Saturday, January 03, 2009

Killed by the "facts"

Interesting Bad science about HIV -> AIDS denialists, particularly Christina Maggiore, who curiously was not jailed despite murdering her daughter.

Ms Maggiore, who was HIV positive, denied that HIV leads to AIDS, and refused the appropriate treatment. Unfortunately for her, HIV does lead to AIDS, and she died of it.

Here's the thing about denying the facts because you are an adherent of some cockamamie theory: it can kill you. That's true whether you believe prayer or pomegranate juice cures illness. When it's some guy versus the entire scientific establishment, it's nearly always the former who is wrong. Revolutionaries in science do not generally gain fame by denying objective facts, but by suggesting new places to look for new facts, or by providing new explanatory frameworks for the facts.

Do I mean by this that there cannot be "facts" that are wrong? Certainly not. But facts are not things held to be true; they are things observed to be true. So it may be a "fact" that marijuana will make your child go bonkers, but it's not a fact. (Just thought I'd drop that one in there.) Furthermore, it may be a "fact" that record companies have a right to profit hugely from the music you listen to, but that's just their opinion.

See what I did there? "Facts" are not just things we take to be true because they're so commonly believed to be true, but also things that are just opinions, albeit ones that are widely held. Both are poison to the rational.


At 11:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

Everything you think you know objectively has passed through the subjective layer called perception.

The idea that perception is a receptive rather than a creative activity is an opinion.

The word fact began as sloppy and has been so ill-used as to be nearly meaningless and totally useless.

And that is a fact.

At 12:31 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There hasn't even been an autopsy yet, and yet you think you know what happened. Man.. you must be reeeeely smart!

At 10:12 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Yes, because autopsies are perfect for revealing syndromes. Fuckwit.

At 12:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Dr "Zen",

Super-Clever Dude
Please check out my "denialist" angle on Maggiore's death - it should only take you about 3 mins, with your considerable intellectual apparatus.

At 8:22 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Thanks for the link. I'm afraid though that if you say things like "pneumonia is just pneumonia", you're so far from understanding that you have nothing to say on the subject, literally nothing. You don't just catch pneumocystis carinii. It's an opportunistic bacteria that attacks the immunocompromised. AIDS doesn't mean anything but "your immune system is fucked". She didn't just catch a cold, dude. Something fucked up her immune system.


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