AIDS

February 26, 2010 at 7:43 pm (By Realpc) ()

In the 1980s, an AIDS diagnosis meant death within one or two years. But after HIV was discovered and antiretroviral drugs were developed, AIDS mortality dramatically decreased. AZT was the first antiretroviral, and it was approved as the standard AIDS treatment, after effectiveness was demonstrated in placebo-controlled trials. Subsequent drugs, often used in combination, were shown to be even more effective than AZT (the newer drugs were compared against AZT, not placebo, since AZT had already been proven effective).

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has been the standard AIDS treatment for the past 10 years, and now AIDS patients can expect to live almost normal lives.

So things are going quite well with respect to AIDS, aren’t they? Well yes, if you believe the mainstream AIDS propaganda. But I have found what appear to be some weird problems with the mainstream reasoning.

For example: Early in the AIDS epidemic, patients who were diagnosed were very sick. Later on, after the discovery of HIV, diagnoses could be made earlier. And the diagnostic criteria were expanded, so that AIDS patients were diagnosed who were not as likely to die within a year or two. In fact, a patient with a positive HIV test might remain free of AIDS symptoms for 10 years or more.

So did the dramatic decrease in AIDS mortality result from the antiretroviral drugs, or from the earlier and expanded diagnoses of AIDS? Or both?

The AIDs Truth website claims that AZT was shown, in controlled experimental studies, to prolong life and improve health, and it cites a meta-analysis. But the meta-analyss says that, although AZT was effective in studies lasting less than 3 years, it had NO effect in studies lasting 3 years or more. AIDS Truth leaves that part out.

And AIDS Truth says that newer drugs, and combinations of drugs, were shown to be even more effective than AZT. But AZT was not effective, except in short term studies.

So what is really going on? I don’t know. I do know that people who are pro-mainstream medicine can get very angry at anyone who questions the current theories and treatments. Anyone who questions or wonders is called a “denier.”

About the drugs: Even mainstream AIDS researchers acknowledge that antiretroviral drugs are toxic and can cause heart disease, cancer, liver failure, kidney failure, premature aging, etc., etc. But if the drugs save lives, it’s better to suffer from “side effects” than to die.

And furthermore, the AIDS mainstream claims that these “side effects” are only occurring because AIDS patients are now surviving much longer, thanks to the drugs. Cancer, heart disease, etc., are a sign of the effectiveness of the drugs, not of their toxicity.

And there is confusion about which symptoms and diseases are caused by AIDS and which are caused by the treatments. No one really seems to know.

So what is true? Are the drugs prolonging lives and improving health, or are they killing and disabling and destroying health? Or both? I don’t know.

The very foundation of the current theories and treatments appears shaky. And the justifications are often baffling. HAART has been used for 10 years, and its proponents say it has extended the lives of AIDS patients by 45 years. How can they know that, if no one has taken the drugs more than 10 years?

They extrapolate based on 5-year survival. But 5-year survival for AIDS patients has been increasing because of earlier diagnosis, expanded diagnostic criteria, and more HIV testing. And maybe also because of HAART. But maybe not. Probably not, in my opinion.

Based on all the information I have been able to find so far — and it’s mostly confusing, confused, and possibly deceptive — I think HAART is lethal, and that its benefits are mostly illusory. I don’t know if HIV causes AIDS, but I think maybe it doesn’t. Or maybe it does, but maybe there are other complicating factors involved.

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30 Comments

  1. Randy said,

    The ignorance displayed here is breathtaking.

  2. realpc920 said,

    “The ignorance displayed here is breathtaking.”

    Well that is a very typical sort of response. But, of course, you don’t find any errors in what I said.

    By the way, the automatically generated link goes to a conspiracy theorist’s web site. I have never believed in any conspiracy theory, on any subject, and I don’t think there is an AIDS conspiracy.

    I think there is a lot of confusion, and desperation, involved. Doctors want to believe there is hope for their AIDS patients, and that there are good treatments available. Researchers want to believe they are on the right track.

    I have read whatever I could find on both sides,a nd I do not agree with the absolutists on either side. I do not have any fixed opinion on the subject. What I am expressing here is doubt and skepticism.

    The commenter is obviously one of those who thinks that when mainstream science arrives at a consensus, anyone who questions that consensus must be ignorant, or a crazed conspiracy theorist. But chances are he has not bothered to educated himself on the subject, and merely trusts the experts.

  3. Randy said,

    Wrong again.

  4. PatHMV said,

    Randy, if real is that far wrong, surely you could easily find a few citations to show just how mistaken she is, rather than just insulting her with no evidence to back up your position.

  5. realpc920 said,

    I knew that my post on AIDS might inspire angry responses. The most common strategy of mainstream believers is to call anyone who expresses doubt “ignorant.” And sure enough, the first comment did just as predicted. But I am not interested in getting into an insult war here, so anyone who wants to call me ignorant can go right ahead. If my ignorance takes your breath away, I am sorry — that was not my intention. My intention is to communicate and exchange ideas and facts.

