Friday, June 22, 2007

New feature: Grand Conspiracy #1

I've been following the Autism Omnibus trial in Washington D.C. (if you have time, read some of the transcripts - they're fascinating - or for an excellent summary, head over to Autism Diva) over the last 2 weeks, and it got something stirring in my head. How many people would it take to pull off the grand conspiracy that the Mercury Militia and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are supposing?

First, an overview:

Over ten years ago now, Dr. Geier, an M.D. based out of Maryland, proposed the hypothesis that the preservative in vaccines caused autism. His hypothesis was based on two ideas. One, that many parents first noticed autism symptoms in their children shortly after their second year vaccinations. And two, that the preservative in vaccines (thimerosal) is a compound that contains mercury, and other mercury compounds are known neurotoxins. At the time, it was a shaky, but testable hypothesis.

Since then, numerous epidemiological and toxicological studies (summarized by the National Academies here) have failed to find any link between the preservative thimerosal and autism. In fact, thimerosal has been removed from most vaccines in Canada and the United Kingdom (and more recently in the U.S.) and none of those countries have seen a decrease in the level of autism, suggesting very strongly, that thimerosal does not cause autism.

Several groups and individuals (most notably Robert Kennedy Jr.) have suggested that a grand conspiracy exists that is duping the American public to prevent the truth being known (that is, that thimerosal causes autism).

So, for this to be true, who would have to be in on this grand conspiracy to dupe the American public?

-some employees of the FDA (at least a few hundred people)

-some employees at the CDC (at least a few hundred people)

-15 distinguished members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)

-members of the labs of those 15 distinguished members of the NAS (at least 150 people total)

-the lawyers that work at the Health and Human Services Department (<100)

-the employees at the world's vaccine companies - an incomplete list being here (with employees in parentheses):

Sanofi-Aventis (96,000)
Chiron (5,000)
MedImmune (~10,000)
GlaxoSmithKline (100,000)
Emergent Biosolutions (?)
Wyeth (51,000)
Eli Lilly (44,000)

- the vast majority of academic autism researchers (~1000)*

- the vast majority of academic vaccine researchers (~10000)*

Giving a rough total of 300,000 people in on this conspiracy to poison the American people. Did I miss anyone?

* these numbers are a bit hand waving, as I get them by typing the word vaccine or autism into pubmed, and dividing the number of publications by 10

Digg!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let’s crunch your numbers

The FDA, the actual number involved in toxicology in vaccines, I say 10. Impossible to verify. Your number and my number subjectively determined.

Current NAS studies show no studies relating to any toxic substance in vaccines. So I say there are 0.

Since there are no current studies, then there are no labs so that number is also 0.

Lawyers are bought and sold and know nothing about the actual science.

Every employee of any organization does not know everything that is going on within the companies they work for. Also, since “whistle-blower” laws are not real protective, these employees are motivated to keep their lips shut as long as they want a paycheck.

Any “academic autism researchers” will be in psychological disciplines so that toxicology would be outside their scope of research.

Any “academic vaccine researchers” hasn’t even studied the ineffectiveness of Thimerosal as a bactericide in the manufacturing process nor have they audited the processes to see if how much Thimerosal actually ends up in the final product labeled “Trace/Thimerosal Free”. Most “academic vaccine researchers” are in their ivory towers looking for their “new” product to put them on financial Easy Street.

Your numbers don’t add up.

The Factician said...

So you are contending that there are only 10 people the world over who actually know the truth, and that these 10 people are diabolical masterminds that are pulling the strings of the rest of the world? Who are these puppetmasters? And what is their grand plan?

The fact that in a few minutes on PubMed I can find safety studies for thimerosal and studies of its effectiveness as a bacteriocide, does that make me a dupe? or a conspirator?

I suggest there is very little difference between contending that there are hundreds of thousands of people involved in a global conspiracy, and suggesting that somehow ten people are the only ones who know the truth about a molecule that scientists have been working with since the 1920s. How would these ten people have kept their secrets? Any scientist who wants to can work with thimerosal. Experiments demonstrating safety and efficacy are easy to do (and have been done numerous times). How would they change the results of these experiments?

Anonymous said...

“So you are contending that there are only 10 people the world over who actually know the truth, and that these 10 people are diabolical masterminds that are pulling the strings of the rest of the world? Who are these puppetmasters? And what is their grand plan?”

That is your claim, not mine. I merely pointed out that your 300K is a vast overestimate of the real number of people with a scientific working knowledge of Thimerosal. I never quoted a number. I would guess about 25 - 50K tops.

