Respectful Insolence

One amusing little tidbit that came out of my recent post about how the mercury militia tries to intimidate scientists who are willing to speak out against the antivaccination wingnuttery is that the Generation Rescue website, home of J. B. Handley and his merry band of mercury militia chelation junkies, has undergone a makeover. Gone is the dogmatic site that proclaimed that autism and autism spectrum disorders are all “misdiagnoses” for mercury poisoning. Here now is a kinder, gentler Generation Rescue site, although it’s still chock full of the same looniness that you’ve come to expect from Mr. Handley and his crew.

Let’s take a look. Here’s Generation Rescue before the makeover:

Generation Rescue believes that childhood neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger’s, ADHD/ADD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder, and many other developmental delays are all misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning.

When you know cause, you can focus on cure.Thousands of parents are curing their children by removing the mercury from their children’s bodies. We want you, the parent, to know the truth.

That’s pretty clear and unambiguous, indeed amazingly so for such a kooky site, don’t you think? It’s the mercury, period, and chelation is the cure!! At least, that was Generation Rescue then. Here’s Generation Rescue now:

We believe these neurological disorders (“NDs”) are environmental illnesses caused by an overload of heavy metals, live viruses, and bacteria. Proper treatment of our children, known as “biomedical intervention”, is leading to recovery for thousands.

The cause of this epidemic of NDs is extremely controversial. We believe the primary causes include the tripling of vaccines given to children in the last 15 years (mercury, aluminum and live viruses); maternal toxic load and prenatal vaccines; heavy metals like mercury in our air, water, and food; and the overuse of antibiotics.

Whoa! (If I could picture it adequately here, I’d give that look that Jon Stewart does on The Daily Show when doing a double take.)

J.B., what happened to the clarity of vision, when it was all mercury in the vaccines that caused the “autism epidemic” and chelation was the cure? It was only just a couple of years ago that that was the party line! What’s with all this new stuff and use of the softer, fuzzier term “biomedical intervention,” instead of chelation? It couldn’t be, perhaps, that the accumulating epidemiological evidence that the mercury in the thimerosal in vaccines is unrelated to autism and that removing thimerosal from childhood vaccines has not led to a drop in the number of new cases of autism and ASDs, either in California, Canada, or Denmark, now could it? When the likes of J.B., whose single-minded focus on mercury in vaccines as the cause of all evil and whose willingness to threaten and bully anyone who disagreed with him made him notorious even among cranks, start handwaving about prenatal vaccines and “maternal toxic loads” mercury in the “environment,” or live viruses, you know he’s actually starting to hedge his bets. You know that it’s actually sunk into even his single-minded consciousness that the thimerosal hypothesis is no longer scientifically tenable, although he can’t resist gamely trying to argue otherwise elsewhere on the site.

If there’s anything else that I’ve seen lately that indicates to me that even the most diehard members of the mercury militia are starting to realize that the evidence is now inarguably against them, seeing Generation Rescue soften its “it’s the mercury, stupid!” stance and start making vague statements about “toxic loads” and “live viruses” is surely one of the most amazing bits of evidence that it’s really happening. Sure, it was no real surprise when David Kirby started bobbing and weaving around the question of mercury in vaccines as the main causative factor of the “autism epidemic” as his self-imposed deadline for seeing a drop in the number of new cases of autism after the removal of thimerosal in vaccines came and went with autism rates trending upward at the very same rate as before. After all, Kirby is nothing if not an opportunist, and he’s smart enough to see the writing on the wall, even if he can never admit it or apologize for the role of his book, Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic, A Medical Controversy, in stoking antivaccination hysteria two years ago. However, seeing Generation Rescue back away from blaming autism primarily on mercury is huge. When I see that happening, for the first time since I discovered this issue, I have hope that this antivax pseudoscience about thimerosal will finally die the death it so richly deserves.

That’s what Generation Rescue gets for backing a testable hypothesis. Sadly, however, they’ve learned how to make their ideas about environmental causes of autism so vague, encompassing vague altie concepts like “toxic loads” and other components of vaccines, that they’re now practically untestable, guaranteeing that the pseudscience can continue to flow for years to come.

Comments

  1. #1 Stuart Coleman
    May 2, 2007

    A small victory for sanity, but as long as there are tragedies and things to blame them on, this inanity will exist. Seeing causes where none exist is a part of human nature that we will never completely eradicate.

  2. #2 Kristina Chew
    May 2, 2007

    It’s interesting that those who claim there is an epidemic of autism, and who call for treatments such as chelation, keep on broadening their terms: Now it is not only the mercury in vaccines, it is the mercury and other toxic substances everywhere. Now it is (following the subject matter of the new book by Dr. Kenneth Bock) not only an epidemic of autism, but of the “4-A” disorders of autism, ADHD, allergies, asthma. The terms that Kirby, Handley, and others use are expanding, or rather metamorphizing, to suit their argument.

  3. #3 Kev
    May 2, 2007

    I think the timing of this flip flop is very telling. According to the GR website they’ll be publishing the results of a survey they conducted into unvaccinated children.

    Now we see the first GR move away from the vaccine party line I think the results of this survey must not be quite what Brad had envisaged.

  4. #4 Bradford H.
    May 2, 2007

    [Deleted–naughty, naughty, Mr. H., but you do validate what I said about cranks liking to “out” people, but you do get props for being slightly subtle about it.]

    I pulled this from the [Deleted also–naughty, naughty, Mr. H., but you do validate what I said about cranks liking to “out” people] website (you know, that place you work as someone’s assistant):

    [Deleted–An odd comment from 2003 about the supposedly large number of vaccines being given and how, to rule out any sort of role in autism, all early childhood vaccinations will have to be looked at. Orac says: I’m actually rather disappointed that this was on the website of my university.]

    I pulled this from the State of California’s DDS:

    “There is no evidence that a loosening in the diagnostic criteria has contributed to increased number of autism clients…we conclude that some, if not all, of the observed increase represents a true increase in cases of autism in California…a purely genetic basis for autism does not fully explain the increasing autism prevalence. Other theories that attempt to better explain the observed increase in autism cases include environmental exposures to substances such as mercury; viral exposures; autoimmune disorders; and childhood vaccinations.”

