Respectful Insolence

Today is a very sad day in the autism blogosphere. The news I am going to discuss saddens me and should sadden anyone concerned with autism, particularly in combating the antivaccination hysteria and the outright quackery that flows from it promulgated by so many these days, from J. B. Handley to Jenny McCarthy, who couldn’t be more different other than their being twits.

One of the longest-running and best autism blogs, Left Brain, Right Brain, is closing.

It would be one thing if the trials and tribulations of everyday life had led Kev to make this decision, as they do for so many other bloggers. It would be another thing if he had just gotten tired of it, or if blogging had lost its interest for him. Such was not the case. For Kev, the reason was…well, let Kev tell you:

The reason LB/RB is shutting is because I cannot continue to allow my beautiful eldest girl to be exposed to the hatred and bullying she is recieving from John Best. John has seen fit to compare my beautiful child to a trained monkey because he didn’t like the fact she was progressing. He has made numerous jokes at her expense on that theme. He has assumed her identity online. He has encouraged others to do the same.

Let me be clear. I do not care one iota what this cowardly idiot thinks of me. He can write whatever he wants. But he has involved my daughter. Not to reference her progression. Not to quote me. But to laugh at her and to put words in her seven year old mouth.

For those of you not familiar with John Best, he has been an intermittent and sometimes frequent commenter on this blog under the pseudonym “Fore Sam.” He is the only commenter in the nearly three year history of this blog whom I have ever banned, albeit temporarily, and he richly deserved it. I took some flak for announcing that he was banned in public for the not unreasonable guess that Best loves attention, even negative, and I was giving it to him, but in retrospect my only regret is that I didn’t ban him permanently. Best has a blog, entitled “Hating Autism” (Google it, if you really want to see it; I refuse to link directly to it anymore). He’s always been a piece of work, and every so often I would check Hating Autism to see just how crazy Best could become, but this time he went too far.

Over the last few days, John Best made three posts that were so despicable in nature, so over the top, that even I hadn’t thought that Best could go that far. Best appears to have taken them down now, and unfortunately they are not in the Google cache or in the Wayback Machine (presumably because they were very recent, since Thursday or Friday), nor did I save a copy of them. I’m sure Kev kept a copy, though. Suffice it to say that they were written as though they were in the voice of Kev’s autistic daughter Megan and were represented as pleas for help because her daddy “won’t do anything to make me better.” As Kev put it:

I genuinely fear for her safety at the hands of this person (I will refrain from calling someone who picks on children ‘a man’). Three days running he has posted blog entries about her, two of which assume her identity and one of which is attempting to gain money in her name. I do not know where he would stop. Therefore the only way to make her safe is to remove us from his presence.

So vile and vicious were Best’s words that I truly did not know how to react, other than to forward the link to Kev, thinking that he should know about it. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t done that, but that’s just wishful thinking on my part that if I hadn’t told Kev about Best’s vile posts he might never have known about them.

Over the years, Kev has had many vicious and slanderous statements directed at him and made about him by a number of those on the “other side,” who cling to the discredited notion that mercury in vaccines or vaccines themselves cause autism, and he’s generally handled it with aplomb and a level of patience that I do not think I could have mustered. He built up what is, as far as I know, by far the most popular autism blog, with over 4,000 unique visits a day the last time he mentioned his traffic, and a few weeks ago expanded it into a group blog. In the world of autism and neurodiversity, Left Brain/Right Brain had become the strongest and brightest candle in the darkness, speaking out against the antivaccination lunacy, pseudoscience, and quackery that dominates all too many of the discussions about autism on the web and in the blogosphere. Its loss is a huge loss. (Imagine, if you will, the skeptical movment losing the Skeptics’ Society or the James Randi Educational Foundation, and you’ll get an idea of how bad this is.) Although, like Joseph, I sincerely wish Kev had not come to this decision and hope that he may, once the emotion of the moment passes, reconsider, I can’t at all blame him for his decision. He had to do what he thought to be right for his daughter and his family, and if shutting down Left Brain/Right Brain was what he needed to do then so be it. There’s no reason that he should be faulted for not wanting to subject his daughter to the demented ravings of an individual as hateful as John Best. It’s impossible to know, but very likely were I in Kev’s position I might well have come to the same decision, though it saddens me to see a blog that I first discovered two years ago when I first lambasted RFK Jr. for his dishonest scare piece on Salon.com go silent.

