The long AIDS Debate Between Geshekter and Aluko that began just before Christmas 2004 is documented as a thread:
ON January 10, 2005, ALUKO WROTE TO GESHEKTER STATING:
(1) You are a historian, Charles, not a medical experimentalist, and have not carried out any experiments yourself. Your own strongly-felt beliefs in the non-infectious theory of AIDS must have some religious zeal to it, even if it is because you find some logic to it all....
(3) I am taking an off-ramp here. I do not play rugby when I am supposed to play soccer.
AND CHARLES GESHEKTER WROTE TO ALUKO:
(2) To the best of my knowledge, you are a chemical engineer who has likely never cultured a retrovirus, admit you don't read refereed scientific journal articles or books on HIV or AIDS, have likely never seen combat duty, have no first hand knowledge about liver failure, and probably have never been elected to public office yet you comment freely and openly about all those topics.
Surely the Yoruba, Igbo, Tiv, Hausa, or Fulani must have a proverb that is the equivalent to our American saw about "sauce for the goose and the gander" reminder, eh?
My field is the modern economic history of Africa and that is the context within which I analyze, deconstruct, critique and challenge the fruitless, non-productive, hoary racist, and utterly unscientific theory that, for the past 25 years, African illnesses and death have been increasingly caused by promiscuous sexual activities, truck drivers and prostitutes subjected to the wily machinations of a retrovirus (with no cell-killing mechanisms) that emerged from the dense tropical rainforests of central Africa.
One more thing - just for the record, Ruskin, Einstein, Robert Koch, Barbara MacClintock, Michael Crichton, Wole Soyinka, Nuruddin Farah, Albert Murray, Stanley Crouch, Nawal al-Sadawi, and Thabo Mbeki are among my heroes. Who are yours?.........
(4) Okay then my brother....have a safe and healthy landing. Please watch out for mixed metaphors. They are a treacherous lot.
------------------- end exchanges
The numbers (1), (2), (3) and (4) above were in actual order of the final exchanges.
But before the closure, it was a vibrant debate, reinvigorated (since Mandela's son's death disclosure) by the information posted to Rasnick, Mhlongo, Geshekter and Falola by Dr. Aluko on January 8, 2005 about a Black HIV/AIDS Awareness & Information Day 2005 coming up in the US on February 7, whose ORTHODOX HIV/AIDS message is as follows:
National Black HIV/ Awareness & Information Day 2005 [February 7, 2005]
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is not over, while African-Americans make up 12% of the United States population, and account for half of the new HIV cases reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (HIV/AIDS among African-Americans Key Facts. 2003). HIV/AIDS is devastating Black people in Africa and America - and we must act now to turn this epidemic of our time around.
Overall, it is estimated that half of new HIV infections occur among teenagers and young adults aged 25 years and younger. Numerous studies suggest that African American young people represent the majority of these infections. Something must be done, and you must do it.
In the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS was primarily considered a gay white disease in the United States. Today, however, the HIV epidemic infects and affects African-Americans more than any other population. Its not who you are, but what you do that puts you at risk for HIV HIV/AIDS. HIV is transmitted through four fluids:
Persons are at risk for acquiring HIV through unsafe sex with an HIV infected person; sharing needles with an HIV infected person; and through breast milk of an HIV positive mother.
What can you do?
Learn more about HIV/AIDS and how it is transmitted
Get involved with your local community-based organization (s)
Get tested for HIV and know your status
Protect yourself while engaging in sex with someone
Several exchanges followed:
Before deconstructing and neutralizing these claims and statistics (no hard numbers, just percentages are cited here) which surely must have aroused your own scientific skepticism, I am curious enough to ask you three brief questions:
1) What is the total black American population, aged 25-44?
2) Of that number, how many males and females died of all causes in 2002 (the last year for which we have validated statistics)?
I do not have for the year 2002 (if you have it, please quote it), but for the years 1999- 2001, I have reconstructed from this URL:
the following figures for reported deaths of Blacks in the US for the 24-45 age bracket, inter alia:
TABLE 1: Deaths Among Blacks in the US
Presumably, the numbers cannot be TOO MUCH DIFFERENT than that of 2002.
