Managing Editor's Note: Mark and Dan were on Imus in the Morning to promote their new book, The Age of Autism Mercury Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic. Aof A reader and contributor Bob Moffit was kind enough to create an excellent unofficial transcript for us. Thank you, Bob. KS
By Bob Moffit
IMUS outlines the guests to appear on today's show:
0610 AM .. IMUS: "Congressman Peter King, Chris Wallace, Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill .. who are they? Well, these two guys wrote the book "Age of Autism: Mercury, medicine and a man-made epidemic". I think what they're saying is, that there is a direct link between thimerosal and autism. Which makes everybody .. on both sides .. hysterical. Here's the problem .. there's no evidence that thimerosal "causes" autism .. there's no evidence it does not.
Charles McCord: "Conclusive evidence.
IMUS: Yes, there's plenty of studies
MCCORD: Anecdotal evidence.
IMUS: And, there's billions of dollars spent by the pharmaceutical industry ... and ... people who suggest there is a link are characterized as being insane. Whatever. As I said for years .. and .. we talked about it and we're not going to talk about it a lot. It never made any common sense to me that you could inject a neuro toxin, ethylmercury, more toxic than what's in fish, into the bloodstream of an infant or a child, or anyone ... in the multiple amounts or doses .. and .. not have it do something. It may not "cause" autism .. but .. you would think .. well .. of course it does. So, it's a raging argument. I don't want to get in the middle of it, but, I'm certainly happy to air their views.
MCCORD: That's reasonable.
IMUS: I probably agree with them, although I can't .. I do agree with them ... but ..I have no evidence. I have no evidence...it's just one of my common sense (inaudible).
IMUS usually asks guest appearing on his show to name their "top five" list of favorite songs ..
Mark Blaxill's favorite "top five" Dan Olmsted's
"Feeling Alright" Joe Crocker "Doctor My Eyes" Jackson Browne
"I Feel Good" James Brown "Like a Rolling Stone" Bob Dylan
"Shining Star" Earth, Wind and Fire "Kodachrome" Paul Simon
"Steamroller" James Taylor "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" Crosby, Sills
"I Shot the Sheriff" Eric Clapton "Jeanson" Graham Blvd
IMUS: Not a bad selection from these two guys who wrote this book "Age of Autism". Gives you a chance to review people who think mercury causes autism. Although in the packaging of one of these vaccines, it warns a possible side-effect is autism. I hate to bring all this up .. but .. once you've met a parent who has an autistic child, a child with autism rather .. maybe you'd change your tune on that. But, you have to be reasonable, sensible and I think these two guys are .. and .. we'll find out.
0830 IMUS: "The Age of Autism" written by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill. It's just been released with forward by our old friend David Kirby, who wrote "Evidence of Harm", one of the better books ever written about the link between thimerosal and autism. Please welcome Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill. Alright .. guys, how are you?
MARK: We're doing good.
DAN: Good morning.
IMUS: So, Dan, who are you and what do you do now?
DAN: I run a blog called "Age of Autism" and I've done reporting on autism for about five years now. I started at UPI writing a column of the same name .. got interested in whether the history of the disorder could give us more clues than we already possessed about what might be going on here. That's how I got started.
IMUS: Mark, what do you do?
MARK: Well, I have a day job, I'm a business guy, but, I'm also the father of a daughter who is diagnosed with autism. She's fourteen years old now.
IMUS: One thing you have is a great voice. So, when was she diagnosed?
MARK: When she was about 2 1/2 years old, she had developed normally for the first year of life, she was beautiful, social, interactive, developing language .. and then .. sometime after she was one year old, she began slipping away from us .. which is an experience a lot of families have.
IMUS: Where is she on the spectrum?
MARK: Well, she started out kind of severe, but, now she's lovely, she's a terrific little girl ... she's got some deficits .. but .. she's social, she talks a lot, she's very engaging .. and .. she's come a long way.
IMUS: So, "The Age of Autism" brought you two together and the message is what?
DAN: The message is that autism, we believe, is man-made .. and .. that's an important distinction from what orthodox medicine says right now .. which is .. it's fundamentally a genetic disorder, possibly with some environmental factors .. it has always been around at about the same rate and that there's not much you can do about it, certainly not through treating it as a medical condition. We, essentially, think all those are wrong .. and .. the history that we've put together is strong evidence that is it wrong.
IMUS: What do you think caused your daughter's autism?
MARK: Well, I wish I knew. But .. what I do know is that .. and I learned this .. is that it used to be that autism was vanishingly rare. In fact, we argue that if you go back before 1930, the rate was effectively zero in the human population. Now you look around. I actually grew up in New Jersey .. (wish Diedre luck in Princeton .. that's my home town) New Jersey has some of the highest rates of autism ever measured in the world. If you are a white male born in New Jersey in 1998 .. I was a white male born in New Jersey in 1958 .. and .. I didn't know anybody who was autistic. Now if you're born in New Jersey, a white male, you're risk of getting autism is one in fifty. 2% of boys.
IMUS: It's unlikely there would be a genetic epidemic of anything. Right?
DAN: It's really impossible and the idea there has been no real increase we think is a really irresponsible argument to make in light of the evidence.
IMUS: This huge controversy .. as you're obviously aware of, is people suggesting that there is a link between thimerosal, a neuro toxin ethylmercury and autism. Those who say there is a link .. and .. those who say there isn't. What do you guys think?
DAN: What we did really was try to trace the rise of autism and that led us to look at the first eleven families who had children diagnosed in the 1930's .. in the famous paper. We were able to identify seven of those first eleven kids, who were only known by their first name and last initial. When we did, we found what we thought was significant exposure of the family to mercury, in particular a new kind of mercury that came on the market .. that was used in fungicides for agriculture and in vaccines. So, we think as that happened, the first cases appeared. Then it seemed reasonable to believe that when the vaccine schedule that included much more mercury exploded in the 1990's and so did autism .. there's probably a connection that has been missed here.
IMUS: There's a packaging insert with a vaccine called Tripedia, I think it is, right?
MARK: That's one of them. Yeah.
IMUS: That suggests one of the side-effects could be autism. So, I don't understand why that would be part of the packaging if the argument is that's absurd?
MARK: There's a lot of double-talk .. almost Orwellian these days. There's a Vaccine Court concession recently that said: "Vaccines didn't "cause" autism in the settlement they made .. or the concession they made .. but .. they "resulted" in autism. Which is almost Monica Lewinsky -like if you think about it. The real truth is mercury is bad for you, mercury in all kinds of forms is bad for you .. and .. the medical world has been exposing humans to mercury for centuries now. That's one of the things we talk about in our book and they've been arguing all along that it's safe, that it's therapeutic .. or .. that it's necessary. The sad truth is .. if you take mercury in doses now that were in vaccines and are still in the flu vaccine .. and .. you expose animals to it, infant animals, whether they are rats, or mice, or hamsters, or monkeys .. the infant animals are injured. It's breathtakingly clear that the doses that we're exposing these children to are dangerous. We shouldn't be exposing mercury to anyone .. giving mercury to an infant, on purpose .. is stupid.
IMUS: In his most famous phrase, David Kirby "Evidence of Harm" said: "The CDC or FDA" .. (or whatever it was .. regarding the link between Thimerosal and autism) ..
found "no evidence of harm". And, as David pointed out, that's 180 degrees from saying it's safe. So, let us make this statement .. then tell me whether its right or not. That there is no definitive, concrete evidence that links Thimerosal to autism .. and .. there's no concrete, definitive scientific evidence that it is not linked. Is that right?
MARK: I would say .. and .. actually I don't need to assert this .. there was a recent review paper published just a month or two ago .. that went through the evidence on mercury and autism .. and .. the connection .. and .. what the paper concluded was that 75% of published studies .. not propaganda, not the P.R. spin .. but .. if you looked at hard evidence in scientific studies ..whether it was in animals, or in children .. 75% of the studies supported some kind of link. 25% didn't. So, the weight of evidence we would argue is very clear .. that mercury is implicated in autism. We don't know whether it causes all cases .. we don't know how it causes .. or .. inflicts the harm that it does .. but .. mercury is dangerous to human beings .. and .. particularly ethlymercury is one of the most toxic forms ever.
IMUS: More lethal than what you would find in fish or breathing air. We talked about it two or three years ago .. when David Kirby's book came out .. to the point that I wanted to kill myself .. until I met parents who have children who had autism and they are much like the parents of children at the ranch who have cancer. It's not a death sentence, but, in some cases, it is.
MARK: It's a life sentence for many, many families. You live with it till you die .. and .. its a nightmare of every parent who deals with an autistic child: What happens when I'm gone? As a country, we are going to have to face up to the problem because we are now being exposed to a tsunami of autistic children who are becoming adults .. and .. we're not ready for that.
