No, no, no! Fifteen times, no!

A couple of weeks ago, I noted a new trend among the antivaccine glitterati, or maybe I should refer to it as a new trope. That particular trope is to refer to anyone who has the temerity to stand up for science, support vaccines, and criticize antivaccinationists like the crew at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism or the moms full of the arrogance of ignorance over at The (Not-So) Thinking Moms’ Revolution as “bullies.” Part and parcel of this trope is to try to portray aggressively countering the antivaccine misinformation that flows from such sources in a seemingly unending stream as the brutal bullying of unfortunate mothers of the victims of “vaccine injury” who are only trying to bring The Truth About Vaccines to the world and, in their view, prevent other mothers from making their children autistic by—gasp!—actually vaccinating them according to the CDC-recommended schedule.

Well, they’re at it again.

I had meant to get around to this post, but news about Stanislaw Burzynski (about whom there very likely will very soon be more blogging soon, given that his response appears to be hitting the interwebs) and the irresistible target that is Deepak Chopra distracted me as much as a squirrel distracts Dug the Dog. No problem. There was plenty of time, and I’m back to it now. After all, a juicy target like Laura Hayes’ epic piece of arrogant ignorance on AoA entitled Dear Emily Willingham, Dorit Reiss, Christopher Hickie and other Vaccine Bullies is just too tasty a morsel to resist.

First off, I must confess to a bit of disappointment. What do I mean? Well, it’s hard not to be disappointed that I wasn’t included in the list of “vaccine bullies.” Come on, Ms. Hayes! Who’s the biggest, baddest, most obnoxious “vaccine bully” of all? With all due respect and admiration Emily Willingham, Dorit Reiss, and Christopher Hickle, who are obviously thorns enough in the side of AoA that they have their very own attack post directed at them, thus earning my respect, I can’t help but point out that they are nowhere near as—shall we say?—Insolent as this particular “vaccine bully.” In fact, I should have a T-shirt made that says “Vaccine Bully,” or maybe I’ll contact Surly Amy and ask her to make a “Vaccine Bully” Surly, as a companion piece to the “Vaccine Gestapo” Surly that I still occasionally wear, especially to skeptics events.

But on to the fun. Basically, Ms. Hayes asks this question:

Do you believe anyone has the right to be exempt from vaccines? Does the Constitution protect the individual’s right to refuse a vaccine?

What about under these circumstances?

She then lists 15 different circumstances. I was half tempted to simply respond with no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no and leave it at that. Then I thought that perhaps I could simply say that it doesn’t matter if you “believe” in a Constitutional right to refuse vaccines, because adults already have the right to refuse vaccines, as they have the right to refuse pretty much any medical intervention. It’s children we’re talking about here, though, not adults. So the question is actually whether parents have the right to refuse vaccines for their children, and the answer to that question is already known. The Supreme Court gave the only opinion that matters, and that’s that philosophical and religious exemptions from vaccination for children are not required.

This is, however, Orac we’re talking about. I don’t roll that way.

Ms. Hayes then starts listing conditions:

  1. If one child in a family experienced one or more adverse reactions to one or more vaccines, would you be okay with that parent exempting that child and his/her siblings from any future vaccines?
  2. If a parent had one or more adverse reactions to one or more vaccines, would you be okay with that parent exempting their children from vaccines?
  3. If a parent witnessed a close relative (e.g. nephew, niece, first cousin, etc.) have one or more adverse reactions to one or more vaccines, would you be okay with that parent exempting their children from vaccines?
  4. If a parent has had a child die from a vaccine(s), would you be okay with that parent exempting their remaining and/or future children from vaccines?
  5. If a parent witnessed a friend’s or neighbor’s child having one or more adverse reactions to one or more vaccines, would you be okay with that parent exempting their children from vaccines?

All of this, of course, is irrelevant to whether a child is likely to suffer another “adverse reaction.” In particular, it’s irrelevant if a friend’s or neighbor’s child has a reaction, it has no bearing on whether a parent’s child will have a reaction. While it’s understandable why a parent might be frightened if she saw (or, more commonly, was told about) an adverse reaction to vaccination, it has no bearing on whether there is a “right” to refuse vaccines. It would likely call for more understanding and reassurance, but if that fails, neither the child nor the children with whom that child will come into contact, should be endangered because of fear. Of course, in many states it’s a moot point, anyway, because they permit philosophical exemptions to vaccination. Such a parent already has a “right” to refuse vaccination for her child, as misguided as such policies might be. I support school vaccine mandates. Parents can refuse to vaccinate their children, but if they do their children shouldn’t be allowed to endanger other children in public spaces where children are in close proximity, like schools and

In addition, for most medical purposes of taking a family history, nephews, nieces, cousins, and the like are not really considered “close relatives.” Many of the rest of the 15 questions are variations on the same theme. Hayes asks if it matters if the parents’ siblings, the child’s grandparents, and various other relations had a “vaccine reaction,” then should the parents have the “right” to refuse vaccines? The same answer applies. As for first degree relatives like parents or siblings, I’d rely on the physician and science-based medicine to determine whether vaccination is medically contraindicated. If vaccination is medically contraindicated, then the child should be given a medical exemption. If it’s not, then the school vaccine mandate should continue to apply.

This brings us to religion, of course:

  1. If a parent believes that vaccines are an abomination to God, whom they believe to be the Creator of them and their children, and whom they worship above all else, would you be okay with that parent exempting their children from vaccines?
  2. If a parent believes that sacrificing children and/or harming children is against their personal religious beliefs (it is a fact that vaccines have the power to both harm and kill), would you be okay with that parent exempting their children from vaccines?

Again, it doesn’t matter what I think. The Supreme Court has already answered the question. Personally, I don’t like the privileging of religion above everything else as a reason to permit deviations from public safety like vaccine exemptions. Personally, I tend to think that either both philosophical and religious exemptions should be banned or they both should be allowed, and I’d tend to prefer the former. To do otherwise simply perpetuates the privilege of irrational religious beliefs in the law and public life.

This leads to #14, which was so hilariously off-base that Ms. Hayes almost owes me a new keyboard, as I was drinking tea at the time I was reading her little screed. Fortunately, I had just swallowed my drink and didn’t spew it all over my laptop. I suggest that, if you’re drinking anything right now, you do the same before you read this:

If a parent has independently researched vaccines, possibly to a level that exceeds that of any healthcare practitioner they might see, and is confident that they have reached the best decision for their family, would you be okay with that parent exempting their children from vaccines?

