Respectful Insolence

That Jake Crosby, he’s a crazy mixed-up kid, but I kind of like him.

He seems like a nice enough and smart enough kid, but, sadly, he’s fallen in with a bad crowd over at the anti-vaccine crank propaganda blog, Age of Autism, so much so that he’s even blogging there, helping, whether he realizes it or not, to promote the message that vaccines cause autism and that various forms of biomedical quackery can somehow “cure” autism. I say “whether he realizes it or not” because he seems to have settled into the role of AoA’s token young adult on the spectrum who promotes the party line. Indeed, he’s truly drunk the Kool Aid–big time–as I pointed out a few months ago when I noticed that he had written in my comment section in response to my observation that “no amount of science…will ever convince them [anti-vaccinationists] that vaccines don’t cause autism.”:

“Amount” doesn’t matter. A million “studies” claiming the Earth were flat wouldn’t make it true. Likewise, pseudostudies claiming no association to autism consistent with overwhelming evidence of a CDC-cover up will only further convince me that vaccines cause autism.


Even so, I continue to think that Jake might be educable if he would only dissociate himself from the merry band of anti-vaccine loons over at AoA. I even kind of admire his moxie for trying to do some research in writing what he bills as part I of a piece entitled “Science”Blogs: Seed Media’s Aggressive Weed. (Cue the pot jokes here.) True, it’s about as wrong-headed as anything I’ve seen on AoA, but, unlike the nonsense that J.B. Handley, David Kirby, or the other adults lay down on a regular basis, it’s an innocent sort of wrong-headedness. Yes, I know the entire post is nothing more than an extended ad hominem attack combined with a pharma shill gambit. Yes, I know it’s an incredibly inept and obvious ad hominem attack combined with a pharma shill gambit. But Jake showed some initiative. That’s why I think I need to school Jake a bit. However, unlike the case with the other members of AoA, I just can’t get angry over it. As I said, Jake’s just a crazy mixed-up kid; the rest of the crew at AoA are dangerous cranks. And maybe, just maybe, I can show Jake a bit of the error of his ways.

Jake begins with a little snark directed at both my benevolent overlords and me:

To Seed Media Group, “science” is its gimmick, defined by corporate sponsors. This has led to the vitriol emanating from “Science”Blogs, so much so that it has directly prompted multiple responses from Age of Autism, mostly to a “Science”Blogger using a fake name, hardly ethical journalistically. While the media’s job is to report the news, not make it, that principle has not merely been ignored, but butchered by Seed Media Group, that presents itself as an unbiased, scientific source. Instead, it doesn’t just report on science, it attempts to define “science” as the pharmaceutical industry sees fit

Gee, whom do you think Jake’s referring to there? Of course, Jake knows who I am. So does everyone else on AoA. I know this because, whenever I get on their nerves enough, someone (usually J.B. Handley) will post something to slime me and intentionally try to poison my Google reputation by putting my name in the title and mentioning it as often as he can along with my job. The most recent member of the Borg–I mean AoA–collective to have done this is Ginger Taylor, who not only attacked me but published a private e-mail exchange I had with her when she wrote to complain about a post I had written after one of her tirades. She also published private e-mail exchanges with Sheril Kirshenbaum and reporters from the L.A. Times. Definitely not cool, and definitely not ethical “journalism.” Besides, probably at least a quarter, if not many more, of my readers know who I really am. It’s not exactly the best-kept of secrets. Moreover, I’ve said nearly exactly the same things about AoA under my real name in public as I’ve said here. Yet, oddly enough, AoA never, ever mentions any of those posts. Indeed, when I do publish the same thing here and at my other locale, AoA attacks me here, because then whoever the attack poodle du jour is can whine about my pseudonym.

Jake’s also laboring under a major delusion. Who ever said that Seed Media Group represented itself as an “unbiased” source? SMG has a definite point of view and advocates a certain political viewpoint, which is obvious to anyone who actually–oh, you know–reads the magazine. It also has a definite viewpoint, namely that “science is culture.” Everything published in the magazine flows from that viewpoint. Methinks Jake needs to grow up a bit and learn the difference between a magazine designed for the popular dissemination of science and the discussion of its relationship to culture and politics and an “unbiased” source of science.

Of course, criticizing Seed’s politics or failure to be “unbiased” isn’t really what Jake’s about. What he’s about is a plethora of logical fallacies, including ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments, and poisoning the well (a.k.a. charging guilt by association, in this case the pharma shill gambit). He begins by attacking the founder of Seed Media Group, Adam Bly, in a manner that can only kindly be called ridiculous. Trust me, if I didn’t like Jake, I would have laid a heapin’ helpin of not-so-respectful insolence on him for this. On the other hand, if Jake wants to play with the big boys, he’d better learn to be able to handle the slapdown he’s going to get for writing dreck like this:

Seed Media Group, established in 2005, was born out of SEED Magazine, founded in 2001 by Adam Bly, young Canadian entrepreneur and self-proclaimed prodigy. Bly wants the world to know he served at the age of sixteen as the youngest guest researcher at the National Research Council- a Canadian government body that overseas scientific progress, studying “cell adhesion and cancer.” That, apparently, was his springboard to success. It is unclear if Bly was actually doing real research, or just the equivalent to entering a high school science fair. The significance of this is not obvious from the website, and I can’t imagine what gets taught by 10th grade in Canada that merits cancer research. He does not mention any previous accomplishments that qualified him for such a position. Nor does he mention who invited him to be a guest researcher. Nonetheless, this, Bly claims, was what inspired him, not to become a scientist, but to become a businessman who runs a media company that writes/blogs about scientists, which is exactly what he did. This was when SEED was conceived, though it would be a couple more years before it would start to sprout weeds.

Well, at least Jake can read Bly’s bio on Seed’s website. What, I ask, does Adam Bly’s activities as a teenager have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing. Jake seems to be trying to denigrate Bly’s having done research, belittling it as a “high school science project.” Dude, high school science projects can be very valuable in teaching teenagers science. I can also tell Jake as a scientist and physician myself that it’s quite impressive for a 16 year old to have done what sounds like a research fellowship in cancer research at the NRC. Indeed, Jake needs to expand his mad Google skillz and actually–oh–search the NRC website. If he did, he’d note that the NRC has high school students doing all sorts of interesting biotech research and engineering projects, all apparently designed to nurture the next generation of scientists. By comparison, I didn’t start doing real research until I was in college and I didn’t publish my first scientific paper until I was 26. What Jake missed was that the biotech research was sponsored, at least in 2006, by the pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis. It was even called the National Sanofi-Aventis Biotech Challenge! Obviously that was what corrupted the young Adam Bly’s mind at such an impressionable age. Then was the time that the Dark Lords of Pharma inducted him into their Dark Order of Vaccines and turned him into a willing servant.

Really, Jake, you need to do better. If an old fart like me can out-conspiracy monger you, you need to work a lot harder to find those tenuous connections and weave them into a truly compelling yarn. Bring in the Illuminati. Really. And black helicopters, too. It works for David Ayoub, and it could work for you too.

I do note, however, that Jake’s quite the budding journalist. Unfortunately, he seems to be learning his investigative technique from David Kirby and Dan Olmsted. There’s a famous line from a famous movie from around 30 years ago, in which the dean of a college tells a young man, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” “Fat, drunk, and stupid” is the perfect description of the “journalism” of David Kirby and Dan Olmsted, and it’s sad to see a promising young man apparently think it’s a good idea to emulate their methodology. Even worse, it could seriously harm Jake’s aspirations. He lists himself as a history student. If Jake were to use “research” methodology that in any way resembles how he did this paper for his history writing assignments, I fear for his ability to pass his classes. I really do. On the other hand, maybe his history professors will manage to teach him that real research doesn’t involve weaving tenuous connections into a major conspiracy theory that supports his own pseudoscientific beliefs. At least, I hope they can. Otherwise, I fear that Jake may find himself researching Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories or falling into the 9/11 “Truth” movement.

Jake, you don’t want to end up like Kirby and Olmsted. You really don’t. Don’t you want to do some good? To be respected? To have your life mean something? Emulating those two is not the way to accomplish those ends.

Much of the rest of Jake’s piece is a tortured attempt to demonstrate that, because ScienceBlogs accepts–gasp!–advertising that it must be hopelessly in the thrall of big pharma and, by implication, vaccine manufacturers. Indeed, it’s one of the most tenuous bits of trying to slime Seed with guilt by association that while reading it my fatherly instincts kept coming out. I wanted to sit Jake down and explain to him just where he had screwed up so badly, just how ridiculously fragile a house of cards he had constructed. I’ll try here, but it won’t be fatherly.

Jake makes a lot of hay over the fact that Seed Magazine published an article in March 2005 about the father and son team of vaccine quacks, Mark and David Geier. He praises this article thusly:

In May 2004, for example, a contributor launched an impressive, critical investigation into the controversy surrounding mercury in vaccines. The article was a thoughtful piece of investigative journalism in which public health officials declined to comment while outside researchers willingly participated.

This article appeared in the May 2004 issue of Seed, and a link to a PDF of the file is right here. As anyone who’s read my blog over the years would immediately recognize, this is a credulous piece of garbage. It lionizes “brave maverick doctors” who (1) inject autistic children with a drug used for chemical castration to “treat” autism and (2) set up their own fake institute to do and fake IRB to rubberstamp a highly unethical and pseudoscientific “clinical trial” using this drug on autistic children. Quite honestly, if I had read that Seed article before I was asked to join ScienceBlogs I don’t know if I would have joined. The article was that bad.

But, then, if you believe Jake, something changed after that, something that opened the way for bloggers like me to have carte blanche to attack the anti-vaccine movement. He even attacks P.Z. Myers:

Nothing published before 2005 is traceable on the magazine website, and the article can only be located from alternative sources. SEED magazine would never take such a contribution now, especially since the most popular “Science”Blogger, P.Z. Myers, writes a column for the bimonthly magazine. Myers’s “Science”Blogging about the subject of autism and vaccines is not very in-depth, but he still calls proponents of the theory that vaccines cause autism “anti-vaxers.” I wonder if he thinks the late W.D. Hamilton, arguably the greatest evolutionary biologist since Charles Darwin, was an “anti-vaxer,” for saying he was 95% certain the polio vaccine in Africa caused AIDS.

I can’t speak for PZ, but as far as I’m concerned, why, yes. I would call someone who claims that the polio vaccine caused AIDS not just an anti-vaxer. I’d call him a crank and a pseudoscientist, because there’s no evidence to support such a contention. I am, however, fascinated to see an actual case of an evolutionary biologist venturing into a field not his own and becoming a crank about it. Usually, it’s neurosurgeons or engineers thinking that evolutionary theory couldn’t possibly explain the diversity of life and descending into pseudoscience.

So naturally my presence and that of PalMD, and others who slap down antivaccine lunacy; revere, who advocates vaccination against seasonal flu; and others who don’t put up with anti-vaccine nonsense, are clearly because something changed after 2004. Jake thinks he sees copious evidence in the fact that ScienceBlogs posted a favorable review of Paul Offit’s book and advertised it. These days, according to Jake:

Today, SMG is divided into two categories: SEED Magazine and “Science”Blogs, formed in 2006. The latter is an invitation-only blog of around 69 paid “Science”Bloggers, and every blogger’s view relating to the controversy over autism and its relation to vaccines is entirely predetermined and seemingly the same, whether it’s thimerosal, or the MMR: They do not cause autism, and anyone who thinks otherwise is an “anti-vaccinationist.”

Actually, relatively few bloggers here at ScienceBlogs ever even write about vaccines. The few who do on anything resembling a regular basis include PalMD, revere, Mark Hoofnagle (who has started a surgery residency and doesn’t blog much anymore), Tara Smith (who is on hiatus), and, of course, yours truly. That’s five blogs out of the current 69, not exactly a high percentage. Of these bloggers, I’m the one with the highest traffic, and my traffic is at best an order of magnitude lower than PZ’s. If Jake looked at the topics of conversation that dominate ScienceBlogs, he’d find they’re not generally about vaccines. Evolution is huge. So is atheism, thanks to PZ. But vaccines? Actually, sometimes I feel as though I’m a lone voice in the wilderness. The only reason it seems to Jake that ScienceBlogs is all about vaccines is because AoA and he concentrate on me. It’s all confirmation bias.

It’s also all about big pharma, too, according to Jake. He spends quite a bit of verbiage spinning connections between various pharma companies and Adam Bly, mainly by listing ads by pharmaceutical and chemical companies that have appeared in the past on ScienceBlogs, and basically going wild about them. The most amazing example of making connections where there almost certainly are none. Jake also seems to have an inflated view of his own power:

My mention of a Schering-Plough ad in the comments section of a thread on “Science”Blogs hit a nerve. For one, I never saw that ad on “Science”Blogs again after mentioning it. Secondly, I immediately found myself on the receiving end of the ad nauseum “anti-vax” gambit along with a complaint from a “Science”Blogger of how horrible it was that I was interfering with “normal commerce” to prove my point about the conflicts of interest on “Science”Blogs from a typical “Science”Blogger.

This, I assume, was Jake’s comment. I actually don’t remember it. As is not uncommon among youth, he thinks he made more of an impact than he really did.

In any case, let me school Jake a bit now about how ScienceBlogs works. Seed Media Group has never–I repeat, never–told me how to blog or what to blog. SMG exercises no editorial control over what I or any other blogger here writes. Indeed, some of us have been rather brutally frank in our opinions of certain advertisers. Nor are we in any way monolithic or do we march in lockstep. Indeed, the occasional bouts of internecine blog wars between members of our collective have at times led me to fear for the future of ScienceBlogs. Let’s look at it this way. Jake probably doesn’t read my blog every day. So I can forgive him that he’s blissfully unaware of a string of posts by me that have been very critical of the practices of pharma, for example:

What do you think the consequences were to me for daring to criticize my big pharma paymasters? What horrific punishment did the Great Pharma Powers That Be inflict upon me? Absolutely nothing. I continued to collect my massive paycheck from Seed Media Group every month based on my traffic. It’s enough to pay for my cable (including Internet access and phone) with some beer money left over. Riches galore are mine!

What do you think the consequences have been when I’ve gone after Age of Autism articles or, for that matter, other advocates of pseudoscience? Outing, poisoning my Google reputation, full frontal ad hominem attacks, at least two attempts to get me in trouble with my bosses over the last few years, one by a cancer crank a while back and a more recent one spurred by an AoA post. (There may be more that I never heard about.) No, I’m not saying that big pharma doesn’t try to make its critics pay at times, but from my admittedly anecdotal standpoint the anti-vaccine movement has tried to do me far more harm than any drug company.

In any case, I’ll give Jake a hint. In the real world, it takes money to run a magazine and website. Lots of it. The way magazines and websites make enough money to continue to operate. Advertising has been a part of publishing for a very, very long time and likely will continue to be. As Jake points out, even AoA accepts quite a bit of advertising these days:

Right after I pointed out the Schering-Plough ad on “Science”Blogs and its connection to Merck, one of the “Science”Bloggers attempted to counter this by criticizing Age of Autism, “Apparently AoA has graduated from accepting advertising from supplement manufacturers to accepting pure pseudoscience, as long as it brings in the green,” as if the contributors of Age of Autism are blogging just so Lee Silsby can sell more vitamins. Comparing Lee Silsby to Merck is like comparing a Chihuahua to a Rottweiler.

