The Case of HIV and AIDS - Part 4
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4 - Contents
Suppression And Manipulation pp 679-697
Chosen For Review By The
New York Review Of Books p 698
Suppression And Manipulation
the way editors have skewed and prejudiced scientific discourse
and obstructed the usual self-correcting mechanisms of science.
In 1995 and 1996 I gathered systematic evidence of suppression and
manipulation of letters to the editors in some of the major international
scientific journals such as Science, Nature, Chemical and Engineering
News, the Lancet, and the New York Times.
of reply. One issue arising from these rejections is the so-called
"right" of reply. For example, the editor of C&EN wrote to Duesberg:
"You do not have a right to publish a letter in C&EN." What
does "right" mean? Of course, the editors of C&EN have the statutory
power to determine what goes into their publication, so if "have
a right" means to have a statutory (legal) entitlement, she is correct,
but tautologically so. No one that I know has raised any doubts
about the statutory power of the editors. On the other hand to "have
a right" may also refer ambiguously to an unspecified ethical system,
but that is not what I wish to deal with.
of journalistic responsibility. However, several questions arise
concerning journalistic responsibility.
One of them
is to what extent readers of these standard journals or newspapers
are correctly informed of various points of view and scientific
results or purported results.
how the editors manipulate letters to the editors. It is valuable
to document the extent to which editors of major scientific journals
control the terms of discourse in their journals.
the scientific community does not have statutory power over a scientific
magazine, it does have influence--which is something else. Will
the scientific community exert its influence? The editors of a scientific
magazine are accountable in some sense to the scientific constituency;
conversely the scientific grass roots can let the editors know their
evaluations of the editors' journalism (examples will be given below).
may be able
to operate in darkness almost all the time, but I am now throwing
the klieg lights on the way they are currently handling the HIV/AIDS/Duesberg
situation. It is for the grass roots to choose whether to speak
out, once they are provided with appropriate documentation which
they are not getting from the mainstream media, scientific or otherwise.
I shall now
give a concrete list of some rejected letters which came to my direct
The Ho and Shaw articles.1
In my previous articles, I have documented the way Nature's
editor Maddox has censored information, and proudly advertised
this censorship. Nature has been in a class of its own in
its aggressivity against the dissenters in general and Duesberg
in particular. Nature has published articles supporting the
orthodoxy in HIV causality. These articles are often invoked by
some people who claim that criticisms of the established view on
HIV and AIDS have thus been answered scientifically. On the other
hand, Nature has refused to publish articles which raised
scientific objections to what they did publish.
The Ho and
Shaw articles were analyzed in a careful article by Mark Craddock
(School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney, Australia),
published in the "Kluwer collection" AIDS: Virus-or Drug Induced.?2
Nature did not publish his letter to the editors (see
p. 128 of his article), although a "selection" of letters were published,
Nature 375 (18 May 1995) pp. 193-198.
mentions that "other people have made powerful objections to these
papers based upon biochemical considerations. Duesberg and Bialy
have written a superb critique, as have Eleni Eleopulos-Papadopulos,
Val Turner and John Papadimitriou (although astonishingly their
letter to Nature was rejected. What a shock!)." Which reminds
me of Claude Rains in Casablanca, stepping into a gambling
den, and saying: "What, gambling going on here? I am shocked, I
the other scientists he mentions published critical articles in
the Kluwer collection.3
Foototes for page 680
et al. "Viral dynamics in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection,"
Nature 373 (1995) pp. 117-122; and Ho et al. "Rapid Tumover
of Plasma Virions and CD 4 Lymphocytes in HIV-1 infection," Nature
373 (1995) pp. 123-126.
Craddock, "HIV: Science by press conference," AIDS: VIrus- or Drug
Induced?, Kluwer Academic Publishers (1996) pp. 127-130.
Papadopulos-Eleopulos et al, "A critical analysis of the HIV-T4-cell-AIDS
hypothesis," Kluwer collection pp. 3-22; and another article by
Papadopulos-Eleopulos et al, "Factor VIII, HIV and
AIDS in haemophiliacs: an analysis of their relationship," Kluwer
collection pp. 23-46.
I shall now
deal more extensively with Craddock's article. Craddock made detailed
methodological criticisms. He pointed out contradictions in press
conferences held about various purported scientific results, including
those of Ho and Shaw, and stated: "As a mathematician, I was intrigued
by the claim of John Maddox, editor of Nature, that the new
results provide a new mathematical understanding of the immune system."
