Stephanie Seneff in 2014
|Alma mater||Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
|Institutions||Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
|Thesis||Pitch and spectral analysis of speech based on an auditory synchrony model (1985)|
|Doctoral advisor||Kenneth N. Stevens|
Stephanie Seneff (born April 20, 1948):249 is a senior research scientist at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Working primarily in the Spoken Language Systems group, her research at CSAIL relates to human-computer interaction, and algorithms for language understanding and speech recognition. In 2011, she began publishing controversial papers in low-impact, open access journals on biology and medical topics; the articles have received "heated objections from experts in almost every field she's delved into," according to columnist Ari LeVaux.
Seneff attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning her bachelor of science (BS) in biophysics in 1968, a master's (MS) in electrical engineering in 1980, and a doctoral degree (PhD) in computer science in 1985. She is a senior research scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Her research career focused on using computational modeling and analysis of the human auditory system to improve communication between humans and computers. She was elected a Fellow of the International Speech and Communication Association (ISCA) in 2012 as recognition for her "contributions to conversational human-computer systems and computer-assisted language learning". Seneff collaborates with and is married to MIT professor Victor Zue.
Biology and medical topics
In 2011, Seneff began publishing articles on topics related to biology and medicine, an area in which she has no relevant qualifications or expertise, in low-impact, open access journals, such as Interdisciplinary Toxicology and eight papers in the journal Entropy between 2011 and 2015. According to food columnist Ari LeVaux, Seneff's work in this area has made her "a controversial figure in the scientific community" and she has received "heated objections from experts in most every field she's delved into". In 2013, she coauthored a paper that associated the herbicide glyphosate with a wide variety of diseases such as cancer and disorders such as autism. Discover magazine writer Keith Kloor criticized the uncritical republication of the study's results by other media outlets. Jerry Steiner, the executive vice president of sustainability at Monsanto, said in an interview regarding the study that "We are very confident in the long track record that glyphosate has. It has been very, very extensively studied." Seneff's claim that glyphosate is a major cause of autism and that, "At today's rates, by 2025, half the kids born will be diagnosed with autism," has also been criticized. For example, Pacific Standard noted that, contrary to Seneff's claims, many scientific reviews have found that the rise in autism rates over the past 20 years is due to changes in diagnostic practices, and that a number of studies, including a 2012 review in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, have found little evidence that glyphosate is associated with adverse development outcomes.
Seneff and her MIT colleagues have also published on the health impacts of fat and cholesterol consumption in America. Based on this work, Seneff claimed that Americans are suffering from a cholesterol deficiency, not an excess. In 2014–2016 Seneff was proposed as an expert witness for litigators seeking damages from Pfizer associated with their cholesterol drug Lipitor, but the court dismissed the claim largely because Seneff lacked expert status and failed to provide credible evidence linking Lipitor to any specific harm.
Response from scientists and academics
Clinical neurologist and skeptic Steven Novella criticized Seneff's Entropy publication for making "correlation is causation" assumptions using broad statistical extrapolations from limited data, saying "she has published only speculations and gives many presentations, but has not created any new data". Scientists and scholars such as Derek Lowe, a medicinal chemist, and Jeffrey Beall, a library scientist known for his criticism of predatory open access publishers, have separately criticized Seneff's paper for misrepresenting the results and conclusions of other researchers' work. Lowe and Beall also noted that Entropy and its publisher, MDPI, have a known history of publishing studies without merit.
A 2017 Review Article written by Kings College of London researchers and published by Frontiers in Public Health called Seneff's glyphosate health-risk research claims "a deductive reasoning approach based on syllogism" and "at best unsubstantiated theories, speculations or simply incorrect." Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen characterized Seneff and her glyphosate claims as "nutty", "truly unhinged", and "dangerous".
- Seneff, Stephanie (January 1985). Pitch and Spectral Analysis of Speech Based on an Auditory Synchrony Model (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- LeVaux, Ari (27 February 2014). "Meet the Controversial MIT Scientist Who Claims She Discovered a Cause of Gluten Intolerance". Alternet. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- "Stephanie Seneff". CSAIL website. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- "Stephanie Seneff". MIT CSAIL. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
- "Fellows 2012". International Speech Communication Association. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
- "Weddings and Engagements". Cape Cod Times. 11 October 2006. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
- Speech database development at MIT: Timit and beyond, by Victor Zue, Stephanie Seneff and James Glass, J. Speech Communication, Volume 9, Issue 4, August 1990, Pages 351-356.
- Beall, Jeffrey, "Anti-Roundup (Glyphosate) Researchers Use Easy OA Journals to Spread their Views", Scholarly Open Access, archived from the original on 6 June 2016, retrieved 12 June 2016
- Gillam, Carey (29 April 2013). "Roundup is tied to infertility and cancer; herbicide's maker calls it safe". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- Kloor, Keith (April 26, 2013). "When Media Uncritically Cover Pseudoscience". Discover. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
- Gillam, Carey (25 April 2013). "Heavy use of herbicide Roundup linked to health dangers: study". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- Staff (9 March 2015). "Research Gone Wild: The Future of Autism". Pacific Standard. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- Wartman, Kristin (27 August 2012). "Sunny-Side Up: In Defense of Eggs". The Atlantic. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- Spence, J. David; Jenkins, David J.A.; Davignon, Jean (2012-10-01). "Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque". Atherosclerosis. 224 (2): 469–473. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.07.032. ISSN 0021-9150.
- Memorandum of Decision: Sullivan v. Pfizer, No. 3:14-cv-1374 (MPS), U.S. District Court, Connecticut, March 4, 2016.
- Sullivan v. Pfizer Memorandum of Decision, retrieved 2019-01-05
- Novella, Steven (December 31, 2014). "Glyphosate – The New Bogeyman". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
- Lowe, Derek (April 30, 2013). "Is Glyphosate Poisoning Everyone?". In The Pipeline. Corante. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved August 1, 2015.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
- Facts and fallacies in the debate on glyphosate toxicity, by Robin Mesnage and Michael N. Antoniou, Frontiers in Public Health, November 2017
- Not Even Wrong: Seneff And Samsel Debunked By The Seralini Crew, by Hank Campbell, American Council on Science and Health, November 9, 2017.