I can only hope that more maturity leads Jake to understand that he is harping on a distinction without a difference. Size per se is not the issue when it comes to advertising. Accepting the money is. What matters is not the size of the company sponsoring ads, but rather how much money that company is contributing relative to the total budget of the publication. Seed has lots of other advertisers. Heck, Lexus even advertised here for a while. In any case, if Lee Silsby contributes the same amount of money relative to the AoA budget as Schering-Plough does relative to the entire ScienceBlogs budget, they are equivalent. Indeed, I would throw Jake’s words right back at them: “As if ScienceBloggers are blogging just so Schering-Plough can sell more vaccines.”

We aren’t, and that’s not what SMG is in business for. Jake apparently can’t see the hypocrisy and double-standard behind his argument.

I’ll finish by doing two things. First, a reality check. Jake apparently thinks that we ScienceBloggers are kicking back at home in their underwear or sweats, churning out verbiage that is pleasing to our big pharma paymasters and wallowing in the filthy pharma lucre, all the while cackling gleefully as we spit on autistic children. As I always say to anyone who pulls the pharma shill gambit on me, I would really love it if I could make my current salary just by doing what I was doing for free before ScienceBlogs asked me to join and would do for free again if ScienceBlogs ever asked me to leave or if I ever decided to leave for another reason. (In fact, I do still do this for free once a week at another blog.) It would be fantastic to be able to stay home every day and churn out that not-so-Respectful Insolence that my readers have come to know and (mostly) love, meanwhile just waiting for that lovely pharma money to roll in.

It doesn’t work that way, and Orac don’t roll that way.

The fact is that my day job is hard. I work long hours. Blogging is my main hobby. Sad and pathetic, perhaps, but I do so love it. Who does or does not fund SMG matters not one whit to me. It affects what I do or don’t write not at all. I daresay that the same is true for virtually every blogger here. We don’t blog because we’re trying to curry favor with pharma masters; we blog because we love it.

I’ll give one last example. If SMG exercised any influence whatsoever on the editorial content of the blogs here, does Jake really think that it would have allowed PZ to desecrate a Catholic host? After all, there’s nothing like publicly crapping on the deeply held religious beliefs of around 25% of the population to attract advertisers.

Jake labels his post as “Part I.” My advice to him is to quit before he digs himself in too deeply. However, if I may speculate, I bet I know what part II will be about. He will once again, as so many on AoA have before, start trying to dig dirt on me again. If he is really, really good, he may figure out that I’ve been funded for cancer research through the Department of Defense in the past. He may even find out that I, too, have–gasp!–got a small payment from a pharmaceutical company for an invention I co-invented back around 1994. Alas, there has been none since. As I always say when I disclose my potential conflicts of interest before a talk, I don’t have any because no pharmaceutical company thinks my research is worthy of funding.

Jake, you crazy mixed up kid, someday maybe you’ll understand. I also hope that you learn that David Kirby and Dan Olmsted are not the “journalists” you want to emulate, which, sadly, is what you appear to be doing now.

And vaccines still don’t cause autism.

ADDENDUM: Oh, goody. I see Jake has written Part II. Whether I bother to deconstruct that as well, depends on my mood when I get home tonight. I have to operate today and I may be too tired. In any case, Jake did confirm one thing I suspected. Sarah Bridges, who wrote the execrable 2004 Seed article about Mark and David Geier, appears to be someone who thinks that vaccines “injured” her child.

ADDENDUM #2: PalMD is not feeling as mentor-like as I am in his response.

Comments

  1. #1 Joseph
    September 23, 2009

    Get this. The other day Jake was complaining at LB/RB that mean mean people had called him a conspiracy theorist. What a tool.

  2. #2 Myself
    September 23, 2009

    Garbage story. Where is this guy to defend himself? Since when does a personal attack become an interesting story. Trash it

  3. #3 Terry
    September 23, 2009

    #2: The guy is on the blog and he can defend himself there or here on the comments. What a lame comment, the same could be said for Jake. Where is Orac to to defend himself there?

  4. #4 Orac
    September 23, 2009

    Actually, Jake has a much better chance of defending himself here than I ever would at the heavily censored blog where Jake wrote his hit piece. I don’t censor comments (well, except for the occasional spelling or grammar flame, and then only if that’s all the comment is, a spelling or grammar flame). In five years, I’ve only banned two people. Commenters come here all the time and try to rip me a new one. Try criticizing the AoA bloggers in the comments of AoA, and your comment will either not be approved or quickly disappear.

    I have never deleted any of Jake’s comments, and I always approve them if they get caught in the spam filter.

  5. #5 james
    September 23, 2009

    I think you may be calling Bill Hamilton a crank a bit too quickly. A news piece in Nature at the time of his death (Nature 404, 9 (2 March 2000) suggests that there was still a small amount of doubt about the origin.

  6. #6 Ge
    September 23, 2009

    A little off topic, but as a journalist, I just have to respond to this so often made claim:

    ‘While the media’s job is to report the news, not make it’.

    It’s wrong. Really. If we only reported the news we would have newspapers consisting only of stories containing natural disasters, crime reports and governmental debates.

    In reality we create news all the time. Checking the facts is the most basic of journalistic jobs, and that is in a way ‘creating the news’. Another example are interviews: pure created conversations; still, any journalistic medium would be less, without them. And don’t even get me started on the importance of investigative journalism for a democratic society.

    As for the article Dave made: I’m under the pretense that he thinks this is a journalistic work. It isn’t.
    Journalism begins with an open mind when aproaching a subject. Second, if you want to make a point, it might be prudent to have a little bit of evidence.

    Also, if you accuse someone of this kind of really evil ‘big pharma paid’ indoctrination (cause if it was truth, it would be evil), it is unethical not to ask the accused for a response.

    On a side note,
    Jake Crosby has a point, although he probably doesn’t even notice it himself: advertised based blogs (or sites) do have a dangerous tendency to play nice for it’s ‘masters’ because of their business model.

    These ‘masters’ are however not directly the ‘advertisers’ (or big pharma, if you like such generalizations). In fact the master’s are the readers that come to the blogs. As Orac is saying himself, he get’s paid for the amount of traffic that he is creating.

    This has a natural impulse to give the public the stories they like to read, (or sincerely hate, but will read anyway), because they generate the most money for the writers. (advertisers don’t want blogs that only sing glory about their glorious products, cause no-one would be interested in reading those blogs (infomercials excluded) )

  7. #7 Science Mom
    September 23, 2009

    From Jake @ AoA:

    So anyone who shares an opinion even remotely similar to Jenny McCarthy on “Science”Blogs is quickly lumped in with freaks and AIDS deniers (ironic, since AIDS was probably caused by vaccines)…

    And he wonders why his ilk are lumped in with ‘freaks’? I don’t think he has bothered to read here since he is continuing with impotent criticism of the ‘biased’ slant that Science Bloggers have. In spite of the fact that bloggers here unabashedly chastise unethical behaviour, whether that be on the part of pharma or anti-vaccinationists.

  8. #8 Pablo
    September 23, 2009

    I guess I don’t get it. Yeah, I’ve seen ads from drug companies here, but I’ve also seen ads for hotels, and cars, and facebook, and even the whackaloon ads for supplements and alternative medicine.

    Recall the recent kerfluffle of people actually arguing for boycotting SBM (I think) because it was getting overrun with whackadoodle ads?

