Kevin Barry and dumbing down science

20 Jan

Kevin Barry’s Ethics

Kevin Barry used to be deputy (or something) to Brad Handley’s Sherriff at Generation Rescue. He announced to the EoH Yahoo Group on 21st Nov 2006 that:

As of December 1st, I begin work as a consultant to Autism Speaks. In order to avoid any conflict of interest, I am resigning as President of Generation Rescue.

What a decent guy – wanting to avoid any conflict of interest.

End of story? Of course not. Never is with these goons.

Yesterday, it was noted that one Heidi Roger had made a post to the EoH group exhorting members to flood the Autism Speaks website who had asked for opinions on ‘Unstrange Minds‘ (which you may recall is skeptical regarding a vaccine initiated epidemic).

Except, Heidi had forgotten to strip out the message she had got from the person who had sent her this news. Good old conflict-of-interest avoider, Kevin Barry:

Hi Heidi, Confidential. I am not allowed to comment on the Boards. Would you post this to the EOH board as if you can upon it yourself? It is a page where people can comment on the epidemic “debate”. It would not hurt if Autism Speaks heard more feedback from EOH parents. Thanks, Kevin

Oops (screenshot attached).

So, here we have the moral and ethical finery of Generation Rescue and militia members on show. It seems that Barry is keen only not to get caught. I hope he gets fired. He should be.

Dumbing Down Science

Some fascinating legal developments in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP). Firstly a quick recap:

A bunch of people decided thiomersal caused their kids autism and decided to sue various people. By doing this, they stepped out of the opportunity to go down the Vaccine Program route which would allow them to contest their beliefs in a very much less stringent legal environment. However, the vaccine makers would suffer no liability and the plaintiffs would gain only a set amount (I think US$100,000) should they win their case.

They eschewed this process and decided they wanted to go down the full, legal shenanigans route. I’ve read invective from various blowhards who talk about taking the vaccine makers to account publicly and making sure that they are vindicated in a proper court of law (and of course the unspoken promise of megabucks).

OK, so fast forward a couple of years and we come to the RhoGAM/autism/thiomersal case in which the vaccine causation hypothesis was utterly demolished under the (totally appropriate) legal principle of Daubert. The take home quote from that case was:

This Court must find more than the “hypothesis and speculation,” engaged in [by Dr. Geier] in this instance….

The science was so bad, the case never even made it to trial. It was dismissed as a total waste of time.

Now you can bet the legal team for the OAP petitioners (numbering some 4,700 claims by now) were watching this closely and on Jan 9th this year, a new document was submitted which detailed how the Petitioners thought the trial should be conducted.

First of all, they want to use a ‘test case’ i.e. a handpicked petitioner from the 4,700 who would:

…serve as a representative case for a significant number of children who claim that a combination of thimerosal exposure and the MMR vaccine caused injury.

and then followed by cases solely addressing thiomersal and cases solely addressing MMR.

Okaaay. Also in this document was a reminder in this document that:

they needed ‘more time for the science to crystallize.’

Heh – you can say that again. Has the ‘crystallisation’ occurred? Maybe the overall intent of this document will tell us.

On page six of the document I have linked to above, the petitioners start to argue that the same legal rules that govern the Vaccine Program (described above) should be used to ‘judge’ the OAP proceedings. They repeat the arguments that led to the setting up of the Vaccine Program originally touching on how vaccines were a national health priority and that supply should not be endangered. The purpose of this legislation therefore was to try and limit the number of civil cases against vaccine manufacturers so that the health of the nations children was never compromised (see pages 6 – 7) .

In order to do this, it was accepted that the burden of proof would be substantially less. It was also noted that from time to time, people who’s kids weren’t actually damaged by vaccines would be awarded compensation. As the petitioners define the statute it reads:

As enacted the vaccinate act has a unique evidentiary standard, a unique standard, one that facilitates resolution of cases in the Vaccine Program and discourages the diversion of cases to the civil arena. It does not require a petitioner to prove his or her case with scientific certainty. It does not require ‘truth’. It does not require a petitioner to show ’cause in fact’

So why is all this lead up to the vaccine program necessary? Because the petitioners – who eschewed their option to go down the vaccine program option if you recall – now want their cases to be tried under these same ‘relaxed’ standards. They want their _civil legal cases_ to be tried under conditions that do not require the truth.

Wow. Just wow. The bare faced, cowardly effrontery of it defies belief.

