Kennedy’s New Book on Supposed Dangers of Thimerosal

By Keith Kloor | July 19, 2014 11:07 am

This weekend I have a profile on Robert Kennedy Jr. in the Washington Post magazine. During our numerous conversations over the phone and in person, I found him to be candid, self-deprecating, and unshakably confident in his belief that thimerosal was a dangerous ingredient that should not be in vaccines. (It was phased out of U.S. pediatric vaccines in the early 2000s, but it remains in some flu vaccines.) Today, no leading public health advocate shares Kennedy’s view. So why has he maintained his position when scientific authorities, including the CDC, the FDA, World Health Organization, Institute of Medicine, have concluded that thimerosal is safe in trace amounts?

“Because I looked at the science,” he said to me. The evidence that convinced him is compiled in a soon-to-be published book called, “Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak.” I promised Kennedy I would read the book and tell him where he got it wrong, if I came to that conclusion. Before I attempt to do that (in part 2 of this post), let me back up a bit.

Last year, I characterized Kennedy as anti-science. I regret this and apologize for using such language. I have since come to believe that labeling people as “anti-science” is lazy and unfair–no matter what the issue. If we were to apply the label in a consistent manner, then there would be a large anti-science tent, as I have said before. I think Kennedy is misguided in his relentless thimerosal campaign–especially in the way he has gone about it–which is outlined in my Washington Post story. That said, I think Kennedy is well-meaning and sincere in his beliefs. He is what I would consider a flawed messenger, someone who inflames passions with irresponsible, over-heated rhetoric, which undermines whatever legitimate points he might have.

Kennedy knows that his combative, prosecutorial style is unhelpful to his cause. (He is a lawyer, after all.) So in recent years he recruited several medical professionals to his campaign. One of them is Mark Hyman, a physician, best-selling author, and doctor to the Clintons. Hyman is likable and diplomatic. He is also untainted by the vaccine wars, in the way Kennedy is.

Hyman became a major collaborator on Kennedy’s book, smoothing out its sharp language and shaping it into what he and Kennedy believe is a sober, scientific discussion of thimerosal.

In his preface, Hyman attempts to pre-empt the anticipated criticism:

Critics of this book will quickly polarize the debate. It is easy to oversimplify the issue of Thimerosal into pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine. Or to confuse this issue by debating whether Thimerosal causes autism, which has not been definitively proven. This is unfortunate, and detracts from a much simpler set of questions that are ultimately the subject of this scientifically dense book.

There is no debate that mercury in any form is toxic. Scientists may debate the differences in toxicity between different forms of mercury such as ethlymercury (Thimerosal) or methlmecury (from fish). But all would agree that mercury is a potent neurotoxin.

There is also no debate about the dramatic increased prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders over the last few decades, including learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders and autism.

These three paragraphs follow in the exact order presented above. I’m highlighting them because they encapsulate a contradictory argument that runs through the book.

In the first paragraph, Hyman is telling readers not to be sidetracked by a quarrelsome debate: unproven claims of a connection between thimerosal and autism. The problem with that enreaty is that the thimerosal issue is overwhelmingly colored by such claims, because that is how autism advocates framed the debate over a decade ago. They poisoned the well. Now Hyman wants us to drink from a different well. (Good luck with that.)

So he says in the second paragraph that readers should focus instead on several key points: mercury is a known toxin and that it’s meaningless to distinguish between the different forms of mercury. Okay, we’ve had that debate before, but I’m open to revisiting it if there’s new data, studies or other legitimate evidence that never saw the light of day.

But wait, in the third paragraph, Hyman ignores his own advice not to get distracted when he mentions that, oh by the way, there’s been a notable uptick in all these neurodevelopmental disorders, including, autism.  What!?  He just warned in the first paragraph not to “confuse” the thimerosal debate with such asserted linkages.

To recap, Hyman is imploring us to avoid the autism quagmire, stay focused on mercury’s toxicity, but keep in mind that autism rates have shot up in recent decades. This tortured logic and inconsistency sets the tone for what is to come in the book.

