[Editorial update: I woke up this morning to find out that the answer to my question in the title is almost certainly yes. The post has been quickly altered to reflect that. See below.]

Believe it or not, I overlooked something in yesterday’s post about a putrefying, rotting mess of a “vaccinated versus unvaccinated” study carried out by an Andrew Wakefield fanboi named Anthony Mawson that purported to have found that vaccinated children have a much higher prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) and and diseases not preventable by vaccines than unvaccinated children. I’ll refer you to yesterday’s post for the details of what, exactly was wrong with the study: no well-defined population, no clear inclusion and exclusion criteria, no sampling frame, no power calculation, not attempt to account for obvious confounding factors, no verification of vaccination status or medical diagnoses, and more. Add to the horrendous methodological flaws in the study the fact that this study was funded by two antivaccine organizations and published in a bottom-feeding predatory open access journals, and you’re looking at a boatload of fail. Yet, none of this has stopped antivaccine groups from flogging this study as their Holy Grail of studies, a “vaxed/unvaxed” study that shows that unvaccinated children are healthier than vaccinated children.

So what did I overlook? Well, thanks to The Gnat (and if you don’t know who The Gnat is, just look at the comments of yesterday’s post) I realized that I missed half the fail. Here’s what I mean:

Yes, that’s the conspiracy crank site InfoWars, and yes InfoWars is eating this study up, interviewing Celeste McGovern, who is promoted as a “vaccine expert.” I had never heard of her before, but it turns out that she writes for Claire Dwoskin’s Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute (CMSRI), one of the two antivaccine groups that funded Mawson’s study. (The other was Generation Rescue.) As expected, she is antivaccine to the core.

What I learned, though, from following The Gnat’s link is that there was a second paper published in the very same bottom-feeding predatory open access journal by Mawson using the very same survey dataset, Preterm birth, vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders: a cross-sectional study of 6- to 12-year-old vaccinated and unvaccinated children. Clearly, Mawson believes in the concept of “minimal publishable unit” (or MPU, as we call it) in which you divide the data into as many papers as you can and still get manage to get published, hence his publishing two papers instead of one.

Amusingly, when I clicked on that link, I got a “not found” error message, but as of yesterday the paper was still in Google Cache, and I saved a copy for your edification. [LINK] This led me to check the link to the other paper, and guess what? It was gone yesterday, too. So I went to the Google Cache. I didn’t have to “save” it, though. Age of Autism is hosting it. Thanks, antivaccine cranks.

I was amused that the Journal of Translational Science appeared to have taken the papers down, perhaps retracting them. Wow. If being retracted by a Frontiers journal is a dis, this is the the black hole of dis. [UPDATE: Retractionwatch reports that both papers have indeed been retracted again.]

Of course, what matters is the quality of the study. I laughed as I typed the last sentence because, come on. It’s an analysis from the same dataset that spawned the first risibly incompetently awful study. When the dataset itself is this badly flawed, the best adage to apply is GIGO, or “garbage in, garbage out.” Also like the previous study, the authors tip their hand early, revealing their antivaccine viewpoint:

Preterm birth (defined as birth occurring before 37 completed weeks of gestation) is known as a major risk factor for neurodevelopmental deficits, including cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, cognitive and speech delays, motor deficits, and visual impairment associated with retinopathy of prematurity. In particular, preterm birth is the leading cause of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) and disability, including the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) [1- 3], but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Preterm infants receive the same doses of the recommended vaccines on the same schedule as term infants in order to protect them from several infections [4-7]. However, the possible role of vaccination in the development of NDD in premature infants has not been assessed, partly because pre-licensure clinical trials of pediatric vaccines have routinely excluded ex-preterm infants, and because of the assumed overall safety of vaccinations [8-15].

“Assumed overall safety of vaccinations”? If that isn’t a dead giveaway for antivaccine views, I don’t know what is, particularly after pointing out that preterm infants receive the same doses of vaccines that full term infants do. The authors also tip their hand later in the paper:

While the safety of vaccines is officially assured, observational studies have involved only a limited number of vaccines and vaccine ingredients, and none has reported on the long-term outcomes of the present vaccination schedule [39], which has been expanded and accelerated in recent decades [40]. The current childhood vaccination program now includes 48 doses of vaccines for 14 diseases from birth to age 6 years compared to 3 vaccinations for 7 diseases in the 1970s [41].

And here:

Since special efforts are made to vaccinate preterm infants, the effects of prematurity are difficult to separate from those of vaccination. Given the benefits of vaccination, it has not been thought necessary to do so. On the other hand, vaccine safety assessment in preterm infants is particularly important due to the frequency of adverse events associated with prematurity itself [21]. Adverse cardiorespiratory events including apnea, bradycardia and desaturations (oxygen saturation <90%) are well documented following vaccination in many preterm infants, yet vaccination is strongly recommended regardless of such events, since the prevention of infection is considered paramount.

of course, it’s also not true that vaccinating preterm infants is just “assumed” to be safe. There is a lot of evidence that it is safe (e.g., this recent study), which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vaccination of medically stable preterm infants on the same schedule as full-term infants based on chronological age. I also note that the studies cited by Mawson point out that the episodes of apnea, bradycardia, and oxygen desaturation sometimes seen after vaccination of preterm infants are transient, do not have serious consequences, and don’t have a detrimental impact on the infants’ clinical course.

