Trial lawyers suing over a popular weedkiller saw six words they never want to read in a court document approving a motion to dismiss a study they consider vital to their future yacht payments: "Zhang’s meta-analysis is junk science."

This is not just authoritative, it is humiliating.

It doesn't end there. The court saw through their pay-to-publish scam and was immune to their time-honored technique of immediately having a bunch of other papers cite it to increase its impact factor and H-index.

Magic tumors found only in hand-picked papers aren't real? Who knew??(1) Everyone in science (hat-tip to Drs. Geoffrey Kabat and Brian Mathison for continually fighting the fight) which means no one who follows Center for Biological Diversity and other lawyer-run sue-and-settle groups on Twitter.

And yet the paper by Zhang et al. in the pay-to-publish(2) Elsvevier imprint Mutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research is considered fundamental to anti-science activists and the lawyers they support. Because it claimed an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma when exposed the weedkiller Roundup of a whopping 41%.

They need Zhang. Zhang's paper is what got all of the media coverage that trial lawyers have been capitalizing on hoping to sue over the popular weedkiller named Roundup.

Instead, District Judge Vince Chhabria granted the defendant argument that there is no admissable evidence of causation. And threw the case away. 

Before the 'Science Is A Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy' rhetoric comes out, Chhabria  was an Obama appointee. He is a native of San Francisco and worked for Justice Stephen Breyer, a Clinton Supreme Court nomination and left of center. Chhabria let an illegal immigrant (deported five times) hopped up on illegal benzos who murdered a woman with a gun in San Francisco off with time served for felony possession of a gun and killing someone with it. 

Hardly a shill for the right.

Importantly to science, he was chosen by other judges to handle all of the pretrial proceedings for all product liability lawsuits filed against Monsanto. And there are a lot. Environmentalists have loved him every time he has referred one of their daily filings to a district court.

Trial lawyers hoping to cash in file this stuff just about every day.

They love to file in San Francisco because they assume they can get referred somewhere and find a jury to believe plants are little people, so a weedkiller that only acts on a pathway that doesn't exist in humans might be linked to disease.

Forget the fact that Zhang's paper was barely epidemiology, which would already have it lumped in the EXPLORATORY pile rather than the science one. This was a poorly constructed meta-analysis using a handful of pre-selected papers. With an unweighted, random effects meta-analysis, I can prove that coin flips are biased against heads. Or tails. Or anything, if am I at a sympathetic open access publication and your check clears. And if Zhang chooses the papers for the meta-analysis, maybe I can make coin flips cause cancer.

Zhang is everywhere in these lawsuits. In January, Judge Chhabria had denied a different motion to dismiss Zhang entirely, in that case for not disclosing her funding.

It is true that she had 'failed' to note she was paid by lawyers, but unlike deniers-for-hire such as Dr. Naomi Oreskes when caught lying(3), she never claimed otherwise. By allowing the work, and then having it dismissed as "junk science", that makes it even worse for the anti-science side.

If Zhang had been denied outright, trial lawyers and the puppet sites in their sphere could wrap it in the flag of their conspiracy. Anti-religious activists love to invoke Bruno and Galileo(4), because they heard somewhere they were martyrs for science, and when it gets repeated often enough it becomes fact to journalists and muckspouts on social media, but being allowed and then being dismissed as just terrible at your job is far worse.


(1) The court knew. I only include two above but this whole thing is a brutal dismissal of an unqualified person, basically another Stephanie  Seneff, or Chuck Benbrook, or Gilles-Eric Seralini, except one stupid enough to leave the cozy confines of writing nonsense for its progressive tribe-mates and entering a court where experts can argue back.

And the court may be wondering if she had anything to do with the paper at all, or was just a sock puppet.

(2) $4000! And they'll publish your article that same week, which means no real peer review, just "editorial" review.



(4) Bruno's "science" was never mentioned during his trial. Because he did none. His belief about planets revolving around the sun, which 19th century atheists began to promote as foundational, had no foundation outside him worshiping the Egyptian God Thoth and Hermetism. Yet left-wing atheists don't claim Thoth was equal to Copernicus. Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo said Bruno was an idiot. He was a martyr for the occult and bizarre "free thought" atheists love that.

Galileo wasn't great either. He denied the existence of the gravity of the Moon. Every illiterate sailor in the world knew better, as did every kid living near the water, but Galileo attacked everyone who pointed out the math was wrong - like Kepler. He got the right answer using the wrong methods, which would flunk any geometry student in the US today. Catholics were not against his science, the Pope encouraged him, he even came up with the title, because he wanted a good argument for Copernicus. It was when Galileo started losing his mind and insulting everyone that he got tucked into a cushy Italian villa. That was it, that was his big punishment. During the Inquisition. If Catholics really had something against Galileo he'd have died at the stake.