The book I read made a case that thimerosal is not a safe vaccine ingredient, despite assurances otherwise by multiple scientific and public health bodies. Kennedy and Hyman build their case by presenting numerous studies that suggest ethlymercury–the compound in thimerosal–is harmful with exposure to repeated dosages. These studies, they assert, “show that while ethylmercury quickly clears the blood, it is not excreted from the body and is instead preferentially deposited and sequestered in organs and tissues including the brain.”

So what does this amount to? Here’s what they write in the executive summary:

This increased exposure to mercury via vaccines coincided closely with the increased case reports of neurodevelopmental disorders, including a dramatic increase in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cases and a rise in attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

What’s the point in asking people to drink from a new well if you’re just going to poison that one, too?

In the second part of this post, appearing tomorrow, I’ll more specifically address the core arguments and evidence laid out in the published book. Meanwhile, it’s worth pointing out that the furies in the vaccines = autism community are incensed at Kennedy and circulating an early draft of his book. This is what happens when you stir the toxic ingredients in a controversial pot, as Kennedy has too often done with an emotional, complicated issue.



  • Matt Carey

    I would say that even his first sentence is problematical:

    “Critics of this book will quickly polarize the debate.”
    I’d say that supporters of his book will be a polarizing influence as well. I expect comments on this article will demonstrate that shortly.

  • Fiona Gilsenan

    Surprised to see that Mark Hyman has ended up with so much credibility. What makes him different from Mercola or any other gimmicky ‘wellness’ guru with books and overpriced supplements for sale?

    • Twylaa

      The book does not rest on Mark Hyman’s credibility. It is packed with citations of scientific studies.

  • Matt Carey

    This is the sort of argument that uses half-truths and keeps this idea alive:
    “This increased exposure to mercury via vaccines coincided closely with the increased case reports of neurodevelopmental disorders, including a dramatic increase in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cases and a rise in attention deficit disorder (ADHD).”

    But the decreased exposure in the past 10 years did *not* coincide with a drop in autism and/or ADHD. If we are going to use correlation to generate a hypothesis, we can’t (a) confuse hypothesis with proved fact and (b) ignore the data that goes against the hypothesis.
    I will also point out that if one looks closely at the California DDS data, which so many used to make the claims that Kennedy and Hyman repeat, the start of the increase was well before the rise in thimerosal in the 1990’s.

    • bpatient

      Independent groups of investigators have repeatedly and convincingly shown that exposure to thimerosal is not related to the prevalence of ASD. Here’s a recent example: Saemundsen E et al. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in an Icelandic birth cohort. BMJ Open; 3(6): e002748. Moreover, this paper similarly undermines other common anti-vaccine memes:

      1. Although thimerosal-containing vaccines were removed from the pediatric vaccine schedule in Iceland in 1991 (and the administration of influenza vaccines, which might contain thimerosal, is not recommended in Iceland for children or pregnant women,) the prevalence of ASD continued to increase over the decades that followed, and that prevalence is comparable to the prevalence of ASD in the US. (Similarly, the prevalence of ASD continued to increase in California despite laws that prevent administration of thimerosal-containing vaccines to children and pregnant women.)

      2. Anti-vaxxers blame the birth dose of Hep B for an increase in ASD. Children in Iceland, where the prevalence of ASD is like that in the US, are not vaccinated against Hepatitis B.

      3. Children in Iceland receive about half as many vaccines as are given to children in the US, and on a delayed schedule compared to the US schedule, but have a similar prevalence of ASD.


      • Twylaa

        It’s not simple. Thimerosal is not the only source of mercury. Mercury is increasing in the environment worldwide, including in Iceland. Thimerosal is not the only problem with vaccines. A growing body of research shows that immune system issues are a major factor in autism, including inflammation in the brain, autoantibodies to the myelin basic protein coating nerve cells, inflammatory cytokines in spinal fluid, and more. The whole point of vaccines is to stimulate the immune system, often using aluminum adjuvants. Thimerosal is only one factor, though an important one. And, thimerosal has not been completely removed from vaccines.

