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The Nobel Disease strikes again: Luc Montagnier goes full antivax, with a little help from Henri Joyeux

“Nobel disease” is a term designed to describe whatever it is that drives some Nobel laureates to embrace pseudoscience or quackery later in their careers. One of its most prominent victims, Luc Montagnier, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus, recently demonstrated that he’s still suffering from Nobel disease when he laid down a barrage of antivaccine pseudoscience in Paris earlier this month.

Over the years, I’ve noted how eminent scientists, scientists so eminent and respected that they’ve won the Nobel Prize in their field, have later descended into the rabbit hole of pseudoscience. The first such Nobel Laureate who comes to mind is always Linus Pauling, who in his later years endorsed the dubious and unproven idea that vitamin C (ascorbate) could cure the common cold and cancer. Not surprisingly, given that Pauling was a chemist, his clinical trial methodology was atrocious, but unfortunately he spawned a cottage industry of quackery in the form of boosting the standing of “orthomolecular medicine,” which basically preaches that, if some vitamin is good, a whole lot of vitamin is better and has led to truly dangerous nonsense, like claims that high dose vitamin C can be used to successfully treat Ebola and polio. Closely related to orthomolecular medicine is functional medicine, a form of quackery in which massive overtesting is used to measure every biological molecule under the sun, after which the functional medicine doctor will try to correct all abnormalities, basically making it up as he goes along. Although it’s not orthomolecular medicine, functional medicine is based on the same sort of dubious ideas that Pauling promoted. As for cancer, the best that can be said about high dose vitamin C is that it might have some mild anticancer activity, but that the doses required are so high that it’s really a long run for a short slide.

Another example of a Nobel Laureate who went off the rails is Louis Ignarro, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering nitric oxide signaling pathways. I encountered him 11 years ago as a keynote speaker at the Academic Surgical Congress in San Diego, where, after his discussion of discovering nitric oxide signaling pathways concluded, he launched into what could only be described as an infomercial for his book, NO More Heart Disease: How Nitric Oxide Can Prevent–Even Reverse–Heart Disease and Strokes, in which he hawked arginine supplements that supposedly ramp up the nitric oxide signaling system to prevent or reverse atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. I later learned that Dr. Ignarro had gone all in as a paid shill for HerbaLife, hawking his own supplement Niteworks, and that still later he became a member of HerbaLife’s Nutrition Advisory Board. He even published a PNAS article touting arginine supplementation in which he failed to disclose his financial interest with Herbalife. Then there was Nikolaas Tinbergen, whose adoption of the “refrigerator mother” hypothesis as the cause of autism in his Nobel lecture led Prometheus to quip that Tinbergen’s Nobel acceptance speech represented a “nearly unbeatable record for shortest time between receiving the Nobel Prize and saying something really stupid about a field in which the recipient had little experience.”

I even coined a term for Nobel Laureates devolving into nonsense and pseudoscience: The Nobel Disease. (At least, I think I coined it. Someone else might have; I can’t show that I was the first to ever use it, although The Skeptic’s Dictionary does credit me. I’ll take it.) There are quite a few other Nobel Laureates who have gone down the same sort of rabbit hole, such as James Watson, Kary Mullis, William Shockley, and more. However, the biggest baddest case of Nobel Disease of all, to me, has to belong to Nobel Laureate Luc Luc Montagnier, who won his Nobel Prize as co-discoverer of the AIDS virus. He’s not only embraced The One Quackery To Rule Them All (homeopathy), but he’s embraced a wide variety of autism quackery as well, including (of course) the scientifically discredited idea that vaccines cause autism, as well as pseudoscience claiming “DNA teleportation.” He’s even spoken at the autism quackfest known as AutismOne and appeared in Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine propaganda “documentary” VAXXED.

The problem, of course, with Nobel Laureates who contract the Nobel Disease and start spewing pseudoscience is that they have enormous influence and, because of their previous scientific accomplishments, are justly highly respected in the scientific community. Among non-scientists, they are correctly viewed as authorities in their area of science and, often not-so-correctly, as authorities in science and medicine in general. So when someone like Luc Montagnier lays down a swath of antivaccine pseudoscience, the merry band of antivaccine propagandists at that wretched hive of scum and quackery, Age of Autism, rejoice. Unfortunately, they were rejoicing the other day when they noted that Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Luc MontaignerSpeaks About Vaccines and SIDS. Yes, Nobel Laureate Luc Montagnier and Henri Joyeux, Laureate of the Antoine Lacassagne Cancer Prize awarded by the Ligue Nationale contre le Cancer. Unfortunately, Joyeux, like Montagnier, later went a bit woo, so to speak, and has even been known to do a dubious study of religious ecstacy and claiming that visions of the Virgin Mary seen at Medjugorje “cannot be explained scientifically.” His website features a section on the “dangers” of vaccines. Yes, Montaigner and Joyeux held a press conference against “la dictature vaccinale” (“vaccine dictatorship”). Yes, that’s how the press conference was described. You can see the interview for yourself here, but it’s in French:

