Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Physician team’s crusade shows cracks

Posted in News by Skepdude on May 21, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”

Dr. Mark Geier has, he says, solved the riddle of autism. He says he has identified its cause and, in the powerful drug Lupron, found an effective treatment — what he calls a “major discovery.”

But behind Geier’s bold assertion is a troubling paper trail that undercuts his portrayal of himself as a pioneer tilting against a medical establishment that refuses to embrace his novel ideas.

Time and again, reputable scientists have dismissed autism research by Geier and his son, David, as seriously flawed. Judges who have heard Mark Geier testify about vaccines’ harmful effects have repeatedly called him unqualified, with one describing his statements as “intellectually dishonest.”

“Dr. Geier may be clever,” another wrote, “but he is not credible.”A physician and genetic counselor by training, Geier, 61, presents himself as the scientist who has unraveled autism’s mystery, a claim that has won him a devoted following. He and his son tie the neurodevelopmental disorder to a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal, which has been removed from childhood vaccines except for some flu shots.

The Geiers have won support from the parents of autistic children who share their suspicion of the medical community, even though mainline scientists criticize their views. Parents who have used the Lupron treatment also praise the Geiers, and Mark Geier said scores of severely autistic children are improving steadily.

But the Geiers have been widely criticized for both their methods and their treatment. In 2003, the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that a Geier study finding a link between vaccines and autism was marred by “numerous conceptual and scientific flaws, omissions of fact, inaccuracies, and misstatements.”

The following year, the Institute of Medicine concluded in a report that the purported connection between mercury in vaccines and autism did not exist. The government-sanctioned committee of scientists reserved harsh words for the Geiers’ work, saying their research was “uninterpretable” and marred by “serious methodological problems.”

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”

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