Respectful Insolence

One of the aspects of the Barack Obama candidacy that raised my hopes and those of so many of my fellow ScienceBloggers, as well as scientists tired of the crass politicization of science under the Bush administration, was the prospect of an Administration in which science and reason were valued and in which cranks were not allowed to impose their agenda on agencies whose policies should be driven by the science. That’s one reason why I was very disturbed when I read a post on Election Day suggesting that antivaccinationist crank and activist extraordinaire, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., was being seriously considered for the position of Secretary of the Interior. Yes, in the comments a lot of you told me it was “almost certainly bullshit” or that Interior wouldn’t be a bad place for him because he really “cares” about the environment. Never mind that he’s a booster of pseudoscience, a hothead prone to comparing political enemies to Hitler and Mussolini, and a lawyer whose science background appears to be primarily torturing science to fit his agenda more than anything else. I started to rest easy for a while, convinced that the report was nothing more than idle speculation or a trial balloon. I really hoped that Obama would not jeopardize his promise to take science seriously and depoliticize it by appointing someone who would trample on science just as much as the worst ideologues in the Bush Administration, the only difference being that he’d stomp on it with his left foot instead of his right foot, if you know what I mean.

Now I’m not resting so easy anymore. There are now several reports that RFK, Jr is being considered for an even worse position, a position where he could do incalculable mischief and at the same time provide credible ammunition to Republicans that the complaints of Democratics that science was politicized under the Bush Administration were hypocritical, given that Kennedy has been politicizing science with gusto and pushing pseudoscience ever since I can remember. I’m talking about numerous reports that RFK, Jr. is being considered to be tapped to as the run the Environmental Protection Agency. He has even been quoted on that repository of all things antivaccine, The Huffington Post, as saying “if asked, I will serve.” Meanwhile, antivaccinationists like Generation Rescue founder J. B. Handley are salivating at the prospect, and, betraying liberal claims to be part of the “reality-based” community, the denizens of Democratic Underground are (mostly) orgasmic at the prospect of an RFK, Jr.-led EPA.

Say it ain’t so, Barack! Please don’t do it. It would be a huge mistake so early in your administration. By appointing such a strident and die-hard advocate of pseudoscience, in one fell swoop, you would seriously damage your credibility as a pro-science President and leave yourself open to charges that you’re just as willing to politicize science as the Bush Administration was.

I understand that politics is a dirty business. I also understand that to win frequently idealism has to be checked at the door. I even understand that some measure of political payback is often necessary, or that Obama might think he needs to do something to mollify certain wings of his Party. As Politico put it:

The selection of Kennedy would be a shrewd early move for the new presidential team. Obama advisers said the nomination would please both Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

It also would raise the profile of the EPA, which would help endear Obama to liberals who may be disappointed on other issues important to the Democratic left because of budget restrictions.

Even so, I have a hard time imagining a quicker way for Obama to put the lie to his dedication to science-based policy than to appoint such a vocal and energetic booster of the pseudoscience that mercury in vaccines cause autism into such an influential post. It would be a horrific self-inflicted wound.

Let’s consider why.

RFK, Jr. first came to my attention when he published a screed simultaneously on Salon.com and Rolling Stone, entitled Deadly Immunity, which ranted that mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be in vaccines that was so dishonest and full of misinformation and distortions that at the time I labeled it the “biggest, steamingest, drippiest turd I’ve ever seen it [Salon.com] publish.” I wasn’t alone. Skeptico famously labeled RFK, Jr.’s Deadly Immunity his “completely dishonest thimerosal article” and “lies, damned lies, and quote-mining.” Even liberal blogger Majikthise concluded that the actual transcript of the Simpsonwood Conference, described in such conspiratorial detail as a conference in which the CDC decided to cover up “smoking gun” data showing that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism didn’t come close to vindicating Kennedy’s grandiose claims and that “nothing said at Simpsonwood suggests an attempt to whitewash or cover up anything.” That didn’t stop RFK, Jr. from spewing one conspiracy theory after another about how the CDC and big pharma supposedly “covered up” a link between mercury in vaccines and autism, all the while misrepresenting the science. For example, here he is on TV around the time of Deadly Immunity:

Note one particularly outrageous example of confusing correlation with causation as RFK, Jr. points out that thimerosal first started to be used in vaccines in the 1930s and “almost immediately” the syndrome of autism was noticed. Of course, autism was first described as a syndrome in 1943 by Leo Kanner; before that there was no condition generally recognized as autism; so this observation is completely spurious, especially since there is copious evidence that behavioral syndromes that were almost certainly autism have been with us for centuries. They were just called something different.

Since that “splash” in 2005, RFK, Jr. has unrelentingly kept up his antivaccination crankery. He has not retreated even one inch, even though numerous lines of evidence, including several very large epidemiological studies, have failed to find a link between mercury and autism or vaccines and autism. For example, he misrepresented a letter to the CDC by Smith-Kline-Beecham as being evidence of some dark conspiracy by the CDC to “discourage” the removal of mercury from vaccines when it was nothing of the sort. Meanwhile, he has been launching despicable attacks against anyone who dares to call him for his antivaccine winguttery, accusing them of “hating mothers,” all the while cherry-picking studies, conspiracy-mongering, and ignoring the great mass of evidence that does not support his viewpoint. As Mark Hoofnagle put it:

The conspiracy has landed! And it’s a doozy. The CDC, the IOM, the American Association of Pediatrics, and the Pharmaceutical companies are all in cohoots! And don’t forget those bureaucrats (said through clenched teeth), you know how they’re always on the side of evil. And the Pediatricians! If kids didn’t get sick, they’d be out of a job! Clearly they want autism to be pervasive.

Because to RFK, Jr., it’s always a conspiracy, and there’s no reason to think that he wouldn’t continue his paranoid nonsense if he were put in charge of a government agency. Most recently, he gave a speech at the infamous “Green Our Vaccines” antivaccination rally, led by ex-Playmate, game show hostess, and gross-out comedienne Jenny McCarthy turned “mother warrior” against vaccines because she thinks her Google University degree trumps the science that fails to find a link between vaccines and autism:

See Kennedy praising mercury militia crank reporter Dan Olmsted, while claiming that he got “dragged into this issue” because “the truth became undeniable to me.” Never mind that three years after his mendacious article, the evidence that there is no correlation between mercury in vaccines and autism has only grown stronger, each study failing to find a correlation between mercury-containing vaccines and autism building upon the next. Indeed, the very fact that autism rates have not declined by now, seven years after the removal thimerosal from nearly every childhood vaccine is about as powerful an epidemiological experiment to test the hypothesis that mercury in vaccines causes autism as there could be. The hypothesis has clearly failed this test, as well as many others. On this issue, RFK, Jr. is, quite frankly, a crank, a crackpot, a nut, a booster of pseudoscience, as he proclaims that he agrees with mothers who think that vaccines are are “destroying the health” of their children and making the “sickest generation of American children in the history of our country.” His speech, as expected, is thick with conspiracy theories and in the third part he attacks Dr. Paul Offit, whom he famously called a “biostitute.”

I wonder if the Obama transition team has seen this talk. It’s an amazingly concentrated piece of pure crankery, and he gave it in June.

So what? You say. The Head of the EPA doesn’t have anything to do with vaccines. True enough. But RFK, Jr. has demonstrated himself on this issue not only to be prone to dubious science, but to have become a true believer in one of the most outrageous and dangerous forms of pseudoscience out there: antivaccinationism, or vaccine rejectionism. If you’re trying to build an administration ostensibly devoted to using the best science as the basis for public policy, and the EPA is one agency where that is incredibly important, you do not want someone who is so prone to pseudoscience and promoting misinformation running that agency. Moreover, RFK, Jr’s tendency to play fast and loose with science goes beyond mercury in vaccines and into the very area where he claims expertise, the environment, where he blames Katrina on global warming, for instance (not even Al Gore does that). Indeed, his assaults on fact and science are legendary, right up to describing the small Cuyahoga River fire (which lasted only 30 minutes and was never caught on film) as “exploding in colossal infernos.” Apparently, any “science” is good to him, as long as it appears to support his agenda. Add to that his “not in my backyard” hypocrisy in opposing a proposal to build wind power turbines off of Martha’s Vineyard, and it’s hard for me to comprehend how Obama could consider him for a post even for a moment.

Indeed, his autism crankery aside, let’s not forget also that RFK, Jr. is utterly unqualified to run a major government agency, his environmentalist activities notwithstanding. The EPA is a sprawling bureaucracy charged with converting environmental law into concrete regulations and then enforcing those regulations. It takes a strong managerial skill set to run such an organization. Is there any evidence that RFK, Jr. has the managerial chops to run a bureaucracy as large and complex as the EPA? None that I can see. Certainly he doesn’t have the temperament for such a task. He’s always seeing dark conspiracies everywhere and is prone to fly off the handle and conflate policy disagreements with evil in the form of Adolf Hitler. (The Hitler Zombie has feasted well and long on RFK, Jr.’s brain!) I wonder if he’ll start seeing dark conspiracies against him whenever things don’t go his way as Head of the EPA or Secretary of the Interior. I think you know the answer to that one. After all, he’s been quoted thusly about reporters who don’t report what he thinks they should report, “They should all drink poison Kool Aid and restore integrity to their profession.” Indeed, the only good thing about RFK, Jr. in the EPA would be the amusement and schadenfreude that his likely hyperbolic attacks on his former allies the first time policy differences lead them to sue the EPA over an environmental issue would provide. That’s the only good thing, though.

