Sayer Ji pushes retracted anti-vaccine articles – cause he’s got nothing

Sayer Ji

Sayer Ji is the founder of the pseudoscience pushing website GreenMedInfoJi 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case you’re wondering, this other article uses the same data, same techniques, and same bogus conclusions as the double-retracted article.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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

Sayer Ji
Evidence that the article was definitely published.


Sayer Ji
Hey, it’s got a doi number. Seems like it was published.

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.



Google search terms – pseudoscience examples

pseudoscience examples

Google provides me with the search terms that result in clicking on a link to this website. I rarely look at them, but today I looked to find all of the search terms that were pseudoscience examples – some of them were hysterical.

I wanted to do something completely different – away from the anti-vaccination hate-filled creeps, away from the anti-science GMO beliefs, and everything else. Let’s amuse ourselves with some of my favorite search terms over the past three months.

Continue reading “Google search terms – pseudoscience examples”

The fictional CDC coverup of vaccines and autism – movie time

fictional CDC coverup

The zombie anti-vaccine trope of the CDC coverup of vaccines and autism – tied to a so-called CDC “whistleblower” – has risen again from the dead. I thought it was time to bring back my zombie-killing snarky, sarcastic, and humorous debunking of that trope. Let’s have some fun.

I and about 20-30 other pro-science bloggers wrote articles about a strange story, pushed by all of the usual suspects in the antivaccine universe (starting with Natural News, Green Med Info, and the Age of Lying about Autism). Despite new information, press releases, claims and counter claims, nothing has changed in the facts about vaccines and autism as a result of this somewhat entertaining story that included fictional claims with real people.

What are the facts? Vaccines do not cause autism according to boatloads of evidence.

Nevertheless, this story is provocative, laughable at some level, and filled with rather disreputable characters – it gives all us bloggers, who focus on the real scientific evidence behind the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, a great subject for writing.

As I surmised when I first wrote this article over a year ago, this zombie trope has risen again!

Since much of this story has strong fictional elements, I think we should examine this story as if it were a synopsis for a screenplay behind a proposed new superhero movie. You know, The CDC vs. the Evil Cult of Antivaccination. 

Hey, I ought to copyright that, just in case someone does turn in into a movie. Because this synopsis has all of the important parts of a movie–unsavory characters, a fool, the superhero government agency dedicated to saving lives, and the geeky nerds who think science trumps lies. No cool spacecraft or benevolent aliens unfortunately. I’ll work on that.

OK, let’s get with the story. Continue reading “The fictional CDC coverup of vaccines and autism – movie time”

Bill Gates vaccines save lives – Part 2

One of the world’s leading sponsors of vaccine research and bringing healthcare (including vaccinations) to underdeveloped countries is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), founded by Bill & Melinda Gates using their vast Microsoft wealth. I have always favored capitalism, and believe there is no particular moral code associated with accumulating wealth. It is, however, wonderful that they have decided to use their wealth to help humanity.

As strong supporters of vaccines, the Gates have become one of the leading targets of the vaccine denialists who use a bunch of outright lies to attack his good works. Bill Gates vaccines save lives. Now I know that Bill Gates did not invent these vaccines, but the attacks on him make it seem like he did.

These personal attacks remind me of Ernst’s Law, which states “If you are researching complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and you are not hated by the CAM world, you’re not doing it right.” 

For vaccines, I guess we should we create a corollary of the law, “if you are supporting the safety and efficacy of vaccinations for children, and you are not hated by vaccine denialists, you’re not doing it right.” I think I want to call this corollary “Offit’s Law,” named for Paul Offit, a tireless supporter of vaccines who has been the target of lies and hatred, or even “Gate’s Law.”  Continue reading “Bill Gates vaccines save lives – Part 2”

Genetically engineered insulin does not cause cancer in diabetics

insulin-vialI have a lot of issues with the pseudo-medicine pushed by many many websites whose sole purpose is to push woo, or nonsense, to their readers. Then they have links to buy junk medicine from their website. Natural News, Mercola, and others have become multimillionaires with this business model.

These “entrepreneurs” deceive their readers with pure pseudoscience, using misleading language, and searching scientific literature for research that confirms their beliefs and ignoring everything that refutes it. They oversimplify complex issues, “take this pill, it will prevent all cancers,” making it seem most medicine can be boiled down to taking a couple of supplements–which they sell on their website. Of course.

