Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Generation Rescue: A Timeline

Today, Generation Rescue paid for another full-page ad in a national publication. In this case, it was USA Today.
This occasion prompted me to spend a few moments reflecting on the meandering path that GR has taken since its inception in 2005. To help the new reader digest some of the gaffes and self-contradictions that litter the snail-trail left by GR, I have assembled a timeline of events. For those familiar with the events described here, please feel free to add your own points to the timeline.

February 2005 J.B. Handley appears on a local NBC show and declares that
"There is no such thing as autism. Autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning."
This is the moment when J.B.'s public reputation became directly tied to the outcome of chelation therapy performed on his son. A big burden for any son, to be sure. Also, imagine the shock felt by thousands upon thousands of autistic adults all over the world to find out that they simply had mercury poisoning!

June 2005 The Handleys launch the initial version of the Generation Rescue website. Thanks to the Wayback Machine, we can see how the site was worded at that time. Specifically:

"Generation Rescue believes that childhood neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger's, ADHD/ADD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder, and many other developmental delays are all misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning." (emphasis mine)

The website also prominently features a quote from Dr. Rashid Buttar. Yes, that Rashid Buttar.

April 2007 The Q1 2007 CDDS numbers are released (brief analysis here), and the reported caseload of autistic people in California continued to rise. This was yet another devastating blow to the mercury/autism hypothesis. When considered in the additional light of the incredible number of advances made in understanding the genetic basis of autism, how could one continue to proclaim this?:
"There is no evidence to suggest that autism is genetic. No autism gene has ever been found and the search will be endless – how can you have a gene for a mythical condition? Autism is mercury poisoning." - J.B. Handley

April 2007 The "new" Generation Rescue Website is launched with great fanfare! There is plenty of excited buzz in places like the Evidence of Harm Yahoo! Group and the household of Katie Wright. Yes, that Katie Wright. But ... wait! Where is the "autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning" statement? Its missing. Instead, they changed their story!
Now, apparently autism is not a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning. Instead, :

"The cause of this epidemic of NDs is extremely controversial. We believe the primary causes include the tripling of vaccines given to children in the last 15 years (mercury, aluminum and live viruses); maternal toxic load and prenatal vaccines; heavy metals like mercury in our air, water, and food; and the overuse of antibiotics."
February 2008 J.B. Handley, in his typical gentlemanly style, tells respected autism researcher Nancy Minshew "Tough shit" in response to her request that he keep an email correspondence between her and a parent of an autistic child private. The email in question was not damning in any way - I guess Dr. Minshew is simply used to a bit more decorum than is practiced by people like J.B.

Februrary 2008 Generation Rescue decides to throw good money after bad, and pulls another full page ad in USA Today. Of course, their intention must be to continue the message established by the re-work of their website in April 2007, right? Or, after numerous new studies being published that further discount vaccines in general or thimerosal in particular over the last few months, did they change the message again? Yes, they did. This time:

"Mercury. Aluminum. Formaldehyde. Ether. Antifreeze."
Wow. Combined with their earlier change of causation theory, one must now consider thimerosal, aluminum, formaldehyde, ether, antifreeze, tripling of vaccines, live viruses, prenatal vaccines, maternal toxic load, mercury in air, water, food, and overuse of antibiotics. That's quite a list! And, coupled with the staunch position that genetics have absolutely no role in autism, I think JB and GR have their work cut out for them in figuring out just how all of these myriad factors (13 at last count) interplay in causing autism!

I also think it must be mentioned that in this ad, whether intentional or not, GR indirectly asks the reader to discount the credibility of the CDC and AMA, while simultaneously ceding credibility to Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey. Oh ... my ... gosh.

Call me crazy, but I'm not thinking that Generation Rescue is a credible resource for knowledge about autism causation. Oh wait, I changed my mind about that. Oh, but I just changed it again. And again.............. ad nauseum.

This is just One Dad's Opinion.
For another opinion, Kristina at Autism Vox.


Matt said...

Can I add a mini blog post?

Generation Rescue's history of looking out for my kid's interests:


Ms. Clark said...

And here's the entire history of JB Handley showing respect to autistic people:

Ms. Clark said...

