Sunday, August 29, 2021
Friday, August 27, 2021
The next day the reporter's headline reads, "Customer Dies on Mall Stairs."
The same reporter repeats the assassination ritual a few more times and shares the story of a negligent staircase widely on social media. he also cites his own article from the previous week, giving the impression of an epidemic of dangerous stairs. From there it spreads among local mall patrons.
The next week the reporter's headline reads, "Customers Concerned about Staircase Safety at Mall."
A visible trend is emerging in crank journalism and slimy activism-- reporting on the significance of a problem that they themselves created.
For unethical "journalists" it is a way to create "evidence" that their errant or malicious position actually has support. First they produce media or messaging that makes a bogus claim. Next, they cite their own media source to create the perception that their bad claim has wide support. In other words, they strategically place the banana peel and shockingly report when someone slips on it.
I call this cyclical sensationalism. It is a case where maliciously motivated can create faux news to fool the reader into believing a false claim is legitimate. This tactic is used for several reasons:
1. To harm the credibility and trust in legitimate scientists.
One especially egregious violator of ethical standards uses cyclical sensationalism as a mainstay. Paul Thacker foists the patina of a legitimate journalist, but in my estimate he's a stooge working for the anti-GMO, anti-5G, anti-scientist interests like US-RTK.
He started writing fallacious stories about me in 2014, and trolls my social media accounts with regularity. Some of his work has been retracted by ethical journals. Other stories he has written appear in Grist and The Progressive, and all target me unfairly and inaccurately. Both Grist and The Progressive failed to take action when I notified them.
The Progressive did offer me a 250 word rebuttal to the 10,000 word hit piece. I declined.
The point is, he is one of very few writers that seem to scam publication outlets into publishing his filth. So he writes new hate pieces and then links to his own old work citing the name of the source (e.g. The Progressive) rather than the author (him). The goal is to trick the reader into believing that there are independent, legitimate voices that agree with his claims, and that he's not a lone goof libeling scientists.
I complained to Grist about the piece they hosted. In the article Thacker states without question that my research can't be trusted because it is compromised by corporate influence, which is absolutely not true. As I stated in my letter:
"... he (Thacker) does the execution, leaves the shotgun in your closet, and then uses social media to say, “Hey, look who Grist just killed.”
I'm not the only one. He's done this to other scientists like Dr. David Gorski, and good journalists like Keith Kloor and Tamar Haspel. The list is reasonably long, but he has a special eerie tumescence for me.
2. Amplification with cyclical self-sharing.
Retweets and shares come from linked accounts held by the same person, or within a tight network of cronies, provides a false sense of legitimacy or consensus to poor scientific ideas.
A really good example is US-RTK, the science hate group that seeks to harm reputations of scientists on behalf of the industries that pay their bills. Gary Ruskin and Carrie Gillam retweet Stacy Malkin's posts (both US-RTK employees), then US-RTK retweets their retweets. Usually it does not go much farther than that.
3. To give the perception of mass interest in a non-problem that they describe as a risk.
A recent tweet by the Non-GMO Report claims that 49% of US adults... you can read it!
Of course, Twitter sets them straight:
These are just three ways that self-citation and near-network amplification spreads misinformation. It is cyclical sensationalism, and is becoming more common as crank claims and pseudoscience become more prominent through the limited filters of social media.
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
One video I was sent by FOUR separate people is at the Mt. Vernon, Indiana school board meeting. A guy dressed like John Boy Walton introduces himself as Dr. Dan Stock, expert in "functional medicine".
Fact- viral particles are highest in the fine particles that come from deep in the lungs. They are smaller than 5 um and most projected from taking, singing, yelling (Coleman et al., 2021). These are significantly attenuated by an N95 mask and even a basic surgical facial covering (Leung et al., 2020).
Fact- Flu and SARS-CoV2 are very different viruses. Influenza viruses undergo genomic shuffling to vary their genetics and presentation to the immune system. While SARS-CoV2 variants exist, they are slow to emerge and evade vaccines, which work quite well and were very effective against the original variants. He talks about respiratory scintitial virus (RSV) as being zoonotic, when there is no evidence for that.
