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Casey Cohen Challenges Dr. David Gorski ('Orac') to Respond to Al-Bayati's Second Report on Eliza Jane Scovill's Death


November 11, 2006

Dear Dr. Gorski,
I am helping to organize a debate on the issue of AIDS denialism to take place in February of 2007 in New York and am writing to ask for your participation in this historic event. Our intention is to demolish the basis for any further discussion on the topic by exposing and refuting purveyors of false information.
The debate will take place before a live audience of 200 but will reach millions of people via WBAI radio and other Pacifica stations around the country. It will also be permanently available on-line as an audio file that anyone, anywhere in the world can download.
We are negotiating sponsorship from POZ magazine (as you may know, POZ editor Bob Ledderer is on the WBAI board) and will have a moderator from ACTUP New York, hopefully Larry Kramer himself.
Since the event features four participants, we would like to have you plus anyone you’d care to have join you as representatives for the fact that HIV causes AIDS. We will cover travel and accomodations for you and the participant of your choice.
The “denialism” side will be represented by Christine Maggiore and a partner of her choice. Given your strong position against Maggiore and the stinging critique of her pathologist’s evaluation of her daughter’s autopsy report at your Orac site, we can’t imagine a more appropriate expert to take on Ms. Maggiore.
Maggiore has already confirmed her availability for February. The exact date of the event can be established to suit your convenience.
I look forward to your prompt and affirmative reply–and to meeting you in person.
Casey Cohen

November 13

Dear “Casey,”
Sadly, I must decline your kind offer. My reason is simple:
Yes, I know how to use Google, too, and I also know Nick Bennett (at least by correspondence). The above link came up first on my search, and this page came up second:
No doubt my declining of your kind offer will soon be added to the page above.
P.S. You must be pretty desperate to ask me to be involved in this. After all, I seem to recall your saying about me in your exchange with Nick Bennett: “Orac is great for spreading the word, but it’s your word he’s spreading. He’s not even in a position to reply with authority on his own. I mean, who is he? He’s got a name like a magician and his web site looks like the opening scene from Star Wars!”
I’m hurt, particularly since you now apparently know who I am. Besides, I wrote the post below before ever having read Bennett’s takedown:
Of course, you’re also behind the times. I presently blog for ScienceBlogs:
Unfortunately, I was forced to lose the science fiction-themed background when I agreed to join ScienceBlogs. C’est la vie. I reach many more readers now than I did then; so it’s a small price to pay.
Heck, maybe I’ll critically examine Al-Bayati’s new “report,” now that you’ve made me aware of its existence. Thanks for letting me know about it.

November 17

Dear Dr. Gorski,
Thank you for the prompt response. I defer to your Google mastery after my unfortunate, and apparently, infamous failure to locate Dr Nicholas Bennett (AKA “Nick Bennett AIDS”)
I will also apologize for not realizing your alter-ego Orac had been “unmasked,” and that your true identity (Dave Gorski, medical doctor and Ph.D) was common knowledge. Pardon me if I don’t understand the nicknames and secret identities of you AIDS authorities.
My entree into the controversy was the Harper’s article someone at work with “dissident” inclinations laid on my desk. The article left me deeply troubled, but these feelings were quelled by the swift arrival of a report on the 50-something errors in Harper’s. My return to certainty was short lived, however, shaken by the “denialist” reply to the errors report by “Team Gallo.” The reply was not met with a blistering retort by Team Gallo, but an unsettling silence, as the gadfly at my office still points out to this day.
She points to this silence as having great meaning, something I attributed to her having practiced too much yoga. But not long after the silence following the “denialist” response to Team Gallo, she laid the article about Eliza Jane on my desk from LA City Beat, and again, there’s no “official reply,” only silence.
This was followed by more silence a month or so later when she and her organizing committee sent out email invites to Bennett, John Moore, etc. to debate with Christine Maggiore. I was appalled that not one of Maggiore’s “very vocal critics” stepped up to the plate for what should be a home run with bases loaded. Concerned and pissed off, I jumped into the fray, on no one’s side but my own.
I tried to get Moore and Bennett who are all about silencing “AIDS denialists” to show up for a debate where the purveyors of untruths would be silenced in defeat. Instead, Bennett comes up with “the dog ate my homework” level excuses, Moore goes off like a demented bully, and everyone runs like sissies from the uncredentialed Maggiore who anyone with half a degree should be able to take out in 45 minutes.
This sort of response from our supposed leaders looks unattractive at best (and suspicious at worst) to the foot soldiers stuck in the middle of this “AIDS war.” You AIDS leaders all are starting to look less like commanders and a lot more like a band of snipers firing at anything that moves.
Of course, I recognize that you are not Bennett or Moore. And we both know you are not replying “sadly” to decline a debate. It’s true, the invite was not was not “a kind offer” but one posed by an agent provocateur, but what difference does it make if the invitation is issued by a fan, a free agent or “the other side?” If you have the answers and the degrees and all expenses paid, you show up and put your mouth where your blog is.
Knowing I am not your friend or your fan, will you debate? The conditions are exactly as outlined.
If you won’t debate, will you at least respond to the new report on Eliza Jane that “Nick Bennett AIDS,” our resident expert on pathology (pun intended) chooses to ignore? And if that’s too much, maybe you can explain why is everyone citing Mr. Bennett–a pediatrician in residency–on matters of pathology while calling Maggiore’s pathologist a fake and/or a veterinarian when her pathologist is actually a pathologist. Was it “Orac” or “Nick Bennett AIDS” that came up with this lame strategy?! And now Bennett says the lung tissue slides in the new report are fake. Next, we’ll be hearing Eliza Jane faked her death and is living at Graceland with Elvis.
Will Orac/Gorski be an AIDS leader or a bunch of hot air with a web site?
Thanks for your time in any case,

