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. :-)