Respectful Insolence

Orac post-publication note: There is reason to believe that one point I made below could well be incorrect. However, even leaving that point out, there are still many reasons to doubt the authenticity of the text exchange I discuss below. See the first 10 comments for a discussion. Unlike AoA and other antivaccine groups, if I am wrong about something, I will admit it and discuss what might have led me to an incorrect conclusion. Oh, and I missed something obvious (see comment #11). D’oh!

There’s something that’s been bothering me the last couple of days. I tried not to blog about it, but the more I looked at it the more it bugged me. It didn’t help that it’s also about this whole “CDC whistleblower” issue that’s been consuming about 90% of this blog’s posts for the last two weeks, thus risking tiring my readership (not to mention me) of the whole topic. So, when I noticed what I noticed, I sat back and waited, hoping that someone else would write about it, so that I wouldn’t have to. So far, as far as I can tell, no one has. I even hinted about it on Twitter, but no one took the bait. So here we are, once again, revisiting the story of CDC senior scientist William W. Thompson, who apparently helped biochemical engineer turned incompetent antivaccine pseudo-epidemiologist Brian Hooker produce an execrable “reanalysis” of one of a paper on the safety of the MMR vaccine on which Thompson was a co-author ten years ago that allegedly showed that there was an increased risk of autism in African-American males. It didn’t. For all his trouble Thompson was “outed” as the “CDC whistleblower” by Andrew Wakefield in an incredibly vile video likening this “deception” to the Tuskegee syphilis program and the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot all rolled into one in a piece de resistance of race baiting combined with Godwin. Later, Thompson issued a statement that is being trumpeted as “proof” that the “CDC lied,” when it is nothing of the sort.

The latest salvo from the antivaccine crank contingent came two days ago, when HIV/AIDS denialist Celia Farber published on her “Truthbarrier” website an article entitled BREAKING NEWS: CDC WHISTLEBLOWER TEXT MESSAGES TO ANDY WAKEFIELD: STUDY WOULD HAVE “SUPPORTED HIS SCIENTIFIC OPINION.” In it there was a grainy photo of what is purported to be an iPhone screen with the following text exchange:

photo402-e1409680426456-225x300

A bigger version can be found here. (Why waste my benevolent overlords’ bandwidth by hosting a 4.6 MB file, when I can host a small version of it and waste Farber’s instead if you want to see the full size version?) In any case, here’s the alleged exchange:

AJW: “Is the press release real?”

WT: “Yes”

AJW: Thank you. This was the right and honorable thing to do. Andy.

WT: I agree. I apologize again for the price you paid for my dishonesty.

AJW: I forgive you complete and without any bitterness.

WT: I know you mean it and am grateful to know you more personally.

Although there is no text exchange shown, it is also claimed that Thompson texted Andrew Wakefield’s wife Carmel on August 20, saying:

I do believe your husbands career was unjustly damaged and this study would have supported his scientific opinion. Hopefully I can help repair it.

One notes, however, that there are no visuals of this particular text. One wonders why.

In any event, it all sounds damning, doesn’t it? Thompson actually apologized for everything to Andy and his wife? If true, it would indicate to me that Thompson was—shall we say?—less than sincere when he issued his press release in which he stated that Brian Hooker had recorded their conversations without his knowledge and that Andrew Wakefield had released his name without his permission, given that this text exchange is supposed to have come from the evening of August 27, which is the day that Thompson’s press release was issued. Having spoken to William Thompson’s lawyer, Rick Morgan, on Friday, I figured I’d send him an e-mail asking if he could confirm or deny whether his client ever had such an exchange. I figured that he’d be annoyed if his client were communicating with Wakefield after having issued that press release or would be anxious to deny the authenticity of the exchange if not. Rick Morgan never responded. I presume he had gotten whatever message he had wanted to get to me and then, not needing me any more, decided to ignore future communications. He’s a lawyer. I expect little else.

But something about that text exchange, more specifically the image of that text exchange, bothered me. It even bothered some antivaccinationists, because I saw complaints about it. Why is it a photo of an iPhone? Doesn’t Andy even know how to take a screen shot on his iPhone? (Just press the Home and Sleep buttons at the same time and release. There’ll be a fake camera shutter noise, and you’ll have a screenshot. So, not long after, a real-seeming screenshot appeared:

wakerscreenshot

Better, right? (The full size original is here.) Well, no. Something kept bothering me about this screenshot. Something didn’t look right. No, it wasn’t necessarily just that there were apparently 130 unread text messages still on Wakefield’s phone, as indicated by the number 130 in parentheses. (Either Wakefield doesn’t check his texts that often, or he’s got a lot of groupies he communicates with.) It was something else. Something odd. So I looked at my own iPhone. Then I looked at this screenshot. Then I looked at my iPhone again. The iPhone in the screenshot is clearly running some version of iOS 7, as is mine. Then it hit me. Take a look at this part of Wakefield’s screen shot, the top of the screen:

photo-3 copy

Now take a look at the same header from mine. (I blocked out the name of the person texting me.) Notice any difference? Take another look:

oractext2

Now, do you notice the difference? I did? Notice how in Andy’s screenshot, the word “Back” appears by the arrow in the upper left hand corner. Notice how, in mine, the word “Messages” appears in the upper left hand corner. That’s what had been bugging me when I first looked at the screenshot and it didn’t look quite right to me! I had finally put my finger on it!

So does this anomaly mean that these text messages are faked? I don’t know. That’s why I waited two days to say anything about it. I was asking around to see if there were any versions of iOS 7 that displayed the word “Back” instead of “Messages” to indicate going back to the main list in the Messages app. (Maybe the UK version of iOS used “Back” instead of “Messages,” although Wakefield’s lived in Austin so long that I highly doubt he’d have a UK-sold iPhone or, if he did, that Thompson would be texting it. Oh, wait. Nope.) I couldn’t find any, but, even though I’m a pretty major Apple fanboi in many respects and have used an iPhone since I got the very first iPhone a few months after it had been released (I waited until my previous contract was up), I don’t claim encyclopedic knowledge of the iPhone. I could be wrong, and I’m sure one of you in the comments will tell me so if I am. If I’m not wrong, to me this anomaly strongly suggests that this screenshot in which Thompson allegedly “apologizes” to Andrew Wakefield is a fake.

Of course, even if the screenshot isn’t a “fake” (in that it was created on one of those text message generator apps or something like that), it could still be a fake, if you know what I mean. All it would take to make a “real” screenshot that is in reality faked would be for Andy to put a friend’s iPhone number into his Contacts app, give that contact the name “William,” and then have that friend text Wakefield whatever texts Wakefield wanted him to, to create the exchange. We have nothing other than Celia Farber’s and, apparently, Andrew Wakefield’s word (given that Wakefield Tweeted a link to Farber’s article) for it that this is really William Thompson texting him, and, as we’ve learned from his long history, anyone who relies on Wakefield’s word alone for anything is taking a huge risk of being burned.

So in the end, we’re left with three possibilities. First, this text exchange might legitimate, all the anomalies of not using a proper screenshot at first and “Back” instead of “Messages” appearing in the upper left hand corner notwithstanding. I doubt this possibility very much, because, for all his foolishness, naivete, and gullibility Thompson appears to be honest to a fault and his having communicated with Wakefield after accusing him of “outing” him without his permission would imply that Thompson was less than truthful—to put it mildly!—in his press release. Also, I doubt very much that his lawyer would be happy with his having communicated with Wakefield in a manner that could be publicized; my guess is that Morgan has Thompson under very strict instructions not to communicate with Brian Hooker, Andrew Wakefield, or anyone associated with them. Even if that weren’t the case, why would Thompson, having been burned once, give Wakefield a chance to burn him again? If Thompson really did communicate with Wakefield after becoming his client, I can see Rick Morgan tearing his hair out over the extreme stupidity of the move. Still, given Thompson’s past behavior, this possibility cannot be entirely discounted.

The other two possibilities are either that this screenshot was faked (which seems possible, although I could be mistaken, given that, despite extensive Googling I haven’t been able to find a screenshot that uses “Back” instead of “Messages” my search is not comprehensive) or that Wakefield faked a text exchange and made it appear to be someone named “William,” the implication being that that’s William Thompson, something that is incredibly easy to do. All you need is a friend with an iPhone to do it. There’s no concrete evidence to argue for or against this last possibility, but I also note that there’s no concrete evidence (just Farber’s and apparently Wakefield’s word) that the screenshot represents a real text exchange between William Thompson and Andrew Wakefield, either. That doesn’t even take into account the content of the text exchange, which is bizarre and stilted, to say the least. Even if it is real, it’s no doubt highly cherry picked.

Whatever the true case, this whole “CDC whistleblower” thing just keeps getting stranger and stranger. Now can the developments stop for a day so that I can write about something else tomorrow?

Comments

  1. #1 Dorit Reiss
    September 4, 2014

    I agree that the content and everything around this is beyond strange, and good catch on the header. I’m somewhat naively surprised that the anti vaccine activists are accepting this do readily.

    And here is a meme on it: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=762133880523290&substory_index=0&id=414643305272351

  2. #2 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    Gah! I just noted another anomaly! Look at the battery. In mine it’s black; in Andy’s it’s green. Oh wait. Never mind. That’s what happens when you plug the iPhone in to charge, as indicated by the little “charge” symbol next to the battery in Andy’s phone.

  3. #3 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 4, 2014

    Sorry to say, but my iPhone with iOS 7.0.6 shows ‘Back’.

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    September 4, 2014

    Also, I doubt very much that his lawyer would be happy with his having communicated with Wakefield in a manner that could be publicized; my guess is that Morgan has Thompson under very strict instructions not to communicate with Brian Hooker, Andrew Wakefield, or anyone associated with them. Even if that weren’t the case, why would Thompson, having been burned once, give Wakefield a chance to burn him again?

    You’re assuming that Thompson is acting rationally here. That’s probably true, but by no means guaranteed. Thompson would hardly be the first client to ignore the advice of his well-paid lawyer to STFU.

    I would agree that this is less likely to be a genuine conversation with Thompson than either a Photoshop fake or the transcript of a conversation with a different William. For one thing, consider the source. But Thompson sounds naive and gullible enough to have done this, legal advice notwithstanding.

  5. #5 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    Interesting. Thanks for pointing that out. The text exchange is still rather dodgy in many other ways.

    I actually spent a lot of time searching the web for screenshots of iPhone messages with “Back” instead of “Messages,” trying variations of all the versions of iOS 7 that existed, and I couldn’t find it.

  6. #6 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    @Orac – the flow of those text messages seems “odd” since there is no context (why would he apologize to Wakefield?)

    If Wakefield is asking “is Thompson’s press release real?” And Thompson says yes, why is Wakefield saying Thank you?

    Thank you for putting out a press release that calls me a liar (for having said that I had your permission to release your name)?

    Again, the texts don’t even make sense in the context by which they are given…..

  7. #7 Catherina
    September 4, 2014

    mine alternates between “zurück” and “Nachrichten” (back and messages – my UK phone speaks German) depending on who sent the message. If it is someone in my address book, it says “Nachrichten”, if it is a number I have not saved, it says “zurück” (so contrary to the above).
    Also – why does “Andy” spell “honorable” without the British “u”?

  8. #8 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    @Johnny:

    Actually, going back to the official Apple video introducing iOS 7, I saw that it’s “Messages,” not “Back”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT_OmTMwvZI

    It’s around 3:35 in.

    So this is very strange. What country version of iOS 7 are you using?

  9. #9 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    mine alternates between “zurück” and “Nachrichten” (back and messages – my UK phone speaks German) depending on who sent the message. If it is someone in my address book, it says “Nachrichten”, if it is a number I have not saved, it says “zurück” (so contrary to the above).

    Interesting. Mine doesn’t do that. I tested. Maybe Andy’s using a UK phone.

  10. #10 Katherine
    September 4, 2014

    Erm, this blog seems comparative to conspiracy theory blogs where they pick everything apart in order to validate their wild theories.

  11. #11 Spectator
    September 4, 2014

    The apparent mouse cursor on the first image also seems out of place on an iphone…

  12. #12 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    @Orac – when was the last time he was in the UK & why would he buy a phone there? The updates should be US anyway…

    Again, those text messages might make a little bit of sense if it was sent to Hooker (since the case can be made that Dr. Thompson did mention the data issue that Hooker ultimately “found”)…but they make no sense when applied to Wakefield.

  13. #13 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    @Katherine – perhaps you don’t spend enough time at AoA….they are the ones claiming this is real, when there are good reasons to believe it isn’t (or not being shown in context).

  14. #14 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    @Spectator: D’oh! How did I miss that?

    OK, even if I’m wrong about the “Back”/”Message” thing (which seems not unlikely now, although I still haven’t been able to find such a screenshot), that cursor in the first picture sure does suggest that this was made using a text exchange generator. There are no cursors on the iPhone. They’re not needed, given that everything is down by touch. I mean, holy hell. If you’re going to spoof a text exchange, at least make sure the computer cursor isn’t in the photo…

  15. #15 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    September 4, 2014

    Remember Betteridge’s law of headlines

    “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no’.”

  16. #16 Denice Walter
    September 4, 2014

    Orac: ” he’s got a lot of groupies..” Heh.

    AND… Celia Farber! Holy Christmas!

    Isn’t it interesting how these folks run together?
    Celia, Andy, Hooker, David Lewis, anti-vaxxers of all stripe, hiv/ aids denialists and what frigging else! Oh. Bolen.
    ( I once pointed out the PRN connection as several were guests and/ or had shows on PRN, e.g. Farber, Steve Kohn) There are even more but right now I have other work.

  17. #17 Gray Falcon
    September 4, 2014

    So far, searching my iPhone messages, I have seen a few with “Back” in the corner. Every single one of them, however, I didn’t have a contact name, just a phone number. It’s possible it switches to “Back” if there isn’t room for “Messages”.

    Regardless, I am unable to accept this as evidence simply because we have no way to confirm its accuracy without a court-ordered search of Apple’s database.

  18. #18 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 4, 2014

    True blue all American here. My phone was bought and never been out of the US. But wait, there’s more.

    I’m an old guy, and I don’t use SMS, so I don’t have a lot of experience with it. The only text I get are free ones my carrier sends me to say my bill has been paid. Most of the time don’t read them.

    So I went back to look again to see if read vs unread vs previously read might make a difference, and it seems it does.

    However, as I was zeroing in on it, I ran out of unread messages. So it’s there sometimes, but not if your unread is zero.

  19. #19 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    September 4, 2014

    There are no cursors on the iPhone. They’re not needed, given that everything is down by touch. I mean, holy hell. If you’re going to spoof a text exchange, at least make sure the computer cursor isn’t in the photo…

    It could be a computer screen shot of the text hence the cursor.

  20. #20 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    I hadn’t realized how many “fake text” sites there are out there….seems incredibly simple to fake whatever you’d like.

  21. #21 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    @Gray Falcon: Interesting. It seems that even if I’m wrong about the whole “Back”/”Message” thing, there’s still plenty of reason to believe Andy’s text exchange is fake on the basis of what you say. If there’s “Back” there, it would seem, there should have been a phone number, not a name, at the top, in which case the screenshot must have been altered because in Andy’s screenshot there’s the name “William” there.

    As an aside, I’ve checked many of the messages on my iPhone, and I don’t see the word “Back” when it’s just a phone number there not matched to a contact. Weird. I’m learning something I didn’t know about iOS 7, not that I’m sure that it’s of much use.

    On the other hand, that first picture really is odd and suggestive that something weird is going on here that doesn’t involve a real screenshot.

  22. #22 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    @Orac – figured it out.

    If there is no “name” only a phone number, it says “Back”..if it has a contact name, it will say messages.

    That, by itself, shows that the message above is fake – since it would say “Messages” because of the contact name being given as William.

    Ta Da!

  23. #23 Gray Falcon
    September 4, 2014

    @Science Mom- Why would someone photograph a screenshot?

  24. #24 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    Heh. Maybe I’m correct, just for the wrong reason. :-)

  25. #25 Chemmomo
    Don't have an iPhone, but . . .
    September 4, 2014

    “I know you mean it and i am grateful to know your more personally.”

    Why didn’t the “i” autocorrect to “I“?

  26. #26 Chemmomo
    Ooops
    September 4, 2014

    ^ “you” not “your”
    Why can’t I type correctly?

  27. #27 kruuth
    September 4, 2014

    Want to ask a few questions…

    Why did Wakefield put his name in the text? What good would that possibly do? Obviously it’s coming from him as per the text conversation?

    Not sure if this applies to iOS since I don’t use it, but in Android, if you change a contact’s name, the header will change. This is always good for a joke when we have an existing conversation with someone like mom or dad asking if you’re coming home for dinner, and you change the name in the contacts to something like “Mick Jagger” and suddenly it looks like Mick is inviting you to dinner.

    Also, why would Andrew Wakefield have Dr. William Thompson in his contacts as “William?”

    Just my thinking here.

  28. #28 Denice Walter
    September 4, 2014

    @Chemomo:

    The i is to make it look more legit- not too perfectly polished.
    Just like his project had 8 of 12 subjects not 11 of 12.

  29. #29 JGC
    September 4, 2014

    I wonder why there’s such a gap between the comments at 5:55 and 7:37–that “I forgive you complete and without any bitterness” seems to come out of nowhere, hours later. makes me wonder if additional texts to and from William made between 6:00 and 7:30 were deleted to create this apparently seamless conversation.

  30. #30 Denice Walter
    September 4, 2014

    Ooops! Chemmomo.

  31. #31 Brian Deer
    September 4, 2014

    I hate to say it, but I think you’re struggling here. You’re claiming that Wakefield would validate a fake text exchange contained in a screenshot.

    I’ve never thought he was bright, but it sounds more than a little far-fetched to think he would supplant my 86 page declaration describing his research misconduct, with a piece of artwork that a seven-year-old could grasp. After all, it’s not like Dr Thompson will not get his moment in the spotlight.

    Given Dr Thompson’s apparent agony that he may have contributed to the fall of Andrew Wakefield, maybe I could step in as his locum priest and assure him that he had nothing to do with it. Maybe he could get advice from the lawyer you mentioned as to whether all this is just made up:

    http://briandeer.com/solved/slapp-amended-declaration.pdf

  32. #32 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    If you’re going to recreate the message above – it looks like this may do the trick:

    http://www.ios7text.com/

    Also, Chemmo is right, the iPhone would always autocorrect the i as I….

  33. #33 JGC
    September 4, 2014

    Assuming it’s a shot of an actual iPhone, of course

  34. #34 JCL
    September 4, 2014

    I kinda agree that this is a little like conspiracy theorists at work – pretty much needs one or other of the parties to confirm/deny then we’ll know — er oh wait…

    Still, gotta have my ha’pennies worths – why does he sign the second text ‘Andy.’

    Anyway – wether real or not – its the most brown-nosed vomit worthy txt exchange I’ve seen in a while

  35. #35 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    Also, why would Andrew Wakefield have Dr. William Thompson in his contacts as “William?”

    I can answer that one. In the iPhone preferences, under Mail, Contacts, and Calendars, there is an option for “Short Name,” which tells the phone how to shorten names that are in the contacts. Options include:

    1. First name and last initial
    2. First initial and last name
    3. First name only
    4. Last name only

    There is also an option to “Prefer Nicknames.” There is a field in entries in the Contacts app for “Nickname,” such as if you have a pet name for your wife or girlfriend or your friend has a nickname that is commonly used. If that option is turned on and there is a nickname in the Contact, then the phone will use that preferentially.

    If Short Name is turned on and set to “First Name Only,” then even if William Thompson’s full name is in the Contacts app database, Messages will only show “William.”

  36. #36 Brian Utterback
    September 4, 2014

    I think you are reading too much into the discrepancies. Yes, the screenshot was displayed on another system and photographed, and the photograph was sent, but without knowing the context this might be nefarious or innocent. I just looked on my iPhone, and indeed some messages say “Messages” and some say “Back”. Not all messages without a contact say “Back”, but no message with a contact doesn’t say “Messages”. However, if I have a message that is not in my contact list displayed, and it says “Back”, if I then press “Contact” and create a contact, when I return to the message, it still says “Back” but the number is now replaced with the name I just created. This suggests that the message was originally from a number and a contact was made just then. This is another reason why the picture of a display of a screenshot is probably innocent, namely if I was trying to fake a text exchange, I would just do it with someone else and change the contact when I took the screenshot. No image editing required, not possibility of a discrepancy. Which also shows us that the screenshot is no proof at all.

    • #37 Orac
      September 4, 2014

      This is another reason why the picture of a display of a screenshot is probably innocent, namely if I was trying to fake a text exchange, I would just do it with someone else and change the contact when I took the screenshot. No image editing required, not possibility of a discrepancy.

      Which is why I included that as a third possibility. :-)

  37. #38 Felis Uncia
    September 4, 2014

    Faking a text message, which would surely be refuted at some point, if not real, seems very bizarre. I think the ‘i’ wouldn’t necessarily autocorrect if it came from Thompson’s phone and it wasn’t an iPhone. Also, I’m not sure the cursor is massively suspicious – it’s just a screenshot of the conversation from a computer screen – perhaps Wakefield took a photo of the screen to make it seem (somehow) more genuine, rather than just the screenshot as a raw image. The content of the conversation is the most dodgy thing to me, the rest is all explainable in some way.

  38. #39 politescott
    September 4, 2014

    That may not be a mouse cursor, that’s where the “GPS in use” icon appears on my iPhone. It’s the identical shape, though my icon is solid, not hollow.

  39. #40 Karl Withakay
    September 4, 2014

    To add further confusion, I don’t know how Macs do screen shots, but Windows screenshots don’t include the cursor.

    Also, a “friend” of yours now has a screenshot featuring “Back” on their Facebook page.

  40. #41 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    On top of your text in the middle lower part of the screen? I’ve never seen my GPS in use icon there!

  41. #42 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    Because the “iMessage” is located at the bottom, it shows that both Wakefield and Thompson have iPhones (otherwise it would just say Text Message)….

    Again, i’s always autocorrect on iPhones.

  42. #43 Karl Withakay
    September 4, 2014

    Note: The blacked out part of the screen shot was a number. As soon as I added the number to the contacts, it displays the contact name instead of the number, and the “Back” changes to “Messages”.

    The GPS thing could be a result of the device management software my firm is using.

  43. #44 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    “To add further confusion, I don’t know how Macs do screen shots, but Windows screenshots don’t include the cursor.”

    Its a photograph of the screen taken with an iPhone. You can see that in the exif data.

  44. #45 politescott
    September 4, 2014

    Nope, you’re right, I was looking at the wrong arrow. That IS a mouse arrow.

    Karl, third-party screen shot programs will show the cursor.

  45. #46 Argus
    Somewhere in the universe
    September 4, 2014

    It seems silly to try to determine whether or not this test message exchange is real based on what you can see on the screens given that:
    1. It is child’s play to fake this. (See comment #32, and there are no doubt other ways)
    2. There is no way to validate the text exchange without access to the servers they traveled on (as pointed out in #17 and never going to happen)
    In addition, Wakefield is already a proven liar. Why wouldn’t his acolytes be the same?

  46. #47 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    There is no way to validate the text exchange without access to the servers they traveled on

    Or a forensic analysis of Andy Wakefield’s and/or William Thompson’s iPhone. Although it’s been pointed out that, contrary to its claims that it cannot, Apple can, if it wishes, retrieve iMessages, it is apparently not trivial for it to do, given end-to-end encryption iMessage uses. Obviously, it would take a subpoena to get Apple to do that, which just isn’t likely to happen. Nor is Wakefield or Thompson likely to give up his phone for a thorough forensic analysis.

  47. #48 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    Because the “iMessage” is located at the bottom, it shows that both Wakefield and Thompson have iPhones (otherwise it would just say Text Message)….

    So does the blue color of the word balloons containing Wakefield’s texts. :-)

  48. #49 Karl Withakay
    September 4, 2014

    “The GPS thing could be a result of the device management software my firm is using.” -Nevermind: It can be very confusing to reply to things without rereading the whole thread since your last post. :)

  49. #50 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    Also, I’m not sure the cursor is massively suspicious – it’s just a screenshot of the conversation from a computer screen – perhaps Wakefield took a photo of the screen to make it seem (somehow) more genuine, rather than just the screenshot as a raw image.

    Yes, looking at the high resolution version of the image, I can now see pixels going off the sides and bottom of the image.

  50. #51 Karl Withakay
    September 4, 2014

    “third-party screen shot programs will show the cursor.”

    Many can, yes, but the built in screenshot function of Windows used by the majority Windows users won’t.

  51. #52 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    So, let me see if I get this story straight:

    Wakefield didn’t know how to take a screenshot from his iPhone, so how did he get it to the computer screen that he took the picture from?

  52. #53 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    I think we need to play “the Man from Missouri” on this one…if Wakefield wants to prove that this message change is real, then he needs to show the entire conversation.

    And he also should really release the unedited audio, as well – since it seems that Thompson is okay with that now….

  53. #54 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    “Wakefield didn’t know how to take a screenshot from his iPhone, so how did he get it to the computer screen that he took the picture from?”

    Wakefield emailed it to that blogger. She took a picture of her screen. She’s since added a copy of the screenshot to her blog.

  54. #55 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 4, 2014

    I don’t understand how anyone can be saying “oh, that mouse cursor isn’t that suspicious, it’s just a screenshot of the conversation from the computer screen” – that doesn’t make any sense.

    If you had real evidence of something, and wanted to convince others of its reality, you’d want to collect the best evidence of it happening – no unnecessary steps.

    So for instance, suppose you had a text message conversation that you wanted to show people had happened, and you didn’t actually know how to take a screenshot of it with your phone. You might settle for grabbing some other camera and shooting a photo of the screen. So far so good.

    But the iPhone wouldn’t generate a mouse cursor. Neither would the camera you were taking the picture with. The least elaborate scenario in which the cursor gets superimposed on the picture is one where the entire conversation that was to be recorded was already captured in a computer and being displayed on a screen – and then someone got out their camera and took a fuzzy picture of that.

    Why?

    If you have the image saved on a computer, you can share it endlessly and have no loss of fidelity. Why on earth would anyone who had real evidence and wanted to share it in order to convince people deliberately introduce a LARGE amount of image degradation by photographing the image on the computer screen?

    You don’t do that if you want to convince people of the truth by providing them with the best evidence. You would do it, however, if the only evidence you had was sketchy and you needed to hide how sketchy it was.

  55. #56 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    Why do you think it is impossible (in today’s day and age, with Mega-Mega Pixel digital cameras & mobile devices), to catch non-blurry pictures of UFOs and Bigfoot?

    For example the same reason you mention – they have something to hide. If the image was already on a computer, why not just email it – why take a picture?

    Something is rotten (again) with this one….

  56. #57 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 4, 2014

    Wakefield emailed it to that blogger. She took a picture of her screen. She’s since added a copy of the screenshot to her blog.

    Exactly, it doesn’t make any sense.

    Wakefield sends Farber a photo image by email.

    She wants to show the world this photo image.

    So she takes a photo of it on her screen??

    And then posts that photo?

    I’m sorry, I do not believe it. I believe in people who don’t know how to do screenshots. I believe in people who don’t know how to get a photo onto their blog. I just do not believe in people who can figure out how to take a picture file produced by their own camera and get it onto their blog but can’t figure out how to do it with a picture file provided to them via e-mail.

  57. #58 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    September 4, 2014

    @Science Mom- Why would someone photograph a screenshot?

    I wouldn’t deign to even try and answer that given the cast of clowns involved. But the one with the cursor in it is highly pixelated and looks like a photo of a computer.

  58. #59 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    Yup. That’s why I must beg to differ with Mr. Deer on this one. As I’ve pointed out multiple times, I could be off-base on this one. On the other hand, no one that I’ve been able to find has discussed these issues online other than believers in the vaccine-autism notion (I refuse to dignify it by calling it a hypothesis anymore), who are lapping up this text message exchange in spite of the multiple reasons to doubt its authenticity or, at the very least, to doubt whether it’s conveying the whole story.

    At best (for Wakefield), it’s real (albeit almost certainly highly cherry picked). In that case, why e-mail it to Farber, and why would Farber need to take a picture of her computer screen when she has the PNG file of the screenshot, which could be shared or posted as desired? (iPhones produce PNG files of screenshots.) At worst, it’s a fake, either made with an iPhone text message generator or by Wakefield or someone else having a text exchange and then changing the contact name to “William.”

    Hey, worst case scenario, I get a little mud on my face, but such is life. I’m willing to risk being wrong sometimes.

  59. #60 Gray Falcon
    September 4, 2014

    I’ve studied computer forensics. Small details like a mouse pointer appearing on a shot of an iPhone can make or break a case.

  60. #61 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    @Orac – perhaps it would force Wakefield to release the entire chain of text messages to provide context.

    Again, the disjointed nature of the conversation doesn’t even make sense in the context in which Wakefield is giving…

    Perhaps this might also force Thompson to either confirm that he has been in communication with Wakefield (thus weakening his case even further and potentially jeopardizing his status as a “whistleblower” under the statutes) or disavow any knowledge of this communication – thus declaring it to be a fake.

    Who knows – but at the end of the day, the Anti-Vax nuts are just damaging their own credibility further (if that was even possible) by this drib / drab method of releasing information.

  61. #62 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 4, 2014

    Why would “Doctor” Wakefield send the screenshot to The Truth Barrier, and not, say, AoA or Hooker? I don’t follow the anti-vax people in great detail, and I thought I knew most of the players. I’d never heard of The Truth Barrier, until now. If “Doctor” Wakefield did send it to someone else first, who, and why sent it to The Truth Barrier?

  62. #63 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    September 4, 2014

    I don’t really care if it’s fake or real — my opinion of the parties involved is already low enough that neither option really hurts them. But the photo of a screen showing a text message chain . . . well. I like to read the blog <a href="http://thedailywtf.com/"thedailywtf.com and there’s a running gag involving this sort of not-quite-understanding-how-the-technology-works thing, which they call the “wooden table approach”. Here’s the original instance of it: Web 0.1

  63. #64 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    September 4, 2014

    And, naturally, I have failed my HTML. :-P There’s poetry there….

  64. #65 DLC
    September 4, 2014

    What happens on your iPhone if you are carrying on a text conversation that runs to multiple screens ?
    Is it possible that iPhone uses “back” to take you back the start of the message session ?
    Just wondering. I only have an old, outdated phone, not a smartphone.

  65. #66 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    @DLC – you just have to scroll back up with your finger….

    Lots of really good points raised here that bring a lot of suspicion on the validity of the conversation….only Thompson now can confirm or deny in a way that would put this to rest.

  66. #67 Narad
    September 4, 2014

    Its a photograph of the screen taken with an iPhone. You can see that in the exif data.

    Taken in Manhattan at 1:12 p.m. on September 2. Where did wakerscreenshot-393×700.jpg come from? Farber writes “the second one is a JPG, here,” but delivers photo-3.png. The JPG was created by Adobe Fireworks CS6.

  67. #68 joseph
    September 4, 2014

    Bit strange that quite a highly educated Brit would prefer “honorable” over “honourable”.

  68. #69 The Grouchybeast
    September 4, 2014

    What I don’t understand if how an epidemiological study that finds a non-significant association between autism and MMR vaccines given in a specific time frame, in African-American boys, *could* possibly validate Andrew Wakefield’s ‘case series’ of an imaginary bowel syndrome in non-African American children. Forget whether the text messages are real, I can’t even follow the logic. The two studies are not even remotely similar, except in that they both contain the words ‘MMR’ and ‘autism’.

    And even if Thompson believes in his heart that the DeStefano et al study was carried out wrongly, that has exactly fuck-all to do with the fact that Wakefield’s paper was fraudulent. Does Thompson think the GMC investigation was some kind of Big Pharma cover-up? No study, no matter how much it didn’t follow its own protocol, can validate Wakefield, BECAUSE WAKEFIELD MADE UP DATA. Even if the CDC turned around tomorrow and said, oops, yes, all autism is caused by MMR, it still wouldn’t make Andrew Wakefield less of a fraud. The idea that the DeStefano paper could’ve saved Wakefield’s career is simply delusional.

  69. #70 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    “but delivers photo-3.png. ”

    She changed the photo she had there. The original photo there was

    http://truthbarrier.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/photo-3-576×1024.png

    It’s still on her server, but she appears to have pulled it.

    It has been commented online that the dimensions of that first photo don’t make sense. They don’t match an iPhone screenshot.

    And, why title an image “photo-3-576×1024.png” anyway? Why not take the title the iPhone gives you?

  70. #71 Neil
    September 4, 2014

    Re: “I wonder why there’s such a gap between the comments at 5:55 and 7:37–that “I forgive you complete and without any bitterness” seems to come out of nowhere, hours later.”

    Not really so implausible. Wakefield sends “That was the right and honorable thing to do”, sets down his phone, and goes off to dinner at 6:00pm. A minute or two later, Thompson sends “I apologize again”. Wakefield doesn’t see it until he comes back from dinner at 7:57, when he picks up his phone, sees the (two hour old) message, and replies “I forgive you completely …”.

  71. #72 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    Bit strange that quite a highly educated Brit would prefer “honorable” over “honourable”.

    Unless he’s been thoroughly Americanized in his more than a decade living in Texas, I guess.

  72. #73 Lowri
    Wales
    September 4, 2014

    I’m on an iPhone iOS 7.1.2. If someone texts from an email account the header when reading the text states “back “. If it’s a SMS from a phone, the header reads messages.

    None of this validates the conversation which to me reads utterly fake. But maybe Andy has got so used to fawning admirers that he now thinks it’s how people speak.

    -hi Andy you are completely correct I utterly validate you.

    – gee thanks.

    – no you were so totally rite and awesome

    Do people really text like that? Also why no mention of ‘Oh by the way that press release where I make you look like a jerk – The Man Made Me Do it!’ as it would be likely to enter the conversation given the alleged texts were sent on the day of the release.

    Personally I think Andy created an email account, christened it William and sent himself some texts.

    Either way, if this is what Andy considers solid evidence these days, it shows pure desperation. iPhone screenshots??? The fact he’s even publicising this shows the depth to which he has fallen.

  73. #74 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    I meant to write–she seems to have pulled it from the blog article. The original is still, for now, on her server.

    Notice that the border has been changed. It was black or very dark purple originally. Now it’s blue.

    Why is she editing this? What’s the border supposed to look like?

  74. #75 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    Sorry—the borders are added by the exif site.

  75. #76 Sarah A
    September 4, 2014

    Honestly, though, does it really matter whether this exchange is real or not? Even if Dr. Thompson genuinely feels guilty about not publishing that data b/c he believes that it was clinicaly significant and/or that it would have validated Wakefield’s fraudulent study, he’s still wrong, for all of the reasons Orac (and others) have already discussed.

