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Autism Medicine Pseudoscience Quackery

Mercury and autism: Foreordained conclusions?

Light blogging today, as I’m in the O.R. (Although there will be one more brief post, which, thanks to the wonders of Movable Type’s ability to let me schedule a time when posts are published, will be appearing early this afternoon, while I’m still working.The reason why I’m delaying it will, hopefully, be apparent.)

Light blogging or not, I couldn’t resist mentioning a post by Kathleen Seidel in which she’s picked up on something that I hadn’t noticed but wish I had.

In a long, multi-topic “roundup” sort of post, near the end, she mentions RFK Jr.’s essay Tobacco Science and the Thimerosal Scandal, which he published around the time of his infamous Salon.com article. In this article, he interviewed Mark and David Geier, the father-son tag team mercury wrestlers, who told him that they had a “forthcoming study” that, according to them, would show that autism rates were starting to decline since thimerosal had been removed from nearly all childhood vaccines in early 2003. Quite naturally, Kathleen assumed that the essay was referring to the latest “study” by the Geiers published in that far right wing pseudoscientific rag, The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons just a couple of weeks ago. RFK Jr.’s article was published to the web in late June, eight months before the Geiers’ study appeared.

Kathleen looked at the methods section of the Geier’s most recent paper and found something very interesting, namely that the Geiers paper, published in February, had looked at data from the VAERS database through August 31 and the CDDS database through October 4.

Draw your own conclusions.

MIne are the same as Kathleen’s: Given that it’s likely that their interview with RFK Jr. that was used in his essay very likely occurred several weeks before RFK Jr. published his essay and article, the Geiers had almost certainly decided what their study would show months before they had actually completed it. That was obvious to me by the statistically incorrect way that they “analyzed” their data, and, given this new information, it’s even more obvious to me now.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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