Fake weight-loss study example of wider problem

bad science

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Another interesting article in the Conversation – Trolling our confirmation bias: one bite and we’re easily sucked in by Will Grant. It underlines a point  I have often made – that the sensible reader must approach the scientific literature intelligently and critically.
Grant describes a “scientific” prank which fooled many news outlets who reported the “scientific finding”, and, therefore, many readers.

“Last week science journalist John Bohannon revealed that the whole study was an elaborate prank, a piece of terrible science he and documentary film makers Peter Onneken and Diana Löbl – with general practitioner Gunter Frank and financial analyst Alex Droste-Haars – had set up to reveal the corruption at the heart of the “diet research-media complex”.”

The first trick

This was more than just planting a fictitious “science” story:

“To begin the study they recruited a tiny sample of 15 people willing to go on a diet for three weeks. They divided the sample into three groups: one followed a low carbohydrate diet; another followed that diet but also got a 42 gram bar of chocolate every day; and finally the control group were asked to make no changes to their regular diet.

Throughout the experiment the researchers measured the participants in 18 different ways, including their weight, cholesterol, sodium, blood protein levels, their sleep quality and their general well being.”

So – that was the first trick. “Measuring such a tiny sample in so many ways means you’re almost bound to find something vaguely reportable.” As Bohannon explained:

“Think of the measurements as lottery tickets. Each one has a small chance of paying off in the form of a “significant” result that we can spin a story around and sell to the media. The more tickets you buy, the more likely you are to win. We didn’t know exactly what would pan out — the headline could have been that chocolate improves sleep or lowers blood pressure — but we knew our chances of getting at least one “statistically significant” result were pretty good.”

Publication

Now to get credibility they needed to publish in a scientific journal:

“But again, Bohannon chose the path that led away from truth, picking a journal from his extensive list of open access academic journals (more on this below). Although the journal, (International Archives of Medicine), looks somewhat like a real academic journal, there was no peer review. It was accepted within 24 hours, and published two weeks later.”

Now for the publicity

Bohannon then whipped up a press release to bait the media :

“The key, Bohannon stated, was to “exploit journalists’ incredible laziness” – to write the press release so that reporters had the story laid out on a plate for them, as it were. As he later wrote, he “felt a queazy mixture of pride and disgust as our lure zinged out into the world”. And a great many swallowed it whole.

Headlines around the world screamed Has the world gone coco? Eating chocolate can help you LOSE weight, Need a ‘sweeter’ way to lose weight? Eat chocolates! and, perhaps more boringly, Study: Chocolate helps weight loss.”

We should be concerned at the way the news media and reporters handle such matters:

“None did the due diligence — such as looking at the journal, looking for details about the number of study participants, or even looking for the institute Bohannon claimed to work for (which exists only as a website) — that was necessary to find out if the study was legitimate.”

This criticism, unfortunately, applies to almost anything in our news media. it really is a matter of “reader beware.”

Grant summarises the process that leads to such devious “science’ stories in the media:

  • we’ve got researchers around the world who have taken to heart the dictum that the quantity of research outputs is more important than the quality
  • we’ve got journal publishers at the high quality end that care about media impact more than facts
  • we’ve got journal publishers at the no-quality end who exploit the desperation of researchers by offering the semblance of publication for a modest sum
  • we’ve got media outlets pushing their journalists ever harder to fill our eyeballs with clickbaity and sharebaity content, regardless of truth
  • and we’ve got us: simple creatures prone to click, read and share the things that appeal to our already existing biases and baser selves.

 Problem wider than the diet industry

Bohannon gives his prank as an example of a “diet research-media complex . . that’s almost rotten to the core.” I agree readers should be far more sceptical of such diet-related science stories. But the problem is far wider than that industry. I think is particularly relevant to any area where people are ideologically motivated, or their feelings of inadequacy or danger, can be manipulated.

Take, for example, the anti-fluoride movement. I have given many examples on this blog of science being misrepresented, or poor quality science being published and promoted by this movement. There are examples of anti-fluoride scientists doing poor quality research – often relying on “statistical fairy tales. Examples of using shonky journals to get poor quality work published. But also examples of such work making its way through inadequate journal peer-review processes.

These anti-fluoride researchers, and their allied activist groups, commonly use press releases to promote their shonky findings.  Social media like Facebook and Twitter are roped in to spread the message even more widely.

There is also a link with big business interests – in this case an active anti-fluoride “natural” health business-research-media complex.

So readers beware – there are people, businesses and ideological interests out there attempting to fool you. And they are not averse to using shonky or false science, biased press releases and lazy journalists to do this.

 See also: A rough guide to spotting bad science from Compound Interest (Click to enlarge).

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77 responses to “Fake weight-loss study example of wider problem

  1. soundhill,

    What a good example of shonky reporting!

