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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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January 6, 2011

MMR Vaccine and Autism: Lies, All Lies

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Posted by Derek

The 1998 paper that linked MMR vaccination with autism has had a long way to fall. It made, of course, a huge media sensation, and energized the whole vaccination/autism controversy that still (in spite of evidence) goes on. But it didn't look very robust from the start, scientifically. And over the years it's gone from "Really needs shoring up" to "hasn't been reproduced" to "looks like there's something wrong with it" to "main conclusions retracted" to the final, lowest level: outright fraud.

Here's a good history of the whole affair in the BMJ. And here's the first part of a series of articles by Brian Deer, the journalist who dug into the study and found how fraudulent it really was. Not one of the 12 cases in Wakefield's original study hold up; the data were manipulated in every single one to make it fit his hypothesis. His hypothesis that he was getting grant money for. His hypothesis that he was already planning lawsuits around, before the study even started.

His hypothesis, I might add, that has led to completely unnecessary suffering among the unvaccinated children this scare has produced over the years, and has diverted enormous amounts of time, energy, and money away from useful study of autism. This sort of deliberate action is really hard to contemplate, as a reasonable human being - it's like some sort of massive campaign to persuade people to throw bricks through the windows of ambulances.

In a better world, we'd be getting expressions of sorrow and contrition from all the celebrities and others who've profited from this business. But that's not going to happen, is it?

Comments (75) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Autism | Snake Oil | The Dark Side


1. Anonymous BMS Researcher on January 6, 2011 8:17 AM writes...

It's enough to make the blood boil, isn't it?

But none of these
revelations about Wakefield's crimes can undo the damage, because
millions of parents -- and some high-profile celebrities -- will
continue to believe vaccines are dangerous despite the evidence.
Since I am very familiar with the evidence, I get my flu shots:
there is no such thing as an absolutely safe vaccine, but none of
them gets approved without plenty of evidence that getting the shot
is orders of magnitude safer than is going without that shot.

Unfortunately, some people will believe just about anything
if it makes the pharma industry look bad. Here's an interesting
little item from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings about how some
of those most loudly calling for our heads due to alleged
conflicts of interest have their own undisclosed conflicts
of interest: they make their living as expert witnesses for
lawyers who sue pharma companies!

No class of persons hold the unquestioned moral high ground, no
class of persons hold the unquestioned cognitive high ground. In
science, we must always check the evidence. We cannot take anybody's
word on faith: whether he or she works for industry, works for academia, works for government,
supports the position of industry, opposes the position of industry, is
a Catholic Bishop, holds a Nobel prize, whoever or whatever. The Royal
Society motto has been nullius in verba for centuries with good reason.

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2. Anonymous on January 6, 2011 8:25 AM writes...

I thought humans were supposed to be more highly evolved than the rest of the animal kingdom. When have you ever seen an animal hang its own offspring out to dry? The kids will suffer the cruelest Darwinian consequence of all; being raised by morons.

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3. Anonymous on January 6, 2011 8:35 AM writes...

A chemist would get tarred and feathered for the kind of crap that routinely goes on in medical research. I'm glad this guy's being called out, but I still see way too many idiots trying to get on TV with claims about how tomatoes cause cancer, cucumbers are a miracle cure for everything, etc!

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4. Anonymous on January 6, 2011 9:17 AM writes...

Well if a JOURNALIST says this, it must be true...geesh.

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5. Anonymous on January 6, 2011 9:20 AM writes...

The SCIENCE backs up Dr Wakefield:

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6. Lenore Kelly on January 6, 2011 9:41 AM writes...

sad, just sad. How to ever get the public to trust scientists when this kind of thing comes out? That's even worse than a lot of folks don't know the study was retracted.

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7. Anon on January 6, 2011 10:31 AM writes...

Hopefully this will lead to a case of real live Darwinism, i.e. dumb genes die out from completely preventable causes?

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8. monoceros4 on January 6, 2011 10:36 AM writes...

