Olmsted reprimanding the writer of Denialism on plagiarism: I'll start out with noting he is technically correct, in that the passage appears to be plagiarized. If those two passages are in fact word for word as they appear, then intentional or not, it was taken from Offit with very little adjustment and would have meant a failing grade if I had caught it (as a college English instructor, I've already dealt with four incidences of plagiarism this semester and take it beyond serious). Doesn't matter if it was unintentional, so it's nice the author took accountability and will fix it. The problem I have with both paragraphs, incidentally, is a lack of sources. I know that both are written for lay audiences, and it may be the publisher's preference, but when I read factual information or information sourced elsewhere, the English and psychology instructors in me want attribution for the information. These books aren't throwaway comments; they are arguments to believe information and conclusions. They need to provide a trail right back along the path to how they drew these conclusions.
So, there, I start out with a common agreement with Olmsted that plagiarism, unintentional or not, is not a good thing.
***From Liz Ditz in the comment section below (quotes added to Specter's blog quote)***
Liz Ditz said...
From Michael Specter
"My Mistake and an Apology to Paul Offit
November 8th, 2009 Posted in Blog
There is nothing more important to me than accuracy, and there is no place in my book, Denialism, where I tried harder to avoid careless mistakes than in the chapter called "Vaccines and the Great Denial." I didn't succeed, though, and I want to make sure readers are aware of that. In a section describing the origin and workings of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program I quote extensively from an article in The New England Journal of Medicine written by Dr. Paul Offit, the well-known vaccine researcher. At one point in my narrative (which begins on page 88 of the book) however, I stopped quoting Dr. Offit in order to explain, in my own words, the meaning of some of the medical terminology he had employed. I then returned to Dr. Offit's description of why the court was created and how it works, and should have gone back to quoting from the NEJM article, but did not. It was an accidental oversight which I will correct as soon as new copies of the book are printed. I told Dr. Offit about the mistake as soon as I realized I had made it, and, as always, he was gracious. But I also wanted to make readers aware of the error, which I regret."
While technically plagiarism, to me, this is a copyediting or formatting error.
Note the date of Specter's acknowlegement & apology -- before the AoA article.
Now, irony, here: Olmsted, seriously, maybe you haven't committed the cardinal sin of plagiarizing, but you have far worse to anwer for. After all, your shoddy reporting is the backbone to the provenly false conclusions that the Amish don't vaccinate and don't have autism. So, maybe you could turn that critical eye of yours to your own faults. And I can't help but notice that you didn't denounce Spector for calling AoA anti-vaccine. I do believe I'll take that as confirmatory: Age of Autism is anti-vaccine.
For an excellent deconstruction of how badly Olmsted got it wrong: see David Brown's page for a series of articles: http://evilpossum.weebly.com/olmsted.html.
We move onto another quibble. Olmsted writes that the folks at AoA are "smart, well-informed and decent people whose grasp of the truth is much stronger and harder-won than yours."
Well, let's take a stroll, shall we?
I believe I have at least a couple posts throughout Countering demonstrating that decency. Sheoples, trolls.
Oh, and then there's Handley and his intellectual rape bit. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/10/the_anti-vaccine_movement_strikes_back_u.php
There's Kathy Blanco actually having the bad taste to suggest that infectious diseases are good for culling the herd, or words to that effect (and Jen who should be embarassed for explicitly stating it over at LBRB and seeing no wrong with it). --it got to where I quit naming her when I ran quotes from her; they were just that bad and I was trying to be gentle as her comments got further from reality; hard won, strong grasp of the truth, anyone? Swear I had a blog on this last week, as well, and that it was a comment of hers. http://counteringageofautism.blogspot.com/2009/10/it-seems-to-be-week-for-anti-vaxxers-to.html
And just last week, rileysmom got herself quoted on Orac for her decency. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/11/an_age_of_autism_commenter_destroys_yet.php
I have no doubt many of AoA's folks are intelligent. I completely quibble with the contention that they are well-informed, unless we mean well-informed of woo and bunk, because that they absolutely are and they hold tight to it with a religious that nothing will touch.
Perhaps they are decent people in some areas of their lives. Perhaps. See, to my way of thinking, the kind of things they write, the uliness and venom they spew relatively anonymously on the web belies that completely and speaks to their character far more than what they do in the real world where people can see them. And those who do it with their names full out in the open, who show such ugliness, who demonize those who disagree with them, well, no I don't consider them decent people, not on balance, not overall.
As to Olmted's last bit of that line: "grasp of the truth is much stronger and harder-won than yours": no. Olmsted wrote that AoA was going to follow the truth wherever it led. I believe I have demonstrated quite well over the last several months that this is not at all true.
And having autistic children doesn't make your truth harder-won. For frak sake, that's like saying your child is your science. It demonstrates your ignorance of the truth, of scientific evidence, of psychological fallacies. You keep making the same errors over and over. You spiral into a cesspool of nastiness and hold yourselves up as morally superior and smarter because you see the truth. You are becoming a cult.
No, I quibble completely with the idea that you are "smart, well-informed and decent people whose grasp of the truth is much stronger and harder-won than yours." You are angry, hostile parents who are hurting. You believe with a fervor bordering on fanatical that you have the answers of autism. You are so close to being just like John Best Jr, on the whole, that soon no one other than your most zealous followers will afford you any weight.
Again, whale.to and holocaust denial. That's who you people are. You aren't in it for the truth. You aren't in it to make the world a better place for your children. You aren't in it for your children, despite what you think, or you'd treat autistic adults a damn sight better and you wouldn't engage in bullying.
And I grow weary that the smart, decent people amongst you do not stand against the lies and abuse. Ideology drives this, not the pursuit for truth.