    No-one can prevent lower echelon news sources producing stuff like this, but someone with intelligence and critical facilities can easily recognise it for what it is – verbatim reproduction of a press release from a source with known bias.

    The way the same press release was covered in the New York Times and Washington Post also gives a hint to its significance.

    Like

  2. T A Crosbie

    The other side of fluoridation (apologies to Ken)
    Take, for example, the pro-fluoride movement. There are many examples of science being misrepresented, or poor quality science being published and promoted by this movement. There are examples of pro-fluoride scientists doing poor quality research – often relying on “statistical fairy tales”. There are also examples of such work making its way through inadequate journal peer-review processes.
    These pro-fluoride researchers, and their allied activist groups, commonly use press releases to promote their shonky findings. They also use professional ‘spin doctors’ to provide credibility to their ‘safe, beneficial and cost effective’ position.
    There is also a link with big business interests – in this case an active pro-fluoride industrial business-research-media complex.
    So readers beware – there are people, businesses and ideological interests out there attempting to fool you. And they are not averse to using shonky or false science, biased press releases and lazy journalists to do this.
    Ken – The rough guide to spotting bad science from Compound Interest could easily apply to the pro-fluoridation lobby.

    Like

  3. So here is a challenge for you Trev.

    Give me at least one specific example of so-called “pro-fluoride” research (which I assume you mean something not published in Fluoride or by well known anti-fluoride activists).

    Then we can discuss it. (I am not claiming there is no paper like your description – I just want to know which ones you think they are).

    Please note, your failure to do this will be interpreted as your inability to do so.

    Like

  4. soundhill1

    Stuartg what are the links?
    But anyway the Times is a Murdoch enterprise and James was on the board of Glaxo Smith Kline.

    Like

  5. soundhill,

    There aren’t any links. That’s my point.

    Upper echelon news sources recognised the (lack of) significance of that press release by not reporting it.

    Like

  6. soundhill1

    Stuartg you were trained a while back.

    Here is another article from Richard Horton. This time he seems to be trying to rein in the former NEJM editors writing in the BMJ. But please take in the opinion about how there may need to be a different approach to pharmaceutical companies from what was happening when you were trained.
    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2815%2961034-0/fulltext?elsca1=etoc&elsca2=email&elsca3=0140-6736_20150606_385_9984_&elsca4=Public%20Health|Infectious%20Diseases|Health%20Policy|Internal%2FFamily%20Medicine|General%20Surgery|Lancet

    So many enterprises which formerly intended just to serve, such as universities, have been encouraged to put patents and profits as very important.

    Here read from the profile of the new Sir, Sir Peter Gluckman:
    “My group had started to make a number of findings that could be patented, that had value to the major pharmaceutical companies and in time were to lead to several NZ-based biotechnology spinouts.”

    And the approach has been forced right through the public service. Everything has to be turned into business opportunities.

    James Murdoch will not be encouraging reporting of vaccine dishonesty if it may put his business in a bad light.

    As an extra I see Gluckman’s main field now is epigenetics. I hope it is understanding for the masses and not only expensive treatments for the few.

    Brian Sandle

    Like

  7. soundhill,

    Ken blogged about how lower echelon journals accepted poorly researched and written papers for publishing without critical review. He then commented about how authors then write a press release which some news services repeat without applying journalistic skills to the press release.

    You provided a very good example of such shonky journalism; a press release that a lower echelon news service repeated verbatim.

    I merely pointed out that better news services (BBC, CNN, NYT, WP, RNZ, etc) paid the same press release the attention it deserved by ignoring it.

    (By the way, don’t make assumptions about my training – I have exams to sit next month as part of my training)

    Like

  8. soundhill1

    Stuartg. NYT is a Murdoch paper. Murdoch has been on the Board of Glaxo Smith Kline. Murdoch has been into so many (news) businesses, CNN.

    And, Stuart, your post implies then that dishonesty is a normal part of the job.

    Like

  9. You silly b***** Stuart, don’t you know that BMJ is part of a conspiracy run by Rupert?

    Anyway, that could be the case, it’s good enough for some people around here to run with it.

    Like

  10. So’s the Beeb, Radio New Zealand, New Zealand Herald, and every other news source that failed to report on that news release! In other words, more than 99% of the world news media is part of the conspiracy.

    soundhill – dishonesty is a normal part of what job? Is it honest for a journalist to repeat a press release verbatim without applying the skills they are paid to use? As happened in your example?

    Like

  11. soundhill1

    Stuartg: “(By the way, don’t make assumptions about my training – I have exams to sit next month as part of my training)”

    You said you trained in psychiatry years ago.

    Like

  12. soundhill1

    Stuartg The article is JFK’s lawyer nephew making serious accusations against the CDC.

    Like

  13. Accusations are cheap.

    Like

  14. soundhill1

    Richard your comment implies that RFK is wasting the time of Congress just for the hell of it. Being a high profile lawyer he has much more to lose than you do with mischievous accusations.

    Like

  15. Don’t be an idiot.
    Accusations are cheap.
    Accusations are not evidence.
    Learn the difference.

    Like

  16. soundhill1

    Richard here it is updated and taken to the Vermont legislature on May 5 by this Master of Laws.
    http://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2016/WorkGroups/House%20Health%20Care/Bills/H.98/Witness%20Testimony/H.98~Robert%20Kennedy~Testimony%20of%20Robert%20F.%20Kennedy%20Jr.~5-5-2015.pdf

    And here’s one for you: since you may claim the increase in measles is a result of poor numbers of vaccinations, how about turning that from an accusation, and give a good reason why measles was less prevalent before MMR.

    Like

  17. soundhill,

    I trained in psychiatry many years ago and continue training in the field to this day. I trained in many other fields as well and still continue training in them to this day. It appears that your training ended at some stage and you made an assumption that training for other people also ends; in my chosen career the training continues indefinitely.

    The article is a reprint of a press release from RFK. His is the only name attached to it. More than 99% of the news media acknowledged its lack of significance by completely ignoring it. Many bloggers have since deconstructed the article.

    Like

  18. soundhill,

    Stick to one subject. Flitting from one topic to the other suggests a lack of concentration at the very least.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. soundhill1

    Richard to save you some work, this says low vaccination rates in China “contributed” to an outbreak. Though the vaccine effectiveness of the sort of rubella control vaccine they use seems to be greater than the usual MMR. I do not quite understand but the tail of the measles effectivenes distribution of the type of MMR used in the West seems to drop right down to 56 for the 95% confidence interval, as opposed to only 73 for the Chinese vaccine.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X15005691

    Of course as we know we can trust no-one.

    In the case of the Chinese vaccines the single measles one does not do better than if three are combined it seems.

    Vaccination ages and effects are interesting.

    Like

  20. soundhill1

    Stuartg: “The article is a reprint of a press release from RFK. His is the only name attached to it.”

    No Stuartg you have failed to note the citations.

    And as for taking one thing at a time, you might apply that to vaccines, though the Chinese seem to have made them work together.

    Now need to search for unwanted vaccination immune responses which may attack pancreas or brain.

    This is still somewhat in the brainstorming stage, but if you are trying to keep up you should read more of it than you did of RFK’s recommendation to the Vermont Legislature.

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/04/depression-allergic-reaction-inflammation-immune-system

    Like

  21. soundhill,

    Ken’s blog was about (an experiment in) shonky science, shonky press releases and subsequent shonky reporting.

    You gave a good example of it happening in the real world. It’s not even attributed to a journalist, just to a politician.

    Your subsequent comments imply that you intended the post as a contradiction to Ken. I would suggest that you re-read his post and then apply his “reader beware” suggestion to your own example.

    Don’t accept such shonky reporting at face value, especially if it appears to confirm your own bias. There’s many good reasons why that press release was not reported by more than 99% of the world’s news media.

    Vaccines have nothing to do with Ken’s original post – that’s just you changing the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Stuartg: “Vaccines have nothing to do with Ken’s original post – that’s just you changing the subject.”

    How do you discuss in a vacuum?

    Presumably the answer to what I asked is to apply the 12 points to everyone of RFK’s citations.

    Interesting you are saying it had no media attention, but Ken is complaining of plenty of media attention.

    So it is interesting to look into why media will go with something and not something else.

    Like

  23. Brian, you are blatantly planting ideologically motivated links here aimed at building scientific doubt. That is a clear tactic of yours and you do it repeatedly by putting links in comments which have nothing to do with the post.

    It would be more honest for you to set up your own blog for this purpose, rather than being a cuckoo here.

    I thought it was very noticeable that despite you own pet “theories” about calcium in drinking water you refused to come to the aid of Sauerheber who was putting forward his own pet “theories” on Ca. Surely if you were really interested in a discussion (rather than planting links) you would have done so.

    Like

  24. Ken” “Brian, you are blatantly planting ideologically motivated links here aimed at building scientific doubt”

    So we need to check the ideology as well as the science.

    And you may be calling it ideology when a study passes all your 12 points but you don’t like the outcome. Such as the CI range for the Western vs Chinese measles vaccine effectiveness, dipping into a much less effective range. Call it ideological, and try to put all the blame for the recent measles outbreak on vaccination rates instead?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. soundhill1

    Richard: “You silly b***** Stuart, don’t you know that BMJ is part of a conspiracy run by Rupert?”

    Richard taking liberties with a word meaning.

    BMJ is funded by advertising. How can it continue if it accepts articles critical of a sponsor’s product?

