Omnibus Autism Proceeding: More of the closing statement by Mr. Matanoski

5 Aug

What follows is my transcribing of the last few minutes of Mr. Matanoski’s closing statement from the end of the Dwyer case. Speaking to Special Master Vowell Mr. Matanoski gave the government’s closing remarks on the thimerosal-only portion of the onmibus hearings along with the closing remarks on the Dwyer case.

To hopefully wrap up here, again the government’s case is essentially saying that the petitioners have no good scientific evidence. Good scientific evidence isn’t a hypothesis generated by a phone call from petitioners’ counsel to an expert who has appeared before the court in vaccine cases well over a hundred times on myriad issues.

That’s not good science. An expert, a witness who will come before you just a couple of weeks before trial, ginning up, essentially, a hypothesis strung together by little pieces of information: a study of adult monkeys from years ago, a study of infant monkeys more recently, a study of autistic patients a couple of years ago. That’s not how good science is done, it’s not courtroom driven science, it’s done by researchers the types of witnesses the gov’t presented. The ones who are researching in the field of autism who are making their their profession their lives about researching autism.

Daubert makes clear that the courtroom isn’t the place for speculation and spurious reasoning passed off as science simply because the witness who appears before you has a PhD or an MD after his or her name. It’s about the scientific method and the scientific process. After 6 years and countless opportunities the PSC has failed to offer any such evidence.

Instead it’s offering essentially the same thing you’ve seen in far to many vaccine cases, which is the same experts who seem to think that science in the courtroom is different that science that is practiced by the researchers outside. And ironically, and I’m sure this was not lost of the court, the proponent of the hypothesis that’s driving this litigation right now–the proponent of that hypothesis–appeared before you Special Master only several months before he came up with that hypothesis telling you that he could not conclude based on the evidence, that thimerosal caused autism and yet after a phone call from the PSC he did come up with that hypothesis just a couple of months later.

And the irony I’m sure is not lost on the court either, that this witness who came up with this hypothesis of how vaccines are causing autism, does not treat children with autism, and in fact does not treat children for any neurologic conditions at this point.

The petitioners have failed to meet their burden. They have no scientific evidence, period.
Without scientific evidence they can’t meet their burden under Grant and Althen. They can’t prove general causation and obviously if they cannot prove general causation they can not prove specific causation.

Thank you, your honor.

4 Responses to “Omnibus Autism Proceeding: More of the closing statement by Mr. Matanoski”

  1. isles August 5, 2008 at 21:41 #

    “passed off as science simply because the witness who appears before you has a PhD or an MD after his or her name”

    Awesome. Needs to be said more often.

    I hope the Special Masters appreciate the gulf between the scientific evidence presented by Mr. Matanoski’s team and the…umm, not-science that came from the PSC.

  2. RAJ August 6, 2008 at 20:27 #

    Doesn’t Bennnet Leventhal, a witness for the government have an MD after his name. Wasn’t he the expert witness who when asked about Rubella autism or thalidomide embryopathy causing autism invoked the old bromide of correlation does not equate to causation.

    Here is an expert witness who deosn’t even accept the fact that prenatal exposure to the rubella virus or thalidomide can contribute to autism despite the entire autism research community (save the true believers in behavioral genetics like Leventhal) having accepted the evidence.

  3. alyric August 6, 2008 at 23:06 #

    Leventhal is part of the majority who do not support the association between autism and suspected correlates such as rubella and thalidomide. He said and quite clearly too that those links were not demonstrated. Not that you need to worry too much. You just stick to your brand of ‘Jenny’ awareness.

  4. transcriber August 7, 2008 at 02:32 #

    Dr. Leventhal was saying that he wouldn’t testify that rubella or thalidomide are known causes autism because to his knowledge it hasn’t been show how rubella or thalidomide could cause autism. He was being extremely precise and reporting what he personally knew. It is possible that rubella does cause autism, it’s also possible that there is something that usually happens at the same time as a rubella infection that actually causes the autism. This is the cautious way that scientists usually speak.

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