Is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Anti-Science?

By Keith Kloor | June 1, 2013 1:33 pm

I’m looking forward to seeing the video and transcript of Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s keynote speech at this year’s AutismOne/Generation Rescue conference.

This is the annual confab of the anti-vaccine movement, where all the diehards gather to share their latest pseudoscience, quack therapies and conspiracy theories. Last year’s keynote address was given by actress Jenny McCarthy. As Phil Plait writes:

McCarthy is the most famous face of the anti-vax movement. More than perhaps anyone else she has mainstreamed the incredibly dangerous claims of the anti-vaxxers, saying vaccines gave her son autism and that she cured him using what are known to be noneffective treatments.

If you want to learn what inhabitants of this alternate universe talk about amongst themselves, read this Skepchick post, which discusses McCarthy’s talk and some of the panels at last year’s conference.

For a taste of what Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in his keynote address at this year’s event, let’s go to a post at the Age of Autism website, written by its managing editor, who reports:

Each of us will have our highlights from last weekend’s extraordinary Autism One gathering in Chicago, but for me it was Bobby Kennedy Jr. saying, “To my mind this is like the Nazi death camps.”

What Kennedy meant by this I’m not sure, which is why I’m eager to see the video of his talk. Evidently, Holocaust analogies are part of the anti-vaccine discourse, for a little further down in the Age of Of Autism post we come to this:

The enablers may not belong in Nuremburg, but they do belong in jail, Bobby said. “I would do a lot to see Paul Offit and all these good people behind bars,” he said, after listing Offit’s litany of lies and profit. Just to make sure people got the point, he returned to it in his speech. “Is it hyperbole to say they should be in jail? They should be in jail and the key should be thrown away.”

Paul Offit, for those not in the know, is, as his Wikipedia page describes him, “an American pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases and an expert on vaccinesimmunology, and virology.” He is an outspoken critic of the anti-vaccine movement and an author of numerous books challenging their claims. (Amy Wallace wrote a great profile on him for Wired in 2009.) Also from Wikipedia:

Michael Specter wrote that Offit “has become a figure of hatred to the many vaccine denialists and conspiracy theorists.” Specter reported that Offit had often been threatened with violence by anti-vaccine advocates, necessitating precautions such as screening Offit’s packages for mail bombs and providing guards when Offit attends federal health advisory committee meetings.

That Kennedy would fan the flames of this hatred in his recent speech to anti-vaxxers is irresponsible and despicable, as another science blogger has said. Of course, Kennedy’s history of anti-vaccine advocacy is well documented. Here he is in full froth at a “greening our vaccines” rally in 2009:

Because of his celebrity status and standing in liberal and environmental circles, it is arguable that Kennedy has done as much as anyone to spread unwarranted fear and crazy conspiracy theories about vaccines. That said, his rantings have been roundly debunked and one infamous article he wrote in 2005 that contributed to the anti-vaccine hysteria has been retracted by the publishers.

So does Kennedy’s unhinged views on vaccines make him anti-science? Before you answer, let’s have a look at what people say about Rep Dan Burton, who also appeared at this year’s big anti-vaccine conference.

As Roll Call noted last year:

For more than a decade, Indiana Republican Dan Burton has been a leading House voice on autism and a proponent of the theory that mercury in vaccines contributes to the disorder.

Burton has often been called out for propagating this falsehood. That was again the case in December when Burton used a congressional hearing to, as Steven Salzberg wrote in Forbes,

rehash a series of some of the most thoroughly discredited anti-vaccine positions of the past decade. Burton is a firm believer in the myth that vaccines cause autism, and he arrogantly holds the position that he knows the truth better than the thousands of scientists who have spent much of the past decade doing real science that proves him wrong.

Phil Plait was equally aghast:

Burton has long been an advocate for quackery; for at least a decade he has used Congressional situations like this to promote antiscience.

Last year, after Burton announced his retirement from Congress, Mother Jones sarcastically wrote:

Burton doesn’t get enough credit for what may be his lasting legacy: helping turn Americans away from life-saving childhood vaccines.

Now let’s go back to Robert Kennedy Jr. and his own anti-vaccine legacy, which he evidently is still working to solidify. The Age of Autism dispatch on his keynote speech reports:

Kennedy has put together a book-length treatment on the dangers of ethylmercury, given every year to 84 million children around the world including the United States (in prenatal and infant flu shots). He wants to get meetings with the CDC, AAP, FDA, etc., and get a commitment by the end of this summer to finally remove thimerosal from vaccines in one year. ONE year. If not, he said, he’ll publish the book.

“If they don’t do this,” he said, “this is what I’m going to do with my life.”  Since they’re not going to do it, it looks like we’ve got a friend for life.

Yes, indeed. And Kennedy doesn’t get enough credit for that, which may well be his lasting legacy.

  • Susan

    Why must you insist on polarizing people with name calling and insults, either in images or words. You would reach a wider audience, IMO, by just talking about facts. (Axe the name calling, that is if you’re not an extremist.) Your posts are like the “pot calling the kettle black” with rude obnoxious comments from both sides of the fence.

    • Pierce Nichols

      The only obnoxious name-calling I see here is from Kennedy. The fact is that children die in agony or are permanently disabled by entirely preventable diseases as a direct and predictable result of his advocacy.

      • Susan

        Thank for proving my point, both of you. “Anti-vaxer, Pseudoscience” there are many real scientists out there …. doing real studies only in the opposite direction. These posts polarize people & this is not communication. Just comments from extremists on the other end of the spectrum. Sides lining up is not the way & name calling is not the way to convince anyone!

