When it comes to blogging, sometime’s it’s feast or famine. Some days there are more topics and stories that I’d like to blog about than I could ever get to, given that I generally only do one post per weekday, while other days I seriously think about skipping a day because there’s just nothing out there that interests me. This is one of the former kinds of days.
Seriously, there was an embarrassment of riches last night, so much so that I had a hard time making up my mind what story to write about. The one that I ultimately chose only just edged out the second place choice, and then only at the last minute and then only because it is a followup to a post I did about about a month ago. I might well get to the runner up tomorrow, but for now it’s time to revisit a story I’ve done a lot of blogging about because it’s come up again.
How many of you remember Ben Swann? Well, he’s back.
Regular readers might remember that Swann is the clueless, conspiracy-minded “investigative reporter” who anchors the evening news for WGCL-CBS46 in Atlanta. The location is important, because it’ means he’s the local news anchor for a major CBS affiliate who did a highly credulous story about the the “#CDCtruth” rally in October. As you recall, that rally involved the Nation of Islam, Barbara Loe Fisher of the antivaccine group the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) that she founded, and a whole gaggle of other antivaccine activists, the most prominent of whom was our old pal Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who’s risen, Phoenix-like, since his disappearance from the antivaccine movement several years ago, to write a fear-mongering book about mercury in vaccines and, of course, to headline the #CDCTruth rally in Atlanta in October. Basically, this tag team of pseudoscience was the culmination of a partnership between antivaccine activists with Minister Tony Muhammad of the Nation of Islam (NOI) that began when antivaccinationists used the “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy to persuade high ranking members of the NOI that vaccines can cause cause autism in African-American boys. Using that misinformation, they were able to persuade the NOI to join in the fight against SB 277, the new law in California that will eliminate nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates beginning in 2016.
The whole “CDC whistleblower” saga is a long and complicated story that began in August 2014 and has progressed and metastasized since then to become a major focus of many antivaccine activists and groups. The long version of the tale can be found here and here. As is my wont, before I tell you what Swann’s up to now, I’ll provide a CliffsNotes version for the casual reader and newbie because it’s necessary to know a bit about who the “CDC whistleblower” is, what he claims, and what all this has to do with Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), which is where Swann comes in. Regular readers who are familiar with the story might want to skip ahead. If you don’t know the story, please read the next couple of paragraphs.
The “CDC whistleblower,” as you might recall, is a psychologist who works for the CDC and was involved in planning and carrying out some pivotal studies that failed to find a correlation between vaccination and autism, including a 2004 study whose lead author was Frank DeStefano (henceforth referred to as DeStefano et al). Beginning in November 2013, for reasons known only to himself, Thompson somehow became chummy with Brian Hooker, someone whom I like to refer to as a biochemical engineer turned incompetent antivaccine epidemiologist because that’s exactly what he is. Not realizing that his conversations were being recorded, Thompson spoke to Hooker in several telephone calls in which, apparently racked with guilt over his role in DeStefano et al examining MMR vaccine uptake as a risk factor for autism, he unburdened himself, kvetched about his CDC colleagues, and basically accused the CDC of covering up a finding that MMR vaccination correlated with autism in African American boys. Even if one were to take that finding at face value, it actually was a study that showed that Andrew Wakefield was basically wrong in that no such correlation was found in Caucasians, male or female, African American girls, or any other racial group. That right away should have suggested to Thompson that it’s a spurious finding due to small numbers in the subgroup. It was, of course, a finding that disappeared when proper statistical correction was made for confounders.
As a result of these conversations and the data supplied to him by Thompson, Brian Hooker did an epically incompetent “reanalysis” of DeStefano et al. What this reanalysis claimed to find was that DeStefano et al had done some statistical prestidigitation to eliminate a statistically significant difference in African American males correlating with age of MMR vaccination. Of course, as I discussed at the time (as did many others), Hooker, in his love of “simplicity,” had neglected to control for important confounders and imputed way too much significance to a spurious correlation that disappeared when proper correction for confounders was made. As I’ve put it many times, simplicity in statistical analyses of epidemiological data is not a virtue. In any case, so incredibly incompetent was Hooker’s analysis that the journal actually retracted the paper. Because Thompson’s allegations appeared to confirm the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement (that the CDC knew vaccines cause autism but were hiding it from the public), the antivaccine movement has been beating this dead horse of a scandal for over 15 months now.
Nere’s where Rep. Bill Posey comes in. Back in July, the week before the House of Representatives went on recess, Rep. Posey gave a five minute speech on the House floor in which he claimed that Thompson had told him that his co-investigators on DeStefano et al had destroyed primary evidence for the study, claiming that the “four co-authors all met and brought a big garbage can into the meeting room and reviewed and went through all the hard copy documents that we had thought we should discard and put them in a huge garbage can.” Thompson, as you might recall, stated that he had saved a copy of these documents, and Rep. Posey told the House that he had them and demanded an investigation. Stories have appeared in the antivaccine crankosphere that Rep. Posey had 100,000 pages of documents.
Nothing much has happened since then, other than the tiny and ineffectual “#CDCtruth” rally in October. Certainly, Congress has not investigated the CDC whistleblower charges. So guess what happened? The antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism is more than happy to tell the tale:
Ben Swann began reporting on the problems in the vaccine program two years ago, and today on Age of Autism he discloses that Congressman Bill Posey has released to him the CDC documents turned over to Congress by Dr. William Thompson concerning the cover up of the links between the MMR and autism. Swann discusses Vaccine safety, vaccine choice, potential corruption at CDC and his plans for the #CDCwhistleblower documents in a video interview with Age of Autism Media Editor, Anne Dachel.
Oh, goody. Judging from his previous brain dead coverage of the #CDCtruth rally, we’re in for some entertaining times here on the skeptic side. For one thing, this move on Posey’s part, if he really has given Swann all of the CDC whistleblower documents, strikes me as sheer desperation. He obviously wasn’t getting any traction in his attempts to get a Congressional committee to investigate Thompson’s allegations; so he decided to dump the documents into the hands of a sympathetic journalist, who then gave an interview to the Internet’s premier antivaccine website and blog:
Here we learn where Swann got interested in the topic of vaccines:
It was in 2014*, I was in Minneapolis for an event that I was asked to speak at. It was an event about liberty, and while I was there, I had a chance to meet really two people whose names I did not know: Jennifer Larson and Mark Blaxill. These were two people who came to this event that was in part sponsored by the Canary Party. And I didn’t know what the Canary Party was either by the way, and while we were there, I had a chance to talk with them for a few minutes. They started explaining to me some of the issues with vaccines and concerns about vaccines. (*Correction: 2013)
And then they were beginning to explain about the vaccine schedule, how much it’s increased over the past thirty years vs the number of cases that actually make it into vaccine court. It was really interesting. And so we decided to create a Truth in Media episode with Jennifer and Mark, and to interview Mark about this because the issue of vaccine court was so interesting to me.
