As I looked over the ol' blog last night, I was shocked to realize that I haven't blogged about the antivaccine movement and its offenses against science in nearly three weeks. That's right! The last time I did a vaccine post was when I examined a particularly egregiously bad paper from a couple of scientists who have drunk deeply of the antivaccine Kool Aid and as a result are trying to blame the HPV vaccine Gardasil for the death of an 18-year-old woman in Australia and a 14-year-old girl in Quebec. It's amazing but true. Rarely do I go that long without antivaccine pseudoscience attracting my attention enough to write about it. I don't know if this was a record, but it must be close.
Don't get me wrong, though. I didn't consciously go out and look for antivaccine pseudoscience to blog about. (I rarely have to.) Rather, I noticed a disturbance in the antivaccine force as my Google alerts started spitting out references to a new paper that antivaccinationists seem to like. In particular, homeopath Heidi Stevenson of Gaia Health really appears to like it, as she featured a rather long post on it on Friday. It's an article that comes from, of all places, MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, with two of its authors, Stephanie Seneff and Jingjing Liu, hailing from there, while the other author, Robert M. Davidson, appears to be a private practice internist affiliated with PhyNet, Inc. in Texas. It's a rather odd combination in that one would not expect an internist to know very much about autism, and one would expect that researchers devoted to spoken language systems and natural language processing (Jinjing Liu) and a Senior Research Scientist interested in computer conversational systems, including speech recognition, natural language parsing, discourse and dialogue modelling, language generation, and information summarization (Stephanie Seneff) would know even less.
I was not "disappointed." In fact, this not so triumphant trio's magnum opus, Empirical Data Confirm Autism Symptoms Related to Aluminum and Acetaminophen Exposure, published in a journal I'd never heard of before (Entropy) but one that is appropriately named if this paper is any indication of the quality of papers it publishes. In fact, it never ceases to amaze me that after all these years I can encounter antivaccine papers by people whom I've never heard of before. After all this time, I still get lulled into a false sense of security that I've learned all the players, but I keep finding out that there are always new credulous academics and non-academics willing to embarrass themselves by making utter fools of themselves parroting old antivaccine tropes as though they were the ones who discovered them and citing long-debunked crappy studies as though they were anything but long-debunked crappy studies. You'll see what I mean in a minute.
But first, I'd like to point out that I haven't seen a "review" article this long and comprehensively horrible in both science and analysis since I discovered Helen Ratajczak's Theoretical aspects of autism: Causes–A review (which, not surprisingly, is cited approvingly by Seneff et al) and some of the recent output by Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic. In fact, Seneff's review bears more than a passing resemblance to Ratajczak's review article in its misunderstanding of basic science and Tomljenovic and Shaw's recent blather in its obsession with aluminum adjuvants in vaccines as The One True Cause of Autism. The main difference is that Ratajczak concentrated on misunderstanding basic science and genetics to blame vaccines on "DNA contamination in vaccines," while Shaw and Tomljenovic concentrate on misunderstanding epidemiology, all in an attempt to blame autism on aluminum adjuvants in vaccines.
Which is what Seneff et al, do, torture epidemiology to try to blame autism on not just aluminum adjuvants but, as the title advertises, acetaminophen, and, as the title doesn't advertise, mercury. Check out the abstract:
Autism is a condition characterized by impaired cognitive and social skills, associated with compromised immune function. The incidence is alarmingly on the rise, and environmental factors are increasingly suspected to play a role. This paper investigates word frequency patterns in the U.S. CDC Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) database. Our results provide strong evidence supporting a link between autism and the aluminum in vaccines. A literature review showing toxicity of aluminum in human physiology offers further support. Mentions of autism in VAERS increased steadily at the end of the last century, during a period when mercury was being phased out, while aluminum adjuvant burden was being increased. Using standard log-likelihood ratio techniques, we identify several signs and symptoms that are significantly more prevalent in vaccine reports after 2000, including cellulitis, seizure, depression, fatigue, pain and death, which are also significantly associated with aluminum-containing vaccines. We propose that children with the autism diagnosis are especially vulnerable to toxic metals such as aluminum and mercury due to insufficient serum sulfate and glutathione. A strong correlation between autism and the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine is also observed, which may be partially explained via an increased sensitivity to acetaminophen administered to control fever.
I could tell right away just how bad this review article was going to be. In fact, now that I read it, I almost have to doff my cap in tribute. Rarely have I seen so much antivaccine pseudoscience packed into a single paper. It's a long one, too, making it such a—shall we say?—target-rich environment that deconstructing every antivaccine fallacy contained therein would stretch this post well beyond even Oracian standards of logorrhea. I am, therefore, going to have to "cherry pick" the most egregious bits, which, I must admit, were a bit hard to choose because there are just so many of them, so much so that my selection might seem somewhat arbitrary to readers. Such is life (and blogging). Feel free to help me out in the comments and take on the copious and almost as egregious fallacies that I just didn't have time for. I assure you, there's something bizarre (sometimes several somethings that are bizarre) in each and every paragraph of this 20-page magnum opus of antivaccine woo. That's saying a lot. It was truly tiring to read this paper and try to keep track of its sometimes self-contradicting "greatest hits" parade of the quackery that makes up the autism biomed movement's "theories" of vaccine causation of autism.
A rule of thumb that I've developed over the years for reading a scientific paper—any scientific paper—is that you can tell right away how bad it's going to be by how badly the authors botch the background and rationale for their work. Suffice to say, Seneff et al botch their background and rationale very badly indeed, beginning with the very first paragraph:
Autism, and, more broadly, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a condition characterized by impaired cognitive and social skills , along with a compromised immune function [2–5]. It can now no longer be denied that the incidence of ASD is alarmingly on the rise in the U.S. . While it has been suggested that the observed increase in rates may be due mainly to a change in diagnosis criteria, the actual criteria have changed very little from 1943 to DSM-IV-TR [7–9]. Despite considerable research efforts devoted to trying to uncover the cause(s) of autism, thus far no definitive answer seems available from the research literature. However, the fact that ASD rates have been rapidly increasing over the last two decades strongly points to an environmental component. Indeed, autism is recently being reframed from being a strictly genetic disease to representing a complex interaction between genetics and environmental factors, suggesting that we should focus our attention more on “environmentally responsive genes” .
One notes that Seneff et al cite that execrable excuse for a review article by Ratajczak as support for the concept that ASD is due to vaccines. They also seem rather unclear on the concept of autism and ASDs themselves. The concept of the "autism spectrum disorder" did not exist in 1943. The autism described by Leo Kanner was not nearly as broad a classification as how ASDs are diagnosed now. Indeed, the concept of diagnostic substitution seems to elude the authors of this paper, and Seneff et al seem not even to realize that the antivaccine movement implicitly accepts that the DSM-IVR definition of ASDs is quite broad. If it did not, why would antivaccine activists be so opposed to the proposed refinement of the diagnostic criteria for autism in the DSM-V, hatching all sorts of conspiracy theories that the real reason for the DSM-V is to decrease the number of autism diagnoses? Be that as it may, actually they cite a lot of antivaccine greatest hits. Just to give you an idea, take a look at this:
The ASD community has maintained a long-standing conviction that vaccination plays a causative role in ASD , an idea that has been vehemently denied by the vaccine industry , but nonetheless is still hotly debated . A study published in 2011 has confirmed a positive correlation between the proportion of children who received vaccinations in each state over the interval from 2001 to 2007 and the incidence of autism or speech and language impairment . For each 1% increase in vaccination rate, 680 additional children were diagnosed with autism or speech delay.
