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Reply #54: Martha Herbert is a quack, sorry [View All]

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Spider Jerusalem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-28-09 05:48 PM
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54. Martha Herbert is a quack, sorry
Edited on Mon Sep-28-09 06:06 PM by Spider Jerusalem
her association with anti-vaccine nutters does her no favours, nor does her lack of scientific rigour in forming hypotheses. All of her claims (unsupported by a shred of evidence) are that autism has an environmental cause (which has been fairly strongly contra-indicated by actual science; the neurological differences in the brains of autistics are of such a nature and degree that they must have been present from a fairly early stage in gestation). And speaking as an autistic adult, I have no desire to be 'cured', thanks.

But there's plenty of dubious science there to go around, starting with the keynote speaker, Dr. Martha Herbert. She shares one characteristic with at least a couple of "luminaries" of the anti-vaccine "biomedical" movement. As Autism Diva and Kevin Leitch pointed out, like Dr. Mark Geier and Dr. Boyd Haley, Dr. Herbert has been slapped down by the courts, which used the Daubert standard to reject her testimony claiming that a child was made autistic by a reaction to mold growing in the condo she was living in. The court found:

Dr. Herbert's publications indicate that she is an outspoken advocate of increased attention to the possibility of environmental influences. Even she, however, despite that acknowledged perspective, speaks in her published work of possibilities and potentialities, rather than of the 'reasonable degree of medical certainty' to which she offers to testify under oath in this case.10 Neither Dr. Herbert's publications, nor any others cited, identify mold exposure as even a suspected, still less a known or proven, trigger of autism......Dr. Herbert's method, to the extent the Court can discern it from the materials offered, is a series of deductions based on possibilities.....*Clearly, Dr. Herbert's method is not generally accepted in the scientific community*. Dr. Herbert's theory of environmental triggers of autism may some day prove true. It has not yet. Her proffered testimony does not meet the standard of reliability required by the case law, and cannot be admitted in evidence at trial.

Dr. Herbert is a big fan of the idea that autism has something to do with neuroinflammation. Unfortunately, none of her publications persuasively presents evidence for this hypothesis, and lately she's publishing in bottom-feeding alternative medicine journals articles with titles like Learning From the Autism Catastrophe: Key Leverage Points. Suffice it to say, Dr. Herbert is big on "biomedical" woo, so much so that anti-vaccine propagandist David Kirby likes to cite her and Age of Autism loves her.

Dr. Woo--I mean Dr. Hyman--then goes on to cite a whole lot of, well, woo:

Dramatic scientific discoveries have taken place during the last 10 to 20 years that reveal the true causes of autism -- and turn conventional thinking on its head. For example, Martha Herbert, MD, a pediatric neurologist from Harvard Medical School has painted a picture of autism that shows how core abnormalities in body systems like immunity, gut function, and detoxification play a central role in causing the behavioral and mood symptoms of autism.

She's also given us a new way of looking at mental disease (and disease in general) that is based on systems biology. Coming from the halls of the most conservative medical institution in the world, this is a call so loud and clear that it shatters our normal way of looking at things.

Everything is connected, Dr. Herbert says. The fact that these kids have smelly bowel movements, bloated bellies, frequent colds and ear infections, and dry skin is not just a coincidence that has nothing to do with their brain function. It is central to why they are sick in the first place! Yet conventional medicine often ignores this.

Dr. Herbert's work shows nothing of the sort. Go ahead. Head over to PubMed and look at Dr. Herbert's publication record. I'll wait. She has listed 15 publications about autism, of which:

* six are review articles
* two are in alt-med journals, and one of these is an interview
* one is a paper with dozens of authors reporting the results of mapping autism risk loci using genetic linkage and chromosomal rearrangements. (Dr. Herbert is solidly right in the middle of the huge pack of authors.)

Of the remainder, Dr. Herbert only appears to be first author or senior author on four publications on autism containing original research, and these appear to be all imaging studies of the brains of autistic children. In other words, Dr. Herbert is making claims far beyond what her publication record in the peer-reviewed literature can, even under the most charitable interpretation possible, support. Nothing at all in her publication record appears to support the concepts above of autism being a systemic, rather than brain-based condition. There's nothing about systems biology there (and I actually rather like systems biology); nothing there to support a link between autism and gut disorders; nothing to support a link between autism and immune dysfunction; and nothing to support a link between "environmental influences" and autism. That's not to say that there aren't environmental factors that influence the development of autism; it's just that there's nothing in Dr. Herbert's publication record to support such a hypothesis or to identify what, if anything, those environmental factors might be.

In other words, there is nothing at all to support Dr. Hyman's claims, which appear to be based on Dr. Herbert's claims.