He began with his general conclusion:
We have to
ask fundamental questions here. Does what Ho and Shaw say actually
make any sense? Are their experimental techniques sound? Do their
conclusions follow from their results? Is their mathematical analysis
sound? If we are to evaluate the worth of this work we have to
answer these questions. In fact we have to answer these questions
for just about any scientific paper ever written, so we should
certainly not spare HIV researchers. Particularly as we can be
certain they will not ask themselves these questions. These are
the issues that I will address now. My conclusion will be that
this new work is about as convincing as a giraffe trying to sneak
into a polar bears only picnic by wearing sunglasses (as Ben Elton
on criticizing the mathematical modeling on various counts. He documents
some unjustified assumptions not based on the empirical data. (Be
it said in passing that in one instance he calls "an appalling mathematical
error" something subject more precisely to the above criticism,
and so his expression is misleading. A more detailed analysis of
his objections is available directly from him.) He raises questions
about the meaning of the data, partly because "the system they are
trying to study, namely the interactions of HIV with T4 cells, might
behave substantially differently in people who are not being pumped
full of new drugs, in addition to "anti-retrovirals' like Zidovudine."
He raises questions about using a certain "invalidated technique"
as a basis for measurement. He goes on to say:
al. have a few equations that are supposed to describe the
changes in virus levels and CD4 cells over time. What do these
equations actually predict, as opposed to what Ho et al. say
they predict? In order to make them work you have to correctly
formulate them, which Ho et al. do
correctly formulated (Craddock, Ibid) what emerges is stunning.
Ho et al.'s observations combined with their simple model
for T cells and virus predict that the T cell count should reach
an equilibrium state quickly ... There is no possible way it can
take ten years. This emerges from Ho et al.'s own model.
They seem blissfully unaware of the prediction that their own
results give. They probably have not bothered to look at tedious
questions like "do our results correspond with what we observe
Here is another
example of Craddock's specific conclusions:
So we have
an extraordinary problem already. We do not know whether or not
the data that Shaw and Ho's groups obtained is actually meaningful...
But these groups actually manage to do a lot worse than this.
Neither group compared the rate of T4 cells generated in the HIV
positive patients with HIV negative controls!
This lack of
control groups in many epidemiological studies published in scientific
journals is one of the major and systematic objections made by Duesberg
and others questioning the conclusions drawn from those studies.
One of the letters to the editor (Bukrinsky et al., Nature 18
May 1995, pp. 195-196) makes a similar objection (need for control
groups with "healthy individuals"). Ho and Shaw answer (p. 198):
"we do not understand their logic .... " But the lack of control
groups partly causes a systematic bias for the interpretation of
the data in favor of HIV pathogeny.
with the following more general evaluation:
Yet HIV "science"
has declined so far that these elementary questions are addressed
neither by the research groups themselves, nor the referees at
Nature whose job it is to critique the papers before publication.
Is nobody at Nature bothered by the fact that neither paper
contains any hard data which can be independently analysed? And
Wei et al. use a technique for measuring viral load known as branched
DNA (bDNA), yet their data for bDNA does not appear in the paper.
The reader is given absolutely no explanation of how this assay
of viral load is supposed to be carried out and no indication
of how reliable it is... But nobody in the HIV research community
is at all bothered by this. They seem to have learned like the
mad hatter to believe 6 impossible things before breakfast and
so one more makes no difference. One gets a remarkable sense of
being disassociated from the real world when entering the realm
of AIDS research. Am I mad or are they?.
On 25 August 1995, Jon Cohen published a Science article
"Researchers Air Alternative Views on How HIV Kills Cells" (pp.
1044-1045). The article started:
Like a group
of radicals from the '60's, two dozen AIDS researchers congregated
in Berkeley, California, last month to challenge the establishment,
swap copies of their own manifestos, and enjoy the bonhomie of
hanging out for 23 days with fellow "alternative" thinkers. The
topic wasn't politics, however. Rather, the meeting focused on
what has been one of the most puzzling and controversial scientific
questions raised by HIV: How does it destroy the immune system
and cause AIDS? "We have to subvert the dominant paradigm," said
immunologist Michael Ascher of the California Department of Health
Services at the opening of the colloquium ....
Ascher and his Berkeley colleagues hope to push over is the so-called
cytopathic model of HIV patho-genesis. This popular theory holds
that HIV cripples the immune system by directly destroying T lymphocytes
bearing CD4 receptors, key white blood cells that the body relies
on to defeat invading pathogens ....
But to Ascher
and the others at the Berkeley gathering he co-organized, the
model is too simplistic... As immunologist John Krowka of Ascher's
group put it, "There are more bodies than bullets." The implication:
HIV must somehow be killing uninfected CD4 cells indirectly.
the participants in the Berkeley meeting put forward a variety
of hypotheses to explain how this occurs, the gathering revealed
an esprit de corps rarely seen in the past. The newfound solidarity
stems from their misgivings about widespread interpretations of
two papers that have been the talk of the AIDS research world
since they were published in the 12 January issue of Nature
(Science, 13 January p. 179). These two independent studies--one
led by David Ho, head of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center,
and the other by George Shaw of the University of Alabama, Birmingham--analyzed
the kinetics of HIV production and its clearance from the body
and fluctuations in CD4 counts. Both papers reported that when
anti-HIV drugs brought virus production to a grinding halt, CD4
Footnote for page 683
the article by Mark Craddock, mentioned above.
