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Nov 20, 2011      `

me+ME: Dr. Mikovits arrested - 2

   "If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief, "to every good work reprobate." "
   -- Hazlitt

This is a follow-up to yesterday's Nederlog with the same title, without number. The short of it is that, as predicted, it gets uglier and uglier, though this is nearly all the doings of famous, gifted, brave and moral "Anonymous", "Anonymous", and "Anonymous", with enthusiastic help from "Jill" and like "named" "non-anonymous" other ones, writing on patients' forums, who seem to be there, psychologists and psychiatrists tend to think, in cases like this, with their public opinion, but spoken from behind masks, mostly because they enjoy hurting others - as is all human-all-too-human as soon as ordinary men and women have surrected an Us and a Them to indulge their strong tastes for groupthinking, wishful thinking, hypocritical sanctimoniousness  about their own motives, and gleeful harming, offending, bullshitting and lying to others.

So... consider what follows mostly as a report of and study in mankind's normal proclivities to cruelties in the name of Us and Our evident and clear great moral goodness and most obvious rationality and reasonability, for I can't make much sense of much I've read in this context on the assumption that most I read are really by well-educated, fair, rational and reasonable people, and even adults too (?!), since many of the opinions I read evidently are none of the kind, and quite a few are morally sick or sickening, and must be explained by reference to the average moral and intellectual level of humans. (Yes, Hazlitt diagnosed it well.)

To start with, then, here is a list of sources:

      1. Whittemore Institute suing Mikovits for alleged theft of lab
           notebooks and data (thread on Phoenix Rising)
Judy Mikovits Arrested in Ventura County on November 18,
       2010 (Nov 19, Hillary Johnson on Osler's Web, 27 comments
         as I write)
     3. China Syndrome at the WPI (dr. Jamie Deckoff-Jones blog
         Nov 19, 54 comments as I write)
     4. Game with no winner (dr. Jamie Deckoff-Jones blog Nov 12, 363
         comments as I write)
     5. In the Pipeline (dr. Derek Lowe's blog, on Corante, Oct 4, 2011,
         88 comments as I write)
     6. Controversial CFS Researcher Arrested and Jailed (Jon Cohen,
         on Science Insider, Nov 19, 2011, 0 comments as I write)

Most of the most crazy stuff is in the comments to items 2, 3 and 4, but some of it is also at the same places in items 1 and 5, though I am a bit pleased to have seen that most - certainly not: all - of those who do write on Phoenix Rising are restrained.

I'll turn to some of the crazy stuff in a moment, but start with a quote from item 5, a blog that I wasn't aware of until today. Dr. Lowe is an organic chemist, and my reason for mentioning his blog consists mostly of two items on it, one quite reasonable, one quite unreasonable.

To start with the reasonable one, who sounds like professor Malcolm Hooper, but since that's a mere guess on my part I won't insist on its truth. Here is the full text as I found it, with one thing I changed: I added the link to the Wikipedia item on Jenny McCarthy:

57. cynical1 on October 5, 2011 1:21 PM writes...

I have done a literature search and, aside from the XMRV reports, there are no reports of gamma retroviruses in ME/CFS in the scientific literature that I can find. While there may be some work in progress (outside of XMRV), it has not been published nor, of course, replicated by others in the field as of yet. So, therefore it would be scientifically foolish to assume that association exists at this juncture and downright stupid to ingest antiretroviral medications for some time to come. Unfortunately, the XMRV link to CFS/ME has been debunked irrevocably. That is simply a fact at this juncture. Some of us were quite excited when it was first published. I have spent about half my 26 year career working on antiviral drug discovery. Trust me, none of us are excited about XMRV anymore. It's sort of like cold fusion. Everyone got excited and then it turned out to be a bunch of sloppy experiments that noone could replicate. Deja vu......

I do appreciate the frustration of the ME/CFS patients and their caregivers. I myself (a medicinal chemist) am watching my wife die of late stage multiple sclerosis. Now that money is being made on drug therapies, things have improved somewhat but for many years MS research languished and was sidelined completely at all of the major pharmaceutical companies. My wife and I both know that her disease will kill her long before an effective therapy is developed for her late stage MS. Bitching about that isn't going to change any of it either.

