I wasn’t planning on revisiting this topic, but sometimes a blogger’s gotta do what a blogger’s gotta do. You’ll see what I mean in a minute. But before you do, I’ll just provide a bit of background. Last week, I came across one of those truly awful antivaccine studies that gets the old Insolence flowing, this time a mix of the Respectful and not-so-Respectful. I’m referring, of course, to a paper that I came across as I was spending some time delving into the deeper darker parts of antivaccine social media. It was a study by Antonietta Gatti and Stefano Montanari in the International Journal of Vaccines and Vaccination entitled New Quality-Control Investigations on Vaccines: Micro- and Nanocontamination, which led to an article being circulated in antivaccine circles by the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute (CMSRI), an group made up mainly of antivaccine cranks, in an article entitled Dirty Vaccines: New Study Reveals Prevalence of Contaminants. Suffice to say, I laid down the not-so-Respectful Insolence that this awful, awful paper deserved, and didn’t plan on revisiting the topic, even though I learned some things about the authors and thought of some additional issues with the study that I hadn’t thought of the first time I discussed it.

Well, leave it to one of the authors to provide me with an opportunity—nay, an obligation—to do each of those things. Let’s just put it this way. One of the authors, Stefano Montanari, is not happy with me. Not at all. Even though his primary language is Italian, that didn’t stop him from trying to rebut my criticisms in two languages in an entry called Sono troppo forti per me. I was amused right from the beginning:

Naively foreign to the subject, the author of the mess begins badly, showing not only that he hasn’t got the faintest notion of what is declared to be actually contained in vaccines but that he ignores even one of the basic principles of classical toxicology: the different pollutants (that the author hastens to define “harmless”) exert a mutually synergistic activity. Well: even the most culturally backward toxicologist knows that in his field hardly ever two plus two equals four but equals very often a higher number. And he knows also that the higher the number of addenda, the farther from the arithmetic sum and the less predictable is the result. When, then, Mr. Orac, whoever is hidden behind the pseudonym, thinks back of Paracelsus, he exhibits without shame his being foreign to the pathologies caused by micro- and nanoparticles.

Ah, yes. That didn’t take long. It always amuses me when I’m attacked because I use a pseudonym, given that my real identity is one of the worst kept “secrets” in the blogosphere. I do admit that, from time to time, I’ve been tempted to drop the ‘nym, but somehow never do. I think it’s just pure cussedness. (Also, I like the Orac ‘nym.) Be that as it may, these days, I like to think of the ‘nym as an intelligence test. If you complain about the ‘nym and are too stupid or lazy to figure out who I really am, you fail.

Be that as it may, I am not unaware of the possibility of “synergistic toxicity.” However, contrary to what Montanari seems to think, it’s not as common a phenomenon. More importantly, if you’re going to invoke “synergistic toxicity” in the context of vaccines, it would behoove you to—oh…I don’t know—actually demonstrate any toxicity first, something Montanari’s paper utterly failed to do.

I also couldn’t help but think that the whole part about “micro- and nanoparticles” was starting to resemble a couple of things. For one, homeopaths like to invoke “nanoparticles” to “explain” how their quackery works. They even mistake low level contamination for something functional. The other thing it reminded me of is a the obsession of a certain pathologist named Sin Lee, who is obsessed about minimal quantities of HPV DNA that he detected in Gardasil using super, super sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect. What Montanari did is similar (finding inconsequential amounts of scary-sounding contaminants) using highly sensitive techniques and then using that finding to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Basically, Montanari’s is yet another variation on the antivaccine theme of claiming that vaccines are loaded with “toxins” that cause all sorts of harm.

Montanari was also rather defensive about having published in a pay-to-publish predatory journal:

Our scam is evident when Orac reveals how, to be able to publish in the infamous newspaper, you pay money. Evidently, Mr. Orac has never published anything. Had he done that, he would know that there is NO international medical journal that does not ask for money for publication, and the figure is higher, the higher the impact factor, i.e. the grotesquely fraudulent index (see televoting) that the journal boasts.

I’d be happy to send Montanari my PubMed list. Yes, I have published. Perhaps not as much as I would have wished by this stage in my career, but it’s not insubstantial. (I actually have a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine. Perhaps Montanari has heard of it.) Yes, many journals do charge page charges to publish. That’s not what I was talking about. To repeat, the journal in which Gatti and Montanari published their paper is a MedCrave journal, and MedCrave is included on Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers, basically a list of “pay to publish” open access journals who charge significant sums to authors to publish their work but whose editorial oversite and peer review are—shall we say?—lacking. MedCrave, which was founded in 2014, is thought to be a new brand created by the well-established predatory OMICS group publisher. Interestingly, if you Google “MedCrave predatory publisher,” you’ll find a bunch of links denying that MedCrave is a predatory publisher, all with language quirks so similar that it’s pretty obvious that they’re probably coming from the same source.

No, there is a difference between predatory publishers who specialize in publishing low quality papers and charging for the privilege. I suspect Montanari knows that. He’s also wrong that page charges are usually higher, the higher impact the journal.

Montanari then goes on with this hilarious paragraph:

Soon after, here is the confession: Orac knows nothing of microscopy, but he knows that samples should be viewed in a vacuum. If the ‘”expert” had any idea of the type of microscope we use – data, however, reported in the paper – he would not have done such a comic thud. Nor would he tell that we “evaporate” vaccines, because the methodology is quite another. Even if we did, however, that would have nothing to do with the presence of pieces of lead, steel, tungsten or any other element or combination of elements that appear with evidence in the photographed particles. Then, if Mr. Orac had any specific cultural basis, he would know what is the ” protein corona” and would not shoot naive nonsense in this regard. But all this is not enough and he resumes the thesis of the ” homeopathic quantity ” messing with chemical concepts with which, apparently, he is not familiar but which, no doubt, impress the reader he addresses. If I did not know that the thing is useless, I would invite Mr. Orac to study at least the basic principles of nano-toxicology. This for his own good. Anyway, there is no reason to worry: even tap water might contain filth and no one injecting tap water into his veins, which of course falls in Orac’s habits, ever reported any trouble. And what if the pollutants came from the needle used to transfer the vaccine to the microscope? Oh yes: what if it were so? The fact is that the needle we use is obviously the one of the syringe which contains the vaccine. And if it were the cellulose matrix which filters the sample to be dirty? It’s a pity, however, that we, as an obvious practice, regularly check all the steps including the carbon support on which we deposit the sample without ever having found pollutants. More than 40 years spent on research taught us the basics of the trade.

Montanari might forgive me if I was unclear on how he prepared the samples. The Methods section of his paper was absolutely atrocious and abominable. There was insufficient detail to figure out just what Gatti and he did. Now, maybe someone who speaks Italian can tell if the Italian version of Montanari’s post makes sense, because I consider it unfair to mock the incoherence of the above paragraph if it’s just due to his lack of skill with English. In any case, whether due to lack of facility with English or muddled thinking or both, Much of what he’s saying there makes no sense. I’m particularly amused by his concession that he didn’t use any proper controls and his attempt to reflect it back at me with a jaunty, “So what if the contaminants came from the syringe?” The “fact” is that the needle he used is obviously the one that contains the vaccine? OK. But was it a medical grade, sterile syringe, just like the kind used to inject vaccines into babies? I’d bet it wasn’t. Those syringes are usually 0.5 ml or 1 ml and can’t measure finely enough to accurately and reproducibly deposit 20 μl onto the filters.