    The clinical trials leading to the approval of AZT did not show any long-term benefit — at least according to the information I was able to find. Later research compared newer drugs against AZT, not against placebo, because it would be unethical to withhold an approved treatment.

    Other research demonstrating the benefits of HAART has been correlational, not experimental. In other words, there is no untreated control to compare against. And I explained the problem with the correlational research — AIDS mortality dropped at least partly because of increased and expanded diagnosis, not necessarily because of HAART.

    And success in AIDS treatment is determined by measuring signs of HIV level and CD4 cell levels. But are these really clear and simple measures of an AIDS patient’s health status?

    In short, there are some serious problems, and the non-expert public is justified in questioning the mainstream consensus.

  6. PatHMV said,

    Real, could you provide some links to the studies on which you rely?

  7. wj said,

    While there are a lot more people diagnosed earlier, one would expect that there would still be some who were not diagnosed until their viral loads were equivalent to those seen early on. If so, it ought to be possible to strip out the data from those individuals and do a valid comparative study. At which point, we can see how useful the new drugs (or even the old drugs) really are.

    Does anyone know if such an analysis has been on the existing data?

  8. Donna B. said,

    realpc — a double-blind test that includes untreated patients would not be ethical where HIV is concerned since there is evidence that anti-retroviral drugs DO decrease measurable indications of infection.

    Success in the treatment of HIV infection is determined by CD4 levels. Success in AIDS treatment it not the same thing because so many who are HIV positive don’t have AIDS. You have conflated two different things in order to create a strawman to knock down.

    As far as your ‘war’ against mainstream medicine goes, why not wage it against the areas where it would make sense? The development of HAART is, frankly, one of the successes. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect (no treatment of anything is) and it doesn’t mean research has ended.

    I have no idea why, but you seem to get some kind of perverse satisfaction from disagreement with almost anybody… to the point where you have manufactured disagreement when some agreed with you!

    You have more “set-in-stone” preconceptions about medicine and science than anyone I’ve ever tried to communicate with. Past experiences in trying to ask questions and get clarification from you when I thought you had a valid point have led me to believe that you are not serious or truthful when you write:

    “My intention is to communicate and exchange ideas and facts.”

    (Note to self: You fool, you bit again!)

  9. realpc920 said,

    Donna,

    You know what — I am not going to make an effort to communicate with you. You did not read what I wrote — I specifically said comparisons between HAART and no treatment were not made, for ethical reasons. Well just because it’s “ethical” to treat patients with unproven drugs, does not mean it’s such a great idea! I am trying to get at the underlying realities.

    And I really don’t give a hoot if you think my investigative reporting ventures are “perverse” or not. Think whatever you like. I am posting here for people who have some scientific curiosity and/or who care about whether people with positive HIV tests (including children) might be suffering some damage.

    If you want to stay on the mainstream bandwagon, I won’t make the slightest effort to dissuade you. Because every time I post anything here you reflexively argue against it, usually without making an effort to understand what I’m saying.

    As I said, I am not interested in insult contests of any kind. If someone wants to call me ignorant, or perverse, or any other insults you can think of, I will not respond likewise.

    If anyone is interested in a rational debate, then i will respond. If anyone disagrees with anything I said, then I would be happy to hear their reasons. My concern is with rationality and with real science.

  10. realpc920 said,

    ” could you provide some links to the studies on which you rely?”

    For example, AIDS Truth http://www.aidstruth.org/science/arvs says:

    “Using one antiretroviral reduced progression to AIDS or death by 30% against placebo.

    Using two antiretrovirals reduced progression to AIDS or death by 40% against one antiretroviral

    Using three antiretrovirals reduced progression to AIDS or death by 40% against two antiretrovirals”

    And it cites this http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/324/7340/757, which says:

    “Main outcomes
    Monotherapy compared with placebo 
Fifteen trials compared monotherapy with placebo. 26 32-34 36-39 41-45 50 51 Compared with placebo, zidovudine significantly reduced disease progression or death (odds ratio 0.7, 95% confidence interval 0.6 to 0.8), although there was substantial heterogeneity (fig 2). Zidovudine also resulted in an improvement in CD4 count of 47 cells per µl (29 to 65) with no important heterogeneity (fig 3) and a viral load reduction of 0.56 log copies per ml (0.71 to 0.41) with some unexplained heterogeneity (fig 4). The heterogeneity present in the clinical outcome data (range of odds ratio 0.1-1.1, fig 2) was in part explained by the variable duration of the trials: as the trials increased in length zidovudine had a smaller relative effect. At 152 weeks (about three years), as in the Concorde trial,42 the beneficial effect of zidovudine was virtually eliminated (fig 5).”

    I think AIDS Truth is deceptive, because they don’t bother to mention that AZT was only shown effective in studies lasting less than 3 years.

    This is just one example of how confusing this whole subject is.

  11. realpc920 said,

    “so many who are HIV positive don’t have AIDS”

    I think that was one of my points, wasn’t it? But this is too confusing a subject to think about when emotions reach hysterical levels. I want to think about this calmly and objectively, and hopefully someone else will also.