    On our website, we cite 30 studies published in peer-reviewed journals to support our position. Do you think all 30 of those studies are of no value and that parents would be better served to listen to a second-rate cancer physician?

    I’m not surpised to read your post above, I suppose I should expect nothing less. As a scientist, and this would be true for any scientist, you are in a position to potentially move the deabte about autism forward. But, as a scientist, you have some limitations that your training and view of the world have placed upon you. One of those would be perspective. To you, the opening paragraph of our website and the changes we made there somehow provide you with a sense of victory or a sign that our “side” is changing their tune.

    From my perspective, our website and its message have always been broader than “its ONLY mercury” and I got tired about hearing from those of you who had only read the home page, so we changed it. Somehow the notion of a simple message and a more complex answer has been lost upon you. So be it.

    There is a much larger, more important, and fundamental set of questions that all parents need answered:

    Are the number of cases of autism growing at a rate higher than population growth and if so, why?

    Are there environmental triggers that may cause autism and if so what are they?

    Is the change in vaccine load from 10 to 36 between the early 1980s and today a driver of the change in the number of autism cases?

    And, most importantly, what in the hell do we do if any of the questions have a “yes” answer.

    At present, exactly zero research has ever explored the 10 vs 36 question.

    Further, the thimerosal question is very much alive. As the NIEHS (a bunch of scientists)recently stated:

    “It’s an ‘open question’ whether anything about vaccines — timing, dose, preservative — is related to the rise in diagnoses [of autism]. Some studies are stronger than others. The Verstraeten [Pediatrics] study was an improvement on other studies including the two in Denmark, both of which had serious weaknesses in their designs that limit what we can learn from them.”

    Here’s their report, you’d be well served to read it before popping the cork on your champagne bottle:

    http://www.generationrescue.org/pdf/thimerosal.pdf

    Orac, you can turn this into a more personal debate and hold me out as the poster child of something, I really don’t mind or care. As a parent of an autistic child, I wish guys like you cared more about understanding what has actually happened to all of our kids. To date, the “mainstream” to which you belong has no plausible explanation, and parents deserve better.

    For what its worth, I haven’t heard from a single parent of an autistic child on my side of the fence who found our update to be anything but helpful. Feel free to continue splitting hairs about whatever scientific vicotry our new site presents for you. Since you first started blogging about autism we have way more doctors, way more scientist, and way more parents waging a genuine war to figure out what happened to our kids and how to make them better. They are “real” scientists and doctors, despite your caricature, and many of them no longer have the word “Assistant” at the front of their title.

    Unfortunately, your website has been infiltrated by a pathetically tiny group of parents who think their child’s autism is a gift from God. While we dwarf them in numbers, they have a lot more time to blog, and seem to revel in it, so I’m sure they’ll be here soon to hurt my feelings.

    Sincerely your domain name,

    BradfordHandley

  5. #5 MarkH
    May 2, 2007

    It will be interesting to see what the switch to next is more like it. I sincerely doubt they’ll drop vaccines as a whole. It will probably become about some kind of “immune assault” that vaccination causes, but can still be treated with chelation or “immune modulation” nutrition.

    The initial correlation=causation problem they had – that diagnosis occurs at an age in which there are many vaccines being given – will probably just crop up in a new way. They’ll say that mercury was only part of the problem and the real problem all along is vaccines…

  6. #6 Bradford H.
    May 2, 2007

    Kev:

    Bad news, mate, bad news.

    Our survey was worse than I thought it would be.

    While someone with your intellect will try to make me out as “antivax” plain and simple, I am officially now Mr. “Anti-overvax.” As in, we are over-vaccinating our kids because Pharma took over the ACIP.

    I’ll talk to you after we publish the survey.

    Your enemy,

    BH

  7. #7 Bradford H.
    May 2, 2007

    MarkH:

    First, the bad news. This really will be my last post here. I have to head out the door to admire by favorite domain name, which I own for the next 300 years, OracKnows.com. It’s on my bedroom wall.

    MarkH, here’s a simple idea. To settle the debate, since you couldn’t possibly know the answer, we just need some epidemeology, something Orac is an expert at…

    Let’s look at vaccinated kids between 1995-2005 and compare that to vaccinated kids born between 1975-1985 and see if ASD rates are any different.

    Are they?

    Oops, oh shit, well, there’s that whole DSM-IV thing…

    OK, OK, let’s just do this then:

    Take kids today, the ones with all 36 vaccines, and just compare them to kids who got ZERO. Surely, that’s the simplest, easiest way to put this whole thing to bed, right? Because, heck, when the CDC ran all their numbers on American children, looking only at thimerosal, with our uniquely voluminous American vaccine schedule their conclusion was: NEUTRAL. No answer. We don’t know.

    So, let’s make it easy on all of us, just look at the UNVAX kids, see if their prevalence of ASD is ANY different, and just move on. Given the enormous controversy, given how much time pediatricians spend with nervous parents, surely this would be a simple way to knock the issue out, no?

    Yes, it would. But, it’s never been done. And because its never been done, you really have no fucking idea what you are talking about.

    Peeing in all of your cheerios,

    BH

  8. #8 Ashleigh Anderson is Bradford H
    May 2, 2007

    Hey Brad/Ashleigh,

    You are the only person/sock puppet who hates Orac enough to out him at every chance.
    Sad little man you are Bradford Handley/Ashleigh Anderson. Sad little website you got there. Your sad little hypothesis dying in the courts, too.

    Why can’t you see what is plain as day. The “autism epidemic” never happened? Too blinded by rage? I see your friend Amy Yasko is fighting it out with her partner in crime Garry Gordon in court. They are battling over who gets to keep what in the way of profits. They’ve made millions, it seems, from selling $70 bottles of useless yeast RNA drops that are degraded in the mouth of the person getting them into amino acids. Now that you are on to “metals” you are going to start with an antiviral? Really. I thought your kid was supposed to be cured by now with Buttar’s wonder cream only. You mean he’s not normal yet? Your belief in these insane ‘treatments’ tells us all we need to know about how bright a boy/girl you are Ashleigh/Brad.

