Respectful Insolence

Well, it’s finally been posted, video of the debate between Arthur Allen, author of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver (a book that I am about 2/3 of the way through and plan on reviewing before the end of the month if possible) and mercury militia vaccine fearmonger David Kirby, author of Evidence of Harm and arguably one of the two people who have done more than anyone else to bring the bogus claim that mercury in vaccines is the cause of the increase in the number of diagnoses of autism over the last 15 years or so to a wider audience. (The other is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.) Direct links to the video can be found here (low bandwith video; high bandwith video). Those who have an interest in this debate may want to watch the video, or at least as much of it as you can tolerate.

I haven’t had a chance to watch the whole thing, mainly because it’s two hours long, but I can tell you that the beginning irritated the hell out of me right from the opening montage, where they clearly cherry-picked quotes from interviews with both David Kirby and Arthur Allen, a couple of which made it sound as though Arthur Allen was sympathetic to their views. This was accompanied by irritating graphics and ominous music, with text stating “The Medical Controversy of the 21st Century Is Debated.” To call this a bit hyperbolic is an understatement. For one thing, it’s not really a controversy anymore. It never really was that much of a controversy, scientifically speaking, more like a concern that scientists had several years ago that has since been assuaged by multiple epidemiological studies that show no link between mercury in thimerosal in vaccines and the rise in autism, most recently in Canada. Indeed, the evidence has been falling hard and fast against the the claim that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism, so much so that there has been some backpedaling and David Kirby has been reduced to shifting goalposts for what would convince him that mercury does not cause autism and hand-waving about “environmental mercury” and pregnant mothers getting flu shots as potential “causes” of the “autism epidemic” (which doesn’t really exist, of course).

From what I’ve seen thus far of the video, it looks as though he indulged in more of the same sort of pathetic arguments and obfuscation that he did in his brief segment on the local Fox News affiliate the morning of the debate. Right from the beginning, he made a big point out of the government recommendation that thimerosal be removed from vaccines, ignoring the fact that this recommendation was made more in response to the fearmongering of the mercury militia as a way of reassuring the public about vaccine safety. (Not surprisingly, it backfired, enabling David Kirby and his ilk to say, “See, the stuff must be dangerous; the government recommended that it be removed from vaccines!”) Arthur Allen described the debate thusly:

The day before our debate David and I appeared on a morning TV news show in San Diego. I mentioned the new California data, along with a survey of several hundred medical offices conducted by the CDC in February 2002 that showed that of the three pediatric vaccines that contained thimerosal in the 1990s, only 2 percent continued to contain the preservative by then. In other words, the data present a pretty clear schematic: thimerosal goes from 100 percent to 2 percent in two cohorts of children. Autism cases, meanwhile, increase by 60 percent in the two cohorts. For me, this is killer evidence, open and shut–the thimerosal thesis doesn’t fly.

David is a clever guy. The next morning, in our debate, he’d already come up with a series of explanations for the California data. First, he tried to ridicule the CDC numbers by describing them as a “convenience sample”–meaning, I presume, that no scientific methodology had gone into the data collection. The audience was 95 percent sympathetic to the mercury hypothesis and many of them chuckled at his dismissal of the CDC figures. David had no data of his own that would contradict the CDC numbers, but he had something else–a handful of fabulous new explanations for why California’s figures were so hard to conform to his hypothesis.

The explanations went like this:

1) California has lots of HMOs. Because HMOs buy large lots of vaccine, they probably keep around some of the old stuff.

1) A gigantic plume of coal smoke from Chinese power plants has settled on California, depositing lots of mercury and therefore causing the autism numbers in the state to continue to grow.

2) Bad forest fires have put tons of mercury into the air, depositing lots of mercury etc…

3) Cremations (!). The burning of dead bodies with mercury amalgam in their mouths has added even more mercury to the air.

(Read the rest, which is well worth your time, and, besides, the antivaxers have predictably shown up.)

And indeed you can see that this is exactly what David Kirby argued. For example, #1 is just handwaving. Allen had the evidence and a description of the methodology of the study that showed that by February 2002 only 2% of childhood vaccines continued to contain thimerosal. Kirby couldn’t refute that; so he came up with obvious handwaving like excuse #1 above and then, despite the fact that the debate was billed as being about whether it was mercury in vaccines that cause autism. He was just trying to muddy the water, knowing that the evidence was against him. Although I haven’t gotten to that part of the video yet, particularly bizarre is a series of slides in Kirby’s talk showing that the number of cremations in California is on the rise (really, I’m not kidding; see slides 99-101) and clearly tried to link this to environmental mercury causing autism. He was fairly smooth, very glib, and the audience, most of whom were sympathetic to the thimerosal blaming hypothesis ate it up.

From what I’ve seen thus far, Arthur Allen did as well as anyone could be expected under the avalanche of cherry-picking and deceptive representation of data and pseudoscience, but this sort of thing is exactly why it is usually not a good idea to agree to such debates. Moreover, the moderation was so piss-poor that David Kirby got away with wandering entirely off topic to mention things like cremations and forest fires as sources of “environmental mercury” that, by the way, conveniently started “rising” just as thimerosal was being taken out of vaccines, just in time to keep the number of cases of autism/ASDs in the 3-5 year old cohort in the California Department of Developmental Services from falling as would be expected if thimerosal did cause autism. Never mind that there’s no evidence of increased rates of autism near, say, crematoria or after forest fires. The debate was supposed to be whether mercury in vaccines causes autism, the whole point of Kirby’s book. Yet Kirby spent a rather large amount of time dwelling on other sources of environmental mercury, some of them quite ludicrous and unlikely. As Kevin Leitch puts it:

So David Kirby, all by himself, has abandoned the agenda and decided to stop talking about vaccines in particular and start talking about mercury in general. Did anyone stop him? Didn’t this debate have moderators?

[...]

This is getting ridiculous. Why are ‘we’ talking about four different types of mercury. This debate is about vaccines (or that’s what I once thought – that’s what the PDF advertising said – it did, didn’t it? I didn’t hallucinate it did I?) and that means just one type of mercury. Thiomersal . Thimerosal. Ethyl. That’s it. One. Not four. Hello?

(Kevin also included bite-sized excerpts of critical parts of the debate, for your edification and shows Kirby doing the backpedal over his previous statement that if cases of autism in the CDDS didn’t start falling by 2007 it would deal a “severe blow” to the mercury-autism hypothesis. While you’re at it, Mike tore apart the epidemiological fallacies that Kirby spewed, and Joseph has piled on David Kirby’s multiple dubious claims.)

I may blog some of the points that the debate covered later this week, but for the moment I’m more interested in a point that Arthur Allen made about the the whole mercury-autism claim in his blog:

In most forums, I like to think that listeners would have brushed aside these points as creative, but completely unfounded twaddle. But the audience for the mercury message is different. These parents are convinced that mercury is behind a substantial part of their children’s problems. Some of them feel that chelation, which removes mercury and other heavy metals, has helped their children, ergo that their problems have to do with mercury and heavy metals.

Many of the scientists who have glommed onto the thimerosal thesis are people whose hypotheses about the neurological damage caused by mercury amalgams in teeth have long since been rejected by their colleagues. But just as the drug companies now sell their drugs directly to the public, skirting the skeptical discretion of doctors, people peddling untested theories and therapies can go round their colleagues and straight to the public, using Internet marketing.

This story has legs because tens of thousands of parents of autistic children continue to believe that vaccines gave their children autism. In June, the federal vaccine court is going to review the evidence in a trial of several weeks. If the court finds in favor of the 5,000 petitioners whose cases are pending there, it will bankrupt the vaccine compensation program and could severely undermine the vaccine program. If the petitioners lose, some of them will take their cases to civil courts. Their chances there will be damaged by the vaccine court loss, but the whole mess will probably drag on for years.

And no matter how much evidence piles up against the thimerosal theory, it will die hard. It’s a story with legs.

Indeed it does, and, sadly, Allen is probably correct. But what he has said, unfortunately, doesn’t just apply to the mercury-thimerosal scare. It applies to so many other forms of pseudoscience and woo. For example, why, after all the evidence that it’s almost certainly worthless against cancer, are there people still claiming that high dose vitamin C is a miracle cure? Why does vitamin C have “legs”? Why are there so many people who believe that the planes didn’t cause the World Trade Towers to fall, that there were explosives there, and that the government (or the Mossad, or whatever) was the real cause of 9/11? Why does this conspiracy theory have “legs”?