  12. Randy said,

    Pat, I recommend Donna’s response.

  13. Donna B. said,

    “so many who are HIV positive don’t have AIDS”

    That being a point proves that HAART is ineffective in HIV infection and thus brings up the possibility that HIV does not cause (or is not a necessary component) of AIDS?

    OK, you’ve given background about your assertions on the research. I don’t think anyone disagreed with your factual statements about how/when the research was done, but thanks for providing those links anyway.

    But, wouldn’t it be more honest to put up some links that better explain the who’s, what’s, and why’s behind the “denialist” thinking that’s been percolating for 20+ years now? Or would you prefer it appear in this forum that the concerns you write about are something you just came up with all by yourself after reading Aids Truth?

    It seems almost an afterthought… after so many paragraphs devoted to saying HAART treatment may be worse than what it is supposed to treat, but this sentence says a lot about where you are coming from:

    “I don’t know if HIV causes AIDS, but I think maybe it doesn’t.”

    If HIV does not cause AIDS, then treating an HIV infection would be superfluous at best, and harmful if the treatment had side effects (which all treatments do).

    The hedge: “Or maybe it does, but maybe there are other complicating factors involved.” is disingenuous.

    While you may have a point about research being touted to be more meaningful than it actually is — especially in the watered down mass media version — that’s true about research in every scientific area. Every single one.

    And you also have a point about the changing definitions and expansion of diagnostic criteria of AIDS. But again, that sort of thing is a problem for many other diseases/diagnoses. It’s not limited to AIDS.

    So, while the very legitimate and general points you make are good and deserve attention — why pick on AIDS and HAART?

    Why don’t you just go ahead and cite Duesberg, et al?
    http://www.virusmyth.com/aids/whistleblowers.htm

  14. realpc920 said,

    [So, while the very legitimate and general points you make are good and deserve attention — why pick on AIDS and HAART?]

    Thank you Donna, I am glad you can at least acknowledge that something confusing is going on. I pick on AIDS and HAART because I think it’s important. There are other diseases, such as some types of cancer, where the confusion is similar. Earlier diagnosis means increased 5-year survival — automatically, even if the treatment does nothing. This has fooled a lot of people, even MDs.

    [The hedge: “Or maybe it does, but maybe there are other complicating factors involved.” is disingenuous.]

    What’s wrong with admitting I don’t know something? I think that’s less disingenuous than pretending to know.

    [But, wouldn’t it be more honest to put up some links that better explain the who’s, what’s, and why’s behind the “denialist” thinking that’s been percolating for 20+ years now?]

    I don’t agree with the “denialists.” I said I think both absolutist positions are probably partly wrong.

  15. Donna B. said,

    real – If science isn’t confusing at some point, it’s probably being done wrong on some level. But there are those who have an ulterior motive to confuse it sometimes — the most obvious current example is climate science and its adulteration by politics.

    AIDS research certainly has its politically motivated problems too, but HAART isn’t really one of them. The question of the cause of AIDS started out as a genuine scientific disagreement. Now that’s morphed politically into what is the definition of AIDS, ie, the diagnostic criteria (which actually isn’t a measure of health for any disease).

    I really don’t know of anyone who thinks HAART is the cure for AIDS or who says it’s good enough, we can stop looking for anything better. What the HIV infection as a primary cause or necessary agent for the development of AIDS theory has done is lead to the only treatments that show any effectiveness. So far. I expect better things to come — hopefully a vaccine.

    It’s been several years since I delved very deep into the “controversy” or denialist arguments, and some of them have always had some merit — but there was never a hypothesis proposed that answered the questions about AIDS as well as HIV as a cause.

    Someday — because people are still researching — we may find a more comprehensive answer.

    Whether you intend to or not, your communications come across as “absolutist” and one reason for that is that you tend to scoff at any and all disagreement with a “of course, I knew everyone would react that way” whine. That’s why your “hedge” seems disingenuous. You have a history here. But I must acknowledge that you are recently more open to disagreement. I thank you for that, and acknowledge that I might be reacting to the “old” realpc… and not to the one who is posting today. I apologize for that.

    What we don’t know about each other is our histories outside this cozy, mostly warm space. I haven’t written a lot online about why I spent days in a medical school library in the early ’80s educating myself about the brain or why I still have that interest… and the ways it has expanded.

    I haven’t written about why I spent similar time, online and off in the 90s educating myself about genetic diseases and the immune system in relation to graft v host problems. Nor have I written about why suddenly, learning about the immune system is again so important in my life.

    When you accuse me of being an apologist for “mainstream” medicine, I have to laugh, but it’s also highly offensive. What do I have to do… send you testimonials from my doctors and those of my son, my daughters, my husband, my brother, my sister, and my father, to prove to you what a pain in the ass I am about questioning them about their diagnoses and suggested treatments?

    Some members of my family have voluntarily taken part in research and subjected themselves to experimental treatments. Some of us, long ago, unwittingly were subjects of what should have been termed experiments… as in the expansion of treatments of a morbid disease into the realm of prevention of such. I think that might be at least a partial fit with your concerns about HAART.

