Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Still an antivaccine crank after all these years


Only really long time readers will remember this, but back in the day (June 2005, to be exact), I discovered Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and his antivaccine nuttery when he published his epically bad piece of antivaccine conspiracy mongering, Deadly Immunity, both in and Rolling Stone (the latter of which doubled down on it a few years later by reposting it). My deconstruction of the logical fallacies, errors of science and fact, and just general silliness of Kennedy’s article was one of the first times I was ever really “noticed” in the blogosphere. Since then, every so often, or so it seems, I’m drawn back to RFK, Jr., just because he can’t seem to stop the conspiracy mongering over the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal in vaccines and his obsession with its link to autism. It’s a link that’s long been disproven by clinical trials, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to use various cases to “prove” a link between vaccines and autism, insinuate that the CDC is covering up a thimerosal-autism link, out-crank another vaccine-autism crank Sharyl Attkisson, use the case of Poul Thorsen to distract from inconvenient science, and link his environmental activism to his antivaccine activism, thus tarnishing the environmentalist movement as long as the Kennedy name.

When last we visited him, RFK Jr. had been threatening to...write a book! And write a book he had done, a book entitled Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak: Mercury Toxicity in Vaccines and the Political, Regulatory, and Media Failures That Continue to Threaten Public Health. With the book’s imminent release in early August, media attention has been less than stellar, but the attention of the antivaccine crankosphere has been a bit more intense. Indeed, I had considered letting this cup pass because, well, I’m sick and tired of RFK, Jr., and I’m not sure that there’s much that I want to say about him right now. Still, as I say, there are some topics that inevitably drag me in, even as I resist and procrastinate for a couple of days, and RFK Jr.’s antivaccine quackery appears to be such a topic. Also, there has been a bit of mainstream media attention in the form of an article by Keith Kloor in The Washington Post a few days ago entitled Robert Kennedy Jr.’s belief in autism-vaccine connection, and its political peril. There are a few juicy tidbits that I learned in the article, although the article seems a bit more sympathetic to RFK, Jr. than I would like. The article also says little about RFK Jr.’s partner in this endeavor, Dr. Mark Hyman, who has been an intermittent topic on this blog and has been known to mangle autism science and medicine rather spectacularly.

The good things I learned is that, increasingly, RFK, Jr. is being viewed by mainstream politicians and media as the crank that he is. (And, make no mistake, on the subject of thimerosal in vaccines, RFK, Jr. is a crank par excellence.) Remember Senator Barbara Mikulski, for example? She co-sponsored a resolution that declared one week during last October to be Naturopathic Medicine Week, or, as I called it, Quackery Week. She also co-chaired a meeting with the creator of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), where Harkin complained that NCCAM had “fallen short” because it hadn’t “validated” enough CAM, completely misunderstanding how science works and supported an amendment to the Affordable Care Act to have it cover CAM practitioners. It goes on and on; she appeared at the anniversary of the integrative medicine center at the University of Maryland and has even appeared on Dr. Oz’s radio show to promote “integrative medicine.” She is among the most woo-friendly legislators out there.

And even she didn’t take RFK, Jr. seriously:

Sen. Barbara Mikulski listened impassively as Robert Kennedy Jr. made his case. He had to talk over the din in the marbled hallway just outside the Senate chambers, where he was huddled with Mikulski, two of her aides and three allies of his who had come to Washington for this April meeting.

Kennedy, a longtime environmental activist and an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, had thought Mikulski would be receptive to an issue that has consumed him for a decade, even as friends and associates have told him repeatedly that it’s a lost cause. But she grew visibly impatient the longer he talked.


The Maryland Democrat turned from Kennedy without a word. “I want to hear what you have to say,” Mikulski said, looking up at the lean man standing next to her. Mark Hyman, a physician and best-selling author, is Kennedy’s chief collaborator on a then-unpublished book titled “Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak,” which is scheduled to come out next week. The book argues that ethylmercury — a component of thimerosal — is harmful to human health. (Not so in trace amounts, scientific authorities have concluded.)

According to Kloor, Mikulski’s reaction was less than enthusiastic. Basically, she just referred RFK, Jr. to Sen. Bernie Sanders, because he “cares about brain health” and oversees a related subcommittee. Sanders’ reaction was at best noncommittal, perhaps because RFK, Jr. basically made threats if he doesn’t get what he want. His threat? To publish his book! However, his threat was highly disingenuous, coupled as it was with the usual claim from antivaccinationists that they’re really and truly “not anti-vaccine”:

The normally voluble, white-haired senator was convivial, then, as Kennedy got going, fell silent. “We don’t want to publish this book,” Kennedy told him, holding up a copy of his manuscript. “We are very pro-vaccine.” He motioned to Hyman across the table. “Vaccines save lives. We don’t want to alarm the public by showing them the science. We have a publisher lined up, ready to publish it. But we said no.”

