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Sloppy science – a perfect example of how the anti-vaccine crowd will listen to anything

Posted Feb 11 2011 2:26pm

Both Age of Autism and David Kirby have recently reported on a new review paper with Age of Autism describing it as ‘pretty interesting’ and David repeating a part of the abstract:

Documented causes of autism include genetic mutations and/or deletions, viral infections, and encephalitis following vaccination.

So, should we all in the skeptic camp be reaching for our humble pie and our knife and fork? Not exactly. Lets take a look at the contents of this paper. Lets start here:

The vaccine organism itself could be a culprit. For example, one hypothesis of the cause of autism is that the pertussis toxin in the DPT vaccine causes a separation of the G-alpha protein from retinoid receptors in genetically at-risk children (Farfel et al., 1999; Megson, 2000). The pertussis toxin creates a chronic autoimmune monocytic infiltration of the gut mucosa lamina propia and may disconnect the G-alpha protein pathways, leaving some G-alphamodulated pathways unopposed. In turn, the non-specific branch of the immune system is turned on and, without retinoid switching, cannot be down regulated.

Wow, blinded with the cool science yet? No, me neither. Go back to line one where it says ‘one hypothesis’. All that follows from that point is mere opinion. There’s no science to back it up.

Another organism of suspect is the live measles virus…

Yeah except its really not. The issues with the Wakefield hypothesis are so many and so thoroughly debunked, it really isn;t worth my time or yours going through them again and again.

There is evidence that Thimerosal (which is 49% ethyl mercury) is indeed harmful. Since the 1930s, Thimerosal has been extensively used as an antibacterial agent in vaccines (Geier et al., 2007). Thimerosal has been implicated as a cause of autism. Not only is every major symptom of autism documented in cases of mercury poisoning but also biological
abnormalities in autism are very similar to the side effects of mercury poisoning itself (Bernard et al., 2001)

Oh dear. Reliance on more thoroughly debunked rubbish in the form of well, anything by the Geier’s and the ridiculous Bernard ‘paper’. I’m happy to go through why these are rubbish but I think I’d be preaching to the converted.

The rest of the paper is a rogues gallery of debunked and fringe science. Helen Ratajczak cites the Geier’s numerous times, DeSoto and Hitlan, Nataf and Rossignol to name but a few. This isn’t a paper so much as an advert for the sort of poor science that was examined in the Autism Omnibus proceedings and roundly rejected by the Special Masters. For goodness sake, she even cites David Ayoub of the Black Helicopter infamy.

When it comes to this paper – handle with extreme caution. Its toxic rubbish.

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