IUBio Biosequences .. Software .. Molbio soft .. Network News .. FTP

AIDS Origin: Statistics & Smoking Guns

Thomas Keske TKeske at mediaone.net
Fri Jan 7 21:47:02 EST 2000


Among the very earliest AIDS cases, some 11 of the first 24 in
San Francisco were reported to be gay men who participated in a
hepatitis B vaccine trial.  Similar results were reported in
New York.

How does one evaluate the significance of these connections?
This is still a controversial subject, where there is little
real need for controversy.

The "11 of 24" probability is one of the best keys to date for
understanding the origins of AIDS, if people can merely understand
the real significance.

I was advised by one AIDS author, whose opinions I value, that people
will be bored by statistics, will not understand statistics, will not
trust statistics.

That is true, but it need not be that way.  We who care about the
origins of AIDS have to fight against that kind of popular

So, one more time, let's analyze the meaning of the simple statistic.

There is no reason that the subject should be boring- it is key to
understanding the truth of how the AIDS epidemic began.

There is no reason to distrust statistics, so long as  you have an
adequate understanding of the subject.  Take a simple example: if you
have a jar with 4 marbles, two black and two white, and you draw two
marbles at random, what is the chance that both are white?

Is the answer a deceptive trick?   Does it mislead you? Is it a
subjective matter, that can be interpreted in different ways?

The answer is a pure, indisputable fact, and it is perfectly

You rely on statistics, knowingly or not, every day of your life.
If you are taking a drug, the evaluation of the safety of that drug
was a statistical process.  Your life depends on it.

If DNA evidence is introduced at a trial, the reliability of that
evidence is a statistical question.  The outcomes of lives will
depend on it.

The question of what it means, when 11 of 24 from a group of the
earliest AIDS victims are also members of a vaccine trial, is also
something that has profound impact on our future.  The revelation
that a major epidemic had been sparked intentionally, as a product of
right-wing hatred and irresponsibility, could be a death-knell for
right-wing, homophobic politics.  It could transform our entire

If the truth is that AIDS began from criminal human action, then
it is profoundly to the self-interest of the gay community
to demonstrate that truth.   It is profoundly to the interest
of right-wing homophobes, who want to preserve the status quo,
to propagandize desperately against anyone who tries to bring
forth that truth.   Much of that conscious propaganda will
be covert and disavowed.

It is therefore worth the time to study and analyze, in depth, to
make it clear who understands the subject and who does not, who is
telling the truth, and who is promoting a lie.

You should also have confidence in your own ability to understand
these issues.  The "11 of 24" probability is not highly involved or
technical- this is a straight-forward, textbook calculation.
It is perfectly equivalent to a problem in drawing black and
white marbles from a jar, and computing the probability of a given
result.  All that is needed is the total number of white marbles and
the total number of black marbles that are in the jar.   Any person
of reasonable intelligence can come to understand this issue, on
their own, with only a little work.  They do not need to depend either
on this essay, nor on any rambling newsgroup argument that there
might be about it.

In our case, instead of marbles, it is the total number gay men in the
vaccine trial, and the total number of gay men in the general
population who are *equivalent* in their degree of sexual activity to
the gay men who are in the vaccine trial.

This qualification, of "equivalent" sexual activity is important.
In computing statistics, you must be comparing events of equal

Gay men who are less sexually active therefore must be treated as
not being in the "jar", at all.  This could only bias the result
*against* the conclusion that men in the vaccine trial were
overrepresented.   We care *only* about gay men in the general
population who were equally active.

It is not necessarily essential to have *exact* counts of the
"marbles" in order to draw a nearly *certain* conclusion.  There are
such things as "reasonable lower bounds" or upper bounds.  You may
not know exactly how many pounds that you can lift.  You know for
sure that you could not lift the Empire State Building.

Similarly, you know even without making any studies, that there were
at very least more than 10 gay men in San Francisco, who were not in
the vaccine trials, and who were just as promiscuous as anyone else
in the city.  You know that there were fewer that 6 billion
(the population of the earth).

These bounds are examples carried to the absurd, just for the sake of
highlighting the principle.

