The right wing media usually makes the most egregiously false claims about science, but I have to confess…on many science subjects, the lefty media is about as bad. I cringe when I see anything about the autism scares in print from either side, and Robert Kennedy Jr’s credibility went poof for me when I saw him peddling absurd terror tactics about thimerosal. So I was pleasantly surprised at this article on Salon that pulls no punches. It slams David Kirby and Andrew Wakefield hard.
It was pleasing to see, for a change.
Sven DiMilo says
It’s a book review–the uncompromising slam ought to be credited to the book’s author, one Dr. Paul A. Offit, not Salon.
I did a post about autism a couple of months ago and found out to my surprise that there are people who advocate against finding a cure for this disease.
Excellent article, and I’ve read a lot of praise for the book.
I’ve been following the anti-vax crap on Orac’s Respectful Insolence for several years now, and it’s fueled by a lot of the same arrogance and ignorance you see in creationism (and religion in general.) The term “Mommy Instinct” was coined to describe the belief that moms and dads and just plain folk can just know when scientists are wrong — because they can feel truth with their intuition, their sensitive connection to people. Add that touching trust in the power of gut-instinct to conspiracy thinking and a crusading spirit, and you’ve got a belief that’s impervious to reason.
Robert Kennedy isn’t the only well-known figure from the “left” to fall for this. Add in atheists Lance Armstrong, and Bill Maher. People are a mixed bag, but it’s frustrating when people I otherwise admire demonstrate some very dumb reasoning skills. Their general credibility is now suspect.
If you’re going to go against mainstream science and the overwhelming consensus of experts in fields you are not an expert in yourself, you better damn well be cautious and keep in mind that you’re probably wrong. Even if you are an expert, you are probably wrong. And knock off with the crusader Mommy Instinct crap.
S. Scott said “I did a post about autism a couple of months ago and found out to my surprise that there are people who advocate against finding a cure for this disease.”
Only by those who are clueless. Mostly it is a backlash against experimenting on children. These “cures” have included pushing chelators in kids, mega-vitamin shots, hyperbaric chambers, intensive therapies that are expensive and time consumming with little science or results and on and on. For more information try the blogs at:
http://www.autism-hub.co.uk/ (pay close attention to the blog mentioned in that article, Neurodiversity blog, especialy with the latest “cure” called OSR).
For another look into the subject read Elizabeth Moon’s book “Speed of Dark”, a science fiction novel from a parent of a kid with autism. Check out her essays on it:
Wow. “Throwing a cracker in the trash.” “Developing a vaccine for rotavirus.” I’m seeing a recurring theme here. Namely, stupid people threatening to kill someone over something trivial and, in the latter case, beneficial.
John C. Randolph says
here are people who advocate against finding a cure for this disease.
WTF? Why in the world would anyone want someone to be autistic?
The degree of delusion is astonishing,in people threatening the guy (and his family) who helped developed a vaccine against one of the main diseases that makes your kids sick at a young age,Rotavirus gastro.
Trying not to open the whole anti-vaccine/autism can of worms here,but I can somehow understand that if you are the parent of a child that is just,and for no visible apparent reason,so different than all the other kids,you probably need some sort of explanation,and want to be able to blame someone for the fate of your kid,and thats where the vaccines come in,and the whole thing gets orchestrated by a bunch of media-exhibitionist whackaloons who have their own shrewd agenda.
Its all rather sad.
Thanks for linking this article… it’s nice to see some sanity on the subject.
It’s not a “disease” in the sense that can be “cured,” stupid. It’s a pervasive difference in the pattern and arrangement of neurological wiring of affected individuals which makes it difficult for them to interact with neurotypicals and to navigate the invisible labyrinth of unwritten rules that neurotypicals have seen fit to construct.
Think of it this way: autistic kids, and people with other ASDs…they’re like computers running with a different processor architecture than most people are accustomed to.
You ever encountered a computer where you could install a new processor without having to shut it down and turn it back on again?
You ever hear of anyone managing to turn one of these “computers” back on again?
All available research suggests that the only way to “cure” autism would be to either completely restructure the patient’s brain at the cellular level, or rewind their development to some indeterminate point between meiosis and birth and correct some genetic or embyronic factor, then fast-forward again. Either of these would destroy the person you were experimenting on.
If you actually gave a shit about autistic kids, you’d support programs like ABA that serve to teach them the skills and habits they need to function in “normal” society in a fashion their differently-wired brains can actually comprehend. But apparently the actual well-being of children is less important to you fuckers than being “right” and “sticking it to the man.”
Stephen Couchman says
@ S. Scott, jcr:
I don’t claim to fully understand the mentality, but a similar claim is put forward by many sufferers of conditions that are emotionally and physically difficult to adjust to — it’s easier to stay sick and resigned than to hope for a cure and re-adjust to a more functional way of life. If you’re interested, look for a documentary about paraplegic athletes called Murderball; all the principles espouse this attitude toward their impairments.
Benjamin Geiger says
Azkyroth: At least they’re not encouraging prenatal screenings, a la Cure Autism Now. Prenatal screenings can have only one logical result…
Stephen Couchman says
Nonetheless, let’s keep in mind that anti-science ideas don’t have nearly the same degree of currency on the left. True, alternative medicine (with related anti-vaccination beliefs), and new age beliefs (with their idiotic take on quantum mechanics) hold some sway… but its not remotely as prevalent as creationism or global warming denial on the right. Also, anti-MMR vaccine positions had a veneer of respectability for a time, what with the publication in Lancet.
I think the left is wary that dangerous drugs will be improperly approved by the FDA. It’s a reasonable concern. It happens a lot.
Huh. I just reread the comment I typed above and then went and compared it to a comment with a similar gist that I posted on Orac’s blog back in April.
I think the bastards ARE grinding me down. :(
Just, wow. Totally uncalled for. Where does this over the top hostility come from? What am I missing? The world really is a nicer place when you at least start out being civil before going full bore.
Burrow Owl says
S. Scott said “I did a post about autism a couple of months ago and found out to my surprise that there are people who advocate against finding a cure for this disease.”
To which HCN replied: “Only by those who are clueless. Mostly it is a backlash against experimenting on children.”
Ahh…. nothing like painting the issue with an unecessarily broad brush.
From my personal experiences (as someone who falls well within the autistic spectrum), I have mixed feelings as to whether or not autism can be properly classified as a disease- much less one which needs to be eradicated.
Having a brain wired in such a way as to enable oneself to easily step away from the herd and think outside of the box has some very definite advantages.
As the comment I linked to in my follow-up illustrates, I DID start out being civil the first time I’ve dealt with the “cure autism!” idiocy. Are you contending that willful obtuseness and disregard for both the facts and the best interests of children with disabilities are not contemptible?
