Ever since his unexplained sudden departure from UPI, Dan Olmsted has been working on his Magnificent Octopus entitled ‘Mercury Rising’.
He keeps his keen investigative journalism skills to the fore by writing the occasional blog piece for Age of Autism. These skills have included the scintillating exposé
“Where are the autistic Amish?” he asked. “I have come here to find them, but so far my mission has failed, and the very few I have identified raise some very interesting questions about some widely held views on autism.”
Except that Dan Olmsted never visited Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, where
Dr. Kevin Strauss, MD, a pediatrician at the CSC. “We run a weekly vaccination clinic and it’s very busy.” He says Amish vaccinations rates are lower than the general population’s, but younger Amish are more likely to be vaccinated than older generations.
Strauss also sees plenty of Amish children showing symptoms of autism. “Autism isn’t a diagnosis – it’s a description of behavior. We see autistic behaviors along with seizure disorders or mental retardation or a genetic disorder, where the autism is part of a more complicated clinical spectrum.” Fragile X syndrome and Retts is also common among the clinic’s patients.
This is backed up by the fact that in April of last year, a study was published that showed that the Amish vaccinate.
Responses were received by 225 (60%) of the 374 Amish households in the community with children aged <15 years. An additional 120 responses were received by households without children. A total of 189 (84%) households with children reported that all of their children had received vaccinations; 28 (12%) reported that some of their children had received vaccinations; and 8 (4%) reported that none of their children had received vaccinations.
Among all respondents who knew their own vaccination status, 281/313 (90%) reported that they had received vaccinations as children.
As we can see, Dan’s investigative journalism is of the highest order.
Today, he has decided to maintain his high standards by doing what he does best – speculating wildly. This time its an absolute doozy.
Determined to hang on to the thiomersal idea at all costs (despite the fact that thiomersal has been out of all paediatric vaccines since 2002 and autism rates are still climbing in the US, just like the UK and just like Japan), Dan takes every bit of evidence that someone once walked past the house of a man who’s first cousin worked at a paint factory as highly suggestive of metal poisoning. In order to justify his new tome (entitled ‘mercury rising’ – don’t bother looking for it anywhere) he _has_ to keep interest in mercury up. Despite the fact that its quite clear to anyone with an ounce of common sense that the thiomersal hypothesis’ time has come and gone, without it, he has no book, hence no book deal, hence no prestige.
Kathleen, you see, is everything that Dan Olmsted is not. He is slapdash, she is thorough. She checks sources, he thinks they’re what you pour on your dinner. She uncovers _actual_ wrongdoing, he thinks wrongdoing is solely confined to anyone with the title ‘Dr’.
Offit describes Seidel moving to New York City “where she met her future husband, a guitar player. She worked for Project Orbis, a flying ophthalmalogic surgical teaching hospital. …”
Whoa. A flying ophthalmalogic surgical teaching hospital? I suppose it’s possible she just booked their flights and never set foot on the plane, but assuming she was part of the team, I strongly suspect Kathleen Seidel was exposed to thimerosal occupationally.
Ever the principled and thorough reporter, Dan utterly fails to do what any n00b reporter would know to do – check your facts. There was one easy way Dan could’ve saved himself a fair amount of embarrassment over this blog post: he could’ve (get ready for the novel idea Dan!) _asked Kathleen_ . And when he did, she would’ve told him that booking flights did indeed fall under her remit *as a Secretary*. So did dictation, typing and general filing. Knowing Kathleen’s pretty awesome taste in music, I suspect the closest she got to any kind of metal was attending a LedZep gig or two.
Olmsted goes on to say:
Laugh me off if you want, but I have spent a lot of time looking for plausible links between parents’ occupations and autism in their children, and I know them when I see them.
Please, join with me: