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Professor Marco Ruggiero’s Existential Virology

Ecce l’articolo tradotto in Italiano

In a press release on December 20, 2010, Rethinking AIDS (RA) president David Crowe announced the latest and perhaps most prominent recent addition to his Board of Directors:

In other news Rethinking AIDS has added a new member to their board of directors, Dr. Marco Ruggiero, a board-certified medical doctor and clinical radiologist. He is a full professor of molecular biology and genetics at the University of Firenze, Italy where he teaches in the Faculties of Medicine, Sciences (chemistry, biology and biotechnology) and Engineering. He spent two years as post-doctoral fellow at Burroughs Wellcome Co. (Research Triangle Park, NC, USA) in 1984-86, where he had the opportunity to collaborate and publish with Nobel Laureate Sir John Vane.

Dr. Ruggiero subsequently spent three years as post-doctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD, USA, sharing the office with Professor Duesberg as he was visiting the Laboratory. Afterwards, he spent two years as Lab Chief at the Sigma-Tau pharmaceutical company in Milan, Italy.

Dr. Ruggiero became associate professor of molecular biology at the University of Firenze in 1992, and full professor in 2002. The research of Professor Ruggiero deals with the study of the molecular mechanisms responsible for cell transformation, signaling and death in different human pathologies from cancer to AIDS. The results of his research have been published in peer-reviewed, PubMed-indexed, scientific journals and in book chapters.

Although it was not evident then, RA was at the same time announcing its new official view of HIV and AIDS, based on Prof. Ruggiero’s authority and strategies for introducing dissent into mainstream HIV/AIDS debate: “HIV is not the sole cause of AIDS”. This statement implies that HIV exists more or less as claimed by the mainstream, and has a causal relationship with AIDS.

RA court stenographer Celia Farber recently conducted an interview with RA’s new scientific luminary and published it on her website thetruthbarrier.com, which RA president David Crowe immediately linked prominently on his RA site. In the interview Ms Farber set out to get Prof. Ruggiero’s opinion on the existence and nature of HIV:

Q: Do you think HIV exists as a unique and exogenous retrovirus?

A: Yes I do. However, as a scientist I rely upon data. If there are data demonstrating that the nucleotide sequence attributed to HIV is homologous to sequences present in the diploid human genome, then I shall have no difficulty in defining HIV as a human endogenous retrovirus. The entire human diploid sequence (at least the sequence of one individual) is freely accessible here: NEW INDIVIDUAL HUMAN DIPLOID GENOME. It will not be difficult for anyone who doubts of the existence of HIV to compare HIV and human sequences in order to find homologies. Such homologies have not been found so far, to my knowledge.

This prompted the Perth Group to ask Prof. Ruggiero a few simple questions:

Dear Professor Ruggiero,

We greatly enjoyed reading your interview with Celia Farber and, having slept on it for a few days, we would like to ask you for some assistance.

Could you please provide us with one or more citations, which contain evidence to prove each of the following:

1.      The existence of the HIV genome in retroviral particles.
2.      The existence of the HIV genome in AIDS patients.
3.      The existence of endogenous retroviruses.

We look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Kind regards,
Eleni and Val and John.

In a follow-up mail the Perth Group elaborated:

1.  The absolutely necessary but not sufficient conditions to prove the existence of HIV is to obtain the HIV genome from retrovirus-like particles and then find the same genome in vivo.

Like Robin Weiss before him, Prof Ruggiero replied by appealing to the general rulelessness of virology:

(…) your statement that “The absolutely necessary but not sufficient conditions to prove the existence of HIV is to obtain the HIV genome from retrovirus-like particles and then find the same genome in vivo.” in my humble opinion contains an error. Id est, to make a statement without providing a rationale for this absolutistic statement. In other words, where and by whom is written such a statement, or, as you like to ask, could you please provide a quotation backing this affirmation of yours? Or, even more precisely, where is the evidence for claiming that “The absolutely necessary but not sufficient conditions to prove the existence of HIV is to obtain the HIV genome from retrovirus-like particles and then find the same genome in vivo”? … Here I pose my question for you: what are the absolutely necessary but not sufficient conditions to prove the existence of Marco Ruggiero at the light of the recent discovery of the human microbiome? Please consider that in my (?) body there are 25.000 billion clonal (hopefully al clonal!) eukaryotic cells and ten times more bacterial cells, each with a different DNA, all contributing to my individual (?) existence. If you can provide me with your definition for existence of such a composite being, then I shall try to answer your question about HIV.

