Monday, April 02, 2007

Horowitz vs ERV

Edited April 3, 9 PM

Heres the link to the debate (Thank you Reggie!!)

Yay! I finally feel better! Turns out I had a freak combination of a cold and allergies. So a few puffs of Flonase and a Claritin perked me right back up! Finally! So heres my pov from the 'debate', and some elaborations where I was interrupted/ignored/galloped.
I might add some more to this later, because Im sure Ive forgotten something.

1. A couple of my favorite HIV basics sites:
Avert and Molecules of HIV

2. Aw I just wanna heeeelp people:
Horowitz was desperately trying to convince us that he was just trying to 'help people', and as I stated right off the bat-- supporting anti-science movements and conspiracy mongering does not 'help people.'
Lets look at his actions. Look at that garbage he sells. Its garbage. Crap. Trinkets and water. Lets pretend he really, REALLY thinks that it can 'help people'. Why doesnt he do what is necessary to get this information main-stream (and I dont mean publishing straight to consumer books). Why doesnt he get in a lab and do research? If I screwed up in the lab and accidentally *cured* HIV with a mixture of Flonase, coffee, and calcium, I would beg my boss for a few supplies to run some preliminary experiments! If they turned out well, Id call the people who make Flonase and beg them to give it a try. If they ignored me, Id take it to their competition. If they ignored me, Id write a grant and try to do it myself. I would not stock up on Flonase, coffee, and calcium and make little bottles of it in my bathtub and sell it to AIDS patients for $189.99. Nothing about his behavior makes me think he thinks the crap hes selling actually works, especially considering the gravity of the diseases he proclaims he can cure.
Lets look at what he says. As someone pointed out to be on another forum, its like he was more interested in talking about his conspiracy. Science was just a frustrating side issue. Like I said in the interview-- HIV Denial is a political statement for Horowitz, not a scientific one. He wanted to talk about how much money George W makes and secret monkey import rings and all sorts of shit that leads to: public distrust of scientists, public distrust of the medical field, public distrust of medicine/vaccines/etc, public distrust of 'foreign' aid--- where does this lead us? Polio outbreaks, because vaccines are refused. Further spread of HIV, because pregnant mothers wont take their ARVs during birth. Foreign medical workers waiting to be shot in the head in prisons for purposely infecting children with HIV, a crime they couldnt have committed, and scientific validation of their innocence is ignored. Even further spread of HIV, because infected persons are 'cured' with garlic/bananas/tuning forks/potions/etc, ergo dont need to take meds or the appropriate precautions with their sexual partners.
Look, we all know who Horowitz is interested in 'helping.'

3. These are not Horowitz's own ideas:
Like his magic water and magic tuning forks, Horowitz doesnt 'think' (can I say 'think' when Im talking about magic tuning forks?) of these things on his own. He steals them. To his credit, he does mention Edward Hooper in his 'peer reviewed article' (see #7).
However, Hooper dismissed the HepB vaccine-->HIV 'hypothesis.' Because 'viruses' are so alien to most people, its easy to revert to metamagical thinking. Viruses recombining and mutating into super viruses that can be controlled and released by The Government... Viruses dont work that way. An HIV subtype can recombine with another subtype, but it cant recombine with Hepatitis B. Its a completely different creature. Never mind HepB vaccines are 'subunit' vaccines... theres no genome there for HIV to 'recombine with'...

4. Humans zoonotically getting infections is not magic:
Zoonosis is not a vast right wing conspiracy enabled by mad scientists. What do you think happens every time a human gets rabies? Rabies doesnt *want* to be in a human-- we're a dead-end host.
Nipah virus is a great example for what I was talking about in the 'debate'-- a virus humans 'discovered' when they encroached on previously unexplored territory. As we understand it now, Nipah virus isnt exactly easy for a human to get... yet outbreaks still happen. Crossovers happen. As long as the outbreaks remain isolated, its all okay. If an infected person gets on an airplane, we might have problems.
This isnt magic.

5. Scientists change their minds:
Horowitz feigned indignance when I suggested Dr. Gerald Myers most likely has changed his mind about the origin of HIV since the long... long... quote Horowitz cited. Why would an esteemed scientist reject his hypothesis?
Because someone proves him/her wrong. Certainly you could attempt to disprove your critics research, but that doesnt appear to be an option Meyers utilized. I can only imagine that means that he accepts the finding of others.
What is offensive is Horowitzs insistence that an esteemed scientist is too stupid and too hard-headed to accept evidence presented to him/her, refusing to change positions in the face of overwhelming evidence. That is what Creationists do, not scientists.

