I don’t like using question marks in headlines, as in the kind of story you see in some national publications along the lines of, Can Congress Be Fixed? I figure that if someone plunks down a quarter for my newspaper (I’m going back to the old days) they want answers, not questions. A recent example is the CNN headline: Can Starbucks Be Stopped? Please, stop click-baiting and just tell me whether Starbucks Can Be Stopped. Take a stand, for heaven’s sake!
So for example, at AOA we don’t ask, Do Vaccines Cause Autism? We put in the time and effort (and often the tragic personal experience) to be able to say yes, they do. We don’t ask, Did Mercury Cause the First Reported Cases of Autism? We can say yes, it did, based on years of research, travel, interviews and analysis (see The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic for the 500-page version, or check out the video link on this page, How Mercury Triggered the Age of Autism, for the 10-minute tale. We aim to answer the question, to tell the truth, in as many ways as possible).
There are, however, a few topics that have been stewing in my mind that, as yet, lack clear answers but raise all kinds of questions. Darwin wrote, “Without speculation there is no good and original observation.” This seems kind of turned around doesn’t it? What I take him to mean is that, given a set of interesting facts, trying to figure out how they fit together can lead to a new way of looking at things. Implicit in the idea of speculation – of wondering how a set of dots might connect -- is trial and error and a willingness to look ridiculous.
In that spirit, here are a few things I’ve been speculating on. Confirmatory or counter-speculation, even ridicule, is most welcome.
Is HPV vaccine bringing down the birth rate?
This idea was first proposed to me by an Australian vaccine safety advocate who was visiting the States. According to my notes from 2014:
“she said the teen birth rate in south australia took a dive in 2008, the year after the vaccine was introduced there. also something similar in europe. she said the vaccine might be killing off the eggs in the ovaries. something to this effect was pubbed in sept 2012 by deirdre little, she thinks in bmj or lancet.”
Checking today, I see a report from 2013:
(LifeSiteNews.com) - The British Medical Journal (BMJ) Case Reports journal has reported that a healthy 16-year-old Australian girl lost all ovarian function and went into menopause after being injected with the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil.
“Dr. Deirdre Little, the Australian physician who treated the girl, provides solid evidence that Gardasil caused the destruction of the girl's fertility.
“She also pointed out that Merck Pharmaceutical, the manufacturer of Gardasil, has no supporting information on the effects of the vaccine on ovaries, suggesting that Merck had either done no safety testing on Gardasil in relation to its effects on women's reproductive systems, or had suppressed the information.”
My notes from 2014 continue:
“Wonder if this could explain sharp drop in u.s.
press release -- “(Washington, DC)-The U.S. teen birth rate declined 8 percent in 2011, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Since the recent peak in 1991, the teen birth rate has declined 49 percent and declined a full 25 percent between 2007 and 2011 alone. The overall national teen birth rate as well as rates for all age groups and all racial/ethnic groups are at historic lows.
"The continued decline in the nation's teen birth rate has been positively breathtaking and the credit for this remarkable national success story goes to teens themselves," said Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.”
My colleague Mark Blaxill noted to me then that “the 2007 to 2011 drop would correspond almost exactly with the introduction of Gardasil in late 2006.”
There are a couple of related issues regarding women’s health that I’m also speculating on:
Has the aluminum, or other ingredients, in deodorant led to a spike in breast cancer?
I’ve had women tell me they are very suspicious this might be true based on their own experience and that of other women they know.
Is the fact that women start wearing makeup in adolescence – or some other environmental factor like vaccines -- related to the anorexia that affects mostly women and starts about then?
Anorexia is one of those disorders that just doesn’t seem like a psychogenic condition to me. Mark and I have done a lot of work on hysteria, which supposedly afflicted young women in 19th century, and we believe “hysteria” was often misdiagnosed mercury poisoning. We’ve also looked into the tic disorders at New York High Schools that authorities quickly blamed on the girls’ psyches rather than doing a thorough investigation of highly plausible environmental associations (especially pesticides).
The idea that girls suddenly stop eating because of some self-image issue seems less likely to me than the idea that something physical is screwing up their metabolism. In fact, in the very first case of hysteria presented by Freud – Anna O. – anorexia was a large part of her illness. In our view she was also the prime example of mercury exposure from taking care of her ailing father in the early 1880s just as mercuric chloride came into wide use as an antiseptic.
Makeup has all kinds of crap in it, I’m sure. That doesn’t make make-up the culprit, but I would want to exhaust all environmental possibilities before blaming the girls themselves.
Do some people develop the delusional idea that angels are talking to them through their fillings because they got mercury fillings that are making them think funny?
I am sure there are those who will conclude I am the one who is thinking funny, but we’ve connected mercury with delusions of grandeur, and what is grander than angels talking to you? If on Monday you don’t hear angels, on Tuesday you go get a mercury filling, and on Wednesday you do hear angels, it might be natural to believe that they are speaking through the filling -- which, in a sense, they are!
Did toxic exposures kill Oliver Sacks?
The esteemed neurologist and writer died this year of a rare tumor, ocular melanoma. I wrote about Sacks in 2011, based on his account of his own “face-blindness” in The New Yorker. Sacks and others with the strange deficit (including Anna O.!) had backgrounds of exposure to metals, especially mercury, I wrote, and Sacks talked about it in his autobiographical 2001 book, Uncle Tungsten:
“Many of my childhood memories are of metals: these seemed to exert a power over me from the start. They stood out, conspicuous against the heterogeneousness of the world, by their shining, gleaming quality, their silverness, their smoothness and weight. They seemed cool to the touch, and they rang when they were struck. …
“Every month or so, I stocked my lab with visits to a chemical supply house … Beneath the serried urns and bottles on the shelves were great carboys of acid – sulfuric, nitric, aqua regia; globular china bottles of mercury (seven pounds of this would fit into a bottle the size of a fist), and slabs and ingots of the commoner metals.” Sacks took home whatever he wanted and experimented with abandon, his curiosity overcoming caution:
“When one of my mercury fillings came out, I was able to distill off the mercury, unchanged.” “Reading of Lavoisier and the ‘pneumatic’ chemists who preceded him stimulated me to experiment more with heating metals and making oxygen, too. I wanted to heat it by making mercuric oxide – the way Priestly had first made it in 1774 – but I was afraid, until the fume cupboard was installed, of toxic mercury fumes.”
It’s just speculation once again, but I wonder if both Sacks’ face-blindness and his rare ocular cancer had a common source. Somewhat relatedly, I see an awful lot of metals exposure in savants, especially autistic ones, and I suspect that there might be a connection. But that’s a topic for another day (and book!).
Is mercury related to gender identity issues?
Recently I’ve become familiar with two young men who have self-identified as women. This is the whole gender identity issue that has burst into public awareness with Caitlyn Jenner. Personally, I’m happy and in fact grateful whenever anyone feels free to be who they are and not hide it from the world.
I do wonder whether there is a environmental component to this phenomenon. One of the young men I’m familiar with has ADHD, and his mother was Rh-negative and stuck full of mercury while she was pregnant with him (another sibling has even worse ADHD). The second young man has a very pronounced tic disorder. I associate both ADHD and tics with mercury and I can’t help but wonder – can’t help but speculate – whether the barrage of mercury vaccines in the 1990s, continuing now with the flu shot, could be a factor.
Are Marine vets killing themselves because war was hell, or because they took medicine that can cause suicide?
Last month, the Times ran an in-depth profile of a Marine unit that fought in Afghanistan: “In unit stalked by suicide, veterans tried to save one another.”The article reported: “Almost seven years after the deployment, suicide is spreading through the old unit like a virus. Of about 1,200 Marines who deployed with the 2/7 in 2008, at least 13 have killed themselves, two while on active duty, the rest after they left the military. The resulting suicide rate for the group is nearly four times the rate for young male veterans as a whole and 14 times that for all Americans.”
Many of you will know that I’ve reported for more than a decade on the tragic side effects of the drug mefloquine (brand name Lariam) used to prevent and treat malaria. It clearly has caused suicides and even homicidal violence -- behavior the drugmaker warns can persist indefinitely -- and it was a big mistake to ever give it to people who carry guns for a living.
Was Lariam a factor here? That’s speculation, but an impeccable source wrote me that in this unit “they all almost certainly took mefloquine. The drug undoubtedly played some role. You would need to establish that the Marines experienced symptoms of prodromal toxicity while taking the drug to have a story, I think -- vivid dreams, anxiety, insomnia, etc.”
I fail to see how the VA is doing everything it can to help veterans when an appalling suicide rate is never investigated to see if the drug is involved. (Ditto the media, which never asks about this.) Maybe the fact the U.S. military invented and mandated mefloquine for soldiers is part of the reason, just as the fact that the government approves and recommends vaccines is part of the reason we don’t yet have an answer to – or even acknowledgement of – the autism epidemic.
That’s just speculation, of course.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.