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Christine Maggiore’s last podcast

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howpositive

Yesterday I listened, in growing disbelief, to the last episode of HIV-positive AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore’s regular podcast, “How Positive Are You?”. The programme is dated December 6th, just 3 weeks before Maggiore’s sudden death from pneumonia, although comments in the podcast itself suggest it was recorded the previous month.

The discussion is co-presented by David Crowe, who early in the programme recounts with pride some of the comments he has received via email. He’s particularly pleased about one from an HIV-positive listener who reads the “Alive and Well” website every day, and who has chosen to disregard his doctor’s advice, forgoing anti-retroviral drugs in favour of eating lots of nutritious food and breathing plenty of fresh air.  “Wow, that’s beautiful”, Maggiore gushes.

Later on, Crowe and Maggiore conduct a phone interview with AIDS clinician Dr. Jocelyn Dee, who had (along with several colleagues) advised the makers of the TV drama “Law and Order SVU”. In October last year, the programme featured a fictional tragedy strikingly similar to that which hit Maggiore’s family in 2005, when her young daughter died suddenly from what a coroner later determined to be AIDS-related pneumonia. Maggiore, who was HIV positive, had refused to take medications that would have reduced the risk of transmission to her unborn child, and also declined to have her tested for HIV once she was born. Maggiore disputed the coroner’s report, and insisted that her daughter had in fact died from an allergic reaction to antibiotics. All of these details were echoed in the ostensibly-fictional TV show.

During the interview, Dr. Dee is initially unaware of Maggiore’s background, and of the final shape of the programme for which she had been an adviser; she explains that she found the show too difficult to watch because the subject matter was so close to the situations she saw every day through her work with HIV-positive people. When Maggiore finally reveals the full facts, Dee seems shocked yet sympathetic.

To hear Maggiore calmly recount the details of a programme so obviously based on her own life is chilling enough. But the most painful moment comes when she ridicules the fact that, in the fictionalised version of her life, the story ends with the denialist mother dying suddenly from an AIDS-related illness. Maggiore wonders aloud whether this might have been some kind of ‘wish fulfilment’ on the part of those who despise her refusal to accept the conventional view of HIV and AIDS.

Throughout the programme Maggiore seems lucid and eloquent. She was clearly a highly intelligent person who believed passionately that she was doing the right thing – which of course made her all the more dangerous. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a starker illustration of how far a well-structured, well-intentioned, well-expressed, and internally consistent argument can take you, even when your basic facts are nonetheless catastrophically flawed. Tragically there are some facts that no amount of nuanced, intelligent argument can refute, or psychoanalyse away.

See also: The parallels between AIDS denial and Holocaust negationism

37 Responses

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  1. Finally got the chance to listen to this today. It is really quite sad in context of subsequent events. You are right about her intelligence and being eloquent (They were two words that really struck me on the recording with Ornstein of the LA Times. I was amazed at how eloquent she was considering the monumental turmoil that she must have been going through with the fall out of her daughters death.)

    I guess that it was that level of intelligence and eloquence which rendered her so convincing. The vulnerability that one feels when trying to come to terms with a positive diagnosis is considerable so ANYONE that can sound so convincing whilst imparting (false) hope can easily become a source of support and comfort. So you are spot on about her being so dangerous.

    Dr Dee however comes across as a spectaculalrly genuine and caring woman who held herself well in what could have been a highly fractious interview. I think that she is the real hero of that podcast.

    However you view it though it is truly sad indeed.

    BSE

    January 14, 2009 at 6:20 pm

  2. It really is something, isn’t it? I think it highlights a really important point, which is too easily forgotten when we’re dealing with people whose actions have had such horrific consequences – what’s weird is that a lot of the most dangerous people don’t come across as obvious nutcases at all – in fact they can sound sane, reasonable, and in many ways quite likeable and human. But that doesn’t stop them being dangerous – in fact it makes them even more so, because it’s harder to see people like that coming!

    I also agree with you that Dr Dee comes out as the real hero of the piece.

    Richard Wilson

    January 20, 2009 at 9:35 pm

  3. Richard,

    I know this is an old thread, but I was googling around, so it is new to me.

    I am sure you must have noticed that Christine’s passing did not slow down aids sceptics, dissidents, doubters and rethinkers even a stroke.

    The reason being, I think, is that as you well pointed out about Christine, many aids sceptics are also very intelligent, passionate about what they do truly believe, and often highly articulate.

    As to whether this makes them more dangerous or more likely to be correct, I suspect that is only a matter of opinion.

    To cut to the chase, for Christine to have died of AIDS caused by HIV, the standard orthodox description would be that her immune system was so ravaged by HIV, that her T-cells had either all been killed off by HIV or had been suppressed into no longer functioning.

    But herein lies a great difficulty, in that nowhere in hiv science or research, has any mechanism by which hiv kills or suppresses CD4 t cells ever been found. Not in 25 years, and not even after hundreds of billions of dollars in worldwide research in the finest and most well supplied laboratories in the world.

    HIV causation theory is balanced upon this precarious balance of believing that HIV causes aids by somehow killing or subdueing or depressing CD4 T-cells, but orthodox science has so far been unable to prove this.

    But is the unproven HIV theory even the simplest explanation for t-cell loss? Are there not other well proven causes of loss or suppression of CD4 T cells? What are T cells and where do they come from?

    T-cells are immune sytem cells in our blood stream that remove invading particles and viruses, bacterias, etc, from the body. Basically they determine the difference between self and non-self, and remove all that is non-self to carry it out of the body.

    The T in T-cells stands for THYMUS gland.

    T-cells are born in bone marrow and are matured in the thymus gland.

    Please look at this:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15710460

    This study, done on rats to create “chronic stress” caused hypoatrophy of the thymus in 21 days. The following is the brief on pubmed:

    The aim of this study was to investigate whether chronic stress, induced by repeated daily swimming during 21 days, alters the morphofunctional parameters in the thymus of adult rats. Our results showed that chronic stress reduced thymus mass, total number of thymocytes, volume of the thymus compartments and numerical density of thymocytes within thymus inner cortex and medulla. However, the percentage of apoptotic cells and the level of corticosterone were significantly increased. The percentages of CD4-CD8-TCRalphabeta(low/high) and CD4-CD8+TCRalphabeta(-)thymocytes were significantly increased, while the percentage of the least mature CD4+CD8-SP TCRalphabeta(-) thymocytes was significantly decreased. These results show that recurred swimming procedure induces thymus hypotrophy and elevated percentage of DN TCRalphabeta(+) cells.

    So, herein, in this simple study, it is verified that chronic stress, even of short duration such as the above 21 day experiment, has vast effects on the thymus gland where CD4 t-cells come from. It has vast effect on decreasing new T-cells from maturing. Herein is the simplest and also well verified cause of T-cell loss and dysfunction that is attributed to HIV. Occam’s Razor at work.

    Does the death of Christine Maggiore back this explanation up? See for yourself: How chronically stressed was Christine Maggiore after the death of her daughter? How stressed was she by the constant harassment by aidstruthers? How stressed was she by the threat of child protection taking her son? How stressed was she by putting her husband through all of this? How stressed was she by the court case she had going against the coroner who she was scheduled to face off with a week after she died? How stressed was she over the Law and Order SUV show that aired a month and a half before she was to go to court?

    And for other HIV positives and gays and drug addicts or the poor in Africa or inner city blacks who have been the leading risk group, does it hold up for them? And how chronically stressful is the diagnosis itself? How chronically stressful is drug addiction or going for weeks at a time strung out on speed like crystal meth? How stressful is malnourishment? How stressful are many of the hiv drugs on some peoples bodies? How stressful is it to be disowned by ones parents for being gay? How stressful is it to believe one is hiv positive and destined to come down with AIDS? How stressful is it to have one’s partner or have several dear friends die?

    This Stress/Thymus hypotrophy explanation clearly fits them all. And even fits much better than the HIV model.

    There are many causes and contributors to chronic stress, be the stress chemical or emotional or physical. And it is clear that chronic stress causes immune suppression via the thymus gland/lymphocyte connection. And to me, at least, the results of the chronic stress appear quite clear. Stress has clearly played the most significant role in every death that has been attributed to hiv, yet, I fear, too few are making this simple connection, even though it appears to be the most obvious and the weakest link in the hiv=aids theory.

    Michael

    May 3, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    • Hi Michael – many thanks for your thoughtful comment, which seems again to demonstrate that there’s no contradiction between being intelligent and articulate and taking the “AIDS dissident” position. I personally don’t think that it’s possible to make any sense of this issue unless it’s acknowledged that those most actively involved in disputing the link between HIV and AIDS tend, for the most part, to be talented, intelligent, and eloquent people.

      But it seems to me that the same must surely also be true of the overwhelming majority of scientists who believe that HIV does cause AIDS, including those conducting research on the disease. It therefore seems to me that the question of who’s right and who’s wrong must therefore be about more than just the eloquence of the arguments, and the intelligence of those making them.

      I think I can see what you’re getting at with regard to the study you cite – ie. that you believe it shows that stress could be a cause of catastrophic CD4 T-cell depletion, which is the specific type of immune system damage commonly seen in AIDS patients, and that therefore stress, rather than HIV, might be the cause of AIDS. From the abstract alone I’m a bit doubtful that this is in fact what the study demonstrates. As I’m not a scientist myself I’m not best placed to go over that in detail.

      The summary says that “the percentage of the least mature CD4+CD8-SP TCRalphabeta(-) thymocytes was significantly decreased”. As I’m not a microbiologist I’m not familiar with the term “TCRalphabeta(-) thymocytes” – could you help me out with that?

      What I would say, though, is that even if the paper had found a correlation between stress and massive CD4 T-cell depletion, this wouldn’t in itself disprove the correlation between HIV infection and CD4 depletion. You argue that the precise mechanism by which HIV actually causes CD4 depletion isn’t fully understood – but surely any theory attempting to prove that stress caused CD4 depletion would face comparable problems? Even if an association between stress and CD4 depletion could be clearly demonstrated (which would certainly be interesting), this still would not show the precise mechanism by which stress killed (or inhibited production of) CD4 cells either. So the stress=AIDS=death theory would still have plenty of gaps in it too. Presumably, if you were going to apply the same evidential standard that you’re arguing for with regard to the link between HIV and AIDS, before accepting that stress could actually be a cause of AIDS, you’d first need to show exactly how the stress was attacking/inhibiting the CD4 cells – not merely that there was a correlation?

      Richard Wilson

      May 3, 2009 at 9:11 pm

  4. Richard, you said “I’m not familiar with the term “TCRalphabeta(-) thymocytes” – could you help me out with that?”

    Yes, no problem and actually quite simple They are referring to the CD4 T-cells (which are said to be depleted, suppressed, or killed off by hiv in aids patients) and CD8 T-cells that are still maturing in the thymus gland, and are not yet released into the body.

    The interesting thing from this study, is that it clearly showed that the number of immature, not yet released t-cells, and the thymus glands ability to mature new t-cells, decreased via only 21 days of chronic stress. This implies a clear shutdown of sufficient new t-cells being created to fight future infections.

    You also wrote “Even if an association between stress and CD4 depletion could be clearly demonstrated (which would certainly be interesting), this still would not show the precise mechanism by which stress killed (or inhibited production of) CD4 cells either”.

    Actually, this association of stress and aids illnesses has been shown repeatedly and in many various studies. Do a simple search for “stress” and “hiv/aids”. This has all been well known for quite some time.

    I am not sure quite what you are saying, as to the precise mechanism by which stress affects the thymus gland’s production of t-cells is still unknown, as this seems to me to be the mechanism.

    However, I presume that you are stating something to the effect that the mind/body connection, such as why your hands sweat in very tense moments of emotional drama, is still unknown. Or how your heart skipped a beat when you saw your first true love.

    I would venture to guess that there is and always will be much that scientific instruments are incapable of measuring. There is no instrument that can measure or determine if you are loving or hateful or how angry or how sad or how depressed or how joyful or how vengeful or how forgiving you are.

    Yet, irregardless of what scientific instruments can measure, those things are all very real to you, and are, in fact, what makes you human. Yet science and its instruments can not discover that any such thing as love or hate even exists. But does this mean that love or hate do not exist? They certainly seem to exist to those of us who experience them. We have all universally agreed upon their existence. Are we all wrong here as well?

    But perhaps that is why nature and evolution gave us minds to think and reason with, and emotions and experiences to feel with. Perhaps the answers to some of our questions were never able nor meant to be explained by mere science and its instruments in the first place, but are only experiential in being, and unique to our own individual perspectives, that are based upon our preprogrammed beliefs, and are sorted out by using our minds and our best inner judgements to the best of each individuals abilities.

    After all, no matter what science claims or disowns, the only thing we all ultimately and truly have that is our place of our own innermost utter truth, comes down solely to our personal and experiential experiences of this thing we call life, and how we percieve what any of these experiences means to us individually.

    Michael

    May 3, 2009 at 10:45 pm

  5. Thanks for that clarification, Michael. So what you’re suggesting is that the study shows that following 21 days of stress, the rats had fewer new/immature CD4 cells, and that this points to stress in rats causing a reduction in CD4 levels longer term. I was a bit unsure about one other detail there, though. The summary refers to a decreased “percentage” of TCRalphabeta(-) thymocytes, and I wasn’t clear whether this was a relative percentage – ie. a lower percentage only because the percentage of other CD4 cells went up – or an absolute one.

    I was aware of an association between stress and lowered immunity, but that’s not necessarily the same as a link between stress and lowered CD4 counts, because there’s more to the immune system than just CD4 cells.

    My point about the difference between a correlation and a cause is this – it would be one thing to show that stress is linked to lower CD4 counts – but it’s something else again to show exactly HOW, biochemically etc., stress would actually be bringing about that change. I really meant this as a corollary to your point about HIV and CD4 depletion – I took you to be pointing out (and it does seem like a fair point) that it’s one thing to show that people with HIV tend also to experience massive CD4 depletion, but it’s another thing to show exactly how it is that the HIV is killing or suppressing the CD4 cells. I think that this would be a fair point, but that it would also then be important to be consistent and apply it to all agents. In the early days of the research on the link between smoking and cancer there was a long gap between the moment it was first shown that people who smoked were overwhelmingly more likely to develop lung cancer, and the moment that scientists were actually able to show how, exactly, those smoke particles were causing the cancers to develop. It is an important distinction, but of course while correlation isn’t necessarily the same as causation, when there’s a very clear correlation, such as that between smoking and cancer, this can be a very strong clue that there is a causal link, even when a lot more research may be needed to show exactly how that causal link works. The fact that gaps remain in the explanation of the mechanism does not in itself disprove the theory.

    I agree with you about science having its limitations, and about the huge gap between what we as human beings value and what science can measure. But equally, when we’re trying to resolve a quantitative scientific question, such as the cause of a particular disease, I think that the methods and principles of science – mundane though they often seem – are probably the most effective explanatory system we currently have.

    Richard Wilson

    May 4, 2009 at 9:26 am

  6. Every one of the billions of cells in your body has a strand of DNA that is composed of at least 10% retroviral strands that have integrated as a part of the human genome over the aeons of human existence from our ancestors)

    The interesting thing about the chronic stress connection to immune suppression, is that it duplicates what is claimed to be due to HIV, even though HIV itself, just like any other retroviral strand of rna, so far, has not been proven to do anything except integrate itself with DNA. It has not been shown to kill any host cell. It has not been shown to suppress creation of new t-cells. These are simply correlations to some people who become ill that are hiv positive.

    Yet the chronic stress/thymus connection breaks these bounds, and is found to be going on across the board in most human disease that is happening in otherwise healthy humans in the 20 to 50 year age group, whether hiv positive or negative.

    Even more fascinating, is that this seems to be highly related to the inherited physical effects of the fight or flight instinct. According to the Wiki, this is 100% compatible with the Fight-or-flight response:

    “…Prolonged stress responses may result in chronic suppression of the immune system, leaving the body open to infections, however there is a short boost of the immune system shortly after the fight or flight response has been activated. This is due to an ancient need to fight the infections in a wound that one may have received during interaction with a predator…”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fight-or-flight_response#Negative_effects_of_the_stress_response_in_humans

    However, for those suffering chronic emotional stress, as surely Christine Maggiore must have been (she was scheduled to face off with the LA city coroner in court just days after she died), there is no seeming escape from the “predator” that one is facing.

    For those who are told they have HIV and will die from it, the overwhelming stress can be unbearable, as is verified by the high number of suicides in those who are so diagnosed. After all, there is no escape from the predator when you are told that the predator you are facing is coursing through your blood stream.