    Though I think you might brand me as a materialist for saying so — I think the physical (or material) makeup of our brains allows us to be spiritual. Whether that ability is the result of a God-given or the result of the physical advantage-given (or something else not yet thought of) to those creatures who “connected” in an as yet humanly undiscovered way is actually irrelevant. If God gave it to us, did he/she/it command we not explore the mechanism by which it is possible?

    One of the reasons I think that our brains control spirituality is either the lack of it in certain individuals and the seeming existence of it in different planes in others. Surely I am not the only person here who has met someone he/she just simply could not connect with in any way.

    And… that may be the problem with realpc and myself. With liberals and conservatives, with the religious and PZ Myers. (although one certainly does not have to be religious to find Myers repulsive).

    Rarely do we find someone like Amba, who is able to communicate on the different planes of existence with a sympathetic understanding of both… no, multiples of them. Even Amba cannot understand and communicate on all of them. She’s much better at it than most of us. And that’s why she’s able to bring us misfits (can you truthfully say we’re not??) together. At times. On certain subjects. Maybe :-)

  16. realpc said,

    “One of the reasons I think that our brains control spirituality is either the lack of it in certain individuals and the seeming existence of it in different planes in others. ”

    I agree that the brain controls spirituality. I don’t think the brain IS the self, but the self needs to use the brain to be here in this world. Just like the self needs to use the body. The brain is part of the body. The brain allows us to focus on this level of reality — this is my opinion anyway, which comes from alternative science. Some people’s brains are very focused on THIS world and don’t allow much to enter from other planes. My guess is those people are not usually poets, and they definitely are not mystics.

    Anyway Donna, I remember you talking about serious health problems, I think with your son, and that explains why you educated yourself about health and questioned the doctors. I don’t deny that you are knowledgeable about and interested in the subject of health.

    My interest in health also came from learning how to heal myself, partly, but also because of my interest in alternative science and alternative medicine. My complaints about HAART are similar to my complaints about cancer treatments. I think both have gone down the wrong track and there will not be progress unless or until they realize it.

    The infectious disease model is well loved in modern medicine because it has led to some spectacular successes. Polio and smallpox, for example, are prevented by vaccines, and bacterial infections are cured by antibiotics. Before vaccines and antibiotics anyone could die at any time — especially the very young and the very old.

    The infectious disease model has been so successful, medical researchers try to use it whenever possible. They use the infectious disease model for cancer — the idea is that cancer cells are pathogens, something like viruses or bacteria, and treatment should focus on killing the pathogens.

    So cancer treatment is all about removing and killing cancer cells with surgery, radiation and toxic chemicals. For some types of cancer this might work, but for many types it does not. But medical scientists will not let go of the infectious disease model for cancer.

    I think that at least some cancer is a disorder of the immune system. We all get cancer cells all the time but our immune systems destroy or control them. That is the perspective of alternative medicine.

    I don’t think alternative medicine has any cure for cancer either. But I do think they have a better model, which could lead to better treatments, maybe someday. The mainstream model is at least partly wrong, in my opinion.

    The same thing has happened with AIDS, it seems to me. The infectious disease model was preferred because of its success in other areas (but not in cancer). Because HIV was often found in AIDS patients, the conclusion was drawn that HIV causes AIDS. The treatment would involve anti-viral chemicals and vaccines.

    AZT had been developed to fight cancer, and they decided to use it for AIDS. The philosophy is the same — kill the pathogens.

    The desire to conquer AIDs was intense, the infectious disease model was popular, so they were off to the races. And just as with cancer, they will not re-consider.

    Cancer treatments can seem to work when they don’t, and the same could be true of HAART. Chemotherapy for cancer is meant to poison cancer cells before it poisons normal cells — so it can prolong life somewhat, even if it does nothing to cure the actual disease.

    (I think there may be some forms of cancer that can actually be cured in this way, such as childhood leukemia, but most types probably cannot).

    There are also illusions of success in cancer treatment — earlier diagnosis means increased 5-year survival, and it also means over-diagnosis (diagnosis of cancer that would have been contained or destroyed by the immune system anyway).

    I think the situation is similar with AIDS and HAART. The infectious disease model has been incorrectly applied, and a treatment aimed at killing pathogens gives an illusion of success. But the model is (I think) wrong, and as long as this model is used the treatments will not improve.

    Cancer researchers work at developing new cancer-killing chemicals that prolong life more than the older chemicals. There is an illusion of progress, so they continue in the same direction.

    But even mainstream medicine sometimes admits that cancer treatments have not improved very much. We do not see the same kind of admission about AIDS treatment. We only see the kind of optimism you express — the treatments will continue improving, and maybe there will be a vaccine.

    My opinion is that the model is wrong, for most types of cancer and AIDS, and therefore real progress will not be made. Not without a complete change in direction.

    I am not saying I know the cause of AIDS or how it should be treated. I am saying that my investigations into both cancer and AIDS have convinced me the infectious disease model model is not appropriate for these diseases. Or maybe the infectious disease model fits partially, but not completely.