I can’t help but contrast this reaction to the sorts of reactions he got nine years ago after he had published Deadly Immunity, which were, except for the science blogosphere, largely laudatory. It’s also interesting to many who follow the antivaccine movement, the better to counter it, to see that Mark Hyman has let his antivaccine freak flag fly more than I expected him to. As you might recall, Hyman is a leading proponent of a form of “integrative” medicine quackery known as “functional medicine.” It’s a medical philosophy that is maddeningly vague in its definition, encompassing a grab bag of various forms of woo that involve environmental inputs, inflammation, hormones, gut & digestive health, detoxification, energy/mitochondria/oxidative stress, and, of course, “mind-body,” whatever that means. No woo would be complete without mind-body, you know. (Actually, no self-respecting woo would leave out “detoxification,” either.) Despite having looked at it for several years, I still haven’t been able to figure out to my satisfaction what, exactly, distinguishes functional medicine from quackery, as functional medicine recommends treatments full of supplements, dietary manipulations, and “detoxification.” It’s the sort of treatment that practitioners of “autism biomed” quackery, chiropractors, and naturopaths love, in which “imbalances” must be measured through a battery of lab tests and corrected with whatever woo functional medicine practitioners can dream up. Most recently, he has been in the news because apparently he’s become the health guru for Bill and Hillary Clinton.

So it’s not surprising that Hyman is antivaccine and would sign on to the thimerosal-vaccine fear mongering that RFK, Jr. has been promoting for a decade now. I’m just happy that Sens. Mikulski, even as woo-friendly as she is, and Sanders both basically listened to RFK, Jr. politely, probably feeling like a trapped animal desperate enough to chew his leg of to escape, then patted RFK, Jr. on the head, and sent him on his way. What’s depressing, though, is that RFK, Jr. would not command personal audiences with various powerful senators to promote his crank views were it not for his lineage, his family name. He would not be able to command audiences with high ranking CDC officials and scientists from the FDA and National Institutes of Health. It’s unlikely that anyone in authority would give this crank the time of day were he not a Kennedy, because he doesn’t deserve it.

Another juicy tidbit from Kloor’s article that RFK, Jr. had shown a copy of his and Hyman’s manuscript to experts, with dismissive results:

Most of those who did respond were dismissive. Philip Landrigan, a leading public health advocate and physician who heads the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, offered a reply that stung. “We were buddies,” Kennedy said. “I got a curt note back from him, saying, ‘This isn’t worthwhile, and this is an effort you should immediately abandon.’ ”

Kennedy remained defiant. “The only way I can stop this is if someone shows me I’m wrong on the science.”

That is exactly what science bloggers have been doing since at least 2005, showing that RFK, Jr. is wrong on the science and even the facts, such as the elaborate conspiracy theory about the Simpsonwood conference he embellished in Deadly Immunity, a turd that he’s been polishing ever since. It’s like shooting fish in a proverbial barrel. But, RFK, Jr., being the crank that he is, doesn’t listen. Unfortunately, as described in Kloor’s article, certain misguided scientists, such as Irva Hertz-Picciotto (whose bad science we’ve discussed recently) and Martha Herbert (whose lack of compelling publications we’ve also discussed) give him just enough encouragement to be able to say that “some” scientists support him.

Perhaps the most hilarious development, not covered in Kloor’s article, is the reaction of a certain familiar antivaccine activist to this passage:

Some of the most controversial sections — the chapters connecting autism to thimerosal — Kennedy took out at the last minute, though there are still references to a link to autism. Hyman convinced him that such claims were too combustible and would distract from the book’s core argument, that “the evidence suggesting a link between thimerosal and a large percentage of neurodevelopment disorders … mandates action.”

Or maybe, at some level, even Hyman realizes the “science” cited by Kennedy is bogus. It’s actually as bogus as the “science” linking thimerosal in vaccines to neurodevelopmental disorders, but I guess he’s not bothered by that. Our old buddy, Young Master Jake Crosby, though, clearly is bothered. He’s bothered very much, so much so that he has accused RFK, Jr. of “joining the thimerosal cover-up”:

Except that autism is the most serious of those neurodevelopmental disorders caused by thimerosal. The person who convinced Kennedy – his coauthor Dr. Mark Hyman - is a profiteer of alternative “therapies” for autism. He has even discussed treating a child with autism for elevated mercury levels and has an obvious stake in attracting more patients like that to his practice.

Meanwhile, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. betrayed the very people he spoke about his book to at last year’s AutismOne conference. He kept them waiting for his book to come out while deliberately delaying publication for one year, only to remove the chapters on autism “last minute.” In doing so, he has in-effect joined the very CDC cover-up of thimerosal’s harms that he previously denounced by censoring incriminating evidence on the premise of it being “too combustible.” Thankfully, the unpublished, unedited manuscript of Kennedy’s book is also available.

Yes, apparently somehow Jake got his hands on a copy of the original manuscript. It wouldn’t surprise me if RFK, Jr. himself sent him a copy, as Kloor’s article reports that RFK, Jr. was sending the manuscript to political allies, university health experts and CDC officials. I can’t help but wonder what RFK, Jr. and his publisher will do about his hosting a copy of RFK, Jr.’s manuscript on his blog. No doubt if they protect their copyright and go after him, Jake will paint it as just part of the conspiracy.

Two antivaccine cranks fighting it out in court, now that would be a delicious twist to a not-so-delicious story of antivaccine crankery.


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Two antivaccine cranks fighting it out in court, now that would be a delicious twist to a not-so-delicious story of antivaccine crankery.

I'll bring the popcorn. :-D

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Two antivaccine cranks fighting it out in court, now that would be a delicious twist to a not-so-delicious story of antivaccine crankery.

Oh, I doubt this would go to trial. If Mr. Crosby's lawyer is worth even a fraction of his hourly rate, he'll advise his client to settle. I realize that Mr. Crosby might choose to act as his own lawyer, but if he does he will have a fool for a client, and I don't think even he is that dumb.

