Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why Sarah Palin Probably Loves the Two Trigs Theory

Since February of 2010, the Two Trigs theory has permeated the Trig Truther community. This is the theory put forward by Jesse Griffin of Immoral Minority that says Palin, for unknown reasons, presented more than one child as Trig between April and October of 2008. The main evidence for this theory is that the baby clearly had some ear deformity in April and early May, but showed no deformity at the Republican National Convention, nor subsequently.

As I have argued here and elsewhere, comparisons of pictures strongly suggest only one baby has been presented as Trig. Below, for example, is a graphic I created showing how the baby's ear from April 2008 aligns remarkably with the ear after September 2008, even though it is clear the ear was either medically repaired or possibly "unfurled" on its own.

I personally am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that only one baby has been shown as Trig. Even if you don't agree that graphics like this one overcome reasonable doubt, surely you must agree that it's now impossible to seriously maintain the opposite: that it is beyond a reasonable doubt that more than one baby has been displayed.

If I'm right, then how must Sarah Palin view the Two Trigs Theory? I imagine she thinks it's a great boon for her and hopes it will continue to be embraced by many in the Trig Truther community .

One reason for this is that she can easily prove that the theory is false whenever she likes. She surely has plenty of pictures showing the development of the ears over time, and if a medical procedure was done, she could produce records for it. 

Moreover, Palin can use the widespread belief in the theory as a way to discredit the entire movement that aims to expose the baby hoax. I would not be surprised to learn she has done that in off-the-record conversations with journalists and others. 

That is why it is a shame Gryphen (Jesse Griffin's blog name) has doggedly stuck to his theory, despite new ways of looking at evidence that call his theory into serious doubt. Moreover, his refusal to carry or link to evidence that contradicts his theory, such as the above graphic, raises the question whether even he has much faith in the theory anymore.

If Palin is following his blog, and I imagine she is, I'll bet she's rooting for Gryphen to keep flogging that theory, since it could help her keep the hoax buried.


  1. I'd think her off-the-record Ruffles proof would have made its way back to Gryphen by now.

    I wish the MSM would have asked her about the baby with ruffled ears who disappeared. Where is he now? Or did she have his ears surgically corrected before the time the medical field believes it to be safe? If Ruffles' ears unruffled without surgery, she could show her proof.

  2. B: Early infancy is precisely the time for using Earwell or Ear Buddies systems. Gryphen badly mangled the information on that.

  3. I meant when IM's post came out, and she was essentially accused of losing a baby or allowing it to have dangerous surgery.

    I don't think the Earwell name was attached to the device in 2008. I believe its inventor in Dallas was using it then, however. There is an Anchorage ENT doctor and plastic surgeon, Ellerbe, listed at the Earwell site as offering it. Don't know when he started. What was the doctor's name Bristol worked for?

  4. Some people have a difficult time admitting they were wrong and criticism is often a hard pill to swallow. BUT...there is no reason why we can not look at this from a different perspective and form new opinions and observations. Gryphen made very good points at first with his two baby theory and it seemed very believable, but to me the "ear repair" theory also makes excellent sense and is even a more reasonable theory. Please give it a chance to soak in.

  5. Dr. Ellerbe is Board Certified by:
    The American Board of Pediatrics
    The American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
    The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

    Even before the Earwell system was commercially available, it seems reasonable to think that Dr. Ellerbe may have known something about Dr. Byrd's work. And other methods of splinting were certainly under investigation and/or use in 2008; published articles often lag far behind the informal dissemination of ideas and results.

    Dr. Ellerbe is certainly a "person of interest" in this line of investigation.

  6. Medical devices (such as the Earwell system) are subject to a fairly strict FDA approval process. They would not be randomly tried out on babies based on informal dissemination of ideas. (cf.

    However, this does give us an avenue of research to pursue. It should be possible to find out the timeline for the Earwell approval process. I have a friend who does freelance reporting on the health beat, and she may be able to point me in the right direction, or do the research herself. I just don't have time at this exact moment to delve into it. But IIRC, the products are supposed to get a Federal Register notice as they gain approval, so there should be a paper trail.

  7. OK, I've had a few minutes (can't get in touch with my friend just yet). The Earwell system is not in the CFR as an ear mold, so it's probably called something else. I did, however, find an abstract of Dr. Byrd's paper (

    where it says that ear molding with the Earwell system must begin in the first week of life for the best results; if it starts after 3 weeks from birth, the success rate is only 50 percent. The paper is dated October 2010. So by 2010 Dr. Byrd's practice had used it on over 800 infants. Without reading the paper, it would be hard to tell if it was a clinical trial report or not. However, these kinds of papers are usually prepared when the devices are close to receiving FDA approval for regular use.

    Also, on the Becon Medical website (, there is a photo of an Earwell mold on a child. It's pretty bulky - I'm not sure it could be effectively covered up with an ordinary baby hat.

  8. @Original Lee. I read that the Earwell device has to be changed several times, weeks apart. That made me think it might actually be removable for a public appearance, like a dental splint. The longer it is out, the longer it will subsequently have to stay on, but it wouldn't need a cap over it.

    The British EarBuddies looked like a DIY kit. If she can order an empathy belly, she can order ear forms.

    I've also realized that the extreme ruffling we saw may have been a visual trick of the camera. Perhaps the rim had a few crimps that with lighting and shadows looked to be patterned.

    I look forward to the evolution of this story. I'm quite relieved that a baby may not have disappeared.

  9. Gryphen posted a Fred excerpt! Have to wonder if one of the book's delays is figuring out how to cover both Gryphen's and Brad's views of Eargate.