  9. #9 Ge
    September 23, 2009

    correction: i meant ‘article Jake made’, not ‘article Dave made’.

  10. #10 ABradford
    September 23, 2009

    [quote]“Comparing Lee Silsby to Merck is like comparing a Chihuahua to a Rottweiler.”[/quote}

    As someone with a lot of friends in the veterinary field, this comparison is both telling and extremely funny.

  11. #11 ABradford
    September 23, 2009

    bah, my comment fu is weak. Maybe my chi is out of alignment.

  12. #12 Iason Ouabache
    September 23, 2009

    Wait… there are ads on the internet? I guess I should turn off AdBlock every once in awhile to see them.

  13. #13 Ge
    September 23, 2009

    @ABradford

    Caused by digital vaccines probably, damn the software-industry pushing anti-virussoftware down or troats.

  14. #14 KWombles
    September 23, 2009

    I almost deconstructed Jake’s post yesterday. So much material, so little time, but I figured your take would be amusing.

    To be fair, though, it’s really mean to the Borgs to compare them to AoA’s rank and file. I hold out hope that AoA’s actual rank and file unquestioning supporters is actually far less than its actual readers. :-)

    And I hate the kool-aid reference. I get that many will only understand the saying in a vague way and not take it back to Jim Jones, but there has to be a better way to say his critical thinking skills are severely impaired by the need to be an accepted member where no individual introspection is required. Oh, wait. Maybe not. Damn. I still hate the reference, but I understand it.

  15. #15 MikeMa
    September 23, 2009

    Jake has commented here quite extensively in the past. just a warning to those who might be tempted to argue with his usually long posts, pick one thing only to criticize/correct. He rarely responds to 2 or more criticisms at a time. Frustrating when you go to the trouble of taking him apart point by point.

    I think Orac’s first point on Jake is the most telling. He equates flat earthers to scientists citing studies claiming no connection between vaccines and autism. This is the crux of the problem for Jake and many other conspiracy nuts. No amount of evidence will ever convince them they have made an error. I do not share Orac’s belief that Jake is redeemable but I’d like to be surprised in that regard.

  16. #16 Catherina
    September 23, 2009

    @ 7 ScienceMom

    The reason why AIDS denialism came up in conjunction with Bert E. is that he signed a petition on an AIDS denialism site, not because he spread the “Aluminium is the new thimerosal” myth. I have known Bert for ages and unfortunately, I had to see how he went further and further off the deep end.

  17. #17 Sid Offit
    September 23, 2009

    …a “Science”Blogger using a fake name,
    ————————-

    You mean you’re not really a futuristic computer from broadcasting from deep federation space???

  18. #18 Pablo
    September 23, 2009

    #15 MikeMa – I, too, am really baffled by the whole “flat earth” comment. Actually, I’m not so baffled so much as to see it as reflecting Jake’s simplistic thinking.

    Think for a minute, what would it say if there actually WERE a million scientific studies showing the earth was flat? I guess it depends on how many showed it to be spheroidal, but the context is that the science for the flat earth is overwhelmingly resulting. What Jake is missing is that only reason he can say those studies would wrong is because, in fact, scientific studies overwhelmingly actually say that the earth is round! Therefore, he is trying to use scientific knowledge to discount a supposed scientific process.

    Of course, all this is nonsense, because not only haven’t “a million scientific studies” shown the earth is flat, not a single one has. Standing out on the plains of West Texas and proclaiming, “Damn that’s flat” is not a scientific study or all that meaningful. Unfortunately, that is basically what the vaccine-causes-autism crowd is doing (yes, I’m talking about you, Jay Gordon)

  19. #19 ntsc
    September 23, 2009

    Silence Dogood and Poor Richard would be proud of your pseudonym, a tradition in good American journalism going back 250 years or so. Not to mention Mark Twain or O’Henry although I don’t think they published as journalist under those names, but they did muck-rack.

  20. #20 Rjaye
    September 23, 2009

    OMG, did Sid make an actual snarky joke that kind of made sense?

    Will wonders never cease?

  21. #21 Sid Offit
    September 23, 2009

    I would call someone who claims that the polio vaccine caused AIDS not just an anti-vaxer. I’d call him a crank and a pseudoscientist, because there’s no evidence to support such a contention
    ———————————-

    It may not have caused AIDS but it very well could have

    Simon Wain Hobson, co-organizer of a September 2000 Royal Society of London meeting in focusing on two theories of the origin of AIDS commenting on Ed Hooper’s theory/hypothesis that AIDS originated from vaccine contamination stated:

    I don’t think Hooper could prove his case and I think our subsequent work shows it doesn’t fit… but it could have. Robin [Dr. Robin Weiss – event co-organizer] was right it was a close shave.

  22. #22 patrick
    September 23, 2009

    Excellent takedown…

    Also, it amuses greatly me that Age of Autism is blocked by my work’s content filter as “spam.” Tee hee hee.

  23. #23 Kismet
    September 23, 2009

    @Pablo

    1# Supplements are not inherently bad. How much explaining does this little fact need?!
    Abusing science to sell expensive and dangerous supplements is evil; not supplements.

    2# isn’t it *great* if those cranks waste their money to advertise on a blog with, probably, the least receptive audience to their bullshit? At least that’s what I usually read in PZ’s comments section. Creationist advertising is almost omnipresent on his blog. Is there really any reason to boycott?

  24. #24 Pablo
    September 23, 2009

    Kismet – while not all supplements are bad, most of the time supplements are not needed but are being peddled by the alt-loons. Look at the “Gonzalez” cancer procedure, which included, in addition to two coffee enemas a day, 150 “supplement” pills.

    The supplement ads that have shown up on ScienceBlogs fit completely with the latter. They aren’t saying, “Take Vitamin D and protect your skin from sun exposure,” for example.

  25. #25 MikeMa
    September 23, 2009

    Sid,
    I guess I don’t understand the ‘close shave’ reference. Subsequent work showed that there was no link. No link. Nothing ‘close’ about it.

    No surprise to see anti-science loons still using the debunked theories to sell whatever woo they happen to have.

  26. #26 Pablo
    September 23, 2009

    Kismet – as for your #2, to boycott or not is not the point, which is more that, if there are whackaloon ads, shouldn’t that mean that Orac is beholden to “Big Whackaloon”?

    It makes as much sense as Jake’s claim that a pharma ad means he is a pharma shill.

  27. #27 Sid Offit
    September 23, 2009

    @MikeMa
    I guess I don’t understand the ‘close shave’ reference
    ——————————-

    In English, the idiom ‘close shave’ refers to a narrow escape or a close call. As to whether it was close, I’ll take the word of Hobson and Weiss over yours. The moral of the story: when you start injecting foreign substances into people, you incur substantial risks.

  28. #28 Scott
    September 23, 2009

    Risks that are much less than those of the diseases the vaccinations prevent, however.

  29. #29 MikeMa
    September 23, 2009

    Oooh, oooh Sid,
    You are such a pedantic git!

    I am not opposed to the ‘close shave’ idiom when the result indeed indicates a near miss. It does not. Whether you trust me or not isn’t the point. There is no link. Nothing close about it. Their science may be good but Hobson & Weiss expressed the result badly.

    As for the foreign substances, we put them in our bodies all the time. I call bullshit on the substantial risks. Food is foreign. Water, even clean water, is nowhere near free of foreign substances. The air is full of foreign substances. Either our bodies react by using it, rejecting it or ignoring it. That’s the way the system works. You cannot live in a bubble and call that some elevated quality of life.

    It would be great if the majority of humans lived in cleaner, safer environments but scaring stupid Americans into believing there are these ridiculous risks when the vast majority of the world lives in conditions far worse is borderline criminal.

