Jake Crosby once again unintentionally convicts himself of having a conflict of interest

April 28, 2011

Jake Crosby is at it again with more 6000-degrees of separation conspiracies – If I were as childish as the folks over at Age of Autism, I might dub this kid Joke Crosby…but I’m classy and stuff. Crosby reiterates his last alleged conflict of interest:

The saga of Seth Mnookin and his uncle, Robert Mnookin just gets weirder and weirder. First it has been revealed that Robert Mnookin is close colleagues with Linda Singer – the mother-in-law of pharma-funded wife, Alison Singer – and Michael Lewis, who sits on the board of her fake autism charity/pharma front group, “Autism Science Foundation.”

Got that straight? Seth Mnookin’s uncle works with the mother-in-law of Alison Singer (who I get a funny feeling young Jake is not a fan off – what he has against warrior moms with autistic children, I have no idea). This to him constitutes a conflict of interest. On what grounds? Beats the fuck out of me!

I recently learned that I’m distantly related on my uncle’s side to Jonathan Ames, the writer and producer of the HBO series Bored To Death. And while I met his parents once now, I’ve never so much as been in the same room as Mr. Ames. And yet young Jake, who apparently isn’t aware that everyone in the world is connected by a few degrees, is convinced such a tenuous connection is “weird” and “bizarre”, as well as significant enough to completely ignore Mnookin’s actual facts and arguments.

His latest amazingly “bizarre” connection is that the author of the recent NY Times article that positively quoted Mnookin also “gushed” about his uncle in a news story from a whopping six years ago.  Come to think of it, I’ve noticed a lot of writers consistently write negatively of Charles Manson. Weird! Bizarre! It must be an evil plot. What other possibility could there be? Also Jake Crosby has in dozens of articles “gushed” over Andrew Wakefield. Bizarre. I think Jake would agree that that proves overwhelmingly that he is part of a conspiracy. Seriously though, this level of deluded McCarthyism is getting truly pathetic. Here is an article that lays out the grounds for what is considered an unhealthy relationship in the real world.

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Jake Crosby is a shill for Big Kevin Bacon

March 21, 2011

Yup, that’s right. It’s another piece on Jake Crosby, the Senator McCarthy of the 21st century. As you probably know, a person can’t be approved for official membership in the anti-vax crank club until they accuse someone who disagrees with them of being an agent of the grand conspiracy to get us all. And no one has earned more patches in that category than young Jake Crosby at Age of Autism. It isn’t hard to find examples of Crosby’s comically tortured logic and pathological need to fling the nastiest vitriol at anyone who dares tell him he’s wrong (here, here, here, here, here, here, here).

Sadly, no matter how far he crosses the line into libel and deliberate distortion of facts, remarkable he and the Age of Autism fan club continue to view him as a legitimate investigative reporter…even when he posts something as despicable and repulsive as this. In this article, Crosby not only accuses real investigative journalist Seth Mnookin of a conflict of interest through a maze of loose associations that would make even Kevin Bacon scratch his head but also has the audacity to say this:

Seth Mnookin – a former drug dealer and burglar who bit a police officer…

Geez oh Peet! Offit picks the lousiest spokespeople, doesn’t he? First Amanda “don’t listen to me” Peet and now this former heroin addict.

What the psychotic Crosby is referring to in Mnookin’s history with battling a psychiatric disorder, which drove him to heroin addiction. Of course Mnookin has been clean for twelve years (about half of Crosby’s entire life), has rebuilt his life, has an exemplary journalist record, and has proven he has the courage to talk about this dark period of his life candidly and very publicly.

As for what any of Mnookin’s or anyone else’s past indiscretions have to do with the overwhelming science that proves Crosby completely wrong about everything he believes about vaccines is a mystery. These anti-vaxxers are deeply disturbed individuals who wouldn’t hesitate to try and even cite an old parking ticket to try to poison the well. Anything to try and discredit their critics and distract the public from the science. They have no shame.

