Jensen on Crowe's strategic genius

(David Crowe, president of RA, vs. St Anselm, medieval theologian: Jensen pits St Anselm and his ontological proof against Crowe's strategic genius. Crowe loses.)  

 

Answering Liam Scheff and Torsten Engelbrecht's call for a 'televised and YouTubed' debate between Duesberg and the Perth Group concerning the 'HIV' existence issue, Claus Jensen wrote on 19 January 2010:

Torsten, Liam,

While I agree with you, please remember we have two parallel issues, or rather we have an exceedingly annoying bastard offspring of the primary scientific issue:

1) The scientific debate

2) The ridiculous strategic/PR/Legal debate

The fact is nobody, that is nobody, by proxy or otherwise, dares enter into a real debate with the Perth Group on THE issue. (We have seen some, it turns out rather lily-livered, attempts to challenge them on the toxic semen side-issue.)

Duesberg has played his joker's hand lately by stating that HIV is not found in the (version of the) human genome kept at the Sanger Institute, and that settles the issue as far as he is concerned. 

This is hardly an improvement on Duesberg's Continuum Award argument,* and the fact that he claims the question of what all those magic mushroom mutations recorded in Los Alamos represent is settled by such a simplistic argument is just a funny way of announcing retirement. Anyone who thinks differently would also have voted Bush in for a third term.

The fact is, on the pure science, Duesberg has no active supporters - certainly none willing to step forward. So what's the need for a debate?

The otherwise redundant scientific debate has become a necessity because some extremely clever people have decided that the general public is too stupid to grasp the simple, straightforward arguments of the Perth Group.

These people are convinced that the public consciousness, including judges and juries, is not sufficiently evolved to accommodate the idea that HIV might not exist - at least not in the form they have been brought up to believe in.

According to the master analogy** of these Neo-duesbergians, about parachuting into a medieval French village (not just any old village but a French one to boot, imagine that!) to proclaim that God doesn't exist, it is better to say "God surely exists my friends, exactly as you conceive of Him, long beard and all, except He is not omnipotent - and he doesn't really think homosexual acts are an abomination".

This is the argument they want to put up against St. Anselm in the medieval village of their missionary imagination: A virus that exists, just as described, with all its attributes, just as described, except it's harmless - even to homosexuals.

Accordingly, the Neo-duesbergians have decided in their little, private strategy rooms that Duesberg is a dissident sage for having grasped that the scientific issue must not be resolved at any cost, because the pitchfork-carrying truth will kill us all like a medieval French (yes French!) lynch mob.

If it were not for these extremely clever people, we wouldn't need televised debate, and we wouldn't have an unresolvable conflict of fuzzy, amateurish strateidiocy on our hands.

Most importantly, Brink and friends wouldn't have to constantly put up new, devastating analyses of the gaping flaws in the Neo-duesbergian strategies.  

C

*Was it not the early Duesberg and his oncogenic colleagues' business to find "exogenous viruses" first, then discover their "homologues" in the genome of the host organism? Thus, Duesberg has alighted on an argument he claims is capable of disproving HIV's endogenous existence, which is supposed to indirectly prove its exogenous existence, although it could in no wise, not even established retrovirological method in practice, sow doubt about HIV's exogenous existence. Duesberg's new argument for HIV's exogenous existence is the life-blood of his old, discarded retrovirus-oncogene theory.

So where's the hypothetical argument to disprove HIV's exogenous existence to be found? Nowhere of course, which is why we can enjoy Duesberg's clever sophistry, but are the greater fools for taking it seriously. In science, we are allowed to ask after direct proofs, as well as the universal standards of those direct proofs - at least those of us who are not persuaded by St. Anselm's ontological argument.

** It's an issue of strategy more than science. I concede that there is no evidence for the existence of HIV (defined as an exogenous, pathogenic virus). But my analogy is someone parachuted into a medieval French village arguing that God does not exist. You probably wouldn't survive 10 minutes. You might be able to argue that the Catholic church is corrupt much more successfully. And after some time people might realize that the idea that God has been proven to exist is based on faith, and that nobody can know whether it's true or, more importantly, what God truly believes about any particular issue.

