David Kirby, he's making a list, he's checking it twice…

29 Jul

As has become apparent in recent weeks, there seems to be a ‘backdoor’ movement underway from the mercury militia.

It all started when Kelli Ann Davis attempted to rewrite US legislative history by stating in a speech to the IACC Working Group that the Combatting Autism Act contained specific phraseology on vaccination. It of course did not. David Kirby repeated this error in a Huffington Post entry. This was, it seems, little more than an attempt to ‘set the scene’ for a coup d’état. The logic seems to be that, since, during the CAA process, vaccines were touted as causes, even though the CAA decided to reject them as being too specific and settled for ‘environmental’, Kelli Ann and David felt that this was sufficient cause for stating the CAA included vaccine language. This seems to me to be akin to saying that, as society once believed the world was flat, it still is.

Anyway, this statement seems to have cut little ice with the IACC and so, the mercury militia unveiled Plan B – getting Brad Miller House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigation and Oversight to write a letter to Secretary Leavitt (HHS) to strongly recommend the formation of an advisory ‘board’ that they (in the guise of SafeMinds and Generation rescue) would police and use to control access from the public to the IACC and vice versa.

Personally, the idea fills me with complete horror. I’ve already discussed why but just to recap, the idea of Generation Rescue and SafeMinds being even slightly even-handed or representative of autism parents is like a bad joke. I provided email addresses and names for people to express their displeasure also (and I hope many of you did. If you didn’t, I urge you to right now. Both US and non-US people).

Anyway, the latest chapter in this battle for the scientific soul of the IACC is now underway as we speak. I have it on good authority that David Kirby is in the process of contacting as many members from an IACC strategic planning workgroup as he can to ascertain which way their opinion swung. He is specifically interested in the question of whether anyone among the 20 or so workgroup members other than Mark Blaxill and Peter Bell recommended the IACC include in the strategic plan a separate initiative on vaccines. If you listened to the webinar, you know firsthand that no vote was taken. In fact, since the workgroup’s expressed purpose is just to provide feedback and it has no authority over the IACC, no votes whatsoever were taken. But David is going ahead and asking people anyway. To what end I wonder? I think there are a few possible reasons.

The email David sent around asked people their position on vaccines in the Strategic Plan and to explain how they got on the workgroup (the answer, which anyone at NIMH could tell him, is that each IACC member was allowed to nominate one person) I would hazard a guess that this number would be very low indeed. However, what he could also be doing is seeing how many people don’t seem to care either way. The IACC is made up of some scientists who are, shall we say, ambivalent about all things except their own institute or federal agency. By not really caring either way, they stand a good chance of letting this thing happen via the backdoor. David will of course (being the excellent author he is) know exactly how to phrase this to make it sound irresistible.

And then of course there is the third and more Machiavellian option. That a ‘hit list’ is being compiled to intimidate the members. We have seen time and time again on the Age of Autism blog how its authors post the names and contact numbers/addresses of those it doesn’t like or who feel have wronged it. Would David be so nasty as to post the names of people who may inform him they intend to voice their opposition? I hope not. I would like to think better of him than that.

54 Responses to “David Kirby, he's making a list, he's checking it twice…”

  1. Joseph August 5, 2008 at 01:43 #

    Yes, I know it looked at thimerosal exposure specifically. I said thimerosal exposure in the 90s is a good proxy of vaccination load. I think this is obvious, although I haven’t proved it. It wouldn’t be the first time a proxy of a variable has been used to draw conclusions. (Arguably, they always use proxies of the real thing they are trying to test).

    Additionally, the results did find a correlation with Tics (as did Verstraeten) which should not be casually dismissed because it is a neurological problem, so Thimerosal certainly isn’t vindicated from evidence of neurological harm.

    Well, the reason they singled out tics is because it had indeed showed up before in other studies. The positive associations (and negative ones) from the study could easily be explained as random noise, including the association with Tics. The number of such associations was 19. The number expected by random change I estimated at 18.9. Paraphrasing what Orac said about this, “it’s as if statistics works.”

    I think it’s prudent to confirm it, though.

  2. Sullivan August 5, 2008 at 02:00 #

    I think it’s prudent to confirm it, though.

    I think so too. I forget where I read it, but I thought that the CDC was moving ahead with studies on tics.

    If memory serves, it was from a Kirby post about the CDC where he mentioned the Thompson follow-on study. They mention going forward with studying Tics (and I thought there was another possible positive outcome from Thompson), but they don’t mention going forward with autism.

  3. Schwartz August 5, 2008 at 02:44 #


    Wow, we all seem to agree on further investigation into tics!

    “I said thimerosal exposure in the 90s is a good proxy of vaccination load. I think this is obvious, although I haven’t proved it.”

    This would only work with this dataset if they tracked the details of the full vaccine load of the infants in both the study and control groups. From what I can tell, they focused specifically on Thimerosal exposure which wouldn’t include gathering the appropriate information on non-Thimerosal containing vaccines — and I’m not under the illusion that all vaccines in the 90’s contained it. Additionally, the recommended vaccine load from a disease perspective is higher than that of the 90’s as well since several new multi-disease vaccines have been added to the schedule. I think it would be difficult to seperate the noise especially given the relatively small sample set.

    One other weakness of the study was that they did not study Thimerosal exposure after 7 months of age. This is a tough call since their justification is reasonable from the relative dose perspective (of course it makes the assumption that damage is correlated with linearly increasing dose, something that isn’t always true), but it ignores the risk that timed exposure during vulnerable periods of development might have a negative impact.

  4. María Luján August 5, 2008 at 03:09 #

    Well, the topic of tics seems important to confirm or not.
    There are case repoorts on tics and toxic elements exposure
    Mercury intoxication presenting with tics
    The viral/immune aspects should also be studied properly, such as the infections with group A beta-hemolytic streptococci

    Streptococcal infection and exacerbations of childhood tics and obsessive-compulsive symptoms: a prospective blinded cohort study.
    and other aspects should also be considered in the analysis, such as the hypoferritinemy reported as associated with tics (I have a link, but the manuscript is in spanish)
    Now, with the different viral/immune/nutritional aspects that seems related to tics, why then more clinical aspects are not properly included in these studies? To quantify only tics by presence but no grade or proper diagnostic or concomitant clinical findings makes very difficult the comparison in only statistics terms

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