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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Why do Bad Ideas Take Root so Quickly and Why are they so Hard to Eradicate?

Followers of this blog, if there ever are any, will detect that there are a number of bees in my bonnet. Two of loudest buzzers are: the orthodox HIV theory of AIDS (AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease in which the causative agent is HIV) and AGW (the preposterous idea that human beings are on the brink of a self-induced global catastrophe).


“HIV, the Virus that Causes AIDS.” “HIV, the Virus that Causes AIDS.” “HIV, the Virus that Causes AIDS.”

This mantra is unprecedented. Compare it with: “Shigella the Bacillus that Causes Dysentery” or with “Plasmodium the Protist that Causes Malaria.” You haven’t read these repeatedly in the press or heard them on the radio a thousand times. A fairer comparison would be with: “Religion, the Opiate of the Masses” or with “Patriotism, the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel”! In other words, “HIV, the Virus that Causes AIDS.” is pure propaganda.

It was/is chanted by those who seem to have remembered Goebbels famous words: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State (or self-serving scientific elites) can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State (or self-serving scientific elites).”

In the mid 80s there were other mantras: “Don’t Die of Ignorance”, “AIDS is an Equal Opportunity Killer”, “We are All Equally at Risk”. It’s a great trick! “Four Legs Good! Two Legs Bad!”. Over and over and over.

Well, I’m not so much brainier than average. But even at the time it was plain to me that something was going on. This was so obviously propaganda, and clumsy propaganda at that, that I expected it to be rumbled in short order. Especially, because those who were tragically dying of AIDS continued overwhelmingly to be gay men, against whom I have no animus. I will come to African AIDS later.

The self-evident nonsense was not rumbled. I managed to make myself unpopular among some of my acquaintance. The mantra was working!

Baffled, I speculated. This was before I had read a word by a single “AIDS Dissident” or “AIDS Denier”.

BTW, this is another clever trick (alive and well among the AGW fraternity to associate those who were/are not taken in with Holocaust deniers). Goebbels would have taken his hat off.

Baffled, I started to formulate vague theories. The press loved it. So they would do anything to keep the show on the road. The gay lobby, understandably, much preferred HIV=AIDS to any life style associated theory. So, “We are all equally at risk” suited them. The government liked showing how caring they were by pumping money into propaganda and research. Virologists were at a premium.

As it happened (though I didn’t know at the time), there were far too many virologists around anyway. They had done good by defeating polio and smallpox. All credit to them. And in the 1970s they were going to sort out cancer. Great! Great big grants, gorgeous shiny laboratories and heaps of prestige. Doing well by doing good. But that didn’t happen. Viruses turned out to have very little to with cancer. Bummer!

So, when someone says AIDS is caused by a virus (even though it was a retrovirus, a virus of a type that had never been accused of causing so much as dandruff) the virologists settled down once more to doing well by doing good.

That was quite a coalition: the media, the government, oppressed gays (about whom we all felt bad for the hard time they had had in pre-enlightened times) and those heroic guys in white coats.

But then a very few very naughty little boys began to whisper: “The King is in the altogether, the altogether, the altogether... as naked as the day that he was born. The very least the King has ever worn.”

I think that the first thing I read which cast doubt on the HIV theory was by Jad Adams, ‘AIDS, The HIV Myth’. Subsequently I read ‘The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS’ by Michael Fumento. Neville Hodgkinson started a courageous series of articles in the Sunday Times. I read Peter Duesberg, Kary Mullis, Joan Shenton, Celia Farber and many others.

[I intend to provide links to relevant websites in due course. But this is a new blog and I have got stuff of my own to get off my chest. Gimme a break, willya? Anyway, in the meantime there’s Google.]

I also read stuff by the orthodox HIV=AIDS people. And one thing struck me straight away. They didn’t address the questions of the dissenters. For example, how could AIDS be caused by HIV when some of Gallo’s AIDS subjects showed no evidence of the presence of HIV? Robert Gallo is the man who gave us HIV. He announced it at a press conference. No peer review, no proper scientific protocol. More about Gallo later, perhaps in a separate post. Even more problematical, how could there be a test for HIV when nobody had ever isolated HIV?

