Dec 26, 2011
me+ME: Sorting through some evidence about dr. Mikovits
I have divided the earlier version of Nederlog of December 26 - Boxing Day - in (i) a boxing part about the Bobbean horrors that intelligent readers of the Phoenix Rising forums have to suffer a lot from, willy nilly, for this freaky horror may pop up everywhere, in any discussion that promises to be possibly rational, by educated persons, and (ii) the present part about some evidence in case of dr. Mikovits.
So... having considered the horror of anonymous nitwits who make any rational discussion by rational people on forums for patients with ME/CFS effectively impossible, and who also make the reading of such forums a daily exercise in nausea control, let me turn to the case of dr. Mikovits and the hunting for the XMRV-snark that has turned out to be a HGRV-bogus.
To start with my own Nederlog on the withdrawal
Here the reader can find seven links, of which the first listed there, by Jon Cohen in Science, is best and contains the most information:
There also was a good article by David Tuller in the NYT:
And there is an issue in Abbie Smith's series on XMRV and CFS:
She in turn links to another good Jon Cohen article, namely that of October 4:
This I will consider below, but while Science did report well on the subject, so did Nature, and here is a list of Ewen Callaway's articles on it all from 2011, but in the order published and with dates and titles:
Taken together, the links in this section provide a fair summary of dr. Mikovits's case, although something is still missing that those interested in detective novels or criminal cases should not miss. I provide a link to a Nederlog of mine
and from thence links to four pdf's produce by the WPI (Whittemore Peterson Institute, whence dr. Mikovits was fired on September 29). The first is by the lawyers for the WPI, the other three are sworn statements. All is from the court case WPI vs Mikovits, about the disappeared lab books and other materials, and it reads like a crime novel: [*]
3. Sorting through some evidence about dr. Mikovits
Now let me consider six consecutive paragraphs from Jon Cohen's
that gives the clearest explanation of the matters I'm concerned with in one place. I start with noting that it is from October 4 last, and that I quote by indenting:
That seems true, though the reason given around that time by the WPI seems also not to have been the full truth, which seems to be that dr. Mikovits had "misappopriated" cell lines addressed and sent to dr. Lombardi. See
Also the 29th of September is the day when dr. Mikovits and her personal assistent Max Pfost decided, after dr. Mikovits had been fired, that Max Pfost should steal the lab-books, notebooks and some flash drives from the WPI, using the keys of the former, as also was done in the morning of September 30:
To continue with Jon Cohen's article:
Actually the relevant blog is here, including pictures and 1122 comments:
This ended 10 weeks later with Science's chief-editor retracting the whole article. I do in fact have the pdf for that, but can't find it on line on the moment, but as Abbie Smith also reported
To continue quoting Jon Cohen's October 4 article:
At the time, this led to a lot of denials by V99 and Gerwyn and others of the group of those who just KNOW it takes only a brainfogged non-scientist, or some sociology lecturer, to KNOW what is true about ME/CFS:
The first major difficulty with this is is that the same slide - as meanwhile, in spite of V99 et al's many denials, seems accepted by anyone halfway sane or better - cannot support two different interpretations, "proving" ocularly in September 2009 to the reviewers of Science that there is XMRV in patients, and "proving" ocularly in September 2011 to a mostly lay audience in Canada that other gammaretroviruses could be found in ME/CFS-patients' blood.
Of course, for dr. Mikovits this was a way of trying to cope with the quite epic fail of her group in the BWG-study, summarized here
in which it was shown, with her and Ruscetti's signatures next to 23 others, that she could not distinguish blood with XMRV from blood without XMRV beyond chance level, if the samples were blinded: "Really" - her story runs - "there is no XMRV in the blood of ME/CFS-patients, for this indeed is a lab contaminination, as the BWG showed, but there is something there: Look at my pictures!" (I do not quote, but sketch dr. Mikovits argument.)
But then the same slide cannot bear two conflicting interpretations, and in fact there is a logically more simple explanation than that dr. Mikovits and her group had found evidence of not "XMRV" but of "HGRV" in 2009:
Dr. Mikovits, or someone else in her group, had added 5-azacytidine, and not to prod HGRV to appear, as was claimed in 2011, but to prod the referees of Science into a conviction - by ocular "proof" - that dr. Mikovits and her group had found "XMRV", in 2009.
