Karen Armstrong and The Case for God
The Man With the Hole in His Head

Book Review: Free Radicals, by Michael Brooks

Free radicals3 I've been camping in the Welsh hills, to the gentle sound of sheep baa-ing and rain pattering on the flysheet. Plenty of opportunity to catch up on some reading. One book I particularly enjoyed was Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science - a topic that anyone who knows about psi-research should find interesting.

Brooks is a science writer whose previous book, 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, argued that a lot of what is taken for granted in cosmology and biology is open to doubt. (He raised eyebrows by including homeopathy - but that's another story). This new book aims to dispel the public myth that science is an orderly and polite business. It may be so in China, which runs to Confucian principles of harmony, but that could be one reason why groundbreaking discoveries tend not to come from China. It's the adversarial system, that first emerged in ancient Greece, that produces the best ideas.

The book is entertaining, covers a lot of ground, and, speaking for myself, added to my knowledge of contemporary science. It's also a rather extraordinary story. Looked at closely, scientific skullduggery is not a pretty sight. Brooks quotes Carl Sagan:

Anyone who witnesses the advance of science first-hand sees an intensely personal undertaking. A few saintly personalities stand out amidst a roiling sea of jealousies, ambition, backbiting, suppression of dissent, and absurd conceits. In some fields, highly productive fields, such behavior is almost the norm.

Take the case of Arthur Eddington and Chandrasekhar Subrahmanyan. As a young physics graduate, Chandra was the first to realise that the heaviest stars would eventually 'disappear', collapsing into black holes under the immense pressure of gravity. This flash of insight came while he was making the sea voyage to England to study at Cambridge, and five years later he revealed his theory at the Royal Astronomical Society. In this he was helped by Eddington, then the grand old man of British astrononomy. But Eddington was setting him up. Immediately after Chandra's talk he stood up and ridiculed the idea that a star could disappear, calling it "stellar buffoonery", and adding, 'I think there should be a law of Nature to prevent a star behaving in this absurd way'.

Eddington was so respected that, since he thought Chandra's idea was rubbish, so did everyone else. At least they did in public: some RAS members privately told Chandra they thought he had a case, but lacked the gumption to dissent openly.

Why did Eddington behave like this? One possible reason is that Chandra's maths interfered with his own attempts to discover a Grand Unified Theory. Chandra himself thought it was racism, pure and simple, and in the context of the times that does seem likely. For Eddington, Chandra was a jumped-up darkie from the colonies, not one of us. Years later he got a Nobel prize for the discovery, but by that time had gone to work in the US, and avoided sticking his neck out ever again.

Free Radicals describes a lot of this sort of thing. In 1956 three men were awarded the Nobel prize in physics for the invention of the transistor. In fact the achievement belonged to two of them, Walter Brattain and John Bardeen. The third, William Shockley, was their boss. When Shockley realised that his underlings had pipped him to the post he used his authority to redirect all the lab's resources to develop his rival device. But Brattain and Bardeen still managed to write the substance of the paper, later described as 'ageless classics', while Shockley merely tacked on a 'forgettable' supplement. He then furiously lobbied his superiors to ensure that he, Shockley, would get most of the glory, fielding the press's questions and ensuring that no pictures of the pair were taken without him in the frame.

A forceful personality can sometimes push through an idea even if proof is lacking. That's the case with the discovery of the 'prion' by Stanley Prusiner in the course of research into Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (CJD) and 'scrapie' that affects sheep and goats. The infectious material didn't seem to be a virus or a bacterium, the two known agents of infection. So what could it be? A mathmetician, unconstrained by biological limitations, suggested it might be a protein, disregarding the fact that a protein can't reproduce. Prusiner jumped on this and proposed a third agent of infection, a self-replicating protein which he dubbed the prion. It's never been experimentally proven, and to this day no one apart from Prusiner can be sure it exists. But Prusiner's loud insistence, backed up by clever rhetorical tricks, has simply worn down the opposition.

