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Dachel Media Review: Special Drivers License for Autism?

Emily Willingham and the CDC Criminal

WillinghamBy John Stone Poul thorsen

Recent remarks by Forbes science columnist Emily Willingham about the autism/vaccine question are historically ill-informed, scientifically incompetent and politically naïve. John Stone, UK Editor of Age of Autism, documents her failure with extended quotation from articles by Dr F Edward Yazbak.

One of the strangest twists in Emily Willingham’s now infamous 10 Weirdest Things Linked To Autism column was her comment to Age of Autism’s Anne Dachel about a vaccinated vs non-vaccinated study. Here it is - to be prominently read - on the first page of comments:

That study has been done, but your group dissmisses (sic) it because the sixth author on it is a criminal, even though the database registry information is available, none of the other half-dozen or so authors have removed their names from the work, and the journals that have published the papers have not retracted them. It was a study involving a huge number of people. It was pretty definitive. What I love–and it bears repeating–is how you’ll dismiss this study and the CDC, yet religiously cite the CDC’s 1 in 50 number, derived from some very fuzzy data collection.

Not quite so visible (indeed it took me two days to locate it after I submitted) is my response, which ought to have shaken the lady if she was in any way concerned for the truth and certainly suggests her knowledge of the issues on which she purports to have intellectual expertise is superficial:

Hi Emily,

I think perhaps you are referring to the Madsen MMR study (only) of which Cochrane reported:
“The follow up of diagnostic records ends one year (31 Dec 1999) after the last day of admission to the cohort. Because of the length of time from birth to diagnosis, it becomes increasingly unlikely that those born later in the cohort could have a diagnosis”

While NEJM refused to publish a letter from epidemiologist Prof Samy Suissa of McGill University in which he had re-calculated the raw data to show that autism was 45% higher in the MMR vaccinated group.

But that was not the only CDC Danish study co-ordinated by the heavily indicted Dr Poul Thorsen – there were as (of) November last year at the Congressional hearing 21, four of which had been published since his indictment.

In fact, there is another problem here. Why can’t the CDC shake this embarrassing person off? For a clue here are two articles (1 The CDC finances, writes and helps publish Danish research Another useless CDC-supported autism study  and  The CDC, Spinach and Autism  published years ago in Red Flag(s) by Dr F Edward Yazbak:

So, we have a series of points.   (1) The study Willingham cites was for MMR only and not for the extended schedule, which is what Anne Dachel was talking about.  (2) The flawed results of the study – pointing to a significantly higher incidence of autism amongst the vaccinated - were the subject of expert comment independently of our side.  (3) The problem of Poul Thorsen’s collaborators is that they continue to be historically tangled with him – this is not on any rational basis testimony to the integrity of the 21 studies he has helped to coordinate and co-authored between the CDC and Aarhus University in Denmark (Staten Serum Institut). It will be recalled that when quizzed about the matter by the unimpressed Congressman Posey (“this guy is a humongous scumbag and one of the worst wanted men on earth”) at the Congressional hearing last November CDC spokeswoman Coleen Boyle had a fit of amnesia and could only recall that there were two such studies. Furthermore, we might continue to wonder with proceedings against Thorsen perpetually stalled in two continents how he could have helped himself to two million dollars of CDC money without inside help. Against this background Emily Willingham’s comments seem insouciant and even silly: they simply will not do.

With this in mind it is also exceptionally interesting to re-visit the two articles based on FOI documents written by F Edward Yazbak long before Thorsen was indicted which document the latter's pivotal role in the CDC-Aarhus University collaboration. These are two long, fascinating articles with a familiar cast of characters (notably Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsop, José Cordero and Coleen Boyle) that touch on a great many issues, from which I reproduce here extended extracts. Above them hangs the pregnant question why the CDC chose to research the rise in autism in the US by commissioning studies in another country where the conditions were entirely different.

Extract from F Edward Yazbak “The CDC finances, writes and helps publish Danish research”, origininally published in Red Flags in 2005 p.4-5

….José Cordero MD, MPH, Director of CDC’s National Center on Births Defects and Developmental Disabilities, who is now publicizing DS 2005, was intimately involved with DS 2002, the Madsen MMR Study, literally since its “conception”.

