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AIDS denialism and scientific freedom of speech - Comments

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 1 by Cartomancer

It seems to me that censoring scientists is not going to help. Yes, there are a small number of criminally negligent or intellectually deficient scientists who want to publish dangerous papers on important subjects like this, but public health policy does not get made in academic journals.

The overwhelming scientific consensus on HIV and AIDS is obvious for those willing to open their eyes and see it. The only reason people like Thabo Mbeki follow the advice of quacks like Duesberg is because it chimes with their own prejudices and preconceptions. It was Mbeki who filled his advisory panels with denialists, not the editors of scientific journals.

In fact, taking heavy-handed measures to silence dangerous quacks on these topics would probably backfire. The only mindset that finds denialism credible is the conspiracy theorist's mindset, and to a conspiracy theorist censorship indicates more than anything else that a claim has value. Mbeki would have warmed to the words of Duesberg whether he was a tenured professor or just an internet hack.

Hold the policy-makers to account by all means, and put some kind of limits in place on who can advise on government policy, but censorship of scientists in the realm of academic science itself is both counter-productive and deeply distasteful.

Updated: Sat, 08 May 2010 13:37:37 UTC | #467770

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 2 by rsharvey

Cartomancer
The only reason people like Thabo Mbeki follow the advice of quacks like Duesberg is because it chimes with their own prejudices and preconceptions.

That's a good point.

We have other systems in place to account for bad science. We can control the groups who have the ear of governments. The Andrew Wakefield case only raised the question of scientific censorship because the Lancet didn't do a good enough job on the editorial side.

It does raise the possibility that once in a while a crackpot theory will slip through the system and cause untold damage, but I can't think of a form of censorship that the same could not be said of.

I think censorship is something that has a trajectory, and it tends to creep - the precedent of a case such as this could be used to silence other forms of controversial but nonetheless important and well meaning science.

 

Sat, 08 May 2010 13:57:31 UTC | #467774

iraszl's Avatar Comment 3 by iraszl

I think censoring as banning isn't going to work or do any good. What we need is to inject a certain social media like rating and filtering of publications, so that not everything gets the same importance and weight.

Sat, 08 May 2010 14:28:52 UTC | #467780

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 4 by rsharvey

Having now read the Times' piece, its terrifying, and I would like to qualify my first post, as it was complacent. The systems we have in place work well in scientifically literate countries, where information is freely available to those who seek it, and long tested institutions do their jobs. 

But what options could be advanced in a situation such as that in South Africa? Do we, in a paternalistic manner administer the drugs ourselves and say 'this is for your own good', 'trust us' or do we let them decide for themselves and use what scraps of science or fiction they are fed by their often ignorant governments? Either seems quite immoral, though I feel the latter more so than the former.

It would be deeply immoral to sit back while the Catholic church and men in the mould of Thabo Mbeki fed lies to the people of South Africa. But what is the alternative? 

It still occurs to me that, as Cartomancer pointed out, science is not what needs to be censored: it is those who propagate the ideas.

Sat, 08 May 2010 14:30:49 UTC | #467781

Iterated's Avatar Comment 5 by Iterated

For perhaps the same reason many trust human judgment over mathematical linear models, many tend to take expertise as a greater indicator of truth than empirically collected data. For example, to the layman it seems reasonable to trust the predictions of expert political analysts, but Philip Tetlock shows us in Expert Political Judgment (2005) that we cannot take their word for granted. It's precisely this human belief in expertise that raises the question of scientific censorship in the first place; although the scientific community knows that all conclusions should be weighed as a function of the data behind them, the general population may give higher weight to the word of a scientist while making a judgment about the truth of a claim simply because the scientist is a professional.

As a student of psychological judgment and decision making, I urge that we do not ignore the base rate - although there are many instances where scientists have correctly drawn unpopular conclusions (Darwin, for example), to examine only those while making decisions about our opinion would be to confirmatory hypothesis test. I'm sure there have been many unpopular beliefs throughout history that were simply false, and PERHAPS they are more numerate than those which were true. I do NOT think that the scientific community should experience such a censorship as the article suggested, although perhaps conclusions judged unpopular should be held to an enforced higher standard of scrutiny. More rigorous peer review (principle of parsimony, data replication, etc) may do exactly as censorship would without disallowing some scientific truths from coming about. Additionally, scientists concluding about something (especially to non-scientists) should be questioned vehemently about the sources and data behind their claim to test for the conclusions' parsimony and validity.