Not that this will stop him from playing the martyr. Any excuse will do, and a DMCA takedown is a better excuse than some he has used.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

And RFK's marvellous tome is being published by....Skyhorse

It looks as though this week is shaping up to deliver *beaucoup de woo*.
I ran across Jake's post the other day and then heard that the chief woo-meister @ PRN and his faithful servant, Richard Gale, are premiering their scholarly expose
of the physicians who work as publicity agents for the Pharmatocracy this week. I suppose that Orac will rank high on that listing.

And after Mikey had revealed on which subject area** his
BS degree focused, he went on to out-godwin Godwin***

Jake in court as his own representation is hilarious.

-btw- I am occasionally invited to an environmental event at which RFK appears.

** technical writing
*** on GMOs.
Caution: his godwinning includes horrific photographic records of the Holocaust.
Shame on him.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

The person who convinced Kennedy – his coauthor Dr. Mark Hyman – is a profiteer of alternative “therapies” for autism. He has even discussed treating a child with autism for elevated mercury levels and has an obvious stake in attracting more patients like that to his practice.

I can't even wrap my mind around the level of cognitive dissonance required to make that statement without seeing that it applies to the entire antivax/autism biomed movement Jake supports.

After Keith Kloor featured Kennedy on the front page of the Washington Post Magazine, did anyone think that Kennedy's latest attempt to become a science journalist would go unnoticed?

Steven Salzberg at Forbes has covered the story:…

And, so has Phil Plait:…

Kennedy wanted the publicity and he's got's just not filtered through the Kennedy PR machine.

Having looked at his book draft document online, I would say that I think Kennedy's opinions would never have been printed by any publisher with proper, professional standards. However, the operation he used - Skyhorse publishing - run by a man called Tony Lyons appears to me to apply no credible standards of editorial care, or really much interest, when it comes to anything to do with autism.

Having read Wakefield's ludcrous and grotesquely defamatory screed, and seen extracts from a junk book by a guy called David Lewis, I have sadly come to the view that, in this area, Lyons has simply spotted that he can sell any kind of crap to the often desperate parents of children with autism. Just like the folks with the hyperbaric oxygen tanks, the transfer factors, vitamin pills and magic diets, it seems to me that Skyhorse aims to prey on the vulnerable with unchecked junk that I find it hard to believe Lyons even reads before he puts it out to the printers.

There's a whole bunch more coming from Lyons, I believe, but the Lewis book is classic. Lewis is a kind of Walter Mitty character who was an expert in dental equipment hygiene, but then came a cropper in the field of sewage sludge where he admitted in a deposition that he lacked the requisite expertise to opine on its effects on a plaintiff because he was neither physician nor pathologist.

Then he was adopted by the anti-vaxxers - who records say paid him and a Georgia church he operated $45,000 - while he prepared abusive attacks on me in cahoots with Wakefield. Bizarrely, the impetus for this - he says - was that my journalism was of such a high professional standard that it could not have been done by me. Then he went on to allege that because I noticed the same mismatches in histopathology between Wakefield's paper (disease) and the findings of Wakefield's hospital's own pathology department (health) as were noted by a professor of paediatric gastroenterology (admittedly after I heard the pathologists and the professor give evidence in a public hearing) that I must be in conspiracy with the professor and instructed by the British government. That's right, I was instructed by the British government, he says, to front an investigation that I never even wrote myself.

Is "loon" sufficient? I wonder what Mr Lyons would say. Probably: "Who gives a shit, we're making money."

We are talking green ink whack-job, working with Wakefield, whose text was so bad that he didn't even manage to spell the legendary Aids research figure of Harold Jaffe's name right (indeed, spectacularly and repeatedly wrong). And yet, this unchecked, brain-dead garbage was pumped out by Lyons, presumably because he figured that even if he only shipped a few around the anti-vax autism conferences, he could scrape back his costs from parents who would not know better until giving him their money.

Here is what Lewis says of me (if you haven't seen it). I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the man's stupidity. I have him filed under "funniest crank":

This is the company that Kennedy keeps. I'm hoping now that Lyons will commission a book from Jake Crosby, explaining why Jake is the only person not now involved in the plot with me, Paul Offit, Marx Blaxill and Robert Kennedy to poison America's children.

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

@ Brian Deer:

Lyons has a daughter with autism and BOTH he and his ex-wife have written books about it.
Published by Skyhorse.*Naturalmente*

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

I think Skyhorse's business model is to sell books to authors who carry them around to places like AutismOne. The author has his/her box of books and sells them one by one to people coming out of "how camel's milk and fermented beans will save your child from vaccine injury" talks.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Not surprising that Mark Hyman would be involved in writing this book with Kennedy.

In addition to promoting woo, he sells multiple lines of supplements on his website, some under the name "Hyman Enterprises", including stuff advertised for "detox".

Trying to drum up more fears about thimerosal can't help but be good for business.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Lyons' ex has an Icelandic patronymic name which I forget.
Skyhorse also gave Null his own imprint.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

He was recently invited as a panelist in one of the live StarTalk podcasts (Neil D. Tyson's one), which is one of the more popular science podcasts. And more recently even? Mayim Bialik. Not as an actress, mind you (Paul Rudd and Michael Ian Black were also there), but on the "science" side of the proverbial table.

Have any of you actually read the huge edited-out sections of Kennedy's book, which Jake linked to? What a sloppy mess.

