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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday

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Health care spending is almost all going to be ongoing. That's not stimulus. Simulus spending is a one time shot of consumption, or else one-time investments. He should stimulate the economy through transit investments and rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, as well as updating the electric grid to accomodate alternative energy. That would be stimulus.

Who says that RFK Jr. is being considered for EPA head? Think this is pure speculation. Yes, he'd be horrible.

Is there more reason to not like RFK, Jr. than the anti-vaccination issue? The other complaints he had didn't seem really dire. Saying he sees a lot of conspiracies - the more I know about government, the less absurd that seems. Saying he didn't want to put wind farms on Martha's Vineyard doesn't seem strange to me. I've been to Martha's Vineyard and it's REALLY small and some prime real estate. I've seen the windmill farms on the 5 in California and it seems that's a much more likely place to put a wind farm. I don't know enough about it but I reserve judgment.

Other than that, I think he's very inspirational, honest, a strong environmentalist, has been at this a long time, could bring a lot of attention to what's going on, he's a lawyer and I think a lot of it would be legal work...I don't know why he would such a bad choice.

Personally, I am not AT ALL a fan of Rahm Emanuel - I almost can't think of a Democratic political pick I could like less but...I'm ready to give Obama a chance. I know he had a transition committee working with him on choices, I know he's a smart, savvy guy, I don't know what the goals for each position were so...I'm taking a wait/see attitude.

transit investments

good call

Thank you for your assistance publicizing the Skeptic's Circle I do. Or something.

Sorry Norm, I should have looked around. I also saw RFK Jr. "rumors" in the Washington Post. Heaven help us. I'm not impressed with the guy. His poor record on science is a real disappointment for people who have been highlighting Bush's awful record. Yet another arrow in the quiver of those who argue that environmentalism= pseudo science.

Wow, I wondered how long it would take for me to get mad at Obama. Turns out about 36 hours.

Jill: What's wrong with believing in conspracies? Nothing, if there's positive evidence of them. In fact conspiracies do happen quite often in politics. But the problem with most conspiracy theories is that they're based on paranoia and they lack the evidence of causal connections. In fact conspiracy theorists take the lack of evidence as itself evidence of the power of the conspiracy--and thus all the more reason to be alarmed about them!

--Something bad happened --The government (or the GOP, or ACORN, or Obama's secret connections, or the Jews, or bankers) is really powerful and I have no trust in them --Therefore the government did it

Wow, I wondered how long it would take for me to get mad at Obama. Turns out about 36 hours.

I thought about cutting him some slack for awhile but decided the issues are too important, and that I should do what I've always done and just speak my mind.

Robert Kennedy Jr., that's not change that's more of the same!

I'm just trying to get what you guys dislike about Bobby K., Jr. so much besides the vaccine thing - or is it just that.

I really like what he says on energy - just getting our car mpg's up a little and we will save an incredible amount of oil. He is not totally against drilling but he wants to look at all the other options. I think his work with Riverkeeper is pretty great. He is a very inspirational speaker about the environment, an impassioned spokesperson for it. And, I'm not sure what the conspiracy theories are but if they are about big pharma....hmmm...I think there is all kinds of fudging going on there (and I know there have been some guys who worked for the FDA have come out about it in the past.) And, we all know there have been bad drug testing.... I don't know what he is saying but I doubt if it's tin foil time like the examples you were listing. Maybe - but I doubt it.

But to answer your question the thimersol autism link that he maintained in the face of hard evidence told me everything I needed to know. He sometimes goes with his heart when he should be going with the evidence, and that is a dangerous combination. We've had eight years of that crap we don't need more.

Have you read everything and watched the videos from "Let's consider why" to the bottom of the page on the link I provided?

If you're talking to me about the link, Norm, I looked it over until the end - I didn't read it carefully (I am finally on the last pages of the project I have been on for the last eight months - it probably would've taken half as long if this d@mn election hadn't been coming up :) I thought I'd be less involved when the election was over but I see I have to wean myself).

I know about the controversy from previous posts and from the guys I really don't like at denialism (sorry). I know it's something you guys are up in arms about but I don't have kids that are involved so I know that brings a blind passion into it - feeling you might have let them down, I don't think it's that they don't believe science, I think they don't trust the test results and believe there is lying within the pharmaceutical companies and payoffs. And, I think there are things going on in big pharma. I think this was the documentary that kind of blew me away but I don't have time to look at it now to make sure - I remember there was a guy from the FDA who finally couldn't take the deceit in the one I saw.

