Respectful Insolence

Best. Conspiracy. Theory. Ever.

It looks as though Generation Rescue’s bubble-brained spokescelebrities Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey have finally found their niche. Can you guess where it is? Come on, take two guesses! That’s right. They’ve made it into NaturalNews.com, crossposted from a post they had their handlers make to Age of Autism, entitled A Statement from Jenny McCarthy & Jim Carrey: Andrew Wakefield, Scientific Censorship, and Fourteen Monkeys. Truly, it is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen on AoA or NaturalNews.com. You’ll see why in a moment. Suffice it to say that Jenny and Jim have the most fascinating conspiracy theory, a “real” explanation as to why The Man (a.k.a. big pharma and the CDC) made sure that the British General Medical Council decided to find Andrew Wakefield guilty of numerous charges relating to dishonesty, abuse of public funds, and lack of ethics in research and that the editors of the Lancet decided to retract his incompetent and unethical 1998 study. Well, not really Jenny and Jim. Given their writing and scientific “prowess,” it is painfully obvious that neither could compose something anywhere near this coherent, and even then it’s not very coherent. One wonders if either Dear Leader J.B. Handley wrote it or perhaps his MBA scientist wannabe Mark Blaxill. Maybe it’s very incoherence is why Mike Adams decided their statement was worthy of being featured on NaturalNews.com.

After all, it’s the best conspiracy theory ever (or the worst conspiracy theory ever–you be the judge):

Dr. Andrew Wakefield is being discredited to prevent an historic study from being published that for the first time looks at vaccinated versus unvaccinated primates and compares health outcomes, with potentially devastating consequences for vaccine makers and public health officials.

It is our most sincere belief that Dr. Wakefield and parents of children with autism around the world are being subjected to a remarkable media campaign engineered by vaccine manufacturers reporting on the retraction of a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues.

Gee. Jenny and Jim constantly lecture us that they are not anti-vaccine. Odd, they could have fooled me. After all, they seem to think that vaccine makers are conspiring to slap down their hero Andy Wakefield and hide horrific complications from vaccines. Oh, no. Jim and Jen are not anti-vaccine at all.

The disingenuousness of Jenny and Jim’s constantly claiming that they aren’t anti-vaccine while at the same time they blame vaccines for all sorts of horrible problems and vaccine manufacturers for a massive campaign to cover them up, Jenny and Jim apparently think all the bad news raining down on Andrew Wakefield isn’t the chickens finally coming home to roost for his dishonest, unethical, and incompetent science. Oh, no. It’s the nefarious vaccine manufacturers! Apparently, in order to protect their profits not only did vaccine manufacturers manipulate the GMC to rule that Andrew Wakefield was unethical in the manner that he ran his experiments, subjecting autistic children to unnecessary invasive medical procedures, but that he hid conflict of interest, but they got the Lancet to retract his original 1998 study, too! Is there no end to the power of the vaccine manufacturers? Is there no end to their perfidy? Apparently not, according to the fevered paranoia of Jenny and Jim:

The retraction from The Lancet was a response to a ruling from England’s General Medical Council, a kangaroo court where public health officials in the pocket of vaccine makers served as judge and jury. Dr. Wakefield strenuously denies all the findings of the GMC and plans a vigorous appeal.

Despite rampant misreporting, Dr. Wakefield’s original paper regarding 12 children with severe bowel disease and autism never rendered any judgment whatsoever on whether or not vaccines cause autism, and The Lancet’s retraction gets us no closer to understanding this complex issue.

Once again, this talking point of the anti-vaccine movement is disingenuous nonsense, as I explained in detail the other day. The statement in Wakefield’s paper that he had not demonstrated a link between the MMR vaccine, bowel disease, and autism was almsot certainly something reviewers forced Wakefield to insert into the manuscript. More importantly, upon the release of the paper Wakefield went on a media blitz in which he went far beyond what the paper said by arguing that parents should get their children the single vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella, rather than the trivalent MMR. Then he proceeded to spend the next decade trying to prove that MMR causes autism and “autistic enterocolitis” with bad science, most recently the aforementioned monkey study.

Speaking of the infamous Wakefield-Hewitson “monkey study,” I’ve written about it not just once, but twice, first when they first published its results at IMFAR and then later after they published their results last year. Read both previous posts if you want more detail, but the short version is that the corresponding author, Laura Hewitson, failed to disclose some huge conflicts of interest when the abstracts describing the research were presented at IMFAR, and there appeared to be some post hoc alterations in the study design when the paper appeared last year. Suffice it to say that the study appeared to me (and Prometheus) to be not just bad science but also custom made to be used to support the complainants’ case in the failed Autism Omnibus proceedings as “evidence” that thimerosal-containing hepatitis B vaccines cause autism. Indeed, one of the big conflicts of interest that Laura Hewitson failed to disclose the first time around was that she has an autistic child who is a complainant in the Autism Omnibus proceedings.

Of course, in Jenny and Jim’s (and Generation Rescue’s) world, it’s this study that has brought the wrath of the Vaccine Illuminati down upon poor, poor Saint Andy. After a hilariously irony free description of Wakefield as one of the world’s “most respected and well-published gastroenterologists,” Jenny and Jim opine:

Behind the scenes, the pressure to keep the work of Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues from being published is immense, and growing every day. Medical journals take extreme risk of backlash in publishing any studies that question the safety of the vaccination program, no matter how well-designed and thorough the research might be. Neurotoxicology, a highly-respected medical journal, deserves great credit for courageously publishing the first phase of this vaccinated monkey study.

