Home > Comments and Articles > Professor Boyd Haley
Professor Haley is the Chair of the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky. Here are some things I have had to say about him.
Haley's Comment (16/10/2004)
Dr Boyd Haley is a chemist from the University of Kentucky who is obsessed with the terrible dangers of mercury. Because of this, he is a darling of both the anti-vaccination liars and the anti-amalgam loons. There have been literally billions of teeth filled with amalgam since its adoption in the early 19th century and billions of vaccine doses given over the last half-century and in neither case has there been any noticeable epidemic of the dreadful consequences which have been supposed to occur following exposure to what has been described as the deadliest metal in the world. (As an aside, to say that "there is mercury in vaccines" is a statement of the form "there is carbon in vaccines" or "there is nitrogen in vaccines". When a layman gets confused about elements and compounds it can be forgivable. When someone who is the head of a university school of chemistry does so, one has to suspect either madness or lying to support an agenda.)
At a meeting in June 2004 of the political group Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, Dr Haley used the expression "mad child disease" to refer to autism and attention deficit disorder, and repeated his nonsensical claims that these disorders are caused by mercury. When he was challenged to apologise for this disgusting use of language he refused and instead retrospectively invented an acronym. He claims that what he really said was not "mad child disease" but "M.A.D. child disease", which just happens to sound the same when you say it. "M.A.D." stands for "Mercury Acquired Disease of children". Yeah, right. So when you expand it out, what he was really saying was "mercury acquired disease of children child disease". Did I already say "Yeah, right"? Does Dr Haley get money out of the bank by putting his personal PIN number into an automatic ATM machine? The anti-amalgamists and anti-vaccination liars have leapt to his defence, of course, and have been saying that he has explained himself perfectly. What he has explained is that he will stop at no level of offensiveness and no amount of lying to promote his idiotic pseudoscientific ideas.
Real scientists have conclusively shown that any connection between mercury compounds used as preservatives in vaccines and the onset or detection of autism subsequent to vaccination is of such low probability that worrying about it is like worrying that the Paris-Dakar Rally might be cancelled because the route is flooded. In Pseudoscience World, however, one crackpot is worth ten thousand orthodox scientists, and people who reject all real science as corrupt and venal are only too ready to idolise anyone who preaches what they want to hear. The parents of one autistic child set up an online petition to protest about Haley's offensive remarks, and they have found out the hard way about what happens when someone offers even the slightest criticism of a hero of fanatics. They have been accused of lying, of trashing Dr Haley's reputation, of denigrating his great work, of being jealous of his academic achievements, of everything except asking for an apology for what might have been a thoughtless, offensive set of words. The fanatics take Daniel 2 much too seriously, and their idols must not be allowed to have any imperfections at all. Much like saints or minor gods, really.
Professor Haley won the Quote of the Year Award in the 2004 Millenium Awards for "mad child disease".
More Boyd Haley (23/10/2004)
Last week I mentioned how Dr Boyd Haley, hero of anti-vaccination liars and anti-amalgam fruitcakes, was refusing to back down or apologise for using the expression "mad child disease" to describe autism. Apparently he is now threatening to sue anyone who "defames" him by asking for an apology. What a creep! He claims that he is not opposed to vaccines, but you are judged by the friends you keep. Whenever he has a pronouncement to make it seems to get to the people who run the anti-vaccination liar mailing lists and web sites very quickly. Similarly, the National Autism Association seems to be incapable of saying anything that doesn't suggest that autism is caused by vaccines. The NAA is running a conference in the next few weeks, and Dr Haley is a speaker. Another speaker is Jaquelyn McCandless, who claims to be a real doctor but makes her living by stealing money from the parents of autistic children. I awarded her the "Quote of the Year" prize for 2002 for the following disgusting statement. Do you see why I call these people liars?
When mercury-poisoned children are treated with oral chelation agents to remove mercury (which we see pouring out in our urine laboratory studies) and make eye contact or speak words for the first time sometimes within days of starting treatment, it is clear what mercury does to the brain
I decided to ask Dr Haley some questions.
Chemistry by numbers (27/11/2004)
Mercury and the proportion 50% play a big part in the mythology of both the anti-vaccination liars and the anti-amalgam loons, where mercury is supposed to be 50% of the preservative thimerosal and also 50% of dental amalgam. This is a remarkable coincidence. Even allowing for the fact that there is only one mercury atom among the twenty-three in a thimerosal molecule, the organic chemistry related to thimerosal and its reactions would seem to be only distantly related to the way that the atoms of the different metals interact to give an alloy its distinctive properties. Put another way, thimerosal is not a mixture of mercury with other stuff and dental amalgam is not just a solution of silver in mercury. In both cases there is something else going on.
Professor Boyd Haley claims special knowledge of mercury and is beloved by both of the aforementioned groups of fanatics. He is not just some out-of-the-mainstream whacko, but the chair of the chemistry department at a real university (the University of Kentucky), so I thought I would write to him to clear up some confusion over who said what. To make matters simple, I thought that I would just start with thimerosal and we could address the problem of the chemical and physical properties of amalgam later. This is what I wrote to him:
Dear Professor Haley,
I am continually being told that the chemical thimerosal, once used as a preservative in multi-dose vaccine packages, is 50% mercury. As mercury is just a single atom in the 23 which make up the thimerosal molecule it is obvious that the "50%" claim is absurd.
What concerns me, and should concern you, is that I have been told that you are a source of this ludicrous piece of disinformation. I find it impossible to believe that anyone associated with the chemistry department of a reputable university would ever utter such idiocy so I am sure that it did not originate with you and that you have never claimed it to be true.
I would welcome a statement from you dissociating yourself from this nonsense so that I can have some ammunition to use the next time someone tells me the lie.
This email and your response will be published in the next update of my online magazine, The Millenium Project.
Thank you for your time.
You may be familiar with the old joke about the helicopter pilot lost in a fog who spots someone getting out of a car in an office car park and asks him "Where am I?" The office worker replies "In a helicopter", the pilot says "Thanks" and flies off. The passenger in the helicopter asks the pilot why he thanked the man on the ground for such worthless information, and the pilot says that he now knows that he is flying over Microsoft's office because the answer he got from the man on the ground was both factually correct and totally useless. I had a feeling of deja vu when Professor Haley's reply came in. My responses are in italics, and I await the next instalment from Kentucky. I will also be contacting some other chemists to see if I can get any facts.
It was certainly not meant to be a joke. The lies told by the opponents of vaccination are very far from jokes, and when they say something as absurd as this it should be treated seriously.
I would not take total credit for the "claim that mercury is 50% of thimerosal" but it is a statement that I would back and agree with. The % of an element found in a compound is based on the % weight the element gives to the total weight of the compound. The sodium salt of thimerosal contains the following elements:
|atom||#atoms||atomic weight||total weight|
The above gives a formula weight for the sodium salt of thimerosal of 404.59, and mercury contributes 200.59. Dividing 200.49 by 404.59 = 0.4959 and converting to % this equals 49.59%. Therefore, mercury is 49.59% of the weight of thimerosal as determined using conventional chemical calculations. I hope that this helps you.
I knew all that, but is a meaningless answer. Just because something is a true statement does not make it a useful statement. My house is more than 50% bricks by weight; my boat is more than 50% aluminium by weight; the oceans are more than 50% oxygen by weight; if you combine one atom each of hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen into a molecule the resulting compound is more than 50% nitrogen by weight, but it will kill you.
What does an atom's proportion of the molecular weight of a compound have to do with the action of that compound? I realise that the "50% mercury" nonsense is used by the anti-vaccination liars to frighten parents, but surely professional chemists should be calling for accuracy in the use of words.