    Like

  26. Just go away Brian.
    Can’t you take a hint?
    For months now Ken has been very tolerant of your idiocy and surreptitious behaviour.
    Hasn’t it dawned on you that the only people engaging with you have been trying, invariably and fruitlessly, to point out to you that your behaviour and methodology is flawed and dishonest.
    You refuse to take it on board and continue to infest this blog contributing nothing of relevance.
    Wake up.

    Like

  27. soundhill1

    Richard could you please exemplify?:
    “your behaviour and methodology … dishonest.”

    Like

  28. In his last previous comment here Ken succinctly describes your use abuse of the comments section, think about it.

    Like

  29. soundhill,

    “BMJ is funded by advertising.”

    So, of course that means it’s free to everybody, isn’t it? That there’s no need for any other funding? Let’s do a 10 second check on the website… http://promotions.bmj.com/bmj/subscribe-to-the-bmj/

    Hmm… I suggest that you check your “facts” before parroting them.

    As to your original example of a shonky press release and shonky reporting… I originally made the assumption that this example given by you involved poor journalism. In fact, there was no journalist or even reporting involved. It was completely and utterly RFK himself.

    “Ring of Fire is a nationally syndicated American talk radio program hosted by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder.” – direct quote from the home page of Ring of Fire.

    That relationship does lend itself to somewhat biased commentary, doesn’t it? I mean, stating your own conspiracy theories as though they were facts? Implying that this was incisive investigative reporting? It’s no wonder other news media completely ignored this press release!

    Since you are keen on letting us know who the owners of other media outlets are, perhaps you could now tell us who the owner of Ring of Fire is, and then demonstrate their degree of control over what Ring of Fire publishes? Or are these inconvenient facts that you are going to totally ignore?

    Like

  30. soundhill1

    Stuartg wrote:
    “(I wrote: “BMJ is funded by advertising.”)

    So, of course that means it’s free to everybody, isn’t it?”

    Thanks for pointing out that there is some more access with subscriptions.

    I see now I could have included the word, “partly”.

    Some countries where the food quality may be suspect I may be safer eating at the MacDonalds restaurant. But eating there partly is not insulation against food-borne disease.

    Still trying to perpetuate the two-valued bandwagon, Stuartg.

    Richard Christie points me to Ken’s recent post where he asks why I didn’t didn’t come to Sauerheber’s aid. I am trying to “aid” everyone, getting them to think.

    Richard Christie uses a lot of emotive words, he is trying to get us to feel. On TV a long time ago I saw sceptics at their conference practising laughing at people’s ideas. In my view sceptics lose power with their deprecative approach. TA Crosbie recently reported about it on Openparachute. Laughing at people’s ideas is effective even if you are wrong.

    Brian Sandle

    Like

  31. Richard Christie uses a lot of emotive words, he is trying to get us to feel.

    Wrong yet again.

    I use direct and accurate descriptions of your approach and the material you post, except your links, I’ve long since given up on bothering to read such links, there is only so much tripe one can put up with.
    .
    I’m trying to get you to think, have a little self awareness, failing that, to go away.

    One thing that I’m particularly sure of, is that you are very lucky that you turned up here a week or so after Cedric ceased to post. We on the other hand, not so lucky, as his take downs of the stuff you’ve treated us to would, I’m sure, have been a joy to read.

    Like

  32. soundhill,

    You are parroting conspiracy “theories” that have long been disproved apart from in the fervid minds of conspiracy fetishists. And by parroting, I mean repeating, without filtering through a modicum of common sense, decades old statements from people who have never produced a shred of evidence to back up those statements.

    When I point out to you that references you produce are full of bias, and even let you know about the bias on their home page, you treat this as an inconvenient fact that you then totally ignore.

    Are you going to continue ignoring those facts I pointed out about Ring of Fire? I take it, by your silence, that you are not going to tell us who holds the purse strings for Ring of Fire, or who controls the advertising. Why not? You are so keen to do it for media outlets that you want to denigrate.

    Stand back. Take an objective look at all of the media sources you mention. Why do you apply different standards to sources you approve of compared with those you don’t approve of? Why are you using a double standard? Shouldn’t someone who claims to be using the scientific method apply the same standards to all media sources? If not, isn’t that being two-faced?

    I would agree with Richard. I’m also trying to get you to think and have a little self awareness. I also hope that others reading Ken’s blog are noting the difference between Ken’s scientific approach and your approach to the same topic.

    If you think that Richard is laughing at you, please take comfort from the following quote:

    “The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.” – Carl Sagan.

    Like

  33. soundhill1

    Stuartg wrote:
    “Are you going to continue ignoring those facts I pointed out about Ring of Fire? I take it, by your silence, that you are not going to tell us who holds the purse strings for Ring of Fire, or who controls the advertising. Why not? You are so keen to do it for media outlets that you want to denigrate.

    Stand back. Take an objective look at all of the media sources you mention. Why do you apply different standards to sources you approve of compared with those you don’t approve of?”

