Don and Deirdre Imus deliver a hunk a hunk o' burnin' stupid about vaccines and autism (with apologies to Elvis)

Someone sent me a transcript of part of the appearance of Deirdre Imus on her husband's radio show that's been making the rounds in various discussion groups. I'm glad I don't listen to the show, as this segment might have made me take a baseball bat to my radio, if I had enough neurological function to do so after being exposed to the toxic, intelligence-sucking effects of her black hole of ignorance. If you think her two Huffington Post articles that I deconstructed a while back were bad, just listen to her on Imus. Truly, it is hard to do so without losing some brain cells, but give it a try:

IMUS:  Speaking of donating money for good causes...(asking)..Who will you give money to?  You could give it to Autism Speaks so they could waste more money flying entertainers around on private jets, or not getting to the bottom of what the hell they're supposed to be investigating in the first place.

DIEDRE:  No, you can't give to that organization, because they are not addressing the real issues on autism.

IMUS:  Or overpaying a bunch of executives who do nothing.  Anyway, speaking of that...I saw Katie Couric and the robot on NBC the other night, reporting on finding this chromosome....they're claiming that Autism is genetic...what's that all about?

DIEDRE:  There's two things.  There's the California study that was released.  We put out a statement in my environmental center today and I'm also writing a piece on it.  It's very flawed and it's premature.  The study they put out...and it's intellectually dishonest....what they do is hypothesize that all the thimerosal has been taken out of the vaccines, supposedly,,,and they buy into that.  

They say "Well, see, if thimerosal's been taken out, and we're still having a steady increase in autism, how come we're not seeing drops in autism?"  What they fail to recognize, first of all, they don't have access, they didn't check to see and prove these children have not been exposed to thimerosal.  In fact, we do know the children continue to be exposed to thimerosal, because even when the American Academy of Pediatricians recommended in 2001 to remove it, it stayed on the shelves.  

I personally know parents that went to their pediatrician and they got thimerosal as late as 2003 - 2004.  Because it has a shelf life.  Also, coincidentally, when they said they wanted to take thimerosal out, in 2002 they added it to the flu vaccine.  They recommended it for all pregnant women and babies.  So, all of a sudden, they got this heavy dose, 24 micrograms, or 12 micrograms of mercury again.  

And, even the vaccines they say they removed thimerosal from, have trace amounts.  We found out the CDC and FDA can't really verify what the trace amounts are.  So, the trace amounts could mean anything.  Bottom line, mercury is mercury, mercury is toxic, it's a neuro-development toxicant and mutagen...and it's going to cause harm.

IMUS:  I know you know a lot about medical stuff, what's the quickest way to kill yourself?

DIEDRE:  Inject yourself with mercury.
IMUS:  To be serious, I have great admiration for you, but, I can't listen to it.  That's the problem....people don't want to hear about it.
DIEDRE:  Why wouldn't you want to hear about that, when the main-stream media need groups like mine to give the other side of the story?  Unfortunately, groups like Autism Speaks have scientists from the CDC and NIH that are covering this up.
KARA:  It's like there is a medical mafia, controlling all the money, not letting the truth get out.
IMUS:  What's this chromosome they found?
DIEDRE:  Well, that a separate study.  Chromosome sixteen.  Without getting into all that, they're trying to claim autism is genetic.  This is where they contradict themselves and their studies actually validate that it's environmental.  Yes, you can have a genetic pre-disposition, but, even this chromosome suffered mutagenic damage.  Which means, some kind of insult happened to damage the chromosome.  That's what they never address.  A big culprit, as we know from studies, are heavy metals.  Of course this includes mercury....all sources of mercury.

Oh, goody. Deirdre Imus is going to write an article about the California study that I discussed earlier this week. I can hardly wait. Surely it'll be more of the arrogance of ignorance. I don't know if I'll bother with it or not, given that I already know what it will say, but we'll see. If it's spectacularly idiotic enough, it might be an entertaining exercise to take a look.

As for the rest, it's just more of the most idiotic conspiracy-mongering. Particularly ignorant is her last statement. First, the study that found a region of chromosome 16 linked to autism is but the most recent of a number of studies that strongly point to a genetic cause. Second, as the study itself states, this mutation is only associated with 1% of autism cases, and 90% of children carrying it inherit it from parents. Sorry, Deirdre, but that says nothing about an "environmental" factor. As for "prenatal" exposure to mercury, the amount of mercury in a single flu shot that pregnant women are encouraged to take, it would be hard to differentiate that from the exposure that most women get to mercury from the environment in the time before their pregnancy and before they know they're pregnant, and you'd have to show that mercury in thimerosal at the doses given could cause this particular mutation. Deidre Imus just assumes that it must be the mercury.

