Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spectator is fooled by the Aids denialists

Why is the increasingly infantile Spectator hosting an exclusive UK screening of the widely discredited documentary film House of Numbers (on Oct 28)? Intellectual controversy I can appreciate. A wallow in moronism is harder to understand.

If you haven't heard of it yet, the movie's a piece of Aids denialist propaganda by the Canadian filmmaker Brent Leung. His baseless contention is that Aids is a myth created by the pharmas to flog antiretroviral drugs or a condition dreamt up by misdiagnoses. As Ben Goldacre writes in a comprehensive demolition of the film, House of Numbers crafts its own confusions and is disingenuous. For example, a woman with Aids featured in the movie says she feels much better for rejecting the drugs. What you don't know, if you miss some tiny words added at the end of the closing credits, is that she is now dead.

As fascinating is how the Spectator has been gulled into bestowing its kudos on this nonsense. Though Leung claims to be an indie filmmaker, not an Aids denialist, it is now suspected his film was funded, at least in part, by the Aids-denialist Rethinking AIDS. If true, this makes a nonsense of the magazine's assertion that Leung embarked on a "worldwide journey" of discovery. He'd already reached his conclusions.

The fact Leung has never talked about this should have alerted the usually rational Spectator to the dodgy nature of the production.


Anonymous said...

This is the Spectator's version of Muslim fundamentalism. Come back, Richard Dawkins, all is forgiven.

Seth Kalichman said...

very easy to be fooled by AIDS deniers. House of Numbers is particularly hard to detect. A masterpiece in lies. for more on this AIDS denialist film see

Anonymous said...

Madame should try to find out who set up this deal at the Spectator - there lies the tale.

Anonymous said...

I have never read such poppycock. It's incredible that a respected magazine would get into bed with a bunch of crazies with a demented phobia of pharmaceutical companies. And I'm astonished to learn that people such as Norman Fowler are taking part in the debate.

Anonymous said...

the second comment on Bad Science was interesting-why are corporation PR firms funding these sort films when they will most likely have little effect ?.

However as we can see with the infamous teabaggers parties in the US,the greatest enemy to society is public relation firms.

Anonymous said...

The Speccie - from Krautrock to AIDS Denial - via Susan Hill - yuk!

Acid Rain Again said...

Whatever happened to the New Statesman? Is it still published?

DS said...

You mean, "Spectator acts reasonably and hears critical views of pharmaceutical fraud and dishonesty?"

I'm sure that's what you -meant- to write, you just couldn't get past your very un-scientific, and quite hateful bias.

Indeed, thank goodness an idea can be heard and debated publicly, so that its merits can be weighed by the common man and woman.

Or, is that the problem? You don't want common sense applied to your wildly corrupted pharmaceutical projects?

By the way, how do so many people with what you assure us all are terrible, disreputable, transparently false ideas, 'fool' so many?

Could it be that you're not being entirely honest about who's been lying all this time?

Anonymous said...

Is President Mbeki editing the Spectator now?

Madame Arcati said...

DS, plainly you're of the Rethinking Aids cult and since it has rejected science as a basis of argument, you're hardly one to cite my lack of science.

What we have here is a straightforward piece of demented dogma: it would have been honest and honourable if the funders of this film had named themselves voluntarily, rather than have the world believe that the filmmaker was an objective explorer. He is not.

The film project is dishonest, a fraud and a piece of malevolent mischief. What matters to you is not any truth but your loathing of the drugs companies: that is all that motivates you and the loons behind this movie. And I say that as someone who believes the pharmas must be strictly governed and supervised because the health industry is one long goldmine.

Let people see the film but they should be warned of its fraudulence first. I think it unfortunate that a magazine such as the Spectator, with all the respect it has earned over time, has been so fooled. It will regret its involvement.

And as for the debate that follows the screening, you'll discover that no one at the magazine takes yout dumb film seriously anyway.

Michael Geiger said...

Hello Madame Arcati, I am wondering if you would be so kind as to respond to a few questions.