Let us recall that at the start of these proceedings, plaintiffs stated they required time for their science to crystallize. Now they want to their omnibus case to be tried under a standard that doesn’t require scientific certainty or indeed, truth. That tells its own story about how good the state of the ‘science’ is underpinning the OAP case.

But what really galls me is that here are these people who had their opportunity to go down the route of the vaccine program and follow the same set of rules as described above and refused. They wanted to make a big song and dance about it and parade their science. Now that its apparent that their science is crap, they want their cases to be tried under the same legalities as the vaccine program cases are. Talk about wanting your cake and eating it.

If it was up to me, I’d tell them to go away and accept the consequences of their actions.

UPDATE: Please scroll down and read Anne’s comments on the _actual_ status of the OAP. It seems a whole lot of people who are part of the Omnibus are badly mistaken as to the nature of it and I’ve duplicated their misunderstanding.

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35 Responses to “Kevin Barry and dumbing down science”

  1. David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction) January 20, 2007 at 00:55 #

    Heidi Roger, Brain of America!

    Not.

  2. Kev January 20, 2007 at 00:59 #

    She works for SafeMinds David – what did you expect? ;o)

  3. Ms. Clark January 20, 2007 at 01:48 #

    These are the people who scream bloody murder about conflict of interest and are quick to air other people’s dirty-laundry, or even make other people’s clean laundry just look dirty, see: NAA attacking Paul Shattuck for his taking money from “Merck.”

    Look how compliant Lenny Schafer was with cleaning up the mess that Heidi had made. Amazing stuff. It’s not the first time Lenny has deleted an oooops, post for one of his friends. Bob Krakow accidently sent a cranky/embarassing email to the list, and that one got deleted, too.

    Who’s engaging in coverups? I wouldn’t be surprised if the Omnibus case gets dumped. Already it has dragged on much further than any case of its sort is supposed to. The petitioners keep asking for stays or do they call them delays?

    They are citing garbage science like the Holmes baby hair study that shows nothing unusual about autistic kids and their baby hair as their evidence. They don’t stand a chance.

    Are they using Lisa Sykes’ kid as the test case? Isn’t he cured by now? He’s been on Lupron for a long time hasn’t he? I couldn’t tell from the documents. Is Wakefield still an expert witness for them? If so, why?

  4. Bartholomew Cubbins January 20, 2007 at 02:42 #

    Maybe the crystallization of the science is mercury mediated and forms magical sheets that help sequester testosterone.

  5. Anne January 20, 2007 at 02:55 #

    Kev, the OAP *is* a proceeding in the Vaccine Program. But I think the Petitioners’ Steering Committee is exaggerating, to be polite about it, the law on proving causation of a “non-Table” injury in vaccine court. The claimant does have to prove “causation in fact.”

    You might be interested in reading Pafford, one of the cases the PSC cites in the document you linked to. It contains a cameo appearance by one Dr. Geier, playing an expert witness with questionable qualifications.

  6. mcewen January 20, 2007 at 03:09 #

    I think it’s important to distinguish the ‘petitioners as a group’ from the individuals petitioners involved – by that I mean, that if I’d signed my name to one of those petitions [the class action literature forms a % of our daily mail/recycling] and if I was the parent of an autistic child, I don’t know if I’d have time or interest to follow the subsequent proceedings, you’re just too busy with daily functioning – you’d just wait to be informed one way or another.
    It’s the steering group [ring leaders!] who need your watchful eye.
    Cheers

  7. also not an expert in January 20, 2007 at 04:01 #

    From “Pafford”- “The Special Master also questioned Dr. Geier’s qualifications because he is not certified in the areas of rheumatology, pathology, or immunology.”

    No kidding. It’s almost like, if a lawyer wants to make sure that his client’s case will be thrown out of court, he, the lawyer, can always call on Geier.

  8. Kev January 20, 2007 at 04:42 #

    _”the OAP is a proceeding in the Vaccine Program. But I think the Petitioners’ Steering Committee is exaggerating, to be polite about it, the law on proving causation of a “non-Table” injury in vaccine court. The claimant does have to prove “causation in fact.”

    Now I’m confused. I’ve read numerous accounts from people who’ve said that the OAP will be reimbursing them millions of dollars and described their joint case as a civil action. That’s quite worrying to hear it described as under the Vaccine Program. Not that I’m doubting you Anne, but either they’re wrong or I misunderstand how they can be right.

