A modern day witch trial Autism

taken from

MAY 1, 2023

he titans of the autism industry have officially banned any discussion of the prevalence, causes, and costs of autism in order to continue profiting from the mass poisoning of children

A case study in corruption in seven acts. [This article is too long for email so please click through to read it on Substack.]

I. Introduction

In the summer of 2019, Pam Long, from Colorado Health Choice Alliance, mentioned that Mark Blaxill was working on a societal cost of autism study and was looking for co-authors. Cynthia (“Cindy”) Nevison, who has written some of the best research studies on autism prevalence, was on board. Mark Blaxill is one of my personal heroes — his book with Dan Olmsted, The Age of Autism, was one of my red pills when writing my doctoral thesis — so I was immediately keen.

A few weeks later, Mark, Cindy, and I began having weekly calls to build a societal cost of autism model.

In many ways it was an ideal team. Mark has been studying autism prevalence for twenty years and has published some of the foundational studies in the field. Mark’s work is so good that a commentary he wrote in 2003 forced authors at Kaiser Permanente to acknowledge that the increase in autism prevalence is real and not explained by changes in diagnostic criteria or earlier age of diagnosis (the Kaiser researchers wrote a new article to explain that their earlier conclusions were wrong). Cindy is an absolutely brilliant computer modeler who spends her days modeling the earth’s climate. I brought to the team a comprehensive understanding of the existing literature on the societal cost of autism and the history of regulation from my doctoral research on autism.

A societal cost of autism model (or really any cost of disease model) is pretty straightforward. One just has to calculate the prevalence of the condition in the population and then estimate the costs across several categories — lost parental wages, lost personal wages (for the person with the condition), educational costs, healthcare costs, supportive services (particularly housing) costs — and then just multiply the number of people afflicted times the average cost per person to come up with a number for the whole society.

What makes modeling the cost of autism particularly difficult though is that the rate of autism in the population is steadily increasing (and has been for fifty years). One motivation to do this new study, when eight pretty good studies already existed, is that previous societal cost of autism models tended to assume constant prevalence. They picked an upper bound and a lower bound from existing prevalence estimates and assumed that it would always be thus. As a result, existing studies tended to slightly overestimate current costs (because they project the current rate in kids across the whole population) and significantly underestimate future costs (because they fail to factor in rising prevalence over time). Cindy solved this problem by building a proper algorithm that used the curve of the prevalence increase over the last several decades to estimate autism prevalence going forward.

Mark, Cindy, and I had weekly calls for two years — but the calls really knocked out about two days every week because one would have to do extensive research to prepare for the call. I estimate that between the three of us we spent 5,000 hours on the study — and this was all self-funded, no one was paying us to write this study (something almost unheard of in academic writing). If one values our time at a fair market rate (commensurate with all of us having graduate degrees) we easily donated several hundred thousands dollars worth of labor to figuring out the societal cost of autism.

The finished study was titled Autism Tsunami: the Impact of Rising Prevalence on the Societal Cost of Autism in the United States. We submitted it to the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (JADD) where both Mark and Cindy had published papers before. It was praised in peer review with one reviewer writing, “Simply excellent!” and another reviewer urging us to go even further in highlighting the implications of our findings. The article was published open access on July 18, 2021 and quickly rose into the top 1% of most-downloaded articles on the JADD website.

II. Takeaways from the study

We show $238 billion a year in current costs rising to over a trillion dollars per year in the mid 2030s and reaching $5.5 trillion per year by 2060. It was a bit surreal working on the study because it shows that the path we are on will result in the end of America as we know it in our lifetimes. The study makes five major contributions to the literature on the costs of autism:

1. We have the best-in-class modeling of autism prevalence showing that we will surpass 6% autism rates in children in 2024 and 7% autism rates in children in 2032 (36% severe and 64% “milder” cases). For boys, particularly Black and Latino boys, the numbers are much worse.

2. Many prior cost models were static or assumed linear increases in prevalence. Our model is fluid and shows how constantly rising prevalence causes ever-increasing costs and how those costs will move through society over time.

