SafeMinds retaliates against skeptic blogger

7 Dec

SafeMinds is an organization with the stated purpose to “…to restore health and protect future generations by eradicating the devastation of autism and associated health disorders induced by mercury and other man made toxicants. ” SafeMinds has stayed with this purpose even as the years have gone by and the evidence has mounted that the SafeMinds hypothesis was incorrect (autism is not a form of mercury poisoning). Recently, SafeMinds produced an advertisement, framed as a public service announcement, focusing on mercury in the flu vaccine and tried to get these shown in movie theaters. As we discussed here recently, Elyse over at Skepchick started an effort to inform the movie theaters about SafeMinds. Her effort snowballed into a large petition and resulted in the movie theaters deciding to not show the SafeMinds advertisement.

Recently, SafeMinds has chosen to leave the discussion of ideas and take on Elyse in a personal attack, through their media effort at the Age of Autism. SafeMinds is not only a key sponsor of Age of Autism, but Mark Blaxill (SafeMinds board member) is one of the three principle editors of the Age of Autism blog.

Again, rather than discuss the issues, they pulled Elyse’s facebook photo

and posted this message

This is the woman who fought to pull the SafeMinds PSA’s from the theatres. It’s her FB profile page photo. She is anti-choice and wants to tell you that mercury is safe and that Thimeosal is good – according to her blog. She trolls AofA regularly. As do all the pro-vaccine-injury bloggers.

It was a call to mock and insult Elyse. A perfect example of cyber bullying. Amongst the comments to that FaceBook page was one extreme enough that one of the Age of Autism editors noted it and promised to remove it. “While I agree that the broken thermometer comment was out of order (the blog does not condone violent speech, so that comments is going.”

It took a while for them to make good on the promise. As in many hours later, after Elyse reported the abuse to the police. That comment does appear to be gone now. Many other abusive comments (but not all) also appear to be removed.

Rather than apologize for inciting the bullying effort, SafeMinds/AgeofAutism are defending themselves by claiming that Elyse was standing in the way of choice.

Stopping Americans unable to understand? What is she St. Skepchick? She interefered with medical choice and commerce. That’s her right to make the attempt. We dis not use her name. We pulled her public photo that she used here on FB. We ran it on FB, not the main site – our readers deserved to know who was behind (at the outer level anyway) the AMC campaign to stop the ads. We provide news. This was news.

No. It wasn’t news. And, no, Elyse was not interfering with medical choice or commerce. She was quite simply providing the theaters with information–allowing them to make informed consent about the SafeMinds advertisement.

The idea of SafeMinds being pro-choice on vaccines is rather ironic. Again a story from their outlet blog, the Age of Autism makes this clear. Two years ago, a theater in New Mexico was going to show the movie “Horton Hears a Who” combined with a free vaccination clinic. At that time, they had a connection to Horton star, Jim Carrey. Instead of allowing choice, providing information, they got Jim Carrey to force the cancellation of the event:

Following a long discussion with his representatives at Fox Entertainment – Who-ville – once again through Horton – was heard. The New Mexico test market of drive thru vaccines while at the movies with your children was stopped. Halted by Horton himself because he heard “we are here, we are here, we are here!” once again.

The bullying attack on Elyse wasn’t about choice, it was just a childish attempt at some sort of petty vengeance. Unfortunately it got out of control. I thank SafeMinds and the Age of Autism for editing the comments, but even what is left is unacceptable. It’s time for apologies, not excuses.

21 Responses to “SafeMinds retaliates against skeptic blogger”

  1. Science Mom December 7, 2010 at 21:12 #

    Here are some revealing posts on AoA today:

    Anne, one thing about your article really leaped out for me. You say you got excited about when the autism rate went all the way to 1 in 110. That’s not exciting. That’s terrible.

    In my discussion with local parents, that’s one of the biggest sticks they have against our movement. They say that mercury was taken out of shots in 2001, but the rate keeps on rising, so it can’t be mercury. It’s very difficult to argue against this. I know parents of young children with autism, and they’ve even asked to look at the vaccine records, and their child had no mercury. So then they don’t take you seriously anymore when you talk about mercury.

    I know that it’s not JUST mercury, but this is part of the reason why we are losing the PR war.

    Posted by: Jennifer S. | December 07, 2010 at 07:00 AM

    So this is a ‘PR campaign’ and the answer is essentially, “Well then just lie about it”?:

    Jennifer S-You have to tell them that the mercury is NOT out of all vaccines. In 2004 it went into the flu vaccines in copious amounts/ Tell the naysayers that it wasn’t out in 2001…it was a very gradual process and bottles were left on shelves for years afterwards that were not outdated and were still being used. Sometimes you have to argue til you’re “red” in the face. Hopefully some people will come around.
    PS John, that’s a terrific You Tube.