Sincerely, Boyd Haley
Professor and Chair Dept. of Chemistry
University of Kentucky
Peter: The toxicity of mercury from ingestion, i.e. that level set by the EPA in the USA is 0.1 microgram Hg per kilogram body weight per day based on ingestion of methylmercury from a fish diet. Notice that the level of mercury is presented in a fraction of grams. Therefore, to determine the toxicity of mercury in thimerosal or ethylmercury you have to determine the amount of mercury in fractions of grams. This is the way that all toxicologists do this. The amount of mercury by weight in the vaccines would make it safe by EPA standards if the subject getting the shot weighed 125kilograms or 275 lbs. If you are so convinced that I am wrong with this approach why don't you find an another academic chemist or toxicologist that would agree with your analysis or provide you with another way of doing this?
Your analysis using HCN is part of the answer in that compounds are defined as toxic by their action on living systems, not their elemental content. In this evaluation, thimerosal is known to rapidly release ethylmercury in aqueous systems. Ethylmercury is extremely neurotoxic, killing neurons at 10-25 nanomolar levels. For your information the vaccine is 125,000 nanomolar in thimerosal and injecting one vaccine (12.5 micrograms) into one 4-6lbs infant would represent a very toxic exposure. Furhter, unlike many elements (N,O,C, etc.) Hg has no known usefulness in biological systems, being toxic to them all. Also, all occurring forms of Hg (methylmercury, ethylmercury, thimerosal dental amalgams, Hg vapor, Hg2+, etc.) have been reported to be extremely toxic. Your analysis that the anti-vaccine crowd uses the 50% mercury in thimerosal to scare people may be right, but they ought to be scared about injecting this much mercury into an infant. I am very pro-vaccine---I was raised on a farm and I own one today and I know the problems that can come from not vaccinating animals. However, that doesn't mean I have to accept anything less than a proven, safest vaccine and vaccine program for our children. I am under the opinion that thimerosal has been removed from most childhood vaccines, do you think our governments would do this if they did not think there was a problem?
I give up. A professor of chemistry does not understand the difference between safe daily dose over a lifetime and dosage received on a single day. A professor of chemistry deliberately talks about two different chemical compounds (ethylmercury and methylmercury) as if they are interchangeable and have identical properties. A professor of chemistry is not aware that a "4-6lbs infant" is at high risk simply because of the very low birth weight, and no doctor is injecting these premature or high-risk babies with anything without very careful observation. (Perhaps a professor of chemistry is confused about the difference between pounds and kilograms.) A professor of chemistry is "very pro-vaccine" but appears on more than 700 occasions on web sites condemning vaccines, and is prepared to speak at conferences run by anti-vaccination liars and share the platform with people who he knows are not telling the truth.
Professor Haley redux (18/12/2004)
The subject of Professor Boyd Haley's disgraceful use of the term "Mad Child Disease" to refer to autism has come up again, because fans of the man have claimed that he has apologised when all he has done is to say that he didn't invent the expression. Apparently this is sufficient justification for being able to use it without remorse, in the same way that a supporter of Haley once referred to someone as a "jew boy" and defended the slur on the basis that the words were descriptive and had been used before. Haley will never apologise. Arrogant know-it-alls like him never feel the need to apologise because they are never wrong. In the eyes of the anti-amalgam idiots and the anti-vaccination liars it is blasphemy to suggest that a god is not infallible, but I would like you to consider the following two quotes from Dr Boyd Haley.
I'll just put the two statements together with nothing else around them.
This is a professor of chemistry, chair of his university's chemistry department, but he uses elemental mercury and ethyl mercury interchangeably. In another email to me he suggests that as there are no toxicity specifications for ethyl mercury it is legitimate to use the recommendations for methyl mercury. I would hope that the library at the University of Kentucky has a good collection of chemistry textbooks and journals, because chemistry students certainly aren't going to learn anything in class.
