Mark Blaxill on the Geiers: they do sloppy work

13 Oct

Mark Geier and, more recently, his son David have been active promoting autism as vaccine injury for over 10 years (Mark Geier has been active as an expert in, and been criticized for his lack of quality work, the vaccine court on non-autism issues for about 20 years). They have written multiple papers, ranging from bad to worse, attempting to argue the case that vaccines (and especially thimerosal) are a primary cause of autism.

There are multiple discussions over the years of the Geiers here on Left Brain/Right Brain, Respectful Insolence as well as many other places. The best work was done by Kathleen Seidel at Neurodiversity.com, but due to a server crash much of that content is not readily available. (although it is worth searching for the cached versions or the versions on the Wayback Machine).

The work of the Geiers is so poor that it has always been a wonder to me that no criticism has come from anyone promoting the idea that vaccines caused an epidemic of autism. It isn’t that those promoting the vaccine-epidemic idea are not bright, leaving me wondering if they are too biased by their beliefs or just unwilling to speak publicly against an ally. But, recall, these are the same people who closed ranks around Andrew Wakefield in the face of clear and proved ethical violations.

If we are to believe Jake Crosby, former writer for the Age of Autism blog, it appears that the tacit approval of the Geiers has, at least in part, been a case of “circle the wagons”. I.e. people defending an ally over speak their opinions. Mr. Crosby has blaxillwilliams and quotes more emails where Mark Blaxill (former board member of SafeMinds and a long-time proponent of the idea that mercury in vaccines are a primary cause of autism) expresses his views about the Geiers to Mike Williams (attorney involved representing the families in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding).

In an email image on Mr. Crosby’s blog, Mr. Blaxill is reported to have stated:

In the interest of full disclosure. I thought you might like to see my critique of the Geiers’ latest work on VSD. I have not been a big fan of the Geiers. I worry they do not represent our side well. They do sloppy work.

In another email (quoted by Mr. Crosby, the link to the original is nonfunctioning) quotes Mr. Blaxill as stating:

“As to the Geiers, I may be a bit of a minority voice here, but I worry very much that they can do our cause more harm than good. They are not very good scientists, write bad papers (both writing badly and reporting in sloppy fashion) and attract too much attention to themselves as individuals. In this last regard, they don’t show nearly as well as Andy Wakefield but they’re trying to play the same role. Frankly, if I were on the other side and were asked to critique their work, I could rip it to shreds. I’m surprised they haven’t been hit harder. So I think you are wise to diversify.”

Mr. Crosby’s stance is that this constitutes “interference” in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding. I.e. Mr. Crosby seems to imply that the Geiers are not sloppy scientists whose work is poor, but that the Geiers should have been allowed a more active role in the Omnibus.

In this case I find myself agreeing, in part at least, with Mr. Blaxill. The work by the Geiers is poor. Where I don’t agree is Mr. Blaxill’s decision to hold back on making those statement public. Not just because it’s hard to take the stance that one is a only “…interested in the quest for the truth” when one holds back on key information like an entire critique of the Geiers’ VSD paper. No. It goes deeper than that. The Geiers’ junk science went beyond promotion of the idea that thimerosal is a primary cause of autism. The Geiers ran a clinic for many years. Mark Geier was a licensed physician, David Geier worked in the clinic (and has been accused of practicing medicine without a license). Through their papers and their talks at autism parent conventions like AutismOne, the Geiers became well known. One of the “brand name” autism clinics. They reached this level of respect within their community because no one within that community dared to speak out.

I’ve noted on Left Brain/Right Brain many times before that these parent conventions differ markedly from real science conferences in that no one ever seriously challenges the speakers. They can present almost any theory or idea, especially if they tie it to autism as vaccine injury, without anyone standing up and saying, “that makes zero sense”. These aren’t science presentations, they are advertisements. It would be interesting to see how many of these conventions Mr. Blaxill attended and yet remained silent on the “sloppy” work that could be “ripp[ed] to shreds” that the Geiers presented. Instead, parents were presented a view that the Geiers were good scientists who suffered unjust criticism for their “brave” stance on vaccines.