    • Twylaa

      We can’t ignore what data? I don’t think I’ve seen you post any data, Matt.

  • Verna Lang

    Robert Kennedy, Jr may soon be vying with George R R Martin for the most anticipated new fantasy novel in his series. I can even suggest a title. Dihydrogen Monoxide: Let the Science Speak. This toxic chemical is deadly if ingested in large quantities or inhaled.

    • Dorit Reiss

      I’ve heard it’s present in every person with cancer, autism and allergies too.

      And there’s never been a randomized trial comparing those who consumer DHMO and those who do not.

      • Matt Carey

        “And there’s never been a randomized trial comparing those who consumer DHMO and those who do not.”
        There is strong evidence and biological plausibility that those who do not consume DHMO live shorter lives.

        • Dorit Reiss

          Citation needed. 😛

    • Twylaa

      Yes, H2O is necessary for life but can cause drowning. Very funny.

      Good point though that there has never been a randomized trial comparing those who drink water and those who don’t. Yet we know that people who don’t drink water die. Just goes to show you that there are other sources of information besides randomized studies published in peer reviewed journals.

      • Verna Lang

        Thimerosal has been removed from childhood vaccines in the developed world for more than a decade, and still no proof that it’s removal was anything more than a response to needless and overblown fear. Thimerosal is not necessary as a preservative in most developed countries because we have easy access to refrigeration to stop degradation of temperature sensitive components of the vaccines. Where thimerosal is needed is in undeveloped countries that have hot climates and little refrigeration. They also have the highest death rates from these preventable diseases. What this book may do to thimerosal use and vaccination success in these at risk countries is unknown at this time, but the last time a developing nation was swayed by pseudoscience, HIV deniers convinced members of the South African government that AIDS could be treated by vitamins and diet rather than antivirals. 300,000 AIDS patients died needlessly because of that decision.

  • bpatient

    Kennedy can certainly demonstrate that, at some dose levels, thimerosal can be harmful, just as some doses of table salt can be harmful. Unfortunately, Kennedy is behind the curve, since this has been clear for centuries: “All substances are poisons: there is nothing which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy.” (Paracelsus, 1493-1541)

    What Kennedy clearly cannot do is demonstrate that thimerosal-containing vaccines caused some sort of “epidemic” of autism, because that’s just not true.

  • JH

    A classic bait and switch. “Don’t worry, we’re not saying vaccines w/ Th cause autism”. Switch! “we’re just saying that the Hg in Th in the vaccines makes autism occur more frequently than it otherwise would”

  • lilady R.N.

    Mr. Kloor, I look forward to your book review for this long touted book by Mr. Kennedy. The background you provided about Kennedy’s long history of allying himself with the crank anti-vaccine movement, is excellent.

    I don’t know what drives Kennedy; you seem to to think he’s a true believe. I, OTH, sincerely believe, that Kennedy’s every move, is calculated to burnish his reputation which he himself trashed by publishing that scurrilous document “Evidence of Harm”, which was a compilation of deliberate quote mining from the transcripts of the Simpsonwood Conference. A far better career move for Kennedy would have been to just fade into the background and hope that the manufactured controversy which he created, would just fade away. That, apparently will not happen, because Kennedy is ego-driven and fancies himself as a scientist.

    Kennedy has caused irreparable harm to the science and autism communities. He’s the poster child for bad science, bad behavior and trading on his family name. Time now, for you Mr. Kloor…and every other science journalist to honestly review the content of Kennedy’s book…and to finally shut this down this malevolent science journalist poseur.

    • Maurinemeleck

      You and your community will never shut the autism community down. We are reaching the young people of this country who become more fearful of vaccines everyday and will certainly question vaccinating their children.

      • lilady R.N.

        You and your pals at the clown blog are already non relevant in the science community and in the autism community.

