Thursday, March 30, 2006

31st Skeptic's Circle

The 31st Skeptic's Circle is up rolling at Terra Sigillata

Check out the great post from Kev on being a DAN! approved doctor.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Rebuttal of Dr. King’s Comments on Kathleen Seidel’s “Vaccines Don't Cause Autism”

Kathleen Seidel recently wrote a letter in reply to an article written in the Metro West Daily News. Her comments are found here:

Dr. King has reviewed Kathleen’s comments and offered a rejoinder on EoHam Yahoo Group. His message can be found here:

Dr. King’s comments are placed in quotation marks; my comments will be interspersed.

“This writer begins with a knowingly false title. Since "autism" is a "causeless" psychiatric disorder and not a medical diagnosis, it cannot be "caused" by anything. Thus, any "possible cause" cannot, by definition, cause "autism" because it is a causeless mental disorder and not a disease having a proven cause.”

To write a knowingly false title, one must be aware that they are employing terminology which is false. This can be more directly called dishonesty. In this case the reported “knowingly false title” hinges on agreement that autism is “causeless psychiatric disorder”. Dr. King does not offer evidence that Mrs. Seidel agrees with this position. His position on Mrs. Seidel’s actions should be rejected as being without support. Since he has inferred her thoughts (which he can not know) he has also committed the psychogenetic fallacy.

"In addition, the writer ignores the two research-supported medical hypotheses:”

No, she has not commented upon them, please review the context of her letter which was misrepresentation of autism parents; some who do not believe that their child’s autism is vaccine related. Also there are far more than two medical hypotheses, which have some minimal research to claim. To fail to disclose this constitutes the logical fallacy of the false opposition.

“1. In susceptible children, repeated Thimerosal injection into the pregnant mother before birth (from Thimerosal- containing Rho products and vaccines) and/or into the children after birth (from Thimerosal-containing vaccines) causes sub-acute mercury poisoning that manifests as a wide array of symptoms of varying severity -- some of which are the same as the symptoms outlined in the DSM to diagnose "autism."
2. In some immune-susceptible children, the measles component in the MMR vaccines initiates or precipitates the progression of regressive behaviors and intestinal dysfunction seem in children that exhibit symptoms that include the symptoms outlined in the DSM to diagnose "autism." [Note: In this hypothesis, the immune damage caused by prior injections of Thimerosal-containing vaccines may be a significant factor in rendering thos children found to be harmed by the inability of the child's immune systems to properly render the measles virus harmless. Since Thimerosal is a proven strong immune- system toxin and autoimmune-process initiator in humans, Hypothesis 2, is actually a sub-hypothesis of Hypothesis 1.]”

“Until this writer chooses to address the real causes (Thimerosal and the MMR vaccine) and the underlying disease agents (such as mercury poisoning and abnormal propagation of the measles virus) and presents peer-reviewed clinical research that rules these out,”

This position contradicts Dr. King’s earlier statements that the two “real causes” are actually medical hypotheses. In addition, there is in fact, well controlled, peer reviewed epidemiology that offers evidence against these hypotheses (Honda et al., 2005; Jick et al., 2006; and Chakrabarti & Fombonne, 2005).

Further, we can not prove that a vaccination or combination of vaccinations did not, somewhere, cause a child to be autistic. Of course, equally, we can not prove that goblins didn’t replace a typically developing child with a changeling. However, neither of these cases represents how science and logic are supposed to work.

“This reviewer suggests that this writer's illogical rant should be ignored. It should be ignored because it adds nothing of substance to finding the underlying diseases and their causes so that their harm may be appropriately mitigated and, to the extent possible, cured.”

Dr. King has yet to establish the illogic employed by Mrs. Seidel. Further, to bypass it as a “rant” is to use a dicto simpliciter (sweeping generalization) that fallaciously distracts from the points raised by Mrs. Seidel.

Further this argument of Dr. King’s, hinges on the position that the lack of merit in Kathleen’s argument is related to its lack of “substance” in terms of finding underlying diseases/causes, and cures.

This is an ignoratio elenchi (irrelevant conclusion) as Mrs. Seidel was not attempting to establish those things, but rather to criticize the misrepresentation of autism parent.
Dr. King takes issue with matters outside the context of Mrs. Seidel’s argument and fallaciously distracts from her argument.

This is also untrue as Mrs. Seidel’s arguments concerned the inappropriate use of certain bases. This is certainly relevant given that certain parties in favor of a vaccine etiology theory of autism use those databases, when they should not.

