Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Great Apologizer

Dr. John Coffin delivered the most dramatic moment of the NIH State of Knowledge conference with his knock out blow of XMRV (video 3:36 onwards). The consequence of his statement lasted about three seconds, tops. At this point and earlier Dr. Coffin presented moments of what only could be labeled as "high comedy" - or absurdity.

Earlier, before and after his presentation, Dr. Coffin was impressive in his lengthy, twice repeated apology for popping the bubble of XMRV. There are those who will take Dr. Coffin at face value, and accept this as a genuine apology of a “pretty good” virologist. I am certainly willing to do this, but where I have trouble is when he repeats the exact same apology for a second time. Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain would have appreciated the humor here, and seen right through it. One apology is fine, two invites skepticism or the feeling of carelessness. What is his problem? Are we supposed to believe that this man is genuinely wounded, that his feelings are hurt? What about us, what about the patients who have been left behind? They are not a dumb retrovirus, they are real people, men, women and children being destroyed. These Coffin "apologies" are a bit thick.

It was instantly obvious to me that Dr. Coffin made a little major mistake and went a “bridge too far” with his recommendation that we leave XMRV behind. Carried away by impulse, he overplayed his part. While it had a very dramatic ring to it, Dr. Coffin must know that this is slightly premature - and one wonders why he did this? Of course it was in response to the leading question advanced by Suzanne Vernon, in the controlled detached voice of the wounded lover: "Where do we go from here John?". With Suzanne Vernon's question I knew something was up. In response, Dr. Coffin's declaration to "leave XMRV behind" had an air of languidity to it, and it seemed a bit forced. Compounding the problem was that immediately after declaring it, he started his habitual "backing up" and covering his bets. One could hear the crunching of gears as he put the car in reverse while it was still moving forward. My son Nicholas and I noticed this same behavior on the part of Dr. Coffin at the FDA conference on December 14th - this habitual shiftiness that invites comic disbelief.

Back to reality: Amy Dockser Marcus has written a blog article for the Wall Street Journal that can be found here. This article presents the XMRV controversy that erupted at the NIH State of Knowledge conference in a very accurate and balanced fashion, without any editorializing.


  1. Thank you, PA. What an odd dance between Coffin and Vernon. It struck me immediately that Vernon's question had been pre-arranged. It was not an honest question. She already knew the answer and simply laid the groundwork for him to say it. Why does the CAA appear to be at odds with the excellent researchers and doctors? It wasn't only against Mikovits, but others, too. What is really going on here? What could CAA's and Coffin's motives possibly be?

  2. Thanks for the blog Chris. Personally, I believe as happened with HIV, there is a shifting of focus by Coffin to try to get in line for the "next" retrovirus that could really be the "cause" of human disease. By trying to split hairs that this particular retrovirus (XMRV/PMRV) does not seem to be the one responsible for ME/CFS or prostate cancer (since it was man made in the early 1990s and ME/CFS has been around for decades) and then saying - but wait folks, there easily could be another gammaretrovirus at play is very telling to me. My fears that this is mostly about ego seem to have been confirmed by that one statement at the meeting. Seems rather easy now. Take the focus off XMRV, then Coffin discovers a closely related gamma relative and tries to take credit for finding the RIGHT gammaretrovirus responsible for disease. These have all been stalling techniques with the contamination. He knows and has always known that this is not contamination.

    And think about it. This would be the first discovered human retrovirus out of the control of the NIH. Rather scary for a large government institution to have a private institute spread the news before they could cover it up even longer than they have.

    If only they'd put their efforts to our benefit instead of their own, we'd be home free.

    Heidi Bauer

  3. It's past time to try to change what the CAA is doing. The only thing we can do now is organize outside of the CAA and try to get a foot in the door that way.

    CAA is deaf to us.

  4. Chris: Even watching from video Coffin's body language was screaming 'scripted', even in his statement about being hurt by patient responses.
    That is until Drs M and K refused to follow the script. Then it seemed to visibly and rapidly fall to pieces.

