David Kirby/Arthur Allen Debate Part II

22 Jan

Once upon a time, there was a man called David Kirby and he came to believe in a certain hypothesis so much that he wrote a book called ‘Evidence of Harm: _MERCURY IN VACCINES AND THE AUTISM EPIDEMIC: A MEDICAL CONTROVERSY_’ and this man wrote lots of blog posts that he never discussed on his blog and eventually he also agreed to a debate and this debate was called ‘Vaccines and Autism, Is There A Connection’.

The man made an opening statement which outlined his beliefs and these were….

Woah there…._’both in vaccines and in the environment’_ ? Where did that come from? How did this man who wrote a book who’s strapline talks solely about vaccines and who is participating in a debate who’s title refers solely about vaccines suddenly think it was OK to start talking about ‘the environment’.

Now, don’t get me wrong – he may be right, he may be wrong. That is not the point. The book and the debate are about the _vaccine_ hypothesis. Didn’t this debate have moderators?

Woah!!!! What the hell…? The first part of that little soliloquy is fine, but then….ah, lets look at it written down:

_”I’m not here to say thimerosal causes autism, I’m not here to say thimerosal is the only cause of autism. We don’t know what causes autism. But there’s evidence to suggest that **mercury** is one of the culprits in at least one of the cases…**and that’s what we’ll be looking at today.**”_

So David Kirby, all by himself, has abandoned the agenda and decided to stop talking about vaccines in particular and start talking about mercury in general. Did anyone stop him? Didn’t this debate have moderators?

This is getting ridiculous. Why are ‘we’ talking about four different types of mercury. This debate is about _vaccines_ (or that’s what I once thought – that’s what the PDF advertising said – it did, didn’t it? I didn’t hallucinate it did I?) and that means just _one_ type of mercury. Thiomersal. Thimerosal. Ethyl. That’s it. One. Not four. Hello?

Well, kudos for saying it publicly Mr Kirby. In future parts of my look at this debate I’ll be seeing why it doesn’t matter……oh wait….wait, here we go:

Now lets make sure we understand this. In July of 2005, Kirby wrote a Huffington Post entry that talked of these same California numbers in rather different terms:

The Golden State, however, is said to operate the gold standard of autism epidemiology, having always tracked “full-blown” autism only, as defined by the DSM-IV manual. In other words, children with milder forms of the disorder, such as PDD and Apserger Syndrome, need not apply for services. This means that nearly two decades of rising cases in California cannot be attributed to wider diagnostic criteria. The autism epidemic is real.

Hmm. So in 2005, California epidemiology (the gold standard according to Kirby) is good enough to declare ‘the epidemic real’ but in 2007, its not enough to disprove the epidemic when the numbers don’t go your way.

So why is the drop in numbers such a potential bombshell? Because children entering the system today were born in 2001 and 2002, soon after the mercury-based preservative thimerosal began to be phased out of pediatric vaccines in the United States. In California, fewer children with full-blown autism entered the system in 2003 than in 2002……Stay tuned. If the numbers in California and elsewhere continue to drop – and that still is a big if — the implication of thimerosal in the autism epidemic will be practically undeniable.

Hmm. So in 2005, if the numbers ‘continue to drop’ then ‘the implication of thimerosal will be practically undeniable’, but in 2007 when its quite clear the numbers are not dropping and never actually did then the reverse implication – that thiomersal is _not_ implicated in autism -cannot be true.

Weird. Some people might call that hypocrisy.

The next section of the debate has been expertly blogged by Mike. Go have a read. You should also read Joseph’s demolition of David Kirby’s latest epidemiology and Dad of Cameron’s look at Kirby’s grasp of science.

13 Responses to “David Kirby/Arthur Allen Debate Part II”

  1. Joseph January 22, 2007 at 23:06 #

    And he’s right, of course, that CDDS numbers are not epidemiology. But that’s not the issue. The fact is that thimerosal exposure dropped very quickly after 1999. If thimerosal is a significant cause of autism, there should’ve been an effect in administrative caseloads.

  2. anonimouse January 22, 2007 at 23:13 #

    David Kirby’s a duplicitious liar.

    Shocking. Next you’ll tell me John Best is a raving, money-grubbing sociopath.

  3. mike stanton January 23, 2007 at 00:08 #

    Hi kev
    I cannot believe I missed all the logical inconsistencies you have presented. Thanks for mentioning my blog on the next section, epidemiology. What’s after that, the California DDS data? Kirby seems to think administrative data is a reliable guide to prevalence.

    Anyway, now the debate is over, why don’t the Autism Hub challenge EoH to a contest? We could take it to Second Life and WWF rules would apply. That should be theatrical enough for Kirby.

  4. sharon January 23, 2007 at 09:50 #

    Wow…This makes it crystal clear. How can anyone still have faith (and that’s what it is) in this man and his changing assertions?

