Ladies and gentlemen, a magic trick*.

I am going to take two pieces of data, from two independent experiments, establishing ‘proof’ of two different concepts, presented in to different formats and to different events…

… And turn them into the same figure.

*waits for the astonished mummers to simmer down*

In my left hand I hold ‘Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’, a Science paper from 2009.

Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

We can ignore parts of this paper– they have been retracted, as it seems some samples were contaminated in a rather curious (strategic?) manner. Which is fine, because what I want you, the audience, to focus on is Figure 2:

i-2b43758e27bf90730176b0c81aa5fb68-Science Figure 2.png

Specifically, Part C:

i-cb8eb8e265b6b88d61ef774a574e2e46-Science Figure 2, zoom.png

Lets zoom in on it, to get a nice, clear image. Actually, lets zoom in on the bottom part of that figure:

i-c5e626b967ed434d7c79d3980fe7156c-Science Figure 2, zoom 2.png

Its quite clear, there are 8 lanes.

1– Normal
2– Normal
3– 1235
4– Normal
5– Normal
6– 1236
7– Normal
8– SFFV-infected HCD-57

Here is the figure legend:

(C) Lysates of activated PBMCs from healthy donors (lanes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7) or from CFS patients (lanes 3 and 6) were analyzed by Western blots using rat mAb to SFFV Env (top panel) or goat antiserum to MLV p30 Gag (bottom panel). Lane 8, SFFV-infected HCD-57 cells. Molecular weight (MW) markers in kilodaltons are at left.

Not hard to interpret, right? Some cells from healthy donors do not express XMRV Gag protein, a couple CFS patients do express Gag protein, and a positive control does express Gag. It provides evidence to support the claim that CFS patients PBMC are infected with XMRV, and are capable of producing viral proteins.

Nothing out of the ordinary. *wink*

Now, in my right hand I hold Slide #13 from a presentation a Miz Judy Mikovits recently gave in Ottawa at the IACFS/ME 2011 conference, graciously provided to us by Miz Jamie Deckoff-Jones. A round of applause for Miz DJ, everyone!

*waits for the applause to die down*


Another fairly straight forward figure. Again, 8 lanes:

1– Normal
2– 2905 PBMC
3– 2905 PBMC + 5-AZA
4– Normal
5– 1674
6– 1674 + 5-AZA
7– Normal
8– SFFV-infected HCD-57

Again, PBMC from normal individuals do not express XMRV Gag proteins… but this time, though the CFS patients did not initially express viral Gag proteins, when treated with an epigenetic modifier, they could induce Gag expression. Fairly straightforward explanation for why some patients might *appear* to be negative, but with a bit of lab trickery (we do this stuff all the time in labs), we can make a hiding virus come out and play.

How nice for us all, right? *wink*

Lets zoom in a bit:

i-12e861b44c0be2b96d7ad55f5bc59a2d-IACFS13, zoom

And fiddle a bit with the brightness/contrast:

i-79b669f0e379e44949dd75183a5b9b20-IACFS13, zoom, edit 1

Science is all well and good– Two figures, one providing support of the claim that two patients, 1235 and 1236 are infected with XMRV, the other figure showing two patients, 2905 and 1674 might appear negative, but become positive after treatment with an epigenetic modifier. Neat, but so what?

Well, heres the *really* good part!

Now, watch carefully or you will miss the trick, ladies and gentlemen!


Thats some mighty fine purple.

But how about an alternative view!!! I think Ive made my point, I just like how the far-right blob looks like a rubber ducky:




Two bits of data describing and explaining to two entirely different things… and yet I can make the two images look identical!


Am I magic…?

…or is this a case of arrogant, bold-faced, lazy-ass scientific fraud perpetrated by an apparent pathological liar?

You be the judges, ladies and gentlemen.

I know what my opinions are, but I would very much like to hear your thoughts.

* Though much of this magic trick is my own creation, the original idea was not mine. That individual/Those individuals do not wish to step forward at this time (and rightly so), but should they ever want to take credit for this observation, I will *happily* give it to them. Its wonderful, something I myself missed.

But to all you frauds out there– remember this: Dont. Fuck. With. Scientists. Individually, scientists are smart folks. And even smart folks get screwed over now and then. But together, we are always smarter than you.