3. When one graphs constantly rising costs over 40 years it resembles a tsunami that will destroy everything in its path.

4. As the parents of the first generation of the autism epidemic begin to die (sometime around 2040) costs that are currently borne by parents are going to shift permanently onto the federal, state, and local government. At the moment no level of government is thinking about how to meet this challenge. (The proper response would be to keep toxic substances out of kids bodies through better regulation, we’ll discuss that more below.) In the chart below, the most worrisome portion is the dark blue — which represents housing costs for adults on the spectrum that are currently borne by parents that will shift onto government over time.

5. This is the first cost model to highlight the possibility and importance of autism prevention (which, as you can imagine, is an extremely big deal).

Let me just say a bit more about the prevention scenario. There is an unusual signal in the prevalence data that is very interesting — children born to wealthy white parents during the years 2000 to 2013 in Marin County, California have lower autism rates than other groups of people. Presumably these parents have access to better resources for assessment — so the prevalence rates among their children should be higher. Indeed for many years, autism rates were high and rising among wealthy white parents in Marin County. But then something positive happened and birth years 2000 through 2013 in Marin County show a decline in autism prevalence — which is something that’s never been seen before. Similar trends were observed in neighboring wealthy counties of Monterey and Santa Clara. So that group of parents appears to be doing something different than other parents. We built a model that essentially asked, ‘what if all parents in the country copied their approach (whatever it is that they are doing) — what would that do to long term prevalence and costs?’ The answer is that it would reduce long-term prevalence significantly. However, because so many children and young adults already have autism (the “1986 Generation” and beyond) astronomical costs are already baked into the system for as far as the eye can see.

III. The publication, the backlash, and the witch trial

When the article came out we received calls and emails from people across the country (including many scholars in the field) congratulating us on our work. Children’s Health Defense published an article I wrote about it. Mark and I went on the Wayne Rohde podcast (episode 38) to let people know about our findings.

There was a bit of backlash online — a couple of people on Twitter, who clearly had not read the study, said mean things about it. But that’s just Twitter. And Spectrum News — a blog funded entirely by the Simons Foundation — put out two nasty hit pieces on the article. The junior reporters assigned to the piece didn’t understand our article but they were mad nonetheless. A bit of a fuss from existing gatekeepers was to be expected because we broke new ground and the autism debate is always fraught in this country. In one of the blog posts, a reporter from Spectrum News reached out to the Editor-in-Chief of JADD, Fred Volkmar, to ask for a comment, and he just said, ‘If you have an issue, write a letter to the editor.’

And then on Friday August 13, 2021, things took a much darker turn. We got an email from Fred Volkmar informing us that “concerns had been raised about the article.” He had placed a warning label on the article that hinted ominously about possible “further editorial action.” Dr. Volkmar had solicited criticisms from three new hand-picked reviewers and we were given one week to respond to their attacks on our work. The Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) system had been notified of the change in the status of our article.

This is the point at which we should have realized that the die had been cast — the scientific debate was over and a witch trial had begun.

But we naïvely read through the criticisms by these three new reviewers — and there was nothing substantive there. None of the reviewers were experts in prevalence estimates nor societal cost of autism modeling. At least one appeared to be an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy provider — and s/he was mad that we had not praised ABA more. But nearly all of the literature on the long-term cost savings from ABA are contaminated by financial conflicts of interest (see Bottema-Beutel et al. 2020). ABA providers often write articles claiming massive cost savings from early intervention, but in spite of billions of dollars spent on ABA across the country over the last twenty years, actual autism costs have not declined.

So Mark, Cindy, and I spent the next seven days writing a fourteen page reply that showed in great detail that every criticism they raised was incorrect. We asked Dr. Volkmar to confirm receipt of our reply, which he did, and then he went silent… for the next six months.

IN THE MEANTIME, the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network published their new prevalence numbers (December 3, 2021). And they were exactly in line with the future prevalence estimates contained in our article. So we had made a bold early prediction via our article and it turned out that we were exactly correct. We breathed a sigh of relief because between our comprehensive fourteen-page takedown of the three hand-picked reviewers and the new ADDM numbers that confirmed everything in our article, we were confident that Dr. Volkmar would see things our way and remove the warning label from our article.

