Given Robert Houston’s witty and extremely sharp comments to the last post on Laura Bush, it is worth noting that in a predictable irony Laura Bush did have to run the gauntlet of AIDS demonstrations, but they weren’t the paradigm resistors who are quite active now in South Africa, including not only the leader of the country, the economist and intellectual Thabo Mbeki, but also now the vitamin promoting one-time protege of Linus Pauling, Mathias Rath, and his new colleague David Rasnick.
Rasnick, in what may be a momentous move on the part of a senior general of the rebel army in the land of AIDS science, recently left the side of Peter Duesberg in Berkeley to work with Rath in fighting the battle on the political front there, and helping to research alternatives to the AIDS drugs that the mainstream is anxious to feed to as many HIV-positive South Africans as possible as soon as they can get past Mbeki’s quiet foot dragging.
The demonstrators that Laura Bush was briefly bothered with were not this contingent, however, but members and supporters of the Treatment Action Campaign, TAC, who feel that the more AIDS drugs the better as soon as possible, and that any concerns about their safety let alone theoretical justification are by definition just another excuse to avoid spending money on AIDS and in Africa.
For example the Kansas City Infozine in Why Was Laura Bush Picketed in South Africa? reports that
Farid Esack is a founding member of both Treatment Action Campaign and Positive Muslims, based in Cape Town, which does work on AIDS. He said recently: “The U.S. has been doing a lot to promote the idea that it is actively engaged in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, but the truth is that it has been long on rhetoric, and short on substance. Furthermore, many of the U.S. policies on AIDS have, in fact, been counterproductive as they are tied to U.S. domestic policy questions on sexuality, on abortion and on condom usage. In South Africa, the struggle against AIDS is intensely connected to the struggle for gender justice and reproductive health, so policies of the U.S. are having an increasingly negative effect. … In fact, hundreds of protesters have showed up during Laura Bush’s visit to public venues to protest U.S. policies on HIV/AIDS.
Another stalwart quite rightly makes the point that the Bush family haven’t been very helpful on malaria and TB either:
Sameer Dossani is the director of the 50 Years Is Enough Network. He said : “Laura Bush’s recent remarks ignore the history of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. … Following a century of colonial rule, IMF and World Bank policies further decimated African economies, leaving women with few economic prospects and forcing many into the sex trade. Thus, abstinence-only sex education is a farce. The economic realities underpinning prostitution must be addressed by allowing governments to spend on AIDS treatment and prevention — including condom distribution — instead of on debt repayments and puritanical policies destined to fail the people of Africa, yet again. In 2003, Bush promised $15 billion in new money to combat AIDS in Africa, a pittance compared to U.S. military expenditures. As yet, very little of this money has materialized and the U.S. remains one of the only countries opposed to the expansion of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.”
If HIV-AIDS is ever exploded in politics as mightily as it has been in the scientific literature, then these campaigners might however be glad that to date South Africa’s government has been led by one of the few politicians in the world able and willing to read a scientific article. In 1998 Peter Duesberg published in Volume 104 of Genetica his ringing condemnation of the AIDS-HIV paradigm entitled “The AIDS dilemma: drug diseases blamed on a passenger virus”, and Thabo Mbeki read it.
As Harvey Bialy explains in his brilliantly illuminating book Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg ,Ã¢Â€Â”
Interruption for a Special Note:
At this stage in the history of this paradigm review, it must be firmly stated that any scientist who discusses HIV-AIDS and its validity without reading Bialy’s book is by definition too research-crippled to be effective in divining the truth about either the science or the politics; indeed, any one at all with any pretensions to sorting out what is valid and what is not in this politically distorted and media misreported field who hasn’t bought and read this book is entirely too under-researched to make an informed judgement of any kind, not to mention having missed out on a uniquely entertaining and intelligent classic tale of science and its paradigm-disputing sociology.
End of special note.
Ã¢Â€Â” Mbeki read this paper and it finally allowed him to understand the seeming extremely odd shape of South African AIDS epidemiology, whereby during apartheid AIDS was restricted to the same small risk groups as in the US (white urban gays and drug abusers, after apartheid ended the “epidemic” was suddenly one of poor, rural, black heterosexuals.
That is what triggered Mbeki’s giant caution over Western mainstream advice on AIDS, his mounting of an AIDS panel to sort out the matter and his subsequent disenchantment with the HIV-AIDS establishment and its advice, and his resistance to the pressures that beset him as a result, from activists, from his own country’s high court, and from the media pack from South Africa to Washington and New York, all of whom have been growling and snapping at his ankles like pit bulls ever since.
Of course most of his opponents have neither the will nor the wit to read the science for themselves, but why they don’t respect him for it and the conclusions he reached on being better informed than they are is a puzzle of human nature, possibly partly explained as part of the grand crumbling of respect for the intellectual aristocracy of any field in this democratic age where “I’m OK You’re OK” rules as a principle of public debate. Another reason might be the semi-religious impulse inherent in the willingness of the crowd to give up responsibility to leaders as soon as possible in times of war and other scares, and resent any challenge to government. In this case, the medical authority trumps the political, and becomes itself political and religious.
Be that as it may, no one now has any excuse at all for not appreciating the true situation in the science of AIDS, since Bialy’s book is available for $19.95 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or its publishers, North Atlantic Books.
In a sense, if Jim Watson’s little classic, The Double Helix served as the introduction to the modern age of competitive science, Harvey Bialy’s Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg is the new classic, the essential introduction to the post-modern age of fantasy science where billions in public money are spent on chasing theoretical goals that all the good, bright scientists know are founded on empty claims, whether they say so or not.
That, at least, is the import of the book if everything it says is accurate, and it seems inconcievable that it is not, given its details, coherence, logic and tone, all of which indicate exceptional scientific competence, and an exceptional obsession with accuracy and truth in these days of worshipful or self-serving accounts of scientists and their “breakthroughs” where the heroes often seem more at home in suits than lab coats.
Another exception, of course, being his subject, Peter Duesberg. In fact, like Johnson finding a Boswell, Duesberg has lucked into a biographer who shares his principles and passions and has written an incontrovertible biography which both justifies Duesberg’s science and in chapter and verse explains his professional difficulties as the irresistible force of idealism meeting the immovable object of self-interest.
In fact, the most stunning conclusion of this convincing indictment of the ills of modern science is that, quite apart from the AIDS debacle, it suggests that if things had been done properly we might have solved cancer by now, instead of an army of hijacked research trucks roaring full speed down the wrong side road for thirty years with barely anyone in the media or government noticing.