“Courageously.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Oh, well, every journal makes a mistake. In fact, that Neurotoxicology would publish rubbish such as Andrew Wakefield’s monkey study tells me all I need to know about the editorial standards of the journal, none of it good. It’s very clear that the editors just don’t get it either, given their tepid response to criticisms of the paper. Their journal is now paying the price by being used for propaganda purposes by the anti-vaccine movement and thereby seeing its scientific credibility take a huge hit. It is a self-inflicted wound that was entirely preventable. Whatever damage is done to the reputation of Neurotoxicology is entirely predictable and richly deserved.

But, of course, it’s all The Man, and nothing can be a coincidence:

What medical journal would want to step in front of this freight train? Moreover, why now, after 12 years of inaction, did The Lancet and GMC suddenly act? Is it coincidence that the monkey study is currently being submitted to medical journals for review and publication?

Jen and Jim’s ignorance is so powerful that it can travel faster than light to permeate the universe with their stupidity. First off, allegations of Andrew Wakefield’s misconduct first started coming to light a few years after the publication, but they weren’t really publicized until Brian Deer reported them in 2004. It was at that time that ten of the original thirteen authors removed their name from Wakefield’s paper. Second, it is indeed a scandal that the editors of The Lancet took so long to retract Wakefield’s work. Third, it’s amazing that the GMC took two and a half years to rule on what appeared to be a fairly obvious case, but I’m glad they finally ruled. Finally, Jen & Jim seem to think that the pharmaceutical companies (1) knew Wakefield was about to publish the “final” report on his monkey study; (2) had sufficient pull over the GMC to get it to rule against Wakefield exactly when it did (maybe the reason that it took two and a half years is that some brave maverick on the GMC fought back!); and (3) had sufficient pull with the editors of the Lancet to get the article pulled exactly when it wanted. Vaccine Illuminati indeed.

However, if the Vaccine Illuminati were behind all this, I must say that they’re a pretty incompetent global conspiracy against The Truth. After all, the time to discredit Wakefield is not now. It’s way too late; the damage has been done. The MMR scare in the U.K. resulted in plunging vaccination rates 12 years ago, and it took nearly a decade for the effect to have resulted in measles becoming endemic again in the U.K. in 2008. The time to discredit Wakefield was 12 years ago, before his incompetent, trial lawyer-funded, unethical “research” could result in plunging MMR uptake rates in the U.K. and then metastasize across the pond, only to mutate into David Kirby and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s anti-mercury fearmongering. Then it might have done something. Instead, apparently the Vaccine Illuminati let Wakefield proclaim the “dangers” of the MMR, thanks to the credulous and sensationalistic U.K. press, for several years without doing anything. Come to think of it, what kind of pathetic all-encompassing conspiracy can the Vaccine Illuminati be if it can’t muzzle the U.K. press?

Of course, if Jen & Jim’s stupid is faster-than-light and all-encompassing, Mike Adam’s ignorance is so powerful that nothing like it has been seen since the universe was created in the Big Bang. Get a load of this:

When I saw The Lancet’s recent retraction of Dr. Wakefield’s famous paper linking vaccines to autism, I couldn’t help thinking back to 1989 when Fleischmann and Pons were widely attacked and discredit over their demonstration of cold fusion technology. These two brilliant physicists had accomplished the seemingly impossible: They had caused fusion to take place at low temperatures, producing both excess heat energy as well as the helium artifacts proving that low-energy nuclear reactions had taken place.

The conventional physics community went berserk. They attacked Fleischmann and Pons relentlessly, attempting to destroy their character and any scientific credibility they might have held. They paraded a gang of “hot fusion” scientists through the mainstream media, telling everyone it was “impossible” to create nuclear fusion at tabletop temperatures. Through a repetition of lies, they convinced the world that Fleischmann and Pons were frauds.

Hot fusion, you see, is big business. Big money. Billions of dollars have been thrown at hot fusion, and the careers and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people depend on it. By demonstrating that cold fusion really worked, Fleischmann and Pons were threatening an entire industry. That industry had no choice but to do everything possible to destroy the scientists. Truth be damned… this was all about politics and profits!

That’s right. Mike Adams is likening Wakefield’s work to cold fusion, and he is doing it as though that were a good thing! Particularly hilarious is that he thinks that cold fusion is a threat to “hot fusion.” (Note that I’m using “cold fusion” as shorthand for “cold fusion that generates more energy than it requires.”) Given that no one’s been able to figure out how to harness fusion for peacetime purposes, the only real use for hot fusion at the moment is for hydrogen bombs. That may have been a growth industry during the Cold War, but these days, with the START treaty, it’s not as though we’re making lots of hydrogen bombs anymore. Mike Adams appears to be irony-proof, though. Wakefield’s incompetent pseudoscience is very much like cold fusion, just not in the way that Adams thinks it is.

Particularly amusing is Adams’ invocation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. and how the job of its protagonist, Winston Smith, was to rewrite history whenever his country Oceania changed policy radically (as in changing alliances in its never-ending war). This was the origin of the saying, “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia,” because when Oceania changed alliances and went from being at war with Eurasia to being at war with Eastasia. History in Orwell’s novel was thus perpetually rewritten, with any evidence of previous policy being thrown down what was known in the novel as the “memory hole” and destroyed in the furnaces of the Ministry of Truth.

In reality, retracting a scientific paper is nothing like that. The paper still exists. It is not destroyed. All that has happened is that the journal’s editors decided that it was so flawed, so tainted, that they no longer want their journal to be associated with it and therefore retracted it from the scientific literature. Indeed, in this case, the paper is still present on the Lancet‘s website, but comes up with a big red word “RETRACTED” across its front page. So much for the scientific memory hole:

i-e337fe88e479dbd744ffca1a20572767-Retracted.jpg

Of course, the real reason for Jenny and Jim’s press release is painfully obvious:

We urge the media to take a close look at the first phase of the monkey study discussed above and to start asking a very simple question: What was the final outcome of the 14 primates that were vaccinated using the U.S. vaccine schedule and how did that compare to the unvaccinated controls?

