What I mean by this is people posting links to scientific-y fact pages, as if it's some kind of proof of something and something the individual understands. This happens on both sides, and I don't see the point of it as I'm guessing most people here lack any formal knowledge of the data. Lobbing talking point pages at one another just seems to obfuscate the whole issue: there is nothing murkier and more lame IMO than a strict scientific debate between non scientists. What I'm looking for is an honest discussion about how something like this is even possible (HIV not existing), and is this represented realistically in the world we see before us.
I think we all agree that the HIV issue is obscure, but it is also vitally important, because a lot of people are being treated with some really nasty drugs, and if they aren't actually suffering from HIV, or if HIV doesn't exist as an entity! Imagine enduring a lengthy course of chemotherapy, only to be told that you didn't have cancer in the first place!
Eleni's interview also explains extremely clearly at one point why isolation of a virus is important. The point is that you can only discover antibodies that reliably test for a particular virus, if you can test them on samples that are free from contaminants that might themselves react with the antibody. Without that step of isolation there is a real possibility that the HIV test reacts to something in the bodies of some people that isn't a virus at all!
Henry Bauer also has a paper (referenced somewhere above) about HIV which is really easy to read and understand. In the early years of HIV/AIDS, they measured the prevalence of people testing HIV positive, region by region, and also by ethnic type.
The results really are startling because they show no sign of a wave of infection spreading through the US, it would seem that your chance of testing HIV positive in the US is simply a function of where you live, what ethnicity you have, and your age and sex. Those distributions remain constant in time! Now imagine we were talking about an outbreak of some other disease - EBOLA say. Initially people would only test positive for EBOLA near a few epicentres of the disease. This would broaden as time went on, and the numbers would rise - you wouldn't get a static pattern. This in itself is awfully suggestive that something is wrong.
Is it possible for a non-existent virus to appear to exist for so long?
Well I guess it maybe if you manage to skip the actual isolation of the virus - as explained in the above article. I am sure plenty of people tried, but of course, if you try an experiment and it never works, that may be because it is a very tough experiment, but it may also be because you are trying to do the impossible.
Eleni's interview also makes clear that there are all sorts of virus-like particles floating in those preparations - including endogenous retroviruses that are made by the body from genes stored in our genome!
The scary thing is that scientists are human, and science administrators are.....politicians! It is awfully hard to get people to test the unthinkable - or indeed even to think the unthinkable, and it is even harder to persuade administrators to give funds for such an endeavour.
Science gets tidied up for consumption by the masses - including scientists in other disciplines. Think for a moment about another possible scientific error:
We hear that scientists have discovered The Higgs Boson (cue for drum role), but it takes an outsider like Alexander Unzicker to explain all the flaky messy reasons why this might not be what it seems. One detail that impressed me, is that those bosons barely live for enough time to cross the diameter of a proton (even though they are travelling at a fair fraction of the speed of light) and what reaches the detectors is much simpler decay products of decay products like electrons and positrons. Thus a Higgs detection depends on the pattern of arrivals of these particles - but there are so many particles arriving that even CERN can't store the data on a hard disk. Those patterns are detected by electronics in the detectors, and all the other data is discarded. This means there is no sense in asking to re-analyse some CERN data, because the crucial filtering step has already taken place and the vast majority of data has been discarded!
Science needs people who question all its discoveries, and they absolutely need to be listened to, and answered carefully, and that isn't what happens.