  5. notmercury January 23, 2007 at 13:27 #

    Thank you Kevin,
    I still haven’t watched the debate, can you believe it? I keep meaning to but I know it is long and I like to watch long videos uninterrupted. Nearly impossible for me these days.

    No need to see the video to agree with anonimouse though: “David Kirby’s a duplicitious liar.”

  6. Sophist January 23, 2007 at 20:35 #

    Fisk All Conservative said:
    “…and the man contradicts himself more times than the current US administration.”

    Which is REALLY saying something, lol!

  7. Phil January 23, 2007 at 20:44 #

    I think this should be spread as far and wide as possible in order to complete the process of permanently discrediting Kirby. That way the critics who pointed the finger at this idiot first (such as Kev and Kathy Seidel) will gain a level of credibility that Kirby’s cult like followers couldn’t handle.

  8. John Grimm January 25, 2007 at 00:59 #

    He may be a poor scientist but you are killing the messanger, not the message.

    Anyone who has seen autistic kids and has seen victims of environmental exposure to mercury in industry will come to a simple conclusion: they are the same.

  9. clone3g January 25, 2007 at 02:36 #

    Anyone who has seen autistic kids and has seen victims of environmental exposure to mercury in industry will come to a simple conclusion: they are the same.

    Really, are you one of these ‘anyones’ or do you just know someone who knows one?

    Oh, and Kirby’s not a poor scientist, he’s a middle class hack journalist.

  10. David N. Andrews M. Ed. (Distinction) January 25, 2007 at 03:21 #

    “Anyone who has seen autistic kids and has seen victims of environmental exposure to mercury in industry will come to a simple conclusion: they are the same.”


  11. anonimouse January 25, 2007 at 15:01 #

    Anyone who has seen autistic kids and has seen victims of environmental exposure to mercury in industry will come to a simple conclusion: they are the same.

    Sure they are.

    Check out this article of emedicine.com:


    Chronic and intense acute exposure causes cutaneous and neurological symptoms. The classic triad found in chronic toxicity is tremors, gingivitis, and erethism (ie, a constellation of neuropsychiatric findings that includes insomnia, shyness, memory loss, emotional instability, depression, anorexia, vasomotor disturbance, uncontrolled perspiration, and blushing).

    Additional findings may include headache, visual disturbance (eg, tunnel vision), peripheral neuropathy, salivation, insomnia, and ataxia.

    How much of that is consistent with what is commonly known as a diagnosis of autism? Not a whole lot, really. I’m sure you pick out a couple of common symptoms, but how many autistic kids have increased salivation or gum problems?

    Here’s another one from the same article:

    Chronic exposure usually results from prolonged occupational exposure to elemental mercury that is converted into the inorganic form, topical application of mercurial salves, and the chronic use of diuretics or cathartics.

    Chronic exposure results in renal failure, dementia, and acrodynia.

    Acrodynia, known as Pink disease and considered to be a mercury allergy, presents with erythema of the palms and soles, edema of the hands and feet, desquamating rash, hair loss, pruritus, diaphoresis, tachycardia, hypertension, photophobia, irritability, anorexia, insomnia, poor muscle tone, and constipation or diarrhea.

    Acrodynia does not present in everyone who is exposed to inorganic mercury, but it is an indicator of widespread disease.

    Organic mercury poisoning usually results from ingestion of contaminated food. The long chain and aryl forms of organic mercury have similar characteristics of inorganic mercury toxicity.

    The onset of symptoms usually is delayed (days to weeks) after exposure.

    Organic mercury targets enzymes, and the depletion of these enzymes must occur before the onset of symptoms.
    Symptoms related to toxicity are typically neurological, such as visual disturbance (eg, scotomata, visual field constriction), ataxia, paresthesias (early signs), hearing loss, dysarthria, mental deterioration, muscle tremor, movement disorders, and, with severe exposure, paralysis, and death.

    Organic mercury targets specific sites in the brain, including the cerebral cortex (especially visual cortex), motor and sensory centers (precentral and postcentral cortex), auditory center (temporal cortex), and cerebellum.

    Again, other than a few vaguely connected symptoms, what are the similarities?

  12. Kev January 25, 2007 at 15:55 #

    _”Anyone who has seen autistic kids and has seen victims of environmental exposure to mercury in industry will come to a simple conclusion: they are the same.”_

    Not really.


  1. Left Brain/Right Brain » Guest Blogger on CDDS - January 31, 2007

    […] Now there’s this guy called David Kirby who once said that CDDS was the gold standard of autism epidemiology (long word friends – just means numbers) but it seems that now, after the numbers started to disagree with his hypothesis (long word friends – it just means any old thing you want to make up) that they’re suddenly not so important. That makes perfect sense to Dr Nick friends – who wants to be caught right? In fact, Mr Kirby – did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College too? […]

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