JackassBy Harry Hofherr

If you've had an email address for more than 24 hours, odds are you've been introduced to The Darwin Awards. These are the Oscars of stupid human stunts. The Darwin's are awarded to those among us who exhibit a monumental disregard for double digit I.Q.'s. These are creatures that should not be allowed to pass on their DNA. They pee in the gene pool.

I got a new list of nominations not long ago and it got me thinking.

Leo Kanner, the guy who first described autism, coined the term "Refrigerator Mom", but Bruno Bettelheim is more closely identified with the phrase. Bruno made the expression his. He gave refrigerator moms their day in the sun. He put his stamp on the term and reaps the well earned disdain.

But, even without the decades of advancement in understanding autism, the idea that autism is the result of distant, uncaring, cold, refrigerator moms has got to be one of the sillier theories ever postulated, almost Darwinish. Refrigerator moms? You've got to be kidding. Even the name sounds quaint and condescending. Thankfully Bernie Rimland and a whole lot of very smart people put a torch to that theory. But…

But, maybe it wasn't so silly. Maybe Bruno just needed to adjust his aim a bit. How about refrigerator Doctors? Could they cause autism? I guess it's biologically plausible.

We all know cold hearted doctors with zero bedside manners and that silly godlike demeanor. They're usually the same folks who argue that vaccinating humans against every past, present, future, and potential microbe, is a wise and prudent public policy. And besides, it's profitable. The same folks also have a hand in creating or modifying many of the modern microbes that require their patented multiple dose vaccines.

Of course these very same people can't conceive of a connection between the irrational over reliance on vaccines and 20% of today's children (1 in 5) having some degree of neurological damage, including autism. But they believe we need further studies to determine if a program to study the potential implications of a possible linkage is warranted under prescribed conditions.

All vaccines pose a risk to some human bodies. When corporations increased the number of mandated children's vaccines they increased their risk. At the same time they increased their product offerings and their production, they decreased the government oversight. Now they're begging for infallibility. I can't imagine why?

I think vaccines were once a life saving discovery that unfortunately evolved into a religious and economic movement. The overindulgence in vaccines is now life threatening. As Bertrand Russell said, "All movements go too far".

Having almost 40 mandated vaccines on the childhood schedule is going way too far, again. Twenty years ago these same fanatical extremists were turning kids into little pink bubblegum flavored amoxicillin junkies, and we all know how well that worked out.  "Paging Doctor Mersa. Doctor MERSA. STAT!"

So; to honor Bruno, and  those stalwarts who go too far and loudly proclaim vaccine infallibility, and that there is no possible connection between vaccines and neurological damage, that there is no evidence of an autism epidemic, that autism is entirely genetic in origin and causation, that autism is a psychological dysfunction and not a biomedical disorder, that cold hearted mommies and old fart daddies cause autism, that autism is a lifelong sentence and parents who try to recover their kids are relying on junk science and charlatans, I suggest a new coveted award; "The Bruno's".

The Bruno's should be awarded to individuals, government agencies, Pharrma, politicians, members of the media, and maybe some charitable awareness groups, who combine the scientific fantasies of Bruno Belltelheim and an irrepressible urge to deny the ugly truth about vaccines.

For instance; Paul Offit wins a Bruno Award, for being Paul Offit.

Julie Gerberding wins a Bruno, for keeping a straight face.

The IOM wins a Bruno, for completely disregarding fundamental life sciences and relying on computer programming to determine there is no link between mercury and autism. (Somebody should have asked Santa for a microscope instead of a Playstation.)

Eric Fombonne wins a Bruno, just because.

The New York Times reporter extraordinaire, Gardiner Harris, wins a Bruno for not watching; "I am Legend" and drawing the obvious correlation.

I think the people who believe every vaccine is a gift from the Gods, that every microbe is another Mt. Everest to be conquered, and that Public Health only squirts out the end of a needle deserve a Bruno for their ignorant arrogance.

I'm pretty sure the readers get my drift here. I imagine an appropriate memento for this distinguished accomplishment might be a refrigerator magnet. 

Are there any other nominations?

Harry Hofherr and his wife have three children; two daughters and a son, Eric 11, who has autism. He has been in sales and marketing for over 25 years.


Maurine Meleck

I'd like to nominate my South Carolina congressional representative, Gresham Barrett for personally telling me he has never vaccinated his children, and yet wouldn't sign on to any of our proposed vaccine bills in the US Congress. Let me add to this list those legislators in Congress who turned a cold shoulder to us when we begged for help.
Maurine Meleck


I would like to nominate (the HMO) Harvard Community Health.

I went to them years ago and begged to have my son seen by an Autism Expert due to his significat mood, behavior and sleep problems.

First they sent us to a neurologist with no expertise in Autism and when he was no help their bright idea was to have me go into counseling as these problems obviously had something to do with my lack of parenting skills. (Ummmm someone at HCH must have read The Empty Fortress!)

After many councleing sessions to humor them, and many letters to the HMO we final were able to go out of plan and see a wonderful wonderful Dr. who was located all of 3 miles from our home.
Harvard Community Heatlh deserves this nomination for making my poor son wait to see a specialist, for all of the aggrivation they caused our family, and I am sure that there are countless other families who went through or who are going the same hell!