There is, however, always the possibility that Dr Haley actually lives two lives - the one of the chemistry professor who knows the truth and the one of the anti-mercurist who will say anything at all if it advances the agenda - and that he can so completely compartmentalise these lives that he doesn't recognise his hypocrisy. There was a similar case to this in the creationist movement some time back. One of the most quoted experts supporting the claim that there was scientific evidence for the Earth being only 6,000 years old was Andrew Snelling, who held a legitimate PhD in geology. Snelling could find all sorts of evidence of a young Earth, and his academic qualifications were always used to support his claims. In his day job, Snelling worked as a consultant geologist for oil and mining companies, using his knowledge of the changes which occur over hundreds of millions of years to advise his clients of likely places to do their prospecting. Just as the creationists could see no inconsistency in Snelling's behaviour, the anti-amalgam loons and the anti-vaccination liars see no problem with the nonsense that Haley spouts in support of their beliefs.
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2005 02:11:58 +1000
As the mother of two once perfectly healthy kids who happened to love tuna and ate too much of it ten years ago, I consider Dr. Haley a godsend, while you sir, are a biochemical idiot. It took us 5 years to get out from under the medical bills caused by the hypersensitivity to metals like mercury, and my eldest daughter will be a mad hatter requiring medication to survive for the rest of her life. If not for people like Dr. Haley, my doctor and I would never have figured out the mercury problem. My doctor agrees with me and Dr. Haley that my kids should never be injected with thimerosal-containing vaccines, so we have located vaccines without it. Get a clue!
I hope you didn't spend more than one second looking for the thimerosal-free vaccines, because that is how long it takes to locate them. Thimerosal was removed from vaccines years ago.
Get a clue.
Haley is an idiot.
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2005 12:24:28 +1000
Subject: Re: Mercury
My doctor had to special order thimerosal-free tetanus vaccine because she only had vaccine with thimerosal on hand. Every year millions of elderly patients are receiving flu shots that still contain thimerosal. Many pediatricians are still using up their stock of old thimerosal-containing vaccines. Thimerosal was removed from most children's vaccines in the US only after heroes like Dr. Haley proved their mercury case to authorities. This was 20 years after Russia and most of Europe had banned its use in vaccines, and 15 years after it was banned for use in animals here in the US. I object to an idiot like you, clearly without any advanced scientific knowledge, calling someone that possibly saved my children's life and health, an idiot. You ARE the IDIOT.
I give up. It is useless arguing with fools.
A chemist branches out (10/9/2005)
Remember Dr Boyd Haley the (now former) head of the chemistry school at the University of Kentucky? Dr Haley is a famous anti-mercury campaigner, beloved of both anti-vaccination liars and anti-amalgam loons, and he won the Millenium Quote of the Year for 2004 for his description of autism as "mad child disease". Dr Haley also has some unorthodox opinions about chemistry, and you can read some earlier comments about him here.
For some weeks, I have been blocked from access to Dr Haley's commercial web site (I can do a trace and get to one machine away from his server), and it comes up on my regular link check as not existing. Although it is quite easy to block access to web sites by the IP address of the visitor, I suspect that in this case the problem is technical rather than intentional. As someone once said, given a choice between malice and incompetence as the explanation for an apparent conspiracy, choose incompetence every time. (Mr William P O'Neill apparently tried to stop me accessing the CCRG site at one time. He failed. Of course.)
I happen to know how to use anonymous proxies, and now that I have been able to get access to Dr Haley's commercial web site I see that he is charging $500 for an unapproved test for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease). All the published research about the test and its underlying theory was done by, wait for it, don't get impatient, Dr Boyd Haley. If he follows the pattern of fraud used in the Roy Smith case, then he will find the marker for ALS and then tell whoever has been tested that they need to have some very expensive chelation to fix the problem.
Testing young people for ALS and then treating them is a much better scam than curing cancer or diabetes. You do the test, produce the "positive" results and give the treatment. ALS is quite rare and doesn't show up until the victim is getting on in years, so if the person never gets it (like most of the population) they will thank Haley and not begrudge him the money he took. If they do happen to get ALS, Haley will be long gone with the money, and, even if he is still around, he can claim that the treatment is not perfect. In fact, it's a perfect scam.