Sat, 08 May 2010 14:42:31 UTC | #467782

vote1dionysos's Avatar Comment 6 by vote1dionysos

how can you "sometimes" break a taboo? once the taboo is broken there is no more taboo.

then there is the age old argument on censorship of who decides what dose and what dosenot get censord? the arguments against censorship could go on ad infinitum.

my first reaction is that there should be some accountability, but as was raised in the article, how do you prove culpability?

on the issue of culpability i feel there are two seperate issues. firstly, the people in the usa who choose not to believe in the medical science, have made what i would consider an informed decision, in so much as they are an educated society, with all the technology and information available to them to persuade their decision either for or against. if they choose to ignore medical science for what ever reason  then so be it, its their decision and they must take responsability for it.

south africa on the other hand is a diferent kettleof fish. they had no decision to make, it was made for them by Mbeki in which he failed miserably. the fact they suggested beetroot and garlic as an alternative treatment suggests to me it was not a failure of understanding, but rather a failing to care or have any interest in the problem, to the detriment of hundreds of thousands of people.

the media was right to shun Duesberg untill he had some quantifiable evidence to support his theory. to be honest i thought hiv and aids were set in stone, and had not heard of any denialism in my little corner of the dung heap.

bruce charlton was right to publish Duesberg's paper under the ethos of "medical hypotoses". personally i would question the need for such a rag, sounds like somthing Murdoch would own.

sorry thats it for now, i have no answers. my heart says yes to cencorship under certain circumstances, my head tells me it's the thin edge of a potentially large wedge.

do i feel sorry for people who choose to not take meds whist in a position to know all the info "no"

should Mbeki be relived of his testicular fortitude "abs-bloody-lutley"

is bruce charlton a scape goat "?"

 

Sat, 08 May 2010 15:35:28 UTC | #467789

SteveN's Avatar Comment 7 by SteveN

As someone who has spent the last 23 years working on the development of AIDS vaccines and on aspects of AIDS pathogenesis, I have very little time or respect for scientists like Duesberg who have abondoned all vestiges of objective thought in order to promote their delusions. However, I also feel it would be wrong to censor scientists, no matter how deluded, if their views do not match the scientific consensus - the history of science is highlighted with too many such rebels who turned out to be right for this to be a good idea.

Duesberg has lost all credibility in the scientific community because of his stance and will be remembered as a rogue scientist who was indirectly (or even directly?) responsible for the unnecessary deaths of many thousands of people. That will be his legacy. It is the politicians like Mbeki who ignore the advice and downright pleadings of the overwhelming majority of real experts in the field to promote a personal agenda at the expense of his people that should be held accountable.

By the way, this thread is likely to attract a viscious attack by the denialists. In my experience they are worse than creationists when it comes to reasoned discussion. I once took part in a long and ulitimately fruitless thread on the old forum and vowed never to do so again.

Updated: Sat, 08 May 2010 15:48:31 UTC | #467793

SteveN's Avatar Comment 8 by SteveN

Hmmm... The comment editor still appears to be buggy. It stripped out all my paragraph breaks, even after multiple attempts at correction.

Sat, 08 May 2010 15:57:44 UTC | #467797

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 9 by mordacious1

I find myself supporting Bruce Charlton's publication of Peter Duesberg's paper.  Medical Hypotheses is just the place for such papers. If one wants to read papers that are peer reviewed go to Nature, Science , the British Medical Journal or JAMA. If you're reading articles in Medical Hypotheses,  then you have to be smart enough to realize what the source of the information is. Suppressing the off-based thinking in this journal, just allows it to pop up elsewhere. Granted, people will use these articles, by otherwise respected scientists, for nefarious purposes and people may die. Censoring thought, no matter how repulsive, is not the answer. Attacking these deniers with the full weight of the scientific community is.

