I’ve frequently written about the “arrogance of ignorance,” a phenomenon that anyone who’s paid attention to what quacks, cranks, or antivaccine activists (but I repeat myself) write and say beyond a certain period of time will have encountered. Basically, it’s the belief found in such people—and amplified in groups—that somehow they can master a subject as well or better than experts who have spent their entire professional lives studying the subject on their own, often just through the use of Google University and the echo chamber discussion forums that they frequent with their fellow cranks. Thus we have, for example, the rambling clown car of antivaccine bloggers over at the crank blog Age of Autism declaring that, contrary to the mountains of evidence otherwise, vaccines cause autism, “brain damage,” autoimmune diseases and all sorts of mean and nasty other conditions. Skeptics quite properly point out that (1) there is no convincing evidence from well-designed and well-executed studies to support these links; (2) there is a lot of evidence from well-designed and well-executed studies that there is no link between vaccines and these conditions given that such studies invariably are unable to detect differences in the prevalence of these conditions associated with vaccines (or, in the case of the mercury militia, thimerosal-containing vaccines); meaning (3) the most parsimonious explanation for these results is that there almost certainly no link. What is the response? Antivaccine cranks will invoke the pharma shill gambit and all sorts of dire conspiracies on the part of the CDC, big pharma, the FDA, and the World Health Organization (WHO) to “suppress” smoking gun evidence that vaccines cause autism.

This is a well-known phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, a phenomenon whereby people who are unknowledgeable or incompetent about a topic hold an unjustifiably elevated estimate of their own knowledge base on the topic. In the antivaccine movement, the Dunning-Kruger effect tends to take the form of parents who think that their University of Google knowledge trumps the knowledge of physicians and scientists who have dedicated large swaths of their lives to the rigorous study of conditions such as autism and the question of how vaccines work; in other words, exactly the arrogance of ignorance I just discussed. Nowhere is the Dunning-Kruger effect more concentrated than in a certain relatively young antivaccine crank blog that basically declares its arrogantly ignorant Dunning-Kruger in its very name. I’m referring, of course, to The Thinking Moms’ Revolution (a.k.a. TMR), or, as I like to call it, The (Not So-)Thinking Moms’ Revolution. Basically, depending on whether it’s day or night, it’s a coffee or wine klatch of mostly affluent, educated women who clearly don’t understand how easy it is for educated people to fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect and become good at motivated reasoning to defend a false viewpoint. And nowhere on the TMR website thus far have I seen a more concentrated example of all these traits, as in a post from earlier this week called the The Thinking Moms’ Manifesto. It’s 4,100 words of weaponized Dunning-Kruger, arrogance, and motivated reasoning.

You wouldn’t know it at the beginning because its author, known as “The Rev” (real name: Lisa Goes), jokes about how critics have sometimes dubbed TMR the “Drinking Moms’ Revolution,” based on the moms’ frequent mentions of how they like wine and their propensity to gather together periodically to indulge that like. (Another annoying characteristic of TMR is that its bloggers take on some truly annoying pseudonyms that range from the height of Dunning-Kruger arrogance, such as “The Professor,” to the cutesy, such as “Princess,” to the faux fantasy cool, such as “Dragonslayer” or “Goddess.”) I’ll give The Rev credit for a momentary bit of amusing self-awareness. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last long, as, after the introduction, she lays down “guidelines” for what “Thinking Moms” do and believe. The first one is easily dispensed with, in that she simply declares, “If you call yourself a Thinking Mom, you treat every organization that recognizes what has happened to our children and wishes to advance their cause with respect,” which then is followed by a list of some of the quackiest, crankiest sites on the Internet, such as Age of Autism, Gary Null, NaturalNews.com, Mercola.com, GreenMedInfo, VacTruth, the Canary Party, and many others. You get the idea. If you’re a “Thinking Mom,” you treat pseudoscience and quackery websites with “respect,” but in reality you go beyond that. You believe them rather than real science.

But, if you’re not a “Thinker” yet, don’t worry, The Rev’s got you covered. In the context of supporting a frequent criticism that we skeptics make about alternative medicine and the antivaccine movement, specifically that no woo is ever rejected and every woo is equally valid (even when they are mutually contradictory in their basis and claims), The Rev lets everyone know that they should just STFU (in public, at least) if they disagree with an organization or think it did them wrong:

If you feel you’ve been maligned or disrespected by a fellow activist or organization, please wait at least 72 hours before you choose to act on your feelings. If you cannot let it go, take the issue directly to the person who caused offense instead of social media. Above all, when talking to new parents, do NOT trash a particular organization because you felt wronged by them. New parents are overwhelmed and confused enough by the very nature of what has just happened to their child. Your slight, no matter how great, is of no interest to them. They want to know how to save their child’s life and give them a future, and, most likely, you are their first point of contact. Right now, we are being closely watched by everyone, including pre-Thinkers — there are no non-Thinkers, just pre-Thinkers hungry for the truth and learning discernment skills! While it may seem we are repeatedly preaching to the choir and our hard work is going unnoticed, on the contrary, we are under a microscope. Shine with dignity and admiration for your peers under this scrutiny. In addition to supporting our fellow organizations, RAVE about and proliferate the films that have been independently produced and are being shown around this country thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of their makers, concerned citizens and affected families.

Doesn’t this sound a bit like religion? Of course it does. There’s the emphasis on never speaking ill of a quack organization coupled with the idea that everyone out there is a potential convert. Apparently they don’t even view skeptics as “non-Thinkers” but rather as potentially convertible, although I’ll admit that’s not entirely clear that The Rev isn’t just referring to parents of children with autism and developmental disorders. She probably is. Whatever the case, not surprisingly, the list of movies that follows includes some incredibly quacky movies, such as The Greater Good.