“The fact that in a few minutes on PubMed I can find safety studies for thimerosal and studies of its effectiveness as a bacteriocide, does that make me a dupe? or a conspirator?”

No, it does not make you a dupe or a conspirator, nor does it make you an expert. I’m also sure that you would not be able to find on PubMed the inefficient use of Thimerosal by Chiron that caused the shortage of influenza vaccines last flu seasons nor would I expect you to find recalls of vaccines that exceeded “trace” amounts of Thimerosal or how many manufactured lots ever exceeded this threshold.

I also sincerely doubt that you would be able to find a study identifying what areas of the body and brain are adversely effected by Thimerosal, a labeled neurotoxin.

Scientists have known about the toxic problems of Thimerosal since it was invented. Why do you think that only test subjects who died from other pre-existing conditions were used for Thimerosal? The answer was because no one else was crazy enough to expose themselves and also so the manufacturer could claim Thimerosal didn’t kill them. Thimerosal has never been in veterinary vaccines because an assistant to the original study said he “wouldn’t give it to a dog”.

The Factician said...

I would guess about 25 - 50K tops.

25,000 people involved in a conspiracy to poison American children. Say that out loud. Roll it around your mouth a little. 25,000 people involved in a conspiracy to poison children. Roughly a football stadium's worth.

Without looking at any other data, I think it's safe to rule this out. You think that 25,000 people could keep a secret this huge? Much less a secret that involves poisoning children? You realize the inherent lunacy in this statement, don't you?

nor does it make you an expert.

That is precisely my point. It is so easy for a non-expert to get the data, that it would be impossible to keep it secret. And in fact, all of the available credible data points to current thimerosal doses being safe.

I also sincerely doubt that you would be able to find a study identifying what areas of the body and brain are adversely effected by Thimerosal, a labeled neurotoxin.

At the ingested doses, there are none. Thimerosal breaks down into ethyl mercury shortly after being injected. The doses required to harm someone are 10,000 to 100,000 times higher than the dose that people actually receive. (Please see http://conspiracyfactory.blogspot.com/2007/05/everything-is-toxic.html for more info).

The rest of what you write is disjointed, and I can't tell what you're trying to say. If I am understanding you correctly, everything that you are saying about thimerosal toxicity and testing is simply not true. Of course, I may be misunderstanding you...

Anonymous said...

“Without looking at any other data, I think it's safe to rule this out. You think that 25,000 people could keep a secret this huge? Much less a secret that involves poisoning children? You realize the inherent lunacy in this statement, don't you?”

Let’s see, 25K out of 208M that is 1/100 of 1% of the US population. That would be a “trace” amount. Out loud that is an easy amount to keep secrete. Coincidently that same number 1:10000 WAS the incident rate of AUTISM PRIOR to 1990, very few except the HIGHLY trained knew about them at the time. Proof it is easy to keep this many people inside a “secrete”, but I digress.

“And in fact, all of the available credible data points to current thimerosal doses being safe.”

Is there a PubMed study prior to 1999 , or even currently, showing the cumulative risks of multiple exposures over a 24 to 36 month time frame? Or do you simple assume that damage by a thousand needles isn’t possible without study?

Why isn’t there a physiological study proving that the neurotoxin Thimerosal couldn’t possibly contribute to the neurological disorders defined as ASD? I have seen and read biological studies of Thimerosal on neurons, but the CDC never seems to quote them.

The first 22 HUMAN test subjects all died from mengiococcal meningitis days after their exposure to Thimerosal. The company proclaimed they didn’t die from Thimerosal. Thimerosal was grandfathered into the FDA. Finally, if Thimerosal ISN’T toxic and safe to use, why did the UK and every other civilized country “ban” the use in children’s vaccines long before the USA?

“The doses required to harm someone are 10,000 to 100,000 times higher than the dose that people actually receive”

And three drinks don’t put anyone over the legally defined threshold for being intoxicated. Same scientific arbitrary guideline that don’t work for EVERYBODY.

Anonymous said...

22 human test subjects...
reference please?

thimerosol banned in "every other civilized country" but frequency of autism continues to go up in the UK, as one example. Not convincing as evidence for thimerosol not being causative? what are your thoughts on this?

Anonymous said...

Exposure to asbestos doesn’t cause cancer, but it contributes to it. Thimerosal contributes to ASD. The medical discoveries made by Dr. Wakefield, which have not been discredited and replicated, may not cause ASD, but further insult an already weakened GI. My own child tested positive for measles in his digestive tract. There may also be other environmental factors at work.

A census or count of the ASD community will be highly subjective based on the diagnosis criteria and testing for inclusion, willingness of the population to be counted, reproducibility. If not based on actual diagnosis criteria then the numbers will be more subjective and fictional at best, like educational labels.

