The True Cost of Autism with Dr. Toby Rogers
Starts at 45:50
Transcribed by Anne Dachel. Original published article and comments can be found at Age of Autism
Recently Del Bigtree’s The Highwire had an interview with political economist, Dr. Toby Rogers, that should have everyone’s attention. Toby is a researcher who has looked at the science and added up the costs of autism. It seems that with April’s Autism Awareness Month coming up there is nothing to celebrate, especially when it comes to the costs to society. In short, Toby thinks the economics of autism will bury us.
“We watched the [Who Health Organization] scratching their heads on vaccine safety science; now a new study is even more terrifying. We keep hearing that autism was always here, it’s just being diagnosed better.
“Well this study just came out, remember we’re at one in 36 with autism in New Jersey which I would assume would be the case for just about the entire county.…
‘Now take a look at this study. … ‘A quarter of kids with autism go undiagnosed, study suggests.’…
‘This is terrifying! …They’re now preparing for the new numbers. They’re preparing us. They’re saying, well we better let them know that we’ve been missing by 25 percent so when we ramp it up, we need an excuse for why we just went from one in 36 to, what’s it going to be, 25 percent? Are we going to one in 29?
‘Are we going to one in 29 with autism and nobody’s talking about it? Just looking the other way?…”
Del showed a clip of a congressional hearing run by U.S. Representative Dan Burton from 2002 where he grilled officials on the use of mercury in vaccines.
Back in 2002 the autism rate was, according to Burton, one in 250 children.
“What really hit me when I was watching it the other day, [Burton] was irate. We are at one in 250 children, this is the fastest growing epidemic of our lifetime. No money is going into it. …
“And I just thought, ONE IN 250, if only, if only that was the issue.
“We’re talking about one in 36, and now we know that’s probably 25 percent short of where we’re at!
“WHAT IS HAPPENING?
“And for people out there that will say, ‘Del, drop the autism. You can win this argument on all the other autoimmune diseases.’ NO!
“I will not drop autism because autism is going to destroy this country and the world, and these morons that are running our country right now looking the other way. …
“WHAT IF IT’S ALL OF OUR PROBLEM? WHAT IS THIS GOING TO COST US?
“I want you to listen and meet one of the most incredible people, an economist that is going to look at this in a way that no one else ever has.
“When everyone else should have, one man once again is pioneering the economics of autism.
“This is Toby Rogers.”
“I’m Toby Rogers. I’m a political economist. …
“Five years ago I started my PhD …and I was dating an Australian woman who has a young son, and in July of 2015 he was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
“At first I was in denial. …I spent one day researching autism. I went to the CDC webpage on research on the causes of autism. They have several different arguments: that autism is genetic, perhaps it’s about older parents,…
“The CDC website goes to great lengths to say there’s no association between vaccines and autism. They have fifteen sources or so there, so I went and looked up all the original sources.
“I was shocked and stunned. There’s no proper unvaccinated control group.”
“That’s troublesome because everybody knows that if you’re going to do good science you have to have a double blind, randomized control trial, and the CDC has none of that.
“I was troubled by the fact that the CDC doesn’t have a good explanation for why autism rates go up 10 to 15 percent every year for almost forty years now.
“It cannot be the case that the most important public health agency in the country doesn’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to the autism epidemic.
“So I did a second day of research and a third, and I did everything I could to defend them, to try to find some sort of evidence that they knew what they were talking about. And it’s just not there.
“I ended up spending six weeks reading about autism. I was also curious, as a political economist, as to whether there are any good cost estimates out there.
“It seemed to me that with rising autism prevalence, you’d also see rising autism costs to society, and it turns out, the costs are catastrophic.”…
INTERVIEW: Del Bigtree talks to Toby Rogers (57 min)
Del asked Toby why he ended up focusing on the societal cost of autism.
Toby: “When I began this work I didn’t think it would become my life’s work. It started innocently enough. I was just going to spend one Saturday researching everything I could about autism.”
Toby then recounted how he has read the New York Times every day for twenty years and noticed the fact that every couple of years there would be a story about the rising autism prevalence. What he found missing in their reporting was anything about the cost of autism.