Note how Seneff et al start out with the false "balance," in which the idea that vaccines cause autism (for which they cite Andrew Wakefield's 1998 Lancet case series, which was retracted because of professional misconduct and whose results are tainted with fraud) versus one of the Danish studies showing that vaccines are not correlated with autism, as though the two arguments were comparable in validity and there were a real controversy about vaccines causing autism instead of the manufactroversy that it is. It is not "hotly debated" in the scientific community whether vaccines cause autism. It is bleated to the credulous by antivaccine activists with far more hot air than scientific knowledge. Then, it gets even better. Seneff et al cite an even more incompetent antivaccine study by Gayle DeLong. It's a study that's so bad that I'm shocked that even a bottom-feeding journal would publish it.
What follows is a listing of common antivaccine "theories" of how vaccines cause autism. Seneff et al cite Mark Geier's quackery, including his concept that impaired "detoxification" interferes with the excretion of mercury from the thimerosal preservative in vaccines, and his ideas about glutathione pathways. This is the same Mark Geier whose science has been so bad for so long that there is quite literally nothing he has done in the last 15-20 years that I can take seriously. He dumpster dives. He does bad epidemiology. He proposes chemical castration for autistic children because, according to him, testosterone binds to mercury and decreasing testosterone levels makes chelation therapy more effective by removing the testosterone. It's utterly ridiculous, and Mark Geier's quackery is such that he's had his medical license yanked in several states.
When it comes to concepts about why Seneff et al think vaccines cause autism, this paper is all over the place. It's the "impaired detoxification"! It's the mercury, even though the hypothesis that mercury in the thimerosal in vaccines causes autism is a hypothesis that is about as thoroughly discredited as a hypothesis can be. Seneff et al also completely buy into the antivaccine pivot that's occurred since the mercury hypothesis has been falsified, namely the idea that it's really the aluminum adjuvant that causes autism, repeating many of the same scientifically bankrupt and fallacious arguments that Tomljenovic and Shaw did in their misbegotten review articles. They go on ad nauseam about aluminum being toxic to neurons (at concentrations far higher than could be produced in vivo by vaccines), about aluminum being toxic in people with renal failure (never mind that the study was about parenteral aluminum in total parenteral nutrition solutions) and cite the infamous "monkey business" paper as evidence that thimerosal-containing hepatitis B vaccine causes autism.
Of course, as anyone who's been following the antivaccine movement knows, the MMR vaccine has never contained either aluminum or thimerosal, but that doesn't stop Seneff et al from jumping from blaming "heavy metals" like mercury and aluminum for the "autism epidemic" to blaming the MMR vaccine. They even go so far as to repeat oft-debunked attacks on the Danish study that failed to find a link between MMR and autism. Never mind that the evidence base that shows that the MMR vaccine is not correlated with autism consists of far more than one study. There are multiple other well-designed large epidemiological studies that have failed to find a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. If the Danish study were wiped off the face of the earth or were never done, there'd still be more than enough evidence exonerating the MMR. Similarly, Seneff et al claim that vaccines are associated with a higher rate of sudden infant death syndrome. They aren't. They even cite an absolutely abysmal Goldman and Miller paper that claimed to find that vaccines were associated with increased infant mortality. I might have to take that paper on, but if it's anything like a Goldman and Miller paper that I did take on that argued the same thing using different methods, there's little doubt that it doesn't show what Goldman and Miller think it shows.
So what is the "analysis" that Seneff et al tack onto their incompetent review of the evidence relating vaccines and autism (or, more properly, failing to relate vaccines and autism)? Well, they start out by following the pioneers of dumpster diving the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). It's a time-dishonored tactic of antivaccine cranks, because VAERS is not a reliable measure of autism incidence or prevalence. The reason is that anyone can report cases to it, and the adverse reactions reported might or might not be related to vaccination. I've cited the example of a skeptic reporting to VAERS that vaccines turned him into the Incredible Hulk, while another reported that vaccines turned his daughter into Wonder Woman. Then there's the issue about how the VAERS database has been distorted by litigation, with lawyers encouraging parents to report autism as an "adverse reaction" to vaccines.
So, right from the start, the authors completely misunderstand the very purpose of VAERs, which is to serve as an "early warning" system for adverse reactions to vaccines. It is not in any way even intended to provide reliable quantitative estimates of the frequency of adverse events or to track their prevalence over time. Yet that's exactly what Seneff et al use it for as part of their argument. First, they cherry pick symptoms that they thought to be associated with autism, such as anxiety, constipation, ear infections, eczema, pneumonia, and others. They basically compared the autism reports in VAERS with other adverse reactions and concluded that these symptoms are not only associated with autism. Then they go off the deep end with speculation:
Three associated words suggestive of a weakened immune system, “infection,” “ear infection,” and “pneumonia” support the observation from the literature that autism is associated with immune dysfunction . It has also been demonstrated that children with the autism diagnosis exhibit a heightened immune response to antigen stimulation , which we propose is caused by their global deficiency in sulfate supply. Thus, their increased vulnerability to infection in general likely parallels an increased likelihood of an adverse reaction to vaccines, particularly vaccines like MMR where the pathogen is only weakened but not killed.
Evidence for this? None.
Perhaps my favorite part is how Seneff et al suffer from multiple muscle strains and tears trying to handwave a relationship. It is rather amusing how they argue. Basically, they plot the number of adverse events reported to VAERS that contained the word "autism" or "autistic" and noted that the number of reports increased rapidly until 1998, after which it leveled off. Their explanation?
Given that autism incidence in the VAERS database continued to rise after a small dip around 200 and given the knowledge that the total thimerosal burden had been significantly reduced by that time, we developed the hypothesis that an enhancement of aluminum adjuvant in the vaccine might have been the reason for the observed continued high rates of autism. Mercury was phased out of vaccines around 1999 . However, four doses of a new aluminum-containing pneumococcal vaccine were added to the vaccine schedule within the next few years [110, 111], increasing the total aluminum burden by 20%. This could have masked any drops in autism rates consequential to the total mercury burden.
Yes, that's right. According to Seneff et al, the reason we didn't see a drop in autism incidence after mercury was removed from vaccines was because the amount of aluminum in vaccines was increased by the addition of more vaccines. Of course, while it is true that it was in 1999 that the CDC recommended that thimerosal be removed from vaccines, it took more than two years for this removal to happen and in fact thimerosal-free vaccines didn't supplant thimerosal-containing vaccines until 2001, and the last lots of thimerosal-containing vaccines didn't expire until 2002. Be that as it may, the above paragraph is what is known as "making excuses." Autism prevalence didn't fall 3-5 years after there were no more than trace amounts of thimerosal in childhood vaccines other than the flu vaccine, as would be predicted by the hypothesis that mercury in vaccines causes autism.
Next, the authors looked at adverse reactions reported before 2000 and then after 2000 and tried to relate symptoms to aluminum-containing vaccines. These included injection site reactions, infection, swelling, pain, cellulitis, depression, death, fatigue, and insomnia. The assumption, apparently, was that more common events after 2000 would be related to aluminum. I kid you not. In any case, the authors then plotted the total number of all these symptoms versus time in a couple of different ways and found a steady increase, with a peak around 2003, followed by a slow decline. Of course, by 2003, there was no more than trace mercury in vaccines, so how do Seneff et al explain this observation?
It's as bad as you think:
Figure 3 shows the ratio of the total number of aluminum-related adverse reactions associated with a particular year to the total number of aluminum-containing events occurring during that year. This number rises steadily over the turn of the century, reaching above 1.0 starting in the year 2000, and peaking at 1.4 in 2003. This means that multiple adverse reactions―cellulitis and reaction site macule, for example, are occurring in association with a single adverse event. The peak at 2003 corresponds well with the peak in autism-related reports. Thus there are introduced both an increase in the number of events around 2000 as well as an increase in the potency of each event to induce a reaction. This could be explained as an increased sensitivity to aluminum in the population, possibly due to a synergistic effect of cumulative exposure to multiple toxins .
One notes that reference 113 is a Boyd Haley reference. Yes, that Boyd Haley, people. In any case, this is nonsense of the highest order. Indeed, I find it highly amusing that the very reason that reports of adverse reactions due to aluminum-containing vaccines peak at around 2003 is because, as they said, that was probably the peak of mercury-autism fear mongering; so it makes sense that reports like this might also peak. It certainly says absolutely nothing about whether aluminum-containing vaccines cause autism.
I could go on, but it's late and I'm tired. There's still a whole lot more there trying to relate MMR and Acetaminophen to autism, not to mention looking at several individual vaccines. The "quality" of the "analysis" is comparable to the one I just described. Worse, our intrepid trio of antivaccine researchers have big plans:
In future work, we plan to create and maintain a web site where users can intelligently search the VAERS database, asking questions in spoken or typed natural language, such as, “Is there an association between miscarriage and the Gardasil vaccine?” An intuitive graphical interface will also help users easily find adverse event reports relevant to their personal experiences. This system will be modeled after a similar system we have already constructed for prescription drugs . We believe that the VAERS database is a rich resource, many of whose secrets are yet to be revealed.
Yes, that's what I'm afraid of. Bad analysis leading to spurious "correlations" without biological plausibility will be the fruits of Seneff's dumpster diving of the VAERS database with the fixed belief that vaccines cause autism. If it's not the mercury, she'll find that it's the aluminum. If it's not the aluminum, she'll find that it's the MMR. If it's not the MMR, she'll find that it's something to do with vaccines.
That's how antivaccine crank researchers work.
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Empirical Data Confirm Autism Symptoms Related to Aluminum and Acetaminophen Exposure
Great. Prepare for incoming Jen.
As for the idea that VAERS is some sort of vaccination research Rosetta Stone? Terrifying. Any "scientist" using a biased, self-selected sample group, who produce nothing more than anecdotes and hyperbole, needs to redo Research Methods 101.
I'm biased but I used to be a computer scientist and even, I wouldn't have made the same mistake (that is, using the VAERS).
 == being autistic and knowing that minicolums are responsible for autism.
(OT) Here is another deeply suspicious claim: "Weight Loss Discovery Making National Headlines" http://www.howlifeworks.com/Article.aspx?Cat_URL=health_beauty&AG_URL=s…
Ah, MDPI and their open-access journals. "Life" -- also from the MDPI stable -- gave us the famous paper on "Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life".
Dr Seneff's CV is a hoot. She appears to be propping up 'Entropy' single-handedly, extending her expertise to every field of medicine and touting a "carbohydrates in the diet" explanation for every illness under the sun:
Stephanie Seneff, Robert M. Davidson and Jingjing Liu, "Is Cholesterol Sulfate Deficiency a Common Factor in Preeclampsia, Autism, and Pernicious Anemia?" Entropy 2012, 14, 2265-2290
Samantha Hartzell and Stephanie Seneff, "Impaired Sulfate Metabolism and Epigenetics: Is There a Link in Autism?" Entropy 2012, 14, 1953-1977
Robert M. Davidson, and Stephanie Seneff, "The Initial Common Pathway of Inflammation, Disease, and Sudden Death," Entropy 2012, 14, 1399-1442
Stephanie Seneff, Robert Davidson, and Luca Mascitelli, "Might cholesterol sulfate deficiency contribute to the development of autistic spectrum disorder?" Medical Hypotheses, 8
"Autism is a condition characterized by impaired cognitive and social skills, associated with compromised immune function."
Right there I want to immediately parse that statement. The impaired social skills yes. The impaired cognitive skills maybe. The immune disorder as far as I know are NOT part of the diagnostic criteria, but is a comorbid condition as are many OTHER conditions such as seizure disorders.
My POV of autism is that people with autism may or may not have a long list of comorbid conditions. The whole lumping of comorbid conditions under the heading autism bugs me. If a child has the social deficits, language deficits and behavioral problems - but is perfectly healthy otherwise - are they autistic?
The zealots will immediately insist that the poor children probably have some undiagnosed GI problem or allergies or immune problems.
Is it possible to have healthy people with autism? If it is - then does any of this mish mash about PANDAS and immune problems, allergies, GI problems and so on apply to them?
Do all these theories about
This just popped up over at Shot of Prevention - in the Responsible Nurse thread over there. I hadn't seen the paper up to that point, but once I got the link, I was astonished by just how bad it was.
I immediately got the sense that the authors were using "Spaghetti-Logic" i.e. throw every vaccine-autism link / theory against the wall to see if any of them would stick.
They jump from theory to theory, even within the same paragraph & seemed to include the word frequency part just as an excuse to get the paper reviewed by a bunch of physicists / analytical researchers (who know nothing about immunology or medicine).
What a stinking pile of crap - how long before it pops up on AoA - being hailed as the "definitive" research paper on the vaccine-causes of autism?
...the causes of autism apply to healthy autistics?
As for the SENSA diet - I could do the same thing with MSG. Sprinkle enough MSG on my food and I'll choke enough of it down to keep from starving to death, but I won't enjoy it.
MSG is cheaper too.
Wandered over to AoA, read the comments on the Handley interview, got to "our lives destroyed by the vaccines" and stopped.
My son is now nine. We did food collection for the his brother's Cub Scout Den - the actual collection was simple. Figuring out rein in ASD kid's tendency to notice everything that could potentially pushed, poked, manipulated, turned on, turned off, or moved was the challenging part.
Cashing in gift cards for video games later that went well, although I had to stop him from grabbing the items before they were checked out.
Next day we went to the grocery store and ASD had a loud long tantrum about not getting any video games. Everyone survived the experience, the shopping trip continued and was successful.
The day after that, his substitute teacher sent home a glowing report about how well he behaved. (Special education class - he's burning up his IEP goals this year.)
Our lives are not "normal" but neither are they "ruined". We haven't done a darned thing but the standard stuff - early intervention, special ed. No diets. No supplements. No drugs.
When I see hyperbole, I feel an attack of mothering come over me. When my kids demand "Give me that!", they get the folded arms and the stare. "Mom, may I have _____ please?". Kids have to learn so MUCH. They have to learn how to communicate effectively, that it's not so much saying something that is important, but encouraging people to listen to what you have to say.
"..ruined our lives!"
What can I say to that other than "I'm so sorry for your loss." ?
Anj's comments deserve a better and more sensitive response than my following rant. Apologies.
This MDPI open-access publisher seems to follow the multi-level vanity-press model -- they rely heavily on recruiting editors for Special Issues. Then it becomes the *editor's job* to recruit contributors (who each pay the usual publication fee).
Anyway this particular paper appeared in a Special Issue with the splendidly inter-disciplinary title "Biosemiotic Entropy: Disorder, Disease, and Mortality". The description of the goals sets new standards for postmodern bafflegab.
Seneff is a co-author of no fewer than five of seven papers in this Special Issue (5 published so far with two more on the way), so perhaps it would have been bettter to call it the Seneff Special Issue. The editor was one John W. Oller, Jr -- a believer in the Autism Epidemic. Indeed, we find Oller & Oller appearing in the paper as Ref. 8, "Autism: The Diagnosis, Treatment, and Etiology of the Undeniable Epidemic".
The References list rewards close attention.
Seven citations of papers in 'Medical Hypotheses'... (including Cannell's theory about "Autism and Vitamin D" -- apparently it's a form of rickets).
My favourite, though, is Ref. 65: "Water dynamics at the root of metamorphosis in living organisms." I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. Published in a journal simply called Water.
Yes, it's another journal from the MDPI stable.
False. The ASD Community (if it can be called a community) now almost completely rejects the idea.
Interesting that I have an immune system that's the opposite of "weakened". I was hardly ever sick.
