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.