Respectful Insolence

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve written a substantive post on the fear mongering and bad science that are used by activists to support the claim that mercury in the thimerosal used as preservatives in vaccines is the cause of an “autism epidemic.” The closest I’ve come is using Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s credulous reporting and conspiracy-mongering, in which he uncritically parroted the claims of the worst of the mercury militia and arguing that his recent article in Rolling Stone uses the same sort of dubious and fallacious techniques, showing that, when it comes to bad arguments, highly selective quoting of data to argue a point, and all around misrepresentation of the evidence, RFK, Jr. is the gift that keeps on giving to skeptics.

The reason I haven’t written on this topic much in a while was mainly because not much was happening. At least at first that was true. However, over the last couple of weeks, there have been a few developments that are worth commenting on. I had been waiting a bit to do so, because I didn’t want to steal the thunder of a blogger who has done a lot to reveal the depths of bad science that some will stoop to to support a “link” between mercury and autism.

This particular blogger, Kathleen Seidel, has finally started to publish the results of her investigation, and I can now break my self-imposed silence. And, boy oh boy, has she dug up some dirt.

The last time I left that father-son tag team of Don Quixotes tilting at mercury windmills, Mark and David Geier, they were using truly bad statistics to argue that autism rates have been falling in the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) database and the Californial Department of Developmental Services (CDDS) database. I wrote a rather prolonged fisking of them (later mentioning their apparently foreordained conclusions), only to have my position reinforced by Mark at Good Math, Bad Math. In addition, recently, the Geiers really made a name for themselves by claiming that testosterone somehow “potentiates” the toxicity of mercury in autism and prevents it from being removed by chelation therapy. They even went so far as to propose treating autism with Lupron, which shuts down the synthesis of sex hormones, both testosterone and estrogen. Worse, as Kathleen reported, Mark and David Geier are trying to patent this use of what is in essence chemical castration to treat autism.

Now Kathleen has done some more digging. I hadn’t really thought much of this at first, but on the paper that the Geiers published in that right-wing antivaccination conspiracy “journal,” The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JAP&S) claiming that autism rates were falling based on extremely dubious statistical “analyses” of the VAERS and CDDS databases, David Geier had listed himself thusly:

David A. Geier, B.A. is a graduate student in biochemistry, George Washington University.

I thought it curious, given that most biomedical journals merely list affiliation and don’t list whether someone is a graduate student or faculty. I also know that David Geier had formed a company known as Medcon, whose main purpose is to help parents bring legal proceedings before the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Panel (NVICP). But it didn’t really catch my attention much more than as something rather odd that somehow rubbed me the wrong way and made me suspicious that David Geier was listing something that most people wouldn’t list, but I thought no more of it.

Kathleen has found out that it’s not so odd, but rather a misrepresentation. She noted that the Geiers had published another paper in Hormone Research, entitled A Clinical and Laboratory Evaluation of Methionine Cycle-Transsulfuration and Androgen Pathway Markers in Children with Autistic Disorders. It was published online as an E-pub ahead of print. In it, David Geier once again listed himself as being affiliated with the Department of Biochemistry, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. That struck me as quite odd as well. First off, by the conventions of academic publishing, an author usually lists his or her affiliation as the institution where he or she is either faculty or where the work was done. For graduate students, it is assumed that the affiliation listed represents the department and institution at which the work was done, usually as a part of a graduate student’s thesis work with a faculty advisor from that particular department. Moreover, David Geier had listed his affiliation with George Washington University in a number of other articles and conference proceedings, including his biographical sketch for various conferences at which he presented recently, including Autism One, Defeat Autism Now!, and the National Autism Association.

There’s only one problem. David Geier is not a graduate student at George Washington University. Indeed, as far as Kathleen has been able to tell, he is no longer affiliated with George Washington University in any way, nor did he do any of the work reported in the papers listed above during his brief stint as a graduate student at GWU. Kathleen explains:

A search of public areas on the GWU website yielded no instances of David Geier’s name, the “Institute for Chronic Illnesses,” or any indication that the work described in this article took place under the auspices of the GWU Biochemistry Department. Since the GWU website does not allow unaffiliated individuals access to their faculty and student directory, I contacted Dr. Allen Goldstein, Chairman of the GWU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, to inquire about David Geier and the “Institute for Chronic Illnesses.”

Dr. Goldstein stated that David Geier enrolled in GWU’s graduate biochemistry program in 2003, presenting an an application supported with an impressive bibliography of academic journal articles co-authored with his father. According to Dr. Goldstein, Mr. Geier took two courses in biochemistry during the 2003-2004 school year and none thereafter; he took the last of three public health courses during the Spring 2005 semester.

