Articles by Ed Hooper

HIV-1 in 1908? Another Sad Comedy of Errors from Michael Worobey

October 9th, 2008.

As forecast in my piece "Worobey's wobbly research", first posted on this site on March 19th, 2008, the Canadian molecular biologist Michael Worobey has just published new calculations about the age of the AIDS virus, HIV-1, which place its origins even further back in time.

His work appears in the form of a lengthy letter to the journal Nature, entitled "Direct evidence of extensive diversity of HIV-1 in Kinshasa by 1960", by M. Worobey, D.E. Teuwen, M. Bunce, S.M. Wolinsky et al.; [Nature; 2008 (October 2nd); 455; 661-664.]

A Nobel Prize for Montagnier and Barré-Sinoussi

Congratulations to Luc Montagnier and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi of the Pasteur Institute who, it was announced yesterday, have just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their discovery of the AIDS virus (now called HIV) in 1983. They shared the prize with Harald zur Hausen, from Germany, who discovered the link between Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and cervical cancer.

Michael Worobey’s Possession of 1950s Tissue Samples from Stanleyville (Kisangani)

Michael Worobey’s first active participation in the origins-of-AIDS debate is believed to have occurred in late 1999, when Professor Bill Hamilton (a highly-respected evolutionary biologist, then rated by many as the “star” of the Royal Society) was seeking someone to accompany him on his second trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to test the SIV of wild chimpanzees.

Some background. Since I first met him in 1993, Bill Hamilton had been my mentor, and he wrote a powerful and highly supportive foreword to “The River”. In July 1999, after the book was completed but before it was published, Bill and I spent just over a week in the DRC, but we had some quite serious disagreements during the trip, which focussed on whether I was there mainly to help him with the collection of samples from local chimpanzees, or was also there to conduct my own historical research into Lindi Camp and the Laboratoire Medical de Stanleyville. We had obtained visas from the rebel government based in Kisangani (formerly Stanleyville) that were good for six further months, and Bill in particular wanted to return there to do more research. Since he and I were, by late 1999, still going through a cooling-off period (and since I was busy dealing with the response to The River, published in September 1999), Bill looked around for a companion in his own Department of Zoology at Oxford University, and came across a young Rhodes Scholar, Michael Worobey, who suggested that they also bring along a Canadian friend of his, Jeff Joy, who had practical skills and experience of living in the wilds.

Michael Worobey’s Wobbly Research into the Early History of HIV

Michael Worobey’s wobbly research into the early history of HIV.

In late October and early November 2007 there was coverage in several media outlets (mainly in the US) of a newly-published study entitled “The Emergence of HIV/AIDS in the Americas and Beyond”. The lead author was Michael Worobey, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Contested Testimony in Scientific Disputes: the Case of the Origins of AIDS

Professor Brian Martin, the sociologist of science from Wollongong University, Australia, first entered the origins of AIDS debate in 1991, when he arranged for the publication of Louis Pascal's seminal monograph on the OPV theory: "What Happens When Science Goes Bad?". He has never concealed his belief that the OPV hypothesis has not been fairly treated by mainstream Science, and since about 1997, he has given me a great deal of helpful feedback on my work. During the last 15 years he has written a number of essays on origins-of-AIDS - and his sense of fairness and balance, plus his track-record as a defender of free speech in Science, have won the respect of all sides in the debate. At the Royal Society conference in 2000, he made a speech on "The burden of proof and the origin of AIDS" which caused a significant amount of defensive anger among supporters of Hilary Koprowski and the bushmeat theory. In his latest essay on "Contested Testimony", available here, he examines the question of whose testimony on key issues such as the CHAT campaigns in Africa (that gathered by Stanley Plotkin and associates, or that gathered by Edward Hooper and associates) is more likely to be reliable.

EH 3/11/07

"Back in ten minutes" - A Personal Message From Ed Hooper

I have greatly enjoyed the feedback and comment which this site has engendered since it first opened three years ago.

During those three years I have received thousands of messages and enquiries, and I have replied to the great majority. Occasionally one slips through the net, and to those persons I have failed to respond to, I do apologise.

The Death of Professor Paul M. Osterrieth - and its Significance for the Origins of AIDS debate

Professor Paul Osterrieth's long struggle is over. The man who worked at the Laboratoire Medical de Stanleyville (LMS) between 1956 and 1960 (for the last three years as head of the virology lab) died shortly before Christmas, and he was buried on December 22nd, 2006 at his village in the Ardennes. I am reliably informed that there was a large congregation at his funeral, including fellow-professors from his last place of work, the University of Liege, at least one of whom spoke warmly about him at the service.

Smoke and Mirrors from Stanley Plotkin

In the past on this site [for instance in "Plotkin's Chums (1): Eminent scientists sign their names to falsehoods"], I have referred to identical or nearly identical letters written by Stanley Plotkin and his allies to TV executives and film festival organisers, urging them not to show "The Origins of AIDS" documentary. The reason they offer for writing such letters is inherently dishonest, for each letter is based on the false assertion that the OPV theory of AIDS origin has been disproved.

Apart from legal threats delivered through their lawyers, this letter-writing campaign has been one of the major approaches that Dr Plotkin’s group have used in their ongoing attempts to counter, and indeed to suppress, the OPV hypothesis.

I have received copies of many of these letters, which I am holding in reserve for an appropriate moment. However, I have decided that it worth posting details about one such initiative on this web-site, to give readers some idea about how Dr Stanley Plotkin operates.

The Seeds of Doom

A new drama documentary about the origins of AIDS.

The Seeds of Doom
Story of a controversial theory about the origin of AIDS

The author and performer of this one-man play, Christian Biasco, is a 33-year-old Italian-speaking Swiss man who is taking a DEA (which falls somewhere between a Masters and a PhD) in the History of Medicine at the University of Geneva. After first coming across the origins-of-AIDS controversy in 2001, he decided to choose this as his specialist topic, and as the subject of his dissertation.

He also decided to write a play on the subject, "The Seeds of Doom", which he has performed in over 30 venues in Switzerland and northern Italy in the last three years, eliciting warm praise and considerable interest among those who have seen it. Christian refers to it as a "drama-documentary", and whenever possible he takes questions from the audience after the performance.

Three Warnings About Potential Future Malpractice by Members of "the Bushmeat Group"

Updated 13/08/06

I trust that my response to Beatrice Hahn’s latest article “The Hollywooding of Science” has not only restored some balance in the “origins of AIDS” debate, but that it has highlighted the flimsy nature of some of the claims that are routinely made by key advocates of the bushmeat hypothesis.

Some of the more common of these flawed claims are that Lindi camp used the “wrong subspecies” of chimpanzee, and that phylogenetic dating analysis “proves” that pandemic HIV-1 existed in the 1930s, long before the polio vaccine trials. Of course, the most common claim of all by the Hahns is that they have “laid to rest” the OPV hypothesis. But not one of these claims stand up to scrutiny.