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Dr. Jon Poling to Dr. Steven Novella: Don't Attack the Moms

Salem_witchManaging Editor's Note: The following is a letter sent to Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale University, from Dr. Jon Poling. (We've printed the letter with permission.) Dr. Novella is the founder of The New England Skeptical Society (meetings, 1st Tuesday of the month, on the lawn of the House of the Seven Gables, Salem, MA. BYOB (bring your own blinders.) and is a contributing editor to Quackwatch. Dr. Poling is a neurologist/PhD and the father of Miss Hannah Poling.

Dear Dr. Novella,

Your assertion that the scientific question of Autism etiology belongs to the medical community rather than Hollywood Stars is correct.  I also agree that Hollywood opinions are more likely to be broadcast to millions because of their position in the media.  This heightened awareness is nothing but a positive thing for the million families struggling with this difficult, and all too common, disorder.  Jenny McCarthy is an Autism Mom looking for answers and rattling some cages—good for her.  Amanda Peet is a new mom who believes in the importance of vaccines to protect her baby—good for her too.  Don’t attack the moms, listen to them.   

These issues are very complex as we exchanged before and not amenable to soundbites.  Regarding your entry on Hannah’s case, your blog entry unfortunately propagates several of the mistakes from the media.

In criticizing the journalism of Mr. David Kirby, you wrote:

“He refers again to the Hannah Poling case, a girl with a mitochondrial disorder who developed a neurodegenerative disorder with “features of autism” after getting a fever from vaccines.”

Actually—Hannah has diagnoses of DSM-IV Autism (by JHU/KKI psychology) and mitochondrial disorder (by two metabolic experts).  The only ‘degeneration’ that occurred (along with 6mos of total growth failure) after 18mos of NORMAL development followed vaccination and nothing else! Of course, any ‘scientist’ can obviously point out that temporal correlation in a single case never proves causation. Rule number one of pediatrics though is “LISTEN TO THE MOM.”  Are 10s of thousands of autism moms over the last decade suffering from mass hysteria induced by Hollywood?  Not likely.

You also noted:

“This special case - which is not a case of autism being caused by toxins in vaccines - says nothing about the broader vaccine-autism debate.”

The only thing unique about my little girl’s case is the level of medical documentation—5 to 20% of patients with ASDs have mitochondrial dysfunction.  Many other cases where mitochondrial testing is WNL is because "we never looked" not because the testing would be "within normal limits."  Most mitochondrial experts will tell you that the dots of autism and mitochondrial disorders are strongly connected.

Finally, you say:

“The case was settled (not judged in Poling’s favor, but settled) because both sides realized it was a special case that could not be extrapolated to other vaccine-autism cases.”

The case was not settled, it was conceded by medical representatives of Sec HHS.  We are obviously pleased with the HHS decision to concede our case, but we had NOTHING to do with the concession.  This was a unilateral decision from HHS (recall that HHS is the respondent, rather than the vaccine maker, as manufacturers have blanket liability protection afforded by the Vaccine Injury Program established in 1986)  I will not speculate on the obvious question—why concede?   Hannah’s case was positioned to set precedent as a test case in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings for potentially thousands of other cases.

With regard to the science of Autism, I have no argument with the assertion that a single case does not prove causation of a generalized autism-vaccine link.  What the case does illustrate though is a more subtle point that many physicians cannot or do not want to comprehend (ostensibly because vaccines are too important to even question).  Autism is a heterogeneous disorder defined by behavioral criteria and having multiple causes.  Epidemiological studies which have not found a link between autism and aspects of vaccination do not consider the concept of autism subgroups.  Indeed, in a heterogeneous disorder like Autism, subgroups may indeed be ‘vaccine-injured’ but the effect is diluted out in the larger population (improperly powered study due to inability to calculate effect size with unknown susceptible subpopulation).   I think former NIH Director, Dr. Bernadine Healey explained it best in that population epidemiology studies are not “granular” enough to rule-out a susceptible subgroup. 

Furthermore, ‘science’ has not systematically studied the children who fell ill following vaccination to determine what the cause(s) for their adverse reaction was.  It would follow that if you never tried to understand why a single child developed encephalopathy following vaccination—you wouldn’t have the first clue as to what aspects of vaccination you could alter which could increase the relative risk of that adverse event (whether it be thimerosal, live virus, or ‘too many’). Could the susceptibility be a mitochondrial genetic haplogroup similar to Chloramphenicol toxicity—sure it could!  Why did a few Alzheimer’s patients die of fatal encephalitis following administration of the failed AN-1792 vaccine, but the majority had no ill effects (vaccine didn’t work though)? 

Definition:  Autism is a heterogeneous systemic disorder with primary neuropsychiatric manifestations due to complex genetic and gene-environmental interactions likely affecting synaptic plasticity early in childhood development.  This new theory of Autism is rapidly replacing the ‘old guard’ dictum that Autism is a genetically predetermined developmental brain disorder of synaptic formation/pruning that is set in motion prenatally.  By the ‘10 year rule of science,’ your time is about up! 

Until the biological basis of ASD subgroups are better understood, further epidemiological and genetic studies regarding “Autism” causation will be relatively meaningless.  We need good science to be able to address these complex issues which parallel nicely the emerging story of genetic and environmental influences in Parkinson’s disease.  Perhaps some Parkinson’s researchers want to take a crack at Autism?

Recommended SCIENCE reading for the evening:
Altered calcium homeostasis in autism-spectrum disorders: evidence from biochemical and genetic studies of the mitochondrial aspartate/glutamate carrier AGC1. Mol Psychiatry 2008 Jul 8.  (The discussion includes thimerosal as a potential toxin that could trigger further perturbations of calcium homeostasis leading to neuronal injury—and in a mainstream Nature publication no less)

Thank-you Dr. Novella and his band of skeptics for continuing the debate.

Dr. Jon Poling

Jon S. Poling MD PhD
Managing Partner, Athens Neurological Associates
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, Medical College of Georgia
Diplomate, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine
ASN Certified in MRI and CT Neuroimaging



Every now and then, I come across an old AoA post that has a jewel of a comment.

In this case, it's Steven Novella's comment that he posted ON THIS THREAD on July 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm.

If I had any doubts about his motivations before, I don't any more.

You know how the CDC's announced autism prevalence rate for any given year is for children born 12 years earlier? So the autism rate for, say, 2008, would be for children born in 1996, because the CDC would be analyzing data collected in 2004 on 8-year-olds. It's explained here:

So the children born in 1996 -- the children in the CDC's announced autism prevalence rate for 2008 -- obviously were still given all the old thimerosal-preserved vaccines during their first few years of life.

