Last night on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”, Robert F. Kennedy Junior admitted that he’s not qualified to talk about vaccines or autism:
“It’s not really my area”
… a crestfallen Kennedy admitted to host Jon Stewart. And despite repeated questioning by Stewart, Kennedy would not be drawn on why ABC’s autism special did not support Kennedy’s accusation of a link between autism and mercury in vaccines:
“I’ve no idea what happened”
… he said defensively, the desperation showing in his voice as he sidestepped why ABC did not buy into the scaremongering tactics of a lawyer, but had instead chosen to listen to the qualified scientists on the issue. However, instead of taking immediate steps to quell the panic instigated by his earlier dishonest article in Salon, Kennedy used the rest of the interview to cover his now admitted lack of expertise with some even more hysterical claims, including that 1 in 6 American children had become brain damaged due to vaccines.
Kennedy and his cohorts, many of them sincere, even idealistic, who are participating in efforts to hide the science on thimerosal, claim that they are trying to advance the lofty goal of protecting children in developing nations from autism. They are badly misguided. Now they have at last admitted they are not qualified, they should stop this dishonest campaign.
If Kennedy or any of his supporters were to read the above article and compare the quotes with a full transcript of the interview, they might suggest that I had quote-mined the interview and reproduced those quotes out of context to prove my pre-conceived opinion. They would be right. Now they know how it feels. (And you can see how easy it is.)
In reality Kennedy repeated his usual crap, with a couple of new “facts” thrown in for good measure. Some of the low points:
It was “unnecessary to add (thimerosal) to the vaccines”
Not strictly true. Kennedy selectively chose to ignore the fact that thimerosal was a preservative, and that it actually had a purpose.
“Today, one in every six American children born (between 1989 and 2003) has some degree of neurological disorders”
Of course, no source was given for this statistic; I have no idea if it is true, although I’m skeptical. Kennedy didn’t actually say that 1 in 6 children had neurological disorders because of vaccines, but it was certainly implied given what they were discussing - very seriously dishonest.
There is “very strong science, really overwhelming science linking these autism rates to thimerosal in vaccines”.
What science could this be? Well, it couldn’t be this study that showed no link. Or this one. Or this comprehensive review of the literature. Could he be talking about the kind of flawed research the Geiers produce? Surely not.
“If you actually read the science which most journalists don’t do, the science is overwhelming that there is a link between the autism and the thimerosal.”
(Damn, that’s another irony meter broken.)
“These people have been caught red handed conspiring to hide this information from the American people”.
Actually I’m getting really sick of this crap from Kennedy. He is presumably talking about the Simpsonwood conference which was an honest attempt by scientists to evaluate the science on the subject, not a cover-up as Kennedy claims. Or perhaps he’s talking about the IOM meeting which was another honest attempt to design the parameters of a study to get to the truth, not a cover up as Kennedy also alleged. Either way, Kennedy can’t claim any more that he doesn’t know that the Simpsonwood conference or he IOM conference weren’t conspiracies. He’s just lying.
All in all, it’s depressing that Kennedy can get airtime to present this stuff without the counter-position being made known too.