And lest we forget the history of another "full page" JB Handley debacle

Laura said...

Thanks for the backstory. I just started following the controversy.

Anonymous said...

It started even before that. Nov. 2004

I have personally had it with all the BS in the press and decided to
do something about it by circulating the below to everyone I know and
asking them to forward to any journalist they know. Remarkably, in
the last 24 hours, I have spoken to reporters from FOrbes, Wall
Street Journal, and the managing editor of the Wahsington Post.
Mainstream journalist DO NOT KNOW WHAT WE KNOW. Please copy and paste
the below and send to all who you know and/or write your own letter.
There are so many parents who would be doing what we are doing for
our kids if they only knew. Cheers,



"Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for
those who
in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality."

- John F. Kennedy

October 22, 2004

An open letter to American journalists:

The public health story of a generation is taking place right before
your eyes, can you see it? This letter is an appeal to those of you
who can harness the power of the media to do good, to speak the
truth, and to improve the lives of humanity.

1 in 6. 1 in 6. 1 in 6.

1 in 6 of our children are suffering from Autism, Aspergers, PDD-NOS,
ADD, ADHD, Asthma, deadly food allergies, or a learning disability. 1
in 6. 2 million American children are on Ritalin. 2 million. Autism
rates have jumped 80-fold in 15 years. 80-fold!!! (from 1 in 10,000
to 1 in 125).

How can this be true?

If you are over the age of 30, you know something is wrong. Growing
up, you didn't know kids with Autism, ADD, or deadly food allergies,
did you? No one died from eating a freakin' peanut!! Why are things
different today? What you know in your heart is that the explanation
has to be simple, and it is.

We have a generation of children suffering from Mercury poisoning.

It is that simple. Research it. The truth will set you free. There is
no controversy. Mercury causes every ailment listed above. Perhaps
your own child suffers from Mercury poisoning and this is the first
time you heard the truth.

Vaccines aren't a bad thing, per se.

It's the ethyl-mercury they are loaded with (through an unnecessary
preservative known as Thimerosal). Since the early 1980s, the amount
of mercury children under 2 are exposed to has quadrupled. No one did
the math, no one stopped to consider the impact, and an epidemic was

"There is no controversy. The failure of others to recognize facts
does not change the truth."

- Dr. Rashid Buttar, Clinical Toxicologist,
cured his son of "Autism" through Mercury removal

Why have California, Iowa, and the entire United Kingdom banned

Because they know that ethyl-mercury is the second most toxic
substance on earth and that it doesn't belong in anyone, particularly
our children.

Do the research. The truth shall set you free.

What is different today is that some Doctors now know the truth and
they know how to remove the Mercury. When the Mercury is removed, the
symptoms disappear. There are millions of children and families whose
lives could be dramatically improved if they only knew the truth.
There are thousands of parents who do know the truth and they have
recovered children to show for it.

I am one such parent, no different from you. Four months ago, I was a
Republican, a capitalist, and someone who trusted our government to
look after the safety of my 2 sons. Four months ago, my beautiful
baby boy was diagnosed with Autism. Four months ago, I was told my
son would probably never talk, would probably be mentally retarded,
and would never function normally in society.

Today, my 2-year-old son has more than 100 words, he makes eye
contact, he's completely in this world, he has no behavioral issues,
he appears NORMAL. Four months later he does all this!!! Why? How?
Quite simple: we are removing the Mercury.

There are thousands of stories just like mine. The drumbeat is
getting louder. This is the public health story of a generation. It
is bigger than asbestos, bigger than cigarettes and cancer. These are
our children. You know someone who is impacted. We all do. It is that
big. It is that tragic. It is that simple. Dig deep, find the
courage, seek the truth, help our kids.

"Each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand
mediocre minds appointed to guard the past."

- Maurice Maeterlink

If you would like to discuss this further, I welcome your phone call.
I have no conflict, nothing to gain from writing this beyond wanting
our children to be healed. I'm just a parent, just like many of you.
If you knew what I knew, you'd write this letter, too


J.B. Handley

Ashleigh Anderson said...

JB Handley spokesperson for mediocre minds everywhere. He is now working with Jenny McCarthy, spokesmodel for the sub-mediocre to discourage parents from vaccinating their kids (not to improve the vaccines which are working). And he's so "rational" he spreads patent distortions and untruths constantly.

