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“Science”Blogs: Seed Media’s Aggressive Weed

Kudzu-car[1]

Part I: Fertilizer From Pharma 


By Jake Crosby
 
It is self-styled as the largest conversation about science on the web. Boasting 69 blogs, along with 114,506 posts and 1,742,506 comments that are ever increasing, there is no question “Science”Blogs are highly trafficked and frequently updated. Their slogan brags, “Where the world discusses science,” and crowed a record of 2.2 million unique visitors in the month of May alone. There is now a German “Science”Blogs as well as a “Science”Blogs Brazil written in Portuguese. Their owner, Seed Media Group, likens itself to Rolling Stone during the magazine’s “early years” which according to Seed was “when music was less a subject than a lens for viewing culture.”

To Seed Media Group, “science” is its gimmick, defined by corporate sponsors. This has led to the vitriol emanating from “Science”Blogs, so much so that it has directly prompted multiple responses from Age of Autism, mostly to a “Science”Blogger using a fake name, hardly ethical journalistically. While the media’s job is to report the news, not make it, that principle has not merely been ignored, but butchered by Seed Media Group, that presents itself as an unbiased, scientific source. Instead, it doesn’t just report on science, it attempts to define “science” as the pharmaceutical industry sees fit.
 
Distorters Who Pretend to be Reporters
 
SMG pretends to be a media outlet that reports science-related topics as pop culture, seeking to reach a wider, trendier audience. On its website, pretentiously obvious promotional statements are made, such as “Science affects every single person on the planet.” And “The pursuit and impact of science is borderless.” Used-car commercials have higher advertising standards. Perhaps the worst of the slogans is displayed right on the homepage of the website: “Science is culture.” Apparently, to Adam Bly, culture is business, especially since the views expressed by the 69 bloggers who post on SMG’s

“Science”Blogs are in the best interest of sponsors.

Seed Media Group, established in 2005, was born out of SEED Magazine, founded in 2001 by Adam Bly, young Canadian entrepreneur and self-proclaimed prodigy. Bly wants the world to know he served at the age of sixteen as the youngest guest researcher at the National Research Council- a Canadian government body that overseas scientific progress, studying “cell adhesion and cancer.” That, apparently, was his springboard to success. It is unclear if Bly was actually doing real research, or just the equivalent to entering a high school science fair. The significance of this is not obvious from the website, and I can’t imagine what gets taught by 10th grade in Canada that merits cancer research. He does not mention any previous accomplishments that qualified him for such a position. Nor does he mention who invited him to be a guest researcher. Nonetheless, this, Bly claims, was what inspired him, not to become a scientist, but to become a businessman who runs a media company that writes/blogs about scientists, which is exactly what he did. This was when SEED was conceived, though it would be a couple more years before it would start to sprout weeds.

SEED Magazine before Seed Media Group did not have such a slant. In May 2004, for example, a contributor launched an impressive, critical investigation into the controversy surrounding mercury in vaccines. The article was a thoughtful piece of investigative journalism in which public health officials declined to comment while outside researchers willingly participated. That, however, was five years ago.

Nothing published before 2005 is traceable on the magazine website, and the article can only be located from alternative sources. SEED magazine would never take such a contribution now, especially since the most popular “Science”Blogger, P.Z. Myers, writes a column for the bimonthly magazine. Myers’s “Science”Blogging about the subject of autism and vaccines is not very in-depth, but he still calls proponents of the theory that vaccines cause autism “anti-vaxers.” I wonder if he thinks the late W.D. Hamilton, arguably the greatest evolutionary biologist since Charles Darwin, was an “anti-vaxer,” for saying he was 95% certain the polio vaccine in Africa caused AIDS. Myers isn’t the only one at SEED who has steadfastly refused to acknowledge a vaccine-autism link. “Autism’s False Prophets”, written by vaccine millionaire Paul Offit, was at the top of SEED’s list of “THE YEAR’S OUTSTANDING BOOK RELEASES” for 2008, which provides a “Buy” link to the book’s profile on Amazon. On SEED’s list, a short review of Offit’s book stated that it is "More than a book about a disease, it is an ode to uncorrupted science and a cautionary tale that data alone is never enough."