So, strategically, does it make sense to go into a court room and argue that HIV does not exist, therefore the case against is a fraud. And the judge says "Nonsense, I have read about it in magazines and newspapers, there are millions of scientific papers about HIV, I have a lineup of experts here who say that it does exist, so get lost!" (David Crowe)

 

Jensen commented further on the quality of Crowe's thinking in a note to Sabine Kalitzkus on the 24th:

 

Sabine,

Even if HIV were a matter of belief, there is something disproportional about thinking of this belief being as strong as the belief in God.

DC's analogy identifies the existence of HIV as the foundation of modern science. Assuming that modern science has taken the place of our belief in God, I don't think it would perish if the idea of HIV does - although it would be the beginning of the end of the virological paradigm. 

But the major flaw in the analogy is to think that you can somehow conceive of God/HIV as existing without their essential attributes. St Anselm says, loosely paraphrased, that God exists because we have conceived of him as Perfection, and non-existence is non-perfection. But once existence is established all His other attributes are also established as a matter of logical necessity. 

That is perhaps why God tells Moses (according to some translations) "I am that/who, I am". Simply by being (conceived of) He of necessity exists (as conceived of). God is the only being who comes into existence out of his own idea; the First Cause unto itself. Now all that remains is to give the idea transcendent (independent of human thought) existence, and that transcendence is part of the idea itself, now an Idea in the platonic sense. St Anselm was no dolt.

Crowe is a dolt, however. Although he is a reasonably clever fellow, he simply doesn't possess the necessary qualifications to navigate the gray zone between belief, logic and psychology. But worst of all, he is blissfully ignorant of his shortcomings. If HIV were made of the same kind of belief as God, how could it exist and lose any of its other attributes? HIV simply wouldn't be HIV anymore. It would be a completely different idea.

In a courtroom, as you mention, what is the point in fighting a belief with an accommodation of the belief? Science/logic kills belief, and it must do so at the root. We have seen what happens when you merely try to prune the weed: it sprouts afresh in all directions.

It is not all that easy to construct a really profound analogy, maybe that is why Crowe strays from God/HIV as non-cause to corruption of the Catholic Church. Crowe's analogy suggests that we shouldn't mention HIV at all, but confine ourselves to exposing the general corruption of Big Pharma. We see the analogy is again based on HIV being the god of Big Pharma.

One can certainly agree that it is important to expose general corruption in order to make the dissident HIV arguments more plausible, but does Crowe also think we should use that argument in a court case about HIV transmission? 

"Your Honour, the Defence intends to argue that Big Pharma is corrupt, and that it follows from this that our client didn't infect anybody with a pathogenic virus, although s/he might have infected somebody with a passenger virus".

I think the non-sequitur would be too glaring even for Crowe to miss, so perhaps the clumsiness of Crowe's analogising  has caused us to miss something - something  hidden in plain sight in this analogy.

What if by "Catholic Church" Crowe means Pope Gallo? Was it not Borick's brilliant strategy - as Gene has repeatedly pointed out - to leave HIV be and waste half of his cross-examination of Gallo along the lines of "Corrupt-Scientist-Steals-French-Virus"? Was this not also the line pursued in the Letter to Science? 

"Your Honour, the Defence intends to argue that Pope Gallo is corrupt, and that it follows from this that our client didn't infect anybody with a pathogenic virus, although s/he might have infected somebody with a passenger virus first isolated in a French village called Institut Pasteur". 

So, navigating the aforementioned grey zone between Crowe's analogy and the subconscious of its author, I'd say Crowe is dying to tell us that he did indeed influence the strategy pursued by Borick in the Parenzee case, and that the Letter to Science stubbornly pursued the same strategy because he still thinks it's brilliant, as Gene saw right from the beginning.

Claus