This is a big publishing season for the AoA cranks. Books written by Dachel, Heckenlively and Lou Conte are slated for publication by Skyhorse. At least the sex offenders' probation officer Conte's book is classified as a work of fiction.

What's happening with the Chicago Quackfest? It looks like Generation Rescue is no longer a co-sponsor and the Arrangas are running the show on their own.

@ lilady:

A few months ago, I intrepidly scanned the entire alphabetical index of Skyhorse books( because I was searching for bizarre titles) and survived.

But. really.. words nearly fail me!- * Quel load de dreck*

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Not surprising that Mark Hyman would be involved in writing this book with Kennedy.

Did Jake bother to mention this?

Narad, what the heck does that mean?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

I was a bit gobsmacked to see Keith Kloor, who is usually very good, give this unholy alliance any credence at all. I complained to him on twitter about Hyman and got a curt reply that the article "wasn't about him". But what distinguishes Hyman from Mercola and all the other quacks hawking supplements and books? Would any legit doctor have partnered with RFK jr? Maybe Mercola.

By Fiona Gilsenan (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Narad, what the heck does that mean?

There appears to have been some professional assistance in the production of the manuscript. I suppose one will have to wait for the real thing to see whether it's acknowledged and, if so, how.

L-rd knows the file that Jake posted is a complete mess; hundred of footnotes that are nothing but URLs aren't exactly quality editing.

Camels milk? One hump or two?

By Mark Thorson (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Purely for your ( hopefully) perverse entertainment-

I compiled a rough list of recognisable Skyhorse authors
( including those with new releases or upcoming *Meisterwerke*) as I had finished my work much earlier than is usual today: so why not?

Blaxill, Conte, Dachel, Heckenlively, Hjalmarsson** (2), Holland, Lewis, Lyons (2), McCarthy, Mikovits, Null (several), Rohde, Stagliano (2), Wakefield (2). Also TMR.

New/ Upcoming:
RFK *et Cie*, Zack Peter ( AoA), Conte & Lyons, Siri & Lyons and Mark/ Dan Blaxsted have a new one: "Vaccines 2.0"

** perhaps it's not Icelandic

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

MT @ 24 -


What hump?

By palindrom (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Denise Walter, I was at the library and saw a copy of Pubisher's Weekly. The cover sheet was just four pages of Skyhorse Publishing advertizing. Check out the cover (and yes, I checked and there was no "cover story"):

You've got to wonder why Kennedy didn't pitch his new book to the big name publishers of his previously published books:

(Or, maybe he did and he was told they would pass on this new book)

I know this is a little off-topic, but I thought RI regulars would be interested in a new book by Arthur Allen. He was on Fresh Air today talking about it's a true story about two scientists who developed a typhus vaccine and double-crossed the Nazis. Here's the blurb from amazon (not endorsing amaon):…

Mark Thorson @24: there is an episode of Dirty Jobs (back when Discovery showed interesting stuff) where Mike Rowe is helping out at a camel farm. The owner goes on and on (and on) about how good camel milk is for you, how healthy, but they can't sell it yet because the state (CA) won't give them a license. It might have been raw camel milk too. Watching Mike try to keep a straight face is wonderful.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

What hump?
There wolves!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Do you mean this Adam Hadhazy?

I am puzzled, lilady. The link leads to a tinfoil-hat website, but there is little connection to Hadhazy, except that a news item he wrote for Popular Mechanics is cited in a footnote.
(the news item in question being a report of the Wakefield retraction).

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

"There appears to have been some professional assistance in the production of the manuscript."

Kennedy was clear on this at AutismOne. He said he'd spent something like $200k on "research" or some such. Since he isn't doing original research, it was "research" in the "collecting information and putting it into a clear form" of research.

One might say, ghostwriting.

Didn't Kloor also acknowledge that was happening in this book?

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

I was at the library and saw a copy of Pubisher’s Weekly. The cover sheet was just four pages of Skyhorse Publishing advertizing.

I'm only seeing covers 1 and 2, and no detailed rate card. The IBPA discount (PDF) is $3900 for a four-color nonpremium full page, so I'm tempted to guess five figures for the cover.

I think I know what the point is supposed to be (generating reviews), but I wonder whether they'll break even on this deal.

Oops, you busted me herr doktor bimler. I googled Adam Hadhazy and came up with that article.

Google has failed me !!!

One might say, ghostwriting.

One might, but Kennedy's listed as "editor" on the cover. Hence my mention of the yet-to-be-seen acknowledgments.

Has anyone bothered to look at the metadata (beyond the properties) of Jake's copy to look and see if the edits to the manuscript can be seen? Word does this funny trick where it will store edits even if you're not actively tracking them.

That's why I create secure PDFs of sensitive things.

Also, if I had RFK Jr. in front of me, I would ask him this:

1. If Wakefield is correct, and the MMR causes autism, where does thimerosal fit into that narrative since the MMR vaccine never contained thimerosal.

2. If thimerosal is so bad, and it started to be used as a vaccine preservative since the 1930s, why is it only now that it was mostly removed from childhood vaccines that we see this "epidemic" of autism?

3. If thimerosal does cause all these bad things that you claim it causes, are all those bad things worse than the diseases that the vaccines so obviously prevent?

I think I know the answers to all this, but I'm just curious.

By the way, who is “Nicole” and why did she edit the document?

We dong get them in PPC Maracaibo.


I can't see the image.

