Absolutely Necessary Criteria. 14 July 2004
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Christopher J Noble,
postdoc
Australia

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Re: Absolutely Necessary Criteria.

The Perth Group have said that in order to prove the existence of HIV it is absolutely necessary to:

Prove that the difference between the RNA obtained from particles originating from different cultures is about the same as the differences between the RNAs of other RNA viruses

The Perth Group have also said:

Man and chimpanzee DNA differ by less than 2% but variation in the composition of the "HIV genome" (derived from analysis of "pieces" measuring 2% to 30% of the presumed total) measures between 3-40%. By comparison, two RNA containing viruses (polio and influenza, the latter after 27 years of dormancy,) vary by less than 1% as do RNA molecules self-assembled in test tubes denied the organising influence of living cells.(155,156)

The reference that they give for the variation of poliovirus and influenza virus is a review by David Steinhauer. 1

Does the review say that the genomes of different poliovirus isolates differ from each other by less than 1%? No!

Influenza? No!

What does the review say? It is clear from sequencing data now available that despite the presence of some strongly conserved genomic stretches, well over half of the nucleotide positions in many RNA virus genomes can be substitued without loss of virus viability

Yes, in the very reference that the Perth Group cite there is evidence that contradicts their assertions. It is for this reason that the Perth Group are unable to convince more than their close associates that they have a valid argument.

Let's look at the poliovirus example

The article regarding the poliovirus that is cited by the Steinhauer review is by Glyn Stanway from 1984 ( Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1984 March; 81 (5): 1539-1543).

A little bit of literature searching by the Perth Group would have found another article published only months earlier by the same author (Nucleic Acids Res. 1983 August 25; 11 (16): 5629-5643) - "There is 77.4% base-sequence homology and 89.6% predicted amino-acid homology between types 1 and 3"

The Perth Group's current silence after my repeated questions regarding the genetic variation between poliovirus subtypes does not do anything to convince readers that:

  1. They have even a basic understanding of molecular biology
  2. They have an ability to read and understand scientific papers
  3. They have the intention to accurately represent these papers
  4. They will ever admit to being wrong even in the face of overwhelming evidence

The last point is extremely important. The fact that the Perth Group do not admit they are wrong allows many people to maintain that there remains a degree of controversy regarding HIV and AIDS and that there is still no agreement among scientists.

The Perth Group will never admit they are wrong. This does not make them right only obstinate and dogmatic. The Perth Group continually assert that the only way to resolve this debate is to "prove" to them that HIV exists. I freely admit that this is impossible. It is impossible to "prove" anything to the Perth Group. They will continue to believe what they want to believe. If the Perth Group wish to believe that the genomes of RNA viruses all vary by less than 1% then they will continue to do so even if they are presented with papers showing that this is not so.

I would suggest to the Perth Group that another way to resolve this "controversy" is to convince even a small percentage of scientists that they have reasonable grounds to doubt the existence of HIV. They can do this by presenting actual evidence rather than inventing their own criteria for the proof of retroviral existence. They could achieve this by making sure they understand the papers they cite and that they actually support their hypotheses. Most scientists will check the references that the Perth Group provides. When they do this they will find huge disparities between what the Perth Group say these papers show and what they actually show.

1 Steinhauer, D.A. & Holland, J.J. Annual Review of Microbiology 41, 409-433 (1987).

Competing interests: None declared