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Whoopi Goldberg heralds Worlds AIDS Day of behalf of orphans

November 30th, 2005

The BBC pandering again, Alas

Whoopi Goldberg weighed in today with the full force of her glamor on the BBC to push AIDS Day (tomorrow, Thurs Dec 1) and the urgent need for a cure for a plague which, she tells the BBC World News, has left 15 million children orphaned. It shouldn’t be overshadowed by bird flu, she points out, when children are the ones which are suffering.

As we have noted before, the BBC seems to be neglecting its mandate to serve the public with unbiased news by reporting AIDS and other global medical alarms without ever quoting skeptics for balance. Once above marketing considerations, the public, license-funded corporation is now obsessed with audience numbers and has hardly any public affairs programs at all. How are the mighty fallen! American viewers. if unaware of this comedown from its majestic past, presumably view it as independent and responsible, even a cut above the once regal PBS which has now taken to running commercials for its sponsors.

Alas the truth is much different. The BBC has become a purveyor of biased information of the most sensationally simplistic sort, at least in AIDS. It informs viewers about AIDS at this BBC page on AIDS news”, which is chock full of the standard beliefs and claims without the slightest hint that the whole ideology has been ill founded for 19 years, according to the scientific review literature, peer reviewed and in the highest level journals.

Supporters of dissent in AIDS viewing this page with a jaundiced eye shouldn’t get excited at the big headline, “AIDS Debate”. This is not a reference to the scientific debate about whether HIV has any support in reason or evidence for being taken as the cause of the 33 AIDS symptoms, rather than their conventional causes.

The headline in fact refers to this news story Tough challenges remain in Aids fight by Karen Allen

BBC Health correspondent

Global funding for HIV/Aids has tripled in the past four years from a little over US$2bn to $6bn.

Yet it still falls far short of the $20bn UNAids estimates will be needed by 2007, just to stop the epidemic getting worse.

With more money now in the system, divisions are emerging about how it should best be spent.

The Bush administration in the US has committed $15 billion to fight HIV/Aids. It’s an impressive sum.

Tough challenges remain in Aids fight

By Karen Allen

BBC Health correspondent

By the time World Aids day has run its course an estimated 14,000 more people in the world will have become infected with HIV.

Nearly 40 million people globally are living with the Aids virus and within two years, six million more are expected to die.

A volunteer receives a vaccine shot in Bangkok

Only a small percentage of Aids funding goes into vaccine research

The statistics make grim reading and with infections continuing to rise at an alarming rate, there is no room for complacency.

It is a dynamic picture and one of the biggest global challenges the international community has had to face.

Funding

Global funding for HIV/Aids has tripled in the past four years from a little over US$2bn to $6bn.

Yet it still falls far short of the $20bn UNAids estimates will be needed by 2007, just to stop the epidemic getting worse.

With more money now in the system, divisions are emerging about how it should best be spent.

The Bush administration in the US has committed $15 billion to fight HIV/Aids. It’s an impressive sum.

But it has come in for criticism from some aid agencies for pushing programmes that use brand name anti-retroviral drugs which are more expensive than their generic counterparts.

It has also been under fire for pursuing an agenda which gives priority to projects that promote sexual abstinence over condom use.

Finding a safe effective vaccine is the holy grail in HIV/Aids research.

Some commentators say this is irrelevant for women in parts of Africa, for whom the biggest risk is of getting HIV is having a partner who sleeps around.

But others argue that even money with strings attached is welcome at a time when the epidemic shows little sign of waning.

Anthony Fauci – the US government’s key advisor on HIV/Aids argued at the International Aids Conference in Bangkok that the logic behind the Bush programme was to maintain accountability and control over how US taxpayers’ money is spent.

Meanwhile UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ruffled feathers when he countered that the American unilateral approach was undermining the Global Fund – an international mechanism to raise cash for HIV/Aids work, which is struggling to meet its financial targets.

That dispute has not really been resolved but there is now a concerted international effort to co-ordinate Aids funding in a more orderly manner.

This is likely to be a key theme taken up by the British government when it assumes the presidency of the G8 and EU next year.

Drugs

The cost of a year’s anti-retroviral treatment has fallen from around £6,000 a year to £180, yet nine out of 10 people who need the medicines are still not getting these life-saving treatments.

Aids drugs

The price of anti-retroviral drugs has plummeted

The World Health Organisation has set an ambitious target of getting three million people onto the drugs by the end of 2005.

But there are real doubts whether this is achievable, given current funding levels. Aid agencies say that it is entirely possible to meet that deadline but what is needed is the political will to roll drugs out on a massive scale.

However, it is not simply about distributing pills.

Christian Aid is one of the charities warning that without proper investment to build hospitals and train staff, sustaining anti- retroviral treatment in the long term will be hard.

Anti-retrovirals need to be taken consistently and widespread failure to do this could lead to major drug resistance and a reduction in treatment options for infected patients.

Vaccines

Finding a safe effective vaccine is the holy grail in HIV/Aids research but is proving a difficult challenge and it is unlikely that we will see effective immunisations available before the end of the decade.

Aside from the scientific difficulties, there are also enormous financial challenges

There are currently some 30 different Aids vaccines undergoing trials.

These experiment with different approaches, aiming either to disable the Aids virus or prevent it from entering human cells and multiplying.

Aside from the scientific difficulties of HIV vaccine research, there are also enormous financial challenges.

IAVI, the International Aids Vaccine Initiative points out that only 1% of global research and development funding is being channelled into finding an Aids vaccine.

The G8 have promised to set up a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, a consortium to fast-track Aids vaccine research and pool information and cash.

The British government has already indicated that it intends to push Aids vaccine research up the political agenda, backing it up with a promise of more funding.

If indeed it does deliver, it could be a lasting legacy that finally turns the tide on an unrelenting epidemic.

amid a whole collection of unexceptional news items and other aspects of the AIDS non-debate, scientifically speaking, which are offered on the page.

Have Your Say Special

Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 15:45 GMT

Find out the facts, explore the issues and read about life with HIV in our BBC Aids special.

Overview

DEBATE IN: Arabic Persian Hindi Russian Spanish Portuguese Chinese

FEATURES

Anti-Aids drugs have transformed Bongani’s life Aids: A South African success story

Bongani’s health has been transformed since he began taking ARV’s.

IN PICTURES

Light bulbs of hope: A mother and daughter’s story

Interrupted lives: Don McCullin’s images

The time has come for our governments to press the panic button

Karthik Dinakar, Bangalore, India

Your views: How can the battle against Aids be won?

Sha Wang, suspected Aids sufferer Slow starter

China’s new openness to tackling Aids begins to pay off – for some

Woman farmer in Thyolo, Malawi HIV in Malawi

Cultural norms fuel the spread of the disease among women

Logo of the Rainbow House, a Haiti orphange for children whose parents have died of Aids Catching a rainbow

Orphans find a home at Haiti’s first refuge for children with Aids

MORE FEATURES

Tackling Iran’s growing drugs problem

A pilot scheme is helping drug addicts who would otherwise be “dead or in prison”.

LIVING WITH HIV

Amir Reza ‘One cannot expect a drastic change’

A man walks past a Chinese government-sponsored poster on HIV/Aids ‘Everybody seems to know I have HIV’

TALKING POINT

You asked Botswana’s president

Peter Piot, UNAids

WHO Aids Director

HIV/AIDS AROUND THE WORLD

MORE PERSONAL STORIES

YOU ASKED THE EXPERTS

‘Why we are failing African girls’

Girl-trafficking hampers Aids fight

New York’s ‘guinea pig’ kids

Mozambique faces HIV dilemma

Mally, S Africa: Staying upbeat

Bogdan, Romania: Teenage years

Niza, Mexico: Fears leaving son

Juan, USA: Loneliness of HIV

UK minister Hilary Benn

Aids activist Emma Thompson

HIV drugs: Our panel

Condoms and culture: Our panel

Shukria Gul, HIV positive counsellor Tackling taboos

Uphill struggle for open debate in Pakistan on Aids

The biology of Aids

Find out how HIV attacks the body and how drugs fight back

Condom quiz

What do you know about the sheath that saves lives?

YOUR PICTURES

HIV/AIDS SEASON

The ‘real face of Aids’: Final days in Florida

Fighting HIV in Trinidad and Tobago

A lone mother cares for her son in Vietnam

Kenya’s slum volunteers fight back

world service banner

The Interview: Kofi Annan

Outlook: India’s Aids hospital

Young people & HIV

The Nelson Mandela concert

The BBC Aids concert

Out of control

The impact of Aids in the worst-hit countries

Global disease

Maps, charts, facts and figures about the global spread of HIV

Aids frustrations

A global survey for the BBC reveals anger and confusion

For anyone who grew up with the Beeb as the disinterested authority in all matters concerning news and views, the epitome of starchy, unperturbable decency carried over the ether across the mountains and jungles of the world to outlying posts of the contracting British Empire, this is a sadly low station for the old lady to inhabit in her dotage.

Holbrooke tells Rose we need universal AIDS testing -but do we?

November 27th, 2005

To test or not to test, that is the question

The handsome man with the steady gaze of a rich and educated patrician on Rose on Tuesday night (Nov 22) was impressive, He sounded thoughtful and well briefed as he assured Rose that US soldiers were in greater danger now in Iraq than they were when he was fighting in Vietnam. “Obviously, knowing what we know now, the war should never have been attempted,” he said.

This was Richard Holbrooke, speaking with the authority of a former US Ambassador to the United Nations, and clearly a man who thinks through any issue he is interested in.

Until, that is, he reached the topic that seems to kill that critical impulse stone dead across the entire stratum of power and influence, even in those like Holbrooke in whom thoughtfulness is a habit, who are high in business and politics and take part in trying to find a solution to AIDS.