    Taking such as AIDS drugs may greatly assist people in exiting chronic fight or flight mode, provided they believe the aids drugs will keep the predator suppressed. This may also be the anti-hiv drugs only effects, but unfortunately, we cannot possibly know this for sure, because not a single anti-hiv drug has ever been tested against placebo since the very first drug, azt, was given a short four month long trial before being given to all hiv positives.

    You wrote above: “I think that the methods and principles of science – mundane though they often seem – are probably the most effective explanatory system we currently have”.

    Perhaps, perhaps not. It seems to be critical to understand that they are indeed limited, as well as is the rational human mind, which has been so well proven over and over repeatedly ad nauseum through-out all of human history, to be unable to know the difference between truth and falsehood.

    History is filled with account after account of believing falsehoods while millions upon millions followed the misguided beliefs of their leaders unto their deaths.

    Look around today. Has anything changed all that much?

    Certainly science has its place, provided we fully understand that it IS inherently limited. Hence the requirement not to elevate science or politicians or any religious belief to the levels of deity or religious-like blind followers of belief. Hence the need to be skeptical, whether it be skeptical of science, religious beliefs, politicians, or deitys, or anything or anyone else. Hence also the need to even be skeptical of our own skepticism, though we still are often required to make a decision that we do base on our best current beliefs and on past experiences.

    I would think that the safest place to stand would always be “I currently believe, though I don’t really know for sure, that such-and-such is the way of truth, and I currently believe that such-other-and-such. is a falsehood, though I may change my mind on this later. After all, why trap ourselves into anything at all? To trap ourselves in such a way is the end of expansion to further learn or grow or find any higher truth, or find the source of what we currently and perhaps mistakenly believe is the source of any given belief.

    And obviously, this is even a built in inherited natural evolutionary safeguard for mankind, as otherwise we could have (or perhaps already would have had) an inclination to blindly follow the blind on any given false belief system ending in all of our extinction.

    Was it Socrates who said: “Seek the company of those who seek the truth, and run from those who say they have found it”?

    Whoever it was, I fully agree.

    Michael

    May 5, 2009 at 7:13 pm

  7. Richard, You crack me up. If Gaye didn’t say it, he certainly should have. Other than that, this is the first I have seen you say so little, which tells me you are digesting it.

    But if you are hungry for any more, here is a choice offering if you have room left for any dessert…..

    …….as per the above, this is one of the reasons that I myself do honor Peter Duesberg. In my mind, he is truly, if nothing else, a skeptic’s skeptic. He is often even skeptical of himself and his own research, which is a reason that many look to him to more likely be correct. He was, after all, the only one of his fellow retroviral experts to be skeptical of retroviruses causing cancer or any disease. Hence, his retrovirally convinced colleagues all despised him for jumping the retroviral ship.

    Will Peter go down in history as the skeptics skeptic who was more correct on some key aspects of this aids issue?

    Or will the Perth Group who were even more skeptical of all of the retrovirologists, including some of Peter’s positions?

    Either way it goes, Peter was the leading influence in ending high dosage AZT monotherapy that was pushed from the beginning by Gallo and Niaids director Anthony Fauci. Peter was the loudest and most influential voice on the issue from the start. Though chronic stress itself probably perhaps played the larger part, many people already perhaps owe Peter for the extension of their lives as the years of high dose azt are the exact years of highest deaths attributed to hiv. Surely, Peter’s demand that HIV was not the cause of aids considerably lessened the chronic stress suffered for some individuals, such as Maggiore herself, as well. By 1995, demanded by Peter and his very vocal followers, high dose AZT monotherapy ended, and much less azt, or drugs with no azt were then dosed out in combination with other lesser, though still toxic fast tracked, not placebo tested drugs, as is evidenced by the leading cause of death still being liver failure, as well as high numbers of kidney and heart failure, and cancers, not to mention an astonomical number of people disfigured by lipodystrophy, in those who yet take the drugs.

    So….Where does highest truth on this issue stand firm?

    Gallo et al?

    Peter Duesberg?

    The Perth Group?

    Combinations of all the above?

    Only Time will tell, as mankind has yet to fully look at all of this retrospectively, from an unemotional unbiased point, in our future.

    And with that, surely you have had more than your fill of my ramblings, and perhaps it would do you well to turn on some Marvin Gaye and relax, or take a pleasant walk with your thoughts, or ??? After all, this will all take its course, regardless of any thoughts and beliefs we share. Undoubtedly, all are doing their best with what they individually believe or have to work with. Including you, and I.

    Michael

    May 5, 2009 at 8:13 pm

  8. Oh, and by the way, Richard..

    I have read your book. And even or someone like myself, who has but a mere high school education, and almost did not attain even that, I found it very readable, understandable, and intriguing. And, overall, with the exception of a few very minor points that I have already discussed, I very much enjoyed it.

    But I have to tell you, Richard, I am even more eagerly awaiting your next one. I think the evolution to your next book, and the further enlightenment you have undoubtedly attained from writing the current book, will surely make its sequel likely even far excelling and far outselling your already very good works.

    Best to you and yours,

    Michael Geiger,
    San Diego, CA.

    Michael

    May 5, 2009 at 8:32 pm

  9. Michael that’s very kind – many thanks. I suspect that the kinds of books that I tend to write mean that this will always be more of an interest than a big earner, but it’s always gratifying to learn that people have found what I’ve written interesting or at least enjoyable! Thanks also for sharing those other thoughts, which as I you rightly guess, I am taking some time to digest!

    Richard Wilson

    May 5, 2009 at 8:48 pm

  10. Hi Michael – sorry for the delay! You certainly have a talent for churning out good copy – I have trouble keeping up. So here’s my thinking, anyhow:

    What you seem to be proposing is that the study above points to stress playing a far greater role in the causation of illness than is generally acknowledged by medical science. Clearly science does recognise that stress can be a contributory factor in disease, but what you seem to be saying is that the true extent of the damage that stress can do is quite a lot more than that. Am I reading you right so far?

    Anyhow, in addition to this you also seem to be suggesting that the cause of AIDS has been misdiagnosed as HIV, when in fact stress has been the major cause all along.

    This is certainly a coherent theory, so far as it goes. Is it fair to say that it’s in a similar vein as Caspar Schmidt’s view of AIDS as the product of “shame-induced depression” as outlined in this essay, way back in 1984?

    But where I’d want to see a bit more detail is in the evidence for all of this. Because if I’m reading you right, what you’re proposing would require quite a fundamental rethink within science not just on AIDS but on disease causation much more widely, and on the relationship between stress and the immune system. So if you’re asking people to make that leap of faith, then I think that there has to be some really compelling empirical evidence to back up the theory.

    Is there, for example, epidemiological evidence that people working in high-pressure jobs, working long hours etc. tend to experience the kind of massive immune damage seen in AIDS patients to a significantly greater degree people who work in more relaxed, less stressful professions? Clearly it’s widely believed that people in stressful situations will get more coughs and colds and (beyond a certain age) be more prone to heart attacks, but what you seem to be pointing to is something far more profound than that – that stress could be causing massive amounts of fatal illness in people in their 20s and 30s and younger.

    This is the part that I’m most doubtful about, because it seems to me that lots of people experience high levels of chronic stress (perhaps increasingly given modern lifestyles), but that only a relatively small number then go on to develop serious life-threatening illnesses, with a large proportion of these only in people 50+ years old.

    Your take on the conclusions of the study that you mention above is certainly interesting, but I’m not sure that this in itself could really constitute conclusive proof. I know that you may hate me for saying this, but to make this theory stick I think you’d need to be able to point to quite a substantial body of peer-reviewed evidence, and so far as I’m aware that evidence currently just doesn’t exist. Interesting idea though.

    Richard Wilson

    May 6, 2009 at 10:28 pm

  11. PS – I don’t mean to cause offence, but have you never considered the possibility that HIV might in fact be the cause of AIDS after all? Wasn’t it Aristotle who said “Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for is the one thing you can’t see”?

    Richard Wilson

    May 6, 2009 at 10:57 pm

  12. “…evidence currently just doesn’t exist.”

    There are:

    61232 peer reviewed papers on Pubmed for stress and disease.

    1369 peer reviewed papers on Pubmed for stress and the thymus.

    2057 peer reviewed papers on Pubmed for stress and aids

    142 peer reviewed papers on Pubmed for stress and “immune suppression”.

    2,450,000 hits on Google for Stress and Disease

    620,000 hits on Google for Stress and Thymus.