    Posted by: Maurine Meleck | December 07, 2010 at 08:40 AM

    I understand Jennifer’s concerns, this is how it IS presented. When a study comes out in 2010, suggesting the rate of autism is 1/80 to 1/240, the emphasis isn’t put on the age of the study group, or the year of the completion of the study. The huge rise in autism, corresponded with a birthyear that wasn’t boldly put out there. Even I don’t remember it, I believe it was 1998, but not sure. The children, the recipients of lowered thimerosal have not been studied, they are entering kindergarten this year. The statement about removal doesn’t match the dates of discontinuance of use, yet MOST, including myself feel somewhat certain it left the shelves by 2004/2005. There is unlikely a rise in autism among this group, and while flu vaccines and “trace” levels supply the newer generation with a dose, it would seem unlikely their numbers would be as high as those children born before 2005.It’s quite possible, as well, that there would be no benefit to the cdc/drug companies to assess them. At this point we may learn more by asking kindergarten teachers, and I have, and the news is good. One approached me with the telling of unusual empathy among them, another said, fewer speech and behavioral problems. We will see. In conversation one ninth grade teacher was so concerned about her incoming class this year, that she wasn’t sure she was up to task . They are the 1996 babies,just entering high school.

    Posted by: barbaraj | December 07, 2010 at 09:05 AM

    This is the problem, they think they are on a “Mission from God” and the means justify the ends. It is not about informed consent or safer vaccines, it is about shoving their perverse worldview down everyone’s throats to validate themselves and their horrid actions. They are not intellectually equipped to debate their opposition so they simply lash out at convenient targets like Elyse, you, Kev, Dr. Gorski, Dr. Novella, Amy Wallace and anyone else whose identity is known or remonstration is conflicting with theirs. It’s a twisted little world they exist in and I suspect they will escalate before long.

    • Sullivan December 7, 2010 at 21:29 #


      I just listened to that recording myself. Having lost the scientific debate, they are still waging a “PR war”. They can admit that they are losing the PR war, why not delve deeper (actually not that deep) into the reason? They were wrong. The mercury-induced autism epidemic didn’t happen. There are other reasons for the increase, at least a majority of the reasons are social dynamics, not medical.

      It is sad. Instead of morphing into true advocacy organizations, they are clinging to the past.

  2. Chris December 7, 2010 at 21:44 #

    Maurine Meleck:

    Tell the naysayers that it wasn’t out in 2001…it was a very gradual process and bottles were left on shelves for years afterwards that were not outdated and were still being used.


    The statement about removal doesn’t match the dates of discontinuance of use, yet MOST, including myself feel somewhat certain it left the shelves by 2004/2005.

    Which is why they get all confused when I tell them (with a link!) that the doyenne of Safe Minds, Sallie Bernard, was searching for DTaP with thimerosal in 2001. Actually, all Safe Minds sponsored studies after Mady Hornig’s goofy autistic mice study have required the addition of thimerosal (this includes Burbacher and Hewitson).

  3. brian December 8, 2010 at 00:24 #

    The PR war waged by Age of Autism and SafeMinds can only become more difficult, and, already, Mark Blaxill (as quoted by Anne Dachel today at AoA) has said: “I think we are not winning.”

    This new study makes their foolish campaign even more certain to fail:

    In Quebec, thimerosal was removed from vaccines used as part of the recommended childhood vaccine schedule in 1996; previously, children in Quebec were exposed to up to 225 micrograms of thimerosal in the pediatric vaccine schedule. Lazoff et al. studied the prevalence of pervasive developmental disorders including autism in birth cohorts exposed in the years prior to the elimination of thimerosal from the pediatric vaccine schedule to 125 to 200 micrograms of thimerosal and birth cohorts born as late as 2002, six years after thimerosal was removed from the pediatric schedule . [Can J Psych, Vol 55, No 11, November 2010]

    The prevalence of PDD increased from the years before thimerosal-containing vaccines were eliminated (prevalence per 10,000 was 44 for children born in 1994 and 59 for those born in 1995, the year before thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines; for children born six year after the ban (in 2002), prevalence had more than doubled to 129 per 10,000.

    It will be interesting to see what SafeMinds and Age of Autism can say about this paper; it’s hard to argue that exposure to thimerosal somehow increased in the six years after it was banned because, oh, some expired vials might have not been exchanged for current lots. Maybe AoA will rely on the fact that, although the research was conducted without outside funding, one of the authors was asked to testify in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding precisely because he is an expert in this field, rather than, say, a journalist or an MBA.

