McCain: “strong evidence” mercury causes autism

More grants out the door today, but check out ABC correspondent Jake Tapper’s post on John McCain’s views on thimerosal and autism:

At a town hall meeting Friday in Texas, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., declared that “there’s strong evidence” that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that was once in many childhood vaccines, is responsible for the increased diagnoses of autism in the U.S. — a position in stark contrast with the view of the medical establishment.

McCain was responding to a question from the mother of a boy with autism, who asked about a recent story that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had issued a judgment in favor of an unnamed child whose family claimed regressive encephalopathy and symptoms of autism were caused by thimerosal.


McCain said, per ABC News’ Bret Hovell, that “It’s indisputable that (autism) is on the rise amongst children, the question is what’s causing it. And we go back and forth and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines.”

Just what we need in the White House; another 4+ years of an anti-science president.

40 Replies to “McCain: “strong evidence” mercury causes autism”

  1. What? Really? McCain’s into that crap too? (Well, I suppose anyone who could claim the war is going well has to be a denialist at heard). I thought he was a bit better than Huckabee on science – looks like I was wrong.

  2. Well, in fairness to McCan he may just not have had time to be briefed on the issue. It isn’t clear that he knew much about it. Now, if he gets asked about this issue again and insists he was correct then we should be worried.

  3. Considering some of his past waffling, what’s really striking here is just how definitively McCain lays down his position on this issue. This isn’t just a case of being uninformed–this is a case of being misinformed. He’s getting some bad scientific advising, and he’d better correct that ASAP if he wants to have any credibility with scientists.

  4. I would prefer a President (like McCain) that even if mis-informed, is willing to discuss a topic, take a positive position, recognize that it is a controversal topic, and support funding where more research is warranted.

  5. I would prefer a President (like McCain) that even if mis-informed, is willing to discuss a topic, take a positive position, recognize that it is a controversal topic, and support funding where more research is warranted.

    Posted by: Geospiad |

    Oh come on. If he doesn’t know Jack about an issue, he shouldn’t be talking about “strong evidence”. Yeah, really strong. Like those WMDs.
    McCain is a base panderer. He is pathetic.

  6. I know i am slightly removed from this discussion not living in the US but these wild statements made by ill informed people make me so angry! Autism is a tragic disorder granted, but what good is McCains statement doing the publics perception of science and medicine? Vaccination levels are even too low at present-what repercussions will this statement have?? I am very much in favour of using public education as a method of risk management but McCains statement is likely to cause panic among the people which does not bode well for us researchers and scientists. I wonder which pharmaceutical company will speak out first?

  7. Readers of this blog may be interested in a discussion going on on a thread on a political blog on this topic. In particular, notice the comments of one gentleman calling himself MaxGowan.

    Re Gerard Harbison

    It is always refreshing to see a post from Prof. Harbison in which he excuses stupidities from his candidate by pointing to stupidities from the opposing candidates. What is most interesting about the comments of all three candidates is their ignorance of the fact that thimerisol was removed from all except some flu vaccines by 2002. This is what happens when candidates, none of whom has any background in science or medicine, go into a discussion without a thorough briefing on the subject matter. This is one of the problems I see with the proposed science debate as it is not clear that the candidates, particularly the Democratic candidates who quite possibly will still be bashing each other and campaigning furiously, will have sufficient time to be throughly briefed.

    By the way, how does Prof. Harbison excuse his candidates’ getting into bed with the Reverend Hagee? Inquiring minds want to know. Hint, expect the good professor to bring up Jeremiah Wright.

  8. I haven’t excused stupidities from McCain. I’ve said he’s wrong. However, I note a slew of posts on scienceblogs about McCain, and no note of the fact that Clinton said “We don’t know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism – but we should find out.”, while Obama has repeatedly juxtaposed the issue of the rise in incidence in autism with policy pronouncements about how he’s going to confront heavy metal poisoning.

    The ad hominem from SLC is, of course, typical. I have no idea who Rev. Hagee is. I do know who Tony Rezko is, though.

  9. Re Gerard Harbison

    1. Mr. Harbison doesn’t know who Rev. Hagee is? Let me elucidate him on this subject by pointing to a thread on Mr. Ed Braytons’ blog (actually, Mr. Brayton has posted several comments about the good Rev. Hagee). Senator McCain is proud to have the support of such a devout Christian preacher.

    2. Prof. Harbison brings up Tony Rezko. Very good. I’m sure that he is well familiar with Vicki Iseman and Lowell Paxton. But of course, he did not have sex with that woman.

