Information about the Lipkin Study, (Needed, grins)


Senior Member
Sofa, UK
I've wandered off topic again...

The group has also tested four WPI samples from CFS patients but isn’t ready to discuss the results because “we’re still confused by them,” says Coffin, who is part of the working group.
We've heard similar regarding Ila Singh's results, that the picture is complicated and a little confusing and they're still trying to figure out what it all means.

It seems a great shame to me that this information can't be shared with the world right away, so that a few more great minds can see what they make of this apparently conflicting information. It's a big old world, maybe somebody might have an idea if they had the information; maybe somebody else would get a clue from all this. No wonder the pace of scientific progress is so damn slow.

If their testing of those 4 WPI samples was all negative, that wouldn't be confusing. So it seems we can at least conclude - as also with Dr Singh - that they are not all finding nothing. In that case, it is news in itself, surely, that they are finding something in WPI samples? (Although of course the Swedish group has already tested samples from WPI as positive for XMRV so not that new).

But (sigh) in the real world I guess there is a genuine issue that if the information were released at this stage, the unresolved complexities would be pounced on by the McClures and Weisses of this world, and they would say: Look, it's too complicated, it's obviously all a load of rubbish. And the problem is, they may just be influential enough to get the whole thing shut down just because it's not finished yet. Madness.

I've just been reading wikipedia on The New Skepticism:

Watch out for false skepticism...

the characteristic feature of false skepticism is that it "centres not on an impartial search for the truth, but on the defence of a preconceived ideological position".
"worst kind of pseudoskepticism": "There are some members of the skeptics’ groups who clearly believe they know the right answer prior to inquiry. They appear not to be interested in weighing alternatives, investigating strange claims, or trying out psychic experiences or altered states for themselves (heaven forbid!), but only in promoting their own particular belief structure and cohesion..."
The whole skeptical, adversarial attitude of some of the people hanging around the research arena seems to be the real problem here - and it seems to be a widespead problem in modern science. The born-again skeptics don't seem to me to be interested in respectful dialogue aimed at seeking the truth, nor in honest and balanced scientific inquiry, indeed they don't seem to be very interested in pursuing the truth at all. They just seem to want to score points by whacking down and insulting anything new, different, unusual or incomplete, anything that strikes them as a bit odd - which in practice tends not to mean 'poor quality science' or even 'revolutionary science', but rather, anything that challenges their personal prejudices and biases. And they're far too easily manipulated by people who point them at targets for reasons of their own vested interests: light the blue touch paper, and stand well back.

Overenthusiastic skeptics hold back scientific progress because they have too much power to attack anything new and prevent it from having a chance to make progress. They come across to me as the enemies of science. And such an easy job for them to do: much harder to actually discover something, come up with something, than to criticise what others have produced. Intelligent analysis which includes a critical element is one thing - we expect that - criticism for criticism's sake (including an armoury of nasty underhand techniques like personal slurs and smears and insults) is quite another. All they seem to need to know in order to build a career is various different techniques to say "Oh no it isn't". Pantomine science.

Nobody is saying anyone should just blindly accept things without evidence, and if they don't want to get involved with actually figuring out what's going on, then fine, they can just say "well it's not resolved yet, so there's more to be done but OK it looks like there's something there but we don't know what at this stage - so we want nothing to do with it and you can figure it out. We're opting out.". It would stlll be a disgraceful position, not to be interested in finding the answers, but it would at least be better than actively working to shut down any promising lines of inquiry.

That's all very abstract, who are we talking about here? Well Wessely and McClure in this context for a start - and "contamination theorists" and "rumour virus theorists" in general. As soon as XMRV came out Wessely said he didn't believe it. Gives the lie to his claims to accept that ME has a physical cause: when one is found, he automatically doesn't believe it. Then he goes ahead and proves it by not finding it. Was the McClure group aware of their own confirmation bias, in not seeing something they didn't think was there in the first place? Who knows - but the origin of their disbelief is clear: they have a preconceived idea that ME isn't really a physical illness like AIDS - albeit that they dare not say so publicly any more because that position is long ago discredited by evidence - and as if their preconceptions weren't enough, they have vested interests to boot. to the Lipkin study...:D


Señor Mumbler
I've just come across this article from Science magazine, dated 17th September...
It's the first feedback I've heard about the Blood Working Group results:

Hoping to figure out whats going on, a federal working group involving labs at FDA, CDC, WPI, and elsewhere has compared results for blood samples to which various amounts of XMRV had been added. (All six labs detected it.) The group has also tested four WPI samples from CFS patients but isnt ready to discuss the results because were still confused by them, says Coffin, who is part of the working group.
It's not very enlightening! But it's the most I've heard so far.

It sounds like they might not be getting consistent results with the different groups, and maybe the results with the WPI samples were not what they were expecting, based on the results from the spiked samples (maybe we could have told them that, if they'd asked us!)... I suppose the positive thing to take from this is that they are still working on the discrepancies.
Here's my theory. The CDC found XMRV. :eek::eek: talk about confusing results. ;)