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Nov 22, 2011               

ME: Dr. Mikovits and co-worker implicated in theft


After yesterday's brief excursion into the lusher fields of 20th C philosophy, I return today to ME. I'll spread it over several files, and this is the third. Here are links to the first and the second.

This third part gives the answers - is it something about November: Stapel, Polderman (*), Pfost, Mikovits... (nah: merely noting a coincidence: I might as well comment on their names starting with letters from the second half of the alphabet).

Anyway, here is a link to Phoenix Rising (that slowed down, so don't give up in case you can't get in - or do give up and try later):

Researcher Confesses, Implicates Dr. Mikovits
in Theft of Materials From WPI

The article is by Cort Johnson, and he got there one of the first, though I take it from ERV's blog of today,

XMRV and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 30

at least Trine Tsouderos, of the Chicago Tribune, may have been there first, and Abbie Smith probably also knew it sooner than Cort did.

Here it is in brief points, skipping the introduction, and with my corrections, with what I corrected struck through:

Researcher Confesses Theft- in a legal filing pertaining to a preliminary injunction against Dr. Judy Mikovits the Whittemore Peterson Institute provided evidence that Dr. Mikovits engineered the theft of the research materials from the WPI lab after her termination.

In an affidavit Max Pfost, a researcher working at the Max Pfost, admitted that he removed the documents/flash drives at Dr. Mikovits behest the morning after her termination. According to Pfost’s affidavit, upon hearing of her termination Dr. Mikovits called him and told him that the WPI would ‘go down’. She then met him in a bar and provided him with the keys he needed to take ‘patient samples’, lab notebooks and other information.

Pfost attempted to gain entry to the WPI that night but was unable to and entered the building the next morning when it was unlocked. Pfost then removed between 12-20 heavy notebooks containing approximately five years of research work from Dr. Mikovits, Pfost and two other researchers.

Skipping some, more are implicated:

Dr. Mikovits requested that he mail them to her at her house but Pfost protested that size the weight of the notebooks made them to expensive to mail. After confessing to his mother that he had stolen the notebooks Pfost removed them from her house and returned them to his condominium.

Mikovits In Hiding
- Shortly after meeting Dr. Mikovits early in the morning at the Reno airport Pfost handed over the notebooks and other materials to her. Dr. Mikovits informed Pfost that she was hiding out on a boat to avoid being served papers by the WPI and requested that he inform her of the whereabouts of WPI personnel to avoid detection.

Attempted Removal of Biological Materials as Well - According to the affadavit Dr. Mikovits also attempted to have biological materials including cell lines and blood samples removed from the labs as well. At Dr. Mikovits behest Pfost attempted to recruit other WPI employees to remove these materials from the lab and send them to Dr. Ruscetti.

Cort also explains why it is mistaken to blame the WPI for dr. Mikovits's acts, as I explained before in Nederlog, and gives a brief explanation of what dr. Mikovits risks: Years of prison.

So... while not explaining all, this explains a lot, such as: Who did it? (Max Pfost, asked by Judy Mikovits.) How was it done? (By a co-worker, who was given keys.) Why was dr. Mikovits arrested and jailed? (Because of what the judge or the court knew.)

It also leaves quite a few questions open. Here are a few:

- Why was Ruscetti in it as well (by the above, it seems)?
- What is the motive of dr. Mikovits (and it seems: Ruscetti)?
- Why did Pfost steal the stuff for dr. Mikovits?
- What is there to hide in the lab books etc.?
- Have the lab books been retrieved, in tolerable condition?
- If yes, what do they reveal?

Etc. I suppose most of these questions will eventually be answered.

My own guesses are that the answers to the first two questions are probably: Money.

The third question is difficult to answer/guess, but maybe the working climate at the WPI was not what it should have been, or Mr Pfost is a gullible guy. (As is, he risks years of prison.)

The fourth is - I guess - evidence of fraud in the paper prepared for Science, and possibly more.

The last two I leave open and unanswered, not even by my guesses.

What's the overall result so far? There we have a sudden considerable amount of clarity and clearing of much problematic circumstances:

Quite a few people, of the True Believers Community will be much disillusioned, or so I hope, but for the truly faithful and their students there still is good hope for faith, science and amusement: Gerwyn has just started his own forum, so the above linked ERV-blog informs the world, namely via a commenter, so there still is a good chance for the willing and eager researchers into cognitive dissonance to keep studying a real life case of it.

The WPI, at least if the the notebooks have been restored in tolerable order, has passed a major hurdle. To what effect remains to be seen, but at least it doesn't seem they have to face years in an obscure and complicated court case, nor a continueing stream of anonymous allegations that they are the evil meanies who incarcarated the great and good saviour of the folks with ME/CFS.

The retrovirologists, and especially Abbie Smith, can take some pride in having been right about retrovirology and having their own yard swept.

The NIH has answers to quite a few questions they probably wanted to ask about XMRV, about the WPI and about dr. Mikovits.

As for me: I am mostly relieved, for it seems the real culprits have been arrested; the case has been in principle solved; what remains is probably going to be most unpleasant for Judy Mikovits, Max Pfost, and probably the Ruscettis, but then it would seem they did it "for filthy lucre", as the phrase is; and I also may hope the air and climate on patients forums clears some, and maybe - one can hope! - the Patricia Carter owned forum gets shut. I also hope in the future patients will limit themselves to this:

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. (**)

Well... more no doubt later, if possibly not today.

(*) Polderman is a Dutch medical doctor who was fired by the Erasmus University of Rotterdam for committing fraud a few days ago, close on the heels of Stapel.

(**) I make an exception, though, for pseudoscientists: Messrs Wessely, White, Sharpe, Bleijenberg and Van der Meer are no real "scientists who do this stuff for a living", or as little as cardinals of the Catholic Church are real scientists. But I agree about real scientists: Let them do their stuff as they see fit, and don't lecture them on real science, especially not if you yourself are not a real scientist to start with.


Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.
-- 23 Nov 2011: Removed a double quotation.

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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