One way that pseudoscience tries to maintain a patina of respectability to the outside world, a patina that sometimes even manages to take in researchers unacquainted with its methods, is through the “research conference” that has all the trappings of a research meeting but whose topics reveal the pseudoscience at the heart of it all. Such a conference is coming up this spring in Chicago from May 21-25.
Yes, I’m talking about the AutismOne conference, which, year after year, has managed to attract luminaries of the mercury militia and antivaccination movement, along with dubious practioners of “biomedical cures” of autism. This year, the mercury militia are all atwitter because the keynote speaker is going to be none other than that ex-Playboy Playmate and graduate of the University of Google on autism, who has claimed that she has cured her son Evan of autism and could make him autistic again if she stopped all the diet and biomedical interventions to which she’s been subjecting him, Jenny McCarthy, the same woman who is writing a book about “mother warriors” (warriors in the cause of stupidity is more like it, at least in McCarthy’s case).
Meanwhile, get a load of some of the speakers, which is loaded with members of the mercury militia, such as Boyd Haley, Mark and David Geier (who, remarkably, are still touting their Lupron protocol quackery), Mayer Eisenstein (whom we’ve met before), and a number of others, with talks of the like of Thimerosal – Over 50 years of known toxicity! (Unsafe at any Concentration) by Frank Engley, who says this: “NOT GRAM- NOT MILLIGRAM – NOT MICROGRAM- BUT NANOGRAM!”
I actually couldn’t stomach any more, but if you have any doubt that AutismOne is nothing more than a mutual self-congratulation conference for the mercury militia and autism pseudoscience, just peruse the abstract list. Any semblance of actual science is so completely drowned out by antivaccination posturing and biomedical claims that I wonder why anyone who wants to be taken seriously (Mady Hornig, for example) would be associated with it.
Too bad the ASCO Meeting in Chicago this year doesn’t overlap with this one; I’d be highly tempted to make an appearance at AutismOne, just for blog material.