March 4, 2008

McCain: "a fool, willing to flap his jaw about important topics based on ignorance."

What else are you supposed to conclude when he says "there’s strong evidence" connecting thimerosal to autism?

The effort to shift term "The Stupid Party" over to the Democrats has just suffered another setback.

82 comments:

Original Mike said...

Yeah, this comment was disappointing. Hopefully he comes out in the next few days with a "my bad".

Doug said...

Yeah, but his fans have been doing a lot of that kind of hoping over the past week, haven't they? "Oh, well, I'm sure he'll apologize for Bill Cunningham." "Well, hopefully he'll distance himself from John Hagee." "Hopefully he'll come out with a 'my bad' on the autism thing."

I can respect someone who's willing to apologize or admit a mistake, but I have a lot less respect for someone who can't stop doing stupid things.

P. Rich said...

McCain was responding to a question from the mother of a boy with autism, who asked about a recent story that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had issued a judgment in favor of an unnamed child whose family claimed regressive encephalopathy and symptoms of autism were caused by thimerosal.

Yes, this is the typical question asked of candidates, and one we should expect them to be current on. NOT. There is a whiff of something foul here.

As for "Stupid Party": No shift is required. The label appropriately resides on the left and has for decades. For corroboration, see Dem voter demographics. Or, at a more rarified level, the distribution of lefties within academia - class/race/gender studies, the "-oligies", journalism... Sorry, Dems. You run in a slow crowd.

MadisonMan said...

I can only assume McCain is trying to wrest the millions upon millions of anti-vaccination right-wing voters from Huckabee.

p. rich, I think you might be too cynical. Of course a suffering family is going to ask a politician for help. It's apparently the American Way. But why should McCain know any science anyway? Republicans have been railing against science for many years.

Tibore said...

McCain said what?

Why isn't one of his staff taking him aside and saying "Sir, you really, really have to reconsider that statement"? One more misstep about this issue, and I will email scientific information to his campaign headquaters until they block me.

I've taken enough heat from people for favoring him over Romney and Huck, and now this. He needs to unf*** that statement pronto.

SteveR said...

Well as Glen referenced yesterday, its Don Imus' fault.

As for "Stupid Party", its a rather stupid generalization

Doyle said...

The contest for the title of "The Stupid Party" is not close.

Fen said...

Republicans have been railing against science for many years.

No, they've been railing against the corruption of science for political outcomes [Global Hysteria].

Fen said...

"in response to those who cite in vitro or animal models as evidence for the link between autism and thiomersal:

"However, the experiments showing effects of thimerosal on biochemical pathways in cell culture systems and showing abnormalities in the immune system or metal metabolism in people with autism are provocative; the autism research community should consider the appropriate composition of the autism research portfolio with some of these new findings in mind.

However, these experiments do not provide evidence of a relationship between vaccines or thimerosal and autism. In the absence of experimental or human evidence that vaccination (either the MMR vaccine or the preservative thimerosal) affects metabolic, developmental, immune, or other physiological or molecular mechanisms that are causally related to the development of autism, the committee concludes that the hypotheses generated to date are theoretical only."

"Thus, based on this body of evidence, the committee concludes that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism."

"The committee concludes that much more research must be conducted on autism. However, research should be directed towards those lines of inquiry most supported by the current state of knowledge. The vaccine hypotheses are not currently supported by the evidence."

/disqualifiers in bold

TMink said...

There is a contest for the stupid party?

Two words.


Dead.

Heat.


Trey

rhhardin said...

It's not Imus's fault, it's his wife Yoko.

Fen said...

At the link, Mark Kleiman says: But now the science is in. Thimerosal in vaccines is not a cause of autism.

But the scientific studies he links to don't exactly say that [see bolded portions above].

So I would ask all you smart scientific people to read the science, not the summary. What does it say?

Kirk Parker said...

I think the commenter Occam's Beard over at Megan's has it about right: "It would seem likely that he was trying to give a diplomatically balanced answer to an anguished mother. (The truth would hardly do: it's an act of God, i.e., we don't know what causes it, and there's nothing we can now do about it)."

George said...

But, for God's sake, keep the kids away from fluorescent bulbs if they break!

Children and pets should stay away from the area, the [EPA] says, and windows should be opened for at least 15 minutes so that vapors may disperse. Cleanup can be done by hand using disposable materials, the experts add....says National Geographic.

Smilin' Jack said...

...he says "there’s strong evidence" connecting thimerosal to autism...The effort to shift term "The Stupid Party" over to the Democrats has just suffered another setback.

We should probably reserve judgment until Hillary or Obama are asked that question. I would guess that their answer would be equally stupid.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Only a Stupid Party candidate would fail to realize that the science is in:

"The National Institutes of Health have concluded that childhood vaccines are not the cause, but many families are not convinced.As president, I will double funding for autism research, issue an all-hands-on deck challenge and follow the results wherever the science takes us." --John Edwards, 2007 (h/t MinuteMan)

Richard Dolan said...

This part of the story caught my eye: "the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had issued a judgment in favor of an unnamed child whose family claimed regressive encephalopathy and symptoms of autism were caused by thimerosal.”

If the medical evidence is so clear, one wonders what the court or the "program" relied on to make the necessary finding that causation had been proven by a preponderance of the evidence (assuming the story is accurate). Perhaps it's just proof that the Daubert rule, intended to prevent junk science from giving rise to junk judgments, is only as good as the judge who is applying it.

In all events, it's odd to see McCain weighing in on this, since the issue is a classic for the "trial lawyers." The R team usually has an immediate allergic reaction to anything supported by the "trial lawyers," often regardless of the merits of the particular issue. Perhaps this was just McCain's attempt to express sympathy for a distraught parent; perhaps he has a history of crossing the aisle on things like this; perhaps it grows out of his rejection of the "no problem here" view of the global warming debate, that's turned into a distrust of such assurances in other medico-scientific areas. I don't know. I suspect we'll find out as the campaign moves forward.

Whatever it says about McCain, however, junk science of this sort still finds its only firm home on the D side of the line, where the trial lawyers exercise considerable sway.

MadisonMan said...

Fen, I was thinking of how the Bush administration suppresses scientific data that runs counter to political viewpoints. That's true for Global Warming, yes, as noted by Jim Hansen (Last summer?). It's also true for snowmobile policies in National Parks. For policies regarding endangered species, or mercury pollution, or reproductive issues.

Some of the scientists that are ignored are paid by the government to be expert in their fields. Why pay them to do that if Bush and the Executive branch think they know better?

Paul Zrimsek said...

The answer to MM's supposedly puzzling question can be gotten by focusing on that word policies. (Hint: scientists : science :: politicians : ______ )

Beth said...

He's also not sure about whether it's a good idea to fund condoms to stop the spread of AIDs.

The problem here isn't that McCain thinks stupid thoughts about autism, but that he's getting these stupid thoughts from the man he consults on science and health issues, Tom Coburn. He's been doing that for at least the past year (when he first fielded the AIDs question). If this is a preview of who he'll turn to for advice as president, then it's clear he can't be trusted in that office.

Roger said...

The word "cause" with respect to any scientific study causes a great degree of difficulty for a lay public. Right now there are only correlational studies with respect autism. It is probably equally likely that cosmic radiation could change a gene in utero which results in autism; until a lab researcher can demonstrate that exposure to thimerosol positively results in autism (or the gene that leads to autism) in every instance there is no causality.

MadisonMan said...

Re: Cause. If the purported cause for autism is removed from the vaccine, and cases of autism do not subsequently drop, I think a prudent scientist looks elsewhere for autism causes.

paul, yes it's clear to me that the current Administration is giving lip service to scientists: Let's see what the experts we pay say about it. Then they ignore the advice and do what they want anyway. (Why should we even pay for this -- that's the puzzle!) It's reminiscent of signing statements on bills. Yes, the President says, I'll sign this bill. And then I'll ignore it.

Tibore said...

"So I would ask all you smart scientific people to read the science, not the summary. What does it say?"