To be precise, just as we were wondering if he would make a good US president Holbrooke informed the earnestly sycophantic Charlie Rose that as President of the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, it was “almost a personal obsession now for me to promote AIDS testing. Since the virus doesn’t have any effect for seven years, 95% of the world who are positive don’t know they have it. We need more than an ABC of prevention, we need ABCT – abstinence, be faithful, condoms and testing,”

In other words, Holbrooke’s vision of the problem of AIDS follows the standard line all the way. So does Bill Clinton’s, of course, and so does economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia Earth Institute, both men who have played a strong part in opening the tap of international assistance in this cause. None of these politically sophisticated people, who can easily afford to ask their staff to look into the matter, have done so, it is clear. Scientists get a free pass, it appears, even when there have been complaints about their activities and questions raised about the validity of their science for two decades in an issue which has been on the front pages for the entire time.

In all Holbrooke says, there is not the slightest hint of any such doubt has ever existed in his mind. India now has most HIV positives, he says, and HIV is spreading to Russia. He is worried that with bird flu the priority, AIDS will take a back seat and run rampant. Evidently, he is as likely to lend an ear to the AIDS expose as George W. Bush.

Universal testing looms

In urging universal AIDS testing Holbrooke has fastened on one of the most twisted aspects of AIDS ideology, one where common sense is corrupted by politics which ignores mainstream research, let alone the review papers which reject HIV as the cause of anything.

For twenty years part of the schizophrenia of HIV=AIDS-think has been the banning of comprehensive AIDS testing as an invasion of privacy which may lead to prejudice and unfair treatment. At the same time, the result of a test is counted as the key to care and medication, and the failure to test is imagined to be the cause of the spread of AIDS by people who have no idea they are “HIV positive”.

The mental contortions needed to accomodate these inconsistent ideas are fairly demanding, but apparently not beyond the abilities of millions. Unless of course they don’t bother to think about it at all, which is more likely.

The scientific review literature of HIV?AIDS denies that a positive AIDS test has any significance for health whatsoever, of course, and even the mainstream paradigm literature has now repeatedly shown that heterosexual spread of AIDS is ruled out because the rate of transference of “HIV positivity” is too low, or even non existent.

This delicate balance of opposing ideas may collapse soon given the introduction of a home AIDS test some time in the next year. Such easy and rapid testing will confirm many new “HIV positives” throughout the nation and the world, without affecting the “spread” of AIDS in the slightest among heterosexuals. All it will do is foster all the distortions of social behavior that follow on acceptance of this doubtful paradigm, which ruins so many lives.

Perhaps the most egregious of these are the prosecutions for attempted murder that are being mounted lately especially in Canada against individuals who are HIV-positive and have sex with others without telling them.

Here are three from the last week:

Johnson Aziga is shown in this undated file handout photo.

CTV.ca News Staff

Updated: Tue. Nov. 15 2005 8:00 AM ET

An HIV-positive man from Hamilton, Ont. will stand trial on first degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of two women who were allegedly his sexual partners.

Johnson Aziga, 49, is accused of having unprotected sex with at least 13 women without disclosing his health status.

Ontario Court Judge Norman Bennett has ruled there’s enough evidence to make Aziga stand trial on murder charges. Aziga has been remanded in custody until a trial date is set on Dec. 16.

Aziga worked as a staff analyst with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1996.

The two women he is accused of killing were from Toronto. One died in December 2003, and the other died in May, 2004.

He is also accused of endangering the lives of 11 other women who were allegedly his sexual partners. Those women are alleged to be aggravated sexual assault victims since they say they didn’t know they were having unprotected sex with someone who was HIV-positive.

Legal experts say this court’s decision is unprecedented in Canada……

CTV.ca

HIV-positive man to stand trial on murder charges

Johnson Aziga is shown in this undated file handout photo.

CTV.ca News Staff

Updated: Tue. Nov. 15 2005 8:00 AM ET

An HIV-positive man from Hamilton, Ont. will stand trial on first degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of two women who were allegedly his sexual partners.

Johnson Aziga, 49, is accused of having unprotected sex with at least 13 women without disclosing his health status.

Ontario Court Judge Norman Bennett has ruled there’s enough evidence to make Aziga stand trial on murder charges. Aziga has been remanded in custody until a trial date is set on Dec. 16.

Aziga worked as a staff analyst with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1996.

The two women he is accused of killing were from Toronto. One died in December 2003, and the other died in May, 2004.

He is also accused of endangering the lives of 11 other women who were allegedly his sexual partners. Those women are alleged to be aggravated sexual assault victims since they say they didn’t know they were having unprotected sex with someone who was HIV-positive.

Legal experts say this court’s decision is unprecedented in Canada.

“It’s certainly the first case of its kind in Canada,” legal analyst Steven Skurka told Canada AM. “There have been a few cases of criminal negligence but none where the allegation was that a man used his body as a weapon to kill other women.”

Skurka adds that consent plays no part in this case, since the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that one does not consent to putting oneself at risk of HIV infection when one consents to sex.

“Let me explain it to you this way: If someone walked into a restaurant and ordered a meal, and the chef deliberately poisoned the meal, you could hardly say, ‘Well, you agreed to eat the food, didn’t you?’ It’s no different with the women in this case.”

Skurka admits that with the two key witnesses – the victims – deceased, prosecutors will have some difficulty proving their case.

“It’s going to be tremendously difficult. But there are three ways that it can be proven, in my view,” he says.

“First of all, there’s the pattern of conduct. Let’s remember there were two women here alleged to have been murdered — not just one — and there may be other cases that the prosecution will rely on. The second feature is what statements he’s given; has he given statements to other people about his conduct or to the police? And finally, what was his knowledge, what did he know about the transmission of the disease?”

The Hamilton case comes on the heels of a high-profile case involving a professional football player.

Trevis Smith is a linebacker with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. He is HIV-positive, and in October was charged with aggravated sexual assault in Surrey, British Columbia.

Smith was freed on $10,000 bail last week. He heads back to a Surrey court on Wednesday to enter a plea. His lawyer has said it will be not guilty.

© Copyright 2002-2006 Bell Globemedia Inc.

HIV-positive Ga. man sentenced on consensual sex charges

Judge rejects Fulton prosecutor’s request for 10 years in prison

By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN | Nov 22, 5:54 PM

A Fulton County judge on Tuesday rejected a prosecutor’s request to send an HIV-positive Georgia man to jail for 10 years for failing to disclose his infection before engaging in consensual sex in separate relationships with two men….

HIV-positive Ga. man sentenced on consensual sex charges

Judge rejects Fulton prosecutor’s request for 10 years in prison

By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN | Nov 22, 5:54 PM

A Fulton County judge on Tuesday rejected a prosecutor’s request to send an HIV-positive Georgia man to jail for 10 years for failing to disclose his infection before engaging in consensual sex in separate relationships with two men.

Instead, Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger sentenced Gary Wayne Carriker, to 10 years, with only two to serve in prison, followed by eight years of probation.

A Fulton County judge on Tuesday sentenced Gary Wayne Carriker to serve two years in prison for not disclosing that he is HIV-positive before engaging in sexual activity.

Carriker, 26, must also receive counseling and, during his first two years of probation, abide by a 10 p.m. curfew and complete 500 hours of community service with an AIDS group, Goger ruled.

“I think the judge was fair, I think the judge was thoughtful and I think he exemplified the highest standard of judicial restraint,” Clay Collins, Carriker’s attorney, said after the hearing.

Carriker, handcuffed and wearing a red jail jumpsuit, spoke briefly during the Nov. 22 hearing, acknowledging that he understood the charges against him and was pleading guilty voluntarily to two felony counts of reckless conduct.

Carriker did not disclose his HIV status before he engaged in consensual oral and anal sex with Jordan Myers between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2004, according to his May 10 indictment in Fulton Superior Court. He also did not disclose his status before he engaged in consensual oral sex with Don McDaniel between Jan. 8 and Jan. 25, 2005, according to the indictment.

The plea was non-negotiated, meaning prosecutors and Carriker’s attorneys had not agreed to a sentence prior to the hearing.

After questioning Carriker on the charges, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, a Fulton County senior assistant district attorney, asked Goger to sentence him to 10 years in prison for each charge, to serve concurrently.

In her arguments to the judge, Dunikoski acknowledged that Carriker’s victims were present in court and disagreed with her sentencing recommendation. But Dunikoski said Carriker should serve the full 10 years in jail to help protect the public by preventing him from engaging in similar behavior after his release.

On Nov. 7, a Fayette County judge sentenced Carriker to 10 years, with two to serve in jail, for a similar charge of reckless conduct for not disclosing his HIV status to another man, John Withrow, during a consensual sexual relationship between Dec. 10, 2003, and April 30, 2004. A civil lawsuit filed by Withrow against Carriker remains pending.

HIV-Positive Woman Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Sexual Assault

By Philip White

(EUNN) London – A Canadian woman has plead guilty to charges of having unprotected sex with several soldiers at a central Ontario military base knowing she had tested positive for HIV, a virus known to cause AIDS. Jennifer Murphy, 31, plead guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault….

November 26, 2005

HIV-Positive Woman Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Sexual Assault

By Philip White

(EUNN) London – A Canadian woman has plead guilty to charges of having unprotected sex with several soldiers at a central Ontario military base knowing she had tested positive for HIV, a virus known to cause AIDS. Jennifer Murphy, 31, plead guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault.

Murphy is scheduled for sentencing on December 2, Barrie Court officials said.

