NOW ON KINDLE: The Corona Conspiracy: Combatting Disinformation about the Coronavirus
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Frank Visser, graduated as a psychologist of culture and religion, founded IntegralWorld in 1997. He worked as production manager for various publishing houses and as service manager for various internet companies and lives in Amsterdam. Books: Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (SUNY, 2003), and The Corona Conspiracy: Combatting Disinformation about the Coronavirus (Kindle, 2020).
Frank Visser brings light and sanity to the miasmal confusion of suspicions and misinformation. (David Quammen, November 23, 2020)
The Alternative Facts of Virus Denialism
The Corona Conspiracy, Part 5
The idea of a virus that makes you sick is a transparent fraud, a fatal lie with dramatic consequences. Stefan Lanka
This is a game of playing fast and loose with scientific facts, in support of an anti-science natural medicine ideology.
We have had quite a bumpy ride in this series on the Corona Conspiracy. First, David Icke, the King of Conspiracy, claimed a connection between 5G and COVID-19, while at the same time denying there was any virus to worry about: "There is no COVID-19. It doesn't exist." His interview with London Real attracted over one million viewers. His source for this claim was psychiatrist Andrew Kaufman, a self-styled expert on virology and health, who admitted he had found no evidence for it. Science-Quacks: 1-0.
Kaufman, in turn, claimed that viruses actuallly didn't exist. "There is no evidence for a virus." Scientists had mistaken very small cell particles called "exosomes" to be viruses. But exosomes, far from being harmful to our health, are in fact helpful because they help us to get rid of toxins, he said. COVID-19, if it existed at all, was a variety of ailments, mostly caused by environmental factors or stress. In support of his virus-exosome equivalence claim he quoted AIDS virologist James Hildreth, who had been reported as saying "the virus is fully an exosome in every sense of the word." However, this quote was taken out of context. Hildreth is a staunch believer in the reality of viruses, as is any mainstream scientist. When asked, he flatly rejected Kaufmans interpretation. "The virus is real. The pandemic is real and is caused by the virus." Science-Quacks: 2-0.
Then, to touch basis with the exosome research community, which is a very specialized are of cell biology, in Part 4 I contacted three exosome experts, from Sweden, the US and the Netherlands, to verify Kaufman's suggestions in more depth. None of them saw any value in these fabrications. Some viruses may look like exosomes under the microscope, in some phases of their life cycle, but that doesn't apply to all viruses everywhere. Viruses differ widely in their visual appearance. And more importantly, relying solely on a microscope is old school virology, since genomics and bioinformatics have now taken over, much to the benefit of our understanding of the various life forms and how they relate to eachother. Everything under the sunfrom animals and plants to fungi, viruses and bacteria, even the most primitive archaeahas been sequenced these days and aligned within the larger Tree of Life. Science-Quacks: 3-0.
The message is clear: there is no virus, actually there are no viruses at all. Science is mistaken if it thinks it has sequenced the full genome of SARS-CoV-2, all of its 30.000 base pairs, because it has just sequenced random cell material, that occurs naturally in all humans. "The virus has never been isolated." As a consequence, the genome sequences of this particular coronavirus, which are now available by the thousands, are unreliable artefacts of the methodology followed. The core claim of these virus denialists is that the so called PCR test, which is designed to detect viral material, is highly unreliable, because it doesn't detect anything interesting, other than random cell material. And didn't the inventor of this test, Kary Mullis, a Nobel Prize winner no less, clearly say it could not be used to detect viruses? No, he said exactly the opposite, as we have seen in Part 1. These tests, if they are well prepared, are highly specific and perfectly capable of detecing SARS-CoV-2. Science-Quacks: 4-0.
Now there is a clear pattern here: this is a game of playing fast and loose with scientific facts, in support of an anti-science natural medicine ideology. What motivates these people, and is there any factual basis for these extreme claims? And what are the wider ideological backgrounds often related to these views? We quickly end up in right-wing, anti-government, conservative, nationalistic territory. A spirit of rebellion and privileged knowledge ("we know what is really going on") is cherished. Remember David Icke's book title: Everything You Need to Know But Have Never Been Told? As the conservative blogger and commentator Michelle Malkin said it in a recent protest against compulsory vaccination: "They may have billions of dollars, but we have truth and light.... We are on the side of God, God is watching over us!" Resist! This is the heartland of Conspiracy Country.
The message is clear: there is no virus, actually there are no viruses at all. Science is mistaken if it thinks it has sequenced the full genome of SARS-CoV-2, all of its 30.000 base pairs, because it has just sequenced random cell material, that occurs naturally in all humans.