It's a continuing reminder that there's always a minor but lucrative career option open in the science if they're worried about getting a paycheck--just get yourself made one of the pet scientists for some crackpot movement or other. It requires abandoning all sense of professional integrity and intellectual honesty but, boy, if you've got enough chutzpah to make yourself an posterboy for HIV denial or creationism or whatnot, you'll never have to work a day in your life ever again. (Especially with being a creationist scientist, where you don't even have to be a biologist--you can still probably get a book or two out of it.)

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9. NotALancetFan on January 6, 2011 10:59 AM writes...

Surely "The Lancet" also deserves some blame for this sorry affair? Apparently, it rejects at least 90% of the papers submitted to it yet it published Wakefield's rubbish and some other, to say the least, dubious stuff on a link between GM food and cancer in rats! Clearly, peer review does not work as intended!

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10. MoMo on January 6, 2011 11:16 AM writes...

Wakefield may be guilty of bad science but so is the practice of putting mercury in vaccines as an antimicrobial agent.

A hundred years from all of us as chemists will be labelled as dumb bastards for allowing this to occur.

And to say that mercury in vivo has NO effect at all would be continued ignorance for substance that could have been replaced by a safer and less controversial antimicrobial agent.

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11. Dyna on January 6, 2011 11:50 AM writes...

Mercury is a red herring. The recent past has shown that once it is removed anti-vaxers will move on to the next substance du jour, and then we can have posts about how allowing that substance was a "dumb bastard" move.

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12. incha on January 6, 2011 11:56 AM writes...

According to the FDA website the MMR vaccine does not, and has never, contained organomercury (the agent in question is called thimerosal).

I hope the press publicises Wakefield et al's fraud with as much vigour as they covered the original article.

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13. anchor on January 6, 2011 12:05 PM writes...

@momo: In US and European countries, Thiomersal (the mercury salt you speak of) is no longer used and the practice itself is not that dumb as you suggest. Thiomersal was in the past used as a preservative (for the vaccines) and it did lot good (go educate yourself in Wikipedia). Until this fraudulent paper appeared, no one gave damn and the small amount of Thiomersal in a vaccine was a tolerable risk in comparison to no preservatives (and risk death) and vaccination either. You have been misinformed in this case and am not underestimating the toxicity of mercury salts.

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14. MoMo on January 6, 2011 12:18 PM writes...

11-13 posters. No amount of mercury in a developing brain is acceptable-elemental or otherwise as masked by thimerosal.

I am educated well beyond Wikipedia, but lends the question to you three. Have you ever opened a biochemistry book?

But this is America, and if you want to inject your children with mercury that is your right.

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15. monoceros4 on January 6, 2011 12:33 PM writes...

"I am educated well beyond Wikipedia..."

AM radio stations don't count as "beyond".

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16. LuckyChucky on January 6, 2011 12:52 PM writes...

"No amount of mercury in a developing brain is acceptable" Really? Why do all the guidelines that I am familiar with (e.g. FDA) allow a pregant mother to eat up to a certain amount of tuna every week, despite the fact that it has mercury in it? Why does the EPA allow mercury in drinking water up to 2 ppb? I guess the FDA and EPA don't have the same biochemistry book you have.

Unfortunately, it appears maybe even scientists get caught up in the inability to balance risk/benefit/cost and we get blanket statements like the one above. It kind of frightens me because these are the types of folks that end up on product liability juries...

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17. MoMo on January 6, 2011 1:33 PM writes...

What, do we have a bunch of mercury and FDA as savants lovers here? Or are you last posters a herd of lobbyists and policy monkeys for the Pharma industry?

Either way we will be shamed in a 100 years for allowing such a chemical in consumer goods.

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18. Dave Bell on January 6, 2011 1:34 PM writes...

The idea of mercury as a component of a vaccine doesn't make me comfortable, but the critical factor is the quantity. We'e talking about 1 milliliter total, injected, and, where thiomersal is used as preservative, concentrations of no more than 1 milligram per litre.

Which means a sub-microgram dose of the mercury compound. 1 microgram in 10 kilograms body weight It's not very much at all.

And in the USA and Europe, it's not used any more, so there's no need to worry. Get your kids vaccinated.

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19. MoMo on January 6, 2011 1:48 PM writes...