I was also struck by the case of Lynn Margulis, Carl Sagan's first wife. She proposed the idea now known as endosymbiosis that genetic mutations were caused not by environmental factors, the orthodox view, but by two or more organisms co-operating together for mutual advantage. Endosymbiosis was eventually found to be richly supported by the fossil record and has become the new orthodoxy, taught in universities. But Margulis had to fight dirty to get it accepted, playing fast and loose with the peer-review system and creating a lot of hostility in the process.

Margulis's willingness to use her position as a member of the National Academy of Sciences to get round the peer-review system helped other scientists to publish seemingly crazy theories. One such tackles the odd fact of caterpillars turning into butterflies, and other similar transformations of creatures from a larval stage to a completely different form. On the face of it, caterpillars and butterflies do look like different species, and according to this idea, that's exactly what they are. The hybridization would have come about at some point in the far distant past, when the sperm of one species accidentally fertilized the eggs of another. Biologists aren't keen on the idea, and the theory may never gain acceptance. But the point is, if the rules weren't sometimes broken, radical new ideas like this might never see the light of day.

Against this, Margulis also champions the notion that the HIV virus does not cause AIDS, for which there is little or no evidence. One should be careful, Brooks warns, before assuming that everything a brilliant scientist thinks of is likely to be true. But then again, perhaps we should also be cautious about such cautions. In this context Brooks briefly mentions Brian Josephson, who won a Nobel prize for his insights into the properties of superconductors, but whose 'current ravings about the plausibility of extra-sensory perception seem less well thought through'.

Brooks talks about non-rational insight as a source of scientific discoveries. Einstein, according to his biographer, made his profound discoveries 'in the manner of a mystic'. For him, working everything out logically, by deduction, was 'far beyond the capacity of human thinking'. Brooks also pursues the possible benefit to science of psychedelic visions, much prized by Apple's Steve Jobs and other ground-breaking computer geeks, apparently. Francis Crick was said to have been fascinated by the effects of LSD, although, Brooks rather sadly concedes, there is no evidence it helped him towards the ground-breaking discovery of DNA. He goes on to relate famous examples of discoveries based on dreams and visions, such as the one that provided the blueprint for Nikola Tesla to construct the self-starting alternating current motor.

As for the rough-and-tumble and rule-breaking, Brooks thinks that's essential to a healthy pursuit of scientific discovery. He approves of Crick's response to complaints about his appalling treatment of fellow researcher Rosalind Franklin, whose data he and Watson liberally helped themselves to without acknowledging her contribution. Franklin didn't have what it takes, Cricks sniffed - too cautious, too determined to be scientifically sound and avoid short cuts.

Science changed, Brooks argues, after World War II, when large numbers of unimaginative drone researchers entered the field. Specialisation has become a curse, with people pursuing smaller and smaller concerns that are of little interest and relevance. The peer-review system, widely considered to be a bedrock of science and a reason for its effectiveness, is really a drag, he considers. It was brought in to help manage the sheer quantity of articles submitted for publication, not all of which can be accommodated. But reviewers can be tempted to delay acceptance of an article, if it makes theirs redundant, or they don't like the theory. Considering how easily affronted scientists can be when an orthodoxy is challenged the system seems positively designed to stifle innovation.

I have heard researchers moan, for instance, about a reviewer who couldn't find flaws in their work, but told the journal editor that the work should be published only if accompanied by this disclaimer: 'The most plausible explanation of these results is that they are somehow wrong'.

As we know, this is a common fate of psi-research papers that are proposed for publication in mainstream publications.

So what's the lesson here? In a general sense, Free Radicals hammers the point that hostility to radical new ideas is absolutely normal. The road to Stockholm is lined with jeering scientists, as Brooks puts it. So the 'intellectual dishonesty' psi researchers complain of - often with justification - is only to be expected. However outrageous it seems, that's science.

But if radical new ideas need forceful personalities to push them through, how does parapsychology score in that regard? Who, in this field, could be characterised as possessing the lust for glory and sheer bloody-minded egotism to make their ideas accepted?

I don't think that describes any of the first psychic researchers, like Myers, Sidgwick, Gurney - however dedicated and effective they undoubtedly were. It might apply to Joseph Rhine. In the modern day, scientists like Dean Radin and Rupert Sheldrake are certainly persistent, and face down their critics robustly, but I don't see them engaging in skullduggery to advance their agendas (of course they would say they don't have to). Some psi-researchers, in the process of trying to win mainstream acceptance, seem almost self-effacing, bending backwards to be conciliatory to their critics. (I'm thinking for instance of the late Bob Morris and John Beloff at Edinburgh's Koestler Parapsychology Unit.)

Charles Honorton perhaps comes close, in terms of force of personality. He put the ganzfeld procedure on the map. But the only person I can think of who really matches the profile is Harry Price, the wealthy British businessman-turned- researcher of the inter-war period. Price was hugely ambitious and egotistical, desperate for big cases that would bring him public glory and willing to indulge in skullduggery to advance his career. These days he's viewed in parapsychological circles as a slightly risible figure, but perhaps a nascent discipline struggling to win acceptance needs peoople with his sort of ambition and chutzpah.

The professional sceptics, now - another matter altogether. Plenty of skullduggery there.

Comments

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Robert, thank you for another informative book review. I've been thinking about what you wrote.

It's true that the skeptics simply have a much better flair for the kind of showmanship (and disregard for the facts) that best wins in the court of public opinion.

However, one of my favorite examples of causing a huge public splash while promoting serious, honest research was Robert Funk, who founded the Jesus Seminar. He gathered dozens of scholars together and had them vote with colored beads on the authenticity of the sayings (and then the deeds) in the New Testament gospels. It had a huge effect on both the public mind and the discipline itself. And I don't know of any skullduggery that was engaged in.

So I suspect that one could find a way to capture both professional and public attention and remain fully honest. You just need to be creative in finding the way to do it. You need a sense for what grabs attention.

I think the dark underbelly of science, with its resistance to new truths, is a deeply regrettable thing. I really think it ends up having a powerful effect on our civilization.

Where my mind goes in terms of an ultimate solution is in childhood education. I think we should make critical thinking a central part of education--teach kids how to honestly assess evidence and bracket their own biases. Good, honest thinking is one of the most precious commodities on earth. It means swimming against the in-built tendency to see what you want to see, and instead actively disregard what you want to see in your attempt to honor the evidence. But it can open up new worlds, not just intellectually, but in how we relate to others and conduct our lives.

I think this kind of thinking is not only deeply threatening on a personal level, but on a collective level as well. I suspect that is part of why we don't teach it in schools. From a certain standpoint, it can seem like handing kids a gun. But unless children are reared with that kind of training as a daily part of their education, then the human default position naturally carries the day and "it's so because I want it to be so" rules our lives, our politics, and our science.

In the meantime, I dearly wish we had a Robert Funk of parapsychology, one figure with that kind of vision and flair. Where is that guy?

Interesting post Robert; and interesting response Robert P. I agree science has a dark, resistant underside; and I think the exchanges on previous posts about organisations as belief systems go to the nub of why this is so.

To the extent science is a belief system - and as I see it holding that view is in no way being anti-science per se – as with all such systems there is always the likelihood that the attitude of at least some towards the excluded beliefs will take on a condemnatory, us and them, or even paranoid, complexion. Over time, this is bound to harden into a kind of implicit group think used to define and then attack ‘outsiders’ – even when, logically speaking, what these ‘outsiders’ do accords fully with science’s explicit aims. Parapsychology is, of course, a prime example of this.

That said, while this is consciously and cynically exploited by some high profile sceptics, my strong impression is that many of the scientists who adopt this approach do so unknowingly. If I am right, this raises some interesting questions. In particular, perhaps at least some of this resistance is there for a reason. This might sound naive, but I strongly believe truth will always eventually win out. The forces of denial, no matter how strong, have to eventually give way to reality. But perhaps there needs to be a right time, a kairos, for this to occur in a constructive manner.

If so, a Robert Funk like figure – or his equivalent – will emerge when the time is right. Until then, I guess it has to be patience and persistence.

Perhaps science is simply like any other endeavour where humans are a key component. The range of behaviours brought out look remarkably similar for business, healthcare, charitable work etc. It seems to me that the key determinant is personal motivation.

So strange that you would trash Brian Josephson--one of the few people who really embodies what you're praising in the book.

Yes, that would be odd to say the least. I think you missed the quote marks.

