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Olbermann caves to anti-vaccine lobby

February 12th, 2009 · 51 Comments · Careless sourcing

It happens to the best of them. Keith Olbermann, my hero, the heir apparent to Edward R. Murrow,  and the only reason left to watch cable TV, has been played by the anti-vaccine lobby.

A few nights ago, Olbermann called much-needed attention to the UK physician who kicked off the decade-long wave of mass hysteria known as the anti-vaccine movement. During the Countdown segment, Andrew Wakefield, or “Wakers” to his diminishing fan base,  was named The Worst Person in the World.

Anti-vaccine activists went on quicksilver alert, and besieged MSNBC with emails, faxes, phone calls and much  gnashing of teeth. Olbermann caved, or rather bent over and grabbed his ankles. It could have been a phone call from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Arriana Huffington, or any number of dwarf stars in the anti-vaccine firmament. Whatever. Olbermann was pwned by the same barking loons who think the Amish don’t vaccinate, and that measles leads to all-you-can-eat ice cream binges. Without evidence or cause, Olbermann repeated vaccine rejectionist talking points, and unfairly attacked the journalist who exposed Wakefield’s malfeasance.

Watch it here:

Brian Deer, the freelance investigative journalist whose reporting helped bring Wakefield to justice, is guilty of – investigative journalism. Or, as Olbermann puts it:

The Times of London did not bother to mention that the British investigation into whether or not Wakefield did that was the result of a complaint by… Brian Deer.

The guy who wrote the article about the investigation never mentioned he was the complainant who precipitated the investigation.

The word “complaint” needs to be unpacked. In an administration-speak, a “complaint” is a formal action, documented, and assigned to a party. But Olbermann conflates the dry, boring definition of complaint with the vernacular, which is “an expression of displeasure”. Deer’s reporting is a complaint, but only if you stand way back and squint your eyes, imagine how documenting the activity of an out-of-control doctor might trigger an expression of displeasure, which in turn sets off waves of hand-wringing in the British medical establishment, thus resulting in the filing of a formal complaint. In this case, the complaint was brought by the General Medical Council with the encouragement of … Andrew Wakefield!

IN February 2004, after a Sunday Times investigation, Wakefield declared that he would welcome an inquiry as an opportunity to clear his name.

In fact, he insisted on an investigation!

Dr Wakefield said that he would insist on a full GMC inquiry after it was suggested by John Reid, the Health Secretary, on Friday.

And if MSNBC can tolerate facts, Deer has proof that he is not “a complainant”:

I have a letter from the GMC’s lawyers, which was also supplied to Wakefield, stating that I am not the complainant, but that I am an “informant”, like, say, a health authority.

Yet according to Olbermann, Deer is guilty of “a vast conflict of interest”.

The truth about the doctor’s research may be in doubt here, but not Deer’s vast conflict of interest nor the Times of London’s journalistic malfeasance. The paper is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and it’s my bad for forgetting his new motto: “We have never been a company that tolerates facts.”

To recap:

Brian Deer, an investigative reporter, wrote about Wakefield’s shady research and obvious conflicts of interest.

Wakefield invited, nay,  insisted upon a full investigation of the allegations outlined in Deer’s articles.

The UK medical board obliged Wakefield by filing a formal complaint and commencing the investigation for which Wakefield longed.

Deer continued to investigate and report the story.

That Keith Olbermann was lured and skewered by a mendacious vaccine rejectionist press release speaks to Rovian levels of media manipulation. “Olbermann’s team fell for it hook, line, and sinker,” notes Orac, to continue the fishing metaphor. “Nor did they consider that the U.K. has some of the most plaintiff-friendly libel laws in the world, so much so that some plaintiffs indulge in libel tourism there. If Deer’s reporting was not true, he would have been at serious risk of being sued and losing.”

Keith, I love ya man, but you really screwed the pooch this time.

This is far from over. Keith’s enemies in the right wing news and entertainment media are legion, and now he’s open  to serious and valid criticism. If this latest skirmish in the autism wars results in a ratcheting up of coverage, Olbermann may be forced to retract once again, or bury his head and wait for the dust to settle.