        “We are reaching the young people of this country who become more fearful of vaccines everyday and will certainly question vaccinating their children”

        Yeah, we all know how you parade around your small town wearing silly anti-vaccine T-shirts and accost young parents to scare them off vaccines.

        Why do you want to see infants and children at risk for serious, sometimes deadly, vaccine-preventable-diseases, Maurine?

      • Dorit Reiss

        Frankly, I would not pride myself if my achievement was deterring parents from protecting children against dangerous diseases by making false claims.

        Luckily, the vast majority of people in the country do vaccinate, and unfortunately, they can now see some of the cost of the misinformation spread by the anti-vaccine movement, with a record number of measles cases.

      • Linda Tock

        You and your cronies will be responsible for the outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease returning to US shores with endemic transmission and deaths.

        All those ‘young people’ you’ve hoodwinked will certainly see that the emperor (your AV movement) has no pants.

      • Mike Stevens

        The “autism community” consists of far more than you few hundred anti vaccine activists.
        The autism community supports vaccination.
        You and your kind do not speak for it.

      • Matt Carey

        “You and your community will never shut the autism community down. ”
        What are you talking about? The majority of the autism community doesn’t believe that vaccines cause autism.
        The majority of the autism parent community doesn’t, and scarce few autistics have come forward with support for the idea.
        The vaccine/autism belief was never held by a majority of parents. And the idea peaked years ago.

      • Matt Carey

        We parents are tired of a vocal minority claiming to speak for us. We want to move forward, not live in the past.
        Mostly, we want a better life for our kids. That is not found by us living lives of guilt for a vaccine injury that never happened. That is not found by subjecting our children to unsafe “therapies” which purport to heal faux vaccine injury.

    • AutismDadd

      what a crock

  • Jason Dries

    I look forward to your later reviews of this book. As much as I’d love to read it, I’m not giving this crackpot one dollar that he would interpret as support.

  • Maurinemeleck

    Wayne Rohde- The Vaccine Court-The dark truth about the Vaccine Injury Compensation Court
    Robert Kennedy Jr. Thimerosal-Let the Science Speak.
    Louis Conte-The Autism War
    Anne Dachel-The Big Autism Cover-Up
    Already out or can be ordered in advance
    Summer/Fall reading

    • Dorit Reiss

      The fact that four people who believe that vaccines cause autism and that there’s a conspiracy to hide it wrote books doesn’t make it reality.
      Especially when one of them is a work of fiction.

      • Mike Stevens

        I’d say that they all could qualify for that definition.

      • Matt Carey

        It’s the best they have now. Which says a lot.

      • AutismDadd

        Fiction is Brian Deer’s super power

    • Maurinemeleck

      It’s so important that every person should read and see both sides of the autism/vaccine controversy. Then the choice whether or not to vaccinate their children or themselves is theirs and theirs alone. All states(Mississippi and West Virginia have only medical ones) have vaccine e exemptions
      It is the legal right of every person to claim exemptions for vaccines. And remember that No Vaccines, No School is Not True. Let us honor the rights of all individuals to determine what health choices are right for their families. Honor vaccine choice and parental consent.

      • CassandraofDelphi

        “Honor vaccine choice and parental consent” Amen to that.

      • Matt Carey

        “It’s so important that every person should read and see both sides of the autism/vaccine controversy. ”
        I agree. I took a long hard look–and continue to do so–a the evidence presented that is claimed to show that vaccines cause autism.

        This was a major part of the process that led me to conclude there is no good evidence.

        Most autism parents agree with me–vaccines are not a cause of autism.
        And very few autistics believe in the autism/vaccine connection.
        So, let’s look for real answers.

        • AutismDadd

          They have. Billions spent on gene research. The findings? People with autism have genes…OMG amazing!!!

      • Paul Shipley

        Even though I think your views are a load of cods-wallop I am interested in how you became so passionate about your belief. How can a sane person think the way you do? I’m sincerely interested. Point me to the science rather than a conspiracy theory.

