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AIDS Nonsense From the Far Left

Jim Burroway

March 31st, 2008

We often debunk the junk science emanating from conservatives. Rarely do we mention junk science from the left. It’s not because it doesn’t exist; it’s just rarely anti-gay, so it often escapes our attention.

The Canadian bills itself as “Canada’s new socially progressive and cross-cultural national newspaper.” But from its web site, it’s unclear how often the paper is published, but a scan of its headlines show a strange fascination with conspiracies, especially if they get to use the word “eugenics”:

For one whose looking for weird stuff to debunk, there’s treasure to be had here. Like this one by AIDS conspiracy theorist Alan Cantwell:

HIV-AIDS was created with the use of Gay men as targets for Eugenic experiments suggests U.S. doctor
There is no doubt that AIDS erupted in the U.S. shortly after government-sponsored hepatitis B vaccine experiments (1978-1981) using gay men as guinea pigs. …

The widely accepted theory is that HIV/AIDS originated in a monkey or chimpanzee virus that “jumped species” in Africa. However, it is clear that the first AIDS cases were recorded in gay men in Manhattan in 1979, a few years before the epidemic was first noticed in Africa in 1982. It is now claimed that the human herpes-8 virus (also called the KS virus), discovered in 1994, also originated when a primate herpes virus jumped species in Africa. How two African species-jumping viruses ended up exclusively in gay men in Manhattan beginning in the late 1970s has never been satisfactorily explained.

Those two paragraphs alone have a lot of whoppers which are easily refuted. Let’s break it down:

The first AIDS cases were recorded in gay men in Manhattan in 1979. Not quite. The first known case of AIDS was found in a 1959 blood sample drawn from an unknown man in Leopoldville, Belgian Congo (today’s Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire). This was long before the hepatitis B vaccine experiments that Cantwell is so sure started it all.

The epidemic was first noticed in Africa in 1982. By having this sentence follow the previous one, Cantwell seems to suggest that the African epidemic followed the American one. But just because the African epidemic wasn’t noticed until 1982 doesn’t men that’s when it started. In fact, as early as 1983, researchers had identified an epidemic already well underway. In fact, it was well established in some parts of Zaire in 1976.

How two African species-jumping viruses ended up exclusively in gay men in Manhattan beginning in the late 1970s has never been satisfactorily explained. Here, Cantwell’s referring to the Herpes-8 virus, which we now know causes a form of cancer known as Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). This disease was a very common opportunistic infection among those whose immune system was compromised. Being a transplant patients has been one historic risk factor due to anti-rejection medications which work by lowering the immune system. KS was also common among many ethnic groups in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africans living in Africa.

The virus which causes KS may have been discovered in 1994 but the disease was first described in the medical literature by Dr. Moritz Kaposi back in 1872. Because KS has been quite common in Africa, there have been thousands upon thousands of medical reports on the disease throughout the past century. For evidence, all you have to do is go to the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed database, type in “Kaposi’s sarcoma” and press “GO.” As of this writing, you’ll find references for 10,850 articles in professional journals going back to 1948. That’s quite an achievement since PubMed rarely indexes articles published before 1950.

This is pretty elementary stuff that any dermatologist would know. It takes a lot of ignorant — willful ignorance even — for a retired dermatologist like Alan Cantwell to pretend these facts don’t exist. But like all such conspiracy theorists, he has to either ignore fundamental facts or bend them beyond all recognition for his crackpot theories to survive (like some other theorists we know). Cantwell’s theories are so nutty, he had to start his own publishing house just to get his books into print. Nobody else would touch them. But it just goes to show that the practice of abusing science isn’t confined to one end of the political spectrum.  It’s everywhere.

Hat tip: Stefano



Bene D
March 31st, 2008 | LINK

I wrote about this er, endevour some time ago. This is a couple of guys that have issues.
It’s a fake money making scheme, Tommy Douglas cult and Paul Hellyer UFO believers. Jesustians – their own religion and their own political party. Raymond Samuels II is er, a well known um character who started a party called The Cosmopolitan Party.

We home grow our own gooks well, don’t we?

Emily K
March 31st, 2008 | LINK

I saw this in the “News” section on Google and was wondering if you guys were gonna catch it. I’m glad you did.

March 31st, 2008 | LINK

Bene D, I hope you meant kooks and not gooks!

Freedom of speech should not be construed to protect the deliberate spreading of lies.

March 31st, 2008 | LINK

The conspiracy theories about the US govt or CIA inventing HIV to spread misery in “undesirable” populations ignores the fact that prior to the discovery and decades of work on HIV, human knowledge about retro-viruses was so limited as to be laughable. One would have to have an enormous sophistication about retroviruses to have designed one. That sophistication just did not exist during the 1970’s, when this alleged plot occurred.

By the way, I remember the actor Will Smith making some idiotic, inflammatory remarks on this subject to Barbara Walters years ago. I could not believe that he was so ignorant and irresponsible to be pushing those garbage conspiracy theories on national television.

Timothy Kincaid
March 31st, 2008 | LINK

Raymond Samuels II is er, a well known um character who started a party called The Cosmopolitan Party.

I love a good cosmopolitan party, especially if they use top-shelf vodka. Oh. Wait. Nevermind.

Timothy Kincaid
March 31st, 2008 | LINK

It sounds like Alan Cantwell and Jeremiah Wright would get along just fine. They’d only disagree about the target of the eugenics.

Actually, both can serve as a lesson to us all. Too often those who have been victims of real and persistent harm can come to see everything through the lens of that experience. Even benign or coincidental circumstances take on overtones of evil intent and conspiracy.

It’s hard to trust when your trust has been violated, or never earned at all. But, nonetheless, we have to make effort not to let the demons of our imagination destroy our perspective. Otherwise we end up making crackpot claims founded solely on our fears.

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