That's about 10 quadrillion molecules of a lipophilic molecules per dose. And given the lipophilicity of the brain you cannot possibly predict what could happen, and neither can the FDA or EPA

One molecule/atom can cause one event and quite predictably one disease.

Now excuse me while I down some Bis-phenol A with my coffee.

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20. incha on January 6, 2011 1:54 PM writes...

Unfortunately it is people scaremongering in this fashion that leaves parents confused about whether or not to vaccinate their children. The evidence is Mumps, measles and rubella are life-threatening and highly infectious diseases. There is no evidence that vaccination causes any harm to children. It should be a straightforward choice.

As for our 100 year window - thiomersal has been in use since 1930/1931. It has the backing of health organisations around the world. I doubt that over the next 20 years we are suddenly going to discover that it has some huge neurological effects.

However, I would again like to reiiterate that there is no mercury in the MMR vaccine!

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21. Wavefunction on January 6, 2011 1:58 PM writes...

-One molecule/atom can cause one event and quite predictably one disease.

Pathogenic bacteria that could have been avoided through vaccination cause many more diseases much more predictably. I would rather die from the unpredictability of a few atoms of Hg than from the predictability of measles, mumps, polio, smallpox, tetanus and meningitis.

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22. anchor on January 6, 2011 2:09 PM writes...

Moving away from mercury and reports that Boceprevir, an investigational oral Hepatitis C protease inhibitor from Merck has, received FDA priority review and EMA accelerated assessment. It seems to me that Merck had managed to fly below the radar (though the efficacy of its drug was well known) and comes as a surprise (or shock) to many. This triumphs what we had all hoped to hear from Vertex regarding its Hep C drug (people were betting it will go ahead of Merck, including several postings from the blog "New Merck Reviewed". Can someone enlighten as to what is going on?

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23. Formerlawyer on January 6, 2011 2:10 PM writes...

Of course, one of Dr. Wakefield motivations (if not his primary one) was to profit as an expert witness in a class action lawsuit brought by an unscrupulous lawyer. The lawyer and a misguide activist group JABS selectively recruited the children some two years before the paper.

His fraud put many children at risk, indeed may have killed some of them - he could be sued. The irony is inescapable.

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24. MoMo on January 6, 2011 2:16 PM writes...

Where in any of the previous posts do I say don't vaccinate your children? I am all for it, so read carefully. I am dead set against increasing the bioburden of mercury by purposefully ingesting it. If it gets to you through the food supply that is the price you pay for eating.

The only scare-mongering I support is the fact that few chemists stand up to such an absurd compound in children.

And they should be afraid--of not having the balls to stand up to bad consumerism and believing mercury, even in microgram levels, is safe.

"Commerce without morals is a form of aggression"

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25. ex-Pfizerite on January 6, 2011 2:18 PM writes...

One hopes that there really is a Hell so that the good Doctor can find himself in an especially warm corner of it.

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26. Bender on January 6, 2011 2:47 PM writes...

so read carefully

Take your own advice, genius.

According to the FDA website the MMR vaccine does not, and has never, contained organomercury (the agent in question is called thimerosal).

@momo: In US and European countries, Thiomersal (the mercury salt you speak of) is no longer used and the practice itself is not that dumb as you suggest.

However, I would again like to reiiterate that there is no mercury in the MMR vaccine!

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27. LuckyChucky on January 6, 2011 3:02 PM writes...

Hey if its in tuna or water, no problem - eat or drink away because thats part of the food chain (did he say that?) but if its in a life saving few shots and put there for a good purpose, thats just crazy!

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28. MoMo on January 6, 2011 3:12 PM writes...

Bender, If you only knew.

Read this, or are you a paid industry consultant (read liar)?

Don't believe everything you read from the FDA.

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29. incha on January 6, 2011 3:34 PM writes...

This paper is only comparing reported cases of autism to vaccinations. As we have seen previously on this blog you can generate statistics from almost anything (remember those life-saving mexican lemons.) Increased rates of autism could equally be due to dietary changes over the same period or a huge number of other factors. Simply comparing numbers is no evidence at all. It is also interesting that the author of this study is being paid to show the dangers of vaccines.

Again, MMR vaccine does not and has never contained mercury.

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30. Bender on January 6, 2011 3:34 PM writes...

Well, that certainly is a decisive argument! Wait, what's this link in the corner of PubMed?

Autism and thimerosal-containing vaccines: lack of consistent evidence for an association.

or this?

Vaccines and autism: evidence does not support a causal association.

Hold on, are you telling me the paper you linked by Geier is suspect?

"In 2003, a judge ruled that Geier presented himself as an expert witness in "areas for which he has no training, expertise and experience."[1] In other cases in which Geier has testified, judges have labeled his testimony "intellectually dishonest," "not reliable" and "wholly unqualified."[1] Another judge wrote that Geier "may be clever, but he is not credible."[3]"

Say it ain't so? You cherrypicked an article just to support your claim? How delightfully unscientific! You're in over your head, leave the science to people who have actual training in it, you go watch Discovery Channel and try to wow us with something new later!

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31. Diego on January 6, 2011 3:36 PM writes...


The article that you reference has been widely discredited and large parts of it have been plagiarized from the original sources. see

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32. Prove_it on January 6, 2011 3:37 PM writes...

@28 MoMo: "Read this, or are you a paid industry consultant (read liar)?"

I can't read it because I don't have a subscription. I can, however, read Wikipedia's entry on the author of this article, one Mark Geir:

"when the Institute of Medicine reviewed vaccine safety in 2004, it dismissed Geier's work as seriously flawed"

Now I have no special knowledge of this field but it seems to me that bright people who do have comprehensively trashed his work on the grounds of crap science. Rather like Wakefield. Or are they also part of some conspiracy?

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33. Kato on January 6, 2011 3:46 PM writes...

Didn't The Lancet also publish a study showing Dimebon was a potential treatment for Alzhiemers?

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34. MTK on January 6, 2011 4:28 PM writes...

Give it up folks.

Guys like MoMo are zealots.

It doesn't matter what facts or data is presented. Those that don't fit are part of the conspiracy. Those that do fit, are telling the truth. "Truth" and "lies" are easily distinguished. There is no room for inspection and evaluation, only acceptance or removal.

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35. MoMo on January 6, 2011 4:29 PM writes...

I would rather be on the Discovery Channel, which I have and will be again.
In the meantime, crush up some energy saving bulbs and feed them to yourkids, seeing how you like mercury so much.

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36. Hap on January 6, 2011 4:53 PM writes...

I keep wondering if vaccine denial is a plot by creation science people to show that other groups can be just as dishonest and bats**t insane as they are without any religious undertones. I think it's working out pretty well so far.

I get the same feeling when the penny stock people come out to feed.

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37. Bender on January 6, 2011 5:56 PM writes...

Pfffft! I've been on tv like a dozen times, no use trying to impress me with THAT!

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38. Spiny Norman on January 7, 2011 12:09 AM writes...

@MoMo: "Have you ever opened a biochemistry book?"

Why, yes. Yes I have. In fact I write a syllabus that tells the kiddies which pages to read in that big ol' book before each lecture (which I then deliver, personally). I teach the subject to hundreds of undergraduates every year.

And you're a loon.

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39. Watching the Discovery Channel on January 7, 2011 3:01 AM writes...

I would rather be on the Discovery Channel, which I have and will be again.

Funny that you should mention that. I was just watching TLC (a subsidiary of the Discover Channel) and saw an ad for a show, something like "My Strange Addiction". A woman on the show is addicted to eating laundry detergent and soap. Anyways, she has a meeting with a doctor who says, "Detergent contains sodium carbonate, that's bleach!".

Was that you? Sounds like your type of science.

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40. Cartesian on January 7, 2011 5:57 AM writes...

It is a shame !

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41. Om Nom on January 7, 2011 8:55 AM writes...

MoMo is just trying to make anti-vaccinationists look bad. You folks are being trolled.

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42. Hap on January 7, 2011 9:37 AM writes...

I don't think they need the help.

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43. fuelair on January 7, 2011 9:56 AM writes...

This is fun!! We get a lot like it on JREF (Forum)MoMo (NoNo!!!???) is typical of the anti-vaxxers we get (may even post there under another name) as others have described.

