Anti-vaccine crank and self-proclaimed aluminum expert, Christopher Exley, has announced that he’s departing the University of Keele (Staffordshire, England) for unknown reasons, but since he’s an anti-vaxxer, I’m sure he will blame Bill Gates and Big Pharma.
I have written about Exley quite a bit over the years, mainly because he keeps “publishing” opinion pieces about aluminum adjuvants in vaccines while making claims without a femtogram of clinical or epidemiological data that sits at the top of the hierarchy of biomedical research.
Unfortunately, because the anti-vaccine world lacks any robust scientific data to support their preconceived beliefs, they have to cherry-pick pseudoscience from not only Christopher Aluminum Exley but also from Tetyana Not-An-Immunologist Obukhanych and Christopher Retraction Shaw. These are just some of the false authorities beloved by the anti-vaccine religion.
Let’s take a look at the very strange “resignation letter” from Christopher Exley. And I’ll try to keep the celebrations to a minimum. Or not.
Who is Christopher Aluminum Exley?
In a blog post, he claims that everyone calls him “Mr. Aluminum.” I doubt this, although no doubt the anti-vaccine zealots do call him that. At best, he should be known as Christopher Aluminum Exley, not because he’s an aluminum expert, but because of his lack of knowledge regarding vaccine science.
In case you are unfamiliar with this person, he is (formerly) a Professor of Bioinorganic Chemistry at Keele University in Staffordshire, UK. Because of his consistent anti-vaccine stances, Exley has been blocked from raising funds for his pseudoscientific research. His grant applications were rejected by scientific research councils in the UK.
He then turned to GoFundMe to raise money for his “research,” and they also rejected him. GoFundMe stated that “campaigns raising money to promote misinformation about vaccines violate GoFundMe’s terms of service and we are removing them.”
Basically, he made his reputation in the anti-vaccine world by claiming that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines cause autism. He might have been on to something, except there isn’t even a tiny bit of evidence that shows that vaccines, aluminum or not, are linked to autism. None. In fact, massive amounts of peer-reviewed, published evidence show that vaccines have are not linked to autism.
A guest author, VaultDwellerSYR, wrote a wonderful critique of Exley’s article. VaultDwellerSYR is the pseudonym (there are legitimate reasons to do so, he is not a coward) of a real scientist who performs real published and peer-reviewed research into the brain.
VaultDwellerSYR made this crucial point about him:
I am reading through and so far references are: Exley, Exley, Exley, Exley, Exley, Lujan (the sheep dude), Exley, Exley, Gherardi, Exley, Exley, Exley, Exley, and Exley citing a previous article. Damn thats a lot of compensation here for the lack of being taken as credible by his peers.
In other words, Exley loves to quote Exley in his papers. Why? Well, probably because there’s no science out there to support his claims, so he has to rely upon his opinion pieces that are published in obscure and low-ranked publications.
Exley goodbye email
So, Mr. Aluminum sent out the above strange email. I won’t pretend to state that I know what happened, but we can read between the lines.
On 19 July 2021, apparently Keele University terminated Christopher Exley with his final day at the university to be at the end of August 2021. As I mentioned before, his relationship with Keele University has been tortured for several years, because the university refused to support his pseudoscience.
Of course, in the middle of the email he writes:
We have, of course, tried to find a new home for our research. However, the costs of of moving a laboratory and establishing it elsewhere are very high. It is also difficult to find academic establishments that have not been seduced (corrupted) by Gates, GAVI, etc.
Yes, he blames Gates. Of course, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Children’s Health Defense anti-vaccine organization blames Big Pharma for pushing out Exley.
The alternative explanation would be that Exley’s pseudoscience about vaccines, aluminum, and autism have been rejected by real science so many times that it’s difficult to keep count. If Exley were a competent, respected, and highly published researcher, Keele may not have let him go, or he would find a new position elsewhere quickly.
The thing is that his research is not respected. Setting aside his dangerous, and unsupported claims about aluminum in vaccines, Christopher Exley seems to want to blame aluminum for everything. He is one of the advocates regarding aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease which has been thoroughly debunked over the years.
Exley has published a lot over the past few decades. But most of his recent research has been “opinion pieces” and letters-to-the-editor (some of which have been retracted – that’s just amazing) rather than spectacular clinical or epidemiological studies that might convince some of us that he’s on to something.
So, let’s take a look at the possible reasons why he will no longer be at Keele University:
- He doesn’t publish highly cited articles in respected journals, one of the basic requirements of any science facult in academics.
- His articles cite himself more than others – that’s not only suspicious, it means he’s not relying upon the foundation of others.
- His anti-vaccine research is not supported by any other respected science in the world.
- He has no access to funding, another one of those important characteristics of good academic faculty.
- He doesn’t do actual clinical or epidemiological research that might support any of his hypotheses. Let me make this clear – if he could actually produce evidence that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines are linked to anything, we’d take notice. He hasn’t, so we don’t.
I do not feel bad for Christopher Aluminum Exley. He has not provided solid preclinical, clinical, or epidemiological evidence of any of his claims, whether it’s aluminum adjuvants that cause autism or aluminum that cause Alzheimer’s disease. He is a gadfly that seems to revel in the adoration of the anti-vaccine community.
Let me be clear about something – science grows when scientists provide robust evidence that contradicts the prevailing scientific consensus. I’ve said this a thousand times in my life – all scientific ideas are provisional. If better evidence is provided, we develop a new consensus.
Unfortunately for Exley, the overwhelming evidence shows us that vaccines are not linked to autism. So claiming that the aluminum adjuvant causes autism when the vaccines do not, is bad science. If we actually saw a link between autism and vaccines, then the aluminum adjuvant hypothesis could be a plausible mechanism. But if you can’t show correlation, let alone causation, ranting about aluminum is a waste of all of our time.
And given the fact that vaccines save lives, which is supported by vast amounts of high-quality evidence, Exley is going about this backward. But that’s because he is using pseudoscience, find evidence to support a conclusion, instead of real science, find the conclusion supported by ALL of the high-quality evidence.
Exley will land on his feet somewhere, supported financially by the anti-vaccine horde. Just like Wakefield and so many others.
- Crépeaux G, Exley C, Shaw CA, Gherardi RK. Letter to the editor. Toxicology. 2017 Sep 1;390:159. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2017.09.010. Epub 2017 Sep 18. Retraction in: Toxicology. 2018 Apr 1;398-399:68. Retraction in: Toxicology. 2018 Dec 1;410:170. PMID: 28928034.
- Lidsky TI. Is the Aluminum Hypothesis dead? J Occup Environ Med. 2014 May;56(5 Suppl):S73-9. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000063. PMID: 24806729; PMCID: PMC4131942.