  10. Re Gerard Harbison

    My response to Prof. Harbisons’ last comment is stuck in moderation where it will probably disappear never to be seen again. However, to return to the subject of this thread, there is a post on the Huffington Post by Mr. David Kirby who I am sure not even Prof. Harbison considers a reliable source of information. In this post, Mr. Kirby praises Senator McCains courage for agreeing with him about the (non-existent) link between autism and thimerisol.

  11. I am waiting for him to say that he mixed up the real science with the Eli Stone episode and that he’ll push for more accountability from TV shows.

  12. Oh, so McCain has been endorsed by some wacko evangelical. Has he included said wackjob in his campaign, as Obama did with Donnie McClurkin, a ‘cure homosexuals’ preacher?

    Gerard Harbison,

    In fact Hagee is one of several wacko’s that have had the honour of introducing McCain onstage. McCain of course insisted that he was the one being honoured.

  13. Vaccines are overrated. I don’t know if they kill you, cause autism, or make you sick, but the preventive effects thereof are greatly exaggerated.

    I’m surprised that all these clear thinking, evidence-based scientists have grown such an emotional attachment to vaccines. Not unlike hordes of little girls, who swear Band-Aids instantaneously make their fingers better.

  14. Re Mountain Man

    Mr. Mountain Man, like his sockpuppet cooler makes some of the dumbest claims imaginable. Smallpox virtually eliminated, polio virtually eliminated, diphtheria virtually eliminated, etc. Does Mr. Mountain Man think these events happened due to magic?

  15. Re Gerard Harbison

    I don’t know what Prof. Harbisons’ view of elementary particle research is but if he’s looking for ammunition to use against Senator Obama, there are apparently some physicists at the Fermilab who are less then thrilled with the senator and his apparent lack of support for the laboratory.

  16. Once again, it won’t be the best candidate that I vote for but for the lesser of two evils. From what I’ve read, Obama will defund NASAs planned return to the moon and building a base there. I really don’t want another anti-science creationist in the white house.

  17. Re weing

    Having a negative view of manned space flight is hardly indicative of being anti-science. Does Mr. weing think that Prof. Bob Park, a professor of physics at the Un. of Maryland, who is a vigorous critic of manned space flight, is anti-science? Furthermore, what is the basis of the claim that Senator Obama is a creationist? I have seen no evidence that Senator Obama has taken such a position. Just for the record, I am not an Obama supporter and did not vote for him in the recent Virginia primary.

  18. Re weing

    1. Clarification of who is the creationist noted.

    2. Attached is a link to a thread on Sean Carrolls’ blog (Sean Carroll, the astrophysicist, and Cal Tech professor) with a comment on Senator Obama. The tone of the thread and the comments seems to be that Prof. Carroll regards Senator Obama in a somewhat favorable light while the folks at the Fermilab are rather less favorable as they feel that he was insufficiently supportive of their needs during the Senate debate over the budget. However, as I stated previously, a negative view of manned space flight does not necessarily indicate a negative view of scientific research. As anyone reading Prof. Parks’ “Whats New” web pages would know Prof. Parks is very much pro scientific research, being an active researcher himself.

  19. I do not thinking he’s anti-science. I just disagree with his intention to change NASA’s plans. I believe this’ll allow the Russians, Chinese, and even the Japanese to get ahead of us. My reason is selfish, I just don’t want those other countries to have an oligopoly on the helium 3 on the moon.

  20. They just had a “report” on CNN about this topic. They had a clip showing the parents and child, but I didn’t catch the surname.
    It was brief, it was generalized, it was typical bubble gum news programming.

  21. He’s previously voiced support for ID, so I guess this isn’t too shocking, but still…


    Just what we need in the White House; another 4+ years of an anti-science president.

    I see, Tara, that your argument skills are as sharp as ever.

    While Intelligent Design is an indefensible position (and otherwise reprehensible), pointing out that McCain once voiced support for ID isn’t particularly relevant to his support of the thimerasol-autism debate. In fact, the only thing that it adds to the discussion is a clear denotation of your own shortcomings as a “scientist”. Of course, you’ve proven time and time again that you prefer character attacks to sound arguments, which makes it all the more hilarious to witness how you maligned you feel, based on your incessant whining, when your pet “scientific” projects go unfunded. Perhaps if you were a more rigid thinker who understood the proper rules for formulating coherent arguments, you wouldn’t have such funding troubles. It’s a skill you might give serious attention, particularly as our country moves closer and closer to insolvency and funding becomes even more competitive.

    Of course, you are not alone in demonstrating such poor critical thinking skills. Rearding over this blog, it is truly overwhelming to realize how many dim-witted “scientists” and various other wannabes exist within academia.

