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Circumcision cuts African AIDS! – Times


Editors excited about way for heterosexuals to evade HIV

Millions will want the $20 operation, major funds ready to give – but is Padian so wrong?

Precisely why the editors of the Times made the HIV-circumcision story the top story on their Web front page and top right hand above the fold print edition front page headline yesterday is a matter of speculation, but we assume it is because the story involves a) heterosexuals b) African sex c) danger to the genitals d) a simple but effective solution to AIDS and e) women’s revenge (photo, left, is of a Somali woman parading against Ethiopia with an AK-47).

Not to mention it allows readers to indulge their envious prejudice, which the Times editors and reporters like to reinforce monthly, against Africans for supposed sexual excesses.

Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” contains an unnerving but hilarious account of his own Xhosa circumcision, by spear blade, as a teenager. Although he was supposed to shout, “I am a man!” he grimaced in pain, he wrote…Dr. Mark Dybul, executive director of President Bush’s $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, said in a statement that his agency “will support implementation of safe medical male circumcision for H.I.V./AIDS prevention” if world health agencies recommend it…

AIDS experts immediately hailed the finding. “This is very exciting news,” said Daniel Halperin, an H.I.V. specialist at the Harvard Center for Population and Development, who has argued that circumcision slows the spread of AIDS in the parts of Africa where it is common.

In an interview from Zimbabwe, he added, “I have no doubt that as word of this gets around, millions of African men will want to get circumcised, and that will save many lives.”

The Times editors are so excited about this revelation (a questionable result which has been around for some time) that they devoted an editorial to it as well, Rare Good News About AIDS comparing it to “the holy grail” of AIDS research, the long heralded but still AWOL vaccine:

For years, the holy grail of AIDS prevention has been a vaccine, even one that is only 50 to 60 percent effective. A real vaccine is years away. But as of yesterday, we know its near equivalent exists. International donors and governments should join together to spread the good news about circumcision and make the procedure available everywhere.

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The New York Times

Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By

December 14, 2006

Editorial

Rare Good News About AIDS

The announcement yesterday about the results in two African studies of male circumcision may be the most important development in AIDS research since the debut of antiretroviral drugs more than a decade ago. The National Institutes of Health halted studies in Uganda and Kenya when it became overwhelmingly clear that circumcision significantly reduces men’s chances of catching H.I.V.

The studies recruited men willing to be circumcised and randomly assigned them to immediate surgery or to a control group. In both studies, the circumcised men acquired half the number of H.I.V. infections as their uncircumcised counterparts did. The studies confirm the results of a trial that ended last year in South Africa, in which circumcision prevented 60 to 70 percent of new AIDS infections.

Until now, efforts at AIDS prevention have largely failed. Little wonder. It requires people to resolve — every day — either not to have sex or to use condoms. Circumcision, by contrast, is a one-time procedure. It is familiar and widely accepted all over the world, even by groups who do not practice it. And safe circumcision does not require a doctor. Community workers and traditional healers can be trained to do the operation safely and given the correct tools.

Based on the South African results, groups like the United Nations AIDS program and the World Health Organization were already discussing how they might promote circumcision in countries around the world. They should now move as quickly as possible.

Governments and international donors should also work urgently to provide new financing to help high-risk countries train community workers to do safe circumcision. News of the South African results has already led to a surge in demand for the procedure across Africa, and clinics that now offer it have long waiting lists.

Any campaign will have to be coupled with warnings that circumcision offers only partial protection against H.I.V. and should not become a license for risky sex. Governments must continue to promote condoms and partner reduction.

For years, the holy grail of AIDS prevention has been a vaccine, even one that is only 50 to 60 percent effective. A real vaccine is years away. But as of yesterday, we know its near equivalent exists. International donors and governments should join together to spread the good news about circumcision and make the procedure available everywhere.

Even if one is not a dissenter from the holey (as in Swiss cheese) HIV∫AIDS paradigm, this initiative looks fat headed. Soap would achieve the same result, any doctor will tell you. And do we really need to do unaesthetic surgery on millions of Africans to prevent the transmission of a virus which after billions of dollars worth of research has not yet been proved to cause any harm, although that assumption is built into most of the thinking on the subject? Are trainloads of foreskins going to be useful for interferon or other immune factors, is that it?

Anyhow, as far as HIV∫AIDS science critics are concerned, circumcision is a non solution to a non problem, ever since Nancy Padian demonstrated in her landmark 1997 study the heterosexual non transmission of HIV.

Of course, Padian has had to ‘clarify’ this result since it was noticed and taken up by HIV∫AIDS dissidents and used as a club to bash the paradigm and its defenders, one which knocks away the basic prop of the global pandemic. Without significant heterosexual transmission, there is no global pandemic and no need to circumcise millions of Africans.

Padian’s clarification was published a few months ago on the leading AIDS truthiness site run by John P. Moore of Cornell and other HIV apologists, AIDSTruth.org, the specific page being HIV heterosexual transmission and the “Padian paper myth”,and it reads as follows, with our corrective comments:

HIV heterosexual transmission and the “Padian paper myth”One of the more egregious myths perpetrated by AIDS denialists is that HIV is not heterosexually transmitted.

The debate on the validity of the HIV∫AIDS paradigm is a hall of mirrors, where the defense of the paradigm is very often conducted by co-opting the arguments of the critics and turning them back on their originators (who do the same to them, rather more tellingly, by pointing out that it is the paradigm defenders who are the true “denialists”, for their ostrich like approach to the myriad objections to HIV∫AIDS).

In this case, the word “myth” as in “The AIDS Myth” or “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS” is appropriated, but rather ineffectively, since it inevitably calls attention to the possibility that the HV∫AIDS paradigm itself may be the greatest myth of all in the field.

Part of the “evidence” that underlies this myth is a 1997 paper by Dr. Nancy Padian and her colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco (Padian NS, Shiboski SC, Glass SO, Vittinghoff E. 1997. Heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Northern California: results from a ten-year study. Am J Epidemiol 146, 350-357) (1).

A thorn in the flesh of the paradigm apologists indeed, this study, for its results accounted for the biggest flaw in the HIV∫AIDS explanation for the outbreak of immune deficiency in the US, which is that it cannot explain away the absence of a heterosexual AIDS epidemic in this country, and moreover, it is a study which is now a prime justification for rejecting the standard interpretation of events in Africa, which is that a heterosexually transmitted HIV pandemic has swept the continent and the world.

The denialists either misinterpret or misunderstand this paper. Some internet sites/Blogs even go so far as to suggest that the “HIV/AIDS establishment” (sic) finds Dr. Padian’s work inconvenient and has suppressed it, to the detriment of her professional career.

On the contrary, the skill with which Dr Padian has navigated between the Scylla of the establishment disowning her and her research and the Charybdis of renouncing it herself is a marvel to behold and an inspiration for the many other establishment researchers who have come out with embarrassing results which contradict the paradigm, such as those who came out wih the HAART and the JAMA studies this summer, and Dr Gisselquist.

The following commentary from Dr. Padian addresses HIV heterosexual transmission, discusses what her seminal 1997 paper does actually say and, ipso facto, speaks to the absurdity of the notion that her work has been suppressed, or is inconvenient to other AIDS researchers.Heterosexual transmission of HIV

Nancy Padian, PhD

University of California, San Francisco

HIV is unquestionably transmitted through heterosexual intercourse.

This kind of statement is increasingly a characteristic of HIV∫AIDS papers which these days typically come up with findings which do not fit into conventional wisdom. First, there is this kind of obligatory obeisance to the reigning belief, the sine qua non of HIV∫AIDS research, which is that all symptoms are first and foremost caused by the dread Virus itself, however much other factors may enter into the picture. For example, patients may die of drug effects such as liver rot, but HIV is really the cause, even though liver problems are not on the CDC list of HIV∫AIDS symptoms.

Indeed, heterosexual intercourse is now responsible for 70-80% of all HIV transmissions worldwide (2). The current likelihood of male to female infection after a single exposure to HIV is 0.01-0.32% (2, 3), and the current likelihood of female to male infection after a single exposure is 0.01-0.1% (2). These estimates are mostly derived from studies in the developed world. However, a man or a woman can become HIV-positive after just one sexual contact.

Rates of between 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 3,000 , or between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 1,000 for woman to man, are not high enough to sustain a spreading epidemic.

In developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, several factors (co-infection with other sexually transmitted diseases, circumcision practices, poor acceptance of condoms, patterns of sexual partner selection, locally circulating viral subtypes, high viral loads among those who are infected, etc.) can increase the likelihood of heterosexual transmission to 20% or even higher (4).

These factors might raise the transmission rate but to a level of 2000 per 10,000 – ie 2,000 times as much – is unlikely, on the face of it.

Evidence that specifically documents the heterosexual transmission of HIV comes from studies of HIV-discordant couples (i.e., couples in a stable, monogamous relationship where one partner is infected and the other is not); over time, HIV transmission occurs (5).

Not in this study.

Other studies have traced the transmission of HIV through networks of sexual partners (6-9). Additional evidence comes from intervention studies that, for example, promote condom use or encourage reductions in the numbers of sexual partners: the documented success of these interventions is because they prevent the sexual transmission of HIV (1,10,11).

Such results are inconsistent wth her study which was the largest ever conducted.

In short, the evidence for the sexual transmission of HIV is well documented, conclusive, and based on the standard, uncontroversial methods and practices of medical science. Individuals who cite the 1997 Padian et al. publication (1) or data from other studies by our research group in an attempt to substantiate the myth that HIV is not transmitted sexually are ill informed, at best. Their misuse of these results is misleading, irresponsible, and potentially injurious to the public.

The intemperate language suggests a political and emotionally driven stance, and that an unproven belief (that HIV is the cause of AIDS) is acting as a premise in addressing the counterarguments. Here Padian is protesting that her study does not suggest that the paradigm is incorrect. Methinks she doth protest too much. The reason is that her results are in direct conflict with the paradigm. Substantial heterosexual transmission is a pillar of the HIV∫AIDS paradigm, a sine qua non of the supposed global panademic. Her study demonstrated it was so insubstantial that it didn’t appear at all.

A common practice is to quote out of context a sentence from the Abstract of the 1997 paper: “Infectivity for HIV through heterosexual transmission is low”. Anyone who takes the trouble to read and understand the paper should appreciate that it reports on a study of behavioral interventions such as those mentioned above: Specifically, discordant couples were strongly counseled to use condoms and practice safe sex (1,12).

As many as 47 couples did not consistently use condoms or any other means of interfering with transmission for up to six years.

That we witnessed no HIV transmissions after the intervention documents the success of the interventions in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV.

Again, as many as 47 couples did not consistently use condoms or any other means of interfering with transmission for up to six years.

The sentence in the Abstract reflects this success — nothing more, nothing less. Any attempt to refer to this or other of our publications and studies to bolster the fallacy that HIV is not transmitted heterosexually or homosexually is a gross misrepresentation of the facts and a travesty of the research that I have been involved in for more than a decade.

To say “Nothing more, nothing less” is blatantly misleading, and we suspect his was written by John P. Moore, rather than Padian. In fact as many as 47 couples did not use condoms or any other means of interfering with transmission. Yet still for these couples there was no transmission during the study. This without question demonstrated the “fallacy” in heterosexual transmission. There was none for these couple in six years.

If safe sex practices are followed, and if there are no complicating factors such as those mentioned above, the risk of HIV transmission can be as low as our studies suggest…IF.

Of course, this is presumably true. Using condoms does block transmission of any live organism pretty effectively, depending on using them properly. But the problem is that her study showed that even if safe sex practices were not followed there was also nil transmission.

But many people misunderstand probability: they think that if the chance of misfortune is one in six, that they can take five chances without the likelihood of injury. This “Russian Roulette” misapprehension is dangerous to themselves and to others.

The Russian Roulette factor only means that an individual can escape the average, and possibly, even if the chance of an event is 1 in 1000, hit the 1 time the first time, or the 1000th time, or never. This doesn’t change the average, which in this case was nil, a rather conclusive result which shows the chances of transmission of the supposed agent are far too low to initiate any epidemic, since according to her study, normal healthy heterosexuals are virtually incapable of transmitting HIV even if they are not taking any precautions.

Furthermore, complicating factors are often not evident or obvious in a relationship, so their perceived absence should not be counted on as an excuse not to practice safe sex.

The phrasing of this remark is telling. Although it is on the surface merely a practical observation, it continues the fundamental defense of the paradigm in religious terms ie have faith (and fear) that there is something there even though you cannot see any evidence for it.

Finally, it is a complete fallacy to allege or insinuate that this work has been “suppressed” or “ignored” by the AIDS community or unsupported by UCSF or any other institution with which I have worked. To the contrary, these findings have been seen as central and seminal to the problem of heterosexual transmission rates and the development of interventions to lower the rate of transmission and infection worldwide, many of which are being conducted by my research group. The success of my working group has been fueled, not hindered, by our research on the heterosexual transmission of HIV, attested to by our long record of peer-reviewed publications.

Yes, the record of Padian’s work as fundamentally disruptive to the conventional wisdom in HIV∫AIDS yet somehow turned into a piece which fits into it without a ripple is a prime exhibit of how HIV∫AIDS’s double think, Orwellian fantasy works. While the embarrassing inconsistency of her results is recognized and various escape hatches are opened – genital sores, African “dry sex”, HIV piggy backing on other diseases and so on – Nancy Padian has managed to stay a member of the club despite her study being the best argument of all against belief in the paradigm.

Nancy Padian is a Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California and she has worked on the heterosexual transmission of HIV since 1984. She is a frequent participant in annual NIH Office of AIDS Research planning workshops and has chaired the workshop on international research for the last four years. She is an elected member to the Institute of Medicine and the American Epidemiology Society. She served as vice-chair of the University of California task force on AIDS and currently directs international research for UCSF Global Health Sciences, the UCSF AIDS Research Institute and she is co-director of the Center for Reproductive Health Research and Policy.

An impressive list of appointments which is a tribute to the political skills of Dr Padian and the way she has exchanged reinterpretation of her results to conform with the paradigm for membership of the club, a club which like the English aristocracy knows that the best way to defeat revolutionaries is to bring them in from the cold.

Unkind cut would save very few

Going back to look at the paper, we find something interesting – the numbers involved in this great halving of the risk are very small fractions of the population.

The two trials were being conducted by researchers from universities in Illinois, Maryland, Canada, Uganda and Kenya and involved nearly 3 000 heterosexual men in Kisumu, Kenya and nearly 5 000 in Rakai, Uganda. None were infected with HIV. They were divided into circumcised and uncircumcised groups, given safe sex advice [although many presumably did not take it] and retested regularly.The trials were stopped this week by the NIH Data Safety and Monitoring Board after data showed that the Kenyan men had a 53 percent reduction in new HIV infection.

Twenty-two of the 1 393 circumcised men in that study caught the disease, compared with 47 of the 1 391 uncircumcised men. In Uganda, the reduction was 48 percent.

Even if the figures for transmission reached somehow in this and other studies are valid, and HIV is a threat backed by the literature, instead of being called into question by even paradigm-based papers without valid rebuttal, mass circumcision seems an overreaction.

For example, in the two trials, the trumpeted halving of the rate of new HIV infection was 53 per cent in Kenya and 48 per cent in Uganda, which sounds good but in fact represented only 25 men in 1393 total saved from HIV, a reduction of less thn 2%.

Of course, the remaining question is how accurate was the testing and what did it represent if the difficulty in transmission is as high as Nancy Padian found it was in her study? Presumably the tests are cross reacting with other transmissible diseases, the most likely one being TB, which is very widespread in Africa.

Nancy Padian Hero of AIDS

Encounterimg her at the party following the HIV/NET trials conference in Washington this last spring, we congratulated Nancy Padian on her outstanding research, which had made her a hero of AIDS in our view. “Oh I don’t think I am that!” she demurred, “Why do you say so?”

We explained it was because she had been the first to demonstrate that HIV did not transmit heterosexually very significantly if at all.

She seemed taken aback, and after gathering her wits, pronounced feebly, “But it transmits more in Africa!”

Could it be that Dr Padian has a special interest in emphasizing heterosexual transmission in favor of her own strategy in combating HIV transmission in Africa?

Surely not. But in 2002 she won the largest single private grant ever made to UCSF, $28 million, from the Gates Foundation, “to examine the effectiveness of the diaphragm in slowing the spread of the AIDS virus.”

Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s HIV/AIDS and TB Program at the time was Helene Gayle, who said “finding additional barrier methods that are female-controlled is a public health priority.”

Not, of course, if heterosexual transmission without any barrier is virtually absent.

Padian’s references:

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1. Padian NS, Shiboski SC, Glass SO, Vittinghoff E. Heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Northern California: results from a ten-year study. Am J Epidemiol 1997;146:350-7.

2. Downs AM, De Vincenzi I. Probability of heterosexual transmission of HIV: relationship to the number of unprotected sexual contacts. European Study Group in Heterosexual Transmission of HIV. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1996 Apr 1;11(4):388-95.

3. Wiley JA, Herschhkorn SJ, Padian NS. Heterogeneity in the probability of HIV transmission per sexual contact: the case of male-to-female transmission in penile-vaginal intercourse. Stat Med 1989;8:93-102.

4. Gray RH, Wawer MJ, Brookmeyer R, Sewankambo NK, Serwadda D, Wabwire-Mangen F, Lutalo T, Li X, vanCott T, Quinn TC; Rakai Project Team. Probability of HIV-1 transmission per coital act in monogamous, heterosexual, HIV-1-discordant couples in Rakai, Uganda. Lancet. 2001 Apr 14;357(9263):1149-53.

5. Ellerbock TV, Lieb S, Harrington PE, et al. Heterosexually transmitted human immunodeficiency virus infection among pregnant women in a rural Florida community. N Engl J Med 1992;327:1704-9.

6. Hunter DJ. AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa: the epidemiology of heterosexual transmission and the prospects for prevention. Epidemiology. 1993 Jan;4(1):63-72. Review.

7. Venkataramana CB, Sarada PV. Extent and speed of spread of HIV infection in India through the commercial sex networks: a perspective. Trop Med Int Health. 2001 Dec;6(12):1040-61.

8. Adimora AA, Schoenbach VJ, Doherty IA. HIV and African Americans in the southern United States: sexual networks and social context. Sex Transm Dis. 2006 Jul;33(7 Suppl):S39-45.

9. Latora V, Nyamba A, Simpore J, Sylvette B, Diane S, Sylvere B, Musumeci S. Network of sexual contacts and sexually transmitted HIV infection in Burkina Faso. J Med Virol. 2006 Jun;78(6):724-9.

10. Ghys PD, Diallo MO, Ettiegne-Traore V, Kale K, Tawil O, Carael M, et al. Increase in condom use and decline in HIV and sexually transmitted diseases among female sex workers in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 1991-1998. AIDS 2002;16(2):251-58.

11. Katzenstein DA, McFarland W, Mbizo M, Latif AS, Machekano R, Parsonnet J, et al. Peer education among factory workers in Zimbabwe: providing a sustainable HIV prevention intervention. Paper presented at the 12th International Conference on AIDS, Geneva, June 28-July 3, 1998.

