Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine

The (Not-So-Thinking) Mom’s Revolution makes an amazingly silly analogy about vaccines

I know I dump on a website known as The Thinking Moms’ Revolution (TMR), but I do so with good reason. Given what a wretched hive of antivaccine scum and quackery that website is, rivaling or surpassing any antivaccine website I can think of, even the blog equivalent of the great granddaddies of wretched hives of antivaccine scum and quackery, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), and, of course, Age of Autism. As a result, increasingly I’ve been taking more and more notice of this (not so) Thinking Mom’s Devolution. As a result, I became aware of a particularly egregious piece of nonsense that popped up the other day. It’s nonsense that I’ve alluded to before, but nonsense that is nonetheless worth revisiting from time and time again, the better to provide ammunition to skeptics who encounter this particulary nonsense.

Indeed, it’s nonsense that our very own favorite antivaccine apologist pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon, has used before, namely the implication that vaccine manufacturers are somehow like tobacco manufacturers in that, or so the story goes, they both covered up negative health consequences due to their products. It’s an argument that is so mind-bogglingly dumb that it lead me to addres Dr. Jay, completely exasperated, and say, Dr. Jay Gordon: Will you please stop claiming you’re not an antivaccinationist? I’ll show you what I mean. Take a look at a post on TMR by a “Thinker” (really, that’s what the bloggers at TMR call each other) who goes by the ‘nym The Professor. I kid you not. Hubris, much?

The post is called Thank You for Not Vaccinating in a typically ham-fisted allusion to liken vaccinating to smoking. The Professor declares her purpose early on:

You remember that blog calendar we have “behind the scenes” that Mountain Mama told you about in “Accepting the Village” ? Well, I chose today because the blog calendar said it was “No Smoking Day,” and I wanted to do a blog on the parallels between tobacco science and vaccine science.

Oh, goody. At least that’s what I thought, because for some reason I get some perverse entertainment by brain dead antivaccine arguments, the more brain dead the more entertaining—at least to a point. So seeing The Professor preparing to bring up this particular bit of antivaccine propaganda got my sharpening my skeptical knives in anticipation. Unfortunately, I didn’t have long to wait before barrel after barrel of napalm-grade burning stupid started flowing from the TMR website. Let’s see the form The Professor’s analogy takes, shall we? Be sure to get out your aluminum foil and construct a proper hat to block the Illuminati mind control waves, as we read together. After first noting that 150 years ago lung cancer was rare (which is true—in fact lung cancer was rare until at least the 1910s and 1920s) but that it’s now the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, The Professor opines:

The rise in cases of lung cancer began right around the turn of the twentieth century. The 1930 edition of the authoritative Springer Handbook of Special Pathology suggested some possible environmental reasons for the sudden rise: increased air pollution, asphalting of roads, increased automobile traffic, the influenza pandemic of 1918, etc. Smoking, which had risen dramatically in popularity in the same time period, was briefly mentioned as a possible cause, but it was noted that there were as many studies that failed to find an association as there were ones with positive findings. In September 1950, an article was published in the British Medical Journal linking smoking to lung cancer. Over the next few decades, more and more studies piled up, establishing without a doubt a causal relationship between smoking and lung cancer, though many studies funded by tobacco companies continued to dispute the link. As late as 1994, big tobacco companies were still testifying to Congress that the evidence on a causal link was inconclusive. Someone must have gotten fed up with the lies, though, because soon afterward a box of confidential documents from Brown & Williamson appeared that proved tobacco execs knew and accepted the truth back in the ‘50s. And those documents were used in 1998 to trounce the tobacco companies in a federal lawsuit that resulted in a settlement of $365.5 billion.

The Professor is actually not quite right on her time line. As I’ve discussed before and as documented in Robert N. Proctor’s book The Nazi War on Cancer, it was actually Nazi scientists who were the first to find definitive epidemiological links between smoking and lung cancer, and they did it at least a decade before British epidemiologist Sir Richard Doll published seminal studies in the early 1950s making the link, as in the Doctors’ study. I’m being mildly pedantic here, though. The point is that linking tobacco smoking to lung cancer is one of the greatest triumphs of epidemiology, and what’s a decade here or there on the time line. The Professor’s argument is just as bad even if she got every fact right.

We skeptics frequently point out that correlation does not equal causation. That particular bit of skeptical wisdom is actually probably better stated as, “Correlation does not necessarily equal causation,” because sometimes correlation does equal causation. For instance, when the correlation is strong enough and there is a plausible biological mechanism, correlation can be a strong indication of causation, although it’s rarely definitive. In the case of lung cancer and tobacco, even though people smoked tobacco for centuries before lung cancer incidence started climbing, it was difficult to smoke enough to drastically increase the risk of lung cancer such that it could be detected by the primitive epidemiological methods of the day because people had to “roll their own,” and that was work. What made smoking large amounts of tobacco every day so much easier was the advent of industrial cigarette rollers that allowed the manufacture of huge numbers of cheap cigarettes. Because nicotine is so addictive, the easy availability of cheap cigarettes predictably led large percentages of the population to take up that habit. Add a lag time of approximately 20-30 years for smoking to cause cancer, and you have a near perfect correlation between the increase in tobacco smoking and the massive increase in lung cancer incidence. Lung cancer went from a disease about which an apocryphal story was frequently told of medical students being urged to attend the autopsy of a lung cancer patient in the early 1900s because they might never see another case again to being very common in a relatively short period of time—just a few decades.

