8/29/2009

Who reads AoA? And just a bit of kick-ass kumbaya ranting

As a preface: no, I didn't wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I did, however, read AoA. So, this is an unabashedly pissy post. It is kick-ass kumbaya. So, read it forewarned that I'm not censoring much here. Okay, I don't censor much anyway, although I do try to keep the cussing and name-calling to a minimum mostly.

Who reads AoA?

I know whose comments get through. I know who writes for AoA. But who are its readers? And what proportion of those readers are like me, reading to keep an eye on what they are up to? What proportion are die-hard loyalists who believe every word written on it?

If I assumed that the commenters were representative of the readers of AoA and their respective beliefs regarding everything autism, science, and vaccines, I would be extremely discouraged with humanity.

They've been having a field day over there with Wakefield appearing with Lauer and with Safeminds refusing to appear with Nancy Snyderman. Bitterness leeches out of some of the comments, and if my friend C who's done a couple comments over there the last couple days reads this, I really wish you'd email me and let me know how you are doing. Your comments there and at Huff have really been bitter and hostile lately, and that makes me worry about you and yours and wonder if ya'll are doing okay.

Okay, back to the subject at hand. I'm not inclined to specifically badmouth anyone whose commented over there right now. Ideologically, at best, we're diametrically opposed, as readers here know. There's one person in particular over there with her eugenics comments and her inability to decide what caused autism who gets under my skin. Fine, there's a fair number of regular commenters over there who perturb me.

Mostly, though, reading the articles and the comments makes me discouraged for the critical thinking skills of some of these people; I'm not saying I have all the answers. I don't at all, but if you read them, you can't miss their absolute complete and utter certitude that they have all the answers and everyone else is stupid, pharma hos or shills or worse. That level of certainty along with bitterness and hostility make me tired and hurt my heart. How AoA loyalists who might not be all the way down the woo trail miss this or dismiss this, I honestly don't know.

I don't think highly of the editors or many of the contributors to AoA. I think their objectives are not pure, not good, and the proliferating ads for quackery to cure your kid shows that they ain't in it out of the goodness of their hearts. I sure don't think much of their "science." I stand by the first comment and one of the few that was put on over there (and this was months after discussing with AoA readers the autism/vaccine link in the various threads at Huff) that I made that they really wouldn't know science if it walked up and smacked them in the face (I'm paraphrasing, but I'm too lazy to go to the first blog post on here to see what I actually said). Sure it was inflammatory and set the stage to let them know I didn't consider them to be particularly beneficent folks over there with all their brain cells rubbing together. I know, tacky, right? Well, tough. I've spent my limited free minutes this week reading some of their more incendiary comments and stewing on it because I didn't have the time to do a good old deconstruction on their flawed, offensive thinking. Seriously, KB, could you get any worse? Give it a week, and I'm sure you will.

Look, I do want to support parents of children on the spectrum, and bottom line, I've acknowledged that vaccine damage occurs (I don't think that's autism, and I really don't respect Wakefield, the Geiers, Deth, and any of the other shoddy and shady "scientists"). I don't know if a parent is telling the objective truth that their child sustained a vaccine injury and then got autism (within a week, none of this months after the fact your child gets diagnosed with autism, you hear Jenny McCarthy's less than stellar logic, and conclude that little Johnny's autism must have been caused by the vaccine, even though there was no reaction whatsoever at the time). I wasn't there. I'll take you at your word and we can move on to the here and now and focus on how to deal with the challenges of autism together in a positive way. If you are screaming to other parents out there about how awful vaccines are, we aren't going to be best buddies. I'm good with that and I'm sure you are, too. I think you're off your rocker, you think I'm "militantly uneducated" and we can have an adversarial relationship or you can ignore me. Whatever works for you.

I had a point to my rant, and that's for ya'll to look over to the right and vote in the poll I've set up.

Now, if this costs me some group members, well, that sucks, I guess. So let me restate it again; we don't have to agree down the line on autism, on treatments, on causes. We do have to have some core values in place, though: making the world a safer, softer place for our children and for adults on the spectrum and with other disabilities; offering positive encouragement to parents who are struggling, and frakking standing up to the bullies and the charlatans who would make this world a less accepting place for our children. I'm fine with the acknowledgment that vaccines can cause an adverse effect. Absolutely. I'm fine for more research into making vaccines that are as safe as possible, for looking into who might have adverse reactions so we can create screening tests. I'm fine with parents and doctors looking at each individual and deciding on the best course of action for vaccination. I don't think you should get your child vaccinated if he or she has ever had a serious adverse reaction to a previous vaccine. In fact, I think it is your job as a parent to know what is going on with your child and to use your critical thinking skills to make the most rational, non-emotional health care decision for your child. I think parents who let rampant emotionalism cloud their judgment or scaremongering keep them from thinking critically are not doing their job.