But that’s not the world that we live in.

Instead, on February 2, 2022, we got an email from Dr. Volkmar informing us that he had decided to retract the article. He gave five reasons — all straight from the reviewers that he had hand-picked — all of which we had refuted in great detail in our reply on August 20, 2021.

Mark, Cindy, and I decided to sue to block the retraction of the article. We were fortunate to be able to retain the absolutely brilliant attorneys at Siri Glimstad LLP for our case. But we soon learned that journal editors exist in a sort of legal gray zone like prison guards at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp where the normal rules of society somehow don’t apply. Even though most of the revenue that flows to these multibillion dollar publishers comes from taxpayers (via university library subscription fees) they are seen as private actors who historically have been able to censor as they wish. Libel and defamation law are weak in this country. We may have a valid business tort (tortious interference) but there are financial and legal obstacles to bringing those sorts of cases against publishers as well.

We’ve battled the attorneys at Springer Nature for over a year now with logic, reason, evidence, and over a hundred pages of documentation. But this was a witch trial from the beginning and the other side absolutely refused to engage in conversation or debate about the facts. They were assigned to lynch us and so that is what they are going to do. We anticipate that the article will be retracted sometime this week.

IV. What really happened

James (“Jim”) Simons is a self-made billionaire. He’s a quantitative genius who made his fortune by setting up a hedge fund called Renaissance Technologies Corp. In the early 1990s, his daughter developed autism. In the early 2000s, Jim Simons and his wife Marilyn let it be known that they were going to use their considerable fortune to figure out autism.

This is the most heartbreaking part of a story already littered with heartbreak… On June 11, 2003, the Simons Foundation hosted a day-long “Panel on Autism Research” at the Plaza Hotel in New York attended by the biggest names in the field at the time — Tom Insel (then head of the National Institute of Mental Health), David Amaral (head of the M.I.N.D. Institute at UC Davis), and Fred Volkmar (at Yale University). Later in the year there was a dinner party organized by the Simons Foundation attended by James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize (with James Crick) for discovering the double helix structure of DNA.

At these meetings, the gatekeepers in the field of autism research convinced Jim Simons that autism is genetic. So the Simons Foundation started putting all of their research funding into searching for “the gene for autism.” Many of the participants at the “Panel on Autism Research” including Fred Volkmar were soon rewarded with multimillion dollar grants. The Simons Foundation became the second largest funder of autism research in the U.S. after NIH.

But here’s the thing, by 2003, it was already clear that autism is NOT primarily a genetic condition.

  • Autism: a novel form of mercury poisoning by Bernard et al. was published by Medical Hypotheses in April 2001. It shows convincingly that thimerosal in vaccines was responsible for some cases of autism.
  • The CDC’s own research by Thomas Verstraeten showed that the birth dose of the hepatitis b vaccine significantly increases the risk of autism (and a number of additional chronic conditions). See this comprehensive analysis of Verstraeten’s work (obtained via the Freedom of Information Act) from Safeminds.
  • Research by William Thompson and others at the CDC showed that administration before age 3 of the MMR vaccine to otherwise healthy boys (with no family history of autism) significantly increased autism rates (the risk among Black boys in the study was even higher). Rather than disclose this information to the public, Dr. Thompson and others who worked on the study destroyed the data. Dr. Thompson became a whistleblower in 2014 but the facts to which he attests were already known in the early 2000s.

Tom Insel at the National Institute of Mental Health would have known all of this information BEFORE the June 11, 2003 “Panel on Autism Research” at the Plaza Hotel.

So, the top scientists in the country fleeced Jim & Marilyn Simons. They were (mostly) geneticists and they convinced Jim & Marilyn Simons to fund genetic research. I doubt it took much convincing. This couple had experienced tragedy, solving autism would make them worldwide heroes, and surely a Nobel Prize awaits whoever finds “the gene for autism” is how I imagine that thinking went.

Over the next two decades the Simons Foundation spent $200 million dollars searching for the gene for autism and they have almost nothing to show for it (they’ve identified a few genes that collectively explain less than 1% of autism cases) — BECAUSE AUTISM IS NOT PRIMARILY GENETIC.