My guess is that the reasons that people persist in believing in such pseudoscience are threefold:

1. The human mind is exquisitely set up to seek patterns and correlations. Even if none exists, it will still manage to latch on to even highly improbable ones. Parents see the number of autism diagnoses increasing in the 1990′s at the same time that the number of thimerosal-containing vaccines increase the number of diagnoses of autism and ASDs also increase. Never mind that it’s because of a broadening of diagnostic criteria in 1992 and increased awareness; it seems as though the two are correlated. Couple that with the fact that diagnoses of autism often fall around the age children receive vaccines and thus appear to correlate with when a child is vaccinated, and it’s not hard to see why this particular story persists. One reason science and controlled clinical trials exist is because correlations are so often confused with correlation, making it easy to make incorrect conclusions about causation. Many have done (and continue to do) this with vaccines and autism, not to mention with chelation therapy as well, where they interpret natural improvement in verbal skills, for instance, as being due to the chelation therapy, when in fact many autistic children develop these skills later without pharmacologic interventions, making it impossible to tell if such improvement is actually due to chelation therapy or would have happened anyway. Given the emotional investment these parents have, when their “experience” conflicts with the science, they tend to discount the science. After all, they can see the cause and effect for themselves! They don’t need no stinkin’ science to tell them that mercury in vaccines causes autism or that chelation therapy improved their child’s symptoms! Besides, it’s all just a conspiracy between the CDC and big pharma anyway, which brings us to…

2. When something happens that is beyond a person’s control, when people feel helpless, the tendency is to look for someone or something to blame. The mercury-thimerosal fear-mongering is perfect for this. Parents think: Something must have caused my child’s autism. It couldn’t have “just happened”. Then they look at correlations and erroneously fall for the fallacy of believing that correlation must equal causation. It must have been the vaccines! In this light, the reassurances by the CDC are seen as sinister, as just another example of the government “covering up” the “real” cause of autism, “protecting” big pharma , and “hiding the truth” from the parents. It’s not dissimilar to 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and is also reminiscent of people who think that the government or big pharma is somehow “keeping a cure for cancer from them.”

3. Another cause is money. As Arthur pointed out, there’s a lot of money at stake. Mark and David Geier, for example, make their livings as “expert witnesses” for parents of autistic children suing the Vaccine Injury Compensation Board; that is, when they’re not chelating autistic children or injecting them with Lupron to “treat” their autism. There’s a whole cottage industry that’s sprung up to support the mercury myth and sell “cures for autism” to desperate parents willing to try almost anything, not to mention to encourage them to file lawsuits in which–surprise!–they serve as “expert witnesses” for the plaintiffs. Money’s involved with Kirby as well, as he has sold the rights to Evidence of Harm to Participant Productions. If the idea (I will no longer dignify it by calling it a “hypothesis”) that mercury in vaccines causes or contributes to the development of autism is utterly refuted and discredited, the entire premise behind the movie would be nullified, and the movie would likely never be made. No movie royalties for Davey! Consequently, Kirby has a strong financial incentive to keep the mercury-autism myth alive, not to mention that he seems to have gotten his self-image as a guy who bucks the system all mixed up in this and seems to lap up the adoration of the mercury militia. Similarly, there’s lots of money in woo like vitamin C for cancer and in 9/11 conspiracy-mongering.

Basically, Allen’s right: Unfortunately, the thimerosal story, like so many dubious health scares and other conspiracy theories, has “legs.” even if those legs are becoming increasingly wobbly even for the true believers. As he points out, the scientific community has moved on because the mercury-thimerosal hypothesis is just not panning out; as more and more studies fail to suggest any link between mercury in vaccines and autism, on a scientific basis the claim that there is a link is harder and harder to take seriously. However, long after the science has rendered the idea that the mercury in thimerosal in vaccines was the cause of the “autism epidemic” so implausible that scientists have moved on to other more fruitful avenues of research, a small hardcore cadre of believers will not let the story die. They see themselves as heroic underdogs fighting against big pharma, the CDC, and the media (as represented by reporters like Arthur Allen). Unfortunately, in reality they are wasting time and money that might be better sought in helping their children develop to the highest potential of which they are capable.

Comments

  1. #1 anonimouse
    January 23, 2007

    Well done. I’ve always contended that the mercury parents are folks that – if you dig deeply enough – have other ingrained anti-government and anti-medical views. Most of those views stem from a desire to blame “something” for their child’s lot in file. It can’t be anything that just happened, and god forbid it’s anything they did. It has to be something thrust upon them by an evil conglomerate.

    Again, how many high-profile mercury parents are really closet anti-vaxers who soften their message for public consumption? I’d say that number is pretty darn high.

    As to money…here’s the fascinating thing. Folks like Paul Offit would probably still make a more than comfortable living if they never saw a penny from the drug companies ever again. I imagine the amount of money they typical ACIP committee memmber gets from “Big Pharma” is trivial compared to the amount of money the Geiers or Andy Wakefield get for “researching” and “defending” this ludicrous theory.

    Anti-vaxers always whine about following the money – maybe they should.

  2. #2 Ruth
    January 23, 2007

    And if it is environmental mercury, why doesn’t the area around Minimata have a higher rate of autism than anywhere else? I have never had a mercury mom on any of these threads answer a straight question about documented cases of mercury poisoning. And if you counter their stories of chelation cures with how your child made progress without chelation, well yours couldn’t have really been autistic.

    The environmental angle appeals to many. You can’t convince them that pollution has actually decreased in our lifetime. Lead is out of newer paints, gasoline and pipes. Yet more people are concerned about lead than when running hot water from the tap could give you an unhealthy dose of lead. Any rivers burning these days? There is lots of work left to cleaning up the planet, but only science can do that, not fearmongering.

  3. #3 Steve
    January 23, 2007

    I love the comments from people who don’t deal with autism every day diagnosing the mind set and beliefs of those that do. I am the parent of an autistic child and I do believe mercury is a part of the issue. I watched my son’s communication and social skills diminish rapidly within a week of receiving a flu shot containing thimerasol. I have used chealtion therapy and seen it work, I have used special diets (GFCF) and biomed supplements and seen immediate results.

    I was not anti-vaccine, I am now though having directly seen its impact. I am not anti Big Pharma, my father worked for Big Pharma for 36 years retiring as an executive with one of the largest pharma firms in the world. I am not looking to sue Big Pharma or the Government, I just want truthful answers from them. Remember when smoking was not bad for you, the same will eventually come out about thimerasol and the over vaccination of our kids.

    Follow the money… You think us parents are in this for the money? I have spent over $70,000 on my sons care the past two years in therapy, supplements and medical care. All out of my own pocket, so to say we are in this for the money is idiotic. I would do it all over again as well because I have seen dramatic improvements in him.

    If any of you critics ever walked a day in the shoes of the parent of an autistic child your mindset would change rapidly.

  4. #4 Andrew Dodds
    January 23, 2007

    Steve -

    One question. When you say that your son regress after a vaccination – did you make the link before or after you heard about thimersol?

  5. #5 Smokey the Autistic Bear
    January 23, 2007

    Being exposed to California brush fires for years now, I have been told that I am now autistic. David Kirby got me my label and David Geier got me a treatment over the phone. Thank goodness such scientists are looking out for us.

    Steve – IMO the real place to look for the money is your DAN!ish “health” provider. These criminals are the ones who are creating this demand. Congrats – amazing that your child made gains over the course of 2 years. At least you ruled out natural development. Right, where’s my shovel?

  6. #6 HCN
    January 23, 2007

    Steve, which ones on http://www.autism-hub.co.uk/ are not directly dealing with autism?

    That is where you can find the blogs referenced above (Kevin Leitch, Mike Stanton, AutismNaturalVariation, etc).

    The “follow the money” is for those who think they will get big bucks from a lawsuit… PLUS those who sell you the supplements and dubious treatments like transdermal chelators, pills, RNA drops, Lupron shots, and other things.

  7. #7 Ruth
    January 23, 2007

    Steve-

    I live with autism every day. My child makes progress (she is slowly being integrated in the general ed classroom) without spending our life savings on quack medicine. If your child has genuine allergies, good for you for giving them a special diet. Most of the supplements are bogus. Check out Terra sigillata on the side panel-many of those supplements contain more heavy metals than the vaccine you blame for autism. Show me a dose-response curve and I will listen to you. Otherwise, it is like blaming demons (Bradstreet will take care of those, too).

  8. #8 gadgeezer
    January 23, 2007

    There was a similar lack of moderation plus the presence of a hostile audience when Ben Goldacre of Bad Science debated Peter Fisher (a rheumatologist who is the leading spokesperson for homeopathy in the UK). Goldacre was physically very close to people who had sent him menacing emails that crossed the border into the territory of deranged.

    The moderator allowed Fisher to dodge some significant questions and to come out with an incomprehensible response to the question of whether or not homeopaths are anti-vaccination. In so far as I can tell, according to Dr. Fisher, the answer is that homeopaths who follow Hahnemann are not opposed to vaccination.

    Just so that I know when I next come across this argument, is it just chinese coal that contains mercury in its smoke when it burns? Is the mercury released in the forest fires from the trees or is it from the destruction of property that is destroyed by the fire?

  9. #9 isles
    January 23, 2007

    Orac – On the money, baby.

    I would add to your list the attraction of feeling superior to all those sheep who believe in conventional medicine.

  10. #10 Joseph
    January 23, 2007

    Steve – I also live with autism every day, my son’s and my own. Developmental progress in autistic people is not out of the ordinary. I don’t know why people think that’s the case. Because they were told once that autism isn’t curable, they somehow translate that into ‘autistic people are developmentally frozen in time’.

  11. #11 anonimouse
    January 23, 2007

    I was not anti-vaccine, I am now though having directly seen its impact. I am not anti Big Pharma, my father worked for Big Pharma for 36 years retiring as an executive with one of the largest pharma firms in the world. I am not looking to sue Big Pharma or the Government, I just want truthful answers from them. Remember when smoking was not bad for you, the same will eventually come out about thimerasol and the over vaccination of our kids.

