Today I received an email from my former roommate at Aberdeen University, a self-consciously quaint, and unquestionably erudite gentleman, who claims to be a direct descendant of the author of the Flashman books that must have been devoured by many British HIV researchers in their adolescence. Considering the quaint notions he conveys in the email, the genetic connection appears more than serendipitous. You decide.
"As Sir James George Frazer, so clearly has demonstrated, in his classic work on myth and magic, it's one of the first principles of sympathetic magic to visit upon oneself in some measure, or via mock ritual, the effect one wishes to achieve on others. In this case, John Moore is no doubt trying to effect "complete and utter destruction" of AIDS denialists by a cyber-ritual of self-destruction.
Sir Frazer offers following example of the contemporary practice of sympathetic magic in the Scottish Highlands:
The Rev. James Macdonald, now of Reay in Caithness, tells us that in his boyhood when he was fishing with companions about Loch Aline and they had had no bites for a long time, they used to make a pretence of throwing one of their fellows overboard and hauling him out of the water, as if he were a fish; after that the trout or silloch would begin to nibble, according as the boat was on fresh or salt water. (The Golden Bough ch. 3)
To the scientific observer it's immediately clear that HIV research is based on a similar philosophy. An apt illustration of this would be the idea of an HIV vaccine: When the infamous HI virus seems to refuse to bite on the famous HIV specific antibodies, the solution is for the HIV magicians to ritually throw into the mix some mock HIV in the hope that the little buggers will stop mutating behind their protective clouds of sugar and instead come out to nibble.
Not only does such an approach follow the time-honoured precepts of homeopathic magic, it contains subtle echoes on the molecular level of the ancient idea of ritual human sacrifice.
So you see my dear chap, HIV scientists like John Moore and their endeavors are really quite transparent to the cultural anthropologist."
I don't know anything about cultural anthropology but I must say my Scottish friend's hypothesis appears to possess overwhelming explanatory power.
Claus Jensen is a Dane living in Thailand where he is able to eke out a meager but sustainable existence as a martial arts instructor primarily because he is much taller than the average Thai, and can overpower most ordinarily accomplished Thai boxing teachers provided they are half his size and twice his age.