Good night and good luck with that one.


Brain Deer’s response to Olbermann can be seen at Orac’s blog. The money quote:

You were apparently supplied with your baseless allegations by a New York-based freelance journalist, David Kirby, who has made substantial sums of money through attacking childhood vaccines, and who is an advisor to Wakefield. Extraordinarily, you even supplied Kirby with a copy of the script of your attack on me, prior to broadcast, and thus appear to have acted in cahoots with him.  Kirby was sufficiently motivated, and stupid, to publish your script on a website before the item was aired.

Your defamation of me has been taken up by others, and you are plainly responsible for this.  You have no possible defence, since your claims are simply false.  They were fabricated and placed with you by antivaccine campaigners and cranks. You can argue no privilege or free speech right to make such false allegations, not least since you published them with complete disregard for their truth or falsity. NBC’s lawyers will no doubt explain to you the particular difficulties of such conduct in the UK jurisdiction.

Grab some popcorn. This is going to be good.



51 responses so far ↓

  • 1 _Arthur // Feb 12, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Yes, a journalist uncovering a medical scandal, and maintaining detailed coverage, is not a “conflict of interest” in any way, shape, or form.

    Deer had also been the target of a slander lawsuit by Wakefield. This lawsuit is over, Wakefield being unable to provide evidence.

    There again, no conflict of interest.

  • 2 autblog // Feb 12, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I forgot about the slander lawsuit. Didn’t Wakefield drop that when Channel 4 threatened discovery?

  • 3 history // Feb 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Wrong. Olerbamnn was not dupe by anti- vacine people. He just realized he was not telling the truth about something. I looked at that website. Deer offered no proof just defining himself because he knew he was possible lying. I know that when the only blogs that are complaining about this are right wing I know KO is telling the truth and had nothing to retract or apologize for.

  • 4 Leila // Feb 12, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    I watched the show last night and got really confused about the reason why Deer had any conflict of interest in the investigation, and why the paper being owned by Murdoch had ANYTHING to do with the quality of his reporting. I hate Fox News as much as the next person, but come on, we can’t extend that TV channel’s bias to all media owned by the same guy. Olbermann must have been pressured by Bob Wright to do that one…

  • 5 Joseph // Feb 12, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Deer offered no proof just defining himself because he knew he was possible lying.

    @history: Let me Google that for you.

    News archive search of “reid wakefield gmc” (2004-2005)

  • 6 history // Feb 12, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I looked at that and still does not show that KO is lying. Olerbmann said if you were paying attention to countdown Janet that the evidence is in doubt. He was attacking the time person on he was plaintiff or complaint in the suit brought against Wakfeild. So again were did Olbermann lie.

  • 7 Justthisguy // Feb 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Olbermann also seems to think that Mr. Obama is a good choice for President. He’s wrong about that, too.

    Hey, don’t blame me! I voted for Sarah, and that old guy, whatshisname!

    Owhell, I’m gonna lie down with my copy of “Albion’s Seed” open on my chest; it’s nice and heavy, almost as good as a weighted vest.

  • 8 Joseph // Feb 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    “He was attacking the time person on he was plaintiff or complaint in the suit brought against Wakfeild. So again were did Olbermann lie.”

    I can see you’re not familiar with the background of this thing. He was attacking Brian Deer, who is NOT the complainant or plaintiff in the GMC hearing.

    It appears that David Kirby outright lied to Olbermann, and Olbermann bought it. Now Brian Deer has a very good basis to sue MSNBC in the UK jurisdiction. Brian Deer will easily win that.

  • 9 _Arthur // Feb 12, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I don’t expect Brian Deer to ever sue Olbermann.

    I think Olbermann is honest enough to acknowledge he was misinformed by one David Kirby, the author of “Evidence of Harm”.

  • 10 history // Feb 12, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    joseph I just told you guys that Olbermann was not defending the evidence that autism and vaccines are related. i do not believe that either just like you and Olbermann. He was still skeptical and thought Wakfeild was wrong on that front. Even Derby was saying as much. Maybe you did not listen. Also Joseph that defense that Deer put up was weak. Reading that showed me that this person has something to hide. Ocar looses credibility with me when he tries to compare Olbermann with Limbaugh. Olbermann just last night was apologizing for something that he did wrong. When has limbugh apologized for any of his lies. So again were did KO lie. If he apologizes it just proves how much of journalist and how much integrity he has.

