10/31/2009

A Response to Stagliano on Gordon's Huff Post

Any odds on whether it makes it on the thread?


http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/10/good-clean-fun.html



You give the unmistakingly clear impression that people who choose to vaccinate and who argue with evidence behind them that thimerosal is not implicated in autism are trolls. You've called them that on Huff many times. Where are the trolls, you ask, with no doubt about who you mean, when Kirby has a post up that gets ignored.



You allow obvious falsehoods on your site.



You maintain those falsehoods despite being made aware of them.



Seems to belie your willingness to engage in thoughtful debate about the need for vaccines. In fact, your tendency to call anyone who disagrees with your position about vaccines trolls belies a reasoned position on vaccines in general.



Your website's promoting of unsubstantiated vaccine injuries, as well as a general dismissal of H1N1 deaths and serious significant complications belies a willingness to engage in thoughtful debate.



I could go on with additional examples, but I believe I've made my point.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Big surpise, this did not make it on. :-)

It seems to be the week for anti-vaxxers to applaud actors and musicians for speaking out on vaccines.

At least the worst of Brent Spiner's comments was that he liked Jay Gordon and folks should educate themselves. Yes, I think that Gordon is a physician who panders to his celebrity clientele, who wants his name out there, and who isn't the brightest bulb. But, for goodness sake, now musicians have decided they need to put out their two cents of heeping ignorance, and AoA leaps right onto it like it's manna from heaven. Well, no frikkin wonder, explains so much. And AoA's resident wackaloon thinks this proves, hell I don't know, that she's not a wackaloon. Hello, monkey virus, anyone? Umm, lime disease? Umm, I don't know what it is, but it's all bad and it's all to blame for autism and the ending of the world.

Now, I've been trying a more nuanced approach lately, I have. And I thought, gosh, let this pile of stupid go? And I considered it. I mean, I'm leaving out the other two comments piled high with ignorance that she's made today, so ain't that something? Doesn't that show restraint?

Oh, by the way,  I still feel like crap, and I caught two students plagiarizing today so I'm extremely irritated at that, so there is some slight potential that I am choosing to vent on this particular stupid-ass comment:

"And so it goes...all vaccines create NEW DISEASES and NEW EPIDEMICS...that's why I hate them so...and as such, we should too...the tide is changing...maybe we anti vaccine nuts and loons are not so crazy after all?"

Then again, this is such a seriously stupid comment that I could have been all lightness and sunshine today and still been annoyed with it. But, seriously, come on, even Craig can't think this anything other than dumb? Right, Craig? Tell me you don't think that this beyond ignorance?

You know, you take me to task for not condemning Orac for engaging in tactics I berate AoA bullies for engaging in, so just for you I wrote my Data piece, right? So, for me, Craig, can you be honest here and back me up? This is stupid. This is a problem. When we don't stand up and at least gently note the fallacy here, we're condoning that sentiment, right? Unless you no longer align yourself with them? This person admits she's anti-vaccine repeatedly. She admits she thinks vaccines are worse than the diseases. You know that ain't right. So, how come no one ever says to her, you know I think you're a bit off here? How come her stuff always seems to get on? Since it's heavily moderated and my stuff, even if it's a kudos, doesn't get on, then how can you take this allowing on of craziness while censoring most dissent as anything other than AoA's endorsement of these views?

You know?


And now, for a slightly different topic and the closest this person is going to get to acknowledgment from me:

Oh, and for my reader who doesn't get the point: I censor 2 people here (potentially 3, still on the fence there). The people banned will get no play here. Ever. Period. Unless, I suppose, they ceased harassing people, inducing people to kill those they disagree with, apologized for all their past harm and then shut the hell up. Barring that, buddies (although one of you has been smart enough to move on), I'll delete every comment like it never existed. And I won't feel a bit bad about it. They're  bullies and I don't have to deal with them And neither do my readers. I hope everyone who disagrees with their rhetoric freezes them out. Oh, and I didn't get the idea for that; I'm just following the lead of T and K. They have a wise position on the whole thing. If I could do the automatic text generator on blogger and just alter the comment to complete nonsense and leave their name and profile picture, I'd do that. Because that's frikking hilarious.

 And I hope that those few people who still agree with them and support what they're doing get frozen out from other people's blogs as well. It's called zero tolerance. And it's part of changing the world one dumbass and one bully at a time. See, kick-ass kumbaya.

So, how many knickers just got in a knot? It's the new poll of the day over to the right.

10/30/2009

H1N1 Kills half the children the flu usually kills in a season in ONE week

I'm going to beat this into the dirt. Seriously. As the troubled woman with psychogenic distonia continues to make her anti-vax rounds, and the anti-vax sites continue to dismiss the seriousness of H1N1 and to blow smoke up their readers' asses regarding vaccine ingredients, children continue to die. 22 children died last week in the US from H1N1.

Some links worth looking at:
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm#MS
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm#EIPNVSN

2009-2010 Influenza Season Week 42 ending October 24, 2009



All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received.


Synopsis:


During week 42 (October 18-24, 2009), influenza activity increased in the U.S.






•8,268 (42.1%) specimens tested by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories and reported to CDC/Influenza Division were positive for influenza.


•All subtyped influenza A viruses being reported to CDC were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses.


•The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold.


•Twenty-two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported. Nineteen of these deaths were associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection and three were associated with an influenza A virus for which the subtype was undetermined.


•The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was above the national baseline. All 10 regions reported ILI above region-specific baseline levels.


•Forty-eight states reported geographically widespread influenza activity, Guam and two states reported regional influenza activity, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico reported local influenza activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not report.

Windmills, Tilting at them, and Bully Pulpits

I've been thinking about tilting at windmills. You know? About how one finds the fortitude to stand and do the right thing. I've been thinking about how people see themselves, the meta-narrative of their lives, the role they put themselves in. Of course, good, bad, or otherwise, we put ourselves in the center role; it's our life. So, we are all heroes, and anyone who opposes us is the villain. Who casts themselves in the villain role? Have you ever seen a bad guy think he's the bad guy? That what he does is wrong? No, he's the hero in his piece, and all of his actions are justified. Self-reflection is not big on the bad guy's list of things to do.

It's not that easy, though, or shouldn't be, to assign bad guy status, or to reduce people into simply two groups, with each group seeing itself as the good guys and the others as the bad guys. There are several problems here, not the least of which is the dehumanization of the other group, and the fact that getting along, finding consensus and problem solving ain't happening with a group you see as less than human and worthy of derision.

And it's come to that, in many ways, in what can be argued to be the autism-vaccine skirmishes (if not outright war). Now, I have very little doubt that those parents who are militantly anti-vaccine, who blame vaccines wholesale for everything that's gone wrong in their lives, want it to be a war of sorts. I've already written this week of their scorched earth policy.

It's enough. Using your bully pulpit to intimidate people, to harass people, threatening to sue people who disagree with you, it's enough. It's enough to begin to change the mainstream's opinion of  your role. You're not the underdogs who've been dealt a blow by a big government-industrial collusion to damage children. This isn't Erin Brocavich. You know? You're not the little guy. You're not David. And I don't think even you would cast yourselves as Don Quixote. But perhaps you do; perhaps we all do. Isn't that the ultimate testimate to how we view ourselves? That we stood, and we stood firm.