This also appears to be another study without a clear hypothesis, just like the last one. The closest I could find to a hypothesis was at the end of the introduction, where the authors state that their purpose was:

This paper presents additional results of a survey designed to compare the health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated children educated at home, based on mothers’ anonymous reports on the birth histories and physician-diagnosed illnesses in their children. The analysis explores the possible role of vaccination in NDD among children born preterm.

So what is the hypothesis? That vaccines are dangerous to preterm infants? That seems to be about as specific a hypothesis as Mawson can come up with. In fairness, sometimes exploratory studies are a perfectly useful thing to do as a hypothesis-generating strategy, but this study is such a mess that it can’t really even be said to be doing that. In any case, I won’t dwell much on the methods, as I already discussed them in depth yesterday. All the issues about a biased sample of home schooled children, with the same confounders as before in being far less likely to vaccinate and veing likely to have significant differences in health-seeking behavior apply, as do the defect of relying solely on the responses of mothers without verifying diagnoses or vaccination status.

So, not surprisingly, this paper reports elevated prevalence of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders attributable to vaccination, with odds ratios in the range of 3.7 to 5.2 depending upon the specific NDD, with an odds ratio for any NDD of 3.7. Not surprisingly, they found that preterm birth was associated with an odds ratio of 4.9 attributable to preterm birth. Whew, right? If they hadn’t found that, it would have been the first study almost ever not to find a correlation between preterm birth and NDD, a finding so well accepted that not finding it would be a serious red flag.

Now here’s the kicker. Mawson et al claim to find that all of the risk of NDD in preterm infants is due to vaccination. Just sit back and chew on that for a while as I list their key findings (if you can call them that):

  1. Preterm birth without vaccination (P/V-) was not associated with NDD.
  2. Term birth with vaccination (P-/V) was associated with a significant 2.7-fold increase in the odds of NDD.
  3. Preterm birth with vaccination (P/V) was associated with a significant 5.4-fold increase in the odds of NDD compared to the odds of NDD given term birth and vaccination (P-/V).
  4. Preterm birth with vaccination (P/V) was associated with a nonsignificant 12.3-fold increased odds of NDD compared to preterm birth without vaccination (P/V-) (not technically significant because no child in the sample with an NDD was both preterm and unvaccinated).
  5. Preterm birth with vaccination (P/V) was associated with a significant 14.5-fold increased odds of NDD compared to being neither preterm nor vaccinated (P-/V-).

And there’s your huge red flag. This study is claiming to have found that there is no increased risk of NDD associated with preterm birth in unvaccinated infants, a finding so out of whack with a huge existing body of evidence linking preterm birth to elevated risk of NDD that it’s hard to believe. Then, in vaccinated children, preterm birth is a risk factor for NDD, with an odds ratio of 5.4. This is a result that, quite simply, does not make sense. The combination of these findings represents one reason why these results are suspect. Another reason why they’re suspect is small numbers. There were, for example, zero preterm infants who were unvaccinated with an NDD and only 8 infants who were not preterm who were vaccinated. Another problem is that Mawson does five pairwise comparisons but does not correct for multiple comparisons as he should have. At least one of the p-values would cease to be significant and another would be borderline statistically significant.

Based on gruel as thin or thinner than the first report, Mawson plunges deep into antivaccine speculation, suggesting that that preterm birth and vaccination are synergistic in causing NDDs and even speculating—without evidence—on a mechanism. He goes way beyond our reality, and not in a good way:

While additional studies are needed to verify and explain the present findings, a tentative hypothesis of the mechanisms linking preterm birth and vaccination with NDD is outlined as follows. Receipt of one or more vaccines could precipitate NDD in some preterm infants by exacerbating a preexisting inflammatory state associated with prematurity, leading to hepatic encephalopathy and hypoxic-ischemic brain damage. Impaired liver function is a predisposing factor for preterm birth [54,55] and the latter is associated with increased risks of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury [56]. A possible biochemical basis for vaccination-associated NDD in preterm infants could involve the spillage of a membranolytic biliary metabolite from the maternal liver into the circulation and its transfer to the fetus, contributing thereby to the pathogenesis of preterm birth itself [55] and possibly being further increased to neurotoxic concentrations by the impact of vaccination on the infant’s liver. Consistent with this hypothesis, liver dysfunction is reported as an adverse effect of vaccination [57] and as a feature of children with autism [58,59]. Furthermore, hyperbilirubinemia is associated with hypoxic-ischemic brain damage [60] and is a feature of the preterm infant as well as children with later-onset cognitive disorders and ASD [61,62].

