There’s a line in the movie, “The Right Stuff” in which an astronaut explains to an engineer the truth about funding by saying, “If there’s no bucks, there’s no Buck Rogers” and subsequently no space program.
The polite fiction maintained by this court is that those questioning vaccine safety have been listened to and substantial financial resources were directed to researching those claims. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it forms a necessary backdrop to a discussion of the Hazlehurst case.
Special Master Patricia Campbell-Smith begins by noting that this trial “does not and cannot offer a determinative explanation” for what causes autism. She then goes onto notes the number of articles submitted and the parade of experts and their qualifications, before finally noting that the government’s witnesses were more persuasive than the witnesses for the families.
But this decision was not inevitable. Campbell-Smith notes that “when appropriate, medical opinion and circumstantial evidence is enough to prove causation.” There was abundant medical evidence, including some very powerful testimony from family members and physicians, including a Harvard gastro-enterologist which could have more than sufficed for a favorable decision.
One of the staggering examples of the lack of intellectual curiosity in this case is the question of whether mercury exposure in the young might look and cause significantly different problems than in more adult members of the population. While Campbell-Smith does an adequate job of recounting some of the petitioner’s theories on the functioning of the immune system, there seems to be little interest in trying to figure out what has gone wrong with these children.
Campbell-Smith’s willful blindness extends to her discussion of how there is “some evidence of a temporal connection” to the MMR shot received by Yates Hazlehurst and his subsequent deterioration. She notes it, but doesn’t seem to be able to go any further with it. Equally indicative of a lack of intellectual rigor is her discussion of Andrew Wakefield’s theories. At one point she mentions how the theory of measles virus persistence of Dr. Andrew Wakefield “continued to attract scrutiny”, when it was subject to vicious attack from the outset.
In her discussion of whether Yates suffered from immune system problems, she notes his 8 ear infections and treatment with anti-biotics, his normal development, his gastro-intestinal problems, but seems to be dazzled by the parade of the government’s expert witnesses who can offer no other explanation, other than it couldn’t possibly have been the vaccines.
I also find it amazing that certain assertions put forth by the government are not questioned, while straight-forward propositions such as that mercury can affect immune-system function are questioned with the scorn reserved for those who believe 9/11 was an inside job. The government continually talks about autism “genes” but despite millions of dollar spent in this pursuit still can’t find them. And when such genes show “an association” is found, a closer observation inevitably shows those genes to be involved in detoxifying the body of harmful substances.
The other day I was staggered to read a press release from Stanford University in which they announced they’d developed a test which might identify those suffering from problems with mitochondrial function. Their answer was to measure glutathione levels. That’s something the biomedical community has been doing for years.
The sad truth of the matter is that we are massively out-gunned in terms of research dollars. The medical personnel who undertake our cause do it knowing full well there will be many defeats. Judges will be dazzled by experts who claim to know so much, except for the question of what causes autism.
But there is a moral dimension to our cause that they can never match. I don’t know how long it will take, but we will someday have the answer that even the medical community’s best and brightest fail to provide us.
Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor for Age of Autism.