This idea that nothing, no matter how quacky, should be rejected, that there is nothing (other than the evil big pharma vaccine-industrial complex, of course) that isn’t potentially helpful to autistic children, shows up in item #3 of The Rev’s manifesto, “The paths to recovery are many, and Thinkers acknowledge them all“:

Some parents cut out gluten and dairy, get a little OT, and spend a couple of years with a qualified MAPS doctor and their severely affected seizure kid is on the honor roll and captain of the football team. Some parents follow a multitude of protocols, see mainstream and alternative doctors, shell out thousands upon thousands of dollars, and potty training and pointing at the age of nine are considered monumental victories. I know kids who have fully recovered with dietary intervention, ABA and a parasite protocol. I know kids who are virtually indiscernible from their peers having used mitochondrial supports, mainstream gastrointestinal treatment and nutritional intervention. I also know kids who are rocking their high school years with nothing but Son-Rise and nutritional modification. There are quite literally hundreds of paths to recovery and improvement. I am partial to the protocols offered through AIM. Several of my friends have dropped 30+ ATEC points by using CEASE homeopathic intervention. Still others enjoy great progress with homotoxicology and neurofeedback. Since we know the one-size-fits-all immunization program is what landed many of us in this elite club, resist the temptation to narrowly define recovery. Because something worked for you does not mean it will work for them, and because it worked for them, it will not necessarily work for you. Thinking Moms know labs are crucial in accurately diagnosing a child’s specific metabolic and autoimmune anomalies. While you may have developed disdain for western preventative healthcare, you know when it comes to replacing a limb, stopping a heart attack, and piecing people back together after traumatic accidents and injuries, there is no better treatment option than allopathic medicine. Yet, you also know you must promote and protect our right to pursue homeopathy, herbalism, naturopathy, chiropractic, nutritional intervention, medical marijuana, etc. Thinkers fight not to destroy one, but to embrace all treatments so that our kids may have access to every healing option and treatment modality available to improve the quality of their lives.

Homeopathy, as I’ve described more times than I can remember, is The One Quackery To Rule Them All (possibly in concert with reiki and other forms of energy healing). It’s magic. It’s the idea that diluting a remedy makes it stronger, even unto diluting it far beyond the point where a single molecule is likely to remain. Similarly, naturopathy, which encompasses homeopathy, is what I like to refer to as a cornucopia of virtually every quackery known to humankind. Basically, The Rev’s manifesto is a defense of autism biomed quackery and for “Thinkers” never to criticize any of it because, if you are a “Thinker,” you have to believe that someone, somewhere, will benefit from almost anything, no matter how vile the quackery.

Even bleach enemas, which were once again featured at this year’s autism biomed quackfest known as Autism One.

Knowing what I know about TMR and “autism biomed,” I must admit, that I nearly spit out my coffee as I read #2, which claims, “When it comes to helping others, Thinking Moms are short on opinion, strong on scientific data, medical facts, nutritional healing options and documented legislative history.”

I’ll pause a minute. (Or two. Or three. Or ten.) If you know anything about the level of pseudoscience regularly promoted by TMR (and what I quoted above is just a taste, albeit one that comes after item #2), you’ll need it to bring your laughter under control. Seriously. But there’s more, so much more. In addition to having promoted homeopathy and energy healing, TMR has featured a woman named Laura Hirsch (pseudonym: Oracle) who has “learned Reconnective Healing and Quantum Touch, used homeopathy, essential oils, and flower essences, used EAV (electroacupuncture) and muscle testing for diagnosing” and “consulted with mediums to get answers from the spirit world” to help her son. Its book is loaded with anecdotes of autistic children treated with such quackery.

And things like this, advice from The Rev herself in her manifesto:

It’s all in the delivery, Thinkers. Suggest, don’t attack. Sometimes you just leave studies and do not say a word. Sometimes you listen and listen make one comment about causation and move on to something else. I know to us it feels disingenuous. “So Rev, if I’m at a dinner party you’re basically telling me to whisper to my hosts, ‘Hey those shiners, that headbanging, and posturing? Those are all signs that little PJ’s mitochondria is on fire. Those fever relievers you keep shoving down his throat are depleting glutathione. He needs a metabolic panel and organic acid test (OAT), stat. Pass the salt and pepper please.’” I know it feels wrong addressing something of such significance with such passivity, but trust us when we tell you people cannot hear you at the beginning stages of the discovery process if you are screaming at them.

In other words, be nice to convert “pre-Thinkers” to fully actualized, quackery-loving “Thinkers.”

Closely related to this is #4, which tells Thinkers that you can’t judge other Thinkers on the level of recovery their children have achieved (which is convenient, given that the vast majority of autism biomed is quackery), “Not all recovery is created equal, and not all Thinkers must approach it the same way“:

Thinking Moms do not measure the value of other Thinking Moms, based on the level of progress their child has made toward recovery. Please know that if I hear a single solitary self-proclaimed Thinking Mom allow the phrases, “Well, you know, she just didn’t follow through . . . ” or even worse, “You know, if it was my kid I would have done XYZ . . . ” to pass from their lips within earshot of other humans, I will sincerely lose my sh%t. You have not walked in their shoes. You do not know their story. You do not know their life. You do not sleep with them, eat with them, live with them, or deposit money in their bank account. You hear snippets of their perspective and form judgments that may or may not be accurate. Always give other Thinkers, and all parents with affected kids for that matter, the benefit of the doubt and treat them with understanding and compassion.

Even if they’re subjecting their child to bleach enemas, dubious “stem cell” injections by lumbar puncture (even if you have to hit your child’s grandparents up for $15,000), or dangerous chelation therapy, apparently, you must not criticize or, worst of all, be “judgmental.” Well, the hell with that! If someone is subjecting a vulnerable child (and, make no mistake, autistic children are among the most vulnerable of all), I’m damned well going to criticize and be “judgmental.” I understand that these parents often have good motivations and believe that what they are doing will help, but at the very least I can try to warn others away from their quackery.

The rest of the items in The Rev’s manifesto aren’t quite as amusing, as they are rather standard, dull platitudes about how, “Thinking Moms’ ditch canned positivism in favor of authentic outreach,” which apparently means providing tangible help without looking for acclaim, which would be all well and good were it not yoked to items #1 through #4 and activity such as that described in #6, “Healthy boundaries are essential for all Thinking Parents“:

I was enlisted to help a child here in Chicago, whose mother allegedly took his life after many years of seeking support and help through hospitals and government aid. His story is chronicled in the award-winning documentary Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis? Having had this incredibly valuable life experience, I can tell you this: The child is always worth saving, despite the condition or situation of the parent. However, you must always ask yourself with great sincerity, “What is it that I have to give?” At the time I became involved with Alex, my son was profoundly affected. Our first TMR book had just launched, and I was the point person for public relations. But I delved headfirst into documenting Alex’s plight, despite this responsibility and the fact that I was managing tremendously complex medical and nutritional protocols at a time when a good night’s sleep amounted to three hours. Despite all our core team of seven attempted to do to help Alex, he died.

No, no, no, no, no! Yes, Alex did die, but, despicably, The Rev couched her version of his death in passive doublespeak that makes it sound as though it just happened, as bad things sometimes do. “Oh, Alex just died.” Worse, The Rev makes it sound as though Alex died despite her best efforts, when in fact what she appeared to be trying to do was to facilitate access to “autism biomed” quackery through “Autism Is Medical.” No, he was murdered by his mother after Andrew Wakefield had swooped into his hospital to be a publicity whore over the case during the Autism One quackfest in 2013 in the hopes of making a documentary over the alleged “injustices” done to him. Later, the antivaccine reporter Sharyl Attkisson (whom we’ve encountered many times before, going back to 2007) did a biased report that conveniently left out Andrew Wakefield’s involvement in the Alex Spourdalakis case. AI put it at the time, Attkisson lied by omission. She was also widely criticized, although my criticism once again led to an antivaccine activist trying to harass me at my job.

The Rev ends up by pontificating, “If you are truly a Thinking Mom, you are defined by what you are FOR, rather than what you are AGAINST” and how burdened they are with this Sacred Knowledge They Don’t Want You To Know About:

While we get with great clarity the immense burden associated with the knowledge we now carry, our commitment is to spread the truth, not destroy the liars. It is our hope that everyone will align under the guise of the whole-body medical model that benefits all our kids and embraces individualized healthcare, authentic nutrition, and integrative healing. This is what Thinking Moms embrace and fight for.

In other words, TMR is fighting for autism biomed quackery, which is something we didn’t need 4,100 words to discover. They wrap it in motherly camaraderie and extreme Dunning-Kruger, but at their core that’s what TMR stands for.


  1. #1 herr doktor bimler
    June 3, 2015

    I contacted James. If you care about this issue you’d do the same.

    Welp, you could have said at the start that your numbers and claims are [personal communication] rather than coming from the study you cited.
    You had your chance to interest me, but when your claims are purportedly based on one paper and then it turns out that actually you’re relying on a different back-channel source, then you’re just another loon on the Intertube.

  2. #2 Trottelreiner
    June 3, 2015

    @rich winkel:

    ” The study authors didn’t even control for diet for crying out loud”
    No and they didn’t control for the phase of the moon either.

    OK, let’s repeat it the slow way…

    Free radicals are usually captured by some other molecules, though if that is necessarily a good thing is anther question, remember the fun we had with mortality in smokers on vitamin E?

    The source of these molecules is quite often food, and there are marked differences between different food.

    Autism Spectrum Disorders are quite often tied with sensory problems,e.g. hypersensitivity to certain colors, sounds, smells or tastes. We will leave the question if this is a lower threshold in perception (e.g. “vulcan hearing”) or just a heightened sensitivity (e.g. the fun of the hangover) unexplored.

    Hypersensitivity with smelling and tasting is quite likely to influence diet; even besides this, ASDs are notorious for mannerisms, e.g. “it has to be my favourite food”. On another level, some parents try diets to alleviate symptoms, e.g. the Feingold diet in ADHD.

    Oh, and as mentioned diet might influence ability to cope with free radicals.

    So, sorry to say, but without controlling for diet, diminuished capabilities for free radical capture in autistics is about as indicative as “malvaria” as a diagnostic tool for schizophrenia:


    Where the actual compound effecting said “malvaria” was the chlorprometazine used for psychosis.

    This is not to say there might be no biochemical differences in autistics, just that a study not controlling for diet is somewhat ill-suited to prove causalities.

    OK, and now it’s your turn. Please show how free radicals are especially employed in mercury or aluminium poisoning, and why autism, said metal poisonings and free radical damage quitre differ.

  3. #3 Trottelreiner
    June 3, 2015


    On what basis do you assert that the neurotoxicity of alkylmercurials is not due to the intact organic radical?

    Err, AFAIR the MOA of mercury and its compounds is not that clearly understood,


    but it might be alkylmercury compounds are dealkylated to the inorganic forms, which interact with biomolecules.

    Mercury interacts with thiol groups, where said groups are also involved with scavenging free radical.


    There might also be some other mechanisms:


    Other metals might directly create free radicals. Please note that AFAIK aluminium doesn’t seem to be part of either group.

    Also note quite a lot of this research is with methylmercury, which likely differs somewhat from thiomersal. Also note “developing neurons” might not mean “neurons in children”, but “neurons in embryos”. And that there is a dosage-response curve, with low dosages having little to no effect.

  4. #4 Krebiozen
    June 3, 2015

    rich winkel,

    They weren’t asking that question. They were asking whether this anomaly is predictive of acquiring autism.

    What anomaly? None of these results look particularly abnormal to me (I spent a couple of decades working in clinical biochemistry). Any variations could be due to many different factors, including diet, as Science Mom pointed out.

    If the anomaly was an independent variable you would have seen no correlation with autism.

    Not necessarily, we see correlations between independent variables all the time, they are called confounders. A lack of correlation suggests a lack of association, not vice versa.

    Instead the concordance is 100% in a population of 150 kids.

    Concordance of what? I see more or less overlapping values in these 53 children with different average values, as you would expect in two small subgroups from chance. Where did you get 150 from? I’m wondering if I’m discussing the wrong paper now.

    We also have a plausible mechanism (inability to neutralize free radicals).

    Even if these results suggested problems neutralizing free radicals, which they don’t (lower levels do not necessarily mean dysfunction), how is this a plausible mechanism? How specifically does an inability to neutralize free radicals result in autism?