This is nothing more than technobabble. For those of you not familiar with what that is, it’s a concept taken from Star Trek, particularly Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which technical-sounding verbiage is used to describe the solution or explanation of scientific, medical, or engineering problem. It’s also a wonderful example of how antivaxers start relating multiple biologic phenomena and observations together as an overall explanation for how autism and other NDDs could be caused by vaccines. Never mind that there is no good evidence that autism is caused by vaccines. Certainly Mawson’s two papers do not constitute anything resembling good evidence that vaccines cause autism.

I can’t help but be amused that these two papers have apparently been retracted (although I hasten to add that the only evidence that they have been retracted is that they no longer appear on the OAT journal website and that OAT has issued no statement that I am aware of at this time). I also can’t help but feel extremely pleasurable schadenfreude, because retraction by an even worse predatory journal than a Frontiers journal is a fate that Mawson richly deserves for conducting two such horrible studies at the behest of antivaccine activists. I also suspect that OAT will probably never issue a statement. Why? For a predatory journal to be able to keep fleecing its marks, it can’t have a lot of attention directed at how awful one of its papers is, regardless of how crappy all of its other papers are. When one paper is unlucky enough to attract attention (or two papers), better for the article to disappear. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy than Mawson, with the exception of Andrew Wakefield and any number of other antivaccine-sympathetic “scientists.”

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Hickie
    May 9, 2017

    From the “Submission, Review & Decision” page of the OAT web site:

    Submissions to OA Text must meet the following requirements to be considered for publication:
    …..Feature Prospective, Broad area of research, Rigorous methodology, Adequate evidence for its conclusions.

    Maybe these two “papers” were retracted because someone at OAT finally realized there was no rigorous methodology and completely inadequate evidence for its conclusion.

  2. #2 Dorit Reiss
    May 9, 2017

    A. Thank you for going through that.

    B. Can one of you scientists explain to me how the paper could draw any conclusions about a category that has zero people in it?

  3. #3 Chris Preston
    May 9, 2017

    Maybe these two “papers” were retracted because someone at OAT finally realized there was no rigorous methodology and completely inadequate evidence for its conclusion.

    More likely because they don’t want their marks to know what a predatory journal they are. Embarrassing papers aren’t retracted, they are just disappeared.

  4. #4 Chris Preston
    May 9, 2017

    Can one of you scientists explain to me how the paper could draw any conclusions about a category that has zero people in it?

    They all got lost on the way to the study?

  5. #5 J
    May 9, 2017

    “Preterm birth with vaccination (P/V) was associated with a nonsignificant 12.3-fold increased odds of NDD compared to preterm birth without vaccination (P/V-) (not technically significant because no child in the sample with an NDD was both preterm and unvaccinated).”

    Wow. I mean, you can do some pretty spectacular things with statistics, but at some point I’d be a bit suspicious if you statistically compare groups and one of the groups to be compared is *completely absent*? Non-significant my ass.

    On the other hand, if the NDD incidence rate is 12.3-fold greater due to vaccination… 12.3 times zero is still zero, so vaccines are perfectly safe! Strange they don’t mention that…

  6. #6 Orac
    May 9, 2017

    I forgot to mention that in Table 5, it’s mentioned that the author added 0.5 to the zeros, apparently so that he wouldn’t be dividing by zero. I kid you not. Check out the paper for yourselves. Ren, this one is for you. If anything, the second paper is even worse than the first.

  7. #7 MI Dawn
    May 9, 2017

    @Orac: I’ve read the segment you quoted “While additional studies are needed…” several times, and man. I’m sitting here shaking my head. I want some of what that man was smoking.

    A possible biochemical basis for vaccination-associated NDD in preterm infants could involve the spillage of a membranolytic biliary metabolite from the maternal liver into the circulation and its transfer to the fetus, contributing thereby to the pathogenesis of preterm birth itself [55] and possibly being further increased to neurotoxic concentrations by the impact of vaccination on the infant’s liver.

    I’ve been in medicine a long time, worked as a midwife and had a lot of training and never came across THAT idea.

    Can’t wait to hear what AOA has to say about the paper vanishing. Must be the power of the pharma shills! We rock! (Now, where are all my darn pharma bux? They keep telling me the check is in the mail.)

  8. #8 herr doktor bimler
    May 9, 2017

    they no longer appear on the OAT journal website and that OAT has issued no statement that I am aware of at this time

    Retractionwatch:

    A representative of the Journal of Translational Science told us “Pilot comparative study on the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated 6- to 12-year-old U.S. children” has been retracted, and it will update us with an explanation.

    • #9 Orac
      May 9, 2017

      Translation: The check bounced. But what about the second paper?

  9. #10 Lawrence
    May 9, 2017

    This whole experience has summed up the anti-vax mindset completely.

    When rigorous vaccine safety studies are done, involving hundreds of thousands of children & they find no link between autism & vaccines, the science is bad (or bought).

    When a study is published which is basically nothing more than a unverified internet survey, but it says vaccines are bad, anti-vaxers tout it as the greatest piece of science on the planet.

    It seems that literally nothing is bad enough for them to accept……as long as it tells them what they want to hear.

  10. #11 Chris Preston
    Australia
    May 9, 2017

    Wow. I mean, you can do some pretty spectacular things with statistics, but at some point I’d be a bit suspicious if you statistically compare groups and one of the groups to be compared is *completely absent*

    This was one of my favourite moments of the study. I think it neatly encapsulated how crapstacular the whole performance was.