The advantage of an appeal to rulelessness is readily understood. If no terra firma is found on which the discussion can take place, the positive statement, “HIV is an exogenous retrovirus”, cannot be challenged, even on its own terms. Regardless of which authority, quotation or evidence one delivers for a specific rule, it can be countered by the same appeal to rulelessness, invoking infinite regress (“on whose authority rests your authority’s authority?” etc) and relativism (“I have another equally good authority saying something different), a tactic familiar to most trial lawyers.

Or it can be countered by shifting the ground to a discussion of parts, wholes and composites in a philosophical nowhereland.

But we can get around all of this quite easily if Prof. Ruggiero could be persuaded to simply abide by the common rules of logic and scientific reasoning. In the interview with Celia Farber, he already implicitly established his criteria for proving the existence of an exogenous retrovirus. The argument can be summarised in this manner:

First part: X (a nucleotide sequence) exists

X is attributed to Y (HIV defined as a retrovirus)

ergo

Y exists.

Second part: X is non-homologous with Z (the Sanger human genome)

ergo

Y is exogenous.

The second part of Ruggiero’s argument rests on the first part, but the first part begs the question. As all arguments for the existence of HIV, it assumes the existence of that whose existence we want to prove. It also assumes that there is a defined whole of which the nucleotide sequence is a part. Even if, for the sake of argument, we allow the question-begging, this is fallacious as the following example makes clear:

Where there is a fire there is smoke

ergo

Where there is smoke there is a fire

It is easy to conceive of instances of smoke without a fire without rejecting the premise that where there is a fire there is smoke. The whole, a fire, does not follow logically from the part, smoke, even allowing that fires do exist.

So how about this:

Where there is a retrovirus there is a nucleotide sequence

ergo

Where there is a nucleotide sequence there is a retrovirus

Even if we grant the existence of HIV, the argument is plainly fallacious. It is thus according to the simplest rules of logic when the Perth Group asks that X (the HIV genome) be obtained from Y (a retroviral particle) in order to prove that X is a part of which Y is the whole. Before this is achieved, it is quite irrelevant whether it follows from the second part of Ruggiero’s argument that HIV is exogenous.

To sum up, if one understands that the existence of Y does not follow from the existence of X, unless it is already established that Y is a part of X , one need look no further for the authority on which rests the claim that:

The absolutely necessary but not sufficient conditions to prove the existence of HIV is to obtain the HIV genome from retrovirus-like particles and then find the same genome in vivo.

At this point one might appeal to induction. We might say: “So far, for every instance of X there has turned out to be a Y” – for every instance of a nucleotide sequence possessing certain defining characteristics there has turned out to be a corresponding retrovirus.

This argument is empirical, as science should be. But would it be true?

Rethinking AIDS has grown very fond of human endogenous retroviruses (HERV) lately and boasts at least a couple of board members who claim unique insight into their nature and whereabouts, so the Perth Group’s request should be easy to meet. If in every instance (other than HIV) there is a retrovirus corresponding to a nucleotide sequence possessing certain defining characteristics, it should be easy to provide evidence for the existence of at least one such HERV.

If Prof Ruggiero can provide evidence for the existence at any point in time and space for these several microorganisms he tells us now contribute their parts to his whole, perhaps the mystery of the existence of a being as composite as him would no longer be an obstacle to presenting the evidence for an entity as simple as HIV.

We are looking forward to seeing this evidence.

CLAUS JENSEN  –  with special thanks to Dr. Fabio Franchi

23 Responses to “Professor Marco Ruggiero’s Existential Virology”

  1. Gene Semon says:

    “Please consider that in my (?) body there are 25.000 billion clonal (hopefully al clonal!) eukaryotic cells”

    I would like Ruggiero, good professor of molecular biology that he is, to show evidence for this statement. It’s contradicted by recent research if he means all human eukaryotic cells contain identical chromosomes with identical DNA, i.e. clones.

