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Jonathan Stoye on UK News talking about XMRV - Dec 2011

Discussion in 'Media, Interviews, Blogs, Talks, Events about XMRV' started by VillageLife, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. VillageLife

    VillageLife Senior Member

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  2. VillageLife

    VillageLife Senior Member

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    and he doesn't mention the Lipkin study?
  3. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hi, I don't particularly like Stoye, but I have to say this came off as a fair and balanced piece, however limited in scope. Keep in mind this was a brief news bite (two minutes), its not like any more can be said. The scope is in part limited by the reporters questions, which in turn are limited by their knowledge. I wish I knew how many of the questions were scripted though, as in Stoye knew about them before hand. However, he said that not enough has been done to research ME, and that he understood why we might be angry. Its not the unsympathetic denialist piece that some might want to hear him say. This does not mean I agree with his scientific conclusions, it does mean that I cannot see this piece being used to attack Stoye, not in any fair and justified way.

    Yes, I wish he had mentioned Lipkin et. al.. If this were a one hour investigative piece with hard questions, it should have come out ... but in two minutes?

    I have read other comments that were far less balanced than this coming from the UK press.

    Bye, Alex
  4. justinreilly

    justinreilly Stop the IoM & P2P! Adopt CCC!

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    Alex, I have to strenuously disagree. This is some horrible stuff by Stoye. By far the most likely thing that happened, I would think, is that the reporter didn't really know much about the situation and he said to her: "this is a big story and controversial. Science said that there was sloppiness in the lab. People are saying this is as bad as the MMR fraud. many scientists think that the radical ME activists were behind it like they were behind the death threats to honest scientists t keep the truth from getting out." Ask me about all that and I'll put it in some perspective. It is very unfortunate, but I like to be philosophical about it.

    We know that at the least he says that the ME activists are making death threats to scientists to keep the truth from getting out. How can you condone that slander?
  5. currer

    currer Senior Member

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    Yes, Alex, what has happened to you?

    The reporter was clearly reading from a prepared script designed to create preconceptions where any alternative view of events would be supressed.
  6. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hi, I just rewatched this piece.

    To address the two issues (parphrasing mostly, not exact quotes):

    1. The contamination was schoolboy error claim: He responded by saying it was well peer reviewed and involved recognized experts. He could have said that MLVs have slipped into cultures and labs everywhere, and nobody has realized the extent of the problem.That would have been consistent with his views and probably true, even if it does dodge the central question. Again I think this was too short a piece for real reporting. The other thing is they were talking about contaminated data? Say what? Did they mean the slide mislabelling? I presume they mean MLV contamination but didnt know enough to ask a proper question. Maybe I am wrong about that, I would certainly be interested in hearing another view. It is possible the question were scripted and deliberately made to be unclear, that certainly fits a pattern I am seeing, but its more likely in my view the reporter or her research staff did not do a very good job.

    2. On death threats, in relation to activist campaign to stop the truth from getting out, he said he would be annoyed too if he was one of us and that they possibly had not done enough to help these people as we might have expected. He then said, and I gather this is the offending piece: "I wouldn't have liked to have death threats."

    I think he is mistaken about a number of things, and overly cautious. I would dispute him on the facts. I don't think its evidence of intentional bias (not that there might not be, but that this is not enough for such a claim). I also think he is likely to have bought the death threat claims. I think, though as I am not a mind reader and probably bad at reading body language, he actually believes what he is saying.

    So we can refute his claims, including the death threat angle - what death threats, by who, where, when, in what context? He is not the originator of such claims, and I think he has uncritically accepted these claims as they probably came from mulitiple sources he has worked and communicated with. This means he has been overly accepting without even more than a cursory examination of the facts (of course the alternative view is he is doing this deliberately but I would want to see evidence before claiming that). Keep in mind the people who are making such claims have been making all sorts of unsubstantiated claims and presenting unsubstantiated theory as factual. They are very good at making their case without actually presenting solid evidence.

    Now, on the XMRV front, other things did not come out, other statements made to the press by various people. I would not expect them to come out in a brief interview though.

    Now it is clear the reporter did not ask hard or incisive questions. It was more a "please have your say" piece, which is why I asked if Stoye had known the questions before hand.

    This is not evidence of Stoye knowingly spreading unfounded death threat claims deliberately. He is repeating such claims uncritically. I really wish an investigative journalist, perhaps from outside the UK, would dig into this. A scandal lurks beneath the surface but ... I think the problem is that some people are buying it, including uncritical scientists who are operating way out of their comfort zone (ask me what I think of Stoye as a scientist privately, it does not belong on a thread).

    So this is not enough evidence for an attack on Stoye. It is enough to show, unequivocally, that the apparent misrepresentation by Wessely is altering public and scientific debate. Its another problem for Wessely, not Stoye, when this is finally investigated and, I presume, he is proven to be making unfounded allegations against very sick people. This would perhaps be an ethical violation, although I am not sure of the rules for this in the UK. If Wessely can be shown (not claimed) to be making unfounded allegations and it can be brought to media attention, the medical authorities would have to claim he has brought the profession into disrepute.

    To recap, I do not particularly like Stoye, I am distrustful of his take on science (I am from a different school of thought, far more critical). I do not think this shows he is anything more than too careful about challenging anyone, and too accepting of what he has been told.

