Geiers, Jim Adams – oh and some science

22 May

As I alluded to in my last post, there’s been a glut of publications regarding autism and thiomersal/mercury of late.

First (as they reached me) was Jim Adams latest nothing paper. Do’C has the full story but the salient points to take home about this study is that:

There’s plenty of other silliness in this paper, including citations of Geier and Geier, and a tiny sample size that produced data that I think most people would look at and ask, “so what?”. But the bottom line is this – is the authors’ conclusion supported by the data?….Neither mercury body burden nor excretion was demonstrated to be related to mercury levels in teeth, autistic children were not demonstrated to be “poor mercury excretors”, and high usage of oral antibiotics was not demonstrated to impair mercury excretion in humans.

An interesting side note – this paper was published in a journal that recently published the latest Geier twaddle. Seems like the editor likes a bit of woo. As Do’C uncovered from the editor of this journal:

“According to the literature there is a relationship between vaccines and autism.”

Which is weird as numerous literature reviews have shown the exact opposite. Either the editor is a very credulous sort or…well, no, he’s just a bloody idiot.

Now we turn to a study called ‘Lack of association between Rh status, Rh immune globulin in pregnancy and autism‘.

This study looked at:

whether mothers of children with autism are more likely to be Rh negative (Rh-) or to have received RhIg preserved with thimerosal, which is 49.6% ethyl mercury

So – do kids with autism come from a population who’s mothers had received RhIg? Thats what this study asked. The answer was:

Rh- status is no higher in mothers of children with autism than in the general population, exposure to antepartum RhIg, preserved with thimerosal is no higher for children with autism and pregnancies are no more likely to be Rh incompatible. This was also true for autism subgroups defined by behavioral phenotype, gender, IQ, regressive onset, head circumference, dysmorphology, birth status, essential, or complex phenotype

Of course, this answer didn’t suit SafeMinds Mark Blaxill. He released his usual pontificating crapola:

The study was funded by Johnson & Johnson, the largest manufacturer of RhIg products and the defendant in several lawsuits alleging a link between autism and mercury in RhIg. In an earlier 2005 poster presentation, the study authors acknowledged that the research was “supported by Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research,” but the University of Missouri press release omits mention of this conflict of interest.

Last I heard Marky, scientists don’t write press releases. Marketing depts do. As you yourself admit, when the poster version of this paper was presented, the *authors* (as oppose to the marketing dept) *did* acknowledge their funding. So, whats your point? That Missouri University Marketing dept. screwed up? Talk about a strawman.

And lets top beating around the bush here. If defendants in lawsuits can’t fund science, then why is it OK for prosecutors to fund science? If you want to go down the ‘conflict of interest’ route than that means Geier, Adams and a whole host of others who have already profited to the tune of several thousand pounds and who stand to profit even more should be equally discounted.

The press release headline falsely claims that the “Study Finds No Link Between Autism and Thimerosal in Vaccines.” The study is about Rh immune globulin, and immune globulins are not vaccines. “The headline deceives the public,” noted Mark Blaxill, director of SafeMinds. “It says an autism-mercury in vaccines link has been disproved when the research did not do so.”

Once again Marky – try and assimilate the difference between a press release and the actual paper. The paper’s abstract doesn’t mention the word vaccine until the very last sentence – and then only to point out thiomersal is also in vaccines. None of Blaxill’s point address _science_ at all. They try and make a strawman out of a press release. A press release the scientists who wrote this _paper_ no doubt had no control over whatsoever.

Blaxill then goes on to say that SafeMinds found numerous errors with the poster presentation but neglects to state what they were. Guess we should just trust them.

And if we want further verification of the non-link between the Rhogam issue then we should look no further than ‘Rh and ABO Maternal-Fetal Incompatibility and Risk of Autism‘ published in 2006 (Zandi et al) which states:

Moreover, some have speculated that RhD immune globulin injections may itself increase autism risk due to increased prenatal
exposure to thimerosal [Blaxill et al., 2004], an ethyl mercury containing vaccine preservative used in some formulations. The current findings do not support the hypothesis that the risk of autism is increased due to existing potential complications of maternal-fetal incompatibility with or without prophylaxis, nor do they appear to be consistent with the suggestion that the use of prophylaxis itself may increase risk.

Of course, SafeMinds don’t mention this as it clearly demonstrates the quackery that Blaxill wallows in.

And by the by, isn’t it incredible that for a group of people who are now claiming it never was _just_ about the thiomersal (See Brad Handley’s amazing feat of flip-flopping for details) they are certainly clinging on like grim death to that fallacy?