    Take “SLC”, for example. His blind faith in the psuedo-science that rules the day knows no bounds, but he should take heed of the new day that is dawning for all public institutions, including Science. Those, like SLC, who are deeply mired in “The Consensus Trance” will not survive the radical changes that are on the way. Accountability will return to Science and all social institutions, because our survival will depend on the getting honest results.

    SLC isn’t a total windbag, though:

    Having a negative view of manned space flight is hardly indicative of being anti-science.

    One could say the same for having a negative view of thimerasol-based vaccines, don’t you think?

    Of course, for those who are not caught up in “The Consensus Trance”, the important differences between a President who is anti-Science because of his religion and a President who is critical of poor scientific standards are easily identifiable. Sadly, even the simplest nuances will continue to escape generic minds, like Tara and SLC, and such high-level misunderstandings will only hasten the radical changes that our society must endure.

    Speaking of…how about all those foreclosures, Adele? I guess I was right, after all…


  22. Re Kevin

    It’s always amusing to see whackjobs like Mr. Kevin, who has given no indication of ever having published a paper on any scientific subject in a peer reviewed journal, criticize real scientists like Dr. Smith, Dr. Orac and Dr. Novella who have the temerity to have an unKevin like thought in their heads. Along with the other nutcases who pollute this blog with their crap, like cooler and mountain man, he posts all manner of garbage which he lifts from denier web sites which have no relevance to anything. To the Kevins of the world, thimerasol causes autism, HIV doesn’t cause aids, global warming isn’t happening, etc. The fact that none of these beliefs have any basis in reality troubles him not at all.

    The sad part of all of this is that, although Mr. Kevin is an obvious moron, there are legitimate scientists who have such beliefs. For instance, Peter Duesberg, Lynn Margulis, Linus Pauling, J. Allen Hynek, William Shockley, Brian Josephson, Michael Behe, Michael Denton, Fred Singer to name a few. To steal a line from Richard Dawkins, people who believe in unsupported rubbish are either ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked (but I don’t want to consider that). Mr. Kevin is all of the above.

  23. Kevin,

    Just be on the lookout for those Chemtrails and stay insided when you see them. Also I would recommend protecting yourself against the federal reserve elite and their diabolical pesticide de-population experiment gone awry. But most of all “boost your immune system” to prepare for the evil Morgellon’s plague that will be upon us in the near future. Perhaps you should contact Randy Yaskal and you can lead the unpriviledged to the promised land.

    I unfortunately will be left behind and the black helicopters will get me because I have been completely overtaken by the The Consensus Trance.

  24. Just be on the lookout for those Chemtrails and stay insided when you see them. Also I would recommend protecting yourself against the federal reserve elite and their diabolical pesticide de-population experiment gone awry…

    I suppose you think that you deserve some props for creativity but sadly, your timing is all wrong. The coming economic fallout from largest asset-bubble in the history of the world, will not leave you smiling, Ozzy, but you don’t have to take this wackjob’s word alone. Just read the daily paper in Anytown, USA, and you’ll get the real-world education that you obviously need. Hell, even the MSM is beginning to tell the truth. Of course, they deserve no accolades for any fool, now, can see that the halcyon days of our “Ownership Society” are over…what, with so many are facing foreclosure, trapped in upside-down mortgages. Pitiful.

    Pseudo-intellectuals like SLC and Tara and perhaps you too, Ozzy, constantly criticize earnest laymen, such as myself, for not being appropriately published, but I must say that I’d rather be an informed citizen of meager publication prestige than an overly-educated moron who doesn’t have a fucking clue about how the real world works. In fact, being called a “publish-poor” nobody in this academic climate is quite the compliment. At least, I am free to speak the truth and to live in reality–no matter how horrid that reality may become.

    Speaking of overly-educated morons, where were all those Ivy League-educated (and no doubt thoroughly published) financial experts when this unprecedented asset-bubble was forming back in 2001? They certainly weren’t reading about the possible effects of this issue from the excellent sources that this meagerly-published laymen found quite easily. No, they were sitting merrily in the deep pockets of some hedge fund manager, unscrupulously accepting the hefty consulting fees that their masters bestowed upon them, so long as they did their part to advance the ponzi scheme. Sound familiar? HIV/AIDS is riddled with such “experts”.

