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Monday, December 31, 2007

Comments

Juliette

Hi Liz,
Just ran across your site & we seem to have a lot in common. (Kids w/ Special Needs, Autism link, love to research things/questions that catch my attention, animals/horses, nature & out doors...

Anyway, it sounds like you don't believe there could be a cause/effect relationship between Thimerosal & Autism (as well as many other mood/learning disorders). I believe it can effect different kids, w/ different genetic make-ups, predispositions,uniquely & differently. I can't see how such a deadly toxin could have anything but a negative effect on fetus, infant, growing child.

Have you read this one yet? http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/358/1/93

Do you think they could be considered "experts"?

John Grimm

Hi Liz,

Your observations about Kathleen Seidel and her case in the Vaccine Court show that you are keeping up to date on the issue.
For some reason, I am still a little skeptical of the denial of any mercury/autism link. Does it seem like your zeal to prove the link is a bit strong?

I certainly hope you are right, but I, for one, hold the pharmaceutical industry in a different light.
Thanks, John

Bill

There seems to be no question, though, that the FDA won't be adding heavy metals to the food pyramid any time soon.

Liz D.

I don't "believe" in much having to do with science -- I want to see the evidence. The evidence against a link between vaccine exposure and autism is very, very strong. The evidence for a link between vaccine expsure and autism is virtually non-existent.

See Orac's commentary on the NEJM article and Sallie Bernard's response:



The problem, of course, is that it's quite possible to be calm and rational--and completely wrong. Being "highly educated" is no guarantee that a person understands a specialized area of science outside her area of expertise or that she can self-educate about that science. Indeed, self-education is very difficult, particularly when those helping you to learn have an agenda that goes counter to current scientific understanding. Most don't realize that you have to learn to crawl before you can learn to walk and that you have to learn to walk before you can run. There's a reason it takes so many years of dedicated to master such complex disciplines to the point where it is possible to do credible research or even to understand the research that is done, and even that's not always a guarantee, as the examples of Boyd Haley and Mark and David Geier demonstrate. Indeed, I would never have the hubris to believe that I could teach myself enough particle physics, for example, to argue particle physics with real particle physicists. Why on earth do so many people think that they can teach themselves enough medicine to argue credibly with real medical scientists?

Also see Prometheus, who writes in part::

I don’t want to leave the impression that I am singling out Ms. Bernard as a particularly egregious example of the “arrogance of ignorance” - she is no more than average in this regard. There are people in the mercury-causes-autism movement who are far more arrogant than she. I picked her because her NEJM response is so recent.

So, what can be done to combat the “arrogance of ignorance”? The papers I listed at the beginning of this post give some suggestions. Although not universally seen, education seems to help in a number of situations. Once people learn more about a subject, they begin to develop a grasp of how much they do not know. This should feel familiar to some people reading this ‘blog - myself included: the more you learn about a subject, the more you realize that you don’t know.

[Corollary: If you think you have a complete grasp of a subject, you are probably wrong.]

However, one of the problems that we deal with - especially in autism-related subjects - is the propaganda disseminated by many of the so-called autism advocates. In addition to the vast amounts of speculative, conjectural and often incorrect information these groups put out, they also promote the idea that “mainstream” science and medicine are uninformed, biased, corrupt or even conspiring to hide “the truth”.

I repeat: The evidence against a link between vaccine exposure and autism is very, very strong. The evidence for a link between vaccine expsure and autism is virtually non-existent.

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