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Christopher "Tanoro" Gray is a web programmer and science advocate especially concerned with resource management technologies, biology, and artificial intelligence. He is a student of epistemology and philosophy as well as an Atheist competent in Christian theology.

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Response to Argument on Facebook
Posted by: Tanoro - Jan 31, 2012 8:31pm

An individual on Facebook was discussing AIDS denialism with me over the past few weeks. The most recent response was so outrageous that I need more room than Facebook generally allows to respond. Also, I can make responses more readable than Facebook can.

Here I go:

My apologies for the delay...
First of all, Chris you don’t know what [House of Numbers] ascertains. I cannot tell you the issue AND argue its validity. If you should so be inclined, you must learn what it is you are so against about this film, rather than carry on in this faithful manner just believing that there is no merit to it.

I don't need to watch the film myself to ask you why you agree with it. I presumed you agree with the film's statement if you're promoting it on Facebook. If so, my question then is, "Why do you agree with it if you can't articulate the arguments or their validity?" Don't you think you should at least be able to discuss a topic in depth before promoting a position on it? What do you believe on this issue and why? That's a simple question.

In tune with this, your link is irrelevant and does not pertain to anything in the movie.

My link was in response to your previous statement. You said that HIV requires "co-factors." By the way, that term is not accurate. HIV requires "co-receptors" to infect a cell. My link was to a paper that settles your statement. The co-receptors are called CXCR4 and CCR5.

As I would imagine, lots of scientists would have issues with the premise that HIV does not directly delineated AIDS. There were some scientists embarrassed in this obviously controversial movie, and many have much to lose financially and professionally in a more complex pathogenasis

Actually, as far as I know, most scientists believe HIV does cause AIDS. Every biologist to whom I have spoken has said so without even a pause. How many have you asked? Also, I told you before that eighteen of the scientists who appeared in that movie later criticized the film's producer for editing their statements to make them appear to be saying things they didn't.[1][2] You said earlier that you couldn't argue the validity of the issue and I'm not surprised.

That environmental factors have a greater influence in the development of AIDS shifts the money paradigm surrounding AIDS. Is there profit in helping poor people increase their standard of living? (Ah, no.) These are the issues of the film.

THe next issue: what does lifestyle and sanitation have to do with AIDS? OK we both agree AIDS (acquired IMMUNODEFICIENCY syndrome) has to do with the immune system right? When our immune system becomes challenged with multiple organisms through lots of sex, drug needle sharing, poop in the water supply, etc. the body may be overwhelmed and latent disease may surface (Shingles is a good one). Add to that poverty’s malnutrition and the problem is compounded. AIDS patients are concerned with helper Tcell counts. They obsessively stay clean and limit the number of people in contact with to limit organism exposure. Here is an account of one physician’s AIDS treatment to give you an idea of sans AZT approach. http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1991/pdf/1991-v06n03&04-p174.pdf

Here’s another that uses nutrition to increase weight, CD4 counts.
http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/2007/pdf/2007-v22n03-p129.pdf

I don't have much of an argument there. Cleanliness and good health are important to fighting off disease. However, Luc Montagnier said in House of Numbers that good nutrition and a healthy immune system can fight off HIV BEFORE chronic infection occurs. Once you're chronically infected, that's it. So I'll halfway agree with your statement. However, as Montagnier notes, the people in Africa do not have the luxury of a healty diet or lifestyle as we do. What do you suggest for them?

As for your links, I'm not impressed. Both of them are hosted on some alternative medicine website and neither is published in ANY reputable journal, as far as I could tell. Have you tried searching the Lancet, Science, or Nature for your sources? How do you distinguish a legitimate source from a fraudulent one? This is why I press so hard that people need to stick to the journals for their science information. Unless you're an expert yourself on a given topic, you cannot tell the difference between a good source of information and a well-written piece of bogus crap. Because I reference the journals, I have the benefit of a review process, impact factors, and citation counts standing between me and the frauds.

The last issue here pertains to the movement and your place in it. Whether it’s the Burzynski issue or this, it appears you have a greater issue in being right than in being in a collaborative atmosphere with other people.

Do you have any idea how much time I spent researching, reading, and discussing Burzynski with people? There is a 2-hour debate between me and the Missouri coordinator on lazeitgeist.com (in the podcasts). It went well and we both came away with no hard feelings whatsoever. We even still exchange e-mails and have become Facebook friends. I STILL welcome anyone willing to present something compelling on Burzynski. If I am right, I deserve to be. If I am wrong, I welcome anyone to show me where and why and I will change my mind!

As for your accusation, that really presses my jackass button. How many times have you and I spoke? How many times have you listened to my weekly show with Frank? I am wrong all the time and anyone who knows me even remotely well will tell you that I admit right upfront when I am wrong. If you want the same treatment, make sure your information is right and your sources are compelling. If you fail to do so, you deserve whatever constructive criticism you get.

If we all agree on a free environment of scientific inquiry where there are no biases, we may still come to different conclusions based on scientific evidence because our values come into play. Your posting, along your group meetings, have a definitively arrogant tone to them and it may serve the group better to elicit discussion rather than argument with you personally.

That is nonsense. Evidence, by definition, cannot lead to two opposing viewpoints. One of us is necessarily either mistaken or lying. Having a rational discussion and making an argument is how we go about determining which of us it is. Besides, we're obviously not both asking experts, reading peer reviewed papers, gathering data, and engaging in discussions in an attempt to get a step closer to truth. And while you may find me arrogant, that is of no concern to me when I am assessing a claim. It's an ad hominem. If you can't handle honest criticism and inquiry for the evidence which supports your claims, then arrogance on my part should be the least of your worries. If you don't want to hear my arguments or my questions, then all you have to do is say so. However, this would look poorly on your willingness to promote your position despite the unwillingness to hear disagreements.

I may come off as a bit shrewd and intimidating at times when someone rubs me the wrong way with inane claptrap like what you just said. However, if you still feel that my behavior is unbecoming for a state level coordinator, show up at the meeting and appeal to the chapter. You have that right and I won't object nor be offended. The chapter can unseat me anytime the group wants with or without a good reason.

Burzynski is engaging in a private business transaction with his patients. NOT ONE PATIENT OR THEIR FAMILY has been dissatisfied with the treatment they received. In a litigious profession this is rare.

I agree that all of his patients either survive or are dead, so certainly none are dissatisfied. The family of the dead ones, however, were dissatisfied.[3] You do understand that Burzynski has not cured ALL of his patients, right? Even Burzynski himself didn't claim higher than a 3x% success rate. I have no idea where you are getting this claim that he has satisfied all of his patients and their families! Have you done ANY research on this man apart from the documentary?

Still, I don't care about all of that. Thousands more people believe homeopathy and faith healing can cure cancer. Does that make it true? Where is the evidence?! That's my question. Anecdotal testimony is not compelling and I fail to see why you would consider it compelling.

So why does it matter to the government what they are doing? If there are no damages here, it must be making invested interests (say: corporations) upset.

Damages are being done if Burzynski can't show that his treatment works! Burzynski charges a small fortune for his treatment and if it turns out to be nothing more than another placebo, his patients will have been ripped off and placed in serious danger. The families of those that died will deserve reparations. Worse than that, Burzynski's treatment encourages parents who would otherwise listen to their doctors to reject the mainstream treatments, which could lead to unnecessary death if the treatment doesn't work. As for the corporations, I have no concern for them either. I care about what the science says. I care about what is true.

I’d like to use the Zeitgeist movement to increase personal freedom. To have a medical doctor paint my toes blue if I so choose and not have to validate that to any institution if we are both satisfied. That’s freedom. I don’t see the point in arguing private interactions with happy customers when there is so many societal level ills and atrocities existing that involve poverty that affects billions

The Zeitgeist Movement is here to promote the Resource Based Economy, an economic model that will increase personal freedom, hypothetically. However, the movement and the Resource Based Economy depend on science and, by extension, everything on which science depends (i.e. peer review, evidence, critical thinking). We must respect the science and hold it as our imperfect, but necessary, tool to become more free. If you want to have a doctor paint your toes, fine. But I want the scientists toiling endlessly on what medical treatments work so that I can make a smart decision in the hour it is necessary. You, on the other hand, just want to guess when it matters most because you just don't like them.

Your arguments are mainstream, assuming we have pure science amidst capitalism, and the vigor with which you argue them is insulting and cannot serve to advance the local chapters in Louisiana. Let me finish by saying your chapter meetings seem more like a test than a collaboration and discussion. You always seem to have the “right” answer in mind. Can’t be good for retention. You will never have all the answers. So why not allow a different opinion if you don’t have time to research it? Wait, better yet, have a definitive scientific standpoint from which both parties may engage.

My arguments reflect many hours of research over the books, journals, presentations, and materials. I will agree that I make an honest effort to reflect mainstream science in my views because mainstream science is what makes this movement possible by providing the solutions that make the ideas plausible. As such, my respect for the process is significant and I encourage everyone to have such respect. You reject that process because it isn't "pure." What do you use to make your decisions if you reject the whole of science? I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that you're just another promoter of "ad hoc" education, the fallacious alternative to proper education for the science denialist.

It is clear that you universally and wholy reject any and all interactions with anything resembling an institution. You chastise science itself, painting it with the same broad brush that you paint big pharma or any other entity. Academia is not a corporation. It's not a government agency. It's not a country or an organization. While individual players within it may be infected with profit motive, such is not the case for the whole of the process. And even if this was the case, there is NO alternative to trusting the science that won't lead us to utter ruin.

If you believe this dedication is insulting and cannot serve the chapters of a movement that promotes the application of the scientific method for social concern, then you are in desperate need of more time over the books yourself. And if you want to be heard, show up to the meetings and be heard. No one is stopping you, especially not me.

Sources:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Numbers
  2. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099%2809%2970316-0/fulltext
  3. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/stanislaw-burzynski-bad-medicine-a-bad-movie/

This blog is an editorial and contains only the opinions of the author. The author claims no expertise on most topics of discussion and this blog is not to be cited as an alternative for properly vetted journalism or scientific sources.

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