5/18/2010

Kent Admits He Lies, But Never Gets Around to Telling the Exact Lie

I'd like to ignore AoA for a day. Really, I would, but when you get crap and you get bad writing on top of that, how can you?

Kent Heckenlively pops back up at AoA today, and right off the bat reveals a truth that I think most of us appreciate. The shame is, it isn't the admission we're hoping for: "For many years I’ve been telling a lie.  I sincerely apologize, but plead extenuating circumstances."

I was hoping we'd see an admission that his head had been thoroughly ensconced  up his rear and he'd finally pulled it out, seen the light, learned from the error of his ways, and in a sense he does; it's just that most of us will agree he went deeper into the woo trail: "The simple truth is I didn’t know."

Kent then promises "I’ll let you know which part is a lie." He then relates a story about his son, who he rescued from autism (apparently) by putting him on the GFCF diet shortly after his son's 18 month shots and  the typical AoA regression story. Kent weaves this in with the story of his nephew who was fine but later diagnosed with absence seizures.

Kent never explicitly delivers on his promise that he'll let us know the lie, but I have to assume it's this:
But it’s increasingly difficult for me to sustain my old belief that “some children can handle the vaccine schedule and others can’t.” 

If Kent fails to deliver on the promise of revealing his lies, those who've already commented reveal their truth and what I take to be his newfound belief as well: "I believe that every child who is vaccinated according to the current schedule has his or her health damaged. You see it again and again in people's babies."

Having bought into the irrational idea that vaccines are somehow to blame for autism and seizures in his daughter, that vaccines caused a regression in his son that he was able to recover him from, Kent, a well-educated individual, rather than pondering the likelihood that seizures are heritable opts for illusory correlation and the cementing of his incorrect assumptions regarding vaccination.

Blaming vaccines gives a certainty, a bogeyman, that the folks who buy into the AoAers spin desperately need. I don't personally understand it, but I don't need certainty either. I'm okay with the idea that we don't know or understand the world fully, but we should keep trying.

Choosing to blame vaccines on everything wrong with children, and by extension the world, today, and believing that behind that is a global conspiracy to continue to harm people apparently has a magnetism to it that these folks are drawn to. It makes no logical sense. Their belief structures are patently absurd looking on from the outside in, but it obviously exudes enormous attraction for them.

In the end, rational people must look at these parents, many of whom profess to be teachers and otherwise educated individuals who really should have learned something about critical thinking and the evaluation of claims, with something akin to pity. Towards their children, though, is where our real concern should lie. Their parents' inaccurate and false conclusions determine the interventions, treatments, and medical care these children will receive. That ought to scare the crap out of us.

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