    You could argue that maybe autism created the anomaly and not vice-versa and that’s a possibility. Someone needs to do that research.

    I see no anomaly. Variations within the reference range are not anomalies. I do agree that a better controlled study might be interesting.

    But in the meantime it’s reckless to subject such kids to mercury and aluminum injections, at least until their ability to detoxify is bolstered.

    Even if these children did have problems metabolizing mercury and aluminum, which this study does not suggest in the slightest, the amounts of these substances in vaccines is far too small to cause any problems. The minuscule amounts of aluminum and ethylmercury from metabolized vaccines are easily excreted in feces and urine, just as the larger quantities of mercury and aluminum we absorb from air, water and food are excreted.

    BTW, if you think free radicals cause autism, you might consider how vaccination dramatically reduces free radical exposure – a full-blown measles infection generates far more oxidative stress than an MMR shot, for example. Wouldn’t we have expected to see far more autism in the pre-vaccine era if that were the case?

  5. #5 shay
    June 3, 2015

    rich — did you even look at that chart?

  6. #6 Delphine
    deadlines deadlines deadlines sunshine deadlines beer
    June 3, 2015

    shay, he didn’t read the chart.

    rich, you didn’t read the chart.

    rich makes a statement
    not supported by his chart
    winter approaches.

  7. #7 shay
    contemplating sakura
    June 3, 2015

    Mercury is there/not there
    Amazing how it vanished.
    Antivaxxers weep and mourn.

  8. #8 Narad
    June 3, 2015


    it might be alkylmercury compounds are dealkylated to the inorganic forms, which interact with biomolecules

    I’m on deadline, so I can’t do this up properly at the moment, but I should have skipped the ‘neuro-‘. Consider that the signal of ethylmercury poisoning is nephrotoxicity, unlike the methyl form.

  9. #9 herr doktor bimler
    June 3, 2015

    Concordance of what? I see more or less overlapping values in these 53 children with different average values, as you would expect in two small subgroups from chance. Where did you get 150 from? I’m wondering if I’m discussing the wrong paper now.

    See #199.

  10. #10 RT Cantrell
    United States
    June 3, 2015

    I learned of the “Thinking Moms” a couple of years ago. My husband had been in a dreadful accident, and I changed my Facebook privacy settings to include “friends of friends” so that my updates on his medical condition could be seen by his circle of friends – I was just too overwhelmed by the daily details of life at that point to make individual posts/texts/phone calls to notify everyone. After the first excitement, I forgot to change back to “only my friends.”

    A couple of months after the car accident, I posted something innocuous about the baby getting her regular vaccines. That’s when a friend-of-a-friend, “Blaze” from TMR, began haranguing me about “poisoning” my child. I was a bit nonplussed, but just ignored the silliness. A few months later, a similar post on my Facebook elicited a similar response from “Blaze”/Kim. I was in a mood, so I engaged the crazy. (I know better than to feed trolls, but my curiosity was piqued – why would some woman who graduated from my high school two years ahead of me, someone I wouldn’t know if I ran into her at the grocery store, get so hot and bothered because I had the audacity to vaccinate my own child, just as I had done for her five older siblings?)

    Oh, my! Big mistake! Never mind the fact that mountains of research backed up my decision, never mind that all of my children are blessedly healthy, never mind the fact that the medical decisions I make for my kids are pretty reasonable and well within the parameters of customary and safe practice, I was wrong, wrong, wrong! I was attacked for “abusing” my poor, helpless little baby. That’s when I began perusing Kim’s social media. Imagine my horror at discovering that her autistic son had been subjected to downright abusive quack treatments – from bleach enemas to chelation “therapy,” things I wouldn’t do to my worst enemy, much less a beloved child!

    Mind you, vaccination was one of those things that I never, ever had doubts about – I’ve heard stories from my late grandmother-in-law, who practiced medicine in rural Georgia from 1938 until 1976. Years later, Dr. Katherine was still haunted by the memory of the children who couldn’t be saved, who died or became seriously disabled from illnesses that we can now routinely prevent. But Kim knew better – her child was “taken” from her by Big Pharma and the Medical-Industrial Complex, and by God! she knew better than all of those doctors and researchers!

    I read more and more about the Thinking Moms, and their approaches to their children’s autism, and their attacks on anyone who dared to question “Dr. Mom.” I discussed with a couple of on-line acquaintances, who had just published “Your Baby’s Best Shot,” and who had also been targeted by TMR for daring to diss AoA and TMR and Wakefield and all of the associated silliness. And I concluded, based on my own research? Them women be crazy!

    My take on TMR, based largely on what I know of “Blaze”: Mostly privileged women whose entitlement somehow leads them to believe that they’ve somehow been robbed of the perfect child to accessorize their nice homes, nice cars, and regular manicures. Since they can’t brag about their autistic children’s accomplishments, they brag about their own exceptional efforts to “recover” that child they were entitled to. Nothing revolutionary, no thinking involved, and I’m not entirely sure that most of these loons deserve the title “Mom” (or “Dad”) except in the purely biological sense.

    I have two close friends with autistic sons – one of the boys is profoundly disabled, the other is making great strides and may one day be able to function independently. These friends do revolutionary things: they seek therapies and educational opportunities and social opportunities to help their sons integrate as much as possible and reach their fullest potential, and they accept and love their sons as individuals – not as some jumble of medical problems that must be healed in order that mom may love the person they were “supposed to be.”

  11. #11 rs
    June 3, 2015

    I think I know where to plot winkel’s data point on this chart:

  12. #12 Denice Walter
    June 3, 2015

    @ RT Cantrell:

    What do you know!
    I’ve been watching the TMs’ videos from Autism One:
    Blaze is featured prominently in at least one ( How Not to Die IIRC/ I also saw the Recovery Panel, Writing Workshop and IEP meeting). She is quite the outspoken Southern Belle!

    It disturbs me that they advise parents based upon their spurious educations at the University of G–gle and McCarthy Tech. Unfortunately, two of them who do have relevant training in psychology and social work don’t give exactly SB advice either ( opposing meds in general, buying into woo).

