Paraphrasing or Inventing? 7 July 2004
Previous Rapid Response Next Rapid Response Top
Christopher J Noble,

Send response to journal:
Re: Paraphrasing or Inventing?

The Perth Group write:

As we have repeatedly said over the course of this debate, the Perth Group did not invent such "rules". However, we did draw attention to some steps necessary to prove purification and characterisation of retroviruses discussed at the Pasteur Institute over 30 years ago.1 These steps have been paraphrased in Continuum.2 If Christopher Noble thinks these steps are not necessary then would he please tell us what method he would use to prove the existence of a new retrovirus and characterise its proteins and genome.

The Perth Group may have repeatedly said that they have not invented these rules but this does not make it true.

The problem seems to be their confusion between paraphrasing and inventing. As I have said before it is necessary to read the references that the Perth Group supply to check whether they have paraphrased what the authors have said in the paper or whether they have invented their own version.

Nowhere in the paper by Toplin is it asserted or implied that a preparation of 100% viral particles must be obtained before the existence of a retrovirus can be claimed. Yet this is what the Perth Group insist on as a criteria for the existence of HIV.2 In fact, the article by Toplin makes it clear that density gradient purification cannot separate viral particles from cellular debris with the same density. The Perth Group readily acknowledge that HIV cultures contain cellular debris and microvesicles with the density of 1.16 gm/ml. How then do they expect that sucrose density gradient methods can separate HIV from all of the cellular debris?

The article by Toplin does describe experimental methods that have and continue to be used to purify or concentrate viruses. What it does not do and does not claim to do is describe the Rules for the isolation of retroviruses as the Perth Group claim. If they did contain these rules then every report of the isolation of retroviruses since 1973 would reference this paper. They don't. The only people that appear to be citing this paper are the Perth Group.

The perth Group are indeed adept at inventing straw-man criteria to argue against the existence of HIV.

The Perth Group have invented a criterion that:

the RNA in particles isolated from different AIDS patients should vary by no more than the RNAs from other RNA viruses.

This is one of 12 criteria that they claim are the minimum to show that HIV exists and causes AIDS. 3

They have also repeatedly claimed on this forum that: the genomes of the most variable RNA viruses do not differ by more than 1%

The Perth Group have offered several references to support this claim but none of these references actually say this. The Perth Group "paraphrased" again.

The Perth Group have had ample opportunities to admit that they were mistaken. So far they have refused to answer a simple question regarding the amount of genetic variation between the three Sabin poliovirus strains. Think of this as an honesty test for the Perth Group. Will they admit that the genomes of the three Sabin poliovirus strains differ from each other by more that 1%? Will they claim that polio does not exist? Or will they refuse to answer?

In the past instead of answering this question they have said: Let us again reiterate that the 1% variability is not our claim but that of a number of virologists.

This strikes at the very heart of the matter. Are the Perth Group capable of objectively reading the papers they cite and objectively reporting what is contained in them? This question is of vital importance. The Perth Group do no experimental work. Their arguments consist entirely in the "paraphrasing" of the work of others.

The Perth Group and their supporters continually misunderstand the situation. The obligation is not on everyone else in the world to "prove" something to you personally. It is not your right to appoint yourself as the Grand Arbiter of Retroviral Existence. The Perth Group would be better served if the made an effort to convince the rest of the world that they indeed have a valid reason for doubting the existence of HIV other than a dogmatic unwillingness to admit that their own pet theory does not explain AIDS. They could start by accurately representing the articles that they cite and refraining from ramapnt "paraphrasing".

1. Toplin I. Tumor Virus Purification using Zonal Rotors. Spectra 1973;225-235.

2. Missing Virus: The Jody Wells Memorial Prize. Continuum 1995;

3. HIV Theory Query. The Perth Group. link

Competing interests: None declared