    So Marco, (consider this an open letter) do you believe within the 6 billion different human beings, the information in the DNA repeat regions of human eukaryotic chromosomes is clonal, i.e. identical?

    • Marco Ruggiero says:

      Dear Gene,

      Thank you for your comment. I meant as follows: I am made of billions of clonal cells, that is all having in their nucleus the same DNA sequence, i.e. my unique human diploid sequence. In addition, in this body of mine there are ten times more bacterial cells (please see the Human Microbiome Project); each bacterium has its own DNA sequence, different than “mine”. All these micro-organisms contribute to my well being and I could not live (exist) without them. Therefore, my existence is the sum of a huge number of genomes, most of which are still un-sequenced. Since the discovery of the human microbiome, it is no longer possible to state: “Marco Ruggiero is the being identified by the unique sequence ATCGTTA …”. It is still useful for forensic and criminalistic purposes, but also in these fields the microbiome is becoming important.
      I hope to have been able to clarify this point.

      • Gene Semon says:

        Marco,

        It’s still not clear.

        Wouldn’t your B cells and T -cells be nonclonal; i.e. not identical DNA when compared to the cells as they come out of the bone marrow?

        • Marco Ruggiero says:

          You are partially right; cells of the immune system are not exactly identical (clonal) to all other somatic cells. This adds complexity to the definition of myself as the product of a single DNA sequence; thus, in addition to the considerations put forward above, there are also these other sequences contributing to my “self”. However, there is no doubt that all my eukayotic human cells (including B and T cells) derive from a single one (the zygote), i.e. one single DNA sequence. Later on, however, this sequence changed in some cells, and many more other non-human, non-eukaryotic sequences (microbiome) were added to this being. And they are all necessary for the existence in life of this being. Thus, we may convene that one single DNA sequence is not sufficient to describe the entirety of the entity that now calls himself “Marco Ruggiero”. Given these biological premises, we now need the help of a true scholar of philosophy to answer these questions that are strictly related to the fundamental question of what one calls “self”. I found inspirations in the books of Douglas Hofstadter “Goedel Escher and Bach” and the more recent “I am a strange loop”.

          • Gene Semon says:

            Marco,

            Maybe who we really are has nothing to do with molecular biology.

            It’s an oversimplification, but the “know how” from nucleic acids leads to the “strange loop” of our animal cages. I think this is what you’re saying.

            What is the self contained within these cages, something divine?

            Maybe we, these material cages, are those “love boxes” people search for on the outside.

            Is the material world, as the Gnostics said, the real “truth barrier”?

          • Rod Knoll says:

            Gene:

            In order to qualify as a “love Box”, it would apparently have to be “capable of emitting the same frequency as pure love…”(1), but hey I guess I may not be qualified to know about these love boxes because I might be considered too “lethally academic” (1)…?

            And I would say that a certain “love box” inhabitant sure seemed like a real “truth barrier” herself against us “lethally academic” AIDS dissidents ever since she stepped back into the dissident movement a handful of years ago….

            1. http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/2009/11/15/the-family-of-rethinking-aids/#comment-4780

  2. Gene Semon says:

    And Dear Professor Ruggiero, you make Claus and I feel so grand today, knowing that without the benefit of a formal PhD, one can go skating by even learned professors who wish to indulge in existential fallacies.

    Now, you say let’s not mess around, what does the data tell us. You’re a real nuts and bolts kind of guy presumably not interested in gedanken experiments, even if they shed light on a subject.

    So, extending Claus’s symbolism; where Y = putative exogenous infectious retrovirus, to what data tells us exists:

    A, B, C, D, etc are different exosomes or microvesicles that have various functions including providing signals to other cells, exporting cellular waste and transferring genomic information from one cell to another.

    The data from “HIV” experiments show that retroviruslike particles have various sizes 80 to 160 nm, various morphologies and varying amounts of nucleic acids, consistent with being A, B, C, etc and not Y.

