Respectful Insolence

I don’t know how I missed this one yesterday, but a new blogger, Dr. Flea, sarcastically thanks RFK, Jr. for making his practice more difficult

The Thimerosal-Autism story will not die. When I say that a patient asks me about thimerosal every day, I am not exaggerating. Here is today’s installment, in the form of an email from a mom:

Part of Dr. Flea’s response:

I want to be as clear about this as I can. There is no controversy surrounding Thimerosal. There is scientific evidence and there is hysteria. The scientific evidence suggests that there is no link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism or any bad outcome whatsover!

The hysteria is driven by celebrities such as Bobby Kennedy, Jr., who wrote an article at Salon.com a few months back about thimerosal. Then there was the book called “Evidence of Harm“. Though the book pretends to be an even-handed look at the “controversy”, the title betrays its bias.

Indeed. There’s another one to add to the old blogroll whenever I can get the time to actually do it…

Read the rest.

Comments

  1. #1 Anonymous
    March 26, 2006

    Protestations that thimerosol has been proven by thorough studies not to be associated with autism would be more convincing if prior studies that, upon examination, showed nothing of the sort, had not *also* been promoted as such proof. Even the IOM report noted that nobody had looked into the effect of thimerosol accumulated from multiple vaccinations within the few days it normally remains in the body; nor into exceptions from normal rates of excretion. The public behavior of the medical profession, and of the vaccine industry, has resembled more “circling the wagons” than honest inquiry.

    This won’t be the last public-health issue infected with a component of hysteria. Somehow I doubt medicos will learn anything meaningful from it — guild traditions are too strong, and corporate defensiveness too reflexive. Open contempt has been a big part of the problem right from the beginning.

    (My daughter got her vaccinations a year later than most, and spaced out a month apart. She got Asperger’s anyway. The only treatment that has helped is melatonin at bedtime, which enables her to stop jumping long enough to fall asleep.)

  2. #2 coturnix
    March 26, 2006

    Now Joe Lieberman has also jumped on the thimerosal bandwaggon, thus joining the Republican War on Science. When is he switching parties officially?

  3. #3 Orac
    March 26, 2006

    Interpreting the non-science-based hysteria over thimerosal as part of the “Republican war on science” is a mistake. For example, one of the biggest boosters of the nonexistent thimerosal/autism link is a Democrat: RFK, Jr., and all you had to do was to read some of the Democratic Underground forums after RFK Jr’s Salon.com article appeared to realize that there are a lot of liberals contributing to the hysteria, as well as a lot of New Agers’ general distrust of vaccination. I know about this, because a reader posted a link to my deconstruction of RFK, Jr’s first article to a DU forum and I noticed it on Sitemeter. Reading the discussion that followed, part of it trashing me, was–shall we say?–most illuminating. Indeed, much of the thimerosal hysteria is fueled by extreme distrust of drug companies and the government, both of which are viewed as being in a conspiracy to cover up “the truth.” Elements of the left that supports this link tends to emphasize distrust of corporations as a reason; in contrast, the right tends to emphasize distrust of the CDC, FDA, and the government as a reason.

    No, I have to point out that you are incorrect about this. The scaremongering claiming that mercury causes autism is not really a good example to use when discussing the Republican “war on science.” Rather, it is pseudoscience that is truly bipartisan. You have Dan Burton and others pushing it on the Republican side, and you have RFK, Jr and now Joe Lieberman on the Democratic side.

  4. #4 coturnix
    March 26, 2006

    You are correct. But it is War on Science. And as Republicans are waging it right now, they take in under their wing and under their approval the nutcases from the Left (those that gather on lefty-nutcases sites like the DU – where I feel as unwelcome as in Freeperland). Fortunately, the Dems are more than happy to let the nutcases go.

  5. #5 coturnix
    March 26, 2006

    Oh, and Joe Lieberman is a DINO universally despised by Democratic blogosphere – to the extent that they are funding and supporting Lieberman’s primary challenger. He has not voted like a Democrat in years or said something that a Democrat would say in years. He and Zell Miller should really switch parties instead of keeping up the dishonest appearance.

  6. #6 Orac
    March 26, 2006

    You’re missing my point.

    The thimerosal-autism hysteria has little to do with left or right, Republican or Democrat. For one thing, I don’t see Democrats distancing themselves from RFK Jr, who did more than almost anyone (with the possible exception of David Kirby) to inflame the hysteria last year and continues to do so. Indeed, a key Democratic constituency (trial lawyers) is also inflaming the hysteria. It is no cooincidence that Mark and David Geier, the most vocal proponents of this pseudoscience, both make substantial livings running companies that assist lawyers preparing cases to go before the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

    IMHO, it is incorrect to lump the thimerosal-autism controversy as part of the “Republican war on science.” Global warming, anti-evolutionism, etc., yes, but thimerosal-autism no.

  7. #7 Flea
    March 26, 2006

    Thanks for the link, man, and for the promise of the blogroll. I read you often and don’t know why I haven’t added you yet.

    BTW, check out Dr. Charles, who went to Body Worlds recently. I mentioned that you posted on this, but couldn’t find the link!

    best,

    Flea

  8. #8 coturnix
    March 26, 2006

    OK, I concur – you are right about that. I think I misunderstood your previous comment and was clumsy with mine.

  9. #9 outeast
    March 27, 2006

    Oh, dear, Orac – looks like your link has introduced Fore Sam to Dr Flea. I think an apology is in order.

  10. #10 Orac
    March 27, 2006

    You know, I can’t really help it. Even though I feel bad that Dr. Flea has picked up a pset, I’m not going to withhold plugs for worthy posts about this topic just because Fore Sam might infest the blogs of others. Besides, I doubt he’ll hang out for long.

  11. #11 Joseph
    March 27, 2006

    The thimerosal-autism link has to do with the hopes of parents. Some hope their children are perfectly normal in reality, if not for an injury that can be blamed on someone else; an injury that can be easily treated with chelation therapy. The thimerosal-autism link is thus based on a fantasy that is sadly inconsistent with autism science.