As to the comment about being on the Discovery Channel - some years ago that actually tended to mean something. With all the pseudo science/weird job/situation stuff on it now, it really doesn't - though, frankly, I suspect MM has been on the DC only by sitting on top of his television while it was on.

Noting that I have not actually addressed any of MM's comments, that is because they have been nicely addressed and identified as what they really are by others - who I would like to thank for their efforts in education here!!

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44. MoMo on January 7, 2011 11:41 AM writes...

Speculate all you want. Since when did this blog become saturated with brain-damaged mercury-loving sycophants to the Pharma industry?

The only thing keeping the chemists employed these days are vaccines and biologics as they promise new drugs to the pipeline and spend their time bitching about management, as noted here.

Of course you don't like my comments about antimicrobial agents like thimerosal. It threatens your pathetic careers, finances and existence in science. And again, I support vaccinations, just not the poisons that go with it.

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45. LarryLarry on January 7, 2011 12:22 PM writes...

Troll Alert!

Hey MoMo, I saw CurlyCurly on the Discovery Channel, and he said he has a noogie for you!

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46. MoMo on January 7, 2011 12:49 PM writes...


I have an individualized education plan for your children (IEP), courtesy of their mercury levels!


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47. Hap on January 7, 2011 2:03 PM writes...

Let me guess: It involves homeschooling, no facts, and lots of dishonesty.

Have fun with that.

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48. cynical1 on January 7, 2011 5:13 PM writes...

Just a thought............Wouldn't it be great if there were a vaccine to prevent stupidity?

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49. Hap on January 7, 2011 6:16 PM writes...

The secondary consequences would be too strong I think - if people couldn't do anything stupid, sometimes I wonder if we'd do anything at all.

It's when a steadfast refusal to think is combined with a vacuum where one's intellectual honesty was supposed to have been that gets on my nerves. I don't know what other than death is a cure for that, and usually other people get to come along with the perpetrators when that happens.

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50. Bender on January 7, 2011 6:17 PM writes...

There are some states that would be wiped out by such a vaccine. It'd be genocide.

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51. Osaka on January 8, 2011 4:54 PM writes...

MoMo: What? Most of the vaccines we're talking about are very low profit margins! I doubt a whole lot of money is made off of MMR as compared to the newer cervical cancer vaccine; now THAT is a block buster!

But be serious. Arsenic in low quantities isn't fatal, and it's pretty much liquid electron stripper, suffocating you from the inside while your lungs still work. The quantity makes the medicine; mercury has been proven to be fine BELOW a certain dose.

How do we know that? Dedicated mercury imbibers over the course of centuries. That's right; even before pharm even existed, we knew the doses for mercury. We've improved the accuracy of the bounds, for sure, but we know the bounds with high precision.

Guess what? The amount in MMR? Below those bounds. It's therapeutic at that level, not harmful. The dose makes the poison.

Stop throwing out accusations; science isn't political, and facts won't bend because you accuse them of having ill intent.

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52. MoMo on January 10, 2011 1:13 PM writes...


No accusations here and this has nothing to do with politics. Putting any extra mercury into children is wrong, the right science has won and it has subsided.

Regardless of what constitutes a measureable, biological response with a given dose of mercury there will always be a response that remains to be observed and measured. IC50 or LD50 values do not tell the whole story, and if you need reminded, Bisphenol A is a classic example.

It, too, is non-toxic a physiological levels. But recent advances in receptor molecular biology has shown it has clear effects on cell division/proliferation at levels way below the physiological exposure dose.

But again, chemists will be chastised in 100 years for allowing mercury to be added to kids' medicines the same way blood-letting, leech-therapy and trepanning is viewed today.

So grow a spine already you wussies!

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53. Terri Neate on January 10, 2011 3:51 PM writes...

