Respectful Insolence

An underwhelming performance in London

Remember how I warned citizens of the U.K. about an impending visit to their fair island by American apologist for antivaccinationist nonsense and his invitation to give a briefing at Parliament?

Apparently, the whole thing was very–shall we say?–underwhelming. The lameness of his excuses, they limp:

I then asked a question (yay!). Kirby had said earlier in the lecture that autism diagnois rates in California haven’t reduced following the removal of thimerosal from childhood vaccines in California because of a delay between children being vaccinated in their early years and them being included in the surveys of autism prevalence at the age of 8. I asked him to confirm or deny a testable prediction which flows from that claim:

Q: If thimerosal in vaccines is responsible for autism, the rate of new diagnoses of autism in California must decline greatly over the next couple of years as children who received thimerosal-free vaccines reach the age of 8. If the rate doesn’t drop the thimerosal/autism hypothesis must be wrong, mustn’t it?
A: There are other source of mercury, there’s air pollution, and immigration (immigrants being vaccinated in their country of origin and again on arrival in the US, thereby being doubly poisoned, see) and the flu vaccine, a lot of things that complicate the picture.

Q: But those other mercury sources like air pollution won’t have increased at just the right time and by just the right amount to perfectly mask any effect of the sudden removal of thimerosal from vaccines.
A: There are a lot of confounding factors. But that would mean thimerosal alone isn’t the cause.

Does he even realize how lame his excuses for having been such a prominent pusher of the “mercury in vaccines cause autism” pseudoscience sound in light of the epidemiological evidence? Epic fail at Parliament, too, as was the the “Green Our Vaccines” rally:

I know, I know, she got the date wrong, but she got the message right.

Comments

  1. #1 JonMcSkeptic
    June 9, 2008

    Hey! That’s my girl!

  2. #2 Niobe
    June 9, 2008

    Bonus points for using Lacrimosa.

    I wondered, everybody talks about the Amish, but what about western european nations like mine (the Netherlands) where we have less shots and dropped thimerasol earlier. If people are right and it’s the amount / frequency of vaccines, we should see a lower incidence of autism in much of western/ northern Europe. However facts wouldn’t divert these people and we are not without our own cranks.

  3. #3 Magpie
    June 9, 2008

    pwnd.

    Since rational argument seemingly fails against these people, we’re probably just going to have to beat them with sticks.

  4. #4 Scary people scare me
    June 9, 2008

    The worst part wasn’t the parents with the posters with their kids’ faces on them. The worst part was the parents who took their kids along with them. I think I saw a photo of J.B. Handley with his autistic son. That would be the one who was supposed to have been cured 2 years ago or more with TDDMPS (fake chelator). There were many autistic children there and they watched as Jim Carrey on the platform behind Jenny lifted Evan up in the air and jostled him up and down as an example of a cured kid. Evan didn’t look very happy, the jostling didn’t make him smile. So how many autistic kids in the audience felt like failures and rejects when compared to Evan who cooperated with mummy’s diflucan and wheat-free, dairy-free diet and since he was a good boy he got turned into a “real boy”.

  5. #5 sophia8
    June 9, 2008

    So how many autistic kids in the audience felt like failures and rejects when compared to Evan who cooperated with mummy’s diflucan and wheat-free, dairy-free diet and since he was a good boy he got turned into a “real boy”.
    Pfft – autistic kids aren’t AWARE of anything. You can call them ‘damaged’, poisoned’ ‘broken’ etc within their hearing and they won’t notice any of it. They’ll just keep right on stimming. Their brains are broke, y’see, so don’t bother about treating them like human beings…..

    Sorry folks, I was channelling John Best there for a moment.

  6. #6 Boo
    June 9, 2008

    Ok, agree with the message, but with putting all the pics of diseased kids up, doesn’t it kinda do what it just criticized parents at the rally for?

  7. #7 Dr Aust
    June 9, 2008

    Re. Kirby’s underwhelming London trip, there was also only one newspaper story ahead of time, the lamentable Daily Telegraph article that Orac covered and which I blogged about here.

    Since no other newspaper ran a follow-up, one is tempted to conclude that the news editors have decided that this is no longer “a story”. Which makes me duly grateful that no-one in the UK knows or cares who Jenny McCarthy is.

