RTB: What does it take to be a qualified, orthodox AIDS thinker? Please find below the story of Dr. Seth Kalichman, and his alter-ego, Joseph C. Newton, as they instruct the world in matters of science, right-thinking, and true-belief.
Dr. Seth Kalichman, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut (that’s 406 Babbidge Rd, Storrs, CT – mark that address), has written a tremendously [you tell us] book, called “Denying AIDS,” in which he claims to have held interviews and conversations with many AIDS critics (who he lovingly equates with ‘Holocaust Denialists.’
Let’s give him some points for cheek and imagination, shall we? Certainly critics of any large, industrial, multi-national, capital-earning project deserve no less than to be equated with the few people who deny the existence of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish and other minority peoples of Europe in WW2, n’est-ce pas?
We must remember to forget, after all, that the Holocaust was a social, but also a medical and scientific project, the systematic “Eugenic” annihilation of millions of people, carried out by men in lab coats, and others just ‘following orders.’ History, if we read it, can tell us where we are… but who reads history?
Back to the present. One Seth Kalichman is on a book tour, and you can meet and greet him this week – tonight, in fact – in Boston’s Harvard Square. (October 19th, 7:30 to 9:00 PM).
But can you meet Seth Kalichman? Or will you, instead meet his alter-ego, Joe Newton?
It seems that Dr. Kalichman was so unsure of himself in his writing of “Denying AIDS,” that he invented an alter-ego, “Joseph C. Newton,” through whose guise he contacted, and indeed met and shook hands with, the very people he calls frauds and liars, or “deniers” of “science” in his [you fill in the blank] book.
You can read the sordid and delightful tale of Dr. Kalichman and Mr. Newton, or Jekyll and Hyde HERE in its entirety, with thanks to Dr. Henry Bauer. Give it a read, it’s a wondrous tale of unambiguous amorality.
Some questions for Dr. Kalichman, (or Mr. Newton) should either be able to attend his/their event:
In Dr. Kalichman’s book, he states unequivocally that AIDS research prior to 2003 is almost all useless bunk (from “Denying AIDS” – emphasis added):
To understand AIDS one should not have to look back further than the past few years. For the consumer-reader, if a scientific article was published before 2000, I would say it can be considered dated, perhaps even ignored. Books published since 2000 should also be inspected for the age of their sources. Any writing in the area of AIDS that relies on sources from the 1980s should be suspect.
Does Dr. Kalichman include Luc Montagnier in this “to be ignored” group? Montagnier, of course, won the Nobel Prize in 2008, for his “discovery of HIV,” in 1983. This must have come as discouraging news to one Dr. Robert Gallo, who always claimed that he “discovered HIV.” Gallo’s papers were published in 1984, and have been reviewed widely. We suggest reading both sets of papers, and their critics. But as per Dr. Kalichman, we will now just ignore them, knowing that they are dated and of no value.
Dr. Kalichman goes on to assure the reader that it is only the last 5 years of AIDS research that matter:
Of the more than 116,000 scientific articles listed in the PubMed database concerning the HIV disease process, or HIV pathogenesis, over 31,000 have been published in the past 5 years. AIDS scientists are basing their conclusion that HIV causes AIDS on these current studies and these same researchers conclude that HIV treatments slow the progression of HIV to AIDS.
But, in his Newsweek video interview, published to the internet just last week, Dr. Kalichman states that AIDS research came into its own, “indisputably” by the “late 1980s,” and that those years mark the beginning of trustworthy – not “dated, suspect, and ignorable” – research.
Dr. Kalichman: In the early days of AIDS, in 1981 through really 1985, 1986, there were a lot of people that were getting very sick and dying of things that people just didn’t normally get sick and die from. It was in those early days that there were a lot of theories and a lot of hypotheses, and they were legitimate.
Within a few years of the first cases, the HIV virus, the virus that was then later determined to cause AIDS was discovered. The facts that accumulated in the late 1980s became indisputable.
However, some of these scientists who had these original ideas which at the time were not fringe, particularly Peter Duesberg, who really believed that the virus is harmless.
Cut to Peter Duesberg: There is no HIV specific disease anywhere.
Cut back to Seth Kalichman: The science just didn’t support it. But he held on. He has held on to this day. He is wrong!
Ah, so it was in the “late 1980s,” and not the “past 5 years” where the valid information is stored? It was the “facts that accumulated.”
Was there a single, “really good” fact? Or just a lot of “facts” that “accumulated?” Is it the act of accumulation that makes something “indisputable?” What makes a fact a “fact?”
Here is the answer: It is a fact when we are told that it is a fact by those who are in authority (from “Denying AIDS”):
Remember, science has made great advances when pushed by outside thinkers. Being a dissident means listening to all sides and weighing the evidence. When a different view seems reasonable, entertain it. Challenge it. And when the credible evidence is overwhelming, accept it. The AIDS dissidents who have maintained their credibility are those who accepted the evidence that HIV causes AIDS and moved on to make new contributions. Those who refused to move on are stuck in denialism.
How confusing… ‘Debate is good, challenging science is good.’ But not on the “accumulated facts.” And not when a majority claims superior knowledge. So, debate is good, as long as one agrees not to debate the issues to their core.
Ah-ha. I think I am beginning to get the hang of it.
But given the dates, we still have to throw out Gallo and Montagnier, who both peaked in 1984, according to Dr. K’s advice. But now we can examine all papers subsequent to…well, we’re not sure. Can we ask Dr. Kalichman to be more specific?
When did the bunk end, and the “indisputable” begin?
If we have to throw out the Gallo and Montagnier work, do we also have to throw out all work which rests upon that “dated, suspect” bunk? For example, if a study uses either or both G&M as a first or second reference (and by golly, almost all of them do), should we also toss them on the scrapheap?
Well, what does it matter? As long as we’re not “denialists.”
So, thank you, Dr. Kalichman-Newton, for being so morally and intellectually flexible so as to hold yourself to no particular statement or position. For having the courage to pretend to be someone else, in order to publish a book which pretends to examine the issues in a fair-minded debate-centered scientific undertaking!
Kudos and three cheers, Dr. Kalichman – and Mr. Newton – and the sweaty undershirt you both share!
By the way, does the University of Connecticut have anything resembling an ethical review board? We’re just wondering to whom we should address our mail.
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