A myth memorialized (a.k.a. “Simpsonwood Remembered”)

Here is the myth of Simpsonwood being memorialized on the seventh anniversary of the meeting where, if you believe the mercury militia, the CDC, in cahoots with big pharma, tried to suppress the “truth” that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. it is a myth that was popularized by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s misinformation-laden Salon.com article two years ago that trotted out every pseudoscientific and fallacious argument claiming that vaccines, specifically the mercury in the thimerosal preservative used in vaccines, causes autism.

Here are some commentaries that reveal the myth for what it is:

  1. Salon.com flushes its credibility down the toilet
  2. Robert F. Kennedy Junior’s completely dishonest thimerosal article
  3. Simpsonwood redux: Isolation is a state of mind
  4. Lies, damn lies, and quote mining
  5. Simpsonwood, thimerosal, and vaccines (II)
  6. Endangered species
  7. Mercury, autism, and Imus
  8. Mercury and autism: RFK Jr. drops another stinky one on the blogosphere


I had been thinking about waiting until June 17, which would represent the two year anniversary of my deconstruction of Robert F. Kennedy’s totally dishonest and distorted article on in Salon.com and Rolling Stone about thimerosal, but with the Autism Omnibus hearings starting next week, I decided that today would be as good a time as any to do a blast from the past. Remember that, even though the thimerosal/autism hypothesis is about as scientifically dead as a hypothesis can be, with no good evidence supporting it and a number of large studies now showing no link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism, the plaintiffs can still win. The reason is that the standard is a legal standard, not a scientific one, as one of the plaintiff’s attorneys puts it:

The plaintiffs acknowledge that their case is far from airtight scientifically. But Kevin Conway, a Boston attorney representing the family of 12-year-old Michelle Cedillo of Yuma, Ariz., whose claim was designated the opening test case for more than 4,800 plaintiffs, said that even if the science is equivocal, he has a good legal argument, which is all he needs.

“There is a difference between scientific proof and legal proof,” Conway said. “One is 95 percent certainty, and the other is . . . 50 percent and a feather.”

Also, don’t for a minute buy the claims of the mercury militia that they aren’t “antivaccine.” They are. Moreover, it’s not just about the thimerosal; it’s about the vaccines, as Conway confirms:

Besides, Conway added, those who support the vaccine-autism theory did not put all their eggs in the thimerosal basket. They are also arguing that something else in vaccines might be making children sick.

Of course they didn’t. Even they know that the thimerosal hypothesis is a road to nowhere. That’s why they’re backpedaling furiously and broadening it so that it’s in essence unfalsifiable. It’s also all about conspiracy-mongering:

Scientific advocates for the vaccine-autism theory, such as the father-and-son team of Mark and David Geier of Silver Spring, say fears about damaging public health programs have prompted scientists and the government to hide evidence of a problem. Many of the families believe that the medical establishment and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have conspired in a massive coverup.

Remember, this is the same “team” that injects powerful drugs that block sex hormone activity into autistic children (i. e., chemically castrating them) because they think that testosterone somehow binds to the mercury from vaccines and makes it “harder to remove” by chelation. Such are the “experts” the plaintiffs will be presenting.

The Autism Omnibus proceedings will be a real test of our legal system and its ability to rule on science, not pseudoscience. The problem is that the bar for the plaintiffs to prevail in court is considerably lower than the bar that science expects advocates of a hypothesis to hurdle in order to convince science.