Archive for June 17th, 2009

No link between the Thimerosal used in vaccines and autism

| June 17, 2009 | 5 Replies
No link between the Thimerosal used in vaccines and autism

In 2005, when I read Robert F. Kennedy’s Rolling Stone article about the supposed link between autism and Thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative) found in childhood vaccines, I was deeply concerned. I send copies of that persuasive and detailed article to several friends. New evidence strongly there is no link, however. Even more than the epidemiological studies, consider this observations, as reported by Discover Magazine:

[A]lthough thimerosal is no longer present in any recommended childhood vaccines save the inactivated influenza vaccine—and hasn’t been, beyond trace amounts, since 2001—no one is hailing the end of autism. “If you thought thimerosal was related to autism, then the incidence of autism should have gone down,” Harvard’s McCormick explains. “And it hasn’t.”

Given that we haven’t been injecting our children full of Thimerosal since 2001, we should be seeing a significant decrease in autism (if the anti-Thimerosal crowed were right). We aren‘t seeing any decrease in rates of autism, however. This lack of correlation seems compelling to me. As indicated in the Discover article, there are many reasons for getting your young children vaccinated.

The CDC estimates that thanks to vaccines, we have reduced morbidity by 99 percent or more for smallpox, diphtheria, measles, polio, and rubella. Averaged over the course of the 20th century, these five diseases killed nearly 650,000 people annually. They now kill fewer than 100.

There is now one less big reason for refusing to do get your children vaccinated: There is no link between the Thimerosal used in childhood vaccinations and autism. As reported by the Discover article, however, the urban legend prevails that Thimerosal causes autism.

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Scientology 101

| June 17, 2009 | 13 Replies
Scientology 101

I attended an Anonymous rally last Saturday. You know, Anonymous—the international internet-linked underground that protests Scientology. Anonymous sprang up on imageboards—notably Futaba and the infamous 4chan—in 2006. Project Chanology, the organized, ongoing protest against the Church of Scientology, began in 2008 with a press release and a famous YouTube video, and has since taken on a life of its own.

Scientology, as DI readers probably already know, is a scam masquerading as a sort of religion/self-actualization movement hybrid. The Church of Scientology (CoS) was dreamed up by a guy named L. Ron Hubbard, who used to write a lot of pulp fiction. In 1950, Hubbard published a book called Dianetics, in which he claimed that neuroses and other problems are caused by engrams. Engrams are like little negative scripts that get encoded into the unconscious mind (Hubbard called it the “reactive mind”). These engrams take root, supposedly, because when we’re unconscious, the reactive mind hears whatever’s being said around us, and takes it literally. Even fetuses get engrams–from the moment of conception, they can hear everything that’s being said in their mother’s vicinity, and their little reactive minds are busy recording engrams which, without Dianetic treatment, will cause all manner of psychological trouble throughout their lives.

I’m not making this up. L. Ron Hubbard made this up.

And, sadly, he got some people to believe it. Enough people, in fact, that he was able to morph Dianetics from a mere self-help fad into a new “religion”–the Church of Scientology.

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The sounds of freedom at night in Iran

| June 17, 2009 | 3 Replies
The sounds of freedom at night in Iran

Andrew Sullivan has had ongoing detailed coverage of the post-election events in Iran, including this short post and video of the sounds of freedom being called out from the rooftops at night.

Interesting, how American neoconservatives (and Israel conservatives) could only talk of bombing Iran, year after year, demonizing the entire country based upon the belligerence of high-placed officials. Iran now also has a face of youth, hope and potential change, though the situation is incredibly dangerous at the moment. I would add that Barack Obama has shown masterful restraint and read-between-the-lines encouragement to the forces of freedom and dissent in Iran:

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PBS bans new religious TV shows

| June 17, 2009 | 1 Reply
PBS bans new religious TV shows

As reported by the Washington Post:

The Public Broadcasting Service agreed yesterday to ban its member stations from airing new religious TV programs, but permitted the handful of stations that already carry “sectarian” shows to continue doing so. . . Until now, PBS stations have been required to present programming that is noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian. But the definition of “nonsectarian” programming was always loosely interpreted, and the rule had never been strictly enforced.

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