There is also ZERO evidence of antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) with respect to SARS-CoV2, the phenomenon where vaccination leads to worse symptoms upon actual infection. It is a real problem with some vaccinations, like the early versions of Respiratory Scintitial Virus (RSV) vaccine. It has never been an issue with others, like measles. Clearly the least vaccinated counties have the highest incidence of symptoms/disease, the exact opposite of if there was ADE.
Claim 6 - "No vaccine prevents you from getting infection"
Fact- the CDC has looked at this (Cavanaugh et al, 2021) and there is significant reductions in reinfection after vaccination following natural infection.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Critics of SARS-CoV2 research decry the use of the gain-of-function experiments used to study viruses. Such experiments are designed to test how changes in DNA sequence relate to enhanced activity of a gene product on biology, or in this case, the function of a virus. Mutation of viral DNA may lead to enhanced transmissibility, infectivity, pathogenesis, or lethality, among other effects.
That is exactly why researchers perform gain-of-function experiments in the safety of a laboratory setting. By understanding the biology in controlled circumstances scientists can better prepare to address the virus if it naturally becomes problematic in a population.
Yet critics of gain-of-function research say it is dangerous and unnecessary.
And the same critics are also the least likely to be vaccinated.
The unvaccinated say they don’t want to be part of an experiment.
By failing to be vaccinated, they have become an experiment.
This is the profound irony. Those that refuse vaccination are the most likely to sequester in small towns, churches and political rallies. They participate in work and social functions as though the virus is not a threat. Few masks, little distance, limited isolation, life as usual. They are a gain-of- function experiment, a spawning ground to test effects of new mutations.
In the lab, prescribed changes may be made in DNA precisely, and the effects can be followed in laboratory animals.
Outside the lab, the virus replicates furiously in the body. The body produces hundreds of billions of viral particles. Each round of replication is slightly imprecise, potentially introducing random errors into the newly-produced virus. Most mutations have no effect. Others negatively affect the virus, its transmissibility, infectivity, or pathogenesis. We don't ever see these viruses in populations because they are a biological dead end.
But occasionally a mutation arises that bestows gain-of-function. When that newly-enabled virus escapes containment in that first breath, it may gain a foothold in a population, and become a new "variant of concern".
We are learning about enhanced viral function by studying the new variants now circulating in populations.
There is no question that vaccine denial follows political and regional trends. These areas are the breeding grounds for new variants. It is the most extensive viral gain-of-function experiment ever performed.
And remarkably people are willing to participate.
Please get vaccinated.
Sunday, July 11, 2021
Dr. Stephanie Seneff has polluted the scientific conversation about the health effects of the herbicide glyphosate for over a decade. This latest volley is the waving tip of a white flag, as time is not supporting her alarmist claims.
She does not run a research program on glyphosate or its effects on humans. What she does do is use the title of "Senior Research Scientist at MIT" as cred to be able to push underpowered hypotheses that are framed as legitimate empirical research.
The outcome is a slate of less-than-scholarly review articles, almost invariably in low-impact journals, that decry the dangers of herbicides and vaccines. They are give some credibility because of her title, and at least one journal has published a warning label that the work is suspect.
How are the papers constructed? In short, they are sculpted narratives of cherry picked data and pushing correlations as causation. These are crafted into what are best hypotheses not supported by the preponderance of he evidence.
Like this one in the journal Entropy. The unknowing actually think it is scholarly research. The journal even notes the authors' bias in not presenting the breadth of the research (a.k.a. 'Cherry Picking').
One famous one was the claim that due to glyphosate use, half of all children would be autistic by 2025. This is conclusion is an extrapolation of trends of glyphosate use and autism prevalence, as she described in this logical-fallacy strewn wreck of a paper.