I also got the theme song for the Bruno's. AAP, CDC here is looking at you, kids:

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

We are not afraid
We are not afraid
We are not afraid some day
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

We are not alone
We are not alone
We are not alone some day
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day


I would like to nominate the whole membership of the AAP for the BRUNO, and would love to see my son's first and only pediatrician collecting the award (Dr. Mary Jane LaGrew, of Lexington, KY, this is your 15 minutes of fame, there you have it)

Also, Dr. Betty Wolf from the University of Kentucky Hospital, the children psychiatrist who diagnosed my son, for her sound advice given with a kind smile: "your son has some type of ASD", "don't believe those therapies you hear about, chelation!? diets!?, the only good therapy out there is ABA but you won't be able to afford it", "Special diets?? behavior changes are just mood changes, they depend on what type of day you are having".

Finally I would like to nominate myself, for fighting like crazy with my insurance to have them pay our pediatrician her overdue first bill. The pediatrician refused to give my son the 4 vaccines due at his 2 month old visit until the insurance paid her. I fought my HMO like crazy to make it happen, being very afraid that an additional day without the due vaccines was like a death sentence for my son. It turns out that, for once in my life, the HMO was actually working on our benefit and I failed to recognize it!

Craig Willoughby

I nominate Ken Reibel, aka AutismNewsBeat aka Heraldblog aka MidwestDad for this lovely little comment he made on his hate-site:

"Olmsted is editor of, an online water cooler where dim-witted sociopaths and shrieking Chicken Little’s compare conspiracy theories and cheer on declining vaccination rates. Without First Amendment protections, these fools would have have been lined up and shot around the time thimerosal disappeared from scheduled childhood vaccines, or roughly six years ago."

That, and because I just can't stand the ....


You all are a tough act to follow, and I definitely support your nominations, but I also would like to nominate every single pediatrician who has advised a parent with a child who suffered an obvious vaccine-related adverse event (seizure, anaphylaxis, etc.) to a particular vaccine to have that same child re-vaccinated with the same damaging vaccine, according to the schedule, because adherence to the schedule is more important than the individual health of the child.

The award could be a full set of aluminum cookware!

Robin Nemeth

There are so many people here where I live who pretend to want to help families touched by autism, but are happy to shill for and cover for those who are complicit in this. I met them when I decided to try to do something of a positive nature, to make a change in the autism community-- something other than sitting in front of a computer reading and writing letters and blog posts. I soon learned that there is no one in a leadership position who's been purporting to support families affected by autism who is willing to take any kind of real, public stand for the vaccine damaged. How can I help support them if I want to do something of a positive nature? I could never throw in my lot with them.

Some of them have children of their own with autism, and their ability to delude themselves in order to keep on supporting the organizations who bring in the large sums of money just astounds me. For them, this is simply about raising autism awareness, and money. It's about working with the largest organizations no matter how corrupted they are, either simply because they are the largest, or because their 'friendships' with the people in these organizations go way back.

It saddens me at first to think that their children will not know the same kinds of friendships, but then when I think about it some more, it really doesn't sadden me at all.

I nominate the leaders of all of the major Greater Cleveland area autism 'support' organizations.

I think the awards should be in the shape of party favors.


HARVEY KARP! He is DEFINITELY a Bruno wiener.....oops I mean winner :-)


I believe that if Liz Birt of SafeMinds were still alive, she would nominate Dr. Roger Bernier (Associate Director for Science at the CDC) for a Bruno.

Below is a part of a letter sent by Liz to Congressman Dan Burton regarding Dr. Bernier's perjured testimoney before the U.S. House Reform Committee during hearings regarding the rise in autism.

"In addition, I would also like to point out testimony given by Dr. Roger Bernier of the CDC at the July 18, 2000 hearing that was false. Dr. Bernier was questioned by Congressman Waxman as follows: Congressman Waxman: “ The question that I would like to ask, and I am sure parents want to know, is this being done because there are known adverse related events or as a precautionary measure? CDC convened an expert panel to examine data that showed a possible weak link between thimerosal and certain developmental delays. The panel presented its findings to CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and concluded that the data were insufficient to show a causal connection between thimerosal and certain developmental delays. Is that true? Is that the position that the CDC has taken?” Dr. Bernier responded: “That’s correct, Mr. Waxman. At the present time CDC has no evidence of harm to any children from thimerosal in vaccines. We have constantly acted to look at safety. Following the episode last summer, CDC did begin to look at the data in the Vaccine Safety Datalink, and one of the outcomes was autism, and there was no suggestion of any association between thimerosal exposure and autism in the Vaccine Safety Datalink study.(emphasis added)”

Congressman Burton, based upon the documents that CDC turned over to SAFEMINDs last year I believe that Dr. Bernier perjured himself at the July 18, 2000 hearing. My belief is based upon the following facts: 1) Dr. Verstraeten’s 2/29/00 VSD study found a relative risk for autism of 2.48 at a thimerosal exposure of 62.5 mcgs of thimerosal and above; 2) Dr. Verstraeten’s 2/29/00 and 6/1/00 VSD studies found a statistically significant positive correlation between: 1) the cumulative exposure at 2 months of age and unspecified developmental delay; 2) the cumulative exposure at 3 months of age and tics; 3) the cumulative exposure at 6 months of age and attention deficit disorder; 4) the cumulative exposure at 1, 3 and 6 months of age and language and speech delays; and 5) the cumulative exposure at 1, 3 and 6 months of age and neurodevelopmental delays in general. Dr. Bernier was copied on both of these studies. I do not believe he was truthful in his testimony when he made these categorical remarks to your committee."