  1. #1 M.E.
    October 19, 2011
    because of course its in our head- godlbless the norgwegians- at least they’ve got it right

  2. #2 RRM
    October 19, 2011

    Oh well.

    A concern of many is whether or not the institute’s research into the pathophysiology of CFS will continue. The
    answer is yes; however, the final decision as to who retains the institute’s grants is up to the NIH. Despite what you
    may have heard from other sources, NIH research grants do not belong to a single investigator.  Rather they belong
    to the institution which provides the necessary support so that the research can be conducted by another qualified
    principal investigator of the institution’s choice. 

    The news of Dr. Judy Mikovits’ recent departure may seem shocking because of the inappropriate, and untrue,
    comments made by some people who are confused or purposely trying to mislead the public.  Despite what you may
    have heard or read on internet blogs, our commitment to neuro‐immune disease research has not diminished.   We
    have not closed our research program, ended our quest for the truth, or abandoned the institute’s grants.   In fact,
    our commitment is stronger than ever

    Can’t wait for Judy’s response…. [rolls eyes]

  3. #3 David
    October 19, 2011

    levi @1099 – Thats a nice summation of the intrinsic, often hidden ‘agenda’ in the CBT model. I dont like the word agenda since it smacks of conspiracy – you know what I mean.

    Anyhow – moving on….

  4. #4 Smurfette
    October 19, 2011

    Levi – I think I was saying pretty much the same thing as you. CBT in general is larger than the CBT for CFS used in the UK. I think CFS patients would not object as much to normal CBT and methods as opposed to CBT based on “abnormal illness beliefs”. What I know about CBT is not from CFS patients but from people I know who used it to treat depression and personality disorders. Then I also saw some similarities in coaches who use behavior change methods for healthy people. CBT is not like coaching but some “coaches” who help people change behavior and thought processes use methods similar to those found in CBT.

  5. #5 OWE
    October 20, 2011

    @David, 1102
    It is amusing to see how some people refuse to learn. As one of the commentators to the news statet (taken from this web site🙂

    “This paper actually support the hypothesis that human gammaretroviruses are infecting people with ME/cfs.

    MLVs also infect B cells. By killing B cells you will be reducing the viral titre.

    The XMRV portion of the study is invalidated as they optimised their assays to VP62/XMRV, which does not exist in nature.

    Primers and conditions optimised to detect the VP62 clone in vitro is not capable of detecting the human MLV-related gammaretroviruses detected in people with ME. They could have used a 1000 assays like this and it would make no difference.”

    So, a negative finding becomes actually a positive finding…it must be our busy friend Gerwyn!


  6. #6 David
    October 20, 2011

    Yeah, some wierd reactions to this paper, some saying of course its not a cure, probably just a way to help ‘big pharma’ clear shelves or something.

    There is sort of a way in for speculation, since there are possible associations with lyphmomas leukemias and virus infections – as everyone is quick to point out – but its all speculative of course, so there is no reason at all to jump onto HGRV infection of B-cells. No one mentions EBV, that may be associated with Hodgkins Lymphoma, ‘cos Mono – quite a common pre-cursor to CFS – is not as exciting as the new lab created escapees that are deparately being covered up!

  7. #7 Poodle Stomper
    October 20, 2011

    That or that idiot v99. The authors actually did a PCR assay for a conserved region of MLVs, so much more that VP62 should be picked up. Contrary to what idiots like Gerwyn and v99 seem to think, PCR is not a hugely complex thing to do. In fact, it’s downright easy if you know what you’re doing…and they don’t =\

  8. #8 TCC
    October 22, 2011

    I have been patiently waiting for the editors of Science to make a decision about the Lombardi et al paper. I,m also expecting that they will have the courage to fully retract a paper that contains misrepresentations that the authors themselves admitted.
    In the mean time, a family of spiders have made themselves at home in my keyboard.

  9. #9 Anonymous
    October 25, 2011

    “When the full history of ME/CFS is written one day, we will all be ashamed of ourselves” Prof. Dr. Ola Didrik Saugstad, Professor of Pediatrics, WHO Advisor, Norway

    “Hopefully, one day, my dream is that our medical community will produce a formal apology to the patients for not having believed them all these years that they were facing a real illness.” Jose Montoya, M.D. Stanford University

    News from Norway: Cancer drug Rituximab alleviates Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. In other news the cancer drug Alemtuzumab is more effective than interferons in the treatment of MS, a neuroimmune disease similar to ME.

