Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Craven cave-in: How journalist/author Nina Teicholz was "disinvited" from the National Food Policy Conference (v2)

Nina Teicholz

Via Teicholz disinvited from food policy panel by Catherine Boudreau, Politico, March 25, 2016
...Nina Teicholz, an author who has publicly criticized the science behind the government's low-fat dietary advice, was recently bumped from a nutrition science panel after being confirmed by the National Food Policy Conference. The panel instead will include Maureen Storey, president and CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education.

...Teicholz said she was disinvited after other panelists said they wouldn’t participate with her. Thomas Gremillion, director of food policy at the Consumer Federation of America, which is organizing the conference, confirmed he’d hoped to have Teicholz on the panel “but it didn't work out...”

...Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, will speak on the panel, along with Barbara Millen, the former chairwoman of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and Angie Tagtow, executive director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Wootan said that “concerns were raised about Teicholz's credibility, given the significant inaccuracies in her work.” Wootan pointed to a list of 180 scientists who urged the British Medical Journal to retract a feature article by Teicholz last year.

Thomas Gremillion (source)

What caused Gremillion to rudely and unceremoniously kick a prominent journalist/author off the panel?

According to Teicholz, she received a March 9, 2016 e-mail from Gremillion inviting her to be a member of the “Turning Nutrition Science into Policy,” scheduled for April 6.

An hour later Teicholz accepted and everything was in place for a lively debate.

And isn't that a cornerstone of the scientific method?

A couple hours later, that prospect headed south.  

Margo Wooten (source) Barbara Millen PhD (source) Angela Tagtow (source)
From: Thomas Gremillion <>
Date: Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 12:20 PM
Subject: RE: Panelist info for Natl Food Policy Conference

Hi again Margo, Barbara, and Angie,
I apologize for inundating your inboxes this week but I wanted to let you know that we have confirmed Nina Teicholz (cc’ed) as our fourth panelist. Nina is an investigative journalist and author of The Big, Fat Surprise.

You should hear soon from your moderator Sue Pitman. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact me with questions.


It's unclear how "Thomas, Margo, Barbara, and Angie" passed the rest of that afternoon, but the next morning Gremillion gave Teicholz the axe.

On March 28 I e-mailed these questions to Gremillion and copied reporter Catherine Boudreau at Politico:
After you sent the March 9 e-mail, were you contacted by Ms. Wootan, Dr. Millen, Ms. Tagtow, or anyone else who expressed displeasure with Ms. Teicholz's presence on the panel?

How did you choose Dr. Storey to replace Ms. Teicholz and on what date did you invite her?

When you invited Dr. Storey, was she aware that she was replacing Ms. Teicholz?
Here's his prompt albeit skimpy reply:
From: Thomas Gremillion <>
To: "Peter M. Heimlich" <>
CC: "" <>
Subject: RE: blogger inquiry
Date: Mon, 28 Mar 2016 21:54:26 +0000

Hi Peter,

I don’t have any further comment on Nina Teicholz. I am very pleased with the program that we have put together for the National Food Policy Conference this year and I think our audience will be too.


In this e-mail she sent me (including the links), Teicholz was less taciturn:
It's startling to me that well-respected DC organizations like CSPI would take the stand that they simply can't tolerate debate and discussion. This behavior truly begs the question: what is it they have to fear? If the science that CSPI has been promoting for four decades can hold up to scrutiny, then they should welcome the chance to make that case. The reality is that in recent decades, there's been a tremendous re-evaluation of what causes nutrition-related diseases: if not dietary fat, as we've thought for so long, then what? But the political-industrial alliances in DC don't want this science to be heard. 

It's not just me, I know, because after I was disinvited, I proposed a Harvard MD and a former Dietary Guidelines Committee member to take my place, but they weren't invited, either. Also, some 4150 people signed a petition in just a week to get me reinstated. They know that the thinking has changed and that the science needs a full, open debate (read their comments--they are passionately in favor of science and debate).

CSPI has clearly been trying to shut down that discussion, not only by having me disinvited, but also by organizing a letter to retract a piece I wrote in The BMJ that was critical of the science behind the Dietary Guidelines. That piece has not been retracted. My work stands, and I believe it's beneath basic standards of intelligent debate to disinvite someone because their views pose uncomfortable challenges to established views.

April 6, 2016: This is a revised, expanded version of an item I posted on March 30, 2016 and took down a few hours later due to an unexpected editorial snafu. The substantive information is identical plus the updated version includes the quotes from Teicholz. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Retraction request showdown: publisher called out by SoCal lifeguard re: discredited drowning study


As Sidebar readers know, Stephen Langendorfer PhD, editor of a peer-reviewed aquatics journal called IJARE and a department head at Ohio's Bowling Green State University, is playing ostrich re: a retraction request filed last year by Ed Castillo who runs Golden State Lifeguards out of Woodland Hills, CA.

