Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » THE REALLY BIG LIE

THE REALLY BIG LIE

Filed at 6:34 am under by dcobranchi

This Op/Ed on autism was picked up around the globe. Strong on emotionalism. Very weak on data. Homeschooling rates a very minor mention.

11 Responses to “THE REALLY BIG LIE”


Comment by
Andrea
August 22nd, 2006
at 10:16 am

I wonder how (or if) she accounts for people with autism who have never been vaccinated.

Also, ADD is on the spectrum, if we want to get really technical, but way at the other end.


Comment by
Carlotta
August 22nd, 2006
at 4:13 pm

Ok…I’m going to be strong on emotionalism and weak on data…but in support of the opposite argument.

My father, for most of his life, worked in places where at least half of his colleagues would nowadays be classed as severely Aspergic. In fact, what we now call Asperger traits were then positively selected for, since the work involved extremely focussed attention to one subject and high degrees of literalism with almost no importance attached to establishing personal relationships. However, not one of his colleagues had any formal diagnosis and indeed, having usually gone via Oxbridge to highly paid careers, were often regarded as very successful people.

I also feel that the relaxation of some of the former rigidities in the British educational system has allowed for AS children to become more obvious, since literalism, rigid conformity to set rules and precise use of language are no longer the norm. There is also an increasing emphasis on successful socialisation, to include skills like empathy, which again means that an AS child is less likely to go unnoticed.

I therefore can’t help but think that an increase in diagnosis has a very strong part to play in the apparent increase in the number of AS children, particularly when one couples the above with the epidemiological debunking of the MMR myth and the exposure of the dodgy practices and undeclared interests of the doctor who proposed a link.


Comment by
Rikki
August 23rd, 2006
at 1:36 pm

The autism arguments are just as tedious as the ADD arguments. Is it just me, or does it seem like we get a new catch-all diagnosis every few years to explain the complexities and oddities in children’s behavior?

Extremely active child? Oh it must be ADD.
Weird child? Oh, it must be Asperger’s.
Extremely active weird child? Oh it must be Televisionism. :p
Vaccinations from the opiod family given to parents would cure all this. 😉


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
August 23rd, 2006
at 4:36 pm

I’m not buying it. Yet. If the data were as clear-cut as you claim there would be NO controversy. From what I’ve seen, the best (i.e., most controlled) studies have found no link. There may yet be one (science can always change its collective mind), but so far, there’s no there there.


Comment by
NMcV
August 23rd, 2006
at 6:16 pm

Actually, there have been scientific studies done, most notably in England, Canada, and Denmark, and there has been no correlation found between vaccinations and autism.

You may choose, if you wish, to discount those studies, but it doesn’t help your campaign to deny that they exist.

Like all genetic traits, they run in certain populations. Studies of Amish familes showing a low incidence of autism only means that the Amish have low rates of autism. It does not show why. It may well be, and probably is, that the Amish simply don’t carry the genetic codes that produce the autistic neurology.

On the other hand, the Amish do have higher rates of Cohen Syndrome, Chondroectodermal dysplasia, Crigler-Najjar syndrome, SIDS, microcephaly, and a couple of dozen other disorders than do the general population.

If we conflate causation and correlation, we could state that being unvaccinated caused these conditions. We could also state that speaking Yiddish causes Tay Sachs. Makesd just as much sense… although it dlacks the emotional consolation that the autism-vaccination “connection” does.

Disintigrative childhood diorders are not autism. They’ve been lumped in together becuase they have similar symptons. But it’s like saying that measles is caused by poison ivy, because they both cause an itchy rash.


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
August 23rd, 2006
at 6:26 pm

NMcV–

Was that directed at me? ‘Cause we’re on the same side.


Comment by
Rikki
August 23rd, 2006
at 7:23 pm

Just for the record, I know ADD is not on the spectrum. I was referring to the popularity of tagging children with some disorder or another. The big one was ADD, now there’s a rise suddently in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Just seems rather interesting, as if there are parents it the world just looking for a label to describe childhood behaviors that don’t follow the absolute middle of normal behavior.


Comment by
CT
August 23rd, 2006
at 10:23 pm

First of all NMcV, let me thank you for posting a well thought-out comment worthy of consideration. I’m always willing to listen, and yours was worth reading.