The link between neurological disorders including autism, as well as immune reactive conditions and MMR vaccinations and amalgam dental filling has been well documented long before Wakefield's original study. Even in early published studies in the Lancet medical journal. While Wakefield may have been acting in a conflict of interest during the course of his study, his claim that MMR vaccines cause autism is not his alone. Of course the autism lobby groups are one of the most powerful in the world today so there are a lot of people who NEED autism. As far as the increase in Autism as an indication that autism is not related to the MMR vaccination (since thirmerosal was removed in 2003), is laughable. Psychologist and Psychiatrist and Doctors have been labelling people for the money attached to the diagnoses. In Ontario, Canada we diagnose for dollars. If you want any behaviour health services here, you need a label. Our schools make large amounts of money off of children labelled with severe learning disabilities like autism. The increase in autism has been exaggerated as has the Alzheimer's diagnose for this reason(you want to talk about fraud and lies....). The pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making MADNESS. Consumers have a right to be informed.

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54. MoMo on January 10, 2011 4:28 PM writes...

Yo Hap,

My kids go to private schools because as a successful medicinal chemist I can afford it, so stop your BS nonsense you spineless-jellyfish of a poster.

How dare any chemist or scientist come to the defense of mercury or any other stealth toxin.

You should burn your diplomas and get a job where you can not influence any modicum of reality, like the greeter at Wal-Mart.

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55. Hap on January 11, 2011 11:27 AM writes...

Maybe you should talk to AttorneyAtRaw about that. I'm sure you two would agree I'm stupid, although on what else you could agree I have no idea.

I'd like to see that discussion, actually.

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56. Anon on January 11, 2011 12:55 PM writes...

Looks like MoMo got a HUGE dose of mercury that damaged its brain. Do you have light sensitivity, pink cheeks and shed skin by any chance?

From WikiPedia:
Common symptoms of mercury poisoning include peripheral neuropathy (presenting as paresthesia or itching, burning or pain), skin discoloration (pink cheeks, fingertips and toes), swelling, and desquamation (shedding of skin).

Because mercury blocks the degradation pathway of catecholamines, epinephrine excess causes profuse sweating, tachycardia (persistently faster-than-normal heart beat), increased salivation, and hypertension (high blood pressure). Mercury is thought to inactivate S-adenosyl-methionine, which is necessary for catecholamine catabolism by catechol-o-methyl transferase.

Affected children may show red cheeks, nose and lips, loss of hair, teeth, and nails, transient rashes, hypotonia (muscle weakness), and increased sensitivity to light. Other symptoms may include kidney disfunction (e.g. Fanconi syndrome) or neuropsychiatric symptoms such as emotional lability, memory impairment, or insomnia.

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57. Dude on January 11, 2011 2:32 PM writes...


You all just do not like the facts, that's all, and use vitriol and obfuscation to make a weak point.

I am on MoMo's side on this one and the rest of you are caught in his headlights.

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58. Hap on January 11, 2011 2:42 PM writes...

1) When you get some facts, please tell someone. A lot of people would probably be interested.

2) Being caught in the headlights probably isn't a real problem for anon - when the car's engine and transmission are in pieces in the driveway, being caught in the headlights isn't really all that much of a problem.

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59. MoMo on January 11, 2011 3:37 PM writes...


Start practicing. "Welcome to WalMart-We love you"

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60. Hap on January 11, 2011 4:30 PM writes...

I didn't think I could be more amused than by being called a leftard by whiny rabid conservatives, but it turns out that being called a likely Wal-Mart greeter by an antivaccinationist is actually more amusing. Thanks.

If I commented on Pharyngula more, I could try for the career trifecta of being called a moron by creation "scientists", but it's really not worth swimming through the sewage to get there. My life is fulfilled enough as it is.

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61. MoMo on January 11, 2011 4:40 PM writes...


I like vaccinations as much as you. Just not the ones containing mercurachrome. It is a dumb molecule that was put there by ignorant scientists that are too afraid to speak up, probably like you in demeanor and with similar personality disorders.

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62. Hap on January 11, 2011 8:41 PM writes...

No, that's thimerosal - mercurochrome's what people used to use on wounds. Not that it matters.

And having you diagnose my personality disorders is like going to a witch doctor for cancer treatment, only less effective.

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63. Trottelreiner on January 11, 2011 10:07 PM writes...

While I wish everybody good luck explaining NOEL to our friends here, especially given the effects of phytoestrogens get hardly this level of attention...