Azy, please don’t scream at me. I don’t think I did anything to deserve it. I’m not contending anything. All I saw was you immediately call Scott “stupid” and a “fucker.” Is there something I’m missing? Did you have an argument with him before that others may not be aware of? If so, you need to please understand that others here (like me), can’t necessarily know that.
But if you’re focusing your exasperation on Scott for the first time because it’s left over from a tiresome battle with others, it’s still not fair. But again, I don’t know. I’m not your enemy. I hope when you cool down you won’t be so quick to lash out at people that don’t mean you any disrespect.
PBS is having a poll on whether Palin is qualified to be vice-president. Please participate.
Perhaps you’re right, but it’s not as though the fact that the assumptions about what autism even is underlying the “cure it!” position are weapons-grade wrong isn’t well-known to everyone who doesn’t have an emotional or financial stake in the opposite answer and a serious dearth of intellectual honesty.
And yeah, it gets a little bit tiresome seeing a group that includes my daughter discussed like broken products to be fixed rather than people to be helped, and “cure autism!” positions invariably seem to lead into that.
JohnnieCanuck, FCD says
I think your hypothesis that the brain is capable of being wired differently may well be the case. You may also be right that by the time a diagnosis is made the process is irreversible. If a means of detecting and correcting the problem at some early stage should ever come out of research into the cause, I presume it would be worth debating at that time whether or not to proceed with the development of the cure.
Now what on earth has your tail in such a knot that you can’t see straight? Nothing S. Scott said deserved that outburst. If your #14 was supposed to be an apology, try again.
The most charitable speculation I can produce, is that Autism has deeply affected your family and you are close to a break down.
They’re not well-known to me. Just because everyone isn’t in your situation, and doesn’t know it from your side, is no excuse to come in and call them fuckers. I had no idea what your perspective was – although I suspected, I see rightly, that it comes from personal experience – because you didn’t bother to explain it. Like most people here, I’m willing to be educated. But the quickest way to make an enemy is to come charging in, assume the worst of other people, spew profanity at them, and then act indignant that they didn’t anticipate your hair-trigger sensitivity.
I can well imagine how it must feel from your position, now that you’ve disclosed it. But your personal family trials don’t give you a get-out-of-normal-civilized-discourse-free card. What you did was just plain assholish. We all have our own burdens too; you’re not special in that regard. Everybody has a bad day, but it sounds like you need to get a good night’s sleep. People aren’t automatically your enemy, but you’re very good at turning them into your enemy. I don’t think you mean to do that, but please try to understand how you come off. Most commenters here are people of good will. We like to learn things, and we’re willing to have our ignorance cured. But we’re not willing to be treated like shit because someone thinks they have an emotional excuse to do so.
John C. Randolph says
Azy, please don’t scream at me. I don’t think I did anything to deserve it.
It would seem that Azkyroth’s coping mechanism is to lash out at anyone who expresses an opinion he doesn’t like. I don’t take it personally when he does it to me, since I have no reason to value his opinion in the first place.
First, I can’t seem to recall your username offhand, which I usually can of regular commenters, and have been commenting on this blog for several years, thus your adoption of an “in group talking to out group” tone and purporting to speak for the commenters on this blog seems a bit questionable.
Second, while it may not be an excuse, I think the distinction between “hyperactive sense of pattern recognition coupled to a quick draw” and “taking it out on random people in the vicinity” is one worth making.
Third, what you wrote about invective is equally true of patronization.
Beyond that, you’re mostly correct and I’ll back off. (Unless John Worst shows up here.)
And so it begins……
I dont know why,but somehow all Autism discussions end in personal insults and general mayhem,I can only assume it is because of the emotional involvement of the participants,but as stated above,that should really not be an excuse to fling insults at each other.
Back to the thread title then maybe : Critical thinking on the left.Well,looking at the Democrats and lefty media outlets,Im sure there is critical thinking there,its just that I dont hear anything !! They think,but they dont speak,they are silent on the pressing issues,on Palin,on McCains maverick bullshit,his lies etc.
And hey,regarding Salon,I really think its not so bad,been some really good stuff there lately IMO,why is everyone saying its gone downhill?
Azk. . I didn’t realize I had to be familiar to you to make any statements about the commenters here. I may be a lurker, but I’m a longtime reader. But that’s irrelevant. I didn’t patronize you – I tried to be as polite as possible and explain my position, although yes, I did get rightly irritated as you kept defending your mean behavior. And it is just plain mean. Why can’t you just say “I’m sorry” and let everybody start over? I can have a hot temper myself, so I understand. But really, know when to just stop rationalizing your behavior and just admit you had a nasty moment.
JoshS said “Just, wow. Totally uncalled for. Where does this over the top hostility come from? What am I missing?”
It comes from years of dealing with people who say things like this: “Death may be better than autism in some cases…”, see http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=1355
Also, in response to Burrow Owl who said “Ahh…. nothing like painting the issue with an unecessarily broad brush.”
I did not mean to paint everything in a broad brush. I believe the statement from someone who says that there are those “who do not want to cure autism” is painting with a broad brush.
Though you followed with “From my personal experiences (as someone who falls well within the autistic spectrum), I have mixed feelings as to whether or not autism can be properly classified as a disease- much less one which needs to be eradicated.
Having a brain wired in such a way as to enable oneself to easily step away from the herd and think outside of the box has some very definite advantages.”
So I am thinking you were not really directing the statement at me, and perhaps you may have similar issues to what has happened in the search for a “cure” (and you may also enjoy Elizabeth Moon’s book, which explores exactly the points you mentioned).
My problems with some of the curebies and antivax folks is that they are putting children at risk. My son was put at risk for the reduction of herd immunity in a disease that he had a medical reason for not getting the vaccine for.
My other issue is the pushing of “cures” for kids with autism and others (like mine, and those with Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and others) is that they are expensive, unproven and sometimes very dangerous.
Good reading on the desperation of parents is “No Time for Jello” by Berneen Bratt. Her son has cerebral palsy and they tried Glenn Doman’s center in Pennsylvania for a while. She tells of there journeys there, creating a treatment center in their home, the hours involved and at the end of the book she details the what the science actually says (it doesn’t work).
Roy Kerry killed a kid who was being chelated just because he was autistic. One of the kids in Wakefield’s study had his colon perforated several times during the invasive procedure to find measles in the gut. Parents are being sold these “cures” at high prices, most are pure quackery and may be harmful (like the a more recent proposed “industrial treatment, see http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/169/ )
Sastra needs to write more.