And hey – what about all those ‘other things’ (usually in vaccines) that ’cause autism’? Well, another recent study looked at just how well the practice of provoking reactions using a chelator (DMSA in this case) actually worked. ‘24-hour provoked urine excretion test for heavy metals in children with autism and typically developing controls, a pilot study.‘ looked at:

…Seventeen children with autism and five typically developing children were enrolled in a pilot study to test for chelatable body burden of Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), Lead (Pb), and Mercury (Hg)

And the results?

Fifteen autistic children and four typically developing children completed the study. Three autistic subjects excreted one metal in greater quantity during the provoked excretion than baseline. Two of these were very close to the limit of detection. In the third case, the provoked excretion of mercury was between the upper limit of normal and lower limit of the potentially toxic reference range.

In other words – none of the kids, autistic or otherwise had clear progression into the toxic range of body burden of any metal. Three autistic kids had slightly higher results when DMSA was used to provoke than when it wasn’t. However, again, none was high enough to get into the toxic range. And as for the third autistic child, the team did one more thing:

Fish was removed from this child’s diet for greater than one month, and the provoked excretion test repeated. The repeat excretion of mercury was within the normal range.

Hilarious. The conclusion:

In the absence a proven novel mode of heavy metal toxicity, the proportion of autistic participants in this study whose DMSA provoked excretion results demonstrate an excess chelatable body burden of As, Cd, Pb, or Hg is zero.

Zero. None. Nada. Zip. Bugger all.

Lets hope that this pilot study is expanded upon and replicated.

And talking of chelation studies, Diva has some hot gossip regarding the fate of the NIMH chealtion study:

Dr. Swedo was running a chelation study at the NIMH until recently. The word, coming from a reliable source, is that the study has been shut down. This is good news, because it was a horrible study with horrible ethical problems and no legitimate scientific underpinnings. The study still appears on the page, but the link to the NIMH page is dead. So maybe the study rests in peace, too.

Last, but far from least, a fascinating theoretical study called ‘The Autism Epidemic: Fact or Artifact?’ has looked at the epidemic wankfest:

Using a prediction analysis, we calculate how broadening diagnostic criteria, younger age at diagnosis, and improved efficiency of case ascertainment could produce temporal trends in the incidence and prevalence of AD.

and what did they come up with?

Time trend studies report an increase as large as 11.0-fold over a 13-year period for AD. Conservative changes in the three methodological factors produced increases in the frequency of AD ranging from 2.1- to 28.8-fold

Interesting stuff. Hardly conclusive, but certainly food for thought. I can’t help but note that it comes from researchers at Columbia University. I wonder what that other CU employee Mady ‘they chewed through my skull’ Horning thinks about this study?

32 Responses to “Geiers, Jim Adams – oh and some science”

  1. livsparents May 22, 2007 at 17:03 #

    “Rh- status is no higher in mothers of children with autism than in the general population, exposure to antepartum RhIg, preserved with thimerosal is no higher for children with autism and pregnancies are no more likely to be Rh incompatible. This was also true for autism subgroups defined by behavioral phenotype, gender, IQ, regressive onset, head circumference, dysmorphology, birth status, essential, or complex phenotype”

    I’m having trouble getting into the link to the study, something about my cookies not being enabled(could it be that I’m not on the dark side yet?). I’d be interested in the answer to the other challenge of Safeminds:

    “Changes to the research sample were made in the middle of the study. The 2005 sample contained 47 mothers with more than one child with autism, while the final 2007 study only had 16 mothers with more than one child with autism.”

    I’ll not get into the inflammatory conclusions drawn by our Safe bretheren, but I do question the possibility that they are missing something as far as multiple children issues with Rhogam. I’ll reserve my judgement till I can see (and IF I can understand) the study. Is it my issue not being able to accept cookies from the ‘dark side’ or is the link furblustered?

  2. Kev May 22, 2007 at 17:37 #

    Sorry Bill – my fault. Try now.

    As far as Blaxill’s other challenge, my question would be – um, so what?

  3. bones.0504 May 22, 2007 at 19:06 #

    The ersatz scientist, Mr. Blaxill, employs the same flawed argumentative techniques as the rest of the anti-vax gang.

    A rather ironic headline, I have to admit: “University of Missouri Study on Link Between Autism and Mercury a Discredit to Sound Science”

    “…a Discredit to Sound Science.” Ironic in that, Geier has his “studies” approved by an IRB composed of his son, his wife, a plaintiff/anti-vax advocate, a plaintiff’s attorney, etc, etc.

    …not to mention that none of them can be replicated.