  9. Anne January 20, 2007 at 06:08 #

    Kev, those people are wrong. The OAP is a bunch of separate claims under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that have been related under one Special Master. You can see this in the first order in the proceeding filed on July 3, 2002.

    On page 2 of that first order you can see a discussion of the requirement for claimants to participate in the OAP (the Vaccine Program proceeding) before they can prosecute their civil actions.

    Because the Court of Federal Claims did not make a determination of these claims within the time set forth in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Act, these claimants are now free to leave the OAP and go forward with their civil actions. Maybe some of them have done that, but most of them seem to have opted to stay in the Vaccine Program.

    In this first order, the Special Master said:

    “Autism cases are not new to the court; a number have been pending for several years. However,
    in those pending cases, petitioners’ counsel continue to request more time for the science to crystalize, to
    obtain experts, and in general to prepare their proof concerning the difficult medical and legal causation
    issues. Similarly, in the advisory committee discussions described above, petitioners’ representatives have
    stated that they are not prepared to present their causation case at this time.”

    That was four and a half years ago.

    This is a lawyers’ relief act if there ever was one.

  10. Anne January 20, 2007 at 06:12 #

    p.s., Kevin, technically, a vaccine court claim is a civil action.

  11. Anne January 20, 2007 at 06:28 #

    Now here’s the confusing thing — the test case of autism allegedly caused by a combination of thimerosal exposure and the MMR vaccination.

    As the PSC correctly points out, the test case claimant is required to prove that this combination was both a substantial factor and a necessary factor (the “but for” test) in causing the injury. That means that they must prove that neither thimerosal exposure alone, nor the MMR vaccine alone, could have caused it.

    How in the world are they going to prove that, for some claimants, a combination of the two was necessary, while in others, one would suffice?

  12. Ms Clark January 20, 2007 at 06:40 #

    I think it’s that if they have unreliable lab tests (ala Wakers) that their kid has measles in his or her intestines, then it was measles that caused the autism,… if they have unreliable lab tests showing high levels of mercury (some long time after the vaccine was given) then it was the mercury… if they have a combination of the two kinds of unreliable lab tests, then it was the both together… or something. I wonder if those kids’ parents are hoping for a double payment?

  13. David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction) January 20, 2007 at 14:48 #

    Kev; “She works for SafeMinds David – what did you expect? ;o)”

    Siis niinku, Duh! 😀

    Safe Minds, my arse… if her mind’s anything to go by 😛

  14. 666sigma January 20, 2007 at 15:55 #

    Grinker, while I’m sure most of what he says is true, offers up no proof whatsoever that the rate of autism has not increased.

    Lots of anecdotal data – kind of reminds me of Kirby. Anything to make a buck.

    Personally, I like the Silicon Valley theory where geeks are marrying geeks so their offspring is far more likely to get a bad combination of geek genes.

    Face it. It was not that long ago that women did not work. The qualities sought in a traditional wife were far different from what a man seeks today. Today, people meet their spouses in college or at work. They are more likely to marry someone who “thinks” like themselves. We now have couples where both parents have Aspie traits and they are given rise to children with more fully developed autistic traits.

    Nice theory. Better than most of the others. At least, it is interesting.

  15. Kev January 20, 2007 at 17:14 #

    _”Grinker, while I’m sure most of what he says is true, offers up no proof whatsoever that the rate of autism has not increased.”_

    Have you read his book or read his cited sources?

    Of course he offers up no ‘proof’. How can you prove a negative? The onus of proof falls on those making the outlandish claim. What evidence is there that there _has_ been an epidemic?

  16. Another Voice January 20, 2007 at 22:07 #

    The last part of this post can’t be referring to what Kirby calls the “trial of the century”; the plaintiffs have all of the evidence they need. They can call on Dr. David Ayoub. He has told the world he has the evidence, in fact it is “abundant”. There is no need to wait for the science to crystallize.

    I have copied a portion of Dr. Ayoub’s letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune which was published there on July 9, 2006. He had been quoted in a June 25, 2006 article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

    “I am glad you have decided to take on this controversial topic, but I want to clarify some of the comments the reporter made, particularly about my own involvement, which I think are misleading, particularly regarding my own work.”

    “First, I am no longer “trying to dig up evidence to prove” vaccines cause autism.
    There is already abundant evidence, the same conclusion made by a 2003 U.S. Congressional Committee.”

    He closes with the following inspirational quote.