Dr. Goldstein stated unequivocally that David Geier has never served on the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at GWU; that neither the “Institute for Chronic Illnesses” or its Institutional Review Board (that is, the committee that approves and supervises research on human subjects) are in any way associated with GWU; and that none of the research described in the article was sponsored by GWU or conducted in the GWU laboratories. He described the affiliation with the Department of Biochemistry in the Hormone Research article as “fallacious,” and stated that it conveyed a “significant misrepresentation” of Mr. Geier’s position in the field of biochemistry.

Ouch. That one’s gotta leave a mark.

Worse for the Geiers, as soon as the editors of Hormone Research learned about the misrepresentation of David Geier’s affiliation, they yanked their paper from online publication, leaving it in limbo.

To me, far more disturbing than than David Geier’s misrepresentation is the question of just what the Institute for Chronic Illnesses is. Is it a real Institute? Is its IRB qualified? Kathleen promises more about this, and, in the meantime, I reserve judgment. I do find it telling, however, that Dr. Goldstein emphasized that this IRB was not affiliated with GWU. In any case, lest I be accused of nothing more than ad hominem attacks, what about the actual Hormone Research paper that was yanked? What was in it? What did it conclude?

Well, not much.

The first thing you have to remember when considering this paper is that the Geiers are using it as a justification for their “Lupron protocol,” which, as I described before, involves treating autistic children with Lupron to block the production of testosterone (and, although the Geiers don’t mention this, all of the other steroid sex hormones). They’ve been pushing their protocol through all the usual venues that advocate biomedical “treatments” for autism. For example, there are videos of Mark and David Geier pontificating on their concept of “testosterone sheets” at F.A.I.R. Autism Media, based on an X-ray crystollography study from 1968 that crystallized testosterone with mercury using hot benzene (very physiological). Oddly enough, no mention of this proposed therapy is made in the paper. This is particularly odd since the methods sections states that “consecutive” children with autism who presented to Dr. Mark Geier’s Genetic Centers of North America from November 2004 to November 2005 and only 16 patients with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) were identified. Only 16? That’s not very many for a whole year. Another thing: Since the Geiers were actively recruiting patients for their “Lupron” protocol at the time, one has to wonder whether that skewed the patient population because parents whose children showed signs of elevated testosterone may have preferentially brought their children to the Geiers, given their evangelism for their “protocol.”

Be that as it may, though, the rest of the paper is pretty lame and provides only the weakest of support for the hypothesis that excess testosterone coupled with defects in oxidative metabolism has anything to do with autism. For one thing, other than the total testosterone levels, the dataset for the children reported upon is maddeningly incomplete. For example, only 11/16 had a serum/plasma DHEA ratio. Only 14/16 had a serum FSH level reported. Levels of serum testosterone were elevated above normal ranges for 8/16, but most were only slightly above the top end of the normal range. However, the Geiers somewhat deceptively represented the aggregate from all 16 patients as being 256% of normal (no standard deviation or standard error of mean reported, no 95% confidence interval). The only way I can figure out their coming up with this figure was to use the average of the normal range as the “normal” testosterone concentration and then doing a ratio. The problem is, patients with testosterone levels within the normal range are considered to have normal testosterone levels. If the normal range is 0-20 and the testosterone is reported as 19, that’s within the normal range. It is not 1.9 times normal. Or, if they considered only patients with testosterone elevated above normal ranges, in the previous example, a testosterone of 25 would not represent a testosterone of 2.5 times normal. The Geiers appear to pull the same thing with plasma FSH values. All of the values reported for the 16 patients are within the normal range. True, many of them are at the low end of the normal range, but they are within the normal range. Yet, in aggregate, they are reported as being 35% of “normal.” As for the level of molecules related to oxidative metabolism, a complete set of levels of glutathione, cysteine, cystathione, homocysteine, and methionine were reported for only 7/16 patients. And–surprise, surprise–they did the same thing with the levels of all of these molecules. Most of the values for them were within the normal range. Again, they were on the low end of the normal range, but they were within the normal range. Yet, again, the Geiers manage to report them as being anywhere from 56% to 81% of “normal.