    Although TMR may partially serve its function as a support group for distressed women, it goes far beyond by suggesting medical and psychological intervention for ASD as well as providing role models that eschew realistic solutions to problems parents of kids with ASDs encounter.

    After reading MTR since its inception, I have a similar take on them as you. Watching them up close by video, I did learn that several of them have husbands who “work all the time”.
    I have characterised TMR as ‘group therapy gone wrong’ and I do feel however that some of them could benefit from counselling from a trained person from outside their own orbit of fallacies. I doubt that they would consider it although one did admit she goes to therapy.

    You might be entertained to watch them on video. See Autism One 2015 videos.

  13. #13 Denice Walter
    June 3, 2015

    That’s TMR

  14. #14 RT Cantrell
    United States
    June 4, 2015


    I’ve tried to watch the videos, but I’m dealing with a disabled husband, four kids still at home (plus a spare teenager, long story,) three dogs, etc. I just don’t have the time or patience to listen to the self-absorbed blather.

    If TMR were simply a support group? I’d be all for it. Having a disabled child can certainly be overwhelming, and moral support is important, as is having someone to talk to who can relate to your struggles. Instead, it seems to function as an echo chamber, and no one seems to notice as the echos get weirder and weirder – that reasonable people don’t recommend bleach enemas and chelation and the various other whackadoodle “therapies” these folks are subjecting their defenseless children to. It’s like some terrible game of “telephone,” where the originator said “I use bleach to clean the kitchen counter” and the final player heard “I bleach my kid’s bum to teach him to count.” Horrifying.

  15. #15 Trottelreiner
    June 4, 2015

    Also on my way, but it seems the question if Hg2+ or organic Hg is the main culprit is somewhat difficult, see here. (copy of http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16973445)

    BTW, as mentioned we know what mercury poisoning looks like, and it’s nothing like autism.

  16. […] By Orac via Respectful Insolence […]

  17. #17 Denice Walter
    June 4, 2015

    @ RT Cantrell:

    I’m sorry to hear that your life is so stressful; I hope that things improve for you and your family.

    AND I’m sure that Orac or one of his minions will alert you to any nonsense that the Moms are pushing- which may horrify you or make you laugh. Stay tuned to this channel!

  18. #18 Narad
    June 4, 2015

    Also on my way, but it seems the question if Hg2+ or organic Hg is the main culprit is somewhat difficult, see here.

    Clarkson & Magos was actually my starting point, but I’m now at risk of an off-point scrambling of things, having expended actual thought on the hemolytic-uremic halfwit in another set of comments.

  19. #19 Toto "The Rock"
    June 5, 2015

    “Orac’s inimitable style.”
    Does anyone actually read Orac’s voluminous WORD VOMIT? I never do. I just skim to do a “quackery” word count, and then I post comprehensible, documented commentary regarding vaccine research. BTW, here’s a good one:

    And another: A new CDC broom sweeps clean……

  20. #20 Toto "The Rock"
    June 5, 2015

    “I have two close friends with autistic sons”

    Now what would the odds be of that happening before 1986? (Roll out year of the new vaccine schedule, containing more and earlier vaccines than ever before. This is also the year Big Pharma was no longer legally liable for vaccine adverse events.)

    Activists demand action amid soaring autism rates
    Posted on April 3, 2012
    “Blaxill points to critical flaws in the CDC’s surveillance. Critically, the CDC only goes back to the 1992 birth cohort in their reporting. The clear inflection point, he says, occurred in 1988. Tracing numbers prior to 1988, he says, would give us a better idea how low the numbers actually go prior to the explosion in rates. Perhaps the clearest example of this are the rates of autism in Brick Township, NJ, the location in the US where autism rates were first observed to be growing at an extremely alarming rate. Autism rates in 1988-1989 in Brick were reported to be zero. In four years, the rate of autism there had skyrocketed to one in 128. The ADDM numbers reported last Friday have excluded Ocean County, where Brick is located.”


  21. #21 Toto "The Rock"
    June 5, 2015

    “Even if these children did have problems metabolizing mercury and aluminum, which this study does not suggest in the slightest, the amounts of these substances in vaccines is far too small to cause any problems.”

    In 1999, Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, Division of Epidemiology and Surveillance, CDC, reported “Increased risk of developmental neurologic impairment after high exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccine in first month of life…”
    “Results: ….The relative risk of developing a neurologic development disorder was 1.8 (95% confidence intervals…) when comparing the highest exposure group at 1 month of age (cumulative dose greater than 25 micrograms) to the unexposed group. Within this group we also found an elevated risk for the following disorders: autism (RR 7.6…), non-organic sleep disorders (RR 5.0 …), and speech disorders (RR 2.1…).”

    All that, with just 25 micrograms of thimerosal…….

  22. #22 Toto "The Rock"
    June 5, 2015

    NEVER FORGET! quote of the day:

    “No system is perfect and no medicine or vaccine can ever be guaranteed to be 100 percent free of possible side effects or adverse events, particularly when administered to millions of people. For these reasons, the Department, its constituent agencies (FDA, CDC, NIH, HRSA), the scientific community, and industry strive for continuous improvements in vaccine safety. Speaking for the Department and its agencies, we welcome all constructive input and criticism in this regard….”

    “Statement on Risk vs Benefit of Vaccinations by David Satcher, M.D., PH.D.
    Assistant Secretary for Health and Surgeon General (1999)

  23. #23 Toto "The Rock"
    June 6, 2015

    “scientists who have dedicated large swaths of their lives to the rigorous study of conditions such as autism ”

    The AUTISM EXPLOSION started in 1986-88, the former being the year a law was passed giving Big Pharma vaccine liability protection:

    “On October 1, 1988, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-660) created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The VICP was established to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines. The VICP is a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims that provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines. The U. S. Court of Federal Claims decides who will be paid. Three Federal government offices have a role in the VICP:
    the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS);
    the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ); and
    the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (the Court).
    The VICP is located in the HHS, Health Resources and Services Administration, Healthcare Systems Bureau, Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation.”

  24. #24 Toto "The Rock"
    June 6, 2015

    The “Freddy – Kruger” effect……you never know when autism will strike!

