Sunday, March 12, 2006

María Replies to Mercury FABNAQ

María Luján has written up answers to many of the questions in the Mercury FABNAQ. María notes, however, that she does not believe "autism=mercury poisoning" so she is not responding in that capacity. Her position is known to be moderate, i.e. she apparently believes genetics are involved, as well as 'broadening criteria', in addition to possibly many environmental triggers including mercury from vaccines and the environment. Her responses are discussed.


  1. Considering that the prevalence of epilepsy among autistics is known to be an order of magnitude higher that that of the general population, why is the CDDS-based prevalence of autism rising at a rate of 10% annually (and even higher in the past), whereas the prevalence of epilepsy has always remained at population growth levels?

    [María: Well, I think that the idea of a new kind of ASD without the clinical presentation of epilepsy-but subclinical perhaps- is a possible explanation of this.]

    María accepts that there's a correlation between autism and seizures per various studies. She proposes that the reason epilepsy is stable while autism is undergoing an 'epidemic' is that an epidemic-producing environmental trigger results in a type of autism with no epilepsy liability but only a subclinical seizure liability, but still one considerably more prevalent than that of the general population. Note that this new type of autism resulting from an environmental trigger allows for all levels of severity in other autistic traits, but not in regards to the seizure liability. Further analysis can be found below.

  2. Why is the prevalence of CDDS clients without mental retardation (presumably based on IQ testing) going up quickly?

    [María: I think that this is related to diagnosis criteria , so your broader awareness theory is applicable, at least partially.]

  3. Why is the proportion of autistics with epilepsy going down at an annual rate of -5.5%?

    [María: This seems a confirmation of the answer of 1, as you mentioned in your post about.]

    María's answer regarding epilepsy seems to contradict her admission that a drop in mental retardation is consistent with broadening criteria. I should note that mental retardation among CDDS autistics is dropping even faster than epilepsy. Profound mental retardation, for example, is dropping at a rate of about -9% annually. This suggests that, as the criteria is broadened, mental retardation drops a lot in average, but epilepsy does not drop as much. If an environmental trigger is involved, this would mean that the trigger has a higher epilepsy liability than is normal for autism. This would seem to contradict her theory on the first question. Furthermore, I would argue this makes any epidemic-causing trigger theory impossible.

    In reality mental retardation is probably not an accurate equivalence marker for autism. This is because there's probably a large 'shifting misdiagnosis' component that explains much of the drop. But we could come up with other markers in the data and find that it's hard to reconcile drop in those markers due to broadening criteria to drop in epilepsy due to an environmental trigger.

  4. Considering that close to no thimerosal is going into vaccines nowadays, shouldn't the following be true? (1) The number of autistic clients in the CDDS 3-5 age range should be crashing towards zero. (2) All newly diagnosed autistic children would be those vaccinated with thimerosal (via the Flu vaccine, as Sue likes to point out).

    [María: Only if thimerosal is considered a CAUSE. I would wonder if the symptomatic presentation in severity is the same if I consider as a comorbility . Unfortunately the severity if measured by IQ measurements of verbal skills and I think this is wrong. I am wondering in severity in terms of clinical presentation (GI issues, immune/autoimmune, lack of speech, etc) Because the clinical information is scarce, even if now the tests are going to begin to be done, there would be no enough data to compare, only behavioral symptoms. [Regarding flu vaccine:] Not for me. If thimerosal is removed and thinking in the sum up of a lot of individual presentations with multicausal nature of A+B+C+Â…Z we only erased one insult ( an important one for me) but only one. If we consider that the combination is the key and we maintain all the components of the combination-except one-, I think that a decrease – BUT a little one in TOTAL numbers- would be seen. I wonder about the severity of symptomatology.]

    Fair enough. Let's assume that thimerosal simply worsens symptoms in average or is only causal in a small portion of cases. I'd propose we should still see an anomaly in the numbers. The trends are shifting without any obvious jumps however.

    Also, it's clear broadening criteria is involved. I don't see the need for a second theory that coincidentally happened to also play a simultaneous role.

  5. By what mechanism does mercury poisoning result in savant skills?

    [María: No known mechanism and very improbable cause for me.]

  6. How does mercury poisoning explain the results of Dawson and Mottron? That is, autistics score higher than the norm in the Raven IQ test. But not only this, the gap between the Weschler and Raven tests is totally the inverse (in the other direction) of what it would be in NTs.

    [María: As I told you in other post, I think that there is a component of visual impairment in the analysis of this.]

  7. How does it explain findings by Happe (2001) that parents of autistics have a "cognitive style" (weak central coherence) that can confer information-processing advantages?

    [María: Well, this idea is in conflict with those from Dawson and Mottron, of the enhanced general perception. I think that the idea of implicit learning and enhanced general perception fits more in the findings in ASD. If think that a combination of genetics + adaptative behavior to overcome sensory integration problems can be part of the explanation of the proposed ideas.]

    Sure. The interpretations are in conflict. The question is more about the test results themselves, not about the interpretations of the authors.

  8. How does mercury poisoning produce significant grey and white matter volume differences in infancy?

    [María: From Martha Herbert White matter is 28 % of total brain volume but contributes 65 % to the volume increase in autism. White matter enlargement is radiate, not deep or sagital. The increased WM volume is in areas that myelinate later. Radiate white matter myelinates late in first year and into second year. Characteristics. Cortical assymetry and model of disordered information processing. There is no enough information to discard some mechanism of environmental insult+genetics in this case.]

    Correct. This question is not meant to discount all possible environmental triggers, just vaccines.

  9. How does mercury poisoning produce increased neuron density and smaller neurons?

    [María: I do not include the link because is long and did not work when I tried. Please let me know if you want the full abstract.]

    Sure. But it would be similar to the question above.

  10. Why do you start chelation therapy without first testing for heavy metal poisoning?

    [María: This is not true for me. Unfortunately, the way I discovered my son´s poisoning has not been studied/reported to be discussed based on scientific reports. There are no reported studies about so it is anecdotic ( although I know of many other children from my country,( from different cities and labs)) that showed the same. I agree that only after careful, safe and adequate testing a procedure of chelation can be evaluated, not as treatment of ASD, but of HM poisoning and not more than this.]

  11. If you have tested your child, did you use a local reputable lab or an internet lab? Did you send a control sample to verify their tests are valid?

    [María: Local reputable lab. 2 control samples- and repeated]

    María obviously does her homework, unlike other known bloggers. She's probably the exception. It would be of interest to know what the results were if she does not mind. I am also curious if the child had symptoms atypical of autism.

  12. Is there controlled evidence that chelation therapy is an effective treatment for autism?

    [María: Chelation for me is treatment for HM poisoning. To propose other thing does not seem ethic for me.]

  13. Is there controlled evidence that chelation therapy is a safe treatment for the duration you're planning to follow it?

    [María: For the particular I choose, there is enough evidence of safe use, at my criteria.]

  14. Are you following medical guidelines as to the proper duration of chelation therapy?

    [María: Totally. Several doctors involved.]

  15. What is the mercury-based genetic model that explains a 60% concordance for classic autism in identical twins, but a much lower concordance (2%-4%) in siblings and fraternal twins?

    [María: This is a strong point to genetics.]

  16. How does mercury poisoning explain a higher proportion of scientists and engineers as close relatives of autistics?

    [María: Again, genetics.]

  17. How does mercury poisoning explain some of the alleles which have been linked to autism? GABA, SERT, etc.

    [María: Genetics/epigenetics/ is very important for me in autism.]

  18. Given that autism is more heritable than personality, intelligence, homosexuality and left-handedness, would you say these other variations in human behavior are, too, caused by pathological environmental triggers such as mercury poisoning?

    [María: Absolutely no.]

    I'd suggest studying them as if they were. That's what's done with autism.

