The Tyranny of Pseudoscience

tyranny of pseudoscience

Reece Diagram of Polar Opposites in Philosophy of Science. Science as a Way of Knowing (Hypothetical-Deductivism) resides squarely on the left. Even now, those perpetuating certain myths about vaccine safety struggle to maintain a coherence of anti-realism and this diagram lays bare the contrast between Science (on the left) and Pseudoscience (on the right). The relativistic, anti-methodological, undeterministic activities on the right may look like science, because they may occasionally use of the same tools and meta-tools of Science (the Hallmarks of Science), but they are devoid of empirical content and, in fact, only exist in the consequences on individuals of pre-supposed health care policies confirmed by positivistic knowledge claims from apparently negative results.

THERE WAS A TIME when people doing science thought about the consequences of how they did science. What science was truly mattered in an existentialist manner, because, as an exercise contributing to our collective understanding of reality and truths about our world, our universe, and ourselves, if how we did science that tended toward less than increasing approximation of truth, not only was the time spent doing a false version of science (pseudoscience) futile in that time spent: the fruits of the labor would be spoiled beyond utility, what good is a rotten crop of fruit?

It can be difficult enough for an individual to maintain a productive and safe train of thought in a world where the modern trappings of success are often and easily mistaken for bona fide success. Large houses, yachts, fancy cars, the good life all appear on the surface to reflect measures of success. And therefore rewards of riches should go to those in biomedicine who have made actual progress via gainful occupation. In medicine, one would hope such gains were mostly contributions toward the reduction of human pain and suffering. I do not know and cannot speak for others, but wealth alone does not impress me. What may impresses me more is HOW one accumulates wealth.

When we look a the have’s and have-not’s in biomedicine, a pattern is clear. Easily replicated treatments, tests and procedures that can be turned into high-volume billable services make health care practitioners wealthy.  To have a moment to reflect on whether the most profitable activities also have the best possible outcome for the majority of patients is a large demand in the fast-paced world of accountants and administrators, some of whom may count primarily dollars. To have seven years to reflect and contemplate on whether we are doing biomedical science right in the first place, as I had in my last position as Scientific Director at the University of Pittsburgh, well, that was nirvana. In such a position, it was tempting to make manifest my ideas on analysis simply via my authority. But instead, I opted for the very Realist position of Intelligent Methods Optimization, in which each and every proposal method was scrutinized and tested considering traits worth measuring for the analysis of high-dimensional data: reproducibility, bias, and generalizability. It was fun, and important: we added value to over one-hundred studies.

With a shift toward translational medicine in the 2000’s, a critical path change took place in biomedical research in which whether what we had learned might be clinically useful took a 1,000-fold precedent over basic research . Surely, after the massive investment, we should be able to reap the profits of 20 years of molecular research in medicine. And yes, to some degree, in many dimensions of biomedicine, we have.

But there was a concomitant de-evolution of Science in biomedicine that has been going on in certain key areas about which I have decided to ring the alarm bell about until it is heard by every man, woman and child in America.

As a life-long student of the philosophy of science, my naive realism about science was shattered during a bout of research on the issue of vaccines, an exercise which I had thought would be a slam-dunk cakewalk for my book “Cures vs. Profits”. However, after that experience, and now, after reading over 3,000 studies on autism, I must report:

Science for the basis of public health policy has been hijacked.

Some of my newer vaccine-skeptical friends and colleagues have described my experience as “falling down a rabbit hole”, and allusion to which I take umbrage, because of my love affair with Science, I have resisted, and fought against acceptance, until my contorted rationalizations fell away into disdain under the weight of their ad-hocness.

I want to take this opportunity to tell those friends: you are wrong about the rabbit hole. There is no such hole to fall into, because the analogy conflates the activities conducted in the name of pushing the vaccine agenda with Science. They do not qualify as Science.

tyranny of pseudoscience

How Did We Get Here?

Kuhn’s incomplete model of science focused on the change in accepted “facts” due to paradigm shifts. In the most common and banal terms, according to Kuhn the loudest and most aggressive voice in a room of scientists could win the day in any scientific debate by any means necessary. Kuhn’s paradigm shifts, however, are part of Popper’s more complete model, in which how one conducts oneself, in words and deeds, has an strong influence on whether the logic of their influence could ever be made sound.  For Popper, and for Science (from 1945-2000), a specific formula applied to any scientific inference. It went something like this:

Given background information B, pose hypothesis H. Create the most critical test of H you can think of (T).

If the Evidence (E) provided by T does not falsify H in the light of B, reject H.