    If this were even a twenty minute investigative piece and the whole thing was like the two minutes, I would be much more critical of it. A two minute soundbite though is always to demonstrate an editorial point, and so is never going to look at all sides.

    The real issue is this: how many other pieces like this are there, and who has been examining and presenting the other side of these arguments? I doubt there is much of that at all, only a brave few. I think it more fair to say that if a pattern exists this could show gross media bias, and perhaps systemic journalistic failures, rather than it shows deliberate bias from Stoye. I could be wrong about that, but so far I do not see enough evidence.

    Now I have forgetten a lot of what Stoye has said in the past, and I have not re-read any of his opinion pieces lately. My take on a scientist making claims alongside political advocates for this view is that they are outside their depth and probably deeply mistaken, but thats about it. I too have come from a science background, and I have been very much out of my depth in politics on occasion. If on the other hand we can find more concrete evidence, or a large body of similar evidence, that is a different situation. I am looking for such evidence, which is what makes me much more critical of standards of evidence at the moment. So perhaps the issue is that I want to see solid evidence before making allegations. One brief clip is not enough.

    Bye, Alex

    PS Perhaps it would be more clear if I put it this way. I am not much interested in evidence that is an any way equivocal. I am looking for the kind of evidence that will nail BPS/CBT/GET to the wall of shame. So the pattern of advocacy from me will probably change, and this is definitely bias on my part, but for a specific purpose. If I can show what I think the evidence shows, unequivocally, I want to consign the current BPS movement for CFS to the dustbin of history. Evidence to do that needs to be either clear, or easy to show by logical inference.
  7. Firestormm

    Firestormm Senior Member

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    Transcription:

    'Presenter: Now it was hailed as a medical breakthrough by people suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME - a study suggesting a potential link with a virus.

    Campaigners said it provided proof that the condition wasnt just psychological and could lead to effective treatment.

    But two years on, that report has been retracted by the leading scientific journal that published it, after a series of other trials failed to back up the results.

    Well, joining me now is Dr Jonathan Stoye the Head of Virology at the National Institute for Medical Research.

    This is another really embarrassing medical setback for the scientific community after all the MMR debacle, isnt it?

    JS: I dont think its as embarrassing as people would make out. Weve had some such occasions but theyre very few and far between.

    And I think this seemed a perfectly normal paper when it first appeared. I dont think that there was anything we could have discerned beforehand that could have prevented this happening.

    Presenter: But poor quality control contaminated data [paraphrasing from the retraction notice?]? How could this happen? These are school-boy errors, arent they?

    JS: Well, the paper had very reputable authors, it was closely peer-reviewed I wasnt one of the reviewers but I believe it was very closely reviewed. I think such things can happen.

    Presenter: Its a real blow to ME sufferers though isnt it?

    JS: Oh yes. I think many of them had set their hopes on this as leading to a cure for the condition.

    Presenter: And behind that was this activist campaign to try and stop the truth getting out. I mean that was pretty iniquitous wasnt it?

    JS: Ive asked myself about this If I was suffering from that condition I would be pretty annoyed too but I think its fair to say that we possibly havent done much for such people as they might have expected.

    No I wouldnt have liked to have had death threats and it certainly wont encourage people to go into this field. And what this field does need is fresh blood and new research in the area.

    Presenter: Are we as far off from discovering the real cause of ME as ever?

    JS: I think so

    Channel 4 News Thursday 22 December 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qylaxnGhcBo'

    Excuse any mistakes!
  8. Firestormm

    Firestormm Senior Member

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    Stoye might not have been a peer reviewer but he did write an editorial of course:

    'Researchers who have closely followed this saga and invested their own efforts into finding XMRV in CFS patients commend Science for issuing a full retraction. "It's very sad, but the writing has been on the wall for some time nowand the font size has gotten bigger over the course of the year," says retrovirologist Jonathan Stoye of the Medical Research Council in London, who co-authored an editorial in Science supporting the original paper. John Coffin, a retrovirologist at Tufts University in Boston who wrote the editorial with Stoye, says the full retraction could have happened much earlier. "It's kind of a surprise that it took so long," says Coffin.'

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/12/in-a-rare-move-science-without-a.html?ref=hp

    I think the presenter is paraphrasing from the retraction notice re: poor quality control as I said and contaminated data is a summary of the reasons behind the partial retraction perhaps:

    'In addition, there is evidence of poor quality control in a number of specific experiments in the Report. Figure 1, table S1, and fig. S2 have been retracted by the authors...the authors acknowledged to Science that they omitted important information...'

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/334/6063/1636.1.full
  9. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hi Firestorrmmm, on the science if poor quality control is an issue, a huge percentage of labs are indicted. These viruses are everwhere, even in the reagents they use to detect the viruses. The problem not discussed is this: if these viruses (MLVs) are everywhere, how many positive cases have been overlooked due to contamination? None? One? Some? Many? We may not know the answer to this any time soon. I generally dont agree with Stoye or Coffin in the way they easily jump to conclusions. I would be far more critical, and present it as a working hypothesis, not a forgone conclusion. Its a matter of perspective, a working hypothesis is acknowledging it could and should be challenged if better evidence comes along.

    Getting back to your post, I still think the reporter scrambled poor quality control. I just don't know if it was in error or deliberate.

    Bye, Alex

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