    • Sullivan December 8, 2010 at 00:44 #


      That is certainly a more difficult problem for the mercury hypothesis than the US situation (which is already an impossible situation).

      The Age of Autism blog has already made baseless smears against that researcher–using internet rumors as their source. It was yet another in the series of embarrassing episodes by the organizations that use that blog.

  4. Science Mom December 8, 2010 at 02:30 #

    @ Sullivan,

    Having lost the scientific debate, they are still waging a “PR war”.

    This is what I simply can’t assimilate. First, why a PR campaign, or rather, war? What are the spoils of that said war? Next, why waste so much money, energy, emotion in an attempt to alter public perception about their bête noir? One that is, no less, not even supported by their own funded research, let alone the larger body of research put forth by numerous scientists.

    I don’t know if it is just me or has the mercury-autism crusade been recently provided new vigour with the release of the Blaxill/Olmstead book? If so, it just goes to show how capricious their causation hypotheses really are.

  5. isles December 8, 2010 at 02:36 #

    Even crying, that is one extremely cute baby. Elyse is setting a sterling example of how adults should act by seeing a societal problem and acting to set it right. Her daughter is lucky to be growing up with Elyse as her model.

  6. Liz Ditz December 8, 2010 at 19:48 #

    Science Mom

    I don’t know if it is just me or has the mercury-autism crusade been recently provided new vigour with the release of the Blaxill/Olmstead book?

    I think it is just you. Sales for the book are dismal and there have been (to the best of my knowledge) no serious reviews of the book anywhere.

    However, the word of mouth, mother-to-mother spreading of fear, uncertainty & doubt (FUD) about vaccine safety & efficacy continues.

    I’m hoping that private, grass-roots initiatives like that mounted by Wendy Sue Swanson will begin to turn the tide. Read the last installment, which has links to the first two Do You Believe in Vaccines Part iii Experience.

    The “Age of Autism, my child’s autism is a vaccine injury” faithful Craig Willoughby turned, and posts the following note at Skepchick

    Elyse, you and I are not in agreement on the causes of Autism and the safety of the vaccination schedule. However, I am not here to discuss or debate vaccines and autism.

    I must express my disgust at what AoA has done. I don’t care how much you like or dislike someone, you NEVER bring their family into the argument. What they did appalls me, and I wanted to let you know that I vehemently disagree with what they’ve done. I might disagree with you on many things, but I respect your right to have an opinion, and I refuse to attack your family for any reason. Good day, and good luck to you.

    He posted a more detailed (and vulgar) response at his own blog..

    Yes, Willoughby still believes in vaccine causation, and even thought the Safeminds propaganda piece “was encouraging vaccination”. But he’s criticized the AoA’s behavior. And that’s a first.

  7. Orange Lantern December 8, 2010 at 22:04 #

    Not a first for Craig, though, Liz. IIRC, he made similar statements when AoA went after Orac as well as Bonnie Offit. Good on him.

  8. Neuroskeptic December 9, 2010 at 18:37 #

    This outrageous personal attack is… nothing more than we’ve come to expect from Age of Autism. If anything I’m surprised they didn’t accuse her of taking money from Pharma.

  9. John Fryer Chemist December 14, 2010 at 01:16 #

    With mercury deliberately added to the flu vaccine as at 2010 December and CDC recommended to the pregnant mother in her first trimester, I find comments about it being out of vaccines and those that propagate such lies are not doing the autism world any favours in finding causes.

    Mercury is known to destroy brains and take away minds and has no place in any vaccine for the foetus, child or adult.

    Many mercury free vaccines have still mercury and in addition other carcinogens and neurotoxic substances still rest or replace those older formulations.

    The science is simple and to continue to increase autism by some trickery of taking away one bad stuff and replacing by another is a CRIME.

    • Sullivan December 14, 2010 at 01:31 #

      John Fryer Chemist,

      I have made comments that in the state of California–where SafeMinds tried to show their ads–mercury free flu vaccines are given to pregnant women. It is not a lie, but a fact. Perhaps you could read closely.

      You do not participate in discussion, Mr. Fryer. You tend to post the same stuff, in ever lengthening comments, over and over (and over and over). I don’t mind dissent. I do mind noise. And that is what you generate. Frankly, I suspect that even the mercury proponents are weary of your comments, as they lack the foundation and clarity as to actually help their cause.

  10. John Fryer Chemist December 14, 2010 at 01:22 #

    UK studies that “prove” mercury does not cause autism are tricky with their conclusions.

    The advanced vaccine schedule led to an immediate rise in autism for the UK taking it arguably higher than any other country.

    A damning inditement of injecting mercury at earlier ages for infants.

