Generation Rescue denies autism

I often refer to those pushing the “vaccines cause autism” lie anti-vaccinationists or vaccine deniers because more often than not, their real target is the vaccines while the autism claim, though the most often mentioned in the media,  is just one of many evils these ideologues try to link to vaccines. Really, in the same way Scientologists blame all the evils in history from the Holocaust to 9/11 on psychiatry, the vaccine deniers try to blame vaccines for everything.

In fact, on any given day, if you visit the Age of Autism blog, you’ll find infinitely more entries condemning vaccines for all sorts of things than you’ll find articles actually discussing autism.

But that being said, they can just as easily be referred to as autism deniers given that they quite literally deny the most basic facts about the condition, particularly the role genes play in causing autism. Of course this position is just a means to an end because since their real target is the vaccines, any science that demonstrates something other than vaccines contributes either a little bit or entirely to causing autism hurts their vaccine unifying theory of evil and therefore must be denied. It’s like how Jack Thompson can never admit to anything other than video games playing as a main role in causing school shootings or why creationists can never accept evolution because it demystifies what in their mind is the majesty of divine creation. … continue reading this entry.

Sorry Andy, but settlement does not equal concession

There’s a reason I’ve been absent from the Gotham Skeptic for the last week or so and that’s because I’ve been busy finishing up a certificate program in Paralegal Studies. Although I’m still currently working in television at the moment, I am now officially a Certified Paralegal.

Technically, one doesn’t require certification to become a paralegal but it’s hugely beneficial to have a document proving some solid legal education from an American Bar Association-approved curriculum. Several times here over the past few months, I’ve tried to apply some of the legal knowledge I’d acquired to expose a few misuses of the law by pseudo-scientists, quacks, cranks, and all manner of denialists. … continue reading this entry.

Why Health Freedom and Anti-Vaccine don’t mix

Can your kid get measles so I can pretend I didn't give mine autism?

"Can your kid get measles so I can feel like I'm fighting the phantom I'm blaming for my child's autism?"

The recent AutismOne conference in Chicago is something I’d like to consider a new low in the American health system.  I’d like to consider it a new low because it would mean that this autism/vaccine nonsense hadn’t been going on now for over a decade.  Unfortunately, it has, and why AutismOne hasn’t faded against the blaring horn of stupidity constantly playing at us from sources like Generation Rescue, Autism Speaks, and the omni-dreadful Age of Autism is inconceivable.  It would have missed my radar completely – I tend to avoid the autism people thanks to a family history of high blood pressure – had the most recent AutismOne conference not attracted the attention of a completely separate group of health ingrates, the “Health Freedom” movement. … continue reading this entry.

Antivaccine movement’s bad PR hits critical mass

Six months ago we were looking at a serious flu pandemic, a very strong  and vocal campaign demonizing vaccines, as well as a growing public distrust of vaccines and the entire medical industry. But then a funny thing happened. Despite all their bark, the antivaccine movement proved to lack sufficient bite, as enough Americans still seem to have gotten vaccinated against one or both prominent strains of flu, leading to a dramatically reduced number of flu cases and flu-related deaths this season.

It also goes without saying that none of the doom-saying predictions made by the antivaccine crowd panned out either. There was no dramatic increase in autism, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, or dystonia. Nor were there many deaths or serious injuries directly linked to the vaccines. And many of the “alternative” “medicines” the antivaccine crowd flock to like homeopathy and chiropractic  also got hammered with terrible press. But that’s not all that went wrong for the antivaccine movement over the last few months. There are numerous other reasons why 2010 is already proving devastating to their entire movement. … continue reading this entry.

An Intellectual Dichotomy at the New York Times

The home of a paper of record and a website of crap.

The home of a paper of record and a website of crap.

The New York Times kindled a love of science in me at an early age.  My parents, at the time, were trying to get me to a place where I would actually read the paper.  I was more of a comic books and… well… nothing else kind of guy, and they wanted to me to be educated about the world.  My mom handed me a copy of the Tuesday Science Times.  “Here,” she told me.  “You kind of like science, give this a look.”  Though I cannot for the life of me remember when this occurred, I still remember the article about the new ion drive scientists were installing onto the Deep Space 1 probe.  I clipped it out of the paper and put it up on my wall, right by my bed.  Though I don’t always read my copy of the New York Times, since that Tuesday long ago, I always look forward to what I’ll get from the paper on Tuesdays.  That was… until the internet.  The New York Times is beginning to become vaguely schizophrenic as far as science is concerned.  Though the Tuesday times is still, on the whole, doing well, the times foray into blogging has been less than scientifically valid.  Is this simply the problem of too many contributors, or are we looking at a possible shifting view in a paper of record? … continue reading this entry.

Clustered datapoints indicate non-environmental causes of autism

An excellent report aired on NPR this week in reference to a terrific study that just came out of UC Davis. This study, led by biostatisticians (these researchers produce the most trustworthy numbers in science) looked at a whole suite of environmental products frequently maligned as causes of autism. Their results indicate that neither household products, nor local environmental anomalies correlate with clustered “outbreaks” of autism. What does? Demographics. Well educated, well-off parents are more likely to have children with autism. The researchers posit that this is due to their greater ability and willingness to seek out diagnosis and treatment. It is a meaty article, and one that researchers in this area will be looking at closely. No doubt, it is also one that misinformed groups like Age of Autism will also be criticizing.

Here is the abstract for the paper on Pubmed which will be published in Autism Research. … continue reading this entry.

Age of Projectionism

The anti-vaccination quacks at Age of Autism (AoA) decided that instead of addressing individual refutations from the bloggers coming out of the incredibly successful Scienceblogs, that they’d just launch one big ad hominem attack on the entire site. As always, don’t expect them to include any actual science in their rants. They don’t understand it and I’m sure they wish people would stop calling them out on it. So let’s get right into it, shall we. … continue reading this entry.

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