Perhaps I did! Sorry....

Well I could have made it clearer. I might use double quotes in future.

"Margulis also champions the notion that the HIV virus does not cause AIDS, for which there is little or no evidence."

This is one thing I have tried hard to figure out. Since I am not a medical researcher, I only had the information I could find in google. Still, I was able to find plenty of information showing that the idea that HIV causes AIDS is only a myth! With no actual scientific evidence behind it!

But I am not really surprised when scientists fail to be scientific. I have followed parapsychology all my life, for one thing, and I know that mainstream science has tried hard to ignore the evidence.

I have also followed evolution theory, and I know that the current theory of evolution is just a materialist myth, with no basis is evidence or logic.

So, no surprise, the HIV theory of AIDS is a myth. Still, it is frustrating when you try to argue about it. How could someone like me, who is not a medical researcher, possibly know something that thousands of medical scientists have missed?

Well, it does happen. God, I doubt I could have survived as a AIDS researcher, because there is no way I could go into the lab day after day and ignore the obvious fact that there is NO EVIDENCE for the theory everyone believes in, and all the research is based on!

There might seem to be evidence for the HIV theory, if you are careful not to look carefully at it. It's all an illusion.

Now, it's true I don't have access to all the medical journals and articles. And I don't understand all the jargon and terminology. But I really think I grasped enough of it to see through the illusions.

I have a PhD and I have research experience, so I know how complicated and confusing and misleading scientific research usually is. I know the kind of traps people fall into. And I found plenty of those while investigating the HIV theory of AIDS.

And when I tried to argue about it on scientific blogs, people got really MAD. How could I question something that has been established by thousands of mainstream scientists? HIV deniers are considered idiots.

I believe in Intelligent Design, I believe in psi, and I don't believe the HIV theory of AIDS. I look at the facts and the evidence and I use logic. I don't care what the scientific consensus is.

But the vast majority of scientists are trusting followers, and they never wonder if their mentors and peers could be completely wrong about something.

Highly respected scientists like Brian Josephson or Daryl Bem can afford to think for themselves and say what they think. They are advanced in their careers, or retired, and don't have to care very much about their reputations.

Everyone else must toe the line. Peter Duesberg's career suffered because of his HIV denialism.

And, besides, the HIV deniers have no plausible alternative theory. Like all mainstream scientists, they are stuck on "physical" causes of disease, and will not consider the role of non-physical information. Enter homeopathic theory.

Homeopathy has been trashed by the mainstream, because they say it can't possibly work. No, according to mainstream materialism it can't work. But alternative science tells a completely different story.

realpc, you are talking absolute crap. As somebody who is HIV+ myself and doing well on therapy and with a Ph.D from a top UK university, I know what I'm talking about. You have tried to pollute other blogs with this utter rubbish, and you were quickly rebutted as you will be here. As I've said before, the claims made by HIV denialists are based on misinterpreting old clinical data from the late 80's early 90's when AZT (Zidovudine) was the only anti-viral around. Time and again, somebody with clinical disease (PCP, KS, NHL, PML) will resolve after immune restoration through therapy. How can you ignore the science and day to day experiences of clinicians and patients (who know a damn sight more than you do about this disease)? The Society for Scientific Exploration gives succour to this nonsense as well, by giving air time to Henry Bauer and his HIV denialism nonsense. Having this dangerous crap alongside exciting developments in consciousness research is detrimental to parapsychology through negative association.

Well Michael Duggan, the author of Free Radicals is an HIV denier, so why not yell at him also? It doesn't matter what degrees we have from what universities. Mine is a good university also. I'm sure the HIV researchers there are all on the same bandwagon. The point is that science is not the ideal objective system so many people expect it to be.

There was very little early research on AZT. Researchers quickly jumped to the conclusion that AZT kills HIV and helps to restore health. However, this was never demonstrated beyond 2 years. AZT does kill HIV -- and anything else, since it is poison.

AIDS involves many bacterial and fungal infections, and these can also be killed by AZT. Any living thing can be killed by AZT. So it can appear that health is being restored early in AZT treatment.

That is how the illusion began. Long term improvement of health was never demonstrated with AZT.

