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EpiWonk shoots and scores: Kirby admits his error

I could resist a brief mention of this. Remember yesterday’s post, when I discussed how EpiWonk had deconstructed and demolished David Kirby’s latest mangling of epidemiology and willful misreading of government reports? Apparently it had an effect. It would appear that Mr. Kirby may actually have read it and taken it to heart. (Either that, or his capable of shame after all.) How do I know? He’s made major modifications of his original post and reposted them.

Out with the old (including the old title): CDC: Vaccine Study Design “Uninformative and Potentially Misleading”

In with the new (including a new title): CDC: Vaccine Study Used Flawed Methods.

The old post still exists at the link above and, oddly enough, is still accepting comments but is no longer linked to from Kirby’s main page.

Mr. Kirby posted his new version at 5:26 PM yesterday. I can’t help but note that I tried to post a link to EpiWonk’s study multiple times yesterday morning in the comments of his original post but not a single time was my comment approved. Apparently Orac has been banned from commenting on Mr. Kirby’s post, which once again shows that Kirby talks a good game about wanting a “real debate” but the actions on his Huffington Post pieces belie that claim. (I tried commenting briefly this morning as an experiment; we’ll see if it is allowed.) So does the fact that he virtually never answers criticism leveled at his HuffPo posts in the comments.

The charitable interpretation of Mr. Kirby’s quick switcheroo is that he made a mistake and is fast to issue a correction. Hey, it happens. We all do it. I’ve made some mistakes on this blog about which I’ve been embarrassed later. Honesty is the best policy in just admitting it and taking the heat. The less charitable interpretation is that Kirby was caught red-handed twisting a document to say something that it did not, in fact, say, turning it into a massive straw man and then attacking that straw man. You can judge for yourself. Given Mr. Kirby’s history, I tend towards the latter interpretation and also because unfortunately his shiny, new “corrected” piece is “even more confused and erroneous than the first one,” as EpiWonk so ably demonstrates). Still, trying to a mistake, even if he botches the execution, is definite progress for Mr. Kirby, which means he may not be beyond all hope. At least he is still capable of shame, and that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing Kirby posted late on a Friday afternoon and posted his “fixed” version on Saturday, though. Fewer people will see his retraction.

Actually, I’d like some of whatever EpiWonk has, as, I’m sure, would a lot of other bloggers. We’ve been calling Mr. Kirby on the carpet for three years now over his numerous mistakes in science, epidemiology, and general reasoning when it comes to his handwaving defense of the myth that mercury in vaccines was the cause of the “autism epidemic” (which has over the last year and a half dwindled to a pathetic argumentum ad ignorantiam that “we just don’t know“). Unfortunately, I, at least, have yet to have an acknowledgment of any kind from Mr. Kirby or a direct response to any of my criticisms. As I said, Kirby talks a good game when it comes to boldly boasting that he wants his harshest critics to bring him “tough questions,” but apparently he only wants this at one of his talks, where the room will be packed with his supporters and he can get away with the vaccine version of the Gish gallop without being pinned down. Now if we could only get Mr. Kirby to stop moving the goalposts regarding how long we have to wait after the removal of thimerosal from vaccines for a major drop in new cases of autism before we can conclude that thimerosal in vaccines does not cause autism.

A guy can dream, can’t he?

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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