Finally, not only would letting RFK, Jr. anywhere near Interior or the EPA allow him to insinuate his pseudoscience into government policy, RFK, Jr. would be a profound embarrassment to the embryonic Obama Administration right from the start. His temperament, his tendency towards conspiracy-mongering and calling his opponents “Nazis” or “traitors,” and his credulity towards pseudoscience that allows him to cast himself as the Great Defender Of The Underdog would provide endless ammunition for Republicans to use against the Obama Administration. Worse, in most cases Obama’s opponents would be right: RFK, Jr. could be expected to politicize science every bit as much as the Bush Administration was accused of doing, just from a different political viewpoint. If the Bush Administration’s politicizing of science was so bad, why should it be any more acceptable from Democrats?

It shouldn’t.

I voted for Obama in part because, after eight years of the Bush Administration, I hoped that Obama would be pro-science where the Republicans politicized beyond recognition science that conflicts with their ideology. I still have that hope, but it’s being shaken by these increasingly plausible reports that RFK, Jr. is indeed being seriously considered for either a Cabinet post or to lead the EPA. While it’s understandable that Democrats might want some push-back after eight years out of the Executive Branch, the way to stop the politicization of science is not to replace Republican ideologues and cranks with Democrat ideologues and cranks. That’s exactly what putting the antivaccine crank RFK, Jr. anywhere near a government position would be. All Obama would succeed in doing is to make antivaccinationists very, very happy, antivaccinationists like Ginger Taylor.

I sincerely hope Obama doesn’t let RFK, Jr. anywhere near the Cabinet or a federal agency. The foul odor of his pseudoscience would taint his administration from day one and mock his promise to run a “pro-science” administration. Even if Obama did everything else right regarding federal science policy, the stench of RFK, Jr.’s crankery would contaminate everything it comes in contact with. Worse, appointing RFK, Jr. to a position involved in science-based policy making would be a profound betrayal of his promise.

Barack Obama can do much, much better than RFK, Jr.–and should, for the nation’s sake. For science’s sake.

My RFK, Jr./Department of the Interior/EPA posts:

  1. Why did someone have to kill my election buzz?
  2. Say it ain’t so, Barack! Say you ain’t seriously considering Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to run the EPA!
  3. Contact the Obama transition team to tell them why Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is a truly bad choice for any science-based government post
  4. My last word on RFK, Jr…for now

OTHER COMMENTARY:

  1. You’ve got yourself an unconfirmable nominee
  2. A Kennedy in the Cabinet?
  3. That’s Not Pseudoscience We Can Believe In
  4. Controversial Appointments & Cliffhangers
  5. Robert’s rules? Obama considers RFK Jr. for EPA

Comments

  1. #1 Paul
    November 6, 2008

    I saw this mentioned briefly in the press this morning, and was hoping that it was a mistake. I’m just hoping that the science advisors who have been guiding Obama through the election campaign manage to convince him of how great a mistake the appointment of RFK, Jr to any science related post would be. If not then everything will depend on his other appointments, especially the choice of scientific advisor.

  2. #2 Katie
    November 6, 2008

    I agree with an earlier comment that you should post this on DailyKos if you are registered there. I too hope it’s not true. I have spent my entire adult life thus far lamenting the abuses of the Bush administration and I would so hate to see the same abuses repeated from the other (MY) side. I might have to really run away to New Zealand.

  3. #3 JKW
    November 6, 2008

    Obama can do better than this crank. Political favors be damned, after what we’ve been through we americans need better than this crank.

  4. #4 Em
    November 6, 2008

    So what can I do?

  5. #5 Ranson
    November 6, 2008

    Hey, Orac; Timothy Noah over at Slate agrees with you. That’s a pretty good outlet, at least.

  6. #6 Orac
    November 6, 2008

    I agree with an earlier comment that you should post this on DailyKos if you are registered there.

    I’m not registered there. Why would I want to be? The Kos crowd is a lot like the DU crowd that’s cheering on an potential RFK, Jr. appointment. I see little point.

  7. #7 Coturnix
    November 6, 2008

    No, DailyKos is much better and smarter crowd than DU (or Huffington for that matter). There are thousands of scientists there, and occasional crank diary gets quickly and firmly shot down by the crowd. Perhaps ask DarkSyde to repost this as a guest-post.

  8. #8 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    How long until the Oprah Obama God Man Messiah hype machine latches on to this and takes up the Anti-vax crusade as a show of support for Obama’s possible choice of RFK Jr?

    And yes I voted for Obama.

  9. #9 Dan
    November 6, 2008

    This post warms my heart. Only two days after this socialist is elected, here’s a critic of an administration that hasn’t even started. This is likely only the beginning. Too bad so many Americans were swayed by the ear candy from Obama.

  10. #10 Sunwarm
    November 6, 2008

    Perhaps a letter signed by ScienceBlog bloggers highlighting RFK’s disservice to science might get the attention of the transition team?

  11. #11 dean
    November 6, 2008

    this is a concern, and while objections should be raised, we should also realize these are ‘early rumors’. we can hope for a different result.

    re Dan’s comment: if he hadn’t displayed his ignorance by throwing out the “socialist” foolishness, he might have had something worth reading.

    sound’s like he’s just sad america wasn’t swayed by the fapping candy his party served up as VP.

  12. #12 TomJoe
    November 6, 2008

    Meet the new boss,
    Same as the old boss.

  13. #13 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    This post warms my heart. Only two days after this socialist is elected, here’s a critic of an administration that hasn’t even started. This is likely only the beginning. Too bad so many Americans were swayed by the ear candy from Obama.

    What a ridiculous comment. I’ll be critical of decisions he makes just the same as any elected official. I voted for him because I fully expect him to make less than the man that was in office the last 8 years (shouldn’t be hard to beat that mark) and less than the man he ran against. In addition I expect him to more us forward as a nation instead of stuck in the 1950s.

    With the news pouring out from the McCain campaign after the election, if he would have run the country anything like his campaign, we made the right choice.

    Now lets hope Obama doesn’t make this choice. Even if he does it’s but one among many.

  14. #14 Orac
    November 6, 2008

    Perhaps ask DarkSyde to repost this as a guest-post.

    Alright, I’ll give it a try. I like DarkSyde. But I’m skeptical that Daily Kos would be interested. In fact, I bet if he posts it the defenders of RFK, Jr. will come out of the woodwork to attack me.

  15. #15 Irrradiatus
    November 6, 2008

    This should be posted and linked everywhere. Hopefully if we make enough noise it will come to the attention of his science advisers, if they don’t already know.

    I’ve had alot of confidence that Obama will surround himself with truly smart advisers. Lets hope he lives up to it…

  16. #16 Sarabeth
    November 6, 2008

    I wrote the Obama camp just last night about this issue.

  17. #17 Irrradiatus
    November 6, 2008

    Orac:

    I’m not registered there. Why would I want to be? The Kos crowd is a lot like the DU crowd that’s cheering on an potential RFK, Jr. appointment. I see little point.

    I’ve spent alot of time at Kos, and I must say that on the whole it is a fairly intelligent crowd. However, they, like most of the public, is probably ill-informed when it comes to vaccines and other such pseudoscience. Hell I know of scientists in my OWN lab that have bought into the thimerosol crap.

    If you post or link it over there, or just send them your link, it might be very beneficial to spread the information. We can’t expect everyone to understand if we don’t educate them.

    My point is that I think they’re a crowd that might listen.

  18. #18 Irrradiatus
    November 6, 2008

    Note: I’ve emailed John at AmericaBlog with this info. He’s a pretty smart guy and may just call attention to it.

  19. #19 CyberLizard
    November 6, 2008

    Orac:

    I bet if he posts it the defenders of RFK, Jr. will come out of the woodwork to attack me.

    C’mon, you’re not afraid of a little controversy, are you? ;-)

  20. #20 wolfwalker
    November 6, 2008

    [snigger.wav]

    You were warned: this socialist bastard is just another politician, and the “change” he promised was all pure humbug. You chose to ignore the warning. Now you get to live with the consequences.

    Politics and science are natural enemies. Politicians believe that perception can change reality. Science believes that reality is always the same regardless of perception. The two worldviews are fundamentally incompatible. Science and scientists don’t gain anything from associating with politicians, and never have — except for the discrediting of their science in the eyes of almost everyone who disagrees with them politically. Evolution, vaccines, global climate change, conservation, pharmaceuticals, stem-cell research, petro-geology, power generation, species and habitat management — the list goes on and on. When science gets politicized, scientists and the public both lose.

  21. #21 D. C. Sessions
    November 6, 2008

    May I suggest a brilliant counter-nomination?

    President-elect Obama has stated that he wants prominent Republicans in his administration. Well, how about a Republican who has the perfect resume for running the EPA: Christine Todd Whitman, who was the head of the EPA before being driven out for doing the job too well?

  22. #22 David Marjanovi?
    November 6, 2008

    Only two days after this socialist is elected

    Oh ignoramus. Obama would fit comfortably into any of Europe’s big conservative parties (except in Ireland, Poland, Italy and presumably Lithuania, and that only because he’s not Catholic enough). I know what a Socialist/Social Democratic party in power really does, and Obama’s program is simply not the same.

    It goes without saying that Mc90%Same would be an off-the-map reactionary by European standards, or AFAIK Canadian, Australian, NZ, or Japanese ones.

  23. #23 David Marjanovi?
    November 6, 2008

    Incidentally, Kerry, both Clintons, and AFAIK Gore would be considered conservative over here, too. Down to details like “let’s have gay marriage, except for the word ‘marriage'”.