Finally, for all of these lab values, I have my doubts about the way that the Geiers calculate their p-values using Student’s t-test. In essence, they are trying to compare their values to the mean and standard deviation for normals from the laboratory. The problem is, with such a small number of patients, most of whose lab values actually fall within the laboratory’s reference range, there’s a problem. Given that the Geiers don’t report the mean and standard deviation of normal specific to the laboratories that they used, it’s impossible to judge if they did their statistics correctly. Worse, Student’s t-test is only designed to compare one value measured in two different groups. If you’re going to compare multiple variables, as the Geiers did, your odds of finding a spurious result go up if you don’t use statistical tests designed to deal with multiple comparisons, such as, for example, Hotelling’s T2 statistic. Why?Statistical significance is arbitrarily defined as there being only a 1 in 20 (0.05) chance that the two “different” values could in fact be statistically indistinguishable. Consequently, for two values reported to be statistically significantly different, there is a 5% chance that they are in fact not different. Thus, the more variables you look at, the greater the chance of picking up “statistically significant” differences that in reality aren’t. That’s why tests for that account for testing multiple variables between two groups are needed to account for this. The Geiers tested for eight different markers in the two groups, not one. Of course, the Geiers aren’t the only investigators guilty of this particular statistical misstep; it’s sadly all too common in the biomedical literature. Nonetheless, they could be finding statiistical significance where none exists.

In actuality, although the Geiers’ study reports on a very small number of patients and doesn’t report complete datasets for most of even this small number of patients, the conclusions of the study are on the surface actually fairly narrowly stated, which is probably why the paper was accepted. It is the subtext of the study that the reviewers almost certainly didn’t know about, namely that the Geiers were already treating autistic patients with a combination of Lupron to suppress their testosterone production and the quackery known as chelation therapy to “get rid of mercury,” which, according to the Geiers, is a major cause of autism. Never mind that there is no good scientific evidence to provide a rationale for such a treatment. The real hypothesis behind the paper remains unwritten, namely that many autistic children are undergoing “precocious puberty.” Thus, although some of the children are listed as having either body hair or facial hair or as masturbating or exhibiting “aggressive” behavior, no real clinical information is presented to show that these children truly were undergoing precocious puberty, even though the Geiers are basing the use of very powerful drugs on the belief that many autistic children are, in fact, undergoing precocious puberty. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to know what they are doing. Kathleen Seidel has discussed the diagnositic criteria for precocious puberty, as have I. Kevin Leitch has described what the Geiers are doing from the accounts of parents of autistic children:

It was clear that the ‘scientists’ advising these people had not informed them of basic facts about the condition that was allegedly affecting their kids autism. Neither of them had had their childrens hand and wrist radiographed which is the standard way of determining if a child is undergoing Precocious Puberty or not. Basically, If bone age is within 1 year of chronological age, puberty has not started. If bone age is advanced by 2 or more years, puberty likely has been present for a year or more or is progressing more rapidly.

The single most basic fact about Precocious Puberty is that it is immediately subdivided into Central Precocious Puberty (CPP) or Pseudo Precocious Puberty (PPP). It is vital to make this difference as the treatment is different in each division. The division can only be made by testing for premature activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. When I asked one of these people if the Geiers (yes, it was they) had subcategorised into CPP or PPP they did not know what I was talking about. They were entirely ignorant of these terms. It was clear neither of the two people I had spoken to had undergone this sub-categorisation.

They claimed it was ‘enough’ to ‘know’ that their children had excess testosterone. One of these children is female. This child’s parent was utterly ignorant of the fact that excess testosterone in females was not called ‘precocious puberty’ but indicative of ‘Androgen excess’. Lupron is not mentioned as a treatment for Androgen Excess.

One other interesting fact about increased testosterone is that in patients diagnosed with PPP, this can result from an excess of vitamins and other dietary supplements. Its common knowledge that this is a common part of DAN! and DAN! style treatment regimes. Yet again, the Geier’s patients parents were entirely unaware of this fact.

Surprise, surprise. One has to wonder how many of the patients reported in the Hormone Research paper were on supplements or, more importantly, had actually undergone a real diagnostic workup for precocious puberty. (Of course, if the autism discussion boards are any indication, children older than 9, who by definition can’t have precocious puberty, are being treated with this protocol.) I’m surprised and disappointed that the reviewers didn’t pick up on that lack, but perhaps I shouldn’t be. After all, the Geiers never really stated their real hypothesis. On the other hand, I’m justifiably surprised and disappointed that the reviewers didn’t question the other shortcomings of the article, such as the lack of complete datasets for half the patients, the question of whether Student’s t-test was the most appropriate statistical test for these multiple comparisons, the problem that the lab values reported for most of the patients were actually within the normal range according to laboratory reference values, and a very unclear figure in which they lay out their hypothesis. Finally, the biggest question of all, a question that you wouldn’t know to ask about if you didn’t know the context of the Geiers’ “research” described above, is whether this group of patients were truly representative of a population of autistic children. Chances are pretty good that they are not and that they represent a group of patients brought in because their parents had heard about the Geiers’ Lupron protocol and who therefore may have been selected because they were perceived to have signs of elevated androgens.