Personally, I actually agree with this to some extent. I do hope that the media will take a look at the first phase of the monkey study, at the second phase of the monkey study, at all phases of the monkey study. I hope that the media will actually look at how it was conducted, how Wakefield could possibly have gotten IACUC approval for such a badly designed, dubious study, and, most especially, who funded the study and how many undisclosed COIs there are in the study. And, while they’re at it, I hope they don’t forget to ask some inconvenient questions of Andrew Wakefield and Laura Hewitson about how the control group appears to have changed between abstract published two years ago and the paper published last fall, in which the control group mysteriously grew from three to seven monkeys without explanation. Come to think of it, why are they now referring to “fourteen monkeys”? There were originally 13 monkeys in the “vaccinated” group and three in the control group for a total of 16 monkeys. In the “first phase” report last fall, there were thirteen monkeys in the vaccinated group, three monkeys in the unvaccinated group, and four monkeys that appeared to have shown up out of nowhere to be included as a saline injection control group. That’s twenty monkeys. In any case, how is it that there are now apparently fourteen vaccinated monkeys? One wonders if Wakefield added another monkey to the vaccinated group and did some more “monkeying” with the control groups, one does.

Despite his utterly being discredited, however, don’t cry for Wakefield. After all, the anti-vaccine, HIV/AIDS denialist “journal” Medical Veritas is inviting Andrew Wakefield to republish his 1998 Lancet paper, although I’m not sure that any of the reputable researchers that Wakefield roped in with his pseudoscience would be happy about having their names associated with such a crank journal. I know I wouldn’t. Still, I’m sure MV would be more than happy to publish the final report of Wakefield’s monkey study.

And if MV won’t take it, there’s always the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Comments

  1. #1 The Perky Skeptic
    February 8, 2010

    Yyyyyeah… good luck with that bridge-building, Chris. ;)

    I have to say, though, if this publicity gets that horrible monkey study eviscerated in the mainstream media, then all to the good. I hope the bad ethics and worse science of that study gets all the attention the experimenters deserve.

  2. #2 Reginald Beasley
    February 8, 2010

    In that monkey study – 13 or 14 vaccinated monkeys versus only 3 control group monkeys? Is that a bit small for a control group or is that just something that’s common in pilot studies?

  3. #3 DayOwl
    February 8, 2010

    Mainstream media and real science tend not to occupy the same space at the same time.

  4. #4 Joseph
    February 8, 2010

    They are not anti-vaccine. They are only against (and highly suspicious of) anyone who makes them.

  5. #5 Todd W.
    February 8, 2010

    I posted a comment about this on the AoA article, which they decided to censor. Thanks to the wonders of blogging, however, you can read it at Silenced by Age of Autism.

    I invite people to visit and copy their censored AoA comments there (if I don’t have an appropriate post up, e-mail via the link in the About Me section). And spread the word.

    @Joseph

    Wait…Wakefield was making a vaccine for measles. And yet they trust him? Oh, right. He gets money from trial lawyers and fleeced parents instead of Big PharmaTM.

  6. #6 Thony C.
    February 8, 2010

    I hope J & J aren’t planning a trip to merry old England anytime soon because they could find themselves being sued under England’s notoriously evil libel laws for having libeled two of England most honourable institutions, the GMC and The Lancet!

  7. #7 Todd W.
    February 8, 2010

    @Thony C.

    I believe the U.K. laws would allow them to be sued, anyway, as I’m sure the article can be viewed in the U.K. Libel tourism, gotta love it.

    However, it would be a stupid move to sue them for libel, since it would just add to the “See! They’re out to silence us!” baloney.

  8. #8 Vindaloo
    February 8, 2010

    Holy Jeebus, these idiots are cold fusion conspiracy fanboys! I say let them talk and talk loud. They’re one oxycontin pill or one shot of vodka in the Sigg bottle away from blaming the Jews, government werewolves, and black helicopters. Don’t be afraid Jim and Jen – let your Handley-Ayoub colors fly!

  9. #9 Anthro
    February 8, 2010

    I think it’s reasonable to assume that these whackaloons (who publish JAPS) pump a lot of money into anti-health care reform. All that “don’t let them get between you and your doctor” rhetoric sounds as though it came right out of their playbook. Once you get to a certain level of looniness, the political spectrum forms a circle and the two ends meet in la-la-land. All these righties seem to live and die by one conspiracy or another and the obvious connection to their fundamentalist religious beliefs bears noting. They are quick to take in anything that sounds remotely plausible to their already fertile and magical-thinking imaginations. This takes on a cultish overtone of sticking together and fighting the outsiders who don’t want the “truth”.

    I wonder how Jim and Jen will get on with this lot?

  10. #10 JonF
    February 8, 2010

    “It is our most sincere belief that Dr. Wakefield and parents of children with autism around the world are being subjected to a remarkable media campaign engineered by vaccine manufacturers reporting on the retraction of a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues.”

    Right. Because the scientific community has had such a great relationship with the mainstream media. OH WAIT.

    I take two things from this:

    1) By blaming the media (even if they are using the spectre of Big Pharma as a proxy in doing so) they’re biting the hand that feeds them. Does it mean that they’re going to get less air time? Probably not, but it’s still not a good practice for them.