Sat, 08 May 2010 17:05:12 UTC | #467808

Comte de Saint-Germain's Avatar Comment 10 by Comte de Saint-Germain

Who needs censorship? As long as science journals publish only science, there will be no problem. If one can present a valid empirical study that demonstrate the lack of a connection between HIV and AIDS, it should be published. An opinionated article without any factual support that contradicts scientific evidence is not science.

Choosing not the publish an article that does not fit in the format of one's journal is not censorship, it's good editing.  Censorship is not publishing an article that is valid in its scientific character. They key difference is never the controversy of the article, but the scientific character, which can be measured by any half-decent peer-review council. 

 

Sat, 08 May 2010 17:27:42 UTC | #467815

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 11 by InYourFaceNewYorker

I don't know what to think. If somebody wants to believe pseudoscience and essentially kill themselves, then they're welcome to it. It's their body. But, of course, they don't realize that this is what they're doing.

The problem is that, at least in the United States, there is some corruption in pharmaceutical companies. Of course, this leads to some people saying that if there is some corruption, then it must mean that all medical science is a big conspiracy and not to be trusted. I know a guy who read some ebook online that claimed that if an HIV infected person ate a very, very restricted diet, the virus would have an inhabitable vessel in which to live and would eventually die. I have little doubt that things like diet and exercise affect prognosis, but to say that a very specific diet (all raw foods, if I remember correctly) will lead to the virus's eradication is just absurd.

What also scares me is the guy who told me this has Alport Syndrome, which is a genetic disease that destroys the kidneys. His kidneys were destroyed, and he actually just got a transplant a couple days ago. So fortunately in his case he trusts medical science, at least as far as his Alport Syndrome is concerned. But what if he had had HIV? Or what if he had read some bullshit about damaged kidneys being resurrected by some magical diet? What then?

A couple years ago, he actually had a heart attack. He was fortunate enough that he collapsed in front of a police officer, who then called 9-1-1. The paramedics had trouble restarting his heart, and would have given up if not for his mother insisting that they keep trying. Amazingly, not only did his heart restart, but he did not suffer any brain damage. I'm guessing they did it very quickly. My friend (who I think is pretty apathetic toward religion) went on and on about how it was a miracle. He wasn't saying it in the abstract, "Oh I'm so glad to be alive" sense. He was talking about how a faith healer was brought in and how he had had brain damage and that it miraculously reversed itself." I told him, "I'm glad that you're alive, but you must have misunderstood what had been said to you. You cannot reverse brain damage. Obviously the paramedics got to you in time and restarted your heart before anything happened to your brain."

So what is the answer? Why is it safe for bullshit papers such as the one by this scientist to get published? Is it because religion has so much respect that it makes it safe for all points of view, no matter how absurd, to get published? Was this paper peer-reviewed? And how did that McIntosh guy get to be a professor of thermodynamics when he said that evolution violated the second law? (That interview was appalling and I practically cheered when Richard chewed him out).

Anyway, my short answer is that I fear censorship of this guy's stupid paper will just rile up people who think that medical science is a big conspiracy and will just make things worse, and make it safer for people who are already suspicious to buy into pseudoscience.

Julie

 

Sat, 08 May 2010 17:54:51 UTC | #467825

liddington's Avatar Comment 12 by liddington

Well I know Dawkins has a well developed taste for censorship when he can get away with it as on the old RDF but fortunately he can't get away with it elsewhere. I support the peer review process and open debate over censorship.

Sat, 08 May 2010 18:03:25 UTC | #467829

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 13 by InYourFaceNewYorker

liddington
Well I know Dawkins has a well developed taste for censorship when he can get away with it as on the old RDF
Huh?

Sat, 08 May 2010 18:08:26 UTC | #467833

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 14 by mordacious1

Comte de Saint-Germain

Choosing not the publish an article that does not fit in the format of one's journal is not censorship, it's good editing.  Censorship is not publishing an article that is valid in its scientific character. They key difference is never the controversy of the article, but the scientific character, which can be measured by any half-decent peer-review council. 

