Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Confirmation Bias or Religious Delusion?

Tension between Dr. Mikovits and the institute’s president was apparently brewing for months. One point of contest had to do with Mikovits' lack of faith in the WPI's commercial laboratory's ability to provide accurate tests for XMRV. Vincent Lombardi headed the commercial lab, formerly called VIPdx and more recently renamed Unevx. The lab initially was owned by the Whittemores and other investors, but in a press release, WPI spokeswoman Frankie Vigil wrote eventually, "the Whittemore family put their interest in VIP Dx into a trust to benefit WPI." More recently, a Unevx website said the lab is a "wholly owned entity of the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI)." Beginning in late 2009, the lab began selling tests for XMRV infection to patients. Mikovits' concern was extreme after long-awaited results became available last spring from the government and private consortium known as the Blood Working Group, which indicated that tests for the virus were unreliable. Mikovits urged the WPI president to shutter the institute's commercial lab.
So Mikovits "knew" at least since spring that the VIPdx/Lombardi results were not trustworthy*). She hasn't spoken out publicly since that these test were null and void, as far as I know. She keeps on claiming that "XMRV" is a human pathogen ("HGRV", "Human gamma retro virus"). With this implication we still have patients running around posting bullshit about "HGRV".

For some patients, it is only the work of Judy Mikovits that is supposedly trustworthy, all others are basically said to be lying (The WPI, Lombardi, VIPdx, Lipkin, etc.). That leaves us with only Judy, who is supposed to have the "one truth", some heretics like the WPI (who still "believe" in XMRV, but "somehow got it wrong") and all the "non-believers". Religious delusion like this is built on uncritical confirmation bias.

*) The 2009 XMRV Science paper was authored by Lombardi, which should make it null and void in the eyes of the Saint-Mikovits-Religous-Zealots.

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