        • Pierce Nichols

          Anti-vaxxer and pseudoscience are not names — they are statements of fact. The claim that vaccines cause autism was fabricated out of whole cloth, for profit, by Andrew Wakefield. Kennedy is an accomplice to Wakefield’s fraud.

          And we haven’t even begun to touch on the fact that Kennedy’s speech, like the entire Autism One conference, was predicated on dehumanizing people with autism-spectrum disorders.

          • Susan

            I am not here to name call such as you both are obviously polarized and not open to science. Just because someone does not believe in all GMO’s or All vaccines does not make them anti-science.

            This blog promotes very biased information, that is infested with plant biotechnologists promoting their cause along with believing in unfair marketing practices.

            This blog promotes Big Ag & Big Pharm research that is it. Both of which are only in it for the money.

            Name calling in general only incites.

            Last comment for me….but I will complain once again to Keith, Discovery Mag. & freely state that it is just as bias as the Marching for Moms site, only from another Anti-Science, Pseudoscience perspective. (now we have too camps of extremes here)

            But this blog is from Discovery Mag….which use to be highly recognized. No more IMO

          • kkloor

            “This blog promotes Big Ag & Big Pharm research that is it.”

            Really? How so?

            Also, it’s Discover magazine, not Discovery.

          • Susan

            Your posts Keith, they do indeed. And the sites infested with biotech plant scientists. Thanks for the clarification I will complain now to the right people.

          • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

            If only there was a vaccine for this infestation…oh, wait…

            Yeah. You should definitely stay away from blogs where scientists who are active in the fields under discussion are present. You might catch some valid information.

          • Susan

            Very doubtful, indeed

          • Pierce Nichols

            I am open to valid evidence. I am not open to deliberate fraud, like the claim that vaccines cause autism.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Harris/100002141368238 Joe Harris

        You need to rethink that, the data out of California reveals they are poisoning children for apparently no benefit.

        For 87% that got the whooping cough was fully vaccinated and 11 percent were partially vaccinated, that had got the whooping cough.

        Only 8 % were non vaccinated, that tells me that the more vaccinated, the more likely you were to get the very disease you were vaccinated to prevent.

        Sat, May 25th, 2013By Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) Sat, May 25th, 2013 Islamabad city hospital continues receiving children suffering from measles. Authorities inform that all necessary precautions have been taken. More than 50 % of the children brought to the hospital are children who previously have been vaccinated. The Pakistani figures corroborate recently released British documentation.

        It appears, your crap you call vaccines. Are worse than useless. And by another articles caption,the vaccinated could be held liable. For the evidence, is overwhelming that they are causing their own epidemics. And making the non vaccinated, sick by spreading their shedding viruses.

        • Skeptico

          You need to rethink that, the data out of California reveals they are poisoning children for apparently no benefit.

          For 87% that got the whooping cough was fully vaccinated and 11 percent were partially vaccinated, that had got the whooping cough.

          Only 8 % were non vaccinated, that tells me that the more vaccinated, the more likely you were to get the very disease you were vaccinated to prevent.

          It may tell you that, but that would be because you don’t understand the statistics. The reason more vaccinated children get the disease than non vaccinated is because there are more vaccinated children that non vaccinated to start with. If everyone was vaccinated (100% vaccination rate) what % of infected children would be vaccinated? Well 100% of course. What would the % of vaccinated getting the disease if no one was vaccinated? Obviously 0%. Of course, in the latter case (zero vaccination) many more children would get the disease.

          You should stop getting your information from people like Mike Adams. As I wrote in Mike Adams Fails Again (a similar case to what you are quoting) he made the exact same elementary mistake as you. Read that link – I did try to explain it as simply as possible without too much math.

          Sat, May 25th, 2013By Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) Sat, May 25th, 2013 Islamabad city hospital continues receiving children suffering from measles. Authorities inform that all necessary precautions have been taken. More than 50 % of the children brought to the hospital are children who previously have been vaccinated. The Pakistani figures corroborate recently released British documentation.

          They show that so far 129 children have died. This is what happens with only 50% vaccination rates.

          It appears, your crap you call vaccines. Are worse than useless. And by another articles caption,the vaccinated could be held liable. For the evidence, is overwhelming that they are causing their own epidemics. And making the non vaccinated, sick by spreading their shedding viruses.

          Read the above, and realize this is why many people in the reality based community regard some anti vaccine people as dangerous nuts. See Joe Harris, who doesn’t even understand the basic statistics involved, confidently and arrogantly state the exact opposite of what is actually true. In Pakistan the vaccination rate is only 50% (lower than in most western countries). This results in (to date) 129 child deaths. Joe Harris concludes that vaccines are crap.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Harris/100002141368238 Joe Harris

            Are you retarded? it’s OK that more than 50 % of the children brought to the hospital are children who previously have been vaccinated. Against, the disease.

            The Pakistani figures corroborate recently released British documentation.

            That large of a failure rate, is Ok by you ?????

            Hello! the vaccine is Failing miserably. And, your making excuses.

          • Skeptico

            Joe Harris writes:

            Are you retarded?

            And there in a nutshell, you have the sophisticated response of the anti vax nut who can’t refute my many detailed points, can’t make an argument of his own. The vaccine isn’t 100% effective. Everyone knows that except the motivated anti-vax nut. Regardless, you are more likely to get the disease if you are vaccinated. It’s low vaccination rates that cause the high infection and deaths (many hundreds now).