12. Padian NS, O’Brien TR, Chang Y, Glass S, Francis DP. Prevention of heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus through couple counseling. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 1993 Sep;6(9):1043-8

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The New York Times December 14, 2006 Circumcision Halves H.I.V. Risk, U.S. Agency Finds By Donald G. McNeil Jr., who is a reliable conduit at the Times for all official pronouncements on HIV∫AIDS, SARS, Bird Flu, and similar alarms.

(show)
The New York Times

December 14, 2006

Circumcision Halves H.I.V. Risk, U.S. Agency Finds

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

Circumcision appears to reduce a man’s risk of contracting AIDS from heterosexual sex by half, United States government health officials said yesterday, and the directors of the two largest funds for fighting the disease said they would consider paying for circumcisions in high-risk countries.

The announcement was made by officials of the National Institutes of Health as they halted two clinical trials, in Kenya and Uganda, on the ground that not offering circumcision to all the men taking part would be unethical. The success of the trials confirmed a study done last year in South Africa.

AIDS experts immediately hailed the finding. “This is very exciting news,” said Daniel Halperin, an H.I.V. specialist at the Harvard Center for Population and Development, who has argued that circumcision slows the spread of AIDS in the parts of Africa where it is common.

In an interview from Zimbabwe, he added, “I have no doubt that as word of this gets around, millions of African men will want to get circumcised, and that will save many lives.”

Uncircumcised men are thought to be more susceptible because the underside of the foreskin is rich in Langerhans cells, sentinel cells of the immune system, which attach easily to the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS. The foreskin also often suffers small tears during intercourse.

But experts also cautioned that circumcision is no cure-all. It only lessens the chances that a man will catch the virus; it is expensive compared to condoms, abstinence or other methods; and the surgery has serious risks if performed by folk healers using dirty blades, as often happens in rural Africa.

Circumcision is “not a magic bullet, but a potentially important intervention,” said Dr. Kevin M. De Cock, director of H.I.V./AIDS for the World Health Organization.

Sex education messages for young men need to make it clear that “this does not mean that you have an absolute protection,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, an AIDS researcher and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Circumcision should be used with other prevention methods, he said, and it does nothing to prevent spread by anal sex or drug injection, ways in which the virus commonly spreads in the United States.

The two trials, conducted by researchers from universities in Illinois, Maryland, Canada, Uganda and Kenya, involved nearly 3,000 heterosexual men in Kisumu, Kenya, and nearly 5,000 in Rakai, Uganda. None were infected with H.I.V. They were divided into circumcised and uncircumcised groups, given safe sex advice (although many presumably did not take it), and retested regularly.

The trials were stopped this week by the N.I.H. Data Safety and Monitoring Board after data showed that the Kenyan men had a 53 percent reduction in new H.I.V. infection. Twenty-two of the 1,393 circumcised men in that study caught the disease, compared with 47 of the 1,391 uncircumcised men.

In Uganda, the reduction was 48 percent.

Those results echo the finding of a trial completed last year in Orange Farm, a township in South Africa, financed by the French government, which demonstrated a reduction of 60 percent among circumcised men.

The two largest agencies dedicated to fighting AIDS said they would now be willing to pay for circumcisions, which they have not before because there was too little evidence that it worked.

Dr. Richard G. A. Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has almost $5 billion in pledges, said in a television interview that if a country submitted plans to conduct sterile circumcisions, “I think it’s very likely that our technical panel would approve it.”

Dr. Mark Dybul, executive director of President Bush’s $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, said in a statement that his agency “will support implementation of safe medical male circumcision for H.I.V./AIDS prevention” if world health agencies recommend it.

He also warned that it was only one new weapon in the fight, adding, “Prevention efforts must reinforce the A.B.C. approach — abstain, be faithful, and correct and consistent use of condoms.”

Researchers have long noted that parts of Africa where circumcision is common — particularly the Muslim countries of West Africa — have much lower AIDS rates, while those in southern Africa, where circumcision is rare, have the highest.

But drawing conclusions was always confounded by other regional factors, like strict Shariah law in some Muslim areas, rape and genocide in East Africa, polygamy, rites that require widows to have sex with a relative, patronage of prostitutes by miners, and men’s insistence on dangerous “dry sex” — with the woman’s vaginal walls robbed of secretions with desiccating herbs.

Outside Muslim regions, circumcision is spotty. In South Africa, for example, the Xhosa people circumcise teenage boys, while Zulus do not. AIDS is common in both tribes.

Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” contains an unnerving but hilarious account of his own Xhosa circumcision, by spear blade, as a teenager. Although he was supposed to shout, “I am a man!” he grimaced in pain, he wrote.

But not all initiation ceremonies are laughing matters. Every year, some South African teenagers die from infections, and the use of one blade on many young men may help spread AIDS.

In recent years, as word has spread that circumcision might be protective, many southern African men have sought it out. A Zambian hospital offered $3 circumcisions last year, and Swaziland trained 60 doctors to do them for $40 after waiting lists at its national hospital grew.

“Private practitioners also do it,” Dr. Halperin said. “In some places, it’s $20; in others, much more. Lots of the wealthy elite have already done it. It prevents S.T.D.’s, it’s seen as cleaner, sex is better, women like it. I predict that a lot of men who can’t afford private clinics will start clamoring for it.” (S.T.D.’s are sexually transmitted diseases.)

Male circumcision also benefits women. For example, a study of the medical records of 300 Ugandan couples last year estimated that circumcised men infected with H.I.V. were about 30 percent less likely to transmit it to their female partners.

Earlier studies on Western men have shown that circumcision significantly reduces the rate at which men infect women with the virus that causes cervical cancer. A study published in 2002 in The New England Journal of Medicine found that uncircumcised men were about three times as likely as circumcised ones with a similar number of sexual partners to carry the human papillomavirus.

The suspected mechanism was the same — cells on the inside of the foreskin were also more susceptible to that virus, which is not closely related to H.I.V.

139 Responses to “Circumcision cuts African AIDS! – Times”

  1. Otis Says:

    NAR readers who haven’t already seen it, may be interested in this post from YBYLof this past Monday about an ongoing trial in Canada that is considerably more newsworthy because of the protagonist(s) than the similar ongoing Australian case.

    The comments to the post contain what I consider to be the appropriate response to the NY Times nonsense above, that in my view only helps to destroy whatever credibility the AIDS lies has in Black America every bit as much as Moore has helped to destroy it among thinking people of all persuasions.

  2. chase Says:

    Great post, TS. One thing I would draw your attention to — while you rile against the “sexual excesses” assumed about Africans, you do not do so regarding the “sexual excesses” asssumed about western gay men. Why so?

  3. Truthseeker Says:

    Chase, the record indicates from personal testimony of authorities in the subject, ie men who participated, that the bathhouses of the US in the late 70s turned into platforms for sexual excess in number and variety of partners never seen before in human history, fueled by drug taking of unprecedented volume involving new ‘designer’ drugs which included amyl nitrite and butyl nitrite which specifically enabled gay sex of a high frequency.

    All evidence indicates that this high volume of drug taking was the source of the outbreak of severe immune deficiency noticed in gays in the early eighties which was first called GRID and then “AIDS” and finally “HIV/AIDS”, which misleadingly implies that the source of the immune deficiency and its resulting infections is proven to be “HIV”, “Human Immunodeficiency Virus”, as Gallo’s HTLV-III was renamed to seal the deal, when really it was the drug taking and just possibly the sex, though we don’t really think so.

    This story accounts for all parts of the history of “AIDS” in this country, including especially the lack of spread of the syndrome to the heterosexual community, and the alternative story, the conventional wisdom that GRID and AIDS were caused by HIV, does not successfully account for any of it, especially the lack of heterosexual spread.

    Just how many gays were involved in this drug fueled bathhouse orgy sub culture must be reflected in the numbers that contracted AIDS, which must have depended on the degree and amount of participation in each case, with the heavy drug users ruining their immune systems early, the others later, giving rise to the “latent period” which has extended over the years from an initial few years to 12 years average, supposedly, today.

    Given the number of sexually mature gay males in the US – is it 6 million? – then you have a rough idea of the percentage that participated in this urban orgy. 1/12th? Since the fabled Harold Channer party in NYC was last night we lack the energy to nail these figures down at the moment.

    What is it in this story that you wish to deny? Given that the numbers of AIDS victims have declined, and that Kaposi’s Sarcoma is much less a factor than before, we must assume that the heyday of this subculture is long gone, although we wait for your report from your extensive reconnaissance of bathhouses across the country for an update.

    If you are worried about the reputation of gays in general you must think that everyone assumes that all gays were involved in this unprecedented partying, but why should that be? It is just as unintelligent to think so as to think that all Africans are poor and ill, or that all gays are artistic geniuses.

  4. chase Says:

    TS: exactly what percentage of the gay population do you think the following refers to, because that’s really the point here:

    Chase, the record indicates from personal testimony of authorities in the subject, ie men who participated, that the bathhouses of the US in the late 70s turned into platforms for sexual excess in number and variety of partners never seen before in human history, fueled by drug taking of unprecedented volume involving new ‘designer’ drugs which included amyl nitrite and butyl nitrite which specifically enabled gay sex of a high frequency.

    You’ve implied many times that you believe the percentage to be high. I’ve told you many times that research demonstrates it is quite low. And men who participated would be very likely to overestimate the prevalance of such practices — obviously. Anecdote, anecdote, and more anecdote do not add up a feasible hypothesis. There are actual studies about these things, TS. Why not try doing a little research? You might start with the PsychInfo databse.

  5. chase Says:

    And sorry for the double post, but if you don’t see your own issue in the following statements you wrote, then I can do no more:

    platforms for sexual excess

    number and variety (?varaiety?) of partners never seen before in human history (really? in all of human history, everwhere, forever and ever?)

    drug taking of unprecedented volume (any data? — actual data — on that “unprecendented volume”)

    gay sex of a high frequency (what do you consider high frequency, TS)

    All of that is frankly, hyperbolic conjecture that should make you worthy to publish something on African sex in the Times. Or perhaps a gay pulp porno novel. But to pass it off as fact — well that simply embarassing.

  6. chase Says:

    Just a little on the 60s, which was apparently, a time of unprecedented heterosexual drug use and sexual freedom. Weird, when you consider that gay drug use at the end of the 70s was “unprecedented” and that their sexuality was in “excess” after the Decade of Love just prior. Interesting too about the designer drugs from the 60s.

    From Wikipedia:
    The rapid rise of a “New Left” employed the rhetoric of Marxism but had little organizational connection with older Marxist organizations such as the Communist Party, and even less connection with the supposed focus of Marxist politics, the organized labor movement, and consisting of ephemeral campus-based Trotskyist, Maoist and anarchist groups, some of which by the end of the 1960s had turned to terrorism.

    The overlapping, but somewhat different, movement of youth cultural radicalism was manifested by the hippies and the counter-culture, whose emblematic moments were the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967 and the Woodstock Festival in 1969.

    The sub-culture, associated with this movement, spread the recreational use of cannabis and other drugs, particularly new semi-synthetic psychedelic drugs such as LSD.

    The breakdown among young people of conventional sexual morality led to the flourishing of the sexual revolution. The era heralded the rejection and a reformation by hippies of traditional Christian notions on spirituality, leading to the widespread introduction of Eastern and ethnic religious thinking to western values and concepts concerning ones religious and spiritual development.

    Aww. And I thought us gays invented it all! But no, have to admit, that the straights had jump on us when it comes to wild partying and sex! Guess you can’t be first (and therefore “unprecedented” in everything.

  7. AF Says:

    Chase, I get where you’re coming from, but isn’t it a little unrealistic to expect TS to come up with the information you’ve asked for. Does it even exist?

  8. bizzmarky Says:

    Remember, when we speak of gay sex, we are speaking of only 1/2 of gays. The CDC says they have never confirmed transmission of HIV by female on female sex. Lesbians aren’t even a risk group. But a few have contracted HIV through sex with a bisexual man or dirty needles, so says the CDC. Former heroin addict Nicole Ritchie is mysteriously having trouble gaining weight, down to 85 lbs. at her arrest. Evidence that drug use may cause wasting a la AIDS?

  9. chase Says:

    AF — the studies exist, yes. I’ll see what I can do to hunt some down. And bizz, it ain’t even half — generous estimates put it at perhaps 20%. Nicole Ritchie is an anorexic. She’s been clean for 4 years. Anorexics do indeed resemble those with wasting. Ever been to an inpatient mental unit? Lots of anorexics who are very sick — the majority (vast) who never used drugs. Better argument for the effects of malnutrition.

  10. chase Says:

    Also, Bizz, you think Nicole Ritchie ever shared a needle with anyone? Why would she? She wasn’t a cracked-up street whore — she’s a rich kid from Malibu. She could buy all the clean needles she wants. Maybe she even had a beautiful silver plated syringe! Many wealthy anorexics have lovely long silver parfait spoons they use to vomit (bulimorexics). No kidding. In any case, she’s much more likely to die of coronary event than of anything else at this point. Anorexics have terrible EKGs. They’re walking heart attacks. It’s one of the saddest mental illnesses I’ve ever seen.

  11. Marcel Says:

    Chase, people in the sixties were not having the kind of frenzied, orgiastic nonstop sex that the AIDS pioneer gays were having in the early 80s. They also weren’t snorting poppers. They were just having normal sex and celebrating their liberation from the sexual repression of the past. Mostly they were just using marijuana, a far cry from the ultra-toxic poppers.

    Only at Plato’s Retreat were they having orgiastic sex, and those weren’t even hippies, just regular horny guys. And the number of people who took part was probably a statistical grain of sand compared to the beach of the population.

  12. Marcel Says:

    Why are we endorsing a measure that only cuts the infection rate in half? If we were really serious about stopping African AIDS, we would surgically remove the Africans’ testicles as well as their foreskin. It’s well known that the testicles are a favorite hiding place for HIV, and this would eradicate many HIVs in the HIV-positive Africans.

    For the HIV-negative African men, it may be better to simply surgically remove the entire penis, not just the foreskin. This would make it difficult or impossible for them to have the Dry Sex that so many of them crave, and would put an end to the epidemic in one stroke.

    I’m sure that most African men would eagerly agree to these medical procedures that can save them from AIDS.

    Halfway measures will never end AIDS, and I intend to propose that the Gates Foundation and perhaps the UN Population Agency fund this program.

  13. Truthseeker Says:

    platforms for sexual excess

    number and variety of partners never seen before in human history (really? in all of human history, everwhere, forever and ever?)

    drug taking of unprecedented volume (any data? — actual data — on that “unprecedented volume”)

    gay sex of a high frequency (what do you consider high frequency, TS)

    One of the few entertainments in this increasingly repetitive if not deceased equine topic of what is wrong with HIV∫AIDS science is that you can be counted on to come charging out of your office at the slightest hint of moral stricture of gay behavior, Chase, but in fact we are speaking from a medical and scientific point of view here, though admittedly well aware of your possible reaction.

    In answer to your fact checking:

    a) “sexual excess” as in more than a thousand partners a year claimed by participants, which exceeds norms by a considerable amount according to our inflamed imagination, unless gays are enjoying three bouts a night on a consistent basis, whch even envious straights do not suppose

    b) modern drugs were not available in previous eras.

    You’ve implied many times that you believe the percentage to be high. I’ve told you many times that research demonstrates it is quite low. And men who participated would be very likely to overestimate the prevalance of such practices — obviously. Anecdote, anecdote, and more anecdote do not add up a feasible hypothesis. There are actual studies about these things, TS. Why not try doing a little research?

    If you wish to etablish that the numbers/percentage of gay men indulging themselves in an enjoyable but recklessly self injurious manner in US bathhouses in the late 70s is “low” or “overestimated”, and you do not have any personal experience of the phenomenon, ie anecdotes to regale us with, feel free to research it if you wish.

    We have no opinion or much interest in the matter and have never stated it was “low” or “high”, whatever that would mean. We merely groped towards a common sense way to estimate it, since this seems to be a major emotional concern of yours.

    Nor did we say or care whether it was morally or socially reprehensible, though this is justifiably a personal concern of yours and a social concern of gays in general. Absolving the group of the stricture is surely the motivation for so many to accept HIV∫AIDS think, no questions asked, and blindly rush into the lion’s mouth of dangerous, NIH endorsed drugs intended to save their necks but evidently liable to end their lives.

    This is a pact with the devil far more lethal than screwing literally a thousand or more partners a year, which some participants have claimed, and taking enough enabling amyl and butyl nitrite to give themselves Kaposi’s Sarcoma, according to John Lauritsen, not to mention amphetamines and other stimulants and depressants and neglecting proper diet. Read Lauritsen or Kramer if you are skeptical.

    How many people did this is not relevant unless there is a huge gap between the number that did and the number that came down with immune dysfunction. Are you suggesting this? Or is it that you believe that the paradigm defeating science we have so liberally quoted from the literature is wrong and that HIV caused their problems? If so, which part of the scientific literature retailed repeatedly on this blog do you believe is misleading?

    If your concern is non scientific, but rather to rescue the reputation of gays, that is not a topic this blog addresses except to note that it is a pr concern which has driven the gay community into the arms of the devil.

    Maybe it is time for said gay community to make a special effort to put social and political issues aside and establish the scientific facts of a medical issue first, before emoting.

    But wait a minute, that is exactly what you are calling for, is it not, Chase? Then we happily agree.

  14. Marcel Says:

    For white HIV positives, we have a different solution:

    Permanent Condom For HIV Positives Soon to be a Reality

    Science News Update
    January 23, 2006

    Most of us think of condoms as something that you remove and throw away. But not anymore. The development of new, super-strong varieties of latex and improved microsurgical techniques have now made the permanently affixed condom, once a dream of public health officials, a reality.

    “We have demonstrated that it works,” said Dr. Harold Danvers of Johns Hopkins University. “Now it’s up to our public health agencies to get this technology to the people who need it.”

    Danvers led a team of rubber engineers, virologists and epidemiologists from Harvard, the University of Wisconsin, Johns Hopkins and the National Institutes of Health in conception and development of the device. Funding was provided by the NIH.

    The Permanent Condom is made of DuPont’s new BioBrute® latex, which has proven to be virtually invulnerable to tears, rips and abrasions in intensive testing on mice. A mere 7.5 millimeters thick, the condom will allow ample amounts of sexual sensation to reach the user, the researchers say. And, most important, it’s surgically attached to the penis, so it can’t slip off and allow HIV transmission.

    One technical problem arose when the scientists realized that with a condom that could not be removed, the semen would just sit there in the condom after ejaculation and that this might eventually cause sanitary problems. They solved it with a simple but ingenious invention. A hand-operated vacuum pump will be implanted in the user’s scrotum. Similar to the pumps found in penile implants, it is used after ejaculation to vacuum the deadly semen back into the wearer’s penis. Then a disinfecting detergent fluid, stored in a reservoir that will be implanted in the user’s abdomen, is pumped into the condom to sanitize. “It’s a closed loop system,” said Danvers. “The HIV cannot escape from its owner and infect others.”

    Doctors and scientists are excited about the possibilities of the implanted reservoir. As needed, it could be filled and refilled with antifungals, antiretrovirals, spermicides, herbicides — even erotic perfumes — with a simple thrice-annual operation that could be performed in a doctor’s office under local anesthesia.

    Space for the reservoir will be cleared by removing the HIV positive person’s appendix, Danvers said.