The Factician said...

Thimerosal contributes to ASD.

That has never been demonstrated.

The medical discoveries made by Dr. Wakefield, which have not been discredited and replicated, may not cause ASD, but further insult an already weakened GI.

This is not true. If you are referring to his "discovery" of measles in autism patients, not only has his study been discredited, but most of his co-authors have retracted their names from the study. Indeed, one of his graduate students recently testified that he told Dr. Wakefield that his studies were flawed (prior to publication). Not only are they discredited, but he knew they were discredited prior to publication.

My own child tested positive for measles in his digestive tract.

My condolences. If you are curious about the quality of the lab, you could send in samples from yourself and your child, and randomize them. Recent tests like that have shown that labs that claim to find measles in the stomach can't tell one sample apart from another. I.e. they are either incompetent or fraudulent.


There may also be other environmental factors at work.

That is a separate hypothesis. Certainly worthy of consideration and testing, but not one that I am discussing here right now.

Nonetheless, with all of this, tens of thousands of scientists must "know the truth" for your story to be correct. Do you really believe that there are tens of thousands of scientists conspiring to poison children?

Anonymous said...

Do you really believe that all doctors are honest, altruistic, and know what they are doing?

The factual answer to that is no they are not.

Another factual statement:

Until all doctors ARE honest, altruistic, and know what they are doing, the studies they produce are worthless.

How do you tell the good from the bad? You can’t.

Anonymous said...

Autistic Enterocolitis
[Dr. Wakefield]
We published a paper in the Lancet in 1998, describing twelve children who presented with both GI symptoms and developmental disorders.5 A follow-up paper confirming this syndrome in sixty children was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.6 Karoly Horvath at the University of Maryland published a paper describing inflammation in the upper GI tract of these children.7 Next, there was a series of papers from our group at the Royal Free Hospital in London characterizing the immunological and histological aberrations in the intestine of these children, starting in the colon and then working progressively through the intestine.8, 9, 10

In characterizing the nature of the inflammatory infiltrate in the intestine, we began asking the question, is this similar to diseases that we have seen before or is it different? If it is similar to something we have seen before, where have we seen it?

Dr. Krigsman and his colleagues from New York University School of Medicine presented their research at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in 2004.11 They described the first 147 cases that they had seen, confirming precisely the same disease that we had first described in the United Kingdom. And then more information came from Dr. Federico Balzola in Italy, who presented at the American Gastroenterological Association in Chicago in 200512 and published a paper in the American Journal of Gastroenterology13 describing exactly the same bowel disease in patients with autism from northern Italy. He performed capsule enteroscopy in these children. For the first time, we could see disease of the small intestine that we hadn't been able to see before with traditional endoscopy:

The Factician said...

Do you really believe that all doctors are honest, altruistic, and know what they are doing?

Not for one second.

The factual answer to that is no they are not.

I agree with you one hundred percent. They are not all honest, altruistic and skilled. But you are demanding that 25,000 scientists and doctors ALL be dishonest and diabolical. This is an equally absurd statement (compared to that they are all angelic and skilled).

Until all doctors ARE honest, altruistic, and know what they are doing, the studies they produce are worthless.

Wrong. We look for consensus. We look for studies that are well designed. It's not a "I believe scientist X" vs "I believe scientist Y". It's "Scientist X's data prove the point, scientist Y had a poorly designed experiment".

Wakefield and Geier aren't inherently untrustworthy. They have designed poor experiments, and their data show it. A first year graduate student can see how poorly designed their experiments are.

How do you tell the good from the bad? You can’t.

I maintain that one can. If it is in an area that you are capable of understanding the experiments, you can evaluate the quality of the experiment. If it is outside your area of expertise, you can look to see if other scientists agree. You can see if their experiments have been replicated. You can look at consensus.

Science doesn't proceed on the back of two or three talented individuals. It proceeds inch by inch on the work done by thousands, and the consensus that they produce.

-Look for a post on this in the next few weeks ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank God people like Galileo and Columbus didn't listen to people like you. The ant colony will go far with workers like you.

The Factician said...

Anonymous,

Please refrain from insulting me here on my blog. I try to maintain a civil discourse here.

Please also visit the quote immediately beneath my blog title. It's rather apt.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is rather apt that scientists are persecuted for years or centuries before their work is truly accepted. Much like martyrdom isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Just for my education, how many replications of Wakefield's work would be needed before it would be acceptable to you?

RFKJr. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Factician said...

No spam, please, Mr. Kennedy.