The truly sad thing about this is that John Best, twisted as he is, will probably view Kev’s retirement from the blogosphere as a “victory.” Indeed, so will others, which just goes to show that the mercury militia and antivaccination fringe are indeed more about silencing debate than about engaging in true debate. Based on my experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that at least one true mark of a crank, particularly medical cranks but certainly not limited to them, is that they are obsessed with who the opposition is. Because their position is so tenuous and because there is no legitimate scientific rationale for it, their only fallback it to attack the person. Failing that, they look for other weaknesses, one obvious example of which is to get to the one they detest through his family, which is what happened with Kev.

Unfortunately, this tendency to try to censor or otherwise silence contrary opinions is pervasive in autism “biomedical” circles and in alternative medicine circles in general. A few months ago, I wrote about how scientists doing autism research whose work does not support a link between vaccines or mercury and autism have found themselves at the receiving end of campaigns of harassment, and just this week the Society of Homeopaths used legal threats to silence a blogger who criticized it for not living up to its own published ethical standards. Personally, even though I’m convinced that the evidence does not support a link between mercury and autism or vaccines and autism and think that the parents who believe otherwise are quite wrong, I’d like to think that disturbed individuals like John Best do not represent the vast majority of parents who have concluded that vaccines or mercury contributed to their children’s autism. Only time will tell. Will their reaction be to condemn John Best for his inexcusable and despicable behavior? Or will it be, as it has been before, to ignore or tolerate him–or to use him as evidence of their reasonableness in comparison?

I’m not holding my breath waiting for the answer.

ADDENDUM: Skeptico weighs in.

Comments

  1. #1 Uncle Dave
    October 15, 2007

    Something I sent to Kevin’s email

    There is a quote that I believe is credited to Albert Einstein that goes something to the effect,
    “Great minds have often been met with violent opposition by those of mediocre minds”

    Pardon me if someone knows this quote better than I and I have butchered it.

    As I write this, I have just heard the voice of Diane Sawyer announce on the television (my wife listens in the morning as she gets ready for work) that Jenny McCarthy is up next on “Good Morning America”…..

    sh%t %#@!!!!

  2. #2 vlad
    October 15, 2007

    I posted this at Best’s site. I have the distinct feeling he won’t publish it so I’m adding it here.

    “neither anonymous nor a nut. So if all of this advancement has helped you why are you not at the Autism trial? Is it cause you would look like an idiot in court? Have you actually read any of the scientific literature, with even a basic understanding of how it works? If it is mercury that causes Autism then the numbers should be dropping, you personally point out that they are not (If I’m taking it out of context I’m curious as to how). Mercury is currently used in tetanus, influenza, meningococcal which is a huge reduction from the past. I’m willing to side with cart blanche if you can explain to me how the reduction of mercury exposure in vaccines has lead to the Autism epidemic you are claiming exists?”

    I’d very much like to see his response to it.

  3. #3 BigHeathenMike
    October 15, 2007

    Man, what a tremendous douchebag.

  4. #4 Bronze Dog
    October 15, 2007

    I will consistently refer to him as ‘thug’ from now on.

  5. #5 vlad
    October 15, 2007

    I’m still at a lose for why they never actually read there own studies, as in the studies they claim have evidence of harm. Everyone I have read so far has always used chronic exposure to show harm. If anyone can point me to a study (a real study) that shows toxic effects from acute doses I’m still willing to listen. The feds have looked at the evidence objectively based on the simple fact that they all still get there kids vaccinated.

  6. #6 Matt Platte
    October 15, 2007

    Remember that “I am Spartacus” technique? I wonder if it works in the reverse: why doesn’t Kev guest-publish articles on *lots* of blogs now?

  7. #7 Theresa
    October 15, 2007

    I do not know anything about John Best or his blogs. But as the parent of a 12-year-old boy with autism, I am all too aware of the controversy surrounding vaccines and autism. For a decade, in waiting rooms of therapists’ offices, I have met dozens of parents who believe their childrens’ autism is caused by vaccines. These have tended to be highly educated people — some of them dentists, lawyers, and nurses. A few spent their life savings on worthless — and sometimes dangerous — alternative treatments to “cure” their children of autism.

    I remember one mother in particular who ran up $25,000 in credit card debt getting herbal treatments and chelation therapy for her autistic son. She told me he had improved greatly since receiving the treatments; as an impartial observer, her son seemed exactly the same to me — uncommunicative and lost in his own world.

