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It’s time for David Kirby to disavow the autism epidemic

Posted Aug 04 2009 5:51pm

The idea that mercury caused an epidemic of autism is both wrong and very damaging to the autism communities. Many contributed to this damaging notion., but David Kirby without a doubt carries a good quantity of the blame for his book “Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy” and efforts since.

Mr. Kirby often tries to hide behind the notion that he is just “trying to spark a national debate”. Sorry, but that is nonsense. He actively promotes the idea that vaccines cause autism. It is unclear to this reader whether Mr. Kirby is currently being paid for his efforts. In the past he cherry picked information and packaged it in seemingly self-consistent packages to convince people that an epidemic did occur.

He has now moved to a tag-team approach for presentations to the US congress. He presents information to support the idea that vaccines could cause autism. He then let’s Mr. Mark Blaxill take over to promote the epidemic with the old, tired arguments.

It’s like Mr. Kirby still wants to be able to say, “I never really said there was an epidemic. I was just sparking a discussion.” It’s Mark Blaxill that is actually calling it an epidemic.

Nonsense.

This has been bothering me for some time. It came up again strong when Mr. Kirby commented on a blog piece. David Kirby doesn’t generally participate in the online discussions-even to the point of not answering comments on his own blog pieces. He broke that tradition recently in a blog piece on the Mother Jones website: Breaking: Vaccines still don’t cause autism

My response to Mr. Kirby incorporated much of what I was considering for a future blog post. So, rather than paraphrase what I wrote, here it is in full:

Mr. Kirby,

I see your usual arguments above. I see, also, the usual gaps in your discussion. Over the years, you have gone from promoting the “vaccines caused an epidemic of autism” to dancing around the subject of the false “epidemic”, neither stating that there was an epidemic, nor admitting your mistake. Could you comment somewhere, on the record: was there an “epidemic” of autism caused by mercury? You seem to leave that to your colleague, Mr. Blaxill, giving yourself some form of plausible deniability. It is irresponsible.

You rely heavily now on the NVAC recommendations. Why do you leave out so many comments by NVAC?

The NVAC is assured by the many epidemiological studies of the effects of mercury exposure done in a variety of populations, which have demonstrated that thimerosal in vaccines is not associated with autism spectrum disorders in the general population.

Are you prepared to agree with NVAC that the data are in and that there has been no epidemic of mercury caused autism? It would be the honest thing to do.

You rely heavily on the idea that mitochondrial disorders are related to autism. You pushed heavily on your blog the idea that mitochondrial disorders are caused by mercury, without substantiation. In fact, this idea is strongly rejected by the very experts you rely upon.

Further, you leave it implied that children with mitochondrial disorders and autism indicate a link to autism as a vaccine injury. This is clearly not the case.

Why do you leave out the fact that most children with mitochondrial disorders and autism do not show regression. Without regression, it is clear that vaccine injury is not causing autism in these individuals?

Why do you leave out the fact that in the one study of children with mitochondrial disorders and autism, it is clear that vaccines are not causal in the vast majority of cases, and could be questionable in the one case cited so far?

You cite that there could be a sizable population of autistics who have a mitochondrial dysfunction. Yet you leave out the public statements by one of the very doctors who supported the Hannah Poling case in vaccine court that any such injuries are rare. This from the few doctors who support the idea of mitochondrial disorder as a vaccine injury. Other specialists have stated that it is far to early to draw a conclusion that mitochondrial disorders caused by vaccination is even “rare”.

Why have you not removed your blog piece that was so erroneous that you were forced to rewrite it within a day, with an admission that you seriously erred? Isn’t that a form of dishonesty?

Are you prepared to join Rick Rollens, one of the strongest proponents of the vaccines-cause-autism notion, in stating that the idea that MMR causes autism has been tested and MMR is no longer suspect?

I will ask again, if you are going to cite NVAC, are you willing to join them and state that mercury did not cause an “epidemic” of autism?

Would you at least be willing to include quotes from NVAC that are, shall we say inconvenient, to the notion of a vaccine induced “epidemic” of autism? Quotes such as:

Vaccination almost certainly does not account for the recent rise in ASD diagnoses; however, public concern regarding vaccines and autism coupled with the prevalence and severity of ASD warrant additional study in well defined subpopulations.

This quote makes it clear that
a) NVAC does not support the idea of an autism “epidemic” caused by vaccines
b) NVAC is not calling for studies of vaccines and autism due to evidence presented so far, but, instead, by public concern.

Mr. Kirby, your half truths and misleading arguments cause great harm to the autism communities, as well as to public health. You personally are responsible for much of the public’s misconception that mercury caused an “epidemic” of autism. Don’t you agree that you personally should publicly refute your previous stance?

Being wishy-washy on the epidemic question and letting your colleague Mark Blaxill push the idea in your tag-team briefings is just dishonest. Either you still believe in the mercury-caused-epidemic (and you are wrong) or you should be clear that it was a mistake.

It was a mistake. Earn some respect. Admit it.

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