In an e-mail on Tuesday, May 30, 2000 at 2:36 PM, (Exhibit IV) Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, a CDC epidemiologist wrote to Dr. Cordero, at the time the Deputy Director of the National Immunization Program (NIP) of the CDC:


As we discussed on Friday, we have become aware through Poul Thorsen of an exciting opportunity to study the role of MMR vaccine and autism using several registries/existing studies and the repository of biologic specimens and laboratory capabilities in Denmark. Attached below is a proposal for such a study. Poul will be leaving on Thursday to travel to Denmark where he will be meeting with the PIs for the proposed study on June 6th. We would like to be able to have Poul say whether it is likely that CDC (NIP) can fund the study, if NIP is interested. The proposed budget is included; there may be additional sources of funding (in addition to NIP) but we are not certain at this time. Unfortunately, the DD Branch does not have much (if any) $$ to fund the study, but we do have the expertise that we have developed due to the autism surveillance in Atlanta and the MMR/autism casecontrol study. I will be out of the office tomorrow, but you may contact Diana or Poul if you have questions. Thank you so much for considering this proposal.


Monday May 29, 2000 was Memorial Day. “PIs” refers to Principal Investigators. The CDC describes the National Immunization Program “Leading the way to healthy lives” as follows: “As a disease-prevention program, NIP provides leadership for the planning, coordination, and conduct of immunization activities nationwide”.

The NIP Mission is described in 145 words that do not include the word autism. (11) It is evident from the above e-mail that:

*The “proposed” study had already been planned and discussed in Denmark, at the DD (Developmental Disabilities) Branch of the CDC and with key NIP people

*Dr. José Cordero had the authority to promptly approve NIP funding of the “autism” study

*Dr. Cordero who was responsible for the “planning, coordination, and conduct of immunization activities nationwide” could not possibly appropriate funds - or in any way support a study - that COULD potentially have compromised the MMR vaccination program

*Before the study was started, it was guaranteed NOT to find any connection between MMR and regressive autism.

Drs. Diana Schendel, a CDC epidemiologist (Diana) and Dr. Poul Thorsen (Poul) went on to co-author the study in question.

It is no wonder at all then that DS 2002 that was

1. Funded by the CDC

2. Co-authored by a CDC epidemiologist

3. And evidently supported by the CDC’s “expertise that we have developed due to the autism surveillance in Atlanta and the MMR/autism case-control study” did indeed conclude that MMR
did not cause autism in Denmark and did justify the CDC’s financial investment.

The “additional source of funding” in the US was the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR). The organization has asserted: “To be clear, our unrestricted donation of $25,000 from Merck in 2000 was not used to fund the Danish study – or any other vaccine-related studies.” (12)…

Extract from F Edward Yazbak “The CDC, Spinach and Autism” originally published on VAP 2007 
…1 in 150 and counting

On February 8, 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the results of two studies in a peculiarly-worded press release titled "CDC Releases New Data on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) from Multiple Communities in the United States".

The data in question were not exactly "NEW". The two studies were carried out in 2000 and 2002 and included children who were eight years old and born around 1992 - 1994.

According to the press release "…For decades, the best estimate for the prevalence of autism was four to five per 10,000 children. More recent studies from multiple countries using current diagnostic criteria conducted with different methods have indicated that there is a range of ASD prevalence between 1 in 500 children and 1 in 166 children…Overall, the 2000 study found ASD rates ranged from one in 222 children to one in 101 eight-year old children in the six communities studied. The 2002 study found ASD rates ranging from one in 303 to one in 94 among eight-year old children. The average finding of 6.6 and 6.7 per 1,000 eight-year-olds translates to approximately one in 150 children in these communities. This is consistent with the upper end of prevalence estimates from previously published studies, with some of the communities having an estimate higher than those previously reported in U.S. studies."

The press release was timed to coincide with the publication of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) of February 9, 2007..and the release of a Fact Sheet by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), basically a report and update from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. ..Both are worth reading in their entirety.

In the fact sheet, the CDC announced that it will soon publish "updated reports from the ADDM Network on the prevalence of ASDs in multiple areas in the United States in 2004 and 2006".
The extensive Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report described in detail the results of the 2002 study by behavioral scientist Catherine Rice, PhD, of the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

The three paragraphs under the heading "Developmental Characteristics" are most revealing.
"Children with a previously documented ASD classification included those who had received special education services under an autism special education eligibility and those with a clear diagnosis of ASD documented in the education or health source records, or both. Across the sites for which education information was accessible, the proportion of children identified with ASDs receiving special education services with an autism eligibility ranged from 31% in Colorado to 74% in Maryland. The prevalence estimates derived for children aged 8 years with ASDs who had a previously documented ASD classification ranged from 2.2 per 1,000 population in Alabama to 7.4 per 1,000 population in New Jersey. For all sites, the prevalence calculated from having a previous classification of ASD was lower than the ADDM Network prevalence of having an ASD. These results indicate that if an ASD is identified on the basis only of a documented diagnosis or eligibility for autism on record, prevalence would have been underestimated by as much as 30%.