I’m sorry, but if you say something that stupid, you’re going to be criticized for it. Ms. Hayes seems to think that a parent, no doubt like her, can actually “independently research vaccines” to a “level that exceeds that of any healthcare practitioner” she might see. (Emphasis mine.) If there’s any sentence that epitomizes the arrogance of ignorance, in which someone thinks that University of Google knowledge trumps scientific knowledge and practical experience gained over years of advanced study, it’s Ms. Larson’s gem above. It’s simply spectacular, particularly because Ms. Hayes then proclaims that the vaccine schedule is “completely untested.” Oh, really? Completely untested? That’s simply nonsense. She might claim that it hasn’t been tested enough, although she’d be wrong, but to claim it is “completely untested” is ludicrous.

She also brings up the tired old antivaccine ploy of claiming that there has never been a study comparing the outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated children, which is also an exaggeration, as there have been such studies. The problem with doing such studies, however, is that there are—fortunately—relatively few incompletely unvaccinated children, which means most such studies involve looking at children who received all the recommended vaccinations versus children who received only some of their vaccinations. That is an inherent difficulty in doing this sort of research, and a randomized controlled trial of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children is completely unethical because it would leave one group vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases. None of this stops her from citing “informal surveys and assessments” that, according to her, show that unvaccinated children are healthier. These “studies” are generally complete crap. One was an Internet survey by a German homeopath. Another was an incompetently administered phone survey commissioned by the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism.

My amusement at Laura Hayes’ arrogance of ignorance aside, her post is only the most recent and arguably overwrought example of the new antivaccine technique of demonization. It’s becoming a drumbeat, “Help, help, I’m being repressed!” It’s also a particularly hypocritical and cynical ploy, given how willing antivaccine warriors are to harass their critics online, poison their Google reputation, and even try to get them fired from their jobs.

Comments

  1. #1 herr doktor bimler
    November 18, 2013

    we know in the past there were no autism (yeah –yeah–no one saw headbanging, hand flapping, and so on –give it a break — there were none).

    What a surprise, the literature on idiot savants — going back to Rush’s report in 1789 — is replete with exactly such descriptions. Our man Down, of Down’s Syndrome fame, described autism in 1887 as a form of ‘developmental retardation’.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677584/

  2. #2 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    As if…Terry Poling would ever respond to The Troll.

    What, you mean after his previous attempt at communication with her, in which he dismissed her frivolous remarks about people misstating facts and suggesting that her family, despite wishes in certain quarters, is not a Monopoly token that’s going to cough up rent for Marvin Gardens, with this?

    What does it say about us as a race if we are not prepared to put the health and safety of our most sacred resource –our kids– ahead of our ‘private concerns’? Truly sad!

    Posted by: Greg | November 12, 2013 at 07:52 AM.

    It defies belief that he’s not on speed-dial after that insight, for goodness’ sake.

  3. #3 lilady
    November 18, 2013

    I’ve been slumming over at AoA and other crank websites for the past few hours. As of 3:30 AM EST, Hazelhurst’s video is still not posted.

    Does The Troll know that Terry Poling is an attorney…and a nurse?

  4. #4 Jeff1971
    November 18, 2013

    Olmsted has done this kind of thing before, including removing material for “technical” reasons. He’s a deeply dishonest man.

  5. #5 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    As of 3:30 AM EST, Hazelhurst’s video is still not posted.

    Was I too subtle before?

  6. #6 Julian Frost
    November 18, 2013

    What I understand is that we have a top-notch, expert neurologist — the same expert who essential squashed the Omnibus claimants’ case — now reversing his position and claiming that vaccines can cause regressive encephalopathy and leading to autism.

    You have misunderstood. As has been pointed out to you, Zimmerman only mentioned autism tangentially. Like the proverbial square peg in a round hole, you are attempting to force Zimmerman’s words into something he never said.

  7. #7 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 18, 2013

    With reference to Greg, I will simply note that for MONTHS now, I have been offering a Lurker Challenge in response to his drivellings. Anyone who thinks his ramblings contain any shred of a point that actually deserves to be addressed need only speak up, and I at the very least will consider myself obligated to give the best response I can.

    Not once has anyone taken up that challenge. The obvious implication is that not even other antivaxxers think Greg’s nonsense is worth mining for the tiny shreds of sense that MIGHT be in there in some fantasy world.

  8. #8 Alain
    November 18, 2013

    Narad,

    Is there a rot13 converter on mac? bonus point if it come from macports.org?

    Thanks
    Al

  9. #9 Alain
    November 18, 2013

    Julian Frost (Good morning to everyone btw),

    Do you have a link to the actual statements by Zimmerman?

    Thanks
    Alain

  10. #10 Julian Frost
    November 18, 2013

    Alain, No I don’t. I was referring to Todd W.’s comments @ #118.
    Todd, do you perhaps have a link to Zimmerman’s comments?

  11. #11 Krebiozen
    November 18, 2013
  12. #12 Alain
    November 18, 2013

    Thanks Krebiozen,

    I read the documents and derived some key points, namely, regressive autism caused by mitochondrial disorder which is bound to affect the energy level of the brain and result in lower metabolism in the brain.

    Regressive autism of unknown aetiology. In that case, we don’t know if there’s a lower metabolism in the brain or not.

    Autism, not regressive. There’s many fMRI studies detailing higher activation in autism as compared to control thus, it’s incredibly unlikely that there’s a lower metabolism because, the higher oxygen consumption mean a higher metabolism that the mitochondria can process.

    Are the AoA gang purporting that we all have a lower metabolism and the result we get from fMRI scanners manipulated results? A scanner can’t lie, can it?

    Alain

  13. #13 lilady
    November 18, 2013

    @ Narad…Did I miss something?

    What does that code mean at the end of your comment @ 200?

  14. #14 Greg
    November 18, 2013

    @Bob G

    Do you see how all-powerful I am? Try as the may, they just can’t ignore me. Again folks, if you can’t take the pressure, I suggest that you leave me alone on this thread to educate the undecided lurkers about the harms of vaccines. After all, I was here first (hee hee hee).