Bruce Charlton's point was that Duesberg's article was exactly what should be printed in  Medical Hypotheses. The fact that he was fired for doing so, is censorship. Btw, he WAS the Editor-in-Chief, so your point about it being "good editing" is a poor one.

Updated: Sat, 08 May 2010 18:22:22 UTC | #467838

seals's Avatar Comment 15 by seals

Surely the AIDS - HIV denialist kind of claim, which has such disastrous consequences, while not being totally censored, should at least be confined to Fortean Times type of publications. I doubt if Duesberg believes the denialism himself.  If he is so positive HIV not only doesn't cause AIDS but is harmless, presumably he wouldn't mind injecting himself with it?  If he refused, what does that tell you. (He would have to be administered a syringe containing an inert substance though, just in case he actually did it).

 

I have to C&P Richard's link to get it to work.  I had the same problem with a link earlier and am using a mac computer (as I guess he is?) - perhaps the link button doesn't work properly for the mac? (small sample I know!)

 

Sat, 08 May 2010 19:17:46 UTC | #467847

Gallstones's Avatar Comment 16 by Gallstones

seals
Surely the AIDS - HIV denialist kind of claim, which has such disastrous consequences, while not being totally censored, should at least be confined to Fortean Times type of publications. I doubt if Duesberg believes the denialism himself.  If he is so positive HIV not only doesn't cause AIDS but is harmless, presumably he wouldn't mind injecting himself with it?  If he refused, what does that tell you. (He would have to be administered a syringe containing an inert substance though, just in case he actually did it). I have to C&P Richard's link to get it to work.  I had the same problem with a link earlier and am using a mac computer (as I guess he is?) - perhaps the link button doesn't work properly for the mac? (small sample I know!) 

 

I noticed that too. Too fucking inconvenient. Even Flickr allows clickable links, Geez.

 

Sat, 08 May 2010 19:32:15 UTC | #467850

/Mike's Avatar Comment 17 by /Mike

seals
I have to C&P Richard's link to get it to work. I had the same problem with a link earlier and am using a mac computer (as I guess he is?) - perhaps the link button doesn't work properly for the mac? (small sample I know!)
I updated the link in Richard's post. It should be working for everyone now

Sat, 08 May 2010 19:59:31 UTC | #467859

ukantic's Avatar Comment 18 by ukantic

Of course scientists should be allowed to express unconventional ideas and views, regardless of how unpopular, controversial or stupid they may be. However, that does not relieve them of their personal responsibility not to actively endanger other people's health or lives. Yet this is precisely what Duesberg did when he promoted his bizarre views on AIDS in a continent being torn apart by it.

Of course, the resultant carnage was not all Duesberg's fault (a figure of 343,000 deaths is quoted in Ben Goldacre's, Bad Science), but if the human bonemeal fertilizer factory starts handing out medals for productivity, he would take at least a bronze. Mbeki would take gold.

I could probably say more about what I really think of Duesberg, but I have had a few drinks, so it's probably not such a good idea.

Alan

Updated: Sat, 08 May 2010 23:51:07 UTC | #467913

Linda TX's Avatar Comment 19 by Linda TX

I read THE article "Unconventional thinkers or recklessly dangerous minds?" It reminded me of Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day; the story of a technocratic utopia in which people who don’t think like everyone else are sick and receive treatment.

 

I don’t know if the scientist’s theory was responsible for all that mayhem I had to sluck through to get to what the scientist was really saying. I don’t think one of the world’s leading experts on retroviruses, Peter Duesberg, is an HIV denier. I think he believes it exists. From what I have read he does not agree that HIV is the cause of AIDS. The controversy is about what really happens with AIDS and whether efforts should be spent on combating HIV when it is clear that there is at least some doubt. There are other scientists who agree that HIV alone cannot be responsible for the depletion of the T-cell count seen in AIDS patients. I read that some people with AIDS have latent or inactive HIV. Even one exception to any hypothesis is adequate to question it. There are people with HIV that do not have AIDS - they have a normal T-cell count. However, I don’t see how this would prevent anyone from using precaution to prevent becoming infected or seeking medical care if they thought they were infected. I think what is dangerous is the exploitation over a very controversial issue to raise the question of censorship. Leave out all the melodrama and it comes down to a scientist disagreed with everyone, and therefore he was punished and censored. Even if he turns out to be wrong,there is still no cure for AIDS.