    So you are trying to be helping Ken answer my question how does he deal with it..

    Ken pointed out science intended to mislead. So I asked about principles that night be used when someone like RKP is trying to sell his book. In that case it is not a peer reviewed article and he does not have to declare possible influences. You are coming nowhere near answering my points.

    Like

  34. soundhill1

    Richard: “tripe” – emotive word intended to try to swing a supposed bandwagon.

    Like

  35. soundhill1

    Stuartg I asked Ken the question because it seems that getting interests declared is nowhere near sufficient in deciding truth. In other words point 3 is no real help.
    But can apply the other points.
    No 1. Sensationalising things: A common ploy in sceptic language.

    Like

  36. Don’t be so dishonest, Brian. You claim “Ken pointed out science intended to mislead.” I did nothing of the sort so I suggest an apology and withdrawal is in order – yet again.

    You blatantly used my post to make a quite irrelevant comment with the sole purpose of promoting doubt in science. And you continue to do so with the current comment.

    You are exposing your self as an opportunist and disrespectful troll. This raises the question employing moderation to filter out such dishonest attacks on me,

    >

    Like

  37. soundhill1

    Ken: “Brian, you are blatantly planting ideologically motivated links here aimed at building scientific doubt”

    Ken this article is supposed to be about thinking of ways to test “science.”

    I don’t know if by “scientific doubt” you are meaning in a particular piece of work, or what.

    Here is an approach by the new ONZ Sir Peter Gluckman talking to Chris Laidlaw 2011.
    http://www.tumblr.com/search/sir%20peter%20gluckman

    There is some sort of reference to our sorts of fights.

    Like

  38. No apology for your dishonest misrepresentation of me, then Brian?

    >

    Like

  39. soundhill1

    Ken: “Don’t be so dishonest, Brian. You claim “Ken pointed out science intended to mislead.” I did nothing of the sort so I suggest an apology and withdrawal is in order – yet again.”

    Ken I posted my post before that appeared to me.

    I was trying to remind Stuartg this article started with you pointing out a fake article which misled news people. Then went on to processes for checking.

    Like

  40. So where is the apology, Brian? You dishonestly misrepresented me.

    >

    Like

  41. soundhill1

    Ken sorry I left out the word “fake” in front of “science” with quotation marks, perhaps.

    “Ken pointed out a crafted piece of fake science intended to mislead.” Is that OK?

    Then you gave a helpful detection list, but nothing in it about tails of distributions, which I referred to regarding the MMR failure rate abstract.

    Is it OK to discuss your list? You yourself as well as Gluckman in the interview say science is always evolving.

    And sorry RFK not RKP, don’t know where that came from!

    Like

  42. Stuartg wrote: “There’s many good reasons why that press release was not reported by more than 99% of the world’s news media.”

    One reason could be that Merck has been working hard to keep the MMR case out of the media.

    But the mumps factor ineffectiveness case is on this general lawyers’ website:
    http://www.law360.com/articles/574389/antitrust-fca-claims-on-merck-mumps-vaccine-to-advance
    That entry followed the day after Merck lost a count against it if I understand correctly:
    http://www.rescuepost.com/files/59-opinion.pdf

    Like

  43. soundhill1

    Richard Christie wrote: “your behaviour and methodology is flawed and dishonest.”
    And he is trying to justify continuing that approach by not reading the evidence as he says: “I use direct and accurate descriptions of your approach and the material you post, except your links, I’ve long since given up on bothering to read such links, there is only so much tripe one can put up with.”

    So here I quote from the document of Count I against Merck:
    “Count I: Monopolization in violation of the Sherman Act. 15 U.S.C. § 2. (Dkt.
    No. 26 ¶¶ 151-55.) In this Count, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant falsified the
    seroconversion rate of its Mumps Vaccine in its products and to the FDA. (Dkt.No. 26 ¶ 152.) Plaintiffs argue that because of this falsification, Defendant [Merck] was effectively excluding competition from the relevant market. (Dkt. No. 26 ¶ 154.)”

    “Plaintiffs argue that by deliberately concealing information
    known to Defendant about the efficacy of the vaccine, other potential entrants into the mumps vaccine market were precluded because of their presumption that the U.S. government would not create additional contracts for new vaccine products while the Defendant’s vaccine had a 95%
    efficacy rate. The basic theory is that Defendant presented fraudulent information to the government that secured Defendant a monopoly over the market. While a slightly novel theory of liability, at this stage, the Court finds that Plaintiff has sufficiently pled a claim of violation of the Sherman Act.”

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Whatever, Brian.

    You can continue posting links to and parroting opinions by scientific fraudsters, conspiracy theories sites, talkback radio, etc.
    I’ll continue to consider them tripe and I will continue to ignore them.
    And you’ll continue to look like Bozo the clown.