    I am having a real blast playing in this big-little ‘sandbox of life’.

    @Narad

    Yes I said ‘ruling’, but I am well aware that the Poling case was conceded.

    @Kreb

    You mentioned how the uptake of certain vaccines was at a high, yet I think there is a little bit more to the story: How many parents feel that vaccines do cause autism? Actually, it’s a quarter of the population. How many parents have skipped one or more of their kids’ vaccines? Actually, that is 1 in 10. Is the exemption rates not increasing across the nation? When the half-a-million autistic kids come of age in the next 10 years, and start impacting society on all levels, how do you think this will help with the growing cynicism towards vaccines? How long do you expect to get extra mileage from the better diagnosis argument?

    @VCADODers
    We discussed Dr. Zimmerman’s position that vaccines can cause slow, delayed brain damage and it would make more sense to conduct vaccine safety studies looking into reactions over years, or studying kids who are old enough that autism can be detected in them.

    We also considered that mitochondrial dysfunction may not be so rare after all, with 1 in 50 kids having genes that predisposes them to this condition. (Where did I also hear of that 1 in 50 number —HHMMM?)

    Finally, I want your takes on whether with the talk of vaccine adjuvants capable of altering genes, whether mitochondrial dysfunction may not be an entirely inherited condition after all, and it may be the result of vaccine injury.

  15. #15 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    @ Narad…Did I miss something?

    What does that code mean at the end of your comment @ 200?

    The videos never were “taken down”; AoA wasn’t hosting them. They were both (streaming and the 1.7 GB version that I mentioned before) being living at Google Docs and Drive (respectively), and they’re both sitting right where they were before. See?

  16. #16 Politicalguineapig
    November 18, 2013

    Narad: What, you mean after his previous attempt at communication with her, in which he dismissed her frivolous remarks about people misstating facts and suggesting that her family, despite wishes in certain quarters, is not a Monopoly token that’s going to cough up rent for Marvin Gardens, with this?

    If Poling and her husband didn’t want to be used by the anti-vaccine movement, then why did they file suit? They must have known that the anti-vax movement would pounce on bait like that.

  17. #17 Politicalguineapig
    November 18, 2013

    Also, oxytocin, like the gut-brain hypothesis is a modern invention and should be considered a suspect notion.

  18. #18 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    If Poling and her husband didn’t want to be used by the anti-vaccine movement, then why did they file suit?

    This question might be more facially honest if you just phrased it as “then why did they succeed in reaching a settlement?” It would make about as much sense as attempting to time-travel motives 13 years into the past.

  19. #19 Jeff1971
    November 18, 2013

    Maybe they filed suit because they wanted the money.

  20. #20 Lawrence
    November 18, 2013

    Actually, I believe the Polings were acting in the best interest of their child. They prevailed, but the results of the case are being twisted by the anti-vax movement for their own agenda….

  21. #21 Denice Walter
    November 18, 2013

    @ Jeff1971;

    Well, money is certainly part of the issue: I think Mark et al want also to be PROVEN correct publicly in their assertations that they’ve been harmed by vaccines. Perhaps to put an end to the ( well-deserved) ridicule to which they’ve been subjected.

    At any rate, around the sites that I frequent it’s said that the Polings were compensated because of _vaccine injury_ ; others want a piece of the action for themselves.

    However Jake will have no part of the hearing – he won’t show.
    I think that he requires nothing less than the government admitting that it wantonly poisoned infants with mercury AND a Nobel for his efforts in uncovering the deed and its cover-up.

  22. #22 lilady
    November 18, 2013

    @ Narad # 215: Thanks for the link to the video…and the explanation. Don’t forget about my level of (in)competence when it comes to computer technology. 🙂

  23. #23 Krebiozen
    November 18, 2013

    @PGP #217,

    Also, oxytocin, like the gut-brain hypothesis is a modern invention and should be considered a suspect notion.

    Citation? Oxytocin may be a recent discovery, but I don’t think its role in emotional bonding is particularly controversial.

    I’m also not sure what you mean by “the gut-brain hypothesis”. There is an extensive network of neurons in our gut that has been described as a second brain. I don’t think that’s particularly controversial either, though some claims about it might be.

  24. #24 MI Dawn
    November 18, 2013

    @PGP: not sure how old you think oxytocin (Pitocin) is, but it’s been used for many decades… so, unlike the gut-brain hypothesis, if it had any effect, it would have been notice long before now…

    (I can personally vouch for nearly 35 years of its use, and by second hand, go back another 20+….)

  25. #25 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    @Alain:

    Is there a rot13 converter on mac? bonus point if it come from macports.org?

    Don’t get me started on Macports and its ilk. If I had wanted half a dozen copies of Python and unknown Perls scattered around, I think I’d remember that desire.

    You can do it from any normal shell:

    /Users/narad> which tr
    /usr/bin/tr
    /Users/narad> tr ‘A-Za-z’ ‘N-ZA-Mn-za-m’ <

  26. #26 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    Grumble.

    /Users/narad> tr ‘A-Za-z’ ‘N-ZA-Mn-za-m’ << “”
    ? The quick brown fox
    ? ^D Gur dhvpx oebja sbk
    /Users/narad>

  27. #27 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    Citation? Oxytocin may be a recent discovery, but I don’t think its role in emotional bonding is particularly controversial.

    I’m also not sure what you mean by “the gut-brain hypothesis”.

    I took both of these to refer to autism causation/mechanism claims. This AoA entry manages to combine them, after a fashion.

  28. #28 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 18, 2013

    I should point out that Googling “rot13 converter” will return a number of services…

  29. #29 Bill Price
    November 18, 2013

    Narad, #225,226– I use the Leetkey addon to Firefox, myself. Then, it’s just a matter of (a) select the text; (b) rightclick; (c) select LeetKey from the dropdown; select Text Transformers → ROT13; and (d) do whatever with the results where the selected text was. That’s because I’m lazy — getting the text into terminal window, and remembering the Unix incantation is too much exercise for casual ROT13ing.

  30. #30 Chris HIckie
    November 18, 2013

    rot13.com works well.

    I was going to do it on geocaching.com, but it’s time for dinner.