  30. #30 BA
    September 23, 2009

    Though I’m a big admirer of Ben Franklin, Silence Dogood and Poor Richard sensationalized topics relating fictional accounts of events to make a point. I don’t see Orac as being in that line of work.

  31. #31 Interrobang
    September 23, 2009

    So, uh, Sid, how do you feel about tetra-ethyl lead? Used to be a lot of that in gasoline in North America, still is in a lot of the rest of the world, as far as I know, and it accumulates in human bodies to an extent far greater than any heavy metal exposure you might putatively accumulate from vaccines — even decades after leaded gasoline was finally phased out in North America the average North American’s body still contains hundreds of times more lead than the average North American’s body did prior to the introduction of TEL in gasoline. Unlike with vaccines, nobody at all was saying that leaded gasoline was protective against disease. And, given that several other equally-effective antiknock agents were already available at the time, including the ones we’re using now in the main, putting lead in gasoline had no purpose other than to make General Motors, Standard Oil, and a bunch of mofos named DuPont even richer than they already were.

    So why do you bitch about vaccines when, thanks to a genuine-article Big Money conspiracy (in the sense of a bunch of rich bastards colluding to commit crimes), the toxin load from simply existing is orders of magnitude greater than anything you might get from a shot? Fish or cut bait.

  32. #32 Sid Offit
    September 23, 2009

    Sid, how do you feel about tetra-ethyl lead?
    ————————————

    In the 1920s, Robert Kehoe, a scientist at the University of Cincinnati, was hired by GM and Dupont – 2 leaded gasoline suppliers – to perform safety studies on lead. The research, nor surprisingly, supported the argument that lead was safe and shielded the leaded gasoline from federal regulation.

    Unfortunately, this research was later widely discredited. Lead was found to be major contributor to childhood lead poisoning and as such was, by 1986, phased out in the USA

    So I’m glad the lead is out. I view its sordid story as a cautionary tale alerting us to be vigilant when science and industry assure us that their products are safe

  33. #33 Seer
    September 23, 2009

    #21: [citation needed]

  34. #34 ababa
    September 23, 2009

    Sid,

    So a single scientist released a study after being funded by someone that would profit greatly from finding a particular result? Later this study was “widely discredited” and a major contributor to a rise in illness among children?

    Sound like anyone you know? Andrew Wakefield, maybe?

  35. #35 Sullivan
    September 23, 2009

    “Lead was found to be major contributor to childhood lead poisoning…”

    How can you argue with that. Lead was found to contribute to lead poisoning.

    He’s run circles around you, logically, ORAC.

  36. #36 Joseph
    September 23, 2009

    In the 1920s, Robert Kehoe, a scientist at the University of Cincinnati, was hired by GM and Dupont – 2 leaded gasoline suppliers – to perform safety studies on lead. The research, nor surprisingly, supported the argument that lead was safe and shielded the leaded gasoline from federal regulation.

    Is this another urban legend, like the one about science supporting the tobacco industry?

    Because I’m searching Scholar for work on lead poisoing by Robert Kehoe in the 1920s, and I find things like:

    Lead in various forms has been recognized for a long time as one of the important occupational poisons.

    (JAMA, 1925)

    Lead poisoning continues to be this country’s outstanding occupational disease hazard.

    (Lead Poisoning in the United States, Report to Committee, 1929)

    Furthermore, if lead excretion varies with exposure, it becomes possible by studying a sufficient number of men in this way to measure adequately the lead hazards associated with various occupations. Such a method provides a check on the adequacy of all the preventive measures used to control a given hazard, including the extremely variable and undependable element of carefulness on the part of the workers. The usefulness of such information, capable of interpretation on a sound basis, is obvious, both in the domain of industrial preventive medicine, and in the larger field of the public health

    (American Journal of Public Health, 1928)

    Doesn’t sound like Dr. Kehoe found lead was safe.

  37. #37 Sid Offit
    September 23, 2009

    @Joseph

    Thanks for your interest in lead toxicity. Here’s the footnote

    Christopher Bryson, The Fluoride Deception (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2004), p.41

  38. #38 Joseph
    September 23, 2009

    @Sid: A book on the fluoride conspiracy theory is not sufficient to answer my question. Show your work. Let’s see original sources.

  39. #40 Sid Offit
    September 23, 2009

    @Joe

    LOL. Like I really care whether you’re satisfied with my footnotes.

  40. #41 Denice Walter
    September 23, 2009

    Anti-Vax Lunacy is spreading: Tuesday next,healthcare workers in NY will protest mandatory H1N1 vaccination outside Gov.David Paterson’s Albany office.Supposedly the rally was organized by nurses, daycare workers, and home health aids,but I imagine some of the *usual suspects* will aid and abet them.

  41. #42 Arnold T Pants
    September 23, 2009

    @Sid,

    You made a claim that Kehoe found lead to be safe. Joseph produced multiple instances of Kehoe saying quite the opposite. Whether or not you care if he’s satisfied with your footnotes, you fail.

  42. #43 MikeMa
    September 23, 2009

    So Sid,
    How does purple smell exactly?

  43. #44 Joseph
    September 23, 2009

    @Sid: Do you care about the reliability of your facts?

    Do you at least concede that a no point in time “science and industry” (as you claim) were covering up the dangers of lead? Go ahead, you can search Scholar to see if that was true at any point in time.

  44. #45 Sid Offit
    September 23, 2009

    @Mr. Pants and Friends

    Hazards of the Job: From Industrial Disease to Environmental Health Science By Christopher C. Sellers [UNC Press]

    Seach “kehoe lead gasoline”
    —————–
    P308 FTNT#66
    A Study of the Health Hazards Associated with the Distribution and Use of Ethyl Gasoline,” 1928
    —————–
    http://libraries.uc.edu/hsl/history/Kehoe2.cfm

    Check in Box #91

  45. #46 Joseph
    September 23, 2009

    I don’t have access to that report, but it’s true that the risks of low level exposure of lead (like from gasoline) were not really understood until the 1970s.

    But I see no evidence of a cover-up by “science” nor claims that lead was “safe” in general. Scientists, in fact, were very concerned about leaded gasoline from the very beginning.

    There was certainly industry pressure, and maybe they were not equipped to study the issue, and they did not study it enough at the time (even though the US government did recommend further study), but there was no scientific consensus saying that leaded gasoline was safe or anything of the sort, much less one based on a single study.

  46. #47 Sid Offit
    September 23, 2009

    @Joseph

    You might find this last link of interest

    Especially p109 – lead is safe

    http://books.google.com/books?id=X1f7XiA6maIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=deceit+and+denial#v=snippet&q=lead%20kehoe&f=false

  47. #48 Igor
    September 23, 2009

    There is a reason why you don’t see any cover up by “:science” of occupational hazard from lead in gasoline. It is because, primarily, other than the study Sid mentions, scientific community and researchers were quick to identify the link between exposure to lead fumes. Of course industry funded study by Dr. Kehoe was methodologically flawed to support a desired conclusion, akin to the Wakefield study. In fact, the similarity in the methodological flaw is stunning (hint: class selection).

    this article does a fairly good job detailing the the leaded gas disaster. http://www.radford.edu/wkovarik/ethylwar/IJOEH.pdf

  48. #49 Joseph
    September 23, 2009

    It doesn’t say lead is safe. The argument was about leaded gasoline. And there’s probably a reason why it took until the 60s and 70s to realize there’s an issue — there were a lot more cars.

    It is amazing that no one really studied the matter of leaded gasoline, outside of Kehoe. This is despite the Surgeon General’s recommendation from 1926:

    It remains possible that, if the use of leaded gasolines becomes widespread, conditions may arise very different from those studied by us which would render its use more of a hazard than would appear to be the case from this investigation. Longer experience may show that even such slight storage of lead as was observed [among human guinea pigs] in these [1925] studies may lead eventually to recognizable lead poisoning or to chronic degenerative diseases of a less obvious character. In view of such possibilities the committee feels that the investigation begun under their direction must not be allowed to lapse…. With the experience obtained and the exact methods now available, it should be possible to follow closely the outcome of a more extended use of this fuel and to determine whether or not it may constitute a menace to the health of the general public after prolonged use or under conditions not now foreseen…. The vast increase in the number of automobiles throughout the country makes the study of all such questions a matter of real importance from the standpoint of public health.

    That was basically forgotten, but I don’t think there was a cover-up from government.

    I also don’t think Kehoe’s results were fabricated or fraudulent. Yes, he had a conflict of interest. But he obviously thought lead was an environmental hazard. The main problem with his research was that he studied effects of leaded gasoline in adults (apparently gas station attendants) and he probably did not have the capability to detect subtle neurological effects.

    So there was in fact a lot of delay in understanding the dangers of leaded gasoline. That was because the problem was not studied except by one guy, and because they just didn’t have the capability to study it correctly. The industry of course wanted to keep lead in gasoline for various reasons, but industry pressure is ultimately irrelevant to the scientific process, which always wins in the end.

  49. #50 deep
    September 23, 2009

    I’ve read through some of this guy’s PoV posts about being on the spectrum. Something about the getting a C on a grade because he’s terrible at multi-tasking irked me a bit. As some one who has had to deal with something similar, it worries me a bit at his “I had to work hard because I had a disability when it came naturally to some other kid” attitude. I’ve known people who were naturally good at math, but I never justified my trouble with it with “I have a disability” nor have I done so with my social skills, or how I talk, or at my usually long rambling blog comments :) He worked hard and overcame it (as shown in his writing, and probably hasn’t taken more than a year or two). He chose to not seek support, which means he is lucky enough to be one of the ones who has that option, and yet he continues with how having AS is a disability and how he can’t believe how people (mostly Neurodiversity proponents) want to say that they don’t have a disability, and that they have considered it a benefit to be on the spectrum. I know he has had to deal with things most people don’t, but something about his attitude bothers me immensely. I don’t know anyone in the ND group who has said that autistic children who can’t talk or adults who can’t take care of themselves don’t have a disorder. To attack them for “trivializing” autism because they have had more problems living under the label (and being called “disabled” or being stuck in generalized “special classes” despite not needing to be at a young age) than with any actual disability of their asperger’s. Can you blame them?
    Sorry, I don’t know if my problems with this are valid or if it’s just a sore subject with me. I’ll be glad to hear what other people think of his views.

  50. #51 Joseph
    September 23, 2009

    Something about the getting a C on a grade because he’s terrible at multi-tasking irked me a bit.

    It also bothered me quite a bit. It’s not that I don’t believe he’s not good at multi-tasking.

    He basically said he can’t do paper citations because of multi-tasking (adding the citation and then going back to the paper) and he ends up with too few citations, and that’s why he gets a C.

    Personally, I suspect he was too lazy to add enough citations to his paper, and he got a C because his paper sucked. Autism is the perfect excuse though. In fact, I run the risk of being lambasted for daring to suggest an autistic guy might have done poor work. Because, you see, autistic people never perform poorly except due to autism.

    When it comes time to rebutting a post on autism and vaccines, suddenly Jake doesn’t seem to have any problems with multi-tasking.

    It also bothered me because there’s no evidence he’s justified in his anecdote.

    You see, it’s true that autistic people as a group attain lower levels of education, struggle more in school and so forth. But Jake is supposed to be highly intelligent.

    When you compare autistics to non-autistics of the same intelligence, there is no evidence that autistics struggle more in school (academically, I mean.) There’s only one data point that I know of, unfortunately, but it basically suggests that autistics go to college at about the same rate as non-autistics of the same intelligence, and apparently end up graduating more frequently.

  51. #52 Prometheus
    September 23, 2009

    Off-topic, I know, but the problems with tetra-ethyl lead (TEL) were recognized before it was blended into gasoline. In the “early days” of TEL, it was added to the gasoline by the attendant (i.e. if you asked for “ethyl”, the attendant added TEL – most early gas stations had only one pump and tank).

    Very early, it was noted that the attendants at these stations quite often became very ill with lead poisoning because they were not sufficiently careful with it – getting it on their skin, clothes and breathing the vapors. This led to the TEL being added to the gasoline at either the refinery or by a local distributor, which decreased the concentration AND reduced the amount of people handling the concentrated TEL.

    RA Kehoe’s “paradigm” was that the exposure to TEL from “premixed” gasoline was below the toxicity threshold. The current “paradigm” – linear toxicity, no threshold (LTNT) – is probably equally flawed.

    TEL toxicity became a problem not for the gas station attendant, but to children (who are more sensitive) – and not from exposure to TEL-containing gasoline (although that did occasionally happen – but from exposure to elemental lead that came out of the tailpipes of hundreds of thousands of automobiles. That was probably inconceivable to most scientists back in 1928.

    Prometheus

  52. #53 SLC
    September 23, 2009

    I wonder if he thinks the late W.D. Hamilton, arguably the greatest evolutionary biologist since Charles Darwin, was an “anti-vaxer,” for saying he was 95% certain the polio vaccine in Africa caused AIDS.

    I have a flash for Mr. Jake. Hamilton would not be the first eminent scientist to go off the rails and propound a preposterous theory. The following three examples exemplify this assertion on my part; all of the individuals named have scientific credentials at least equal to Hamiltons’.

    1. Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, went to hi grave proclaiming loudly and at great length that vitamin C could cure cancer. Not a jot or a tittle of evidence supports such a claim

    2. J. Allen Hynek, a former president of the American Astronomical Society and professor of Astronomy at Northwestern, went to his grave proclaiming that alien visitations and abductions had taken place. Not a jot or a tittle of credible evidence supports such a claim

    3. Brian Josephson, a Nobel Prize winner in physics for discovery of the Josephson Effect, has proclaimed that cold fusion, ESP, and PK are real phenomena, in the absence of any credible evidence.

  53. #54 Uncle Glenny
    September 23, 2009

    Igor,

    this article does a fairly good job detailing the the leaded gas disaster.
    http://www.radford.edu/wkovarik/ethylwar/IJOEH.pdf

    Great article and cautionary tale!

  54. #55 Sid Offit
    September 23, 2009

    TEL toxicity became a problem not for the gas station attendant, but to children (who are more sensitive) – and not from exposure to TEL-containing gasoline (although that did occasionally happen – but from exposure to elemental lead that came out of the tailpipes of hundreds of thousands of automobiles. That was probably inconceivable to most scientists back in 1928.

    ——————————–
    Oh I think they had an idea. In 1925 Yale’s Yandell Henderson thought that lead combustion in the engines of automobiles would cause lead to fall from the air into every major city in the country

    “Conditions would grow worse so gradually and development of lead poisoning will come on…insidiously… before the government and the public awakens to the situation”

    And it seems the Kehoe paradigm actually refers to a safe until proven unsafe regulatory model

    http://books.google.com/books?id=H5FcX0zkrmAC&pg=PA16&dq=lead+kehoe#v=onepage&q=lead%20kehoe&f=false

    P16,17

    PS I can’t believe we’re still debating this

  55. #56 Dedj
    September 23, 2009

    “He basically said he can’t do paper citations because of multi-tasking (adding the citation and then going back to the paper) and he ends up with too few citations, and that’s why he gets a C.

    Personally, I suspect he was too lazy to add enough citations to his paper, and he got a C because his paper sucked. Autism is the perfect excuse though.”