    Like all parents of children with autism, I know all too well about the heartbreak of this disorder. My son has never had a real friend. He is challenged in many ways, and will never be fully independent. He is achingly innocent and does not fit into the harsh world around him. As his mother, it is all I can do not to cry myself to sleep every night.

    There are very well-documented studies on hundreds of thousands of children from around the world on the safety of vaccines. Yet many parents believe vaccine manufacturers or governments are behind some kind of a conspiracy to give their children autism.

    What causes this kind of highly irrational thinking? Purely and simply, it is fear. Autism is on the rise, its cause is unknown, and there is no cure. (Autism is now the most common developmental disability there is, outpacing even Down syndrome.) Put all those factors together, and even the most well-balanced person becomes a little crazy.

    There are a half dozen groups advocating for children with autism and their families. I have tended to shy away from them because they aren’t always particularly scientific. Several years ago, at least one autism group was promoting a drug called secretin to treat autism, even though it never panned out in clinical trials. These groups try to mobilize families of children with autism. I am all for mobilizing. I remember the AIDS activitists of the 80s and 90s who got AIDS funding and research to sky high levels. But too many autism groups are off the mark. They cloud true issues with their paranoia about vaccines and their fervor for alternative treatments. I am not comfortable in that scenario. It just increases my sense of anxiety and helplessness.

    Yes, like other parents, I feel helpless, and sometimes I feel hopeless. But most of all, I feel impatient. I wish the scientific community would hurry up with some real answers. As I heard one parent of a child with autism say, “If cancer affected one in 150 children, we would have a cure by now.”

  8. #8 isles
    October 15, 2007

    You’re right, the most galling thing about this whole situation is the fact that the thug will take pleasure in it.

    It’s hard to imagine what kind of puerile peabrain would think his time on this Earth was better spent threatening a seven-year-old autistic girl than, oh, I don’t know, gainful employment or spending time with his children.

    I’m sure it will entirely escape the thug that if the idea with which he is obsessed had any basis in reality, he could use logic to overcome its opponents, rather than caveman-like behavior.

    With all due sympathy to Kev and his family for the vileness that has been directed toward them, can you imagine what it must be like to live in the Best household? One shudders.

  9. #9 Liz Ditz
    October 15, 2007

    I won’t link to Best’s blog.

    I’m keeping a running count on comments reflecting on Kev’s decision to shutter his blog, here

    Beyond Appalling and Disgusting: The Thug John Best, jr.

    Feel free to add links I’ve missed in the comments section.

  10. #10 Liz
    October 15, 2007

    I forgot to say: I’ve gotten in the habit of saving both source code and screenshots of posts that I find really disturbing. It only takes a couple of seconds.

  11. #11 Fan of Kev
    October 15, 2007

    I feel so sorry for Kevin and his family–what kind of cretin singles out a little girl? I hope that he can find some way back to the blogosphere. His intelligence and point of view will be sorely missed. He really challenged my way of thinking and for that I am grateful.

    At the end of the month, there will be a large autism walk in my area to raise funds. The ads (which are running in several local parenting mags) feature the line, “Every 20 seconds a child is kidnapped…by autism.” Nice way to combine the two hypes of the moment–pedophiles and asd.

    Many of the autism “advocacy” groups operate by instilling fear in the community at large. Kev just got it on a very personal level and I don’t blame him for hanging up his hat for a while.

    What a shame though.

  12. #12 Ali
    October 15, 2007

    ah yes, i remember fore sam. he was a troll, and trolls should be banned. i still support that decision. i can also understand kev’s decision. best’s actions went beyond trolling into a very creepy place.

  13. #13 daedalus2u
    October 15, 2007

    This is a real shame; a shame that something bad has driven out and destroyed something good.

    Will any of the Mercury Malacia blog about this? I doubt it. They will silently gloat that one of their minions has destroyed one of their enemies. That he used implied threats against a 7 year old child to do so is an unimportant detail.

    What their silence proves beyond a shadow of a doubt is that there is a conspiracy, a conspiracy against the forces of reason. A conspiracy against those who would try to help their ASD children and all children live fulfilling lives filled with love, affection, respect and hope.

    This simply proves yet again that the Mercury Malacia is about power and money, not about helping children. The facts don’t matter. That is why when the facts didn’t match what Sally Bernard wanted, she withdrew from the research program she was involved in. The fact that Wakefield fraudulently reported finding measles virus doesn’t matter. When a child was killed by chelation Kennedy fell over himself to say he never recommended chelation.

    If the Mercury Malacia did care about children, they would repudiate the actions of Best (or would have done so years ago). But they didn’t then and they won’t now. Bullying people on the spectrum is the only way some know how to relate to them.