An experienced clinician using standardized methods can reliably diagnose autism in children as young as age 2 years (45). Across the ADDM Network sites, the majority of children aged 8 years had diagnostic evaluations indicating general developmental concerns before age 3 years. Concerns in language development were generally noted at younger ages than concerns in social or imaginative play. However, age at first documented ASD diagnosis in the reviewed records varied greatly, from 10 months in the areas studied in Alabama to as late as 8 years, 10 months in the areas studied in Arkansas, Missouri, and West Virginia. These data confirm an earlier report…that a significant lag exists between early concerns and actual identification of an ASD as reported in records in multiple areas of the country, contributing to potentially significant delays in intervention. Given the benefit of early intervention…, identification of an ASD at earlier ages in the United States is essential to ensure that children receive optimal early intervention services. CDC has been working with caregiver and professional groups to improve the early recognition of developmental concerns and to improve referral for further evaluation and intervention with the "Learn the Signs. Act Early." public awareness campaign….

Children with an ASD can experience a loss of developmental skills or a plateau in development, or both. Across all ADDM Network sites, 2%--13% of children had a plateau in development that was significant enough to be reported in a developmental evaluation. In addition, 14%--32% of the children were noted to have lost developmental skills at young ages, usually before age 2 years. The majority of ADDM Network sites reported developmental regression below the proportion reported from another study…that suggested that 25%--33% of children with an ASD are reported to experience a loss of developmental skills by the second year of life. However, the distinction between a loss of skills and a plateau in skills has not been made in previous studies. Reliance on existing records might not adequately ascertain this feature because certain providers might not evaluate or document the potential for developmental regression. Therefore, these results should be considered a minimal estimate of plateau and regression among ASD cases."

It appears from the above that,

•  The prevalence of ASDs among children born in 1994 in New Jersey was as high as 7.4 per 1000 population.

• If an ASD was identified only on the basis of a documented diagnosis or recorded eligibility for autism, actual prevalence could have been underestimated by as much as 30%. 

• An experienced clinician using standardized methods can reliably diagnose autism in children as young as age 2 years. [I guess we did not "miss" the diagnosis, as some have claimed.] 

• Developmental concerns usually existed before the age of 3 and language difficulties were first to be noted.

• An early diagnosis resulted in a better the outcome.

• Neither prevention nor vaccines were apparently deemed relevant or worth mentioning.
Regressive autism

In the last paragraph of the report, the author stated that 14 to 32% of the children in the study lost developmental skills, most of them before the age of 2 years, and that the majority of study sites reported lower rates of developmental regression than those reported in an unrelated previous study where 25-33% of children with ASD lost developmental skills by the second year of life.

This is clearly different from what we have known and firmly believe. The greatest majority of parents who have contacted me over the years reported a plateau followed by regression, most often between 18 and 24 months of age, among their affected children

Bernard Rimland PhD, who collected information on thousands of affected children stated repeatedly that the regressive form of autism had increased dramatically. On July 14, 2003 his statement was unequivocal: "Late onset autism, (starting in the 2nd year), was almost unheard of in the 50s, 60s, and 70s; today such cases outnumber early onset cases 5 to 1, the increase paralleling the increase in required vaccines."..

A real increase

According to the February 2007 press release, CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH was still stating "…we can't yet tell if there is a true increase in ASDs or if the changes are the result of our better studies" while Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, MD, Chief, Developmental Disabilities Branch, CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), the scientist in charge of the CDC's autism program was finally conceding "…these studies …do confirm that ASDs in the areas surveyed are more common in these communities studied than previously thought…"

Catherine Rice PhD, the study lead investigator concluded her report with the statement "ADDM Network data provide a solid baseline prevalence with which future estimates can be compared. They also confirm that ASDs are more common than previously thought and are conditions of urgent public health concern."

Obviously we the parents and grandparents of children with autism have been saying that for years. In 1999, California published its first autism report... and I wrote my very first piece on the subject "Autism 99: A National Emergency"…

And what has the CDC done since then?