  9. #9 Sastra
    May 2, 2007

    So, let’s make it easy on all of us, just look at the UNVAX kids, see if their prevalence of ASD is ANY different, and just move on.

    I think first you’d have to control for other variables which might account for differences between kids who are vaccinated and kids who are not. For example, if kids who are not vaccinated statistically tend to have parents who are into natural health, or especially religious, or better educated, or less well educated, or more isolated — or Amish — then the vaccinated/unvaccinated groups are not otherwise the same.

  10. #10 mike stanton
    May 2, 2007

    Hi Orac,
    JBH must be hurting a lot to post such bile on your blog. To answer his key questions.

    Q. Are the number of cases of autism growing at a rate higher than population growth and if so, why?
    No. Fombonne and Chakrabarti’s two cohort studies in a single UK health authority indicate that incidence is stable.

    Are there environmental triggers that may cause autism and if so what are they?

    Probably not. Check out Stephen Rose’s ideas about autopoiesis to understand why this concept of environmental causation is too simpistic to account for the subtleties of human development involved in autism.

    Is the change in vaccine load from 10 to 36 between the early 1980s and today a driver of the change in the number of autism cases?
    No.

    And, most importantly, what in the hell do we do if any of the questions have a “yes” answer.
    What do we do now that none of them have a “yes” answer?

  11. #11 Yer In Injection
    May 2, 2007

    BJ, are you broadening your little idea in order to increase the number of drugs and potions you can try on your NT kid? Experimentalism is in, so I hear.

    Are you still using Butter’s magic lube? Does it still turn your shti orange? I haven’t heard you bray that one in a while. We need to ask Best how it tastes… the orange part, that is.

    Is your kid still autistic? Didn’t you say he’d be NT by now? Sounds like Amy has failed with flying colors.

    As you’ve broadened your culprit criteria, have you also broadened your conspiracy criteria? Is the FAA in on it now too? What about the FCC? What does your ex-CIA daddy have to say about the Portland Sheriff’s office? Are they where the conspiracy’s rubber meets the road?

  12. #12 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2007

    It’s interesting that those who claim there is an epidemic of autism, and who call for treatments such as chelation, keep on broadening their terms:

    Moving the goalposts is a favorite tactic of these types.

    And BH you are sad sad specimen of a human.

  13. #13 Cain
    May 2, 2007

    Pardon my french, but what a fucking douchebag.

  14. #15 all your mercury are belong to us
    May 2, 2007

    “Do you think all 30 of those studies are of no value”

    Some do have a smidgeon of value on their own. The summaries and conclusions by Generation Rescue about what can really be ascertained from those studies, are of very little to no value whatsoever. This is primarily because the actual conculsions of the cited ‘research’ are overstated and misinterpreted, but also in some instances, because the research is so methodologically flawed, inferring anything from it is pointless.

    JB Handley and Generation Rescue are a giant putrid skidmark on the clean white underwear of the autism community.

  15. #16 daedalus2u
    May 2, 2007

    I looked up that paper on how a newborn’s immune system can handle 10,000 vaccines simultaneously, and it makes a lot of sense. It seems like a very conservative estimate. It is probably closer to 100k, or even a million antigens simultaneously.

    He has a nice table, showing the number of antigens in the various vaccines. There may be more vaccines, but the number of antigens has gone down remarkably. Early vaccines were whole-cell, now they are just the “active” protein. A few hundred antigens in a whole cell vs 1 active protein.

    Of course letting people know that while the number of vaccines has gone up, the number of antigens has gone down, doesn’t elicit the kind of hysteria that gets people to buy the woo that they are selling.

    It is pretty obvious that newborns do handle a lot of potential infectious bacteria really fast. They start out completely sterile, then are forced through the birth canal where they are exposed to lots of bacteria. Certainly thousands of bacteria. If they didn’t develop an immune response to every single one, they would die of an infection from that one. Newborns don’t die of an infection, therefore they can handle developing an immune response to each of thousands of antigens simultaneously, within hours of birth. If a newborn can handle thousands simultaneously, what difference does going from 10 to 36 vaccines spread out over several years make? Nothing significant. Particularly when the number of antigens in those vaccines has gone from ~3041 to 126, a reduction of 95%.

  16. #17 Orac
    May 3, 2007

    JB, JB, JB.

    Really, you’re a naughty boy, but you do confirm my observation about how cranks are obsessed with the identities of their detractors and often try to “out” the ones who use a pseudonym. I will give you credit for being moderately clever about it, using my initials and finding a quote from my university that anyone could Google to identify it. Not bad. Good thing I was sitting at my desk working on a manuscript when you did it, and Gmail Notifier let me know about your comment right away. Otherwise, it might have remained up for several hours rather than a few minutes. Similarly your comment about me working as “someone’s assistant” is rather amusing, given that I am now principal investigator on two grants (an R01 and an award from a private foundation) and co-investigator on a third grant (an R01). Not bad for “someone’s assistant.” But then it all fits into my observation that cranks have a strong need to denigrate the credentials of anyone who challenges them.

    You also seem to be inordinately proud of yourself for buying the oracknows.com domain, but in reality that is a waste of money. Its effect was minimal, and I’ve pretty much dropped the whole “Orac Knows” thing anyway. The blog is Respectful Insolence, and I own a couple of the main domains related to that name. In reality, the clumsiness of your action goaded me into action; so now the domain names that really matter to me belong to me. But feel free to keep wasting your money to renew oracknows.com as long as you like, heck the rest of your life if you want.

    As for the quote from my university that says that the total burden of vaccines needs to be studied, that was a four year old quote, and since then the science continues not to support a relation between either MMR, thimerosal-containing vaccines, or vaccines in general and autism.