The Canadian woman was charged March 2 following allegations that she had engaged in unprotected sex with a soldier at CFB Borden near Barrie without informing him she had the virus that causes AIDS.

The Defence Department sent a notice to Forces personnel across the country warning them to seek medical advice if they had sex with Murphy.

The Canadian woman had returned to the area to visit friends she had made while she and her husband, a mechanic in the armed forces, were stationed at Barrie last year.

Murphy had been dubbed the “Soldier Stalker” following rumors of her being sighted walking around in a pink G-string and combat boots between military barracks there.

Here is another story, this one of a man who ran amok with a revolver apparently trying to get shot dead by the police in New York City today after a positive HIV test:

Suicide try by HIV guy

‘I wanted to get killed by cop’

By MICHAEL WHITE, JESS WISLOSKI

and ROBERT F. MOORE

DAILY NEWS WRITERS

A man who had just learned he was HIV-positive pointed a loaded gun at cops outside a Brooklyn police station yesterday, setting off a wild chase that ended with police firing five shots.

“I wanted to get killed by a cop today,” the suspect told officers as they put him into a holding cell, according to a law enforcement source.

The man with a death wish, Shalton Walters, 22, was charged with attempted murder, reckless endangerment, assault, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon, cops said.

No one was hurt in the bizarre drama that began just before 8 a.m. outside the 69th Precinct stationhouse on Foster Ave. in Canarsie.

“They’re all a little shaken up,” said an officer who works with the cops involved.

The three minutes of madness erupted as three uniformed patrol officers were leaving the front door of the police station. An armed Walters allegedly approached the officers and “got into a combat stance,” a police official said.

Standing less than 20 feet from the cops, Walters tried to fire his .45-caliber handgun and then darted down Rockaway Parkway, cops said. He cut through a parking lot behind the stationhouse and on E. 98th St. ran into a plainclothes officer who had just completed his shift.

The gunman stepped back, got into a combat stance again and pointed the gun at that cop, officials said. The officer yelled for him to stop but didn’t pull his weapon, and the suspect then ran toward Farragut Road without firing, cops said. At Farragut and Rockaway Parkway, he was met by four on-duty cops in two marked squad cars, as other officers poured out of the stationhouse.

Three cops fired a total of five shots at Walters after he had pointed the gun at them, too. He was not hit, and police were finally able to wrestle him to the ground.

A police source said Walters’ gun was a “piece of crap” and may have been inoperable. The source said Walters’ boldness faded quickly once the cops started firing.

“When you hear a bullet whiz by your ear, you start to think maybe this isn’t a good idea,” said a cop scouring the crime scene.

One bullet shattered a glass door at Grocery Inc., which is across Rockaway from the shooting. “The bullet almost went right into my head,” said Abdul Fattah, 27, a clerk at the convenience store. “I was scared. I just hit the floor right away.”

A police source said cops suspect Walters, a janitor at Natural Furniture Liquidators on Atlantic Ave. who was staying with friends in Queens, has been treated for a mental illness. They were investigating his medical history last night.

With Alison Gendar

Originally published on November 27, 2005

Media reporting and comment on the prospect of an easy home HIV test reveals how the acceptance of the doubtful HIV=AIDS premise leads to an ever larger structure of fantasy supported by perfectly good reasoning without anyone questioning the premise. Somehow the fact that reasoning itself is valid seems to validate the premise, however absurd the fantasy that results.

One example of this is “Test Adds New Twist to the Dating Game” from Washington by Gardiner Harris in the New York Times Style section today (p 16 Sun Nov 27).

perhaps soon to fade from the popular imagination will be scenes like the one from “Sex and the City” in which the sexually ravenous Samantha is asked by a prospective partner to get tested for H.I.V. (She becomes so nervous, she passes out at the clinic.)

Ms. Friedman said she expected the tests to be taken by people who routinely get anxious, often for very little reason, about their partners or their past. She has clients who take at-home pregnancy tests repeatedly and then, for good measure, go to a doctor for another test, she said.

The New York Times

November 27, 2005

Test Adds New Twist to the Dating Game

By GARDINER HARRIS

WASHINGTON

THE two young single women, attractive and confident, were sitting at the bar of a popular Washington after-hours spot when they were asked how a relatively quick do-it-yourself H.I.V. test might affect their dating life.

One of them, Julie Powers, 23, laughed. “I would definitely make someone take it,” she said, “hopefully before the sex.” And she would not be embarrassed, she said, to insist that a man submit to the test.

“I really think we’ve got what they want,” she explained. “And if they want it, they can have it on our terms.”

Her friend, Victoria Maulhardt, 25, nodded and added, “Especially if you’re getting serious with someone.”

Their comments were not idle speculation: a rapid at-home H.I.V. test could be available on pharmacy shelves within the next year or so. Encouraged by a federal drug advisory committee earlier this month, OraSure Technologies in Bethlehem, Pa., is expected to apply to the Food and Drug Administration soon for permission to start selling its H.I.V. test over the counter. Now it’s available only in clinics.

Taking the test involves a simple swab of the gums. Results appear within 20 minutes.

And if the results are negative, certain inhibitions may disappear.

“I think there would be a lot more unprotected sex if there was a 20-minute test that people could take,” said Michael Mathews, 40. Mr. Mathews was sitting in another Washington nightspot, this one with frosted windows and a clientele that was almost uniformly male.

“We’re all sick of hearing about condoms and prevention and safe sex,” Mr. Mathews said. If a test could allow gay men to skip such prevention efforts, many would, he said.

Ken Deckinger, co-founder and chief executive of the dating service HurryDate, said that an easily available AIDS test could quickly reassure a dater of a prospective partner’s health, allowing a couple to jump into bed faster than they might have before.

The test, he wrote in an e-mail exchange, will “speed up the natural relationship evolution process.”

“This, of course, will most likely lead to more casual encounters,” he wrote.

Helen Friedman, a clinical psychologist in private practice in St. Louis, said she could envision daters “bonding over this and saying, ‘Let’s take this test together,’ ” and then, safely reassured, going from there.

The test is part of a growing stable of medical products that people can use at home to address their sexual behavior; self-administered pregnancy tests and the morning-after pill are others.

The H.I.V. test also addresses an issue that more and more singles face: knowing next to nothing about their next date. The popularity of Internet dating and group set-ups has led more and more singles to participate in blind dates, no references included.

But while technology has helped foster the trend, it is also helping singles cope with it. Google can provide screenfuls of information about a prospective match. Other Web sites offer criminal background checks and lists of real estate holdings. So perhaps it’s no surprise that coming soon to a CVS near you is a quick way to tell if a would-be Mr. or Ms. Right has an infection that could kill.

And perhaps soon to fade from the popular imagination will be scenes like the one from “Sex and the City” in which the sexually ravenous Samantha is asked by a prospective partner to get tested for H.I.V. (She becomes so nervous, she passes out at the clinic.)

Ms. Friedman said she expected the tests to be taken by people who routinely get anxious, often for very little reason, about their partners or their past. She has clients who take at-home pregnancy tests repeatedly and then, for good measure, go to a doctor for another test, she said.

Members of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee suggested in a meeting this month that the people most likely to take the test are college students recovering from an uncharacteristically wild night. But the test is no hangover cure.

An H.I.V. infection will take anywhere from two weeks to three months to become detectable, so the test can offer no assurances about a partner’s most recent sexual history – or fidelity.

Still, Arthur Aron, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, said surreptitious testing of bodily fluids was bound to happen once the test becomes widely available.

“In the context of jealousy, people do amazing things,” Professor Aron said.

Ms. Maulhardt, on the other hand, nursing a drink at the Washington bar, dismissed the idea. “I wouldn’t want to do it behind someone’s back,” she said.

Besides giving daters more chances to have quickie sex and then be horrible to each other, a rapid at-home H.I.V. test could of course help stem a stubbornly high rate of H.I.V. infections in the United States, particularly among blacks, homosexuals and drug users. More than a million people here have been infected with H.I.V., almost two-thirds through male-to-male sex. The rate of infection among blacks is more than eight times that of whites.

Last year 38,685 more Americans were found to be infected with H.I.V., and studies have shown that 40 to 45 percent of new cases develop into AIDS within a year of diagnosis. AIDS takes nearly a decade to develop after an H.I.V. infection, so the seemingly rapid onset of AIDS in these cases means that many Americans – at least 250,000, studies estimate – carry the virus for years without knowing it, perhaps infecting others.

That is why many public health officials are so eager to put OraSure’s test on pharmacy shelves. Getting that quarter-million people to shed their ignorance and get screened could be the key to reducing the epidemic’s toll in the United States. But persuading some daters to make use of the test may still be difficult.

“I could not envision saying, ‘Gee, this has been really great, but before we go any further, here’s a box for you with a little bow on it?’ ” said Amy Drummond, a single woman from Alexandria, Va. “No.”

Matthew Montroi, a 23-year-old single from Washington, said he could imagine a woman asking him to take the test as they became more intimate and moved from using condoms to using birth control pills.

“But I’d probably never ask her to take one unless we were sitting at dinner and she just happened to mention that she’d had 50 partners before,” Mr. Montroi said. “I’d probably leave at that point anyway.”

Then he paused.

“Well,” he said, “if she was really hot, I might stay and ask her to take the test.”

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Evidently we are in for a reprise of the complications of romantic love in the late eighties and nineties, when those who fell for a partner of the opposite sex found themselves in love with someone they also had to suspect of murdering them with sex. Until, that is, the suspect partner took an HIV test, and even then, they couldn’t be sure because the test supposedly did not show HIV antibodies until months after exposure.