It led a chorus chanting that there was no actual increase in autistic syndromes. The most tragic proof and result of this stonewalling – mostly intended to deny a vaccine connection - was that, in February 2007 the CDC was still confirming "… these studies did not investigate the causes of ASDs …" and Dr. Yeargin-Allsop was calmly asserting "We don't know the causes of ASDs".

It is important to point out that although the "new" studies were about children born in 1992-1994, the statement "We don't know the causes of ASDs" represents the current position of the CDC.

So how is it that the CDC could solve the spinach mystery, and the very recent peanut butter-salmonella enigma in no time and yet no one at the agency, including the NCBDDD director, has any clue about the causes of the biggest childhood plague in our history? And why are diagnosed cases of autism still increasing in California as of the last quarter of 2006?..

Genetic or environmental

Regardless of the predisposing genetic causes we are likely to discover, autism and autistic spectral disorders cannot possibly be increasing in such outlandish proportions without the direct influence of precipitating environmental triggers. Among those, mandated pediatric vaccinations, whether they contain Thimerosal or not, must be considered and seriously and honestly investigated.

My own research has focused on MMR vaccination and the effect of repeated administration of live virus vaccines to women during their child-bearing years. I have little doubt that among that particular small group of women, there is a direct connection between such vaccination and the development of autism among their children. I am also absolutely convinced that Andrew Wakefield’s research is honest and valid.

From the top

As long as the CDC and the Institute of Medicine are more interested in protecting vaccination programs than in controlling autism, very little will be done towards investigating the role of vaccines, additives and preservatives as triggers of autistic regressions. This became evident when Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp became head of the national autism program and director of the NCBDDD without even a public announcement. Dr. Yeargin-Allsop just as quietly became a member of the Scientific Affairs Committee of Autism Speaks, probably the largest, wealthiest and most influential U.S. parents association…The committee’s "scientific and medical experts meet regularly to direct policies and research for Autism Speaks".

The Wakefield hypothesis that autistic regression was possibly related to MMR vaccination in a small subset of genetically predisposed children has been a thorn in the side of the vaccine authorities since 1998.

On Tuesday, May 30, 2000 at 2:36 PM, Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp, then an epidemiologist at the NCBDDD, sent the following e-mail to Dr. Jose Cordero, at the time the Deputy Director of the National Immunization Program (NIP) of the CDC (Exhibit I):


As we discussed on Friday, we have become aware through Poul Thorsen of an exciting opportunity to study the role of MMR vaccine and autism using several registries/existing studies and the repository of biologic specimens and laboratory capabilities in Denmark. Attached below is a proposal for such a study. Poul will be leaving on Thursday to travel to Denmark where he will be meeting with the PIs for the proposed study on June 6th. We would like to be able to have Poul say whether it is likely that CDC (NIP) can fund the study, if NIP is interested. The proposed budget is included; there may be additional sources of funding (in addition to NIP) but we are not certain at this time. Unfortunately, the DD Branch does not have much (if any) $$ to fund the study, but we do have the expertise that we have developed due to the autism surveillance in Atlanta and the MMR/autism case-control study. I will be out of the office tomorrow, but you may contact Diana or Poul if you have questions. Thank you so much for considering this proposal. Marshalyn."

The "additional source of funding" mentioned was NAAR, the National Alliance for Autism Research, at the time a very active and wealthy parents group led by psychiatrist Eric London, MD.

NAAR has now merged with Autism Speaks and Dr. London serves with Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp on the same Scientific Affairs Committee.

So here we were in 2000

Catherine Rice PhD of the NCDBBB is conducting a study on the prevalence of autistic disorders among eight year old children in several U.S. regions and finding alarming rates 
 Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp MD of the same Center is soliciting funds from the National Immunization Program, whose function is to provide "leadership for the planning, coordination, and  conduct of immunization activities nationwide"…to fund a Danish study on MMR and autism, that would be co-authored by none other than Diana Schendel PhD, another NCBDDD epidemiologist 

Sounds strange? Not really.

The resulting CDC funded/authored Madsen MMR study was intended to prove that MMR vaccination was not related to the development of autistic disorders in a few hundred children in Denmark. It was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on November 7, 2002.., when Dr. Catherine Rice was discovering that on average, 1 in 150 US children had an ASD.