I understand why people would be upset and feel worn down being in that position. That’s irrelevant. My only objection was to someone coming in here and screaming profanities at people who didn’t do anything to deserve it. That’s not OK, no matter how emotionally wound up one is. I have my problems too, as does everyone else.
It’s also not productive. I’m pretty soundly turned off to hearing Azk’s perspective on anything after that self-righteous tirade. Rationalizing bad behavior and appealing to one’s emotional involvement only compounds the insult.
There are a lot of ill-meaning interests out there to fight. I’d much rather do that than get caught up in rude, uncivilized bitching and name-calling. It’s really disheartening when there are a lot of people out there who really deserve to be taken on as adversaries. People like me and S. Scott aren’t among them. If folks want support for a good cause, I’m happy to lend it, and learn from them. But the way to get me there isn’t a verbal slapping around. Isn’t this just common ordinary manners?
Don’t forget that there are a lot of lurkers and occasional commenters here who also have developed a familiarity with the blog and its regular commenters, and feel like part of the family! And I for one was surprised to see you rip the tongue out of a well intentioned if ill-informed person and shove it down their throat.
That being said, I totally accept that you have got to this point for very real reasons and that it is difficult to always be patient and go back to square one of the discussion.
As a virtually pedantic point, talking to me as if it’s a group I’m not part of or familiar with is kind of out of place.
Who said I was defending it? Explaining and defending are different things. :/
As I have demonstrated, the “cure it!” movement contains individuals for whom that level of anger is completely appropriate. I have already acknowledged that my response was, even in the worst case, premature.
I more or less did. I thought.
Fine, I’m sorry for snapping at S. Scott (JCR’s own bit of conclusion-jumping and hasty generalization above exempts him, even if it was condescending rather than angry).
At #4 HCN wrote:
S. Scott said “I did a post about autism a couple of months ago and found out to my surprise that there are people who advocate against finding a cure for this disease.”
Only by those who are clueless. Mostly it is a backlash against experimenting on children.
There are some individuals in the various disability communities who view their disability not as something that needs to be “fixed” or cured, but merely a difference (or, in some cases, even a “gift”) that should be understood and, when necessary, accommodated.
See, for example, the video “In My Language” by a young woman with autism.
The video is sometimes difficult to watch, but I found it fascinating.
John C. Randolph says
JCR’s own bit of conclusion-jumping and hasty generalization above exempts him, even if it was condescending rather than angry
Heh. You’re complaining about condescension? That’s rich.
I know very little about raising a child with autism. I know a lot about raising a deaf child. There was a time when there was hope that an operation could restore some hearing. Sadly, that option went nowhere.
What I do remember was some clearly bizarre advice about such operations representing cultural intolerance to ‘deaf culture’, and that deafness wasn’t a disability, just different. A few people got quite upset over it. Deep down I suspect the motivation is one of pure fear. If the numbers of deaf people dwindle, then the cultural support for deafness on both funding and understanding might also dwindle.
Azkyroth’s emotional attitude is very reminiscent of these people. I have not the background knowledge to comment on whether or not autism could be ‘cured’, but I do know that deafness was once the same. And then, for some people, it wasn’t.
Being a parent of a disabled child (no, not different, disabled) does not empower that parent with special insight.
On the other hand, money earmarked for research has to be spent somewhere. If you don’t want the money going to autism cures, I should probably support that. I’d be more than happy to recommend some groups that are researching deafness.
I wish we were all autistic, because then this potentially interesting thread wouldn’t haven’t gotten derailed by people arguing about whether their feelings were hurt or they hurt the feelings of others.
In my personal experience (for what that’s worth), some on the left can be particularly fond of new-agey and “natural” woo.
Despite scientific evidence, they tend to reject well-accepted medical practices, and long for a return to a closer relationship with nature, and therefore, more “natural” ways of living.
So they embrace the use of things like “all-natural, chemical free [sic] supplements”, Tibetan singing bowls, crystals, and other “holistic” health products.
They also tend toward a spiritualism that tends toward mysticism, the spirit world, the beliefs of those in the Far East, Native Americans, or other indigenous peoples.
In their own way, they are as misguided as those on the right when it comes to science and religion.
could it have something to do with the social nature of the left leaning them towards anecdotal evidence and accepting the word of friends over experts? Or could it be something to do with a distrust of authority leading to a rejection of the control of that authority? Or could it be that people in general are ignorant and it’s just that when coupled with fundamentalist religion it’s easy to see a correlation? :P
Ok, this is a bit tangential, but not much. And it is something that should make all Americans AND Canadians take notice:
Shitting in your own nest seems a mild comparison!
Ms. Clark says
I have an Asperger’s diagnosis and I have two kids… one is fairly significantly impaired and on the autism spectrum, the other is basically normal. Considering that they have the same father (my ex-husband) and that he’s definitely got some kind of autism spectrum thang going, but is not diagnosed… it’s amazing that we had one typically developing child.
Anyway, as far as I can tell there is nothing inherently worse about being autistic than being non-autistic. What most people react to when they say that being “autistic” is bad, etc, is the mental retardation or presumed mental retardation of some autistics. Parents of very impaired autistic children and mentally retarded children will sometimes rail that if their children could read and write, etc, like the “high functioning” or Asperger’s people, they would consider the child cured. But what they are saying is, “If I could remove the mental retardation from my child and leave the autism, I would consider my child cured.”
Which makes no sense. What they want a pill for is the mental retardation or the apparent mental retardation. In some cases the cure for the apparent mental retardation is giving the kid (that they have been trying to train a la dog training, a la dolphin training, a la a pigeon in a Skinner box with “applied behavioral analysis”- ABA) a way to communicate. If you read the experience of the founders of “Cure Autism Now” they just about ABA’d their son to death. He got the most expensive pigeon training imaginable… and it did NOTHING for him. But when they assumed that he had a brain (there was no sign that he could read or had any particular thoughts on deep subjects) and handed him an alphabet board, it turned out he had not only learned to read English, but also Hebrew.
THIS WAS NOT FACILITATED COMMUNICATION. No one was holding his hand or arm. It wasn’t voodoo or ouija board stuff. The boy knew how to communicate but no one had ever tried to ask him anything. They had been trying to teach him how to “touch blue” or “sit,” and “stay,” for years and didn’t know what he was picking up from being in day-care and in classrooms (in a school that taught Hebrew to little kids).
At any rate… autism is different. People who think differently have given great gifts to humankind in science and art. We do not need to cure autism, now or later. It would be insane to do that. I believe that more and more scientists will be coming out of the closet as having been obviously autistic children. I personally know of professors and engineers who fit the bill for autism very well, and that’s not being coy or cute. They are obviously impaired people but who also have a gift. I dare say Dr. Meyers must know some professors who are more than merely eccentric, and some of them likely have autistic children of their own.