I'd argue that it ought to be possible to stand firm to ideals that we will not dehumanize those who do not agree with us. Autism shouldn't be about ideology. It should be about science. But, in the autism-vaccine skirmishes, it is becoming just that: ideologically driven. One side believes vaccines did this. One side believes there is an autism epidemic. That the big pharma wants to turn our children autistic. Still stupid. Sorry. It is. Gonna stay stupid.

One side in the autism-vaccine skirmish needs someone or something to blame for their or their child's autism. Alcabes writes in Dread,

The Black Death is also our model for the central role of public reaction in defining an epidemic. Until there is a public response, there is no epidemic. Autism became an epidemic only once policy guidelines in the United States required that public schools make accomodations for autistic children.
Later on, Alcabes notes,

An epidemic must be attributable to people who are disliked or activities that are disdained.

According to Alcabes,

Latter-day epidemics with elusive causes allow people to lay blame.

This is what is happening here. A small division of parents (sorry, internet yelling doesn't mean there's a lot of you), perhaps around 10,000 or so, although I'll double it and say 20,000, based on the various membership numbers of yahoo groups related to the autism-vaccine mythology, have laid the blame at pharmaceutical companies, the AAP, the federal government, Offit and Nancy Snyderman, and anyone on the IACC who has the temerity to not agree with their idea of causation.

So, how do people who think that autism is not vaccine damage, and do so based on the preponderance of evidence *back away from the exchange with the anti-vaxxers ** and not engage in the same scorched earth policy?

Well, for starters, we keep uppermost in our minds that desperate need for answers they are feeling.

We remember the need for feeling in control that is driving some of this.

We remember that sick feeling in our stomach when we know something is wrong and we don't know how to fix it. That's where they are, some of them.

And then, we remember that some of these people aren't nice people. They aren't interested in kumbaya, even if it's kick-ass. They don't want to make the world a better place. They just want it to be better for them. These are the people who bully. Who intimidate. Who threaten.

We don't have to demonize them; we need to feel compassion for them. We also need to remember that some of them are not to be trusted, are there not out of desperation, but to take advantage of that desperation. To use their bully pulpits.

And we stand. Maybe with a little bit of the Don Quixote in us, maybe with a lot of him. Tilting at windmills. Well. It's all the rage, you know. What these parents do, what these organizations do, the disinformation they spread, the fearmongering they engage in, the ugliness of spirit they show as they ravage and feed on each other's ugliness (go read what they write on Offit); all these things are actively hurting our children and adults on the spectrum. They're hurting us as parents of autistic children. If their portrayal of parents with autistic children wins as the dominant mainstream impression of what autism is all about, what parents are, well, holy shit, you really want any part of that? You want to be thought of as woo-loving, deranged-mineral-transport-believing, for Christ sake, RNA-melting on your tongue and draining-your-wallet gullible, desperate parents who think nicotine patches, HBOT, chelation, IGIV, and now pot are the way to recover your children?

I don't. So, I'll do a little tilting, if you don't mind. A little kick-as kumbaya.

For an excellent and absolutely important read that, well, tilts a little at windmills and stands, stands tall and proud and impressively, go read David Brown's "Sore Winner" at http://evilpossum.weebly.com/vaccines.html.

*(don't quote me the 14 studies; it just proves my point) --see http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10997 for the IOM's 214 page book on Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism that can be downloaded for free --

**(sorry, that's the label they get when they no longer spend their time advocating for research, for increased safety through testing for risk factors and instead spread the woo far and wide and call people who do vaccinate sheople and then go and write for and support sites like whale.to)

10/29/2009

A mega Star Trek geek speaks

I love Star Trek. I recorded all the series, watched all the eps numerous times, have well over 200 hundred Star Trek related novels. Have the toys. Have a Star Trek Xmas tree. I live and breathe science fiction. Seriously.

And I've got to do this, got to take a stand and say that sometimes overzealousness is found on both sides of the vaccine issue. This week, an AoA writer directed people to essentially harass Amy Wallace if they didn't like her piece on Wired. I said this was wrong. It's wrong to tell people to send hateful mail, wrong to harass someone just because you disagree with them. It would be just as wrong to attack Brent Spiner over his Gordon comment and his hedging on vaccination, even though the request to tweet him was not phrased with a hostile intent nor advocating hostility or attacks. It just smacks of trying to sway people to believe a certain way based on how much peer pressure you can apply. And I frakking hate peer pressure. It is not a correlate of critical thinking; it's critical mass instead.

Apparently Brent Spiner likes Jay Gordon. I could quibble with that, certainly, and it's clear that Gordon tries to straddle a fence that ought to have his private area in some level of pain. And I think Gordon makes his decisions based on his best financial interests, not on science. But, Brent Spiner, in saying he think folks should educate themselves on vaccines and make informed decisions in and of itself, unless he's directing them to whale.to and other nutjob sites, hasn't committed a cardinal sin, and it is a free country. He's not said something demonstrably false as Jenny McCarthy has. And damnit, people ought to read the reputable information before putting something into their body. Reputable information. Seriously. People need to make informed decisions. And some people shouldn't vaccinate. Don't you want them to read the information provided by the CDC, work in conjunction with their doctor, and make the safe choice for them? Blasting Spiner because he's said essentially the same thing that I just did because he did it in conjunction with an appreciation for Dr. Jay Gordon, I don't know that it serves any good. Unless you want to blast me, too. On the face of it, leaving Gordon out, Spiner's position isn't horrendous. It's political. It's popularity based. It's like Lisa Jo saying she doesn't have a position either way on the whole vaccine-autism thing. It's disingenuous.

You know, it's a difficult world to navigate out there. Who do you trust? Your doctor? Well, okay. Except some doctors are quacks. Come on, seriously, they are, and Orac acknowledges this. You cannot say listen to the authority figures, the doctors, and then say, oooh, not these, because they're the quacks on your say-so alone (not something Orac has done, by the way; gads, he's provided plenty of corroborating information to support his contentions). Because you know them quacks are saying the same thing. What the hell are the masses to do? It's not like their education was primo and they're stellar critical thinkers. You know? So, bully pulpits, wherever they are found, are inefficient as hell at getting folks to think critically. I think some people are  so into the woo that nothing's going to drag them out. So, you essentially write those off and cease to engage them, and you focus on putting out accurate information for those who are still on the fence. It's a hard line to walk, to provide that information, that just right amount of insolence. And those of us engaged in the dialogue often find ourselves tottering on that line. How far to go, how far back of the line, where to stop. It's a judgment call.

Personally, Data weeps, well, he would. Reason, logic, critical thinking, looking at the evidence rather than relying on emotion. All things Data the character represented.

Orac suggests that those who tweet do so to "gently try to educate Spiner regarding the error of his ways." This is drastically different from AoA's call to action. However, I don't think it would do a damn bit of good to tweet Spiner. Even though it doesn't have the hostility that AoA's post did early this week, it doesn't feel a whole lot different in principle. Bother him until he agrees with us. Not likely.