  31. #31 Alain
    November 18, 2013

    Don’t get me started on Macports and its ilk

    Okay.

    if(‘good automated *nix utilities build infrastructure’ === exist) then {
    echo ‘Can you recommend something please?’;
    }
    else
    {
    echo ‘Shrug…’;
    }

    /* let see if that cause a script injection hole into scienceblogs */

    Alain

  32. #32 Greg
    November 18, 2013

    @214 I asked:

    “Finally, I want your takes on whether with the talk of vaccine adjuvants capable of altering genes, whether mitochondrial dysfunction may not be an entirely inherited condition after all, and it may be the result of vaccine injury.”

    @211 Kreb, you provided a link to the Hannah Poling medical report and it states….

    “Such mitochondrial dysfunction may arise from multiple genetic or epigenetic causes. Genetic causes include mutation in nuclear or mitochondrial DNA. Epigenetic causes include environmental toxins, infections, and various pharmaceuticals.”

    Clearly then, the report is stating that vaccination can contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction. Also, considering the genetic factor of mutated genes, are we to believe that these mutations are totally an inherited condition, or again, can vaccines be implicated in the process? If yes, this would amount to a double whammy of vaccines potentially causing mitochondrial dysfunction.

  33. #33 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    @Alain:

    I’ve used Fink and Macports* out of laziness, but my general persuasion is that if I need something compiled, it’s just as well that I do it myself. At least then I know what’s going on, particularly if I’d rather have something statically linked.

    ‘Homebrew’ seems to be the new kid on the block, and I could swear that I heard about another one a couple of months ago, but the closest thing to a “package manager” I’m willing to put up with at this point is tlmgr for (La)TeX stuff.

    And it goes without saying that the last thing you want is more than one package manager skulking around.

    * And I-Installer for binaries, which is long EOL, with Rudix floating around now.

  34. #34 Alain
    November 18, 2013

    I should specify what I need at the moment:

    1-: Maxima (Done with macports)
    2-: R (Need gcc which doesn’t compile)
    3-: Recent Apache with mod_php and mod_mono
    4-: mono, F#, C#, MonoDevelop
    5-: !Mysql (covered by mariadb)
    6-: PostgreSQL (might use this instead of mysql)

    When I get my job, I’ll be saving up money for a 16-core mac pro fully loaded and will likely run the same stack.

    Alain

  35. #35 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    2-: R (Need gcc which doesn’t compile)

    You’re trying to compile gcc, or R?

  36. #36 Alain
    November 18, 2013

    gcc.

    R need it for its extension but then it dawned on me that I could hop to cran.r-project.org and download an installer.

    Alain

  37. #37 Politicalguineapig
    November 18, 2013

    Lawrence: Actually, I believe the Polings were acting in the best interest of their child. They prevailed, but the results of the case are being twisted by the anti-vax movement for their own agenda….

    Anyone who refers to a child as ‘damaged’ can’t possibly act in the best interests of that child. And I believe Hannah’s father was a doctor and her mother was a nurse- they had to have been aware of the anti-vaccine movement. I can’t sympathize with people who throw red meat to the hyenas of the anti-vax movement. (I’d say wolves, but I happen to like wolves.)

  38. #38 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    You can’t use the (I presume) llvm-gcc-4.2 that comes with Xcode?

  39. #39 Politicalguineapig
    November 18, 2013

    Kreb and MI Dawn: I’m most familiar with oxytocin as a way to slutshame; you know, the ‘you bond forever with sexual partners so keep shut until you’re married’ bullshite. Therefore, since the messengers are untrustworthy, I tend to regard the message itself as suspect- plus, I’m sure you’re aware of my views on romance and pair-bonding (basically, they’re poison pills.)
    The gut-brain hypothesis is another case of shady messengers; since I’ve only ever heard of it around Age of Autism it probably isn’t of any scientific validity.
    In case you’re wondering, there are certain people (a certain rep from Minnesota, most Texas politicians, anyone from Age of Autism) who just can’t tell the truth; if they said the sky was blue, I’d need six reliable witnesses, a fact-check and a spectrum scanner to verify that the sky was, in fact, blue.

  40. #40 Alain
    November 18, 2013

    Xcode 5.0 (on mavericks) use llvm’s clang 3.3 (for licensing reason, clang’s a better compiler than gcc 4.2 and later version of gcc are gpl 3 which apple hate). The reason I was installing gcc was because R from macports required gcc in its build script. If I where compiling it myself, I’d use clang.

    Alain

  41. #41 Chris,
    November 18, 2013

    Colored me very confused.

  42. #42 Narad
    November 18, 2013

    Anyone who refers to a child as ‘damaged’ can’t possibly act in the best interests of that child. And I believe Hannah’s father was a doctor and her mother was a nurse- they had to have been aware of the anti-vaccine movement.

    Right, so doctor-nurse parents aren’t allowed to seek compensation from the VICP, and you personally also have some sort of iron-clad, keyword-based, predictive mental-modeling skills. Gotcha.

    I can’t sympathize with people who throw red meat to the hyenas of the anti-vax movement. (I’d say wolves, but I happen to like wolves.)

    FTFY.

  43. #43 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    November 19, 2013

    Politicalguineapig, I really dislike it when people presume to tell me what I am or am not thinking. By the same token, I’m not very impressed by your attempts to read the Polings’ minds. Hannah Poling had a genuine problem and the Polings were compensated. That the anti-vaxxers misquote, distort and lie about her condition is hardly the fault of her parents.

  44. #44 herr doktor bimler
    November 19, 2013

    people who throw red meat to the hyenas of the anti-vax movement.

    Hey, leave hyenas out of it. They may not be particularly admirable or sympathetic, but Evolution has more important things to do than worry about creating edifying bestiary-style parables for human behaviour.

  45. #45 Krebiozen
    November 19, 2013

    PGP,

    I’m most familiar with oxytocin as a way to slutshame; you know, the ‘you bond forever with sexual partners so keep shut until you’re married’ bullshite.

    That might actually be true for mongamous prairie voles, but in humans? I’m very sceptical. There is plenty of evidence it does have some effects on emotional bonding, independent of efforts to use them to support various moral causes.

    The gut-brain hypothesis is another case of shady messengers; since I’ve only ever heard of it around Age of Autism it probably isn’t of any scientific validity.

    If you’re referring to this as a cause of autism, I agree entirely. The term ‘gut-brain hypothesis’ is sometimes used in other contexts too, referring to the idea that there is communication between the brain and the gut that leads to functional gut disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, for example.