I could go on, but let’s just recap the various problems with this study. Nowhere do Gatti and Montanari actually measure or report the actual concentration of the metal particles that they found. I was criticized for using what one commenter viewed as too simplistic an approach to likening the concentrations to molarity, but, as I said before, bloody hell. If Gatti and Montanari don’t report the actual concentrations of the “contaminants” that they found, I did the best I could with what I was given. Another problem is that many of the vaccines tested were past their expiration date. Given that vaccines have proteins in them. Over time, proteins in aqueous solution tend to degrade and precipitate out. That’s part of the reason why vaccines have expiration dates. In any case, another problem with the study is that there was no attempt to quantify the “contamination” in any meaningful way that could be compared and independently evaluated, nor is there any statistical analysis. Then, of course, there is the lack of proper controls, both negative and positive. Negative controls would include things like distilled, deionized water treated the same way as the vaccines and phosphate-buffered saline, which is buffer frequently used in vaccines.

Whether or not Montanari and Gatti are experts in “nanotoxicology” or not, it’s clear that Montanari has some serious pseudoscientific leanings. For instance, Gatti is the editor of a bottom-feeding MedCrave journal, Journal of Nanomedicine Research. Particularly amusing to me:

The in-vitro and in-vivo toxicological studies performed later showed controversial results, as they led to opposite results: some scientists (mostly biologists and molecular biologists) believed that nanoparticles are safe since they do not induce an immediate cell death and there is not a clear dose-response answer. Others (mainly bio-engineers, chemists, etc.) replied that they can have a potential to induce biological, maybe pathological, reactions.

Maybe, that’s because biologists and molecular biologists know what is and isn’t important in terms of what can and can’t cause physiologically and biochemically important changes in living systems. And, of course, Gatti and Montanari find nanoparticles everywhere! For example:

Studying a civilian patient died of lymphoma at the hospital of Sarajevo when the Balkan War was already over; we found the deepest and finest contamination of his lymph nodes by 10nm-sized particles of Carbon-Lead-Chlorine-Bromine. Such a small size, morphology (spherical) and chemical composition induced us to hypothesize an exposure to an important source of high-temperature-produced soot.

They’ve also found nanoparticles in the blood of leukemia patients, in clots forming on filters placed in the inferior vena cava, and even bread and biscuits!

It turns out that Gatti and Montanari have their very own electron microscope. From what I can tell using Google Translate on articles written in Italian (always a dicey proposition), it began in 2006 when the University of Modena stopped them from using its electron microscope to study “toxic emissions.” So someone named Beppe Grillo launched , via his blog, a fundraising effort for the purchase of an environmental scanning microscope, and €378,000 was raised to purchase the microscope. Somehow this all went bad, with Montanari now featuring a drawing of Grillo as literally a werewolf. Hilariously, under this photo, there are references further showing that Gatti and Montanari can find nanoparticles everywhere.

In any case, it degenerated into accusations that Gatti and Montanari are using their microscope in much the way that Mike Adams uses his mass spectrometer, to find contaminants in everything and as a side business. This is actually a credible charge, as a glimpse at the Nanodiagnostic, Ltd. website (Gatti and Montanari’s company) shows, particularly a page on pathologies of unknown origin, which speculates that nanoparticles are cause of—you guessed it—pathologies of unknown origin. Gatti and Montanari countercharge that Grillo exploited them for political gain. Apparently lawyer and defamation suits are involved. (Hat tip: herr doktor bimler.)

In any case, Beppe Grillo is the founder of the Italian political party Five Star Movement and is quite the crank himself. He’s an HIV/AIDS denialist, having called AIDS a “hoax,” perpetuated by pharmaceutical companies and is a rabid antivaccine activist. You might remember Paolo Vanoli, as I’ve discussed him before. He has claimed that vaccines can cause homosexuality and is a member of the Five Star Movement.

Not surprisingly, Gatti and Montanari aren’t without a bit of crank tendencies themselves. For instance, they’ve co-authored a book called Vaccini: sì o no? (Vaccines: Yes or No?) In all my years in the biz, I know right away that any book that even askes this question in the title will be full of antivaccine misinformation, and a Google Translation shows that I’m not wrong here. In their book, Gatti and Montanari include analyzes of the content of the 28 vaccines used in Italy , with photos by electron microscopy. Trully, they are a couple of one-note cranks. In the blurb they also purport to discuss correlations between vaccines and autism, the “cover-up” of negative data, “false epidemics,” the “lack of studies with a control group,” and a lot of other antivaccine tropes.

I’d like to conclude by thanking Montanari for giving me the opportunity to revisit their study. They’re into way more pseudoscience than I thought. That’s the problem with dealing with cranks from non-English-speaking countries. If you don’t speak and read the language, it’s pretty hard to learn a lot about them, even with the almighty Google Translate. Thankfully, I was able to find out quite a bit about Antonietta Gatti and Stefano Montanari. They’d be right at home here in the US with Mike Adams and his mass spectrometer.

Comments

  1. #1 herr doktor bimler
    February 7, 2017

    MedCrave, which was founded in 2014, is thought to be a new brand created by the well-established predatory OMICS group publisher.

    The Wayback Machine archived two of the more instructive comment threads at Beall’s blog.
    https://web.archive.org/web/20160828111348/https://scholarlyoa.com/2014/06/05/a-new-clone-of-omics-publishing-group-medcrave/
    https://web.archive.org/web/20161222210911/https://scholarlyoa.com/2016/11/03/medcrave-update-its-still-a-dangerous-predatory-publisher/

    The general consensus among his commenters was that MedCrave was probably not actually operated by OMICS, but the scammers behind it were inspired by the success of OMICS and their desire to grab some of the $$$.

    Interestingly, if you Google “MedCrave predatory publisher,” you’ll find a bunch of links denying that MedCrave is a predatory publisher, all with language quirks so similar that it’s pretty obvious that they’re probably coming from the same source.

    I incline to the view that those Quora threads and the related sites are satires, set up by someone who holds a grudge against MedCrave and is trying to hard to ensure that any search for “Medcrave” brings the searcher to the word “predatory”.

  2. #2 The Vodka Diet Guru
    England
    February 7, 2017

    It would be really cool if someone put a few samples of those infamous belladonna teething gels under the microscope too. We could get an idea about variability of the composition, and how much active ingredient is there.

  3. #3 Yerushalmi
    Jerusalem, Israel
    February 7, 2017

    Vaccini: sì o no? (Vaccines: Yes or No?) In all my years in the biz, I know right away that any book that even askes this question in the title will be full of antivaccine misinformation

    Betteridge’s Law.

  4. #4 herr doktor bimler
    February 7, 2017

    Gatti is the editor of a bottom-feeding MedCrave journal, Journal of Nanomedicine Research

    To be fair, she’s not the only editor there.

    Her JNMR editorials give her affiliation as “Department of Nanodiagnostics, National Council of Research of Italy, Italy”. This is potentially misleading. The Italian Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche has seven Dipartmenti, but none of them are “Nanodiagnostics”.
    https://www.cnr.it/it/dipartimenti
    There are dozens of Research Institutes (including the Istituto Nanoscienze), but again, no Nanodiagnostics.

    I think she means that she is loosely affiliated to NCR’s Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologia dei Materiali Ceramici (ISTEC) and sometimes collaborates with researchers from there, so she has promoted her company to an actual Dipartmento.