Fen, I'm afraid I'm misunderstanding you. Are you saying there's language in the multiple studies out there saying there's a possibility of a correlative relationship between thimerosal and autism? The scientific studies do indeed say that there's no correlation between the two. The text you quoted from Wikipedia (which originated from this study) discusses the need to better study the metabolic effects of thimerosal's introduction into the human body. It's not any sort of language limiting the scope of the conclusion.

That very study also says this:

"In the absence of experimental or human evidence that vaccination (either the MMR vaccine or the preservative thimerosal) affects metabolic, developmental, immune, or other physiological or molecular mechanisms that are causally related to the development of autism, the committee concludes that the hypotheses generated to date are theoretical only."

... or in other words: There are no studies tying thimerosal to any metabolic characteristics associated with autism, nor any developmental characteristics associated with autism, nor any molecular/chemical reactions in the human body associated with autism.

If you look at other studies as well, you see a convergence of evidence falsifying any thimerosal-autism link. For example, the Yokohama, Japan MMR-autism study, which showed increases in autism after the withdrawl of a thimerosal containing vaccine (the "MMR" one at the center of controversy in Britain). It would be a ridiculous conclusion to say that the vaccine "limited" autism, so don't misread me in thinking I'm going there. Rather, I'm saying that the Japan study shows no link between vaccine use and autism rates.

Also, a study published in Lancet measuring the metabolic product of thimerosal (ethylmercury) in infants after receiving a thimerosal containing vaccine showed that there is little if any rise in blood concentration above safe levels, and that the mercury is discarded from the system rapidly (Source: Lancet article link in "PubMed").

I could go on, but the point is that there are no studies showing a correlation, let alone any causative effect. And humerously enough, that includes the infamous Wakefield study in Britain that sparked all this off (Andrew Wakefield never actually established any true correlation; he merely discovered measles virus in the guts of innoculated children and constructed a multistep argument bridging that finding with autism). No one can establish any correlation, and there's at least one study (maybe two, if I include the California one) that oddly enough shows a contrary relationship.

I apologize if I misread your statement, Fen, but you seemed to be saying there were limits on the applicability of the research to humans. That's not really what it was saying. If I misread you, please correct me.

dbp said...

This sort of thing is a usefull corrective:

The pattern is always the same: The media in conjunction with a pressure group hypes some looming disaster. Scientists look at the numbers, find no connection between the problem and the "cause". This, of course gets zero (or very little) press attention. Most people hear about the problem and then never hear that it isn't actually a problem.

So, it is good when a politician makes a gaffe, then the press will actually spread the news that a problem they hyped a couple of years ago was BS. They won't put it that way though.

SGT Ted said...

bagpipeSome of the scientists that are ignored are paid by the government to be expert in their fields.

Yes, like the two State climatologists fired for crossing the party line and disagreeing with the pro- AGW political positions of their elected bosses. But, I am sure that those politicians knew more about the science than those experts they hired and then fired. They'll just install a subservient bitch who will parrot the Holy Scripture of Al Gore. Sure, libs are all about the science now aren't they?

But, to tell James Hanson that he doesn't speak for his bosses, nor is he a policy setter, well thats oppression.

In every scientific endeavor that results in policy, some scientists are going to get ignored by the person in charge who makes decisions. It is sour grapes that Hanson has not been deferred to, not ignorance of science, as there are plenty of experts who disagree with Hanson.

Hanson is a whiner and the cries of "suppression" are quite emo and melodramatic as Hanson has no problem getting interviews and his opinions are quite well known, now aren't they?

Smilin' Jack said...

Beth said...
The problem here isn't that McCain thinks stupid thoughts about autism...


Actually, it is. Any reasonably intelligent and well-informed person has heard of this "controversy," would not say stupid things about it, and would fire an advisor who did.

MadisonMan said...

Yes, like the two State climatologists fired for crossing the party line and disagreeing with the pro- AGW political positions of their elected bosses.

I think I would have heard about this, and I haven't so if you can provide a link to the news reports -- google isn't helping -- I'd be interested to read it.

Paul Zrimsek said...

paul, yes it's clear to me that the current Administration is giving lip service to scientists:

I already know it's clear to you; I still don't know why. All that's clear to me so far is that the Administration often disagrees with the policy preferences of the experts we pay-- which is fine, since their policy preferences aren't what we're paying them for.