    “This is not a wishful-thinking statement coming from a parent but from a physician who has witnessed this happening firsthand.”

    There you have it. How much more evidence could a court possibly need. The Medical Director at FAIR has the evidence. Get in there Dr. Ayoub; the home team needs you. They are floundering; waiting for science to crystallize. Please don’t let everyone down, you are a physician with first hand knowledge. It is time to put up or shut up.

  17. David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction) January 20, 2007 at 23:23 #

    Kev: “What evidence is there that there has been an epidemic?”

    Exactly. The onus is on those claiming that there is an epidemic to prove the epidemic… and that they have failed to do.

  18. 666sigma January 21, 2007 at 12:14 #

    “How can you prove a negative?”

    Aaah, the proverbial cop out reply. He wrote a book claiming there is no epidemic. He offers no proof, only anecdotal information. I happen to think he is basically right.

    It’s also nice to see that you realize that this book offers no hard evidence that there isn’t an epidemic or even that the rates of autism have remained stable. However, I’m willing to bet the Neurodiversity Crowd will be rallying around this book with the same fervor as the Mercury Moms did around Kirby’s EoH.

    There’s nothing like tapping into a ready-made market.

  19. Kev January 21, 2007 at 12:32 #

    _”Aaah, the proverbial cop out reply.”_

    ??

    Here’s a simple question: have you read the book or failing that, any of the cites he makes during the book?

    Mr/Ms Sigma – proof is an absolute. No one will be able to prove anything in this debate until we recognise _this_ as the starting point.

    In the absence of proof, we must use the weight of available evidence. Grinker provides plenty of that. Kirby does not. Grinker is an expert in his field and conducts primary research into his books subject matter. Kirby does not.

    No one is claiming Grinkers book is the last word on the reality of an epidemic. However, its certainly much more thoroughly researched than EoH. I really do strongly suggest you read it, or failing that, its cites and primary research.

  20. David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction) January 21, 2007 at 17:10 #

    An academically inept person said: “Aaah, the proverbial cop out reply.”

    *That* was the *actual* cop-out reply.

  21. Ms. Clark January 22, 2007 at 03:51 #

    What is with Mr. Sigma’s rejection of Dr. Grinker’s book. He doesn’t refer to any part of the book and seems not to have read it. I have read both Kirby’s book and Grinker’s Kirby’s is a piece of garbage with “facts” like Asperger’s syndrome is what they used to call “idiot savantism.” Kirby has some kind of personal agenda he’s not letting on to. It’s all over that book. It’s full of deliberately spun half truths. Like for some reason Lyn Redwood’s son is both “autistic” and PDD,nos, he’s got high levels of mercury in his baby hair (from cheesy mail order lab results), and later it turns out the big thing about autistic kids’ hair is that it sooooo loooow in mercury, so they forget Lyn’s results… but then Kirby doesn’t explain that autistic kids are neither high nor low in mercury, they have the same amounts of mercury in their hair that other kids have, so much for the “effluxor” disorder. He said in the debate that autistic kids have no glutathione. That’s a lie. They’d be dead if they had such low levels of glutathione, and we don’t know why they might have more oxidative stress, or for a fact if they DO have more oxidative stress. He throws out these myths as facts in his debate, and gets rave reviews from his adoring fan base.

    Kirby looks like a con-man on his debate video. He’s fast talking, misrepresenting and spinning the whole time.

    Grinker builds a case for how the autism epidemic came to be believed in, and how we can see that there never was an epidemic. He has lots of citations you can check and you can pull about his reasoning, once you read his book. Your knee jerk anti-Grinker reaction, 666Sigma, is really quite bizarre and seems to be more like trolling than anything, to me. Your reasoning is tissue thin and emotion based.

  22. Mercury Dad January 22, 2007 at 05:48 #

    Man, that Kevin Barry. Unbelievable!

    Even worse, I heard he was farting while sending that email!! Can you believe it?

    You guys will try to make news of the most unbelievably trivial shit!

    You all deserve each other, please keep up your truly useless work.

    MercuryDad

  23. anonimouse January 22, 2007 at 06:25 #

    I have no earthly idea why parents would want to adjudicate their autism cases under the rules of the Vaccine Court. They have at least a fighting chance of convincing a gullible jury that their quack theories hold up. They have almost no chance of convincing anyone with a modicum of scientific knowledge.