    • http://pdiff.weebly.com/ Pdiff

      I second Pierce’s comment. Having reread what KKloor wrote, not the quoted sections, I see no name calling or insults in either images or words. Do you think anti-vaxer, pseudoscience, quack therapies and conspiracy theories are insults? In this case they are merely descriptive.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Harris/100002141368238 Joe Harris

        Nut, read my post.

    • kkloor

      What facts would those be?

  • Anthony_A

    A Kennedy causing the death of young people? What a surprise!

  • Skeptico

    Kennedy has long been anti-science when it comes to vaccines. See my analysis of how Kennedy quote mined the an Institute of Medicine report – he took quotes out of context to make it seem like the showed the opposite of what they were actually saying.

    If that’s too long to read, just scroll down to the “Walt wants” piece – a totally made up quote.

  • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

    The abuse Paul Offit gets is astounding. It’s really becoming ridiculous, and it would be terrible for everyone if crap like this drove scientists out of infectious disease work (and other places that they are getting similar abuse).

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Harris/100002141368238 Joe Harris

      You kidding Paul Offit said “it was like winning the lotto” selling the patent on his and Merck’s Roto Virus vaccine. 29 million reasons, not to ever leave his post of chief of the child poisoners.

      • Lawrence McNamara

        Let’s see – a researcher works for a couple of decades on developing a vaccine for a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of children worldwide & is handsomely rewarded….yet he continues to work his day job, performing rounds & treating children on a daily basis….sounds like a fair exchange to me.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Harris/100002141368238 Joe Harris

          It’s a BS vaccine, the first caused Intussusception
          the twisting of the guts. The children, had to have surgery to reverse the problem caused by Pauls

          vaccine. Rota virus, is not a big problem in the US. Because, of the medical attention the US. children can get. When needed.

  • Tom Scharf

    There is a reverse correlation between the credibility of a movement and the number of times their supporters use the term Nazi.

    • bobito

      Yes, and likewise when movements create a demon (Paul Offit in this case).

    • MstrJames

      Remember NAZI is abbreviation for “national socialist workers union”. Again I find dark humor in the fact the National socialists of the media and Washington calling conservatives Nazi’s. It just proves that the “dummy down” of the last capitalist super power is almost complete. :D
      And please don’t try to tell me progressive liberals are not nationalists, socialists, and support workers unions.

  • Psyclic

    Kloor’s blog has occasionally interesting factoids and stories, but he seems to get his most fun rousing the crowds to hoot at anyone who feels that there may be some value in raising concerns about GMO or neurological effects of heavy-metals. Editor of Audubon magazine and adjunct professor of journalism do not seem to be very critical standards for scientific assessment, and his smug stance of repeating valid criticism by real scientists is an excuse to dispose of counter arguments without valid analysis.
    Unfortunately, hype and controversy seem to have become the primary content of both Discover and Scientific American blogs.

  • Madeleine Love

    Reading only the headline, my past impression of Robert F Kennedy Jnr is that he is absolutely pro-science, where Science means Knowledge rather than invention tool for corporate profit.

    • Skeptico

      That’s a false dilemma Madeleine. You can be pro science and either for or against profit. You can be anti science and either for or against profit.

      Or, if you are JFK, you claim to be pro science, but are actually against it (much of it anyway). The pro or anti profit stance is irrelevant.

      • Madeleine Love

        I acknowledge I wrapped up a few ideas and put them in one sentence.
        But are you suggesting that profit is a coincidental independent variable to Science or not-Science? I can’t agree with that. It’s been well established that works published under the name of Science are not independent from associations with demands for profit.
        On JFKjr’s particular stance, maybe I should read the article before continuing :) but wonder about what your concept of ‘pro-Science’ is. To me capital S Science is a tool held by the society for the pursuit of knowledge, and bounded by the society’s ethics – it doesn’t grant a right to unfettered indulgence and experimentation in its name.

        • Skeptico

          But are you suggesting that profit is a coincidental independent variable to Science or not-Science?

          Pro or anti science is independent of profit. Good science can be funded for profit; bad science can be funded by not for profit. You can’t conclude one based on the other.

          I can’t agree with that. It’s been well established that works published under the name of Science are not independent from associations with demands for profit.

          Sometimes, but you can’t conclude that before you start. Come on, this is basic logical fallacies.

          On JFKjr’s particular stance, maybe I should read the article before continuing :) but wonder about what your concept of ‘pro-Science’ is.

          Well let’s think of anti-science, since that’s what this post was about. RFK’s anti science was to quote mine the minutes of a meeting of actual scientists – he took numerous quotes out of context to show that vaccines cause autism. And then he ignored all the actual science – the science that shows no connection. And he still does – although things have moved on in the 8 years since. My two long posts explaining this:

          Robert F. Kennedy Junior’s completely dishonest thimerosal article

          Lies, damned lies, and quote mining – with the details of how he changed the meaning of the quotes.

          Science isn’t decoded by quoting scientists out of context to show the conclusion that you had before you started. That’s anti science

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Harris/100002141368238 Joe Harris

            How is this science? Telling the IOM committee, to pay very little attention to all of the biological evidence,

            ( that in 2001 had ruled that the damage to children was biologically plausible ) and to put all their confidence in the large VSD population based studies. And Denmark, that is now been considered Fraud. Considering, the lead author Poul Thorsen has been indicted on thirteen counts of wire fraud and 9 counts of money laundering here in the US. Shouldn’t this be breaking news, in a Nation that boast freedom of the press?

            Extra Extra, read all about it.

            Lead researcher, that gave the CDC their proof that injecting mercury in baby’s was actually good for the baby’s has now been indicted
            on 22 counts.

            Here’s a hint, it was a pay off. And not theft, he bought a house next to the CDC. They were bringing him to the US. to be the head of the DSM 5. One doesn’t usually buy a house, next to someone they have stolen almost 2 million dollars from. And one doesn’t hire someone, that is being sought out for misappropriation of almost 2 million dollars.

            In Texas terms, the sidewinders knew that the Denmark authority’s were looking for the OL scoundrel Poul for alleged theft of almost 2 million dollars. They knew, a year in advance. And they still, offered him the job.

            I guess it’s pretty hard, to find someone that can magically make a known IQ lowering neural toxin. That an NIH study revealed, has the express ability to cross the BBB easier than the fish mercury. Turn into a friendlier, gentle kind of Mercury. That they know, does not cross the BBB.

            Emails from FOIA reveal they were in big trouble, “we have searched frantically, and cannot find anything here” “we are going to have to go elsewhere and get us a study”

            After choosing Denmark, that BTW only got 25 % of the Mercury that US. children got. That would be like comparing apples to cows.

            They contacted Poul and told him “we are only interested in what will exonerate the CDC and the Vaccines”

            They, then handed him 11 million dollars.

            They got what they desired, ( paid for) A known IQ lowering Neural-Toxin was now.

            Non Toxic, and actually good for the developing brain.

            The then president GW Bush tried to seal the VSD for ever from the public. Three people all ex-executives from the patent holder Lilly. That

            and his dad Bush sr. was on the board of Lilly in the 70’s. If Lilly had to pay, for all the damage
            that Thimerosal caused.

            Big Bush money, would have take wings and flew away.

            Sealing the VSD forever that’s strange behavior, considering that CDC’s own
            Rodger Bernier has always maintained, that the VSD is chocked full good quality sound robust studies. Study’s proving that Thimerosal and vaccines were safe.

            So, you are going to seal your proof that your vaccines did not hurt my child? Can I say, if you cannot figure out this move to seal was corruption at it’s best. You are committing,

            as did the IOM intellectual suicide. Or being paid well to not see the corruption.

            Back to the IOM /CDC corruption, not only did the CDC tell the IOM to ignore all the biological evidence. They were also informing the IOM that; “Walt wants you to declare, well these things are pretty safe on a population basis.

            And by the way, she told them “what Walt wants Walt generally gets” She was speaking of, Walter Orinstien the then Dir. of the vaccine commission.

            So how is ordering someone, to only look at your fabricated science. Part, of the scientific method?

            And telling someone that you want them to come to your predetermined conclusion.

            How is this, considered Science? Because what Walt wants, Walt generally gets

            I know what Walt should get, and deserves.

            A prison cell, for poisoning American children.

          • Skeptico

            How is this science? Telling the IOM committee, to pay very little attention to all of the biological evidence,

            ( that in 2001 had ruled that the damage to children was biologically plausible ) and to put all their confidence in the large VSD population based studies.

            No idea what you are talking about here.

            And Denmark, that is now been considered Fraud. Considering, the lead author Poul Thorsen has been indicted on thirteen counts of wire fraud and 9 counts of money laundering here in the US. Shouldn’t this be breaking

            news, in a Nation that boast freedom of the press?

            Extra Extra, read all about it.

            Nonsense. You are as clueless as RFK:

            1) Thorsen was not a leading figure, but a junior author on the papers in question

            2) There are numerous other studies, apart from the Danish ones, that support there being no link between vaccines and autism.  (In addition, Thimerosal was removed from vaccines in the US in 2002 and yet reported autism continues to rise.)

            3) The alleged fraud has no bearing on the studies anyway. Even if Thorsen stole money, and even if he were the lead author on the studies (which he wasn’t, but even if he were) this would not suddenly alter the studies so they now point to a different conclusion.  (It’s a basic ad hominem fallacy.)

            Look at Joe Harris’s comment above, this is what anti-science looks like: the science shows what Joe Harris doesn’t want to accept (that vaccines don’t cause autism) so he latches onto some irrelevant information to try to smear the science, to throw some mud in the hope it will stick. That isn’t how science works: real scientists do studies and come up with evidence.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Harris/100002141368238 Joe Harris

            I don’t like to get mean, but are you an Idiot? ????

            Poul Thorsen was the head of NANEA, that is who the CDC contracted with. In freedom of information act emails. It is Poul Thorsen, the CDC tells ” we are only interested in what will exonerate the CDC and vaccines” It was Poul that the CDC gave the head position to on the DSM 5. All the while knowing, a year in advance that the Denmark authorities were looking for Poul. Please explain, why Poul is able to get his hands on almost 2 million dollars. If as you say, he was a junior author. Why would CDC ;s Coleen Boyle, lie about how many studies he was involved in? You do recall, Congressman Poseys words “how many did you say?” Her reply was, a straight faced without flinching lie. Only Two, Congressman.

            His words, No, try 22.

            So maybe you believe, that Hitler was just a little misunderstood.After all,just because he gassed the Jews.

            It doesn’t mean, that his human experiments were bad.

            How do you defend, people who have poisoned
            American children? That is the definition, for
            Treason. Giving aid to the Enemy.

            The last straw, proving these people are worse than Terrorist. Was, when they destroyed all those selflessly donated Autistic brains.

            That according to Harvard was showing signs of
            mercury.

            And this statement, from the brain bank.

