By Jake Crosby
Recently emerging emails from 2007 show that Canary Party Chairman Mark Blaxill has cited the fraudulent Danish research continuously used by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to argue for thimerosal‘s safety, even after autism parent and scientist Dr. Brian Hooker explained to him exactly how it is fraudulent: Thorsen and his colleagues buried data showing autism prevalence and incidence were declining after thimerosal’s removal from Danish childhood vaccines. Not only that, but Blaxill even compared Thorsen’s “research” to more recent and similarly flawed data from California to further doubt the significance of thimerosal’s role in causing the autism epidemic. He wrote:
There’s no one more committed to the mercury argument than me. But there’s a hard bit of evidence here regarding the thimerosal argument. The rates in California never went down and as far as I can tell are still going straight up with no deceleration at all. And you’ve seen the Denmark numbers. As I’ve said many times, this can mean only one of three things: the theory is wrong, the numbers are wrong, or the issue is more complex than everyone thought. I vote for number three, but am open to any answer that gets closer to figuring out what happened to [his daughter]. Because something did.
Personally, I have chosen not to enter into the criminal side of this and to try to engage people on the facts and the data rather than the question of justice. That’s not to say I don’t believe there may be criminal behavior in here somewhere and that justice needs to be served; it must be. It’s just that I would degrade my own particular contribution by engaging in that way.”
Years after Mark Blaxill chose “not to enter the criminal side of this,” the principal investigator of such fraudulent research from Denmark – Poul Thorsen – was indicted on fraud charges and was added to the list of DHHS Office of the Inspector General’s list of most-wanted fugitives. In the weeks leading up to the November 2012 congressional hearing, Blaxill persistently tried to play down the significance of Thorsen’s role in the fraudulent research on group email threads for SafeMinds – the group that co-opted the hearing when Blaxill was still chairing the organization’s government affairs committee. He even went so far as to assert that Thorsen probably lied about being principal investigator in email to Dr. Brian Hooker. When confronted with the archived webpages of the website for Thorsen’s now-defunct NANEA website listing him as “Principle Investigator,” Blaxill admitted that he too had access to those very same webpages despite arguing against what they said.
During his 2007 email exchanges with Dr. Hooker, Blaxill was planning to participate in an environmental autism panel held by the IOM where he similarly refused to bring up vaccines: (as with his 2012 speech before Congress nearly six years later). Just three years prior, IOM put out a report rejecting vaccines’ causal role in autism after the institute secretly decided it would never come down that autism is a true side-effect of vaccination prior to reviewing any science. Concerned about Blaxill’s reliance on data that is ecological – inherently incapable of even showing whether children who received more thimerosal had higher rates of autism – Dr. Hooker commented in email to fellow autism advocates (boldface mine):
“Mark Blaxill is NOT a scientist and should not think that he can represent the science around the issue. I’m frankly sick of him playing “cowboy” scientist acting as if anyone can do what a lot of us trained so long and hard to do. If I see another stupid ecological study or an argument about an ecological study, I’m gonna hurl… From my email conversations with Mark, it is apparent he is going to conceed [sic] the whole thimerosal argument because the rates in California didn’t go down. ‘Scuse me but he’s dangerous.
“The continued increases in autism rates provide strong evidence against the idea that early thimerosal exposure, and only thimerosal exposure, is causing the increased population rates of autism.”
He would also repeat this same statement – in the 2010 book “The Age of Autism” that he coauthored with Dan Olmsted – in a way that eerily echoed the wording of a CDC press release urging patients to receive the thimerosal-laced swine flu shot. I alerted Blaxill and Olmsted to this problem months before their book release, warning them that the California statistics were likely no better than the fraudulent Danish autism statistics, but they included it anyway. This is in spite of the continued exposure of children in California to mercury from flu shots and the fact that autism prevalence was restricted to very young children – most likely driven by downward shifts in age of diagnosis. I had written an article for Age of Autism based on these observations months before. Little did I know at that time that Blaxill had himself compared the California rates to the Danish data in email to Dr. Hooker three years prior – not to point out how the California data is uninformative as I had done, but rather to validate it on the basis of Thorsen’s fraudulent research.
Despite Blaxill’s claim that autism in California was “…still going straight up with no deceleration at all,” changes in the overall autism caseload not limited to a specific age group were decreasing. Then in 2012, Mark Blaxill refused to bring up the first CDC-reported, statewide decline in autism prevalence in children born in 2000 – a possible connection to thimerosal’s removal – when he addressed a press conference held by Canary Party on the newly released statistics. In practice, Mark Blaxill has apparently been exercising the position of IOM – ignoring evidence favorable to thimerosal’s role in causing autism and publicizing evidence which purports to go against it, while never coming to the firm conclusion that autism is a true side-effect of thimerosal. This is in spite of the fact that CDC’s own epidemiologist concluded in email to colleagues that perinatal thimerosal exposure caused autism as written in “Evidence of Harm,” by David Kirby. Yet Blaxill had reportedly convinced Kirby to insist such proof does not exist, only “evidence,” hence the book title.
After Danish research was just recently published showing autism prevalence declining in years corresponding to thimerosal’s removal from vaccines, Age of Autism ran the following action alert: “2003 Danish Study on Mercury Fabricated? New Study Completely Different Results.” What the post did not say was that documents obtained by Dr. Brian Hooker through FOIA have already answered that question affirmatively. Moreover, Age of Autism only drew attention to Mark Blaxill’s public criticism of Thorsen’s work, but not Blaxill’s clandestine endorsement of it while ignoring Dr. Hooker’s email telling him exactly how it was fraudulent. AoA’s action alert also made no mention of the fact that Mark Blaxill’s Canary Party falsely promised Dr. Hooker that it would ask Congress to make the next hearing specifically about research fraud like that committed by Thorsen, but instead asked Congress to make the hearing be about something else.
No matter how much the evidence for the government’s thimerosal cover-up mounts, Mark Blaxill works to prevent that evidence from being exposed in the congressional hearings as much as possible in favor of his rhetorical and eternal question about the autism epidemic: “What’s going on?”
Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated and is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.