The Geiers were promoters of chelation as a treatment for autism. Not only does chelation have no scientific basis to be an autism treatment, a study just out this week using rodents states that chelation could be harmful if there is no real heavy metal toxicity:

Finally, we also found that succimer treatment produced lasting adverse neurobehavioral effects when administered to non-lead-exposed rodents, highlighting the potential risks of administering succimer or other metal-chelating agents to children who do not have elevated tissue lead levels. It is of significant concern that this type of therapy has been advocated for treating autism.

It is highly likely that Mr. Blaxill would disagree with the statement that chelation has no good scientific basis as a treatment for autism. He’d be wrong, but that’s been covered over and over before. The Geiers moved on from standard chelation to stranger, more dangerous therapies. As an aside, if chelation was a successful treatment one has to wonder why the Geiers were prompted to move on to using Lupron as an autism treatment. Lupron is very serious medicine and it shuts down sex hormone production in the body. Why Lupron, one might ask? The Geiers convinced themselves (or convinced themselves that they could pass off this explanation) that mercury bound itself to testosterone in the brain, making it hard to chelate. They cited a paper showing that if one heats testosterone and mercury salts in benzene, one could form these mercury/testosterone complexes. They actually claim (yes, they tried to patent this idea to make money off it) that this paper shows that “It is known in the art that mercuric chloride binds arid forms a complex with testosterone in subjects”. The “subjects” are beakers of benzene, not animals and not people. Add to that the lack of an explanation of how shutting down hormone production would break up these complexes. The Geier “science” supporting Lupron would be laughably bad if it wasn’t used to subject disabled children to Lupron injections.

Lupron clearly has no basis as an autism therapy. In fact, the “lupron protocol” played a major part in Mark Geier losing his medical licenses. One has to ask, how did the get such traction for such an obviously bad idea? For one thing, the Geiers were considered respected scientists in the vaccine injury/alternative medicine autism community due to their previous and ongoing work trying to link thimerosal and autism. Work which Mark Blaxill considered “sloppy” and worthy of being ripped to shreds. But instead of sharing his views on the Geier papers with the public, Mr. Blaxill shared them privately within his own circle.

It’s worth noting that the email quoted above was written before the “Lupron Protocol” was developed. We don’t know if Mr. Blaxill was alarmed by the emergence of the “Lupron Protocol”. I can’t find where he spoke out against it. We can see that his blog (under a different writer) promoted the idea as “MERCURY, TESTOSTERONE AND AUTISM – A REALLY BIG IDEA!“. Mr. Blaxill doesn’t seem to have commented there. For all the papers the Geiers have published, Mr. Blaxill only mentions them once in his book “Age of Autism. But as we’ve seen, tacit approval (silence) may not be the same thing as real approval.

Mr. Blaxill had the courage to testify before a congressional hearing last year. A hearing where the politicians had been lobbied in advance to be favorable to his cause. When it came to disagreeing with one of his allies, that courage was lacking. He allowed “sloppy” science from an ally to go unchallenged. An example of the fallout of such a decision, in my opinion had he stood up he could have slowed or even stopped the “Lupron Protocol”, a therapy which in my opinion amounts to the abusive treatment of disabled children in an uncontrolled and unapproved experiment.


By Matt Carey

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17 Responses to “Mark Blaxill on the Geiers: they do sloppy work”

  1. reissd October 14, 2013 at 00:38 #

    Promoting an ally, even at the expense of children. Sad.

  2. autismne October 14, 2013 at 01:27 #

    “i have not been a big fan of the Geiers. I worry they do not represent our side well. They do sloppy work.”

    Is Blaxill similarly “not a big fan” of others in the anti-vaccine movement who do sloppy work and embarrass his side? That would be a very long list.

    • brian October 14, 2013 at 02:06 #

      Blaxill noted that the Geiers “don’t show nearly as well as Andy Wakefield.”

