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Harvard symposium explores HIV “denial” October 22, 2009

Posted by angryscientist in Bad Science, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Corner.

Harvard conducted a symposium Monday on what the AIDS establishment calls HIV denialism. This is a slight improvement from AIDS denialism, since nobody being called an AIDS denialist actually denied the phenomenon of immune system collapse, only that it was caused by HIV. However, the unbridled hubris of AIDS experts was on full display.

Death by denial
Symposium explores HIV denial, conspiracy theories

People who deny that the HIV virus causes AIDS continue to persist in their beliefs despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, nurtured by the broad reach of the Internet and cherry-picked scientific claims, AIDS authorities said Monday (Oct. 19).

These experts need to look in the mirror. They are as guilty of cherry-picking evidence as any scientist corrupted by money. Where is this overwhelming evidence that HIV causes AIDS? There is plenty of evidence that it doesn’t, but of course, that’s cherry-picked out of consideration, out of sight, out of mind.

Researchers from Harvard, elsewhere in the United States, and South Africa convened at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts to decry HIV “denialism,” saying that the continued questioning of HIV’s role in AIDS harms those infected with the virus by discouraging both testing and treatment.

Both the testing and treatment are utterly fraudulent, so it isn’t the questioning that harms people afflicted with AIDS.

Laura Bogart, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston, introduced the event, saying that denialism also includes odd beliefs, such as that drugs for HIV treatment actually cause AIDS. Denialism, she said, is gaining momentum because of the reach that its proponents have on the Internet, and it may have greater traction in communities that already mistrust the government because of past discrimination, revelations of secret medical experiments, and the like.

The symposium examined how denialism affects prevention and treatment, public policy, and human rights.

“Bad ideas have bad consequences,” Bogart said.

She’s got that right. The idea that HIV causes AIDS has terrible consequences. What’s so odd about the contention that HIV drugs cause AIDS? They sure as hell can cause the symptoms of AIDS, including death. Is Bogart trying to say HIV skeptics have greater reach on the web than the AIDS establishment? Who is she trying to kid?

Seth Kalichman, professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, said denialist beliefs are surprisingly widespread. He said most people’s attitude when hearing of HIV denial is, “Oh, those people are still around?” In the uncertain early years of the AIDS epidemic, Kalichman said, denialists were dissidents from the prevailing but still uncertain scientific views. As the body of evidence about the nature of HIV and AIDS grew, dissent turned into denial, wrapped in conspiracy theories. Now, Kalichman lumps HIV denialists with those who deny the Holocaust and global warming, and who believe 9/11 conspiracy theories. All use similar strategies, he said, including false experts, bad science, and selective use of valid scientific results.

This guy has his nerve. There is plenty of good evidence to demonstrate the flaws in the HIV=AIDS theory, unlike any of his other examples. To lump these groups together is beyond insulting, it borders on slander. There is some reasonable doubt as to the theories explaining global warming and 9/11, but the Holocaust? Can this guy be serious, or is his smug blind faith so all-consuming he can’t see how farfetched his analogy is? The AIDS establishment is absolutely chock full of false experts, bad science, and selective use of valid scientific results. Look in the mirror, Mr. Alleged Scientist. How about Dr. Robert Gallo, for instance, who rewrote the paper that launched the whole HIV=AIDS theory so extensively, his revisions came to conclusions completely unjustified by the actual study done by his assistant, Dr. Popovic? Gary Null has posted a PDF of Gallo’s scribbles and crossouts on the original paper. The first sentence of the first paragraph on page 4 says it all.

Despite intensive research efforts, the causative agent of AIDS has not yet been identified.

Gallo crossed that sentence out. Gee I wonder why.

Kalichman cited a 2007 report on 696 gay men in five U.S. cities that showed a surprisingly high acceptance of denialist beliefs. Forty-five percent, he said, agreed with the statement “HIV does not cause AIDS,” and 51 percent agreed with the statement “HIV drugs can harm you more than help you,” remarking that it would be troubling if even half those numbers believed such statements.

Kalichman said research shows that the Internet is a critical source of denialist information, and that people who hold denialist beliefs are more likely to have symptoms, less likely to adhere to drug regimens, and less likely to take treatment medication in the first place.

What’s troubling is that anyone believes the AIDS establishment. If Kalichman’s theory about who doubts conventional wisdom is accurate, he shouldn’t worry, as those skeptics will be dying off in a hurry, right? Oddly, it appears that those who avoid recommended treatment are far more likely to survive, since taking those drugs long-term is another case of a cure which never cures anybody, but does a great job of exacerbating the disease.

Denialism may have done its most damage in South Africa during the tenure of President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki, who endorsed denialist beliefs, delayed the beginning of large-scale AIDS drug treatment, which allowed the pandemic to grow unchecked.

Recent research showed how damaging denialist beliefs can be, concluding that Mbeki’s failure to roll out HIV drugs between 2000 and 2005 resulted in 330,000 unnecessary deaths and the infection of 3,500 infants with HIV.

Interesting how this result is blithely stated as fact. How many unnecessary deaths have been caused by HIV treatments, or by refusing to treat the actual diseases that resulted in deaths blamed on HIV? Thabo Mbeki had great courage to defy the AIDS establishment. Unfortunately sub-Saharan Africa is still afflicted with widespread poverty, malnutrition, infectious water, parasitic infections, tropical diseases, and tuberculosis, all of which can be deadly, particularly for people in poor health to begin with. This can account for most, if not all, of those allegedly unnecessary deaths. Yet the population is increasing in spite of all that, the great AIDS pandemic notwithstanding.

Something’s terribly wrong with this picture. All this money going to fight HIV is wasted, while relatively small sums could alleviate all those actual problems killing impoverished Africans in droves. However, since capitalism as we know it wouldn’t recognize the value of cleaning up the water and treating the actual diseases, the big money goes to researching HIV drugs and vaccines, while producing those drugs makes the manufacturers fortunes. Same old crap masquerading as science, though denouncing the critics as equivalent to Holocaust deniers is really going too far. I’m used to the ironic foolishness of denouncing concerned scientists such as myself as Luddites, or anti-progress, or uninformed environmentalist wackos, but really, how dare he make that comparison. This symposium stopped just short of calling HIV skeptics murderers. No, they’re trying to save the lives of those dying from the bad science passing as HIV treatment! That might sound like I’m calling doctors murderers, but I know they believe they’re trying to save lives, though it seems to me their efforts are consistently backfiring. Does Kalichman really think all the scientists questioning the AIDS establishment are that deluded, or false experts engaged in bad science and cherry-picking data? In the echo chamber of conventional wisdom, he can get away with that staggering leap of illogic. I say again, look in the mirror.