  4. mike stanton May 22, 2007 at 20:19 #

    Blaxhill cannot even get a simple fact right. The headline on the press release does not mention vaccines. It says, “Exposure to mercury preservatives before birth is no higher in children with autism.” Blaxhill read the reference to vaccines in a press report, not the original press release.

    And what is the point of the missing families? According to the abstract they contacted 305 families by telephone and analysed the detailed records of 214. I have not read the study but I would expect an initial screening followed by detailed examination of a smaller sample for whom omplete records were available.

  5. Do'C May 22, 2007 at 21:45 #

    “As Do’C uncovered from the editor of this journal:”

    “According to the literature there is a relationship between vaccines and autism.”

    Actually, an astute reader of Autism Street uncovered this and sent it to me via e-mail.
    Just want to give proper credit where credit is due. 🙂

  6. livsparents May 22, 2007 at 22:34 #

    Forgive me for being nitpicky,but since I’m not willing to shell out the $25 for access to the study, isn’t a 214 sampling a bit too small to make all the grand conclusions they made? 214 mothers were interviewed, if the sampling follows the population, wouldn’t that mean that only 32 women (15% of the population are rh-)with Rhogam exposure were in the sample? I know that sampling can go a long way, but can they make the claim of “This was also true for autism subgroups defined by behavioral phenotype, gender, IQ, regressive onset, head circumference, dysmorphology, birth status, essential, or complex phenotype.”

    If the logic follows, that would mean they only had 8 girls in the group and I don’t know how many were from multiple ASD families or even multiple child backgrounds.

    I’m not discounting the fact that they discovered that there is no addition prevelence of autism in the rh- group, but to make a broader assumption that there can’t be more to be found when, in my opinion, a small sample size is used is stretching it a bit…

  7. Ms. Clark May 23, 2007 at 01:54 #

    Why would rhogam preserved with thimerosal only cause autism. Why haven’t people noticed that moms who have Rh problems and get thimerosal preserved RhIg have seizure disorders, Tourette, mental retardation, ADHD, OCD, Bipolar… how is it that thimerosal can only cause autism?

    Because thimerosal at the doses that women get during pregnancy is dealt with by her body in a way that does not allow the fetus to be harmed, for the same reason that women in the Solomon Islands and Faroe Islands who have large doses of mercury comparitively do not have higher rates of autistic kids among them. Yes, it’s a different kind of mercury, but they are getting a lot more of it, too.

    “mercury” has acquired this SUPER TOXIC AT ALL DOSAGES AND IN ALL FORMS reputation that is utterly ridiculous and not in touch with reality at all. The illusion of mercury being that dangerous was created by Blaxill and SAFE MINDS with the able help of the very strange Boyd Haley, who seems to be the only toxicologist who thinks mercury is so dangerous at such tiny doses. Boyd Haley who makes money off of tests for mercury and some garbage related to dental amalgams. He’s like in his own little paranoid world.

    I have bottles of thimerosal containing stuff in my bedroom. I have put it on open cuts. It’s called merthiolate. I have the real mercury containing stuff. It’s fab. I’m not afraid of it.

  8. livsparents May 23, 2007 at 02:46 #

    “Why haven’t people noticed that moms who have Rh problems and get thimerosal preserved RhIg have seizure disorders, Tourette, mental retardation, ADHD, OCD, Bipolar… how is it that thimerosal can only cause autism?”

    Can’t say if it causes or exaserbates other things as well. But wouldn’t it be more prudent for countries with the means to require injections that are going into pregnant or nursing mothers or for infants to be free of as much from a perservative/additive perspective as possible? Heck, they tell pregnant women to stay away from Aspertame, caffeine, pain killers, alcohol, spicy food, sun, sex, but yet, they’ll do the multi dose vial injection because they can save MONEY?

    Build up of thimeresol over several pregnancies, timing of the injection during pregnancy, combinations with other vaccines, breastfeeding. All could be factors. How about a larger study? 5000, 1000, even 500 with more detailed questioning…

  9. Brian Deer May 23, 2007 at 07:11 #

    Ms Clark: Same happened with the B12 stuff. If a kid is autistic for lack of B12, why no pernicious anemia?

  10. Ms. Clark May 23, 2007 at 07:24 #

    Brian Deer,

    Exactly. For me, the whole B12 debacle, that’s a whole ‘nother rant.

  11. bones.0504 May 23, 2007 at 12:56 #

    SafeMinds and like groups perpetuate a fear of vaccines by fooling parents of autistics with stories, anecdotes, and naive empiricism. These groups, and their spokespersons (e.g. Kirby, Geier, et al) allow ego to get in the way of legitimate inference.

    The process of selecting anecdotes to fit into a story does not constitute evidence. Anyone looking for confirmation via this method will always find enough to fool themselves and others.

    The self-satisfied swollen-headed likes of Geier, Bradstreet, Haley, et. al. feed their egos by taking advantage of the emotion, guilt, and fear of the parents – for whom I empathize.

  12. Broken Link May 23, 2007 at 17:44 #


    Of course it makes sense that it would be wise to use thimerosal-free Rhogam for all pregnant mothers. But there is a huge leap in what you say about “buildup of thimerosal over several pregnancies”. We are all exposed to ethyl mercury every day, even if we don’t eat fish.


    I have a copy of that paper, and there is mercury in lots of other foods too. Here’s a brief list, the values are in micrograms of mercury per kilogram of fresh matter.
    Bread, rusk – 13
    Breakfast cereals – 10
    Pasta – 3
    Rice and semolina – 5
    Biscuits – 19
    Cakes – 9
    Offals – 55
    Fish – 62
    Shellfish – 17
    Vegetables – 5
    Starchy vegetable – 7
    Pulses – 16
    Chocolate – 42
    Soups – 3
    Salads – 3

    Remember that a typical thimerosal containing vaccine has 25 micrograms of mercury, and is only given once per year (or per lifetime). A person eating a kilogram of chocolate over several months is getting more mercury than from the shot. The cumulative exposure from all foods is WAAAY more than from the shots.

    So, you may argue that it is the dosage all at once that makes thimerosal dangerous, but then you cannot argue that the effect is cumulative over several pregnancies.

    I agree that one could study this issue further, and one could bring in confounding factors – i.e. it’s not just the thimerosal, it’s whether the child was also breastfed, and whether the mother stood in the sun too much, and whether her diet was deficient in some nutrient. . . One could suggest thousands of possibilities, and then one no longer has a hypothesis, but a belief system which cannot be falsified.

  13. María Luján May 23, 2007 at 18:52 #

    Hi Broken Link
    Surely we are exposed to a lot of xenobiotics, but the way of exposure is different: ingested vs injected. With ingestion, all the mucosal immunity and gut barrier and ecology is working to keep the toxic/essential elements balanced.
    “Gut microflora & toxic metals: chromium as a model”:

    You can read here:
    Hum Exp Toxicol. 2007 Mar;26(3):221
    “Metal transporters in intestine and brain: their involvement in metal-associated neurotoxicities”:
    “Blood-brain barrier and cell-cell interactions: methods for establishing in vitro models of the blood-brain barrier and transport measurements”:

    About speciation of elements in mammals
    “Toxic metal species and food regulations–making a healthy choice”:
    “The speciation of metals in mammals influences their toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics and therefore human health risk assessment(1)”:

    Toxicology is extremely complex and individual in impact to reduce to a simplistic discussion.
    Even more, there is a recent manuscript that revise the concepts of prenatal mercury exposure and IQ
    “Dose–Response Relationship of Prenatal Mercury Exposure and IQ: An Integrative Analysis of Epidemiologic Data”:
    with a lot of concerns about many aspects beyond IQ.

    “Maternal fish consumption, mercury levels, and risk of preterm delivery”:

    “Nutrition and the developing brain: nutrient priorities and measurement”:

    About impact in prenatal
    Am J Med Genet A. 2007 May 16;
    Lack of association between Rh status, Rh immune globulin in pregnancy and autism.
    -Miles JH,
    – Takahashi TN.
    Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and Department of Child Health, University of Missouri Hospitals and Clinics, Columbia, Missouri.
    Though causes of autism are considered largely genetic, considerable concern remains that exposure to Rh immune globulin (RhIg), which until 2001 in the United States contained the preservative thimerosal, can cause autism. To determine whether mothers of children with autism are more likely to be Rh negative (Rh(-)) or to have received RhIg preserved with thimerosal, which is 49.6% ethyl mercury, we surveyed families of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) ascertained through a University-based autism clinic considered free of ascertainment biases related to type of autism or severity. Between 2004 and 2006, 305 mothers of 321 children with an ASD agreed to participate in a telephone interview. Analysis of complete records including the blood group status and RhIg exposure of 214 families showed that Rh(-) status is no higher in mothers of children with autism than in the general population, exposure to antepartum RhIg, preserved with thimerosal is no higher for children with autism and pregnancies are no more likely to be Rh incompatible. This was also true for autism subgroups defined by behavioral phenotype, gender, IQ, regressive onset, head circumference, dysmorphology, birth status, essential, or complex phenotype. These findings support the consensus that exposure to ethylmercury in thimerosal is not the cause of the increased prevalence of autism. These data are important not only for parents in this country but also for the international health community where thimerosal continues to be used to preserve multi-dose vials which in turn makes vaccines affordable