Here is the video:
Contained in that video is ten minutes worth of seriously burning stupid. It hits many of the common antivaccine tropes, including the claim that the government has “quietly awarded” families of autistic children damages for vaccine injury. Never mind that the compensation was not for autism and the study used to claim to show this was unethical and poorly designed. Meanwhile, as I listened to Swann’s description of the Vaccine Court and its creation in 1986, I couldn’t help but hear Rob Schneider’s voice, because Swann was clearly cribbing the same talking points that Schneider does, full of the same misinformation and deceptive talking points. Of course, that’s not surprising, given that Swann relies on Mark Blaxill of the antivaccine Canary Party for his information. Swann also engages in—shall we say?—a bit of revisionist history about the Autism Omnibus hearing.
No wonder Swann thinks like this. Get a load of an analogy he makes in his interview:
Because there is this assumption that if you cover a certain subject you’re obviously taking a position on it, you’re taking a side on it. And as a journalist, that should never be true. No matter what issue you cover as a journalist, it should not be based on your own preference or your own opinion.
“As a lot of journalists would look at this story, …they’re told, ‘Well listen, those people are crazy. There’s all these anti-vaxxers out there. And if you do anything that indicates that you’re among them, or you’re one of them, it discredits you.’
“Now what’s completely nonsensical about that is, if we cover terrorism, if we cover ISIS, that doesn’t make us a part of ISIS. If we say, ‘Hey, let’s take a look at how ISIS formed in the first place,’ that doesn’t make you a terrorist or a suicide bomber. And yet if you say, ‘Let’s take a look at what these people are talking about when it comes to vaccination,’ they’ll say, ‘Oh wait, that makes you anti-vax.’ It’s a very bizarre thing.
No, it’s not bizarre at all. Swann’s analogy is ridiculous and deceptive. A better analogy would be if a reporter were to report on ISIS and credulously repeat its propaganda as news and as true. Any reporter that did that would rapidly become viewed as either sympathetic to ISIS or a dupe of ISIS, in just the same way that reporters like Ben Swann and Sharyl Attkisson are quite correctly viewed as either sympathetic to antivaccinationists or their dupes. Given the enthusiasm with which Swann regurgitates antivaccine talking points, I don’t think he’s a dupe. I think he’s become sympathetic to antivaccine views. Sure, it’s possible that he’s just so clueless about science that he thinks he’s really discovered an important story, but his conspiracy mongering about big pharma tends to lead me back to thinking he’s been converted.
He’s also proud of his previous coverage, which he really should not be. He gushes about how many people called him and sent him supportive e-mails and bragged about how “this is by far the largest news organization that’s ever covered this issue, and done it in a very public way.” Of course, given that CBS 46 is only a CBS affiliate, it should tell Swann something that it’s the biggest media outlet that’s covered the story.
He then attacks a straw man:
“One of the claims was that this whole thing was made up.
“As a journalist, that bothers me. It bothers me because, candidly, I haven’t seen the documents either. Maybe they’re right, maybe they don’t exist.
“So the next step for me was to contact Congressman Posey and say I would like to have the documents. Please release to me all those documents. And I’ll let your listeners know that Congressman Posey has complied with that request for the documents.
“So I now have copies of all of the information that Dr. Thompson handed over to Congress. We’re going through that information right now. We’re studying it and we’ll be releasing that information at some point, to the public.
“Again, because it’s not my information–it doesn’t belong to me. It is my job, I believe, as a journalist, to share that information. I want to do it in a responsible way. But it will be shared with the public because I believe they have a right to know.
“And again, the CDC should have done this themselves a long time ago. They should have come clean with it. They didn’t. Dr. Thompson could have come clean on his own, but he didn’t. He’s gone through the channels, based on what his attorneys have told him.
“But as a journalist, I have the ability to share that information. That’s one of the reasons that we’ve established Truth in Media Project and TruthInMedia.com so that truth can reach the public.
“So stayed tuned for that because very soon…you’re going to have access to those documents yourselves.”
Here’s the problem. First, no one say said that the “whole thing was made up.” Rather, what we have argued is that the case is almost certainly a major misunderstanding or misinterpretation of what actually happened. Certainly, its key premise, that DeStefano et al showed that African American boys who receive the MMR earlier are at a much higher risk of autism than those who don’t and that the CDC covered it up, is not supported by evidence and rests on the misinterpretation of the DeStefano et al dataset. More importantly, interpreting documents like the ones allegedly provided by William Thompson is not a simple matter. You need to know the science; you need to know a bit about how the CDC works; you need to know a bit of statistics.
Maybe that’s why it looks as though Swann won’t be reporting on these documents for CBS 46 but rather for his own YouTube channel. Indeed, he even uses the opportunity of the interview to pimp his IndieGoGo campaign Global Activist, an Internet series. There’s also another issue. Even if you take Thompson at his word and these are documents “destroyed” by the CDC, how can Swann even be sure that theyse are the real documents? How can we verify the chain of custody? Inquiring minds want to know!
Antivaccinationists have been flogging the CDC whistleblower manufactroversy for well over a year now. All they’ve managed to accomplish thus far are to ally themselves with the Nation of Islam, which has of late become so tightly associated with the Church of Scientology that it might as well be a wholly owned subsidiary, and to stage a small protest at the CDC and in Atlanta. Even if Swann does release all these documents, I highly doubt that he’ll manage to to what antivaccinationists and Twitter were unable to do: Make it into a real story that hits the national news in a big way and triggers a major investigation of the CDC. After all, if a Congressman couldn’t get that to happen after many months, either he wasn’t trying very hard (which is quite possible) or there’s just no there there.
I guess we’ll see. My prediction? We’ll see the same sort of thing we’ve seen with every prior announcement about the “CDC whistleblower”: A lot of heat and buildup from the antivaccine movement and then nothing damning (or even that interesting) when the documents are finally released, even the cherry-picked examples like the ones that have been released before. Whatever happens, my guess is that Rep. Posey got tired of being the point man for the antivaccine lunatic fringe. Giving whatever documents he got from Thompson to Swann lets him wash his hands of the whole affair while appearing to be a hero to
his donors the antivaccine movement.
The hot potato has been passed to Ben Swann. I predict that it will be amusing to see what he does with it.
125 replies on “Ben Swann returns, and this time he’s got the CDC whistleblower documents”
So, the US Government can’t keep some of its most secret and important security documents offline (i.e wikileaks), but somehow the anti-vaxers haven’t released a single document from Thompson’s “stash” in over a year?
Yeah, all of this sounds incredibly fishy, even at face value…..yet another example of anti-vax illogic.
Thompson is not a very adept whistle blower. Swann’s dancing adds nothing.