  24. #24 Enkidu
    November 6, 2008

    I heard this bit of news on the radio while on the way home from work yesterday and almost drove off the road. I’ll keep an eye here for news on the best way to voice an opinion against this appointment.

  25. #25 DrFrank
    November 6, 2008

    I’m agreeing with David here – certainly in the UK, the Democrats would basically be our Conservative party, and the Republicans would be a right-wing-insane-fringe party that people would cross the road to avoid.

  26. #26 SLC
    November 6, 2008

    May I suggest the following approach.

    If somebody who reads this blog and who knows Representative Bill Foster from Illinois could contact the congressman and urge him to meet with his collegue, Representative Rahm Emmanuel, also from Illinois on this matter, this might be a way of putting the kibosh on this proposed appointment. Representative Emmanual is apparently slated to become President Elect Obamas’ chief of staff and it is likely that he would be in a position to counsel otherwise.

  27. #27 Lilly de Lure
    November 6, 2008

    DrFrank

    I’m agreeing with David here – certainly in the UK, the Democrats would basically be our Conservative party, and the Republicans would be a right-wing-insane-fringe party that people would cross the road to avoid.

    But he’s not over here is he? He’s an American politician, playing to an American electorate and in that background it’s safe to say that he’s roughly left of centre, rather than to the right of it as he would be if he was campaigning over here. Since he is the president-elect of the US and it’s US politics we’re discussing though, isn’t it a bit silly to use European definitions of left and right to decide where he is? It’s not as though those definitions were carved in stone anyway, they’re convenient (or in this case not-so-convenient) political shorthand.

    You can however certainly take issue with the term socialist used to describe Barack Obama. Unlike “right” or “left” wing this is not a term relative to the political tides, it is a much more specific term, refering to a specific ideology and is associated with a specific programme which Barack Obama does not appear to share.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

  28. #28 DrFrank
    November 6, 2008

    Hey Lilly :)

    I wasn’t really suggesting that Americans should use our definitions of political left/right, just mainly pointing out how crazy the Republicans would be perceived over here ;) Reminding my Democrat Merkin friends of this fact tends to cheer them up.

  29. #29 bsci
    November 6, 2008

    Don’t make too many assumptions about Daily Kos. It is a very diverse readership with a significant fact-based population.
    Here are two pro RFK Jr EPA diaries:
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/11/5/142039/683
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/5/15421/1148/193/654749

    You’ll notice that there is some agreement, but also strong, fact-based disagreement. Neither diary was highly recommended meaning that these opinions don’t get huge traction on the site yet.

  30. #30 McCaniac
    November 6, 2008

    Only two days after the election, and the bloom is off the rose. Told you so.

  31. #31 Clark
    November 6, 2008

    No, DailyKos is much better and smarter crowd than DU (or Huffington for that matter).

    Umm…

    DailyKos is like listening to Rush Limbaugh too long.

    If you want to do something write in letters to the major papers (WaPo, NYT, and even WSJ). If the press gets wind of this before Obama makes his decision there’s opportunity to reverse it. Thinking that the Daily Kos (even if you think they aren’t political hacks) has influence over Obama is silly. Bad major press will have an influence.

    Someone mentioned putting a Republican in the role. I think that politically that is just a non-starter. You are going to have to placate the far left of the party with this position. While having a very competent moderate over either the DOE or EPA would be practically wise it would also be politically dumb. I could handle an ideologue there if they were simultaneously competent, a good manager, and listened to the science rather than trying to dictate to the science.

    I understand Obama was a student of Reagan and Clinton. One hopes he was of Bush as well if only to learn what not to do. And if he appoints Kennedy he is making exactly the same kinds of mistakes Bush did. And it will have the same consequences.

  32. #32 Joel
    November 6, 2008

    Don’t make too many assumptions about Daily Kos. It is a very diverse readership with a significant fact-based population.i>

    LOL, you’ve got to be kidding?

  33. #33 Natalie
    November 6, 2008

    I find it funny and a bit telling that some conservatives see it has bad to be criticizing the person one voted for. Seriously, adults can manage to consider a person the best available for the job and also disagree with some of their decisions or rumored decisions.

  34. #34 Josh
    November 6, 2008

    I agree with the general sentiment that you have to get this news out to someone, be it kos or a major newspaper or ANYTHING. There’s too much at stake for us to sit idly by.

  35. #35 D. C. Sessions
    November 6, 2008

    Someone mentioned putting a Republican in the role. I think that politically that is just a non-starter. You are going to have to placate the far left of the party with this position. While having a very competent moderate over either the DOE or EPA would be practically wise it would also be politically dumb. I could handle an ideologue there if they were simultaneously competent, a good manager, and listened to the science rather than trying to dictate to the science.

    The reason that Whitman was run out of the Bush Administration was precisely that she wouldn’t put up with having Dick Cheney dictating the contents of EPA reports that her staff produced.

    In other words, this is a woman who actually (how European!) resigned a high-level post in protest rather than allow prostitution of science on her watch.

    Does anyone have a problem with that?

  36. #36 Prometheus
    November 6, 2008

    It may be very difficult for Obama to resist putting RFK, Jr. on his cabinet in some position. After all, Obama got a serious “boost” when he needed it from the Kennedy clan. And apart from Edward (Senator for Mass.) and Patrick (Representative for Rhode Island), who’s left in the family to reward? RFK, Jr. is the only one without a government job.

    That said, I would hope that Obama might place RFK, Jr. in a positions where his documented crankery would be less of a problem – transportation, perhaps, or labor or housing and urban development. We’ll just have to hope for the best and see how it all shakes out in the end.

    Prometheus

  37. #37 Bronze Dog
    November 6, 2008

    This post warms my heart. Only two days after this socialist is elected, here’s a critic of an administration that hasn’t even started. This is likely only the beginning. Too bad so many Americans were swayed by the ear candy from Obama.

    Well, you obviously haven’t been paying attention to any of our political views. I’ve never seen any of my blogging friends gush over Obama. He was a compromise from the start. I was planning on criticizing him long before I even entered the voting booth. He’s not perfect, and by criticizing him I hope to counteract the side effect of picking the lesser of two evils.

    What mostly swayed me to vote for Obama was what McCain and Palin were saying. If they got in office, they’d be getting far worse from me with more consistency.

    Oh, and of course, McCain apparently expanded “socialism” to mean the government doing anything with taxes.

  38. #38 Despard
    November 6, 2008

    I’ve actually already linked it a couple of times over at DailyKos already (I have been kind of obsessed with this election despite not being American and living in Britain) in response to some RFK suggestions.

    It might change some minds, or at least bring some Kossacks over here to argue their point.

  39. #39 rj5
    November 6, 2008

    [quote]That said, I would hope that Obama might place RFK, Jr. in a positions where his documented crankery would be less of a problem – transportation, perhaps, or labor or housing and urban development. We’ll just have to hope for the best and see how it all shakes out in the end[/quote]

    Interior?

  40. #40 Dave Ruddell
    November 6, 2008

    There is a diary on this at Daily Kos. There are some informed commenters:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/11/5/15421/1148

  41. Isn’t pseudoscience to some extent compartmentalized in some people? In fact, I know it is. The equivalent of vaccine crankery is seen all the time in race related issues. I can think of numerous physicists, chemists, etc. who are fine in their own area but get the biology (=science) of race, and also, evolutionary biology, totally wrong.

    The EPA does not regulate vaccines. Perhaps RFKJR will be outstanding in this post.

  42. #42 Joseph O'Sullivan
    November 6, 2008

    Remember that RFK jr was arrested and convicted for heroin possession. How many senators will vote to confirm a former heroin addict?

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0DE7DF1039F934A25750C0A962948260

  43. #43 Orac
    November 6, 2008

    Unfortunately, RFK, Jr.’s pseudoscience is not well compartmentalized, and he’s a NIMBY hypocrite as well. Moreover, impressions count. Barack Obama claims to be pro-science. To appoint someone with such a glaring hole in his critical thinking and scientific reasoning abilities sends a very bad message even if you were right and RFK, Jr. can completely compartmentalize. Remember, he’s not just wrong, he is a crusader for wrong when it comes to vaccines.

    Finally, yes, the EPA does not regulate vaccines, but it does regulate mercury in the environment. RFK, Jr. passionately believes that mercury causes autism and buys into the dubious science claiming that mercury from power plant emissions causes autism. Now, there are good health reasons to regulate such emissions, but arguing for them on the bogus claim that they cause autism is not the way to convince people that it is worth the expense and trouble.

  44. #44 Mekei
    November 6, 2008

    Quick, where can I buy my “Don’t blame me! I voted for McCain” bumper sticker? The campaign is over, I’m not bitter, really.

    This is simple payback to the Kennedys for backing BO over HRC in the DNC primary. Caroline is headed to the UN as US Ambassador too.

    Paybacks are a bitch.

  45. #45 ]Thomas Mc
    November 6, 2008

    It couldn’t get much worse than making Zionist extremist Rahm Emanuel Chief of Staff.

    There will be no peace in Palestine while Emanuel is in the White House.

  46. #46 Evinfuilt
    November 6, 2008

    Everything is a conspiracy to him. Including his latest conspiracy not coming true, that was done just to disprove its existence.

  47. #47 Evinfuilt
    November 6, 2008

    May I suggest a brilliant counter-nomination?

    President-elect Obama has stated that he wants prominent Republicans in his administration. Well, how about a Republican who has the perfect resume for running the EPA: Christine Todd Whitman, who was the head of the EPA before being driven out for doing the job too well?

