I was in my car yesterday listening to C-SPAN … when to my stunned surprise I heard Congressman Dan Burton launch into a diatribe on how mercury in vaccines causes autism. No, this was not a replay of a recording from a decade ago. The hearing was held just a few days ago by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Congressman Burton used this hearing to rehash a series of some of the most thoroughly discredited anti-vaccine positions of the past decade. Burton is a firm believer in the myth that vaccines cause autism, and he arrogantly holds the position that he knows the truth better than the thousands of scientists who have spent much of the past decade doing real science that proves him wrong.
The point of the hearing was supposed to be this:
Today, we will get a clearer picture on what is being done, what questions still need to be answered and what needs exist for those children, adults and families who live with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
But Burton said this:
“I’m convinced that the mercury in vaccinations is a contributing factor to neurological diseases such as autism.”
“It wasn’t so bad when a child gets one or two or three vaccines… Mercury accumulates in the brain until it has to be chelated.”
Burton believes that he knows better than scientists – that vaccines cause autism. The good news is that Burton is leaving Congress. The bad news is this appeared to be a misinformation festival that derailed a meaningful discussion. In an attempt to make progress, how is it helpful to focus on and cling to completely debunked claims! You can see the video here. At about 22 minutes, Kucinich begins and sounds like a complete boob regarding thimerosal, a preservative formerly used in children’s vaccines. It’s just “his theory”, but he spouts ideas about mercury poisoning. Mercury has not been implicated in the cause of autism. These committee members aren’t getting their information from scientists but from special interests advocating nonsense. It is very discouraging. There may be more fallout from this.
For actual scientific information about the non-link between mercury, vaccines and autism, see the following:
Addition: Orac has a blog post on this hearing: The mummer’s farce that was the Congressional autism hearing last week. It ends on a good note. Since Burton is gone, maybe bluster about this topic (antivaxxination) will finally be silenced.