Thanks to Josh Nicholson for sending us this article in Specimen about Peter H. Duesberg.
I post it before reading it, but on first glance it seems like an honest, straightforward interview. I hope the editors of Specimen Magazine have not received any grubby threats from the HIV/AIDS Stasi. And even if they have, it’s getting old, isn’t it? These sweaty tantrums, year in and year out. Sheer abuse masking itself as protection of “life,” or “public health.”
When I think of those who have devoted their “scientific” lives to the political destruction of this man, this scientist, what comes to me now is pity for them, and no worry of any kind for him. My worrying about him has been misplaced, for decades.
One should never worry about a scientist who is behaving like a scientist. One should worry about the other poor sods. They are in a spiral of pain, abuse and slavery that never ends whereas Peter Duesberg is a free man. If I had to choose one word for P.D., as somebody who has interviewed him many times, since 1987, apparently “sympathetically,” (implicit that the right way to interview the man is admonishingly–) the word would be: Happy.
While we are once again focusing on the Peter Duesberg story, myth and mystery, I want to share this outtake from an article I once wrote, called “The Passion Of Peter Duesberg,” (the original version of an article that later became edited into “Out of Control: AIDS And The Corruption of Medical Science,” in Harper’s, March 2006:)
“Are we clear that what you are going to do is present things as they are?” said Bialy, Duesberg’s biographer, in a deep, stern voice over the phone.
“I’m not going to tell you why these things are, only that they are.”
“Yes,” I said, and felt like somebody had just strapped me into a safe harness before a flight.
I wrote on my notepad: Things as they are.
His voice intensified.
“You think you know who this man is and what he said but you don’t. That’s the starting point for your reader.”
His book’s academic title belies its hysteria-inducing subject: Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: A Scientific Life & Times of Peter H. Duesberg (The Institute of Biotechnology of the Autonomous National University of Mexico.)
Bialy, a contemporary of Duesberg’s, and longstanding HIV critic in his own right, is the founding scientific editor of Nature BioTechnology, a sister journal to Nature. The book is an extremely fine-boned history of the published papers, review articles and letters that Duesberg published between 1983 and 2003, and the responses they generated. Bialy writes as though inside a space capsule, in airless, acute prose untouched by any of the usual attitudes, convictions and emotions that have colored virtually ever word written or uttered about Duesberg since the fateful year of 1987.
Perhaps the most unusual quality of the book is the fact that in it, he writes of Duesberg as though he exists, as a scientist. Not as a disgraced, fallen scientist, but a scientist, period. It does not disparage him, nor does it elevate him, it merely records his scientific arc, through the three fields of study on which he has now had an almost immeasurable impact: Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS. Let’s shorten that to: Cancer and AIDS.
Bialy is hot-tempered and acerbic; He doesn’t particularly wish to be interviewed and is indignant about all the non-science that has clouded Duesberg’s biological ouevre since the mid 1980s, which he refers to as the “cult of personality.”
I asked him why he wrote this book—a project that took him four years.
“It was when I read Peter’s third paper that I understood what had happened and realized I had to write this book,” he said. “I am persuaded that aneuploidy is the initiating event in carcinogenesis. Peter has found the genetic basis for cancer. The most immediate application of it will be early diagnosis.”
“When anuepolody, or genetic instability, or whatever linguistic term you want to use, gets reincarnated as the dominant theoretical explanation for the genesis of cancer, Peter Duesberg will be recognized as a major contributor to that. I wanted to make sure that his contributions were not swept aside or ignored. I knew they would try to blow Peter away. The AIDS establishment is, as you know, quite a bit more organized, ferocious and vicious than the cancer establishment. But that is immaterial.”
“Scientifically,” he says, “cancer is still an interesting question. AIDS has not been an interesting question for 15 years.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because it’s been a closed book for 15 years. It has been clear for 15 years that this is a non-infectuous condition that has its cause in a whole variety of chemicals.”
His voice rises. “Doesn’t the book demonstrate very clearly that scientifically, nothing happened between 1994 and 2003? Zero. Absolutely nothing except one wrong epidemiological prediction after another, one failed poisonous drug after another. 0.000.000 cured. No vaccine, or even a fake vaccine. It’s a total failure. We’ve turned virlogy inside out and upside down to accommodate this bullshit hypothesis for 17 years now. It’s enough. It’s over.”
As he says that, I imagine Wainberg’s livid face, and imagine how it would look if he heard this conversation, or saw a copy of Bialy’s book.
“AIDS is a political thing, and Peter’s stuck in it. There’s nothing to discuss anymore on that.”
I was stuck on the question of how people can talk about Peter Duesberg the way they do, and recited a few examples to Bialy, who made what I later realized was a critical point. Science is amoral and should be. There is no right and wrong, only correct and incorrect, which is its own, self-regulating “right and wrong.”
“There is not a word in my book that calls Peter a good scientist, a bad scientist, a mediocre scientist, a great scientist or a brilliant scientist. What I have said is that he is a classical scientist. A classical molecular biologist. All he is interested in is rigorously
testing dueling hypothesis. The twin pillars, AIDS and Oncogenes, both are crumbling because of the questions Peter Duesberg put into motion..”
“He did what he did,” Bialy said. “If he did it for childlike or satanic or saintly reasons is not important.”
[The Passion of Peter Duesberg, C. Farber, Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS, Melville House Press]
I love that quote.