Thursday, April 30, 2009

Power of Suggestion and "Science"


I plan to review this video here in detail:

It's a hidden camera prank from an old comedy show in Turkey. So its in Turkish but it's content is remarkable, so I'll go with it. It's related to "Swine Flu", "AIDS" etc... All the highly "praised" diseases. And it's the best example I know of. Actually it's also related to things like Global Warming.

To sum it up for now: While the victim is eating at the restaurant, suddenly an ambulance arrives and they try to take him to the hospital, as if there's a medical emergency. At first, not knowing what is going on, he resists and tries to push them away. But when his friend too suggests that he should get on the wheeled bed, he stops resisting. He asks if he looks pale or something, and his friend confirms. From that moment on he's convinced that there really is a medical emergency that he wasn't aware of for some reason. He suspects that there was something wrong with the food. At one stage, the victim even scorns the comedian in disguise when he asks irrelevant questions while our victim is "heading towards death" in his own words. After a while they tell him that he actually looks ok and then it is "revealed" that they got the wrong guy at the wrong restaurant. But interestingly even after that revelation our victim is still angry and says somewhat irrational things like "What if I really died!?". Then it goes on for a while but that part is not relevant to the power of suggestions.

How all that is related to "scientific" propaganda, I leave it to you for now. I'll just say that back then, when I was still a believer in the "global warming", I really was convinced that the temperatures were significantly and dangerously rising. It was easy to see the evidence for it. But immediately after I became skeptical it all began to seem pretty normal again. Similar with AIDS, flu etc. Think confirmation bias.

What's also funny is that I would preach my parents about the terrible global warming which is going to destroy my future and all that. My father would say to me that there have always been some doomsday scenarios like global warming in the past, and he was fairly skeptical. But of course the evidence was so obvious and all the glorious "scientists" were insisting that it was true. So my father's skepticism would appear very silly to me. Now I know better. But I really was a hardcore global warming zealot once. I can write a little more about that later I guess...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ethics and "House of Numbers"

For your information today is Rethinking AIDS day. And I'll make a few points about the accusations against the filmmaker Brent Leung and HIV/AIDS dissidents.

I'll focus on this news story:
Crazy ’House’ by Ethan Jacobs (Wednesday Apr 22, 2009)

Basically this is what happened apparently:

A panel discussion about a controversial AIDS documentary, House of Numbers, descended into a screaming match April 21 at the Boston International Film Festival.
And I consider this the most important part:

... Following the panel Leung told Bay Windows that he nearly pulled the film from the festival 15 minutes before the screening. He said festival organizers had promised him that there would be a "two-sided" panel discussion, and he objected to the selection of Cranston as moderator, calling him "obviously biased to one side" because of his work on HIV/AIDS in the public health sector. ...

The "panel" consisted solely of proponents of the HIV/AIDS theory. And what's the defense?

...The film festival released a statement saying that ... "The Boston International Film Festival never intended to host a formal debate about the film; we intended to provide a forum in which members of the community could engage with, and respond to, the film. ..."
Great. What kind of forum was it exactly?

The panel, organized by Amit Dixit -- a board member of Massachusetts Area South Asian Lambda Association (MASALA) -- in conjunction with Fenway Community Health and the festival organizers, included Kuritzkes [an HIV expert and Harvard Medical School professor] and Fenway president and CEO Dr. Stephen Boswell. Kevin Cranston, head of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Infectious Disease, served as moderator...

Even if we ignore the fact that they seem to have deceived the filmmaker, what sense does it make to create such a one-sided panel? How did the organizers really decide that this was a smart thing to do? It seems that knowing that they were doing something that is completely unbalanced and unfair, the panel organizers also felt that "the presence of a police officer at the screening in response to concerns about security" was necessary. Of course they knew that people wouldn't welcome such a blatantly biased panel. But this is actually their alleged excuse for the police:

Dixit, who worked with the festival organizers to organize the panel discussion, said the festival requested a police officer because an AIDS denialist with a past history of violent actions and run-ins with the law had posted on the Internet that he would attend the Nashville screening, and the Boston festival organizers were concerned he would attend the Boston screening as well.
As if anything to be worried about happened at Nashville... All I heard about it was that it was a calm event, with a respectful Q&A afterwards. So why so much tension at Boston? Again, they knew that their obvious bias would get some reactions, and rightfully so. The excuse with the anonymous criminal "denialist" who attended the screening at Nashville is just pathetic. It's irrational, paranoid, hysterical, and probably dishonest too. I'd argue that the police officer was there to strengthen the authority of the one-sided panel.