The Goldman and Yazbak Original Investigation.. published in the fall of 2004 revealed several problems with the Madsen MMR study and a more recent review by the Cochrane Collaborative concurred that the "Big MMR Study from Denmark" had problems…

The safe mercury

While his MMR study was being published, Madsen was working on a follow-up study about Thimerosal and autism in Denmark…

"A total of 956 children with a male-to-female ratio of 3.5:1 had been diagnosed with autism during the period from 1971-2000. There was no trend toward an increase in the incidence of autism during that period when thimerosal was used in Denmark, up through 1990. From 1991 until 2000 the incidence increased and continued to rise after the removal of thimerosal from vaccines, including increases among children born after the discontinuation of thimerosal."

So, less than 1000 Danish children had been diagnosed with autism over a period of almost 30 years or around 32 a year, and we were supposed to believe that their experience, with a totally different vaccination profile, was sufficient evidence to prove that the large amounts of Thimerosal in the many US pediatric vaccines that were used in 80’s and the 90’s were perfectly innocuous.

But more importantly, a review of e-mails exchanged between the Danish researchers and the CDC reveals that the statement "From 1991 until 2000 the incidence increased and continued to rise after the removal of thimerosal from vaccines, including increases among children born after the discontinuation of thimerosal" may not have been true.

In an e-mail on 11/13/2002 at 09:24, "co-author" Marlene B. Lauritsen informed Drs. Madsen, Thorsen and Schendel of the CDC:

"But the incidence and prevalence are still decreasing in 2001".

The sentences, before and after that unequivocal statement, were blackened with a magic marker before they were released through the Freedom of Information Act…

Another e-mail from Dr. Schendel dated 12/13/2002 at 21:05 … read:

“Hi Kresteen and Poul (referring to Drs. Madsen and Thorsen)

“We are having persistent questions from one of the congressional offices about data on the prevalence of autism in Denmark – in response to the NEJM article. I keep telling them that the information has been submitted for publication. I am not a co-author, and I can not give out any information that is under per review (apart from the fact that I don’t have the actual data) - professional courtesy and ethics and good science practice) just will not allow such mishandling. Coleen has been saying the same thing when they go to her (I didn’t know that).

“But they have now asked if we can tell them the subject matter of the paper. So what do you feel about this.


“Don’t feel like you have to say yes to this request – no pressure at all…

“Again, absolutely no pressure to comply. And we wanted to get your permission before we say anything.

“Have a good weekend.


The above is self-explanatory. As seen in the attached exhibit, the title proposed by Dr. Schendel was also obscured with a magic marker.

Dr Thorsen responded 26 minutes later (12/13/2002 at 21:31)

“Dear Diana

“Thank you for your note. I suggest that you refer to Marlene B Lauritsen or Proben Bo Mortenson and they could recommend the very persistent person to contact the Editor of "Pediatrics". (xxxxx)

“Enjoy your weekend!

“Best Regards


It certainly would be interesting to know what Dr. Thorsen added that needed to be kept secret.
The response from Dr. Madsen came on 12/16/2002 at 6:48 AM

“Subject: q on thimerosal and autism paper

“Hi Poul and Diana

“Just to tell you that I agree with Pouls suggestion of referring to Marlene.

“Best regards,


The above suggests that Dr. Marlene Lauritsen may have been the real lead author of the paper.
Leaning on the Editor and the IOM

It was decided that Coleen Boyle. PhD ("Coleen" in Dr, Schendel’s e-mail) would compose the letter of support to the Editor of PEDIATRICS. On Thursday December 5, 2002 at 2:51 PM, Dr. Boyle sent an e-mail to Dr. Jose Cordero with copy to Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp, about the letter of support. (Exhibit IV)

The following day at 3:47 PM, Dr. Boyle e-mailed her proposed letter to Dr. Cordero [Subject: FW: Letter of support for Danish Study – for Jose’s review and cmt (and signature)].

On December 10, 2002, Assistant Surgeon General Jose F. Cordero MD, MPH, now the Director, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities sent a long "personal" letter to Jerold F. Lucey, MD, the editor of PEDIATRICS.14

The letter started:

"I am writing in support of an expedited review and consideration of the enclosed manuscript that examines the association between thimerosal, an ethyl mercury containing preservative and autism. As you may know, there has been considerable interest by parents, clinicians, educators, and policy makers for an explanation of the marked increase in the rate of autism."