    Not that the gnat or any of the other anti-vaxxer ‘scientists’ will see it that way. But that is why they will only ever be pretend scientists.

    I think Lawrence above has summed it up as succinctly as anyone.

    It seems that literally nothing is bad enough for them to accept……as long as it tells them what they want to hear.

  11. #12 herr doktor bimler
    May 9, 2017

    Please to admire the Author Affiliation information in the Preterm paper:

    Anthony R Mawson 1*, Azad Bhuiyan 2, Binu Jacob 1 and Brian D Ray 1
    1 Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Jackson State University, 350 West Woodrow Wilson Avenue, Jackson,
    Mississippi 39213, USA
    2 Associate Professor, School of Public Health, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS 39213, USA
    3 Former graduate student, School of Public Health, Jackson State University, 350 West Woodrow Wilson Avenue, Jackson, Mississippi 39213, USA
    4 President, National Home Education Research (NHERI), P.O. Box 13939, Salem, OR 97309; USA

    Affiliations 3 and 4 are just sitting there; where is the author who is NHERI President? Where is the Former Graduate Student?

  12. #13 herr doktor bimler
    May 9, 2017

    A possible biochemical basis for vaccination-associated NDD in preterm infants could involve the spillage of a membranolytic biliary metabolite from the maternal liver into the circulation and its transfer to the fetus, contributing thereby to the pathogenesis of preterm birth itself [55] and possibly being further increased to neurotoxic concentrations by the impact of vaccination on the infant’s liver.

    This is part of Mawon’s Vitamin-toxicity idee fixe. The putative “membranolytic biliary metabolite” oozing into the mother’s circulation, causing prematurity and brain damage when it crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain. is Vitamin A (and its esters). Mawson spells this out in more detail in Ref 55, a previous publication in the Journal of Transactional Studies.
    https://oatext.com/pdf/JTS-2-133.pdf

  13. #14 Chris Hickie
    May 9, 2017

    From the informational notices for each paper:

    Mawson article #1: Received: March 22, 2017; Accepted: April 21, 2017; Published: April 24, 2017

    Mawson article #2: Received: March 22, 2017; Accepted: April 21, 2017; Published: April 24, 2017

    Gotta love that one-month peer review process for papers that are so at odds scientific consensus.

  14. #15 Panacea
    May 9, 2017

    @ Chris #4: a funny thing happened on the way to the study . . .

    @MI Dawn #7: I’ll pass on what ever these guys are smoking. Clearly all it does is bring on the stupid in a oh so painful way.

    Mawson et al completely ignore the fact that there are multiple causes of hyperbilirubinemia in infants, preterm or not. Granted, the condition tends to be worse in preemies. But you can’t contend that vaccines could produce some metabolite (and what the hell he’s talking about I can’t quite figure out) without controlling for the OTHER causes of hyperbilirubinemia, like Rh incompatibilities, birth trauma, or just plain old breast feeding (even if the baby can’t suck at the breast, he can always get pumped milk from mom, and that’s something highly encouraged).

    Not to mention the fact bilirubin doesn’t have shiite to do with Vitamin A.

  15. #16 Helianthus
    May 9, 2017

    @ herr doktor bimler

    Where is the Former Graduate Student?

    On his first day at work, he muttered something about having to go ironing his dog, and then was last seen.exiting the School of Public Health, running away as fast as possible.

  16. #17 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    May 9, 2017

    In my opinion, retracting medical papers into oblivion is similar to burning books; it’s barbaric and counter productive.

    History shows that the suppression of information is ignorant.

    @ Orac,

    Thanks for allowing these retracted medical papers to live-in- infamy at Respectful Insolence.

  17. #18 doug
    May 9, 2017

    … the author added 0.5 to the zeros …

    That’s perfectly cromulent arithmetic for rounding pre-term infants. If, for example, you have an infant quantized at 0.7 full-term equivalent and want to round it to the appropriate integer using a simple truncating method, you add 0.5 and truncate the resulting 1.2 to 1. It’s all so much more convenient than proper methods for handling those pesky exceptions.

    To me, this is a pretty strong indication that numbers were simply shoved up some analysis package by persons with absolutely no understanding of what the output means. It should lead to heads hung in extreme embarrassment, if not an afternoon stuck through the pillories on The Quadrangle of Shame – with the “peer reviewers” and the publisher waiting in the wagon for their turns, while the horse provide the flingables for the crowd.

  18. #19 brian
    May 9, 2017

    there was a second paper published in the very same bottom-feeding predatory open access journal by Mawson

    Andrew Wakefield claimed during a QuaxXed Q&A that there were twovaxxed-unvaxxed studies waiting in the wings, and, as I recall, he expressed his hope that they would be “worthy of publication.”

    I suppose that that means that there’s not another “independent” vaxxed-unvaxxed study out there, and that we can expect these two retracted articles to be submitted to even less-reputable bottom-feeding journals. Apparently, it’s all they’ve got.