An “ode to uncorrupted science?” Paul Offit wrote in a paper that a child should be able to handle 10,000 vaccines at once, and called it a “conservative estimate.” He later said to CBS reporter Sharyl Attkinson that the number is probably closer to 100,000. He’s also the media’s main secondary source for all the industry-forged “science.” Of course, as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said, the drug-industry-sponsored studies do not even take a scientist to deconstruct. Fudging data after thimerosal removal (Danish study), misrepresenting thimerosal removal (California study), comparing MMR immunization rates of one city to autism rates of another (Quebec study), and irrelevantly looking for an increase in children being rushed to the hospital for developing autism after MMR introduction (Finnish study), to name a few, Statens Serum Institut, the biggest vaccine maker in Denmark, conducted one study. Another was by the head of immunization in California, another by Eric Fombonne who received consulting fees from vaccine makers, and another by a researcher who received grant support from Merck, the company that invented the MMR and puts thimerosal in some of its vaccines. These studies are far from uncorrupted, and that “uncorrupted science” quote alone would be enough to sum up the position of SEED Magazine in this controversy. Something, somewhere along the way, changed drastically causing SEED to go from at least attempting to interview all sides, to interviewing one side of the story while resorting to smear attacks on the other. At this point, the overall tone of “Science”Blogs has not only lost any sense of scientific dignity, it has turned downright nasty. It is a place where, as one “Science”Blogger bragged, “You can cuss me out, call me an idiot, whatever.” I’m sure Adam Bly must be very proud of himself for opening up such “scientific” dialogue. 
 
Pre-programmed Conclusions

 
Today, SMG is divided into two categories: SEED Magazine and “Science”Blogs, formed in 2006. The latter is an invitation-only blog of around 69 paid “Science”Bloggers, and every blogger’s view relating to the controversy over autism and its relation to vaccines is entirely predetermined and seemingly the same, whether it’s thimerosal, or the MMR: They do not cause autism, and anyone who thinks otherwise is an “anti-vaccinationist.”

I was no exception to the rule, gaining a bit of “Science”Blogs infamy myself: “The mindset of an Anti-Vaccinationist revealed:” one “Science” Blogger’s thread-title screamed, “courtesy of Jake Crosby of the Age of Autism Blog.” This was in response to my alleging a conspiracy “theory” and stating those “14” or so “studies” were no more scientifically sound than claims that the earth was flat. Ironically, the “Science”Blogger then asserted I was part of a “cult,” and also said, “David Kirby…is every bit as much a member of the cult as Jake.” I found it puzzling that this typical “Science”Blogger accused me of conspiracy theorizing, while concocting a conspiracy theory himself.

Similar views are universally expressed about Gardasil, the HPV vaccine linked to dozens of deaths and thousands of serious adverse events so far and which does not even adequately protect against cervical cancer. Another typical “Science”Blogger, in response to concerns over Gardasil’s safety, copied and pasted FAQs from the CDC website. All I could think to myself at the time was what was the point of that? Does he really believe people are more likely to see those on his own blog, rather than on the CDC website first, as I had? The FAQs were posted in response to concerns raised by someone who happened to be hosting a local TV show in the Boston area. Apparently, the “Science”Blogger’s own voice of “reason” was not enough, since his criticisms were reduced to mocking the person’s Bostonian accent. Perhaps what stood out the most was when the “Science”Blogger called him an “asshole.” Apparently, this is what Adam Bly considers a “conversation about science.” 
 
Pharma Sponsorship: Influencing “Science”Blogs?
 
Curious about Seed Media Group’s funding sources, I did a search for them with everyone’s favorite pharmaceutical company, Merck, and I got a result on SMG’s media center from a number of months ago. It read, “11.10, Adam Bly, CEO of Seed Media Group, will speak at the Council on Competitiveness in Washington, DC next week…DuPont CEO Chad Holliday, chairman of the Council on Competitiveness, will lead the day-long Innovation Symposium. Other members of the Council on Competitiveness who will participate in the dialogue include Richard Clark, CEO of Merck & Co.” So, Adam Bly, CEO of SMG, the company that owns “Science”Blogs and SEED Magazine, spoke at the Council on Competitiveness (CoC), with the Merck CEO being the executive committee member of the CoC who attended Bly’s speech. But that’s not all.

Earlier this year, a friend handed me the Business Section of The New York Times. The featured story was of a merger currently taking place between Merck and a smaller pharmaceutical corporation, Schering-Plough,  which Merck will buy for over $40 billion, becoming the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world. Interestingly, the following month I began to notice a frequently recurring ad at the top of “Science”Blogs web pages, that read, “Schering Plough – A relentless commitment to Life.”