[UPDATE: More info on that from Clark Baker, who was the "dangerous" individual apparently]

At the end of the article the bias of the panel becomes evident:

Dixit said that he believes the film presents a biased perspective in favor of the AIDS denialists, and the goal in selecting Boswell and Kuritzkes as the panelists was to bring in respected members of the local scientific community to present their response to the claims laid out in the film.
Yeah sure, but couldn't they have done it if there were others who disagreed with their views on the panel? Why the need for inviting just one side?

"I said [to the filmmakers during the planning process] you have 87 minutes, and then the director Q&A, but for me to put these people on the same panel [the night of the screening] who barged up, who have no credentials, it’s an absolute insult to the people we know, it’s an insult to Boswell and Dan who have been doing this for years. ... Fenway, myself, we were about creating a scientific dialogue, that was what the whole premise was," said Dixit.
They felt the need to barge up because there was no balance at all, in that "scientific dialogue". Liam Scheff is a Journalist who was involved in the controversy for years, he was the journalist to expose the controversial NIH clinical trial issue. And Christian Fiala is an experienced medical doctor, who spent the time to write a whole book on AIDS. Fiala was even a member of the South Africa Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel alongside people like Luc Montagnier; Nobel Prize Winner for the "discovery of HIV". If we're going to play this game, neither Kuritzkes, nor Boswell are really "HIV scientists" either; they are not virologists. Apparently Dixit thinks that a M.D. with a belief in HIV/AIDS automatically has more credentials than a M.D. with doubts.

If Dixit wasn't satisfied with people like Dr. Fiala, he should've invited people like Duesberg, Margulis, Mullis or whatever. What he attempted to do was inacceptable, especially for discussing a documentary that seeks to create dialog.

And in real science, real scientists don't have such huge egos anyway. They are not supposed to feel insulted even if people who don't have any credentials at all challenge their views. If they're really that confident in their science, they should be able to respond to any challenge easily. If they don't have a complete answer for some challenges, they should be able to acknowledge that, and they should be looking to all kinds of challenges as an opportunity to learn from others, independent from the challengers' credentials. As an example Alfred Wegener's contributions to geology come to mind, who was an astronomer by training. As far as I know he was primarily dismissed, not being an "expert" geologist and all. For years his geological work wasn't taken seriously. But nowadays he's remembered as a geologist, instead of an astronomer. (Note that this doesn't mean that Wegener was right. There is also room for doubting his science.)

Feynman once said: "Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" and Einstein once said: "Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Is that so hard to get? A certain disrespect for authority is one of the most fundamental necessities of science.

I'll write some more later, about how the filmmakers allegedly took stuff out of context and all that...

P.S. You can read a letter written by Liam Scheff to the reporter of the above story here:
From Liam Scheff to associate editor Ethan Jacobs and “letters to the editor”

...You wrote that people in the audience wanted to ’silence’ your expert, but the reality was that those of us in the film, who were invited from far and wide to the festival were also told, as was Mr. Leung, the director, that we were all to be on a bi-partisan panel - a panel open to the ‘establishment,’ and its critics (those you cleverly call ‘denialists,’ without regard to their humanity, actual politics or points of view). We were told that we were to be part of an open discussion about some the controversial statements revealed in the film.
So, when your ‘expert’ arrived on the scene to ‘debunk’ the movie - a film that had been accepted to a festival - we who were in the film, thought we were going to be part of an open discussion. After all, this would have been the same consideration shown to your ‘expert,’ who was also in the film.
But he was given center stage, the rest were excluded and, to use your word, ’silenced.’ The room was shut down, Kuritzkes began a lecture-cum-soliloquy, and wouldn’t pause or break for questions, until forced to by the moderator.
I’m sure you left those details out for some good reason. But the questions raised by the film remain...

And here you can read the South African Panel report, to which Christian Fiala contributed: AIDS Panel Report, March 2001

The central basis of the split was, in the opinion of the author of this report, not based on deeply entrenched ideological positions or blind passion. The split was instead based on fundamental disagreement on the interpretation of the scientific and clinical data and evidence on the cause and progression of AIDS. It was also apparent during the deliberations that there were many legitimate scientific questions to which scientific research has not yet generated answers. In the latter case, no amount of debate between adversaries can manufacture an answer. The only way of generating the answers is to carry out proper scientific investigations. An example of such a question is by what specific mechanism does the HIV induce the depletion of CD4 cells? ...

A little addition: Controversy lingers after premiere of Nashville director's AIDS documentary

Apparently Dr. Jeanne Bergman of "" have shouted "You're a fucking liar!" at one panelist after another screening. I wish I could be there to feel the atmosphere and observe all the interactions more closely...

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I'll work on my echolocation skills if I can find some time:

A better auditory perception would be useful even for those who can see.