Newer drugs were developed, all of them poison, although not as toxic as AZT. Studies showed that patients did better on the newer drugs. But was it because the newer drugs were more effective at killing HIV and allowing the immune system to recover, or because they were not as toxic as AZT?

Well that is an important but unanswered question.

It is true that many HIV positive patients survive a long time on HAART treatment (a combination of the newer drugs). However, we don't know if they would have survived just as long, or longer, WITHOUT the treatment. The studies have never been done.

We do know that HIV infection does not necessarily lead to AIDS, and that when it does lead to AIDS it can take decades. So we don't know how many HIV patients would have never died from AIDS.

The data has not been collected and the studies have not been done that would have answered these questions. Because the mainstream researchers all thought they knew the answers.

We know that early in the AIDS epidemic, a positive HIV test was a death sentence, and that now it usually is not. BUT -- early in the epidemic no one was tested for HIV unless they were already sick! Now lots of healthy people are tested for HIV, and many are positive.

Research is difficult and confusing, even for scientists, And wishful thinking and group thinking are as common among scientists as anywhere else.

Isn't this somewhat off-topic?

Sorry Paul, but I have got reply to such nonsense.

"It is true that many HIV positive patients survive a long time on HAART treatment (a combination of the newer drugs). However, we don't know if they would have survived just as long, or longer, WITHOUT the treatment. The studies have never been done."

This is rubbish. There are hundreds of thousands of people alive today because they were put on therapy and their immune systems recovered. Countless folk with CD4 counts of 0 and with serious opportunistic disease are now alive because of therapy. Yes AZT was harmful, but it kept enough alive to enjoy protease inhibitors and triple therapy that keeps their viral loads at undetectable levels. We know what happens when treatment is interrupted (i.e, the SMART trial), the virus wakes up, CD4 counts go down and disease comes back.

"We do know that HIV infection does not necessarily lead to AIDS, and that when it does lead to AIDS it can take decades. So we don't know how many HIV patients would have never died from AIDS"

In some people, the Elite controllers and LTNP (long term non-progressors), appear able to control the virus naturally. They are actively being studied but only make up less than 0.5% of cases. This is where you might be getting confused?

Personally, I am extremely grateful for the couple of pills I take every day and I find HIV denialism repellant and intellectually dishonest.

Yes, let's talk about this.

'I believe in Intelligent Design, I believe in psi, and I don't believe the HIV theory of AIDS.'

This worries me. A lot. Just as it worries me that some psi-advocates are also climate change sceptics.

I can't think of anything more deadly for psi-advocates to be seen to be associated with these positions. It blows us out of the water - makes us look like anti-science whackos.

At the very least we have to make it very clear why these things aren't to be conflated together.

Psi is to be taken seriously because of the considerable indications of it in human experience, documented by responsible researchers over a long period, and backed up by credible lab experiments. Climate change and the HIV-AIDS link are also the conclusions of responsible scientific research, just as psi is. There's a broad consensus among scientists who actually study these things.

I take the fierce opposition to psi to be the natural conservatism that Michael Brooks documents in Free Radicals. Considering psi's extraordinary implications it's exactly what we should expect.

Similarly climate change is denied by people who seem unwilling to face up to its implications and/or have an animus against the progressive/leftwing/environmentalist section of society that wants governments to spend taxpayers money doing something about it.

Creationism/ID is surely rooted in the need to protect the religious worldview from Darwinism. The same sort of sceptical impulse that drives psi-sceptics, but in reverse.

Many people were shocked by former South African president Thabo Mbeki's long insistence that HIV does not cause AIDS, which caused the government to be backward in its approach to one of the most serious health crises the country has ever faced. Some blame him directly for thousands of otherwise preventable deaths. But his denialism, although abhorrent and tragic, makes complete sense in the context of his bitter hatred of colonialism.

Realpc, small point: Michael Brooks, the author of Free Radicals, is not an HIV denier. This is my fault for being unclear. When I wrote 'Margulis also champions the notion that the HIV virus does not cause AIDS, for which there is little or no evidence', I assumed that readers would understand this as I do. I'm learning to be wary of making these sorts of assumptions.