We are looking at a particular problem where even the most extreme
and obvious of boundary conditions will impact the bottom line.  This
is because gay men in any city of the world, who are as sexually
active, and who travel as much, would have been equally likely to be
among the very first AIDS victims.   This means that we are talking
about a *very* large "jar".

If you have a fixed number black marbles in a jar, and you make the
jar larger and larger, adding more and more white marbles to the jar,
then the more improbable it becomes that a random handful of marbles
will contain many black ones.

If you had only 2 black marbles and 50,000,000 white marbles, the
chance of drawing a black marble in a random handful is practically

It might seem that "11 of 24" is involving numbers too small to have
any meaning, or draw any conclusion.  If it were numbers involving
thousands or millions, you would probably feel more certain of the

That is an illusion.  Those small numbers are a vulnerable Achilles
heel, by which a huge and monstrous Lie can be defeated.

If someone bets you that they can toss 24 heads in a row, then does
it, that small number is more than enough to let you conclude that
you were cheated.  The probability of 24 heads in a row would be
about 1 in 17 million.  If you were on a jury for a fraud trial, that
explanation would be enough to obligate you to vote for a conviction.

It is superficial piece of sophistry to argue that the numbers of gay
men in the vaccine trial who were among the first AIDS victims is
explainable simply because they were at "high-risk".

They *were* at high-risk: this is perfectly true.  However, we have
already said: we are interested in computing a statistic only against
the pool of all gay men who were equivalently at high-risk.

ALL of the men at "high-risk" will *eventually* get AIDS.  For our
purposes, we can consider this a given, virtual certainty.   If we
look at a *long term* study, we will find that virtually all of the
high-risk men will have AIDS.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of half the gay men in San Francisco
became HIV+, before very long.  From this, you might conclude that
the numbers of "high-risk" men were relatively large.

If we look *long term*, what we find is that nearly all "high risk"
are infected.  It is deceptive to say, in this scenario, that
"there is no statistical difference between the number of men in
the vaccine trial who got AIDS, and those in the general population
who got AIDS."

You could regard any such statement as reflective of either
ignorance or propaganda.  A huge chunk of the whole population has
AIDS, so it means next to nothing.

How long is "long term"?   We are talking about an epidemic that was
*explosive* in nature.  In general, this means that "long term" is
not terribly long.  We have to focus on the very *earliest* victims.
In this case, it is sufficient to prove our point by doing that,
because we have already described how seeming small numbers can lead
to solid conclusions (e.g., 24 heads in a row).

Say, for example, that the average man in the vaccine trial had 100
sex partners in a year.  Compared to any other gay man who also has
100 sex partners in a year, the man in the vaccine trial should be
all rights be no more likely to be among the first AIDS victims.

Of course, both men are at risk, and will probably get AIDS,
*in time*. That, however, is not the question being asked, here.
The question, is, who should be the *first* to get AIDS?

Regards of their "high" risk level, they are still of *equal* risk.
The presence or absence of the vaccine injection should therefore
not be expected to play a role.

There is wide variability in how many partners different gay men
typically had, before the AIDS epidemic.  Most males, gay or straight,
tend to think of sex every few minutes.  The amount of sex they had,
in the uninhibited, pre-AIDS world was limited more by the
practicalities of opportunity.

Some had no partners in a year, others had 1000 or more.  Typical
might have been perhaps a couple per month to once per week, or
every other week.  We can sit and debate this, or we can do
something meaningful, and try to collect data (as I already have,
and critics have not).

How many sex partners did the men in the vaccine trials have?   It
averaged to about one per week, a level that I maintain is not highly
unusual for urban gay males of that period.

We are typically assured that the disproportionate numbers of gay men
who got AIDS, compared to heterosexuals, should not surprise us, or
make us suspicious, because of the supposed level of gay male
promiscuity, in general.

It is a quite ironic, relatively outrageous affair in this particular
debate, where the existence of general promiscuity would work to
*raise* the level of suspicion in the net conclusion, that the
typical pattern of argumentation does a complete about-face.

So long as you pick men of *equal* sexual activity in your
calculation of the "11 of 24" probability, you have excluded any
question of "degree of sexual activity" as a valid explanation
(or "excuse") for why the vaccine trial participants would be
so overrepresented among the early victims.