  76. #77 Karl Withakay
    September 4, 2014

    “I’m sorry, I do not believe it. I believe in people who don’t know how to do screenshots. I believe in people who don’t know how to get a photo onto their blog. I just do not believe in people who can figure out how to take a picture file produced by their own camera and get it onto their blog but can’t figure out how to do it with a picture file provided to them via e-mail”

    I’ve seen people do a lot of strange things with computers in my career, like print a document, fax that hard copy, then scan it back in after faxing, and print that scanned image out and file that hard copy in a filing cabinet, and I still can’t make sense of that photo of a PC screen showing an iPhone screenshot.

  77. #78 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    Any bets on when the first version (photo-3-576×1024.png) get’s pulled from her wordpress media library (and, hence, the link stops working)?

  78. #79 Fragmeister
    September 4, 2014

    “Bit strange that quite a highly educated Brit would prefer “honorable” over “honourable”.”

    And “I forgive you complete” and not “completely”.

  79. #80 KayMarie
    September 4, 2014

    @Karl

    I’m old enough to remember when some people would insist they had to staple the floppy disk to any paperwork it came with before filing it.

  80. #81 Fragmeister
    September 4, 2014

    Ignore my comment. I obviously can’t read.

  81. #82 Nick J
    September 4, 2014

    can’t remember where, but I recall seeing someone post a grainy camera-taken picture of a screen to document ‘proof of something’, claiming that somehow the camera shot was more reliable as ‘proof’. A simple screenshot could be easily edited/faked, but the photograph would show more evidence if someone later edited it…

    or, in short: someone doesn’t understand technology.

  82. #83 Militant Agnostic
    Where British and American spellings collide.
    September 4, 2014

    Perhaps honourable got auto-corrected to honorable? The complete/completely thing is more suspicious. Perhaps someone other than Wakefield faked the messages. I think we cannot tell who was driving this clown car.

  83. #84 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    After doing some testing, I can’t get my iPhone not to auto-correct “i” to I, unless I turn auto-correct off…..

  84. #85 Ren
    September 4, 2014

    I’m not at my computer, but can someone do us all a favor? It’s a long shot, but can someone use google images to look for this picture and see if one of the image creators has it? I found a fake church announcement that way the other day. It requires time and patience. I’ll get on this when I get home tonight too.

  85. #86 sadmar
    Photoshop Shop
    September 4, 2014

    Orac:
    The ‘grainy photo’ is VERY weird.

    The most notable thing is the moire pattern that appears in the image. This is caused by the pixel grid of the camera sensor not alligning with the pixel grid of the display. However, it also depends on how the display technology works. I don’t have any kind of Apple device with a ‘Retina’ screen, so I can’t say for sure what difference that would make, but IN GENERAL, you only see that kind of moire when rephotographing a CRT display (which has a more distinctive separated dot pattern, and in which only a single pixel has it’s phosphors lit by the electron scan beam at any moment) and NOT on any kind of LCD display (which has a smoother blend between pixels, which all stay lit more or less all the time). Moreover, LCD screen are flat, and the photo shows curvature in the bar at the bottom, consistent with it having been displayed on a CRT.

    The next weird thing, is the resolution of the ‘original’ iPhone screen. It’s a very blocky lo-res version.

    The third Weird thing is that if you DL the image from the Farber site, and adjust the levels, you’ll see
    remnant detail in the apparently black borders. Note especially that the visible bits of text are considerably sharper than the text in the screen-cap.

    There’s also EXIF data in the file, indicating the photo was taken with an iPhone 4S. Google Maps identifies the GPS coordinates logged in the photo as corresponding to 214 W 102nd St, New York, NY 10025, (an apartment building). I have no idea how accurate Google Maps might be at picking out a specific address from the GPS data. The EXIF indicates the photo was taken on 9/2/2014 at 5:12PM GMT. (EXIF data can he hacked of course, but not that many regular folks know how to do that.)

    The screen-cap posted on Ferber’s site is 1136X640, indicating it was captured on an iPhone 5. There are no tell-tale signs of ‘Photoshopping’ in the screen cap, though given that nature of the bit-map, an undetectable forgery would be possible. However, as already noted here, it’s easy enough to just create a text exchange with some other “William.”

    The ‘grainy photo’ is in the native resolution of the iPhone 4s, it does not appear to have been cropped and/or resized. It’s possible to reframe an image somewhat in Photoshop (i.e. zoom in a little) and then resize it back to the native resolution without an obvious loss of resolution, but I doubt that was done here. A more likely manipulation would be a simple Photoshop adjustment to make the background darker than the screen-cap in the foreground. I would guess that was indeed done.

    SO, WHAT DO WE HAVE HERE? With the appropriately DeStafano-ish qualifiers, the looks to be:
    1) a screen cap was taken on an iPhone 5 (which could have been anywhere)
    2) that file was probably reduced in size, lowering it’s resolution
    3) that file then found its way to New York City, where it was opened in a computer (probably a Mac)
    4) the Mac video-out was hooked up to an old-school big-screen CRT TV/Monitor, probably to make the image big enough to be rephotographed tightly.
    5) the monitor display was photographed with the camera of an iPhone 4s.
    6) the iPhone photo was captured to a computer, opened in a photo editor, the background significantly darkened, and saved with no further adjustment.
    7) That photo was compressed into a bandwidth-friendly JPEG, and uploaded to the Web.

    SO, WHY WOULD ANYBODY GO THROUGH ALL THAT?
    I gotta get some lunch, so I’ll have to come back, and I need some time to mull it over anyway.
    …………….
    Another separate weird thing: When you look at the full-res screencap Orac posted above, but on the Ferber site, it appears to extend lower than it does here, and to contain the text “Text exchange between Dr. Andrew Wakefield and Dr. William Thompson, Aug 27, 2014.” That’s not part of the actual screen-cap. It’s HTML. The screen-cap image is inside an HTML table with it’s background set to blend exactly with the gray behind the camera logo and ‘Send’ at the bottom of the screen cap. Thus, the site designers have clearly attempted to give a false impression that the names and date are part of the screen-cap (otherwise those grays would not match exactly), but they didn’t actually Photoshop the image, so they can say “it was just a design choice by our webmaster!”

  86. #87 Lowri
    Wales
    September 4, 2014

    #85 good luck with searching. Apparently if you look hard enough there’s measles RNA in the messages

  87. #88 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    sadmar,

    the most simple answer would be that the people involved were concerned that someone would look through metadata…just as is being done. People who don’t really understand metadata, but know it exists.

    So, they take a picture of a computer screen. That way they get the image and no metadata.

    Then they take the picture, open it and save it to try to remove the metadata. Why they adjusted the size at the same time? Maybe they thought they needed to do something to remove the metadata.

    Of course, this begs the question, if you have an image that you think might have metadata saying “Andy’s iPhone, legitimate screenshot”, why worry about the metadata?

    I gave up trying to understand Wakefield years ago. I can’t bend my mind into such a logical pretzel and abandon ethics.

  88. #89 sadmar
    The .png
    September 4, 2014

    The 576×1024 .png is just a 90% reduction of the 640×1136 original. This may have been done automatically by the web-authoring software…

    OR, it could have something to do with the illusion I noted in the last paragraph of the post above.

  89. #90 Ren
    September 4, 2014

    @Lowri,
    Not only that, but you can see the measles virus with a pill camera, too.

  90. #91 Narad
    September 4, 2014

    So, they take a picture of a computer screen. That way they get the image and no metadata.

    Except that what was accomplished was taking something with no metadata (it doesn’t look like iPhones embed an XMP block into screen-shot PNGs) and coverting it into something that does.

  91. #92 Reality
    150847000 km from Sol
    September 4, 2014

    I’m calling a Hanlon’s Razor on this one:
    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

    There may be a perfectly stupid reason for the cursor and screenshots – Farber.
    There’s no telling what convoluted path an ignoramus will take to accomplish something rational people see as completely straightforward.

    At this point I’m classifying Thomson as Unreliable and Sympathetic to the Anti-vaccine delusion.
    Given his press release wherein he makes thinly veiled accusations of scientific incompetence (minimally) or outright fraud (maximally) against his coauthors when he stated, “I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article …”, and “I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”.
    He then shuts down public discussion/rebuttal of those accusations by his coauthors by stating, “I will not be answering further questions at this time.” and lawyering up.
    That, to me, is about as mature as some playground wussy pointing a finger at his teammates and shouting, “They’re the ones who broke your window Mr. Wilson.”, then taking his ball and running home.
    Add to that his admission of communicating with Hooker the past year and, to me, it becomes clear you’re not dealing with a very rational or savvy person.

    As someone in an earlier Orac article comments noted, Thompson is really a psychologist, not a statistician. He should be versed in statistics, but maybe that wasn’t his strong suit. It is quite possible he is just too ignorant of statististics (cf. Hooker) to understand that he is wrong and really doesn’t know what he is talking about.

    In my opinion:
    He is another Dunning-Kruger professional who thinks he’s more competent and knowledgeable than he is, and is now ignorantly spouting his idiocy to the detriment of all.
    He really believes he is smarter and than his collective coauthors when the opposite is true.
    I also get the creepy feeling from his writing of a smarmy – “I’m more moral than my coworkers and the organisation.” attitude.
    This guy is a disaster. Just plain bad. He’s dangerous because he’s dumb and in a position of responsibility.
    He’s presently gone into seclusion, but if any of these later revelations are even slightly true, he may come back out feeling the zeal of a delusional evangelist who has the dubious protection of “whistleblower” lawyers to keep the heat from getting too intense lest he cry “professional oppression!”.

  92. #93 Krebiozen
    September 4, 2014

    joseph,

    Bit strange that quite a highly educated Brit would prefer “honorable” over “honourable”.

    I’m a moderately educated Brit, and I try to use US English when communicating with Americans.

    As for why someone would photograph a computer screen with a screenshot, perhaps it’s someone who doesn’t know how to use image editing software (plenty of people don’t) and who wants to omit part of the screenshot, a phone number for example. Is that possible?

  93. #94 Narad
    September 4, 2014

    Any bets on when the first version (photo-3-576×1024.png) get’s pulled from her wordpress media library (and, hence, the link stops working)?

    I suppose one could easily enough wget the whole thing, but I have things to do.

  94. #95 Reader
    September 4, 2014

    RE: cursor (no longer present on updated post)

    Confused… says:
    September 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm
    Why not post the actual screenshot? Why a picture of your computer screen?

    REPLY
    Celia Farber says:
    September 2, 2014 at 6:42 pm
    Done!

  95. #96 Krebiozen
    September 4, 2014

    I suspect this image may be the original one used to fake this exchange. I could be wrong but the sizes of the dialog balloons is remarkably similar.

  96. #97 Krebiozen
    September 4, 2014

    Also, look at the different blue colors in the different balloons, with the bottom one being a brighter blue. Unless this is a feature of i-phones I think I’ve nailed this one.

  97. #98 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    “Except that what was accomplished was taking something with no metadata (it doesn’t look like iPhones embed an XMP block into screen-shot PNGs) and coverting it into something that does.”

    I did say I don’t think they know what they are doing, or I should have if I didn’t.

    While there are metadata in that iPhone picture of a screen, it isn’t the original metadata.

    I suspect the people involved didn’t know how to see or edit metadata but realized it was there. Hence this odd way of scrubbing the original metadata.

    Or, they are just doing very strange things and making things more complicated than they need to be. She’s running a blog. She knows how to upload pictures. Why not upload the original instead of the iphone-takes-picture-of-computer picture?

    Sadmar

    “The 576×1024 .png is just a 90% reduction of the 640×1136 original. This may have been done automatically by the web-authoring software…”

    wordpress doesn’t do that. At least modern wordpress doesn’t.

  98. #99 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    @Kreb – holy-crap…..

  99. #100 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    Very, very similar – though there are differences….though the differences could be explained by using a template & making changes via a program.

  100. #101 sadmar
    September 4, 2014

    I. Rony
    No that’s not it. The raw screenshot contains no metadata. There’s nothing to scrub. The photo of the TV DOES contain metadata. Whoever took the photo had to have the screen-cap to take the photo, and it would have been far easier to just include the screen-cap on the page (even if it was a reduced version, it would still look better than the re-photographed screen). A Google link lists Farber’s street address as 216 W 102nd, so we can guess she took the photo in her home. I would guess she used an old CRT big-screen TV already connected to a computer for the purpose of playing video games. (Farber has a son who would be 19-20 now, but a gaming set-up could have been created for him when he was younger.)

    However, it’s extremely unlikely any kind of media professional would be using a CRT for a standard computer monitor. So, other than relative size (an iPhone camera has a wide angle lens, so it’s not going to fill the frame with small things), why use the CRT instead of the LCD she’s almost sure to have?

    All I can think of is that a TV image looks like a TV image. A computer graphic embedded in a website is temporally static, permanent, timeless. A photograph testifies to the moment it was snapped, and we still read TV images as ‘being broadcast right now.’ So re-photographing the screen-cap makes it look more mediated, like appearing ‘in the media’, more like ‘breaking news!’ a scoop! ???

  101. #102 Krebiozen
    September 4, 2014

    I think someone used a stock image of an I-Phone screen to create the Wakefield texts image. The image I have taken from Twitter is, I think, an April Fool joke that also fakes an I-Phone screen-shot. The dialog balloons have been altered a little but the smoking gun is the brighter blue color on the bottom blue balloon, unless I-Phones do that for some reason.

    Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

  102. #103 Chris Hickie
    September 4, 2014

    Recently there was some conspiracy theorist who took pictures of some web pages his computer screen claiming this “proved” these were real screen captures and not photshopped because no one could ever emulated that really crappy pattern you get when someone takes a lousy picture of a CRT. All I could think was “why not get out your watercolors and paint us a picture of your computer screen?”

    I’m wondering if someone thought the same here when they took pictures of a computer screen showing the purported “conversation”.

  103. #104 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    Kreb – those images are SMALL! Any chance you can make them bigger?

  104. #105 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    “he raw screenshot contains no metadata. There’s nothing to scrub”

    I know that. And you know that. I suspect that until she read this discussion Farber didn’t know that. She knew it existed, she didn’t know how to see or edit it. So she tried to find a way to put up a picture without the original metadata. That’s the point I’m trying to make.

    It’s speculation, but it explains the very strange behavior of taking a picture of a screen.

    By the way, you are posting too much information about her. We don’t need to know that for this discussion. No reason to post such details.

  105. #106 Krebiozen
    September 4, 2014

    Sorry, posted a thumbnail by mistake. Try here: http://twitpic.com/eba1ut

  106. #107 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    Those aren’t that close, to my eye. And why photoshop when one can fake a message so easily on the web or by playing with an iphone.

    I haven’t found a site that can recreate the screenshot. The charging symbol, the bluetooth symbol.

    If this is a fake it was likely done by someone on an iPhone.

    Could be these messages are real. Could be that Thompson has really gone over. If so, I’d ask that he decline any further work in autism even though he’s volunteered. People working on this shouldn’t be doing so in order to repair anyone’s reputation (as the text message to Carmel Wakefield supposedly states).

  107. #108 sadmar
    Buzzkill
    September 4, 2014

    “I think I’ve nailed this one.”

    Sorry, Kreb. The images are way too different. The ballons are different sizes and cropped different by the header. The background behind the ‘enter-message’ field is different, and yes in all iPhones using the new version of the Message app, the blue balloons get progressively lighter as they scroll up the screen.

    I did learn, though that the balloons are only blue if the Text was sent from another iPhone using the Apple Message app.

  108. #109 Brian Deer
    September 4, 2014

    I have to confess that I think this is amongst the most barking discussions I’ve seen over vaccines in pretty much any forum.

    Take a step back. Andrew Wakefield has only ever admitted that he is indeed the person in a videotape in which he, Andrew Wakefield, talks about buying blood from children at a birthday party.

    All of the rest, he says, is a malicious fabrication, concocted for drug companies. As I wrote a few years ago: “He says he never claimed that the children had regressive autism, nor that he said they were previously normal. He never misreported or changed any findings in the study, and never patented a measles vaccine. None of the children were Barr’s clients before referral to the hospital, and he never received huge payments from the lawyer. There were no conflicts of interest. He is the victim of a conspiracy. He never linked autism with MMR.”

    And you think, after all that, he would step into the noose by endorsing a fake text exchange on a mobile phone? It would be bound to come out, and about 200 journalists would be upon it in about 25 minutes.

    Having no dog in the causality race, I think betting is still open on the Brian Hooker story. Just because he’s an obsessive and makes mistakes, it doesn’t mean that in ten years harassing CDC he hasn’t turned something up, even if it’s not quite all he thinks.

    In fact, given the scale of a government bureacracy like that, it would be more surprising if he didn’t.

  109. #110 Narad
    September 4, 2014

    Those aren’t that close, to my eye.

    The curvature of the top balloon is off, and the sentence fragment reinforces this. That would be a lot of Photoshopping detail.

  110. #111 Narad
    September 4, 2014

    And you think, after all that, he would step into the noose by endorsing a fake text exchange on a mobile phone?

    Has he endorsed it? AoA claims to have “verified its authenticity” or something, but it’s indisputable that Wakefield’s comments to Jake are at odds with Thompson’s statement to the world.

  111. #112 Brian Deer
    September 4, 2014

    Yes, Wakefield endorses its veracity.

  112. #113 KayMarie
    September 4, 2014

    Could be my eyes are going, but when I pull up some recent exchanges on the iPhone 5c the bottom balloon is bluer and gets less blue as I scroll it up, so it could be a feature, or a bug.