On 5 September
1995, Russell Schoch sent a letter to the editors of Science,
As a long-time
Berkeley resident and observer of its scientific scene, I was
startled to read the opening lines of Jon Cohen's report on an
AIDS conference this summer (25 August 1995): [Quote of the
first sentence in Cohen' s article.] Wow! I was out of town
only one week this summer, and look at the extraordinary event
around "alternative" should have tipped me off. What Cohen and
the "radicals" were up to was a tortuous attempt to coopt Berkeley
scientist Peter Duesberg's succinct, eight-year challenge to the
AIDS establishment: HIV is incapable of causing AIDS. It is amusing
to watch Cohen transform his "radicals" into chic subverters of
this "dominant paradigm," but depressing to read their conclusion:
"HIV must somehow be killing uninfected CD4 cells indirectly."
is the dominant paradigm and has been for years and years of unproductive,
although highly funded and well-publicized research. The "newfound
solidarity" of the newfound radicals in their criticisms of the
Ho and Shaw papers in last January's Nature--papers which were
said in press releases at the time to "destroy" Duesberg's position--is
another example of Cohen's and therefore Science's misuse
of language and thinking. These researchers are said to be "vigorously
attacking what they perceive as a misguided establishment," but
all they can come up with are ever-more Ptolemaic versions "of
how HIV unravels the body's immune tapestry."
If both the
"dominant paradigm" of the cytopathic model of HIV pathogenesis
and the Ho and Shaw papers which were said to finish off the Duesberg
challenge are unable to stand up to these "'alternative" thinkers'"
scrutiny, perhaps it is time for some really altemative--without
the quotes---thinking. Perhaps such thinking would lead to genuinely
new ways of examining the causes of AIDS. Perhaps such thinking
at the least would lead researchers to deplore, rather than encourage,
the use of chemotherapy (AZT) for pregnant women and their developing
In any event,
please stop misusing metaphors of place (Berkeley) and time (the
1960s). You're fiddling while Rome burns.
letter to the editors was not published.
is editor of the California Monthly, and published the interview
of Kari Mullis mentioned in my own article on HIV/AIDS.5
his letter to the editors, with the sole exception of his expression
"you are fiddling while Rome burns." Science is not fiddling.
It is engaging (and has systematically engaged) in tendentious,
inaccurate, and otherwise improper journalism for a decade. I remind
readers that in Summer 1994, Science did not cover the NIDA
meeting on nitrite inhalants and the AAAS meeting on HIV/AIDS dissenters.
Science (Jon Cohen) has systematically disregarded a large
part of the dissent movement against the establishment view on HIV/AIDS,
and has systematically engaged in tendentious journalism about this
dissent movement. It was just as improper for Science (Jon Cohen)
to title a previous article "The Duesberg Phenomenon" as it is for
Science to leave Duesberg (and some others) completely out
of what Science defmes as "alternative views" on how HIV kills cells.
New York Times. On 21 October 1995, the New York Times
published a review by Jon Cohen of Elinor Burkett's book The
Gravest Show on Earth Cohen was identified as "a reporter for
Science magazine who covers health issues." The book, and
the review, dealt parly with the Gallo case. In connection with
this case, Cohen stated:
Warning: My endorsing a letter from
Schoch in no way implies endorsement of everything he puts out as
a joumalist. In summer 1995, I had a direct confrontation with him
about a selectively tendentious article he published in the California
Monthly. I provided extensive documentation, and I pointed out that
it was his responsibility to make a selection to be communicated
to his readers. He refused to accept this responsibility. In a letter
dated 14 August 1995, he threw the responsibility back on me to
write a letter to the editors. I did so, and did not even receive
an acknowledgement of receipt. My letter was not published. In a
letter dated 4 September 1995, I informed and appealed to the President
and the Board of Directors of the California Alumni Association,
but I did not get any reply from them either.
is relevant here to mention that at a symposium on the Presidency
and the Press in 1976, Hugh Sidey of Time agreed with the criticism
that "newspapers, like doctors, bury their mistakes." Sidey also
singled out the "sneaky practice" of news magazines, including his
own, in refusing to correct errors except in letters-to-the-editor
columns. Cf. the article "Press Secretaries Acknowledge Lies," Washington
Post 24 April 1976, p. /12. As we are seeing in the present context,
even if a letter is sent, it may still not get printed. One is facing
double talk, suppression and inconsistencies, in addition to evasions
of responsibility by the editors.
is also fast and loose with the facts when she blasts two of the
most famous AIDS researchers, Robert Gallo and Jonas Salk. She accuses
Dr. Gallo, the National Cancer Institute retrovirologist who won
wide acclaim when his lab first proved that H.I.V. causes AIDS and
then was investigated for having possibly stolen the virus from
French researchers, of committing "viral plagiarism of the most
egregious sort." Other than one interview with Dr. Gallo, her rehash
of the scientist and his misdeeds relies far too heavily on the
work of John Crewdson, an investigative reporter with The Chicago
Tribune... Yet she fails to explain that a formal inquiry conducted
by the Office of Scientific integrity of the National Institutes
of Health revealed more than four years ago that Dr. Gallo indeed
had "at least" 10 isolates and 18 other "detections"during the time
period in question.
that Gallo's "lab first proved that H.I.V. causes AIDS" is false.