I used to speak pretty good French, but unfortunately decades of disuse have led to the atrophy of my ability to speak the language and understand it when natives are speaking it normally; so I could only understand the gist of much of what they said and clearly missed a lot. Unfortunately, I could not find a complete transcript. Fortunately, for the French-impaired among us, I could find a joint statement released by Montagnier and Joyeux, summarizing seven key points that they wanted to emphasize. There are also news reports in French that Google can translate and whose translation I can use my remaining knowledge of French to clean up and make less awkward, for instance Du mauvais théâtre contre les vaccins (Bad theater against vaccines), Les mauvais arguments d’un Nobel de médecine devenu anti-vaccin (The bad arguments of a Nobel Laureate in Medicine become antivaccine), and Vaccins: décryptage de l’étrange conférence de presse des professeurs Luc Montagnier et Henri Joyeux (Vaccines: Decryption of the strange press conference of professors Luc Montagnier and Henry Joyeux).

The Press conference was touted on Joyeux’s Facebook page thusly:

Note the line, “Oui au vaccins, non aux 11 vaccinations” (“yes to vaccines, no to the 11 vaccinations”; i.e., the 11 compulsory vaccinations in the sixth week required by the French government). This is obviously intended to make it seem as though Montagnier and Joyeux are not antivaccine, although they can’t help but mention the “toxicity” of adjuvants such as aluminum and notice how Joyeux notes that Montagnier would ” intervene more specifically on the risk of sudden infant death.” Great, I thought. A Nobel Laureate pushing one of the two most vile lies about vaccines of all, that it causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). (The other most vile lie is that shaken baby syndrome is a “misdiagnosis” of vaccine injury.) Not surprisingly, all the news stories I found note that both Montagnier and Joyeux began the press conference in the same way that antivaxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. always begins any interview or talk about vaccines, by strongly proclaiming that they are “not antivaccine.” In this case, point one of their summary reads:

We are not against vaccinations, contrary to what is broadcast by the media and by media communicators, including doctors, under the direct or indirect influence of manufacturing laboratories. Vaccine science is complex, and our environment has changed a lot in the last century, making mass immunizations difficult as before.

How tiresome. Combine the “I’m not ‘antivaccine'” lie with the pharma shill gambit directed against those who point out quite correctly that you’re spreading antivaccine misinformation. Seriously, there’s no better way to show yourselve to be antivaccine than to lead with the pharma shill gambit—or to advertise your press conference with the claim that vaccines are linked to SIDS, for that matter. They are not.

Point two is a parade of antivaccine tropes:

We oppose for 3 essential reasons the vaccination requirement of the 11 vaccines proposed from the 6th week of life of the infant, whose immune defenses are still developing:

– the sum of the proposed vaccines injects the infant with excessive amounts of aluminum, a bio-persistent adjuvant that has demonstrated its harmfulness locally at the injection site and also its penetration in the form of aluminum aggregates to the brain and other areas of the body (bones, kidneys) as has been demonstrated in workers breathing dust during the extraction of bauxite (occupational diseases).

In addition, aluminum found in veterinary vaccines has been shown to be toxic to animals, directly or indirectly responsible for sarcomas (poor-prognosis cancers) in the vaccination area within 3 years post vaccination and in other areas of the country. body 5 years later: osteosarcomas, fibrosarcomas, chondrosarcomas, in the limbs, thorax and abdomen. Would our cats be better cared for than our children, since aluminum was removed from veterinary vaccines by a Sanofi subsidiary?

– the excess of vaccines can be responsible for sudden infant death in the days or months following vaccination: 250 to 300 cases are listed in France, 25% of cases have no specific cause. According to a scientific survey conducted for a trial in the United States, hypervaccination would trigger the sudden formation of cytokines, inflammatory molecules toxic to a fragile organism.

– vaccination against hepatitis B for a 6 weeks old infant has no health interest and may be harmful in the future, especially responsible for allergic phenomena, autoimmune diseases including neuro-degenerative diseases, sclerosis in particular plaques, in children or adolescents.

Let’s deal with the SIDS issue first, because it’s the most despicable, fear mongering statement that the two brought up. I’ve discussed this bogus claim many times before. There is no link between SIDS and vaccination. The reason antivaxers think that there is a correlation is because the incidence of SIDS spikes at around 3 months, which is a time when several vaccines are administered. There have been a number of studies showing that, if anything, vaccines might protect against SIDS, for instance, this case-control study, where the authors concluded:

The age distribution of SIDS cases in Germany shows a peak at the age of 3 months. This is the time when the first immunisations are given. If immunisation increased the risk of SIDS one would expect a higher immunisation rate among the SIDS cases compared to the control infants. In the GeSID the opposite was the case. More controls were immunised and the control infants started their immunisation schedule earlier. Even when the data were restricted to the 14 days prior to death/interview, there was no increase risk for SIDS from immunisation.