Full disclosure…. I am quoted in Dr. Offit’s book, and I’m one of 4 parents that the book is dedicated to (which was very kind of Dr. Offit).
WTF? Why in the world would anyone want someone to be autistic?
I read a while back about advocates for deaf children being against research to cure various forms of deafness, as if you’d be taking some sort of wonderful unique identity away from a child if gave them the ability to hear again (or for the first time for some). They rail against the idea that deafness is something wrong that needs to be fixed. It’s a whole “deaf culture” thing.
I’d like to take people like that and chop their feet off, and then tell them there’s nothing wrong with them, and to rejoice in their unique identity as a member of the Footless Culture.
The world is full of ruinous and rotten people. Are you really surprised? Everyone is so focused on politicians that all these other bastards get away with horrors because they put up a charitable front.
Ms. Clark says
Deaf people who advocate for Deaf culture are born deaf. That is not analogous to cutting their feet off because you want to teach them a lesson. Deaf people experience a different world than you do. They feel that it is not an inferior world. Why do you feel that you can say that it is? One thing they are against is cochlear implants. Cochlear implants can leave a person in a worse position than when they were just deaf, because the “hearing” that the implants give is not normal hearing. Actually, from the samples I have heard of what cochlear implants provide, I’d rather be deaf. It’s an awful noise that some learn to translate into sensible speech. These people are not burning down cochlear implant factories or trying to kidnap babies whose parents are planning on getting them implants. They are saying, if I chose not to get implants for my child, it’s my business. Butt out.
Many autistic adults say that they would not wish to have been born without their autistic traits. That doesn’t make them evil… in fact in some cases these people are famous and paying more in taxes (most likely) than anyone commenting here on this board. You might want to look up what Dan Akroyd’s been doing with his life, and Richard Borcherds PhD http://www.simonsingh.net/Fields_Medallist.html, and Nobel Prize winning economist Vernon Smith, how about famous animal behaviorist/meat processing plant designer, Temple Grandin. These people don’t wish they could be non-autistic. (Neither do I.) They are pleased that along with autism they got some major salable talents. Not all autistics get those salable talents, but they (we) all get talents, sometimes fascinating ones that non-autistics could only wish to have, even if they aren’t easily salable. The analogy of a different operating system is a good one. Just because I say I am a Mac doesn’t mean that I am evil, and neither does it mean I am trying to make you, the PC, into a Mac or degrading your PC-ness. And yes, I know about the disabling aspects of being a Mac in a PC world. I can’t walk into Office Max and expect to buy stuff for my Mac, they might have it they might not… in fact they probably won’t have a power cord no matter how much I cry about it… I’ll have to order one from apple.com. Rotten unfair world that it is.
From what I’ve seen, that should be “and/or.” Also, like Wakefield’s, they generally violate ethical research standards.
A definition of “the left” would be helpful here, but I’m of the view that people on the left should be skeptical concerning any information coming out of for-profit coprporations, including the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals; critical of a system in which medicine is a for-profit concern in the first place; and supportive of movements for social justice in the area of health. That’s why I appreciated the piece by Ben Goldacre that I linked to recently:
There are several potential pitfalls for this critical project, though. The first is that a lot of people consider cynicism in itself to be a form of critical thinking or productive skepticism, when in fact a critical approach is founded on not just a suspicious attitude but a set of skills for evaluating sources, methods, and evidence. Second, some seem to view science itself as an ideology of the powerful. It’s hard to believe that anyone on the left could believe that there’s anything to be gained by a rejection of empirical science – as Alan Sokal said regarding the pomo science critics: “I confess that I’m an unabashed Old Leftist who never quite understood how deconstruction was supposed to help the working class. And I’m a stodgy old scientist who believes, naively, that there exists an external world, that there exist objective truths about that world, and that my job is to discover some of them.” But the deconstructionist impulse seems to be alive and well. (As I was saying recently, these people really need to (re)read Foucault, since they’re just not getting it when it comes to knowledge and power.)
Both of these seem to be going on here. The antivax camp is characterized by a sterile cynicism about the government and pharmaceutical companies rather than an informed skepticism concerning all scientific claims. From what I’ve seen on RI, there is a disturbing lack of a basic understanding of the scientific process, even among the medical professionals, which impairs their ability to evaluate any claims and increases the chances that they’ll be swayed by bogus ones if these conform to their feelings or fears. There is also the belief that science itself – in this case evidence-based medicine – is the problem, marginalizing “alternative ways of knowing.”
And there are of course all of the other personal motives at play that Offit covers in the book. In any event, what the antivax people and the journalists who’ve jumped on their bandwagon are doing is irresponsible, does nothing but harm the left, and has the potential to injure and kill large numbers of children.
“These people are not burning down cochlear implant factories or trying to kidnap babies whose parents are planning on getting them implants. They are saying, if I chose not to get implants for my child, it’s my business. Butt out.”
Actually, what they’re saying is not only am I not going to get implants for my kid, you shouldn’t either. And they’d like to make it illegal.
I’ve heard sentiments like that countless times. Very little of the discussion involves the actual benefit or drawback of the implant, these deaf culture advocates usually seem more concerned with increasing their numbers.
I mildly dislike them. At least they’re not anti-transfusion, but there’s no way they should have the final say in any child’s medical decision.
Still lurking around here, Kenny?
From the article/review: “She describes the father-and-son team of Mark and David Geier, one a doctor and the other with a college degree in biology. The elder, Mark, opened a homemade lab in his basement, where, under the patronage of anti-vaccine advocates, he works on his theories. They include prescribing Lupron to autistic children, a drug that several states use to chemically castrate sex offenders. The son, David, runs a medical-legal consulting firm, where he offers up expert witnesses for vaccine-injury trials. The two work hand in hand to make money both selling treatments and testifying as expert witnesses in vaccine-autism cases.”
That bit reminds me of the old ditty…
My father sells cheap prophylactics
My sister pokes holes in the ends
My mother performs the abortions
And oh, how the money rolls in
SC wrote :
//In any event, what the antivax people and the journalists who’ve jumped on their bandwagon are doing is irresponsible, does nothing but harm the left//
How does being an antivax loon harm the left? I dont get that connection,to be honest.
And I dont agree with your notion that antivaccination ppl are characterized by a “sterile cynicism” towards government and pharmaceutical companies.The ones Ive met professionally,i.e.parents that dont get their kids vaccinated that come to my E.R.,are mostly religious loons,or from the alternative medicine/homeopathy/witchcraft camp,theyre not cynical,theyre pretty damn serious about their delusions,trust me.
