Sunday, June 23, 2013

#612: Stephen Davis

Ray M. Davis, Jr., a.k.a. “Florida man with no background in science”, may have been qualified for an entry on the basis of his remarkably fallacy-filled and incoherent letter to the Gainesville Sun – it’s a fairly typical rant displaying no understanding of any of the matters involved, and may represent a rather wide-spread kind of ignorance and denialism.

The purpose of the Encyclopedia is, however, primarily to expose the movers and shakers behind this kind of denialist anti-science attitude rather than confused, local clodpates, and Ray Davis is hardly an example of the former. Stephen Davis, however, is a good one; he may not be a creationist, but he is a HIV denialist, which is probably an even more insidious form of denialism. Davis is (at least allegedly) also a former Arizona State Senator and US Army “Physician’s Assistant” and author of a novel that claims to be “the true story of how government lies and incompetence, gross medical malpractice, and unbridled greed by a drug company cost 300,000 American lives in just ten years.” Yes, he is a crackpot conspiracy theorist and no, he has no background in science, any more than the above-mentioned Florida man. He is a little more zealous, however, and has produced some rather incoherent screeds in which – naturally – information made up and posted on his own website trumps anything published in peer-reviewed journals. His book Are You Positive was at least endorsed by Liam Scheff, who calls himself “The Conspiracy Realist”, and who praised it for his contribution to the literature on “morbid flaws in today’s quasi-religious medical establishment.”

A list of prominent HIV denialists (including Davis) can be found here. To get a feel for the level of incoherence among your general HIV denialists, you could peruse the comment threads on the otherwise excellent posts here, here, and here, though it is definitely a challenge to your mental health to do so (Stephen Davis’s claims are both, uh, defended and discussed in said comments).

Diagnosis: Appallingly crazy conspiracy theorist and jughead denialist. He is not among the most prominent proponents of this particular brand of madness, but his influence is substantial enough to be a real threat to civilization.

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