'The AIDS Trap' as an illustration of the quality and level of AIDS science promoted by RA president David Crowe and his board

It's notorious among scientifically literate AIDS dissidents that David Crowe and the members of his Rethinking AIDS board are a bunch of scientific retards. The point is richly illustrated by the saga of the RA brochure 'The AIDS Trap', aptly described in a private note by the Perth Group's Val Turner as 'second grade primary school pathetic'.

On 7 April 2009 the Perth Group emailed RA President David Crowe, copying many AIDS dissidents in.

We recently came across a brochure called "The AIDS Trap". In the second paragraph it is stated "This brochure is sponsored by Rethinking AIDS, an association of more than 2,600 doctors, scientists, and other professionals". Among these 2,600 "doctors, scientists, and other professionals" listed at RA are all the members of the Perth Group.

The ideas promoted in this brochure do no reflect the scientific views of the Perth Group. Hence, we ask that you put a notice at the RA website emphasising this fact and alter the brochure to include, in a prominent place, the words "This brochure does not reflect the scientific views of the Perth Group".

Evident from this is that in the preparation of 'The AIDS Trap' Crowe never consulted the original, most rigorous, and radical critics of the HIV theory of AIDS in the scientific community Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos and her Perth Group.

Crowe responded on the 10th:

This is just a draft and we welcome your feedback.

I will clarify that this brochure is "sponsored by" Rethinking AIDS to avoid the implication that it reflects the precise views of all 2600 members.

The purpose of the brochure is to explain to people with limited language skills some of the uncertainties about HIV testing.

Crowe wrote again on the 12th:

My apologies. The brochure already says that it is "sponsored by" Rethinking AIDS. Therefore no changes are needed to reflect the fact that no claims are being made that it precisely reflects the views of all RA members.

The closest OED definition of "sponsored" is "Financially supported or promoted; freq. of radio or television programmes, etc., having (a portion of) their expenses paid by a commercial interest in return for granting advertising space or rights."

RA will be providing website hosting, and may print some of these brochures, and will be bearing these rather minimal costs. Therefore it is appropriate to call it the "sponsor" of the brochure.

This does not mean that we are closed to suggestions to improve the brochure, we will be treating it as a work in progress once the RA PR team has completed their work on it, and it will be updated when useful suggestions are made or errors are found.

Claus Jensen commented:

David [Crowe] felt that it was unnecessary to put up any disclaimer, citing the usual endless work in progress canard, the usual insults to the intelligence of the target group, and including an edifying essay on the word "sponsored".

Turner responded to Crowe on the 21st:

In addition to whatever sponsorship you have quoted in your reply, you and by implication RA, are also sponsoring the views that are contained in the brochure that is clearly evident. Please ensure that in the brochure there is some statement that indicates that these are not the views of the Perth Group (see our previous email).

P.S. The brochure is anonymous. If it is not the RA's then who wrote it? If it is not yours then why do you welcome any feedback, in view of future corrections?

On the 24th Crowe replied:

The brochure is probably going to say that it is endorsed by the Board of Rethinking AIDS (they are still reviewing it). That makes it quite clear that it is not necessarily endorsed by other parts of RA, such as the general membership. I would not support listing people or organizations that agree with only parts of it, but if you'd like me to bring this request to the board, please let me know.

I still hope that you will contribute some comments to help improve it.

The Perth Group replied on the 28th:

According to Etienne de Harven, writing in an email dated 27th April, "Structurally, RA [Rethinking AIDS] was made of a Board of Directors of 14 members, and a group of 2600+ "Members" who all co-signed the 1991 RA founding statement". As you know, in 1991 Rethinking AIDS did not exist. De Harven's reference the "1991 RA" is in fact a reference to The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis. Somehow, these 2600 dissidents have been co-opted into Rethinking AIDS, which bears the same abbreviation as the 1991 group. 

Unless you have evidence that all 2600 "Members" agree with the views expressed by the Board of Rethinking AIDS you can only put out this brochure in the name of the Board members. In which case you should specify each member by name. Alternatively, you can honour our initial request which asks you to specify, both in the brochure and relevant websites, that these are not the views of the Perth Group.

When I taxed Crowe over his disregard for the concerns of the leading AIDS dissident scientists, he confirmed stubbornly:

I will be submitting the brochure to the board and, if approved, the pamphlet will state that it is endorsed by the board of RA.

On 23 May 2009 Crowe and RA proceeded to publish 'The AIDS Trap' under cover of a press release, 'Rethinking AIDS Releases a New Brochure on AIDS Testing', stating 'The content of the brochure has been approved by the Rethinking AIDS board of directors'.