6. Vast right wing conspiracy:
While I realize its humorous that Horowitz equates Japanese people with Chinese people, he completely missed my point. Okay, lets pretend Horowitz is right. Lets pretend that the US purposlely unleashed HIV on this planet to kill BLACKS and FAGS.
Every country on this planet would love to uncover this. My point with China is that they are a relatively well off country very much involved in HIV research and very much effected by the HIV pandemic. And, because of their governmental system, theyre continuously reprimanded by other countries for human rights violations. If HIV is a US conspiracy, why hasnt China uncovered this for the whole world to know? They have the same data we do. They have the same resources as we do.
How are we getting China, China of all countries, to go along with this evil plan?

7. Peer review my ass:
Its called a conflict of interest.

8. Horowitz is a Creationist:
Dr. Dentist is buddies with Dr. Dino. Yes, lets listen to what you have to say about science, Dr. Dentist.

9. I did not enjoy speaking with Horowitz:
I love love love educating the public about science, and sometimes that means addressing people like Horowitz to help people who dont know how to address their anti-science claims. However, I take no pleasure in speaking with someone this fucking nuts.

10. Im a RABID antidentite:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand.... just so you have a heads-up :)


iwentdowntotheriver said...

Excellent performance. I was quite impressed with the extent of the good doctor's irrationality, you did well not to loose your cool. Keep up the good work.

Tyler DiPietro said...

I've actually made a post on the interview congratulating you. I really don't know how you did it, but you have an incomprehensible level of resilience and patience to be able to deal with that idiot. Lenny-boy really is a testament to the irrationality at the base of such credulous and sloppy thinking, whether it be creationism, HIV denial, ESP fanboyism, or anything else.

ERV said...

River and Tyler-- I think Reggie deserves a lot of the credit for my calmness. He did a great job moderating, keeping Horowitz on the line, breaking up his tantrums/rants... When he started caterwauling about his credentials, I would have kept teasing him until he hung up, if it werent for Reggie.

It also helped that I knew Reggies audience was a sympathetic crowd, for rationality. Im not sure if we could have let some of his sillier statements slide if it were an audience of Average Joes.

Im going to add to this soon (and someone sent me his paper-- ITS SO DUMB YOU ALL WILL LOVE IT!!!), but I am so friggen sick right now. hehe More proof Im just a pharma shill, running off to take my industrial strength cough syrup, rather than taking Dear Doctor Dentists good 'ol fashioned miracle water. lol!

drpsduke said...

Follow the money...

I don't know about tetrahedron, but many of Horowitz's other ventures are strictly non-profit. I would guess that selling Holy Water falls under religious institution.

One of his web sites actually shows some of his Holy Water folding its hands in prayer:

Is that not proof of Divine Intervention?

Kristjan Wager said...

I'm sure Horowitz can sell you something for your bronchitis. Have you tried searching for it on his website (which BTW is one of the more ugly ones outside Myspace)

Kristjan Wager said...

I took a brief look at the Horowitz article, and am looking forward to your views on it. I find it bold that Horowitz would use "EPIDEMIOLOGIC COMMON SENSE" as a section headline.

Especially when that section includes lines like
"All these theories seem tenuous, if not ludicrous, when considered in light of the epidemiologic and scientific evidence compiled."
when speaking about the theories of an interspecies origin of HIV/AIDS.

Chris Noble said...

I finally listened to it.

The electrogenomics crap was painful to listen to.

It is worth noting how Horowitz framed the "debate". He assumed the scientific high ground and insisted that the onus was on you and Brandon to convince him that he was wrong! This is a typical tactic. If you allow this then if you get to the end of the "debate" and he still refuses to accept that he is wrong then he will claim victory. Apparently narrowing the tribe of chimps down was not sufficient for him. He wanted the name and phone number of chimp zero.

Nevertheless you did a good job of presenting the evidence and he demonstrated his pseudoscientific credentilas so well that I doubt that anyone except conspiracy theorists would have taken him seriously.

The bit about implying that the "orthodox" theory is that HIV was spread from chimps to humans via sexual contact enraged me. This is another common tactic that I have come across. "Rethinkers" use this strawman to imply that the HIV/AIDS scientists are all racists that believe that Africans have sex with chimpanzees and monkeys.

Chris Noble said...

Horowitz cites Urnovitz!

Urnovitz has made various claims about HIV spontaneously forming during some unexplained reshuffling of the human genome.

Urnovitz claimed that he could put together endogenous sequences to make HIV-1 group O. He could just never be bothered to actually tell anybody the details. That doesn't stop HIV "rethinkers" citing him as an authority.

ERV said...

LOL Group O? Thats hysterical!

"Well, Ive worked it out-- I can cut and paste bits of our genome to make group O HIV, but not group M or N! Dammit!"

ROFL!! So whats the barrier that prevents him from *finding* M and N? Oh god I dont want to know, do I?

I love the ad homs against HIV researchers as well. Its a slap in the face to every woman researcher, every 'colored' researcher, every homosexual researcher, and every white middle class heterosexual male (yet curiously caring) researcher. He obviously only said that in hopes of getting a reaction out of me/Brandon/listeners.

ERV said...

Oh yeah!

If there were any comments Horowitz made that I didnt address on the show or here, and you have Qs, please ask!!!

Chris Noble said...

LOL Group O? Thats hysterical!

HIV-1 O vau to be exact.

Urnovitz only described one single HIV isolate. The data that he gave only showed a few matches of about 15 bps that came from different chrosomes. Why these all joined together to form a retrovirus genome is left unexplained.

Nobody has been able to get a rational answer from him as to how or why this reshuffling manages to generate HIV genomes.

Baron Ben said...

hey there i got a question i just want to know exactly how we know that HIV is from monkies, as in how do we explain it to the layman. I just need to wrap my head around it fully as i am a layman and so are my friends that i tried to explin it and i just sounded like i was retarded :(

drpsduke said...

We know much more than "HIV came from monkeys". HIV-1 M group came from a chimpanzee from southeastern Cameroon. HIV-1 N group came from a chimpanzee living about 200 miles north of the M group origin, in easter-central Cameroon. HIV-1 O group seems to have come from Gorillas in southwestern Cameroon. All of these have been and still are hunted for meat, as well as killing the parents in order to steal the infants for sale to zoos, circuses or to keep as pets. Do a GOOGLE search on "bushmeat".

HIV-2 came from Sooty mangabeys to humans at least 7 times. The HTLV viruses, also have crossed from non-human primates to humans at least 8 times over the past 200 years, as well as one to 3 times in the 80,000 years before that. Many other viruses have also crossed from non-human primates to humans in the past 200 years.

We tend to get more viruses from primates than from for example cats or dogs or sheep, because we are more closely related to the primates. Our cell surface receptors are similar to those from chimpanzees. Humans kill only a few thousand chimpanzees each year for food, but we kill millions of cows, chickens and other species, so on a "per-contact" basis we are about a million-fold more likely to get a virus from a primate than from a non-primate mammal.

We know all this because some people have dedicated years to finding ways to sample viruses from the wild free-living chimpanzees in Cameroon without harming them. When the viruses are sampled from "bushmeat" in city markets, there is know way to be sure which tribe of free-living animals each bit of meat came from. With bushmeat it is only possible to identify the species, not the exact location where the animal lived.

Tyler DiPietro said...

ERV posted this "satanic vaccines" disclaimer addressing Horowitz's apparently impure views:

"Dr. Len Horowitz has done a wonderful job educating the people about ungodly vaccinations, but unfortunately he may be a mere tool for advancing the HIV/AIDS myth and allopathy's foundational germ theory, whether he knows it or not."

For some reason this reminds me of 9/11 conspiracy theorists who think that Noam Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson are "Zionists" because they pretty strongly rebuke 9/11 conspiracism. It goes to show you that once you enter into the world of conspiracy and bias, you can't get out. It's like a recursively collapsing vortex of absurdity.

(Disclaimer: for those who might read too much into my analogy, I'm not a Chomsky or Johnson hater. I love reading Johnson's treatises on foreign policy and Chomsky is one of my earliest scientific heroes. Please refrain from any preemptive flaming!)

llewelly said...

... China is that they are a relatively well off country very much involved in HIV research and very much effected by the HIV pandemic.

Please edit: effected => affected .

ERV said...

llewelly - I wish I could. However, admitting error empowers the terrorists.


The Factician said...

I admire your patience. I could only listen to Mr. Horowitz for 15 minutes of that recording. As soon as he said he was too busy conducting research to use PubMed, I knew everything coming after that was going to be full of shit.

monado said...

That was a lovely job of analyzing the LG Horowitz brand of nonsense. I'm linking to it from Science Notes but it won't appear 'til tomorrow.

ERV said...

factician and monado-- Oooh sweet blogs! Im going to have to go play on your alls sites this weekend!

Kristjan Wager said...

Remember to submit this post to the Skeptics' Circle, it's certainly prime material for it.

ERV said...

Forgive my lameness, Kris... but how do I do that? I havent submitted to a carnival before :)

Kristjan Wager said...

It's fairly simple - just follow the guidelines (basicly, write an email to the host of the next circle)