  19. #20 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    May 9, 2017

    …an afternoon stuck through the pillories on The Quadrangle of Shame – with the “peer reviewers” and the publisher waiting in the wagon for their turns, while the horse provide the flingables for the crowd.

    I am still giggling over this, and will be looking for every chance to use it in my own daily life.

    +1 internet for you, sir.

  20. #21 Ren
    May 9, 2017

    “Ren, this one is for you. If anything, the second paper is even worse than the first.”

    Geez. So they made up data. That’s not even imputation. That’s outright fraud, intent or not. I’m definitely going to have to break it down some more from the epi POV.

  21. #22 MI Dawn
    May 9, 2017

    @Panacea: re: hyperbilirubinemia of the newborn: I know, right? Especially as I’m the mother of AB+ and A+ children (Yes, I’m B+) and they both were a lovely shade of yellow by 3 days of age. And I was a superb cow. Tons of milk from day 2 onwards, and I was of the “give them a damn bottle of SOMETHING” after nursing from the get-go until then. Definitely no Vitamin A deficiency. Oh, and by the way…they were both “premature – 36+6 and 35+6 weeks at birth, respectively. Fully vaccinated, no autism.

  22. #23 Eric Lund
    May 9, 2017

    That’s perfectly cromulent arithmetic for rounding pre-term infants. If, for example, you have an infant quantized at 0.7 full-term equivalent and want to round it to the appropriate integer using a simple truncating method, you add 0.5 and truncate the resulting 1.2 to 1. It’s all so much more convenient than proper methods for handling those pesky exceptions.

    In short, the kind of math where 2 + 2 = 5 for sufficiently large values of 2.

  23. #24 Eric Lund
    May 9, 2017

    Affiliations 3 and 4 are just sitting there; where is the author who is NHERI President? Where is the Former Graduate Student?

    My guess is that the affiliations should have been 1, 2, 3, and 4 in that order. Either that, or Jackson State University has really low standards to have given full professorships to three of those authors, not just Dr. Mawson.

  24. #25 Thorn in your side
    May 9, 2017

    #14 “Gotta love that one-month peer review process for papers that are so at odds scientific consensus.”

    You guys can bloviate all you want about vaccine safety there is no consensus of the vaccine schedule VS children not on the schedule. We have NO FUCKING CLUE. An ALL of you fucking know it. Its just a matter of time. your paradigm is eroding.

    All we know right now are our kids are sick with chronic diseases and nobody has god damn clue why. Bad genes bad germs bad luck. Is the establishments answer. STFU already Do you really think people believe that? uninformed ones maybe

    A study out of China is the first to test the effects of immune activation by vaccination (hep B/BCG) on brain development in rats. Results indicate vaccines containing an aluminum adjuvant (i.e., hep B) spike cytokine levels in the hippocampus region of the brain, in particular the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), the key cytokine known for its dysregulating effect on neuronal circuitry and the key cytokine implicated in autism.
    Patterson and his team built on the work led by Carlos Pardo at Johns Hopkins, which discovered “neural inflammation” in postmortem examination of brains of patients with autism. Strangely, these autistic patients did not die due to any infections that would have caused the inflammation.

    This research was the first to suggest “an ongoing, permanent immune-system activation in the brains of autistic people.”

    In 2007 Patterson took this research further, publishing a study that found the culprit of this chronic brain inflammation — cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6).

    Cytokines are cell signaling molecules that aid cell to cell communication, stimulating the movement of cells toward sites of inflammation, infection, and trauma.

  25. #26 Panacea
    May 9, 2017

    MJD: It’s not censorship to retract bad papers that never should have been published in the first place, particularly if the results are fraudulent. Such papers are not information, they are lies, and as such should not be associated with reputable journals.

    It would be censorship if the government were the one to suppress the article, true or not. As is, it can sit on AoA’s website where it does them little real good.

    @MI Dawn: wow. ABO incompatibilites are actually kinda rare; even when the blood types are not technically compatible, I haven’t often seen it actually cause a problem. Good thing, too, considering there is no equivilent of RhoGAM for that.

  26. #27 Ren
    May 9, 2017

    “I haven’t often seen it actually cause a problem.”

    Au contraire, mon ami. ABO incompatibilities are the biggest source of fetal demise, even more so than the Rh complex. But…
    But they’re generally less severe. The reason they’re the biggest nowadays is because you can give anti-Rh gamma globulin (Rhogam) to a woman if the father is Rh positive and the mother is Rh negative. Not so much with the ABO complex.
    Yeah, I could cite you a paper or two, but I’m feeling lazy. I just took this bit of knowledge from my days as a blood banking tech at a hospital. My, those were the days. When I knew antivaxxers could run; I didn’t know they could fly.

  27. #28 Ren
    May 9, 2017

    ….And I just realized I wrote the same thing you wrote, Panacea. Just differently.

    Sigh. I need more coffee.

    Writing doctoral dissertations is hard.

  28. #29 Dick
    A2
    May 9, 2017

    Adding 0.5 is actually a valid continuity adjustment…for chi-square tests. Odds ratio is not chi-square.
    That odds ratio (unvaccinated preterm versus vaccinated preterm) was also underpowered to a cringe-worthy degree. If we take the estimated odds for the vaccinated preterm group to be the true odds for that group, then there is a 15% chance of getting 0 unvaccinated preterms with NDD even if the true odds ratio was as high as 5.

    Finally, studies that don’t use randomization must face scrutiny for the possibility of Simpson’s paradox. An example: we have two groups of parents. The much larger group vaccinate all their children but homeschool only the ones with NDD (because their local school system doesn’t provide adequate accomodation), while the smaller group vaccinate their children at a lower rate and homeschool all their children. All non-NDD individuals come from the second group and their vaccination rate is low. The vast majority of NDD individuals come from the first group and as a result, the NDD group as a whole has a high vaccination rate. An association is detected, but that is due to combining dissimilar populations instead of a causal relationship.
    Possible adjustment to survey design: ask parents why they homeschool their kid(s) and categorize accordingly.

    Of course there’s the whole not confirming diagnosis thing, but Orac explains the problem better than I can.

  29. #30 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    May 9, 2017

    @MJD:

    In my opinion, retracting medical papers into oblivion is similar to burning books; it’s barbaric and counter productive.

    How is the retraction of badly flawed work “barbaric”? As to it being counterproductive, are you kidding me?

    History shows that the suppression of information is ignorant.

    How is the retraction of papers with fundamental flaws in their methods and analysis “suppression of information”?
    You’re just throwing out platitudes and ignoring that in this context they are straw man arguments.

  30. #31 Rich Woods
    May 9, 2017

    @Eric Lund #24:

    My guess is that the affiliations should have been 1, 2, 3, and 4 in that order.

    It’s another indicator of their ability to use numbers.

  31. #32 rs
    May 9, 2017

    “your paradigm is eroding”

    The correct term is inflation. A paradigm is now only worth a nickel. But your thoughts are worth less, not even the proverbial penny.

  32. #33 Denice Walter
    May 9, 2017

    re the Gnat. the Gnat’s comments. the Gnat’s site, Autis Investigated, etc.

    Thanks, Orac, for the best laughs I’ve had in a LONG TIME.

  33. #34 Denice Walter
    May 9, 2017

    @ Ren:

    Wow, you’re at that point already!
    Great.
    Now if ONLY, you’d engage with the aforesaid Gnat directly.

  34. #35 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    May 9, 2017

    A paradigm is now only worth a nickel.

    Shirley a pair-o-dime is worth 20¢….

  35. #36 Eric Lund
    May 9, 2017

    @rs: As Sam Goldwyn once said: “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

  36. #37 herr doktor bimler
    May 9, 2017

    no increased risk of NDD associated with preterm birth in unvaccinated infants, a finding so out of whack with a huge existing body of evidence linking preterm birth to elevated risk of NDD that it’s hard to believe.

    And some of that existing body of evidence dates back to the 1970s — a time when (Mawson tells us) the risk of NDD from vaccines was less because of the lighter schedule.

    I am not sure that he has entirely thought through his logic.

  37. #38 Politicalguineapig
    May 9, 2017

    MJD: Basically what everyone else said. The point of the article is that the papers contained no actual information and were pure garbage. Medical journals get in a lot of trouble for publishing garbage studies- remember the Lancet and Wakefield?- so if it looks like a study was done improperly, they aren’t going to publish it.

  38. #39 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    May 9, 2017

    @ Julian Frost (#30),

    Retraction without unanimous consent of the author(s) is “barbaric”, in my opinion.

    If an author(s) and publisher agreed to put the information in the public domain it should stay in the public domain. Unless, the author(s) unanimously agree to retraction.

    When authors rule publishers drool.

  39. #40 rs
    May 9, 2017

    “I am not sure that he has entirely thought through his logic.”

    Logic is no help when the premise is wrong. You end up correctly generating false theorems.

  40. #41 herr doktor bimler
    May 9, 2017

    Chris Hickie
    Mawson article #1: Received: March 22, 2017; Accepted: April 21, 2017; Published: April 24, 2017
    Mawson article #2: Received: March 22, 2017; Accepted: April 21, 2017; Published: April 24, 2017
    Gotta love that one-month peer review process for papers that are so at odds scientific consensus.

    One of Jeffrey Beall’s commenters left this report:

    Hemalal says:
    November 3, 2016 at 7:09 AM

    Oatext is owned by Navaneeth Reddy and his partner Khalid Mohammad. He worked with omics company and then left and started OATEXT.
    He is managing the company under the name Research Wallet, which is nothing but a veil. Heres the company link http://researchwallet.com/
    His brother is in UK, where he has registered the company. He traps other scholars and ask them to help him attract submissions. An employee informed me that he does not allow articles to go for review. Once article is received, the employees are required to inform him. Later, he asks them to accept it after few days to make author understand that the time is being used for review process.
    He is fake like omics. Money maker thats it.

  41. #42 Christine Rose
    May 9, 2017

    @38

    “If an author(s) and publisher agreed to put the information in the public domain it should stay in the public domain. Unless, the author(s) unanimously agree to retraction.”

