Scientific dishonesty

Scientific dishonesty?
Mattias Lantz and the Fallujah Uranium papers

Mattias Lantz, who calls himself ďLantzelotĒ, produces a large volume of writings, calculations, attacks and even an amusing photocollage all aimed at destroying the scientific credibility of my research and the activity of my colleagues in Sweden and elsewhere. Lantz is either a very committed, even obsessed individual with a lot of spare time, or else he is employed by the nuclear industry to carry out his research and publish his conclusions on the internet.

Now the first thing that should be said about scientists is that they should try to discover the truth: indeed, this is Lantzelotís platform, and his writings are all aimed at arguing that my research is not intended to find the truth but is dishonestly fitted up to find what I have decided beforehand by selecting data. But it is Lantzelot himself who is dishonest in this regard and his approach - dissecting out sections of my work and attacking them individually - is typical of nuclear industry thinking, and particularly of the way the nuclear industry's physicists avoid the clear truth that exposure to internal radionuclides carries an enormously high level of hazard. Typically, these people ignore the evidence but attack its authors. If they are forced to consider the evidence they look at it minutely and try to find some small part that they can attack. If that attack seems plausible, they say the whole study is destroyed and they can ignore it. This kind of thinking denies the scientific principle known as the Principle of Instance Accumulation - the idea that one should look at all the different pieces of evidence taken together. It is the thinking of a chicken pecking obsessively at one piece of corn while missing the wider fact that a fox is about to attack. If you look at Lantzís arguments about the Fallujah papers you will see exactly how it works. Before I deal with those arguments I will briefly give an account of how I first met him, and how I discovered an earlier example of his dishonesty.

1. Breast cancer in Sweden after Chernobyl
At a meeting in Stockholm on August 10th 2010 I gave a presentation as part of the Baltic Sea Tour organised by www.bsrrw.org and various anti-nuclear groups. I spoke about the high levels of radioactivity in the Baltic Sea and argued that since the contamination was much higher than in the Irish Sea, where I had found cancer increases in coastal populations, there should be an examination of small area cancer rates in Baltic Sea countries. Unfortunately, cancer incidence rates in small enough areas to allow such examination are not made available by the cancer registries: they are kept secret. County level data is however available on the internet. To support my arguments I presented some results of a study I had previously made of breast cancer rates in Sweden. I argued that we could get some idea about the sea coast effect by comparing Baltic Sea coastal counties with inland counties on the Sweden/Norway border. I had already made this presentation in Riga and it was on the internet, so Lantz had access to it, as did everyone else. The results were very interesting and hard to argue with although they did not compare with the small areas study that I wanted to carry out. In passing I should say that in 2010 I asked for European funding for this Baltic sea coast cancer study in a joint application with colleagues at the Karolinska Institute and the Riga Technical University and other groups. The application was turned down and my colleague at the Karolinska Institute, Professor Olle Johansson, suddenly lost his research facility and funding. So much for independent science.

But in the pilot County study which I was able to do, the period after Chernobyl, compared with some years before Chernobyl, showed significant increases in breast cancer incidence in the coastal counties of Sweden, but significant decreases in all the inland counties. This is because the radioactivity all flows to the sea and contaminates the coast.

During the meeting at which I presented these results, Lantz, posing as an independent scientist who had just come along out of interest, suddenly pulled out a sheaf of maps and data and started attacking the study on two main points. He said that I had omitted to use the county of Gotland and claimed that I had done this because it did not show the effect I wanted. Second, he said I chose the three years before Chernobyl as a control because they gave rates which fitted my prior hypothesis. He implied that I had done these things because I was dishonest

At the meeting I took his criticisms seriously, assuming he was genuine, and I had a long talk with him about how I would go back and do the study his way, and include more years in the pre Chernobyl period as a control. I explained that to do so would make the effect worse since there was a rising background rate, and that that was why I had chosen only three years before Chernobyl instead of the 5 years he wanted. I said that, as I was not Swedish and as Gotland was an island off the map I had looked at, I didnít know of its existence.

At the meeting Lantz was supported by Ingrid Eckerman, who I later learned was the head of an organisation called Swedish Doctors for the Environment. She later wrote to me and asked what I was doing about re-visiting the study with Lantzís suggestions. Well here is what happened. As promised, I re-visited the study and included Gotland. I brought in the 5 year pre-Chernobyl period. The overall results were worse. That is to say, the numbers all changed slightly but the cancer increases after Chernobyl in the coastal counties were slightly greater, as I had thought they would be. I sent these results to Ingrid Eckerman but she did not reply. I did not at that time have Lantzís name or contact details, but since then I have made these new results available and he will certainly have seen them. But he has not mentioned them or apologised. He has just moved on to other attacks. This is why I began to suspect that he was a dishonest, nuclear-industry-bought scientist. The interesting aspect of this story is that Lantz himself clearly had not done the follow-up study that he suggested I should do. Why? because, if he had, he would have realised that there was no substance to his case. But I believe he did not care - he just wanted to put me on the spot in a meeting. The proof that this is so and that he is also incompetent can be found in his latest attack which I turn to in section 2 of this paper.