    This needs to be pushed. She did an excellent job, and refused to rewrite reports to fall in line with the Republican Party.

    Though, if he wants, there are I believe 3 scientists (non-medical) in Congress, and he could actually persuade one of them. A physicist in charge of the EPA would be a whole lot better than a conspiracy theorist.

  48. #48 Phil Dirte'
    November 6, 2008

    The Kennedy name is powerful and having an activist as head of EPA is more than fine, because the head position is all showbiz and Cspan. The deeper and more important question is, are there any scientists left at EPA or were they purged during the Dark Ages, when the EPA libraries were closed and the GOP’s Liberty University hit squad for God ran rampant over every department? It might be that only creation scientists and the Discovery Institute welfare queens are working over there.

  49. #49 Tlazolteotl
    November 6, 2008

    William Ruckelshaus is a Republican who also did an excellent job as EPA head (though I think he’s a bit busy trying to improve the health of Puget Sound at the present). But I do have an idea I’d like to float. How about Steve Novick? He’s a Dem, ran in the primary along with Jeff Merkley for Gordon Smith’s senate seat. Merkley just won that seat. Novick was a litigator at DOJ on Love Canal, so I would think he has a decent appreciation for science and hot to use good science to make policy. It’s an idea; in any case, I think he would be a far better candidate than Kennedy.

  50. #50 Elaine
    November 6, 2008

    You can send suggestions on this web page:

    http://www.change.gov/page/s/ofthepeople

    Might be worthwhile?

  51. #51 Patrick
    November 6, 2008

    Siding with D.C. for suggesting Christine Whitman, reach across the aisle and put someone who has been in the spot already. (Should she decide to accept.)

    Someone somewhere mentioned that this RFKjr appointment would placate the kennedys/clintons, or help acknowledge their endorsements. While it may, it would be some of the same good ole boy bovine excrement, versus change.

    We do not need woo in the EPA, and RFKjr has been demonstrated to be on the woo wagon.

  52. #52 Phil
    November 6, 2008

    I am going to be really upset if RFK jr gets the post. In the event he does, I think we should start a public campaign to shame him into repudiating the vaccine autism link.

  53. #53 David Harmon
    November 6, 2008

    I just sent the O-man a letter at http://www.Change.gov, where he’s put up a lot of position papers and other material.

  54. #54 Tom T.
    November 6, 2008

    Relax, ORAC. They’ll reward RFK Jr. with some smaller sub-agency instead. Maybe FDA?

  55. #55 zpmorgan
    November 6, 2008

    I’m apposed to dynasties in general. RFK, Hillary, GWB, etc. seem to be horrible candidates for anything.

  56. #56 MBA
    November 6, 2008

    A few weeks ago I said that many of you who voted for Obama hoping for less pseudoscience in government would soon be eating your hat… Clinton started the NCCAM and now this… I am willing to provide the hat.

  57. #57 Orac
    November 6, 2008

    Relax, ORAC. They’ll reward RFK Jr. with some smaller sub-agency instead. Maybe FDA?

    That’s not funny.

  58. #58 JLowe
    November 6, 2008

    It may not matter terribly who’s EPA administrator anyway. The Bush administration essentially put the OMB in charge of environmental rulemaking, which I’ll bet doesn’t change with a new administration. The EPA regions are pretty independent when it comes to enforcement priorities. The labs are also pretty independent, with their own congressional sponsors. Headquarters churns a lot of stuff out, but the real action is in the regions and labs. Watch for who fills those leadership positions.

    I’ll believe we’re serious about environmental protection the day it’s made a cabinent position. . . .

  59. #59 DLC
    November 6, 2008

    Aside from anything else, Kennedy is a trial lawyer who has made his money off of environmental lawsuits. This alone should be enough to bar him from serving as chief of the EPA.

  60. #60 Renee
    November 6, 2008

    I’m a chemist who does contract work for the EPA in Washington, and I have meetings there occasionally. There’s a group of about 12 chemists that I deal with mainly.

    I think that Christine Todd-Whitman would be an excellent choice to run the EPA again. Someone who’s a good manager, has goals and would not be a lap dog. Unlike the current Administrator Johnson, who’s a lap dog for the Bush White House.

    What the EPA does not need is a person who’s too far out there, who is not likely to listen to the technical staff at the EPA, and who may be swayed more by opinion than by facts.

    That being said, the EPA is certainly an unusual place, from my experiences. One of the things that really slows down the technical/regulatory work in Washington is the turf battles between different branches within the EPA. One groups insists they should be in charge of a certain regulatory program, while another group will protest this, go off and duplicate work that the first group has done, then neither group coordinates their work with each other. An incredible amount of time (and money) is wasted over these turf battles, and there’s no upper management that seems willing to step in and do something about it. Perhaps this is just the way that Federal agencies operate. Some of these battles have dragged on for years.

    And to warm your hearts even further – the EPA chemist who I deal with the most believes in homeopathy. He is actually very knowledgable about the regulatory work that he’s in charge of, and certainly has listened to my technical arguments when we discuss aspects of my work. But he’s told me that he’s taken homeopathic remedies, and he appeared to have a positive opinion of them.

    (When I heard him tell me this, I immediately thought: if only ORAC were listening to this conversation)

  61. #61 Devin
    November 6, 2008

    not only is RFK Jr. an environmental hypocrite (do as I say, not as I do), he also has a LOT of personal baggage (busted for heroin, divorced his 1st wife 3 weeks before marrying 2nd wife, who was already 6 mos. pregnant!)& more issues that will come back to haunt both Kennedy and Obama.

    We’ve had enough drug and sex scandals in D.C. We want a gov’t we can trust. Obama needs to select cabinet officials with integrity, RFK JR. is not that man.

  62. #62 The Chemist
    November 6, 2008

    Most important question you leave unanswered Orac:

    What can we do? Write a letter? Okay. Give me the address. Honestly, just point me in the right direction here.

  63. #63 lylebot
    November 6, 2008

    Is it possible they’re just floating the name to see how it plays with their various constituencies? (I learned that one from The Wire.) Does RFK Jr. actually carry any weight among any politically connected center-left groups? I’m honestly asking; I don’t know the answer.

  64. #64 MissFifi
    November 6, 2008

    I myself have never been a fan of the Kennedy Clan and I certainly have never understood the “camelot” BS people say all the time. Between the vaccines and the wind power flip flop, RFK jr, not too bright. We need someone educated & willing to listen, not some lapdog or extremist, of either party. that being said, in regards to the stupid “socialist” comments. What type of American would I be if I did not state my opinions on what my chosen candidate was doing?? You certainly would not have agreed with everything McCain did and if you did you would be full of it.

  65. #65 peter green
    November 6, 2008

    I think you are missing the point in that he is not a scientist, nor is he being asked to be a scientist. He is a politician being asked to fill a political position to which, I must say, he is very well suited. Science can prove whatever it wants, it all depends who is funding the experiment. What is your agenda? In my book, those who can’t see there is a relationship between vaccines and autism are either blind or have vested interest in pharmaceuticals.

  66. #66 Orac
    November 6, 2008

    Congratulations! We have the pharma shill gambit combined with a credulous swallowing of the antivaccinationist myth that vaccines cause autism.

  67. #67 Bronze Dog
    November 6, 2008

    Science can prove whatever it wants, it all depends who is funding the experiment.

    And all it takes is perfectly bribing the hundreds to thousands of people involved in each one, as well as silencing all the university and international results that don’t jive with the rich people.

  68. #68 Ben Gorman
    November 6, 2008

    Not only do I hope that RFK gets EPA, but I’m hoping David Graham gets FDA and that we get universal health care for all, so that these greedy asshole doctors have to treat poor people, for once.

    Go Obama!

  69. #69 David
    November 6, 2008

    I saw Howard Dean on CNN today. He was asked if he was being considered for any positions in Obama’s office. He said anyone willing to talk about the chances had no chance. Hopefully that holds true for RFK Jr. and his comments.

  70. #70 Orac
    November 7, 2008

    Not only do I hope that RFK gets EPA, but I’m hoping David Graham gets FDA and that we get universal health care for all, so that these greedy asshole doctors have to treat poor people, for once.

    “For once”? I already treat poor people.

  71. #71 Elaine
    November 7, 2008

    Science can prove whatever it wants, it all depends who is funding the experiment.

    That’s not science.

  72. #72 Matt Heath
    November 7, 2008

    Hi, I’m not an American so if this isn’t how things work then ignore me. I was thinking that you might you might be better concentrating on organising a petition or letter writing campaign focusing on scientists and medical professionals rather than the Democratic Party netroots. They are the best people to explain his bad record on taking the best scientific advice, and if you got some big names on there you might be able to get some press coverage (like the Nobel laureates for Obama did).

  73. #73 JBlilie
    November 7, 2008

    We really need a corrective here: These not-inoculated kids of the anti-vaccination wing nuts need to have a nice epidemic of, say, measles, mups, diptheria, etc. and plenty of fatalities. It’s already happening: we had some minor measles epidemics in the last few years.

    Let’s see: combine antibiotic resistence and silly people not having their kids inoculated. Wonder what’s going to happen.

    Basically, it’s been way too long (several generations) since effective vaccination for childhood diseases have been widespread. Young parents now have never experienced, for instance, seeing friends paralyzed by polio or killed by measles. They’ve forgotten what disease is about; they’ve become complacent. (I say they rather than we because I think informed people do understand the need for vaccination.) The “refusers” are taking a free ride on the rest of us: our immunity protects them (somewhat) as well as us.