I have watched patients post literally volumes of text while I followed this sad debacle in science. However, I would humbly suggest that all that energy, passion, and activism has been sorely misdirected. That resource should have been solely directed at increasing disease awareness and research funding and not arguing with scientists who do this stuff for a living. Period. We all know that CFS/ME involves a differential diagnosis with few to any accepted biomarkers. As a consequence, CFS umbrellas a heterogeneous patient population at best. Since I also read MS blogs, I can say that the CFS community is being misrepresented to the scientific community by a very vocal but very misguided minority. Or at least I hope it's a minority.

As for ERV/Ms. Smith's blog, regardless of her predilection towards alienation of some groups/scientists, her scientific analysis of the data of this disaster has been accurate. As for her blogging style (for which I'd much rather read Derek's), I would guess that she has probably raised quite a few eyebrows even in her own profession. But that is her problem and should not be a priority for the CFS community. The WPI derailed it's own efforts long ago. CFS patients should understand that biomedical scientists will always take a very dim view of anyone who shares the stage with Jenny McCarthy at an Age of Autism conference. Even if Dr. Mikovits was a brilliant pioneer in her field, she would probably be dismissed for that alone and arguably so. But if she was brilliant, she would know that wouldn't she?

All of that seems fair enough.

Then there are a couple of far from reasonable posters on that same blog, notably one Lilly, who sounds like Lilly Meehan, though again I am merely guessing. Here are the first three paragraphs of her:

47. Lilly on October 5, 2011 9:40 AM writes...

ERV/Abby Smith has engaged in hate speech against Dr Mikovits, Annette Whittemore and WPI at least since October, 2009. She has denigrated patients, called Dr. M a c*nt, called Whittemore, the CEO of WPI and a former teacher, a housewife, and called mecfs patients crazy, among other things. There is plenty of evidence, supplied by her, of her own mental pathology. Noting that is not "shooting the messenger". It is knowing the messenger's history of distortion and hostility.

Now she finds something that may well be a mistake but all of a sudden it's "fraud."

No, no one in their right mind is going to thank her for that. She has been on a hate binge for over 2 years. She has contributed nothing positive to life on earth. It may well be that she is the fraud.

If indeed this is by Lilly Meehan, then she has quite lost her faith in Mrs. Whittemore and the WPI since October 5 last. Now in view of what happened since, notably dr. Mikovits's firing by the WPI, being legally charged by the WPI, and being arrested in the context of the legal procedures, I can understand Ms. Lilly's change of opinions, but the above is quite unreasonable about Abbie Smith aka Erv, and while Ms. Smith may be fairly said to prefer sharp language, I see no evidence whatsoever - and I do have the M.A. degree in the somewhat relevant science of psychology - for Ms. Smith's supposed "mental pathology" and also no evidence whatsoever for Ms. Lilly's last two statements I quoted - that indeed seem to be written so as to offend. (I mean: "She has contributed nothing positive to life on earth." What a strange thing to think or say, about someone who is not a professional torturer, and whom one does not know at all, except for what's on a blog.)

And as an aside, although that also applies to many of the comments I read in the above listed items, if indeed also not to all:

Why are so many people bereft of fairness when it comes to considering those they disagree with, or those they believe to be not of their group, or not of their opinion? Is man - and woman too - if indeed belonging to the huge class of ordinary men, who are since milleniums the willing tools of dictators and religious nuts or frauds, on average perhaps necessarily an ideological ape, a natural born yahoo, who feels it is no more than just to treat strangers and opponents as an inferior race against whom anything is permitted, on the force of Orwell's recipe? In case you're not sure about that most helpful of moral teachings:

"Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonments without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians, which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side."  