        • Maurinemeleck

          You can find the science all over the in ternet if you take the time to look. I’d rather relate to you my first red flag. I watched my first grandson following his vaccinations-
          each time high fever, up all night screaming, huge swelling at the vax site lasting for weeks and finally his last ones before age 2 where he lost all the language he had acquired. lost eye contact and the rest is history. Yes, you can talk about the science and I believe in science-just not the science
          of the CDC, IOM and NIH-all gov’t and drug company controlled. It’s amazing how so many Americans mistrust our gov’t when it comes to all other policies and yet when it comes to vaccines-they trust them beyond all comprehension to me.

          • Dominic Michael Salerno

            Autism onset just so happens to correlate with vaccination schedule. I classic mistake to confuse correlation with causation.

          • Maurinemeleck

            right-with 500,000 families saying the same thing. You really do love your government “right or wrong.”

          • Science Mom

            No, not 500K families, that number is as rectally-sourced as all of your other “information” Ms. Meleck.

          • Twylaa

            Kind of crude, for a scientist.

          • Science Mom

            Put your big girl panties on if you are going to be in this fray. I’m sure people prefer “crude” over dishonest any day of the week Twyla.

          • Paul Shipley

            Yes just like the funny correlation that cheese consumption in the US correlates with people being tangled and dying in their bedsheets. The same rate of increase year on year. I know I am not eating cheese anymore then going to bed.

          • notation

            They AREN’T “saying the same thing.” There are thousands of families who have children with autism who think you and your pals are wrong because they know enough about science to be able to tell the bunk from the credible. You don’t.

          • Paul Shipley

            Just like the funny correlation that cheese consumption in the US correlates with people being tangled and dying in their bedsheets. The same rate of increase year on year. I know I am not eating cheese anymore then going to bed.

          • AutismDadd


          • Dominic Michael Salerno

            No, I’m a scientist and professor with a PhD in genetics who studied molecular virology. You are the sad sort who will latch on to bad science to explain a terrible thing.

          • AutismDadd

            Oh ANOTHER professor etc etc. Are they putting rolls of PHD’s in the washroom now?

          • 655321

            But you’ll cling to the correlation of the drop in some disease rates around the time vaccines were introduced? Ok. But wait, most diseases were already in steep decline prior any mass vaccine campaigns, I guess you don’t even have that correlation.

          • Dominic Michael Salerno

            Nope. I understand, at a molecular level, how an antigen stimulates a b and t cell response. I know how a memory response to the vaccine confers immunity to disease. Get out of here with your unscientific nonsense. Please take a course or ten before you begin to make any statements about immunology.

          • 655321

            Lol, nice attempt to dodge your egregious double standard. Thanks for the comic relief.

          • Dominic Michael Salerno

            Lolololol you guys are information and education-proof! Good luck with that and enjoy the diseases! I am out!

          • 655321

            You were never in. Thanks for pretending.

          • Dominic Michael Salerno

            Nice try but weak joke. I again implore you to read a book, take a class, or attend a conference on immunology. Educate yourself so you don’t pass this ignorance on to your offspring.

          • 655321

            Says the guy who pretends his entire opinion doesn’t rest on a non-existent CORRELATION.

          • tomonthebay

            655 has no interest in facts. He has his religious faith in the church of anti-vax.

          • Science Mom

            And how did your NVICP case go Ms. Meleck?

          • Maurinemeleck

            It’s a no win situation for the majority of cases because it’s a government court, with government attorneys, a government special vaccine court judge and government people to testify against us. It’s not a real court with a real jury..

          • Science Mom

            Why is it a no-win just because the majority of cases aren’t compensated? The vast majority of cases don’t have any merit. You sure like to trumpet the Poling case so obviously not a no-win. The OAP petitioners were provided huge resources to acquire experts and evidence, given your response you just admitted that those testifying against you are more qualified and have better evidence. Thank you.

          • Maurinemeleck

            You know nothing about the Poling case. The gov’t gave in before it went to court for fear of people knowing she had autism(which they whitewashed by saying she had a special condition and only “autism like symptoms-lol) They begged the Polings not to go public, but TG the Polings did.
            Do not put words in my mouth. No I said they are all gov’t and drug funded and have conflicts of interest. No use in arguing with you-you love your gov’t right or wrong. No doubt you thought the war in Iraq was for humanitarian purposes.

