In support of David Gorski

22 Jun

To whomever it may concern,

You have probably recently had to deal with a handful of vitriolic comments regarding the online activities of David Gorski. You will probably have been pointed to an online essay by a young man called Jake Crosby in which he makes a series of claims regarding David Gorski and his ‘ties’ to vaccines/vaccine manufacturers and other entities.

I urge you to read these comments and this essay very, very carefully. Once you do I am in no doubt that you will see what the rest of us clearly can – that this work is the work of a highly impassioned young man who believes that he is right. He believes that vaccines cause autism to state it clearly and he believes that by having some kind of – any kind of – tie to a pharma organisation means that David Gorski is ‘tainted’. But what really annoys master Crosby is the fact that David Gorski regularly blogs in support of the science that clearly shows vaccines do not cause autism and blogs against the pseudo science that attempts – and continually fails- to draw any kind of a link between vaccines and autism.

So this, in master Crosby’s eyes, is David Gorski’s crime – supporting the science and decrying the bad science.

In order to cast some kind of suspicion over David Gorski’s support of science, Crosby has ‘discovered’ that Gorski is conducting research into ways to reuse some types of drugs – drugs developed by Sanofi-Aventis who of course also manufacture some vaccines. And that, despite another few hundred words from master Crosby is that. That is the sum total of his ‘investigation’ and the sum total of David Gorski’s crime.

The only real eye-opener on this issue is that Jake Crosby managed to wring out as many words as he did on this total non-issue.

I have known David Gorski online for a number of years. We often quote one another and link to one anothers posts. We regularly email each other and I was disappointed to be unable to meet him for drinks on a visit to the UK he took a few years ago. In my experience of the man he is rigorous, almost fanatical with regards to accuracy and brings these traits to many areas of blogging and online writing including the investigation of bad science.

Why does it matter to me? It matters because I have an autistic child and an autistic step child. When my autistic child was first diagnosed I firmly believed that her autism was caused by vaccines. It was only through being exposed to writings of David Gorski and his peers on the science of autism and the bad science of the autism/vaccine connection that I eventually saw for myself what was obvious: vaccines don’t cause autism and never did.

Scientists such as David Gorski often blog and write online anonymously. They do this because to be exposed to the sort of people Jake Crosby colludes with often means being exposed to harassment and threats. David Gorski is now finding that out for himself. I hope that you as his peers, colleagues and employers will see how vital it is that David Gorski continues blogging and that you will support him in both his work and his blogging.

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21 Responses to “In support of David Gorski”

  1. Joseph June 22, 2010 at 18:57 #

    Finding irrelevant Pharma ties is clearly Jake’s current perseveration. He probably spends a lot of time in it. That would be fine, if it didn’t involve trying to stir up trouble for people with their employers.

    Jake’s behavior will one day catch up to him.

  2. KWombles June 22, 2010 at 20:05 #

    Roger pointed out on Countering that Jake has posted the following comment this morning (Roger posted one paragraph of Jake’s):

    “Do we complain to Gorski’s medical board? Strike him off? Get his papers retracted? Seek to end his career as a researcher for good? He can’t logically support the stifling of autism research, and then not expect the autism community to attempt to do the same to his.

    Meanwhile, his blog is the third highest trafficked “health” blog on the internet, above The New York Times and Wall Street Journal Health blogs, according to a site called “eDrugSearch” (which I assume is also pharma-sponsored). If he thinks the government should exclude us from the media, we should get him to stop blogging. It’s only fair.”

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/06/david-gorskis-financial-pharma-ties-what-he-didnt-tell-you.html?cid=6a00d8357f3f2969e20133f1917dd8970b#comment-6a00d8357f3f2969e20133f1917dd8970b

    A key difference here is that Gorski doesn’t seek to stifle people’s first amendment rights; the AoAers are actively attempting to silence Gorski. There is no first amendment right to equal media coverage.

    • Sullivan June 22, 2010 at 20:14 #

      KWombles,

      Dr. Gorski is a very strong proponent of first amendment rights. He has criticized pro-science autism advocates on this account.

      The logical fallacies of Mr. Crosby’s post and comments are numerous and serious.

  3. KWombles June 22, 2010 at 20:20 #

    Yes, the fallacies are. Each further comment posted over there in support of what the AoA editors and Jake are attempting to do surely cements their status as extremists who have forfeited their rights to be taken as serious or legitimate spokespersons in in the autistic community (okay, I don’t think they really ever had that, but one can almost appreciate how far they are sinking, proving that they are an organization to be avoided at all costs if one would like to maintain any legitimacy).