Obama advisers said the nomination would please both Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

hmmmm.... It isn't easy to be president of the U.S. The honeymoon is over!

Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and son of the late senator and attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, has long championed a cleaner water supply for New York City.

As an officer and attorney for the environmental watch group Riverkeeper, Kennedy has taken on governments and companies for polluting the Hudson River and Long Island Sound. >

Kennedy, a falconer and white-water rafter, also worked as an assistant district attorney in New York City.

Kennedy gained Washington experience by fighting anti-environmental legislation in Congress in 1995 and 1996, when Newt Gingrich took over as House speaker.

Damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't. Kennedy, much like Obama, is both too much of this for some people, and too much of the other for other people.

Alas, Obama is the president of the U.S. and he had to have the intelligence and willingness to take into account the view of the majority of Americans. Could Ralph Nader or Sean Hannity ever be president of the U.S.? No? Why not?

Norm,

Like Jill, I'm still searching for what Kenney's sins are beyond the vaccination controversy.

The appointment would represent a major and early victory for environmentalists and would undoubtedly please Kennedy's cousin, Caroline Kennedy and uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy - who was an instrumental Obama backer during the primary and is in poor health.

Hmmmm... Ted Kennedy was one of the first heavy hitter Democrats to support Obama. So now Obama is appointing a pro-environmentalist Kennedy. And this is shocking just because of Kennedy's beliefs re vaccinations?

I looked for other reasons, Norm, but I didn't find them. Maybe it's the Merlot, but please enlighten me. (I'll no doubt be eating crow after your response!)

And Rahm Emanuel is both too liberal and too conservative, depending upon whose opinion one reads.. sigh..

From what I know of Rahm Emanuel I kind of can't stand him but who knows what really goes on. I do feel he took credit for 2006 without giving credit to Dean's 50 state strategy , (which he was against) and to the netroots, that he pushed a lot of very conservative candidates that didn't do that well on the average. I'm really a fan of Dean and I think it's been his business plan that has made some real changes in the Democrats - not Emanuel who seems a lot of more of the same to me. But ---- Obama might be looking for people super experienced in certain positions and that is what Rahm did for the Clinton's, right? And you know that wasn't an easy time.

Jill,

Emanuel is a hard ass. I think that Obama realizes what a dog-eat-dog world that Pennsylvania Avenue can be. More than anything, Obama's a realist.

Isn't it enough for you that he continues to hold on to a view that has no evidence to support it. That he believes in a conspiracy that includes The CDC, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Pharmaceutical companies.

RK fell in love with a theory and then didn't have common sense to change it when the evidence didn't support it. Instead he concocted a conspiracy theory to support what his heart told him rather than what the facts supported.

It's not the anti-vaccination stance or some of his strange views on other issues that are disturbing it's his disdain for the scientific method unless it supports his view.

I want someone in a position that requires some scientific savvy to go where the evidence leads not where his heart takes them.

RKJr. would be a disaster. We've had eight years of political payback determining appointments. I want the Democratic party to be different. Find the best people for the job. Don't appoint someone because their father was a supporter that has cancer and other family members played a role in his election. Don't support someone because he's a 'nice guy' That's the kind of cronyism we've suffered through for too long.

The belief that some vaccines are correlated to autism is not the most grevious of sins. People on this site seem to be more Scientific Wonks than i'd say 90% of people out there. I'm not defending him, but i'm not surprised that he thinks this. Anyone have statistics on how many people think there is a link? We just need to educate him on the subject, that's all

Now this is interesting, "Caroline Kennedy, who helped Obama lead his vice-presidential search, is being considered for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations" http://www.mlive.com/us-politics/index.ssf/2008/11/obama_considers_stars_for_cabi.html

He is appointing an environmentalist to the EPA.

I don't think we should ignore the a fore mentioned problems but we shouldn't ignore the fact that this man may very well be the most qualified individual to ever hold this office.

I don't think we should ignore the a fore mentioned problems

My personal opinion is that those problems disqualify him.

Yeah, and some people think making racially insensitive remarks disqualify individuals from being considered "idealists" or "progressive", but then we all have at least one or two irrational beliefs.

Yeah, and some people think making racially insensitive remarks disqualify individuals from being considered "idealists" or "progressive", but then we all have at least one or two irrational beliefs.