Their largesse created an entire industry of genetic researchers whose careers now depend on the continuation of the “genes & autism” narrative.

Of course it gets worse, as it somehow always does in this fight.

In 2011, the state of California funded a multimillion dollar research study to figure out whether autism is genetic. They brought in eleven of the best geneticists in the country (interestingly, they were not the Simons Foundation early grantees) and gave them access to all birth records in the state. The study that resulted is called “Genetic heritability and shared environmental factors among twin pairs with autism” by Hallmayer et. al (2011). The researchers explained that perhaps some autism cases can be traced back to genetics (likely less than a third) but the sharp rise in autism prevalence is likely caused by other factors.

By that point we also already knew that the rise in autism is not caused by better awareness or changes in diagnostic criteria because of two other multimillion dollar studies funded by the state of California (Byrd et al., 2002 and Hertz-Picciotto & Delwiche, 2009). By 2011, ALL SIGNS pointed toward environmental factors.

So this was the perfect opportunity for the Simons Foundation to cut its loses, admit that they had been played by Tom Insel, James Watson, and others, and go in a new direction.

Instead the Simons Foundation doubled down on genetic research — funding more and more academic research centers across the country to build ever-larger genetic databases to find “the gene for autism” that does not exist. It’s the sort of hubris that one usually only sees in Greek mythology or Shakespeare’s tragedies.

In more recent years the Simons Foundation has grown even more hostile to this basic scientific reality. In 2020, Spectrum News (100% funded by the Simons Foundation) hired Ivan Oransky as Editor-in-Chief. Dr. Oransky has no background in autism — thus making him an odd choice to lead a well-funded online publication about autism. But he’s the founder of Retraction Watch. So it appears that Dr. Oransky’s role is to police the narrative — to bully out of the public square (via retraction) anyone who questions the narrative that autism is primarily a genetic condition.

That’s the trap that Mark, Cindy, and I unwittingly walked into. We did not know any of this when we started building our societal cost of autism model. But our study — with the best prevalence model ever built (that shows constantly rising prevalence) and a prevention scenario (based on real world data) was the sort of proof that would have been completely humiliating to the Simons Foundation and their obsession with genetic theories of causation. So Spectrums News went after us, and Fred Volkmar, who had received millions of dollars throughout his career from the Simons Foundation capitulated to their demands. And because academic publishing is so corrupt, once an Editor-in-Chief decides to destroy you, there is no recourse. Autism is an industry and we had unwittingly crossed the biggest “Dons” in the business.

V. COPE: the data laundering machine for corrupt publishers

In their letters to us, JADD and Springer kept claiming that they were following COPE guidelines. We had never heard of COPE. So we looked it up and COPE is a British outfit that stands for the Committee on Publication Ethics. I started reading their guidelines and they are fantastic. And it was clear that JADD and Springer were violating numerous COPE Core Practices.

So on July 14, 2022 we filed a complaint against JADD and Springer with the Facilitation and Integrity Subcommittee of COPE. The person assigned to our case, Iratxe Puebla, was courteous. She sent a series of questions to a representative from Springer, Tim Kersjes (in the Netherlands), based on our complaint.

Tim Kersjes has the crooked smile of someone with a cranial nerve injury from too many vaccines. He has a BA in philosophy and no education related to our topic. Mr. Kersjes missed deadlines to reply. When he finally did reply his answers were patronizing, surly, and non-responsive. At no point did he ever provide any evidence to support his claims. It was all terribly unprofessional, rude, and strange.

So one night I looked him up and found his Linkedin profile where he proudly announced that he had joined the Trustee Board at COPE in September — shortly after we had filed our complaint and while our complaint was still pending.

So Mr. Kersjes was now is a governance position over Ms. Puebla who was deciding our case. The cherry on the top indeed. This was obviously a fatal conflict of interest that violated COPE Core Practices. We pointed this out to Ms. Puebla who emailed us back to say that because Mr. Kersjes was not the Board member who was reviewing our case directly (as part of the Facilitation and Integrity Subcommittee) this was not a conflict of interest. This is of course absurd because, as a Board member, Mr. Kersjes has the power to fire Ms. Puebla from her job (in coordination with the other Board members, most of whom work for other publishers). Then Ms. Puebla sent us a “report” about our complaint that just reiterated Mr. Kersjes unsubstantiated claims as if they were facts and closed our case.

We have since spoken with other authors who have filed complaints with the Facilitation and Integrity Subcommittee who have had similar experiences. We now question whether COPE has ever decided an appeal in favor of an author. It seems that the entire purpose of COPE is to launder the reputations of publishers and thus head off government regulation or expensive litigation. There never was a complaint process. The whole thing was a sham.

VI. Another ADDM report confirms our findings

By this point we had battled JADD and Springer for so long that another ADDM report had come out — the 2023 results (two studies actually — autism prevalence in 8 year olds born in 2012 and autism prevalence in 4 year olds born in 2016). And ONCE AGAIN the numbers confirmed our prevalence model in Autism Tsunami.

For those who are just catching up on this story, the new autism numbers are truly horrifying — in California, autism prevalence in the 2023 ADDM reports reached 6.94% of 8-year-old boys born in 2012 and a shocking 7.2% of 4-year-old boys born in 2016.

Cindy wrote about the new prevalence numbers for CHD (here). She also discussed the reports on the Friday Roundtable of CHD.tv.

I wrote about the new prevalence numbers (here). And I was on the People’s Testament with Stephanie Locricchio talking about the new prevalence numbers as well.

We also learned that best autism prevalence researcher in the country, Walter Zahorodny, the principal investigator for the New Jersey ADDM survey, had written a letter to the editor of JADD in defense of our research:

Dear Dr. Volkmar:

In my opinion, The Autism Tsunami article was one of the most informative and creative autism studies of 2021. The authors have done a service by providing the most comprehensive & thoughtful modeling of long-term autism costs. While the authors’ estimates of present costs are lower than proposed by earlier models, their projections of future costs are higher because their approach is dynamic and correctly factors the effects of still-increasing autism rates. The costs of caring for individuals with autism that are primarily borne by parents today will shift permanently to unprepared federal, state and local sources, a phenomenon which we should start addressing, now. We don’t know the causes and risk factors for autism, so I don’t know the extent to which any possible autism prevention strategies can stem the surge of autism, but I applaud the authors for anticipating and modeling that hypothesis. I encourage you to lift the cautionary banner that has been attached to the Autism Tsunami article for over a year and to promote discussion of the study methods and findings through conventional means, including editorials and letters to the editor. Thank you for publishing the article in question and for considering my comments.

Walter Zahorodny, PhD
Director, New Jersey Autism Study
Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Once again we thought surely Springer will back off now because it would be too embarrassing for them to retract a cost of autism model that has been proven correct over and over again by the latest real world evidence. And once again JADD and Springer absolutely did not care. They had a witch trial to complete and they were determined to finish the mission — the facts be damned.

VII. What this whole ordeal tells us about the other side

We are being censored because of a word that does not even appear in the article — vaccines.

In the early 2000s, following growing evidence of an autism epidemic that was highly correlated with the increase in the number of childhood vaccines, wealthy white parents in California, particularly in Marin County (home to lots of former hippies), began opting out of the CDC childhood vaccines schedule and moving to alternative schedules or skipping vaccines altogether. And autism rates declined during the birth years 2000 to 2013 in those wealthy counties. These parents may have done many other things as well — eating foods high in folate, only eating organic, or having fewer ultrasounds. But the FDA and CDC never investigated this fascinating trend in the data (the only positive sign we’ve ever seen in the autism data) because they are scared that they might find an association between vaccines and autism.

Now what’s interesting (read: additionally horrifying) though is that, at least as far as we can tell, it’s not Pharma and the failed government regulations who called for our heads on a spike (they have liability protection so they just don’t care). The demand came from the trillion dollar autism industry that has developed in the last thirty years as a result of the mass poisoning of American children. These people (the geneticists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and ABA providers) would literally rather maim millions of children for life than admit that they were wrong about their beloved false idol. Their paychecks depend on keeping the iatrogenocide going and preventing people from asking too many questions about how it all began.