The bottom line is that, if there is indeed a relationship between testosterone, methionine trans-sulfuration, and autism, this paper sure as heck doesn’t provide any convincing evidence to show it it. More importantly, although it almost certainly would have been used for such a purpose (just as the Geiers Medical Hypotheses paper was), had it not been pulled by Hormone Research, it doesn’t provide justification for “therapies” involving heavy duty pharmacological interventions such as shutting down the production of testosterone and other steroid hormones using Lupron.

But that’s what the Geiers are selling. They’re even trying to get a patent on the treatment. And David Geier, at least, seems willing to claim an affiliation with George Washington University that he no longer has in order to cover their work with a patina of “credibility” by implying that it was done at GWU.

As Kathleen says, “To be continued.” Personally, I wonder if this “Institute for Chronic Diseases” IRB is also the one that supposedly approved the Lupron “clinical trial” that the Geiers are promoting.

Comments

  1. #1 TheProbe
    June 12, 2006

    http://www.cherab.org/information/geiermd.html

    “David Geier is currently a graduate student at the National Institutes of Health, and has been the president of MedCon, Inc for the past 4 years providing consultation in cases involving vaccines.”

    I wonder how true that one is? The letter by the Geiers is to Sen. Clinton of NY, and was reprinted in April 2003.

    Apparently, Hillary did not take a bite of this apple (Garden of Eden implication intentional).

  2. #2 Bartholomew Cubbins
    June 12, 2006

    There is a pattern of dishonesty and one can’t help but think that money is at the root of it all.

    The depressing thing is that some people will turn a blind eye to it and will subject their children to further experimentation.

  3. #3 mike stanton
    June 12, 2006

    By a happy coincidence, British newspapers today reported that the General Medical Council is proceeding with charges of serious professional misconduct against Andrew Wakefield. Are there equivalent bodies in the USA that are able to take action against the Geiers?

  4. #4 Joseph
    June 12, 2006

    My understanding is that in the U.S. the funding organization is the one that would investigate misconduct. For example, in the DHHS, the Office of Research Integrity would investigate allegations of misconduct, but it can only do so if the research is supported by PHS.

    It’s unclear if the Geiers work is self-funded. One possibility might be for GWU to file a complaint of some kind.

  5. #5 Common Sense II
    June 13, 2006

    Hey Guys,

    Why did Kathleen Seidel ban Common Sense? In her last post (which Kathleen banned), Common Sense was extremely respectful (despite being compared with a monkey just previous). Common Sense made some very interesting points and was “on-topic”. What’s up with Kathleen “bans Common Sense” Seidel?

  6. #6 Kev
    June 13, 2006

    Sue, you’re rapidly acquiring ‘troll’ status.

    You’ve earned a ban until the end of the month at my place, you’ve earned an indefinite ban at Kathleen’s and for what reason…? Why, for the exact same thing you’re doing now.

    Seriously Sue – its not difficult. Discuss the topic or shut up. Its one of the basic tenets of good netiquette.

  7. #7 Kassiane
    June 13, 2006

    I *still* want to know, if it’s androgens and all, where all the autistic kids with congenital adrenal hyperplasia are. That’s some SERIOUS prenatal androgen overload. Mercury is everywhere; on not ONE site about adrenal problems (including CAH) do they mention increased risk for autism.

    ‘Course, not being qualified in anything even vaguely resembling endocrinology, Geier and Geier the liar liars likely don’t even know what CAH is…

  8. #8 Common Sense
    June 13, 2006

    You missed the point, Kev. I was perfectly “on-topic” on Kathleen’s blog. I was commenting on something which someone else had brought up. If it was “off-topic”, they should have been banned also. Easy. The only one who has a legit reason to ban me would be Orac — as now, I am “off-topic” and jumping in inappropriately. So, to Orac, I apologize.

    Hopefully you will all read Dan Olmsted’s newest article… The Age of Autism: But is Wakefield right? Thankfully, Mr. Olmsted is actually listening to and believing in parental observations. Hopefully, more doctors will do the same.

  9. #9 Joseph
    June 13, 2006

    Hopefully you will all read Dan Olmsted’s newest article… The Age of Autism: But is Wakefield right? Thankfully, Mr. Olmsted is actually listening to and believing in parental observations.

    Yeah, who needs sound, honest science when we have reporters who follow intuition, guesses, speculation and hunches to help us figure out stuff.

  10. #10 Common Sense
    June 13, 2006

    Joseph,

    We all need sound and honest science. So, why don’t you call for the opening up of any remaining (non-trashed) VSD data? Why don’t you call for the end of the using bogus epidemiological studies as your evidence of no harm? Take a stand, Joseph. If there is nothing to worry about they should be more than willing to share any and all information available. The Geiers are not the problem here.

    As for the Olmsted article… let me just say this. It is pretty sad to me that Dan Olmsted (a mere journalist) has to be the one to listen to parents, to tell their stories to ask the right questions. Where are the doctors? Where are your scientists? Are “your” guys asking the questions? Are they talking to the parents who saw their kids regress? Are they doing that? Where are they? Meanwhile doctors in the UK are scared to death to treat an autistic child with GI issues. Meanwhile doctors in the US are giving flu shots out to babies. Yippeeee!

  11. #11 Orac
    June 13, 2006

    Here’s what I think of Dan Olmsted’s piece about how a group of supposedly unvaccinated children in the Chicago areas supposedly have a lower rate of autism. Of course, there’s no data there, and even the doctors that he interviewed told him there was no data.

  12. #12 Dad Of Cameron
    June 14, 2006

    “Where are the doctors? Where are your scientists? Are “your” guys asking the questions? Are they talking to the parents who saw their kids regress?”

    Here’s a recent example:
    The T-Gen Press Release

    PubMed Citation

    Full Text

    Where was Dan Olmstead?

    10$ million for autism research in Arizona – TGEN

    That’s right Sue, this bill passed in AZ and the 10$ million is going directly to autism research. Yep it’s going to TGEN (and SARRC) and probably not funding the beating of a dead horse.

    Now back to the Geiers, what do you think about their academic/scientific integrity?

  13. #13 Alan Kellogg
    June 14, 2006

    What if autism is not a condition a few children develop, but a condition most children grow out of?

  14. #14 Common Sense
    June 14, 2006

    Dad,

    So your “guys” are working with the Amish? That’s great. Good luck finding that “gene” and how it relates to the general population. How about this for a novel idea. Take those researchers assigned to the Amish and have them sit with a bunch of parents who believe that their children were adversely affected by vaccines. Have them actually TALK with those parents (imagine that). Have them scour those children’s medical records. Have those doctors and/or researchers actually pretend to care what the parents have to say (use the Dan Olmsted approach). Can you invision that? A world where doctors and researchers actual listen to parents. Ah, bliss.

    As for the Geiers… It is pretty obvious that anyone who goes against the “party line” in this debate is going to be smeared here. We saw it (and still see it) with Wakefield. Yet, is Wakefield right? I believe he is and of course, it is looking as if more research is coming out that he is correct. Now, of course, as I’m sure you are all aware there was a post in regards to this issue (one of you probably planted the question :) on EoH. Someone that you know answered to the best of his ability about what he knows. It doesn’t look like a HUGE issue. However, I will welcome any new information that comes out and will weigh the facts. I will add it to my bucket of pennies to see if it adds up to anything of substance. What I’m NOT going to do is to take everything that Kathleen or Orac says and consider it as gospel. No way, no how.

    For the record, I will also add… To the extent that I “follow” the Geiers, it is based upon their work with the VSD data and ASD trends (not Lupron not testosterone). I have always maintained, if you have an issue with their work in regards to trends, etc… why wouldn’t you join us in asking for the VSD data (or whatever is left of it) to be opened up? It defies logic. The Geiers are the only ones who have looked at this data, they “claimed” to have found a link. You don’t like that, but you’re not clammering to get some of your own “experts”
    in there? I don’t understand that.

  15. #15 Joseph
    June 14, 2006

    So, why don’t you call for the opening up of any remaining (non-trashed) VSD data? Why don’t you call for the end of the using bogus epidemiological studies as your evidence of no harm? Take a stand, Joseph.

    Let me be clear. I call for that. I hate anything that allows people like you to keep concocting vast conspiracy theories. I wish absolutely all thimerosal was removed from vaccines. I wish all databases were opened up, and their limitations and biases explained fully in a simple, clear way.

    The Geiers are not the problem here.

    They are a big problem.

    As for the Olmsted article… let me just say this. It is pretty sad to me that Dan Olmsted (a mere journalist) has to be the one to listen to parents, to tell their stories to ask the right questions.

    I’m a parent, but perhaps you’re forgetting. Dan Olmsted is not listening to me or to any parents like me. The parents he listens to are a small minority. And he listens to them because conspiracies draw a good amount of readership.

  16. #16 Orac
    June 14, 2006

    We saw it (and still see it) with Wakefield. Yet, is Wakefield right? I believe he is and of course, it is looking as if more research is coming out that he is correct.

    No it isn’t. If anything, the more research that comes out, the worse Wakefield looks.

    What I’m NOT going to do is to take everything that Kathleen or Orac says and consider it as gospel. No way, no how.

    Straw man argument. No one has said that you should.