    2) By consolidating their celebrity power over at NaturalNews they’re circling the wagons; they’re on the defensive now, and rightfully so. I’m expecting there’s going to be a mainstream media push coming from them soon. I sense this is a means of preening J&J for that since, as celebrities, they’re better to be the face of the antivax movement on TV than the ones actually orchestrating this.

  11. #11 Lisa
    February 8, 2010

    Ugh, I clicked on the essay on the AoA site and it’s making my head hurt. I like the one commenter who posted that in older women, the first pregnancy acts as a ‘natural chelator’ and that’s why they’re more likely to be autistic.

    I know it’s not normal practice to attact the person, just their ideology. But I still think that the public needs to be reminded that JM and JC are neither doctors, nurses, teachers or therapists. JM is no more than a pin-up who used to pick her nose and eat her own vomit on tv. Why are so many taking medical advice from her?

  12. #12 sophia8
    February 8, 2010

    These loons are so sure that they know it all that theydon’t even bother to check their facts with Google. The cold fusion idea died because nobody has been able to replicate Fleischmann and Pons’ results. However, since nobody could satisfactorily explain those results or show beyond doubt that cold fusion can’t work, people are still trying.
    Nobody and nothing got “suppressed”. All of Fleischmann and Pons’ information is out there, the equipment is cheap and the method relatively simple. Got a few thousand dollars, a lab and a chemistry degree? Then go ahead and try to crack the secret of cold fusion. That’s what science is all about – trying something to see if it works. Anybody hear Pons and Fleischmann complaining that Big Science is against them?

  13. #13 Adam_Y
    February 8, 2010

    I know it’s not normal practice to attact the person, just their ideology. But I still think that the public needs to be reminded that JM and JC are neither doctors, nurses, teachers or therapists. JM is no more than a pin-up who used to pick her nose and eat her own vomit on tv. Why are so many taking medical advice from her?

    Actually, you can attack her without brining up any of this. The Dr. Jenny video where Jenny McCarthy compares something that starts with the letter L and the letter C to Iran and Iraq is proof enough something isn’t right.

  14. #14 Jen in TX
    February 8, 2010

    “JM is no more than a pin-up who used to pick her nose and eat her own vomit on tv.”

    Awwww…I was eating!

    Congratulations, Jenny…if you can gross out a seasoned nurse, you have accomplished something!

  15. #15 superdave
    February 8, 2010

    Even in the absolute best case scenario for the primate study the only realistic conclusion any competent scientist could draw from it is is,

    “Oh, well that’s interesting, maybe they should do a study with enough animals to actually do real statistical analysis”
    Then said scientist would forget entirely about this study unless such a followup was actually done.

    Under no circumstances would that study be a slam dunk. Throw in the legit criticisms you gave earlier and it all falls apart.
    Does it even make sense to do this sort of study on primates? That’s the first and most logical question anyone reading it would ask, and I think the answer is no.

  16. #16 SC OM
    February 8, 2010
  17. #17 rob
    February 8, 2010

    i would like to point out that Pons and Fleischmann are chemists, not physicists.

  18. #18 wfjag
    February 8, 2010

    “Mike Adams is likening Wakefield’s work to cold fusion, . . .”

    Maybe that was just a typo, and Mike meant to refer to cold beer — which has health benefits (see, Beer May Be Good for Your Bones, Mon., Feb. 8, 2010, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,585067,00.html?test=latestnews ), but, whose benefits are being suppressed by the hot toddie industry, lead by Big Bourbon. It’s an easy mistake to make — after a few brews, it’s hard to tell the difference between bubbles and fusion. Never subscribe to conspiracy behavior that is fully explained by being drunk.

  19. #19 Anonymouse
    February 8, 2010

    Here’s the problem: a friend of mine mentioned this weekend that, “Jim Carrey is speaking up for some autism doctor who is being railroaded because he’s trying to uncover how dangerous vaccines are.” My friend doesn’t have children, isn’t a woo victim, basically doesn’t have any knowledge of this issue or a dog in this fight. He only heard about this because Carrey is a celebrity. Once I explained the situation to him, my friend was amused but he pointed out that if it’s Carrey versus a bunch of anonymous scientists, Carrey wins. In other words, truth and reason are screwed in the court of public opinion.

  20. #20 muteKi
    February 8, 2010

    From what I can tell the reason that cold fusion research is continuing in the first place is that people are really concerned about the impending energy crises and in a move of desperation are doing research on it to see if they can get *anything* out of it.

    This is the same reason people even give the Gonzales Protocol the time of day. Coincidence? I think not.

  21. #21 Liz Ditz
    February 8, 2010

    Ooh. At age of autism

    http://bit.ly/bnjoIo

    The Conflicting Views of Dr. Ben Goldacre and the Wakefield Affair

    The conflicting views of Dr Ben Goldacre and the Wakefield affair: dumbing the public down.

    By John Stone

    Not so familiar in the North American world Ben Goldacre, author of the Guardian’s Bad Science column, is perhaps the most prominent and prestigious scientific opinion leader in UK journalism, and at least since 2003 – when his career was effectively launched – he has carried a brief to defend the reputation of MMR vaccine. Essentially, this has consisted of a different strategy of that of Times Newspapers and Brian Deer, focussing on trying to damage Andrew Wakefield’s scientific reputation without the all-out assault on his integrity. Until the GMC brought in its verdict against Wakefield and his colleagues John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch this might have looked like a clever insurance policy, but now it has led to problems.

  22. #22 brian deer
    February 8, 2010

    Nah, Wakefield got dun coz I caught him.