    The vaccination refusal movement goes hand in hand with the religous wing nuts in, for instance, Africa who resist vaccination to eradicate polio and other diseases.

    Vaccination is the most effective medical procedure ever devised. It has saved more lives than any other medical procedure. It, more than anything else, has allowed parents in the developed world to feel comfortable rasing small (rather than large) numbers of children, confident that these few will survive into their parents’ old age. (Other powerfully effective life-saving methods: better food production and effective sanitation, are not medical procedures.)

    Wake up people! The propensity of people to gravitate to junk thought like that offered by the anti-vaccination crowd is just another facet of our credulity and innate desire to believe supernatural nonsense. Grow up!

    I have to say this though: President-Elect Barack Obama, baby! I’m sure he’ll make appointments we don’t care for, and RFK Jr. would be one of them; but, please consider the alternative!

  74. #74 MC
    November 7, 2008

    Is it possible they’re just floating the name to see how it plays with their various constituencies?

    It is possible. It seems more likely to this reader that it is a lobbying effort by RFK Jr. or his supporters. All the articles on this seem to be sourcing back to Politico
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15320.html

    While they source people in the Obama team when they say that Caroline Kennedy may not accept the UN Ambassadorship, they cite “democratic officials” for the RFK rumor–not people inside the Obama team.

    Why bring up EPA on day one of the transition?

    Who knows what is really going on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was an effort to create buzz from the Kennedy supporters.

  75. #75 Orac
    November 7, 2008

    I sincerely hope you’re right and that that’s all this is. On the other hand, better to do all we can to nip this in the bud if we can.

  76. #76 MemeInjector3000
    November 7, 2008

    Here’s a better choice for EPA or Interior: Al Gore. Let Obama be accommodating and bipartisan in other departments — we Democrats need some payback somewhere. He is so despised by the Right, he would be perfect. (Yes, I know he’s not a scientist, but he respects and listens to scientists, is an effective popularizer, and would elevate the status of environmental issues.) Let the flames begin!

  77. #77 Michael Enquist
    November 7, 2008

    In case no one has mentioned it yet, the new adminsitration has a web page change.gov, where one can leave comments about described and purported actions they are going to take.

    There’s even a jobs tab, so one could apply to be EPA head, perhaps?

  78. #78 LFP
    November 7, 2008

    Reports are coming in about other names in the running for EPA:

    “Robert Sussman, environmental lawyer; Howard Learner, a longtime Obama environmental adviser and the executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago; Mary Nichols, an appointee of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) who leads the California Air Resources Board; former New Jersey DEP chief Brad Campbell; former Pennsylvania environment secretary Kathleen McGinty; World Resources Institute President Jonathan Lash; and Ian Bowles, the head of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.”

    RFK is just a rumour at this point.

    Details: http://climateprogress.org/2008/11/06/whos-handling-epa-transition-and-who-might-get-the-top-jobs/#more-4160

  79. #79 Patrick
    November 7, 2008

    inspired by previous comments

    If RFK jr is appointed to anything but the transition team there will be a resurgence of dip-theorya on capitol hill.

  80. #80 bsci
    November 7, 2008

    FYI, this is now on the very top of the frontpage of dailykos
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/7/8140/84940/439/656545
    by Darksyde:

    Divided We Fall
    If you’re wondering what all the fuss ia about, make no mistake, this issue can be bitterly divisive (Watch what happens in comments below if you doubt this). On one side is a consensus of scientists and researchers from every political corner who calmly point out that the science and methodology supporting a connection between thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) and autism is just not there, at least not now. On the other is a group of parents motivated by the presence of an autistic child or relative. Add in claims of massive, global conspiracies and celebrity demagoguery, and that mix might tip over from divisive to explosive.

    A nascent administration adverse to drama, focused on creating unity, and committed to restoring scientific credibility, would be well advised to choose the most credible, qualified person they can find.

  81. #81 kyril
    November 7, 2008

    I followed a link trail over here from DKos and wanted to let you know I appreciate the information – I wasn’t aware of some of this. I’ve already contacted the transition team about my concerns about Dr. Summers, and will do the same re. Kennedy. Thanks.

  82. #82 Liz D
    November 7, 2008

    Reason Magazine’s Michael C. Moynihan:

    Kennedy is a well-know 2004 election conspiracy theorist who is under the impression that we are all being held hostage in fascist America. Ho-hum. So would you be surprised to learn that RFK II is also a Chavista? Of course not!

    Check out the video below to watch the Kook of Camelot argue in favor of the nationalization of oil companies and argue that Chavez is the “kind of leader my father and President Kennedy were looking for” in Latin America.

    Mark Landy in the Boston Herald

    Marc Landy, a Boston College political science professor who wrote a book on the EPA, said Robert Kennedy would be an “innappropriate” pick for the EPA post, which he described as “one of the hardest” public management jobs in government.

    “It’s not a good place to make a kind of symbolic appointment,” Landy said yesterday. “You need a pro.”

    The professor said Kennedy was an “estimable environmentalist” and consciousness raiser about the issue but he’s not a public manager. “It’s innappropriate. It’s wrong,” Landy said. “Government is not all about symbol and impulse, it’s an awful lot of grinding, managerial work.”

  83. #83 Eric
    November 7, 2008

    I made my way here from NeuroLogica after reading Dr. Novella’s post on the topic. I wrote an email via the Change.gov website and hope that everyone else will at least do that too.

    Contact the Transition Team

  84. #84 Paz3
    November 7, 2008

    Orac, the abrasiveness of your language in your original post is no better than what you accuse RFK, Jr of.

    Is your style to alienate, initially? Sounds very pedantic, and, oh, say, Nazi-like…

    I kid you, but I did get this article at The Daily Kos, so your ranting about that site is misplaced.

    I am a supporter of liberal causes, with no shame about that, yet I read your post with an open mind, although I was uncomfortable with the ad hominem attacks on RFK, Jr. Well, you surely do not care how I feel, nor should you, but if you are attempting to dissuade the Obama administration from what you see as a bad choice you ought to act a bit more mature, it will be far more effective.

    As to your concerns about being attacked (say, by Daily Kos posters) grow a set. Our Prez-elect had to, so follow an example of rising above what’s invalid.

    In conclusion, if RFK, Jr is a bad choice, and your argument has merit – and it may, I don’t support pseudoscience either – then get more focused on the matter and leave your frustrations aside. It will serve you far better.

  85. #85 Eric
    November 7, 2008

    and I see that you have since posted a new blog telling your readers to do the same. Maybe I should have gone to your main page before replying. Cheers :)

  86. #86 Paz3
    November 7, 2008

    Orac, the abraisveness of your language in your original post is no better than what you accuse RFK, Jr of.

    Is your style to alienate, initially? Sounds very pedantic, and, oh, say, Nazi-like…

    I kid you, but I did get this article at The Daily Kos, so your ranting about that site is misplaced.

    I am a supporter of liberal causes, with no shame about that, yet I read your post with an open mind, although I was uncomfortable with the ad hominem attacks on RFK, Jr. Well, you surely do not care how I feel, nor should you, but if you are attempting to dissuade the Obama administration from what you see as a bad choice you ought to act a bit more mature, it will be far more efective.

    In conclusion, if RFK, Jr is a bad choice, and your argument has merit – and it may, I don’t support pseudoscience either – then get more focused on the matter and leave your frustrations aside. It will serve you far better.

  87. #87 Orac
    November 7, 2008

    Concern troll.

    Oh, no, don’t be so mean to poor RFK, Jr. My being “too strident” will backfire.

    Nice use of the argumentum ad Nazium gambit, too. Perhaps the Hitler Zombie has had a bit of a snack.

    My arguments are all there, plus numerous links to back up my assertions. I suggest that you follow some of them. Some of them are even far less “insolent” than I am.

  88. #88 Bronze Dog
    November 7, 2008

    Orac, the abraisveness of your language in your original post is no better than what you accuse RFK, Jr of.

    Who cares about that sort of thing? That’s NOT relevant to Orac’s criticisms.

    Is your style to alienate, initially? Sounds very pedantic, and, oh, say, Nazi-like…

    It’s attitudes like Orac’s that got me on the skeptical side. Wishy-washy inoffensive language and subject changes to false courtesy instead of debating actual points got me sick of skirting woo. It’s all irrelevant whining, no content.

    I am a supporter of liberal causes, with no shame about that, yet I read your post with an open mind, although I was uncomfortable with the ad hominem attacks on RFK, Jr. Well, you surely do not care how I feel, nor should you, but if you are attempting to dissuade the Obama administration from what you see as a bad choice you ought to act a bit more mature, it will be far more efective.

    Which ad hominems, specifically? Besides, if you’re talking about someone’s ability to do a job, one would think their scientific character would be a point of discussion.

    In conclusion, if RFK, Jr is a bad choice, and your argument has merit – and it may, I don’t support pseudoscience either – then get more focused on the matter and leave your frustrations aside. It will serve you far better.

    Uh, RFK’s Jr’s lack of merit that makes him a very bad choice is Orac’s frustration in this case.

  89. #89 Craig Travis
    November 7, 2008

    I just can’t believe you guys compare Kennedy to the Bush Administation. Give me a break! Where are you guys coming from? Do you want the Bush mentality back. Sure autism is a hard issue to deal with. Remember the refrigerator mothers. Kennedy would be absolutely terrific. For you guys to turn your back on him makes me think you value ideology over science. I can’t believe it, but what else am I suppose to think? You’re afraid Kennedy would change things. I really had more respect for you.

  90. #90 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Sure autism is a hard issue to deal with.

