Posts Tagged ‘Matthias Rath’
Whereas Goldacre looked at the dangers of nonsense more from a personal and UK point of view, Wilson takes on a more global and political perspective. He tells us how whole areas of Russian science were hijacked by fake experts during the Soviet era who were more adept at playing political games than honestly seeking truth. Lysenko was the master at this as he held back Russian and Chinese biology and agriculture for decades as ideology became more important than evidence. The consequences of this were the death of millions through starvation.
In “Don’t Get Fooled Again” I highlight the case of Matthias Rath, the German vitamin salesman who has urged HIV sufferers, most notoriously in South Africa, to stop taking real medicines and use ‘nutritional supplements’ instead. Rath has faced increasing international criticism for his activities, including from the Guardian’s Ben Goldacre, who ran a series of articles discussing Rath’s extraordinary claims. In response, Rath launched a libel suit – but this has now backfired disastrously. The evidence against Rath is so clear that he had no real chance of success, even under the UK’s notoriously plaintiff-friendly libel laws. Yesterday it was announced that he had abandoned the suit, with costs awarded of at least £200,000.
Today’s Guardian gives wall-to-wall coverage to Rath and his nefarious activities, with a damning video which discusses several cases of people who have died after being taken in by his bogus claims.
Few modern conspiracy theories seem as lurid and distasteful than the claim that AIDS is an invention of the ‘medical-industrial complex’, and that the symptoms associated with the disease are actually caused by the drugs used to treat HIV-positive patients. The “Aidstruth” website gives a long list of people with HIV who have been taken in by such ideas and have died as a result. More tragically still, the influence of such ideas over government health policy in South Africa is believed to have cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
The story of AIDS-denial in South Africa is a curious mix of cynical opportunism, politics and paranoia. Western cranks whose bogus ideas are sidelined and discredited in their home countries will often seek out poorer and less stable countries where social divisions can be more easily exploited. The Mbeki government’s dalliance with denialism has drawn all manner of such ‘crackpot colonialists’ to South Africa - none stranger than the German vitamin salesman Matthias Rath.
Rath claims that:
“Hundreds of millions of people have died unnecessarily from AIDS, cancer, heart disease and other preventable diseases and the only reason that these epidemics are still haunting mankind is that they are the multibillion-dollar marketplace for the pharmaceutical drug cartel.”
Rath has run newspaper adverts denouncing the “pharmaceutical drug cartel” and urging HIV sufferers to take vitamin pills instead of AIDS drugs.