    Wow, it’s the ol’ “I don’t hate vaccines my (insert name of relative) worked for Big Pharma” but I think they’re lying to us about thimerosal story. Man, if I had a dollar for every person who says they were once associated with Big Pharma but left because of the evil empire…

    Oh, and smoking and thimerosal are not the same thing. The tobacco companies’ science was bogus, and was pretty much accepted as such by the mainstream scientific community for decades. It was only when lawyers decided the best way to attack Big Tobacco was to force them to reveal what they knew did we realize that the tobacco industry knew smoking was harmful, and knew so for many years.

    The difference is that the science continues to be squarely on the side of the drug companies in this case. In fact, it’s the mercury parents and their bogus organizations that fund studies the stretch the bounds of credibility.

    Follow the money… You think us parents are in this for the money? I have spent over $70,000 on my sons care the past two years in therapy, supplements and medical care. All out of my own pocket, so to say we are in this for the money is idiotic. I would do it all over again as well because I have seen dramatic improvements in him.

    But I can see folks (not necessarily you) wanting to recoup some of that money spent on treatments and other services. Too bad that last I checked, autistic kids develop with or without supplements.

  12. #12 wrg
    January 23, 2007

    isles, when you mention a feeling of superiority I’m reminded of the term “crunchy”, as used by a commenter called “crunchy mom” in a comment at Flea’s of which a small part reads: “Angela is a caricature– she has a reputation for being over-the-top and crunchier-than-thou even among crunchy moms like me who read MDC (but take it with a grain of salt).”

    For a bit of context, “MDC” here is mothering.com, a home to quite a bit of anti-vaccination sentiment. However, I had to ask myself what in the world “crunchy” could possibly mean and what it had to do with the pick-and-choose vaccination protocol “crunchy mom” follows. Finally, it occured to me that it must be related to “number crunching” and that she and her ilk had taken to use the term so that their fear of vaccination could take on the semblance of nobility, a badge of honour among those who’d done their homework.

    Her use of the term “crunchier-than-thou” betrays how their use has gone beyond all reason. If “crunchy” really did mean rational and analytic about matters of vaccination, how could somewhat be both especially “crunchy” and “over-the-top”? This leads me to suspect that it’s no more than a handy euphemism that these folks use so they can feel they’re smarter than the uninformed masses who listen to scientists.

  13. #13 Anna
    January 23, 2007

    Crunchy = granola cruncher = hippie.

    It’s a shorthand for being into natural living. A crunchy mom would probably breastfeed, co-sleep, have a natural childbirth with midwives at home, use cloth diapers, homeopathy, not vaccinate, eat organic, and so forth.

  14. #14 wrg
    January 23, 2007

    Oh. Sorry, never mind then. That makes a lot of sense and invalidates everything I just said.

  15. #15 notmercury
    January 23, 2007

    Crunchy = granola cruncher = hippie

    Learn something new every day on Orac’s blog.

  16. #16 Steve
    January 23, 2007

    Anonimouse,
    I never said Big Pharma was an evil empire so don’t put words in my mouth. I feel just the opposite. My father beat cancer when the odds where overwhelming he wouldn’t. The Big Pharma firm kept him on full salary for 4 years while he recoveredand was not working. I do not believe one bit in pharma firms being an evil empire and I still am not ant Big Pharma. Anti-vaccine, you bet. I will never get my son vaccinated again. Kids today are overloaded with vaccines, neither you or I (assuming you are over 35 like me) got the number of vaccines that kids do today and we are fine (I am, I’ll assume you are as well).

    In regards to the science, I believe that one day it will come out that some children are genetically susceptible to the effects of thimerasol and other toxins much like some people are genetically susceptible to getting cancer. In my son’s case all of the potential markers are there. I just think this theory should be looked into and parents alerted to potential genetic impacts before their children are vaccinated. The science that you choose to follow is done by groups with a conflict of interest; I’ll admit as well that the groups finding evidence of a link are looking for one and also have a conflict of interest. Data can be twisted easily to show whatever someone wants it to show, it is working on both sides here in this case.

    This is a litigious society and yes people will sue and only the lawyers will benefit. My son has made jumps when new supplements were started and I believe that they have been a part of it. Whether you believe it or not does not mean a thing to me and like I said I would do it all over again. I’d give up the vacations, take out a home equity loan and do it all over.

    It is funny to me to read the hatred you guys have for people who have differing opinions. Open your mind, listen to other opinions and if you disagree at least do it respectfully.

  17. #17 Steve
    January 23, 2007

    Andrew Dodds,
    You asked: One question. When you say that your son regress after a vaccination – did you make the link before or after you heard about thimersol?

    I made the link before. He received the flu shot in October and we immediately began receiving reports from preschool of him no longer following directions, puling away from other kids and frequent hitting which had never been the case. I had never heard of thimerasol until April of the following year after he received his official ASD label. It was then that I began looking into this.

    I care about my kid, I am not on a crusade against anyone. I just want my kid to keep improving and go on to lead a happy life with many friends and good health. You should all wish the same for every kid with or without autism.

  18. #18 Robster
    January 23, 2007

    Steve, This isn’t hatred. It’s frustration. The epidemiology is against linking autism to vaccines or thiomersal. Now that thiomersal has been out of childhood vaccines in California for several years, if you were right, autism rates would be dropping. They aren’t. It’s most likely genetic, with the events leading to a different brain structure occuring during early pregnancy. The correlation with the flu shot is coincidence.

    If you want to help your son, don’t chelate him anymore. Chelation can be very dangerous, especially to small children.

  19. #19 Bartholomew Cubbins
    January 24, 2007

    The science that you choose to follow is done by groups with a conflict of interest; I’ll admit as well that the groups finding evidence of a link are looking for one and also have a conflict of interest.

    I went to anonimouse’s post and cannot find the references that you deem suspect. This conflict of interest point is largely convenient nonsense: who should be advising pharma if not the best minds in science? Who cares if some scientist leaves a government post and takes up a position in industry? Should s/he be selling shoes instead so that people will feel better about vaccines? Come on, when does this paranoia stop?

    Data can be twisted easily to show whatever someone wants it to show, it is working on both sides here in this case.

    It’s not a problem if one understands the data to begin with. Tragically, the average citizen is chronically ignorant about statistics and basic science (pun unintended but enjoyed).

    I said I would do it all over again. I’d give up the vacations, take out a home equity loan and do it all over.

    Good god, man. Hyperbole or what kind of stuff costs that kind of money? Sounds like they cleaned you out.

  20. #20 James
    January 24, 2007

    Steve: Forgive the commenters here who sound angry – its mostly a result of “whack-a-mole” fatigue, arguing the same points over and over, it can make one snarky after a while, especially when dealing with the anti-vaxxer trolls we get here. It can make the climate a little intimidating to those who come in good faith.

    I’d advise you look back at some of the many posts Orac has made on this topic. The evidence is now clear that thimerosal does not affect ASDs. Any apparent effect is coincidence due to symtoms normally first appearing when MMR is first given. Its an easy mistake to make when you don’t have the data.

    And I stongly urge you to stop chelating your child – it can be deadly, and has been in the past.

  21. #21 notmercury
    January 24, 2007

    Steve Said: “In regards to the science, I believe that one day it will come out that some children are genetically susceptible to the effects of thimerasol and other toxins much like some people are genetically susceptible to getting cancer. In my son’s case all of the potential markers are there.”

    Steve, we’ve been hearing this “one day soon the truth will be known” thing for many, many years. When do you think this genetic susceptibility will be exposed?

    The whole idea that some kids are poor excretors, accumulate more mercury, which in turn causes them to be autistic, is complete nonsense. If you’ve bought into this idea you’ve been listening to the wrong people. People who are tied to the chelation and alternative medicine industry.*

    Do’C wrote an excellent review of this hypothesis if you are interested. http://www.autismstreet.org/weblog/?p=103

    So what are all of these ‘potential markers’ you speak of?

    ** I am not anti-chelation, my brother in-law’s aunt worked for an herb shop for 52 years retiring as assistant manager with one of the largest vitamin firms in the world.

  22. #22 Steve
    January 24, 2007

    Obviously the data is not as one sided as you believe, if it was there would not be a debate it would be fact. Such as the sun is out in the day or the earth is round. And these posts just serves as a reminder of how it is a contentious debate. Notice the mocking of me in the last post because I disagree with you. That is a typical response of a very closed minded person.

    I don’t chelate. I do electro shock and it is working for me and my son. I bought a unit on ebay and have been using it for the past few weeks with much success. Come on over, I’ll hook you up you mocking little person.

    I tried to be respectful but it just can’t happen here, you schmucks had to take your shots not knowing me but just because you don’t agree with me. I tried to read the other side to educate myself on it and discuss the issue but certain little people could not be civil so I go better things to do than this, like shock my kid to better health…

  23. #23 Steve
    January 24, 2007

    Oh, one last thing. Instead of spending all your time mocking and shouting down those who disagree with you in your little holier than thou attitude why don’t you go do something to help fight autism on behalf of your beliefs. Volunteer in an autism classroom, raise money towards research, go do something.

    I do my part, I have raised over $18,000 running marathons for an autism research organization. I raise money for a cancer research center that saved my father’s life 25 years ago.

    So just go do something useful…

    PS: I had fun poking a stick into the a-holes, sorry I mean bees nest

  24. #24 notmercury
    January 24, 2007

    OK Steve,
    I apologize for mocking, it’s uncalled for and unproductive.

    I don’t blame you for feeling the way you do or for saying some of the things you’ve said but you’ve made a lot of assumptions about people you don’t know in your very first comment.

