Doing Something Right: Conniptions at AoA

"An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All" by Amy Wallace

The powers that be just aren't having a good week over at AoA. First Jon Stewart. Now this Wired article. Irony is so thick over there in reading the Handley piece covering Wallace's article, well, it was a fine wake-up read, you know? Laughed my ass off.  And then got to the end and saw Handley encouraging angry, harassing (sorry, corrective, unhappy--right!) emails to Wallace.

So, what did I immediately do? I emailed Amy Wallace and told her I appreciated her willingness to stand (okay, I actually said I appreciated her balls to take on the subject). I encourage readers to do the same. AoA and similar organizations have apparently decided that hostility and harassment of people who disagree with them is the way to go. Harassment and intimidation are the name of the game. In short, they are bullies of the worst kind. And they need to be stood up to. People they are bullying should be rallied around and supported.

You know, if the data isn't working to support your crackpot theories, thinking that strongarm tactics and bullying will win the day is a chickenshit way to go about it.

Reasonable people debate. They discuss. They don't threaten. They don't harass. They don't bully. They don't intimidate. They don't cast the "other side" as trolls and sheople. People only do that when the debate's been lost. People only do that in cults. Seriously.

Other sites covering the Wired article are Orac at Respectful Insolence and LBRB. Feel free to add your link here if you've covered it as well. And remember, let's show Amy some support.


Mom26children said...

Hi Kim,
Since joining the work force, my time is limited on reading the "crap" spewed over at AoA. I did some catch up reading and see things are remarkably the same.
First the "note" they found, c'mon...
Then a mom who blames her son's autism for all of their woes, sickening...
Now, Teresa C. calls Dr. Offit "a very sick and criminal mind"...
Then another Theresa states that Dr. Offit does not even work with autistic children...BINGO !!!
Dr. Offit NEVER said he did. He just stands behind the science...he is a scientist.

I am amazed how these parent's will buy into the hype of a "Dr" from a university in Kentucky, a "pastor" who loves lupron, and a couple of quacks who work out of their house....geesh !!!

Oh, how I hope that Dr. Offit has a very good lawyer....I smell a libel lawsuit...

cawill said...
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Jannalou said...

Based on incredibly recent experience, I can say that I find those who know that vaccines do not cause autism are much more rational and reasonable than those who believe vaccines cause autism.

Even when I say I don't want to talk about it, I get told. Even when I explain that I don't censor people and they are free to believe whatever they please, I get told. Even when I refuse to engage (though I know exactly why all those news articles and videos are wrong), I get told.

Apparently, if I don't think vaccines cause autism, I should be harassed. Apparently, if I mention autism at an in-person meet, that means it's okay to announce that autism is caused by vaccines and that my Christianity makes me a flake.

I fail to understand what I did to deserve such insanity, especially since I apologized for saying that people who think vaccines cause autism are flakes.

Corina Becker said...

Lemme take a look at the article, Kim, and keep an eye on my blog. I might put something together. :D

Clay said...

I wrote and thanked her for her courage.

KWombles said...


I've been thinking about your post for the last couple hours as I've gone about my afternoon.

You write, "But Kim, that is precisely what Orac does at his site. Is it ok for them to engage in these tactics and not AoA? And people wonder why I call them the Oraccolytes and liken them to a medieval church."

I haven't got the years of reading and engaging in the autism wars, for lack of another term, that you and those you've been addressing have, so I can't speak to things I haven't witnessed. I believe you when you tell me that you've been treated with hostility; I've witnessed the hostility this year between you and Ken, for one example, and some posts at Orac, as well as yours regarding him at AoA. So, I get that there's a history there; it's just not one I'm privy to before March of this year.

Does Orac engage in the same tactics that, for example, Handley did in this piece? Does he call for people to descend on others with emails signalling their unhappiness with them? Does Orac, for example, post people's email addresses and work information out there with the explicit suggestion of harassment? Does Orac call people who disagree with him trolls and sheople because they disagree? Does he brook no dissent? Does he censor comments and decide where the debate will go in advance? Does he make it clear that he despises all who disagree with him?

I believe the overwhelming answers to those questions are a resounding no. He has banned TWO people. That's it.

Does it get harsh over there? Yes.
Does he go a bit beyond what even I would, even with my appreciation for bluntness and speaking my mind? Yes.
Does he hold people with the utter contempt that it is apparent some of the AoA folks do? I would say that's a qualified yes. I think there are individuals that he is contemptuous of. I think that as a human rights concern alone that it is not a desirable trait to view anyone with contempt.

However, it appears to me you are attempting to justify one group's bad behavior with the bad behavior of another individual's. And I don't think that's acceptable, Craig. I really don't.

Bad behavior cannot be excused because someone else engaged in it. And expecting people to go around denouncing all specific bad behavior is just a way to avoid dealing with the specific issue at hand.

I also don't think that Orac or anyone else who might perhaps be aggressive in expressing their beliefs that true anti-vaccination believers are wrong is attempting to stifle debate. And I would point again to the overwhelming lack of censorship at the scientifically based sites. LBRB? Less than a handful of folks banned. Orac? 2 banned. Here? Only two people whose posts will be deleted, regardless of what the posts say. That's not bad.

I'd remind you that it doesn't matter what I write, it isn't going on at AoA. Huh. And their tone over there has gotten increasingly ugly towards anybody who doesn't agree with them wholesale.

Corina Becker said...

"Bad behavior cannot be excused because someone else engaged in it."

We learned that in kindergarten, I think. At least, I did.

oh yes, I wrote a brief review of the article. Not much, since there's really not a lot I could go into without heavily quoting both the article or Dr. Offit's book.

cawill said...
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KWombles said...

Gosh, Craig, if I had praised him for engaging in the same tactics, I could see that as hypocritical. However, I did no such thing and I'm deeply disappointed if you think I did so.

You need to separate your intense personal dislike of the man from the contents of my posts. I noted he had a post on it. That's all I did. And I never praised him for engaging in bullying behavior. Your argument is not a valid one, but instead is a deflection from the argument at hand.

It still reads as you either trying to justify bad behavior by individuals who hold one position with the behavior of one individual who holds the opposing position rather than dealing with the specific behaviors and attitudes I call out in my post.

Again, it should be pointed out, anybody can post here (minus 2) and they don't have to agree with me. And I welcome them here. That same courtesy, that same openess and willingness to engage in dialogue, is not present at the anti-vaccination sites. And you cannot in good conscience pretend that these sites are anything other than anti-vaccination now. You can't. They've made it abundantly clear that they regard vaccines as dangerous things that no one should get. They hold themselves as morally superior to the sheople (their words, not mine) who continue to get vaccinated.

That's not your position, Craig, and I know it's not. I do not consider you an AoAer or anti-vaccinist.

My argument here is that this is not about finding out what caused autism. It's not. It's not about finding treatments, either. It's about winning; it's about taking down people who don't agree with them. It's about a lot of things, but it isn't about the truth and it isn't about making the world a safer or better place. Their tactics make that completely clear.

Louise said...

Well hey miss Kim. Been outta town for a spell, thought I'd drop on in ta chat. Mr. Craig! How are ya darlin? And Miss Corina...I'll drop by your place a bit later. I do enjoy your writin!
Now I got me a thought or two ta add to this argument an such.
I don't like Aoa. They done called my girl Thelma all sorts a harmful names-sayin she was uneducated and trashy. Hells bells! She's a Librarian! Second, cause they don't let comments on...they don't allow debate..lessen a course they want ta gang up on somun..Third, well some a y'all know I cowrote(with Miss Kathleen) a bit on that Handley fella-proved he lied. Lied. Ya don't do that. Not when y'all are talkin ta parents an such. Now I don't always care for Orac..or the commenters either.I see meanness there too. I will say this though..I ain't never caught him lyin..and he lets everyone post (ceptin for that Happeh fella with them strange man part ideas)
Now Craig darlin..Sugah, Even I make fun a Jenny McCarthy..good lord and butter! She made her livin fartin on t.v.! Now she's an "expert" on autism..Just cause the womans got enhanced bosoms don't make her brain enhanced! Shoot my golden orbs a glory will beat hers any day-an I got quite a few years on her..Craig, I tried ta see your profile..see iffen you were a writin a blog an all..Darlin, you got a story ta tell. One that needs ta be told. Not at AoA..not through debatin Orac..So I'm askin ya, for true, what all are ya lookin for? Now I seen ya round tha interwebz an such..I got ta say..when I see ya in certain places, I tend ta overlook what yer sayin cause it gets all mixed in with the bullyin an such. I know bits a your story-I'd like ta read all of it-without anyone elses ideas pollutin it. Like I said..what ya got ta say is important-it could help somun..ya ken

Heraldblog said...

Orac doesn't intentionally mislead. If he makes a mistake, he clears it up and moves on. That's what separates Orac the scientist from JB Handley the guerrilla marketing flack.

It's the difference between science and belief. Handley the true believer knows what he knows, and no amount of evidence will shake that faith. Handley still believes, all evidence to the contrary, that the prevalence of autism has risen from 1:10,000 in 1983 to 1:91 today. That's like a kajillion percent increase!

Ridiculing Handley and his acolytes is a privilege that comes with being right. Orac has earned that right a 100 times over. Craig buddy, this is one time that unearned privilege won't work for you.