    Compare this with this

    Clin Dev Immunol. 2006 Jun-Dec;13(2-4):167-83.
    The possible role of transplacentally-acquired antibodies to infectious agents, with molecular mimicry to nervous system sialic acid epitopes, as causes of neuromental disorders: prevention and vaccine implications.
    – Nahmias AJ,
    – Nahmias SB,
    – Danielsson D.
    Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology and Immunology Division, Department of Pediatrics, School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

    Proof of causality of most neuromental disorders (NMD’s) is largely unavailable. Lessons from four-decade investigations of the epidemiology, immunology, pathogenesis, prevention and therapy of perinatal infectious agents, which invade directly the nervous system, have led us to propose a new indirect effect hypothesis: maternal transplacentally-acquired antibodies, to agents with epitope molecular mimicry with the developing nervous system, can cross the fetus/infant’s blood-nervous system barriers to cause NMD’s, clinically manifest years later. Further rationale is provided by relevant evolutionary/developmental (EVO-DEVO) considerations – applicable also to some vaccines. The hypothesis is being tested in: (a) older pregnancy studies with available maternal and newborn sera, and follow-up of the progeny for NMD’s; and (b) NMD registry individuals linked to their stored newborn blood spots. Preliminary results support a possible role for schizophrenia of high-tittered antibodies to some agents (toxoplasma, influenza and herpes simplex type 2 virus). A model that includes likely genetic and postnatal influences is schematized and a list of putative agents and factors, based on varying rationales, is tabulated. In case pilot studies are confirmed, the identified agent(s) and antibodies would need to be tested in new prospectively enrolled pregnant women, so as to establish further risk factors leading to possible preventive modalities.

  14. Ms. Clark May 23, 2007 at 19:01 #


    You seem to think that all the (tiny amount) of thimerosal in a dose of Rhogham is going to sit somewhere in the mom’s body just waiting until she get’s pregnant for that last time, and it will all be delivered straight to the fetus’ brain and cause autism, but not cause the other things that mercury poisoning really causes.

    Kidney damage, eye damage and peripheral nerve damage, for starters.

    I am not afraid of what will happen to embryos or fetuses if the mom gets a flu shot containing thimerosal.

    NOT at all. (I feel like yelling in all caps, but I’m restraining myself)

    People are designed to cope with this much mercury. Pregnant woman have been bombarded with much more mercury throughout history, it doesn’t damage fetuses until you get to huge doses.

    I don’t know why this is so hard to understand. We breathe in mercury, it’s all around us, it’s in water, it’s in natural lakes, it’s in reservoirs, it’s in our food so it must be in our soil and water. It’s UBIQUITOUS. Just like thimerosal used to be in nearly everyone’s cupboard (here in the US) along with merbromine, in the form of merthiolate and mercurochrome. Everyone used to get the stuff painted on open wounds frequently. Can you picture the farm wives out there dealing with butchering chickens and what all getting cut while pregnant and dousing their cut in merthiolate?? I sure can. Then there were all the pregnant women using thimerosal preserved contact solution daily.

    What part of “this stuff is not dangerous at low doses” don’t you get?

    I don’t know what other preservatives could be used, but I’m not willing to say that big pharma totally doesn’t care to try to find something else. And I’m not willing to buy that whatever the next stuff is will be less “toxic.”

    AND, it totally ticks me off to see people get all upset over thimerosal containing vaccines when the reality is that it is being used to save lives RIGHT NOW (I’m screaming) and people don’t have the right to imply that it’s dangerous when it’s not.

    It’s terrorism. OK? Terrorismm to tell people in a poor country that they need vaccines (and they do), but that it has this super toxic stuff in it that is too toxic for us pure superior Amerucuns to put into our babies, but good enough for them. Don’t you get it? If it’s not dangerous for them, it’s not dangerous for us either. And it’s not dangerous for us as can be shown by the fact that there is not more autism among countries where they don’t use thimerosal now (because they are rich countries like Denmark or whatever).

    This fear of thimerosal is psychotic. CRAZY. Insane, Inane. Stupid, Pathetic. and EVIL. The fear of thimerosal is harmful. (stomping feet) and no I’m not working for any manufacturer of anything! (add nine hundred exclamation points because I just lost my temper).