Well, if anti-vaxxers can use anecdotes, so can I.
What's the sulfate deficiency stuff about? I'm guessing it's to do with glutathione which requires a sulfhydryl group obtained from sulfur-containing amino acids such as cysteine and methionine. There's a lot of obsession with glutathione on planet CAM, and of course it is important. However,I was always taught that it is important to have sufficient levels of reduced glutathione, as it does useful things like maintaining red blood cell membrane integrity and keeping the lens of the eye transparent. The only place I have come across the idea of glutathione deficiency per se, usually necessitating the ingestion of sulfur-containing amino acids in the form of whey or cottage cheese or as n-acetyl-cysteine along with selenium, is on planet CAM. Did I miss a biochemistry class, or is this all nonsense as I suspect?
This Computer Science and AI Laboratory sounds like a very strong place -- from their website:
I would imagine that there's some wailing and gnashing of teeth going on among the other faculty, who (one hopes) recognize that a colleague has gone seriously off.
I was on the Shot of Prevention blog last night when a troll/sockie referred to this "study".
The doctor on that paper, Robert M. Davidson M.D., has got his own website….
Dr. Davidson is a
I was on the Shot of Prevention blog last night when a troll/sockie referred to this “study”.
The doctor on that paper, Robert M. Davidson M.D., has got his own website….
Dr. Davidson is a "Fellow of the American Institute of Stress"
He's looking to change jobs...even offshore.
He's so dumb he lets us know what his 'nym is when he posts comments; "Representative samples of my writing are found in the following articles. My nom de plume (blog) over the years has been “patrons99”
Googlings "patrons99 vaccines" and I come up with this long list of comments from Age of Autism and other crank anti-vaccine websites. In fact, IIRC, "patrons99" has graced our very own RI blog with his comments.
Orac blogged about Barbara Loe Fisher's video screed against seasonal flu vaccine requirements for heath care workers...then added an addendum of comments from AoA:
There he is Dr. Davidson/"patrons99" with double rants appearing on AoA:
My POV of autism is that people with autism may or may not have a long list of comorbid conditions. The whole lumping of comorbid conditions under the heading autism bugs me. If a child has the social deficits, language deficits and behavioral problems – but is perfectly healthy otherwise – are they autistic?
No.The DSM-V has a name for this.It's called Social Anxieiety Disorder.Which got both ASAN,and their fellow travelers in the neurodiversity movement,and parents of children at the mild end of the spectrum,all into a big kerfluffle a while back.
What say you about children,who have serious autistic regressions,after an acute infection or seizure? Science has proven two such causes that I know of.
Both are very complicated conditions,where the immune system and brain are linked.One can argue back and forth if they are "real autism" or not.As someone who has the folate autoantibodies,and a host of other metabolic and immune diseases,I can tell you that after three years of leucovorin treatment,my autism is just about gone,but I still have a lot of serious medical problems.
I don't think of them as comorbidities to the autism,but I think of the autism,as just an outward and obvious presentation of a very complicated syndrome.
Anybody else see this,and think of the scares they used to have back in the day,about Alzheimer's and aluminum cookware?
OK my two links didn't go through.HTML failure ;/
Dr. Davidson is a “Fellow of the American Institute of Stress”
Too bad he isn't a Fellow of the American Institute of Loquatiousness, or something similar.
When I wrote a pro-vaccine series on my (post-deprived) blog in 2010 for "Vaccine Awareness Week" I happened to review a Jake Crosby Age of Autism post and included a comment by patrons99, who as lilady notes has outed himself as Dr Robert M. Davidson.
What was the comment I included?
Long story short: a PhD is no vaccine against ridiculous beliefs or foolishness.
One might think the MIT lab would be populated by only the "best and brightest" but MIT (and Harvard and many of the well respected institutions in Boston, and elsewhere I expect but I live here) supports a whole lot of nonsense as well. Sometimes the "far edges of scientific advances" have a fair number of lunatics residing in that region.
I guess the emphasis in Ms. Seneff's work title is truly on Senior, her first degree is from 1968. I guess we have a classic case of early onset crankery. So she's missing the Nobel price to justify it.
@BA - reading the paper, it looks like it was an opportunity for a computer scientist to test out some analytical algorithms on new data sources, rather than a serious attempt to do research on autism (especially since the VAERS database is not exactly considered reliable - only as a means to do follow-up work, again, not included in VAERS).
There is never a dearth of anti-vacciniana:
as Anj mentioned above, Handley has surfaced again, carping about how little of the interview presented ( @ AoA) was used in the television special. I wonder why they did edited that way?
Today ( @ TMR) Ms Snap relates how she feels "punched in the stomach" when she is informed that as a parent of a "special needs" she may wait in her car at a closer vantage point. Similarly, being told her child had autism produced the same feeling. So does seeing a sign that advertises vaccines at adrug store. She seems habituated to that one response or one expression.
MIke Adams carries on about MSG, Hg and formaldehyde at Natural News.
As Krebiozen states, glutathione is *de rigeur*, cure-all woo (see especially PRN nonsense).
Just an odd thought ( and would you expect anything else from me?):
our anti-vax autism parents forever enlighten us about their difficult, horrendous lives as caretakers, advocates and warrior people on the job 24/7 HOWEVER it seems to me from reading over their profuse, repetitive verbal meanderings that they spend an awful lot of time writing, "researching" and hanging out on facebook with their cohort.
How much time can a person spend on a hobby or vocation if they are indeed busy to the point of exhaustion with a disabled child? A few @ TMR like to catalogue their day/ weekend in detail so that onlookers might appreciate how much they do. MY observation is that is you were truly so busy and devoted you wouldn't have enough time to keep telling us about it. OVER and OVER.
Ms. Seneff is deep into the vaccine/vita D/WAP woo: http://stephanie-on-health.blogspot.com/2008/11/sunscreen-and-low-fat-d…
Whatever nuggets of accurate information she has is purely by accident.
there is overlap in what the AI people( see MIT above) and cognitive psychologists study- however the former usually aren't required to study physiology IIRC.
I hereby rest my case.
I get the feeling that their analysis is the equivalent of the "Bible Code" analyses - exhaustively search for some phrase to support your preconceptions. (blatant confirmation bias?)
"Blogger Profile" on Dr. Davidson...
"I am a practicing internal medicine physician, former bio-organic research chemist/analytical chemist, and former associate medical director for DuPont Pharma Radiopharmaceutical Division. I am a God-fearing, Christian. My screen name (patrons99) was adopted from a defunct Texas Professional Limited Liability Company (Health Patrons PLLC) which was organized under Texas law on November 17, 1999. I was stripped of my retained legal counsel by fiat of an Arizona trial court. I was never a pro se litigant by choice. My friends call me Bob or Dr Bob. The best way to reach me is by email: email@example.com. I'm a newbie to hosting a blogsite, so please be patient, as I try to master the art. Thank you. Sincerely, Robert Michael Davidson, MD, PhD."
Where's Narad...we need him to find that lawsuit, that "patrons99" references.
I often wonder about this as well. My deeply uncharitable opinion is that it gives them a socially-acceptable (in woo circles, anyway) excuse to avoid interacting with their children while publicly pretending to be tireless advocates for them. We all know they believe that autism "stole" their children away, so I suspect they feel justified in ignoring their kids while they chase every half-baked theory and quack treatment that promises to restore the perfect child they imagine they had before the eeeeveeel vaccines "destroyed" them.
@ Edith Prickly:
Exactly. I am especially disturbed when they reiterate the complicated woo-drenched regimes they inflict upon their children - a few days ago, Ms MacNeill ( Mama Mac) writes about coping with a back injury and care-taking that involves giving enemas ( what kind and why she doesn't state) and other TMs divulge their arcane supplement/ dietary magic.