    I agree with the previous comment that there is indeed something rotten in the state of Denmark (or Maryland as the case may be) Coffin is nowhere near as socially smooth as Gallo however.

  5. Hi Chris. Thanks! I was waiting with eager to read your inputs about the Workshop. Dr. Coffin completed the show when he said: "Now we must leave XMRV behind"... and then "I think enough evidence has been presented that maybe another gammaretrovirus can be found, but not of course, XMRV". I wonder what will he call it... SHIT?


  6. XMRV is a polytropic and xenotropic hybrid. The WPI in Lombardi et al knew they must have other strains, because they had patients positive for serology.

    Coffin is all over the place, and has lost the plot. He hasn't got the data to back up his claims.

  7. Vernon's question looked scripted.

  8. Vernon and Mc Cleary are absolute rhimes with Witch. I've had it with them! They are against WPI because the WPI has done more in 5 years then thine done the entire time CDC or CAA has been on the cause.Vernon is a mole , Kim Mc Cleary is too ridiculously involved up to her ears in treating CFS with a bullshit Soft voice. Coffin had a slide a few months ago in which he said we are looking at this to see if it's infectious it was called XMRV 2o! Guess what ? The contamination theory is a way to buy time to distract and soon there will be another discovery XMRV - HGRV whatever you want to call it ! And he'll say oh but it's not the same thing WPI has been studying . It's malarkey he knows it and his buddies know it! Most of all he's not gonna get away with it. And the Band Played On Part Deux!!!!

  9. Oh I forgot something BRING IT. My family has been sick for way too long and I'm not playing nice anymore. We are going to fight tooth and nail for justice for us and for our friends. Can you say Congressional Hearing??? Who's with me?

  10. PA: "It's past time to try to change what the CAA is doing. The only thing we can do now is organize outside of the CAA and try to get a foot in the door that way."

    I agree. We have IMEA and ANIDA. It is time to focus on getting rid of the CAA.

    Patricia Carter

  11. Well we also have to ask why the CAA set up their own biobank with Glasko. Is this where they plan to find the new improved gamma retrovirus with a new name? But we know the CAA has always had a piece of this ME/CFS pie. Of course they want their cut. Didn't Coffin say his NCI study will publish soon? Will that be the new discovery? Or do they need to try and bury the WPI a bit further before cashing in? We have to remember that Vernon came from the CDC so she knows how the game is played. And everyone noticed the setup between her and Coffin. Pretty obvious. But Vernon did organize this meeting and she does have a vested financial interest in the illness. How exactly was she included in organizing a NIH meeting considering she is not from a government entity? And patients haven't considered her, or the CAA as their advocacy or research organizaton in quite some time. We will make sure they don't organize another.

  12. Sorry. In my comment above, I mistook the comment from "Chris" to be from the Patient Advocate. My apologies to Patient Advocate and to "Chris."


  13. It's time we leave Dr. Coffin and all similar sociopaths, CAA, CDC, NIH, Congressional Hearings, Insurance Companies and all other sorts of useless eaters behind.

    Isn't it?

  14. Vernon set up that "what comes next moment. It was soooo obvious. I;m disgusted with the CAA and have been for a long time. They actually work against us!

  15. When Coffin said "None of us retrovirologists went into this to disprove XMRV", and then something to the effect that their bosses hadn't told them to do this, I wrote down an observation a psychologist once shared with me: "Always look for the un-asked for denial. There'll you find the truth."

  16. The Kim and Suzie Show got a bit obvious at the end. Do you think they could be looking for money?

  17. Stuart LeGrice was there to watch over Coffin. He looked pretty nervous, but appeared to give his nod of approval to Coffin. He is the Dissembler in Chief, perhaps? That certainly was the role he played at the last CFSAC meeting.