  19. If you believe that autism did not exist before the 1940s, do you also believe that Down's Syndrome did not exist before 1862, that Fragile-X syndrome did not exist before 1943, and that Rett Syndrome did not exist before 1966?

    [María: No. I think that ASD has been with us in genetics terms from long time ago, the same with the other conditions you mentioned. In the case of ASD, I think that before the introduction of vaccines and other potential problems for susceptible children (antibiotics, chemicals, additives, HM) the genetics and immune/autoimmune presentation based on herpes/strep/bacterian/ viruses infections (combined) was the more common. After the introduction of vaccines and antibiotics, etc, to the burden of the immune system, the burden of HM and other allergens was sum up and then the number of ASD and the severity of symptoms in many of them increase in time. Also the increase of chemical burden, environmental pollution and stress in mother/health of mother during pregnacy has impact.]

    So you don't believe autism can occur naturally at current prevalence levels? Why not? What are the limits of natural behavioral variation in humans?

  20. Do you realize that a prevalence of 1 in 166 today (which includes Asperger's syndrome) cannot be compared to a 1970s or 1980s prevalence?

    [María: Yes, diagnosis criteria were different.]

  21. Do you understand why anecdotal accounts do not prove an argument?

    [María: Yes, but the fact that my son is anecdote for science does not imply nothing at his individual level. I have the duty and the right to give him the best treatment I can get. I can not present HIS case as an argument, what is different, or extrapolate situations.]

    Absolutely. You are correct to believe that generalizations may not apply at the individual level, and that's why it's advisable to carry out medical tests. In particular, generalizing "autism=mercury poisoning" is not only erroneous, but dangerous.

  22. (Per Jennifer I believe:) If autistics are unable to excrete mercury, wouldn't regular intake of mercury from the environment be enough to kill autistics over time?

    [María: Well, I think that we must diferentiate the kind and road of exposure-ingestion, inhalation and injection and the kind of compound-in fish, metallic or as thimerosal in the case of mercury. Let´s go to accept for a moment that SOME asd children can not excrete heavy metals ( and others). So they bioaccumulate Hg. Some mercury is breathen so we can suppose is metallic- Hg is ubiquous in air and ingresed at 0,3 to 1,5 ug/day for an adult and 0,1 to 0,5 per day for a child (and excreted, given in stool for example for a child 0,01 to 0,05 (maximum, considering a very industrialized zone)-from a report of air quality. However, there can be other routes of exposure that you must check to have a real baseline. First, from when? One question about from me is which is the mechanism of hindering of excretion. Since birth? If we imagine that vaccines are a trigger of this hindering- a possibility- then the situation can be present since HepB vaccine -depending on individual. From fish consumption, is considered to be Hg bonded to proteins in fish. Hg ingested. From vaccines, injected as thimerosal. Therefore there is the problem of increased bolus amount with vaccines and after this the lower daily amount breathened and the occasional amount ingested as fish-if any. Development brings change in all the systems, even in altered systems like in ASD-and it is known that development in many cases involves improvement in autism. How do we know if, depending of the child and the burden to the detox/immune system, IF he /she is HM poisoned, time brings natural excretion? Beyond the Hg from vaccines, how do we know at an individual level the impact in different organs and system of the bioaccumulation not only of Hg but also of Pb, Al, Cd etc? How do we know how each child can manage in time the supposed toxic load he/she can have?]

    This is more of an issue with thimerosal. You might have a point with other types of exposure. With vaccines, I think you get a total of 130 micrograms of mercury. From your numbers, you'd get 130 micrograms in 1-4 years just from a normal environment, assuming you can't excrete. So you either can't excrete, and your body is always accumulating mercury making you more and more sick. Or you can excrete, and your body easily gets rid of all the mercury from the thimerosal in short order. People with dental amalgams are able to excrete about 30 micrograms per day I believe.

  23. Why are the following symptoms of heavy metal poisoning not characteristic of autism? Headaches, cold hands and feet, vertigo, inability to focus vision, joint and muscle pains, weak pulse, hard pulse, bleeding gums, blisters, tooth ache, jaw inflammation, metallic taste in mouth, loosening of teeth, persistent cough, irregular breathing, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, subnormal temperature, excessive perspiration, chest pain, changes in blood pressure, etc.