  23. #23 James Sweet
    February 8, 2010

    Really, I think the big problem is that GMC didn’t do enough to build bridges with Wakefield. Rather than censuring him for ethics violations, they should have commended him for, uh, I dunno, his impeccable dress sense.

    Anybody hear Pons and Fleischmann complaining that Big Science is against them?

    Welllll, not exactly, but according to Wikipedia (yes, I know, but I would tend to believe this type of fact from WP) they did try to sue an Italian journalist whom they felt was too critical of them:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Fleischmann

  24. #24 phantomreader42
    February 8, 2010

    So, once again Jim Carey returns to the skill that started his career: talking out of his ass.

  25. #25 jre
    February 8, 2010

    Actually, the cold fusion analogy may be pretty good.
    I recall the Fleischmann and Pons flap vividly, because it was a hot topic in my neighborhood.
    At the time, I was in graduate school at a pretty good technical institute in the Boston area. My thesis advisor was being tapped for mechanical engineering input by the physics guys, who were designing an experiment to replicate the cold fusion setup. He came back one day and reported that the experimentalists had built a wall of lead bricks around the test bench.

    “They’re concerned about fast neutrons.” he explained.

    “But Fleischmann and Pons didn’t have any lead bricks around their setup.” I objected. “Weren’t they worried about fast neutron flux in case they actually got cold fusion? Or didn’t they even know enough to be worried?”

    “Exactly.”

    Same deal with anti-vaccine wackaloons. What eludes Mike Adams and the rest of the ward is that there are people who really did understand the issues raised by Wakefield, and who did an honest, competent job of trying to replicate his results, and who came up empty-handed.

  26. #26 wfjag
    February 8, 2010

    “Best. Conspiracy. Theory. Ever.”

    It took a while, but I think I found a better one:

    OPRAH REINCARNATION CASE DISMISSED, The West Virginia Record (Jan.. 29, 2010), Kanawha County, http://wvrecord.com/news/contentview.asp?c=224419

    “A case in which a woman had sued Winfrey and the former first couple — as well as three Charleston physicians — after she claimed they all had conspired to implant a camera with wire sensors into her with the intent of reincarnation has been dismissed.”

    Had the woman named Jenny as one of the people responsible for inserting implants and cameras, the allegations would have been believable.

  27. #27 Otto
    February 8, 2010

    @Adam_Y: “Actually, you can attack her without brining up any of this. The Dr. Jenny video where Jenny McCarthy compares something that starts with the letter L and the letter C to Iran and Iraq is proof enough something isn’t right.”

    After watching that, I think I very well may need to “clean out the bucket.” Jeezums.

  28. #28 trrll
    February 8, 2010

    Now you’ve done it. Next, we’ll have the cold fusion cranks showing up here. Actually, they sound pretty much like the MMR cranks (perhaps not surprising if some of them are the same people), except that instead of insisting that Wakefield’s results have been replicated, they insist that Pons and Fleishman’s results have been replicated, and that the physics community is on the verge of embracing cold fusion.

  29. #29 blf
    February 8, 2010

    If you really want some physics cranks, just mention something negative about the Steorn perpetual motion / free energy hooey (the Orbo).

    Oops… shouldn’t have said that… Incoming cranks in 3… 2… 1…

  30. #30 BKsea
    February 8, 2010

    “Medical Veritas is inviting Andrew Wakefield to republish his 1998 Lancet paper”

    So if he republishes it, will he still say the research included consecutive referrals, was approved by the institutional review board, and he has no conflicts of interest? If you repeat the lies enough do they become true?

    Curiously, Medical Verits claims to require authors to follow the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals.” These state that:

    “When reporting experiments on human subjects, authors should indicate whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration, the authors must explain the rationale for their approach and demonstrate that the institutional review body explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study.

    (my bold) Kind of hard to comply when it has been clearly demonstrated he did not comply with this!

  31. #31 Jud
    February 8, 2010

    I’ll see your 13, 14, or 20 apes and raise you 5 million kids:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100208102411.htm

  32. #32 Dangerous Bacon
    February 8, 2010

    “A Statement from Jenny McCarthy & Jim Carrey: Andrew Wakefield, Scientific Censorship, and Fourteen Monkeys”.

    When I saw this headline, along with the photo of Jenny and Jim, my first thought was “Nope, sixteen monkeys.”

    Apologies for the slur on primates and the absence of bridge-building.

  33. #33 Prometheus
    February 8, 2010

    RE: the “new” Fourteen Monkeys study.

    First off, is this an unconscious emulation of the worthless “Fourteen Studies” essay?

    Second, since Wakefield et al have already claimed that the hepatitis B vaccine (with added thiomersal) made the thirteen monkeys in their first study “developmentally delayed”, how are they going to claim that additional vaccines made them “developmentally delayed”?

    If I read their first “study” correctly, the ultimate goal was to use the same set of primates to study the impact of the entire “vaccine schedule” on their development. So, if they haven’t changed out the whole set of study animals (and how did it go from 20 monkeys – 13 subjects and 4+3 controls – to “fourteen”?), how do they propose to differentiate between continuing developmental delay and additional developmental delay?

    Or do they really care about doing a valid study? Given the way they designed the first study, I have to wonder.

    Prometheus

  34. #34 squirrelelite
    February 8, 2010

    To go directly to the horse’s mouth (instead of getting it filtered by AoA), here is Ben Goldacre’s take on the Wakefield hearing result:

    http://www.badscience.net/2010/01/the-wakefield-mmr-verdict/#more-1491

    As I read it, he places a lot of the blaim on the media for hyping the MMR-autism connection way out of proportion to what the study being reported was capable of showing, even if it had been good science (which it wasn’t).