I had never seen that ad before. “Science”Blogs, the site full of bloggers who relentlessly defend mercury in vaccines and the MMR - even if it means defending sham studies, defending the CDC when it broke the law at Simpsonwood, destroyed data, lied, and did not disclose conflicts of interest - just started advertising for a company being bought by Merck. And the ad ran shortly after the announcement was made about the merger. Not only was it an ad for “Schering-Plough,” but a link to the company website, where another link to “www.anewmerck.com” was displayed, co-created by Merck and Schering-Plough to briefly discuss the terms surrounding the buy-out.
Despite the incredible timing of the ad with the announcement of the merger, the Schering-Plough ad even without the buy-out still constitutes a conflict of interest regarding issues of vaccine safety. Although the pharmaceutical company primarily specializes in vaccines for animals, owning the largest animal vaccine production facility in the world in New Zealand, it also owns a subsidiary called Nobilon that specializes in human vaccines. These include shots for traveler’s diarrhea, STDs, and respiratory illnesses. Nobilon’s specialty is the development of flu shots, both human and avian. The conflicts, however, do not end there. 
 
More Pharma Sponsorship
 
When I noticed the recurring ads for Schering-Plough on “Science”Blogs in close temporal association with the announcement of the merger between Merck and Schering-Plough, I truly thought I had hit the peak of the conflicted advertising on “Science”Blogs, but I was wrong. The next ad I found seemed to directly connect back to the first mention I found about Merck on Seed Media’s website through Adam Bly’s speech to the Council on Competitiveness.

Although I have not seen ads for Schering-Plough since I pointed them out on “Science”Blogs, they were followed by ads for the website, www.americanchemistry.com. This is the official website of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the trade organization of the American chemical industry, a lobby group. A number of prominent companies are members, such as DuPont, the largest chemical company in the US whose CEO is chairman of the Council on Competitiveness (CoC), the one Seed’s CEO Adam Bly spoke for. Only one pharmaceutical company is involved – Merck. (HERE) Why would Merck be a member of the chemical lobby?

I came across an explanation in my investigations: the “DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company.” This was a joint venture between DuPont and Merck, where the two companies teamed up to make pharmaceutical products from 1991 until 1998, when full ownership was taken over by DuPont and the venture became the chemical giant’s pharmaceutical division. Although this venture was terminated over a decade ago, DuPont lists this as a pivotal moment in the company’s history on the heritage category of its website and still holds Merck in high esteem, saying, “The 1991 formation of the DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company, a joint venture with prescription drug giant Merck and Company, made DuPont a competitive force in the field of life sciences.” (HERE) 

DuPont credits its continued success in pharmaceutical manufacturing to Merck. That best explains why the Merck CEO, who attended Bly’s Speech in November, sits on the executive committee of the CoC below the DuPont CEO, the CoC chair. This is would also explain why Merck is a member of the American Chemistry Council, which was heavily advertised on “Science”Blogs. 
 
Ads for Schering-Plough and partner company PerkinElmer (the ads for PerkinElmer still run on “Science”Blogs), along with the ad for the ACC, and Bly’s own speech to the CoC hosted by the council chair and CEO of DuPont all connect to Merck. Yet another ad on “Science”Blogs I took note of was for the Cambridge Science Festival. Both Merck and Schering-Plough sponsored the event, which brings the number of detectable connections between Adam Bly/“Science”Blogs and Merck to six.

There are ties to other major drug companies, too. Several drug ads have been found on “Science”Blogs. One of them was for Lunesta, a sleeping pill made by the company Sepracor, which signed a deal allowing GlaxoSmithKline to sell the drug in Europe. Other ads include those for drugs made by AstraZeneca, makers of the flu shot: “FluMist,” and an ad for Valtrex, which is made by GlaxoSmithKline, makers of MMR and vaccines that have contained mercury preservative thimerosal. There is another ad for the psychotropic drug Concerta for treating ADHD and is made by Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson which also made the RhoGam immunoglobulin that contained the thimerosal preservative.

Earlier this year, the subsidiary’s mental health division, Janssen, has been the target of litigation due to the adverse side effects from another drug of theirs called Risperdal, FDA-approved to treat autism, and used off-label for ADHD. The drug has been found to grow milk-producing breasts on the chests of young children, including boys, but Janssen never properly marked that side effect on the label of its drug. Now Janssen is advertising its ADHD drug Concerta, on “Sciene”Blogs. Such a prevalence of drug industry-sponsored ads on “Science”Blogs truly begs the question: do the pharma connections of Seed Media end with advertising? 
 