Gallo's lab claimed to have isolated a certain virus, which is something
completely different from proving causality of a disease by this
who was chief investigator of the NIH inquiry, and played a significant,
I would say major, role in the investigation by the House Subcommittee
on Investigation and Oversight, wrote a letter to the editors of
the New York Times, in which she documented the extent to
which Cohen himself played fast and loose with the facts. She stated
that Cohen's review "is not merely loose with the facts, it manages
to miss the facts and their significance altogether." She drew a
list of three major items which Cohen failed to mention, and which
would show Cohen's conclusions to be invalid. She herself stated
in addition: "One other fact, not disclosed in Cohen's review, must
be noted. The joumal Science, for which Jon Cohen is a staff
writer, is the same journal in which Dr. Gallo's "48 isolates" and
similar claims were published, a journal in which no correction
regarding these claims was ever made. In light of these circumstances,
there is reason to question Cohen's ability to provide an objective
review of Burkett's book, a book that renews the challenge to those
letter to the editors was not published.
Hadley's letter to a cc list of about 100 people. As a result, Arthur
Gotflieb, Professor and Chairman of the Tulane University Medical
Center, wrote me to inform me of his own letter to the editors of
the New York Times concerning Cohen's review. Gottlieb's
letter was dated 31 October 1995, and stated:
Gottlieb's letter to the New York Times. In his critique (October
22) of Elinor Burkett's The Gravest Show on Earth, Jon
Cohen appears to have missed a key message of the book, namely
that a polity of thinking has strongly influenced the response
of the medical/scientific community to the daunting problem that
HIV/AIDS represents. Notwithstanding some inaccuracies of detail,
the critical questions raised by so-called HIV dissidents which
Burkett describes have not been answered. These questions deserve
thoughtful and objective consideration by the medical-scientific
community, not Cohen's glib statement that he looked into "these
studies" (further unspecified) and on his authority found them
"utterly uncompelling." A further message from Burkett's book
is that conventional mindset in the HIV/AIDS medical-scientific
community has given us drugs of limited value, while impeding
the progress of other therapeutic agents. The author also notes
that the behavior of some scientists, who appear to have been
motivated by other than the noble, objective search for truth,
has been a corrosive influence on research into the pathogenesis
and treatment of this disease. Burkett properly asks whether this
has served the public interest. Jon Cohen would do better to concentrate
less on the odd notes he hears in the message Burkett has composed
and more on her theme.
letter to the editors was not published.
The Darby article. In September 1995, Nature published
an article by Sarah Darby6
concerning the epidemiology of HIV and AIDS in hemophiliac patients.
An extensive critique of the Darby paper was submitted by Mark
Craddock to Nature, but was rejected. So was a letter from
Duesberg, concerning theDarby paper and others published by Nature.
and Engineering News. On 25 December 1995, C&EN published
an editorial by its managing editor, Rudy Baum, attacking Duesberg.
Rudy Baum invoked the Darby paper, and stated in part:
Footnote for page 687
S. Darby et al., "Mortality before and after HIV infection in the
complete UK population of haemophiliacs," Nature 377 (7 September
1995) pp. 79-82.
month, Nature published a paper titled "Mortality Before
and After H1V Infection in the Complete U.K. Population of Haemophiliacs"
[377, 79, (1995)]. The paper should, but almost certainly won't
lay to rest the irresponsible argument that HIV does not cause
AIDS, an idea that has been championed by Peter H. Duesberg, a
professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Califomia,
undermine the rationale behind and support for desperately needed
maintains that AIDS researchers must prove him wrong. They have.
Baum, who replied (fax) 11 October 1995: "...If you would like to
respond to my essay, we would be happy to entertain publication
of a concise letter to the editor. Please address it to C&EN's
Editor, Madeleine Jacobs." Duesberg did send a letter to the editor
on 15 November 1995. In this letter, he raised 10 scientific questions,
of which I cite the first and the last:
1) Why was
my hypothesis that HIV does not cause AIDS "irresponsible," before
the study was published that, according to Baum, had layed it
to rest? Are scientific hypotheses "irresponsible" before they
are disproven? Or are they ever irresponsible?