By the way, even though you have not asked, in the 45-64 age bracket, the numbers for 2001 are:
Total - 54,446
Male - 43,532
Female - 10,914
I am sure that any conclusions that you may wish me to draw from this information can be drawn also by yourself. I look forward to them.
3) Please tell me the best three scientific articles in refereed journals or academic books about AIDS in Africa that you have read in the past year?
I have put quite a number of them on my website.
But in general, I do not read refereed journals or academic books in the medical profession, just I presume that you do not read refereed journals in my Chemical Engineeering profession, even though you may be peripherally interested in the production of butter or petrochemicals.
Following the above question-and-answer exchange, GESHEKTER comes back with his own data:
As of November 2004, the total black American population between the ages of 25-44 was estimated at about 10.6 million (5 million males, 5.6 million females). The total number of deaths from ALL causes for black Americans aged 25-44 was 30,406, or around 3/10 of 1%.
The total U.S. population between the ages of 25-44 was 85 million.
In 2002, the total number of deaths from ALL causes for this remarkably healthy and sturdy cohort was 132,400, or less than 2/10 of 1%.
And within this tiny number of deaths, far and away the top causes of death for 25-44 year olds remain accidents, suicides, cancers and heart disease.
My whole point was simply to suggest that, before we buy into the culture of fear and politics of hysteria promulgated by the HIV/AIDS industry in their run-up to February 7, 2005, we take a sober, cold look at the actual numbers involved.
[Remember that] Everyone who ever eats a tomato will die. Everyone who teaches at Howard University will die. Everyone who graduated from Howard will die. Everyone who is alleged to be HIV-positive will die. The question is each and every single case, from these hypothetical ones to Mandela's son is what was the actual cause of death and how do we know it
Seems fair and reasonable enough, wouldn't you agree?
Pardon me, Charles, the run-up statement talked about "new HIV infections [occurring] among [Black] teenagers and young adults aged 25 years and younger", not deaths occurring between the age group 25-44.
The incidence of HIV/AIDS became known in 1981, 23 years ago. I don't think 16-25 year old Blacks then - all of who would be 39-48 years old now - were known to be an at-risk population then, and hence should or could be dying from it now. But if the 16-25 age range is most at-risk, and if an average length of years between HIV infection and death - assuming such a period exists - is X years, then we should TODAY be looking at the mortality rates of the age range 16+X to 25+X for Blacks, and comparing them with that for non-Blacks.
What I am trying to say here is VERY SIMPLE: rather than the straw age group that you set up above (25-44) that you asked me to provide mortality rates about, an age range which bore no relevance really to the discussion, we need to look at the appropriate age group of Blacks (which would be BELOW that 25-44 age group) to see whether there is a worrying difference in mortality rates when compared with other non-Black groups. Then we can ZERO in on that group to determine what various factors may have caused that difference. I just don't know what that age group is, so it may be worth it to look at age by age.
So please let us keep the logic straight here.
Besides, you stated that the death rate of the general population in the age range 25-44 is 2/10 %, and that for Blacks is 3/10 % - that is for Blacks, that is 1.5 times that of the general population. For this Negro, that is a worrying difference, tiny as the total number might be, especially since this is the most productive age range in life ! I may not ascribe it to HIV/AIDS, but I sure want to find out, don't you think so?
GESHEKTER'S RESPONSE TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH WAS:
There are many reasons for discrepancies in death rates among general groups in any broad population. If the difference between a 2/10 of 1% vs. a 3/10 of 1% death rate worries you then perhaps you might offer some possible reasons and then, apropos the whole debate about what's making Africans sick, we could see if there is good empirical data to confirm or disconfirm your hypothesis. I do know that there are about 3.2 million black males aged 10-19 in the United States. In 2000, there were 2612 deaths from all causes. But accidents and homicides accounted for 1703 of those deaths, about 65%!!! I am afraid that you will likely find similar discrepancies when comparing the 25-44 age cohorts as well.]..