So, if you read me with any regularity, you already know where I stand. I think Age of Autism on balance does way more harm than good. I think their "science" is not, at all. And I think that overwhelmingly their intent is to foster maladaptive coping skills and dependence on magical thinking. Try our sponsored products is their unstated motto. Occasionally they run a positive piece, and I acknowledge it here when they do.

There you have it, my general bitchiness about Age of Autism and by extension a clear reminder of why this blog is called Countering Age of Autism. Don't figure that's going to change any time soon.

Vote in the poll and have yourself a good weekend. I'm going to make it an Age of Autism free weekend and that ought to fix it right up for me. :-)

6 comments:

kathleen said...

I have an extremely difficult time reading AoA..There are days where it reads as a "hatefest" or in the comments, it seems to be a contest to see who suffers the most..who is the biggest victim.And then there is "recovery"..the golden fleece at AoA...so many people being taken in by the woo treatments-and wondering why their kids aren't getting better..and others discussing their recovered children-but being disappointed with the results. " They aren't the same child as they were before autism-that child is dead" How anyone in their right mind can talk of children-of people- that way is beyond me.
Sure every now and again there is a positive piece..but mostly it is anger and vitriol and misinformation....and then there is the comment moderation. They allow on only what they want to hear-or they will allow a positive comment on if it provides fodder for their nasty nasty bullying. So I do try and stay away from them. I know what they are about and I am not interested.
That being said-I can use some of the same type of criticism on the positive thinkers in the autism community. Sometimes it appears to me that some people are more interested in making a name for themselves than in the actual cause they are petitioning for. God forbid you come along with a new approach or a new way of thiking about things..you might usurp their position. Hey, your idea might actually be better! Some people care more about being in charge and being recognized than in the actual work. It's a damn shame.
I try and stay away from much of it. I just want to do my part in making the world more accessible to all people. Funny isn't it, how our humanity gets in the way of humanity. Guess you weren't the only one ranting today.:)

KWombles said...

Going to rant some more. :-)

They're worse than Huff on the post moderation. Sure, Huff is mostly woo, but you have a fair shot of getting on.

If they admitted the bias, presented themselves as a subgroup, I perhaps wouldn't get in such a snit. It's not a group I want to belong to, but it is their presentation as a news source for autism and their assertion that they'll follow the science (hah!) that makes me want to howl at the moon.

They're aren't too picky on commenters in terms of what woo they think caused autism and they'll certainly let you move through different causes randomly. If they were serious about their beliefs on what component it was, they'd be exclusionary to the commenters that think it's thimersosal versus MMR.

For sure, though, their bottom line is as long as you belief it was a big government/big pharma conspiracy to harm entire generations of children, you're welcome.


Look, these AoA writers and editors are attached to whale.to. Any reasonable person once he or she has looked at whale.to cannot in good conscience have another damn thing to do with AoA. It says everything you have to know about who these people are.

Corina Becker said...

In terms of the whole Big Pharma/big government conspiracy to harm entire generations of children, there's something I don't understand; what exactly are the supposed motives of the conspiracy? just to make money?

If so, do they really think that the entire mass of people who work for the government and in these companies, not to mention researchers and doctors, are so greedy and one-dimensional? Seriously?

If so that that, then I think that there's too many people reading fiction to distinguish reality.

Chromesthesia said...

You seem really sensible. I've seen your posts on other sites like Mom26kids.
I don't really like reading age of autism because they seem to depressingly negative. In fact I was looking for a site to counter them.
I don't like phrases like "autism epidemic" or "my child was stolen by evil autism and replaced with this changeling child" because it's dehumanizing and not very helpful for autistic people at all.

Plus they sound a bit too whiny and dramatic and I'd rather read something different than that.

davidbrown said...

I have two new articles up at evilpossum.weebly about Lee Silsby and other compounding pharmacies. Also have put in a little commentary on the relationship with AoA. I am inclined to think that if either was without the other, they would still be engaged in the same or similar activities. I have applied to them a line I put in a horror novel about a magician and a group of demons: Neither commands the other. They just help each other do what comes naturally.

Sirenity said...

I do NOT go there often, but I read AoA for these reasons:

as a reminder. A reminder to be very VERY careful as to where I get any medical and behavorial advice.

Entertainment: At times it is entertaining to see the AoA'ers spout their dogma

Editing purposes: At time I use their articles as a diving board for my own post-I edit their post, correct misinformation blah blah

Hugs and laughter