With Wakefield discredited in the mainstream media and to the less extreme of the “I know vaccines did this to my baby” group, Age of Autism has been grasping for something to distract their loyal followers with. Thorsen, of course, has provided considerable fodder for them. Of course, they’ve long railed that the Danish studies are bad studies. Now they have what they believe is new ammunition. So, all in all, they had a good beginning to their week, as far as they were concerned. Cue the vaccine court’s ruling Friday that found thimerosal was not to blame for autism in three test cases. Ah well, you can’t always have a completely great week, now, can you?
Of course, AoA and its loyal followers rarely allow reality to get in the way of a good conspiracy. They put out a flurry of stories so their followers could promptly write things like:
“Maybe our autism groups should be putting millions into legal defense not genetics research, etc., etc.”
“I knew this had been decided when I saw that the government lawyers did not make any real effort to win this case.
Why bother when you know the fix is in?”
Why bother when you know the fix is in?”
“What makes me angry is the vaccines are mandatory. (or that's what I was told) No risks are ever disclosed and no-choice is given. And no justice.”
Of course, when AoA publishes its stuff, like this article put out by SafeMinds, what can you expect of its readers?:
“The breaking story of fraud at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) involving Dr. Poul Thorsen, a leading member of a Danish research group that wrote studies supporting the CDC’s claims that there is no mercury-autism link, casts further doubt on the Special Masters’ decisions. The emerging evidence of Dr. Thorsen’s embezzlement of $2 million, falsehoods about his employment, and serious questions about his research throw into question the validity of the science at the heart of HHS’s claim of no mercury-autism link.”
No, it doesn’t cast doubt on the court’s decisions, and it really doesn’t cast doubt on the research in question. And you don’t get to crow in Wakefield’s defense at the same time you cry about Thorsen and get anybody other than your loyal followers to think anything other than that you’re hypocrites who wouldn’t know good science if it came up and tea-bagged you.
But, AoA’s work wouldn’t be complete for the week without offering Jake Crosby’s 4097 word essay on “The Fallacy of Thimerosal Removal & Autism Increase: A Failure of Science, A Bigger Failure to Children Worldwide” to its readers for a rather long reading session (class project, perhaps? I hope it did extra duty, and I’d love to know what it earned, because it was woefully short on facts).
First, of course, Jake must pay homage to his hero and mentor, JB Handley, for the phrase “the big hungry lie.” And the loyalists lap it up, leaving comments like:
“This lie isn't merely hungry: it's a vampire lie. It can't live in the light of day and has to constantly claim more victims and feed on life to survive.”
The misinformation being spread concerning thimerosal and autism is not being done by the government or big pharma, but instead by the anti-vaccine folks whose page is chockfull of ads for various woo treatments (and speaking of that, Kim Stagliano gave an interview a year ago for www.massagemag.com in which she asserted that she was using craniosacral therapy for her youngest’s PRIMARY treatment – in between the sprinkling of OSR#1 on the breakfast food, no doubt).
Thinking that it’s a vampire lie just makes the parents buying into the woo and misinformation more misguided. Critical thinking really ought to be required instruction throughout schooling. If ever we need proof that the school system is failing society, all we have to do is spend some time on sites like AoA and Huffington Post.
Having done his requisite praise, Jake launches into his introductory paragraph:
“Perhaps the biggest lie of all is the one that has been repeated all too long, that after thimerosal was reduced or eliminated from vaccines, autism rates continued to go up. There have been multiple instances of this claim and each time it has been proven false, right up to the recent lie that after thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 2001, autism rates continue to increase. These two claims, the first that thimerosal was removed from vaccines, and the second that autism rates have not gone down as a result, continue to be used to justify the injection of thimerosal into pregnant women and children with flu shots. The claims have also been used to justify the immunization of children in developing countries with vaccines preserved with thimerosal. Sadly, neither claim is any more truthful than previous equally erroneous claims, the earliest of which originated from Scandinavia, then spread to Canada and most recently came out of California.”
Here we have Jake’s thesis: it’s a lie that autism rates have continued to go up after thimerosal was removed and it’s a lie that thimerosal was removed from vaccines. Notice again: “after thimerosal was reduced or eliminated from vaccines, autism rates continued to go up” is a lie and so is “autism rates have not gone down as a result.” So, let’s work his logic out: it’s a lie that autism rates continued to go up (but everyone at AoA and pretty much elsewhere agrees that, no, the rates have continued to go up: now 1:110, but 1:150 in 2007) and it’s also a lie that thimerosal was removed. So, if thimerosal wasn’t removed (and it was from most vaccines that had it, and children can get a thimerosal free flu vaccine, so no child need get any thimerosal), but it’s a lie that rates didn’t continue to increase, we’d, if we weren’t total gluttons for punishment, stop reading Jake’s nonsense right now and give him a failing grade at logic.