Beth said...

I don't know where you think you're disagreeing with me, Jack. The problem is that he's tagged Coburn as his go-to guy on such issues and thus will continue to uninformed. My point is to get behind the specific issues of autism or AIDS to the source of McCain's ill-formed position, because so long as he's turning to Coburn, he'll continue to be misinformed.

Michael said...

I'm a parent of a child with autism and let me say that it is, in fact, reassuring to parents of autistic children to hear a major candidate talking about this issue. I do not buy into the "vaccination causes autism" theory. But, if all of you out there who so smugly put down people who believe that there is a connection between vaccination and autism actually had a child with autism, you would realise that "science" doesn't know anything about the condition. Parents are left in the dark by science and, on their own, attept to figure out why their child is autistic. Nearly all parents of autistic children associate the onset of symptoms temporally with vaccination, hence the guess that there is some connection.

I find the vast majority of the comments on this board (including the post itself) wildly ignorant regarding autism and wildly insensitive to parents who are struggling to figure out what is going on with their autistic children.

Paul Zrimsek said...

If science doesn't know anything about autism, then a fortiori folk science doesn't know anything about it... and McCain is talking through his hat when he says there's strong evidence linking thimerosal to it.

Trumpit said...

My friend was required by law to give his little poodle a rabies shot every year. Poor thing reacted terribly to the vaccine and died at the age of four. Is the law an ass or what? What was the chance that that poodle was going to carry rabies and then bite someone. It's a sorry, horrible conspiracy by the vaccine makers.

On a recent visit to my new doctor (my old one retired), the doctor rushed into the room and proceeded to inject me twice with two vaccines - one for the flu, and the other for pneumonia. It happened so fast that I wasn't in a position to give my consent. Naturally, over the next 3 months, I came down with the flu 3 TIMES. NEVER AGAIN will I allow a duped doctor to injected me with poison. It's a sorry, horrible conspiracy by the vaccine makers. Sorry, but you're a fool if you get those shots; take vitamin c.

Original Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Original Mike said...

Beth said: Any reasonably intelligent and well-informed person has heard of this "controversy," would not say stupid things about it, and would fire an advisor who did.

So that would explain Robert Kennedy Jr.

MadisonMan said...

Paul, we're either talking past each other, or agreeing, I'm not sure. I do not claim that scientists should be making policy. But if you're paying scientists to be expert, and you consult and then ignore them, why even pay them to begin with? That seems like a waste of money to me.

Trumpit said...

There was a series of articles in the NY times recently about the contamination of sushi, mostly tuna, with high levels of mercury. Yet it's still allowed to be sold and people are still buying it. Poisoned world and poisoned minds.

Paul Zrimsek said...

So how do you tell when the scientists are being ignored (bad), and when they're merely not being allowed to set policy (good)?

Trumpit said...

To my mind, the issue hasn't been settled. Perhaps the vaccine itself was/is contributing to the "outbreak" of autism. Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

SGT Ted said...

Madison Man,

Washington State Associate climatologist Mark Albright http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=21207 is one guy.

Oregon State climatologist Professor George Taylor http://www.kgw.com/news-local/stories/kgw_020607_news_taylor_title.59f5d04a.html

Virginias State climatologist Professor Patrick Michaels http://eteam.ncpa.org/commentaries/state-climatologists-attacked-for-global-warming-doubts

Delaware climatologist David Legates http://eteam.ncpa.org/commentaries/state-climatologists-attacked-for-global-warming-doubts

All for denying AGW.

MadisonMan said...

I'm assuming that some scientist, somewhere, has views that are shaping the policy decision. I hope so, at least. I don't elect a President on their scientific abilities. What is the background of that person? (Or people?) Do they publish research? Get grants? Give talks at conferences? In short, do they have scientific credibility? IF the scientists helping to shape policy have no credibility, I don't think the policy being enacted can be scientifically sound.

Uncredible (non-credible?) scientists propose theories that are unsupported by facts. One reads that someone believes a theory -- that's nonsense talking. Either the facts fit the theory or they don't. Belief is for religion.

TMink said...

Michael wrote: "you would realise that "science" doesn't know anything about the condition."

First, I am so sorry about your child. I want to encourage you to not give up, that continued relational interactions with your child have been shown to have slow but cumulative effects.

And while it is true that brain research is still in its infancy concerning autism spectrum disorders, there are some very intresting and promising results coming out from the more advanced brain scanning technology.

The day will likely come where stem cells developed from cloned cells from patients will be used to ameliorate autistic symptoms. The science is young, but it is an important and vigorous area of research, and there are brand new tools to help.

So hold on to your hope. There are good solid reasons to believe that help is on the way.

Trey

MadisonMan said...

Sgt: thanks for the links, very interesting reading.

Here's my added input: The kerfuffle at Washington reads like a University turf war to me. The head guy didn't like what his sub-ordinate was doing (and note that neither position is official; they are performed in addition to other duties) and told him to leave. Of course, that doesn't quash the facts: Bad analysis parameters were chosen, and the first numbers are not scientifically valid. One wonders when U. Washington colleagues will disinvite the climatologist from doing those tasks. So I'd say the Assoc. climatologist wasn't fired for going against AGW (well, he wasn't fired at all, just told to focus on the other aspects of his job), he was fired for stepping on the overinflated ego of his boss. The right thing would be for the state climatologist to admit to his rather large ego and stop being a control freak. Apparently Mr. Albright, who was re-assigned, does good work. That's the kind of scientist people should want working for them. Moral of the story: Facts cannot be argued against, successfully.

As far as I can tell, the other examples are of people threatened, but nothing's happened. I chuckled at the Oregon Climatologists' words: "There are a lot of people saying the bulk of the warming of the last 50 years is due to human activities and I don't believe that's true." . Show me the facts. What you believe isn't science, it's belief.

One final thing: Don't think that the title President of the American Association of State Climatologists is a big deal. There are < 50 of them, and you become President when no one else volunteers :)

Okay, one final final thing. The problem with AGW is that its effects grow to absorb everything. Every single pollutant lately, it seems, has to be fought because of Global Warming. Nonsense. Pollution should be mitigated because clean air and clean water are something that everyone wants. Alas, so many anti-pollution groups have hitched their wagons to the AGW train. I think that's a mistake.

Tibore said...

"To my mind, the issue hasn't been settled. Perhaps the vaccine itself was/is contributing to the "outbreak" of autism. Wouldn't surprise me in the least."

I'm sorry sir (or ma'am), but the thesis that any vaccine has contributed to any "outbreak" of autism is not correct. Multiple studies have uncovered zero correlation of any vaccine with rise in autism rates. The only study who's author tried to even propose a relationship - Andrew Wakefield - did not actually establish any link (See here for the long explanation: Link). And many others - here's one for comparison: "No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence
of autism: a total population study"
- very strongly disputes any thought of correlation (BTW, this link is to that "Japan" study I mentioned earlier).

There is no linkage between any vaccines, whether they contain thimerosal or not, and autism. Multiple studies have been done on this, none have discovered correlation, let alone established what mechanism any vaccine component would use to induce such an effect.

More links:

"VACCINES & AUTISM: Myths and Misconceptions"

Quackwatch: Misconceptions about Immunization

Science Museum: The MMR Files

Autism Blog: Andrew Wakefield and the death of the MMR debacle

Trumpit said...

I just explained my personal bad experience with the flu vaccine, so lady or man, you are preaching to the wrong person. Inject that poison into yourself and have a nice cancer. Best of luck to you! Btw, I have no respect for Quackwatch. It is a purely pro medical establishment website and anti anything that goes against doctors and pharmaceutical companies and their profits. The guy who started that was some crappy retired doctor who has no special training in what is true quackery. Much true quackery resides in the medical profession itself.

Tibore said...

No link between vaccines and cancer either.

;)

Revenant said...

if all of you out there who so smugly put down people who believe that there is a connection between vaccination and autism actually had a child with autism, you would realise that "science" doesn't know anything about the condition.

