Sunday, May 15, 2011
What Constitutes Common Knowledge?
Guest Post by Concerned Citizen
Very recently I attempted to engage in dialogue at his HIV Skeptic site. From the start of my argument it was obvious that I was not a dissident, but to his credit, Bauer went along with the dialogue. Unfortunately, the dialogue ground to a halt after my third post. I attempted a discussion on the reliability of HIV Testing based on the specificity of antibodies. As proof of the highly specific nature of antibodies, I gave an example of vaccinations. Vaccines are incredibly successful against the organism being inoculated against because of the specificity of the antibody elicited. I also conceded that the dialogue was doomed to failure since Henry claims HIV has never been isolated and therefore, by that logic, the specificity of the antibodies to could not be confirmed.
I stated that Henry’s rationale would be along the lines of an argument I have seen him put forth in two separate papers. In those papers, Bauer claimed that Reverse Transcriptase (RT) was not an adequate marker to be utilized in HIV isolation because, as Bauer claims, “RT is found in every living cell.” As proof Bauer provided two citations:
One claimed RT was found in Drosophila and the other that RT was found in E. coli. I simply pointed out to Mr. Bauer that just because RT is found in those two organisms is not adequate proof to extrapolate that “RT is found in every living cell.”
Much to my consternation, Mr. Bauer made two shocking claims. First he stated that antibodies are not specific to anything and demanded I provide citations of such heresy. Second, and in direct contradiction to his request for me to prove antibody specificity, Bauer claimed that “RT being in every living cell has been common knowledge for over two decades” and therefore refused to provide further proof to support his claim. Does anyone else see the hypocrisy in that? Let me explain.
First of all people have been getting vaccinated for hundreds of years. Vaccinations work as a direct result of the Adaptive Immune System (also know as Specific Immune System: hint, hint, Bauer) responding specifically to the pathogen being inoculated against. The adaptive immune response provides the vertebrate immune system with the ability to recognize and remember specific pathogens. The body responds to future assaults with Memory B Cells and Memory T Cells. As opposed to the Innate Immune System (aka non-specific), this reacts in a general, non-specific fashion relying on cytokines and complement cascade. Most people have a general understanding (or common knowledge) of how vaccinations prevent them from being susceptible to infection by the pathogen to which they have been vaccinated.
Specificity of antibodies as explained by PalMD:
“ are part of the adaptive arm of the immune system that recognizes specific invaders. (Emphasis mine) The immune system also has a passive arm that can respond to molecules that look generally like invaders. Antibodies though are very specific. (Emphasis mine) One may recognize a particular surface molecule on a staph bacterium, another an . The arms of the "Y" on the immunoglobulin molecule are the end that bind to antigens (molecules that form parts of various bacteria, viruses, and other invaders) and can bind very specifically, like a lock and key.” (Emphasis mine)
Here is a description of the structure of antibodies and why they are able to have such incredible specificity from Virology Blog:
“Binding occurs in a small region near the ends of the heavy and called the hypervariable region. As the name implies, this region is extremely variable, which is why vertebrates can produce millions of antibodies that can bind many different antigens.”
On the other hand, I highly doubt that there is “common knowledge” of Reverse Transcriptase either by the general public or even by scientists. I am sure Bauer was referring to the latter when he made his specious claim about the “common knowledge of RT for over two decades.” I am further disinclined to believe this statement when I stopped to consider the fact that RT was only discovered in 1970 and that was in a retrovirus. If RT is indeed as prolific as Bauer states, why was it not found until 1970 and in a retrovirus and not in some other random, normal cell? So I doubt that there has been common knowledge of RT in “every living cell” for 20 years when it was only discovered 40 years ago in a retrovirus. Simple logic would dictate that truth.
I believe that Bauer is (intentionally) confusing Reverse Transcriptase with that of , which is a type of RT. When Bauer claims that RT is found in all living cells, he may be referring to Telomerase. Telomerase is an enzyme used during cell mitosis to make telomeres to protect from being lost.
“To make sure that information is successfully passed from one generation to the next, each chromosome has a special protective cap called a telomere located at the end of its "arms". Telomeres are controlled by the presence of the enzyme telomerase. A telomere is a repeating DNA sequence (for example, TTAGGG) at the end of the body's chromosomes. The telomere can reach a length of 15,000 base pairs. Telomeres function by preventing chromosomes from losing base pair sequences at their ends. They also stop chromosomes from fusing to each other.”
It’s hard to know exactly what Bauer is discussing because he refuses to provide a simple citation to support his dubious statements. Instead, Bauer suggests I read his entire blog, I buy a $345 textbook or else buy a book by John Lauritsen. (I would rather stab myself in the eye than read Lauritsen.) Maybe Bauer is right. (And maybe the moon is made out of cheese.) But why is it OK for Bauer to make me support my obviously true statements and he feels that I should just take him at his word?
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 2:45 AM