conflict versus conversation

At the January 2013 monthly meeting, NESACS hosted Dr. Allen Steere, the world’s foremost expert on Lyme disease. Since Lyme disease was identified over thirty years ago Dr. Steere has embarked on an “odyssey” to find its cause and cure. A NY Times article from 2001 about Dr. Steere can be found here. Currently acceptable diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease can be found on PubMed .

Lyme disease, while only recently tracked by the CDC , does not seem like a controversial subject. Dr. Steere, a reserved physician and researcher, presented his findings articulately and concisely. But twenty minutes into the presentation, it became clear that some people vehemently disagreed with his conclusions. From the back of the room, Mr. Timothy Grey claimed the US government intentionally infected ticks with recombinant pathogens, implying that citizens had been intentionally exposed. Before being escorted out of the room, Mr. Grey leveled a disturbing accusation: “Allen Steere’s papers killed my sister . . . her blood is on your hands . . . You’re a monster and I’ll make it my life’s work to see you in prison.” Mr. Grey was swiftly escorted out of the room, defiantly protesting his removal down the corridor and to the elevator.

Myself and other participants in the forum exchanged anxious glances. Did this man intend to physically harm anyone? Would he return? He was sitting with others at the back of the room- were they also dissenters? What were their intentions? Should the meeting proceed?

After a few moments of tense and awkward silence, Dr. Steere briefly explained that Mr. Grey was part of a “strong Lyme disease counter culture that disagrees with everything about mainstream medicine.” Mr. Grey is also a filmmaker who created a documentary in 2009, “Under the Eightball,” which purports to connect US biowarfare programs to Lyme disease. The film also chronicled his younger sister’s struggle with Lyme disease, which possibly caused her death. The documentary is only available for purchase through its facebook site, but you can read a movie review that describes it in more detail. Of course, this information was unknown to me at the time of the meeting; I subsequently spent several hours on the internet researching both Dr. Steere and Mr. Grey. During the course of my inquiries I also discovered that Mr. Grey had gained access to Dr. Steere’s office in 2009 and surreptitiously filmed the encounter. You can watch that video on youtube.

It is clear that Mr. Grey has behaved unethically. Is it any wonder that Dr. Steere has hired bodyguards in the past? At the meeting, did anyone notice that NESACS did not advertise that “the public is welcome” for Dr. Steere’s presentation? I cannot imagine the frustration and fear of being stalked by someone who clearly wants to destroy my personal and professional reputation.

Unfortunately, confrontation has displaced conversation in public scientific discourse. Personhood, climate change, and vaccinations are all legislative issues that have significant ethical implications. However, counter-culture dissenters receive as much media attention as the cut-and-dry scientific mainstream. Scientists are hindered by negative stereotypes and poor PR. The result is a public that does not believe that truth in science is dictated by data, but instead determined by righteous fervor. This misguided notion benefits no one in the long run.

At the end of Dr. Steere’s presentation, which concluded without incident, the audience was invited to ask questions. Unsurprisingly, no one inquired about alternative therapies for Lyme disease or government-sanctioned experiments performed on deer ticks. I must admit, though, Mr. Grey piqued my curiosity. Maybe I should have had a conversation with Dr. Steere about it.

Update: This post is no longer accepting comments. Check out my other posts, and thanks for reading.

About these ads

7 thoughts on “conflict versus conversation

  1. READ: Author – Johanna Ferguson’s article in the American Journal of Law & Medicine, titled ” Cure Unwanted? Exploring the Chronic Lyme Disease Controversy and Why Conflicts of Interest in Practice Guidelines May Be Guiding Us Down the Wrong Path.”

  2. KR Fletcher:

    If you really dug into the subject of lyme disease with a open mind you might have joined Timothy Grey in his endeavour. There are thousands of people suffering from a disease that could have been easily cured or better yet prevented if information that is due to the citizens of this country had been given to them. I speak from passion – not anger- I am way past that although somtimes in the eyes of my kids are feel a little ping of that amosity but I squash it knowing it will get me nowhere. Fact is the test that Dr. Steere and IDSA profilerates is the best is wrong more than it is right. That is why some states have made it mandatory that doctors must give patients a disclosure about the tests. Another fact is where the bacteria is considered to be a risk. I am in Texas where Texas says bite of a tick, FLEA, AND POSSIBLE OTHER BITING INSECTS. I went a step further and talked to Texas health Department. They claim in 1990’s fleas were tested in 10 counties in Texas and found to harbor the bacteria in their gut. You can personally talk to Eric Fonken about this, Five ticks from our home (just the ones I sent in) were tested by A&M and found to be deer ticks and harbor the borrelia in them. This can be verified as well. CDC has Texas as a no risk state. REALLY? I dont believe I am the only magical one who has infected ticks on my property. How about the quarantined land down in south Texas because of Cattle tick fever. There are validated studies out there that prove the velocity of borrelia burgdorferi – afterall its cousin causes syphillis. They are a bad bunch of criminals.

    One must intelligently ask why is this the most debated medical condition in history if its such a non-existent problem. Dr. Steere claims he discovered it on his web site when actually it was none other but Willy Burgdorferi. You might want to look at his comments on the movie “UNDER OUR SKIN”. This is a problem bigger than anyone can imagine. Ignoring it will not make it go away. Why would Dr. Steere spend 30 years of his life investigating an illness that the IDSA proposes will go away in 3 weeks with antibiotics? That would be like me spending 30 years investigating the common cold. I am astounded that 30 something years have passed since Polly Murray questioned the cluster of arthritis and this is all we have to show for it?

  3. Here is Wormser ( one of the Lyme researchers and Steere’s pee)r stating OspA, either from vaccination or by Borrelia infection is Immunosuppressive. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10865170 He still is not aware of how OspA reactivates latent Herpes infections, namely EBV and HHV6. reactivated Herpes infections inhibit cellular apoptosis in EBV infected cells leading to a diagnosis of Leukemia, Lymphoma or B cell cancers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s