At many websites, in innumerable leaflets, in the "introduction" paragraphs that adorn almost all journal papers, and even in the book "Autism: The Facts" by Simon Baron-Cohen, the reader is liable to get misled by some of the statements. This is partly because some of these authors think it useful to provide a dumbed-down idiots' guide explanation for people who are supposedly too busy to spend a little more time learning a proper understanding.
Firstly, the myth that the human race can be divided into those who "have" autism and those who do not "have" autism. Or as they alternatively put it, those who are "on the spectrum" and those who are not. Or those who are autistic and those who are neurotypical. In reality there is no such distinction, it is merely the human races' obsession with sorting people into categories operating here. It is no more sensible to say that someone is "on the autistic spectrum" than it is to say that a person who is 6 ft 1 inch tall is therefore "on the biggism spectrum", or "has biggism". Rather we are all on this "spectrum" together to greater or lesser extent.
Secondly the myth that Aspergers is distinct from autism. This distinction arose merely because Kanner and Asperger simultaneously came up with these ideas in separate countries. Sixty years of research has since failed to establish any clear distinction but instead a huge amount of commonality.
(Review of Asperger's/Autism relationship by Tony Attwood.)
Thirdly the myth that autism is properly described in terms of a "triad of impairments". On the contrary a whole collection of characteristics of the autistic syndrome was long ago listed in the table of Wing 1976, which you can also find in my 1993 paper linked at the top here. When researchers can't explain some fact, they tend to prefer to just forget about it, and so this pseudic simplification took on a conveniently flattering life of its own.
Fourthly, if a person prefers to be alone, prefers reading a book to going to a party, and is lost for words on meeting a person they want to speak to, this does not mean they are even slightly autistic or Aspergeric. Rather they may be just be very introverted. And introversion is entirely different from and unrelated to autism etc.
Those who say this are in effect saying exactly the same as "Hello, I am a mindless herd-following sheep. I've noticed that none of the rest of the herd is heading your way, so I fail to see any reason why I should either. Baahh!"
Indeed, why think for yourself when you can just let others do your thinking for you instead?
"~Independent-minded~"? -- Baahh!
(See also description in Anna Karenina chapter 3.)
There's a popular myth that corruption in science consists mainly of people falsifying their data, like hitting the delete key and substituting some false numbers to fit the required conclusions. But from studying many papers over the years, I have concluded that such outright fabrication is actually rather rare, at least in a field such as autism research.
Instead the corruption works in ways that are more subtle, but also more solidly demonstrable. Instances of these more subtle distortions can individually be pretended to be mere misunderstandings or mistakes. Thus any particular case cannot alone constitute proof of corruption. It is only when a pattern of such "mistakes" begins to show up that the conclusion of a trend of corruption becomes clear. That's what is happening now.
The techniques of this subtle corruption include:
-selecting methods which are well-known to be incorrect;
-making agenda-convenient errors in one's calculations;
-avoiding and even preventing proper studies being carried out which would provide the honest answers;
-misrepresenting the literature by pretending into non-existence the truthful evidence while prominently trumpeting the worthless studies as supposedly sound evidence; and
-deploying false arguments (including attacking of "straw man" positions).
The great thing about these techniques is that only people with sufficient knowledge and understanding can see through what is going on, and they are usually the same people who are career-compromised by being stuck in the corrupted institutional setting. This corruption thereby sucks in and corrupts honest people too.
One way to produce misleading false negative results is to select tests which are well-known not to work. It has long been known that blood and urine levels are useless as tests of chronic mercury poisoning.
In this connection I draw to your attention this quotation from 1964:
“Those investigators who have studied the subject are in almost unanimous agreement that there is a poor correlation between the urinary excretion of mercury and the occurrence of demonstrable evidence of poisoning.”
‑‑Goldwater LJ, Ladd AC, Jacobs MG: Absorption and excretion of mercury in man. Arch Environ Health 9, 735-741 ( 1964)
and also this joint statement of the National Institute of Dental Health and the American Dental Association in 1984:
“The distribution of mercury into the body tissues is highly variable and there appears to be little correlation between levels in urine, blood or hair and toxic effects.”
—NIDH/ADA Workshop on Biocompatibility of Metals, Journal of the American Dental Association 109, September 1984.
Even my general practitioner was able to tell me this in 2006. It is the reason why Holmes used hair mercury and Bradstreet used chelation challenge instead of just measuring blood or urine. Hertz-Picciotto et al. (2010) used this well-known-useless blood mercury measure and found no difference between autistics and controls. Meanwhile DeSoto and Hitlan (2010) have shown that the other two studies that supposedly show no mercury-autism connection, Ip et al. (2004) and Soden et al. (2007), were flawed to the extent that they actually show the opposite. Those three very misleading studies have since been cited by certain senior experts as the supposed proof that there is no involvement of mercury in autism.
Rush et al. (2009) purported to show that chelation causes more harm than good, but in reality their procedure was utterly unrelated to any real-world chelation therapy. It purports an ignorance of even the most basic principle of chelation therapy (namely removing the toxin from the body) and substitutes a straw-man fallacious in-situ “detoxification” concept of its own. It is just as impossible to carry out a test of chelation in vitro (or in this case "in tissue") as it is impossible to venture out on a test drive of a car engine which is standing isolated from the car body on a mechanic's bench. When a dentist drills your tooth it instantly creates more pain than was there already. But we don't validly infer from that that dental treatment is counterproductive; because the treatment has to be evaluated as a whole.
The latest of these misleading studies, being widely paraded in triumph, is:
The NIH would have you believe that this shows
"Succimer found ineffective for removing mercury"
(In other words chelation supposedly can't help autistics, in defiance of all the huge "merely anecdotal claims" that it does.)
In reality, these investigators selected a useless procedure that any half-competent person would know would produce the wrong result. I explained in a previous post that there are many ways of using or misusing a chelator, some of which are sure to make matters worse rather than better. Here's a well-founded comment I found about this trash: "This trial had severe flaws in the dosing protocol - very large doses of DMSA (400mg+) were given to children once a day continuously for nearly a month along with some minerals (including iron and copper which Andy does not recommend) but without specific antioxidant support. I really feel sorry for the kids participating in this study. Unfortunately there will be some people who glance at the headline and wrongly conclude that DMSA is not a useful chelator."
Meanwhile, several years on, no official trials have been carried out to test whether chelation does not work. The one trial that started was halted by the US medical authorities.
Oh, but hang on, the website of Pretend-to-Research-Autism mentions that the NIMH is running "three major trials of the chelator N-acetyl-cysteine". But NAC is definitely not a chelator. It certainly doesn't equate to the genuine protocols that huge numbers of parents have been having such success with (thus producing the "spontaneous" recoveries their doctors are now starting to report). Those same "Research Autism" charlatans place a maximum danger warning against chelation despite failing to cite a single shred of evidence of that supposed danger.
You can also see elsewhere here the abundance of consistently false arguments deployed in the supposedly-wonderful books by Paul Offit and Michael Fitzpatrick.
There's also last year's report from the UK NHS, wheeled out to pretend that there's been no increase anyway (the same NHS that resorts to so many untruths to prevent me getting treatment for the disability it caused).
So you can see here what looks to me like all the distortions I listed above being deployed in the service of a crime against the victims of this catastrophe which was caused by experts in the first place.
If the average person or even average graduate applied to become a researcher at any of these institutes they'd be laughed out the door. And likewise if they tried to get a publisher for one of those books. The people who are involved in making these "mistakes" have passed through numerous years of university education, have very advanced qualifications, not infrequently have been awarded superlative honours for their supposedly great contributions to science. And yet is it these supposedly great intellectual superiors who are producing and endorsing this trash-"science" in the service of an ongoing abuse of victims.
But I see no reason to believe that all those involved are consciously engaged in deceit (under duress or not). Many people are compromised by tendencies to suppress from consciousness any disturbing doubts, questions and facts. They eagerly "learn" "authoritative" information unquestioningly. They unconsciously avoid the inconvenient ideas and choose the personally convenient ones instead. They "sincerely" believe their falsehoods. And yet, still, there is no honour in their conduct here. Self-serving false beliefs are no more worthy for being "sincerely" believed, any more than a tiger's conduct can be classed as acceptable on the grounds that it has no sense of anything wrong with killing people.
"The IACC seems to have extremely few committee members who understand the biomedical treatments that parents are having so much success with. Why are there no Defeat Autism Now (DAN) doctors on this committee?! This makes no sense not to involve the most successful practitioners," [....]
"As a parent who went the "mainstream route" for seven years before turning to the more alternative approach of the DAN doctors, I can say there is no comparison. I got absolutely NOWHERE with the mainstream approach, yet had almost miraculous results with the DAN approach. As a healthcare professional myself, I have to wonder what has happened to our medical integrity? Why are we not only avoiding researching treatments that seem to be helping many, but actively attacking those brave doctors who are truly trying to help? It makes no sense!"
No, K. Macdonald, it makes perfect sense.
Some are arguing that it is only right and fair that OSR#1 should have to undergo the same testing process as any drug coming from big pharma corps. Let's for the sake of argument suppose that this supposed scientific equivalence between OSR#1 and pharma drugs is valid.
Here's a rather more fitting comparison. My update review proves that the medical agent which absolutely certainly caused the autism increase was the non-gamma-2 dental amalgams that were introduced mainly from the 1970s onwards. Those non-gamma-2 were not tested for toxicity at the time, and they have still not been subjected to toxicity tests. There have been no studies of whether they cause autism. There have been no randomised controlled trials (other than two very limited and flawed ones confined to mid-childhood ages, equally incapable of detecting autism causation as of detecting chronic adult poisoning).
So if the treatment that is so desperately needed for the medically-caused autism is to be banned from use by the victim parents and children....