    Another issue arose when, halfway into the research and development, Professor of Anatomy James Bulkfish of Harvard Medical School pointed out that a condom that couldn’t be removed would make it difficult for the wearer to urinate. The team of scientists quickly solved that problem — all Permanent Condom recipients will, at time of installation, also receive a urinary bypass operation that will reroute their urine through a thin silicone tube that will emerge from the navel and be very inconspicuous, even hard to notice in public restrooms, Dr. Danvers said.

    The World Health Organization has scheduled a special emergency session to be held on the island of Curacao in late February, to discuss how best to implement the breakthrough technology. A special public-private partnership has already been initiated to manufacture the condoms, publicize them and attach them to People Living with HIV and AIDS. Participants include the WHO, Glaxo Smith Kline, the American Association of Urological Surgeons, the World Bank, Trojans, Inc., CNN and MTV. Low income people without medical insurance will be able to apply to have their surgical costs paid by the US Centers for Disease Control.

    Among contentious issues to be discussed at the WHO meeting include whether the Permanent Condom should be mandatory for all HIV positive people, or a voluntary surgical procedure.

    Ron Saucy, chief of communications for New York-based Gay Men’s Health Crisis, hailed the breakthrough but had some reservations. “We have some privacy concerns,” he said, noting that a permanent condom would make it impossible for a person to hide the fact that he was HIV positive from bedroom partners. “It’s like a scarlet letter,” he said. “Or even like William F. Buckley’s suggestion some years ago that all HIV positives should have a special tattoo declaring their status, as a warning to potential sex partners.” But he said that public health concerns should trump privacy issues, and, “anyway, people have a legal obligation to notify their partners of their HIV status before sex, so this really doesn’t matter.”

    Ronetta Klein, a campaigner with Human Rights Watch, agreed. “There is no privacy right when a HIV positive person pulls his pants down for a lover,” she noted. “Your status will still be a secret to those you don’t sleep with.”

    Senator Hillary Rodham Cliton (D-NY) called the discovery “one of the great public health advances of the last 500 years,” and said she would introduce legislation requiring installation of the permanent condom for all people who test HIV positive in the US. But she also criticized the researchers for ignoring the needs of women. She called on the scientists to swiftly engineer a permanent female condom so that HIV positive women would not be discriminated against.

  15. chase Says:

    Marcel, do you have any data to support this:

    Chase, people in the sixties were not having the kind of frenzied, orgiastic nonstop sex that the AIDS pioneer gays were having in the early 80s.

    If so, I’d be interested in it. Not in Lauritsen’s reporting, or Kramer’s recollections — sorry, TS, but that’s not scientific data, and I think you know that.

  16. chase Says:

    And for the record, ” AIDS pioneer gays ” is horrendously offensive. You sound just like those televangelists on TV on Sunday a.m. It is strange how often the rhetoric of the religious right parallels the rhetoric of the rethinkers (and yes, without data, it’s rhetoric, plain and simple).

  17. chase Says:

    I guess I need to remind both TS and Marcel that there is a rather large difference between a scientific conclusion, and reporting. You both seem expert at reporting, and seem to be in touch with some science when it comes to HIV/AIDS, but neither of you seems to be aware of the rather enormous amount of behavioral research that is available — and has been going on since the turn of the century. Perhaps I can help in that arena. But unsubstantiated claims regarding behavior need not remain unsubstantiated — there is indeed data that bears on these questions. If you don’t want to look for it, then I suppose I’ll have to bring it to you. But to offer up Lauritsen and Kramer in your defense is simply laughable. It’s not an opinion question, it’s a question of fact. Questions of fact are resolved by science. Show me some science.

  18. chase Says:

    Here’s but a short list of some of the scholarly journals one might look to, rather than to personal accounts or reporting:

    Archives of Sexual Behavior
    Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality
    American Journal of Public Health
    Sexuality Research &Public Policy
    Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
    Studies on Gender and Sexuality
    Human Sexuality
    Journal of Homosexuality

    Journal of Substance Abuse
    Addictive Behavior
    British Journal of Addictions
    American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
    Journal of Substance Abuse
    Journal of Addictive Diseases

    There is a bias at this site. No one is encouraged to make microbiological announcements without the proper references, but that’s not the case when it comes to behavior, where anything goes, despite the fact that over 100 years of scholarly behavioral research exists.

    That should change, but I doubt it will. Too much risk involved — what if the research doesn’t back up the anecdotal and journalistic reports?

  19. YossariansGhostbuster Says:

    chase,

    Just what do you expect from the blogosphere or any websites in regard to any definitive goals you may have in mind re:HIV/AIDS discussions ?

  20. YossariansGhostbuster Says:

    So I’m looking at the scholarly journals above, so is there one that will clearly demonstrate why the first 100 – 200 members of the SF Gay Men’s Chorus all died of AIDS prior to AZT and ARV’s ?

  21. Truthseeker Says:

    There is a bias at this site. No one is encouraged to make microbiological announcements without the proper references, but that’s not the case when it comes to behavior, where anything goes, despite the fact that over 100 years of scholarly behavioral research exists.

    Yes there is a bias in this site, but not an anti gay bias, just a bias against anyone here moving from the topic of the blog (see the title of the blog at the top if you are not aware of it) to various personal anxieties and emotions not necessarily relevant to the purpose of the blog. We are interested in discussing the scientific evidence in the literature for and against the HIV=AIDS paradigm, on which the current thinking on HIV∫AIDS rests.

    We are not so interested in the personal anxieties and politics of individual gays however interesting, enlightening and even entertaining they may be in their own right. We have told you a thousand times this is more a matter for a gay site. We suggest AIDS Myth Exposed, or some gay chat board.

    Along with this whether large numbers of gays went over the drugs and sex cliff or small numbers doesn’t interest us much, and as we told you if it does interest you and ONLY if you think and show it is relevant to the topic of the blog, research it yourself and post it on the blog and see whether anyone thinks it is important or not in the context. A priori we don’t, and we did hope that you would stop bringing up this topic here, but perhaps you will with research demonstrate we are wrong and it is relevant in some way, and we will stand corrected.

    We are told that gays occasionally have a natural tendency to look at everything through the distorting glass of gay anxieties which unfortunately often turn into reverse prejudice when they are asked to stay on topic or go elsewhere, and we hope that we won’t now be inundated with sequential posts protesting our request in such terms.

    If you want to discuss the behavior of gays in this context why not give us an account of what it feels like to take crystal meth and what influences this has had on the behavior of lonely and depressed gays, if you know. Judging from the “In The Life” documentary on NYC PBS 13 tonight it has been a powerful influence on encouraging orgiastic behavior but exacts a horrible penalty when one descends into the “black hole” of its aftermath.

    This will be useful anecdotal evidence though not scientific, of course, which we agree would be better if the topic was scientific, which it isn’t, even though it may be material for psychologists and other mappers of the human psyche who have trouble being truly scientific unless they can find something which can be objectively measured.

    In this case we are asking for purely subjective reporting, not because it throws much light on the topic of the blog but because it is at least potentially entertaining, which is a very hard thing to achieve in this field, and therefore welcome as a variation on an otherwise tediously earnest norm, that is to say, the character of the topic in general here, which is very seldom grist for conversation at a party or dinner among people who do not know each other very well.

  22. chase Says:

    The question was asked:

    So I’m looking at the scholarly journals above, so is there one that will clearly demonstrate why the first 100 – 200 members of the SF Gay Men’s Chorus all died of AIDS prior to AZT and ARV’s ?

    I’ll ignore the flippancy and answer. The above journals provide information that indicates that gay drug use was no worse or more extreme during the period in question that straight drug use was — for starters. If serious drug use is key, then many, many more heterosexuals should have died during the first “outbreak.”

  23. chase Says:

    The second thing one would note is that the number of gay men reporting having over 1000 sexual partners is so small that it could not be the cause of the early “die-off” either. Sorry to Peter Duesberg, but this is what you get when you rely on reporters and first-hand accounts and fail to consult the scholarly literature. On every other topic he wrote about — always good scholarly references. On the issue of gay men’s behavior at the time — not the case. This is literature I’m familiar with — those who know who I am know, that in fact, I’ve published in one of these journals . Peter’s theory does not find empirical support here. It’s that simple. It wasn’t the drugs or the sex alone – -something else was afoot as well. C’est la vie.

  24. chase Says:

    Science is not supposed to rewrite history in order to make it line up with its conclusions. In the case of Duesberg’s theory on why gay men died in the early 80s, he has engaged in revisionist history based on journalistic reports and first hand accounts, from people like Larry Kramer, whom, we should all remember, had great talent in writing fiction, but never engaged in one empirical study of gay men’s sexual habits or drug preferences. Neither did John Lauristen. When people like TS ask us to believe a major theory based on these kinds of reports, we should all be very wary indeed. These are not questions that can be answered by such anecdotal reports . That’s why there has been, for example, the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, which was first published in 1971. It’s high time rethinkers consult the literature rather than rewrite history to suit their needs. They claim to be all about science, but those claims ring quite hollow — reading TS’s response above makes that quite clear. Sex research is not new — Kinsey published his early results in the American Journal of Public Health.

    Ask yourselves — why hasn’t this literature been consulted? The answer is simple. Stereotypes are strong, and provided the basis for Duesberg’s behavioral contentions, unfortunately. The science that exists does not back him up. So we are asked to believe a theory that finds no support in empirical literature, that in the case, for exmaple, of the American Journal of Public Health, goes back to the beginning of the 20th century.

  25. chase Says:

    And why is this relevant to this thread? Well, as our fearless leader, TS, has pointed out, the New York Times (reporting) would have us believe any number of strange conclusions about African sex. TS indicates that he will not believe this biased reporting — but he is happy to believe the reporting of John Lauritsen. I detect a conflict here. In neither case should we believe the reporting alone. We should insist on behavioral science to draw conclusions about behavior. One cannot hold the position that reporting on African sexual practices is wrong, but reporting on gay male sexual practices in the late 70s and early 80s is correct. That’s simply ridiculous and is an insult to everyone who reads this blog.

  26. Martel Says:

    TS, I must disagree with you on Chase’s contributions being merely the venting of “various personal anxieties and emotions not necessarily relevant…” If Chase is requested to leave this forum, then I hope you will make the same request of me.
    You write,

    We are interested in discussing the scientific evidence in the literature for and against the HIV=AIDS paradigm, on which the current thinking on HIV∫AIDS rests.

    This is exactly what Chase has been trying to do. After anecdote upon anecdote upon innuendo about the supposed behavior of the gay community (all risky sex and drugs, all the time), Chase urged contributors to root their claims in the firmer soil of “the literature.”

    Now, you may pooh-pooh all behavioral science, you may defenestrate your copy of the DSM-IV, and you may reject any human endeavor that does not involve iron-clad quantitation. An organized and methodical gathering of data on human phenomena is still a more reliable source of information than the entirely subjective, in some cases quasi-fictional writings of journalists and entertainers, wouldn’t you agree?

    As for genuine interest in “scientific evidence in the literature,” Chase in my opinion displays far more than most contributors here. My recent discussions with MacDonald, John, and others revealed to me that the literature, indeed science itself, is of at best ancillary interest to many rethinkers. Scientific arguments are all-too-often met not with rejoinders from the literature, nor even with theoretical arguments consistent with basic science, but with 10-20-year old phrases from the great vade mecum of rethinker philosophy, compiled long ago by St. Peter, St. Etienne, and fellow movement mystics.

    Why this attitude of “Duesberg said it, I believe it, and that’s good enough for me?” (Or Lauritsen, de Harven, whoever.) I have this humble hunch that Chase would freely concede points if contributors could back up their assertions on gay men with data, not anecdote. And I promise you that I willcertainly change my own position on HIV and its supposed genomic origins if anyone posts a genuine genomic sequence closely resembling any significant part of HIV.

    Unfortunately, based upon what I’ve seen here on NAR, modifying one’s views based upon new data seems to be a capability of only a very few in the rethinker community.

  27. Truthseeker Says:

    With Chase ignoring our plea to stop needless successive multiple posting, we have to reveal that there is an algorithm built in to the NAR “References Please” Blog Comments software whereby anyone posting five times in a row without interruption may trigger the least interesting post being automatically removed. We have tried but failed to adjust the setting to accommodate Chase but it is preset by the teenage site administrator, who has gone on vacation for two months.

    The above journals provide information that indicates that gay drug use was no worse or more extreme during the period in question that straight drug use was — for starters.

    Please give chapter and verse, as you yourself typically and rightly request.

    If serious drug use is key, then many, many more heterosexuals should have died during the first “outbreak.”

    The idea has been around for two decades without anyone objecting to it. Bathhouse gays took far more drugs than heterosexuals to facilitate their multiple close interactions, which are otherwise more painful and too exhausting, at the high rate claimed in personal testimony from those involved to Peter Duesberg and his initial co-author, Bryan Ellison.

    Ellison, we admit, judging from his own version of the Duesberg book draft, Why We Will Never Win the War on AIDS, was/is a rather political scientific writer whose tone is not quite the same as Duesberg’s typically literature based objectivity and classical academic style, and it seems possible you may be complaining about parts of the Duesberg book that Ellison drafted without much revision by Duesberg.

    The second thing one would note is that the number of gay men reporting having over 1000 sexual partners is so small that it could not be the cause of the early “die-off” either. Sorry to Peter Duesberg, but this is what you get when you rely on reporters and first-hand accounts and fail to consult the scholarly literature. On every other topic he wrote about — always good scholarly references. On the issue of gay men’s behavior at the time — not the case. This is literature I’m familiar with — those who know who I am know, that in fact, I’ve published in one of these journals. Peter’s theory does not find empirical support here. It’s that simple. It wasn’t the drugs or the sex alone – something else was afoot as well. C’est la vie.

    Then let’s have the references, and key quotes, to substantiate your point, which is certainly relevant to a discussion of the cause of AIDS. If you published on this point then give the public reference. No one here is questioning your excellent credentials but like you we need references too. If you have contradictory evidence in this area which has more authority than eye witness testimony from participants in New York City and San Francisco, we are keen to hear it.

    Science is not supposed to rewrite history in order to make it line up with its conclusions. In the case of Duesberg’s theory on why gay men died in the early 80s, he has engaged in revisionist history based on journalistic reports and first hand accounts, from people like Larry Kramer, whom, we should all remember, had great talent in writing fiction, but never engaged in one empirical study of gay men’s sexual habits or drug preferences. Neither did John Lauristen.

    If you do not spell Lauritsen’s name correctly twice in succession, Chase, this suggests you have not read his work. Is this so? He is the major authority on the gay scene who contacted Duesberg after the 1987 Cancer Research paper and briefed him on what was happening. By the way, you have visited enough bathhouses to tell us what is happening now, and you are saying things are tame by comparison with these reports? But that is what we would expect, although Kramer seems to think things are out of hand again.

    When people like TS ask us to believe a major theory based on these kinds of reports, we should all be very wary indeed.

    This is misguided. The critique of HIV∫AIDS and its cause is based on reading the literature, and does not rise and fall according to the numbers of gays whose immune systems collapsed under the influence of drugs and orgies. All Duesberg has ever said is that a sudden expansion of gay consumption of drugs and each other in bathhouses in the late 70s as generally acknowledged by all observers familiar with the topic except our worthy correspondent here correlates well with the sudden appearance of the natural consequence of such activity if indulged in too long.

    The fact that you and your friends do not indulge in such excitements now, if that is what you mean, does not affect this indication, which no one suggested was scientific or correct if it is countered by studies, but we have not heard of such studies. You, however, are now going to produce these references, is that right?

    These are not questions that can be answered by such anecdotal reports. That’s why there has been, for example, the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, which was first published in 1971. It’s high time rethinkers consult the literature rather than rewrite history to suit their needs. They claim to be all about science, but those claims ring quite hollow — reading TS’s response above makes that quite clear. Sex research is not new — Kinsey published his early results in the American Journal of Public Health.

    This is mere blather. Produce the references and key quotes to prove your reversal of common understanding.

    Ask yourselves — why hasn’t this literature been consulted? The answer is simple. Stereotypes are strong, and provided the basis for Duesberg’s behavioral contentions, unfortunately. The science that exists does not back him up. So we are asked to believe a theory that finds no support in empirical literature, that in the case, for example, of the American Journal of Public Health, goes back to the beginning of the 20th century.

    More blather. Produce the evidence. We are all interested, surely, if a subset of urban gays turn out not to have gone to bathhouses in the late seventies and drowned in drugs and sex, as they have claimed.

    And why is this relevant to this thread? Well, as our fearless leader, TS, has pointed out, the New York Times (reporting) would have us believe any number of strange conclusions about African sex. TS indicates that he will not believe this biased reporting — but he is happy to believe the reporting of John Lauristen.

    Lauritsen, for God’s Sake, Lauritsen. A Harvard graduate trained in market research who was the first to demonstrate how badly done the drug studies in AIDS were, and who wrote more irresistible reason than anybody in this field of criticism short of Duesberg and certain contributors to this blog. Read him and see how well he supports his assertions, instead of blathering on about an author and material you apparently have not read.

    I detect a conflict here. In neither case should we believe the reporting alone. We should insist on behavioral science to draw conclusions about behavior. One cannot hold the position that reporting on African sexual practices is wrong, but reporting on gay male sexual practices in the late 70s and early 80s is correct. That’s simply ridiculous and is an insult to everyone who reads this blog.

    Yes, sir. Perfectly true, but only done to tease, because you react so entertainingly and we have no hard references, which you claim to have but never produce them.

    Martel: TS, I must disagree with you on Chase’s contributions being merely the venting of “various personal anxieties and emotions not necessarily relevant…” If Chase is requested to leave this forum, then I hope you will make the same request of me.

    Are you kidding, Martel? Neither is or ever will be contemplated. Those who are in error but are interested in jousting with references from the scientific literature – which Chase is typically very good at, with the one exception of his worries about rescuing the reputation of the bulk of gays from the embarrassment of the subset that went over the drugs and sex cliff, who even Larry Kramer deplores in every speech as self destructive even though he, Larry, does not read the scientific literature at all even when it concerns his own life – are welcome at this site. Without you, and Chase, and Chris Noble, and Trrll, and jefferys, where would the discussion be? How would new knowledge be gained? How would ideas be refined? How would the two opposing sides be reconciled, and doubts be removed, and fence sitters able to leave their painful perches and find a more comfortable seat on the side of truth and enlightenment?

    After anecdote upon anecdote upon innuendo about the supposed behavior of the gay community (all risky sex and drugs, all the time), Chase urged contributors to root their claims in the firmer soil of “the literature.”

    Correct, and we are waiting for him to give us the references he claims he knows, since social behavior appears to be his specialty.

    What is the point of contradicting Chase? Because the core solution to AIDS in our opinion is the well established fact that the drugs used by this urban subset in their partying were and are immune suppressive, for example, the corticosteroids used against inflammation are so immunosuppressive they are used in transplant operations (eg prednisone, a cortisone analog); also, the antibiotics taken in massive doses as preventives are immunosuppressive.

    Drugs in general act as chelating agents and suck zinc and selenium out of the system, and the importance of zinc and selenium and a correct balance between the two are key to AIDS, we believe, zinc for example governing the thymus and T cell production so powerfully that a little additional zinc can cut opportunistic infections like candidiasis out completely, as the Italians showed.

