Some people simply can't accept reality. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is apparently writing a book that will prove, prove I tell you, that Thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. This is despite all the scientific studies that failed to show a connection, and despite Thimerosal being removed from childhood vaccines in 2001 while autism continues to rise. How does he explain this contradictory evidence? Simple. All the scientists involved are lying. Seriously. Oh yes and one more thing, he’s not going to publish the book. (Huh?)
Let’s back up a bit. Two weeks ago, Phil Plait wrote a Slate article, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Anti-Vaxxer. Apparently Kennedy wasn’t happy and telephoned Slate’s health and science editor Laura Helmuth, to complain. Her article about this call, So Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Called Us to Complain … is worth a read in its entirety. I especially liked the way Helmuth asked Kennedy’s representative to email her with details of the supposed error’s in Phil Plait’s article, and he wouldn’t, preferring instead a phone call. Of course, when you don’t have facts evidence or logic on your side, it is better to avoid responses in writing where those shortfalls can be easily exposed.
Anyway, the short version of what Kennedy told her is:
..thimerosal causes autism when injected into children. Government epidemiologists and other scientists, conspiring with the vaccine industry, have covered up data and lied about vaccine ingredients to hide this fact. Journalists are dupes of this powerful cabal that is intentionally poisoning children.
See? Government scientists are all lying. Scientists in numerous countries, presumably. And they are intentionally poisoning children. Intentionally - they mean to do it! Simple really. That’s that then.
Although Kennedy apparently found one scientist who was honest when talking to him:
[Kennedy] spoke to one scientist (he named her but I won’t spread the defamation) who, he said, “was actually very honest. She said it’s not safe. She said we know it destroys their brains.”
I asked the scientist about their conversation. She said there is in fact no evidence that thimerosal destroys children’s brains, and that she never said that it did.
Maybe Kennedy is the one who is lying.
Anyway, just standard conspiracy mongering so far. But there was one bit that did make me sit up and that was Kennedy bringing up the Simpsonwood conference again. That is, the disgraceful piece of dishonest quote mining that I wrote about eight years ago that was pulled by Salon when they realized they’d been duped. Here is how Kennedy explained that inconvenient fact:
“They [the scientists at the conference] panicked. They had a 3.5-hour discussion about how to hide this from the public, which I published in Rolling Stone and Salon. Salon later pulled it, said it was taken out of context. Read those quotes in [Seth] Mnookin’s book [The Panic Virus : The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy], not even in my article, better yet read the transcripts. [My bold]
There you go. RFK says we should read the transcripts and then we’d understand. Thing is, Bobby, I did read the transcript. All 286 pages of it. And the meeting did not conclude that Thimerosal was responsible for an increase in autism and did not discuss any cover up.
I explained all this in my 2005 article about Simpsonwood: Robert F. Kennedy Junior’s completely dishonest thimerosal article. Here’s the short version. There was a day of presentations of data with much questioning and discussion of the meaning of the results. Then the participants were asked to rate the possibility of a causal link (Thimerosal to autism) on a scale of one to six: one being a weak causal link, six strong. From page 189 to 222 of the transcript (remember, RFK says “better yet read the transcripts”) you can read of one attendee after another (with just one exception) grading the likelihood of a causal relationship as being either a one or a two. There was only one exception (Dr. Weil) who gave it a four. Guess which one Kennedy quoted.
Please do read the transcript as Kennedy urges. I did. There was no discussion about how to hide anything. If Kennedy really did read the transcript, then he is lying when he says it shows a cover up.
Kennedy also called Keith Kloor for another hour long monologue. (Apparently Kennedy likes to talk and not listen. Read Kloor’s description - it sounds like a nightmare.) As I wrote at the top, Kennedy told Kloor he has written a book that shows Thimerosal really does cause autism, and the book contains very strong evidence to support this position. Except Kennedy isn’t going to publish it because it would cause mass panic. Read Kloor’s report of his telephone call with Kennedy: It’s the Best of Times to Scare Yourself to Death:
[Kennedy] told me that the book he commissioned has a chapter “we were going to leave out, because it’s so controversial, but the evidence is so strong that thimerosal causes autism,” that he’s keeping it in.
Why would you consider leaving something out if the evidence supporting your position was strong? Wouldn’t that end the controversy? It makes no sense.
But read what followed:
Yet in the next breath he said he wasn’t going to publish the book (even though it has a publisher and is going through edits right now) because it is so explosive that he doesn’t want it to prompt a mass panic:
So Kennedy has the proof, really he has, and if you saw it you’d agree, except he’s not going show you. But read the Simpsonwood transcript and that’ll show the cover up. Except it doesn’t.
Incidentally Kennedy phoned Kloor in response to an article he had written recently, Is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Anti-Science? (Duh - clearly yes.) See the unhinged anti-vax comments to that post. I debated briefly with one excitable person posting as Joe Harris - read the veritable Gish Gallop of anti-vax fallacies and talking points. For example, Poul Thorsen means that dozens of scientific studies are wrong. Just Poul Thorsen’s name, all by itself. Except all it actually shows is that RFK was as clueless in 2010 as he was in 2005, and as he is now. Nothing changes.