  4. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. June 23, 2010 at 00:42 #

    Jake Crosby is – yes -naïve; the Age of Autism lot are using him on this account. But – for someone who is supposed to be reading for a degree (regardless of subject) – he’s always shown a very poor set of research skills. His ‘work’ in this ‘essay’ is down at his usual standard. He’s lucky I’m not his tutor… I’d have no hesitation in failing him. And he’s lucky that I’m not in the offing to be his thesis advisor, because … well, I don’t have the insurance for the injuries I would end up wanting to cause my office wall. Because it would be easier to have a reasoned and cogent argument between head and brick wall that between anyone in a teaching/supervising role and Jake Crosby.

    The ‘evidence’ that Jake Crosby uses to try and convince us that David Gorski is caught in a COI is pretty specious at best:

    ———————–
    1- “First, I would have to be receiving money from Sanofi-Aventis. I am not.”

    I never said he was, only that Sanofi-Aventis is in a partnership with his university, which in turn is sponsoring his clinical trial of Sanofi’s drug, Riluzole.

    This in itself is self-cancelled by Jake: if Dr. Gorski were in receipt of monies from the company directly, then that would be a conflict of interest. Since Dr. Gorski is not in receipt of such funds (and Crosby states that he has not said that Gorski is in receipt of them, there is no point to this first piece of shi- er … ‘evidence’. It is quite immaterial that the university in question is in this partnership since this partnership is (as far as I can tell) not something that Gorski has any control over. That is an administrative issue, not an academic one.

    ———————-
    2- “Second, I would have to have the reasonable expectation to receive money from Sanofi-Aventis. I do not.”

    Though he may not expect to receive money from Sanofi-Aventis directly, he can expect to receive money that Sanofi has paid to his employer, Wayne State.

    I can feel myself getting angry at Crosby’s stupidity here. The money paid by the pharmaceutical company to the university is not of concern when it comes to what money is paid to an employee of the university! It isn’t even in the control of an employee! What bit of this does Crosby not bloody get?

    *bites at the bit, and gets ready for more*
    ————————-
    3- “I’m not even angling for money from Sanofi-Aventis to run my lab.”

    He doesn’t have to; his university does the angling for him.

    No. It. Bleeding. Doesn’t!

    The university ‘angles’ for the money for its own reasons, which are to do with funding research. Again, this is an issue over which Dr. Gorski hos no control, and for which he has no responsibility!

    *wonders how the hell Crosby got into Brandeis of all places!*
    ——————————-
    4- “Third, I would have to know that Riluzole is being tested as a treatment for autistic children.”

    It does not matter if he did not know Riluzole was being studied to treat autism, he would still have a COI.

    This is just totally baseless. There’s nothing linking Dr. Gorski directly to the company funding the research. And the funding is not something that Dr. Gorski has any control over, or responsibility for. This crappy induction proof of Crosby’s is so bloody flimsy that I’m really surprised that Brandeis ever let him even visit the campus, let alone read for a degree there.
    ——————————–

    Now, as far as I can see, riluzole is not being tested as a treatment for autism in children, per se: I have found details of a study wishing to investigate the efficacy of this drug in cases of children who show signs (and experience symptoms) of obsessional-compulsive disorder – whether the children are autistic or not! Its efficacy is not being investigated with regard to autism itself.

    Riluzole is known to be effective as a treatment of anxiety and affective problems in adults: it acts as a blockade at glutamate receptors in the brain, and this partially disables glutamate-based neuro-transmission across synapses. Glutamate is a very abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, and – if one has a significant proportion more receptors for this neuro-transmitter, then issues such as anxiety-based disorders is likely. Many neuro-transmitters act ‘point-to-point’ (they attach momentarily to a receptor site, cause their immediate effect and then are removed and broken down by enzymes (such as mono-amine oxidase, MAO). In the case of riluzole, it binds to glutamate receptors where – were glutamate to bind instead – this would lead to a synaptic cross-talk problem (i. e., an phenomenon in which activity at one synapse potentiates activity at a neighbouring synapse… presumably leading to the hyper-arousal (from long-term potentiation) in the CNS that brings about states of anxiety. Since anxiety problems are quite prevalent in autistic people of all ages, this application of a medication already licensed for ALS may also be a boon in the first instance in cases of any sort of childhood anxiety problem that needs reduction before counselling/psychotherapy is likely to become effective. For this reason, the research is quite well justified.

    The thing that gets me here is Crosby’s assertion that this medication is being researched to treat autism. It is not, so why is Crosby saying that it is? Either because whatever’s been put on his site at AoA is prewritten by the so-called ‘editors’ of the site and placed there in his name (to deflect criticism or to just a naïve Asperger-autistic patsy as a shield against the crap that most definitely will come their way)… or it is in fact Crosby’s own ‘work'; if so, then it shows that his study skills are not of a sufficiently high standard to read for a degree.

    On that point alone – the ‘riluzole to treat autism’ thing – I would not be happy to pass his work at all, were i its marker.

    • Sullivan June 23, 2010 at 01:33 #

      David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.,

      I find this even somewhat interesting. It goes to show how little evidence and what weak links are sufficient to convince the bloggers and the readers at AoA.

      My guess is that this event is making life somewhat uncomfortable for Dr. Gorski. Not in terms of any COI. His administration is bright enough to see through that twisted logic. But, put yourself in the school’s position. They get a few emails from people, some angry, pointing to the Age of Autism blog as their source of information. The school administrators are going to say, “David…why are you exposing us to these people?”

      It is AoA’s very lack of credibility that is their weapon here. They just don’t know it.

  5. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. June 23, 2010 at 00:47 #

    Third attempt to post – html problems!

    Jake Crosby is – yes -naïve; the Age of Autism lot are using him on this account. But – for someone who is supposed to be reading for a degree (regardless of subject) – he’s always shown a very poor set of research skills. His ‘work’ in this ‘essay’ is down at his usual standard. He’s lucky I’m not his tutor… I’d have no hesitation in failing him. And he’s lucky that I’m not in the offing to be his thesis advisor, because … well, I don’t have the insurance for the injuries I would end up wanting to cause my office wall. Because it would be easier to have a reasoned and cogent argument between head and brick wall that between anyone in a teaching/supervising role and Jake Crosby.

    The ‘evidence’ that Jake Crosby uses to try and convince us that David Gorski is caught in a COI is pretty specious at best:

    ———————–
    1- “First, I would have to be receiving money from Sanofi-Aventis. I am not.”

    I never said he was, only that Sanofi-Aventis is in a partnership with his university, which in turn is sponsoring his clinical trial of Sanofi’s drug, Riluzole.

    This in itself is self-cancelled by Jake: if Dr. Gorski were in receipt of monies from the company directly, then that would be a conflict of interest. Since Dr. Gorski is not in receipt of such funds (and Crosby states that he has not said that Gorski is in receipt of them, there is no point to this first piece of shi- er … ‘evidence’. It is quite immaterial that the university in question is in this partnership since this partnership is (as far as I can tell) not something that Gorski has any control over. That is an administrative issue, not an academic one.

    ———————-
    2- “Second, I would have to have the reasonable expectation to receive money from Sanofi-Aventis. I do not.”

    Though he may not expect to receive money from Sanofi-Aventis directly, he can expect to receive money that Sanofi has paid to his employer, Wayne State.

    I can feel myself getting angry at Crosby’s stupidity here. The money paid by the pharmaceutical company to the university is not of concern when it comes to what money is paid to an employee of the university! It isn’t even in the control of an employee! What bit of this does Crosby not bloody get?

    *bites at the bit, and gets ready for more*
    ————————-
    3- “I’m not even angling for money from Sanofi-Aventis to run my lab.”

    He doesn’t have to; his university does the angling for him.

    No. It. Bleeding. Doesn’t!

    The university ‘angles’ for the money for its own reasons, which are to do with funding research. Again, this is an issue over which Dr. Gorski hos no control, and for which he has no responsibility!

    *wonders how the hell Crosby got into Brandeis of all places!*
    ——————————-
    4- “Third, I would have to know that Riluzole is being tested as a treatment for autistic children.”

    It does not matter if he did not know Riluzole was being studied to treat autism, he would still have a COI.

    This is just totally baseless. There’s nothing linking Dr. Gorski directly to the company funding the research. And the funding is not something that Dr. Gorski has any control over, or responsibility for. This crappy induction proof of Crosby’s is so bloody flimsy that I’m really surprised that Brandeis ever let him even visit the campus, let alone read for a degree there.
    ——————————–

    Now, as far as I can see, riluzole is not being tested as a treatment for autism in children, per se: I have found details of a study wishing to investigate the efficacy of this drug in cases of children who show signs (and experience symptoms) of obsessional-compulsive disorder – whether the children are autistic or not! Its efficacy is not being investigated with regard to autism itself.

    Riluzole is known to be effective as a treatment of anxiety and affective problems in adults: it acts as a blockade at glutamate receptors in the brain, and this partially disables glutamate-based neuro-transmission across synapses. Glutamate is a very abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, and – if one has a significant proportion more receptors for this neuro-transmitter, then issues such as anxiety-based disorders is likely. Many neuro-transmitters act ‘point-to-point’ (they attach momentarily to a receptor site, cause their immediate effect and then are removed and broken down by enzymes (such as mono-amine oxidase, MAO). In the case of riluzole, it binds to glutamate receptors where – were glutamate to bind instead – this would lead to a synaptic cross-talk problem (i. e., an phenomenon in which activity at one synapse potentiates activity at a neighbouring synapse… presumably leading to the hyper-arousal (from long-term potentiation) in the CNS that brings about states of anxiety. Since anxiety problems are quite prevalent in autistic people of all ages, this application of a medication already licensed for ALS may also be a boon in the first instance in cases of any sort of childhood anxiety problem that needs reduction before counselling/psychotherapy is likely to become effective. For this reason, the research is quite well justified.

    The thing that gets me here is Crosby’s assertion that this medication is being researched to treat autism. It is not, so why is Crosby saying that it is? Either because whatever’s been put on his site at AoA is prewritten by the so-called ‘editors’ of the site and placed there in his name (to deflect criticism or to just a naïve Asperger-autistic patsy as a shield against the crap that most definitely will come their way)… or it is in fact Crosby’s own ‘work'; if so, then it shows that his study skills are not of a sufficiently high standard to read for a degree.

    On that point alone – the ‘riluzole to treat autism’ thing – I would not be happy to pass his work at all, were i its marker.

  6. Joseph June 23, 2010 at 01:28 #

    By Jake’s logic, since Brandeis University has a Naturopathic Medicine program, Jake is hopelessly conflicted. He could never say anything against woo, and that obviously explains all of his views and activities. We could take it to absurd AoA-like extremes and say that Jake should be expelled from the University and so forth.

    (Funnily enough, they grant an ND degree.)

  7. David N. Brown June 23, 2010 at 06:28 #

    I understand that Gorski has dealt with being “outed” before, so I don’t see him being seriously threatened now. The post could do far more damage to AoA, as at least one “regular” commentor has protested the call for complaints to Wayne.

  8. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. June 23, 2010 at 07:17 #

    @Joseph:
    “By Jake’s logic, since Brandeis University has a Naturopathic Medicine program, Jake is hopelessly conflicted.”

    Ahaaa?

    “He could never say anything against woo, and that obviously explains all of his views and activities.”

    Ahhh, yes! of course!

    “We could take it to absurd AoA-like extremes and say that Jake should be expelled from the University and so forth.”

    We could, indeed. But – think about it – are we a bunch of pathetic saddoes like those, or are we made of better stuff then them?
    (Rhetorical… no need to answer … the latter, of course)

    “(Funnily enough, they grant an ND degree.)”

    LoL “Not a Doctor” …

    So yeh … Jake’s a naturopathy shill, and can’t say anything against woo because his university awards a DSW (Doctor of Shameful Woo) degree and all his lecturers and tutors and professors are paid from the same money that comes in from students paying to learn how to pittle up people’s backs and tell them it’s raining! But how does it affect Jake? Well… since his staff contacts at Brandeis are paid from woo-money, they have to let his assignments pass, or the Woo-Doc programme will close, and the woo shillings won’t come in anymore. Specious, true. But this is the ‘logic’ that Jake Crosby likes, so sod it! He’s not a good student but he’s being kept there because he favours woo.

    There. Said it. Do I mean it? I dunno… could be ripping the wazz out of him. Might not be. If Jake’s just joshing with Prof. Gorski, I’ll say I’m just joshing Jake.,. otherwise , well… whatever! I don’t care! By Jake’s ‘logic’ – it’s for him to justify anything, anyway!

    Kid’s a bloody idiot to let AoA treat him like that!

    @Súilleabhán:
    “It is AoA’s very lack of credibility that is their weapon here. They just don’t know it.”

    Ah, but they do now …

    Of course, they’re not clever enough to use that information. However, I remember how a Northern Irish parents’ group that supported Lovaas’ treatment for autistic children wrote to the university at which she was my professor (when I was a postgraduate psychology student) claiming that she should be sacked for having criticised ABA of the Lovaasian persuasion!

    She stayed on as professor of Autism Studies until she was able to retire. These stupid oiks don’t have much currency with university administration
    folks.

  9. Dawn June 23, 2010 at 15:23 #

    I sent a supportive email (thanks for the addresses, Kim) and got a very nice email back from someone at WSU.

  10. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. June 23, 2010 at 17:45 #

    DNB: “I understand that Gorski has dealt with being “outed” before, so I don’t see him being seriously threatened now.”

    DNA: That’s how it seemed with my professor at Birmingham… she was used to idiots doing this, and so – it seems – were those in the administration. Thankfully, along with the internet and the possible damage it could bring in this way comes a sort of immunity as it were.