  46. #46 Greg
    November 19, 2013

    OMG — is Narad and PGP actually disagreeing. Is judgement day here? Are we seeing fire and brimstone? Will there be earthquakes, volcanoes, oceans rising? Could it be — a dissension in RI’s echo chamber?

  47. #47 Greg
    November 19, 2013

    @PGP

    “I’m sure you’re aware of my views on romance and pair-bonding (basically, they’re poison pills.)”

    Actually PGP, I am not aware of your views on romance and pair-bonding. ‘Poison pills’ — what gives? Reflecting on other personalities here at RI, I completely overlooked you. Would you like to open up a little about yourself? Maybe I can help you overcome your obvious jaded views.

  48. #48 Greg
    November 19, 2013

    “I’m most familiar with oxytocin as a way to slutshame”

    What is PGP talking about? Anyone?

  49. #49 Denice Walter
    November 19, 2013

    @ PGP:

    Just because advocates use biological concepts for political or social engineering purposes doesn’t mean that the substances they refer to don’t exist or have any effects. There’s research about oxytocin, you know.

    Remember that biology is not destiny but it’s also not nothing. Life is complex. So is society.

    In other antivax news ( and the other side of the bias coin)-

    Julie O. ( AoA) carps about the powers-that-be blaming the “white, suburban” mothers who rebel against their Authoritah.

    The most interesting thing about the post- which comes off totally as expected ( if you read TMR, Nurture Parenting or hear Fearless Parent)- is that they allow our own Chris Hickie to comment. Then they all chime in- I wonder if they’ll allow him to retort?

    -btw- I was thinking about Dr Chris when I listened to a tape of Null’s latest Talkback ( this past Sunday @ PRN, last 15 minutes or so) in which he detailed how he responded to a doctor who attacked his views after a showing of his latest anti-vax film- or course we only have his ( and his accomplice’s) word on how the interaction proceeded BUT the rant was a model of woo backlash to reason. It included such gems as “I’m a researcher”, “Doctors do as they’re told” and “What about Vioxx?”

  50. #50 Narad
    November 19, 2013

    I’m most familiar with oxytocin as a way to slutshame; you know, the ‘you bond forever with sexual partners so keep shut until you’re married’ bullshite. Therefore, since the messengers are untrustworthy….

    If you can’t see the logical problem here, you’re in no position to be complaining about crappy messengers.

  51. #51 Calli Arcale
    November 19, 2013

    Greg:

    Actually PGP, I am not aware of your views on romance and pair-bonding. ‘Poison pills’ — what gives? Reflecting on other personalities here at RI, I completely overlooked you. Would you like to open up a little about yourself? Maybe I can help you overcome your obvious jaded views.

    *gets popcorn*

  52. #52 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 19, 2013

    Kreb and MI Dawn: I’m most familiar with oxytocin as a way to slutshame; you know, the ‘you bond forever with sexual partners so keep shut until you’re married’ bullshite.

    Apparently we don’t travel in even remotely the same circles because I’ve never heard oxytocin referred to in this way. And the more I try to think about the phrase in quotes the less I understand what it’s supposed to mean. I’m befuddled.

  53. #53 lilady
    November 19, 2013

    I just read Julie’s AoA post on “white educated women” and Dr. Chris’ comment.

    Does this mean that Dr. Chris is not impressed with those white educated women’s mommy intuition to not vaccinate?

    Speaking about mommy intuition…I wonder why Dr. Jay hasn’t posted on RI or on SBM lately.

  54. #54 Lawrence
    November 19, 2013

    @PGP – yes, I’ve never heard of it used or referred to in that manner either….there is always a problem with abuse (and in some communities, it is very, very had)….but perhaps you are going a bit overboard in the narrative….

  55. #55 Denice Walter
    November 19, 2013

    @ Mephistopheles:

    I’ve actually heard some variants upon this theme-
    women’s bodies( including hormones) are created to serve particular purposes, it’s all in the lord’s plan, those who deviate from from the norm are accursed etc I can see how she got angered by strident proselytisation..
    Again I can’t imagine a substanial proportion of the population *believing* in this but then I live in one of gthe last untainted refuges for liberals.

  56. #56 Politicalguineapig
    November 19, 2013

    Greg: This is the one and only time I respond about personal stuff, so listen up, blackheart. Narad and I actually disagree quite a lot on non-medical stuff. I used to haunt political blogs, which is where I first heard of oxytocin. They were very useful in keeping track of your Saint Michelle.

    The rest? Nah, you don’t get to hear that. I don’t indulge in emotions around bullies.

  57. #57 palindrom
    November 19, 2013

    Is it possible that oxytocin and oxycontin are being confused here? I’ve never heard of oxytocin abuse being ‘very, very bad’ in some communities. Inducing labor isn’t generally percieived as a fabulous rush …

  58. #58 Krebiozen
    November 19, 2013

    palindrom,
    I may be taking you a little too seriously here but…

    Is it possible that oxytocin and oxycontin are being confused here?

    Nope. Some of these hormones have secondary effects on consciousness and mood as well as their primary hormonal effects. For example the closely related vasopressin (aka anti-diuretic hormone ADH) has effects on alertness and memory. I used to buy it as a nasal spray years ago as a sort of ‘smart drug’ – it certainly seemed to instantly clear my mind and make studying easier, especially after using alcohol and, allegedly, other substances. That may sound odd but I found it useful to be able to go out, have a few drinks with some friends, then clear my head and study when I got home.

    “Oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security”, so its release after orgasm and childbirth is supposed to have effects on emotional bonding.

    The abuse referred to is of imposing moral values on people based on the biological effects of these hormones e.g. it’s ‘natural’ to emotionally bond with a sexual partner, therefore monogamy is natural, therefore the Bible is literally true, therefore burn the witch (or something like that).

  59. #59 Calli Arcale
    November 19, 2013

    palindrom — no, ti’s oxytocin being discussed, not oxycontin. (Though you do remind me of this lovely story years back about some burglars who broke into a veterinary clinic and stole oxytocin, presumably thinking it was oxycontin.)

