UPDATE: Since publishing this post, the thread from Rethinking AIDS’ Facebook page that is mentioned below has been “unpublished”, therefore, I am making a copy of it available here.
Yesterday’s post has received more attention and comments than anything I’ve written in quite some time, and the traffic is still pushing the limits on my shared hosting account. The post even made an appearance in the Rethinking AIDS group on Facebook late in the day, posted by Scott Austin.
Austin’s warning introductory comment shows just how easily people can jump to conclusions and misunderstand each other.
be aware “they” (those who want our message silenced) think they’ve found chink in our armor, now they are after David. MOTIVE. it is imperative that we understand there is a virus in our midst, thin about it…your fb RA friend may not be your friend.
I can only assume that the “they” Austin refers to is me, since I’m the only person in yesterday’s post who called for David Crowe’s head. To assert that I am part of some organized cabal is more paranoid nonsense being created by an over-active imagination.
At the same time, I must admit that the number of people who have privately confided to me that Crowe is the single biggest obstacle to progress in the AIDS dissident movement is not inconsequential, either. If only more of them were willing to be public with their opinions.
I have never asserted that a virus is the sole and sufficient cause of “AIDS”, but then again I have also never stated emphatically that is not possible, either. I content myself with being able to say: “I don’t know,” a position that is unsatisfactory to some in the dissident camp.
David Crowe, who has been missing in action at the group until yesterday, ignores the debacle of the previous days and tries to deflect attention and criticism toward me, instead. This is a pattern that can be seen over and over again in the history of AIDS dissidence since Crowe came on the scene. He muddles and mucks up the work of others, and then blames them when the effort fails. Nothing is ever his fault, despite his role and position as the apparent “leader” of the movement.
The good news though, is that members of the group have so far refused to follow their leader, Crowe, who attempts to divert the thread by discussing me, something I have seen happen in past threads discussing posts I have published. Rather, members of the group stayed more-or-less focused on the topic of the dilemma facing John Strangis and his family, as well as some acknowledgements that #2 leader, Elizabeth Ely, really did leave the rails a few days ago with her own reaction.
This is an exciting development for me to see. I did not write the post because I hate David Crowe, which I’ll get to in a moment. I wrote the post because I felt it was worth taking a risk to try to halt the continued slide into denialism and dogmatism in that group and the larger organization called Rethinking AIDS.
We cannot afford to exclude from our conversations people who hold different points of view than ourselves, as was becoming the norm for the RA Facebook group. It is enough that we agree to question, challenge and really “rethink” the mainstream theory that a new, sneaky pathogen that defies electron microscopy for detection suddenly burst forth in Africa and gay men in the West, causing this new disease that is really a collection of old, rarely seen diseases.
The questions about whether or not HIV exists, or is capable of causing AIDS remain. AIDS “rethinkers” had better get used to the idea that dissidents have—not surprisingly—failed to prove a negative.
Credit is due to Strangis for his willingness to rejoin the discussion there and defend his decision without sacrificing his dissident points of view about HIV or AIDS. Unlike me, Strangis is adorable and lovable and a very hard person to hate or stay mad at. RA will be stronger for having him on their side, despite the seeming contradictions of his actions. Contradictions that some of us face every day.
This shift in attitudes at RA following Ely’s departure was obvious. Richard Jannaccio commented to Strangis:
Although I disagree with your decision…, I do agree that you and your fiancee are adults, better informed than most, and this was your decision to make. So, for that reason, i personally accept it and urge others to do the same. When the dust settles, there may be a lesson or two for all of us…
Yes, Richard, we can learn from each other, even if our personal choices prove to be mistakes. Mistakes are great teachers.
This is why I wrote yesterday’s post. Time will tell whether the RA Facebook group resumes its previous drift towards a dogmatic and cult-like personality, or becomes more open-minded about things we do not yet fully understand.
Speaking of misunderstandings, David Crowe is doing his best to perpetuate one about me. Perhaps he’s figured out that I cannot respond in his group, because I left years ago and refuse to “rejoin” the group. I prefer the old-fashioned forums that archive information and can be easily searched, like QA. In the same comment thread he dismissed my post by writing:
The author of the blog, Jonathan Campbell has hated me since I told him he was crazy to restart ARVs solely on the basis of a low CD4 cell count.
It’s hard to know whether Crowe is trying to be intentionally slippery by confusing my name with Jonathan Campbell’s, but I can’t dismiss that possibilty either, given his history of duplicity to cover up his own fuck ups and protect his name at all costs. As a former political candidate myself, I do understand it is in the nature of politicians to do whatever is necessary to protect your name, even if it means sacrificing one’s integrity and credibility.
I know David Crowe knows my name. He and I have exchanged more than a hundred emails over the years. Crowe used to publish some of my blog posts on his ARAS (Alberta Reappraising AIDS) distribution list*, and was especially fond of the ones I wrote taking J Todd DeShong to task, for example. As long as one agrees with David, he can be a helluva nice guy. He just doesn’t play so well with others who dare to think differently than himself, and he is a master at manipulating terms to disparage his opponents while appearing to be the victim. Just ask the folks at The Perth Group.
For the record, I do not oppose David because I hate him. I object to the undue influence his dogmatic opinion has had on the AIDS dissident community because of his position as president of RA. I am also tired of his dishonest representation of my position regarding CD4 cell counts. He twists my words and story around to sound as if I got a single “low” CD4 test result and jumped right up on the AIDS drug bandwagon.
Nothing could be further from the truth, but perhaps David hasn’t read my own treatises on the subject. I mean, after all, he doesn’t seem able to even remember my name.
For the record, one of the first comprehensive articles I wrote, trying to counter David Crowe’s assertion that CD4 counts are always meaningless was Who need t-cells, anyway? It was published December 30, 2011. I then wrote a long dissertation for Terry Michael, who simply could not fathom why I tested my CD4 counts so frequently, suggesting the only disease afflicting me was “fixation”. That post is called Confessions of a heretic AIDS dissident, and in it I reiterated my stated position regarding CD4 counts (emphasis added, because Crowe and others seem to have trouble understanding the subtle but essential differences in definitions of “low”).
I may eventually be proven wrong about the significance of declining trends and extremely low t-cell counts, but dissident science has not yet built a good enough case for dismissing them out-of-hand. The risk is too great. We’ve both lost too many friends and loved ones to not want to know what is and is not good advice regarding our health. As long as there is doubt, I choose to err on the side of caution.
You see, David Crowe is not behaving very “scientifically”, as one might expect the President of a scientific organization like Rethinking AIDS to do. He is attacking the messenger, rather than the message. He is acting more like a PR man and politician than a rational intellectual who is willing to discuss the differences of opinions. I’m fed up with Crowe’s attempts to discredit me with his continual jabs at me as a person, rather than tasking my ideas and positions as the intellectual he considers himself to be.
Note to David: when are you going to respond to the substance of the articles I’ve written about CD4 cell counts, rather than our supposed failed love affair? I’ve countered your own writings about the insignificance of declining and extremely low CD4 counts. Now the ball is in your court to debunk my position.
* Yes, I know, I’ve also lost track of how many dissident websites David controls these days, myself. He’s a phenomenal one man show, yet when anything goes wrong, it is always someone else’s fault and he doesn’t have time to implement anyone else’s new ideas.