Note: AIDS dissidence -- disagreement with the medical establishment's theory of AIDS, and in particular disagreement with the theory that HIV is the cause of AIDS -- has been led from the beginning by Peter Duesberg, a UC Berkeley microbiologist. The first important book about AIDS dissidence was Why We Will Never Win the War on AIDS, by Brian J Ellison and Peter Duesberg (Ellison was a doctoral student at Berkeley and Duesberg's assistant). Unfortunately, Ellison and Duesberg had a falling-out over the book, and Duesberg successfully sued -- in an action which left some doubts in my mind about the morality of Duesberg's acts -- to keep further copies from being sold, and in particular to keep it from competing with Duesberg's newer and longer book, Inventing the Aids Virus. Duesberg's book was read out loud to me when I was sick, and I don't remember it very well, except that I liked it, but Ellison's book is an absolute blockbuster. The following essay is based primarily on Ellison's book.
The story of modern 'orthodox' medicine, or 'allopathic' medicine, begins with Pasteur, who in the latter half of the 19th century founded the germ theory of disease by showing that microorganisms were the cause of certain important diseases (eg, rabies), and were at the root of certain natural processes (eg, fermentation). Pasteur's work was brilliant -- so brilliant that it eclipsed all others -- but it was deficient because it caused the sidelining of other approaches to disease -- approaches which are now being rediscovered and classified under such rubrics as 'natural medicine' and '(w)holistic medicine'. But for all its deficiencies it did inspire the great works of the microbe hunters such as Koch (discoverer of the anthrax and tuberculosis bacilli), Erlich (syphilis), Reed (yellow fever) and others.
The downside of the germ theory was to make medical researchers think only in terms of microbes in seeking the cause of diseases, and to seek only antimicrobial agents in looking for cures -- a situation which has been reinforced by the drug companies who stand to make millions every time a new patent medicine emerges from the bowels of their research facilities. For the great contagious epidemics, microbe-hunting was an excellent approach, but by the early part of the 20th century it began to run medicine into the mud. In fact, the microbial mindset was responsible for modern medicine's inability to deal with a number of major diseases, including beriberi (B1 deficiency), pellagra (B3 deficiency), SMON (a disease caused by a Japanese prescription medicine), leprosy (a disease of diet and hygiene), legionnaires' disease (what happens when old men eat, drink and party too much) and -- most important of all -- the fact that properly-prescribed prescription medicines kill over 100,000 people per year in hospitals.
The microbial mindset has been so firmly implanted in the medical community that it has led it to embrace the bizarre theory of 'slow-acting microbes', in which these entities are said to somehow remain 'dormant' in the body and cause disease at some time much later than their original infection, and under conditions in which the microbes are present only in such small amounts -- or even only in disjointed snippets of DNA -- that they would never satisfy the standard criteria for determining whether a microbe causes a disease (the so-called Koch postulates). The first such slow- acting microbe was postulated in syphilis, where it was said to cause 'tertiary syphilis' -- a disease which could involve one or more of numerous parts of the body, but especially the brain (the much-feared neurosyphilis, or tabes dorsalis) -- many years following initial infection. (Because neurosyphilis is now rare-to-nonexistent, it is believed by some of those not infected by the microbial point of view to have been caused by the effect of mercury or arsenic, which was used as a cure for syphilis until penicillin became widely available in the 30s.)
The theory of slow-acting microbes remained dormant for many years, but broke out again in the investigations of Gajdusek, whose work in New Guinea supposedly discovered the disease called kuru, presumed to be spread by cannibalistic brain-eating. Gajdusek was never able to find a microbe responsible for the condition, and others have questioned whether kuru -- or cannibalism among the New Guinea natives -- even existed; but he was able to produce symptoms resembling kuru in monkeys by injecting brain tissue from kuru victims directly into their brains, altho the disease 'took' in only a few of the injectees. This, however, was enuf to make Gajdusek a hero to all the microbe hunters who, following the conquest of polio, had worked themselves out of a job, and for whom no task remained except -- as the Peter Principle describes it -- to rise to their own level of incompetence. Thus Gajdusek was embraced not only for the slow-acting kuru virus which he never discovered, but also the slow-acting Creutzfelt- Jacob virus, which he also never discovered, plus the microbial cause of a whole laundry-list of other nerve and brain disorders, including scrapie, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimers and others, whose cause he only proposed, and certainly never discovered. For his non-work, Gajduesk was awarded the 1976 Nobel prize. (He was also later awarded a jail term for pedophilia.)
Since Gajdusek, the slow-acting microbe hypothesis has morphed into one of the most amazing and bizarre hypotheses of science -- government-sponsored science, that is, which many (including myself) regard not as science, but as grant-seeking. That hypothesis is the prion theory of Stanley Prusiner, who argued that the definition of virus should be changed to incorporate the possibility that the infective agent might actually be a protein normally found in its host, but having a mutant, or chemically- altered form. The results of Prusiner's work -- supposedly explaining scrapie, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or 'mad cow disease', now called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy) and Gajdusek's laundry list of diseases -- was, in Ellison's phrase, 'dismal', but this -- in the context of the well-funded microbe-hunting establishment -- was quite sufficient to win Prusiner a Nobel prize. (Tell me, Martha -- could it have had something to do with the fact that Stan was Jewish? Gee whillikers -- could I be a BIGOT?)
The HIV-causes-AIDS-theory is only the latest slow-virus hypothesis. Maybe when it fails (officially, that is), the next theory of the microbe- hunting establishment will involve prions. And lots of Nobels, no doubt.
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