Autism just plain isn’t mercury poisoning. When can we move on?
Even some of the people who loudly promoted the mistaken idea that “autism is just a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning” have backed off. But, the groups that promote autism as vaccine injury are packrats: once they’ve collected an idea, bad or not, they won’t ever let it completely go.
Some of you will be thinking, dang, another mercury post. I agree, there are a lot of good arguments against blogging about the mercury-autism connection any more. For one, it gives the idea press that it just doesn’t deserve.
I do think this is worth posting about, though. “This” is the expert report from Dr. Patricia Rodier, submitted to the Autism Omnibus Proceeding. In a single document, we now have an expert on both mercury toxicology and autism. Not faux experts, or worse, businesspeople and public relations people, but an actual, bone fide expert in both fields. I.e. we have a good document to give to people who are being snowed under by the misinformation campaign promoting autism as mercury poisoning.
When Patricia Rodier testified in the Autism Omnibus Proceeding, I was very impressed–and I blogged it right away. I remember at the time telling a friend that it was good to finally see someone officially debunking things like Sally Bernard et al.’s paper, Autism: a novel form of mercury poisoning. My friend pointed out that any college freshman in science (and most not in science) should be able to tear that “paper” apart.
Unfortunately, “should be able to tear the paper apart” isn’t enough. Many people don’t have the time and/or energy. So, many people still think that paper is valid. Let’s face it, that “paper” should have been retracted by the authors long ago, but they still soldier on with the “autism is mercury poisoning” message.
Dr. Rodier’s qualifications are quite good. Her summary is quite good:
As a research scientist who has studied both the toxic effects of methylmercury in animals and autism in children and animal models, I believe I am qualified to evaluate the scientific merit of the allegation.
She may be the only person in the world who has studied both mercury toxicity and autism.
What does she think? In a nutshell:
My conclusion is that the allegation has no scientific support and is highly improbable
Dr. Rodier notes that the comparison that autism and mercury poisoning appear similar isn’t even close.
In othcr words, because the symptoms of methylmercury poisoning
are not similar to those of autism, the authors have tried to construct a new, hypothetical kind of mercury poisoning from symptoms of toxicity of other mercury species and symptoms never reported for any kind of mercury exposure. The hypothesis is not based of facts; instead, the facts are being selected, manipulated, and shaped to fit the hypothesis. The hypothesis is then offered as evidence. But hypotheses are not evidence.
Ouch. Ouch, that is, if you are someone promoting autism-as-mercury-posinong.
Dr. Rodier can back up her words, as we discussed in the previous blog post. But, let’s say that again, Dr. Rodier uses research based facts, not manipulated hypotheses, to come to her conclusion.
I need to get a clean copy of that document, one that looks as good as the information it contains. That document needs to get into the hands of people being lured by the pseudo scientists promoting autism as mercury poisoning.
Thank you, Dr. Rodier for putting yourself on the line to testify. Thanks also to the HHS for allowing these reports to be made public.