I am offering a test for prostate cancer. It costs $450 and requires a urine sample. It is such a sensitive test that it is only useful on men less than twenty years old, because after that the testing equipment gets overloaded. The treatment costs $10,000 and comes with a five-year guarantee. If you don't require surgery by the time you are twenty-five years old then it is obvious that the treatment worked. I am also working on a test for presbyopia, to be given to 12-year-olds. The test will cost about $300 and the treatment for indolent asymptomatic presbyopia will cost $1,000. If you don't need reading glasses by the age of 25 the treatment worked.
Well, I would be doing those things if I didn't have a conscience.
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 15:06:30 -0500
Mr Bowditch, What are your qualifications for refuting Dr. Haley's claims? And Why do you find it necessary to spend your time and money doing so? ~C.R. Fowler
The only qualifications necessary to refute idiotic claims such as "thimerosal is 50% mercury" and that the toxicity and effects on the body of ethylmercury can be assumed to be the same as for methylmercury is the ability to read a high school chemistry textbook. In answer to your second question, I don't spend money (only time) and the reason I do it is because I believe that people have the right to correct information, especially when it comes to matters as serious as protecting their children from harm. The children who might miss out on vaccination because their parents believe the nonsense spouted by clowns like Dr Haley provide sufficient justification for my actions.
Mercury on trial (29/7/2006)
In a recent court case the parents of an autistic child took action against the manufacturers of the drug RhoGAM claiming that the drug caused the autism of their child. (RhoGAM is administered to pregnant women to reduce the possibility of rejection of the foetus and spontaneous abortion caused by Rh factor incompatibility.) The parents took the coward's way out and insisted on anonymity in the court action, but, of course, wanted the drug company's name to be given wide publicity. (I assume that they wanted any compensation cheque to be made out in their real names.) One of the expert witnesses they called was our old friend Dr Boyd Haley, the chemistry professor who has forgotten his high-school chemistry. The court subjected Dr Haley's testimony to what is called a Daubert investigation, where the expertise is evaluated, and this is what the court had to say (Dr Lucier is another anti-mercury campaigner):
The court…finds that Dr. Haley’s report does not state an expert opinion that thimerosal causes autism, rather just that he has a theory about how such a thing could happen. At best, he expressed "strong belief" that the cause of "neurodevelopmental disorders in infants" is exposure to an organic-mercury compound such as thimerosal. Additionally, Plaintiffs proffered the report of Dr. Lucier, who is an expert in methylmercury and not ethylmercury, which is the substance in RhoGAM. Dr. Lucier does not offer an opinion that methylmercury causes autism, but rather that it may cause "developmental disorders." Significantly, the Court notes that neither Dr. Haley nor Dr. Lucier asserts that he is an expert on autism nor are they offered as such. In any event, the Court finds that neither of the proffered reports of Dr. Haley nor Dr. Lucier are sufficiently reliable under Daubert on the general causation issue because neither is relevant to the "task at hand." It would be an unacceptable scientific leap to suggest that they serve as proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, of Plaintiff’s claim that the thimerosal in RhoGAM can cause autism.
One comment I can make about the court's ruling is that Dr Haley didn't have a "theory" in the scientific sense - he had a "hypothesis". These are not the same thing even though the words might mean something similar in a non-scientific context.
The court also had something to say about another hero of the anti-vaccination liars, Dr Mark Geier, but I will leave discussion of him and his equally deceptive son for another time. The really nice thing about this is that all three of these "experts" were being lined up for a major case against drug companies and vaccine manufacturers but now it looks like their testimony will be thrown out for being the fabrication it is and the anti-vaccination liars will have to find some new experts to lie on the stand. You can read the complete court decision here.
Date: Wed, 04 Apr 2007 01:59:25 -0700
From: Murdoch Robert
Subject: Boyd Haley
If you had a cupful of mercury in front of you right now, how much would you be willing to drink to prove Boyd Haley wrong?
Robert Murdoch DOM
cc Professor Boyd Haley
And what would that prove? You might like to get Professor Haley to explain the concepts of "the dose makes the poison" and "threshold". That is, if he hasn't completely forgotten whatever chemistry he may once have known. All it takes to prove him wrong is to crack open an introductory organic chemistry textbook and read about what the prefixes "methyl-" and "ethyl-" mean.