Integrating Media into Industry
 
SMG shares a PR firm, Ruder Finn, with Merck, as well as GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis to name a few. In fact, Ruder Finn has a whole client category called “Pharma.” I was hardly surprised to read on the Seed Media Group webpage for advertising that SMG not only runs advertisements for large companies, but also consults with them. “Our consulting unit, SMG Consulting, works with companies and institutions to help drive their future innovations. To discuss a new project with our team, please email us.” That apparently includes starting up a new blog on “Science”Blogs, which is exactly what Seed Media Group did when it co-sponsored the “Science + Society Blog” with Schering-Plough from December 7, 2007 to March 5, 2008. The blog said, “On January 30th, the Seed and Schering-Plough hosted the second Science + Society breakfast on Capitol Hill. Entitled "Synthetic Biology: Constructing a Golden Age," the discussion covered the technology behind synthetic bio, the state of current research, and emerging legal and regulatory issues.” The permanent slogan next to the blog headline reads, “brought to you by Schering-Plough.” Well, “Science”Blogs, thank you for Schering.

Schering-Plough is not the only company to collaborate with Seed Media Group that gets a “Science”Blogs mention. In February, one “Science”Blogger for a thread titled “Common Knowledge,” was overjoyed to write about Merck’s donation of data to the public domain. The “Science”Blogger, John Wilbanks, wrote, “Merck has pledged to donate a remarkable resource to the commons - a vast database of highly consistent data about the biology of disease, as well as software tools and other resources to use it” and, “This is all going to happen through the establishment of a non-profit organization called Sage to serve as the guardian of the resources.” He then said, “I am proud to serve on the founding Board of Directors for Sage.” This “Science”Blogger will become a founding board of director to a non-profit established by Merck. Another “Science”Blogger for “The Daily Transcript” thread recently hosted a meeting at Harvard Medical School sponsored by Merck. This same “Science”Blogger called a link between MMR and autism “bogus” while telling parents of autistic children not to use EDTA chelation.

Yet another new ad hit “Science”Blogs, which read “PerkinElmer – For the Better.” PerkinElmer is a company that makes laboratory equipment for biomedical research. If there was ever a type of company that made deals with pharmaceutical companies, this would be it. Sure enough, the company website said that PerkinElmer signed a contract for a 3-year partnership with a subsidiary of Schering-Plough, the company merging with Merck, at the end of 2006. (HERE) That means the partnership between between PerkinElmer and Schering-Plough is still in effect, and interestingly, I noticed that both Schering-Plough and PerkinElmer started advertising on “Science”Blogs shortly after the deal with Merck was announced.

My mention of a Schering-Plough ad in the comments section of a thread on “Science”Blogs hit a nerve. For one, I never saw that ad on “Science”Blogs again after mentioning it. Secondly, I immediately found myself on the receiving end of the ad nauseum “anti-vax” gambit along with a complaint from a “Science”Blogger of how horrible it was that I was interfering with “normal commerce” to prove my point about the conflicts of interest on “Science”Blogs from a typical “Science”Blogger. Sure, one can see how “normal commerce” affects what certain medical journals such as Pediatrics do and don’t publish such as the Verstraeten study where preliminary data never meant for the public showed an entirely different story from what made it into the “peer-reviewed” journal. This is a journal that is edited by Lewis First, a doctor with an M.S. in epidemiology from Harvard who confused 0-exposure with 62.5 mcg of exposure to ethylmercury when describing the latest flimsy study on thimerosal that was published in Pediatrics, The paper only included one autistic participant and was conducted by a grant recipient from Wyeth. If advertising can have this profound an impact on a “peer-reviewed” medical journal, then the effects on a blog where the media group that owns it also consults for companies directly are limitless.

Right after I pointed out the Schering-Plough ad on “Science”Blogs and its connection to Merck, one of the “Science”Bloggers attempted to counter this by criticizing Age of Autism, “Apparently AoA has graduated from accepting advertising from supplement manufacturers to accepting pure pseudoscience, as long as it brings in the green,” as if the contributors of Age of Autism are blogging just so Lee Silsby can sell more vitamins. Comparing Lee Silsby to Merck is like comparing a Chihuahua to a Rottweiler.
 
