Respectful Insolence

The other day, in response to several e-mails asking me about the latest bit of bad science and epidemiology purporting to support the idea that mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be in many childhood vaccines is a major cause of autism, I posted links to EpiWonk’s thee-part (so far) takedown of this execrable study, whose passage through the peer-review system unchallenged is evidence of just how screwed up peer review can be at some journals. I forgot at the time that there is another, equally, if not even more, detailed takedown of this new bit of pseudoscience posted at a blog I hadn’t heard of before, Pathophilia. Just to complete the piling on of the latest Geier & Geier (& Young) crapfest, I would be remiss if I didn’t included links to these deconstructions as well, which show that I really didn’t need to do one of my own:

  1. IRB Approval of Geier Autism Study: Yes or No?
  2. I’ve Been Sucked Into the Thimerosal-Autism-Geier Vortex
  3. Young-Geier Autism Study: What the–? (Part 1)
  4. Young-Geier Autism Study: What the–? (Part 2)
  5. Young-Geier Autism Study: What the–? (Part 3)
  6. Young-Geier Autism Study: What the–? (Part 4)

Ow! That’s gonna leave a mark! Thus endeth the lesson, but not the disgust with the Geiers. Indeed, Kevin Leitch has coined a hilariously apt term to describe researchers like the Geiers’ coinvestigator in this study Heather Young did:

I propose that any researcher or scientist who unwittingly gets into a quagmire with the Geier’s should be referred to as being ‘quag-geier-ed’. Its a handy way of referring to people who’ve (possibly accidently) stumbled into a great big pile of shit.

“Quag-Geier”? It’s perfect. I still haven’t figured out how an apparently able investigator like Heather Young managed to get mixed up with such nonsense. Maybe it’s a lack of experience and too much trust. She is, after all, only an Assistant Professor. If she keeps putting her name on studies like this one by the Geiers, that may be as far as she ever advances.

Comments

  1. #1 StuV
    June 18, 2008

    If she keeps putting her name on studies like this one by the Geiers, that may be as far as she ever advances.

    I cannot believe noone has called this an “elitist threat” yet. I mean, really… the conspiracy theorists are slacking off today.

  2. #2 Kelly
    June 18, 2008

    Quite OT:
    The FDA is having a meeting concerning mitochondria and autism:

    June 29, 2008 Workshop Goals and Objectives

    “Mitochondrial Disorders of Childhood: Testing, Potential Relationships to Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Triggers for Neurological Deterioration” is a workshop to be held on Sunday June 29th after the close of the United Mitochondrial Disease Meeting in Indianapolis at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. The workshop will convene 11 experts in mitochondrial disorders or autism to discuss how the neurology of mitochondrial disorders might inform autism research. The conference is sponsored by a number of Federal agencies including DHHS, CDC, FDA, NINDS and NIMH. Observers are welcome as seating allows.

    If this wasn’t inspired by the Hannah Poling case, certainly the anti-vaxers will be grabbing this one as “proof” that autism is linked to vaccines by way of a mitochondrial disorder.

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