Incidentally the increased cancer near the contaminated Baltic coast was found in many studies by the Finland Cancer Registry according to what I was told by Timo Hakulinen, its director, at a meeting Ditta Rietuma and I had with him in 2010 in Helsinki. Nevertheless it has not been published and neither Finland nor Sweden will give us the data for an independent study of the kind I did on the Irish Sea.

2. The Fallujah Sex Ratio
In the case of the two published Fallujah studies (1, 2,) we have a complete story. The following discoveries are all part of the general argument and should be taken together:
  1. There is an extraordinary high level of cancer in the population
  2. There is an extraordinary high level of congenital anomaly at birth in the population
  3. There is a high level of infant mortality in the population
  4. There is a statistically significant depression in the sex ratio of those born after 2004
  5. There is a statistically significant excess concentration of Uranium in hair from the parents of the birth defect children compared with control populations in Sweden and in Iraq and also in the world
  6. The concentration of uranium in hair from the mothers increases into the past with its highest level in 2005 (the longest hair analysed).
  7. The uranium is not natural but is slightly enriched and is therefore man-made.
  8. There is slightly enriched Uranium in the surface soil.
In addition, and taken as data, and referred to and cited in my papers we have that:
  1. There are significant increases in congenital malformations in Gulf War veterans
  2. There are chromosome defects in Gulf War veterans
  3. There is enriched uranium in the kidney of a Balkans veteran suffering from Gulf War syndrome
  4. There was enriched uranium found in a bomb crater in the Lebanon Israel war in 2006 as shown by two separate laboratories using two different techniques.
  5. There are many anecdotal reports and Iraqi published papers which present evidence of high levels of congenital malformations and cancer in areas where Depleted Uranium was used
  6. The US led forces attacked the city in 2004
  7. The USA have admitted using uranium weapons in the past.
  8. There are published patents in which uranium is used in warheads of ground based weapons.
  9. There are many published papers showing anomalously high genotoxic effects of Uranium
  10. There are chromosome defects in Uranium miners.
  11. Uranium is known to have a very high chemical affinity for DNA, the target for genotoxic effects
  12. Uranium, due to its high atomic number absorbs gamma radiation from the natural background and re emits the energy into the DNA as photoelectrons. This effect is not included in the current radiation risk models of the ICRP
Rather than look at the whole picture (which I have to say is overwhelming) Lantz (link) chooses to attack the sex ratio point (point 4 in the first list above). To do this he presents graphs of sex ratio in Sweden and in several Swedish towns. He argues that the variations in the 5-year sex ratios are natural, so they cannot be caused by uranium weapons. I will look at two of these graphs. The first is the sex ratio of Sweden 1968-2010, annually. I show it below, but I have drawn a red line though the data, breaking it into two data sets, before and after Chernobyl. I have done this to see if the effects found by Hagen Scherb in his various papers on the sex ratio effects after Chernobyl also occurred in Sweden. They do.
The slow fall in sex ratio before Chernobyl is seen in many European populations and is presented by Scherb and his co-workers in a number of published papers. Most recently they are to be found in his 2009 presentation at the 3rd International conference of the European Committee on Radiation Risk held in Lesvos Greece. The paper is published in the new book Fallujah and HealthóWhat to Expect (Busby et al 2011). Fig 2 presents one of Scherbís graphs (for Belarus) taken from these Proceedings.
So rather than making Lantzís point that the sex ratios naturally alter for no reason thaty can be connected with radiation, his graph actually shows that Sweden, where there was considerable Chernobyl fallout, exhibits a sharp change in the sex ratio brought about as a result of this. Scherb has stated that these sex ratio changes are associated with loss of the fetus and therefore the deaths of many girls or boys (depending on the direction of the effects, which is defined by whether the mother of father was more exposed). This in itself is a serious matter involving human rights consideration.
Fig 1. Sex Ratio in Sweden by year as graphed by Mattias Lantz. The value should be 1050. Note the slow fall in sex ratio before Chernobyl due to the reduction in the global weapons fallout doses and the sudden change in the trend after Chernobyl.

