A contact on Twitter mentioned an apparently newly discovered parasitic disease which goes by the name of Protomyxzoa Rheumatica or the “Fry bug”, named for its apparent discoverer Fry Laboratories of Scottsdale, Arizona. The discoverers have published no scientific papers about this organism as far as I can tell. Although protomyxzoa.org (registered in September 2012) says Fry has a PCR test for the pathogen and the person running the site says they were diagnosed by the labs in February of that year.
No reference to Protomyxzoa Rheumatica comes up with a search of the Fry website nor of PubMed, the US CDC, WHO, WebMD or generally anywhere else other than on what appear to be a few patient blogs and such. There is a brief reference to Protomyxzoa Rheumatica on the website of Fry Labs’ founder http://drstephenfry.com/ where it is described as a: novel protozoan but nothing else is said. Dr Fry himself is described as specialising in the cause and treatment of chronic inflammatory disease such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia. There is also discussion of diet and lifestyle being associated with the “symptoms” of this infection. A “Mary C Kline” appears in a patent search having invented a treatment for treating the biofilms and plaques purportedly associated with the infection, her other patents seem to be for treatments for what would be described as related pathogens.
There is one slightly more detailed page – http://www.personalconsult.com/posts/FL1953.html – that uses another name (an earlier name, in fact) for Protomyxzoa Rheumatica, FL1953, and discusses it in terms of its similarity to babesia (nutallia) or immature malaria but apparently unique DNA sequence. (FL1953 does not come up in a PubMed search either). The page also discusses how Fry showed the page’s author stained red blood cells apparently infected with Protomyxzoa Rheumatica in which the organism was on the edge or inside the rbc. Misdiagnosis of this novel infection is why treatment of Lyme disease and Babesia sometimes fail allegedly. Another patient-written site discusses a talk/interview given by Fry where FL1953 is described as “a new, unique protozoan organism that is found in people with CFS, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and rheumatoid arthritis”. There is a lot of debate on LymeNet Europe that suggests that FL1953 has been controversial to say the least for several years.
One particular claim draws me to an almost inevitable conclusion regarding this pathogen. There are references to Morgellons syndrome in connection with FL1953. Morgellons, however, is apparently nothing more than a psychosomatic illness in which the patient believes that they are infested with disease-causing agents described as things like insects, parasites, hairs or fibres. While it may be a real condition it is not, it seems, caused by an actual pathogen, unless of course, that pathogen has corrupted the patient’s thoughts to create these beliefs (some parasites certainly can affect the brain).
I asked an expert in Lyme disease and related infections who had this to say: The owner of a private lab has claimed to have identified a new organism which causes many disorders including autoimmune. He apparently planned to conduct studies on this, but there have been no updates nor any peer-reviewed journal publications about it…in the meantime lots of people are being diagnosed with an illness no one knows for sure even exists…
Who wouldn’t want a spongy Jupiter or a vanilla Earth with tectonic icing? I do wish they’d not misspelled concentric, but never mind. Can I have a slice of Jupiter with the spot?
Remember that strikingly inept poll analysis about the Tea Party movement from The New York Times last month? Well, the new Washington Post-ABC News poll addresses the same topic, and the Post’s analysis seems to actually be rooted in reality:
The conservative “tea party” movement appeals almost exclusively to supporters of the Republican Party, bolstering the view that the tea party divides the GOP even as it has energized its base.
That conclusion, backed by numbers from a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, also suggests that the tea party may have little room for growth. Most Americans — including large majorities of those who don’t already count themselves as supporters — say they’re not interested in learning more about the movement. A sizable share of those not already sympathetic to the tea party also say that the more they hear, the less they like the movement.
Overall, the tea party remains divisive, with 27 percent of those polled saying they’re supportive but about as many, 24 percent, opposed. Supporters overwhelmingly identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents; opponents are even more heavily Democratic. The new movement is also relatively small, with 8 percent of supporters claiming to be “active participants” — about 2 percent of the total population.
(Emphasis added by me.)
These numbers are somewhat similar to last month’s New York Times-CBS News poll, which found that 18% of Americans support the Tea Party movement. Despite the Times doing as much as it could to hype these results, I pointed out that this wasn’t very meaningful, since that poll found that 78% of these “supporters” had never attended a Tea Party rally or meeting or donated money to the Tea Party cause. So, doing a little math, we find that about 4% of people could be labeled as active Tea Partiers based on that poll (compared with 2% in the current Washington Post poll).
The difference in both of these numbers (27% vs. 18% for supporters, 4% vs. 2% for active participants) could be due to a real drop in support for and participation in the Tea Party movement, or just a difference between the two polls. My point in bringing it up is that The Washington Post’s analysis actually makes sense.
On the side, it is also of note that there’s some good news in the poll for the Democratic Party:
The percentage of people who say the Democratic Party represents their personal values and is in tune with the problems of people like themselves hasn’t changed since November. The percentage siding with the GOP, however, has dropped by almost precisely the numbers now siding with the tea party.
Some 14 percent of Americans say the tea party is most in sync with their values, nearly matching the 15 percentage-point drop-off for the GOP over the past five months.
Actually, I should say that this is a very dumb analysis of a poll. The New York Times is really promoting its new NYT/CBS poll right now; as I write this, the top headline on the Times’ homepage reads “Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated.”
When I first saw that headline and read the email news alert that the Times sent out, I did agree that these appeared to be interesting and surprising findings. And, as I read the article, my interest–and then skepticism–continued to grow. According to the article, these “Tea Party supporters” are “wealthier and more well-educated than the general public”, and they make up “18 percent of Americans”. Hmmm… interesting. Also, they “do not think Sarah Palin is qualified to be president”, and are “more likely than the general public to have returned their census forms.” Well, that’s quite a surprise.
The article goes on and on, but one thing should become clear: these “Tea Party supporters” sound almost indistinguishable from your run-of-the-mill establishment fiscal-conservative Republican. How could this be?
Well, if you look at the actual the survey results and methods, you’ll see that these “Tea Party supporters” are just people who answered affirmatively to the question “Do you consider yourself to be a supporter of the Tea Party movement, or not?” In fact, 78% (!!!) of these “supporters” have never attended a Tea Party rally or meeting or donated money to the Tea Party cause.
It’s no wonder that these “Tea Party supporters” sound nothing like the Tea Party activists we’ve grown so familiar with… because they’re not! Now, I’ll grant that the Times’ analysis never explicitly equates these two. But, especially by making statements like “Speculation and anecdotal evidence have often taken the place of concrete data about who supports the Tea Party movement, and the poll offers some surprising findings”, they’re really insinuating a lot.
In the end, these results are pretty uninteresting, since this poll just describes a large bloc of the Republican Party that has been in existence for a long time. (For a much more reasonable analysis of the poll, check out CBS’s take.)
For a more relevant picture of what the Tea Party movement actually looks like, just take this recent sampling from the Times’ own pages:
Let’s not mince words here: the Tea Party movement has been fueled by misinformation, bigotry, and irrational violent anger at the government. If this new poll shows us anything, it’s just to what a large degree the Republican establishment has accepted and embraced this radical fringe.