  113. #114 sadmar
    Woof!
    September 4, 2014

    KayMarie:

    Your eyes are fine. It’s a feature.

  114. #115 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    Brian Deer,

    There’s a reasonable chance this text exchange is real. There’s also a chance it is fake.

    Andy Wakefield isn’t some James Bond like supervillian who never makes mistakes. He made a pretty good one with Matt Lauer. I’m sure you know the show. He said flat out that his patent had nothing to do with a vaccine. Sure he said this in the face of plain English on the patent saying that’s what they intended to do.

    And then the GMC hearing was held and it came out that he was planning on developing the vaccine aspect.

    Let’s look to recent history. Wakefield goes on Jake Crosby’s blog and berates Jake for pointing out that Thompson didn’t want to be named. Jake Crosby. Whose hard drive is filled with emails from everyone and Jake isn’t ashamed to post them. A few days later Jake is actually proved right.

    Wakefield has learned that within a certain community he has teflon armor. He could deny that he lives in Austin and no doubt some people would soon be asking how the government created phone records were manipulated to make it look like he’s been there a decade.

    Yeah, this “crowdsourcing the search for fraud” may be fruitless. But don’t tell me that Andrew Wakefield is good at anything other than lying after being caught.

  115. #116 Broken Link
    September 4, 2014

    Besides the possibilities you mention, there are two other ones. Wakefield could be the victim of a hoax, by either (a) an anti-vaxer trying to make him feel happy and vindicated or (b) a non-scrupulous pro-science person trying to get him to publicize a fake exchange which would then be revealed in to make Wakefield look bad.

  116. #117 Scott Bunkelmann
    United States
    September 4, 2014

    KayMarie,

    My iPhone5c does the same; the balloon is darker on the bottom than on the the top.

  117. #118 Narad
    September 4, 2014

    Yes, Wakefield endorses its veracity.

    I missed this. Does someone have a pointer?

    (Note that I’m standing by the Helter Skelter proposal.)

  118. #120 I. Rony Meter
    September 4, 2014

    “Has he endorsed it?”

    He tweeted it and I think put it on his facebook page.

    Brian,

    one more thing–Wakefield and Segal and others are pretty clear that they think very little of Thompson now. They’ve set him up to become one of their enemies. Even if Thompson came forward and said these were faked, Wakefield would just say, “See, he’s gone back to the payroll of Big CDC”.

    Segal’s recent statement includes ” Above all, we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that William Thompson was aware that young children’s lives were needlessly being destroyed”

    and Wakefield on Jake’s blog “Although it is a moot point, I remain perplexed as to quite why a man who participated in a prolonged scientific fraud – one that likely resulted in harm to many children – should merit anonymity on his terms. ”

    1) Which is it? Are Wakefield and Thompson in some sort of mutual admiration society or is Wakefield contemptuous of Thompson?

    2) If Thompson says that Wakefield lied about the text messages, he’s already set up to be discredited to Wakefield’s audience. (which I know I covered above)

  119. #121 gaist
    September 4, 2014

    sadmar:

    CRT screens offer better and more consistent color than LCD or LED-screens, and are sometimes used by graphic designers and such for design – but if that was the case here it would seem doubly odd that they posted a pic of the screen instead of the original screencap instead.

  120. #122 Denice Walter
    September 4, 2014

    I go away for several hours and what do I find? Oh my.

    I’ll jettison my arts/advertising background for the moment and not make a call about the matchy-matchy issue as I have a headache and looking doesn’t help it.

    I put my faith in most humans’ ( except the highest functioning ones and I’m even not so sure about them)
    well-known tendency to behave very similarly over time:
    so I ask-
    who is Andy and what does he do? Why is he famous?
    who is Celia and what does she do? Why is she famous?

    I wouldn’t trust either of them as far as I could throw them.

  121. #123 Krebiozen
    September 4, 2014

    Since the brighter blue is a feature of the i-Phone, it seems my solution to the conundrum is wrong.

    This may be of no importance, but it’s a bless relief from all that MMR and thimerosal stuff.

  122. #124 Narad
    September 4, 2014

    @Annie: Thanks. It’s certainly an odd way of going about things and seems to fall a bit short of explicitly stating that it’s genuine.

  123. #125 Krebiozen
    September 4, 2014

    Hmm. That’s not a verified Twitter account, and Twitter often gets hacked, so I’m not entirely convinced.

  124. #126 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 4, 2014

    It looks legit to me, Krebiozen

    https://mobile.twitter.com/DrWakefield

    If it’s fake, someone has been faking a long time.

    I still gotta wonder, why did “Doctor” Wakefield release this thru some backwater, mostly not anti-vax blog, and not something with a little more impact, like AoA?

  125. #127 Christopher Hickie
    September 4, 2014

    So the lying liar who lies “verified its veracity”.

    Yeah, I’m sold.

  126. #128 Neil J
    September 4, 2014

    iPhone 5, OS7.1.1

    I only get “Back” as an option when I don’t have the person in my contacts list AND it’s not an iMessage (which this clearly is).

  127. #129 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    That is indeed Andrew Wakefield’s Twitter account. It went dead over a year ago, when apparently Andy got tired of Twitter, and was resurrected right about the time when Andy’s first video with Brian Hooker was released.

    As a side note, Wakefield has blocked the Twitter account of my not-so-super-secret alter ego under his real name.

  128. #130 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    And you think, after all that, he would step into the noose by endorsing a fake text exchange on a mobile phone? It would be bound to come out, and about 200 journalists would be upon it in about 25 minutes.

    Except that no journalist, as far as I’ve been able to tell, has actually bothered to look into the authenticity of these texts. Have you? Have any of your journalist friends? I haven’t even seen any bloggers looking into it except me, and now the commenters here who have gone one step beyond me, correcting my errors and finding things I missed. As some have said, I have just enough knowledge of how iPhones work and image file formats to be dangerous, but I’m not an expert. My noting of anomalies, however, did lead others more knowledgeable and skilled than I to think there might just be a rat here.

    Mr. Deer, I think you overestimate Wakefield’s importance, at least here in the States, where Wakefield is now such a fringe figure that the only journalists who care about him any more are antivaccine loons like Sharyl Attkisson. Such “journalists” are hardly likely to find anything that would call the text exchange into doubt. That’s why only a lone pseudonymous blogger has even taken the time to look into this.

    Tell you what, though. As I mentioned in the post itself, William Thompson’s lawyer ignored my request to tell me whether such an exchange ever took place and, if so, whether it’s being represented accurately. You’re a real journalist. I am not. I’m just a blogger who’s very good at commenting on medical pseudoscience and scientific papers. Perhaps if you contacted Thompson’s lawyer he would answer. It’s worth a try.

    All I really want to know is whether this exchange happened the way it’s being represented. For obvious reasons, I won’t take Celia Farber’s or Andrew Wakefield’s word for it, any more than either of them would take my word for anything. And it matters. If that text exchange really did happen more ore less as advertised, then it changes my view of William Thompson from dupe of Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield to a dupe with serious antivaccine tendencies. That would change everything about how I look at this in the future.

  129. #131 Krebiozen
    September 4, 2014

    Just for fun, to demonstrate it is quite easy to fake a text exchange like this (using GIMP), though it seems this one wasn’t: http://twitpic.com/eba5m2

  130. #132 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    You’re a bad, bad person. :-)

  131. #133 Narad
    September 4, 2014

    Perhaps if you contacted Thompson’s lawyer he would answer. It’s worth a try.

    I strongly suspect that Mr. Deer has moved on from matters Wakefraud, aside from the vexatious litigation.

  132. #134 jamie
    September 4, 2014

    You’ve got to be kidding me. The author of the study comes out and says “I covered it up” and all you people can do is say “you are anti-vaccine” Get this through your head, We are NOT anti-vaccine. We are anti-letting people who on record have shot up black folk with syphilis, (Tuskegee), Brought Nazi scientists to the states to run our Medical, scientific, and space programs (operation paper clip) put garbage in vaccines and shoot our children up with it. Vaccine technology may be wonderful, and it probably is, but NOT when they put garbage in it that brain damages your child and then knowingly cover it up. You keep your head in the sand at your own risk.

  133. #135 KayMarie
    September 4, 2014

    If I had more popcorn available I’d be tempted to lob @Krebiozen’s rock at one of the anti-vaxx hornet’s nests.

  134. #136 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    And enter Jamie to give us a nice example of how antivaccine loons claim to be “not antivaccine” while spewing the nastiest antivaccine tropes out there. Well done, Jamie!

  135. #137 Orac
    September 4, 2014

    I strongly suspect that Mr. Deer has moved on from matters Wakefraud, aside from the vexatious litigation.

    Quite possibly true, and fair enough. He’s done fantastic work there over many years. However, he clearly retains enough interest to show up from time to time in posts about the antivaccine movement and comment, in this case poo-pooing concerns about whether these texts were faked. So I thought it also fair to ask him if he’d help resolve this question, given the unconcealed contempt he’s heaped upon this discussion.

  136. #138 Lawrence
    September 4, 2014

    @Orac – congratulations, I think that may be anti-vax troll #99999…one more & you win a Kewpie Doll…

  137. #139 sadmar
    Barking at the Dawg House
    September 4, 2014

    Mr. Deer:

    I don’t text. But I email. Wakefield is 58. Guessing by the date of his PhD, Thompson is 50-ish. I am, um, skeptical, that two late middle-aged men would have a texting exchange that did not have a single typo.

    “I have to confess that I think this is amongst the most barking discussions I’ve seen over vaccines.”

    I am not talking about vaccines. I am investigating evidence in computer and photographic images, a matter in which I am well qualified. I have the benefit of knowing very little about the specifics of Andrew Wakefields modus operandi, only having the general knowledge that he is a fraud who is skilled enough to maintain a following. I look to the evidence for what it says. I know how photo and graphic material is created, and how it is prepared for presentation on the web. If you know those things, certain anomalies stick out. If you have ‘just enough knowledge to be dangerous’ things that ARE normal will appear to be anomalous (Kreb’s screenshot; Orac’s ‘Back’ vs ‘Message’, the cursor…)

    There are two anomalies here:
    1) The intentionally misleading way in which the screenshot is placed in an HTML table with additional text on Farber’s site.
    2) The fact there is no logical explanation for anyone to go through the many steps required to create the photo when they had the screenshot in hand, for the purpose of presenting the ‘information’ therein, .
    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” I don’t. It isn’t.

    The tech anomalies point to funny business, but don’t prove the text is a fraud, nor do they trace back behind Farber to Wakefield. As others have observed, there’s no smoking gun. If WT claims ‘I never texted that’ it’s just his word versus AW, and AW can claim to have been fooled. If WT proves the texts didn’t come from his phone, AW says WT used a burner, or that he was fooled.

    “It would be bound to come out, and about 200 journalists would be upon it in about 25 minutes.” I don’t know the U.K., but I could fill a book with exceptions to ‘the truth comes out. because journalism” in the US. Let me just make one specific note re: Wakefield. I’ve noted twice on this blog that upon analyzing the audio track of Wakefield’s ‘tic’ video, I found highly suggestive (though not conclusive) evidence WT sound bite’s had been edited deceptively. I have received zero responses or inquiries, including from you.

    Let’s add it up.
    1) Tech anomalies
    2) No typos
    3) Stilted language that appears carefully composed, rather than typed extemporaneously, and the similarity of ‘voice’ on both ‘sides’ of the ‘exchange’
    4) Texter ID’ed only as ‘William’
    5) The inclusion of ‘Andy’ in the central AW bubble, despite the fact WT would know who he’s texting to.
    6) The totally over-the-top self-serving nature of the whole thing: ‘the price you paid for my dishonesty’ — ‘I forgive completely an w/o bitterness’ (Dude, does that really pass your reporter’s sniff test?)
    7) Pattern of deception including the AMC videos
    8) The ‘verified the authenticity of this text’ from AoA is carefully weasel-worded to mean nothing. Authentic as what? That WT actually sent it, or that AW actually received it? And no note on how it was verified? ‘We were scammed by a Pharma Shill false-flag to discredit AW.” You’re a journalist, Brian. If you actually have a Thing do you phrase it like that?

    Furthermore, if you actually have a Thing of that import, do you send it to Celia Farber to distribute? Can’t you find someone more credible with a louder microphone for your legitimate bombshell?

    If AW is half-as-smart as you think he is, and he gets that text for real, do you really think he just goes ‘well, that’s that’ and sends a low-information screen-shot to Farber. Or do you think he immediately gets the oh-so-contrite WT to repeat the statement in some verifiable form, a cell-phone video-selfie maybe?

    OK, your argument is basically ‘AW’s not stupid enough to risk dirtying his nose.’ Well, even notwithstanding he’s got plenty of excuses to keep his snot wiped, if AW faking a text is implausible, Rick Morgan letting WT go anywhere near AW is bat-shit crazy. (Not to mention requiring WT to be an imbecile, even if his goal is actually to bring down CDC and vindicate Hooker.) If there was ANYTHING to this, do you really think Morgan wouldn’t be either out there spinning it, or announcing he’s dropping the case?

  138. #140 JTD
    September 4, 2014

    At least ORAC is doing a little investigating. All Celia Farber did was post some suspicious text spoon fed to her by Wakefield. With skills like that, it’s no wonder Farber has not had a career for two decades.

  139. #141 LW
    September 4, 2014

    Speaking of oddities:

    I apologize again for the price you paid for my dishonesty.

    Forgive me if I missed some discussion, but it appears that this has been assumed to refer to Wakefield’s being struck off — as if by reporting the raw numbers, Thompson could have prevented that.

    But Thompson’s statement was less “I was dishonest” and more “my colleagues were dishonest”. I would think, at least, that he would say “I apologize again for the price you paid for OUR dishonesty” or “my silence”.

    It just seems an odd thing to say. If he said it.

  140. #142 Narad
    September 4, 2014

    The third author of the study out of five comes out and says “I covered it up”

    FTFY. This was before division-of-labor statements were in vogue, but c’mon. You’ve just conceded that you can’t even understand the meaning encoded by an author list, much less the contents.

  141. #143 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 4, 2014

    And you think, after all that, he would step into the noose by endorsing a fake text exchange on a mobile phone?

    Of course.

    You might as well say “Do you think Bernie Madoff would really fund an extravagant lifestyle with a Ponzi scheme? By definition, a Ponzi scheme can’t go on forever, and he’d have to be caught eventually; ergo, he would never do something so foolish!”

    Frankly, I think it’s the suggestion that Wakefield’s history shows him as not likely to fake evidence and expect not to get caught, that’s “barking”.

    It would be bound to come out, and about 200 journalists would be upon it in about 25 minutes.

    How? How would it be “bound to come out”? As has been observed, the easiest way for it to be faked is to have someone other than Thompson send the messages, and if it was faked by that means, there is no way the fraud could be definitively exposed except by either Thompson disavowing that the messages came from him, or by the phone company going into the records and saying “No, those text messages did not come from that number.” The latter wouldn’t happen without a court order, and the only way I see that happening is if Thompson sues over it. Either way, Thompson would have to go on the offensive against Wakefield, and I just don’t see that happening in the near future.

  142. #144 kruuth
    September 4, 2014

    Wait, this is Celia Farber? Ok all credibility lost on this one.

  143. #145 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 4, 2014

    I’m not going to speculate on whether or not the texts are real or fake, though they do seem fake. Instead, I’ll answer a question Brian Deer asked, namely:

    And you think, after all that, he would step into the noose by endorsing a fake text exchange on a mobile phone?

    We know that Wakefield has faked things before (altered data in his 1998 study). We know that he is not afraid of starting frivolous law suits (e.g., his failed libel case in the U.K. and his current case in the U.S. that appears to have no merit). We also know that he rather likes attention and that he has a “legal aid fund”.

    With those givens, possible explanations for why he might fake or endorse someone else’s fake texts should become apparent. One such possibility is to whip his followers up into a frenzy in which they will be more likely to support and fight for him, perhaps even contributing to his “legal” expenses. He may feel that the short-term effects outweigh any possible long-term consequences, which are not necessarily guaranteed to even come to pass. There are ample reasons why he might “put his neck in the noose”.

  144. #146 Tim
    September 4, 2014

    Meanwhile, back at HG:

    (a.) estrogen kicks a drunken tosser of ethyl mercury out the door.
    (b.) testosterone invites it to sleep on the couch.

    (c.) 5x more prevelance of autism in boys than girls
    (d.) the girls that have *autism* had higher levels of testosterone in the amniocentesis fluid

    Boyd Haley, retired chemist University of Kentucky, Lexinton
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=oMXZEFX7jUM&feature=youtu.be
    ——————————————-

    Throughout history, when the slaves get uppity then an edict goes out to destroy all the first-born males —

    Think Exodus/Moses.

  145. #147 ChrisP
    September 4, 2014

    “Boyd Haley, retired chemist” OK Tim, tell us why we should take any notice of a youtube video by someone who knows nothing about the topic?

  146. #148 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 4, 2014

    Well, in my version of the Bible, The Lord killed the first born males on behalf of the slaves, to help force their freedom. What cult do you belong to that tells the story the other way around? Or are you drinking the bong water again?

  147. #149 Tim
    September 4, 2014

    Umm, Johnny? It’s why the little tike was stuck in a reed basket to float away and get picked up by Egyptian royalty in the first place.

    — just call the rest payback.

    next??

  148. #150 Tim
    September 4, 2014

    as for humourous v. humorous

    Autocorrect much??

  149. #151 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 4, 2014

    No. When Moses was born, and the prophecy that there was a Hebrew leader born, Pharaoh ordered all newborn males to be killed, no matter where they were in birth order.