      Although, in a tour de force of intellectual dishonesty, Blaxill chose not to “rip to shreds” the Geiers’ preposterous anti-vaccine efforts, he continuously and enthusiastically supported Wakefield’s similarly but even more obviously failed work. Perhaps to Blaxill the ability to ‘show well’ is even more important than, well, not lying.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 14, 2013 at 04:42 #

        Blaxill noted that the Geiers “don’t show nearly as well as Andy Wakefield.”

        A few points on this. Mr. Wakefield’s stance was in many ways orthogonal to that of Mr. Blaxill. How the MMR idea of Mr. Wakefield helps the mercury hypothesis is beyond me. But I guess their ‘side’ was about vaccines, not thimerosal, even then.

        A second point, the email above is from February 2004. The same month that Brian Deer broke the story about Mr. Wakefield, including the hidden relationship with the lawyer managing the MMR case, the amount Mr. Wakefield was paid for that work and more. A week or so later, much of Mr. Wakefield’s team issued their retraction of interpretation.

        And what does “show as well” mean? That reads to me that it’s theater, not science. More precisely, it’s PR, not science. Wakefield’s work was already countered my multiple other studies.

        If you recall, in the Omnibus the attorneys for the families made a big point of avoiding talking about Andrew Wakefield. An odd decision given that one of the angles they took was that the MMR caused autism and bowel disease. And then they ended their concluding statements with a defense of Mr. Wakefield.

        Back to Mr. Blaxill–if your choice is between Mark Geier and Andrew Wakefield, it should be telling you something about your cause.

  3. Lawrence October 14, 2013 at 14:06 #

    @Matt – I expected, some time ago actually, that if / when Jake’s relationship with AoA went South, that he would turn on them like a rabid dog. Sometimes I hate being right (because Jake has little or no concept of etiquette or proper journalism standards, due to his manipulation by his erstwhile “supporters”) – and given that Jake was part of the inner circle for so long, I can only imagine the kinds of materials he has access to….and what he will post next.

  4. Science Mom October 14, 2013 at 15:40 #

    And what does “show as well” mean? That reads to me that it’s theater, not science. More precisely, it’s PR, not science. Wakefield’s work was already countered my multiple other studies.

    It is definitely a show they are running over there. Wakefield is far better spoken and has a better carriage than the Geiers (frumpy, pushy and brusque). Who cares about the science, integrity or ethics; Blaxill has an agenda to peddle.

    • Anne October 15, 2013 at 03:10 #

      I believe Blaxill was telling Mike Williams what kind of showing the Geiers would make as expert witnesses in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding. Turns out he was right … the Geiers’ participation in the OAP turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. The Vaccine Court ended up finding the Geiers unqualified, and their work to be dishonest and of no value to the case. The Geiers ended up unsuccessfully suing Mike Williams and other OAP attorneys for the $600,000 in expert witness fees that they were denied in Vaccine Court. The federal judge’s order from earlier this year dismissing the Geiers’ shows what a poor showing they made; you can read it here: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=2972239874607710165

  5. Rene F. Najera, MPH (@EpiRen) October 14, 2013 at 15:50 #

    I wonder why Jake is taking such a piecemeal approach to revealing all these things? It leads me to believe that he doesn’t have all the goods, just some of the goods. The fact that he is linking to his actual gmail account links leads me to believe that someone within AoA, Canary Party or whatever is feeding him this info. They have more moles inside, and that will tear them apart, to the benefit of autistics everywhere, in my opinion.

    Along those lines, how many kids could have avoided the Geier’s “Lupron Protocol” had they been discouraged and not promoted like they were by AoA?

  6. Science Mom October 14, 2013 at 16:14 #

    Sullivan you make an excellent point about the lack of integrity that Blaxill et al. exhibit on a daily basis. If the Geiers are such poor scientists (and they are) and they produce such poor work (no argument there) then how can you stand back and say nothing, do nothing whilst rubbishing any legitimate study performed by real expert scientists?

