical about the way that this story has been used in denialist arguments. The claim seems to be that from the moment the press conference had been held in the early 1980s, no further scientific validation of the link between HIV and AIDS (or indeed the existence of HIV) was possible, due to political constraints. I take this to be essentially a historical claim – where’s the evidence for it? It’s certainly a claim that seems to stand at odds with the account given here by Gallo and Montaigner, which would seem to entail that if the denialist historical account is accurate, Gallo and Montaigner must be not merely mistaken, but brazenly dishonest.

    Richard Wilson

    February 17, 2009 at 9:16 am

  38. I have to take a break from this dialog. I’ll be back one day.

    Sadun Kal

    February 17, 2009 at 4:47 pm

  39. OK! But have a read of those psychology papers – Milgram and Zimbardo are also worth a look, for different reasons. Be interested to know your thoughts. Enjoy the break and I look forward to picking up when you get back!

    Richard Wilson

    February 17, 2009 at 5:39 pm

  40. Richard, in your discussion above with Sadunkal, you ended by remarking about the historical record of the Gallo press conference:

    Sadunkal had said: “the “probable cause of AIDS” was announced at a governmental press conference prior to any publication. So scientist would either have to speak up at that moment against the government and express their doubts and demand that all actions should be delayed until the material can be properly reviewed, or they were going to have to support the suggested idea and join the efforts to develop a vaccine or whatever.”

    You, Richard, remarked on the above statement, saying : “I’m sceptical about the way that this story has been used in denialist arguments. The claim seems to be that from the moment the press conference had been held in the early 1980s, no further scientific validation of the link between HIV and AIDS (or indeed the existence of HIV) was possible, due to political constraints. I take this to be essentially a historical claim – where’s the evidence for it? It’s certainly a claim that seems to stand at odds with the account given here by Gallo and Montaigner, which would seem to entail that if the denialist historical account is accurate, Gallo and Montaigner must be not merely mistaken, but brazenly dishonest.”

    Please understand, Richard, at the time of the Gallo press conference, in April of 1984, there were only a handful of individuals who were known as retrovirologists. In all seriousness, they could be counted on one hand. ALL of them had been cancer virologists in Nixon’s multibillion dollar “War On Cancer”.

    Now also understand, that this entire issue of gay men’s illnesses being noticed, happened, as a matter of fact, “collided” with the very beginning of the end of funding for Nixon’s 10 billion dollar failed “war on cancer”. I say “collided with” because they happened just 4 days apart.

    The very first mention from the CDC about the very first five sick gay men noticed in 3 hospitals in LA by a Dr. Gottlieb, who just so unusually happened to work at 3 different hospitals, and just happened to notice that 5 “GAY” men were extremely ill with unusual diagnoses, was made public in the LA Times and also in an MMWR CDC report on June 5th 1981. But just 4 days before this, comes the very first mention that the funding for cancer virology had begun to be yanked. Read about it in the NY Times article of June 1st, 1981:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1981/06/02/science/cancer-agency-faces-questions-on-waste-and-abuses.html?sec=health

    The retrovirologists, now looking ahead to their funding being pulled, needed a new direction. They eventually, in I think about 1982, were urged to look into this gay mens syndrome by one of their very few members, Max Essex, who was claiming that cats were getting ill from a retrovirus (that he had yet to isolate by the way, and could only believe he detected via reverse transcriptase activity). Soon, all but one, Peter Duesberg, who had jumped off the retroviral wagon as the cause of cancer, and had begun exploring aneuploidy, had jumped on the Gallo HIV bandwagon just as soon as Gallo made his white house proclamation. After all, future funding was now assured.

    Both prior to, and at the time of Gallo’s white house proclamation in 1984, Peter Duesberg, who was known among this handful of “retrovirolgists” as the most knowledgeable retrovirologist, was busy from 1981 to 85 with his new aneuploidy research, which also greatly upset his seemingly betrayed fellow retrovirologists. Peter waited for more data over the next year after Gallo’s claim, before reaching any conclusion. As I said, Peter was the first to leave the “retroviruses cause cancer” or any disease at all camp. Peter considered his colleagues to be, well, lacking in good sense, for lack of any better words.

    After waiting for more evidence from his colleagues, he then set off to work, and what Peter now found his colleagues to be up to, astounded him.

    You are more than welcome to contact Peter, as he is more than happy to share his years at the NIH cancer institute with any who want to discuss it. He is more than happy to relate his experiences with his colleagues to those who simply ask him about it all.