Of note is the fact that Cordero, who must have been aware of the results of Dr. Rice’s research refers to the "marked increase in the rate of autism" without citing better diagnosis and or looser criteria. As intriguing is the fact that Cordero and Boyle felt they needed to inform the editor of PEDIATRICS that thimerosal contains ethyl mercury.

Cordero (or Boyle) went on:

"…In addition, a key strength of the study is the ability to examine rates of autism prior to and after the discontinuation of vaccines containing thimerosal in Denmark in 1992. Contrary to what would be expected if thimerosal was linked to autism, the authors did not observe a decline in the rate of autism with the removal of thimerosal containing vaccines."

No one knows for sure, and it is a good bet that no one will ever know, whether Dr. Cordero had been made aware that the rates of autism were actually decreasing in Denmark in 2000, when Madsen and friends were reporting that they were "continuing to rise".

On the other hand, Cordero must have been aware that children in Denmark were receiving two doses of MMR in record numbers, while autism and ASD rates were increasing during the few years that immediately followed the 1992 Thimerosal ban.

Dr. Cordero ended his letter by the very intimidating statement:

“I feel this is a very important study that deserves thoughtful consideration by the Journal. Its findings provide one strong piece of evidence that thimerosal is not causally linked to autism.

Thank you for your consideration,



1.   An epidemiologist from NCBDDD conducts two large studies on the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders among eight year old children in several states in 2000 and 2002 but the Center and the CDC keep the impressive prevalence of 1 in 150 secret until 2007 

 2.   While the second Rice study is going on and disturbing results are coming in, another epidemiologist from the Center who is not a co-author, becomes aware that the reported data is flawed and instead of screaming foul, she collaborates with the Danish researchers, instructs them about what to say or not to say re inquiries by a United States Congressman and offers to draft a letter of support to the Editor of PEDIATRICS 

 3.   Another PhD at NCBDDD drafts the letter in question and the director signs it and mails it to the editor. 

 4.   The "Madsen Thimerosal study" is published in September 2003

 5.   Other questionable thimerosal – autism research from England and Denmark is also hastily produced and published that year

 6.   All these publications are taken seriously and a special committee of the Institute of Medicine decides in a few hours on February 9, 2004 that thimerosal is not causally linked to the increase in autism

7.   This same committee also decrees that MMR vaccination never caused autism and that further research into a thimerosal or MMR -autism connection should never be undertaken in the future. 

The whole sordid saga was reviewed by Representative Dave Weldon of Florida in his unforgettable speech

"Something is Rotten, But Not Just in Denmark"…

Dr. Weldon was evidently right.

John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.


Birgit Calhoun


It should not be forgotten that the parents of autistic children are affected by the child's behavior, too, and when the future is not so bright and finacial problems evolve, some parents may not have the warm feeling they would have if everything were totally peachy.

Also, parents and children often live in the same environment where the same toxins permeate the whole house, area or countryside. Studies have been done that say that there are more autistic children around coal-fired powerplants. All I am saying is that the toxins that affect babies and small children also affect parents just quite a bit less obviously.

So the observation that Kanner's autistic children had "refrigerator parents" may have a perfectly logical explanation just not the one that requires psychiatric help for the parents, but instead an examination of mercury in the family's proximity.

John Stone


I am of reminded Ed Yazbak's paper where he harped on the irony of the speed at which the CDC can work when it wants to ('The CDC, Spinach and Autism') but it has now taken the United States (let alone the rest of us) 70 years to officially find out what's causing autism and the officials are still floundering (that's some slow going!).

I was remarking only a few weeks ago on Dan and Mark's latest article, about why Kanner was leaping to a parent blame theory rather than looking at the novel environmental circumstances. After all, even if they had been rotten parents (and I bet they weren't) it wouldn't explain why they were the first rotten parents in history to have autistic children (according to Kanner's own account).

Seventy years on and we still only get excuses.


Jim Thompson


Here is Emily Willingham’s October 8, 2012 announcement of blogging at Forbes. See .

Here is the text of my comment to Emily Willingham on November 8, 2012. See and select “expand all comments.”

“The debate of whether Thimerosal is safe is over. It ended thirteen years ago. It is not safe!

The Public Health Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics and vaccine manufacturers agreed in 1999 that Thimerosal should be removed from vaccines as soon as possible.

And yet the removal of Thimerosal from vaccines has been 'in a period of transition' for thirteen years. Children and pregnant women still get flu shots with the mercury equivalent to a half cup of D009 mercury hazardous waste. 'The U.S. vaccine supply for infants and pregnant women is in a period of transition as manufacturers expand the availability of thimerosal-reduced or thimerosal-free vaccine to reduce the cumulative exposure of infants to mercury.'