    What kind of tortured and/or deluded minds do all of the vaccinesdidit parents have to be able to walk into the Autism One “conference”, listen to all of the “experts” conflicting causation hypotheses and the wildly conflicting “cures” ranging from bleach enemas to “healing the gut” to chemical castration and chelation to HBOT and not wonder a second how all of these “causes” and “cures” can be manifested from “vaccine damage”? WTF is wrong with these people.

  7. Sciencedad October 14, 2013 at 18:53 #

    Blaxill does not like sharing the stage Sully. This is why he hijacked Dr. Brian Hookers hearing with Daryl Issa and congress last November. Instead of Hooker discussing the eight years of CDC foot dragging concerning his open records request on fabricated studies vindicating mercury injections into children, we instead get this panel of six total losers. Yes indeed, the Geier’s were getting to much attention for him. Keeping Dr. Mark Geier from testifying in the thimerosal Omnibus trial was the stupidest thing the anti-mercury injection people could have done.

    • Science Mom October 14, 2013 at 20:03 #

      Sciencedad, real original psuedonym there and way to miss the point completely. Your silly pissing contests amongst your ignorati are entertainment, not substantial discussion. What the point is, is that Blaxill (a self-professed leader of the anti-vaxx/vaccines-cause-autism movement) routinely rubbishes legitimate studies that don’t agree with his delusions but wouldn’t say a word about the Geiers’ work which he clearly thought was garbage. Why is that? Why harbor those thoughts but not speak out against some ghouls perpetuating harms against special needs children?

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 15, 2013 at 02:16 #

        “Sciencedad, real original psuedonym there…”

        One of his previous pseudonyms is “gullivan”. See a trend?

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 15, 2013 at 02:15 #

      Sciencedad–long ago I believe I asked you to pick one pseudonym and stick with it. Please do.

      Mark Geier is one of the worse scientists I’ve ever run across. The Court has been pointing out his failures for two decades. Remember Hannah Bruesewitz? Mark Geier was an “expert” witness in that case. Here’s a quote from the decision in that case:

      “Petitioners filed Dr. Geier’s second affidavit, dated August 28, 2001. P. Ex. 22. In it, Dr. Geier confuses Hannah’s case with someone else’s because he refers to her death and subsequent autopsy. Hannah is still alive.”

      It isn’t Mr. Blaxills doing that led to all the members of the public panel in last years’ hearing. I’m sure he didn’t suggest to Mr. Issa that Ari Ne’eman and Michael John Carley be invited. There was a real grass roots effort there. And it cost a lot less than $40k.

      I’ve seen Mr. Hooker’s FOIA case docket. I think he should present at any future hearing. The lack of substance in his arguments should be hears outside of the FOIA court.

  8. Broken Link October 15, 2013 at 00:23 #

    Mark Blaxill is an intelligent guy. I cannot figure out why he found it so necessary to avoid speaking about the Geiers, when he knew that they were garbage scientists. If he truly believes in whatever version of the vaccines-cause-autism story is current at the moment, then he should be able to stand up for logic. For science. And against the harm that those losers caused.

    • Science Mom October 15, 2013 at 01:29 #

      I’m quite certain a social scientist can explain this much better Broken Link but I’d say that given they exist on the fringe, at some level they must know how tenuous their grasp on reality is. So, their sense of community and exhibiting a unified front is that much more important. As soon as someone from within their community even utters, “the emporer has no clothes”, they are vulnerable and confused. People like Blaxill won’t openly criticise others because he doesn’t want to risk being criticised. They just don’t operate the way we do in the scientific/medical community as much as they like to pretend they do.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 15, 2013 at 02:18 #

      When has anyone from the vaccine focused groups ever spoken against one of their own? You can get away with just about anything if you say it’s healing “vaccine injury”.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Geiers lose case against PSC | Left Brain Right Brain - October 20, 2013

    […] Thanks to Left Brain/Right Brain commenter Anne, we now know the Geiers lost this suit. […]

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