Yet Novella stated IN 2008 (!!!) with authority: "The fact that autism rates did not decrease after the removal of thimerosal from the routine childhood schedule supports the conclusion that it was not toxic in the first place."

No, Dr. Novella. We didn't know in 2008 what the autism rates were for children born after thimerosal was removed from the US pediatric vaccines . The CDC didn't announce the rate for the 2002 birth cohort until 2014, or the 2004 birth cohort until 2016 -- which was the first time the rate DIDN'T increase.

See what Dr. Novella did there?

Interestingly, in late 2004, the flu shot was added to the pediatric vaccination schedule -- and nearly all of the versions approved for use in children under 3 came in thimerosal-preserved multi-dose vials, because flu shots were not part of the pediatric schedule when the decision was made to remove thimerosal from pediatric vaccines.

And the autism rate increased again in the corresponding announcement year.

Here is Dr. Novella's full post quoted, in case anyone wants to scroll down and find it:

"Cathy - Toxicity is always about dose. There is sufficient safety data with vaccines to conclude that whatever dose children have received did not cause detectable toxicity. All medical interventions are about risk vs benefit - not absolute proof. The evidence shows that vaccine have more benefit than risk. The fact that autism rates did not decrease after the removal of thimerosal from the routine childhood schedule supports the conclusion that it was not toxic in the first place."

Posted by: Steven Novella | July 23, 2008 at 02:05 PM


Dr. Nobody, in the context of this article and these comments, your comment makes no sense. Dr. Poling certainly does no name-calling and makes no ad hominem attacks, and his article is extremely knowledgeable and logical. There are many well reasoned comments here, with good scientific references.

I have seen ad hominem attacks and name calling on both sides, but overall more of this from the vaccine defenders than from the vaccine critics.

If anything, you are the one casting aspersions, when you say "those who are in so much pain they can't think straight." That is a stupid and untrue stereotype. And Dr. Novella offers illogical repressive nonsense, not science.

Cherry Sperlin Misra

To A Little confused here,
You have lots of company. Many if not all AOA writers were confused too- at least at one time. Now we have got used to the house of mirrors build by modern medicine for their vaccines. But we are still angry and we are very sorry to see people like yourself tricked and lied to. Yes, mercury moves very easily from the mother to the fetus and doctors ought to know that. Yes, many flu vaccines still have plenty of mercury in them . If they contain mercury, your childs brain might just lose some neurons or develop an inflammation and for sure his immune system will be damaged for some time, so he is most likely to get sick with anything within some months after his flu shots, because mercury does not leave the body easily. On top of that it seems that during the time when we naively imagined that mercury in vaccines had stopped- it was not. Many vaccines still contained it- some in high levels even. Is the mercury really gone now? Well, in the field of mercury and vaccines, the truth is always a moving target, so its doubtful that you can get a very accurate answer to that. Now get this- There are "routine childhood vaccines" and then there are vaccines that somehow are not "routine"- but kids get them anyway because your doctor is going to give you a really dirty look if you dont. If you wish to avoid mercury in vaccines for those "non routine" vaccines- Here is one method: Go to your pediatrician without your child and ask for the insert of the vaccines (Its in the doctors waste basket) Purchase a magnifying glass and look for the word Thimerosal. If its there, you dont want that vaccine. And when you have some spare time do a Google search for sources of mercury. There are plenty of ways of coming into contact with mercury besides vaccines and neither you nor your child need it. You will be glad you did that.And with all sincerity- any parent who protects his child from mercury is a truly blessed person. One day you will be telling your grownup child how you did that


Dr Nobody

You are a liar and a fantasist. In the post below you are world-weary professional:

while here a dewey-eyed medical student. Still your talents are evidently well suited to (1) a career in the vaccine industry (2) an internet troll - and I am sure Dr Novella will appreciate your sentiments.

Dr. Nobody

Kudos to Dr. Novella.

As a medical student who has been reading both sides of this argument, I must salute the good Doctor. Not only does he make methodical analyses, but he avoids ad hominem.

Most of those against him resort to name calling and poorly supported arguments. For someone who is not a true believer in either side, those traits make your arguments very hard to review. Dr. Novella, thank you for coming here and posting, offering science to those who are in so much pain they can't think straight. Keep up The Great Work.

Kelli Ann Davis

Well, there you go! Girls rule (and don't even know it half the time) and Darla had it all figured out *without* even looking at "The Man Song" a.k.a; the-top-secret-spill-the-bean-5-bucks-a-pop-video-clip-that-I'm-trying-to-hawk.

BTW: Did'ya notice how the *man pact* lasted a whooping 1 minute once Darla walked onto the scene?

Moral of the story: Gals - 1, Guys - Zip.

(PS. I wonder who invented the cooties? ;-)


That'll learn me

Hopefully Craig and I helped to wash off some of the Savage comments this week. Little did I know that in doing so I ran the risk of being "outed" - guess there goes my membership in the "He Man Woman Haters Club"...

Craig Willoughby

Randy!! Traitor!! You're man-club license has been revoked.


Kelli Ann Davis

Okay Randy, that by far is one of the funniest video clips I have *ever* watched in my life. I was rolling. *THIS* is a definite keeper.

So, you're telling me, in a nutshell, that we women could *make you* carry the purse if we really, really, I mean really wanted you to and that scares the you-know-what out of you?

Ahhhh....the feel of POWER! I wish I could bottle it and sell it. But since I can't do that, I'll just sell women this video clip instead.

So let the record show that RANDY spilled the beans.

5 bucks. Do I hear 5 bucks?


unfortunately i think the ultra-super-secret-man-code thing has been leaked...

Ilena Rosenthal

It is not just coincidental that Novella, a part of the Quackwatch / Healthfraud team, made this very telling misstatement about cell phone dangers.

Cell phones, breast implants, vaccinations, genetically modified foods, second hand smoke, and amalgams are just a sampling of the issues that the respective industries merge their PR monies to pay and the so called "American Council of Science & Health" and various quacky frontgroups related to them.

They profit by keeping the facts covered up.

As a Breast Implant Awareness Activist, for 13 years, I have watched the identical tactics of these industries deny the dangers of their products, and Quackwatch and and used as their mouths for hire.

Their well funded game is to claim to have 'debunked' the dangers ... when in fact, the opposite is true. They are anti-science and fake "skeptics" ... having closed minds and opinions about ongoing medical concerns.

In my opinion, they are the current day equivalent of George Orwell's "Ministry of Truth" ... with up meaning down, black meaning white, and war meaning peace.