The press release claimed:

Rethinking AIDS: The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis ("RA" or "the Group") was formed in 1991 to express the concerns of a growing number of renowned scientists and medical doctors about HIV research and the resulting human rights abuses. In 1995, by a letter published in Science, the Group called for a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against the HIV/AIDS hypothesis and recommended that critical epidemiological studies be undertaken.

Among RA's founders and key members are University of Toronto professor emeritus and former cancer researcher Dr. Etienne de Harven; Harvard microbiologist Dr. Charles Thomas; 1993 Nobel laureate for chemistry Dr. Kary Mullis; Nature/Biotechnology co-founder Dr. Harvey Bialy; University of California at Berkeley molecular biologist Dr. Peter Duesberg and the late Yale mathematician Dr. Serge Lang, both members of the National Academy of Sciences; physicist Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos of the Royal Perth Hospital in Australia; and Glasgow University professor emeritus of public health and World Health Organization consultant Dr. Gordon Stewart.

In his press release Crowe persisted in falsely claiming that his Rethinking AIDS organization and the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis, of which Papadopulos-Eleopulos had been a founding member in 1991, are one and the same; confused her Group's founding statement with a quite different letter published in 1995; and contemptuous of Papadopulos-Eleopulos's wishes that there should be no confusion about it, falsely misrepresented her as one of 'RA's founders and key members', thus deceiving readers into thinking that she was a founder and/or a key member of RA, and that as such she approved the contents of 'The AIDS Trap' and that the quality of science presented in it accorded with hers.

The Perth Group responded on 3 July:

We have read the latest version of The AIDS Trap and the accompanying press release. We do not agree with either document and have previously asked you to make this public. Including at the RA website and in the brochure itself. In our view this brochure provides incorrect and dangerous advice.

We were about to post the following on our website:

"Recently a brochure entitled "The AIDS Trap" was approved by the Rethinking AIDS Board of Directors. In the view of the Perth Group many of the claims made in this brochure and in the "Rethinking AIDS Releases a New Brochure on AIDS Testing" press release are not supported by the scientific evidence published over the past 25 years. In fact this evidence contradicts many of the statements made in this brochure. Our attention was drawn to the press release which lists Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, leader of the Perth Group, amongst "RA's founders and key members" and the interpretation that she approves the contents of both brochure and press release. The Perth Group does not agree with either of these documents."

However, before doing so we thought you might seriously consider our request once again. Especially in view of what is being touted at AIDSTruth.org. In fact, we strongly advise you to withdraw the brochure as soon as possible.

Crowe replied on the 4th with the pig-headed officiousness of the small-time party boss:

You have still not provided any details of what your concerns are, so I can't evaluate them.

You are using strong language. Not only do you disapprove of "The AIDS Trap" but you claim that the information is "dangerous".

This leaves me in a difficult situation. I have no desire to have information circulated that will harm people, yet I have no idea what aspects of the brochure you consider dangerous and on what basis.

Furthermore, I am not sure if you are referring to one or two specific points or whether large swaths of the brochure are, in your opinion, dangerous.

I believe you have a duty to supply this information. Assuming that you are correct, if we put a caveat on the brochure such as "Some RA members, including Dr. Val Turner and Eleni Eleopulos, wish to be disassociated from the information in this brochure", it still would leave the information out there which I imagine is a bigger concern for you.

Obviously I cannot withdraw the brochure just because you say it is dangerous without supplying evidence. And, even if we agree with your concerns when they are revealed, it is possible they can be rectified with minor changes to the brochure and would not require its withdrawal.

My desire is to have accurate information written in simple language and an attractive format to reach people who have no desire to review scientific documents, countering the many tons of establishment propaganda that are circulated every year. Initial response to "The AIDS Trap" has been very positive so I am anxious to hear of specific concerns quickly so that action can be taken if it is warranted.

(One notes the cell-phone businessman presuming to evaluate, accept or reject the scientific expertise of the AIDS dissident movement's leading scientists: 'even if we agree with your concerns when they are revealed'.)

In an email to Celia Farber on the 6th, copied to others, Crowe wrote:

The names of the Perth Group are not on the brochure. Only the editor and illustrator are listed there. The names of the Perth Group, along with others, are part of the standard boilerplate for RA press releases and a press release was issued to announce the availability of this brochure.

I am in favor of accepting suggestions for changes to the brochure at any time, and Martin has been very flexible on this point too. Obviously we may decide that non-critical changes are not made immediately, or not made at all. That is an issue of editorial discretion. However, if an important technical error was found in the brochure we would be bound to correct it as soon as possible.

That the Perth Group objected to Crowe's fraudulent misrepresentation of them as 'founders and key members of RA' didn't bother him; he was happy to continue telling lies about this. And that the entire brochure was a scientific abortion on multiple counts on every page never entered his stupid and ignorant head.