    Yes its true that XMRV-VP62 is over but the continuing research on polytropic gammaretroviruses as found by Lombardi et al and confirmed by Lo et al is far from over ladies and gentlemen.

    Bans on ME/CFS patients donating blood and organs are still in effect because:
    Identification of Differentially Expressed Viruses in American CFS Patients Probed with a Custom Mammalian Virus Microarray. Judy Mikovits, V. Lombardi, Y. Huang, D. Peterson and F. Ruscetti

    “The average chronic fatigue syndrome patient on the day they were tested had between 30-50 viruses; the average healthy control patient had 3 or 4.” Dr. Daniel Peterson, 2008 Swedish Conference.”

    30-50 viruses plus the bacterial, fungal, and mycoplasma infections found in ME patients and confirmed polytropic retroviruses is why the retroviral research continues. Like AIDS it is the retrovirus plus the co-infection that determines disease outcomes.
    Quote: A statement from the Norwegian Directorate of Health has been received where they apologise for not having provided the necessary and proper health services to persons with ME.

    “I think that we have not cared for people with ME to a great enough extent. I think it is correct to say that we have not established proper health care services for these people, and I regret that.”

  10. #10 John
    October 25, 2011

    I’m still waiting on someone to drop some 5-AZA in ME/CFS patients’ blood and in healthy controls’ blood in a blinded fashion and see what happens, as suggested by a previous poster.

  11. #11 Poodle Stomper
    October 25, 2011

    Me too. I think that doing so would answer a whole lot of questions 😉

  12. #12 got ilk?
    October 25, 2011

    In case you haven’t heard, no XMRV in the blood supply: All hail the chief! But just in case you’re wondering V99/Gerwyn says it’s airborne HGRVs that we ought to be worried about. Discuss amongst yourselves.

  13. #13 TCC
    October 25, 2011

    “Apparently a group called IMEA is trying to dispute one of the XMRV papers. Not so surprisingly, the same group is trying to get Gallo’s HIV paper retracted. Once a loon…

    Posted by: Poodle Stomper | October 16, 2011 7:29 PM”

    I have a few other papers that they should try to get retracted, starting with the Temin and Baltimore papers that reported the presence of reverse transcriptase…they clearly failed to exactly replicate conditions from previous studies that established the central dogma of biology…

  14. #14 TCC
    October 25, 2011

    “Apparently a group called IMEA is trying to dispute one of the XMRV papers. Not so surprisingly, the same group is trying to get Gallo’s HIV paper retracted. Once a loon…

    Posted by: Poodle Stomper | October 16, 2011 7:29 PM”

    I have a few other papers that they should try to get retracted, starting with the Temin and Baltimore papers that reported the presence of reverse transcriptase…they clearly failed to exactly replicate conditions from previous studies that established the central dogma of biology…

  15. #15 David
    October 25, 2011

    @ 1110

    V99 claims that upcoming papers on XMRV / proviruses and recombination have no purpose since ‘gammaretroviruses use clonal expansion, not reverse transcriptase’. Huh?

  16. #16 OWE
    October 26, 2011

    @1113, David

    The logic of people like V99 is probably that the term “retro” in “Retroviruses” indicates that they do NOT use reverse transcriptase at all. It is a mistake and all papers about the pol gene must now be “retracted”! Maybe these viruses should be called “V99-clonal expansion viruses”. Virology has to be rewritten…by V99…


  17. #17 Justicar
    October 26, 2011

    No, no, no. Retro is a description of virus culture – having come out of their disco era (since that’s where their hosts were living for years), they’ve hit techno, ‘discovered’ Depeche Mode and partying like it’s 1999.

    I’m sure at some point, Abbie will give us a post(modern?) on the hippoviruses – the ones too cool for proteins because it’s just too much in the mainstream. Poseur viruses, pseudo one might call them.

  18. #18 Poodle Stomper
    October 26, 2011

    Hippoviruses are still better than those damn hippiviruses. They can’t afford to use reverse transcriptase b/c they won’t get off their lazy asses and get a job. All they do is sit around and smoke hemp.