  • 11 history // Feb 12, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Joseph If what you said were the case that is more proof as to why Deer deserved worse person. Reporters should not be writing a piece about the thing that they are involved does not matter if you are plaintiff or defendant. This is a conflict of interest and goes against the ethics of journalism and stuff like this makes Olbermann got angry at Deer about. If Olbermann Deer sued KO he would be laughed out of court because Olbermann did not defame his character. Again use common sense before you start saying something you will regret. should have kept Wakfeild up there and problem would be solved. Because this is a he said she said kind of conflict. So agan show me were Olbermann lied.

  • 12 history // Feb 12, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Authur You are proving my point. It does not matter if the suit is bogus. Deer was part of a suit and if he wrote that story as you claim as being part of that suit and did not report that he was part of that suit than he broke the code of ethical journalism. Does not matter if the information is he is presenting is truthful or not because their is a conflict of interest and easy for your critics to attack you and for your piece not to have credit. Olbermann knew this and called him out on it, so again where is the lie. Olbermann can argue this in court and he would win. This was why Deer got worse person.

  • 13 _Arthur // Feb 12, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    But, History, Brian Deer is NOT currently in a lawsuit against Andrew Wakefield, as Kirby told Olberman.

    Defamation lawsuits are routinlely threatened or launched to silence critics. Several blogs or blog posters have been sued in the obviou purpose of silencing them. I personally have been harassed by a —– who sued 200 John Does, and then added to the lawsuit anyone who dared argue with him.

    Covering any subject for a journalist would become impossible if they had to cease coverage because of past –unfounded– defamation lawsuits.

    Brian Deer has been sued for slander by Dr. Wakefield and he won. He is now continuing his coverage of Dr. Wakefield numerous malpractices.

    The Wakefield scandal is not a single scandal, it is several dozens of scandals inter-related, and Brian Deer intends to expose them all.

  • 14 autblog // Feb 12, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    History, Deer is not a participant in the GMC case against Wakefield. Olbermann called Deer a complainant. That is not true. Deer did not file the complaint. Deer’s investigative reporting may have provided information that was later used by the GMC, but that does not make Deer a party to the case. Would you expect Woodward and Bernstein to stop writing about Nixon once the impeachment proceedings began? That’s exactly what you’re suggesting they should have done.

  • 15 history // Feb 12, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Your guys are not getting it. It does not matter if this guy was part of the this suit or not. By telling me that he got sued by Wakfeild he is a apart of the story and has a conflict of interest. Which was Olbermann’s point and the reason for him as worst person. Deer needed to put that had a conflict of interest and then he would not have been named worst person. So again were did Olbermann lied. Even a judge will tell you this. The fact he got sued how bogus is a conflict of interest. Theses are the facts

  • 16 HCN // Feb 12, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    history said “Your guys are not getting it.”

    My irony meter just exploded.

    You obviously have no clue as to what the actual history (or “histroy”) of this matter of Wakefield/MMR/autism/Deer. You are just a little fanboy who is upset that someone dared to criticize this Olbermann guy.

    Read the summary:

    You will learn that Wakefield attempted to sue Deer for libel for his first set of reports. The outcome was that Wakefield had to have it dismissed and pay the court costs. End of story.

    When you are done, go and read Mr. Deer’s other stories on Vioxx, VaxGen, etc. that are accessible from his main page. You see, Mr. Deer is a real investigative journalist, not a television talking head like Olbermann, nor a paid public relations hack like both David Kirby and Dan Olmsted.

  • 17 autblog // Feb 12, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    History, you keep asking whrere Olbermann lied, and we keep telling you.

    Olbermann said…
    That Brian Deer
    Is a complainant…
    In the case against Wakefield.


    Brian Deer is not..
    A complainant…
    In the case against Wakefield.