....why is not the highly-toxic dental amalgam likewise being immediately withdrawn from use until safety has been proven by proper trials?
P.S.: The following is a commentary from Prof Haley:
"OSR#1 was removed from the market by the FDA as they claimed it was not a dietary product even though its structure consists of a benzoate (found in apples and cranberries) and cysteamine (a metabolite made from cysteine and in the pathway to make taurine, also found on the terminal end of Coenzyme-A). Our lawyers said we would likely win if we contested the FDA claim, but that it would take a year and cost a huge amount of money. Then the FDA would have another claim against OSR, in that physicians and patients were making claims on blog sites (we never made any medical claim on our website) that OSR caused a rapid and significant improvement in their various medical conditions. The FDA has a mantra that dietary products cannot have a positive medical effect---and if they do they are considered by the FDA as drugs. Our lawyer said we would not win regarding this issue."
(See also misleading scare-publicity issued by the FDA this month.)
The authors reckon that they can usefully analyse the autism increase curve by making an approximation of it in terms of two straight lines. They then point out that the junction of the two lines, the "changepoint", at which they suggest the autism increase began, is about 1988-9.
In reality, just about any curve of roughly exponential increase form can have a couple of straight lines imposed on it such as to passably plausibly account for the entire data set. Especially if you set the time axis long enough so the increase will look like an abrupt event rather than a gradual one.
Nice correlations can be found for each line with its corresponding part of the data, and impressively high significance levels pointed out. It does not however follow that the increase is usefully understood in terms of such pairs of lines.
The paper of McDonald and Paul features remarkably small graphs of the increase, which tend to give the impression that there was no increase before their "changepoint". And they use a whopping 50-year timespan. It would be better to have larger (taller) graphs around the critical period so we can examine the end of the "level" section more closely.
I will put here this superb graph of the US IDEA data that others have kindly prepared. (Right-click it to open an enlargement in a separate window.)
(Graph provided by Thoughtful House Center for Children,
Graphing IDEA Professional 2010, Thoughtful House, Austin, TX,
Accessed at http://www.thoughtfulhouse.org/disabilities/ on November 19, 2010.)
It should be quite obvious from this graph that there was not some abrupt changepoint around 1988, and not around any other year either.
One can also see that the increase was already beginning by 1980. This is nicely in line with the update review of the antiinnatia theory in which I state that the cause of the increase was the introduction of non-gamma-2 dental amalgams in the 1970s. (Among other evidence, the world's most famous dentist, Hal Huggins, said they became the new "state of the art" in 1975-6.)
Furthermore there is a conspicuous de-steepening of the gradient at 1992-3. I expect that this was due to some minor improvement of the amalgam usage protocol, such as avoiding for pregnant women, a slightly less toxic formulation, or improved suction systems.
I would not have commented on this "changepoint" paper except that it has been cited by Andrew Wakefield and some Age of Autism people as supposedly showing that the start of increase coincided with some changes in vaccination usage. No it didn't.
What evidence there is of effectiveness of chelation for autism, and what evidence that there is no mercury-autism connection anyway.
Those superiors who beam down their contempt for conspiracy theorising may be unduly believing in the opposite which we might call "integrity theorising". And the older I get the less and less evidence I see for any truth of such integrity theories!
Conspiracy theorising is limited in the contribution it can make towards resolving medical questions, but I think it can help. Here are two relevant “conspiracy theories” that are supported by so much evidence that I can’t even begin to present it here.
(1) Those who cause a great harm are inclined to go to great lengths to deflect blame from themselves. The medical establishment is well-aware that some of the sources of mercury exposure are from themselves, not least dental amalgam. So it has great hostility to any suggestion of mercury involvement in autism.
(2) One of the most profitable industries in history is Big Pharma. They have for numerous decades engaged in dirty tricks propaganda designed to suppress competition from alternatives to their own patented products. A million dollars spent on propaganda is peanuts to them. And just think how much more you could achieve if you had just one of those millions of dollars to deploy.
There has been a lot of misrepresentation of chelation therapy, not least because it is a whole new approach to treatment, not properly fitting into the categories of either nutrients or conventional drugs. Just as you would not lump together all pharma-drugs or all nutrients as if they were just one treatment, so you should not lump together all chelation treatments. Huge numbers have been killed by prescribed drugs, but we do not seriously argue that therefore all drugs should be banned.
There’s also been a lot of misrepresentation of chelation because even many of those who promote it are incompetent, having little understanding of what is involved.
In my experience the unequalled mercury chelation expert is Andrew Hall Cutler who worked out how to cure himself of “amalgam illness” as he calls it. There’s no substitute for reading his slightly pricey book titled “Amalgam Illness”. But you can get to the key part of it by finding it on Amazon.com (not co.uk), and clicking the “Look inside”, then searching for the word “avid” which will take you to page 201. Page 199 onwards explains the essence of competent chelation, and of why incompetent chelation can be rather harmful. It’s simply the difference between brute ignorance and knowledge of the simple principles, not some amazing rocket-science expertise or great skill.
