To me, the “faithful” are those who accept, without reservation, that there is no link between vaccines and autism in children. They examine the studies demonstrating there is no link, and assume all the bases have been covered.

But is that really the case? Has there been a thorough vetting of all assumptions behind these studies? I’m not so sure. I can think of some assumptions behind these studies which do not appear to have been fully vetted and which, upon reflection, might make the faithful somewhat less so.

One of the faithful is a computer scientist, Steven Salzberg. Salzberg writes in a Forbes blog about how the vaccine court recently rejected in Washington State three claims that the mercury-containing compound, thimerosal, was associated with autism, and concludes that “The thimerosal-autism hypothesis is dead.”

In his posting, Mr. Salzberg quotes one of the court’s special masters as having referred to

the exquisitely small amounts of mercury in TCVs [thimerosal-containing vaccines]

and therein lies one important assumption: is there certainty that manufacturing conditions always led to “exquisitely small” amounts of mercury in all the vials? What sorts of QA/QC (Quality Assurance/Quality Control) information is available on that? What about other aspects of the manufacturing process which might have led to vaccines having unknown constituents, which may have been problematic?

Now, it can be argued that this approach was not one taken by the plaintiffs in these three cases…that they pursued different avenues with the implicit assumption that all the manufacturing was, as it were, on the money. So, the rulings against them may not have been wrong on their face.

Nevertheless, in the interest of dispelling all doubts and seeking the full truth, there should I think be sympathy for the idea of pursuing this line of reasoning, using various investigative methods. Perhaps I’m missing something and that has been done properly already. But, if not, it might form one basis for an appeal of these decisions.

As a side comment, note that Mr. Salzberg is very careful in discounting any link between thimerosal and autism, NOT between vaccines and autism. The evidence may be anecdotal to date, but it’s difficult not to believe there is something to the hypothesis that vaccines have caused these problems, given what many parents have observed right after their children were vaccinated.