That makes no sense at all. Is it some sort of a defense of RKJr's penchant for psuedo-science. Ralph Nader's racial insensitivity doesn't seem to taint his judgment on corporate abuses while RKJr's disdain for the scientific method weighs directly on his qualifications for the position as head of the E.P.A., but then you knew that, didn't you?

My point, besides being snarky, was the irony of trying of following a discussion where it was advocated by some that we should ignore a series of racially insensitive remarks because of the purity of Nader's Ideas with a discussion about how we should focus on a flaw in RFKJ's thinking and ignore the potential progress he could deliver.

My argument in both is that we should demand results from those given positions of leadership. Nader's only result has been to marginalize and demean an important argument on corporate power. Kennedy, despite a refusal to accept the evidence on one topic for what seems like emotional reasons, could stand to be in position to push through the largest Global warming legislation in the history of our country, perhaps the world.

He is not only an environmentalist but also a man well connected in politics, with strong allies in both the House and the Senate. I am not advocating that he be chosen, but only that his most important qualifications are those that will help him get things done.

As a progressive I feel progress is something I should feel responsible for.

I am not advocating that he be chosen, but

It sounds like that is exactly what you're doing.

Let me ask you a question if Ralph Nader were being considered for a position say consumer czar would you support his nomination?

It sounds like that is exactly what you're doing.

Perhaps that is where my argument has taken me, but I think what I have been trying to say is what I would judge both a Nader and Kennedy on their abilities to do the job in question. Nader is no doubt qualified to represent consumers, but given that some of those consumers are black I do think it would be reasonable for him to repudiate racism and any remarks he made either purposefully or unintentionally before accepting the post. Similarly I think it is reasonable to have Kennedy commit to follow the science on environmental issues and use science when suggesting solutions. I am not sure if I would require him to reverse his statements on potential links between MMR and Autism. It would definitely be preferable.

The Vaccine debate is one spurred by a correlation causation error and we really don't have enough data to say whether there was a real increase in autism to correlate with the increased exposure to certain chemicals in vaccines. So yes its an unscientific belief, but its not like he is looking at 30 years worth of data or the mountain of support for evolution. And all the same I don't think its a bad idea to get substances like mercury out of vaccines.

And quite frankly if in 20 years I can stop worrying about global warming I won't really give a crap.

You don't give a crap if children die because this idiot persuades people not to get their children vaccinated.

You don't care that he not only lacks critical thinking skills, but he is dishonest in the way he supports his pseudo-scientific theories.

It's a shame that you've chosen to be an apologist for RK Jr.

Perhaps I'm being unfair, have you read the article I linked to and watched the videos?

Norm,

There may be no conclusive scientific evidence which connects vaccinations with autism. However, there are a fair number of parents with autistic children who truly believe that the vaccination sparked autism in a child who was no doubt already predisposed towards autism, and who believe that the vaccination might just be responsible for such an effect. Do you feel that scientific knowledge as concerns autism and cancer research is infallible? Do you believe that there should be no further research?

The point is that the concerns of people who don't feel all that confident of what the scientific research at this time in point reveals, and the fact that said people want more research on said subjects, should not be ignored.

So as far as giving as crap as to whether or not children die, there are those who question the results. The scientific results as concerns this topic are not conclusive and deserve further study

The point is that the concerns of people who don't feel all that confident of what the scientific research at this time in point reveals, and the fact that said people want more research on said subjects, should not be ignored.

It hasn't been ignored. Read the link I just provided. There is certainly a greater danger from not getting vaccinated.
I have greater confidence in the science than some anecdotal evidence of parents who are responding emotionally to a difficult situation. What is your answer to the mother who loses a child that she failed to get vaccinated because she ignored the scientific studies and instead relied on anecdotal evidence.

Norm. Like you, I follow science. When I discovered I had breast cancer, I eventually discovered that my knowledge in this field was lacking. I discovered that the easily-accessed studies in this field were lacking.

We all rely on the experts and 99% of those that understand the issue of autism and vaccines support the conclusion that given the evidence available there is no link and we need to use our resources to investigate other possibilities. It's the old saw don't do the same thing over and over again and expect to get a different result.

The state of the vaccine autism question has reached the conspiracy theory stage with no evidence that there is a conspiracy.

I understand that if you're a big RK Jr. fan it is difficult to accept that he is more than a little nutty on this particular issue, and worry that in the future if the science goes against his heartfelt beliefs he'll once again follow his heart.