Hi Lilly! Hi Gerwyn! Hi Jace! Hi Angela! Hi V99! That's your moral schema to judge others by as well, isn't it?! Don't get angry, please: democratic majorities in our proud species have preferred it since the Stone Age! Is it really because all your intellects are tenth rate at best? Innate absence of real nous, coupled to a human animal's herd's loyalities, so ably sung about by Dean Swift? I mean: You really can't do any better because you have not been born with better brains nor had a really moralizing education? Non posse nemo obligatur, but could you please stop drivelling and bullshitting as if your very own manner of being a fanatic idiot is the type of human being patients with ME are? For this diminishes my chances, and those of millions of others who at least don't have your type of opinions, of being treated reasonably by medical people, and such.

And after this clarification, off to dr. Deckoff-Jones's latest blog, that starts like so, with numbers sowed by me for referring to my notes that follow - and indeed I also will say some about the law, in the US:

My friend Judy is in jail. [1] It defies explanation. [2] Nine policeman appeared at the home of Lilly Meehan yesterday with a warrant and searched her house, finding nothing of course. [3] At the same time, Judy's house was searched and she was arrested for being a "fugitive". [4] She was fired unexpectedly and went home to her husband. That's being a fugitive? [5] Only legal machinations, misuse of the system, could define her as a fugitive. [6] If it wasn't so horrible, it would be laughable. What she was "fleeing" was a veritable looney bin, having made every attempt to remain on the inside. [7] And now they have taken her freedom. Turning her into not just a fraud, but a criminal, a thief? Come on. [8] She is incarcerated and anything can happen. [9] It is critical that the patient community find ways to let the authorities know that we are watching. [10] If anyone harms a hair on her head, it will be noticed. [11]

[1] Indeed, dr. Deckoff-Jones is friends with dr. Mikovits - or for the logically minded: She has repeatedly written so on her blog, and I believe her, about this. Also, it does justify some of her anger and unhappiness, or, for the logically minded: it would justify this, if dr. D-J is honest, as I am willing to assume.

[2] No, it does not defy explanation. While I personally do not have a high opinion of the law as practiced in the US, notably because (1) there are percentually far more US-citizens in jail than European citizens, and because (2) most of them are black, and because (3) the penitential system has been privatized and (4) forces convicts to do forced labour against hardly any remuneration, there are quite a few quite worse legal systems than the US one, and what clearly has happened, and does not defy explanation at all, is that dr. Mikovits has been arrested on a judge's order, and so probably in a nominally legally correct way.

[3] Like the arrest, this seems rather heavy handed from my European perspective, but again, there was a search warrant, presumably signed by a judge, for a reason I do not know. Indeed, the judge risks the possibility of causing wrongful arrest, which may - under the US but not the European system of law - cause dr. Mikovits to get a lot in damages, if indeed another court agrees with her that the judge who signed her arrest warrant did so without due legal reason.

Also, I do not know what the police were looking for in Lilly Meehan's house, nor whether it is a matter "of course" that they wouldn't find anything, unless dr. Deckoff-Jones means to say that she does not believe that the US police - at least: in Ventura - are capable of planting "evidence".

[4] Actually, I don't know why dr. Mikovits was arrested, in that so far as I know the legalities have not been properly clarified in public, so that I could read it. Then again, I do take it there is a court order, and presumably some US judge thought it legal to order her arrest, and indeed may have done so for legally sufficient reasons. (And as I said: dr Mikovits does have the option of starting a wrongful arrest case, at least formally speaking.)

For what I know - not much - having her arrested is a strong means of upholding the law, that I may not believe to be justified if I would have more knowledge, but then again she has not been arrested by Hitler's Gestapo or Stalin's KGB.

[5] Here dr. Jamie is being rhetorical: Dr. Judy may have gone home to her husband, but if a judge had ordered her to stay in Nevada or Reno (which I don't know), this is what she legally had to abide by.

[6] I do not know whether this would amount in US Law to contempt of court, but then again dr. Jamie is quite prone to accusing those she disagrees with as incompetent. My own guess is that if a judge ordered her arrest on the charge that she is a fugitive, this may be both heavy-handed and unfair, and also may be considerably stretching the laws that apply, for some reason - but given the fact that dr. Mikovits and her lawyers can start a cause for damages because of wrongful arrest, the reasonable guess is that, at least nominally and legally, the order for her arrest had some basis in the laws that apply.

