Farber, Celia 1965–
Farber, Celia 1965–
Born July 30, 1965.
Journalist, writer. SPIN magazine, New York, NY, research assistant.
Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS, Melville House Publishers (Hoboken, NJ), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Esquire, Gear, and USA Today.
Celia Farber is a journalist and writer whose work has appeared in a variety of periodicals, including SPIN magazine, Esquire, Gear, and USA Today. She also served on the staff for SPIN, where she worked as a research assistant. Farber's interests are varied, but her primary focus is the many controversies and issues that have been springing up regarding AIDS and HIV over the past two decades. She has been referred to as obsessive in her research and writing on the subject, as well as dedicated, depending on which side of the controversy the speaker sits. Ultimately, Farber's writing about AIDS and the scientific research and medicines that stem from the crisis is controversial because the topic itself is steeped in controversy. She questions treatments that have long been considered effective, suggests that the HIV-testing procedure might not be as accurate as one would hope and assume when dealing with a disease that is still incurable, and she quotes individuals whose ideas are considered radical and antiestablishment in relation to the commonly followed protocols for treating HIV and AIDS. Her dissenters often attribute statements to Farber that she has never made, including the idea that HIV does not cause AIDS, a statement that Farber has been quick to note she never actually made, and which is, in fact, a misappropriation of an idea from an interview she conducted with a virologist, Peter Duesberg, who in 1987 suggested that HIV was not the cause of AIDS. Farber notes that, because Duesberg was a controversial figure, her interview was taken as tacit approval of what he was saying, and not merely the reporting of his opinions. In an interview with Joanne McNeil for the Bookslut Web site, Farber explained that ‘the stance then and now of mass media was that to interview Duesberg, to describe what he was saying, was exactly tantamount to endorsing him and agreeing with him."
Farber's first book, Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS, collects many of her controversial articles written over twenty years working at SPIN and for other publications. Time has not made the articles less controversial, and much of what is currently believed about HIV and AIDS is discounted or denied over the pages of the book. Many scientists who have refuted Duesberg's statements regarding the spread of the disease feel it is irresponsible to reprint any of his opinions, as it risks the spread of misinformation, which makes Farber's book doubly controversial. Susan Kruglinski, in a review for Discover, posed the questions: ‘When does the human tendency to question cease to promote progress and instead hinder it? Can debate be detrimental?’ Although she provided both sides of the argument, Kruglinski allowed readers to decide the answers for themselves. However, Robert K. Funkhouser, in a review for the AIDS Truth Web site, refused to pull punches, stating: ‘Celia Farber combines the unproven claims of Professor Peter Duesberg with her own ignorance and manipulates the facts to produce a massive illusion that people not familiar with the issues may naively accept as true.’ He continued, presenting the research and medical data that refutes Duesberg's ideas, and concluded: ‘This is all public information, easily found on the internet, so I find it implausible to think the author was unaware of it…. As fiction, the book is interesting. As nonfiction it's rubbish.’ Farber admits to disagreeing with some of the current medical treatments for AIDS, based solely on her observations over her time reporting on the subject. However, in an interview with Kruglinski, she pointed out: ‘I'm not a safe-sex educator and I'm not a public-health advocate. I'm a journalist…. I would like people to read my book and then they will see, in that book, that I am a vessel for all kinds of questions and concerns and anxieties about the data underlying this paradigm…. I'm like a human question mark."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Discover, November, 2006, ‘When the Writer Is Part of the Story,’ p. 70.
Time Out Chicago, July 27, 2006, Rachel Shindelman, review of Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS.
Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, December, 2005, ‘AIDS in Africa: Interview with Celia Farber,’ p. 33.
AIDS Truth Web site,http://www.aidstruth.org/ (November 7, 2006), Robert K. Funkhouser, ‘A Massive Illusion."
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (November 7, 2007), Joanne McNeil, interview with Celia Farber.
Columbia Journalism Review Online,http://www.cjr.org/ (March 8, 2006), Gal Beckerman, ‘Harper's Races Right over the Edge of a Cliff."
Discover Online,http://discovermagazine.com/ (October 19, 2006), Susan Kruglinski, ‘Questioning the HIV Hive Mind?,’ review of Serious Adverse Events.
Harper's Online,http://www.mindfully.org/ (September 1, 2006), Celia Farber, ‘Out of Control: AIDS and the Corruption of Medical Science."
Health Gap,http://www.healthgap.org/ (November 7, 2007), John Moore and Jean Bergman, ‘Behind Harper's Folly: Farber, Hodge, and the Denialist Deception."
Virus Myth Web site,http://www.virusmyth.net/ (November 7, 2007), author profile.