In Part 2 I listed fifteen aspects of the current scientific view of COVID-19, and explained how all of these could be questioned, either from a dissenting-scientific or conspiracy point of view. Let's flesh this out first, to get a feel of the extent to which this view can be and has been denied.
As you may have noticed in the last item, "Viruses have always been there, if they exist at all", there is an incompatibility here between those who flatly deny the existence of viruses, so the whole pandemic is a staged "plandemic", and those who accept their existence but don't see them as major enemies to our health. There's a similarity here with what we saw in the times of AIDS, when some flatly denied the HIV virus exists (Stefan Lanka is an example, we will come to him in a moment), while others more specifically denied HIV causes AIDS (Peter Duesburg represented this view). We could compare this as well to the Young Earth creationists (who literally believe creation happened 6000 years ago) and the Old Earth creationists (who accept the age of the earth as taught by science): their views are incompatible but both oppose the standard scientific view of evolution.
The Virus Goes to Court
It is the most extreme form of denialism, which denies the very existence of the SARS-CoV-2 virusor any virus for that matterwhich interests us here. Kaufman refers to Stefan Lanka as his major source for this point of view. Lanka is a German biologist who wrote his PhD on virus infections in brown algae, but who turned virus-denialist at some point of his career. He became famous when in 2011 he announced a prize of € 100.000 for anyone who could show him a scientific publication that provided evidence for the existence of the measles virus (and its size). When medical student David Bardens sent him six articles doing exactly that and claimed the prize, Lanka refused to pay. Bardens went to court and the judge in a regional court ordered Lanka to pay the reward. However, Lanka successfully appealed to a higher regional court, which decided Bardens' submission did not meet Lanka's requirement of getting just one publication, from the Robert Koch Institute. In alt-med circles this was celebrated as legal proof that viruses don't exist. Of course, it is nothing of the kind. In the end this question is decided by science. One might as well ask for an article that proves the moon exists. One would be hard pressed to find one. Does that mean there is no moon?
Where does this view come from, that illnesses are not caused by viruses but are psychosomatic in origin? One would suspect that without a virus, the whole worldwide phenomenon of a new disease spreading throughout the world and causing hundred thousands of deaths is impossible to explain. Is it all a matter of environmental pollution, misdiagnosis, mass hysteria, government oppression and evil forces and so on, as virus denialists want us to believe?
Viruses have actually played a large role in history, and will allways do. When the Spanish conquerers invaded South America, large populations of indigenous tribes were decimated because they were infected with smallpox and measles, for which these tribes had no immunity (contrary to the Europeans). When large numbers of French soldiers died of yellow fever in Haiti, Napolean decided to sell large parts of his New World territory to the new US government, which could expand its own territory without going to war with European powers. And because so many native Indians had died of contagious diseases, the slave trade received a boost because black people turned out to be immune to yellow fever, which had its origin in Africa. Did these indigenous populations really just die of separation anxiety, water pollution or bad diets?
The core argument of Lanka c.s. seems always to be that viruses have never been "isolated" and that electron-microscopic photos are in reality photos of normal cell particles. It must be understood that, according to standard scientific theory, viruses behave differently from bacteria, which can easily be isolated and grown in a lab. Viruses are non-cellular forms of life, which can't reproduce themselves unless they have entered a cell. Outside of cells there are just particles (called virions), but once inside a cell, they hijack the cell's machinery to multiply themselves.
The first virus that was discovered was the Tobacco mosaic virus, in the late nineteenth century. Even though it would take a long time before viruses could be photographed, it was suspected there should be entities smaller than bacteria that could cause infectious diseases. Viruses are smaller than the wavelength of light (which is 400-700 nm), so can't be viewed with a light microscope. When electron-microscopy was discovered, black and white pictures of viruses could be taken (which were often artificially colored to enhance visibility). Virus denialists like Kaufman and Lanka often claim these pictures are actually of regular cell components or are manipulated, but that's irrelevant. The original form is clearly preserved, color is secondary. It's like seeing beautiful Hubble telescope pictures of galaxies, these are also articifially colored. Does that mean there are no galaxies? What is more, does this Tobacco mosaic virus particle look like a random cellular particle? Not at all.
In Lanka's wordview, viruses exist everywhere in nature, but are harmless. Huh? Didn't he deny the existence of viruses? The only viruses he acknowledges to exist are bacteriophages ("bacterium eaters"), which he interpretes in his own peculiar way:
In one liter sea water there are for example hundred million different viruses. As a matter of luck our health professionals and doctors have not yet heard of it, otherwise we would soon have a law which allows for bathing in the sea only with a body-sized condom.