    How many citations, studies, and peer reviews and notations is sufficient for something to be recognized?

    Or could there be other reasons that it may not be even acknowledged even if there were 1 million peer reviewed citations?

    I would hazard a guess that Caspar would attribute the lack of wider recognition to a current popular groupthink.

    What would you attribute it to?

    Michael

    May 7, 2009 at 7:24 am

    • PS – Michael, I was charmed by your reference to “the die hard HIV theory promoter Richard Wilson” – do I get some kind of badge for that?

      Richard Wilson

      May 7, 2009 at 12:13 pm

  13. Oh, and by the way, Richard, I have studied enough psychology. I find your last post of “I don’t mean to offend” to be a sure sign that you perhaps may be being suddenly passive aggressive, and may be consciously or subconsciously that you did actually mean to offend, otherwise, you would likely have simply asked the question as an honest question with no need to qualify it.

    Don’t believe me? The next time someone says to you “I don’t mean to offend, but…” check out their motivations.

    But that’s alright. Your human. Your entitled.

    But to answer your question, yes, I more than considered it. I even believed it.

    “Wasn’t it Aristotle who said “Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for is the one thing you can’t see”?

    Now what do you suppose he meant by that, Richard?

    And should he have more appropriately ended it with “can’t see” or “won’t see”?

    Michael

    May 7, 2009 at 7:40 am

  14. Hi Michael – I’m aware that people have done lots of research on stress, and its effects – but what I’m not aware of is any hard evidence that stress is causing the specific type of massive immune damage seen in AIDS patients. Whereas there does seem to be a pretty strong epidemiological association between HIV infection and massive immune damage. Clearly stress can have adverse effects on people’s health in some circumstances, but it’s another thing again to propose that it plays the kind of central determining role that you’re suggesting. I’m just not convinced that this particular conclusion is supported by the evidence – and even if it was, it wouldn’t really be me you’d need to be convincing – but rather the mainstream scientific community.

    To the best of my knowledge, the scientific community does not agree that stress is the cause of AIDS, which I guess leads back to the question of whether or not science, in its current form, is a competent and broadly reliable system for making such judgments, or whether it’s become corrupted. If I’m reading you correctly then you seem to be suggesting that it has, and that “groupthink” may be a factor. But this too is an empirical claim – which needs to be backed up with evidence if you want people to accept it…

    Richard Wilson

    May 7, 2009 at 9:12 am

  15. Hi Richard, Like Michael I’m someone who prizes skepticism.

    I don’t know Michael from Adam. However, I suspect he has considered that the HIV theory might be right. Anyone who prizes skepticism will not dogmatically reject everything to do with the HIV theory of AIDS. The establishment has been dogmatic about that theory.

    But there are many anomalies about the HIV theory of AIDS. For instance I had gay friends in the late 1980s who were the picture of health, but under the publicity around AIDS went for HIV tests. On testing positive, they were put on AZT. Within months they were very sick. Those who came off AZT recovered; the others died. To this day I’ve never seen a public admission from the establishment that AZT could have been solely responsible for many of those deaths in the late 80s/early 90s. The ramifications of such an admission would be powerful – Duesberg and Lauritsen would be vindicated in pointing out that the side effects of AZT were indistinguishable from AIDS.

    Currently I have another group of friends who are on ARVs. Some have been on ARVs for 6 years; others for 3 years. So far I haven’t seen anything like the sickness I saw with my friends almost 20 years ago. In fact, with one of my friends his reaction to ARVs was incredible. This friend had been sick for some years. Within 3 days of taking ARVs, he was feeling better. I discount this as a placebo effect, as he had the gravest doubts about taking ARVs, and fully expected them to make him worse and maybe even kill him. But for his body to noticeably begin recovering from his severe problems within 3 days does not make any sense in terms of ARVs disrupting HIV and his immune system recovering. Something else must have been going on – he likened it to the effect of being on penicillin for a bacterial infection. But whatever was going on, my friend recovered.

    You asked Michael about stressful occupations and whether or not there is evidence that people in these jobs suffer T-cell depletion. I don’t know if that kind of study exists. However, I can think of ways in which gay people live under chronic stress that many straight people have no idea about. Before I say anything else, let me say that I’m one of the most open and proud gay men you are likely to meet. I came out to friends and to my religious family when it was still illegal for me to have sex with another man. I’ve come out to hundreds of people (I used to be a teacher), and I have had known homophobes change their world view and come to consider me one of the people they most admire.

    For years I’ve had my doubts about the validity of Casper Schmidt’s thesis for years. I have little time for theories that are predicated on self-deception or the unconscious.

    However, I want to try and put the perspective of someone who thinks he feels no shame at being gay. Let’s begin with the fact that although practically no society encourages anyone to be gay, homosexuality is found in all societies. In most societies those people who can suppress their homosexual desires surely will (most bisexuals will choose to identify themselves as straight). Those of us who can’t suppress our desires from know on a daily basis that (fundamentally) our society thinks we are sick/evil.

    I’m almost 50 years old, and I’ve seen western european countries become increasingly tolerant of homosexuality. Nevertheless, I’m still struck by the way in which we have no normalized portrayal in the mass media. Studies show that considerably less than 10% of people who are gay (maybe as low as 1% for those who are exclusively homosexual). Since sexuality is actually a spectrum, when a society is less anti-homosexual there are likely to be more people prepared to identify themselves as gay. Yet the representation of gay people in the mass media is so small that it is invisible.

    The assumption behind almost all fictional and factual output is that the audience is heterosexual. In my life I must have seen hundreds of thousands of TV ads; yet I can count on one hand those that had gay characters. The situation is not much better when it comes to TV programming. Ditto for movies. And magazines. And newspapers. Of course there is a small cultural ghetto of gay movies and gay magazines. Straight people don’t view those, yet notice nothing odd in the expectation that we should happily view a lifetime of output that assumes the only way to be is straight.

    Why might this be a hidden source of stress? Well, consider it against the underlying meme that homosexuals are sick/evil. Whilst most of the mass media output is not explicitly propounding that, by choosing to ignore us they are re-inforcing the idea that we are at worst offensive or at best irrelevant.

    Schools also fail to teach civilizing values. In the UK it is known that the majoriy of school-yard verbal abuse involves anti-gay jibes. If these jibes were anti-jewish, anti-muslim, or anti-black, then the teachers would not permit it. At some level the teachers consider hatred of homosexuality to be acceptable. Let’s not even consider how much hatred of homosexuals is propounded by the religions of the scriptures (e.g. the Pope recently condemning homosexuality as a bigger threat than global warming, the hanging of 16 year old boys in Iran).

    For better or worse, we are all sheep, and we want to belong to the herd. Who knows what psychological and emotional damage is being done to gay people in being excluded and ostracized. I’m pretty sure that no-one is even trying to measure this.

    Whilst I say I have no shame about being gay, I am almost always aware that there may be people in my immediate surroundings who not only disapprove of my lifestyle but may actually inflict violence on me for it. I have been attacked on more than one occasion for being gay.

    The point that I am making is that I do not know if the working conditions of say doctors or call-center workers is the same as the chronic stress of knowing every day that your society views you as evil, sick, offensive or even just irrelevant. Furthermore, normal workers in stressful jobs at least have a break (weekends, holidays, even sick leave) from their stress. There can also be cameraderie amongst the workers in those environments. By contrast, much of gay society is actually competitive (think gay men trawling bars or saunas looking for sex).

    Gay people will often have groups of friends who are supportive. But I don’t think that many gay men will have a supportive family-like structure that endures for years come what may. Unlike many gay men, I live with my ex-boyfriend of 25 years ago. And my husband of 7 years lives with us too. I know relationships like this are more common among gay people than among straight people, but relationships like ours are still the exception amongst gay people too. Yet the tendency amongst gay people is to move away from their families and towards larger urban environments. So it is very likely that gay people feel a much greater sense of isolation than straight people.

    There are other chronic stresses for gay people, and maybe particularly for gay men. It is a wide-held joke amongst gay men that by the end of their twenties they are old. That’s a joke, but there is some truth in it. When sexual attractiveness is a large part of a sub-culture and when youth is considered more attractive than maturity, gay men have to deal with the realization that within this (to them vital) sub-culture their value is falling, and is likely to keep on falling. Obviously many straight people have issues with growing older, but they also often have validation in the growth in their family. Lesbians also go to bars, but it is a much smaller part of their lives than it is for gay men (witnessed by the fact that there are so few lesbian bars, and no lesbian saunas).