            “we cannot rule out,that this was foul play”

            Harvard finds, in the autopsied autistic brains.
            Mercury. Affecting the speech and the way
            we interact with others

            Brains are telling, an inconvenient, truth.

            Brains rounded up from all other freezers, and moved to one single freezer. The freezer,has
            3 fail safes. They all fail. Problem solved!

            We are told in the Autism community, that sets environmental research back by 10 yr’s.

            One last question, why would the CDC choose
            Denmark if they only got 25% of the Mercury that US. children got? That’s like, comparing apples to cows.

          • Skeptico

            I don’t like to get mean, but are you an Idiot? ????

            Classy start. Let’s see if he gets any better.

            Poul Thorsen was the head of NANEA, that is who the CDC contracted with.

            So what? He was a junior author on two of many studies.

            In freedom of information act emails. It is Poul Thorsen, the CDC tells " we are only interested in what will exonerate the CDC and vaccines" It was Poul that the CDC gave the head position to on the DSM 5. All the while knowing, a year in advance that the Denmark authorities were looking for Poul. Please explain, why Poul is able to get his hands on almost 2 million dollars. If as you say, he was a junior author.

            Well, I wouldn’t know. And in any case the $2M which occurred over a year after the studies were published, has nothing do do with whether these studies are valid or not. And he’s not a junior author “as I say.” He was a junior author according to the studies. Thorsen was the sixth named author of one study relating to MMR and the fourth named author of a study on Thimerosal.  He was not the first author (usually the one who did the most of the work), nor was he the last author (usually the senior author in whose laboratory or under whose funding the study was carried out). He was in the middle of numerous authors, which means he was not the primary author for either of these studies. I’m not sure what your definition of “leading author” would be, but for me it wouldn’t be sixth out of a team of eight. I realize these facts don’t fit the narrative that you want to push, but that isn’t my problem.

            Why would CDC ;s Coleen Boyle, lie about how many studies he was involved in? You do recall, Congressman Poseys words "how many did you say?" Her reply was, a straight faced without flinching lie. Only Two, Congressman.

            His words, No, try 22.

            I have no idea what you are babbling on about here.

            So maybe you believe, that Hitler was just a little misunderstood.After all,just because he gassed the Jews.

            It doesn’t mean, that his human experiments were bad.

            Hitler analogy – bzzt you just lost the argument.

            How do you defend, people who have poisoned
            American children? That is the definition, for

            Treason. Giving aid to the Enemy.

            [snipped conspiracy nut rant]

            Well, I wouldn’t, but then vaccines are not poison despite your conspiracy driven attempt to prove they are, so the question is moot.

            One last question, why would the CDC choose
            Denmark if they only got 25% of the Mercury that US. children got? That’s like, comparing apples to cows.

            They didn’t “choose Denmark” you twit. The studies with Thorsen are just one of many.  For example, here are some more peer reviewed studies from around the world:

            USA

            USA

            USA

            Canada

            UK

            Australia

            USA

            And one more from Denmark.

            Of course, none of these studies has Thorsen as an author so I suppose they don’t count in your attempt to smear study results you don’t like.

            Come on, it’s one of the first principals of logic (and critical thinking) that you don’t debunk a study by smearing its author. I realize that anti vax nuts don’t have anything else to go on, but that doesn’t make these fallacious arguments valid. It’s still the basic logical fallacy of ad hominem. Thorsen’s alleged fraud (pretty sure he’s not been found guilty yet) has no bearing on the scientific validity or methodological soundness of these studies and their conclusions. Grow up.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Harris/100002141368238 Joe Harris

            You said, they didn’t choose Denmark. Wrong!

            In an FOIA email, the CDC is saying. “the IOM meeting is within weeks, we have searched frantically and cannot find anything here”

            “were going to have to go elsewhere, and get us a study”

            That’s strange,you see. Because up to that point, they were telling the public and the Medical community and Congress.

            We have nothing, but good quality sound robust data in the VSD. And we know, the vaccine preservative is safe.

            It appears, they were lying to the public and everybody else. At one point, even to their own committee. They decided to deceive their own committee. By removing, all the shocking revelations they learned at the CDC Simpson wood meeting.

            They chose Denmark!!! And they, chose Poul Thorsen and the Research group NANEA.

            North Atlantic Neuro-Epidemiology Alliances NANEA was headed by Poul himself. So you skeptico, are just trying as Coleen Boyle did
            to re-wright history.

            And that, was the research group that the CDC relied on. To pour out, the junk science. That the CDC needed, because the IOM meeting was within in weeks and they said in FOIA emails we have searched frantically and cannot find anything here.

            This is how they are treated, when they come
            to the US. A limo,to take them where they want to go. Expensive restaurants.

            Here’s the rest of it,

            “One trait separates Nanea from the rest of the university, and it springs to mind immediately. In the first year employees live in a world of glitz and pampering. “We are running in a huge Mercedes!” Is the watchword, and it is true. Every time a scientist travels into the country to collect data, place the trip on business class, “says Anja. Lisa says that the Danes are visiting Atlanta, where they duperes when a limousine rolls up in front of the hotel door to take them to meetings with the CDC . Delicious dinners, liquor with expensive labels and staying at luxurious get-aways as Denmark’s castles are on the program when the traffic goes the other way and the money men from the USA visiting Denmark.

            That BS, the CDC spending research money to

            buy their fraudulent studies. Skeptico, you are disgrace to humanity. Defending, gutless child poisoning pieces of Garbage. Stealing the children’s money, to hide their mistake.