    According to the Great Gazoogle, the “Department of Nanodiagnostics, National Council of Research” has no existence outside of two MedCrave editorials.

  5. #5 Keating Willcox
    February 7, 2017

    Ah, journal bashing. I’ve heard quite a bit of this over the years and I always ask myself, “would this paper be any more true if it were published in Archives of Toxicology?”

  6. #6 Soren Kongstad
    Danmark
    February 7, 2017

    To be fair about the pseodonym. I would consider it a basic courtesy not to out people with pseudonyms, unless there is cause.

    The author might have refrained from looking into the nym, or indeed be aware of your name, but decided not to use it.

  7. #7 Julian Frost
    February 7, 2017

    I think someone broke a small jar of Fendlesworth on aisle 6. Do you remember his other Scandinavian name, Lars Ørnsted?

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2016/09/05/the-marriage-of-creationism-and-antivaccinationism-literally/comment-page-1/#comment-446021

  8. #8 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    February 7, 2017

    Above is Fendlesworth, not me. Orac, look at the IP Addresses.

  9. #9 Wzrd1
    February 7, 2017

    I’ll say a few thinsg here.
    Primary is, SSDD. Google it if you don’t know it.
    Second, my moniker is a call sign, back from when I was SF. That makes it damnably near PII, considering various leaks and spills of national secrets. I have grave heartburn over exposing my wife, children and grandchildren to the risk of exposure and deliberate targeting by very real terrorists.
    Add in doxing by antivaxxxers, with very literal threats to kill everyone within my home, then come to me, yeah, I use my old callsign.

    Would *you* do otherwise?
    Especially considering men messaging me with my persona address, then explaining precisely how they’d rape my wife to death.
    Yeah, it’s gone *that* explicit. Worse than aL qaeda in threat land.
    Do you wonder *why* I’m so hostile to them?
    At least, overseas, I could just kill them. Here, at home, they have rights (OK, it’s a lot more complex than that, just work with me here).

    Orac has to put up with threats to his job. I’
    Yve had motehrlovers tell e my own address and proclaim that they’d kill anyone in the inside of the house.
    Yeah, they’re real reasonable.

  10. #10 Dangerous Bacon
    February 7, 2017

    When are Gatti and Montanari going to publish a study on Chicken McNuggets? I’ll bet the honey mustard sauce alone is chock-full of harmful nanoparticles.

  11. #11 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    February 7, 2017

    Let’s not bother with Fendlesworth anymore and just call him Travis Schwochert from Endeavor, WI. That’s what the little wanker’s name is.

  12. #12 Orac
    February 7, 2017

    Yep. Make sure to mention Fendlesworth too, though. Good for Google searches. 🙂

  13. #13 J
    February 7, 2017

    The lack of controls alone is a death sentence for a paper like this. If you go to low enough concentrations, *everything* is contaminated, and claiming that makes your compound dangerous is meaningless without a comparison.
    Hell, at my high school, we learned about detecting the uranium in our sandwiches in the first year! Didn’t actually measure it of course (we had a leaky roof, not a Mass Spec), but we were still given the explanation and an explicit guarantee that *every* sandwich we had with us had a few atoms of uranium in it. I mean… this isn’t expert level physics or biochemistry or anything, this is stuff a reasonably interested twelve-year old would understand.

    As for our glorious host’s musings on the ‘nym… I’m not implying anything, but has anyone ever seen Orac and Batman in the same room?

  14. #14 Orac
    February 7, 2017

    When are Gatti and Montanari going to publish a study on Chicken McNuggets? I’ll bet the honey mustard sauce alone is chock-full of harmful nanoparticles.

    They’d just be continuing what Mike Adams did:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/09/03/mike-adams-puts-chicken-mcnuggets-under-the-microscope-hilarity-ensues/

    And what Dr. Richard deShazo did:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/10/07/someone-other-than-mike-adams-puts-chicken-mcnuggets-under-the-microscope-hilarity-ensues/

    Only with an electron microscope.

  15. #15 Khan
    February 7, 2017

    “Mike Adams and his Mass Spectrometer”

    “Tom Swift and his Diving Seacopter”

  16. #16 Dorit Reiss
    February 7, 2017

    Work should stand on its own, but for lay people who don’t understand enough about this, this additional background can help understand how unreliable these authors are.

    Thank you for going through both, content and credentials.

  17. #17 Eric Lund
    February 7, 2017

    Orac knows nothing of microscopy, but he knows that samples should be viewed in a vacuum. If the ‘”expert” had any idea of the type of microscope we use – data, however, reported in the paper – he would not have done such a comic thud. Nor would he tell that we “evaporate” vaccines, because the methodology is quite another.

    Let me correct Dr. Montanari on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central tenet of Buddhism is not “Every man for himself.” And the London Underground is not a political movement. These are mistakes, Stefano. I looked them up.

    If you didn’t evaporate your sample before putting it in the vacuum chamber, it will be evacuated when you pump the chamber down. The liquid phase of water can’t exist under the typical temperatures and pressures used for electron force microscopy.

  18. #18 Leigh Jackson
    February 7, 2017

    I didn’t know Grillo was an antivaxxer. I didn’t really know that much at all, beyond him being something of an agitprop/buffoon.
    I now know all I need to know. He’s a lot worse than a mere buffoon.

  19. #19 doug
    February 7, 2017

    When someone states in a paper When the water and saline the vaccine contains are evaporated … I rather think they forfeit any room to complain that someone takes that to mean … we “evaporate” vaccines …”. If … the methodology is quite another. then it is up to the authors to resolve potential ambiguity by explaining said method, unless they are content to receive a low grade and a “please see me during office hours to discuss this” note and having their paper used as an example of what not to do in next year’s class. Oh, and “saline” doesn’t evaporate – you already covered what evaporates when you mentioned water.

  20. #20 Sullivanthepoop
    February 7, 2017

    I am glad you had a chance to revisit this article. Antivaxx research is so prone to becoming a comedy routine. Thanks for the laugh

  21. #21 doug
    February 7, 2017

    As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’ve put quite a lot of effort into (unsuccessfully) trying to find good info on first aid for road rash when it is known that it isn’t adequately cleaned at the scene and may be several hours before it gets further attention. This paper resolves the issue. Clearly administration of a goodly largesome dose of carfentanil followed with a potassium chloride chaser is warranted, since the particulates that would enter the injured party’s circulation would cause all manner of debilitating horrors in the future.

    I wonder if these bozos have considered the particulates that will be sewn up inside anyone who has had surgery.

  22. #22 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    February 7, 2017

    Orac writes,

    Also,I like the Orac nym

    MJD says,

    Dear Montanari,

    Orac (Mr. Hyde) gets great pleasure describing what happens when scientists spit into the wind. Therefore, it’s often unwise to pull on Orac’s (aka. Dr. Jekyll) cape.

  23. #23 Greg Hinson
    February 7, 2017

    I’ve looked into the lead author Gatti. She has numerous publications on Pubmed, all regarding these micro and nanoparticles she finds using this technique. She has found “contaminants” as an explanation for Morgellons psychosis and in biscuits. She claims to have founded a new field, Nanopathology.