Toby described the reaction to his autism research at his university.
“All I wanted to do was read the evidence for myself. The motto of the Royal Society in England, the oldest scientific society in the world, is ‘Nullius in verba,’ take nobody’s word for it. …
“So I set out to do the work for myself, I read the evidence for myself, and what the CDC was saying did not check out. …
“It’s bewildering. You feel like you’re losing your mind. It can’t be possible that the most important public health agency in the country, if not in the world, is telling a story that doesn’t match the data on the page.
“I kicked the tires every different way to try to prove myself wrong for six weeks on end, twelve hours a day, pouring over the material on the page, the actual scientific evidence about what’s happening, and it just didn’t check out. What the CDC was saying simply didn’t check out.
“Evidently I had to have a conversation with my supervisor and say, ‘Look, I was happily working on this doctoral thesis on Adam Smith, but I’ve stumbled into this extremely important story that I hadn’t expected to stumble into.’
“As you can imagine that was a difficult conversation because nobody wants to take this topic on because everybody knows that there’s all sorts of pushback that’s going to come from the pharmaceutical industry, from the chemical industry, from big energy companies. People were afraid, so the conversations were difficult.
“To their credit, my department stood by you. At one point I presented what I had found so far to my supervisor, and I said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know if we should keep going because the politics ahead are rough for all of us,’ and he said, ‘No, you are on to something that’s important.’“You and I might disagree on some facets of this, but I can help guide you to do this research in the right way.”
“The University of Sydney and my department at the University of Sydney are old school. They do things by the book. They do things in the right way thorough, meticulous, documenting every point, references. I have a hundred and twenty-five pages of references in my finished doctoral thesis. So we had difficult conversations, but eventually they said, ‘Please continue because this is an important topic.’”
VIDEO CLIP OF TOBY ROGERS
“So I spent the next four years studying and reading everything that’s been written on the science of autism. I read every vaccine safety study that’s out there. …
“I was just stunned by what I found.
“In 2015, autism cost the United States $268 billion. …And they project that if autism continues at its current rate, that autism will cost the United States one trillion dollars by 2025.
“The first wave of vaccine injured kids are aging out of the school system and they need adult residential care.
“And there is no plan at the federal level or at the state level for how to manage this wave of autistic adults.
“Within six years, autism is going to cost the United States more than the U.S. Defense Department budget.
“This is a tsunami of costs that are already here, and yet, government isn’t talking about it. Politicians don’t talk about it. And they continue to be engaged in denial.
“When I went into this research I was a true believer in vaccines, but after four years of work, the truth of the matter is the vaccines that on the market today are terrible. The reality is that the pharmaceutical industry is engaging in smoke and mirrors and junk science.
“They haven’t been tested for safety. We’re expected to accept them on faith.
“That’s not science. It’s marketing propaganda.
“The U.S. has two choices: We can enter a pharma dark ages, or we can engage in autism prevention.
“Those are the only two choices on the table.
“The levels of suffering out there are unbelievable. We know how to stop this epidemic. We have a moral responsibility as a society to stop this epidemic. AND IF WE DON’T WE’RE LOOKING AT THE COLLAPSE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The conversation between Del and Toby continued.
Del: “That is a terrifying thought.
“You believe this could lead to the collapse of the financial strength of America. And you’re talking not just talking autoimmune disease and all the issues around vaccines, JUST AUTISM.
Toby: “There are three cost studies that really matter. …
“The first is a study in 2012 [from the University of Pennsylvania]. They were looking at the cost of autism for families. And as you can imagine the cost of autism for families is enormous….”
Toby explained the disparities in income for parents with an autistic child.
“Autism plunges families into poverty, and it increases inequality in society.”
“In 2014 we have another study, and this study was by the London School of Economics together with the University of Pennsylvania. The lead author on that is [Ariane V.S.] Buescher.
“Buescher found two things that are really important for this conversation. One, if the child has autism and an intellectual disability, they’re looking lifetime care cost of $2.4 million per child over the course of a lifetime.
“If they have autism with no intellectual disability, they’re still looking at $1.4 million in lifetime care costs.
“Some of these costs are picked up by government, some of them are picked up by private insurance, but families are picking up the bulk of these costs. That is an enormous burden on families.