Tweet him or not, I don't think it will do anything other than polarize Spiner completely against your position, and affording the fictional character greater weight than the actor, well, that's just bound to piss the actor off. Or have we forgotten Nimoy and Shatner's work where they repudiate their Star Trek roles (I know, then they turned around and embraced them again--remember, I've got the books!).

Now, Craig, I'm writing this post for you, because I saw your post on AoA, and I think we're probably in some fair agreement that tweeting Spiner, who I'm having a really hard time not just calling Data, isn't the way to go. And I'm going to say it, the name calling and the disdain put you at a level that I think is less than where you should operate at. Name calling Orac gets you where? I know, there you are thinking, "but you've called people dumbasses." Yes, I have, and chickenshits as well. And I've always explained the reasons. And I'd argue that isn't dehumanizing or disdainful. More descriptive, you know, and I hope that it's been clear, that like Thelma would, I'd give em a big old hug while pointing out they are dumbasses, you know?

Spiner, as long as he doesn't go around saying there's antifreeze, fetal cells, etc, in the vaccines and that vaccines will kill or make everyone autistic, is safe from my rants. I'll note that he likes Gordon, think he's a bit woo-sie, remember he's not Data, and move on, a bit disappointed. :-) And I am an uber Trek geek.

By the way, #38 over at Orac's is an excellent, reasoned comment directed towards Spiner.

No vanilla for me, Another one bites the dust, and Insomnia


Bobby, standing in the rear, with the sweatshirt and mask


Yesterday my husband I and attended our son's halloween concert at the day center he attends. He did an awesome skit to "Another One Bites the Dust," a song which will now NOT get the frak out of my head. He pretended to fight a friend, and it was a sight to see, he and his friend bobbing and weaving. I laughed the whole way through in absolute delight. The whole concert was one that had me laughing and tearing up.

It was awesome. It really was. They were energetic performers who were thrilled to be up there in front of family and friends. It was a heart-filling experience. He is well-liked there, as well, and we were inundated with friends wanting to meet us and shake our hands (many we've known for years).

It's a good fit for him. He's liked, he's happy, and he's of help there. He's accepted and cared for. It is a wonderful program.  It does have some low-key drama, but it's low key.

As I watched this diverse group of individuals ranging from teenagers to the elderly, all with disabilities in common, I thought about cures. About neurodiversity. About what it means when we say we want to cure someone of what we perceive to be a disability. And it seems to me that a lot of the disability labeling remains a social construct. It is a way of defining ingroups and outgroups, the haves and the havenots, the worthwhile and the waste-of-times. Of course, the mainstream dominant group gets to do the labeling.

And the folks who tout the idea of curing the disabilities that create a subgroup of mentally challenged and physically challenged might just be a wee bit uncomfortable with people who are different. I'm not talking about ignoring real needs, offering care, compassion, acceptance, supports, whatever the disabled need to be successfully integrated into society. I'm just saying that a lot of it ought to be society adapting, not the disabled.

Also, there's an element of moral superiority in assigning disability status, an absolute sense that the non-disabled is superior. And I think that's wrong. I do. So, I looked at these sixty plus individuals who attend the center with my son, whom he has known for six years now, who care about him and accept him as he is, and I thought about those people who would push for cures for each of them as if who they were was inadequate, insuffient, insignificant. And I thought of those who would look at these interesting, animated individuals and see them as lacking, as less than, and I was irritated. I think that, when the support is adequate, when the acceptance and appreciation is there, these people who are unable to care independently for themselves can have very good, extremely satisfying lives. Where the support sucks, where the appreciation and respect are not there, I think their lives can be an abysmal hell.

I think that rests squarely on society's shoulders. And I think that organizations that promote the idea of vaccines as the culprit for autism damage their children's future and mine when they engage in their bullying and fear mongering tactics. I think they don't speak for me, for my children, for many of us and it's more than time to make sure that if people in mainstream society hear someone calling themselves a warrior or an autism parent and they aren't in the military and aren't autistic themselves, the mainstream will have a real clue as to the belief structure of the person they are dealing with. These parents haven't put child-centered language first in their advocacy; they've placed themselves first. It's about them. About recovering their American dream of a cushy, easy life in which their children outshine others.

To look at someone with a disability and feel sorry for them is to demean them and their inherent value. It presumes you have an elevated status above them. To look at them and feel empathy for their challenges and respect for how they persevere is to see them as fully human. To work to assist them in creating what they consider meaningful, valuable lives while working to reduce any suffering, to heal illnesses is not noble. It's the right thing to do. And too many people in our society are narcissistic, selfish, what's-in-it-for-me jerks who want to feel better  about themselves at the expense of others.

10/27/2009

I'll take your facts, thank you very much, and use them to distort***

Yes, because it's just that easy, you know, when you've got pre-set ideas and you filter everything you read through that prism. So magically, the flu season is over in Australia and all cases of flu have stopped because the season's over, right? Oh wait, it's not that easy? The flu continues in Australia, just abated? Ah. I see. Oh, and the people dying over there, less than 200 people, big deal, right? Because those four pregnant women, no biggie. Oh, and that overall, those dying from the flu are younger? Get out of town. Nearly 5000 people hospitalized in a country of 22 million and some change. Again, why get bent out of shape? It's just an itty bitty virus causing most people just moderate amounts of misery. I mean, what's the hoopla? So, some die. Even more spend weeks in ICU. Even more spend a week or more really miserable in the hospital. Everybody else has a week or two where they just want to curl up in a ball and make it all go away. Why would you want to do something to prevent that? Really?

All of these things just prove the H1N1 is no big deal. None at all. And applies universally. No worries. It's not you, after all, who's losing people to the virus. What do you care?

Those vaccines, they're full of toxic chemicals, don't you know that? Now, give me my cookware that's aluminum, my baking soda that's aluminum, my canned goods, my sodas, and my botox injection. And some viagra, too, because some of those chemicals, even if they can kill you, are worth the ride out. Frak, and give me a tuna salad to go. Wait, I think I'll light up a cig, no harm there. What? You can put nicotine patches on your kids and maybe they'll be calmer, have less tics that bother you? Holy shit, pot? I can give them pot, too? Mellow them right out? Well, hell's bells, why didn't you say so? It'll make it easier when they get H1N1.

***Extreme sarcasm has been engaged in.

Some light reading from http://www.flu.gov/professional/global/southhemisphere.html from August 24th:
Epidemiology


The overall number of illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths attributed to 2009 H1N1 virus is difficult to ascertain based on the information available. The clinical characteristics and basic epidemiology of 2009 H1N1 virus in the selected countries in the Southern Hemisphere during their fall/winter influenza season are, so far, similar to the 2009 H1N1 disease experienced in the U.S. in the spring/summer.

