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August 16, 2005


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RFK's also wrong on this point:

"Despite the repeated urgings of independent scientists and the families of autistic children, the federal agencies involved have refused to commission such a study and have closed federal vaccine files in order to derail the creation of those studies by outside scientists."

This is fascinating, because as far as I know the vaccine safety datalink *is* available to outside researchers (through the National Center for Health Statistics) but so far, nobody other than the Geiers have applied. And as I mentioned in a recent post on my blog, if someone wanted to commission studies using MCO (managed care organization) information, they could certainly do so by going directly to the MCO's themselves.

And with that, back to another fun 27 hours of documenting.

"A recent survey by United Press found that autism is virtually unknown among Pennsylvania's large Amish populations -- a strong indication that vaccines are indeed a principal culprit of the epidemic." -- JFK Jr.

Of course! It's so obvious because vaccination is the only factor that differentiates Amish communities from the general population!

Make that "RFK"... silly me.

Mr. Kennedy is being disingenuous when he describes a "...recent survey by United Press". This "survey" was just an informal bit of "asking around" by UPI senior editor Dan Olmsted in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It didn't even reach the statistical significance of a high-school opinion poll. He could have done just as well by doing a telephone survey of Amish families (it's a joke - the Amish don't usually have telephones).

I've spent a little time on my blog debunking Mr. Olmsted's claims - you can read about it here:


Like Skeptico, I find it curious that vaccines have been "isolated" as the most significance difference between the Amish and the "English" (as they describe the rest of us). After all, the Amish don't use computers, eat fast food, drive SUV's, talk on cell phones or watch television. And this is not an exhaustive list of the differences. So, why did vaccinations get the nod as the "reason" that the Amish don't get autism (assuming that they don't)?

Mr. Olmsted has had a long attraction to the mercury-causes-autism hypothesis, so it is not surprising that his investigative focus was prematurely narrowed. Mr. Kennedy, enchanted by the autism-mercury movement as a potential springboard to renewed national prominence, probably doesn't care whether the hypothesis is right or wrong, as long as it gets his name in front of the public. And the autism-mercury movement has long since passed the rational point of no return - they have to move forward or die.

None of these players in the autism-mercury drama has much - if any - interest in finding out if mercury can actually cause autism. They have already decided that their hypothesis is correct, so there is little point - in their minds - to doing any real research.

Likewise, they also see lttle point in exercising any restraint on their rhetoric. Like other religious movements, the autism-mercury movement moves ever forward with the comforting knowledge that they are the recipients of a "revealed truth". Therefore, anything they do - no matter who gets hurt - is justified by the eventual good they will accomplish.


Mr. Kennedy is either lying or is too lazy to check his facts. In his statement:

"the federal agencies involved...have closed federal vaccine files in order to derail the creation of those studies by outside scientists."

he is referring to that oft-quoted canard by the Geiers, David Kirby and a host of others that the Vaccine Safety Datalink database has been "closed". What baloney! (meaning no disrespect to luncheon meat producers)

Take a quick surf over to here:


The Vaccine Safety Datalink database is open for business - except to Geier and Geier, who tried to sneak off with data that would reveal the identities of the patients in the database. That would have been a violation of confidentiality, a violation of several federal laws and is why they have been permanently banned. Everyone else is welcome. Even Robert Kennedy.


Plus, as I mentioned before, even if you didn't want to go through the VSD process, MCO's have their own epidemiologists and statisticians on board. Many of them would be willing to work with an external entity and some would even fund that research.

I know from a reasonably reliable source that nobody other than the Geiers have even applied for access to the VSD. As Ginger mentioned in her reply to my post on epidemiology, they've "moved on" to biological studies. If that's the case, then why worry about access to the VSD at this point?

In this survey with the Amish, are they even using the same standard to define autistic? Since the scope of what is considered autistic has grown over the last 20 years or so, I would guess that they have a more narrow idea of what autism actually is.

For any questions on research and the Amish a person should start here:

Maybe they should look at the individuals with congenital rubella, as there is a link between that and autism and the Amish do not vaccinate, as well as the other factors mentioned in the post.

TO Tim:

The "survey" conducted by Mr. Olmsted didn't use any definition of autism. He simply asked "Are there any autistic Amish people around?". I'm sure that Mr. Olmsted would argue that, since he didn't find any autistic Amish, it is irrelevant what criteria he would have used.

Reading the articles Mr. Olmsted wrote about the absence of autistic Amish, I recall the phrase that is so often thrown out by the autism-mercury movement when challenged on their lack of supporting data:

"An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Sauce for the goose...


I've just discovered, through my network of secret informants, that there are virtually no cross-dressing Amish. I've only scratched the surface of this obvious government cover-up but I will report more in my column next week. I'm in contact with Jerry Springer's people and they are very interested in this story. Stay tuned folks.

I would like to point out that there is evidence for a real cause of autism: mercury emissions from power plants.

"Using statistical modeling, Palmer's team found a 17 percent increase in autism rates for every 1,000 pounds of mercury released.

About 48 tons of mercury are released in the air annually in the United States from hundreds of coal-burning plants. Texas plants release more than those in any other state. "

Exactly. And it is a DIFFERENT kind of mercury, and in larger quanitities.

Yet, there is still a difference between autism and mercury poisoning.

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