          • Science Mom

            No one begged the Polings not to go public, how paranoid! The HHS conceded the case as it was clear that Hannah suffered from a table injury, that is what they do in the case of a table injury, not just with Hannah Poling.

            I didn’t put words in your mouth, you admitted that government witnesses and evidence were far superior to the petitioners’. There were no conflicts of interests nor drug funding either, you just made that up to portray yourself as a victim. Provide evidence for such extraordinary claims; your lot have no credibility.

            As for Iraq, what another pathetic strawman. And you wonder why no one takes you seriously.

          • Maurinemeleck

            I know you and people like you-“Your country right or wrong.” You believe what you want to believe. or have you been dummied down for too many years?

          • Science Mom

            Pathetic. I am a scientist trained in relevant areas and can parse the research on my own which is why and how I am confident in my position, some dumb patriotic zealotry has nothing to do with it. But speaking of dummied down, your scientific illiteracy coupled with your existence in an equally scientifically-illiterate echo chamber will do that to you. Project much?

          • Paul Shipley

            So I am off to Turkey next month. They say to get vaccination for Typhoid. Should I get the vaccination or risk getting this serious disease that could kill me or shorten my life. I think I may be too old to get autism, dementia maybe but not autism.

          • Maurinemeleck

            Alzherimers-especially if it has aluminum in it

          • Paul Shipley

            But it doesn’t, not even mercury, too late I have had I now. I have no hope. Turkey will be fun though. Anyway I thought that they had proven that it was over active proteins that caused alzheimers by blocking pathways and preventing healthy cells. Not the old wives tale myth of aluminium.

          • notation

            Cite, please. Where is your proof that Alzherimers (sic) is caused by aluminum, vaccines, mercury, or whatever mumbo-jumbo the anti-vax community is blaming these days.

          • notation

            You CAN find science. You just don’t know how to separate the wheat from the chaff or the real science from the woo.

            I don’t “trust” the CDC so much as I distrust hysterics like you who have NO research by any credible sources to back up your beliefs.

      • Dominic Michael Salerno

        This in some ways mirrors climate debate. When 97% of scientists have come to consensus on a topic and 3% don’t agree, they are pretty well discredited. The sad truth is that a vocal minority can reinforce the world views of crackpot community of luddites. You are being told what you want to hear and it appears to you as a one on one debate. It is not.

        • Maurinemeleck

          In reality you are being told what you want to hear and what the governmental/medical complex wants you to hear and believe. It’s all political. Keep the drug companies happy, keep the money flowing in and peoples’ tax money going out to the government and its big corporations Kind of like those terrible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, right? You are being rolled over with lies and you choose to believe them because no doubt “your country right or wrong.”

        • Twylaa

          You have it backwards, Dominic. Vaccine injury denial is like global warming denial.

          • notation

            No, it is not. At all.

          • AutismDadd

            Whoa, what a comeback!

    • Twylaa

      And one more coming out soon:
      Plague – One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and other Diseases

      by Kent Heckenlively and Judy Midovits

      And of course these classics:
      Evidence of Harm – by David Kirby
      Age of Autism – by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
      Vaccine Epidemic – by Mary Holland and Louise Kuo Habakus

  • Maurinemeleck

    Educate yourselves and do what you think is right and healthy for yourselves and your children. Vaccine choice and parental consent.
    It’s no different than any other medical choice you will make. vaccines are a drug and it is everyone’s choicer whether or not to have it injected into one’s body or the bodies of our children. Regardless of where you stand on this issue-vaccine choice is the last word.

    • JH

      Choose for yourself. Your children can’t make a rational choice. They should receive the vaccine.

  • mmiddle

    “I’m completely f—— alone on this,” he said.