On 27 July the main author of 'The AIDS Trap' Martin Barnes, a retired publisher, wrote:

The AIDS Trap brochure is a work in progress and Janine and David have submitted improvements. Several small word changes they suggested have been made. Attached to this email is the latest full version pdf, and a word file of the latest version is in the body of this email below.

Please send me your suggestions for further improvements on the brochure, or your feedback on what I have done. thanks! ...

David made several small word improvements for the ad to be submitted for national publication soon. I included all those changes in this latest version as well as this big change suggested by David.

Jonathan Campbell had feedback on the brochure:

> The AIDS Trap is not well written in this regard, in retrospect; it has several places in which it can be assumed that RA believes there is a virus. This is muddled.

Martin's thoughts: In the mainstream mind HIV is a killer virus that anyone might catch. It is an object of fear, especially to someone who has tested positive. As such, its existence is not in dispute. There is no existential debate for the target readers of The AIDS Trap.

Having already been published under the fanfare of an RA press release, and in Gay Lesbian Times, it was ridiculous to claim that 'The AIDS Trap brochure was still a work in progress'.

The only mistakes found in the brochure by the two non-scientist amateurs, Crowe and Roberts, were trivial enough to be fixed with a few 'small word changes' (evidently exercising his 'final say' (as he likes to claim) as RA president, Crowe rejected some of Roberts's suggested changes).

None of the scientists on the RA board saw anything remiss with any of the brochure's 'scientific' statements.

Like Crowe, former Rethinking AIDS Group president and current RA board member David Rasnick similarly couldn't see anything wrong with it, and charged the Perth Group with being needlessly querulous:

The brochure is an appropriate and I hope effective counter to the destructive mythology that permeates peoples' lives. The brochure is intended to spark curiosity in individuals who are not scientists. If it is successful, there are (as you say) three decades of information to which individuals can turn to address any and all of their questions.

Sometimes I think you folks argue just for the sake of arguing. Forget about Rethinking AIDS. Fight the techno-war with the mainstream. When someone asks you about RA simply say we are wrong, give them a 30-page handout including references and let that be that.

One might have concluded from this sort of talk that Rasnick is a tragically dull-witted person, but no. Roberto Giraldo, like Rasnick a former president of the Rethinking AIDS Group, concurred with him both in his high opinion of 'The AIDS Trap' and in his advice for the Perth Group concerning how to conduct themselves as scientists:

I entirely agree with David Rasnick's message to Val Turner.

Crowe's predecessor as RA president, Professor Etienne de Harven, also thought 'The AIDS Trap' a sterling piece of work, asking me:

Next time you chat with Eleni, why don't you tell her that she should, with Val, tell us what they feel is inaccurate and "dangerous" in the little pamphlet "The AIDS Trap" that Martin Barnes wrote, and that I read again and found perfectly proper for lay people's education !

On 18 September, in a meticulously thorough 21-page critique*, the Perth Group identified precisely what 'is inaccurate and "dangerous" in the little pamphlet "The AIDS Trap"'; why it wasn't 'perfectly proper for lay people's education' at all; and why it was complete scientific rubbish.

Crowe responded:

Thank you for your comments on "The AIDS Trap". I am sure that studying your critique will make the brochure much stronger.

Notwithstanding his lying pretensions to 'welcome your feedback'; to 'hope that you will contribute some comments to help improve it'; to 'have no desire to have information circulated that will harm people'; to 'desire ... to have accurate information'; to be 'in favor of accepting suggestions for changes to the brochure at any time'; and 'if an important technical error was found in the brochure we would be bound to correct it as soon as possible', Crowe has not withdrawn 'The AIDS Trap' in the light of the Perth Group's demonstration that it's scientific junk top to bottom and that it 'provides incorrect and dangerous advice', and he continues to vaunt it on his RA website as the sort of science espoused by him and his friends on the RA board of clueless scientific ignoramuses.

His implied undertaking that he'd be 'studying' the Perth Group's 'critique' to 'make the brochure much stronger' was evidently another one of his  petty politician's smooth-talking lies:

On 18 October 2009, one month after the release of the Perth Group's extensive critique of it, 'The AIDS Trap' printed to PDF on 2 May 2009 and released three weeks later was still online on the RA website uncorrected. As was Crowe's fraudulent claim in the press release covering it that Papadopulos-Eleopulos is 'Among RA's founders and key members'.


* The core of the critique is currently being prepared for journal publication, and it has accordingly been withdrawn from circulation pro tem. 

A new version of 'The AIDS Trap' was posted on the RA website in November 2009.