    If I was pregnant now or if my child/ child-in-law was I wouldn’t fear for that mom to get an injection (or several) containing thimerosal. NO I wouldn’t want the mom to eat lots of tile-fish every day. But neither would I panic if the mom ate some tile-fish or even chocolate or any of the other mercury containing foods or if she breathed mercury containing air (normal ambiant air).

    The insanity over thimerosal really needs to stop and it needs to stop now. (rant over)

  15. Tom May 23, 2007 at 20:22 #


    You go girl!!!

  16. Ms. Clark May 23, 2007 at 20:24 #

    Tom, Don’t encourage her. You know how she gets. :-0 🙂

  17. Prometheus May 23, 2007 at 21:42 #

    Mr. Blaxill’s objections to the study would be laughable if they were not taken seriously by so many people. It would be illuminating to turn the same sort of questions (conflict of interest, subject selection, small numbers, etc.) onto one of the studies his name is attached to, namely the ludicrous Holmes et al study.

    It also seems that somebody is trying to insinuate that the mercury that Rh negative mothers receive in their Rh immune globulin accumulates over several pregnancies. On what evidence do they make that claim? Or is it another case of fictitious “non-excretor” syndrome – except now it is the mothers who are “non-excretors”.

    Frankly, the science of SafeMinds and the rest gets worse every day.


  18. mike stanton May 23, 2007 at 23:57 #

    the original autism/mercury hypothesis was that:

    1. We have an autism epidemic.
    2. You cannot have a genetic epidemic. Therefore it must be environmental.
    3. There is a temporal relationship between the growth in numbers and the increased exposure to thimerosal.
    4. Therefore we have an epidemic of regressive autism caused by thimerosal in vaccines.

    Epidemiological studies tend to the conclusion that we are not in the midst of an autism epidemic. We are undergoing an epidemic of autism awareness and improvements in diagnosis.

    The increase in autism diagnosis has continued after exposure to thimerosal has been well nigh eliminated.

    Regressive autism is still a minority condition. If mercury was causing the increase in regressive autism what is causing the increase in non-regressive autism? Why should two independent causes of different but related conditions happen to begin to operate at the same time?

    I think you give too much credence to the proponents of some theories of autism causation. The onus is on them to present compelling evidence to support their position, not on us to refute them. It is in the nature of scientific enquiry that we can never entirely disprove a hypothesis. We can only question it. Please judge their hypothesis on the merits of their answers to our questions.

  19. William Smith May 24, 2007 at 02:29 #

    “It is in the nature of scientific enquiry that we can never entirely disprove a hypothesis.”

    The only thing I would add is that we attempt to disprove (or reject) the null hypothesis (i.e. Statistical testing does not prove hypotheses; rather it disproves them via rejection)

    The tested statement is called the null hypothesis because it is often in the form, ‘No relationship exists between x and y.’ When the statistical test cannot disprove the null hypothesis, it is termed ‘failure to reject the null hypothesis,’ rather than acceptance.

    Unlike most of Geier & gang’s studies, which begin with a conclusion and then work backwords in an attempt to validate, valid and reliable studies begin with a hypothesis (e.g. mercury causes autism) and then attempt to disprove it, or rather attempt to prove the null (e.g. mercury does not cause autism).

    The null is presumed true throughout the study until statistically proven otherwise. This usually occurs at a 90-99% confidence interval.

    Geier, Blaxill, Haley, et al fail to employ this method. This is only one reason why their representations are methodologically invalid.

    I’d go on and address other flaws, but it’s bed time for bonzo.

  20. Joel Smith May 24, 2007 at 12:31 #

    A few posts ago, someone asks, basically, “Shouldn’t we study mercury?”

    I’ll give two reasons why I think we SHOULDN’T on the basis of there being research more likely to have results:

    1) Mercury is much lower in the environment today than it was years ago in the western world, due to environmental regulation. This is definitely true in both North American and in Europe (ESPECIALLY in Europe – think Victorian England, when the average person was bombarded with mercury). We don’t see a linkage between autism and mercury exposure when we look at all of history. In other words, it fails the common sense test before any research has even begun.

    2) Why mercury? Do they really think exposure to nothing else has increased in the last 15 years or so? Maybe if there was a true epidemic (there’s not, but that’s another issue) then it’s caused by something other than mercury – something that can actually cause autistic symptoms (mercury cannot, at any dose, in any form, taken by any means). If parents truly wanted to find the cause, one would think they would want to look at everything that increased in the last 15 years, not just what some lawyers and Lenny Schaffer came up with.

