Respectful Insolence

A disturbing post on an anti-vaccine blog

I’m on my way to The Amaz!ng Meeting today; so I’m not sure I have time for the usual bit of Orac-ian logorrheic blogging that I somehow manage to churn out almost every day. In fact, I had thought of just running another rerun so that I don’t have to worry about it. But worry I did, at least a little bit, particularly after I saw something that really worried me a bit, and I’m not kidding.

Remember Kent Heckenlively? He’s a regular blogger at the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism whom I’ve taken to task from time to time for subjecting of his autistic daughter to what I consider to be rank quackery, for example, stem cell quackery in Costa Rica in which dubious doctors injected what they claim to be stem cells into the cerebrospinal fluid via lumbar puncture. (That particular route of injection is formally called “intrathecal.”) When I first heard about this, I was totally appalled, unable to understand how a parent could keep subjecting a child to invasive medical procedures with no value at all. Not just that, I couldn’t understand how Heckenlively could borrow $15,000 from his daughter’s grandparents in order to travel to Costa Rica to let strange doctors stick large needles into her spine to inject who knows what into the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes her brain and spinal cord. While I can almost understand the desperation, even then, knowing what I know, I can’t imagine paying so much for such a useless intervention that might even be harmful.

Yesterday, I got a brief insight into Kent’s desperation, thanks to a post that can only be described as scary, a post entitled When I Can Do Nothing:

What I can say is that on some level, my prayers to God for an understanding of the autism epidemic have been answered. I now know why they fear us so much. I can’t prove it, and as a lawyer I understand that’s the real show. But I know.

And yet, as thankful as I am for an understanding of what has happened to my child and so many others, my heart is heavy. The Dark Forces which in the past have destroyed the careers of those who have found clues to the afflictions of our children and other disease communities are once again on the move. You may very well read about their actions this week. And I can’t do anything to stop them.

Notice how Heckenlively refers to “Dark Forces.” Not “dark forces,” but “Dark Forces,” capitalized, as though it’s name or these Forces are so malevolent that they need to be capitalized, much as the Force in Star Wars was so important and powerful that it needed to be capitalized as a formal name. Worse, the imagery is downright paranoid. These Dark Forces, according to Heckenlively, are out to destroy the activists and “scientists” who have bought into the idea that vaccines cause autism, rather than the real situation, which is that they are trying to guard public health against the return of vaccine-preventable diseases that will occur if vaccination rates fall due to the sort of propaganda that AoA promotes.

Heckenlively then diverts to a discussion of Stephen King’s The Stand. It was at least 25 years ago when I read The Stand; so my memory of its plot isn’t that clear, although one chapter in the book embedded itself into my mind in such a way that I have never forgotten it and likely never will forget it. That’s the chapter where two of the protaganists escape Manhattan, where virtually everyone (except the two) was dead due to epidemic caused by the virus that wiped out most people and led to the collapse of civilization. Their escape route was the Lincoln Tunnel, which was chock full of cars and corpses. King used the concept of having to brave a dark tunnel full of corpses to truly frightful effect. To Heckenlively, what was important to the point he apparently wanted to make in his post was that The Stand was an epic story of good versus evil in a post-apocalyptic world. The villain is a man named Randall Flagg, who in the story is clearly meant to represent more than just a man but rather a powerful and evil force, perhaps even Satan himself. Arrayed against Flagg are five who will make their “stand” against Flagg by following the instructions of a prophet-like figure and delivering themselves right into their enemies’ hands:

Instead of a great battle between the two sides, Mother Abigail has a vision that five members of the Boulder community must make their way to Las Vegas where they will make their “Stand” against Randall Flagg. They will deliver themselves into the hands of the enemy.

Flagg is clearly a demonic force, but he doesn’t have quite the hold over people he thinks he does. His followers keep deserting him, especially in light of the five who have chosen to make their “Stand” against him. They carry no weapons. It’s simply the power of the faith they bring to that unholy place which defeats Flagg. Evil falls apart in the face of such humble courage.

I often find myself pondering such questions of faith. What is it I’m meant to do? I want to rush the barricades, but to what effect?

Those who have read The Stand will recall that the final confrontation involves the heroes sacrificing themselves, as well as the destruction of Las Vegas in a nuclear conflagration (which seems a bit ironic and slightly creepy, given that later today I will be in Las Vegas for TAM). In other words, in imagining himself a hero in The Stand, Heckenlively seems to be visualizing himself as a martyr delivering himself up to his foes and going out in a blaze of glory in order to destroy Satan.

Not satisfied with that, Heckenlively next finds a Bible passage that brings him comfort:

O’Lord, you God of vengeance, you God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O judge of the earth; give to the proud what they deserve! O’ Lord, how long shall the wicked exult?

They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O’Lord, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan, and they say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.

Understand, O dullest of the people; fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, he who teaches knowledge to humankind, does he not chastise? The Lord knows our thoughts, that they are but an empty breath.

Happy are those whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, giving them respite from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, “My foot is slipping,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who contrive mischief by statute? They band together against the righteous, and condemn the innocent to death.

But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord God will wipe them out.

Basically, Psalm 94 is a passage in which the Lord is being begged to bring his vengeance down upon the wicked. It’s hard not to interpret Heckenlively’s quoting that psalm as anything more than hoping that those whom he sees as wicked similarly suffer God’s vengeance. In fact, he makes it explicit:

But if you’re in good with the Lord, bitching with Him, or haven’t put in a call lately I think this might be the perfect time to send up a flare. You might even think about reciting psalm 94.

God knows there are some wicked people out there trying to keep our children from getting better. If you’re listening God, and it meets with Your approval, this week would be an excellent time to deal with them.

I have a hard time characterizing Kent’s post as anything other than disturbing, if not downright scary. Think about it this way. When someone starts to view his opponents as “wicked people” deserving to be wiped out by God (or, as other translations of this particular psalm put it, to be “destroyed for their wickedness”), it’s just a short hop to thinking that perhaps believers should take matters into their own hands and start smiting the evildoers themselves, thinking it doing the Lord’s work. In any case, it’s very clear that Heckenlively is, at the very least, praying to God to “deal with” those whom he considers to be “wicked people out there trying to keep our children from getting better.” In the context of the psalm, “dealing with” these wicked people clearly means to destroy them.

Heckenlively and I are clearly on different sides of the autism-vaccine issue. Even so, I have never wished ill upon him. Hell, I’ve never wished ill upon even J. B. Handley, even though he has frequently attacked me. Well, maybe just a little bit of ill, such as embarrassment for his ridiculous statements and his promotion of anti-vaccine quackery and that his efforts to harm public health fail. Certainly I have never wished that God Almighty destroy him or Heckenlively for his wickedness or publicly wished ill upon him. Yet here we have Kent Heckenlively praying to God publicly to destroy his enemies. Presumably, that would include me, plus a number of people who are my friends, acquaintances, and fellow travelers in promoting vaccination and refuting anti-vaccine pseudoscience.

I don’t know what is going on in Heckenlively’s life right now that has brought him to this. The pain in his writing is palpable; he really does sound like a man on the edge, a man who is ready to break. I can only hope he finds a way to deal with whatever is going on in his life right now and return to a state of normalcy. We might be opponents when it comes to the issue of vaccines and autism, but, unlike Kent, I don’t want God–or anyone else–to destroy anyone over this.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanović
    July 13, 2011

    In a book about the Middle Ages, I once read…

    “The people believed in God, but even more in the devil.”

    Quite obviously, that’s a good description of Kent Heckenlively.

  2. #2 Sharon
    July 13, 2011

    That is certainly troubling. The idea that it might be hyperbole for effect fades as one considers the course of action he has taken up to this point concerning his child. Dappled with paranoid delusions and talk of self annihilation in the name of conquering some grand conspiracy, one can’t help think a mental health assessment may be in order.

  3. #3 reasonablehank
    July 13, 2011

    Unfortunately, the Argumentum ad marshamcclellandum proffered here by Heckenlively is all too common in the anti-vaccine cult. He is reiterating the desires of many. I hope he gets some real help.