Perhaps Novella would be so kind as to admit how much he is being compensated and by whom to spend vast amounts of time and energy to give industry viewpoints on cell phones and vaccinations.

As silly as the name they gave themselves sounds, Stephen Barrett, David "Orac does not KNow" Gorski, and their "snake-oil vigilantes" are centers of disinformation and industry propaganda on Wikipedia, blogs, Usenet and their Healthfraud List.
(reproduction of list)

I am very grateful to see so many intelligent, organized, educated people standing up for the truth here.

With love & respect from Ilena
Victor, Barrett Vs Rosenthal

Craig Willoughby

Kelli.....we can't tell you. It's an ultra-super-secret-man-code thing. The guys know what I'm talking about (gives the fellas a nod and the super secret handshake).

Actually, it's because holding a purse implies several things. It detracts from his guyness, and guys carrying a purse implies to other guys that the one holding the purse is either whipped (for lack of a better word), or he's married to the purse owner. Both take away from his guyness, so it is an embarassment.

(You all know that this is all tongue-in-cheek, right?)

Hope that clears it up :P

Rachel Ford

I wonder if Steven Novella has read the transcripts from the Autism Omnibus proceedeings, specifically the transcript from 5/29/08.

Re: the issue of thimerosal/mercury dose and effect--

Expert witness Dr. Richard Deth said (in response to a government expert who stated that there is plenty of glutathione in the body to sweep away the mercury in the vaccines):

"The issue about how much glutathione is in the body vs. the amount of mercury in thimerosal is an issue of stoichiometry. Thimerosal and mercury are not interacting stoichiometrically one for one with glutathione. The ability of mercury to remain in the body and to enter the brain has been verified and shows that the vast amount of glutathione is not able to overwhelm this mercury; it’s there, and it causes effects. Dr. Jones seemed to develop an argument that because there is so much more glutathione, it would swamp out the thimerosal or mercury. But the number of proteins that eventually binds the mercury to the brain -- those targets exist in small quantities. The more valid question that Dr. Jones didn’t raise is what is the proportion of those protein targets for mercury in the body to the mercury in thimerosal? Is there enough mercury to saturate the body’s targets?
Q: Do the Charleston and Burbacher adult monkey studies show that the monkey brains have glutathione in them?
A: Surely they did. All cells have glutathione in them.
Q: And we know that the mercury was able to provoke neuroinflammation in those monkey brains?
A: Yes. The provocation of the inflammatory response is not because there’s so much mercury that it depletes the glutathione one for one; that’s not it. It’s because those critical regulatory mechanisms are built upon sulfur and thiols binding the mercury, and it’s their interaction that is causing the inflammation."

As Kent Heckinlively points out "The real issue is wheter the relatively small amount of protein targets for mercury in the body become overwhelmed by the mercury which remains".

There is also related research by Dr. Mandy Hornig of Columbia University on glutathione levels and thimerosal toxicity which just recently was replicated in Lima, Peru (Lorent, et al).

Kelli Ann Davis

“Craig - your wife must never talk to my wife.”

Ok. I mean it now. I want to KNOW why guys refuse to hold a purse!

Here’s a recent true story I’m gonna share (unless it gets deleted before it gets posted – hint 1) and when it happened I KNEW that refusing to *hold a purse* HAD to be a “universal guy thingy” but I still have no idea WHY.

A few months ago, I went to the airport to pick up a really *smart* guy (hint 2) who flew in to DC to help me with a meeting (hint 3) for the Subcommittee we’ve been working with.

So, he comes through the gate and I greet him and then realize I need to use the restroom and I’m balancing my diet drink in one hand, with my phone and purse in the other hand and I’m struggling and so I ask him, “Here, can you hold my purse for a second while I put my phone away and go into the bathroom?”

Well, you would have thought I had just asked him to hold a radioactive object (which by the way he’d have no problem understanding or explaining – hint 4) and so rather than just come out and say, “There is no way in h-e-double toothpicks I’m holding your purse” he steers me to a trash can with a lid on it so I can put my purse on top of it while I use the restroom!

Now, guys – what is UP with THAT? Like I really want my purse on top of a public trash can!!

So to all the guys (and especially Mr. “Scary Smart” guy – hint 5): Would one of you PLEASE give us gals a logical explanation on the whole purse thingy!!!????




Craig - your wife must never talk to my wife




I think you should be looking more at children, with autism,instead of rats in a cages. It is a rediculous statement by saying that the rise in autism is caused by better diagnosis. Do you mind telling that "theory" to the educational systems across America? They are breaking at the seams by the influx of children with learning disabilities. Why do you think this has occured? Perhaps it is because each child is an individual and handles the toxins, live viruses and pollutants, that are added in the vaccine schedule, differently. Each child comes with a set of genetic vulnerabilites that makes them susceptable to toxic insults.
Also, What are you telling parents that are chelating their children and finding that they are getting better? These children are pouring out Lead, Aluminum, Tin, mercury etc...and they are getting better!! MORE and MORE kids are recovering. They are not going away...despite your colleages attempts to shut down doctors that actually KNOW how to treat the various maladies of autism. They are DOCTORS that have their own CHILDREN affected by this DISEASE. They hold the answers to our prayers. They are the heroes that are going to change this disaster from insideous to exhaulted.

You may want to inform your co-horts (insurance companies included)that looking at designed studies and not listening to parents will do you NO GOOD. You have insulted our intelligence and have wagered our children's health on your economic gains.

You are building your house on a deck of cards....and I predict a strong breeze coming your way.

Craig Willoughby

Jeane and Kelli,
You guys gave me a full-on belly laugh with the man-love reference. Thanks for that :)

And Kelli? My wife seems to have read your comment. Every time I walk in the house, now, she hands me her purse ;)

Craig Willoughby

Josh, I was going to post something about the Cell Phone story too. Isn't it funny how for years, closed minded morons like the skeptics club (which includes Orac, AutismNewsBeat aka. HerladBlog aka. MidwestDad aka. Ken Reibel and Dr. Novella here) all state that the cell phone/cancer story was a myth, that it couldn't possibly be true, and all of these studies that showed a link were complete fabrications and ridiculous claims.

Sound familiar?


"Infants, it turns out, excrete mercury better than adults, and evidence shows that the dose of mercury from thimerosal would not build up between vaccinations."

Does this Novella character really expect anyone here to believe this when we all know about Burbacher's work? What he is attempting to do is talk down to those of us who know the difference between having mercury leave the bloodstream (to go the brain maybe?) and mercury leaving the kidneys.

