Bertrand Russell on the Importance of Facts: Offit vs. Kennedy

Bertrand Russell stated, in 1959, to future generations:

” I should like to say two things, one intellectual and one moral.

The intellectual thing I should want to say to them is this: When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. But look only, and solely, at what are the facts. That is the intellectual thing that I should wish to say.

The moral thing I should wish to say to them is very simple: I should say, love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way — and if we are to live together and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.”

Russell’s positions are consistent with the reason why I accept the difficult facts of vaccine injury and vaccine safety science “fraud”, along with the pleasant ones. The facts are now in plain sight, and all that those with financial interests in vaccines have left in their armory is denialism.

The latest episode is a failed attempt by Paul Offit to “correct” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on certain “facts” in this article on StatNews.  The unprofessional personal slights Offit renders are irrelevant, with the exception that they demonstrate a poverty of actual facts in use in Offit’s outrageously incorrect article.  He first attempts to dismiss Kennedy as a ‘celebrity’.  Whatever point this might attempt to score is lost in the rest of the errors, inaccuracies and false claims made by Offit in the rest of the article.

Offit claims that Kennedy, as an activist, should know that aluminum is super-abundant – the implication being that aluminum exposure must be rampant.

FACT: Prior to the development of an extraction technique in the late 1800’s, nearly all of aluminum in the earth’s crust was not available to biological organisms because it was trapped in bauxite, due to its proclivity to bind to silica.  No known biological pathway uses aluminum as a substrate, nutrient, co-factor, etc.  Zinc, which is highly abundant and readily accessible, is a nutrient.

Elsewhere, Offit has claimed (with no scientific basis whatsoever, and against all scientific understanding) that aluminum must be a nutrient because it is found in higher concentrations in premature infants, meaning (somehow) that this potent neurotoxin must be critical to early fetal development.  It did not occur to him that high aluminum in premature infants might reflect aluminum toxicity.

Offit also has also claimed that aluminum exposure is far higher in food and water and  “anything made of water on this planet” than one would ever get from vaccines.

FACT: Only 0.2-03% of aluminum from oral exposure makes it past the gastrointestinal tract; most passes harmlessly through the digestive tract unabsorbed.  For all practical purposes, over 99% of aluminum from diet and water never enters the body.  By comparison, 100% of aluminum from any parenteral (i.e, non-dietary) source, including IV and many vaccines, must be dealt with via internal biological processes: it must be removed, or stored, and on the way through these processes, it passes through a large number of tissues and organs.  This is true whether the injection is subdermal, or intramuscular.  The body forms a granule of immune response, and the aluminum is released over time.  So repeated intramuscular injections lead to an accumulation of aluminum and chronic exposure.  Clearance studies that focus on serum and do not measure tissue fates miss the mark: like mercury, as much as 10% of metabolically available aluminum makes it into the brain and stays there for years.

In responding to Kennedy on mercury, Offit asserts that infants receive “360 micrograms of methylmercury during the first 6 months of life, well before they will ever receive their first dose of influenza vaccine”.  There is no citation provided for this; we can presume it may be another wild guess.  But Offit ignores two important facts:

FACT: Risk of toxicity increases with cumulative exposure.  The dose makes the poison.  Cumulative exposures increase total risk of toxicity. In contrasting oral vs. injected mercury, Offit is performing a distracting false comparison.  In fact, if his claim is true, the level of concern over mercury from vaccines is increased.  The toxicity from oral and injected sources may be additive, or multiplicative. Either/or comparisons do not make sense if one is concerned over toxicity  The body doesn’t say “oh, I already have methyl mercury from source A, so MORE mercury in the form of ethyl mercury is just fine”.  Therefore, Offit’s position makes me more concerned, not less concerned, about mercury in the flu vaccine for infants.

Interactions between aluminum in HepB given on Day 1 of life, and mercury from flu vaccines given during pregnancy and thereafter, are also a source of grave concern.

FACT: If we play his false comparison game through, Offit ignores that ethyl mercury is more neurotoxic than methyl mercury.

This fact is so well-known that a pop-star schooled him on a study that is routinely and intentionally misinterpreted by Vaccine Risk Denialists in the Comments section on the StatNews article:

Burbacher’s monkey studies not only showed that ethyl mercury was NOT being excreted by the body, it showed that it goes directly to the brain where is gets metabolized into highly toxic INORGANIC MERCURY and is lodged there, creating inflammation and brain damage. Burbacher showed that inorganic mercury stays in the brain for years. READ THE STUDY.” – Laura Larue

Laura’s comment was deleted by StatNews.  Even a Pop music star knows more about tissue fates of injected ethylmercury than Offit.  That may be because she read the study. I happen to know that Offit knows this fact about ethyl mercury, too. The rest of Laura’s comment is reproduced here.