The data has already been scrutinized and the results are in. Wakefield and Hooker have already had these documents for over a year. You will be seeing Wakefield front and center soon enough for a vindication jig. Maybe Jenny will join in. They are being too kind with revealing this information. I would unleash it in all its damning glory without discretion to public health implications. It is the truth after all. I can hear them now, We should have listened to Wakefield, we have to change the timing, single vaccines, if only we did this over a decade ago.
“Maybe that’s why it looks as though Swann won’t be reporting on these documents for CBS 46 but rather for his own YouTube channel.”
I think we have just located the line which marks the boundary of ‘sh!t too crazy for even CBS46* to put on the air.’ Maybe the complaints to the management did a little good.
*Home of the 1% market share
Amusingly, CBS46 used to have the callsign WANX-TV. 🙂
There’s a load more info at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WGCL-TV
It’s interesting that Posey claimed he couldn’t release the documents when others inquired about them, but suddenly he’s able to release them to a conspiracy-minded hack?
Selective document leak commencing in 3…..2…..1
Stupid stories you guys. Stupid stories.
Wasn’t on time delivery of MMR found to be protective for Afro-American boys? I thought the increased odds ratio for autism appeared for boys who received the vaccine late, but not too late, just before an early intervention cutoff. Even Hooker, hard as he might try, could not cook up a correlation between early receipt of MMR and autism.
I hope Orac won’t mind, but just a reminder that I have a FAQ-style guide for parents and the media on the whole CDC Whistleblower nonsense. Apparently, Swann hasn’t read it.
We should start a pool for when Swann is going to release the documents. Smart money is on never.
Yes. Hooker’s study showed that on-time MMR vaccination (i.e., at 12-15 months) had zero increased risk of being associated with an autism diagnosis. Even slightly late vaccination (18-24 months) had no association. It was only in the (very tiny) 24-36 month group that he found a statistical correlation, and that because, as Orac notes, he didn’t account for confounding variables.
James Lind, don’t you realize that is obviously because of bad study design on the part of the DeStefano et al, just like the fact they failed to show the undoubtedly existing link between the evil vaccine and every other group investigated. Hooker could only unearth so much truth from such flawed data.
Probably have to add the /sarcasm tag just in case some anti-vax troll wanders in.
Rep.”I got the document, looks like it’s all the original data”
Rep’s chief of staff “Original medical documents? Let me check with legal”
CoS “This stuff is all covered by Hipaa, no way you can use it”
Rep “But it’s juicy stuff, lets find a journalist to release it”
CoS “No way any station or editor lets that go out either”
Rep “Tell him it’s getting suppressed by higher powers and to put it on you tube”
Now that would be interesting. Wonder if the Office for Civil Rights would be interested in taking a look at the documents that have been released to ensure that no covered PHI has been disclosed.
Maybe that’s what they’re relying on, so that they can scream “cover-up! We’re being repressed! We can’t show you any of this! But take our word for it, it’s dynamite!”, when they realise there’s nothing in there.
@ Rebecca Fisher
The scammers in the lot, yes. But don”t overlook that a number of the involved people may actually genuinely believe it.
The concept of secrecy around medical information is very poorly understood by most people, especially those who like to complain and/or have a narcissist tendency.
They don’t see why they should keep quiet about their medical issues, so why would other people object? After all, they are just revealing that these poor people have been harmed by some nefarious entity. They should be glad to have a champion. It’s a self-sustaining circle: because they are right, they can not do any wrong.
It’s the old “if you are innocent, you have nothing to fear”.
@ Rebecca Fisher:
Wouldn’t you know it but today Ann Dachel, reviewing which television comedians she likes and dislikes based upon inferred vaccine beliefs, mentions Kennedy’s tale of how his ‘Deadly Immunity’ spot was at first welcomed by show producers but was then later cancelled because “higher ups” disapproved. Of course, his fans complained so it was aired but highly cut.
It’s always the “higher ups”, isn’t it?
OT but hey, it’s JP:
Come out, come out** wherever you are and talk to us beyond monosyllable, terse inter-spurts.
** I know you’re already *OUT* but you know what I mean
I submitted Swann’s original reporting on CBS 46 to a writer for an online news site who has done several critical articles on the anti-vaxxer movement. He ended up not writing an article, but he did give me a little insight into how an Alex Jones fanboy like Swann could have been hired by a major-market network affiliate:
@Denice Walter #18: How about Dachel treating Jon Stewart’s comments in the Kennedy as if they weren’t ten years old and might not have any bearing on his current opinions on the issue?
@ Sebastian L. Jackson:
I know. A commenter even calls her on it.
Is anyone aware of some legal reason why Posey/Hooker couldn’t release the documents but this reporter can? I mean they have to have been giving the anti-vaccine loons some kind of explanation as to why they’ve been holding on to these alleged “thousands of pages” of documents without releasing them right?
Isn’t this just free press for the recent Whistleblower book?
I second Denice’s comment to you.
Wishing you all the best.
This made my antenna twitch. It’s one thing for a journalist like Swann to be attending an event like this in his journalist capacity. It’s quite another to be an invited speaker at such an event, especially since “liberty” has been turned into one of those words that means whatever the speaker wants it to mean, never mind the dictionary definition. If Swann had a competent boss (which as suggested upthread may not be the case), the only satisfactory reason for the latter not to bring Swann in for a long chat about this would be if Swann were being fired.
Oh, and I can make certain inferences about Swann’s political leanings. He’s not the only journalist to have such leanings so thinly disguised, but it’s unseemly for a journalist to be a political crypto-anything. Don’t play games, Mr. Swann; if you are going to drop hints about your political preferences, just come out and say it so that your viewers can take it into account.
Hear ye! Hear ye!
Damning evidence so damning that it had to be secretly recorded over phone conversations and then given to a Congressman as “destroyed data” that apparently now goes to a 3rd rate reporter who’s gonna spill beans on youtube.
Geez, you’d think that BigPharma and the reptilian overlords would have bought off Posey for the mere pittance he sold his soul to Larson and Blaxhill.
Two possibilities, which are not mutually exclusive: (1) Posey and Hooker have better lawyers than Swann, or (2) Posey and Hooker are listening to their lawyers, and Swann isn’t.
Perhaps Posey and/or Hooker want these documents to become public, but know that they can’t have their fingerprints on the doc dump, so they arranged for a patsy like Swann to do the job.
I awkwardly second (third?) Not a Troll seconding Denice. Including the good wishes.
@Annie #24: I don’t think the reason Posey said for not releasing the documents is legal – and it’s unclear Hooker ever had them. Posey suggested in comments on his Facebook page that he promised not to release them – not a legal barrier – and apparently now he changed his mind and chose to release them to Ben Swann.
“Posey gave” – not “Posey said.”
Interesting. Why on earth would he promise not to release them? And who did he make that promise to exactly? And why would that person not want them released if the information is so damning?*
*Not questions necessarily directed at you, Dorit (unless you know the answers, of course!) I’m just thinking out loud here at how nonsensical this whole thing is.
Hi Chaps and Chapesses,
I haven’t been here for a while (my smart phone hates this site for some reason and keeps kicking me off).