I get this as metadata

mimetype - application/msword
language - U.S. English
paragraph count - 760
line count - 2702
company - Microsoft
word count - 56890
page count - 197
creator - Adam Hadhazy
date - 2014-07-18T19:55:00Z
generator - Microsoft Office Word
character count - 324275
last saved by - Nicole
creation date - 2014-07-18T19:55:00Z
template - Thimerosal_Kennedy

Note that Jake's post was put up on the 18th
JULY 18, 2014 9:23 PM

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Note that Jake’s post was put up on the 18th
JULY 18, 2014 9:23 PM

IIRC, Jake's joint time-stamps in UTC.

Yeah--we don't know the time zones. But it looks like it was edited (possibly just opened and saved) the same day.

Total edit time is listed as zero.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Is it Nicole Crosby and Jake is just using her computer?

It would be funny as hell if he were running a "Family Pack" license, or worse.

the same day as it was posted, I meant to say.

If "nicole" is Jake's mother, that could mean many things. Like she's the one who has licensed the copy of Word he uses. Or, she did a save as to lose trackable edits.

Why would someone edit this (assuming it was edited)? Most likely explanation--to remove a page that says, "for your review. Please don't make public" or something along those lines.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Yeah–we don’t know the time zones.

No, my point was that I think we (TINW) do.

Anyway, what else does Jake have to do so that people will stop trusting him?

My guess is that Kennedy didn't want this made public. It seems clear Jake isn't "leaking" this for Kennedy. Jake saves and publishes emails. He even let out Dan Olmsted's secret nickname on a blog comment (Olmy). OK, leaking emails is one thing, but when we get to nicknames, it's time to draw the line!

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

I think Jake must be feeling like this document came at just the right time. His arsenal of emails to leak seems to have dried up. I worried that we were soon going to get emails leaked like

"Can someone tell Andy that Karaoke time is *my* time? I mean seriously, can't he just leave that alone? And tell him to button his shirt, for god's sake!

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

One might speculate as to who might have passed along a review copy to Jake in the first place (my Inner Intutive says it wasn't Kennedy, but I didn't consult the Ching or anything).

One could speculate that all the parts supposedly edited out of RFKs final draft were not there to begin with and were added to Jake's copy so as to make Jake angry. I'm just speculating. It would take a conspiracy to pull that off, like something out of the movie "Snatch" with Brad Pitt doing a horrible accent.

@ Ren:

Interestingly enough Jake thought that my usual scoffing at conspiracy mongering demonstrated the fact that I didn't understand history or suchlike.

Yes yes I live in a sparkly, candy-coated dream world where unicorns fly like Pegasus, prime real estate is affordable and only moderate liberals get elected to represent the people.
Oh wait that last one is true.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Even if Kennedy didn't share it with Jake directly, he would have shared it with people Jake knows. Brian Hooker comes to mind. Hooker said he was giving Kennedy information.

Hooker is likely feeling jilted. But he uses Jake to do dirty work. Hooker probably wants to appear as the nice guy is very one can like and criticising blaxill, Kennedy or others wouldn't play into that.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

I. Rony Meter: I'm thinking along the same lines. Jake as Hooker's dupe, which, to me, would be a nice fit. Jake likes the intrigue and the conspiracies. Hooker, according to the information "out there" is hurting for money and Kennedy may have thrown some money at Hooker for some minor "research", which may have given Hooker access to those 197 pages which Jake provided on his blog.

Whoever prepared those 197 pages did a poor job; they're one hot mess.

P.S. Jake as a "source" for any additional consequential information about the dirty underpinnings of the anti-vaccine movement, is played out.

It would take a conspiracy to pull that off, like something out of the movie “Snatch” with Brad Pitt doing a horrible accent.

Hey now, Pitt's Pikey wasn't that bad and not because it's Pitt but rather the Pikey. By the by, I'm enjoying the intriguing conversation.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

If Andy can have a second career as a movie producer, with his own media company, why shouldn't we try it.

We could post an appeal for funds on Indiegogo and the only decision the production committee would have to make is to classify the movie as a mystery or as a comedy.

What I think will happen with Lyons will be the same as happened with a great many of the HIV denialists. In years to come, when his output on this subject will be unequivocally exposed as garbage that harmed people - hurt real people who believed it - he will say "Oh, no, I was only calling for a debate."

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

But it looks like it was edited (possibly just opened and saved) the same day.

If Mr Crosby is going to carry on pimping that version of Kennedy's book as an alleged insight into Kennedy's true thoughts, it could be worth asking Jake why anyone should believe a word of its contents, since he himself was demonstrably the last person to edit it?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

Take a glance over at AoA to see the new posts about Kennedy's book. I can only conclude that Kennedy is suffering from some sort of delusion, because his fixation on Thimerosal as causing autism is based on listening to these ignorant crank anti-vaxxers.

Seriously Bobby, get some professional help to try to figure out why you would ever believe anything that these lying liars claim.

(Not to be confused with Louis Conte, the sex perverts’ probation officer whose recently published semi-fictional book on the Vaccine Court received high marks from the book reviewers at AoA

Really? They appear to be one and the same to me.

(Not to be overly scrupulous, but although I'm not sure who the sex perverts are or what their crimes were, I'm even less sure how their probation officer would be implicated by them. Dirty work, but somebody has to do it, etc.)

Sounds like Bobby has substituted one addiction for another....

Ann: Lou Conte and Louis Conte are the same people :-)

Lou/Louis was one of the researchers on that dreadful EBCALA study.