“One of the authors of the study, Knapp, in an interview said that autism cost the U.K. more than heart disease, cancer, and stroke combined. It is the most costly medical condition in the U.K., and yet, politicians aren’t talking about it.
“That’s strange, and that’s weird. That needs to be explained, and that’s one of the things I did in my doctoral thesis.
“The final study I want to mention is a study in 2015 by Leigh and Du. … They did a study on the total cost to U.S. society of autism.
“They calculated that in 2015 autism cost the United States $268 billion and they projected that if autism continues at its current rate, we’re looking one trillion dollars a year in autism costs by 2025, so within five years.
“Just to put this in perspective, the U.S. Defense Department budget consumes 3.1 percent of gross domestic product, GDP.
“By 2025, autism is going to cost the United States 3.6 percent of GDP, so more than the U.S. Defense Department cost.
“So we have this tsunami of costs that are here already that are happening, and you have no discussion of it at the federal level, no discussion of it at the state level, no discussion of it in the New York Times or the mainstream media.
“It is a weird story that I was trying to unpack. How is it possible that we’re in the midst of this epidemic, and government has no plan for how to respond to this epidemic?
“So when I go and meet with elected officials and talk to them about my research, I say to them, ‘We have a choice, we can engage in autism prevention, or we can continue on our current course and the United States will collapse from these costs within the next fifty years.’
“But when I meet with elected officials and I talk about autism prevention, it is the first time they’ve ever seen the words AUTISM and PREVENTION put together in the same sentence.
“Yet in my research, I think it’s relatively straightforward. We actually know what to do to start to bring these numbers down.
“These politicians who want to gaslight us and ignore us, and act like if they just ignore us long enough, we’ll go away.
“The fact of the matter is, that work that you’re doing, that Bobby Kennedy’s doing, Mary Holland …Lyn Redwood’s.
“Politicians need the answers we’re coming up with.
“We have a strategy for how to keep toxic chemical out of children’s bodies that’s going to lower autism rates, and politicians are going to need these answers and they’re going to come asking for these answers pretty soon, I would think.”
Del asked if Toby thought vaccines were the sole cause of autism.
“So in my research I look at the regulatory history of five classes of toxicants that increase autism risk.
“The CDC has this narrative about what’s going on. The CDC narrative is completely untethered from reality. It’s not based in science and it’s not based in the reality of the scientific data.
“In my research I went and looked and said, ‘Do we have good studies on toxicants that increase autism risk?’
“And we do.
“There’s a basket of five factors, toxicants that increase autism risk. So it’s mercury from coal powered power plants and diesel trucks. It’s the ingredients in plastics, it’s pesticides and herbicides… It’s MEF and RFR, cell phone towers that sort of thing, then pharmaceuticals.
There are three pharmaceutical products that we’re worried about in particular Tylenol, SSRI antidepressants, and vaccines….
“We have good data on all these toxicants. These are big studies, respectable researchers, statistically significant results, large sample sizes. So we know that these five factors increase risk.
“These five factors create the total toxic load on children, but not all these factors are equally harmful.
“With the first four factors…that’s sort of the background condition, and then the pharmaceutical products come in and often trigger regressive autism….
“We have five very good studies that I point to that show vaccines increase autism risk. The birth dose of Hepatitis B seems particularly problematic. We have two studies, Gallagher and Goodman did a study in 2008 and 2010 that showed the birth dose Hepatitis B increases autism risk.
“We have Dr. Paul Thomas and his book the Vaccine Friendly Plan, he’s able to reduce autism rates in his practice by 90 percent. But if you don’t vaccinate at all, you get even further gains as far as reductions in autism.
“We have the two Mawson studies that came out in 2017 that were one of the first vaccinated vs unvaccinated studies which shows unvaccinated kids are much healthier, and they have fewer chronic illnesses.
“…I think it’s all relatively straightforward to know what to doto begin to bring down these autism rates. We need to better regulate or ban toxic chemicals from going into kids’ bodies.
