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Update: Dr. Poul Thorsen not missing, NOT suspected in theft

Posted Mar 09 2010 12:24am

This Saturday, I wrote what is shaping up to be a controversial post, questioning whether a document used by Age of Autism to implicate Dr. Poul Thorsen in the theft of several million dollars was authentic. I must say I did not exactly give this my full attention: I wrote the material in the post only after I spent the majority afternoon writing an epic installment of my fan novel “The Rookie”. But, even with this division of resources, I was quite satisfied I had enough to blow the AoA story out of the water. The next day, helpful commenters sped my work by identifying a source from the Copenhagen Post, so that when Olmsted showed up to complain and even friendly correspondents suggested I take it down or make changes, I simply inserted a page worth of new evidence that the document does not represent what any actual university representative in his right mind would say in a statement to the public. I am currently awaiting the results of inquiries by a correspondent, who is asking the alleged author about it- a drastic step not in evidence at AoA.

Meanwhile, at AoA, a fifth story has appeared on Thorsen, which unlike the four previous ones makes no mention of Thorsen’s alleged disappearance or the missing money. It appears that they are trying to back away from criminal accusations to more prosaic aspersions on his research. I am sure that representatives of Thorsen, his former employer and international law enforcement will be very amused. It is noteworthy that they did in fact never have the slightest basis for these claims. Copenhagen Post did not name a suspect (allowing Ginger Taylor to identify Kreesten Madsen as the suspect before falling in line with Olmsted and AoA by implicating Thorsen), and even the document which I believe to be a forgery makes no more than ham-fisted insinuations against Thorsen in that matter. And, the document said absolutely nothing about Thorsen’s whereabouts being unknown. Any amount of investigation should have shown that he has, in fact, been living a very public life since his reported “disappearance” in ca. March 2009

  • His professional biography gives an address for him, indicated to be current as of ca. January 2010.

  • Poul Thorsen is listed as a member of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 Development team.

  • PubMed lists the following papers published by Thorsen since ca. March 2009: A population-based association study of glutamate decarboxylase 1 as a candidate gene for autism.

  • Buttenschøn HN, Lauritsen MB, El Daoud A, Hollegaard M, Jorgensen M, Tvedegaard K, Hougaard D, Børglum A, Thorsen P, Mors O.

    Pediatrics. 2009 Apr;123(4):1132-41.
    High-throughput genotyping on archived dried blood spot samples.
    Hollegaard MV, Grove J, Thorsen P, Nørgaard-Pedersen B, Hougaard DM.

    Genet Test Mol Biomarkers. 2009 Apr;13(2):173-9.
    Differential patterns of 27 cord blood immune biomarkers across gestational age.
    Matoba N, Yu Y, Mestan K, Pearson C, Ortiz K, Porta N, Thorsen P, Skogstrand K, Hougaard DM, Zuckerman B, Wang X.

    Pediatrics. 2009 May;123(5):1320-8.
    Validation of self-reported data on assisted conception in The Danish National Birth Cohort.
    Hvidtjørn D, Grove J, Schendel D, Schieve LA, Ernst E, Olsen J, Thorsen P.

    Hum Reprod. 2009 Sep;24(9):2332-40. Epub 2009 May 19.
    Circulating relaxin and cervical length in midpregnancy are independently associated with spontaneous preterm birth.
    Sandager P, Uldbjerg N, Henriksen TB, Goldsmith LT, Thorsen P, Weiss G, Vogel I.

    Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Aug;201(2):169.e1-6. Epub 2009 May 30.
    Racial disparity in pathophysiologic pathways of preterm birth based on genetic variants.
    Menon R, Pearce B, Velez DR, Merialdi M, Williams SM, Fortunato SJ, Thorsen P.

    Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2009 Jun 15;7:62.
    Cord blood biomarkers of the fetal inflammatory response.
    Mestan K, Yu Y, Thorsen P, Skogstrand K, Matoba N, Liu X, Kumar R, Hougaard DM, Gupta M, Pearson C, Ortiz K, Bauchner H, Wang X.

    J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2009 May;22(5):379-87.
    Genome-wide scans using archived neonatal dried blood spot samples.
    Hollegaard MV, Grauholm J, Børglum A, Nyegaard M, Nørgaard-Pedersen B, Ørntoft T, Mortensen PB, Wiuf C, Mors O, Didriksen M, Thorsen P, Hougaard DM.

    BMC Genomics. 2009 Jul 4;10:297.
    Association of family history of autoimmune diseases and autism spectrum disorders.
    Atladóttir HO, Pedersen MG, Thorsen P, Mortensen PB, Deleuran B, Eaton WW, Parner ET.

    Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):687-94. Epub 2009 Jul 5.
    Prediction of spontaneous preterm delivery in women with preterm labor: analysis of multiple proteins in amniotic and cervical fluids.
    Holst RM, Hagberg H, Wennerholm UB, Skogstrand K, Thorsen P, Jacobsson B.

    Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Aug;114(2 Pt 1):268-77.
    Validity of childhood autism in the Danish Psychiatric Central Register: findings from a cohort sample born 1990-1999.
    Lauritsen MB, Jørgensen M, Madsen KM, Lemcke S, Toft S, Grove J, Schendel DE, Thorsen P.

    J Autism Dev Disord. 2010 Feb;40(2):139-48. Epub 2009 Sep 1.
    Circulating beta chemokine and MMP 9 as markers of oxidative injury in extremely low birth weight infants.
    Natarajan G, Shankaran S, McDonald SA, DAS A, Stoll BJ, Higgins RD, Thorsen P, Skogstrand K, Hougaard DM, Carlo WA; NICHD neonatal research network.