    But to get back to the crux of what I wanted to relay to you, and regarding your own current knowledge of how all of this came about, you had asked Sadunkal in your last post above for the evidence to back up his statement, and I wanted to let you know that it is found at the following link, which clearly describes the difficulties Peter had in getting his review of his colleagues work to print. However, what you also find, is that even then, Duesberg, whose reputation was spotless, had many supporters who were also disgusted by the politics of the colleagues involved:

    http://www.virusmyth.com/aids/hiv/alpeer.htm

    In that link, you will find how difficult it was for Peter, to get his newly funded colleagues to even allow him to print his review, and how Peter alone was forced to go through a most bizarre review process, even though as a National Academy of Science member, he was not required to go through any review whatsoever, as all members may freely publish their works and reviews there. At least until Peter dropped this bomb on their party.

    Further confusing and obfuscating good research from 84 to 87, when Peter first published his reviews of hiv theory, was the fight that broke out between Gallo and Montagniers group for discovery and patent rights to the antibody tests. Much time and effort by Gallo and his associates went into this battle between the NIH and the Pasteur Institute, but on the positive side, it slowed things down just a bit, which gave Duesberg a bit more time to review the work done to date. Unfortunately, even this additional time was insufficient to stop the ever increasing politics and potential financial benefits involved that now even extended to France.

    By this time lots of scientists were jumping on the funding presented by the new theory, and as history shows, there was no stopping them, and there was no slowing them down. Even if they had to sacrifice the few brightest and most productive among them for the financial good of the many.

    Michael

    May 3, 2009 at 8:59 pm

  41. Richard, is it possible that it could be bias within yourself that has prevented you from fully researching this issue from all sides yourself, and digging in for yourself on finding these evidences such as I have just shown you in the links above? I hope you will think about it, because you yourself said above: “In my experience it’s usually much easier to spot biased thinking in someone else than it is in one’s self – hence the value of us striving to keep checks and balances on each other.”

    In my experience as well. And as one who used to believe that hiv was the cause of aids, and as one who took a very long time myself to be convinced of otherwise, it now seems very easy for me to spot others bias, simply because I used to harbor the same bias myself.

    Is not use of the word “denialist” to describe the hiv skeptics the most obvious giveaway to one’s harboring bias within?

    Michael

    May 3, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    • Michael – you’re absolutely right that if my views on this issue are biased to a degree that I’ve failed to give both sides a fair evaluation, then I’d probably also be blind to that bias. Bias is sneaky like that…

      Here’s what I think, though – for a lay person who doesn’t have a PhD in microbiology, virology etc. – ie. for a person like me as opposed to a person like Duesberg or Gallo – trying to debate the details of HIV/AIDS theory is only ever going to get you so far. It’s such a specialised subject that to my mind, in the absence of expert knowledge, trying to argue about the technical details of HIV/AIDS is kind of like arguing Japanese grammar with a roomful of linguists from Okinawa.

      For me, what this is really about is whether we think that the scientific system itself – the awarding of degrees and academic posts, journal publication and peer review, research grants – the whole kit and kaboodle – is a broadly robust and reliable system, or whether it’s become corrupted. Because if it has become corrupted – as, say, the scientific system was corrupted by the likes of Lysenko in the Soviet Union – or indeed as, arguably, our global financial system became corrupted in the run-up to the credit crunch, then the idea that our scientific system is producing hugely erroneous results becomes a lot more plausible.

      And I think this is really a political question rather than a scientific one – and that the place to look for answers is therefore in the history/politics behind the system rather than in the details of any specific scientific theory.

      Richard Wilson

      May 3, 2009 at 9:32 pm

  42. I couldn’t agree with you more. I very much hope that you took a couple of minutes to look at those two links I showed you. If nothing else, they are amazing and fascinating pieces that put the history of this issue, and the very questions as to whether we are dealing with science or politics, in full perspective.

    I post them again, in great hope that you will take a moment to peruse them. It so clearly shows exactly what you speak of above:

    The Cancer agency was stripped of multibillion dollar funding that started with this “Special Report” done in the New York Times just 4 days before the first mention of any illnesses among gays:

    Cancer Agency faces questions on waste and abuses.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1981/06/02/science/cancer-agency-faces-questions-on-waste-and-abuses.html?sec=health

    And remember, this highly political and corrupted agency is THE agency that Gallo and all of the original hiv researchers came from. Some, like Gallo, Essex, and a couple of others are still involved in and funded for HIV to this day.

    And after digesting that New York Times report, I also greatly hope you will take a couple of minutes to look at this:

    http://www.virusmyth.com/aids/hiv/alpeer.htm

    It clearly explains what anyone who tried to counter these people was up against.

    Science or politics? I hope you will read these two pieces, and tell me your thoughts anon….

    Michael

    May 3, 2009 at 10:05 pm

  43. I am sensing a great deal of badly concealed hostility. In the world of Zen to fight is to upset your soul if I may be so bold as to say that you should all take about 5 mins every day to collect your thoughts and realize that when you fight about shit like that you do not hurt your opponent but only your self. So that gives every one something to think about. Not to mention it ends this blogging with a nice smooth edge to it.

    THE WORLD LOVES YOU AND YOU SHOULD LOVE IT RIGHT BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WAT

    August 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm


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