    At first, I wanted to believe that, as a bioengineer without medical training, she was just objectively reporting on what she finds and looking for new ways to apply her technology, without having underlying biases or trying to claim any causality. Unfortunately, when diving in deeper to her publications, it’s obvious to see that 1) she strongly biased that vaccines are not safe and is using the research to try and prove this, and 2) that she doesn’t really know what she is talking about regarding vaccine ingredients and toxicology.

    For example, in a book she published in 2015 called “Case Studies in Nanotoxicology and Particle Toxicology” she writes the following in her chapter on their findings of “contaminants” in vaccines:

    “In the past thimerosal…was usually added to vaccines as a preservative. Due to its toxicity, it was replaced by aluminum hydroxide, a chemical with debatable advantages over thimerosal in terms of toxicity.”

    They obviously do not know what they’re talking about.

    You can see the chapter here:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=Q-icBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA188&lpg=PA188&dq=%22Case%20Studies%20in%20Nanotoxicology%20and%20Particle%20Toxicology%22%20vaccines&source=bl&ots=Mt6ftB274j&sig=Kdezb1b12dkqQ9vlKOiVZIR8ATg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiI1qru0_bRAhWB7yYKHeIWDX4Q6AEIITAB#v=onepage&q=%22Case%20Studies%20in%20Nanotoxicology%20and%20Particle%20Toxicology%22%20vaccines&f=false

    In an interview that GreenMed published yesterday with James Lyons-Weiler (because who else would publish this guy), Gatti says:

    “Aluminum is notoriously toxic. Babies are probably more likely to be affected by levels of aluminum seen in vaccine, but aluminum is unsafe in any case.”

    Interview here: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/breaking-interview-lead-author-dirty-vaccines-study-speaks-out

    Sounds like someone needs training in toxicology before posing as an expert as they have.

  24. #24 Narad
    February 7, 2017

    The central tenet of Buddhism is not “Every man for himself.”

    Cleese wasn’t too familiar with Theravada, I take it.

  25. #25 Dangerous Bacon
    February 7, 2017

    “I wonder if these bozos have considered the particulates that will be sewn up inside anyone who has had surgery.”

    Yes, but in that instance a person would not have the particulates injected “into his veins” as the distinguished Dr. Montanari seems to think vaccines are.

  26. #26 Ander Elessedil
    Italy
    February 7, 2017

    I am italian.
    I feel a little fremdschamen in this moment. Or maybe not. 🙂

    Some minor clarifications:
    – Paolo Vanoli is not a member of Five Stars Movement. He is only a minor activist, maybe not more involved in the party. I don’t think he has any influence, or never had;
    – M5S, nevertheless, has many anti-vaxxer in it, and Montanari is a beacon for them;
    – in the 2006 the Università di Modena didn’t stopped Gatti e Montanari to use that microscope. It stopped them to utilize it for their company, Nanodiagnostic. Gatti continued to be a researcher in UniModena and utilize that microscope;
    – the microscope bought with the fundraising is actually in Pesaro, at the Università di Urbino. And Gatti and Montanari utilize that microscope together with at least three other organization/laboratories;
    – I can confirm that the italian version of Montanari’s “rebuttal” is hilarious as that in english;
    – last thing, Gatti e Montanari are wife and husband.

    Sorry my english, too much laughing. 🙂

  27. #27 Dan Welch
    February 7, 2017

    Interestingly, if you Google “MedCrave predatory publisher,” you’ll find a bunch of links denying that MedCrave is a predatory publisher

    My favorite is the one called “medcravenotpredatorypublisher.podbean.com”. Oh, well, that convinces me! Shame on you, Orac, if that’s even your real name.

  28. #28 Richard
    February 7, 2017

    Please forgive my ignorance, but come to think of it, I’m a bit puzzled as to why these people chose to use an electron microscope in the first place.
    If you want to determine what substances are present and in what amounts, shouldn’t a mass spectrometer be the instrument of choice?
    Using an electron microscope to identify and quantify chemical contaminants sounds an awful lot like the practice of ‘live blood analysis’, where quacks claim to assess someone’s state of health by simply looking at a drop of blood for a minute or two (suggesting that we can simply do away with all those expensive and time-consuming lab tests)…

    Then again, if all you’ve got is a hammer…

  29. #29 Marcus Ranum
    February 7, 2017

    @Richard

    This electron microscope was equipped with an electron dispersive spectroscope.

    Every element emits radiation of a certain energy/wavelength (E=hv) when bombarded with x-rays. Mass spectrometry data would have been a plus though, since it is quantitaive and EDS is not.

    The radiation that each particular element emits is related to the ionization energy of said element. Here is a handy chart: http://www.med.harvard.edu/jpnm/physics/refs/xrayemis.html

    The K and L lines correspond to the electron shells of the elements; these are the principal quantum numbers. Each element can be positively identified because; not only does each element have a major peak, it has a minor peak as well. So even when spectral lines of two elements overlap, the secondary spectra will allow an unambiguous identification.

  30. #30 MarkN
    February 7, 2017

    Bonus points for invoking the Jim Croce tagline.

  31. #31 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    February 7, 2017

    Be that as it may, I am not unaware of the possibility of “synergistic toxicity.” However, contrary to what Montanari seems to think, it’s not as common a phenomenon. More importantly, if you’re going to invoke “synergistic toxicity” in the context of vaccines, it would behoove you to—oh…I don’t know—actually demonstrate any toxicity first, something Montanari’s paper utterly failed to do.

    Yes, I get the impression they’re using it purely as a ‘but SEE it could so still be dangerous!” and anticipating that nobody’s gonna notice they haven’t actually demonstrated that this is in fact what is happening.

    I mean, a major mark against their original paper was that they acted as if absolutely any detectable quantity was bad. No baseline comparison. In their rebuttal they not only fail to answer that criticism, they *compound their original error* by making an even more vacuous claim without any attempt to back it up.

    OK, dudes, you found some aluminum. Congratulations, you get a cookie. But you haven’t shown it’s a dangerous concentration.

    But . . . but . . . SYNERGY! Sometimes chemicals are more dangerous together than either of them individually!

    Oookaaaayyy . . . so, which chemicals have a synergistic toxicity and did you find them in concentrations sufficient for that to be dangerous?

    *deafening silence*

    This was my favorite bit, though:

    he ignores even one of the basic principles of classical toxicology: the different pollutants (that the author hastens to define “harmless”) exert a mutually synergistic activity

    Seriously, how do you make a statement like that in response to a criticism that basically says you’ve ignored “the dose makes the poison”, which is far more basic toxicology? How incompetent do they want to appear?

  32. #32 Old Rockin' Dave
    February 7, 2017

    We all know that Orac is really Ensor hiding behind his creation.
    Now to my question: I must have missed something along the way. Who or what is a Fendlesworth, or is it more correct to ask what is a Fendle’s worth?
    Two major search engines have given me little to go on, and a third is confusing, not to mention TL;DR.

  33. #33 doug
    February 7, 2017

    Marcus, would EDS be able to distinguish between tungsten carbide (WC) and “pure” tungsten?

    Tungsten carbide is widely used, but as far as I know, incandescent lamp filaments and TIG (tungsten, inert gas) welding electrodes are the only common uses of relatively pure tungsten. I can imagine tungsten from TIG electrodes turning up in stainless steel vessels, though the electrodes used for SS typically contain about 2% of something “exotic” like thorium, lanthanum or cerium. I’m having a hard time believing so many vaccines contain just plain tungsten.

