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The real story about XMRV coming out today?

Discussion in 'XMRV Research and Replication Studies' started by VillageLife, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. RustyJ

    RustyJ Contaminated Cell Line 'RustyJ'

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  2. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    They really do, just with different levels of contrast and brightness (and some strange shadowing around some of them).

    They're the same shapes, with the same blotches in the same places. It would be an amazing coincidence if those images were not of the same results.

    ERV tinkered with the contrast/brightness too, to make it clearer that they're the same, and they just are. I don't really understand how anyone can look at them and think otherwise.
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  3. Bob

    Bob

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    I've looked at the images first-hand, from both the actual paper and the slide. They are definitely the same once the contrast is altered. And the explanations are indeed different for each slide. But it could just be a simple mix-up when formulating the slides, so I think it is premature to get excited or make conclusions about it. The slides might not even have been made by Judy Mikovits - They could have been made by a student or admin person working for her. The simplest explanation seems like it's a mix-up when making the slides. I think scientists are allowed to make occasional admin errors - that doesn't make them fraudulent.
  4. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Personally, I don't think those images being the same is that important (certainly not compared to the BWG results), but some of the responses to it on the other board and on facebook are worrying.

    It reminded me of the end of 1984, where Winston Smith is tortured until he acknowledges that 2 + 2 = 5. Eventually, he comes to truly believe that this is the case. If people are reading ERV's blog, and seeing those images as if they are different, something has gone wrong.

    edit: I knew that if XMRV turned out to be a dead end, some people would take it really hard... I know that I've found my own health disappointments really upsetting and confusing, especially when there's so much uncertainty/quackery around CFS; but some of the responses are getting weird. I'm a bit concerned about them.
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  5. Bob

    Bob

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    KFG, I wouldn't say that this is grossly incompetent. It was a slide show, not a published paper. So a simple admin error is just a mistake - that's all. I imagine that it's easy to make a mistake occasionally if rushing to put a last minute slide show together for a hectic conference.

    If the wrong details were submitted for publication, then that would be incompetent.

    Oh, thank you. That was unexpected! :hug:
  6. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    Has anyone analysing this gone back to the beginning on this one and started with the two original images themselves (from Lombardi 2009 and from the conference presentation) rather than the images in ERV's posts (which have been claimed to be a misrepresentation)? That would seem to be the best way to start analysing the accuracy of ERV's claims. Assuming both are public domain, they could be posted in this thread with references, as could the subsequent images ERV posted, so that we can all see exactly the sequence of what has happened. We should focus on the scientifically-relevant facts of the matter and not be distracted by the rhetoric. None of the links I've seen sets out the sequence of events, and all the slides themselves, clearly and straightforwardly and with full references - we can easily do that here.

    Whatever the outcome of that analysis, I agree with Esther12's earlier comment that it seems very unlikely there's anything in it for Dr Mikovits or the WPI to deliberately attempt to deceive. And Ecoclimber made the same remark about ERV - there seems to be no rational motive to attempt fraud on either side when it should be absolutely obvious that the matter will be heavily scrutinised and the truth will surely come out. Thus the only likely explanation I can see for all this is human error - something which certainly does happen quite a bit...
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  7. Bob

    Bob

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    Yes Mark, see my earlier post. They are absolutely identical if you change the contrast of the dark one.

    Here are my own versions, copied directly from the originals.
    The only thing that I've altered is to crop the images to the same size and change the contrast/brightness in the third image, taken from the slide.

    As follows:
    1. Full slide.
    2. Diagram from the Science paper.
    3. Image from slide - contrast and brightness changed.
    4. Image from Science paper - not changed.

    Slide13.jpg science paper.jpg Slide13 1.jpg science paper 1.png


    And here is the text from the Science paper, attached to the diagram, which is completely different to the info on the slide:

    "C. Lysates of activated PBMCs from healthy donors (lanes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7) or from CFS patients (lanes 3 and 6) were analyzed by Western blots using rat mAb to SFFV Env (top panel) or goat antiserum to MLV p30 Gag (bottom panel). Lane 8, SFFV-infected HCD-57 cells. Molecular weight (MW) markers in kilodaltons are at left."
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  8. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    Sorry...events have clearly overtaken me and Bob has done as I suggested while I was writing. :)

    But if the images are public domain I'd still like to see them in this thread with references. Why not? We needn't take Bob's word for it (though of course I do, in this case at least!).

    If, as I understand, they've been re-labelled, that sounds pretty bad to me. I take Esther12's point that this was a conference presentation not a published paper...but still, this seriously undermines confidence in anything else that has come from the WPI that is not a published paper, including any other conference presentations. The WPI's commentary on this should be very interesting.

    I can't imagine the sheer pressure the WPI have been under though, for a couple of years now, so it's still quite conceivable and excusable to me that they've just cracked under the weight of all that and made a mistake as a result. I've seen that pattern often enough myself in other contexts in the last couple of years, and it seems to me one of the ways that conservative sceptics tend to see what they expect to see...they hammer away relentlessly at somebody or something they distrust until that person cracks and makes a mistake, and then they say, both to themselves and the world: "See, I was right!".
  9. Bob

    Bob

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    Posted my images in my previous post.
  10. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Hi Mark - I've not seen you posting much recently. Hope you're doing okay.

