Stupid is a bad word in my house. Although I have to admit I can have a potty mouth at times, this is the one word that I just don't use, and if I do, you know I'm mad. I have never liked the word for so many reasons, but I'm especially sensitive to it now that I have a child with special needs. So for me to use the word in a post I wrote last week was a big deal. I called it, "Stupid is as Stupid Says" referring to the doctor-speak being used to describe the Hannah Poling reward. Trying to split hairs between whether or not vaccines cause Autism or just result in them is desperation at it's finest. No wait, it's stupid.
I was about to send it off the be published when low and behold, something else that struck me as pretty stupid happened. The Pediatrics journal published a study that's been hanging in the balance for oh, 9 years now, on the day sandwiched between the Poling reward and the release of The Age of Autism book. Talk about a genius marketing move. Not so stupid after all. But their PR campaign was not exactly what I was thinking of when I was speaking of the second stupid thing happening. It was the study they were marketing as more evidence thimerosal doesn't cause Autism that I found pretty stupid.
Over the next several days I tried to wrap my head around what was happening. The same week that the government was awarding an astronomical sum to a little girl for her vaccine injury that "resulted" in "Autism-like symptoms", the government, pharmaceutical industry, and medical community were promoting a study that told us once again vaccines, and specifically thimerosal, have nothing to do with Autism. Even worse, it was another study in the long line of mercury-apology studies that claims mercury is not only safe, but that it is protective against Autism. Sounds pretty stupid to me
Now, admittedly, the study doesn't come out and say, "Hey, guess what? Mercury prevents Autism!", but that is indeed what it implies.
And it is indeed what many other studies on thimerosal have also implied. Like the study from Denmark that showed as thimerosal was drastically reduced, rates of Autism significantly skyrocketed. Or the one from the UK that showed higher exposure to thimerosal was beneficial in 8 of 9 health outcomes assessed, including higher IQ. In fact, of all of the studies done on thimerosal, only 1 claimed that they could find no effect, good or bad, and concluded the study was neutral. And that study was redone multiple times after the initial results showed the highest levels of thimerosal exposure resulted in a much greater chance of getting Autism.
A frequent commenter on Age of Autism pointed out that this is what several mercury-apologists refer to as anomaly. Certainly even they aren't so stupid as to suggest mercury is a health-improving substance, so they have to come up with a way to explain away the stupidity of the finding. Rather than acknowledging the logical conclusion is that the study is flawed or poorly designed to find the answer supposedly being sought, they prefer to call it an "anomaly". An anomaly. Hmmm? According the American Heritage Dictionary, an anomaly is "something unusual, irregular or abnormal; an abnormality". How appropriate a word. Yes, it is unusual for mercury to be good for you. It is unusual, irregular, and abnormal to have evidence that shows receiving more of it via injection is associated with higher IQ's, lower Autism rates, and such.
But wait, it's not just abnormal. It's stupid.
If Phillip Morris published a study that said they found no connection to lung cancer through smoking, and even more, claimed in their study they actually found those who smoked more were LESS likely to get lung cancer, nobody would take them seriously. This is because that finding is not just unusual or abnormal; it's impossible. The same would be true if the CDC did a study on kids exposed to lead and reported that it wasn't associated with learning disabilities, but in fact, appeared to protect kids against them.
Likewise, the same people consider Hanna Poling an anomaly. Supposedly her case was so unique, so rare, that certainly this couldn't have happened to other children. (Heck, they don't even admit it happened to her!) They'd have you believe Hannah was waiting at death's door because of her mitochondrial dysfunction (not the same as mitochondrial disorder) and all the vaccines did was push her closer. One famous nay-sayer even suggested the vaccines were so necessary for her because of her weakened state, implying that of all the kids in the world who should have been vaccinated, it was her. Nice try, but not true. Regardless of how they spin it, Hannah was Autism-free before her vaccines were administered, and afterwards she wasn't. Underlying condition or not, her story is identical to that of thousands of other children. Are we truly supposed to believe she's the one exception? The one child who had mitochondrial dysfunction (that very easily could have been caused by mercury previously injected to her), and there are no others like her?
Hannah Poling is not an anomaly. Thimerosal being good for children isn't either. Perhaps it's time those who would like to think so found a better description for their beliefs. I suggest, stupid.
Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.