10) Why do
the T-cells of HIV-positive hemophiliacs increase up to 30% over
2-3 years, if they are treated with purified factor VIII and not
with AZT--despite the presence of the hypothetical T-cell killer
his letter to the editor with two predictions:
that "HIV infection is associated with a dramatic increase in
death," the following two studies need to be done:
two groups of hemophiliacs, that differ only in antibody to HIV,
but are matched for the lifetime consumption of factor VIII and
all medications. Predicted outcome: identical AIDS risk.
two groups of HIV-positive hemophiliacs matched for lifetime dosage
of factor VII, one treated with AZT and other anti-AIDS drugs,
the other untreated. Predicted
the AZT group will have 10-fold higher mortality than the untreated
Madeleine Jacobs did not explicitly acknowledge receipt of Duesberg's
letter. She wrote him on 15 January 1996 as follows:
from Madeleine Jacobs's letter to Duesberg. I
am willing to consider for publication in C&EN a concise
(four to six paragraph) letter from you responding to Rudy's
essay. The letter must conform to the following criteria:
1. It must
be confined to a response to the points raised in Rudy's essay.
It must not raise extraneous issues related to your ideas about
HIV and AIDS but not addressed in Rudy's essay.
2. It cannot
contain footnotes. It may contain a limited (two to three) number
of relevant literature references to support specific points made
in your letter.
3. It cannot
consist of a series of open questions. If you have a point to
make, please make it. Do not simply pose provocative questions
for readers to ponder.
As I have
stated before, you do not have a right to publish a letter in
C&EN. If you provide a letter that conforms to the above criteria,
I will give it serious and prompt consideration for publication.
on 18 January, noting that he was invited to reply by the managing
editor Rudy Baum himself, and that now Madeleine Jacobs was setting
ex post facto criteria for a reply. He also addressed her
three points as follows:
from Duesberg's reply to Madeleine Jacobs.
1. My letter
of November 15 was in accordance with your criterion No. 1...
2 .... Actually,
my letter of November 15 contains six such references. However,
unlike Rudy Baum who made sweeping statements without references
in his editorial essay, I do not want to take responsibility vis-a-vis
the scientific community for a piece which does not provide appropriate
documentation for my statements. Therefore I stand by my list
of six references.
3 .... Actually,
I made several points in my letter of November 15. In making these
points, I chose to ask questions deliberately in order to avoid
the controversial style of disagreeing
of Baum's points on HIV and AIDS, and in order to revert to a
more scientific framework, by asking scientific questions which
deserve to be tested by scientific experiments and studies. Furthermore,
I do not only ask questions. After suggesting such experiments
and studies, I also do what scientists ordinarily do, namely I
make two predictive hypotheses which are to be tested. Thus unlike
you, I want "readers to ponder."
I want an analysis and solution of the HIV/AIDS situation to be
carried out according to ordinary scientific standards and scientific
norms of discourse, which involve asking questions, making hypotheses,
and testing these by experiments or studies. As Einstein used
to say, "The important thing is to keep questioning."
Hung-Hsi Wu (Berkeley, he was on my cc list) wrote to Madeleine
Jacobs on 5 February 1996, noting the "peremptory tone" of her letter
to Duesberg, and stating: "May I remind you that C&EN is responsible
to its readers for correct scientific information?...You ignored
the existence of the aforementioned letter of Duesberg. To this
day, the damage done to basic journalistic integrity by the Baum
editorial has yet to be redressed. I strongly urge you to put aside
your own letter of January 15 and, instead, rush to publish the
Duesberg letter of November 15 in C&EN. You owe it to your readers
to meet this primary joumalistic obligation."
Jerome Berson (Yale, he was on my cc list) wrote to Madeleine Jacobs
on 15 January 1996 to urge "the swift publication of Duesberg's
letter of response" to the Baum article. Not having an answer a
month letter, Berson communicated the text of his letter to me on
19 February 1996, and I distributed copies to the cc list of about
100 people. I quote from Berson's letter to Madeleine Jacobs:
from Jerome Berson's letter to Madeleine Jacobs .... What
struck me about the article was the degree to which Rudy Baum
inserted his own opinions, for example:
as epidemiology can demonstrate causality, the work on hemophiliacs
in the UK demonstrates that HIV-1 causes AIDS.
arguments undermine the rationale behind and support for desperately
I spent an
hour and a half interviewing him (Duesberg) about it... It was
a deeply unsatisfactory interview.
maintains that AIDS researchers must prove him wrong. They have.
I do not know
either Baum or Duesberg. Moreover, although I have no expertise
in virology or the other disciplines needed to offer an informed
opinion on the scientific merits of the AIDS debate, I am a scientist,
and I do feel qualified to comment on the process of scientific
discussion. I also feel it is proper for me to offer opinions on
the minimum standards the press should impose upon itself in order
to inform its readership with some degree of objectivity.
It has been
called to my attention that this article was published without a
prior option of comment being offered to Duesberg, and that Duesberg's
subsequent letter of response (mentioned above), which was invited
by Baum, has not been published by C&EN. In the popular press,
even an accused embezzler, inside stock manipulator, or suborner
of arson gets a chance to respond in print to damaging allegations...
a valuable service as a medium in which scientific advances and
even controversies can be aired. However, along with the privilege
of choosing what subjects to cover and how to treat the issues goes
a large capacity to do harm by irresponsible journalism...