It took eight years from the time President Kennedy announced his goal to put a man on the moon until Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed there. The United States FDA and CDC have failed their mission.

Please write your US House Representatives and US Senators and demand that Thimerosal be taken out of flu vaccines. Our future generations depend on it!”

Jim Thompson


Thank you for the link to written opinions concerning the Daubert ruling. These opinions address the flaws in Daubert. Since Daubert is a legal precedent only, it does not have to reconcile with the scientific method.

Regardless of Daubert, here is an example of how the vaccine court lacked the will to address an absence of evidence of safety for thimerosal used as a vaccine preservative.

Regarding Poul Thorsen, please call and write your U.S. legislators (see ) and request they ask the US Department of Health and Human Services that same question. See .


How is it that Pol Thorsen is still the wild ? What are the authorities responding on this point ? ( Other people have been arrested far more quickly ? Or haven't they ?)

"Science in the Courts" recalls the Daubert's case ( ): has AoA ever reported on it ?



There are no excuses for not carrying out studies on the Amish on the basis they are not the same as everyone else.

The University of Maryland started conducting clinical trials on the Amish population nearly 20 years ago because the Amish are genetically the same.

“Ultimately, the Amish people are interesting not because they’re different from us. They are us,” said Dr. D. Holmes Morton.”The genetic problems that are studied here are just genetic problems that came from Europe 300 years ago,” Morton said, whose Clinic for Special Children in nearby Strasburg has treated Amish children with rare genetic disorders for two decades.

See the full Baltimore Sun story here:
"Of trust and science"
"Years long study of the Amish has given a UM researcher medical insight and a unique role in their tight-knit realm",0,1843329,full.story

Jim Thompson

Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC since June, 2009 spoke today at a National Press Club broadcast.

Dr. Frieden’s response, starting at 41:22, in answer to a question about “what things will CDC have to cut if sequestration continues” included this:

“A second area is in lead poisoning prevention. Lead poisoning is a serious problem. We also have a long standing commitment to lead poisoning prevention at CDC because it was our own study at CDC from the national center for health statistics and the national nutritional health and examination survey which identified that lead poisoning is prevalent in our kids and lead to the elimination of lead paint and lead gasoline. We’ve had a lot of progress but unfortunately the program which had gone for decades has essentially been dismantled. And we are losing our ability to track it, to identify new sources of lead poisoning, and to prevent it, and to protect the next generation.
See .

It appears that the most important individual in the US administrative agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services does not recognize that the flu vaccines they buy and distribute contain a 250 times greater concentration than the US EPA threshold for D009 hazardous waste. Lead is a neurotoxin. Mercury is a neurotoxin. Please contact your elected U.S. Senators and Representative. See

Ask them to demand that Dr. Frieden stop the CDC from buying and distributing flu vaccine with Thimerosal preservative.

Birgit Calhoun

In addition to all this Poul Thorsen business, it bothers me that they chose Denmark as a foreign country to study. Ostensibly the reason for not using the Amish as a control group was that the Amish gene pool is not representative, i.e. too narrow. But what about the Danish gene pool, it is not exactly the most diverse. And on top of that the often cited study regarding mercury containing vaccines they really got themselves into a truly unscientific mess with their cohorts being about as unusable as they could get. They operated with two different groups of autistic children: the earlier children being only hospital in-patients, and the later group being in- and out-patient autistic children together.

John Stone


I think it is so little appreciated because it has become a silent given of our universe. In the UK as one of the final acts of the last Labour government Lord "Prince of Darkness" Mandelson as Secretary of State for Business incorporated Higher Education into his empire. I was assured by the then Conservative Shadow Secretary for Education David "Two Brains" Willetts that the Conservatives would not allow it if they came to office, but they not only allowed it they also decreed that henceforth all university departments must be run at a profit - it is for example an interesting question who will pay for history to be written in future.

A further unsurprising twist is that the "lead non-executive board member" at the Department of Business (perhaps a title deflation of "chairman") is none other than Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline.

Jim Thompson


Yes, and it is difficult to understand the lack of recognition of the industrial scientific bias. Unless the science excellence ceased at some point. Or as Richard Feynman, addessing the Caltech graduating class of 1974, concluded:

"So I have just one wish for you--the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom."