Most mild cases occurred in children older than 5 years of age and adults younger than 65. Overall, rates of severe illness, hospitalizations and death attributed to 2009 H1N1 virus are similar to those observed in the U.S. Both in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, age distribution of cases differs from what is usually observed during seasonal influenza epidemics, when hospitalizations rates are highest among persons younger than two years and persons 65 years and older. Of note, Argentina and Chile reported that among the hospitalized cases of acute respiratory syndrome, children up to 4 years of age are the most affected. However, both countries report that only a low percentage of cases (less than 20-30%) in this age group represent 2009 H1N1 infection, whereas more than 70-80% represent Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

Like the U.S., where 71% of the reported deaths have occurred in persons 25-64 yrs old, countries in the Southern hemisphere have also observed the highest number of deaths in adults.

A high proportion of cases (47%-60% in different countries) had known risk factors for severe influenza complications, such as chronic lung or cardiovascular disease. Similarly, most countries confirm an increased risk of complications in pregnant women infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus. In Australia and New Zealand, indigenous populations also seemed to be at greater risk of severe complications than non-indigenous persons.

Closing the book and making allegations regarding the minimal effect that H1N1 will ultimately have when there is no sign that the virus is petering out is, well, presumptuous at best. Hey, though, if it skews it to your view of reality, it's all good. Why let truth stand in your way?


Addendum: genocide: killing whole races of people. Crap. Autism is not a manmade genocide.  However, scaring the shit out of people and making them think vaccines will kill them might be a start at it. Of course, thinking vaccines are causing autism, which you've defined as a manmade genocide, just might make you a.....wait for it.... what is that, Thelma and Louise, again? The word escapes me. Hmmm. Anyone?


Note: I notice a tendency when I am ill or dealing with sick children to get really pissy about this kind of thing. Huh. And I tend not to feel bad about being pissy. Thankfully, I have been swabbed for the flu and my current misery is a wicked sinus and ear infection. Antiobiotics have been prescribed. Perhaps I will be in a more kumbaya mood soon. Perhaps not. :-) At this point you may picture a stuffy nosed, open-mouthed, wicked grin and evil cackle. Or not.


***Addendum: I gotta. Truth could walk up and smack some of these folks in the forehead and they still woundn't know it. And the misinformation being spewed over there boggles the mind. It really does. Oh, and I'm being really, really nice to call it that. Because while some of those folks are just repeating what they've read without critically examining it, some of them are spreading known falsehoods. And to add to that would could be taken as threats to Offit, well, seriously. I repeat: not good people. Not nice people. Bullies.

10/26/2009

Vilifying the Other Side: Does it help you win?

The internet was out here all day yesterday and until less than two hours ago. It was quite a break from the autism-related blogs. Truthfully, I don't look at AoA more than a couple times a week now, so there are articles I completely miss, don't even know about. That's probably a good thing. There are very few positive pieces there. I don't know if that's always been the case, but it seems to me that since I have been looking at AoA since March or so of this year, the site has gotten uglier and more hostile to those who don't agree with them down the line. And the leaders of AoA get uglier to people in general who stand up to the vaccines-cause-autism rhetoric. I've written posts on this, about the trolls and sheoples comments, about how AoA followers and its editors actively try to dissuade vaccination in general with a smug contempt for anyone who avails themselves of disease prevention. And how dare you try to comment on Huff, if you don't agree, but of course, if you don't comment, how dare the trolls for not being out. There's no winning, here. Many of these people have adopted a scorched earth policy towards anyone not walking their line.

It can wear a person out to read them. Attack after attack on Offit, with smug superiority, and yet disinformation and obvious, pointed-out-to-them misinformation. Cuz the scorched earth policy feels so good. I have no idea, now, what AoA's endgame is, what they want to change. It doesn't seem to be autism awareness. It doesn't seem to be fostering or promoting tolerance of disabilities. It doesn't appear to be a support system for parents of children with autism or for autistic adults. Nope. Sure doesn't.

It appears to be the destruction of people who disagree with them. It appears to be about ending vaccines, not about making them safer. It appears to be about selling products that will "recover" your child. It appears to be about being martyrs and victims who have been damaged by big government and big industry (umm, your sponsors are big industry, aren't they?) who stand up to the trolls and sheoples and somehow comeout victors. I haven't figured out how or where their children figure into this, but I guess the kids will be recovered, at least, and if not, it's because the pharma conglomerate wants whole generations of autistic individuals (you know this makes not a bit of sense, right?) and the AoAers just woke up to the whole vaccines, lyme disease, SV-40 thing too late. But that's okay, because Blaylock, Wakefield, the Geiers, Deth, etc., they can fix it.

You know, I don't think the parents who disagree with the vaccine as a cause of autism forget that these people are that, people with feelings. I know I don't. I've written many times that I'm aware that these parents are hurting. They are angry, and they want answers. Uncertainty doesn't sit well or easily on them. And they often have a religious fervor to their conviction that they have the answers and the unfortunate zeal of the converter that they will either make the disbelievers converts or destroy them. I think that these parents are in the minority. I think most people find a way to cope adaptively. I don't think what AoA's writers or the vast majority of commenters are doing is adaptive coping. I think it's malicious and ugly. I understand the tremendous rush it gives them, the sense of vengeance playing out for them. It doesn't make it right, though.

It's a damn shame. It's worth remembering that not everybody is a nice person. Not everybody is a decent person, and bullies exist in every group. When one group systematically sets out to dehumanize those it perceives as belonging to the outgroup, you've got a problem as a society. It seems to me that those who uphold the values of neurodiversity, that each individual has dignity and worth, stand against this kind of vilification and dehumanization.

10/23/2009

H1N1 Still Killing and AoA Still Acting Like it's No Big Deal and the Vaccine Bad

Last week's stats (according to NBC News, Friday Oct 23rd):

2500 plus people hospitalized in the US for H1N1.
90 died, 11 of them children.

More detailed stats available: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm

AoA still playing the same games and dismissing the seriousness of the virus and the benefit of the vaccine:
http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/10/governor-paterson-of-ny-reverses-h1n1-vaccine-mandate.html#comments

If you put your fingers in your ears and go na-na-na-na long enough, you really look foolish.

10/22/2009

Fired Up Ready to Go, or an examination of comments at AoA: Proof Positive

"Before vaccines, everyone came down with measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox etc. If vaccines work, how could 1% to 6% opt-out rates result in pre-vaccine numbers of people getting these illnesses?"

http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/10/wired-magazine-and-amy-wallace-drink-paul-offits-kool-aid.html#comments

There's a study out on assessing competency in oneself that I've made reference to before. It applies here nicely. The above statement is so grossly inaccurate and yet the individual making it has no idea, and having read a fair amount of this person's comments over the last six months, this person routinely demonstrates a lack of awareness on how inaccurate the statements she makes are. That's okay; she's in fine company over there. Facts, they don't need 'em. Their intuitive understanding, their beliefs, and their utter convictions prevail.
 
This is an article (Dunning et al.) that anyone interested in making sure he or she is armed with the self-knowledge that it takes to have a better chance to assess whether we really are competent should read. Absolute convictions are risky things. We fool ourselves in a variety of ways and if we aren't aware of that principle in general, it bites us in the ass on a fairly regular basis. The problem is that we are so sure we're right, we don't feel those nibbles. And we may even go so far as to use any nibbles at our ass that we do feel as proof we must be right. Persecution complex, anyone?
 