  35. #35 squirrelelite
    February 8, 2010

    SC OM

    Thanks for posting the video link. Part II is there also. Does anyone know when that show was run (just curious)? I didn’t see a date and the resolution wasn’t very good.

    jre

    Thanks for bringing up the neutron radiation because I noticed in the 60 minutes interviews they never mentioned neutrons (or any other kind of radiation). If what is happening in these palladium water cells is really fusion, that is a big problem. Whenever two particles collide (like two deuterium nuclei), you have to conserve both momentum and energy. That is tricky because momentum is a linear function of speed and direction, while energy is a function of the square of the speed and independent of direction.

    To visualize, imagine two deuterium nuclei (each has a proton and a neutron for a mass of 2) each with a speed of 1 colliding from opposite directions. The net momentum going in is zero because the directions cancel. The energy of each is 2 times 1 squared is 2. 2 + 2 is 4. If they combine into a particle with a mass of approximately 4, then the speed would still be 1 to keep the energy at 4. However, you suddenly have a momentum of 4 from the previous zero momentum unless there is another particle carrying momentum in the opposite direction. In actual D-D fusion, the two D nuclei combine to form a Helium 3 nucleus and spit out a neutron to balance the momentum. (Actually, it’s even trickier. If I remember right, you actually need a third particle like a neutrino involved to get everything to balance out.)

    So, if the experiments are getting real fusion, there should be both excess heat and excess neutrons. And, the two should be consistent and proportional. The more excess neutrons, the more excess heat. The real problem in the early attempts to replicate Fleischmann and Pons was that some experiments would see a little extra energy, but no neutrons. Other experiments might see extra neutrons but not extra heat. Nobody seemed to be able to detect both at the same time. As far as I know, noone has yet, though I would be very excited to learn otherwise.

    Leaving aside the details of fusion, if a researcher has a device that they can run 1 watt of electricity through and get 25 watts of heat out, it is certainly worth researching even if they don’t entirely understand the mechanism. And that, I think, is why DARPA and the NRL funded some research. Also, it is a relatively cheap experiment to run.

    But, like so much CAM research, the trick is figuring out how you and other researchers can repeat or replicate the experiment and do so reliably.

  36. #36 Science Mom
    February 8, 2010

    @BKsea #30: You touched upon something that I am curious about. Lancet retracted the paper but don’t they still hold the copyright for it? Even if they didn’t, I would presume that Medical Veritas would have to have a release from all of the authors and considering 10 of them retracted the findings, I don’t see that happening. If Wakefield were to take them up on their offer, and frankly I don’t see that happening since he has his own vanity press, Autism Insights, he would have to re-write it and then how would that fly?

  37. #37 dt
    February 8, 2010

    The results, which you can read for yourself HERE, were disturbing. Vaccinated monkeys, unlike their unvaccinated peers, suffered the loss of many reflexes that are critical for survival.

    I couldn’t manage to suppress a chuckle with this one. So according to the bubbleheads, loss of these reflexes would kill the vaccinated monkeys.

    The final results will be interesting indeed, as we see the effects of vaccines given to dead monkeys over a 2 year period.

  38. #38 BKsea
    February 8, 2010

    Science Mom: I had the same thought on copyright. My thought was that the Lancet would gladly give up copyright as long as Medical Veritas did not refer to the original publication :)

  39. #39 Science Mom
    February 8, 2010

    @dt #37:

    The results, which you can read for yourself HERE, were disturbing. Vaccinated monkeys, unlike their unvaccinated peers, suffered the loss of many reflexes that are critical for survival.

    The funny thing about this, is that whomever had read that study to Jenny McC, didn’t do a good job. The monkeys did not lose those reflexes at all, they were just delayed a bit by their measurements, which were very flawed and prone to observer error.

  40. #40 Anthro
    February 8, 2010

    I just watched the McCarthy dummy in the “Biomedical 101″ video–well I watched it up to the L and C word, Iraq and Iran, chefs and kings, at which point I thought I would lose my lunch (and dinner) if I watched another second. It’s not just the blatant ignorance that is offensive, but her entire demeanor–she is very condescending to her audience who are apparently even stupider than she is! If she smoothed her bangs one more time I was going to throw something at the screen! How does she even PRETEND to be qualified to discuss health issues of ANY kind?

    Isn’t there something about “practicing medicine without a license”? Just what makes someone guilty of that? I threaten my coop employees with this every now and then just to shut them up about “cleansing” so that I can shop for my produce in peace. McCarthy is advising parents on medical issues such as allergies that she clearly knows nothing about. Free speech should not extend to the “treatments” to which these loons are subjecting their children.

  41. #41 David N. Brown
    February 9, 2010

    “The final results will be interesting indeed, as we see the effects of vaccines given to dead monkeys over a 2 year period.”
    My understanding is that the monkeys were killed and destroyed.

  42. #42 JustaTech
    February 9, 2010

    3 controls? In my experiments I often end up with as many controls as trial animals! And what’s their positive control? I didn’t think there was an animal model of autism. Damn. Such a waste. Those monkeys could have done some real science.

    (OT, I noticed that Jenny’s new workout video game was recommended by a magazine I get. I’ll have to write them a grumpy-gram.)

  43. #43 kiwigirl
    February 9, 2010

    @ Reginald

    I don’t know the stated methodology of the study, but you are right about the groups being small. Sample size calculations are normally done before a study, because there is no point conducting a study when the group sizes are so small that it is highly unlikely that a statistically significant difference will be found – there is no point undertaking this type of research.

    There are four important factors to look at when designing an experiment, and these are interrelated so if you know 3 of them, you can calculate the fourth. These factors are:
    1. power, or the sensitivity of the research to detect differences between groups
    2. significance level (alpha)
    3. effect size, or relative treatment magnitude
    4. sample size.