    Like

  45. Richard: “You can continue posting links to and parroting opinions by scientific fraudsters”
    But unless you read the links you look silly.

    And I have reported court-verified scientific fraud by a major drug company and you say, “whatever.” Why has it not been in main stream media? Probably for a similar reason the correct parts of what Wakefield has been trying to help with cannot get into main stream media.

    And you Richard were a party to fraud as you tried to perpetuate the notion that Wakefield is anti-vaccine. You will look silly to thinking people if in response you again spiel off your mantra about Wakefield.

    Like

  46. soundhill,

    What a flurry of posts you’ve produced!

    I guess all those subject changes, all of those words, are there to hide that you’re not going to answer my questions about Ring of Fire. Obviously the answers are inconvenient truths that you choose to ignore.

    With sources that you don’t approve of, those that don’t agree with your world view, you allege all sorts of bias, editorial selectivity and financial improprieties, all without producing a scrap of evidence to support your allegations. Sources that you approve of, however, are accepted without any form of questioning.

    Take Ring of Fire, for example, a site that you obviously approve of. It acknowledges its bias and editorial selectivity on its home page. In the small print it even warns people “You use this Site and rely on material contained in this Site at your own risk.,” and “The Site, and all materials in this Site, are provided without warranties of any kind.” The site itself tells you that it is an unreliable source and not to rely on it!

    “So you are trying to be helping Ken answer my question how does he deal with it..(sic)”

    No. I’ll repeat myself to make it clear: I’m trying to get you to think and have a little self awareness.

    Even if you aren’t aware of the duplicity shown in your differing approaches to sources dependent on your approval, then others certainly are.

    Like

  47. For those who don’t understand soundhill’s change of subject to Wakefield:

    Andrew Wakefield used to be a doctor. He received large payments from lawyers who wanted “evidence” of illness caused by vaccines, specifically the MMR triple vaccine. He manufactured the “evidence” that the lawyers wanted and announced it at a press release, which resulted in lots of people rejecting the MMR vaccine. He took out patents on single vaccines to replace the MMR, so that if the MMR was replaced by single vaccine alternatives he would receive payment for every “single” vaccine given. He had a complete lack of ethics (paying children at birthday parties to have blood tests taken…)

    These are not allegations. They have been proven by tribunals and in courts.

    The result is that Wakefield has been struck off the medical register and is no longer allowed to practice medicine in any shape or form.

    Andrew Wakefield is ultimately the cause of the recent measles outbreaks around the world because many people believed his lies and didn’t give their children the MMR vaccine.

    There are still some people who support Wakefield and think that he’s the bees knees. soundhill is obviously one of them.

    Like

  48. soundhill,

    You’ve inadvertently provided another example of your different approach depending on whether something fits your world view or not – You are prepared to believe the courts when they find against Merck, but not when they find against wonder-boy Wakefield.

    By the way, your reference is not about ” court-verified scientific fraud by a major drug company.” If you had read it, you would have realised it’s about breach of contract: “Plaintiffs allege that Defendant breached contracts with the Plaintiffs by delivering vaccine with a lower-than-promised efficacy rate.”

    It’s no wonder that Richard considers your links to be tripe, when you don’t even appear to understand them yourself.

    Like

  49. soundhill1

    “By the way, your reference is not about ” court-verified scientific fraud by a major drug company.” If you had read it, you would have realised it’s about breach of contract: “Plaintiffs allege that Defendant breached contracts with the Plaintiffs by delivering vaccine with a lower-than-promised efficacy rate.””

    When a drug company *promises* it does so by providing research to the gov.

    This commercial case depended on proof that Merck altered the research outcomes:
    “Plaintiffs allege that Defendant falsified, abandoned, and manipulated testing data that should have been shared with the government in order to fraudulently mislead the government into purchasing the mumps vaccine. (Dkt. No. 12 ¶ 155.) As such, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant knowingly incorporated falsified records material to their fraudulent claims for
    payment for the vaccine. 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)(B).1”

    In order to allow Count I the Court has had to agree that there was fraud.

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  50. soundhill1

    Stuartg: “I guess all those subject changes, all of those words, are there to hide that you’re not going to answer my questions about Ring of Fire.”

    I repeat RFK (not RKP as I said sorry, Routledge and Kegan Paul, or even Robert Kennedy Publications, that is different) was using Ring of Fire to sell his book. but probably in a more honest fashion than Merck used the academic science process. So I want a rethink about the adequacy of what appears as science. I want Ken’s list extended.

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  51. soundhill1

    The way it looks at the moment is that if you declare an interest then that gives you the moral right to falsify or bend stuff your way. So I think that the number 3 test needs examining.

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  52. soundhill1

    Richard I cannot discuss Ken’s list without illustrating.