1)First of all, Madame Arcati, could you give me your best opinion and best answer, even if it is a shear guess, as to why the EXACT YEARS (1987 to 1995) of highest aids deaths (at least here in the US of A) are also the EXACT SAME YEARS (1987 to 1995) that high dosage AZT monotherapy was given to every single person who tested hiv positive?

2) Did you know that over 300,000 gay men died within an average period of 8 months to 1-1/2 years of being on high dosage AZT between the years of 1987 to 1995?

3) Why do you suppose aids deaths came down to the current low yearly levels as soon as high dose AZT monotherapy ended in 1995?

4) Are you aware that it is those very same people that are labeled as "Denialists" that were the ones screaming the loudest that AZT was a deadly toxic drug?

5) Are you aware that even the 1994 Physician's Desk Reference said, and I quote: ""It was often difficult to distinguish adverse events possibly associated with zidovudine [AZT] administration from the underlying signs of HIV disease"

6) Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis, whose discovery of PCR is what is being used for "hiv viral load tests" has said, and still stands by today, "If there is evidence that HIV causes AIDS, there should be scientific documents which either singly or collectively demonstrate that fact, at least with a high probability. There is no such document." (Sunday Times (London) 28 nov. 1993)

Could you show me any paper or papers that proves Dr. Mullis to be mistaken?

7) Can you show a single paper where the antibodies used for the hiv elisa and western blot tests are based on finding any live infectious virus in those who show these antibodies?

8) As vaccines are at this point quite easy to make, could you explain why 63 hiv vaccines have failed to date?

9) Could you explain why Mr. Mbeki of South Africa was wrong for not wanting to allow AZT or what seems to be unverified hiv tests to be used on his people?

10) How sure are you that those 330,000 people that your article said died because of Mbeki's denialism actually died of anything having to do with HIV? I mean, as many as there are in the huge ghettos of South Africa that have near starvation level diets, or only diets of corn meal daily, or sewers running beside their shantys with flys flying into the shit and then into their food, or impure drinking water, or malaria or TB, or are living extremely highly stressed lives of poverty and hopelessness, etc..... Well, what I am getting at Alvin, is could you and your bevy of aids experts please confirm that all of these factors were not the real cause of death? And after doing that, could you please confirm to me that taking any of the highly and well verified to be toxic (after all, they are all FDA Black Labeled drugs), please confirm to me that these black label well proven to be toxic drugs would have saved those 330,000 people whose deaths are blamed on those damn "denialists".

11) And with all of these people turning down hiv tests and hiv drugs, could you please explain to me why there are so few "aids deaths" in this country today? I mean, after all, more people have died every year since 1994 from MRSA (methicillin resistant staph infection) than are claimed by the CDC to die of AIDS every year?

12) Could you please explain why Amy Justice of the Pittsburg Medical Center, who in 2002 looked at 5700 "AIDS" deaths since 1995, found death by liver failure among those taking aids drugs to be the leading cause of death in HIV positive Americans ever since AZT monotherapy ended in 1995?

13) Could you please explain to me why not even a SINGLE anti-hiv drug has EVER been tested against placebo since the very first 4 month short trial of the drug AZT back in 1987? Why are NONE of the drugs ever since AZT tested against placebo to see if they actually have any beneficial effect at all?


A satirist said...

I find Madame's position amusing on this matter. Because in past posts you have attacked the fashion and secularism of science with your irrational faith in an afterlife. Indeed, you have been incredibly rude about Dawkins, Hitchens et al.

Now, you defend science, such as it is, and mock the mumbo jumbo lot. Truly, Madame, you are, er, iridescent.

Madame Arcati said...

Dear Michael

Thank you for your letter. I'm afraid I do not have the time to do all the research your letter asks of me, a letter which I do not doubt you prepared earlier for other sites which deplore the film in question. I do not guess at answers on a matter as important as HIV/AIDS, I leave that to the Rethinking AIDS cult and their delusional, unscientific vendetta against the pharmas.

I am however very happy to put up your letter and allow others with the time and medical knowledge - medical knowledge to match yours, that is - to deal with the points you raise.

Anonymous said...