    What else would you like to be wrong about?

  150. #152 Ren
    Deep in the underbelly of the Charmed City (maybe)
    September 4, 2014

    Dammit. Johnny beat me to it. Yeah, the slaves were the Israelites. They were slaves to the Egyptians. When Moses came back and said, “Let my people go (you damn, dirty apes [apocryphal])!”, Pharaoh said, “Nyet!”

    So God sent ten plagues, the last being the death of the first born of every house. Because the Israelites did the whole “blood-on-the-door” thing, God spared their firstborns. Ah, but not Pharaoh. Even after seeing nine plagues come and go, he thought Moses was bluffing.

    Tim might be thinking of a later book in the Bible, the Gospel according to Matthew. In it, the author describes how Herod ordered the execution of young Jewish males near Bethlehem because he was told by the Magi that the new King o’ The Jews had been born there… Hardly because the slaves got all “uppity.”

    But we can’t blame Tim, really. The AoA crowd, especially Kent Heckenlively is all about violent religious imagery when it comes to vaccines, because THAT will help autistic children:

    “What I can say is that on some level, my prayers to God for an understanding of the autism epidemic have been answered. I now know why they fear us so much. I can’t prove it, and as a lawyer I understand that’s the real show. But I know.

    And yet, as thankful as I am for an understanding of what has happened to my child and so many others, my heart is heavy. The Dark Forces which in the past have destroyed the careers of those who have found clues to the afflictions of our children and other disease communities are once again on the move. You may very well read about their actions this week. And I can’t do anything to stop them…

    But if you’re in good with the Lord, bitching with Him, or haven’t put in a call lately I think this might be the perfect time to send up a flare. You might even think about reciting psalm 94.

    God knows there are some wicked people out there trying to keep our children from getting better. If you’re listening God, and it meets with Your approval, this week would be an excellent time to deal with them.”

    And who can forget the re-creation of the Blood Libel dinner on a Thanksgiving a few years back?

  151. #153 Tim
    September 4, 2014

    Re: autocorrecting {yes, i’ve seen it being done on the new speech to text autocorrects… just not with the volcano}

    How Siri might interpret Eyjafjallajokull (icelandic volcano)
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=BRnnJ45sCIw

    The proper way
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=M00rXsOBGWM

  152. #154 Krebiozen
    September 4, 2014

    Brian Deer,

    Having no dog in the causality race, I think betting is still open on the Brian Hooker story. Just because he’s an obsessive and makes mistakes, it doesn’t mean that in ten years harassing CDC he hasn’t turned something up, even if it’s not quite all he thinks.
    In fact, given the scale of a government bureacracy like that, it would be more surprising if he didn’t.

    If he has turned something up he is keeping it to himself. I’m pretty sure* there is nothing to the either the black kids getting MMR story or the thimerosal tics association.

    If he had something of substance why would he publish a lousy study and collude in that awful video, instead of playing his card(s) straight away, or at least alluding to further dreadful revelations to come? Have there been hints of more to come that I have missed?

    It’s a curious business; the taped phone calls, emails and now these text messages. It feels a bit as if someone is rather ineptly beta testing some sort of media manipulation program. The text messages are just one more (purulent) drip in a pre-planned campaign, perhaps.

    * 90% plus, I would say, if I were being nuanced.

  153. #155 Denice Walter
    September 4, 2014

    Because I sometimes am too curious for my own good, I decided to take a peek at Farber’s website-

    first of all it’s called ‘truth barrier’- which may inadvertently be an appropriate name as most of her pet topics incorporate an intrinsic barrier to truth-
    hiv/ aids denialism, Clark Baker’s group, Andy’s private phone messages et al.
    An interesting crop of visitors show up there for that last post: Miller, Scudamore, a TM, a TM’s daughter, anti-vaxxers, hiv/aids denialists like Crowe and a lone but stalwart RI minion: he wot has braved Jake’s cesspit and asked the right questions. Heh.

    I notice that her next post implores visitors for cash so she pay her utility bills. As I understand it, she is the child of a wealthy NY radio host: isn’t it easier to beg relatives for living expenses? Although I certainly can sympathise with the high cost of living in international centres of finance and fashion, the fact that she needs to solicit funds should inform her that she perhaps is in the wrong line of work.

    Actually, I frequently counsel women who are attempting to change their careers, return to school or begin a new life- if I were a nice person I might offer her free advice. But I’m not a nice person, especially to disease promoters and woo enablers who masquerade as journalists.

    -btw- the fact that the media hasn’t covered the CDC whistleblower story encourages advocates of alt media which DARES to cover the truth or so they tell us-
    I’ve heard this all over the swampy, infectious sinkholes which I survey.

    I keep my finger on the pulse of woo ™ and am careful to thoroughly wash my hands afterwards.

  154. #156 Tim
    September 4, 2014

    ordered all newborn males to be killed

    Ok, Johnny. You caught me with a ‘nit’. I’ll not pick at it any farther.

  155. #157 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 4, 2014

    @Denice Walter

    I just had someone tonight on Twitter saying that NBC, CNN, CBS, and ABC not covering this dud of a story is censorship.

    And another person saying CDC was no better than Hitler.

    Ah, hyperbole.

  156. #158 Denice Walter
    September 4, 2014

    @ Krebiozen:

    Orac is correct: you are very bad.
    But your ‘texts’ may excellent uses if your friends can take a joke.

  157. #159 Denice Walter
    September 4, 2014

    may HAVE excellent

  158. #160 Sciencerules
    September 4, 2014

    I’m not in the medical field, but have enjoyed following this story for the absurdities many of you have pointed out. I found the site by accident when researching one of the early posts about the “Bombshell” revelation. I searched for hours that first weekend looking for something to either validate or discredit the story. I was astounded at the sheer number of conspiracy sites who were shouting that this was the biggest revelation ever…that the CDC had been doing fraudulent studies, and on an on. On Sunday of that weekend, I contacted a friend who teaches epidemiology an asked him what he knew about the claims. He did some searching and he, too was astounded by all the conspiracy sites. At that time the CDC had made no statement, the “whistleblower” was supposedly in hiding in fear for his life and the lives of his family. There was nothing in pub.med at the time.

    I’m wondering now when all these sites are going to turn on their “whistleblower.” If it really was the bombshell they all claimed, one would think they would have reacted much differently to a man who concealed information for 10 years or so that if revealed would have reduced the number of Autism cases in that time period. And, yet they’re all calling the whistleblower a hero. That seems illogical to me. If I were a parent of a child who got the vaccine in question, and then developed Autism, I would not be calling him a hero for providing info after my child was affected. That they haven’t yet turned on Thompson seems indicative of just how irrational these people may be.

    Yesterday, I saw a post about the HPV vaccine killing young women. Shades of Michelle Bachman!! And, today these same sites are posting another “bombshell” about Thompson admitting that Mercury causes Autism.

  159. #161 ChrisP
    September 4, 2014

    Sciencerules, you are just starting to work out how these conspiracy-laden sites work. It doesn’t matter if the various stories contradict each other, because: It is always about the vaccines. That is all that matters.

    One of the best examples is the continuing meme that Walker-Smith’s court case proved that Wakefield’s paper was correct. A look at the court transcript shows that Walker-Smith in fact pushed Wakefield under a bus, but he remains a bit-part hero in the minds of Wakefield’s supporters.

  160. #162 Tim
    September 4, 2014

    @Johnny Re: first born v newborn

    Yes. The newborns that hadn’t yet gone to slavitude class.

    {Damn nits — perhaps if there were some prescribed medication for puritis available??, no, wait….}

  161. #163 joseph
    September 4, 2014

    Krebiozen,
    Yes, it’s by no means inexplicable, or proof of anything. I just consider it is probably a detail that an American (creating a fake image) might not even consider.

    Personally i live in Hong Kong, I consider my archaic, and possibly irrelevant, “u”s and the use of “s” over “z” to be one of the last bastions of my Britishnessship (when I’m not shouting “God Save the Queen” at people in my bowler hat that is).

  162. #164 Militant Agnostic
    September 5, 2014

    joseph

    when I’m not shouting “God Save the Queen” at people in my bowler hat

    If you are shouting at the people living in your bowler hat, you may want to do something about that, or you end up like Tim @162.

  163. #165 Tim
    September 5, 2014

    @Narad

    RE: Tech anomalies

    Yes. The geometry of that CRT seemed abit wretched. Bad S-curve, …, trapezoidal. Perhaps it’s not done ‘warming up’? My guess — 21SD95 {Integraph}

  164. #166 Tim
    September 5, 2014

    opps, sorry Narad ^^ that one’s for Sadmar

  165. #167 paula
    September 5, 2014

    If this was fake and I was William Thompson, I would have my lawyer take care of it…he hasn’t.

  166. #168 Karen
    Australia
    September 5, 2014

    You know, these comments read like a bunch of people desperately hoping that the text messages are fake. It’s now been three days since this story was first published. Surely, if the texts were fake, Thompson’s lawyers would have fallen over themselves to publish a further statement dancing their client’s involvement. The author of this thread directly contacted the lawyer regarding these text messages and hasn’t had a response.

  167. #169 Rebecca Fisher
    September 5, 2014

    Do Thompson and Wakefield both speak (and text) like villains in a third-rate Victorian melodrama performed by fourteen year old school children? Really??

    And why send a screenshot of your text messages to an AIDS denying blog?

    No – this is all cock – and to cap it all, I believe I’ve tracked down a screenshot of the actual conversation between the two…

    pic.twitter.com/g8HktaPC3E

  168. #170 ChrisP
    September 5, 2014

    Becky, I don’t know about speak, but they certainly don’t text like teenagers. There are too many vowels for a start.

    To me their text efforts are more like the dialogue in The Beverly Hillbillies.

  169. #171 joseph
    September 5, 2014

    Militant Agnostic- It’s how they get in there that confuses me.

  170. #172 Narad
    September 5, 2014

    To me their text efforts are more like the dialogue in The Beverly Hillbillies.

    Speaking as someone who watched the whole thing through in half-hour segments when it aired locally at 4 a.m. and considers it to be a quintessential utopian play, I feel obliged to demand justification for this likening.

  171. #173 Narad
    September 5, 2014

    ^ Beats me. I didn’t even say anything about Cloris Leachman.

  172. #174 Krebiozen
    September 5, 2014

    joseph,

    Personally i live in Hong Kong, I consider my archaic, and possibly irrelevant, “u”s and the use of “s” over “z” to be one of the last bastions of my Britishnessship (when I’m not shouting “God Save the Queen” at people in my bowler hat that is).

    Heh, PGP will probably think you’re serious. I actually own a bowler hat, an old theatre prop that a friend gave me, but I have never worn it in public; I think my (American) wife would probably disown me if I did.

    I read a paper years ago about Greek-Cypriots living in the UK being more Cypriot in their behavior than those living in Cyrpus. The idea is that people hold onto their cultural values more strongly when surrounded by people with different ones. I suspect Wakefield plays on his posh Englishness as part of his appeal – I have been surprised by how some people in the US (mostly ladies of a certain age) react to my English accent (less posh than Andy and I’ve picked up a bit of estuary along the way) – so it wouldn’t surprise me if he had turned off autocorrect on his phone to maintain his image when texting.

  173. #175 Krebiozen
    September 5, 2014

    Rebecca Fisher – that’s a broken link and I can’t figure out how to fix it – I’m hoping for humor, Or do I mean humour?

  174. #176 JCL
    September 5, 2014

    Well fun as it is I do think some of the logic being used here is a bit dodgy. For instance, some people seem to be taking some suspicious things about this (purported) text exchange as evidence of one kind of fake – then other ‘evidence’ for another kind then adding them up – even if they are mutually contradictory. Some of the things about the construction of the image (mouse cursors etc) seem to play both ways – if its genuine why would someone make such a questionable image as ‘proof’, if its fake why produce such a questionable image and expect it to be accepted. Maybe some of this is simply evidence that whatever is going on someone made a bad job of it. Trying to analyse the spelling is even more of a dead end. I’m British and I always use american ‘z’ spelings and I know a lot of people who do. In fact I worked for a company for a long time where all documentation for external purposes was done in a american spellings. Also my father in law always texts in immaculately spelled english. (Signing a message in the middle of a conversation, which also happens to be in the middle of the screen seems like the most strange thing to me – speaks of premeditated orchestration not fakery though)

    What we are saying here is this is just an image. Its of no value as evidence of anything and there are some reasonable questions on its provenance. Given the priors for Wakefield I think it is more than reasonable to suggest orchestration and presentation (his actual MO more than outright fakery) but some of the ‘analysis’ is starting to stretch proper use of logic (imho).
    It’s enough to say the prior for anything from or connected to Wakefield is a position of distrust and so we simply disregard this distraction as being anymore than that. Trying to take it beyond that is pushing credibility -doesn’t mean its not true though!

  175. #177 Nyet
    New York,NY
    September 5, 2014

    Good morning, long time reader here finally commenting!

    Re: Messages/Back topic. This looks like it could be a screen shot of an iPhone email which features in it’s body a screen shot taken of an iPhone text message exchange.

  176. #178 Krebiozen
    September 5, 2014

    Bad man or nor, I can’t resist….
    http://twitpic.com/ebavbj

  177. #179 Krebiozen
    September 5, 2014

    Sorry, try this instead: http://twitpic.com/ebavs8

  178. #180 Narad
    September 5, 2014

    I think my (American) wife would probably disown me if I did.

    How about a tall derby?

  179. #181 ChrisP
    September 5, 2014

    Bad man or nor, I can’t resist….

    Kreb, you are not quite as bad as Becky.

  180. #182 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    September 5, 2014

    @Krebiozen – hmm – it’s OK for me is I cut and paste it. Sorry if it’s not working. :-(

    Anyway, ChrisP has kindly relinked it up there ^^^ (Thanks Mr P!)

  181. #183 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    September 5, 2014

    @Kreb – Just realised you’re not too far away from me. I’ve probably walked past you in the Eddie!

  182. #184 Krebiozen
    September 5, 2014

    How about a tall derby?

    Now I would wear that, but the wife doesn’t like any of my hats – I have a top hat, a brown trilby, a black trilby and a straw hat that has seen better days. Sadly my head seems to have grown over the years and none of them really fit any more. She did buy me a baseball cap, but I can’t bring myself to wear it in public. So much for acculturation.

  183. #185 Krebiozen
    Laandun
    September 5, 2014

    I’ve probably walked past you in the Eddie!

    Quite possibly, though I rarely frequent pubs these days. I just realized I had my first pint in the Eddie almost 30 years ago (yike!), though I didn’t move here until more recently.

    That link isn’t a link in my Firefox. Odd. I admire you, er, robust language, by the way.

  184. #186 J Todd DeShong
    hivinnocencegrouptruth.com
    September 5, 2014

    Something else quite telling about the thread at Farber’s site is the small number of comments. There are none of ORAC’s readers taking her to task. Could Farber be censoring the comments the way she censors the truth?

  185. #187 Denice Walter
    September 5, 2014

    It should be noted:
    – one of Orac’s minions, Larry/ Lawrence, did get through Celia’s reality barricade. He manages to defy the censors @ AoA, TMR and Autism Investigated regularly as do several others present here ( Narad, Becky, PGP, Alain etc). Lawrence and Becky probably are allowed because anti-vaxxers think that they are each individually Brian Deer.
    – J Todd is the original, one and only Pharma Slut ™- he even has a costume.

  186. #188 Denice Walter
    September 5, 2014

    @ Krebiozen:

    On hats:
    my late mother worked in the fashion trade and once gave me sound advice that people who have oval-shaped faces can wear any type of hat and not look ridiculous.Thus I have worn all sorts of hats over the years altho’ I have recently settled upon a tweed cloche when it’s cold and a beige cotton bucket-ish thing ( that I can shape to resemble Bergman’s hat in Casablanca) when it’s rainy or sunny.

    Hat choice revolves on the width of your jaw in proportion to the width of your face near your eyes. You have to try them on. Witness Jude Law in a Bowler. Pretty good. Fedoras work on a more diverse set of men but Australian hats are difficult to wear well ( unless if you are living there then It’s alright I suppose – function over form).Taxi driver caps are not easy to style and Baseball caps are impossible ( except if you’re a female model with long hair preferably black). .

  187. #189 Orac
    September 5, 2014

    Here’s the most hilarious thing I’ve read in a very, very long time:

    The Insanely Good Soul of Dr. Andrew Wakefield

    Oh. My. God.

    Seriously?

    Kent Heckenlively is truly deluded.

  188. #190 BT Nguyen
    Texas
    September 5, 2014

    The first picture was of a picture taken at
    latitude 40; 47; 53.02 longitude 73; 58; 6.65
    Weston Observatory
    381 Concord Rd
    Weston, MA 02493 with an iphone 4s and the second picture is a screen shot of an iphone 5
    The meta data are in the original files.

  189. #191 sadmar
    I Got Your Dodgy Lodgie Right Here!
    September 5, 2014

    @Orac
    Well KH did use a form of ‘insane.’ (Freudian slip there?)

    @Kreb
    The change in carrier name is a good one, but I just love the gag with the battery indicator. Well done, sir!

    @karen
    Luckily for William Thompson, you are not his attorney.

    @JCL
    As I’m the only one who’s done any “adding up” AFAICT, would you care to unpack your sweeping assertion and explain how any of the things I noted are ‘mutually contradictory’ or ‘dodgy’? Or perhaps offer some clue as to your credentials for analyzing any of this material? (And BTW, ‘mutually contradictory’ is a usage error. Things may be ‘mutually exclusive’ or ‘contradictory’, but the latter term already implies comparison within a set, so adding ‘mutually’ creates a recursive non sequitur.)

