This is not a book review. I tried doing one and it wasn’t of use to anybody. What follows is very much my own thoughts as a consequence of exposure. Perhaps one could tell that by the introductory definition. Worry not; you should see the relevance soon enough.
Nevertheless, the ISBN is 3752629789; enough to find the book in a library (a what?) or online.
The book “Virus Mania” was originally written by European authors Engelbrecht, Köhnlein and Scoglio; recently joined by Kiwi Doctor Samantha Bailey in the latest edition. That edition has a whole new chapter addressing the current global calamity in the context of the ideas presented earlier in the book.
I “cheated” and first skipped straight to that chapter. At the end, I had the following to say:
The authors explain the nature of infection and what is necessary to establish causal links between a purported pathogen, testing for that pathogen and associating an illness with a suspected pathogen. Readers ought to be surprised to discover that causality has not been established; lacking in all three aspects. Foremost for the individual is that no unique set of symptoms has been associated with the virus in question.
I found the book to be readable; all the big words are explained along the way. Language is engaging and the subject appears to be well researched, referenced to hundreds of sources (over a thousand) identified in the book’s Literature section. You might miss your stop if you’re reading it on the bus.
You could buy the book based on just that chapter.
While the book is readable without it, the reader should have a fundamental understanding of chemistry to benefit fully. e.g. If you were day-dreaming in chemistry class, it would be confusing to read about the immune system benefiting from “increased reduced thingamagiggus” without recognizing that in chemistry; oxidation is the opposite of reduction.
If you’re not using the book to study for an exam (not yet recommended as currently “the Science is settled” and this book presents ideas disturbing to a belief system) then all those funny biochemical, microbiological, biological and medical terms aren’t burdensome. You don’t have to understand what they mean beyond what is explained by the authors. There is no test at the end of each chapter. Nevertheless; one should always pause to think with one’s own mind about what has been read.
While reading, you are thinking with the mind of the author. Pause and think for yourself when the author reaches a conclusion or has presented a new idea. Don’t accept it simply because it has been written and appears to be argued. Consider the argument and imagine counter-arguments or different conclusions from your own experience, knowledge and understanding.
Science doesn’t require belief. It requires understanding and accepting the possibility that one might be wrong.
Germ and Terrain Theories
In physics, light behaves simultaneous as a wave and as a particle. Two theories are applicable; though neither, by itself, fully explains the behaviour of light. So why should we expect one theory to explain disease, a vastly more complicated thing?
The authors explore the Germ Theory of Disease and the Terrain Theory of Health.
Several of the authors are Medical Doctors so their intrinsic interest is in patient health; not just the treatment of illness but indeed the maintenance of health. The lives of Doctors would be vastly more comfortable if they had mainly to deal with regular health checks; and the occasional treatment of physical injury.
We’re all aware that our health can be impaired by a myriad of factors; injury and subsequent recovery being only one.
I have perhaps too often pointed out that Mother Nature is a heartless bitch. The Universe’s existence is in your destruction. We’d like to delay that destruction as much as possible. You will suffer and even die painfully if you don’t selfishly take care of your own health by minimising the stupid things that you know that you’re doing. The capacity of our organism to repair is finite, requires resources and it’s at a cost of feeling eased vs dis-eased.
Such is the basis for Terrain Theory. You can read about it in detail elsewhere but it’s relevant to point out here that it was how Doctors interfaced with their community in decades past (I’m not talking about leeches!) when e.g. they told caring, new parents to let their offspring play in the gutters. To train the young (immune systems) for the battles to come.
The immune system is a silent battlefield. Spotters identify an intruder and the system calls in the commandos to fire their nitric acid bullets to kill the pathogen and infected cells. Then the swabbies are called to mop up the mess. It’s a little more complicated than that.
Needless to say, a well-trained and resourced immune system will be more able to deal with any pathogen fairly quickly and effectively. Such immune response is quite clearly observable when dealing with fungi and bacteria.
Virus Mania addresses the supposed, modelled and marketed aspects of the virus, exposing it as both an area of science that requires proper attention and as a belief system.
Being too tiny to observe optically and only barely with electron microscopy; and even in theory, not being alive as it cannot reproduce without hijacking the (usually? mitochondrial) machinery of a living cell, much viral behaviour is deduced from biochemistry and microbiology.
Human cells have external skin (membranes) that aren’t easily penetrated by any old thing. Not even a virus. Were that the case, then we couldn’t have evolved past a soup of proteins and nucleic acids. In order to hijack the cell, a virus has to persuade the cell to open up a gate. Such requires more than just knocking on it (attaching to specific protein key on the surface of the cell). The cell has to respond by release of a trans-membrane substance (a “protease”) which is thought to cleave (cut) part of the virus’ surface so that it has a key to open the gate. Only after the gate has opened, can the virus inject its RNA (identity) which splices itself into the host cell’s DNA, using the cell’s machinery to make copies of it’s own RNA. But that RNA is trapped inside the cell unless more protease is released, creating an exit for the freshly generated RNA to escape the cell’s membrane to complete viral reproduction.