Seems that like our web woo-meisters, they like to play doctor since they don't trust real ones.
One would expect that any sane, rational individual would see an "increased vulnerability to infection" as cause for vaccination, even if only selectively (e.g., only "dead" vaccines).
But MSG is good! It is a precursor to glutathione, which, as we know from the anti-vaccine community, is vital for preventing/avoiding autism!
Speaking of anti-vax physicians - it looks like one of our old chums, Jay Gordon FAAP (and pediatrician to second/third-tier stars) has quietly excised an embarrassing tribute from his website.
I can no longer find Jay's paean to Andrew Wakefield (where he talks about hearing the Great One speak at a conference, removing any doubts Jay might have had about Wakefield's wonderfulness).
Fear not, there remains woo a-plenty on Jay's site, including nonsensical blasts against fluoridation and recommendation of homeopathic treatment for kiddie ear infections.
Not sure about the case, but he had a license in Arizona, which he apparently cancelled. He is currently licensed in Texas and has been since 1987. Texas has no complaints on record against him (at least online, which can be misleading, as we saw with how long they took to update info on Dr. Geier).
I'm not sure I can take any paper seriously that has graphs lifted right out of excel like that .
(and on the default settings, no less! At least be creative.)
I believe this may be what you are looking for. We need Narad or someone else fluent to translate from legalese, but it looks interesting.
I found something that appears to be related to a case against Dr. Davidson. In 1999, litigation was started against Davidson and his wife, Vanessa Komar, by Jay and Eudice Grossman in Pima County Superior Court.
The case stems from a charge that Davidson made against Dr. Grossman, accusing him of assault:
Ultimately, the Grossmans were awarded $7,849,031.27. Davidson tried, unsuccessfully, to get both the Arizona courts and Texas courts to void the judgment.
Misread it. Davidson only tried to get the judgment voided in TX, since that is where the Grossmans were trying to get it enforced (Davidson and his wife were no longer in AZ).
You guys are terrific. I know Davidson's medical license was "cancelled" in Arizona and is in effect in Texas...I looked up the medical licensing sites for those states.
My interpretation (IANAL) of Krebiozen's link is that Davidson was seeking a "Declaratory Judgement" (monetary damages) from his own former attorney who refused to continue to represent him. He seems to think that the attorney was involved in a conspiracy with others, that resulted in substantial monetary loss to him and his wife.
Now Todd W's link provides us with the original lawsuit and the substantial judgement ($ 7,849,031.27), that is not chump change, against Dr. Davidson and his wife.
No wonder then, why he is seeking employment offshore...out of the reach of U.S. Courts and the many liens that exist on his remaining assets.
That's one thing that really irritates me, and thinking about it, it does so on two levels. The obvious one is how they treat autistic kids as empty shells, a message that can't be good for the kids to grow up with. The other is that it strikes me as a specific subtype of the controlling parents who expects their kids to be exactly the way they envisioned them and guilt trips them if they deviate from the plan, rather than accepting and nurturing them for who they are and who they want to be.
@ Dangerous Bacon:
"Speaking of anti-vax physicians – it looks like one of our old chums, Jay Gordon FAAP (and pediatrician to second/third-tier stars) has quietly excised an embarrassing tribute from his website."
It appears that Jay's support of Wakefield has been removed from his website, but he still has the same old crappy science and opinions about vaccines on there. He also still supports Robert Kennedy Jr's bogus "Deadly Immunity" treatise...even after Salon.com finally withdrew it.
MIke Adams carries on about MSG
Mike Adams also endorses the GAPS diet, which features *elevated* levels of MSG (from all the broths). His business model is built on encouraging orthorexia. The exact details of that orthorexia are not relevant.
I haven't had the opportunity to look deeply at it, but it seems at first glance to be a WAPF hook to "cholesterol deficiency."
I'm at work and certain sites are blocked, but it appears Davidson ran the full course of legal crazy. He appealed certain RICO allegations all the way to the US Supreme Court. I don't believe the Court heard his case.
About Stephanie Seneff, I emailed her with a link to the minicolumns paper and the exchange hasn't been satisfactory but I'll see.
Stephanie Seneff came up very briefly in the comments of one of Orac's posts last year.
Oh, I remember this guy. What he's doing with this is just trying to prevent his lawyer from withdrawing because the lawyer is part of the conspiracy against him. I ran this past an actual lawyer, and it's not completely insane.
If I thought my lawyer was part of a conspiracy against me, I think I would be happy if he withdrew from my case. But then, I don't usually wear my underpants on my head.
Not so offtopic, cliffy is running a serie about ScienceBlogs; second strike:
The plural of anecdote is data (according to lawyers...)
I ran the case past my "in-house attorney" and he agrees with Militant Agnostic; the good doctor is effin' crazy and an "underpants on his head" ex-client.
That would make a great epitaph.
Or, in the words of Firesign Theater:
"Papoon, Papoon for President,
You know he's not to blame!
Papoon, Papoon for President,
You know he's not insane! (not insane!)"
@ Narad: Thanks for that link to Orac's September, 2011 blog.
I just spent a few minutes scanning the comments...of Offal, Thingy and Jake the epidemiologist wannabe...and thoroughly enjoying the banter. I actually miss last year's trolls. :-)
It's so self-referential (and mechanically haphazard; seriously, get a Bluebook, man) that I was having trouble parsing it in isolation. He also needed to figure out a way to toll the RICO deadline that he apparently missed. I don't know whether he then figured he could try to double-dip by means of § 1983, but there was obviously sustained venue-shopping going on.
So does Dr. Nutbar have to pony up the 7+ million quid for damages?
This might be the dumbest thing I've ever seen Miller emit. Have a clue on the house, Cliff: the phrase isn't invoked as an appeal to aphoristic authority.
@ Science Mom:
IANAL, but there are States that are *favorable* to defendants such as Florida. O.J. Simpson, after he got away with murdering his wife and a young man, was sued civilly. for wrongful deaths. He purchased a home in Florida...which was judgement-proof. He kept that home, until he was convicted of kidnapping in Nevada and sentenced to "hard time" in the Nevada State Correctional System. The home in Florida went into foreclosure and was repossessed recently. Yeah, payback is a b!tch.
Dr. Davidson is looking to "relocate offshore", because all of his future earnings in Texas...or anywhere in the USA...are/will be, subject to liens to pay off the $ 7.9 million dollar outstanding civil court judgement.
Their ignorance of autism is what makes them a good combination, that and insanity.
@ Denice & Edith Prickley
I often wonder about parents like you describe too. I have a friend with 2 autistic boys. Somehow she's managed to be their advocate AND get a psychology degree (and multiple offers of masters fellowships) in the last few years (they're both quite young, I think the oldest is around 12 now). She's a very devoted mom who spends lots of time with them, but then again she's not a whackjob who treats them like they're "lost" or "broken" and in need of twisted pseudo-medical therapies. And both boys are progressing nicely - to the point where one of them will occasionally use crude language and she's not sure whether to be thankful it was used correctly (in both grammar and context) or to chastise him... :) Big change from the complete inability to communicate of a few years ago...
Is it possible to have healthy people with autism? If it is – then does any of this mish mash about PANDAS and immune problems, allergies, GI problems and so on apply to them?
I have Crohn's Disease, fibromyalgia and entometriosis. And a severe allergy to sulphur drugs, and erithromycin. I was thinking, if ASD causes all these other comorbidities, does this mean people with GI problems, auto-immune conditions and allergies are suddenly going to develop ASDs? I'm 37, and I'm pretty certain I haven't.
Coming from the Yale side of the fence,* I'm having a hard time remembering Seneff, although the name rings a bell. She and Liu have rolled this trip out previously on the statin front. I think I get what they're up to and why, but the final step seems desperate.
