Respectful Insolence

The Autism Omnibus is now officially under way, having begun with the first test case, that of Cedillo v. Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Omnibus proceeding is the culmination of the legal cases brought to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program by nearly 5,000 families who “feel” that their children’s autism was in fact caused by vaccines. Most, but not all, of the plaintiffs blame the mercury in the thimerosal in childhood vaccines, despite there being no good evidence to support such a link, so much so that both David Kirby, whose book Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and The Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy popularized the bogus “science” of the alleged mercury-autism connection is backpedaling furiously, to the point of ploys as ridiculous as blaming mercury from crematoria in California, forest fires, and pollution from China. Meanwhile, even the most diehard of the mercury militia, a man who used to say routinely that autism is a “misdiagnosis” for mercury poisoning, our old “friend” J. B. Handley, is racing Kirby away from the thimerosal hypothesis, now obfuscating his former clarity of vision with fuzzy combinations of heavy metals, live viruses, antibiotics, and “toxic loads” as “causes” of autism. In essence, the mercury militia, realizing that it’s backed a scientific loser, is quickly shifting the goalposts in order to make their ideas about the environmental “causes” of autism into conveniently unfalsifiable hypotheses.

Unfortunately, thanks to the low bar of evidence required in the Autism Omnibus hearings, the mercury hypothesis may not be a legal loser. I don’t plan on blogging the trial every day, but I do think it’s worth discussing the first day’s festivities, because I think they give a crucial indication of what the tactics of the plaintiffs will be. Not surprisingly, when the science supporting their case is weak to nonexistent, the plaintiffs’ attorneys have decided to go for the heartstrings:

Theresa Cedillo said her daughter suffered five days of fever, her temperature often spiking to 105 degrees, after receiving a measles, mumps and rubella vaccination at age 15 months. Michelle was a happy, robust, responsive and loving child — in short, normal — but hasn’t been the same since, her mother told the court.

Wearing noise-canceling headphones, Michelle was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair at the start of the proceedings. She stayed only a short time, moaning audibly several times. Besides autism, Michelle suffers from inflammatory bowel disease, glaucoma and epilepsy. In addition, her bones, weakened by years of malnourishment, are prone to breaks, Theresa Cedillo said. Everything she eats is pumped in through a feeding tube, except for crackers and water.

Only the most cold-hearted would fail to agree with Special Master George Hastings, Jr., one of the three Special Masters who will preside over the hearings, when he characterized Michelle’s case as “tragic.” Certainly, the Cedillos have a challenge far greater than that of the vast majority of parents face when raising a child. However, just because they have come to believe that vaccines are somehow responsible for their child’s plight and just because we feel sorry for them do not constitute a reason to conclude that vaccines did, in fact, cause Michelle’s plight. We can feel sympathy for Michelle and admiration for their determination to take care of her, but that does not mean that we have to accept their pseudoscientific explanation for how their daughter got the way she is. In my mind, perhaps the most sadly ironic thing about the whole vaccine/autism hysteria is that it’s a huge distraction away from real research elucidating the pathophysiology of autism that might be of value in helping children like Michelle. It’s also an enormous distraction away from putting effort and resources into services that might assist families like the Cedillos deal with the day-to-day struggles of taking care of their daughter.

What caught my interest most about this first test case, though, was that the Cedillos seem to be using an argument that I’ve never heard before, in essence, combining the two most common rationales that antivaxers use to try to blame vaccines for autism:

Theresa Cedillo and husband Michael allege thimerosal-containing vaccines weakened their daughter’s immune system and prevented her body from clearing the measles virus after she was immunized. That theory is one of three alleged by the thousands of plaintiffs. The others claim either thimerosal or the measles vaccine alone caused their children’s autism.

Traditionally, there have been two main schools of antivax thought in blaming vaccines for autism. The first was “pioneered” (if you can call it that) by Andrew Wakefield, who in 1998 published a paper in The Lancet claiming that the MMR vaccine, which contains live attenuated measles virus, somehow caused a form of inflammatory bowel disease as well as regressive autism. Unfortunately for this concept, no other researcher has been able to confirm such a link, and in fact, when the distortions, inconsistencies, and omissions in the paper were pointed out, the majority of the authors of Wakefield’s article later disavowed it. More recently, Wakefield was found to have been paid by lawyers seeking to sue for “injury” due to the MMR vaccine and has been charged with unprofessional conduct in the matter. As a result, vaccination rates in the U.K. plummeted, and measles made a frightening return, with the decline in vaccination rates caused by the furor only recently starting to recover.

It should be noted that the MMR vaccine does not contain, nor has it ever contained, thimerosal. However, the idea that mercury in vaccines due to the thimerosal preservative started to become a concern in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as the number of vaccines in the childhood vaccine schedule increased. Confusing correlation with causation, some noted the increase in autism diagnoses that occurred during the 1990s, correlated it to the increase in the number of childhood vaccines, specifically the thimerosal in the vaccines, and–voilĂ !–a myth was born, complete with a myth of a cabal of scientists, big pharma, and the CDC meeting in an “isolated” complex to “suppress” this link, a myth stoked by David Kirby’s book and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s scaremongering and dishonest article in Salon.com and Rolling Stone two years ago. It’s a movement complete with its own talking points about an “autism epidemic,” such as asking, “Where are all the autistic adults, if autism has been around so long?” Never mind that they are among us and always have been. Although not totally implausible based on the evidence several years ago, the hypothesis was never particularly plausible scientifically. Despite its relative implausibility, however, investigators have done several studies looking for a link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism, and In the interim time and science have not been at all kind to the hypothesis. Indeed, as of today, several large epidemiological studies have failed to find a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, the most recent being a large Canadian study. Despite thimerosal having been removed from vaccines in the U.S. in 2002, autism diagnoses continue to increase. As Dr. Paul Offit put it:

Certainly there is plenty of evidence to refute the notion that vaccines cause autism. Fourteen epidemiological studies have shown that the risk of autism is the same whether children received the MMR vaccine or not, and five have shown that thimerosal-containing vaccines also do not cause autism. Further, although large quantities of mercury are clearly toxic to the brain, autism isn’t a consequence of mercury poisoning; large, single-source mercury exposures in Minamata Bay and Iraq have caused seizures, mental retardation, and speech delay, but not autism.

Finally, vaccine makers removed thimerosal from vaccines routinely given to young infants about six years ago; if thimerosal were a cause, the incidence of autism should have declined. Instead, the numbers have continued to increase. All of this evidence should have caused a quick dismissal of these cases. But it didn’t, and now the court has turned into a circus. The federal and civil litigation will likely take years to sort out.

A “circus” is an apt description of the Autism Omnibus proceedings. Even so, it is necessary to ask: Is there any evidence to support the Cedillo’s contention? To hear Arthur Allen report on the trial, this is the best that the Cedillo’s attorneys can apparently come up with so far:

This is a novel, untested theory–the Cedillos’ first expert witness, Dr. H. Vasken Aposhian, said on the stand that he had elaborated it “about three or four weeks ago based on journal articles from other scientists.

Aposhian, an elderly, hard-of-hearing toxicologist with a halo of white hair surrounding his large bald pate, testified that the form of autism Michelle is suffering from is a “mercury efflux disorder.” She has a genetic susceptibility that makes her unable to get rid of toxic metals from her system. Their damage results in autism and all the other symptoms of illness she’s suffering, he said.

On cross examination, Aposhian acknowledged there was no record of any child becoming autistic as a result of mercury exposures prior to the thimerosal theory–despite the millions of tons of the stuff that we supposedly breath in from dental amalgams and factory fumes and consume in contaminated fish.

Aposhian also disputed the timeless toxicological truism that the dose is the poison. The poison, he testified, is based on the dose but also on the genetic susceptibility of the patient and the age in their development–in the case of a fetus or child. So, although all documented cases of mercury poisoning involve doses hundreds or thousands of times larger than the thimerosal given to children in vaccines, Aposhian argued, you couldn’t say that the dose in vaccines was harmless.

Quite frankly, I can’t say anything other than that this is about as lame as it gets when it comes to “expert” testimony, the frantic attempts of advocates to spin it as anything other than disastrous notwithstanding. There’s no biological or epidemiological evidence presented to support Dr. Aposhian’s “ideas”; they seem like something that he just pulled out of his–well, you know what I think he pulled them out of. Indeed, after only one day, this trial is starting to remind me of the Kitzmiller Trial, where the luminaries of the “intelligent design” creationism movement, one after the other, embarrassed themselves on the stand, most amusingly during the infamous exchange in which Michael Behe was forced by the defense attorneys to admit that his overbroad definition of a scientific theory would encompass astrology.

The problem is that scientific and epidemiological evidence ultimately may not matter in this case. As Steve Novella points out, there is history to support a pessimistic viewpoint regarding the ultimate outcome of the Autism Omnibus, specifically the case of silicone breast implants and their alleged link to autoimmune disorders and cancer. Based on poor quality studies purporting to show a correlation between these implants and a wide variety of autoimmune diseases, hordes of activists waged legal war against Dow Corning, in essence suing it into bankruptcy. More recent studies fail to find a link between silicone implants and autoimmune disease. Certainly, there are risks of local complications, such as implant rupture and capsular contracture, but the risk of connective tissue disorders and autoimmune disease is not elevated in women with silicone implants.

If you think the same thing that happened with silicone breast implants can’t happen with vaccines, think again. If women who got silicone implants and happened to develop connective tissue disorders evoked a lot of sympathy from juries, imagine how parents of children like Michelle Cedillo will appear. As we can see just from day one of the trial, even the Special Masters aren’t immune to the “heartstring” ploy, and we can expect considerably more tugging of the heartstrings as the test cases are presented. The difference is that, unlike the case of silicone implants, where pseudoscience merely had the effect of eliminating a medical device used mainly for cosmetic purposes (although, as a breast cancer surgeon, I have to point out that the loss of these implants eliminated a reconstruction option for patients with breast cancer), if the plaintiffs in the Autism Omnibus succeed, the results will be far more grave than just one large company going bankrupt and the banning of a breast implant.

If the plaintiffs prevail in the test cases of the Autism Omnibus, it will open the floodgates to a tsunami (yes, I chose that word intentionally) of lawsuits against the VICP that will bankrupt the system. Moreover, from what I understand, the courts are still available to litigants if the VICP rules against them; the system merely requires that litigants go through the VICP first. Over the last few decades, thanks to liability concerns and declining profitability of their vaccine business, more and more pharmaceutical companies have stopped manufacturing vaccines. Should the Autism Omnibus result in a ruling against vaccines, not only would it give the whole “mercury-causes-autism” fearmongering an undeserved patina of legal respectability, but the few companies who continue to manufacture vaccines would likely come under serious pressure on strictly business grounds to remove a major source of potential liability and simply drop out of the vaccine business. This would be a result that would make the consequences of the victory of pseudoscience in the 1990s on the silicone implant issue pale in comparison. If pseudoscience triumphs over science with regard to vaccines, the single public health intervention that has saved more lives than any other medical intervention will be in danger in this, allegedly the most scientifically advanced nation on earth.

More on the Omnibus:

Comments

  1. #1 Justin Moretti
    June 12, 2007

    It occurs to me that one of the most important battles might have been won. Given that the mercury militia has already done some serious backpedalling, defence lawyers might have something to get their teeth into vis a vis the inconsistency of their stand. By diluting the purity of their argument, they’ve already opened up a vulnerability.

    I would think that a really good defence lawyer, who’s well briefed on – and understands – the science of what’s going on here, would know how to ask questions that would tie these idiots in knots. By the time they’re done, there might not be much of a link between the vaccine poor little Michelle had and the state she’s in now. At least not in the minds of those who must make the decision.

  2. #2 Infophile
    June 12, 2007

    I know it’s lowering us to their level, but what’s to say the defense attorneys couldn’t also pull the heartstrings of the jury by presenting severely autistic children who didn’t get vaccinated (or didn’t have vaccines that included thimerosol)? It would evoke an emotional response, and it would point out that autism occurs independantly of thimerosol-containing vaccines.

    But honestly, I doubt they’ll do that. They have the facts on their side, so they’ll likely decide they don’t need to resort to emotional ploys. And that chain of logic just might do them in.

  3. #3 Vlad
    June 12, 2007

    Ok, so they show “evidence” that vaccines cause Autism. The family gets lots of money to care for the children, the “evil” pharam companies stop making vaccines. So who’s gone give money to all the families injured by the lack of vaccines? What if polio (about as scary as it gets) makes a come back. Who will pay for all the permanently disabled children? The use of heartstrings is a sad tactic especially in this case. If the child had received the proper therapy then she would not be wheelchair bound. The food preference issue (which if I’m reading the description correctly is the cause for the physical disability) can be combated either by therapy or medical intervention. In my opinion the parents were negligent in their care of the child. They chose to blame big pharma and shut their ears to all other solutions or explanations.
    Before anyone makes the basic attack against me on the “How dare you criticize the parents?” I’ll answer. I do so for the simple fact that they could have done something to prevent the nutritional deficiency and chose (through ignorance at least) not to. Raising a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not easy I’ve seen it done more then once without any of the sever complications shown here. I’ve seen it done with the most severe cases which had additional complications of MR and a host of co-morbid medical issues.

  4. #4 sailor
    June 12, 2007

    “I know it’s lowering us to their level, but what’s to say the defense attorneys couldn’t also pull the heartstrings of the jury by presenting severely autistic children who didn’t get vaccinated (or didn’t have vaccines that included thimerosol)? It would evoke an emotional response, and it would point out that autism occurs independantly of thimerosol-containing vaccines.”
    I was thinking the same thing. If you have a jury, they are going to look at the kids and think “something must have been to blame” Presenting an equall kid where it was not to blame would be a strong emotional argument.

  5. #5 Gadgeezer
    June 12, 2007

    Shameless emotional manipulation was my kneejerk to reading about the introduction of Michelle into the courtroom. I was then overwhelmed by a feeling of tastelessness and guilt for even thinking that – so, job done then.

    The following is quoted from a book on children’s health by the UK’s self-proclaimed leading nutritionist.

    So, although it is not easy to say yea or nay conclusively, it is entirely possible that late onset autism may be triggered by multiple vaccination, allergies, toxic overload or nutritional deficiencies – and especially a combination of any of these that send a child’s gut and brain into distress.

    Post even found a Rimland quotation:

    When the link between the use of unsafe, mercury-laden vaccine and autism, ADHD, asthma, allergies and diabetes becomes undeniable, mainstream medicine will be sporting a huge, self-inflicted and well-deserved black eye.

    Then will come the billion-dollar awards, by enraged juries, to the children and their families. I can’t wait.

    So, it seems like the switch to the weakened immune system, damaged gut, brain etc. has been around for a while.

  6. #6 Gadgeezer
    June 12, 2007

    Oh bother – 2nd part of that Rimland quotation came out of the blockquote – the crack about the awards belongs to Rimland. Thus:

    When the link between the use of unsafe, mercury-laden vaccine and autism, ADHD, asthma, allergies and diabetes becomes undeniable, mainstream medicine will be sporting a huge, self-inflicted and well-deserved black eye.

    Then will come the billion-dollar awards, by enraged juries, to the children and their families. I can’t wait.

    Apologies.

  7. #7 chris
    June 12, 2007

    By diluting the purity of their argument, they’ve already opened up a vulnerability.

    Be careful…I read somewhere that efficacy is increased as purity is diluted. I know it seems paradoxical, but you never know.

  8. #8 Coin
    June 12, 2007

    It’s kind of interesting to me to compare advance expectations here to those of the Dover trial. Everyone seems to have gone into the Dover trial optimistic and expecting that the courts would there be an engine for uncovering truth and separating creationist spin from scientific objectivity. But here the approach from science advocates is all gloom and doom, as if it’s basically a foregone conclusion that in this court emotion will be able to trump objective scientific evidence no matter what the evidence says.

    Why the disjoint? Is it because of the differing standards of evidence in personal injury suits?

    Also, has anyone else noticed that news articles on this subject are overwhelmingly, unashamedly pro-litigant? The “there is no scientific link between autism and mercury” fact, which in science-community writeups of this case is generally the focus of the article, is in all the normal media writeups of this case I’ve seen just something that comes in paragraph eight or nine, a little one sentence toss-off presented as if it’s mere trivia to the case (and, of course, immediately followed by “but victims’ families disagree”).

  9. #9 Infophile
    June 12, 2007

    Why the disjoint? Is it because of the differing standards of evidence in personal injury suits?

    My guess is that in this case, it comes down to the fact that the litigants can make these appeals to emotion and heartstring tugs we’re talking about here. With Creationism, it’s hard to present a sorry case of a kid who supposedly got crippling diseases because he was taught evolution in schools. Here they can, and they can use these sad sights to sway the jury. What we’re afraid of here is that the jurors won’t end up deciding this case based on the evidence, but based on emotions.

  10. #10 Loss-of-simple-joy
    June 12, 2007

    You obviously do not have a child with autism – if you were to see the dramatic changes in my daughter after she received the vaccines you would see why thousands of parents feel this is the cause of autism.

    It is very likely that these children are predisposed to having an adverse reaction to these mercury preserved drugs. Never the less these vaccines are part of the problem. Our government and the CDC have turned their backs on us. You need to do some real research, and not spout off on a topic you have no knowledge of. The almighty Drug Companies have tried to bury the problem. Wake up.