    Actually, I have a theory that for the wider British public (beyond the anti-vaccine warriors, Mercury Nuts and Whale.to-Illuminati loons), and perhaps also for the newspapers, the nails went in the MMR-autism coffin when people heard just how much taxpayers’ money Andrew Wakefield (and all his friends) had pocketed out of the British Legal Aid Fund via the UK anti-vaccine lawsuit. Mr and Mrs Average obviously have little clue about the science, but nearly everyone can recognize an ambulance-chasing lawyer, or even a doctor who fatally compromised his professional ethics in the charge to get famous.

    Maybe this idea will be put to the test when we finally get the judgement in the Wakefield GMC (medical licencing) hearing later in the Summer.

  8. #8 Liesl
    June 9, 2008

    I also got rubella/rubeola wrong. Must have been that awful case of rubella I had as a kid. Yeah, let’s blame the mistakes on that. If you don’t vaccinate your child, they may develop rubeola. Then they will grow up to make many mistakes on youtube. See?! Vaccination is key! Ahem.

  9. #9 Liesl
    June 9, 2008

    Boo:

    The pictures of the diseased kids come from the free library at the CDC. None of those kids are alive today, in all likelihood. Maybe the kid with measles, as I think that one was taken in 1965. Regardless of all of that, the pictures of the kids were to show what can happen when disease runs rampant, not to make a judgment on the child. The pictures of the kids with autism were accompanied by “value” words like damaged, and hell.

  10. #10 HCN
    June 9, 2008

    Those photos and many others are available here, http://www.vaccineinformation.org/photos/ , for exactly the purpose of things like Liesl’s video, many just request that the source be cited when they are used.

    Actually, for Chicken Pox, there are even more horrific photos than what she used. And she did use a picture of a child with rubella, the rubeola pictures are slightly worse (like one where the skin is sloughing off).

  11. #11 John Best
    June 9, 2008

    If Kirby had listened to people from our side and learned how insidious the flu shot to pregnant mothers is in causing autism instead of falling for your dubious arguments, he would have sounded a lot more intelligent.

    Sophia,
    We do treat those kids who are unaware of anything around them like human beings by removing the mercury from their heads so they can function. Once they become aware, then it would be cruel to talk about them like that in their presence.

  12. #12 D. C. Sessions
    June 9, 2008

    John Best:

    If Kirby had listened to people from our side and learned how insidious the flu shot to pregnant mothers is in causing autism instead of falling for your dubious arguments, he would have sounded a lot more intelligent.

    Well, that’s easy enough to test. According to you, there’s a strong seasonal component to the birth dates of autistic kids.

    I’m sure you have a reason why that won’t work.

  13. #13 John Best
    June 9, 2008

    DC,
    I don’t think your thinking cap is on tight enough today. Don’t they shoot up people with flu shot mercury from about October to January? Since they could give birth the day of a flu shot and since women are pregnant for nine months, that should tell you that babies poisoned by flu shot mercury could be born on every day of the year.
    You science guys really need to think your answers through thoroughly before you write them down.

  14. #14 RJ
    June 9, 2008

    ” Don’t they shoot up people with flu shot mercury from about October to January? ”

    Huh? Most are given in October and November, so we would see most cases of autism in children born in July and August. Nope, hasn’t happened. And with flu season at a low from May to Sept., we’d expect very few children born in Feb through June to have low rates of autism. Nope, hasn’t happened either.

    John, your “explanation” is ridiculous. Listen to yourself! You’re struggling to find any explanation possible to fit your fantasy. They have a word for people like this (like you): delusional.

    BTW, thimerosal is not mercury. It is Ethyl(2-mercaptobenzoato-(2-)-O,S)
    mercurate(1-) sodium. There is a difference. One is an element, the other a compound. They are not the same thing.

  15. #15 Phoenix Woman
    June 9, 2008

    So, trace amounts of ethyl mercury that wash out of the body within a week are somehow worse than nasty, painful and invasive chelation therapy that has killed at least one child?

  16. #16 Fragano Ledgister
    June 10, 2008

    As someone who has had measles, chicken pox and mumps, I am firmly in the camp of vaccination. I had measles and chicken pox in my teens, and remember them all too well.

  17. #17 John Best
    June 10, 2008

    RJ,
    That’s about the dumbest response I’ve ever heard. I’ll explain it for you. The women who get shot up with flu shot mercury in November could give birth at any time between November and August. You see, they could be at any stage of their pregnancy when they get poisoned.