    If all it took to discourage an investigative reporter was to file a frivolous defamation suit, well, you fill in the rest.

  • 18 history // Feb 12, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    You guys are telling me that i am not getting it why you are embarsing yourselves. First i do not mind criticsm of Olbermann when warented so you can forget that. You keep showing me why Keith was not lying. Getting sued is being involved. Someone even at Hughington Post in defending this guy said that he brought information to people that were investigating Wakefeild. This is a conflict of interest that Olbermann was talking about. So again were is the lie. You are like the Orac guy going on gut reaction.

  • 19 history // Feb 12, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    I looked at that source you out up. This is his website so it does not count, because of course it will be biased to what he is saying. Hello! This guy no matter how you put it had a conflict of interest in this case. As I said before we may never know the truth about what actually happened because it is Deer’s word against Wakfeild’s and both seem shady. Also about lawsuits. Fox won a case saying it told the truth when it obverse that it does not. So I would be careful when I mention. This guy even though he was probably right had a conflict of interest and that is what olbermann made him as worse person. So again i said were did he lie.

  • 20 _Arthur // Feb 12, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    History, it is NOT weighting Deer word against Wakefield. The outcome of the bogus libel lawsuit is a matter of public record.

    In the ethics inquiry case, Brian Deer is a _possible witness_, because of him breaking the story. That doesn’t disqualifies him from further reporting.
    And he’s not obligated to put disclaimers everytime he covers the story, no matter what you appear to think.

    David Kirby is the one who should have a 3-paragraphs disclaimer everytime he broach the subject of autism.

  • 21 Alan Foos // Feb 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I’ve plenty of research of my own, and Wakefield is correct ( I’m 60yoa, BA, MSs, 8yrs univ biology/chem/math, high gpa, research with statistical design. Oservations of family members and med records provide 100% scientific certainty that autism and many other disorders, however diagnosed, are caused (roughly 90%, but not 100%) by vaccines and/or amalgams, or rather the mercury (MOSTLY, but also other) toxins in them. Few are properly diagnosed, or morbidity overlooked due to the large number of uncontrolled variables and lack of profit in real medicine. Claims that vaccines ae effective are based on heavily biased studies and coincidental correlations w/o support for cause and effect, aka lies. For those affected by the vaccines, your lives may well become the living, unending, unexplained hell, though my dad was spared when he dropped dead at 38. Do you really think it’s just autism or only 1/150? Don’t you thnk the joker laughs at YOU? You may find the statistical theorem I wrote for spoofing bias in statistical designs to sharpen your scientific / academic wit, the most significant result of my scientific career after being fired for refusing to embezzle money in the gov under dire threat. Click on the button, Randomized Block, at Obermann is still a hero, thank you!

  • 22 _Arthur // Feb 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    You have a B.A. in botany and your observation of your close family members have convinced you of a 100% occurence of an unsound mind ?

    You have me convinced.

    How much mercury does the MMR vaccine contain?

  • 23 anonimouse // Feb 12, 2009 at 9:57 pm


    The sure sign somebody has no clue what they’re talking about is when they start their post by discussing their alleged credentials. To suggest your post made no sense would be an insult to posts that make no sense.


    Making the same point over and over again will not make it true. Just because Andrew Wakefield sued Brian Deer for defamation (a lawsuit later dropped) does not mean that a conflict of interest exists. Olbermann also suggested that Deer was reporting on his own complaint against Wakefield to the GMC, which is fundamentally false.

    Therefore, Olbermann lied. End of story. And stop spamming the comments section with your tired, one-note rebuttal. Thank you.

  • 24 _Arthur // Feb 12, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Fools, stating that Wakefield conclusions are “scientifically accurate” no matter that they are based on false data, and stating that any other research whatsoever is “not good science” is also unsound.

  • 25 HCN // Feb 12, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    History said “You guys are telling me that i am not getting it why you are embarsing yourselves.”

    You owe me another irony meter. There is this cool bit you can get on web browsers, it is called a “spell checker”.