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  -Harvard researcher: Autism may be "chronic disease" that is "reversible." pnwmom  Sep-28-09 12:10 PM   #0 
  - Weren't you just complaining about the term "anti-vaccer?"  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 12:19 PM   #1 
  - Why is this shit? n/t  sandnsea   Sep-28-09 12:23 PM   #2 
  - Some people have difficulty processing new or conflicting information.  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 12:28 PM   #3 
  - There is no new information. Or any information whatsoever.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 12:34 PM   #5 
     - "She's even alleging a conspiracy theory as to why she can't get funding."  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 02:02 PM   #15 
     - Marcia Angell's also an outspoken critic on nuts like Herbert.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 02:04 PM   #16 
     - Well, if that's the case, she's even more credible as it relates to this story. However, I'd  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 02:06 PM   #18 
     - And she HAS gotten funding. But what she describes is typical of how the  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 05:10 PM   #44 
     - Excellent, Dr. Angell! Thanks, mzmolly--great find!  bobbolink   Sep-28-09 06:22 PM   #67 
     - "SCIENTIFIC REVIEW PAPERS"  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 02:13 PM   #19 
     - 8 publications by an assistant prof.  izzybeans   Sep-28-09 02:23 PM   #21 
     - Apparently so.  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 02:43 PM   #25 
     - And that doesn't include all the papers by the associate whose work  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 05:12 PM   #45 
     - Do you know what a review paper is?  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 02:51 PM   #26 
     - Yes do you? You may wish to familiarize yourself with the journals  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 03:07 PM   #32 
        - And you may want to address the actual point.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 03:33 PM   #35 
           - Ah, the goal posts keep moving it seems? At your request, I searched pubmed  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 07:08 PM   #84 
              - Thank you, mzmolly, for your work putting this together. n/t  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 07:13 PM   #86 
              - No problem.  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 07:19 PM   #89 
                 - It is really intriguing information  Chemisse   Sep-29-09 05:23 PM   #128 
                    - I agree.  mzmolly   Sep-30-09 12:09 PM   #150 
              - Thank you, mzmolly, for your work putting this together. n/t  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 07:13 PM   #87 
              - Moving goal posts? No, same one as always.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 07:23 PM   #92 
                 - Apparently you did not click on the links?  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 07:34 PM   #96 
                    - I saw it, but it doesn't address my point.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 07:44 PM   #101 
                       - The papers say exactly what I think they  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 08:48 PM   #103 
                          - What do you think they say?  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 12:37 AM   #106 
                             - What do you think I think they say? I don't recall mentioning vanilla air fresheners?  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 01:01 AM   #109 
                                - Problem is, that's got nothing to do with the claims in the OP.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 01:11 AM   #111 
                                   - It does if  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 01:15 AM   #112 
                                      - Sure. If.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 01:15 AM   #113 
                                         - I think that's all the Dr. is saying  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 01:17 AM   #114 
                                         - Yeah, she's making shit up too. That's the point.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 01:20 AM   #115 
                                         - Hannah Poling is a real  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 01:27 AM   #118 
                                         - Hannah Poling has nothing to do with autism.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 11:40 AM   #121 
                                         - Laughable, yet tragic as some are so easily misled.  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 12:39 PM   #122 
                                         - If I choke on a piece of broccoli...  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 03:15 PM   #125 
                                         - I'll allow your distorted analogy to speak for itself.  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 04:27 PM   #126 
                                         - And they're all a bunch of exploitative fucks.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 05:02 PM   #127 
                                         - I hate to be the one to break this to you,  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 05:28 PM   #129 
                                         - They're also ones who misdiagnose autism.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 05:36 PM   #131 
                                         - Autism IS a set of symptoms.  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 05:42 PM   #133 
                                         - Yes, but you're splitting hairs.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 05:50 PM   #134 
                                         - See the  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 06:54 PM   #141 
