It recently came to my attention that my name appears as an interesting AIDS dissenter on web pages such as the following:


As an occasional SF writer, and holder of a physics degree, I can see the humor in citing my name as an attractive guest lecturer/stooge in an AIDS dissent debate.  “Isn’t it true that as a science fiction writer, your job is to make fiction sound like actual science?”  LOL.  However, this cherry-picking of names was not fair, especially since no one has ever tried to contact me regarding my views.  I did sign a dissent list over a decade ago, but not because I hold the beliefs of a typical dissenter.  The fact was that I was curious about AIDS, and deeply concerned, having lived in Africa.  At the time, there were many unanswered questions (e.g. why was HIV mostly confined to homosexual populations in the West, but heterosexual populations in Africa?) , as well as vicious rumors (e.g. HIV was invented in a US laboratory.)  There were also taboo subjects and questions, either being explicit or politically incorrect in nature, and that was my frustration with the AIDS community.  Since then, of course, more research has been done, people finally got serious about AIDS in Africa, and Africans are getting treatment and education.


My curiosity and truth-seeking prompted me to sign a dissent list, but I was never an HIV denier, and never held the extreme views by the vocal minority. On the contrary, it was obvious to me, from a first-hand perspective, that AIDS was not just a collection of extant diseases.  On the other hand, it is easy to see why that may have seemed the case for a time; there was no testing, and there continues to be medical ignorance and panic associated with AIDS where I lived.  “A new name for old diseases” was anecdotally believable.


If you have any links that address the issues I outlined, I’d love to see them, and I’d appreciate my name not being propagated with the dissent crowd, insofar as it’s within your ability to remove it.


Finally, the question raised at the bottom of your “AIDS Denial is Pseudoscience” web page may be partly answered by this email.  Why do dissenters dissent? In my case, it was none of the reasons listed, though they may well apply to others.  I simply felt that there was a rush to action with some significant holes in research. I’m also skeptical of quantum string theory, and other such things, but that doesn’t make me irrational, I hope.




David Bartell