I’m privileged to be visited on this blog by a number of people far, far cleverer than me who can take very careful examinations of provided materials and highlight the problems with them.
Bartholomew Cubbins has taken the time to provide video reviews of (so far) two of the key papers underpinning the autism/thiomersal hypothesis – Burbacher et al and Waly et al. They are very accessible, even to non-scientists, and because they’re video, you can pause to look up new words as you need to.
Interverbal is a blog run by Jonathan Semetko. Jonathan conducts reviews of statements and theories that apply to autism. His latest post touches on the use of California DDS numbers as used by several people to justify the existence of an autism epidemic.
As I’ve discussed previously, whats important in these numbers is intakes of 3 – 5 yo. This is because these are/will be cases post-thiomersal e,g after the vast majority of thiomersal has been removed from vaccines. This point was conceded by David Kirby in an email to blogger Citizen Cain when he admitted:
if the total number of 3-5 year olds in the California DDS system has not declined by 2007, that would deal a severe blow to the autism-thimerosal hypothesis. He also conceded that total cases among 3-5 year olds, not changes in the rate of increase is the right measure.
NB: The date of 2007 is contentious, there seems to be some validity to the claim that Kirby stated that 2005 was the year to watch, not 2007. I hope to clarify this once and for all fairly soon. Rick Rollens has definitely claimed 2005 was the year to watch.
Last week, California DDS published their quarterly figures and as usual people strove to extract meaning from them. Ginger at Adventures In Autism produced a graph showing that the rate of increase was decreasing.
Unfortunately, the data Ginger used to plot her graphs included _all_ age groups, not just 3 – 5 year olds. As we’ve seen, this cohort is the only one that can indicate whether the post-thiomersal generation numbers are decreasing or not. Thiomersal has been very substantially reduced for this age group so a change should be clear.
So now advocates of the thiomersal/autism hypothesis are in a quandary. Their source data is plainly inaccurate, a point admitted by Kirby. If we are therefore to conclude that (as many in the autism/thiomersal camp claim) that the reduction in thiomersal is causing a drop in numbers then they have to abandon the ‘safety net’ position of the remaining thiomersal in flu vaccines being responsible for a maintenance or even increase in autism cases. The reverse, of course, is also true – those who claim that flu in thiomersal means more autistics will be ‘created’ cannot claim that these figures indicate a drop.
Of course, the probability that neither of these cases are true is the ‘best fit’ – autism cases are still rising and these figures only show a reflection on cases that are known to California DSS and cannot reflect one way or the other the state of prevalence in that state.