    For the record, I haven’t walked a day in your shoes but I’ve walked many years in the shoes of a parent of an autistic child (or two) and I live with autism every day. That doesn’t make me an expert on the subject, nor does it make me any more or less qualified to evaluate the science, or lack of.

    I don’t mind that you call me ‘closed minded’ but I hope you will try to always keep an open mind as you read what other parents and professionals have to say on the subject. The majority of parents don’t believe thimerosal has anything to do with autism but don’t let that sway your opinion. Just try to find sources of information beyond the autism = mercury parents and doctors and learn all you can.

    Good luck

  25. #25 anonimouse
    January 24, 2007

    In regards to the science, I believe that one day it will come out that some children are genetically susceptible to the effects of thimerasol and other toxins much like some people are genetically susceptible to getting cancer. In my son’s case all of the potential markers are there. I just think this theory should be looked into and parents alerted to potential genetic impacts before their children are vaccinated. The science that you choose to follow is done by groups with a conflict of interest; I’ll admit as well that the groups finding evidence of a link are looking for one and also have a conflict of interest. Data can be twisted easily to show whatever someone wants it to show, it is working on both sides here in this case.

    Your belief that children are genetically suspectible to thimerosal is not the same as it being proven – or even suggested – by science. That is my great objection.

    I’m sorry if I come off abrupt, but I’ve seen too much of this before and my tolerance level for it is limited. When people insist that vaccines caused “x” without a shred of credible evidence, all it does is undermine confidence in public health and reduce immunization uptake. That puts a LOT of people at risk, and it’s really irresponsible to make these kinds of statements without some kind of solid, tangible proof. Sorry, but a story about your kid’s progress with biomedical interventions doesn’t cut it.

  26. #26 Common Sense
    January 24, 2007

    Steve,

    Good job. Don’t allow the insanity here to bring you down :)

  27. #27 Lucas McCarty
    January 24, 2007

    “Steve,

    Good job. Don’t allow the facts here to bring you down :)”

    Fixed.

  28. #28 anonimouse
    January 24, 2007

    Good job. Don’t allow the insanity here to bring you down :)

    Pot, meet kettle.

  29. #29 Steve
    January 25, 2007

    Back for a minute.
    Anonimouse wrote:
    “Sorry, but a story about your kid’s progress with biomedical interventions doesn’t cut it.”

    See, this is ALL I care about- my son’s progress. For me that story cuts it and matters. I don’t judge any of you as parents for whatever you do for your kids, you shouldn’t judge me either. My concern is my kid and my kid only and I do what I think is best, same as you. I treat my kid as I see fit and then raise money for research that will one day help other kids and parents not deal with this.

    I urge you all, put your money where your mouth is. Donate money to an organization that will help fight autism. Not one to prove your side but one that is looking for answers. Whether it is vaccines or not is irrelevant now, do something to find answers not fight useless battles that can not produce a positive effect. I believe I do my part for the greater good, I urge you to do the same.

    BTW way I apologize if I offended anyone with my opening walk in my shoes comments. Closed minded on my part, because I believe one thing I assumed all parents felt that way. My bad, sorry. Best of luck to all of you. Now I am finally out.

  30. #30 Common Sense
    January 25, 2007

    “Pot, meet kettle”.

    Kettle meet squeaky annoying mouse.

  31. #31 Common Sense
    January 25, 2007

    “Donate money to an organization that will help fight autism”.

    Steve, you must understand. Here, autism is to be celebrated and not fought.

  32. #32 Lucas McCarty
    January 25, 2007

    Yes because all the evidence points to those attempting to ‘cure’ Autism have very fuzzy ideas about what Autism actually is.

    Just about any answer to the question “What is Autism?” that begins with “Autism is a condition where the person…” is almost always likely to be inaccurate and without heed to actual Autism research.

    Autism research is especially ignored among those who say the symptoms of Autism and Mercury poisoning are similiar. Mercury poisoning does not cause average test scores for progressive matrices tests to go *up* for one and simply never can do.

    Now as an Autistic person, why should I support a cause that prefers I never existed?

  33. #33 Common Sense
    January 25, 2007

    Now as an Autistic person, why should I support a cause that prefers I never existed?

    I think that this is a gross misinterpretation of what is being said and investigated. For me it comes down to the question of whether or not “autism” is a misdiagnosis for the unexplained behaviors/illnesses of
    SOME children who may have been adversely affected by vaccinations (or perhaps some other ‘environmental trigger’). It is sad that the debate does tend to polarize people and causes undue sadness for many but it is an important question. After all, if in fact “we” are right and “you” are wrong, don’t people have a right to be angry, sad, pissed off, etc?

  34. #34 notmercury
    January 25, 2007

    Steve,
    If you are going to continue to make assumptions about people you know nothing about, you may want to join the Evidence of Harm or Mercury-Autism groups where you’ll be in better company. “Common Sense” Sue here can send you an invite.

  35. #35 Common Sense
    January 25, 2007

    Steve, If you are going to continue to make assumptions about people you know nothing about…

    The irony in this statement from you is priceless!

  36. #36 Lode Stone
    January 25, 2007

    Commutator Sense,
    Irony isn’t priceless, in fact it’s quite cheap. Ask any Steel Magnate to take you for a spin on the ferrous wheel. You’ll find the trip easy to navigate and the destination attractive to your circular reasoning.

  37. #37 anonimouse
    January 25, 2007

    Common Sense,

    You have the right to go away and come back when you contribute something useful to the discourse. Please exercise said right.

  38. #38 Common Sense
    January 25, 2007

    You have the right to go away and come back when you contribute something useful to the discourse. Please exercise said right.

    Mousey pants you have that same right. The only things that I hear from you are “you’re stupid”, “you’re dumb” … to ANYONE who disagrees with you. Where does that get you?

  39. #39 Steve
    January 25, 2007

    Now as an Autistic person, why should I support a cause that prefers I never existed?

    Wow, I agree with Common Sense on this one too. I never said YOU should not exist nor did I say fight autistic people or people with autism. I am sure you are a wonderful person (gee another assumption on my part) but I believe my son is limited by autism and his full potential is not going to be able to be reached until I can get his social and comunication skills to a point where he is better able to function in the world and is no longer considered autistic.

    If you want to celebrate it good for you. Yippeeee. Me, I want it the hell out of my and my son’s life.

    I could go away too, but what fun would that be. You started the mocking when I tried to have a discussion so now I am just poking the stick….

  40. #40 Lucas McCarty
    January 25, 2007

    Common Sense/Sue, you’ve said something that has taken me by suprise. I have spoken to people who are of the position that only *some* cases of Autism are misdiagnoses for Mercury poisoning, but most I encounter publicly state *all* Autism is Mercury poisoning.

    I find it hard to seperate these two similiar yet distinct groups because each refuses to mutually distance themselves from each other.

    Are you saying that you do not share the view of those like John Best, JB Handley and David Kirby: that *all* Autism is misdiagnosed Mercury poisoning and not merely *some*?

    For John Best and a handful of others like JB Handley of Generation Rescue this is obvious: they openly criticise other parents for ‘neglecting’ their children by not chelating them. They openly claim that all cases of Autism are misdiagnosed Mercury poisoning. They do not use vague terms when making those specific claims.

    David Kirby makes the claim that all Autistics are Mercury poisoned because to my knowledge he has never even vaguely argued that his version of the theory applies to some cases only and does not apparently consider that if only some cases are misdiagnoses, then all epidemiological data means nothing because it’s a small and select population affected only. That is the arguement made by Wakefield for his MMR theory: epidemiology can’t detect vaccine-caused-Autism because it’s only a subset of children vulnerable to it.

    If this is the case and you really are of the belief that it’s only *some* cases of Autism that are really Mercury poisoning, then would you not agree that many of the public statements made by those individuals and organisations claiming there is an ‘epidemic’ and using disparaging, insensitive and downright perjorative langauge about *all* Autistic people is morally wrong? Do you distance yourself from those expressed views and the people and organisations that promote them?

  41. #41 Lucas McCarty
    January 25, 2007

    Steve, please pay more careful attention to my posts. I don’t mock anyone on a whim and usually not without a standing point soon following. My one personal and superficial post here was my first and it was directed at Common Sense/Sue.

    My later comment regarding generally those who are of the ‘cure Autism’ mindset not understand exactly what Autism is, is a position which has solid foundation. People are only qualified to speak about what they know about, they don’t have to be experts: most speak about things that are not experts in but they still ensure their grasp of the matter is reasonable. Most parents I disagree with over Autism accuse me of talking about something I know nothing about whilst they themselves never stop making assumptions about me, both deliberately and unwittingly. They typically are not able to explain non-emotively why I am disqualified and unable to answer my very careful arguements for why they have crossed the same line they’ve drawn, intended to restrict me.

    You know more about your son than I do, it can’t possibly be any other way as I’ve never met him and you’re his parent. Being a parent qualifies you to talk about your son as you’ve experienced him. You are *not* qualified to talk about Autism, as cold as that may sound, unless you keep a reasonable amount of knowledge about Autism research and what is learned in such research. You say to the effect that you know you have no qualification to talk about a first-person experience of being Autistic, a qualification you can only have if you are Autistic, but this was then contradicted by the statement:

    “I believe my son is limited by autism and his full potential is not going to be able to be reached until I can get his social and comunication skills to a point where he is better able to function in the world and is no longer considered autistic.”

    This does not sound like a view expressed by your son, but by you. It is a statement which requires you to be Autistic and/or to be reasonably informed on Autism research; you are not qualified to give a first-person view of Autism nor make a claim about Autism itself. When you make any kind of claim about Autism, even when you try to contain it with a ‘special pleading’ arguement like you are only speaking about your son, you are still making a claim about Autism and if you were in a position of influence that would have an effect on all Autistic people. And even though you are proberly not in a position of influence, emotive statements like these made by parents are continously used by people of influence to justify their official public postions about Autism and affect some policy or another.

    I’ve always felt nautious by the name of Cure Autism Now! For the most part, they have no idea what their own name even means because they wholly ignore vast and accessible research about what the difference is between a non-Autistic and an Autistic. To this very date, there has never been a successful study that has correctly identified an intrinsic ‘Autistic deficit’ even while so many claim Autism is nothing but many deficits.

  42. #42 anonimouse
    January 25, 2007

    Oh please, Sue. Do not provide lectures on good manners when it comes to blog commenting.

  43. #43 Steve
    January 25, 2007

    Lucas,
    You were never mocking, it was others on the list.

    My son is 5 and can not express himself so I am his voice. Those are my beliefs, mine only and the path that I have chosen to take with him- supplements, diet, limited chelation(No DMSA, DMPS or EDTA) is working. He has made huge strides that are not typical in development. That is the only science I need.

  44. #44 Common Sense
    January 25, 2007

    Are you saying that you do not share the view of those like John Best, JB Handley and David Kirby: that *all* Autism is misdiagnosed Mercury poisoning and not merely *some*?

    First of all, I have NEVER stated that ALL cases of autism are mercury poisoning. If you think that I have then find me the quote (you won’t find one). I can’t speak for anyone else. If that takes me by surprise then you have not been reading what I write …

    Any takers to this question:

    “After all, if in fact “we” are right and “you” are wrong, don’t people have a right to be angry, sad, pissed off, etc”?

  45. #45 John David
    January 25, 2007

    I was sent this link from a listserv and WOW. Someone wrote about this debate causing a drop in the confidence of public health. The public health system is the one forcing a known neurotoxin into the bodies of young children. My dear son included. This belief in the government is absurd. Have you ever seen a government program that has been run really well top to bottom with no corruption or politics in play? There isn’t one.

    So the government running a program to vaccinate, poison, young kids scares the hell out of me. I just wish I knew this before it was too late for my child. Then after it turns out to cause significant health problems you believe the studies these people put out. Of course these studies refute a link, why would the CDC admit their own gross negligence and the poisoning of millions of children.

    And the docs with their overuse of antibiotics, don’t get me started. It took me over a year just to simply get my child’s GI system back in working order. Or is that just a conspiracy theory as well?

  46. #46 Bronze Dog
    January 25, 2007

    John David, you’re paranoid.

    1. The government isn’t some monolith. There are actual human beings involved with conflicting motives.

    2. You’ve already rendered yourself immune to falsification. It’s the same thing as one nut who said, “Show me a man who’s says he’s not interested in Madonna, and I’ll show you a liar!” Also, you do realize that there are *gasp* other countries out there *not* controlled by the US, right?

    3. I’m not aware of the CDC ever saying any such thing. If you’re referring to the removal of thimerosal, they did it to try to relieve your irrational paranoia. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    4. What’s the point behind this absurd poisoning conspiracy? There’s far safer and reliable ways to make money than through something as low-profit as vaccines. Like quackery that’s never required to prove anything.

  47. #47 John David
    January 26, 2007

    My distrust of the Gov is not paranoia or that they are an evil conspiracy, it is in their incompetence. The only reason they removed it is because of the pressure people who feel it is dangerous put on them. Then they got into a game of Cover Your Ass. Not evil conspiracies, just covering their asses for their own stupidity.

    And anyone who thinks that politics is not driven by money and lobbying is an idiot. I work in DC with the Gov and have lobbyist friends. People don’t pay $20,000 to a campaign without getting something back, does the name Jack Abramoff ring a bell. Both sides of the aisle are corrupt as hell and are bought out. Not a conspiracy theory a fact. Politicians, in most cases, do what gets them elected not what is the best.

    I don’t believe in the X Files, just the government’s incompetence and the ability of a major money flow being able to gain influence in the political process. If we want to compare lobbying efforts I would say Pharma has a little, just a touch, more money than the Alternative Health/Medicine lobby.

    Anectdotal evidence or not, if mercury is not an issue than why do children make improvements when treated with biomed and chelation?

  48. #48 Lucas McCarty
    January 26, 2007

    Sue, I never even implied that you actually did say all cases were Mercury poisoning. If I believed that then I would not have bothered seeking clarification on the matter which was the point of that post.

    But whilst you have correctly stated that you have never said this, you did not reject it outright at all or distance yourself from those who do believe it’s the case. Saying that you never said it is not the same as saying you don’t believe it.

    I don’t believe in werewolves, but I can’t recall a time where I have ever told anyone. Contrast this with my positive belief in the existence of life in some form of extra-terrestrial, which I have also never previously said either. Both of these are examples of views that I have never openly expressed, one with the quality of affirmative disbelief and another with the quality of affirmative belief, so non-expression of the affirmative disbelief is no more confirmation of that as my position as non-expression of the affirmative belief.

    I don’t know what your position is and saying that you never said all Autism is Mercury poisoning doesn’t inform me any better. I can only make an assumption based on what you said but it has a wide berth in which it could possibly be wrong.

    Steve, there has so far never been any study showing that Autistics can not express themselves. The science that you say is adequate for you is not science: science is not a personal medium.

    If you think your son can’t express himself, why can’t he express himself? If those methods you are using are ‘working’, then why are they ‘working’? What exactly was wrong in the first place that these methods ‘work’ on?

  49. #49 HCN
    January 26, 2007

    John David said “Anectdotal evidence or not, if mercury is not an issue than why do children make improvements when treated with biomed and chelation?”

    Can you please point out the documentation to the studies showing that this actually happens? Because if all we have are random anecdotes, then we don’t know that ANY child has improved with biomed or chelation.

    Though we do have definite proof that Roy Kerry, MD (and presently a DAN! doctor, http://www.autismwebsite.com/ari-lists/us/Roy_Kerry,_M.D..html ) has effectively killed a child with chelation.

  50. #50 Steve
    January 26, 2007

    Lucas,
    He can’t properly express himself because he is 5 years old… When we started at 3 he was barely verbal and just screeched. Now he is able to express himself in wants and needs. I want some water, I am hungry etc. That is what we worked on. To go from signs and screeched to talking.

    Sorry but a 5 year old is not able to express his feelings about being autistic.

  51. #51 john David
    January 26, 2007

    HCN,
    Yes and other dotors have left surgical instruments inside a patient that later died. Should no one ever receive surgery again. This doctor went beyond the bounds of the typical DAN! program. There are good docs and bad docs in all medicine DAN! or not.

    My answer is if you don’t like it don’t do it. But shut the hell up and let other parents take care of their children as they see fit. I have chelated and my son is fine. I would never do IV chelation as Kerry did.

    If I see, as I have seen with DAN! vast improvements with my child then I don’t need science or a study to back me up. That is all I need. You wait on science, I’ll “cure” my son.

  52. #52 HCN
    January 27, 2007

    John David said “This doctor went beyond the bounds of the typical DAN! program.”

    Ummmm… he was not a DAN! doctor when he murdered young Tariq. He qualified AFTER he killed the kid, when he took a class (perhaps sharing the stuff he learned after having to call 911).

    Your point, again?

  53. #53 HCN
    January 27, 2007

    I forgot to add: During the 8 hour intensive training to become a DAN! after he killed a kid, Roy Kerry may have shared how to deal with lawyers.

  54. #54 John David
    January 27, 2007

    As I said in every field of medicine there are good and bad doctors and it is the patients, or parents in the case of children, to choose a doctor that is appropriate and qualified to treat them.

    Personal responsibility on the parents part can not be taken away in this or any medical case. Ultimately the parents need to be responsible to approve any care and they are responsible to make sure it is safe.

    This is ONE case, yes it is sad and unfortunate, in thousands and thousands of children in the DAN! protocol.

    Most parents I know that see DAN! docs are some of the most researched and smartest parents out there. They don’t agree with you and in my world that is a good thing. They choose to do something to help their children and in a great deal of cases it is working.

  55. #55 Lucas McCarty
    January 27, 2007

    From what you’ve said so far Steve, your son could always express himself: even screeching is communication. It’s articulation that was the problem and as you correctly say: it’s because of his age.

    But chelation does not teach those things, nor does any other biomedical intervention.

    Mr David, I have to take issue with what I think is a poor comparison between surgical errors and quack medicine. If people die from surgical errors, the answer is to not make surgical errors. People do not die from surgery; they die from errors, surgery itself is not in error. That is why it can not be compared with chelation as a treatment for Autism, which is inherently in error.

    Now DAN can not say Kerry made serious errors AND then simply take him onboard *shortly* following those serious errors, would they appreciate you making this arguement on their behalf then? Most medical treatments are not free of risk, I don’t believe there is any serious professional that would say any single form of chelation is completely safe regardless of their individual safety records, but that is why unneccessary treatment is to be treated as malpractice. How do you make special pleading for DAN’s malpractice whilst attacking Kerry’s?