  18. #18 Lancelot Gobbo
    June 10, 2008

    As well as rubella/rubeols, you might consider that TB is hardly a good case for the success of vaccines. BCG doesn’t do much good at preventing it, and also messes up the usefulness of Mantoux testing. Otherwise great video!

  19. #19 John Best
    June 10, 2008

    Phoenix Woman,
    You’ve mislearned the facts about chelation. It is not painful or invasive. You take a couple of pills every three hours for a few days, then take 11 days off. The worst part about it is that you lose a little sleep getting up in the middle of the night to keep to the dosing schedule. There is no pain at all.

    It never killed anyone. A doctor’s malpractice did kill a kid.

    Mercury only leaves the bloodstream within a few days. It remains in the brain, kidneys, liver and intestines.

  20. #20 D. C. Sessions
    June 10, 2008

    I’m sure you have a reason why that won’t work.

    Do I know this game or what?

  21. #21 Liesl
    June 10, 2008

    Lancelot:
    Thanks! The TB addition was more personal than anything as my grandmother died of it and it profoundly changed my mother.

  22. #22 D. C. Sessions
    June 10, 2008

    John, your “explanation” is ridiculous. Listen to yourself! You’re struggling to find any explanation possible to fit your fantasy. They have a word for people like this (like you): delusional.

    You’re missing the real dynamic here. I suggested a way to dig up data that would support his belief it he’s right.

    His knee-jerk response is to deny that the method would work. What does that tell you about his true beliefs?

  23. #23 Jesse
    June 10, 2008

    John Best, Mouth Breather:
    If Kirby had listened to people from our side and learned how insidious the flu shot to pregnant mothers is in causing autism instead of falling for your dubious arguments, he would have sounded a lot more intelligent.

    OK, please cite the studies and include the controls that prove it is the flu shot and nothing else that contributes to Autism.

    You take a couple of pills every three hours for a few days, then take 11 days off. The worst part about it is that you lose a little sleep getting up in the middle of the night to keep to the dosing schedule. There is no pain at all.

    Again, please cite references and describe the mechanism. Please include studies that have examined dose-response.

    Mercury only leaves the bloodstream within a few days. It remains in the brain, kidneys, liver and intestines.
    So how could Chelation possibly provide any therapy for Mercury if the murcury ‘stays in the brain’? What if Mercury doesn’t cause Autism, which we now know to be true? What effect would chelation have?

  24. #24 Shygetz
    June 10, 2008

    Sorry, John Best, but a 39 week gestation period with an 8 week peak vaccination period leaves a blank spot of about a month on the calendar. Even if we were to accept the unsupported (and frankly ludicrous) notion that thimerasol affects fetuses at all stages of development equally (unlike every other toxin known to affect prenatal development), we would still have essentially the entire month of September for the birth of thimerasol-free babies. The rates of autism in children born in September should be staggeringly low.

    Well, are they? Or do coal-fired plants just so happen to step up their activities during September?

  25. #25 D. C. Sessions
    June 10, 2008

    Well, are they? Or do coal-fired plants just so happen to step up their activities during September?

    Doesn’t matter. Any statistician (or in my case, engineer) can put together a simple function that relates a distribution of flu shots through a distribution of delays to come up with a testable prediction of birth dates distribution for autistic kids.

    It doesn’t matter. They’ve already learned the lesson that testable predictions are to be avoided at all costs.

  26. #26 Shygetz
    June 10, 2008

    So how could Chelation possibly provide any therapy for Mercury if the murcury ‘stays in the brain’?

    Neither DMPS nor DMSA remove mercury from the brain in animal models.

    H.V. Aposhian, D.L. Morgan, H.L. Queen, R.M. Maiorino and M.M. Aposhian, Vitamin C, glutathione, or lipoic acid did not decrease brain or kidney mercury in rats exposed to mercury vapor, J. Toxicol. Clin. Toxicol. 41 (2003), pp. 339-347

    Neither DMSA nor DMPS cross the blood-brain barrier to get to mercury in the brain.