“—In my doctoral thesis I did a deep dive into the regulatory history of asbestos, lead and tobacco. So these are viewed as regulatory success stories, but in my research I showed that it takes a hundred years, a hundred years, to go from KNOWN HARMS…TO ANY SORT OF REGULATION OF THESE PRODUCTS IN THE MARKETPLACE. That’s how long the regulatory process takes.
“WE DON’T HAVE A HUNDREDS YEARS WHEN IT COMES TO AUTISM. WE NEED TO MOVE IMMEDIATELY TOWARDS AUTISM PREVENTION THROUGH KEEPING CHEMICAL OUT OF CHILDREN’S BODIES.
“WE KNOW HOW TO DO THIS….
“What we’re starting to see at the state level, and we need to see more of this, is that some elected officials are starting to wake up. We’re moving from not just beating these bad bills but moving towards good bills.
“I think what we’re going to see at the state level is that some state is going to embrace the sort of research that I’ve done that show that if we can keep these toxic chemicals out of kids’ bodies we’re going to see reductions in autism rates.
“And they’re not going to wait for the federal government to wake up, they’re not going to wait for the CDC to do the right thing. They’re going to move immediately because they’re seeing the cost of autism in families, in communities and in their states. So some governor, some politician is going to move a bill to regulate these toxic chemicals. And what’s going to happen is within about three years we’ll see a signal in the data, and we’ll know that this indeed was causing a rise in autism prevalence. Then we can adopt best practices nationwide.
“So as difficult as the fight is right now I think the way forward is relatively straightforward …”
Del asked Toby what the average person out there should do.
“Families, parents need to evaluate the evidence for themselves. …Don’t defer and contract out your decision making and your brain to some authority because we have fairly good evidence that the regulatory agencies that are supposed to be protecting us are captured.
“The problem here is regulatory capture. So the regulatory agencies that are supposed to be protecting us are actually protecting the pharmaceutical companies…
“Two things need to happen. One, we have to do something about regulatory capture both at the federal and state level. We have to just ban financial conflicts of interest….
“There’s this large literature on what’s called the funding effect. The funding effect looks at how financial conflicts of interest change research outcomes. What the literature shows is that any financial contribution from a pharmaceutical company… changes research outcomes — literally changes the data.”
Del then challenged those who say the safety studies have been done on vaccines.
“…Vaccines are getting no safety studies against placebos. We now know there are no surveillance systems that anyone really trusts… “
Del asked Toby about the denials from so many experts and officials. This was his response:
“…The regulators, the scientists and the politicians who continue to choose not to study the evidence and are just repeating tired sound bites that they hear from the pharmaceutical industry or lobbyists…
“Is it willful? Do they know that they’re being untruthful? I think capture happens in a lot of ways. There’s financial capture… There’s other kinds of capture—what they call cultural capture. I think these people live in an information bubble. They only talk to people who think like them. They only read news sources that think like them.
“In my thesis I look at how capture happens throughout the knowledge production process in science itself. Basically from the moment a student sets foot on a medical school campus, all the way through his or her career until retirement, they’re living in an information bubble.
“Pharma shapes what’s in the textbooks, they give consulting gigs to their professors, the chair of the department has a consulting gig with the pharmaceutical company, the university is invested with Johnson & Johnson or Bayer or Merck or one of those big companies.
“And then they go into medical practice. The clinical practice guidelines are written by a committee that’s filled with pharmaceutical industry types. Standards of care are written by the pharmaceutical industry. And then they pick up the New York Times and they’re not talking about a crisis or an epidemic or anything like that. And so they live in this information bubble, and it’s really comfortable in that information bubble, right? They’re well paid, they’re well respected, they’re looked up to in society.
“I think one reason we get such pushback is because we present evidence that sort of pierces that information bubble and it’s painful.
Del talked about Toby’s research.
“Your research is brilliant. I commend you on taking a look at this. It’s terrifying, perhaps more terrifying because those of us who aren’t suffering at home … it’s coming for us. It’s going to affect every pocketbook and the future of the nation and the world.”
“The more we can talk about this, and the more we can bring sunshine on this conversation, the more we can have hard conversations about the science, about the risk, about what’s happening with kids…
“It’s untenable to continue down the current path we’re on where all these toxic chemicals are allowed into children’s bodies….”