More thimerosal

Having a weblog is almost as cool as being a reporter or a Congressional staffer: express a casual opinion based on the slightest trace of knowledge, and lots of smart, well-informed people rush to educate you.

Medicinal chemist Derek Lowe has two thoughtful posts on the thimerosal-autism issue, making what sounds to an amateur like a pretty solid, but (as Lowe clearly says) not airtight case that there’s unlikely to be a link. Of course, with a disease of largely unknown etiology, it’s very hard to be sure based on mechanism alone whether something will or won’t trigger it.

I’m still betting on the epidemiology to tell us the story: either the rate of autism goes down sharply in the cohorts not exposed to thimerosal, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, start looking for another cause of the surge in incidence. The classification problem should be manageable by counting only the really profound cases.

Earlier posts on this here and here and here.

[Subsequent post here.]

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: