Posted by: Doug Henwood | November 15, 2010

Pacifica death watch (cont.): Gary Null edition

Why care?

Perhaps the wider world does not share my interest in the internal goings-on at Pacifica. I do have a personal interest. I grew up listening to WBAI and it helped make me who I am, for what that’s worth. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, it was an exciting and lively thing that showed a kid growing up in the intellectual wasteland of suburban New Jersey that there was a fascinating world out there. It not only featured radical politics (of all kinds—the coverage of the early gay movement was an eye-opener) and first-rate news reporting (I have vivid memories of the live coverage of May 1968 in Paris), but also some serious high culture (the Ring Cycle on Washington’s birthday).

Now, of course, things aren’t so inspiring. Which is sad, because WBAI and its four sister stations in the Pacifica network are five strong signals in big, important cities (New York, Berkeley/the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Washington, and Houston). Its signals can reach a fifth of the U.S. population. And this valuable resource is deep into a long trajectory of decay. If Pacifica dies, it can never be reconstituted. Yeah, there’s the Internet, but terrestrial radio is far from dead.

So, because I care…

The Null set

Alternative health guru Gary Null is returning to WBAI, five days a week. Null, who was fired by the previous program director Bernard White (probably because he was a rival power center, not for any principled reason), is a classic snake-oil salesman, with an unctuous manner and a selfless self-presentation that is actually a mask for a raging egomania. His long-running show on WBAI helped make him famous and rich (he sold the premiums given away during his fundraising stints to the station “at cost,” which is a risible concept when you”re talking miracle cures).

I’ve got personal experience of two of the “healers” he had on his show. One was the late Dr Emanuel Revici (who died in 1998). My uncle, who was dying of advanced prostate cancer, was brought to Revici by his wife (my mother’s sister). Revici saw him for five minutes, handed him three unlabeled vials of fluid, and billed him for $500. My uncle took the stuff, and died a short while later. The other: my father, who was then about 80, consulted another of Null”s “healers” because of some arthritis-like pains he felt in his knee. The healer diagnosed my father with “cytomegalovirus infection” and prescribed a round of intravenous vitamin C infusions at $100 a pop. CMV infections are ubiquitous—over 90% of Americans aged 80 and over carry the virus. And vitamin C is very cheap—the markup must have been on the order of 50 times. These two characters are nothing but quacks in a very profitable line of business.

Null is also an AIDS denialist. On hearing the news that WBAI was bringing him back to the air, ACT-UP New York circulated a flyer containing some classic and recent quotes from Null on the topic of HIV/AIDS. Some delights, the first batch from a show on WNYE radio, June 4, 2010, followed by a 15-year-old observation he’s never retracted:

“All the celebrities who say yes, we need more drugs and better condom use in Africa, it has nothing to do with condoms. It has nothing to do with vaccines or drugs- the real causes of AIDS in Africa. And we’ll give you the statistics that show you all of the figures from the World Health Organization are wrong.”

“I have over 2,000 of the smartest scientists in the world… all saying the same thing in their own words. Everything about AIDS is a lie, it’s a fraud being perpetrated.”

“The evidence is overwhelming that AIDS is not contagious, AIDS is not sexually transmitted or caused by HIV.”-David Rasnick, as read (approvingly) by Gary Null“

And, this 1995 classic from Null’s website: “There is, in fact, no support for the idea that AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease anywhere in the world.”

In response to criticism (from, among others, a letter from Marilyn Ringstaff of a Georgia-based women’s health group) for giving a platform to such nonsense, the chair of WBAI’s local station board, Mitch Cohen (who describes himself as a “moderate” 9/11 Truther, which I suppose is some sort of relief), sent around a letter defending Null’s claims. (Full text, along with Ringstaff’s original letter to which he was responding, appended below.) Cohen summarizes his own position:

I certainly have many questions as to the entire history of HIV, its relationship to what is called “AIDS”, ecological impacts and causes for disease based on toxic dumping and pollution, and the appropriateness of pharmaceutical treatments for the “disease”. After all of these years, most of them remain unanswered in a way I consider to be satisfactory.

He asks a series of questions, starting with “Does HIV exist?,” moving on to “What do we mean ‘to cause’?,” and “Do anti-virals work to save people’s lives?” that suggest that Cohen thinks that science is a fraud perpetrated by idiots, and that there aren’t legions of people alive today who would be dead without modern AIDS therapies.

I don’t doubt that there are all kinds of therapies and practices in the “alternative” armamentarium that are useful and less toxic than the orthodox kind. But these need to be tested rigorously, with full disclosure of the contents of the elixirs and the results of their application. Now, Null & Co. circulate their propaganda through self-reported testimony with no outside check on their veracity. Those who died, like my uncle, aren’t called upon to be guests. And this gang of alterna-health types tap into the suspicions of the dominant discourse so prevalent on today’s left—a reflexive skepticism that’s as anti-intellectual as the reflexive credulity of so many in the mainstream.

Sad. But Null will probably bring in megabucks in the next WBAI fundraiser, so who cares?

Cohen’s letter

Dear Ms. Ringstaff,

Your letter makes a number of assertions about what Gary Null believes, let alone says over the air, without documenting your claims.

I cannot speak for Gary (and wouldn’t dare try to!), but as a former member of the Holistic and Alternative Treatments Committee of ACT UP-NY, as coordinator of the NoSpray Coalition against toxic pesticides, as a Brooklyn Green Party organizer — and as someone who has witnessed relatives, friends diagnosed with HIV and AIDS (and who are said to have died from opportunistic infections related to it) — I certainly have many questions as to the entire history of HIV, its relationship to what is called “AIDS”, ecological impacts and causes for disease based on toxic dumping and pollution, and the appropriateness of pharmaceutical treatments for the “disease”. After all of these years, most of them remain unanswered in a way I consider to be satisfactory.

I don’t see the point in shutting off that process of questioning, of challenging. In fact, I find it disastrous.

On Gary Null’s prior programs on WBAI, discussion of AIDS and HIV accounted for around 10 percent of his programs, maybe less. And, contrary to your (and others’) inferences, he never, ever promoted his line of products on the air.

No doubt he benefited financially from his on-air popularity, the same as most authors do who are interviewed over the airwaves. But Null was always careful to be very circumspect about his claims, and allowed — even invited — contrary opinions on his show (unlike many hosts at WBAI).

That is why in all the attacks upon Null that I’ve seen concerning this matter, there are very few actual quotes from Null provided by those calling for banning Null from the airwaves. And of those few quotes, not a single one actually provides evidence as to the claims they are marshalled to support.

Furthermore — and again unlike most other show hosts at WBAI — Gary Null has agreed to open up his show to those who disagree with him, and to engage in public debates on this and other issues.

Gary Null was arbitrarily fired without any sense of due process from WBAI 6 years ago NOT for making reckless scientific statements on the air, but for running afoul of the then Program Director. Many of those who decry the “arbitrary” decision to return Gary Null to his previous timeslot said nothing at the time about the arbitrary decision to fire him and his audience, along with several other popular producers (such as Robert Knight, for example). So I take such protests from those people as examples of opportunism and hypocrisy.