I think Daisy Mae Fatty Pants is saying she did really well in chemistry, not poorly. For the record.


Yes, John, I'm glad you wrote about this. Emily Willingham made a huge misstep when she stated, "that study has been done but your group dismisses it because the sixth author on it is a criminal..."
I wondered too, when I went to look at her Forbes article, if she could mean the COMPLETELY flawed Madsen MMR study (sorry about the caps but they seemed appropriate in this case). It is a very bad mistake to have made and shows she really is not interested in research and truly looking at FACTS. In fact it reflects badly on Forbes-no credibility or integrity. IMO, it just seems weird when she says, "What I love-and it bears repeating-is how you'll dismiss this study..." She just sounds really weird.

Mercky Business

PS CHS remarked on the incompetence of Willingham three years ago when she was blogging as 'Daisy May Fatty Pants'

"This is a hoot and why you cannot take some people who call themselves scientists seriously. A fundamental skill in science is observation. And here we can see why some people in science have selective blindness to basic observations.

"“Daisy May Fatty Pants” is a blogger and “biologist” who according to her own account only just made it:

"Despite blowing the chemistry curve in Chem II in high school and placing out of freshman biology in college, Emily ended up earning a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin”

"“Daisy May Fatty Pants” [aka Emily Jane Willingham PhD] lays claim to being the author of “The Complete Moron’s Guide to College Biology”. There is nothing like understanding your audience for being able to write for it.

"Here and here you can see “Daisy May Fatty Pants” in action attempting to take down a scientific study of the effects of pediatric vaccines on infant Macaque monkeys.

"“Daisy May Fatty Pants” seems to have a problem reading what she claims is her “native language”. This is despite laying claim to a degree in English. But she is a fan of the drivel written by drug industry funding beneficiary David Gorski [David Gorski’s Financial Pharma Ties: What He Didn’t Tell You].

"After writing two long scribbles on her blog complaining about too few control cases in the study “Influence of pediatric vaccines on amygdala growth and opioid ligand binding in rhesus macaque infants: A pilot study” “Daisy May Fatty Pants” seems to have wholly failed to note the magic words “pilot study” in the title and in the author’s conclusions:-

"In this pilot study …… the results of this pilot study warrant additional research into the potential impact of an interaction between the MMR and thimerosal-containing vaccines on brain structure and function. Additional studies are underway in the primate model to investigate the mechanistic basis for this apparent interaction.

"The phrase “pilot study” appears 7 times in the paper. Observation – a fundamental skill in science – which even schoolkids are taught.

"And to blow the irony meter “Daisy May Fatty Pants” ends up saying:

"Why are people who are so dismissive of almost all scientific findings so anxious to give a shout-out to science when it seems to support their beliefs?

"Well “Daisy May Fatty Pants” looks like that applies to you.

"["Daisy May Fatty Pants" is science editor and a contributor to another blog, The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism and also has yet another blog, College Biology Blog.]"

John Stone


What you see at every turn is people who move to protect the policy.

We recall Marie McCormick's remark to the IOM closed door meeting:

"Dr. McCormick: ...[CDC] wants us to declare, well, these things are pretty safe on a population basis (p. 33)."

On this basis you only go through the motions to waste time and deceive people. There is a very bad culture here.


Jim Thompson


The CDC email text you quote is evidence of the CDC's blatant lack of cooperation with members of the U.S. congress:

[From Dr. Schendel (CDC) to Poul Thorsen dated 12/13/2002 at 21:05]

“We are having persistent questions from one of the congressional offices about data on the prevalence of autism in Denmark – in response to the NEJM article. I keep telling them that the information has been submitted for publication. I am not a co-author, and I can not give out any information that is under per review (apart from the fact that I don’t have the actual data) - professional courtesy and ethics and good science practice) just will not allow such mishandling. Coleen has been saying the same thing when they go to her (I didn’t know that).”

But they have now asked if we can tell them the subject matter of the paper. So what do you feel about this.”

And Poul Thorsen’s criminal indictment has not prevented publication of work that he co-authors.

Here is an abstract (December 7, 2012) that includes two authors from Staten Serum Institut (Kristin Skogstrand and David M. Hougaard) and six U.S. scientists. See

Perhaps Emily Willingham might now read the report you quote by Dr. Yazbak and consider that this is not “good science practice.”

See Dr. Yazbak “The CDC finances, writes and helps publish Danish research--Another useless CDC-supported autism study” at

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