I’ve been following the debate about whether or not autism is “caused” by mercury-laced preservatives in vaccines for quite a few years now.

And I’ve noted over the years a definite change in tone. Today, anybody who dares to question these “scientific debunkings” risks being labeled a nut. Well, OK. I’m a nut then.

And I could be wrong with the following thoughts and arguments. But I’ve never heard this specific argument addressed, so it’s worth examining, if truth, logic, and evidence still count for anything.

Discussing Jenny McCarthy, here is a screechy reactionary at Chicagoist:

Beyond the fame of film and screen, McCarthy has reinvented herself in recent years as a warrior mother, with a number of books and articles to her credit. She’s a vocal supporter of numerous causes based around her son’s autism, the most notable being her rabid anti-vaccination beliefs. The anti-vax community believes that vaccinating children causes autism (specifically the Mumps-Measles-Rubella vaccine), that there are unnecessary toxins in vaccines, and that children suffer mentally, emotionally, and physically from being vaccinated.

The fact that the anti-vax claims have been scientifically debunkedrepeatedly – doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. McCarthy’s blog is up on Oprah’s website now, focusing on removing sugar from ones diet for the summer, but it won’t be long before she’s back up on her anti-vaccination soapbox, with the power of the O behind her. Say what you will about Rachael Ray, but at least she’s smart enough to not promote something that has and will continue to kill children.

I haven’t reviewed all those links showing the “debunking” yet. I suppose I should torture myself by doing so.

But debunking or no, there is one central point that, it appears, is not being argued away:

The vaccination schedule approved for kids back in the late 80s – early 90s included so much mercury—just via the preservative thimerasol in the vaccines, disregarding all other sources of mercury—that the overall level (by the time of the recommended MMR vaccination) introduced into our children rose above the “toxic” level as set by the government.

This is a true fact. At least, I have never heard anybody refute it.

So, let’s all take a deep breath, and calm ourselves, and use rational thought processes to process facts and logic.

I did some research into all this a few years ago. Here’s my sober take on the whole vaccine – autism link.

The theory behind the vaccine – autism link, to my knowledge, is not that the MMR vaccine “causes” autism.

Causation arguments require a very high burden of proof. To say A “causes” B is to make a very strong statement: the presence of A, and A alone, is sufficient to make B happen. I doubt that is truly what any of the proponents of the vaccine – autism link are claiming.

The theory behind the vaccine – autism link that appeals to logic and the surrounding facts is this: that the amount of mercury we purposely inject into our kids at a young age via vaccination contributes greatly to whatever mercury they’ve already ingested. And in some cases, this can be enough to trigger a variety of autism-related disorders. Especially if the child has a depressed immune system when receiving the MMR vaccination. I.e., if they have a cold, or the flu, or other forms of a depressed immune system. Which, of course, is the typical anecdotal evidence brought by parents of PDD children.

In fact, when you dig a little bit deeper here, the symptoms of autism are remarkably similar to the symptoms of mercury poisoning.

And since mercury is sometimes found in the food we eat, and sometimes the air we breathe, and can be passed to children in the womb or via breast milk, it is possible that this accumulated amount of mercury, from all sources, and in some circumstances, can be enough to push some kids into a toxic state of mercury poisoning.

Note all the qualifiers: “possible”, “accumulated”, “from all sources”, “some circumstances”, “can be”, “some kids”.

Now what is so crazy about that? Nothing at all.

It’s even got a couple of juicy targets: possible environmental triggers, plus “Big Pharma”. Yet instead, people latch onto an over-simplification of a very complicated situation and reduce it to: “these yahoos actually claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism”.

Way to move the goalposts. Well, of course the MMR vaccine doesn’t “cause” autism. If it did, every kid that got the vaccine would become autistic. That’s what “causation” means.

These facts remain:

  • Our government’s own guidelines for toxic levels of mercury for young children were exceeded by the recommended vaccination schedule for a period of about 15 years (late 80s – early 2000s).
  • Add to that the cumulative effects of mercury in the environment. Don’t forget, the recommendation for pregnant women to stay away from albacore tuna — because of fears about high levels of mercury — was not yet in effect. Mercury builds up in the body, and your liver doesn’t really care if it came from tuna fish or a vaccine.
  • Add to that the fact that the explosion of autism diagnoses began just few years after the MMR vaccine was added to the standard vaccination schedule. Autism is hard to diagnose until at least age 3, much of the time. Hardly a smoking gun, no, but given all the rest of it, interesting, yes?
  • Then add to that the empirical testimony from many people who saw their kids as developing “normally” one day and then changed overnight, after they had the MMR shot when they were also sick with a depressed immune system.

So is all that just a series of Big Coincidences? Do you have to be a nut to view this timeline as pretty suspicious? At least a little bit suspicious? I really don’t think so.

So I’ve come to the conclusion, until better evidence and arguments can convince me otherwise, that a large portion of the rise in autism spectrum disorders (or PDD) is due to toxic levels of mercury from all sources, and a major driver was vaccinations containing thimerasol.

But I could be wrong. And we still don’t really know at this point what is going on here. As with all things, time will tell. There has been some evidence I’ve seen that the diagnosis rate for autism started to decline in some places a couple of years ago.

And obviously,whenever free government money is there for the taking, there is always the risk of a racket popping up. But I personally had never heard of autism until the movie “Rain Man” came out when I was in my late 20s. Growing up, I knew, probably, 4,000 – 5,000 people over my lifetime up to that point? Never once do I remember hearing about any kids with an autistic label on them. I just don’t think it existed on the scale that it does now. I’m sure you could ask anybody forty and over, and nearly every single one would tell you about the same thing.

Why is that? Isn’t that rise something we should all be wondering about, and trying to address?

Am I an expert on this whole issue? No. But I’ve never heard anybody address the “it’s mainly a mercury problem and the vaccines contributed to a very large degree” argument. It’s sensible, it matches the facts, and it bows to no special interests.

So some things, to me at least, are pretty clear.

One. There was not enough FDA oversight into the risks of adding more vaccinations with potentially toxic doses of mercury.

Two. There has been, over the last few years, a serious effort underfoot in the drug industry to cover their asses , to avoid lawsuits. Do not assume objectivity is a prime driver in such efforts. When lawyers are sniffing around, it’s surprising how much research pops up proving this or that.

Three. The mass media, as usual, SUCKS at reporting on anything to do with science, or logic, or analysis of material facts. Ignore it. You get dumber every time you hear any of it. Very few journalists have even the tiniest bit of analytical skill, or any knowledge of statistics, probability, etc.

Four. There are way, WAY too many people who do basically zero research or critical thinking on their own, and yet they think they should write stuff on the Internets®.