    I think that the BWG results are a far bigger blow to 'trust' in the WPI than this. While I don't think the WPI intentionally set out to deceive patients, they have been selling a test for XMRV/HGRV for a couple of years, that seems not to hold up under independently blinded conditions. Whether they messed up on this slide or not, I think that we should be sceptical of claims coming from the WPI until there is some independent validation of their claims. They seem to have got too caught up in their own results and beliefs, and not have been cautious or self-critical enough.
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  11. Bob

    Bob

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    Yes, I don't think that one mistake in a slide undermines the entire body of the WPI's research. I think we need some perspective about this.
  12. Daffodil

    Daffodil Senior Member

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    why doesnt someone just email dr. mikovits and ask her about the slides?
  13. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    Thanks for the images Bob.
  14. leela

    leela Slow But Hopeful

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    If the data is legit, the slide doesn't really matter.
    An assistant may have grabbed the wrong one, or any one, to illustrate a valid scientific dataset.
    Sloppy, maybe, but fraud? I don't think so. Fraud would be if they confabulated the data itself.

    It might be best if people stopped speculating before all the data are in.
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  15. Firestormm

    Firestormm Guest

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    I have now looked at the originals KFG and I can see no difference either. What XMRV Global Advocacy are showing on Facebook is rubbish so far as I can tell. We have the same results from a test used in Lombardi, and then used again in Ottawa but with different titles and conclusions; and more importantly interpretations.

    Quite what the significance is I don't know as I am not a scientist but it can't do much for one's credibility. I wonder if the talk that went with the slide presentation has been recorded by someone? I did ask the organisers if they would be making a DVD available and they didn't think they would be able. Still, perhaps now this has blown up someone who was there will publish a transcript and/or we will hear from Dr Mikovits herself.

    Because the slide was part of a presentation at a conference and not used in another scientific paper then I am wondering if there is anything anyone can do about it anyway? I mean what damage are we talking here? Misrepresentation? Anyway, I agree with what you said. If only more people would take the time to actually look at the evidence (same goes I suppose with reading scientific papers and news articles) before reacting in a knee-jerk fashion.

    Some seem unwilling to read or follow ERV and other bloggers etc. because of what they believe them to be. Personally I try and read as much as I can (even if I don't always understand) and try to ask questions. Get a better view from all sides before coming to any conclusions.


    Science Full paper Lombardi 2009: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5952/585.full You can zoom in on Figure Two or even download as Powerpoint.

    The Slide used in Ottawa taken from Dr Deckoff-Jones' blog: http://treatingxmrv.blogspot.com/2011/09/when-going-gets-tough.html

    ERV's 'Magic Trick': http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/09/xmrv_and_chronic_fatigue_syndr_29.php
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  16. leaves

    leaves Senior Member

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    I am done. Judy Mikovits has lost her credibility in my eyes. I have given her the benefit of the doubt, many times, ignoring the fish odor. But all these 'mistakes' cannot just be coincidence, statistically that is unlikely. I am very much afraid that ME/CFS has attracted yet another charlatan. Kudos for Peterson to recognize this and disassociate from her so early. I hope this ride will not scare future ME research and funds away.
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  17. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    I feel the same way. Yes, this might be coincidence, but it's one more thing to add to her unprofessional behavior. The funny thing is that if another scientist did something like this, Dr. Mikovits and her followers would be all over them. I guess time will tell. I just find this very very exasperating.

    I hope she will make a comment soon and we can find out what is going on.
  18. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I think that the WPI are wrong about XMRV/HGRV, but I'm deeply sympathetic towards the Whittemores and Mikovits, who I think have made some bad mistakes, but were partly led astray by their own desire to help us. 'CFS' is a really difficult disease to study, surrounded by a lot of prejudices and politics. If Mikovits had compelling data which indicated CFS was the result of XMRV, which many thought she did, then I think the way she has behaved has been entirely emotionally understandable, even though I've often disagreed with it.

    If, as looks increasingly likely, XMRV turns out to have been a dead end, I think that this whole story will be pretty tragic because of the lack of villains, and the harm done by good intentions. Hopefully it will encourage some more serious researchers to take a good look at CFS, and clear out some of the rubbish which created the conditions for this to all occur. I'm still hopeful that XMRV will be a positive turning point for us - just not in the way I initially expected.
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  19. Daffodil

    Daffodil Senior Member

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    i dont think thats why peterson disassociated himself with the wpi.
  20. Kina

    Kina Moderation Team Lead

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    I appreciate your viewpoint but don't entirely agree with you. The slide in the conference was one used in the Science paper. Mikovits should have been able to spot this immediately when going through her slides for the conference. She has probably looked at this slide hundreds of times. We don't know who put together this presentation -- was it Judy, was it a undergrad, who? Also the labeling also gives one pause to think. We have identical slides, both labeled differently indicating entirely different results. Who labeled these slides. When were they labeled, one would think as soon as they were produced, so they wouldn't get mixed up later. There are so many questions and only Judy Mikovits has the answers.

    Logic and common sense tells me that Judy needs to address this. I don't read fraud into it at all. But to stand up at an important conference and present a slide that she should have recognized as one of the slides from her 2009 paper leads me to ask questions and has led others to ask questions. I think people are trying to "get a grip" -- trying to figure out the reasons for the identical slides. It certainly has given me pause to think.

    ERV is a very colorful character in many ways. I choose to ignore any innuendo she makes regarding what it all means, I am just looking at the facts she has presented. The pictures of the slides are legitimate. Now we just need to hear from Judy Mikovits.
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