Bad Science: The AIDS hoax (part I)

Many of you might be familiar with this well of stupidity and misinformation that is the website. It is a centre for propagation of bad science and misleading information that have probably led a number of people into rejecting vaccination thus resulting in the recent outbreaks in the UK and US.

People endorsing such unsupported ideas, and damning vaccines (for pretty much everything even remotely correlated to vaccination) are responsible for many deaths and many more hospitalizations. But let’s become a bit more specific. And excuse me but there is so much concentrated bullcrap on this website that it will take many installments to discuss (and debunk) some of them. So let’s start! has a page entitled: “AIDS” (or “AIDS Hoax” or “AIDS Conspiracy” as linked by other pages). There are comments from doctors (?) among other people, condemning vaccination schedules and the “toxics” in them. There is also some HIV denialism (the idea that HIV virus is not the causal agent of AIDS), stories about the big pharma conspiracy to sell vaccines and experiment and kill innocent people, and hypotheses on the origins of AIDS (you guessed it: it spread through the use of vaccines).

But is there ANY evidence for all of these ideas? Let’s start with Alan Cantwell, MD, on his ideas on the origin of AIDS [text version here]:

Alan Cantwell Quote

There are a few questions to be asked of Cantwell’s statements:

First, Cantwell says: “My research clearly supports…”. But where is this research? Has Cantwell published his research somewhere? Uh, no. PubMed brings up only four articles where Cantwell is a co-author: three of them are irrelevant and one is related to the possible causative function of tuberculous mycobacteria in AIDS -as opposed to the HIV retrovirus (more on this paper when it is published later on this year). No sign of his epidemiological results that “clearly support” his hypothesis

Second, and most weirdly: where did Cantwell get his data if the bad government refused to disclose such data? Or, if he had robust data from another source, why is it then so important that the government withheld such information? There is clearly something wrong in Cantwell’s statements. But can we just dismiss them on the spot?

Well, if there was any hint of evidence we could perhaps consider his as a viable hypothesis (and not an unquestionable fact as he wants us to believe). Hell, even without any evidence we could perhaps judge that it is a reasonable proposition. But in the light of available evidence and *published* research, it makes no sense to accept any of his unsubstantiated statements at this point.

For instance Gilbert et al. in “The emergence of HIV/AIDS in the Americas and beyond” suggest that the virus first came to Haiti from Africa and then spread to the US. They used gene sequencing to track down the “route” of the virus. There are many other articles on the subject in PubMed but they are not available to non-subscribers (I will see if I can find them elsewhere and report back here). Also have a look at CDC’s statement: “Hepatitis B Vaccine: Evidence Confirming Lack of AIDS Transmission”.

A similar hypothesis was proposed for the oral polio vaccine (OPV) before, but this hypothesis has been refuted in the scientific literature (for example in “Origin of AIDS: contaminated polio vaccine theory refuted”, in “Molecular analyses of oral polio vaccine samples” and “New data challenge OPV theory of AIDS origin” among *many* other papers). Nevertheless the OPV/HIV hypothesis still remains alive! In the same page, there is an Edward Hooper quote from 2006 (several years after all the aforementioned studies were published and his hypothesis refuted!) [text version here]:

Edward Hooper Quote

There goes 20 years of research down the drain… Edward Hooper is 99.9% deluded apparently. These are the stuff of denialists, conspiracy theorists, woo-meisters, and anti-vaccination lunatics. It is the stuff of Bad Science…

People can and will hypothesise a lot -on the origin of AIDS, on the vaccine safety etc. But there are no authorities here (Nullius in Verba as per the Royal Society). You have to look at the available evidence. And Mr. Cantwell has none! He is not an active research and has not published his research that “clearly supports” his ideas. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason why we should accept his views on the issue. As for Mr. Hooper, he talks about conspiracy theories when published and publicly available scientific research shows that his (and others’) OPV/HIV hypothesis is plainly wrong.

Will they ever learn to let their discredited ideas go? Will they ever learn to either publish their research (for everyone to read, scrutinize, replicate, and judge) or stop making unsubstantiated claims and appealing to conspiracies!

[I am providing here citations for the 17 PubMed entries on vaccines/HIV origins. Please if you find something else relevant let me know.]