    Y is a physical constant by phenotypic definition (the whole means every single accessory gene as well in X – the genome) and can only be one thing, not many different things that are viruslike, but not viruses.

    Isn’t that fact of Y, as explained by Claus, what Tommy Morrison demanded to be directly measured ex vivo by the Boxing Commission, sufficient “rationale” for a proper verdict on the data from “HIV” experiments?

  3. Gene Semon says:

    Rod, these are frustrating times and I wish to counsel patience at this critical moment. (really a message to myself as much as anyone else).

    Let’s forget about Celia right now and stick to the substance with Marco Ruggiero, giving him the benefit of the doubt for being nice in his correspondence with the “strong cadre”(us).

    Marco, can we have a dialog in the spirit of those Solvay Conferences that established quantum mechanics?

    Here’s something from Charles Thomas, one of the dissident founding fathers: the isolation of hiv is the only scientific issue worth exploring. This man had all the credentials and always knew what he was talking about.

  4. Gene Semon says:

    Rod I can’t argue with you in those “lethally academic” terms on whether or not a “love box”, presumably built according to the specifications of Wilhelm Reich, actually works.

    Of course he would be surely disappointed, if he were to see such a result as a “truth barrier” in the mind of a user of his invention.

  5. Marco Ruggiero says:

    Dear Friends,

    I apologize for not having looked at this symposium for a while, but we have been busy with the Aids conference in Firenze and with all that followed. Now, please let me read in detail your recent posts and I shall try to give my contribution. Now, a little warm-up exercise. Claus writes

    “Even if, for the sake of argument, we allow the question-begging, this is fallacious as the following example makes clear: Where there is a fire there is smoke, ergo, where there is smoke there is a fire. It is easy to conceive of instances of smoke without a fire without rejecting the premise that where there is a fire there is smoke. The whole, a fire, does not follow logically from the part, smoke, even allowing that fires do exist.”

    In a pure Derridian love for argument, I could very easily provide many examples of fires without smoke. By so doing I would empty Claus’s demonstration that “my” reasoning is fallacious and, if it not fallacious, it is correct. Ergo, I am right. However, I must confess that I think that two major contributions to my reasoning derive from my non-understanding of Goedel’s theorem of incompletness and Derrida’s deconstructive analyses mixed with a little study of Eristische Dialektik – Die Kunst, Recht zu Behalten by Arthur Schopenhauer. The only thing that I think I understood is that it is impossible to demonstrate any truth and that in any given system of rules and axioms there will always be a statement that cannot be proven neither true nor false (including this precise statement).

    Now, before I go on, may I kindly ask you to provide me with a definition of the existence of any retrovirus?

    Something like: “I state that Harvey’s sarcoma virus exists because …”

    By so doing you will provide the rules and axioms and we shall try to see whether HIV fits in this set of rules. I you wish, I could anticipate that I shall try to demonstrate that “no retrovirus has the attribute of individual existence” and also that “the nucleus of our eukaryotic cells is a virus”, ergo we are viruses. I am not joking; I held a lecture on this. Please take a look at Mimi, Mama and the Sputnik on my website.

    Yours,

    marco

    • Administrator says:

      Dear Marco,

      Dr. Franco had a similar objection to my example when he reviewed this piece. But, as Derrida certainly would appreciate, here we are being playful and the example with fire and smoke comes from a play on an English idiom: “where there is smoke there is fire”.

      It means if there are telltale signs or a widespread belief in something, it must be true, or there must be “something about it” that’s true.

      So for example I can say “all these scientists and doctors spending all this time, publishing all these studies, treating all these people with ARVs (“smoke”), there must be something about HIV and AIDS (a real fire)”.

      I can make the exact same argument for God or witchcraft or Venusians of course, so the idiom is often used to warn against jumping to conclusions. It is not to be taken literally as an assertion that there cannot be smokeless fires. We are simply assuming for the sake of argument that fires always produce smoke (the kind of fire meant in the idiom is of course an ordinary wood fire and those generally do produce smoke)

      But even if I had genuinely asserted that no fires could ever burn without smoke, and if you proved me wrong, I am afraid that would not mean that you are right about HIV or anything else. The two things are completely unrelated.