In the scientific
literature, the goal of fairness is supposed to be achieved by the
process of peer review. The process may fail from time to time because
of human frailty, but at least the ideal and the machinery are there
for all of us to use. In science journalism, the journalist is rarely
a "peer" in the sense of having expert knowledge on the subject
at issue. Perhaps Rudy Baum has such special qualifications, but
if that is true, the proper forum for his opinions of the science
involved in the controversy is a scientific journal, rather than
C&EN, a magazine to whose columns he has privileged (that is,
not peer reviewed) access. A rough-and-ready equivalent in science
journalism of the fairness component of the peer review process
is the resolve of the press to offer the opportunity of rebuttal,
preferably before publication, but if that is missed for some reason,
then surely after publication.
I hope that
C&EN really does strive to adhere to these criteria. A way of
demonstrating such adherence would be to publish Duesberg's letter
of response as quickly as possible.
the grass roots activism of the file and the cc list, Duesberg's
letter was published (date deleted) on 25 March 1996.
letter was followed by a brief commentary from Rudy Baum, stating
that "answers to all of the questions raised by Peter Duesberg over
the past 10 years about HIV as the cause of AIDS can be found in"
a 62 page booklet published by the National Institute of Allergy
& Infectious Diseases (Office of Communications, Bldg 31, Room
7A50, Bethesda Md 20892). Baum calls it an "excellent publication
... with more than 400 literature references."
To what extent
is Baum engaging in rhetorical hype? How does he know "all the questions
raised" by Duesberg over a decade, including specific questions
about specific publications whose defects Duesberg analyzed in a
specific way?. For example, does Baum know the eight questions raised
by Duesberg in his letter to Harold Jaffe (Director of HIV/AIDS
Division, CDC) dated 11 February 1993? Are these answered
in the NIAID booklet? Does Baum know Jaffe's answer dated 5 March
The NIAID booklet
is becoming increasingly invoked. Science already drew attention
to it (270, 10 November 1995, "RANDOM SAMPLES--All About
AIDS"). Even if some "answers ... can be found" in the NIAID booklet,
how valid or significant are these answers? Truth squads are required
to determine which of many questions about HIV/AIDS it really answers
properly. Are the answers in the NIAID booklet similar to those
given by Harold Jaffe (see footnote 7)? Can one do a job on the
NIAID booklet's answers as
I (and others) have done a job on some other answers in the past?
Footnote for page 692
For example, Question 6: Are there any
known documented cases of persons having irreversible immunodeficiency
symptoms or a disease in the second category who have not also:
(a) subjected themselves to recreational drugs... (b) been subjected
to intravenous and other recreational drugs prior to their birth;
(c) depended for years on transfusions with factor VIII contaminated
by many other immunosuppressive foreign proteins; (d) previously
developed life threatening illnesses that necessitated treatment
with transfusions; (e) been treated with the cytotoxic DNA chain
terminator AZT for months or years? If there are such cases, how
many are there (both in totality and as percentage of all Americans),
and what is the documentation? Does their number exceed the normal,
low incidence of these diseases in the general population?
does not deal specifically with Question 6. The closest Jaffe comes
to answering Question 6 is: "As part of its surveillance activities,
CDC does not routinely collect behavioral or medical data on persons
with AIDS beyond what is necessary to classify them into HIV transmission
categories." This answer leads the reader to conclude that the CDC
doesn't have the data Duesberg asks for. Are answers in the NIAID
booklet similar to Jaffe's answer?
Indeed, I have
documented previously defects in official or scientific answers
to questions about HIV, especially in my Yale Scientific article
on HIV/AIDS.8 In the present
piece on journalistic manipulation, I am providing further documentation.
On the other
hand, specific documented criticisms of the type I (and others)
have provided are not reported in the official mass scientific media
such as C&EN, Science, Nature, or The Lancet. When someone
follows up one article and documents its defects, editors such as
Baum ignore the critique and refer to new material, in this instance,
"a 62-page booklet ... with more than 400 literature references."
For another instance, see Lancers editor Richard Horton's reply
to Duesberg in New York Review, 8 August 1996, discussed
We are at
Darby article, and Gordon Stewart's letter. On
the basis of the Darby article and others concerning data about
hemophiliacs, The Lancet's editor Richard Horton published
an editorial: "Will Duesberg now concede defeat?" Unlike Nature,
The Lancet did publish a subsequent letter by Duesberg, although
there were hassles about length and other items.9
In that letter, Duesberg commented: "However, Darby et al. do not
describe the 'specificity' of death that sets apart haemophiliacs
with antibodies to HIV from those without." Duesberg then raised
ten specific questions about the Darby article and other artlcles
on hemophiliacs. Duesberg concluded with two predictions, similar
to those he wrote to Chemical & Engineering News, as
I am ready
to concede if Horton proves me wrong in two predictions. First
two groups of haemophiliacs, who differ
Footnotes for page 693
In my Yale Scientific article, I also referred to the Ascher, Sheppard,
Vittinghoff, and Winkelstein paper (Nature, 11 March 1993), as well
as an analysis by Ellison, Duesberg and Downey. This analysis finally
appeared in Genetica 95 (1995) pp. 135-143, and was reprinted in
a collection edited by Duesberg: AIDS: Virus- or Drug Induced?,
K1uwer Academic Publishers (1996) pp. 97-104. In §8 of my "HIV and
AIDS" article, I also analyzed in detail the defectiveness of a
specific answer by Shalala to one of Gutknecht's questions.