The purpose of chelation is, as per the diagrams on pages 200-201, to remove the toxin from the body. EDTA is not good for mercury detox; AHC explicitly condemned its use in this 1999 book. For adult amalgam illness he recommends only a specific protocol of (optional) DMSA for lowering the general body levels, followed only later by the (necessary) use of ALA which enables transport out from the brain (but also into it which is why the outside-of-brain levels must be lowered first). ALA is a nutrient, an amino acid, so not really comparable to a synthetic drug -- except that in mercurised persons it has that great potential negative (as I experienced myself before I understood I was mercury poisoned; I certainly didn’t take a second tablet of it).
Elsewhere in his book AHC explains how to counteract the tendency of chelators to remove required elements alongside the toxic ones. Again this isn’t exactly rocket science, unless of course your job depends on not understanding it.
Thus you can see now why inappropriate chelation can certainly be harmful, just as you can easily kill yourself with some commonly available pills from the pharmacy. And the sensationalist propaganda anecdotes by Offit and Fitzpatrick of one death caused by an incompetent’s use of EDTA casts not the slightest light on the question of safety of competent chelation protocols.
AHC’s recommendation for chelation of autistics is roughly the same (DMSA–)ALA protocol as for adult amalgam illness, except with shorter intervals. He’s been critical of the protocols recommended by ARI/DAN people, but I don’t know the exact details (as therapy is not something I reckon to have comprehensive expertise about).
Hopefully the above has adequately explained the proper and improper uses of the widely differing protocols applied to the various chelators.
Meanwhile, the medical corporo-establishment is hostile to the idea of mercury involvement in autism, for those two reasons of denying blame for causing it and opposing a non-pharma treatment for it.
You probably already know that it began with the thimerosal hypothesis, itself soon after Wakefield’s MMR hypothesis. These vaccine hypotheses were rightly debunked (at least as major autism factors), but once the debunkers got started they got carried away into falsely debunking everything else to do with autism-mercury -- in the context of those two prejudicing motives.
That included seeking to debunk chelation for autism. Both Offit’s and Fitzpatrick’s books deploy a number of fallacious critiques of chelation, accompanying their lurid highlighting of the irrelevant EDTA-related death anecdote. That latter is as logical as condemning the use of anti-depressants (“drugs”) on the basis of an anecdote of one death resulting from a pain-killer (“drugs”) overdose.
Meanwhile, what about the evidence of effectiveness?
Years ago the ARI instigated a whole load of carefully-designed studies which established the value of vitamin B6 in ameliorating autism in about half of cases. And then all that peer-reviewed, double-blinded, multi-replicated research was utterly ignored and pretended away anyway by the medical establishment.
Thereafter Rimland and Co understandably decided to let the “proper” scientific publishing process go to hell and the ARI concentrated on doing its own publishing via internet and conferences.
Non-establishment science faces increasingly severe obstacles to reaching the official recognition of a PubMed number. Researchers find funding unavailable; they fear having their careers trashed; and many journal editors and referees then deploy their own unsound hostilities. And then even if it does manage to get published it just gets ignored by the sheep and sheepdogs of the establishment anyway, like those B6 studies and my own theory paper.
The CDC, NIMH, MRC etc have not exactly been racing against one another to set up chelation trials with the millions at their command. It appears that eventually SafeMinds etc managed to pester them into setting up a trial, but it, oh, --so regettably!-- "had to be" halted due to supposedly some safety concerns. It couldn’t of course really even possibly be just because they were in danger of getting the “wrong” result and proving that chelation cures autism.
Meanwhile, in the real world, yes there are all those many videos of recovered children, which a lot of "experts" seem incapable of even mentioning, including for instance Simon Baron-Cohen, and "Research Autism" which pretends to be a charity trying to help autistics. And the plural of anecdote eventually does become scientific evidence despite all the efforts of sham scientists. Scientific American recently suggested that 75% of parents are now using the treatments decried as life-threatening quackery.
It is very analogous to the case of adult amalgam illness (which ironically is caused by the same amalgams that caused the autism increase). Many thousands of cases of spectacular “miraculous” recovery from serious intractable illness are on record; plus there’s my own stupendous case and the official lies and evasions to prevent me getting treatment; the internet is getting more and more flooded with such stark testimonies. Amalgam’s even been banned now in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. And yet parts of the med establishment and their slimey assistants such as Ben Goldacre insist on just churning out yet more lies and patently pseudo-science reports such as the SCENIHR one.
Evidence that the real quackery is coming from the medical establishment:
their defence of mercury is demonstrably a pile of rubbish.
Senior names in the research bureaucracy such as Linda Birnbaum assert that an autism-mercury connection has been found to be lacking. The putative evidence of this lack of involvement of mercury rests on three studies, namely Ip et al, Soden, and Hertz-Picciotto et al. 2010. But the first two have been shown to be flawed beyond repair, and indeed evidencing the opposite, by DeSoto and Hitlan 2010. And the remaining study has meanwhile been shown by myself to be worthless rubbish malfounded on a most elementary error.
