Intellectual Magazine Smackdown?

We love a good war of words between two esteemed, intellectually high-brow publications just like anybody else. Or even the beginnings of one. The latest installment: The Nation‘s Richard Kim railing against Harper’s decision to publish a “15-page article by well-known AIDS denialist” Celia Farber, a former Spin writer (like Spin needs to be even remotely associated with any more scandalish news this week). In it, Kim says, Farber “extensively” repeats Berkeley virologist Peter Duesberg’s discredited theory that HIV does not cause AIDS.

Kim digs in:

It’s a shame that a magazine as well respected as Harper’s has shirked its duty to report on these issues and instead published Farber’s article.

Uh, game on? Cuz it sounds like it’s game on.

Still, why is the comments section always better fodder for a smackdown than the actual shot across the bow?:

I am always sympathetic to skeptics and contrarians, so I was curious to read Celia Farber’s HIV articles.

In 1987, when I subscribed to Spin.

Note: Kim also posts a relatively scathing letter from Gregg Gonsalves of Gay Men’s Health Crisis to Harper’s, the greatest hits of which are after the jump.

If Harper’s was some fringe publication or supermarket tabloid then we could all laugh at Farber’s weird conspiracy theories and pseudo-science. The sad thing is that unlike the hoaxes perpetuated on the New Republic by Stephen Glass several years ago, Ms. Farber’s reputation as a crank is widespread.

If you choose to report falsehoods as truths when it comes to HIV/AIDS, how can I trust the veracity of the rest of what appears in your pages?

Yours truly,

Gregg Gonsalves