Re: HIV=/= AIDS video

Hal Finney (
Mon, 3 Mar 1997 14:39:56 -0800

I would like to make a claim on the Foresight Exchange online prediction
game (which based on Robin Hanson's Idea Futures) about the HIV/AIDS
controversy. Here is the proposal I made there a few days ago:

> There is a maverick view in the immunology community that AIDS is not
> caused by the HIV virus. This idea is most prominently associated with
> virologist Peter Duesberg. He had a book out last year, "Inventing
> the AIDS Virus", which lays out his arguments. Duesberg was a well
> respected scientist until he began advocating this position, which has
> been strongly rejected by most workers in the field. (Duesberg has his
> own web site at
> I've had trouble framing a claim on this because of the possibility
> of unexpected outcomes. Maybe it will turn out that what we know as
> AIDS is a collection of different diseases, some of which are caused by
> HIV and some not. I don't know the science well enough to make a very
> technical claim. Judging could become a matter of opinion as well.
> So what I am thinking of is basing the claim on the idea that Duesberg
> is presented in a major media story as gaining ground, his "crackpot"
> views beginning to be accepted. This could be caused by new evidence
> that questions the AIDS-HIV link. I think "establishment" science would
> state that the chances of this happening are very small (especially
> given the recent clinical successes with anti-HIV drugs). It is a low
> enough threshold though that the claim would hopefully not be totally
> pinned at 0.
> Maybe something like:
> "A story will appear in Science, Nature, or the New York Times, stating
> that biologist Peter Duesberg is receiving increased respect in the
> scientific community for his view that AIDS is not caused by HIV."
> To keep it interesting I'd like to make the cutoff date around 2000 or 2001.

I'd be curious for the people arguing about HIV and AIDS here to say what
they think about the proposed claim. Ideally I'd like it to be something
which would make proponents and opponents of the AIDS/HIV link strongly
disagree about its likelihood of coming true, while still allowing for
an unambiguous judgement within about a five year period. (We have had
a lot of problems on FX with claims which turned out to be hard to judge.)

What do you think? Could you give an (informal, off the cuff) estimate of
how likely you think the proposed claim is? Suggestions for improvements
would be gratefully appreciated as well. Thanks -