[7] But why was the WPI - I suppose is meant by dr Jamie - "a veritable looney bin"? Dr. Deckoff-Jones was dismissed there, and clearly does not like Mrs. Annette Whittemore, who heads the WPI, but it would be nice to have at least some evidence. In any case, and so far as my knowledge goes, what may be fairly criticized in the WPI, I think, is (1) the absence of a back-up or copy of the stuff that has disappeared and (2) the absence of encryption of personal medical data, if these data are present on the stuff that disappeared, and was not encrypted. (Then again, the WPI may reply these two absences were due to dr. Mikovits, who was their research director, and should have seen to this.)

[8] This is a vast exaggeration. She has been arrested on order of a judge, that may be contested by her lawyers or herself, and also she has not been "turned into not just a fraud, but a criminal, a thief", at least not till a judge in court has pronounced her so. For the moment she has been arrested on the orders of a US court, and she has not been convicted of anything.

[9] Another vast exaggeration, namely that "She is incarcerated and anything can happen": It's not the Lubyanka or some Gestapo hell-hole she has been locked up in.

[10] But why is that "critical"? Because US prisons, judges and courts cannot be trusted? As I said, I am not strongly impressed by the US legal system, and it also surely will help dr. Mikovits if others try to assure that her treatment is according to the law and not unduly harsh or cruel. Then again, I have been during the 33 years of my illness in much worse situations, and dr. Mikovits, for the time being, while undoubtedly going through a very unpleasant experience, has no reason to fear for her life or her health, and will probably be freed with or without bail in a few days.

[11] Really? And then what will you do? Start The Revolution? As I indicated, my approach is different (but I admit I am less well-informed than dr. Deckoff-Jones): Dr. Mikovits has not been arrested by some obscure state terrorists in a dangerous dictatorship, but has been arrested on a judge's order, in what is formally a democratic state of law, and in view of the legal case she has been involved in by the WPI; it is likely she will be free, with or without bail, by coming Tuesday; she can file for damages due to wrongful arrest and consequent loss of reputation; and it is quite unlikely she will be harmed or tortured or indeed threatened with any violence.

Finally, as by this time I am too sickened to go on, indeed not because of dr. Jamie's prose, though I don't think it makes much sense, but because of the level and content of the anonymous comments that I read, especially those under her blog. What a bunch of evil-minded rotters that attracts!

Here is just one example, from many:

Anonymous said...

2 names comes to mind when thinking of crime against humanity; Whittemore and Hitler...

(November 20, 2011 2:43 am) (*)

How insane or cruel can one get? Well... like Elisabeth, who I would not be amazed is the pretentious Christian nut-case of that name on Phoenix Rising. Get thee to a madhouse, you freak! You're bonkers or a goddamned SM-case! And a coward to boot!

I lift out just one point many anonymous posters seem to feel very strongly about: The badness of the WPI, and especially that of Mrs. Annette Whittemore, and of Mrs. Andrea Whittemore-Goad, who are being made responsible for everything that happened to dr. Mikovits.

Sorry: It's bullshit. They may not be perfect people - they very probably are not, and let (s)he who is perfect cast the first stone - but they are not responsible for dr. Mikovits's mistakes (most of her colleagues, quite a few with a much better reputation than she has, think dr. Mikovits either was quite mistaken or falsified data, which means, in the most sympathetic reading, that most of her better qualified colleagues believe she and the WPI have been doing improper scientific research for two years)(**) and are legally entitled to go to court to enforce what they see as their rights, notably about obtaining the records of the research they financed (which may have disappeared, for all I know, because it may contain evidence that dr. Mikovits doesn't want others to see).

So the Whittemores went to court. Since the US is not Stalin's Soviet Union, after having gone to court what happens is up to the court and the judge, and as far as executing orders is concerned, the police. If mistakes were made or if dr. Mikovits was treated unjustly - and both are quite possible - then it is also still quite possible for her to get her rights, and file for damages. But then again, if mistakes were made, people writing on forums should accuse those who are legally responsible: The court, the judge or the police - AND sign their own names and addresses with it, to show how honest and serious they are.

