Today, Generation Rescue paid for another full-page ad in a national publication. In this case, it was USA Today.
This occasion prompted me to spend a few moments reflecting on the meandering path that GR has taken since its inception in 2005. To help the new reader digest some of the gaffes and self-contradictions that litter the snail-trail left by GR, I have assembled a timeline of events. For those familiar with the events described here, please feel free to add your own points to the timeline.
February 2005 J.B. Handley appears on a local NBC show and declares that
"There is no such thing as autism. Autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning."
This is the moment when J.B.'s public reputation became directly tied to the outcome of chelation therapy performed on his son. A big burden for any son, to be sure. Also, imagine the shock felt by thousands upon thousands of autistic adults all over the world to find out that they simply had mercury poisoning!
June 2005 The Handleys launch the initial version of the Generation Rescue website. Thanks to the Wayback Machine, we can see how the site was worded at that time. Specifically:
"Generation Rescue believes that childhood neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger's, ADHD/ADD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder, and many other developmental delays are all misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning." (emphasis mine)
The website also prominently features a quote from Dr. Rashid Buttar. Yes, that Rashid Buttar.
April 2007 The Q1 2007 CDDS numbers are released (brief analysis here ), and the reported caseload of autistic people in California continued to rise. This was yet another devastating blow to the mercury/autism hypothesis. When considered in the additional light of the incredible number of advances made in understanding the genetic basis of autism, how could one continue to proclaim this?:
"There is no evidence to suggest that autism is genetic. No autism gene has ever been found and the search will be endless – how can you have a gene for a mythical condition? Autism is mercury poisoning." - J.B. Handley
April 2007 The "new" Generation Rescue Website is launched with great fanfare! There is plenty of excited buzz in places like the Evidence of Harm Yahoo! Group and the household of Katie Wright. Yes, that Katie Wright. But ... wait! Where is the "autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning" statement? Its missing. Instead, they changed their story!
Now, apparently autism is not a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning. Instead, :
"The cause of this epidemic of NDs is extremely controversial. We believe the primary causes include the tripling of vaccines given to children in the last 15 years (mercury, aluminum and live viruses); maternal toxic load and prenatal vaccines; heavy metals like mercury in our air, water, and food; and the overuse of antibiotics."
February 2008 J.B. Handley, in his typical gentlemanly style, tells respected autism researcher Nancy Minshew "Tough shit" in response to her request that he keep an email correspondence between her and a parent of an autistic child private. The email in question was not damning in any way - I guess Dr. Minshew is simply used to a bit more decorum than is practiced by people like J.B.
Februrary 2008 Generation Rescue decides to throw good money after bad, and pulls another full page ad in USA Today. Of course, their intention must be to continue the message established by the re-work of their website in April 2007, right? Or, after numerous new studies being published that further discount vaccines in general or thimerosal in particular over the last few months, did they change the message again? Yes, they did. This time:
Wow. Combined with their earlier change of causation theory, one must now consider thimerosal, aluminum, formaldehyde, ether, antifreeze, tripling of vaccines, live viruses, prenatal vaccines, maternal toxic load, mercury in air, water, food, and overuse of antibiotics. That's quite a list! And, coupled with the staunch position that genetics have absolutely no role in autism, I think JB and GR have their work cut out for them in figuring out just how all of these myriad factors (13 at last count) interplay in causing autism!
I also think it must be mentioned that in this ad, whether intentional or not, GR indirectly asks the reader to discount the credibility of the CDC and AMA, while simultaneously ceding credibility to Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey. Oh ... my ... gosh.
Call me crazy, but I'm not thinking that Generation Rescue is a credible resource for knowledge about autism causation. Oh wait, I changed my mind about that. Oh, but I just changed it again. And again.............. ad nauseum.