And as for the amazing conflict of interest Crosby states Mnookin has, one commenter on the Left Brain Right Brain blog summed it up perfectly:

Wow. Jake revealed that Seth Mnookin -> is the son of Seth Mnookin’s father -> who is the brother of Seth Mnookin’s uncle -> who is a colleague of Alison Singer’s mother-in-law -> who is the mother of Alison Singer’s husband->who is married to Alison Singer (a founder of the Autism Science Foundation) -> who is therefore a colleague of a Paul Offit, who makes his millions by directing the world-wide, pharma-backed conspiracy to promote the idea that Jake and his AoA colleagues are ignorant, wacky, anti-science conspiracy theorists who clearly can’t understand that the great weight of the scientific evidence is against them and so have to rely on ad hominem attacks.

Unusually strong work for Jake.

Jake Crosby, you are a coward and a fraud. I challenge you to address the science and nothing but the science that you feel supports your position. I double dog dare you.

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Age of Autism’s adorable attempt to correct Seth Mnookin’s facts

March 4, 2011

I haven’t yet read Seth Mnookin’s book “The Panic Virus – A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear,” but I’ve heard great things about it. It was inevitable that the anti-vaxxers would eventually come up with silly ways to poison the well in order to try and discredit Mnookin but I never thought it’d be this dumb.

Dan “I can’t find the autistic Amish because I never looked” Olmsted devoted no fewer than three paragraphs chastising Mnookin for a trivial error regarding the order of the Kennedy children. Olmsted tries to disguise his pettiness with faux-sympathy because he too has made errors in his writing. He claims he’s bringing this error up because in his book, Mnookin criticized what Olmsted feels is an equally trivial error on the part of the writers of an anti-vaccine press release that “appeared to confuse [Robert Kennedy Jr.] with his uncle, Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy: ‘Having Senator Kennedy as part of the supporters for the Green Our Vaccines Rally is an honor.’”

Olmsted elaborates:

What possible purpose does this snarky observation serve? It serves to suggest that these fringe vaccine-autism types are hopelessly “confused” at the most basic level – that they can’t get anything right, even the title of the speaker at their own goofy rally, let alone the cause of autism.

The two mistakes are not of equal value. Mnookin’s alleged mistake confused a completely irrelevant detail, the order of the children in the Kennedy family. There’s a big difference between that error and one where a press release for an event that suggests a U.S. senator will be in attendance when it’s only that senator’s activist son. And based on the quotation provided by Olmsted, I think he missed the point of Mnookin’s criticism entirely, which seems less about calling his opponents stupid and more about suggesting dishonesty in how the anti-vaccine movement operates. In other words, I think he’s saying it’s the leaders of the anti-vaccination movement who seem to think their followers are stupid, and are not above exploiting some people’s ignorance to further their agenda. For those who noticed the error, the built-in excuse was it was a mistake. Otherwise, they can just let the ignorant believe they’re hearing from a U.S. senator. It’s a win-win.

And now that Mnookin called his movement out on their dishonesty, Olmsted is trying to paint Mnookin as a “stickler for accuracy.” Why Olmsted thinks this is a criticism of Mnookin’s character I have no idea, especially if his movement wants to continue to perpetuate defamatory claims against him being dishonest in his research. A “stickler for accuracy” who, as Olmsted points out, is quick to admit his own errors when they’re detected is exactly the kind of character trait an honest person sincerely interested in truth should find to be a fairly trustworthy source. Not to Olmsted though. Apparently, that just proves he’s not to be trusted…somehow.

Now I would be dishonest to suggest that’s all Olmsted criticized in his blog entry. He eventually gets into spouting old arguments such as the claim that vaccines cause encephalopathy. Olmsted says the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act (NCVICA) covered encephalopathy and the NCVICA has paid out compensations for this condition. For some reason he feels this is sufficient scientific grounds for claiming this is a fact, ignoring the reality that the NCVICA has always used more generous standards than even other types of legal cases, which are themselves much more lenient than the standards of evidence in the court of science. Steven Novella explains this distinction further here.

Then Olmsted chastises Mnookin for allegedly incorrectly reporting that a 1943 paper looked at eleven boys when Olmsted explains that that is so completely wrong and demonstrates Mnookin is the world’s largest idiot because the paper actually looked at eight boys and three girls! Take that, Mr. Know-It-All! And then Olmsted finds another several completely trivial alleged errors in Mnookin’s reporting of that one insignificant 1943 paper!

Oo, burn!

Dan Olmsted then continues to list another half dozen to a dozen other completely trivial errors Mnookin made either in his book or elsewhere to show once and for all who the real fool is.