    Can’t someone help him, aside from just telling him that, logically and scientifically, he’s wrong? He seems to fit the profile described in this New Yorker comment (; can’t someone close to him act compassionately on its insights? Or point out that a less dangerous approach to the same issue would be mercury in dental amalgams. He may have conceded the pediatric angle of vaccination, but the anti-vaxxers who have cultivated him are still insisting on it, and by now he is fully identified with them.

    • Twylaa

      Plenty of people have told him he’s wrong, but he is actually right about the toxicity of thimerosal.

  • Kate Perry

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  • Twylaa

    It is interesting to see the spin. Apparently the PR folks are advising that if you just repeat something often enough people will believe it is true. Recently we kept hearing that all vaccine concerns arise from Dr. Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy, which is ridiculous. Vaccine concerns are grass roots — arising from the many people who have seen adverse vaccine reactions, as more and more vaccines are recommended for everyone.

    Now we are being told that only a small lunatic fringe believes in a link between vaccines and autism, and that Science has spoken – no link. Neither of those is true.

    The late Dr. Bernadine Healy – IOM member and former director of the NIH – told CBS News:

    “According to Healy, when she began researching autism and vaccines she found credible published, peer-reviewed scientific studies that support the idea of an association. That seemed to counter what many of her colleagues had been saying for years. She dug a little deeper and was surprised to find that the government has not embarked upon some of the most basic research that could help answer the question of a link. The more she dug, she says, the more she came to believe the government and medical establishment were intentionally avoiding the question because they were afraid of the answer.”

    Here is one of many reports of vaccine induced autism, as told by football player Rodney Peete in his book, “Not my boy”:

    “R.J. was more than hitting his milestones. He was hitting them early. He was strong and very well coordinated for a little guy. He started to walk before he hit ten months. I couldn’t help but think we already had the next in a long line of Peete athletic prodigies.

    “R.J. was quick mentally too. I would be amazed by the way he could figure things out. As Holly and I moved around the kitchen getting their meals, he watched how we opened the childproof cabinet doors. Around the time he said his first words, at twelve months, he had figured out how to open those doors himself…

    “We thought R.J. was a lot like I had been as a kid: social and adventurous, with a little streak of mischief in him…

    “A few months before they hit that two-year mark, Holly took the twins in for a checkup with our pediatrician…

    “Holly was sitting in another examining room holding on to Ryan, when she heard R.J. screaming, “No! Mommy!” She ran to R.J. and saw that the nurse had given him the MMR plus the second hepatitis B and the polio vaccines…

    “At home that night, R.J. had a terrible fever and started shaking violently, just short of something like a seizure. Holly called the pediatrician to ask him what could have caused this. Should we take R.J. to the hospital? The doctor was unruffled and told us that it was not a reaction to the shots. He recommended that we give R.J. some Tylenol to help him with the fever and he promised that R.J. would be fine. R.J. had a terrible reaction to the Tylenol and we rushed him to the emergency room late that night. We believe he went into some kind of toxic overload shock. After that, we didn’t hear the words ‘Mommy’ or ‘No’ for about four years.”

    This is real. These accounts are all over the place. It’s not only about thimerosal. It’s about too many vaccines too soon, and about denial of obvious problems.

    I saw my daughter have a “febrile” seizure after receiving the MMR and varicela vaccines at the same time. Fortunately, she recuperated and is ok. Thank goodness we did not give even more vaccines at the same time, and that she did not have heightened susceptibility to injury. Perhaps if she were a boy there would have been lasting sequelae. We are told that febrile seizures are harmless. But don’t these lend credibility to the more serious adverse reactions to vaccines, including ongoing seizures, encephalitis, and encephalopathy?

    We are constantly mocked for seeing a link between vaccines and autism, yet we know that vaccines can injure the brain. That’s why encephalitis and encephalopathy are on the HRSA vaccine injury table, and listed on vaccine package inserts.