    … and then History continued (who knows why?): “.Someone even at Hughington Post in defending this guy said that he brought information to people that were investigating Wakefeild. ”

    Quoting Huffington Post (also known as HuffPo) is not going to win you any points. That “someone” was David Kirby, who has been the subject of derision on this blog more than once. He is just a public relations hack for Generation Rescue. They claim he wrote for the “New York Times”, but failed to mention he was a free lance writer who had a few travel articles published by the NY Times (his “mercury plumes” from China are classic!).

    Speaking of Generation Rescue talking points, here we have Mr. “cut and paste” Alan Foos, who is telling us all about the dangerous mercury in the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine has never ever contained thimerosal, nor aluminum… ever. Not even when it was first introduced in 1971.

    Okay, I believe you once went to college and graduated somewhere around 1970. Why was it so difficult for you to find out that the MMR is stored as a dry powder, and then mixed with sterile water and used within eight hours?

  • 26 autblog // Feb 13, 2009 at 5:46 am

    History, I see you’re from the Austin area. Are you a victim of Thoughtful House, or CARE Clinics by any chance?

  • 27 Clay // Feb 13, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    From Alan Foos’ site:

    “Mercury is solely the cause of sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS, autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD), multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic fatigue syndrome, restless leg syndrome, “bipolar” disorder, “schizophrenia,” diverticulitis, and many other disorders. It is the likely cause of most palsies, muscular disorders, particularly cranial nerve and eye disorders, nosebleeds, sinusitis, Meniere’s disease, particularly cysts and cancers of glandular organs and a multitude of other disorders. Please click the page link at left for Hg SYMPTOMS, and then take your time reading the other links in the static frame at left.

    Allow me to introduce myself as Cusanus, a pseudonym.”

    Whew! You’re blaming all that on mercury? And you claim to be educated as well? Was that a typo up there, and you meant to write “Pus anus”? Sorry for the ad hom, but you’re a freakin’ idiot!

  • 28 Clay // Feb 13, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I usually agree with Olbermann, but I don’t much like his style. He often uses this dramatic “big radio announcer’s” voice, which I find as irritating in him as I do with Limbaugh. I much prefer Rachel Maddow, who does interesting and informative interviews, and Always uses humor to make her points. Works for me!

  • 29 autblog // Feb 13, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I agree. Maddow is a class act.

  • 30 Prometheus // Feb 17, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Mr. Foos presents his CV:

    “I’m 60yoa, BA, MSs, 8yrs univ biology/chem/math, high gpa, research with statistical design.”

    He then goes on to say:

    ” Oservations of family members and med records provide 100% scientific certainty that autism and many other disorders, however diagnosed, are caused (roughly 90%, but not 100%) by vaccines and/or amalgams, or rather the mercury (MOSTLY, but also other) toxins in them. “

    Mr. Foos, if you remembered anything from your classes in statistics, you would recall that “100% scientific certainty” is like the “Tooth Fairy” – a complete fantasy.

    If you were able to read and comprehend the published studies on autism and vaccines, you would see that the overwhelming preponderance of the data supports the hypothesis that vaccines do not significantly contribute to autism.

    Since you have reached “100% scientific certainty”, perhaps you are privy to data that has not yet been published? If so, please share it with us – details please, not just your summary.

    Or are you just another in a long, long series of tiresome cranks who don’t understand science (despite possibly having a degree in “science”) and see the lack of data supporting their position as “proof positive” of a “massive Big Pharma / government / AMA conspiracy to hide The Truth”?

    My mind is open to new data, but not to old crackpot “theories”. Please tell me you’re not just another crank.


  • 31 Chris // Feb 17, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Prometheus said “Or are you just another in a long, long series of tiresome cranks who don’t understand science (despite possibly having a degree in “science”)”

    A simple google search shows that Mr. Foos is also a physics crank. He has a website where he has some kind of challenge to Einstein with his “Randomized Block Theorem.”

  • 32 Prometheus // Feb 17, 2009 at 5:30 pm


    Oh, well. I guess my hope got ahead of my common sense.

    I keep asking for the people who have “all the answers” to show me their data, but all I get are testimonials. I’ll just have to keep my chin up and my mind open.


  • 33 Alan Foos // Feb 26, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    To HCN, the FDA says there’s no mercury in the MMR, and you believe it? No wonder you can’t add, the content of recent vaccs has been reduced to “trace,” but you wouldn’t be able to figure out what trace means – still highly toxic, punk. And, yes, not that other sources of Hg and toxins do not contribute, but three sig digits has always been good enough for standard research, and that is for all practical purposes 100% – look up the symptoms for chronic Hg poisoning. As for the physics, not only has that particular issue been raised by many prominent scientists, but the corrections I made were confirmed a few months later by data from the space lab and Pasadena. Read it, if you can. Don’t quite your day jobs, fellas…

  • 34 Alan Foos // Feb 26, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    sorry, “quite your day jobs,” typo there; do NOT quit your day jobs…”

  • 35 Alan Foos // Feb 26, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    “You have a B.A. in botany and your observation of your close family members have convinced you of a 100% occurence of an unsound mind ?” – et al comments…?? this is what I said, (100% scientific certainty that autism and many other disorders, however diagnosed, are caused (roughly 90%, but not 100%) by vaccines and/or amalgams, or rather the mercury (MOSTLY, but also other) toxins in them.) — if you have never had an advanced course in statistics covering randomized block designs, you cannot make an intelligent comment on any of these things… good God, no wonder the med industry is getting away with murder… and you say you’re not suffering from mercury poisoning? Good boy, here’s another paycheck…

  • 36 Alan Foos // Feb 26, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    I can’t resist, I’m laughing to death here. Okay, let’s say it together, define trace… “The number of brain cells held in common after 100% belief in Uncle Scam’s press release that MMR vaccine has 0% mercury…” And now tell me this, Einstein, if the real Einstein wasn’t a phony, then how is it that my paper properly noted that at a sufficient number of significant digits the measurements would be larger than he predicted, and the same was confirmed by the Space Lab at Pasadena a few months later? I’d say thats pretty good for a crackpot… God help us all… if I don’t quit this and go shopping I really am gonna fade away….

  • 37 Alan Foos // Feb 26, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    or can we handle a little cut and paste, here? “An evidence-based resource for journalists.” You fellas aren’t for real, are you…. ?

  • 38 Alan Foos // Feb 26, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    I happened to notice that link at the top, “ABOUT” isn’t there – – try it, so, uh, I guess this is all ABOUT NOTHING, or do you want to do something other than shoot off your mouths…

  • 39 Alan Foos // Feb 26, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Try this…
    February 19, 2009 by childhealthsafety

    The position of John Witherow, Chief Editor of the internationally published British broadsheet newspaper The Sunday Times, London is looking untenable in the escalating row over freelance journalist, Brian Deer’s now shown-to-be- false Sunday Times’ story alleging former London Royal Free Hospital surgeon and gastroenterology specialist Mr Andrew Wakefield “fixed” data in a Lancet medical journal paper to show a link between the MMR vaccine, autism and serious bowel disorders in children: MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism” – Brian Deer, The Sunday Times, London – February 8, 2009. The Sunday Times’ story was improbable and shown to be false: Sunday Times Journalist Made Up Wakefield MMR Data Fixing Allegation .

  • 40 Claus-Peter Kessler MD // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:16 am

    All those generalizations don’t make any sense to me. We know, that all patients sensible to mercury have apolipoprotein E2-4. A study has to be done to prove, that autistic or MS or other symptoms, we connect with Hg, of patients, realy have this bloodtype. Then we can conclude, that thiomersal in MMR vaccines are deteriorating for those patients and that the connection of the “viral information” plus the mercury sensitivity and in those cases acute toxicity, because the dose is so high will end up in autism or enhance other genetic weaknesses.

