“I always thought that Dr John Briffa was like a more grown-up version of Patrick Holford… now he’s blown it.” If these words seem familiar, perhaps it’s because you’ve read them before.
The last time I wrote those words, I was looking at a blog post of Briffa’s where he was scaremongering about the MMR vaccine causing autism. This time it’s rainfall (no, seriously). What does Briffa think? Here’s an abridged version of some of his views:
Of course one other possibility is that rain is actually causing autism. Not the water part of rain, of course, but something that may come with it. The stand-out suspect here is the heavy metal mercury. While the authors of the study do not mention mercury specifically, they cite a study in support of their theory that environmental toxins may cause autism which focused on the potential role mercury plays in autism. […] The authors of the rainfall study admit their study does not prove that the existence of an environmental trigger for autism, but say that their results are consistent with this idea. They add that further research into whether such a trigger exists is warranted. At the current time, we don’t know whether rain can cause autism or not. But the fact of the matter remains that through the delivery of mercury or some other toxin(s), it might.
Way to go Dr John – that is some mighty impressive scaremongering. I’m not sure how mercury causing autism fits in with his previous post on MMR (a vaccine that never contained mercury) causing autism. Does he still believe that MMR is a likely cause of autism and, if not, will he be retracting his previous blog post? If he does still think MMR a likely cause of autism, then where does mercury from rain fit in to his theory? Or is he simply going to list everything that correlates with autism rates and claim that every single one might cause autism?
I ought to acknowledge the figure came from an article in Prescriber by Paula McDonald (Former Consultant in Communicable Disease Control in Cheshire & Wirral). Thanks to Anthony of http://www.blacktriangle.org/blog/?p=425 for attribution details.