Jake Crosby is a history student with an autism spectrum disorder at Brandeis University, and a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.
 

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Start with “Thimerosal VSD Study, Phase I, Update 2/29/00, CONFIDENTIAL DO NOT COPY OR RELEASE,” Verstraeten, Robert Davis, Frank DeStefano, page 9 “In Conclusion…” and graphs 1, 3, 8, and 9.
See http://www.safeminds.org/research/library/20010229.pdf .

Ok, even if I take everything that every commenter says is true, where should I go for information and why should I believe them?

I get the sarcasm about rich Autism parents cashing in on the insurance money, but do you really think there are no wealthy parents of autistic children? What about Jenny McCarthy?

Ben, also look at the fallacy used for “safety” in stating the Space Shuttle Challenger (1986 disaster) o-ring seals were safe—even though some had failed.

“The phenomenon of accepting for flight, seals that had shown erosion and blow-by in previous flights, is very clear. The Challenger flight is an excellent example. There are several references to flights that had gone before. The acceptance and success of these flights is taken as evidence of safety. But erosion and blow-by are not what the design expected. They are warnings that something is wrong…When playing Russian roulette the fact that the first shot got off safely is little comfort for the next.”

See http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/51-l/docs/rogers-commission/Appendix-F.txt .

Now look at how the same has happened with vaccines. Safety is improperly inferred from those children that do not succumb to injuries. The vaccine safety failures are far more than “warnings that something is wrong.” And 40,000 children with autism each year is a disaster almost beyond comprehension.

Ben...you wrote:

"Bob, if that's how you feel, how are we supposed to know which journal articles are good and which are bad?"

Do you really believe it is the "reader's" responsibility to sift through "peer reviewed" articles...published by the most prestigious "science" magazines..to ascertain which "journal articles are good and which are bad?" Shouldn't that be the responsiblity of editors of those "peer review science" magazines?

You continued: "not disclosing ghost written articles is a form of academic misconduct, but it is different from falsifying data or cherry picking data."

I suspect EVERY "ghost written" article "cherry picked" and "falsified" data...but...having this information validated by publishing it in a scientific journal is NOT "academic misconduct"...it is a clear violation of "journalistic integrity"..which is the ONLY reason those magazines exist.

You further asked..paraphrasing..if David Kirby's abstract gets published in a peer review journal would I discount it if it can be shown to have some monetary connection to a pharmaceutical company?

My friend, it is NOT the monetary connection that matters...unless that monetary connection is the ONLY reason the study was conducted and then published.

I can't think of ANY reason other than MONEY for a "ghost writer" to submit his work under the pretense of being a reputable doctor? Surely...if his work were scientifically valid...he wouldn't need to hide his pharmaceutical employer by signing someone else's name to it.

Jake Crosby has written a very well thought out article on the subject of "Science Blogs". Whether or not he has ASD or not is besides the point: The perspicacity of his article speaks for itself. For this, he deserves a lot of credit.

The major problem in the field of environmental causes of illness (including autism) is that there are way too many conflicts of interest and this skews both the research that is done and the claims that are made "based" upon this alleged research.

The writers of these "Science Blogs" have proven JFK famous quotation from his Yale Univ. Commencement Address, June 11, 1962: "We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of our opinions without the discomfort of thought."

If vaccines can NOT cause autism then any research "proving no link" is good and anything saying there IS a link is bad. This is not science, but ignorance and it is why--at least in part, that you can't have an intelligent conversation with so many Americans today: They just have lost their ability to think on not only environmental causes of illness but so many other topics as well.

Ben,

Here you go again playing devils advocate. Sure, if an article discussing vaccine side effects gets published in the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, I know I will be a little dissuaded from believing it.

But really now. You have to be kidding to think that Pharma Inc. will be funding something that has anything bad to say about their products. Seriously.. You are kidding right?

Now maybe you meant to say that the anti-vax paper could have been funded by all the parents of autistic kids.. you know, the ones with deep pockets and lots of connections. I'm sure I've met one or two at my kids' school pulling up in a Bentley. Those ones must have really cashed in on the windfall of insurance money that everyone gets. Talk with Orac or the Diva and they will tell you all about it on those precious science blogs.