    What do I think is responsible for autism? I think, in the US anyhow, it’s a combination of social change (it’s okay to admit having a disabled kid now – it wasn’t even 30 years ago), actual diagnosis of autistic people (it wasn’t diagnosed even in “extreme” cases very often 30 years ago), and the IDEA law (once the law allowed services for people diagnosed with autism, there was a lot more reason to seek diagnosis to help your kid – before then, the diagnosis didn’t get you *any* services, so why pay the money to get it and why would a shrink see giving a diagnosis of autism as having value?).

  21. Tom May 24, 2007 at 13:59 #

    The Zandi study looked at 389 parent/child trios and found no association. That’s plenty.

  22. María Luján May 24, 2007 at 14:24 #

    Hi Joel
    I do think that NOT only mercury, but yes, toxic/essential elements transport and excretion should be PROPERLY studied in autism.
    I think that in this point we can agree in disagreement.

  23. Joel Smith May 24, 2007 at 16:24 #

    My response was not to you, livsparents. That said, if you don’t want to spend $25, do what we all do – go to a public research library, which probably will let you access it onsite free.

    You can find such libraries at public universities. Some larger library systems may also have access. If they don’t, ask the librarian how you might get access to it – even your local public library should be able to get it via inter-library-loan.

    Maria – I am absolutely sure we have a communication issue between us. I have read your writing about why you think that there is a toxic issue in mercury, but I cannot follow it well enough to understand it – probably due to my own communication difficulties and your differing style of communication. That said, what I’ve read by every other supporter of toxic theories does not persuade me – and I find it unlikely you have evidence that I haven’t seen. Can you name a researcher or any journal articles that talk about the same things you are trying to explain to me and others? If so, perhaps we can read those and give you a more thought out response (or be persuaded ourselves).

  24. livsparents May 24, 2007 at 20:30 #

    “The Zandi study looked at 389 parent/child trios and found no association. That’s plenty.”

    Sorry, that study was studying the incompatability of mothers and childs blood types not the Rhogam…

  25. matt May 24, 2007 at 23:32 #

    There is so much to say here–and yet so much of the arguments have been hashed out repeatedly already.

    That said, can anyone with a pdf of this particular study email it to Bill (livsparents)? Also, cut him some slack–he is a good guy.

    That said, there is a very real cost to continuing to study the mercury hypothesis. Good researchers (and a lot of bad ones) spend time and real money doing this. Add to this people spending time, money and possibly their children’s health on chelation. At the very least, bad mercury research is harmful.

    One common argument is, “well, you can’t rule out that mercury causes autism in some small very susceptible part of the population”. In that case, an equal amount of research should go into this guy’s idea:

    I can’t absolutely prove that there isn’t one kid out there with autism where it wasn’t cased by trans-fats…


  26. María Luján May 25, 2007 at 00:26 #

    Hi Joel
    I apologize. Probably my style of communication is not particularly clear. Even more, trying to explain in english what is difficult to explain in spanish-my first language-is my fault, not yours. If you tell me how you would find my writing clearer, I will try to do it.
    You say
    “perhaps we can read those and give you a more thought out response (or be persuaded ourselves)”
    I have no problem to mention to you several published science on transporters of toxic/essential elements, molecular mimicry and other related to management of xenobiotics. However, the goal to me is not to persuade you or someone else. It is to learn and to exchange ideas productively. From this, when it has happened, I have always learned.
    What I have tried to say is that the overall issue has not been studied yet as it deserves.Please let me know if you prefer I send to you a list by e-mail or list a group of manuscripts you can consider to read-
    here or in AutismWeb or in KEvin´s Forum.
    What do you think about to discuss this in Kevin´s Science Forum?
    Please let me know.
    Thank you for your interest.I appreciate it very much.

  27. Joel Smith May 25, 2007 at 02:09 #

    I’m still confused about what you’re saying, but if you have one or two examples of someone’s writings that summarize your views, that would be really helpful. I’m not sure a list of pubmed links would be nearly as helpful, as I’m curious why those links are chosen and such, and what parts you do and don’t agree with.

    I don’t post on the science forum – I’ll admit I can’t keep up with my peers on science, at least outside of mathematics, statistics, and information theory (which is why I usually confine my arguments to those areas). So truthfully I’m not sure the best place to post it, if it’s a long list of sources.

  28. María Luján May 25, 2007 at 05:00 #

    Hi Joel
    Please give me some time to find clear manuscripts on the issue that allow me to present the idea and to include some links here.
    If you are interested I can send to you some info by e-mail. Please let me know.

  29. Ms. Clark May 25, 2007 at 08:40 #

    “And it’s not dangerous for us as can be shown by the fact that there is not more [this was supposed to say, “not less”] autism among countries where they don’t use thimerosal now (because they are rich countries like Denmark or whatever).”