Actually the issue of black mortality in the U.S. is poignant and relevant because the perpetrators of the "HIV/AIDS is everywhere and getting worse" hysteria use it that way, not me. In turn, I have the historian's urge or need to reduce untruths, and correct mistaken impressions. By citing the actual real numbers of a population group, then citing the actual deaths per annum, we can get a better, more sobering sense of who is really at risk and for what. That seems relevant and central in this discussion.
As for Nigeria....thanks for the references to Lagos City or Makuradi. What would you estimate is the population of those two cities? Have you any sense of the annual number of deaths in each for any recent year, 2000, 1998, or 1996 by age and gender? I wonder how many of those were due to TB, malaria, upper respiratory illnesses, parasitic infections, homicide, road accidents, old age, and diseases related to malnutrition among youngsters under five?
As for HIV infections (among black Americans or anywhere), whatever that means, most folks in the AIDS establishment in Africa readily and openly concede that 95-97% of the Africans whom they claim are "HIV positive" have never been tested for anything. But if you want to take those folks' speculations, projections, and assertions uncritically and at face value, who am I to stop you?
PS: Facts about doctors
A. The number of physicians in the US is 700,000.
B. Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year (all age groups) is ca. 120,000 (Institute of Medicine).
Then think about this:
a. The number of gun owners in the US is 80,000,000 (eighty million)!
b. The number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups) is 1,500.
c. The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is 0.00188%.
Statistically, doctors are about 9,000 times more dangerous
than gun owners.
FACT: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT ALMOST EVERYONE HAS A DOCTOR.
Alert your friends to this threat. Should we ban doctors before this gets out of hand?
Cute logic about doctors and gun-owners, but won't win any converts to the AIH-ers, I can assure you !
GOT GESHEKTER TO RESPOND VIZ:
Converts don't interest me at all.
I am solely interested in facts, theories and the theories about the facts.
But I think you may be onto something here.
There is a certain musty, religious dogma that surrounds the infectious theory of AIDS believers that makes them impervious to logic, reason, second thoughts, doubts, and the scientific method.
I believe it warrants your skeptical eye and careful scrutiny. I am willing to join you in that effort......
The work of science is to substitute facts for appearances and demonstrations for impressions." Ruskin
I hope you will join me in returning this discussion to Africa.
In that regard, let me state my view that Thabo Mbeki is a shrewd, savvy, learned, well-disciplined thinker and political strategist. Toyin has seen fit to reproduce his most recent and moving speech on his recipients' list.
Now either: 1) Thabo Mbeki is wrong in his criticisms of the standard HIV dogma and AIDS orthodoxy and hence this is inconsistent with his reputation as a shrewd thinker, OR 2) he is entirely consistent and correct in subjecting the infectious viral theory of AIDS to rigorous and demanding standards of proof and accuracy, thereby entirely in line with his skeptical and careful view of external dogmas and dubious claims about African realities.
I opt for the latter. How about you?
FINALLY, ALUKO STATED:
Let's forget Mbeki. He is first and foremost a politician, even if a shrewd one, not a clinical scientist.
I support rigorous scientific inquiry - and the vigorous interrogation of dogma. But dogma and long-standing anti-dogma may be two sides of the same coin, each almost indistinguishable in its unyielding ferocity.
I now detect two-sided dogma in this AIDS controversy, particularly with historians and philosophers and journalists - and peripheral activists - wading in....
I [ALSO] detect a slightly nasty turn in our discussions, but I shall press on a little while longer. I am fully aware that passions are aroused occasionally in matters of life-and-death like this....
A NASTY TURN WHICH GESHEKTER DENIES:
I detect nothing of the sort. Maybe it's a generational thing, eh? :-)
From there, ALUKO took the "off-ramp" and GESHEKTER wished him a "safe and healthy landing"
_______________ END OF EXCHANGES ________________________
However, the AIDS debate between ALUKO and RASNICK continues (hopefully) and follows shortly - with some DEFINITIVE answers to some questions posed before.