Oh, and now we have this further would-be contribution: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19027035, which purports an ignorance of even the most basic principle of chelation therapy (namely removing the toxin from the body) and substitutes a straw-man fallacious in-situ “detoxification” concept of its own. It is just as impossible to carry out a test of chelation in vitro (or in this case "in tissue") as it is impossible to venture out on a test drive of a car engine which is standing isolated from the car body on a mechanic's bench. When a dentist drills your tooth it instantly creates more pain than was there already. But we don't validly infer from that that dental treatment is counterproductive; because the treatment has to be evaluated as a whole.
That’s four out of four piles of rubbish constantly cited by the very-well-qualified professional defenders of mercury.
On the one hand there is that fourfold pile of rubbish supposedly showing no involvement of mercury. On the other hand the evidence that mercury is involved in autism is now so substantial as to be far beyond reasonable doubt (as reviewed in my update review forthcoming).
Wouldn't it be wonderful if researchers in capitalist countries were paid to find out the truth rather than to cover it up and oppress victims?
More pages relevant to chelation denialism are linked here.
(This post has been written in response to a question asked on the lbrb blog - search for the second comment by "daedalus".)
Two more studies apparently showing a mercury connection (though I've not read them as I concentrate my reading on things that don't agree with my current conclusions): http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a916457948 and http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/730552
Others have already noticed this form of abuse but I forget what if any term they used to label it, and anyway I'm now here calling it drivel-barrageing.
An example of a somewhat similar phenomenon was the harassing "by right" of climate scientists by large numbers of time-wasting "freedom of information" requests.
Drivel-barragers superficially appear to be engaging in civil, reasonable, discussion. But in reality it is not reasonable discussion. They publish a barrage of sloppy questions or other challenges against their victim. They do not bother to spend the time to properly research and critically consider whether their challenges have any substance to them. Instead they put the heavy burden on the victim to answer all their sloppy confusions, to correct all their errors, as if the victim had some professional teaching obligations to them.
There is consequently a grossly unreasonable imbalance in the resulting "debate". The barrager has an easy time generating his drivel, whereas the victim has to labour at sorting out the critical thinking, the provision of evidence the barrager couldn't be bothered to find out for himself, and so on.
The drivel barrager assumes that a principle of reasonable debate is that their victim has some obligation to respond to every piece of their drivel. If the victim does not it will supposedly constitute proof that the driveller is right and the victim is wrong. But in the real world, people do have other things they have to get on with, such as survival chores and working on proper thoughtful projects and studying of their own. The driveller prevents this proper activity and disrespects the time and contribution of the victim.
I myself am very unusual in that I seek out debate with those of contrasting views. I have consequently become all too familiar with this sort of abuse, first noticing it on the (now defunct) Monbiot discussion list back in 2004. Frequently a whole load of drivellers gang up against the one victim (me).
A recent outbreak of drivel-barrageing can be seen from "daedalus" on the page linked here. It's rather normal for a drivel-barrager to be anonymous as there. You can see how he just cannot get the point of his unreasonableness and just goes on pigheadedly. He expresses concern that he cannot post comments to my autism site. I don't know why, as I can post comments easily enough myself. But actually his comments would not be welcome anyway. That's not because they would be wrong, or because I would disagree with them, but because they would be the unworthy drivel of an unrepentant, incorrigible, drivel-barrageing abuser of this opportunity for open debate.
People do not have a right to expect all their questions to be answered and re-answered ad nauseam. Respect may not have to be earned in the first instance, but that respect can rightly be withdrawn if a victim finds himself the subject of such drivel-barrageing abuse.
It contains relatively little scientific argument, consisting instead mainly of ad-hominem muck-raking and "you can trust us" assertions of the supposedly superior authority of big wealthy institutions. But even where it strays into actual science it contains major errors.
Before examining those errors you should be aware that Offit's book uses a very peculiar system of citing which gives no citation indications on the text pages, but only in a back section. This peculiar system (which I've never seen in any other document) is ideal for when you wish to deceive readers about what is genuinely evidence-based and what is mere false assertion -- as in the following examples.
One of the errors is Offit's notion that mercury removal could not possibly enable recovery from mercury-induced injury. Offit's reasoning is that "Once a brain cell is damaged by a heavy metal like mercury, it is permanently damaged" (page 145). And so removing the mercury cannot reverse the "damage". And "therefore" chelation for autism cannot work and must be mere quackery.
Firstly, let us for the moment take as accepted Offit's false notion that "damage" of neurons must be involved in autism. Immediately after this critique of the science he presents his scare-anecdote about an utterly irrelevant case of incompetent misuse of EDTA: "And then the unthinkable happened....." (Arrgghh!!!). Curiously he gives twelve citations for that ONE utterly irrelevant scare-drivel anecdote, and yet in respect of his key assertion about damaged cells, there is no citation of evidence whatsoever. But of course that's not really a problem as it is the Infallible True Prophet Offit who is proclaiming it, in whom the reader has been given total faith by this stage; and it's a fair bet that the twelve drivel citations were padded in there to hide the non-existent evidence about "damage", for that's how such propaganda trickery always works (see e.g. the UK COT's deliberately deceitful statement against vitamin B6).
