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Five star Time Out review for ‘Serious Adverse Events’

Rachel Shindelman finally asks the $140 billion question

What’s so dangerous about HIV critics?

Celia Farber must be pleased – a short but exquisitely sane review of her “Serious Adverse Events” appeared in Time Out Chicago (Issue 74: July 27–August 3, 2006).

Apparently the editors of this journalistic oasis have never heard of Anthony Fauci of NIAID and his ban on mentioning HIV critics who take Duesberg seriously. Or perhaps unlike the New York Times or the networks, they feel that they can afford to freely comment on the situation because they don’t need to get back to the NIH later to continue coverage of AIDS science.

Evidently up to date on the “shitstorm” that Celia stirred up with her Harper’s piece the reviewer, Rachel Shindelman, expects another one to be stirred up by this book.

If Serious Adverse Events were a work of fiction, it would be a blockbuster: It has drama, death, disease, conspiracies, heroes, villains and martyrs. As a factual account of the history of AIDS, however, it’s going to cause a shitstorm.

In a work that encompasses more than 20 years of her reporting about the AIDS crisis, Farber has collected and added to her body of work interviewing—and compiling the findings of—scientists and doctors who dissent from the mainstream findings that HIV causes AIDS. And in doing so, she’s been pissing off important people in the field, including AIDS activists, people living with HIV and AIDS and a number of prominent scientists. Critics counter that even considering that HIV may not be the cause of AIDS not only places the blame for the virus on those infected, but also encourages thousands of people to stop practicing safe sex and leaves them open to infection.

Rachel then blithely asks the big question which confounds the defenders of the faith whenever it is asked: What is so dangerous about the HIV critics, such as Duesberg or Celia?

What exactly is it that makes this information so dangerous that adults can’t be trusted with reading and interpreting it? Although they’re an eccentric group whose opinions are disputed by a number of other established scientists, her sources are far from a bunch of yahoos. They include Peter Duesberg, a member of the National Academy of Sciences who is credited with discovering the first cancer gene, and Nobel Prize–winning chemist Kary Mullis.

Sadly she then gets a bit less pointed and ends the review on a weaker note, but it still stands as an unsually straightforward improvement on the standard mealy mouthed approach which treats all critiques of the status quo in HIV?AIDS science as deluded.

In the end, Events raises intriguing questions about just how accurate the medical information we get from government sources is, and leaves the reader asking more informed questions. And in an age when new information and recommendations for treatments seem to come out every week, can one writer’s questions really be so dangerous?

There is something very wrong with US journalism if you have to go to an entertainment guide to be informed without bias. Wake up, Larry Altman of the Times, you have been shown up by a “where to go what to do weekly” in Chicago.

Five stars to Rachel Shindelman.

(show)

Time Out Chicago / Issue 74: July 27–August 3, 2006

Review

Serious Adverse Events

By Celia Farber. Melville House, $16.95.

-5 stars-

If Serious Adverse Events were a work of fiction, it would be a blockbuster: It has drama, death, disease, conspiracies, heroes, villains and martyrs. As a factual account of the history of AIDS, however, it’s going to cause a shitstorm.

In a work that encompasses more than 20 years of her reporting about the AIDS crisis, Farber has collected and added to her body of work interviewing—and compiling the findings of—scientists and doctors who dissent from the mainstream findings that HIV causes AIDS. And in doing so, she’s been pissing off important people in the field, including AIDS activists, people living with HIV and AIDS and a number of prominent scientists. Critics counter that even considering that HIV may not be the cause of AIDS not only places the blame for the virus on those infected, but also encourages thousands of people to stop practicing safe sex and leaves them open to infection.

In a letter in response to an article Farber wrote for Harper’s, Robert Gallo, head of the Institute for Human Virology, called Farber an “AIDS denialist” and equated her writing with denying the Holocaust. But it’s reactions like these that make Farber’s work so enticing. What exactly is it that makes this information so dangerous that adults can’t be trusted with reading and interpreting it? Although they’re an eccentric group whose opinions are disputed by a number of other established scientists, her sources are far from a bunch of yahoos. They include Peter Duesberg, a member of the National Academy of Sciences who is credited with discovering the first cancer gene, and Nobel Prize–winning chemist Kary Mullis.

In the end, Events raises intriguing questions about just how accurate the medical information we get from government sources is, and leaves the reader asking more informed questions. And in an age when new information and recommendations for treatments seem to come out every week, can one writer’s questions really be so dangerous?—Rachel Shindelman

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3 Responses to “Five star Time Out review for ‘Serious Adverse Events’”

  1. Claus Says:

    Either she knows more about this than she lets on or Ms. Shindelman has very keen journalistic intuition and/or courage compared to the likes of Ms. Kolhatkar. The article of course leaves something to be desired, but still, as TS points out, considering the forum, she accomplishes far more than most of her peers.With unusually keen insight and economy of writing Ms. Shindelman establishes that HIV defenders have made this a two-pronged moral issue: Questioning the HIV/AIDS model places the blame on the victims’ own behaviour, while at the same time encouraging them to behave irresponsibly. With no further comment, Ms. Shindelman leaves the inherent contradiction for any attentive reader to discover.Instead she moves on to an example of the extreme form the moral criticism takes. Again she merely lets Gallo speak for himself through his choice of analogy. Then, brilliantly, she drives a stake through the rhethoric invoking faith and hateful political agendas by one single carefully chosen word: ‘information’.Farber is not preaching any sinister faith or political agenda, neither is Duesberg or Mullis – they haven’t even been caught DUI and blaming the Jews for the war. It is not so much their personal belief systems that are deemed dangerous to the establishment as the information they make available. Ms. Shindelman has captured the two PR aspects of the HIV/AIDS issue, faith and morality, in a suggestive manner, but still without telling the reader what to think and believe. At precisely the right point she introduces the question of censorship in a way eminently appropriate for an entertainment guide. In effect she is suggesting that every child can watch gratuitous sex and violence everywhere, but here is information that even adults need to be shielded from by their institutionally appointed guardians. The natural curiosity invoked by this prohibition is not voyeuristic; it is the all American urge for freedom of thought and speech and self-determination. If for no other reason, this is why you should read the book, see the movie, feed your head. Five stars to Ms. Shindelman!

  2. truthseeker Says:

    Five stars to Claus, Shindelman should see such an appreciation. Spot on.

  3. HankBarnes Says:

    I just bought Celia’s book from Amazon — it’s a great read. I didn’t know that Celia — the intrepid independent journalist — had spent so much time overseas and at these tedious AIDS conventions. Good for Shindelman — and, hopefully, she’ll follow in Farber’s large footsteps.Barnes, Hank

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