    Oxytocin is, like many hormones, multi-function. It induces labor, but it also is involved in the milk let-down reflex and in orgasm. It seems to have some connection to the ability to form social bonds, though exactly how that works is very much unclear. Not that that has stopped anyone from taking that idea and stampeding with it. For instance, there is a claim that autism might be an oxytocin deficiency, or the result of too much or too little oxytocin earlier in life. In particular, some of the blame-doctors-for-autism crowd have shifted from vaccines to blaming induction of labor. And as alluded to above by PGP and others, there have been some particularly odious claims that actually manage to go even further afield of the evidence by implying that women who are not in “traditional” gender roles might be denying themselves the benefits of oxytocin — basically, it’s one way to confirm their prejudice of non-traditional women as grumpy old windbags, while reinforcing their belief in traditional gender roles, without the bother of having to think about it very much. I don’t think this is very commonplace; most people who object to non-traditional gender roles don’t feel the need for a biological argument. But some do.

  60. #60 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    November 19, 2013

    Heh; I should’ve known Krebiozen would explain it better. 😉

  61. #61 janet
    at work
    November 19, 2013

    janet <—–grumpy old windbag
    🙂

  62. #62 greg
    November 19, 2013

    Things are starting to come into focus. First there were those who got all testy about me asking Chris about her sex. Then others pointed out that my SNL spoof touched on lesbianism. Now we have PGP touching on gender issues.

    Are there matters here that need to be discussed? Look- I have complex views on many issues. Still, I am only here to take you guys to task for pushing poisons on innocent, defenseless kids

  63. #63 palindrom
    November 19, 2013

    Calli and Krebiozen — thanks to both of you for taking the time to explain that! My wife is in the OB field, and all I’d heard about oxytocin was that it was used to induce labor.

    I too had heard the story about the confused burglars. Priceless!

    A little along those lines, an oldish joke relates the apocryphal story of a briefing in the Bush White House in which W is informed that Cheney has angina. “That can’t be true!” exclaims Bush. “Men do not have anginas!”

    But then, he’s informed that Cheney has “acute angina”, and he gets even more confused.

  64. #64 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    November 19, 2013

    @Julian Frost

    Sorry for getting back to you late (and maybe someone else already responded), but the link to the letter from Zimmerman is in Greg’s post upthread, at #117. Buried in the pages (and pages and pages) of Hazelhurst’s presentation is the letter from Zimmerman to which Greg referred.

  65. #65 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    November 19, 2013

    To those fortunate enough not to have been exposed to the Men’s Rights Movement and other attempts to keep women in their place, oxytocin plays a prominent part in their misuse of Evolutionary Psychology. (Is there a legitimate use?)

    It’s one of the many hormone-based just-so stories that explain the natural barefoot-and-pregnant state of women and why their fuzzy pink ladybrains couldn’t possibly have anything to contribute to the discussion when Dudes are Dudifying their full Dudeliness on a problem.

    IOW: “There, there, now—Dudes are talking, wiminz are slaves to their hormones; it’s evolution! Nothing can be done about it! Now go make me a sammich!”

  66. #66 herr doktor bimler
    November 19, 2013

    one of the many hormone-based just-so stories that explain the natural barefoot-and-pregnant state of women and why their fuzzy pink ladybrains couldn’t possibly have anything to contribute to the discussion

    This did not stop MRA / Evo-psychists from arguing that wimmenz need additional oxytocin from sperm to keep them happy.

  67. #67 Denice Walter
    November 19, 2013

    I would have guessed that Krebiozen would know all about the relationship between cognition and various substances. Not all of my familiarity is due to book larning.

    My friend John, was totally brilliant but felt he needed assistance prior to exams: he, gay and moderately thin, asked a doctor for meds to lose weight. The doctor says he really doesn’t need to lose any weight so he shoots back without missing a beat- ” But I’m supposed to model for a new designer!” He got the meds. He also enlisted the aid of (( shudder)) nicotine.

    I have experimented with different combinations myself and have found that alcohol, caffeine and sinus de-congestants really helped my writing. I do actually have sinus problems.

  68. #68 Alain
    November 19, 2013

    The videos never were “taken down”; AoA wasn’t hosting them. They were both (streaming and the 1.7 GB version that I mentioned before) being living at Google Docs and Drive (respectively), and they’re both sitting right where they were before.

    Thanks Narad 😀

    Now it’s up on youtoob:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hox1gAou5Q

    Enjoy 😀

    Alain

  69. #69 Krebiozen
    November 19, 2013

    Calli,

    Heh; I should’ve known Krebiozen would explain it better.

    Au contraire, I think between us we we covered it very nicely – I omitted the autism link.

  70. #70 Krebiozen
    November 19, 2013

    Denice,
    Vasopressin doesn’t have stimulant effects like amphetamines (or pseudoephedrine or caffeine for that matter), it doesn’t feel like taking a drug at all. It simply clears the brain of any fog; some of this may be a placebo effect, of course, but the science appears to support my subjective experience, in regard to improved retention of learned material anyway.

    Since it’s a natural hormone, and the doses in a nasal spray are quite small, it seems unlikely it could be harmful. Funnily enough at the time I was using it I shared a house with a nurse who suffered from diabetes insipidus which is treated with vasopressin, and we both stored our vasopressin sprays in the same fridge. He told me had never noticed its psychoactive effects; it is that subtle*.

    I can’t resist relating an amusing anecdote – back when I was using vasopressin, the 20-something-year-old son of some friends of mine stayed at my home one weekend during a music festival taking place locally. When he returned from an afternoon of drinking and indulging in (no doubt) various other substances, he remembered that I had told him my vasopressin spray could instantly sober a person up. I assume he didn’t believe me, because he insisted on giving it a try, and was quite upset that the altered state he had spent so much time and money achieving was dissipated in an instant. “What’s the point of a drug that sobers you up?” he asked.

    * This was a Scottish nurse who didn’t drink, by the way, astonishing but true.

  71. #71 Krebiozen
    November 19, 2013

    I did say that using vasopressin is probably harmless, but I feel obliged to add that I meant occasional use in small doses. It has been linked to seizures, hyponatremia and death when used in large doses for long periods.

  72. #72 Denice Walter
    November 19, 2013

    Kreb, we both have interesting friends.

  73. #73 lilady
    November 19, 2013

    So the thread has devolved to anecdotes, eh?