All manner of body cells have extensive systems in place for repairing themselves. They're doing it all the time. So on quite what basis does Offit assert that neurons "damaged" by mercury cannot be "repaired"? And why does he cite no evidence for this key, highly-heretical assertion?
But anyway, Offit errs more fundamentally, by making that false assumption that mercury neurotoxicity works only by "damaging" neurons, with no other neurotoxic processes involved. You will see in my 1993 paper there is not the slightest hint of it involving neurons being "damaged", nor indeed any "damage" being involved in autism causation at all. Rather autism is difference, not disorder (-- as the book's very own dedicatee "real heroes" Kathleen Seidel and Camille Clark would very much agree!). I can only guess that logical consistency is as alien to Dr Offit as is evidence-basing of his key assertions.
In reality mercury has potential to affect neurons via its pro-oxidant effect, and via its interference with all the enzyme pathways that involve zinc (in other words just about all of them). And last but not least, as my update review explains, mercury binds to DNA and thereby reduces gene-expression, which the antiinnatia theory had already indicated would cause autism.
The mechanism by which mercury causes autism therefore does not involve any damaging of neurons. So lowering the mercury levels, such that the DNA has less of it binding and inhibiting the gene-expression required for normal development, would indeed enable recovery, providing it is done before the brain has become too fixed by maturation. Offit's reasoning is therefore doubly incorrect.
[Temporary note: I am busy at the moment but will come back to add yet more false arguments his book presents against chelation. His case consists entirely of falsehoods, unbecoming of such a highly-qualified researcher.]
You can also see that on page 115 (refs page 269) Offit cites the Nelson and Bauman paper but fails to give the citation of the Bernard et al which it attempted to debunk, nor any mention of the authors' later resounding rejoinder. I leave you to form your own judgement about this selective mentioning of only one side by such a highly-qualified multi-millionaire. Especially given the seriousness of the subject, potentially trying to deprive tragic victims of a valuable therapy, and Dr Offit's heavy financial interest in the question of the safety of vaccines.
Offit deploys that misinformation there in a second false argument in terms of autism and mercury poisoning being "two disorders". And yet an elementary knowledge of mercury toxicity tells us that there is far from "one disorder" that constitutes "mercury poisoning". I can only guess this heroic multi-millionaire was too busy struggling to make ends meet to find the time to properly study what he was publishing about.
A third false argument of Offit is his comparison of autism epidemiology with other epidemiology (on pages 110-111). He states that epidemiology of effects of certain vaccines was able to show up even the causation of some very rare hazards (intussusception, thrombocytopenia, and Guillain-Barré syndrome) resulting from them, and "therefore" the epidemiological studies of autism would have this same power to utterly rule out even very slight involvement of vaccines. Personally I think the autism data is too unclear to resolve whether or not there is rare harm caused by vaccines anyway, but that's beside the point.
What is the point here is that the epidemiology of autism is affected by two starkly obvious major complications which did not affect the epidemiology examples cited by Offit. Firstly, autism is very far from being something that can be clearly "yes/no" identified as can the above-named three conditions. Secondly, the autism epidemiology data has huge variance, far from all of it explained, but reasonably suspected to be caused by some changes of awareness and of diagnosis, and not least by other environmental factors such as dental mercury (as my update review will make clear).
That is, the autism data has a huge level of "noise" in it preventing hearing of the exquisite signal that Offit claims could be clearly not heard. Or in another analogy, the autism data is a very crude unfocussable lens through which to search for the tiny pinpoint he claims ought to be visible if vaccines even rarely caused autism. So again, we see a crudely incorrect argument from this highly-qualified, highly-awarded author who has made millions from touting his medical products.
(Whether Offit's legal-liability-exempt profitmaking products are a quackery scam is besides the point, but in view of all the above one does have to wonder -- and indeed it does turn out that the rotavirus that he's earned millions from has been judged unneeded by 27 of 29 nations, and was only accepted in the US thanks to himself voting it in.)
And Offit's "rotavirus vaccine may be linked to a small increase in a life-threatening type of bowel obstruction, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday..... ."
In 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics presented the “President’s Certificate for Outstanding Service” award to Dr Paul Offit.
See also my important further article
More about Dr Offit here. And here and here.
The illusion of conflicting of theories.
Consider the answer to the question "How did you manage to get from town A to town B in only 30 minutes?". One answer might be "I bought a bus ticket". Another answer could be "Oil was pumped up from the ground, taken to a refinery, the resulting diesel was then transported to a depot, and then pumped into the tank of a vehicle, ......" and so on.