We are, however, gluttons of the most extreme type.
Jake makes a huge deal out of Schecter and Grether’s (2008) study “Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California’s Developmental Services System.” Schecter and Grether found no evidence for a thimerosal/autism link. Jake doesn’t like that conclusion, though, so writes, somewhat muddled: “However, their own errors, it now appears, contradicted their conclusions.” Well, if it’s an error, then it’s no big deal, because it’s wrong if it’s an error, and if it contradicts the no link, it means there’s no link, because it was an error. Hah. I know. It’s like the Zen Buddhist monks asking unanswerable questions. Willl Jake explain the sentence? Oh no, he won’t. He will continue to dazzle us with his assailable logic.
He will also provide lots of contentions with no source notes. Oh, Olmsted and Blaxill, you’ve taught him so well! He contends that Schecter and Grether are wrong because “Expiration dates on many of the vaccines that contained thimerosal were well after 2003.” Uh-huh. The study authors, though, cite the Institutes of Medicine for their contention that thimerosal in vaccines that had typically contained it had expiration dates in 2002. Very different from “well after 2003” and sourced. Who are you gonna believe, scientists who cite their work or Jake who believes in “the big hungry lie”?
What else does he have? The idea that it doesn’t matter if they were right and thimerosal was removed by 2002, because infants were getting flu shots. Except that the authors of the study did take into account the flu vaccines and it still showed a reduction in thimerosal exposure. No matter, if it wasn’t the babies getting it, Jake blames the pregnant moms getting the flu vaccine. You know, Stagliano’s theory of toxin overload in the pregnant mother.
Jake continues to complain, often not making much sense, before he gets back to the whole idea that it’s a lie that autism rates have continued to climb: “That is the final and main problem I found with this paper, which has been used to support the untrue claim that autism rates have continued to go up.”
But Jake, autism rates have continued to climb. All your cronies over there are desperately worried that we’re heading for an 1:1 prevalence rate, so how can you possibly get away with that. I know how, you put them to sleep with the 4, 097 words on the subject and all those confusing contortions of logic. We know you had Handley at the beginning, with your praising of him. His eyes glazed over after that, no doubt. Blaxill and Olmsted are still busy getting off on Thorsen and working on their undoubtedly frightening history of autism. Stagliano, what with all the woo and mining chemicals, can’t be expected to wade through your piece with a fine tooth comb and realize you’ve shat on their parade of an autism epidemic.
I don’t blame any of them, though, as I had to skim through the next thousand words of wa-wa-wa nonsense to perk up at this:
“What does, however, are the results obtained by Dr. Mark Geier, a fellow of the American College of Epidemiology, and his son David Geier, when they analyzed both the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System of autism-related adverse events and the California Department of Developmental Services data of total new autism cases and found a decrease in both, according to a study entitled “Early Downward Trends in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Removal of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines,” published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.”
At this point, I had to break to grab my sides. Hahahahaha. I get it, throw in their idols enough, and you’ll keep the editors happy right. JPANDS and the Geiers. Oh, wow. Moving on, because no way am I going on for 4,097 words on this. My new goal: all articles must come in under 4,097 words.
He quotes the “Changes in the California Caseload An Update: June 1987 – June 2007” in a bit of contorted reasoning that I dare you to follow. He’s trying to argue that other ASDs didn’t increase at the same rate as “full-blown” autism and use the data on page 27 to substantiate that. It doesn’t: “Between 2002 and 2007, the “ASD other than autism” group shows approximately the same increase as the “autism” group (171 versus 168 percent).”
In addition, the report proves wrong his allegation that autism wasn’t increasing after 2002:
“Currently there are more than 38,000 people in California receiving services for ASD, growth that has averaged 13.4 percent annually since 2002.”
He goes on another thousand words or so, but it isn’t any better than this, and this is the crux of his argument: thimerosal not removed, blah blah, and rates didn’t keep going out. I think I’ve demonstrated here that he did not deserve a passing grade for his efforts.
He closes his paper with this: “What is truly sad is that this big hungry lie continues to be repeated in order to justify the population-wide poisoning of countless infants and fetuses.”
Now, listen up, Jake, because you’ve just invalidated your thesis: if you really believe there’s “population-wide poisoning of countless infants and fetuses” going on and you think thimerosal causes autism, then you must think autism rates are increasing.
Thelma would have a word for what this makes you.