As I reported a few weeks ago, Langendorfer "purposefully" refused to respond to Castillo's request that a discredited drowning rescue study published in IJARE be given the heave-ho.

The study, which concluded that abdominal thrusts (the Heimich maneuver) are an effective treatment for drowning, was authored by two non-medical professionals, John Hunsucker PhD and Scott Davison of the National Aquatic Safety Company (NASCO), a Houston-area lifeguard training company which has been the subject of  wide-ranging criticism for promoting the thoroughly-discredited treatment.

In January, after decades of what Aquatics International magazine called "using people as guinea pigs," NASCO finally gave up the ghost.

Since Langendorfer's in hiding, Castillo just took his retraction request upstream to the head of Human Kinetics, the $37 million/year company responsible for publishing the squiffy study.

From: Chief Ed Castillo - Golden State Lifeguards <>
To: Skip Maier<>
Subject: NASCO Retraction Request
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2016 08:23:39 -0700

Skip Maier
Chief Executive Officer
Human Kinetics
1607 N. Market St.
Champaign, IL 61820

Dear Mr. Maier,

As you're aware, on September 21, 2015 I submitted a retraction request re: a controversial research study published by your company in the May 2010 issue of the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education (IJARE). As you're also aware, I sent my request to the journal's editor, Stephen J. Langendorfer PhD. Here's a copy:

Per this October 20, 2015 to you, Dr. Langendorfer stated that he does not intend to respond to my request

Therefore this e-mail is to formally submit my request to you.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to your reply.


Ed Castillo
Chief, Lifeguard/EMS Operations
Tactical Medic Operator
Safety Consultant

Pool Lifeguards, Ocean Lifeguards, Rescue Divers, Safety Divers, Trainers
Southern California’s Premier provider of private lifeguards since 2006!

Woodland Hills, CA

“Serving with Honor, Pride & Integrity”


Christina Johnson, Human Kinetics
Peter M. Heimlich, The Sidebar
Stephen J. Langendorfer PhD

Per the e-mail below, Maier claims that his company follows the retraction guidelines of the Committee on Public Ethics (COPE). Click here for a copy those guidelines.

Courtesy of Castillo's e-mail, presumably we'll learn if he's true to his word or if he'll try to pull a Langendorfer.

Click here for a copy of the NASCO study, a scorching analysis/rebuttal by leading medical and water safety experts, and more.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

In January, PIX11 TV News reported that the NY Department of Education "does not recommend" the LifeVac anti-choking device -- a month later, based on zero evidence, PIX11 News proclaimed, "(the LifeVac) could prevent any more choking deaths of children in school...(get it for) fifty bucks" [UPDATED: Must-see video demonstrates how to use LifeVac on autistic kids]

Via a January 18, 2016 story by staff reporter Joe Mauceri that aired on New York City's PIX11-TV News:
(An anti-choking device called) LifeVac claims to help choking victims by suctioning blockages from their airways, but some say it needs more testing first and now it's being pulled from several local schools.

...(Last) week Peter Heimlich, son of the inventor or the Heimlich maneuver, wrote letters to the Commissioner of the State Education Department and NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina saying, "it's unclear if the device has been properly tested and/or determined to be safe."
...The DOE said it had no knowledge of LifeVac in any of it's [sic] schools and added, "The Department of Education does not recommend this device."
A month later PIX11 News aired Life-saving invention could prevent any more choking deaths of children in school in which staff reporter Kirstin Cole enthusiastically promoted the LifeVac, claiming it might have saved the lives of New York City public school students who died in choking-related incidents.

Since her report includes no interviews from medical professionals, it's unclear how Ms. Cole arrived at that conclusion.

In the clip below, Ms. Cole hypes the LifeVac while PIX11 co-anchors Kori Chambers and Sukanya Krishnan use their hands and their desk to test the device and then say:
Sukanya Krishnan: So how much do these cost again?
Kirstin Cole: Fifty bucks.
SK: And where do you get them?
KC: You get it right on (LifeVac's) website.
SK: We'll attach our website to it.
KC: We will.
Kori Chambers: This could be a game changer.
SK: This could be a game changer. And this really is something that every parent can have in their house as well."

LifeVac then posted this Facebook thank-you:

Shortly after Ms. Cole's story aired, I e-mailed her some questions, including:
Prior to reporting your story, were you aware of Joe Mauceri's report last month about the LifeVac?

Have you ever asked any licensed medical professionals and/or leading first aid organizations (such as the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association) their opinions about the LifeVac? If so, whom did you ask and what was the response?
Via e-mail, I also asked Sukanya Krishnan and asked if her statement that "(the LifeVac) is really is something that ever parent can have in their house" constituted an endorsement of the device.