    Yet I still don’t think that the chronic stress of a gay lifestyle is enough to explain AIDS. If AIDS was mostly stress-induced and being gay was more chronically stressful than being straight, why is there such low incidence of AIDS amongst lesbians? It could be that here are oxidative stresses that are an additional burden on gay men. I doubt that gay male alcohol abuse differs much from that of lesbians. I’ve certainly seen a massive growth in the use of drugs amongst gay men (and amongst straight clubbers).

    Maybe the other factor is repeated sexually-transmitted infections. I don’t just mean the recognized infections (syphillis, etc). For a period of 10 years I could not kiss most men without getting a serious throat infection. Doctors were mystified by my glandular infections, and it was up to me to identify the association with kissing. Oral sex was fine; kissing was a health risk. On discussing that with other gay male friends, they found that they too often got glandular infections from kissing.

    When I was in a steady relationship, after the first infection from that boyfriend, I would be ok to kiss him. In fact, I was able to catch out lying boyfriends who were sleeping around, because they would become carriers of micro-organisms that had no effect on them but which gave me glandular fever.

    I can see an intersection of immune-challenging issues at the centre of which are gay men, and which might explain why AIDS in the West is still so heavily associated with gay men:
    – shame, threats and challenges to self-esteem;
    – frequent sexually-transmitted infections (ranging from sore throats to syphillis);
    – alcohol and drug abuse.
    However, even here one might expect prostitutes also be at a high risk of AIDS, since their behaviour would also place them at the centre of such an intersection. That they are not again makes me think that rectal semen may well be the issue, since that is something that might distinguish the behaviour of gay men from them. Or maybe life as a gay man is more psychologically destructive than life as a prostitute.

    A true skeptic is not dogmatic. I still raise questions and doubts about HIV being the cause of AIDS. But I don’t push my friends ARVs to stop taking ARVs, because I have my doubts. They were sick, and now they are mostly well. They are likely to suffer life-threatening side-effects from ARVs. If HIV is not the cause of their problems, yet it could still be that ARVs are having unanticipated effects against the true cause of their condition.

    But the epidemiological evidence suggests that HIV is not a sexually-transmitted infection, or if it is transmitted that it is far less easily transmitted than all other STDs. Whether it causes AIDS is another matter entirely. It seems quite clear that testing positive on a HIV test is not a sufficient cause of AIDS. Luc Montagnier admits there must be co-factors (http://www.arabhealthonline.com/upl_images/AH-Mag1-Article2.pdf). The existence of AIDS without HIV (so-called idiopathic CD4 lymphocytopenia) suggests HIV is not even a necessary condition for AIDS.

    By the way, I’d never heard of your book. But I’m impressed by the tenor of your engagement with Michael, and by Michael’s endorsement of it, so I’m off to read your book.

    Joe

    May 7, 2009 at 9:44 am

    • Joe – many thanks for your comment and sorry for the delay in replying – you make some really interesting points. But the peer-reviewed evidence I’m aware of does seem to point being HIV being the primary cause of CD4 T-cell depletion and to HIV being sexually transmitted – albeit with significant variations between strains and different risk factors between different types of sexual activity. I’m aware that some people have tried to argue that a particular study by Nancy Padian cast serious doubt on HIV being a sexually transmitted virus, but I’m also aware that Padian herself has repudiated that interpretation of her study and that in her view HIV is sexually transmitted and her research was simply misrepresented.

      I would never wish to downplay the huge psychological burden caused by society’s bigoted attitudes towards homosexuality, or the impact that this can have – but I’ve just not seen any clear scientific evidence that, in practice, stress of any kind could be causing the specific type of immune damage seen in people with HIV.

      Richard Wilson

      May 8, 2009 at 9:01 pm

  16. Richard, you said: “Whereas there does seem to be a pretty strong epidemiological association between HIV infection and massive immune damage”.

    That is a rather blanketing statement, Richard. Here in the states, the CDC says there are more than a million HIV positives.

    The CDC says one fourth of these do not even know they are infected.

    The CDC says one half of all of these HIV positives do not take any aids drugs at all.

    The CDC mortality rate is only about 15,000 deaths in HIV positives per year, with the majority of these ascribed to LIVER FAILURE!

    So just where is your “massive immune damage” in one million hiv positives of whom half do not take drugs and 1/4th do not even know they are infected?

    Perhaps you are reflecting on the years of 1987 to 1995 when deaths attributed to hiv were at their peak, and when the stress of being diagnosed as hiv positive was at panicked and terror levels, and also happens to be the identical years of AZT being given to all hiv positives in high dosage.

    Here in the states, more than 18,000 people per year die from MRSA. And the number increases yearly. This is now 3,000 more a year than are attributed to aids.

    And by the way, just how many hiv negative deaths per year would be found in any average of one million people?

    About 15,000!

    So just where is your insistant claim of “massive immune damage”, as it does not exist in hiv positives in developed countries, and it does not exist in the group that should be hit the hardest, those who do not know they are hiv and those who do not even take anti-hiv drugs?

    Please Richard, and in all seriousness, just where is this large number of massively immune damaged individuals? Or are you referring to those few hiv positives who are still chronically stressed by the diagnosis, or the ones who are still hard core drug addicts? Or the deaths that are induced by the drugs themselves?

    Michael

    May 7, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    • Wow – three new comments in one go – you can certainly type more quickly than I can. The evidence I’ve seen does seem to justify the statement that there is a strong epidemiological link between HIV and AIDS. You may want to dispute this evidence, but I think you’d need to give a good reason for dismissing it entirely. There’s a lot of peer-reviewed evidence out there, but one example would be the study published by Schechter et al in the Lancet in 1993: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8095571. Here’s part of the summary: “In 715 homosexual men followed for a median of 8.6 years, all 136 AIDS cases occurred in the 365 individuals with pre-existing HIV-1 antibody. Most men negative for HIV-1 antibody reported risk behaviours but none developed any AIDS illnesses. CD4 counts fell in anti-HIV-1-positive men but remained stable in antibody-negative men, whether or not risk behaviours were present.”

      The NIH gives a broader and more detailed overview of the various bits of research pointing to the HIV-AIDS link here: http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/HIVAIDS/Understanding/How+HIV+Causes+AIDS/HIVcausesAIDS.htm

      This is really the kind of thing I mean by a strong epidemiological association. In my view, if you want to say that all of this research is flawed, then you have to commit yourself to the view that the whole scientific system – peer review, journal publication etc. has become so corrupted so that the normal checks and balances aren’t working.

      Richard Wilson

      May 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

      • Interesting that you would use “Schechter et al in the Lancet in 1993″ as evidence of “massive immune damage, a study done in 1993 at the height of the panic and at the height of azt use?

        Perhaps you unaware that 1993 was the year of highest aids death with the highest number of frenzied panicked hiv positives that were taking AZT, and in turn an even more frenzied and panicked gay community left behind. 40 to 50,000 American deaths were claimed to be due to hiv that year.

        Would you suppose this could contribute to even more panic in other hiv positives? How about in gay communities?

        As such, it seems to me that by using a piece from 1993, you have unwittingly just posted more evidence pointing to Chronic Stress and AZT deaths by presenting a study of the worst of the worst.

        I do not understand what seems to be your continuous mentioning of needing consensus science in order to take a position on this or to come to any understanding of which side of the issue likely has more weight or the highest truth. What does scientific peer reviewed science have to do with whether something is to be individually determined as true or false?

        Surely, you are not saying consensus equals correctness. As a skeptic yourself, who wrote a book about it, you already are aware that a skeptic has much to be skeptical about provided even if there is consensus peer review established.

        I am sure you are well aware that history does not always bear out consensus or peer review. Grave errors all around have been plentifully exposed on both accounts. Human history shows phenomenal errors repeatedly made by consensus, yet science moves forward not by the consensus, nor by peer review, both of which can usually be helpful or trustworthy, but also show us that they can also both be quite wrong, and can even keep science from moving forward, as consensus signifies even greater bias to take any different tact. And science usually makes dramatic moves forward upon moving away from consensus, by an increasing number of supporters for those who went against earlier consensus, and overlooked the situation from a different perspective anew.

        Einstein himself, who fought consensus for years to bring about acceptance for his now fully accepted theories is also well known for saying that “A problem cannot be solved on the same level on which it was created”.