Sun, 09 May 2010 01:14:37 UTC | #467924

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 20 by InYourFaceNewYorker

 

Linda TX
I read THE article "Unconventional thinkers or recklessly dangerous minds?" It reminded me of Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day; the story of a technocratic utopia in which people who don’t think like everyone else are sick and receive treatment.   I don’t know if the scientist’s theory was responsible for all that mayhem I had to sluck through to get to what the scientist was really saying. I don’t think one of the world’s leading experts on retroviruses, Peter Duesberg, is an HIV denier. I think he believes it exists. From what I have read he does not agree that HIV is the cause of AIDS. The controversy is about what really happens with AIDS and whether efforts should be spent on combating HIV when it is clear that there is at least some doubt. There are other scientists who agree that HIV alone cannot be responsible for the depletion of the T-cell count seen in AIDS patients. I read that some people with AIDS have latent or inactive HIV. Even one exception to any hypothesis is adequate to question it. There are people with HIV that do not have AIDS - they have a normal T-cell count. However, I don’t see how this would prevent anyone from using precaution to prevent becoming infected or seeking medical care if they thought they were infected. I think what is dangerous is the exploitation over a very controversial issue to raise the question of censorship. Leave out all the melodrama and it comes down to a scientist disagreed with everyone, and therefore he was punished and censored. Even if he turns out to be wrong,there is still no cure for AIDS.

 

But there ISN'T a controversy. HIV has been proven to be the cause for AIDS. And anyway, yes, it takes many years for the T cell count to drop dangerously. Why? I don't know. I'm not a scientist. But isn't there often an "incubation period" with HIV? Let's go look it up, shall we?

 

Julie

Updated: Sun, 09 May 2010 03:46:17 UTC | #467928

SteveN's Avatar Comment 21 by SteveN

Linda TX said:

The controversy is about what really happens with AIDS and whether efforts should be spent on combating HIV when it is clear that there is at least some doubt.

That HIV is the cause of AIDS can be taken as a scientific fact. The evidence in favour is at the same level as that for evolution and heliocentrism. There is no valid controversy or doubt.

I read that some people with AIDS have latent or inactive HIV. Even one exception to any hypothesis is adequate to question it.

I don't think that is true. HIV infection is an ongoing acute infection with a rapid turnover of both virus and of infected cells. Some viral genomes will integrate but there is always active replication going on somewhere in the body. If you have a link to support this comment, I would be interested in taking a closer look at the evidence.

There are people with HIV that do not have AIDS - they have a normal T-cell count.

These rare 'Elite Controllers' are known to have a particular combination of MHC alleles that allow them to exert a much better control of the virus. This actually supports the fact that HIV is the cause of AIDS

Even if he turns out to be wrong,there is still no cure for AIDS.

It may not be possible to fully eliminate the virus from the body due to its ability to form integrated proviruses, but the modern antiretroviral drugs, when taken in combination, can keep an HIV infected person healthy for decades, perhaps for life.

Sun, 09 May 2010 06:15:29 UTC | #467957

Linda TX's Avatar Comment 22 by Linda TX

I don’t have an opinion about what causes AIDS. I have not seen the scientific documentation either way. Peter Duesberg questioned a hypothesis and that caused the scientific community to reappraise a hypothesis. I’m pretty sure he knows the hypothesis that is presently accepted - HIV causes AIDS and has a long incubation period. Duesberg raised the question that there was little or no virus present in T cells. I think the question was answered with - the T cells we see in an infected are brand new. He has raised other questions. Duesberg thinks that HIV does not cause AIDS, it is just a passenger virus. I’m speculating but that would mean that there is an unknown factor involved. Something carried by the HIV virus, but I can’t be sure because I can’t ask Duesberg. What’s wrong with raising questions?