  19. #19 RBH
    November 16, 2011

    A brief update: WPI has sued Miskovits.

  20. #20 Broken Link
    November 20, 2011

    And in more news, Mikovits has been arrested (link on my ‘nym):

    Controversial CFS Researcher Arrested and Jailed
    by Jon Cohen on 19 November 2011, 6:46 PM | 0 Comments

    Judy Mikovits, who has been in the spotlight for the past 2 years after Science published a controversial report by her group that tied a novel mouse retrovirus to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), is now behind bars.

    Sheriffs in Ventura County, California, arrested Mikovits yesterday on felony charges that she is a fugitive from justice. She is being held at the Todd Road Jail in Santa Paula without bail. But ScienceInsider could obtain only sketchy details about the specific charges against her.

    The Ventura County sheriff’s office told ScienceInsider that it had no available details about the charges and was acting upon a warrant issued by Washoe County in Nevada. A spokesperson for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office told ScienceInsider that it did not issue the warrant, nor did the Reno or Sparks police department. He said it could be from one of several federal agencies in Washoe County.

    Lois Hart, one of Mikovits’s attorneys, says her client is being held for extradition to Reno, Nevada, in relation to a civil lawsuit against her filed by the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease (WPI). Mikovits worked as the research director at WPI, a nonprofit in Reno, for 2 years until she was fired by its president, Annette Whittemore, on 29 September. On 4 November, WPI filed suit against Mikovits, alleging that she had wrongfully kept her laboratory notebooks and other information about her work for the fledgling institute on her laptop, in flash drives, and in a personal e-mail account. A preliminary injunction in the case is set to be held by Nevada’s Second District Judicial Court on 22 November. On that same day, Mikovits has a hearing in Ventura County, California, where she can contest extradition, Hart says. . . .

  21. #21 Biologykid
    November 22, 2011

    Shades of Luk Van Parijs

    Chilling, the egos, the lies.

  22. #22 Tum
    December 23, 2011

    Apparently a group called IMEA is trying to dispute one of the XMRV papers. Not so surprisingly, the same group is trying to get Gallo’s HIV paper retracted. Once a loon…

    Posted by: Poodle Stomper | October 16, 2011 7:29 PM

    Do you have something that supports your claim that IMEA is trying to get Gallo’s HIV paper retracted? I couldn’t find anything about HIV or Gallo in that link you supplied.

  23. #23 RRM
    December 24, 2011


    Just click on “request to Science” to see the Gallo retraction effort.

  24. #24 RRM
    December 24, 2011

    Oh well, here’s a direct link:

  25. #25 Surgical Blog
    January 11, 2012

    yes you are right, the author of the accompanying Commentary in the Lancet which stated that a SF-36 score of 60 fulfilled part of a ‘strict criterion of recovery’, published a paper in 2010 in which he wrote that “A cut-off of (less than or equal to)65 was considered to reflect severe problems with physical functioning.” How a score that is 5 points lower than one which ‘reflects severe problems with physical functioning’ (on a scale where higher scores mean better physical function) all of the sudden becomes part of a ‘strict criterion for recovery’ is anyone’s guess.

  26. #26 Tum
    February 19, 2012

    Thank you RRM.

    The IMEA quotes a “Seth Roberts” from the July 1990 edition of “Spy Magazine”. Oh my.

    From a very quick look (unfortunately, compared with the history of XMRV, I know very little about the history of HIV) it would have been better to cite “The origin of HIV-1 isolate HTLV-IIIB” (Chang et al. 1993). And then ask the same question (which is a fair question, IMHO). And see that Lombardi et al. 2009 did a “little” “more” than Gallo.

    The “investigation” that Science did into Lombardi et al. uncovered only a part of the falsifications/fabrications that the WPI did and didn’t address the findings by the NCI lab. Science found enough to justify a retraction, but I don’t see they were interested in finding out just how wrong this turd from the WPI was. We need a proper investigation.

  27. #27 Tum
    February 19, 2012

    Oh, this is good: The Seth Roberts of the Spy Magazine on Gallo article (and of self-experimenting fame) is a professor of psychology. The IMEA cite a professor of psychology on the matter of retrovirology. My irony meter, broken it is.

New comments have been disabled.