    Now, you may pooh-pooh all behavioral science, you may defenestrate your copy of the DSM-IV, and you may reject any human endeavor that does not involve iron-clad quantitation. An organized and methodical gathering of data on human phenomena is still a more reliable source of information than the entirely subjective, in some cases quasi-fictional writings of journalists and entertainers, wouldn’t you agree?

    No worse than the fiction of NIAID, perhaps even better. The story telling of journalists and entertainers usually has some grounding in fact, and it is up to us to uncover that foundation of fact here and replace anecdote with references from the literature, correcting the tale spinning where necessary, particularly the fictions purveyed by the NIAID. That is the purpose of this blog.

    As for genuine interest in “scientific evidence in the literature,” Chase in my opinion displays far more than most contributors here. My recent discussions with MacDonald, John, and others revealed to me that the literature, indeed science itself, is of at best ancillary interest to many rethinkers. Scientific arguments are all-too-often met not with rejoinders from the literature, nor even with theoretical arguments consistent with basic science, but with 10-20-year old phrases from the great vade mecum of rethinker philosophy, compiled long ago by St. Peter, St. Etienne, and fellow movement mystics.

    Nice phrasing. Where are your more journalistic articles published? We would like to read them. However, we hope they are accurate. You seem, for example, to overlook the fact that the rethinkers here may feel that where you are interesting you are misguided, and where you are correct you are not new.

    Your comments and references are interesting to us, we hasten to add, but in our scientific ignorance which reflects not reading very much in this area, we feel that you are unlikely to be able to back your suspicions that HIV is somehow not a passenger virus that has been around in some form or another in humans for a long time, if that is what you are driving at.

    Being a professional reporter by trade, we try to match claims against what is known, and the claim that a particular retrovirus with the ability to kill millions suddenly popped up out of nowhere to enrich scientists who otherwise were out of luck and employment is too far fetched to let by.

    Unfortunately, based upon what I’ve seen here on NAR, modifying one’s views based upon new data seems to be a capability of only a very few in the rethinker community.

    Sorry to hear it. Perhaps you mistake the tendency everyone has on the Web to argue their case to the max to see how well it stands up. They may be enjoying the process rather than being close minded. Thomas Kuhn once informed me that he was delighted to hear that Duesberg was having a hard time of it since that is what should happen – every paradigm changer should be tested to the full.

  28. Martel Says:

    A fun and fine exchange, TS; I appreciate your own use of the language.

    By way of clarification, since I clearly haven’t expressed myself well enough, I retain an open mind on the subject of HIV as passenger virus,
    …although I have reservations and questions and would enjoy discussing the issue with NAR folks who have more knowledge of the theory than I do.

    I object strongly only to the minority versions of that hypothesis that see HIV as
    a)itself an endogenous retrovirus,
    b)as the mutated product of one or multiple distinct endogenous retroviruses or other genomic sequences, or even
    c)as a non-entity whose existence is erroneously inferred from the presence of a constellation of mutated proteins and nucleic acid sequences found in disease. As Robert Houston has pointed out, Duesberg does not explicitly espouse any of these versions. Neither could any other scientist who has been awake at some point in the last seven or eight years. Perhaps there are indeed very few rethinkers who subscribe to them, although I’ve personally encountered the theme on the web on many occasions.

    If anyone is truly interested in exploring the genomic HIV theory and its validity, the human genome is publically available, through several internet gateways, in all its GATTACA glory. I would be happy to give step-by-step instructions to any layperson on how to search the genome for viral sequences. Maybe someone here could even find the genomic HIV that establishment shills such as I have overlooked for the last twenty-five years.

    Any takers?

  29. Truthseeker Says:

    Very good Martel, why not give the instructions here and now? We look forward to a good post on that.

    But isn’t your fight against a straw man? Not up to speed on the discussion so not sure why you are harping on the fact it is not a part of the human genome. Whether it is or not, we are pretty sure that it is not a new arrival on the planet, or not a lethal one, anyway. You can be sure that Gallo doesn’t have God in his pocket.

    Guess what we are asking is, why does it matter, exactly?

  30. Martel Says:

    But isn’t your fight against a straw man? Not up to speed on the discussion so not sure why you are harping on the fact it is not a part of the human genome.

    Not unless Etienne de Harven and his myrmidons constitute a “straw man.”

    On 8 December, 2003, Etienne de Harven addressed words including the following to the European Parliament in Brussels. This was quoted by Chase, and can be found in full at . de Harven:

    Moreover, it appears very likely that PCR methods amplify small RNA fragments, more frequently observed under conditions of stress and of chronic illnesses, and which include retroviral segments originating from human endogenous retrovirus. This is not surprising since about 2% of the human genome have marked homology with the retroviral genome. Consequently, “measuring” the “viral load” by PCR methods is likely to have no relationship whatsoever with real quantification of a hypothetical exogenous HIV viremia. Kary Mullis himself, Nobel Prize laureate for his discovery of the PCR method, categorically rejects the use of “his” method for quantitative measurements of a hypothetical HIV viremia.

    Really and truly, from anyone but an august figure such as de Harven, a statement like this–especially as late as 2003–would be evidence of scientific illiteracy.

    If no one on this site subscribes to de Harven’s theory as stated above, please let me know. You might also wish, at your leisure, to explain to me why numerous contributors have bothered to defend de Harven so vigourously if they don’t agree with him.

    But if no one wants to defend de Harven, then there is no point in my posting instructions on genome fishing.

  31. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    The two trials were being conducted by researchers from universities in Illinois, Maryland, Canada, Uganda and Kenya and involved nearly 3 000 heterosexual men in Kisumu, Kenya and nearly 5 000 in Rakai, Uganda. None were infected with HIV. They were divided into circumcised and uncircumcised groups, given safe sex advice [although many presumably did not take it] and retested regularly.

    “None were infected with HIV”…

    Going back to our good old friend, the Abbott Labs HIV Elisa which states: At present there is no standard for establishing the presence or absence of HIV-1 or HIV-2 in human blood.

    How on earth do we KNOW “none were infected with HIV”?

    It’s a conundrum, alright…

  32. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Whoops. Here’s the actual quote from the insert.

    “At present there is no recognized standard for establishing the presence of absence of antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2 in human blood”.

    Maybe somebody can tell us how they determined that all those African men were HIV-negative.

  33. chase Says:

    Thank you to TS and Martel for open minds on the topic of behavioral research. I promise to root through publications from the early 80s and bring data to this forum — although it will take a little time to do so, as many of those older journals are not electronic/digitized yet. I look forward to the challenge and will report back, likely after the holiday, on what I can find out.

    Sorry for repeatedly misspelling J.L.’s name — I have indeed read his work, and indeed, that was what got me so concerned in the first place. I understand that in a recent interview, he redacted some of his earlier comments — I will research that as well. I’m just bad at both remembering names, and spelling them correctly. My own last name, for those who know it, is so often spelled incorrectly — but I don’t assume that means that people haven’t read my published work.

  34. Marcel Says:

    Good grief, Chase, I’m supposed to go dig up research on the sex practices of sixties hippies when I don’t even have time to read this blog?

    I lived through the sixties so-called counterculture (actually it survived into the mid-70s). The people I knew (admittedly maybe not your average sixties types) were certainly not having orgies. But I did know enough people who WERE typical that I can safely guess that the kind of sex that was going on in the sixties was just normal sex at fairly normal frequencies. What may make it seem like an era of orgies to some people is simply viewing it in comparison to the sexually repressed 50s that preceded it. Another thing that contributes to your false perception is that the sex was high profile, i.e., people were doing it in public at the Woodstock festival, etc., and this was all on TV and in the movies. And the slogans: make love not war. That doesn’t mean make orgies, just have natural sex.

    But I do not think the average sixties longhair was having sex with multiple partners at the bathhouses every night, taking antibiotics to keep away the STDs, drinking themselves into stupors continually, or any of the other self destructive stuff that the 80s gay subset were doing. And certainly they weren’t doing poppers.

  35. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Still waiting.

    Anybody willing to step up to the plate and tell us how it was determined that all those African men were HIV-negative?

  36. Martel Says:

    By everyone’s silence, and in the absence of further responses, I will assume that you all now disavow Dr. Etienne de Harven’s words as quoted above and/or have no interest in learning more about searching the human genome for retroviral sequences. So the hypothesis that HIV is an endogenous retrovirus or a non-entity whose presence is wrongly inferred from aberrant proteins/nucleic acids of cellular origin is, I suppose, now dead, officially an equus mortuus.

    Now, on to antibodies.

    Dear Wily,

    You’ve mistaken legal CYA language for scientific evidence. Perhaps a reading of more than a sentence or two of the product insert would clarify the matter. Unfortunately, the phrase you quote can be found on any one of a hundred rethinker pages where it’s dangled like a faded, stuffed tropical bird in a third-rate dusty museum, torn by violence from its natural environment to be held up to scorn and abuse from naughty schoolchildren on field outings.

    Here’s what the rest of the insert says, among other things.

    But first, this product is technically an EIA. Although ELISA is often used interchangeably with it, an EIA uses antigens to capture antibodies found in a sample (as opposed to using antibodies to capture antigens in a sample).

    Now, the insert:
    Abbott assesses the potential for false positives by testing blood from over 17,000 random donors. 27 come up positive once; of these, 18 are positive repeatedly. Western blots confirm one of these samples as truly “positive.” In other words, 0.15% (single) or just over 0.1% (repeated test) of the population is classified as positive based on this test alone, and
    For 100 “high risk” individuals, the EIA identified 16 positives, 15 confirmed by Western. This suggests a higher rate for false positives in “high risk” groups, although the numbers aren’t large enough to make solid conclusions.

    For individual samples whose HIV+ status had already been determined by other tests, the EIA identified 1394 out of 1394 as positive, whereas a previously-licensed product identified 1386…suggesting a false-negative rate too low to measure without more samples.

    As for the quote you pasted, have you ever perused a product insert from a diagnostic test or a medicine? They’re full of this type of language. “This test has not been validated for use…”, “The following symptoms may…”, “The cut-off for EIA reactivity has not…”, etc., etc. If anyone, patient or doc, took this stuff literally, we’d still be practicing shamanism, not medicine.

    (Not that I wish to disparage our venerable animist past, nor the views of my valued colleagues who believe in the spirit world.)

    Well, I’m at least relieved that no one still believes in HIV as endogenous retrovirus.

  37. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Martel,

    that’s just super!

    Here’s the rub…and the truth, to boot.

    There’s no standard.

    End of story.

    No standard means determinations of “positivity” and “negativity” are arbitrary.

    What’s beautiful about the statement on the Abbott Labs HIV Elisa insert is how honest it is.

    There’s no standard. So simple. So straightforward.

    So, without a standard, how were they able to ascertain those African men were HIV-negative?

  38. Martel Says:

    Wily,

    no recognized standard. If you had read more than five words of my post…

    Since you posted within ten minutes of my own contribution, you clearly did not carefully read much of what I wrote, nor did you look at and study the product insert for yourself, where Abbott lays out the validation process for the test and gives all sorts of concrete test results.

    Pardon me, but in contrast to all other commentators I have encountered here, you are being wilfully ignorant and a dishonest debater to boot. Please learn the difference between EIA and ELISA, and kindly look up and study the process of making and testing recombinant antigens. Until then, your foolishness merits no response, Wily jester.

  39. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Martel,

    so, you’re not going to answer the question?

    There’s no standard. It’s just that simple.

    So, once more…

    without a standard, how is it determined that all those African men are HIV-negative?

  40. Gene Says:

    Martel,

    You’re points on CYA and diagnostic tests are well taken.

    However …

    Many of us find deHarven’s heuristic more credible than phylogenetic reconstructions purporting to precisely date the birth of a “singular” HIV. Your exclusion of the matching of functional homologues in comparing endogenous to exogenous also appears excessively narrow. Especially considering somatic extinctions and hypermutations, there’s no reason for genomic proviruses to match up sequence-wise with those which have gone through their stages -(via a series of these and other reactions, including complementation in trans)- of extracellular transmission.

    Isn’t this what really matters in the end when considering the biological plausibility of a retrovirus as a “classical” pathogen?

    As far as tying those antigens to a single agent; really Martel, maybe you’re the one who needs to get up to date.

  41. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    we congratulated Nancy Padian on her outstanding research, which had made her a hero of AIDS in our view. “Oh I don’t think I am that!” she demurred, “Why do you say so?”

    We explained it was because she had been the first to demonstrate that HIV did not transmit heterosexually very significantly if at all.

    TS, you’re mistaken.

    Go to the AIDStruth website. You’ll find that you’re wrong.

    Nancy Padian says that HIV is heterosexually-transmitted. That’s good enough for me.

    It doesn’t matter that her study of discordant heterosexual couples found no transmissions. It’s what she says in public that counts. Get with the program.

  42. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    You’ve mistaken legal CYA language for scientific evidence

    I’ve mistaken nothing.

    Of course they’re covering their asses. They’re also being extremely truthful.

    There is no standard. Period.

    So…how are they determining that those African men are HIV-negative (in lieu of the fact that there’s no standard for determining HIV status)?

  43. chase Says:

    Martel,

    It would be difficult, if not impossible, to explain to Wily that, as you said, most medications and diagnostics come with a plethora of disclaimers, which are mostly in place because of legal concerns. I think the issue is not that there are no standards at all — but more like there are not necessarily any agreed-upon standards for interpretations of these assays. For example, as I understand it, countries differ in the number of reactive bands they use to determine if someone is “positive” or “negative” or “indeterminate” on the Western Blot. Does that mean that the Western Blot has no standards? Of course not. But arguing the point with Wily won’t help.

    Gene’s comments flew right over my head, but they sound intriguing. Perhaps the two of you can examine those more closely — and maybe break them down a bit more for those of us not well versed in genomics and virology.

  44. Truthseeker Says:

    Nancy Padian says that HIV is heterosexually-transmitted. That’s good enough for me.

    It doesn’t matter that her study of discordant heterosexual couples found no transmissions. It’s what she says in public that counts. Get with the program.

    Quite right, Wily. It is very important to remember what is real and what is not. We apologize for the momentary aberration. Probably this entire site needs a course correction, as it seems to be diverging more and more from what is almost universally accepted. This antisocial tendency must be curbed. All suggestions welcome.

  45. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Probably this entire site needs a course correction, as it seems to be diverging more and more from what is almost universally accepted. This antisocial tendency must be curbed. All suggestions welcome.

    Since you asked, TS, we’ll have to start with you…since this is your site.

    First order of business is for you to simply report/reproduce what has already been said in the NY Times and various medical publications. No questioning. No second-guessing. Just report the facts…even if those facts contradict previously-reported facts.

    Second order of business would be for you to go back through your many articles and re-truthify them.

    You’ve got quite a workload ahead of you. But you did say you were open to suggestions.

  46. Truthseeker Says:

    Second order of business would be for you to go back through your many articles and re-truthify them. You’ve got quite a workload ahead of you. But you did say you were open to suggestions.

    We are prepared to do this if Dr. Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates or Peter Piliero sends a sizable check. There, we have put it very straightforwardly.

    This will not be an abandonment of our innate character of “Truth seeking”, of course, it will merely provoke the spontaneous revision of our mental framework for input of data to ensure that all illness detected in individuals whose HIV tests are interpreted by commercial lab workers as “positive” for HIV antibodies are ascribed to HIV, and only to HIV, in spite of the virtually undetectable level of the actual virus in their blood.

    This includes uncircumcised Africans for whom we feel enormous, self congratulatory sympathy who might otherwise be viewed as suffering from TB, lack of food, slum conditions etc, who as deserving if ignorant people of unusual sexual prowess will generously be given the appropriate drugs with the expert backing of Oprah, Bono, Gates and other thought leaders who will henceforth become our own guides in this realm.

    As you can see we have the catechism down pat, and stand ready to put it into action as soon as the check arrives from either Dr Fauci or a major drug company, thus following the example of thousands of scientists and activists who will henceforth become our bosom buddies as we defend the proven mainstream view against the churlish ingrate rag-tag band of AIDS denialists who have nothing better to do with their lives than prove themselves better than other people by revising what we already know and love.

    We will even – if the check is big enough – resolutely ignore the insufficiently truthy work of the suspiciously independent minded David Gisselquist, who has had the effrontery to conclude, in “Running on empty: sexual cofactors are insufficient to fuel Africa’s turbocharged HIV epidemic” (Int Journal of STD &AIDS 2004; 15:442-452) that as far as circumcision is concerned, it “is not likely to explain differences in HIV epidemic trajectories betwen Africa and Europe” and that “circumcision does not explain differences in HIV epidemics across Africa.”

    Nor will we pay any attention to J. Ties Boerma et al, who in “Understanding the Uneven Spread of HIV Within Africa” (Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Oct 2003) noted that the rate of sexual transmission of HIV in Africans who are unfamiliar with condoms was no higher than 1 in 830.

    As for the distinguished HIV/NET research leader Myron Cohen, we will assiduously overlook his remark in “Amplified HIV Transmission and New Approaches to HIV Prevention” (Editorial Commentary, JID 2005:191 (1 May) p 1391) that “although several studies of HIV epidemiology have described heterosexual transmission as occurring in about 1/1000 coital acts, this number seems far too low to explain the magnitude of the HIV pandemic. (The studies he is referring to were reviewed in Chakraborty H. et al in “Viral burden in genital secretions determines male-to-female sexual transmission of HIV-1: a probabilistic empiric model”, Journal of AIDS, 2001:15-621–7)

    If Myron objects to our dimissal of his judicious observation, we shall refer him to Chris Noble, who will henceforth become our drinking buddy and mentor.

  47. MacDonald Says:

    hehe.. TS,

    If CN becomes your mentor you too can perhaps learn to use ponderous inquisitorial language proceeding in never wavering steps from accusations of heresy to conversion of the mislead to their own satisfaction:

    Really and truly, from anyone but an august figure such as de Harven, a statement like this–especially as late as 2003–would be evidence of scientific illiteracy.

    If no one on this site subscribes to de Harven’s theory as stated above, please let me know.

    By everyone’s silence, and in the absence of further responses, I will assume that you all now disavow Dr. Etienne de Harven’s words

    Well, I’m at least relieved that no one still believes in HIV as endogenous retrovirus

    Only in goon school do they teach this kind of missionary rhetoric. I’d say even those who didn’t self-administer Lise’s home remedies against stuffed nose should be able to sniff this one out by now.

    Wilyretro,

    Dr. Martel’s points are indeed well taken, especially this part:

    They also suggest that the EIA/Western combination has an extremely low false-positive rate

    Since WB is confirmatory, the gold standard for the other tests as it were, the above could just as well read “the coinflip/Western combination has an extremely low false-positive rate”.

    Or is it the case that EIA returns the favour by
    confirming it’s own confirmatory test? Surely no real scientist would suggest that?

    And don’t you mind Chase now, he’s just not very good in the read and comprehend department, a handicap he shares with the goon squad. That’s why he thinks he can counter your “there’s no (single) standard” with “there are several different standards”. Of course he merely confirms your point by explaining the meaning of “no (single) standard”. The whole thing is a bit tautological, like the EIA/WB combination.