    I am not claiming to have any great answers. I am expressing skepticism about the current approach, and I think that as long as they insist on sticking with the same approach answers will not be found. And they will stick with the current approach as long as there is an illusion of success, and as long as people have great faith in mainstream medicine.

  17. Donna B. said,

    The self cannot be observed physically in a way that science can study it — though some are looking for a way to do that — so its study is still in realm of philosophy for now. And one of the reasons for that is the chicken/egg question you hint at above: if the self merely uses the body and brain, then it follows that the self exists separately. If the body/brain produces the self, then self dies when the body/brain does.

    The idea that the self exists separate from the body/brain, ie merely inhabiting them, is an idea that allows religions to look at death as impermanent. That view has been used, twisted, corrupted way too often to justify killing or dying in the name of religion. It’s been corrupted further by some who feel that not every human has a self, therefore not worthy of any number of considerations.

    The idea that the brain/body creates a self — say, perhaps “self” is whole taken together — how does that work?

    Does the self exhibit itself through personality? If the self can be unhealthy, can it be treated? The personality changes that often occur after a brain injury certainly point to the brain/body creating the self. If the self is manifested through personality, that is.

    As a practical matter, the subject is not, IMHO, worth spending research dollars on — especially public research $$. I can’t see where scientifically knowing one way or the other is going to change much of anything.

    ——-
    I still think you’ve built a strawman model of something and call it “mainstream” medicine for the purpose of knocking it down.

    And I admit to being an optimistic person most of the time, but certainly not a blind optimist. I don’t have any investment (personal or otherwise) in seeing one ‘cure’ or ‘treatment’ or ‘model’ as inherently better than another.

    Part of the “mainstream” medicine strawman that I see you resisting is saying that it relies solely on the infectious disease model. That’s doubly puzzling when you say that some cancers are a disorder of the immune system. The immune system is the heart of the infectious disease model!!

    Some bacteria in some places in the body can’t be fought off by a healthy immune system, so we use antibiotics to help — not replace — the immune system. Vaccines are — so far — the ultimate in helping our immune systems by “training” them, so to speak. Vaccination can be effective against viruses and bacteria.

    Immunotherapy is now the “gold standard” treatment for some cancers. That didn’t come about because “mainstream” medicine always goes for surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

    The more we learn about genetics, the more customized treatments will become. It’s already moving in that direction. The more we learn about our immune system, the better we will be able to prevent some diseases and some syndromes.

    And I think this concept of syndrome rather than disease needs a lot of study. A disease — say pneumonia — that can be traced to a specific pathogen and treated with an antibiotic is really rather simple. There’s a definite causative link.

    A syndrome cannot be defined by such a simple lab test or culture. And AIDS is a syndrome — a speculative definition. It’s similar to metabolic syndrome.

    And climate change. :-)

    The difference between AID Syndrome and metabolic syndrome is the possibility of an infectious agent that makes one highly susceptible to AIDS. There is not (yet) such a suspect in metabolic syndrome — the research focus there is more on genetics. This has not eliminated research into the possibility that an immune system/infectious agent link is out of the question.

    I also think there is a lot of confusion about what constitutes a treatment or a cure. It is my understanding that much radiation to cancer patients is a palliative treatment — radiation reduces the bulk of a tumor, easing painful symptoms. It’s not offered as a cure any more than morphine is. Surgery sometimes (but less often) is done for the same reason.

    Because I have not had a close relationship to anyone with AIDS, I’ve not given it the thought and research that I have to brain injury, cancer, and infectious agents. Brain cancer is a really interesting special case because of the blood/brain barrier. But then again, so is the gut. The gut seems to have a “brain” of its own and that is one area of research that is just beginning to be really interesting.

    As for the idea that “mainstream” medicine always defers to the infectious disease model, I submit H. Pylori as a defense.

    And… finally, the definition I use for “alternative medicine” is that it has not yet been proven to be effective. Your definition may vary.

  18. realpc said,

    “As a practical matter, the subject is not, IMHO, worth spending research dollars on — especially public research $$. I can’t see where scientifically knowing one way or the other is going to change much of anything.”

    You obviously never read anything about “alternative” science. “Alternative” doesn’t mean not proven — it comes from a different perspective and is not reductionist or materialist. You never read anything by Sheldrake or any other alternative scientist, obviously. You are 100% immersed in mainstream thinking.

    [I still think you’ve built a strawman model of something and call it “mainstream” medicine for the purpose of knocking it down.]

    No, the problem is you don’t know anything about any other approach besides mainstream. There are major differences between mainstream and non-mainstream science and medicine, but you know nothing about them. This is not a strawman, this is a serious controversy. One example is the mainstream’s complete and absolute denial of the existence of “life energy.”

    “Part of the “mainstream” medicine strawman that I see you resisting is saying that it relies solely on the infectious disease model. That’s doubly puzzling when you say that some cancers are a disorder of the immune system. The immune system is the heart of the infectious disease model!!”