    Despite what you say, anyone can browse the archives of the old GR site at Archive.org and see for themselves that it really was all about the mercury in vaccines. Other things were mentioned, but anti-mercury fear-mongering and conspiracy mongering predominated. GR’s site makeover simply demonstrates that it’s finally sinking in even with you, whether you’ll ever publicly admit it or not, that the mercury hypothesis won’t fly. If the evidence weren’t going against you so strongly, GR would never have seen the need to start to broaden its blame.

    As for “environmental factors,” no one is saying that we shouldn’t study environmental factors that might contribute to autism. We’re simply saying that the evidence does not support mercury in vaccines as a significant cause or contributor to autism, nor does the evidence support vaccines themselves as the same.

  17. #18 BradfordH
    May 3, 2007

    Isn’t it a touch juvenile to have a “code-name”?

    Suit yourself, I really don’t care who you are in the real world, you just happen to remind me of some other scientists I have met who do not have an open mind on the autism issue.

    A couple of issues I would have with your statements below, however:

    You state: “We’re simply saying that the evidence does not support mercury in vaccines as a significant cause or contributor to autism.”

    I say:

    – Did you read the NIEHS report I linked for you above?
    – Did you read the statement from the NIEHS committee chairperson about Denmark?
    – Did you know the outcome of the CDC’s analysis of American data was “neutral”?

    I don’t know how you can make the statement above if you have your facts straight, as the much more focused scientists at NIEHS, charged to study this topic, appear to.

    You also state:

    “nor does the evidence support vaccines themselves as the same.”

    I say, with the exception of the MMR vaccine (which of course I would argue all day that Wakefield’s studies are the only one’s to consider as they look in our children’s bodies), no studies exist to allow you to make the statement above. You couldn’t possibly defend your statement!!

    I’m only in this for one reason: to optimize my son’s life. By knowing what actually happened to him, I have a roadmap to get him better. To date, the roadmap of “high body burden of heavy metals and low-grade infections” has served us extremely well in treating my son, and for some reason hundreds of Doctors, many of whom went to more pedigreed medical schools than you, agree with me. Meanwhile, the approximatley six known members of the Neurodiverse crowd have spewed their vile all over your blog above us here, and I’m sure since I’ve chosen to post once again we’ll hear from them and all of their psuedonym friends soon. [By the way, if “cranks have a strong need to denigrate the credentials of anyone who challenges them”, how do you account for the vile spewed above?]

    It’s interesting about kids like my son, kids recovering from autism. And, more importantly, kids who are fully recovered from autism. I think that some of the posters on your site are a lot like the holocaust deniers you rightly detest, but in this case they are “recovered children deniers.” As a physician, I really wish you could meet some of these kids, I think it would really change your perspective.

    As I think you noted somewhere, you’re not really worth the time of we autism parents. You’ve got your own time-consuming blog thing going on, and your not likely to move the needle on getting to the bottom of what happened to all these kids. So, consider me out. I guess I can start calling myself OracKnows.

    BH

  18. #19 Kev
    May 3, 2007

    Well Brad, I’ll take you at your word that this will be your last comment in this thread – under your own name at least eh? ;o) – but I just wanted to offer a few thoughts about what you’ve said here. I’ll be offering my own take on your site realignment shortly at my place. You say:

    “From my perspective, our website and its message have always been broader than “its ONLY mercury” and I got tired about hearing from those of you who had only read the home page, so we changed it.”

    And yet an a TV interview you said:

    “We immediately realised…and I think this is something that is a big surprise to people….um, that autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning.”

    (Emphasis yours)

    So maybe you could you could reconcile those two statements for Orac’s readership…?

    In my opinion Brad – and this is just my opinion – you have been playing so fast and loose with the truth for so long now that you genuinely can’t even keep track of what you’ve said. That’s the trouble with lies Brad. You can’t remember who you lied to or what you said. Maybe some kind of notebook might help? You could note the lies next to the list of domains names you own. That way you can gloat over both.

  19. #20 John Best
    May 3, 2007

    Orac, As long as chelation helps kids improve, the mercury hypotheses continues to gather those facts as more proof. You can argue over this forever but since curing kids is the only important thing here, the logical thing to do would be to refine chelation protocols so the most kids are helped as quickly as possible.

  20. #21 Azkyroth
    May 3, 2007

    In my opinion Brad, you are a despicable charlatan, a contemptible bully, and a jaw-dropping idiot. You are living denial of the naive belief that enemies of reason and human decency can be separated into “fools” and “villains.” Cheating the desperate parents of severely handicapped children out of money selling them false cures that have already taken at least one life and undermined the health of others is beneath contempt. Have you no sense of decency, sir?

    I’m fairly certain my autistic daughter isn’t much impressed with you either.

  21. #22 Orac
    May 3, 2007

    JB,

    I thought you said you weren’t coming back.

    I knew you’d be back, though; cranks like you always come back, even if it’s just to lurk. As for the CDC data and other studies, yes it’s never possible to completely prove a negative. However, there are now enough studies that fail to find a link between mercury and autism that the preponderance of evidence suggests that there is none. Is it possible that in a very small number of children with a special susceptibility mercury may have a role? It’s possible, but highly unlikely. But that wasn’t what your message was. Your message was that it was all or mostly about the mercury. We now have enough evidence to conclusively say that mercury is not a major factor in the genesis of autism. We also have plenty of evidence to suggest that chelation is useless for autism.

    But, then, you know that. You’re not stupid. That’s why GR is broadening its net. You know that the mercury hypothesis is becoming more and more untenable as years go on and more data comes in.

    In any case, you should be happy that I sent a flood of traffic your way. Any publicity is good publicity, right?

  22. #23 notmercury
    May 3, 2007

    JB Handley said: “As a parent of an autistic child, I wish guys like you cared more about understanding what has actually happened to all of our kids. To date, the “mainstream” to which you belong has no plausible explanation, and parents deserve better.”

    Really? Don’t you mean what you think has actually happened to all of our kids. Because, JB, if you are really interested in understanding the causes of autism you would spend some of your time and money on quality research and less on endorsing quacks like Yasko and Buttar.