You write as though anyone who questions the science around HIV and AIDS are all in the same camp, or hold the same views. As you know, for many years the AIDS and HIV critics were hardly united — they had (and still have) many divisions among them, over such questions as:

- Does HIV exist?
– Does it exist according to Koch’s postulates for “isolating” a micro-organism?
– If it exists, is it always present in AIDS cases?
– Can HIV be detected in people who do not have AIDS?
– Could it be a marker for disease and not the cause?
– What do we mean by “to cause”?
– If the virus exists, could it have been produced as part of biowarfare experiments by the US Government?
– What is the role of “Co-Factors” and why are they needed to cause this disease?
– Do people die of AIDS, or from Opportunistic Infections?- What is the role of malnutrition in AIDS in Africa?
– Why are the definitions for what constitutes AIDS different in different parts of the world, unlike the definition for every other disease?
– Is AIDS a disease or a “syndrome”? What’s the difference?
– Did AZT kill more people than it helped?
– Do anti-virals work to save people’s lives?
– What are the roles of viruses in the body?
– How accurate are the tests for the virus? For antibodies?
– Are the tests themselves based on flawed science? (Kerry Mullis’ view.)
– Are the anti-virals’ side effects more debilitating than what they are supposed to be fighting?
– Can rigorous nutrition and supplements fight AIDS better than anti-virals?

On and on and on. These and other questions still haunt our lives. To shut off that debate, to assume that people’s views (including Null’s) don’t change over time as more knowledge becomes available, or that there is only one Truth and you are its emissary, is … well … let’s just say that attitude is harmful.

To preclude people from hearing contrasting views on all of this is reprehensible.

Let the people hear the arguments; let the people ourselves decide.

Mitchel Cohen, Chair, WBAI Local Station Board*

*for ID purposes only

PS. Two decades ago I’d written several articles myself on the questions I had (and continue to have) pertaining to HIV/AIDS, and published them in the journal I edited, “Red Balloon”. I also wrote a long introduction to a pamphlet I published that featured a very good alternative critique by Bob Lederer, who has since become a proponent of the mainstream view on HIV/AIDS but who had a very different view back then.

I’ll be glad to send it to you in electronic form, upon request.

Mitchel

Ringstaff’s original

November 15, 2010

To whom it concerns:

We are writing as individuals and organizations who are deeply distressed by WBAI’s recent restoration of supplement-entrepreneur Gary Null to the airwaves of WBAI Radio five days a week.

We are gravely concerned about this prospect and the consequences for people at risk of and living with HIV. Mr. Null and his frequent radio guests support the notions, among others, that HIV does not play a role in causing AIDS; that the disease is not transmitted sexually or via dirty needles; that HIV tests are meaningless; and that antiretroviral drugs are not only poisonous but can actually cause AIDS. Legitimate concerns and grievances about the pharmaceutical industry are eclipsed and diminished by this life-threatening stance.

The spread of false claims about HIV and AIDS is deadly, and particularly harms the poor communities of color most devastated by HIV/AIDS.  Disinformation about HIV has caused the unnecessary suffering and death of an estimated 300,000 men, women and children in South Africa alone (see Mbeki Aids denial ’caused 300,000 deaths’ ).

Both the existence of HIV and its role in the causation of AIDS has been amply demonstrated (see, e.g., AIDSTruth.org | The scientific evidence for HIV/AIDS). Among the destructive effect of spreading these falsehoods is to reduce condom use, increase infection risk and dissuade people from the use of life-saving antiretroviral therapy (among other modalities).

We respect the station’s longstanding free-speech tradition, and support open debate on critical public health issues. We also deeply appreciate the fiscal difficulties facing WBAI and the Pacifica network. However, the notion that WBAI’s survival is dependent on relying on Mr. Null while spreading a message of death is antithetical to the mission of the station and of the Pacifica Network to which it belongs.

We call on WBAI management to immediately reverse its decision to add Mr. Null’s program to its schedule.

Signed,
Marilyn Ringstaff, CNM, JD

Women of W.O.R.T.H., Inc.
1513 Dean St.Rome, GA 30161
(706)232-3408 office
(706)512-0453 cell
mtringstaff@gmail.com
Women’s Organization for Reproductive & Total Healthcare (“W.O.R.T.H”)
a Georgia nonprofit corporation . . . because women are worth it.
Women of Worth

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Responses

  1. Good call on most all respects, yet after reading Simon Singh and Evard Ernst’s utterly winning book an the “alternative” medicine global hoax, I’d challenge you to name one out the of the extensive and extremely profitable kinds of “complementary” medicines that has ever proven its worth.
    Not one comes out of that magnificent book – these primitivist scams make those of us on the left feel good, they speak “truth” to the AMA “Man,” but they are quackery. They don’t work, they appeal to our leftist sisters especially, but they are nothing but hot air and frog rubbings, to the tune of GNC and chiropractic hundreds of gazillions.

  2. My suspicion is that the next fundraiser will be an even bigger bust. Bringing Null back and all the loopy programming changes that are going with it will cause the station to hemorrhage listeners.

  3. I have questions too, like how did the Nazca create such straight lines without lasers? Where did the Rh negative blood factor come from if not aliens? How does Obama suppress his Swahili so well in public?

    Is there room on WBAI for me too?

  4. Sent in response, to the Science-for-the-People listserve:

    I very much value Doug Henwood’s show, even though I do not agree with him when it comes to his stance on vaccinations and the like. I’ve fought to have it returned to WBAI, and we’ve done so. It will be broadcast on Saturdays, where far more people will listen to it. Doug doesn’t realize that his show simply was not doing well in the current time slot, and management is trying to INCREASE his listenership.

    I’m not interested in arguing the value of Gary Null’s contributions to a radical critique of science — they are enormous. He’s the only “health” person who attacks every day the government-corporate-pharmaceutical axis, instead of only giving advice on what to do for your own health. That doesn’t mean he’s the last word, but putting health into a political context the way he does is powerful.

    By the way, I too visited Revici in the early 1990s — his assistant treated me for free when I told him I had no funds. His research papers are fascinating — look up his theoretical basis.

    I’ve had many bad experiences with medical doctors — does that mean that I write them all off as quacks, and consider their pills and injections being magic potions?

    Many leftists are very narrow-minded when it comes to health. (Just look at one commentators refusal to accept chiropracty as legitimate!) We can fight the government on every issue under the sun and yet accept its dictums on Science as though they’ve done unbiased studies. There are a number of recent books out reviewing so-called scientific paper after paper, and revealing the author’s hidden connections (and payments) to drug companies. (See Sheldon Krimsky’s work, for example.) But we all know this in our heads; but when it comes to practice we, like others, fall victim to the dominant ideology.

    We are trying desperately to save WBAI — and Pacifica. Pacifica is unable to meet expenses; it has increased the number of salaried staff, and benefits, without expanding the membership base able to sustain it. We’ll know in a few weeks if Pacifica is able to sustain itself or go under.

    I’d like to ask everyone in Science for the People to agree to be interviewed about SCIENCE on WBAI, regardless of your views. Let’s set up debates on the issues, not run from them. Let a hundred flowers blossom.

    Mitchel

  5. And this gang of alterna-health types tap into the suspicions of the dominant discourse so prevalent on today’s left—a reflexive skepticism that’s as anti-intellectual as the reflexive credulity of so many in the mainstream.

    Once upon a time those on the left had an alternative vision of the kind of society they wanted. That seemed to die with the collapse of the communist states, and now all we’re left with is either reformism (not necessarily a bad thing in such appallingly reactionary times), or this mindless scepticism about “authority”. Its not even infantile-leftism any more.

  6. Thanks for the great article. I am one of the people that helped to write that letter. There are abundant data that some “complementary and alternative” (CAM) therapies can be effective. There needs to be more clinical studies, of course. For example, the use of a multiple micronutrient (multivitamin/mineral) among people with HIV can dramatically slow progression.

    However, this does not obviate the need for antiretroviral therapy. The fact that HIV denialists like Mathias Rath claim this is lethal–and has outright murdered people.

    This is a false debate. HIV exists, it causes AIDS. I’ve had the arguments with the denialists and it simply is insane. They start with say, “testing doesn’t work!” And you present the data (which on the radio is even harder to do) and when you’ve exhausted that they womble off to the next nonsense–and it goes around this great arc/circle back to “and testing doesn’t work!” (or pick any starting point – “HIV doesn’t exist” followed not long after by “HIV exists and doesn’t cause AIDS” despite these notions being utterly mutually exclusive but they will rely on both simultaneously when it suits them).

    Indeed, the denial obviates the potential of a genuine and nuanced conversation about the real controversies and questions that exist within those realms. (E.g., HOW does HIV cause AIDS and what are the therapeutic understandings of what that mean? Things like CMV are no doubt extremely important if not rising to the level of necessary co-factor–but that’s a nuanced and GENUINE debate that gets lost in the haze).

    Plus, there’s the fact that one of the BAI board members is a business partner of Null, suggesting conflicts of interest. Indeed, this is underscored by the fact that other health programs have been moved into the late evening.

    If WBAI feels it must survive by bringing in a man whose ideas kill people, I think they’ll be shocked to find he doesn’t rake in the bucks. And maybe at some point they will begin to feel chagrined that they would so desperately stoop to trying to survive by creating such great harm.
    George M. Carter

  7. Note that the current list of signatories to the letter is quite lengthy–and will continue to grow. This is where it stands:
    [This list will continue to be updated]
    Institutions:
    ACT UP/East Bay, Berkeley-Oakland, CA
    ACT UP/NY
    ACT UP/Philadelphia
    AIDS Action Baltimore
    AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA)
    AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition (ATAC)
    Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)
    Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR), Brooklyn, NY
    Global AIDS Alliance
    Housing Works, Inc.
    Middle East Childrens Alliance, Berkeley, CA
    New York Buyers’ Club (NYBC)
    Project Inform
    Proyecto SOL Filadelphia
    Treatment Action Group (TAG)

    Individuals:
    Aaron Boyle
    Alice Iversen, former Bd Member, Two Harbors, MN Co-op Credit Union and Community Health Center (the first community clinic n MMO in USA-see NY Times, 1947)
    Andrew Velez
    Andy Humm, veteran gay activist
    Ann Brameier, L. Ac.
    Anna Forbes, MSS
    Charles King, President and CEO, Housing Works
    Charlotte Winczer
    Donald Grove
    Elizabeth Harvey Richards
    Ellen R. Shaffer, PhD MPH
    Eric Sawyer
    Eustacia Smith
    George A. Bishopric, MD
    George M. Carter, Director, FIAR
    Grant Gailey
    Gregory ‘gar’ Russell, ACT-UP/East Bay
    Hans Kindt
    Holly Horne
    Jared Becker
    Jeanne Bergman, AIDStruth.org
    Jeff Burack
    Joel E. Gallant, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
    John Iversen, enrolled member Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Berkeley Needle Excahnge Co-founder
    John Riley, member, ACT UP/NY
    Jon Winkleman
    Jose de Marco
    Julene Weaver
    Julie Davids, CHAMP
    Ken Bing, member, ACT UP/NY
    Kendall Q. Morrison
    Laurie Wen, member, ACT UP/NY
    Lily Kirsanow
    Liz Highleyman
    Lynda Dee, AIDS Action Baltimore
    Marilyn Ringstaff, CNM, JD, Women of W.O.R.T.H., Inc.
    Mark Milano
    Matt Sharp
    Maudelle Shirek, former Vice Mayor, Berkeley, CA
    Michael Mooney
    Nanette Kazuoka, member, ACT UP/NY
    Nelson Vergel, Director, Program for Wellness Restoration
    Nina Reznick, Esq.
    Paul Dalton
    Paul Iversen, Duluth, MN Central Labor Council, enrolled member Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
    Phyllis Bloom, L. Ac.
    Richard Jeffreys
    Rob Camp
    Shoshana Silberman, NP
    Steven Kovacev, marathon runner, author and 25+ year HIV survivor
    Timothy Lunceford, member, ACT UP/NY
    Tony Arena, member, ACT UP/NY
    Tony Howard
    Udo Schuklenk, PhD

  8. Mitch, you’re spewing nonsense. I’m not even going to bother to argue with you. I’m tired of irrationalism pretending to be radical.

  9. George,

    I appreciate your letter — I really do — and also all the research you’ve done over the years.

    That said, to categorize and lump together those who question the basis for the mainstream positions on HIV/AIDS as “Denialists” exemplifies one of the points I was making in my response to Doug’s letter.

    Similarly, to state that Null’s “ideas kill people” removes agency from “the people” ourselves.

    As you damned well know, sufficient research has NOT been done on micro-nutrients for a reason. And AZT — which absorbed much of the funding for research for quite some time — was deadly for so many people. How are folks — how am I? — supposed to trust the claims, set forth as “science”, of those who set in place the mainstream AIDS paradigm when they have not used their “knowledge” to self-criticize their own prior opportunism?

    I agree that arguing with some critics of the mainstream AIDS/HIV paradigm seems like a dog chasing its tail. However, the same can be said — and I am saying it — for arguing with proponents of that paradigm.

    My own view: I simply DO KNOW KNOW, even after all these years. Even those who strive to present accurate information — I remember “science” that was asserted so forcefully by folks in our movements 18 years ago that turned out to be wrong. But proponents did not take responsibility for the deaths that they influenced back then and reflect publicly on WHY they were wrong — they just went right on advocating the next pharmaceutical “breakthrough”, instead of questioning their paradigm altogether.

    For me, it was reminiscent of the Communist Party (no, I was never a member — I come from the New Left), which would change its line on some crucial world historical matters (for instance, the Hitler-Stalin Pact) but never admit that they had held a wrong line nor attempt to understand, at least publicly, why they did.

    Here, in your letter, you admit that there is no scientific consensus on HOW HIV causes AIDS — yes, that is a “nuanced” conversation indeed! — but you’re sure that IT does. OK, there’s a lot more informed research on this currently, but then there’s a lot more information challenging that as well.

    My point, again, is not to have a debate on HIV/AIDS HERE, on this listserve, but to allow that debate to happen over the airwaves. I would love to see you on Gary Null’s show or in a fair public forum debating the actual science — that’s how we all learn, isn’t it?

    Again, to shut off that debate, to repress it, to assume that it doesn’t exist, is a way of stripping from people our “agency” — whose decision is any of this? — and substituting yourself as the self-annointed bearers of The Truth. I reject that for the same reasons that I rejected the approach of many of those who called themselves vanguardists within the Left — the “attitude” is the same.

    That said, that does not mean that I don’t try to learn what I can, am “anti-intellectual” (as one commenter here remarked). Where does knowledge come from? Who has authority to make crucial decisions in my life?

    I’d hear you much “louder” if you’d say: “This is the science, and Gary Null is wrong because of this and that.” But to try blacklist person to prevent those contrary ideas from being heard? Been there, done that, and I was wrong when I did.

    Mitchel

  10. Mitch allow me to repeat myself. This is NOT a legitimate debate at this point. You have failed to keep up with the science which is from a slew of disciplines and all around the world. HIV is the cause of AIDS. And inadequate research in re micronutrients in not “no research” – I know damn well because I’m studying it VERY closely.

    And on a practical level, every single HIV+ denialist that I have known died of AIDS, denialist feeble attempts to swat these inconvenient truths aside with claims of “stress” notwithstanding. People with intact immune systems don’t die of disseminated herpes infections that can arise due to untreated HIV DISEASE. Yes, Gary Null and you helped kill Christine Maggiore (and by extension, her daughter).

    You are wrong again, Mitch. Wake up–grow up. There’s a HUGE amount of effort that needs to be undertaken to fight AIDS–this denialist nonsense is worse than a distraction.

    I don’t want to go on the radio to debate whether the solar system is heliocentric or whether there was a Holocaust or that evolution exists. It’s a waste of my life.

    And it caused Thabo Mbeki to delay treating people for years–killing hundreds of thousands.

    You’re just WRONG, Mitch. And Null has to go.

    And that list of people signing on to the letter is growing. It includes people who used to believe that HIV didn’t cause AIDS–but are alive because they abandoned that and started taking ARV. (Many are also taking many supplements as well.)

  11. And how completely disingenuous to offer some kind of rebuttal on Null’s show! He never permitted in the past, to begin with. But that the programming schedule move any health-related program to the nether hours that might conflict with null’s diktats and shilling of the company he had to sue for blowing out his kidneys because it lacked quality control while another board member is his business partner…I mean, are you serious, Mitch?

    You want to pump up BAI’s ratings on the backs of people with HIV and at risk for infection by a guy who says he rejects single payer health care? Because he doesn’t believe western medicine has ANYTHING to offer?

    It’s despicable. It’s vile beyond all comprehension. And I’m particularly angry with YOU Mitch because I seriously think you’re neither that stupid nor that disingenuous.

  12. Correct, George, there is no debate here.

    HIV causes AIDS and the drugs that treat it stop people getting AIDS.

    I should know because I take at least two drugs that were designed on a coputer to fit into the crevices of a virus that is harmelss or doesn’t even exist, according to AIDS denialists.

    And they work. In 1996 I had a CD4 count of 10, numerous AIDS illnesses, weighed 125 lbs and was dying. Now my CD4 count is 500, my only health problem is self-inflicted, and it’s called overweight (190lbs)!

    Denying that HIV causes AIDS or exists at all is as intellectually perverse as denying the theory of evolution but with one crucial difference: denying Darwin doesn’t kill anyone.

    AIDS denialist theories have killed hundreds of thousands and continue to do so, as people submit themselves to Chinese herbs, fad diets or prayer instead of taking, usually, one pill a day.

    Like George, I’ve known many HIV denialists and all the HIV-positive ones are dead: David Pasquarelli, Jody Wells, Huw Christie, Molly Radcliffe, Christine Maggiore, Ronnie Burke, just to name a few.

    The fact that they chose to die rather than to recant their beliefs is tragic. The fact that they took many with them including, in Maggiore’s case, her own daughter, is criminal. And the continued spreading of the denialist creed by the HIV-negative ones like Gary Null, Matthias Rath, Peter Duesberg and so on, often in the interest of selling snake oil, is evil.

  13. Thank you, Gus! And if you were the only one, your anecdote could be written off as an anomaly. But quite to the contrary. The clinical data among scads of studies show the same thing. Life expectancy is improving and rapidly approaching normal for people with HIV who have access to antiretrovirals.

    And if you want to hand-wavingly dismiss all the science, clinical studies, lab work, elucidation of pathogenesis, etc., I can STILL say I’ve met hundreds of men, women and children who are thriving and LIVING with HIV. Nearly all of them on ARV.

    Meanwhile–Gus–snake oil CAN be effective for somethings! LOL…seriously, but fish oil is better and better studied. I’d just never buy any Null product for fear it might contain 4 million units of D or some crap. It’s bad enough FDA won’t do that kind of evaluation of supplements on a routine basis.

    And yeah, damn, there’s another thing we COULD and SHOULD be talking about. But no, we have to play this moronic game because the desperate, coprocratic fools on WBAI want to emulate the corporate business model on the sell-em-crap approach. Gary Null is merely BAI’s Glenn Beck.

  14. No matter how much you think you are right, disparaging me and others who have a different take on things personally (“coprocratic fools” — whatever that is), etc. is a good way to shut off discussion.

    If that’s what you want, you got it.

    I tried.

    Good bye.

    Mitchel

  15. Dear Mr. Cohen: Your letter makes several assertions which remind us that asking questions is a fundamental part of serious inquiry. In particular, we find ourselves confronted with the following conundrums:
    – Does WBAI actually exist?
    – Do you actually exist?
    – Does radio listening cause brain damage?
    – Should inane questions that have already been answered be tolerated by sentient beings, or is communicable disease a hoax perpetrated by resident aliens with green antennae?

    Please add our questions to your list of things which must be considered endlessly in lieu of moving on to new information. Sincerely yours, etc.

  16. Mitch Cohen, Steve Brown, and Gary Null got their cash. Please don’t insult yourselves by thinking this is about a confused LSB chair or free speech or debate. This is about money. It’s about cashing in on people’s fear of suffering and death, even if it kills people.

    And what’s at stake isn’t our annoyance with Mitch’s willful ignorance. Seriously, you can have different and even wildly misinformed opinions on chemtrails, 9/11, Bigfoot, the stock market, stashing gold, or what have you… but none of these topics has the direct and devastating consequences of HIV/AIDS denialism.

    What’s at stake is nothing less than the lives of millions and millions of people… via individual prevention and health maintenance, public information campaigns, housing and healthcare policy, medication distribution, etc.

    I happily gave plenty of money and volunteered time to a station that aired things I didn’t agree with, even things I thought were nuts. But I won’t support a concerted, high-profile, celebrity disinformation campaign aimed at terrorizing and killing people. I’m glad so few people listen to WBAI, and even happier that virtually no one under 40 does… because otherwise, who knows what the death toll could be.