His qualifications to be a researcher and to peruse and competently interpret medical records? He's a probation officer who monitors sex offenders who are out of jail on probation status. Eminently qualified?

Whilst horrendous alt med information proliferates obscenely across the internet and in books- like a festering, malodourous swamp- there are a few entities that stand out in my mind as the WORST veritable sinkholes of un-reason and they earn their purveyors money and fame:

PRN, AoA, Skyhorse, TMR, and NaturalNews.

ANH has an agenda which seeks to expand the influence of this trend through legal and legislative actions worldwide.

So what's a sceptic to do? It's too early for a drink so I'll have to write.

Although many of the leaders support themselves by creating or broadcasting this garbage, it could not be sustained without the cheerleaders and supporters who provide encouragement and monetary rewards to the perpetrators.

So who are these people? Malcontents, mal-educated and snarling complainers who have an axe to grind against the world and against successful professionals. Many of them have time on their hands in which to posture as critics and reformers on topics about which they are clueless but able to confabulate profusely. They spread their mis-information widely through social media - indeed, that is how TMR got its start- and internet radio.

I've looked into the educational backgrounds of quite a few of the principals and notice that amongst those who present as scientists most have had little in the way of formal instruction in science and statistical analyses. I'm sure you can guess about whom I am speaking.

Since the economic woes of 2008-2009, I've noticed that blaming governments and corporations for personal problems increased, being reinforced by woo-meisters' rants against elitists Attributing negative outsomes to external sources is a rather primitive way to preserve self-esteem but that's what these sites exemplify.

Woo thrives through the clever usage of both its thought leaders' and audience's psychological mechanisms.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Jul 2014 #permalink

That should be "complainers who have AXES...."

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Jul 2014 #permalink

Would sending a tweet innocently asking if @RobertKennedyJr was aware of @JakeLCrosby's distribtion of unedited proofs of his new book be generally classified as a naughty thing to do?

It would?


By Rebecca Fisher (not verified) on 23 Jul 2014 #permalink

Well, it seems Jake can't say he hasn't been warned:

Wayne Rohde @waynerohde Jul 18
@JakeLCrosby Take the chapters of Kennedy's book off your website. You might have some copyright legal issues with the publisher.

Jake Crosby, MPH @JakeLCrosby Jul 18
@waynerohde No.

Wayne Rohde @waynerohde Jul 18
@JakeLCrosby Ok, but I think you will run into some legal issues with you releasing part of a book that is copyright protected.

By Rebecca Fisher (not verified) on 24 Jul 2014 #permalink

@ Rebecca Fisher:

That's truly specatular.

About 3 years ago, I gave Jake unsolicited advice regarding his career opportunities possibly being diminished due to his anti-vaccine activties and writing: apparently he didn't listen to me.

Really- now can you imagine he could do anything worse to f@ck up his chances more ( other than public nudity or admitted hacking) for a reasonable position in the real world? I suppose he doesn't ever need to work- the family fortune being what it is.

Unfortunately I do care about university/ graduate students even if they are loons. Although I think that in this case I know exactly where I have to draw the line.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 24 Jul 2014 #permalink

About Jake and his blog -

I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought Jake, operating a blog with no adult supervision, would eventually post something that would get himself in legal trouble. What does surprise me, is that it has taken over a year. I would have thought he would have lawyers on his tail 6 months in.

Not really, methinks. On something of such over-riding concern as the safety of vaccines, public interest would trump copyright or confidentialty. Kennedy, of course, could sue frivolously so as to impose costs on Jake - in the same way that Wakefield does - but I don't think Kennedy is of the Wakefield shade of charlatan such that he would pull stunts like that.

Who cares if people see the first draft of Kennedy's efforts? When I read it I was just surprised by how poor the standard of his work was. Considering all the hoops of editorial checking, document production, conferences and legal meetings that I have to go through to publish anything about vaccines, I'm amazed by the shit that comes out of Skyhorse. Just astonishing.

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 24 Jul 2014 #permalink

@ Johnny:

re " operating a blog with no adult supervision"

Jake is IIRC 25 or 26 years old.
People usually develop a smattering of self- monitoring/ self- regulation by that time. At any rate , I should hope that they do.
Legal troubles are the least of his problems at this point.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 24 Jul 2014 #permalink

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought Jake, operating a blog with no adult supervision, would eventually post something that would get himself in legal trouble.

All that is necessary is for the copyright holder to issue a DMCA takedown to the host. If Jake contests it, then the legal action starts (in a venue not of his own choosing, IIRC).

If there's no DMCA, then nobody cares. What's certain is that Jake's response to Wayne Rohde is perfectly appropriate.

OUTRAGED MESSAGE BEGINS-------------------------

Shills and Minions,

I do hope that some of you with legal expertise would look into this dreadful mockery of our SkyWhores imprint. We've been producing pharma-apoligetics screeds for decades now and this is an outrage I tell you, an outrage!

I shall have to consult with Domina Walter on this current, uh . . . oh, yes, outrage!

Thoroughly outraged and more than a little exhausted at this point,

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL

Grand High Über Super Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Lord of the Dance, Master Lizard of the Presses with Knuckle Clusters

Glaxxon PharmaCOM SkyWhores Publishing & Dissemination Division

-----------------------------OUTRAGED MESSAGE ENDS

By Glaxxon Pharma… (not verified) on 24 Jul 2014 #permalink

Actually, the kid's link to the contents of Kennedy's book gave us the opportunity to judge its content. I'm willing to bet that Kennedy is p!ssed. They'll be no surprises, no new revealing research and no evidence of a conspiracy to poison kids The publicity that Kennedy has received before publishing, may not be the type of publicity which Kennedy had envisioned.