What a dirtbag!

Pamela Felice

I have three nominations;

1. Dr. David Tayloe, President Elect of the AAP for stating in a recent article titled, *Doctor says finger-pointing isn't an answer to the 'whys' of autism* that “One of the biggest misperceptions, the physician said, centers around the belief that vaccines cause autism. Studies being done in other countries, however, are not showing a linkage between the two,” he added.

He then goes on to say, “Other connections have been drawn between autism and the environment. Specifically, lead and mercury issues as well as aluminum and pesticides. Those are not easy to study or draw conclusions from, Tayloe said.

He wraps with, "Our job as physicians is making sure we consider all possibilities, particularly on a condition as baffling as autism," he said. "I think we have all got to work together, share ideas and come together on what is the best medical evidence for dealing with this."

What? Other connections have been mercury and aluminum in the environment yet we don’t need to point the finger at vaccines, which contain both. Huh? Never mind the "studies being done in other countries" comment. Where are the studies that have been done IN THIS COUNTRY?

2. Again, I nominate Dr. David Tayloe for recently stating on the Today Show, that all vaccines are safe for all children. Dr. Tayloe, have you recently read the pharm insert for any given vaccine? And why does the Vaccine Adverse Reactions Reporting System exist if all vaccines are safe for all children?

3. Oh…again Dr. David Tayloe for stating on Larry King’s Vaccine Debate that he has never reported a case to VARS, as though this is evidence that adverse reactions don’t occur. Yet his own father lost the largest vaccine injury law suit levied against a physician for over three million dollars.

Maybe like you said about Offit, I nonimtate Dr. David Tayloe for simply being David Tayloe.

Teresa Conrick


This was a joy to read! I completely agree with your list of winners. We may have more to add as the fat lady has not yet sung....btw, it may be appropriate to have that magnet be one gargantuan toilet...fitting for the crap they dispense.


I'd like to nominate Kev Leitch for his arrogant, condescending remarks, his ridiculously more-rightous-than-thou blog, and his refusal to consider helping his daughter.


Keith wins the best comment ever written on a blog award. End of story.


I would like to propose a special catagory for the tireless and always funded proponents of the vaccine industry.

The award will be deemed the "Pharmaceutical Industry Secret Shill" award for disinformation.

Hereto named forever after for the first receipt: Paul Offitt.

It will be known as the "P.I.S.S. Offitt"


I suggest the award statuette be made of, what else, aluminum, with some other "trace" metals.


I'd like to nominate
big Agriculture, specifically Monsanto, for totally bastardizing our food;
big Chem, for bastardizing our lawns, air and water;
big Electric, for bastardizing our air and water;
big Trade Asssociations, for protecting dental mercury and vaccine mercury;
and last but not least,
big Organizations, specifically AS, for fundraising galore with no solution in sight


Great post.
I'd like to nominate also soem Diva that roams around, and some Orac guy. Their logic and rethoric really make them worthy of such high recognition.


Paul Offit's book, due in September, is from the same publisher who brought us "Spock vs. Q." Science fiction is their forte.


Another group who should get a special BRUNO award are the drug reps, who will tell any and every lie possible in order to get doctors to do their bidding by prescribing the "other" poisons that the drug cartels manufacture for made up diseases.

As to the vaccine issues, being a mom of an almost 11 year old son who lives with vaccine toxicity (a.k.a. autism) I know exactly what, how and when it happened. And yes I believe there is a genetic component to this issue. BUT I also believe that vaccines contribute to the problems associated with ALL learning issues. It's just autism is so pronounced and obvious that issues like speech delay and ADHD get lost in the mix. I also believe that mercury in vaccines is only one part of the problem and until the entire vaccine production, delivery and schedule is completely re-evaluated (and not by any government agency or drug cartel) nothing is going to change much.

Another HUGE contributing factor is the environment we live and raise our children in. My environmental exposures as a young child/young adult is what lead to the "genetic" component that contributed to my son's issues.

It is time to take back our government from special interests and agencies whose only agendas are to line their own pockets instead of protecting the citizens of this once great country.


Needle Hellth

"I think the people who believe every vaccine is a gift from the Gods, that every microbe is another Mt. Everest to be conquered, and that Public Health only squirts out the end of a needle deserve a Bruno for their ignorant arrogance."

Very well said and beautiful summed up. They do believe that Public Health DOES come from the end of a needle. Its a thought process driven by greed for money, the money that they cannot take with them when they die. Nobody has been able to do that thus far. And its a simple truth that they don't seem to get.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)