    It’s tragic enough that Null will reach the 65+ desperate crowd, because instead of accepting and affirming suffering and death as Real Natural Living… we’re told by that smooth FM radio voice to fear the facts of life, trust in the guru Null,… and then go to the website to buy product.

    This is pure evil. And every person of conscience must resist it. No radio station is worth it. Period.

  17. You are so full of shit, it’s amazing. I “got my cash”?

    You mean the metrocard and $8 I have to my name?

    Maybe it’s the new equivalent of the Moscow Gold I was accused of taking for all those years. (Yea, Pizza for all!)

    You are claiming that YOU know the Truth, and no one else is allowed to think otherwise, let alone to challenge it.

    People make our own decisions. Or at least that’s the way it should be.

    Oh, I get it. You know better and all us ignorant folks had better bow down or wise up.

    If you’re right, your obligation is to convince me (and others) that you are, not prevent us from hearing contrary information and opinions to your own.

    I must say, you’re not doing a very good job. (George had started to, but then went all Stalinistic.)

    Mitchel

  18. Mitch, here’s my unadulterated response to your list of questions. Which you know goddamned well have been asked and answered. And your master Null clearly has made his killing, $-wise.

    nip

    – Does HIV exist?
    YES.

    – Does it exist according to Koch’s postulates for “isolating” a micro-organism?

    Yes. The favored method for isolation cited by some denialists is from a paper in the 70s by a Francoise Barre-Sinoussi….guess who she is.

    – If it exists, is it always present in AIDS cases?

    Wrong question. HIV results in AIDS. There are other diseases that can destroy immune function but the profile is different. Just like there are diseases that cause lung infections and damage other than tuberculosis.

    – Can HIV be detected in people who do not have AIDS?

    Yes–but very damn few. And so what? Most infectious diseases have a certain percentage who are exposed and not infected or infected without clinical consequences. The horror of HIV is that this is such a tiny percentage.

    – Could it be a marker for disease and not the cause?

    Could you be any fucking dumber? Suddenly now it conveniently exists, eh? In the cracked bell jar of your chronic ignorance.

    – What do we mean by “to cause”?

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cause

    – If the virus exists, could it have been produced as part of biowarfare experiments by the US Government?

    Could Martians be the explanation for you beating and raping children with Glenn Beck?

    – What is the role of “Co-Factors” and why are they needed to cause this disease?

    The first part of the question is interesting, e.g., with herpes family infections. They are not, however, needed to cause this disease. “Cause”? Heavens. You now seem to say HIV exists and causes something! Is there hope for you yet? Doubtful.

    – Do people die of AIDS, or from Opportunistic Infections?

    OIs are part of the definition of AIDS.

    – What is the role of malnutrition in AIDS in Africa?

    Significant. A multi can dramatically slow disease progression as Fawzi’s trial, among others, has shown. However, malnutrition is not AIDS and a multi will not obviate the need for antiretroviral therapy.

    – Why are the definitions for what constitutes AIDS different in different parts of the world, unlike the definition for every other disease?

    Have you shown that the definition of every other disease is identical everywhere in the world? Isn’t that a presumption on your part?

    – Is AIDS a disease or a “syndrome”? What’s the difference?

    LOL…

    – Did AZT kill more people than it helped?

    As monotherapy at 1200 mg, probably killed more people than it helped. As part of combination therapy at 600 mg (and one wonders if 300 mg would work as well), helped many people. And still is used by many.

    – Do anti-virals work to save people’s lives?
    Yes.

    – What are the roles of viruses in the body?

    Excellent question. Depends on the virus–but you seem to have a mental defect that actually permits you to go and study this stuff with any kind of genuine effort.

    – How accurate are the tests for the virus? For antibodies?

    Sensitivity and specificity varies for different diagnostic techniques. The data on this are well described. The sensitivity and specificity of the ELISA and Western blot tests are quite high relative to other infections.

    – Are the tests themselves based on flawed science? (Kerry Mullis’ view.)

    LOL. No. Kary Mullis is wrong. You could at least learn to spell the guy’s name correctly. Does Mullis still think PCR can’t be used in the context of HIV disease? It is not, btw, yet (?) a diagnostic test except in cases of post-exposure incidents.

    – Are the anti-virals’ side effects more debilitating than what they are supposed to be fighting?

    Sometimes but mostly no. Given that we have had 14-16 years of use and we’ve known LOTS of people using them safely and surviving where people died before (and still do in places where they are not available), this just reflects complete ignorance on the topic.

    – Can rigorous nutrition and supplements fight AIDS better than anti-virals?

    No. They can be enormously helpful, can help to offset side effects, slow disease progression and have other benefits. They can also be a waste of money. More clinical data are needed on the variety of supplements used.

    On and on and on.

    Yeah, well, Mitch, you stupid motherfucker, these questions have been asked and answered time and time again and you just don’t like the answers. So for whatever psychotic reason, you cling to this bullshit–and so does Null.

    It is like debating the Holocaust or global warming or the Earth swinging around the Sun. It’s a false debate perpetuated by stubborn fools like you.
    George M. Carter

  19. i wish the same passion was exhibited for the daily slaughtered victims of obama as for those lead to death by medical quacks.

    how many of those who blame aids deaths on aids-denial voted for obama? political quackery/crackpot realism.

  20. I am responding to George’s letter for readers here, but not to him. He is so outrageously abusive that I want nothing further to do with him. (“well, Mitch, you stupid motherfucker,” among other choice comments)

    Please be aware that the list of questions I posted are not necessarily my own questions today.

    If you read my original letter, the lead-up to the questions George is responding to went like this:

    “”for many years the AIDS and HIV critics were hardly united — ­they had (and still have) many divisions among them, over such questions as … ”

    I was explaining (I thought) the importance of seeing each person as an individual — or at least in one of many different camps — rather than scapegoating everyone together as “Denialists” or as “stupid motherfuckers” as some folks are doing in order to censor Gary Null.

    It’s becoming apparent that most of Gary’s opponents don’t know — and don’t care about — his actual positions.

    Mitchel

  21. LOL. I hurt your little feelings? Maybe I hurt David Pasquarelli’s feelings too. Oh, he died of AIDS.

    The name calling is unprofessional and mean, I know. I don’t really care. You’ve had YEARS to actually look for the answers to those questions but you never have genuinely been any more interested than any of the other tiny handful of denialists.

    I’ll be happy to retract that insult the moment I see an unequivocal statement from you and Null recognizing that HIV exists, causes AIDS and antiretroviral therapy is the best we’ve got to help people live a normal lifespan. This is the lived REALITY I SEE EVERY DAY–not just the data that derives from myriad sources.

    Short of that, it is a non-debate and you ARE a denialist. That’s not name calling–that’s just recognizing a simple, rotten reality.

  22. What George and Andy have laid out quite nicely is that Mitch isn’t really asking questions: he is actively seeking to destroy knowledge and enable popular deception. Mitch’s “questions” are so aimless, so imprecise, so conflicted, etc… that they are not meant to build understanding or achieve practical awareness of anything. For people who confuse “debate” with “filling a void between one’s ears with empty words,” this is swell stuff. But Mitch has no interest in facts, reasoning, or humane values, and so he offers nothing serious that is worthy of response. Along with his “questions,” you can also ignore the tiresome name-calling… i.e., “Stalinist”. (Wait a minute: WHOSE on-air bs is killing people?)

    ‘Tis. To. Laugh.

    My fellow posters: It’s a political question, not an intellectual one… do we support an institution that is willing to harm or kill for money? Are HIV/AIDS and, more generally, health and well-being just grist for some broadcast “debate”-mill whose ONLY aim is profit?

    And speaking of money – I think my statement stands: Mitch, Steve, and Gary got their money. Whether they got it for the station (as a platform for their vanity) or for themselves, I don’t know. I have read things, but I don’t have access to their personal accounts. And while it’s perversely entertaining to watch Mitch’s defensiveness on this point, it doesn’t matter. I’ve never known a “Green” who’s so keen on closely associating with such wealthy people. From the first day to the last day of my involvement with WBAI, Mitch and Steve ended every statement with “Gary Null must return!” It’s like Cato’s “Carthago delenda est!” Entirely irrespective of the topic of discussion, it’s always and forever “Gary Null must return!”

    Well, surprise – surprise… he’s back.

    Disgusting.

  23. Alright, let’s face it, Gary Null is back on WBAI, and if he brings in a substantial amount of money he’ll stay (if he doesn’t the station will probably go under and Null will still have his large audience through his other outlets).

    Null was on before with his AIDS denialism and as Doug Henwood pointed out, Null wasn’t kicked off because of AIDS denialism.
    BTW WBAI has other iffy health advisors. Dr. Ali pushes oxygen as the cure for everything, then during fundraising the station has some Russian who says too much oxygen is the cause for our ills (he says we have to breathe less – no I’m not kidding).

    I’m not involved with the HIV/AIDS community so my knowledge is what I glean from the media.

    I didn’t buy into Null’s AIDS denialism because I heard Null say the cause of AIDS is the “fast track gay lifestyle” – that too much sex, too many drugs and too little sleep caused a collapse of the immune system. That didn’t (doesn’t) make sense to me simply because it doesn’t explain why gays didn’t suffer from AIDS in the 60’s and 70’s when many had the same lifestyle (and of course what about those who didn’t live that way).

    I will say Null’s skepticism about the medical industry resonates with me. I do believe drug companies etc often push expensive treatments that are unnecessary, or even harmful.

    Originally Null’s AIDS denialism didn’t bother me much because I had the impression that like many cancers and other diseases, AIDS was not effectively treatable and the very expensive treatments available seemed to help little or even cause harm.

    A number of years ago I noticed something with AIDS treatment had changed. Someone I knew who had been suffering from AIDS for quite a few years now seemed to be in better health than I had ever seen him. No more stories of him being rushed to the hospital, just Facebook pics of him on vacation. I was told he was on improved meds and he was not alone.

    Clearly there has been a dramatic improvement in AIDS treatment yet I never heard it trumpeted in the press.
    Perhaps this is due to a concern that people will think there is a “cure” and will stop safe sex practices.
    But a side effect is the AIDS denialists are able to continue swaying more people.

    Throwing Null off WBAI for his AIDS position and calling those who question conventional medical treatment “motherfuckers” simply gives Null and others the ability to say “The conventional medicine supporters can’t face the truth. Instead of defending their position by giving a counterargument they have to resort to namecalling and censorship”.

    Cohen mentioned Bob Lederer has become a supporter of ARV treatment.
    Perhaps it would be more effective to lobby WBAI to have a program where the progress in AIDS treatment can be revealed and the terrible fate of those who don’t get treated.

  24. Three points, other Mitch: 1) There’s been plenty of coverage of ARV treatment in the press – dunno what you’ve been reading. 2) The person, George, who called the original Mitch a “motherfucker” offered plenty of rational argument along with the name-calling. And 3) denying a dangerous quack airtime isn’t “censorship” – it’s editorial discretion. Which is mostly lacking at WBAI.

  25. Stephen wrote:

    “Mitch and Steve ended every statement with “Gary Null must return!” ”

    I’d like Stephen to point to just 5 of the THOUSANDS of letters and articles I’ve written over the last few years in which I ended with the words: “Gary Null must return!”

    Did I say 5? Okay, post just 3.

    I admit I have indeed called for the return of Gary Null. In fact, the Local Board passed a resolution to that effect 2 years go. But Stephen’s hyperbole is quite wild, as in claiming that I am “actively seeking to destroy knowledge and enable popular deception.”

    Some folks just don’t get the idea that we, the people, make decisions for ourselves. We need no condescending saviours to claim that privilege on our behalf.

    Mitchel

  26. From the other side, how does anyone get away with pretending that “chiropracty” is some sort of sound medical practice? Read the Singh book, Mitchel – these are grave charges against it as a basic scam with some limited benefits. The others, the GNC, homeopathy, paryer, aromatherapy, whatever : gazillions of dollars wasted, innocent and naive people’s hopes raised on ersatz nonsense while the benefits of these not-above placebo “treatments” flow into some charlatan’s fat pockets. Again: read the book. Anybody on the susceptible left should read the book. And then decide who has the high road.

  27. I am a newly elected member of the KPFA local board. I am profoundly ashamed of Pacifica Foundation for allowing the vile nonsense of quack medicine and aids denial on a station associated with KPFA. I vow to hold any member of the Foundation Board of Directors personally responsible for any damage that results to KPFA as a result of the public shame and humiliation caused by airing this non sense (sic) or the monetary damages resulting from this sort of patently false medical advice.

  28. I agree with Doug’s three points. That said, I found that post to be a FAR more honest reply from you, Mitch than your original screed and list of nonsense questions.

    While I still wish to hear something similar to that forcefully stated by Null and until I do, I maintain the call for his removal, I herewith apologize for calling you a stupid motherfucker.

  29. Before I get my hopes up, I suppose that George was responding to the OTHER Mitchel (Mitch S) who is posting here.

    O well.

  30. Pity. So now my apology is merely for the error.

  31. Yes, I am “another Mitch” (Mitch S.)

    Doug, it’s probably more what I haven’t been reading that led to my unawareness of the progress in AIDS treatment.
    I don’t specifically look for AIDS news (My health info searches have been related to other diseases that have afflicted some in my family) but had I seen a headline “New Progress in AIDS Treatment Extending Lives” it would have attracted my attention.
    Perhaps it’s a matter of “bad news sells better than good news”.

    Bottom line is that while I think name calling and other such emotional outbursts are counterproductive when trying to convince an unbiased audience, I do understand the incredible frustration hearing someone steering ill patients away from a known treatment that can really save their life.

    And it’s the AIDS patients that are the “unbiased audience” I refer to. If a 70yr old shut-in (I’m not talking about you Monroe) is convinced that HIV is a CIA/big Pharma plot it doesn’t matter much.

    The people who are in danger of being swayed by AIDS denialists probably already harbor doubts about mainstream medicine. They are open to the argument that “Those in charge don’t want you to know the truth, that’s why they’ll do anything to shut me up”.
    I think the most effective response is calmly and patiently stating the facts especially when the facts offer so much hope.

    BTW I agree it’s not censorship.
    Nobody has a “right” to be on WBAI.
    The station management has the editorial power to decide who to put on the air to best fulfill Pacifica’s mission.
    As for “editorial discretion”, well… let’s just say in the time I’ve been a listener WBAI hasn’t been a “diamond in the rough” as much as a lot of roughage with some diamonds scattered about (Your show, Doug being one of the diamonds of course).

  32. Arguing in favor of saving WBAI with quack medical chicanery and conspiracist gossip is heinous, Mitch. You should be ashamed of yourself. Better to let a radio station die than encourage real people to die through immoral expedience.

  33. Mr. Cohen: If WBAI can’t survive without quackery, it has been doing things very wrong up to now. That is, of course, the sense of WBAI we get here in the Bay Area.

    The Nulls of this world are not within the Pacifica Mission Statement; Lew Hill would rather have died then air this sort of pseudo-science. Maybe if the local board had been actually doing it’s job of seeing that the content of the station had a relationship to the Foundation mission, you might not be in the position of either having to air a medical fraud or go out of business.

    And if you are the manager, what does that say about your skills?

  34. To Mal Burnstein (and maybe to Chip):

    Again, I never argued in favor of quackery, don’t know where you get that. I do not think that Gary Null is a quack at all. Please do not engage THAT argument, it will go nowhere.

    The sense we in NYC have of KPFA is that all the other stations were forced to make drastic cuts (by KPFA’s Brian Edwards-Tiekart, presenting the case for cuts of 30 percent of paid staff, to the national Board 2 years ago). Only KPFA refused to make those cuts, with Tiekart now arguing that KPFA should be exempt from what he himself had put into motion for everyone else.

    That’s the Democratic Party talking in the Bay Area. That faction is led by that Dem. club.

    I’ve never argued a WORD about the need to put quackery on the air in exchange for staying in business. My arguments re: Gary Null (and Robert Knight, and others) are that they had been fired illegally by Bernard White when he was Program Director, and deserves to be returned to the air, to reverse that dastardly move.

    My arguments for funding are completely different and do not depend on Gary Null at all — and I said this in Berkeley as well: EXPAND THE MEMBERSHIP by 30 percent, immediately. There are various plans that have been in place for years to do this and to improve finances — Mal, perhaps as a newbie to all this, sort of, you haven’t seen them, but they are very detailed and have to do with improving premiums delivery, recouping funds pledged but never paid, raising the fulfillment rate (I’m the one who blew the whistle on all of that at WBAI where, under Bernard White’s direction over 7,000 premiums that had been paid for were not sent out in the course of 14 months 2-1/2 years ago, and more than $65K in equipment was “disappeared” from the station 4 years ago. Doug would testify to the accuracy of all of that and more, I think.

    Mal, you’re a smart guy (if in the wrong faction :-)), please stick to KPFA’s problems. The financial problems at WBAI were caused by the faction that had been in power here for ten years — the faction that you are aligned with.

    Mitchel

  35. You want to put Null on the air; but you are not in favor of quackery? Doesn’t scan. Anyone who argues against life saving medical practice and procedures is, by definition, a quack. Or worse.

    Your sense of KPFA is wrong; but nothing I would not expect from someone who attacks the Democratic Party as being responsible for Pacifica’s problems.

    We all agree on expanding the listener base; but that may not be easy to do when the Foundation is associated with patent medicines, miracle cures and pure nonsense.

  36. The vicious and fanatical AIDSphobia and heterosexism shown by Mitch Cohen on this posting, on the LSB, and in programming decisions is completely incompatible with the Pacifica mission.

  37. libhomo’s anonymous smear is typical of trying to have a conversation with McCarthyites.

    Heterosexism? Moi? Ha ha ha.

    Mitchel

  38. One of the greatest failings of Pacifica for its whole existence is the absence of real debate. There once was a radio program called “America’s Town Meeting of the Air,” sponsored by the (right-wing, isolationist) Chicago Tribune, that presented knowledgeable, competent, spokespeople for opposing or contrasting views in a clear, extensive, civilized format.
    Pacifica could easily do just as well (and, with the available video and internet resources, much better). So instead of screaming “You’re a denialist quack/you’re an apologist for establishment pseudoscience” or “You’re a conspiracy theorist/you’re an apologist for the Bushit conspiracy theory that is Obama’s only justification for his Afghan War” etc.,we should ask for real debate on questions formulated as sharply as possible. For instance “Resolved:that modern antiretroviral treatment for people with HIV antibodies is highly effective in preventing or greatly retarding the development of AIDS,” or “Resolved: that WTC7 fell as the result of debris from the collapse of WTC1 and WTC2″
    Its time for WBAI et. al. to start a weekly, or at least monthly,
    “Pacifica Town Meeting of the Air.”

  39. Exactly! NOW yer talking!

    I’ve been pushing that debate format for a few years now, to no takers.

    Doug could use his show to do some of that, too.

    Mitchel

  40. Or whether the sun goes round the earth.

    Or how about, is Obama a Muslim?

    Or, is France communist.

    Meanwhile, outside the world burns.

  41. At his web site, Gary Null sells a

    Magnetic Chi-Belt
    Qi (energy) belt is designed to facilitate the use of magnets in the area of the prostate, colon, ovaries, uterus and reproductive organs (groin). Remove magnets before washing.

    One size fits all.

    It is on sale for $73.18 but is currently out of stock.
    I have to pity anyone who was gullible enough to buy these magnetic drawers. And fear that anybody dumb enough to shell out for these would easily enough be convinced to shelve the anti-retrovirals in favor of Mr Null’s

    Age Busters, 90 Tabs/ which he sells for $137.14 for a one month supply
    These, unfortunately, are in stock.

    or perhaps this product:
    Rock Hard 60 Tablets – Re-Formulated !

    Rock on with Rock Hard, it won’t let you down!. Rock Hard is specially formulated based on Gary’s review of the South East Asian, African, South American and Indian cultures. If over the centuries it’s good enough for them, why shouldn’t it be good enough for you?

    A 30 day supply of these goes for $72.34

  42. Wowee, the profane ad homenim attacks, the vituperations, the snarky, childish sarcasm…this is a progressive group? Say what you will about Null’s work, but please, the idea that we needn’t painstakingly question EVERYTHING sold to us by Pharma and Med establishment is queer on it’s face, and even more troubling when coming from the keystrokes of “progressives”… Are you guys only in it for the dialectic goosebumps? There’s a lot more going on here than “good & bad” “black & white” etc. Reactionary shout-downs and character assination are cheap ploys at pinging emotional bells, not clearly addressing the particular points of contention.
    This is not a matter of courtesy that I’m talking about here. The AIDS issue is but one of so many that need to be discussed intelligently , staying on topic and addressing the specifics of the science involved. That has not really happened here, and the opportunity was lost to educate those unfamilliar with the issue, and send them off with good information.
    Our troubled human history is rife with all types of (gasp) conspiracies (oh, he said the “C” word) and the idea that we should fall in line and take everything at face value is a dangerously foolish way to float through life. There IS a hierarchy, it runs all up the foodchain through human society, and we would be wise to look for all the evidence of it’s mechanations, no matter where the truth of it may lead; party or gang affiliations not withstanding!