This is plain silly. The fact that we are surrounded by viruses does not mean they are all dangerous to human life, far from it. "Many viruses cause little or no disease and are said to be "benign". The more harmful viruses are described as virulent." (Introduction to viruses, Wikipedia)
But according to Lanka, all in nature works out for the good:
Biological structures, that produce something negative, have never existed. The foundation of all biological life is being together, is symbiosis, and there is no place for war and disturbance. War and disturbance in biological life is an opinion of sick and criminal brains.
Has Lanka never heard of the survival of the fittest? Evolutonary arms races? Snake poison? For him it is all a matter of symbiosis, viruses all living happily together with us. There is a curious imbalance in this view of nature. All life and no death. All cooperation and no competition.
Lanka goes on:
During my studies I have never found any evidence for the existence of viruses that make one sick... Structures that have been characterized as viruses can be found in many types of bacteria and in simple, bacteria-like forms of life... Very important, viruses are components of very simple organisms... and of many bacteria. In bacteria they are called phages. But in more complex organisms, especially human beings, or in animals and plants, none of the structures that have been called viruses have ever been observed. Unlike bacteria in our cells, the mitochondria... viruses can leave the cells because they are not needed for their survival. So viruses are components of cells that can leave the cells. They support other cells, in that they transfer energy substances to them. Nothing else has ever been observed.
Lanka seems to treat viruses as exosomes, or extra-cellular vesicles, as Kaufman now does as well. When it comes to photos of viruses in human cells, how much denialism is every enough to ignore them? There are simply too many of them.
GERMAN NEW MEDICINE
Lanka's view on a viral disease such as the measles is that it is "basically a skin irritation caused by a mixture of psychosomatic triggers and poisoning" (Wikipedia). He wrote the book in German: Der Masern-Betrug (2006, The Measles Fraud). But Lanka is no psychologist or psychiatrist, so we must look elsewhere for his sources. We find it in the so called "German New Medicine" created by Ryke Geerd Hamer (1935-2017). It sounds strange to call a medical approach "German", as if there is French science, Italian science and German science. At most we can say there is science, and then there is alternative "science", in its many forms. The term becomes more ominous when we read that
Hamer claimed that his method is a "Germanic" alternative to mainstream clinical medicine, which he claimed is part of a Jewish conspiracy to decimate non-Jews. (Wikipedia).
It gets even more absurd, paranoid and ridiculous:
Hamer purported that his method is a "Germanic" alternative to mainstream clinical medicine, which he claimed is part of a Jewish conspiracy to decimate non-Jews. In this, Hamer repeated the antisemitic claims of Nazi physician Gerhard Wagner. More precisely, Hamer asserted that chemotherapy and morphine are used to "mass murder" Western civilisation, while such treatment is not used in Israel...
So... the Jews use a method of cancer treatment devised by a German antisemite, while at the same time they are using real science to decimate non-Jews. David Icke, who is also into the Jewish conspiracy business, would have nodded approvingly.
“Icke antisemitic conspiracies viewed over 30 million times, new research shows. Centre for Countering Digital Hate calls for removal from social media.” (The Jewish Cronicle, May 1, 2020)
Lanka said this about his indebtedness to Hamer in the following interview in the German magazine Vitalstoff Journal:
For viruses as the cause of illness there is really no place in biology. Only when I ignore the New Medicine from Dr. Hamer, according to which shock events are the cause of many diseases, when I ignore the knowledge of chemistry about the effects of poisoning and deficiency and if I persistently ignore knowledge of physics about the effects of radiation, there is room for fancies like pathogenic viruses.
Here we have them again: trauma, pollution and radiationbut no virus in sight. It is the same analysis that Kaufman provided (see Part 1).
In Hamers excentric form of alternative medicine, there are "five biological laws":
As Wikipedia concludes:
Therefore, according to Hamer, no real diseases exist; rather, what established medicine calls a "disease" is actually a "special meaningful program of nature" (sinnvolles biologisches Sonderprogramm) to which bacteria, viruses and fungi belong. Hamer's GNM claims to explain every disease and treatment according to those premises, and to thereby obviate traditional medicine. The cure is always the resolving of the conflict. Some treatments like chemotherapy or pain relieving drugs like morphine are deadly according to Hamer.
What is worse, "Hamer served numerous prison sentences for illegally treating patients: in 1992 and from 1997 until 1998 in Cologne and from 2004 until 2006 in France. After his release he set up business in Spain and when things got too hot for him there he went into hiding in Norway. The total number of victims runs into the hundreds, and no cured patients are known."
Here's a multi-part introduction of German New Medicine by Caroline Markolin, a former teacher of German language and literature in Montreal who discovered Hamer's work in 1999 and started studying with him in 2002. She is spreading Hamer's message, who died in 2017, to the English speaking world.