    No Donna, you’re so good at misreading what I write. If a type of cancer is a disorder of the immune system, then killing the cancer cells as if they were pathogens will not result in a cure. That is the infectious disease model — kill the “bugs.”

    “Immunotherapy is now the “gold standard” treatment for some cancers. That didn’t come about because “mainstream” medicine always goes for surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.”

    Most of the time they use surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. You know that as well as I do.

    “The more we learn about genetics, the more customized treatments will become. It’s already moving in that direction. The more we learn about our immune system, the better we will be able to prevent some diseases and some syndromes.”

    You have faith in mainstream reductionist science to solve all problems. Probably because you know nothing of any alternative philosophies. The more we learn about genetics, the more confusing it becomes. Where are those customized treatments that actually work?

    “The difference between AID Syndrome and metabolic syndrome is the possibility of an infectious agent that makes one highly susceptible to AIDS. There is not (yet) such a suspect in metabolic syndrome — the research focus there is more on genetics. This has not eliminated research into the possibility that an immune system/infectious agent link is out of the question.”

    Donna, all you’re doing is speculating and rambling, and not even making sense. AIDS and metabolic syndrome are not even similar.

    “Because I have not had a close relationship to anyone with AIDS, I’ve not given it the thought and research …”

    Well then why argue with me about something you have barely thought about? I don’t know anyone with AIDS, but I am interested for scientific reasons.

    “As for the idea that “mainstream” medicine always defers to the infectious disease model, I submit H. Pylori as a defense.”

    When did I saw ALWAYS??? I said they prefer to use the infectious disease model whenever they think it fits, even when it actually does not fit.

    “And… finally, the definition I use for “alternative medicine” is that it has not yet been proven to be effective. Your definition may vary.”

    Yes my definition certainly does vary. If you knew anything at all about alternative medicine or alternative science you wouldn’t say that.

  19. Donna B. said,

    The expenditure of public research $$ is necessarily constricted by the need for it to result in a public good. There is no other legal rationalization for it to occur. While I’m quite open to a percentage of this money being spent on knowledge for the sake of knowledge, that really isn’t justified beyond a small amount.

    That’s the ONLY reason I said I didn’t think identifying the nature of the “self” is worthy of public funding. The question is, at this point, still philosophical and too closely tied with religion. Knowing that answer doesn’t offer any practical value.

    That’s political, not a value judgment on the various attributes of materialistic or any other type of inquiry.

    I totally mistyped misstated my definition of “alternative medicine”. Fast typing, slow thinking, numerous interruptions and an aversion to proofreading will do that sometimes. What I meant to convey is that “alternative medicine” is that which has been proven NOT effective.

    I have read quite a bit of the material on Sheldrake’s website, though I’ve never read any of his books. I found nothing there in his own words that convinced me that his theories are much more in depth than a misunderstanding of randomness, causation, and correlation. But especially randomness… he simply doesn’t get it or has decided to ignore it.

    As for the current fad of defining syndromes as clusters of diseases and then trying to designate a cause for the syndrome… that’s exactly what has led to the controversy of whether HIV causes AIDS. It’s something that needs to be looked at and used carefully. In some ways, it suffers the same problem Sheldrake has in misinterpreting randomness and correlations and thinking it means something it doesn’t.

    Furthermore, rejecting Sheldrake’s conclusions does not mean that his observations are necessarily wrong. But everything I’ve read on his website is a rehashing of old philosophical questions using new terms, but not offering new insights or knowledge. Frankly, his descriptions of his ideas seem simplistic and somewhat juvenile. He’s certainly not what I would call a deep thinker as so many of the old philosophers were. But he still rates as a much deeper thinker than some you’d characterize as on the other side… such as PZ Myers.

    If he were a deep thinker and truly curious, he’d be all over the NYTimes article today saying that culture influences evolutionary genetics. But I’d put $5 up that says neither you nor Sheldrake will see a connection between what they are saying and the idea of a collective consciousness.

    ————-
    I never said I didn’t give AIDS a lot of thought, but as I noted in an earlier comment, I haven’t delved into it several years. What I said in no way denotes having barely thought about it.

    ————————-
    To bring this all to an end, I’ll pretend Sheldrake has a point about morphic resonance, and that from all indications, you and I exist in different planes with force shields impenetrable by each other’s morphs. In other words, you’ve already made up your mind that I’ve already made up mine.

  20. realpc said,

    [What I meant to convey is that “alternative medicine” is that which has been proven NOT effective.]

    That’s completely wrong. It is not the correct the definition, and it’s wrong in every way.

    [ I found nothing there in his own words that convinced me that his theories are much more in depth than a misunderstanding of randomness, causation, and correlation. But especially randomness… he simply doesn’t get it or has decided to ignore it.]

    You have no idea what Sheldrake thinks about anything.

    [ everything I’ve read on his website is a rehashing of old philosophical questions using new terms, but not offering new insights or knowledge. ]

    Sheldrake didn’t claim to invent new ideas, he integrated and explained some old ideas and explained why they should not have been discarded. Is every old idea bad and every new idea good?