  48. Truthseeker Says:

    ponderous inquisitorial language proceeding in never wavering steps from accusations of heresy to conversion of the misled to their own satisfaction

    and many accusations of dishonesty from the “intellectually dishonest”, as Sam Harris (“End of Faith”, “Letter to a Christian Nation”) likes to call the religious, rather aptly.

  49. chase Says:

    MacDonald — do you think you could disagree with me without denigrating me? That would be a real feat for you, apprently. Your elitist prose only highlights why many of the readers of this site probably don’t contribute. Think about it.

  50. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    MacDonald,

    thanks for your input on the “tests”.

    As I’ve stated above, without a standard, determinations of “positive” and “negative” are arbitrary.

    Furthermore, determinations of “false positive” and “false negative” are not only absurd, they also expose the well-worn prejudices and biases built into the AIDS paradigm.

  51. McKiernan Says:

    In conclusion: HIV has been isolated by the most rigorous method science has to offer. An infectious DNA of 9.15 kilo bases (kb) has been cloned from the cells of HIV-antibody-positive persons, that -upon transfection- induces the synthesis of an unique retrovirus. This DNA “isolates” HIV from all cellular molecules, even from viral proteins and RNA. Having cloned infectious DNA of HIV is as much isolation of HIV as one can possibly get, it is like isolating the fifth symphony from an orchestra hall by recording it on a CD. The retrovirus encoded by this infectious DNA reacts with the same antibodies that crossreact with Montagnier”s global HIV standard, produced by immortal cell lines in many labs and companies around the world for the HIV-test. This confirms the existence of the retrovirus HIV.

    The uniqueness of HIV is confirmed by the detection of HIV-specific DNA sequences in the DNA of most antibody-positive people. The same DNA is not found in uninfected humans, and the probability to find such a sequence in any DNA sample is 1/49500 – which is much less likely than to encounter the same water molecule twice by swimming in the Pacific ocean every day of your life.

    The existence of an unique retrovirus HIV provides a plausible explanation for the good (not perfect) correlation between the existence of HIV DNA and antibodies against it in thousands of people that have been subjected to both tests. The Papadopulos-Lanka challenge fails to explain this correlation.

    Peter Duesberg

  52. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    McKiernan,

    great stuff…that is, if you happen to accept Peter Duesberg as your savior.

  53. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Note to “rethinkers”:

    As long as you subscribe to the Peter Duesberg school of AIDS “rethinking”, you will not untie the knot of AIDS madness.

    Got to think for yourself, people!

    It’s a life and death situation. It’s about you! Not the so-called “authorities”…the scientists, researchers and doctors. They disagree, quite a bit. So you’ll have to find the answers for yourself. Sorry, Dr. Duesberg, but you’re not my personal savior. Nor should you be anybody else’s savior.

  54. Martel Says:

    With the new dawn, I can see more clearly:
    Some Voldemortish Establishment vampire-king has decided that the insurgents must be crushed. So he has disguised himself as a rethinker and started posting nonsensical garbage on NAR. As a result, the rethinker community is further discredited in the eyes of scientists. But much more importantly, the rethinkers begin to fight amongst themselves and even contemplate regicide in their own movement.
    Wily and Gene are the same person, perhaps, with the initials JM?

    Really, this is quite entertaining. A small faction of non-“scientists, researchers and doctors” assails even the venerable Duesberg as a goon. They accuse all opponents, rethinkers, fence people, or establishment, of harboring blinding religious tendencies.
    And they offer not a shred of support for their own “explanations.”
    Instead, they appeal to verses from their own (unwilling?) mystical head, Etienne de Harven, and misappropriate bits and pieces of the scientific literature and legalese in product inserts to prop it up. Pathetic.

    I will treat this more seriously in my next post.

  55. Martel Says:

    Chase, you’re a fellow goon school graduate? What a pleasant surprise! (I was ’58, what about you?)

    Chase, among your many salient goony-goon remarks is the following:

    Gene’s comments flew right over my head, but they sound intriguing.

    I would very much like to congratulate you on reading Gene’s comments at all, which is far more than they merit. I, personally, can’t read, since they didn’t teach it in goon grade school until the late ’70s. Other people on this site, while presumably capable of reading, choose not to do so, or choose to save their eyes for more important tasks by reading only a few words here and there.

    Gene’s vapidity reminds me of a book by Alan Sokal (of Sokal hoax fame) and Jean Bricmont, who challenge the misappropriation and abuse of scientific phrases by social scientists and literary theorists. I wish that I had it in front of me to quote from their definition of “abuse,” since it fits Wily/Gene’s behavior far better than OJ’s glove.

    But let’s do get back to Gene’s intriguing-sounding comments. When comments fly over the head, yet seem to have value, there are, as I see it, two possible explanations:

    1) The reader lacks the technical expertise of the writer;

    2) The writer has served up a steaming plate of what a fair-minded individual would call BS (Bloviation Supreme).

    In explanation #1, the super-headification of the comments is due to “deficiencies” of both reader and writer. Take the case of scientific jargon: I plead guilty to using it and often forgetting my audience, and I apologize to all non-scientists for that. Scientists (and any specialists) should use jargon not to confuse or impress, but for efficient communication. When I say “2-dimensional gel electrophoresis,” the words mean something very specific to my colleagues; there is also a long history surrounding the terms: graduate students bursting into the office with new data, hundreds of photocopied articles, textbook chapters read or written, discussion with technicians over pizza, reviewers’ suggested experiments, etc. As a result–unfortunately–successfully describing 2D gel electrophoresis to a layperson is not a trivial matter. It can be done, of course…but only if both the writer and the audience are willing not simply to participate in a lecture, but to punctuate it with frequent questions and answers, effectively making it into an exchange.

    If I have posted obscure scientific jargon, and I have, I have done it out of habit, not because I wish to make pronouncements (as MacDonald put it earlier) ex cathedra , trying to impress readers and to put my comments out of reach of debate. When some here, such as Lise, asked for simpler explanations, I did my best. That I was later ridiculed for my feeble attempts is no matter; important is that both I and Lise (and others) exchanged and attempted to understand the other’s viewpoint more fully. To show that I’m not merely making things up, and that there is in fact no genomic sequence with significant similarity to HIV sequences, I have also recently offered to post detailed instructions on searching the publicly-available genome for evidence of HIV-similar sequences. But so far, it would seem that interest is lacking in actual experiments that anyone with a computer can perform.

    Importantly, in the case of my own postings–whether jargon-ridden or hopelessly oversimplified–I was saying something. My words had meaning that could eventually be unpacked and accessed by combined efforts of writer and reader, and they were relevant to the debate.

    Problem #1, as stated above, can be overcome if the writer strives to remember her audience and the audience questions what they don’t understand.

    With problem #2, there is really no good solution. Here, the writer ejaculates a few jargon-rich sentences for the purpose of establishing authority and ushering into the debate a sense of finality, i.e. shutting everyone up. With a few keystrokes, she convinces the audience that she is a wise sage, possessing knowledge they cannot possibly attain with ease, since they haven’t even heard these terms before, or at least not in this combination or in relation to this debate. Significantly, she makes no attempt whatsoever to explain herself.

    Maddeningly, the non-specialist (and even the specialist) is often challenged to distinguish #1 (the honest but audience-inappropriate use of appropriate jargon) from #2 (the intellectually dishonest use of inappropriate “jargon” that really means nothing).

    This was the case for me when I first read Gene’s comments. I wondered immediately what Gene was getting at with “somatic extinctions” and guessed there must be some newly-discovered type of somatic extinction relevant to this debate and about which I had, so far, heard nothing. I asked myself, “Martel,” (well, I actually used my first name, as I usually do when talking to myself), “Have you missed some important paper about hypermutation occuring in different cell types of the body?” As I read further into Gene’s paragraph (I had a grad student read it to me, you know, goon school and all), though, I encountered some obvious nonsense. Then, after searching through the literature, I realized that Gene’s entire statement is nonsense, an insult to the intelligence of NAR readers and to the standards of this site.

    Please bear with me while I explain what Gene would not.

    “Somatic extinction” is the name for a process whereby certain genes in the cell are “turned off” under specific conditions. In a given human cell, hundreds or thousands of genes (out of about 30,000) are giving rise to their protein products at any given time. DNA is “transcribed” into RNA, which is then “translated” into protein. Interestingly, a muscle cell has a very different “transcriptional profile” from, say, a neuron. That is, the set of genes turned “on” in muscle does not overlap completely with the “on” genes in the neuron. This explains a good part of the difference between the two cell types.

    If we take the muscle cell and use chemicals to fuse it with a cancer cell, we create one entity that has components of both muscle and cancer. We can then look at what genes are turned on and off after this cell-cell fusion event. When expression of a particular gene is no longer observed, this can be called “somatic extinction.” It is usually due to “silencing” of the gene through neighboring DNA sequences and other factors that turn off the gene.

    What significance does this have for the HIV=HERV hypothesis of de Harven? Perhaps that HERVs could evolve into HIV and then be transcriptionally silenced? Then the sequence would still be present in the genome. Perhaps that HERVs evolved into HIV, HIV was produced as an exogenous virus, and the genomic HIV was deleted by the benificent hand of the Great Creator of us all (since there’s no known biological explanation)? I would guess that somatic extinction has no significance in this debate.

    “Somatic hypermutation,” on the other hand, has more potential, but is also just orphan jargon in Gene’s hands. B-cells of our immune systems produce antibodies from antibody genes. I mentioned earlier that about 30,000 genes are known…so how, by Jove, can our immune systems specifically recognize millions of different foreign substances (“antigens”)? We would need millions of genes if each antibody were made from a unique gene. This is where “somatic hypermutation” steps in. During a well-defined window of time (when the antibody-making B-cell is “activated”)–and, importantly, ONLY in B-cells–a happy little protein creature named “activation-induced cytidine deaminase” is produced. This enzyme proceeds to wreak havoc on specific regions in the antibody gene, generating lots o’ mutants. Most of the resulting antibodies are garbage, but some can recognize their antigens better than before. The B-cells that make these new-and-improved antibodies are selected for promotion and are commanded to be fruitful and multiply.

    So far, so good, right? What if somatic hypermutation were to mutate the different endogenous retroviruses into HIV? If a high school biology student came up with this idea, it would be evidence of a brilliant, if unseasoned, mind; same for anyone who lacks basic familiarity with science or can’t access the scientific literature.

    Unfortunately, somatic hypermutation is a very restricted process. Several papers have indicated that it is not completely restricted to antibody genes (see, for example, Wang CL et al, PNAS, 2004)–only largely restricted. In any case, somatic hypermutation has to my knowledge not been shown to occur in any cells of the body EXCEPT for activated B-cells. And if somatic hypermutation occurred across the genome even in this small population of cells at the rate necessary to explain what Gene is claiming, all activated B-cells would immediately die.

    As I have posted, and Gene has not read, evolution cannot be messed with if you wish to live. A mutation rate exists above which survival is impossible. This is true even for retroviruses with the incredible number of progeny they pump out.

    In fact, to escape the immune system, a retrovirus must have a mutation rate low enough to avoid extinction, but high enough to outpace the host’s somatic hypermutation of antibodies to the retrovirus.

    As a result, Gene is trying to explain ERV mutation into HIV by invoking a process that doesn’t apply to endogenous retroviral genes, doesn’t occur in many cells of the body, including the ones we look at in HIV infection, and is slower than retroviral evolution itself, which even itself is far too slow to explain the mutation of any genomic sequence or combination of genomic sequences into HIV. See “Antibody vs HIV in a clash of evolutionary titans” Burton, DR et al, PNAS 2005.

    Then there is this gem:

    Especially considering somatic extinctions and hypermutations, there’s no reason for genomic proviruses to match up sequence-wise with those which have gone through their stages -(via a series of these and other reactions, including complementation in trans)- of extracellular transmission.

    This is more of that Bloviation Supreme (BS) my colleagues and I learned to recognize at Goon Squad Training School. What the hell can this mean?…”gone through their stages,” “reactions, including complementation in trans”?

    “Complementation in trans” is when you take a tire from another car and use it to replace the flat on your own. It’s not a reaction. Also, if Gene had read anything I’ve written, s/he would see that I have already addressed the issue. But none of this is valid anyway, since human endogenous retroviruses are not replication-competent. They can make particles, but they are not infectious, even if you complement them in trans with Mickey Mouse or the Lady in the Lake. To make an infectious HERV particle, you have to recapitulate tens of millions of years of natural evolution in the molecular biology lab, as was done in the paper thrown about recently on here ad nauseum. The changes required in a cell to produce infectious particles would not occur in the lifetime of a cell; if they could, the cell would be dead for transgressing against evolution. And if a particle were made, it would still bear no resemblance to HIV (or, sorry, MacDonald, the various bits and pieces that idiots such as I call HIV).

    Perhaps I should have smelled this hoax immediately when the student read me this sentence:

    Many of us find deHarven’s heuristic more credible than phylogenetic reconstructions purporting to precisely date the birth of a “singular” HIV.

    What “phylogenetic reconstructions” purport “to precisely date (sic) the birth of a ‘singular’ HIV”? Would Gene care to point out a single article to us? Every published phylogenetic reconstruction is replete with warnings that are reminiscent of Abbott product inserts…no one claims a precise dating. And who claims the existence of a single HIV? Most would call it a quasispecies. Who, exactly, are “many of us”? Gene and her/his multiple online personae? TS just got done telling me that I’ve been jousting with a straw man.

    Now the word “heuristic,” defined on Wikipedia as:

    A heuristic is a replicable method or approach for directing one’s attention in learning, discovery, or problem-solving.

    de Harven never presented a “heuristic,” only empty and ill-informed speculation. Where are the experiments, the data, even the theory to back it up? AWOL from the HERV camp, which I suspect consists of de Harven, Hank Barnes, Bialy, Gene, Wily, and possibly MacDonald (and of these names, how many are real and how many are pseudonyms of Bialy/Barnes?).

    Of course, use of the word “heuristic” may indicate Gene’s affinity for post-modernist pseudophilosophy. That would explain her or his entire bizarre and nonsensical post. As Sokal and Bricmont amply demonstrate, it is a regular practice of these pseudo-intellectuals to use scientific concepts they probably don’t understand, assuming that their audiences will also not understand them and thus develop respect for the pseudo-intellectual as Uebermensch and mystical figure. They make no attempt to explain the concepts they use. The result is a system of hero-worship quite unlike the catty infighting of the scientific community.

    The fascist underpinnings of much of modern philosophy (see Paul de Man) explain why the technique of “appeal from a position of pseudo-authority” is so beloved amongst the devotees of irrationality (I use this word to described people like Wily and Gene, not the honest debaters on NAR)…and why we see, over at barnesworld, a rigid system of control and censorship that only the reddest of Republicans could love…so unlike the freedom that TS has fostered here.

    As everyone who has read my posts will (I hope) concede, I am not a sycophant, and if we set aside the molecular biology of HIV, my disagreements with HIV/AIDS probably exceed my agreements. To me, dissent is valuable, and paradigm-challengers (honest ones, like Duesberg) are a rare and important breed. To challenge a paradigm, though, one must present evidence, and explain one’s ideas in everyday language where possible. Duesberg achieves this brilliantly, however much his opponents may disagree with some of his conclusions. Wiley Gene, who has posted on this and other websites without demonstrating any understanding of what she/he writes, only an ability to look up irrelevant papers on a search engine and toss about irrelevant jargon, does not. Such disregard for truth; such willingness to insult the intellect and good intentions of others; such a foolish, schoolboyish desire to maim one’s playmates with Daddy’s chemistry set…deservedly reap my strongest disdain.

    To all of the good people at NAR: scorn the scientists, including me, all you like; please don’t scorn science itself, or you are just scorning yourself.

  56. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Really, this is quite entertaining. A small faction of non-“scientists, researchers and doctors” assails even the venerable Duesberg as a goon. They accuse all opponents, rethinkers, fence people, or establishment, of harboring blinding religious tendencies.
    And they offer not a shred of support for their own “explanations.”

    Whew! Talk about misrepresentation!

    First, nobody said Duesberg was a “goon”.

    If you’re talking about my posts, I’m simply saying “think for yourselves, people”! Listen, read, and take personal responsibility for what is certainly touted as a life/death situation.

    Interesting that you would even mention Duesberg as some sort of king, and that by not following him blindly, one is committing “regicide”. Then you have the audacity to talk about “blinding religious tendencies”!?

    Think for yourselves, people. It’s your life. Get on top of this thing!

  57. MacDonald Says:

    WOW!!!

    Martel wrote all that in 9 minutes!!

  58. Martel Says:

    MacDonald,

    The hand of God was guiding me, as the hand of God guides the otherwise-impossible transformation of HERVs into HIV in each patient He wishes to strike.

    Or maybe Martel is more than one person, all five of whom have recently received Christmas bonuses from the NIH.

    Or maybe I wasted an hour writing the verbosity, posted my Voldemort theory in another window, then sent in the other post.

    Between us, the first explanation is the most probable!

  59. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Okay. So there does appear to be too much identity-morphing going on here. I don’t know who Wily is or who Gene is, or who Martel is really either. I used to post under my real name. I’ve been SA, nohivmeds, and Chase. What a waste. Back to basics now.

    Martel — it sounds as though you are a tenured professor somewhere. Can you not use your real name? Let’s start a real name revolution. Your use of Voldermort makes me think I know who you are, but I’m not sure. Also — I want you to know that the effort you expend is very much appreciated. I print out each of your posts so I can re-read them multiple times and try to learn. Thank you for trying to teach here.

    If having a PhD means I’m a goon, then I’m a goon, but no, not circa 1958. I wasn’t even born. And clearly, I’m not a microbio goon. I think everyone knows I’m a behavioral scientist (I read that you have some disdain for my field, Martel — do try not to generalize — not all of us run around using the word “heuristic”). So I do have to work extra hard to get the microbio — my year and half at Rockefeller in Neurobio and Behavior (Pfaff lab — don’t ask, I hate talking about it) was not quite enough.

    I just want to say that I really hate to think that I’m expending precious energy being open and kind to a bunch of pseudo-people. If Gene and Wily are the same person, I’d like to say: Screw you. This is all confusing enough. If you can’t help clarify, throw light on something — then, you’ve had your fun. Move on.

  60. MacDonald Says:

    Martel,

    Whatever it is, it seems serious. At this advanced stage we usually counsel people to sit down with a dozen smooth, round stones: Slowly circulate the stones as you insert them in your mouth and suck them one by one until you feel calm and balanced.
    That is if you are inclined to accept YBYL’s post-modern therapeutic advice. If not, you can follow Chris Noble’s example in this as so many other respects and go work in your garden until a similar effect is observed.

    Mark,

    It seems Martel has gotten carried away a little bit by his own sophistication with regard to Gene’s choice of Greek. Here are some slightly less technical definitions of ‘heuristic’, which may make more sense:

    1. serving to indicate or point out; stimulating interest as a means of furthering investigation.

    2. encouraging a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems on his or her own, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error.

  61. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Thanks, Mac, but I knew what a heuristic was before Martel defined it. And he’s right that the term has been horrendously overutilized in the behavioral sciences, to the point where it no longer has any real value. I use “explanatory framework” instead, although that too seems jargon-ish. What can you do?
    And really, the reason I’m even here at NAR is because of the many legitimate “explanatory frameworks” that are available to explain what we discuss here as “AIDS.”