  10. B: I think Gryphen is more enmeshed in the book than he has let on. Think about the $3,500 paid to Tank. Where did that come from? So, yeah, maybe Fred had to do some revisions.

  11. Yes, yes and yes. Brad's photo series is strong evidence that the ears belong to the same baby. We have no evidence other than these same ears to say these are different babies. (Arguments about growth, haircuts, etc. have never gone beyond a reasonable doubt.)

    Yes, Sarah must get mileage out of the Ruffles theory. And it's a "gate" she doensn't have to worry about being proven. A double win for Sarah.

    Yes, Gryphen is protective and insulting to others when certain hot buttons are pushed. Two Babies is his most valuable theory ever and he wants it in that book. He protects Mercede and Sherrie from reasonable criticism, too, but that's not today's topic.

    Always seemed Gryphen was invested in Fred more than he was saying. Fred not having a last name is a good clue. All previous authors have names. Are Fred and Gryphen related? Business partners?

    Yes, I bet the Fred book got delayed because of you, Brad. Which means there is careful review of evidence going on and that is always a good thing. If Fred's book is to make an impact, it can't include only one side of the Two Babies theory. Both sides need to be presented. You should be named and credited, with photos included. But is Fred that much of a professional? We'll see.

  12. If Fred is working with Gryphen, he's probably working with Audrey too, since Gryphen chided me not to assume I know what Audrey thinks. Audrey was a stickler for facts, so that's encouraging.

    I'm just glad someone is doing it.

  13. My memory is that Audrey let her readers know she is financially comfortable. In fact, she refused offers of donations to help pay Photoshop expert. And Gryphen has often made reference to Audrey even since she left the scene. And as we all know, Audrey is a very talented writer. So, people can draw their own conclusions.

  14. Seems the only thing Gryphen got out of his $3500 was the child was a year old..nothing about, did he have DS or did he talk, did he wear a hat, what color was his hair, etc. I think Gryphen is a tease, he puts these little "I have a source" tidbits out there and it brings in the clicks. That's why he lets the fairytale trolls through on his site. Gryphen has an it the book????

  15. A hypothesis only is that Gryphen has a financial interest in the book. He has the ability to promote sales, so having him on-board makes good business sense. But no one is going to get rich off the book, and I don't think Gryphen is terribly motivated by money. He does like the fame part, and he does like being a mover and shaker in all this. And that's totally understandable. I wish him and Fred well, if they are partners. But yeah, sometimes it feels as if he has an agenda.

  16. I believe Fred is a journalist named Fred. The spiral of silence and rabid Palinbots could have prevented his finishing the book had he revealed his identity. Few authors have McGinniss's clout.

  17. Original Lee, the abstract of Byrd's paper states that the "final" earwell system was used on a total of 34 patients (58 ears).

    The number 834 that you see in the abstract is the total number of ears he has corrected in his practice using various splinting methods, not the number of patients who had been treated with the final version of the Earwell system.

    "The authors' methods of molding have advanced from the use of various tapes, glues, and stents, to a comprehensive yet simple system ...(EarWell Infant Ear Correction System)."

    I wouldn't get too hung up on looking at that particular product; while earlier prototypes might have been in development in 2008 they were not likely available outside his practice. The important thing to note is that the general method, which can be implemented with materials such as tape, putty and tubing that are readily available in any doctors office, can be effective, and was likely known to at least one doctor in Anchorage.

    Byrd's paper is by the way NOT based on the results of a clinical study. It's not exactly a prospective cohort study either given that the nature of the intervention varied over time. Looks to me like case series, which is pretty low on the totem pole as far as evidence goes. Not to say that it is not making a compelling case for early non-surgical intervention - but it would be wise to not give the numbers describing the outcomes for his patients too much weight.

  18. @Ghostbuster - Thanks for the clarification. I was reading it on the fly in between things I was trying to get done for my family. The point that I'm trying to make, though, and I'm probably not communicating it all that clearly, is that regardless of how ad-hoc the materials are, when put together, they constitute a medical device. Even tongue depressors are medical devices. So I was trying to find out what these ear thingies are called in the FDA database, because it appears that the effective models that Brad has been referencing were not generally available until 2010. If we know the history of these devices, we can also track who would have been making them available in Alaska in 2008.

    Trig could have been treated using that frontier make-do know-how, or by an earlier version of these devices, but the impression I have been getting from the literature that I have been skimming in my copious free time is that the Earwell is the first device of this type that has a pretty good success rate with good cosmetic outcome. The convention photo and other later photos of those ears show pretty good-looking ears, I think.

  19. @Original Lee - I found several articles discussing methods of ear splinting, dating back to the late 90s if I'm remembering correctly; the general method seemed to be to use surgical tape and putty (dental?) and / or shaped wires covered with tubing to hold the ears in position. Those materials are cheap and readily available, but I imagine require some skill to use. There is a testimonial e.g. on the Earwells site from a mother whose infant was initially given a putty/tape splint at Seattle Childrens Hospital.

    It's possible that the developer of the Earwell device gave out prototypes to colleagues.

    Did you see "Kit, earmold, impression" in the FDA database? I have no idea what I am looking at there, and no time to educate myself right now.

    I'm still agnostic on this whole ear issue. But it seems clear we can't rule out correction whether or not the Earwell kits were available in some form or other.

  20. @Ghostbuster: I haven't been back to the database since the first post on this thread. It hadn't occurred to me to use earmold as one word. I'll have to look again. There are a couple of different terms of art that are possibilities. Hopefully I'll be able to talk to my health reporter friend or scrounge up some time next week to look at it more carefully.

    I was originally very impressed with Gryphen's hypothesis. Now I'm not sure what to think. Brad's hypothesis is very elegant and simple, but we've also learned the Palins don't do elegant and simple.