Jon Poling – no such thing as bad publicity

4 Oct

As broken by Kathleen and discussed further by Kristina, the Poling saga has taken another nasty twist and reveals the ‘respected’ Jon Poling as a scientist lacking even the most basic of scientific scruples.

In a series of three letters from Jon Poling, his co-authors Frye, Zimmerman and Shoffner and lastly Roger Brumback, the editor of the Journal that published their case study of Hannah Poling, Jon Poling is revealed as a man perfectly prepared to game the system.

In his letter, editor Roger Brumback says (he calls his letter ‘the Appalling Poling Saga’) he says:

In the United States Federal Register of May 21, 2003 (volume 68, number 98), on page 27829, there is an entry (“145. Terry and Jon Poling on behalf of Hannah Poling, Vienna, Virginia, Court of Federal Claims Number 02-1466V”) mentioning a filing under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program listing of petitions received. This occurred before the manuscript was submitted for consideration by JCN and clearly represents a conflict of interest. Yet the authors made a definitive statement to the Editor-in-Chief and to potential peer reviewers that there was no conflict of interest (Figure 1).

Let no one tell you any different. Jon Poling did not ‘forget’ to tell the publishing journal about the fact his daughter was part of the Autism Omnibus, he purposefully misled the Editor-in-Chief by stating conclusively there was no conflict of interest. Being a gentleman, Brumback avoids calling Poling an out-and-out liar. Brumback goes on to say:

Although, according to the leaked testimony (available to be viewed on numerous websites) [Brumback is referring to the testimony leaked to David Kirby – KL], it does not appear that the JCN article was used in the legal proceedings, media linkage of the published article to the legal outcome implies scientific support from JCN for this legal opinion. Of course it is possible to view this media exposure along the lines of the quip: “There is no such thing as bad publicity—just publicity”.


Two things stand out for me – aside from this pathetic litany of dishonesty of course.

Firstly, Jon Poling is his letter says:

A third party subsequently leaked, without our knowledge or permission, my daughter’s
identity and the government’s concession report to the media.

Now lets have a look at this timeline. ‘The media’ Poling is referring to above is David Kirby who posted the details to the HuffPo on Feb 26.

Starting a bare 9 days later, the Polings are holding a press conference, being interviewed on Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Cable News Network, USA Today and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Wow. I guess Brumback is right – there is no such thing as bad publicity because in little over a week, the totally non-media savvy Poling’s had managed to get themselves interviews on the leading media outlets in the USA. And they expect us to believe they did it ‘without our knowledge’ of the documents being leaked to quote Poling.

Something else really stands out from Poling’s letter. Its this:

2001. Because our daughter has diagnoses of autism, regressive encephalopathy, and mitochondrial dysfunction, her case was placed in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings.

Before HHS government physicians conceded that Hannah’s July 2000 vaccinations triggered her encephalopathy…..

Woah there…..what? Triggered her _what_ ? Encephalopathy? Thats funny because David Kirby and the anti-vaccine world has been swearing up and down the HHS conceded her vaccinations triggered her _autism_ .

This is a true bombshell. Jon Poling, Hannah’s father has just stated that HHS conceded vaccinations caused her encephalopathy as oppose to her autism. He’s quite clear and specific. In the first paragraph I quote he lists three separate things:

….autism, regressive encephalopathy, and mitochondrial dysfunction…

and in the second, he states which of these three HHS conceded was triggered by vaccinations. Encephalopathy. Not autism.

Next time anyone tells you HHS conceded Hannah Poling’s autism was caused by vaccines, point them here where they can read the words of her father.

13 Responses to “Jon Poling – no such thing as bad publicity”

  1. Joseph October 4, 2008 at 22:08 #

    This hiding of conflicts of interest has been established as an MO of anti-vax researchers. Wakefield did it. Hewitson did it. The Geiers do it all the time. And now Jon Poling.

    And before someone says “but what about the conflicts of interest from the other side?”, the issue is not that conflicts of interest exist. The issue is that they’ve hidden them, intentionally. It’s as if they know they are doing something naughty; like they don’t want to be caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

  2. Ms. Clark October 4, 2008 at 22:14 #

    Well, maybe Dr. Poling was trying to save his reputation at that point by using honesty instead of media spin.

    Because our daughter has diagnoses of autism, regressive encephalopathy, and mitochondrial dysfunction, her case was placed in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings. Before HHS government physicians conceded that Hannah’s July 2000 vaccinations triggered her encephalopathy…..

    And we are still waiting for the Polings to scold David Kirby for taking their daughter’s name and the details of her disability and making it all public and stuff.

    They didn’t scold him. They probably handed him the documents themselves, and if they didn’t then it would seem likely that their lawyer did with their permission. They didn’t scold Cliffy, either, they didn’t scold anyone, but acted like Kirby had done them a favor when they (with Hannah in tow) showed up for the camera crew.