  43. Why do you think that criticizing Null means an uncritical acceptance of pharmaceutical capital? Why are people so incapable of thinking in a complex fashion about these issues?

    How do you think that the AIDS issue wasn’t discussed intelligently? It was discussed in pretty good detail.

  44. Gary Null gets too much time in other venues already…including KPFK where he is on seemingly all night twice a week. He also has his own station, where he appears personally about a quarter to a third of the time. I’ve never been able to access the voluminous research he supposedly has stashed on his wesite….except directly through an external searchengine. If you try to call him OFF the air you will never get a return call. If you call ON the air he monopolizes the conversation and most callers end up agreeing or hanging up while he rambles and preaches and chastises us all once again. He continually brags about why he knows what he knows, why his research is superior, and why you should rejoice with him. He is arrogant and overbearing and unctious to an absurd degree. I don’t agree with the way he was dumped from BAI, and I didn’t agree with the junky programming that replaced his show…..But who am I to squawk when no one is listening anyway, and I could never register a complaint about that Null show even in the old days…so I was neutral…..
    Then I discovered he was back on BAI and a few days after his reemergence he engaged in one of his mega hard-sells…this time pushing…yes…his own products! (he has done this repeatedly on kpfk as well) But then get this! There was NO ONE IN THE STUDIO TO RECEIVE CALLS…and all you got was a recording loop and NO WAY to even leave a message. I personally tested this outrageous glitch by calling and than hanging on for forty minutes….just to see if anyone would eventually answer….no one did, and then I accidentally bumped the phone receiver button and was disconnected. Then I contacted Gary on Facebook and asked him about it and he answered by saying that there is a lack of communication within that station. (duh!) but that I could still order his “product” from his webpage (as if that’s what I really cared about anymore!!)

    There in a nutshell is what’s still wrong with that station and most personnel there.

    Nobody, if they are at all intelligent is supposed to take the word of one person…in doing personal research.

    Yup Gary is a charleton, and he is back with his strange brand of virtue…but then so is just about every other “producer” and show host on that station…

    And it doesn’t add up to anything but hasn’t since before 1977. So I for one… hear a few on the archives and a few less for real and then keep surfing the rest of the waves and the world for inspiration and knowledge…..

  45. I’ve only just come across this discussion. I listen with interest to many of WBAI’s programs; I especially enjoy Democracy Now! and Talk Back. Both Amy Goodman and Hugh Hamilton are serious, articulate, and very well-informed journalists, and I commend WBAI and Pacifica Radio for allowing their voices to be heard.

    Gary Null is another case altogether. I’d only recently become aware of his hour-long 5-day-a-week program, and almost immediately saw red flags. Large swaths of his program consist of airing grievances against the American medical community over how he is treated, and hinting darkly at conspiracies, not to the point of the science itself. (Another WBAI program on alternative medicine, hosted by Dr. Ali, wisely shies away from that sort of speculation; whatever the merit of his advice, which I am not competent to judge, at least it is delivered in a matter-of-fact tone.) It may make for “entertaining” radio, but whining about how one’s theories are treated and bemoaning the benightedness of scientific workers is just not a proper part of rational scientific discourse. In fact, it is usually a telling sign that one is dealing with a crackpot.

    Consider AIDS denialism (that HIV is the causative agent) in particular. This operates almost like photographic negative of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) denialism. In both cases, denialists often charge that the upholders of the scientific consensus are beholden to some sort of politicized “gate-keeping”. It is interesting and striking that one sort of denialist typically comes from the (self-proclaimed) left wing and the other from the right, but the basic mechanism is the same, and is based on a deep-seated misunderstanding of how science works and just how robust it is.

    In the end, Nature doesn’t give a damn about political allegiances, and a scientist stakes her reputation and career on describing as carefully and accurately as she can how Nature works. To give a simple example: if scientists determine that certain pottery glazes used for generations in an indigenous culture contain harmful lead-based compounds, one *could* argue that the scientific consensus is based on a certain Westernized “cultural narrative”, possibly at odds with a different narrative coming from the indigenous culture. Well, whatever. Nature itself doesn’t care about postmodern or political critiques of science; there are objective facts and matters of life and death involved, and the scientists involved are in the business of trying to get the facts right and the truth straight, as best as they can.

    It is not too well appreciated by most AIDS or AGW denialists just how difficult it is to devise and test theories that will withstand the scrutiny of other scientists. It is a slow, painstaking business. When scientific consensus emerges, as for example with AIDS or with AGW, that is a highly significant thing. Which isn’t to say it’s written in stone; the consensus is always open to debate. But to enter that debate, one needs to understand thoroughly and precisely what went into the construction of the consensus. The more obvious points will have been well worked over and discussed; anyone who wants to enter the arena had better be highly trained in how the science works and be able to debate with precision, otherwise they are frivolously wasting time.

    In the present case, it has been ascertained that Gary Null, PhD, has no significant clinical training. He does not appear to be up to the task of competent debate, what I have heard on his programs are tissues of vague generalities (lots of talk about “energies”, for example), anecdotes, and rants of a political nature. Such arguments should be seen as pitifully flimsy when up against disciplines of real intellectual depth and careful protocols, and I am appalled that the management of WBAI sees fit to give this guy his pulpit. It is a terrible blemish on the reputation of WBAI.

  46. Please share your thoughts with:

    Tony Bates, program director TonyWBAI@gmail.com
    Berthold Reimers, station manager breimers62@earthlink.net
    Pacifica National Board pnb@pacifica.org

  47. This debate is embarrassing for this wbai lover to read. The negative comments go way beyond whats necessary. I cant believe that you all have stooped to this level. It’s beyond “airing one’s dirty underwear”. It saddens me as a loyal, loyal listener to read this page. Since the majority of the written back-and-forth comments were between 3 people, you all should have had a meeting to discuss or proceeded through private emailing.

  48. The embarrassing thing isn’t this debate, but the shit that WBAI promulgates.

  49. And our attempt, at KPFA, to stop the Null disease from spreading to otherf Pacifica stations.

  50. The immediately preceding comment here is dated over three quarters of a year ago, so this one may be pointless. The to-and-fro is extensive, and can’t be read closely enough, but let me say this — WBAI may have entered upon a tragic path to self-destruction.

    Its chosen path of ensuring financial stability may more and more have constrained it further to choose it. *That* is truly a sad thing.

  51. I am a long time listener of KPFK in Los Angeles. For the past few years during pledge season I have subjected to the almost 24/7 self promoting programming “donated” by Gary Null. contrary to Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Null does in fact promote his very expensive supplements, Green stuff, Red Stuff etc. He usually has a female shill on the air with him excllaiming enthusiastically about his wonderful program and products. All the while mr. Null promotes his diet book with a list a claims about its efficacy that is the very definition of a snake oil salesman. As a committed progressive I am alarmed to see KPFK using Mr. Null and other self promoting self help gurus to sell pledges as it belies much of the political viewpoints of much of its programming.
    Respectfully, Sean P. O’Neil


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