    I would say that many people fall down on citations. Most universities I know of offer help and advice on how to cite and structure assignments.

    A lack of sufficient cites would have hurt his mark for sure, but nowhere near enough to bump it down more than a few grades. Possibly from B- to C, which I am lead to understand is a less respected grade in the US than it is in the UK.

    It simply doesn’t make sense that he ends up with too few citations. If he’s read the material, he should have noted the cites and have the cites available. He should add a citation proof-read phase as likely advised by his lecturers as basic technique. It only makes sense if he’s constructing his essays on-the-fly, which is generally considered poor technique.

  56. #57 Sid Offit
    September 23, 2009

    What does Jake Crosby have to do with tetra-ethyl lead?

  57. #58 Dedj
    September 23, 2009

    I know you didn’t initially bring it up, but what does tetra-ethyl lead got to do with a blog article about Jake Crosby?

    Being snarky will get you nowhere.

  58. #59 Alan Kellogg
    September 23, 2009

    Deep @49 and Dedj @55,

    You don’t know a damn thing about autism, do you?

    Jake Crosby misunderstood why he failed to properly cite sources in his work, that does not mean he does not have a disability. I have Aspergers. I space things. I come across neat stuff, and I forget to note where I found it, or even my source. I forget where I put things, and this affects my life. I suspect Mr. Crosby goes through much the same thing.

    The thing is, we don’t process information the way you do. A lot of it is in the background, and we tend to make connections you would never think of. Crosby’s adoption of a vaccine connection is one sign of this, for our connections are only as valid as the data we have available.

    We can also be incredibly stubborn, and you don’t get anywhere with us by making flat out assertions, appealing to authority, ignoring whatever evidence we provide, and in general acting aggressive. Demonstration and persuasion using reliable evidence works best.

    In short my main point is, Autism of any type affects how a person functions, and limits how he can effectively function. Thus it is disabling, for it means there are things we are really not equipped to handle.

    That Jake Crosby is wrong about vaccines and autism, and that he is wrong about an inability to multitask, has nothing to do with his Autism affecting his ability to function.

    BTW, the studies I’ve heard about pretty much all agree that everybody is rather crappy when it comes to multitasking.

  59. #60 Dedj
    September 24, 2009

    I’m an officially diagnosed autistic person, who worked in an autism service on a regular basis since this time last year, I’ve had two clinical placements dealing with people with autism on a professional basis – one included autistic people with dual diagnoses and one which involved providing specialist learning disability services for a NHS trust – , I have regular contact with 3 seperate autism charities and have supported autisitc adults in vocational settings, as well as attended and participated in events by and for autistic people.

    Thats not including regular social contact with people with autism, not including having several diagnosed relations, and having several relatives who exhibit archetypal autistic features.

    I’m also perplexed as to what you think I actually wrote, as your response doesn’t actually address what me or the other poster said, I don’t believe either of us denied the problems you mentioned. Also your desciption isn’t that different from the average person. Except it gets called ‘intuition’ ‘common sense’ ‘synthesis’.

    If Jake has these troubles, then it’s his responsiblity to identify them and work around them. Blaming his autism appears to be a great get out for actually doing something about it like the rest of us autistic people at Uni have to do to get by.

    Although my grades are not the best (not suprising as my area of study requires a lot of abstract thinking and marked verbal presentations as well as relying on interpersonal skills with clients) I’ve had the same problems as Jake. The difference is that I didn’t whine and moan even when the disablism (and sometimes offensive language) was right in my face.

  60. #61 Mystyk
    September 24, 2009

    I’m waiting for the accusation that SMG was in the pocket of the evil “Russian-bride advertisement cabal” until some maverick whistle-blower saved the day.

  61. #62 marty
    September 24, 2009

    Look at the “Gonzalez” cancer procedure, which included, in addition to two coffee enemas a day

    I like my coffee, but not that much

  62. #63 DLC
    September 24, 2009

    Science Blogs has been taken over by Blizzard Entertainment, it seems. At least, according to the side panel ad I’m seeing.
    Of course, I play World of Warcraft, so perhaps they custom-fit an ad for me.

    I’d also like to mention that Jake, you should really go read the reports for yourself. Most of them are readily available at the public library, or online through resources like pubMED or PLOS-Online. Go look. The authors are usually required to cite potential conflicts of interest beforehand, and they usually do so, unlike Dr. Wakefield.

  63. #64 Jason
    September 24, 2009

    Whether or not Thimerosal directly or indirectly causes autism, aspergers syndrome, or whatever, the important thing is that the rest of the children that do not get these ailments are protected by disease.

    Although there have been numerous worthless epidemiological(population) studies with mixed results, there has been no double-blind safety studies of the safety of the substance (like what the FDA would require to bring a new prescription medication to the market). So without evidence that it is unsafe, how could someone say it is unsafe if there is not a single experiment saying so. Without such evidence it can be assumed that children with autism got that medical condition through some other means and with that assumption, preserving vaccines dispensed with this preservative is very cost effective and these savings are passed on to the patients. Everybody wins!

  64. #65 Scott
    September 24, 2009

    the important thing is that the rest of the children that do not get these ailments are protected by disease.

    Utter BS. Getting “protected” by getting the disease is very much like making sure your hard drive won’t fail by smashing it with a hammer.

    there has been no double-blind safety studies of the safety of the substance (like what the FDA would require to bring a new prescription medication to the market).

    False. New vaccines (including the ones with thimerosal) are subject to the same scrutiny as other medications. So you’re basically trying to claim that the ingredients have to be checked individually instead of simply confirming that the combination into the vaccine is safe. Beyond moronic.

  65. #66 Joseph
    September 24, 2009

    Blaming his autism appears to be a great get out for actually doing something about it like the rest of us autistic people at Uni have to do to get by.

    That’s still bothering me. If Jake blames autism for something trivial such as having too few citations in term papers, what doesn’t he blame autism for?

    This is the message Jake is sending to autistics: If you screw up, no worries, just blame autism.

    Of course, there’s a much more troubling social trend. People accused of crimes are using autism as a defense, as if there were any real evidence of an association between autism and criminal behavior.

    None of this nonsense helps autistic people.

  66. #67 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 24, 2009

    Although there have been numerous worthless epidemiological(population) studies with mixed results

    Jason, what’s your basis for the assertion that these studies are “worthless”? You provide no rationale for why we should regard these studies as worthless, or regard the results as “mixed”.

    Without this argument from assertion, your larger argument by sarcasm does not hold together well, because you are reversing the burden of proof. You think you are being bitingly satirical when you write “Without such evidence it can be assumed that children with autism got that medical condition through some other means” but in fact you are being correct: if epidemiological studies properly controlled for confounders do not show a correlation between Factor A and Factor B that they would show if Factor A “directly or indirectly causes” Factor B, it would be both intellectually dishonest and a criminal waste of resources to keep pursuing that failed hypothesis!

    Should we start investigating the hypothesis that lollipops “directly or indirectly cause[] autism, aspergers syndrome, or whatever”? Should we start designing experiments to investigate why children who lick lollipops have more ASDs, when we have no reason to believe that children who lick lollipops do in fact have more ASDs? If epidemiological studies show that children who lick lollipops don’t have more ASDs, and reputable scientists decline to conduct experiments all based on the counter-factual proposition that children who lick lollipops have more ASDs, is the more logical explanation a big conspiracy by Big Candy or common sense on the part of those who are looking for causes in more reasonable places?

  67. #68 Pierce R. Butler
    September 24, 2009

    Seed Magazine published an article in March 2005 …
    This article appeared in the May 2004 issue of Seed…

    Oh Em Gee.