Now the test will be a simple swab of the gums and be available in 20 minutes, But we are told that “an HIV infection will still take anywhere from two weeks to three months to become detectable”, so the problem of too recent exposure is not solved. Nonetheless, the article predicts that mutual swabbing between interested parties will provide enough reassurance to permit instant gratification for many.

All these inconsistent behaviors result from the collision of two powerful emotions, longing for love and the fear of death, in people under the sway of a paradigm that the most tested scientific literature has reviewed and rejected.

Anyone who accepts this scientific literature and its conclusions can only marvel at the way intelligent people can adapt to a false belief even though it leads to the most obnoxious results in the part of life many of them value the most, the search for love.

Official blinkers

Meanwhile officials also fail to imagine alternatives, as if they were also wearing blinkers. From the same article, we have these paragraphs:

Last year 38,685 more Americans were found to be infected with H.I.V., and studies have shown that 40 to 45 percent of new cases develop into AIDS within a year of diagnosis. AIDS takes nearly a decade to develop after an H.I.V. infection, so the seemingly rapid onset of AIDS in these cases means that many Americans – at least 250,000, studies estimate – carry the virus for years without knowing it, perhaps infecting others.

That is why many public health officials are so eager to put OraSure’s test on pharmacy shelves. Getting that quarter-million people to shed their ignorance and get screened could be the key to reducing the epidemic’s toll in the United States. But persuading some daters to make use of the test may still be difficult.

For whatever reason, it doesn’t occur to these officials that a good reason for the sudden decline of those detected as HIV-positive only within the last year might be the news itself, and any of the severe medications which might be applied. Not to mention that any one of the thirty or so “AIDS symptoms” to appear for some conventional reason will be interpreted as “AIDS”.

Sauerkraut cures Korean chickens of flu, perhaps you too – BBC

November 25th, 2005

The idea that nutritional vitamin defenses against avian flu might work is not new. Only last March that the BBC reported that sauerkraut might be an answer to avian flu, though in its usual uncritical fashion. In a rather anecdotal study, 13 flu-ridden chickens at Seoul National University were fed Kimchi, a tasty Korean version of fermented cabbage, and 11 showed distinct signs of recovery a week later,

We have to assume their improvement was permanent, though there has been no later report. Anyhow, Karen Herzog of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with a sauerkraut maker in the vicinity, picked up on the story and ran with it three weeks ago, evidently without calling Korea to find out what happened to the chickens. Sauerkraut sales in Milwaukee skyrocketed, and a media bushfire briefly blazed.

The professor who had the idea, Kang Sa-ouk, said at the time it might be the bacteria (lactobacillus) in sauerkraut which fought the flu. But Sauerkraut is also a rich source of vitamin K ie phylloquinone which helps blood clotting and skin healing. Vitamin K is found in leafy vegetables, cheese, liver, and asparagus, though not in coffee, bacon or green tea as some Web sites claim.

Kimchi was popular in Asia as an antidote during the SARS scare two years ago. The Koreans export some 34,000 tons of the stuff every year, mostly to Japan. A Polish-American study of Polish immigrants to the US even suggests sauerkraut is preventive of breast cancer.

The University of New Mexico reported Polish women who ate four or more servings of sauerkraut and cabbage per week during adolescence were 74 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who ate 1.5 or fewer servings per week.

However, there are no papers explaining how it might cure avian flu, as far as we know. Vitamin A remains the key that the scientific literature suggests. Perhaps Anthony Faiuci’s office should be contacted.

Monday, November 7, 2005 – Page updated at 12:00 AM

Is sauerkraut a new weapon against bird flu?

By Karen Herzog

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE — While President Bush scrambles to ward off an avian-flu pandemic, the world’s largest sauerkraut producer, tucked amid the glacial lakebeds of rural Wisconsin, is sitting atop a bumper crop of one possible preventative.

That’s right: sauerkraut.

An international buzz is surrounding the unassuming fermented cabbage. Scientists at Seoul National University in South Korea fed an extract of kimchi, a spicy Korean variant of sauerkraut, to 13 chickens infected with avian flu, and a week later, 11 of the birds started to recover, according to a report by the BBC Network.

“Unlike the government, we’ve got the preventative, and 115,000 tons of it in Wisconsin alone,” said Ryan Downs, owner and general manager of Great Lakes Kraut Co., which has sauerkraut factories in Bear Creek and Shiocton, Wis., and in Shortsville, N.Y.

Downs said more extensive scientific research is needed to prove any curative link to avian flu, but he’s more than happy to tout kraut as a healthful part of any diet.

“People are starting to realize kraut is a pretty doggone good food,” Downs said when contacted about the South Korean study. “We’re ready to help keep the world healthy.”

Several television and radio stations across the United States have picked up the BBC story, said Steve Lundin, spokesman for Frank’s Sauerkraut, based in Fremont, Ohio.

After a Minneapolis CBS affiliate did its own story on sauerkraut’s potential in the battle against avian flu, Frank’s checked 54 Twin City area stores it supplies, and found an 850 percent spike in overall sauerkraut sales, Lundin said.

“People will do whatever they can if they can’t rely on the government to provide them with a vaccine or other preventative,” Lundin said.

South Koreans reportedly are eating more kimchi since news of the study came out. But Korean researchers acknowledged that if kimchi actually caused the effects they observed, it was unclear why.

advertising

Men’s Health magazine fed the sauerkraut buzz in its November issue, suggesting Americans put together pandemic kits containing a few cans of sauerkraut, among other nonperishable foods, because — like kimchi — it is packed with lactic-acid bacteria “shown by Korean researchers to speed recovery of chickens infected with avian flu.”

Another recently released study at the University of New Mexico indicates that sauerkraut may reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 74 percent. That study set out to determine why the risk of breast cancer nearly triples in Polish women who immigrate to the United States.

Of the hundreds of Polish women and Polish-born U.S. immigrants observed in the study, those who ate four or more servings of sauerkraut and cabbage per week during adolescence were 74 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who ate 1.5 or fewer servings per week.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

Sauerkraut sales up after avian flu report

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 4 (UPI) — After a Minneapolis media report that said sauerkraut might help guard against avian flu, there was a 850 percent spike in sauerkraut sales in the city.

A Minneapolis CBS affiliate aired its story on the possible benefits of sauerkraut avian flu, after a BBC report that said scientists at Seoul National University fed an extract of kimchi, a spicy Korean variant of sauerkraut, to 13 chickens infected with avian flu. A week after the birds were fed the sauerkraut, 11 of the birds started to recover.

Ryan Downs, owner and general manager of Great Lakes Kraut Co., said more extensive scientific research obviously was needed to prove any curative link to avian flu, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday. However, he said sauerkraut as a healthy part of any diet.

Earlier this week, the University of New Mexico reported Polish women who ate four or more servings of sauerkraut and cabbage per week during adolescence were 74 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who ate 1.5 or fewer servings per week.

Korea.Net

Kimchi gains popularity abroad

November 10, 2005

Contrary to a cool reception at home in the wake of a recent ruckus of its tarnished image, kimchi is gaining popularity with Americans and other places abroad following a spate of news reports to the effect that the traditional Korean dish has an inherent preventative effect on bird flu, the fear of which is now gripping the world.

It was last March that kimchi’s curative effect on avian influenza began to be known well outside of the country, when the British public broadcaster BBC aired the results of a research team led by Seoul National University professor Kang Sa-wook.

Quoting the team’s test results, BBC said of the 13 chickens stricken with the influenza, 11 had shown telling curative effects after being administered kimchi extracts.

Back in 2003, when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) broke out in Asia, there was a ‘kimchi rage’ in China and Southeast Asia on the strength of reports that the Korea-originated pickle was working in heading off the epidemic.

In recent weeks, the American media were into handling kimchi’s efficacy in treating avian flu.

The ABC network, South Carolina’s largest state newspaper, the Murtle Beach Sun News, Centre Daily Times of Pennsylvania, and some 100 media outlets across the United States reported kimchi’s curative effects on the epidemic.

The ABC reported on Tuesday that with the interest in kimchi growing in America, sauerkraut, the U.S. version of kimchi, is also enjoying a boom. Sauerkraut, a pickle of German origin made from shredded cabbage fermented in brine, is normally inserted into hot dogs or sandwiches.

Journal Times, a publication from Racine, Wisconsin, reported scientists speculated that the bacteria which were detected in kimchi, help cure avian influenza, adding that the same strains were also discovered in sauerkraut.

Kim Jae-soo, the agricultural attaché to the Korean embassy in Washington, D.C., said that contrary to the perception of misgivings Koreans have at home, the American press has given an intense coverage of kimchi’s curative effects on the poultry epidemic.

He noted that although the U.S. media had not paid significant attention to kimchi when it gained popularity as a curative to SARS in Southeast Asia, it is watching carefully this time around.

Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Korea Agro-Trade Corp. on Thursday (Nov. 10), despite the recent unsavory episode involving tainted kimchi, Korea’s exports of the item amounted to 26,275 tons in the first 10 months of the year, up 81 tons from a year earlier.

In particular, shipments to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia have surged partly due to Hallyu, or the Korean cultural wave, prompted by Daejanggeum, a Korean TV drama aired in those countries. In the January-October period, exports to Taiwan totaled 561 tons, up 72 percent from a year before. Hong Kong and Malaysia saw their imports increase by 15 and 150 percent respectively.

Besides, prospects for suspended kimchi shipments to Japan to resume were bright as the Japanese authorities were about to end their investigation into the Korean products soon. About 93 percent of Korea’s total exports of 34,827 tons last year went to Japan.

\

November 14, 2005

Sauerkraut–possible cure to avian flu?

According to experts, Sauerkraut, a traditional recipe, made from cabbage can be effective in fighting bird flu. Made from chopped cabbage that is fermented for at least a month, Sauerkraut contains bacteria that may counter bird flu.

