Folding, spindeling, and mutilating lauguage for fun since Aug, 2004
Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Here is some information on mercury, autism and immunizations .

Some right-wing anti-science libertarian types don’t like immunizations.  They don’t like immunizations to be mandatory, because they feel it denies them their “freedom” to not be immunized, and they suspect that “public health”, like anything that has the word “public” in front of it, is just a plot to take away their “freedom”.

Some lefty-tree-hugger anti-science –types don’t like immunizations because they are “unnatural”.

Some people are worried about mercury poisoning in general, and it is the trace amounts of mercury in the shots that worries them.

Reader, commenter, friend, and fellow blogger, Karen recently sent me a link to this article by John Stossel  at the Townhall website.  I found this article to be more interesting for what it DIDN’T say than for what it said.

First of all, Mr. Stossel starts out invoking the dreaded “Kennedy” name.  Booga booga booga.  Kennedy.  Gather the children and run for the hills.  Circle the conservative wagons.  There’s a KENNEDY involved.

Robert Kennedy Jr. is an activist against pollution in general, and has taken an interest in Mercury specifically (mercury is one or the waste products of fossel-fuel burning power plants).  I believe that he is in error where the facts are concerned when it comes to immunizations, but it is not due to an anti-industrial liberal commie plot that he’s involved in the issue.  It is not scare-mongering that brought Robert Kennedy Jr. into the fray.  It is good intentions, a real issue, and a not-so-subtle dose of mission creep.

Stossel goes on to point out that “As March of Dimes researchers put it, "Changes in diagnosis account for the observed increase in autism." Sure enough, California data show the rise in autism diagnoses almost exactly matches a decline in cases of retardation.”

As far as I know, and I'm no expert, this is true.  The advent of the Autism Spectrum model has caused a number of different diagnosis to be lumped together under the umbrella of autism.  Also, more children are being diagnosed with these disorders due to several factors.

Stossel goes on to blame one single factor: “"People that we once called quirky or geeky or nerdy are now called autistic," Dr. Offit said, "because when you give that label of, say, autistic spectrum disorder, you allow that child then to qualify for services."

Imagine that. A trendy diagnosis being driven by government-paid services.”

Of course it is convenient for Mr. Stossel to put the entire burden down to the avarice of government schools.  I’m sure that the extra funding per child diagnosed with a learning disability is one way to help offset the cuts that cause crowded classrooms and other woes, but that isn’t the only reason there has been a jump in the rate of diagnosis for these disorders.

One factor could be an increased awareness of the problems students with learning disabilities face, and the growing awareness that their potential need not be wasted if we only give them a little specialized attention and help.  Motivation to provide that help is at an all-time high in the school systems, even to the extent that it can become egregious and over-bearing if you don’t happen to believe that your child has need of their interventions.

Another could be the fact that in schools increasingly burdened with large class sizes and (unfunded) mandated performance requirements, there is less and less tolerance in the system for children who perform in an anomalous way.  Children who don’t hit the milestones on schedule used to have time to grow and develop.  There was some latitude for children and teachers to cope with small degrees of learning difference.  That latitude is disappearing.  There is no longer time for the geeky and the nerdy to get on board with their unique approach to learning.  They must conform or be “helped “ to conform.  The very existence of their school can depend on it.

Yet another might be the effect of “parent advocacy support groups" some of which are at least partly funded by the pharmaceutical industries, encouraging parents to procure a diagnosis (and treatment) for their children.  Far from being an attack on Big Pharma, the incidence of the diagnosis of learning disabilities is quite in their favor as the profit on an immunization is realized once or at most a few times, while the cocktails of drugs needed by a child with learning disabilities can become quite a bonanza for them. (Go to the CHADD website and find a parent support forum.  Just read for a while, it won't be long before you encounter at least one parent whose child is on several medications at a time.)

But all of that is very complicated, and addressing it would make it so that the burden would not appear to fall so neatly on the shoulders of the Kennedy family and the conservative bugaboo of a liberal public school kleptocracy.

But what ABOUT mercury poisoning?  After all, there are people who actually suffer the effects of mercury poisoning, and if they aren’t getting toxic levels of mercury from immunizations; where oh where could it be coming from?  Does anyone else know of some large, highly profitable business interest that could be poisoning our environment with mercury as part of the waste production they put into the environment?

Anybody?  Anybody?

Or were we supposed to just conclude that mercury isn’t that big of a deal and write all mercury fears off as anti-business liberal commie fear mongering?

Who knows, but the one conclusion I've come to is that I will go just about anywhere other than for a fair and balanced treatment of any complex issue.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007 20:32:59 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] |  |  | #
Wednesday, 14 March 2007 07:37:10 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I think you're being quite unfair to Stossel, Teresa. He was obviously only talking about vaccines. Your reply branches off deeply into other topics. The article wasn't about mercury poisoning, federally mandated performance requirements, the Kennedys, or other big business interests. It was about vaccines! And he didn't put the "burden... neatly on the shoulders of the Kennedy family." He merely pointed to them as an example of how people use scare tactics for profit. He then went on to blame himself (the media), lawyers, and big business for using these tactics.

I think his real "target" is lawyers; especially this McDowell fellow. I wouldv'e thought you'd like the article.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007 09:04:51 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)

My point is that he tried to take on the issue of the anti-vaccine movement without branching into all those options, and I feel he definately avoided doing so so that he would not have to talk about things that would be problematic to blaming "liberalism" for the whole problem.

There were parts of the article I liked just fine, as a start...but the incomplete picture that Stossel painted was misleading and disingenuous.

I appreciate the message that we shouldn't allow fear tactics to donimate our lives and short-circuit our reason.

Where I have the problem is the attempt to make it sound like the anti-immunization movement is somehow a liberal anti-business plot, and a call to "reason" that is so one-sided and incomplete.

I have no trouble with him taking on anti-science types who try to maximize fringe research with anomalous results and use it as a wedge to try to create the appearance of controversy in the face of scientific consensus. I have no problem with him trying to call people who cite scientific consensus on a controvertial issue as being proof of some "conspiracy" on their B.S...I don't mind him taking opportunistic lawyers who want to use the issue for their own gain to task about it either.

Of course, it seems weird to me that he doesn't see the same techniques in play when it comes to Global Climate Change.

I don't know where he stands on the use of such tactics with regard to evolution, but my guess is that it is whichever side he sees as most advantageous to his favorite businesses.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007 13:46:42 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
hehe. Just like all of us, he needs to eat, too. Do you think he would get more readership if he call this lawyer McDowell a faggot?

LMAO! Wheew! I crack myself up.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007 14:19:07 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)

Sure, he needs to eat too...but I guess I'm not obligated to listen to his opinions and take them seriously, and if I think he's oversimplifying an issue, I can say so. Even if there IS no profit in it for me. :-)

If the Ann Coulter model is any idication, name-calling is EXTREMELY profitable...until it isn't. :-)
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