Have any of you encountered this clown before? I have no idea how I began to receive his emails and to be honest, am quite surprised I’m still on his mailing list;
Stories have appeared in the antivaccine crankosphere that Rep. Posey had 100,000 pages of documents.
All traceable back to Swann as the only source of the claim.
Have any of you encountered this clown before?
nicelike another Homeopathy scammer in search of a client base.
@Annie #33: Here is what Congressman Posey said at: https://www.facebook.com/101464786703/photos/a.10150925623976704.407033.101464786703/10153468514926704/?type=3&comment_id=10153471536786704&reply_comment_id=10153472732426704&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D
“I was given the documents with the understanding I could reveal them only before other members of congress and the Oversight Committee. The Committee Chairman has promised me he will hold a hearing after his staff completes its work on the Obamacare exchanges.”
I can only guess at the more full answers to your questions.
His knowledge of science seems to be homeopathic as well.
Pure speculation of course but the lack of Congressional interest could be the reason for shuffling this nonsense off to a patsy like Ben Swann and his YouTube following. It really reeks of desperation to me.
From what Posey wrote, lack of interest from Congress doesn’t appear to be a reason to divulge the documents to anyone not a member of Congress (e.g., a yellow journalist). Or maybe there were other members of Congress in the room when he handed them over to Swann? Perhaps that’s what he meant.
Really stupid fucking stories.
“Yes. Hooker’s study showed that on-time MMR vaccination (i.e., at 12-15 months) had zero increased risk of being associated with an autism diagnosis. Even slightly late vaccination (18-24 months) had no association. It was only in the (very tiny) 24-36 month group that he found a statistical correlation, and that because, as Orac notes, he didn’t account for confounding variables.”
Mind linking the numbers and source for that? Is that what Thompson said in his conversations with Hooker? Thanks! 🙂
It’s in Hooker’s retracted paper (see table 2). And I remembered incorrectly. The males vaccinated at 18-24 months had a minor association, but the range was very close to 1. And that association disappears once he excluded low birth weight (table 4).
So, Posey released the documents to …. the Canary Party through its shill Ben Swann?
BTW – Ben Swann has appeared numerous times on Alex Jones’ conspiracy empire. That answers the question of whether he’s a conspiracy loon or just dumb. (Both)
Nice catch CBS46, you’ve hired AJ Jr.
You know, I do recall his name but can’t for the life of me remember where I read his crap. Possibly one of TMR’s web seminars? Maybe.
I discovered that he is a CEASE therapist. CEASE is a form of homeopathy created/ dreamt up by a Dutch fellow and adopted by some of the faithful @ TMR as a treatment for autism.
I’m too lazy to scroll through dozens of TMR seminars but that seems like the likeliest place.
#34 Peebs –
He showed up as a quoted cite in the comments of a GreenMedcisInfo article where the anti-semitism from Jim Stone was on garish display for all to see:
This post was followed by a post by “GreenMedInfo” (the admin) stating merely – “Approved” showing that GMdI is also an anti-semitic site as well as anti-vaccine. Oh, S. Ji is also a chemtrailer as well. k00k magnetism in action.
That entire post is a quote from from what was a current article at jimstonefreelance(dot)com/
So Jim Stone is an anti-vaccine crank and an anti-semite.
What else is new?
I remember CEASE therapy — homeopathy plus vitamin-C megadoses. Don’t cross the streams!
Sorry. I misidentified the k00k.
You inquired after alanfreestone(dot)com not jimstone(dot)com.
What can I say?
I was in the middle of making dinner and misread.
Anti-vax seems to be Swann’s cygneture topic.
As much as anti-vaxxers (and promoters of pseudoscience in general) rely on and are enamored by conspiracy theories, they only seem to consider them shallowly. The majority of conspiracy claimants seem to latch onto the parts that support their claims on the surface, but fail provide such support with further reasoning. They apparently cherry pick the ramifications of their conspiracy theory, while ignoring parts of their conspiracy theory that contradict their claims. For example, many anti-vaxxers scream about a huge government and Big Phrama conspiracy, and use package inserts as purely factual references to support their claims.
I know this is OT, but I have to say thank you ORAC and all and sundry. I am not a scientist, I am not a physician, I make things.
I take materials and construct stuff. What I do is essentially an emperical process, I know that if I do this that will happen. I also know that often stuff goes wrong. Mostly that is dirty inputs. So I clean. If it still happens I have to go to, guess what, science, theory. Physics mostly, where I am a complete naive. But I muddle through.
The point of this burble is that I battle pseudoscience on the small zone I inhabit on the interwebs. Learning from you lot. I have been unfriended, abused, and ignored. But a few have been drawn into ongoing discussions and I think, learning to think. The things that most effect people are not logical fallacies but finding out that the sources they trust tell lies. Explaining look and link is so hard.
Graham @ #50 – Groan!
The issues are largely caused by cognitive biases and just plain ignorance. Simple ignorance could be solved with education, but there is so much misinformation running around out there, making it a challenge to correct. And that’s just assuming they are innocently ignorant. When people fall prey to cognitive biases, as we wall do to some degree, they can be essentially impossible to argue with. Many in the pseudoscience community encourage and rely on such biases, making it even more difficult.
As Science-Based Medicine’s logo suggest, it is a Sisyphean fight despite its critical importance. Due to the immense difficulty involved in the task, every person who begins to think critically and challenge their ideas with skepticism is a victory.
I applaud you, and other skeptics, for each success.
Others have pointed out that yes, you’re right. But also, this is typical woo logic. All apparent benefits of mainstream treatments are falsified, but all reported side effects are real.
Thompson has also whined about another study he was coauthor on that he claims shows vaccines cause ticks. The same dataset shows a (similarly insignificant) increase in intelligence…but nope, can’t have that. Only the bad stuff is real.
Much the same as anything good that happens to you after an alt-med treatment was definitely caused by the treatment, but all side effects are not side effects, they would have happened anyway, or are somehow your fault for doing it wrong.
It’s certainly been a while since the drama of his commentariat’s rescue of “Dr.” Megan Heimer.
Do you ever notice that Orac can never simply provide the facts and let the reader draw their own conclusions? Why is that Orac? Do you have that little faith in your readership? (You should.) Every sentence is filled with ad hominem attacks and vitriol, and you always seem to leave out details which are not consistent with the conclusion you wish your readers to draw.
Its fascinating to watch how Orac and everyone else here is so willing to put the cart before the horse. Apparently the credibility of Dr. William Thompson, a senior epidemiologist and research scientist at the CDC, is dubious enough that these kinds of serious claims do not warrant any sort of investigation. We wouldn’t want to learn that everything we’ve been spouting about for years might not be true, now would we?
Think about this seriously for a moment. Dr. Thompson is a senior CDC research scientist and one of the authors of the 2004 DeStefano paper, and he now claims that significant findings were withheld from that paper. If this were about any topic other than vaccines, this whistleblower would have already testified in front of Congress. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s full of it…but at the very least the gravity of his claims warrant serious investigation, and Posey has now tried twice to convince his colleagues to hold hearings. Crickets.
All of you keep yammering on about how nothing has come of this, it’s old news, this happened a year ago and there have been no new developments, and you use this as evidence that Dr. Thompson’s claims must be false.
The continued silence from the media on this story and the inaction from Congress are just more examples of how difficult it is to get any vaccine safety issue adequately investigated, much less even taken seriously. Especially when there are so many pseudo-skeptics who can’t seem to figure out exactly what they should be skeptical of.
“Certainly, its key premise, that DeStefano et al showed that African American boys who receive the MMR earlier are at a much higher risk of autism than those who don’t and that the CDC covered it up, is not supported by evidence and rests on the misinterpretation of the DeStefano et al dataset.”
That is bull puckey. What evidence? The evidence here is the 2004 DeStefano study itself, and when a whistleblower claims that a study withheld significant findings, you can’t use that same study as “evidence” that he is not correct. Right now the only real evidence is Dr. Thompson’s statements, the videos that were made of him talking on the phone, and the documents that he gave to Congressman Posey (you know, the documents he claims the other researchers threw away).
You can make fun of Ben Swann all you like, but the simple fact is that no mainstream media outlet, or mainstream journalist for that matter, would be willing to take this on. It would mean the end of their career, and you all know it.
The fact that you do not see that as a problem tells us everything we need to know about your collective bias on this issue.
Did you see those blue words in the text above? They’re called “hyperlinks”, and if you’d clicked on them, you’d have been taken to earlier blog posts on this “controversy” where there are ample data.
There has been a lot said about what Dr. Thompson has supposedly said. Thompson himself appears to have gone to ground and is keeping very quiet.
Or maybe it’s proof that everyone looked at it, realised that there was nothing to it, and moved on.
See my response above.
Or maybe, just maybe, this entire palaver is “a tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Funny how a professional’s opinion is de facto credible when this opinion happens to reinforce your own.
I mean, Thompson’s colleagues were also “senior epidemiologist and research scientist at the CDC”, but their opinion that there is nothing amiss with the data is simply dismissed.
Why is it that so many whiners seem to have absolutely no clue about the nature of a blog?
Why didn’t you explain everything that ever happened on the topic since the Big Bang? Why do you have an opinion? Why do you say things that I might find insulting or that hurt my feeling? Why don’t you write about what I want you to? Why are you so mean!?!!
There hasn’t been any convincing evidence of wrongdoing presented. Thompson says that findings were not included, so he pointed Brian Hooker to that data. Hooker published a (now retracted) paper showing that data, and it turns out it was, as everyone suspected after reading the original study, spurious and due (again, as stated in the original paper) to confounders.
As for everything else, we have a whole lotta claims, but no solid evidence to back up any of those claims. And given that the sources are not known to be particularly reliable, you can forgive us for taking those claims with a barrel of salt.
By the bye, take a look at the link I provided up at comment #9, as well as all of those links Orac provided. It may help clear up your confusion.
Does Dr Thompson have a degree in epidemiology? I thought he was a just a psychologist.
Julian — you forgot the rest of the quote. It’s a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing.
True that, shay.
David [email protected]:
FTFY. As others have pointed out, our gracious host is nothing if not thorough in backing up his well-earned insolence with reliable evidence and critical analysis.
It’s very simple really: Evidence or GTFO. If it’s good enough for our cold hard science, it should be good enough for your warm and comfy conspiracist circle-jerk.
Maybe if you all stopped babbling about the vast quantities of absolutely damning evidence of massive govenment conspiracy you possess and actually posted it, it might show us you aren’t just blowing farts out your ass purely so you can huff ’em up again because you enjoy the smell of your own BS so much.
Otherwise, don’t blame us for your credibility being in the sewer. You earned it.
“Do you ever notice that Orac can never simply provide the facts and let the reader draw their own conclusions? Why is that Orac?”
I never before realized that this blog is the equivalent of the news section of the N.Y. Times*, and that posting informed opinion is verboten.
Thanks for cluing me in.
*not that the Times is immune to editorializing in the course of reporting the news.
I’m always impressed when someone is able to write a paragraph criticizing someone else’s writing that demonstrates the same traits that they are complaining about. It’s a very self-referential kind of hypocrisy.
Not that I ever expect any consistency from politicians, but even I am surprised at how quickly Posey went from having promised not to release any documents, except to members of Congress, to giving the documents to a journalist.
Does this mean that other members of Congress are completely and utterly disinterested in the documents? I guess so. Or is Posey (or more likely the person who gave Posey the documents) hoping a bit of good old-fashioned bashing in the press will make Congress sit upand take notice? If so, the release of these documents on a conspiracy-mongering internet channel is not going to help.
This all reads ‘DESPERATION’ to me.
P.S. I think all the lurkers here should carefully read David Foster’s comment and ask themselves the question: “If you have any good evidence, why would you write something like this?”
1. The original study protocol was altered and there is no legitimate reason why race was not used as a co-variate for the entire sample.
2. Decreasing the sample size from 230 to only 137 autistic African American boys eliminated the statistically significant association between the age of MMR vaccination and autism in the 2004 CDC study.
3. The CDC has provided no statement contradicting the central claim of Brian Hooker’s re-analysis of the data, that if the entire sample of African American boys was analyzed, it would show a 236% increased risk of autism in those receiving the MMR vaccine before age 3 versus those receiving it after age 3.
Couple problems with your points. First off, reliable race data was not available for the entire study population. This is noted in the study. Furthermore, confounding variables, such as maternal education, etc., are not available for the full cohort, but only for the subset that had valid GA birth certificates. Hooker did not account for any confounding variables.
Oh, and there was no analysis of pre-age 3 vs. post-age 3. The groups were:
1) Those immunized before 15 months of age
2) Those immunized before 24 months of age (but after 15 mo.)
3) Those immunized before 36 months of age (but after 24 mo.)
You should make note that for those immunized on-time (i.e., 12mo.-15mo. of age), there was zero association, whether you look at DeStefano’s results or Hooker’s incompetent and retracted results. So if you’re going to put any stock in Hooker’s study, then you should be arguing for on-time MMR immunization.
I’ll give you the same advice I gave David Foster: read the links in Orac’s post, as well as the link in comment #9.
So in reality, Truth, Brian Hooker proved it was better to get the MMR vaccine on time instead of waiting.
Though the more logical reason for those who were vaccinated between their second and third birthday was that it was discovered during that year that the child had symptoms of autism, and needed the MMR vaccine to attend special ed. preschool at the local public school. They were often vaccinated after thirty months.
So, really, try reading the words in the article above.
In related news, the AoA brain trust still can’t figure out that Hooker got his data directly from the CDC. You know, like it says right in the abstract and in the methods section:
Ah, but you see, Hooker only wrote that as a placating gesture to seem like he got the data through legitimate channels. That way, us nasty vaccine bullies couldn’t dis his reanalysis for questionable data.
It is amazing how quickly this meme has spread through the anti-vaxxers. This despite the paper saying the opposite.
Clearly it has been a lie to make garbage can gate look like a real thing as opposed to some conspiracy theorising by William Thompson. Which brings me to an unanswered question in my mind about Thompson. How could he not know that the electronic data was all fine when they threw away the analyses? He can’t be that incompetent, can he?
@Chris Preston – Keep in mind that Thompson himself hasn’t said anything since that one official (and obviously lawyer-vetted) statement back when the fit first hit the shan. All the quotes we’ve seen since then were selected, edited, and possibly even made up out of whole cloth by the antivaxxers themselves (although I have to admit that I don’t really think they’re fabricating statements completely de noevo – if they were presumably they’d come up with something better.)
Then too, it must be obvious to Thompson by this time that his bolt is well and truly shot at the CDC – he may have decided to give the antivaxxers what they want in hopes of being accepted by them. If so, I think he’s in for a bitter disappointment; judging the the commentariat over at AoA the more sincere antivaxxers regard him as a Nazi war criminal and would cheerfully hang him from the nearest tree if they ever get their hands on him.
^Judging by the commentariat over at AoA
“He can’t be that incompetent, can he?”
Nope. He’s not. He was playing Hooker to pursue his own agenda of payback to some CDC colleagues. It appears though, that he might have become obsessed enough that he kind of ‘gamed himself’. That is, he could have convinced himself that the shredding was a sign of a cover-up even though he knew the electronic records would be kept. That’s not entirely psycho. There’s something about concrete real-paper trails: the documents have a provenance. Computer data is easier to totally scrub, and in some forms easier to forge. It seems the “garbage can” business was routine procedure at CDC, though. You’d have had to been in the room, I guess, to know whether the folks tossing out the docs were acting like they were just doing a boring routine clean-up, or whether they expressed any cover-up-ish angst and/or relief. Of course, Thompson could have imputed that out of paranoid hostility, when it wasn’t actually there…
Fair suck of the sauce bottle. They have posted David Foster’s post above over at AoA with a big gold star next to it.
Jenny Allan is amazed that it was allowed to stay. Note to Jenny, RI is not moderated as an echo chamber, unlike AoA. The reason is that on this side of the discussion there is no fear of dissenting views.
Apologies for my silence once again. I now have a lovely risposte, courtesy of Renate.
[…] followed up his piece de resistance of antivaccine reporting by revealing to the world that he had obtained from Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) the documents provided him by the “CDC Whistleblower” himself, CDC scientist William […]
[…] Ultimately, an opportunistic Alex Jones wannabe anchor of the Atlanta CBS affiliate, Ben Swann, acquired the documents from Posey in late November and promised to do a report on them. There has been no story yet, and now, thanks […]
[…] crankitude to fill my blogging time until tomorrow night’s festivities, which should be amusing indeed. (Yes, I’m directly comparing Swann to […]
Ben Swann’s internet video is now up:
It’s awesome! Ben Swann went to the Wakefield school of bollocks. He has a lot to say but doesn’t back it up with any of the “thousands of pages” of documents he has. He just regurgitates Wakefield and Hooker and uses Hooker as his “expert”.
Please correct me if I am incorrect but-
somebody PAYS Ben Swann to think, speak and write?
According to wikip–
Ben was homeschooled and received a liberal arts degree at the age of 15 and a master’s degree in history at age 16.
I would be loath to paint with a broad brush but….seriously… I want to so much. I won’t though as I want to be fair.
Swann fails to disclose that he was fundraising among anti-vax and “health choice” activists to raise the cash for this regurgitation of an investigation. Hardly an independent journalist, he was paid to produce a PR product for his benefactors. While the failures of reporting and analysis in his story are legion, his own basic lack of transparency is sadly hypocritical. He also non-transparently fails to identify his “independent” team of scientists, researchers, and experts. Also no mention that his go-to guy Hooker has a huge COI with his son’s NVIC claim, or that Hooker’s failed attempt at a reanalysis was retracted by the journal that first published it.
Independent, crusading, truth-telling journalist…not so much.
Hilarity. I clicked on the DropBox link for the CDC whistleblower documents on Ben Swann’s site and it gave me the message:
This account’s links are generating too much traffic and have been temporarily disabled!”
I suggest pointing out that if you can’t get the documents from Ben Swann’s site you can always get them over at Matt’s. 🙂
I can’t believe that anybody of any personal integrity and basic intelligence wouldn’t spot that Swann produces nobody from his panel of journalists, scientists, and former CDC staff who, he says, reviewed the documents, who is concerned.
WHAT HAPPENED BEN! At least when I made my film on the Wakefield fraud I filmed the experts reading the documents and broadcast what they said.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Ben Swann whackyweedia entry was not self-penned.
It was started, then curated, by a libertarian blogger —
— who admires Swann for using ‘journalism’ to propagandise for libertarian causes. In particular, Swann put a lot of effort into whitewashing Ron Paul’s racism and homophobia,* so his noble attempts at misinformation are emphasised in the Whackyweedia entry (or various editions of it).
* Ron Paul never wrote those articles, only signed his name to them! Anyway, they’re only a small proportion of the total output of articles he signed his name to! They were taken out of context! Mainstream-media persecution!
It seems like every time you turn around, there’s a new vaccination book on the market (or at least one you weren’t aware of).
I just spotted the eloquently named “Just A Little Prick” by Hilary and Peter Butler:
I am extremely disappointed though – from the title, I was led to expect that it would be a tell-all biography of Andrew Wakefield. 🙁
Its funny to see all of the attacks on Ben Swann. I have watched a lot of his content, and it is all based on fact. Ben is simply pointing out that the CDC changed protocols, and destroyed documents to meet a goal.
If Ben is not telling the truth or withholding fact, please let me know. Personally, I haven’t seen any criticism of Ben’s journalism that holds water. Its the same, tired attacks against someone who is trying to open your eyes.
“Swann fails to disclose that he was fundraising among anti-vax and “health choice” activists to raise the cash for this regurgitation of an investigation. ”
He thanks Mark Blaxill at the end. I asked Mr. Swann on his facebook page if he could elaborate if this is for financial support from Mr. Blaxill and, if so, how much that financial support was.
Am I the only one who noticed how the former CDC staffers seemed to be discussing another topic entirely? It’s almost as if someone went looking for “former CDC employee” + “vaccination” in a library of file footage.
Mr. Swann watermarked the documents. Sadly this makes it more difficult to see if he has anything I did not get from Representative Posey’s office.
Also, there are folders duplicated and placed in different locations, which also makes the file size larger.
So far, I haven’t found anything in there that was not provided to me by Posey’s office.