    Your case is proven, AoA-philes! Orac’s blatant corruption and flaming pharma-funded debauchery have caught up with him at last, rendering him incapable of keeping untangled the most elementary strands of his sinister web.

    You may, and probably will, disregard the rest of this post, and of Orac’s blogging, and all of Seed & SciBlogs for that matter. It’s only logical, and besides – think of the children!

  68. #69 Rjaye
    September 24, 2009

    Just wanted to add my two cents…

    ASDs do affect people in their daily lives, but I agree with Dedj that there are ways to deal with the disabilities of autism spectrum disorders. Sometimes, all we can do is minimize the impact our disability has on our lives.

    Every person has issues and shortcomings. Being diagnosed with Asperger’s as an adult (autistic as a child), I sometimes blame my problems on my autism when in fact I’m dealing with issues everyone has to deal with. I get A’s in my courses because that’s my strong suit. I also work damn hard. How many “normal” people have the exact same issues as Jake Crosby (not very good at multitasking, writing, math, etc.), and don’t have a disorder?

    Also, Jake is an adolescent in college. With his problems multitasking, he kind of fits in.

    Allan Kellogg is right that autism can cause issues. I would add that those issues are not the same for every autistic person, or that our inner resources are equally diminished because of our disability. I have to give props to Alan for pointing out that autistics can be stubborn, but Jake is being stubborn in the face of evidence he’s provided, so Jake’s issue is not that he doesn’t have the evidence to form an opinion.

    Jake’s problem is that he blames EVERYTHING on his diagnosis, when, really, he is like most other college kids. Jake’s problem is perspective and a lack of critical thinking. Is this developmental? I don’t know, because I know a lot of people who can’t parse evidence, and it’s not because of autism.

    As far as I’m concerned, Jake is a kid who’s being manipulated by AoA and his parents. As such, he has no authority to speak about the issue. Add his wacky logic (whoever said autistics were logical?), and there’s not a lot to take seriously. I just shake my head.

  69. #70 T. Bruce McNeely
    September 24, 2009

    Although there have been numerous worthless (to me, because they contradict my beliefs) epidemiological(population) studies with mixed (meaning they contradict my beliefs) results,

    Fixed that for you, Jason.

  70. #71 Joseph
    September 24, 2009

    Add his wacky logic (whoever said autistics were logical?),

    Harrison et al. (2008) and De Martino et al. (2008) (same research team.) Seriously, considering Jake is supposed to be intelligent, his lack of rationality and conspiracy mongering apparently make him unrepresentative.

    Then again, no autistic person can probably be said to be representative in all respects.

    Autistic females are sometimes told they are not representative, simply for being female.

  71. #72 deep
    September 24, 2009

    @Alan
    I did not say that he did not have a disability. I find it odd that you accused me and Dedj for making assertions when you accuse the both of us of not knowing a damn thing about autism (I’m an aspie myself, and I believe that Dedj mentioned that he had autism above).

    What I have a problem with is the way he seems to use it for an excuse for whatever. I just recently graduated, and I know that a campus is a rough place to live for some autistic people, my grades weren’t the greatest, and as a science major I know that citations are a pain in the ass. What I didn’t do was blame my disability every time I messed up on something.

    I also still have a problem with the absolute vehemence he uses when talking about the neurodiversity folk. I think it’s unfair to claim they are holding back research and preventing an autism cure.

  72. #73 Tsu Dho Nimh
    September 24, 2009

    kicking back at home in their underwear or sweats, churning out verbiage that is pleasing to our big pharma paymasters and wallowing in the filthy pharma lucre

    Where do I sign up. I’ve got the kicking back in my jammies and churning out verbiage part perfected.

    When does the lucre happen?

  73. #74 Tsu Dho Nimh
    September 24, 2009

    Jake says: It is unclear if Bly was actually doing real research, or just the equivalent to entering a high school science fair.

    He’s apparently never seen the Intel Science Fair. Some of the high school students walked out with patents and licensing deals.

  74. #75 Alan Kellogg
    September 24, 2009

    Dedj and Deep,

    Dedj said,

    It simply doesn’t make sense that he ends up with too few citations. If he’s read the material, he should have noted the cites and have the cites available. He should add a citation proof-read phase as likely advised by his lecturers as basic technique. It only makes sense if he’s constructing his essays on-the-fly, which is generally considered poor technique.

    All I can go by is what you say, not what you meant. Fine, you know autism. But going by what you said how was I to conclude that? For you never said flat out you know autism, or that Jake’s behavior was not what you’ve seen in other autistics. People differ, I should expect Autistics to differ as well. I have trouble remembering to cite people I really need to cite. That Jake may have the same problem is not that hard for me to accept.

    My problem is that while I have been diagnosed with Aspergers, it was by a clinical psychologist, and my shrink won’t even consider the possibility. Thanks to how Medi-Cal (Medicaid in California) handles reimbursement, it is very hard for me to get another psychiatrist.

    Neither of you provided the full story, you assumed the reader would get what you meant. I don’t know your thought processes, I don’t know what you know. You want me to know what you mean, you need to spell it out.

  75. #76 deep
    September 25, 2009

    @ Alan
    I apologize if I wasn’t clear I’m not exactly the most concise writer.

    I think that his problem with citations could have been influenced by autism. It’s just the way that he flats out says that autism is the reason he did poorly. I can tell that some things I do are a result of having asperger’s, but with something like citations (which were hard for me, but were also hard for a majority of other people in my science writing classes) how can he say with such assurance that it’s his autism? I’ve wondered that about a few things myself, is it just hard? am I just lazy? is it because I have problems conceptualizing things that other people don’t?

    I know having asperger’s is not a walk in the park and that what I’ve went through might have been easier than what he has, but there is something about his attitude about it that is worrisome. I guess I might feel worse about having asperger’s if I thought that if I hadn’t gotten a vaccine I would be more normal and everything would come easier to me. I’m having a hard time explaining what it is in his blog that bothers me so much. It’s like two people who are missing a leg. Both have a disability and some things are harder if not impossible for them to do. One spends his time blaming his condition and thinks of himself as being imperfect, as not being whole. It’s kind of self-destructive. I could be wrong of course, but it’s just what reading through his stuff makes me think.

  76. #77 Dedj
    September 25, 2009

    “Neither of you provided the full story, you assumed the reader would get what you meant.”

    I intended to indicate that Jake should add a citation check phase to his essay writing technique. I also intended to imply that this is considered basic advice, quite possibly during academic skills workshops offered in freshers week and likely to have been noted duting his formative essay.

    A quick double check of my post indicates that (barring the elaboration about when he was likely given the advice) this is what I said.

    The ‘full story’ as you (and only you) define it only became necessary after you came in spewing accusations of ignorance and lack of understanding.

    I fail to see how the average reader could have read my comments as anything other than what I intended, which we have already established is what I actually wrote.

    Jake has problems, quite a few people get them, the basic advice is to do something about it.

    It is difficult to note down cites as you read the material – although there are plenty of software and paperware choices to help you with this – but if you recognise that you have trouble with something then it’s your responsibility to find a workaround. Jake may also have access to guidlines and help from the Academic Skills department, and I believe he was offered help by the Disability Services which he turned down.

    Blaming your disability (rightly or wrongly) for an impairment is one thing, blaming it for (apparently) doing nothing about it is another.

  77. #78 Pablo
    September 25, 2009

    What I like to say about pregnancy hormones: they are an explanation for being a bitch, not an excuse.

  78. #79 Marion Delgado
    March 22, 2010

    Chris Mooney referenced this post. Apparently he’s a shill for big pharma, too.

    So, which of you 2 gets the bigger payoff?
    ;)

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