The second premise of Dr. King’s argument is unsubstantiated as well; this invalidates his argument as seen in this representative syllogism.

P. Kathleen’s autism argument did not add substance to the cures/causes theory
P. Critiques or comments about autism should include such substance.
C. Therefore her argument should be ignored.

“Since Jon Brodkin was reporting the facts, as he understood them, he had no reason to cite parents such as yourself who seem intent on: a. Distorting the factual record and b. Making unsubstantiated distortive assertions that do not add anything of substance to the factual record.”

Mr. Brodkin was reporting facts as he understood them, which are now shown to not be facts. This non-inclusion of mention of persons like Mrs. Seidel creates a false representation of the position of autism parents. You additional points (A and B) offer personal attacks that distract from the arguments of Mrs. Seidel and qualify as the logical fallacy of the argumentum ad hominem.

“First, this reviewer is not aware of parents who attribute their children's autistic spectrum conditions to the nebulous "vaccines." However, this reviewer is aware of many parents and researchers who are concerned about mercury poisoning from Thimerosal in some vaccines and the contributing factor of the measles component of the MMR vaccine, including many who are not "involved in thimerosal litigation." Based on the preceding realities, this reviewer supports Mr. Brodkin's ignoring parents such as yourself.”

None of the information Fr. King presented is relevant justification for ignoring Mrs. Seidel’s arguments. This information functions as a red herring in this case.

“Since the writer's unsubstantiated assertions are not supported by any factual references, they should probably be dismissed for the rant of someone who has personal issues in dealing with the reality of the repeated sub- acute mercury poisoning of babies by injecting them with low levels of a known highly poisonous mercury compound that has been proven to be toxic to human systems at the sub-ppm level.”

To assume that someone has personal issues in “dealing with reality” is an ad hominem and is illogical. The comment “repeated sub-acute mercury poisoning of babies” has not been substantiated within controlled literature and is therefore a false equation. This also includes a fallacious appeal to emotion.

“Moreover, this reviewer sees nothing "stigmatizing" about babies being poisoned by injecting them with low doses of Thimerosal illegally (in violation of 21 CFR Section 610.215(a)) present in the "Thimerosal Preserved" vaccines administered to them under the guise of protecting their health by giving them the "safest" of medicines."

In this case, the argument that autistic children are “stigmatized” is related to the fact that research has not shown this to be valid. From Mrs. Seidel’s argument, this creates a false impression of such children. Dr. King’s argument misrepresents Mrs. Seidel’s position and therefore offers a fallacious straw argument.

“As to the writer's claimed "potentially risky 'detoxification' treatments," this reviewer finds that many more babies and children die each year as a result of being vaccinated than die of any of the "treatments" to which this writer is referring.”

To shift the focus from one’s own fault to same/similar fault in the one offering a critique, is a fallacious attempt at distraction known as the “tu quoque argument”. Further, one would to know the rates of vaccination and rates of biomedical treatments to meaningfully compare them. This has been done for chelation and that assessment can be found here:

“Finally, since heavy metal poisoning (intoxication) is established before these "detoxification" treatments are initiated, these treatments are, as they should be, treatments to mitigate medically identified metals poisoning and not as the writer's rhetoric implies, treatments for DSM "autism" or, for that matter, any autistic spectrum disorder.”

This strong induction can be shown to be false by even a single anecdotal example. I know a well known blogger and vaccine etiology of autism advocate and “Rescue Angel” who did not test for such poisoning before he began chelation. Also the Generation Rescue website makes it clear that Autism/ADHD are one and the same with mercury poisoning: Also, this site rather directly what is being treated.

“This reviewer often finds when a writer has little, or no, factual basis with which to attack published research, the writer turns to attacking the integrity and motives of the researchers who have published that research. Thus, unable to effectively refute the published research, this writer begins by attacking the source.”

It is proper and correct to review the validity of citations and proofs. Mrs. Seidel has not offered a fallacious ad hominem attack and has behaved I in accordance with this principle.

