By Dan Olmsted
One of the unexpected plusses of Bobby Kennedy Jr.'s book on the dangers of thimerosal, the ethyl mercury vaccine preservative: It is being greeted by another round of excruciatingly erroneous authoritative-sounding pronouncements claiming that the tiny, tiny -- truly, truly, teeny and tiny -- amounts of mercury are OK if not actually good for you.
No. As I believe Will Redwood put it, injecting mercury in babies on purpose is stupid. Out of the mouths of babes and infants comes the truth. Out of the mouths of the Mercury Drinkers comes a defense of injecting mercury in babies that is just plain astonishing:
"It doesn't matter what Bobby Kennedy, Jr. does -- the only thing is what the data show," Paul Offit said. "The question is, are the levels [of mercury] contained in vaccines shown to be harmful? And the answer is no. Thimerosal is ethyl mercury, not environmental mercury, and it's excreted from the body far more quickly ... Breast milk contains far higher [mercury] levels than you would ever get from vaccines."
The CDC is happy to chime with its usual insipid statement: "Thimerosal has been used safely in vaccines for a long time (since the 1930s) and has a proven track record of being safe." It's safe because it's safe because we say so.
Actually, it is not safe and it has a proven record of causing autism, starting with its use in the 1930s in pesticides and vaccines, before which autism didn't exist, after which it started popping up with increasing frequency -- first in families with backgrounds in pesticides and vaccination. Tell me why, if it's got nothing to do with autism, the father of the second child ever diagnosed with autism was experimenting with the ethyl mercury dust Ceresan at the same time his child was born? (While the pediatrician mother of Case 7 was promoting infant vaccinations with ethyl mercury?) It was poison in 1937, it's poison now. It was poison in pesticides (and long ago removed), it's poison in vaccines -- but still injected into tens of milliions of babies a year. ("Ethyl Mercury" is visible below Wheat in black type.)
This doesn't dissuade those who think we're all lotus-eating idiots. Journalists are drinking the mercury right along with the best and brightest vaccine zealots. "Most fundamentally, Kennedy does not get chemistry," wrote Jeffrey Kluger in Time. Prepare to eye-roll: "Thimerosal is an ethylmercury product. Mercury in general may be a neurotoxin, but it’s in its methylmercury form that it does its damage—and only in particular concentrations. The quantity of ethylmercury that was once in vaccines was so small that it was actually within acceptable limits for the more toxic, methyl form—but it wasn’t even in that methyl form to begin with." Yes, this makes absolutely no sense. What wasn't in what?
"Sticking up for thimerosal -- Read the studies -- it's safe," was the headline on a Slate piece by Arthur Allen in 2005 when Kennedy spoke out the first time.
We've seen this kind of denial when it comes to medical mercury not just for years, not just for decades, but for centuries, as Mark Blaxill and I outlined in our book. First it was a supposedly great thing to treat syphilis with mercury rubs. Then doctors and pharmacists started whipping it up in brandy and chocolate for the unfortunate sufferers, who slowly but surely just got sicker. After that, doctors and pharmacists started injecting it and missed the fact they were creating the worst manifestation of the disease, general paralysis of the insane.
Then, when family members exposed to those treatments started developing their own strange symptoms that Freud grouped under "hysteria," nobody noticed what medicinal mercury had wrought once again. And early pharma companies including the predecessor to Glaxo starting mixing it in teething powders and caused Pink disease, which they never noticed.
Then came autism, triggered again by reckless medical use of mercury. And once again, no one in the medical establishment noticed; when others did, they set on them like cackling vultures.
One thing Offit and ilk like to recite is that the dose makes the poison, a truism of toxicology, as if a little radioactive pixie dust sprinkled over things couldn't possibly be a problem. Well, with mercury, the dose and the susceptibility make the poison. The Cincinnati scientist who figured out mercury caused Pink disease noted it only affected 1 in 500 children who also were given teething powder, children who got the same dose as those who weren't affected at all. That's because mercury affects different people differently, he noted. (Offit has said the affected 1 in 500 kids probably just got a whopping dose of teething powder. This is the kind of evidence-free nonsense you have to stoop to once you start defending mercury in medicine.)
A deeper understanding of the history of medicine reminds us that people who run the leading medical organizations of their day always believe the reign of error is behind them; that they are the icons (and idols) of a golden age of progress upon whom God has chosen to shine the rays of His particular favour.
In fact, these are the bad old days, the dark ages, all over again, and worse. The Mercury Drinkers are still in charge, doing more damage with their misbegotten ideas than ever. We're up against half a millennium of medical malfeasance and the people sworn to protect it with our lives.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.