The findings follow a study in which ‘kimchi’—a spicy cabbage dish popular in South Korea and similar to sauerkraut—was fed to 13 chickens infected with bird flu. Just one week later, 11 of the birds showed signs of recovery from the virus. Prof Kang Sa-ouk of Seoul National University claims that lactobacillus created during the fermenting process, is the active ingredient that could combat bird flu. The feed helps improve fight against bird flu and other types of viruses.

Sauerkraut has many other health benefits. It has cancer-fighting and detoxifying properties and is also a rich source of vitamins. A further study on Sauerkraut, carried out recently by Polish and American scientists, concluded that the meal might be the reason for the lower breast cancer rate observed among Polish immigrants in America.

Though Sauerkraut has attracted a lot of attention due the recent studies, much more extensive scientific research is needed to prove its effectiveness against bird flu. Whether or not scientists are able to establish Sauerkraut as a cure for bird flu, its health benefits have definitely come into foreground as a result of the studies.

November 14, 2005

Magic Johnson presents a problem for HIV dissenters —which they solve

November 24th, 2005

Magic Johnson presents a major problem for HIV dissenters, because he has stated in public that he takes his antiviral cocktail – the HAART regime – dutifully, and does not visibly suffer from fatty lumps and humps. Nor has he collapsed from kidney and liver damage, which dissenters claim is the fate of all who take these AIDS medicines, certainly within the many years that Magic has been taking his medicine after being diagnosed HIV positive.

HIV dissenters like to solve the inconsistency with their counter-theory of the dangerous irrelevancy of anti-HIV drugs to AIDS by claiming that Magic has said privately he doesn’t touch the stuff,

But he consistently maintains the opposite in public, so we took a special interest in the Charlie Rose interview tonight (Thurs Nov 24), which featured Magic for the full hour with his book My Hero; The Hero Project.

Rose brings up AIDS in the last quarter hour briefly, and Magic outlines his current ideas on AIDS, after correcting Rose by saying he has the “HIV virus” not AIDS, and that telling his woman about his positive HIV test was the hardest thing he ever had to do. Magic gives talks on HIV and AIDS to many groups. he says, and he urges them all to confess at once that they have HIV if they test positive, because “we have 26 drugs to help you”.

Without exception Magic’s comments followed the conventional wisdom ie the HIV party line – the “science of AIDS is going really, really well, fabulous”, “it is not a gay man disease”, one should get tested straight away, and AIDS is now invading the black and the Latino community “in a big way”, 60 per cent of the new cases now, etc. “We have to make sure we educate our children, our young people about this, because as we read in the paper the other day teenage sex is up among young people. Highest it’s ever been before. So we gotta get out there and make sure we educate people about HIV and AIDS.”

Given Magic’s ready, confident response along these lines, it seems impossible that he is concealing any private belief that all this is fantastic nonsense, and not taking his drugs. Fantasy it is of course, according to the latest mainstream scientific literature (which gives data which effectively denies any possibility of heterosexual HIV spread through sex, as we showed recently), not to mention the scientific review literature.

The question is, then, why has Magic survived the medications so well? The answer, critics say, is that he is a robust athlete whose body can handle them and stay healthy. Cancer chemotherapy patients survive similar assaults. The reason Magic and many other patients survive the drug regimen of AIDS very well is that it affects individuals differently because of biological variance.

The bigger question is, if the literature, as the reviews point out, tells us that any initial improvement aside (first they kill infections faster than the host, and excite immune cell creation by the bone marrow, which feels good, giving rise to the many stories in the uncritical press that a quick dose of “cocktail” enables an ailing AIDS patient to leap out of bed and climb the nearest mountain), the drugs have an adverse impact on the health of most AIDS patients and eventually send them to their doom, how is the standard claim that the drugs have enabled them to live normal lives able to survive a decade without imploding?

That, currently, is the billion dollar question for HIV dissenters. As Nobel prize winner James Watson said to this author, when discussing the validity of HIV?AIDS, “But the new drugs work, don’t they?”

To this HIV critics have an answer. Two answers, in fact. The point they say is that HIV supporters are able to make false claims for HIV and AIDS medications, based on a misinterpretation of a) the effect of reducing the dose of lethal drugs and b) recruiting more robust patients ie those not yet down with “AIDS” symptoms.

In the early days of AIDS the dose of AZT was much higher and more of the patients were already sick when they were given the standard AIDS medications, As the level of AZT was reduced the patient’s lives were lengthened, a year or so before protease inhibitors were brought in. HIV proponents now claim that their lives were lengthened by the new medications, but the improvement is visible in the trend before they came in. Clearly it was simply a result of cutting the dose of AZT, which is a DNA chain terminator which kills any cells dividing nearby, which they do to multiply in our bodies all the time.

Likewise, critics say, the trend towards administering protease inhibitors to people who are “HIV positive” (actually HIV antibody positive) but in good health without any AIDS symptoms results in more people living longer as they take the new drugs, because they have the robust health to withstand them better. This also is falsely credited to the efficacy of protease inhibitors.

One set of facts, two interpretations—but only one fits all the facts. The decline of AIDS deaths a year or more before the introduction of the new medications cannot be explained by the HIV defenders.

Magic Johnson presents a problem for HIV dissenters —which they solve

November 24th, 2005

Magic Johnson presents a major problem for HIV dissenters, because he has stated in public that he takes his antiviral cocktail – the HAART regime – dutifully, and does not visibly suffer from fatty lumps and humps. Nor has he collapsed from kidney and liver damage, which dissenters claim is the fate of all who take these AIDS medicines, certainly within the many years that Magic has been taking his medicine after being diagnosed HIV positive.

HIV dissenters like to solve the inconsistency with their counter-theory of the dangerous irrelevancy of anti-HIV drugs to AIDS by claiming that Magic has said privately he doesn’t touch the stuff,

But he consistently maintains the opposite in public, so we took a special interest in the Charlie Rose interview tonight (Thurs Nov 24), which featured Magic for the full hour with his book My Hero; The Hero Project.

Rose brings up AIDS in the last quarter hour briefly, and Magic outlines his current ideas on AIDS, after correcting Rose by saying he has the “HIV virus” not AIDS, and that telling his woman about his positive HIV test was the hardest thing he ever had to do. Magic gives talks on HIV and AIDS to many groups. he says, and he urges them all to confess at once that they have HIV if they test positive, because “we have 26 drugs to help you”.

Without exception Magic’s comments followed the conventional wisdom ie the HIV party line – the “science of AIDS is going really, really well, fabulous”, “it is not a gay man disease”, one should get tested straight away, and AIDS is now invading the black and the Latino community “in a big way”, 60 per cent of the new cases now, etc. “We have to make sure we educate our children, our young people about this, because as we read in the paper the other day teenage sex is up among young people. Highest it’s ever been before. So we gotta get out there and make sure we educate people about HIV and AIDS.”

Given Magic’s ready, confident response along these lines, it seems impossible that he is concealing any private belief that all this is fantastic nonsense, and not taking his drugs. Fantasy it is of course, according to the latest mainstream scientific literature (which gives data which effectively denies any possibility of heterosexual HIV spread through sex, as we showed recently), not to mention the scientific review literature.

The question is, then, why has Magic survived the medications so well? The answer, critics say, is that he is a robust athlete whose body can handle them and stay healthy. Cancer chemotherapy patients survive similar assaults. The reason Magic and many other patients survive the drug regimen of AIDS very well is that it affects individuals differently because of biological variance.

The bigger question is, if the literature, as the reviews point out, tells us that any initial improvement aside (first they kill infections faster than the host, and excite immune cell creation by the bone marrow, which feels good, giving rise to the many stories in the uncritical press that a quick dose of “cocktail” enables an ailing AIDS patient to leap out of bed and climb the nearest mountain), the drugs have an adverse impact on the health of most AIDS patients and eventually send them to their doom, how is the standard claim that the drugs have enabled them to live normal lives able to survive a decade without imploding?

That, currently, is the billion dollar question for HIV dissenters. As Nobel prize winner James Watson said to this author, when discussing the validity of HIV?AIDS, “But the new drugs work, don’t they?”

To this HIV critics have an answer. Two answers, in fact. The point they say is that HIV supporters are able to make false claims for HIV and AIDS medications, based on a misinterpretation of a) the effect of reducing the dose of lethal drugs and b) recruiting more robust patients ie those not yet down with “AIDS” symptoms.

In the early days of AIDS the dose of AZT was much higher and more of the patients were already sick when they were given the standard AIDS medications, As the level of AZT was reduced the patient’s lives were lengthened, a year or so before protease inhibitors were brought in. HIV proponents now claim that their lives were lengthened by the new medications, but the improvement is visible in the trend before they came in. Clearly it was simply a result of cutting the dose of AZT, which is a DNA chain terminator which kills any cells dividing nearby, which they do to multiply in our bodies all the time.

Likewise, critics say, the trend towards administering protease inhibitors to people who are “HIV positive” (actually HIV antibody positive) but in good health without any AIDS symptoms results in more people living longer as they take the new drugs, because they have the robust health to withstand them better. This also is falsely credited to the efficacy of protease inhibitors.

One set of facts, two interpretations—but only one fits all the facts. The decline of AIDS deaths a year or more before the introduction of the new medications cannot be explained by the HIV defenders.

Onion’s Lack of Seriousness Deplored by NIAID Director Anthony Fauci

November 23rd, 2005

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, stated today (Wed Nov 23) that in his opinion “the continuing ridicule and satire by the weekly paper, The Onion, of the strenuous efforts of our institution to raise the alarm regarding the greatest threat to US national security and world order in history, H5N1 bird flu, is now beyond a joke.”