No, instead of addressing the questions, they appealed to the consensus (of happy, secure virologists) and slandered the dissenters. They called them murderers and called for their imprisonment. They made sure that they didn’t publish in Science or in Nature, that they didn’t get government money to do research. One unhappy virologist, Peter Duesberg, in fact the man who probably knows more about retroviruses than any other scientist, has not had a grant application approved since he stuck his head above the parapet. He was a man at the top of his profession, an “outstanding investigator”, a potential Nobel Prize laureate. Peter Duesberg will be vindicated; but what a waste of talent!

Catastrophic Manmade Global Warming aka Catastrophic Human Caused Climate Change

The similarities between the HIV theory of AIDS and AGW are instructive and depressing. It almost as if the warmists had taken note of the success of Gallo and his crew and deliberately emulated them. Mind you, they might have been students of Dr Goebbels.

OK. So here is why AGW is self evidently poppycock! The question is: why, oh why have so may people fallen for it?

[On an optimistic note, there are far more people who recognise that AGW is a crock than there are who have not fallen for the HIV line. Perhaps it’s because HIV got rammed down our innocent (though naive) throats before the internet really got going. Isn’t it a lovely irony that Al Gore claims to have been instrumental in creating the Information Super Highway? Another reason may be that the cost of doing what the warmists want is so colossal and promises so little and that it is manifestly, plainly, obviously unaffordable. People know that we haven’t got the money. We’ve given it all to the bankers.]

Poppycock? Right. AGW says that minute increases in one minute constituent of the atmosphere will raise the Earth’s temperature dramatically. Hush your cheering, people of Siberia. You probably have more to worry about from cooling.

The atmosphere is mostly nitrogen. Dry air is 78% nitrogen (which is vital to growing plants), 21% oxygen (enough to keep you and me alive but not so much that things keep bursting into flame spontaneously all the time) and 1% everything else. CO2 forms about 400 ppm (parts per million) or 0.0004% and it’s going up – a bit. So if it were to double, that would be 0.0008%. You can see why they use ppm. Most air contains some water vapour, up to 4% or 40000 ppm. Water vapour is by far the most significant ‘greenhouse’ gas and there is sod all we can do about it. As for the CO2, if there were significantly less of it we would be in trouble because clever plants use water from their roots and CO2 from the atmosphere to make sugars for their own bodies which animals, including humans, eat. This is called photosynthesis because the process requires light. Where does this deadly miasma (CO2) come from?

It nearly all comes from Nature. According to the World Meteorological Organisation 95% of the CO2 would be there if there were no humans on the Earth. So, we are talking about a small percent of a vanishingly small proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere being contributed by us.

Common sense would suggest that since the amount of CO2 we put into the atmosphere is so tiny, it’s going to have a tiny effect on temperatures, especially because there is so much water vapour in comparison, about which we can do nothing.

“Common sense? We can do better than common sense,” say the warmists, “We’ve got computer models! We create thousands of formulas and plug in thousands of bits of data. And, lo and behold, the computer tells that it’s going to get a bit hotter – anyway, enough hotter to flood London and Bangladesh. Please can we have some more money to continue this vital research and don’t forget that after you’ve paid us, you need to dismantle your economy and pay trillions of money to China and India to help them dismantle their economies. What do you mean by saying that the banks have got all the money you had? We’ve peer-reviewed each other’s articles, so there!”

Well, the Earth’s climate (or rather climates – you might have noticed that Siberia and Saudi Arabia have little in common climate wise) is/are very very much more complicated than the most sophisticated computer climate models – even though Michael Mann (of hockey stick fame) created a model which was so sophisticated that it gave him a catastrophic result whatever data he plugged into it. It even changed the past by eliminating the Medieval Warm Period and smoothing out the Little Ice Age. No wonder Phil Jones at the CRU at UEA was impressed by his tricks.

Time to turn in. But why do these bad ideas take root so quickly and why are they so hard to eradicate?

Short answer: because we are gullible and lazy. A self-serving scientific elite, a press that loves a scare, governments that pander to what they think is the zeitgeist, the likes of Al Gore and Robert Gallo, who have figured out how to make money out of carbon trading and HIV tests.

I’m quite sure that there are things I accept lazily because I haven’t bothered to investigate. I don’t feel I should apologise for accepting Quantum Mechanics, although QM is the graveyard (as David Berlinski says) of intuition and common sense. I’m not smart enough to check it out. I am not smart enough to rant on about Politics and Economics, though it seems self-evident that the way we have done things in the ‘free world’ is better than the way they do things in North Korea.
Good night.

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