        And also known for saying that “There are two things that are unlimited, the universe, and human stupidity. And I am not sure about the universe”

        Will HIV aids theory eventually be looked at as massive human stupidity? For an increasing number of individuals, nearly all of whom formerly agreed with HIV theory and later changed their minds, it already is.

        But back to the 1993 studies…. How could we expect those who themselves were, at that time, unintentionally helping create massive paranoia of death by hiv, and thereby intensely feeding into the stress created, to solve the problem that they were perhaps fueling? And according to their own admissions, they not only fueled the stress, but via the well acknowledged mistake of high dose azt, fueled the chemical death toll via promoting high dosage AZT, which all researchers today admit was an error.

        An error indeed. Here in the US, there are 5 times as many dead who took high dose AZT as were killed in the vietnam war.

        So it seems, as I had suspected, that you are indeed basing your current belief about HIV on 16 year old information, and on what is today easily shown to be connected to AZT and the mass terror of panic and stress suffered by those who were diagnosed in the very year of the highest death toll. Your 16 year old opinion that you naturally formed a very long time ago, is clearly no longer valid. Or do you disagree?

        So what was it all? Groupthink as you point out that the earliest skeptic pointed to, via self fulfilling prophecies by both patients and clinicians, and those who wrote studies at that time, while fully ignoring what they themselves were contributing to in the way of panicked terror stricken patients suffering extreme chronic stress and rushing to take drugs such as AZT? Or was it HIV doing all of this?

        I suggest that the 1993 study was nothing more than a sign of the inherent bias and unfortunate blindness to the big picture of all involved in those very emotionally charged times.

        But, surely, all were doing the best they could with what they had and what they individually believed back then. No conspiracy. Just another seeming moment of unfortunate human ignorance from error.

        But has anything substantially changed? Yes, more and more are stepping back from the beliefs of the 80’s and 90’s. And I have no doubt in my own mind that this will all soon shift. Reading Seth Kalichman’s latest blog post portrays a paradigm that has already shifted.

        How many peer reviewed studies would be needed to bring about a quicker change? How long would such a change in public perception take? How many consensus driven unwittingly biased human minds would need to rethink the issue before the pendulum swung in a new direction?

        And I hope you will stop already with the many mentions of how there is insufficient peer reviewed evidence to reach a different conclusion. This has to do with you, not anyone else. This is the bar you have currently set for yourself, with no mention of just how many other studies you would need to “rethink” the issue yourself, and has no bearing on even a single other individual on the planet. Many skeptics needed only one refutation. Some would not change their mind if there were 100 million refutations or new studies. Surely many will yet go to their graves claiming it is all about HIV, no matter how many peer reviews show the opposite.

        The only question for you, is where will you set your own bar before scratching your head and saying, “Maybe I need to look at this again”.

        Michael

        May 8, 2009 at 2:15 am

  17. Richard,

    Do the simple math. 15,000 hiv positive deaths per year out of ONE MILLION PEOPLE. What would be the average lifespan in hiv negatives? About 70 years.

    15,000 deaths per year in American HIV positives, multiplied by) the average human lifespan of 70 years, 15,000 X 70 exactly equals, TaDaaaah: One Million and 50,000, or 1,050,000 people.

    Strangely enough, about the exact number that the CDC says are hiv positive here in the states, just over one million.

    So, just where is the massive immune damage resulting in unaccepatably high death???

    Particularly as the group of hiv positives who are primarily gays who often are not all that fond of growing into old lonely gay men with no families or children to begin with! And many of these gays readily admit that they would prefer to die at a younger age than to face their old age alone. Maybe they are just getting their wish!

    Michael

    May 7, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    • So now you’re not disputing that HIV/AIDS causes premature death, but rather just insisting that many of those getting AIDS wouldn’t want to live into old age anyway?!

      Richard Wilson

      May 7, 2009 at 10:00 pm

      • I think all aspects should be explored, for those who are able to fearlessly ponder reality and ultimate causality. So I wouldn’t rule it out. I would not rule out that we humans are the source and creators of our experience via our programmed beliefs and thoughts and desires. Though I certainly have my opinions and beliefs, they are just that. My own Opinions and Beliefs. So I wouldn’t rule anything out. Would you?

        Such things would undoubtedly affect the choices we would make, both consciously and subconsciously.

        Michael

        May 8, 2009 at 2:30 am

  18. Another fascinating tidbit, to me at least;

    I live in San Diego, and have for 30 years. San Diego has a gay population of more than 150,000 gays.

    I have followed this issue closely since June 5th, 1981, the day it began. The very first mention of 5 sick gay men happened in Los Angeles and was in our papers on June 5th, 1981, and is just 120 miles away. Ground ZERO, so to speak, just up the coast. San Diegan gays have always and often frequented the gay life in nearby LA and West Hollywood. Particularly in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Fast track life was jumping.

    Yet, here in San Diego, with its large gay community, has seen a total of just over 5,000 deaths that our local health authorities attribute to aids. More than 2/3 of this death occurred during the very same 1987 to 1995 period of mass terror and azt.

    For the last 5 years, here in San Diego’s gay community, common STD’s have skyrocketed 800% according to our health authorities, but strangely, new HIV infection rates have steadily decreased.

    How could this be if hiv is sexually transmitted. Why would hiv infection rates not rise just like every other std has done?

    My own suspicion is that it is simply due to the very large and very vocal dissident community here in San Diego. We are the only gay community that has had a large number of regular articles and full page dissident informational ads in our gay media and weekly gay papers that our gay community has uniquely been exposed to, unlike nearly all other gay communities in the US. The San Diego gay community is vastly more educated about the issue. And it is a minority of San Diego gays who at this point pay any attention to orthodoxy hiv beliefs at all.

    Only a handful of deaths or illnesses attributed to hiv per any recent year, few (except in the local black community) even taking the hiv tests, few gay hiv positives taking the meds, and exceptionally low and every year lower rates of hiv being any issue whatsoever in our large gay community, which, as I said, is just down the road from ground zero where it all began on June 5th 1981.

    Michael

    May 7, 2009 at 8:27 pm

  19. Michael – my point about science, and consensus, is really this: Clearly no system is infallible, but modern science does seem to have a better track record than any other human system of knowledge and truth-seeking yet devised. Part of being a sceptic/skeptic is intellectual humility – recognising where one’s own expertise is lacking. It’s my view that science is now so specialised in many areas – AIDS science being one example – that it has essentially developed a “sub-language” of its own which makes it broadly inaccessible to outsiders who are not fluent in that sub-language.

    I believe that without becoming fluent in the sub-language of a particular area of science by doing (at least) a PhD in a relevant subject, I am simply not qualified to challenge the settled scientific consensus on AIDS or any other issue. The metaphor I’ve used elsewhere (and possibly also in this very thread, so apologies for the repetition if this is the case) is that challenging the consensus on such an issue in the absence of specialist training is kind of like trying to dispute the finer points of Japanese grammar with a roomful of linguists from Okinawa.

    If you want to suggest, as a scientific proposition, that the Schechter study missed something important (be that about AZT, stress or some other causal element) and therefore came to an erroneous conclusion about AIDS/HIV epidemiology, then this is something that would need to be assessed, through a scientific process, by a scientifically qualified group of experts, and that assessment would then need to be peer-reviewed.

    In the absence of such a process, in my view the Schechter study and its conclusions stand as sound science. If I’m being asked to choose between the peer-reviewed conclusions of a group of acknowledged experts, and a non-peer-reviewed counter-interpretation of those conclusions, then it seems to me that if we accept that the scientific process is broadly the most reliable system we have, then the rational choice for a lay-person in that instance would be to go with the acknowledged experts.

    As I’ve said before, in my view what this debate is really about is actually the reliability, or otherwise, of the scientific process. You make an interesting point about the history of science, and the very real possibility that the scientific consensus can sometimes be wrong. But again, that is a meta-scientific claim – something that relates to the whole of science rather than simply the case of HIV and AIDS. You seem to be suggesting that the consensus has often been wrong and that, in practice, progress occurs in science not through consensus but through new discoveries which turn the consensus on its head. If so then I think you’re putting forward broadly the position outlined in the 1970s by the philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn. But Kuhn’s view of science, and the way it works, is itself open to challenge and debate. To the best of my knowledge Kuhn’s view has not been accepted by philosophers (or scientists) as an established fact – and the consensus at the moment appears to lean more towards a very different perspective known as “Bayesianism”.