    May I also point out that many historical ‘cures’ for Autism which were eventually found to be quackery may not have worked, but the parents of those being treated were always satisfied, even though there are never any proof they worked or any objective signs of progress. The parents still wanted the treatments to continue simply because their children were in a treatment programme.

  56. #56 HCN
    January 27, 2007

    Mr. David, where are all those children who have been cured with biomed and chelation… or at leaset some real evidence?

    Surely, if there are a bunch of them there would be someone who has chronicled with real data. Something like their DSM-IV diagnosis and some standarized tests before, and then after. Something along the line of this:
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/114/1/19

    (read its conclusions very carefully)

  57. #57 HCN
    January 27, 2007

    And this study:
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/110/4/787

    Surely, someone has done exactly the same thing with mercury or thimerosal!

  58. #58 Robster
    January 27, 2007

    Most parents I know that see DAN! docs are some of the most researched and smartest parents out there.

    Supposition. Also, just because soneone is “researched” or smart does not mean that they are immune to logical fallacies or being wrong.

    They don’t agree with you and in my world that is a good thing.

    They believe unsupported and disproven concepts, and follow these concepts into pursuing dangerous and useless treatments.

    They choose to do something to help their children and in a great deal of cases it is working.

    They are doing something, but there is no evidence that it is working in any cases. Anecdotal claims are not evidence. If, with the above claimed thousands of patients, you would think that they could produce a single study demonstrating their claims. But they can’t.

  59. #59 Orac
    January 27, 2007

    Supposition. Also, just because soneone is “researched” or smart does not mean that they are immune to logical fallacies or being wrong.

    Also, “researched” means nothing if the “research” was done using dubious and erroneous sources packed with misinformation. Science is a way of thinking, a way of understanding, not a set of information. If your mind isn’t trained to think scientifically, no matter how “smart” you are, you’ll have difficulty separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to medical quackery. And, of course, it also takes a certain background knowledge of basic biology that’s hard to pick up from books without considerable help. If you lack that, again, no matter how “smart” you are in other areas, you’ll be vulnerable to the siren call of quackery.

  60. #60 John David
    January 27, 2007

    Well criticize away, the quackery is working for me and that is my concern. I have to go give my son his supplements. Now I know why I never read these blogs before, it is full of people who just sit and do nothing but complain about the people who are looking for answers.

    I’ll stick to the Yasko and Yahoo boards where the people are positive and have hope for their children’s futures. You folks are depressing as all hell and suck the life out of me.

    I see the results in my child, all the tests I need.

  61. #61 Common Sense
    January 27, 2007

    If you lack that, again, no matter how “smart” you are in other areas, you’ll be vulnerable to the siren call of quackery.

    Of course you need to be reminded that sometimes “smart” people allow their medical books, Danish epidemiology and the CDC to stand in the way of common sense. Examine the kids to see what is going on with them… don’t just ignore them. Pitiful doctors do that… are you pitiful, Orac?

  62. #62 Lucas McCarty
    January 27, 2007

    I need to point out a depressing irony in the arguement that it is the affected children themselves that need to be looked at. My criticism of DAN, Generation Rescue and others propagating the Mercury hypothesis: they ignore as a matter of routine the majority of research about Autistics yet often say it is us that personally need to be researched.

    It doesn’t matter that there are vast quantities of research, they still say there needs to be research focused on us personally but ignore what is there already.

  63. #63 Common Sense
    January 27, 2007

    It doesn’t matter that there are vast quantities of research, they still say there needs to be research focused on us personally but ignore what is there already.

    I assume that you are directing this comment towards me. To which I say, perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. Look to the children who are presenting with certain illnesses and distinct physical pain, etc. That’s who I am speaking of…

  64. #64 Lucas McCarty
    January 27, 2007

    I agree. But it needs to be evidence-based methods for evidence-led treatments. Autism has no such treatment nor does it need medical-based intervention altogether.

    It’s fine enough to say people should look, but I would expect those insisting on this should at least be looking themselves before they make claims they can’t support.

    And my criticism still stands: the vast majority of Autism research is ignored and referred to only when there is something to cherry-pick because it supports a pre-determined conclusion.

    I’m still none the wiser as to wether you believe all or just some Autistics are Mercury poisoned Sue. Telling me you never said all Autistcs are Mercury poisoned is not the same as saying you personally don’t believe it, as was my point before which I was careful to explain.

  65. #65 Common Sense
    January 28, 2007

    I agree. But it needs to be evidence-based methods for evidence-led treatments. Autism has no such treatment nor does it need medical-based intervention altogether.

    I would love to agree with you here. Really I would. I would love for doctors (not the pitiful ones) to look at the children and their biomedical issues and come up with some answers — in the “traditional” medical world. I would love that. Rarely do you see that. Of course someone who is autistic does not always need medical-based intervention. Come on here. I would never say that. Do you ignore the ones who do because most do not? Do you fight parents who are looking to help their kids because they might offend the “Bill Gates” of the world. Come on now. Do you put aside the children with autism who do present with complex medical issues because you are not sure what to do with them. Yeah, I know… treat their comorbities… so do it!

  66. #66 Lucas McCarty
    January 28, 2007

    I’d like for you to not speak so vaguely because I’m having to ‘salami-slice’ information without getting it as a whole.

    Autistics do have medical conditions, the same way that non-Autistic or Neurotypical people have medical conditions: but they are not a pre-definate. We do not have medical conditions because we’re Autistic no more than non-Autistic people have them from being non-Autistic.

    In the ‘traditional’ medical world, it’s evidence-based. Doctors do not mix cause and consequence or confuse corrolation with causation. Medicine that does not follow that is bunkum, quackery, magical thinking. The only ‘pitiful’ doctors are quacks. It has nothing to do with ‘offending’ anyone. The only thing that has so far offended me personally is that comment comparing some of us to Bill Gates because it’s reinforces a stereotype that doesn’t teach anyone anything about Autistics.

    Now I’m still looking for an explicit answer to this; do you believe all Autistics are Mercury poisoned or just some and do you believe that Mercury poisoning caused Autism for them? Telling me what you did not ever say does not in any way tell me what you actually think.

  67. #67 Common Sense
    January 28, 2007

    The only thing that has so far offended me personally is that comment comparing some of us to Bill Gates because it’s reinforces a stereotype that doesn’t teach anyone anything about Autistics.

    I find this comical. I got the Bill Gates analogy from people similar to yourself. They use it a lot as if to say… Well, Bill Gates is autistic, Einstein was autistic, blah, blah, blah. Sorry it offended you.

  68. #68 Lucas McCarty
    January 28, 2007

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘people similiar to myself’. It is speculation that Bill Gates is Autistic, the idea that Einstein was Autistic is popular among Autism researchers but all agree that diagnosing dead people is far too difficult without a lot of evidence. For Einstein, there are only witness ancedotes and the known fact that he only started speaking aged three, which is not unknown in Neurotypical children even though it’s rare.

    I do not agree that there are two distinct and clearly-defined variations of Autism, such as the Asperger VS Classic model, so it was the fact that you were using Bill Gates as an analogy for one group of Autistics who must not be the same as other ‘need help’ Autistics that I found offensive. Saying Bill Gates is Autistic is inaccurate and premature, but not offensive. Saying us ‘Bill Gates Autistics’ are obviously different from ‘need help Autistics’ is offensive because it’s a myth that can’t seem to be debunked enough. Even Lorna Wing who first described the seperate Asperger diagnoses has expressed regret for doing so.

    Now I’ll repeat and hope you can focus on this part of my posts for once: do you believe all Autistics are Mercury poisoned or just a small number? If it is just a small number, do you believe Autism in those cases was caused by Mercury poisoning?

  69. #69 mc2
    January 28, 2007

    Steve you say

    Obviously the data is not as one sided as you believe, if it was there would not be a debate it would be fact. Such as the sun is out in the day or the earth is round. And these posts just serves as a reminder of how it is a contentious debate.

    You would be suprised (or maybe not) at the ammount of people that still insist that the world is flat, that the Sun goes round the Earth, that Elvis is still alive, that germs do not cause disease, that Evolution is a lie. The evidence against all these is overwhelming, but that does not stop people from making their claims.

    Just because you hold a position and that you have a small number of anecdotes to support you does not mean that there is a real debate. I sympathise with you position and I wish you and your family all the best, but you have nothing more that an apparent concurrence in the timing of onset.

    Because of the nature of the variation within humans, there is no guarantee that a medical treatment or diagnosis will be correct for everyone. So in your case no-one can know for certain what caused the autism (and this goes both ways), but the data very clearly shows no relationship between mecury and autism within the population.

  70. #70 Steve
    January 29, 2007

    Lucas wrote:
    From what you’ve said so far Steve, your son could always express himself: even screeching is communication. It’s articulation that was the problem and as you correctly say: it’s because of his age.

    But chelation does not teach those things, nor does any other biomedical intervention.

    Yes, biomed did not teach him these things but biomed did allow for him to learn these things.

    Questions for the group: What do you believe is the cause of autism and what do you suggest parent’s should do? Do you believe that all biomed is quackery or just chelation? What about leaky gut causing autistic type behaviors due to heavy antibiotic use? What about Megson’s theory of a Vitamin A deficiency? What about Yasko and the belief of methylation issues in the systems of these children? Are these all false in your minds as well?

    I am not looking to argue or debate, too tired for that and have better things to do. I know that you believe mercury is NOT the cause. I just want thoughts on what you think IS the cause and why the tremendous increase in the past few decades. Please don’t say it is diagnosis based only. I realize a broader spectrum and better diagnostics play an impact but not enough to go from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 166.

