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Author Topic: Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
Karl Haro-
von Mogel
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Posts: 250
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Post Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
on: April 21, 2013, 15:07
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I have seen this paper going around a little bit, and we just received a question about it by email. Anyone have any thoughts on it?

http://gmoevidence.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/GlyModern-diseaseSamsel-Seneff-13-1.pdf

Glyphosate's Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases, by Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff

Here is the question we received:

I am not a scientist, but I am a skeptic. I saw this pop up on Facebook today, and although I cannot judge the science several problems were evident to me. For one thing, the journal, Entropy, is a pay for publishing, open source publication. For another, the authors of this paper, which is really a review of the literature, do not list any type of academic credentials. One purports to be an independent researcher, but his email domain name is acoustictracks.net. The other seems to be connected to the Computer Science Dept. at MIT. Further, they seem to make some sweeping claims of glyphosate directly causing a number of diseases, by virtue of, what seems to me to be, pure speculation. And lastly, one of the references cited is the Seralini paper, and even I know the story on that one. I would love to read a considered response to this, by someone who knows what they are talking about.
Thanks.

Karl Haro-
von Mogel
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Post Re: Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
on: April 21, 2013, 16:33
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I have a couple comments to make about it. I think you are quite right to be skeptical about this for the reason that they appear to be trying to redefine all of these different diseases and point them to a common and bizarrely unrelated cause. I will pass the word on to some blogging doctors, but when you see weird buzzwords like "exogenous semiotic entropy" in a low-tier pay-for-play journal, you are likely encountering fringe beliefs about medicine. They are tying too many very different serious diseases to this one chemical, and there would be a simple way to prove this. If one chemical was causing all of these conditions, then you would find that there would be an association between people with alzheimers, autism, diabetes, etc. If someone had one disease they would be more likely to have the others at the same time than someone without the disease. I can find no discussion of this in the paper.

I tried looking up the definition of "exogenous semiotic entropy" And it appears that this paper is the only place where this term appears on the internet, along with uncritical sites promoting it. https://www.google.com/#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=%22exogenous+semiotic+entropy%22&oq=%22exogenous+semiotic+entropy%22&gs_l=hp.3...1370272.1371355.3.1371527.10.10.0.0.0.5.193.1454.0j9.9.0.cappsweb..0.0...1.1.9.psy-ab.v33O3CYsCZs&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45512109,d.aWM&fp=438b9e08942244a7&biw=1180&bih=672
Semiotics has to do with the study of language, and entropy is a measure of disorder in matter, so what are they defining pesticide exposure as a disorganization of language that comes from outside an organism? Sounds like pseudoscientific garbage to me. This is undefined in the paper - yet it appears in the abstract. Beware of bogus buzzwords!

Their information about agriculture doesn't seem to be very good at all. Wheat is not glyphosate-tolerant, so I don't see how that could be a major source of glyphosate exposure. Also, sugar is highly refined and though glyphosate is applied to the beet plants the sugar is very pure. I don't think any glyphosate is even detectable in sugar. I know the DNA and proteins aren't.

Finally, you asked about their credentials, and it doesn't appear that they have any publication history for experiments in this field. The contact author, Stephanie Seneff, appears to have a history publishing novel hypotheses for these various diseases, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Stephanie+Seneff but the only actual experimental publication from this author I found on PubMed is a gene prediction experiment involving linguistic algorithms: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15693733. This might explain the use of language-related terms in a paper proposing hypotheses about human diseases.

The primary author, Anthony Samsel, can be seen around the internet espousing his views on genetically engineered crops. They appear to be full of inaccuracies, and are rather hyperbolic in nature. Take this one, http://forumhome.org/millions-march-across-the-usa-against-gmos-on-world-food-day-p15126-78.htm where he describes Craig Venter as a Nazi scientist (Poe's Law fail).

Credentials don't make someone right, nor does getting it published in the right journal, but if the evidence was strong for all these diseases coming from glyphosate you would find accomplished doctors and scientists who work with these diseases publishing them in a reputable journal.

In sum, as far as the science goes, this paper appears to propose a set of hypotheses to explain many unrelated diseases with one single cause. That would require an extraordinary amount of evidence. Their discussion incorrectly takes the hypotheses that they propose and leap to the conclusion that glyphosate "may be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized Societies." They don't present evidence for this, and indeed only state "maybe", "possibly", and "plausibly" have a role in the many diseases they name, and call for verification of their ideas. Therefore, they only present a mere untested hypothesis, finally ending with the claim that glyphosate "may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment." You don't get to claim that after you say there's no verification of your hypothesis.

MaryM
Elite Hybrid
Posts: 442
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Post Re: Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
on: April 21, 2013, 17:51
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I didn't have time to go into the body of it this week--and the hundreds of references. It is certainly structurally unusual. But I was trying to figure out if this team had done work in this arena at all. Quickly I found another case of a curious publication, eviscerated by Orac: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/11/20/dumpster-diving-in-the-vaers-database-again/

It may be a pattern.

Karl Haro-
von Mogel
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Post Re: Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
on: April 21, 2013, 19:10
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Oh my, and the same journal, too. Seneff cited Wakefield to make claims about autism and vaccines. So not the vaccines but the GMOs causing it?
George Takei voice: "Oh my!"

Kevin-
Folta
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Posts: 7
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Post Re: Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
on: April 21, 2013, 20:34
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Someone sent that to me the other day too. I took the time to go through it. Again, a model work for logical fallacy.

My guess is that a chunk of it is plagiarized because parts are ultra cohesive and sciency and others are just plain nutso.

The email address of the lead author, if you look at the corresponding URL, is a recording studio with a dud website.

I'd love to get that half hour back.

vegwellian
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Posts: 4
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Post Re: Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
on: April 22, 2013, 19:24
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Thanks to everyone who responded. I am not certain now, but I think the link that brought me to that "study" might have been on the Seralini website. I know that credentials don't make someone right, but I often ask myself, when seeing extravagant claims about almost anything, why, if this claim has merit, is it not being investigated by more reputable scientists. It's like all the "weight loss breakthrough" supplements. If they worked, you wouldn't be ordering them from the back of a magazine.

Rachael-
Ludwick
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Posts: 125
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Post Re: Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
on: April 26, 2013, 08:35
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Reuters picked up this study, sadly. Keith Kloor calls them out for it: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2013/04/26/when-media-uncritically-cover-pseudoscience/#.UXqLsxnpXOd

MaryM
Elite Hybrid
Posts: 442
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Post Re: Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
on: April 30, 2013, 07:23
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Here's another good piece about the claims in the paper. Is Glyphosate Poisoning Everyone?

http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2013/04/30/is_glyphosate_poisoning_everyone.php

I'm not going to spend more time demolishing every point this way; this one is representative. This paper is a tissue of assertions and allegations, a tendentious brief for the prosecution that never should have been published in such a form in any scientific journal.

Mm hmm.

Kathy with-
a K
Wild Accession
Posts: 2
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Post Re: Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
on: April 30, 2013, 09:16
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Thanks so much for the line, MaryM.

I am compiling info for a presentation on GMO's. To be honest, I'm getting frustrated with the scientific literature on glyphosates-both "sides" quote studies to support their conclusions and it's difficult to weed through all of them. This website has helped. A LOT!

James-
Cooper
Segregating Population
Posts: 31
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Post Re: Glyphosate, disease, and "semiotic entropy"
on: May 20, 2013, 13:45
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If you haven't seen Seneff interviewed by Jeffrey Smith, you will appreciate Keith Kloor's Discover blog
where he makes light of the Youtube videos.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/?p=11187

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