* "After this came the MIT situated activity device. It leapt into the road and deftly skipped between cars. It dodged traffic impressively until, pinned on each side by ice trucks, it was nailed by a van from Bee Line Movers."
Haven't these clowns heard of GIGO?
Regarding the question of having healthy autistic, before my PTSD, I was very healthy and had no issues at all.
More particulars on the Davidsons' case and judgement. Dr. Davidson fancied himself as a "whistle blower", claiming that Dr. Grossman conducted fraudulent research. Dr. Grossman was awarded monetary damages for defamation, emotional distress and punitive damages.
He apparently wants to discharge his debt (judgement) through a personal bankruptcy and the Grossmans' judgement was "renewed" against the Davidsons.
That's why he is seeking employment out of the country.
I hate to post this link but you can witness the woo straight from the horses axx here, where Mercola interviews Seneff:
For a computer scientist she sure thinks she's an expert in biochemistry, physiology, gastroenterology, ...., just chalk her up to being an expert in all medical science.
Mercola - "They substituted the aluminum for the thimerosal; because it's also a preservative?"
Seneff - "Yea. Well it also does the... eh, eh... I think that... Ya know... i-it's confusing..."
Dumb and dumber.
No kidding Steph. You seem very, very confused.
Perhaps you're in the throes of aluminum induced neurotoxic senile dementia? (Hey, if they can make stuff up, so can I.)
A very sad case.
Seneff - "... and whether the mercury is also and adjuvant... The other one [aluminum] is definitely and adjuvant."
Genius. Pure genius.
But in her arrogant ignorance she doesn't flinch when she admits she doesn't even know the basics yet is somehow a 'medical researcher'.
As has been stated, these loons are going to do the gish-gallop as every one of their hypotheses are discounted; jumping to the next "toxin" without reflecting on how absurdly wrong they've been.
They will continue to find lunatic academics who will torture the data until it confesses that vaccines kill.
Considering it is estimated that up to 1% of the population is schizophrenic they should have a large pool of scientists to enlist if they can catch them before they are medicated.
They will never surrender.
The best we can hope for is to turn them into laughing stocks like the 911 truthers.
Keep up the good work.
@ Reality: Thanks so much for *sharing* that YouTube video.
Seneff is clueless about the ingredients in vaccines and I think even Joe Mercola finds her statements somewhat disconnected.
I'm wondering how and why Dr. Davidson got involved with her...neither one of them could discern that the other one is just full of it.
Enjoyed the interview with Mercola where she expounds he theory of "oxygen transport" describing how there is a cascade where free oxygen is taken up as first sulfate, then nitrate, then carbonate, and how once you get down to carbonate you face problems like cancer and AIDS.
@ around 1 minute
ABC's Dr.Besser And Dr.Oz has moral and a professional obligation to have to answer this. But sadly, they never will.
The closest Dr. Oz got was saying his children are not vaccinated.
Remember, it was just a few months ago, ABC's Dr Oz was worried about 30 ppb of Arsenic (an ingested lesser Toxin) in apple juice. His Oz's concerns, and suspicions were confirmed by Consumer Reports correct. Now, people are calling (including the FDA) for some regulation of ingested apple juice and Toxins.
Diann Sawyer the anchor of world news asked ABC's Dr Besser "did it make you mad (Dr. Besser) going into battle with insufficient incorrect facts from the FDA? Bessers reply was "Oh! yeah,what bothers me most is that when Memit and I spoke before. The information I had was from the FDA, was incorrect. He turns to Dr Oz and says, you were right! What was Dr. Oz right about? The Arsenic was the harmful Inorganic type as he found. But also there was lead found in the apple juice.
Dr.Besser's apology was spurred on, by Consumer Reports doing their own investigation of the Oz's findings. Their findings were,that Dr. Oz was indeed correct. But they also, found lead. That finding is important, for there maybe a synergy effect of the two Toxins being mixed. Causing the greater Toxin to be increased in Toxicity.
So, if 30 ppb of a lesser [ingested] toxin is a concern that needs to be addressed. What is Thousands of ppb's of a greater toxin[ injected mercury ] that per [NIH study on baby primates] has the expressed ability to cross the Blood Brain Barrier easier than does the Methyl-Mercury (such as fish) given within hours of the first breath of life? Answer. It's FDA CDC recommended, & Considered AAP rubber stamped certified Safe? Insane !
Now keep doing that, except with a little twist. Meaning this,every few months at the well baby visits kick in 6 vaccines containing the mercury.
That's called Bolus dosses, Meaning given at one point in time. In other words all on the same day, in one little few month old babys body.
You cannot tell me, that is not a recipe for Neurological damage. Using Logic, says it is.
Dingo199: It's good to see the look on Joe's face as she meanders through her script about the "cascade".
Here, she has a "treatment" for sulfur deficiency:
"In addition to making sure you're getting high amounts of sulfur-rich foods in your diet, Dr. Seneff recommends soaking your body in magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) baths to compensate and counteract sulfur deficiency. She uses about ¼ cup in a tub of water, twice a week. It's particularly useful if you have joint problems or arthritis."
@Canadian Chick - there is a world of difference between actually being an effective advocate for your child and posing as one on the Internet. :-) It sounds like your friend's children have improved because she accepted their autism diagnosis and pursued the appropriate therapies (as in, the ones shown to work), and has worked hard to extend her own knowledge as well.
In contrast, the AoA/Unthinking Mom's Revolution crowd specializes in showboating, conspiracy-mongering and noisy denial of any reality-based information about autism. They prefer to spin melodramatic fairy tales about the ideal child that got stolen from them by the "vaccine industry" and blindly follow the advice of any cheap huckster who promises a "cure". And sadly, there are plenty of exploiters willing to put aside all scruples and encourage these parents to abuse their autistic kids with chelation therapy, bleach enemas, useless diets and supplements, and so on. And any improvement the child makes will be credited to the woo and Mom or Dad's "advocacy" rather than his or her own efforts.
@Joe - do you know the difference between an element & a compound? Also, do you know the difference between ethyl & methyl-mercury, because by your rant, I don't think you actually do.
1. What vaccines on the current childhood schedule contain thimerosal?
2. What well conducted studies show that thimerosal causes neurological damage in the doses given?
What kind of dressing do you want on your word salad with the creative croutons of capitalization?
Joe - which is the better proof, logic or evidence?
Perhaps you should look at this FDA website and the two letters sent to Dr. Oz's television show producer about his "allegation" of elevated levels of arsenic in apple juice.
The Food and Drug Administration has monitored fruit juices, including apple juice, for elevated levels of arsenic for several years as part of its annual Total Diet Study and its toxic elements in foods program. When the Dr. Oz Show gave the FDA information suggesting that apple juice samples it had tested showed results as high as 36 parts per billion (ppb) of total arsenic, the FDA obtained its own samples of apple juice—including a sample of the same lot of apple juice purportedly containing 36 ppb—for analysis. The FDA’s test results do not support the findings of the Dr. Oz Show, and, in fact, are significantly less (2 to 6 ppb) than the levels found by the television program’s analysis. Moreover, the vast majority of apple juice samples tested by the FDA over that past 20 years show that apple juice typically contains less than 10 ppb total arsenic. The FDA is committed to protecting the nation’s public health through programs such as its toxic elements in food monitoring efforts and by providing consumers with scientifically credible information.
Here are the two letters the FDA sent to the producers of the Dr. Oz Show that present the results of our findings, explain the limitations of the testing done by the lab used by the Dr. Oz Show, and state that it would be irresponsible and misleading to suggest that apple juice contains unsafe amounts of arsenic based on tests for total arsenic.
From what I have seen on other blogs, I think Joe is a few randomly capitalized letters short of a keyboard.