    Here is Meryl Dorey from 2008:

    “There will come a time – I pray to God that it will happen in my lifetime – when those who have pushed vaccines upon innocent, helpless babies – doctors, pharmaceutical companies, government officials – will be proven to have lied and cheated these instruments of death into our children’s bloodstream. When that occurs, the outcry will be heard around the world and there will not be enough hiding places on the globe for these murderers to hide or enough money to pay for compensation. Of course, it will be too late for the babies, like this poor child, to be saved. But we will be able to take satisfaction from the fact that never again will anyone have to be pushed to poison their child because for once and for all, it will be known as poison and we will all wonder how it was we fell for the vaccine lie for as long as we did.” – Meryl Dorey, President, Australian Vaccination Network, AVN Yahoo group, 17 Dec 2008, message #36449

  4. #4 Krebiozen
    July 13, 2011

    Heckenlively has put his daughter through so much on the basis of his beliefs, he has to hold on to them, whatever the evidence that contradicts them. I would guess that the more evidence he is presented with that he is wrong, the more he is convinced that Dark Powers are behind it. Mountains of evidence that contradicts what he knows beyond any doubt to be true merely proves there is a massive evil conspiracy.

    What is the alternative for Heckenlively? To accept that his delusional beliefs have led him to hurt his daughter? That would be a bitter pill to swallow for any parent.

  5. #5 Alex
    July 13, 2011

    “God knows there are some wicked people out there trying to keep our children from getting better. If you’re listening God, and it meets with Your approval, this week would be an excellent time to deal with them.”

    What would be ironic, is if God heard him and decided what the hell, and struck down all CAM practitioners and anti-vaccine loons.

    I’m not condoning it, I’m just saying it would be ironic.

  6. #6 sophia8
    July 13, 2011

    God knows there are some wicked people out there trying to keep our children from getting better. If you’re listening God, and it meets with Your approval, this week would be an excellent time to deal with them.

    Why this week? And does it tie in with the reference to Los Angles in any way?
    I agree, it sounds like the cry of a terribly troubled mind.

  7. #7 DaveL
    July 13, 2011

    Why this week? And does it tie in with the reference to Los Angles in any way? I agree, it sounds like the cry of a terribly troubled mind.

    When I see this:

    The Dark Forces which in the past have destroyed the careers of those who have found clues to the afflictions of our children and other disease communities are once again on the move. You may very well read about their actions this week. And I can’t do anything to stop them.

    It makes me think that the authorities must be closing in on him for some reason. Which, given the incredible leeway parents are given to subject their children to who-knows-what in the name of alternative medicine, gives me pause. What on earth did he do?

  8. #8 daedalus2u
    July 13, 2011

    TAM9 is this week in Las Vegas.

    There is a pro-vaccine event where vaccines will be given away for free.

    There will be a workshop where some of the most vocal and outspoken members of the anti-anti-vaccine community will be present.

    Is this a thinly veiled threat?

    Is this a call for someone to use second amendment remedies? A call for someone to be a suicide bomber?

    I think it would be worth going over the TAM9 attendance list. Casinos have good security, and if forewarned and they knew who to watch, they could do a lot to keep everyone safe. I think this is serious enough that it is worth bringing security professionals into this. Security professionals can only help when they have information that might be important. They would much rather have a hundred serious false alarms than a single missed real alarm.

  9. #9 Greg Fish
    July 13, 2011

    “… he really does sound like a man on the edge, a man who is ready to break.”

    Well, he did manage to drive himself there and after all the thousands of dollars wasted to no real effect and with only his child’s suffering from invasive quackery to show for his efforts, his mind was bound to go to a dark place. Let’s just hope his actions didn’t catch up to his fevered mind.

  10. #10 Jakaranda
    July 13, 2011

    Lol @JayK

    Reminds me of that crazy theory that if there was actually a proper treatment for autism there wouldn’t be quite so many anti-vaxers!

    I’m glad I don’t have an autistic child.

  11. #11 Todd W.
    July 13, 2011

    That was a rather chilling read. It does fit, though, with how AoA and that group have drifted more and more into religious zealotry. I seriously hope that Heckenlively gets help for whatever is going on in his life that has driven him to this point.

    Having had my own flirtations with religious fervor years and years ago, I can understand that he is at a point where it would be very, very easy to tip over the brink and do something that he would regret later. I hope he is able to step back from the edge.

  12. #12 Jakaranda
    July 13, 2011

    @brian, no Madders didn’t pull out, he was told to go wave his plonker elsewhere by about a zillion Brits.

  13. #13 Jennifer S.
    July 13, 2011

    Stay safe. These people are True Believers.

  14. #14 J
    July 13, 2011

    I am really fearful for his daughter. Are social services involved with her care? xx

  15. #15 Allie
    July 13, 2011

    “What is the alternative for Heckenlively? To accept that his delusional beliefs have led him to hurt his daughter? That would be a bitter pill to swallow for any parent.”

    This is exactly the same argument that the anti-vaccine people use against those who vaccinate their children (and those who promote vaccination, like the government and the medical establishment). That vaccinators cling fervently to their belief because accepting any inkling that their actions have hurt tens of thousands of children is beyond bitter. (See the upthread quote from the Australian anti-vax person.)

    This is why no communication is possible. Each side believes the other to be psychologically immovable because the alternative — to accept that you did something to hurt your children — is abhorrent.

  16. #16 kelian
    July 13, 2011

    I have cancer that recently went into remission. In some ways, I have it easy. I’m an adult, not a child, so I have the advantage of maturity during difficult procedures. I don’t have to watch a family member suffer; it’s been very difficult just seeing them go through this process with me. And my views on the medical establishment, my education, and a doctor who has been wonderful about explaining the details of test results have all made this process less mysterious and overwhelming.

    My heart breaks for this man, who’s had to watch his child against a mysterious illness and had to feel responsible for chasing everything he could. I’m sorry the world seems so dangerous to him, but who knows how much sleep he’s gotten and how he feels. I hope very much that the altmed practitioners have not done more harm, even if they have not helped and have done what I know is an unpleasant treatment; I hope that he is able to get through this period without feeling forced closer to anything, and that this desperation recedes once he’s recovered a little himself.

    I’d pray for the safety of others, but the same skepticism that’s armored me against the call of woo has also armored me against religion, so… sorry, Orac. We’re both on our own with the odds we’ve got. I’m glad you’re at least aware of that post.

  17. #17 Dangerous Bacon
    July 13, 2011

    Jakaranda, that’s one toke over the line.

  18. #18 Calli Arcale
    July 13, 2011

    He’s gone off the deep end. How very sad, for both him and his daughter. He keeps trying and failing to heal her; he is only fortunate he hasn’t caused her serious harm yet. Honestly, he strikes me as little different than the people who, a century or more ago, believed that the correct remedy for this sort of a child was beatings and exorcisms, repeated until the stubborn demon that has possessed the child finally leaves. In fact, with his religious rantings here, I wonder how far off that could be for him. There *are*, after all, still people who believe that autism is a symptom of demonic possession.

    I will hug my daughters when I pick them up from summer school this afternoon.

  19. #19 Beamup
    July 13, 2011

    Exhibit #99,673 demonstrating just how thoroughly the antivax movement has turned itself into a cult.

  20. #20 JayK
    July 13, 2011

    This rapidly brought to mind the recent changes in Homeland Security. Due to budget reductions, the divisions in charge of monitoring domestic terrorism have been cut to nearly nothing. They are barely able to keep the lights on, and where there used to be hundreds of agents reviewing reports and tracking concerns, there is now one or two guys doing nothing. Too much work, too much chaos and not enough brainpower to attempt to understand it all and break it down in reports and theories for American leaders.

    And all because the right wing got upset that domestic terrorism was a focus in the last year of Bush’s Presidency.

    Watching groups like Al-Qaeda or any of the other jihadists and trying to understand the psychology of their movement is all the rage. I feel like the unusual black sheep, tracking the movement of a few radical student groups and frustrated semi-racial movements, those studying domestic terrorism are alone, unfunded and unable to cope with the sheer amount going on right now.

  21. #21 Mu
    July 13, 2011

    The only good part is that people who write such nuclear level stupidity rarely have the capability to put together an actual nuclear bomb. As such I think TAM and Vegas will be safe this weekend.

  22. #22 Dr. Witzsnyderbonne
    July 13, 2011

    Here’s the problem I see for us. Thimerosal is one of the most toxic substances known to man. It was added to vaccines at levels that exceed all federal safety standards. Why couldn’t we figure this out? It’s injected into newborns and infants for no real good reason (Hepatitis B at birth, Why?). This scenario alone has to be driving these parents to the edge. How long can we risk our reputations as scientists and medical professionals defending this practice? Why didn’t we admit we made a mistake and help these families out 15 years ago? We cannot put an end to this with statistical manipulaion. That’s all we got!

  23. #23 Denice Walter
    July 13, 2011

    “Seeing your opposition as less than human” is often depicted as inhibiting empathy and facilitating violence: this adds a supernatural element to the mix.

    Because I wade in the polluted waters of web invective so frequently when I commented on KH’s rhetoric yesterday it seemed par for the course. “Demonisation” in this case is literal as well as figurative.

    Our web woo-meisters have set the bar rather high in depicting vaccination advocates as evil pharma shills, governmental enforcers, or scientists corrupted by corporate lucre but Kent manages to vault right over. It’s particularly chilling to me, as an atheist: when people start re-imagining the world in black-and-white, good-vs-evil terms, I will certainly not be counted amongst the blest.

    And why is that? I am interested in research because it expands our understanding of “how stuff works” ( “the causation of things” as Virgil wrote) with the ultimate goal of “improving people’s lives” across the board: in medicine, education, and technology. “Dark Forces” at work I’m sure.

    I often encounter “us vs them”, self-aggrandising rhetoric at the various “hives of scum and quackery” ( or if you will, “dens of thieves”) I frequent where it is a used manipulatively as advertising copy: all in the name of sales. Remember these “hives” cross-pollinate with emotional themes as well as mis-information.

    Kent sees himself as a lone voice in the wilderness crying out for justice and vengence. I wonder where he got the interesting idea that his child was damaged by external forces? When you see yourself as “blameless” it’s easy to go to the next level and see your words or actions as justified. Interestingly enough, while Kent himself was inveigled into this mode of thinking and feeling by anti-vax and alt med proselytisers, he also continues the mis-education campaign and ups the ante with his religious imaginings and flourishes. It probably feels good to be counted as being amongst the righteous, great perks I hear.

    Because pseudo-science is not guided by research grounded in mathematics but by opinion, tradition, and emotional issues, we can’t expect cold, unfeeling reason to rear its intelligent head.

  24. #24 Beamup
    July 13, 2011

    Thimerosal is one of the most toxic substances known to man.

    Citation needed.

    It was added to vaccines at levels that exceed all federal safety standards.

    Citation needed.

    It’s injected into newborns and infants for no real good reason

    Reducing the cost of an intervention which saves lives, prevents permanent disability, AND avoids substantial suffering? What exactly would constitute a “real good reason” if that doesn’t?

    (Hepatitis B at birth, Why?)

    Because we don’t like chronic diseases causing liver damage?

    Why didn’t we admit we made a mistake and help these families out 15 years ago?

    Please provide the evidence that it was a mistake.

    We cannot put an end to this with statistical manipulaion. That’s all we got!

    The fact that autism incidence hasn’t plummeted despite the removal of all but trace amounts from almost all vaccines is not “statistical manipulation.” It’s as close to conclusive proof as it’s possible to get that there was never any connection.

  25. #25 Todd W.
    July 13, 2011

    @Beamup

    It was added to vaccines at levels that exceed all federal safety standards.

    Citation needed.

    I recently looked at the EPA’s exposure guidelines for methylmercury (they don’t have anything for thimerosal’s ethylmercury) and found that a person can be exposed to about .1mcg/kg/day with no ill effects. For a child with an average birth weight of 3.2kg, that amounts to about .32mcg/day, or 116.8mcg/year (more if the child, like most, actually grows and gains weight). The versions of the flu vaccine (which is given only once per year) that contain thimerosal have about 25mcg ethylmercury, at most, which is well below the EPA threshold. And remember, methylmercury takes months to eliminate from the body, while ethylmercury is eliminated in days to a week or two.

  26. #26 JohnV
    July 13, 2011

    “Thimerosal is one of the most toxic substances known to man.”

    False.

  27. #27 Composer99
    July 13, 2011

    Authoritarian personality + sunk cost fallacy + magical thinking + ongoing failure to achieve sociopolitical goals = posts like Heckenlively’s.

    Depressing and disturbing.

  28. #28 Krebiozen
    July 13, 2011

    @Todd W
    I think 0.1 mcg/kg/day is the EPA guideline for methylmercury which includes a considerable safety margin. The WHO guideline is 0.47 mcg/kg/day. As you mentioned, ethylmercury is considerably less toxic than methylmercury.

    Fun thimerosal fact: the LD50 for thimerosal in rats is 50 mg/kg, the same as it is for cholecalciferol or vitamin D3. So thimerosal is about as toxic as vitamin D3. Scary.

  29. #29 brian
    July 13, 2011

    The “one-on-one aide” for Heckenlively’s daughter was recently jailed for her involvement in a protest for animal rights. Heckenlively used her arrest as inspiration for a post at AoA in which he asserted: “We need to get militant, and I mean in a way that scares those in power. You know what I’m talking about.”

    Heckenlively apparently thinks that vaccine-phobic parents should emulate the members of a violent movement that attempts to intimidate or even injure researchers who do not accept the views of movement members.

  30. #30 Denice Walter
    July 13, 2011

    @ Todd W. ( # 10): While I’d love to see Kent get help, because of his unwise medical choices for his daughter ( described by Orac) and his religious fervor, I doubt he’d get reality-based standard care ( unless it was involuntary): he might seek a like-minded alt med or radical Christian counselor.

    @ brian : That doesn’t sound encouraging. Let’s hope it’s “all talk” while axe-grinding.

  31. #31 Todd W.
    July 13, 2011

    @Krebiozen

    I think 0.1 mcg/kg/day is the EPA guideline for methylmercury which includes a considerable safety margin. The WHO guideline is 0.47 mcg/kg/day. As you mentioned, ethylmercury is considerably less toxic than methylmercury.

    Yep, I know. The whole exceeding guidelines thing came up again the other day, so I decided to take a fresh look and do a bit o’ math. I’m oversimplifying a bit, but the illustration is apt, I think. And, you are right, the EPA generally puts the threshold lower than the actual NOAEL. I can’t recall off hand how much they typically lower the exposure limits to create a safety buffer.

    Interesting info on the LD50 in rats.

  32. #32 Todd W.
    July 13, 2011

    @Denice Walter

    Well, I did say “get help,” not “get emotionally reassuring but ultimately destructive echo chamber support.”

  33. #33 Antaeus Feldspar
    July 13, 2011

    How long can we risk our reputations as scientists and medical professionals defending this practice?

    If you’re at all concerned about “your” reputation, “Doctor,” you might start in your own backyard by getting your own facts straight. Seriously, all you’re doing is repeating lies you got from anti-vax propaganda sites; do you really think that calling yourself “Doctor” and claiming to represent “we” the medical establishment will fool anyone?

    Speaking of not fooling anyone, Jakaranda = pot-head morphing troll Jacob.

  34. #34 Agent Smith
    July 13, 2011

    Is this guy an “official” blogger for the site or is he just relegated to a section for ameutur bloggers like the huff po?

    Because this sounds downright psychotic- and normally the communication conscience cranks that run the ageofautism try to keep truly schizophrenic episodes to a minimum. Even they know this looks bad.

    ALSO: I’m lawyer. People that use the title “esq” are either 80 years old+ or have serious confidence problems. It is not an acceptable title or term these days.

    ALSO: Is this him?
    http://www.lawguru.com/answers/legal_directory/attorney_view/CA/contra_costa_county/san_ramon/kent_francis_heckenlively/163156

    Despite his huffing and buffing about “law review”, he graduated from what essentially is now an unaccredited, unlicensed law school…..

  35. #35 stripey_cat
    July 13, 2011

    That’s scary. It reminds me a little of my own brief flirtation with psychosis (depression and stress triggered), with added religious mania and violent acting out. At least I’m only a threat to myself. The really sad thing is that his condition would almost certainly improve with the care of a competent psychiatrist and a supportive home environment, if he were willing to admit he needs help.

  36. #36 Agent Smith
    July 13, 2011

    Is this guy an “official” blogger for the site or is he just relegated to a section for ameutur bloggers like the huff po?

    Because this sounds downright psychotic- and normally the communication conscience cranks that run the ageofautism try to keep truly schizophrenic episodes to a minimum. Even they know this looks bad.

    ALSO: I’m lawyer. People that use the title “esq” are either 80 years old+ or have serious confidence problems. It is not an acceptable title these days.

    ALSO: Is this him?
    http://www.lawguru.com/answers/legal_directory/attorney_view/CA/contra_costa_county/san_ramon/kent_francis_heckenlively/163156

    Despite his huffing and buffing about “law review”, he graduated from what essentially is now an unaccredited, unlicensed law school…..

  37. #37 Jen
    July 13, 2011

    I don’t know about Kent, but, Orac, why aren’t you discussing the new twin study that points to larger environmental influences?? OR Rupert/James Murdoch and the revolving doors between Big pharma and agencies advancing propaganda and vaccine policies?? As you well know, Murdochs’ have private equity investments in the drug companies and vaccine makers. The current hacking scandal is troubling to say the least and science credibility may be on the line.

  38. #38 JayK
    July 13, 2011

    Oh look, a Jen-troll here to push a new conspiracy theory. Too lazy to post a link, eh Jen? Do you know who else had investments in Big Pharma? Yeah, that’s right, Hitler’s wet nurse.

    Did you read the latest study on the effects of LSD on a gamer trying to match some homerun record on the game platform, because anti-vax credibility might be on the line.

    Next time try making sense and writing a concrete argument with citations so you actually get your useless point across.

  39. #39 DaveD
    July 13, 2011

    I looked at the comments on the original article, and the first one is this:

    Dear Readers:

    I belive the power of prayer has worked. The man who was going to do some harm has pulled back. We are safe for now.

    Kent.

    So I guess Kent isn’t heading for Las Vegas in a van full of fuel oil and fertilizer.

  40. #40 Todd W.
    July 13, 2011

    @DaveD

    Given what Mr. Heckenlively views as “doing harm,” I wonder if there wasn’t some threat against a pro-vaccine physician involved here.

  41. #41 Lawrence
    July 13, 2011

    Jen – so you’re trying to say that because there is a scandal involving the activities of some journalists that somehow that taints scientists in completely different areas that have nothing to do with newspapers or media?

    That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

  42. #42 Denice Walter
    July 13, 2011

    @ Jen : For the record, I truly can’t stand Murdoch or his media empire *however* he – and other investors- invest in pharamaceutical companies because they earn money and are often resistant to a bad economy like *other products* people need to use such as General Mills, Kraft, or Proctor & Gamble. Alt med purists might have a peek at their mutual funds to see what pharma companies they may actually own.

  43. #43 brian
    July 13, 2011

    @ 40

    Heckenlively wrote: “I believe the power of prayer has worked. The man who was going to do some harm has pulled back. We are safe for now.”

    I think jen understood that to mean that Rupert Murdoch (The Dark Lord who has “private equity investments in the drug companies and vaccine makers”) has withdrawn his offer to purchase British Sky Broadcasting. Thanks to the power of prayer we can all rest easier.

  44. #44 Scott Cunningham
    July 13, 2011

    Allie

    This is why no communication is possible. Each side believes the other to be psychologically immovable because the alternative — to accept that you did something to hurt your children — is abhorrent.

    Hate to be nit picky, but AOA’s habit of deleting our comments over there has something to do with it, too.

  45. #45 Marry Me, Mindy
    July 13, 2011

    The Dark Forces which in the past have destroyed the careers of those who have found clues to the afflictions of our children

    Can anyone help me out and tell me who, exactly, he is referring to in this sentence (the ones whose careers have been ruined, not those in the Dark Forces).

    I assume that he would include Wakefield in this mix, although one might question whether his career has really been destroyed. But true, he was struck off the register, so let’s grant that.

    And it leads me to my oft asked but never answered question, and perhaps Heckenlively can answer it: Suppose Wakefield was correct (he wasn’t, of course, but for the sake of argument) and that autism is caused by the MMR vaccine. Moreover, let us grant for the sake of argument that his daughter’s autism was caused by the MMR vaccine. How does that knowledge help in treating his daughter?

    Kent’s been wasting money stem cells. How, does anyone propose, does stem cell therapy cure/help autism caused by MMR? I don’t want to know how it is to treat autism in general, but specifically what it is about MMR-caused autism that would make the cause of the autism relevant to the treatment?

    I have asked before, and it has never been answered: what does Wakefield actually do for kids with autism aside from give their parents a bogeyman to blame for it?

  46. #46 Prometheus
    July 13, 2011

    While I think that Mr. Heckenlively has definitely spent too much time watching and re-watching the Star Wars hexology (is that a word?), I’m reserving judgment on whether or not he’s gone “round the twist”. Like many people (me included), Mr. Heckenlively has let his anger and frustration lead him to putting his private fantasies into the public forum.

    Strange to say, I feel a great deal of sympathy for Mr. Heckenlively, having gone down a part of the garden path on which he now finds himself trapped. He has put his trust in “practitioners” who are (at best) disconnected from reality and have promised him miraculous “cures” if he will only “have faith” and do whatever they tell him to do, no matter how strange or expensive.

    How would anyone who has just spent thousands of dollars he doesn’t have to get his daughter a treatment that lacks any scientific support deal with the realisation that it was all moonbeams and pixie dust? It would take an extraordinarily strong personality to face reality at this point and put the blame where it is due – on those who led him to believe they had “the answers”.

    Instead, Mr. Heckenlively has done what most people do in this sort of situation – he has found a scapegoat.

    It is far easier, psychologically, for Mr. Heckenlively to blame his daughter’s condition on “Dark Forces” than to admit that he was fooled and that his time, money, effort and emotional energy have been wasted. Even worse, he would have to confront the fact that he put his daughter’s health and even her life at risk in his pursuit of ephemeral “cures”.

    At this point, it would be incredibly humiliating for Mr. Heckenlively to admit that he was wrong, that he promoted (and bought) worthless “cures” and that he excoriated and vilified people who were trying to help him and who were, as it turns out, correct in their assessments. It would take and extraordinary person to admit this – even to themselves. And I doubt that Mr. Heckenlively is that kind of person – so few are.

    I would hope that AoA will use a bit more editorial oversight of Mr. Heckenlively’s future posts, as this last one doesn’t show their organisation at its best. Perhaps they should give him some time off to regain perspective.

    As we move through the third decade of the “autism is caused by something the government or Big Pharma did” movement, I expect that we will see more of its followers “crack” as Mr. Heckenlively has. The promises of “cure” have been shown to be hollow and the only thing they have left is their anger.

    The leaders of the movement need to keep that anger directed outward – at “the government” or “Big Pharma” – because the moment the followers lose that external focus, their anger will turn on the people who told them they had all the answers.

    Prometheus

  47. #47 Beamup
    July 13, 2011

    @Scott, where is the best blog for leaving comments that are censored from this one?

    What comments would those be? Orac doesn’t censor.

    Mindy, AW had the gut-brain connection thing going on as well as the MMR bogeyman thing going on.

    The only thing Wakefield had “going on” was deliberate fraud. He MADE UP THE DATA, and lied nonstop through the entire paper.

    Modern studies are showing that he was on the right track with the gut-brain connection

    These studies being? PMID references will suffice.

    wrong as a wrongrel about MMR and autism I’m afraid.

    Making stuff up because a lawyer paid you to get a particular result does tend to have that result.

  48. #48 Jen
    July 13, 2011

    Lawrence, I can’t really put it much more simply than to present the facts:
    Sunday Times. Rupert Murdoch/James Murdoch. Pharma investments. GSK appointment (James). Wakefield is crucified in Kangaroo court. It’s conflict of interest at it’s insidious worst, and yes, it does start to look bad on the scientists who are involved in say, MMR or other vaccine research.

    Also, even another of your readers posted a mention of Orac not dealing with NIMH’s largest, most rigorous twin study of it’s kind that has found shared environment influences susceptibility to autism more than previously thought. “High fraternal twin concordance relative to identical twin concordance…” I have mentioned it a week ago when it first came out. Hallmayer,J. et al. Archive of General Psychiatry, July, 2011. It’s just kind of odd but maybe he will write about it soon…

  49. #49 Dr. Witznitzerstein
    July 13, 2011

    Oh Beamup, you’re funny. Every single complaint/charge against Wakefield was made by Brian Deer whos’ work was published/funded by the Sunday Times of London which is owned by Rupert/James Murdoch (hear anything about these wonderful human beings lately) who sits on the board of GSK (right next to Sir Crispin Davis the CEO of The Lancet) whos’ vaccine Wakefield implicated. Wait until the mainstream press gets wind of this.

  50. #50 daedalus2u
    July 13, 2011

    I trust the security at the South Point Hotel and Casino more than I trust the power of prayer. I think they should be made aware of this.

  51. #51 Lawrence
    July 13, 2011

    AAM – Orac doesn’t censor, but he also isn’t very happy when trolls blatantly break the few rules that he has (most recently a cannabis-freak who continually created sock-puppets – a big no-no around here).

    So yes, there are times (very, very seldom) that a post here and there is deleted, but Orac is always very upfront as to why – and usually only after numerous warnings as well.

    Can’t say the same for AoA.

  52. #52 Vicki
    July 13, 2011

    Anne Autism Mother:

    If you mean you don’t know the Pubmed IDs, there are other ways to cite references, like Author; Title; Where and When Published. (e.g. Smith, Jane. Why we publish. Journal of Irreproducible Results, May 2017.)

    If you mean you don’t have access to Pubmed, you’ll be pleased to know that, in fact, it’s open to the public and requires only Internet access: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK3827/ is a Pubmed help document.