Asked by New AIDS Review what he objected to most, Fauci replied: “For example the blatant excess of the image in this week’s issue ‘KFC Introduces New Bird-Flu Dipping Vaccine’.”

Added the NIAID director, “While I appreciate humor as well as the next official in Washington, I have to draw the line when it comes to the Onion’s giving the bird to what is without doubt the most alarming prospect for the human race since Noah’s flood.”

Brain science explains unscientific conformity to AIDS hypothesis

November 22nd, 2005

The “top-down process” in AIDS

There is a telling article by Sandra Blakeslee this morning (Tues Nov 22) in the Science section of the Times, right where it should be – on the front page.

We say this should be prominently displayed because it yields the best explanation for the infinite capacity of otherwise competent and honest scientists in AIDS to believe in what their objective selves should have told them long ago is nonsense, if the expert reviews of the science in AIDS is correct.

The article reports that modern brain studies have confirmed the peculiar capacity of the brain to justify its beliefs – as implanted by accepted authorities such as teachers or colleagues, the media or textbooks – in the face of a mountain of contrary evidence. Instead of adjusting the mental framework it is using to interpret data, the brain prefers to adjust its perception of the evidence which doesn’t fit its preconceptions. Voila! Rationalisation of a belief in the face of heresy, reinforced by resentment of the attempt to disturb the established truth.

These extensive feedback circuits mean that consciousness, what people see, hear, feel and believe, is based on what neuroscientists call ”top down processing.” What you see is not always what you get, because what you see depends on a framework built by experience that stands ready to interpret the raw information — as a flower or a hammer or a face.

Here surely is the explanation of the peculiar attitude of the AIDS rank and file, who so often seem to want to burn at the stake anyone who raises the question, Do we really know that HIV causes AIDS?

They are, in effect, under hypnosis, and instructed ,by their hypnotist (the scientific and health authorities who preach the paradigm to them and other members of the global AIDS congregation) to violently reject any questioner.

In this they appear to be very much a match for the Scientologists and other cults who exploit the same mechanism of mesmerism.

Possibly the mystery of why some people do not accept the mainstream idea, and are led to question and reject it, has something to do with the brain factors which lead some people to be easily hypnotized, and others to be hard or impossible to hypnotize, as the article mentions.

Since the huge proportion of easy believers in conventional wisdom in AIDS seems to be much higher in the general population, however, than the 18-20 per cent of humans that are easily hypnotized as adults, it seems that the figure for children is more applicable.

According to decades of research, 10 to 15 percent of adults are highly hypnotizable, said Dr. David Spiegel, a psychiatrist at Stanford who studies the clinical uses of hypnosis. Up to age 12, however, before top-down circuits mature, 80 to 85 percent of children are highly hypnotizable.

Come to think of it, there does seem something childish in the incapacity to think for oneself in the face of authority, crowd or peer pressure. But what this research suggests is that it is a function of immature brain structure, and therefore hopeless to try and influence it with arguments of reason or even contrary evidence.

Brain scans show that the control mechanisms for deciding what to do in the face of conflict become uncoupled when people are hypnotized. Top-down processes override sensory, or bottom-up information, said Dr. Stephen M. Kosslyn, a neuroscientist at Harvard. People think that sights, sounds and touch from the outside world constitute reality. But the brain constructs what it perceives based on past experience, Dr. Kosslyn said.

Most of the time bottom-up information matches top-down expectation, Dr. Spiegel said. But hypnosis is interesting because it creates a mismatch. ”We imagine something different, so it is different,” he said.

Evidently changing the minds of loyal subscribers to an AIDS paradigm which makes no scientific sense in logic or in regard to the data according to repeated scientific review may be akin to telling a five year old that Father Christmas doesn’t exist after he finds his stocking stuffed on Christmas morning: cruel and ineffective.

NYTimes.com

SCIENCE DESK

3, 2, 1: This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis

By SANDRA BLAKESLEE (NYT) 1706 words

Published: November 22, 2005

Hypnosis, with its long and checkered history in medicine and entertainment, is receiving some new respect from neuroscientists. Recent brain studies of people who are susceptible to suggestion indicate that when they act on the suggestions their brains show profound changes in how they process information. The suggestions, researchers report, literally change what people see, hear, feel and believe to be true.

The new experiments, which used brain imaging, found that people who were hypnotized ”saw” colors where there were none. Others lost the ability to make simple decisions. Some people looked at common English words and thought that they were gibberish.

”The idea that perceptions can be manipulated by expectations” is fundamental to the study of cognition, said Michael I. Posner, an emeritus professor of neuroscience at the University of Oregon and expert on attention. ”But now we’re really getting at the mechanisms.”

Even with little understanding of how it works, hypnosis has been used in medicine since the 1950’s to treat pain and, more recently, as a treatment for anxiety, depression, trauma, irritable bowel syndrome and eating disorders.

There is, however, still disagreement about what exactly the hypnotic state is or, indeed, whether it is anything more than an effort to please the hypnotist or a natural form of extreme concentration where people become oblivious to their surroundings while lost in thought.

Hypnosis had a false start in the 18th century when a German physician, Dr. Franz Mesmer, devised a miraculous cure for people suffering all manner of unexplained medical problems. Amid dim lights and ethereal music played on a glass harmonica, he infused them with an invisible ”magnetic fluid” that only he was able to muster. Thus mesmerized, clients were cured.

Although Dr. Mesmer was eventually discredited, he was the first person to show that the mind could be manipulated by suggestion to affect the body, historians say. This central finding was resurrected by Dr. James Braid, an English ophthalmologist who in 1842 coined the word hypnosis after the Greek word for sleep.

Braid reportedly put people into trances by staring at them intently, but he did not have a clue as to how it worked. In this vacuum, hypnosis was adopted by spiritualists and stage magicians who used dangling gold watches to induce hypnotic states in volunteers from the audience, and make them dance, sing or pretend to be someone else, only to awaken at a hand clap and laughter from the crowd.

In medical hands, hypnosis was no laughing matter. In the 19th century, physicians in India successfully used hypnosis as anesthesia, even for limb amputations. The practice fell from favor only when ether was discovered.

Now, Dr. Posner and others said, new research on hypnosis and suggestion is providing a new view into the cogs and wheels of normal brain function.

One area that it may have illuminated is the processing of sensory data. Information from the eyes, ears and body is carried to primary sensory regions in the brain. From there, it is carried to so-called higher regions where interpretation occurs.

For example, photons bouncing off a flower first reach the eye, where they are turned into a pattern that is sent to the primary visual cortex. There, the rough shape of the flower is recognized. The pattern is next sent to a higher — in terms of function — region, where color is recognized, and then to a higher region, where the flower’s identity is encoded along with other knowledge about the particular bloom.

The same processing stream, from lower to higher regions, exists for sounds, touch and other sensory information. Researchers call this direction of flow feedforward. As raw sensory data is carried to a part of the brain that creates a comprehensible, conscious impression, the data is moving from bottom to top.

Bundles of nerve cells dedicated to each sense carry sensory information. The surprise is the amount of traffic the other way, from top to bottom, called feedback. There are 10 times as many nerve fibers carrying information down as there are carrying it up.

These extensive feedback circuits mean that consciousness, what people see, hear, feel and believe, is based on what neuroscientists call ”top down processing.” What you see is not always what you get, because what you see depends on a framework built by experience that stands ready to interpret the raw information — as a flower or a hammer or a face.

The top-down structure explains a lot. If the construction of reality has so much top-down processing, that would make sense of the powers of placebos (a sugar pill will make you feel better), nocebos (a witch doctor will make you ill), talk therapy and meditation. If the top is convinced, the bottom level of data will be overruled.

This brain structure would also explain hypnosis, which is all about creating such formidable top-down processing that suggestions overcome reality.

According to decades of research, 10 to 15 percent of adults are highly hypnotizable, said Dr. David Spiegel, a psychiatrist at Stanford who studies the clinical uses of hypnosis. Up to age 12, however, before top-down circuits mature, 80 to 85 percent of children are highly hypnotizable.

One adult in five is flat out resistant to hypnosis, Dr. Spiegel said. The rest are in between, he said.

In some of the most recent work, Dr. Amir Raz, an assistant professor of clinical neuroscience at Columbia, chose to study highly hypnotizable people with the help of a standard psychological test that probes conflict in the brain. As a professional magician who became a scientist to understand better the slippery nature of attention, Dr. Raz said that he ”wanted to do something really impressive” that other neuroscientists could not ignore.

The probe, called the Stroop test, presents words in block letters in the colors red, blue, green and yellow. The subject has to press a button identifying the color of the letters. The difficulty is that sometimes the word RED is colored green. Or the word YELLOW is colored blue.

For people who are literate, reading is so deeply ingrained that it invariably takes them a little bit longer to override the automatic reading of a word like RED and press a button that says green. This is called the Stroop effect.

Sixteen people, half highly hypnotizable and half resistant, went into Dr. Raz’s lab after having been covertly tested for hypnotizability. The purpose of the study, they were told, was to investigate the effects of suggestion on cognitive performance. After each person underwent a hypnotic induction, Dr. Raz said:

”Very soon you will be playing a computer game inside a brain scanner. Every time you hear my voice over the intercom, you will immediately realize that meaningless symbols are going to appear in the middle of the screen. They will feel like characters in a foreign language that you do not know, and you will not attempt to attribute any meaning to them.

”This gibberish will be printed in one of four ink colors: red, blue, green or yellow. Although you will only attend to color, you will see all the scrambled signs crisply. Your job is to quickly and accurately depress the key that corresponds to the color shown. You can play this game effortlessly. As soon as the scanning noise stops, you will relax back to your regular reading self.”