On first pass, these seem to be the same documents that were provided to me.
I haven’t found the document “bill thompson put on admin leave 2004.pdf” yet. Could be Swann’s poor organization. I wonder if the documents that put Thompson is a less favorable light are all present.
The AoA brain trust is providing much amusement by making a mental slurry out of things. The ever-reliable Linda1 (LZ):
Um, the Gerberding letter was in 2004, and the only mention of a bonus that I’m aware of is in the 2014 statement. I don’t recall a suspension at all.
Then again, the Swann blurb includes this gem:
Once again, the 2014 statement: “I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.”
^ Ah, must’ve been the paid administrative leave in 2004.
I’m very curious to see what Mr. Swann says in reply to your query. Either Blaxill and crew gave him money, or Blaxill was one of the crack team of scientific experts who assisted the investigation. Or both.
@I like the TRUTH, Thanks
Well, there’s one thing that he is not telling the truth about. If you actually look at the Thompson documents, you will find that the protocol was not changed as anti-vaccine folks claim. You will also find that documents were not destroyed to meet a goal.
“Suspension for subordination after breaking rank and reporting straight to Gerberding, followed immediately by a glowing review and bonus to keep him locked in. ”
Funny how Swann didn’t mention the other issues that were raised in putting Thompson on administrative leave.
I think the angry altercation in the CDC parking lot between Thompson and his superior may have had something to do with it.
And, lest we forget, Thompson says he went delusional around that time as well. And the administrative leave document discusses a recommendation for counseling.
But, hey, cherry pick Swann. Pick a story then grab what you need to tell it. The other way around–get the info then tell the story–that would be journalism.
@ herr doktor bimler
Happens all the time. We have a French humorist* like this.
*well, he stopped making me laugh when it became difficult to distinguish the humorist and the would-be politician.
The fact that there are zipped files within zipped files is pretty aggravating on top of the insane duplications.
^ Anyway, that document is definitely not present in the two-folder downloads that he’s replaced the original Dropbox link with, unless it’s been renamed. Un*x ‘find’ is your friend.
^^ I mean, check out this mess:
Folder 1 Folder 2
/Users/narad/Swann-downloads> find . -name '*2004*' -print
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/MMR Autism 2004.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/CDC OD Presentation IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 29.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/Cochi Briefing IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 30.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 20.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 21.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 23 temp.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 23.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 25.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 27.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 28.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 29.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 31.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 02 01.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 02 03.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files - 001/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2004_0128 IOM.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/MMR Autism 2004.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/CDC OD Presentation IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 29.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/Cochi Briefing IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 30.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 20.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 21.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 23 temp.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 23.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 25.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 27.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 28.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 29.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 31.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 02 01.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 02 03.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2004_0128 IOM.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files 003/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2004_0128 IOM.xls
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/MMR Autism 2004.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/CDC OD Presentation IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 29.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/Cochi Briefing IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 30.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 20.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 21.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 23 temp.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 23.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 25.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 27.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 28.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 29.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 31.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 02 01.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 02 03.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2004_0128 IOM.xls
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/MMR Autism 2004.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/CDC OD Presentation IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 29.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/Cochi Briefing IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 30.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 20.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 21.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 23 temp.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 23.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 25.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 27.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 28.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 29.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 31.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 02 01.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 02 03.ppt
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2004_0128 IOM.xls
It’s just the same crap over and over again.
Once again what is simple in linux is hard in windows.
The document I’m looking for goes into the reasons for the administrative leave. Swann presents it as though Thompson was put on leave solely for sending a letter to Gerberding. He doesn’t discuss the angry altercation with Orenstein in the parking lot of the follow up emails to Orenstein where Thompson accuses him of making a hostile environment and asks him to apologize.
He also emailed other people and accused Orenstein of harassment.
But that document appears to be missing in the files Swann uploaded? A document that goes against his own claim?
That’s transparency for you.
The fact that there are zipped files within zipped files is pretty aggravating on top of the insane duplications.
This (and the watermarking) has the unfortunate and unintended side-effect that True Believers will be able convince themselves that the Swann documents are not the same as Matt’s earlier document cache; also there are far more data in Swann’s version.
@I like the truth
Criticisms of Swann’s journalism? Sure thing…
No identified sources for his alleged team of scientists, researchers, and journalists who supposedly assisted in the analysis of the documents.
Failure to disclose Hooker’s pending NVICP claim which presents a conflict of interest for Hooker.
Fails to disclose that Hooker’s failed “reanalysis” of the dataset was retracted by the journal in which it was published, raising serious questions about Hookers expert credibility.
No interviews with Thompson, any of the co-authors, Gerberding, or anyone involved with the study or subsequent studies. If he attempted to get interviews he sure doesn’t indicate that in his report.
Bringing in three former CDC staffers who have amazingly have “no comment” on the vey documents at issue in the story.
Insists that Thompson has been trying for 11 years to speak out but is suppressed by the CDC, which is absurd in its face as Thompson can speak whenever he wants–he’s just elected not to, at least since his statement more than a year ago through his lawyer.
Then there’s the long list of claims that Swann makes that are flatly contradicted by the documents.
Journalism? Not exactly…
I found it – Swann has concatenated the PDFs, with the naming apparently tied to the directory name up, within “Documents for Mem and Comm.” in the originals.
The administrative-leave memo is in Swann’s “CDC Files – 001,” under “PDF Files,” in “CDC files – LETTERS – 001.pdf,”
using the nomenclature of the two-file downloads.
^ Directory “one level up,” that is. This stunt does make it a pain in the ass to see whether it’s the full inventory.
Oh, and lest anyone claim that Swann’s version is the original, the relevant metadata for “CDC files – LETTERS – 001.pdf” is
bill thompson put on admin leave 200. The creation dates, file creation software, etc., also differ widely.
^^ G-ddamit, you’d think freaking <code> would be literal. Second try:
bill thompson put on admin leave 2004.pdf
Is it really the case that all those files were released into the wild with no security, allowing them to be watermarked and otherwise fiddled? Is that customary for those sorts of government agency documents?
If they were nominally secured and the security has been defeated, is that legal?
There’s no security at all on the original of the particular file discussed above. It would take a lot of effort to convincingly alter a PDF of a scanned document without leaving giant footprints, though.
[…] of data in order to prevent that from becoming known. Two months ago, we learned that Swann had obtained all the CDC whistleblower documents from Rep. Posey’s office and was planning on doing a report on it. Unfortunately for Swann, […]
One remedy for this is the free Cygwin shell. 😉 Can be slightly annoying to set up, and plays merry hell with some other tools, but just the fact that it includes common Unix utilities like “grep” honestly makes it worthwhile to me. “Beyond Compare” is another very useful tool for this sort of fun. There are also utilities that will let you compare the contents of zip files, but I’m not sure whether any can do so recursively or whether you’d have to write a little script or something to drill down into the file structure and recursively unpack all the zips, and then run your comparisons and searches on the result.