  24. Sophist January 22, 2007 at 08:24 #

    A quick question if somebody has the answer to this.

    I was told (can’t remember by whom now) that in the Patriot Act, pharmaceutical companies were essentially absolved from any problems arising from vaccinations, past, present, and future.

    I’m just wondering, what with all the lovely stuff crammed into the Patriot Act, if this is really true??

  25. Sophist January 22, 2007 at 08:26 #

    To MercuryDad, a simple reply:

    This is the internet. People discuss what they like.

  26. Another Voice January 22, 2007 at 12:54 #

    To MercuryDad,

    A person’s word should not be looked upon as “unbelievably trivial”. I don’t know this man but he had, by his own admission, agreed with his employer to refrain from posting. Turning to someone else to post it for you violates that promise. A person agrees and then finds a way around that agreement. I think his employer would expect more than that.

  27. anonimouse January 22, 2007 at 15:34 #

    Sophist,

    That is not true. Not because I’ve done a detailed reading of the Patriot Act, but because if it was true every anti-vaccine/mercury-autism group would be screaming about it at the top of their lungs to anyone who would listen.

  28. Joseph January 22, 2007 at 21:34 #

    Yes, Brad only shows up when he sees something that rattles him.

    I doubt the Autism Speaks leadership is happy about KB doing exactly what he was told not to do. Right now they must be wondering if firing KB would just make things worse.

  29. xenu rexue January 23, 2007 at 00:11 #

    I think Bradford better add a phrase to his vocabulary, like this one- *laughing stock*. Here I’ll use it in a sentence: David Kirby as well as believers in and promulgators of his *Evidence of Harm* side-show came to be treated as laughing stocks by the general public.

  30. Sophist January 23, 2007 at 19:08 #

    anonimouse, actually I just decided to do some online research (yes, I admit, too lazy before now) and I found out it’s true and that some in the autism community are yelling about it, just apparently not very loudly.

    Here’s an article about it from the National Autism Association:

    http://www.nationalautismassociation.org/press122605.php

  31. anonimouse January 23, 2007 at 23:42 #

    The provision was designed to protect drug companies who are asked to produce mass quantities of vaccines for pandemics or epidemics. In other words, if the government asks them to make 300 million doses of bird flu vaccine, the drug companies don’t want to turn around and get sued because of it. The wording in the law is very specific to certain emergency situation – it is not blanket immunity as implied by the NAA, NVIC, et al.

  32. Sophist January 24, 2007 at 03:19 #

    I thought you said you hadn’t read it, anonimouse?

    Being the ever-skeptic, where does it say it can’t be used as a blanket immunity?

    Or are you quoting from somewhere else?

    Don’t get me wrong, but if that’s so, we’re having the battle of the quotes with no real expertise behind it, other than unverifiable information from authority figures.

    SO, I ask the question again: Does the Patriot Act provide for a blanket immunity to pharmaceutical companies for any ill effects of their medications and/or vaccines past, present, and future?

  33. Sophist January 24, 2007 at 03:24 #

    And btw, for me this question isn’t about autism. It’s about a larger issue which includes ALL United States citizens.

  34. Bartholomew Cubbins January 24, 2007 at 04:50 #

    I read a version of the rider that was floating around the email lists not long after it came out. If what I read was accurate then indeed there appeared to be a broad immunity granted to vaccine producers.

    Does it seem outrageous? Yes, it does to me. Can I explain it? No. I’m not even going to try. There is very little about american politics that makes sense to me. I’ll leave that to the historians and political scientists.

    But what does bother me is that this rider is being used as “proof” of a massive governmental conspiracy against its people. This conspiracy, if we’re talking the rise in thimerosal exposure, would encompass the administrations of Bush I and Clinton. Son of Bush I is involved only with regard to the rider. So I fail to see how two different Republican administrations and one Democrat administration could get their game together on anything, let alone something that could be used by the other political party to decimate its opponent.

    The scale of this conspiracy would have to be tremendous. Not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands of people would have to be “in the know”. The fact that there are whistle blowers in government should ease our worries and provide some confidence that the system, on the macroscopic scale, works as advertised.

  35. Sophist January 24, 2007 at 06:27 #

    I’d imagine it’s more about money (what big business and politics always seems to be about). Even though lawsuit or not, any proof of a dangeorus vaccine would likely cause panic in the population and the companies, for money’s sake, would be forced to try something else if they could manage it, to keep the cash flow flowing their way.

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