A listener on TWiV 105 compared dr. Judy Mikovits from the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI) to Andrew Wakefield, a British former surgeon and researcher best known for his discredited work regarding the MMR vaccine and its claimed connection with autism and inflammatory bowel disease. The Lancet retracted his 1998 publication, noting elements of the manuscript had been falsified. This is obviously not a compliment, but it was only a matter of time before someone would make the connection after Judy Mikovits not only spoke at an autism/anti-vax conference, later she also claimed that vaccination causes autism by triggering XMRV, without any publications or data to back up those claims. The hosts of TWiV didn’t want to go as far as to compare Mikovits to Wakefield, but the habit of Mikovits and WPI to make claims without proper publications leads to loss of credibility. The expression they used was gone off the rail.
Alas, Judy Mikovits is not the only doctor/researcher in the biomedical camp of ME/CFS to repeatedly make claims without backing them up with data and publications.
What is holding WPI and Judy Mikovits back from publishing? Apparently she has a drawer full of scientific publications, but, just like in the early days of HIV, no one will publish them. Just like the authors of negative XMRV papers got accused that THEY did not want to find it, now she claims that THEY don’t want to publish her research. Who are THEY this time? Is it Science, a handful of prestigious journals, or dozens of scientific and medical journals? I am finding it hard to believe that all relevant journals like Science, PLoS, PubMed, Journal of Virology, Journal of the American Medical Association, British Medical Journal, Retrovirology, Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, … all refused. But even if this is the case. So what? Why not do it yourself?
What was the reason they gave for refusing? I can think of several reasons without reverting to a conspiracy theory: bad science for one or maybe they want to wait for a validated clinical test for XMRV & MLV before linking it to yet another disease. Don’t drag the patient community into a(nother) conspiracy theory; that is not going to help our cause – quite to the contrary. What is so special about these journals anyway? They are a means for scientists to get their work published and date back from way before the advent of the world wide web. These are the tenties of the 21st century. This is the age of self-publishing. What are you waiting for?
What are your priorities? The advancement of science, helping ME/CFS patients, or a publication in a prestigious journal? Something to add to your resume? Another feather for in your cap? You’ve got the research. Just do it.
What do you have to lose? Respectability? You should have thought of that before making unsubstantiated claims. You should have thought of that before cozying up to the anti-vax movement. You should have thought of that before accusing fellow scientists of foul play just because they don’t agree with you or didn’t confirm your findings.
What about peer review? No worries. Just publish it on a website in the same way as it would be published in a journal. Doctors, scientists, students, and biomedical literate patients will rise to the challenge and pick it apart, praise it into heaven, or grind it into the dirt. You will get your peer review. Can you handle it?
Stop whining, “THEY won’t publish my articles. THEY don’t want to find the virus.” No conspiracy theories please. Conspiracy theories are the slippery slope towards irrationality. You’re not doing us patients a favor with this attitude. We might end up next to anti-vaxers, creationists, and alien abductees.
Set up a website for the articles, add a big Paypal “Donate to WPI” button, add a link to the order form on VIP Dx’ site, and add some Google AdSense bars. You will certainly make some money with your publications, which can be used for funding more research. Unethical? You should have thought of that before scaring patients into taking an unproven commercial test which had conveniently become available shortly after the publication in Science – without declaring a conflict of interest. You should have thought of that before urging patients who tested negative, into taking the next generation test, because of false-negatives.
I don’t want to compare Judy Mikovits to Andrew Wakefield, or Annette Whittemore and WPI to the next company specialized in emptying the pockets of desperate patients. I really don’t. The research is promising, it has been confirmed by others, but more often it has been challenged. I agree with the hosts of TWiV, namely that the jury is still out on XMRV and MLV. What I am afraid of is that now ME/CFS finally receives much needed attention — thanks to WPI, that WPI’s attitude to make claims without publication and to accuse those who don’t agree or couldn’t confirm their findings of foul play, which could alienate a lot of potential allies. It’s not just between WPI and THEM. There are a lot of virologists out there who are very busy with their own research projects and (might) start taking an interest in XMRV & MLV and/or ME/CFS. Don’t put them off with your wild accusations and conspiracy theories. It should be easy to set this straight. Walk your talk.
Dr. Judy Mikovits and Annette Whittemore from WPI, I challenge thee. I call your bluff. Cards on the table, please.
|Marxists are people whose insides are torn up day after day
because they want to rule the world
and no one will even publish their letter to the editor.
- TWiV 105: Finches score again (fast forward to 49th minute to listen to the piece on XMRV)
- Phoenix Rising Forums – Sue J Blog: NJ CFS Conference – Update on XMRV by Dr. Mikovits
- Learning to Live With CFS – NJ CFS Conference – Update on XMRV by Dr. Mikovitz
- Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro Immune Disease
- Wikipedia on Andrew Wakefield
- ProHealth: TRANSCRIPTS of Mikovits Jan 22 XMRV Presentation and Q&A
- Phoenix Rising: XMRV Under Fire – The Validation Studies
- The Huffington Post: Is Autism Associated with A Viral Infection? by David Kirby
- Stock photo: Large format printing by miljan
- Stock photo: High Stakes 1 by collyer_1