    If you mean “sure the vaccination issue as concerned with autism is a hard issue to deal with”, which is what the concern over RFK jr. is, then no.

    All you have to do is look at the science.

  91. #91 Max
    November 7, 2008

    Is RFK a mistake? Hardly. RFK is a natural consequence of electing Obama. Politics will be out of science. There will be One True Science with no politics allowed.

  92. #92 Bronze Dog
    November 7, 2008

    I just can’t believe you guys compare Kennedy to the Bush Administation. Give me a break! Where are you guys coming from?

    A scientific standpoint is where we’re coming from. Kennedy looks to be quite anti-science from where I’m standing. The fact that he engaged in quite deliberate quote mining doesn’t make him look good.

    Kennedy would be absolutely terrific. For you guys to turn your back on him makes me think you value ideology over science.

    The first time I ever heard of RFK, Jr was watching him turn his back on science and journalism for the sake of ideology.

  93. #93 Knock
    November 7, 2008

    The reason that Whitman was run out of the Bush Administration was precisely that she wouldn’t put up with having Dick Cheney dictating the contents of EPA reports that her staff produced.

    In other words, this is a woman who actually (how European!) resigned a high-level post in protest rather than allow prostitution of science on her watch.

    Does anyone have a problem with that?
    Yes! Just ask any of the workers who contracted lung problems after Sept.11 because she lied and said the air was safe. SHE LIED. Look it up.

  94. #94 Joe
    November 7, 2008

    If you want to convince Democrats about RFK Jr’s flaws, you’d better cite more credible sources than the right wing “Commons Blog” and National Review Online.

  95. #95 Bronze Dog
    November 7, 2008

    You must have missed an awful lot of links there, Joe.

  96. #96 Orac
    November 7, 2008

    Sure autism is a hard issue to deal with. Remember the refrigerator mothers.

    Actually, the notion that mercury in vaccines causes autism (which RFK, Jr. has championed and continues to champion, even to the point of giving rousing speeches to antivaccine rallies like the “Green Our Vaccines” rally) is a lot like the “refrigerator mother” hypothesis of autism: discredited by the science. In fact, RFK, Jr.’s hanging on against all evidence to the thimerosal/autism myth is very similar to holding on to the refrigerator mother hypothesis. It’s holding on to an idea in the face of–if you’ll excuse me–tsunamis of evidence that show it to be wrong.

    That’s what RFK, Jr. does. He holds onto ideology above science.

    As for Joe and his bit about the Commons Blog and NRO, give me a break. Many of my other links were to skeptical, even liberal sources (Majikthise, for instance), and my backlinks to my own posts were to posts many of which were as chock full of supporting links as this one, few of which come from those nasty conservative sources. Funny how Joe zoomed right in on the handful that were to eeeevilll right wing sources in order to make it seem as though I backed up my arguments with nothing but links to an unholy combination of Little Green Footballs, Anti-Idiotarian Rottwieler, Michelle Malkin, Vox Day, LaShawn Barber, and WorldNet Daily.

    Or something.

  97. #97 mike
    November 7, 2008

    Thanks for bringing this forward. I too have sent an email to the transition team (mentioned above), and encourage others to do the same.

  98. #98 Joe
    November 7, 2008

    I want everyone to know that I am the authentic “Joe,” accept no substitutes.

  99. #99 Sigmund
    November 7, 2008

    Let’s just hope the senate tosses him out on his ass

  100. #100 jake
    November 7, 2008

    Thank you Orac, I sent my polite email to the transition team. The whole wind turbine thing alone is enough to make my blood boil… That’s the type of position I expect from a dinosaur that owes lots of favors, not a self proclaimed environmentalist.

    It’s funny, my current job sends me to public hearings all over the state that involve stream buffers and almost every member of the public that is against any given proposal to create a buffer starts his/her speech by saying “now, I’m an environmentalist… BUT.” Would they have said that 20 years ago? That’s interesting to think about… Regardless, no, I do not think you are. I believe that a true environmentalist would make decisions based on what is best for the environment, for their children and their grandchildren, not themselves.

  101. #101 Blind Squirrel FCD
    November 7, 2008

    Actually Orac you might want to do a little research on the Cuyahoga River fire. There were 5 of them and the one in 1952 caused 1.5 million dollars in damages. It lasted much longer than 30 minutes. Also, lots of pictures.

    But ya, Kennedy is a wackjob.

  102. #102 BlueIndependent
    November 7, 2008

    I have to admit a few years back I enjoyed RFK Jr.’s fire as an Air America co-host, and a staunch activist. But lately (even before reading this article) I’ve been thinking he may be better as an attack dog against the Right than a possible talent to tap. I was rather struck that out of nowhere, seemingly, his name was floated for Obama’s Cabinet. I thought it was an interesting choice as a candidate, but having read this, I’m also perfectly happy to have him play the foot soldier, rather than be a general in the battle against the Right’s misdeeds.

    I think his family’s legacy has perhaps rushed to his head a bit, which reduces his viability in my eyes as an even-tempered selection.

  103. #103 KristinMH
    November 7, 2008

    Wow, 101 comments. Orac, you’re entering Pharyngula range! :)

    Unfortunately, a Pharyngula-like level of commenting usually equals a Pharyngula-like level of trolling. Win some, lose some.

    BlueIndependent, I know what you mean – I heard RFK on Democracy Now! a week or two ago (talking about voting rights), and he was charming and personable. I had to keep reminding myself that he was a doctrinaire antivax nutjob. He’s a charismatic guy, which is yet another reason to keep him out of Obama’s cabinet. If I were an American citizen and/or resident, I would most definitely follow Orac’s lead and send Obama a note.

  104. #104 Pat Curley
    November 8, 2008

    Thank you for this terrific post! I agree whole-heartedly about RFK Jr. I came across him in the Rolling Stone article on the Ohio Election in 2004, where he claimed that somebody had switched 80,000 votes in some rural counties from Kerry to Bush because if you compared the ballots in those counties for retaining some black woman judge versus the Kerry/Bush vote, they revealed a discrepancy. So I totaled up the ballots in those counties, subtracted 80,000 votes from Bush and added 80,000 votes to Kerry. And guess what I found? That those rural counties combined would have had the biggest swing towards Kerry of any counties in Ohio by about eight percentage points.

    It was ludicrous, the kind of real world exercise that should have taken Kennedy about twenty minutes to realize how absurd his claim was. And yet this was highlighted as the best piece of evidence for the idea that Bush had stolen Ohio.

  105. #105 Phoenix Woman
    November 8, 2008

    To all the European readers who wonder why so many right-wing Americans call Obama a “socialist” when he most certainly is not: It’s why so many righties call him a “Muslim” (or, better yet, a “Muslim socialist”) when he most certainly is not: It’s right-wing code for “African- American person”. They know that they can’t openly admit to opposing him because of his race, so they pretend it’s because he’s allegedly things which they know full well he is not.

    Now, on to the adults here:

    I saw Howard Dean on CNN today. He was asked if he was being considered for any positions in Obama’s office. He said anyone willing to talk about the chances had no chance. Hopefully that holds true for RFK Jr. and his comments.

    Exactly. If he ever had a chance, he’s probably blown it by gabbing to the Politico about it.

  106. #106 Phoenix Woman
    November 8, 2008

    I find it funny and a bit telling that some conservatives see it has bad to be criticizing the person one voted for. Seriously, adults can manage to consider a person the best available for the job and also disagree with some of their decisions or rumored decisions.

    Posted by: Natalie | November 6, 2008 12:24 PM

    Ah, but didn’t you know that Sarah Palin is a great scientist? She can see Putin rear his head when he comes into her airspace! (Dang, that sounds perverse.)

  107. #107 Katharine
    November 8, 2008

    What I find most disgusting about Jenny McCarthy, RFK, sMothering, and their ilk is that they think their emotionality trumps fact. I suppose I tend to take the harsher tack, but we need to put these shitheads in their place.

  108. #108 klondike
    November 8, 2008

    Both dailykos and OpenLeft have posted on this now and I saw nary a single defender of RFKjr himself in either venue. Orac’s assumption that dkos commenters would be all over him for this is not borne out. In fact the only criticism of the flap is that its an indirect attack on not-yet-president Obama.

  109. #109 genesgalore
    November 8, 2008

    rfk jr. is a good man but a lose canon. he does at times reach, but that is only because he has seen people burnt by lies from corporate america. we would all do well to heed his advice: “We are nuts to let corporations anywhere near our democracy.”

  110. #110 truth seeker
    November 8, 2008

    genesgalore says:

    “rfk jr. … has seen people burnt by lies from corporate america”

    You must understand, the potential harm from causing the public to be needlessly afraid of vaccines is horrendous. You see, vaccines only work because the ” herd ” becomes immune, not the individual. If you think that a small number of families not vaccinating will not harm you because you and your children are vaccinated, you are wrong. Once a critical number of non-vaccinated people are out there, epidemics will ensue. When that happens a significant percentage of the vaccinated will also fall ill …

  111. #111 genesgalore
    November 9, 2008

    oh i understand…. as a supposition though, say that the preservative somehow causes the offspring of the recipient to have a higher incidence of some anomaly…. what would you say then???? the bottom line is we don’t shit.

  112. #112 truth seeker
    November 9, 2008

    genesgalore says:

    “say that the preservative somehow causes the offspring of the recipient to have a higher incidence of some anomaly”

    ? What “preservative”. Almost ALL pediatric vaccines contain no “preservative”. That’s one of saddest aspects of Mr. Kennedy’s position. He has already been PROVEN wrong.