There are also several other such studies that find no positive relationship between vaccination and SIDS, considered more than sufficient to consider the likelihood of a link between the two to be as close to zero as science can estimate. In fact, if there is any correlation at all, it is a negative correlation, with vaccines being protective against SIDS. Indeed, there are even enough studies looking at the relationship between vaccines and SIDS that a meta-analysis could be done. Not surprisingly, this meta-analysis of published SIDS studies agrees and found the relative risk of SIDS in vaccinated babies to be 0.54. Does that mean that vaccination is protective against SIDS? Not necessarily, but it sure does mean that vaccination doesn’t increase the risk of SIDS. Montagnier is, quite simply, mistaken in the worst possible way. My only surprise is that they didn’t mention the dubious Vaccine Court decision that seemed to conclude erroneously that vaccines do cause SIDS.

As for aluminum adjuvants, their safety has been demonstrated over many years. I’ve discussed this many times as well, particularly how the fear mongering about aluminum adjuvants is just that, fear mongering without a scientific basis. No, really. The arguments and “science” demonizing aluminum adjuvants as a cause of autism are bad. Aluminum adjuvants don’t kill. They don’t cause premature ovarian failure. The science claiming to find harm from aluminum adjuvants is uniformly awful and often results in retraction or relies on cherry picking and bias.

And don’t even get me started on Joyeux and Montangier’s nonsense about the hepatitis B birth dose. There is no good evidence that the hepatitis B vaccine is associated with any of the adverse health outcomes described, and, contrary to their assertion, it does have very definite health benefits.

I suppose I should be less disturbed that this not-so-dynamic duo are OK with diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccination before 18 months, calling it “reasonable”—as long as the vaccine is manufactured without aluminum adjuvant. Joyeux, I note, promoted a petition to return to the version of this vaccine without aluminum (a petition that has, unfortunately, garnered well over a million signatures), and I can’t help but note that the two claim that the reason the vaccine contains aluminum is because it’s more profitable. So even while seeming to support one vaccine, Joyeux and Montagnier can’t help but invoke antivaccine pseudoscience. Oh, and the petition notes that the Infanrix (hexavalent vaccine DTPolio-Hib-Pertussis-Hepatitis B) also contains formaldehyde. The horror, the horror. (That’s sarcasm. The infant’s body makes more formaldehyde as a result of metabolism than any vaccine provides.)

The rest of the statement veers between the perfectly uncontroversial (breastfeeding is good) to classic Andrew Wakefield pseudoscience claiming that the MMR vaccine is harmful and invoking the “CDC whistleblower” conspiracy theory, or, as they characterize it, injecting “attenuated viruses that are not safe in fragile infants.” Wrong. And, of course, there’s the classic dubious appeal to “vaccine freedom.” He also blames vaccines for multiple sclerosis,

Through it all, Joyeux and Montagnier laid down the antivaccine pseudoscience hot and heavy. Some quotes:

We are here to launch an alert, to the whole country, to the world. I would like to warn about sudden infant death. This is a terrible thing, the cause is unknown, but there are scientific facts, showing that many of these deaths occur after vaccination. We cannot demonstrate causality, but there is a temporal relationship.

No, vaccines don’t cause SIDS.

Montagnier:

They are responsible for an immune storm in the infant.

No, as Brigitte Autran of the Pierre and Marie Curie Faculty of Medicine in Paris, a vaccine specialist. puts it:

These famous ‘cytokine storms’ are associated with infections. Not vaccinating the child increases the risk of infection and therefore that of overproduction of cytokines, which could be fatal. If there is indeed a production of protective cytokines after vaccination, it is not a cytokine “storm” and no scientific study shows a link between vaccination and cytokine storm.

Finally, Montagnier:

What is at stake is mass vaccination, it must disappear.

That sounds pretty antivaccine to me, regardless of what Montagnier claims about not being antivaccine.

Nobel Laureates are basically rock stars in the world of science. Their words carry more weight than the average scientists, and the press and public take what they say seriously, even if they are pontificating on science outside their area of expertise. That’s why the Nobel Disease is so dangerous. When a Nobel Laureate starts promoting antivaccine ideas, people listen, even if that Nobel Laureate, like Luc Montagnier, has no background in pediatrics, vaccine science, epidemiology, or neurodevelopmental disorders.