I think what's going on with people in the anti-vaccination  movement is incredibly complex and I'm not suggesting I understand all the nuances of what is motivating each individual person who proscribes to the belief that vaccines are deadly and worse than the disease. But I'm pretty clear on a few things:
 
These parents are hurting and casting about for answers and for cures.
They're angry.
They think they've been hoodwinked.
There are charlatans and crooks attempting to peddle them easy answers and buy-my-product cures.
They think they have the answers now and that anyone who can't see the light as they have is the enemy.
They hold these beliefs with a religious fervor that procludes skepticism.
They consistently overinflate their level of competence.
 
This last is precisely what happened when the person wrote the above comment quoted. It displays an ignorance of infection rates, an ignorance of percentage rates, and an ignorance of her competency to assess the validity of the statistics and what they mean.
 
We all make mistakes. Turns out that competent individuals are more able to assess where they might be wrong. They estimate their competence more accurately and do not overinflate it.
 
 
An article on this study:
 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/01/18/MN73840.DTL
 
 
The citation for the article:
Dunning, David; Kerri Johnson, Joyce Ehrlinger and Justin Kruger (2003). "Why people fail to recognize their own incompetence". Current Directions in Psychological Science 12 (3): 83–87. doi:10.1111/1467-8721.01235
 
Can be downloaded here:
 
http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache:HqdMpBN_k0MJ:www.psy.fsu.edu/~ehrlinger/Self_%26_Social_Judgment/DunJohnEhr%26Krug.pdf+Why+people+fail+to+recognize+their+own+incompetence&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgk6aEo7SxwCteyDeSpdHlW8zH18fBkXHSygJ9QHLswvdrsRDqU7WESIBX7ut9DRhteiuYd1ysGYfbo-9azSFdVmRdZ11VylOzqnCQSowDKgjWxqu9UeiqGNObb7tLdyt8YtNKI&sig=AFQjCNH6j1ezqFgbaH3KRyiCGp9WZc35qA
 
 
***I know it says comments, but I'm out of writing time. Ya'll feel free to pick some and examine them here. Be nice, though.

10/21/2009

Doing Something Right: Conniptions at AoA

"An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All" by Amy Wallace
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/10/ff_waronscience

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.

10/20/2009

National Stim Day Anyone?


An idea is born: National Stim Day. So many autistic individuals have stims that cause them to be stared at or mistreated by strangers and non-strangers. Truth be told, we all have stims, odd little self-comforting gestures or behaviors to soothe ourselves. Let's make the world an easier place for everyone. Wear your stim with pride. Ooooh, buttons! To stim or not to stim.



Kathleen wrote a wonderful post that touched on stimming and how to make the world a more accepting place for our children (and ourselves, in all honesty) and their stimming behavior. http://autismherd.blogspot.com/2009/10/to-eeee-or-not-to-eeee.html

And from that post, the idea of a National Stim Day is born.

I think buttons. Really.

"I Stim"

"Good Stim to you"

"What's it stim you?"

"It's all stims to me"

We all have quirks. We all have issues. Some of us have a bit more. People and society need to bend a little and deal with it a little better. It is our infinite diversity that makes us interesting, exciting, fascinating people. And we all are that: interesting and fascinating people.

Why should it only be the beauty pageant winners who get to hand flap with acceptance? Seriously? They hand flap. And that's fine. In that context. They frikkin practice handflapping.

It's time for a change. Time for more acceptance. Time to quit hiding our own stims. :-)

Trolls, Sheoples, and Arrogant Hostility

Kirby has a new post on Huff/Age of Autism on Landis's resignation from the IACC. In it he assumes an innocent position of surprise on many fronts, and professes regret that she's resigned. On the other hand, folks over at AoA are in the midst of a rather vindictive and hostile happy dance over the resignation. Anyone who disagrees with them, anyone, is fed to the sharks.

The hostility seems to grow exponentially, as well. I understand that it's not a lot of fun to have people disagree with you, but this hostility that these particular parents feel towards anyone who isn't with them totally is unreasonable. And it's directly fostered and encouraged by Age of Autism's managing editor.

She comments at Kirby's article at Huff, and in doing so explains readily the hit pieces on Offit: "As long as Alison Singer is on the IACC, Dr. Paul Offit is on the IACC. You can take it from there."

She then sees the need, and I have no idea why she does, to post this, in short seemingly making the claim that if you post on there and disagree with them, you're a troll:

"David, did you omit the keywords that open the troll floodgates on this post? Is this post too much about human beings and not enough about vaccinations for them? Did the dog eat their talking points? Perhaps it's a just a busy Warcraft day." 

Of course, the most loyal of AoAers who also Huff comment weighed in, showing off their various layers of hostility. So where are the folks who typically post on the Huff stuff by AoAers and the other autism articles? For example, why don't I post over there as often as I used to? First, I have a blog, and I know that if I write it here, it's going up. No censorship here.  Huff moderation is a pain in the ass. It's not as bad as AoA, where I know it's not going on. Second, well, I swear I have a law over there somewhere about arguing with people who have demonstrated a lack of connection to reality. 

Debate, reasoned argument, discussion can only occur where there is some level of consensus on the basic facts. Increasingly, there are fewer and fewer points of facts that can be agreed on. It's not nearly as polarized as AoAers would have people believe; there aren't extremists on the vaccines-are-better-than-dying side that don't aknowledge the reality of adverse effects from vaccination. For example, I absolutely acknowledge that adverse reactions occur in an unfortunate minority. I think continuous research on making vaccines as safe as possible and identifying individuals at risk are necessary things.

I do not believe in the validity of claims made of adverse reactions weeks and months after a vaccine. Everything I can find on vaccine adverse reactions suggests that adverse reactions happen either immediately or within several hours, not days, weeks, and months later. The whole GBS fearmongering, for example, my friend Thelma was able to find out, is distorted beyond reality. The flu vaccine does not and can not cause a viral infection. It may reactivate it.

AoAers claim to have a special hold on reality. They know what autism is and us sheoples and trolls have it all wrong. They know the danger and evil that vaccines are and any science we have to offer to counter their knowledge is met with arrogance and hostility, as well as accusations of being paid to argue against their outright ludicrous positions. And if we fail to give them the attention, that's just as bad.

What Katie Wright and AoA did with Landis's notes was in poor taste. They aren't interested, apparently, in ethical behavior or in anything other than controlling the whole show and in foisting their view of reality of everyone else. Sounds like a cult to me.

AoA isn't about finding the truth about autism, wherever that truth is. It isn't about support or adaptive coping. It's about right-fighting, bullying and intimidation. That's what they did to Landis and Landis capitulated. Who needs that kind of continuous villification? I don't have a problem with her notes, over all. of course the anti-vaccination AoAers did. And you don't get to say you are for safer vaccines and repeatedly put the anti-vaccination propoganda and misinformation on your site and have anyone take you seriously. You don't. People who are for safe vaccination say that first, confirm and verify their stories of adverse reactions, and get the science right. AoA does none of that. NONE.