And trying to convince someone like that that their kid could die from something utterly avoidable like Tetanus if they dont get vaccinated after youve stitched up their leg,is pretty much like talking to any creationist out there,its pretty fucking useless.
Fernando Magyar says
Posted by: Ms. Clark @#39
Maybe all the autistic people need to get to gether and start a campaing to cure “Neurotypicals”, we could start with a large dolop of critical thinking skills and a solid education in basic science.
Oh, and all you folks who jumped all over Azkyroth for shooting from the hip, try walking in the shoes of people who either are actually autistic themselves or have autistic individuals as their loved ones and have to deal with “normal” people on a day to day basis, it can be quite an exercise in frustration.
Live and let live.
Azkyroth, I imagine you’ve been through the ringmarole on this topic before posting here, so I won’t take great issue with the hostility in your first post other than to point out that it isn’t a strategically effective way to open a discussion on a new forum.
I agree with the general gist of what you’re saying, inasmuch as it is, IMHO, perfectly reasonable to consider the ASD as a perhaps extreme variant of normal, rather than to call it a “disease.” I would also venture to suggest that among those on the mildest end of that spectrum, scientists, engineers, etc (ie many of the people likely to frequent this blog) are over-represented (particularly computer scientists) and that the traits associated with this mild end of the ASD spectrum are actually generally considered admirable, or at least benign.
However, it is my opinion that the things you advocate are just as much a “cure” for autism as the things you decry. Cure does not have to mean biochemical manipulation to the exclusion of everything else.
Regarding Azkyroth’s initial comment:
What’s been lost in the sturm and drang of whether someone got their feelings hurt is the core point Azkyroth makes and its relationship to the core point of PZ’s post.
PZ’s position seems to be that because of what’s currently known about thermisol in vaccines, anyone who is skeptical of vaccines/thermisol is a dolt. This position is supported by many of the comments here.
As I see it, Azkyroth throws a monkey wrench at this argument by making the point that some, perhaps many, experts on the issue who talk about a ‘cure’ for autism are talking out of their ass, with little real understanding of what autism really is.
If the people who should know better, are incorrect in believing autism can be cured, how are the anti-vacciners to trust these same people on the safety of vaccines?
This is the core point that divides the anti-vaccine crowd from the science-is-always-right crowd. The former recognizes that scientists are only human and that what is believed to be true today may not be true tomorrow.
The latter, despite their grounding in the scientific method, believes that science is always right, until proven wrong.
Re: not wanting a cure for things.
I have chronic, but mild, depression that waxes and wanes, not in an extreme bipolar way: occasionally it’s pretty bad, occasionally I feel pretty happy, but most of the time, I just feel a bit low and unhappy. The transitions between these states are slow and periods of deeper depression can last a long time, in one case about 18 months.
Now, the strange thing is that during periods of deep depression, I experience enhanced creativity, an ability to see deep connections between things, and an enhanced appreciation for art and music.
I know that there are DARIs I could take that would make it go away, but they tend to be addictive and (here’s the kicker) personally I don’t think I want it to. I know that I’m playing with fire, but a minute after bursting into tears over something trivial, I will have a cool idea. It sounds weird, but I love it and hate it at the same time.
The problem is that it makes me pretty unhappy and inconsistent, even flaky, and to appear lazy and undisciplined (it can be very tough to summon the enthusiasm to leave the house). Although I’ve managed OK so far, I don’t fit in very well in a world where you’re expected to be permanently happy and diligent, and every job advertisement wants “an enthusiastic self-starter”.
I’m not comparing my situation to autism (or anything else), but I can empathize with people who don’t see their illness/disease/disability in the same black and white terms as the general population: most people would think I’m just plain stupid, but things are not always quite so simple on the other side.
Just reading it all now, and I had exactly the same reaction as Azkyroth to S.Scott’s post. This may be because I also have a child on the autism spectrum, but I also have a particular pedantic reaction to calling everything not entirely typical a “disease”, especially when it’s the result of a genetic misfire rather than a contagion (no, I don’t know what else to call it, but disease has a definition, and that isn’t it). Saying “cure this terrible disease” immediately places rotten connotations on people who have said condition, that they are less and other and worthy of extreme pity and oh god please don’t let anyone else ever be afflicted like THEM, because their lives are so terrible. It does also shift the frame (!) from figuring out ways to assist people who have it entirely to preventing it instead, and that IS a valid concern.
It is possible to agree that research in how to prevent autism is a good thing without using language that automatically denigrates everyone who already has autism.
(See: people who support MS research but hate Jerry Lewis)
//This is the core point that divides the anti-vaccine crowd from the science-is-always-right crowd. The former recognizes that scientists are only human and that what is believed to be true today may not be true tomorrow.
The latter, despite their grounding in the scientific method, believes that science is always right, until proven wrong. //
What an utter bullshit that is ! Who’s the science-is-always-right crowd anyway?
The anti-vaccine people are a rather heterogenous bunch,from “harmless” new age/homeopathy/alternative med whackos to hardcore delusional religionists,to the Autistic-kid-have-to-blame someone-crowd.
//PZ’s position seems to be that because of what’s currently known about thermisol in vaccines, anyone who is skeptical of vaccines/thermisol is a dolt. This position is supported by many of the comments here.//
Utter nonsense.This post was about critical thinking of left-wing media,not Autism or vaccinations.
//If the people who should know better, are incorrect in believing autism can be cured, how are the anti-vacciners to trust these same people on the safety of vaccines?//
You,Sir,are a world-class moron.An anti-vacciner does not trust vaccines for the reasons given above,they are not accessible to reason or rational argument,just as creationists arent.
I used to listen to Kennedy’s radio show, Ring of Fire. After hearing so many episodes where he rants against vaccines and promotes a link between cell phone use and brain cancer I just had to turn it off permanently. On one episode, the environmental organization Kennedy is the spokesman for, they even criticized his position.
Naturally any comments to the show about their bad science is ignored.
correction: MD, not MS. Brain typo.
Donnie B. says
Is it possible that there’s a semantic issue causing some of the conflict in this thread?
From my reading, it seems to me that the word “cure” may mean different things to different commenters. Some seem to be assuming, as amphiox pointed out, that a “cure” must be some biochemical intervention that makes an autistic person “normal”, even at the cost of undesirable side effects such as the loss of unique cognitive characteristics.
Others, though, may be using “cure” as a shorthand expression for “a technique or suite of techniques that helps autistic persons and their families lead happier and more productive lives”.
It seems to me that the second definition might produce less contentious responses than the first.
Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT says
What a strange twist of logic there. The people making vaccines and [some of] the people searching for a cure for autism are only the same people in the sense that they are involved in medical science. It’s a typical tactic of the anti-vax crowd to co-opt any failure in medical science as some sort of proof that vaccines are harmful.
It’s grasping at straws. All evidence points to there being no link between vaccines and autism. I’m sure if thread gets going much longer and the anti-vaxers show up, we can look forward to an appearance from Orac who is much more knowledgeable on the subject.
I don’t find the left or the right (definition: anyone self-labeled as one or the other) particularly more wackaloon than the other. For every Global Warming denier there is someone who thinks the China Syndrome is actually a real thing.
There really are good reasons for being deeply suspicious of scientific conclusions – especially when it comes to medical treatment. Science may be subject to future correction, but our lives are not. We can probably all contribute to a list of medical misconceptions past (my mother getting radiation treatment for acne when she was a child comes to mind, but there are far worse). If a good case is not convincing non-experts, whomever may be to blame, it’s ultimately the responsibility of the experts to make a more convincing case.
I had about the same reaction as Azkyroth, actually. I have cerebral palsy, which isn’t a disease and isn’t curable. It is, however, a manageable condition (albeit managing it a part-time job at least for me).
Personally, I’m of the opinion that a lot of the people who think being disabled makes you some kind of youneek spayshul snowflake deserve a swift kick in the pants; having a disability is a human experience (which I think some people forget a little bit), but it’s not a “gift” and it doesn’t impart a special way of knowing or being on the part of the disabled person, and it sure as hell doesn’t make us saints, paragons, or moral exemplars.
If there were some sort of magic bullet to get rid of what I’ve got, I’d be in line, but there isn’t. Oh well, too bad. The next crank who suggests some woo-filled bullshit, though, is going to get an earful, just like the last one.
Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT says
Well maybe. In some cases though people refuse to look at the case presented honestly. Anti-vaxers are exactly those people. No matter how much data and research is presented they will deny, distort or dismiss it.
//There really are good reasons for being deeply suspicious of scientific conclusions – especially when it comes to medical treatment//
Next time you visit your local E.R. and need antibiotics,or resuscitation,or a bone reset or your appendix taken out,I would like to remind you of that utterly stupid statement.Lets try treating your kidney stone the homeopathic way,shall we,I will personally stand at your bedside and watch you cry and moan mate.
Yeah, those damn statistics! They can be used to show anything!!!
Sven DiMilo says
?? How do you figure?
Better supply the definition you’re working with, because “genetic disease” is a perfectly meaningful term.
//I have cerebral palsy, which isn’t a disease and isn’t curable//
Of course it is a disease,we know what causes it,we know risk factors for it,there is a wide variety of clinical presentations,the fact that there is no cure does not mean it is not a disease.
The comparison with autism is somewhat correct,this is a condition brought on by non-visible subtle damage and changes in the growing brain,and there is no cure available mainly because we dont even understand the function of a properly working brain fully to this day.
Emmet Caulfield says
If you’d said “there are good reasons to check if a proposed medical treatment is genuinely based on the best current evidence”, I’d be inclined to agree. As a science, medicine suffers from the problem that some of the experiments that would definitively answer certain questions would be horribly unethical: if you wonder about the level of efficacy of the treatment for a terminal disease, you can’t treat cohort A and leave cohort B untreated and count the corpses to find the answer.
Medicine is not entirely scientific. Until comparatively recently (say, the last 50 years) it was hardly scientific at all. There are several cases where the inherited wisdom turned out to be badly wrong, H. pylori being one high-profile case, but your statement throws the baby out with the bathwater.
As I implied in my earlier comment, there are good reasons to be skeptical in general about any information coming from corporations or governments. This skepticism – in addition to a critique of the current corporate/statist social organization of science and social-justice efforts in health care (Paul Farmer) – is fundamental to the left. When some people, be they of the left or not, fight against safe and necessary medical interventions using the rhetoric of skepticism while basing their arguments on discredited research, claiming to uncover nonexistent conspiracies, and painting themselves as crusaders against corporate or government power and thus creating in people’s minds the idea that projects of the left are now characterized by an antiscience mentality, they make it that much harder to engage in the necessary, legitimate fights I described above.
What I was saying is that they’re not skeptical, but dumbly and selectively cynical. Being skeptical would mean that they would evaluate all of the existing research, which is clearly on the side of vaccination. But they don’t do that. They simply refuse to accept any scientific research that shows them to be wrong, while basing their own arguments on the shoddiest and most ridiculous of studies that support their views. It’s similar to how creationists regard mountains of research about evolution with a stupid cynicism because it’s coming out of “Big Science,” while clinging to pathetic claims about evidence of design.
I agree that they’re serious about their delusions, and I don’t have to trust you as I’ve been reading what they’ve been writing on Respectful Insolence for several months now. I don’t really see how this relates to my argument; perhaps I’ve cleared this up.
Well Good Morning! :-)
Wasn’t I surprised to find that a can of worms haad been opened overnight?!
Anyway, to anyone who took offence to my calling autism a disease – I’m sorry. But if I might defend myself for a moment … I had the parent of an autistic child tell me …
” Here’s hoping you and your family never have to suffer with a child that has these terrible diseases.”
And I like Interrobangs point above …
“If there were some sort of magic bullet to get rid of what I’ve got, I’d be in line, but there isn’t.”
So my question is … what’s wrong with trying to find a cure (or cause)? If you don’t want the help, don’t get it, but why try and stop advances that are being made by scientists.There are many, many parents out there that would love some help.
… and now I have a lovely troll. Hi Julie!
ty for the reply !
//When some people, be they of the left or not, fight against safe and necessary medical interventions using the rhetoric of skepticism while basing their arguments on discredited research, claiming to uncover nonexistent conspiracies, and painting themselves as crusaders against corporate or government power and thus creating in people’s minds the idea that projects of the left are now characterized by an antiscience mentality, they make it that much harder to engage in the necessary, legitimate fights I described above.//
I can see your point here,and I think we are on the same side.Thanks for the clarification.
//Anyway, to anyone who took offence to my calling autism a disease – I’m sorry. //
You shouldnt be,like cerebral palsy,autism is a disease,spectrum disorder lalala,it doesnt matter,give it some feel-good name,mention a few celebrities that are meant to have it,its still a disease in the clinical sense.
Schizophrenics write great poems,theyre still schizophrenics.And the pills we have invented to treat some presumed neurotransmitter deficiency dont always work in the intended way,like Eminem said,it feels so empty without me.
and painting themselves as crusaders against corporate or government power and thus creating in people’s minds the idea that projects of the left are now characterized by an antiscience mentality, they make it that much harder to engage in the necessary, legitimate fights I described above.