Some might argue that this information isn’t dangerous. These people will say that a couple of supplements, even if they’re expensive, isn’t going to hurt. Maybe, though there’s a lot of evidence that those couple of pills might be more harmful than even I expected. But if these junk medicine websites push information that can harm or kill, then someone has to draw a line in the sand and tell them “you lie, and by lying, you might kill.”

Many of us say that about these woo-websites’ general antivaccination beliefs. This blog has posted numerous articles about the Natural News’ unethical and risky antivaccination articles. Mike Adams, the so-called Health Ranger and wealthy owner of the Natural News, makes his money by pushing his lies and misinformation about vaccines. Continue reading “Genetically engineered insulin does not cause cancer in diabetics”

GMO foods cause cancer–pseudoscience says it’s so

Let’s make something clear right here, at the beginning of the article–there is a vast amount of legitimate scientific literature that describes evidence that GMO crops are safe to both human health and the environment.

In the world of scientific research, the absolute highest quality evidence are meta reviews, which are methods to contrast and combine results from a wide swath of peer-reviewed studies which may be useful in identifying patterns, sources of disagreement and other relationships. Since meta reviews combine the results from a larger number of studies, they can be more statistically significant.

Last year, a team of Italian researchers published one such meta review of GMO studies in a peer-reviewed, high impact factor journal, Critical Review of Biotechnology (pdf). The authors collected and evaluated 1,783 research papers, reviews, relevant opinions, and reports published between 2002 and 2012, a comprehensive process that took over 12 months to complete. The review covered all aspects of GM crop safety, from how the crops interact with the environment to how they could potentially affect the humans and animals who consume them. Their conclusion, even in science-speak, could not be clearer:

The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of GE crops.


The EU, which has shown some resistance to GMO crops, has spent over €300 million on GMO research over the last 20 years. Their 2010 report on GMO, which summarized the previous decade of research (pdf), concluded that:

It follows up previous publications on EU-funded research on GMO safety. Over the last 25 years, more than 500 independent research groups have been involved in such research.

According to the projects’ results, there is, as of today, no scientific evidence associating GMOs with higher risks for the environment or for food and feed safety than conventional plants and organisms.

Remember, scientific consensus is not based on debate or arguing. Yes, the lone voice pushing new ideas or fighting a dogma should be given a pulpit to share their evidence. And that’s the key point, evidence matters, dramatic beliefs do not. If someone is going to state that GMO’s are unsafe, then they need to bring evidence, published in real journals, that carry the same weight as the thousands of articles that say “GMO’s are safe.” Just like the climate change deniers, who claim there’s a scientific debate, but have never brought the quality and quantity of evidence of the climate change supporters, the anti-GMO crowd uses the same exact tactics–screaming and yelling about the dangers of GMOs using very bad science.

And right now, the scientific consensus regarding GMO’s is solid–they are safe.

Continue reading “GMO foods cause cancer–pseudoscience says it’s so”

HPV vaccine is unrelated to venous blood clots in another huge study

gardasil-retro-advertAnecdotally, it has always seemed like the HPV quadrivalent vaccine, known as Gardasil or Silgard, was the most despised vaccine on the market. Although I write about almost every vaccine, I seem to write more about Gardasil, countering all kinds of silly claims. Despite several large case-controlled epidemiological studies, some of which I’ve discussed previously, there is some pervasive fear that the HPV vaccine is dangerous. You don’t know how many times I’ve read “I vaccinate my kids, but never that Gardasil stuff.”

Just for review, forget that Gardasil saves lives by preventing cancer. The HPV quadrivalent vaccine specifically targets human papillomavirus (HPV) subtypes 16 and 18, that cause not only approximately 70% of cervical cancers, but they also cause most HPV-induced anal (95% linked to HPV), vulvar (50% linked), vaginal (65% linked), oropharyngeal (60% linked) and penile (35% linked) cancers. It also targets HPV6 and HPV11, which account for approximately 90% of external genital warts. The viruses are generally passed through genital contact, almost always as a result of vaginal, oral and anal sex.

There is substantial clinical evidence that once a population is vaccinated against HPV, the rates of infection drop, which should lead to lower risk of various cancers. There is no other way to say this but Gardasil is very safe and very effective at preventing cancers.