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  53. soundhill,

    “The way it looks at the moment is that if you declare an interest then that gives you the moral right to falsify or bend stuff your way.”

    That’s a good summary of what RFK does on Ring of Fire.

    You still are not answering my questions about Ring of Fire. You know the questions, they’re the same ones you raise for news sources with articles that you don’t approve of: who owns it, who funds it, editorial responsibilities, advertising income, etc. Why don’t you ask the same questions about Ring of Fire? Anyone would think that you are avoiding inconvenient facts by ignoring them.

    Are you even aware of your dichotomous approach towards different articles?

    Did you actually read the conclusions of the case against Merck? Let’s try a few quotes: “Plaintiffs have not pled with sufficient detail.” “the Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed to meet the applicable pleading standards.” “This claim does not meet the pleading standards set forth in…” “The Court is not persuaded.” “this Court dismisses Plaintiffs’ Count VI” and “the Court will grant Defendant’s motion to dismiss.”

    Now, I’m not a lawyer specialising in USA law, and, I suspect, neither are you. That means that we can both read, re-read, and quote away as much as we like. Neither of us have the training or qualifications to understand the nuances of the document. I recognise that fact, but do you? I’ll just repeat what I originally said – that it’s not the “court-verified scientific fraud by a major drug company” that you claim.

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  54. soundhill1

    “Did you actually read the conclusions of the case against Merck? Let’s try a few quotes: “Plaintiffs have not pled with sufficient detail.” “the Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed to meet the applicable pleading standards.” “This claim does not meet the pleading standards set forth in…” “The Court is not persuaded.” “this Court dismisses Plaintiffs’ Count VI” and “the Court will grant Defendant’s motion to dismiss.””

    That was for Counts II to VI.

    That they accepted Count I was sufficient to show they accepted Merck’s lying.

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  55. soundhill1

    “that it’s not the “court-verified scientific fraud by a major drug company” that you claim.”

    The failure of the action on Counts II to VI was based on such faults as the Plaintiffs forgetting the state boundary wold be a stumbling block.

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  56. soundhill1

    “Andrew Wakefield is ultimately the cause of the recent measles outbreaks around the world because many people believed his lies and didn’t give their children the MMR vaccine.”

    So you are saying he should have kept his mouth shut rather than have a dishonesty charge trumped up against him. He did not say MMR causes autism.

    Are you like Richard Christie with the “whatever” comment indicating it’s of no consequence. I suppose you get hardened to families’ difficulties with autism if you work in mental health.

    If MMR protects against mumps, and mumps are a cause of encephalitis which may lead to autism, then why is not autism decreasing?

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  57. So you are saying he should have kept his mouth shut rather than have a dishonesty charge trumped up against him. He did not say MMR causes autism.

    Andrew Jeremy Wakefield (born c. 1957) is a British former surgeon and medical researcher, known for his fraudulent 1998 research paper in support of the now-discredited claim that there was a link between the administration of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and the appearance of autism and bowel disease.

    Source

    Pity poor Andrew Wakefield.

    Actually, on second thought, Wakefield deserves no pity at all. After all, he is the man who almost single-handedly launched the scare over the MMR vaccine in Britain when he published his infamous Lancet paper in 1998 in which he claimed to have linked the MMR vaccine to regressive autism and inflammation of the colon, a study that was followed up four years later with a paper that claimed to have found the strain of attenuated measles virus in the MMR in the colons of autistic children by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). It would be one thing if these studies were sound science. If that were the case, then Wakefield’s work would have been very important and would have correctly cast doubt on the safety of the MMR. Unfortunately, they were not, and, indeed, most of the authors of the 1998 Lancet paper later withdrew their names from it.

    Over the next decade, aided and abetted by useful idiots in the media, by British newspapers and other media that sensationalized the story, and the antivaccine movement, which hailed Wakefield as a hero, Wakefield managed to drive MMR vaccination rates in the U.K. below the level of herd immunity, from 93% to 75% (and as low as 50% in some parts of London). As a result Wakefield has been frequently sarcastically “thanked” for his leadership role in bringing the measles back to the U.K. to the point where, fourteen years after measles had been declared under control in the U.K., it was in 2008 declared endemic again.

    Source

    Pity, rather, poor Brian Sandle

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  58. soundhill1

    Wakefield did not say MMR causes autism. How about you quote or retract, Richard.

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  59. I’m not responsible for whatever the voices in your head are saying to you, Brian.

    Retract what exactly?

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  60. Wakefield did not say MMR causes autism.

    Here is Wakefield’s application for patent for is single dose measles vaccine It is one of several avenues that Wakefield might profit from should use of the MMR vaccine discontinue.

    Inventors given as Wakefield and H Fundenberg

    It is written in the first person and refers to one of the writer’s earlier patent applications also in name of Wakefield.