  53. #53 Lawrence
    July 13, 2011

    Well Jen – those are facts, but do you have anything other than your own supposition to support any actual connection between them?

    Like Kevin Bacon, I’m sure I can find Six-Degrees between a number of indivuduals & situation, but that doesn’t mean that any of them are actually related, other then proximity.

    And as far as Wakefield goes – given the amount of evidence against him & the fact he didn’t even bother to appeal (and why, since he’s still making boatloads of money here in the States & he doesn’t even have to practice medicine) – why even continue to support him?

  54. #54 Beamup
    July 13, 2011

    Wakefield was a proctologist and his curiosity about having more than the expected number of autistic children through his practice led him to speculate about the gut-brain connection.

    Except for the minor little fact that the children in question HAD NO GUT ISSUES. Completely normal findings.

    I don’t know what Orac has censored but someone was hawking a load of screenshots on my friends’ Facebook the other day.

    Gut and Autism: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-230X-11-22.pdf

    I don’t have Pubmed sorry.

    IOW, not the slightest shred of anything vaguely resembling evidence. “But some random dude said so!” is not support for such claims.

    Every single complaint/charge against Wakefield was made by Brian Deer…

    I note that you are apparently completely unable to actually refute any of the facts so uncovered.

  55. #55 triskelethecat
    July 13, 2011

    @Jen: I don’t see any smoking gun in the NIH study. Yes, they admit that it appears non-identical twins also have a high level of ASDs. But, as the study states (bolding mine):

    “These new findings are in line with other recent observations supporting both environmental and genetic contributions to ASD, with the environmental factors likely prenatal and the genetic factors highly complex and sometimes not inherited,” said NIMH director Thomas R. Insel, M.D.

    Studies are under way to determine if autism may be traceable, in part, to environmental exposures early during pregnancy.

    So, still nothing that implicates childhood vaccines.

    @Anne Autism Mother: type “pubmed.gov” into your web browser and you will have access to all the pubmed articles your heart desires. It’s free. You may not have access to the full articles, but you can at least see the abstracts.

    @Dr. Witznitzerstein: Um…considering it’s been WELL over a year since Wakers was exposed and AOA and others have long tried to condemn Brian Deer, I am not holding my breath for your “Wait until the mainstream press gets wind of this.”

  56. #56 JayK
    July 13, 2011

    @Anne Autism Mother: After reading through a significant portion of the article you cited (PMID: 21410934) I would have to say “interesting” and ask the authors if they expect that their measurement of gut flora can be used to predict autism. Based on their response, the study could be somewhat useful, but I expect that their response would be more along the lines of “I don’t know” or “probably not”, which would indicate that their research is somewhat flawed. In fact they hint at this in their discussion section.

    Then there is this paragraph in their conclusion section:

    1) The diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder was made by a qualified medical professional prior to enrollment in the study, but there was no additional verification. Similarly , for the neurotypical children, no additional verification was made beyond the parental
    report.

    Same exact failure in diagnosis as what plagued Wakefield and many other research projects.

    So then I looked closer at Table 3-6, holy statistical bullshit, batman. See the low density on the right side that they allow to bias their trend line? I’d give that student an F for that kind of crap. The hid the result analysis of this graph with other statistical values, but the they obviously were attempting to find something that the data didn’t exactly support.

    Now I’m not saying this research should be tossed out, but before anyone cites it as credible, it had better be replicated.

  57. #57 Dangerous Bacon
    July 13, 2011

    In case anyone is wondering what got jen on this Rupert Murdoch kick, the Murdoch-Deer-Wakefield-Vaccine-Pharma-Conspiracy has been making the rounds among the antivax crowd for years now.

    Apparently with the emergence of the British tabloid scandal (which of course has nothing to do with vaccines), the conspiracy theorists think their Murdoch-vaccine brain farts have gotten a new lease on life.

    Anything that looks like it possibly could damage public immunization efforts gets tossed out for mass consumption in the hope that something will stick. It doesn’t matter how idiotic it is, or how desperate and foolish it makes the antivaxers look.

  58. #58 Antaeus Feldspar
    July 13, 2011

    Every single complaint/charge against Wakefield was made by Brian Deer

    Since every single complaint against Wakefield has been independently substantiated, it doesn’t matter who was the first to bring it to public attention. It wouldn’t matter if it had been Charlie “Helter Skelter” Manson who blew the whistle on Wakefield’s falsification of data; from the moment Wakefield decided “Hey, it doesn’t fit what I’m being paid to tell the truth that this kid was seen for these symptoms before he ever got the MMR jab; let me just lie and say the problems all started after the jab” it’s only been about when his lying would be exposed, not in the least about who did the exposing.

  59. #59 JayK
    July 13, 2011

    @Anne Autism Mother

    I remember now, it was that recent genetic study where it said there was a trade off between the genes for socialising, the genes for the immune system and the genes for the gastrointestinal system.

    So a type of 2nd Law of Thermodynamics for genetics? Sounds like tripe, but if you can find a citation like a title/author/year I’ll read it and analyze it, at least for the lulz. Maybe there is something to it, but your description makes it sound like holistic BS.

  60. #60 DrDuran
    July 13, 2011

    @JayK

    Holistic BS is just restating the obvious, Holistic=BS!

  61. #61 Jen
    July 13, 2011

    Trisklethecat, oh I get it, so because Dr. Insel says, “the environmental factors/exposures are LIKELY pre-natal that could never include vaccines for pregnant women (like flu shots, or dpt). And I guess also, because Dr. Insel says it’s likely prenatal (the environmental influences) that could never include early childhood medical interventions like hep b shots, series at 2,4,6 months.
    It seems to me that scienceblogs has historically liked the genetic cause of autism theories (be they studies from Baron Cohen, Fombonne, etc.). Personally, I don’t believe vaccines are the only environmental “smoking gun” but common sense tells me they could definitely be a large part of the problem and this has not been studied properly. And somebody please tell me what ” genetic factors, highly complex and sometimes not inherited” means. Epigenetics?

  62. #62 JayK
    July 13, 2011

    @Anne Autism Mother: I read that article and facepalmed twice, the reporting was horrible and they never actually put a citation to the research. In particular, the “surprise” from Dr. Spencer was the best part, which makes me suspect that Dr. Spencer is an idiot or an idiot interviewed him.

    The siblings of autism sufferers showed significantly less response to the emotive faces than people who were not related to those with the disorder.

    OK, without actually looking up the journal article, I’ll accept that this is a reasonable conclusion. Knowing that autism is a wide spectral disorder, it stands to reason that a high-functioning autistic diagnosis is probably still conservative. Therefore there would still be autism-like traits that would and do show up in the general public while they don’t quite qualify for a diagnosis of ASD. For genetically similar individuals to have one within the spectrum and one to only have certain traits of ASD isn’t surprising, it should have been somewhat expected.

    I can think of multiple places on this very blog where the topic of the genetic relationships of ASD have been described as “complex” and likely to not have a single gene/root/base but rather a set of genetic origins that may be coupled with environmental and/or developmental conditions.

    ASD isn’t a hard-rock diagnosis, it is somewhat subjective. It isn’t even provable that one ASD person has the same root cause as another. When I asked, above, if the authors of the ‘gut flora’ study could use their techniques to “predict” autism, I should have said diagnose.

    The Daily Mail article is just another example of poor science reporting, I’d say. The study itself isn’t game changing research, it is just another facet in understanding the genetic, environmental and developmental components involved in what we call ASD.

  63. #63 JayK
    July 13, 2011

    For anyone interested in the full article, it is available through Translational Psychiatry (Nature) as an online article at http://www.nature.com/tp/journal/v1/n7/full/tp201118a.html

    doi:10.1038/tp.2011.18

  64. Sad. And scary. But mostly just very sad.

  65. #65 Martin smith
    July 13, 2011

    The psychology shown by Heckenlively is fairly typical of the anti vaxxer. There really is no scientific “debate” about the efficacy and usefulness of vaccines in general. The science is clear and without a doubt vaccines in general are a marvelous health intervention. So where does that leave the anti vaxxer. It leaves them with pseudo science, paranoia and conspiracy theory.

    Yes all those studies make vaccines look good, but that is because the corporations want you to think that. The government is using vaccines for eugenics. The brave would who campaign against vaccination are vilified because big pharma is evil and out to hurt us all. Quotes from biblical passages are not uncommon in the anti vaxxer rant, because it is an ideology not an evidenced based conclusion.

  66. #66 Antaeus Feldspar
    July 13, 2011

    And somebody please tell me what ” genetic factors, highly complex and sometimes not inherited” means. Epigenetics?

    Well, it means just that. We tend to think of genetic traits as those we inherited from our parents, but it’s important to remember that they are the traits encoded in our genes, no matter how they got into our genes. A de novo mutation can have just as much as effect as it would as if it had been inherited.

    There is increasing evidence to suggest that de novo mutations may have more effect than we previously thought they did. Many of the children whose problems were blamed on DPT in the infamous “Vaccine Roulette” program, for instance, were later proved to have the same de novo mutation that was the actual cause.

    Also, I’m sure you’re aware of the knowledge that an increased age at fatherhood is associated with an increased risk of autism. This doesn’t make sense either in a “vaccines cause autism” or “genetic traits that are only inherited” paradigm, but it fits with a “de novo mutations can cause autism” hypothesis, because it suggests that the older a man is, the better the chances that his genes will not be passed on to his children without some degree of alteration.

  67. #67 Jen
    July 13, 2011

    Thankyou, Antaeus.

  68. #68 Militant Agnostic
    July 13, 2011

    JayK @70 – I think Anne Autism Mother posted the Daily Fail link for lulz.

  69. #69 Andrew
    July 13, 2011

    “Siblings are 100 times more likely to have ASD if one sibling has it?

    ~1% of people has an ASD so if one sibling has it and the other has it then that is a probability of 1 which is 100% or 100 times 1%”

    No, that’s not how the math works – the 1% of people who have an ASD include those who have a sibling with it.

    If you looked at only families with exactly two children, 1% of the children would have ASD – but there would be a lot of families with two children with an ASD, a lot of families with no children with an ASD, and relatively few families with one and only one child with an ASD.

  70. #70 lumbercartel
    July 13, 2011

    He keeps trying and failing to heal her; he is only fortunate he hasn’t caused her serious harm yet.

    That we know of. Something is running him off his rails.

  71. #71 clamboy
    July 13, 2011

    “A disturbing post on an anti-vaccine blog” – this headline provided by the Department of Redundancy Department

  72. #72 David N. Andrews M . Ed., C. P. S. E.
    July 13, 2011

    Anne Autism Mother:

    “Siblings are 100 times more likely to have ASD if one sibling has it?

    ~1% of people has an ASD so if one sibling has it and the other has it then that is a probability of 1 which is 100% or 100 times 1%”

    If you believe that, you need serious help, now!

    To expand on what Andrew has said, here goes…

    Firstly: look at the source… the Daily Mail! That is not even shitty enough to be a newspaper, let alone a science journal! They sell sensationalised crap, and don’t care about the alarm they cause.

    Secondly, they’re talking about a biomarker that they are hypothesising is involved in the development of an autistic trajectory. This is not the same as having the chance of being autistic.

    You really need to learn some scientific thinking. Because the Daily Mail aren’t gonna help you with that.

  73. #73 Jud
    July 13, 2011

    Alt med purists might have a peek at their mutual funds to see what pharma companies they may actually own.

    A-Ha! Finally I understand what Jen is doing. She actually owns a chunk of Big Pharma, and comes here specifically to put up ludicrous posts so the anti-vax folks will lose all credibility, paving the way for the vaccine companies to gain greater compliance, revenues, and stock prices.

    Damned clever.

  74. #74 Denice Walter
    July 13, 2011

    @ David N. Andrews M.Ed., C.P.S.E.

    Perhaps I’ll do an extensive analysis** concerning the make-up of anti-vax “thought”: black-white thinking, religiosity, emotionality, lack of abstraction, lack of complexity, external locus of control, inability to consider more than one variable, inability to incorporate new information, lack of qualifiers, etc.

    Which might eventually boil down to one salient factor: can’t do math- which would explain why they might accept the “studies” paraded around as evidence for the autism-vaccine link.( Probably why they like the Daily Mail too).

    ** only joking.

  75. #75 Candy
    July 13, 2011

    I’ve seen it all now. Someone has cited the Daily Mail. How can anyone think that the Daily Fail is a reliable source of science reporting, possibly? I’d be laughing out loud if I hadn’t hurt myself so badly with that vicious facepalm.

    Then again, a surprising number of people think vapor trails are hosing us down with mind control agents, and that NASA is using a ray to cause earthquakes all over the world for some nefarious reason, so I don’t know why such things still surprise me, but they do.

    The AoA peeps are starting to sound like those Operation Rescue nutbars. Very scary, indeed.

  76. #76 JayK
    July 13, 2011

    Don’t be hard on Anne Autism Mother, she provided a citation to a popular media outlet that led to an actual study (I provided the relevant details in the form of a link and DOI). The Daily Mail just did a horrible job on reporting, but when I looked through a few other media sites that mentioned the study, I found they were all reporting that the study was “surprising”. Dr. Spencer isn’t an idiot, so I’m going to go with the conclusion that he’s using media exaggeration to promote his study and increase his reputation, hardly something surprising in these fields.

  77. #77 raven
    July 13, 2011

    We’ve known what causes autism for many years now.

    It has a very high genetic component. DNA.

    The demon theory of disease was discredited centuries ago.

    Kent H. can god babble all he wants. It isn’t going to change anything.

  78. #78 Dianne
    July 13, 2011

    It has a very high genetic component.

    I will give the anti-vaxers this: various twin studies don’t get a 100% concordance, suggesting that there is some environmental or possibly epigenetic component involved. Why they should pick vaccines as that environmental component I don’t know. At this point, vaccines appear to be essentially the only thing that we know doesn’t cause autism. Practically anything else short of zodiac sign of birth is more likely to be associated with autism than vaccination status. Heck, there are better big pharma conspiracy theories…why not blame it on prenatal vitamins or erythromycin eye drops?

  79. #79 JayK
    July 13, 2011

    Because erythromycin is hard to pronounce?

  80. #80 ChrisKid
    July 13, 2011

    I’m not seeing Mr. Heckenlively’s post as a threat. Rather, it seems that he was expecting something to happen to some well-known anti-vaxxer, or one of their allies. Was there supposed to be a ruling related to the Geiers or something like that? Was somebody’s internet status threatened by a host site? Whatever it was seems to have been canceled, or at least postponed, so it’s hard to tell when/if we’ll ever find out. That whole ‘Dark Force’ idea is bothersome, but fits right in with a lot of anti-vaccine thought, including conspiracy theories such as that about the Illuminati, the supposed Bill Gates genocide, and such as that.

  81. #81 Joseph Hertzlinger
    July 14, 2011

    Has Joe Mercola had anything to say about the stem-cell treatments for autism?

  82. #82 Julian Frost
    July 14, 2011

    Beamup @52: I think that Anne Autism Mother was talking about the censoring that goes on at Age of Autism.
    Anne Autism Mother, a good site is “Silenced by Age of Autism”, which is controlled by Todd W.

  83. #83 sophia8
    July 14, 2011

    ChrisKid @87: Mr. Heckenlively was almost certainly talking about Rupert Murdoch and News Corp’s current troubles – Murdoch was forced to withdraw his bid to take over a major chunk of the British media. As other posters have pointed out, Murdoch is a bit of a bugbear for the anti-vaxxers, on account of
    a) Wakefield’s lies were exposed by Brian Deer;
    b) Brian Deer wrote for the Sunday Times;
    c) The Sunday Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch;
    d) Therefore R Murdoch is the Dark Lord who is trying to KILL OUR CHILDREN!!!!!

  84. #84 Venna
    July 14, 2011

    @ Julian

    “Anne Autism Mother, a good site is “Silenced by Age of Autism”, which is controlled by Todd W.”

    I didn’t know about this. I’ve been silenced by them and threatened and insulted and all kinds of things. I’ll have to go check that out! Thanks!

    Regarding the post, it disturbs me, having been a target of anti-vaccine nastiness, I’d say, when pushed to a sufficient level, they would be capable of doing anything and believe they fight for a worthy, aka: righteous and holy (kind of like the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades) cause. One must take into consideration everything that’s been going on, the things he has referred to and the fact that he is now $15k in debt and his daughter no closer to being neurotypical then she was before he left the states.

    Getting your hopes up and then having them dashed on the rocks time and time again must eventually wear on a person. They are deliberately riding an emotional roller coaster. The only reason I can see for anyone to do this is because they thrive on drama and need conflict to feel validated. Instead of making their child their cause and autism in general, they’ve made their cause about vaccines and how they injured their child. Let’s face it, some people just don’t know how to cope if they aren’t the victim.