As for the studies done in Denmark, England, and Canada I am not denying they exist. They were flawed. They’re not universally accepted, and if they were, congress would not be asking for a scientific study to be done.

And as for the Amish, yes, the fact that they are not vaccinated does not prove a causal relationship. But autism has popped up in different parts of the world, among different countries and races of people, at the same time. So to say that it is only a coincidence that the Amish don’t have the genes to cause autism, seems weak. And what about the homeschooled and the children in the Chicago practice not having high rates of autism. Certainly they may not have the genes, but that becomes one more coincidence among many. It’s just a coincidence autism was diagnosed 5 years after the vaccines. It’s just a coincidence that the vaccine schedule and autism increased at the same rate. It’s just a coincidence that mercury poisoning causes autism. It’s just a coincidence that thousands of parents saw their child become autistic right after a vaccine. It’s just a coincidence that autistic kids improve after mercury chelation. Etc. Etc. Being told that these are all just coincidences gets old. Someone mentioned these as not being clear-cut facts, otherwise there would be no controversy. Well, these facts aren’t disputed, they’re just argued away, usually with “coincidence”, because no one can prove just yet a link. I don’t know for sure there is one. But to say that parents of autistics are looking for “emotional consolation” in blaming the vaccines is just wrong. Believe me, it would be a lot easier to accept that vaccines absolutely DON’T cause autism, we wouldn’t have to worry about our autistic children not getting vaccines any more, worry about them contracting the full-blown diseases. Acceptance of autism has nothing to do with blaming someone, it just makes it harder. The reasons we have for believing there may be a link are based on logic and reason, and not because parents of autistics are all emotional, stupid people looking for a scapegoat. To say so is to try and prove a point without logic and with nothing more than a judgmental insult.


Comment by
Jill
August 24th, 2006
at 8:14 pm

CT

Do you believe autism only developed after 1938 when it was named??

I do not, and that may be because I have two family members (great-uncles) who are both autistic, although they were born in 1920/1922 time frame. On is still alive today, in fact, living in a nursing home in DE.

I don’t know what causes autism, but I definitely believe it has existed for much longer than vaccines have. I would very much like to see a proper, controlled scientific study done of the autism/vaccine link. Does anyone know if such a study is even in progress?


Comment by
NMcV
August 25th, 2006
at 5:43 pm

No, Daryl, my comments weren’t directed at you.

I try not to read those types of articles any more… doesn’t do my blood pressure any good. But I did read this one, since it started up discussion here.

About the prevalance of undiagnosed autism, she says “If these kids had been always been around, what had the schools done with them?” as if that proves “the big lie.” I found it sadly amusing that a homeschooler would use the failures of the school system to “prove” that if they didn’t take care of something, it didn’t exist.

If she really wants to know where all thos eautists were, she could go to one of the many groups of autistic adults, most of whom were not diagnosed until recently. Where were they before? Some were warehoused in generic “special ed” classrooms, misdiagnosed as “metally retarded” or “emotionally disturbed”. Many struggled in regular classrooms, where they were frequently the targets of verbal and physical abuse by their peers… and sometimes by the teachers.

Those who were lower functioning, or lacked remediation in communication skills, or who had “embarassing” stims, or who crossed social barriers that they didn’t understand, were often left out of schools altogether. Schools in many states weren’t required to teach “unteachables”.

Many were institutionalized.

You can only get so much out of talking to people who refuse to look at evidence that disproves their pet “theories.” Sort of like the creationism thing.


Comment by
NMcV
August 25th, 2006
at 5:59 pm

CT:

As to the studies that you know admit do exist, you say, “They’re not universally accepted, and if they were, congress would not be asking for a scientific study to be done.” As if what Congresscritters do is proof…?

I don’t have time right now to go over all the flaws in your arguments. I will say now two things:
You say (sarcastically):”It’s just a coincidence autism was diagnosed 5 years after the vaccines.”

But the subjects of Asperger’s studies weren’t all young children, and so can’t possibly “prove” this conjecture.”

and:

“…not because parents of autistics are all emotional, stupid people looking for a scapegoat. To say so is to try and prove a point without logic and with nothing more than a judgmental insult. ”

I didn’t say that. You did.

Your argument is lacking in logic. Strong on emotion, though. That seems true of all those who make your “vaccination causes autism” claim.