    Because I am an HIV Skeptic, you, and others here, feel the need to label me a wackjob or a conspiracy theorist or even “wicked” (how pathetic, SLC); yet, I have never argued that conspiracies are involved in either HIV or the housing bubble. One does not need to resort to conspiracies to understand such matters, but a willingness to understand the realities of each situation, no matter how unpleasant, is indeed paramount. Alas, few on this blog exhibit the necessary willingness to discover the true nature of the world the we inhabit, and yet, so many of you purport to be Scientists!

    Nevertheless, as unfortunate as it is for all of us, I am right about the unhealthy levels of corruption in our society and am equally right about the coming consequences that are the direct result of such high-levels of corruption. Furthermore, every prediction that I have posted has been affirmed by recent events, and I suspect that that will remain the case, whether the topic is HIV or the financial morass that is currently unwinding. I suggest that you all join the “wackjobs” if you want to prepare for the major standard of living reduction that is coming our way. Rest assured, Ozzy, the damage is indeed done, and no matter how many politicians talk about government “bailouts” and “stimulus packages”, nothing can be done to mitigate the effects of the currently unwinding financial meltdown. The margin calls are too great. You may have heard the phrase “too big to fail” in reference to some our once-great nation’s largest financial institutions, but that phrase no longer applies and should more appropriately be rendered “too big too bail”!


  25. Attached is a link to a file demonstrating just how dangerous it would be to listen to schmucks like Mr. Kevin.

    Mr. Kevin, like such clowns as Larry Fafarman, cooler, mountain man, etc. are really pathetic individuals, railing at a cruel world which ignores their ignorant rants. The question is very simple. Should we listen to real scientists like Dr. Smith or phonies like Mr. Kevin? I’ll take Dr. Smith any day of the week.

  26. I love it, KEvin says
    pointing out that McCain once voiced support for ID isn’t particularly relevant to his support of the thimerasol-autism debate.

    And Kev’s foreclosure fixation is so relavent how??

  27. I’ve explained the connection countless times, Adele, but you’re just too fucking dense to make the necessary connections. No worries, though, so are most Americans. As long as they have their “bread and circuses”, they don’t care about the massive amount of corruption that is eroding our social infrastructure. Soon though, the circuses will be no more and the bread a little bit stale, and perhaps even hard to come by.

    Nevertheless, pumping our children full of toxic preservatives–as if they are hot pockets–is unequivocally healthy…isn’t that right, Adele? No need for INDEPENDENT inquiry into the matter. The drug companies have assured us that thimerasol is perfectly safe for developing neurological systems and the rubber-stamping FDA agrees. Of course, it is well-known that the FDA has a wonderful track record when it comes to protecting public health…et cetera, et cetera….

    Corruption is endemic in our hyper-capitalistic society, and it will be our undoing. The levels of corruption in the US today are even greater than those in the Soviet Union. The end result will be similar.

    A Making Connections tutorial, just for you, Adele.


  28. Hello Noble Scientific Experts, Practitioners………

    McCain’s comments on Thimerasol not necessarily worded with perfection indicate concern.

    That is more than we have read, in all the aforementioned 20 odd comments, except Kevin.

    Kevin; however, should wash his tongue, with Yellow Soap.

    You practitioner’s of Epidemiology are now experts in Vaccines and Vaccine Methodology, Vaccine Animal Testing, Bovine Breeding, Cowpox Location Sourcing, for vaccine manufacture and everything else Pharmaceuticals accomplish rapidly and at cheapest cost to produce vaccines.

    Do any of those Pharmaceutical firms, only use Brahma Bovine to create their Cowpox? Ask why they should only use Brahma Bovine? How many of you know the answer?

    Best you check with Dean Osborne at UC Davis, School of Veterinary Science, if your not sure of the answer or Dr Cecil Fox formerly of NIH both experts on Ebola, Hanta and Marburg…

    Now lets all shoot ourselves up with a little Mercury to see if it causes Autism, get set on your mark go…

    I doubt if any of you even know what Doctors in the PRC used to cure SARS? Its Cheap, Its Effective, Its readily available, It should even work against 1918 Influenza, It should work against Bird Viral Outbreaks. Its a plant root made into a poultice, heated, then ventilated so the vapors enter the lungs over a period of several days.

    Stop McCain bashing. Consider the fact that a concerned Presidential Candidate unlike Obama or Hillary is not side-stepping a legitimate medical issue when asked a question by ordinary American citizens.

    Learn your own work well, before worrying about a concerned citizen who care about his fellow amerians.

    The “Commander in Chief” is Commander not only of our military, but of the citizens that make up our great nation.

    The future “Commander in Chief” has a right to question the FDA and question the FDA he should.

    Lest you all forget he was a Prisoner of War receiving the best medical care at the Hanoi Hilton.

    Able Justice

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