    Autism isn’t fun for anyone, I think I can say that without offending anyone. (Although I did offend some anti-vax nut job on another blog because I said my son didn’t change after his diagnosis and the way I see him or feel about him didn’t change either. She took that to be me saying I like autism. Not sure where that was implied, but OK.) But once it touches our lives, all we can do is take it and do our best and luckily there are specialists and therapists who are out there to help us. If I had to do this alone, I don’t believe I could handle it. So to a degree, I can kind of see where Kent might be coming from… He feels alone and that there’s nothing really out there that can help his daughter and that has to be a scary reality to live in. He might actually be in a good position for some compassion from the science camp to guide him toward treatments and therapies that will actually help his daughter. It is possible, not in all cases, but it has been known to happen, that therapy can be so profoundly successful in a person with autism that they progress enough to lose the autism diagnosis.

    The human brain is an amazing thing and it has everything it needs to function as close to normal as it can. It sometimes needs the help of professionals to coax it along and help to adjust neuro-pathways around the areas that get a little jumbled and confuse things a bit. It is possible and that gives me hope. Of course I know it isn’t going to happen overnight, it’s going to take years, but I’m just happy when my son can say, “Bye bye Bug” to his sister’s boyfriend when I tell him to say good bye, instead of saying “Bye bye Viter.” (His name is Viktor and that is as close an approximation as he can give me at this time.) Every little bit is progress and any progress makes me smile and so proud of him it brings tears to my eyes.

  85. #85 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2011

    @Jakaranda,

    What is exciting about a troll spamming someone’s blog with off-topic comments? Especially when they have clearly misunderstood the study they are referring to, and how statistical significance works. I find it embarrassing to see someone make a fool of themselves like that.

    By the way, I’m firmly in favor of more research into medicinal cannabis. There are lots of places you can discuss that as much as you like, I don’t understand why you feel the need to do so here. In fact by annoying the people here who are actually engaged in research of one sort or another, you are doing the pro-cannabis movement a disservice.

  86. #86 Todd W.
    July 14, 2011

    @Julian Frost and Venna

    Thanks for the plug, though I changed the formal name of my blog a while back to Harpocrates Speaks, since I started venturing a little away from narrowly focusing on AoA’s censorship. I will still gladly put up a thread, though, for comments that have been censored by the AoA editors. Just shoot me an e-mail. Oh, and please don’t feed the off-topic trolls. For some reason, they just don’t understand netiquette.

  87. #87 NZ Sceptic
    July 14, 2011

    I have always ached for Kent’s poor daughter. The whole thing is just so sad – from her condition – such as it may be – to her father’s exploitation of her situation and the pain she undoubtedly endures as he seeks a miracle cure. None of our children are exactly as we dreamed they’d be, but as parents we should love them, accept them, and not try to change them!

  88. #88 DLC
    July 14, 2011

    Heckenlively is using the words of the true fanatic.
    This is disappointing but expected. Largely borne out a mix of guilt, frustration and fear, but add in anger at there being “no solution”. No quick fix, no Magic Cure. Ben Casey, House, Marcus Welby and the staff of M*A*S*H* are just fictions, the case won’t resolve itself in 48 minutes. And so, the level of anger builds. You hit on “the Cause” because “Things just don’t happen for no reason!” and anyone who gainsays your (sometimes google-enhanced) diagnosis is wrong. Is the enemy. the path to conspiratorial thinking is short and easy to follow from there.

  89. #89 Mongrel
    July 14, 2011

    Posted by: David N. Andrews M . Ed., C. P. S. E

    Firstly: look at the source… the Daily Mail! That is not even shitty enough to be a newspaper, let alone a science journal! They sell sensationalised crap, and don’t care about the alarm they cause.

    A good resource regarding the dubious, UK tabloid health stories scares is “Behind the Headlines” from the NHS. It only checks two stories a day but does so plainly and fairly comprehensively

  90. #90 Lawrence
    July 14, 2011

    It really sounds like we have another Jacob sockpuppet in here.

  91. #91 Vicki
    July 14, 2011

    If “most of the mothers you know” think it’s okay to have cocaine when pregnant, you are dealing with an unusual as well as dangerously ignorant subset of the population. Never mind the cannabis, get them to talk to their doctors (or midwives or other health care providers) about cocaine. Yes, the “crack baby” thing was exaggerated, but that doesn’t mean cocaine is harmless.

  92. #92 herr doktor bimler
    July 14, 2011

    to present the facts: Sunday Times. Rupert Murdoch/James Murdoch. Pharma investments. GSK appointment (James).
    A list of nouns is not the same as “facts”.

    Wakefield is crucified in Kangaroo court.
    Am I the only person who read this particular combinations of cliches and imagined a crucifixion scene acted out by marsupials?

  93. #93 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2011

    @Jakaranda

    Did I read it wrong? That study leaves us 92% certain that cannabis reduces infant mortality from around the 1.6% mark to around the 0% mark?

    From my reading of the study (PMID:9200364), 26 out of 1658 children of drug negative mothers died, or 1.57%. As there were 157 mothers who tested positive for cannabis only, you would expect there to have been 2 deaths in that group, but there were none. If you look at the 338 mothers that tested positive for cannabis and other drugs, you would expect 5 infant deaths but there were 3. If you really think this makes this, “the most important piece of research ever”, I think you need to learn a bit more about statistics. With such a small sample you are very likely looking at statistical noise.

    Are you going to claim that heroin is also good for babies on the basis of these results? Of the 213 mothers who tested positive for morphine you would have expected 3 infant deaths, but there was only 1. Opiate use in mothers prevents infant death? Of course not.

    I assume you’ve never had a child or nearly lost a child

    I do have children, and nearly lost one of them, but that doesn’t make me lose my senses and forget everything I have learned about statistical significance.

    Where are the serious forums where this is being discussed if they do exist as you say?

    I suggest you check out the NORML website, the Marijuana Policy Project website, or maybe Google “medical marijuana discussion group” which gets over 7000 hits.

    Sheesh, most of the mothers I know think it’s ok to have cocaine when pregnant but not cannabis. This study says it’s the other way round. WOW!

    Are you serious?!! I find that appalling. It says a lot about the people you associate with. I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s OK to use cocaine when pregnant, and the mothers I know who use cannabis all quit while they were pregnant. There are several studies that suggest smoking cannabis while pregnant leads to low birth weight, presumably due to reduced oxygen supply to the fetus because of carbon monoxide. Cannabis may not lead to increased infant mortality, but that’s a long, long way from showing it is good for the baby.

  94. #94 lilady
    July 14, 2011

    Kent Heckenlively obviously has some severe mental disorders as his posts on Age of Autism have become increasingly bizarre. I also suspect that his law practice has been affected by his fixations…and in his paranoid state he blames the Dark Forces…one sick puppy.

    I’ve also seen some very odd posts from others at Age of Autism, which to me, indicate that the editors will publish any and all wacky “theories” associated with autism…as long as the “theories” do not include genetics.

    At Age of Autism they realize that “environmental” studies being funded by the NIH and through the Interagency Autism Coordinating Council (IACC) for the most part are researching the prenatal environment and prenatal factors…not concentrating on the post-natal environment (vaccines, vaccine adjuvants or the number of vaccines given to an infant). They are very frustrated that they are no longer able to control the resources being devoted to autism research. I take particular delight now that my tax dollars are being used for science-based research and not wasted on bogus “theories”.

  95. #95 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2011

    @Jakaranda

    You are trying to divert attention from the fact that the study you claim is, “the most important piece of research ever”, is nothing of the sort. Some research has found marijuana use to be associated with low birth weight, some has not. A recent study concluded:

    “Marijuana use can lead to fetal growth restriction, as well as withdrawal symptoms in the neonate”.
    PMID: 20407975

    Any responsible mother would not take the risk, in my opinion.

  96. #96 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2011

    How did this jump from an off-topic and unfounded claim that maternal marijuana use prevents infant deaths, to an off-topic claim that marijuana is an effective treatment for autism?

  97. #97 lilady
    July 14, 2011

    @ Krebiozen: You do realize that you are posting to one of Jacob’s sock puppets, don’t you?

  98. #98 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2011

    You call that good science? It’s rubbish. Do I need to explain why?

    Yes, you do. Please explain why this peer reviewed study from a good quality journal established over 100 years ago, with a respectable impact factor is “rubbish”.

  99. #99 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2011

    @Lilady

    You do realize that you are posting to one of Jacob’s sock puppets, don’t you?

    With about 99% certainty ;-) I’m at a loose end and I hate to see science horribly abused like this whoever is doing it. Suggesting that exposing a developing fetus to drugs of abuse is a good idea is almost as insane as Th1Th2′s fantasy infection prevention ideas.

  100. #100 Beamup
    July 14, 2011

    Nah, doesn’t come anywhere close to Thing levels of lunacy (more dangerous, though). Doesn’t even approach Congressional levels of lunacy.