If Evidence (E) provided by T fails to falsify H in the light of B, H is corroborated.

Importantly, the degree to which E fails to falsify H in light of B is a measure S (Surprise), which provides a metric of the degree of corroboration.

Kuhn’s paradigm balliwick exists within Popper’s paradigm the moment one scientist shares a finding with another, through presentations at meetings, as information in grant proposals, and via peer review.

Popper eschewed the consideration of the role of the subjective self. I once wrote an extension of Popper’s theory on how the subjective self clearly fits within the realm of Popper’s model during meetings and peer review by showing that in any sample of any population of scientists, each one provides a slightly different flavor of background knowledge, and thus B upon peer review and publication, becomes

B = {B1, B2, B3…BN}

I made the assessment that for any scientific endeavor, the vector B (which can be expanded in any direction into an M-dimensional matrix of categories) provides a greater reservoir of background information. This leads to the prediction that the larger the committee (B), the more likely it would be that E would be properly interpreted by someone who had the correct portion of B to see the significance E, the outcome of T, given B (i.e, (H|((T,E)|Bi)) vs. (H|((T,E)|B)). This is why peer review is valuable, why an external review board can be so useful: they prevent institutional myopia and bias.

I sent the paper to a journal of Philosophy, whose editor returned in unreviewed with the complaint that they do not use Popper’s calculus anymore. I did not pursue publication of the manuscript further, and I must say I regret it. Instead, I set out to systematize via computer algorithms the process of scientific inference to compare all of the properties of the subjective tests in T = {T1,T2,T3…Tx} because as the science of genomics expanded, individuals involved in devising T and the tests themselves had considerable variation as each has their own subjective B, some of which could be proven helpful to make (H|((T,E)|B)) a more immediate approximation of Truth, and some of which could be devastating to any relationship between Truth and (H|((T,E)|B)).

The Piracy and Rape of Science

Each individual who decides to sully Science in the name of their own agenda may illegitimately coapt the processes of hypothetico-deductivism via perversion of any of these elements. They may willfully and subjectively misrepresent B, for example, by simply ignoring other individuals’ works and findings, such at the CDC study by Markovitz et al., 2016)  that did not cite the already available study of Guo et al., (2015) showing Type Replacement of HPV after HPV vaccination (see more information here).

They may corrupt the objective process by using many different tests T without attendant consideration of the consequences of exploring an entire space of possible inferences (H|((T,E)|B)), choosing whichever one fits their desired outcome, and failing to publish any reference to the rest of the inference space (kitchen-sink statistics and cherry-picking).  The example of this perversion of Science is the Madsen study, for which an email circulated entitled “It” (meaning the association between vaccination and autism) “Just Won’t Go Away”.

They may falsify data (creating false E), and in so doing, render either a false level of corroboration, or in the case of vaccines and autism, omit E, denying their colleagues the S (surprise) that accompanies a truly unlikely outcome.

In the case of Frank DeStefano, we saw a perversion of the consideration of (H|((T,E)|B)) in the omission of African American and idiopathic autism results when he told an American  reporter that those results were not included because they thought the results were improbable. That is, they omitted two instance of (H|((T,E)|B)) altogether.

In that statement, DeStefano revealed a new type of perversion of science – a unique class in which a results association with significant p-value are rejected because they are low enough to be considered significant.

Other tactics exist, as well, such as modification the outcome of any truly objective T (making T*) to fit the pre-determined outcome of  (H|((T,E)|B)).

Any modification of T, E, or B can be denoted as T*, E*, and B*, respectively.

Science is Nobody’s Whore

It is easy to fall into the trap of confusing Pseudoscience with Science, as was evidenced by  level of anger during a presentation I gave in 2015 on how the CDC and Pharma had, in the case of vaccine safety research “made a whore of Science”.

A more correct statement is that the CDC has tried to make a whore of science.

No, the studies that an increasing number of scientists are becoming aware of, conducted by the CDC and their affiliates, changes our collective B: we know which studies have been fudged, faked, altered, and overcooked – and as counterfeit version of objective inference, they are not Science. They are Pseudoscience.

Thus, the CDC has not succeeded making Science a whore to their ends with Pharma for a one-size-fits-all vaccination paradigm.  They simply hired a substitute and have degraded themselves in the process.

Science remains the virtuous, faithful but jealous lover she always was. The charlatans of science – as I call them, Shamwizards, merely hired a whore named Pseudoscience, and made her up to look like Science, and they have been dancing with her since the late 1970’s, parading her around like Science. And now we see her for the Imposter she is.

Vaccine Pseudoscience (VP) is not the first prostitute the CDC has solicited. In fact, the “scientists” at the CDC who hired VP are the same people who told you that Agent Orange did not harm our troops.

The Cost of Being Untrue

The cost of these dalliances to society are staggering. Autism is now 1 in 48, or more (over 2%); one in five Americans have an Autoimmune disorder. The toll in terms of accelerating neurodegeneration in the rest of society is as yet not known. But the cost to the participants’ psyche – their scientific soul, if you will, must be staggering.

Simpsonwood 2000

“Dr. Johnson: Thank you. We’ll go to question two and go back in a reverse direction. The question is_ if you think the observations on some specific neurologic developmental Scientific Review of Vaccine Safety Datalink Information 198 June, 2000 disorders constitute a signal, how strong or weak do you consider the signal to be at this time, i.e. how much does the evidence support a causal relationship with Thimerosal containing vaccines?

I assumed this a number one. In my opinion the evidence today is insufficient to determine whether or not Thimerosal containing vaccines caused the neurological sequelae in question.

The diagnoses, even in the hands of experts, and the number of diagnoses are too easily influenced by variations in parental and physician sensitivity and concern, utilization of health care of similar merits.

The underlying biologic, toxicologic and pharmacologic data are too weak to offer guidance one way or the other. That is the biologic plausibility component of this, in my opinion, is too badly defined.
•Now on the other hand, the data suggests that there is an association between mercury and the endpoints, ADHD, a well known disability, and speech delay as entered into the database.

Then here comes an opinion, well it is all is opinion, but it expresses a flavor, so I think it relates to what Dr. Bemier is trying to derive here. This association leads me to favor (,_._) (sic) a recommendation that infants up to two years old not be immunized with Thimerosal containing vaccines if suitable alternative preparations are available. I do not believe the diagnoses justifies compensation in the Vaccine Compensation Program at this point.

I deal with causality, it seems pretty clear to me that the data are not sufficient one way or the other. My gut feeling? It worries me enough. Forgive this personal Scientific Review of Vaccine Safety Datalink Information 199 June, 2000 comment, but I got called out at eight o’clock for an  emergency call and my daughter-in-law delivered a son by C-section. Our first male in the line of the next generation, and I do not want that grandson to get a Thimerosal containing vaccine until we know better what is going on.

It will probably take a long time. In the meantime, and I know there are probably implications for this internationally, but in the meanwhile I think I want that grandson to only be given Thimerosal-free vaccines.”

Source: http://thinktwice.com/simpsonwood.pdf

Why does this statement impeach CDC’s scientific souls?

Because for the next two days, the conference attendees conspired to find ways to keep the findings of association of vaccines and ADHD and speech delay, and possible findings of vaccines and Autism from the public.  In the ensuing decade, CDC research was conducted to disprove any causal association with vaccines and autism. That is, they conducted the inferences

(H|((T*,E*)|B*))

instead of

(H|((T,E)|B))

One of these version of Science is a lady whose reputation has been sullied by an imposter, and I, for one, will stand up for her reputation at every possible opportunity, in any venue, in any forum.

science

Bronze Statue of Science, Located on the North Parapet of Holborn Viaduct, London.
Postscript: I am not alone is standing up for Science.  See “Whistleblower” and “Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak” for examples of other individuals willing to call out the imposter.

 

Cures_JLW_Cover_Art_front

New Books by Dr. Lyons-Weiler Released 2016 –

Cures vs. Profits: Successes in Translational Research (World Scientific (323 pages).

Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism (Skyhorse Publishing)

causes

2 thoughts on “The Tyranny of Pseudoscience

  1. Pseudoscience, a term co-opted by those who disseminate it to summarily discount the realists. I like this philosophical interpretation of the methodology used by pseudoscience practitioners to support their own self-interests and those who lure them. The general consumer is often easier to dupe through the flood of pseudo-scientific websites, whose SEO floods the first page of search results. Whether it be WebMD, sciencebasedmedicine.com, quackwatch.com and so many others of nefarious origin using ‘sophisticated’ and extensive anti-realist arguments to obfuscate and discredit any sprouts of realist truth. I would love to see a comprehensive analysis of these many pseudo-sites, not to mention the hundreds of health causes (.org’s) co-opted and corrupted by forces of corporate interest. AutismSpeaks, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and so so many more that dupe people into emptying their pockets with hope of a ‘cure’, which paradoxically may be the last thing they would want. I’m certain if a cure dropped from the sky, it would be summarily dismissed once again… as pseudoscience.

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