  3. isles October 5, 2008 at 04:51 #

    Disingenuity, thy name is Poling.

  4. Ringside Seat October 5, 2008 at 10:20 #

    One thing that will surely follow from the discovery of this Wakefield/Geier-style scam by Polling is that the campaign will be stepped up to abuse Dr Offit, the CDC etc.

    Although no concealments have ever been demonstrated against them – and despite whistleblower statutes, nobody has ever come forward with any evidence they have done anything wrong, or concealed any data – it’s vital to the Wakefield/Geier campaign to spread their poison. Only that way does the crookery behind the anti-vaccine campaign become bearable to its perpetrators.

    Here’s another example of what’s going on in the UK:

  5. MJ October 5, 2008 at 14:53 #

    This is absurd. In what way specifically does him failing to disclose that he is the father of the subject invalidate the results of the study? This is character assassination, pure and simple.

    Lets not forget that your favorite spokesperson Dr Offit regularly forgets to disclose that he has/had a massive financial conflict of interest.

    So lets see, profiting from a billion dollar vaccine or being the father of a study subject – which do you honestly think is going to be more of a conflict of interest?

    And as for Dr Poling “admitting” anything I really suggest you look up the meaning of the word “encephalopathy” and what it implies. In this context it implies that her brain was damaged by some external problem WHICH THEN LEAD TO AUTISM. If A causes B and B causes C then A caused C.

    At least in this one cause vaccines led to autism. Deal with it and move on – stop attacking the family to make yourself feel better.

  6. alyric October 5, 2008 at 16:15 #


    The only absurdity is yourself and your string of nonsensical statements. Why do you think the editor of JNC wrote the article he did? Was it because he recognised even if you don’t that Poling’s lack of disclosure is a serious omission and likely to damage his journal? Along with absurdity there is also your fabrication about Dr Offit’s conflicts of interest, none of which exist today and all of which were very properly disclosed by Dr Offit in the past, unlike Poling, Pa or Ma.

    As for your ramblings about encephalopathy, I think you’d better calm down a bit. According to you, ignorant though you are, every encephalopathy is equivalent to autism, which rather begs the question why all kids with a mitochondrial disorder leading to encephalopaqthy has not been labelled autistic and they have not. Thre’s a difference and it is at least good that Poling had to admit such, though I suspect even he realised that his credibility would be sunk if he didn’t. All very well to hold press conferences and attempt to bamboozle the public but he had to be a bit more honest with his scientific peers. Now that gives me some confidence in that scientific process call peer review. Every now and then it seems to work. Ain’t science grand?

  7. Tsu Dho Nimh October 5, 2008 at 17:22 #

    MJ …

    Poling was publishing material that could affect the outcome of a lawsuit when he was a party to that lawsuit. He hid that relationship from the journal that the material was submitted to.

    Offit, on the other hand, doesn’t hide his affiliations when he publishes.

  8. Dedj October 5, 2008 at 17:37 #

    Well MJ, if you can’t even get the conflicts of interest correct then there’s really no need to take your arguement seriously.

    Poling could have benefitted from improved interventions or increased services and understanding as a result of his paper – this would not have been a major concern as parents are often the discoverers of new interventions or the catalyst for new services. The fact that parents are sometimes also practitioners is to be expected, although this point flies over the head of the likes of Jenny Mc et al, who seem to assume anyone who disagrees with them must not, cannot, be a autism parent.

    Tsu Dho Nimh nails the issue spot on. You would do well to read what he says and think about it properly.

  9. D. C. Sessions October 5, 2008 at 17:55 #

    Tsu Dho Nimh nails the issue spot on. You would do well to read what he says and think about it properly.


  10. Kev October 5, 2008 at 19:24 #

    Further to the points made above MJ, I want to pick you up on your strawman: I didn’t claim the paper was invalidated. In fact, I would rather it wasn’t as it shows quite clearly that there aren’t enough symptoms described as being caused by vaccines to meet a diagnosis of autism.

    I’m puzzled by your definition of ‘encephalopathy’ because nowhere I can find does it state that encephalopathy always and inevitably leads to autism. Read what Jon Poling wrote in this letter. He clearly differentiates between encephalopathy, autism and mitochondrial dysfunction. And _then_ states HHS conceded vaccines triggered Hannah Poling’s encephalopathy. Its a bizarre statement to make if he thinks HHS conceded vaccines caused her autism. And in fact, nowhere does it state in any HHS document I’ve read that they concede vaccines _did_ trigger her autism.

    Sorry MJ, the game’s up for Jon Poling. He can stand alongside Andrew Wakefield as someone who has lost the plot and can’t keep his own story straight.


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