Kirby's conciliatory piece is an attempt to soften up what they did. It's damage control. Maybe not for AoA itself, but for Kirby.

For comments by Stagliano, see:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/nih-agency-head-backs-vac_b_325221.html?show_comment_id=33042662#comment_33042662

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/nih-agency-head-backs-vac_b_325221.html?show_comment_id=33041475#comment_33041475

10/16/2009

Friday Morning Links and Happy Thoughts

Here's to everyone having a wonderful Friday and an even better weekend. The girlies are well and in full girlie form, which means lots of attitude by my biggest flower. These kiddies of mine have one volume: LOUD! And when the garden girlies couple it with attitude, it wakes you right up. It also makes studying for tests challenging. But their daddy is taking them to school in 40 minutes and it will just be me and bright boy in the house until he leaves for the center. Somehow he manages to be even louder, but he seems delighted to have me alone for an hour once a week. It's a nice way, even with little girl atttitudes, to end a week. And even with a test in a few hours!

I thought I'd share some more friends' sites this morning.

Marc Rosen writes for Examiner.com; you can start with this article of his: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-21742-Long-Island-Autism-Examiner~y2009m10d5-Two-new-studies-and-the-weirdness-gets-weirder. If you click on Long Island Examiner, you can see the rest of his pieces.

Nightstorm the AspieWolf has her site at http://prismsong.blogspot.com/.

Corina is at http://nostereotypeshere.blogspot.com/.

Kathleen is at http://autismherd.blogspot.com/.

Just a reminder that many more wonderful writers are on the blogroll down and to the right. :-)


I hope everyone has a good weekend, that you are all well and well-rested. I had a pretty good week, my children and husband did as well, and for that I am grateful. :-)

10/14/2009

David Brown's "An Assault on the H1N1 vaccines?"

From David this week is this article on the H1N1 vaccine. Here are the last three paragraphs of his piece, which can be found in its entirety at:
http://evilpossum.weebly.com/uploads/2/6/2/2/2622709/h1n1.pdf.


Like last month’s Wakefield/NAA “press release” on Offit, this is a grossly misleading and partisan text. It is also, returning to the “Fortean” angle, very much like an urban legend, blending together with a broader mythology of dubious claims of less certain provenance. The allegations against squalene can easily be classified as a “legend”, particularly in that it centers on the unverified report of its use in the early 1990s.




Another issue worth watching for is what I call “phantom quotes”, unverifiable statements attributed to perceived authorities that seem to emerge full grown and untraceable, like the Loch Ness monster rising briefly to the surface. Such appocryphal or anonymous statements are well-known to folklorists, particularly as a typical component of bogus warnings and as a whole genre involving alleged inappropriate behavior by celebrities on television. (The “P&G/Satanism” legend, woven around an interview that never happened between an unnamed P&G executive and one of any number of talk show hosts, can be considered a representative of both.) This is a problem that has come to the attention of debunkers, for example in a dubious "quote" attributed to an unnamed employee of the Health Department of Oregon by J.B. Handley last month. There is no doubt in my mind that the “phantom quote” phenomenon is playing a major role in stories about health care workers refusing to take the H1N1 vaccine(s).



A particular instance I have investigated is coverage of a study titled, “Willingness of Hong Kong healthcare workers to accept pre-pandemic influenza vaccination at different WHO alert levels: two questionnaire surveys”,widely quoted by online and other secondary sources as finding that “half of health care workers refuse H1N1 vaccination”. But what the paper itself states is that, out of a reported “2255 healthcare workers (who) completed the questionnaires in the two studies”, only 389 responded to the one questionnaire which included questions about H1N1, and that 47.6% of them responded in the negative. This means that, strictly speaking, 10% of all those who responded indicated they would accept the H1N1 vaccine, another 10% indicated they would not, and 80% were given no reason or opportunity to comment. Thus, saying that half were against the vaccine(s) is clearly an oversimplification at best. Secondary sources may distort the paper further, for example by claiming that 8,500 were surveyed. This probably means nothing more or less than that the story in popular imagination has become detached from the actual study, hence departing from the realm of science (good or bad) into that of folklore, to join whatever real, imagined or self-created monsters haunt the minds of men..

10/13/2009

Oh you, with the missing the point and pretense to innocence and martyrdom

Twitter / From Age of Autism: If you don't want a cure o ...: "If you don't want a cure or treatment for your/your child's autism, why does it bother you that I do? How is it your business?"

Every busy gal needs a break from studying and grading essays. It dawned on me that I hadn't looked at Age of Autism in a while. Above is one of their latest tweets.

So many problems with this, and it had me thinking on the thread that will not die over at LBRB by Guest Blogger.

First problem: the misconception that people standing up to AoA/GenRes/Safeminds/et al. are against treatment for behaviors that are interfering with successful functioning for the autistic individual. I don't know of any one who isn't for intervention. It's less than honest to suggest that the differences between anti-vaccinists/pro-chelation etc. and those who are for evidence-based practices regarding vaccines and autism can be reduced to anti-vaxxers being pro-treatment and everyone else being anti-treatment.

Second problem: the way this is worded has (I'm guessing it's) Kim Stagliano saying she wants a cure or treatment for me/my child. That would make it my business. I know, nitpicky. She (or whomever) had 140 characters to get it done. Probably not what she meant exactly.

It's my business and society's business in general if your desire to cure your child's autism involves abuse. To pick back up on the post by Guest Blogger at LBRB, nicotine patches slapped furtively on a child in a place where teachers or other caregiver are unlikely to see it, well, that lets me know you know it's wrong. That list of "treatments" that Guest Blogger details at LBRB is abusive. It matters. Your child is not your possession and you do not have the right to indiscriminately experiment on the child with every quack "medicine" that comes along because you have decided your child is defective or "sick." You don't. And any doctor who colludes in the mistreatment and abuse of children by imposing medications and treatments that involve the potential for significant harm to the child with no demonstrated medical necessity is guilty, at the very least, of betraying his Hippocratic Oath.

This really shouldn't be so hard to understand. It should be a no-brainer. You don't get to experiment on your child because you've decided your child's condition is a significant auto-immune disorder or mercury poisoning despite evidence to the contrary. Oh, I know, you can find a quack lab and a quack doc to feed your needs and to "treat" your child. And you can find online communities to support your habits and feed them, as well. It still doesn't make it right.

All children deserve respect, compassion and a safe, caring environment. You fail as parents to do that when you engage in the kind of behavior that it appears many are engaging in, based on the posts in these online support groups for people who believe their children have vaccine-induced autism.

Not all parents who have autistic children and believe them to be autistic due to adverse reactions from vaccines go down these extreme "treatment" trails. Some, perhaps even many, appear to cope adaptively and positively. They aren't stuck; they aren't desperate; they don't think their child is defective. They love their children positively and celebrate their children. What's going on here with this subset who engage in the serious woo and quackery and downright abusive behaviors?