  34. #34 Richard
    February 7, 2017

    @Marcus Ranum, #27
    Ah, thank you for reducing my ignorance! But to continue my display of ignorance, is EDS not just limited to detecting elements?
    If so, it would still appear that this is a mostly futile exercise when hunting contaminants and the likes, since biological activity (and thus toxicity) is almost exclusively dependent what compounds are present; information about elements that make up those compounds is nigh useless.

  35. #35 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    February 7, 2017

    Side note to the above: Travis Shwochert mimicked me on “Starts with a Bang”. He may try to get other commenters in trouble by doing the same.

  36. #36 doug
    February 7, 2017

    Ol’ Dave
    Travis Shwochert a.k.a Fendlesworth, is a troll who has been banned numerous times for using sockpuppets. Lately he has been impersonating other regulars and even Orac.
    He’s reasonably competent at finding sciency things on the web and trying to use them to make his points, but almost invariably he demonstrates that he really doesn’t know basics. He will tolerate being challenged briefly, but then resorts to scatology and other remarkably puerile & purulent attempts to “get” people, which around here generally fails miserably. He gets treated pretty roughly here, having earned the contempt of many.

    I suspect that he is generally despised in meatspace.

  37. #37 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    February 7, 2017

    Just so his name is associated with the vile comments he makes, it’s spelt Travis J. Schwochert aka Fendlesworth.

  38. #38 J
    February 7, 2017

    Damn it, I just wrote a detailed explanation to the lady (?) who linked the mercury-lead toxicity study, but the comments have vanished so I feel kind of stupid for putting all the effort in. I get it might have been a not-antivaxx-just-worried troll, did Orac get some banhammering in or something?

    …now what am I supposed to do with half a page of science explanations for beginners? I can’t even doodle cyborg dinosaurs in the margins because I don’t have a printer here!

  39. #39 herr doktor bimler
    February 7, 2017

    If you didn’t evaporate your sample before putting it in the vacuum chamber, it will be evacuated when you pump the chamber down. The liquid phase of water can’t exist under the typical temperatures and pressures used for electron force microscopy.

    Gatti and Montanari have an ESEM, an Environmental SEM, where there’s a partition between the main electron-accelerating vacuum chamber and a second chamber housing the sample. A tiny hole in the partition lets the electron beam through. So the sample can be wet, under atmosphere… some air leaks through the hole into the main vacuum chamber, but the pumps maintain the vacuum, and the electron beam is attenuated, so longer exposures.

    For these studies, though, the authors state that the samples were evaporated under “low vacuum”.

  40. #40 Denice Walter
    February 7, 2017

    ” but the comments have vanished”

    I wonder why

  41. #41 Derek Freyberg
    February 7, 2017

    Richard (#34) makes the key point: so what did they really find? XDS will tell you that a sample contains carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, but won’t tell you whether it’s caffeine (I would say sugar, but that lacks nitrogen) or strychnine.

  42. #42 J
    February 7, 2017

    @Denice
    Yeah, even had a whole weight comparison between babies and mice in it, it was amazing. If there’s a thing that doesn’t get better when you add Wolfram Alpha to it, I haven’t found it yet.

  43. #43 Greg Hinson
    February 7, 2017

    @J

    Post it again. I’d like to see that, as this ancient paper is getting quoted more and more these days.

  44. #44 rs
    February 7, 2017

    This sounds like a trope similar to many others. I express it with the equation: quality = Q * quantity, where Q is a constant of proportionality supposedly establishing an equivalence between quality and quantity.

    For instance, in sci-fi, Singularity crankery, etc. it is often believed that as computers get faster and faster with more more memory a threshold is passed and *ping* an omniscient artificial intelligence appears. Uh, no.

    In Harry Potter and in much folklore you can mix a bunch of otherwise innocuous substances to synergize a potion with extraordinary effects. In reality all you get is organic sludge only a microbe could love.

    “Synergistic toxicity” is another example of quality-quantity equivalence (QQE) syndrome.

  45. #45 herr doktor bimler
    February 7, 2017

    in a book she published in 2015 called “Case Studies in Nanotoxicology and Particle Toxicology”

    Published by Elsevier, in another attempt by that company to lower their reputation to the level of other predatory publishers.

    I’m having a hard time believing so many vaccines contain just plain tungsten.

    In the 2004 “vena cava filter” paper (“Detection of micro- and nano-sized biocompatible particles in the blood”), the authors report

    “Generally, the particles show complex chemistries, containing also elements like gold, silver, cobalt, titanium, antimony, tungsten, wolfram, nickel, zinc, mercury and barium.”

    — they think that tungsten and wolfram are different elements, oh no, scary synergy! But they avoid the solecism of the Oxford comma so I am inclined to cut them slack.

    Anyway, Table 1 reports particles with element combinations like “W S O P Na Cu”, “C W O S P”, “Fe Cr Ni W P Cl S Al Fe Cr” and “W O S P Fe”. I suppose “C W O S P” could be tungsten carbide.

    The 15 filters in the 2004 paper reappear in a 2006 paper (“Retrieval Analysis of Clinical Explanted Vena Cava Filters”) with 5 subsequent observations, for a total of 20.

    Intriguingly, those two publications were separated by a 2005 paper (“In-vivo short- and long-term evaluation of the
    interaction material-blood”), with 14 vena cava filters, all completely different from the 2004 and 2006 lists. With far more complicated chemical descriptions of the purported particles. What happened to those 14 observations? It is a mystery.

    Nowhere in these three papers is there any mention of patients consenting to the use of their tissue samples. “Ethical approval” is evidently not an issue.

  46. #46 J
    February 7, 2017

    @Greg:
    I’ll rewrite it, closed the doc earlier. I didn’t realize it’s being quoted more often but if it’s common enough a guideline of sorts might be useful. I’m not a toxicity expert, but that should just mean it’s easy to understand by anyone.

    @Bronze Dog
    I mean the online thingamajig at http://www.wolframalpha.com/. Not sure if you meant that with ‘software’, I know Wolfram does a bunch of other things as well.

  47. #47 herr doktor bimler
    February 7, 2017

    They’ve also found nanoparticles in the blood of leukemia patients, in clots forming on filters placed in the inferior vena cava, and even bread and biscuits!

    Don’t forget “fetal tissues”!
    “Heavy metals nanoparticles in fetal kidney and liver tissues.”.

    The Abstract begins promisingly, with a reference to “engineered nanoparticles”. The journal,* alas, is one of those hybrid-access affairs that charges the contributors and the readers, which is to say a write-only journal with no subscribers or even Tables of Contents.

    * “Frontiers in Bioscience” from Bioscience.org, probably predatory in Beall’s assessment.

  48. #48 viggen
    Boulder
    February 7, 2017

    I was criticized for using what one commenter viewed as too simplistic an approach to likening the concentrations to molarity, but, as I said before, bloody hell.

    My apologies. I work with these things professionally and I do have to protect my science too. You can’t criticize Brian Hooker of being too simplistic when outside his field of expertise and then duck the same criticism.

    It’s a pity, however, that we, as an obvious practice, regularly check all the steps including the carbon support on which we deposit the sample without ever having found pollutants.