Get thee gone with thy facts! Cannot you see that Joe dost operate by media, rather than reality? That he preferest greater the spin of TV than the arrow of science flying straight and true?
FWIW, the highest arsenic levels Consumer Reports found in apple juice was 13.9 ppb. See http://www.consumerreports.org/content/dam/cro/magazine-articles/2012/J….
OT: but are world-class, self-serving charlatans casting vitriol EVER truly OT @ RI?
I just turned on PRN's noontime radio woo-fest and feasted my ears upon the mellow and rounded tones of AJW telling HIS side of the story ( the show will be archived) complaining about how he was set up by BD, pharma, the media, the GMC and just about everyone else.
How low the mighty have fallen, last month it was the Gun Shack, now the Gary Null show.
"It wasn't my fault! BD and the GMC planted false medical records to replace the ones my study was really based on!"
Just The Vax, Science Mom's blog has written about Wakefield extensively, including his latest "wanking for coins" fundraisers. One of the posters there, has suggested his next fundraiser event may be a telethon:
@ Todd W.:
Andy is hilarious but doesn't know it: he sounds as though he's read all of the crap written on his behalf at AoA and taken it to heart. Legal defence by Olmsted can't be far off.
I always find myself laughing because they go crazy because BD left off his surname when interviewing a parent- like that's NEVER done by reporters, by researchers etc.
About Joe's post...here's where Dr. Richard Besser takes on Dr. Oz about his false assertions of arsenic in apple juice...and Oz provides "Bolus dosses" of nonsense:
Wakefield is again, as is his habit, stretching out the legal procedures, perhaps this time to maximize the time that he can continue those “wanking for coins” fundraisers. His appellant brief, which was due next week, is now due in January.
As Justice Eady noted: "It thus appears that the Claimant wishes to use the existence of the libel proceedings for public relations purposes."
@ brian: Yup, he's "wanking for ADDITIONAL coins"...
Monday morning thoughts
Posted on November 19, 2012
By Dr. Andrew Wakefield
We had a wonderful fundraiser for the Academic Integrity Fund at Z Tejas in downtown Austin last week. My sincere thanks to the organizers of the event on such short notice and to Elizabeth Avellán for her kind words of introduction. We intend for this to become a template for similar events around the country starting in 2013. It you are willing to organize an event in your town, please notify us below and we can send further information. I’ll be there.
Lilady that was before the Consumer Report, report. confirming all of Dr. Oz's findings plus lead also.
ABC's Diann Sawyer the anchor of world news asked ABC’s Dr Besser “did it make you mad (Dr. Besser) going into battle with insufficient incorrect facts from the FDA? Bessers reply was “Oh! yeah,what bothers me most is that when Memit and I spoke before. The information I had was from the FDA, was incorrect. He turns to Dr Oz and says, you were right!
He was publicly humiliated, on National TV . But to his credit, he did admit he was wrong and Dr. Oz was right.
I have the video, of his apology. Looks like you are spreading misinformation Lilady
Yes, you've copied and pasted this particular bit of quasi English already.
Narad why is Lilady trying to misrepresent the truth? I thought that is what you guys represent , the truth?
I don't know that anybody's "trying to misrepresent" anything. You just wandered in and started babbling about apple juice. The story has been covered by the CJR. What does this have to do with Seneff?
Just like Seneff does not understand the difference between an adjuvant and a preservative, perhaps Joe can't tell the difference between juice and vaccines. They are both liquids, right?
Oh, and Joe, Recombivax doesn't even contain trace thimerosal.
Also, arsenic (LD50 14 mg/kg) is about twice as toxic as thimerosal (LD50 30 mg/kg), and 30 ppb arsenic is equivalent to 30 micrograms in each liter of orange juice some people drink every day for years. Most people will see why this is very different to a 50 microgram dose of thimerosal a child used to get a few times in the first few years of its life, but doesn't any more. Apparently some do not.
Would be interested to see what you got from Ms. Seneff.
Before I go on, I should point out I haven't time to read Seneff's paper, etc.
While I suspect 'Reality's comment earlier has the goods, a general comment closer to (proper) science. I'm a computational biologist. Call it bioinformatics if you prefer. (I prefer computational biologist as it reminds people that I am a biologist.) Been in the field a couple of decades, so I've seen how some things pan out. One problem we get, less common now but still do a little, is computer scientists trying to apply some tool they're developed with little or no real understanding of the biology. While the computational tools in and of themselves can sometimes be quite good, their appropriateness to biological problems or the particular application of the tools can be woefully amiss, even from otherwise good computer scientists. This is mostly old hat these days as people usually have the good sense to collaborate. One point though: good computational biology, in m experience, starts with the biology -- to develop the question to be addressed -- then proceeds to the computer algorithm/tool development. If you see it being applied the other way around - be on guard.
(Exceptions will, of course, exists. Applications of computational physics and chemistry to biology come to mind.)
I mean apple juice, of course. Orange juice is full of methanol and formaldehyde, probably put there by Big Pharma to discredit Big Farmer.
I am reminded of a time that I was required to attend a class on linear programming conducted by a library scientist.
If indeed Dr. Oz claimed arsenic levels at 30 ppb that was not confirmed by Consumer Reports.
It works both ways. I'm reminded of a presentation at the hospital where I worked, by some junior doctors about Down's Syndrome that I attended. They had been collecting the results issued by the biochemistry laboratory and running them through various statistical packages. I don't think they were aware that these risks had been generated by the computer program I wrote using a multivariate analysis formula. They proudly displayed a graph they had plotted showing that there was an increasing risk of Down's with age. I felt a little cruel informing them that this was because my program took the age related risk, which is based on a well-known curve, and modified it with a factor calculated from serum AFP and HCG, and the woman's weight. In most cases the odds modifier was around 1 and only varied a lot if the AFP or HCG were very abnormal. So of course there was a correlation with age, as this was what the risk was based on.
She will be taking the minicolumns papers into account and derive a new model with it. I also invited her to do a guest post on my blog (with appropriate disclaimer) and she will once she has her new model ready.
Yeah, there's plenty of examples of biologists presenting statistical, bioinformatics or computational biology (etc.) results incorrectly. One comes to mind. I'd gotten an idea to support some of the "little" papers and tracked down a copy of one I thought would be a nice "explainer" for general readers. When I got the paper, I looked at it’s sole figure - an "classic" example of trying to use protein modelling to show something protein modelling couldn't (or very rarely could) show. I never did write it up as I was torn with the fact I'd have to clobber some student's effort at modelling. I'd guess it was a case of not talking to a specialist before working on the modelling - unfortunately common. (The rest of the paper seemed fine, as the work was fairly straight-forward.)
Just for pleasure [I thought] I signed-up to participate in a microbiological study with some people at NC State http://www.yourwildlife.org/projects/wild-life-of-our-homes/ I love microbiology, so I loved the idea of sampling my house [four swabs]. Sadly, on a long questionnaire, after answering at least 20 questions related to allergies they asked if any one in the household had an ASD. Me, I have Asperger's , but I have no allergies and no digestive problems. As a kid I existed on a junk-food diet. "Despite" all this I improved over time [relating to people etc.] and even had a real career [with at least 20% of the time looking into microscopes]. So now NC State is trying to relate ASD to allergies? Uhgg :(
As an addendum, I'd like to state that if Stephanie Seneff guest post on my blog, I intend to do a followup post to her.
Wakefield's "Academic Integrity Fund" is publicizing what appears to be a new interview with Andy. Each "question" has its own short video clip.
As you can see, he is being incisively probed by skilled interrogators: "Dr Wakefield: Is it true that some or even none of the children in the Lancet case series had autism?"
