Suspension of Curiosity leads to Serious Adverse Events
Analysis of and excerpt from Celia Farber’s book on the history of AIDS
Science requires curiosity. It requires honesty, openness, thoroughness, and a deep enough humility to search for your own errors, and to state them publicly when you discover them. But the government, in its role as the primary funder of science, is driving scientists to become less curious, less open, less thorough, and less humble. The system in which American science has existed for decades is antithetical to actually doing science.
In 2006, Celia Farber wrote Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS. It has just been republished by Chelsea Green Publishing. On page 23, Farber writes:
“The NIH maintains tight control over the ideas that emanate from U.S. government science, and that control extends to the media, who are rewarded and punished in accordance with their suspension of curiosity.”
Curiosity is the linchpin of science. What if? How does it work? Why is it that way? We suspend our curiosity at our peril. Generating all possible hypotheses, even those that seem ludicrous at first glance—this is the purview of science. If we are to understand what is true, then we must explore all the possibilities. What if the world isn’t as we think it is—wouldn’t you like to know? I would.
What we believe is sometimes handed to us in the guise of science—here is the answer. Once we all agree on that answer, it can seem crazy, dangerous even, to question what is now understood. Obviously the Spanish Flu of 1918 was unavoidably fatal to young people. Or was it?1 Obviously mRNA vaccines against Covid are safe and effective. Or are they? Obviously HIV causes AIDS. Or does it? What is the evidence, and how thoroughly have the alternative hypotheses been investigated?
Farber’s powerful book addresses that last topic, along with several other questions pertaining to AIDS. Simultaneously, it reveals the playbook by which the government and media suppress scientific curiosity, while enforcing orthodoxy and compliance on a largely unwitting populace.
One of the arrows in the quiver of compliance is to make those who question the orthodoxy out to be an enemy of the people. Those who question the consensus are literally killing people. They should be ashamed of themselves. If they don’t have the common sense and decency to shut up, then it is our obligation to do it for them2.
Those are obvious tactics, and blunt. Some are more subtle. Doctor Peter Duesberg, the loudest and most persistent defender of the idea that HIV does not cause AIDS, was indeed told that he was killing people, then systematically removed from polite society and mainstream science—he was denied grants, grad students, and publications. But he was also pilloried in part for suggesting that choices people were making might be contributing to the progression of the disease. Is it possible that having sex with hundreds or thousands of strangers, or doing a lot of street drugs, puts your body under greater stress, and makes you more susceptible to illness, than if you did not do such things? How dare he.
Kary Mullis, the scientist who won the Nobel Prize for his invention of PCR, was outraged by Peter Duesberg’s treatment at the hands of mainstream scientific institutions. As he told Farber, “Peter has been abused seriously by the scientific establishment, to the point where he can’t even do any research. Not only that, but his whole life is pretty much in disarray because of this, and it is only because he has refused to compromise his scientific moral standards. There ought to be some goddamn private foundation in the country, that would say, ‘Well, we’ll move in where the NIH dropped off. We’ll take care of it. You just keep right on saying what you’re saying, Peter. We think you’re an asshole, and we think you are wrong, but you’re the only dissenter, and we need one, because it’s science, it’s not religion.’”3
Mullis continues: “I am waiting to be convinced that we’re wrong. I know it ain’t going to happen. But if it does, I will tell you this much—I will be the first person to admit it.”
That is what true scientists sound like. And that is why science, as done by scientists, is the route by which we attain an ever more accurate model of the world in which we live. False consensus and arrogance are replacing curiosity and humility, and this is how science dies.
As AIDS emerged into human bodies and consciousness and became a global phenomenon, the following patterns emerged, as reported by Farber in Serious Adverse Events.4
The nature of the pathogen causing the disease was loudly agreed upon by the medical and public health establishment soon after the disease emerged. Those who disagreed with the conclusion were mocked, silenced, erased.
The progression of the disease—which we were assured was unprecedented in its spread, and inexorably deadly—was used to instill fear, and quell dissent.
The data from which both death counts and case counts are generated were suspect at best. Many such “data” were based entirely on models, which is to say, they sprung from the assumptions and ideas in people’s heads, rather than from actual, measured, empirical data.
The science that was used to justify draconian measures was abominable. In the words of one researcher who dug deep into AIDS research, “it’s hard to believe what kind of non-science they got away with.”
Those who asked whether everyone who had “died of AIDS” had merely died were called denialists. While on a tour of a hospital ward in Côte d’Ivoire in Africa in 1992, Farber observed that patients “had TB, malaria, meningitis. They had wasting syndrome, diarrhea, fevers, and vomiting. If they were HIV-positive, they were told they had AIDS. If not, then they had whatever they had.”
The tests for evidence of infection were bad—being both subjective in their interpretation, and unreliable even when standards were held firm.
Pharmaceutical companies created expansive and lush installations at major conferences, replete with plush seating and large screens that ran high-production videos which oscillated between two messages: Be afraid; be very afraid. And: Our product is the only path out of the darkness.
Money, rather than science, drove decision making around AIDS. As Farber writes of the business of AIDS, “it is like a global corporation, and what it produces and sells is primarily fear.”
Toxic medications were considered the only legitimate response to the pathogen for a long time. They were recommended even for asymptomatic people. They were pushed even on asymptomatic pregnant women.
The efficacy of said toxic medications was heralded by public health officials—including one Dr. Anthony Fauci, already the head of the NIAID in the mid-1980’s—on the basis of vaguely alluded to “research” that was not published, the only record of which was a short press release. This was true of AZT, and then later, a similar playbook emerged for protease inhibitors, which received FDA approval without any clinical evidence that they were effective.
Those who refused the toxic medications were out of “treatment compliance.” African Americans were particularly suspect of the new treatments, and thus particularly likely to be out of treatment compliance. Some parents who refused to give their at-risk children the toxic medications had their children taken from them because of their failure to comply.
If you had the disease, at the worst part of the epidemic, there was no treatment other than with one of the toxic medications. There was nothing you could do. The messaging was: You are not in control of your own life, or your own health. Be sick, and hope for the best. There is nothing we can do for you now.
Sound familiar? To me, too.
Epilogue from Serious Adverse Events, by Celia Farber
The battleground for the war on AIDS is the human body; those who advocate conventional AIDS drug regimens share a belief that any degree of destruction to the human body is still preferable to allowing the virus to go unchecked. It is the virus, and the virus alone, that is the “enemy.” In AIDS, as in military wars, death is ennobled by the necessity of battle, the virulence of the enemy. The now twenty-six drugs, in four classes, that have been marketed to tackle the elusive, endlessly cunning virus are described as the armamentarium in this war. In addition, there are at least thirty drugs that have been developed to offset the side effects of anti-HIV drugs.
The hysteria-laden question of whether anti-HIV drugs are “life-saving,” as the AIDS orthodoxy holds, or “deadly,” as the HIV dissidents claim, is unanswerable in the currently available language, which was blunted and rendered incoherent by political forces as early as 1981. Language is the only interface between phenomena and our comprehension of them, and I have grown weary of being forced to use AIDS rhetoric that is itself inaccurate and loaded. First of all, lives can’t really be “saved”—they can only be extended. To prove that a life has indeed been extended, one must first know, with absolute certainty, that without intervention the life would have ended. In order to know that, one must know the natural history of the disease, and then one must examine the face of the untreated population.
But whatever treatments the future might hold, it feels as if we’ve already been there, and now we need to get back—“back to basic science,” as leading AIDS researchers have been chanting for years. I once pressed the editor of The Lancet, a leading British medical journal, to explain exactly what basic science might mean. He said that, for one thing, it would mean recognizing that we “have been forced to admit certain things . . . one of them is that we don’t know the true cause of immunodeficiency.”
But each nodule of this retrovirus has been spliced and examined in detail, using the most elaborate techniques known to humans. AIDS research has been a dizzying odyssey of high-tech research so elaborate you’d think it must be guided by some higher intelligence. And yet nothing happens, year after heartbreaking year. No cure, no vaccine, no nothing. What we have is a vast sea of data—diagnostic tests measuring shadows of cells we never even knew we had—but we still don’t know why person A gets sick and person B does not. Official estimates are now saying that at least 5 percent of all HIV-positive people will never develop AIDS. Research is also showing that many people get exposed to HIV but never develop antibodies because they have a strong enough “cellular immune response” to keep the virus in check. Surely it’s worth trying to figure out why.
AIDS itself is already a “futuristic” phenomenon in the sense of technology backfiring—casting off a huge cloud of information that tends to obfuscate rather than illuminate. There is also the Orwellian sense of an invasive, if well-intentioned, new social order being imposed that tries to save humanity from itself. But AIDS is so much more than just AIDS. It’s so much more than the sum of its parts: its statistics, its death toll, its newly infected. It’s so much more than its thirty symptoms, that is, to most of us who live with the luxury of not actually having it. AIDS now has a twenty-five-year history dense with, above all, death and loss but also terror, strife and drama, intrigue and hysteria. Hopes, phony cures, violence, fraud, but also incredible acts of compassion and sacrifice.