Another of his classic rants from March of 2005 Greetings:

My name is J.B. Handley. I am the founder of an organization called
Generation Rescue. Our website is located at www.generationrescue.org

You may not like what I have to say, but I hope you will listen with an open mind. By way of background, I am the father of an autistic son, a Stanford graduate, a Republican, and a successful business owner and you can see the firm I own at www.spcap.com

GenerationRescue is financed 100% by my wife and I. We have no profit
motive and no agenda. When my son was diagnosed 10 months ago, our only interest was in getting him better by whatever means necessary. A review of the facts (not the myths, not the hysteria, etc.) revealed to me what I believe is a self-evident truth: my son, and many other autistic kids are exhibiting signs of mercury poisoning.

I don't necessarily expect everyone on this list to believe me, but I
hope you can all agree with what I believe are now facts that most
everyone in the mainstream does accept:

1. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin
2. The amount of mercury in vaccines nearly tripled for children
under 2 between 1998-2001 based on additions to the Universal Vaccine
3. The "autism epidemic" started between 1998-2002
4. The amount of mercury received in vaccines exceeded EPA safe levels by a very wide margin (50-100x, depending on vaccines received in a day)
5. Thimerosal was finally removed from vaccines in late 2002 (this is incorrectly stated on the Quakwatch site, fyi)

I think it is safe to say that those 5 points would be readily conceded as true by most doctors and scientists. Whether mercury and autism have a cause-effect is where all the debate lies.

I'm not interested in myths, I'm not interested in conspiracy theories.

Frankly, I have a business to run. I'm interested in scientists and
doctors who understand toxicology and can tell me what is the true cause of my son's ailment. With resources to fly anywhere and talk to anyone, I have become convinced that my son has mercury poisoning. 6 months into chelation therapy, his dramatic improvements and monthly stool/urine tests make me even more convinced. (I think the statement that chelation
therapy does not work has no basis in fact, by the way. Why do Blue
Cross, Aetna, and Cigna all endorse chelation therapy for heavy metal
toxicity if it is ineffective?)

Rather than respond to this email, I hope you will review the website of the organization we have founded. Read the Evidence section for yourself, it's made up of scientists and Doctors just like you, most of whom have nothing to sell. I think the studies done by the CDC and IOM, at the very least, are of questionable merit. I don't know how a rational person could disagree.

Don't worry, you won't hear from me again, I'm too damn busy trying to
save as many kids as we can.

As Carl Sagan once said:

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this:
If we've been bamboozled long enough,we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle.
We're no longer interested in finding out the truth.
The bamboozle has captured us.
It is simply too painful to acknowledge - even to ourselves - that we've been so credulous."

God Speed to all of you,

J.B. Handley
Managing Director
Swander Pace Capital
p. (415) 477 8500 (If you are interested in an open discussion, call me

He has a bachelors degree from Stanford. That's it, and it's obviously not in anything related to science. Obviously. He's megalomaniacal and he threatens and mocks autistic people whenever they contradict him. Not someone to be taking advice from, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

The final phase of the timeline is that the iceberg they are on is melting. Medical research has looked, found nothing and moved forward.

Ms. Clark said...

History will record how JB Handley, Lenny Schafer, Mark Blaxill, Lyn Redwood, Sallie Bernard, Kim Scagliano, Mark Geier, Sonny-boy Geier, Hugh Fudenberg, John Beast and Anne McElroy Dachel all end up holed-up in a cave on an Island in the South Pacific blithering about how they won the autism war with their superior brain power. They will of course, all be wearing tattered tin-foil beanies and not one of them will have a cured autistic kid.

isles said...

It is incomprehensible to me that anyone would do business with a person with such a tenuous grip on reality. I wonder how Brad's partners feel about his screeds. I wonder whether they've lost business because of it.

What does a page of USA Today cost, anyway? Did even one autistic child benefit from Brad's expenditure? How many hours could that much money have bought for some kid's tutoring or speech therapy?

tut-tut said...

Thanks for your explanation and link on Maddy's blog; it must be beyond frustrating to realize that celebs are the voice that most of us here about all this.