(I’m in software configuration management — making sense of the messes given to me for formal release involves a lot of stuff along these lines.)
Just to be extra helpful, Swann incompetently ensured that this would produce file name collisions.
[…] of data in order to prevent that from becoming known. Two months ago, we learned that Swann had obtained all the CDC whistleblower documents from Rep. Posey’s office and was planning on doing a report on it. Unfortunately for Swann, Matt […]
I wonder if Swann realizes that nested archives actually take up more space. It’s like he’s either an idiot or deliberately obfuscating the data (actually these are not mutually exclusive). I’d say the fact that he has altered the files and changed file names points to this being a deliberate act.
Slightly annoying is a huge understatement. It’s easier to just install VirtualBox and make a Linux VM. A lighter weight solution is GnuWin32 which are the GNU utilities compiled for Windows. They haven’t been updated in years so I don’t know how compatible they are with Windows 8.1 or 10 but I use them just fine on 7.
So I extracted all the files and compared md5’s to de-dup them. Turns out the large majority are duplicates. Actually, every similarly named nested .zip is the same. This includes Tables.zip both inside about outside Results.zip.
Also both files inside the __MACOSX folder in Results.zip are the same despite having different names. There may be a handful of others but I can’t remember them right now. I was planning on posting a list of unique files only but it is in a VM on my computer and my internet is down. I’ll try to get around to digging it out tomorrow. Maybe even create a de-duped zip to save everyone else the trouble.
Note: this was all done with Folder-1.zip and Folder-2.zip not the original single file which I don’t have. If anyone saved a couple I would be grateful to get my hands on it.
The take away from this is f*** Ben Swann. If it wasn’t abudantly apparent already here’s further evidence that he hasn’t a shred of integrity. Nested archives and maybe a duplication or two I could believe as being the result of legitimate (albiet dumb) attempts to organize the data but I has trouble seeing this as anything but intentional misdirection.
“If anyone saved
a coupleit I would be grateful to get my hands on it.”
Hmmm, can’t figure out what I was going for that it ended up like that. Probably means it’s time for bed.
The original* Dropbox link is no longer “429.” I’m not looking at it tonight.
* Per the Wayback Machine.
The concatenations probably simplified the mass watermarking. The stripping out of these is something else that I’m not going to experiment with tonight. Or anytime in the near future, on second thought.
Thanks for the link Narad, but like you I am rapidly losing interest.
As promised, here is a de-duped file list. I kind of wanted to play with the metadata and maybe deconcatenate the files so we can see a 1-1 comparison with Matt’s files but I’m caring less and less by the second so that probably won’t happen.
Note that this has only been de-duped by MD5 hash. The few remaining similarly named files that I bothered to check are the same documents with different MD5’s. I don’t whether this is because there were duplicates in the original and Swann’s PDF editing software didn’t perfectly reproduce files when he watermarked them, or because he’s a dishonest sleazebag I do not know.
It’s probably safe to assume that the remaining similarly named files are duplicates as well but I don’t care enough to check all of them. I would say anyone still interested in this need only look at CDC Files – 001 (1).zip in Folder-1.zip as nothing else appears to contain unique documents.
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/describe_results_2002_0816.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2002_1030.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2002_0821.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/describe_results_2002_0814.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/describe_results_2002_0807.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/Frank Graphs 2003 12 11.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/describe_results_2002_0805.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2002_1120.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/describe_results_2002_0808.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/describe_results_2002_0809.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2002_1017.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2002_0816.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2002_1030_briefing.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Tables/MMR_Autism_tables_2004_0128 IOM.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 25.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/Cordero_MMR_102502.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 28.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 02 03.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 27.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/Orenstein Briefing on MMR Autism Study 2002 10 31.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 23.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/Cochi Briefing IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 30.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 20.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/MMR AUtism Study Slide.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/Flowchart.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/SPER_MMR_poster_052903_TK1.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 31.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/Cordero Briefing on MMR Autism Study 2002 10 30.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/CDC OD Presentation IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 29.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 23 temp.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 29.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 01 21.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint/IOM MMR Autism Study 2004 02 01.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/MEMO -Statement of Dr William Thompson re MMR Study 09092014.pdf
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/CDC files – DATA OUTPUT WITH NOTES – 001.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/CDC files – TABLES – 001.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/CDC files – LETTERS – 001.pdf
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/CDC files – MEETINGS – 001.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/MMR and Autism.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/CDC files – HAND WRITTEN NOTES – 001.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/CDC files – FINAL ANALYSIS PLAN – 001.pdf
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/Data Analysis Issues 8-2001.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/CDC files – Analysis Plans – 001.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/CDC files – AGENDA 001.pdf
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/PDF Files/Draft Article – DeStefano.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/race.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0315.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/MMR-Autism Graphs for Walt.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2001_1219.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/race3.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0403.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0213.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0801.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/Describe_missing_2001_1010.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_01.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0805.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/OR_Descriptives.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/Describe_New_Variables_Tanya.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0227.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0702.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0717.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/Vaccine_missing.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/sample_selection.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0702 (2).xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0801 (2).xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0501.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0220.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/Describe_gestational_age_2001.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0320.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0605.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/Describe_kappa_2001.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/missing_mmr_data.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/race2.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_data_2001.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0522.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_results_2002_0417.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/Describe_Case_Control_Missing_2001.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/MMR1MISS_IMMFMISS.doc
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/describe_graph_2002_0501.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/Results/vaccine_describe.xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Results/__MACOSX/Results/._describe_results_2002_0801 (2).xls
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint with notes/A000346.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/Powerpoint with notes/A000382.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files – 001/MMR Autism 2004.ppt
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/MEMO -Statement of Dr William Thompson re MMR Study 09092014.pdf
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/CDC files – MEETINGS.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/CDC files – HAND WRITTEN NOTES.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/MMR and Autism.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Data Analysis Issues 8-2001.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/CDC files – TABLES.PDF
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/CDC files – LETTERS.pdf
./Folder 1/CDC Files 002/Draft Article – DeStefano.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/CDC files – DATA OUTPUT WITH NOTES.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/CDC files – AGENDA 002.pdf
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Article Preliminary Draft (1).PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/MEMO -Statement of Dr William Thompson re MMR Study 09092014.pdf
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/CDC files – MEETINGS.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/CDC files – HAND WRITTEN NOTES.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/MMR and Autism.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Data Analysis Issues 8-2001.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/CDC files – Analysis Plans.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/CDC files – TABLES.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/CDC files – LETTERS.pdf
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/CDC files – FINAL ANALYSIS PLAN.pdf
./Folder 2/CDC Files 005/Draft Article – DeStefano.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/MEMO -Statement of Dr William Thompson re MMR Study 09092014.pdf
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/MMR and Autism.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Data Analysis Issues 8-2001.PDF
./Folder 2/CDC Files 004/Draft Article – DeStefano.PDF
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