I keep asking Jake about his GWU Masters-level "culminating experience", and he just never replies. I'm hurt.


Everyone, and I mean everyone, including the retired history teacher/Media Editor, the science teacher and the sex offender's probation officer are using Skyhorse as their publishers.

Denice Walter wrote;

** perhaps it’s not Icelandic

The proper Icelandic spelling would be Hjálmarsson with an acute accent.

The accent getting left off is likely enough, of course, but perhaps even more likely, it's Swedish - we spell it that way, and have almost 30 times the population.

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 24 Jul 2014 #permalink

The proper Icelandic spelling would be Hjálmarsson with an acute accent.

Or even Hjálmarsdottir?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 24 Jul 2014 #permalink

Slightly OT - Humorous anti-vaxer quote of the day.

Jenny Allen: "PS - NO I didn't need a faecal transplant,"

I don't really need to finish this - you're all way ahead of me, I can tell... :-)

By Rebecca Fisher (not verified) on 25 Jul 2014 #permalink

I agree with Narad and Brian Deer wrt the copyright issue.

Also, pursuing it to the point of judgment entails some risk of ending up on the wrong side of the cause in first-amendment terms.***

(***I realize that might not be an "also". But I don't want to put words in mouths, etc.)

herr doktor bimler wrote:
Or even Hjálmarsdottir?

If this Hjalmarsson is female, we can probably safely assume she's not Icelandic; the Icelanders take their patronymics seriously, and don't turn them into gender-neutral surnames like the Continental Scandinavians do. She might, of course, be of Icelandic descent but grown up somewhere that doesn't use patronymics or gender-varying surnames.

(My own patronymic-looking surname derives from my great-great-grandfather Johan Ernst, who apparently didn't want his children to carry his military surname. In the next generation, the patronymic got treated as a surname and my grandfather inherited it instead of the patronymic Algotsson that he "should" have got.)

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 25 Jul 2014 #permalink

@ herr doktor and Andreas:

You know, at first I mis-rememberd her name as "Hjalmarsdottir" - but I didn't write it, not being sure-which is probably why I guessed Icelandic but looking through that catalogue of wacky and wooful books ( Skyhorse) I found that it was Hjalmarsson.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Jul 2014 #permalink

-btw- I assume that my own two last names are patronymic as they are both masculine personal names ( although the other one may not have been centuries ago). There are some FitzWalters around I hear.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Jul 2014 #permalink

I did not mean to suggest that Jake would find himself in any sort legal trouble from a criminal standpoint, and that he would cross the line into criminal behavior. I did ( and still do) believe that he might post something that could be considered libel, and could land him in civil court.

That he could wind up in court over a copywrite issue (yes, we're several steps from there, but on the path) is a bit of a surprise to me. Anybody who fancies themselves as a journalist should know that you cannot publish an entire creative work (or even very large portions) without permission. If Kennedy doesn't mind, that's his business, and that would be that. But if Jake does it again, it might be something that someone does care about.

Would Jake honor a take down notice? We won't know for sure until it happens, but if I had to bet, I'd pick 'no'. Jake is a crusader, on the side of righteousness, and not afraid of confrontation (or stalking). Several of his posts seem to me to be spoiling for a fight, and the cooler heads of others are only dampers.

Well, you are missing the point. He's not a journalist. He's not even really a blogger. He is basically an individual who uses technology to be abusive to others, which he's doubtless been doing pretty much since he learnt to walk..

Although I understand he came to the conclusion while watching Fox News that he was vaccine damaged, there have been people like him out there since humans came down out of the trees. There have always been abusers and haters, but in the past they have been limited to their homes and communities. Where generally they have been shunned and excluded.

Nowadays these people can vent their abusiveness on those they have never met, and even join together with others of a similar disposition.

Doubtless Mark Blaxill was cheering him on when he was venting his bile on people such as Paul Offit, David Gorski and myself. I wonder whether Blaxill has now had a good hard think about the vile hatred he and Olmstead were publishing from Crosby now that it has been turned on themselves.

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 25 Jul 2014 #permalink

Wow ... I just found all this anti_anti-vaccine diatribe ... posted by idiot savants ... But do not ask the right Q ...
Why is there no Autism in the Amish community?
Why do the countries with the highest vaccine rates have the highest Autism rates?
Why are the symptoms of mercury toxicity the very same as Autism symptoms?
and Why is the amounts of mercury injected into tender growing minds related in a one_to_one relationship to that entity we call Autism?
Why is this never discussed by perpetrators of social injustice ... It is because that want everyone to be Sick ... and then being sick is the norm ...
Unvaccinated kids have higher IQ ... perhaps that is the reason ...

Jake was the darling of the AoA crowd when he posted this early in his journalism career. It was the anti-vaccine sh!t spoon fed to him by his mommy Nicole. He's not a science journalist and his "toxicity" has nothing to do with the vaccines he received as a young child.

@ Spentz: Would you like to clarify your statement about vaccines and autism?

Lemme guess, is Spentz a chiro or a "naturopath"? Maybe not even that high up on the nutter-altmed chain, perhaps homeopath?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 25 Jul 2014 #permalink


There is autism among the Amish.
Try a search on this website.
Since most of your questions have an implied claim behind them, could you please provide a citation for each question?