To make the calculation, you need figures for:

  #1 how many gay men who got vaccines ("white marbles")

  #2 how many gay men of equal sexual activity in the general
     population ("black marbles")

  #3 how many gay men were "drawn at random" as the sample of the
     first AIDS victims (24, the "random handful of marbles")

  #4 how many of those men in the random sample were from the
     vaccine group (11, the "number of white marbles in that
     random handful").

The size of the "jar" is #1 plus #2.

The number of men who got vaccinated (#1) was listed as 6000+ in Dr.
Leonard Horowitz, "Emerging Diseases: AIDS & Ebola, Nature, Accident,
or Intentional".  This is the figure that I used in my previous post,
that went through a detailed calculation.

Dr. Alan Cantwell has qualified this, to say that only some 1000 men
actually received the vaccine.  The rest where were involved in the
study, but not as vaccine recipients.

This actually *helps* to support the bottom-line conclusion: the
smaller the number of men who got the vaccine, the less likely that
they should have been "drawn from the jar" among the first victims.

As for #2, that is the figure of most dispute.  However, you must
consider what is the real size of this pool.  Any gay men in the
world could have been first to get AIDS, if they were equal in sexual
activity and degree of travel.  Previously, we had attempted to
compute merely on the basis of the number of sexually active gay men
in San Francisco *alone*.

Many people on the newsgroups did not understand that this was merely
a starting point, and a reference, chosen because it is an easier
number to attempt to estimate.  We now have data on how many gay men
in San Francisco contracted AIDS over a long period.  From that, we
can reasonably suppose a large portion of these men to have been at
relatively "high-risk"- a retroactive evaluation based on the fact
that they did in fact come down with AIDS.

Furthermore, there have been studies of sexual practices of gay men,
and numbers of partners.  Repeated studies have tended to show that
gay men were continuing with unsafe practices even *after* all safe-
sex campaigns that should have cut down numbers of partners and the
most dangerous activities.

The probability for the "11 of 24", as estimated from San Francico
*alone*, was already in the range of the astronomically improbable.
Add to this, that we cut the size of the vaccine group from 6000+ to
1000+.  Add to this, that we increase the "general population" to
include all the gay men in the world who were equally active.

The net result goes from the astronomical to the unimaginable.

If you know the data needed as input values you simply plug them
into a textbook formula.  So long as the input numbers are
accurate, then the output, computed probability is correct.

If the output probability is small enough, then the result implies an
outcome that is not explained by random chance.  If the "general
population" figure (#2) includes only gay men who are *equal* in
sexual activity to those in the vaccine group, then "high risk"
from sexual activity does NOT explain the difference.

The statistical formula used for the computation cannot be
disputed by a competent statistician.  This is a simple, common
type of problem, using a simple, textbook formula.  Only the
input data supplied to that formula can be disputed.

The input data are not beyond of the grasp of any single person on
this newsgroup or mailing list to investigate to their heart's
content, if they are not personally satisfied with the figures.

What does it mean?

You must consider the context.  Prior to the outbreak of AIDS, we
have public record of scientists who experimented with cat
retroviruses - the same family as HIV, and a family never previously
known to have contributed to human disease.

The cat retroviruses spread sexually, and suppressed the immune

One of the same scientists, Don Francis, who was involved in these
AIDS-like cat experiments, moved directly on to work with the
hepatitis B vaccine trials of gay men.

So, we had scientists investigating sexually-transmitted,
immune-suppressive retroviruses, followed immediately by a
vaccine trial on society's most hated members.

In this, we see a clear connection to a new phenomenon: those same
widely-hated men dying of a sexually-transmitted, immune-suppressive

Anyone who still pretends not to see why a reasonable person might
draw an inference from this, should not be taken seriously.

A government that would kill you, is a government that would also
manipulate you with propaganda.  It would be trying to smear and
discredit anyone who trys to explain the truth to you.

The material in this essay is simple enough, that no gay person
reading it has any excuse for being fooled by propaganda, save for
their own laziness, contemptible gullibility and shameless apathy.

Do not passively believe what is written here. Do not passively
believe what the Devil's advocate, mud-slinging critics say.
You can figure it out for yourselves, if you only try.  Study it.
Think about it.

Tom Keske
Boston, Mass.

More information about the Microbio mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net