    Low power, tougher significance levels (e.g. .01 rather than .05) and lower effect sizes all act to increase the required sample size. Given these requirements, it is hard for me to see how the study could be published, let alone allege any “findings”. The sample sizes are just too small.

  44. #44 Alex Whiteside
    February 9, 2010

    Jay Gordon is blaming the GMC for Wakefield’s deceptions, which utterly boggles my mind:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jay-gordon/emthe-lancetem-retracted_b_447341.html

    He’s also claiming that nobody, not even Wakefield, thought that the Wakefield study was proof of anything. It’ll be interesting to see if he continues to disassociate the discredited study from the antivax movement, or instead joins his clients in attempting to defend it.

  45. #45 Kristen
    February 9, 2010

    I just watched the “dr” (couldn’t bring myself to capitalize) Jenny video. Why does anyone listen to this woman tell them they are doing everything wrong and hurting their own children, all that with hatred in her voice?

    She is so painfully ignorant and arrogently stupid! I couldn’t watch all of it because I was about to throw my iPhone. My teens have a name for women like her, “sarcastabitch”.

  46. #46 Militant Agnostic
    February 9, 2010

    Jay Gordon is blaming the GMC for Wakefield’s deceptions, which utterly boggles my mind

    Perhaps he got into the ether?

    There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge — Hunter S. Thompson

  47. #47 walt
    February 9, 2010

    Hey all,

    I could use some help dealing with the woo-woo over here at this otherwise respectable blog:

    http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2010/02/as-the-swine-flu-fiasco-fades-into-the-past-many-people-are-breathing-a-sigh-of-relief-some-because-they-were-worried-about.html

    It was a fiasco?

    Funny, nobody was worried about it being some global conspiracy when Mexicans were dropping like flies last spring.

  48. #48 bmartinmd
    February 9, 2010

    A useless monkey study? Where’s PETA?

  49. #49 Todd W.
    February 9, 2010

    @Jud

    Thanks for the Science Daily link. I’m rather amazed that AoA has nothing up on their site yet. I mean, after all, they tout themselves as an online newspaper for the autism community, and that study is huge. Actually, no, I’m not amazed. My guess is that they will find some way to dismiss that study or minimize it (probably pointing at the fact that age appears to account for only about 5% of the increase in rates in California).

    It will be interesting, though, to see if other researchers are able to replicate the findings.

  50. #50 W. Kevin Vicklund
    February 9, 2010

    The monkeys did not lose those reflexes at all, they were just delayed a bit by their measurements, which were very flawed and prone to observer error.

    Even if the measurements weren’t flawed, I saw nothing in the methodology to account for the well-characterized side-effects of vaccination. It is quite possible that this delay (of only a day or two) is simply due to something like vaccine-induced fever. A data-point in favor of my observation is that all of these statistically significant delays occurred at the same age – 2-3 days after birth, which just happens to be the time-frame in which fever occurs.

  51. #51 Kathryn
    February 9, 2010

    Neurotoxicology published THAT? Good grief, now I am absolutely not publishing my post-thesis paper there (unless my co-author insists). I was already leaning towards PLoS ONE anyhow, to support the open-access movement.

  52. #52 orangejuice
    February 9, 2010

    Could anyone here please clarify — for someone who has little background on this other than what Goldacre wrote in the final chapter of “Bad Science” — the paragraph in which those anti-vaccinationists write:

    “For the past decade, parents in our community have been clamoring for a relatively simple scientific study that could settle the debate over the possible role of vaccines in the autism epidemic once and for all: compare children who have been vaccinated with children who have never received any vaccines and see if the rate of autism is different or the same.”

    Thanks…

  53. #53 Antaeus Feldspar
    February 10, 2010

    orangejuice –

    clarify how? clarify what the anti-vaccinationists want, or clarify why it wouldn’t accomplish what they think it would?

    I’m not sure how the former could be made any simpler, so I’ll quickly address the issue of the second. The antivaccinationists think that doing such a comparison would test one, and only one hypothesis: the hypothesis that getting vaccinated poses a risk of autism. But in reality, a comparison between vaccinated and unvaccinated children could only ethically be done by finding a group of children whose parents had deliberately chosen to deprive their children of the accepted standard of medical care. A group of such parents would be very, very different in any number of aspects from, well, normal parents who get their children normal medical care. Even if a retrospective study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children showed a significant difference in autism rates, no matter which way the difference went, it would not give us a lot of help, scientifically speaking, because every aspect in which family units with unvaccinating parents differ from family units with parents who provide normal medical care would create another hypothesis to explain the difference. So even if unvaccinated children were found to have the higher rates of autism, it wouldn’t prove that autism was caused by a vaccine-preventable disease or that vaccination had a protective effect; it could also be that in families where the parents were stubborn about refusing the accepted standard of medical care for their children, likely out of fear of autism, the parents were themselves likely to be on the autistic spectrum, thus supporting a genetic cause. And so on and so on. The debate would not be settled.

  54. #54 MC
    February 10, 2010

    Orac,

    You gotta read the latest from JB. No surprise that he took the conspriacy theory hook, line and sinker. No surprise that he then took it one step farther.

    You see, Jenny and Jim’s blog post stopped the torrent of Wakefield stories.

    Seriously, that’s what he’s claiming:

    “On Friday, you could almost hear the collective gasp of the gravedancers when Jenny & Jim’s statement about the monkey study hit the wires. Did you notice the “their theory is dead” articles slowed to a trickle?”

    Jenny and Jim put out a press release after the surge of stories, and, as we all know, correlation equals causation.