                                         - See it? Analogy? Hell.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 06:58 PM   #144 
                                         - You're no longer  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 07:01 PM   #146 
                                         - Yeah, you keep saying that.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 07:06 PM   #147 
                                         - I should  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 07:12 PM   #148 
     - hey, great list, thanks!  tigereye   Sep-28-09 03:04 PM   #31 
     - "Herbert has no scientific publications to support what she's claiming." - Really?????  Jim__   Oct-01-09 04:19 PM   #154 
  - Herbert's a fucking loon. As woo as a person can get.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 12:33 PM   #4 
     - From the comments at that link (thanks for the link, btw)  Maru Kitteh   Sep-28-09 12:46 PM   #7 
     - Is that all?  sandnsea   Sep-28-09 01:43 PM   #11 
     - No.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 01:57 PM   #13 
     - Well if "Autism Diva" (who is a lab tech) say so, it must be true.  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 02:05 PM   #17 
        - Argument from authority.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 02:52 PM   #27 
           - LOL  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 03:00 PM   #29 
           - Indeed.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 03:34 PM   #36 
              - Well, not everyone is as credentialed as your lab  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 06:36 PM   #69 
                 - I'm not claiming her credentials as a strength of her arguments.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 07:00 PM   #76 
                    - You noted the lab tech in question as a source regarding  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 07:22 PM   #91 
                       - Yes, but not because she's a lab tech.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 07:25 PM   #93 
                       - I like my argument  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 07:35 PM   #97 
                          - Yes, obviously. You keep making it.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 07:36 PM   #99 
                             - Whateves you sayz...  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 07:40 PM   #100 
                       - LOL. n/t  pnwmom   Sep-29-09 12:55 AM   #108 
                          - For some reason  mzmolly   Sep-29-09 01:02 AM   #110 
           - you have had your ass handed to you so many times. It's hilarious YOU are the one bringing up  KittyWampus   Sep-28-09 06:04 PM   #55 
              - "YOU ARE THE ONE DOING IT"  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 06:14 PM   #61 
                 - No you are. This is one time right now.  HysteryDiagnosis   Sep-30-09 07:09 PM   #151 
  - actually  d_r   Sep-28-09 02:00 PM   #14 
  - Which is possibly related to the fact that many autistic people  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 05:14 PM   #46 
  - Deleted message  Name removed   Sep-30-09 07:14 PM   #152 
  - What does the OP have to do with vaccines?  Jim__   Sep-28-09 03:23 PM   #34 
     - OP's trying to assert a vaccine/autism connection.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 03:35 PM   #37 
     - Where in the OP is this connection asserted? - n/t  Jim__   Sep-28-09 03:37 PM   #39 
        - Oh, it's not asserted.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 03:38 PM   #40 
     - Thank you. He wants to say that I am anti-vaccine because he considers  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 05:20 PM   #47 
        - No.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 05:29 PM   #50 
  - There are a host of illnesses  KT2000   Sep-28-09 12:43 PM   #6 
  - That link doesn't work for me. Can you check it again, please?  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 12:49 PM   #8 
  - New link  KT2000   Sep-28-09 02:33 PM   #22 
     - Thanks, KT. I'm allergic to mold, too, so it makes sense to me.  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 05:36 PM   #53 
        - That is terrific  KT2000   Sep-28-09 06:15 PM   #62 
           - And I bet she has a dedicated toaster, too -- as I do.  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 06:34 PM   #68 
  - Well said.  lumberjack_jeff   Sep-28-09 12:50 PM   #9 
     - For example, it is strongly associated with gluten and lactose intolerance.  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 12:53 PM   #10 
  - They're catching up with the science  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 01:47 PM   #12 
  - this seems quite hopeful  librechik   Sep-28-09 02:16 PM   #20 
  - What if there was a vaccine against Autism??  whoneedstickets   Sep-28-09 02:35 PM   #23 
  - MMR  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 02:54 PM   #28 
  - What if it turned out that a certain fraction of autism cases  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 05:32 PM   #52 
  - Are those who've vaccinated their children anti-vaccine?  mzmolly   Sep-28-09 07:36 PM   #98 
  - Aww Geez..  Feron   Sep-28-09 02:38 PM   #24 
  - hmm, that's very interesting - would love to read more  tigereye   Sep-28-09 03:02 PM   #30 
  - Your first link - to alternative-therapies- doesn't work for me - n/t  Jim__   Sep-28-09 03:15 PM   #33 
  - Thanks for letting me know! See if this link works. (I just checked and it's working now)  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 05:27 PM   #49 
     - That works. Thanks.  Jim__   Sep-28-09 07:31 PM   #94 
  - This is Bullshit. This woman is a hack of the bigoted "pro-cure" organizations.  Odin2005   Sep-28-09 03:36 PM   #38 
  - This woman isn't a hack; she is highly qualified and well respected in the field.  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 05:23 PM   #48 
