Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Simpsonwood redux: Isolation is a state of mind

In the comments of Skeptico's takedown of RFK Jr.'s distorted and one-sided description of the Simpsonwood Conference on the postulated link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism, David Schmitt made my day yesterday. As you may recall, JFK Jr. started his article out with this ominous-sounding introduction:
In June 2000, a group of top government scientists and health officials gathered for a meeting at the isolated Simpsonwood conference center in Norcross, Ga. Convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the meeting was held at this Methodist retreat center, nestled in wooded farmland next to the Chattahoochee River, to ensure complete secrecy.
Fortunately, David Schmitt lives not too far from Norcross and Simpsonwood, and was willing to point out yet more support for RFK Jr.'s distortions in the comment section of Skeptico's piece:
And for a visual look at the retreat center "nestled in the wooded farmland next to the Chattahoochee River", look here.

(zoom in and click on the Satellite link)

I live near this place, and it's smack in the middle of the suburban "sprawl" that environmentalists like Kennedy are constantly criticizing.
To me, it looks as though the conference center is located in an area that's pretty densely built up. It also looks as though it's surrounded by multiple subdivisions in suburban Atlanta, complete with the usual cul-de-sacs and winding streets, as any quick search using Google Maps, Mapquest, or Mapblast would have shown. The satellite picture in Google Maps just makes it all that much more obvious.

I guess "isolation" is a state of RFK Jr.'s mind. Of course, the real reason Simpsonwood was chosen was not to "ensure complete secrecy," but rather because a huge computer conference was in Atlanta at the same time, and Simpsonwood was the only facility that had space on such short notice.

On the other hand, to be fair, the Simpsonwood website does have lots of bucolic pictures, with deer and walking trails; so maybe it's similar to some of those large office complexes you often see in outer suburbs that have nice wooded grounds around them but are surrounded on all sides by suburban sprawl. We have many complexes like that around where I live, some of which are corporate facilities. Too bad this didn't come up before my trip to Atlanta three months ago. I might have been able to cruise up there to check the center out for myself.

In any case, I've made my way through more of the Simpsonwood transcript, and I've yet to find evidence of the coverup RFK Jr. insinuated. It also looks as though Majikthise is also making the painful slog through the 11 MB and 286 pages. I look forward to seeing what she has to say.

4 example(s) of insolence returned:

At 6/22/2005 2:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anyone else *horrified* by the part that the
United Methodist Church
(owner of the Simpsonwood retreat and conference center)
played in this plot to destroy our...


um, never mind,

(reaches for tinfoil hat)


At 6/23/2005 2:59 AM, Anonymous HCN said...

This has nothing to do with the main topic...

I once read a real estate ad for an over priced spec house built not far from where my kids played soccer (I drove by it once a week or so). The description claimed that the back yard backed onto a "lovely wooded area"... the back bordered on a the parking lot of a small research center (near a university, not far from downtown)... it just happened to have trees planted near the fence. The funny thing was that the photo of the kitchen/nook/family room in the back of the house clearly showed the asphalt with painted parking lines through the windows (and trees).


At 7/21/2005 9:59 AM, Anonymous CurtCameron said...

If you look at the Simpsonwood web site, at the property layout page, it shows their property being adjacent to the Chattahoochee River. I think Google Maps misplaced the marker for the facility. According to their web page, the road into the compound comes off Jones Bridge Circle (not Jones Bridge Road). It's hard to reconcile the Google map with the property map, but I think it might be here: http://tinyurl.com/8n9kw

The marker Google places is about a mile away, and is apparently in someone's back yard. Not quite my idea of a retreat and conference center, but the place I highlighted above looks *very* nice.


At 7/21/2005 10:05 AM, Anonymous CurtCameron said...

Oops, that Google link scrolls back to the Google marker. Try this instead: http://tinyurl.com/8a2au


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