I'm troubled that a Google search throwing up all kinds of positive responses to the idea that the HIV-AIDS link is a myth should be taken as supporting that position. Surely Google can return abundant 'evidence' for just about any position anyone chooses to take.

Michael, thanks for posting on this. As with climate change, I'm not familiar with the detail of the arguments, and have no particular wish to specialise. But your robust response is exactly what I'd expect.


"Creationism/ID is surely rooted in the need to protect the religious worldview from Darwinism."

That is not true. I have looked at the evidence for psi, for neo-Darwinism, and for the HIV theory of AIDS. I have investigated each of these for many years, and found that I disagree with the mainstream scientific consensus on each of them. If the mainstream can be wrong about psi, then why can't it be wrong about other things too?

I am not a climate change denier. I have never investigated the climate change theory so I don't have a strong opinion. It seems very likely to me that human activities have influenced climate.

I do not mindlessly side with the dissenters on any issues. There are certain things I care about or have been curious about, and I investigated them. When things don't make sense, I am skeptical of them, no matter who believes them. I am skeptical of authority in general.

I do know that the current mainstream theory of evolution, which is sometimes called neo-Darwinism, is not supported by evidence. It has been accepted mainly because it supports materialism.

The Intelligent Design movement tends to be associated with organized religion, and to be political. I have nothing to do with that movement. I just happen to agree with them that the mainstream theory of evolution is implausible.


" When I wrote 'Margulis also champions the notion that the HIV virus does not cause AIDS, for which there is little or no evidence', I assumed that readers would understand this as I do."

And how do you understand this? He said there is little or no evidence that HIV causes AIDS, and that is true, and that is what I said. How else can it be understood?

I dare to disagree with the experts and authorities, and that makes some people mad. They don't like it when non-experts look at the emperor and notice there are no clothes. What right do I have to question authorities? Well, that seemed to be the topic of this post.

"I take the fierce opposition to psi to be the natural conservatism that Michael Brooks documents in Free Radicals."

No, it is not natural conservatism. It is the materialist bias of mainstream science.

"Climate change and the HIV-AIDS link are also the conclusions of responsible scientific research, just as psi is."

I have no opinion on climate change. I think it's probably true, but I also think the evidence is probably ambiguous and confusing. And that is the case in many areas of scientific research. It is seldom as clear and conclusive as non-scientists are led to believe.

You are so sure about HIV-AIDS -- but have you looked at the evidence yourself? Or do you just believe whatever is the mainstream scientific consensus?

'You are so sure about HIV-AIDS -- but have you looked at the evidence yourself?'

No, as I readily concede, I haven't. I trust the science on this one. Nor is this an inconsistent position on my part. The circumstances are quite different from the case of parapsychology. I'm cautious about applying the 'scientists can often be mistaken' rule across the board.

My Margulis statement was sloppy. I amend it as follows:

'Margulis also champions the notion that the HIV virus does not cause AIDS, a notion which has no serious support in the scientific and medical community.'

It's inconceivable to me that medical science could be wrong about a disease it has struggled with for more than two decades, and in which millions of lives are at stake. Again, quite different circumstances from parapsychology.

You may have a point about science's materialist bias. I'm a bit wary of fighting these battles on ideological grounds, however, and avoid it as much as possible. Prefer to fight on the arguments. Attributing other people's motives to a metaphysical bias is unproductive, as they can easily do the same, and it gets us nowhere.

Robert, I am totally with you on your responses here. I would say that realpc's support of HIV denialism destroys his credibilty elsewhere. His views have no currency. It's like listening to a holocaust denier's opinion on the moon landings. I'm not interested in anything he has to say. (or anybody else who subscribes to something so patently wrong).

"It's inconceivable to me that medical science could be wrong about a disease it has struggled with for more than two decades, and in which millions of lives are at stake. "

Inconceivable? The fact that millions of lives are at stake makes it even more likely that mainstream AIDS science would refuse to back out of this dead end. And the fact that billions of dollars have been spent. I think you believe the HIV-AIDS theory mainly because you hate to think so many experts could be so confused about anything this important.

I hope you read my comment that explains how some of this confusion got started.

Studies comparing standard AIDS treatment with no treatment have seldom been done, for ethical reasons. It would be unethical to deprive patients of a treatment that is known, or believed, to work. So the theory has not been, and cannot be, tested in any straightforward way.

All the evidence is ambiguous and confusing. For example, many studies measure HIV levels and immune system cell counts. These are assumed to measure a patient's health status. They seldom measure the actual health status of patients, which can tell a very different story.

And in addition to all the confusion surrounding the supposed evidence, the HIV-killing treatments are highly toxic and cause permanent damage to every cell in the body. Very often, so-called HIV-related diseases are actually caused by the anti-retroviral drugs.

It is well-known that long-term HIV treatment often results in premature aging, dementia, heart disease, cancer, liver disease, and more. This is not a treatment that you want to take unless you are sure it is necessary and effective. And you cannot be sure without good evidence, which does not exist.

not interested!

Actually he has made some points that need addressing just so nobody is even fooled for a micro-second that his arguments have any validity.

realpc says:
Studies comparing standard AIDS treatment with no treatment have seldom been done, for ethical reasons. It would be unethical to deprive patients of a treatment that is known, or believed, to work. So the theory has not been, and cannot be, tested in any straightforward way.

This has actually been studied in the SMART trial (as I said above, he keeps repeating the same crap without looking at what others have written). This trial demonstrated significant problems for people interrupting treatment. There are millions of people who are alive because of treatment, who were literally at deaths door.

Realpc says:
All the evidence is ambiguous and confusing. For example, many studies measure HIV levels and immune system cell counts. These are assumed to measure a patient's health status. They seldom measure the actual health status of patients, which can tell a very different story.

The only ambiguity exists in realpc's head. With treatment, viral load is reduced to undetectable levels (less than 20 copies / ml), CD4 counts go up and illnesses resolve. Why is this so difficult to understand???

Realpc says:
And in addition to all the confusion surrounding the supposed evidence, the HIV-killing treatments are highly toxic and cause permanent damage to every cell in the body. Very often, so-called HIV-related diseases are actually caused by the anti-retroviral drugs.

Treatment these days is NOT toxic at all. I have no problems with the drugs I am taking (Darunavir and Maravoric, and for God's sake, I SHOULD KNOW!!) and there is no evidence of any damage to the kidneys or liver and I train everyday at the gym (and cycle 30 miles a day!)

Realpc says:
It is well-known that long-term HIV treatment often results in premature aging.

This is actually an area of investigation, but the evidence is sketchy, and unchecked HIV causes far more accelerated aging than the drugs could every do. The drugs I'm on cause no mitochondrial toxicity at all.

Realpc, please LOOK at the evidence before spouting off this random nonsense. You're obviously fairly smart. It's time to use those critical faculties!

michael duggan,

I can understand why your emotions are involved on this subject. I can't have a rational conversation with your emotions, so I won't answer. I really have looked at all the evidence I could find. The whole theory behind AIDS treatment is wrong, in my opinion. I don't take the HIV deniers seriously, because they can be just as irrational as the HIV believers. I reached my own conclusions based on evidence and logic and what I know about heath in general.

It is not possible for HIV treatment to be non-toxic, as you claim. The whole point of the treatment is to kill HIV, and therefore the treatment must be toxic. Just as antibiotics are toxic, and chemotherapy for cancer is toxic. These treatments depend on their toxicity.

It wouldn't be so bad if you could take them for a short while, but HIV treatment is given for life because, supposedly, the virus evolves and becomes able to tolerate the toxic chemicals.

The treatment is toxic, and the HIV - AIDS connection has not been established. But you need to hold on to your beliefs, for obvious reasons.

Realpc, You haven't responded to any of the points I make above. You're repeating the same old mantra. What you call toxicity above, clinicians call efficacy. As I said before, these modern day drugs are not toxic, and side effects are generally on the low side and only temporary.
HIV only evolves if it can multiply in the presence of sub-optimal drug concentrations. With maintaining an undetectable viral load and good adherence, then a drug combination can last indefinitely. You really do need to learn this stuff if your opinion is to hold water. You have a Ph.D (so you say), so you should know how to filter bad information from good and arrive at the best conclusions.

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