November 18

Dear Dr Gorski,
I checked the ScienceBlog site where you write now under your actual name hoping to find a refutation of the new report on Eliza Jane Scovill. Alas, nothing appears on this important topic.
Since you prepared your own critique of Al-Bayati’s first report on Eliza Jane “before ever having read Bennett’s takedown,” I expect we’ll see your retort to this new document once you’ve finish writing about vital issues like football games and Patch Adams.
I especially look forward to your opinion on the lung tissue slides which Bennett says are fake, and to know whose side you’re taking (Al-Bayati’s or the coroner’s) on sexual abuse in the case of the other little girl.
Please don’t do a disappearing act or borrow from Bennett’s bag of lame excuses, the lamest being “I can’t get involved with legal action pending” when pending legal action against Maggiore didn’t stop either of you from getting involved the first time around.
This new article from Al-Bayati needs a response from at least one of the two experts who famously refuted the original.
PS Can I take you to lunch sometime or do you only eat in elevators like Bennett? : )

November 21

Casey (if that is, in fact, your real name):
You sure can’t take a hint, can you?
You approached me under false pretenses to try to get me to participate in a debate at WBAI that, as far as I can tell, is nonexistent, while pretending to be enthusiastically on the side of the conventional scientific view that HIV causes AIDS. You approached me as a second thought, only after having failed to trick Nick Bennett using similar tactics. Even after your ploy has been discovered, you’re still trying to goad me to respond by insulting my choice of blog topics.
That you expect your goading to work after your chicanery or think that I care about what you’d like me to do vis-à-vis the Al-Bayati report is truly astounding to me. Tacking a little smiley emoticon at the end with an offer for lunch doesn’t make up for your behavior before.
I’ll give you one thing, though: You have chutzpah. Too bad that’s not enough.
P.S. By the way, say hi to “Jessica (Jess) Fletcher” for me.

November 21

Please re-read my original message. I did not invite you to a “debate at WBAI” but to a debate that would be broadcast via WBAI and other radio stations in the Pacifica network.
Bennett was originally invited to “dialogue” with Maggiore by organizers of an event at the Concord School of Philosophy and American Literature. No tricks, no tricksters. Bennett declined citing short notice and schedule conflicts–understandable. But then none of the other physicians, scientists, bio-ethicists, etc, agreed to show. I could not believe that not one AIDS expert would take on Maggiore in Concord.
Since I really, sincerely (yes, even desperately) wanted to see a face off between Maggiore and any one of you AIDS experts, and in a convenient location, I invited Bennett to New York myself. Wanting to avoid the Concord problem, I gave Bennett three months advance notice for event in New York. To my shock and amazement, Bennett declined again, this time for a variety of reasons that became more and more illogical, contradictory, and finally, idiotic. I figured Bennett might have some physical deformity that made him feel uncomfortable appearing in public so I let him alone and moved on to John Moore.
Moore refused to debate and called me all kinds of names just for asking. I found his behavior totally inappropriate and unbecoming to a scientist, so I went back to Bennett thinking he, being the world’s leading supporter of the coroner’s report on Maggiore’s daughter Eliza Jane would at least respond to the new report on Eliza Jane’s autopsy, and maybe meet me for lunch.
Apparently, Bennett doesn’t use his mouth for eating or talking. After shouting to the world that Eliza Jane died of pneumonia, Bennett has nothing to say about the photos of Elisa Jane’s lung tissue slides which seem to show she didn’t have pneumonia. The slides are posted on the internet for everyone to see, and to my shock and amazement, all Bennett can come up with is that the photos are fake. This seems highly unlikely since Maggiore filed a law suit against the LA County coroner and will surely use these slides as evidence.
Bennett had no reply to the question of whether a child with a high total lymphocyte count (10,800) could have AIDS when studies on the topic say a child needs a low total lymph count (1,500 to 2,000) to have AIDS.
Nor would our great expert Bennett explain if a missing HIV test on Elisa Jane is a problem, now that all kinds of people everywhere who counted on Bennett to be right are wondering if Bennett was right.
So I moved on to you hoping you would show up to face off with Maggiore and set the record straight or at the very least, show us all why you agree with the coroner’s report that Elisa Jane died of AIDS and that the other little girl was sexually abused and murdered by her parents. You and Bennett very publically took the coroner’s side, dragged all of us along with you, and now that we need you to defend this position, you won’t.
Apparently, unless I’m your best friend, you and Bennett won’t answer any questions, and won’t even have lunch.
The very least you could do is debate Maggiore. You’re a medical doctor with a Ph.D and she’s a high school graduate. Could odds possibly be more in your favor?
I have no idea who Jessica Fletcher is (assuming that’s a real name), but if I run into her somewhere, I’ll say hello from silent Dave Gorski.
Thanks loads,


No further word from 'Orac' since November 21, 2006…
No analysis of the second Al-Bayati report…

© Copyright May 18, 2009 by Rethinking AIDS.