RFK Jr. writes the standard crank screed in Huffpo, and it’s like a mirror reflection of the CBS news crankery that Orac takes on.
Let’s see, it’s a crank screed so it at a very minimum has to have four elements. The wacky idea, a bunch of inflated non-evidence, conspiracy theories to deflect criticism, and finally, notions of persecution. Let’s see how RFK Jr. does.
The poisonous public attacks on Katie Wright this week–for revealing that her autistic son Christian (grandson of NBC Chair Bob Wright), has recovered significant function after chelation treatments to remove mercury — surprised many observers unfamiliar with the acrimonious debate over the mercury-based vaccine preservative Thimerosal.
We already have the wacky idea – thimerosal causes autism and chelation cures it. This is despite the systematic reviews and Institute of Medicine Report that say thimerosal doesn’t increase the rate of autism, and the complete inability of the chelators to show efficacy in a real clinical trial. Criteria one is satisfied, next, what’s the inflated proof?
Many of these women tell a story virtually identical to Katie Wright’s — I have now heard or seen this grim chronology recounted hundreds of times in conversations, e-mails and letters from mothers: At 2-1/2 years old, Christian Wright exceeded all milestones. He had 1,000 words, was toilet-trained, and enjoyed excellent social relations with his brother and others. Then his pediatrician gave him Thimerosal-laced vaccines. He cried all night, developed a fever and, over the coming months, this smart, healthy child disappeared. Christian lost the ability to speak, to interact with family members, to make eye contact or to point a finger. He is no longer toilet trained. He engaged in stereotypical behavior–screaming, head-banging, biting and uncontrolled aggression, and suffers continuously the agonizing pain of gastrointestinal inflammation.
Ah yes, the anecdote. And it’s plural! But the problem is the plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data.
After hearing that story a couple dozen times, a rational person might do some more investigation. That’s when one encounters the overwhelming science — hundreds of research studies from dozens of countries showing the undeniable connection between mercury and Thimerosal and a wide range of neurological illnesses.
This is hysterical. Hundreds of studies? That’s a baldfaced lie. Undeniable connection? Well, after a week of listening to the Autism Omnibus and the pathetic expert testimony consisting of circumstantial evidence and experts that lack credibility – I’m still unimpressed. Maybe he’s talking about the evidence provided by Andrew Wakefield? Or the Geier quacks? Or those great articles in Medical Hypotheses? Yes, stunning and overwhelming evidence indeed. But, as a crank he’s got to deal with the fact that systematic reviews and real experts have dismissed this link as specious.
In response to the overwhelming science, CDC and the pharmaceutical industry ginned up four European studies designed to disguise the link between autism and Thimerosal. Their purpose was to provide plausible deniability for the consequences of their awful decision to allow brain-killing mercury to be injected into our youngest children. Those deliberately deceptive and fatally flawed studies were authored by vaccine industry consultants and paid for by Thimerosal producers and published largely in compromised journals that neglected to disclose the myriad conflicts of their authors in violation of standard peer-review ethics. As I’ve shown elsewhere [see www.robertfkennedyjr.com], these studies were borderline fraud, using statistical deceptions to mislead the public and regulatory community.
The CDC and IOM base their defense of Thimerosal on these flimsy studies, their own formidable reputations, and their faith that journalists won’t take the time to critically read the science.The bureaucrats are simultaneously using their influence, energies and clout to derail, defund and suppress any scientific study that may verify the link between Thimerosal and brain disorders. (These would include epidemiological studies comparing the records of vaccinated children with those of unvaccinated populations like the Amish or home-schooled kids who appear to enjoy dramatically reduced levels of autism and other neurological disorders.) The federal agencies have refused to release the massive public health information accumulated in their Vaccine Safety Database (VSD) apparently to keep independent scientists from reviewing evidence that could prove the link. They are also muzzling or blackballing scientists who want to conduct such studies.
The conspiracy has landed! And it’s a doozy. The CDC, the IOM, the American Association of Pediatrics, and the Pharmaceutical companies are all in cohoots! And don’t forget those bureaucrats (said through clenched teeth), you know how they’re always on the side of evil. And the Pediatricians! If kids didn’t get sick, they’d be out of a job! Clearly they want autism to be pervasive.
Well, we’re almost done. We’ve gotten the wacky idea, the crazy evidence, the response to evidence by alleging a conspiracy, and all we have left is persecution. Do we have persecution?
But the patronizing attacks on the mothers of autistic children who have organized to oppose this brain-killing poison is one of the most persistent tactics employed by those defending Thimerosal against the barrage of scientific evidence linking it to the epidemic of pediatric neurological disorders, including autism. Mothers of autistics are routinely dismissed as irrational, hysterical, or as a newspaper editor told me last week, “desperate to find the reason for their children’s illnesses,” and therefore, overwrought and disconnected.
Ironically, it is the same voices that once blamed autism on “bad parenting,” and “uninvolved” moms that are now faulting these mothers for being too involved.
Persecution! We’re done. He did it without mentioning Galileo, but it’s still the tired “science was wrong before so it’s wrong now” argument. And the people who used to blame the mothers were Freudian quacks, not epidemiologists. Nice attack on all of science though. And as far as doing another study, that’s fine, but when it shows the same thing, as every other study attempting to show a link has done, expect them to move the goalposts yet again.
It’s interesting reading Arthur Allen’s coverage of the Omnibus and the most recent expert witness – this one for the gov’mint – clearly describing the evidence that Michelle Cedillo had numerous signs of autism long before she received the MMR vaccination.
The problem here, and elsewhere, is the post hoc ergo propter hoc argument mixed with the age-old suspicion of vaccination. The evidence is anecdotal, the epidemiology undermines the link, the papers the mercury people promote do not show a link, thimerosal has been removed (10 seconds until I hear a trace argument again) with no corresponding decrease in autism rates which should have appeared by 2006. The experts like Wakefield and the Geiers are a joke, and even the ones they’re willing to trot out in court were completely unconvincing. There is nothing here but anti-vaccination denialism.
And thanks to Lab Lemming for my new moving goalpost gif!