Of course, I could be completely wrong in my understanding. Damnit! I’m an Engineer.
Everything seems simple until one begins to study it. And the soup of exosomes; outside the host’s cells contains vastly more different things than viruses. There are random proteins, acids, bits of decomposing cells, minerals, inter-cellular messenger substances, … and cellular excrement; chemical waste from cellular metabolism. Much of it seems like unexplored frontier.
Surely we must be able to reverse that soup’s secret recipe. Alas, we haven’t. We’ve tried but isolating each tiny component is fraught with practical limits.
Size isn’t generally a problem once has isolated an exosome; swimming in a fluid entirely by itself. Kary Mullis developed a laboratory method called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) which allows many copies of the substance to be made; sufficient for analysis such as sequencing. While PCR works well when looking at DNA, RNA will not replicate, it may be spliced chemically into known DNA so that the DNA’s replication will include substituted RNA information. Sufficient goop can be produced for sensitive chemical reagents to identify nucleic acids. You can watch a video of the lab procedure on YouTube.
You also have to know what you’re looking for. It’s not just what components are in there, it’s how the bits are connected; assembled. Isolating an manipulating with whole nucleic acid fragments is already difficult but establishing the sequence by physical means isn’t feasible with present technologies. Would it surprise you to learn that sequences are established via the rules for assembly that have been determined by a committee? And codified in computer models used for sequencing the chemical responses of e.g. PCR-generated soup?
And therein lies part of the problem of identifying a virus. Any virus or similarly-sized exosome. It’s impossible to separate it from the soup. Any sample suspected of containing a virus will inevitably contain other bits of soup of similar size, including other sequences of nucleic acid that may be intercellular messenger substances produced by the host’s cells in response the presence of the virus; or just any old metabolic excrement.
The colourful illustrations often published and used by authorities in their PR are artists’s impressions. i.e. basically Science Fiction. Greyscale electron micrographs of several, barely discernable, odd-shaped specks amongst other odd flecks would be “less convincing” than a mini-death-ball with threatening red spikes.
Putting it another way, the conclusion one could arrive at is that noodles are a part of chickens because the chicken soup had noodles in it. Thus, virologists may be distracted to address the noodles with chicken instead of just the chicken.
Evidence shown and conclusions drawn by the authors support doubt in virology as it is practiced; especially in the aid of industrial pharmacology and political power. Least of all because that is the substantial source of funding.
The parallels of virology as it is apparently (mal)practiced to alchemy becomes all the more apparent when observing the defence of single truth mounted when questions are asked about details of processes and how conclusions are drawn. The infidels and heretics are denounced, frequently defamed and all too often silenced by making them unheard.
The undeniable truths combine with the potential leverage of limitless inventable, imminent threats by invisible and undetectable (without expensive means provided by the employees of the manufacturer) hobgoblins, political power ambitions take hold; the public suitably distracted by fear propagated though “if it bleeds, it leads” media; and indeed all media that benefits from promoting the new fantastic anti-hobgoblin of the day. It no longer matters that one is not actually ill. What is important that there be a test, by proxy of course, to uncover a disease that one might have and to infect others; others also not becoming ill after testing positive to the same proxy indicators.
There’s always a new virological hobgoblin with anti-hobgoblin from the alchemist’s bench. An unknown virus to explain every mystery ailment. Such has been the case for the past 40 years or so. Many were going to wipe out all human life if we didn’t take their advice and medication. But in the past century much more human life has been wiped out by a single political ideology than any biological pathogen. And in conjunction with fear, indeed threatened to wipe out almost all life on the planet.
Fear; the Main Threat
Fear weakens immune systems (all stress does) and tends to make people stop thinking; listening instead to guidance on what to do from those that they trust; as was generally appropriate in their childhood. One ought to be able to grow out of it; distinguishing between irrational fear and fear from real threats. Understanding the reason for fear is useful to both ignore the irrational and useful in addressing real, physical threats.
Having now read the whole book its major flaw is that the earlier chapters are sorely in need of editing. There is repetition of details even within chapters giving the impression that writing had been a haphazard, hurried effort. It’s plausible that that was exactly the case.
The consequence is that the earlier chapters present heavy reading with the reader experiencing deja vu all too often; perhaps feeling that they’ve already read the rest of the chapter.
Gaps in the layout are only a minor niggle with paragraphs broken by inexplicable whitespace as though a Winston Smith had clumsily erased lines of uncomfortable content.
Less comfortable is that a sans serif typeface has been chosen for the text of the body. After more than 50 years of reading I’ve grown accustomed to serif typefaces in the body and sans serif for headings, captions, etc. as was standard practice in publishing journals, technical papers, books and newspapers. Serif typefaces, with the curly, round bits on the end tend to need more space horizontal space, resulting in more pages.
None of these uglies ought not be too troubling in the audio book version; where repetition and pauses are an advantage.
The authors are probably very busy with their day to day work to indulge us too frequently with updates.
I want to see how the quest ends. If the Church or if the Heretics gain the upper hand.
That’s my 2000 words on the matter. For now.
Thank you for reading this far.