Apparently now that landmark 50% rate appears to have shifted, apparently to 2032. We're not using less glyphosate, so I wonder why autism rates now won't hit half of kids until seven years later?
The real reason the claim was pushed back was much more practical. 2025 is the year after the year after the year after next year. If you're going to revise your bogus claim you have to do it early.
Friday, June 11, 2021
Today on twitter I kept seeing the same message coming up, over and over again. What the heck is going on?
The link goes to the Center for Food Safety, an organization that really isn't that is much more of an anti-technology club than a food safety concern. They speak out against any application of biotechnology, such as the release of the disease-suppressing GE mosquitoes in the Florida Keys.
Somehow when CFS launches a twitter campaign they plaster the Tweet Stream with the exact same message over and over again. My feeling is that they do this to create the impression of a mass consensus, a movement to essentially bully retailers and restaurants.
In this case it is the AquaAdvantage Salmon, a fish grown in inland tanks in Indiana. First invented in 1989, the salmon has had a rocky road to market, despite the magic of growing to market size in half the time and on a fraction of the food and other resources.
It has been shown to be equivalent to regular salmon and safe as can be. It is not a threat to natural populations because the fish are genetically sterile and a long flop to any place where they could cause ecological problems.
While technophiles argue that this innovation takes pressure off of natural populations and can provide fresh fish at a better price point, those opposed to biotechnology in any form push back.
The Tweet above is just one of hundreds. Literally, hundreds. All exactly the same, cookie-cutter tweets. The information is false, as they imply risk to public health, oceans, and wild salmon populations. It is total disinformation.
They spam popular restaurant chains and hotels, folding them in to tweet after tweet. What gives?
I've heard of tweet-storms before, campaigns to start hashtags trending around a given topic. When spawned organically this is probably a good way to get an issue noticed.
But the identical nature of these tweets is highly suspect. They are not retweets, they appear to be original work of real people. But are they?
I thought they were bots, and remain to be convinced otherwise. Are there services out there that create hundreds of bogus accounts that appear real, simply for these applications?
I reached out to some of the tweeters, asking if there is a message they received or some script they copied. I received one reply that said, "Go to the (CFS) website".
I went to the website and there was simply a petition to sign. No twitter script.
Meanwhile they accumulate by the hundreds.
(To be continued)
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Be careful when you take action to eliminate an informed voice from a conversation. In the days of the internet such cancellation can be permanent, and if you remove someone that has a clue, it might just come back to work against your best interests later on.
Throughout the 2000's and most of all in 2015 and to this day, there have been activist groups and unhinged individuals that wanted me silent. Whether it is weird professional jealousy, the fact that I run a highly-rated biotech podcast, or the fact that I am a trusted source of scientific information, I attract vicious critics.
But I'm consistent about two things:
1. Speaking from the evidence and the data.
2. Admitting when I'm incorrect and adjusting.
When critics use sharp and defamatory means to destroy trust and remove their target from a scientific conversation, they run the risk of removing them from all scientific conversations.
In 2015 I was targeted by USRTK, Paul Thacker, Charles Seife, Organic Consumers Association and dozens of other anti-biotech activists. Food Babe Vani Hari joined in. Journalists like Eric Lipton at the New York Times and freelance writer Brooke Borel took hard and visible shots that today clearly stand as well-orchestrated hit pieces.
The defamation for teaching science remains permanent on the internet to this day.
Why does it matter?
Because it forever serves as a touchstone for those that reject the science I teach, it is a get-out-of-science-jail-free card to those that want to debate climate change, vaccination, genetic engineering or evolution, but rely on bad evidence and conspiracy to fortify their bankrupt positions.
Case in point. Last night I had a pleasant conversation on Twitter with someone (now going by "Fauci is Mengele" that was certain he was correct. He was not. He drew a chorus of supporters that chimed in about the COVID19 vaccine that was untested, experimental, dangerous, and blah, blah, blah.
Painted into a corner with evidence to counter his anti-vax claims, he "did research" on me and posted this:
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