    Again, I am not looking for an argument. I want your thoughts on what is the cause, not what is not the cause.

  71. #71 HCN
    January 29, 2007

    Steve said “Questions for the group: What do you believe is the cause of autism and what do you suggest parent’s should do? Do you believe that all biomed is quackery or just chelation? What about leaky gut causing autistic type behaviors due to heavy antibiotic use? What about Megson’s theory of a Vitamin A deficiency? What about Yasko and the belief of methylation issues in the systems of these children? Are these all false in your minds as well? ”

    Asked and answered multiple times in Orac’s blog… including the archives. Use the search function. Also checkout the Hub here: http://www.autism-hub.co.uk/

    I would suggest you check out the videos of BartholomewCubbions blog that you can link to from the Hub.

    To also answer your questions… go to http://www.pubmed.gov and plug in the terms “autism genetics” to get more answers.

  72. #72 HCN
    January 29, 2007

    I would also add that Amy Yasko seems to get some basic stuff very wrong:
    http://bartholomewcubbins.blogspot.com/2006/10/advertising-techniques-rna-and-autism.html

    So why would her theories have any validity if she gets some very basic stuff very very wrong?

    Why would she have any more validity than say people who research autism all the time and are much more qualified. Like these: http://www.autismresearchnetwork.org/AN/

  73. #73 Common Sense
    January 30, 2007

    Again, I am not looking for an argument. I want your thoughts on what is the cause, not what is not the cause.

    I’m pretty sure that you don’t want to hear my opinion but it’s never stopped me before. So let me sum it up.

    They don’t know what triggers autism (assuming some even acknowledge an increase).

    But…

    They KNOW it isn’t vaccines.

    Sure…

  74. #74 Steve
    January 30, 2007

    OK, I went on to Autism-Hub and scanned and read some blogs. I still don’t agree and don’t see anything positive in my view. The autism bloggers there, that I scanned, simply have the view of: If you do biomed or ABA you are wrong and an idiot. No ideas of what to do or how to help children with autism, just the attacking of the other side.

    Sorry, I have been doing biomed and ABA for a year and a half now and have seen great improvements that extend far beyond what is typical development. I can not just sit back and watch autism rob my son of his true potential. My son is healthier now than when we started all of this. He has grown and is now in the appropriate range, his skin issues have healed, his OCD behaviors have diminished, he no longer injures himself, he can tolerate changes in schedule, his life is better, he is happier. For three years I had a child that was constantly sick, never smiling, distant with his parents and just an unhealthy child. Getting an ASD diagnosis, looking into and starting DAN! is what spurred on these improvements. I have no evidence of this to show you and don’t care, what I do have is a child that is doing better and that is all I care about.

    Wow, if working with him to accomplish these things doing biomed and therapy makes me a bad parent in the view of those here- then so be it. I guess I suck…

  75. #75 HCN
    January 30, 2007

    http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20070129006452&newsLang=en

    “STANFORD, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sifting through the pages of newspapers, most people reading stories about autism would think scientists are primarily grappling with understanding how environmental factors, such as childhood vaccines, might contribute to the condition.

    “But the truth is quite different. The efforts of the scientific community to explore autism lie predominantly in brain and behavior research.

    “This disconnect between the scientific community and the popular media is starkly laid out in a study published in the February issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

    “The researchers found that while 41 percent of research funding and published scientific papers on autism dealt with brain and behavior research, only 11 percent of newspaper stories in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada dealt with those issues. Instead, 48 percent of the media coverage dealt with environmental causes of autism, particularly the childhood MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella that was once linked with autism in a widely refuted study. Only 13 percent of published research was about environmental triggers of autism. ”

  76. #76 anonimouse
    January 30, 2007

    I’m pretty sure that you don’t want to hear my opinion but it’s never stopped me before. So let me sum it up.

    They don’t know what triggers autism (assuming some even acknowledge an increase).

    But…

    They KNOW it isn’t vaccines.

    Sure…

    Argh.

    Sue, this is so patently stupid I don’t even know where to begin.

    Just because we haven’t pinpointed THE cause of autism doesn’t mean that we can’t rule things out. Just as you can safely rule me out as a suspect in the double murder of O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife and an unsuspecting waiter because I was three thousand miles away at the time, you can safely rule out vaccines because numerous large-scale studies have all come to the same conclusion – they most likely don’t play a role.

    I guess you’d much rather hang on stubbornly to your moronic notions that vaccines are dangerous than admit that you’re wrong on this subject.

  77. #77 anonimouse
    January 30, 2007

    OK, I went on to Autism-Hub and scanned and read some blogs. I still don’t agree and don’t see anything positive in my view. The autism bloggers there, that I scanned, simply have the view of: If you do biomed or ABA you are wrong and an idiot. No ideas of what to do or how to help children with autism, just the attacking of the other side.

    Sorry, I have been doing biomed and ABA for a year and a half now and have seen great improvements that extend far beyond what is typical development. I can not just sit back and watch autism rob my son of his true potential. My son is healthier now than when we started all of this. He has grown and is now in the appropriate range, his skin issues have healed, his OCD behaviors have diminished, he no longer injures himself, he can tolerate changes in schedule, his life is better, he is happier. For three years I had a child that was constantly sick, never smiling, distant with his parents and just an unhealthy child. Getting an ASD diagnosis, looking into and starting DAN! is what spurred on these improvements. I have no evidence of this to show you and don’t care, what I do have is a child that is doing better and that is all I care about.

    Clearly, you’re reading only what you want to read in order to reinforce your opinion. You have hit one of my key points exactly – when you are convinced that autism is an awful thing and that you are “racing against time” to cure it, you will ignore any evidence that says that what you’re doing may not be the best thing for your child or that your child may have progressed without those interventions.

    Steve, since I know that you are not an expert on child development, you cannot say with any certainty that biomed or ABA caused “faster than normal” development. Development is not a smooth curve, it is something with stops and starts and huge gains followed by plateaus and sometimes small setbacks. The bottom line is that you don’t know, and to assume that you’re right and everyone else is wrong (as your post implies) is the kind of absolutist thinking that gets us in trouble.

  78. #78 Ruth
    January 30, 2007

    Steve-

    I’m glad your son is doing well. My daughter was chaos incarnate for the first 4 years of her life. She is now 10 and doing well also. It is possible (probable) that your son would have been doing well w/o investing 70,000 in treatments. I feel no anger at you, but at those who see vulnerable parents and move in to make money.

    My professional experience was that heavy metals show up in lab work. I can’t stand to see parents continue to chelate for years, when that 187 micrograms should have been out within days. Do you know the lowest effect dose for methyl Hg is closer to 20 milligrams? Why should I believe my child poisoned by 1/10,000 of the lowest dose that causes symptoms?

    If you are using diet and reasonable doses of vitamins as well as speech and OT or ABA to help your son, I think that is great. To sink all your savings in snake oil like RNA drops or chelation that is either useless (transdermal lotion that doesnt actually cross the skin) or dangerous (IV chelation) is to waste time, money, and effort better spent in helping your son reach his potential.

  79. #79 Lucas McCarty
    January 30, 2007

    Steve, I’ve already pointed out that whilst you know more about your child than me you do not know more than me about Autism, I can make that reasonable guess and not be suprised by the unlikely event that you suddenly out a phD certificate earned with an well-researched Autism thesis.

    So I can rightly point out that bio-medical interventions have no distinguishable effect on Autism, hence they could not have ‘allowed’ your son to learn things which Autism could not have ever possibly been preventing him learning. Autism is not an intellectual disability no matter how many scream to the heavens that their children lose intellectual capacity because of Autism.

    Earlier you correctly said that he can not do things because of his age, you then said he was ‘allowed’ to learn them because of bio-medical interventions. These two statements are conflicting, they can not both be true unless you are saying bio-medical intervention accelerated the rate at which he was aging which I don’t think you did.

    You also need to know that there is absolutely no such thing as ‘Autistic behaviour’, therefore ‘Autistic behaviours’ do not increase or decrease because they simply don’t exist and if they did, then Autism would be physically as recognisable as Down’s Syndrome or a cleft lip.

    I’d like for you and Sue to stop over-generalising, especially in regard to Autistic bloggers for you: it’s clear enough you’ve spent more time reading DAN material than you have anything written by an Autistic adult. You said it wasn’t ‘positive’, you didn’t like it, that doesn’t make it wrong nor does it make it unuseful for you. Very few Autistics who write on the internet are positive, did you ever begin to think why? We’re surrounded by material that says we’re deficient, we need help becoming non-Autistic and only then do we qualify for the same rights as everyone else. This material is where the public gets their information about Autistics, this in turn has a huge affect on our quality of life.

    I’m lucky that here in the UK the National Autistic Society resists a lot of pressure from a small minority of parents to endorse certain theories, therapies, interventions and perjorative and inaccurate portrayals of Autism that not only do Autistics harm but are not rooted in any evidence at all. That’s why US and Canadian Autism organisations rarely link to http://www.nas.org.uk; people would realise what a real charity for Autistics looks like and would actually demand standards of their own. Standards where hyperbole, panic, special interests and anti-disability rights agendas are not given consideration. The NAS website is hailed by most professionals as an excellent source of information about Autism, much better than what you find on American and Canadian websites that don’t link to it precisely because it beats theirs for accuracy and non-scare mongering.