    If so, that should have been a figure in the paper. Nobody knows reading your paper that you have “40 years of experience” and I would say from the lack of rigor that most would be surprised if you had three months of experience. All readers see is you overanalyzing EDS data without a separate, corroborating data stream or any typical controls and using microscope settings that are frankly reckless. What in the world does ‘regularly check’ mean? Do you have a control built into the method so that you can know immediately if something’s wrong, or are you just dusting the scope out once every three weeks? You could have included pictures off the side of the vaccine sample drop on the filter just to show the difference, but you didn’t do even that! Heck, I can’t tell from your published methods whether the cellulose filter ended up in the scope or not. Do you actually not understand that EDS can’t tell you what minerals you’re looking at or did you just feel the compulsion to add minerals into table 2 in addition to the elements? Moreover, you can’t really know the shapes of the low contrast objects you’re looking at if your SEM intensity is high enough to do EDS! 30 kV… my god, biological material is basically transparent at that voltage. A huge number of the particles you reported are micron-sized, why didn’t you go back and try filtering the vaccines samples containing these even once with a 0.1 um filter and then make a new examination with your scope? “Bringing a physical method to bear” my ass, you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re making a mockery of real material scientists the world over.

    Orac may not be a nanoscientist, but I certainly am, and your work stunk.

  49. #49 Mark Thorson
    February 7, 2017

    Uh oh! They’ve found the engineered nanoparticles we put in the chemtrails that got Trump elected. Well, too late now! We don’t need the chemtrails anymore! The American people are dumb enough. We can stop.

  50. #50 J
    February 7, 2017

    @Greg:
    Took a bit longer due to IRL getting in the way, but this was more or less what I wrote to explain the relevance of the toxicity paper for vaccine safety. Not entirely happy with it, but if you like it feel free to adapt it as needed. It could use a bit more hard data instead of estimation, but I don’t have access to any scientific databases so I can’t do much to handle that.

    =============================

    While the mercury-lead toxicity paper sounds very scary and makes some good points, it is not an indication that vaccine contamination by heavy metals is dangerous. I’ll be using Mercury as the main example here, but any other compound would work as well.

    First, consider that toxicity is not directly related to the amount of toxin you suffer from. Increasing the dose by ten times might turn it from completely safe to guaranteed lethal, and reducing the dose to one-tenth can turn a lethal toxin into something you’ll pretty much always survive. This is even shown in the paper you linked: on page 770 they show a table with LD1, LD50 and LD99 for the base metals and the various combinations. The LD99 for mercury, lead and cadmium (i.e. pretty much guaranteed lethal levels) are only one-and-a-half to three times the LD1 concentrations (which, while not harmless, will rarely kill).
    So, the paper indicates that at high doses, lowering the concentration by about a half to two-thirds might reduce the toxicity by as much as 98+ percent. Using less Mercury (or any other hazardous material) will quickly reach LD0: you’ll never die from exposure at that level, but there might still be hazardous side effects. Reducing it further will make those side effects less severe or remove them altogether. And the difference between ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’ is often very small.
    The reason for this is that the body is quite good at eliminating any hazardous stuff it encounters; exposure rarely becomes dangerous until the normal ways the body deals with something can’t handle it. A ‘safe’ level might completely tax the body’s ability to handle it, but a level only slightly higher can’t be handled and becomes toxic. Exceptions exist, but these are the basics.
    The thing to keep in mind then is that reducing concentration only a little can make things a lot safer.

    Now, we’re going to compare the experiment in the linked paper to modern day vaccine concentrations.

    The doses used in the experiments in the paper are measured in micromoles per kg of body weight (of the mice). Using the metal salt compositions provided in the materials section, a rough estimate gives one micromole a weight of roughly 0.2 milligram for Mercury or Lead, and 0.1 milligram for Cadmium.
    Taking Mercury as the example, to get LD1 from a single vaccine would mean adding 4 micromole/kg, or 0.8 milligram Mercury per kilogram body weight (of the baby) if we go by the linked paper’s numbers. Based on an average baby weight of, say, 5kg, that means we’re adding a whopping four milligrams of Mercury to a vaccine, an amount enough that it’s visible by eye!
    We’re not doing that of course, since the whole point of vaccines is to keep kids healthy.

    I’m not entirely sure what the current legal maximum for total Mercury in one dose of a vaccine is, in part because different forms of Mercury, like Mercury salts, Ethyl-Mercury or Methyl-Mercury, have different toxicity and therefore different limits. That said, the old Thimerosal containing vaccines (i.e. the ones that SHOULD have Mercury in them) apparently had a maximum of 25 micrograms Mercury per dose according to http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/ucm070430.htm. That’s about 1500 times lower than the LD1 we estimated above, and again this is WITH Thimerosal. As I explained above, a 1500 times lower concentration will be far safer than a mere 1500 times. Modern vaccines without Thimerosal will have a fraction of that concentration, simply because there’s not supposed to be any Mercury at all. I don’t know of any exact numbers, but reducing it to about a hundred thousand times lower than LD1 seems like it wouldn’t be excessive. If anyone’s got any data to provide a more exact number, feel free to chime in. Until then, I’m going with that hundred thousand times.

    Now, up to here I’ve only looked at one toxin at a time, so the last thing we need to address at this point is the actual combined toxicity. The mercury-lead combination was more toxic than either metal alone, as the linked paper demonstrated. However, combining those metals in a vaccine would somehow have to counteract a reduction in concentration of a hundred thousand times. In the linked paper, adding Lead made the Mercury as toxic at LD1 as though it were LD99, but keep in mind that while that’s a hundredfold increase in lethality, it’s also only a 75% increase in effective concentration. And that’s when the Lead concentration was LD1 as well, which is again VERY high. Logically, adding less Lead will reduce its effect on Mercury as well. So even if we went with a fairly pessimistic interpretation and go with the full 75% increase in effective Mercury concentration due to Lead interaction, we’d still need to make our vaccines somewhere around sixty five thousand times more contaminated with Mercury before we gave babies enough Mercury they risk dying from the vaccine.

    Now, this is obviously a very simplified explanation. I’ve only included one combination of heavy metals, changes in effective concentration likely aren’t linear much like the dose-toxicity isn’t, and the concentration of Mercury that’s dangerous but not deadly is obviously going to be lower than LD1. Still, having a safety margin in the thousands should show that Mercury contamination at least is not likely to cause any real concerns, especially when compared to more mundane risks like poor storage or transportation.

  51. #51 Max Ravazzolo
    United States
    February 7, 2017

    I read Italian… And it’s really a pity that such a number of people (calling them “scientists” would be of course out of place) with twisted ideas about what science is, can get relevance in a country that otherwise has produced fine researchers (just to name one, in this field, see Roberto Burioni). I feel like I should apologize for them…

  52. #52 Max Ravazzolo
    February 7, 2017

    Any case, an entry on the blog of the institution where Gatti and Montanari work reports the following papers published by the couple. I’m not capable to judge their consistency, but of course I was a little surprised…
    So, serching for http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=gatti+am
    seems to produce this:

    – The first investigative science-based evidence of Morgellons psychogenesis. Roncati L, Gatti AM, Pusiol T, Piscioli F, Barbolini G, Maiorana A. Ultrastruct Pathol. 2016 Jun 7:1-5. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27269255

    – A Novel Forensic Investigation Applied to Bone Remains Exhumed near to Quirra Interforce Firing Range. Roncati L, Gatti AM, Capitani F, Bonacorsi G, Barbolini G, Maiorana A. J Forensic Sci. 2016 May;61(3):858-861. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13016. Epub 2015 Dec 31. PMID: 27122433