If the early years of AIDS were characterized by a near-total surrender to the draconian, AZT-centric mandates of the health establishment, we are now entering an era of scientific glasnost. In 1984, a deafening, global alarm went off, warning each and every last one of us that we could be next—that AIDS would wipe out humanity, that the Black Death would seem pale by comparison. Today it has become official that there is no “heterosexual AIDS explosion” in the West. According to original predictions, AIDS was supposed to have decimated, with equal impact, all sections of the population in the U.S., and virtually annihilated Africa. In 1986, Jonathan Mann, then director of the World Health Organization (WHO), estimated there would be 100 million HIV infections worldwide by 1990. He was off by over 90 million—in 1990, the WHO said the figure was only eight to ten million. Estimates for the U.S. were also in the millions and proved to be equally wrong. Gene Antonio—in his terror book The AIDS Cover-up?—predicted that 64 million Americans would be dead or dying by the end of 1990.
As AIDS grew in the 1980s into a global, multibillion-dollar juggernaut of diagnostics, drugs, and activist organizations whose sole target in the fight against AIDS was HIV, something got lost. It is hard to say what exactly, but one can point to loosening standards: Moves away from good clinical practice and the quick approval of untested drugs are some of the most alarming changes we’ve seen. But the history of the AIDS epidemic has also seen the emergence of an exclusive attitude toward treatment and research where dissent isn’t tolerated and the prevailing attitude is that anything goes in the fight against “the virus.”
Truth is, AIDS is spreading not along the lines of sexual activity but along economic lines. Poverty in America is now the single greatest “risk factor” for AIDS. In populations where not only drugs but malnutrition and lack of health care are problems, we have a perfect setting for the disease. And this of course raises the old question: What is AIDS? To what extent is it viral, to what extent associated with living conditions? We have been vastly motivated to explore the viral aspects of AIDS—and all but thoroughly disinterested in exploring the sociological ones.
Which brings me to the core point: The future of AIDS is that it is no longer an equal-opportunity sexually transmitted disease but a social catastrophe. Socially disadvantaged women have already been used as guinea pigs (and that is no exaggeration) for very risky experiments such as taking AZT and nevirapine during pregnancy. This is already, in a way, futuristic: Giving carcinogenic and mutagenic drugs to women while they are pregnant in the hope of reducing viral transmission by a few percentages.
What next? One AIDS researcher I interviewed in 1995 said, “AIDS won’t be perceived as a disease of gay men in twenty years. It will be a disease of impoverished drug addicts and you won’t hear much about it.” The quickfix questions—Will there ever be a cure? Will there ever be a vaccine?—are sprung from, and only apply to, other diseases with far simpler causes, like polio or gonorrhea. AIDS, by contrast, has spawned some of the greatest research debates in the history of medicine. Perhaps the single greatest cliché of AIDS is the idea that there is not enough money in it to find a cure. There may be too much money in it to find a cure. And besides, “cure” is the wrong word. “Resolution” is a better one.
But the multibillion-dollar research agendas die hard. Ultimately, the future of AIDS lies squarely at the feet of a research establishment paralyzed by hubris. If AIDS is ever to be solved, in all its infinite mystery, the very language has to change from the expansionist dogma we’ve seen so far to a softer, more flexible, less defensive stance. Call it “AIDS research with a human face.” Dress it up, tear it down, start over. That’s science at its best.
On March 23 of this year, the outstanding publishing house, Chelsea Green, republished Celia Farber’s 2006 book. I encourage all who are curious about their world, and interested in becoming more informed, to buy and read this book.
Read it, and become better at recognizing patterns, at seeing tricks and tactics when next they show up. Read it, and remain curious.
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See Starko 2009. Salicylates and pandemic influenza mortality, 1918–1919 pharmacology, pathology, and historic evidence. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 49(9): 1405-1410 (as hot linked in the main text). Also, The Greatest Lie Told During Covid, by gato malo, in bad cattitude, 3-8-23. And DarkHorse Livestream #165, which aired on 3-11-23.
Such egregious and crude tactics were used frequently by supposedly left-leaning pundits and other public figures during Covid. It’s a tried but true approach to shutting down curiosity and the pursuit of truth, and often involves first convincing the censors that they are the ones obviously and inherently on the side of truth and light.
As quoted on page 131 of Serious Adverse Events.
All of these are reported on by Farber in Serious Adverse Events. To reduce clutter, while allowing interested readers to find the sources within her text, here are some of the page numbers, from the 2023 Chelsea Green republication, associated with the claims reported here: Nature of the pathogen – chapters 1 & 2. Quell dissent – 65-66. The data - 97-98. The science – 104. Denialists – 99, 100, 113. Tests– 97, 101-103. Pharma – 41. Money – 158. Toxic meds – 79. Efficacy – 74, 145. Treatment compliance – 148, 165, 147, 167.