Here's a description of how Daniel Kish experiences the world:

Here's a training guide and more videos and stuff:

UPDATE: Information from a recent scientific study on echolocation: "Physical Analysis of Several Organic Signals for Human Echolocation: Oral Vacuum Pulses"

From my perspective the reporting of this paper in the media was generally quite annoying, as if the scientists actually invented echolocation or something like that. I reacted HERE.

Part of it below:

I find it a bit disturbing that people say that it has now been "shown that human beings can develop echolocation". Specifically it is being referred to as if scientists have made a new discovery or validated an old unproven claim.

I think this indicates that people internalized the concept of science as the only reliable authority or something like that, and they won't even believe in their own eyes or trust common sense unless scientists publish something to support a certain view. Because it was already completely evident that people could use echolocation. I mean people were already using it. Didn't those people exist prior to the publishing of this article? Why did it take a few scientists to publish a paper on this topic for many other scientific minds to start talking about this properly?

This situation bothers me. For it shows that we're not relying on rational, individual thinking but "science" has become more like an authoritarian practice, religion-like in a way.


I think this is a small symptom of a big problem, that's why I made a big deal about it. For those who were curious enough the truth was evident out there. Unless you have an obsession with conspiracy theories or you're a peer-review worshiper you shouldn't have any reason to doubt all the evidence available online... I guess my problem is that many times I've seen people refer to peer-review as if it's a perfect, holy process, that they seem to have lost touch with the reality. Blinded by peer-review, sounds about right. And similarly, the problems with peer-review are also often overlooked. Sure there is always room for doubt, but it shouldn't always necessitate peer-reviewed publications for people to take things seriously, and the room for doubt shouldn't magically become tiny because of an excessively-praised, problematic process...

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Critical Look at the Holy Book of the Modern Lemmings

Take a look at this Wikipedia talk page if you never did:

It has always been an illuminative page, but I'm pointing it out now because I noticed that the Wikipedia admin named Natalie Erin wrote something that I consider especially unwise. There is a discussion about whether or not it is really neutral to refer to those who do not agree with the HIV/AIDS theory as "AIDS denialists". Of course the anti-scientific zealots over at Wikipedia ridiculously insist that it's a perfectly objective term, I'm sure similar discussions take place with many other scientific viewpoints which are considered "fringe" by the majority of recognized authorities.

But anyway, what happened was that the "denialist" wiki user named Haytham2 wrote what you can read below when he faced dogmatic resistance to neutrality from others at Wikipedia. They were saying that since it is so common to call the skeptics "denialists" then it belongs to their "encyclopedia". Haytham2 responds:
...Ah, if only the internet were around a couple centuries ago, where Wiki would (apparently?) have a heading called "[The N word]" and "common usage" would be invoked, racist theories defended on the [the N word] article, because that was the scientific consensus of the day, and all would shrug and go on upholding the status quo of the day. Consensus One, Truth Zero. Do you get my point? Intentional demonization of one side of a debate is antiscientific, to say the least, and certainly not consistent with any kind of respect for knowledge. "AIDS denialist" is in use in AIDS orthodoxy, a term specifically invented by that faction to libelously evoke holocaust deniers, rather than be a descriptor, where it fails miserably since literally no one "denies" AIDS (another intentional muddying of the waters by HIV theory proponents). I am new to Wiki and apologize for my slowness in getting that Wiki is not reflective of truth but rather of consensus, which has a long history of making tragic and fatal mistakes, and requires much less rigor, hence anyone can sign on here and take part. I assumed an encyclopedia would strive for truth rather than consensus. That was my mistake. This is why I suspected that this would be a waste of time for me, since I noticed an alarming lack of rigor in some Wiki articles I've seen. I will leave you to your consensus, as I see libel is all part of any groupthink/consensus ideology, and apparently none of us will profit from my posts calling anyone out on this...

Haytham2 (talk) 09:05, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Then Natalie, the glorious defender of justice, responds:

Yes, actually, we would [defend racist theories, the usage of the N word and we would uphold the racist status quo back then because of the scientific consensus of the day and because it was common usage]. If Wikipedia had existed in 1750 its coverage of race would have reflected the racism of the day. Why is that so hard to believe? If you ever get the chance, pick up an encyclopedia from 200+ years ago and check out their article on, say, the Congo...

Natalie (talk) 12:46, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

That right there is all that you need to know about Wikipedia... Logically the situation would be similar for Wikipedia in Hitler's Germany: The content of Wikipedia would directly reflect the views of the Nazis, no Wikipedia rule can prevent that.

And I just replied to Natalie with this:

Natalie said: "If Wikipedia had existed in 1750 its coverage of race would have reflected the racism of the day. Why is that so hard to believe?"

Unfortunately it's not hard to believe at all, it is very obvious. The point is just that it is incredibly depressing, and it makes it even more so that people like you think that this is normal and this is the way Wikipedia should function. Unless you're a racist, you directly admit that according to your rules Wikipedia inevitably must be an unreliable information source when it comes to certain things, and you even defend this situation as if this is the way it ideally should be. It's fascinating and just sad how blind you are to your insanity...

Sadunkal (talk) 11:50, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
Don't know if anyone will reply to that.

UPDATE: Heh, funny... Another wikipedia administrator actually removed what I said from the talk page and warned me:
Please stop. If you continue to use talk pages such as Talk:AIDS denialism for inappropriate discussion, you may be blocked. MastCell Talk 16:29, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

Apart from that, there is nowadays a WikiProject Alternative Views:

This project aims to improve Wikipedia's coverage of significant "alternative views"—those theories, hypotheses, conjectures, and speculations which, though notable, lack widespread acceptance, and which may challenge a "dominant view" which does have such acceptance.
But it is completely meaningless as you can see from their discussion section about "AIDS denialism":

...Due to the nature of Wikipedia, our coverage will naturally be biased towards the mainstream point of view and naming conventions. This wikiproject exists to help ensure minority views are covered appropriately within the rules of Wikipedia. While this means making sure significant and notable minority views receive proper coverage, it is not meant as a counterweight to mainstream views, intended to correct gaps in reliable source coverage, nor correct any great wrongs.
... says another Wikipedia administrator named Vassyana.* And great wrongs better remain great wrongs. It would perhaps be more ethical if such statements were directly visible on the front page of Wikipedia so that people know what Wikipedia is really about when it comes to scientific controversies and the like:

Just another tool for maintaining the status quo, nothing more.

*: They apparently pay a lot of attention to ensure that only those who are biased towards the mainstream can become administrators on Wikipedia. If you're objective you're out.

EXTRA: See also this here: Beware the Internet: “reviews”, Wikipedia, and other sources of misinformation

Take a look at the comments over there too. A link to this article was posted for example:
Psychologist finds Wikipedians grumpy and closed-minded

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Overwhelming Evidence" ?

What does overwhelm one may not overwhelm the other.

So it makes more sense to focus on the quality and the relevance of the evidence instead of its volume or mass or whatever is perceived to be so overwhelming about it.

This thought was inspired by what I had to deal with here:
The Australian "Skeptics" and the Perth Group

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Little Zackie Achmat

I was too lazy to read this earlier, still didn't actually:

But after I took a look at this:

...I found this part pretty interesting:

...By the way, let Achmat tell you in his own words what awful things ARVs did to him when he briefly tried them, and the toxic effects he concealed for several weeks because ‘I can’t let Manto win and I can’t let Mbeki win’ – which is to say be shown right in their warnings against ARVs by his own pitiful example; I quote him in my Draft Bill of Indictment filed at the International Criminal Court at The Hague in 2007 (a serious joke) posted on the TIG website. ...
So I took a look at the first document above and it does indeed look interesting.

With the above section Anthony Brink is referencing this news story:
Aids, ARVs and the activist

And yes, referring to the side effects of the "AIDS" drugs, Zackie Achmat does really say:
Going into my fifth month I started feeling a sensation in my feet. At first, I dismissed it, thinking I'd done something at the gym. The second week it was clear to me and I thought, 'I can't let Manto win and I can't let Thabo win', and I kept quiet for three more whole weeks.
Originally he says Thabo instead of Mbeki... But that's rather insignificant and irrelevant.

Anyway, I consider this evidence that Achmat and his influential TAC is ready to be dishonest whenever it might seem necessary and affordable so that they can feel like they're the ones who "win", without considering what that may cost to the rest of humanity. It's obvious that the priority is to "win", instead of finding out the best way to deal with what's called "AIDS" in South Africa. It's sad. I wonder what they're trying to "win" really...

What may be more sad can best be described by this quote from Camus, as used by Brink in another document on
The evil that is in this world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I'm pretty sure that I lost my sketchbook/journal, and all that there was within.

It was the most interesting and informative object about my past, and something that I was hoping would inspire or entertain me in the future too. It was pretty thick, I probably started with it about 8 years ago, which is more than 1/3 of my life at the present. I was rarely adding content to it, but there were still many personal notes, designs, drawings etc. in it. Many memories, many thoughts. In short it meant a lot to me. I do feel kind of... down. But it'll pass.

It's a good thing that we can store information digitally nowadays.

In a way this actually freed me from my past and forced me to focus more intensely on my future I guess. I can't rely on my past creations, must keep creating.