Let me give examples: It makes it that much easier for the Monsanto-DuPont-Cargills of the world to paint Vandana Shiva (a scientist, btw) and the movements of Indian farmers as antiscience or antiprogress when they are no such thing. Neither were Peter Kropotkin’s ideas about a scientific urban horticulture antiscience or antimodern, but they’ve been incorrectly painted as such. It’s much more difficult to fight these kinds of mischaracterizations when CAM and antivax groups are calling themselves fighters against corporate or government power, linking this to a stupid antiscience stance, and getting media attention.
Sorry for the cross-post. Should have awaited your reply. Please ignore my #68. Had nothing to do with medicine – I’m just venting at this point. :)
I think the definition of “disease” is the majority of the problem. If you want to use disease to mean anything abnormal, fine, but that doesn’t hold true in many cases. If you wear glasses, do you say your eyes are diseased? If you have a hammertoe, do you call it your terrible foot disease? Most people don’t. Disease is most commonly meant to be a sickness, something invasive that is not of yourself, infecting your body, in many cases that could be catching to others. That meaning does not wash with genetic malfunctions, and using that term for them carries all the infectious disease baggage along with it.
Same way with “cure”. That is generally taken to mean cure the person with it, not prevent it from happening in others, and that’s not possible in many cases of mental and physical disorders. There are ways of discussing treatment and prevention and root causes of genetic problems without overlaying the disease mentality onto it.
I think part of the gut response to S.Scott’s characterization was also that it was one of the first responses (not that it’s his/her fault!). It caused an immediate “Oh for fuck’s sake, here we go again” reaction right as the thread was starting.
Off to bed soon….
no worries,I get that venting feeling frequently lol
that is a good point you make,people feel better if their condition is not classified as a disease I guess,my perspective as a physician is a bit more clinical probably.
The definition of disease :
leaves no doubt tho really that autism,cerebral palsy,deafness etc are in fact diseases,you dont need bugs to cause illness.
Naked Bunny with a Whip says
try walking in the shoes of people who … have autistic individuals as their loved ones
You seem to have this bizarre notion that everyone here is familiar with everyone else’s personal life. Azkyroth’s reaction was out of life, plain and simple. I blow up at people unreasonably, too, when I’m tired, sore, frustrated, etc. The only respectable way to follow up something like that is with an apology, not rationalizations.
Why do you feel that you can say that it is?
Logic. Critical thinking. Functional neurons. That sort of thing.
There are cases where children with some amount of hearing ability at schools for the deaf are not taught any auditory skills, and intentionally limited to ASL.
Ron Sullivan says
Maybe a useful distinction, though I’m not ready to specify the boundary just now.
And: CP can be a result of trauma, not genetic at all, even disputable whether it’s properly called “congenital.” I’d say more disorder than disease.
And: Stand up for fuckers, you fuckers! I’ve been an enthusiastic fucker since before I knew what the word meant.
That said, anyone who wants a quick intro to the mess that Azkyroth is dealing with might spend some time browsing Respectful Insolence, until Az comes back to recommend a more concise source.
This is the article that caught my attention and thusly got everyone so upset.
“Drug reverses mental retardation caused by genetic disorder
Mouse study offers hope for correcting autism’s disruption of the brain”
John McCain thinks it’s the vaccines as well.
“Next time you visit your local E.R. and need antibiotics,or resuscitation,or a bone reset or your appendix taken out,I would like to remind you of that utterly stupid statement.Lets try treating your kidney stone the homeopathic way,shall we,I will personally stand at your bedside and watch you cry and moan mate.” – clinteas
And my advice to you is that the next a doctor recommends a treatment to you, don’t ask questions, don’t get a second opinion, just shut the fuck up and do what you’re told. Good luck with that.
Argument 101: argue against what your opponent says, not what you imagine they might say. Sorry, you get a massive fail on this one. Or said another way, you’ve made an “utterly stupid statement”. Of course, your failure is exacerbated by the fact that you guessed wrong, but a fail is a fail my friend.
“If you’d said “there are good reasons to check if a proposed medical treatment is genuinely based on the best current evidence”, I’d be inclined to agree.” – Emmet Caulfield
I apologize for the ambiguity. Perhaps it would have been better if I had said “There really are good reasons for being deeply suspicious of scientific conclusions (rather than scientific arguments and evidence) – especially when it comes to medical treatment”. Of course, that’s not to say that one has options other than science, but that certainly doesn’t mean that scientific conclusions get a pass either.
That is because there’s no agreement that it is a disease. How do you know it’s a disease? By convention? Clearly, it’s a difference. You could even say it’s an anomaly and a disability. You could point out it confers disadvantages. But what exactly demonstrates it is a disease?
Autistic adults, for the most part and as far as I know, don’t see autism as a disease. Opposition to a cure exists, but that’s better explained as a preference for the social model of autism as opposed to the medical model of autism, which so far has been notoriously unsuccessful as an autism model. Perhaps the reason it has been so unsuccessful is because autism, generally speaking, cannot be properly understood as a disease. (Some things that cause autism, like left-handedness, might be diseases, however).
Mary Hirzel says
Hey! Did you miss it? Mother Jones magazine is also now pimping Offitt. That should make you doubly happy!
@78 – see 71 – I’m guessing that you haven’t read the entire thread yet.
Good points, PZ. There is often an abundance of irrationality on the left. I’m constantly bewildered by other atheists who claim to be rational people, but often believe in other nonsense like 9/11 conspiracies, nonexistent autism/vaccine links, and new age mumbo jumbo like astrology, and other paranormal things.
Personally I think of autism as a condition, not a disease: it’s one of the most strongly genetically influenced of all mental variations, so if it’s a disease then so is having blue eyes.
Of course, so is haemophilia, which we *do* call a disease. There’s so much history here that I suspect, like ‘planet’, we’ll never get a consistent term that everyone agrees with.
And as an autistic who was for some time noncommunicative, admittedly while young, if a cure for autism was available I’d run very fast in the opposite direction. Yes, neurotypical life presumably has its joys — -higher P(partner&children) for one — but autistic life does too, and if you had some magical way of making me neurologically normal, zapping the autism and related conditions, I’m fairly sure it would both leave me a different person and largely destroy the focus which lets me be supernormal in other areas. I don’t *want* to be reduced to neurotypicality: I’ve seen lots of them and most of them aren’t excellent at hardly anything, and their memories in their areas of expertise suck. They have this magic mystic telepathy, but does it make up for it? You might as well ask me if seeing polarised light and flying ‘makes up for’ being a bee.