IMUS: You both have probably already been castigated, brutalized, by the pharmaceutical industry and others for this position .. and .. you're just asking for more of it here. I have great admiration .. I was talking to my wife about this .. she's my wife .. but .. she's very courageous .. and .. this is a battle that I said at the kitchen table "You can't win. You can't win .. you're not going to win." I realize that's a defeatist attitude, that nothing would ever get accomplished .. and .. that's not what we tell the kids .. because .. you think you can't win don't try it .. but .. in this particular case I really admire parents like you .. and you .. and others .. David Kirby, my wife .. people like that .. who are willing to fight this battle because .. again .. they're serious .. they won't stop until they try to ruin you.
DAN: Ultimately, its a question of what does the evidence show? We believe that good evidence will win out over bad evidence .. and .. we hope sooner rather than later .. because .. the future of the kids in our country is at stake.
IMUS: Of course .. they say .. that it's a genetic epidemic .. which even to someone as unsophisticated like me is absurd. They say, we have a better way to diagnose now .. but .. that don't make sense either.
MARK: It makes no sense at all.
IMUS: Where are the 30 to 40 year old people with autism?
MARK: Well, there are some 30 and 40 year old people with autism .. but .. one of the numbers I like to toss around .. if there were one hundred billion human beings born before 1930 .. if autism was then at a one percent rate .. before Leo Kanner .. there would have been one billion autistic people before he discovered autism .. when he wrote about it. It's very obvious this was an exotic .. brand new thing .. and .. Leo Kanner was the world's leading expert in child psychiatry when he found just a handful of kids. It's ridiculous to say "It's always been here". Any responsible citizen .. and .. I would say this to everyone .. everyone needs to be responsible for autism. You can't find a family that's not touched .. everybody knows someone whose touched with autism .. and .. its a fight we will have to fight. If we don't do it, we can't afford the Age of Autism. Everyone will pay.
IMUS: They say now, most of the vaccine manufacturers, except for the flu vaccine .. they have taken thimerosal out of most vaccines. I guess maybe there's trace amounts in some of them. Then .. there are some vaccines .. because thimerosal .. the reason it is in the vaccines in the first place .. as you know .. its a preservative .. still on the shelves of a lot of pediatricians and so on. It is fair to say they have taken thimerosal out of a lot of the vaccines. Yet the rates still go up .. what is your....?
DAN: It really isn't fair to say that, because the flu shot .. most of them contain mercury and coverage on those shots has increased just as the others have been phrased out. You can go into any big-box retailer now and you can barely get out of the store without getting a flu shot .. and .. it says right on the product label .. the safety of flu shots has not been established in pregnant women. Thimerosal or not .. and .. we believe based on our research .. that mercury containing vaccines given to pregnant women, nursing mothers or infants raises the risk of autism. That fact is being ignored .. and .. the data has been manipulated .. because the CDC did find evidence of harm and they suppressed it. Manipulated it. This may sound extreme .. but .. it's pretty clear and has been since David's book .. that's exactly what happened.
IMUS: So, is the end of the game for you to establish a definitive link between thimerosal and autism .. or .. what is it?
MARK: The end is not a game. The thing we need to do......
IMUS: It's just a phrase ...
MARK: I know .. I think to a lot of people .. it's a battle....
IMUS: (To shared laughter of all) "I wasn't suggesting it was football, you dope. Answer my question"
MARK: The strategy .. the issue here is taking responsibility for a crisis in childhood public health the likes of which we've never seen before.
IMUS: So, are you asking the pharmaceutical industry to take financial responsibility?
MARK: No, we're asking the medical leadership of the country to take responsibility back .. the governance of childhood health from the medical industry. One of the most outrageous examples, the woman who was in charge of many of these investigations into autism, while she was at the CDC .. she left the CDC. Do you know what her job is now? She's the president of Merck's vaccine division. So, the revolving door between industry and science .. we need the medical leadership of this country to take back these investigations from industry and focus on science. Focus responsible management of safety in childhood health.
IMUS: We only have a minute left. How did your daughter get better?
MARK: We helped her a lot . her mother's great by the way .. a great "warrior wife" .. who like Diedre is fighting this battle like many moms. We listened to other parents .. we've done special diets, we've done a whole host of things to reduce inflammation, to help her gut heal, to reduce oxidative stress. The whole host of things that you can do. She's gotten a lot better .. and .. responded well to those interventions.
IMUS: I really admire you guys, parents .. hope all of you win. I hope you get what you want, which does make sense, responsibility on the part of the medical community. Good luck with this book and I hope other people put you on....
DAN: Thank you, we sure appreciate it.
IMUS: You are more than welcome.....
Bob Moffitt lives in Sloatsburg, New York, and is the proud grandpa of Bobby Moffitt, a lovable ten year old, nonverbal boy, who "regressed" and was diagnosed autistic eight long years ago.