P. Duesberg, "Is HIV the cause of
AIDS?," letter in The Lancet 346 (18 November 1995) pp. 1371-1372.
This letter will be reproduced as an appendix.
only in antibody
to HIV but are matched for the lifetime consumption of factor VIII
and all medications, will prove to have identical AIDS risks. Second,
in two groups of HIV-positive haemophiliacs matched for lifetime
dosage of factor VIII, one treated with zidovudine and other anti-AIDS
drugs, the other untreated, the zidovudine group will prove to have
a ten-fold higher mortality than the untreated group.
On 3 January
1996, Gordon Stewart, M.D., Emeritus professor of Public Health,
University of Glasgow, sent a letter to the editors of The Lancet,
referring to past pieces published by this journal and by Nature.
He referred especially to the Darby article, Horton's editorial,
and Duesberg's letter with the two predictions. For the reader's
information, I reproduce Gordon Stewart's letter in full.
letter to The Lancet 3
In an issue
endorsed editorially by the Lancet (1) and Nature
(2) as critical, I am amazed that some of Duesberg's ubiquitous
critics have not yet rushed into your columns to respond to if
not negate the challenge of the ten questions and two predictions
raised in his letter of November 18 (3). His ten questions are
highly relevant to the claims made by Darby et al, and Goedert
et al in references 3 and 4 of his letter, and should be easily
answerable from the "Complete cohort" and other experiences in
the comprehensive national data on haemophilia available exclusively
to them. His two predictions are widely and, may I say, courageously
open to falsification by any who care to dare.
As you know,
I differ amicably from Duesberg on several points, one of which
is that I do not reject a role for HIV in the complex and variable
pathogenesis of some of the diseases loosely classified as AIDS
in conventional surveillance (4).
So I have
two further questions which he might deem redundant: I--from how
many pre-1992 concentrates and samples of donor and recipient
seropositive blood did Darby et al culture and directly identify
HIV itself?, and II--what were the AIDS-related and opportunistic
diseases in the haemophiliacs? Answers to these questions and
to Duesberg's ten are essential for understanding not only the
transmission and management of AIDS but also the status
peace of mind of spouses or partners, and children. If the AIDS
orthodoxy cannot answer these basic questions after twelve years
of intensive research, it is they who should now concede defeat.
R. "Will Duesberg now concede defeat?," Lancet 1995; 346,
More conviction on HIV and AIDS, Nature 1995; 377;
P.H. "Is HIV the cause of AIDS?" Lancet 1995; 346; 1371-2
G.T. "The epidemiology and transmission of AIDS: a hypothesis
linking behavioural and biological determinants to time, person
and place," Genetica 1995; 95; 173-193
rejected Gordon Stewart's letter. Lancet's Senior
Editor Stephanie Clark wrote back to Gordon Stewart on 15 January
1996: "We have received many letters on this topic and after an
initial round have decided to close this debate in the pages of
The Lancet for now. No doubt in time Duesberg will be proved
wrong." The "initial round" consisted of one letter from Duesberg
and a letter representing an opposing point of view. By not printing
other letters, such as Gordon Stewart's, The Lancet makes
it appear as if Duesberg is more isolated than he actually is.
how does a senior editor of The Lancet know what will be
proved before appropriate scientific experiments are made? The phrase
"no doubt...will be proved" implies that according to The Lancet's
Senior Editor, Duesberg hasn't been "proved wrong" yet. C&EN-Rudy
Baum take note. Baum's editorial of 25 September 1995 ended: "Duesberg
maintains that AIDS researchers must prove him wrong. They have."
Rudy Baum and Stephanie Clark ought to get together to get their
to Stewart gave one more example of unscientific dealings by one
of those who control the flow of information in top scientific publications
throughout the world. As Gordon Stewart subsequently wrote to The
Lancet's editor Richard Horton on 18 January 1996: "If the
Lancet is so keen to prove Duesberg wrong, surely the best
way to do so would be to publish some of the many letters to which
she refers instead of leaving Duesberg's legitimate questions unanswered...
I realize that this subject is making disproportionate demands upon
your space as indeed it is upon almost everything. Even so how can
you close a debate which you have never opened?"