Why are some of us insistent that these parents (who do as this mother that Guest Blogger describes appears to have done) really love their children? What does that mean? Their behaviors are excused because they are doing it out of love? You know, I think it's perfectly acceptable to say this is not the behavior of a loving parent. I think society gets to define what being a good parent is, and we can collectively say that if you do x,y, and z you don't get to claim moral superiority and that you are a loving parent. If your actions traumatize or injure your child, either physically or psychologically, then you're not a good parent. I don't care if you think you have the best of intentions if the result is traumatic. I don't.

Loving your children means looking forward to the adults they will become and being able to look them in the eye as you are held accountable for your actions towards them and for them. Did you treat your child, his personhood, with respect? Did you accord him the dignity he deserves? Did you make your decisions based on what was best for him and not what was convenient for you? Were you logical, reasonable and rational in your decision making regarding your child or did you let fear and other emotions control your decisions? How much of your behavior towards your child is about you? How much of your reaction to your child's autism is about you? Really? Is about making things easier for you?

We've become a lazy nation. We wear our children as our accessories. They are not. My child's social status does not reflect on my social status. If you think yours does, then you're not being a good parent.

10/12/2009

Read This! Shameless Plugs of Friends' Work and your chance to plug :-)

Good Monday morning! My girlies are on the mend, so worries and sleep deprivation have been eased. It's amazing what that will do for one's mood. :-) Still, I feel strongly on the prevention of that kind of worry and exhaustion on the parents' front and that kind of misery for your children. Just saying. I'll beat a dead horse into the ground, perseveration and all.

So, as I start my week out, with an Anatomy and Physiology lab midterm this afternoon (groan, but yippy -halfway there) and the prospect of grading essays this evening (same parenthetical applies), I thought I would share some reading suggestions.

David Brown has a new piece up at his site, http://evilpossum.weebly.com/vaccines.html. Look specifically at his latest article: "Vaccine madness! Do psychiatric disorders feed “anti-vax” belief?" It's an interesting and provocative read.


Turner & Kowalski always have interesting posts up. The latest, http://turnerandkowalski.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/40-hours-a-week/, provides the interesting dilemma that if it's not okay for adults to work 40 hour work weeks, why would 40 hours of ABA be appropriate. I think that Americans will probably shake their heads some, as so many of us actually work well more than 40 hours, but I'd agree that 40 hours of  repetitive therapy using aversives to get a child to do discrete, often seemingly pointless tasks is not something I'm for. Never have been.

Last one I'll plug this morning, since I really need to study for the midterm is my friend Clay at http://cometscorner-clay.blogspot.com/.  He writes some very poignant, thought provoking pieces.



I know my blog roll is buried down there some on the right, but it's worth the scroll down to see some really brilliant writers.

Ya'll feel free to plug your blogs here in the comments section. :-) And think of me frantically memorizing bones and bits.

10/09/2009

H1N1 Kills. And it kills children. 76 dead. Color AoA and anti-vaxxers dumbasses

"A total of 76 laboratory confirmed 2009 H1N1 pediatric deaths have been reported to CDC since April."
http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm


Both my daughters have confirmed cases of the flu right now. We had our regular flu vaccinations two weeks ago, and the doctor who saw my daughters said they will not need the H1N1 flu vaccine when it comes out, as they have H1N1 now.

Age of Autism and other anti-vaxxer bloggers, and for God's sake, Rush Limbaugh, who AoA had to immediately claim (and welcome to him you are ), have been near hysteria over the H1N1 vaccine. Their regular commenters and other anti-vaxxers elsewhere have posited that disease is a way to cull the herd (unless it's their kid, I'm sure). They spew venom and spit out lies, distortions, and mistruths regarding vaccines and the dangers of the diseases they protect against.

76 children in the United States have died of this virus that both my daughters now have. 76 since April of this year. 76. 16 of those deaths were THIS week.

And yet, AoA and like-minded folks spew their hysteria over the vaccine. Not over the virus that is killing children. Nope. Not a word for those families. Not a thought for those children, those parents. Instead, the rage over thimerosal, aluminum and calcium chloride continues.

My friend Thelma wrote about the AP poll that showed a third of American parents polled weren't going to get their children vaccinated against H1N1. A third of them. 76 kids are dead in less than six months from this virus and a third of American parents aren't going to protect their children because of the hysteria created by organizations like AoA, Gen Res, Safe Minds, and people like Wakefield, Kirby, and the ever bustful and poop-concerned Jenny McCarthy.

My daughters and thousands of children like them are sick now with a virus that will be preventable with the vaccine that is slowly making its way to communities around the United States. Some of these children are going to die. 16 did this past week. 16.

Let me echo Nancy Snyderman, who the AoAers like to deride, and say to parents, get the damn shot. Get it for you and get it for your children. Don't stay up all night watching over your children, keeping track of the fever, wondering and worrying if your child will be one of the unfortunate children who dies from this virus. Don't be the parent of the child who transmits it to other children at school, forced to worry and wonder if a child who dies from the virus got it from your child because you were too scared to vaccinate your child.

To echo Thelma, who often calls it bluntly, don't be a dumbass.

10/06/2009

The New Epidemic: Woo and pseudoscience -- by hook or by crook

In Dread, Alcabes discusses the faux-autism epidemic and the anti-vaccinists' false assertions regarding autism, epidemics and causal factors. This would, no doubt, have the AoA loyalists and their compatriots at Safe Minds and Generation Rescue in a frenzied tizzy. It's not been a good week for those who are convinced that vaccines spell doom and the end of the world. They're mad that mainstream media dismisses their claims concerning autism and vaccines in general. The evening news makes non-vaccinating people sound like idiots.  They do. I'm not saying they're right to do so, or balanced, but they are making it clear that people who don't get vaccinated against swine flu are not the brightest and are risking public health. The AoAers, no doubt, believe them all to be pharma shills. Or worse. Nuance is not something any of the news stations do well.

As usual, I will offer my normal disclaimers: some people shouldn't get vaccinated. That is clear. That said, it's beyond ridiculous to not vaccinate out of a misguided fear that thimerosal will cause autism. It goes beyond a paranoid fear of thimerosal and measles now;  now it's sodium chloride and other salts (I kid you not, see Orac's deconstruction of an anti-vaxxer's post or the actual lunacy on display here: http://vactruth.com/2009/10/02/fda-approved-h1n1-vaccines-contain-ingredients-known-to-cause-cancer-and-death/). Actually looking at this site led me to another post "Sheeple Dying to Take Shot – Daymare Insanity Begins 10/15" which is the same garbage, only it's all black so you have to highlight it to see any text.

Between vaccines and the H1N1 flu to get folks all good and riled, the anti-vaxxers didn't really need any new material, but they got it and got into a bigger tizzy: a survey from Britain revealed 1 in 100 adults are autistic, and "new"" information over here revealed that it's 1 in 100 or so here, for kids. These numbers are not a big surprise to anyone who's been paying attention. Now, the AoAers hate the numbers for adults and one of their resident woobies decried the whole thing and spewed his venom wherever he could on the matter. Does anyone, outside of the AoA loyalists, take AoA writers/editors seriously? Left Brain Right Brain has a good article covering it at 1 in 100 adults are autistic. It also has the new US numbers, so I won't duplicate their good work on both subjects. But the AoAers are practically swooning over the CDC's change. Dismiss the idea that there's a large, fairly well functioning population of autistic adults in the community and focus on the revised numbers, and you've got yourself confirmation of your autism epidemic and fuel for your fire to argue that you are parents to very sick kids.

Never mind that there is no evidence to support the contention that autistic children are ill. They do have epilepsy at higher rates than non-autistics, but that's not what the anti-vaxxers are promoting. They promote a view of a child who is overgrown with yeast, who suffers intense intestinal distress. Never mind that neither of these things appears to be in fact the case. I'll leave the yeast alone and touch on the gastrointestinal issues that anti-vaxxers insist are uniform in autistic children. Research shows that autistic children are no more likely to have this problem than the general population. A shitload of folks out there, me included as is the pun, have gastrointestinal issues. I don't have leaky gut, and chances are real frakkin strong neither do your kids. Woo to you. My immune system ain't out of whack either (at least not gastrointestinally), and chances are neither are your autistic children's. Autism is not a health related disorder. It is a neurological condition that is not progressive, that is not neurodegenerative. The disease process was over by birth. If your child has health issues, they are not autism. And reading Boyd Haley, the Geiers, Wakefield and Deth isn't going to make you right or even knowledgeable.

After all, you're the ones who keep arguing about antifreeze, formaldehyde, aborted fetal cells, aluminum salts, and now table salt as being in vaccines and causing them to be dangerous.


I may be discouraged by your lack of critical thinking skills, your inability to assess your relative competency, your willingness to buy into woo and pseudoscience by hook or crook, and I may even occasionally call one of you (or two) a dumbass, but I have never displayed the sheer contempt that your insistence that anyone who disagrees with you is a sheeple does. I don't despise you, hold you beneath contempt, or think you have sold your soul to big nutraceuticals.

10/04/2009

Why We Worry about Vaccines (Huff post comment to the article)

There seem to be some fairly sweeping generalizations by the author regarding fear levels among the citizenry regarding flu vaccines. Are most people worried about adverse effects, about being rendered suddenly autistic?



New studies regarding autistic adults show that, just as there 1 in 100 kids who are autistic, there are 1 in 100 adults who are autistic. Hardly seems validating for the vaccines cause autism charge, unless we will now shift the argument to incorporate previous generations into that causation formulation.



If you're concerned about vaccines, try reading reputable information, and by all means, be as cautious regarding your medication usage as well as your CAM usage. At least the FDA regulates medications. Not so for your vitamins and homepathics. Oh, and there's nothing to stop wackaloon doctors from profiteering off of desperate parents and peddling them the idea of deranged mineral transport and ALA as a chelator or the idea of RNA supplements that are, if they actually contained any RNA, destroyed instantly by saliva.



If some people would have as much skepticism of the woo as they did of mainstream medicine, well, some quacks might be out of business.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Disconnect: Dead rat, ominous cleansing, and the devil

A man with a dead rat on a tray walks past me; I see the man, but miss the rat on the tray.


"Autism is the devil. I realize it is a part of who my child is..."


"I feel a sense of ominous cleansing."



I've been mulling some things over in my mind, trying to understand the reactions people have to adversity. Some despair, give up, are like Droopy Dog. Learned helplessness is a very real state of being, and there are a couple bloggers/commenters for whom the world will never be a better place, who do not see that their actions play a large role in their existence, who instead blame their autism for all that has gone wrong with their lives, while at the very same time, denying that autism is a part of them. It takes some serious wrangling to make that illogical assertion, but they do it time and again. And I think of Erikson's stages of development, which are often a good conceptual  tool while not a hard fast law, especially his stage of identity versus role confusion.

If you are taught that autism is a bad thing, the devil, as one parent in the quote at the top asserts, not just in one place, but in two places, with the link back to the blog (think way-back machine: even if some day you remove your stuff on your blog, your child will still be able to find these words where you have said autism is the devil and a part of your child), then you absorb that message into your identity: autism is bad, autism is a part of you, therefore you are bad. Preserving the ego requires the disconnect of somehow trying to separate that and keep it away from the core of who you are. In some, that becomes the above often tortuous logic that autism is to blame for everything bad in their life but it isn't them. Hard to make your life better then, isn't it, if you can't see where your actions are causing your problems? Impossible to make change.

Many parents out there, enough to make a strong woman cringe (one mercury related group has over 8000 members), have made the connection between autism and mercury poisoning, never mind that it isn't based on evidence. They know what they know and what others have told them, and that's good enough for them. Hey, I know I walked by a man on Friday and there was nothing in his hands either, but the other two people walking with me saw that he had a dead rat on a tray. I know what I know, though, right?

Fortunately not, because I know how faulty perception can be, that I in fact do not "see" everything going on around me, and that a fair proportion of what I do "see" is a construction of my brain based on past seeing. I was focused on weaving my way through the crowd to get to the classroom, my mind on the test ahead. I noted the man as I passed him, but I did not look directly at him. Now, did the two young women actually see a rat? Maybe. To really know for sure, we'd have had to backtrack, find the man and check. Why? After all, two people saw it and agreed. Because they saw it for a split second, and as soon as the first did an eek, well, even if she were right, suggestibility plays a large role in our perceptions. Doublechecking is key.

Perhaps if more people were aware of just how faulty memory is, of  just how easily tricked perception is, of just how many shortcuts are hardwired into our brains, leading to often good decision-making, but sometimes horrendously poor decisions, as well, well, maybe folks would be more willing to wonder if they really know what they know they know. And they wouldn't be quite so certain there's a "sense of ominous cleansing" on the horizon just because it's flu season and flu shots will be given. Maybe they'd consider for a moment that there is something inherently frakked up when you write, not once but twice, that autism is the devil but is a part of your child.  And maybe, they'd even allow for the possibility that a dead rat on a tray could walk right past them and they wouldn't even notice.


Quotes taken from:

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/09/25/autism-speaks-video/5541/



http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/09/confessions-of-a-believer.html?cid=6a00d8357f3f2969e20120a58492cd970b

10/02/2009

AutSpks Walk for Columbus Ohio --ASAN --- and other notes of interest on a Friday

http://prismsong.livejournal.com/7484.html

Nightstorm, aka Bard Child of PrismSong, has asked me to share with readers a protest arranged by ASAN for Columbus, Ohio, on the 12th of October. Her blog provides more information, as does this post: http://asansouthwestohio.blogspot.com/2009/09/asan-protests-against-autism-speaks.html

Nightstorm would also like to know if she changed to blogspot, if that might make more folk comment. Why not, if you haven't given her lovely blog a try, go take a look and then let her know here or at her site which blog hoster you find easier to leave comments at?

I hope everyone has a good weekend.  I have a sizable stack of papers to grade and a chemistry test (and homework) and and A&P lab practical to study for, so am set for another weekend full of eye strain. :-)