Your quote also

"Furthermore, how do you know that a particular study was influenced even if you can prove that another one was. Also, not disclosing ghost written articles is a form of academic misconduct, but it is different from falsifying data or cherry picking data.
They do not mean that the results from any particular paper in any particular journal article are fraudulent."

Okay, this is just wrong. I have no idea why you cannot see how ghostwriting is fruad or try and minimize it by comparing it to data manipulation. Ghostwriting is not science. It is marketing, cleverly disguised as science. For God's sake, signing onto a paper written by marketing weasels is no different than appearing in a commercial for the latest statin drug. The only difference is that the readers actually think the doctor actually did the work going into the advertisement.

The doctors signing off on ghostwritten work can't even claim to have done any analysis, much less editing of the paper in some cases. Shameless...and tragic that anyone in the scienceblogs defends the practice.


Ben, Mainstream science? The basis of science is the replication of empirical results. And the science on the safety of vaccines has simply not been done. Consider Richard Feynman’s take on the issue of reliability and science.


“It would appear that, for whatever purpose, be it for internal or external consumption, the management of NASA exaggerates the reliability of its product, to the point of fantasy.

NASA owes it to the citizens from whom it asks support to be frank, honest, and informative, so that these citizens can make the wisest decisions for the use of their limited resources.

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

See http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/51-l/docs/rogers-commission/Appendix-F.txt

The reality is that one in one hundred children born today face the consequences of autism. Children and pregnant women are the guinea pigs of the vaccine industry. Even though the pharmaceutical companies have legal immunity from vaccine injuries and even though the papers cranked out with their financial support give science a bad name and do nothing to establish safety of vaccines--nature has not been fooled.

Thank you so much, Jake. It's very important for the community to know the specific details of the corruption behind the propaganda. It's one thing to suspect, it's another to understand and know. Don't be surprised if the community now looks to you to sleuth out the dirt on many slanted publications. I have my own request: personally I'm sick and tired of "Wired" magazine for their constant brainwashing quips and "jokes" about the genetic nature of autism. Do a search on "Wired Magazine + aspie", etc.. All I've found on them is Conde Nast.

These "asperger adding machine" remarks and even articles fleshing out the idea of the "geek gene" (most with a contemptuous tinge) appear in every single edition, starting with this gem in 2001:
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aspergers_pr.html

Mostly these hints seem to be aimed at post-adolescent techie readership so they can distance themselves from the pathological and self-consciously tip themselves towards approved cultural consumption (buy more of the liquor being advertised on Wired spreads featuring half-naked kneeling nymphs, etc).

Speaking of which, who came up with the names and acronyms you mention in the post-- Mike Duvall? COC, Seed and, might I add, ACC. Filthy.

ben, there are no results to falsify. ScienceBlogs expresses opinions as if they are truth, and Seed Media Group has a financial interest in these opinions agreeing with the opinions of the major pharmaceutical companies. If ScienceBlogs actually conducted studies and published results, it would be a different story. As it stands, however, ScienceBlogs are just another PR outlet for Big Pharma.

Nice work, Jake. I like "Thank you for Schering" ... very clever.

Ben-- you're really serious when you say a relationship between the second largest pharmaceutical corp in the world and a blog that unerringly defends its products and attacks its critiques is "casual"? Move the "u" to the first syllable and try again.

Bob, if that's how you feel, how are we supposed to know which journal articles are good and which are bad? If you assume that the pro vaccine studies are the result of fraud, why can't I assume the anti vaccine studies are the result of fraud? David Kirby mentioned an abstract a few days ago with conclusions I am sure you support. If it gets published in a peer review journal that can be shown to have some monetary connection to a pharmaceutical company, are you going to discount the research?

Furthermore, how do you know that a particular study was influenced even if you can prove that another one was. Also, not disclosing ghost written articles is a form of academic misconduct, but it is different from falsifying data or cherry picking data.
They do not mean that the results from any particular paper in any particular journal article are fraudulent.

PS, I do admit that I did not notice this article was written by a student with autism. I do commend you Jake for your hard work and dedication even though I disagree with your conclusions.

A writer I know gets paid by movie studios to go on entertainment websites and talk up new movies, which is easy when the movie is good but less so when it's an obvious stinker and nobody else has anything nice to say, at which point the "shilliness" shines through.

It's my assumption that those most passionately anti-safety re: vaccines are either completely uninformed or paid to have those opinions, because it's so obvious at this point that there's a problem that anyone swearing undying, unquestioning fealty to the vaccine gods is ineloquently giving themselves away.