      To your other request, the Perth Group has carefully set out the minimum criteria for proving the existence of a novel retrovirus to a satisfactory standard. I have shown above that at least one of those criteria is not arbitrary but follows from simple logic.

      This is about an acceptable standard of proof or evidence, not about absolute proof or absolute truth; science and medicine progress nicely without absolutes.

      If you think that the Perth Group’s standard of proof is too high, or that I am wrong in saying that the whole does not necessarily follow from a part, please state your reasons.

      Or if you think science needs no agreed-upon rules, please let us know.

      Your last question: A love box is something Celia Farber spends her time in when she is away on holidays in an exclusive Mexican retreat.

      Apparently its atoms or “quantum substance” or whatever vibrate with the same frequency as pure love.

      I will not spoil the fun by asking after the scientific paper proving that love has been purified and sequenced and that its vibrations have been measured, but you could ask Celia yourself.

      Please follow the link given by Rod Knoll above to where Celia’s message of love and lethal academics first appeared:

      “Today I turned myself over to a healing place high in the hills, where they have built a box capable of emitting the same frequency as pure love. I plan to get myself into this box every day I am here, and twice on the last day.” (Celia Farber)

      Yours,

      Claus

  6. Marco Ruggiero says:

    P.S. What is a love box?

  7. Rod Knoll says:

    Claus,

    The particular love box that Celia used was apparently in a retreat in *NEW Mexico* (USA), and it was invented by an American. While I certainly don’t wish to divert Dr. Ruggiero’s attention away from his (barely) substantive participation in this otherwise substantive discussion, I do think it is important to appropriately ascribe such wackiness to its correct, American origin.

  8. Marco Ruggiero says:

    Dear Claus and Rod,

    I thank you for your clear explanation of what a love box is supposed to be. Being accustomed to our politicians’ habits “here een Italy” I had thought of something else.

    Yours,

    marco

    • Administrator says:

      Dear Marco,

      You’re thinking of a bunga bunga box not a love box, but the mistake is understandable. Rumour has it quite a few people make that association around Celia.

  9. Gene Semon says:

    Marco,

    Thanks for your response; as always you’re a pleasure to read.

    I am interested in what you have to say about large DNA viruses. The latest thinking appears to be they are the originators of cellular DNA polymerases.

    “In a pure Derridian love for argument, I could very easily provide many examples of fires without smoke.”

    Point taken, we can stipulate that such examples of perfect combustion exist. I think Claus has answered this quite well.

    Speaking of physical laws, I would say that such laws, not “logical rules and axioms” but proven physical laws (fixed constraints built into modern cells) “gating”* the “existence” of viruses as “autonomous agents” are what should be carefully examined. (Apologies for the compression; I know that was a mouthful and not very pleasurable in reading.)

    Of course, the Perth Group’s (Val and Eleni) expert testimony at Parenzee (available at this site) are the basis of an empirical logic consistent with such laws.

    I agree that in an evolutionary sense, “we are viruses”. This means to me we’re stuck with an open ended definition given the predominance of large DNA viruses with the phenotype of symbiont.

    If you agree to the stipulation that retroviruses (and retrovirus-like particles), as far as we can tell from the evidence, are not “individuals” but essential catalysts at the level of “order-for-free” systems, we can save ourselves semantic tangles and a lot of grief.

    So the essential comparison is like night and day IMO. Retroviruses, defined as “evolutionary change agents” via symbiosis with a nucleus and “human immunodeficiency viruses” that can be visualized as multipliers and destroyers in an EM micrograph, cannot logically possess the same phenotype.

    Thus, as Professor Bauer likes to define things when discussing “HIV tests”, the best definition consistent with rules of formal logic is: retroviruses are not retroviruses.

    Please review our comments at HIV Generation X for more details.

    *in the sense of Boolean logic or “downward causation”

  10. Gene Semon says:

    Apologies also for mangling the Charles Thomas statement from recall.