    I have a blog about Autism Spectrum Disorders too, not a very popular blog because it tends to be quite technical, hard to read and harder to understand. Reality is like that, sometimes it is hard to understand. I don’t fully understand it myself, although I try. Some people can’t deal with reality. So they make up a fantasy world, where “reality” is as they perceive it, a fantasy where 7 year old children are “fair game” to preserve their money and power.

  14. #14 Uncle Dave
    October 15, 2007

    There have been countless stories written in the past centered around the same issue;

    Man shows up in town claiming to have the remedy or cure for a town afflicted with a life threatening illness, or even better claims to have the reason or cause of said illness.

    There will never be a short supply of poor soles looking for the magic elixir, the cure in a bottle, elimination of wheat glutens, vaccines etc. etc. etc. Fear is the fuel of charlatans quacks and even well minded loved ones. My wife had a parent that kept her child on a starvation diet free of wheat, glutens, etc. etc. in a desperate attempt to pull them out or heal them of the disorder. Needless to say this parent could not be swayed by even the most astute of scientific practitioners.

    Many people have been trampled in an attempt to keep others from stampeding….

  15. #15 John Best
    October 15, 2007

    LOL, thanks for the laugh people. It’s very amusing to watch the way you nuts demonize people who tell the truth about how the medical-industrial complex poisoned our babies. Hey, I enjoy a good smear campaign as well as the next guy so don’t let me interrupt your fun.

  16. #16 Common Sense
    October 15, 2007

    “My wife had a parent that kept her child on a starvation diet free of wheat, glutens, etc. etc. in a desperate attempt to pull them out or heal them of the disorder. Needless to say this parent could not be swayed by even the most astute of scientific practitioners”.

    Starvation diet? Honey, you better do better than that… My daughter is on a strict gluten free diet due to Celiac disease and it is FAR from a starvation diet. I also had my son on the GF/CF diet for a long time (we now allow small amounts)… The diet can be difficult, but is very worth it if your child can’t tolerate a lot of different types of foods (as was the issue with my child and thousands of others). My son gained about 5-6 pounds in one month on this so-called “starvation diet” due to the fact that he could finally start digesting the food that he ate… You sound quite ignorant in your comment here :)

  17. #17 Bronze Dog
    October 15, 2007

    JB, we don’t need to demonize you because you’ve demonstrated your villainy over and over again. If I didn’t think you flunked basic English aptitude, I’d say you deliberately lied about our stances on various issues. Especially when you hypocritically did what you falsely claimed what you did in regards to development.

    If you weren’t so stupid, I’d be tempted to call you a hired thug, paid for by Big Altie corporations.

    That doesn’t change the fact that you’re a thug who will do anything, no matter how base, to stroke your own enormous, fragile ego.

    Of course, you got yourself: “The money and politics are much more important than the science here.”

    Translation: “Screw the truth! Convenient, unsubstantiated ad hominems are the basis of reality!”

    Face it, JB: You’re a villainous, selfish thug who’s devoted his life to hurting people to make himself feel important. And you’ve demonized the entire world, rather than admit you’re a fallible person. You consider your godhood more important than the truth. If you were an honest human being, rather than a criminal monster, you’d dispute the data through the scientific method, rather than mindlessly parrot propaganda from opportunistic ambulance-chasing lawyers and “scientists” who rig their unethical chemical castration experiments to minimize personal accountability.

    Sorry, JB, but you’ve got a lot of accountability for your dishonesty, no matter how much you’d like to deny it.

    You can’t run away from your responsibilities. You can’t run away from the truth. The real world does not operate on your selfish, egotistical convenience.

  18. #18 has
    October 15, 2007

    Kevin needs to speak to the police – this is getting into cyberstalking territory.

    http://www.google.com/search?&q=cyberstalking+site%3Awww.usdoj.gov

  19. #19 Uncle Dave
    October 15, 2007

    Dear Common Sense

    My sincere best of luck to you.
    You have bigger issues that anything worth printing in this blog.

  20. #20 Patience
    October 16, 2007

    I said it to Kev in an email, and I’ll say it here: I will genuinely and truly miss his blog.

    I first really learned about autism here, and on Skeptico. I didn’t know anyone, personally, growing up who was autistic (though, in retrospect, I have serious questions about a cousin who stims to this day, and he’s 19 now). Autism was one of the scary developmental diseases I hoped desperately I would not have a child with. I greatly feared down’s, and autism, and all disorders of communication and comprehension.

