July 15, 2003

Paradigms Discovered

Charles Murtaugh points out that Peter Duesberg isn't always wrong-and that his heterodox HIV-does-not-cause-AIDS schtick probably retarded acceptance of a hypothesis that might have some validity in relation to the cause of cancer. The bad of science? Personality and politics are important. The good of it? Overwhelming evidence will always drag a slow-poke tortise theory weighed down by extraneous baggage over the finish line. Evidence is more important in the end.

Posted by razib at 12:04 AM

If I recall correctly, Duesberg was pretty well regarded as a virologist before he started promoting the idea that HIV does not cause AIDS. Another such individual is Kary Mullis, nobel laureate and inventor of the polymerase chain reaction.

Although I pretty much accept that HIV causes AIDS, I do find some of Duesberg and Mullis' arguments hard to answer. For example, in the early 1980's it was claimed that AIDS would spread from its initial high-risk groups (homosexuals and intravenous drug users) to the general population. Of course, today, we see that in America AIDS is still confined largely to these groups. The usual explanation for this is that AIDS isn't transmitted as easily through vaginal intercourse - but if this is the case, then why is AIDS infecting very large percentages of the heterosexual population in Africa and parts of Asia? (Duesberg and Mullis explain this by saying that AIDS in Africa is caused by something different than AIDS in America.) Anyone got a response to this one?

Posted by: Oleg at July 15, 2003 01:47 AM

then why is AIDS infecting very large percentages of the heterosexual population in Africa

Black americans too. AIDS is the #1 cause of death for African-American women ages 25 - 44.

AA women are 20 times more likely to contract AIDS than Caucasian women.

Is this behavioral or physiological, both, or what? No economic answer fills in a gap like that.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at July 15, 2003 04:59 AM

the "asian AIDS epidemic" is nothing compared to the african one. i belive thailand has flattened at 2.5% and is still the "epicenter".... while uganda is a "success" at 5% infection rates (depending on who you talk to, it could be higher).

Posted by: razib at July 15, 2003 10:24 AM