  - She's well respected in the field of woo woo.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 05:30 PM   #51 
  - anyone who doesn't fit in your little box isn't a woo. Your sophmoric need to name call  KittyWampus   Sep-28-09 06:08 PM   #57 
     - If my "little box" is the scientific method...  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 06:18 PM   #63 
  - Rather than "curing" us,  KamaAina   Sep-28-09 06:14 PM   #60 
     - This is what Dr. Herbert said when asked about a "cure":  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 06:40 PM   #70 
  - YOU may not need to be cured but there are many thousands of families dealing with autistic  KittyWampus   Sep-28-09 06:07 PM   #56 
  - Many parents are having good results with treating autism with diet  cpompilo   Sep-28-09 03:46 PM   #41 
  - Thank you and belated welcome to DU! nt  glitch   Sep-28-09 04:01 PM   #42 
     - personally, I would hope she's right. Something has to give people  roguevalley   Sep-28-09 04:04 PM   #43 
        - I have plenty of hope, and my child has a chance at a normal life right now  Book Lover   Sep-28-09 06:19 PM   #65 
  - Martha Herbert is a quack, sorry  Spider Jerusalem   Sep-28-09 05:48 PM   #54 
  - so you use guilt by association. Pathetic. You can't deal with what a scientist says  KittyWampus   Sep-28-09 06:10 PM   #58 
  - WTF got up your arse?  Spider Jerusalem   Sep-28-09 06:13 PM   #59 
  - Judges are ill qualified to make scientific judgments, unfortunately --  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 06:50 PM   #73 
     - That's why there's a codified rule for admissibility of 'expert' testimony in US courts.  Spider Jerusalem   Sep-28-09 07:01 PM   #77 
        - The fact that there's a coded standard doesn't mean that the outcome  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 07:08 PM   #83 
           - Herbert's quackery isn't supported by any reputable researchers.  Spider Jerusalem   Sep-28-09 07:19 PM   #90 
              - Do you understand what a paradigm shift entails? Of course you're not going  pnwmom   Sep-29-09 01:21 AM   #116 
  - Nice. You insult an autistic person for inablility to process information?  Maru Kitteh   Sep-28-09 06:18 PM   #64 
     - How would anybody know that  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 06:48 PM   #72 
        - Because I said so?  Spider Jerusalem   Sep-28-09 07:02 PM   #78 
        - It wasn't obvious to me who SJ was, sorry about that. n/t  pnwmom   Sep-29-09 01:22 AM   #117 
        - Because I can read maybe?  Maru Kitteh   Sep-28-09 09:28 PM   #104 
  - We know what Dr. Herbert's qualifications are. We know about her medical degree,  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 06:47 PM   #71 
     - The fact that she makes claims unsupported by evidence or original research...  Spider Jerusalem   Sep-28-09 06:51 PM   #74 
     - Here are her papers, since you appear to be ignorant of them.  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 07:04 PM   #80 
        - Do you know what a scientific review paper is?  Spider Jerusalem   Sep-28-09 07:06 PM   #82 
           - Her brain imaging analysis IS relevant to and provides part of the basis  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 07:10 PM   #85 
              - No, it doesn't  Spider Jerusalem   Sep-28-09 07:16 PM   #88 
                 - You keep proving that you haven't even bothered to read the interview. n/t  pnwmom   Sep-29-09 12:54 AM   #107 
                    - Oh, I read it  Spider Jerusalem   Sep-29-09 01:31 AM   #119 
                       - You are citing a quote from five years ago! In the interim, much research  pnwmom   Sep-29-09 01:45 AM   #120 
     - "What makes you qualified to say that SHE is a "quack"?"  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 07:02 PM   #79 
        - Sad some DU'ers just have to lie. No, she didn't. It's about adverse allergic reactions to chemicals  KittyWampus   Sep-28-09 07:06 PM   #81 
           - Yeah she did.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-28-09 07:31 PM   #95 
              - It must be very unpleasant to be so obsessively rigid  Chemisse   Sep-29-09 05:31 PM   #130 
                 - The scientific method allows us to learn new things all the time.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 05:38 PM   #132 
                    - Why are you so afraid of this topic?  Chemisse   Sep-29-09 06:09 PM   #135 
                       - Afraid of it?  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 06:15 PM   #136 
                          - OMG - the thread had nothing to do with vaccines!  Chemisse   Sep-29-09 06:29 PM   #137 
                             - Sure it does.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 06:33 PM   #138 
                                - Playing dumb?  Chemisse   Sep-29-09 06:41 PM   #139 
                                   - Case in point.  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 06:43 PM   #140 
                                      - Finally she admits it!  Chemisse   Sep-29-09 06:54 PM   #142 
                                         - on-line courses, eh?  HiFructosePronSyrup   Sep-29-09 06:56 PM   #143 
                                            - No, I was eligible to go to a real university  Chemisse   Sep-29-09 06:59 PM   #145 
  - Observation and question  Book Lover   Sep-28-09 06:21 PM   #66 
  - My youngest son has always had 2 or 3 children in his homerooms  pnwmom   Sep-28-09 07:00 PM   #75 
     - Thanks  Book Lover   Sep-29-09 01:01 PM   #124 
  - thoughts  kitfalbo   Sep-28-09 07:51 PM   #102 
  - I don't know what to think...but it's sad  whirlygigspin   Sep-28-09 11:11 PM   #105 
  - thanks, pmom  Duppers   Sep-29-09 12:51 PM   #123 
  - Wow! Sign me up!  Deep13   Sep-30-09 11:17 AM   #149 
  - Autism is Treatable Campaign  HysteryDiagnosis   Sep-30-09 07:15 PM   #153 
  - Watch this  Why Syzygy   Oct-01-09 04:52 PM   #155 

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