  18. Coffin said "The statements are not only inaccurate, they are painful to read."

    here's a quote

    "The most reliable sign, the most universal behavior of unscrupulous people is not directed, as one might imagine, at our fearfulness. It is, perversely, an appeal to our sympathy.""

  19. Cui Bono? Who benefits? Follow the money. Disability insurers have the most to lose when this disease is proven to be biomedical and treatable with very expensive ARVs/Ampligen/AV drugs. They also have the most to lose by paying out on the claims of the disabled AND, this is important: when a claim is upheld, they have to put a certain amount in "reserves" to pay the claims in future. This removes money from their pool of investment funds, which is what they are all about in the first place. Get those premiums, invest them and pay out as little as possible in claims.

    Disability insurers, such as Unum, the worst offender but not the only one, are the puppetmasters pulling the strings of the psychobabblers both in UK and the US. They are the ones who have lobbyists in DC, including NIH and CDC, smoozing with the powerful, giving gifts and "educating" them on ME/CFS. At this very moment they continue their campaign to "re-educate" doctors in the UK who do not agree with Unum/Dept of Works and Pensions in-house "doctors" claims denials. At this very moment they continue to try to alienate US doctors who treat ME/CFS patients from their patients by snowing them under with mountains of paperwork, claiming documents were lost, never received, inadequate, and then claiming that their own in-house doctors disagree with the treating physician's diagnosis and recommendations.

    For information on the ongoing abuse of disabled claimants see this blog, written by a former employee of Unum:

    If you haven't watched Dr. Ken Friedman's contribution to this conference, I suggest you do. Finally, in a public forum, someone spoke of the elephant in the room. He ran down a list of people, including himself, who have been bullied, ostracized, fired, pressured, denied tenure or eased out of the "system" because of their positive involvement with ME/CFS patients and/or research. This unseen hand that attempts and often succeeds in squelching any forward momentum on the biomedical facts of ME/CFS needs to be exposed, and fast.

    Journalists, there are at least two huge stories here: the behind the scenes "pull" of the disability insurers and the concerted, well planned and executed war on those who would find out the truth. Is there anybody with the guts to do it?

    I would like to see everyone of those denialists and "contamination" promoters asked the question, "Do you or anyone close to you receive any benefit from any disability insurer?" I would like to see a close-up video of the face when that person responds, or have someone who reads faces and body language watching when they answer.

  20. Dear Anonymous 1.15am
    Your quote illustrates really well the game at play here.
    The player needs an audience that feels pity: ''it's painful to read''.
    The audience in the empathy process becomes more open and listens.
    The player strikes with the accomplice. Q: ''Where do we go from here John?'' A: ''We leave XMRV behind.''
    The audience, if not used to the game, is left emotionally vulnerable and falls for it.
    There is a term to describe the unscrupulous, the cruel, the lacking in empathy or feelings. At best they are manipulators at worst sociopaths.

  21. The setup question from Vernon to Coffin was as obviously fake as the kiss between Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley.

  22. Cort Johnson is reporting that Dr. Alter is leaning towards Dr. Coffins point of view about contamination. He states that Dr.Alter said this both during his moderation and afterward to bloggers and reporters. Can you verify this Chris since I believe you were there?

  23. Chris, please consider registering at this site, which I recently discovered:

    If reporters would more often interview people like you, maybe we'd get somewhere quicker!
    Thank you so much, as always, for being Advocate to all of us.
    Lots of love,

  24. Simply put, there is no proof of contamination.

    Coffin will not even attempt to try to explain the antibody responses and proteins detected by western blot. When asked why the controls were consistently negative and patients were consistently positive, he offers only conjecture. "The samples were collected differently" and "they used heparin tubes" are not scientific explanations, they are guesses. The contaminationists have assumed the premise of contamination is true and then have used that to conclude how the contamination occurred--obviously a fallacy of logic.

    During his personal appeal, Coffin said, "We think we've gotten it right, I hope I've convinced you." Why? Such words have no place in science. If he was right, there would be no need for hoping and convincing.