    Mercury is a brain destroyer and no trickery, lies or paid for studies to show it has “protective” benefits are anything but a smokescreen in best tobacco science epidemiology as perfected by Sir Doll.

    Meanwhile these scientists by obfuscating their findings of harm are DIRECTLY responsible for autism rising, other illnesses and sudden infant deaths.

  11. John Fryer Chemist December 16, 2010 at 22:39 #

    Hi Sullivan

    I understand that 80 per cent of flu vaccines for injection are containing the same amount of mercury that was injected into babies all through the 1990’s.

    How can we be sure that all the pregnant mothers get vaccines with absolutely no mercury deliberately added or used in the manufacture?

    How can we be sure that there are not other neurotoxins in the flu injections in California.

    There is mercury being used for most vaccines today and this despite a call to eliminate mercury as soon as possible.

    I have no information on California but in France until recently 95 per cent of H1N1 vaccines for last year were in a secret storage facility as the adults here mostly refused to be injected with both mercury and other dubious ingredients.

    California may be the safe haven but VAERS and other data indicates huge deaths to many unborn children directly after flu vaccines mercury filled or not.

  12. John Fryer Chemist December 18, 2010 at 08:13 #

    Everyone has valid comments and input to the debate on autism and it grieves me that people with limited knowledge but strong feelings cannot appreciate efforts of people to get something positive done.

    While we argue amongst ourselves the numbers of autism and other illness (autism is but 4 per cent of the neuro-health issue) big pharma and the chemical industry move forward with more and more attacks on our health and especially those of the new born and yet to be born.

    Thimerosal is not debatable and deserves to be purged from all vaccines even adults and those of the “poorer” nations who not only havent the money but usually not the health and so they react with more adverse reactions than people with good water supplies etc.

    For myself I have dozens of issues other than mercury deliberately added to vaccines to make them toxic.

    GMO food in France is coming in through the ports and consists of food that when eaten makes all those that eat it bleed and for insects is the method of controlling them. Hardly good for the health of anyone and yet GMO soja commands more than 95 per cent of all our soja. (soya in France now, a country where most people are not aware we eat GMO products or grow them).

    If you look at what the chemical industry admits is bad for us what do you see? Tobacco, asbestos and carbon residues on burnt food. All carcinogens and all NATURAL products.

    Ask big pharma if thimerosal is a carcinogen and even here it is disputed science.

    Outrageous behaviour and contempt now for the unborn child where this deliberate addition changes the DNA of their bodies.

    Even with a totally united front to get something done we see a wishy washy demand for removal and some legislation overturned with the explanation that its good for our health.

    The only thing its good for is profits and worship of the ALMIGHTY DOLLAR.

  13. Rekha February 21, 2015 at 01:03 #

    I am in a very difficult psoition right now as a new parent. My daughter is now 5 mths old and I’ve held off getting her any vaccinations. On the one hand I’m afraid that if I don’t go thru with it then she’ll end up getting a potentially life threatening disease she should have been vaccinated against but then on the other hand I’m afraid that if I do vaccinate her that 4 or 5 years from now I’ll discover that she’s autistic. I’m wondering if you’re against all vaccines or if you advocate some and not others.I should mention that I live in Canada. And I find the vaccine debate is not spoken about as much over here and so the information I find is not as current as it is for parents in the U.S. Every ‘official’ site here advocates the administration of vaccines to children.Would you have any advice to give me? And thank you for having such an informative place to come to for the latest news on vaccinations.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 24, 2015 at 00:31 #

      I am not against vaccines.

      The data so far is clear: whether your child is autistic or not will not depend on the vaccines you give.

    • Lawrence February 24, 2015 at 00:53 #

      You are much better off by vaccinating….

  14. Rosli February 26, 2015 at 08:15 #

    I too am in this position my son is only 5 weeks old and I have been riadeng as much information as I can find on the Thermerisol controversy. I think it is ridiculous that the pharmaceutical companies still use this preservative when all they would have to do is make single use vials for each dose and be done with the controversy. I don’t know if I should delay some vaccines refrain from them or spilt them up?? I have not found any suggestions on a way to do some but maybe not all of the vaccines. Any advice would be welcomed!!! Thank You in advance for your comments.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 26, 2015 at 23:28 #

      You should be aware that the preservative thimerosal has been removed from infant vaccines for over a decade. If that is your worry (and it wasn’t a problem even then) don’t be concerned.


  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - SafeMinds retaliates against skeptic blogger « Left Brain/Right Brain -- - December 7, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev, Catherina+ScienceMom. Catherina+ScienceMom said: RT @kevleitch SafeMinds retaliates against skeptic blogger […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: