Michael Shermer writes in Scientific American: "So what? The fact that we cannot fully explain a mystery with natural means does not mean it requires a supernatural explanation. It just means that we don't know everything. Such uncertainty is at the very heart of science and what makes it such a challenging enterprise."
I liked that, thought it was an excellent encapsulation of being evidence-based. It's okay to admit we don't know something. It's stupid to invent an explanation so that we can have a false sense of security.
Random thought and interesting tidbit: people get to Countering by googling pharma whores. Countering is the number three hit. Fascinating.
People who don't like the content of certain evidence-based pieces, rather than answering the criticisms or direct questions, go on the attack and write nonsense like this, proving certain points for themselves:
" Conducting a quick Kim-style internet investigation, here's the evidence:
--She's blasted RPM as FC, yet she has Facebook friends who are FC proponents.
--She is not listed on the faculty page for Cisco College.
--She posted more pictures of her cats and flowers than of the 3 children with autism she claims to own.
One can either follow Kim's lead, and draw sweeping generalizations and conclusions about Kim's identity and validity. Or, responsible blogging adults can avoid stooping to the level of Kim and Kim's faceless cohorts in hurling profanities and ignorance as a means to "counter the age of autism"."
I responded on the thread in question, but some of it bears a repeat and an expansion:
If you actually read the RPM post, I nowhere blasted RPM as facilitated communication. And yes, of course, I have friends on facebook who are FC proponents. I also have friends who think vaccines gave their kids autism. I have friends who believe in reiki, too. I try to focus on the areas of common interest and working together to make the world a better place. If they're willing to accept that I write this blog, then I ought to be willing to accept that we believe differently on some things.
The commenter really can't google: here I am, with my syllabi available on the Cisco College website (each link takes you to a different division). To whit, I really have to add, with all due respect: dumbass (hey, she said we dealt out profanities here, so I'm just aiming to please). And again, it seems to be one of the favorite things folks who don't like what I have to say lead with: they question my credentials. Adjuncts typically don't appear on college and university webpages under faculty. I'm on the course schedules, though, and I have years of syllabi available as well as my college email listed on my website. It would be a really stupid thing to fake and then to go to the trouble to create syllabi not just for one discipline, but for two, semester after semester.
But, hey, throwing out aspersions rather than rebutting the arguments is a much easier task, isn't it? It's what AoA spends the lion's share of its time doing: smearing Offit and others rather than actually countering with any evidence for their assertions. It's easier to cry victim and blame big pharma conspiracies than it is to look for evidence, question one's own conclusions, own one's mistakes. I'm going to take it that these parents who've leapt to the attack on RPM's behalf to be no more evidence-driven than the AoAers. They certainly aren't any better at answering direct questions.
My girls' pictures don't appear here for good reason. And anyone who questions the reason for that when my name, my work, and all the information any one needs to find me is out there easily accessible, is using a really stupid argument and completely failing to prove her point. Since this is an evidence-based blog specifically meant to counter woo, I don't write often about my children. They have a right to be protected. Since I don't hide who I am, they aren't hidden either. It's a bs excuse and a subterfuge to note that I post more pictures of cats and flowers. The general public doesn't have the right to access to my children. Why not answer the questions directly posed regarding RPM instead? Must be because they have no good answers. I could insert a profanity here. Instead, I'm thinking of a quote from Paul Lazzaro in chapter nine of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five that would work well here.
And I really don't want regular readers to miss the gem "than of the 3 children with autism she claims to own." Yeah, I'm thinking not having pictures of my children (other than my adult son whose permission I have) is a really wise decision, you know? It would explain why some of these folks go to woo, though, wouldn't it, once you realize they think they own their children?
As to the rest, the commenter failed to respond to any questions, and then when I rebutted each of her points, ended with this bit: "Kim can obviously dish out criticism, yet not take any herself. You've validated my point, though, which was that just about anybody can do a few internet searches, draw warped conclusions, and then spread misinformation like wild fire. If Kim wanted to know the facts and all sides of the issue, then she might dig beyond finding a few websites to help build a lop-sided argument for her personal theories. I do wish I'd noticed the "unsubscribe" button sooner, as it's painful to have an inbox filled with lunacy, the content of which rivals that of shock jocks or hate mongers like Rush Limbaugh."
Ain't that pretty? Rather than responding to point-by-point rebuttals, the commenter preferred to equate evidence-based blogging and matter-of-fact rebuttals with a charge that it was lunacy, rivaling Rush. Right. Well, I think we can all agree that we're happy she figured out the unsubscribe button. It's worth noting, though, that my piece isn't really lopsided, unless you mean it in the way the AoAers do when they complain about media portrayals. I note, in my piece about RPM: According to HALO, “RPM is an empirical and rational teaching method, based upon how the brain works. Academic lessons are intended to stimulate left-brain learning, leading towards communication. "Behaviors" or stims are used to help determine the student's open learning channels.” Despite the claim of empiricism and rationalism, there are only two mentions of RPM in the scientific literature: Van Ackers and a brief mention in a case study by Gernsbacher in 2004 (thanks to Dr James Todd for pointing this out in a comment left in the Facilitated Communication article). It seems pretty balanced, to me, though. Here's what HALO says it is; here's what the scientific literature has to show. Silly me, thinking evidence for efficacy matters. Silly me, thinking that our children deserve to be treated with respect and not experimented on. Silly me, for thinking we ought to make sure that the therapies and supports don't harm them and really reflect their abilities.
And because this post wouldn't be complete without a ubiquitous flower photo, here's another painting my father did (although Rick and I did help out):