            God is slow to anger, but even he has his breaking point. Their day in court, is
            coming. A court, that has perfect justice.
            All secrets will out, and they will be tried
            and convicted. And they will join Hitler,
            and the NAZI’s.

          • Skeptico

            You said, they didn’t choose Denmark. Wrong!

            In an FOIA email, the CDC is saying. “the IOM meeting is within weeks, we have searched frantically and cannot find anything here”

            “were going to have to go elsewhere, and get us a study”

            That’s strange,you see. Because up to that point, they were telling the public and the Medical community and Congress.

            We have nothing, but good quality sound robust data in the VSD. And we know, the vaccine preservative is safe.

            No links, no context, nothing to do with what’s in the study. Just conspiracy babbling.

            It appears, they were lying to the public and everybody else. At one point, even to their own committee. They decided to deceive their own committee. By removing, all the shocking revelations they learned at the CDC Simpson wood meeting.

            No “shocking revelations” were learned at the Simpsonwood, except the shocking revelation that RFK Jr was another dishonest conspiracy monger. Read that link to see what Simpsonwood does not show what you so desperately want it to show. In fact, 5½ years after the fact (in 2011), Salon decided to withdraw the RFJ Jr. Simpsonwood article that you love so much. When you click the “Salon” link below you will be taken to a Salon page headed Correcting our record, where they explain that they have now removed the post in its entirety and have replaced it with valid vaccine information instead of that showing a “debunked, and dangerous, autism-vaccine link.” (Rolling Stone already deleted it from their website). Get up to date on the facts Joe Harris.

            They chose Denmark!!! And they, chose Poul Thorsen and the Research group NANEA.

            Not for the study that shows Thimerosal doesn’t cause autism. The studies are still valid – you can’t find anything wrong with them, or you would say what is wrong with them rather than weaving these complicated conspiracy webs that don’t exist. What about all the other studies I listed:

            USA

            USA

            USA

            Canada

            UK

            Australia

            USA

            And one more from Denmark.

            Why don’t you comment on them? I guess they just don’t fit your conspiracy narrative.

            North Atlantic Neuro-Epidemiology Alliances NANEA was headed by Poul himself. So you skeptico, are just trying as Coleen Boyle did
            to re-wright history.

            Who cares. He wasn’t a lead author on the studies that show vaccines don’t cause autism. That’s all that matters. You just keep ignoring this inconvenient fact.

            And that, was the research group that the CDC relied on. To pour out, the junk science. That the CDC needed, because the IOM meeting was within in weeks and they said in FOIA emails we have searched frantically and cannot find anything here.

            This is how they are treated, when they come
            to the US. A limo,to take them where they want to go. Expensive restaurants.

            Here’s the rest of it,

            That’s right. Write about anything but the studies. You know you can’t say why the studies are wrong so you keep writing about this irrelevant nonsense in the hope that some mud will stick, but everyone can see that you can’t refute the only important thing – what the studies show which is that vaccines don’t cause autism.

    • Pierce Nichols

      Kennedy is anti-science because he knowingly and deliberately spreads the fraudulent claim that vaccines cause autism. Further, he does so by dehumanizing people with autism.

  • MstrJames

    I guess I don’t see the anti science in this. Kennedy just wants to take that form of mercury out of vaccines.
    Are the “vaccinate everyone for everything just in case people”, the pro science ones? That doesn’t sound like science to me.
    Don’t let anyone do this or make everyone do that is not found anywhere in the definition of science. Politics for profit yes, science no. Just saying.

    • MstrJames

      Lol greenies in government shutter companies and ban processes that MIGHT put mercury in the water. Then turn around and pay other corporations to vaccinate all people with mercury. Sounds like typical clueless politics for profit Washington to me.

      • Norbrook

        Let me introduce you to a scientific concept: It’s called “biological half-life.” That’s how fast a compound is removed from the body. Ethyl mercury, which is the breakdown product of thimerosol has a half-life of 3.7 days in infants. That means that within less than a month, there’s a negligible amount of what was a negligible amount to begin with. Methyl mercury has a much longer half-life so it bioaccumulates, but ethyl mercury doesn’t.

        So, in order to make their case, the anti-vaxxers have been depicting ethyl mercury as being “the same” as methyl mercury. It’s like saying ethyl alcohol is biologically the same as methyl alcohol.

        • MstrJames

          I understand the concept. As a person who has worked in many different areas of food production, the American food supply is the same way. Things they use on corn to kill bugs is completely gone in 48 hours. The hormones used to grow cattle are gone before we eat the beef because of several different reasons. But that doesn’t stop the greenies from raising hell and damaging the last major creation of wealth in our country (ag). I am not an anti vaxxer. But I do see their point. Even wealthy elites like bill gates talk about vaxing the entire pupulatioin and in the same breath talk about reducing world population from 9 bil to 6.5 . Population control by elites should make your blood run cold. AMerican Government puts restrictions on what the private sector can do, then turn right around and add things to water (fluoride) that have been banned across Europe. chemicals that have bad effects on humans and no positive effects are provable. Some frankenfoods are not meant for consumption. They were designed for medical use but that doesn’t seem to bother the people who push anti-capitalist agenda.
          I would be wondering if ethyl mercury is as harmless as you propose and is it even really necessary to put in vaccines?
          And the farmers use pesticides and other things to produce massive quantities. The average farmer produces food and clothing for 175 people. The other 174 people get money in the mailbox and buy food, they don’t want to toil in the hot sun, they just want to vote to keep the farmer working. Liberal socialists (like greenies) do work hard, to make the food production process as difficult and expensive as possible. That why we have lost 95% of our farmers in the last 100 years.
          Until the socialists stop paying people not to work, the world will look for ways to increase production and save time/money. Until then social elites like the U.N. and bill gates will look for ways to reduce populations of “useless eaters” as Henry Kissinger called them.
          I do find a dark humor in the knowledge that the same people who vote for anti-capitalists will be the ones terminated by them. That’s why we need bamboo/iron curtains. To hide the bloodshed and carnage that always comes with the final conversion from capitalism to socialism.
          But you seem assured in believing ethyl mercury isn’t dangerous. So call me when your ready and I pay for a press conference, where you drink and pint of it on camera to show the world how safe it is. Then we can get on with mass innoculations. :D

          • lilady R.N.

