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AIDS Origin: Statistics & Smoking Guns

David Johnston johnstd at labcorp.com
Sun Jan 9 16:57:00 EST 2000

AIDS did not originate in San Francisco. 
Therefore, whether or not these volunteers were infected with HIV
through a vaccine trial is irrelevant to the origin of AIDS.

David Johnston, Ph.D.
dmj7 at bellsouth.net

On Sat, 08 Jan 2000 02:47:02 GMT, "Thomas Keske" <TKeske at mediaone.net>

>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.

dmj7 at bellsouth.net

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