    The information is still in the public domain. Orac has it for example. The authors can stick it on their blog or whatever. The publisher has no obligation to keep publishing anything unless the author has a contract that says they must.

  42. #43 Panacea
    May 9, 2017

    Ren: no worries. What you said was what I was trying to say, much more coherently.

  43. #44 JustaTech
    May 9, 2017

    I noticed that the paper does not say what statistical software was used to do these calculations. Which makes me think that the statistical software completely froze when asked to calculate odds ratios with a 0 denominator, so the authors did the calculations by hand.

    I’m amusing myself imagining STATA or SAS or R saying “I’m sorry Anthony, I can’t do that.”

  44. #45 herr doktor bimler
    May 9, 2017

    More likely because they don’t want their marks to know what a predatory journal they are. Embarrassing papers aren’t retracted, they are just disappeared.

    Professor Mawson is in the difficult position now that a copy of the Frontiers version of his paper has been posted on various antivax websites (perhaps he circulated it for comment and the recipients ignored the request for confidentiality). So although *he* has not published that previous version, it is out there all the same, showing up on plagiarism scanners, and no real publisher will want to touch his work.

    That in itself might give OAText enough excuse to unpublish the papers now they have Mawson’s money.

  45. #46 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    May 9, 2017

    So…”In a study of 1000 single men, 1000 were unmarried bachelors, while .5 were married bachelors. Therefore, the ratio of unmarried bachelors to married bachelors is 2000/1.” have I got the sophistimacated statistics down properly?

  46. #47 Kathy
    United States
    May 9, 2017

    Oh wow, you had the same idea as me, with the meme, only I posted three days ago. Dare I think that great minds think alike (putting my mind and yours in that category)?

    Or, I could suppose it is just a pretty obvious conclusion to make, that the study was an epic fail. LOL

    https://vaccinesworkblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/06/why-this-vaxed-v-unvaxed-study-is-not-valid/

  47. #48 Derek Freyberg
    NorCal
    May 9, 2017

    @JustaTech (#43):
    ‘I’m amusing myself imagining STATA or SAS or R saying “I’m sorry Anthony, I can’t do that.”’
    Let’s try a tiny edit, from the movie 2001:
    ‘I’m amusing myself imagining STATA or SAS or R saying “I’m sorry Anthony, I can’t let you do that.”’

  48. #49 Craig Thomas
    May 9, 2017

    This anti-vaxx stuff is a lot like religious literalism – it keeps trying to butt its head against reality and coming up short.

  49. #50 Narad
    May 9, 2017

    Cytokines are cell signaling molecules that aid cell to cell communication, stimulating the movement of cells toward sites of inflammation, infection, and trauma.

    Well, that didn’t take long.

  50. #51 Panacea
    May 9, 2017

    Narad, are you saying Mawson plagiarized?

  51. #52 Narad
    May 9, 2017

    ^ I find it pretty amusing that this brain trust* “thinks” the Caltech magazine Engineering & Science is a “journal,” though.

    * Hi, Bradley!

  52. #53 Narad
    May 9, 2017

    Narad, are you saying Mawson plagiarized?

    No, shiny new commenter “Thorn in your side” barfed up half a plate of copypasta.

  53. #54 JustaTech
    May 9, 2017

    And our new commenter doesn’t seem to know that the BCG isn’t even given in the US.
    Oy.

  54. #55 Narad
    May 9, 2017

    The information is still in the public domain.

    Technically, JTS was/is using CC BY 4.0, so not quite public domain.

  55. #56 Narad
    May 9, 2017

    ^ Which is not to say that MJD’s comment was not utterly brain dead.

  56. #57 Chris Preston
    May 9, 2017

    No, shiny new commenter “Thorn in your side” barfed up half a plate of copypasta.

    This is the actual source copied from by Thorn in your side. But it seems that Jeff Roberts copied from other places.

  57. #58 Chris Preston
    Australia
    May 9, 2017

    Professor Mawson is in the difficult position now that a copy of the Frontiers version of his paper has been posted on various antivax websites (perhaps he circulated it for comment and the recipients ignored the request for confidentiality). So although *he* has not published that previous version, it is out there all the same, showing up on plagiarism scanners, and no real publisher will want to touch his work.

    My guess is that Mawson gave the paper to these people to use. His chances of getting it accepted by a real publisher were minimal in any case, but there are more bottom feeder pay to play publishers out there Jornal of Dentistry, Medicine and Medicinal Sciences clearly needs more papers and at $450 per manuscript is clearly a steal.

    Mawson’s biggest problem is going to be how much does he want to spend to get these papers published?

    That in itself might give OAText enough excuse to unpublish the papers now they have Mawson’s money.

    It is a mistake to assume that OAText will apply any ethical consideration to what it publishes. The only concern is keeping the cash rolling in.

  58. #59 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    May 9, 2017

    …but there are more bottom feeder pay to play publishers out there…

    There’s that place MJD used for his last. I think they charged $800, maybe $850, and they had 1 or 2 day turn-around from submittal, past review, to “publish”. You can’t argue with that kind of service.