As it happens, this was clearly explained on Phoenix Rising on October 6:
to which I returned in my long sum-up of October 8 of exactly two years of hunting for the snark, that turned out to be a bogus:
The second major difficulty, logically speaking, is that dr. Mikovits's move - "no, it actually isn't XMRV: it's HGRV!" - is a typical fallacy known as ad hoc or as the No True Scotsman fallacy when faced with a counterexample.
The Scotsman got involved thus: If someone has a theory that all Scotsmen are drunks, and someone names a Scot who isn't, that person gets fallaciously rebutted that it cannot be a true Scotsman, then, simply because all Scotsmen - the true ones - are drunks. Similarly, dr. Mikovits's line of reasoning was that the Lombardi et al paper does not prove that XMRV can be found in the blood of ME/CFS-patients, for this is not a proper Scot: The true Scot she and her group found was HGRV.
The third major difficulty with the whole fallacious line of reasoning is that in any case the work done by the BWG shows that it is most improbable that dr. Mikovits can distinguish either in the blood of patients: The first not, because it is a lab-contaminant, as she meanwhile agrees; the second not, because she never showed she could, and the whole idea of HGRV is an ad hoc construction without any proven reality. (*)
I turn again to Jon Cohen's article:
The first statement contradicted tales from V99 and/or Gerwyn, who have insisted for a most irrationally long time that the gels Abbie Smith did her magic trick with were not identical; and then that the same gels must have been stolen if identical (presumably because meanwhile dr. Mikovits stood accused of having stolen things, and True Believers' minds work this way), which at least V99 seems to believe to this day.
The second statement is very strange, for it suggests that dr. Peterson deserves to be misled and lied to: Why could he not be simply informed, also in 2009, of the findings, and asked not to tell the patients? Is it not more likely that he simply knows too much about ME/CFS to be taken in if supplied with all relevant information? And indeed, dr. Peterson has since 2010 disbelieved the XMRV-story, while dr. Mikovits may have known enough of her own colleague at WPI to have known he probably would disbelieve her. Which explains also why he was not informed in 2009, originally, and for a long time.
As to the third statement, dr. Ruscetti is probably right that dr. Mikovits made a mistake - but then there is this problem, for which I return to Jon Cohen's text:
The last part is again the ad hoc fallacy considered above - which logically implies the two in fact agree that the 2009 paper was mistaken: It did not establish evidence that XMRV was correlated to ME/CFS. (For it undubitably proved the presence of a true Scotsman, pardon, HGRV, they want it to be believed, ad hoc.)
The first part seems false: It seems most retrovirologists are agreed that if Science's reviewers would have known that Lombardi et al had used 5-azacytidine, then they would not have accepted the paper, which in turn would not have started quite a few retrovirologist on a hunt for the XMRV-snark, while they should have looked for a HGRV-bogus, or some kind of fraud, possibly well intended.
Indeed, the last
possibility seems one of the two most likely hypothetical explanations:
The other most likely hypothetical explanation is a bit more cynical:
Hypothesis 1: Some of the authors of Lombardi et all decided to add a primer to a test which would make it appear they had found XMRV - after which, they hoped, in this hypothetical explanation, they could keep the story going for quite a while, and cash in on XMRV-related tests and patents, meanwhile maintaining that real science is difficult and uncertain, while they themselves meant extra-ordinarily well, and patients should support and believe them.
I admit to being a bad, elderly and cynical person, who has read too much history to believe in a majority of intelligent and honest rational men and women, which may be the reason that I incline to the last explanation, that also has the merits of being logically simple while explaining much. ("You have been had! LOL!") (**)
Either hypothetical explanation is a LOT more credible - it seems to me - than the one dr. Mikovits, V99, Gerwyn, Bob and Angela tout:
For that's rather a bit too much like Harold Camping's repeated warnings of the coming of the apocalyps, including his (ad hoc, post hoc) original calculating mistake. See also
[- Breaking News:
Lo et al paper retracted by author]
As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):
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.
See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.
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