  25. #25 Toto "The Rock"
    June 6, 2015

    Just call me a Vaccine Injury Trust Fund Baby, YEAH!

    I’ve invested a cool $3,359,939,341.89 in, you guessed it, U.S. TREASURY BONDS! Yeah!
    I did set aside a paltry $220,000,000.00 for poor vaccine injured saps. All in a month’s work: September 1, 2014 through September 30, 2014.

  26. #26 Toto "The Rock"
    June 6, 2015

    I think Dunning and Kruger have a case of the “Dunning-Kruger” effect. LOL!

  27. #27 Trottelreiner
    June 6, 2015

    @Toto, 225:
    You talk about changed legislation, but legislation doesn’t directly influence incidence, there has to be some effector. And for that one, your timeframe is somewhat wrong; the MMR vaccine was first introduce in 1971, too early for the autism explosion, the second dose was introduced in 1989, too late for your explosion. You could argue that autism was only diagnosed after doctors felt safe from litigation, but would introduce a disconnect between incidence and diagnosis. Whatever interpretation you choose, it’s going to be complicated.

    OTOH, 1987 saw the introduction of DSM-III-R, which quite changed diagnostic criteria for autism:


    Which, incidentally, is a much easier explanation and would also somewhat fit with some teachers anecdotes; incidence of autism, ADHD and like combined: about 4%, comment of a teacher in the 80s when talking about your’s truly “with every 100 pupils, there are 3 or 4 that show up on the playground, no idea why”.

  28. #28 Chris
    June 6, 2015

    Trottlelreiner: “OTOH, 1987 saw the introduction of DSM-III-R, which quite changed diagnostic criteria for autism:”

    And in 1991 even though my son could not speak, he did not qualify as autistic under that criteria. Now twenty four years later he now has an diagnosis of Autism Level II under both DSM-IV and DSM-V.

    He does test for normal intelligence, which means he does not qualify for Developmental Disabilities Administration services, but also since he could not speak at age three he also would not have been given the Asperger label under DSM-IV. (it does not exist in DSM-V).

    Le sigh.

  29. #29 Narad
    June 6, 2015

    @Toto, 225

    Oh, dear, it’s been discharged again?

  30. #30 JP
    June 6, 2015

    Oh, dear, it’s been discharged again?


  31. #31 Trottelreiner
    June 6, 2015

    And the funny thing is, this was a preliminary result in a two-phase study, and the subsequent phase found no association between thimerosal and autism:


    Where I ask myself how they accounted for different confounding factors, e.g. children with multiple vaccinations having more interaction with medical services, which might see something is odd, or special needs children being supervised by some agency and getting more shots, or special needs children being more prone to injury an thus getting more tetanus shots (one vaccine containing thimerosal), or…

    Oh, and incidentally according to


    the only vaccine recommended in the first month is Hepatitis B, which is used in children of HBV-positive mothers. Where:

    a) Hepatitis B is somewhat associated with intravenous drugs use and unprotected sexual intercourse. Where a tendency for heroin use and autism might share some genetic basis, and sexual victimization is quite common for autistics, especially women.

    b) Hepatitis B is associated with some neurological deficits, so if we expect some immunizations not to work and this children to develop HepB, we also have to expect neurological sequelae in some.

  32. #32 Toto "The Rock"
    June 7, 2015

    @Trottelreiner 229
    The ENTIRE schedule is implicated. The ENTIRE vaccine schedule was different after 1986. The cumulative amount of mercury increased, and for the first time, infants could receive 25mg of it on the day of birth. No safety studies on the ENTIRE schedule had been done. The MMR is the last vaccine to be given in the schedule (12-15 mos.) and contains live virus. A mercury (or now, aluminum) compromised immune system (plus other factors) could easily set the stage for a new kind of encephalopathy triggered by the MMR. We now call it “autism”. The Vaccine Court awarded Hannah Polling $1 million for vaccine induced encephalopathy, ending in an autism diagnosis.

    The Dr. Verstraeten statistics looked at children who had received the same full vaccine schedule, except for the HepB (25 mg thimerosal) missing from one co-hort. That VERY SMALL DIFFERENCE showed a Relative Risk of 7.6 for AUTISM. ANY RR OVER 1 IS SIGNIFICANT! This was from statistics recorded prior to 1999. You can see in the recorded minutes of an emergency meeting called by CDC head, Dr. Walter Orenstein, that a MAGIC WAND was used to make the inconvenient statistics go away.
    Scientific Review of Vaccine Safety Datalink Information June 7-8, 2000 Simpsonwood Retreat Center Norcross, Georgia

    Interestingly, after 2000, the CDC quietly recommended reducing the amount of mercury in vaccines. Interestingly, California BANNED Thimerosal in 2006:
    “The new law, sponsored by Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, was aimed at reducing the risk of neurodevelopmental problems such as autism, which many parents believe can be traced to exposure to thimerosal, a substance used as a preservative in many vaccines.

    Several large federal studies have shown no link between childhood vaccines and autism, but additional research is ongoing.

    The U.S. Public Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1999 began to advocate the elimination of thimerosal from vaccines because some infants who received them were exposed to mercury at levels that exceeded Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.”

    We have yet another interesting “coincidence.” Dr. William Thompson of the CDC Vaccine Safety div. came out in 2014 as a whistleblower, claiming that the 1994 study he co-authored had fraudulent results. He claims that it originally indicated an increased risk of autism with those who had the MMR before 3 years of age rather than later, especially in African-American males. http://www.morganverkamp.com/august-27-2014-press-release-statement-of-william-w-thompson-ph-d-regarding-the-2004-article-examining-the-possibility-of-a-relationship-between-mmr-vaccine-and-autism/

    MISSISSIPPI HAS MANDATORY VACCINE LAW. Here are the results. The statistics support Whistleblower Dr. Thompson’s claims:

    MISSISSIPPI 99.7 % vaccination coverage

    MISSISSIPPI 38% African-American population

    MISSISSIPPI 1 in 88- AUTISM rate. A 563% %t RISE in the number of public school children with autism in the past 11 years.