"There is sufficient safety data with vaccines to conclude that whatever dose children have received did not cause detectable toxicity"

Jugding by this bit of "knowledge", Dr. Novella did not even pay attention to any of Dr. Polings points about susceptible subsets.

So really, who cares about his opinion? He does not even try to care about an honest scientific point from Dr. Poling, so what is the use in arguing with him.

Steven Novella


Thanks for the thoughtful response. Regarding the claim that other mercury sources are replacing the removed thimerosal and concealing any effect of its removal - this is highly implausible that other sources would have precisely replaced thimerosal so that there was no detectable change in autism rates. There is also no evidence for this - it is a classic post-hoc rationalization, implausible, and without evidence. Also, there is at least one study showing no correlation with maternal vaccines, and most children either do not get the flu vaccine or get vaccine without thimerosal. Even if you assumed that every child received a flu vaccine with thimerosal (which is not true) the dose of thimerosal would still be much less than it was 10 years ago.

Your comments about dose are all true, and saying that toxicity is dose dependent does not deny other factors, and in fact incorporates other factors, like timing, physiology, and body weight.

Ethyl mercury (the form found in thimerosal) is less toxic and more easily removed than methyl mercury.

Infants, it turns out, excrete mercury better than adults, and evidence shows that the dose of mercury from thimerosal would not build up between vaccinations.

A survey of pediatrician offices showed that by 2002 less than 2% of vaccines in their offices contained thimerosal.

Regarding autism rates - I have been hearing that from Kirby and others for several years - that preliminary analysis of data shows that the rate is dropping. But then when all the data was in and published the rate was rising without the slightest change. If you are going to claim that rates are dropping you need to cite a published reference otherwise I have no idea if the data is reliable and properly analyzed.

Finally - if diagnosis rates of autism are due to expanded definition (a factor which has now already had its effect) and expanded surveillance - then autism rates should level off at their true rates. Because the true rates are not rising. So we fully expect rates to level off, but they should not drop, and they certainly should not drop to what they were pre 1990 - which is what Kirby and others predicted.

Josh Day

Very interesting thing appeared on CNN's website yesterday. It was on their front page last evening but it appears not to be anymore.

"Cancer Expert Warns Employees on Cell Phones:


The head of a prominent cancer research institute issued an unprecedented warning to his faculty and staff Wednesday: Limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer.

The warning from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, is contrary to numerous studies that don't find a link between cancer and cell phone use, and a public lack of worry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Herberman is basing his alarm on early unpublished data. He says it takes too long to get answers from science, and he believes that people should take action now, especially when it comes to children.

"Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later," Herberman said. (, see link above)


Then we have this wonderful, all-too familiar gem:

Joe Farren, a spokesman for the CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group for the wireless industry, said the group believes there is a risk of misinforming the public if science isn't used as the ultimate guide on the issue.

"When you look at the overwhelming majority of studies that have been peer reviewed and published in scientific journals around the world, you'll find no relationship between wireless usage and adverse health affects," Farren said.


What's really interesting is to read the entire article and replace the word "cell phone" with "vaccines."

Leave science to the SCIENTISTS, people! And to their benevolent praetorian guard the SKEPTICS, the crusaders for Holy Logic! Can't you get that through your feeble skulls already? After all, who needs simple observational skills and plain old common sense when when we have these scientific powerhouses to do all of our thinking and investigations?

Oh, and pay no mind to the man behind the curtain over there... after all, where's your proof he's actually there? I see something, perhaps... but I can't with any authority on scientific merit claim it's a man hiding over there!


Thank you so much, Dr. Poling, for this excellent letter. It is so tiresome to hear the same untruths repeated ad infinitum, and it’s wonderful that you as father and doctor speak out to correct these lies/errors.

Two excellent letters from doctors were posted on AoA on the same day – the other is Dr. Gordon’s letter to Orac, which he posted under JB’s 5/29/2008 AoA article about Orac, a.k.a. David Gorski.

For a little while, I naively believed that these guys (such as Orac, Novella, AutismNewsBeat, Ozmum, D’oC) would listen to reason and to new information. They profess to be so logical, skeptical, science-oriented. But it is clear that they are completely, immovably, arrogantly set in their opinions, for whatever reasons. I think the New England Skeptical Society should change their name to the New England Hostile, Close-Minded and Prejudiced Society. Has a nice ring to it.

Yet, we continue to argue with them, not in the hope of changing their minds, but to make sure our side of the story is out there for other readers to see. It’s tremendous when doctors such as Dr. Poling and Dr. Gordon find the time to add their knowledgeable voices to the online discussion – risking professional recriminations, and loss of sleep too! (Dr. Gordon said he stayed up until 5:00 a.m. to write his post!)

The following may seem irrelevant, but I found it amusing: My husband is reading a book on "the historic search for atoms and their stellar origins" called "The Magic Furnace". Page 103 tells the story of a scientist named Arthur Stanley Eddington, who in about 1925 hypothesized that the sun’s energy was created by the conversion of hydrogen atoms into helium. But, for this to occur the sun’s temperature would have to be ten billion degrees, while he calculated the sun’s temperature to be only forty million degrees. (Later, it turned out that because the force of gravity is so strong in the sun, this process could actually take place at a lower temperature.)

"Infuriatingly, the center of the sun was nowhere near hot enough to weld hydrogen into helium. Despite this setback, Eddington remained convinced that the conversion of hydrogen to helium was the only conceivable energy source of the sun. When other astronomers chided him for ignoring his own evidence that the sun was too cold, he responded: ‘We do not argue with the critic who urges that the stars are not hot enough for this process; we tell him to go and find a hotter place.’ In other words, go to hell!"

There you have it – early 20th century bloggers! An age-old question – argue with them or just tell them to go to... ? Well, when their side gets so much publicity, and casts so many aspersions, and threatens to prevent development of science which could help thousands if not millions, I guess we have to keep arguing!

Getting back to the present topic of Dr. Novella... Regarding whether we are "in the midst of a true autism epidemic" – whether "true autism rates are increasing rapidly" – Dr. Novella says, "The evidence, however, supports the conclusion that the apparent increase is due largely to an expanded diagnosis and increased surveillance." This in itself shows him to be an idiot wearing blinders. Then he states that autism rates have not decreased so this proves that thimerosal isn’t a contributing factor – suddenly those autism diagnosis rates are reliable data. This is "Science-Based Medicine"? How can these guys be so proud of their rationality?


Steven Novella said, "All medical interventions are about risk vs benefit - not absolute proof."

Yeah! That's just what we’ve been saying! Weigh both the risks and benefits of vaccines! Unfortunately, so many of the risks of vaccines have been largely ignored.

