Sharyl Attkisson interviews David Kirby…and oh is it bad

8 Oct

Have a look for yourself:
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David Kirby, interviewed by Sharyl Attkisson. Talk about faux-news. For those luckily unfamiliar with Ms. Attkisson, here are some of the pieces done on this blog about her. Ms. Attkisson has a history of interviewing other members of the press and not being critical at all of their unsupported claims. She did this with Bernadine Healy, who made some unfounded claims about the IOM. When a study came out disproving a study by Maddy Hornig on mice and thimerosal that is, Ms. Attkisson blogged the Thoughtful House (Andrew Wakefield) press release on the subject. There’s more, but that gives you a taste of her history.

Today she interviewed David Kirby, author of “Evidence of Harm” and Huffington Post blogger.

To start, David Kirby apparantly has rewritten his book (yes, that is sarcasm). It is titled, “Evidence of Harm, Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy”.

But according to the interview, his book isn’t primarily about mercury in vaccines. Instead it is all about “increasing environmental exposures, toxins in children throughout the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s from both mercury background mercury environmental mercury which is on the increase and also mercury and other heavy metals and toxic metals that are included in vaccines that we give our children.”

Notice how thimersosal (mercury in vaccines) is downplayed compared to environmental mercury. That’s called revisionist history. Take a look at the back cover from the book (click to enlarge):

Back Cover from David Kirby's Evidence of Harm

Back Cover from David Kirby's Evidence of Harm

A commenter on this blog called the recent National Children’s Health Survey to be the worst sort of prevalence study. It can get much worse. For example–according to David Kirby, when he went through the subway he didn’t see anyone obviously autistic. Yes, David Kirby, epidemiologist and diagnostician has found a dramatically low prevalence amongst the New York subway riders.

David Kirby reminds us all that Asperger’s syndrome is a disability. Mr. Kirby, go back and tell that to Lenny Schafer, the “commenter of the week” on your blog, the Age of Autism.

If someone made a comment on this blog like Mr. Shafer did he would be booed off the stage. Here’s an excerpt:

And let us hope that the upcoming DSM-V gets clearer about defining autism only as a disability — and kicks the high functioning ND autism squatters onto the personality disorder spectrum where they belong.

Your blog gave him a free T-shirt. Don’t lecture us about disability.

Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institutes of Mental Health and chair of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee declined to be interviewed by Ms. Attkisson.

A sincere “good job” goes out to Dr. Insel. After the way Ms. Attkisson showed a clear bias in doing her story on Dr. Offit, I can completely understand Dr. Insel declining the interview.

The second half of the interview discusses Mr. Kirby’s new book, the use of antibiotics on large farms.

No, seriously, they moved from Autism to animal farms.

Way to plug David Kirby’s new book, Sharyl!

116 Responses to “Sharyl Attkisson interviews David Kirby…and oh is it bad”

  1. Sullivan October 17, 2009 at 03:09 #

    It’s not unusual for inventors to use their employer to patent thier work and collect inventors fee, as did Dr Offit with CHOP.

    It is beyond “not unusual”. It is expected or required by the contract one is working under. Someone working for a company or hospital signs away intellectual property rights in return for a steady paycheck and a possible cut of the royalties (depending on the contract).

  2. Sullivan October 17, 2009 at 03:13 #


    tell you what. Advertise yourself as an advocate to help families with blind or deaf children fight for accommodations under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. Put your definition of disability in your advertisement. Tell the parents that you will be very vocal about your definition of disability.

    Then advertise yourself to help people fight for their rights under the DDA. Be sure to tell everyone that your definition is: “To me this means unable to function in a manner to maintain an independent life.”

    Get back to us when you land an advocacy gig.

  3. Dedj October 17, 2009 at 03:16 #

    “Dedji I believe the problem lays in the fact that you are in the UK and I am in the US.”

    Nope, the ADA and DDA are remarkably similar. Many tools for assessment are US or Canadian in origin. The disability market in huge in the US and affects what goes on in the UK.

    “In this Country the Social Security administration defines disability as the inability to perform substantial gainful activity that has exceeded 12 months, or is expected to exceed 12 months”

    That the Social Security would use an controversial, arbitary and highly limiting definition of disability is no suprise. Under their definition, anyone capable of work that earns over $500 net can be defined as non-disabled, even if they have no experience in that field of work and even if no jobs are available. This applies even if adaptations have not been funded and adjustments in the workplace have been refused on reasonable grounds.

