Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

As ever, in the cause of promoting skeptical thought and critical thinking while on the internet, I've been out there on the tubes causing trouble. The campaign to put Dr Rachael Dunlop into the lead of the Shorty Awards Health category has been very successful. Very successful indeed.

Of course, during the making of this very successful campaign, it's become clear that not only is Mike Adams a quack, but he's also a mass-email marketer and colluder with big business, a supporter of Scientology and their front-group CCHR, and a general butthurt whining hypocrite.

He's also the originator of a $10,000 "challenge" to anyone who can prove that the H1N1 Swine Flu vaccine is safe.

Thing is, as with all things HealthRanger, once you scratch the surface a little, the challenge is revealed to be an impossible to meet rhetorical trap designed to portray Mike Adams as a crusader willing to put his money where his mouth is, and the scientific community as unwilling to back the vaccine.

Here's a few of the problems with this challenge

Firstly, $10,000 is not a large amount of money as a reward for a challenge which would likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to meet

I quote from Mike's conditions:

A scientific paper, published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, describing the results of a minimum of two Phase III trials structured as randomized, placebo-controlled scientific clinical trials of an FDA-approved H1N1 vaccine currently in distribution, carried out on a minimum of 1,000 people (for statistical significance) for a duration of at least 90 days

So we're looking at a total prize pool of $10 per participant, possibly less, for a 90-day trial. This is pretty small beer.

Secondly, Mike's demands cannot be met within the bounds of medical ethics
. A doctor undertaking the type of study that Mike demands would be struck off for malpractice, and would deserve it.

Mike demands a Phase III placebo controlled trial. Inherent in these trials is the application of a placebo to a proportion of the participants, who will subsequently be exposed to disease risk in order to test efficacy. Medical ethics rightly state that exposing placebo groups to severe medical risk is unacceptable. Utterly unacceptable. Mike knows this, Mike's been told this repeatedly. Still, he uses it, because his followers are ignorant of this fundamental ethical restriction. Here's how vaccines are actually tested. Don't be fooled.

Third, Mike's "conditions" specify long-term side effects. While he appears magnanimous in only demanding one year of followup, this is still a significant cost, and the vaccine has not existed for a year yet, as Mike himself admits

Because vaccine promoters describe the vaccine as "safe enough for children and expectant mothers" and because vaccine promoters insist that there are absolutely no risks of long-term side effects, the study must demonstrate that the vaccine causes no statistically significant increase in side effects of any kind for a minimum of one year following the vaccine injection. You might think this is impossible to produce since the vaccine hasn't even existed for one year and couldn't have possibly been tested to see whether it produces neurological side effects in the one-year timeframe. That is exactly my point.

However, the vaccines that the H1N1 vaccine is based on certainly have been tested for longer. But Mike doesn't permit this as part of his conditions. I personally also think that it's likely that should Mike ever be challenged with evidence, the loaded status of "long term" will be employed to best effect, and no money will be paid.

Ultimately though, the ethical hurdle cannot be crossed. Mike's money is entirely safe, and he knows it.

Mike knows full well that this "challenge" is nothing more than a sop to his acolytes. No serious scientist will give a stuff about it, but his credulous audience are lapping it up, and using it as ammunition in internet debates. Luckily, there is a group of part-time internet superheroes who are aware of the fraudulent status of this challenge, and are willing to fight back.

Smoke us a kipper, we'll be back for breakfast.

posted @ Saturday, January 23, 2010 5:31 PM

 
 
 

Comments on this entry:

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Sean the Blogonaut at 1/24/2010 4:34 PM
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Whoa 10,000 generous.

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Geek at 1/25/2010 1:43 PM
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In your diatrab you still fail to point out that Mike is right and you know it. Admitting it is the first step. I'll be here waiting to hear it from you.

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Jason at 1/25/2010 1:51 PM
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You know the real reason I fail to point that he's right, don't you?

Cry more for me, "geek". Your butthurt ravings sustain me.

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Jon at 2/25/2010 5:55 PM
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You make it sound as though it's not worth $10,000 to perform the testing Mike's reward requires...which it probably wouldn't be, but so-called health officials are the ones claiming that the vaccine is safe and effective and 'based on science'.

No one should have to perform the testing and trials; if it's based on science, they should already be done. All Mike is asking for is someone to produce the results, which apparently, so far, no one can.

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Jason at 2/25/2010 5:58 PM
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Jon, did you actually read the post or are you just doing the usual drive-by?

Mike's protocol cannot be done. It's not possible within the bounds of medical ethics.

The testing *has* been done. Mike's unethical version, however, has not and never will be.