There are some statistics saying the risk of autism in offspring rises with the age of the father. While there is one obvious explanation for this, namely men with some autistic traits father later, I've lately thinking about another one.

Autism and other PDDs can be conceptualized as developmental delays in some areas, which might mean slower maturing/ageing in multiple domains, not necessarily restricted to the CNS. Now the interesting thing is, AFAIK there is a general trend for people having childrens later. For some people too much of later, since they can't have children anymore for ageing reasons. So, if autism and other PDDs are related to a delayed maturing and delayed ageing, and this is not restricted to the CNS but also involves the reproduction system, which also involves the CNS, of course (see mating), genes predisposing for said PDDs are going to lead to later ageing and are thus going to raise the chances of still being able to have children at old age, which'd lead to two things; first of, old parents would have a higher incidence of PDDs in their offspring, second of, the incidence of PDDs is going to rise, since most parents get their children late.

Just a wild idea, but well, anybody has the adress of Med Hypothes?

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64. anon on January 12, 2011 9:54 AM writes...

Trott -

Keep your higher-ordered reasoning to yourself. Ideas like yours above, or ones based around physicians diagnosing patients so they get government support, any sort of genetic component or other familial links, or increased diagnosis based on changes in diagnostic practices can't possibly be the reason for increasing rates of autism.

There is only one simple answer: mercurachrome. Or thimerosal, whichever.

(BTW, Haven't autism rates continued to "rise" even though thimerosal/etc has been removed from all vaccines?)

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65. Trottelreiner on January 12, 2011 5:58 PM writes...

well, given the fact we don't even know if there is one kind of autism, I seriously doubt there is one etiology of autism at work; according to the DSM guys Asperger syndrome is just a glorified High-Functioning autism, and then the overlap betweeen AD(H)D and autism seems interesting, though that'd be another can of worms to open.

Since autism is still on the rise even if the use of thiomersal is stopped, this just shows how dangerous this stuff really is; seems like we can see the memory of the body fluids in action, you really though you need to tap it on the Organon to potentiate the feinstoffly wave functions in the water? *g*

BTW, please add smileys or like to note sarcasm and irony if the topic in question is going to attract some ironically challenged. Real life is bad enough, but decoding it on the net is horrible...

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66. MoMo on January 13, 2011 11:42 AM writes...

Thimerosal is still being used in some H1N1 vaccines.

If you think adding mercury to any medicine is safe than you are just a dumb-f%%k who has no business in science.

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67. Guoqiang Ai on January 19, 2011 2:52 PM writes...

I had a MMR shot this month. I am interested with this issue. I also translated this to Chinese. you can find it at

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68. Starfire on January 25, 2011 1:42 PM writes...

Wow, I always thought this blog got intelligent readers but the next thing I'm going to hear out of some of the people in this discussion is that table salt is evil because it contains Chlorine.

If science were that simple we wouldn't need chemists. Thiomersal is not the same thing as mercury. It has a different chemical structure. Yes, it breaks down in the system. So does table salt. Thiomersal however, does not as far as the studies seem to suggest, break down into elemental mercury. So you can't assume it *ACTS* like elemental mercury.

I'm not saying Thiomersal is as innocuous as the chlorine in table salt. I'm just pointing out that this is why we have chemists: to study these things.

The knee jerk reaction of "X is bad for me so everything that X makes must be bad for me" is highly fallacious. Especially in drugs where nearly anything can have a side effect. Wait until a (legitimate and rigorous) study actually documents brain damage as an effect of thiomersal before you panic about it.

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69. MoMo on January 31, 2011 4:06 PM writes...


Thiomersal breaks down to ethyl mercury, so it is not safe at all, and I am a chemist and I do study these things.

No knee kerk reaction here. Just keep mercury of any form from the consumer and all will be fine.

But they haven't so it isn't.

Any more corporate shills out there?

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70. vitor on March 18, 2011 3:23 PM writes...