    While I have many thanks to Orac and Skeptico for educating me about the science of autism–potential treatments, potential causes, the whole lot–it was Kev who taught me that it is not something to fear. The concept of neurodiversity and the entire neurodiversity movement greatly appeals to me, and it was Kev who opened that door. Seeing his words about Megan, and how much he adores her, hearing about his struggles–and then later, adding many from the Hub to my reading list. Kev, and the Autism Hub, have taken away my fear of having a child who is different than me, in any way. His incredible love and acceptance for his daughter makes me confident that I, too, can love and accept any child I have, no matter what.

    I’ll miss you, Kev. You’ve been a bright spot in a sea of darkness and have truly enlightened me.

  21. #21 Lepht
    October 16, 2007

    a while back i started a search for a universal tautology. i finally found it.

    (John Best) < => (anencephalic smeg-sniffer)

    L

  22. #22 Jack
    October 16, 2007

    Contractions of the posts are still available via Technorati with the search phrase “john best” austism:

    Hey Dad, if you stop treating me like a monkey to teach me how to perform some simple tasks, you might find out that I’m very ill mentally … that I can and would find interesting. Beyond that, her association with John Best taints anything … recover while you keep preaching like some sort of bonehead that autism is something to celebrate. I ain’t

    A flavour of the ghastliness.

  23. #23 DuWayne
    October 16, 2007

    When I get the chance, I will add this one to my recent spate of pieces on silencing the criticism of others. This is vile and repugnant. A shame to lose such a great voice in the world of neurodiversity.

  24. #24 Mat
    October 16, 2007

    By playing around with Technorati, I managed to get a bit more of the posts than Jack did up there.

    1. Hey Dad, if you stop treating me like a monkey to teach me how to perform some simple tasks, you might find out that I’m very ill mentally. I can’t learn those things you want me to learn because my brain just won’t work right. You’re a real horse’s ass Dad, for defending the drug companies who scrambled my brain. Any decent father…celebrating, Dad. Being autistic sucks. Not being able to talk sucks. Not having friends sucks

    2. Hey Dad, Weren’t you listening to me? I didn’t ask you to attack that nice Mr Best who wants me to enjoy my life. I asked you to help me. How does attacking a parent who helps his son help me, Dad? I don’t care about this neurodiversity crap, Dad. I just want to be like normal kids. Please Dad, I hope you won’t be mean

    I can’t make myself deal with his shit any more now though.

  25. #25 baaderlives
    October 16, 2007

    I’ve just stumbled across this Left Brain, Right Brain/John Best thing.

    This guy surely can’t be serious? Isn’t this some kind of trolling on a grand scale?

  26. #26 daedalus2u
    October 16, 2007

    My own hypothesis of why some NTs (neurologically typicals) don’t “get along” with people with ASDs is due to the disruption of mirror neurons in the ASD individuals, which (my hypothesis) activates the “xenophobia module) along the lines of the uncanny valley

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley

    Effectively what I think happens, when two people meet, they communicate via their mirror neurons (effectively do a Turing Test to see if the other one is “human” enough) and if their communication has sufficient consilience, then they are “close enough” to be able to cooperate and get along. If the error rate is too high, then xenophobia gets invoked. The lack of consilience can occur via cultural differences in body language, or via disruption in mirror neurons.

    I think this is the reason that people with ASDs invoke such antipathy in some NTs and why bullying is so common, and is even accepted by adults in charge. It is not uncommon for ASD individuals to be blamed (and punished) for being bullied. I think that antipathy, when felt by a parent of an autistic child, gets displaced onto some other agent (i.e. mercury, vaccines, big pharma) and is the rationale for why there is such irrational behaviors around such things.

    People with ASDs don’t register as quite “human”, and so maltreatment of someone with an ASD isn’t considered so bad as maltreatment of someone who is NT. I think this is the rationale behind the “curebie” philosophy, that low probability of success treatments with high risk of death or other side effects are “worth it” because the alternative (invoking xenophobia in a parent) is so bad.

    It isn’t that ASDs are so bad for the people with them, they are “bad” for the NTs who have to deal with the ASD individuals.

  27. #27 DuWayne
    October 16, 2007

    daedalus2u –

    Spot on. I have severe ADHD and dealt with a similar phenom growing up. Anything and everything was blamed for my problems, from my mothers prenatal smoking, to too much tee vee.