    Many of the people I know who cannot live independantly would not be classed as disabled under this definition, as they can be supported in vocational placements.

    As an example Stephen Hawking would not count as disabled, yet he clearly is under all other operational definitions. The same goes for Tanni Grey Thompson and the like.

    I’m not sure where the SSA definition originates from (although I’ve read some of the Congressional session papers which dont really clear it up), but it appears to be a definition in regards to benefit eligibility.

    I’ll look it up later when I’m not watching Squidbillies.

    “The legal definition is an injury or medical condition that interferes with an individual’s ability to perform one or more of the functions of daily life or of work.”

    Indeed, difficulty with something does not preclude being able to do it with support, adaptations and modifications.

  4. Sullivan October 17, 2009 at 04:16 #


    do you find the social security definition to be as much of a red herring as I do?

    Social Security is there to give financial support to people unable to earn a living. Of course their definition targets one’s ability to work.

    How about a more complete definition?

    Disability under Social Security for an adult is based on your inability to work because of a medical condition. To be considered disabled:

    * You must be unable to do work you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of a medical condition.
    * Your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

    Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability.

    Odd that bensmyson only chose the “adult” definition. Taken as the sold definition of disability, any infant is “disabled” because he/she can not earn a living and is not expected to do so in the next 12 months.

    One might ask what the “Americans with Disabilities Act” defines disability as. In terms of employment:

    Employment discrimination is prohibited against “qualified individuals with disabilities.” This includes applicants for employment and employees. An individual is considered to have a “disability” if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability also are protected.

    The first part of the definition makes clear that the ADA applies to persons who have impairments and that these must substantially limit major life activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working. An individual with epilepsy, paralysis, HIV infection, AIDS, a substantial hearing or visual impairment, mental retardation, or a specific learning disability is covered, but an individual with a minor, nonchronic condition of short duration, such as a sprain, broken limb, or the flu, generally would not be covered.

    The second part of the definition protecting individuals with a record of a disability would cover, for example, a person who has recovered from cancer or mental illness.

    The third part of the definition protects individuals who are regarded as having a substantially limiting impairment, even though they may not have such an impairment. For example, this provision would protect a qualified individual with a severe facial disfigurement from being denied employment because an employer feared the “negative reactions” of customers or co-workers.

    For emphasis, let’s repeat:

    “An individual is considered to have a “disability” if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.”

    One could also take the definition from the Individuals with Disability in Education Act (IDEA)

    Child with a disability.–

    (A) In general.–The term `child with a disability’ means a child–

    (i) with mental retardation, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance (referred to in this title as `emotional disturbance’), orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; and

    (ii) who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services

    bensmyson made up a definition. He’s welcome to it. Just don’t expect anyone else to accept it.

  5. Joseph October 17, 2009 at 04:35 #

    The US SSA definition of “disability” is apparently the way it is for the purpose of determining eligibility for disability benefits, and nothing more.

    They specifically state their definition is different to that of other programs, and it’s a “strict” definition.

    Based on the US SSA definition of disability, a disabled child would not be disabled, for example (either that, or all children are disabled.) Neither is a deaf person with a job disabled. Stephen Hawking indeed would not be disabled.

    Evidently, it’s designed as a cost cutting definition. They don’t want to give out disability benefits to people who have regular employment, regardless of whether they are actually disabled or not.

  6. Dedj October 17, 2009 at 19:43 #


    do you find the social security definition to be as much of a red herring as I do?”

    It did seem strange that bensmyson would choose the only definition of disability that, as an essential part of it’s function, works to eliminate people who can be clinically and legally disabled yet still able to work.

    As a personal example, my sister is registered blind (a legal disability) yet is the highest earner in our family, partly due to her ‘special’ school education and the multi £1000’s adaptations installed under the old Government Access to Work scheme.

    Under the SSA rules, the mere availability of such a scheme would rule her out as being disabled, yet she’d have to be registered as disabled to qualify for such a scheme…..

    Oddly enough, the SSA ‘automatic disability’ listing includes conditions that do not neccisarily entail inability to work, such as double manual amputations and treatment resistant asthma, the first of which could be disqualified under the ‘adjust to other work’ if vocational adaptations were potentially available.

    But to summarise, the SSA criteria seems to be criteria for benefit eligibility, and not intended to be applied to any other situation.

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