  11. #11 notmercury
    June 12, 2007

    LoSJ:“It is very likely that these children are predisposed to having an adverse reaction to these mercury preserved drugs.”

    I’m sorry but it’s not very likely at all. There is nothing to suggest such a predisposition and autism rates haven’t declined since thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines many years ago.

    It’s not obvious but I’m the father of two autistic children and that burning smell is my tax dollars.

  12. #12 Uncle Dave
    June 12, 2007

    I recall the book “A Civil Action”, later made into a movie about the Beatrice foods class action case (high incidence of Lukemia and cancer in general within a community found near a large hasardous materials dumsite). In that class action case (as I recall), the judge did not allow the testimony of litigants with terminal cancer. Regardless of the material evidence, it is an overpowering decision for one side or the other when Judges allow supposed victims to testify or be called during a case that should be confined to a scientific inquiry. That being said, it’s really all about finding deep pockets and there is no better bad guy and deeper pocket than large corporations – they have no victims to counter testify on thier behalf (just lots of money). Court has nothing to do with root cause analysis but rather once a plaintiff and defendant have been identified, finding which side makes the better case to a group of disinterested jurors.

  13. #13 Sailor
    June 12, 2007

    “You obviously do not have a child with autism – if you were to see the dramatic changes in my daughter after she received the vaccines you would see why thousands of parents feel this is the cause of autism.”

    Loss-of-simple-joy, Our brains appear to be hard-wired to jump to conclusions. You give a vaccine, you see something happen, it seems obvious it is the cause. This “quick and dirty” modelling we do works well enough much of the time, but from time to time it can be very misleading. Obvious examples – people who are sure they have been cured by some kind of woo medicine, and people who think they are telepathic.
    Science has been very effective at sorting reality from guesswork in this kind of case and the evidence seems rather strong at this point that the connection that seems so obvious to you, is much more likely to be coincidence.
    I would like to wish you courage, perseverence and hopefully joy binging up your child.

  14. #14 isles
    June 12, 2007

    I think it’s hugely noteworthy that the infamous Mark Geier is not on the petitioners’ list of planned expert witnesses. Not Boyd Haley or Martha Herbert, either. They seem to have rustled up a crop of less embarrassing experts.

    I also think it’s a mistake to say that if you have the facts, you don’t need to present a compelling story. The human brain can’t help finding a human story engaging, and if the government’s attorneys don’t make use of that, they’re not rendering the most zealous possible advocacy on behalf of the American public.

  15. #15 Diora
    June 12, 2007

    “if you were to see the dramatic changes in my daughter after she received the vaccines you would see why thousands of parents feel this is the cause of autism”
    Much like the dramatic decrease in the number of pirates coincided with increase in global warming.

  16. #16 HCN
    June 12, 2007

    “if you were to see the dramatic changes in my daughter after she received the vaccines you would see why thousands of parents feel this is the cause of autism”

    Key word: “feel”

    The real scientific evidence is lacking though. There are papers published in journals like “Medical Hypothesis”… but one should look up what the word “hypothesis” means. Plus there are some studies that were bought and paid for by personal injury lawyers (Wakefield), and by folks who make their living being paid by personal injury lawyers as professional witnesses even though they have no real expertise in pediatrics nor neurology (Geiers).

  17. #17 Chris Ingagiola
    June 12, 2007

    The real scientific evidence is not lacking – Reading this blog convinces me how many idiots & sheep there are in the world today. Unfortunately Autism has become a dumping ground for children who are slow learners. Everyone including the doctors are jumping on this band wagon. It is a shame because children who truly have autism are being lost in this new wave of B.S. This is no different than A.D.D. 90% of those kids need a caring parent not drugs. I was once told that A.D.D. doesn’t existence in the Asian-American community. The parents won’t put up with it.

    Anyway – all you idiots out there that seem to think that the mercury preservatives in vaccines are not responsible for the bulk of the autism cases in children 10 to 15 years old don’t have a clue. Kids don’t become autistic over night without a cause.

  18. #18 HCN
    June 12, 2007

    Chris Ingagiola wrote: “The real scientific evidence is not lacking ”

    Okay, so would you please list some?

  19. #19 Uncle Dave
    June 12, 2007

    Hmmm? Idiots and sheep?
    Chris your absolutely right. Kids do not become autistic overnight. The problem for many parents based on my wifes 25+ years as a special education professional is that autism is usually not recognized prior to age two. This is also compounded by less than well trained staff at many schools. My wife has had the rath of many parents who would say “my child was fine, the pre-school said they were just speech delayed. Now my child is in your 1st grade class and you say they display autistic traits (perseverating, stemming etc.).”
    There are many factors involved with understanding early childhood development and recognizable signs of autism. There is much more here that we do not fully understand like genetics and environment issues currently being researched. refering to others in a discussion of scientific efficacy as idiots and sheep frankly loses my interest.

  20. #20 HCN
    June 12, 2007

    Uncle Dave,

    Add to the fact that it has taken years even to get noticible speech and language delays recognized before the kid enters kindergarten.

    Fifteen (15) years ago my son was a three year old who could not talk… not even say “mama”. So while going through the process of getting his hearing checked, seeing a speech language pathologist and eventually a child neurologist there were several “helpful” people who kept telling us to “wait and see, he will talk when he wants to!”. Adding that “my second cousin’s third child’s nephew didn’t talk until they were 4, 5, 7, 30 and he is doing fine now!” or that “Einstein didn’t talk until he was 3, 5, 7, 15!” (which is wrong, when his little sister was born he was told he could play with her, to which he asked “How, she doesn’t have any wheels!”… he was two years old).

    Son did learn to speak… but did end up with over ten years of speech and language therapy, and still has some serious learning problems. He is not autistic, but does have some other health issues that can become serious if herd immunity is compromised.

    His very wonderful special preschool teacher told us that 15 years before, kids like him would have just been considered mentally retarded and sent to an institution. One of the reasons there is an Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act.

  21. #21 Uncle Dave
    June 13, 2007

    HCN

    You indeed sound as if you have walked a very long way with your child. If it wasn’t for IDEA my wife would have been in deep stew more than a few times representing the best interests of a child against the system. Often times inexperienced “staff” within the pres-school curriculum will merely label the child as “speech and language” because they simply do not know what they are looking at (not many Masters degrees and specialized degrees in pre-school teaching). An experienced teacher then comes into the picture and looks at the paperwork and shakes their head in disgust (now they have to be the bad news harbinger). Much to be learned within the school systems about how to properly diagnose, characterize and teach children with a wide array of disorders that are not always purely autism (Asbergers, williams syndrome etc.). We have indeed come a long way from the old days. Note the child that just won the recent spelling bee. Not a run of the mill middle of he bell curve kid for sure. Clearly has some issues, but undoubtably displays high function in the area of decoding.

  22. #22 HCN
    June 13, 2007

    Oh, Uncle Dave… Thank you for the kind words, I have a long way to go with him. He graduates from high school next week, and has not decided what to do afterwards.

    He does have money in the bank (allowance, gifts, etc). It will be used for rent unless he signs up for community college classes. Last summer he took an adult education class in Computer Aided Design at the local community college and earned a “B”. But all he wants to do is stay at home and play video games… a pretty typical 18 year old.

    Though with his health issues (and there are many) he can be on our insurance until he is 25 as a dependent (at the present, it could change… hubby went on strike over health insurance benefits about 7 years ago!). But, later he may need Madicaid… so we have to get him qualified for SSI (Social Security Insurance). To do that we need to get his assets BELOW $2000 (a number that has stayed the same since the 1960s). Hence, the need to make him pay rent or pay tuition.

    Oh, about the old days… I got tuned into this story because my son entered a preschool that was a direct off-shoot of the deaf and hard of hearing program (they started it since they were getting kids who could not speak, but could hear!!!… now because of vaccines deafness is not as prevalent as before, so the program my son was in as grown, and the deaf/hard of hearing program has shrunk to almost nothing!). Back to the story… this was from a program of disabled comics, one of whom was hard of hearing (I kind of remember her last name was “Sullivan”… it was at least ten years ago!). Her routine was something like:

    “Because I didn’t talk they put in the room with all the retarded kids. Then in the third grade they figured out I could not hear!

    “Now, tell me! Who was being stupid?!!”

    Ah, yes… the good ol’ days when there were actually separate schools for the deaf and blind!

    Oh, and a bit of postscript: A good special ed. parent knows that schools are not where you get a diagnosis. It is actually better to have a report from a reputable speech/language pathologist and/or neurologist in hand before you call Childfind.

    My second son had language issues (the classic “late-talker” like Thomas Sowell’s son). I went into Childfind with his SLP and neuro report, and got once a week treatment from a school SLP. That along with four quarters of student SLPs at the local university, and the kid was able to enter kindergarten a “low normal” language level. He is now ending his sophemore year of high school as a honor student, including getting “A”s in Honors Pre-Calculus and chemistry (2 years ahead in math, one in science… oh, and he took Advanced Placement European History). This summer he will be taking programming at the community college, working as a lifeguard and playing in a summer marching band. He also thinks the authors of the “Zits” cartoon are spying on his life.

    These anecdotes just emphasize that there are a variety of speech and langauge issues with kids, many of them are genetic (my brother was considered learning disabled until he entered 7th grade, and then it was like a light turned on and he also became an honor student… he is also distressingly normal otherwise), and that early intervention is wonderful. Maybe #1 son would have had a happier outcome if it were not for the seizures… but we will never know, because bad stuff just happens. Learn to live with it.

  23. #23 DuWayne
    June 13, 2007

    Chris Ingoglio -

    Damn, you’re sciency there Chris. Echoing HCN, where, pray tell, is this evidence, that isn’t lacking? It is the height of irony, that you accuse so many of idiocy, then proceed to, well, act the idiot.

    As someone who has ADHD and has gotten rather enthusiastic about reading the blogs of adults with autism, I am coming to realize more and more, that the main difference between autism and ADD/ADHD, is degree. In particular, I enjoy Joel’s blog, NTs Are Weird. What has blown me away, is how much, when Joel talks about his experience, both as a young man and as an adult, how well he describes my own experience. The stress and anxiety that he experienced in school, was much like my own, just far worse. His dysfunctions as an adult, are nearly identical to my own dysfunctions, again, just far more severe.

    Of course, this is not scientific, it’s purely anecdotal. However, it is indicative of the accounts of many other adults with autism, I have read. Having read several books on ADD/ADHD and autism, the correlation is striking. You claim that autism has become a dumping ground for people with “mere” learning disabilities, I would argue that it always has been.

    And I just love your brilliant analysis of ADD, even more sciency. I agree that drugs are not the answer, but it takes more than parents who care and kick butt. My parents care, always have, but they hadn’t the slightest clue how to deal with me. The fact of the matter is, that I have above average intelligence (I am not trying to be arrogant, it is merely a statement of fact) and still managed to carry a 2.7 gpa until I dropped out of high school. It is not due to my parent’s lack of caring, or trying, nor was it a lack of discipline, I got punished regularly and often times severely.

    I was forced to teach myself how to deal with having six to ten things going through my head at once, to shove most of it to the back and focus on the task at hand. Mind you, those other things are still right there in my conscious mind, still being processed along with whatever I am doing, I’ve just taught myself to compartmentalize my conscious mind.

    It is to my advantage when I am writing songs, as I can work on five or six at once, while following several comment threads on blogs, at the same time. It’s not so handy when I am attempting to clean my apartment, flitting between every room, attempting to clean them all at the same time. Getting yelled at (thankfully my current partner accepts my erratic cleaning methods, others have not) or otherwise “punished” for this, does not make the behavior better. Rather, I get flustered and it just gets worse or I give up on whatever I am doing.

  24. #24 DuWayne
    June 13, 2007

    HCN -

    A lot of this stuff is indeed genetic. My biological father and his father, are/were ADHD (his dad was never diagnosed, but when I met him, along with my biological father, it was rather apparent). My oldest son was recently diagnosed ADHD and bi-polar (I was also diagnosed bi-polar). My youngest, soon to be middle child, exhibits the same sorts of behaviors. None of it means a person is stupid. Quite the opposite, my bio-father is in MENSA and if I manage to get back to school, I expect I will do the same. I got a perfect score on my GED for goodness sakes. My youngest (five) cross-correlates different things he has learned, with other ideas, something they are not supposed to do for a few more years, my oldest was much the same.

    Every adult with autism that I have come across, who is high function, works either in science or tech. The nine year old son of one of my ex’s, still can’t speak clear enough to be understood by most people. He rebuilt a cd player that was broken, replacing the parts that had failed, so that it works now. The autistic child my son befriended in preschool, blows me away. He talks in grunts, drools constantly and has to wear diapers, at five. Everything he builds with legos (when he can sit still long enough) is as symmetrical as the legos will allow, including the colors. h

  25. #25 Mat
    June 13, 2007

    I was once told that A.D.D. doesn’t existence in the Asian-American community. The parents won’t put up with it.

    This…would definitely be a shock to my friend Jennifer Tanaka and her family.

  26. #26 Uncle Dave
    June 13, 2007

    HCN
    “Oh, about the old days… I got tuned into this story because my son entered a preschool that was a direct off-shoot of the deaf and hard of hearing program (they started it since they were getting kids who could not speak, but could hear!!!… now because of vaccines deafness is not as prevalent as before, so the program my son was in as grown, and the deaf/hard of hearing program has shrunk to almost nothing!).

    Most amazing really, my wife’s specialization was teaching the deaf. She taught an aphacia (SP?) class (kindergarten -1st grade) about 15 years ago and your right, that is all but completely dissapeared now. She now deals with moderate to severe handicapping conditions. She used lots of sign language with her Special Ed class with some very good success with the speech delayed children.
    In actuality, most parents like yourself know that there are usually Univerisities or institutions available that do comprehensive assesement in this area. My wife would often say “I incourage you to seek professional diagnostic services outside of my IEP (UCLA for one) – by all means; I hope that my assesement is actually incorrect.”

    Amazing how similar this story is…

    Oh and about the IDEA issue. I have found it is also a bad thing. Seems that some that need it most don’t get all the services available and those that don’t even qualify get services under IDEA. Its both good and bad in many respects. I should start a blog just on speical education issues it’s impact on federal, state and local school budgets is immense and it is the least thought of or considered area of education.

  27. #27 Prometheus
    June 13, 2007

    I am always amused when one of the parrots for the mercury-causes-autism movement accuses other people of being “sheep” and “idiots”. I think that the psychologists refer to that as “projection”

    Now, this isn’t going to sound politically correct, but it will sound like the truth: what do you – Chris Ingagiola – know about the biochemistry of mercury and the development of the human nervous system? I suspect – based on your post – that it is very little, apart from what you’ve been told by people promoting the mercury/thimerosal/vaccines-cause-autism agenda.

    Isn’t it possible that there is something – perhaps many things – that you don’t know about this topic? Perhaps something that makes people whose knowledge base is more aligned with the issue hesitate and react with skepticism? Why is it that you automatically assume that everybody who disagrees with the mercury-causes-autism canon is either a “sheep” or an “idiot”?

    Many of the people you accuse know more about the subject than you do. Maybe you should ask yourself, “Why don’t they believe it?” Try to get past the knee-jerk response of, “Because they’re all in on the conspiracy!” – that one really doesn’t make much sense.

    Assuming that you know more about a topic than people who have spent large chunks of their lives studying it is generally considered foolish. Why should it be any different with the mercury-causes-autism issue?

    As I see it, there are a very few scientists and doctors who have come out in support of the hypothesis that mercury (or thimerosal or vaccines) causes autism. The majority of the scientific community – including most of the people who do research in the field – isn’t buying it. Did I mention that the data also don’t support the mercury-causes-autism hypothesis?

    So why is it that we are the “sheep” and “idiots”?

    Prometheus

  28. #28 Samantha
    June 13, 2007

    “I should start a blog just on speical education issues it’s impact on federal, state and local school budgets is immense and it is the least thought of or considered area of education.”

    Please do!!

  29. #29 Jud
    June 14, 2007

    Sorry to come to this particular thread so late, but I wanted to correct a persistent misimpression about the burden of proof in these cases.

    “50 percent and a feather” (a/k/a “a preponderance of the evidence”) is the very same burden of proof that applies in personal injury cases and most other non-criminal proceedings in the U.S. system. (Note that this is preponderance of *evidence*, not of tug-at-your-heartstrings anecdotes.)

    The difference between most other judicial proceedings and the Vaccine Court has to do not with the burden of proof but with evidentiary standards.

    The burden of proof compares the evidence submitted by one side against the evidence submitted by the other. Evidentiary standards have to do with what information a court can legitimately take into account in making its decision. Not all information is considered reliable enough to be evidence; hearsay is an example with which many people are familiar.

    The leading case on scientific evidence is a Supreme Court decision known as “Daubert.” One of the indicia of reliability of scientific information the Supreme Court mentioned in Daubert is the appearance of that information in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Thus, if you want to submit a published article or report as scientific evidence in, e.g., a personal injury trial, it’s very important that the article or report appeared in a peer-reviewed journal.