“Though the statement, "Dr. Geier's approval to conduct a 2004 research project was suspended by Kaiser Permanente's IRB for his reported attempts to conduct unapproved analyses and remove unauthorized material from the CDC's Research Data Center," is essentially true, it ignores the following facts: 1. The CDC was the agency who made the charges in an attempt to block the Geiers from accessing the VSD database and, to do this, CDC officials wrote a letter to Kaiser Permanente's IRB misrepresenting the Geiers' activities to that IRB and all of the other IRBs. 2. After investigating the charges, Kaiser Permanente's IRB and the other IRBs found the CDC's charges be baseless, and 3. The IRB's reinstated the Geiers' access to the VSD database. In addition, the writer leaves out the fact that the CDC has continued to thwart the Geiers' IRB-approved access to the VSD database by, among other things, providing them with corrupted and "empty" data sets. Further, the writer neglects to mention that the CDC has "conveniently" LOST the Verstraeten group's original datasets -- thus precluding anyone from independently assessing the unpublished and published”

And for this reason the Verstraetn studies should be withdrawn.

"Finally, this reviewer suggests that a writer should tell all of the truth whenever they seek to slander the reputation of a researcher with whom they disagree and not the selective isolated "fact" in that truth.”

There is no apparent attempt to slander the reputation of researchers here. There was reporting of an event which Dr. King has now shown to be incomplete. This matter should stand as factual correction, not an attempt at slander.

“This reviewer must first note that the writer has never used the same argument to attack the numerous press releases, reports and research studies published by or on behalf of the CDC or the vaccine makers who are currently benefiting from their roles in the healthcare establishment.”

Again, this is a fallacious tu quoque argument.

“Moreover, a) the low to almost-non- existent rates of "autism prevalence" in the unvaccinated US population segments,”

This is not established, and is based upon the reporter Dan Olmstead’s simply asking questions in an Amish population and in the FamilyFirst care group in Chicago, neither of which constitutes real epidemiology.

“b) the low rates "autism prevalence" in the Scandinavian countries where much lower levels of Thimerosal were ever administered to children and where Thimerosal has been banned from all childhood vaccines since the 1990s,”

This is inaccurate, as the descriptive epidemiology shows that the Scandinavian are equivicable to the US and the UK is terms of Autistic Disorder. In fact the highest rate ever found for Autistic Disorder + Aspergers Disorder is a Swedish study by Kadesjo et al. (1999) at (72.6) per 10,000 which is considerably higher than anywhere else in the world.

“and c) the parallels between the symptoms that children with autism exhibit and those caused by repeated sub-acute mercury poisoning”

This is inadequateas a proof. There many parallels between autism and Fagile X Disorder as well. This is not say that autism is caused by Fragile X Disorder.

“are all the proof that any prudent person would need to understand that the repeatedly injecting Thimerosal (49.55% mercury) in vaccines causes: 1) All to be mercury poisoned some degree, 2) Some to be poisoned to the degree that they exhibit one or more of the clinical symptoms of mercury poisoning, 3) A few to be poisoned to the degree that they exhibit the symptoms of mercury poisoning that are used to make a diagnosis of DSM "autism", and 4) Sadly, a very few to be poisoned to death.”

The first statement is a version of the “common sense fallacy”, as one person can not meaningfully lay claim to “prudence” as it is a subjective concept and what is prudent to one person is not prudent to another. When employed as it currently is, it is a form of sophistry.

I also should note that Thimerosal is 49% mercury by weight. Dr. King's comment does not make this clear.

"If the writer were to carefully read and review the widely published research of Burbacher et al. on injecting vaccine-preservative levels of Thimerosal into baby monkeys, she should clearly see that, even in this small sample of 17 monkeys, the level of the known persistent neuropoison, "inorganic mercury," varies among the individuals. Thus, this work clearly establishes variable bioaccumulation of the mercury injected as Thimerosal into the baby monkeys. Coupled with the work of Hornig et al., which established variable strain susceptibility and elicited autism-like symptoms and biological changes associated with the mercury poisoning from preservative-level Thimerosal solutions and Thimerosal-preserved vaccines proportionately dosed into developing susceptible strains, it is clear that Thimerosal-containing vaccines are mercury poisoning human babies."

I am sure that I would want to show greater caution when guessing if someone has read a particular article as far as Burbacher et al goes. In addition, Dr. Hornig’s research did not show rats with “autism-like symptoms”. A rat in her study chewed through the skull of another rat which it was grooming. I have yet to see an autistic child groom another to death. To equate such is a very grevious false equation.

“Thus, the Geiers' epidemiological research findings only add support to the role of Thimerosal (mercury poisoning) in causing the symptoms exhibited by those diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders including DSM "autism."”

The Geier’s recent research is flawed. As it uses the CDDS data in a way they were nevver intended for (as Mrs. Seidel pointed out). It is terribly confounded by the application of more stringent CDDS autism criteria in August 2003. Also, there is no “drop” until Sept 2003, this is not clear on the Geier’s graph.

“Moreover, had the writer studied the previous intentional poisoning of babies with mercury (the late 19th and 20th century mercury poisoning by Calomel in teething/ soothing powders, where our healthcare establishment persisted in labeling/ diagnosing the problems as the causeless "Pink Disease" instead of the mercury poisoning that it so obviously was), she would have realized that the parallels are both educational and compelling.” And also many ways that they are not. There are ethical and scientific problems that come from such false equations. “Given the reality that "Pink Disease" (the name given to the previous mercury poisoning disease) virtually disappeared when Calomel-laced drugs were totally withdrawn from the market, it would seem that the Geiers' findings would have caused a caring healthcare establishment to embrace them and immediately ban Thimerosal and all other mercury compounds from all aspects of medicine. However, like this writer, our healthcare establishment has chosen to attack the Geiers' scientifically sound findings rather than to immediately move to protect the health of our children by banning Thimerosal and all mercury from all of medicine -- clearly indicating that both seem to be more concerned about the health of the healthcare establishment than the health of our unborn and our children or, for that matter, the health of the American public.”

Dr. King employs the fallacious Galileo Gambit, by trying to compare a historical case with a a current situation. Also, if one will advertise a “scientifically sound findings” then one must be prepared to defend them on the data issues. Should Dr. King wish to this, I would be pleased to debate with him. In the mean time, his statement is a distraction, as is his statement about where Mrs. Seidel’s concerns exist.

“If there were a "deleterious influence of litigation on the VAERS data" as the writer alleges, then the real drop in autism cases would have to be even greater than the rate found since the claimed "influence of litigation"”

Dr. King uses a petitio principii “fallacy of begging the question”. There is no way he possibly know that drop in autism would be even greater if there was a "deleterious influence of litigation” unless he assumes that there has been an actual drop of new cases as well. He has assumed, what he is trying to prove. This is a special form of “circulus in demonstrando” (circular reasoning).

“Moreover, this reviewer has failed to find and the writer fails to provide, any evidence that these reports made to VAERS are false in any material manner. Since reports are factual and the effect of litigation could have only increased the number of cases reported, making the drop less than it would have been otherwise, it should be clear to any prudent person or scientist that, absent any proof of biased reporting, the Geiers' appropriately disregarded an unproven factor because it does not significantly impinge on the validity of their findings (of a decrease in the rate of cases) in a manner that would negate the drop."

The VAERS relies on patient report and will record just about any claim. Minimal standards are met in an attempt verify this information. Dr. Laidler demonstrated this principle by reporting that a vaccine caused him to become the incredible hulk.

"Additionally, though the DOE statistics are not medically verified numbers, the fact that there has been a drop when the vaccine apologists have repeatedly claimed that the previous observed increases in the case numbers is related to better recognition, law changes, and availability of services clearly undercuts those unproven arguments and points to a real drop in cases that "happens" to follow the decline in the level of Thimerosal administered to children in their childhood vaccines."

This massively incorrect. The DOE data does show a decease in new cases for the 3 and 5 year olds, but not the 4 years olds who increased. In addition, the 4 year olds showed a decrease last year. Further, this year, other age groups also had a decrease in new cases, such as ages 8, 13, and 18. If one reviews the data in non fallacious manner, one can see that such decreases happen in the DOE data from time to time.

Further the DOE data do not resemble the descriptive epidemiology in either racial equivalence or prevalence rate. It seem a stretch to claim that they are meaningful in terms of incidence.

Also, Dr. King employs a bit of sophistry by labling his opponents "vaccine apologists".

Further, this reviewer is surprised that the writer did not note that the CDC's recommendations to add the "flu" shot to the recommended immunization schedule without requiring the "flu" shots to be free of Thimerosal is a backdoor tactic that effectively adds back a significant part of the Thimerosal removed form the childhood vaccines - an obvious, to this reviewer and all scientists who can add, attempt to reduce the drop in Thimerosal injected into our babies and, based on the Geiers' findings, to reduce the drop in the incidence of diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders. Yet, this reviewer sees no outrage or even concern about this obviously duplicitous action by the CDC."

This fallacious argument assumes a hidden and dubious conspiracy. There is no evidence for such claims.

“The writer again raises issues that are not germane to the Geiers' findings. Caveats aside, the California DDS numbers for autism are the most consistent, comprehensive and valid estimates of the prevalence of "DSM" autism in California.”

This is not accurate. The CDDS prevalence rate does resemble the prevalence rate established in both the US, the UK, and Japan. Further, Mrs. Seidel’ comment are directly applicable as the Geier’s seem to be unaware that CDDS say that one can not count the change between quarters as “new intakes”. This undermines their research.

“Thus, the prior increases and the current drops are both real.” Since both are real, they are valid measures of the linked trends between "autism" cases and maximum level of Thimerosal exposure. Moreover, if California adheres to its ban on Thimerosal-preserved vaccines for pregnant women and children 3 and under, the CDC's attempt to put back Thimerosal by recommending universal "flu" vaccination should be initially blunted in California since only "4" and "5" year olds would be at risk of receiving a Thimerosal- preserved flu shot.”

Dr. Here employs the "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" fallacy (this before that, therefore, this because of that). In addition, the Geier's research must weather criticism that is coming its way. It may not hold up.

“In closing, this reviewer can only hope that this writer will come to care more about the health of our children than about the "stigma" of mercury poisoning that seems to have driven her to draft this letter.”

Dr. King closes his comment with a false equation.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

30th Skeptics Circle-Good Autism posts

The 30th Skeptics Circle is now up at Paige's Page.
I notice that they are geting bigger as of late (cue evil laughter).

Go to
and check out the autism posts by Dad of Cameron and

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Review of “Early Downward Trends in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Removal of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines”

This post reviews Geier & Geier (2006). Three threats to the validity for this study are discussed. These include use of the California Department of Developmental Services (CDDS) quarterly reports in a manner inconsistent with CDDS recommendation, arbitrary assignment of "point of change" in the correlational design, and confounding by CDDS application of more restrictive criteria for autism in July 2003.

Anecdotally, Geier & Geier (2006) has sparked sharp discussion in the online autism world. The critiques of that article cover a broad range of problems. These range from concerns with the scientific objectivity of the journal, to problems with the VAERS database. At the same time, Geier & Geier (2006) has been informally heralded by those who wish to advocate the thimerosal etiology theory of autism, as a strong proof.

There are three primary reasons Geier & Geier (2006) is invalid in terms of the CDDS data. I will present these and argue that such threats negate the value of this study.

Misuse of Data

The data in this study are supplied by the CDDS. This relies on the change between quarterly reports to calculate new cases. Unfortunately the CDDS has a document that states the changes between quarters can not be counted as new cases (DDS, 2005). The persons may have already been in the CDDS and receiving services under a different category or their paper work may have taken a while to collect and process, even though they were already receiving services. When such uncontrolled data are employed they contain errors of random and systematic error (Friis & Sellers, 2004).

Arbitrary Assignment of Point of Change

One is not permitted to simply look at a graph and pick the point of change as occurred in Geier & Geier (2006). This a very fundamental error. Instead the authors should have identified a point when the thimerosal had been removed to test this hypothesis.

(click graph to make bigger)

Application of More Restrictive Criteria

In July 2003 the CDDS applied a more restrictive criteria to the eligibility requirement for their autism services (Rollens, 2004). This severely confounds the decrease that is noted in this period, as it makes it almost certain that there would be a drop. Furthermore, a review of Figure 4. shows that the decrease does not occur until after July 2003, and the implementation of the more restrictive criteria. This is not clear in the correlational graph in Geier & Geier (2005).

I conclude that Geier & Geier (2006) does not necessarily show what it claims to. I strongly second the position that Joseph at the "Autism - Natural Variation" blog, put forth, namely that the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons peer reviewers re-examine this study and consider retraction.

Notes: A letter to the editor outlining these points will be submitted for publication in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

The following links are to blogs which discuss this issue and which serve as references to this post.


Department of Developmental Services (2005). Data Interpretation Considerations and Limitations. Consideration_ imtations.pdf. Accessed Friday January 13, 2005.

Department of Developmental Services (2006). Quarterly Client Characteristics Reports. Friday January 13, 2005.

Friis, R. H., Sellers, T. A. (2004). Epidemiology for public health practice, 3rd ed. Sundbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Geier, D. A., & Geier, M. R. (2006). Early Downward Trends in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Removal of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. 11(1), 8-13.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Autism Diva on Rain Mouse

I had some pretty crazy exams this week, so I just stumbled onto Autism Diva’s deconstruction of Rain Mouse II. Check it out at

Highly recommended reading.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

29th Skeptic's Circle

The 29th Skeptics Circle is up and rocking at The Huge Entity

Orac and Dad of Cameron have solid posts on autism issues. Highly recommended reading.