    Vaccines have risk that have nothing to do with “preservatives”. Consider the smallpox vaccine. This was given to everyone because the risk to the public was great. We knew that there would be some problems, even deaths, from the vaccine. But it HAD to be done to protect the public at large and the program resulted in one the the greatest successes in history. The disease was rendered EXTINCT.

    genesgalore ALSO says:

    “the bottom line is we don’t shit”

    ? You might consider a colonoscopy to determine the cause.

  113. #113 Bronze Dog
    November 9, 2008

    say that the preservative somehow causes the offspring of the recipient to have a higher incidence of some anomaly…

    Sounds like a crazy, baseless ‘what if?’ Let’s work on scientific data, and not random fears.

    …what would you say then???? the bottom line is we don’t shit.

    If we lived in that hypothetical world (which all the data says we don’t), we’d change to a safer preservative.

    The bottom line is that you’re shitting us with crazy hypothetical scenarios and endangering very real children with propaganda from someone who’s been caught deliberately deceiving his audience with quote mining.

  114. #114 Mad Hussein LOLScientist, FCD
    November 9, 2008

    I second the Whitman nomination. A highly qualified choice, and across party lines as well. Brilliant.

    As for compartmentalizing: Linus Pauling won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, then went on to become a rabid promoter of taking so much vitamin C, you almost had to count the calories in it.

  115. #115 Mad Hussein LOLScientist, FCD
    November 9, 2008

    I’m back after writing a note at http://change.gov about my worries RE RFK Jr’s support for pseudoscience and asking that Obama consider reappointing Whitman to the EPA chair (or possibly appointing her Sec. of the Interior).

    There’s nothing like easy, direct access to our political leaders via the interwebz!

  116. #116 genesgalore
    November 9, 2008

    bronzed dog, what don’t you understand about “oh, i understand”??? must be so nice to be so cocksure that one might never have to eat his words. may you be bless with a fully operational cytochrome P450 operating system and never suffer from prostate problems due to overdosing on folate.

  117. #117 notmercury
    November 9, 2008

    Hey, where does I get me one of them CYP operatin’ systems? Will it run on my x86 platform?

  118. #118 genesgalore
    November 9, 2008

    ask the liver fairy.

  119. #119 Bronze Dog
    November 10, 2008

    Hey, I’ve been wrong before. Hasn’t happened with alties on anything significant, yet, since they like to go off on irrelevant tangents like parallel universes.

  120. #120 (T)Ruth
    November 10, 2008

    How fascinating that you support the violation of sunshine laws. Simpsonwood was held illegally. Speaking of violations of the law, Thimerosal is used illegally as a preservative in medicinals. A citizens’ group is suing the FDA for allowing its use without the rigorous testing mandated by law…much as a citizens’ group sued the FDA and succeeded in forcing the dangers of mercury in dental amalgams be disclosed to the public. http://www.philly.com/inquirer/world_us/19594099.html

    Whatever drives you, it’s not the truth. More likely a Mercedes.

  121. #121 Orac
    November 10, 2008

    How fascinating that you support the violation of sunshine laws. Simpsonwood was held illegally

    Oh, really? Evidence, please?

    Whatever drives you, it’s not the truth. More likely a Mercedes.

    Nahh. I need something nice but with better gas mileage.

  122. #122 genesgalore
    November 10, 2008

    “irrelevant tangents”. well, when you get the nobel for explaining the inordinate rise in autism or asthma, give me a call. in the interim, keep sucking water out of plastic bottles and hope the nanocritters don’t get you.

  123. #123 truth seeker
    November 10, 2008

    genesgalore, help me out here. Usually, BEFORE someone tries to solve a problem, the FIRST thing to do is to verify that there IS indeed a problem. So, would you please point me to a definitive study that shows a REAL increase in autism.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408112107.htm

    Orac, I drive a Mercury Mariner Hybrid. I LOVE it. It’s an SUV so I can use it to haul around my daughter’s piano, and it is getting me around 36 MPG (all the time, city/hwy combined). Also, after the warranty expires (10/100K) I plan to get an aftermarket battery that will add another 20 MPG.

  124. #124 genesgalore
    November 10, 2008

    “may be related” maybe related????

  125. #125 truth seeker
    November 10, 2008

    genesgalore, don’t worry a bit about that report. Pretend it don’t exist. Just focus on your statement on “the inordinate rise in autism”. I challenge it. PROVE IT.

    If you can’t prove it … well then sleep well my friend for all is well …

  126. #126 genesgalore
    November 10, 2008

    Medical Hypotheses , Volume 68 , Issue 1 , Pages 46 – 60
    F . Previc

  127. #127 Bronze Dog
    November 10, 2008

    “irrelevant tangents”. well, when you get the nobel for explaining the inordinate rise in autism or asthma, give me a call. in the interim, keep sucking water out of plastic bottles and hope the nanocritters don’t get you.

    The “rise” is an illusion caused by several factors including increased awareness, broadened definition of autism, and increased reporting since some regions offer benefits for the education of autistic children. This is old news. If you’d pay attention to someone other than the lawyers and quacks, you’d know something about our position on the issue.

    Oh, and I don’t drink water from bottles. I have a reverse osmosis filter on my sink’s tap. The stuff I usually drink out of bottles is Dr Pepper and milk.

    As for nanocritters, are you saying the bottled water companies are putting nanites in their supply?

  128. #128 genesgalore
    November 10, 2008

    things aren’t more complicated than you think, they are more complicated than you can think.

  129. #129 notmercury
    November 10, 2008

    Gene S. Galore,
    Any relation to Ms. Galore of Goldfinger fame?

  130. #130 Bronze Dog
    November 10, 2008

    things aren’t more complicated than you think, they are more complicated than you can think.

    Way to respond to an explanation: Make apparent assumptions about our abilities, rather than address anything.

    Of course, I don’t see much complication in the anti-vaxxer’s explanation: Anecdotes mixed with correlation equals causation fallacy. The only complication they add is the massive world-wide conspiracy to cover things up.

  131. #131 genegalore
    November 11, 2008

    weiner covered in bronze. how you came to the conclusion that i am amn”anti-vaxxer’ is beyond me. but then, judging from your retorts, i suppose it is to be expected.

  132. #132 Anthony Henry Smith
    November 11, 2008

    Keep RFK out of EPA

    The job at the EPA calls for someone with a keen sense of both ethics and science. Kennedy is not that person.

    The following letter was written in support of Robert H. Boyle (founder of Riverkeeper and author of “The Hudson River, A natural and unnatural history”) and others who resigned from Riverkeeper rather than support R. F. Kennedy, Jr.’s compromise of the principle that ethics must never be separate from science.

    This letter was first published in the Putnam County News and Recorder, Cold Spring, New York, on August 30, 2000 and they have carried it on their website ever since for which they have my thanks. (AHS, 2008)

    Letters:

    Supports Former Riverkeeper Board Members’ Action
    Editor,

    The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers, Inc. supports Robert H. Boyle, former president of the Riverkeeper, Inc. and former Riverkeeper, Inc. board members John Fry, treasurer, Nancy Abraham, Kathryn Belous Boyle, Pat Crow, Theresa Hanczor, Robert Hodes, Ann Tonetti and Alexander Zagoreas in the action they have taken in resigning from Riverkeeper in opposition to the hiring of a convicted environmental felon to serve in the position of staff scientist on the staff of Riverkeeper.

    In issuing this statement of support, The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers wishes to emphasize that ethics cannot be separated from science and that the environmental movement will prosper best in an atmosphere of demonstrated personal responsibility and earned mutual respect.

    We encourage individuals as well as environmental organizations to join us in similar expressions of support for the principled stand taken by Boyle and fellow board members in their defense of the ethical integrity of the environmental movement here in the Hudson River Valley.

    Boyle and 8 of the 22 Riverkeeper board members resigned from Riverkeeper, Inc. in protest of the hiring of William Wegner. For eight years Wegner operated a ring of smugglers who stole bird eggs directly from the nests of protected cockatoo species in Australia. Wegner and his ring then smuggled the eggs by air to the United States. Birds that hatched and survived were then sold for as much as $12,500.00 each. A federal judge accepted Wegner’s plea of guilty to charges of conspiracy and tax fraud and sentenced him to five years in prison. The judge also found that Wegner had attempted to obstruct justice by committing perjury at the trial of a co-defendant Wegner paid a $10,000.00 fine.

    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has stated that everyone deserves a second chance and notes that he himself had been given a second chance in that he had once been convicted of a drug offense.

    We note, however, that Kennedy’s offense was essentially a victimless crime while Wegner’s offense was a crime against the environment, the people of Australia, the people of the United States and against the birds. In order to avoid detection during the flight, smugglers flushed newly hatched chicks down the plane’s toilet

    Although Wegner has been convicted and served his sentence, nothing he or anyone else can do will correct the damage he has done or make his victims whole again.

    Wegner’s prison sentence seems to have done little to improve his ethical sense. The resume Wegner submitted to Riverkeeper accounts for his period of incarceration without referring to the fact of the incarceration itself Wegner describes work he performed and omits the significant information that he performed this work while he was serving time as a prison inmate.

    Kennedy overstepped his position as attorney for Riverkeeper when, in November of 1999, he hired Wegner. Boyle terminated Wegner after learning of the hiring and upon review of Wegner’s resume, court records and media accounts. The matter came to a climax at a board meeting on June 20th when Kennedy insisted that Wegner be rehired over Boyle’s objection.