Those two explanations of the journey look very different and yet they can both be true simultaneously. Likewise there are quite a number of ideas currently around concerning autism causation, some of which are even called theories of autism. And just because they look very different from the antiinnatia theory, it does not follow that they are all in conflict with the antiinnatia theory, any more than the bus ticket theory is in conflict with the oil fuel theory.
For instance my presentations of the antiinnatia theory had already incorporated the concept of theory of mind even before anyone else had published anything about that concept. From my perspective it was just some more of the innatons that get suppressed (or impaired) by antiinnatia.
Another instance is that some people are linking the male-female imbalance of autism cases to characteristics of testosterone (such as its potentiating the effect of mercury). My 1993 paper gave an explanation of why there was this imbalance, but in terms of natural selection. Again there is no necessary conflict here, any more than there is between the bus ticket and oil-production theories of my journey. Of the two, my natural selection explanation is the overarching one, as it additionally explains why testosterone would be the molecule it is (with that effect), or why testosterone was selected to be the masculinising hormone. The explanation in terms of chemical details meanwhile could have potential usefulness for diagnosis or intervention.
But I resolutely reject the notion suggested by some, that there are "many autisms", for the following reasons.
The world has been aware of the autistic syndrome/Asperger syndrome for nearing 70 years now. Many people have spent much time trying to delineate separate subdivisions within that syndrome. The result has been a resounding lack of finding any such subdivisions. Even attempts to show any certain distinction between "Aspergers" and "high-functioning autism" have drawn a blank [as per Tony Attwood's review linked at end here].
Meanwhile there are certainly great variations in how autism manifests. And there is much reason to believe that the etiological (causal) factors can be quite different in different cases.
Years ago when I was first writing down the antiinnatia theory of autism I wrote a paragraph which explained about this. But because the paper (as published in 1993) was already rather long, I cut that paragraph out before publication. I'll now reinstate it here, in concept at least (as I don't remember the original wording).
Autism(/ASD etc) is like a tree. Just as a tree has many roots, so autism has many causes. Just as a tree has many branches, so autism has many characteristics and signs (notwithstanding the dumbing-down to a "triad of impairments"). But also, just as a tree has only one trunk, so autism/ASD/Aspergers/etc has only one central causal, definitional mechanism/concept, namely antiinnatia.
We can elaborate this metaphor of a tree by thinking of it as grounded in some rather peculiar soil. At the northwest corner there is a lot of (say) uranium in the soil, whereas at the southeast corner there is none at all. In consequence of this the leaves of one corner of the tree contain a lot of uranium while at the opposite corner there is little or none. But all are part of the same tree.
Notwithstanding the above, it would be wise for autism research to recognise various distinctions, such as male/female, and late/early onset. And another distinction I would suggest to be particularly important.
The evidence concerning this is is more fully elaborated in my update review, but I will briefly outline it here. According to my update of the theory, the autism increase has been caused by mercury (from non-gamma-2 amalgams); whereas the pre-increase autism had generally minimal involvement of mercury. (But it couldn't be zero as no-one has ever lived in a zero-mercury environment.)
It follows that within contemporary autism/ASD/Aspergers/etc we are looking at two substantially different things. On the one hand the minority (10-20%?) who would have been autistic/etc even if the increase had not taken place. These would be the "true" autism/etc, so to speak. On the other hand, those cases caused by mercury intake. These latter are very likely to have a variety of mercury-specific symptoms accompanying their antiinnatia-caused symptoms.
It follows that any research that just lumps together both these groups is liable to learn little about either. Indicators towards distinguishing between the two are likely to include: age of onset, number of maternal amalgams, level of indoor mercury vapor, results of porphyrin tests or hair mercury tests. Meanwhile, mercury levels in blood or urine are most unlikely to be worthwhile distinguishers.
It may be possible to discern the two categories in bimodal distributions and or scattergrams, getting beyond overly simple averaging of the whole autistic category.
Review of Asperger's/Autism relationship by Tony Attwood.
While I have not made any search for confirmation or disconfirmation, I have passively come to notice some support for this concept.
Firstly, a monkey inventing a new way of opening coconuts:
Secondly a species of monkey which was well-established to be vegetarian suddenly starting to eat eggs:
Plus you can hear this hilarious innovation in gibbon singing....
"...gene is mythical part of living structure which in reactionary theories like Mendelism-Veysmanism-Morganism determines heredity. Soviet scientists under leadership of Academician Lysenko proved scientifically that genes don't exist in the nature."
From Soviet Encyclopedia circa 1950
In my view, such conspiracy theorising does little to resolve any of the scientific questions. In my experience as a theorist, researchers almost never actually falsify their raw data (though in respect of commercially-criticial trials of therapies it may be less rare). I wouldn't have been able to so easily formulate coherent theories time and time again if that data were not founded in reality.
But I do think that anyone coming to look at autism research, and the forthcoming (non-/)reaction to my update review, would be well advised to be aware of some of the potential political factors that could be intruding to distort the science from its unbiased path. So I will just put these few thoughts here on the subject.