    J. Aaseth, D. Jacobsen, O. Andersen and E. Wickstrom, Treatment of mercury and lead poisonings with dimercaptosuccinic acid and sodium dimercaptopropanesulfonate, A Rev. Anal. 120 (1995), pp. 853-854

    Yet chelation with one or both of these substances magically cures a disease that really had nothing to do with mercury to begin with. And John wonders why people mock him…

  27. #27 John Best
    June 10, 2008

    Shygetz,
    Thank you. People like you mock me because you can’t present a decent argument in your defense.

    Nice try with trying to tell us how DMSA and DMPS can’t get mercury out of the brain. How convenient of you to pretend you have not heard of Alpha Lipoic Acid which we all know is part of standard chelation therapy since it is the only thing that DOES take mercury out of the brain. A disnonest jerk who wants to defend vaccine makers wouldn’t forget to mention that inetntionally, would they?

    And, trying to claim that ALL flu shots are given within an 8 week period is also honest? You should get together with the nut who thinks all women who got the flu shot in the fall got pregnant in the back seat of the car in the doctor’s parking lot so they would only have their babies exactly 9 months later. The stupidity here is precious.

  28. #28 wfjag
    June 10, 2008

    New York Magazine has published an article on autism bloggers, from Ms. Seidel to some who are anti-vax. It appears to be a fairly balanced presentation of the large spectrum of points of view. See The Autism Rights Movement at http://nymag.com/news/features/47225/index2.html

  29. #29 Lame Video
    June 10, 2008

    Sparsely attended event? Sure, Liesl.
    By the way… watch your spelling. Government.
    Also, that child with measles looked like my son a few days after his measles vaccination. The doctors called it a “viral rash” and said it had no connection with the vaccine. Sure….

  30. #30 RJ
    June 10, 2008

    John Best,

    You are missing the point. And you continue to struggle to validate a ridiculous response on your part. Tracing autism to thimerosal exposure during pregnancy would be easy. So easy, that if there was an “outbreak” of autism, they could trace it to specific doses. You really have no clue, do you?

    Where did you come up with these fantasies anyway? you wouldn’t be one of those people actually giving kids chelation therapy or work for one, would you?

  31. #31 Jesse
    June 10, 2008

    People like you mock me because you can’t present a decent argument in your defense.

    ….Says the guy who has never backed up a single word he has said and prefers to hurl childish insults.

    But that’s OK. We can easily see exactly what kind of fine, upstanding citizen you are:
    http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com/2006/03/john-bests-greatest-hits.html

  32. #32 Liesl
    June 10, 2008

    Oh dear, I made another typo! We all know how that tends to invalidate things. Typos.

  33. #33 John Best
    June 10, 2008

    Jesse,
    Thanks for posting the link to my comments. Yes, fine upstanding citizens agree with me. Who cares what you child abusers think.

    RJ,
    Who’s the genius who decided that autism could only occur in kids of women who conceived immediately before having their flu shots?

  34. #34 James Haight
    June 12, 2008

    Aah, would alpha lipoic acid be one of those nifty lipoic acids that aren’t actually approved by the FDA for use as chelating agents — mostly because of worries that it may mobilize mercury captured in peripheral tissues and re-deposit it inside the CNS? How can it be part of a “standard” chelat-.. oh, wait, it’s not like the woo-meisters would listen to anything the evil, evil FDA has to say. Never mind!

    Yearly distribution statistics aside, I’ll believe the flu-shots-are-poison claim when I see some hard data. John, even if you can’t quite wrap your head around statistics and how it’s somewhat unlikely to claim that someone’s chances of getting a flu shot during pregnancy are equal no matter how many months of their pregnancy overlap with the vaccination peak period – just going out and asking mothers whether they had a flu shot during pregnancy, and whether they have an autistic child, then tallying up the results and calculating a few ratios once you have a statistically significant total shouldn’t be beyond anyone.

  35. #35 Liesl
    June 13, 2008

    Sorry to interrupt: I was nice and removed the pictures from the rally from the above video. That, of course, means I had to remove the video and reload it. The new URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0v4NtX7yDs

  36. #36 Prometheus
    June 17, 2008

    Folks, the entity referring to itself as “John Best” is just a response-bot that looks for ‘blog posts with certain keywords (e.g. “autism”, “vaccine”, “mercury”…) and then posts randomly generated comments. Responding simply makes the responses more convoluted.

    Seriously, no live human could possibly be that resistant to reason. It has to be a ‘bot.

    Prometheus