    With all of the wasted millions that have been thrown away on thimerosal research and litigation, we might actually have a better understanding of autism and some of it’s causes.

    Your son isn’t a BMW you connect to a diagnostic computer so you can “optimize” him to run more efficiently. RNA drops and transdermal chelators are useless potions yet you never miss an opportunity to rave about their efficacy. Do you realize how much money Yasko and Buttar have made by your endorsements? Money that parents might have used to improve the quality of life for their autistic children.

    I can’t decide which is worse. Professional con-artists who prey on parents desperate for a cure or loud mouth parents with little grasp of science who help them to defraud other parents. (insert holocaust analogy here)

    “Since you first started blogging about autism we have way more doctors, way more scientist, and way more parents waging a genuine war to figure out what happened to our kids and how to make them better.”

    Who are they? Let’s have a list. CVs and cites would be helpful too. Maybe a big ad in the NYT along with a thank you is more your style. Go back to your Biscotti.

  23. #24 Cure us of Handley
    May 3, 2007

    Handley is not telling the truth:
    From my perspective, our website and its message have always been broader than “its ONLY mercury” and I got tired about hearing from those of you who had only read the home page, so we changed it.

    Handley, in his own words

    Smile, you’re now immortal.

    I hope people aren’t fooled by Handley’s recent lack of threats and profanity; the man is trying to bring GR into the Autism Speaks fold. I don’t blame him, you have to go where the serious money is.

    Just remember,

    – Handley and Kevin Barry (now of Autism Speaks) are responsible for Best, to the point of fostering the bigotry and the harrassment of autistic adults. This guy has written about having a date (yes, insinuating sex) with an adult autistic and has portrayed her as an animal in pictures on his site. This, ladies and gentlemen is mainstream Generation Rescue. This guy is an “officer” within the organization and represents everything for which they stand. I refuse to link to his blog and I can only hope that he’s deleted the worst of his own bile.

    – GR has waged a PR war on science and scientists that aren’t in the pay of SAFEMINDS, CAN, and their ilk. They have attempted to misrepresent science and some scientists, who aren’t afraid of the typical Handley and mercury militia harrassment, have fought back.

    – These “cured” kids he keeps telling us about simply do not exist. Now for the truth: some kid who gets chelated from ages 2 until 9 might lose a diagnosis. What kind of single-minded, desperate individual would attribute the gains to some homeopathic juice that a science-dropout is selling on a slick website?

  24. #25 Bronze Dog
    May 3, 2007

    Isn’t it a touch juvenile to have a “code-name”?

    In Orac’s case, it’s to counteract the juvenile acts of people like you. Peter Bowditch of ratbags.com had cancer quacks who advertised a “help wanted” for a fictional porno with his phone number as a contact. If you want to give someone a tongue lashing for immaturity, direct it to those who use underhanded tactics.

    I stay anonymous because I’m in Texas, and I could wind up unemployable if someone found out about my atheism. I also have to work with two potential fundies in the adjacent office at the moment.

    Besides, even if it were “juvenile” what does that have to do with the laws of thermodynamics or whatever? The laws of physics do not change because someone uses a pseudonym. The laws of physics do not change based on some guy’s level of maturity.

    Suit yourself, I really don’t care who you are in the real world, you just happen to remind me of some other scientists I have met who do not have an open mind on the autism issue.

    Woos don’t know much about open minds. An open mind thinks about evidence, and what sort it would take to prove itself wrong.

    Double-blind control studies, please.

  25. #26 Sara
    May 3, 2007

    Bradford,

    How do you propose to control for all the other variables between those groups?

    Unvaccinated kids are more likely to have been born to mothers who did not have epidural anesthesia or been induced with pitocin – both of which have come up at one time or another as possible causes for autism. What about maternal use of antidepressants during pregnancy or nursing? I saw a recent article that, while not going so far as to link the two, pointed out the importance of several neurotransmitters in early fetal brain development and that he fetus relies on maternally produced neurotransmitters until it can produce its own.

    I find it interesting that the one “cause” for a *possible* autism epidemic that everyone has latched onto is the one that does not ask women to go through childbirth unmedicated, wait until labor begins, or forgo pregnancy while depressed enough to need medication. IT’s easy, in comparison, to forgo vaccinations, especially when your neighbors’ taking that risk means the herd effect protects you from any risk of your own.

  26. #27 John Best
    May 3, 2007

    Cure us of Handley, Let’s set the record straight here. I’m responsible for myself. I don’t take orders from anyone and I don’t answer to anyone. I write whatever I feel like writing. I am not an officer in GR. I’m just one of a bunch of parents who will discuss biomedical options with other parents.
    I’ve portrayed more than one adult autistic to animals. In fact, I’ve compared the entire cult of Neuroinsanity to animals. My favorite post is the one titled “Pending Psychologist”. It is perfectly representative of everything that Neurodiversity stands for. I encourage you to do something intelligent that can change my opinion of you.
    You are the ones misrepresenting science. By paying attention to the honest science that GR makes available, people learn how to help their children. That’s all that matters.

  27. #28 Cure us of Handley
    May 3, 2007

    You represent GR. You’re listed as a rep on their website. Stew in it, you ignorant bigot. Handley and Barry created your organization and recruited you. Handley has gone on record that he supports your actions.

    You’re scum. Handley is scum. And Barry is scum that is trying to become legitimate. Handley just caught himself in a(nother) lie and there’s nothing you or he can do about it. You both suck. Neither of you know the first thing about the crap you’re sticking into your kids and YOU, Best, have admitted that you NEVER tested your kid for the pretend metal contamination that your pretend medicine is pretend designed to pretend cure.

  28. #29 John Best
    May 3, 2007

    CuoH, What am I bigotted against now, self fellating monkeys?
    I tested my son for any signs of genetic abnormalities. There were none. Since I knew he was autistic before he had his MMR shot, that left mercury as the only possible culprit. Improvement with chelation proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that my assessment was 100% accurate. He continues to improve.
    JB Handley is an honest, respectable parent, not a liar.
    Did you learn your argument technique at Harvard?