Burbacher and colleague’s result on thimerosal led them to conclude that the half-life of inorganic mercury from vaccines (>120 days) is too long to be estimated by their short-term study:


The faster clearance of ethyl mercury from blood is due to an attendant increase in ethyl mercury tissue comparmentalization, including the brain.  Further, the toxicokinetic profiles of methyl mercury and ethyl mercury differ, leading to distinct toxicity profiles for ethyl- and methyl- mercury.  The simultaneous exposure likely results in enhanced neurotoxic effects, especially in the human brain.  Those who claim that Burbacher et al. monkey study shows that ethyl mercury is less toxic are misreading the study.  Here is the relevant passage:

“The average brain-to-blood partitioning ratio of total Hg in the thimerosal group was slightly higher than that in the MeHg group (3.5 ± 0.5 vs. 2.5 ± 0.3, t-test, p = 0.11). Thus, the brain-to-blood Hg concentration ratio established for MeHg will underestimate the amount of Hg in the brain after exposure to thimerosal.

The large difference in the blood Hg half-life compared with the brain half-life for the thimerosal-exposed monkeys (6.9 days vs. 24 days) indicates that blood Hg may not be a good indicator of risk of adverse effects on the brain, particularly under conditions of rapidly changing blood levels such as those observed after vaccinations. The blood concentrations of the thimerosal-exposed monkeys in the present study are within the range of those reported for human infants after vaccination… Data from the present study support the prediction that, although little accumulation of Hg in the blood occurs over time with repeated vaccinations, accumulation of Hg in the brain of infants will occur. Thus, conclusion regarding the safety of thimerosal drawn from blood Hg clearance data in human infants receiving vaccines may not be valid, given the significantly slower half-life of Hg in the brain as observed in the infant macaques.

There was a much higher proportion of inorganic Hg in the brain of thimerosal monkeys than in the brains of MeHg monkeys (up to 71% vs. 10%). Absolute inorganic Hg concentrations in the brains of the thimerosal-exposed monkeys were approximately twice that of the MeHg monkeys. Interestingly, the inorganic fraction in the kidneys of the same cohort of monkeys was also significantly higher after im thimerosal than after oral MeHg exposure (0.71 ± 0.04 vs. 0.40 ± 0.03). This suggests that the dealkylation of ethylmercury is much more extensive than that of MeHg.”

Offit Misunderstands, or Misrepresents, Science

One of Offit’s most outrageous claims is that “vaccines are subjected to greater scrutiny than drugs. Much greater.”  He similarly claimed that placebo-controlled trials are “typical” in the pre-licensure phase of vaccine development.

FACT: With the exception of extraneous proteins, no component safety testing is required for vaccines or vaccine schedules. The doses of constituent contents of vaccines are not required to be tested for safety in the same manner as drugs. (See FDA 76 FR 20513).

FACT: Vaccine pre-licensure placebo studies do not typically use the proper placebo (saline).  HPV trials used aluminum hydroxide as a “placebo”, effectively only testing the antigen.  Some use other vaccines as a control group.  These are not sufficient to reveal the actual risks associated with the decision to accept a vaccine.  Further, many pre-licensure trials exclude patient populations at most risk of serious adverse events.  Those exclusions are not brought forward into the clinical application of vaccines.   The medical community does not screen for these populations at most risk.

FACT: By far, most of our knowledge on long-term vaccine safety relies on retrospective, correlational studies (aka Post-Market Surveillance, aka “Pharmacovigilence”). Retrospective correlation studies are universally recognized as a much weaker form of science than the gold-standard prospective Randomized Clinical Trials, and they are highly susceptible to manipulation and to a common practice of re-analysis of the data until the desired result is achieved (e.g., no association between vaccines and autism).  This is called “analysis-to-result”, and it practice exerts serious bias into such studies – so much so that I no longer consider them Science.  Details of this common practice are discussed here, and here.

Unfortunately for science and medicine, Offit has shown a pattern of reckless, irresponsible and baseless speculation, incorrect knowledge claims that seem to come out of nowhere, and dissemination of incorrect and misleading information on the risks of vaccines.  These actions must be causing untold numbers of parents of patients who watch his videos, or hear him speak, to then seek medical care at CHOP in Philadelphia misinformed on the risks of aluminum and mercury in vaccines, where, I might add, he and his colleagues profit remarkably well from the sale and distribution of vaccines.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., by comparison, has no income from the sale, manufacture or distribution of vaccines.  In public forums, my Vaccine Risk Aware readership is encouraged to clarify their lack of conflict of interest.  It makes for a very proper casting of the actual position of those calling for mandates who cannot make the same statement of fact.

-James Lyons-Weiler, PhD
Pittsburgh, PA Sept 25, 2017

Related from The Guardian: Women of childbearing age around world suffering toxic levels of mercury  (Sept 18, 2017)


  1. It is interesting that Laura La Rue was shut down in her comment to Paul Offit’s piece. It seems she got compensation for a flu vaccine adverse event in 2010 from the vaccine compensation program. I guess you could call that direct experience.

  2. Thanks for the work you do, doc. Vaccine injury has hit my family twice. At times it’s been a struggle, but scientists like yourself, give normal folk like myself renewed optimism.

    Thank you for having the decency and courage to look into this topic further. And the intelligence and voice to demand better of our scientific community.

    If only more would be willing to dig a bit deeper, we may not be in our current situation. But like I stated earlier, many of us have optimism for a brighter future.

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