    Here’s the quote from Rethinking AIDS, June/July/August 1997, page 11:

    “The debate over HIV’s existence instigated by the Australians is the only issue of high scientific interest that has emerged from the HIV/AIDS mess.”

  11. Rod Knoll says:

    Gene,

    I’d like to offer just a quick note of suggestion from a veteran dissident who has (presumably) been in this “business” longer than you.

    “IX-NAY” on the omas-TAY, Gene. Charles Thomas may have said those things near the end of his involvement with the original “Group for Reappraisal”, but he ultimately proved powerless at getting any serious settlement in “the debate over HIV’s existence”. In fact, at no point during the entire existence of the original Reappraisal “Group” was ANY member of the Perth Group ever even ASKED to be on the “editorial board” of The Group nor its successor board, the “Board of Directors” of The Group. This means that Thomas either:

    1. didn’t really WANT the Perth Group to acquire scientific importance in The Group, possibly at the expense of his friend Duesberg, or

    2. he was too powerless within the organization he helped to create, or

    3. some combination of 1 AND 2.

    Furthermore, I don’t think Thomas ever published anything of substance in the scientific literature about HIV or AIDS directly (other than the watered-down letter to Science in 1995), and he was always making himself a real easy target for the AIDS industry to smear with his right-wing rants against ALL “government-funded” science, including environmentalism, global warming, etc.

    Please see: http://www.tig.org.za/History_of_Rethinking_AIDS_1.htm

    • Gene Semon says:

      Rod,

      Your points are well taken.

      Indeed I have learned a lot from veteran dissidents like yourself. When I started seriously engaging AIDSTruth, Inc (Jan 2005 at Dean’s World) at the invitation of Harvey Bialy, I was innocent, oh so innocent.

      But six years later, I am well aware that Charles Thomas played both sides of the fence. He was co-author of that “Reason” article in the 90′s that undercut the Perth Group, where they discussed the initial infection with “HIV” as a flu-like illness. Thus, not only claiming that hiv is real but also the construct hiv-disease.

      So I appreciate such comments as you’ve made and believe it’s necessary to air all the dirty laundry of the past, including Anthony’s excellent history of RA.

      After all, we should get to the bottom of why there’s no effective organization of scientific dissent against the fraudulent paradigm of HIV/AIDS.

      (Hint: it’s not because some of us are incapable of working in an organized way with other reappraisers of this bona-fide scientific controversy, as some spinmeisters would have it.)

      • Rod Knoll says:

        Gene,

        I agree with all you’ve said. However, I do think one cannot refer to getting “to the bottom of why there’s no effective organization of scientific dissent against the fraudulent paradigm of HIV/AIDS…” without broaching the fact that David Crowe-possibly by way of our guest Dr. Ruggiero-NOW seems to be steering the Rethinking AIDS Organization into decidedly ORTHODOX territory with the “HIV is not the SOLE cause of AIDS” approach they’re now spouting.

        • Gene Semon says:

          Yes, thanks to House of Numbers some believe orthodoxy itself has shifted.

          Hard core stooges for AID$ Inc. have attacked Montagnier as losing his mind for saying hiv infection can be prevented or controlled by antioxidants, proper nutrition and clean water.

          Whatever it takes to spur creative new approaches to virology – like HIV Generation X – that’s what I say. :o )

          So it makes sense to explore this new twist and I’m looking forward to more exchanges with Marco.

          Perhaps it’s not strange to think of Luc Montagnier writing an article we’ll someday see at Rethinking AIDS Website. Or an interview with him by our favorite Lois Lane.

          • Rod Knoll says:

            Gene,

            I’ll concede that I am not focused at all on the movement-either real or imagined-of anyone from the orthodoxy. I’m just utterly flabbergasted that Crowe and Rethinking AIDS obviously are now espousing what for them is DEFINITELY a “new twist”, that is, this “HIV is not the SOLE cause of AIDS” stuff! I would guess that most supporters of RA and probably many defenders of Crowe remain blissfully unaware of this shift….?

  12. Gene Semon says:

    Well, here’s a place for anyone from the old or new orthodoxy to clarify the matter.

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