    However, a federal Circuit Court (one step below the Supreme Court) decided that some of the more formal Daubert evidentiary requirements, such as peer review of an article or report, do not apply in the Vaccine Court. The Circuit Court looked at the legislation that established the Vaccine Court, and determined that Congress intended proceedings there to be more streamlined than in typical civil trial courts.

    So the important distinction between the Autism Omnibus proceedings and, e.g., personal injury cases, is not the burden of proof – as noted above, it’s “50 percent and a feather” for both. The important distinction is that the lawyers for the parents in the Autism Omnibus will have the opportunity to introduce in evidence “expert” articles and reports that might never see the inside of a courtroom in a personal injury action.

    Of course in some ways this distinction in evidentiary standards might be considered even more significant than a difference in burden of proof. The very real possibility exists that the Special Masters will be presented with a flood of “junk science.” It will be up to the defense lawyers to show, through cross-examination of the plaintiffs’ experts and submission of their own evidence, that plaintiffs’ evidence does not provide factual support for their claims.

  30. #30 AutismDad
    June 14, 2007

    Wow, I don’t think that I have ran across too many boards quite like this. Okay, I’m getting really tired of explaining things to you people that either do not have autistic kids or those who do have them and do not believe in the thimerosal link.

    What is the problem? Are you afraid that there might actually be a link? Do you think that it is a waste for parents to put forth an effort for their kids?

    You call the parents science evidence things like junk science. Seems to me that the government are the ones using “tabacco” science.

    Besides, this case is NOT about the science. That is reserved for other cases. This is a case about the posibility. And, YES there is a posibility.

    Do a little homework on ethylmercury.

    Better yet…Why don’t you go to your doctor and ask them to give you 15 flu vaccinations (at the same time.) That is roughly the amount of thimerosal that we are giving to a new born baby. Go ahead. See what your doctor says. Or you could just write to a pharma company and ask them for 15 mg of thimerosal. Oh, that’s right…they won’t give it to you. Okay. Just go break open a thermometer and drink its contents. See ya!!!

    How is it possible that you don’t believe in the possibility? Were you sick the day that they taught about mercury poisoning in grade school? Maybe you forgot to get your mercury laced shot…

    Junk science. That would be a bunch of mindless gerbles gathering on a website discussing a topic that they know NOTHING about!!! Here’s another idea…Let these people have their day. At least I can say that they did what they could for what they feel is the best interest of their child.

    As for the rest of you…get a life! Just keep closing your eyes and believing that pharma and the government NEVER make mistakes. Just keep saying, “Vioxx is safe. Vioxx is safe.” (You can also substitute any one of the THOUSANDS of drug names that have either been recalled, eliminated or have SEVERE (i.e. neurological) problems and side-effects.)

  31. #31 Ruth
    June 14, 2007

    AutismDad-

    Yes, I have autistic kids, I’m probably somewhere on the spectrum myself. I have degrees in chem and toxicology. I’ve read about EthylHg in Doul and Cassert’s Toxicology, and from Clarkson’s excellent text on Hg(hard to find unless you have a university library), NOT from quacks. I can actually read the dose response curves and understand that the amounts in vaccines are trivial.

    Teething powders and treatments for stomach pains used to involve huge amounts of mercury. Our exposure to toxic metals is far less than our parents. Do you remember when steel cans were held together with lead? I’ve had my share of Hg exposure, as I used to clean out monometers in the days when you could still use mecury in the lab. I always used care in handling organomercury compounds, but they were not the worst stuff I ever used.

  32. #32 Bronze Dog
    June 14, 2007

    AutismDad, have you EVER listened to a skeptic? Do you even know our stance on the issue?

    Is there a possibility? Yes, but only because anything is possible. Is it likely? Hell no. There’s no remotely good evidence of a link.

    At least I can say that they did what they could for what they feel is the best interest of their child.

    And yet, people like you refused to find out what’s ACTUALLY in the best interests of your children. It’s all doggerel and appeals to alchemy, all the time.

    As for the rest of you…get a life! Just keep closing your eyes and believing that pharma and the government NEVER make mistakes

    And thus we get to a heavy chunk of propaganda. Everyone makes mistakes! Science is built on that premise! Woo like yours, however, is all in favor of deregulation and destruction of accountability. Let the Big Quackery and caveat emptor rule! Money! Money! Money!

    As for “get a life!” isn’t saving children from chemical castration, death by hypocalcemia, and disfiguring/fatal preventable disease a worthwhile goal in life?

    Given the nihilistic behavior of autism quacks, clearly money is all that matters to them. A child’s life doesn’t.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get on with my foam-reducing therapy. All the hate-mongering, emotion-manipulating, logic-ignoring, cowardly woos are getting to me.

  33. #33 autismdad
    June 14, 2007

    Yes, but what are the effects on a developing neuro system? You can not answer that question, nor can ANYONE else. Because the studies have ONLY been conducted by scientists for parents in this case and others like it.

    Why did the CDC, FDA, EPA, WHO AND pharma all see a problem with thimerosal in 2000? Why has thimerosal been banned from eye drop solutions and topical creams for 20 years? Why has it been banned from animal vaccines for 15?

    BECAUSE IT WAS PROVEN TO CAUSE IMMUNE PROBLEMS!!!!

    We are using a product on children that we will not even give to a dog! Why?

    Because, it is a CHEAP preservative for pharma companies. And EVERY child MUST have vaccinations to attend school (with a few exceptions.)

    Trillions of dollars are being made on products that have NEVER been intended for human consumption.

    Don’t get me wrong. Yes, I believe that there is an enviromental or genetic trigger. In the research that I have conducted I have found one possible such theory. That children with autism have reduced levels of estrogen. Estrogen is known to be able to help reduce exposure to thimerosal. No one is looking in that direction.

    You must admit that theoretically it IS possible!!! No one can deny that.

    Interesting that you should mention teething powders. That came up in the first day of testimony. Perhaps you should give that a listen or read the files.

  34. #34 notmercury
    June 14, 2007

    Well. That was a refreshing rant. Where to start, where to start. Oh, I think it’s spelled Terbaccy ’round them parts.

  35. #35 Bartholomew Cubbins
    June 14, 2007

    Do a little homework on ethylmercury.

    Like reading Kirby’s rag or browsing the talking points from ignorant and alarmist antivax websites?

  36. #36 autismdad
    June 14, 2007

    antivax website??? hmmm…sorry, but I am not, nor are the parents in any of these cases anti-vax. We are Anti-Mercury. Once again, your “Terbaccy” facts are being distorted just like your beloved government and pharma that make no mistakes.

  37. #37 autismdad
    June 14, 2007

    Alright, I know that you guys still are going to argue the point after watching this. But, you want evidence…

    Try this, it’s 4:23 in length. Also, note that it is research done by the University of Calgary. Not the U.S. Government, not scientists for the families and not pharma. This is as unbiased as it will get.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHqVDMr9ivo

  38. #38 notmercury
    June 14, 2007

    Wow. Mercury kills neurons? Amazing. Too bad they didn’t make the video of EDTA or DMSA killing neurons. Maple syrup and Molson too, but you won’t see those videos from the Canadians.

  39. #39 autismdad
    June 14, 2007

    …as I said…even shown proof you STILL don’t believe…perhaps you should also note the date of the research…BEFORE any cases were even filed against the Vaccine Courts.

  40. #40 Ruth
    June 14, 2007

    Over the years I’ve had lots of compounds work great in vitro, only to find they did not reach high enough dose at the target tissue in mice to be a viable drug candidate. Lots of things cause neuronal death, including ethylmercury. But can it reach toxic dose in the target tissue? There is also no good correlation between thiomersal dose and autism. If a chemical is toxic, you can usually see that people with high exposure have more symptoms and as exposure is reduced, effects decrease.

    I read that work at U Calgary several years ago-I was writing a paper for my tox class on mercury and neurotoxicity. In 2002, the thiomersal hypothesis merited some attention. Dosage of mercury in vaccines is much less today, but autism rates have not decreased. However, diagnosis of mental retardation and childhood schizophrenia is way down. Care to speculate why?

  41. #41 autismdad
    June 14, 2007

    The autism rates have not decreased for a simple reason. You have to remember that there is not a BAN on thimerosal only a recommended reduction. Doctors offices had vials of thimerosal vaccines sitting in refrigerators and/or on shelves. Pharma companies had warehouses full of it. They were allowed to keep using the product until the supplies ran out. Also, thimerosal was used as a preservative. Giving the vaccines a shelf-life of 3-5 years, once it reaches the doctors office (this is important because the shelf life is actually longer).

    So, doing CONSERVASTIVE math, let’s say that warehouses have a 2 year supply plus its 3-5 years, of life at the doctors’ office. That put’s the time frame somewhere between 2007 and 2009 before the reduced vaccines even enter the general population.