You know what’s coming, of course. There’s no other reason for an antivaccinationist to mention the decades long campaign of deception, obfuscation, and denialism that tobacco companies engaged in to avoid taking responsibility for the adverse health effects known to be caused by their product other than to try to claim that vaccine manufacturers are doing the same thing when it comes to the alleged link between vaccines and autism, and, yes, that’s exactly what readers are treated to:

Sound familiar? It ought to. Thirty-five years ago autism was an extremely rare condition. It occurred in approximately one in 25,000 children. Most doctors never saw a single case in their entire lives. Today one in 88 12-year-olds in the United States is diagnosed with autism. Yes, the definition of “autism” has changed somewhat, but there are still a heck of a lot more than one in 25,000 children with full-blown autism that looks very similar to the original 11 cases as described by Leo Kanner for the first time in 1943. Many of my personal friends – from my “before” life — have a child or relative with severe autism. It is everywhere. So what explanations have “experts” come up with for the dramatic rise in cases of autism? Increased air pollution, living near a highway, mothers who had influenza while pregnant, older parents, etc. Vaccines, the use of which has risen dramatically in the same time period, have briefly been considered as a possible cause, but there are “as many studies that failed to find an association as there are with positive findings.” In 1998 a paper was published in the British Medical Journal that speculated that there might be a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Since that time many more studies have shown significant positive correlation between vaccines (not just the MMR) — or the ingredients in vaccines (including thimerosal and aluminum) — and the development of neurological or physical conditions that include autism and its co-morbid conditions.

My neurons hurt after contemplating the sheer ignorance that is the above paragraph. For one thing, one can’t help but note that it is not true that there are “as many studies that failed to find an association as there are with positive findings.” The fact is, the quality and quantity of evidence that does not support a link between vaccines and autism so far surpasses the quality and quantity of evidence that does support a link. Indeed, the evidence “supporting” a link between vaccines and autism almost inevitably comes from pesudoscientists, quacks (like Mark and David Geier), and frauds (like Andrew Wakefield) and is so riddled with methodological flaws, conclusions that do not flow from the evidence, and a heapin’ helpin’ of sheer nonsense. I’ve written about many of those studies myself right here and at my other blog. There’s also the issue of whether autism really was rare 35 years ago. Again, this is something discussed on this blog many times over the years, namely whether there even is such a thing as an “autism epidemic.” There almost certainly isn’t. Thanks to diagnostic substitution, more intensive screening, and the broadening of the diagnostic criteria for autism and autism spectrum disorders in the early 1990s, the apparent prevalence of autism has skyrocketed, but there’s good evidence that the true prevalence hasn’t changed much.

Why does the correlation have to be with vaccines? It’s always vaccines with these people. As I like to point out, there are lots of other things that increased since the late 1980s to correlate with the apparent rise in autism prevalence: Internet usage, for instance. Yet for people like The “Professor,” it’s always the vaccines. Always.

Which brings us to the problem with trying to make analogies between vaccine manufacturers and tobacco companies. There is no analogy. In the case of tobacco and smoking, there was overwhelming and powerful high quality epidemiological evidence linking smoking tobacco products to lung cancer. The effect size and hazard ratios were so high that they couldn’t be ignored. There isn’t anything resembling such high powered epidemiological evidence supporting a link between vaccines and autism. In fact, all the copious high-powered, high quality epidemiological evidence on the topic failed to find even a hint of a whiff of a link between vaccines and autism. It’s the exact opposite of the situation with tobacco companies. Contrary to the case with tobacco companies and the link between lung cancer and smoking, where the companies lied and used bad science and denialist arguments to deny what science showed, accine manufacturers and the CDC are actually on the right side of science when they argue that vaccines don’t cause autism because the science shows that, to the best of our ability to detect it (and that ability is veyr sensitive), they do not.

But there’s more there, so much more. There’s the standard conspiracy mongering, in which the CDC is covering up the “link” between vaccines and autism; the Vaccine Court refuses to compensate vaccine-induced autism; and, part of the common antivaccine meme from a few years ago, Julie Gerberding supposedly admitted that vaccines cause autism without actually admitting it even though all she did as far as I can tell was to use appropriate scientific caution—actually more caution and qualification than was necessary. Thrown in, as antivaccinationists are wont to do in the days after the financial meltdown of 2008, analogies to “too big to fail” bank bailouts. The projection reaches a truly irony meter-melting extreme when The Professor says, “That’s intellectual dishonesty, otherwise known as bullshit.”

That pretty much describes her entire post, which concludes with this howler of a paragraph:

Eventually, everyone will know about the dangers of vaccination just like we all know about the dangers of smoking now, and the vaccine equivalent of the “Thank you for not smoking” sign will be commonplace. The real question is will it be in time? Or will the general overall health of the country have declined so much by then that we will have destroyed our chances for good health forever?

This analogy is so wrong on so many levels, not the least of which being that “thank you for not smoking” was something people said when people didn’t assault them with their second hand smoke. A better analogy would be to say, “Thank you for vaccinating.” Just as not smoking is good for the smoker and everyone around him, who is spared the adverse health effects of second hand smoke, vaccinating is good for the child and everyone around him, protecting the child and contributing to herd immunity.

But then what would we expect from an antivaccine “Professor” except to get it exactly the opposite of the true situation. In the antivaccine world, cold is hot, up is down, and wrong is right. Oh, and to them pseudoscience is science.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

128 replies on “The (Not-So-Thinking) Mom’s Revolution makes an amazingly silly analogy about vaccines”

And her biggest error is here:

Thirty-five years ago autism was an extremely rare condition. It occurred in approximately one in 25,000 children. Most doctors never saw a single case in their entire lives. Today one in 88 12-year-olds in the United States is diagnosed with autism.

Just because a condition was rarely diagnosed doesn’t mean it was in fact rare. The best evidence that there hasn’t been an increase in the autism rate is the fact that a lot of autistics have only been diagnosed in their 40’s and 50’s. That points to previous underdiagnosis, not to increasing autism rates.

Ow, my brain. I could almost feel my IQ drop reading this.

Just this weekend I had to listen to my aunt (70) saying that my cousins (~45) celiac disease was caused by vaccinations.

The stoopid, it is EVERYWHERE!

one in 25,000 children with full-blown autism that looks very similar to the original 11 cases as described by Leo Kanner for the first time in 1943.

Eleven cases, and an incidence of one in 25000, implies that Leo Kanner had 275000 patients. I am happy to believe that doctors worked hard in the 1940s but not that hard.

You remember that blog calendar we have “behind the scenes” that Mountain Mama told you about in “Accepting the Village” ?

Oh, dear, they don’t get out much, do they?

Tobacco companies are in the business of selling tobacco. If tobacco were proved to be harmful, they could not simply drop that product and sell something else. Big Pharma is not in the business of selling vaccines. They could drop the product tomorrow without appreciably affecting their bottom line. Indeed, that’s why the Vaccine Court was established: to encourage them not to stop manufacturing vaccines.  The situations are not parallel. 

TMR has made an _excellent_ analogy.

Similarities between the antivaxers’ campaign and the tobacco companies’ attempts to evade compelling scientific evidence are uncanny:

In both cases we’ve seen a small group of denialists and hacks pretending to be scientists, arguing their deeply flawed cause in the face of massive scientific evidence to the contrary, while benefiting a bunch of people out to make money off the misery of the group being deceived.

The Thinking Moms’ Revolution has it exactly right – except their fingers are pointed in the wrong direction.

Today one in 88 12-year-olds in the United States is diagnosed with autism.

The self-described Professor is palming a card here. If I am remembering the timeline right, today’s 12-year-olds would have been the last cohort (give or take a year) to get vaccines with thimoserol. She doesn’t quote the rate for eight-year-olds, which I believe is similar.

And as Julian points out above, doctors are more likely to diagnose a condition when they know what to look for. I’m in my 40s, and while I was never diagnosed as autistic, I have occasionally suspected that I am on the mild end of the spectrum. Another adult diagnosis comes from one of the players in Michael Lewis’s book The Big Short, about the financial crisis. The person in question actually read the prospectuses on some of the dodgiest deals, which is how he knew which deals to bet against. He never suspected that he was autistic until his son was diagnosed, and he recognized the symptoms that the doctor described in his son.

Orac is correct –

TMR is a steeping sinkhole of decaying intellectual vegetative detritus which produces a toxic biofilm of festering un-reason on a near daily basis.

Today another analogy ( simile) appears: thinking parents are like the first person to walk to space. There is a minuscule grain of truth there- both being out of touch with planet earth – one figuratively, one literally.

A few days ago, they re-played a year old post** by a visiting ‘thinker’***, a 21 year old who has “worked” with autistic children for years- she repeats the usual diatribe about vaccines/ the evils of SBM that we all know so well and then announces that she has changed woo in mid-stream: rather than studying to be a thinking teacher for kids with ASDs, she’ll become a thinking chiropractor instead, so she can adjust their vaccines injuries away.

TMR is releasing a book ( via Skyhorse****) in April ( book party at Autism One) that features their inspirational woo-mongering and a preface by Dr Sears.

If you attempt reading their tripe, they put on a screen which tries to inveigle you into ‘ liking’ them on facebook- it may be working, their numbers have recently grown to over 8K.

More on TMR. ( continued)

** they had their first anniversary last month: oddly it seems much longer than that to me.
*** yes, how I do hate that appellation!
**** which also publishes AJW and LKH & Holland as well as presenting Null’s new eponymous publishing label/ 12 book deal.

The really bad par is, even if all their crazy ideas were true, vaccines dropped early childhood mortality from 10% to under 0.1%. Per thousand birth, we’d be trading 100 dead babies against 12 cases of autism, not counting all the cases of severe mental deficits due to the diseases.
To any normal person that would count like a reasonable trade-off, but I guess dead babies don’t bother them.

Why does the correlation have to be with vaccines? It’s always vaccines with these people. As I like to point out, there are lots of other things that increased since the late 1980s to correlate with the apparent rise in autism prevalence: Internet usage, for instance. Yet for people like The “Professor,” it’s always the vaccines. Always.

I’ve mentioned this a few times. Remember how this all started with MMR. It was the stories of “my baby got the MMR shot and suddenly turned autistic.” You get enough stories like that, and it’s not so crazy that you need to check them out. So they were checked out, and the answer was, no, it’s not MMR. This is, in fact, all fine. Notable concerns, check them out, rule it out, and move on.

But this is where the bizarre turn comes in. Instead of looking for other suggestive causes, they said, well, if it’s not MMR, it must be either another vaccine, or a toxin in the vaccine. It is mercury. It is DTAP. It’s the Hep A. It’s Gardisal!

Despite the fact that that none of these things have ever been associated, even casually, with autism, they are still on the list of boogeymen. No one ever says, “They got the DTAP vaccine and boom, they were autistic.”

I sometimes wonder how we (they) went from stories of, “My child got the MMR shot and suddenly was autistic” to “vaccines cause autism”? It just does not follow at all.

Jeez, they guy who blamed fluorescent lights was no less justified than the “blame all vaccines” crowd.]

Personally, I am sticking with the creamy version of Desitin (the stuff in the light blue tube, not the original in the purple tube)

The various Moms go by irritatingly inane ‘nyms:
Professor, Cupcake, Booty Kicker, Mama Bear, Princess, Goddess, Mountain Mama, Saint, the Rev ad nauseum.

However, their writing is exponentially more annoying: they present the unlikely blending of a ‘just girlfriends’ bonding fest with incredibly venomous derision of professionals, especially doctors. They promote the idea that mothers know more than any expert – explaining the ‘thinking’ misnomer: they don’t blindly accept SBM consensus but they “research” on their own and find true woo to ” recover” their children. They have promoted every woo-begotten pseudo-therapy known to humankind within the last 13 months.

LIsa Goes ( also of AoA and the Canary Party) calls herself the Rev. She also runs an “autism media company” (?), the Misuta Project.
Alison MacNeil ( Mama Mac) is a social worker and creator of some of the most virulently angry rhetoric about doctors, psychologists and others who understand research better than she does.
“Saint” is a school psychologist.
The Prof ( see Orac’s discussion) is an ” actor geek” with a degree in physics.

Their so-called feminism runs to the grizzly bear/ self-sacrificing suburban mother variety:
“I can’t buy myself fab shoes because my bebe needs his biomed supplements/ treatments/ GFCF diet products and I’ll claw anyone who tries to stop me!” and myriad permutations on that theme.

Currently, there is a war for hearts, minds and pocketbooks at AoA whilst the love-fest persists at TMR.
I don’t know which is worse .

Also kind of O/T:

In a vaccination debate on Reddit (the parenting subreddit tends to be very pro-vaccine), an anti-vaxxer linked to a site called “Great Mothers Questioning Vaccines”. It’s mostly a site with links to a bunch of discredited anti-vax tropes. But I did see one thing I’ve never seen before: A statistical chart showing that “if present trends continue, 1 in 1 boys will have autism by 2032 (and the “incidence will go below 1 in 1 thereafter”), and 1 in 1 girls will have autism by 2040″. I’ve seen some ridiculous stuff on those sites, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics.

Slightly off-topic, but I’m raising the Anti-woo Batsignal:

Has anyone watched “Escape Fire,” a documentary about the US healthcare system, featuring a lot of alt-med stuff. I’m looking for a critical review of it. Sadly, the one review from the Washington Post was gushing over acupuncture. Anything anyone can send my way will be much appreciated.

@Andrew – that is based on a terrible graph that extrapolated the rise in autism to show the 1:1 ratios – even though, based on the original graph, 100% of the total population was going to be autistic before 100% of all boys were supposed to be autistic…..truly horrible science and math fail.

Lawrence/Liz: I should’ve known such idiocy wasn’t unique.