  62. YossariansGhostbuster Says:

    “Let’s start a real name revolution.”

    Please, let us not drag the herring of credulity across the plains of absurdity here at NAR.

    As any fool knows, science by blogosphere is an inexact modality not conducive to application exterior to cyberspace
    or other parrallel universities.

  63. Gene Says:

    Martel,

    Wow! A brilliant performance. Do you teach on the subject of cognitive dissonance?

    However, I must confess, seeing your other posts that I was expecting a totally different response; something more worthy of the heavyweight.

    But obviously, the papers I’ve read on the subjects of your prolific essay do not exist. Denialism par excellence. Or too much of that postmodern drug and I’ve been hallucinating.

    And the professorial manner in which you evade a few simple arguments. What could these reactions possibly be that s/he’s talking about? Oh, was I too brief? Did you need the modifiers biochemical or metabolic?

    And bringing in fascist philosophy and the Sokal hoax; really, Martel, we can keep this jousting going for quite some time spicing things in this manner. And solve the political crisis, too boot.

    In fact, I’m flattered that you would even compare me to postmodernists and what they can get away with. After all, with you and I deconstructing for the masses, it could be a good living.

    I especially love the way you figured out what I understand from a few sentences. Can I sign up for your course on that technique?

    And thank you for reviewing EVERYTHING and clearing up that hallucination on that nonexistent research group that gave a date for the origin of HIV. Los Alamos? The beautiful finding that disposed of that ugly Hooper theory, as Robin Weiss put it? Naaaah

    Oh yeah, at this point I’m supposed to “clarify” what I mean, show my references and begin that endless spiral into Chris and Dale hell. I don’t think so.

    And since I’m one of those procrastinators who just wants to have some holiday fun, let’s put off the totally serious part, the matter of the incomplete human genome project, Lamark’s Signature (did you find those papers in your review of everything? could they, gasp , actually have something to do with hypermutation?) and other stuff retroviral.

    I also think it would be entertaining, in the manner that you’ve laid out, to interrupt the geek-tech talk with comparisons such as uniquely unique HIV defenders and the politicians who call for one last surge in Iraq. We can set ground rules to make it interesting for folks like Wily. No more referring to ancient history, points that have been beaten to death, etc.

    and why not go all the way pushing the postmodern envelope so to speak defending papers like retrotransposons as engines of human bodily transformation by colm kelleher a nuts and bolts retroviral researcher

    See, in this manner, if I direct you to Professor Strohman on “genotype-phenotype complexity theory”, you might not dismiss it as just another postmodern bluff.

    Oh, I almost forgot: is there a substantive body of evidence that HIV causes AIDS or that BLAST searches are necessary to sustain a counterargument to this never-proven hypothesis?

    No

  64. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Sounds a lot like Harvey. Interesting that he’d mention Dale. Refers to Strohman. I don’t know. I think a little real name credulity would do just fine here, Ciaran McKiernan. Otherwise, it looks as though the whole thread will be high-jacked. That would be a shame. What do you think, TS? Time for the big “reveal?”

  65. McKiernan Says:

    Mark,

    The notion that Harvey Bialy PHD will disclose his multiple blogospheric nomenclature borders on naivete. Bialys are seemingly the personnae in charge—los controlleros—the control freaks. Bialys believe they are in charge of something . There are only two views: Fauci/NIH/Big Pharma and company vs them, ie. merely two paradigma, no other views shall one be permitted, as the thrust is to seek the holy grail of the goddess scientia for themselves.

    Alas, the rest of us all are sick, under-informed sock puppeteers.

    End of fantasy

  66. Robert Houston Says:

    With all due respect, McK, I don’t believe that Gene is Harvey Bialy. I recognize Gene’s technical telegraphic style as that of the commentator “Gene Semon” who used to post here. I was informed that he is in fact a doctoral level scientist. I’m very glad that he has returned. Gene has provided some of the most perceptive and well-informed comments at this site.

    Despite the show of bafflement by Dr. Biernbaum and Dr. Martel, Gene’s original comment seemed fairly clear: an exogenous virus mutates and so will not display exact sequences of HERVs to which it may be related.

  67. Truthseeker Says:

    “Let’s start a real name revolution.” …Sounds a lot like Harvey. Interesting that he’d mention Dale. Refers to Strohman. I don’t know. I think a little real name credulity would do just fine here, Ciaran McKiernan. Otherwise, it looks as though the whole thread will be high-jacked. That would be a shame. What do you think, TS? Time for the big “reveal?”

    Congratulations Mark Biernbaum for “coming out” and we hope everyone else will too. Why not take credit for your work? Is Dr Fauci watching us so closely? Seems doubtful.

    It’s a tough question, though, perhaps insoluble – how far does one use anonymity on the Web? Duesberg in effect came out and lost all NIH support for over two decades. The intellectual issue is honesty, which is the crux of the critique of any religion. However, the fundamental topic here on this blog is really how power politics affects science, and coming out risks a political penalty for many people. Sure, we agree that a real name carries more weight just because the owner takes more responsibility. But can s/he afford it?

    As long as Google is not yet reading Comments perhaps no one need use a moniker here unless they have strong professional reasons for doing so eg they are going to be embarrassed if their colleagues realise they have a antisocial tendency to think for themselves, when of course the real embarrassment is the difficulty of justifying paradigmatic nonsense, which their colleagues aare fearful of.

    That seems to us the key to why questioners are deplored and isolated, and avoided if they are encountered in person. If treated seriously they threaten loss of face to anyone who tries to answer them, since the paradigm is so weak, and that is something no one in an institution or other system of power can afford. But of course this circle has to be broken by anyone who hopes to change a paradigm, especially if it is maintained by official propaganda and censorship as this one is.

    Stand up and stand for or you stand still, someone once advised. On the other hand, stick out your neck too early and it may be chopped off. When trying to influence leaders discretion is surely advised if you are going to contradict conventional wisdom.

    Our not very strong reasons for using a pseudonym are explained below and merely add up to flying below the pr radar as far as is reasonably possible, without thinking that it is any kind of complete cloak. Having visited the heart of darkness at HIV/NET and other establishment meetings under our own name and now having just done an hour long TV interview linked to the blog which is destined for YouTube after broadcast we have just entered the public fray more than before, but our name has been fixed to published articles on the topic long enough for any googling to damn us forever anyway.

    We stick with the editorial we for the same reason and because this site uses more than one giant brain to reach its conclusions, and other people were expected to post here and still are. Have to say as a writer by trade we find the more illiterate pseudonyms used here to be a little unnecessary for the most part, and the tendency of certain parties to change them all the time does smack of the desire for control that our distinguished poster above points out. But we understand the impulse.

    And if you must use a pseudonym Wily Retrovirus is at least pertinent and amusing. By the way we find clever googling can often reveal who someone completely anonymous is after a while when they let their hair down more.

  68. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Your question about Google capturing comments is not easy to answer. If you search my name, some of my previous comments at NAR come up, some do not. Nothing I’ve written in this thread has come up so far. Perhaps Google has to already know you to capture your name. I don’t know. Perhaps green borders make a difference. We’d have to ask the folks at Google.

    I think all of your points are well-taken, TS. Your anonymity is not at issue, as the “Founder and Editor” line below clears up any questions one might have about who you are. Frankly, I don’t think I have that much to lose by sticking my neck out. I made my one big contribution to academia, published my one big paper, and then got out. My current job does not rely on grant support from the NIH, although many of my previous jobs did.

    I think though, that as the “experts,” like Gene and Martel weigh in, we’ve all got a right to ask — who are you? Why should we believe you? The answer involves not just that they can make an argument that is of interest to us — at this point, I think it involves more than that.

    Robert Houston says he finds Gene’s comments sensical. That’s good. That makes one of us. How can I possibly vet what he has written? He throws important names around — names of people whose reputations are well-known. Why doesn’t he use his own full name, so that we can all benefit from knowing how well he knows what he says he knows? I think a reporter, like TS, would want to vet him. I know that as a patient advocate, l want to vet him. And Martel too. Regular folks who have no name recognition at stake — fine, let them post under clever pseudonyms. But as the discussion wades into areas that, my apologies to Robert Houston, are not at all clear from a scholarly perspective, it seems time that those “scholars” weiging in, should weigh in with their real names. It seems time, to me, that rethinkers recognize more than the handful of names that have been fighting this fight for 20 years. I think they’ve done enough. They put their necks out a long time ago, and had they not done so, this forum would not exist. Time for others to make the same gesture. Fauci doesn’t control elite CIA death squads. What is the fear?

    Even though I’ve stated that I admire Martel’s way of explaining things (and indeed I do, Martel), my admiration is only going to extend so far, ultimately. Gene, Martel, others who claim a certain level of expertise, you will need to “come out” as it were, to gain my support at this point (although I feel fairly certain my support means nothing to you, so be it) — otherwise, even if what you write rings true, my position will be that it is mostly gobbledy-gook unless it’s attached to a name. Your relevance is in doubt, as far as I’m concerned. You’ve had your fun, playing fast and wild with your academic training and your knowledge. I think that time has past. It is almost a year now since Celia Farber published “Out of Control” in Harper’s and blew the roof off this thing. Time to join her, our Founder and Editor, and the many others who have made sacrifices (including the infamous Harvey Bialy), and come out, come out, whomever you are.

  69. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    And as to the question of the infamous Dr. H.B. being an “elite controller” of what appears in these comments, and what appears over at the censorious YBYL as well — you’re right McKiernan. He has exercised a level of interference that is, ultimately, totally unacceptable. You’re right to say that he only accepts the existence of two paradigms. However, that doesn’t mean that only two paradigms exist. I made a rather big deal about the Fence recently. I pushed it until, I think, it gained some ground, despite the maneuverings of folks like Dr. H.B. And I’ve said it a million times it seems — the rethinkers are about as tolerant of divergent views as the Establishment is (which is to say, that they are pretty much completely intolerant).

    However, we can’t expect that they would be more tolerant. Their entire careers, in fact, have been sacrificed to make certain that there was at least one alternative view, so their continued defense of that alternative, and no other, should not surprise us. That said, however, it is time for them to sit back, recognize that they have been, in large measure, successful in keeping their alternative view alive, and not be so threatened by the emergence of even more viewpoints. If you research my earliest writings on this topic (especially, “I am an AIDS terrorist” at Dean Esmay’s site, for example), you’ll see that my position has always diverged from the two recognized positions.

    My tune has not changed in the past year, and it isn’t going to. Time for rethinkers to realize that I, and others who profer other alternative views, are not the enemy. In fact, the multiplication of views only serves to continue to chip away at the control the Establishment has had. Time to recognize that. And yes, high time that the back stage maneuvergings of Dr H.B. cease. No more emails to your acolytes, telling them what to say, organizing attacks on those you perceive as a threat. No more multiple personalities. Those are school-yard games. This is reality. Game over.

  70. McKiernan Says:

    Sorry, this is cyberspace. As long as the combox is empty, we take exception to fill it as we wish with respect of course to the first amendment of the Constitution under the below sign that says forget personal information.

  71. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    You’re free to take exception, McKiernan. Everyone already knows who you are.

  72. McKiernan Says:

    Oops, I goofed. It only says forget personal information if one posts as a guest not a registered user. How unfair is that.

  73. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    This self-important posturing with regard to names and titles will run its course in very little time here, I believe.

    So, enjoy it while you can.

  74. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Thanks, Wily. I will. By the way: who are you?

  75. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Both Professor Charles Geshetker and Gene Semon, in his posts at YBYL, seem very fond of the phrase “wily retrovirus.”

  76. Otis Says:

    I irrregularly check NAR to see what may need correcting:

    1. I am the editor, and as with every other publication in the world, the editor controls the contents. If you have a problem with that, cancel your subscription.

    2. HIV, considered as a horizontally transmissible, infectious agent, is an essentially harmless passenger.

    The evidence over 25 years is clear and irrefutable.

    HIV/AIDS and the entire pandemic are like so much else in this “postmodern” world, oversold hyperbole. HIV/AIDS differs in that it is genocidal and therefore worth any effort to combat.

    That is the firm, editorial position of YBYL.

  77. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Great, Otis. Who, exactly, IS the editor? What are his scientific and editorial qualifications?

  78. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    You see, I happen to know that TS is qualified to edit this site. I know him. I know his qualifications. That gives me a measure of faith in him (even though that might be misplaced, one never knows). But I don’t know you from the next chump I pass on the street, Otis. So why would I be interested in a word you have to say?

  79. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    McKiernan is right. I am too. YBYL is a closed circuit. Only those invited to write are “in.” How lovely for them. I haven’t paid much attention to the site since you were “installed” as editor by our mutual lawyer friend, whom I did have a measure of trust in, that was indeed misplaced. YBYL is a social club. It might have better Alexa rankings than this site, but that’s probably because those in the club visit so very often.

  80. Otis Says:

    Let me try and explain a simple thing to Dr. Biernbaum.

    As editor I control the contents. I think I wrote that before, perhaps he missed it thus the bold.

    All of the contributors to YBYL are properly identified, and I assure you not one of them is me.

  81. Truthseeker Says:

    even if what you write rings true, my position will be that it is mostly gobbledy-gook unless it’s attached to a name. MB

    Our position would be that statements stand or fall according to the references given, ie the scientific literature, such as it is, corrupted though it may be with bad work and bias, etc. Certainly who someone is, is irrelevant to whether we accept what they say or not. Dr Fauci has more credentials than you can shake a stick at and yet talks nonsense in public about eg the modus operandi of the Virus which is contradicted by the literature he wrote himself. The authority of a name in science is useless when the politics of power and money distort what people say.

    As a matter of fact, the attitude that one wants to know the
    credentials of a speaker before evaluating what s/he says has another flaw, in our experience, which is that expertise and reliability in one area may go with error and even lunacy in another. There are several examples among the people who support Duesberg’s soundly based scientific critique of HIV∫AIDS very articulately who are unreliable in other areas, either of behavior or research. One sends crazy, vitriolic email to anyone he thinks doesn’t understand or disagrees with him, one believes in flying saucers and that women in the street are propositioning him, and so forth. This kind of scholastic inconsistency, this Jekyll and Hyde schizophrenia seems to be part of the human condition, with the sole exception of all distinguished posters to this board, fortunately.

    However, that doesn’t mean that only two paradigms exist. I made a rather big deal about the Fence recently. I pushed it until, I think, it gained some ground, despite the maneuverings of folks like Dr. H.B. And I’ve said it a million times it seems — the rethinkers are about as tolerant of divergent views as the Establishment is (which is to say, that they are pretty much completely intolerant). MB

    Here you go astray, Mark, as far as we are concerned. This is a critique and rejection of the paradigm that HIV causes AIDS, by a renowned scientist who is a specialist in the working with retroviruses (there’s the authority you seek). It is not one paradigm versus another, except that naturally having rejected the suspicion of HIV as groundless, unproven and yearly called ever more into question and disrepute by the work of mainstream researchers peer reviewed in the literature, one asks what is AIDS then, in reality? Duesberg’s answer (which people have no right to demand, since the literature on the topic is insufficient, because none has been funded, and they refuse to countenance any of Duesberg’s suggestions along these lines) is that the history and experience of GRID/AIDS/HIV in the US and Europe matches gay drug orgies, and in Africa nothing has been added to the standard African and Asian suffering of disease and malnutrition, except whatever drugs have been delivered against the wishes of Mbeki courtesy of Bill Clinton and the drug marketers of America and Asia. The reason he says this is very simple. There are no extra deaths to account for, no unconventional experience.

    To say that this is another paradigm and there should be more paradigms doesn’t make much scientific sense.

    Thanks, Wily. I will. By the way: who are you?

    Wilyretrovirus is not the waspish Mexican scholar, judging from the intelligibility and the phrasing of the otherwise similar inarticulate brevity and impatience, entirely appropriate in this case.

    No more emails to your acolytes, telling them what to say, organizing attacks on those you perceive as a threat. No more multiple personalities. Those are school-yard games. This is reality. Game over. MB

    One hopes so. The cowardly political manoeverings behind the scenes you refer to are as deplorable as the ones that the paradigm defense team conducts.

  82. pat Says:

    “1. I am the editor, and as with every other publication in the world, the editor controls the contents. If you have a problem with that, cancel your subscription.”

    There’s nothing there to cancel. I do enjoy the reads but find it frustrating that any disagreeing posts get erased. But, as you said, it is your right.

  83. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    What IS in a name? That really is the quesiton of the day. Sorry to disagree, TS, but I think it has a great deal of relevance. Peter’s name, for instance, reeks of relevance, I’m sure you’d agree. Celia’s name reeks of relevance. Your real name does too. I’m not suggesting that by knowing someone’s name or credentials, one knows how to judge the information they provide. That would be silly. But it does give a person information regarding the “explanatory framework” they are most likely to employ — their name, that is. Cards on the table is what I’m asking for. And beyond that — names do carry weight. They do mean something. If we believe that the HIV/AIDS establishment must be questioned, then I think that belief is better delivered by real names, not amusing monikers.

    And dearest Otis Spunkmeyer — I don’t really care what it is you THINK you do. You’ve made it clear what you THINK you do. I just happen to THINK you you’re wrong about what it is you do. I think you stretch the meaning of the word “editor” beyond recognition. Seems other agree. Sorry.

  84. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Oh — and “gay drug orgy?” Really. Tell me more, and if possible — where can I find one of these fabulous events? “Gay drug orgy” is a rather weighty conflation of words, isn’t it. A lot of information contained therein regarding “explanatory frameworks,” or “heuristics,” if you prefer.

  85. pat Says:

    how do I edit my account so it displays my full name and email address? I want on this bandwagon

  86. MacDonald Says:

    Dear Dr. B,

    ‘Heuristic’ does NOT translate into ‘explanatory framework’ in the general definition. It is, as I’ve recently pointed out, simply a way of
    “encouraging a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems on his or her own, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error”.

    This means quite the opposite of the explanatory framework you seem to need as aid in dealing with the otherwise self-explanatory words of people commenting here.

  87. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Thanks, MacDonald. Gotcha. I think you’re missing my point. Try rereading what I wrote. Meanwhile, why not come out? Name yourself. I think we’re all clear on the explanatory framework you employ here, but we could always learn more about you. C’mon. Give it a shot, why don’t you. What do you have to lose? Tell us all a little bit more about yourself, Mac.

  88. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Pat — you just need to change your log in information to change what is displayed. It would be great to know more about you.

  89. McKiernan Says:

    pat,

    Try posting as a guest but with the same email as your regular comment entries. That way you might be able to become:

    pat-1, pat-2, patsghost, patsghostbuster or even Wiley-Pat.

    Part Two, To Otis

    When did a cyber blog ever become a publication ? Not that I’m criticizing YBYL, some of the essayists are quite respectful and non-cantankerous (is that a word ?).

    PS.

    No, I do not need to comment over at YBYL. Hank ‘n me are getting along fine these days.

  90. pat36 Says:

    cool

  91. patrick moore Says:

    better 🙂

  92. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Hi, patrick moore. Awesome.