  190. #192 ChrisP
    September 5, 2014

    Kent Heckenlively is truly deluded.

    Heckenlively has always been deluded. Why else would he think writing a book with Mikovits was a good idea?

    But for all time conspiracy theory nutbaggery I give you John D Stone.

  191. #193 Karen
    Australia
    September 5, 2014

    Sadmar, i am an attorney. And if I was acting for him, the only reason I would not have released a further statement denying involvement in these text messages, is because he was the author.

  192. #194 Krebiozen
    September 5, 2014

    sadmar,

    The change in carrier name is a good one, but I just love the gag with the battery indicator. Well done, sir!

    I’m glad someone noticed! There’s a slightly more obscure gag with the time (4:20 is code for smoking marijuana), mainly because I have wondered at times just what some of the players in this melodrama have been smoking.

  193. #195 Orac
    September 5, 2014

    Sadmar, i am an attorney. And if I was acting for him, the only reason I would not have released a further statement denying involvement in these text messages, is because he was the author.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if that were true. However, if that ultimately turns out to be the case (assuming that Thompson ever ‘fesses up, given that no one other than antivaccine loons trusts Wakefield, and even then not all of them), we can then marvel at how Farber and Wakefield screwed it up so bad that no one believed them. :-)

    Oh, and then write off Thompson as having drunk deeply of antivax Kool Aid.

  194. #196 Karen
    Australia
    September 5, 2014

    It wouldn’t surprise me if that were true. However, if that ultimately turns out to be the case (assuming that Thompson ever ‘fesses up, given that no one other than antivaccine loons trusts Wakefield, and even then not all of them), we can then marvel at how Farber and Wakefield screwed it up so bad that no one believed them.

    Oh, and then write off Thompson as having drunk deeply of antivax Kool Aid.

    And there we go. Hours and hours of overanalysis in an attempt to prove that the texts were fake (because Thompson couldn’t possibly be responsible because in his press release he was firmly on the side of the CDC) and when it seems clear that the texts were not fake, an immediate attack of “oh well, that’s because he’s a loony” . Imagine, just imagine for a second, , what if Thompson is not a loony and the CDC has been altering study outcomes to fit its “vaccines ar safe” stance? Why is that not a possibility that is even being contemplated?

  195. #197 Orac
    September 5, 2014

    Because there’s no evidence and even William Thompson doesn’t claim that the CDC has been “altering” study outcomes, that’s why.

  196. #198 Karen
    Australia
    September 5, 2014

    Oh sorry, I was labouring under the misapprehension that an admission IS evidence. But that’s only in every court in every democracy in the world. My mistake.

  197. #199 Orac
    September 6, 2014

    We’re talking science, here, not a court of law. That’s what matters.

  198. #200 Karen
    Australia
    September 6, 2014

    Riigghhtt. Science. Fact. Black and white. Not open to interpretation. Not at all dependant on the subjectivity of the reporters or what they think is relevant, or the changes in knowledge or understanding over time.

    Clearly all those scientists who for 75 years classified Pluto as a planet were drinking from the crazy conspiracy Kool Aid too.

  199. #201 Chris
    September 6, 2014

    “Science. Fact. Black and white. Not open to interpretation.”

    Bhah, ha, ha, ha. That is hilarious.

    Where did you get your science knowledge? Saturday morning cartoon shows?

  200. #202 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 6, 2014

    if you’re a lawyer, Ms. Karen, you’re the kind that give the profession their bad reputation.

    Thompson CANNOT make an “admission” that clinically significant findings were covered up. Why? Because he is not the arbiter of what is clinically significant and what is not.

    The most he can do is ALLEGE that the findings which could have been presented AS IF they were meaningful were, in his eyes, meaningful – and in fact, he HAS made exactly that allegation (which means that treating the supposed text messages from him as an “admission” to anything is a laughable blunder on your part – I’d say it makes me doubt your claim to be a lawyer, but since the antivax movement has plenty of incompetent lawyers, that doesn’t prove much.)

    Follow me for a little thought experiment, here. Let us suppose that Thompson was NOT part of the group that conducted the study in question – suppose it was another person entirely (let’s call him John Jones.) And let’s suppose that John Jones makes allegations similar to the allegations made by Thompson – that the finding of ONE statistically significant results in ONE very thinly sliced subgroup is NOT the sort of spurious looks-like-a-result-but-isn’t that you get very easily by slicing your data up too much, but instead a clinically significant finding.

    Do you think the judge would accept William Thompson as an expert witness to testify on that issue? Remember, in this gedanken he’s not part of the original group, so he cannot be called as a witness of fact. Would the judge really say “Oh, well, he’s a psychologist, so he must be an expert in interpreting epidemiological findings”? “He’s a psychologist, so he must understand all the difficult statistical issues involved”?

    I think the answer is a clear “no”. Thompson may sincerely believe that the anomalous finding which showed up ONLY in boys, and ONLY in African-American boys, and ONLY in boys in one very narrow age bracket, was signal and not statistical noise. But just because someone believes something doesn’t mean they’re right. I’d be surprised if you got all the way through law school without learning that.

  201. #203 Karen
    Australia
    September 6, 2014

    Ah, but what is “right” is nothing more than collective subjectivity. I did not say that Thompson’s admission, on its own, was conclusive evidence of a coverup, or falsified data, or anything in face. But his evidence IS evidence.

    But I see what you are doing.
    Step 1. The text messages are fake.
    Step 2. If they are not fake, Thompson is either mad or corrupted (either way he cannot be telling the truth)
    Step 3. Make a personal attack on anyone who does not conform to the common thought process in the blog.

  202. #204 lilady
    September 6, 2014

    I think it is fairly obvious that Karen has not been following the science bloggers and and the posters, who were able to review the original DeStefano, et al study (which is a case-control study) and Hooker’s “analysis” of the DeStefano et al study which is a cohort study.

    Mr. Hooker is not a medical researcher and he does not have a graduate degree in epidemiology…and he most definitely is not a medical statistician. He sliced, diced and minced the data from the DeStefano et al study and came up with a statistically insignificant number of black males who supposedly had a reaction to the MMR vaccine…which, according to Mr Hooker might have caused their ASD diagnoses.

    What a silly comparison you made about Pluto, to justify your allegations that something is amiss with the authors of the DeStefano, et al study.

    Karen…need I remind you that the design and implementation of various types of studies are universal and that the mathematics/statistics are universal throughout the sciences…even if you live in Australia?

    https://onlinecourses.science.psu.edu/stat507/book/export/html/2

  203. #205 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    The first picture was of a picture taken at
    latitude 40; 47; 53.02 longitude 73; 58; 6.65
    Weston Observatory

    I have 40.°798064, −73.°968514,* 67 m ASL, which is roughly the 10th floor of someplace in Manhattan.

    BTW, Farber failed to survive summary judgment in her defamation suit against Richard Jefferys and ain’t going nowhere with the other two. Perhaps it’s part of the affinity.

    * Yes, the Unicode geniuses forgot \fdg, \farcm, and \farcs.

  204. #206 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    Ah, but what is “right” is nothing more than collective subjectivity.

    I was just thinking that what was needed here was some Postmodernism. Oh, wait, no, I wasn’t.

  205. #207 Chemmomo
    Finding the irony
    September 6, 2014

    Karen

    But his [Thompon’s] evidence IS evidence.

    Sure, but where is it? All we’ve got coming from Thompson is the press release issued by Morgan Verkamp on August 27th. And that’s not much in the way of evidence.

    Most of the claims are coming from Hooker and – including the texts which are the topic of this blogpost – Wakefield.

    Do you consider Andrew J. Wakefield a credible source? If so, why?

  206. #208 ChrisP
    September 6, 2014

    Karen, perhaps it would help if you used a bit of logic in your argument.

    1. William Thompson made an allegation in his letter (it is just an allegation as he provided no evidence) that an analysis was left out of the paper.

    2. The allegation was quite specific: viz. data pertaining to a sub-group of African-American boys receiving their first MMR vaccination between 24 and 36 months of age.

    3. It is possible to go back to the original paper and determine this sub-group comprised a relatively small number of cases (somewhere around 14).

    4. The small numbers would be a clear reason for not including the analysis in the paper, because the probability of a Type I or Type II error would be large.

    5. The most likely explanation for what we are seeing is that Thompson has misunderstood how statistics works.

  207. #209 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    3. It is possible to go back to the original paper and determine this sub-group comprised a relatively small number of cases (somewhere around 14).

    How are you calculating this? I’ve got 45 cases and 124 controls in the signal bins for the total sample. Applying the blanket pigmentation modifier of 36%, that’s ~16 cases and ~45 controls.

  208. #210 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    ^ Which of course doesn’t even connect to the purportedly “covered up” signal, which was in 30% of the 3–10 age spread.

  209. #211 ChrisP
    September 6, 2014

    Applying the blanket pigmentation modifier of 36%, that’s ~16 cases and ~45 controls.

    Of which 79% were boys.

  210. #212 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    But his evidence IS evidence.

    Is hearsay admissible in this imaginary court?

  211. #213 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    Of which 79% were boys.

    Gotcha. Thanks.

  212. #214 Karen
    Australia
    September 6, 2014

    I was going to bow out after the personal attacks began, but a few interesting questions have been raised, so I’m happy to continue on.

    I have no opinion about Wakefield. I know he has been almost universally discredited, but I have no personal opinion on his credibility. I have not red the Lancet journal, nor anything about him on the Internet. I am interested in the vaccination debate, but Wakefield has not been a factor. I have no opinion on whether MMR causes autism. I KNOW that the empirical evidence is that there is no link, but I am also aware that there are a lot of differing agendas out there. I have no opinion on any link.

    What I have found interesting about Thompson is that, if what he said in the secret recordings is true, then that calls into question the independence of the CDC. I have no opinion on whether what he said is true or correct or not. I thought his press release was the best that could have been made of a bad situation. He had been caught out in secretly recorded conversations saying some things that the CDC would not have been happy with, so he could not deny that, and yet in that statement he clearly aligned himself with the CDC and also promoted vaccines. (As an aside, he is not a whistleblower, he was “outed” which means he had no option but to make a statement, almost certainly at the direction of the CDC).

    Yet it only became really interesting when the text messages came out. Those texts are clearly inconsistent with the press release. His statement did not mention anything about falsifying information nor did he draw a link between vaccines and autism. And yet in the texts he says “the price you paid for my dishonesty” , suggesting that he believes his actions covered up a link between MMR and autism.

    I initially thought the texts were fake because they just don’t make any sense. Why would you be communicating something so damning to a man who has just shafted you by making public, private conversations. And why would you accept responsibility for your “disloyalty” being responsible for ruining the credibility of an internationally discredited man? Especially when your employers have extricated you from a professionally embarrassing situation by funding a press release that saves your face??

    But now, 4 days after the press release, there has been no further statement. Orac says he called the lawyer to specifically verify the texts, without response. As I have previously said, this can only be because Thompson can’t deny the texts (that is, that e sent them, not the truthfulness of the texts).

    I can guarantee that this is what is going on at Morgan Verkamp. They are screaming at Thompson for not following their advice. The texts are irreconcilable with the press release, which means that either his press release was manufactured. There has been no denying of the texts, which would have been done immediately had they been faked. I’m betting that Morgan Verkamp have terminated acting for him due to a conflict.

    My point on this blog is that it did not start off with “Thompson is a crackpot”. It started off with “the texts must be fake because Thompson is a good guy and works for the CDC” and only when it became obvious that the texts were not faked (although almost certainly edited), that the argument has now become one of Thompson being crazy.

    I was just asking, what if he isn’t? What if the CDC is manipulating data? So far on this blog there are two theories, that Thompson has been set up and that he is crazy. There is a third option, that he is telling the truth. And when I asked the question, what if, there was a barrage of childish insults thrown my way.

    Just to clarify, I don’t believe that accuses cause autism, I don’t believe there is a big government conspiracy to poison our children and I don’t believe that what Thompson did, if it is true, suppressed evidence of a link between MMR and autism. I just don’t know. But I find it fascinating that the messenger is always shot down, rather than stopping to consider whether they could possibly be telling the truth.

  213. #215 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    I know he has been almost universally discredited, but I have no personal opinion on his credibility. I have not red the Lancet journal, nor anything about him on the Internet.

    One doesn’t see that sort of carefully crafted invitation to cross-examination every day.

    What I have found interesting about Thompson is that, if what he said in the secret recordings is true, then that calls into question the independence of the CDC.

    How? Independence from what?

  214. #216 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    (As an aside, he is not a whistleblower, he was “outed” which means he had no option but to make a statement, almost certainly at the direction of the CDC).

    “Whistleblower” is an operationally, statutorily defined term of art here.

  215. #217 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    I’m betting that Morgan Verkamp have terminated acting for him due to a conflict.

    What would you like to make the stakes?

  216. #218 lilady
    September 6, 2014

    Karen, I suggest you reread your own prior comments, to find why other posters here jumped on those comments. Your comments were quite provocative and indicated to us that you have not, read Orac’s multiple posts and the links he provided to other science bloggers.

    You have to remember that Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield have, from the onset, been controlling the flow of information about Mr. Thompson’s personal involvement with Mr. Hooker (and possible personal involvement with Andrew Wakefield).

    The first videotape released by Wakefield’s media company, had Thompson’s voice disguised; Hooker and Wakefield hung that “whistleblowe” label on Thompson.

    The next move was orchestrated by Wakefield and Hooker where they named the “whistleblower”.

    Within a short period of time, Mr. Thompson’s statement came from his attorney which stated that:

    – He did not know, nor did he give consent, for Hooker to record the telephone conversations.

    – He did not give consent for Hooker and Wakefield to identify him; they “outed” their informant.

    Within a few days, a new character, Celia Farber provides screen shots of what are purported to be text messages between Wakefield and Thompson, where Thompson apologizes to Wakefield for lying about his being recorded by Hooker and being “outed” by Hooker and Wakefield.

    – Who provided (Thompson, Wakefield, Hooker or someone else) those screen shots to Celia Farber?

    – Are those screen shots real…or were they in some way doctored and calculated to deceive?

    Just before Farber publishes those text screenshots, Hooker states publicly (admits) that he recorded private telephone conversations without Mr. Thompson’s consent.

    You claim to know nothing about Wakefield’s history, Hooker’s history and the DeStefano et al study and Hooker’s study…yet there you go running off at the mouth with your opinion that there is a distinct possibility that DeStefano and the other researchers at the CDC, deliberately skewing the results. I hope you realize how ridiculous your prior posts are.

  217. #219 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    Hooker states publicly (admits) that he recorded private telephone conversations without Mr. Thompson’s consent.

    I seem to have missed out on this one.

  218. #220 Chemmomo
    Land without preview and way past my bedtime
    September 6, 2014

    Karen, I do agree with some of your points (particularly about what might be going on with Thompson and his lawyers). However, in light of your concluding statement:

    But I find it fascinating that the messenger is always shot down, rather than stopping to consider whether they could possibly be telling the truth.

    I have to ask you a question: whom do you think is the messenger?

    I’m guessing from all of your posts, you think the messenger is William Thompson. Yet, all the public information (with the exception of the Aug 27 press release) on this issue has come from persons other than William Thompson.

    I see the messenger as Andrew J. Wakefield.

    You claim

    I have no opinion about Wakefield. . . I have not red the Lancet journal, nor anything about him on the Internet.

    Perhaps you should. You continue:

    I am interested in the vaccination debate, but Wakefield has not been a factor.

    Really? Not a factor? Try starting your reading here: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jan/28/mmr-doctor-timeline
    Pay extra attention to the vaccine uptake numbers reported, and when measles returned to the UK. Now in 2014 the US may be following suit.
    For further reading, full transcripts of Wakefield’s GMC hearings can be found here:
    http://sheldon101blog.blogspot.com/
    Maybe you’ll see why what you seem to be considering “evidence” some of the rest of us are taking with more than one grain of salt.

  219. #221 ChrisP
    September 6, 2014

    Nice bit of tone trolling, Karen.

    I don’t have a specific position over the reality or unreality of the texts, and I certainly won’t base that on whether there has been a response to them or not.

    However, if they are real then both Wakefield and Thompson are living in fantasy land. Wakefield’s paper was withdrawn, not because it could not be verified with other research, but because he had an undeclared conflict of interest and he faked the data.

    Even if the Georgia study had a sub-group with a significant correlation, that would not mean that MMR caused autism. There is a huge amount of other data out there showing MMR doesn’t cause autism.

  220. #222 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    Pay extra attention to the vaccine uptake numbers reported, and when measles returned to the UK.

    In handy graphical format, compare this with the notifications by age here.

  221. #223 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    I was just asking, what if he isn’t? What if the CDC is manipulating data? So far on this blog there are two theories, that Thompson has been set up and that he is crazy. There is a third option, that he is telling the truth.

    No, you just didn’t bother to read the other entries.

  222. #224 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    September 6, 2014

    I see Dan Olmsted has picked up on this (Here: http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/09/age-of-autism-twilight-of-the-apologists.html) and has posted a screenshot of his own text conversation with Wakefield.

    It struck me that the language used by Wakefield in this exchange is completely different to the tone used in the supposed Thompson exchange – far more “texty”. Which makes me think that the Olmsted conversation is real, the Thompson one has been faked (not necessarily by Wakefield), but Wakefield is stringing everyone (including Olmsted) along claiming it’s real, knowing that Thompson’s legal advisers will be telling him to keep quiet and wait for the whole thing to blow over.