I expect Michael also believes that the Twin Towers were brought down by CIA Jews flying planes into them. Another example of what happens when a virtual reality fantasist gets captured by the game.

A Doctor said...

Mr Geiger would seem to be a perfect illustration of what happens when a man unhinges from experience and disappears into his computer armed with statistics. Information Overload is the new Bible: you can prove anything.

Madame Arcati said...

The Aids denialists are rather like the loons of the Madeleine Foundation - cranks with too much time on their hands (which are of course afflicted by RSI - no doubt the pharmas are to blame for that, too).

Anonymous said...

Can we have some pictures of beautiful young rugby players to whet our sexual appetite?

Anonymous said...

yes-how about another penis pic please !

Anonymous said...

Andrew Neil is organising this event - and an article by his old denialist chum from the Sunday Times, Neville Hodgkinson, just went up on the Spectator site today. Hmmm.

Also - I don't think Lord Fowler will be turning up.

Madame Arcati said...

Ah, Neville Hodgkinson, say no more. That fool's involvement could have been guessed at.

Snout said...

As you probably realised, Michael Geiger is a troll who posts the same garbage again and again on different websites, looking for new audiences. In case anyone is interested, the answers to his “questions” are:

1. High dose AZT monotherapy was never given to “everyone who tested HIV positive”. It was offered only to people already seriously ill with AIDS (AIDS defining illnesses) and ARC until 1990, and this was extended to some people with evidence of progression toward AIDS in 1990 and 1991. By 1992 AZT monotherapy was low dose for everyone who took it. Mortality for people with AIDS was highest in the years 1981 to 1986, and fell year by year from 1987, the year AZT was introduced. Total numbers of AIDS deaths in the US peaked in 1995, prior to the completed rollout of HAART in 1996 when death rates plummeted. HAART typically consisted of exactly the same dose of AZT as that used from 1992 to 1995 as monotherapy, only combined with usually two other antiretroviral drugs.

2. This is utter nonsense.

3. Because the addition of two other antiretroviral drugs to the previously used doses of AZT monotherapy is far more effective than AZT monotherapy alone.

4. Some of them are. Some of them are dead. The ones who are still alive are just as wrong now as they were before 1996. AZT monotherapy was not terribly effective compared to AZT combined with two other antiretrovirals, and in high doses had significant side effects. But the fact is, that it was better than nothing for people with AIDS.

5. Yes. Peripheral neuropathy, myopathy and neutropaenia are well recognised complications of untreated HIV disease. They can also be caused or exacerbated by the treatment. However, antiretrovirals do not cause AIDS.

6. Perhaps Kary Mullis should borrow any commonly used textbook of virology or immunology from a library, and check the reference list at the end of the chapter on HIV/AIDS. That is, when he comes down from his latest LSD trip.

7. Try Jackson et al’s “Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 detected in all seropositive symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.”

8. If vaccines are so easy to develop, perhaps Michael might like to show us the syphilis, hepatitis C and HSV vaccines he’s managed to cook up in his kitchen at home.

9. Yes.

(remove spaces from URL if they appear when you copy-paste it into your browser)

10. Read the South African mortality reports, Michael. The excess deaths among young adults in the graph above are almost entirely accounted for by opportunistic infections.

11. People at immediate risk of AIDS deaths are mostly taking antiretrovirals. Except for the most hardened denialists like Christine Maggiore, it’s pretty hard to ignore your risk of death once you’ve developed AIDS defining illnesses like PCP or cerebral toxo.

12. Nearly four fifths of people with HIV dying from liver disease have HBV or HCV coinfection. Among such people the risk of death decreases with increasing antiretroviral use. Most HIV related liver disease deaths are from chronic viral hepatitis poorly controlled by an immune system compromised by HIV disease. Treating the HIV infection reduces associated liver disease deaths.

13. Because it is unethical to compare new experimental treatments against anything other than the current benchmark best treatment. Doing nothing (“placebo”) has not been benchmark treatment for HIV infection since 1987.

Posting these answers here will make no difference to Michael - he will simply post exactly the same "questions" elsewhere.