And, just because I was curious...…

This is also a problem in the U.S. Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the highest autism prevalence in states with the best autism health and support services, such as Arizona (121 cases per 10,000 people), Missouri (121) and New Jersey (106). In contrast, areas with fewer services have lower rates, such as Alabama (60), Arkansas (69) and Florida (42).

Over time, however, as more parents and clinicians become familiar with autism, prevalence goes up. In many parts of the world, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan and Scandinavia, "The rates were flat through the late '80s, and then suddenly a massive rise happened at same time," Fombonne says. The rise is probably not due to a mysterious global environmental exposure, he says. "It's more likely to reflect new concepts of autism worldwide."

Low autism prevalence is not confined to poor countries. A handful of small studies in France, for example, have found rates around 5 cases per 10,000 people. One study in Germany calculated it to be 1.9, and another in Portugal 16.7.

Differences in scientific approach among these countries may affect the results, notes Mayada Elsabbagh, research associate at Birkbeck University of London.

"In some European countries, they have very psychodynamic views about autism," she says. "If you don't think this disorder is driven by biological causes, then you wouldn't think there was any use in doing epidemiological studies or trying to understand causal pathways."

Elsabbagh is working with 11 international researchers on a systematic review sponsored by the World Health Organization, including articles published in languages other than English.

"Some of us started with the bias that there's nothing out there, but it turns out there's a lot, they just don't tend to be in mainstream journals," she says. The report is expected to be published later this year.

And, I went to the WHO for some international vaccine coverage numbers and picked out numbers for two shots of measles containing vaccine for 2011 (except Canada which only had numbers for 2012).

I popped the numbers into Excel and came up with this little chart for the ratio of Autism Incidence (in cases per 10,000) to vaccine coverage in %.

As a look at the graph will show the numbers are all over the place, which doesn't look like much of a correlation between incidence and vaccination. I didn't bother doing any statistics.

My personal guess about what it "means" is that, as suggested by the quote, incidence varies wildly depending on how exactly you count autism and how hard you look for it.!6216&authkey=!AIu…

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 25 Jul 2014 #permalink

Would Jake honor a take down notice?

He very likely wouldn't have a say in the matter. If his hosting service wants to preserve safe harbor under the DMCA, they have to honor nonfrivolous takedown requests and pull the content. Then the ball is in his court.


Wow … I just found all this anti_anti-vaccine diatribe … posted by idiot savants …

An "idiot savant" is someone who, "demonstrates profound and prodigious capacities or abilities far in excess of what would be considered normal". That probably does accurately describe some of the commenters here, but somehow I don't think that's what you meant.

Why is there no Autism in the Amish community?

It is very well established that there is. There are even clinics that specialize in treating autistic Amish children, for example the Clinic for Special Children (CSC) in Strasburg, PA, that researches genetic causes of autism (among other things)

Why do the countries with the highest vaccine rates have the highest Autism rates?

They don't, as squirrelelite has elegantly demonstrated.

Why are the symptoms of mercury toxicity the very same as Autism symptoms?

They aren't. We know a lot about the effects of inorganic and organic mercury poisoning at various levels and there are many symptoms of mercury poisoning we don't see in autism such as "peripheral neuropathy, skin discoloration (pink cheeks, fingertips and toes), swelling, and desquamation (shedding or peeling of skin)" (from Wikipedia). Other symptoms of autism such as enlargement of some areas of the brain are not seen in mercury poisoning.

Why is the amounts of mercury injected into tender growing minds related in a one_to_one relationship to that entity we call Autism?

It isn't. Not only is toxicity from the tiny amounts of thimerosal in vaccines vanishingly unlikely, but epidemiological studies show no hint of a link.

Why is this never discussed by perpetrators of social injustice …

Because none of it is true. Why do people like you keep attempting to perpetuate these lies?

It is because that want everyone to be Sick … and then being sick is the norm …

People today are generally healthier than at any other time in human history. A study in the US found that between 1999 and 2008, "expected years of life are getting longer, health-related quality of life is improving, and health disparities between population groups are decreasing". Yet you claim that, "being sick is the norm". I find it very strange that people like you make such clearly inaccurate claims. Why is this?

Unvaccinated kids have higher IQ … perhaps that is the reason …

That isn't true either, in fact the opposite seems to be the case. A study a couple of years ago, 'The effect of vaccination on children's physical and cognitive development in the Philippines' found that:

We find no effect of vaccination on later height or weight, but full childhood vaccination for measles, polio, Tuberculosis (TB), Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) significantly increases cognitive test scores relative to matched children who received no vaccinations. The size of the effect is large, raising test scores, on average, by about half an SD.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 26 Jul 2014 #permalink

Thanks, krebiozen, for doing a point-by-point response.

I thought of doing something like that, but decided to respond to one particular instead.

And, I'm glad you liked the chart.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 26 Jul 2014 #permalink

I’m glad you liked the chart.

As they say, "a picture paints a thousand words..."

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 26 Jul 2014 #permalink

@ squirrelelite:

I also like the chart..
HOWEVER anti-vaxxers will twist and turn it into a proof that horribly processed, non-organic diets, pollution, GMO ingestion, SBM**, inactive lifestyles, stress-inducing atheism, the general decadence, competiveness and ego-centrism of non-agrarian societies, computer usage and FUKUSHIMA
cause the higher rates.

** including vaccines, antibiotics and hospital births

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Jul 2014 #permalink