  29. #30 Cure us of Handley
    May 3, 2007

    But let’s get real, “I tested my son for any signs of genetic abnormalities.”

    Everything you say after this piece of idiocy is immediately suspect. It doesn’t surprise me that you are trying to clean up Handley’s integrity mess. Hope he gives you a bone.

    Harvard? No, and I wasn’t the towel boy for the Stanford rugby team either.

    Just promise us that you won’t take the frustration out on someone who doesn’t deserve it, Foresam.

  30. #31 Elizabeth
    May 3, 2007

    To follow up to Sara’s comment, there was also a recent study that found greater autism concordance rates in fraternal twins whose mothers had received terbutaline to treat preterm labor than in those who had not. This could be another confounding factor, as parents who refuse vaccinations for their children might be more likely to refuse treatment for preterm labor while pregnant. A simple survey is never going to get at factors like that.

  31. #32 Remove the Curse of Handley
    May 3, 2007

    JB Handley is a fool as anyone can see in his television interview where he says autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning and that in 1 or 2 years at the outside all autistic kids can be cured with TD DMPS (a cure John Best Jr doesn’t believe in and hasn’t used on his son). Handley is a liar and has represented himself as at least two real women (sock puppets of his). A sock puppet is a second personality created to give the appearance that a second someone agrees with the first poster. Ashleigh Anderson does not exist anywhere in the world, she was a figment of Handley’s freaked out brain. Handley gave details on where s/he lived, what s/he did for a living and so forth trying to create a false identity. No one would ever think that “orac” was a real name, and “orac” isn’t presented the bloggers real name.

    Handley is scum and a liar as noted above. He’s juvenile as can be seen from his buying Oracknows.com and directing it to genrationrescue.com. Handley is a fool for buying Buttar’s non-chelating chelator and the yeast juice sold by Amy Yasko sold at extremely high prices. He has helped enslave other parents to believing in Yasko and Buttar, both of whom belong in jail. Maybe Handley could keep them company there for helping to perpetrate their fraud. Oh, and he’s a child abuser for putting his kids through experimentation that they didn’t need. Hey, does Handley have a new baby now? Unvaxed no doubt. Poor little thing.

  32. #33 John Best
    May 3, 2007

    CuoH, You folks like to claim that autism is all genetic, no mercury needed to cause it. It would seem that your philosophy would want to know which genetic cause it might be. So, how can it be idiocy to test for something you claim exists?
    You can’t deny that my child has improved so you resort to suggesting I’m a liar. Very original.
    Mr Handley has no integrity mess. Just because he has an open mind and recognizes that other factors can play a role in autism is not a lack of integrity. I claim all autism is all mercury poisoning for the sake of simplicity when arguing with you folks. I think it’s responsible for the majority of autism but I never ruled out MMR or other factors that might not have as much proof as mercury does.
    DMPS is a good chelator. I happened to use DMSA. Now I only use ALA. That’s not disagreement, it’s a choice, like Camels or Winstons.
    I thought buying Oracknows was pretty funny. You need a sense of humor.

  33. #34 Asplomat
    May 3, 2007

    “I thought buying Oracknows was pretty funny. You need a sense of humor.”

    As a defense in the name of an individual referring to the use of nom de plumes as ‘juvenile’, your argument is kind of weak. It IS kind of funny, only in the sense that you and your kind try to stifle dissent to your hypothesis that mercury causes autism, when the neurodiversity community seems more than open to causation vectors backed by quality peer-reviewed scientific evidence.

    “You can’t deny that my child has improved so you resort to suggesting I’m a liar.”

    I’d suggest that you may have a serious confirmation bias. Not that you lie about your child’s improvement.

    “I claim all autism is all mercury poisoning for the sake of simplicity when arguing with you folks. I think it’s responsible for the majority of autism but I never ruled out MMR or other factors that might not have as much proof as mercury does.”

    Keep backpedaling. It’s as tragically amusing to watch as the Bush administration’s scrambling for valid reasons to justify the Iraqi invasion.

  34. #35 Robster, FCD
    May 3, 2007

    I tested my son for any signs of genetic abnormalities.

    What falls under that umbrella? What was tested for? Who did the testing? What methods? Very curious.

  35. #36 Bronze Dog
    May 3, 2007

    You can’t deny that my child has improved so you resort to suggesting I’m a liar.

    I call waffling. First he berates us for citing natural improvement as an explanation, claiming that we can’t possibly believe in natural improvement because a bunch of unspecified and probably fictional doctors deny the existence of natural improvement and now he berates us for allegedly claiming he’s lying about his kids improvement. Even though I’ve pointed out a lack of improvement would actually refute my position. If your kid didn’t improve, I couldn’t very well claim natural improvement is the most likely thing going on.

    Your kid’s improvement is one of the few things I trust your honesty on. I just vehemently disagree with your sloppy attribution of the cause of that improvement I take for granted. I think by now, just about everything else you say is probably a lie. You transparently lie about our position. You also make up unspecified and probably fictional doctors who claim improvement is impossible.

    So, which direction will you waffle tomorrow, JB?

  36. #37 Bronze Dog
    May 3, 2007

    Grammatical clarification: I’m taking the improvement for granted, not the cause of the improvement. Just emphasizing that I believe, without equivocation, that JB is telling the truth on the claim that his kid improved.

    The issue is the cause of that improvement, an no amount of spinning and outright lying will let him escape the discussion of that issue. No one’s falling for it, JB.

  37. #38 John Best
    May 4, 2007

    Robster, The testing was done by a mainstream, neurologist prick who insists that mercury plays no role in autism and who bolted from the room like a scared little weasel when I began to shove his words down his throat. In other words, by a jerk like you folks who would have loved to show me some genetic answer.

  38. #39 John Best
    May 4, 2007

    Bronze Dog, Eight years with zero progression. Started chelation and gained progression. If people like you weren’t getting in the way of insurance being forced to pay for chelation, I would have started chelation 3 years sooner and Sam would’ve had a better chance to recover.

