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Is Deepak Chopra an ally?

Spirituality and alternative health promoter Deepak Chopra has revealed himself to be an AIDS dissenter as detailed in popular atheist Jerry Coyne’s blog.

AIDS dissenters are more than happy when new people swell their number, particularly high-profile figures such as Chopra. However, the nature by which Chopra came to be a dissenter will disappoint followers of the popular camps within dissidence, camps that are – in my belief – most closest to the truth of the HIV/AIDS debacle: Duesberg and Perth.

Chopra believes that HIV may be pathogenic in people without appropriate defences (not a Duesperthian view), and while he’s warm on lifestyle as a factor, he gets a little cold when talking about thoughts and feelings as a [direct?] cause.

Because Chopra is not an atheist he becomes a double target for Coyne. i.e. as Chopra doesn’t think much about evolution, the fact that he is also an AIDS doubter is unsurprising. This is actually a non-sequitur as there are many AIDS dissidents who have no time for religion (as disclosure I’m one of them) – but let’s not get into that debate here.

While I would bet on Coyne as the more intelligent of the two (and definitely much much more than myself), he falls spectacularly on AIDS knowledge. Coyne believes that untreated HIV+ people are certain to progress to AIDS (or “HIV disease”), so he must be oblivious to many non-progressors of up to 3 decades who have taken little or no medication. He uses the line “certain to get a disease that is highly likely [to] turn into full-blown AIDS without medical treatment”, but what does that mean? Does he mean that HIV causes HIV disease that becomes AIDS, or that HIV causes a milder form of AIDS before ‘full-blown AIDS’? Coyne may just accuse me of playing with semantics.

Coyne is also a little bit behind the times in singling out AZT as useful. Not only is AZT monotherapy no longer the preferred choice (argued as inferior in use compared to combined HAART), it was surely responsible for many deaths that could have been entirely prevented.

The funny thing is that Coyne’s myopia in believing accepted science to (almost?) always be correct is what has made him both almost certainly correct (evolution) and almost certainly wrong (HIV). Chopra seems to have a more artistic than scientific approach which has made him almost certainly right on what Coyne is almost certainly wrong about. From popular dissident perspective, Chopra just needs to knock on the door of Duesberg or Perth now.

One needs to be careful in believing that one representative of something is representative of the whole group. Chopra does not represent all (not even most) AIDS dissidence, in the same way that the discourse and beliefs of some atheists are not representative of all atheists. There is no HIV dissidence club in which one passes a test and gets a membership card.

If many of us are mindful to know the difference between a minority religious extremist, a typical peaceful believer and those who just engage in the culture, we should know we can find those shades everywhere.

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