    (Wouldn’t that just irritate the excrement out of AoA? Use of a vaccine metaphor to illustrate how university admins respond to them?! LoL)

    DNB: “The post could do far more damage to AoA, as at least one “regular” commentor has protested the call for complaints to Wayne.”

    Oh?! Interesting… at some point, that regular commenter may well decide to break from AoA, because that one’s already feeling embarrassed by the current behaviour!

  11. David N. Brown June 23, 2010 at 17:46 #

    “Either because whatever’s been put on his site at AoA is prewritten by the so-called ‘editors’ of the site and placed there in his name (to deflect criticism or to just a naïve Asperger-autistic patsy as a shield against the crap that most definitely will come their way)… or it is in fact Crosby’s own ‘work’…”

    I have seen Jake’s comments at other sites, and I don’t doubt that authorship is the same as the AoA material in his name. Also, it’s par for course for AoA representatives to garble facts. Crosby previously finished a post with an attempt at a cheap at my interest in folklore, but AoA’s content is nothing but folklore, down to telephone game-style “mutations”.

  12. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. June 24, 2010 at 15:10 #

    DNB: “I have seen Jake’s comments at other sites, and I don’t doubt that authorship is the same as the AoA material in his name. Also, it’s par for course for AoA representatives to garble facts.”

    In that case, then …. how the hell did he get into Brandeis? And why is he still there? Because his research skills are pretty poor, even for an undergraduate.

    (Not doubting you for a minute, I’d like to point out; just astounded that Crosby’s even still at Brandeis!)

  13. won4all June 30, 2011 at 20:46 #

    Here’s a recent quotation of Gorski’s: “I do love science, which is one reason why I get so agitated when I see it abused. Since I also love medicine, it agitates me even more to see both science and medicine abused”

    I respect this statement as science and medicine should be well-evidenced, and I applaud your efforts to critically look at those who deviate from scientific principles. Your sentiments are well-echoed by Michael Wilkes, a professor of medicine and vice dean of education at the University of California, Davis: “We don’t like to acknowledge the uncertainty of medicine, either to ourselves or to our patients…But patients deserve to know when their doctor’s recommendation is backed up with good evidence and when it isn’t.”

    I do, however, find it interesting that Dr. Gorski comes from the medical specialty where “NOWHERE IN MEDICINE IS THIS MORE OF A PROBLEM THAN IN SURGERY. Even essential surgery may pose risk of infection, medical error, or a bad reaction to anesthesia. But risks are compounded because many common surgical techniques are not as effective as physicians believe or are simply performed on the wrong patients, says Guy Clifton, a neurosurgeon at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and author at Flatlined: Resuscitating American Medicine.

    In 1989, as part of an effort to improve carotid surgery, vascular surgeons began employing a technique called stenting to prop open clogged carotid arteries with metal mesh tubes. Stenting is less invasive, but that does not necessarily mean it is safer. One study, conducted in France and published in 2006 in the New England Journal of Medicine, had to be stopped because stenting was killing patients. Another large study, out this year, found that 4.7 percent of endarterectomy patients had a stroke or died within four years after surgery, compared with 6.4 percent of those receiving stents. Rothwell is not optimistic that even this evidence will dampen surgeons’ enthusiasm for stents. “One issue is how these fashions arise in medicine—why do doctors accept a new technique and begin using it widely?” he says. “Innovation in medicine is not synonymous with progress.”

    YET NO COUNTRY HAS SET UP A SYSTEMATIC PROGRAM FOR EVALUATING NEW SURGERIES.

    So it’s odd that he critically attacks other modalities for a lack of supporting evidence while his own profession is equally guilty of the same inconsistencies. Where is his agitation for this grand abuse? Seems the pot is most certainly calling the kettle black.

    I look forward to your responses.

  14. sharon July 1, 2011 at 04:47 #

    Oh I was about to launch into a response to the post above but I see Dr Gorski has already responded. With thanks to Chris.

  15. won4all July 1, 2011 at 22:47 #

    Dr. Gorski,

    Thanks for your reply. ….

    • Sullivan July 1, 2011 at 22:56 #

      won4all is copying his discussion from another blog over here. As such I just edited his last comment. I don’t edit people’s comments as a rule, but in this case I deleted most of it. You can follow the discussion on the link Chris supplied above.

      won4all: Dr. Gorski isn’t participating in this discussion. You can tell that from the fact that the two comments above have “chris” and “sharon” as the names attached. You are threadjacking over there and totally off topic here.

  16. won4all July 1, 2011 at 23:57 #

    apologies for the threadjacking.

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