Captain's Quarters Blog

« Ahh, Democrats ... They're So Cute When They Play Make-Believe | Main | NDP: Ethics Commissioner A Lapdog, Not A Watchdog »

June 17, 2005
Salon, Rolling Stone Team Up To Promote Pseudoscience

ABC plans to broadcast an interview with Robert Kennedy, Jr on the supposed link between autism and thimerosal in children's vaccines. Salon and Rolling Stone paired up to run an article on this subject earlier called Deadly Immunity, which advocates the fear-mongering about the supposed dangers of life-saving vaccinations. The blog Respectful Insolence takes Salon, Rolling Stone, and Kennedy apart over the biased presentation and the scientific ignorance displayed in the article:

It's a one-sided account by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. of the supposed link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism that is being promoted by antivaccine activists as an indictment of the government and pharmaceutical companies. ...

The article repeats the usual canard about how autism was unknown before the 1940's, which, coincidentally was when thimerosal-containing vaccines were first used. The article even goes so far as to claim:

The disease was unknown until 1943, when it was identified and diagnosed among 11 children born in the months after thimerosal was first added to baby vaccines in 1931.

No, the reason the disease was "unknown" until 1943 was because it was not described as a specific condition by Dr. Leo Kanner until 1943, after which Dr. Hans Asperger described a similar condition that now bears his name in 1944. Before that, although Dr. Eugen Bleuler had coined the term "autism" in 1911, no specific diagnostic criteria existed for the disease. Even for decades after 1943 autism was not infrequently confused with mental retardation or schizophrenia, and over the last two decades the diagnostic criteria for autism and autism spectum disorders have been widened. In any case, if thimerosal in vaccines were the cause of autism, we would expect autism rates in Denmark and Canada to have plummeted recently, because Denmark eliminated thimerosal from its vaccines by 1995 and Canada removed them around the same time. No such decrease in autism rates has occurred in either country, even though there has been more than enough time for such a decrease to make itself apparent if there were truly a link between mercury exposure and autism. I would ask the mercury-autism activists: If this particular correlation does mean causation, if mercury in thimerosal is indeed a major cause or contributor to autism, why is it, then, that autism rates have not started to fall dramatically in Denmark and Canada by now? That there has been no such decrease is very strong epidemiological evidence that there is no link.

Orac, a surgeon and a scientist, has plenty more to say on this issue. Hopefully ABC will present a more balanced and less sensational look at the thimerosal issue than either Salon or Rolling Stone apparently delivered.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 17, 2005 4:35 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Salon, Rolling Stone Team Up To Promote Pseudoscience:

» Thimerosal Again from Dangerous Dan
You may recall these two posts about thimersal in vaccines and the harmful accusations that it causes autism. Read over them, but in short, the accusations are bunk. Now, via Captain's Quarters, ABC, Rolling Stone, and Salon are jumping on this bandw... [Read More]

Tracked on June 17, 2005 11:18 PM

» Barking moonbattery at The Huffington Post from Trolling In Shallow Water
When I was an undergraduate in physics and astronomy, one of the other students in the department, who I will call Scott Johnson1, came up with a novel theory of quasars (distant exploding galaxies.) Scott suggested that they were the result of nucle... [Read More]

Tracked on June 18, 2005 5:30 AM

» Mercury, autism and childhood vaccine issue become from Craig Westover
I was afraid of this -- the politicizing of the link between autism and childhood vaccinations. Case in point -- my good friend Captain Ed writes today about the “pseudoscientific” link between autism and thimerosal in children’s va... [Read More]

Tracked on June 20, 2005 9:31 AM

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!