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Jason at 2/25/2010 6:00 PM
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Let me just boil it down for you

1. Mike's offer is below cost
2. Mike's protocol is not possible to carry out ethically
3. Mike's conditions have a sneaky get-out clause which, as a bonus, adds cost to #1

Was that a bit easier for you?

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Jon at 2/26/2010 5:32 AM
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So then, Mike's reward aside, no vaccine's that are being touted as safe and effective are *really known* to be safe and effective because it would be unethical to test them thoroughly before recommending them to the general public?

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Jason at 2/26/2010 10:52 AM
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"So then, Mike's reward aside, no vaccine's that are being touted as safe and effective are *really known* to be safe and effective because it would be unethical to test them thoroughly before recommending them to the general public?"

Wrong. Again. I have to accuse you, once more, of not reading the article.

Placebo controlled trials are not ethically acceptable when a current treatment exists.

Let me break this down for you with a hypothetical example. I'll make it non-specific so you don't get bogged down in details.
........

A team of scientists "A" develops what they believe to be an effective vaccine for infectious disease "X".

First, this team must carry out a stringent test of non-human trials to establish toxicity levels and so on. These are carried out in-vitro on cell lines , or in animal subjects. These establish whether the vaccine is safe to go to trial.

Infectious disease X has no current good treatment, so the team are granted licence to run a placebo-controlled trial in human subjects.

This placebo controlled trial is a success and demonstrates a prevention rate of, say, 60%, with an acceptably low level of side-effect. Their vaccine is granted a licence and becomes the standard preventive measure for disease "X".

Now, a second team "B" develops what they believe to be a more effective vaccine for disease "X". They carry out their basic non-human trials just as the first team had to, and get to the point where they are to be granted licence for a human trial.

When this new vaccine goes to trial, they do NOT test against placebo. An effective, current treatment already exists, and it would go against medical ethics, as I explained in the article, to withhold this from the control population.

So the new vaccine is tested against the current best vaccine.

It is found that this new vaccine prevents at a rate of 70%, with about the same level of side-effect, so the new vaccine is granted a licence and replaces the previous vaccine as the standard treatment. If the prevention rate was lower, it would not become the standard treatment.

This happens over and over, with new vaccines coming to trial and being tested against the best current vaccine.

This is the key point that you don't seem to be getting. Placebo-controlled trials can only be carried out when no current effective treatment exists. I repeat: Placebo-controlled trials can only be carried out when no current effective treatment exists.

Mike's offer demands placebo-controlled trials where effective measures currently exist, therefore is impossible under medical ethics.

So again, you're wrong.

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Guns1inger at 3/11/2010 7:39 PM
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And while he is demanding impossibly high and unethical to meet testing for his "reward", he and his ilk are crying foul any time even rudimentary controlled testing is demanded for the efficacy of the quackery they promote.

Yes, in an ideal world every drug and vaccine would be completely without side effects. But then, in an ideal world, we would never need them because there would be no disease (and for some of the alt-med crowd, there isn't).

So to be fair and balanced, Mike should award his $10000 to anyone who can tell a good anecdote about the time their second cousin's aunt had the swine flu vaccine and didn't get sick, feel queasy or die. At least then we would be working on a level playing field.

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by numeros du casino at 7/21/2010 8:57 PM
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It is probably wouldn't be, but so-called health officials are the ones claiming that the vaccine is safe and effective and 'based on science'.No one should have to perform the testing and trials; if it's based on science, they should already be done. All Mike is asking for is someone to produce the results.

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Jason at 7/22/2010 10:31 AM
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New comment policy: From now on, if you're spruiking an online casino in your website link field, I'm deleting your comment. I don't give a fuck how salient it looks.

Now, to address your "point", such as it is:

Again, a commenter who's missed the point of the article

"if it's based on science, they should already be done. All Mike is asking for is someone to produce the results. "

Testing has been done. The vaccines are safe.

The particular tests that Mike specifies in his "prize" will not and can not be done, and that is a deliberate choice by Adams to protect his $10k.

He's not just asking for someone to produce results. He can read the results on pubmed, if he so wishes. He's asking for a specific type of trial which is just not applicable to vaccines

How hard is this for you dumbasses to understand?

# re: Mike's $10,000 is quite safe

Left by Jason at 7/22/2010 11:09 AM
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While I'm on the subject, I must point out, though, that even Mike wasn't mendacious enough to specify a crossover trial, as Meryl Dorey of the AVN has done more than once. A crossover trial means that everyone in the study population ends up getting the treatment.

For a vaccine, that kinda renders the point moot.
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