 

HIV is a virus and there is no known cure for any virus. My question is why if you have a virus when it goes away you retain antibodies even when the symptoms are gone, but you can’t infect others when you are not symptomatic. HIV is a virus that causes AIDS, but you are contagious when you are not symptomatic thorough bodily fluids. That would mean this virus is like no other virus.

 

Most scientists affirm that HIV causes AIDS, but rigorous and independent assessment of other hypothesis have not occurred. There are treatments to prolong life but that’s about it.

 

I think that scientists should question a lot of things. I question if chemo is the best cure for cancer. Especially since so many people are dying and there is no cure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun, 09 May 2010 08:13:24 UTC | #467974

mmurray's Avatar Comment 23 by mmurray

How would we censor someone like this in practice in the internet age ?  It seems impossible and would only lend credence to the idea of an Big Pharma driven international conspiracy.  Sadly great scientists making deadly mistakes is not unknown. Look at RA Fisher's support of the smoking industry. 

Sun, 09 May 2010 08:43:48 UTC | #467979

mmurray's Avatar Comment 24 by mmurray

Linda TX
Even if he turns out to be wrong,there is still no cure for AIDS.

So what ? There are lots of diseases that we can't cure but we which can manage these days with little to no decrease in quality or quantity of life. To pick a few I have a particular interest in: asthma, GERD, high blood pressure and glaucoma. Should I abandon all the Big Pharma treatments I use for these and replace them with homeopathy or sacrifice chickens or something irrational just because they can't be cured.

 

 

Sun, 09 May 2010 10:02:52 UTC | #467988

skalichman's Avatar Comment 25 by skalichman

I am an academic and I do not think many have enjoyed academic freedom any more than I have. I have been an AIDS prevention/treatment researcher since 1989 and was on the faculty of a Jesuit university where I hasd complete freedom, even when my ideas were not popular. I think I understand academic freedom and censorship. I studied AIDS Denialism for over two years, infiltrating a leading AIDS Denialist group for my book on the subject. The case against academics who deliberately spread misinformation that harms the public health is not about censorship. It is not about academic freedom. There is a trust between our institutions of higher education that is broken when professors spread self-indulging myths. We should all be tolerant of fringe ideas. But there should be a line. Ignoring science to promote baseless lies that convince people to stop medical care and seek untested and often fraudulent remedies certainly crosses that line. Universities are responsible for protecting the trust between academics and public interest. When that trust is broken we all suffer. Breaches in trust fuel the anti-science movement we are experiencing today. Peter Duesberg and the other half dozen or so academics who follow his lead should be held accountable for telling people to ignore their HIV test results and avoid taking HIV medications. They should have their tenure revoked and removed from faculty positions. If they stood on the bell tower shooting people with a rifle claiming credibility as Professors testing the laws of physics, I believe we would hold them accountable. Frankly, I do not see the difference.

Seth Kalichman, PhD Professor of Psychology, University of Connecticut 

Sun, 09 May 2010 14:41:04 UTC | #468050

SteveN's Avatar Comment 26 by SteveN

Linda, I don't know where you are getting your information, but a lot of what you wrote is simply wrong, I'm afraid. Assuming that you are genuinely interested in the subject, I will address your points individually.

I don’t have an opinion about what causes AIDS. I have not seen the scientific documentation either way.

The scientific documentation directly or indirectly supporting the fact that HIV causes AIDS runs into the many tens of thousands of peer-reviewed papers. There really is no doubt about this. If you would like to see a scientific rebuttal of the AIDS denialists, please check out the following link: http://www.aidstruth.org/denialism/myths

Peter Duesberg questioned a hypothesis and that caused the scientific community to reappraise a hypothesis.

No. He caused a storm in the media that prompted scientists to explain why he was wrong. The evidence was already overwhelming by the end of the 1980's and continued to accumulate exponentially thereafter.

Duesberg thinks that HIV does not cause AIDS, it is just a passenger virus. I’m speculating but that would mean that there is an unknown factor involved. Something carried by the HIV virus, but I can’t be sure because I can’t ask Duesberg.