Personally, I always do a little research before discussing medical questions, lab results and such and accepting recommendations from my doctor. I have more than once sought a second opinion if through my research I thought he might be missing something. I always ask a lot of questions until I'm satisfied I've done all I can to make a sound decision.

Perhaps I'm being unfair

You are not being any more unfair then I am as I play a bit of devils advocate on this.

But here is where I stand on the vaccine issue.

I haven't read your link or watched the video but I have read Kennedy's original article as well as looked at the abstracts for several scientific articles that dispute any evidence that there is a link between the mercury in vaccines and Autism.

I will look at your links again.

My perception up to now has been that I don't judge those perpetuating this controversy as harshly as I might other conspiracy theories for a couple of reasons.

  1. I see contradictory data as to the rate of autism and increases that have or have not been seen. The Wiki article lists very different rates in different countries. and scientist say correlated increases are evidence of increased diagnosis in one study and then say studies that show no correlation are evidence of there not being a correlation in other studies.

  2. Mercury is bad. There seems to be no evidence that is causes autism but there is plenty of evidence that it is unhealthy to ingest and advocating its elimination from vaccines is not a bad idea.

  3. We do need more research into autism and heavy metals and other pollutants are listed as possible factors even if those in vaccines are not the straw breaking any camel backs.

I would also temper my Criticism of RFK because I have yet to see him advocate that people should not vaccinate their children.

But that said, even if there were some small risk of increased autism with the vaccines the benefit from taking them far outweighs that risk. They are amongst the top 5 inventions of mankind in regards to human standards of living. I also acknowledge that raising the specter of "Deadly Immunity" certainly could have a chilling effect on needed preventative care.

The proposed Cape Wind wind power project is not on land - it's on water, where there is much greater wind. The whole Kennedy family (not just RFK) has very heavily opposed the Cape Wind project because they consider it an eyesore. They've advanced other supposed conservation arguments, but it's all a cover for the eyesore issue. Total NIMBY stuff. Truly lame.

The opposition to the windfarms is of course purely political but not all that surprising. The last I read, the plan was for turbines several miles off the coast but not over the horizon-- easy to say the Kennedys are just caving to wealthy property owners, but then, we're not depending on their support, are we?

As for the vaccination issue-- I worked for 5 years on clinical trials in an immunology lab at one of the most famous research institutions in the country and now work as in infectious disease epidemiologist. Sorry for the resume, but all that's to preface the fact that I have a 2 year old child who's up to date on all his shots, but you'd better believe I have my fingers crossed every time he gets a vaccination.

Of course there are a lot of whack jobs out there who harbor these insane 1984-ish theories about childhood vaccinations; on the other hand, I find most people who dismiss all worries about vaccines as pure ignorance to be incredibly ignorant themselves about the human immune system and how easily it can go haywire.

It is also beyond me why anyone would blindly trust pharmaceutical companies and the results of trials they fund. I don't believe there's some giant organized cover-up, but I do believe that there's a huge amount of pressure to minimize study costs by completing early phase trials quickly. I do believe there's a giant incentive to mitigate any possible damages caused by past mistakes. And most important, I do believe that Donald Rumsfeld had a moment of clarity when he warned of the "unknown unknowns". Just see the recent implosion of the 3 largest HIV vaccine trials after the pharma company found that the vaccinees were getting infected at higher rates than the placebo recipients or the undisputed side effects of the earlier anthrax vaccines.

The supposed link between thimerosal and autism is in all likelihood without merit (despite the fact that the roots of autism are quite unclear). However, when there's a stranger sticking a needle in your kid's leg and injecting something developed by more strangers, let me tell you that, at least for me, p>.05 doesn't offer a lot of comfort. As statisticians and epidemiologists love to say, "All models are wrong, but some are useful".

I don't think that's fair, Norm. RFK, Jr. is up for an environmental job which I think (and it sounds like redseven thinks) he is qualified for. We don't know who the other choices are but Kennedy brings NRDC, Riverkeeper experience, he has an award from the Sierra Club, he is a lawyer and environmental work has become about the law. He is not up for science advisor or Surgeon General. As I said, I don't follow this, I trust you that the conclusions Kennedy announced were wrong and based on not trusting studies he should've, misreading the facts, being afraid of a conspiracy, whatever. It seems like the better thing to do than to call the misinformed names is ask them what WILL satisfy them. What kind of independent test (or how many independent tests) will make them comfortable that the mercury preservative is not the problem or whatever, I think that's the tack to take.