If you think being a Nobel Laureate immunizes you from the Dunning-Kruger effect and the arrogance of ignorance that goes along with it, think again. I’ve come to wonder if, thanks to all the adulation they receive, Nobel Laureates might actually be more prone to Dunning-Kruger effects than the general population when they wander outside their area of expertise.

By Orac

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

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

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

To contact Orac: [email protected]

47 replies on “The Nobel Disease strikes again: Luc Montagnier goes full antivax, with a little help from Henri Joyeux”

Joyeux, like Montagnier, later went a bit woo, so to speak, and has even been known to do a dubious study of religious ecstacy and claiming that visions of the Virgin Mary seen at Medjugorje “cannot be explained scientifically.”

Not so much woo as politics… Joyeux is an ultra-Catholic ultra-rightwinger (of a kind that was popular in France in the 1930s). Writes books about the Breakdown of the Family; has an organisation “Familles de France”. One aspect of his antivax lobbying is that vaccination programs treat children as members of society at large, rather than as the exclusive property of their parents, therefore they are EVILS and it only remains to find out how they are evil.

Ah, yes, and he thinks that cancer can be prevented by proper diet. And purity of essence.

Luc Montagnier: “I am not anti-vaccine.”
Richard Nixon: “I am not a crook.”

I don’t find Montagnier’s denial any more convincing than Nixon’s was.

I really don’t understand antivaxxers. Especially if they are in their 50s or older. Yes, they (we) may have survived what are now VPDs with few or no complications. That doesn’t mean everyone did. In my experience, I can readily recall several friends who had problems (sepsis, staph infection, severe scarring) from chicken pox. That’s not counting my sister who was a baby and had a mild case, and then caught it again as a mid-teen and was very ill – needing hospitalization. And the shingles she got a few years ago.

My mom had friends die from measles and become sterile or deaf from mumps. Her own brother nearly died from measles. (And yes, they had a mostly organic diet since my MD grandfather was paid often in produce rather than money from his farming patients)
But to the antivaxxers, the deaths of children not their own obviously don’t count.

As for autism… my mom’s cousin, who today would be diagnosed with autism, back in the 1930s was kept home and considered “so naughty” when he had meltdowns. Then he also vanished into an institution and wasn’t mentioned again. My brother would probably be considered a bit Aspie these days. Same for my paternal grandfather, and a few of my uncles. The only vaccine any of THEM got was small pox as it was required for school. While my mom got all the vaccines as they came along – with a GP father who KNEW what VPDs could do and saw vaccines as a blessing from heaven – my dad and his siblings got very few because his parents didn’t have the money. The first time my dad was fully vaccinated was when he did his draft duty during the Korean War.

I saw you mentioned a petition to go back to a non-adjuvanted version. But reading the petition it seems to talk about DT-polio, not including pertussis. Is there any version with pertussis that is non-adjuvanted? I can’t find it, and without it, it will still leave one pretty important disease out.

Yes Dorit, you are correct: DT-polio doesn’t include pertussis antigens, which from a pediatric perspective is “one pretty important disease” to say the least. Because in France DT-polio vaccination was mandatory (and still is, until a planned change in 2018 to make 11 vaccinations mandatory) such vaccines were manufactured for an albeit small market compared with the rest of the world. Not surprisingly, as manufacturers have developed broader combination vaccines for global use that are as effective as DT-polio or DPT vaccines there has been a shift to provide more VPD protection in a single injection (which the petitioners apparently consider is a BAD thing; go figure).

I’m not aware of nor can I find a modern D/T or P containing vaccine that doesn’t have an alum adjuvant. Historically adding alum to D/T/P vaccines has shown an improved immune response and duration of protection, so unless there is some new technology it would be difficult to obtain a license without it for such vaccines.

Keep in mind that the public health authorities and regulators in France gave us the manufactroversy known as Multifocal Myofasciitis (MMF), unique in that it was purportedly an alum vaccine-related disease limited to the borders of France. Although science prevailed in debunking the alleged problem, many French remain convinced that alum in vaccines is evil (even a Nobel Laureate as it turns out).

Keep in mind that the public health authorities and regulators in France gave us the manufactroversy known as Multifocal Myofasciitis (MMF), unique in that it was purportedly an alum vaccine-related disease limited to the borders of France.

Can’t really blame the public-health authorities and regulators for inventing MMF, when it’s Gherardi’s creation — his claim to fame and riches.
Now it is true that the French vaccine-safety agency ANSM did give Gherardi €150,000 to continue his research, in the hope of showing that they were open-minded and not trying to Suppress the Truth. Of course it didn’t work; Gherardi spent it all, went back demanding another €550,000, and since he didn’t get it, he has been blubbing to the French press about how the authorities have been Suppressing his Research and Ignoring his Results.