  • 41 Alan Foos // Feb 27, 2009 at 4:25 am

    “According to this site at the US Food & Drug Administration the MMR is mercury-free. Don’t know your source claiming it’s not. R.K. ”
    Not hard to find… “However, mercury is STILL used in the manufacturing process (always has for MMR), and leaves TRACE amounts in the final product (so yes, MMR does have trace amounts of mercury, but it was never used as a preservative in MMR), but these amounts they consider to be insignificant. Which is what they said about the original amounts. “

  • 42 Alan Foos // Feb 27, 2009 at 4:29 am

    “The sure sign somebody has no clue what they’re talking about is when they start their post by discussing their alleged credentials. ”

    Well, that one sure got shot down, didn’t it? The surest way to know that someone doesn’t know their ass end from a hole in the ground is to read these posts. Anyone here have any graduate work in biology/chemistry/statistics? Obviously, not. What a bunch of frauds. Okay, but, no I’ve spent my dues in front of a gov PhD being paid $300/hr to explain statistics insisting that a 66.7% (three digits, morons) coincides with a standard deviation. True enough, I’m not interesting in bantering with PhDs who haven’t gotten through stats 101 but still got a job with the gov.

  • 43 Alan Foos // Feb 27, 2009 at 5:10 am

    “Last week, Banks’ parents were awarded a lump sum of more than $810,000 plus medical-care compensation by the vaccine court, where Special Master Abell ruled that Petitioners had proven that the MMR had directly caused a brain inflammation illness called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) which triggered young Banks’ autism spectrum disorder” —> Okay, Einstein, then exactly what was it in the MMR vaccine that caused the autism per the court’s decision… ??

  • 44 Chris // Feb 27, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Dr. Kessler said ” Then we can conclude, that thiomersal in MMR vaccines are deteriorating for those patients and that the connection of the “viral information” plus the mercury sensitivity and in those cases acute toxicity, because the dose is so high will end up in autism or enhance other genetic weaknesses.”

    A big hint that you do not have a clue is the phrase “thimerosal in the MMR”. The MMR has never contained thimerosal, even when it was introduced in 1971.

    Do try to do a modicum of research before pontificating with such idiocy. That fact can be easily found.

    Mr. Foos, you are a crank, and do not even deserve the effort to type this basic sentence.

  • 45 Prometheus // Feb 27, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Alan Foos asks:

    “Anyone here have any graduate work in biology/chemistry/statistics?”

    I do.

    I’m sincerely sorry that Mr. Foos has “…spent [sic] my dues in front of a gov PhD being paid $300/hr to explain statistics insisting that a 66.7% (three digits, morons) coincides with a standard deviation.” How tragic for him. I wonder if it wold have hurt less if he were paid less.

    Still, despite knowing that the range described by the mean plus and minus one standard deviation contains 68.2% of the members of a normally distributed population (oops, I think Mr. Foos said “66.7%”, didn’t he – how embarrassing for him), Mr. Foos remains uninformed about even more basic statistical matters, such as the possibility of “100% scientific certainty”.

    The only “100% certainty” is in faith (e.g. religion), not science. In science, we must always be aware that new data can change todays “true” into tomorrow’s “false”.

    As for the MMR vaccine and thimerosal, it never had it.

    And the reason? Thimerosal was added to vaccines to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi – it does this by forming disulfide bridges and by its oxidative power. Thimerosal – and other forms of mercury – is quite effective at inactivating viruses, including those that cause measles, mumps and rubella (and their attenutated vaccine strains).

    Adding thimerosal to a live-virus vaccine like the MMR would have converted it to an ineffective (because of the low antigen concentration) dead-virus vaccine.

    Now, there are certainly traces of mercury in the MMR vaccine. There are traces of mercury in just about everything on this planet, including “organic” fruits and vegetables. It’s a ubiquitous element released into the atmosphere by a wide variety of human and “natural” processes. Given the ease of detecting infinitesimal amounts of mercury, I would conclude that anyone failing to find trace amounts of mercury in the MMR vaccine (or anything else that contains water) was using poor analytical technique.

    If “trace” amounts of mercury cause autism, why is the autism prevalence – as reported by educational and social services sources – not decreasing? Not only has the amount of mercury in children’s vaccines been drastically reduced, the global deposition of mercury (as measured by a number of studies) has been dropping since at least the early 1980’s.

    In fact, if one is to insist that mercury has to be implicated in the current “epidemic” of autism reported by the above-mentioned sources, the most logical conclusion is that the decrease in mercury exposure – from the environment and from vaccines – has led to an increase in autism.