If we inject purified DNA coding for SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) into macaques it will transfect cells and code for the production of viral particles that will then cause a full-blown infection and AIDS. This disproves the carrier hypothesis.

It is theoretically possible that HIV infection activates another unknown virus present in every human being, and that it is this virus that actually causes AIDS. The amount of this unknown virus would have to be direclty linked to the amount of HIV present (because HIV viral load correlates with disease and suppressing HIV replication prevents AIDS). If this were the case (and there is absolutely no reason to think it is) whether or not HIV would be said to 'cause' AIDS would be a matter of semantics, not science.

What’s wrong with raising questions?

Nothing at all. But the same could be said for raising questions about the validity of evolution, the germ theory of disease, heliocentrism etc etc. When the evidence is so overwhelmingly on one side, continuing to question the validity of a scientific fact as Duesberg does puts him into the ranks of a deluded crank. When others use his arguments to deny medical aid to untold thousands of people who then die a horrible, unnecessary death, there is something quite obviously wrong.

HIV is a virus and there is no known cure for any virus.

Well, that depends on your definition of 'cure'. Tamiflu, if given early enough can prevent flu symptoms and rid the virus from the body, possibly with the help of the immune system. Acyclovir will prevent herpesvirus replication. HAART in HIV infected patients keeps the level of viral replication below the detection limit (although nothing can yet eliminate the silent, integrated proviruses that can reemerge once HAART is stopped).

My question is why if you have a virus when it goes away you retain antibodies even when the symptoms are gone, but you can’t infect others when you are not symptomatic. HIV is a virus that causes AIDS, but you are contagious when you are not symptomatic thorough bodily fluids. That would mean this virus is like no other virus.

The immune system, of which antibodies are just a part, remains its memory of previous infections to prevent them occurring again, ideally for the entire life of the individual (hence the relative immunity of the elderly to the recent H1N1 swine flu). You most certainly can infect others with HIV when asymptomatic. That is actually the biggest problem with HIV - people can be unknowingly infected and contagious for many years before the immune system finally breaks down and AIDS symptoms start. This is true for many other viruses.

Most scientists affirm that HIV causes AIDS, but rigorous and independent assessment of other hypothesis have not occurred. There are treatments to prolong life but that’s about it.

A rigorous and independent assessment of what other hypotheses? There are none that I know of that are not glaringly false based on all the data we have. If you wish, please state what alternate hypothesis you find worthy of assessment and I'll try to explain why it would be a waste of time and resources to address it.

I think that scientists should question a lot of things. I question if chemo is the best cure for cancer. Especially since so many people are dying and there is no cure.

Scientists thrive on questioning a lot of things (that's our job) and the highest accolades are reserved for those who question the 'dogma' and turn out to be right (e.g. prions, plate tectonics etc). Chemo is for many forms of cancer the only game in town and for some forms of cancer such as childhood leukaemia the cure rate is actually extremely high.

Hope this all helps.

SteveN

Sun, 09 May 2010 16:16:43 UTC | #468084

Linda TX's Avatar Comment 27 by Linda TX

I said, "HIV is a virus that causes AIDS, but you are contagious when you are not symptomatic through bodily fluids." That means you can infect other people when you are not symptomatic. My actual point was that HIV is a virus that can be passed only through body fluids (I should have also said blood) and without symptoms. I’m adding this (the virus does its damage by directly infecting and killing cells) and the virus causes AIDS. The question is if a scientist thinks that the HIV virus could not cause all of this - do they think that there could be an undiscovered unknown factor. I said I don’t know I can’t ask them. I have not mentioned denial groups they are not scientists. I never mentioned homeopathy. The discussion has nothing to do with people who are not scientists. Answers about things I didn’t mention to begin with are futile. It is discussions about a scientist (or more than one) who do not agree with other scientists about what causes AIDS. My questions were from my own head (they may be the wrong questions) but they are just questions. I said what is wrong with scientists asking questions even if they are wrong? The question really is should scientists make questions that are subject to controversy public? We have no choice but to accept what is available for any illness concerning medical treatment. Scientists do question theories. Einstein developed the theory that replaced Newton’s principles of gravity. I do not think we know as much about AIDS as we do about evolution. We have been studying evolution for 200 years.