The story is complicated by the existence of an astroturfed lobby group claiming to represent MMF victims (while broadening the definition of “MMF vaccine damage” to include “any form of unspecific malaise”), who put the squeeze on politicians and called in the rest of the CMRSI-funded Aluminati crowd as Independent Experts to ensure that Gherardi got his original money. A fine display of policy-making by press conference.
http://archive.wikiwix.com/cache/?url=http%3A%2F%2Freseau-environnement-sante.fr%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2012%2F11%2FDP_Conf_Aluminium_vaccinal.pdf

” Would our cats be better cared for than our children..?
That’s just hilarious.

Seriously, he compares miners breathing bauxite dust with vaccination.

Then invoking cats’ vaccination site sarcomas as though that were a common occurrence.

So much woo no wonder AoA cites it.

-btw- their managing editor believes in magic angel numbers ( see @ kimrossi1111). Elevens.

Thanks! While doing my rounds of antivaccinationist websites, I came across Montagnier’s antivaccination stance. Excellent refutation!

While many Nobel Prize winners are major innovators, the Prize has also a history of problems. Egon Moniz, a Portuguese doctor, was given the Prize for pre-frontal lobotomies, a barbaric procedure (Vallenstein, 1986). Jorgen Lehmann, Gothenburg, Sweden, should have received the Prize for his discovery of Para-aminosalicylic acid, a treatment for Tuberculosis; but members of the Nobel committee from Stockholm let their rivalry with Gothenburg dictate their decision. Salman Waxman, who received the Prize for discovery of streptomycin, had actually sent a congratulatory telegram to Lehmann as everyone thought he was a shoe in (Ryan, 1993). Antony Hewitt received the Prize for discovery of pulsars. Only problem, it was his graduate student who noticed something, asked his permission to pursue it which he denied; but she did anyway and he took the credit (Broad, 1982). Rosalyn Franklin, whose crystal radiographs of DNA were the basis for Crick and Watson’s model, wasn’t awarded the Nobel Prize because it isn’t given posthumously. And Einstein was awarded the Prize for the photoelectric effect, though important, the least important of his four discoveries in 1905, including the Special Theory of Relativity and then his, perhaps, greatest discovery in 1915, the General Theory of Relativity.

I have problems with such prizes in general. In some cases, they truly go to some extraordinary breakthrough; but often they single out one or two individuals among a host of many who have made equally good contributions. Science is a collaborative effort and awarding prizes, except under the most extraordinary conditions, goes against the underpinnings of science in my opinion.

And as you have pointed out in several of your articles, as you do in this one, there is a sort of arrogance among some individuals who think that if they have achieved in some area that they can pontificate about other areas to which they haven’t devoted the time and effort to master. And, as you also point out, Linus Pauling being the key example, as they begin to dotter, they go off the deep end. Montangier is 85. Alfred Russel Wallace discovered evolution at the same time as Darwin. He was an excellent naturalist; but later in life became an enthusiast for phrenology, a believer in spiritualism, and, yep, an antivaccinationist.

Besides the Fallacy of post hoc ergo prompter hoc (which includes the problem of selective recall and attention), what often seems unusual, improbable, actually has a much higher probability than people realize. Given the large number of infants who receive shots, the probability that some adverse event will occur, given the frequency of such events in general, is higher than most anticipate or believe (Hand, 2014). As you point out, some vaccines begin at around three months of age, the same time that SIDS incidence spike. Paul Offit writes in one of his books about a young researcher who takes his infant to clinic to get shots; but they were really busy, so he decides to come back another time. That night, tragically, the infant died from SIDS. The researcher remarked that if he had received the shots, it would have been difficult not to believe they were causative.

In any case, great article. Also, I would highly recommend David J. Hand’s book, informative and a fun read.

Willam Broad & Nicholas Wade (1982). Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud an Deceit in the Halls of Science.
David J. Hand (2014). The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events
Happen Every Day.
Frank Ryan (1993). The Forgotten Plague: How the Battle Against Tuberculosis was Won – and Lost.
Elliot S. Vallenstein (1986). Great and Desperate Cures: The Rise and Decline of Psychosurgery and
Other Radical Treatments for Mental Illness.

The Nobel Prizes have an archaic rule that they cannot be awarded to more than three individuals[1]. That may have been an accurate reflection of how science was done circa 1900, but it does not reflect how science is done today. In some areas of physics, it is routine for papers to have thousands of authors. Medicine is not so extreme, but it is not unusual for author lists there to stretch into triple figures.

And yes, there are lots of things the Nobel committee has gotten wrong. Because of the award to Hewitt, some wags call it the No-Bell prize (Bell was the surname of the graduate student in question; most physicists and astrophysicists know the real story there). Even the Peace Prize has some clunkers, e.g., Henry Kissinger in 1973.