As it is, I see no more than that the Whittemores went to the law so as to obtain property they say they lost, the loosing of which may benefit dr. Mikovits's personal interests, for various reasons, such as the fact that some of her colleagues have been quite skeptical about her competence or her morality, and the material that disappeared may be such as to support or prove that skepticism. (And indeed this will probably also be of concern to Science, the editors of which still seem to want to see to it that the Mikovits, Lombardi et al paper they published gets retracted, and possibly also to the NIH, that subsidized the WPI.)

And I also see the writings of many patients who are blind to rationality or reason, and who support their heroes in the most illogical, crude or immoral ways, as indeed is quite human - except that it is at least a little strange, if again human-all-too-human, that almost none of them have any good reason to trust or believe in dr. Mikovits, whom most never met, nor talked to or mailed with more than very superficially, and whose scientific expertise or mistakes they themselves completely lack the knowledge to judge competently.

But such is the mental and emotional make-up of the faithful, the fanatic, and the cognitively challenged, is also true, and these have so far been in solid majority everywhere in any society.

Speaking for my part, I think it is very likely dr. Mikovits either made serious mistakes or committed fraud, and I don't think so because I am myself qualified in retrovirology, but because most retrovirologists seem to think so, and I have no reason to believe these are incompetent, dishonest or biased.

(*) To be fair: Eighth hours later, a mere eight hours later, there is this on the same blog (and given the link, not even by someone anonymous, and indeed by someone quite capable of judging this in context):

Jeannette said...

"2 names comes to mind when thinking of crime against humanity; Whittemore and Hitler..."

I am as appalled as everybody else here, but this comparison is outrageous. It is insulting to everybody who has lost family under Hitler. It shows a complete absence of knowledge of the extent of the suffering of the Jews and other minorities in Europe in the 30s and 40s. It has become ok in this country to compare people with whom we don't agree with Hitler. This only serves to minimize the atrocities perpetrated by Hitler.

It also makes us, as the patients, lose our credibility in a snap.

(November 20, 2011 10:10 am)

Hmm... yes, and I have "lost family under Hitler". And I have been discriminated on Phoenix Rising for my background. O, and my opinions, and my degrees too, I believe, the last because I am not a degreeless nutter like the types who at long last have found a place of the handicapped where their handicapped tiny minds can shine forth as special, until contradicted, and bully everybody better than they, with the help of the democratic majority of likeminded equally gifted.

And while I agree with the writer, or at least more than not, I have also been called "a fascist" during nearly all the years I was in university, by many, because I was well-known as being against dumbing down and politicizing the universities - and I could not protest, because I was afraid my parents, both real heroes of the Dutch Resistance, might get in trouble with my opponents (who did not know about my communist background, that they probably - since they pretended nearly all to be Revolutionary Marxists, from a bourgeois background - would have sorely envied at the time).

So... the problem with 99.99% of mankind is that they lack the intellect, the self-control and the morality to behave and think and desire like the best. And thence the mostly horrible human history as it is, filled with yahoos murdering and persecuting their betters for reason of insane ideals and ideas that anybody with a bright mind could see through.

(**) I have no interest or respect or sympathy whatsoever for the many patients who I have read claims of to the logical effect that they - or Gerwyn, or whoever unqualified with a Ph.D. and years of research experience at a good university - know better than scores of highly qualified professional retrovirologists, while it is very clear nearly all of them don't know any real science, can't write, have no idea what scientists are like, but feel free to dogmatize anonymously away, like fanatic idiots, as if they care fuck all for the chances of others with the same disease, who are not as stupid, as uneducated, as immoral and as dishonest as these patients are. Well... I think that in fact they do care fuck all for the chances of others, if these others are not of their very own incrowd of True Believers, of the Church of Carter and Gerwyn, for if they would, they would not do their mighty best to alienate any honest scientist who might be willing to do research in ME/CFS.

P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.  Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

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