Wouldn’t you love to move on from the thimerosal debate? Yes, I mean that as part of the greater move away from the vaccine/autism debate. But we are closing in on the end of the thimerosal era and, let’s face it, the nebulous arguments about “toxins” will be around for a while. People have learned the lessons of not making clearly falsifiable claims or setting deadlines for the “autism rate to decline”, so they will be able to keep the general vaccine discussion alive for some time to come.
But, we aren’t there yet with thimerosal. And, to prove the point, Steve Wilson at station WXYZ in Detroit has managed to regurgitate the standard thimerosal arguments. That would be not surprising. I expect a these aftershocks. What I is really annoying is the methodology. Orac has referred to it as “yellow journalism”, and I quite agree.
Why am I annoyed with Steve Wilson? First off, he starts out by claiming that the “prevailing strategy seems to be to downplay the possibility of any link so that parents will continue to vaccinate their children”. (rough quote, sorry, I just don’t want to listen to that over and over again).
Sounds like a page from the Bernadine Healy playbook. Let’s imply something sinister is going on. Let’s imply that the AAP is hiding evidence. Steve: how about acknowledging that the “prevailing strategy” is to tell people what the science actually says? Doesn’t that seem like the “prevailing strategy” that the AAP and others are using? It does to me.
Another big chunk of the Steve Wilson’s report is based on this statement:
“..the truth is, there is still as much as ever..in 11 vaccines”
At this point, it’s worth reading Orac who lists the actual pediatric vaccines and their thimerosal levels.
You see, Steve Wilson pulled a classic con. Sorry to call it so bluntly, but that’s what I see. He talks about vaccines that aren’t being given to children young enough to develop autism. I don’t even know if the 11 vaccines he is talking about really do have thimerosal. Because, it doesn’t matter in this discussion. What matters is the pediatric vaccine schedule.
The part that bugs me is that Steve Wilson knows it. He gives as an example the thimerosal in tetanus boosters given to 11 year olds. Yes, he actually talks about 11 year olds.
Yep, the goalposts have moved so far, we are building new stadiums. 11 year olds being given tetanus boosters might develop autism. Except for Jim Carrey, who has ever implicated Tetanus shots? Even Jim Carry didn’t indicate that it was the booster given at age 11.
It appears to me that Mr. Wilson isn’t even going to the actual sources for his information. His report is a nice smattering of the standard vaccines-cause-autism line. One bit that caught my attention is when he talks about statements in the congressional record.
A congressional committee that studied the matter has already concluded: “Thimerosal…is directly related to the Autism epidemic.”
I was pretty sure that was a Dan Burton quote, so I Googled it to find the source. I came up with Deadly Immunity, by Robert Kennedy Jr, but I didn’t find the part of the congressional record with it. I looked a bit harder and found that the congressional record shows the statement as:
“Thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines in [sic] likely related to the autism epidemic.”
I don’t agree with the above either. But, compare “likely related” (Steve Wilson) and “directly related” (congressional record). Somewhat different meaning, don’t you think?
I can’t resist putting out some of the list of “what do we know about mercury”? As it turns out, a lot. A lot more than I ever wanted to know, I’ll tell you that. A lot more than actually helps my family. But, here are some examples of what we know:
1) the dose makes the poison. Absolutely. There has to be a dose small enough that it would not cause toxicity.
2) mercury is everywhere. It was in the organic cinnamon-applesauce cup I just ate. It was in the organic lemonade juicebox I just drank. (sounds like I am the one on the playground, eh?).
3) When used in vaccines, it doesn’t increase the risk of most neurological disorders. Most? Yes, they didn’t include autism (see (5) below). Also, there were disorders that were indicated as possibly associated. Then again, there were some positive outcomes that were indicated as possibly associated with thimerosal. It looks like random chance–association is determined by statistics, and if you test enough associations, some will appear to be statistically significant.
4) when injected into pregnant women in RhoGaM type shots, it does not increase the risk of autism.
5) indications are that the upcoming CDC report on thimerosal and autism will show no increased risk.
6) Autism symptoms are not the same as mercury intoxication…autism is not “a novel form of mercury poisoning.
We could go on for a long time with the evidence against the concept that autism is caused by mercury. But, this is just a small list of the many things that somehow didn’t get into Steve Wilson’s investigative report.