            Not anti-vaccine, eh? Pro science, eh?

            Everyone of your libelous comments about respected scientists, researchers and doctors, as well as your libelous comments about Bill Gates is lifted right out of the anti-vaccine, anti-science playbook.

            Prove that I am wrong, by linking to citations from studies and scientific papers that you use for your references.

    • Skeptico

      I guess I don’t see the anti science in this. Kennedy just wants to take that form of mercury out of vaccines.

      Well let me explain:

      1) There is no evidence that Thimerosal in vaccines has harmed anyone

      2) The Thimerosal has already been taken out of children’s vaccines – around 2002 or 2003 IIRC. All the anti vax loons were crowing then that autism would start to drop around 2006/2007 when these changes worked their way through. Guess what, it kept on increasing.

      Anti science is when the evidence comes in and it doesn’t support your conclusion, you keep the same conclusion anyway and look for other ad hoc explanations to rescue your conclusion that cannot be changed for any reason. That is Kennedy.

      Are the "vaccinate everyone for everything just in case people", the pro science ones? That doesn’t sound like science to me.

      That really is a cartoon version of the argument – that’s probably why it didn’t sound like science to you.

      • MstrJames

        So the “scientists” took thimerosal out of childrens vaccines in 2002? …. is it science to respond to cartoon versions like me? Did all the children die? or thimerosal maybe wasn’t needed? I think your beginning to understand my point. From the 40’s to the 70’s everyone on the planet was told that bleach, fluoride etc in our water was good for us , now those things are banned in most industrialized countries because they are the opposite of good. And no evidence exists that fluoride ever helped teeth. We dont know why they said it was good other than it was profitable for certain government suppliers. So if EVERYONE that is a science fanatic, believes something, does that make it true?. Then later untrue? Science is the search for truth, not the search for reasoning to support the “truths” we have all ready been told.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maurine.meleck Maurine Meleck

    what science would you all be talking about? The science of vaccine maker Paul Offit who made 27 million from one vaccine alone? Or maybe the science of gov’t health agencies that also mandate vaccines and make big profits from them? Perhaps the scientific study that came out 2 years ago stating that kids who had mercury injected into them came out with higher IO’s? Oh, maybe the science of major drug companies with the most lobbyists in DC that continue to tell us vaccines are safe while they pocket billions
    on the backs of all of our sick children?
    I attended Autism One this year. Heard Kennedy and the US.
    Congressional panel. Fantastic. And a bill finally moving in Congress for a study of fully vaccinated vs fully unvaccinated children. We are never going away and I don’t think Kennedy is either. We are spreading the news everywhere and more and more parents are afraid to vaccinate and more and more are opting out. Our fight has only just begun.
    Maurine Meleck, SC

    • Pierce Nichols

      Dr Offit is not a rich man; anyone claiming otherwise is lying.

      Further, the vaccines that he has developed have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and will continue to save thousands of lives each year into the indefinite future. What have you done for your species lately?

      Autism One is a festival of the most grotesque dehumanization of people with autism. You and everyone there should feel ashamed of yourselves.

    • Skeptico

      what science would you all be talking about? The science of vaccine maker Paul Offit who made 27 million from one vaccine alone?

      This is another basic ad hominem fallacy – money does not magically mean the vaccines are bad.

      Or maybe the science of gov’t health agencies that also mandate vaccines and make big profits from them?

      Huh? What gov’t health agencies made big profits?

      Perhaps the scientific study that came out 2 years ago stating that kids who had mercury injected into them came out with higher IO’s?

      Doubtful, but then no one is quoting this study, apart from you.

      Oh, maybe the science of major drug companies with the most lobbyists in DC that continue to tell us vaccines are safe while they pocket billions
      on the backs of all of our sick children?

      Billions? Hardly – vaccines aren’t that profitable.

      I attended Autism One this year. Heard Kennedy and the US.

      Well there’s your problem – you attended the annual quackfest. Try reading some real science.

      Congressional panel. Fantastic. And a bill finally moving in Congress for a study of fully vaccinated vs fully unvaccinated children. We are never going away and I don’t think Kennedy is either. We are spreading the news everywhere and more and more parents are afraid to vaccinate and more and more are opting out. Our fight has only just begun.

      Maurine Meleck, SC

      And how are you going to do that? How are you going to randomize 50% to the no vaccine (placebo) group that will therefore be unvaccinated and unprotected? Will never happen as it would be unethical.

      • http://www.facebook.com/maurine.meleck Maurine Meleck

        there are 10,000 alone in Chicago in an HMO-never been vaccinated. And that’s only a small number. they will take and use the already unvaccinated. that’s how. stop using the gov’t excuse of unethical. That’s BS.

        • Lawrence McNamara

          I guess Maurine has never heard of “selection” bias.