    Now I’m the first to admit that there are aspects of my neuro-issues that are very frustrating and I would love to get some respite from. However, overall I consider who I am to be a damn fine thing. And I can’t begin to say how glad I am to have the autistic friends I have been blessed with. It has been of immense interest to me, to note how well ADHD and autism mesh, complementing and balancing one another.

  28. #28 DuWayne
    October 16, 2007

    My post on this is up. Dovetails nicely with the post about homeopathic thuggery and another about Ayan Hirsi Ali, who’s story exemplifies yet another method for silencing criticism. I will have a longer post up in about a week, detailing these and other methods for stifling dissent. Time to call out scumbags like Best and others who would silence their critics.

  29. #29 Patience
    October 16, 2007

    Daedalus, that’s very interesting. I’ve recently been reading about Dunbar’s number (or the term I’ve seen used on a few blogs, the monkeysphere, which I think is much more awesome overall), and wonder if that fits in somehow. If people with ASDs don’t necessarily register (because they are unable to/don’t feel the need to communicate ‘normally’) as individual persons, I wonder how that connects to their sense of personhood for other people. But, then again, it’s entirely speculation on my part.

  30. #30 Graculus
    October 17, 2007

    It would be a lot of fun to picket John Best’s house.

    Just saying…

  31. #31 Kristjan Wager
    October 17, 2007

    This is a very bad development. I understand Kevin’s choice, but I am sorry that he had to make it. John Best is a creep of the worst kind.

  32. #32 sophia8
    October 17, 2007

    baaderlives: Yes, John Best is a troll on the grand scale. Some background:
    Father of an autistic child, he asserts that his kid’s autism is caused by mercury in vaccines and it can be cured with all sorts of useless high-priced ‘alternative’ treatments such as chelation.
    Kevin Leitch is also the father of an autistic child, named Megan. He has been championing Neurodiversity, which recognises that autistics are not in need of curing, but just have different neural development. Many of his blog posts were about his daughter, whom he clearly loves and is proud of.
    John best has never displayed such love for his son – at least, not on his blog; instead, his posts about the boy are full of how animal-like the child’s behaviour is, emphasising the worst aspects of stimming, withdrawal and so on.
    That contrast between the two fathers is, I think, the cause of Best’s particular antipathy towards Leitch; for the last year or more, he has been waging a bullying cyberwar against not only Kevin, but also his daughter; tactics have included assuming Megan’s identity both on and offline (posting disgusting filth like the examples above in her name); appealing for funds in Megan’s name; numerous personal attacks on both father and daughter.

    He’s the worst troll I’ve ever come across in seven years of blogging.

  33. #33 daedalus2u
    October 17, 2007

    DuWayne, You might want to check out my blog, I am writing (on and off) about what I think is the mechanism that causes the ASDs, I think they are a “feature”, along the lines of the “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature” line by Bill Gates. I think it is a response to stress in utero, to “program” the brain of the developing fetus into the ASD phenotype, as a compensatory reaction to maternal stress. Along the lines of the “cycle of violence”, which is (I think) another developmental paradigm, the epigenetic implementation of the adage “the best defense is a good offense”. When times are violent, better to be violent first.

    Humans are unique among organisms in their ability to use tools. Who are the best tool makers and users? Those with Asperger’s. When was tool use most important? During “hard times”, when tool use meant the difference between survival and not, between reproduction and not. Early tools were made of stone, which is not easy to work, and so required much repetitive effort to become sufficiently skilled to make useful implements.

    I see the most important symptoms of the ASDs as all features: the social isolation to be able to abandon the conventional wisdom and conventional paradigms which may be wrong (see Thomas Kuhn), and the repetitive behavior to develop the de novo skills to make stone implements.

  34. #34 Patience
    October 17, 2007

    Daedalus, that’s very interesting. I’ll check it out, too.

  35. #35 Der Bruno Stroszek
    October 19, 2007

    Hey, I enjoy a good smear campaign as well as the next guy

    Oh, we know.

  36. #36 anonimouse
    October 22, 2007

    The mercury freaks are sick. They will stop at nothing to demonize and harass anyone who disagrees with their pet theory. Write an email to Paul Offit, or to anyone of the good folks at the CDC, or to anyone who’s put out a study that rebuts their theory. They will tell you some really crazy stories about the lengths these loons will go to silence dissent.

    It would be just garden-variety crankery, except these clowns have money to throw around and lawyers to fight their battles for them. That’s what makes them so dangerous and why they have to be stopped – this kind of thinking is getting people hurt.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.