    Oxytocin and Prolactin are the hormones responsible for milk letting down. Hearing your infant cry causes your milk to letdown.

    http://breastfeeding.about.com/od/CommonProblems/a/The-Let-down-Reflex.htm

    So there I was, out for dinner with dear hubby and a group of friends at a very large seafood restaurant. I had breastfed my daughter just before we departed home and left an ample supple of breast milk in the refrigerator and freezer, for my mother to feed her.

    Who could have predicted that someone brought an infant into that restaurant? Who knew that hearing that infant cry, would cause my milk to letdown?

    Embarrassing? Yes, at first. Then we all started laughing, as the milk poured out of my breasts, soaked the nursing pads and my bra and ran down the front of my blouse…all because another infant was crying.

  74. #74 Narad
    November 19, 2013

    Thanks Narad 😀

    Now it’s up on youtoob

    I hope you didn’t have to bother reencoding it.* But anyway, somebody’s got a lot of f*cking nerve.

    Addendum, November 19, 2013: Despite Age of Autism removing the video, it remains online after all. A commenter here [viz., Jake’s place] has posted the link. It has not been posted on Age of Autism.

    * Oh, wait, I didn’t mention where the full file lives, now did I? No doubt Jake’s sleufmmenter Sarah would be able to cough this up in short order.

  75. #75 herr doktor bimler
    November 20, 2013

    I used to buy [vasopressin] as a nasal spray years ago as a sort of ‘smart drug’

    In popular culture at least, that was a feature of 1990s post-humanism — Bruce Sterling and Warren Ellis thought they were totally cutting edge when they wrote characters in (respectively) ‘Schizmatrix’ and ‘Lazarus Churchyard’, using vasopressin for just that purpose.
    Clearly both are modelled on Krebiozen.

  76. #76 skeptiquette
    USA
    November 21, 2013

    Hi Krebozien

    Firstly, it seems to me that increased awareness and widened diagnostic criteria are very probably sufficient to explain the increased numbers of autism diagnoses we see. Calli has explained why we may not have been as aware of autistic individuals some years ago. Studies looking at autistic adults, and the reduction in the numbers of children diagnosed with intellectual impairment suggest that the numbers of autistic individuals is stable. Looking for “root causes” for a phenomenon that does not exist is pointless.

    I would be interested on your take of the following article:

    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111102/pdf/479022a.pdf

    It seems like a balanced article and captures some of the thoughts that I have had when reading various debates over the increasing prevalence of autism.

    Specifically, what do you think of Bearman’s work on the subject?

    And what evidence plays the strongest in your disagreement with:

    “But many researchers now say that at least part of the rise in autism is real and caused by something in the environment. Rather than quibbling over recounts they are focusing on finding the causes.”

    (if this is even accurate, which I am unsure of since there is no reference)

    This last bit is something that has always permeated my thinking on the subject. Basically, we know that there is a fairly high incidence of autism and that some of these autistics suffer quality of life issues (I realize some don’t and would never want to change anything for the world, which is perfectly fine. I am also not saying anyone is damaged or less of a human being.) and that looking for root causes may help alleviate or prevent some of the more severe and debilitating cases of autism. I am curious, since the consensus science points towards a multifactorial etiology of autism implicating both genes and environment, whether you support research which explores environmental contribution to autism?

    Thanks for your time.

    Skeptiquette

  77. #77 Denice Walter
    November 21, 2013

    @ Skeptiquette:
    If you don’t mind my take
    ( I seem to have lost my earlier response so I’ll be briefer)

    I think that EVENTUALLY we’ll see a picture emerge like that for schizophrenia – altho’ not exactly the same environmental causes BUT very early enivromental causes- pre- and peri- natal ( see schizophrenia.com/ causation).

    Already we’ve explored ideas along these lines for autism: parental age, mother’s obesity, urban enviroment, early and late term delivery, mother’s lack of particular nutrients during pregnancy etc.

    I wouldn’t be surprised by a model that included genetics plus events that occured during gestation and perhaps complications during birth. NOT vaccines and antibiotics given to the child at age 12 months.

  78. #78 skeptiquette
    November 21, 2013

    As usual your take is always appreciated, Denice.

    I agree with you that the picture that is emerging for many neuro-disorders is consistent with what has been seen in Schizophrenia– A Genetic, environmental and developmental model of etiology that starts in utero.

    However, I’m curious (not convinced) about how post natal development could play into this model. Seeing how the core symptoms of Autism are defined by behaviors that develop postnatally –speech deficits, social interaction deficits, limited interest in activities– I am cautious to preclude any post natal contribution.

  79. #79 Denice Walter
    November 21, 2013

    @ skeptiquette:

    Often the neurological *physical* bases necessary for acquiring and developing these skills – in speech, social interaction, general and social cognition- are indeed what is affected pre- and peri-natally – including the genetic influences ‘unfolding’. The effects aren’t always immediately apparentt since month old infants don’t speech or socialise with adults or peers.

    Here’s a more extreme example:
    children appear to be developing normally or nearly so BUT-
    during adloescence and early adulthood, they begin to behave differently, have odd ideas, lose academic and daily living skills and report troubling symptoms. Of course, I’m talking about schizophrenia.

    In earlier days, differing theories hypothesised causation as occuring post- natally or even close in time to the perceived first symptoms- perhaps disappointment in love, parental or instructional pressures or the well-known ‘schizophrenogenic mother’s” actions or erraticism in childhood caused the illness.

    HOWEVER we know now that genetics play an important role as do very early environmental events ( e.g. mother having an infection during preganancy, birth difficulties) and that early indicators of the condition may be observed: videos of children show differences in motion, school records show differences in achievement and LDs may have been diagnosed prior to the diagnosis of a SMI. There is also a whole list of social indicators which may predict later SMI.

    Similarly, there are also very early indicators of ASD diagnosis at a later age: patterns of gaze, head size, intra-facial proportions, brain and brain wave differences, less reaching out to caregivers etc. These occur prior to the time period when autism is usually first suspected.

  80. #80 Denice Walter
    November 21, 2013

    That should be SPEAK

  81. #81 Krebiozen
    November 21, 2013

    skeptiquette,

    I would be interested on your take of the following article:

    I am familiar with that article, but I’m not convinced by its arguments that actual prevalence of autism and ASDs is rising. Studies such as this one in the UK, which unexpectedly found an unexpectedly high prevalence of autism among adults, suggest to me that if prevalence is increasing, it is at a rate far lower than the increase in diagnoses suggests.