    Richard Wilson

    May 8, 2009 at 5:28 pm

  20. Richard, about the Schechter study, you said:

    my view the Schechter study and its conclusions stand as sound science.

    the study says: “715 homosexual men followed for a median of 8.6 years, all 136 AIDS cases occurred in the 365 individuals with pre-existing HIV-1 antibody. Most men negative for HIV-1 antibody reported risk behaviours but none developed any AIDS illnesses. CD4 counts fell in anti-HIV-1-positive men but remained stable in antibody-negative men, whether or not risk behaviours were present. The hypothesis that AIDS in homosexual men is caused not by HIV-1 infection but by drugs and sexual activity is rejected by these data. HIV-1 has an integral role in the pathogenesis of AIDS”.

    So, holddddd on here a moment Richard. were the 365 hiv positive men in this study put into a state of chronic fight or flight response?

    Were any or all of these same 365 men also put onto azt, as it was the only drug at the time?

    Did the study look at any factors such as duration and frequency of illicit drug abuse in those who suffered aids defining illnesses and those who did not abuse drugs?

    Do you disagree that those diagnosed as HIV positive were at that time put into severe emotional distress which is overwhelmingly agreed upon to be a major cause of immune suppression?

    Did the study reliably fulfill its final conclusion of “HIV-1 has an integral role in the pathogenesis of aids” by avoiding the above mentioned well verified factors that are even more correlated to illness and disease and immune suppression in hiv positives than hiv itself?

    Or was the study itself an exercise in bias?

    Even for a layman with absolutely no background at all in science, this is fairly simple stuff: chronic stress, drug abuse, toxic chemotherapies, and the conclusion of the study above which ignored these more than obvious factors.

    These issues are not rocket science, Richard, and we are not in Okinawa studying Japanese.

    Layman or not, Could you please explain to me why the study is to be relied upon as “sound science” as you called it, and why it should be relied upon instead of picked apart and exposed as biased and fundamentally flawed?

    You say that if the study ignored factors than this should be reassessed by scientists.

    Did the study in your opinion ignore any basic human health factors such as drug abuse, chronic stress, azt or any other toxic treatments?

    If so, then why did the scientific community not yet reassess it even after 16 long years?

    And why, if you or any other simple layman, can clearly see the study ignored a number of vitally important factors, then why would it be “the rational choice”, as you called it, to go along with these experts whose work has not been reviewed for 16 years? You did write: “the rational choice for a lay-person in that instance would be to go with the acknowledged experts”.

    Why would it be rational, Richard, as such unscientific rationalizing seems to me to be no more than sincerely biased and likely irrational?

    And that would bring us back to the central issue for any skeptic, and a question that has been often asked of you: Are you, and are your own present and former conclusions, Richard Wilson, still biased as to the issue of HIV being the cause of AIDS?

    Michael

    May 8, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    • You’re right, Michael – it isn’t rocket science, but it is AIDS science, and
      I’m sorry to say this but I think that you may just be underestimating
      complexities involved with this subject, and the resultant difficulty of
      engaging with it outside of a formal academic framework, and that you are
      then coming to erroneous conclusions as a result.

      I agree with you that there’s a really important question around why the
      scientific community has not reviewed (and overturned) studies like the
      Schechter one. There are a number of possible explanations. One explanation
      might be that the scientific community has become corrupted by vested
      interests, or a climate of fear, or by a kind of large-scale “groupthink”
      delusion, or by a combination of such factors. Another explanation might be
      that the original study was in fact sound, and that its conclusions have
      since been confirmed by other pieces of research. I get the impression that
      you would lean more towards the first explanation than the second. But as I
      said before, if you want people to believe that the scientific community has
      become corrupted to such a profound degree, then I think that you need to
      provide evidence for that view.

      I should say that my views on this are not really specific to HIV and AIDS
      at all. I’d apply the same principle to the link between smoking and cancer,
      C02 and climate change, creationism vs evolution, asbestos and mesothelioma:
      the consensus view among the acknowledged experts is by no means infallible,
      but in the absence of expert knowledge of our own (and of evidence that the
      scientific community has been corrupted) it is broadly the most reliable
      indicator we have for deciding which scientific theories to take seriously
      and which to reject.

      Richard Wilson

      May 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm

  21. Richard,

    I take it that you don’t get out much, or perhaps do not keep up with current events.

    Let’s see. You presented a study from 1993. How about a book from 1992?

    Scientific fraud and the power structure of science, Brian Martin, Published in Prometheus, Vol. 10, No. 1, June 1992

    But lets get more recent…

    Ever heard the name Marcia Angell, editor for 20 years of the New England Journal of Medicine, who recently wrote the book, “The Truth About the Drug Companies”?

    Did you hear about the 530 top scientists and directors of Labs at the National Institute of Health in 2005 who were all found to be taking undeclared stock and cash from 10 drug companies? It was reported on by Pulitzer prize winning journalist, David Wilman of the LA Times.

    Or how about any of these:

    U.S. Scientists’ Deals With Drug Firms Under Review
    National December 29, 2003

    Panel Wants Top Health Officials Off Drug Payrolls
    Los Angeles Times | May 7, 2004

    David Willman, Waxman Queries NIH on Research Ties. Los Angeles Times, December 9, 1998

    Andrew Stark. Conflict of Interest in American Public Life. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2000

    Editorial. Double Dipping at NIH. Washington Post. July 5, 2004

    Eliot Marshall. Zerhouni Pledges Review of NIH Consulting in Wake of Allegations. Science302:2046
    (December 19, 2003)

    David Wilman. Case Study: Ronald N. Germain, A Federal Lab Leader Who Made $1.4 million on the Side.
    Los Angeles Times, Dec. 7, 2003

    Special Investigations Division. Committee on Government Reform—Minority Staff. Politics and Science in
    the Bush Administration (prepared for Henry A. Waxman) November 13, 2003

    Michael Scherer. The side effects of truth. Mother Jones, May 2005

    Andrew Revkin. Bush aid edited climate reports. New York Times, June 8, 2005

    Sarah Lueckand Anna Wilde Mathews. Former FDA head held shares in regulated firms as late as ’04.
    Wall Street JournalOctober 26, 2005

    The aftermath of fraud. Doug Payne. The Scientist. 2005-03-28

    Researcher admits fraud in grant data. Carey Goldberg and Scott Allen. The Boston Globe. 2005-03-18

    You say I need to provide evidence for the view that the scientific community is corrupted. Is that sufficient, or do we need more? You do realize I could go on with this list of corruption in science ad nauseum, don’t you?

    And Richard, I do realize I am putting you on the spot, but could you answer the question I asked?

    Watching your reactions to such questions as this that call upon you to either step up or fall back presents a quite fascinating expose of human psychology in action. One could hypothesize or be drawn to conclusions of many various things by analyzing your responses. The responses that you leave here for eternity tell us readers a great deal about you, ie;, your level of awareness, your confidence in your own beliefs, your courage, your ability to adapt, your ability to assess new information, your ability to rationalize, your possible bias or lack of bias on this issue, your ego, and how much you are controlled by it, your self control or lack of such, your capacity for humility, your perceptions of reality, and much, much more! I myself find all communications, such as the one we are now having, to be a very fascinating view of my fellow humanity that helps me make even more rational decisions for myself, and helps me to decide whether or not someone else that I am communicating with is more likely to be currently rational, or irrational.

    And no doubt you and all who may ever read our words, will find themselves making the same judgements about my communications to you.

    But that is all beside the current issue of discourse, Richard. To put you on the hotseat again,

    Would you mind answering the question, Have you been, and are you presently biased as to the issue of HIV being the cause of AIDS? And would you have the courage or integrity to admit it if you knew that you were?

    Michael

    May 9, 2009 at 7:36 am

    • Michael, I’m again sensing some hostility from you here…. But those
      references are exactly the sort of thing I was asking about. That reading list seems interesting. I will look into it.

      One thing that strikes me, though, is that you seem very keen to employ a particular interpretation of psychology in your arguments. But psychology itself is a scientific field, subject to all the same kinds of processes (peer review, journal publication, tenure etc.) which you seem to be suggesting have become so corrupted in other areas. If you believe that microbiology and virology are producing unreliable theories and data, what makes you so confident about the reliability of the psychological concepts you seek to apply?

      Richard Wilson

      May 9, 2009 at 8:03 am

    • ps – on the bias question – given the nature of bias, the most honest answer is – possibly, of course, but if so not consciously! Like most people I strive to minimise my own bias but doubtless often fall short. What I would say is that I think that one of the key virtues of science is its systemic approach to checking and counter-acting individual bias through, for example, the peer review system.