I think these connections that Jake has uncovered are fascinating. I can't wait for part II!

Sue, you said it all! And so eloquently. Shock jocks indeed.

Ben, Ben, Ben.....my friend...you ask:

"If you claim that this is due to a partnership with big pharma, you need more proof than casual relationships. How and where have results been falsified?"

Name me ONE, respected, scientific..."peer review" magazine...that does not acknowledge an industry wide problem of articles being submitted by physicians.. that were actually written by pharmaceutical "ghost writers"?

I can't recall where I heard or read the comment several years back, but Boyd Haley once said that one thing that especially bothered him was (paraphrasing as I don't recall his exact words) "what they are doing to science." At the time I was still searching for the truth and unsure who/what to believe, and I didn't really understand what he meant.

Now, I fully understand and very sadly agree with him. "They"--meaning the "skeptics," the corrupted researchers, the bought-off journals, the pharma-owned and influenced media and reporters, even the scientists and "science writers" who just "think they know" because they have read/heard what CDC, Paul Offit, or some such "expert" says but who haven't bothered to really investigate and read all sides--are all killing science.

I no longer feel that I can believe anything I read anywhere without fully investigating the topic for myself--and I don't have years to invest in trying to fully understand other controversies--so where I once loved to read science magazines and journals (and might have enjoyed science blogs had any been around back then), I now just get an ache in my gut when I read "science" journals and "science journalism." Suffice to say that the "science" blogs you refer to just completely turn my stomach.

Thanks for taking the time to uncover these connections. While some of the posters may be influenced by pharma dollars or pharma friends, I honestly don't think all or most are necessarily on the pharma payroll, they have just drunk the koolaid (or memorized their school lessons all too well) and find it far easier to quote and trust those they think are "experts," than to actually engage in any careful thinking or analysis of the supposed "science" on their own. Add in some smug arrogance, a lack of intellectual curiosity, and just plain bad manners, and the result is what they write.

Sadly their behavior contributes to the downward spiral of public opinion of science and scientists--and probably a downward spiral in the quality of medical science too. If supposedly smart folks can be convinced by really poorly done "science," and scientists who do "poor science" get quoted more, get their papers published in the "top journals," their ideas distributed more widely, and get most of the available research funding, where is the incentive (or even possibility) for really good scientists to stay in the field and do science right?

The journalists who can get their work published (and/or paid for) are those who can get a few quotes from some supposed experts, don't offend any advertisers, and keep their articles short, simple and dumbed down to sixth grade reading level. Journalists who work hard to really understand a controversy and then try to tell the full story, complex details and all, have a hard time writing "short" articles and then often can't get their work published.

These "science" bloggers are like radio shock jocks. Few facts, lots of distortion, name-calling, ridicule, rudeness and just plain stupidity. I refuse to tune in to either, but sadly I think both are eroding the civility of our society. And I am really sad about "what they are doing to science."

Ben,

You said: "Mainstream science has reached a conclusion that you and the followers of this blog disagrees with." Let me guess, that conclusion is that vaccines don't cause autism. Correct? Well, where is the science that demonstrates that??? There are only very poorly designed and conflicted studies available for ONE of the vaccines in the current schedule. If mainstream science has reached a conclusion based on that then we are all in really big trouble.

I started thinking about some of this a few years ago when I was looking for a neuroblog or two to track, because I work with special needs kids and wanted to keep up with the latest information. I checked out ScienceBlogs. I found nothing there remotely comparable with "Scientific American Mind Matters", which was the blog I ultimately chose to follow.

However even back then (long before my son was a twinkle in our eye, and I had not started to research vaccines at all) I was very put off by the place. It consistently had a very belligerent and arrogant feel. The standard line of the mainstream corporate science-industrial complex was consistently the rule there. Anyone questioning it was kicked to the curb. The twin guns of surgery and pharmaceuticals (and of course chemotherapy and radiation) seemed to be good enough for the medical bloggers. I even saw a nutrition post that suggested the only way to lose weight was to always stay a little bit hungry and exercise over 300 minutes a week! 70s-era wisdom, and this with all the sophisticated research out there about the complex interrelationships between genes and diet (a great book on this by an eminent academic in the field is "Why Some Like It Hot" by Gary Paul Nabhan).