You don't have to know what causes a condition to know what DOESN'T cause it. You've heard the expression "correlation doesn't mean causation"? Well, here's another truism: if there's no correlation, there's no causation. If people exposed to factor X are no more likely to suffer condition Y than people who AREN'T exposed to factor X, factor X cannot be the cause of Y.

Vaccinated children are no more likely to develop autism than unvaccinated children. Study after study has established this. This proves that vaccines are not causing autism, because if they were then unvaccinated children would be less likely to get it. They aren't. QED.

former law student said...

My friend was required by law to give his little poodle a rabies shot every year. Poor thing reacted terribly to the vaccine and died at the age of four. Is the law an ass or what?

A true shame. Nowadays the rabies vaccine is good for three years. Vaccine titers can be performed to check the level of antibodies in the dog's system -- in a rational world sufficient antibodies would mean you wouldn't have to vaccinate for a while.

Sarah said...

The whole foundation was misleading. That's not what the Vaccine board found.

http://newsroom.hrsa.gov/releases/2008/vaccinestatement.htm

Crimso said...

"Sorry, but you're a fool if you get those shots; take vitamin c."

Good luck to you. Hope that ascorbate will keep you from getting polio or smallpox...

Blake said...

I think the Japanese have the final word on this, though I can't find the studies, dammit. I believe they postponed the vaccines till the kids were five (which is pretty safe and probably wise, with some caveats) with no reduction in autism et al.

Which isn't, it should be pointed out, evidence that vaccines aren't causing other problems, nor that vaccines in an uncontrolled environment are not responsible for mischief.

Beth said...

Original Mike,

You're not quoting me. Read the comments again.

Blake said...

Jim Hansen is a hack, I'm afraid. His was the hockey stick, and it was wrong. This doesn't stop the AGW people from talking about it, unfortunately. (The hockey stick caused the initial attention-grabbing alarm.)

This is self-evident, but it bears repeating: computer models of systems that aren't well understood shouldn't be trusted. It's too, too easy to game the system.

I'm afraid Jim Hansen's greatest contributions will turn out to be The Muppet Movie and dying of pneumonia. Wait, that's not right....

Original Mike said...

Oops, sorry Beth. The comment didn't really need an attribution, actually. I just didn't want to plagiarize.

Blake said...

Sarah, your link didn't make it.

Beth said...

Mike, I didn't want to take credit, either.

We're bucking the tide, though. Plagiarism's all the rage these days.

Smilin' Jack said...

Beth said...
I don't know where you think you're disagreeing with me, Jack. The problem is that he's tagged Coburn as his go-to guy on such issues and thus will continue to uninformed.


You might need an advisor to help you say smart things, but you shouldn't need one to avoid saying stupid things. Coburn is just a symptom of the underlying problem: McCain himself is not too bright.

Trumpit said...

http://video.google.com/videoplay?
docid=6890106663412840646

McCain is right and the creatures calling him a fool are pompous, smug fools instead.

Crimso said...

"McCain is right and the creatures calling him a fool are pompous, smug fools instead."

Or maybe just scientists.

Trumpit said...

Yes, the majority of influenza vaccines distributed in the United States currently contain thimerosal as a preservative. -CDC

Enjoy your yearly flu shot, folks.

A votre sante!

Elliott A said...

The Delaware climatologist was slated to be fired for failure to support the governor's official pronouncement of the veracity of AGW. A scientist to be removed because his views are against the executive branch's policy. As we have seen with us attorney firings by the Bush administration, constitutions often allow people to be removed from state or federal jobs by the executive at their suffrance. He would have been better off going back to his full time university job, and working to disprove teh state's position.

That being said, McCain is an AGW believer, and at this point sacrificing our economic future to CO2 reduction qualifies as stupid.

Trumpit said...

Elliot A.,

How many kids teeth have you filled with toxic amalgam today? Imagine how much sickness you've caused throughout your career with those poisonous black fillings. They also make dentists sick, and crazy by the way. You should worry about your own misdeeds, rather than trying to prove global warming is a hoax. The hoax is on your patients.

MadisonMan said...

The Delaware climatologist was slated to be fired for failure to support the governor's official pronouncement of the veracity of AGW.

What an interesting way to write that the climatologist was not in fact fired and was complimented for his work by the Governor of Delaware!