Sex Ratio in Sweden by year as graphed by Mattias Lantz

Fig 2. Sex ratio in Belarus from Scherb and Voigt in Busby et al 2011. Similar results are seen for other countries e.g. Denmark, Italy, Yugoslavia.

Sex ratio in Belarus as graphed by Scherb et al

I now turn to his second argument which relates to the variation in small numbers. He should know that the variation in small numbers can be dealt with by statistical methods. The possibility that the finding in Fallujah which we presented was a chance finding had already been statistically examined and had passed the standard (Poisson) test of random variation of a result. However, Lantz chooses to present the sex ratio for a specific town in Sweden, one where there is a very unusual deviation from the normal range of sex ratios that would be found. He must have trawled the towns in Sweden to find this. But let us take a closer look. The graph is shown in Fig 3 where we see Lantzís raw annual data in blue and what he says is a 5-year running average (shown in red).

What is immediately apparent is that Lantz has dishonestly shifted the 5-year moving average to the right. The reason he has done this is because the huge peak which he draws attention to is in reality inconveniently located at the point just after the 2nd Gulf War in 2003 and is very likely a consequence of exposure to uranium particles from that war. According to the graph as presented, this peak is in 2005. But note that the first data point for the 5-year average is placed in 1972. This is for an average for the 5 years 1968, 69, 70, 71, 72. Of course, if this is an average for those 5 years the result should be placed in the mid point in 1970, not in 1972. A similar trick has been used by another of the dishonest scientists associated with the nuclear industry, Dr Richard Wakeford, in a paper REF which argues that there was no increase in child leukaemia during the global weapons testing. Whereas Lantz shifted his graph to the right, to avoid Gulf War 2, Wakeford shifted his moving average to the left to suggest that there was data for the period of global fallout, whereas in fact there was not, since most of his data registries only began collecting data in 1959 after the fallout contamination had begun. My analysis of Wakefordís paper is here, where I also take a look at Lars Erik Holm, the Swedish Medical Officer of Health and ex-head of ICRP.

Regarding the peak in Avesta in 2003-2004 there is no doubt that uranium particles from that war travelled north to Sweden; I have published a paper showing that this is the case based on measurements made at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston and also based on global weather patterns at the time (Busby and Morgan 2005)

Fig 3 Sex Ratio for Avesta Sweden as presented by Mattias Lantz with wrongly placed 5-year averages on www.nuclearpoweryesplease.org (I have scribbled on it.)

Sex Ratio in Sweden by year as graphed by Mattias Lantz with wrongly placed 5-year averages

3. Conclusions
So here we have some evidence for the dishonesty of Mattias Lantz. His accusations of cherry-picked data and biased approaches are just what he himself is guilty of. The process has a name; psychologists know that it is common for people to transfer their own approaches to lying to others since they think everyone is like themselves.

If the sex ratio findings in Fallujah were an isolated finding, then we would justly be cautious about interpreting them as evidence of anything special, though it must be said that every effect has a cause. But in fact they are part of a set of observations and must be interpreted as one link in a powerful chain of evidence that shows high levels of genotoxicity of weapons-derived uranium particulates.

The question of the increases in cancer after Chernobyl in Sweden has been adequately addressed by Martin Tondel et al and the effects near the coast will be followed up by my group in the future given sufficient time and funding. I am disappointed that Inge Eckerman has seen fit to not apologise to me over the implicit attacks she made on my Breast Cancer study following my letter to her with the re-examined results and has, rather, joined the recent attacks on my credibility from her position with the Swedish Doctors for the Environment. Her behaviour in this regard has been shameful. At least Lantz makes no secret of his affiliations.

Chris Busby: 13th December 2011


References

Alaani Samira, Tafash Muhammed, Busby Christopher, Hamdan Malak and Blaurock-Busch Eleonore (2011) Uranium and other contaminants in hair from the parents of children with congenital anomalies in Fallujah, Iraq Conflict Health 5, 1-15

Busby C, Busby J, Rietuma D, de Messieres M (2011) Fukushima and Health ó What to Expect. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference of the European Committee on Radiation Risk. Lesvos Greece may 5/6th 2009. Brussels: ECRR Aberystwyth: Green Audit.

Busby, Chris; Hamdan, Malak; Ariabi, Entesar. (2010) Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005Ė2009. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 7, no. 7: 2828-2837.

Busby Chris and Morgan Saoirse (2005) Routine monitoring of air filters at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston, UK show increases in Uranium from Gulf War 2 operations. European J. Biology and Bioelectromagnetics 1(4) 650-668


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