    However, Kathleen has documented well everything she has said about the Geiers, and I’ve gone into fine detail time and time again to support my contention that they do bogus “science.” If they ever did a study that was well-designed, I would take it seriously and consider it. Too bad you don’t seem to take substantive criticisms of the Geiers’ work and activities seriously. Ditto Wakefield, who has been shown to have had a serious financial conflict of interest that he didn’t disclose. If an investigator failed to disclose a conflict of interest due to funding by big pharma, you’d be all over him. Yet you seem unconcerned Wakefield’s conflicts of interest with regard to the lawyers with whom he was working and the patent application that he had put in while his 1998 “study” was being done or with the Geiers’ conflict of interest in that they both do expert witness work and make money bringing lawsuits on behalf of the “vaccine-injured,” using their own publications as a means to that end.

  17. #17 Not Mercury
    June 14, 2006

    “Where are the doctors? Where are your scientists? Are “your” guys asking the questions? Are they talking to the parents who saw their kids regress?”

    Sue, there are plenty of doctors and scientists who listen to parents. I’m sorry you haven’t found one for your child but that does not mean all doctors and scientists are uncaring or will not listen to parents.

    It certainly doesn’t help when they hear all sorts of outrageous claims from parents and it may be one of the reasons some scientists have a hard time placing stock in anecdotes from parents. At least this has been my experience.

  18. #18 Dad Of Cameron
    June 14, 2006

    Sue, you really should read the links before commenting. The amish work was from earlier this year. The 10$ million is for new research in conjunction with a Phoenix based clinical center dedicated solely to autism.

  19. #19 Ruth
    June 14, 2006

    Sue, you don’t want to acknowledge those of us who would have met criteria for ASD by todays standards, but who are now functioning adults. My child has improved over the years without biomed treatments, and I expect she will have a place in the wider world. I did read the Hg hypothesis with an open mind 4 years ago, but found the science weak.

    I have no personal agenda against the Geiers, but scientists depend on openness and truth. You don’t consider lying about affiliation to be a big deal. If the work was not done at GWU, they shouldn’t use GWU’s name. Their papers consistently show carelessness with data and poor choice of data analysis. Anyone in any field who did this would be critized. If you can’t play with the big boys, take your Hg ball and go home.

  20. #20 Dad Of Cameron
    June 14, 2006

    “Now, of course, as I’m sure you are all aware there was a post in regards to this issue (one of you probably planted the question :) on EoH. Someone that you know answered to the best of his ability about what he knows. It doesn’t look like a HUGE issue.”

    Sue, I don’t read EoH. Did the Geiers answer something directly? Was there a discussion of scientific/academic integrity in research publication?

    HRE Author Guidelines

    Don’t miss these two sections:

    “The first page of each paper should indicate the title, the authors’ names, the institute where the work was conducted, and a short title for use as running head.”

    and

    “Pdf proofs are sent to the corresponding author and should be returned with the least possible delay.”

    It seems that the Geiers would have had opportunity and responsibility to correct anything that might be inaccurate.

  21. #21 Common Sense
    June 14, 2006

    “I’m a parent, but perhaps you’re forgetting. Dan Olmsted is not listening to me or to any parents like me. The parents he listens to are a small minority”.

    No, I didn’t forget that. Maybe Dan Olmsted isn’t your guy. That’s ok, Joseph. You have Brian Deer and many other “journalists”. What’s the issue? I just find it refreshing when people actually listen to parents and take their comments seriously… especially on a topic such as this.

  22. #22 Common Sense
    June 14, 2006

    “There are plenty of doctors and scientists who listen to parents. I’m sorry you haven’t found one for your child but that does not mean all doctors and scientists are uncaring or will not listen to parents”.

    You are mistaken. I have found a doctor (regular pediatrician) who listens to me. Guess what? He also has twin daughters (both on the spectrum)… I wonder why he is more willing to work with me and listen to me when it comes to the vaccine issue.

  23. #23 Common Sense
    June 14, 2006

    “I did read the Hg hypothesis with an open mind 4 years ago, but found the science weak”.

    Four years was an awfully long time ago in this debate. It couldn’t hurt to go back and look at everything which has come out since then… of course with that same open mind. By the way, I absolutely believe you that in many cases the “better diagnosis” factor fits. I just find it difficult to reconcile the numbers based solely on this. That’s wonderful about your daughter as well!

  24. #24 Joseph
    June 14, 2006

    For the record, I will also add… To the extent that I “follow” the Geiers, it is based upon their work with the VSD data and ASD trends (not Lupron not testosterone). I have always maintained, if you have an issue with their work in regards to trends, etc… why wouldn’t you join us in asking for the VSD data (or whatever is left of it) to be opened up? It defies logic.