    Of course, this is counter-intuitive, but then, so much good science is counter-intuitive. Fortunately, other (better) data suggest that mercury – especially in the form of thimerosal in vaccines – has nothing to do with autism.


  • 46 Melissa // Mar 11, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Mercury in food? I’ll have to watch out for that. The autism guide I have been using is Nourishing Hope for Autism, which is an outstanding guide for parents and practitioners, filled with practical and scientific information to support any effort to restore health using a biomedical and nutritional approach.

  • 47 Chris // Mar 11, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Spammin’ Melissa, you don’t get it:

    The mercury comes from the environment. It is in the soil, the air and the water. This is especially true if you live where there are active volcanoes, like in the Pacific Northwest.

    Your silly website trying to cash in on the fears of desperate parents will not avoid that reality. Remember, being a DAN! doctor means that you are in that infamous group that let in Roy Kerry after he killed a kid.

  • 48 Prometheus // Mar 15, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Melissa the Spam-Bot says:

    “Mercury in food? I’ll have to watch out for that.”

    You DO that, Melissa-bot. And while you’re at it, watch out for mercury in the air and water. About the only way to avoid mercury on this planet is to stop eating, drinking and breathing.

    At least THAT way you won’t have to worry about dying from mercury poisoning (you’ll die from asphyxia LONG before that).

    Even if we completely stopped using mercury in our manufacturing processes, the amount of mercury being released from volcanic vents, hot springs, undersea hydrothermal vents and weathering of mercury-containing rocks is CURRENTLY about one-half to one-third (estimates vary) the amount of mercury released by human activities (fossil fuel burning – esp coal – and manufacturing).


  • 49 Elaine DeLack // Mar 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    As you are very well aware, the prevalence of children being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder is increasing at an alarming rate. We would appreciate your assistance in helping us try to identify if the use of epidural analgesia/anesthesia and Pitocin during childbirth have any association with the development of autism.

    If you are willing to participate in a survey questionnaire, please email Elaine DeLack, RN at [email protected] and the questionnaire will be emailed to you for your completion.

    Thank you in advance for your participation in this research.

  • 50 Chris // Mar 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Epic fail, Elaine!

    Elaine DeLack spamming her silly study has already been told that the increase in diagnosis is not necessarily an increase in autism:

    And that the collection of anecdotes this way is a bad way to get data. It is a self-selected survey relying on old memories.

    Let me repeat:
    Elaine, I suggest you go back to school and learn about basic research randomization. Basically it means that self-selected surveys are stupid. Sorry, but that is reality.

    What you need to do is to go back and search the medical records (with basic permissions that a real researcher would need) to check to see if there were a certain number of autistic children born with epidurals versus those who did not have epidurals (like mine)… compared to the number of neurotypical children born with epidurals versus those without epidurals (whoa… like my younger two kids… OMG —- I have three kids, and never had an epidural!).

    Anyway, those databases are available in many HMOs. These are available to real researchers and have been used for several epidemiological studies, that if you were a real researcher you would be familiar with. (the only folks who get denied access are those who muck with HIPAA requirements, like the Geiers, sorry—- but your survey should also not violate certain privacy concerns)

    And to repeat Joseph’s comment from the LeftBrainRightBrain “Autism and Murder” posting: “Elaine’s comment is spam that has been appearing in most Hub blogs. The study is biased a priori anyway since the comment says “We would appreciate your assistance in helping us try to identify if the use of epidural analgesia/anesthesia and Pitocin during childbirth.” Obviously, parents of autistic children who had epidurals will be more likely to contact Elaine than anyone else.”
    and from his blog: “@Elaine: Are you aware you just posted that same comment at LB/RB? I could delete it as spam. Instead I will point out that recruiting from blogs will result in selection bias. If you were researching something about vaccines, that’s certainly the case. But you’re still researching something having to do with Big Pharma. Inevitably, you’ll find autism parents who are more likely than controls to remember the childbirth drugs you’re studying.”

  • 51 autblog // Mar 23, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Excellent comment, Chris. Thank you.

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