5 Jun 2008

Too Green to Know Better

The amount of trash that is written about autism just never fails to astonish me. Can people really still be filling column inches in the Telegraph a supposedly serious newspaper, with junk articles like MMR: The debate that won't go away?

Thankfully, the bloggers are on to them, as Dr Aust tears this one apart.

My old pal, Phil Doherty, whose breathtakingly credulous article on the MMR/autism supposed connection I wrote about here and here, has been at it again. I know he writes for a small, irrelevant and parochial publication, but I feel, given our correspondence, that we have a special sort of bond, much as a terrier has to the rat. Recently Doherty repeated the bogus claim that:
Research has shown that up to 38 per cent of autistic kids have a DNA defect which can be triggered by jabs, compared with 0.2pc in the general population.
No it ain't.

In the same article he reported on Bernadine Healy's journey to the dark side, and the preposterous autistic monkey study carried out by an associate of Andy "Maverick" Wakefield.
Doherty followed this up with a glowing story on ex-travel writer David Kirby's trip to London to promote his book and his ever changing theories of autism causation.
He said it was an honour to be asked to speak to Parliament on the controversial health topic.
Titter! A fringe meeting in a back room with a vaccine obsessed peer and a selection of woo-tastic MPs and their mates, isn't exactly "speaking to parliament"!

I wish I could be there when Kirby is doing book signs tomorrow in Kensington - pesky sea getting in the way.

I'd want to know when he'll be writing a new, updated edition without all those old, discarded notions, I'd ask, "remember how in the old days you used to say all autism is mercury poisoning and caused by vaccines but these days, you're blaming mercury, general toxic nasties and other pollution in the atmosphere and food? You've taken up the mitochondria disorder cause and now you are promoting that link and your own numbers suggest, only 1% of autism could possibly be vaccine-associated." (Even though there is no evidence of harm for that proportion of children either, but that's another story.)

Actually, I'd much rather go to the swimming pool with my children, so perhaps I can be glad of that watery barrier.

Away over a much bigger puddle, I also missed out on what was billed as a thrilling day out in the company of celebrities like Jim Carey and Jenny McCarthy. (Who she? Oh, some American who wouldn't be out of place on Celebrity Big Brother and who has gone into the autism anecdote business in a big way.)

They had a rally in Washington DC yesterday to supposedly, "give everyone who loves a child with Autism a day for their voices to be heard."

No they did not. I love a child with autism, many people I know love children with autism, and none of us concur with Jim'n'Jenny and their marching mercury moms. They were calling it "Green our Vaccines." What is that even supposed to mean?!

TACA, a totally barmy group are involved and say,
Jenny and Jim are working hard to eliminate all toxins from our children's vaccines and have our national health agencies reassess the mandatory vaccine schedule, as our children are receiving TOO MANY, TOO SOON. While Jenny and Jim support the vaccine program, like many, they feel vaccines are too toxic.
Oh goody, Jim'n'Jenny are onto it! With all their training and expertise in medicine and immunology, we'll be sure to have all the answers any day soon. Pull up a bench Jim, and dust down your white coat Jenny, lab work has its rewards, but it'll be a big change from what you're used to. I'm not too sure just what toxins you'll be able to eliminate from the vaccines without rendering them totally ineffective in their designed purpose at providing immunisation against infectious disease. But hey, I trust you guys, after all you're famous (well, Jim is, Jenny, not so much.)

Perhaps they mean well, but they are just wrong here. They are wrong about autism and wrong about science. I feel it is important to make it explicit that many people who have autistic children, do not buy into their nonsense. I will trust those in the know. My children's father is a doctor and scientist. Like you Jenny, he has looked at the evidence and made a decision based on his findings, but he and I have come to the opposite conclusion about what is best for our children. Why do you think that is?


Liz Ditz said...

[waving--Hi from California!] I'm keeping a running list of those who write against the "Green our Vaccines" campaign at 'Green Our Vaccines' Campaign Code for Vaccine Rejectionism. The list is toward the bottom of the post -- I've added a link to you.

Sharon McDaid said...

Thanks Liz, now I know where to read the good stuff about J&J!

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Sharon, and cheers for the link.

I have actually rather avoided blogging about MMR - partly because it is off my scientific "patch", but mainly because when I would get into arguments about it on other blogs with nutjobs like John Stone and the JABS crowd I would feel an overwhelming sense of despair.. I call this "King Canute Syndrome". But the MMR / vaccines / autism thing is such a paradigm of the battle between reason and delusion that it is hard to avoid.

Laughed at the sidebar about Thomas the Tank Engine. Our (just) 4 yr old Jr Aust is a die-hard fan too, having inherited my and my brother's old Rev Awdry books. Jr Aust is quite insistent that if we have a boy next time he should be a Thomas. I quite like the name, though Mrs Dr Aust is adamant that there will be no Thomases in her family.

Anonymous said...

Wish I could think of something clever, but in lieu of that, just want to cheer you on. Please keep your voice audible on this. You speak clearly and correctly. Barbara

Liesl said...

Honestly, I can't think of them meaning well anymore. After a certain point the intention has to turn to crap if the outcome is so very, very harmful.

Great post!

Sharon McDaid said...

You're welcome Dr Aust, and thank you too!

You're not wrong to say that autism and it's associated woo is "such a paradigm of the battle between reason and delusion." Nice summary, and it's frustrating for me as the parent of an autistic child to see such bollocks and such cruelty used in talking about people like my boy.

Oh man we are Thomas obsessed. The films are OK, but have you had to actually read the books to your son? What a drag, they must be some of the strangest children's stories ever written.
It could be worse, Jr Aust might have latched on to Skarloey as the name of choice for potential siblings!

Thanks for the cheer Barbara!

Liesl, the potential outcome of the pity party / protest is, as you say, very bad

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon, thanks for your comments on my blog. I have responded to them. I like your blog by the way. Its nice to read a fellow Northern Irish persons blog. I am going to enjoy reading more.

Sharon McDaid said...

Hi Romach, I like finding a Nordie blog too! Glad you like what you've seen here and hope to hear from you again.

kristina said...

Trash is too nice a word.

Sharon McDaid said...

Oh much too nice a word Kristina, bit I'm trying to limit the profanity here!