Parents say, "My baby received a bunch of vaccines and then became very ill and autistic" and they are told, "That’s just a coincidence! There's no connection, no causation! It’s the 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' fallacy!" and the vaccine injuries are not even studied. The parents are expected to present "absolute proof" of vaccine injury before these issues will even be studied.

But, as you said, it's not about absolute proof. Err on the side of safety! Flu shots should be packaged individually to avoid using the preservative thimerosal, even if they don't believe that we have presented absolute proof that it is dangerous to inject minute quantities of the second most toxic substance on earth! A child should not be given a bunch of vaccines at the same time, even if they don't yet have absolute proof that multiple vaccines could injure this particular child. The Gardasil vaccine should be recalled, even if we don’t yet have absolute proof that the deaths and paralysis and fainting and severe rash are caused by the vaccine.

And if you weigh the risks and benefits of the Hepatitis B vaccine, for the vast majority of babies the benefit is zero, so even a very small risk would tip the scales.

Wow, Dr. Novella, you accidentally argued for our side!

Jim Witte

Rule number one of pediatrics though is “LISTEN TO THE MOM.”

What?? I thought that was rule number 1 of *DAN!* Not Pediatrics.. Rule number 1 of pediatrics sadly seems to be "listen to Paul Offitt", the Pharma-biased NEJM et al., and IGNORE the moms.

Ignore the kids that have recovered too ("what do you mean 'recovered'?? They never had autism to begin with!").

Ignore the *findings* of measles virus in autistic kids made by Wakefield et al., which have never been challenged, even if his MMR-autism association has - and have even been replicated by others.

Ignore the success in of chelation in too many kids to ignore by continuing to call it "controversial" and whispering in private "voodoo medicine" or the like. This is a convenient way to get off the hook for actually having to do *studies* on whether it works. Ignore the small problem that there is A LOT OF HEAVY METALS coming out of these kids, and the even smaller question of "where did it come from???"

Ignore kids who have recovered brain function with HBOT, and say "what can it do - it's just air, after all?" Ignore the immunological findings (there are many), the skewed Th1/Th2 ratios (there must be data on immune cytokines SOMEWHERE), and the persistent connection to vaccines that just won't go away.

Yes, this is the way you do medical science at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Ignore the moms, ignore the patients... As the old proverb goes, we truly are cursed to live in interesting times.


Risk vs Benefit of a newborn receiving a HepB vaccine with 24 hours of meeting this new world in Essex County, MA? Hmmm...Chances of that child coming in contact with HepB (if mother has tested neg) are slim to nil. Benefit of vaccine - small. Risk of newborn given a vaccination (not to mention loaded with or just a trace of toxins) without knowing the health of that child (because it was born only 24 hours ago)- medium to high.

Tim Kasemodel

My bad - I hope everyone realized my last post was directed at Dr. Novella and his 02:05 PM posting....

Tim Kasemodel

"The fact that autism rates did not decrease after the removal of thimerosal from the routine childhood schedule"

When exactly agian was it that thimerosal was removed????? preservative level amounts remained through the end of 2002, trace amounts never ended in the Hep B (though as of Jan 2008 there is a newer mercury free energix B, existing stocks of trace level Energix B remain in use) and Mercury free Flu vaccine still is in extremely short supply.

As for autism rates, if you look at birth cohort rates the rate is in fact stabilizing or even dropping - but since the CDC and Departments of Education refuse to look at individual birht cohorts and compare them to the vaccines schedule that age group followed you will never look at that.

In Minnesota, two thirds of the 1400 new cases of autism last year were in the age groups born prior to the reduction of thimerosal in vaccines.

The rates of autism among the age groups of kids born after Jan 2003 is yet to be known - kids in the developmental delay category must recieve a different diagnosis at age 7 and many get a diagnosis of higher functioning autism. The rate of Minnesota kids born in 2004 (now 4) is 1 in 275, and no one, not even you, can say for sure whatit will be when they reach 7.

One thing that pops out in the Minnesota data is that the rate of kids diagnosed by a certain age (say, by age 6) in each birth cohort was rising each year until the the past few years, those since the reduction of mercury. With all the better diagnosing and the increased effort to diagnose at younger ages, why are the rates stabilizing and even dropping??? Gee.......

Stagmom for Dr. N.

Dr. Novella, thank you for commenting. I interviewed a friend of mine and fellow HuffPo blogger with whom you may be familiar about your comment.

I'll include his information back to me below. But as far as dose goes, vaccinations come in one size, as far as I know. A premature infant gets the same Hep B that you or I would get if traveling abroad. And I believe uptake of the flu vaccine in pregnant women and young children has coincided with the removal of Thimerosal as a preservative (though not as a manufacturing ingredient) in some of the vaccines. Plus, external mercury sources appear to be on the rise in our environment. But back to my friend. Here are his shorthand thoughts to my questions.

Many toxicologists today would view the adage “the dose makes the poison” as 20th Century thinking. This is especially true with mercury. In assessing the impact of mercury exposure and toxicity, I believe, the following factors must be considered

The dose
The type of mercury: ethyl, methyl, inorganic, etc
The route of exposure: ingested, injected, inhaled, prenatal, transdermal, etc
The age of the individual: Fetuses and infants lack fully developed blood-brain barriers, immune systems, nervous systems, bile, etc
The weight of the individual: The EPA limit is 0.1 mcg/Kg/day for ingested methylmercury, which shows that the dose does not make the poison as much as the “dosee”
The general health of the individual: Including infections, immune problems, autoimmunity, mitochondrial dysfunction, methylation dysfunction etc
The level of thiols, or “mercaptans” (grabbing mercury), in the system: Such as glutathione, a powerful anti-oxidant and sulfur-based heavy metal detoxifier (some sulfur based proteins bind with metals and help us eliminate them from the body).
The genetic make up of the individual: Just like with alcohol, different substances affect different people differently
The synergistic toxicities of other vaccine ingredients: Such as live viruses or aluminum
The synergistic effects of common childhood medications:: Antibiotics have synergistic neurotoxicity with mercury in unpublished test tubes studies and Tylenol can deplete glutathione in the body – which might lead to heavy metal accumulation, oxidative stress and neuro-inflammation.
The gender of the individual – there is much in the published literature about how mercury affects males and females differently
The frequency or repetition of exposures (ie, birth, and 2, 4, 6, 12, 18 months) – repeated exposures may increase sensitivity to a toxin

María Luján

Toxicity is always about dose. There is sufficient safety data with vaccines to conclude that whatever dose children have received did not cause detectable toxicity.

There are several aspects to discuss here.

For example
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Jul 25;372(2):341-5.

Heavy metal ions are potent inhibitors of protein folding.

Sharma SK, Goloubinoff P, Christen P.

Biochemisches Institut, Universität Zürich, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.

Environmental and occupational exposure to heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and lead results in severe health hazards including prenatal and developmental defects. The deleterious effects of heavy metal ions have hitherto been attributed to their interactions with specific, particularly susceptible native proteins. Here, we report an as yet undescribed mode of heavy metal toxicity. Cd2+, Hg2+ and Pb2+ proved to inhibit very efficiently the spontaneous refolding of chemically denatured proteins by forming high-affinity multidentate complexes with thiol and other functional groups (IC(50) in the nanomolar range). With similar efficacy, the heavy metal ions inhibited the chaperone-assisted refolding of chemically denatured and heat-denatured proteins. Thus, the toxic effects of heavy metal ions may result as well from their interaction with the more readily accessible functional groups of proteins in nascent and other non-native form. The toxic scope of heavy metals seems to be substantially larger than assumed so far.

My questions Where are the studies showing that autistic children are not prone to have problems with the management of antibiotics and vaccines in accumulation with these mechanisms of adverse effects in mind?Where are the studies on autistic populations showing no effects in chaperone assisted folding of proteins of thimerosal and other toxic elements and xenobiotics?

Recent manuscripts presents clearly the problem of the traditional dose- response analysis in toxicology. The importance of toxicogenomics and toxicoproteomics should not be forget it.

Science and Society
Hormesis: a revolution in toxicology, risk assessment and medicine

Silent latency periods in methylmercury poisoning and in neurodegenerative disease.

Conclusion from the last link:
Quote:The question we posed is whether similar mechanisms underlie all three patterns. The commonalities are obvious: manifestations of damage emerge only after compensatory processes have been exhausted. The unresolved conundrum comes from the Iraq example, in which the latency period tended to lengthen with increasing blood levels. Such a phenomenon is not as uncommon as it seems. Cory- Slechta et al. (22), for example, observed that higher doses of lead acetate to rats trained on an operant procedure evoked longer latencies to diminished performance than did lower doses. One possible although speculative explanationmay be related to a phenomenon gaining wider recognition in toxicology: namely, nonmonotonic doseresponse elationships. Several recent reviews [e.g., Calabrese and Baldwin (23)] have pointed out the frequent occurrence of U-shaped doseresponse functions in the life sciences. Their shape conflicts with the traditional assumption of direct doseresponse relationships. Several possibilities have been offered to account for the shape of these functions. Most rely on the concept of hormesis, which asserts that low-level exposures stimulate compensatory processes that, in essence, overshoot and confer an added measure of protection. But the mirror image of hormesis can also prevail, giving rise to a situation in which only high-level exposures invokecompensatory processes. In this instance, lowlevel exposures are more likely than high-level exposures to show evidence of adverse effects or, at least, to show them more rapidly. Such phenomena have been observed with endocrine disruptors [e.g., (24)]. If any lesson is to be derived from the examples discussed in this article, it is that the conventional tenets of toxicology need to be observed with a considerable degree of skepticism.We should be convinced, not by dogma, but by a deep understanding of mechanisms.

Thank you Dr Poling for your commitment.

Craig Willoughby

Dr. Novella,
Thimerosal is not toxic? Did you know they have to wear hazmat suits during manufacturing with this chemical? And, the flu shot is very much part of the routine pediatric vaccine schedules, and most of them still contain thimerosal in doses around 25 mics. Did you know that this, combined with other vaccinations that are routinely given several at a time, pushes the exposure to the mercury neurotoxin WELL over the EPA safety limits? You Quacks keep saying it has been removed. It hasn't; it's just changed places, kinda like a shell game.

And, I absolutely despise, resent and abhor your implication that our children are acceptable collateral damage to your failed vaccinations. We are sick of sacrificing any more of our children to your Vaccine Gods without PROOF (proof, not flawed studies!) that the cumulative effects of multiple vaccine on a baby in such a short time. Everyone on here, including YOU, knows what damage that vaccines can and have done. You are quacking up the wrong tree, "Doc."

A little Confused Here

In respose to Steven Novella's post...Can someone please post a response for my following questions here? I would like to understand why I keep reading that thimerosal has been removed from routine childhood vaccinations? Is a trace amount considered zero? That trace amount times the number of shots (that contain a trace of thimerosal) kids are getting during a single visit--- if you add it up is it considered still a trace? Is the yearly flu shot not considered a routine vaccination (the first shot they got 2 injections)...even though my kids ped recommends flu shot every year and it is on the childhood immunization schedule? And does the mercury (say from the recommended flu shot) pass from a pregnant woman onto a fetus? And is the tetanus booster not a routine childhood vaccination? I am confused on this point. I would appreciate the correct info to clear it up in my mind.

Kelli Ann Davis

Hey doc Novella:

I think your reply was to my comment (name is below comment) and I’ll answer your recent post but first to Randy – four words – Embrace it! BE FREE! (the whole purse thingy)

Now, back to the doc.

“There is sufficient safety data with vaccines to conclude that whatever dose children have received did not cause detectable toxicity.”

First, we both *KNOW* there is absolutely NO study that demonstrates a SAFE level for mercury, period. Your word *whatever* speaks volumes and highlights the fact that what we have going on is a mass experiment based on HUGE assumptions which have absolutely no basis in *scientific fact* -- in other words, let’s just inject these children under the assumption that mercury is a-okay.

“The evidence shows that vaccine have more benefit than risk.”

Second, promoting vaccine safety has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of whether vaccines are successful in protecting against infectious diseases -- they are two separate issues; and it's only when safety issues are ignored that parents like us are eventually forced to weigh the risk of safety against the risk of infectious disease and the two issues come together.

“The fact that autism rates did not decrease after the removal of thimerosal from the routine childhood schedule supports the conclusion that it was not toxic in the first place.”

You’re not serious. So basically what you’re saying is *thimerosal isn’t toxic* even though it’s comprised of 49% mercury – unless of course, somehow it *magically* loses its toxicity when it’s placed in vaccines.

Why does it always seem that common sense just goes out the window when it comes to this issue? (Hint: I think we both know the answer to that question)

Steven Novella

Cathy - Toxicity is always about dose. There is sufficient safety data with vaccines to conclude that whatever dose children have received did not cause detectable toxicity. All medical interventions are about risk vs benefit - not absolute proof. The evidence shows that vaccine have more benefit than risk. The fact that autism rates did not decrease after the removal of thimerosal from the routine childhood schedule supports the conclusion that it was not toxic in the first place.


Cathy - thank you for the add'l info

Kelly - I once drove 5600 + km in 6 days (in hurricane season) for my son. That was a walk in the park compared to holding my wife's purse (which, btw, almost makes me bawl like a baby)




An heart-rending debate. But it's not easy to see the forest through the trees.

Is mercury used significantly less in vaccines? And if so, what has been the impact on autism rates? There seem to be many opinions expressed, but surely this can be answered with verifiable facts.

Ilena Rosenthal

I want to add my thanks to Dr. Poling for his education, bravery, and compassion and send my personal regards to his family.

Additionally, I wish to thank all involved with this excellent website for combating the massive industry "public relations" disguised as 'science'.

The fake skeptic, commercial 'quackwatch' website operated by chemical / pharmaceutical industry propagandist Stephen Barrett is mentioned and is a very important part of the industry cover-ups of the dangers of not only vaccinations, but med devices, amalgam, fluoride, breast implants, and multiple chemical sensitivity (to name but a few.)

Barrett and his team, self named, "the rag-tag posse of snake-oil vigilantes," for years have been doing the bidding of industry while simultaneously suing and smearing Vaccination Awareness doctors and activists such as Dr. Mercola, Dr. Tedd Koren, and myself (again to name but a few.)

Here is Barrett and others on their list (which they removed and I resurrected) from the internet:

You will see David Gorski on this list ... he haunts Usenet, the Healthfraud List, and Wikipedia filling it with their propaganda, as well as other vapid vaccination propagandists, many who also use disguises.

I know this group very well, having just spent nearly 8 years defending myself from their SLAPP suit attempt to silence me, in Superior, Appeals and finally the Supreme Court of California.

Of the nearly half a million dollar judgment I won to pay for my attorneys fees, they still owe over $311,000 (plus interest).

As a Breast Implant Awareness Activist, literally from the day I began posting 13 years ago on the dangers of implants, I have been under assault by this group and their cronies. Unfortunately, the silicone and pharma industries are one of the same, and use the same PR teams to attack alternative medicine and defend vaccinations and med devices etc.

Through the years I have met hundreds of parents whose children have been harmed by vaccinations ... and it warms my heart to see such brilliance in Dr. Poling and this website.

With love from Health Lover, Ilena Rosenthal


On his blog, Novella uses the word "hubris" to describe Michael Savage. Now THAT's rich....

Jack Russell

It seems to escape people like Dr. Novella that many of us "parents" are also scientist by training and that any mother that knows what a high level of arabinose means and who keeps a food diary is doing a hell of a lot more field science than most folks with a PhD after their name.


Here is a good mito cocktail explained link:

Because of long waiting lists, the unlikely event of an easily diagnosed mito or metabolic issue with my son, under the guidance of our DAN! and pediatrician(yep, pediatrician - we thought we'd go for the gold and see what he had to say even though he has blamed autism solely on TV) we started with some of the supplements that are considered part of the mito cocktail. It was based on my son's history and symptoms. I am in no way an expert in this. My DAN! has even urged us to find a good mito/meta specialist - which we are doing.
We had already been supplementing pretty well with C, E and some B vitamins (and others) - our new addition was acetyl-l carnitine and coq10. We usually add one thing at a time, but these supps work together. I am past the point of supplementing to rid my son of autism and am trying to address his many physical symptoms - bowel issues, poor sleep, exhaustion, very low muscle tone, apraxia - the list goes on and most of you know the alphabet soup of autism. The ALCarnitine/coq10 addressed stamina and muscle tone - it was dramatic, for him. He continues to improve as does his complex language, sense of humor, articulation. No wow moments - just a stronger foundation for what's to come.

Kelli Ann Davis

"While I appreciate Amanda Peet’s support, I feel strongly that scientific questions should be handled by the scientific community."

Okay let's go with that (even though I think it's safe to say that most individuals can read and understand a scientific publication even if they don't have a credential and a whole bunch of letters behind their name):

So doc, how come we're injecting children with a known neurotoxin that's been demonstrated by "scientists" to cause neurological injury and which has no *proven* safety level?


Dr. Novella, would it have killed you to actually say something to the thousands of readers here rather than just submit a link? What a missed opportunity.

Kim Stagliano

Steven Novella

My response:

Lin Wessels

Thank you Dr. Poling (and Mrs.) for not walking away and/or turning your back on us and our loved ones with autism. We certainly admire and repect you and your family for continuing to speak out and set the record straight!

Humbly yours,
Sam's MAMA


Thank-you Dr. Poling for your strength. It must be difficult to find people writing erroneous information regarding your daughter. Your letter was refreshing (and much appreciated) after a sad and sorry week of reading "savage" and "parasitic" comments directed at parents. All the best to you and your family, especially Hannah.

Kelli Ann Davis


Yes. It's a-okay for guys to:

1.) love upstanding individuals regardless of gender
2.) bawl like a baby and
3.) hold a woman's purse





Dr Jon Poling

With appreciation for you committment to the numerous families affected by autism. THANK YOU!


Thank you Poling family for continuing to respond to the mistruths. While it is anything but fun, 100% exhausting and too frequently required - it is needed and appreciated.


Hello to all...two questions:

1 - How do I get my son tested for mito disorder?

2 - What is the foundation of a mito cocktail?

Any help would be appreciated,

Lea Schizas

First off I want to congratulate Dr. Poling for speaking out on behalf of mothers and parents of autistic children in general.

For me this was the part that stood out from Dr. Novella:

"However, I don't think that activist groups with a cause are better at interpreting the scientific evidence than scientists. I don't think that whatever "moral authority" some feel is invested in parents of autistic children grants them a clearer view of logic an evidence than people who have dedicated their careers to interpreting scientific evidence."

I would like to ask then when some doctors do admit that the mercury compound found in some vaccinatons may have some part, small or large, in autism, why are the other half of the doctors so opposed to this possibility and negate a rather outright campaign to discredit these doctors who step forward?

As one poster here pointed out, as the scientific experts, shouldn't more definete results/answers be offered instead of the 'probably' up in the air responses?

If children with mitochondrial might be at a higher risk of autism when given their MMR or other mercury enhanced vaccine, then shouldn't we ascertain this first to be fact then seek out ways to evaluate which children do have mitochondrial and avoid any further complications to the child?


