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Philo of Alexandria counseled, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” I’m not sure what internal demons haunt Christopher J. Noble, but his long and –evidently- reluctant journey to adulthood and civil discourse, which reached a nadir with his supercilious response to Murali Mohan (23 February, 2004) makes it difficult to follow the sage’s advice. Dr. Noble’s missive could hardly be more childish if it had been submitted in crayon on wide-ruled paper.
I, for one, am greatly relieved that Dr. Noble has “…absolutely no objection to the Perth Group publishing their hypotheses in scientific journals”, but in what sense has the Perth Group failed “…in the normal scientific arena…”? In my opinion, the Perth Group’s papers are notably erudite and thorough; more so by far than most of the blatherskite taking up space in even the most prestigious scientific journals. Likewise, in what sense has the Perth Group’s work been “…read and dismissed by the scientific community as poor science”? Is this a reference to the ludicrous Durban Declaration, which itself has been dismissed by the scientific community? Or does this refer to the scientific community as it exists only in Dr. Noble’s fevered imagination. In my experience, members of the scientific community (outside of a very, very few retrovirologists whose bread is larded by the HIV knife) are completely unaware of the views of HIV skeptics, and they usually respond with stunned silence when presented with sundry evidence of HIV hokum, such as, say, the Bess (1) or Gluschankof (2) electron micrographs of “purified” HIV. I mean microvesicles. Or maybe it’s microvesicles with a soupçon of HIV…or not.
The fact that the Perth Group “…present no experimental research to support their hypotheses” seems particularly to rankle Dr. Noble. But what does this have to do with anything? The Perth Group are not predominately bench scientists. So? One needn’t shear a sheep to recognize a dag-heap. Has Dr. Noble produced any “experimental research” to support his own hypotheses, or does he, like the Perth Group, rely on knowledge of the published literature?
The latter part of Dr. Noble’s rant is sophistry of the most amateurish sort. What does it prove to ridicule your opponents with a disingenuous list of their supposed characteristics? Especially since the same could be done to Dr. Noble and his fellow intellectual travelers. In fact, let’s do it.
First, start with a pithy quotation. Dr. Noble chose Carl Sagan. I’ll choose Alexis Charles Henri Cleìrel de Tocqueville: “The majority lives in perpetual adoration of itself”.
Then list several unflattering things that distinguish the other side, in this case HIV True Believers. One should note that these True Believers:
a) consider the HIV theory of AIDS to be the null hypothesis.
b) impugn their opponents by referring to them as “denialists” (Get it? Just like Holocaust deniers!).
c) repeatedly demand that “denialists” prove negatives (e.g. that sexual transmission of HIV does NOT occur).
d) claim that the “denialists” are “dangerous”.
e) believe “denialists” should be censored (see i.e. the Durban Declaration & Ref. 3).
f) claim, without evidence, that “denialist” views have already been refuted.
g) produce mutually contradictory results- the only thing they agree on is that HIV is necessary and sufficient to cause AIDS.
h) huffily declaim that they have “better things to do with their time” than engage “denialists” in debate.
As Eric Burdon once said, “It’s cool to be an angry young man. But nobody likes an angry old man.” Here’s hoping Dr. Noble discovers this truth before it’s too late.
1)Bess, et al. (1997). Virology 230:134-144.
2)Gluschankof, et al. (1997). Virology 230:125-133
3)Butler (2003). Nature 426: 215.
Competing interests: None declared