But the Nobel committee usually makes good, or at least defensible, choices. As you note, Franklin was not eligible to share the prize awarded to Crick and Watson because she had died, and the rules prohibit posthumous awards. I am likewise not aware of any evidence that Pauling or Montagnier did not deserve their prizes at the time they were awarded. The problem with the latter two is what they did after the prize was awarded. And many other Nobel laureates have retained their sanity through the end of their careers, including Richard Feynman, who went on to coin the term “cargo cult science” to describe the phenomenon of people following what they think are the forms of science without actually doing work that can be called scientific (several cargo cult science practitioners have been recipients of Orac’s respectful insolence).

[1]The Peace Prize can be and sometimes has been awarded to an organization rather than individual(s). But the Sveriges Riksbank Prize, which is not bound by the rules of Alfred Nobel’s will, follows the three person maximum.

Actually, it’s fairly uncommon for author lists in medicine to stretch into triple figures. The only times that happens are for very large multi-institutional clinical trials and sometimes for very large genomics papers, and even then it’s pretty uncommon.

As for Einstein’s Nobel Prize, many of the predictions of the Theory of Relativity weren’t verified until long after Einstein was dead. A few aspects of the theory such as the precession of Mercury and gravitational lensing from the sun were, but many of them, most notably gravitational waves, took a very long time to fully verify. Gravitational waves were only indirectly observed in the 1970s with binary pulsars (resulting in a Nobel prize for those astronomers in 1993), and they weren’t directly observed until 2015 (and this year’s Nobel for some of the people responsible), a hundred years after Einstein first published his landmark papers on GR. Were Einstein still alive at the time (or if those discoveries occurred in his lifetime) he would have undoubtedly shared in the prizes as well. And by the way, the photoelectric effect is a bigger deal than most people seem to think. While seemingly small potatoes compared to general relativity, it managed to establish the fundamental principle of quantum mechanics: the wave-particle duality of nature. Rather ironic for someone who once proclaimed that God does not play dice. 😛

Mercury and gravitational lensing from the sun were, but many of them, most notably gravitational waves, took a very long time to fully verify.

Viz., Vera Rubin syndrome.

Orac,You might want to comment on this study out of the UK.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X17308763
Full .pdf at link.

Frankly I don’t see how the small amount of aluminum in vaccines,injected into muscle,could account for the large amounts they claim in brain tissue,years,even decades,after the fact.If the aluminum concentrations they claim,were there,they would have to have come from other sources,food,prenatal exposures,living near power plants,what have you.I am unfamiliar with the names in this study,it doesn’t seem to be from any of the usual suspects,although the lead author has published before on the subject of aluminum and autism.

It’s Exley. I only glanced at it, but they seem to be unable to decide whether they had samples from five or from 10 donors.

They appear to have used two methods, one a direct measurement of AL in brain tissue which had sample from 5 individuals: Total aluminium was measured in each sample by transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (TH GFAAS). They had samples from 10 individuals they assessed using fluorescence microscopy.

I don’t have a good search engine here at work, Narad, but didn’t they try to publish this exact same stuff a few years ago? I seem to remember the brain studies.

Maybe you are thinking of their 2012 paper:
“Aluminium, iron and copper in human brain tissues donated to the medical research council’s cognitive function and ageing study” (E. House, M. Esiri, G. Forster, P. Ince, C. Exley)

Not knowing better, I have a quick question: is there a reason why aluminum would accumulate somewhere preferentially? I thought the Ksp was pretty small, meaning that it will never be at a higher concentration than at the site of the injection. Seems like entropy would work against accumulation.

Exley and Gherardi have constructed an elaborate just-so story in which macrophages selectively engulf particles of AlO (recognising them as dangerous), and then are seized with a compulsion to migrate from the injection site to the brain. There they pass through the BBB, somehow transform into microglia, and deposit the AlO again. Details vary according to the particular experimental outcomes that need to be accommodated.

MI Dawn: “I really don’t understand antivaxxers. Especially if they are in their 50s or older.”

It’s relatively easy for dim memories and limited sample size to convince these people that VPDs weren’t so bad. I can’t recall any severe outcomes among my classmates in my small school, and though I had virtually all the “routine” diseases endemic before the early ’60s (excepting whooping cough) don’t remember being all that sick myself. My parents recalled things differently, including my having been seriously ill with measles.

I’ve run into the selective memory/nostalgia thing before when arguing with older antivaxers, who were convinced I was a millennial worry-wart until hearing that I’d had many of these diseases as a child, at which point they simply went on to different antivax tropes.

MIDawn: But to the antivaxxers, the deaths of children not their own obviously don’t count.

I’d go one step further: I don’t think even the deaths of their own children would count.Mssrs Joyeux and Montagnier belong to the old school; if they HAD children, they only saw them one day a week, and the family was basically an accessory, not made up of real people. Most modern day anti-vaxxers strongly dislike their kids; kids are the price of admission for a nice suburban life, not something to be desired in and of themselves.