    Another 2 years after that we will begin to see reductions in autistic cases.

    Even in California, who have placed a ban on thimerosal, the numbers have NOT decreased. This is due to the pharma companies petitioning the state that they did not have enough non-thimerosal influenza vaccinations. For a short period – coincidentally the number of autism cases in California was reduced. Until the reintroduction of thimerosal in the flu vaccine.

    This is very vital. The number of autistic cases DID reduce during the thimerosal ban!

  42. #42 HCN
    June 14, 2007

    If that were true, then how come Burbacher could not find any thimerosal containing vaccines for his study? He had to take thimerosal vaccines and add thimerosal to them:
    http://www.kevinleitch.co.uk/wiki/Thimerosal/Burbacher

    Also, exactly how much thimerosal was in the MMR, the Hib, IPV and the Varicella vaccines? What is the total amount of thimerosal in the vaccines today… hint, check this out:
    http://www.fda.gov/cber/vaccine/thimerosal.htm

    Did the UK, Denmark, Canada and other countries that are still seeing an increase in autism have the same amount of thimerosal?

    Oh, and while I’m asking questions: How did the TD-DMPS (also known as Buttarcream) work out? Is your son now cured? Or have you moved on to another “doctor with a cure”, say someone like Yasko?

  43. #43 HCN
    June 14, 2007

    Misstyped… Burbacher had to take thimerosal FREE vaccines, and then add thimerosal to them.

    If there were warehouses full of them, he would not have had to do that!

  44. #44 autismbrad
    June 14, 2007

    Are you taking these notes out of Handley’s garbage can? Your suggestion that the thimerosal in the flu vaccine has taken the place of the formerly thimerosal-laden vaccines of the 80′s and 90′s to the same biochemical effect is ridiculous.

    Look, JB’s talking points are pathetic so I’d suggest abandoning them immediately. He’s delusional and extremely angry. The guy predicted his child would be “normal”, what is it, a year ago, two years ago now? Guess what happened? Buttar was god and now Buttar is crap. One has to wonder when Amy Yasko will take meat since that snake oil has failed too. (I wonder how much mercury is in her juice? Bet it’s not tested.)

    Now he’s swinging wildly, so perhaps you can find another source for your “data”.

  45. #45 Orac
    June 14, 2007

    The contention that there’s a lot of thimerosal-containing vaccines around 3-5 years after it was removed from vaccines is simply not true.

    As documented in Arthur Allen’s Vaccine, in early 2002 a thorough survey of several hundred medical offices revealed that only 2% e of the overall vaccine stock in pediatricians’ offices still consisted of thimerosal-containing vaccines. The last lot of thimerosal-containing vaccines in the U.S. expired in 2002.

  46. #46 HCN
    June 14, 2007

    Ah, it took me a while, but I found it.

    From http://onibasu.com/archives/am/27456.html :

    “A group of university-based researchers needs several vials of the older DTaP vaccine formulations which contained thimerosal for a legitimate research study. If anyone knows an MD who might have some of these vaccines or knows where to get them, please email me privately.”

    Ooh, look it is dated 2001, wasn’t that like six years ago?

    If they were so common, Burbacher could have ordered the required thimerosal containing vaccine from one of thse warehouses.

  47. #47 notmercury
    June 14, 2007

    Warehouses full of vaccines? Two year supplies followed by vaccines sitting on shelves for 3-5 years? Where do you get this stuff?

    Take a look here:
    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/109867588/ABSTRACT

  48. #48 autismdad
    June 15, 2007

    okay, one at a time:

    “If that were true, then how come Burbacher could not find any thimerosal containing vaccines for his study? He had to take thimerosal vaccines and add thimerosal to them:”

    -B.S. If that were really the case, that there were NO vaccines available perhaps he should have talked with pharma companies. Thimerosal is STILL manufactured for shipment to third world countries (and yes, even the UK, Canada, etc.)

    “Also, exactly how much thimerosal was in the MMR, the Hib, IPV and the Varicella vaccines? What is the total amount of thimerosal in the vaccines today… hint, check this out:”

    MMR does NOT contain thimerosal, never has.

    Hib – it depended upon 2 things. First who the manufactuer was. And secondly, Which Hib. For instance – the Hib/TriHibit from Pasteur contained around 16 times the maximum allowable mercury, as set forth by the EPA. (For a 35 pound child – and that would be a HUGE kid!!!)

    IPV and Vericella contain no thimerosal.

    What about DTAP or Tetanus? 16, 17, 18 times the EPA limit?

    Sure the numbers look good NOW. I’ve already been to that website, several times, too bad you don’t have the data BEFORE they changed it to the current numbers.

    Since you guys like to quote websites, here’s one for you:

    “In its report of October 1, 2001, the IOM’s Immunization Safety Review Committee concluded that the evidence is inadequate to either accept or reject a causal relationship between thimerosal exposure from childhood vaccines and the neurodevelopmental disorders of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and speech or language delay. At that time the committee’s conclusion was based on the fact that there were no published epidemiological studies examining the potential association between thimerosal containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders. The Committee did conclude that the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines could be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders was biologically plausible. However, additional studies were needed to establish or reject a causal relationship.”

    http://www.fda.gov/cber/vaccine/thimfaq.htm#q8

    Now, the above statement appears to support what all of you are saying, at first look. But, remember what these court cases are about. It is NOT about the science. It is about causation.

    The page goes on:

    In 2004, the IOM’s Immunization Safety Review Committee again examined the hypothesis that vaccines, specifically the MMR vaccines and thimerosal containing vaccines, are causally associated with autism. In this report, the committee incorporated new epidemiological evidence from the U.S., Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, and studies of biologic mechanisms related to vaccines and autism that had become available since its report in 2001. The committee concluded that this body of evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, and that hypotheses generated to date concerning a biological mechanism for such causality are theoretical only. Further, the committee stated that the benefits of vaccination are proven and the hypothesis of susceptible populations is presently speculative, and that widespread rejection of vaccines would lead to increases in incidences of serious infectious diseases like measles, whooping cough and Hib bacterial meningitis.”

    In both instances the IOM has admitted that the theory is possible. And that my friends is the means to an ending.

    As I have stated, before. NONE OF US ARE ANTI-VACCINE. We want to remove any “theory” or causation from children’s vaccines. But, yes, if thimerosal is the responsible factor we want compensation. Just like any other malpractice case.

    Since you guys like to ask questions, and I have answered them, would you mind answering a few of mine?

    1. In 2000, why did the CDC, FDA, EPA, WHO and pharma meet at Simpsonwood and agree that there were, “reasons to be concerned?” http://www.autismhelpforyou.com/simpsonwood.pdf

    2. In 2000, the year of the “Simpsonwood discoveries,” pharma increased donations, to the republican party from $8.4m (in 1998) to $18.4m, why?

    3. In 2002, the year of the “Eli Lilly Protection Act” pharma increased donations to $21.7m. Is this just coincidental? 2 of the key years in the autism/mercury cases pharma “bought” republican politicians.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.asp?Ind=H04&cycle=2006

    4. The government has the Vaccine Safety Datalink, which the Plantiffs in the vaccine cases say could prove their case. Assuming that is true – would it not exonerate the government? But, they would have to present it now…before any data could be manipulated. But, they WON’T, because it would incriminate them, instead.

    5. Not trying to pull a RFK, jr here…but. If MD’s are really becoming better at diagnosing autism then 1 in every 150 college age students should have autism. Why don’t they?

    As for this:
    Oh, and while I’m asking questions: How did the TD-DMPS (also known as Buttarcream) work out? Is your son now cured? Or have you moved on to another “doctor with a cure”, say someone like Yasko?

    Perhaps ALL of you should consider how you have jumped to conclusions, just on this. Because I have NO IDEA who you are referring to?

    Perhaps you MIS-READ my name, or, DID NOT FULLY READ THE FACTS OF MY NAME…sorry, but you have the wrong guy, here. I don’t have a son with autism, it’s my daughter.

    Things like this are EXACTLY how we will prove causation in court cases. People who do not look at the facts and/or jump to conclusions (ie government attorneys) will make the mistakes that you have made.

    On a personal note. Everyone here is saying, “we need peer reviewed data.” Now, look around you. Look at the lights, in your home or office. Maybe you’re listening to a throwback to ,”the day” on vinyl. Think about this: the man who invented and/or discovered these things, and many others that we use, in everyday life, had only 6 months of formal education. Some of the greatest discoveries in all of man’s existance have been by those not peer reviewed and who kept an open mind when others said that their ideas were impossible.

  49. #49 Anne
    June 15, 2007

    AutismDad, I am not an MD, but I am a juris doctor. So you can trust me when I tell you that this case is about “the science.” It is about whether reliable scientific evidence proves that it is more likely than not that Michelle Cedillo’s autism was caused by a combination of thimerosal and the MMR vaccine. If you don’t want to trust me, and why should you, you can just read the papers on file. You’ll see that I’m right.

  50. #50 autismdad
    June 15, 2007

    Anne, yes…to some degree, science will be playing a role in this. But, the point that I was trying to make is that twice the FDA has admited that the science IS theoretically possible. And that is the “feather” of the “50 percentand a feather.”

    The government has admitted – several times, that the science is possible.

    But now that there is a REAL threat, they will we the ones who step backwards.

  51. #51 Jud
    June 15, 2007

    autismdad said: [T]he FDA has admitted that the science IS theoretically possible. And that is the ‘feather’ of the ’50 percent and a feather.’”

    The second sentence of that statement risks confusing two different concepts – burden of proof and evidentiary standards. 50 percent and a feather, or “a preponderance of the evidence,” is the typical standard of proof in a civil trial as well as the Vaccine Court – no difference.

    On the other hand, the evidentiary standard in Vaccine Court is more liberal than in a typical civil trial. The Vaccine Court, for example, will allow non-peer-reviewed expert reports into evidence.

    Regarding the first sentence, as Anne correctly points out in her comment, a causal relationship is what will have to be shown in the Vaccine Court in order for claimants to prevail, and the 2004 ISR Committee’s findings you quoted appear to explicitly reject that: “The committee concluded that this body of evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship….” Of course data of the type the ISRC used to reach its conclusion is only a part of what will be brought before the Vaccine Court. We’ll have to await transcripts and the Court’s decision to see what other information is brought before the Special Masters and how they evaluate it.

  52. #52 Mercury Player
    June 15, 2007

    “Just go break open a thermometer and drink its contents. See ya!!!”

    Well, that just wouldn’t be that big a deal really. We used to break thermometers all the time in the hospital and then play with the mercury. That was before the days when the men in the white suits would come to clean up a spill (they started coming sometime in the early 90′s). We’d simply scoop the stuff up and put it in the trash can after playing with it for a little bit, I guess we all better go get chelated.

    http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/phs46.html
    When you swallow small amounts of metallic mercury, for example, from a broken oral thermometer, virtually none (less than 0.01%) of the mercury will enter your body through the stomach or intestines, unless they are diseased. Even when a larger amount of metal mercury (a half of a tablespoon, about 204 grams) was swallowed by one person, very little entered the body.

    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/430268_2
    Another one of the most common questions we get virtually every day involves thermometers. A two year old accidentally bites off the tip of a mercury thermometer and swallows a small amount of the mercury. Fortunately, they look inside the mouth. There is no bleeding and the child is asymptomatic. The question that comes up is what do we need to do about this particular child. Well, mercury fortunately is not very well absorbed from the GI tract in the elemental form. We know this from some rather catastrophic cases in which in the past Miller-Abbott tubes were used to try to relieve obstructions where they would contain sometimes 50-100 grams of mercury and those things would often rupture when they were pulled out, leaving fairly large amounts of mercury in the GI tract. They would go on and study these folks and they would find the mercury would never be absorbed. So that in the elemental form from the GI tract, mercury is not much of a problem.

    And check out what happened to this dude, I’ll give you some hints: he didn’t die and he didn’t even become autistic.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=8355325&dopt=Abstract
    A 42 year old male, while repairing a sphygmomanometer, intentionally ingested an estimated 3 kg (220 mL) of metallic mercury

  53. #53 autismdad
    June 15, 2007

    Okay, it’s becoming quite clear that NO ONE intends to answer ANY of my questions. I guess that no one can reciprocate.

    The fact is that no one here even knows me. You say that this is a skeptic website. I say that I AM the skeptic.

    Someone earlier asked me how the treatments, for my son were going – with a DAN! doctor.

    First, it’s my daughter – not my son

    Secondly, My daughter does NOT see a DAN! doctor, probably never will. Even though I find some merit to support a Thimerosal-Autism link I do not say that is the, “Be all – end all.” I also say that there is quite possibly a genetic and/or environmental trigger.

    Instead of just sitting back trying to bash people for their beliefs. I – unlike everyone here have the common courtesy to answer questions and the points that you have tried to validate. I have not received any such in return.

    This case is as in depth, perhaps, as that of politics and religion. Two sides that will never have a general agreement.

    Why is everyone so against these cases even being tried? If you are the scientists and/or doctors (that many of you claim to be) then why not allow it? If just one of you would take the time to actually delve into this, rather than accepting your peers beliefs then perhaps we would be that much closer to a cure.

    If nothing else, a scientist may listen to the transcripts and hear something that he (or she) may not have thought about before. And that one thing leads that scientist to discover the cure then these proceedings are priceless.

    So to all of you I will say this:

    I will leave the mindless drudges to keep patting yourselves on the back because you were able to read and review actual work of those of us that are really searching for the cure.

    Before I go I would like to ask ALL of you a simple question. Do you believe that there is a cure for cancer, that has already been found? Not to your scientific knowledge, but, in your heart. If you don’t believe it then you are in an ever shrinking minority. In all of man’s existance we have NEVER cured a single disease. Not one.

    How?

    The answer is simple and it was passed to me by a pharma executive: “The disease is worth more than the cure.” Vaccines are the height of this idea. Every child HAS to have them. Autism is worth that risk.

    There is no doubt that vaccines can and DO cause harm. If those of you claiming to be scientists are REALLY my peers then I fear for the generations that will follow us.

  54. #54 Ruth
    June 15, 2007

    If any of these anti-vaxers presented good evidence in well designed studies, we would listen. Right now their level of ‘proof’ is about as good as creationism and the ‘Bucsh knew about 9/11′ groups. Do you also believe oil companies have a pill that converts water to gasoline?

    No one has ever cured a disease? How many cases of smallpox have you seen? Rhogam allowed my 2nd and 3rd children to be healthy at birth. Cancer is not one disease, and some forms are still hard to treat, but I know lots of cancer survivors.

    I am skeptical, not paranoid. There is a difference.

  55. #55 notmercury
    June 15, 2007

    You funny. If you aren’t getting the answers you had hoped for, perhaps it’s time to rephrase your questions in ways they can be answered.

    Autismdad: “Before I go I would like to ask ALL of you a simple question. Do you believe that there is a cure for cancer, that has already been found?”

    Now here’s an example of a question that can’t easily be answered. I know people who have been cured, yes cured, of cancer. Is there a cure for cancer? No. Can you tell me how those two truths don’t contradict each other?

    There have been cases where a medical intervention alleviated some of the symptoms of autism by addressing an underlying cause. Is there a cure for autism?

  56. #56 HCN
    June 15, 2007

    I apologize for mistaking you for someone else. The resemblance was just so uncanny!

    You should contact Burbacher and tell him where to get the vaccines full of thimerosal, he seems to have trouble finding the stuff. Obviously the plea to the Autism-Mercury Yahoo group didn’t produce any results.

    Fortunately antibiotics did cure my pneumonia when I was 14 years old. I kind of liked that.

    Oh, and phenobarbital stopped my baby’s seizures.

    Notmercury said: “Warehouses full of vaccines? Two year supplies followed by vaccines sitting on shelves for 3-5 years? Where do you get this stuff? ”

    It seems they just make it up as they go along. Take for instance some of the testimony from yesterday at:
    ftp://autism.uscfc.uscourts.gov/autism/transcripts/day04.pdf… From pages 957-963…

    Q: You mention in your resume that you’re the medical director of the four doctor team responsible for filing the Biologics LIcense Appliccation for Embrel?

    A: That is not exactly correct. I was a consultant medical director. There were I think either four of five physician members of the team. It was run by a physcician that the head of the team was a woman named Dr. Leslie Grarrison, and she was the person who spearheaded the entire Embrel approval and was then made a vice president of Immunex as a result of that.

    Q: So that part is perhaps a misstatement on your curriculum vitae?

    A: My title was consulting medical director.

    … snip some back and forth…

    Q: I’m sorry, I meant on your CV. All rigth. You’re the consulting medical director then on the BLA. That’s the Biologics License Application. We checked at FDA. Your name doesn’t appear on any of the documents submitted by Immunex on the Biologics License Application.

    A: Okay. That’s information. It doesn’t make any difference what I did is — I told what I did.

    … snip stuff about her faculty position at Univ. of Nottingham…

    Q: Your CV also lists you as a faculty member at University of California-San Francisco. Are you still a member of that faculty?

    A: To my knowledge I am, unless this hearing has kicked me off.

    Q: We checked with University of California-San Francisco. What was your faculty role at University of California?

    A: I’m on the adjunct series.

    Q: What did you do there?