    – The Uncontrolled Sialylation is Related to Chemoresistant Metastatic Breast Cancer. Roncati L, Barbolini G, Gatti AM, Pusiol T, Piscioli F, Maiorana A. Pathol Oncol Res. 2016 Apr 1. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27037559

    – Heavy Metal Bioaccumulation in an Atypical Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor of the Abdominal Wall. Roncati L, Gatti AM, Capitani F, Barbolini G, Maiorana A, Palmieri B. Ultrastruct Pathol. 2015;39(4):286-92. PMID: 26270725

    – ESEM Detection of Foreign Metallic Particles inside Ameloblastomato us Cells. Roncati L, Gatti AM, Pusiol T, Barbolini G, Maiorana A, Montanari S. Ultrastruct Pathol. 2015;39(5):329-35. doi: 10.3109/01913123.2015.1042608. Epub 2015 Jun 25. PMID: 26111111

    – Review: Morphofunctiona l and biochemical markers of stress in sea urchin life stages exposed to engineered nanoparticles. Gambardella C, Ferrando S, Gatti AM, Cataldi E, Ramoino P, Aluigi MG, Faimali M, Diaspro A, Falugi C. Environ Toxicol. 2015 May 30. doi: 10.1002/tox.22159. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 26031494

    – Acquired immunodeficienc y similar to Gulf War illness in a dead former serviceman. Roncati L, Gatti AM, Pusiol T, Barbolini G, Maiorana A. J R Army Med Corps. 2015 Jun;161(2):153-5. Doi: 10.1136/jramc-2014-000345. Epub 2014 Nov 26. PMID: 25428137

    – Carcinogenic potential of metal nanoparticles in BALB/3T3 cell transformation assay.
    Sighinolfi GL, Artoni E, Gatti AM, Corsi L. Environ Toxicol. 2016 May;31(5):509-19. doi: 10.1002/tox.22063. Epub 2014 Oct 30. PMID: 25358123

    – Toxic effects of colloidal nanosilver in zebrafish embryos. Olasagasti M, Gatti AM, Capitani F, Barranco A, Pardo MA, Escuredo K, Rainieri S. J Appl Toxicol. 2014 May;34(5):562-75. doi: 10.1002/jat.2975. Epub 2014 Jan 7. PMID: 24395442

    – Effects of nanosilver exposure on cholinesterase activities, CD41, and CDF/LIF-like expression in zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae. Myrzakhanova M, Gambardella C, Falugi C, Gatti AM, Tagliafierro G, Ramoino P, Bianchini P, Diaspro A. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:205183. doi:10.1155/2013/205183. Epub 2013 Aug 6. PMID: 23991412 Free PMC Article

    – Developmental abnormalities and changes in cholinesterase activity in sea urchin embryos and larvae from sperm exposed to engineered nanoparticles. Gambardella C, Aluigi MG, Ferrando S, Gallus L, Ramoino P, Gatti AM, Rottigni M, Falugi C. Aquat Toxicol. 2013 Apr 15;130-131:77-85. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2012.12.025. Epub 2013 Jan 16. PMID: 23376697

    – Allodynic skin in post-herpetic neuralgia: histological correlates. Buonocore M, Gatti AM, Amato G, Aloisi AM, Bonezzi C. J Cell Physiol. 2012 Mar;227(3):934-8. doi: 10.1002/jcp.22804. PMID: 21503891

    – Heavy metals nanoparticles in fetal kidney and liver tissues. Gatti AM, Bosco P, Rivasi F, Bianca S, Ettore G, Gaetti L, Montanari S, Bartoloni G, Gazzolo D. Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2011 Jan 1;3:221-6. PMID: 21196301

  53. #53 JD
    February 7, 2017

    @Viggen

    Do you actually not understand that EDS can’t tell you what minerals you’re looking at or did you just feel the compulsion to add minerals into table 2 in addition to the elements?

    Cheap shot, and not in the least bit true.

    It’s obvious that the vast majority of these aren’t minerals, and the few that are, are just coincidences. Taking a line from Table 2:

    SBa, FeCu, SiAl, FeSi, CaMgSi, AlCaSi, Ti, Au, SCa, SiAlFeSnCuCrZn, CaAlSi
    This is just a compact notation describing the relevant EDS peaks with a special consideration for heavy elements and aluminum; these are obviously not chemical formulas. Notice that they didn’t include oxygen or subscripts as any attempt to “mineralize” the data would require.

    Take SiAl, this is almost a mineral and just needs oxygen and subscripts. It’s obvious that this is just a nonformal way of summarizing the data. The commas separate the elements from each spectrograph. The only one that I saw after a quick glance that was actually a mineral was BaS.

  54. #54 Leigh Jackson
    February 7, 2017

    Signor Montanari is rather churlish. He had to pay for publication but not for the peer review here being supplied. He should be grateful to have all his many and serious mistakes brought to his attention, so as not to repeat them in future.

  55. #55 JD
    February 7, 2017

    Blockquote fail. I will repost for clarity.

    @Viggen

    Do you actually not understand that EDS can’t tell you what minerals you’re looking at or did you just feel the compulsion to add minerals into table 2 in addition to the elements?

    Cheap shot, and not in the least bit true.

    It’s obvious that the vast majority of these aren’t minerals, and the few that are, are just coincidences. Taking a line from Table 2:

    SBa, FeCu, SiAl, FeSi, CaMgSi, AlCaSi, Ti, Au, SCa, SiAlFeSnCuCrZn, CaAlSi
    This is just a compact notation describing the relevant EDS peaks with a special consideration for heavy elements and aluminum; these are obviously not chemical formulas. Notice that they didn’t include oxygen or subscripts as any attempt to “mineralize” the data would require.

    Take SiAl, this is almost a mineral and just needs oxygen and subscripts. It’s obvious that this is just a nonformal way of summarizing the data. The commas separate the elements from each spectrograph. The only one that I saw after a quick glance that was actually a mineral was BaS.

  56. #56 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    February 7, 2017

    herr docktor:

    In the 2004 “vena cava filter” paper (“Detection of micro- and nano-sized biocompatible particles in the blood”), the authors report

    “Generally, the particles show complex chemistries, containing also elements like gold, silver, cobalt, titanium, antimony, tungsten, wolfram, nickel, zinc, mercury and barium.”

    — they think that tungsten and wolfram are different elements, oh no, scary synergy!

    Oh my gosh, that is absolutely priceless! Talk about hanging one’s ignorance out in the air. “Wolfram” is, of course, why tungsten’s atomic symbol is “W”; I could understand not knowing that etymology, but using both words and not realizing they are the same thing in different languages beggars belief. How did they get to a level of expertise that gave them access to this equipment without having a reasonable familiarity with the periodic table?

  57. #57 herr doktor bimler
    February 7, 2017

    How did they get to a level of expertise that gave them access to this equipment without having a reasonable familiarity with the periodic table?

    As well as Gatti and Montanari, there are two or three names that sometimes appear as authors and are sometimes just acknowledged “for technical assistance”. It is amost as if someone else is doing the laboratory work.

  58. #58 Militant Agnostic
    February 7, 2017

    Calli Arcale @54

    How did they get to a level of expertise that gave them access to this equipment without having a reasonable familiarity with the periodic table?

    They probably think the periodic table is something that is used for tracking menstrual cycles.