    Bill, I saw your cute little parody on autismweb. I laughed.

    I made a mistake in the above rant… also I had posted a response to your last comment to me, above, soon after you posted it, and my comment disappeared, and then I decided not to rant at you any more for a day or so. Since I was in the mood to grab you by the shoulders and give you a hard shake… not really, but almost.

    My point was… right now, all over the world kids are getting vaccines containing thimerosal. I don’t know if it’s the same amount that kids in the US used to get (say in Peru or Zambia, if the kid has access to public health services at all). I imagine some of the kids might be getting more than the kids in the US used to get… at any rate.. they are being vaxed with TCVs. Why don’t Handley and the Billionaire Sally Bernard and the rest of them study what happens to kids who are vaxed with TCVs?

    I say it’s because they know that nothing bad happens that can be related to the minute amount of mercury in the vaccines. I’m guessing that it would not be hard to trip over the border into Mexico and find kids getting a TCV or two at age 6 mos or younger. All sorts of heinous things are supposed to happen to a kid after exposure to thimerosal in a vaccine. OK, tough guys, SHOW IT. Where’s the damage to a real child’s immune system? Why should I care what happens to some stinking mouse dendritic cell in a stinking petri dish (that reacts for a few minutes and then recuperates, as I remember Pessah saying)?

    There’s all this hand wringing over this and that toxin, well guess what kids in third world countries sometimes get loaded with toxins the American kids don’t get. So go study them.

    I think the reason why this hasn’t happened in the last 5 years or so is that the people who are driving the hysteria are only interested in driving the hysteria, not in getting at the truth.

    So far, the CHARGE study has looked at all kinds of toxic exposures and found no correlation between any household chemicals (in furniture or bug spray or lawn care chemicals…) and autism. What we know is that the there are genes that seem to be responsible straight up for a large portion of autism. As unhappy as that makes people, there’s a good chance that all autism (short of that caused by rubella, and a few drugs, including Terbutaline, which for some reason gets little attention) will be traceable to genes that control things like the way neurons connect to each other.

    Lyndelle Redwood said her son has low cholesterol, that’s a big red flag for a possible genetic condition that could have caused his PDD,nos.

    Like I said, we need to go back to that blissful time before SAFE MINDS and think of what we know about autism now, minus the hysteria about heavy metals. If people can get scientists to study xenobiotics and if they can get the funding, I’m certainly in no position to stop it (no one listens to me).

    But if I were directing the way the funding went, I wouldn’t spend a penny on heavy metals becasue there’s no reason to look there, and lots of reasons to look elsewhere…

    Even though I can’t relate to it myself, I understand that there are reasons to set up research to see if there’s a way to make sure GERD and lactose intolerance and *genetics caused* gut problems (like those Amanda B describes) are being diagnosed when they are there in kids that can’t communicate well. I don’t mind if they spend a few million on the issues of getting a doctor to treat the health issues of autistic children.

    I just see no evidence that any of the health issues across the board in autism are related to heavy metals, with the possible exception of Maria’s child. All of the American kids who have been tested by legitimate labs, that I’ve heard of (not too many, I think) seem to have normal heavy metals and it would seem that all the kids who were tested by quack labs are in danger zones in various heavy metals… that’s because the results are bogus. No one (that I’ve ever heard of related to autism) takes their “heavy metal toxic” kid to a real toxicologist. Ever notice that?

    Why is that? Just like they take their kids to a pathologist and his brother to get treated for methylation problems and get prescribed expensive joke HBOT balloons and oxygen concentrators (to use directly against FDA orders, cuz it could kill someone to use them that way.) But I digress.

    The whole autism omnibus is about to go belly-up, I think. Then what? There never was a reason to suspect vaccines as a cause of autism. Never. It’s a big fat ugly ambulance chaser’s game. That’s all it ever was.

    My answer test answer was: 風水


  30. María Luján May 25, 2007 at 12:23 #

    Hi Joel
    I sent to you an e-mail with several links. Hope you receive it.

  31. Tom May 25, 2007 at 14:01 #

    “Sorry, that study was studying the incompatability of mothers and childs blood types not the Rhogam…”

    304 of the cases in the Zandi study were during the 90s when rhogam was used widely. They found no association with incompatability nor with rhogam.

    This issue merits no further investigation.


  1. Left Brain/Right Brain » On media, neurodiversity and science - May 29, 2007

    […] to the extent that they threaten those scientists with violence, or they ignore science and instead disagree with the wording of press releases about science. In fact, this is Lenny Schafer’s view (from a past […]

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