What about mortality rates and graphs since the beginning of the 20 century? They clearly show that vaccines against most of the infectious diseases in childhood just appear when the disease was quite erradicated. And what about whooping cought (petussis) quite erradicated whithout any vaccine? Nobody talks about it! It doesn't matter anyway! And Hib vaccine that prevent B meningitis and open the door to the others types of meningitis and increase the number of pneumococcus pneumonia? Are relatives really informed about the vaccines and the problems they can carry on?

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71. vitor on March 18, 2011 3:24 PM writes...

What about mortality rates and graphs since the beginning of the 20 century? They clearly show that vaccines against most of the infectious diseases in childhood just appear when the disease was quite erradicated. And what about whooping cought (petussis) quite erradicated whithout any vaccine? Nobody talks about it! It doesn't matter anyway! And Hib vaccine that prevent B meningitis and open the door to the others types of meningitis and increase the number of pneumococcus pneumonia?

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72. Aurynez on March 31, 2011 9:40 AM writes...

Ok, so I find this link and expect an intelligent discussion. And it seems that there are a lot of people on here who boast high education. However, as I read through these posts, I'm reminded of a bunch of 13 year olds playing World of Warcraft. Seriously? Some of you actually teach people? Some of you have "been on TV"? We've got "trolls" trying to aggravate people, then we have a bunch of you taking the bait, and actually engaging them! Wow. Ok, so how about this idea:
Name calling is complete unproductive and stupid. and anyone who engages in it, immediately discredits themselves. As far as the discussion at hand, Why can't people be suspicious of the MMR shot? And I would hardly say people are stupid to be suspicious of it. Blindly following the results of one man's research is absolutely wrong, but questioning this vaccine is not. In fact, I'd say that is good parenting to question what is given to your children. And for whatever reason, this vaccine is controversial. If you believe it is ok, then defend it with facts. If you believe it's potentially dangerous, then do the research and prove it. Can anyone answer why they did away with the option of giving children the shots in seperate doses? To me, that just seems safer regardless what the studies say.

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73. Feddlefew on July 12, 2011 9:57 AM writes...

Well. I just read over the entire discussion, and I have to say it's actually going better than it usually does.

Sorry for being a latecomer on this, but Asperger's Syndrome should not be classified a form of high functioning autism. It *is* an ASD, but the differences between the two, such as the verbosity of people with Aspeger's Syndrome when compared to Autistic people, should warrant treating them as different syndromes.

Second, I would like to throw my hat in with the "Dose makes the poison." group. I agree that we should try to limit the amount of mercury that we intake, but we're relatively large organisms, and in some places near the highschool where I live there's enough mercury (and worse) in the soil that nothing will be built there for about 70-100 more years, depending on how fast they clean it up. The Romans, meanwhile, had a fine appreciation for the flavor imparted by lead cookware, and used arsenic as a sweetener.

So the miniscule amount of mercury contained within a few vaccinations isn't going to cause noticeable damage.

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74. Annie on January 28, 2012 4:00 PM writes...

Dear Author,

would you be so kind and explain why Robert got disabled by the MMR vaccine and it was acknowledged by the court, if MMR is harmless. Read Robert's story please:


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75. RayTay on February 24, 2012 5:23 PM writes...

Science has spoken, and indeed, the MMR vaccine has no connection to autism. The small amount of thermisol or mercury in the MMR; measles, mumps, rubella, vaccine does not cause, and has never showed a link toward autism as the culprit ingredient in the MMR vaccine. On a recent research project I did about the connection between the two, I discovered that children are more likely to obtain harmful diseases caused by NOT receiving the vaccine, than the unsure possibility that it causes autism, which turns out isn’t linked in the first place. I also find it very hard to believe the media in favor of an autism and MMR relationship, when a majority of their efforts are aimed to sue pharmaceutical companies. Celebrity Jenny McCarthy blamed the MMR vaccine for the cause of her son Evan’s autism. Come to find out, Evan had a rare case of Landau-Kleffner syndrome, which is similar but most definitely not autism like she thought the MMR vaccination had caused. Thousands of mothers have listened to Jenny with out the solid facts about the vaccine, influencing their decision on whether or not to let their children go unvaccinated. It’s a shame how public media and celebrity influences, not professionals, can get away with playing such a negative role in our society.

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