David Brown: To Left Brain/ Right Brain, and others whom it may concern

David Brown:

To Left Brain/ Right Brain, and others whom it may concern,
I am writing this letter in response to a hostile post by AoA, and as followup to the LBRB post “A Clarification” regarding posts by me which have now been removed. My first concern is to deal with a major claim in the AoA post, that in the LBRB post now withdrawn I “libeled Age of Autism, which (I) accused of circulating a `hoax’ and of forging an official document regarding the scandal.” This reinforces an initial complaint by Dan Olmsted that my article was an “accusation of a hoax by aoa”. In reality, I never said, never meant to suggest and in fact never believed that the document was forged by a member of their organization, and when some people showed confusion on this point I went to great lengths to clarify my position. I can add that if I had thought a member was responsible for a forgery, I would not have had the slightest hesitation to make that accusation openly, as I have done on plenty of occasions in the past.  Finally, I consider it very important to make it known that, throughout the weeks between Olmsted’s original, conceivably sincere complaint and Crosby’s insulting post, I repeatedly communicated my actual position to AoA.  I also warned them in increasingly strong terms that their refusal to acknowledge this (which I suppose was probably nothing more or less than a way to conserve Crosby’s hatchet job for a strategic morale boost before Wakefield gets struck off ) easily fit the definition of libel.

Moving on to “friendly” sources, I have been strongly urged over the last month to make an admission of error on my part.  At the present time, I can only do this up to a point.  Obviously, I was wrong in denying that Thorsen was a suspect in a forgery (though I will say in my own defense that the US CDC and other relevant authorities were very slow in producing any kind of confirmation that he was a suspect).  I also admit that I erred in putting to much weight on certain types of evidence as favoring a forgery. However, I simply cannot, as a matter of personal judgment, go so far as to say that the document’s authenticity is confirmed.  I am not going to argue or explain my reasons any further.  At this point, I would prefer to concede authenticity, just for the sake of moving on.  But until someone at Aarhus acknowledges writing it (and preferably answers some questions about why it was written), all I can honestly say is, I don’t know.  In the long run, I consider this for the best.  I always prefer honesty, even when it costs me, and if AoA is going to keep claiming that I first refused to say what I meant and then said what I didn’t, no defense will suit me better.

Finally, I will offer sincere apologies to those whose criticisms I may have given less attention than they deserved.  After time for reflection, I think that I let the threat from Olmsted distract from “friendlies” with concerns and generally cloud my judgment. On further reflection, I have come to a major decision:  While I will definitely continue writing related to autism, and plan to submit works to other blogs as well as posting them on my own site, I am going to limit how much I write about the anti-vaccine movement, and definitely not engage it directly by eg. trying to sue AoA out of existence. It won’t be because I am the slightest bit intimidated, but because I have too much wrath built up against people like them already for it to be healthy for me to act on it.  I was reminded of just how much while writing the climax of a story that I was wrapping up when all this was blowing over. I also think now of my much older stories of the original Evil Possum, whose pretty much unbroken winning streak included enough Pyrrhic victories to guarantee that sooner or later, there would be no more possum.  That’s reason enough for me to let this fight go.  Showing the extent of AoA’s wrongdoing, and their utter helplessness in the event that I had the resources and inclination to take them to court, will be revenge enough.  So, if I have something insightful and positive about autism, there’s a good chance I will submit it here.  For insults, systematic destruction and massive overkill, I’ll always have the Possum and the rest of my fictional demolition crew.
  David N. Brown

KWombles: I've posted this as a courtesy to David. As one of the "friendlies" -- personally, David, that kind of feels like a Crosby-like aspersion, since Crosby likes to signal his disdain with a hefty sprinkling of quotes around words like science-- I encouraged blogging what we could confirm, or where we were unable to confirm, minimizing speculations. I made a few errors in the posting of the story as it progressed and I attempted to rectify those errors as soon as they became apparent.

There is a definite entrenchment between the AoA loyalists and what probably feels like the rest of the world to them at times. I'd rather not think of them as enemies and to remember that they are human beings with emotions and feelings who are undoubtedly sure of the rightness of their positions. They're wrong, but that doesn't make me superior to them. All you have to do to see that they tend to view those who disagree with them as teh very height of ebeel and for sure in someone's pay is go read them. This is not a position we, as reasonable and compassionate people, should ever want to see ourselves adopting.  

In short, I can and will point out that they are factually incorrect and often, well, to put it as Thelma and Louise would, dumbasses to boot. Some of them, though, are extremely hostile and approach Bestian proportions that should signal us to approach them with caution or not at all. At some point, even reasonable people get tired of the feel of pissing into the wind. Many of the individuals supportive of AoA have reached the level that any interaction with them has reached that point. The focus should be not on carrying out a scorched earth policy but in offering a counterpoint that provides factual information, positive coping mechanisms and a clear support system. That is the best possible countering of all.


Dawn said...

@Kim: thanks for posting this.

@David: one of the major differences between you, LBRB, Orac, and other posters compared to AOA is that you (and the others) are willing to admit when you make a mistake. You apologize, correct, and move on. I admire you for making this statement.

Joseph said...

However, I simply cannot, as a matter of personal judgment, go so far as to say that the document’s authenticity is confirmed.

Strictly speaking, you could say that it hasn't been confirmed that it's not a forgery. But is that a reasonable position? Hardly.

For one, Aarhus would've been livid if someone had forged a document by them, plus there's no motive for such a forgery.

David said...

It has crossed my mind that the fact that Aarhus is NOT confirming its authenticity could itself be considered a strong argument for authenticity. But, that will also serve to reinforce what I have taken as a given, that if it is authentic it was published against their wishes, contrary to the impression conveyed by anti-vax sites.