Now to try to understand how anybody could possibly believe that to be true. That may take a little more time.

I notice that they’re using ‘Tugg’ to schedule screenings: sponsors make 25% and the film is only screened if a sufficient number pre-register. Also used on “The United States of Autism” – soon to be seen.

What always gets me is the belief by anti-vaxxers is that autism was unheard of or at really low rates in the past and that it just suddenly went up.

I’ve said this story before, but it bears repeating. When I was working in a state facility for MR/DD individuals, they often showed new hires the history the place,. They said that in the 1800s, the facility had individuals who were classified as mentally retarded but which would today be considered to have s/s of autism. But at that time, the health care field did not have any distinguishing features between autism and mild mental retardation, so they were all grouped into one.

Thirty-five years ago autism was an extremely rare condition. It occurred in approximately one in 25,000 children. Most doctors never saw a single case in their entire lives.

Forfeckssake, Uta Frith completed her PhD in this “extremely rare condition” forty-five years ago. Thirty-five years ago, Simon Baron-Cohen and Tony Attwood were completing their own PhDs.
Temple Grandin had no trouble receiving a diagnosis of autism fifty-five years ago. Meanwhile Bruno Bettelheim was making a good living from this “extremely rare condition”, treating hundreds of cases and blaming it on the mothers’ psychological problems, saturating the media with his theories (write-ups in LIFE; the 1959 article in Scientific American).

Thinking Mother-Professor evidently belongs to the “I reject your reality and substitute my own” school of historians.

@Ren – I’d review it for you if I could, but the first eleven minutes triggered so much cell death in my brain that I can’t banana the skateboard por favor.

@ Ren:
de nada; -btw- I like the get up.

@ elburto:
I’m so glad this computer balks at playing video: I need to have my wits about me so I can discuss finance over curry.

@Mark Thorson – Thanks for the links. I think. Sometimes it’s good to see what real crazy looks like. It’s like TimeCube, but coherent.

elburto: I almost choked on my tea. I might check out that movie- I need to kill a few brain cells.

Renate: Come on man, everyone knows that if it involves reptilians/lizard people/green men it’s srs bizness.

Curry is infinitely more important than the various woovies out there.

Having recently subscribed to Netflix I’ve been exposed to some filmic stupidity so strong that even a chicken phaal could not burn the bad taste from my mouth. From the biomeddling DAN!fest ‘Loving Lampposts’ to ‘Under Our Skin’, an epic tale of the “chronic Lyme epidemic”, and everything in between, my poor synapses are frazzled. I had to stop reading ‘Far From the Tree’, and read ‘Spot Goes to the Zoo’ instead, because my brain had been pureed by alt-med propaganda.

I only started to feel better once I’d tucked into a medicinal chicken podina with restorative coconut rice, and a pile of prescription-strength onion bhajis. All hail the power of the curry!

OK, just read that reptilian miscarriage thing. Great. Now I can’t blanket metaphorical Pizza Hut gesundheit.

PGP – I’ve started to take my drinks via a tube, after one too many internet-related choking incidents. Be careful watching ‘Escape Fire’, even my foil body armour didn’t help.

Elburto, Try Numb3rs on netflix 🙂 I’m hooked and listen to it every night.


I think I’m going to add the phrase “Can’t banana the skateboard” to my regular lexicon. Thanks, elburto!

(I read the reptlian abduction piece. Um, yeeeeah…)

From the reptilian miscarriage piece:

“My ‘cloacals’ were out of balance. The cloacal system is an energy system known by hardly anyone except a few people who have learned this correction from Applied Kinesiology.”

Uh … are cloacals related to the cloaca?  Because I don’t have one of those.  If she does, I think she has a closer connection to the reptilians than she cares to acknowledge.

“At the end of my ten minute dissertation on aliens etc., most people were frozen in their seats.”

Yeah, I’ll bet. 

Oooooh, people are starting to get faces and Ren is a NINJA!

The TMR makes me want to scream. I am REALLY GLAD Orac and the commenters here take their foolishness apart. It’s people like me who benefit, because once upon a time I heard the antivax crap and nearly fell for it.

Does anyone else get the urge to HYPERVACCINATE as if to make up for the drop in herd immunity? Or is my secret desire for Supersoldier Serum showing again?

I think I’m going to add the phrase “Can’t banana the skateboard” to my regular lexicon.

I find “May I mambo dogface to the banana patch” to be of occasional utility.

Melissa G,

Yes I’m highly considering getting all my vaccines up-to-date with the nurse offering her phone number at my local pharmacy. More autism == better 😀


Narad – i was going to teach my child that, but I married into a family with teenage children and lost that opportunity.

I’m not a ninja. The cold was too damn high!

Or the temperature was too damn low!

Yes, and yes to the super-soldier serum. I apparently am reliving my childhood right now..and I always harbored a secret desire to be Poison Ivy.

Altho’ TMR and Metatech are hilariously entertaining, I’m anxiously awaiting for Jake to present his magnum opus that will certainly include:

-his questioning of Orac
– his investigation concerning the money issue ( 39 million USD)
– documentation of bank records, receipts, money drops, internal memoranda, phone calls and e-mail messages detailing Orac’s relationship with pharma over the years
– in depth coverage of the incestuous relationships amongst and between the sceptics, government and pharma ( with records, receipts, phone / e-mail, photos etc)
– compleat diagramming of the relationships amongst and between Orac, the minions, the sceptics and other denizens of darkness. With circles and arrows, be assured.

I’m sure it’s all there: when you charge people with serious malfeasance, obviously – if you have any journalistic or personal integrity – you need to provide adequate proof through evidence .And have independent fact checkers.
I’m sure he does.
All that and more.

i am supposed to be one of the vaccination caused my autism children, turns out i wasn’t vaccinated with MMR and i don’t have autism(merely ODD ,dysgraphia,and depression(which i suspect might be manic-depressive))
yet my parents still fall for this obvious bullshit and quackery
and think im “in the spectrum”
the sad part is i used to live in australia where quackery is rare,
and to escape my family that believes(whole heartedly) in anything and everything i had to move to america ,a hotbed for irrationality.
this belief in the autism/vaccine link is not harmless it puts children in danger of disease AND if the belief is strong enough it can psychologically harm the child
(does this post read like a post from an autistic person,I think not)

(does this post read like a post from an autistic person,I think not)

What is the writing style of an autistic person?


Thirty-five years ago autism was an extremely rare condition. It occurred in approximately one in 25,000 children.

Reading TMProfessor’s emanations was not a complete waste of time. They inspired me to dig out Wing’s 1993 survey of the first quarter-century of autism epidemiology , going back to Lotter’s 1966 and 1967 studies of prevalence.

I cannot convince myself that the Professor’s account could depart so far from the facts just out of ignorance.

it’s a little thing, but it’s Sir Richard Doll, not Robert. I’m looking at the building in Oxford University named after him.

Just to play devil’s advocate, I have to say that I don’t believe in judging someone based on their choice of ‘nym. There’s too many reasons why someone might find a particular handle appropriate for them; too much room for in-jokes and personal whimsy. (And frankly, this is an issue where “seeing the mote in your brother’s eye and missing the beam in your own” tends to apply; there are a lot of contributors here who are NOT afflicted with delusions of grandeur, whose chosen ‘nyms might suggest that to outsiders who have no experience of the person behind the ‘nym.)

The exception, for me, is when the ‘nym appears to be claiming a particular role in the discussion which is entirely self-assumed on their part. The clearest example is the anti-vax editor on Wikipedia who chose the ‘nym “Ombudsman,” which could have led unwary people to believe that he had been selected by Wikipedia to fulfill an ombudsman role. A similar example from RI’s own past was the contributor who chose the ‘nym “doctrinal fairness,” as if to suggest she had a better right to be associated with that virtue than other contributors.

For anything short of that, though, I think it does us more harm than good to snipe at ‘nyms. We have plenty of reason to oppose the CONTENT of the screeds of The Professor, Mountain Mama and their ilk; wasting ammunition on perceived poor choice of ‘nym makes it look, incorrectly, like we can’t find enough things blatantly wrong in their content to talk about.

@Antaeus Feldspar – would that be an example of an ad pseudonym fallacy?

I am obviously in no position to mock others about their choice of pseudonym

For anything short of that, though, I think it does us more harm than good to snipe at ‘nyms.

Gonna have to disagree here. Unless “The Professor” was meant ironically (which I highly doubt), our antivaccine nut has just reinforced the picture of her as being full of the arrogance of ignorance, just through the choice of a pseudonym. In other words, if you’re going to lay down such enormous swaths of napalm-grade burning stupid about vaccines, having chosen the ‘nym “The Professor” is fair game for mockery as far as I’m concerned—alongside the refutation of the aforementioned enormous swaths of napalm-grade burning stupid about vaccines, of course.

Now, lest one criticize me for picking a pseudonym based on a near omniscient computer from an old British SF series, remember that practically none of my readers know where the ‘nym Orac came from and that I picked the ‘nym more based on the cantankerous personality of the computer on the show than anything else. That, and I like being obscure. Besides, these days most readers know who I am.

Saw this wonderful graph about correlation and causation:

Spoiler alert:

If you want a description before clicking, the author graphed the diagnosis of autism vs. sales of organic foods over time)

re arrogance of ignorance @ TMR:

Ms Sugah today points out an addition to TMR’s facebook page-
a ” document designed and written for traditional medical professionals. It speaks their language and addresses the long list of potential underlying conditions potentially existent in children with a diagnosis of autism. You’ll notice that it doesn’t directly address the concept of causality which is smart because we all know how tradional medical folks stop listening when you talk environmental factors”.

That’s pretty [email protected] arrogant. Other TMs preach, educate and lecture the various ‘ignorant’ professionals they encounter in their path of martyrdom.
They want to transform/ educate others into becoming “thinkers”. As if they had the ability to judge medical decision making/ evidence or the ability to teach anything other than woo and self-aggrandisement.

-btw- re ‘nyms
I’m a little sorry I didn’t use a ‘nym- they seem to really irritate our critics.
DW is a semi-pseudo: I leave off two of my four names.

@49, Herr Docktor Bimler, “Wing ” is this one, am I correct?

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1993 Jan;2(1):61-74. doi: 10.1007/BF02098832.
The definition and prevalence of autism: A review.
Wing L.


Sixteen studies of the prevalence of autism in childhood, using epidemiological methods in defined populations in Europe, the USA and Japan, in English or with English summaries, were found in the published literature. Age specific rates varied from 3.3 to 16.0 per 10,000. Eight studies gave rates for a sub-group of ‘typical’ autism varying from 1.2 to 8.4. Reasons for variations were sought by examining geographic and demographic details of the populations screened, methods for initial screening and final examination of possibly autistic children, demographic and clinical details of children identified as autistic, and criteria used for diagnosis. There was evidence, independent of diagnostic criteria, of a higher prevalence among children of first generation immigrants to Europe from ‘exotic’ countries. Apart from this, all differences could be due to variations in diagnostic practice and increasing awareness of the manifestations of autistic conditions throughout the range of intelligence, from severely retarded to average and above. However, it remains possible, though not proven, that rates do vary over place and/or time. The problems of defining a sub-group with ‘typical’ autism among the wide spectrum of children with the triad of impairments of social interaction, communication and imagination are discussed and the value of such a sub-grouping questioned.

I cannot convince myself that the Professor’s account could depart so far from the facts just out of ignorance.

Out of curiosity, I searched AoA for “Lorna Wing”. Six hits, 5 in comments, one in passing from an article by Lisa Blakemore Brown, UK psychologist. Since AoA, AutismOne, etc. tends to be an echo chamber, it is entirely possible that “The Professor” (a self-described actor/geek with a degree in physics) has never heard of Lorna Wing or her research.

There’s too many reasons why someone might find a particular handle appropriate for them; too much room for in-jokes and personal whimsy

True that. Some people choose a nym as a way of warning the reader to expect pedantry and pomposity ahead.
Personally, I was trying to receive a nom de guerre but due to a spelling mistake I ended up with a nom du beurre instead and am contractually obliged to spend half my time advertising dairy products.

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1993 Jan;2(1):61-74. doi: 10.1007/BF02098832.
The definition and prevalence of autism: A review.
Wing L.

That’s the one. On one hand there is Wing, scouring the literature and finding a series of studies over quarter of a century that applied similarly strict criteria (no Aspergers, no Spectrum). On the other hand, a pseudonymous contributor to TMR, claiming a figure of “one in 25,000 children” for the middle of that window.
Where did she pull that figure from? Did she make it up herself, or merely repeat someone else’s lie?

@ herr doktor bimler:

Actually, I’ve usually heard ‘1 in 10 000’ so that figure should be easy to trace.

She cited it. It’s from Mark Geier.

I know, I should read the original rather than relying upon secondary sources, but I prefer to taste my breakfast only once, going down.

I know, I should read the original rather than relying upon secondary sources

He’s pulled out this number in congressional testimony, but it doesn’t appear in the JPANDS 8, 6 (2003) item, which does trot out the “Department of Education” line.

I heard about the 1:10,000/1:8000 rates autism way back in the 1960s…only then it was the classic “Kanner’s” autism; most parents reported development as *normal* and then slow regression between ages one and two years of age.

Eric Fombomme wrote an interesting article published in the U.K. in 1999, about his analysis of dozens studies published and the varying rates of autism trending upward, with newer studies:

When I met a dozens of parents who had children in their teens and twenties, who had “classic autism” back in the 1970s and early 1980s…the rate must have been much higher than the ridiculous rates that Fombomme wrote about.

Then there is this article about classifying early onset schizophrenia in the DSM II and the addition of the PDD diagnostic criteria in the DSM III:

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2009 January; 48(1): 10–18.
doi: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e31818b1c63

PMCID: PMC2664646

Autism-Spectrum Disorders and Childhood Onset Schizophrenia: Clinical and Biological Contributions to a Relationship Revisited

Judith Rapoport, M.D., Alex Chavez, B.S., Deanna Greenstein, Ph.D., Anjene Addington, Ph.D., and Nitin Gogtay, M.D.