    JB, take a look at the graph in google news that shows the peak in the news stories was well before J^J’s conspiracy mongering post.

    What a cheerleader.

  55. #55 Paul Varnas
    February 11, 2010

    The research denouncing the idea that mercury in vaccines could be causing a problem says things like, “Gee, we gave the kids vaccines and tested the blood, stool and urine for mercury and didn’t find any.” or, “Gee, the Danes use a lower level of mercury in their vaccines and they have as much autism as we do.” or, “Gee, we checked kids with autism and those without and the mercury levels were about the same.”
    One point worth mentioning here is that medical research in the United States is not as perfect as many believe. All of the journals sell ads to the drug companies; there can’t be a much better way to corrupt your scientific findings than money. Autism basically didn’t exist until the 1940s—it started after we started vaccinating children. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the vaccines are to blame; our environment has also gotten worse since the 1940s. But if there were real scientists in the medical community, they would compare the health of a population that does not get vaccinated to one that does get vaccinated. Maybe the problem isn’t mercury—there is a lot of other crap in vaccines. Also, wouldn’t is be interesting to see the amount of ADHD, autoimmune diseases, MS, Parkinson’s disease, allergies and asthma in the unvaccinated population when compared to those who get vaccinated. If you have a controversy like this, what is needed is a genuine scientific study that looks for the truth and doesn’t just protect moneyed interests. Also, if there is a question about the safety of vaccines, shouldn’t the burden of proof be on those who claim vaccines are safe and not on the critics?

  56. #56 Todd W.
    February 11, 2010

    @Paul Varnas

    Autism basically didn’t exist until the 1940s

    Bzzt! No, the diagnosis of autism didn’t exist until around then. The disorder almost certainly has existed for much longer.

    Confusing the existence of a disease with the creation of a diagnosis like that is like saying that some new species of beetle didn’t exist at all until a researcher happened upon it. Then, it just popped into existence.

  57. #57 Prometheus
    February 11, 2010

    Paul Varna claims:

    “Autism basically didn’t exist until the 1940s—it started after we started vaccinating children.”

    The first part of that claim – that autism “didn’t exist until the 1940′s”, is superficially correct. It is correct in the sense that Dr. Kanner didn’t use the term “autism” to describe children with a particular developmental delay until the 1940′s. That is as correct as saying that poliomyelitis (“polio”) didn’t exist until 1840 (when it was named by Jakob Heine), despite the fact that Egyptian mummies with the characteristic withered legs and/or arms of post-poliomyelitis paralysis have been found.

    The second part – that “it started after we started vaccinating children” – is not even superficially correct (or consistent with the first part of the sentence), since vaccination of children dates back to 1796. Diphtheria vaccination of children began in 1916. Need I continue?

    Prometheus

  58. #58 Rob
    February 12, 2010

    Peter Hitchens (who you might remember from his reaction to the GMC’s Wakefield verdict) was in the Daily Mail again denouncing the retraction as an Orwellian and Stalinist rewriting of history:

    Medicine with a Stalinist face
    The Lancet, a medical journal published since 1823, has nauseatingly ‘retracted’ an article it printed in 1998 – you’ll have guessed that it was Andrew Wakefield’s cautious suggestion that there might be risks associated with MMR.
    Well, I’d be surprised if this was the only article in The Lancet’s 187-year archives that has run into controversy. I think this retraction is sinister and creepy, redolent of the Stalinist habit of air-brushing murdered ex-Politburo members out of the picture.
    Removing embarrassing articles from the archives of ‘The Times’ was in fact Winston Smith’s job in 1984. What purpose is served by pretending you never published something? Not a good one.

    *eye-roll*

  59. #59 trrll
    February 12, 2010

    One point worth mentioning here is that medical research in the United States is not as perfect as many believe. All of the journals sell ads to the drug companies; there can’t be a much better way to corrupt your scientific findings than money.

    One of the signal characteristics of the crank is a readiness to make blanket assertions without bothering to check whether it is actually true. In fact, there are many journals that don’t carry pharmaceutical advertising. Journals that cater to MDs sometimes do, those that cater to the basic research community don’t (because basic researchers don’t prescribe). Many scientific journals do not accept any advertising.

    there can’t be a much better way to corrupt your scientific findings than money.

    And there is huge amount of money in quack treatments for autism, many of which exploit anti-vaccination fears to sell dangerous, senseless treatments (e.g. chelation) to frantic parents.

    But if there were real scientists in the medical community, they would compare the health of a population that does not get vaccinated to one that does get vaccinated.

    Such comparisons are difficult, because it is unethical to withhold a life-saving treatment (vaccination) for the sake of a study. The retrospective studies that have been done have identified no health problems whatsoever associated with vaccination, aside from very rare acute reactions that occur immediately after vaccination

    Maybe the problem isn’t mercury—there is a lot of other crap in vaccines. Also, wouldn’t is be interesting to see the amount of ADHD, autoimmune diseases, MS, Parkinson’s disease, allergies and asthma in the unvaccinated population when compared to those who get vaccinated.

    Actually, there is not a lot of “crap” in vaccines. In fact, there is not a lot of anything. There are very few substances in nature that are able to do much (either good or bad) in the tiny quantities that are present in a vaccine injection. Vaccine antigens are “special” in this regard, because they provide a signal to a specialized system in the body–the immune system–which has evolved highly specialized functions that enable it to react to amplify the tiny biological signal produced by minuscule quantities of antigen

  60. #60 James Sweet
    February 12, 2010

    Autism basically didn’t exist until the 1940s

    And nobody ever committed an epic FAIL until the 2000s.

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