I wish I'd thought of this (25/8/2007)
The last time I looked at the commercial web site of our old friend Professor Boyd Haley he was selling a test for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease). He had developed the test himself based on research conducted by him alone. There was, of course, a treatment on offer, no doubt at considerable expense. I see that Professor Haley now has a new test which can reveal toxins in need of removal (which is a much more polite way of saying "dollars in need of removal"). Apparently, if you have halitosis you are making your own toxins, so the test requires you to get a sample of your bad breath so that an appropriate treatment and payment schedule can be determined. Professor Haley might have forgotten the chemistry he learnt in high school, but he sure has a good imagination and a great eye for the main chance.
Subject: Boyd Haley
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 19:48:53 -0500
How many autistic children do you have?
None, but I have a very close relative who has Asperger's Syndrome.
Did you note when the symptoms of Autism occurred?
It wasn't diagnosed precisely for a year or so, but one of the nurses noted the way the baby attended to stimuli immediately after birth, so that's when the signs first appeared. Let's say at five minutes old.
I notice that you refer to Dr. Haley and others as "anti-vaccination" liars...which of course screams "agenda" within your own articles.
Why? They lie so they are liars. It's quite simple if you understand how English works.
I'm pretty sure (having an Autistic son and following this whole "theory" very closely) that none of them have espoused getting rid of vaccines, but rather eliminating Thimerasol as the preservative.
You haven't been paying attention, have you? Why do they oppose MMR, which has never contained thimerosal? Why do they oppose all the vaccines which no longer contain thimerosal? The only answer I can think of is that they hate children and want to see them dead or maimed.
I'm not a Bio chemist, but you engage in the same "wow them with technical speak" B.S. that you accuse Dr. Haley and others of engaging in. Let me see…you use the Helicopter pilot analogy to as a way to demonstrate what you believe is an idiotic response. How about this…"Mercury is only one of 23 atoms in the Thimerasol compound." My reply…who gives a shit…can you tell me what happens to that Mercury atom after my son's body breaks down the Thimerasol? No?
Yes. When the thimerosal breaks down, one of the products is ethyl mercury which leaves the body in the urine and stools. The mercury goes with it. Liars will try to tell you that thimerosal breaks down to methyl mercury or that ethyl and methyl mercury have the same effect on the body, but they would be lying. After all, lying is what they do.
Let me guess, you're not a doctor but a blogger…you have a really impressive degree in "blogging".
You don't have to guess, because it is stated quite clearly on my web site. You are not the first person claiming the ability to research facts who can't even find out the simplest things about me and you won't be the last. And by the way, to be a blogger I would need a blog. This site isn't one.
Here's another common response "Billions of vaccines have been given with no ill effect." Again, who cares if hundreds of thousands have had an ill affect? I don't think anyone believes the Thimerasol alone is the culprit…but rather that those who's Autism may have been triggered by it have a genetic disorder where their bodies can not detoxify as effectively.
Yes, that's the lie that had to be invented when the "autism epidemic" didn't go away after the thimerosal was removed from vaccines. It's the lie that had to be invented to dispute the repeated and extensive scientific studies which have shown that there is no connection between thimerosal and autism.
I'm no medical doctor either, but I know that injecting children THE DAY THEY ARE BORN with molecules that contain mercury is…idiotic.
And what vaccines which contain mercury are given to children THE DAY THEY ARE BORN? See the full list of vaccines here. Please be specific.
The final proof in the pudding is that pharmaceuticals "voluntarily" removed Thimerasol. Given that they, much as your "advertising based" blog-site, chase the almighty dollar, why would they remove it if there were no ill effects?
It was done as a public relations exercise because they were being distracted from the task of protecting children by liars telling lies about autism. It made some vaccines more expensive because it meant that they had to be packaged in single-use vials and probably saved the manufacturers some money because they could leave out an ingredient.
Why so coy with the acronym? We're all adults here. I'm not too shy to spell it out and tell you to fuck off yourself, but I don't want you to die.