    What defies logic is reliance on VSD or VAERS to determine rates of autism. Most of the Geiers papers use vaccine adverse event reports as an indication of autism prevalence. This is clearly nonsense. I only know of two papers of theirs that use special education or other administrative prevalence data – which is not epidemiology, but at least we can say that’s better quality data. Those two papers are so flawed it’s unbelievable. Geier & Geier tacitly admitted to a flaw in their JPANDS paper which invalidates the entire paper, even though they later backed down from their request for data on “new consumers with autism” from CDDS. The other paper has some significant odd errors that no one on your side has been able to explain away, as usual.

  25. #25 Orac
    June 14, 2006

    Four years was an awfully long time ago in this debate. It couldn’t hurt to go back and look at everything which has come out since then… of course with that same open mind.

    Actually, the data that’s come out since four years ago only weakens the case for an association between mercury and autism.

  26. #26 Joseph
    June 14, 2006

    By the way, I absolutely believe you that in many cases the “better diagnosis” factor fits. I just find it difficult to reconcile the numbers based solely on this.

    You must have missed the post where I argued that the prevalence of ASD in adults could easily be about 150 in 10,000 – if you do a full screening and count people who would otherwise not seek a diagnosis. Except for some sensible comments by Ian Parker and María, the response from your side, as usual, consisted of the following:

    [crickets]

  27. #27 Ruth
    June 14, 2006

    Sue-I didn’t say I’ve stopped looking at the studies. Four years ago there were enough unknowns to make the Hg hypothesis at least rational. Now the best studies I’ve seen point away from mercury as a factor. I think some prenatal environmental factors could be increasing the effect of autism genes in certain populations and we need good studies to look at this. The Geiers are taking time and resources away to produce junk.

    I’m glad you understand that some cases are due to better diagnosis. Some will insist that ‘all autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning’.

  28. #28 Calm On Scents
    June 14, 2006

    “I have found a doctor (regular pediatrician) who listens to me. Guess what? He also has twin daughters (both on the spectrum)”

    If listening skills, like autism, are highly hereditable, then the twins ought to be good ears for your stories too. Good luck.

  29. #29 Common Sense
    June 14, 2006

    “What defies logic is reliance on VSD or VAERS to determine rates of autism”.

    Joseph, why wouldn’t the VSD data be important to see? Here you go, trying to downplay its possible relevance. Why? The Geiers found it relevant, since then no one else has been allowed to see it. If the Geiers are so awful… why haven’t they asked for a more responsible group of people to take a look. Apparently, others found it important at one point:

    http://www.putchildrenfirst.org/media/2.7.pdf

    As for VAERS, yeah, I know… Anyone can go in and put that their child turned into Wonder Woman … How many twits would actually do that though? That’s an obnoxious thing to do. People should go to jail for that.

  30. #30 Common Sense
    June 14, 2006

    “If listening skills, like autism, are highly hereditable, then the twins ought to be good ears for your stories too. Good luck”.

    It’s just as much looking at my kids’ medical records as it is listening to my “stories”. I do imagine that these 11 year olds could connect the dots.

  31. #31 Joseph
    June 14, 2006

    As for VAERS, yeah, I know… Anyone can go in and put that their child turned into Wonder Woman … How many twits would actually do that though? That’s an obnoxious thing to do. People should go to jail for that.

    The main problem with VAERS is not really that. It’s that it includes perceived correlations of events. If, for example, a new theory came out tomorrow that vaccines may cause bronchitis, you’d naturally see an increase in VAERS reporting related to bronchitis. Additionally, there has been an increase in litigation related to autism and vaccines, and there’s one study that documents how most VAERS autism reporting is done by lawyers. It appears that VAERS reporting related to thimerosal is currently declining, for obvious reasons – some researchers have interpreted that as a decline in the incidence of autism, for which there’s obviously no supporting data.

  32. #32 John Best
    June 14, 2006

    Orac;
    Is my 30 day ban over yet?

  33. #33 Catherina
    June 14, 2006

    “Reports” like this make it into VAERS:

    Information has been received from a consumer concerning “someone in her neighborhood” who was vaccinated with varicella vaccine, and died the day of the vaccine. Follow up information from a registered nurse from the consumer’s MD office, reported that she had heard that a child of approximately 5 years of age had died in town after a live virus vaccine, but the child also had a viral illness with a high fever. The cause of death was not reported.

    And count towards any statistic that someone chooses to make out of the VAERS reports.

  34. #34 John Best
    June 14, 2006

    Have any of you talked to parents who used Lupron? Do you have any testimony from them that it caused chemical castration in pre-pubescent children?
    Why are you all so bent on stretching the truth of the matter to discredit something that might help handicapped children?
    Can I get a credible answer that doesn’t contain the words DBCS or anecdotal evidence?

