Tag Archives: Study

BioMed Central Breaks Policy by Retracting Brian Hooker’s Study

retraction guidelines

By Jake Crosby

Above is a summary of the reasons that justify a possible paper retraction, according to Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)’s retraction guidelines that are also used by BioMed Central (BMC). However, none of the above reasons were even mentioned in BMC journal Translational Neurodegeneration’s below justification for retracting Dr. Brian Hooker’s study, “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data”:hookerretraction


Clear evidence of unreliability, duplication, plagiarism and unethical research are all valid considerations for retracting a paper, but “concerns” are not according to the very retraction guidelines BMC says it follows. Such considerations do not include “undeclared competing interests” either. Although alerting readers to such non-disclosures may serve as a purpose of a retraction according to COPE, they are not justification for a retraction.

BMC’s retraction of Dr. Hooker’s paper is only the latest of policy breaches by the publisher after it deleted his article from its website in breach of policy on the permanency of articles. Citing a then-pending investigation, BMC refused to comment on that violation when contacted by Autism Investigated. Now with the paper retracted in breach of yet more policies supposedly followed by BMC, the publisher has even more explaining to do.

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.

BioMed Central Breached Its Policies By Deleting Brian Hooker’s Study


By Jake Crosby

Below is the excuse the publisher BioMed Central gave for deleting Dr. Brian Hooker’s study from the medical journal Translational Neurodegeneration:

But whatever “possible undeclared competing interests” may have been outstanding, they clearly did not warrant taking down the article according to BioMed Central’s own policy for removing articles below. In particular, note the section boxed in red and how it clearly does not apply to Dr. Hooker’s paper at all:

There is nothing “unlawful” about “possible undeclared competing interests,” and the excuse for removing Dr. Hooker’s study makes no mention of “threatened legal claims.” BioMed Central breached its own “Permanency of articles” policy by deleting his study, amounting to scientific censorship and casting serious doubt on the objectivity of the publisher’s ongoing investigation of the paper. Moreover, the statement from the CDC whistleblower who coauthored the original study Dr. Hooker reanalyzed the data from lends credence to the validity of his conclusions.

Expanding on these concerns, I wrote the following in email to BioMed Central with the subject title, “Pulling Dr. Hooker’s paper violates your policies”:

Dear BioMed Central,

I am an epidemiologist, graduate student and editor of an autism news website. I am writing because I understand you have removed an article from one of your journals titled “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data,” by Dr. Brian Hooker out of concern for the validity of its conclusions because of “possible undeclared competing interests of the author and peer reviewers.” I should say I know Dr. Hooker personally and consider him a colleague and friend, though I am making this inquiry entirely on my own behalf and not on his or anybody else’s.

I have three questions for you concerning your take-down of his paper:

1.) What possible competing interests are there among the author and peer reviewers that have not already been declared and are so serious that they would warrant the deletion of Dr. Hooker’s paper?

2.) Shouldn’t the below admission from a coauthor of the original CDC study from which Dr. Hooker reanalyzed the data be an encouraging indication of his paper’s validity?

“I regret my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data was collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”


3.) According to BioMed Central’s “Permanency of articles” policy, even articles that are retracted remain in the public domain: “…the original article remains in the public domain and the subsequent correction or retraction will be widely indexed.”

This paper is not even retracted, despite an erroneous report from TIME Magazine. Yet Dr. Hooker’s paper has already been removed against your publisher’s policy which states:

“The preservation of scientific research is a cornerstone of science and as such we will use our best efforts to ensure that material published by BioMed Central is preserved and remains available for access.”

This is further backed up by the following statement, which very specifically lays out what reasons would justify the deletion of material from the public domain:

“However in the exceptional event that material is considered to infringe certain rights or is defamatory we may have no option but to remove that material from our site and those sites on which we have deposited the material in question.

BioMed Central therefore reserves the right to cease to make available articles that it has been advised are potentially defamatory or that infringe any intellectual property right, or are otherwise unlawful.”

Clearly, the questions about paper’s validity and any subsequent “public interest” did not warrant its deletion. There was nothing potentially defamatory, copyright-infringing or otherwise unlawful about Dr. Hooker’s paper. Regardless of whether non-declaration of possible competing interests by the author or peer reviewers is true, there is nothing that would be “unlawful” about it.

BioMed Central clearly lays out how it handles the removal of such material:

“Where this occurs the article will remain indexed. However in place of the article or header the following will appear:

“BioMed Central regrets that this article is no longer available to avoid threatened legal claims”.”


This does not apply to Dr. Hooker’s paper at all, and no such statement was made in place of his paper. It is therefore clear that you pulled his paper in breach of your own stated policies.

How can readers trust the objectivity of any subsequent editorial investigation since your reason for pulling the paper is contradicted by your own permanency policy in the first place? That reason hypocritically calls into question the objectivity of the author and peer reviewers, yet your investigation is not being conducted in an objective manner.