MadisonMan said...

blake: The scientists behind the hockey stick graph were Mann, Bradley and Hughes. Or Mann and Jones. Not Hansen.

Revenant said...

This new trolling strategy of Trumpit's is pretty interesting -- ranting against vaccinations and tooth fillings? Any bets on what's next? I'm going to guess fluoridation.

Crimso said...

"Yes, the majority of influenza vaccines distributed in the United States currently contain thimerosal as a preservative"

I'll bet there's more carbon in them than mercury, at least on a molar (no intended pun on your concerns WRT dental fillings...) basis.

Crimso said...

And we all know about the hazards of carbon.

Elliott A said...

Trumpit-

I have yet to be convinced that amalgams have any ill effects based on their chemistry. However, I haven't had any in my office since 1992 since they are inferior to tooth colored fillings for the following reasons:

1. They require removal of additional healthy tooth structure. To me this is unethical.

2. Since they expand and contract at different rates than the teeth, they cause fractures. Often these result in tooth loss.

3. A recent in vivo study found that 65% of amalgams deemed servicable by a team of clinicians both on radiograph and physical exam had decay underneath, and another 40% had fractures. Thus, you don't know they have failed until too late.

Of interest is that the state of Virginia as well as all other 49 deem amalgam scrap to be hazardous waste. The amalgam is not allowed into any sewer system. Interesting for such safe material.

As for AGW, I never said it was a hoax. I believe, based on my science background and experience peer reviewing articles for scientific and professional journals that there is insufficient evidence to support drastic action of any type, just as I do not believe amalgam should be banned for its potential toxicity. Until you can prove cause and effect, until you can be sure the climate models are correct, until you can trust the measurements and until you can quantify our ability to mitigate the warming if we are in fact causing it, a reasonable person would advise much more study but no drastic action. No science is "fact" until you have repeatable outcomes of experiments or studies. Hasn't hapened yet.

Elliott A said...

Ann is on cspan2 now

Trumpit said...

Elliott,
Congratulation for having the good sense to remove amalgam from your practice, even if you fail to comprehend the danger to your patients and yourself. Evidently, Thimerasol is even more deadly because it's an organic ethylmercury compound.

Even inorganic Hg is toxic as I learned many years ago when some fellow student broke a thermometer in chemistry class and tried to hide the resulting toxic spill, exposing the class to harm. Fortunately, the teacher took control of the situation and poured sulfur on the liquid mercury prior to collecting and disposing of the hazardous waste.

Elliott A said...

trumpit-

The mercury in amalgam is chemically bound in a molecule and is not elemental. An analogy is salt. Sodium explodes rather violently when placed in contact with water and chlorine is deadly. Yet salt is about as innocuous as a substance can get. Many studies have found the amount of mercury reacting OUT of the amalgam to be so negligible as to be well below the background exposure. Back in the late 60's we used to play with mercury in chemistry class to help appreciate its unique properties. Hence, I am as I am now.

Blake said...

Curiously enough MadMan, those guys did pretty much the same thing.

Hansen finally released his, at least. I'm not sure those guys ever did.

MadisonMan said...

I find the clamor for source code a little distasteful. If I've developed code that shows something -- Ms. Anne Elk is coming to mind here -- then it's mine (or it belongs to whomever paid my salary). Demanding something is rude.

Reproducibility is all in scientific experimentation. If a result cannot be duplicated, that says something. Crying that you can't get someone's code smacks of witchhuntery to me. Do the work yourself, you lazy people (that is a generic you) and see if you can reproduce the results. If you can't, publish it.

Science is not a blog post to be fisked.

Crimso said...

The journals I publish in typically have as a precondition that any unique reagents used in any submitted manuscripts be made freely available to others. Source code does not equal reagents, but the whole point behind the unique reagents stipulation should still stand: to allow others to verify what you've done. If it's something so super-secret you won't allow anyone to verify it, it doesn't get published.

MadisonMan said...

I think there's a difference between providing a reagent -- which I would consider data -- and source code. (Maybe it's my physical science vs. life science background talking). It's my understanding that the data used in most climate studies are available. How those data are processed are part of the journal article, and if there's source code doing the processing?