  59. #59 DrRJM
    Oz
    February 8, 2017

    Every time I see something like this, I’m always reminded of the Thomas Dolby song “She Blinded Me With Science”.

    Unfortunately, the “common clay” out there just don’t have the time or the inclination to see through this baloney.

    Thanks Orac. You’re doing very important work.

  60. #60 herr doktor bimler
    February 8, 2017

    “Heavy metals nanoparticles in fetal kidney and liver tissues.”
    I had only read the abstract and it didn’t mention the size of the particles.

    That information does not appear in the paper.

    I should explain that “Frontiers of Bioscience” does not follow a conventional publishing model. There is no Editorial Board. The idea is that people contact them, offering to edit a Special Issue; it is then the responsibility of that pop-up editor to recruit contributors who are willing to pay the publication costs, and to supervise the process of peer-review. The role of the publisher is to sit back and collect payments from those rare people who want to read a paper or special issue. You might think that this sounds like a vanity press but I could not possibly comment.

    Anyway, the paper is about fetuses from 20-23-week abortions, i.e. late-second-trimester. Which is not something any mother undergoes from choice. We are assured that the mothers all signed consent for the use of the fetal bodies. All the same it seems rather cavalier and body-snatchy to be intruding on someone’s grief to obtain human remains for slicing and dicing, as part of a vague political-agenda-motivated fishing expedition.

    So these are late abortions, presumably for medical reasons; “neural-tube defects” in half the cases (which could be anything from spina bidifa to acephaly), but also, I guess, chromosomal abnormalities. We need details to make sense of this. We are promised details — “Table 1 shows the list of the analyzed cases” — but the actual Table 1 is completely different! A table got lost. This can happen to anyone, it is what peer revieweers are supposed to prevent.

    Medical details are important because one discovery that exercised the authors was the presence of calcium-phosphorus-iron inclusions in the liver and kidney samples… clearly xenobiotic in nature and proving “a different origin of the pollutants”. Meanwhile in the real world, fetal liver calcifications are not uncommon — “Studies have suggested association of calcifications with infection [9,11,12], circulatory compromise [2,13], and chromosomal abnormalities [2,4–6,8,9,14]”

    Then a closing section of the paper divulges the fact that “iii) all fetuses were dead at abortion procedure in absence of any respiratory activity.” Wait, what? This is kind of relevant information, which really warrants more prominence. What did they die of? “Respiratory activity”, are there no fetal heart monitors in Italy? How long had they been dead, were they known to be non-viable at the time that the procedure was approved? Perhaps all this information was present in the non-existent Table 1.

    The whole paper is ethically weird and intellectually squalid.

  61. #61 J
    February 8, 2017

    As far as I knew I was the only ‘J’ around these parts, and the one at 59 isn’t me (13, 46 and 50 is me). On the one hand I feel honored I’m noticeable enough to impersonate, on the other hand…

    …really? Doesn’t this bozo have better things to do?

  62. #62 MikeMa
    February 8, 2017

    MA@59. Cheap shot. I love it.

  63. […] Sorry. I couldn’t resist. I also couldn’t resist revisiting the topic of nanoparticles one last time. You remember nanoparticles? They’re the contaminant that poisons everything, at least if you believe two Italians, Antonietta Gatti and Stefano Montanari, who published a paper that purported to show that vaccines were hopelessly contaminated with heavy metal nanoparticles. (Hey, that would make a great name for a band.) Unfortunately for them, the study was a hopeless botch that lacked anything resembling proper controls, experimental design, replication, or statistical analysis. Montanari was not particularly happy at the criticism, which lead me to note that there was even more wrong with the paper than I had noticed before. […]

  64. […] A co-author of an antivax study attacks Orac for criticizing it. Hilarity ensues […]

  65. #65 Denice Walter
    February 8, 2017

    @ Militant Agnostic:

    ha ha.

  66. #66 Eric Lund
    February 8, 2017

    I should explain that “Frontiers of Bioscience” does not follow a conventional publishing model. There is no Editorial Board. The idea is that people contact them, offering to edit a Special Issue; it is then the responsibility of that pop-up editor to recruit contributors who are willing to pay the publication costs, and to supervise the process of peer-review. The role of the publisher is to sit back and collect payments from those rare people who want to read a paper or special issue. You might think that this sounds like a vanity press but I could not possibly comment.

    This sounds worse than a vanity press to me, because it involves a collaborator who should know better (the “guest editor”).

    One of the forms of spam I sometimes see in my inbox is invitations to guest edit an issue of some such journal (not this specific one, but others with titles having some plausible connection to my actual area of expertise). I’ve been treating such requests the way I treat spam generally. It seems my instinct to treat these e-mails as spam is correct.

  67. #67 Denice Walter
    February 8, 2017

    In other anti-vax news…

    Katie Wright ( AoA today) is bemoaning the fact that public complainers… I MEAN.. AFFECTED parties

    won’t be able to speak at IACC meetings in the future
    ( except for one )

    Now I wonder what- or who- led to that change in policy?

  68. #68 herr doktor bimler
    February 8, 2017

    trying to rebut my criticisms in two languages in an entry called Sono troppo forti per me.

    In the unlikely event of people tiring of Stefano Montanari’s combatative and self-aggrandising activities on his own blog, may I suggest that they turn their translation devices to “Vita al Microscopio”?
    http://www.vitalmicroscopio.net/

    In which a Roberta Doricchi repeatedly interviews Gatti, and more often Montanari, asking them sock-puppety leading questions — “Tell the readers about your latest discoveries!” “I hear you were showered with honours at a recent mockademic scamference?” “Why is the gubblement wasting money on these other research ventures like ‘autism and genetics’ when it should be investing in your own vital research?”

    It is embarrassing to look at and I feel sad.

  69. #69 herr doktor bimler
    February 9, 2017

    I didn’t know Grillo was an antivaxxer.

    Grillo belongs to the “My son is autistic, yet my sperm was perfect, therefore VACCINESDIDIT” subtype of antivaxxer.

  70. #70 Rebecca Fisher
    That London
    February 9, 2017

    @Denice – in other other anti-vax news, Jake has taken to changing my username to “Brian Deer” if I comment on his blog.
    🙂

  71. […] co-author of an antivax study attacks Orac for criticizing it. Hilarity ensues, Respectful Insolence am 7. Februar […]

  72. #72 Roberto Burioni
    February 10, 2017

    I am an Italian MD with the Chair of Microbiology at the Università San Raffaele Medical School, Milan.

    Since last May I engaged myself in divulgation of a correct information about vaccines, mainly with my Facebook page. Two days ago I was giving a speech in a school and I show some internet pages saying insane things about vaccines; one of them features the statements of Vanoli about omosexuality and vaccination.

    Well, I said “there is even a guy saying this” when I saw a hand raising from the audience saying “that’s me”. Vanoli was in the audience! He is real! You can not imagine what he started to say. He was almost kicked out of the conference room by the audience.

    Regarding Montanari, you will see in your site that I am one of his favourite targets: he accuses me of not being a scientist (I have a decent publication track in my field) but at the same time he offered me to co-write a book on HPV vaccination.

    Congratulations for this nice blog, keep up the good work.

  73. […] "l'innovazione" che Gatti & Montanari si comprano dagli spennapolli ha fatto notizia anche all'estero. Può darsi tuttavia che i loro business stiano sfiorendo. Sul sito del dott. Montanari, la […]