    [María: My question is how a child that is not verbal /low comunication skills can communicate many of this kind of symptoms-except the obvious for the arent:loosening of teeth, cold hands and feet and excessive perspiration? Inability to focus vision? Can not be related to lack of eye contact? Joint and muscle pains? Can not be related to hypotonia? Irregular breathing? Has been reported in autism-Dental problems have been reported in ASD children. What defines the characteristics of autism?DSMIV does not include anything about other things than behavior.]

    The reason I listed those is that I don't believe they are characteristic in autistic adults. The characteristics of mercury poisoning are such that the person would not appear healthy. This cannot be generalized to autistics. And no, lack of eye contact is not related to inability to focus - trust me.

19 comments:

  1. First of all, thank you for your consideration about the discussion of my answers, the space on your blog and your time. More than replies, these were comments.
    You say
    María's answer regarding epilepsy seems to contradict her admission that a drop in mental retardation is consistent with broadening criteria. I should note that mental retardation among CDDS autistics is dropping even faster than epilepsy. Profound mental retardation, for example, is dropping at a rate of about -9% annually. This suggests that, as the criteria is broadened, mental retardation drops a lot in average, but epilepsy does not drop as much. If an environmental trigger is involved, this would mean that the trigger has a higher epilepsy liability than is normal for autism. This would seem to contradict her theory on the first question. Furthermore, I would argue this makes any epidemic-causing trigger theory impossible.

    Sorry, Joseph, perhaps I was not clear enough to explain my position about.
    Please note that I consider this a possibility. Let me explain better.
    Autism, Epilepsy and Mental Retardation are all different.
    Some children with autism present epilepsy.
    Some children with autism present Mental retardation.
    Many children with epilepsy have neither autism or mental retardation
    And also the other possibilities.
    Because all these conditions depend on diagnosis criteria, I do think that your theory of broader awareness and also change of diagnostic can be taking place.

    Therefore I consider several factors in these 3 questions
    1- Not one, but several environmental triggers depending on individual, besides individual genetics
    2- Broader diagnosis criteria collaborating
    3- Change of diagnosis from mental retardation to autism, at least partially

    You say
    In reality mental retardation is probably not an accurate equivalence marker for autism. This is because there's probably a large 'shifting misdiagnosis' component that explains much of the drop. But we could come up with other markers in the data and find that it's hard to reconcile drop in those markers due to broadening criteria to drop in epilepsy due to an environmental trigger.

    The point is that I think that another component can be also involved, beyond a new kind of presentation of ASD with subclinical epilepsy, change of diagnosis from MR to autism and also one/several environmental triggers –at an individual level- to explain these numbers, that for me are confusing.
    As conclussion, I do not see that these numbers can be explained satisfactorily FOR NOW. Perhaps another point , that I personally can not see, is influencing these reports.
    Thank you for allow me to complete the idea.

    You say
    Fair enough. Let's assume that thimerosal simply worsens symptoms in average or is only causal in a small portion of cases. I'd propose we should still see an anomaly in the numbers. The trends are shifting without any obvious jumps however.

    Also, it's clear broadening criteria is involved. I don't see the need for a second theory that coincidentally happened to also play a simultaneous role.

    Because thimerosal is only ONE of, for me,MANY, the anomaly would be present only if thimerosal was the ONLY one. Again I think that not only one, but many, are involved.
    Joseph, probably to explain numbers you do not need more than braodening criteria, but I do think this is very important to understand the clinical findings and comorbilities ´s treatments. The numbers tell you nothing about the comorbitilies.

    You say
    María obviously does her homework, unlike other known bloggers. She's probably the exception. It would be of interest to know what the results were if she does not mind. I am also curious if the child had symptoms atypical of autism.

    Joseph, because of privacy I do not use to discuss details of medical tests from my son, publicly. If you want, I will be glad to contact you by e-mail to discuss the particular tests in details. You can find my e-mail in Kev´s forum. My son´s symptoms fitted almost all the DSMI V criteria. Only lack of emotional attachment was not present.

    You say
    So you don't believe autism can occur naturally at current prevalence levels? Why not? What are the limits of natural behavioral variation in humans?

    I think that Human beings can be totally diverse in behavioral natural variation. I respect this. In some way, we are all the result of our particular combination of genetics and environment (including for me all the phsycological and developmental aspects related to the love we received during our life, the opportunities we have to access to certain life conditions and access to education: personal circunstancies). For me , to understand autism implies evolution in ideas when I research more and more and can be in contact with other people´s ideas and feelings, including Autistic people. I consider the oportunity to know and exchange ideas with adults with ASD in a productive way a privilege.
    I think that for a portion of people that is diagnosed under the DSMIV, such as some cases of Asperger considered “high functioning”, the need of labelling conducts for some pshychological schools pointed as otherwise a different way to see the world as problematic or pathological, can be in the limits of the natural behavioral variation. However, and discussing my own idea, we do not know enough about the neurobiological roots of behavior to know TODAY if an imbalance is present or a comorbility can be present that can make more difficult life for them and be part of the behaviors. For example, depression has been published to be more common in Asperger and autism. But also depression is present in NT people. I do think that the genetics conditions many things but not all, and for those things that can be result of the epigenetics or genes expression with the impact of environment that can make the life unpleaseant in some aspects, PERHAPS some amelioration can be considered at an individual level. I do not like how doctors tell “it is the autism” and denying searching of real physical problems when they look at ASD patients-children, teens or adults- ( obviously considering them comorbilities to the autism, not CAUSES of ).
    I can say you that I am considered for my son´s neurologist a Productive hyperactive with a touch of attention defficit. I have been never diagnosed and I can see symptoms since my childhood now.

    You say
    This is more of an issue with thimerosal. You might have a point with other types of exposure. With vaccines, I think you get a total of 130 micrograms of mercury. From your numbers, you'd get 130 micrograms in 1-4 years just from a normal environment, assuming you can't excrete. So you either can't excrete, and your body is always accumulating mercury making you more and more sick. Or you can excrete, and your body easily gets rid of all the mercury from the thimerosal in short order. People with dental amalgams are able to excrete about 30 micrograms per day I believe.

    Joseph, yes, my view considers many sources.
    With vaccines, my son received, up to the 1.5 years and considering the HepB vaccine- with thimerosal- at 15 days-, a total of 175 mcgs- Remember Ilive outside EEUU- and this was because I did not vaccinate against flu. With flu (2 doses), it would reach 225 mcgs. Remember that also vaccines includes Al as sulphate and hydroxide (0.12 to 0.85 mg/ml each).
    About dental amalgams
    References from

    Effects of Hg in health
    http://www.vaccinationnews.com
    /DailyNews/August2002/
    MercuryExposureLevels25.htm
    (remember please to include all in the web link)
    with 531 references.
    You can read here about studies on excretion in people with dental amalgams, tests, and others.
    Although I do not agree how sometimes the author consider as facts things that need further studies, the amount of literature commented is impressive.
    Excretion levels depends on individual, and the same as impact in health.

    Please let me know your opinion
    Glad to exchange ideas with you,
    María Luján

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  2. Did you see my posting on regional differences? That pretty much discounts epidemic-causing triggers for me. It shows that criteria differences can be huge just based on where you live.

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  3. Hi Joseph
    I read it and I consider it an excellent work as a presentation of ideas from you.
    Let me explain my ideas about.
    For one side we have the real causes of ASD, many of them probably unknown today because we only have a lot of clues about them. The sum up of individualities -with the comorbilities that can be present, including epilepsy, mental retardation, others- implies the real numbers of ASD, for a region or a country.
    For the other side we have the reported numbers of ASD diagnosed cases, under the behavioral symptoms only.
    Without clinical information about ASD patients, how do we know about one/several environmental triggers and how their impact changed in time or from region to region? Because they are not today clearly identified, how do we know about the differences between one region to another in terms of clinical presentation?
    Not only the numbers can be different from region to region or from country to country, but also the clinical underlying comorbilities, even beyond epilepsy or mental retardation,-related to environmental triggers-different from region to region-, that can/can not be affecting the behaviors that are used to diagnose ASD.
    However, the theory of broadening criteria, involves all these impacts. I think it gives us information about how we diagnosed more and why reported numbers are higher but it can not be given information related to what causes ASD in general. Because for some ASD patients, besides genetics, many environmental triggers are involved for me at an individual level- and possibly different- it is very difficult for me to find clear correlations to environmental triggers-because they are many, different for subgroups and in combination-, but the analysis of numbers of reported ASD -only- can not ruled them out.
    María Luján

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  4. Right, MR and epilepsy are not super accurate markers of equivalence, but I feel they are pretty good - epilepsy more than MR, because MR is not as objective and suffers from a misdiagnosis issue and probably from an underreporting issue in rural areas.

    Autism is not 100% heritable, that's for sure. However, I've found no behavior is. I think the same kind of factors in determining someone's intelligence or personality can affect how autistic someone ends up being. In a small portion of cases I guess these could be injuries, poisons or viruses, but in general I tend to think it has more to do with every day life experience.

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  5. Joseph;
    You don't know what the hell you're talking about.

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  6. Joseph;
    You don't know what the hell you're talking about.


    John, is that you? "Hating sanity" - very funny.

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  7. Kev
    Joseph knows what he is talking about, for me. It is very unfortunate the way you have to show disagreement in my opinion. Surely, he can defend himself pretty well, but I never want/wanted that my words can be used by others to make personal attacks, whatever the "side". I can´t avoid it, but can complain in the name of the correct, productive and fair exchange of ideas.

    Joseph
    When you say
    I think the same kind of factors in determining someone's intelligence or personality can affect how autistic someone ends up being. In a small portion of cases I guess these could be injuries, poisons or viruses, but in general I tend to think it has more to do with every day life experience.

    you are right in terms of the importance of tons of love and support and understanding. But unfortunately all these can not overcome physical immune/endocrine/autoiimune/GI/others problems that can be present. My difference with you is that I am not sure that the relative proportion is so small.I think that the number is important.We need further studies to stablish the presence of subgroups in ASD-based on clinical studies-, beyond the problems of the wide spectrum-that seems every day wider-under DSMIV.Here, safe and adequate testing in serious and trustable labs seems the key.

    María Luján

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  8. Kev
    Joseph knows what he is talking about, for me.


    That's not Kev. After you click on the name, it's pretty easy to guess who it is.

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  9. Hi Joseph
    I think he is not Kevin, but Kev (Champagne)-sorry if you are not.
    I have had a previous experience of this kind with him (if it is him) - similar-in Kevin´s blog.
    María Luján

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. I see John has a new interest :o)

    Should I be flattered or scared? I'm thinking flattered.

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  12. Kev

    If you need clarification, I am talking about your ex-abrupt when I was talking with Mrs Clark in Kevin´s blog near 2 months ago.

    In this kind of situations, specially with gentlemen from other cultures I will let your words to speak by themselves about you.

    If you make this kind of comments, you will receive no answer from me, now and never.

    María Luján

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  13. María, I removed the impostor's comment. You know which one I'm talking about.

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  14. Joseph
    Thank you.
    Yes, I have an idea.
    María Luján

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  15. Joseph;
    Why you delete my comment? My old lady told me if I quit the LSD I could get something on the side. She might even let me have a threesome.

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  16. To the Real Kev:
    "Should I be flattered or scared?"

    You've got a lot of water between you two to be too scared (yeah, I did it - all forms of the sound "2" in one sentence).

    Mark it 8 Dude. - Smokey

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  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  19. Removed one more inappropriate comment from impostor.

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