Sayer Ji is the founder of the pseudoscience pushing website GreenMedInfo. Ji is a slightly different version of Mike Adams who runs his own pseudoscience pushing website, Natural News. To be honest, if you read a random article from either one, they sound alike, and they promote the same junk science. In case you wondering, they hate vaccines for all the same gibberish reasons that are pushed by all anti-vaccine websites.
So what is Sayer Ji saying today? Well he’s pushing some nonsense conspiracies about Anthony R Mawson’s anti-vaccine papers. And if you don’t recall who Dr. Mawson is, he’s the brainless researchers had a paper retracted. Then resubmitted that same paper and got it retracted again. What makes these retractions juicily ironic is that they were both retracted by awful predatory journals.
Mawson’s article was published for the first time in Frontiers in Public Health, a part of the Frontiers Media empire. It was published for the second time in the Journal of Translational Science, a part of OAT. Both Frontiers Media and OAT are predatory publishers according to the definitive Beall’s List. A predatory publisher is an “exploitative open-access publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals.”
I never have written about it, but there’s a second article written by Anthony Mawson, “Preterm birth, vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders: a cross-sectional study of 6- to 12-year-old vaccinated and unvaccinated children,” also published in OAT’s Journal of Translational Science JTS). Go ahead, look for that article, I’ll wait. Oh, Google is of no help? I forgot to mention but that article was also scrubbed from the JTS website, just like Mawson’s other articles. Well, if you’re really interested in the article, because the internet never forgets, here it is.
In case you’re wondering, this other article uses the same data, same techniques, and same bogus conclusions as the double-retracted article. Let’s take a quick look.
Why these articles are bad?
- Because the journals in which they were published are bad. Frontiers in Public Health (FPH) is not indexed in PubMed. And the Journal of Translational Science (JTS) is not indexed in PubMed. PubMed is one of the most valued resources in searching for biomedical articles, even in obscure journals. Both FPH and JTS lack an impact factor. As we mentioned above, both FPH and JTS are published by predatory publishers (one of the possible reasons that the journals are not indexed). There is nothing positive to say about these journals.
- I wrote previously about what makes these articles so bad, but here’s a quick review. They use questionnaires instead of medical records, which brings in parental confirmation and observation bias to the research. The questionnaires only target home schooled children an internally biased group. Small study population. And many more issues.
A real study to compare vaccines effects is generally a meta-review (at the top of the hierarchy of scientific evidence) of several large epidemiological case-control and cohort studies. For example, this study, by LE Taylor et al., included five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children, and five case-control studies involving 9,920 children. It examined the possibility of links between vaccination and autism, MMR vaccine and autism, and thimerosal and autism. (A more detailed analysis of this article can be found here.) This was a huge, well-designed systematic review that found a simple conclusion –
Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, the components of the vaccines (thimerosal or mercury) or multiple vaccines (MMR) are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.
Dr. Mawson actually has the background to run a well-designed study such as this one. Why doesn’t he, instead putting together studies so bad that even junk science journals retract them? Apparently, he’s trying to find data that supports his preconceived conclusions about vaccines, which is really just how pseudoscience works. Those of us who are pro-science tend to gather high quality data published in real high quality journals, and see where it leads us. And unless you only believe in studies in awful journals, then any rational mind would see that the overwhelming scientific evidence continues to show us that vaccines are relatively safe. And they most certainly are not involved with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Sayer Ji keeps saying stuff
Sayer Ji issued some sort of conspiracy theory about these retracted articles in a recent editorial. He’s where he went with that rant:
In today’s newsletter, we feature an article about two small but powerful studies. They apparently terrify the vaccine industry champions to such an extent that they will publish falsehoods to keep the studies out of the public eye. Dr. Anthony Mawson, author of “Pilot Comparative Study on the Health of Vaccinated and Unvaccinated 6 – 12 Year Old U.S. Children” and “Preterm birth, vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders: A cross-sectional study of 6 – 12 year old vaccinated and unvaccinated children” has been the target of Retraction Watch, an online blog of the “Center for Scientific Integrity” which receives “generous” funding from The MacArthur Foundation to promote integrity in science.
This fake news blog, which we hope the foundation will disavow, has been used to target a 35-year career scientist and his research in order to derail publication of two papers that were peer reviewed and accepted on their merits. Retraction Watch falsely claimed that one of the studies had been retracted by another journal, when it had never been officially accepted. They compounded the falsehood by claiming the paper had been retracted a second time, when it had simply been temporarily removed pending a response from the author to the false allegation. (Note – all emphasis is from Sayer Ji.)
So let’s go through his statements one by one.
- Yes, Mawson’s two studies (retracted three times) were small. But they weren’t very powerful, ranking right near the bottom of the hierarchy of quality scientific research.
- The studies hardly terrified anyone. However, some of us are terrified that parents will read this junk science and choose not to vaccinate their innocent children against vaccine preventable diseases.
- Yes, Retraction Watch wrote about these retractions, because that’s what they do. And they are constantly looking at papers across science, especially biomedicine, where papers have been retracted. And since I am a regular visitor of the website, I know that they don’t hold back. They write about any researcher whose research is forced to be retracted or gets into trouble with any institution that points out the fake research.
- Speaking of “fake,” Sayer Ji, in a ridiculous attempt to discredit Retraction Watch, claims it is a “fake news blog.” And he wants the MacArthur Foundation, which sponsors the blog, to withdraw its funding. I’m sure the MacArthur Foundation, which prides itself on scientific integrity, are going to listen to a pseudoscience pushing charlatan. Yeah, that’ll happen.
- Sayer Ji attempts to make a semantic point that the journal had never officially accepted the paper. That’s a stretch of the truth by both Ji and OAT (which also made that claim). So they state, without a hint of irony, that the paper wasn’t technically retracted, the considering accepting it. That is such a load of inaccurate silliness, that I can’t believe they tried it.
Before the article was “retracted,” we can see, in a screenshot of the actual pdf version of the article, it contains the full masthead of OAT’s Journal of Translational Science:
That seems to be substantial evidence that not only did JTS accept the article, but that it actually was published. And remember, the internet never forgets – the Wayback Machine tells us that the article was definitely on the OAT/JTS website.
We know what Sayer Ji is trying to do. He wants to have “proof” that vaccines don’t work or are dangerous. He’s got very little that supports his beliefs, and these studies from Anthony Mawson, three times retracted, would be perfect to support his needs. If they weren’t so awful as to have been retracted by predatory journals.
As we all know, bad science with respect to vaccines always comes back to haunt us, like zombies. And that’s what Sayer Ji is trying to do – he wants to keep this junk science alive to scare parents away from protecting their children from diseases.
- Taylor LE, Swerdfeger AL, Eslick GD. Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies. Vaccine. 2014 Jun 17;32(29):3623-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.04.085. Epub 2014 May 9. PubMed PMID: 24814559.