  93. patrick moore Says:

    just a guy with a “sick” friend. His liver is weak, his neck wider than his head, his cheeks disappeared and he seems to have swallowed a basketball.
    He tried several times to commit suicide and has been in psycho-therapy since 1995 and all this because a flu, swollen glands and weight-loss 5 years after testing + for HIV and 6 years after a one-off gay experience. He was NEVER TESTED FOR ANYTHING ELSE. HIV and his one-off were his end-all. But he is blessed with a family and two children, 9 and 6. Thank God for the small mercies.
    It’s a ridiculously politicized disease and eventually the fear and activist factor gets to your health. I mention the activists because I specifically single them out for scorn. Science may be viewed by some as having been highjacked at the very least by an incompetent, mediocre bunch of science-whatevers but in my mind it is the wide-eyed diletantes that take the gold for a never ending (hopefully waning) display of dizzying daylight robberies and fear campaigns masquarading as humanitarianism. A financial heist disguised as a charity-tax. A ‘wide-eyed’ and otherwise unemployable bunch I like to think of them. This one is actually a no-brainer simply because the numbers DON’T ADD UP! And they are available free of charge! Which brings me to my beef with the scientific community; why aren’t they reigning in the hysteria instead of feeding it with more and more science fiction. Well, if you follow the money trail starting with the volounteer clowns on up, the HIV business becomes apparent. People aren’t complacent about HIV/AIDS because they think HIV is cureable; they are complacent because HIV is NOT HERE. It’s where the gays, prostitutes, africans, south-east asians and what-nots are. SIMPLE to explain to the average guilt ridden but-not-really western consumer but really dumb. It is so dimwitted, simplisticly racial and morally ambiguous it is insulting to all human intelligence and I am terribly insulted that so few have cared to notice. Battle fatigue and hopefully a rebalancing of priorities will set in soon. HIV charity is a lot like Sunday Mass; It looks good on Sundays and you have all week to fuck around.
    Ok, enough, best to stop it here.

    Do have a merry Xmas… if you do Xmas. Seriously 😉 happy holidays.

  94. patrick moore Says:

    that may have been more than was necessary…

  95. patrick moore Says:

    Hi, Mark
    Nice to see you were never really gone.

  96. Truthseeker Says:

    He tried several times to commit suicide and has been in psycho-therapy since 1995 and all this because a flu, swollen glands and weight-loss 5 years after testing + for HIV PM

    He refuses to credit your take on his predicament?

  97. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Patrick, I’m so sorry about your friend. I take it he’s on the meds? Lipodystrophy (that’s what they call all that fat redistribution) scared the shit out of me so much when it started around ’96, that that’s why I wouldn’t take the meds continuously, especially the protease inhibitors. By the time I tested positive in ’98, that is. It sounds like he isn’t getting anything near competent care. If he is on the meds, has he considered coming off of them? I understand the urge to suicide — my friend Carlos also suffered similar disfigurement, and it really got to him. He died of liver failure, after 20 years of doctors and drugs, and no treatment breaks at all. One of the last things he said to me was to never take the protease inhibitors.

    You’re right on about the never-ending, self-congratulatory fund raising. It makes me sick to my stomach as well. It’s like Larry Kramer, King of the Activists, finally admitted in Harper’s — there’s so much money involved now, it is such a sucessful industry, that there is no longer any incentive to look back or to ask questions.

    Now I understand why you’re here, and I think your friend is lucky to have you in his corner. Whether or not you can convince him of your beliefs regarding HIV’s non-existence, can you convince him to see some other professionals? To come off of the meds for a period and see what results? Is anyone at all addressing his depression? You’re right that despite having had a positive HIV test, he should be tested for other things — but I’ll tell you that is very common. As soon as one tests positive for HIV — wham — it’s always HIV-related, whatever it is. It’s infuriating. I could stub my toe, and they’d tell me the pain was due to the HIV. I understand completely why Christine Maggiore didn’t say a word about her status when she took EJ to the hospital. The HIV diagnosis is like a scarlett letter — no medical professional ever looks at you the same again. It becomes practically impossible to get anything resembling competent medical care for anything.

    If he is on the meds and his liver tests are bad, he should come off of them. Then he should go to a doctor who has a good rep and say nothing about the HIV. If they ask him to take a test, he should tell them, “no,” insist that he’s negative, and see what else they come up with. And as a psychologist, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that he should make treating his despression, which is totally justified, but will kill him faster than any infectious disease if he doesn’t deal with it head on, a priority now. My heart goes out to him, to his family, and to you. You are a loyal and good friend.

  98. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    I just re-read your comment and see that your friend has been in therapy for over 10 years now. He should fire that therapist. Email me if you want to talk more about that issue in particular (i.e., medication, therapists, what to look for, etc.). There is no reason he should have suffered with such an extreme depression for so long.

  99. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Sorry for the multiple posts, but I need to respond to TS’s comment:

    He refuses to credit your take on his predicament?

    Sometimes, TS, hitting someone over the head with the existential question of whether or not HIV exists is not the best first choice for intervention. It’s a little much to hear that after years of being scared shitless by doctors and the like — it’s just unlikely to engender the desired response. Much easier to start slow, and suggest dumping the meds for a while. You need to try to understand what things might look/feel like from the inside.

  100. patrick moore Says:

    “He refuses to credit your take on his predicament?”

    We did speak about it on occasion and he knows my reservations about it all but there is only so far I dare go. I’m not a doctor and I don’t walk in his shoes.

    Thanks Mark, I’ll take you up on that one because he does consider getting off the meds and his wife is totally for it, he’s just missing that one convincing word from the right person.

  101. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    It’s a very good way to go, Patrick. You can argue it from the point of his liver function tests alone — clearly his liver needs a break, and you only have one liver, so you’ve got to protect it. His doctor will tell him that the SMART study concluded that treatment breaks are bad. It was a rotten study. See this very good website for info on the controversy surrounding that study and on other studies involving treatment breaks — this may help, as they discuss the liver toxicity issue:

    http://www.smartattack.org

    Good luck. Tell him there’s no way a break will kill him, and nobody develops “AIDS” overnight. Suggest a month off, then repeat the liver function tests. If they’re improving, and his t-cell count is okay, suggest taking the break further and defining a t-cell set point for re-initiation of the meds (this too makes taking this risk a bit more palatable initially). A good set point that won’t put his doctor’s panties in a wad is 300. The one I have used in the past is 200, although most docs will say that’s too low. If he’s like me, his t-cells will show a quick, substantial drop, then level off — so if he does this, warn him about that and tell him not to freak. My best break lasted for 3.5 years. Best of luck and let us know how it goes.

  102. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    And tell him to email me if he wants to talk about it.

  103. Truthseeker Says:

    Sometimes, TS, hitting someone over the head with the existential question of whether or not HIV exists is not the best first choice for intervention. It’s a little much to hear that after years of being scared shitless by doctors and the like — it’s just unlikely to engender the desired response. Much easier to start slow, and suggest dumping the meds for a while. You need to try to understand what things might look/feel like from the inside.

    Sorry, Mark, didn’t mean to sound so bare of understanding, it was a one liner because it was very very late in the night/morning with no time to spare that it was written. There are times when one thanks God for your participation here and this is one of them. Your above posts are much appreciated as expert and sympathetic, and utterly illuminating on the most vexed question of all, how to help where it counts. You and Celia are beacons in the darkness with a light that should shine every day of the year, which is the essence of Christmas spirit, as Otis wrote.

  104. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Thanks, TS. That was very lovely. Means a lot. Merry Christmas to you.

  105. Martel Says:

    Happy holidays to all, and I do hope that some of you are enjoying some vacation as much as I.

    The above posts have convinced me that TS was (as so often) correct: I am indeed fighting a straw man when it comes to the HIV/HERV story. If all Gene is saying is that HIV and HERVs have some sort of evolutionary relationship, then no one would disagree, least of all I. But it seems that he, along with de Harven, is saying much more than that: that HIV does not exist as a single entity and that the grab-bag that foolish establishment types like Martel call HIV has evolved in our lifetimes from endogenous retroviruses and other genomic sequences.

    It further would appear (to me, anyway) that Gene and de Harven are standing more-or-less alone as scientists who think this way.

    I protested TS’s “straw man” earlier by pointing to my internet encounters with the HIV/HERV hypothesis, assuming (wrongly, I find) that numerous science-fluent rethinkers had assumed this position. Just when it appeared that no one here (except maybe MacDonald, although I suspected he was merely being contrarian) agreed with HIV/HERV, Gene suddenly appeared. After my embarassingly lengthy post on Friday, I still felt unsatisfied…and curious, curious as a kitten. Who was “Gene,” and how would someone so obviously intelligent and familiar with scientific terminology espouse this hairbrained hypothesis?

    I then committed a tragic mistake: I wasted yet another hour of my life. I “googled” Gene and some of the words and concepts he used and (abused). Voila: there were ALL of those many instances of HIV/HERV I had mentioned. I hadn’t noticed when I read these posts separately, days or weeks or months apart, but ALL had been placed by some permutation of Gene: “Gene,” “Gene Semon,” “Eugene Semon,” “Gene Simon,” “Grad Student,” “GS,” etc. He (associates revealed his gender several times) has posted in the past year and more on a wide variety of web sites, including NAR, YBYL, Esmay, a page moderated by one Tara Smith (a female academician whom rethinkers denigrated as “blondie” and “prom queen” merely because she is female), and many more. I even found him plugging the HERV hypothesis (not necessarily off-topic, when you think about it) on a creationist web site! Tellingly, Gene never explained his hypothesis clearly. As here on NAR, he simply flung impressive-sounding phrases into the ether and, when challenged, responded with vague (and, I would argue, irrelevant) references to papers and monographs that have nothing to do with HERVs, hypermutation, or his other pet topics. This is no surprise, of course, since Gene must be a very busy man: he variously claims to be a chemical engineer, some sort of volunteer medical practitioner who works with gay AIDS patients, a graduate student of B-cell immunology at a university not in Australia. This in addition to the gossip column he writes (as “Subversive Grad Student”) as yet another insidious pawn of Otis/Bialey.

    In any case, I will post a more scientific (and final) response within a week. I will also address the topic of my own identity, thanks, Mark!

  106. Otis Says:

    Martel,

    I beg your pardon. GS (Subversicve Grad Student) is no relation to the Gene family to which you ascribe him.

    I hope your professional deductions are better than your internet ones.

    If you want to wager something substantial on my claim, by all means.

    And referring to contributors to YBYL as “pawns of Otis/ Bialey” (whoever he is) is a turn of phrase that does a great deal more to identify you than them.

  107. kevin Says:

    Martel wrote:

    Tara Smith (a female academician whom rethinkers denigrated as “blondie” and “prom queen” merely because she is female)

    I can assure you that Tara Smith’s denigration at the hands of rethinkers is well-deserved and has less to do with the fact that she is female and far more to do with the fact that she is smug and extremely dogmatic. In fact, to my mind she is the quintessential poster child for what ails modern science; she personally profits from the current status quo and vociferously defends it on her blog, thus further legitimizing the practice of marrying academic research to corporate profiteering.

    I happen to find this to be the essential contributing factor to the many failures of modern science, particularly where human health is concerned, and I am disgusted by individuals such as Tara Smith, for they are merely one step below Gallo and the other high-profile goons who continue to soil the reputation of “good science”.

    Kevin

  108. Truthseeker Says:

    The above posts have convinced me that TS was (as so often) correct:

    This statement though highly questionable automatically earns a green border.

    rethinkers denigrated as “blondie” and “prom queen” merely because she is female)

    and the pic. But most of all her mentality, as Kevin says.

  109. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Actually…

    I remember both those terms (blondie and prom queen) being used by a very irate believer in the faith who was posting on quite a long, contentious thread at Tara’s.

    Tara seemed strangely unphased by these choice words. I believe he also called her a bitch. Maybe she’s got thick skin, or doesn’t get too ruffled as long as somebody still believes deeply in the paradigm.

    Although I can’t recall any “rethinkers” calling Tara “blondie” and “prom queen”, that doesn’t mean nobody did.

    Martel’s attempt to paint “rethinkers” in a certain light is disingenuous.

  110. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Oh Wily! That really is darling. YOU calling someone else, disingenuous. That’s my Holiday present from NAR. Thank you!

  111. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Martel,
    I understand your reaction — but my advice would be to let go of the detective work, and let go of debating the elusive Gene, whomever he is. You’ve stated your points clearly. The same cannot be said of Gene, who writes his science out in such a way that it is completely inaccessible to someone like me. Now, I don’t claim to be the greatest intellect — not even close. But I understand what you write.

    What I’m trying to say is — don’t take it personally and don’t go on any quests to unmask or unmake Gene or Wily or anyone like them. Who cares who they/he/it is/are? Understand? It’s not relevant. I don’t know your name, but your posts contain a certain genuine quality that makes me believe you’re sincere. The same is not true, again, of Gene Whomeversville. You continue to do what you do so well — explain hard-to-understand scientific concepts. Add insight and perspective. Bring positive energy. You’re a good presence here in my book. Don’t let the turkeys get you down.

  112. kevin Says:

    Martel, I must say that I am beginning to question your motives for posting on this blog. It is true that your posts are well-written, and I’ve enjoyed reading and learning about the science behind the HERV/HIV discussion. You’ve explained much with elegance and patience; however, your most recent posts have seemed to harbor more ulterior motives than I had previously noticed. You seem to be engaging in, dare I say, manipulation. Perhaps, you are just losing your patience when engaging some of the more smug posters here on NAR. I hope that is case and that you aren’t simply an establishment shill with a capable pen.

    That said, I happened to find your recent “lenghty post” quite interesting. It was insightful and typically well-composed. Curiously, I found one passage to be quite relevant when considering your last post, the one where you slyly defend the honor of Tara Smith. Once again, I’d like to assert that my primary interest in setting the record straight regarding Tara’s blog is due to her “poster child” status; thus I offer the following for consideration:

    You wrote in the “lengthy post”:

    Here, the writer ejaculates a few jargon-rich sentences for the purpose of establishing authority and ushering into the debate a sense of finality, i.e. shutting everyone up. With a few keystrokes, she convinces the audience that she is a wise sage, possessing knowledge they cannot possibly attain with ease, since they haven’t even heard these terms before, or at least not in this combination or in relation to this debate. Significantly, she makes no attempt whatsoever to explain herself.

    Maddeningly, the non-specialist (and even the specialist) is often challenged to distinguish #1 (the honest but audience-inappropriate use of appropriate jargon) from #2 (the intellectually dishonest use of inappropriate “jargon” that really means nothing).

    I find it difficult to believe that a commentator who is as sharp as yourself could fail to see that many of the posters on Tara’s blog are most certainly perveyors of #2 (as referenced above, not the brown stuff).

    In case you are sincere, here is a quote from Tara that I think proves her lack of sincerity:

    When I first heard about “alternative” theories such as intelligent design and Duesberg’s ideas, I approached them with an open mind, looking for the science that went against the mainstream. All I found was, well, garbage and logical fallacies (such as those I’ve mentioned to you previously). My mind remains open, but don’t expect such arguments as those you and others have presented to convince scientists who are knowledgeable in these areas.

    Obviously, Tara thinks that comparing rethinkers, like Duesberg, to creationists is an appropriate tactic. To my mind, such a tactic is appalling. If I’m not mistaken, Duesberg, the retrovirologist, is “knowledgeable in these areas” and that he has never publicly espoused intelligent design. Regardless, her insincere “open-mindedness” has been revealed several times, including one blog entry that is manipulatively entitled, “AIDS denial and creationism–common thread of bad statistics” (another favorite smug entry, “Do “rethinkers” ever have a point?”).

    Tara is actually not the worst offender from her blog. Many of the regular posters there are far more insidious and far more likely to resort to credentialism to end an argument with an “illiterate rethinker”. Tara is more of a naive sycophant, but, even so, I find it hard to stomach that you, Martel, could find her admirable, albeit my respect for you and your contributions here is nascent and open-ended. I hope that you will continue to contribute without resorting to dishonorable tactics like credentialism.

    Kevin

  113. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Why are we devoting any time to talking about Tara Smith here? Really, why?

  114. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Because she looks so good in that tank top. Rrrooowwwrrr

  115. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    I understand why you dislike Tara Smith, Kevin. We all dislike Tara Smith. Martel doesn’t seem to me to think much of her intellectual prowess from the passage you quote above — I’m not sure where he slyly defends her. And why give space to Tara Smith here? Honestly? We’re just advertising for her blog when we do this here. If you want to engage with her and her chump squad — I say, go for it — over at her place. Can’t NAR be a Tara-Smith-Free-Zone?

    I don’t think that Martel has engaged in any sort of “credentialism” here so far — and I think it’s pretty clear he probably has some good credentials. But he certainly hasn’t lorded them over anyone here, as far as I’m aware. Why the pre-emptory accusation of condescension? It seems unnecessary. Why not just stick to your “nascent and open-ended” respect for now? Why all of this “j’accuse!” Do you really suspect Martel of having ulterior motives or being a “shill?” Really

  116. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Do you really suspect Martel of having ulterior motives or being a “shill?” Really?

    Yes

  117. MacDonald Says:

    At the delightful prospect of appearing smug and the even more delightful one of being contrary, I must once again point out to Martel that,

    1. What I protest is your misrepresentations of other people’s (like deHarven) positions.

    2, As a consequence of that, what I defend is not the narrow HIV/HERV possibility, but the broader HIV/artefact hypothesis – if of no other merit, at least in the sense that in the process of ‘debating it to the max’, as TS puts it, we have revealed even more glaring fundamental holes in the HIV/AIDS hypothesis.

    The entire thrust of your deHarven critique is summed up in these words from Duesberg ’96 in a follow-up to the first response relentlessly posted by NAR’s hit or miss meister par excellence, the inimitable McK.

    The weakest point of the HIV-non-existentialists is their failure to explain the origin of “19 sequences encompassing the full-length, 10 kb-HIV-1 genome”

    You promise to return with a more scientific comment would certainly be a welcome change from your less than captivating accounts of irrelevant internet searches, interspersed with one-sided and equally misplaced comments on rethinker sexual harrasment, ‘gossip columns’ at YBYL, the fascist underpinnings of postmodern philosophy, somehow also meant to strike home with rethinkers, and last but not least, the inevitable rethinker-creationist connection, hallmark of the goon school graduate.

    I suggest you direct the advertised final scientific comment at Perth’s answer to Duesberg’s challenge rather than your previous strawmen and unrelated rants, then we may all truly learn something.

    Alternatively you could analyze and discuss the aforementioned scholarly contribution to the field of gay emotional maturity made by your loyal pupil and staunch defender here on NAR as prelude to the also advertized behavioural studies on sex, bath houses and drugs.

  118. MacDonald Says:

    I guess that’s field study

  119. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    I’m honored that you bothered to read my article, Mac. I didn’t know you cared about the only extant empirical refutation of a key component of Freud’s theory of homosexuality — I mean, who knew? I certainly never would have suspected it. Did you note that the press release for the article was translated into 6 different languages after the study was released, or that it was reviewed in the “Advocate?” Indeed — the fact that you have read it should indicate to you that it is quite likely that Dr. Duesberg could have relied on scholarly literature rather than anecdote. But he didn’t. Merry Christmas.

