Articles

Why the latest Geier & Geier paper is not evidence that mercury in vaccines causes autism

Several people have been sending me either links to this paper or even the paper itself:

Young HA, Geier DA, Geier MR. (2008). Thimerosal exposure in infants and neurodevelopmental disorders: An assessment of computerized medical records in the Vaccine Safety Datalink. J Neurol Sci. 2008 May 14 [Epub ahead of print]. (Full text here.)

A few have asked me whether I was planning on deconstructing this study, given that antivaccinationists have apparently been promoting it as “evidence” that it really, truly, and honestly was the mercury in vaccines after all that caused autism. In actuality, I really didn’t feel the need to bother to do a full deconstruction because a new blogger called EpiWonk did a three part take-down that eviscerated this latest bit of “science” from Geier père et fils so thoroughly and with a much greater knowledge of epidemiology than I could ever muster, that I saw no need. Add to that a four-part takedown on the Pathophilia blog, and there was really no need for me to write a detailed deconstruction of my own. Unfortunately, since this study appears to be rearing its ugly head again and again in the blogosphere, I think it’s worth directing you to these discussions. I had been meaning to to this anyway, but had gotten side-tracked by numerous other topics. To make up for my lapse, here we go:

  1. New Study on Thimerosal and Neurodevelopmental Disorders: I. Scientific Fraud or Just Playing with Data?
  2. New Study on Thimerosal and Neurodevelopmental Disorders: II. What Happened to Control for Confounding?
  3. New Study on Thimerosal and Neurodevelopmental Disorders: III. Group-Level Units of Analysis and the Ecological Fallacy

Meanwhile, the Pathophilia blog also has a multi-part deconstruction of the latest Geier study from a different viewpoint:

  1. IRB Approval of Geier Autism Study: Yes or No?
  2. I’ve Been Sucked Into the Thimerosal-Autism-Geier Vortex
  3. Young-Geier Autism Study: What the—? (Part 1)
  4. Young-Geier Autism Study: What the—? (Part 2)
  5. Young-Geier Autism Study: What the—? (Part 3)
  6. Young-Geier Autism Study: What the—? (Part 4)

Ow! That’s gonna leave a mark!
Enjoy! And the next time an antivaccinationist points to this particular study, send ‘em over to see EpiWonk and Pathophilia.

Posted in: Public Health, Science and Medicine, Science and the Media, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (16) ↓

16 thoughts on “Why the latest Geier & Geier paper is not evidence that mercury in vaccines causes autism

  1. DavidCT says:

    I don’t think that sending Jenny, Jim or Imus over will help much. I will, however, be letting my elected representatives know that the information for making informed decisions is available. Hopefully that will help them avoid doing something stupid.

  2. Joybobington says:

    I gotta say that the refutations linked are fine for those who understand the terminology. But they really aren’t something I could link to most of my family members.

    Could we perhaps produce a more “dumbed down” version?

  3. Michael X says:

    Have you seen the recent article on CNN about vaccine alternatives? It’s not as horrid as it’s title may sound, but it isn’t all roses either. You should give it a look, I’d be interested in your thoughts on it.
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/06/19/ep.vaccines/index.html

  4. AntiVax says:

    http://whale.to/vaccine/king.html

    Key realities about autism, vaccines, vaccine-injury compensation, Thimerosal, and autism-related research

  5. David Gorski says:

    Why hello, Mr. Scudamore. Funny, but I didn’t even mention your quackery-filled website Whale.to in this post.

    You do realize that Medical Veritas is almost as bad a “journal” as the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, don’t you? And that the article to which you link is nothing more than the same old disinformation and lies about a mythical link between vaccines and autism?

    Perhaps you’d like to read other offerings by me on this blog:

    Mercury in vaccines as a cause of autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs): A failed hypothesis
    Toxic myths about vaccines
    The Hannah Poling case and the rebranding of autism by antivaccinationists as a mitochondrial disorder
    Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, and “Green Our Vaccines”: Anti-vaccine, not “pro-safe vaccine”

  6. Harriet Hall says:

    Antivax,

    I’m puzzled as to why you would even mention a website that represents the antithesis of all this blog stands for. It’s a bit like going on an atheist website and posting a link to the Koran.

  7. David Gorski says:

    He can’t help himself. :-)

  8. AntiVax says:

    Funny you should mention religion, since your devotion to vaccination against all the evidence is highly religious group think

    Modern Medicine: The New World Religion The Hidden Influence of Beliefs and Fears by Olivier Clerc http://whale.to/a/clerc.html

    I prefer the truth myself, groups are the antthesis of that.

    And ad hominem is your best argument, Gorski’s also. That article completely shreds your arguments, so no wonder you find any excuse to avoid it.

    If anyone knew the real story of smallpox vaccination http://whale.to/vaccines/smallpox.html they would laugh you out of court.

    “I think that the biological case against Thimerosal is so dramatically overwhelming anymore that only a very foolish or a very dishonest person with the credentials to understand this research would say that Thimerosal wasn’t most likely the cause of autism.”— Interview of Dr. Boyd E. Haley by Teri Small:

    Cheers!

  9. David Gorski says:

    Obviously you didn’t read the posts that I suggested to you.

  10. AntiVax says:

    “Obviously you didn’t read the posts that I suggested to you.”

    And you read mine of course. No, I don’t read propaganda when it has been well taken apart already by King.

    “Medical Veritas is almost as bad a “journal”

    Ad hominem. Talking of slagging off journals:

    “I’ll give you an example. This is the New England Journal of Medicine……Eighty-three percent of its revenues comes from drug advertising. What do you think this costs? Eighty-three percent of its revenues comes from drug advertising.”–Dr Levin MD

    “Amazingly, 85 percent of prescribed standard medical treatments across the board lack scientific validation, according to the New York Times. Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal, suggests that “this is partly because only one percent of the articles in medical journals are scientifically sound, and partly because many treatments have never been assessed at all.”

    “For the public ever to break command science it must first understand the basis of its enormous powers. The medical establishment derives these powers from three sources: (1) enforced consensus through peer review……..”—Peter Deusberg

  11. David Gorski says:

    “Amazingly, 85 percent of prescribed standard medical treatments across the board lack scientific validation, according to the New York Times. Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal, suggests that “this is partly because only one percent of the articles in medical journals are scientifically sound, and partly because many treatments have never been assessed at all.”

    Ah, yes. I would expect that Mr. Scudamore would unthinkingly parrot the old “15%” canard. Fortunately, Dr. Novella addressed this very canard on his own blog so that I don’t have to write a lot to refute it:

    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=51

    It turns out that that “15%” myth is based on some very shaky assertions that got repeated over and over and over until it became almost a meme, not unlike the even more incorrect “we only use 10% of our brains” meme.

    “For the public ever to break command science it must first understand the basis of its enormous powers. The medical establishment derives these powers from three sources: (1) enforced consensus through peer review……..”—Peter Deusberg

    Quoting the arch HIV/AIDS denialist Peter Duesberg (whose name you can’t even manage spell correctly)? Yeah, that’s always a good way to gain credibility.

Comments are closed.