Letter to The Lancet
18 November 1995
Is HIV the cause of AIDS?
argued for several years that AIDS in America and Europe is caused
by the long-term consumption of recreational drugs, zidovudine,
and the immunosuppressive foreign proteins that contaminate commercial
On the basis of yet another correlation between HIV, years, and
death, Horton, in his Sept 9 commentary, now asks me to "concede
defeat." The defeating study authors claim to "demonstrate particularly
clearly the enormity and the specificity of the effect of HIV-1
infection on mortality," because the mortality of HIV-antibody positive
haemophiliacs has increased ten-fold since 1987.3
Darby et al do not describe the "specificity" of death that sets
apart haemophiliacs with antibodies to HIV from those without.3
In view of this study Horton expects me to stop questioning the
following ten points.
(1) Why immunodeficiency
in haemophiliacs is directly proportional to the lifetime dosage
of commercial factor VIII (over 99% foreign proteins) received--irrespective
of antibodies against HIV?2
only antibodies against HIV, rather than HIV, are found in haemophfliac
(3) Why a virus
that, like HIV, replicates in 2 days would take 10 years to cause
(4) Why the
wives of 15,000 HIV-positive American haemophiliacs have not contracted
sexually transmitted, viral AIDS in over 10 years?2
(5) Why the
median life of American haemophiliacs has increased from 11 years
in 1972 to 276 years in 1987, a period during which 75% (15,000)
became infected by HIV?3
(6) Why mortality
in American and now British3
HIV-positive haemophiliacs started to increase ten-fold right after
cytotoxic DNBA chain terminators such as zidovudine and other toxic
anti-HIV drugs became standard treatment in the USA and the UK,
According to Darby et al3
"treatment, by prophylaxis against Pneumocystis carinti pneumonia
or with zidovudine, has been widespread for HIV-infected haemophiliacs
since about 1989."
(7) Why the
mortality of zidovudine-treated, HIV-positive American haemophiliacs
is 2-4 times higher and their risk of AIDS 4-5 times higher than
that of untreated HIV-positive controls, according to a Lancet
(8) Why the
mortality of Darby's UK HIV-positive haemophiliacs was only 0.8%
before 1987--the equivalent of a biblical lifetime of 125 (100/0.8)
(9) Why haemophiliacs
almost only develop pneumonia and candidosis from a virus said to
cause Kaposi's sarcoma and dementia in homosexuals?2
(10) Why the
T-cells of HIV-positive haemophiliacs increase up to 30% in 2-3
years, if they are treated with purified factor VIII, and not with
zidovudine--despite the presence of the hypothetical T-cell killer
I am ready
to concede if Horton proves me wrong in two predictions. First,
two groups of haemophiliacs, who differ only in antibody to HIV
but are matched for the lifetime consumption of factor VIII and
all medications, will prove to have identical AIDS risks. Second,
in two groups of HIV positive haemophiliacs matched for lifetime
dosage of factor VIII, one treated with zidovudine and other anti-AIDS
drugs, the other untreated, the zidovudine group will prove to have
ten-fold higher mortality than the untreated group.
PETER H. DUESBERG
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA 94720. USA
Footnotes for pages 696-697
Duesberg PH. AIDS acquired by drug consumption
and other noncontagious risk factors. Pharmacol Ther 1992; 55:201-77
Duesberg P. Foreign-protein-mediated immunodeficiency
in hemophiliacs with and without HIV. Genetica 1995; 95:51-70
Darby SC, Ewart DW, Giangrande PLF, Dolin
PJH, Spooner RJD, Rizza CR. Mortality before and after HIV infection
in the complete UK population of haemophiliacs. Nature 1995; 377:79-82
Goedert JJ, Cohen AR, Kessler CM, et al. Risks
of immunodeflciency, AIDS, and death related to purity of factor
VIII concentrate. Lancet 1994; 344:791-92
Seremetis SV, Aledort LM, Bergman GE, et al.
Three-year randomised study of high-purity of intermediate-purity
factor VIII concentrates in symptom-free-HIV-seropositive haemophiliacs;
effects on immune status. Lancet 1993; 342:700-03
Following Three Books Were Chosen For Review By
New York Review Of Books
AIDS: Have We Been Misled?
collection of 13 articles by Duesberg, published in scientific journals
between 1987 and 1996 Foreword
by Prof. Richard Strohman, UC Berkeley
$18.95, ISBN 1-55643-195-3
North Atlantic Books
1456 4th Street
Virus--or Drug Induced?
collection of 27 articles by scientists, independent scholars, and
investigative journalists from Australia, Europe and the US;
edited by Duesberg
358 pages, paper back $49.50, ISBN 0-7923-3961-4
Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht/Boston/London Dordrecht,
Netherlands, 50 Spuiboulevard, PO Box 17
Phone: 31-78-639-2392 Fax 31-78-639-2254
the AIDS Virus
Foreword by Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis Over 500 pages, near
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