If a parent decides not to vaccinate their child because of what RFK, Jr. says, I would wonder. If they choose to ask their doctor questions, I would understand. I don't have kids, I rescued two dogs and, believe it or not, vaccination is a question in the dog community. In answer to questions people have asked, the AVMA posted answers saying vaccination is a medical procedure and like any - there are risks involved - along with some other answers. Why should people who own dogs ask more questions about vaccinations than people with children? The risks might be slight and be greatly outweighed by the benefits (my cousin's wife got polio from her vaccination I would guess in the 1960's and she limps because of it but...she can walk and many others were saved) In dogs (sorry I don't have a better frame of reference), the main danger is allergies but I do know two unrelated, dissimilar dogs whose auto-immune systems were severely damaged from the same batch of vaccine from Pfizer -- who deny any connection.

I think this is a highly emotional issue for people - I think many of them are searching for why and from what I've seen out there, the scorn and derision about their search for some kind of answer is stifling instead of opening up more dialogue and THAT seems unscientific to me.

As far as conspiracies in big pharma - does that really seem amazing to people?

The position he is up for requires a sound science background in my opinion, at least not a disdain for science that doesn't support his emotional reaction to the vaccination issue. It's the lack of respect for science that I find most disturbing. Heck of a job Brownie, comes to mind.

The most disturbing thing in the video was actually when Scarborough says "like global warming" and RFK fails to stop and make the correction.

You know RFK, Jr., is a strong fighter against global warming, right?

That part shouldn't concern you.

Here's a Neil Cavuto video where Kennedy calls out oil companies, etc.

The problem isn't that he is for or against some specific issue. He's right on most of them, but not always for the right reason. The problem is that he is willing to ignore the science if it doesn't fit his belief. He has demonstrated that he is willing to cherry pick facts and ignore facts to confirm his bias. He is on vaccines what Inhofe is on global warming. His lack of respect for science and the scientific method is what disqualifies him for me not any specific position he holds.

sorry for posting on the skinny

Once again - I left my browser open without updating before I answered. Sorry. Some really interesting comments up there covered what I was trying to say....

The worry: Vaccines cause autism

What's behind it: This claim first came to the forefront in 1998, after a British study linked the MMR vaccine to 12 children with autism. Prior to this, there had been some concern that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative common in many vaccines at the time, also may have been partly or totally to blame for some cases of autism.

The facts: So far, ten studies involving thousands of children have failed to find any connection between the MMR and autism. Plus, the original paper suggesting a connection between the two was formally retracted by 10 of its 13 authors in 2004. Learn more: Understanding autism

As for the thimerosal issue, there's a bit more backstory worth explaining: First, it's absolutely true that mercury can be harmful. The kind in contaminated fish and water builds up in the body when ingested and can cause severe nerve damage. However, the type of mercury that's in thimerosal doesn't accumulate in the body. "It's never been linked to any adverse effect," says William Schaffner, M.D., professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Don't Miss

Autism: Unraveling the mystery Plus, autism rates have continued to rise even after drug companies voluntarily phased out the preservative from all vaccines given to kids (with the exception of some flu shots) in 2001. Clearly, we are far from understanding everything we need to about the range of autistic disorders. And that's why "the possible link between vaccines and autism has been taken very seriously," says Dr. Schuchat. "But at this point, after so many studies, it's safe to say these two hypotheses have been eliminated as possible causes."

http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/11/05/par.vaccine.kids/index.html?iref=newssearch

However, the type of mercury that's in thimerosal doesn't accumulate in the body.

This isn't quite right, Norm. Thimerosal is ethylmercurythiosalicylate. The thiosalicylate group would be expected to be hydrolyzed readily to yield the ethylmercury cation - and ethylmercury ain't harmless – the Vanderbilt doctor's opinion notwithstanding. The Wikipedia article on thimerosal confirms this, BTW. I think that since MMR vaccines general no longer contain thimerosal - at least single vial doses don't - MMR-autism concerns should have abated anyway.

MMR-autism concerns should have abated anyway.

I'm certainly not an expert on the subject. The fact that the thimerosal is no longer used and the rates of autism haven't declined is a correlation that hasn't been explained by the anti-vaccination crowd. They just move on, dishonestly in my opinion, trying to make the facts fit their latest theory.

What was the rate of Autism from 1999 to 2000 or when ever they started eliminating the thimerosal?