          • lilady R.N.

            Not in Maurine’s vocabulary and not in her educational background, Lawrence.

    • lilady R.N.

      Well good for you Maurine…you attended the Autism One Conference and saw Mr. Kennedy’s keynote speech. Were you impressed by his comparisons of the public health initiative to protect infants and children with safe, effective vaccines…as being similar to what n@zis did to young children during the Holocaust?

      Editor Dan Olmsted at Age of Autism was impressed and blogged about it. Why did Olmsted make that blog “disappear”? Tsk, tsk Maurine, I am wondering why he didn’t revise the article or issue a retraction with an explanation; that’s what real journalists do.

  • jh

    Interesting, Keith

    In all of your discussion on the anti-vax crowd, this is the first time you’ve mentioned the basis of their objections to vaccines: the presence of an Hg-bearing compound in the vaccines.

    So is the presence of Hg in the vaccines the entire basis for all anti-vax claims, or is the Hg-issue just one of many frets? Is the presence of this Hg-bearing compound something new in vaccines, or has it been a standard component in vaccines since they were introduced? Is this another case where people simply don’t understand the effects of concentration (ie, whether a compound is harmful or not depends on its concentration)?

    I didn’t know that Kennedy was clamoring for the imprisonment of vaccine researchers (and corporate CEOs?). And all the complaints about profit by vaccine makers. My my, echos of James Hansen and his crusade against FF executives.

    • jh

      I just read the wikipedia article on anti-vaxxers. It doesn’t even mention Hg. So I guess the Hg issue is just one of many causes that anti-vaxxers have sought to give some credence to their position.

      • Skeptico

        Thimerosal is ethylmercury. It was removed from childhood vaccines in 2002.
        They also blame the MMR vaccine, which never contained Thimerosal. But then logic was never the anti-vaccer’s strong point.

        • jh

          Thanks.

          It’s interesting that that an object of their hatred isn’t even in vaccines anymore. I think that tells us something about what will happen if we label GMO-bearing foods: there will just be a billion other claims. It’ll never be enough.

        • http://www.facebook.com/maurine.meleck Maurine Meleck

          was put back in the flu vaccine in2004 that is recommended for pregnant and babies over 6 months of age.

          • Skeptico

            There are non Thimerosal options available.

            In 2005 the anti-vaxers were confidently predicting that autism would drop by 2007 after thimerosal was removed. It didn’t, so they then move to ‘it must be the mercury in vaccines given to pregnant women.’ Except the anti-vaxers previously “knew” that the vaccines cause autism because the kids became autistic straight away after the vaccine. But if they became autistic just after the vaccine, how could it now be because of pre-natal vaccines?

            That’s what pseudoscience looks like – the conclusion (vaccines cause autism) is true no matter what the experimental results are.

  • lilbear68

    i would love to see the list of chemicals are that are used as preservatives in these vacines. if they are harmless then just make them public knowlege.

    • Skeptico

      They are public knowledge – it’s all on the label.

      • lilbear68

        knowing the name is not the same as knowing what the effect is once its in your body. what i was looking for is the chemical MSDS information on file.

        • jh

          Should the label educate the consumer as well? Perhaps a few biochem textbooks can be added to the label so consumers can have all the info they need.

          • Lawrence McNamara

            Or you could just check out:

            http://antiantivax.flurf.net/

            A great site that includes a description of many of the standard vaccine ingredients & how the anti-vax folks resort to fear-mongering, since the facts don’t back them up.

  • jh

    OMG! How come I didn’t think of this before?

    Instead of regulating CO2 emissions, we should just give the consumer the information they need to make the “right” choice! All CO2-producing products should have a label informing consumers about the consensus on CO2! Perhaps, with the advent of automated fuel pumps, we could force consumers to stand for a brief recorded lecture before pumping gas.

    Oh, but wait, they don’t always make the “right” choice when presented with labels…

    • MstrJames

      Keep in mind banning CO2 is not a popular idea, because its the bubbles in your beer and pop and also what humans breath out.

      During the carboniferous period (late peleozoic) the atmosphere contained somewhere between 15x and 40x (4,000%) the carbon dioxide we have now. It didn’t kill the planet but made it horrendously productive. And left massive coal deposits as result. So if you understand that increasing CO2 and heat, increases food production for all animals including man, you realize that green house owners know what they are doing and political hacks like liberal socialists have no clue of real science or its application.
      The only groups who are promoting carbon reduction are anti capitalists and the world bank. The young rothchild that’s promoting climate change is doing so because his father and him have a plan to create a new world currency called carbon credits. All the paper currencies we have now are dying, and the rothchilds and their central banks want to hurry and get started on a new fiat system to enslave the people of the world with worthless paper money like they have for 350 years.
      Don’t take my word for all this, google CARBONIFEROUS, GREEHOUSE BUILDING AND USE, WHAT MAKES BUBBLES IN BEER. WHAT DO ALL LIVING THINGS BREATH OUT, ROTHCHILD, THE WORLD ECONOMY IS DYING, WHO CONTROLS CARBON CREDITS, WHO OWNS THE WORLD BANKS, WHO OWNS THE MEDIA, WHERE DO ALL GOVERNMENTS GET THEIR MONEY, WHERE DO ALL SCIENTISTS GET THEIR MONEY.

  • Buddy199

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_F._Kennedy,_Jr.

    That family tree does produce some pretty odd fruit.

  • Twylaa

    No, RFK jr is not anti-science. He is pro-science. He is anti-corruption of science by financial interests.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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