Autism One: The yearly anti-vaccine quackfest begins

It’s that time of year again!

No, I’m not referring to the unofficial start of summer here in the U.S., namely the Memorial Day holiday, although that is fast approaching. In fact, it’s only five days away. No, I’m referring to something that, beginning today, will blight my favorite metro area (Chicago) for the next few days. I’m referring to the anti-vaccine quackfest that starts this morning in Lombard, IL and is known as Autism One. As long as I can remember blogging (OK, maybe for the last four or five years), as Memorial Day rolls around, I can’t help but get that sinking feeling as the vaccine rejectionists, conspiracy mongers, and believers in the scientifically discredited notion that vaccines cause autism springs into action, to be topped off (usually) with a keynote address by Jenny McCarthy herself.

Given the ubiquity of its quackery, every year I’m usually mildly curious enough to see what the quackery de l’année is each year. So, in honor of Autism One, let’s peruse the Autism One speaker list and see what we find.

First off, I wondered whether, after Mark Geier’s medical license had been suspended in Maryland and David Geier kicked off the Maryland Commission on Autism, Mark and David Geier would still be featured speakers at this yearly quackfest. I needn’t have worried. They’re still there, both Mark and David, and they’re even talking about what they believe to be the role of elevated testosterone in autism. Of course, it is their use and abuse of testosterone that led them to propose chemical castration as a treatment for autism in the first place. It also lead to 2011 being a truly awful year for them thus far – and deservedly so, even though in reality all of this should have happened no later than 2006. In fact, it would appear that Autism One has doubled down on the quackery, even posting a fawning interview with the father-son duo of pseudoscientists.

So how can Autism One top chemical castration as a topic? Easy, try The One Quackery To Rule Them All, courtesy of Julianne Adams:

Even if you are familiar with homeopathy, be prepared to learn something new. As an unlayering process that is a quantum leap beyond the more common forms of homeopathy, the HHM is totally unique application. Based upon the vaccine-injury/biomedical/gut-brain model of autism, HHM offers a comprehensive approach to healing focused on each child’s unique history, challenges and needs. Presented are homeopathy basics, details regarding the HHM, and case studies demonstrating healing and recovery.

You know, when I read the term “quantum leap,” I was worried that Adams was going to go all “quantum” on us, as if homeopathy isn’t woo enough. It certainly is, if this handout is to be believed. it contains exactly what you would expect: Sympathetic magic, the principle of “like cures like,” the idea that diluting a remedy makes it stronger, even references to the “vital force.” She even uses a term that I hate, a term that is as good an indicator that you’re dealing with a woo-meister as any I can think of, “dis-ease.” I love how she describes the process of succussion, which is the shaking to which homeopaths subject their remedies between each dilution:

Succussion: vigorous shaking with impact between each dilution, brings out the healing action of the substance while eliminating any toxic effects of the original substance

And:

How Homeopathic Remedies Work

  • Dilution/succussion process allows for a transfer of energy and information from the crude substance into the remedy solution
  • Water is able to “copy” and transfer information

She even quotes William Tiller:

Tiller has explained that homeopathic preparations form two main energetic layers that become permanently imprinted into water media; one more superficial, primarily electric and another deeper and more subtle, mainly magnetic layer.

That’s not all the homeopathy there. There’s also Pierre Fontaine speaking about Reversing Autism with Classical Homeopathy: A Real Possibility.

Let’s see. What else can we come up with as far as pseudoscience goes. There’s Amber Brooks speaking on CranioSacral Therapy: Its Role in Autism Recovery & Childhood Development claiming that “CST has been shown to help the individual with autistic features gain a calmer and more relaxed state of being by decreasing structural stress and strain.” Add to that a chiropractor named Charles Chapple speaking on Affecting Sensory Processing, Primitive Reflexes with Chiropractic and Cranial Sacral Therapy.

We also have legal propaganda from Louis Conte, who gets not just one, but three presentations:

  1. Criminal Law, Law Enforcement and Autism
  2. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Justice Project
  3. UNANSWERED QUESTIONS FROM THE VACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION PROGRAM: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury

Of course, this last presentation is about the execrable “study” for which he was a co-author and about which he, like Sergeant Schultz apparently “knows nuttink” about the need for IRB approval for human subjects research. Not surprisingly, the study’s lead author, Mary Holland, will be there too.

I’d go on, but I’m only to “C” in the alphabetical list of authors, and I’m getting tired of the pseudoscience. Mixed in with woo-friendly doctors are a horde of homeopaths, naturopaths, chiropractors, and all manner of “alternative” practitioners. And, of course, Andrew Wakefield is there, no doubt to experience the adulation of the ravening hordes. There’s even Jeff Bradstreet pushing stem cell quackery. I can’t help but think of Kent Heckenlively taking his daughter to Costa Rica to subject her to injections of what are claimed to be stem cells right into her cerebrospinal fluid. To top it all off, there are Nathan Coombs and Rhonda Morris promoting the use of medical cannabis for autism.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said it over the last six years that I’ve been blogging, but vaccine rejectionism is rife with pseudoscience and quackery. It starts out being based on a premise without scientific support, namely the claim that vaccines cause autism and all manner of chronic health problems. Once you start with pseudoscience as the very basis of your world view, it’s not very far at all to other forms of pseudoscience, and from there it’s just a short hop, skip, and a jump to homeopaths. Autistic children deserve better. They deserve to be free from uncontrolled experimentation on them using pseudoscientific methods. Unfortunately that’s what all too many of them are subjected to, and Autism One is not only far more about vaccine rejectionism than it is about autism. Worse, it’s a one-stop shop for anti-vaccine quackery.