“…When advances in psychiatry permitted the field to conceptualize psychotic disorders and developmental disorders as distinct, the phenomena of PDD and COS as comorbid disorders could be explored. In the DSM-II, autism was referred to as schizophrenia, childhood type, and was characterized by “atypical and withdrawn behavior,” “failure to develop identity separate from the mother’s,” and “general unevenness, gross immaturity and inadequacy in development.” However, important post DSM-II work conducted by Kolvin and others focused on the contrast between very early onset schizophrenia (with typical onset after age 7) 15 and earlier onset autism. This research was influential in making the distinction between childhood onset schizophrenia and autism in the DSM III…”

(continued below)

Back in the early days when the formation of Committees on the Handicapped (COHs) were mandated for school districts, after the passage of PL 94-142 , I served on my district’s COH:

Before the passage of this Law, disabled children were not educated in local schools…in fact if a parent “pushed” a local district to provide education, they were told “your child is exempt”. Any child who was obviously developmentally disabled and not just a “slow learner” went to private schools…some of them good…and some just glorified day care.

Back during my tenure on the COH (~ 1978-1985), kids who were classified as mentally retarded (mild, moderate, severe or profound) was classified as “Mantally Retarded” only…even if they had pronounced autistic-like behaviors. No menus, no picks from column A and column B. There were a few kids such as my son who qualified as handicapped under several categories “Mentally Retarded”, “Physically Handicapped” and “Other Health Impaired” who were classified as “Multiply Handicapped”. So, anyone who went to public school during the time prior to the passage of PL 94-142, would not have seen any classmates with developmental disabilities.

#67 Lilady

Exactly the point I tried to argue with my mum. However, we are both terribly stubborn, so I didn’t get too far.

@46. – I do hope you’ll de-lurk and answer Alain’s question, because I’d hate to have to assume the most likely option (basic ableism) if there’s an actual explanation.

@Julian Frost – I’m now in a Cracked Trap. Cracked/Wikipedia/YouTube are my nemeses. “One more article!” or “One more video about misbehaving Labradors!” I tell myself. Hours later, weak from hunger and lack of medication, my battery finally dies, breaking the cycle and freeing me!

WRT ‘nyms – Mine’s a pet name given by my lovely lady. It’s a play on my name, and (something we only just realised last year!) an anagram of ‘trouble. Very appropriate!

Handy in settings where a female-sounding handle is disadvantageous.

which does trot out the “Department of Education” line

So according to Geier, the ultimate authority on the prevalence of a medical condition is the Department of Education? WTF?

Before the passage of this Law, disabled children were not educated in local schools…

That makes more sense. Geier’s “1 in 25000” figure might be the proportion of autistic children being taught in the usual education system, at a time when every effort was made to exclude autistic children from the usual education system.

And now for your thinking and viewing pleasure:

today’s TMR features a video of Saint and Prof on a woo-drenched television show ( 57 minutes) which my balky computer played ( it must be a sign).

We learn that ” Modern medicine is not your friend”. It seems that a group of college friends formed the core of the group but message boards, yahoo groups and facebook must take most of the blame for its inception- although a few shared a practitioner. They met up at Autism One.

The Moms discuss their children’s problems and which medical interventions they blame most. (Oh, guess). Saint ( a psychologist, I believe) mentions the isolation parents of kids with special needs feel and how the group enabled them to get support and learn about woo ( not that she calls it that). As well as allowing mutual enablement..

Writing a book and blogging are their avenues for educating others; they advise new parents to google and use facebook to assist them in their path to thinking.” Educate yourself”. We also learn how the economic cost of woo can affect your liefstyle. And how it brainwashes vulnerable pre-teens.

In short: if you thought these women display a boundless lack of scientific knowledge in print, you really need to hear them.

TMR are the “Evil Mr. Spock” to the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. A pale shadow of an Evil Mr. Spock, actually.

Just because a condition was rarely diagnosed doesn’t mean it was in fact rare. The best evidence that there hasn’t been an increase in the autism rate is the fact that a lot of autistics have only been diagnosed in their 40′s and 50′s. That points to previous underdiagnosis, not to increasing autism rates

These people will never be counted in the autism numbers,and they need to be,especially if they have a real diagnosis.Imagine if we stopped counting the numbers of any other disease in people over eighteen.I have an autism diagnosis severe enough to have been diagnosed in the 1970s,but it was done in a school setting.all records of it were destroyed when I finished high school.No one knew I was autistic,I have a lot of lifelong medical problems,and now have a diagnosis of cerebral folate deficiency syndrome.I am now working towards a diagnosis of mitochondrial disease,with one of the major research hospitals in metabolic based autism.But in order to get there,I first had to document an autism diagnosis.This meant I had to get rediagnosed with autism in my forties.

I have a sister at the milder end of the spectrum,who was also diagnosed,for the first time,in her forties.People like us,will never be counted.

This study was also released last week,and got no attention at all.

Comparison of ICD-10R, DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 in an Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Clinic

Here’s the abstract.

Hat tip to the great Questioning Answers blog

March 18, 2013
To any normal person that would count like a reasonable trade-off, but I guess dead babies don’t bother them.

See this.

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