Dr. Raz then ended the hypnosis session, leaving each person with what is called a posthypnotic suggestion, an instruction to carry out an action while not hypnotized.

Days later, the subjects entered the brain scanner.

In highly hypnotizables, when Dr. Raz’s instructions came over the intercom, the Stroop effect was obliterated, hesaid. The subjects saw English words as gibberish and named colors instantly. But for those who were resistant to hypnosis, the Stroop effect prevailed, rendering them significantly slower in naming the colors.

When the brain scans of the two groups were compared, a distinct pattern appeared. Among the hypnotizables, Dr. Raz said, the visual area of the brain that usually decodes written words did not become active. And a region in the front of the brain that usually detects conflict was similarly dampened.

Top-down processes overrode brain circuits devoted to reading and detecting conflict, Dr. Raz said, although he did not know exactly how that happened. Those results appeared in July in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A number of other recent studies of brain imaging point to similar top-down brain mechanisms under the influence of suggestion. Highly hypnotizable people were able to ”drain” color from a colorful abstract drawing or ”add” color to the same drawing rendered in gray tones. In each case, the parts of their brains involved in color perception were differently activated.

Brain scans show that the control mechanisms for deciding what to do in the face of conflict become uncoupled when people are hypnotized. Top-down processes override sensory, or bottom-up information, said Dr. Stephen M. Kosslyn, a neuroscientist at Harvard. People think that sights, sounds and touch from the outside world constitute reality. But the brain constructs what it perceives based on past experience, Dr. Kosslyn said.

Most of the time bottom-up information matches top-down expectation, Dr. Spiegel said. But hypnosis is interesting because it creates a mismatch. ”We imagine something different, so it is different,” he said.

Photos: SEEING RED — Dr. Amir Raz, rear, and Miguel Moeno with hypnosis test. Right, Bernard C. Gindes and his hypnosis machine in 1967. (Photo by Ralph Crane/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images); (Photo by Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times)(pg. F4)

Drawing (Drawing by William Duke)(pg. F1)

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company | Privacy Policy | Home | Search | Corrections | Help | Back to Top

Brain science in this case is really only confirming what most of us already knew what was going on in health and medicine, of course. The power of mind over body has been debated for years, both as the placebo effect (which has survived a front page article by Gina Kolata announcing it didn’t exist a few years ago, according to a Danish metastudy “Placebo Effect Is More Myth Than Science, Study Says,May 24,2001

NYTimes

NATIONAL DESK

Placebo Effect Is More Myth Than Science, Study Says

By GINA KOLATA (NYT) 1300 words

Published: May 24, 2001

In a new report that is being met with a mixture of astonishment and sometimes disbelief, two Danish researchers say the placebo effect is a myth.

The investigators analyzed 114 published studies involving about 7,500 patients with 40 different conditions. The report found no support for the common notion that, in general, about a third of patients will improve if they are given a dummy pill and told it is real.

Instead, the researchers theorize, patients seem to improve after taking placebos because most diseases have uneven courses in which their severity waxes and wanes. In studies in which treatments are compared not just with placebos but also with no treatment at all, they said, participants given no treatment improve at about the same rate as participants given placebos.

The paper appears today in The New England Journal of Medicine. Both authors, Dr. Asbjorn Hrobjartsson and Dr. Peter C. Gotzsche, are with the University of Copenhagen and the Nordic Cochran Center, an international organization of medical researchers who review randomized clinical trials.

Dr. Hrobjartsson said he had been telling other investigators what he found and watching their responses.

”People react with surprise, but also with a kind of satisfaction,” he said in a telephone interview. ”They start reflecting.”

Experts interviewed this week had a range of responses from ready acceptance of the conclusion to great surprise to a skepticism and the desire to see the details of the analysis.

Dr. Donald Berry, for example, a statistician at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said: ”I believe it. In fact, I have long believed that the placebo effect is nothing more than a regression effect,” referring to a well-known statistical observation that a patient who feels particularly terrible one day will almost invariably feel better the next day, no matter what is done for him.

Another physician, Dr. Jonathan Moreno, director of the Center for the Biomedical Ethics at the University of Virginia, said it rang true to him. ”Maybe it is one of the urban legends of medicine,” he said.

But others, like David Freedman, a statistician at the University of California, said he was not convinced. Professor Freedman said the statistical method the Danish researchers used, pooling data from many studies and using a statistical tool called metanalysis to examine them, could give misleading results.

”I just don’t find this report to be incredibly persuasive,” he said. ”The evidence of a placebo effect is maybe a little bit less than I thought it was, but I think there’s a big effect in many circumstances. This doesn’t change my mind.”

The researchers said they saw a slight effect of placebos on subjective outcomes reported by patients, like their descriptions of how much pain they experienced. But, Dr. Hrobjartsson said, he questions that effect.

”It could be a true effect, but it also could be a reporting bias,” he said. ”The patient wants to please the investigator and tells the investigator, ‘I feel slightly better.’ ”

Placebos are still needed in clinical research, Dr. Hrobjartsson said, to prevent researchers from knowing who is getting a real treatment. Otherwise, he said, researchers can end up seeing what they want to see. For example, they may notice changes in patients who are taking an active drug while not paying as much attention to similar symptoms in patients that they know are being left untreated. Patients, he said, who are told they are not being treated may leave the study, further complicating research efforts.

Dr. Hrobjartsson and Dr. Gotzsche said they began their study out of curiosity. Over and over, medical journals and textbooks asserted that placebo effects were so powerful that, on average, 35 percent of patients would improve simply if they were told that a dummy treatment was real. The investigators began asking where this assessment came from. Every paper, Dr. Hrobjartsson said, seemed to refer to other papers. And those papers referred him to other papers. He began peeling back the onion, finally coming to the original paper. It was written by a Boston doctor, Henry Beecher, who had been chief of anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and in 1955 published a paper, ”The Powerful Placebo” in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

In his paper, Dr. Beecher, who died in 1976, reviewed about a dozen studies that compared placebos with active treatments and concluded that placebos had medical effects.

”He came up with the magical 35 percent number that has entered placebo mythology,” Dr. Hrobjartsson said.

But, Dr. Hrobjartsson said, diseases naturally wax and wane. And no matter how sick the person is, a truly bad spell will almost inevitably be followed by a period in which the condition seems to improve. What if the natural variation in a disease’s course is behind the placebo effect, they asked?

”Of the many articles I looked through, no article distinguished between a placebo effect and the natural course of a disease,” Dr. Hrobjartsson said. ”This is a very banal error to make, but sometimes banal errors are made.”

He and Dr. Gotzsche began looking for well-conducted studies that divided patients into three groups, giving one a real medical treatment, one a placebo and one nothing at all. That was the only way, they reasoned, to decide whether placebos had any medical effect.

But they worried that there might be so few such studies with a treated, untreated and placebo group that they would never be able to answer the question. ”We thought if we could find 20, that would be a huge success,” Dr. Hrobjartsson said.

To their surprise, they found 114, published between 1946 and 1998. The conditions included medical disorders, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and asthma; behavioral disorders and addictions, like alcohol abuse and smoking; neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy, and infections, like bacterial infections and the common cold.

When they analyzed the data, they could detect no effects of placebos on objective measurements, like cholesterol levels or blood pressure.

Dr. John C. Bailar III, an emeritus professor at the University of Chicago who wrote an editorial accompanying the placebo paper, said the findings called into question some mind-body beliefs. These are arguments that use the placebo effect to conclude that the mind can so profoundly affect the course of a disease that people should be able to harness this power and think themselves well.

The findings should also give doctors pause in prescribing treatments they know are useless, like a glass of warm milk at bedtime for patients with insomnia or futile drugs for patients in the late stages of fatal diseases, Dr. Bailar said.

”I think what this ought to do is bring about a very sharp reduction in the use of placebos,” he said. ”My guess is that it will bring about a modest reduction and that it will take a second or third penetrating paper to bring about a real change.”

But, Dr. Bailar said, he understands the reluctance many will feel to abandon their belief in placebos. He, too, is hesitant to wrench himself completely away from what he now thinks is largely a myth.

”I’m not ready to give up on placebos entirely,” Dr. Bailar said. ”I hope there will be a lot more research on how they work.”

Or, he said, ”if they work.”

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

) and in patient responses to all kinds of ailments and cures. Here, for example, is a recent Times article on possibly curing skin problems with the power of the mind.

New York Times

SKIN DEEP; If You Think It, It Will Clear

By NATASHA SINGER (NYT) 1612 words

Published: July 28, 2005

STRESS may be inflaming your pimples. And hypnosis may help clear them up. Or deep breathing exercises. Or maybe imagining yourself lying on a beach in Aruba.

At least that’s the idea behind an emerging medical specialty that explores the interaction between the mind and the skin. Its practitioners believe that for some patients, stress may play a role in skin conditions from acne to psoriasis, rosacea, warts, eczema, blushing and hives.

These doctors, who identify themselves as psychodermatologists – ”derm shrinks” or ”skin shrinks” for short – concentrate less on medicating the skin and more on getting at the psychological components of what ails it. They do not ignore traditional medicine. But they add treatments like psychotherapy, meditation, relaxation, hypnosis, acupuncture, yoga, tai chi and even anti-anxiety drugs.

These strategies, psychodermatologists say, have the potential to help the tens of millions of Americans who suffer from chronic skin ailments. And many patients, frustrated by skin conditions that seem resistant to traditional medicine, are apparently willing to give them a try.

Mary O’Leary is one who has. A surgical nurse in Boston, Ms. O’Leary had so many plantar warts on one foot, it was painful for her to stand all day in the operating room. Her dermatologist prescribed antiviral creams, but nothing helped until she met Ted A. Grossbart, an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School who specializes in skin problems.

”I spent months learning self-hypnosis,” Ms. O’Leary said. She visualized her immune cells fighting off the virus and imagined healthy skin replacing the warts. ”It’s bizarre and amazing, but it worked.”

Some doctors are skeptical of treatments based on stress relief. Larry E. Millikan, chairman of the dermatology department at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, likened some psychodermatology methods to the wart-treating strategies Tom Sawyer recommended to Huckleberry Finn: burying a dead cat at midnight or sticking one’s hand in a wet, rotten tree stump while chanting ”spunk-water, spunk-water, swaller these warts!”

”The proven benefit for skin problems comes from traditional dermatology,” Dr. Millikan said. ”That will remain true until we have hard science showing the effects of meditation and acupuncture on skin.”

But psychodermatologists say the anecdotal evidence is enough to convince them that their approach is worthwhile.

”We all have patients whose hives, pimples and eczema get worse when their personal lives or work situations get complicated,” said Dr. Richard G. Fried, a dermatologist and psychologist in Yardley, Pa., whose staff includes an acupuncturist and a biofeedback therapist. ”But dermatologists have customarily ignored the root causes and just treated the visible symptoms.”

Joe Duke, a purchasing manager in Philadelphia, is one of Dr. Fried’s patients. ”Two to three hours after a stressful situation,” Mr. Duke said, ”I used to get a psoriasis flare-up with 20 to 30 lesions across my chest, arms and legs. You look like a leper.”

He had spent decades trying ultraviolet light treatments, prescription ointments and creams, antibiotics and even methotrexate, a drug that suppresses the immune system. Some of these worked temporarily, while others had worrisome side effects. So Dr. Fried suggested that Mr. Duke try biofeedback, which teaches patients to reduce tension by practicing deep breathing and muscle relaxation, and by imagining themselves in idyllic landscapes.

”I started biofeedback about 18 months ago, and last summer I even wore shorts for the first time in years,” Mr. Duke said. ”For me personally, biofeedback has been like anger management for my skin.” The result, he said, has been fewer breakouts and less reliance on prescription creams.

The number of skin specialists who combine physical and psychological treatments appears to be rising. The Association for Psychocutaneous Medicine of North America, which includes physicians and psychologists, has grown to more than 40 members from 12 in 1991. Some of these practitioners treat depressed patients with disfiguring skin conditions or psychiatric patients who harm their own skin. But most also treat common skin ailments.

David Colbert, a dermatologist in New York, employs an acupuncturist to work with some of his rosacea and psoriasis patients. And Philip D. Shenefelt, a dermatologist in Tampa, Fla., often uses hypnosis to treat itching or hives.

A few medical school dermatology programs also have begun to provide stress-relief treatments. St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York has a Psychocutaneous Medicine Unit where dermatologists and psychologists often treat patients in tandem. And later this year the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the University of Rochester Medical Center plan to open psychodermatology clinics where doctors may recommend that patients try hypnosis or stress-reduction techniques.

Dr. Grossbart of Harvard, who has been treating skin complaints with psychotherapy for 25 years, said he was pleased that dermatologists were learning psychological techniques. ”If a dermatologist allots only 12 minutes to see each patient,” he said, ”that doesn’t leave time to address underlying emotional issues.”

Several recent studies have shown how stress can impair the skin. In 2001 scientists at Weill Medical College of Cornell University subjected 25 volunteers to a fake job interview and 11 others to a sleepless night. They then gave the volunteers microscopic wounds by peeling off a small, thin patch of skin with tape. All the subjects’ skin took longer than usual to repair itself.

A similar 2001 study, done at the University of California, San Francisco, looked at 27 graduate students during exam time and again during spring break. While the students were studying for and presumably worrying about tests, their skin was slower to repair itself than it was during vacation.

There is less evidence to suggest that the opposite premise may be true: that reducing stress via hypnosis or meditation may heal the skin. But there is some. In 1998 a study of psoriasis patients at the University of Massachusetts found that those who listened to meditation tapes while receiving ultraviolet light treatments healed much faster than patients who did not use the tapes. And a 1999 study at Johns Hopkins found that psoriasis patients who were susceptible to hypnosis treatments improved more than patients who resisted hypnosis.

The biological mechanisms by which these remedies may work are unknown. It is possible that relaxation simply improves people’s outlook and causes them to eat healthier food, sleep better and get more exercise, and that those changes affect their skin. This uncertainty makes some doctors leery of mind-body treatments.

Mark Lebwohl, chairman of the dermatology department at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said that against his better judgment, he agreed to refer a psoriasis patient, Dennis Foglia of Queens, to a psychologist for hypnosis. The therapist tried hypnosis and asked Mr. Foglia to visualize the rash leaving his body.

”I wouldn’t tell other patients not to try it,” said Mr. Foglia, a retired police officer, ”but I can say hypnosis did not impact my psoriasis at all.”

Richard D. Granstein, chairman of dermatology at Weill Medical College, questioned whether stress-relieving treatments could get rid of anyone’s pimples. ”We can’t be absolutely certain until we can prove that these therapies directly alter a patient’s skin,” Dr. Granstein said. ”It can’t hurt your pimples to take up yoga or tai chi, as long as you’re still using your acne creams.”

Seeking Relief? Just Inhale

BEAUTY products designed to heal the skin by calming the mind represent a small but growing trend. ”The best of the new antistress products marry aromatherapy, which works on your emotions through smell, with high-tech skin care,” said Jenny B. Fine, editor of the cosmetics trade magazine WWD Beauty Biz. To test the products’ claims, Diane Madfes, a New York dermatologist, examined the ingredient lists on a sampling of mind-body beauty items.

Origins Peace of Mind Cease and De-stress Diffuser, $12.50, www.origins.com.

One whiff of the peppermint and eucalyptus in this pocket-size aromatic tube is supposed to relax you in an instant. Some scientific evidence does back up the assumption that peppermint has a calming effect, Dr. Madfes said. ”I think taking a deep breath of this makes you stop for a moment, slow down and de-stress,” she said.

Cellcosmet Anti-Stress Cream Mask, $85, www.zitomer.com.

This moisturizing mask with plant extracts promises to detoxify and soften skin. ”Just the act of applying a face mask should relax you,” she said. ”The orange flower and rosewater in this mask should be calming and nonirritating, while the clay would exfoliate dry skin for a fresher appearance.”

Estée Lauder Stress Relief Eye Mask, $29.50, www.esteelauder.com.

”The aloe and cucumber in these eye pads are great natural anti-inflammatories that will calm skin, and the retinol should help restore collagen production,” Dr. Madfes said. ”The hydrating effect will make the skin look better, and just by putting pads on your face, you’ll be shutting your eyes and getting a few minutes of relaxation.”

Molton Brown Seamoss Stress Relieving Hydrosoak, $29, www.moltonbrown.co.uk.

”Anybody who makes time to have a bath is going to get stress relief,” Dr. Madfes said. ”The seaweed extracts are both anti-inflammatory and good hydrators, while the Dead Sea salt is a great exfoliator.”

Skyn Iceland Anti-Stress Oral Spray With Angelica Archangelica, $25, www.skyniceland.com.

”If you stop, take a deep breath and spray this in your mouth, it’s very cooling and calming,” Dr. Madfes said. Green tea, an antioxidant, may help reduce damage from sun, stress and pollution.

Photos: ESTÉE LAUDER; CELLCOSMET; SKYN ICELAND; ORIGINS; MOLTON BROWN

Drawing (Drawing by Dynamic Duo Studio)

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

So why is the obvious truth that it applies in politics, demonstrated by Goebbels, the Reverend Jones in Guatemala and all kinds of misleaders of humanity in the past century, so completely overlooked by critics in the scientific debate in AIDS?

Perhaps it is simply too ad hominem to mention as the likely answer to the big question that jumps to mind when anyone hears for the first time about the HIV?AIDS paradigm challenge: why and how can a global consensus in science be so wrong?

POSTSCRIPT: Here are the letters in the Times which followed the article, which show that readers got the point:

Making Our Own Reality

To the Editor:

Re “This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis” (Nov. 22): The discovery of top-down brain processing is the biological confirmation of a philosophical truism: we make our own reality. It also helps explain the power of political indoctrination, and the power of hope.

Goebbels knew it; so did John Lennon. The ideas that non-Aryan people are subhuman, or that world peace is attainable are equally absurd, but I would prefer to believe the latter.

As the writer Kurt Vonnegut observed, we are what we pretend to be, so we might as well pretend to be good.

John Grannis

Montclair, N.J.

•

To the Editor:

Re “This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis”: The first thing that came to mind when I read that some people are susceptible to suggestion is the trance some religious fundamentalists get into. The article goes on to say that suggestion changes what people see, hear, feel and believe to be true.

That would explain the apparent contradiction in our most recent presidential election, where logic seemed to be turned on its head.

Was that 10 to 15 percent who could have been in a hypnotic trance enough to turn around an election and in essence undermine (undermind) the democratic process?

Mark Gretch

Raleigh, N.C.

•

To the Editor:

Re “This Is Your Brain”: The first thing that came to mind when I read that some people are susceptible to suggestion is the trance some religious fundamentalists get into.

The article goes on to say that suggestion changes what people see, hear, feel and believe to be true. That would explain the apparent contradiction in our most recent presidential election, where logic seemed to be turned on its head.

Was that 10 to 15 percent who could have been in a hypnotic trance enough to turn around an election and in essence undermine (undermind) the democratic process?

Mark Gretch

Raleigh, N.C.


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