Jake Crosby, MPH
Editor, Autism Investigated

BioMed Central sent me this reply:

Dear Jake,

Thank you for your message. We are not providing further comment until the investigation is concluded.
I will keep your email and let you know when that is.

Best wishes,


Anna Perman
Media Officer

I then responded:

Dear Anna,

Will you at least explain why his paper should stay down when deleting it in the first place clearly goes against your permanency policy?


Receiving an automatic reply, I sent a similar email to another BioMed Central employee only to receive an automatic reply from that person as well. As the study remains deleted, the publisher’s subsequent “investigation” of it is clearly anything but objective.

BioMed Central should abide by its own policies, and restore Dr. Hooker’s study to the public domain of Translational Neurodegeneration immediately.

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.

No More Federal Research Fraud – OPPOSE HR1757!


By Jake Crosby

Yesterday, Age of Autism ran an action alert from its sponsor, SafeMinds, urging readers to ask their congressional representatives to support HR1757, or the “Vaccine Safety Study Act.” SafeMinds describes HR1757 as follows (boldface mine):

“Also known as “The Vaccine Safety Study Act,” this bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), directs the National Institutes of Health to conduct a retrospective study of health outcomes, including autism, of vaccinated-versus-unvaccinated children…”

In other words, this bill aims to mandate the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study of autism and other disorders before the NIH and other federal agencies are forced to clean up their act and stop engaging in the institutional research misconduct that causes the vaccine-autism cover-up to persist. Although the initiatives of congressional representatives like Bill Posey and Carolyn Maloney to investigate malfeasance by government agencies should be commended, HR1757 only helps to legitimize and facilitate federal research misconduct by agencies like NIH, while distracting from efforts to expose government corruption. Autism Investigated supports vaccinated versus unvaccinated research conducted by independent researchers at academic institutions, but not conducted by federal agencies that merely pursue predetermined results. NIH is one of those agencies. According to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in his Rolling Stone article “Deadly Immunity”:

“Even in public, federal officials made it clear that their primary goal in studying thimerosal was to dispel doubts about vaccines. “Four current studies are taking place to rule out the proposed link between autism and thimerosal,” Dr. Gordon Douglas, then-director of strategic planning for vaccine research at the National Institutes of Health, assured a Princeton University gathering in May 2001. “In order to undo the harmful effects of research claiming to link the [measles] vaccine to an elevated risk of autism, we need to conduct and publicize additional studies to assure parents of safety.” Douglas formerly served as president of vaccinations for Merck, where he ignored warnings about thimerosal’s risks.”

That alone should disqualify NIH from conducting research on vaccines and autism, but there’s more. When I had an opportunity to speak to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins at the July 2012 IACC meeting, he defended the 2004 Institute of Medicine report his agency co-sponsored for which the decision to reject autism as a side effect of vaccination was determined before the review of any scientific research. Dr. Collins also defended his agency expelling me from a talk by millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit, after Offit libeled me. Additionally, NIH destroyed video footage of my removal and then ran an article in its weekly newsletter repeating Offit’s libel. Most egregiously, in 2011 BMJ editor Fiona Godlee was invited to libel Dr. Andrew Wakefield at NIH. I asked her questions during her lecture, and none of her allegations held up to questioning.

The action alert itself, written by SafeMinds’ Executive Director Eric Uram, is wrong on multiple levels. He gives his organization full credit for CDC data obtained through FOIA showing cumulative thimerosal exposure from vaccines multiplies the risk for autism and other disorders exponentially, when in fact that data was actually discovered by Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs‘ Vice President David Geier. Uram also repeats one of the vaccine industry’s major talking points – that prospectively studying unvaccinated children would be unethical. In fact, there is no way one could argue a prospective study would be unethical as long as the study investigators have no control over the exposure.

A prospective study would be more rigorous and possibly more feasible to conduct with the increasing numbers of unvaccinated patients. Yet there is data obtained through FOIA showing significant harm done by just one ingredient in vaccines coupled with the fact that the vaccine schedule as a whole has never been tested. So a randomized controlled trial would not only be ethical, but necessary and way overdue. A retrospective study like the kind SafeMinds is asking for would be much easier for NIH to manipulate than a prospective study, whether experimental or observational. It is especially unfortunate that SafeMinds has succeeded at convincing congressmen like Bill Posey that such a study is the way to go.

To ask your representatives to oppose HR1757, follow the steps below:

•    Find your House Representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.

•    Call and schedule a meeting at their district office and urge them or their staff to oppose this very destructive bill, knowing the outcome of any NIH vaccine study.

•    Contact the offices of Rep. Posey and Rep. Maloney. Explain to them very politely that while you support vaccinated versus unvaccinated research, you do not support such research being done by federal agencies that have committed scientific misconduct to cover up adverse side-effects from vaccines. Ask that they work instead to expose the research fraud committed by government agencies like NIH, not ask for more research from NIH.

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated and is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is completing his candidacy for an MPH in epidemiology.