I got confirmations of receipt from both, but no replies from either, so I followed up with voice messages and e-mails to PIX11 news director Amy Waldman and the station's general manager Rich Graziano.


From PIX11's parent company, here's the response:

More unanswered questions.

Why would a TV news program hype and help sell any product, especially a medical device of unproven benefit? (In his column last year, a physician called the LifeVac "a cruel scam...(that) is utterly bogus." Was Ms. Cole aware of his opinion?)

How did Ms. Cole come to report the story?

Is Tribune Broadcasting's "no comment" a sufficient response?


Shortly after publishing the above item, I came across this related video posted a couple days ago on LifeVac's Facebook page -- I urge you to watch the entire clip:

In memory of Dyasha Smith. Autism awareness is so important. Please watch this video on LIfeVac
Posted by LifeVac on Friday, March 11, 2016

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Oogie & oogier: How the editor of a peer-reviewed journal and a top publishing house buried a retraction request for a discredited research study


About five weeks ago, I reported GAME OVER: After decades of putting swimmers at risk, Houston-area lifeguard company drops "Heimlich for drowning" protocol about how the National Aquatic Safety Company (NASCO) had finally stopped training waterpark lifeguards to perform the Heimlich maneuver to resuscitate drowning victims. (Click here for a compilation of media reports about NASCO's failed, benighted campaign to promote the treatment.)

But there's at least one unfinished chapter to the mess -- the recent attempt by a peer-reviewed journal (based in Bowling Green, OH) and its publisher (Human Kinetics of Champaign, IL) to bury a request to retract a discredited drowning study that was authored by NASCO's founder/president, John Hunsuker PhD, and one of his employees.

Ed Castillo (source)

As I reported last September 22:
I was copied on a retraction request sent yesterday to Stephen J. Langendorfer PhD, editor of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Aquatics Research and Education (IJARE) which in May 2010 published a controversial research study by John Hunsucker PhD and Scott Davison of the Houston-area lifeguard training company, the National Aquatic Safety Company (NASCO).

The request was sent to Dr. Langendorfer, a professor and department head at Ohio's Bowling Green State University by Ed Castillo, President/Chief of Operations of Golden State Lifeguards in Woodland Hills, California.
...Per Castillo's letter, in response to the NASCO study, IJARE published a scathing analysis and rebuttal these prominent medical and water safety experts: Peter Wernicki MD, Peter Chambers DO, Roy Fielding, Terri Lees, David Markenson MD, Francesco Pia PhD, and Linda Quan MD.
Via the rebuttal, here's a summary of the blistering analysis/rebuttal; for a complete copy, e-mail me:
The authors’ two-part goal was to describe a protocol they named “in-water intervention” (IWI) that uses abdominal thrusts (ATs) and to report on its effectiveness at assisting drowning victims in waterparks. We identify serious shortcomings in the paper’s methodology, interpretation and use of the literature, and ethical principles.


Subsequently I sent inquiries to Dr. Langendorfer asking what IJARE's policy was for processing retraction requests and asked how Mr. Castillo's request would be handled.

Dr. Langendorfer failed to respond to multiple e-mails and voice messages so I brought my questions to Human Kinetics (HK), the prominent publisher of IJARE and other journals.

Here's what came back -- click here to follow the link provided to the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE):

That's when it started to get oogie.

 Here's the guy in charge at Human Kinetics:


These are e-mails I received in response to a public records request I filed with Ohio's Bowling Green State University, where Dr. Langendorfer is Director of  the School of Human Movement, Sport, & Leisure Studies:


Then it got even oogier.

In a February 1st e-mail to Natalie Ridgeway, Executive Officer at the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), I wrote:
Via a public records request, I obtained a recent e-mail exchange in which IJARE editor Stephen Langendorfer PhD informed HK Journal Director Skip Meier that he (Dr. Langendorfer) has no intention of answering Mr. Castillo's letter. Further, there's no indication in the exchange that HK intends to take any action. (Last week Mr. Castillo informed me that he has never received a response from IJARE or HK.)

Here's my question. Does COPE provide an oversight channel to review whether or not publishers comply with your organization's standards and guidelines?
Her reply took me by surprise:

In other words, HK claims to adhere to COPE standards without having to adhere to COPE standards.

Hoping to make sense of this puzzlement, a month ago I sent multiple e-mails to Ms. Johnson at HK and copied Mr. Meier in which I reviewed the situation and then posed this question:
Here's what I'm trying to figure out. Does your company have an internal and/or external review process that adheres to COPE standards? If so, would you please explain that process? If not, what's the basis of the claim in your November 11 e-mail and the e-mail from Mr. Maier? 
I received confirmations of receipt from both, but no further communications.

Today I'm e-mailing this item to Dr. Langendorfer, Skip Maier, and Ed Castillo with an invitation to respond.

This item has been slightly revised for clarity.