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Still more evidence that it’s all about the vaccines: Behold the power of the mercury militia

I’ve written a few posts now pointing out how, its claims that it is not “antivaccine” notwithstanding, for the mercury militia and those who think mercury in vaccines or vaccines themselves cause autism, it really is all about the vaccines, not any single ingredient, even mercury. I first noticed this nearly three years ago, and, if anything, recent events have made my observation even more obviously true. As multiple studies have exonerated the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal that was formerly found in most childhood vaccines and now only remains in trace amounts in flu vaccines, predictably, the mercury militia, now joined by bubbleheaded celebrity mothers like Jenny McCarthy, has started blathering about “toxins” in vaccines.

As I beheld the power of the mercury militia as it, “despite single-digit temperatures,” produced a “double-digit crowd” to protest in front of the headquarters of the American Academy of Pediatrics in suburban Chicago for having the temerity to write a letter of protest about an ABC drama that propagated the scientifically discredited claim that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism and trying to fight fire with fire as far as compelling anecdotes go, I saw yet again one more bit of evidence that it is indeed all about the vaccines. As I fail utterly upon viewing the photographs of the protest to resist the not-so-nice temptation to point out that the entire barely “double digit” crowd looks as though it could have fit nicely in a VW microbus, I couldn’t help but notice the signs carried by members of the crowd. A new slogan based on the fallacious idiocy about all the “toxins” in vaccines appears to be the new propaganda tool of the antivaccination movement: “Green our vaccines!” Great job, especially coupled with that other sign that shows a skull and crossbones with the crossbones replaced by syringes and the slogan “Stop poisoning our children!” emblazoned across the top!

The stupid, it burns, although apparently not enough to melt the snow near the AAP headquarters.

But if you want still more evidence that it’s all about the vaccines, not any single ingredient in them, just listen to the speakers. For example, there was Dr. Mayer Eisenstein. We’ve met Dr. Eisenstein before as the Director of Homefirst Medical Services and a person who, despite boasting a degree in public health and law, made claims that unvaccinated children were healthier and had no autism without a single shred of scientific or epidemiological evidence, even from his practice, to back it up, just vague “impressions.”

Let’s see what he had to say:

Another speaker at the rally was Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, who leads Homefirst Medical Services in Chicago. That practice, as Age of Autism has reported, has thousands of never-vaccinated kids and virtually no cases of autism or asthma.

“I was raised by not only a wonderful mother but a wonderful grandmother,” Eisenstein told the crowd, “and I look around here and I see mothers and grandmothers here telling everyone there is a problem. Being raised by a mother and a grandmother, when mothers and grandmothers talk, Mayer listens.

“I woke up this morning and looked around and I said, you know, there’s no mercury in the thermometers, there’s no mercury in the contact solution, the saline solution, and we’re told not to eat fish with mercury. Does it make any sense that we should inject mercury into our children?

“But mercury isn’t the only issue,” said Eisenstein, who also has a law degree and a master’s of public health. “As an attorney, I learned in law school you never limit yourself. I look at some of the signs here, we’ve got mercury, aluminum, antifreeze, aborted tissue and monkey kidney — ‘a recipe for disaster.’ I defy anyone in that building to come out here and drink a cocktail that contains all these types of ingredients.”

The crowd cheered.

Yep, there he goes mindlessly parroting the exceedingly idiotic “toxinscanard and repeating his evidence-free claim that the unvaccinated do not get autism. He also seems to think that thimerosal is still in vaccines, even though it’s been gone since early 2002, and even the flu vaccine is available in thimerosal-free versions. Indeed, children’s exposure to mercury from vaccines is lower now than it’s been in at least 25 years. Don’t even get me started on the even more brain dead “tissue from aborted fetuses” gambit. This guy is a doctor and he doesn’t know the difference between using a cell line that was derived from an aborted fetus back in the 1960s to culture the virus necessary to make certain vaccines and using “tissue from aborted fetuses”? Even the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t instruct Catholics not to vaccinate because of the use of this cell line! Actually, my sneaking suspicion is that Dr. Eisenstein actually does know the difference but has chosen to lie because he knows saying “tissue from aborted fetuses” is far more horrifying than saying “growing up viruses in a cultured cell line derived from an aborted fetus 45 years ago,” particularly to religious fundamentalists.

I can only conclude that Dr. Eisenstein is either ignorant (doesn’t know the difference between cultured cells and tissue) or dishonest (he knows but uses the inflammatory version anyway). Take your pick.

Completing the picture is antivaccinationist and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, David Ayoub, who suitably whipped up the crowd:

Also speaking at the rally was Dr. David Ayoub, a radiologist from Springfield. Asked why he was attending, Ayoub said: “I have had some close interactions with AAP people and I lobbied quite a bit in Illinois at several hearings and testified in Massachusetts and interacted early on with the Illinois State Chapter president. This is when I first found out what was going on and I thought they were legitimately uninformed, and so we had several conversations and e-mails back and forth and it didn’t take me too long to figure out they pretty much know what’s going on.”

“They know what?” Age of Autism asked.

“They know vaccines cause autism, I don’t think there’s any question.

When you get to interact with them and really talk to them about the science of causality … you realize that what they’re doing with you is they’re pandering.


“And when they post on their Web site, thimerosal doesn’t go to the brain, you realize that they’ve really crossed the line. It’s a matter of scientific integrity. No organization of this caliber could ignore some of that science. So they’re really spinning to the public, but when you push it and talk to them scientifically, they falter. They fall on their face. They show their true color.”

Some things never change, I guess, and Ayoub’s paranoia is one of them. According to him, the AAP, CDC, FDA, big pharma, and the Illuminati all know that vaccines cause autism but are hiding it from parents. Of course, get a load of how Dan Olmsted argument about why we should take the claims of a radiologist untrained in pediatrics or autism seriously when he blames vaccines for autism (I wonder if he knows about Ayoub’s apparent belief that vaccines are a population control plot by the Illuminati):

Ayoub is not a pediatrician and does not have an affected child, but another of the several doctors attending the rally told me that radiologists and pathologists are the smartest and best-informed members of the medical profession. “They look at pictures,” he said, “and the rest of the time they sit around and read.” By contrast, he said, pediatricians are overworked and rely on multiple brief visits for their income; if their trade association (the AAP) reassures them they are causing no harm, most have neither the time nor the wherewithal – nor the financial freedom – to challenge that.

I nearly spit my drink onto my laptop when I read this! I would still be laughing now were it not for my realization of the utter contempt this view shows for pediatricians and family practice docs causing my laughter to die rather quickly.

As for the alleged brilliance of radiologists, radiology residencies may indeed be very competitive to get into, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean that the smarts of a radiologist translate to areas in which they have no training or especially to conditions that do not have much in the way of radiological findings–conditions such as autism. Moreover, that very disconnect, in which radiologists who don’t do invasive therapeutic procedures read films but do not treat patients could just as easily be argued as a reason why radiologists tend to be out of touch with clinical medicine. Also, if Ayoub is so smart, why is it that he is such a conspiracy theorist?

I suppose we’re going to have to get ready for more of the same here. Jenny McCarthy is now trying to organize a protest in warmer weather (June 27) at the CDC in Atlanta. Maybe if she and her boyfriend Jim Carrey put up the money to transport and house all the protesters, given the location (Atlanta in the summer) Dan Olmsted will be able to breathlessly report, “Despite triple digit temperatures, a near triple digit crowd showed up.”

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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