    While we hope Riverkeeper continues to work to produce changed human beings who think and act differently in regard to the Hudson River and all that pertains to it, we also recognize the primary mission of Riverkeeper is not the rehabilitation of Wegner or of those like him.

    Sincerely,

    Anthony Henry Smith
    Fishkill

    (for The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers)
    (Fishkill Ridge Community Heritage, a separate organization, has also supported this letter from their beginning.)

  133. #133 HCN
    November 12, 2008

    genesgalore (or genegalore) said “Medical Hypotheses”

    That is a “you pay us we will print it” journal. It does not count as a real peer review journal. Anyway the site is locate on PubMed at:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16959433

    The title is “Prenatal influences on brain dopamine and their relevance to the rising incidence of autism”

    The abstract says: “The incidence of autism has risen 10-fold since the early 1980s, with most of this rise not explainable by changing diagnostic criteria. The rise in autism is paradoxical in that autism is considered to be one of the most genetically determined of the major neurodevelopmental disorders and should accordingly either be stable or even declining. Because a variety of epigenetic influences, particularly those occurring during the prenatal period, can override or masquerade as genetic influences, these should be considered as prime contributors to the recent increase of autism. Prenatal influences on dopamine activity are especially well-documented, including the effects of maternal psychosocial stress, maternal fever, maternal genetic and hormonal status, use of certain medications, urban birth, and fetal hypoxia. All of these factors have been implicated in the genesis of autism, which is characterized by a “hyperdopaminergic” state based on evidence from monkey and human behavioral studies, pharmacological studies in humans, and a left-hemispheric predominance of both dopamine and autistic-like symptoms. Chronically high maternal levels of dopamine caused by the pressures of increasingly urbanized societies and by changing maternal demographics such as increased workforce participation, educational achievement level, and age at first birth, may be especially significant epigenetic contributors to the recent autism rise.”

    Actually, that does not say anything about the increases rise in autism, but just states as a matter of fact and proposes a reason. It does not rationally indicate that there is an actual RISE in incidence, but hints as at a rise in diagnosis.

    The book “Unstrange Mind” gives a clearer indication as the the “why” than that paper.

    By the way… the Science section of the New York Times of 11 Nov. 2008 is dedicated to the gene, and those bits that may explain the reason behind autism and schizophrenia which are hinted at by the Med. Hyp. paper referenced.

  134. #134 Bronze Dog
    November 12, 2008

    weiner covered in bronze. how you came to the conclusion that i am amn”anti-vaxxer’ is beyond me. but then, judging from your retorts, i suppose it is to be expected.

    What made you think that part was specifically about you? If you don’t have a different type of complexity to demonstrate, you should try, you know, telling me about it, rather than lock yourself into the ivory tower and make fun of my alleged intellectual limits.

  135. #135 George
    November 12, 2008

    RFK, Jr. passionately believes that mercury causes autism

    So will he let us buy lightbulbs that don’t contain mercury? Or is “global warming” more important to him than actual human lives?

  136. #136 kat-missouri
    November 12, 2008

    I am so laughing my a$$ off. You voted for the head of the coo-coo radical tribe because he didn’t sound radical or coo-coo so you ignored all his coo-coo radical associations only to discover that, gee, most of his associates are coo-coo radicals.

    Pardon me, I have to get a tissue to wipe my eyes. don’t ask me if they are tears of laughter or tears of utter despair for this nation.

    Also, let me ask, what “science” did bush politicize? Embryonic stem cell research? Are you indicating that science should not be governed by morals or ethics, as is appears with the question of whether life begins at inception or whether there is a fear of unethical harvesting of embryos for somebody else’s health?

  137. #137 Steven Walser
    November 12, 2008

    You charge several times that the Bush administration engaged repeatedly in “pseudoscience” and anti science that was ideologically driven.
    Could you please provide a few specific examples of this behavior? I hope you do not cite that old canard about their not supporting the use of embryos for research as this certainly does not qualify a being anti science.

  138. #138 M. Simon
    November 12, 2008

    The only consolation I have in McCain losing is that I fear he would have been equally incompetent.

    The Democrats bought it. They own it.

  139. #139 M. Simon
    November 12, 2008

    I think Al Gore would be more appropriate. He has a Nobel prize and stands to make a fortune from CO2 regulation.

    Or perhaps his confederate in the scheme Hansen would be better.

  140. #140 M. Simon
    November 12, 2008

    All I can do is provide anecdotal evidence but I have found super high doses of Vitamin C to be an effective anti-bioitic.

    I can not vouch for it as an anti-viral though.

  141. #141 M. Simon
    November 12, 2008

    Yep. Them corporations is evil. For instance: we ought to break up the whole aircraft industry and have Boeing 747 built by guys in garages. Flying would be so much safer.

  142. #142 M. Simon
    November 12, 2008

    I’m agreeing with David here – certainly in the UK, the Democrats would basically be our Conservative party, and the Republicans would be a right-wing-insane-fringe party that people would cross the road to avoid.

    But economics is a science. I find people who voted for Obama generally ignorant of the subject.

    Not to worry. Obama is a combination of Hoover and FDR if you believe his speeches. That combination turned a severe recession into the Great Depression at least if you believe the latest research on the subject.

    It is to laugh.

    And in this melt down the Euros – those centerists of the world – are currently in worse shape than we are. Why? They don’t have a Republican Party to check in any way their economic ignorance.

    Thankfully the Republicans haven’t forgotten their economics – they just haven’t practiced it.

  143. #143 genesgalore
    November 12, 2008

    a sample of 38, rotff. i thought you were smart, but alas, human DNA is as common as snot.

  144. #144 HCN
    November 13, 2008

    kat-missouri said “Also, let me ask, what “science” did bush politicize?”

    Steven Walser said “Could you please provide a few specific examples of this behavior?”

    Probably opening up another can of worms, but a series are articles starting here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/science/earth/29climate.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    and http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2007/07/11/carmona/ … “. A report on global health has not been released, Carmona said, because he would not infuse it with positive references to what the Bush administration was doing on that front. And then, of course, there was the old administration favorite, abstinence-only sex education, which has repeatedly been shown to be ineffective.”

  145. #145 Cuculidae for Cacao
    November 13, 2008

    You voted for the head of the coo-coo radical tribe because he didn’t sound radical or coo-coo so you ignored all his coo-coo radical associations only to discover that, gee, most of his associates are coo-coo radicals.

    Obama associates with diploid Chief Operating Officer polyatomic ions?

  146. #146 Skeptigirl
    November 13, 2008

    Flood the feedback site with comments. I posted mine:

    “No no no. Robert F Kennedy Jr, much as I like his politics, is not respected in the scientific community because he lacks an understanding of the scientific process and how we determine what is credible and what isn’t credible in terms of evidence based conclusions. This is not the person to put in charge of anything, especially the EPA.

    V Switzer, MSN, ARNP, COHN-S”

  147. #147 Mercury
    November 16, 2008

    Looks like the “Pharma Shills” are out in full force to try and discredit Mr. Kennedy.

    The Environmental PROTECTION agency is supposed to Protect the environment, hence our health. Mr. Kennedy is well aware of the toxic dangers of injecting mercury into pregnant women and children. We as a nation of very sick children(According to the CDC, 1 out of 6 children have a developmental disorder)NEED a person that is not afraid to stand up for American citizens, Even if that means going up against big corporations that poison our children. (According to the EPA one out of six women of child bearing age has enough mercury in her body to cause harm to her fetus)

    It is a known fact that Corporate America pays shills to screech on message boards to discredit anyone that is in opposition.

    The best thing Obama could do is make Mr. Kennedy the head of the EPA.

  148. #148 HCN
    November 16, 2008

    Pharma shill gambit played:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/09/the_pharma_shill_gambit_1.php

    There should be a corollary to the Godwin, like Orac’s corollary, that should state:

    “In any discussion on medicine, any person claiming that participants are ‘pharma shills’, shows that he/she has no real data and has automatically lost the argument”.

    BY the way, silly person, the thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines years ago. Autism still increases. In Japan they stopped using their version of the MMR (it used a different mumps strain, Urabe instead of Jeryl Lynn), and autism still went up.

    Also, if diseases (like measles, which is usually the first) return the companies that provided medications, ventilators and other hospital equipment get more sales! Seriously, vaccines keep profits down.

    Now to the silliest part, you said “(According to the CDC, 1 out of 6 children have a developmental disorder)”…

    Do you live where all children are above average? That is a statistical reality in any large random sample of children for any thing. In a normal curve anything one standard deviation above or below the normal is equal to about 1 out of 6. In a normally distributed curve 68% of the data is within one standard deviation, leaving 32%… so that is 16% above and 16% below, or 1 out of 6. So one out of 6 are one standard deviation above the norm, and 1 out of 6 are one standard deviation below the norm. Community colleges offer beginning statistics courses that only require about 9th grade math. I suggest you sign up and take a course in your community. Failing that, try this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Deviation#Rules_for_normally_distributed_data

  149. #149 Danio
    November 16, 2008

    HCN:

    BY the way, silly person

    From the looks of the comments thus far, I’m afraid you’ll have to be more specific.

    Oh, and on the Bush administration being anti-science, even a cursory inquiry into policies on the environment, AGW, reproductive health, basic research or science education funding should yield some specific transgressions.

  150. #150 HCN
    November 16, 2008

    Danio said “From the looks of the comments thus far, I’m afraid you’ll have to be more specific.”

    :-)

    My comments were directed to “Mercury” who played the Pharma Shill Gambit and the math/statistic innumerate “1 out of 6″ ploy.

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