  33. #33 Toto "The Rock"
    June 7, 2015

    @Trottelreiner #233
    “OTOH, 1987 saw the introduction of DSM-III-R, which quite changed diagnostic criteria for autism….Which, incidentally, is a much easier explanation and would also somewhat fit with some teachers anecdotes;”

    “The Autism Epidemiology Study did not find evidence that the rise in autism cases can be attributed to artificial factors, such as loosening of the diagnostic criteria for autism; more misclassification of autism cases as mentally retarded in the past; or an increase in in-migration of children with autism to California. Without evidence for an artificial increase in autism cases, we conclude that some, if not all, of the observed increase represents a true increase in cases of autism in California, and the number of cases presenting to the Regional Center system is not an overestimation of the number of children with autism in California.”

  34. #34 Toto "The Rock"
    June 7, 2015

    @ #233
    CDC DOCUMENTS THE BEGINNING OF THE AUTISM EXPLOSION: 1987! This is one year after the roll out of the new vaccine schedule (with increased thimerosal) and passage of a law protecting vaccine manufacturers from liability:

    “Although autism was defined previously primarily as autistic disorder and thought to be rare, autism is now considered one of multiple ASDs (2,3). During the 1990s, the number of persons reported to be receiving services for ASDs increased substantially (4–9). In CALIFORNIA, the number of persons receiving services for AUTISM INCREASED APPROXIMATELY 300% during 1987–1998 and approximately 100% during 1998–2002 (4,5). After adjusting for changes in population size, prevalence for persons in the 1987–1994 birth cohorts receiving autism services in California increased from 0.6 to 1.5 per 1,000 population (6). In Minnesota, steady increases have been demonstrated in the prevalence of diagnosed autism among three birth cohorts (7); prevalence in children aged 8 years increased from 2.0 per 1,000 population in the 1997–1998 school year to 6.6 per 1,000 population in the 2001–2002 school year. Nationwide, the number of children receiving special education services for autism increased 500% from the 1991–1992 school year to the 1998–1999 school year (8). Data comparing the prevalence of autism with other disabilities for successive birth cohorts of school children indicated that among children aged 10 years, autism prevalence per 1,000 children increased from 0.5 in the 1984 birth cohort to 1.8 in the 1990 birth cohort; increases were greater in children aged 6 years, increasing from 0.5 in the 1986 birth cohort to 2.4 in the 1994 birth cohort (9).”

  35. #35 Toto "The Rock"
    June 7, 2015


    “DUE TO advances in biotechnology and VACCINE SAFETY, the NUMBER OF routinely recommended VACCINES has been EXPANDED to control newly-preventable diseases, and the COMPOSITION of some vaccines has been CHANGED to provide the safest vaccines possible. The ADVISORY COMMITTEE on Immunization Practices (ACIP) CONTINUALLY makes NEW recommendations to the VACCINE SCHEDULE to further protect the health of our nation’s children. These recommendations for routine use of ADDITIONAL VACCINES to prevent disease RESULT IN INCREASED VACCINE purchase COSTS for the immunization program. The COST, using the CDC contract, of purchasing the vaccines to fully vaccinate a preschool child has INCREASED FROM approximately $130/CHILD IN 1990 TO approximately $394/CHILD IN 2001. For example, the cost of the NEW pneumococcal conjugate VACCINE is about equivalent to the TOTAL COMBINED COSTS of ALL other pediatric vaccines in the RECOMMENDED schedule.”
    Statement of
    Walter A. Orenstein, M.D.
    National Immunization Program,
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
    Department of Health and Human Services

    For Release on Delivery
    Expected at 10:00 am
    on Tuesday, November 27, 2001

    TRANSLATION: We will sell you as many freaking vaccines as we can bribe/con you into adding to the “schedule”. A FAILED measles vaccine (in 1967 we promised only one dose/child for life) is FAR MORE VALUABLE. Now we can sell you three….triple profits!

  36. #36 Murmur
    June 8, 2015

    And why would a piece of US-ian legislation have any effect anywhere else in the world?

  37. #37 Trottelreiner
    June 8, 2015

    @Toto, 235:
    Thank you for the whole paper, to which you sadly failed to link:


    The graphic on page 9 (or 11 in adobe page count) shows your whole “1987 explosion” actually started in 1981, so we can lay that one to rest.

    Never mind this paper compares 1983-85 to 1993-95, and autism is usually diagnosed at 4 years or older, e.g. diagnosis was usually after 1987, after DSM-III-R, they specifically mentioned DSM-III-R and following broadened diagnostic criteria, and they used DSM-IV.

    Also note that with this 4 years lag mentioned above, any change by the 1987 legislation would be seen in 1991 and later. Incidentally there was a fall in autism rates in 1991 according to this same graphic, and some other papers mentioned a flattening after 1991…

    To cut a long story short, you mentioned bogus data, but also linked to the article disproving it.

  38. #38 Trottelreiner
    June 8, 2015

    @Toto, 234:

    The Dr. Verstraeten statistics looked at children who had received the same full vaccine schedule, except for the HepB (25 mg thimerosal) missing from one co-hort.

    OK, let’s use another example. Though numbers are not as big as some might think, there are children with vitamin deficiency. We give supplements to those, but sometimes the damage is already done. Most children don’t have vitamin deficiencies and have no damages, they also usually don’t get supplement.

    Now if we were to compare children who took supplements to those that didn’t, we’d have many children with the damage due to vitamin deficiency in the first group, which is somewhat smaller. We’d also have some children with said damage in the second group, but the whole group is much larger. Result: Incidence of damage due to vitamin deficiency is much higher in children getting supplements than in those that don’t, ergo vitamin supplements cause vitamin deficiency.

    Hope you understand why “correlation isn’t causation” is that much of a mantra for some of us.

    And as already mentioned, we can’t assume a priori the children who got more shots in the first month were the same in any other way. Most likely they weren’t, or they wouldn’t have got more shots in the first month.