    Page 1 (pg10 of the pdf) immediately following after the description of “my” earlier application (line 10) the writer states

    “It has now also been shown that use of the MMR vaccine (which is taken to include live attenuated measles vaccine virus, measles virus, mumps vaccine virus and rubella vaccine virus, and wild strains of the aforementioned viruses) results in ileal lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, chronic colitis and pervasive developmental disorder including autism (RBD), in some infants.”

    http://briandeer.com/mmr/1998-vaccine-patent.pdf (pdf file)

    Wake up to yourself, Brian Sandle

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  61. Should have read

    Page 1 (pg10 of the pdf) at line 36, immediately following after the description of “my” earlier application (see line 10) the writer states

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  62. Richard and I can also produce a patent for chemtrails.

    A patent is something you apply for quickly in the hope it will become of use.

    Show me where Wakefield tried to influence the public with that stuff.

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  63. Maybe Merck’s lower potency MMR indicates that they know of trouble and are trying to lessen it. Need to look back for older efficacy figures.

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  64. A patent is something you apply for quickly in the hope it will become of use.

    Show me where Wakefield tried to influence the public with that stuff.

    Now you are being a tool, on top of being a sucker and useful idiot for fraudsters.

    You demanded a quote from Wakefield saying that MMR caused measles. You got one.

    You ignore it and shift the goalposts. Answering that would be as easy as the last, under 3mins of research. But then you’d just demand some new nonsense.

    You are a loser. I’ve got better things to do than entertain tools such as you on the net.

    Your comments now go in my kill file.

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  65. Ken, I’d respectfully ask that you consider blocking Brian Sandle from this blog.

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  66. Richard Christie, unable to have a discussion.

    Thanks for the patent.

    I do now remember seeing a video of Wakefield and I came in just when he was warning against a particular product but I did not catch which.

    He said his research paper did not claim MMR causes autism.

    Maybe he was telling parents about his research relating to his patents.

    Getting a patent is different from peer review. Don’t you think some of it sounds a bit far-fetched?

    Richard very conveniently pulling out of discussion so as not to have to answer about the Merck case.

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  67. Richard it would have made the blog replies go a lot better if you had given out before a hint for me to follow what you were saying, rather than just repeating that sentence about Wakefield.

    I only have to think you are trying to work out a way that my ideas are not heard so much.

    Like

  68. soundhill,

    Again trying to divert attention from his unwillingness to ask the same questions of his own sources that he does of everyone else’s. Avoiding inconvenient facts by ignoring them?

    Like

  69. soundhill,

    How can anyone participate in discussions with you, when you won’t answer questions of your own sources that you expect to be answered before you will even consider other sources?

    Like

  70. soundhill,

    Wakefield “said his research paper did not claim MMR causes autism.”

    Literally true. He said it at the press conference following publication of the paper. This was much to the surprise of his co-authors who later removed their names from the paper.

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  71. soundhill,

    You are not qualified to discuss the Merck case. Neither am I, nor (probably) Richard.

    “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that” – Ben Goldacre.

    (I suggest that you read both of Ben Goldacre’s books. You’ll find that most of your musings have already been dealt with, either in the books or in the references.)

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  72. Stuartg: “You are not qualified to discuss the Merck case. Neither am I, nor (probably) Richard.”

    Stuart who would approve for me to get an interpretation of this that the Court said?:

    “The basic theory is that Defendant presented fraudulent information to the government that secured Defendant a monopoly over the market. While a slightly novel theory of liability, at this stage, the Court finds that Plaintiff has sufficiently pled a claim of violation of the Sherman Act”

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  73. Stuartg: “(I suggest that you read both of Ben Goldacre’s books. You’ll find that most of your musings have already been dealt with, either in the books or in the references.)”

    What is he like on reductionism?

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  74. “Imagine if public scrutiny gets out of control, rampaging like Frakenstein’s monster across the nation.” Caption from a cartoon with two guys at a desk with a “Genetic Engineering Advisory Body” sign on the desk.

    I looked up Ben Goldacre and reductionism, Stuartg, and in a tweet he points to an article by David King, former molecular biologist, warning of reductionist thinking in such matters as problem child behaviour. It also had a link to that cartoon.

    Ken’s point 4, on the statistical interpretation might be extended to ask for an article’s clearer presentation of “partial correlations,” in interpretation, and when compared to ordinary correlations the hints they give. We’ve been through a long discussion of autism/fluoride/altitude/vitamin D on Openparachute. And ask is the approach reductionist and if so is that justified. Should other factors be considered, as Ken has pointed out. But I feel Ken’s approach saying altitude is a greater predictor of autism than fluoridation needs to be extended to interactions and individuals, and need the tails included.

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  75. Brian, again you misrepresent me badly. I have never claimed “altitude is a greater predictor of autism than fluoridation.”

    This discussion has obviously deteriorated to pure rubbish so I will close it off now.

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