It is the totalizing nature of these medical claims that should raise suspicion, especially when it is presented as a cancer treatment. Cancer is a terribly complicated disease for which no single model suffices at the momentlet alone that one model could accommodate all illnesses. By declaring cancer to have psychological causes, one burdens the patients with a terrible plight: if you die, your belief just wasn't strong enough. Just read Ken Wilber's Grace and Grit (1991), who went over this territory when his wife was diagnosed with high grade breast cancer.
As cancer surgeon and skeptic David Gorski comments, in a devastating critique of German New Medicine:
If there’s one thing about the German New Medicine that feeds in to what I’ve thought for a long time now, it’s that many “alternative medicine” beliefs seem to demand some sort of “meaning” from disease. The cancer patient, when faced with the horror of his or her disease, will rail against the unfairness of it all. And indeed it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair at all. Cancer sucks...
We see all these themes coming back in social media discussions about the coronavirus. We don't get sick from a virus, but from the vaccination we are forced to take. Our government doesn't try to flatten the curve, it is trying to rob us of our freedom. When we are told we have cancer the shock we feel produces cancer. Scientific theories are put under the microscope, but alternative "theories" about the cause of disease can flourish freely. And so on. But we can heal ourselves!
I won't drag you further into this cesspool of virus denialism, cancer quackery and raging antisemitism, but you see the common elements: medical science is denied in toto in favor of some self-fabricated "Theory of Everything Medical". Viruses and bacteria are re-interpreted as throughout beneficial and not the cause of any disease, if they exist at all. Instead of relying on science, all kinds of health products are sold, promising cures and wellbeing. The paranoid feeling of "everybody is against us but we know the real truth" is cherished. This is paranoid science in optima forma.
Now there is, of course, nothing wrong with having a healthy lifestyle. On the contrary, it may even prevent many of our Western diseases like obesity, diabetes and stress. The reason why I dig up this background material of Kaufman's claims is that I perceive a tendency towards false dichotomies in this field. People are said to die, not from SARS-CoV-2, but from underlying illnesses. That doesn't contradict SARS-CoV-2 from pulling the trigger. Yes, environmental pollutions worsens our health conditions, but are not in itself the cause of this viral disease. And yes, elderly people are always more vulnerable to the flu, but this particular pandemic seems more severe, especially in its later stage complications.
The picture of health and disease is always complex, and theories are very difficult to test in this field. But what doesn't help is that one part of the storyeven the very existence of its most probable causeis flatly denied, in favor of untested and all-encompassing claims to health and wellbeing. If one wants to overturn science, the first step is to have an accurate knowledge of it, including its most recent advances. Even though the origin of viruses has not been fully clarified, there is at the same time so much knowledge about these entities in science, that dismissing this out of hand, without actually engaging the field in the proper forums and journals is unproductive. Assuming professional scientists are duped by the photos of little blobs in cells into thinking they see viruses is just beyond any reasonable plausibility.
We've had evolution denial, holocaust denial, climate change denial. Now we have virus denial, or more in general germ theory denial. What's next: atom denial, gravity denial, reality denial? What's so attractive in these extremist states of mind?
It is time to deny denialism.
In the sciences, denialism is the rejection of basic facts and concepts that are undisputed, well-supported parts of the scientific consensus on a subject, in favor of radical and controversial ideas. (Wikipedia)
 Sarah Zhang, "The 'Dark Matter' of the Microbial World", The Atlantic, March 7, 2017
 See: "The David Bardens vs. Stefan Lanka law suit", Wikipedia.
 Michael Oldstone, Viruses, Plagues and History: Past, Present and Future, Oxford University Press, 2010.
 "Keine Panik - Die Wahrheit über Vogelgrippe, H5N1, Impfen und AIDS - Interview mit Dr. Stefan Lanka", Vitalstoff Journal, Unabhängiger Informationsdienst für Naturheilkunde und orthomolekulare Medizin, www.naturepower.de, 2005.
 "German New Medicine (GNM): Hamer House of Horrors", anaximperator.wordpress.com, July 1, 2009.
 David Gorski, "The 'Iron Rule of Cancer': The dangerous cancer quackery that is the 'German New Medicine'", sciencebasedmedicine.org, October 5, 2009.
83 Vaccine Myths from docbastard.net
To all those who claim SARS-CoV-2or any virusdoes not exist: the virosphere consists of 4 realms, 9 kingdoms, 16 phyla, 2 subphyla, 36 classes, 55 orders, 8 suborders, 168 families, 103 subfamilies, 1421 genera, 68 subgenera, 6590 species. Take that. https://talk.ictvonline.org/taxonomy/
A summary of early parts of this series has appeared in the Dutch magazine Skepter 33(3), September 2020, as "Viruses don't exist" (covering Parts 1-5). German: Skeptiker (December 2020); English: Skeptic.org.uk (January 2021)
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