When it comes to the recent California study, not to mention the numerous other well-designed studies that failed to find a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines or vaccines in general and autism, Deirdre Imus and the antivaccinationists that she encourages reminds me of Penelope Budisch. The bottom line is that the California study was just the latest high profile study that failed to find a link between thimerosal and autism. The mercury militia know it's a huge blow to them, and that's why they're pulling out all the stops to attack or downplay it. Expect more of the same over the coming week or so.

More like this

Longtime readers of this blog know that my original exposure to antivaccination conspiracy theories first occurred in the context of the now pseudoscientific and discredited hypothesis that somehow the mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be used in vaccines was the cause of autism.…
I've mentioned before that it irritates me that Don Imus is back on the air. It's not that I give a rodent's posterior that he made an offensive comment about the Rutgers women's basketball team that lead to his being fired from his previous gig. It's actually more because he somehow managed to…
He's baaack. Yes, that radio voice of the mercury militia, the shock jock Don Imus, who was so ignominiously booted from his nationwide syndicated radio show last spring is coming back to the airwaves on December 3 on WABC radio in New York, with plans to syndicate him again nationwide. Personally…
I'll give Don Imus credit for one thing. He's predictable and consistent. He never fails to deliver the stupid when it comes to vaccines and autism. True, his wife may take the stupid to hysterically malignant levels when she decides to rant about her belief in the undead myth that mercury in…

So to sum up the antivacc responses to the CA study thus far:
1. If Mercury doesn't cause autism, some other evil Big Pharma conspiracy toxin in the vaccine cocktail does
2. The study was flawed because there is no 'proof' that thimerasol was actually removed from the vaccines at all
3. Exposure has not decreased because kids and pregnant mothers still get flu shots containing thimerasol
4. The 'truth' is being buried by the 'Medical Mafia'.

Astonishing arrogance.

The quickest way to kill yourself is to inject yourself with mercury??? I guess maybe if the mercury constituted part of a bullet-shaped amalgam being 'injected' into your brain tissue at 300 m/s ...

Orac, I thought your warning about losing brain cells was hyperbole, but after reading this I really do feel lightheaed.

Interesting butt-covering going on. She lambasts the study for saying that it could be genetic, basically telling us that the study is just another part of the conspiracy. But then she goes on to confidently suggest that mercury could cause this mutation.

Does she even realize how idiotic she sounds? "This study is BS, but it shows how mercury causes autism." *shakes head* So the study is both invalid and valid in her mind.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

Something really needs to be done about these dim-witted turd mongers. What the main-stream media needs is a prime-time smackdown of these fools, not a fictional and irrational "other side of the story". As parents of two autistic teenagers, my wife and I try to combat the stupid, but some people are just impervious to reason.

By Kerry Maxwell (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

Right... It has to be the Mercury. It's so Obvious even a moron like Imus can figure it out. Well, that solves that!
Perhaps she can now go on and cure cancer for us.
Somehow I am not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

From the Imuses once more we learn
that real science we all can spurn.
Your parenting lacks
if you're not anti-vax.
The stupid! Oh God! How it burns!

As the evidence continues to grow
and studies continue to show
that autism is not
caused by a shot,
more than all doctors they both seem to know.

Thanks, Orac, for fighting the fight.
Idiocy must be shown the light.
With people like you,
PZ and ERV too,
perhaps we can stem this blight

"IMUS: I know you know a lot about medical stuff, what's the quickest way to kill yourself?"

A: Listen to these idiots until your brain melts.

The most ignorant statement in there seems to be "mercury is mercury, mercury is toxic." Yes, and sodium is sodium, sodium is explosive, so don't eat salt. The inability of anti-vax woos to understand that elements and compounds of those elements have different properties--you know, day two of High School Chemistry--is simply astounding.

It gets much, much worse.

The link above is to a story about a woman who murdered her autistic child partly on the guilt she apparently carried about having her daughter vaccinated. The kicker? The kid was only 3 years old. She didn't get any thimerosal in those vaccines.

On my own blog, I talk more about the religious implication; the mother claims she did it because her kid would be "fixed" in heaven.

Once again, anti-vaccination and religious craziness show up in the same incident... this time taken to an incredible extreme.

I wonder if Dee-eer-uh-duh-ruh knows what a microgram is...

I have heard the "Prove thiomersal was removed," line already. Any links that would do so?

By Robster, FCD (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

Anti-vaccine zealots and their followers, like all promoters and supporters of quackery, are a sorry lot. It's all about self esteem and (for some) a meal ticket. The followers, if they are for real, should be pitied for their ignorance and hopelessness, if not for their arrogance and general lack of manners. The quacks who peddle baseless ideas in order to take advantage of and fleece the ignorant and vulnerable, and we know who they are, are fighting to retain their lucrative livelihoods - their "right" to deceive and thieve.
When you look at the disgusting and dangerous things they do to children in order to "cure" them of something they certainly don't understand, are they so much different from medieval exorcists or the experimenters the Third Reich such as Dr. Josef Mengele?