This cowardly act of censorship by JADD and Springer is a stunning admission of guilt by the mainstream gatekeepers. They simply cannot have a conversation about the facts because they know that they will lose. Censorship is all that they have left. We saw this in the fight over SB276 in 2019 — the Democrats leading that bill abandoned even trying to make a scientific case and switched exclusively to ad hominem attacks (Richard Pan literally called mothers of vaccine injured children “terrorists” on the floor of the CA Senate and received a standing ovation from his Democratic colleagues and even a few idiotic Republicans).

So just to recap how far the mainstream has retreated on the issue of vaccines and autism… the mainstream is unable to have a conversation about:

• mercury
• aluminum
• aborted fetal cells
• any other vaccine ingredient
• the total number of shots on the schedule
• the number of shots at any one visit
• the order in which shots are given
• the birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine (which has no logical rationale)
• race effects
• sex effects
• side effects of any kind
• the rise in childhood cancers, autoimmune disorders, asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy
• links to dementia
• impacts on the endocrine system
• impacts on fertility &
• the rise of sex dysphoria.

Now the mainstream gatekeepers are going even further by banning any data that might point to environmental factors and any discussion of the costs of autism.

By now it is self-evident that we could bring autism prevalence rates down by keeping toxic chemical (especially vaccines) out of kids’ bodies. But the one trillion dollar a year autism industry does not want anyone to know that.

The mainstream wants to think of itself as scientific then it regressed into a vulgar and violent tribalism and now it has all of the hallmarks of a death cult.

I’m just struck by the extreme violence of the mainstream position.

JADD’s decision to retract Autism Tsunami will have a chilling effect on scientific discourse in this country and around the world. Autism rates and costs will continue to rise. Yet discussion of costs will be inhibited by the fear of being blacklisted. Policy makers will be discouraged from anticipating the increased revenue required to provide services. Productive discussion on causes and prevention (via better regulation of toxic substances) will be stifled. Millions of adults with autism will simply be left to fend for themselves in a dystopian future. Headlines like this will become common, “A young man with autism has lived for months in a Reno hospital. He’s not sick. He has nowhere else to go.” And the mainstream gatekeepers demand that we accept these developments as normal and okay or else we will be blacklisted.

VIII. What is to be done?

300 kids develop autism every single day in the United States. That does not happen by accident. That did not happen 100 years ago. It’s not genetic. It’s caused mostly by the CDC childhood vaccine schedule administered at pediatric “well baby” visits. We live in a genocidal culture. We live in a culture that profits from the systematic poisoning of children’s bodies in the name of health. The mainstream gatekeepers have shown that they will defend this grotesque system to their last breath.

1. Please find ways to exit the Pharma death cult society. There are only two pediatricians who I trust in this country — Paul Thomas and Larry Palevsky. The vast majority of the rest are engaged in iatrogenocide. If you still have a pediatrician, fire him or her and find a functional or integrative medical doctor who will work with you and respect your wishes. If you are able to homeschool, please do so. Do not ever allow your children to attend Yale University or any of the other universities that sold the students in their care to the drug cartel via vaccine mandates. We made a mistake by trying to engage with the mainstream — those people are insane — we have to build our own publishers/journals, universities, and healthcare systems instead. We live in a sick and genocidal culture, it is essential for us to build the better alternative.

2. Mark, Cindy, and I stand by every word in Autism Tsunami. It is correct and provides a very detailed map about what’s ahead for this country based on the best available data. It is now no longer a JADD article, it is a historical artifact, a letter to the future from a troubled era, a samizdat text to be shared amongst dissidents fighting to overthrow this corrupt and dying regime. So please download it, read it, make up your mind for yourself, and tell us if you find any errors. Then if you are keen, share it, send it to your legislators and attach a note to explain why it is important. The amount of flak that we have received shows that this article is directly over the target. They are not censoring us for being wrong. They are censoring us for telling the truth.

Autism Tsunami
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