I don't have the figures but you may be able to find something by googling some of the studies in this article.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1808956.stm

If you find anything one way or the other post the links. It is certainly possible that better diagnosis is responsible for the continuing high rates, but I'd be surprised if those studying the subject didn't allow for that possibility.

This is also a good site on the topic http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/

Ok the video makes him look even more like crank and he does suggest not taking them.

But some of the facts in his article give me pause.

Russia banned thimerosal from children's vaccines twenty years ago, and Denmark, Austria, Japan, Great Britain and all the Scandinavian countries have since followed suit.

Why did they do that? and why have American producers worked to phase it out as well. If there is no evidence of any ill effects then why?

Do you have anything that shows how any of the studies were structured?

Ok, I don't get that one. How does a study of 25 Autistic children determine if there is cause and effect between Vaccine and Autism.

They seem to be testing for a mechanism here and see no evidence that bowel bacteria is a link.

Admittedly there needs to be a biological transmitter for a correlation to be evidence of a cause. but with an autism rate of something like 2 in 1,000 don't we need a study of tens of thousands and see how the rate differs amongst those with and without thiomersal in their vaccines. Also wouldn't we want to see a study that shows that a correlation in diagnosis and increased exposure isn't caused by exposure causing increased symptoms and therefore increased diagnosis?

This is in addition to a host of other studies. If you want to do some additional research here is a link with links to other significant studies.

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/09/yet_another_really_bad_day_for_antivacci_1.php

The question is does RK Jr. have the temperament and training to fill a position that it seems to me requires a sound grounding in science, and the scientific method. The fact that he continues to this day not only to doubt the science but to promote the hysteria that is anti-vaccination crowd disqualifies him from consideration.

I value the work he's done on behalf of the environment, but not only is he not qualified in addition he's an embarrassment and will as dende put it.

Heaven help us. I'm not impressed with the guy. His poor record on science is a real disappointment for people who have been highlighting Bush's awful record. Yet another arrow in the quiver of those who argue that environmentalism= pseudo science.

I am not liking the math in these abstracts.

One studies a sample of 1047 students over an age range of 3 years. So unless Wiki is wrong, there couldn't be more then 3 autistic children in the study.

Another study analyzes 27,749 children born from 1987 to 1998 attending 55 different schools. First of all, aren't some autistic students not entered into the school suystem? Secondly the study follows PDDs rather then autistic disorders. there are only 187 children with PPD's in the study and if I use the same wiki calc and assume 100% of autistic kids get entered in the school system, somewhere between 30 and 60 of the 187 kids in the pdd category have autism. That's about 5 kids in each class between 87 and 98.

But the study doesn't address the change in autism before and after the change in vaccine contents, it only addresses PPD's which I assume includes a range disorders including down syndrome. So if the rate of down increased in the 90's, say because fertility drugs were increasing the age of mothers, then the study would completely obscure a reduction in autism. It also studies populations that have 1 and 2 thimerosal vaccines when what Kennedy proposed in his interview was a correlation occurring in years when as many as 24 injections was common.

The study you list previously only studies 25 and only looks for links to the MMR vaccine and not thimerosal at all.

Norm, do you have any one of these studies that you think really deputes the correlation by studying similar populations that receive different version of the vaccines?

I don't have a vested interest in this appointment and I don't really know RFK, Jr's effectiveness but I have two friends that have been in this field in D.C. for a very long time (not fans of Clinton until the end - now freaking out over last minute garbage Bush is pulling which I'm hoping Obama can reverse the same way Bush reversed Clinton's actions FOR the environment) so I'll ask them since you've now made me curious.

I just want to say, to act like he is the equivalent of Brownie who had no relevant background to his work at FEMA doesn't seem helpful since that's obviously not true.

Okay, the Brownie comment is over the top, he wouldn't be as incompetent as Brownie. But I want someone who will follow wherever the science leads not where is heart takes him. I want a person who when the evidence goes against him changes his view and doesn't concoct conspiracy theories and distort the facts to continue with a discredited view.

That seems reasonable :)

Perhaps this RFK Jr. stuff is an unauthorized trail ballon being sent out by Hillary/ Ted Kennedy people who want RFK Jr. in there. A lot of cabinet speculation at this point is just that--mainly guessing, with no evidence coming from the president elect. So there's no reason to be particularly mad at Obama over this, and there are high quality, strong environmentalist candidates being mentioned (who knows if they're being considered) as well, like Mary Nichols who is California Air Resources Board chair, or Lisa Renstrom who was president of the Sierra Club.

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