There are certainly multiple political factors at play here, but lost in the shuffle is the fact that the "science" at the center of the controversy is less-than-credible.
Dr. Mark and David Geier are leading proponents of the repeatedly discredited theory that the vaccine preservative thimerosal causes autism. Now the duo, which also markets an "autism treatment" regimen that costs upward of $60,000 per year, is proposing a study that would use private health records in Florida.
Local skeptics, like those at the James Randi Educational Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, are generally appalled at the notion that the state would turn over records to two researchers who have been so derided by mainstream medical science.
Yesterday, the Juice spoke with Brandon K. Thorp, one of the article's authors and an employee at the JREF, about the science at issue here.
Thorp explained that, basically, the Geiers insist that allegedly autism-causing heavy metals can be eliminated from the body with the help of Lupron combined with rigorous chelation therapy. Lupron is a drug used to treat prostate cancer in adults and to occasionally chemically castrate sex offenders. Its only indicated use for children is in treating the early onset of puberty.
The Geiers have called Lupron a "miracle drug." Most experts call their theories "junk science."
"These people are giving autistic children doses big enough to render them sterile," Thorp says. Dr. David Gorski, founding fellow of the Institute in Medicine, agrees. Gorski says: "The concept that [the Geiers] embraced isn't even bad science. It's just not science."
So what would make people think something like this is a good idea?
Well, it turns out there has been one study that covers the notion that testosterone bonds with mercury in the way the Geiers suggest. That study -- performed in 1968 -- found that scientists could create crystallization "by dissolving equimolar amounts of testosterone and mercuric chloride in minimal hot benzene."
According to one expert, "This is not a condition even remotely similar to anything found in living tissue -- of any vertebrate species. In other words, it isn't likely to happen in autistic children unless you dissolve them in hot benzene."
As Thorp says, "If your brain cavity is heated to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and full of benzene, really, autism is the least of your problems."