Edited by Rach
The false-hope peddler Larry Cook has come to my attention once again. It's not because he has produced anything particularly extraordinary over the past two years but rather because he had the audacity to file a false DMCA against one of my videos critical of his. He has since removed the DMCA (without giving me an apology) presumably after realising that gloating about it on Facebook whilst admitting that my video was a review of his left him open to legal action. Now a bigger man would have walked away from this and say this was a victory for the protection of free speech, but as I am only 5'8" I decided to go after him like the angry little man I am!
When it came to choosing which of Larry's videos I was going to rip into I was spoilt for choice but as luck would have it the first one I clicked on was a particularly fine gem of bad science. The video was called 'Autism, Vaccines, Mercury and the Culpability of the American Academy of Paediatrics' and starred the paediatrician and Orson Wells impersonator Dr. Kenneth P. Stoller MD.
The video consists of your typical anti-vaccination bollox which I have previously talked about in great detail and therefore am not going to bore you by repeating myself here. But what makes this video so unique is the bad chemistry. This video is also a shiny example of why you should not take as read something someone said because they have a fancy title or letters at the end of their name.
The video begins with an advertisement for Larry's book and then kicks off with a good start when Stoller says that autistic children "were poisoned beyond what their bodies could process at a critical point of their development". He goes on to say that pesticides or volatile organic compounds are to blame but for most it was a "soup of toxins and immune system disrupter found in vaccinations including the most deadly non-radioactive element on earth...mercury". Like all who peddle this crap Stoller never gives any sources for me to check and is being so vague that I can't track them down if they even exist at all.
I therefore have decided to ignore the pesticides and volatile organic compound bit because he could be talking about anything and instead concentrate on mercury. First I have to be very clear that in this video he is talking about a compound that contains mercury (thimerosal) and not elemental mercury. Yet for some unknown reason he seems to be under the impression that compounds have the same properties as their constituent elements. Anyone with a basic understanding of chemistry knows this not to be true. The prime example is Sodium Chloride (NaCl, table salt) which is neither reactive like sodium nor toxic like chlorine. Another example is heroin and caffeine which are made from the exact same elements and yet have VASTLY different properties. Heck thimerosal also contains hydrogen so why is Stoller not complaining that it’s also explosive?
But does he have a point about mercury toxicity? Is mercury the most toxic non-radioactive element? Like everything in science the answer is yes and no…but mostly no.
Elemental mercury is not as toxic as everyone thinks it is, at least it’s not technically, in real life it is EXTREMELY toxic but only when administered in a certain way. For example only 0.01% of elemental mercury is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract and dermal absorption of elemental mercury is limited. The most efficient way of mercury poisoning is through the inhalation of mercury vapour which is readily given off at room temperature. Mercury vapour is then oxidised to Hg2+ in the body which can then bind to the thiol groups of proteins inhibiting their biological function. But this Hg2+ here exists as an inorganic salt and has different properties to elemental mercury. Now I know this might sound like nit-picking but I think it’s a fair point to make considering Stoller believes that all mercury compounds will have the same properties.
What’s really surprisingly is that intravenous injection of elemental mercury is far less harmful than inhalation of mercury vapour. The metal can even be removed from the body by chelation therapy and physical removal of the mercury along with the surrounding tissue. There are examples of people unsuccessfully trying to commit suicide by injection themselves with mercury. There is also an example from India in which two men injected themselves because they believed mercury to be an aphrodisiac.
Unfortunately one of them died after discharging himself from the hospital but the other made a full recovery and went on to live a full life showing no clinical signs of mercury poisoning in the follow-up. These people all injected relatively large amounts of mercury yet Stoller (who believes that thirmasol has the same properties as elemental mercury) says that vaccines that contain less than 1µg of mercury (although he probably means 1µg of thimerosal and therefore 0.5µg of actual mercury) will do significant damage.
Stoller later goes on to say that “Mercury which is the second most toxic natural substance known to man and 500 times more toxic than lead” which is the most ridiculous thing I have heard. Off the top of my head I can think of Botulinum toxin (which is natural and has a median lethal dose of 1.3-2.1 ng/Kg) and the inland taipan (whose venom has a median lethal dose of 2 μg/kg and proof that everything in Australia is trying to kill you).
Now at the end I can imagine some of you reading this are unhappy about what I have written, probably thinking none of it applies in the real world. Knowing that elemental mercury is not that toxic is not really going to help you when it has been oxidised in your body. But I think my take-away message from this is valid. If you think thimerosal should no longer be in vaccinations (even though it is no longer in vaccinations in the UK) because of its toxicity talk about its toxicity and not the toxicity of one of its constituent elements.
Let’s face it we all know why they are doing this. It’s because the public is aware of toxic mercury compound and these people are feeding of that fear to promote their bad science and their books.