But science is irrelevant, if you can spread fear. The antivaccination cult at GreenMedInfo, home of the vaccine denying lunatic Sayer Ji, cherry-picked a whole laundry list of “peer-reviewed”, many of marginal if not laughable quality, trying to “prove” that Gardasil is dangerous. One article, of slightly better quality, use a bit of dumpster diving into the fairly useless VAERS database that showed an overabundance of reporting of venous thromboembolic events, though, because of the quality of data, they authors were unable to establish any firm correlation between the HPV quadrivalent vaccine and those events. Continue reading “HPV vaccine is unrelated to venous blood clots in another huge study”

Another antivaccination cult “peer-reviewed” paper–SIDS and vaccines

SIDS-vaccine-2Since I just wrote an article about the pathetic “peer-reviewed” paper being pushed by the antivaccination cult, I was almost reluctant (not really) to take down another so-called peer reviewed paper. But this one is actually worse than the B Hooker et al. travesty. It’s much much worse.

In an article recently published in Current Medicinal Chemistry, Matturi et al. attempted to claim that the hexavalent vaccine (a combination of DTaPHibIPVHepB, used in Europe) was associated with (or even caused) sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This is one of those antivaccine tropes that has more zombie resurrections than an episode of the Walking Dead. Continue reading “Another antivaccination cult “peer-reviewed” paper–SIDS and vaccines”

Thanks antivaccine lunatics–measles is back in the USA

warning-measlesIn 2000, measles was declared to be eliminated (defined as the interruption of year-round endemic transmission) in the USA. There were occasional, small numbers of secondary outbreaks since then resulting from individuals who were not vaccinated and who had visited areas that still had endemic measles outbreaks.

Measles incidence fell from around 600,000 cases per year in 1960 to an average of around 60 per year in the 2000’s in the USA as a result of a widespread vaccination with the MMR vaccine. This is an incredible success in public health, since around 5% of those children who catch measles require hospitalization, and 1 in 1000 die.

Unfortunately, this year, measles has come back. Luckily, not as bad as in 1960, but still, after we thought we had stopped endemic outbreaks in the USA to see it return is troublesome.

©CDC, 2012
©CDC, 2012

A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) states that there have been 288 measles cases in the USA from 1 January through 23 May 2014, slightly less than 5 months. This is the highest number of cases since measles was declared eliminated in the USA, and more than the 220 in all of 2013 (what was previously considered the worst year). Fifteen outbreaks accounted for almost 79% of these measles cases. Most of the cases were in Ohio, California and New York City.

What is particularly frightening is that most of the 288 measles cases reported this year were in persons who were unvaccinated (69%), or who had an unknown vaccination status (20%). Only 30 cases (slightly less than 10%) were in persons who were fully vaccinated. Of the 195 who had measles and were unvaccinated, 165 (85%) declined vaccination because of religious, philosophical, or personal objections. This totally debunks the outrageous lies by antivaccine propagandist Sayer Ji and others who claim that only vaccinated individuals spread the disease. 

As the CDC has reported previously, MMR vaccine uptake in the USA is still high enough for herd immunity (>90%). But that’s an average across the whole country, and there are many pockets of unvaccinated children, mainly because vaccine refusal tends to cluster among certain groups. And it takes only one person who has visited and returned from a country with endemic measles (such as the Philippines, which has a significant number of visitors to and from the USA) to begin an outbreak in these unvaccinated clusters.

There’s really no excuse to not vaccinate children with the MMR vaccine. We’ve already shown that the vaccine does not cause autism. Let’s protect children from this disease, and eliminate it (again) from the USA.


Visit the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.


Key citations:

Vaccine denier cherry picks bad hepatitis B vaccination article

hep-B-vaccineHere we go again.

In a story in the anti-science website GreenMedInfo, author Sayer Ji attacked hepatitis B vaccines (HepB) based on one small, recently published study by Pande et al. I’ve previously written about Mr. Ji mostly showcasing his pseudoscience ideas, formed from a postmodernistic hatred of real science. Mr. Ji is thoroughly antivaccine, believing that vaccines subvert evolution (it’s clear that Ji thinks that those who die of vaccine preventable disease deserve to die) and that vaccines are not natural, so they harm the immune system. He also despises Bill Gates’ efforts to bring vaccines to parts of the world that would benefit from the medications.

Sayer Ji is simply a lunatic about vaccines, searching the internet for anything that supports his pseudoscientific beliefs. And he seems to be pround to engage in the logical fallacy of Cherry Picking, where only select evidence is accepted in order to persuade the audience to accept a particular position, that is, vaccines don’t work, and evidence that would go against the position is withheld. One important point–the stronger the the withheld evidence, the more fallacious the argument.  Continue reading “Vaccine denier cherry picks bad hepatitis B vaccination article”