And then Olmsted ends his piece before wasting any of his precious time pretending to look for autistic children in the Amish community when all he has to do is contact the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Pennsylvania on trying to refute any actual important facts in Mnookin’s book.

But visitors of Age of Autism know that the end of an article on the site is only the fun begins as their fanatical followers continue the discussion in the echo chamber that is the Age of Autism comments section, where no critics are allowed.

Take for instance, one commenter named “A Friend”:

Just so we are clear… The former heroin addict Seth Mnookin wrote a book and I’m supposed to be impressed? Um, no thanks. I’ll take a Autism Mom former playboy bunny any day of the week!!He’s going to be speaking @ Hospitals?!?! Lock up the medicine cabinets. 😦 How sad.

This led Kristina to write:

Oh, wow. a former heroin addict? Why is this the first time I’m hearing this? One would think all news articles about his book would introduce him as, “former heroin addict, Seth Mnookin,” just as they have done with Jenny McCarthy and her being a former Playboy model. Not that there is anything illegal or brain-frying about being a former Playboy model.

Could brain frying via heroin be an explanation for all his ridiculous factual mistakes?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a little peak at the fact manufacturing process at Age of Autism.

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Andrew Wakefield is a fraud!

January 5, 2011

Andrew Wakefield is a fraud. To many of you out there, this is not news at all. But today the British Medical Journal released the first of several close examinations by journalist Brian Deer that exposes Andrew Wakefield’s now retracted 1998 study published in the Lancet that analyzed twelve children as not just bad science but deliberately fraudulent.

Among many distortions, Wakefield altered the medical information of all twelve children including changing the dates their symptoms were first reported to fit his predetermined conclusions. For instance,  although the children were reported in the study to show their symptoms almost immediately after receiving the MMR vaccine, their medical records show some developed their symptoms earlier while others not for many months after vaccination (not unlike Jenny McCarthy, who claimed that her son appeared to lose his very soul almost immediately after vaccination but recently admitted it was many months later that his symptoms appeared).

And suddenly this has created a media firestorm on the side of good for a change. Everyone’s talking about this and it’s being called by many to be the biggest scientific fraud of this generation. Orac is even calling it the greatest scientific fraud since Piltdown Man. Dan Harris and Diane Sawyer were harsh in their report on ABC World News tonight. Then Sanjay Gupta went on Wolf Blitzer’s show and firmly declared the study a fraud. Elliot Spitzer and Sanjay Gupta interviewed JB Handley on CNN and were pretty tough on him. Handley said they hadn’t done the research and Spitzer blunted stated, “I think we have.” It was pretty awesome.

But nothing was better than when CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta, got the exclusive privilege of interviewing Wakefield himself and just ripped him to shreds.Not since Jon Stewart was on Crossfire was there a more epic smack-down on television.

Cooper pulled no punches, reminding Wakefield mid-conspiracy that it’s not just Brian Deer calling him a fraud but the entire global medical community and chastising Wakefield for using this interview to just plug his book. Unfortunately, Cooper wasn’t able to respond to Wakefield’s now frequent claim that his research has been repeated in five other studies around the world other than to simply say that this claim is false. But for those who are curious, here are the embarrassing facts about those five studies. Then after the interview, Cooper invited on Seth Mnookin, author of the new book The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear. Cooper said Wakefield refused to be interviewed with Mnookin there to ask questions, so now he and Gupta were just going to talk to Mnookin after the Wakefield interview. And I really started to think Anderson Cooper has been paying attention to skeptical blogs because they hit on just about every point, including whether the media has played into the perpetuation of the myth that vaccines cause autism by presenting a false balance.

This may have been the single biggest nail in the coffin on the anti-vaccine movement yet. It’s just a PR disaster for them. Just look at their flimsy response.

This idea that the entire world is against them and in on an evil conspiracy is, as Mnookin says, just laughable. And this is just a slam dunk victory for good science reporting and skepticism.

[UPDATE 1/7/11: Today, Brian Deer himself (the man Wakefield calls the “hitman” hired to take him out) made several CNN appearances that can viewed here and on Anderson Cooper here.]

[UPDATE 1/11/11: Seth Mnookin talks on American Morning here and Sullivan fact-checks Age of Autism’s defense of Wakefield here]

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