  101. #101 Orac
    July 14, 2011

    I notice that Jacob has been taking advantage of my lack of attention to the blog due to my attendance at TAM. The situation has been rectified.

  102. #102 Venna
    July 14, 2011

    There is a difference between removing posts from someone who has a one track mind and can’t seem to discuss anything but that one topic, and censoring someone simply because you disagree with what they are saying (AoA is a good example of that). If you want your posts to remain, then have your posts remain on topic. Last time I checked, cannabis wasn’t mentioned anywhere in Orac’s post, therefore ANYONE bringing it into the discussion is off topic. Hopefully that was plain enough to get through, but probably not.

  103. #103 Todd W.
    July 14, 2011

    @Venna

    Actually, the reason the troll of note was banned was not for being off-topic (as annoying as that can be) or even the subject matter, but for using sockpuppets, IIRC.

  104. #104 Lawrence
    July 14, 2011

    Todd – you’re right. He was warned about off-topic posts, but responded with a plethora of sock puppets in response – which is what ultimately got the bannage.

  105. #105 Matthew Cline
    July 14, 2011

    Jacob was first put on moderation because of making lots of comments in a short amount of time, then used sock puppets to get around the moderation. Then came the banning.

    And, wow, Jacob was claiming that pregnant women smoking cannabis reduces the rate of neonatal mortality? What can’t cannabis do!

  106. #106 lilady
    July 14, 2011

    @ Matthew Cline: What can’t cannabis do? Well when you indulge in cannabis, according to our resident pothead troll, you cannot stop going off-topic, cannot stop indulging in postings about ambiguous sexuality, lying about participation in studies about cannabis and cannot refrain from using a variety of sock puppets. Cannabis apparently can keep you from seeking any education or gainful employment and teaches you some nifty drug seeking behaviors.

    All in all quite a good all-purpose recreational drug for pothead troll and its sock puppets.

  107. #107 Venna
    July 15, 2011

    I must say the phrase sock puppets makes me giggle and I think of a guy with Lambchop, Charlie Horse and Hush Puppy (Google Shari Lewis if you aren’t sure of the reference) running multiple SB pages to be able to post in quick succession. That’s a really funny image if you think about it. I know the final result is annoying as Hell, but it’s still a funny image.

  108. #108 Marry Me, Mindy
    July 15, 2011

    And, wow, Jacob was claiming that pregnant women smoking cannabis reduces the rate of neonatal mortality?

    To be fair, it’s not obvious that it is wrong. Not surprisingly, there isn’t a lot known about the effects of mj use in pregnancy. There was an attempt to look into it by looking at outcomes for inner city drug users in Detroit, but that has so many confounders it is crazy.

    Probably the most serious effort looked at women in Jamaica. Also not great, but at least it wasn’t trying to separate hardcore drug and alcohol usage from pot. Iirc, the results of these studies were mixed, with some noted benefits and some noted problems. I don’t remember what it said about mortality rates – that could have gone either way. Moreover, I don’t know if it would necessarily been significant. On the whole, the conclusion was that there weren’t really huge drawbacks to pot smoking in pregnancy.

    While the conclusions haven’t been enthusiastically embraced. Otoh, there hasn’t been too much actual criticism of the work.
    I didn’t find any rebuttals in the literature.

    Last I knew, the woman who did the work was Dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Iowa, so it’s not like she is considered a crank or anything.

    I wouldn’t necessarily buy the claim that pot is good in pregnancy, but it is also not obvious that it is wrong.

  109. #109 Composer99
    July 15, 2011

    And still, the off-topic cannabis troll persists.

    At least Th1Th2 restricts herself to posting on topic on vaccines, even if she is wrong, wrong, wrong.

  110. #110 Todd W.
    July 15, 2011

    @Composer99

    Entertainment value is much, much higher with Th1Th2, as well. The other troll is just pathetic and boring.

  111. #111 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    July 15, 2011

    Don’t give me thrice unreproducible whites-only research from 1986 like that idiot tried to palm off on Jakaranda and Annie yesterday ;)

    OK, referring to your sockpuppets as if they were separate individuals is edging into Multiple-Personality Disorder territory. Remember you’re just a stoner with delusions of autism.

    Honestly, Jacob, we get it—you’re wasted all the time and you like it. Nobody here is trying to take that away from you. Your work here is done. Go troll the DEA website now….

  112. #112 sng
    July 15, 2011

    “Hepatitis B at birth, Why?”

    In the case of my children to save their lives because of the rather high chance they would have caught it from their mother when they were born and this is the best and safest way we know of to prevent that.

  113. #113 Jarred C
    July 15, 2011

    @Todd W. #29

    And, you are right, the EPA generally puts the threshold lower than the actual NOAEL. I can’t recall off hand how much they typically lower the exposure limits to create a safety buffer.

    It’s typically 100-1000 times lower. It’s based on the amount of research that in the literature at the time the evaluation was last done on the particular chemical. Basically, it involves a series of x3 or x10 (and in risk assessment, 3 x 3 = 10, not 9; because root 10 = 3.16, and they round down). The max uncertainty factor (UF) is 3000.

    There are four categories for the UF:
    1. Interspecies (animals to humans)
    Typically a x10 factor, but kinetics and dynamics are broken down into x3 each.

    2. Intraspecies (average healthy humans to sensitive humans, such as children)
    Typically a x10 factor, and it accounts for variability. Since models are usually as close to homogeneous as they can get, this factor takes into account the heterogeneous of humans, such as age, nutrition, disease state, etc..

    Once again, kinetic vs dynamic studies are taken into account, and each are x3.

    3. Subchronic (short-term study to lifetime exposure)
    This is particularly important if a chemical bioaccumulates. It’s usually a x10 factor.

    4. Data Deficiency (absence of information about important effects).
    This can be anywhere from x3-x10, and is usually employed if a developmental or reproductive study has not been done, or if there is a sense that something important is missing.

    Not all factors are used every time, it all depends on what the current state of research is at the time of the review. And like I said before, the max UF is 3000 times below the NOAEL (No Observable Adverse Effect Level).

    Hope that helps.

  114. #114 Todd W.
    July 15, 2011

    @Jarred C

    Immensely. Thanks for the explanation.

  115. #115 triskelethecat
    July 15, 2011

    @Venna: I love you, and your postings, but did you have to post about Shari Lewis and friends. That damn earworm of a song is running through my memory now… (sulks, turns up iPod and hopes for something to get her mind off that darn song…)

  116. #116 Politicalguineapig
    July 16, 2011

    This is the post that never ends, the post that never ends..
    Some people started writing it, to show it to their friends
    Their friends started tweeting it, and now it never ends…
    This is the post that never ends..
    I am so very sorry. My inner child got the upper hand on that one.

  117. #117 Venna
    July 16, 2011

    LOL! I’m sorry Triskele. When my older kids were little we all used to march around the house singing that at the top of our lungs and honestly, they got tired of it before I did and eventually it ended up into a tag tickle match and I was always it.

    Guineapig, I think you should let your inner child out to play more.

  118. #118 triskelethecat
    July 16, 2011

    @Politicalguineapig: LOL! That is really funny. I think I’ll try to remember that one.

    @Venna: the girls and I would sing it too, and try to make up various ways to get it to end. It was fun, back in the day…

  119. #119 thomas
    July 16, 2011

    Could he be reported for child abuse?

    Though, if performing medically unnecessary procedures was illegal, it would piss off lots of Jews, Muslims and Americans. Still, this procedure was not only medically unnecessary but dangerous. Somewhere, it should be possible to draw the line and call it child abuse.

  120. #120 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    July 16, 2011

    Denice, your analysis was as extensive as it needed to be regarding those pillocks. And – much as one might expect – I think you’re right in your conclusion. They can’t do that maths, and they therefore adopt the head-in-arse position regarding things that go against what they are told to think.

  121. #121 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    July 16, 2011

    Thomas, I think you’re right in what you suggest. Medically unnecessary ‘treatments’ – and dangerous ones at that – should fall within the remit of the child abuse teams.

  122. #122 Seorsa
    July 24, 2011

    There is another sad aspect to this situation. His beliefs are not just a rejection of science, but a rejection of his daughter and other’s like her. One dynamic of a religious fundamentalist is a powerful push for normative behavior, whether it is hetero-normative or ableist as in this case, it is actually driven by animus: to those in his world he seems to driven by the pain and agony of his daughters “suffering”. In reality, he hates his daughter and everyone like her, and his torture of her is part of an organized system to force her to normalcy. Anyone who feels sorry for him is buying into a rejection of the autistic and who they are. Please reflect on your sympathy for him and realize that he and people like him would fit in well with Hitler’s medical research team. They deserve only contempt.

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