Some elements of the political context could be that:
- Some people wish(ed) to blame vaccine manufacturers, or other medical institutions, for causing the autism of their children (and associated alleged increase). (the "heretics")
- Some of those accused by the above wish(ed) to prove that there was no such causation, and or increase. (the "establishment")
- Some professional researchers might conceivably wish to spin out the progress of science into false trails, so as to prolong their own professional research careers rather than resolve questions as promptly as possible. And some may fear losing their jobs if they raise the 'wrong' questions or publish the 'wrong' results. (the "careerists")
- Some others may wish to falsely declare a crisis, and or falsely proclaim treatments, in order to profit from gullible customers. (the "quacks")
- Yet others (the "establishment" again) may wish to falsely discredit valuable treatments as supposed quack remedies, because they undermine their own plans to market licenced pharmaceuticals for the same condition.
I'll just put below here my own impressions of how the science has been distorted in recent years, by way of enabling some anticipation of how my own update review will be misrepresented in due course. Please note that none of this is my certified testimony as to the truth of anything; please verify for yourself if you wish to take a firm view of any of it.
Firstly (see disclaimer above), autism had a most unhelpful tendency to become noticeable at just about the same age as some vaccinations are injected. And some of the heretics were noticing an increase in prevalence which aligned with increased vaccinations. Their reasonable suspicion was reinforced by the lack of any other obvious causal change, because the dental profession continues to assert that they're still using those same old amalgams tried and tested over 150 years, and so approximately no-one has noticed the huge unannounced changeover to non-gamma-2 amalgams.
The heretics of necessity tended to be rather amateurish, undertrained, underqualified and underfunded people. They naturally made plenty of mistakes, especially in the early years.
The establishment could have responded to the MMR and thimerosal theories with some sound science. Instead, some absolutely stupendously abysmal papers were published, such as Madsen in respect of Denmark. Such rubbish could be excused if it were coming from the amateur heretics, but coming from supposed leading expert scientists and published in supposedly top-rating journals any notion of good faith bungling was much harder to find credible.
The result of these abysmal publications (and the associated persecution of Andrew Wakefield) was a huge increase of distrust of the establishment. In reality there was soon enough sufficient sound science to radically marginalise the vaccine theories anyway. But now that the establishment has gained an image of untrustworthiness, that sound science is very much harder for the heretics and the general public to believe. Everything can now be rationalised away as lies and propaganda.
Associated claims from the establishment have been that the increase was not real, and that autism was almost entirely of genetic causation. Again the establishment used abysmal papers to justify its denialism. Again they unnecessarily undermined their own credibility.
It appears that those claims of no increase and no environmental cause thereof are now floundering in the face of a reality that is simply too big to be pretended away (though the NHS as recently as 2009 has published yet more rubbish in defence of that flat earth).
Which brings us to the present stage of this parade of denialisms. This is exemplified by a number of the highest-ranking research professionals touting blood levels of mercury as a supposedly useful means of showing that mercury has not been involved in autism. Any even slightly competent researcher should be well aware that using blood (or urine) measures of mercury is a great way to get the false negative that they want so as to put everyone off the trail to the real cause of the increase. Even my common-or-garden mere general practitioner (family doctor) was able to tell me back in 2004 that blood mercury is a useless test for chronic mercury poisoning. So how come these spectacularly-qualified supposedly leading expert researchers don't know even this most basic fact of what they are publishing about?
Reference for blood mercury: Mutter, Naumann, Guethlin. Comments on the Article "The toxicology of mercury and its chemical compounds". Crit Rev Toxicol 2007 37:537-549.
Meanwhile the other two papers (by Ip, and Soden) which are deployed as supposedly showing no mercury involvement have also been exposed as severely flawed, in this review by DeSoto and Hitlan.
So the case against mercury involvement rests on three papers all of which are fit only for the trashcan. Need I say more?
We can now look forward to hearing this same pseudo-expertise rolled out again as "professional" "expert" testimony to also "disprove" my update review on the pseudic grounds of a supposed lack of difference of mercury in autism.
One may hypothesise that there are malign motives at work, of (1) wishing to deflect blame from the medical establishment's endorsement of dental amalgam, and or (2) wishing to avoid identifying the real environmental cause so that these same researchers can enjoy decades of prestige and income at our expense on a wild-goose chase among any number of other non-causes of autism. One may also hypothesise (3) that some researchers are in an embarassing position, because they fear having their careers destroyed and ending up on the dole if they ask the 'wrong' questions or publish the 'wrong' answers.
Those are only unproven hypotheses. It is nevertheless difficult for me to suppress suspicion that the malign spirit of Lysenkoism is very much alive and distorting the world of professional autism research in the western world. On the other hand again, I would be wary of attributing evil to all the people involved. My observations of other "controversies" indicate that the most stupendous obtuseness can be achieved even by highly intelligent people having no possible selfish motive for their denialism (and this for reasons that were explained in my unpublished theory of neuroticism; btw, the low-neurotic can be even more denialic than the high).