  39. #40 The family don't deserve it
    May 4, 2007

    Best, just don’t take it out on the family. Please. I’m being serious. You have problems, man.

  40. #41 Bronze Dog
    May 4, 2007

    Bronze Dog, Eight years with zero progression. Started chelation and gained progression. If people like you weren’t getting in the way of insurance being forced to pay for chelation, I would have started chelation 3 years sooner and Sam would’ve had a better chance to recover.

    On that particular bit, I’m leaning towards doubting your memory. I think you’ve convinced yourself about how horrible autism supposedly is, you may have unconsciously rewritten your memory and ignored improvements that did occur. Everyone does that sort of thing on the small scale all the time.

    Of course, confounding possibilities like that are the key reason anecdotes are worthless, except as tools to show people that anecdotes are worthless.

    If anyone’s to blame for chelation’s lack of evidence, it’s the chelationists’ refusal to perform double-blind tests and such. They all seem to act like you: Rely on uncontrolled, unverifiable anecdotes. Please leave that sort of reckless behavior up to homeopaths and chakra-balancers.

    Of course, I suppose one thing that could be holding things up is that they can’t seem to be consistent about how chelation magically undoes mercury poisoning. If I were in an ERB or whatever, I think I’d be hesitant to authorize an experiment with an ever-shifting hypothesis.

    Kind of thinking out loud. Never know which direction JB’s going to flop, so it’s hard to cover everything he says.

  41. #42 Bronze Dog
    May 4, 2007

    The key thing to remember about human memory: It’s highly subject to bias, and I think we can all agree that there’s a lot of bias going on.

    Scientific studies are designed to eliminate bias. Once you acknowledge you have a bias (which I do), the sooner you can set up barriers against it. Like double-blind placebo trials.

  42. #43 John Best
    May 4, 2007

    Bronze Dog, Why should we bother with any studies on chelation when mainstream medicine has been using it for over 60 years? Do you remember Orac telling us that it was the proper treatment for mercury poisoning? Although he claimed it wouldn’t help autism, I, and thousands of other parents, proved him wrong. I know your job with quackbusters is to obfuscate the truth in any way possible so I’ll expect another desperate denial. But, you can’t win so you might as well give up.

  43. #44 rrt
    May 4, 2007

    John Best, why should we bother with any studies on leeching when mainstream medicine has been using it for over 300 years? Do you remember Orac telling us that it was the proper treatment for vascular complications of limb reattachment? Although he claimed it wouldn’t help autism, I, and thousands of other parents, proved him wrong in separate, individual, uncontrolled, unreported, unrecorded, sample-size-of-one studies. I know your job with GR is to obfuscate the truth in any way possible, so I’ll expect another denial. But you can’t win, so you might as well give up.

    Leaving sarcasm aside, if you want to make headway with the likes of us, sir, you need to use science. Give us rigorous studies such as Bronze Dog suggests, and you’ll get our attention. Otherwise, you’re wasting both our and your time.

  44. #45 John Best
    May 4, 2007

    RRT, Still don’t need any studies. We know babies got a lot more mercury than is thought to be safe. We figured out that mercury poisoning and autism were the same thing thanks to Sallie Bernard et al.. Thanks to Orac, we know the treatment for mercury poisoning is chelation. If you were honest, you would conclude that chelation is warranted. Anything else is illogical. But, thanks for trying to deny it. I’m not trying to make any headway with you. I’m just here to add some truth to this place.

  45. #46 Bronze Dog
    May 4, 2007

    I find it incredibly funny that accusations of obfuscation are coming from you, of all people, JB.

    By your demented “common sense,” where humans have god-like, infallible perceptions and never misattribute a cause, it would mean that homeopathy, crystal healing, witchcraft, snake oil, acupuncture, chakra binding, reiki energy massage, Kirlian photography, psychic surgery, mercuric chloride, radium, indigestible wheatgrass, sound woo, takionic water, and so on and so forth are all effective against everything. They use the exact same methods you do.

    Put aside your massive ego and admit that you’re a fallible, biased, squishy being like all of us. Once you put aside your illusions of deification, you’ll understand the need to eliminate bias with carefully controlled studies.

    Instead, you pretend that you’re utterly immune to bias, and that we should all worship your uncorruptable omniscience.

    Admit that you’re biased.

    I admit I’m biased.

    That’s why I insist on going through processes designed for the exact purpose of eliminating bias in the results.

  46. #47 John Best
    May 4, 2007

    Bronze Dog, Thank you for calling my common sense demented and all the other junk about Godlike, witchcraft, etc.. It just shows you have to use smoke and mirrors to try to deny something that it incredibly obvious and simple.
    You’re really stretching, claiming studies are needed to understand that poison screws up brains. It’s got nothing to do with ego or bias or celebrating the joy of brain damage misnamed autism. Just as any nitwit knows not to drink gasoline, anyone knows that injecting more mercury than is known to be safe into a baby is insane. You and your “scientists” have put all sorts of effort into convincing the world that it’s not insane. The world isn’t that stupid. Give it up.

  47. #48 daedalus2u
    May 4, 2007

    So John, how much mercury is “known to be safe” as you say? I would appreciate a link to the source of that “knowledge”.

  48. #49 John Best
    May 4, 2007
  49. #50 daedalus2u
    May 4, 2007

    Wow John, citing the CDC for toxic effects of mercury? But when the CDC is asked:
    “5. I’ve heard that children may be getting toxic levels of mercury from vaccines. Is that true?” their reply is:
    “No. There is no evidence of harm caused by the minute doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor effects like swelling and redness at the injection site due to sensitivity to thimerosal.

    Most importantly, since 1999, newly formulated thimerosal preservative-free vaccines have been licensed. With the newly formulated vaccines, the maximum cumulative exposure during the first six months of life will now be less than three micrograms of mercury. No children are receiving toxic levels of mercury from vaccines.”

    They also say:
    “A recent study sponsored by the NIAID and conducted at the University of Rochester assessed mercury levels in 40 infants who received vaccines containing thimerosal and 21 infants who received thimerosal-free vaccines. The scientists measured the level of mercury in the infants’ blood, urine and stool up to 28 days after vaccination. They found that 1) infants who were given vaccines with thimerosal had levels of mercury well below the safe level of 29 nmol/L (this level is set ten times lower than the level at which mercury begins to cause neurological problems) and 2) the body seems to be able to get rid of thimerosal (ethyl mercury) via the gastrointestinal tract (stools) much quicker than it gets rid of methyl mercury. ”

    So John, if you are using the CDC for mercury toxicity information, why do you persist in your delusion that it is being injected at unsafe levels and that it causes autism?

  50. #51 Lucas McCarty
    May 4, 2007

    What I found regarding Mercury said that a “significant safety margin” was incorporated into the set lines. So when you speak of more Mercury than what is safe, you don’t actually know what safe is. You just take the line drawn which is agreed to be a significant safety margin and assume that anything beyond that is unsafe.

    I couldn’t find anything saying what was considered unsafe and I doubt we will ever know because such a study would have big ethical problems. What we do know is that the amounts contained in vaccines is not only safe, but hovers around a *significant safety margin*. For all we know, you could give someone hundreds and thousands of times more Mercury than what is contained in 50 vaccines and they could still be within that safe margin. Did you actually bother to check how big that margin is?

  51. #52 Bronze Dog
    May 4, 2007

    I wonder if JB thinks that homeopathic mercury is deadly. You know, diluting it down so that there’d only be one particle in a solar-system sized ball of water.

    I also suppose he thinks drinking from a fire hose is safe because water is safe.

    You never know with him, though. Concepts like “more” and “less” tend to be lost on digital-minded people.

    Wonder if that qualifies as further evidence that JB’s a key word search bot.

  52. #53 matt
    May 4, 2007

    > “Since you first started blogging about autism
    > we have way more doctors, way more scientist,
    > and way more parents waging a genuine war to
    > figure out what happened to our kids and how
    > to make them better.”

    “Who are they? Let’s have a list. CVs and cites would be helpful too. Maybe a big ad in the NYT along with a thank you is more your style. Go back to your Biscotti.”

    For what it is worth, I went through the list of DAN! types for California once–checking the doctor’s licenses. A good fraction were from UCSF and UCD–good schools.

    There was one guy who was unable to work in Washington state anymore because of fraud, and another who was not allowed to be alone in a room with young boys. But, that is only about 10% of the group.

    Then there are the nurses and the D.O.’s who can’t really be checked to the same level.

    Matt

  53. #54 Calli Arcale
    May 4, 2007

    John Best sez:
    “RRT, Still don’t need any studies . . . I’m just here to add some truth to this place.”

    You do not wish to scientifically study autism, yet you believe you are the one bringing truth to the discussion? How can you know whether you are right unless you investigate it? Are you afraid a serious scientific study would prove you wrong? Obviously not, because you are very certain about your opinion of the causes and treatments of autism. So why worry? Let the studies occur. Then you will have the ammunition to convince others.

    You know the evidence of your eyes. We do not have your eyes; we have not seen what you have seen. We have, however, seen plenty of charlatans. No offense is meant, but we do not know how reliable your eyes are (so to speak). So that cannot convince us, just as you’d have no reason to believe me if I said that I’d successfully treated my asthma by taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or something silly like that. You’d want more data before you’d believe me, and well you should.

    So if you *really* are posting in the interests of truth and open-mindedness (rather than in mere dogma), why would you be averse to the one thing that could actually help you convince the world?

  54. #55 Robster, FCD
    May 5, 2007

    JB: I tested my son for any signs of genetic abnormalities.

    Robster: What falls under that umbrella? What was tested for? Who did the testing? What methods? Very curious.

    JB: The testing was done by a mainstream, neurologist prick who insists that mercury plays no role in autism and who bolted from the room like a scared little weasel when I began to shove his words down his throat. In other words, by a jerk like you folks who would have loved to show me some genetic answer.

    So you became abusive? Why am I not surprised?

    What genes were checked? Either you know or you don’t.

    When were the tests done? That makes a difference as to what genes were suspect. Other genes may be involved that we haven’t linked to ASD yet. Those certainly weren’t checked.

    These are the kind of details that would be useful to evaluate your claim.

    But I guess not taking you at your word, and having a preference for evidence based medicine, makes me a jerk.

  55. #56 Joe
    May 5, 2007

    Robster, what does FCD stand for?

  56. #57 rrt
    May 5, 2007

    Joe: Friend of Charles Darwin.

    Calli: I think you’re missing the point. Mr. Best has directly rejected the scientific method here, nevermind how clearly his behavior has shown his contempt for it. He knows mercury is horrible poison in whatever amount and form he wants it to be, and that’s that. I imagine the only thing proper scientific studies would do for him is offer the shadowy Pharma conspiracy an opportunity to fudge the data in favor of thimerosal’s safety.

  57. #58 Robster, FCD
    May 6, 2007

    Hey Joe,
    Here is the FCD website

  58. #59 Joe
    May 6, 2007

    Robster, thanks for the link- I joined.

  59. #60 Prometheus
    May 6, 2007

    One small point:

    If a child failed to make any developmental progress for eight years, that would pretty much confirm that they didn’t have autism. Despite all the attempts to claim that autistic children don’t develop, it just isn’t so.

    As I (and others) have repeatedly said, autism is a syndrome of developmental delay, not developmental arrest. There are conditions which completely arrest development, but autism isn’t one of them.

    I am also amused by the assertion that, having “eliminated” genetic causes for autism (I assume that he meant fragile X, purine autism, tuberous sclerosis and Rett’s syndrome) and having had onset of autism before the MMR vaccination, that the only remaining cause was mercury. How can he be so sure that there might not be other explanations?

    This level of confidence (some might say arrogance) is doubly amazing, given how many of the chelationistas are now frantically trying to redact their previous emphatic claims that mercury is (was?) the only cause (or a majority cause) of autism.

    Some good advice from history: “Never be the first to take up the new nor the last to give up the old.”

    Prometheus

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