  59. #60 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    May 10, 2017

    I was going to respond to MJD’s response #38 to me, but Christine Rose already pointed out the gaping hole in his logic.

  60. […] he appears to have divided the study up two minimal publishable units and had them published as two papers in a bottom-feeding predatory open access journal even lower on the food chain that the first, […]

  61. #63 Narad
    May 10, 2017

    So, “Vaccine Papers” is Jeff Roberts?

    No, it’s Dan “Vapor Genie” Steinberg, formerly “ddanimal” at AoA.

  62. #64 Robert L Bell
    May 10, 2017

    #2 @Dorit Reiss

    Techniques for the reconstruction of so-called “missing data” have become wonderfully sophisticated in some fields.

  63. #65 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    May 10, 2017

    Retraction of an article, and Orac’s respectful insolence thereafter, could severely damage an authors reputation and future earning capabilities.

    If authors pay an open-access journal to publish their article and the publisher retracts it without the authors consent, could the authors sue the publisher for defamation of character?

  64. #66 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    May 10, 2017

    Retraction of an article, and Orac’s respectful insolence thereafter, could severely damage an authors reputation and future earning capabilities.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. Someone doing shoddy work deserves to loose.

    If authors pay an open-access journal to publish their article and the publisher retracts it without the authors consent, could the authors sue the publisher for defamation of character?

    I’m sure Dorit will correct me if I’m wrong, I would think that as long as the publisher refunded the fee, there would be no grounds for a lawsuit.

    If they keep the money, it would probably come down to the terms and conditions agreed to in advance. What did your agreement with your pay-to-play publisher say?

    • #67 Dorit Reiss
      May 10, 2017

      Theoretically, whether there is any lawsuit would depend on the terms of the contract. But if they refund the fee, it’s likely not worth suing.

  65. #68 Se Habla Espol
    May 10, 2017

    If authors pay an open-access journal to publish their article and the publisher retracts it without the authors consent, could the authors sue the publisher for defamation of character?

    Of course. You can sue anyone for anything at anytime. For suits like your hypothetical, though, it’s best to be prepared to be declared a vexatious litigant as a consequence.

    • #69 Dorit Reiss
      May 10, 2017

      #Johnny – sorry, I missed the context of the question. I thought you’re asking about the refund alone. That’s a contractual question. Defamation would be an independent claim, and doesn’t depend on refund. Defamation would be tricky. You’d have to show they said something false that hurts your reputation. Just retracting a paper for professional reasons isn’t defamation. So it would depend what the reason the journal gave was, and it would have to be pretty strong.

  66. #70 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    May 11, 2017

    I looked at the OA web site, and they don’t cover what happens in the case of retraction. The say the fee is due after the “peer review”, and prior to publication, but nothing about refunds.

  67. #71 Narad
    May 11, 2017

    Theoretically, whether there is any lawsuit would depend on the terms of the contract. But if they refund the fee, it’s likely not worth suing.

    Again, this was the CC-BY-4.0 license. The “publisher” holds no rights even to the typeset document. Contrast with the case in which one signs a copyright transfer, maybe pays page charges, and is still vulnerable to retraction.

  68. #72 Narad
    May 11, 2017

    ^ Um, Mawson, that is. I didn’t realize that I had waded into the MJD swamp.

  69. #73 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    May 11, 2017

    Narad (#71) writes,

    I didn’t realize that I had waded into the MJD swamp.

    MJD says,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t Orac recently retract an unfortunate comment you made recently about Dr. Burzynski?

    One satisfaction of being in the “MJD swamp” (i.e., auto moderation) is that a retraction by Orac is 99.999% improbable.

    Come on in Narad, the “MJD swamp” water has healing properties. 🙂

  70. […] but it’s been one of those weeks where basically discussing the antivaccine movement has taken over. Sometimes when that happens, I just go with the flow. Besides, there really is one more story […]

  71. #75 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    May 17, 2017

    Jake, in a (not at all) timely post, has a new screed up, consisting, as usual these days, of massive amounts of Copy Pasta and just a sprinkling of original content. Who should get the lion’s share of writing credit for today’s AI post? Scroll up for the answer. Way far up.

  72. #76 Narad
    May 18, 2017

    “Nuclear organism” is some strong words coming from a person who could count a case of the crabs as a moral victory.

  73. […] a truly awful survey masquerading as a “study” had risen from the dead once again as two publications in a notorious bottom-feeding predatory “open access” journal after having […]

  74. #78 Commenter
    May 18, 2017

    What is playing in the background at 0:27 in the video?

  75. […] Respectful Insolence: A boatload of fail: Were two horrendously bad zombie “vaxed/antivaxed” studies retracted—again… […]

  76. […] the the Dwoskins that are being flogged by the antivaccine movement right now are such execrably, risibly bad science. The studies were published in a bottom-feeding, predatory “open access” pay-to-publish […]

  77. […] of fail: Were two horrendously bad zombie “vaxed/antivaxed” studies retracted – again? Respectful Insolence am 9. Mai […]

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