I was stunned because popular science books have been my mainstay all my life. I read "Godel Escher Bach" and "The Emperor's New Mind", Stephen Hawking and James Gleick in high school. Since then I have devoured folks like Oliver Sacks, V.S. Ramachandran, Rodolfo Llinas, Antonio Damasio, Norman Doidge, Robert Wright, Atul Gawande. None of these folks come off anything like the ScienceBlogs science bloggers. The great science authors are friendly to alternative theories, ideas and traditions. They draw inspiration from folks like William James, Goethe, and Chinese and Indian sources, just to name a few. They are quick to identify what they don't know and respect alternative approaches to the same problem.

Until ScienceBlogs reminds me a bit more of the science writers I actually enjoy reading, I think their "conversation about Science" will mostly be with each other. When someone there says "Acupuncture is quackery" they draw a clear line in the sand. Anyone who has an acupuncturist they trust, a friend they trust who enthusiastically endorses their acupuncturist, a friend who is an acupuncturist, or is an acupuncturist themselves won't be coming back. Of course that's an increasing number of people each year. Now multiply this times people who have that sort of relationship with chiropractic, homeopathy, yoga (don't forget, mainstream science says your body takes in all the oxygen it needs so breath work is just a waste of time), herbalists, nutritionists, etc. etc. etc. The tighter and more belligerently they hold to their line the less people they will find on their side of it.

That said, some friendly fire: You have done some nice investigative reporting. I think if you want an audience for it beyond the AoA core it would have to be written a lot more impartially. It would be a shame not to do it I think.

ben-

you said-

"If you claim that this is due to a partnership with big pharma, you need more proof than casual relationships."

Casual relationships? I think the information that Jake discovered is much more than casual. It's also a disgusting trend that needs to be stopped.

Jake, you did a great job following these connections. I'm not sure who ben is or why he would defend these types of sinister collaborations but it could possibly be due to the fact that you have hit a nerve.

Good Job!

I think, at this point, we need to confront one of the main reasons that vaccines are so bitterly defended. Modern medicine has its triumphs but it also has had a lot of failures and disasters. Vaccines have been commonly upheld as one of the major triumphs, something that has saved millions and millions of lives. If vaccines are shown to be a serious danger to health, rather than a perfectly wonderful life-saving measure, the shift in paradigm will drive a Mack truck through the middle of the modern medicine as miracle meme, undermining sales of all drugs and a huge amount of people's faith in doctors.

It isn't just the danger of lawsuits and the loss of profits when vaccine demand declines that makes these people so nasty. Their religion is being attacked.

Jake, you are verging on heresy. Watch out for the Inquisition!

Jake, this is very impressive work. I’ve always heard it said ‘follow the money’, but I’ve also known that that always seems to be way easier said than done.

If these vaccine apologists – vaccine makers, public health officials, main stream media profiteers, ‘science’ bloggers — were to be called into a court of law to testify about the facts as they know them when it comes to vaccine safety, do you think that they’d be allowed to testify anonymously? Of course they wouldn’t. And yet so very many of them have been profiting from anonymously doing and saying the most ridiculous and evil things.

Once again I can’t help but think about how this whole issue would have been settled decades ago if Congress hadn’t passed legislation which forced parents into the special Vaccine Court.

Grassley’s on my television right now talking about how we should ‘return to first principles’, when it comes to health care. Perhaps it’s time to return to ‘first principles’ when it comes to justice.

Liked your reference to ‘fertilizer’. That’s not what I would’ve called it, but good for you. You’re such a polite young man :}

There is still a fundamental problem. Mainstream science has reached a conclusion that you and the followers of this blog disagrees with. If you claim that this is due to a partnership with big pharma, you need more proof than casual relationships. How and where have results been falsified?

Jake - insightful, to say the very least. Probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to conflict of interest. People, in general, have higher opinions of themselves versus the opinions others have of them, so I bet a lot of the bloggers on that sight never consider themselves as being involved in such conflict. But there's no denying where their paychecks are coming from.

In regards to Du Pont and Merck: It would make for interesting reading to find out who the suppliers are for all those heavy metals and neurotoxins that the vaccine companies use in their formulas, and how much of the suppliers profits come from vaccines developer contracts, and how long the contracts are in effect.

Wow- you and Blaxill would be good collaborators!

Truth is not a popularity contest. At least, it's not supposed to be.

Jake, thank you for doing the research on this. I look forward to Part II.

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