I'll say this: if he hadn't fled the jurisdiction, making the recovery of costs problematic to a claimant against him, his case as defendant would have lasted about as long as that confection of clips before he was left sobbing for his mother on cross examination.
What he doesn't seem to grasp, and which may yet be his oblivion, is that he could weasel around words and invoke any amount of pretence in his GMC hearing, which was held to the very onerous criminal standard of sureness. But if he were ever in court on the civil standard - say as a result of someone who gave him money and then realized they had done so on the basis of false information - he would be stripped of every asset right up to the boundary of his property. Sadly, the Texas homestead exemption prevents one from going further.
@ Brian Deer:
Too, too bad, that Ranchero Wakefield would not be part of any judgement against him. I'm willing to *bet* that Andy derives little income from his "Autism Media Channel"...which has a highly compensated Advertising Director/radio personality:
Perhaps it would be useful to point out this paper just published which analyzed 100 randomly selected VAERS reports, and found that in only 3% of reports was the vaccine definitiely causally related to the described "adverse event".
Similarly, there is a paper in the same journal from last year which specifically analyzed neurological events like GBS after pandemic flu vaccine.
They found none of the reports were "definite" or even "probable", and only 33% were "possible" with respect to vaccine causality.
@ dingo199: Both of the articles are behind pay walls.
With regard to the first article you linked to with an analysis of 100 random VAERS reports that showed 3 % of reports "causally linked" to a vaccine...would those "adverse events" be febrile seizures? If so, wouldn't the overwhelming majority of them be discounted...unless the parent/claimant could prove that the adverse event (febrile seizure) was the onset of a seizure disorder...similar to the Poling case?
Regarding the second link you provided...look at the age spread (6 months to 83 years of age), where adverse events were reported after receiving pandemic flu vaccine during the 2009-2010 "flu season". The H1N1 flu strain has been incorporated into 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 season flu vaccines and we haven't seen an uptick in GBS reports in people who have received those vaccines.
(That's the same link I posted at a sockie on the Shot of Prevention blog) :-)
Thanks Dingo199 & Lilady,
This is what I've been looking for in my followup post for Stephanie Seneff.
I can't access the full text either, Lilady. Would be nice to know the answer to your questions. I suspect that of the 3% definitiely related to vaccines you will find they are likely to be some of the well recognized linked reactions, as you suggest.
And you make an excellent report about the lack of associated reports of GBS after seasonal flu vaccines in the last 2 years.
You can come toast some prawns on my barbie anytime.
Words fail me.
You can come toast some prawns on my barbie anytime.
Australian gallantry at its best!
I've suggested this elsewhere, but I believe that he has retained the services of reputation-dot-com. I've seen a précis of the workings of their lower tier, and it's sad. Anything beats Arranga, it appears.
There is a Repairer of Reputations involved? This never ends well.
hdb - you've forgotten to put an URL in the a tag ;-) (I checked the source.)
Ah! - thank you.
That title 'Academic Integrity' reminds me of the 'Office of Medical and Scientific Justice', Clark Baker's hiv/aids denialist and pseudo-science project/ website.
Or the "Research Misconduct Project" of David L Lewis.
@ Brian Deer:
Meanwhile, back at Emily Wilkerson's blog, several of the trolls and their sockies, keep touting Dr. Lewis's "organization" and his credentials.
"lilady 6 hours ago
Read Brian Deer’s website that I provided up thread. That organization you keep touting is a “front” for lawyers.
Dr. Lewis was disqualified as an “expert witness” by the New York State OPMC, after he gave testimony on behalf of a doctor who lost his license because he infected patients with the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses. See the OPMC site I provide…page 31.
Do try to stick the flounce Alain Couvier…a.k.a. (Not An) ASD Researcher…a.k.a. John Richard Smith…a.k.a. Blackheart."
You remember (Not An) ASD Researcher, don't you Brian? He's the sockie who kept flooding the LaCrosse Tribune blogs with his canned Spam, during your recent trip to Wisconsin. IIRC, you were invited to conduct seminars about Wakefield's fraudulent research and Andy had a "press conference in a park gun shed". :-)
Another of his "sockies", "Blackheart" provided amusement and the canned Spam on Orac's blog and other science blogs...in defense of Walker-Smith and Wakefield, last year. :-)
Lewis has been associated with the so-called National Whistleblowers ( not to be confused with the real one) and Steve Kohn whose Whistleblowers' website and internet radio show ( @ PRN) is called 'Honesty without Fear'--
and no, I am not making that up.
Denice, I know exactly who David Lewis is. He's the dope who handed over the raw scoring sheets of the childrens' bowel biopsies to the BMJ and to Brian Deer, last year...after the biopsies' tissue specimens taken from Wakefield's "study" subjects and the histopathology reports, "went missing":
That dope Lewis REALLY did provide us with an early Christmas present.
I know, but I just had to get that title,'Honesty without Fear', in.
'Cause it takes the cake/ biscuit.
You'd think that if he were going to indulge deliberately misleading pseudonyms he might remember to do something about the weird-ass punctuation spacing.
Narad, the first poster on Emily Willingham's blog to sing the praises of the sludge management specialist David Lewis, was Josh Mazer. Could this be the same Josh Mazer who wrote this piece of trash for AoA?
Jake and the ever-ditzy Benedetta weighed in on Mazer's post.
Yeah, Mazer's AoA post was so "good", I linked to it twice. :-)
Eh, speaking of dumpster-diving, the real ones that I have to have are more interesting than the AoA commentariat, which is so repetitively dim that I can't bring myself to it any more. As I recall, Benedetta has so many screws loose that an MRI would be risky, and I'm convinced that if anyone bothers to work out the Gödel number for the Jake algorithm, it will prove to be a multiple of a fractional hat size.
^ "have to hand"
Don't find NeXTstations lying around just anyplace, after all.
So the tablet I bought exactly two weeks suffered infant mortality. I bought it when the little PC I inherited from daughter had its power supply was literally smoking. Ironically the power supply died with the tablet. I was going go bring it in next week because the screen brightness waxed and waned (oscillated), but then today it just refused to power up. So the store just swapped it for a new one!
So I need a cookie,
So the tablet I bought exactly two weeks suffered infant mortality. I bought it when the little PC I inherited from daughter had its power supply was literally smoking. Ironically the power supply died with the tablet. I was going go bring it in next week because the screen brightness waxed and waned (oscillated), but then today it just refused to power up. So the store just swapped it for a new one!
So I need a cookie,
Orac -- thought you would like to see this support from Australia
they had some fear related to vaicencs. This, even though, 90% said they saw vaicencs as an important way to prevent disease.As a PR person (and someone who would fall solidly in that 54%) I wonder about what's being done wrong in the "great vaccine debate." Obviously, the bulk of scientific studies, such as many you cite, say that vaicencs are safe for our children. Others--and a growing chorus of vocal parents--say not so fast there. I wonder what we could do more to help the 54%, admittedly like myself, get past the fear. Maybe it's not so much WHAT is being said as HOW it's being said. I hear so much "I'm right and I'm smarter than you and my data is better and you should be smart enough to see that" (not you specifically, just the debate in general) on both sides...and that's not conducive to a discussion OR changing mindsets.What do you think we can do to change the tone of the dialogue from the smarty-pants scientists on one side and the yelling mamas on the other side? How can we better present our information to better understand and move past the 54% dilemma?Thoughts?
Our data is better. Having said that, we don't try to convince the "true believers". They're too far gone. What we do is try to reach the fence-sitters and those who have been deceived by the anti-vaxxers.
Casting the "debate" as "smarty-pants scientists on one side and the yelling mamas on the other side" is misleading. The anti-vaxxers have made up their minds and not even the mental equivalent of a thermonuclear warhead will get them to see the flaws in their beliefs.
I seem to have missed the part that involves explaining what 54% of what it is that you are referring to.