    Now, where’s my tinfoil hat? ;-)

  223. #225 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    September 6, 2014

    “Different from“, obviously. Not “to”.

  224. #226 Michael J. Dochniak
    The great state of Iowa
    September 6, 2014

    Lawrence,

    “CDC whistleblower” aside, here’s an example of a disconnect (i.e., misguided independence) when it comes to vaccine safety:

    The CDC (NIOSH) website “How to Prevent Latex Allergies” states – If you are diagnosed with latex allergy, before receiving any shots (such as a flu shot), be sure the person giving it uses a latex-free vial stopper.

    http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2012-119/pdfs/2012-119.pdf

    In an FDA website “There’s No Guarantee of Latex Free” it states – To avoid giving a false sense of security to people who are allergic to natural rubber latex, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending that manufacturers of FDA-regulated medical products stop using statements on labels such as ‘Latex-free’ or ‘does not contain latex’.

    http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm342641.htm

    So, the CDC says use a vaccine if it says “latex free” and the FDA recommends not labeling vaccines “Latex free”.

    In my opinion, in a world of information overload and government disconnect, with respect to vaccines, we need medical science to step it up .

  225. #227 Lawrence
    September 6, 2014

    Go home Mr. Dochinak – you’re old news & an old troll, we were done with you a year ago (or more).

  226. #228 Tim
    September 6, 2014

    @Michael J. Dochniak

    I’m allergic to latex. My earliest memories of balloons at parties was that I did not like them because my mouth and face would burn for hours. *latex allergy* was not asked about in hospitals until the late ~90’s early 2000’s or so, If I remember correctly, so that I and my mother would always have to inform them before hand. They would hang a big white caution sign on the door — But the room would still be full of latex.

    I’m *assuming* the latex is somewhat in solution in the vile and not just the top?

    Would that not be expected to increase inflammation beyond that expected?

    What would be the percentage of boys(and their testosterone tendency to invite ethylmercury to sleep on the couch) with latex allergies?

    And to think; I’d not have made that possible connection if Lawrence hadn’t pointed out you’re a troll. Good Lawrence! *grins*

  227. #229 Michael J. Dochniak
    Far from the CDC
    September 6, 2014

    @Orac

    I was recently in the emergency trauma-room after a friend fell off his scooter. The two Dr.s were wearing latex gloves while stitching him up even though the signage at the hospital clearly states “Latex-Free Zone”.

    Unfortunately, the medical community still can’t grasp the natural-latex glove problem (i.e., Iatrogenic allergies)

    Oh by-the-way Orac, natural latex is still a component in some vaccine packaging and delivery systems triggering allergy induced regressive-autism. We don’t need a whistleblower to substantiate the harm done from natural latex.

  228. #230 Lawrence
    September 6, 2014

    Jeez, we went through this before….your evidence amounts to absolutely zero….please, just go away!

  229. #231 Michael J. Dochniak
    Closer to the FDA
    September 6, 2014

    Lawrence,

    Here’s a refresher course on vaccines and natural latex. I won’t quiz you about it and there are nice pictures to keep you interested.

    https://www.facebook.com/autismfile/posts/10152370346072769

  230. #232 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 6, 2014

    Dochniak’s evidence-free posts are annoying, sure, but I’ll be happy as long as he doesn’t post his Vogon-like poetry.

    For the newbies, see
    http://youtu.be/H2WPJQPo0kI
    Skip to about 2:15

  231. #233 Lawrence
    September 6, 2014

    They are – the man has serious mental issues, as evidenced by his completely one-track mind & ascribing all the ills of the world to the use of latex…..

  232. #234 Krebiozen
    September 6, 2014

    Perhaps Tim and Mr. Dochniak would like to argue over whether autism is due to ethylmercury or to latex allergy on Mr Dochniak’s Facebook page.

    The last lab I worked in didn’t have any latex gloves, just those purple nitrile ones.

    Tim might also be interested to see the paper that apparently convinced the Geiers that mercury binds testosterone here. If humans had benzene instead of blood and a normal temperature of 50C (122F), the Geiers might have been onto something regarding testosterone and mercury chloride (not ethylmercury). But they don’t and they weren’t.

  233. #235 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 6, 2014

    @Krebiozen

    I can’t recall the last time I saw latex gloves in a medical setting. It’s always nitrile. I wonder how Dochniak knew the gloves were latex and not nitrile.

  234. #236 Tim
    September 6, 2014

    Lordy, no Krebiozen! I don’t really ‘do’ papers…I’m a pothead.

    However, I’d like to point out that many reactions which are not expected to occure do, in fact, occure in the presence of some catalyst (whether it modifies expected temp, pressure, concentrations,…, time) or other and that living systems are very very good at contributing to the total entropy of the universe by maintaining against certain otherwise thermodynamically unfavorable situations.

    I’d certainly agree that the testosterone claim would need to be verified in vivo.

    As for benzene?? I’ve got too much blood in my benzene-stream, at the moment to even know what that is. But I *thought* it was used in organic chemistry to simplify modeling certain criteria inside cytoplasm.

  235. #237 Tim
    September 6, 2014

    We don’t need a whistleblower to substantiate the harm done from natural latex

    Certainly not. And, I *think* what finally brought it to light were hospital workers suddenly dropping dead from it which they had never noticed before due to asymptomatic sensitization. I *seem* to remember they first blamed it on the ‘donning agent’…

  236. #238 Michael J. Dochniak
    Under the EPA's skin
    September 6, 2014

    Respectful Insolence banter:

    …evidence-free posts are annoying… (#232);
    …completely one track mind…(#233);
    …didn’t have any…(#234);
    …it’s always…(#235); and
    …I’m a pothead (#236).

    If this is the typical respectful insolence on this Scienceblog it’s clear Prometheus is dearly missed.

  237. #239 Tim
    September 6, 2014

    Michael,

    I hope you are not somehow insinuating that I’m not a pothead just because if someone were to look right now there seems to be a lack of it just laying around or otherwise being employed in a manner consistent with its’ labeling.

  238. #240 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 6, 2014

    But now, 4 days after the press release, there has been no further statement. Orac says he called the lawyer to specifically verify the texts, without response. As I have previously said, this can only be because Thompson can’t deny the texts (that is, that e sent them, not the truthfulness of the texts).
    (emphasis added)

    Except you can’t say that. You can tell us and all the world “Well, this is what I would do if I was in that situation, and every way I look at it, I think it’s the only smart thing to do” but frankly, that doesn’t even prove that it is a smart thing to do, let alone the only smart thing to do, let alone a thing to do so smart that anyone who doesn’t do it doesn’t have the option available to them.

    You claim that we must be blinded because we’re not weighing the evidence correctly. I say that’s a beam that needs to come out of your own eye first. You say that you have not read “anything about [Wakefield] on the Internet” and therefore that prevents you from having any personal opinion about his credibility. Are you ignorant of one of the longest and most expensive proceedings in the history of the General Medical Council, which found Wakefield guilty of irresponsible and dishonest conduct and struck him off the medical register? Or do you have some private rationale why only opinions on the Internet are worthy of consideration – and then, only so marginal that if you don’t look at them then they aren’t relevant? (I can’t help noting that Wakefield called no witnesses in his defense during the GMC proceedings. By your own logic, that must prove that he was entirely dishonest and knew that no witness could possibly refute that, right?)

  239. #241 Gotta love science.
    September 6, 2014

    I don’t vaccinate. I’m against them…and even I can admit this txt is fake!
    I really don’t know why people think it’s real.

  240. #242 Tim
    September 6, 2014

    @Johnny,

    That poem was pretty, um, … it’s just in the presentation, I’m sure it’s quite good, really. Besides, she’s probably somebody’s mother — Throw her into the vacuume of space, anyways.

    It reminds me of the old Puff ‘n’ Stuff I’d watch at the doctor’s office while waiting for the brainswelling to go down every time I got an ‘allergy shot’.

  241. #243 Gotta love science.
    September 6, 2014

    And it’s weird he ends one of his txts with “Andy”. Wouldn’t Thompson know it’s Andy? Who ends txts with their name?

  242. #244 Gotta love science
    USA
    September 6, 2014

    And lastly. Who in their right mind apologizes in a txt?

  243. #245 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    “Different from“, obviously. Not “to”.

    Fowler goes so far as to call this not just a superstition, but also “mere pedantr[y]” based on the rationale advanced.

  244. #246 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 6, 2014

    If this is the typical respectful insolence on this Scienceblog it’s clear Prometheus is dearly missed.

    Too true.

    Again, for the newbies, Dochniak has been here in the past, spouting his assertions, but not the evidence. He said everything was in his book.

    Prometheus, the keeper of A Photon In The Darkness, finally had enough, and procured a copy of the silly thing, so that we don’t have to. Prometheus wrote a rather uncomplimentary review.

    Alas, A Photon In The Darkness is no more.

    However, we have the Wayback Machine.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20120104114416/http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=243

    Don’t forget to check out parts 2 and 3. The links on the left side of that page will take you there.

    I promise the review is better than the poetry.

  245. #247 Narad
    September 6, 2014

    Clearly all those scientists who for 75 years classified Pluto as a planet were drinking from the crazy conspiracy Kool Aid too.

    I’m having a hard time imagining what sort of relevant “changes in knowledge or understanding over time” you suppose are going to occur in the field of statistics, because the data set isn’t going to change. Hooker’s paper based on it is just plain shoddy.

    P.S. I’ve probably said this before, but as an undergrad, I worked in the same lab where one of the discoverers of Sedna was doing his Ph.D. Fantastic guy; I wish I had gotten that level of support from the one that was nominally supervising me.

  246. #248 Tim
    September 6, 2014

    I wish I had gotten that level of support from the one that was nominally supervising me.

    You need to stop letting others grade your fellatio writeups… first subpressions are often correct…

  247. #249 sadmar
    Building the list
    September 6, 2014

    @Gotta love science
    “And lastly. Who in their right mind apologizes in a txt?”

    Thanks! Good point.

    Of course, Orac suspects William Thompson may not be in his right mind.

    Which goes to show that no matter what’s actually going on with WT, it’s not going to be a PR coup for the anti-vaxers. They’ll have a spin that works for the faithful, regardless: Thompson as hero or traitor. But if WT stays with the Morgan Verkamp statement, there’s no there there, vaccines are safe, and everybody realizes this is a quibble about how research data a presented in professional minutiae that no one cares about outside the field. And if WT actually DID text that stuff to Wakefield and wife, he’s a loon who’ll lose the ‘scientific credibility’ that makes his supposed ‘whistleblowing’ noteworthy in the first place.

  248. #250 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    September 7, 2014

    @Narad:

    Our advice is to write different from and averse to.
    – H.W. Fowler (1858–1933). The King’s English, 2nd ed. 1908.

  249. #251 cia parker
    September 7, 2014

    Eric Lund,
    I disagree that it was naive and gullible for Thompson to have made his admissions and apologized to Wakefield, even against the advice of his lawyer. Many people have a conscience which eventually rebels in such circumstances from continuing to play the game: it is what makes us human, in the more elevated sense.

  250. #252 Lawrence
    September 7, 2014

    @Ms Parker – perhaps you could shed some light on exactly what Thompson was apologizing for? Because it wasn’t as if the CDC was involved in the Wakefield affair….the whole flow of the text messages is just plain odd & doesn’t even make sense in context.

    Perhaps you should call Wakefield (don’t you have his direct number?) and have him release all of the texts plus the audio recordings….wouldn’t that set the record straight & get the rest of us to shut up?

  251. #253 lilady
    September 7, 2014

    Thanks for that comment CIA Parker.

    Would you like to share with us your opinion of the DeStefano et al case control study-vs-Hooker’s cohort study, Professor Parker?

    Would you like to share with us the reasons why Hooker’s publisher removed Hooker’s study from their website (undeclared conflicts of interests on the part of Hooker and the peer reviewers), Professor Parker?

    Could you ask Dan Olmsted and the other editors at AoA…or Andrew Wakefield, why they have not analyzed the both studies, to justify their support of Brian Hooker, Professor Parker?

  252. #254 Denice Walter
    September 7, 2014

    I wonder if Ms Parker can explain why I keep reading and hearing about Hooker-Thompson-Wakefield on AoA, PRN, TMR, NN but haven’t yet seen anything on standard sources ( CNN, CBC, BBC, Al Jezeera etc) ?

  253. #255 Dorit Reiss
    September 7, 2014

    @Denice Walter:

    Well, there were the CNN and Times.com article that highlighted the problems with Hooker’s article and how unconvincing the whole thing is.

  254. #256 Dorit Reiss
    September 7, 2014

    Citing the esteemed Orac’s analysis, I should add.

  255. #257 Denice Walter
    September 7, 2014

    @ Dorit Reiss:

    You’re correct. Also there was Ms Cohen.

    I suppose it’s been such a long time since the mainstream noticed the gist and failed to register all the convolutions of the tale on which others have perseverated that I just forgot.

  256. #258 Narad
    September 7, 2014

    Our advice is to write different from and averse to.
    – H.W. Fowler (1858–1933). The King’s English, 2nd ed. 1908.

    “Before writing this dictionary, Henry Fowler and his younger brother, Francis George Fowler (1871–1918), wrote and revised The King’s English (1906), a grammar and usage guide later superseded by A Dictionary of Modern English Usage in the 1930s.”

    I cited the first edition, 4th U.S. printing (1950).

  257. #259 Narad
    September 7, 2014

    I disagree that it was naive and gullible for Thompson to have made his admissions and apologized to Wakefield

    You also “disagree” with overt demonstrations of the frank falsehood of your robotic assertions, Cynthia, so this doesn’t exactly carry much weight.

  258. #260 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    September 8, 2014

    @Narad

    The man clearly couldn’t make up his own bloody mind. I’ll stick with “from”. :-)

  259. #261 Gusto Buckshot
    Washington DC
    September 8, 2014

    Are you people serious? The authenticity of a screenshot? My children were vibrant before vaccination, now they’re light is dim. You guys know this stuff is poison and Thompson was the head of that panel that said it was safe. He’s come out admitting he lied implicating himself in a crime.

    How could you not believe a man when he places himself in such a bad plight. Regardless to that, even Bill Gates said that, “We can reduce the CO2 footprint if we do a really good job with vaccinations and healthcare.”

    That’s a weird statement if you don’t understand that there is an actual program to reduce human population. But for those of us who know, well it makes perfect sense. Shame I found out too late. My kids’ brains have been destroyed.

  260. #262 Lawrence
    September 8, 2014

    @Gusto – anti-vax bingo again…any chance that you might be able to think for yourself and not just parrot anti-vax lies from places like AoA….of course, the whole “Thompson was in charge” lie is new….the guy was just part of the team, certainly not the lead (hence why the study isn’t the “Thompson Study”).

    As to the Bill Gates reference – seriously, don’t you have any brains at all?

    Improved medical care, less disease & better standard of living = less births (and a lower birth rate) which means slower population growth – you know, since parents know that their kids aren’t going to die before age 5.

    What an idiot.

  261. #263 herr doktor bimler
    September 8, 2014

    We can reduce the CO2 footprint if we do a really good job with vaccinations and healthcare

    Is there any chance of Gusto looking up Gates’ TED talk and citing the words he actually used, rather than coming out with an unsourceable sentence?
    My guess is “No”.

  262. #264 Krebiozen
    September 8, 2014

    That’s a weird statement if you don’t understand that there is an actual program to reduce human population. But for those of us who know, well it makes perfect sense. Shame I found out too late.

    Is anyone really dumb enough to believe this? Why would Bill Gates want to reduce the world’s population anyway? Surely the more people who buy his products the better.

    My kids’ brains have been destroyed.

    Destroyed? Presumably they are dead if their brains have been “destroyed”. That’s awful, but why do you blame vaccines?

  263. #265 herr doktor bimler
    September 8, 2014

    My kids’ brains have been destroyed.

    OK, but what’s Gusto’s excuse?

  264. #266 Dangerous Bacon
    September 8, 2014

    Gusto: “You guys know this stuff is poison and Thompson was the head of that panel that said it was safe. He’s come out admitting he lied…How could you not believe a man when he places himself in such a bad plight.”

    You’re seriously asking why anyone wouldn’t believe a liar?

  265. #267 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    September 8, 2014

    After a very enjoyable weekend with the inlaws (and one of the funniest Dr Who episodes I can remember), I’m catching up on this thread again. *Pluto* came up? Is this some new replacement to the Galileo Gambit, perhaps? The IAU reclassified Pluto, therefore scientists can be wrong and should be trusted or something? Never mind the Pluto argument is really a much older argument that’s been going on since the discovery of 1 Ceres. I seriously wonder if Pluto would’ve even received planet designation in the first place had Disney not promptly named a popular character after it.

  266. #268 Krebiozen
    September 8, 2014

    If the evidence that Pluto was a planet was unreliable, how can we trust anything scientists say about vaccines? Or something.

  267. #269 Tim
    September 8, 2014

    @Gusto Buckshot

    — Their official stance on the statement is as Lawrence has pointed out. However, past UNICEF program vaccines (polio, tetanus) did have the effect of sterilizing women.

    http://lifesitenews.com/news/unicef-nigerian-polio-vaccine-contaminated-with-sterilizing-agents-scientis

    “If you improve health in a society … surprisingly, population growth goes down,” Gates told CNN in 2008. “And that’s because a parent needs to have some children survive into adulthood to take care of them when they’re old.”

    http://lifesitenews.com/news/gates-foundation-explains-bill-gates-re-vaccines-reducing-population

    CO2= P x S x E x C
    http://co2psec.com/

  268. #270 lookinglass
    canary islands mid atlantic.
    September 8, 2014

    Dorit Reiss
    ….’citing the esteemed orac’…………Oh my.
    How infinitely sad is such a description – of such a malignant narcissist.
    The truthof this whole affair went skimming right over his head. Because he was never looking for it. This whole blog is his raison d’etre. It is an ego driven expression of his need for constant attention and applause.
    You have shown your truest colors Dorit.