Well, Source code should be reproducible. The idea of a journal article is to say what you did and how you did it. Then if people find it interesting, they can go do some work and see if they get the same result.

Attacking an article because you don't like the results, well that seems distinctly unscientific to me. Demanding to see the code is insulting -- it presupposes an important code error exists.

Crimso said...

"it presupposes an important code error exists."

And whether or not that is the case can't possibly be determined if the code is kept secret. It is not entirely unknown in science for individuals to go to labs and use not only their reagents but also their instruments in an attempt to determine why previously published research is not reproducible. I view anyone who refuses to allow a strict reproduction of the research as fundamentally dishonest. If their source code is so precious that it needs to b kept secret, then they shouldn't be publishing anything they get from it. As for physical science vs. life science, I'm not sure on which side you think I am. I have graduate degrees in both engineering and biochemistry. To me, the key word is "science."

MadisonMan said...

And whether or not that is the case can't possibly be determined if the code is kept secret.

I don't think that's true. If you have the data -- and it's freely available -- and an understanding of how the data are processed -- which is described in the journal article -- what's to stop anyone from reproducing the results? If you cannot reproduce them, that's a notable result as well that should be published. If the code is so secret that the full details aren't available in the journal article (I'm not sure if they are or not, it's not my branch of the field), then I agree that the article in question should not have been published. If the tools for reproducibility aren't there, it's not journalworthy.

I'm reminded of cold fusion in the 80s. As soon as that was published, people tried to reproduce the results and couldn't. The doubters didn't immediately demand access to -- what's his name, the guy from Utah's -- lab. It was the non-reproducibility that was the publishable result.

Crimso said...

"which is described in the journal article"

In my expeience it is sadly common for individuals to leave out crucial details in their Materials and Methods section. This is likely an oversight in most cases, but I have the personal experience of having wasted months in the lab because a crucial detail was omitted. YMMV.

Original Mike said...

It's my experience that by the time the reviewers get done with a paper, the careful description of the Methods is left on the cutting room floor in the interest of "brevity".

Blake said...

MM,

Science is not...to be fisked.

Just thought I'd eliminate the superfluous part of your sentence so that I could completely disagree with you.

Science is ALL about "fisking". How else do you test the truth but by challenging each and every assumption the experimenters made?

Also code is code: It's a mathematical formula that is the clearest expression of what's being done.

Would you say, "No, Newton, we don't need any more explanation than you writing down that the acceleration achieved on an object by a certain force is relative to its mass"? Rather than the more precise f=ma?

"Never mind, Einstein, about that speed-of-light-squared formula, just describe for us what you mean."

No, if we are to accept these numbers, we should be able to see how they were arrived at.

For example, some say that the Mann (et al) algorithm looked for hockey sticks. Without the code, we can neither deny nor confirm. It may be (as I've heard suggested) that it works in a sort-of feedback loop, in which case "looking" for hockey sticks could be appropriate. But even then, we'd need to understand the mechanics of what that involved.

MadisonMan said...

Blake: Science is ALL about "fisking". How else do you test the truth but by challenging each and every assumption the experimenters made?

I'm quibbling with your methods, that's all. You don't learn unless you reproduce (or try to) someone else's work. That's done by doing the work yourself, not by appropriating someone else's work and examining it for errors (which IMO is really pretty lazy science). If there are errors, your own original work should reveal them.

original mike: things taken out for clarity or brevity should find their way to an appendix. That's been my suggestion in the past, at least.

Blake said...

I'm quibbling with your methods, that's all. You don't learn unless you reproduce (or try to) someone else's work. That's done by doing the work yourself, not by appropriating someone else's work and examining it for errors (which IMO is really pretty lazy science). If there are errors, your own original work should reveal them.

Bah. If you don't show your work, you shouldn't be surprised if people think you cheated. (And, in fact, Hansen did. The fact that he forced his work to be reverse engineered to determine that makes him look corrupt, rather than just mistaken.)

Blake said...

By the way, in science, there is no such thing as "quibbling over methods" (at least not the way I see it).

There is one method. You either followed it or you didn't.