    That VERY SMALL DIFFERENCE showed a Relative Risk of 7.6 for AUTISM. ANY RR OVER 1 IS SIGNIFICANT!

    shows you should learn some statistics:


  39. #39 Toto "The Rock"
    June 8, 2015

    The story behind the MIND report:
    “Autism Epidemic
    Responding to the concern of a Dad, whose healthy son became autistic following a series of DPT, Hib and MMR vaccinations, in 1998 the California Legislature decided to analyze the history of autism in the state. Rick Rollens, father of two, former Secretary of the California Senate, and co-founder of F.E.A.T. (Families for Early Autism Treatment — (http://www.feat.org) and the University of California-Davis M.I.N.D. Institute, persuaded the legislature to fund an investigation by the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) into state autism statistics after he concluded his son, Russell, now 9, was not the victim of a rare disorder but one that had become quite common in children.

    California Autism Rates Soar

    Sure enough, in an April 1999 report (http://www.dds.ca.gov) DDS found a 273 percent increase between 1987 and 1998 in the numbers of new children entering the California developmental services system with a professional diagnosis of autism. The report concluded that “the number of persons with autism grew markedly faster than the number of persons with other developmental disabilities (cerebral palsy, epilepsy and mental retardation)” and “compared to characteristics of 11 years ago, the present population of persons with autism are younger (and) have a greater chance of exhibiting no or milder forms of mental retardation. . . .”

    Although autism has been cited by public health officials and autism researchers to occur in 2 to 10 in 10,000 children nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control in a report released in April 2000 found the incidence of autism in Brick Township, New Jersey in 1998 was 1 in 150 children (the incidence in the Granite Bay, California public elementary school district is 1 in 132 children), which may be more reflective of the true rate of autism in the U.S. today. The Autism Society of America estimates that “more than one-half million people in the U.S. today have autism or some form of pervasive developmental disorder,” making autism one of the most common developmental disabilities. (http://www/autism-society.org)

    After the California report documented the dramatic increases in autism in the past decade, the California legislature voted to appropriate one million dollars to the UC-Davis M.I.N.D. Institute to look for environmental and biological factors, including vaccine use, that could have contributed to this autism increase. At the same time, parents began to check autism statistics in other states.

    Other States Report Similar Increases

    The story is the same in other states. The 1998 Maryland Special Education Census Data revealed that the state experienced a 513 percent increase in autism between 1993 and 1998, while the general Maryland population from 1990 to 1998 increased just seven percent. A comparative analysis of the 16th and 20th Annual Reports to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) conducted by Ray Gallup, President of Autism Autoimmunity Project (http://www.gti.net/truegrit) and father of Eric, who has vaccine-associated autism, showed increases of more than 300 percent in autistic children served under IDEA between 1992 and 1997 in the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma,

    Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin.”

    The graph definitely shows an AUTISM EXPLOSION after 1986.
    Please post the yearly vaccine schedule for California from 1968 – 1975, and the year 1986. Please note any years the vaccine STOCKPILE was used in California and what vaccines were used. Also, please list any years that vaccine clinical trials were taking place in California, which vaccine, and how many participants. Thanks!

  40. #40 Toto "The Rock"
    June 8, 2015

    Sorry Trottee
    The CDC scientist used RELATIVE RISK. My statement stands. Otherwise, Dr. O wouldn’t have called an emergency meeting to “deal” with it- at a Methodist retreat center, no less.

    “For technical reasons, some other measures are often used. The relative risk (RR) of a bad outcome in a group given intervention is a proportional measure estimating the size of the effect of a treatment compared with other interventions or no treatment at all. It is the proportion of bad outcomes in the intervention group divided by the proportion of bad outcomes in the control group. In this hypothetical case, the RR is 0.6 (12 per cent ÷ 20 per cent = 0.6).

    When a treatment has an RR greater than 1, the risk of a bad outcome is increased by the treatment; when the RR is less than 1, the risk of a bad outcome is decreased, meaning that the treatment is likely to do good. For example, when the RR is 2.0 the chance of a bad outcome is twice as likely to occur with the treatment as without it, whereas an RR of 0.5 means that the chance of a bad outcome is twice as likely to occur without the intervention. When the RR is exactly 1, the risk is unchanged.”

    RR 7.6 IS A BIG DEAL!
    If Dr. Verstraeten’s results were based on solid analysis, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

    If Dr. Verstraeten’s results were reckless, and should have produced a RR of < 1, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

    "And as already mentioned, we can’t assume a priori the children who got more shots in the first month were the same in any other way. Most likely they weren’t, or they wouldn’t have got more shots in the first month."
    You didn't bother to read the transcript of the meeting discussing Verstraeten's results: http://thinktwice.com/simpwood.pdf

    If Dr. Verstraeten is as incompetent as you say, he should have been fired on the spot at that meeting. That didn't happen. They spent money and 2 days on that report. Participants were flown in from around the country.

  41. #41 justthestats
    June 9, 2015

    Toto, we know what an RR is here. That doesn’t change the fact that your sentence, “ANY RR OVER 1 IS SIGNIFICANT!” is wrong in at least three different ways. I’d tell you how, but that really isn’t a substitute for actually learning how to properly interpret research results; it’s much better to learn such things in context.

  42. #42 justthestats
    June 9, 2015

    Oh, I just thought of a forth way that it’s wrong. And then a fifth. It’s really a pretty impressively wrong sentence.

  43. #43 Toto "The Rock"
    June 10, 2015

    I can think of ten ways you have displayed your stupidity, however, I’ll be polite and not list them. LOL!

  44. #44 Lawrence
    June 10, 2015

    Keep tilting at windmills Toto…..

  45. #45 Vashek
    Czech Republic
    June 21, 2015

    To: Krebiozen @ #55

    My wife had home made zapper with almost no results too, but later on she used Super Ravo Zapper http://www.super-ravo-zapper.com a her problems with asthma and herpes was gone. So I don’t thing home made zapper are any good.

    Autism is curable in some (or most ) of cases as I know couple alternative doctors with great results.

    Some parasites in intestines could prevent other pathogens to sprout, but to be honest, they can cause sudden death as well, so better to avoid them from having them in the body.


  46. #46 Chris
    June 21, 2015

    Vashek: “Autism is curable in some (or most ) of cases as I know couple alternative doctors with great results.”

    Citation needed. Just post the PubMed Identification Numbers of the case histories.

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