    …. snip lots of stuff…

    Q: Any other involvement at UCSF, at University of California-San Francisco?

    A: Well I use their library and I go to their parties, and also — I’m sorry. I forgot. I took a regular — let’s see. It was a four month course in advanced biostatistic, clinical epidemiology and one other thing last year, so I was there like four days a week for probably the duration of the semester, which is about four months.

    Q: They in their response indicated that your participation was I believe at best gave very occasional lectures.

    …. and on and on, where it turns out she just took some courses.

    This is her CV:
    http://www.verabyers.com/documents/verabyers.pdf

    It still seems to have that “old” information. Do think she will fix it anytime soon?

  57. #57 Prometheus
    June 15, 2007

    Autismdad claims that he can’t get his questions answered – or maybe he’s just having a hard time reading the answers.

    I saw a lot of people trying to give him the answers to his questions, but I suspect they weren’t the answers he wanted to get. After all, anyone who can deliver the “warehouses of thimerosal-containing vaccines” canard with a straight face is clearly beyond listening to explanations (or reading an expiration date).

    The truth of the matter is that Autismdad isn’t looking for answers (shocked silence) – he’s already got all the answers he wants or (in his opinion) needs.

    He just wants us to agree with him.

    The reference to inventors who developed the light bulb (Edison) and other everyday “wonders” is supposed to distract us from the fact that he – and many who think like him – lack the knowledge or experience to understand the issues they are “discussing”. They are simply parroting what they have been told, without any true depth of understanding.

    To continue with the “uneducated genius” line of reasoning, Edison may have had little formal education, but he had a wealth of experience – and he knew when to listen to people who had the education. This is in sharp contrast to the “self-educated” (self-deluded?) parrots who endlessly repeat the sound-bites tossed to them.

    These parrots may well be very intelligent, well-educated people whose area of expertise is outside of biology or even of science. Their opinions on topics outside of autism may be valuable and even sought after. They are not stupid people – stupid people would not sound so convincing. What they are is mistaken, and they lack the breadth and depth of knowledge to see that.

    This is not a crime or a sin or even a personal failing – people are mistaken every day. People also commonly fail to realize their mistakes, especially when they have invested so much of their time and emotional energy in them.

    Autismdad isn’t looking for answers, he’s trying to provide his own answers for us to admire. He wants us to marvel at the intelligence and perseverence he showed in digging up these “facts” on the Internet and from personal conversations. He is not interested in hearing why he may be wrong, since he has already concluded that he knows much, much more than any of us.

    I get that attitude all the time from my teenage son, and the best response I’ve found is to simply not respond.

    Autismdad needs to work through this issue on his own and, with a little time and a lot of luck, he may eventually come to realize that the people feeding him his “facts” have more conflicts of interest than “Big Pharma”, less intellectual honesty than “Mainstream Science” and have less respect for him than “Mainstream Medicine”.

    Prometheus

  58. #58 autismdad=psycho
    June 15, 2007

    Do you believe that there is a cure for cancer, that has already been found? Not to your scientific knowledge, but, in your heart. If you don’t believe it then you are in an ever shrinking minority. In all of man’s existance we have NEVER cured a single disease. Not one.

    As a scientist who gets paid largely by your tax dollars, I’d like to be the first one to say: Fcuk you, you ignorant Luddite. Take your tinfoil hat and don’t let the door hit your ass. Go back to your cave, your holy healer, and your leeches. When you sober up, we’ll still be here, working to solve extremely difficult biological problems that affect us all, including our own children.

  59. #59 HCN
    June 15, 2007

    Perhaps Autismdad should do some reading… here are a couple of suggestions:
    http://www.amazon.com/Unstrange-Minds-Remapping-World-Autism/dp/0465027636/

    and (already referenced):
    http://vaccinethebook.typepad.com/

  60. #60 Heraldblog
    June 15, 2007

    AutDad, in case you haven’t already you should read Unstrange Minds by Dr. Roy Grinker. It could go a long way towards answering your questions. It sure answered mine!

  61. #61 Russ
    June 15, 2007

    Not to encourage another round of b.s. from autismdad, but I think medicine did a hell of a job with polio and smallpox. Thank God there were less ambulance chasers around back then.

  62. #62 Paul
    July 22, 2007

    Our arrogant government,with no protest by its corporate lap-dogs, has NO problem ending and ruining the life of a much fewer number of victims due to it Iraq campaign for a $MULTI-BILLION pricetag.
    So many more families (including my own – with 3 autistic children – no family history of this or any similar disorder – yet “science” is scrambling to put a genetic label on this disorder’s cause in order to limit the government’s liability) are impacted by the environmental insult inflicted by our government and its mock regulatory bodies (e.g., FDA).
    Just let the Federal Reserve print more money as its done to help the government pay for the war. As long as we are cannibalizing our own empire to the fate of Rome, why not help a few of the poor slobs whose life they’ve ruined alont the way?
    Wake up America – does it need to happen to you and yours before you care? Odds are it will…

  63. #63 Paul
    July 22, 2007

    Our arrogant government,with no protest by its corporate lap-dogs, has NO problem ending and ruining the life of a much fewer number of victims due to it Iraq campaign for a $MULTI-BILLION pricetag.
    So many more families (including my own – with 3 autistic children – no family history of this or any similar disorder – yet “science” is scrambling to put a genetic label on this disorder’s cause in order to limit the government’s liability) are impacted by the environmental insult inflicted by our government and its mock regulatory bodies (e.g., FDA).
    Just let the Federal Reserve print more money as its done to help the government pay for the war. As long as we are cannibalizing our own empire to the fate of Rome, why not help a few of the poor slobs whose life they’ve ruined along the way?
    Wake up America – does it need to happen to you and yours before you care? Odds are it will…

  64. #64 HCN
    July 22, 2007

    Okay, Paul… it is not YOUR turn to show some actual evidence for your accusations. Not just some baseless accusations.

    That was what the Omnibus trial was all about, presenting real evidence. Unfortunately, it was revealed that the data used in the 1998 Lancet paper was actually falisfied. So you can’t use that as evidence.

    As far as “no” genetic history, well… sometimes it is something that is tangental. My son had seizures, and I was not aware of anyone in the family who had seizures. But as it turns out there is a strong family history of migraines, and there is sometimes a fine line between a migraine and a seizure.

  65. #65 HCN
    July 24, 2007

    http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070723/full/070723-1.html

    “Half of all cases of male autism may be caused by spontaneous genetic mutations, say researchers who have studied the genetic patterns of the condition. Offspring who inherit such mutations are at a greater risk of having an autistic child themselves.”

  66. #66 Paul
    July 26, 2007

    Naive bast@rd.
    I was at the top of every class from HS through graduate school, and studied the biological sciences. You appear to be the Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity of this subject. If you either a real scientist or an objective observer, you would condede that statistics can be manipulated to fit the purposes of the investigator, or more importantly in this case, his backers. Correlations are not proof of cause-effect, and this is what you and your crowd hang your hat on. On the flip-side, you could never prove a lack of association. So here we are.
    You might call me paranoid, but I’ll never “trust” the benevolence of those who control the funding.

  67. #67 Orac
    July 26, 2007

    …you would condede that statistics can be manipulated to fit the purposes of the investigator, or more importantly in this case, his backers. Correlations are not proof of cause-effect, and this is what you and your crowd hang your hat on. On the flip-side, you could never prove a lack of association. So here we are.

    In other words, Paul doesn’t care what the evidence shows. He believes what he believes, and no amount of scientific or epidemiological evidence will convince him otherwise. If the pesky evidence goes against him, he has a very convenient way of being able to dismiss it out of hand, too, just by paranoid conspiracy-mongering and saying that he will “never ‘trust’ the benevolence of those who control the funding.”

  68. #68 HCN
    July 27, 2007

    Paul… if you were a top notch student in biology, why don’t you post some actual scientific studies to back up what you are saying? I mean something that would convince this stupid old engineer that you have actual evidence.

    Come on, surely to get high grades in high school and college you had to include a bibliography in term papers. This is kind of like that, except that you can post up to two links. Kind of like this:
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/118/1/e139.pdf

    In the hope of making myself less dumb, I have been attending lectures on genome research. I have learned that when parents pass down their 3 billion base pairs to their children, about 100 errors occur. Sometimes these are harmless, sometimes dangerous and sometimes beneficial. When I have a chance I plan to checking out these lectures:
    http://www.unmc.edu/dept/mmi/index.cfm?L1_ID=29&L2_ID=36&L3_ID=64&CONREF=55

    Anyway, still waiting for your evidence. Remember, since I am just a dumb engineer who used statitistical analysis for random vibration studies you will have to t_y_p_e v_e_r_y s_l_o_w_l_y.