PGP: Stop. Just. Stop. Many antivaxxers love their own children. They just don’t often care about anyone elses.
I don’t mind misanthropes, but you take it WAY too far off the deep end.

@ PGP:

Orac criticises these French dudes for GOING FAR BEYOND their areas of expertise and the information we already have (i.e. studies) and anti-vaxxers go beyond their own abilities habitually;
similarly we can’t go beyond what we know about, say, anti-vaxxers.

We really don’t know these people and how they feel. They may not be horrible except for their beliefs. Although as a psychologist, I do know that sometimes bad qualities go together because of an overarching/ underlying ability or attitude.
This can be a stumbling block for us if we suppose that because a person has no ability to discriminate what is good science they may be faulty at everything else.
ALTHOUGH- I repeat- sometimes qualities go together- people may just have poor judgment in general: they may be self-concerned and disregard others in general.

BUT we don’t know : we haven’t observed them close up or surveyed their personalities and lifestyles. We only know them from what they write or their activities.AND, it is possible that some of them- even many of them- are as you describe them.
But we don’t know for sure.

We should critique what we DO know:
what they write, how they seek to influence others, how they use social media, their books and events. How bad their ideas are.
That should be enough.

PGP, 1) that is super, super unkind and uncalled for. Even awful people want their kids to live (generally). It’s part of being human.
2) They’re not Americans. They’re French. It is a different society with different wants, needs and expectations about family and children. And frankly, a different physical landscape. I’m not sure that France in the 1950’s even had what we would call “suburbs”; it was still recovering from the war and then at least European countries are more about cities and towns and villages than anything we would call a suburb.

Consider yourself fortunate that you do not have wider range of family experience. Some parents do indeed designed to destroy their kids, typically covering that with a layer of false friendship to keep them from figuring it out before they’re done.

I’ve come to wonder if, thanks to all the adulation they receive, Nobel Laureates might actually be more prone to Dunning-Kruger effects than the general population

Also, in order to win the Nobel Prize, recipients likely have a talent for thinking outside the box. The problem is that there is a distance beyond the box where the thinking isn’t rational.

I just got back from Thailand Sunday, During the week I was there, we got my 2 1/2 month stepdaughter (Film, the mother, wouldn’t let me go in because she didn’t want me to Baiboon cry) her 2 month vaccinations. Baiboon had a slight reaction to the shots, slight elevated temp and not as happy the rest of the day as usual. The next day she was her normal self.

I still have a hard time in this day and age believing people can not see the benefits of vaccines. Of course I’ve lived through the times when, measles, mumps, polio and small pox were still rampant not only in the world but also the US.

MIDawn: Stop. Just. Stop. Many antivaxxers love their own children. They just don’t often care about anyone elses.

Have you read any of the writing on AofA or “Thinking Mums?” I’ve seen no evidence of love at either place. They continually denigrate their children, constantly ignore any abilities or good qualities the kids may have, and are known to defend the killings of autistic kids by their parents. Perhaps SOME antivaxxers love their kids, but the well-known anti-vaxxers don’t seem to at all. (For some reason, both places seem to be swarmed by narcissists.)

Perhaps SOME antivaxxers love their kids, but the well-known anti-vaxxers don’t seem to at all.

Be very careful ascribing mental state to other people you have never met.

I would phrase it the other way around: there may be some anti-vax parents who don’t love their kids, but I expect that most do, in their own sick and twisted ways. Denigrating one’s children is not the exclusive provence of anti-vaxers, either. There are lots of ways for a parent-child relationship to be unhealthy, but most of them do not imply that the parent does not love the child.

@ PGP:

I see progress here:

first, you list observations that lead you to believe that these people are as you suggest,
you say perhaps,
you say seem and SOME,
AND you mention NARCISSISM!

I think that many can agree with that.

And I know that sometimes people exaggerate for emphasis:
e.g. If I said, ” That altie crap is the WORST BS I’ve ever read!”
in reality, it probably isn’t the worst but merely a high ranking example.

SO we have to be clear- even about the level of crap we encounter.

PGP,from this comment,it sounds like you may be a believer in neurodiversity.Many neurodiversity advocates are not fully aware of all of the medical,neurological,and other problems that can exist with regressive autism,and how few doctors understand the complex interrelationship of metabolic,immune and genetic conditions that can contribute to this condition.Regressive autism is very different from other types of autism.It is not Asperger’s.It can be a complex web of multiple conditions in the same individual.Only a few doctors get it,both because it is so complex,and because the research is is so new.