  269. #271 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    September 8, 2014

    Tim, your source is a site called “Life Site News”. Already I’m suspicious.

  270. #272 Krebiozen
    September 8, 2014

    The best explanation I have ever seen of how improving education and health leads to reduced population growth is <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_on_global_population_growth"here

  271. #273 Krebiozen
    September 8, 2014

    Why can’t WordPress have the intelligence to close a missing tag? Other platforms seem to manage it. Sigh.
    This should work.

  272. #274 LiamsDadTim
    NC
    September 8, 2014

    I just did a test on my IPhone. I looked at a text from a non-contact (when I had unread messages showing) where just the phone number showed up in the middle top of the screen. It said “back” I looked at a message from a contact.. it said “message”. I also had a text message from an email address (a rather long email address). It did not say either “back” or “message” just showed a back arrow. So it seems to me it changes based on number of characters it tries to display. I’m no scientist though just an engineer so my little scientific study probably needs to be looked at more just like the CDC’s. You should quit spouting off conspiracy theories when you are supposed to be a scientific type. I have only followed your blog since the break of this news because I wanted a scientific view of the information that has come to light. You shout insults and no tolerance at the other side like a grade schooler. I used to sit on the same side of the fence as you but I’m not naive enough to think the government is always on the up and up and will do what is necessary to keep itself intact. That includes omitting data on a subject that is as big as this. To me this is bigger than the Snowden whistleblowing. I never would doubt big brother spying on its citizens but covering data on disease issues by the CDC should anger anyone and at least be a wakeup call for investigation of any fraud that might be happening. Smallpox was found mishandled in a lab and within 3 weeks a congressional hearing. Why not in this case? Because it’s being intentionally covered with sand as fast as the media and government can shovel it. It’s a real crisis for them if this became mainstream news that the average person could see.

    I have to ask this question. If you are so sure you are correctly basing your beliefs on vaccines are you calling every parent a liar that has seen their child regress the same day they take their child to “well visits” for their vaccine shots? Just curious. I wonder if you would be singing the same tune if you took your normal child to a “wellness visit” and came out with your child not being the same person. I bet you would be trying to scientifically prove what just happened to your kid. Also if enough people are saying this has happened don’t you think it should be studied or looked into even more? I mean an official at the CDC who was a co-author of the study has said its not on the up and up. Don’t you think we owe it to a generation of children and the public itself to do more independent studies on the subject? It only makes sense. I say quit burying your head in the sand and look for the truth and not what you are told is the truth. I trust the thousands of parents with a story to tell than I do a government scientist telling me I have to jab this syringe full of weird crap into my newborn child. Open your eyes and mind Orac and quit being so rude to parents that are obviously hurt and struggling to cope with why their children have to be injured. If this subject ever happened to become mainstream and lies were admitted by the government.. I would hope this blog becomes a great big apology to the folks you have tried to demonize by calling them cranks, whacks and whatever other terms you have used to classify these folks. It’s sickening listening your back peddling trying to explain away what has happened whether you agree with Wakefield or Hooker or you don’t.. Bottom line is William Thompson a co-author of the study says its BS. I guess he is lying about his part in a bad study? Why would he lie about that and jeopardize his career or worse put his life in jeopardy? I think you need to put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a moment.

  273. #275 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    September 9, 2014

    @LiamsDadTim:

    I have to ask this question. If you are so sure you are correctly basing your beliefs on vaccines are you calling every parent a liar that has seen their child regress the same day they take their child to “well visits” for their vaccine shots?

    No. We are saying that they misremembered. It’s known that after Wakefield’s “Case Study” came out, a number of parents said that regression had happened, even when the medical records contradicted their version of events. People can edit their memories.

    I wonder if you would be singing the same tune if you took your normal child to a “wellness visit” and came out with your child not being the same person.

    See comment about labile memory above.

    Also if enough people are saying this has happened don’t you think it should be studied or looked into even more?

    Funny thing: we hear all these claims, and there are compensation mechanisms in place, but when we ask for details, we get nothing. It’s as if these injuries are just a game of “broken telephones”.

    I mean an official at the CDC who was a co-author of the study has said its not on the up and up.

    Incorrect. He has said that he disagreed about the exclusion of some data. His own comments acknowledge that the others had valid reasons for excluding that data.

    Don’t you think we owe it to a generation of children and the public itself to do more independent studies on the subject?

    We have DONE the studies. There has been a metaanalysis looking at all the studies and it totalled in excess of 11 million individuals. In a sample size that enormous, if vaccines caused even a minority of cases of autism, it would have been detected. The vaccines cause autism hypothesis is as sound as phlogiston and geocentricity.

    It only makes sense. I say quit burying your head in the sand and look for the truth and not what you are told is the truth.

    Wakefield is a known and proven liar, and Hooker is dodgy.

    I trust the thousands of parents with a story to tell [more] than I do a government scientist telling me I have to jab this syringe full of weird crap into my newborn child.

    See my comments about labile memory, broken telephones and the surprising absence of parents who witnessed regression above.

    Open your eyes and mind Orac and quit being so rude to parents that are obviously hurt and struggling to cope with why their children have to be injured.

    Okay, now you listen up you plonker. I have an official diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. A lot of other commenters here are autistic, have autistic spouses or offspring, or two or all of the above. We do NOT appreciate being labelled damaged goods. Do try to remember that.

    Bottom line is William Thompson a co-author of the study says its BS.

    Thompson did NOT say the study was BS. He said he was unhappy about the exclusion of a subgroup. That’s a big difference.

    I guess he is lying about his part in a bad study? Why would he lie about that and jeopardize his career or worse put his life in jeopardy?

    Once again, this was a disagreement over the exclusion of a subgroup. You are being melodramatic.

  274. #276 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    September 9, 2014

    Apologies for the blockquote fail.

  275. #277 ChrisP
    September 9, 2014

    So what is this business about William Thompson delivering a truckload* of documents to Bill Posey’s office.

    *A metaphorical truckload, I have no information that an actual truck was involved, it might have been a sack truck used numerous times.

    On a related and far more mundane question, what happened to my post from yesterday. It seems to fallen into the black pit of moderation never to be seen again, despite their being only two links in it.

  276. #278 Krebiozen
    September 9, 2014

    LiamsDadTim,

    You should quit spouting off conspiracy theories when you are supposed to be a scientific type.

    The people releasing this information have recently produced a video comparing the CDC to Tuskegee, Pol Pot and Stalin that contains a scientist’s voice recorded without his knowledge or permission. One of the parties in the text exchange behaved so appallingly he was struck of the British medical register. These are people we should trust not to manipulate information for their own ends? Wouldn’t that be more than a little naive?

    I have only followed your blog since the break of this news because I wanted a scientific view of the information that has come to light. You shout insults and no tolerance at the other side like a grade schooler.

    That’s odd. I have found the explanations of the science here very useful. Where are the insults in the post above? The only ones I can see describe the Hooker/Wakefield video as “vile” and Hooker’s study as “execrable”, both of which insult objects, not people, and both of which are entirely justified, in my view.

    I used to sit on the same side of the fence as you

    Of course you did.

    but I’m not naive enough to think the government is always on the up and up and will do what is necessary to keep itself intact.

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting anything of the sort. Conversely, I think it is unwise to attribute anything to sinister machinations when incompetence or foolishness are equally viable explanations. Look at the evidence, always.

    To me this is bigger than the Snowden whistleblowing.

    To me this is a storm in a teacup. It seems obvious that there is no story here, unless Hooker and/or Thompson have more actually damning revelations to come.

    I never would doubt big brother spying on its citizens but covering data on disease issues by the CDC should anger anyone and at least be a wakeup call for investigation of any fraud that might be happening.

    That isn’t what has happened. I suggest you read Orac’s posts on the subject, and read some of the comments. Omitting data that is unreliable or correcting for known confounders is normal scientific practice.

    Smallpox was found mishandled in a lab and within 3 weeks a congressional hearing. Why not in this case?

    Because those that understand the science involved can see there has been no wrongdoing here? I would welcome a congressional hearing, as it might put a stop to some of this fuss about nothing, but I imagine they have more important things to worry about.

    Because it’s being intentionally covered with sand as fast as the media and government can shovel it. It’s a real crisis for them if this became mainstream news that the average person could see.

    I don’t think so. I hope that most people could understand the science if explained properly, those who aren’t already blinkered by their convictions that vaccines cause autism anyway.

    I have to ask this question. If you are so sure you are correctly basing your beliefs on vaccines are you calling every parent a liar that has seen their child regress the same day they take their child to “well visits” for their vaccine shots? Just curious.

    Not liars, mistaken, or assuming causation from a temporal association, the post hoc fallacy. Autism begins much earlier but is often first noticed at the same time vaccines are given. It is understandable that some parents might leap to the wrong conclusions.

    In Madsen’s MMR study, out of over half a million children that included 738 cases of autism and other ASDs recorded in the study, only 11 were diagnosed within 6 months of being vaccinated with MMR.

    There is also the study that Julian alluded to, this study done in North East London in 2003, five years after Wakefield’s fraudulent paper was published. In only 12 of the 118 cases of regressive autism did the parents blame vaccines. It was also clear that some parents had changed their view on what had caused their child’s autism only after Wakefield’s study was published:

    Widespread public concern about the possible relation between autism and MMR began in August 1997, with the pre-publication release of information about the Wakefield study, which attracted considerable and ongoing media attention.[...] From August 1997 the reported presence or timing of regression changed in 13 cases. For six of these, regression was mentioned for the first time after August 1997, even though many health professionals had seen these children before this date. In seven cases the recorded timing of onset of regression changed in relation to MMR: six closer, one further away.

    This is good evidence that some parents have edited their memories of the timing, and even the occurrence, of their child’s autistic regression after they became aware of the claim that MMR causes autism.

    I wonder if you would be singing the same tune if you took your normal child to a “wellness visit” and came out with your child not being the same person. I bet you would be trying to scientifically prove what just happened to your kid.

    As distressing as this experience might be, assuming that the vaccinations caused the apparent changes in the child is a mistake. Look at the omnibus autism proceedings, where Michelle Cedillo was claimed to be developmentally normal before she received the MMR vaccine. But, “… displayed early signs of autism clearly visibly on family video taken prior to her receiving the MMR vaccine.”

    Also if enough people are saying this has happened don’t you think it should be studied or looked into even more?

    Even more? Just how many more negative studies do we need?

    I say quit burying your head in the sand and look for the truth and not what you are told is the truth.

    Right back at you. Have you read the DeStefano study? Hooker’s hopelessly incompetent “reanalysis”? Do you understand the difference between a case control study and a cohort study? If not, you should learn some statistics and read the blog posts here on the subject. I think you will see that the truth is not what you have been told it is. It is those who refuse to accept the large and continually growing body of evidence that vaccines do not cause autism who have their heads in the sand.

    I trust the thousands of parents with a story to tell than I do a government scientist telling me I have to jab this syringe full of weird crap into my newborn child.

    I don’t think “weird crap” is a very scientific way of describing a medical intervention that has saved millions if not billions of lives. If you understood anything about vaccines you wouldn’t use such emotive terms.

    Open your eyes and mind Orac and quit being so rude to parents that are obviously hurt and struggling to cope with why their children have to be injured.

    Where has Orac ever been rude to the parents of a disabled child? Please link to it, as I have never witnessed such a thing.

    If this subject ever happened to become mainstream and lies were admitted by the government..

    That’s not going to happen. I think it will become clear that Thompson has grossly misunderstood the statistics involved in the studies he coauthored.

    I would hope this blog becomes a great big apology to the folks you have tried to demonize by calling them cranks, whacks and whatever other terms you have used to classify these folks.

    Where has Orac called the parents of disabled children “cranks” or “whacks”? Please be specific, or I will be forced to conclude you are lying.

    It’s sickening listening your back peddling trying to explain away what has happened whether you agree with Wakefield or Hooker or you don’t..

    I haven’t seen any explaining away, I have seen cogent analysis of the science involved that has convinced me that Thompson is mistaken.

    Bottom line is William Thompson a co-author of the study says its BS. I guess he is lying about his part in a bad study? Why would he lie about that and jeopardize his career or worse put his life in jeopardy? I think you need to put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a moment.

    Based on what I have read and heard (which may be incomplete or taken out of context) I think he has made a terrible mistake based on his misunderstanding of the statistics involved in the studies he has been involved in.

    Oh, and if you seriously think his life is in danger, it seems to me that you are somewhat hypocritical complaining that Orac’s speculations about the authenticity of some texts is “spouting off conspiracy theories”!

  277. #279 Krebiozen
    September 9, 2014

    Bleugh, “struck off“, I meant

  278. #280 Denice Walter:
    September 9, 2014

    @ ChrisP:

    I don’t know about a ‘truckload’ but AoA says’ 100,000′ pages.
    Recently, Hooker said that he had “tens of thousands of pages”** so who knows! These people aren’t exactly the best with numbers though. Possibly it involved 12, 000.

    -btw- if you peruse AoA, you’ll notice that the references to the whistleblower story include Natural News, Breitbart, BenSwann etc.
    OBVIOUSLY the mainstream media has blocked this earth-shattering news as it is but an enabling servant of Big Pharma and Big Government.

    ** on the Gary Null Show PRN a few weeks ago where he was a guest yesterday as well.

  279. #281 Orac
    September 9, 2014

    Maybe they’re going the direction of Stanislaw Burzynski, who claimed (through his minions and shills) to have submitted “millions” of pages to the FDA on antineoplastons. :-)

  280. #282 Denice Walter
    September 9, 2014

    well, el Honcho Grande** de PRN claims to have “counselled” 70,000 people-
    which REALLY means *throw 3 zeroes after any number to impress the marks*
    similarly, he has 5000 studies about ginseng, 2 million listeners and has invented thousands of new products.

    ** right, I know it’s bad Spanish- what you think I pick up from *las Latinas* dance class?

  281. #283 DLC
    A place without black helicopters.
    September 9, 2014

    So, LiamsDadTim @274 : you don’t believe that 2 people would form a conspiracy to ruin Thompson’s reputation, but you believe that the entirety of the CDC conspired to keep valuable information (sic) out of the hands of the antivaccine public’s hands ? Really ? Nothing lopsided there, is there ?

  282. #284 Lawrence
    September 9, 2014

    100,000 pages is about 50 bankers boxes or so of documentation – which is actually very small when compared to the amount of paperwork normally generated.

    Given the lack of scientific knowledge usually exhibited by the typical Congressman and staff, I don’t know if they’d even know what they were looking at….

  283. #285 Tim
    September 9, 2014

    I would, DLC. It is a federal agency and that *fed* part is an occupying falsehood of a criminal *government* — Ya bunch of self-loathing anarchists. **grins**

  284. #286 Bill Price
    September 9, 2014

    Denice, wouldn’t it be el Queso Grande de PRN?

  285. #287 ann
    September 10, 2014

    And you think, after all that, he would step into the noose by endorsing a fake text exchange on a mobile phone? It would be bound to come out, and about 200 journalists would be upon it in about 25 minutes.

    I agree that it makes little sense, thus phrased. But if it were restated as…

    “If he thought he could make large sums of money from it, would there be any dishonest act that was too crude or corrupt or clownish for Andrew Wakefield?”

    …it kind of acquires a different complexion.

    (I don’t actually have any opinion about the specific issue of the veracity of the exchange, beyond that it can’t be definitively established by internet detective work/DIY forensics.

    But the involvement of Morgan Verkamp suggests that someone somewhere thinks he or she can use this to generate a qui tam suit. Or an excuse to raise funds for one. And AW appears to have some proprietary feelings about the story.

    I don’t know. I know that I know nothing, in fact. But based on presently available information, Thompson’s actions just seem inexplicable to me in a way that’s doubtless capable of many explanations that are beyond my capacity to imagine.

    I wouldn’t rule a mad, conspiratorial scheme of some kind out, though. Early days. But at least potentially, it looks kinda fair-game-y.. .

    A lot of stuff does when you don’t know much about the terrain or the players, however. I do admit.

    Having no dog in the causality race, I think betting is still open on the Brian Hooker story. Just because he’s an obsessive and makes mistakes, it doesn’t mean that in ten years harassing CDC he hasn’t turned something up, even if it’s not quite all he thinks.

    In fact, given the scale of a government bureacracy like that, it would be more surprising if he didn’t.

    Agree.

  286. #288 Michael Brent
    Hastings
    October 13, 2014

    What a bunch of smug wankers . You’re seriously siding with CDC and drug companies . Are you all at work ?

  287. #289 Lawrence
    October 13, 2014

    @MB – as opposed to quacks, discredited doctors & a bunch of uneducated nitwits?

    Sorry, I side with Science and Facts.

  288. #290 novalox
    October 13, 2014

    @michael

    So, got any evidence for your assertions?

    Or are you a smug wanker, like you seem to be, posting without any evidence?

  289. #291 notation
    October 13, 2014

    “You’re seriously siding with CDC and drug companies .”

    As opposed to “siding” with a wanker like you? You bet.

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