Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine

Reactions to the Schechter and Grether vaccine/autism study on

I’ve pointed out before how MotheringDotCom and its associated discussion forums are supportive havens for the worst antivaccinationists, HIV/AIDS denialists, and anti-amalgam wingnuts, which is one reason why I do not recommend them for any parent as a source of health information. So, out of curiosity, before I move on to other topics tomorrow, I was curious what the reaction on the MDC discussion boards was to the study by Schechter and Grether yesterday that provided strong evidence against a link between the mercury in thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) and autism/autism spectrum disorders.

Not surprisingly, there was quite the buzz in which the stupid really does burn, but surprisingly there were a couple of voices of reason as well.

First, we have the introduction of the article, complete with the usual conspiracy-mongering by a poster named daisymommy:

Of course I don’t believe they’re correct. I just wish Hillary was around to look at who it was that did the study, their methodology, etc. Because obviously something is wrong here. Am I remembering correctly, that the Department of Public Health who did the study is a FDA/government funded agency? Which would explain everything right there.

I’m not sure what, if anything, Hillary Clinton has to do with any of this, but it’s nice to see the usual blanket dismissal of a study whose results you don’t like if the government had anything to do with it. Now, amazingly, here’s the voice of reason:

I think the thimerosal argument has been very well canvased both in recent studies and through the ongoing trials. Personally, I don’t see a link and it is becoming a less viable theory as time goes on. Eventually we will get the study funded by congress in front of us and the results of the trials…I think by then the need for a new theory will become clear.

But I could be wrong, but the preponderance of the evidence so far does not seem to say so.

It’s an understatement, of course, to say that the evidence “does not seem” to support a link, but give her credit for trying. I just hope she isn’t banned as a “pro-vaccine” type under the rules of the forums:

MotheringDotCommune is a community forum geared toward parents interested in Natural Family Living. On the issues of vaccinations we believe in informed consent. This means we look at both sides of the vaccine issue. However, one of our objectives, and for which members and guests come to our forum, is to bring to light the information that is not mainstream and readily available.

Recently, we have seen several members join MDC who seem to have an agenda to promote vaccinations. Though Mothering does not take a pro or anti stand on vaccinations, we will not host threads on the merits of mandatory vaccine, or a purely pro vaccination view point as this is not conducive to the learning process.

We will be contacting several members to discuss their sincerity on MDC. In the meantime, we are asking our members not to quote from this notice or address members within a thread as this is strictly prohibited. Instead, contact a forum moderator or administrator if you are concerned about a post and we will take appropriate action if need be.

“Not conducive to the learning process”? More like not conducive to woo-friendly board contributors maintaining their little bubble of mutually supportive antivaccination wingnuttery. Nasty skeptics pointing out that the evidence does not support the idea of “vaccine injury” as a cause for autism are like that. They tend not to abide such foolishness and like to pop that protective little bubble.

Perhaps the dumbest statement that I saw came from someone using the ‘nym anewmama:

I always feel that if the evidence is so clear that vaccines are not contributing either in a primary or secondary way to autism, then there should be some evidence pointing towards what is creating the epidemic of autism. It makes NO sense to me that they are so easily ruled out. If their study IS in fact so thorough and so scientific, then there should be in the end something to point towards what is causing it other than just a the blanket statements such as “the definition has changed, more are diagnosed with autism, better diagnostic tools.” Even if that IS the case, this still doesn’t explain why there is so much autism. Why teachers are finding it so much harder to teach and help their students. There is clearly a rise that goes beyond just definitions.

No, there is not “clearly” a rise that goes beyond definitions. There may be, but it’s far from clear. Also, “other evidence” does point towards what is creating the “epidemic” (which is not an epidemic) of autism. Just because anewmama is ignorant of the other evidence pointing towards primarily genetic causes of autism does not mean that it doesn’t exist. It does, and she should take the time to educate herself before spouting off so ignorantly.

If you want an example of the arrogance of ignorance, the MotheringDotCom forums are for you.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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