I know,because I spent seven years unraveling the cause of my own regressive autism and multiple medical problems,and ended up with two very distinct,and rare,genetic disorders,with two distinct sets of mutations.One a recognized inborn error of metabolism,that supposedly only a couple of dozen cases exist of in the world,the other,a rare disorder,related to a unique expression of a rare cancer gene,that is probably the basis for all of my immune based medical problems.This may not be that unusual for regressive autism.Had I been born two or three decades later with the same conditions,my mother and I might have thought it was vaccines too.My picture is very similar to that of children whose parents say their child was “vaccine damaged”.

Finding out the causes of all this took seven years,from 2009-2016,and involved going to doctors and hospitals in five different states.Not to mention countless thousands of hours online,perusing medical journals and pestering researchers with questions by email.I started from ground zero,so to speak,I had just come though an acute bout of meningitis,and had another major regression.And yes,regression is often a lifelong thing,it happens over and over again,unless the underlying causes are addressed.Any fever,or severe stress to the body,can cause regression.This was the same infection that caused my initial regression as an older infant.

While I am no antivaxer,and am appalled by a lot of the “treatments” antivax parents use to “cure” their children,I can both understand,and sympathize with their motivations.Combine going to one doctor after another,and having the doctor tell you that your child’s seizures,failure to thrive,and any other medical issue you can name is “just autism” and we don’t know the cause,with a parent who may be working two jobs,trying to raise one,or more,special needs children,who neither has the time,or the energy,to spend hours online learning how to understand,or read lengthy articles in medical journals about the latest research,and you have a group of parents desperate for easy and simple answers.This is where pseudoscience peddlers, frauds and charlatans like Wakefield,the Geiers,and any of the thousands of other vultures and parasites you care to name,swarm in around these parents,often with the ultimate goal of fattening their bank accounts by exploiting the hopes of desperate parents.

” I’ve come to wonder if, thanks to all the adulation they receive, Nobel Laureates might actually be more prone to Dunning-Kruger effects than the general population when they wander outside their area of expertise.”

You may be right. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one victim of this. In the last few months he’s ventured into biology to make some asinine statements. He’s also put his foot in his mouth in other areas (e.g. humanities).

Montaigner and Joyeux held a press conference against “la dictature vaccinale”

Oh, rapture. Kindred souls have met and formed a bond.
I missed that in the French news.

Pr Joyeux has been antivax for some time. About two years ago, I read an interview of him in the local newspaper. He was already well engaged in antivax rhetoric (ranting on how breastfeeding is good enough to protect toddlers). He got rejected by the French Medical Board for his pain, but since he was already set to retire…

About this petition for the return of the DTPolio vaccine: the context is peculiar and may explain its success.
The sale of the usual trivalent DT-Polio vaccines has been discontinued in France a few years back; but vaccination against these 3 illnesses is mandatory to all children in France. The proposed alternative is to buy hexavalent vaccines, containing these 3 mandatory vaccines plus 3 recommended-only vaccines. That’s not the same price, and despite our benighted socialist French healthcare, most health insurances are not covering the difference.
I feel this petition is a nice Trojan horse, built on a true issue (forced purchase of the more expansive hexavalent vaccine) and shoeing in antivax fears (aluminium, and hep B/sclerosis). People may not fully believe in the two latter claims, but will sign just for the former.

PS congrat on the new blog place

PPS In other European antivax news, have you heard about Corvelva, an Italian antivax association? They seem to have launched recently an international campaign in which they used a picture of a baby they found somewhere on the ‘net and then presented him as someone who died following vaccination.

(article in French, sorry)

http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2017/11/23/quand-une-campagne-anti-vaccin-fait-passer-un-enfant-vivant-et-vaccine-pour-un-enfant-mort_5219268_4355770.html

Eric Lund: Denigrating one’s children is not the exclusive provence of anti-vaxers, either.

No, but I’ve never seen any of them say anything positive about their kids either. Not one. Families can and do have bad days but when a parent posts forever about nothing but bad days, or is willing to go in front of a camera and talk about killing their kid..well, what conclusions should one draw about that?

RK: it sounds like you may be a believer in neurodiversity.

Not really. It’s more that I believe in treating people like PEOPLE, regardless of mental ability and whatever conditions they may have, though some may lose any possibility of my respect due to their behavior/writing/general demeanor. Also I get twitchy about parents/authority deciding children need to be fixed because I’ve been there and it’s not fun. I was very lucky that I was born in the last two decades, so I never needed to pretend to be right handed, and that my mom’s interest in alternative medicine stopped at acupuncture and biofeedback.

I also think people need to be more sensitive to learning styles and not treat autism like a terminal diagnosis, and stop behaving like a learning disability and mental retardation are the same. (For example,dyslexic doesn’t equal stupid.)

I have to say, Mr. Kulp, please don’t throw ‘neurodiversity’ around like a swear word because it isn’t. And I know you sympathize with the people at age of autism, so don’t pretend to cry crocodile tears over the kids who they leave dead in their wake.

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