The most ignorant statement in there seems to be "mercury is mercury, mercury is toxic." Yes, and sodium is sodium, sodium is explosive, so don't eat salt. The inability of anti-vax woos to understand that elements and compounds of those elements have different properties--you know, day two of High School Chemistry--is simply astounding.

And yet how many of these same nimnulls are drinking silver-based crap and turning blue as a result, out of the same ignorance of chemistry? They think that an element is always good or bad no matter its setting.

It seems a wonder that people as stupid as Don and Deirdre Imus could be this stupid and still have brain stem function.


It's not stupidity, it's willful ignorance. They have their beliefs, and they won't give them up. It means admitting they were wrong, and some people are not mature enough to do that.

Someone else once defined insanity as "trying to do the same thing over and over again, and failing over and over again."
The scientific community has said, over and over again, that thimerosol in vaccines does not cause autism. They have said repeatedly, with sound scientific studies behind them, that Autism is not mercury poisoning. The anti-vaxer crowd still maintains it's the vaccines causing the illness, despite all the evidence to the contrary, despite a good number of high-quality studies that it is not the vaccines or their ingredients. Therefore I respectfully (if not a bit insolently) submit that the Anti-Vaccine crowd is insane.

It isn't willful ignorance it is willful lying.

It is making stuff up and pretending there is some evidence for it. Making stuff up and pretending it is true.

It is the same as shouting fire in a crowded theater.

proof there is no god - if there was, then stupidity like this would hurt more. Or rather, it would hurt those who speak it, not those who hear/read it.

my head hurts now.

By CanadianChick (not verified) on 13 Jan 2008 #permalink

Don and Deirdre are doing a parody (probably unintentional) of what the networks do when they have one reporter interview another. You know, like when the network news anchor "interviews" their "Washington, D.C. correspondent" about political issues.

In both situations, neither the interviewer nor the "interviewee" know anything about the issue apart from what they've been told.

It's like interviewing a tape recorder.

You could fill entire libraries (hundreds of libraries) with the things that Deirdre doesn't know about medicine.

That's what makes her an "expert", I guess.


I have heard the "Prove thiomersal was removed," line already. Any links that would do so?

From a 2002 CDC meeting:

"N.I.P. estimated the amount of thimerosal in provider vaccine inventories in a survey conducted September 20, 2001 to February 20, 2002. The targets were a convenience sample of providers getting site visits from public health officials across the country..."

"In September 2001, 225 sites were canvassed, and 447 by February 2002. The decline in thimerosal-containing vaccine went from 5.6 percent to 1.9%, from 33,500 doses out of 63,600; to 2,796 doses out of 149,147..."

"Of the 447 interviews, 83.5 percent reported no thimerosal-containing vaccines in stock at any time since October 2001..."

A calculation error in the report needs to be clarified, though. It's actually 56% in September 2001 vs. 1.9% in February 2002. It was a very sharp drop.

Those who think this is not good enough evidence because there's a big conspiracy going on could presumably do their own random tests to confirm.

Joseph, thanks.

By Robster, FCD (not verified) on 13 Jan 2008 #permalink

IMUS: I know you know a lot about medical stuff, what's the quickest way to kill yourself?
DIEDRE: Inject yourself with mercury.

There you go. Faster than cyanide, potassium chloride and Digitalis I guess. The things you learn.

I'd think "inject yourself with antimatter" would be a better answer. "Stand under a rocket engine" would be an even better one. And here I thought being a tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist required an imagination...

I'm an Imus fan from way back, but both he and she have completely lost it with respect to autism. It's a shame that he continues to use his radio soapbox to to promote this snakeoil b.s. My daughter has autism and this noise is disturbing as it only diverts attention and dollars from legitimate science and research. Deidre Imus was a D list, wanabee actress who married well and now has a megaphone to promote her whacky theories. As far as I'm concerned, she has no standing in the medical or scientific community.

No no no Ex et al, the quickest way to kill oneself is by listening to and beleiving their crock, if you get my intent.

I can't help but wonder about the psychological basis for this. It's interesting to note that this is one of the few possible aetiologies that can be universally pegged to an outside agent (the guy with the stabby needle). Genetics? Well that's effectively the parents fault - your child has a severe learning disability because your genes suck. Teratogens? So something you unwittingly exposed your child to during pregnancy (or early infancy) caused it? Even more so. Autism is a pretty awful thing for a parent to deal with, it's not surprising that they'd be actively looking for someone (other than themselves) to blame.

Secondly, it's been noted that most parents only start to notice the manifestations of autism around the time of routine vaccinations, which makes the connection a bit stronger.