  • Twylaa

    As Dr. Jay Gordon said, “I expressed my heartfelt reservations about both vaccines and the polarizing of this issue into “pro-vaccine” and ‘anti-vaccine’ camps. I told you that there was at least a third ‘camp.’ There are many doctors and even more parents who would like a more judicious approach to immunization. Give vaccines later, slower and with an individualized approach as we do in every other area of medicine.”

  • Vito Alexander Pavlovic

    Vaccines are dangerous in general, and nobody believes a vaccine shill defender any way, the supreme court said “vaccines are unavoidably unsafe”, get it!

  • lifebiomedguru

    Lazy is a great word to describe Dr. Offit. If only it were just him being lazy.

  • barbarajanov

    someone needs to listen to Dr.Burbacher’s presentation to really understand that ethylmercury leaves behind inorganic mercury in the brain, causing inflammation in the areas associated with autism..and perhaps Read James Lyons-Weilers new book.. and burbacher’s

  • barbarajanov
  • p.r.s

    Mr. Kloor, you repeatedly state that studies have demonstrated the safety of Mercury (and I’m assuming Aluminum) in vaccines. Can you produce these studies or those that have assessed the risk: benefit on the current vaccine schedule recommended by the CDC? (Approx 70+ ) I’m referring to the CUMULATIVE schedule. Can you please direct me to the studies conducted on the safety of multiple vaccines at once? Can you show me the studies the experts conducted on any cross reactivity, synergistic effects? Also, can you post the long term risk analysis of those receiving the total schedule vs partial vaccines or non-vax? I have exhaustively looked, but can’t find them. I’m sure they exist, since the science is settled.

    • Dip

      Neither of those are in vaccines. Try learning the difference between compounds and elements.

      • p.r.s

        Aluminum and mercury are in vaccines. Not a state secret..I know the difference bt a compound and element…your stalling.. still waiting…. studies, links, references all welcome.

        • Dip

          If you know the difference then that makes your inaccurate statement worse, not better since it means you’re deliberately stating false things i.e. lying. Unless of course you can fill an old-style thermometer with thimerosal and have it accurately measure the temperature.



          All from Google Scholar


        • 655321

          You’re “debating” an industry paid lair.

  • Bernadette Pajer

    A cancer study published in May 2016 at last revealed the mechanism by which thimerosal can cause not just autism but many other disorders/diseases by its ability to downegulate the ERAP1 gene. This gene is responsible for peptide trimming, which has been impaired in those with autism.

    “Screening Identifies Thimerosal as a Selective Inhibitor of Endoplasmic Reticulum Aminopeptidase 1”

    And a brand new book called THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND GENETIC CAUSES OF AUTISM, by PhD geneticist James Lyons-Weiler, examines the GxE connection — genetic susceptibility to environmental toxins, such as thimerosal and aluminum in vaccines. Here is a link to the studies in the book.

    The thimerosal study and this book vindicate millions of parents worldwide who have witnessed their children become injured and sickened by vaccines and been ignored or belittled by the medical establishment. Another book called VACCINES AND AUTOIMMUNITY provides yet more proof.

    The time for vaccine reform is NOW. It would have happened decades ago had vaccine makers not been granted protection by the 1986 NVICA. As Justice Sotomayor said in 2011, no one is responsible for ensuring that current science is incorporated into vaccine design or use. In such a regulatory vacuum, many profit, and through billion-dollar marketing budgets, the injured and those who attempt to stand up for them are belittled. No more. The science exists. Reform must begin today.

    • AutismDadd

      This is why they say autism is genetic. They just don’t include the vaccine’s role in it.

  • barbarajanov read the studies involved in the production of this book, this is science folks..not the stale stories as told to us by pharma connected individuals who seem to be “everywhere” to dispute actual science ,.this list can keep us busy until the book comes out in the next few days. I’m certain it’s going to be the most important book this year to address the causes of autism!!

  • sabelmouse

    ”no leading public health advocate shares Kennedy’s view.”
    no pharma influenced shill should be the term here.

  • RB
  • RB

    Please explain to me how a CDC employee like William Thompson can find vaccines cause autism in their 2004 MMR study and that this is somehow not significant.


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Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at

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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