Gary Null responds to a review of his book "AIDS: A Second Opinion"; readers weigh in on articles about Iraq and why smart people can be so stupid.

By Salon Staff
Published June 21, 2002 7:00PM (EDT)

[Read "Quack Record"]

"Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed." So said Bertrand Russell, and I can't help but be reminded of these words when I'm confronted with the rancor of those who would defend the orthodox medical dogma.

Take Peter Kurth's pejorative description of my Web site offerings. Does this really have anything to do with the book being reviewed, or is he just being vicious? Granted, his writing style is cute, but it obscures the fact that his reasoning is fallacious. Specifically, Mr. Kurth is guilty of the misleading syllogism. Here's his implied logic: A) Gary Null is trying to make money from nutritional supplements. B) A big part of Null's book on AIDS is a compendium of treatments featuring nutritional supplements. Therefore, Kurth is trying to get the reader to conclude C) that Null was motivated by self-interest, as opposed to a desire to seek the truth, in writing the book.

The conclusion does not logically follow, as any astute reader already realizes. But let me be crystal-clear about the facts. Nowhere in this book do I mention any of my own products. Nor do the eight AIDS protocols provided by doctors mention any proprietary formulas, recommending only generic vitamins and herbs. Moreover, the vast bulk of the section on treatments is not given over to doctors' or health gurus' ideas, but is simply a recounting of the research that has been done on various substances in relation to AIDS and its accompanying diseases. This research is taken from such peer-reviewed mainstream journals as Immunology and the American Journal of Hospital Pharmacology, and was authored by people based at such places as the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. So the product descriptions on my Web site are not relevant to the discussion.

Furthermore, during the entire course of my career, I have been scrupulous about never mentioning my own products on my radio program, PBS specials or documentaries, and have never promoted my supplements to anyone I was counseling. I should also mention that, while I've spent countless hours counseling thousands of people with AIDS-related conditions, at no time have I ever charged one nickel for doing so. Can Kurth say the same about his doctors, social workers, psychologists or AIDS therapists? And for that matter, what about Dr. Robert Gallo? How much money has he made off every AIDS antibody test kit? Has anyone asked? There seem to be two standards here, one for mainstream practitioners, and another for those who dare to question them.

Kurth's review contains another example of the logical fallacy known as the double standard. He implies that I support worthless fad remedies. I don't; that's a half-truth that I'll get to later, but let's just say for argument's sake that I do. Now, though, to apply a single standard, we have to look at orthodox medicine's support of the faddish and worthless. Examples abound, but let's just consider medicine's support of the long-discredited 600-mg dose of AZT. This fad actually resulted in people's deaths. Yet many patients were originally told by their doctors to get up in the middle of the night to take this poison. Kurth may speak for his friends who died after being on "life-enhancing" diets -- and I am sorry for them -- but who will speak for those dead at the hands of orthodox medicine? My point is that while, yes, fads may come and go in alternative medicine, they come and go too in orthodox medicine, and when they go they can take a lot of dead bodies with them. So why bring up only the relatively benign fads of the holistic camp?

To get back to the idea that I advocate useless remedies, that's a distortion. In the book, when I discuss therapies used over the years by AIDS dissidents or activists, I am reporting on them, rather than endorsing them or claiming that they are scientifically valid. What I say, rather, is that the therapeutic model that I have suggested is scientifically based. That is my assertion, and the scientific references to support it are all in the book.

I assume that Kurth is a well-intentioned, decent human being who is doing all he can to help himself and others afflicted with AIDS to survive; I wish him well. But I also wish that he and others in the war on AIDS were more willing to surrender their certainty about the official dogma. Because it's not just me -- Gary Null with the Web site -- who is questioning it; it is, as the book details, distinguished academics, scientists and Nobel prizewinners who are doing so. These were highly respected individuals who were published in the top mainstream journals and could do no wrong -- until they challenged the HIV=AIDS hypothesis. Then suddenly they saw their funding rescinded and were subject to ridicule and slander. What this tells me is that there is a form of intellectual fascism at work, and I urge Kurth, and anyone else interested in the AIDS issue, to open up their eyes to it.

-- Gary Null

[Read "Before Baghdad Burns"]

Once again we have another "expert" talking about how the United States is about to walk into a huge mess in the Middle East. We heard these same folks predict tens of thousands of American dead in the Gulf War. The same folks said the same thing about Afghanistan and how it would lead to another Vietnam. Before I grow too alarmed about Ms. Mackey's latest predictions, I would be most interested in her track record regarding the Gulf War and Afghanistan. What were her predictions for these battles?

-- Bob Beach

Laura Miller is just about right on the money.

Israel and the Israeli lobby in Congress have snookered the president.

Until and unless we compel Israel to give the Palestinian people a fair shake and get their foot off the Palestinians' necks -- our war against terror will be fruitless and endless.

-- Walter Orloff

[Read the review of "Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid"]

The stupidest people on the planet include those who believe the academically credentialed intelligent: Virtually every text issued from the academy these days ought to be marketed as the cure for insomnia. By setting aside a portion of the profits realized through the implementation of this strategy, we shall lower the cost of higher education.

-- Ed Adams

It is interesting that no one mentioned what is probably the most important factor in explaining why apparently intelligent people (i.e., people well adapted to their social environment) do stupid things: hubris. A quick mention of it would have helped to explain much of the contemporary academic scene.

-- A.R. Dalmau

Salon Staff

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