A well articulated letter. Certainly correspondence such as this will be held in much higher regard when discussing the scientific issues with another scientist. I would suggest, however, that he had not referenced the Molecular Psychiatry paper. Mitochondria have their own DNA for many of the proteins they use for metabolism, however, AGC1 is not encoded by these genes, rather, from chromosome 15q25 to q26.2. This is the same region where de novo mutations from the mother have been implicated with autism. The paper corroborates the hypothesis from previous researchers.


Cathy - would you mind posting a link to info about your mito cocktail / protocol?



Novella said: "I agree we do not have definitive data on what dose is safe is infants and children..."

If that's the case then it should be removed from ALL vaccines IMMEDIATELY. Anyone who administers a vaccine containing this compound not knowing whether it's safe should be sued for malpractice.

Craig: I second your opinion about Dr. Poling; I love this guy.


Thank you Dr. Poling!! I was so hoping someone was going to point to the calcium study, the idea that autism does not have pathology should now be questioned by the entire medical community. As a father you bring more verocity to the table along with the science and if any of these Docs who insult us were in a face to face debate with you on this issue, I think they may reevalute their entire understanding of autism. Thank you!

PS. I second the request to check out Natasa's paper on the role of calcium in ASD at

Tim Kasemodel

I had some correspondence with the good Dr. back in 2005 - I ended up "agreeing to disagree":

Dear Dr. Novella:

Thank you for responding to my letter. It appears that our main point of contention here is whether the doses received in the infant schedule could cause neurotoxicity in infants and children. You stated, “If you look at all the evidence, which has been done by numerous independent scientific reviewers, IT SEEMS that the dose of mercury which children were exposed to in vaccines was PROBABLY not enough to cause neurotoxicity.” (my emphasis added)

You seem to imply that parents should leave “science to the scientists” yet the scientists have been unconvincing as to the safety of Thimerosal, because it has never been studied. Generalizations such as “it seems” and “is probably not enough” are not scientific. Dose/response studies should have been done prior to using Thimerosal in products and the manufacturer should be forced to fund them if their product is to remain in the marketplace.


"I agree we do not have definitive data on what dose is safe is infants and children. There is always uncertainty in science, and the kinds of studies that would clearly demonstrate a safe level are not ethical to do. This is why the FDA erred on the side of caution by calling for the removal of thimerosal from childhood vaccines. We can only infer what is a probable safe limit. I also acknowledged in my article that the toxicological data is complex and there is room there for controversy. I would caution you against selectively quoting only those articles which seem to support your side. I would also caution you against extrapolating from such basic science data to clinical claims. This is also uncertain - and medical scientists know from long history that if you do this you will be wrong more often than right. There is no substitute for clinical data - data in humans. I would also just say that the consensus of opinion of people who are more expert than I in toxicology is that the ethyl mercury found in thimerosal in the doses given was PROBABLY sufficient to cause detectable neurotoxicity."

ME: I have to question his opinion that the "...consensus of opinion of people who are more expert than I in toxicology..." I have never seen any paper or documentation of ANY concensus of toxicologists who will testify that ANY dose of thimerosal is absolutely safe (Mark B. - I think I found an OSOTEN!) and it appears that Dr. Clarkson and Dr. Magos have backed away from this assertion as well...

Novella ends by saying:

Finally, I do think, in fact, that science should be left to scientists. Science works best when it freely follows evidence and logic and is not hampered by politics or some other agenda. But I do not disparage the parent groups. I believe that can and do serve a useful function as watchdogs on government, regulatory agencies, and even the scientific community. However, I don't think that activist groups with a cause are better at interpreting the scientific evidence than scientists. I don't think that whatever "moral authority" some feel is invested in parents of autistic children grants them a clearer view of logic an evidence than people who have dedicated their careers to interpreting scientific evidence.

Thanks again for writing.

Steve Novella"

My favorite comment of his is this: "Science works best when it freely follows evidence and logic and is not hampered by politics or some other agenda."

Looks like we may get that chance if the wonderful Dr. Bernadine Healy gets her wish..........

Tim Kasemodel



I don't think anything you say could make you sound like less of a man... especially not on this site! So go on with your man-love and be proud!


Dr. Poling,

Thank you again for all that you are doing in educating and appropriately reminding the Dr. Novellas out there that their 10 years is up.

Your continued support in the science domain and in the *rule number one of pediatrics*, “LISTEN TO THE MOM”, is very much appreciated.


Does it make me sound like less of a man when I say that I love this man? What a fantastic doctor!


Dr. Poling,

Thank you for writing such a concise letter!

- Heather

Katie Wright

Is Yale Child Study Center actually interested in helping kids? I am confused because they seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time bad mouthing parents, bashing Hollywood stars, telling families their autistic kids did not regress, are not sick and to stay away from all biomed interventions. Check out their dark ages website! Oh yes, and Yale Child Study professors do manage to fit in the regular Skeptic Society meetings in which they further entrech themselves as a major force against progress in autism science.

I guess it is all these other, more important priorities, that have prevented Yale from actually achieving any real scientific breakthroughs that would help our kids. Although their achievements in eye gazing are stellar!

Thank you Dr. Polings for answering Dr. Novella's ridiculous and misinformed statement.


I am so thankful to the Polings for showing the courage and tenacity in their fight against the big dogs. I am so thankful that they keep fighting and standing up for all of us. Shortly after the Poling concession made the news, we conferred with our docs (including our DAN!) and started our son on the foundations of a mito cocktail. The results have been nothing short of astounding in terms of strength and stamina. We are nowhere near the finish line, but we keep plodding along everyday and celebrate the little victories. We like to talk about turning lemons into lemonade in our house. The Polings have definately made lemonade. Thanks for sharing it with us all.


Dear Dr Poling,

since you point to the recent Palmieri postmortem study, you may be interested in more on the subject of dysfunctional ca homeostasis in autism:


Thank you Dr. Poling for advocating on behalf of our children. How much longer will it be until the right studies are conducted? For the medical community at large and to Dr. Novella: primum non nocere.


wow, incredible letter. and thank you again for defending Jenny. For god's sake - she has LIVED through this. why should her hollywood status invalidate her experience? She is an autism mom first.


"Definition: Autism is a heterogeneous systemic disorder with primary neuropsychiatric manifestations due to complex genetic and gene-environmental interactions likely affected synaptic plasticity early in childhood development."

Thank you.


Holly, he has PhD, MD, and a heart and a soul and a backbone. A rare and powerful combination in a doctor today, don't you think?


Holly M.

Great Letter. I didn't realize Dr. Jon Poling had a PHD and an MD. Awesome.

dan olmsted

how great to have dr. poling leading our site today -- and on our side. and defending moms including jenny against the "experts" who have made hash of autism (and much else) for far too long.

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