Of course, when you consider the noncommunicative it gets harder: you get into the whole problem with getting informed consent from someone who doesn’t answer… but once the noncommunication is gone autistics are fully-fledged humans like everyone else, thankyouverymuch. (Despite the incessant media coverage bias a lot of us are adults, too: we just learn better coping strategies as we age.)
But I’m mostly preaching to the choir here so I’ll shut up.
Clinteas, your absurd apoplectic name-calling rant is a perfect example of the kind of frothing irrationality that PZ speaks of.
Chill man. It’s just an intertubes forum after all. My suggestion: Up your meds and go get laid. You’ll feel better.
PZ, as a biologist affiliated with a University you probably have access to a lab. If you get a chance, obtain a multi-dose vaccine vial (like last years expired flu vaccine for example of which there are literally millions) and test it for mercury concentration. Let us know what you find. Here is another article you might love by Dr. Parikh, MD titled “Fighting for the Reputation of Vaccines: Lessons From American Politics”. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/121/3/621
In this article he suggests we learn from Karl Rove and gang on how to make the public believe in the safety of vaccines. Like scare the crap out of them!
Autism is simply a term from the psychiatric DSM-IV manual. It’s nothing but a smokescreen. It provides an alibi for the drug companies who added mercury to vaccines at levels 250 times higher than hazardous waste levels (based on toxicity characteristics). It provides an alibi for the CDC, FDA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the other drug company cronies who are responsible for the safety of our children. It provides an alibi for the people who administered this poison. It provides an alibi for health insurance companies so they don’t have to pay for treatment for these sick kids. It provides an alibi for psychiatrists so they can force powerfull anti-psychotic drugs on these kids who are already terribly confused.
Arnosium Upinarum says
In a charming REUTERS article out now headlined, “With Wall Street in turmoil, some turn to religion”,
highlighting the lastest example of heads-up evangelical opportunism, we are informed:
“The economic financial crisis is a reminder that we cannot put our faith in riches, that we cannot put our faith in money,” Bozzuti-Jones said in his sermon at lunchtime on Friday, which he devoted to coping with the financial crisis.”
How slickly Bozzuti-Jones ignores this one:
“…that we can’t put our faith in irrationality and uncritical thinking”.
These con-artists are a pox on the land.
How much mercury any given vaccine may or may not contain is ultimately not relevant. All the well-established vaccines have been thoroughly tested (I am excluding for now the newer vaccines, in particular the HPV and chicken pox vaccines), and their risk-benefit ratios well established. The total benefits far outweigh the total risk. It does not matter one whit what the individual components of that risk are, and whether or not autism is one of them. For the question of vaccination, the autism non-link is a complete red herring. Even if there was a confirmed 100% correlation between vaccination and autism, for most of the childhood vaccines, YOU SHOULD STILL VACCINATE BECAUSE THE NET BENEFIT STILL OUTWEIGHS THE NET RISK.
The question of autism itself, what it is, how to treat/manage it, is another topic entirely.
J Dub says
Ugh, this is the worst set of comments ever. Azy goes nuts, everyone starts ‘spergin out, the anti-vax goofs come by, nothing’s a disease, blah blah blah.
PZ, thanks for the link to Salon! Offit’s speaking from sound science. I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised he’s getting death threats. The other side has nothing except for fear to drive people to them!
My daughter has autism. I am quite certain that my daughter did not contract autism from vaccines and, knowing what I do, now, about Wakefield’s shameless attempt to raise an anti-vaccine hysteria, I think that yanking his medical license is the least of the punishments he should face. Jail time for fraud should be in there, as well: quite a significant term given how his scheme has adversely affected so many.
Nerd of Redhead says
Tom #84, according the FDA, thimerosal is present in adult (three strain) flu vaccines, like the one I will be getting next month. So of course we would find mercury in those vaccines. The implication of your statement is all multi-dose vaccines contain a large amount of thimerosal, which is a lie. All vaccines for children, including flu vaccines, have, at most, trace amounts of thimerosal.
Wow. What a comment thread.
I’m autistic. I’m not diseased. I’m not “broken” and in need of a cure. Well, not for autism. My epilepsy is called a seizure disorder, not a seizure disease, right? It’s an inborn pain in the ass difference in brain functioning. Autism is also an inborn difference in brain function. Some parts are a pain in the ass, some parts aren’t. If you changed my brain, I’d not know what to do…I’m USED to functioning as I am.
It’s not ethical to change someone’s OS just for the convenience of others. In a few decades this discussion will seem as ridiculous as discussions on whether or not racial minorities, women, etc are fully capable humans. Autistics are just as human as everyone else too.
People may have mistakenly blamed vaccines as the cause of autism but they are not mistaken about the fact that vaccine components ethylmercuric chloride (thimerosal) (1) and aluminum hydroxide (2) are potent neurotoxins. They are not mistaken about the fact that these neurotoxins are added to childhood vaccines at very high levels based on an infants body weight. They are not mistaken about the fact that neurotoxins cause degenerative brain disease. The only thing left to debate is whether brain damaged kids behave in such a way that some psychiatrist will label them as somewhere on the “spectrum”.
(1) Fagan DG, Pritchard JS, Clarkson TW, Greenwood MR. Organ mercury levels in infants with omphaloceles treated with organic mercurial antiseptic. Arch. Dis. in Childhood 1977; 52: 962-964. (note: this is just one of hundreds of published, peer-reviewed studies which discuss the extreme toxicity of organic mercurial products).
(2) Petrik MS, Wong MC, Tabata RC, Garry RF, Shaw CA. Aluminum [vaccine] adjuvant linked to gulf war illness induces motor neuron death in mice. Neuromolecular Med. 2007;9(1):83-100. (note: 8 different childhood vaccines, administered 18 times, contain this material).
Kassiane, sorry about your seizures buddy. Epilepsy is not a disease, its a diagnosis given to someone who has more than one seizure. Google “mercury seizures” and you will get over a half million hits. Go read them right now!
Clinteas @ #71:
Thanks for the medical professional’s definition of the word.
However, I think the layman’s understanding of “disease” includes the idea of contagion. I would use the word “disorder” (and do, about my own autoimmune disorder) to describe a medical condition involving some part of our physical body (including the brain) developing and/or functioning “abnormally”.
Ah, I’ve just read Ron Sullivan @74 et al. Great minds think alike (fools seldom differ).
Clintoris, TheProd, mercury in vaccines *cannot* be the cause of autism, because it’s been removed from vaccines in the EU for some time, and autism rates have not declined. (It is also plainly largely genetic.)
Find another hobby-horse. This one’s dead.