    [Frankly, his descriptions of his ideas seem simplistic and somewhat juvenile. He’s certainly not what I would call a deep thinker as so many of the old philosophers were. ]

    Well Donna you have proven to everyone just how smart you are. You are so much smarter than Sheldrake you didn’t even have to read his books to know all about his ideas.

    [If he were a deep thinker and truly curious, he’d be all over the NYTimes article today saying that culture influences evolutionary genetics.]

    I find it impossible to know what you are talking about most of the time. Maybe because you don’t know what you’re talking about?

    [I never said I didn’t give AIDS a lot of thought, but as I noted in an earlier comment, I haven’t delved into it several years. What I said in no way denotes having barely thought about it.]

    Right Donna, you have thought about everything and you understand everything and there is no reason for you to learn anything.

  21. Randy said,

    Donna: That went about as well as could be expected, I think.

  22. realpc said,

    And your debating techniques were very effective also, Randy.

  23. Donna B. said,

    If a treatment has been proven to work, why would someone call it “alternative”? Besides, I never said it was the “correct” definition, I said it was MINE.

    There are lots of bad ideas out there, old, new, and recycled. I’m a conservative and I find it hilarious that you think I easily discard old ideas that have been useful. Sheldrake seems to have taken old (not necessarily discarded) ideas, watered them down, mixed them up a bit to try to make them sound more “scientific”, and presented them in a simplistic, nonsensical manner.

    If Sheldrake’s own words on his own quite extensive website don’t give some indication of what he thinks, what would? Where’s the evidence that what he says his books contain is wrong?

    I’m not as smart as most commenters here and definitely not any smarter. But I do possess a finely tuned, up to date, and expensive (in terms of experience) bullshit detector. It calculates Sheldrake to be a “steaming pile” and I’m sorry that you refuse to open your eyes and take your fingers out of your ears long enough to even consider whether that might be true or not.

    A lot of what you might characterize as “mainstream” science gets the same reading. Though I know you’ll never believe it (it would bust a paradigm for you, I think) I am not wedded to any one “idea” of what science should or should not be.

    You have closed your mind so tightly that you can’t bother to go to the NYTimes and read an article on culture and evolution and brush it off by pretending not to understand what I write? I don’t think you are stupid — but I do think you tend to be willfully ignorant about anything other than what you determine to be “alternative” science.

    You seem to have fallen psychological hook, intellectual line, and emotional sinker for Sheldrake. Any discussion where someone disagrees with you or Sheldrake is taken as personal attack — no matter how it’s put. As I’ve noted before, even agreeing with you and asking for clarification gets taken as a personal attack.

    I suspect you have this problem in communication with more people than just me. What should be frightening to you is that in the 20+ years I’ve been communicating online, I’ve never encountered anyone as emotionally invested in an idea as you seem to be about alternative science/medicine.

    If you’re not that emotionally invested, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your communication style. If you truly are that emotionally invested, you have my sympathy. If this is just an “internet persona” you’re playing around with… have fun.

    I have no idea where you’re coming from or why, but do know that it’s not healthy for me to discuss anything with you. I doubt it’s enlightening for anyone else. And I’m going to try my best to ignore your posts and comments from now on.

  24. realpc said,

    “Sheldrake seems to have taken old (not necessarily discarded) ideas, watered them down, mixed them up a bit to try to make them sound more “scientific”, and presented them in a simplistic, nonsensical manner.”

    You didn’t read his books!

    And I read a lot of alternative science, all my life. Sheldrake is just one example. His ideas fit with everything else I have learned about holistic science.

    [It calculates Sheldrake to be a “steaming pile”]

    That is utterly immature and ridiculous, especially considering you didn’t read any of his books. A New Science of Life explains his ideas. You didn’t read it, so don’t call it bs.

    “I do think you tend to be willfully ignorant about anything other than what you determine to be “alternative” science.”

    You have no idea what you’re talking about. I am interested in science in general. I disagree with the philosophy of materialism, which should not be confused with science.

    “You seem to have fallen psychological hook, intellectual line, and emotional sinker for Sheldrake.”

    Because I made the mistake of mentioning his name as one example? And I do wonder why you hate him so much. And why you always seem hysterical.

    “I suspect you have this problem in communication with more people than just me.”

    No. Only if they’re obnoxious and insulting. Which does happen online, especially when arguing with materialist/atheists.

  25. Donna B. said,

    As I’m not known for always doing what’s in my best interest…

    First — there’s that materialist/atheist strawman again. You have decided I’m something for which you have no evidence. I’ve decided you’re a bit of a loon based on your writings supporting Sheldrake — and since you mention him as an example, it’s not unreasonable to think that you consider him somehow representative of your thinking.

    Are you trying to tell me that Sheldrake presents ideas in his books that are entirely different from the ideas he presents on his website? Are you accusing him of being dishonest? If the ideas are the same, why should I read his books for more of the same???