  120. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    And by the way — who are you? How about a lovely Christmas gift — your identity. Looks like I’m gonna ask you for it every time you decide to take a swipe at me. In general, I like to know who is putting me down. I’m sure you understand, seeing as you appear to understand everything.

  121. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Oh, and before I forget — please do give my regards to Harvey. Thanks.

  122. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    And Wily, darling – thank you yet again for your most recent Christmas gift to us all — you accusing someone else of having ulterior motives — that’s an adorable little package tied up with a lovely ribbon of hypocrisy. There’s one gift I won’t be returning this season. Too precious. Thanks again.

  123. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Mark,

    there’s no hypocrisy on my part.

    It’s not difficult to ascertain my views on the subject of AIDS through my commentary here. I’m not pretending to be neutral, and then showing my true colors.

    Your comment is meritless.

  124. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Well that certainly is rather judgemental coming from an anonymous poster whose masterful comments on how Tara Smith looks in tank top certainly show the level of maturity the participants in my study showed (not).

    My comments may be meritless to whomever-you-are. I don’t think others would agree. And as for my true colors — what would you know about those? I’m nothing but straight up here, and that’s beyond dispute. Have you not seen any of the hissy fits I’ve thrown? Kind of embarassing in retrospect — but quite open, honest, sincere — and known. You might not like my viewpoint, but that’s okay — I don’t like you. So we’re kind of equal.

    In any case, please don’t direct any more of your commentary in my direction, Mr. Same E. Mail as Gene. Not interested in your assessment. Remember — I don’t let the turkeys get me down. Or the Wile-E-Coyotes. Or the WilyRetroviruses, or the….etc., etc., etc. You want some legitimacy, Wily. Try being who you actually are. Until that time — don’t lecture me about hypocrisy.

  125. ghost of wiley Says:

    Mark Biernbaum,

    You did write this:

    “I’m nothing but straight up here,”

    Yes?

    I just pissed my pants or pantys,

  126. MacDonald Says:

    I like to know who is putting me down. I’m sure you understand, seeing as you appear to understand everything.

    who am I?

    I am that I am

    I am a stag: of seven tines

    I am a salmon in a pool

    I am and infant

    Eldest am I

    But not as old as Wily Harvey, although I may be Outis, the wily Homeric hero, and he most assuredly a famous filmic barrister

    I love cooking, cleaning and holding hands to country music. I go to bed early and late and I stuff my own Xmas socks.

    Don’t you know my name yet? There’s the answer.

  127. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Funny, guys. Adorable. Cute, cute, cute. You two should hook up — but there might be some fighting about who would be the top and who would be the bottom. Heck, no — you’re both so versatile . I’m sure you’d work it out. Any other mud you’d like to sling? Sling away. But I’m done for now. Waiting on some more interesting posts at this point. But do feel free to continue with the homophobic jokes and the not-so-good-will-name-hunting. Makes for scintillating reading. Really.

  128. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    In fact, I’m feeling so good right now — let me help you out, Wiley. I’m am peeing my little panties, as I run around my apartment, snorting coke, sucking cock, and prancing to Madonna! Later I plan on redecorating my neighbor’s apartment while shooting up and sharing needles with some of my friends. Then we’ll have our gay drug orgy! Can you picture it? I’m sure you can. Fun fantasy. Does it get you off? If not, try your right hand and that picture of Tara you like so much. Gotta run — people to do and places to see. We gays are oh-so-busy, doncha know! As we are so wont to say: Ciao, darlings!

  129. Wilyretrovirus Says:

    Later I plan on redecorating my neighbor’s apartment

    When you’re done with that, please help me with my apartment. It really needs some work.

  130. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    At your service, Wily. It’s part of the oath we swear when we join the secret club and get our own copies of the Gay Agenda: Leave no apartment undecorated! I’d get in terrible troubled if I declined. You don’t want to mess with the Gay Mafia. They make the Jewish mafia look like a bunch of faggots.

  131. Truthseeker Says:

    In fact, I’m feeling so good right now — let me help you out, Wiley. I’m am peeing my little panties, as I run around my apartment, snorting coke, sucking cock, and prancing to Madonna! Later I plan on redecorating my neighbor’s apartment while shooting up and sharing needles with some of my friends. Then we’ll have our gay drug orgy! Can you picture it? I’m sure you can

    No one is allowed to have such fun, Mark, you hadn’t heard? However, the comment gets a green border for being in the Christmas spirit and also for spelling panties properly.

    Christmas greetings to all distinguished posters, enlightened or not.

  132. MacDonald Says:

    Dear Dr. Biernbaum,

    I’d like to think I’m as indiscriminate as the next guy, but I really think you’ve overstepped the line in your latest posts. Picture having sex with Tara Smith, that’s totally uncalled for. GROSS!!!

  133. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Hmm. Yeah, I don’t like the idea of having sex with Tara Smith either. Blame Wily. Apparently he does like the idea.

  134. Clouds O'Sugar Says:

    You (Martel) continue to do what you do so well — explain hard-to-understand scientific concepts. Add insight and perspective. Bring positive energy. You’re a good presence here in my book. Let me suggest, Mark, that you may be the missing the boat. I spotted his error as pointed out in my post (remember “gasp” – not too difficult to understand). You demand credentials or that I spoonfeed you while the entire Internet is at your disposal to check it out for yourself. Your complete trust in martel’s explanation of V(D)J recombination as settling the matter of retroviral hypermutaion and recombination is naïve. Do I have to explain critical reading and thinking to YOU?! It seems to me that you missed the part in ordinary language (all too brief – point taken) so here I add: I would re-characterize his “positive energy” as dissembling on the subject of hypermutation.

    hitting someone over the head with the existential question of whether or not HIV exists is not the best first choice for intervention. It’s a little much to hear that after years of being scared shitless by doctors and the like — it’s just unlikely to engender the desired response. Much easier to start slow, and suggest dumping the meds for a while. You need to try to understand what things might look/feel like from the inside. Really, mark, do you know how EVERONE’S mind works when confronted with the HIVAb problem. One size fits all, according to your prescription? My own experience tells me that the first order of business involves the debunking of the tests considering the findings of Perth AND Duesberg, from which many intelligent people derive questions on the phenomena retroviruses …

    the rethinkers are about as tolerant of divergent views as the Establishment is (which is to say, that they are pretty much completely intolerant). See below comments re Hooper et al.

    Gene, who writes his science out in such a way that it is completely inaccessible to someone like me. Robert Houston says he finds Gene’s comments sensical. That’s good. That makes one of us. How can I possibly vet what he has written? He throws important names around — names of people whose reputations are well-known. Why doesn’t he use his own full name, so that we can all benefit from knowing how well he knows what he says he knows? Mark, I appreciate your problem and the desire to vet and then presumably believe my comments, if you only knew my “credentials” and bonafides. Let me be clear that as a certified lazybones, I want to be “spoonfed” as much as the next person. But why bother with the fine details of retroviruses if you think the tragic problem of serving up toxic drugs for no reason can be solved in a different manner? I’ve simply come to the conclusion that any literate person, with sufficient interest and intention to get to the bottom of the matter, can make the inaccessible texts accessible. Yes, this requires hard work, arrrgghh , but the reward is a revelation on the deep politics of science. If this doesn’t interest you, fine.

    that HIV does not exist as a single entity and that the grab-bag that foolish establishment types like Martel call HIV has evolved in our lifetimes from endogenous retroviruses and other genomic sequences.
    Very good Martel, you’ve got it. And here’s just one of many “HIV papers” that support it. Now, you can say it’s irrelevant till the cow’s come home, but maybe, just maybe, this will make sense to those very special people known as critical thinkers: “(E)ven though intersubtype recombinant viruses are quite common and appear to be transmitted, very little is known about the biological properties and fitness of these viruses. The results here suggest that the proportion of these viruses that is being transmitted may be relatively stable over the course of an epidemic that includes multiple circulating subtypes.” Here I would substitute “endemic transmission” for “an epidemic”. (Rainwater et al, No evidence for rapid subtype C spread within an epidemic in which multiple subtypes and intersubtype recombinants circulate. Aids Research and Human Retroviruses; 21, 12, 2005, 1060-65.) Martel, here, I trust you are intellectually above the tired old “your meaning is not the author’s meaning” response.

    On the matter of the famous 20+ percent of the human genome made up of retroelements: If these are molecular fossils, meaning indirect measurements of billions?! of long-gone chemical reactions that can only be MODELED in the test tube or in silico; what is it that’s so difficult to understand? It is precisely analogous to reconstructions from paleo-fossils to make the best determination of the history of higher animals. Is it too much for you, Martel, visualizing the metabolic complexity of a cell?

    Notwithstanding your error out-of-the box on the Los Alamos dating, I would also welcome anything you have to say on the Hooper-Ellswood-Stricker-Kyle theory on the origin of human exogenous retroviruses. (Really, in all sincerity – I mean this)

    * * *

    I was indeed at Dean Esmay and did ask this question of the good Dr. Bennett many moons ago: “Now, I respectfully ask you, as an expert on retroviruses, can you exclude the production of HIV sequences (as stated by Gallo’s original HTLV papers 80 to 84) in cell cultures by complementation in trans from TODAY’S known endogenous retroviral, LTR retrotransposons, LINEs, etc. sequences?” Even though, to the best of my knowledge, it has been masterly evaded by learned men such as Martel, I would certainly appreciate it if anyone can show me where it has been answered. And, not having the stamina of my good friend Chris, I have not relentlessly repeated this question over the many months. I’ve chosen instead to develop my own reasons why the answer should be no; especially considering silly ideas like careful experimentalists who shouldn’t assume their own conclusions and all that.

    I also posted this: “Additional ‘complexity’ of HIV is covered by Duesberg under the no AIDS gene argument in Harvey’s book, page 152, ‘the presumably specific genes of the HIVs are alternative reading frames of essential genes SHARED BY ALL RETROVIRUSES. Their apparent novelty is more likely to reflect new techniques of gene analysis than to represent HIV-specific retroviral functions.’” For my good friend Mck, who likes to repeat Duesberg on isolation, take note of the plural. Also, for obvious reasons, this is a critical hinge-point for the current discussion. And we’re all still waiting for a good reason why Peter Duesberg can no longer stand on this point.

    As far as the elusive hypermutation, my bad not providing this: “After two decades of research my colleagues and I now have good evidence that the tell-tale signs of ‘soma-to-germline genetic impact events’ have been etched into the very fabric of our chromosomes. This conclusion is quite the opposite to that expected under the ruling neo-Darwinian genetic paradigm based on Weismann’s Doctrine. The data have arisen from our research on the molecular genetics of the immune system, the system which allows our body to produce disease-fighting antibodies in the bloodstream. The quality of this evidence is now as strong as our confidence that the origin of craters on the surface of the moon or earth are the impact sites of large cosmic bolides such as comets and asteroids. Thus the molecular genetic evidence derived from the immune systems of higher animals point to ‘Lamarck’s Signature’, identified as the imprint of numerous soma-to-germline genetic impact events written into the DNA of our chromosomes encoding antibody genes. Such events which have repeatedly occurred over 400-million years of evolutionary time.” (E. J. Steele, QUADRANT March 2000 No. 364 Vol XLIV Number 3 pages 47 – 56. http://www.erim.org/qas2001/quadrant.html)

    “ANTIBODY GENES ARE SPECIAL RETROGENES. . . our main conclusions reside in the immune system. We find that there are many features of the ‘somatic mutation pattern’ literally written into the ‘germline configuration’ at least for antibody genes. The simplest interpretation is that all these genetic patterns have arisen by the reverse transcriptase-mediated soma-to-germline flow of genetic information. Lamarck’s legacy in modern biology we believe is now quite pervasive. It is written as ‘soma-to-germline genetic impact signatures’ into the DNA of our chromosomes.” (E. J. Steele, ibid)

    And yes, I confess to posting on one of the notorious Dembski websites an argument AGAINST a “design inference”.

    * * *
    Thanks to Martel for wasting his time into researching little ol’ me, since, as we can see from the top, I’m going through a severe identity crisis obsessing over the established HIV theories. Anything investigators, should they actually care, can tell me about myself – really, I’m touched – would be most welcome.

    Towards resolving my identity crisis, I must give thanks to the brilliant Robert Houston for restating so well what I meant about human retroviruses. My aspiration is to attain similar accomplishments and reach his level of mastery in writing. Martin Walker (Dirty Medicine) is another hero of mine.

    Special thanks to McK, my dear old friend who I initially met here. You really think I’m Harvey Bialy? I can only say thanks for the compliment.

  135. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Look, Clouds. I don’t have the time to read your enormous post, deconstructing everything I’ve written over the past week. Really. Plus, I’m not interested in reading one word from someone whose identity is a slippery as an eel. I don’t care who you are. And you COMPLETELY missed the point, that TS did not miss, regarding the following:

    hitting someone over the head with the existential question of whether or not HIV exists is not the best first choice for intervention. It’s a little much to hear that after years of being scared shitless by doctors and the like — it’s just unlikely to engender the desired response. Much easier to start slow, and suggest dumping the meds for a while. You need to try to understand what things might look/feel like from the inside. Really, mark, do you know how EVERONE’S mind works when confronted with the HIVAb problem. One size fits all, according to your prescription? My own experience tells me that the first order of business involves the debunking of the tests considering the findings of Perth AND Duesberg, from which many intelligent people derive questions on the phenomena retroviruses …

    Put simply, Clouds, you’re totally, utterly, and completely wrong.

    You don’t tell a patient who for 10 years has bought into the Establishment hook, line, and sinker, that the tests are meaningless. That’s utter bull crap. YOU DO try to get them off their meds. Clearly, you don’t give one shit about individuals, but only about your one cause. You are no different than John Moore, just on the other side of the debate. There is no place for extremism like yours.

    And I don’t “believe” everything Martel writes. I print the stuff out so I can look into it myself. Your extraordinarily biased view of me is worthy of investigation. Why is it that I get under your skin so terribly? That is something that would be worth your time to investigate. Becausee it ain’t about me, that’s clear. I’m just some proxy for a little internal rage of yours that needs stoking. Understanding that — I don’t take a word you write seriously, and never will.

    Best wishes.

  136. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    You seem to think, Clouds, that insulting someone is an effective way of teaching. I don’t think I need to tell you that it’s not. If you had wanted to communicate something to me that you felt I should know, then you chose the wrong way to do it. Would you listen to me if our positions were reversed, and I devoted substantial time to insulting you? I don’t think so.

    And understanding the mind of someone who has been treated for 10 years by the Establishment — let’s see, who would know more about that? You? Nah. Don’t think so. Get real.

  137. patrick moore Says:

    Perhaps TS could write a “Poster’s guide to the Blogsphere”. Something like:

    Think, write, pause, reconsider, re-write, pause again, think anew and re-rewrite and then and ONLY THEN…post it!

    To edit means to keep anything writen from straying from the intended point. It means cutting out all the emotional shit.
    My typical post starts out very emotional (whatever the flavor of the day) and may at first be 1000 words long and after careful review could be cut alltogether; which is mostly the norm. Take a recent post of mine; it reads only:
    “Oh, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease”
    That one took me a whole hour to write and consider. No joke (ADD perhaps).
    It’s alot like film making.
    An anecdote:
    Vancouver, three days of shooting…350 takes and NONE of it made the final cut simply because it didn’t support the story. Ask Celia Faber, she could only agree.
    Also if you do not intend to convince anyone of your argument then keep it to yourself. As Mark points out:

    “You seem to think, ******, that insulting someone is an effective way of teaching. I don’t think I need to tell you that it’s not.”

    for a great many examples of this verb(log)iage simply visit thathorribleScienceblogs.comsitethatmaynotspeakitsname (with few exceptions. ..apologies Mark, but people really need to see the lowliness of that site for themselves).

    PS: Clouds… Mark and I agree on this; It’s unescapable virtue:

    “hitting someone over the head with the existential question of whether or not HIV exists is not the best first choice for intervention. It’s a little much to hear that after years of being scared shitless by doctors and the like — it’s just unlikely to engender the desired response. Much easier to start slow, and suggest dumping the meds for a while. You need to try to understand what things might look/feel like from the inside.”

  138. McKiernan Says:

    Dear Clouds O’ Sugar,

    With respect to Robert Houston, it was error on his part when he wrote:

    “With all due respect, McK, I don’t believe that Gene is Harvey Bialy. I recognize Gene’s technical telegraphic style as that of the commentator “Gene Semon” who used to post here”.

    Accordingly, it wasn’t an error requiring defending by McK, so he thought. His comment had read :

    “The notion that Harvey Bialy PHD will disclose his multiple blogospheric nomenclature borders on naivete. Bialys are seemingly the personnae in charge—los controlleros—the control freaks.”

    Careful perusal will disclose that there are no indicators present whatsoever that assign Gene Semon to any of the multiple monikers used by HB that can be attributed to McK.

    Sometimes one wonders if any of those with the rose colored glasses ever started at ground base zero two years ago on December 28, 2004.

    And sometimes I think I am still living under the curses of my old chemistry and microbiology teachers whose standard default answer was: “go look it up you might learn something”.

  139. Truthseeker Says:

    Perhaps TS could write a “Poster’s guide to the Blogsphere”. Something like:

    Think, write, pause, reconsider, re-write, pause again, think anew and re-rewrite and then and ONLY THEN…post it!

    To edit means to keep anything writen from straying from the intended point. It means cutting out all the emotional shit.

    Glad to PM. But on a preliminary basis, we agree that reviewing and tweaking what one writes is best, just as it has always been best in days of yore to stash a furiously rude letter under one’s desk blotter for a day or two, and rewrite accordingly or even throw into the circular filing cabinet. Emotions of the moment only last with the recipient, whether they are good or bad. Best to keep on the rails of politeness at all times. And why not? Half the fury and flaming on the Web arises from misunderstanding, as the study reported in Wired News that I posted in a recent comment told us, because email tone is misinterpreted 50% of the time even by husbands and wives.

    The emotional shit however is fine we believe if it is written humorously. Adding humor is the best way to take oneself less seriously and not offend. For what are we trying to do anyway? Reach a common understanding and correct misunderstanding, no? Only the superannuated schoolboys relish the brief pleasure of insulting idiots as they deserve. The long lasting satisfaction comes from teaching them and ourselves something we didn’t know or realize.

    The intelligence and wit of some of the people writing here is unprecedented, we have to say, and the witty shouldn’t be thought insulting too readily. There are times when one laughs out loud and it is often when the renowned Dr B cracks his whip, though it is more amusing when it is on someone else’s back, of course.

    The whole point is to avoid being sucked into the void of the screen and let one’s standards go down the plug hole in the adolescent rush of viciously lashing the person who has said something certifiable.

    The internet, like success, is designed to go to one’s head and drag out of one the stuff that lurked inside all the time, but one’s common decency (and fear of a punch on the proboscis) held back.

    You can see this scientifically by the effect of measurable geographic distance on email. A certain Mexican madman is well known for writing email to colleagues that leaves them needing skin grafts. This is because the distancing of the Web is compounded by the distance his rear end is from New York LA and other US cities where his recipients wear extremely heavy winter boots that might otherwise be put to good use.

    So Patrick don’t hold back your emotinalism completely, though it does set a very good example. Houston’s almost entirely factual statements are certainly among the most effective here, we have noticed, and when he says anything at all adjectival it is usually complimentary.

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