A clarification

7 Apr

The following post was written by a group of LBRB authors

LBRB is produced by team of writers who do not always agree on everything. But we each expect the others to ensure that statements of fact can be corroborated. Mostly this works. But once in while these expectations are not met and one of us is so certain of their opinion that it is presented as fact. This happened recently with a story about Danish scientist Poul Thorsen, who is at the centre of investigations into the disappearance of $2 million in research grants. Because he was one of the authors on two studies that showed no evidence of a vaccine autism link anti-vaccine campaigners at The Age of Autism blog seized on this story as soon as it emerged and argued that Thorsen’s alleged dishonesty regarding the missing funds meant that these studies were tainted.

At the time, coming soon after Wakefield’s disgrace at the GMC and the withdrawal of his now discredited Lancet paper, this seemed a little too convenient. Was the story a fabrication? Were Age of Autism the willing victims of an elaborate hoax? One of our authors thought so and wrote a post which proved to his satisfaction that it was so. A second post by him compounded the error. Both posts were removed (as they were incorrect) and this one https://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2010/03/autism-study-doctor-facing-grant-probe/ stands in their place.

Age of Autism is now trying to use this to attack LBRB founder Kev Leitch, saying he is to blame for allowing the now withdrawn posts to appear in the first place. And the rest of us are guilty by association. We are in good company.

Age of Autism regularly lies about those it sees as opponents. It famously exaggerated Paul Offit’s earnings from the vaccine, Rotateq, stated that he voted for its inclusion in the vaccine schedule and was reprimanded by a congressional committee. All false. None withdrawn.

Another bete noir for AoA is Richard Roy Grinker, whom they regard as an “epidemic denialist.” GRINKER’S STINKER: HIS WIFE RUNS THE IACC was their response to the news that Joyce Chung was the new executive secretary of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. Apparently being married to someone AoA disagrees with makes you open to corruption.

They accused Simon Baron-Cohen of lacking humanity because he wrote about the positive aspects of autism. Eric Fombonne, Catherine Lord and Bennet Leventhal were called parasites because they gave evidence against the vaccine autism connection. They have campaigned against Julie Geberding when she was director of the CDC because, like Simon Baron-Cohen she “lacked humanity” for failing to agree that there was a vaccine induced autism epidemic.

None of these posts have been taken down. No corrections have been published. No apologies have been made. LBRB will continue to make mistakes and when they are pointed out we will correct them. We will continue to allow open debate in the comments to our posts. But we will not be lectured by the anti-vaccine fanatics and autism haters that infest The Age of Autism.

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8 Responses to “A clarification”

  1. Joseph April 7, 2010 at 14:27 #

    Thanks for posting this correction, Kev. It was the right thing to do. I would’ve liked to see David admit his error, though.

    BTW, Jake is a master of projection, isn’t he?

  2. KWombles April 7, 2010 at 15:47 #

    A willingness to admit errors takes a certain level of humility; admitting we are human and error prone works very well to keep us from getting puffed-up egos, and when we take responsibility for those errors, we are freed to look for the right answers. Thank you for this post. It’s one of the ways the science and evidence-based blogs will maintain our differences from the the rhetoric-filled screeds.

  3. Sullivan April 7, 2010 at 18:09 #

    I would add that my own ineffective actions further compounded the problem.

    Age of Autism is now trying to use this to attack LBRB founder Kev Leitch, saying he is to blame for allowing the now withdrawn posts to appear in the first place. And the rest of us are guilty by association. We are in good company.

    When it comes to blogging along side Kev and the rest of the LBRB team, I’d say I’m in excellent company.

    Further, I would add that the critical comments by the LBRB readers show a willingness to apply that same critical thinking towards the posts here.

  4. Robert Estrada April 7, 2010 at 18:41 #

    To err is human. To realize it and self correct is adult/mature/rational.
    Thank you for distinguishing yourselves form the delusional.
    ata boy Kev et al.
    Robert

  5. Dedj April 7, 2010 at 23:50 #

    “Further, I would add that the critical comments by the LBRB readers show a willingness to apply that same critical thinking towards the posts here.”

    Indeed, from what I can remember, some of the biggest criticisms came from LB/RB regulars, which puts the comments of some of Jake’s supporters at direct conflict with actual events.

  6. David N. Brown April 8, 2010 at 09:30 #

    “the disappearance of $2 million in research grants”
    This is an aspect of the story which easily gets blown well beyond what can be substantiated by evidence at hand. I see two questions unresolved: First, Aarhus doesn’t seem to be saying how much they actually paid out of the 11M kroner specified in the grants later concluded to be forged. Second, to my knowledge Aarhus isn’t saying whether the money they paid was spent on the research for which it was (mis)appropriated. I think the most likely scenario is that Aarhus only paid some of the money before the grants were disputed, and that most or all of the money was spent on the project. The latter premise goes along with my long-held opinion that scientists who DO commit fraud typically have motives more complex than personal profit.

  7. Arthur Golden April 9, 2010 at 12:04 #

    I “like” this blog entry and clicked that I do. Ending the blog entry with “the anti-vaccine fanatics and autism haters that infest The Age of Autism” is a strong but reasonable statement. However, when I disclose a position that “science and evidence-based” bloggers strongly disagree with, I believe it is not reasonable to state in so many words that I am the same as “the anti-vaccine fanatics and autism haters that infest The Age of Autism.” As a member of the Chareidi (ultraorthodox Jewish) Community, I fully respect science as a useful tool in making human decisions but I do not consider Science to be the sole basis of all human decisions.

    Although I had a language delay as a young child and received pull-out special education services from ages 6 to 10 (1952-56), on a timely basis I earned two university degrees while my 38 year-old Ben was officially diagnosed with autism as a young child in the 1970s, meeting the narrow criteria of DSM-3 of 1980, and never even earned a high school diploma. This month I publicly stated that when I gained access to the internet in 1997, I soon realized I met the criteria for being autistic under the broader criteria of DSM-4 of 1994. My point is that in making life decisions for my son, I discussed with him being “science and evidence-based” but he makes his own decisions and then my wife and I provide him positive support even though his own decisions are not based solely on Science.

    So, please stop any rhetoric putting me in the same boat as “the anti-vaccine fanatics and autism haters that infest The Age of Autism.” I believe that both my son Ben and I have contributions we can make to the autism community and look forward to having the opportunity to do so.

  8. Jennifer April 10, 2010 at 13:43 #

    On a publicly viewable list, Michelle Dawson discusses you statement (above) “We will continue to allow open debate in the comments to our posts”. Michelle Dawson says: “This is from LBRB, the flagship “neurodiversity movement” (or something) blog, where I was banned for politely objecting to being grossly misrepresented as a researcher. And where any mention of me was banned.”

    Well, I’m an experimentalist, and so I’m going to test out Michelle’s statement, by clearly mentioning Michelle in this comment. I hope this comment is not too off-topic, since it does concern censorship, or the perception there-of. I’d encourage Michelle to also engage in a little experimental work, and try posting here herself.

    I’m going to post a copy of this comment onto the quicktopic board as soon as it appears here.

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