  35. #35 Common Sense
    June 14, 2006

    “And count towards any statistic that someone chooses to make out of the VAERS reports”.

    Oh, I agree that VAERS is no where near perfect. I believe that the Geier’s used it as a tool to ask for more research to be done. The CDC has used the VAERS data to analyze trends and issues with vaccines, right? It’s ok for them, but no one else can? Interesting. Don’t worry, Catherina, the CDC follows up on any death put down on VAERS to make sure that it is not related to vaccines. I’m sure that they did a full investigation on that “someone in the neighborhood entry” (see below).

    http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/sids/default.htm#4

    Joseph, you didn’t answer the question about the VSD data. Why wouldn’t that data be important to see in the discussion of autism and thimerosal?

  36. #36 Calm On Scents
    June 14, 2006

    “I do imagine that these 11 year olds could connect the dots.”

    You ought to send them over to the Geiers so that they can help those two with their proofreading and problems with both “experimental” design and analysis.

  37. #37 clone3g
    June 14, 2006

    John Best:Orac;
    Is my 30 day ban over yet?

    How long will it take John to answer his own question?

  38. #38 Common Sense
    June 14, 2006

    “You ought to send them over to the Geiers so that they can help those two with their proofreading and problems with both “experimental” design and analysis”.

    Actually, Clone (or Calm On Scents)… I figured the twins could really help the CDC out instead. They really need the help more than the Geiers.

  39. #39 John Best
    June 14, 2006

    Sue;
    Congratulations on being banned by Seidel. It’s her way of admitting defeat, same as Kevin.

  40. #40 Joseph
    June 14, 2006

    Oh, I agree that VAERS is no where near perfect. I believe that the Geier’s used it as a tool to ask for more research to be done. The CDC has used the VAERS data to analyze trends and issues with vaccines, right? It’s ok for them, but no one else can?

    Give an example. VAERS is ok when used to detect signals after some event. When hype and litigation might be involved over long periods of time, it essentially becomes useless.

    Joseph, you didn’t answer the question about the VSD data. Why wouldn’t that data be important to see in the discussion of autism and thimerosal?

    The VSD is somewhat more reliable than VAERS, as it includes data from medical records, not random reports off of the internet. This does not mean, however, that it is immune to hype. There are studies that show, for example, higher rates of attribution of regression to vaccination following the publication of Wakefield’s paper.

    With this in mind, I think researchers should be allowed to look at that data. It’s stupid that the only researchers allowed to look at that data were Geier & Geier.

  41. #41 Calm On Scents
    June 14, 2006

    oooh conspiracy theories! let’s call Mel Gibson. So the Geiers are better scientists and more trustworthy than the CDC? Funny, I have never seen the byline,

    CDC, Department of Biochemistry, George Washington University, Washington DC, USA

    You’d think the CDC — as you and JB describe, a monolithic entity — would desire to improve its impact points ranking by gaining some credibility and trying to push its work into higher-ranked journals. So why doesn’t the CDC pretend to be associated with GWU? Or maybe some editor might just slip it in, because you know, mistakes happen. Another mistake is doing crap science and trying to get it jammed into some journal.

    Really, Sue, your pathetic charges of CDC incompetence and diabolic nature are so tired. That conspiracy has oxygen debt. Oh, better get a HBOT ready… or was it Lupron, or a sauna, or MeB12, or chelation, or shock therapy, or slap-the-crap-outta another kid therapy – they start blending together after awhile.

    Hi Clone!

  42. #42 Common Sense
    June 15, 2006

    “Congratulations on being banned by Seidel. It’s her way of admitting defeat, same as Kevin”.

    Thanks, I think. The Seidel one was odd. No reason for that ban, other than I supose she doesn’t like opposing points of view. Bart made a cute short film about me though which was kind of fun and I guess on-topic??

  43. #43 Common Sense
    June 15, 2006

    “oooh conspiracy theories! let’s call Mel Gibson. So the Geiers are better scientists and more trustworthy than the CDC? Funny, I have never seen the byline,

    CDC, Department of Biochemistry, George Washington University, Washington DC, USA”

    No, its true I’ve never seen a byline such as that from the CDC. However, they have been extremely misleading. How about keeping the bogus Danish studies up on their website for unsuspecting parents to fall for hook, line and sinker. I consider that more fraudulent than anything that Ms. Seidel has said that the Geiers have done (which may or may not be true). How about not demanding that other researchers have access to what may be left of the VSD data? That’s dishonest. Again, if the Geiers were holding all the VSD data in their basement and screaming we have the data and it shows a link but you can’t see it… ha, ha… I would obviously have a huge issue. However, that’s not the case, is it folks?