      Richard Wilson

      May 9, 2009 at 8:37 am

  22. PPS – I’m going to be away for a few days so in the meantime here’s a musical interlude: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yCX6HwpOAE. Probably works best if you loop it…

    Richard Wilson

    May 9, 2009 at 9:02 am

  23. Richard, you asked: “what makes you so confident about the reliability of the psychological concepts you seek to apply”?

    But then, you pointed out the reason for the need to include psychology, in your PS of: “on the bias question – given the nature of bias, the most honest answer is – possibly, of course, but if so not consciously!”

    So, here we go, off for a look at consciousness and subconcious. But before we do, a question to ponder….

    Have you gone mad, Richard, in seeking to have such a conversation with someone who has no more than a high school education?

    Perhaps, perhaps not. You commented that you so far have evidence that I am rational, articulate, and perhaps even intelligent. No doubt you are aware, that even 8 years of medical school does not make one a healer, it simply doles out information believed to be valid and commonly accepted descriptions of anatomy, biology, and chemistry, and allows one to put an MD after their name and “practice” the art of medicine.

    Further, some of those who have been among the wealthiest or most successful businessmen, inventors, and discoverers, have often had their thoughts hampered by no more than a handful of years of formal education, but seemed to simply have an inborn ability for their accomplishments. All this could lead one to possibly consider that public education may often simply be over-rated. What likely matters most is inate ability, level of awareness, and other again likely intangible unmeasureable factors. So no answers, only more questions and mysteries to solve.

    But back to your Great Question regarding psychological concepts and what gives me myself confidence in their inclusion in determining probabilities of higher truths.

    I will do my best….

    If you re-read what I said above, you will note that the very first thing that I mentioned that your own or anyone elses communications can denote, was: “Your level of awareness”, which has nothing to do with psychology, and which for me myself is of prime importance, because it denotes ability to look at an issue from a larger perspective, or taking in a fuller more encompassing, and more inclusive view of all factors pertaining to any perception of anything…. Of having analyzed and looked deeply and more fully at this human experience we call life and reality, and included the maximum likely possibilities for the most likely to be influential of many variables that have historically been shown to influence reliability of human beings, including individual scientists and their perceptions and observations regarding the interpretations of the symbologies of their data.

    Certainly a larger perspective would also include psychological concepts and would look carefully at human motivations, limitations, bias, fears, patterns, programmed beliefs, integrity, courage, desire, imaginations, and many other aspects of human nature, to determine what one is beholding and how much reliability could be placed on it.

    Hence, you do have such as Caspar Schmidt’s fascinating view of human nature at the psychological/physical nexus in his description of the AIDS issue very early on.

    And very little disputation of his findings, other than the non-descriptive declarative supposition of “But he died of AIDS”, whatever that may mean. And interestingly enough, he himself had forecast that all would be villified and attacked who took the position he took, that aids was not viral in origin, but psychological, by those who held to the common belief that he disputed, if not refuted. So it becomes rather fascinating that he himself was then diagnosed as aids, and was said to have died of “complications of aids”, whatever that meant. (And note, is this yet more evidence for self manifestation that one’s own self and ones own beliefs are the source and creator of ones experience that he described? After all, he himself believed he would be attacked somehow for taking such a position against consensus beliefs. He even admitted that in describing the aids phenomena, he had inadvertently described himself. So perhaps it is further verification of self manifestation.)

    In his work, Schmidt indeed stepped back and looked at what he perceived as a fuller view of human behaviors and events, and described what still seems to be a valid interpretation from such a perspective that included a vast amount of past human events, behaviors, psychology and trends. A search for causality in another field of study. Does this mean that he saw the entire picture correctly, or even possibly more correctly than others had? Of course not, but his perspective can enrich our own, and can point to possibilities and probabilities that we may be wise to consider in determining any veracity or integrity of what we call consensus agreed “scientific conclusions” and beliefs. After all, the “greatest scientific minds” of the time, were employed in determining who was a witch and should or should not be burned at the stake. Although human knowledge has increased exponentially since that time, human behavior, and how our minds work, has perhaps evolved further but little. Increased knowledge simply increases choices and likelihoods of being more correct before applying our human behaviors to any purpose.

    Is Psych fallible? Of course! And it is subject to the level of awareness of rationalization. Rationalization is not knowing, it is seeing data and assigning that data symbology. The symbology assigned to the data. Rationalization can be highly flawed in the assignation of symbology to data, particularly when looking at causality, as in A happened to B which caused C. But there can be many other ABC’s that one did not include before assigning symbology. And few scientists, very few indeed, have such insight. They are but human after all, and will usually simply rationalize. Rationalization is not realization, though it can be indistinguishable to one who is doing such, as we humans also have an amazing thing we call “imagination”, and what we have simply imagined is so, is often incorrect.

    Can many highly educated people imagine something and all believe it to be true? Of course. Ancient to current history is filled with such instances.

    Hence, the need to never close the case on any issue or human belief.

    Which brings us back to Socrates, and his statement of “seek the company of those who seek the truth, and run from those who claim they have found it”

    Any human rationalization combined with our very human ability to imagine, is assuredly often fallible. We humans can indeed rationalize nearly anything. Look at the current subject of torture or the great debate of evolution/creation/intelligent creation, or the issue of arms of mass destruction.

    Therein, clear recognition of human nature is probably crucial, or at least helpful, to any determinations of likelihood of encountering higher truths. The more of the overall picture we can see, the more our knowledge base to work from, the more likely our perception would therefore be truthful. At least from the level of awareness that we are currently looking at it from. And this too, is subject to change upon encountering yet more knowledge and awareness.

    As much of science is describing the unobservable, we find ourselves feeling around in the dark, not unlike blind men feeling out different parts of an elephant, and attempting to individually describe what an elephant is to each other, with lots of room for mistaken impressions and imagination to affect their individual viewpoints.

    To me, this seems to be what we encounter in HIV theory. The current documentary by Brent Leung, house of numbers, shows so clearly so many competing blind men all describing the elephant completely differently from each other. So all this evolves and it is crucial to stay open to new interpretations.

    Psychological concepts, are a study of some of those intangibles that make us human. at least upper shelf psychologists, though most surely are not upper shelf, as studying something in a book does not mean that one has grasped it’s nuances, nor does it mean that the student of psychology himself has a higher level of awareness even of his own self, and his own propensities, integrity or lack thereof, motivations, etc.

    Therefore, upon finding those who have a fuller human education and more enriched ability to look at the biggest picture, one would more likely be describing a higher truth than others who have not done so.

    This is the reason we look to “scientists” to give us answers, but seldom do we think to include a review of any given scientist’s integrity or rationality or level of awareness of the bigger picture who has looked at a more overall view of what may be influencing his/her own lines of study, before determining the possible level of truth of their works.

    Such greater considerations of the big picture surely are of importance, as otherwise, one is often led down a primrose path by following anything that some scientist with little awareness, or even some wise guy 12th grade educated know-it-all has said, with no regard as to that individual’s ability or inability to properly perceive a fuller and therefore truer view of what reality actually is.

    What say you, Richard? Is there room in this world for considering Casper Schmidts and others more encompassing viewpoints? Or do we recommend the masses to simply follow authority without considerations of the psychological integrity of those authorities, to determine what truth is, or is not?

    Michael

    May 9, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    • Hi Michael – my point was really that it seems a bit inconsistent to embrace one big area of science – psychology – whilst simultaneously maintaining that a whole other area – virology and epidemiology – has been completely corrupted and therefore can’t be trusted. If the application of the scientific method has broken down so badly in the case of virology and epidemiology, then how can we have much confidence in the validity of any area of the discipline?

      This isn’t to say that it’s logically impossible to maintain such a position – but to make it work I think you need some account of what it is about psychology that would have made it relatively immune to the corrupting influences that you believe have so badly undermined HIV/AIDS science.

      I think the position would also be more compelling if there was a consensus view among psychologists that groupthink/mass hysteria has indeed taken hold with regard to HIV/AIDS – but so far as I can see the views expressed by Caspar Schmidt have not convinced very many established psychologists. I could be wrong but I would surprised (but also interested of course) if the majority of psychologists had serious doubts about the link between AIDS and HIV.

      Richard Wilson

      June 13, 2009 at 5:42 am

  24. Ahemmm……

    ???

    Michael

    May 20, 2009 at 6:30 pm


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