Sun, 09 May 2010 21:50:41 UTC | #468205

liddington's Avatar Comment 28 by liddington

InYourFaceNewYorker
liddington Well I know Dawkins has a well developed taste for censorship when he can get away with it as on the old RDF Huh?
Short memory, Julie, Huh?

Mon, 10 May 2010 06:14:28 UTC | #468284

SteveN's Avatar Comment 29 by SteveN

Linda TX

I said, "HIV is a virus that causes AIDS, but you are contagious when you are not symptomatic through bodily fluids." That means you can infect other people when you are not symptomatic. My actual point was that HIV is a virus that can be passed only through body fluids (I should have also said blood) and without symptoms. I’m adding this (the virus does its damage by directly infecting and killing cells) and the virus causes AIDS.

Sorry about that. I read your previous statement "...but you can’t infect others when you are not symptomatic" and didn't notice that you said basically the opposite right after.

The question is if a scientist thinks that the HIV virus could not cause all of this - do they think that there could be an undiscovered unknown factor. I said I don’t know I can’t ask them.

Well, I am one of those scientists and you can ask me. If you are genuinely interested in the subject I am more than happy to help out.

I said what is wrong with scientists asking questions even if they are wrong? The question really is should scientists make questions that are subject to controversy public?

I personally believe that a scientist should be free to question even the most established of dogma if she or he has data or an idea that contradicts that dogma. If Duesberg had presented his ideas, listened to the counter arguments (which were very persuasive even then, and are overwhelming now) and had then conceded that he was probably wrong, then he would still be a repected member of the community today. Instead, he has for the last two decades ignored any evidence that contradicts his views and he has cherry-picked and misrepresented data that in some way can be twisted and manipulated to undermine the HIV/AIDS connection in the minds of the public. He has, in other words, acted like a creationist.


We have no choice but to accept what is available for any illness concerning medical treatment. Scientists do question theories. Einstein developed the theory that replaced Newton’s principles of gravity. I do not think we know as much about AIDS as we do about evolution. We have been studying evolution for 200 years.

I agree entirely that we do not know much about the actual mechanism of AIDS (it's actually one of the things I work on). However, the role of HIV in inducing AIDS is supported by so many pieces of evidence from so many different fields that it can be considered to be a scientific fact. It's a bit like the role of mass in producing gravity: we know without doubt that mass exerts a gravitational field, but we don't know how (yet).

Mon, 10 May 2010 06:51:46 UTC | #468297

Aion's Avatar Comment 30 by Aion

I personally believe that a scientist should be free to question even the most established of dogma if she or he has data or an idea that contradicts that dogma.

 

Yes, this is what he continues to do.  Why so shrill about it ?

 

If Duesberg had presented his ideas, listened to the counter arguments (which were very persuasive even then, and are overwhelming now) and had then conceded that he was probably wrong, then he would still be a repected member of the community today.

 

Revisionists like yourself will pretend that Duesberg's criticisms and hypothesis are without merit.  Strange that you always do this by refusing to discuss them, and rant incoherently about prestige and credibility lost.  Yet you still feel threatened by him.  Why exactly IS this ?  I think your hysteria is based on the fear that he might be partially right.  It is a strange, yet amusing thing to observe.

 

Instead, he has for the last two decades ignored any evidence that contradicts his views and he has cherry-picked and misrepresented data that in some way can be twisted and manipulated to undermine the HIV/AIDS connection in the minds of the public. He has, in other words, acted like a creationist.

If you are going to make such an argument, you should give some sort of example of what you mean.  I've yet to see you present anything but your opinion about criticisms and hypothesis you refuse to even mention.

Let me be clear, the reason freedom to question is paramount, especially in science, is so that people with empty arguments presented in the manner yours have been presented here have a minimized impact.  At least Duesberg is readable and coherent, even interesting.  Your skreed here is tiresome and completely devoid if any scientific merit.

Quite an accomplishment !


Tue, 11 May 2010 09:05:18 UTC | #468778