    Your repeated “You haven’t read his books” statement is irrational. And where did you get the idea I hated him? I don’t care about him personally in any way at all. I don’t care about authors personally unless I’ve met them and talked with them in some personal way. For you to think I hate him is ridiculous. If I ever met him, I might actually like him and find him entertaining. Why would you think that’s impossible just because I think his ideas are bullshit?

    Sheldrake certainly does not come across as unlikeable. Did you miss my comment on how arrogant and smug Taleb seems to be? I think I probably would dislike him immensely in person, but I find his ideas very intriguing and he generally offers good evidence for them. However, even at that I don’t accept them all at face value just because he said so.

    ———
    If the philosophy of materialism should not be confused with science, why do you continue to attack science because it’s materialistic? And then you call me hysterical? Are you anti-feminist too? (and no, I don’t expect you to get the joke.)

  26. realpc said,

    Donna,

    You certainly are hysterical. The reason for my post was to calmly describe what I think is wrong with the current AIDS treatments. It had nothing to do with Sheldrake, who was mentioned in passing for some reason.

    I don’t attack science. I disagree with some scientists. Scientists are supposed to feel free to disagree with each other. Science is not a cult or religion, supposedly.

    You never found anything wrong with my criticisms of AIDS treatments. You just aren’t very interested in the subject so you posted irrelevant hysterical comments.

    Then you demonstrated how smart you are by calling Sheldrake’s ideas stupid and anyone who agrees with him a loon.

    Your big fear is that there might be something in this world you don’t know about. You have not yet discovered that everyone is ignorant of most things.

  27. Donna B. said,

    One of the things you fail to understand about me is how badly I would like for Sheldrake’s morphic resonance and all his other ideas… and all the ideas of all those who can’t prove their ideas… to actually be right.

    If only homeopathy were truly effective… if only we could cure all ills by a lifestyle change… if only we could cure ourselves by positive thinking… if only vitamins, magnetic pulses, or electrical waves could help us overcome whatever ails us… IF ONLY

  28. realpc920 said,

    Donna, you are arguing against someone else, not me. I don’t think you know what I believe about anything, really. Maybe you are battling some image you have of the typical new age kook, assuming that’s me, and it is not. Instead of thinking calmly you go off like fire works, triggered by certain key words. You see the name Sheldrake, and suddenly you get all these intense emotions because you think he’s one of the leaders of the new age wackos, who believe anything and everything, as long as it isn’t scientific.

    I have seen this kind of crazed reaction before. If I hint that maybe I think some of the alternative science ideas may have validity, they suddenly slap a label on me, and after that they don’t process anything I actually say.

    Oh and then, of course, they do exactly what you just did — exclaim how they so much wish all that superstitious nonsense were true and that tooth fairies would really come in the night and leave them a quarter.

    You are fighting against a figment of your imagination. I am not an atheist, but I am not a member of any religion, but I am also not a new age wacko conspiracy theorist. I am merely someone who looks at more than one side of controversies and rarely goes along with any of the extremes.

    When I see an intense controversy I usually suspect that both sides are partly right and partly wrong.

    My comments often trigger something I can only describe as insanity in you. Obviously you are reacting to something in your past experience, not to me.

    I have one theory which may not be true, it’s just a guess. I am always doubting and questioning authorities and experts, and for some people this is disturbing. They might think I’m arrogant to doubt the opinions of people who spent their lives becoming an expert in the subject. They think it’s disrespectful. I do respect authority, but I do not want authorities to think for me.

    And when I question mainstream science or medicine they might feel threatened. What if cancer research is not really making progress? What if the supposed success of treatments is partly an illusion?

    It is reassuring to think we have a scientific and medical establishment made up of super-intelligent experts who are working hard to find cures, and making steady progress. It’s scary to think these experts are mere humans, just as prone to error and self-deception as the rest of us.

    But whatever the reason, there is something that triggers you and makes you wild. I don’t understand it really, because Amba can mention Sheldrake or Intelligent Design, for example, without causing you to explode. Amba and I basically agree on a lot of things, in science or politics, but you don’t go after her.

    Whatever it is, it is irrational. My post was about AIDS, and you could not focus on any aspect of my explanation and find something you disagreed with. It was easier to just go off on irrelevant tangents and create random distractions.

    And I have thought hard and worked at gathering information on the subject of AIDS. I disagree with the HIV skeptics, and I disagree with mainstream medicine. I think there is a serous problem and maybe the experts are too close up and focused on details to notice.

  29. realpc920 said,

    “If only homeopathy were truly effective… if only we could cure all ills by a lifestyle change… if only we could cure ourselves by positive thinking… if only vitamins, magnetic pulses, or electrical waves could help us overcome whatever ails us… IF ONLY”

    And by the way, that is a ridiculous caricature of alternative medicine. I don’t use any of those things myself, but even the people who do use them don’t expect them magically cure all diseases.

    It is possible, believe it or not, to suspect that some alternative medicine ideas are partly correct, without having to jump madly to the conclusion that ALL alternative treatments always work all the time.

    There is something very wrong with your logic circuits.

  30. Donna B. said,

    And what is wrong with your logic circuits that you can’t see the similarity between morphic resonance and homeopathy?

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