    Pediatr Res. 2010 Jan;67(1):77-82.
    Mid-trimester maternal plasma cytokines and CRP as predictors of spontaneous preterm birth.
    Kramer MS, Kahn SR, Platt RW, Genest J, Chen MF, Goulet L, Séguin L, Lydon J, McNamara H, Libman M, Dahhou M, Lamoureux J, Skogstrand K, Thorsen P.

    Cytokine. 2010 Jan;49(1):10-4. Epub 2009 Sep 26.
    Polymorphisms in the promoter region of relaxin-2 and preterm birth: involvement of relaxin in the etiology of preterm birth.
    Vogel I, Hollegaard MV, Hougaard DM, Thorsen P, Grove J.

    In Vivo. 2009 Nov-Dec;23(6):1005-9.
    Perinatal Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome and Retinopathy of Prematurity.
    Sood BG, Madan A, Saha S, Schendel D, Thorsen P, Skogstrand K, Hougaard D, Shankaran S, Carlo W; On behalf of the NICHD Neonatal Research Network.

    Pediatr Res. 2009 Dec 21.
    Lifestyle during pregnancy: neurodevelopmental effects at 5 years of age. The design and implementation of a prospective follow-up study.
    Kesmodel US, Underbjerg M, Kilburn TR, Bakketeig L, Mortensen EL, Landrø NI, Schendel D, Bertrand J, Grove J, Ebrahim S, Thorsen P.

    Scand J Public Health. 2010 Mar;38(2):208-19
    Interrelationship of Cytokines, Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Hormones, and Psychosocial Variables in the Prediction of Preterm Birth.
    Pearce BD, Grove J, Bonney EA, Bliwise N, Dudley DJ, Schendel DE, Thorsen P.

    Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2010 Feb 17;70(1):40-46.

    One can reasonably infer that such a prolific volume of papers would be difficult to achieve while keeping one’s whereabouts unknown, or being under even a veiled suspicion of a crime. (Such things can be expected to get around, even if they don’t enter public record!) This also deserves to be noted as a remarkable addition to Olmsted’s already distinguished record of NOT finding things. He did not seem to find autism in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He managed not to find the right patent policy and two eligible coinventors when investigating Paul Offit’s Rotateq payments. But surely failing to find a distinguished researcher with 20 publications in the last year alone is a coup to top them all!

    Also in the last week, a few days before this non-story broke, I received the following email, in the name of someone I care about deeply but have been out of touch with for a while:

    How are you doing?I hope you get this on time. Am sorry i did not inform you
    about my travelling to United kingdom for a program.I can barely think or
    type straight at this moment.Something really terrible is happening to me
    right now and I will be needing Your Urgent favour,I hope you come to my

    Yesterday,I had a trip here in Kent dover (UK) for a Seminar. Unfortunately
    for me I got Mugged at gun Point on my way to the hotel where i lodged.They
    went away With all i have got on me including my wallet where i have all my
    cash and credit card and also my cell phone.I wasn’t injured because I
    quickly complied.since then i have been without any money, I am even owing
    the hotel bills here.Presently my traveling documents are been held down by
    the hotel management pending the time i am able to Clear bills.I contacted
    the police here and they only asked me to write a statement about the
    incident and later reffered me to the embassy.I have spoken to the embassy
    here but they are not responding to the matter effectively.I am confused and
    so full of panic right now.I do not feel safe here any more. For now,i do
    not have a phone where i can be reached.All i have got here is my mail.I
    also have limited access to the computer.I will tell you more about my
    terrible experience here when i get back home.

    I urgently require your financial assistance now.Please I need you to loan
    me about (1,250 Pounds) to sort-out my hotel bills and other expenses
    incurred so as to get myself back home soon.I Promise to refund your money
    immediately i return home.
    I will appreciate any amount you can quickly arrange and send to me via
    Western Union or Money Gram with the details below…

    Please remember to send me full details of the transfer or scanned copy of
    the transfer receipt so that i can receive over here without any Further
    delay or problem.let me know if you can be of any help Because you are the
    only person i can reach at this moment.
    I await your Kind response soon.

    Kind Regards

    I think everyone can see where this is going… This caused me real concern, but I was very skeptical. Everything about this read like a scam or urban legend. It was no surprise to my when I quickly received a followup email warning that it WAS a scam. I know I can’t very well claim it as a major “catch” on my part, but it should serve to illustrate a point: There are times when, even in the absence of complete information, one should be automatically suspicious of a “source”. This email was one example. As far as I’m concerned, the document which forms the sole basis for the accusations against Thorsen is another.  Even the citation of one Jorgen Jorgensen, a circumstantial detail I did confirm, was enough to make me skeptical!

    What this means for anyone investigating this story is that, even if (as I see NO reason to doubt) they did not know a key document was forged, indeed even if the document is proved authentic, they should never have proceeded the way they did. At the very least, they should have contacted Aarhus University for a statement before posting ANYTHING based upon the document. Instead, they openly aired charges (particularly the claim that Aarhus prohibited Thorsen from working at another university) that would be indefensible even if the document is accepted at face value.

    The bottom line is, that even if a butcher doesn’t know where his meat came from, he should know when it stinks. Likewise, anyone who didn’t know the document behind the Thorsen was suspicious at best probably didn’t want to know. In both cases, ignorance is no excuse for distributing unsound goods to the public.

    If you want to reference this post in your site, use the code below to link to me from your website.

    <a href="">Update: Dr. Poul Thorsen not missing, NOT suspected in theft</a>

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