    Models looking at diagnostic substitution can account for a large portion of the rise, and I think that the reduced stigma associated with a diagnosis of an ASD as compared with “mental retardation” (for example) easily accounts for the rest, though that is hard to prove.

    Of course we should look for environmental causes of ASDs, though the great majority of the evidence seems to me to point to these being prenatal, and we shouldn’t close the door on postnatal causes either, though vaccines seem vanishingly unlikely as an important cause except perhaps in rare cases.

    However, I think it is very important to be sure we are seeing an effect before we start looking for a cause – if we restrict our search for environmental factors to those to which mothers and children have had increased exposure i.e. if we accept the idea that prevalence is really increasing, we may miss something important that is constant or even perhaps decreasing.

  82. #82 Krebiozen
    November 21, 2013

    I meant to address this specifically:

    Specifically, what do you think of Bearman’s work on the subject?

    I think it looks solid, and makes sense to me. So far he has accounted for more than 50% of the increase in diagnoses – more than 25% is accounted for by a reduction in MR diagnoses alone – and he expects to be able to account for the remainder.

    This more recent study also co-authored by Bearman, found cohort effects consistent with increasing social awareness of autism.

  83. #83 skeptiquette
    Middle America
    November 27, 2013

    Denice-

    You opined that eventually we may see a picture (of autism etiology) emerge like that for schizophrenia and went into a bit more detail in a second response to me.

    However, I think you have a misconception of what is known now WRT schizophrenia. The picture that is emerging is that of a two-hit hypothesis, which postulates that an early life (in utero or early childhood) stressor or immune event coupled with a genetic predisposition can prime the nervous system and result in either abnormal development before clinical diagnoses OR normal development with a later life event (during adolescence) triggering the onset of schizophrenia.

    This quote from a recent paper sums it up more clearly:

    What is emerging is a picture of schizophrenia as a dynamic bio-logical disorder. The two-hit hypothesis emphasizes that an insult during the prenatal or early life stages may prime the nervous system to develop either: (1) abnormally, such that functioning is noticeably disordered even before individuals are diagnosed with a schizophrenia-spectrum disorder or (2) normally, but is primed such that a second event later in life (such puberty or later life immune attack or a significant life stressor) disrupts neurological processes. What is also emerging is that abnormalities in glutamate signaling and microglial activity may be inherently intertwined in this process.

    Inflammation and the two-hit hypothesis of schizophrenia. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 2013 Article In Press.

    What evidence or research is most convincing to the idea that autism is genetically and/or prenatally determined and that there is no post natal contribution?

    Remember, I don’t hold the idea that a prenatal and post natal contributions are mutually exclusive. On the contrary, I think the most plausible idea right now is that of the “small nudges” hypothesis, which postulates that many small genetic and environmental factors (pre-natal and early in post natal development) nudge the individual towards an autism phenotype.

  84. #84 Sarah A
    November 27, 2013

    I’m not an expert on autism, but I found this article particularly convincing as evidence that whatever causes of autism aren’t genetic must act early in pregnancy. Among other things, they review the literature on teratogens which are known to cause autism only in the first 8 weeks post conception. The same teratogens will cause other birth defects, but not autism, if the mother is exposed later in gestation.

  85. #85 Denice Walter
    November 27, 2013

    Skeptiquette:

    You miss the entire point:

    both situations (1 and 2 as described ) involve an underlying condition- ” an insult during the pre-natal or early life stages may prime the nervous system to develop” in either of those two ways- in other words, schizophrenia doesn’t just appear out of nowhere but has to be set up early.

    During adolescence/ puberty many changes occur neurologically.

  86. #86 skeptiquette
    November 27, 2013

    Denice:

    Yep, you’re right I did miss your entire point above… Sorry about that and thanks for pointing that out.

    I also don’t think that it just appears out of nowhere, like I said there is likely a G X E interaction that STARTS in utero.

    What I was trying to clarify is that sometimes a G xE interaction in utero is not sufficient, but requires a further insult post natally to actually trigger schizophrenia.

    As a hypothetical example, take a set of twins that have a predisposition genetically towards schizophrenia and also had an immune insult during a developmentally sensitive time frame pre natally (they are both primed in other words). Then, let’s say these two twins are given up for adoption and one twin goes into a loving caring home where there is a very low stress level, whereas the other goes onto a home that turns out to be a high stress situation. During puberty, another developmentally sensitive time frame, the child in the high stress home continues to experience an extremely high load of stress, while the other twin does not.

    Is it possible for the low stress twin to show no signs of schizophrenia, and the high stress twin to develop full blown schizophrenia?

    I would venture to say yes, but would be interested in your response.

    BTW, are there any twin studies like this that you are aware of?

  87. #87 Denice Walter
    November 28, 2013

    @ skeptiquette:

    Altho’ i can’t cover the entire subject here- OBVIOUSLY….
    a good start might be looking at causal factors @ schizophrenia.com – see section about stress.

    Also the work of Fuller Torrey on heritability/ twins and SMI using data from places like Denmark.

  88. #88 skeptiquette
    November 28, 2013

    @ Denice

    I didn’t expect you to cover the entire subject, obviously, it’s a blog not a dissertation. A single sentence would probably have been sufficient.

    Thanks for the website and the other reference, I’ll take a look.

  89. #89 Krebiozen
    November 28, 2013

    skeptiquette,

    What evidence or research is most convincing to the idea that […] there is no post natal contribution?

    I think you are asking the wrong question. I think it is more useful to look at what evidence there is for a post-natal contribution to the etiology of autism. The evidence I am aware of is consistent with the idea that autism is determined prenatally, but that environmental factors may have an effect on its course.

    There is the increase in apparent incidence of autism, of course, but as we have discussed it seems entirely possible that this can be entirely explained by changes in definition, wider awareness and a greater willingness to accept or even seek a diagnosis.

    We often see people trying to find possible ways in which autism could be caused by environmental factors (usually meaning vaccines), and because it is difficult to prove a negative it is difficult to offer definitive evidence that this cannot be true. I think we need to step back, look at the research into autism and the epidemiological studies that have been done and see where they are pointing. When we do so, I think it is clear that almost everything is pointing towards a genetic cause which may be influenced by pre-natal environmental factors, and little if anything is pointing to post-natal effects.

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