  80. #80 Steve
    January 30, 2007

    OK, Lucas I did not say ALL autism bloggers. I said the ones that I read. That is not over generalizing, I prefaced that with the ones I read. I have also never said that mercury is the sole cause of his autism, I did say that I believe it played a role in my son’s autism in an earlier post and that I will not vaccinate again. And my son is far from having an intellectual disability, he is incredibly bright. I never said he had an intellectual disability, I said that I believed that his autism was preventing him from reaching his full potential. These are two totally different things, his potential is limitless and I want him to reach that.

    I also never said that these people were wrong, I said they had nothing positive to add IN MY VIEW. That is a statement of my opinion not a statement of fact or an absolutist belief. And his development was checked by one of the leading neuro developmental psychologists in my area, a major US city. In the year that we started when he was three he was at the developmental age of 15 months. During a follow up when he was five, he was developmentally at 4 years. That growth rate is greater than typical and was done by an expert. Again you have automatically assumed I am wrong.

    As I said earlier, I do not do any DMSA, DMPS or RNA drops. So again, don’t misrepresent my statements. My son was severely effected by leaky gut due to over use of antibiotics. That caused significant issues in focus and many behaviors associated with autism ie hand flapping, toe walking and OCD behaviors. He could not sit in a therapy session for more than one minute without going nuts, the therapists could not get him to focus on the task and he got nothing from the sessions. Immediately after implementing the GFCF diet (which I consider biomed) he changed. He lost many OCD behaviors, he stopped flapping and toe walking and he could focus on task longer than many kids his own age. So Lucas, that is what I mean by biomed allowing him to learn. If he were not able to focus on task he could not have learned what they were teaching. So instead of automatically saying I am wrong maybe you should try to understand the point I am making or check for clarification.

    The money I have spent incudes significant therapy, roughly 12 hours a week of private ABA, speech, OT and listening therapy which as you know is very expensive. Just to hammer the point again, in my post I never said you were wrong, any of you. What I said was that the path I have chosen to take with my son is working for my son. You are the people who are telling me I am wrong, not the other way around. According to my pediatrician (not a DAN! and listed as one of the top docs in my metro area), my neuro-dev psych, his autism teacher and all of his therapists that have worked with him for the past year and a half consistently comment on how well he is doing and how he has caught up to where he should be after being significantly delayed. He went from being tagged to be in a special ed kindergarten to being mainstreamed in a regular kindergarten with no or little aid starting next year.

    Again, if all of that is so wrong. Then I sure like being wrong and my son is lucky as hell to have me.

  81. #81 Lucas McCarty
    January 30, 2007

    Steve, I never said that you said ‘ALL Autism bloggers’ or anything like it. When I said you were over-generalising, I was refering to your description of what they were saying which had no references or quotes: it was a summary that doesn’t at all reflect what anyone I can think of writes on the Autism hub.

    Please please please read and re-read everything I say because I speak almost entirely in specifics and direct address; I’m comfortable with them and understand them better. But I can’t do this when you reply to things I did not ever say and don’t reply to the things I did say and made considerable efforts to emphasise. I find a lot of your replying post confusing because half the time you appear to be talking to someone else who said something else.

    That’s why so much of what Autistics write is never positive: people like you do not listen and talk to us like we’re idiots that can’t follow straight sentences and need to be led around in circles where instead of talking about one subject we have to constantly point out significant and seemingly deliberately errors, distortions and manipulations in the words people use with us.

    All I can say is that you keep making specific and general claims about Autism which you can’t qualify either with authority, references or simple logical deduction.

    If you’re going to make any claims about Autism such as how it prevents your son reaching his full potential, be prepared to explain yourself because such careless ancedotes when as widespread as they are *harm others*. They are not made in a bubble where contained and have no effect on those outside it.

  82. #82 Steve
    January 30, 2007

    When I said this was a negative blog with little positive to say here is exactly what I mean. Only one person said- That is great, what you are doing is working for you. The first thing each person has responded is: That can’t work, it doesn’t work, it is not mercury, you have no scientific evidence, you’re being taken advantage of, basically you’re an idiot. Never once did anyone ask what I was doing before assuming I was wrong; if you don’t know what I am doing how can you tell me I am wrong. That is not me telling you that you are wrong, it is my questioning how you automatically assume that I am wrong without full information. Again just shouting down those that open a dialog or question your opinions leads to nothing positive IN MY OPINION.

    I got a kid making gains and is no longer someone that is stared at because of his behaviors. He is starting to understand the social world and make connections and he is happy when he was not for a long time. If my wanting that, and working towards the goal of having a happy, healthy, well adjusted child who is smart, has friends and is successful in all that he does is wrong then so be it.

  83. #83 Steve
    January 30, 2007

    When I said this was a negative blog with little positive to say here is exactly what I mean. Only one person said- That is great, what you are doing is working for you. The first thing each person has responded is: That can’t work, it doesn’t work, it is not mercury, you have no scientific evidence, you’re being taken advantage of, basically you’re an idiot. Never once did anyone ask what I was doing before assuming I was wrong; if you don’t know what I am doing how can you tell me I am wrong. That is not me telling you that you are wrong, it is my questioning how you automatically assume that I am wrong without full information. Again just shouting down those that open a dialog or question your opinions leads to nothing positive IN MY OPINION.

    I got a kid making gains and is no longer someone that is stared at because of his behaviors. He is starting to understand the social world and make connections and he is happy when he was not for a long time. If my wanting that, and working towards the goal of having a happy, healthy, well adjusted child who is smart, has friends and is successful in all that he does is wrong then so be it.

  84. #84 ekisndoos
    January 30, 2007

    If the dunce cap fits vaccine deniers should wear it.
    As Forrest Gump says
    “Stupid is as stupid does”

  85. #85 Steve
    January 30, 2007

    Sorry for the double post…
    Lucas,
    I can say the same thing to you about you not being specific. Read and re-read what you write. You didn’t say what you felt I was over-generalizing ie. the bloggers or the content. You leave me to guess what you mean, if you had been specific I could have answered you specifically.

    And lastly for real this time your comment of- people like you… Now that one pisses me off. People like you… Go screw yourself on that one. is that direct enough and pointed enough for you to understand.

  86. #86 anonimouse
    January 30, 2007

    Steve,

    I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m saying you have no evidence other than your pithy little anecdote to back up your claims that you’re right.

  87. #87 Lucas McCarty
    January 30, 2007

    I’m comfortable saying “people like you” as it’s an unvarying constant which won’t throw anything unexpected my way. If I object to those who use perjorative and unfounded words to described Autism and object on the grounds that the information they’re spreading will have a negative impact on me, I’m often told words similiar to ‘piss off’.

    Wether I mentioned bloggers or blog content doesn’t matter as you had already summarised the *content*(making far less comment of the bloggers themselves): not positive and insufficient for you because it does not align with your own beliefs, Autistic adults have nothing to teach you. Another constant I’m used to. Anything I or any other Autistic says can be ignored because we’re supposed to be completely different to other Autistics, no evidence or references provided.

    I don’t get your use of the term ‘automatically wrong’. What does it mean? I didn’t realise being wrong was subject to a binary of automatic/manual and I’m having trouble putting such an idea into meaning.

    If you mean predefinate, predeterminate or prejudicial assumption of wrongness, I’d have to disagree that anyone here has done so. It’s more a case that you’re not seeing how your personal situation fits in with the already explored and discussed area of interventions for Autism which among Autistics themselves and most researchers, there has been a consensus as to their value for a long time for each one.

    Now I am not ‘shouting you down’ or anything of the sort, but you are not making as much effort at open dialog as you claim you are nor have you simply questioned my opinions; you’ve made claims about Autism which have an eventual effect on me and my quality of life and you have not substantiated them. And I didn’t tell you to piss off when you did so.

  88. #88 John David
    February 1, 2007

    Why Would FDA & CDC Approve Mercury-Based Vaccines?

    Ayoub believes that the CDC and FDA embrace marginal research and
    unsupported policies because of conflicts of interests. It may come
    as a surprise to most physicians, he explains, “that the CDC has a
    built-in conflict of interest with regards to its dual role in
    vaccine policy.” One limb of the CDC that oversees vaccine safety
    has a budget of approximately $30 million, while the limb that
    promotes vaccine usage (ACIP and NIP) has a $1 billion budget, he
    says.

    The CDC and FDA policy decisions are made through physician
    advisory panels whose members often have financial relationships
    with the very same pharmaceutical companies that they are supposed
    to regulate.

    For example, during a congressional hearing on potential conflicts
    of interests at the FDA, it was revealed that 60% of the advisory
    members who voted to approve the poisonous rotavirus vaccine had
    financial ties to the drug companies manufacturing the vaccine. The
    committee also found that 50% of the CDC members were tied to the
    rotavirus makers.

    However, according to Ayoub, the CDC and FDA do not have exclusive
    rights in coddling the industry. An investigation of doctors
    involved in co-authoring forty-four different Clinical Practice
    Guidelines for drug companies found:

    85% of guideline authors have some sort of relationships with drug
    companies, and they are often not disclosed

    38% of respondents said they had served as employees or consultants
    for drug companies; 58% received research money

    59% had links with drug companies whose medications were considered
    in the particular guidelines they authored, almost all cases
    predating the guideline creation process

    These numbers may be even greater, as only 52% of authors responded

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