Respectful Insolence

Just three days ago, I updated my ongoing series How “They” View “Us.” This time around, I used Mike Adams’ likening of various pro-science activists, including Steve Novella and myself, among others, to Nazis and compiling what appeared to be a hit list. In the process, I also discussed the antivaccine movement, in particular Age of Autism regular Kent Heckenlively’s fantasies of being Aragorn, son of Arathorn, doing battle with the forces of Mordor at the Black Gate. (I also just recalled in the past that he’s likened his struggle to that of Ann Frank in the past as well.) In both cases, that of Mike Adams and that of Kent Heckenlively, “they” (advocates of pseudoscience and quackery) view “us” (defenders of science) as pure evil. Only the choice of metaphors differed. Adams compared us to Nazis, while Heckenlively envisioned us as the all-powerful, all-evil Dark Lord from a classic epic fantasy novel turned into a movie trilogy. Obviously, they, by contrast, were the heros.

Just yesterday, I saw more of the same from a different denizen of that wretched hive of scum and quackery, but from a different angle. Dan “Where are the autistic Amish?” Olmsted, he who appears to have made up the claim that the Amish don’t vaccinated and don’t get autism out of whole cloth based on his own faulty reporting, is apparently very, very unhappy that his fellows are being criticized for harassing a bunch of high school student moviemakers. It’s the same group of student filmmakers whom I praised for their efforts to make a film about vaccines and vaccine rejectionism and whose efforts resulted in a pro-vaccine film. That film, Invisible Threat, has riled the antivaccine movement, leading to attacks and a press release that accused the students of, basically, being tools of adults with an agenda.

Most recently, Kevin Drum noted that a screening of Invisible Threat had resulted in “a flurry of frightening phone calls and Internet comments directed at CHSTV.” As a result, Drum noted that “thanks to the McCarthyite cretins in the murderous vaccinations-cause-autism movement, to this day the documentary has barely been seen outside the confines of the school.” It was that bit about “McCarthyite cretins” (referring to Jenny McCarthy, of course) and the “murderous vaccinations-cause-autism movement” did not sit well with Olmsted, who melted down:

I’ve had it with the anti-American bile spewing from that leftist rag Mother Jones magazine – inciting murderous jihadis. These cretins need to shut up and stop killing people.

Oh wait, that’s not what I really wanted to say. I wanted to say, the language being used against vaccine safety advocates is really getting out of control, and a recent example is Mother Jones, which referred this week to the “McCarthyite cretins in the murderous vaccinations-cause-autism movement.” (Jenny, meet Joe.)

Sounds a bit harsh when their own rhetoric is flung back at ‘em, doesn’t it!

Not since the White House warned Americans to “watch what they say, watch what they do” in the wake of 9/11 – before starting the stupidest, longest, most ruinous wars in U.S. history, having cowed most of the press and Congress into submission – has there been a moment like this.

Egged on by the “vaccines uber alles” forces, know-nothing folks like Mother Jones’ blogger Kevin Drum are stepping up the intemperate language to “baby killer” levels not seen since Bill Gates laid that one on Andy Wakefield. (These levels are likely to rise again with RFK Jr.’s new book, out next week, driving them into frenzy.)

Pot, meet kettle. It’s not as though Olmsted has exactly been temperate in his vicious attacks on those whom he perceives as his enemies, such as Paul Offit, Kathleen Seidel, and others. His talent for hyperbole is undiminished as well. After all, it is a bit ridiculous to compare a writer for a magazine writing something a little over-the-top about attacks on high school students about a vaccine movie and something Bill Gates said about Andrew Wakefield to the hysteria that helped fuel one of dumbest wars in our history, but Olmsted’s only getting started:

There’s been a lot of talk recently about parallels between 1914 and now, 100 years later. Here’s another one – as war fever built, free speech was suppressed under the Espionage Act. President Wilson even tried to criminalize criticism of the president. I’m sure he thought that opposing entry into the war would cost lives. Instead it probably cost us a century more of constant war.

Calling us anti-vaccine because we want a safer, saner vaccine schedule and are highly critical of current government policy is like calling Mother Jones anti-American because it wants a safer, saner country and is highly critical of current government policy.

Olmsted might have had a germ of a point there, as overwrought as it is, except for one thing. Dan Olmsted is antivaccine. AoA is antivaccine. Jenny McCarthy is antivaccine. They might have the self-image of not being antivaccine (again, remember my whole point about how they view themselves and heroic and “us” as evil), but just because they have that self-image does not make it true. Indeed, over the years, I’ve explained time and time again why the claim, which I first heard from Jenny McCarthy, that antivaccinationists are “not antivaccine but rather “pro-safe vaccine” or “fighting for vaccine safety” are nonsensical self-delusions or outright lies. It’s one of the tactics and tropes of the antivaccine movement, repeated by everyone from Barbara Loe Fisher to Jenny McCarthy to, yes, Dan Olmsted. A variant of this is to liken vaccines to cars and say that “I’m not ‘anti-car,’ I just want safer cars.” That’s not a good analogy. A better equivalent would be if they demanded absolute safety of cars and refused to use them unless GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, et al swear that they’ll never be injured in a car crash, which is exactly what Dan Olmsted does.

As if to demonstrate the truth of that observation, Olmsted proceeds to repeat the same old antivaccine nonsense that he’s been repeating all these years, just with a new twist. For example, this time, instead of the Amish, he invokes Orthodox Jewish and Arab communities:

The evidence for lower autism rates in less vaccinated populations keeps rolling in – and rolling off the backs of the media and medical establishment.

Thanks to AOA’s Adriana Gamondes for spotting this March article in the Times of Israel: “In Israel, a lower percentage of ultra-Orthodox and Arabic children are diagnosed with autism compared with the general population — and no one is quite sure why.

“That pattern, which is mirrored in Aboriginal populations in Canada, was the subject of discussion by autism researchers from the two countries at a Hebrew University symposium this week. One thing is certain, they said — when it comes to autism in both Israel and Canada, not enough is known.”

We’ve met Adriana Gamondes. She’s basically the caricature of the libertarian who’s into “health freedom” and is rabidly antivaccine. In any case, Olmsted is clearly referring to this article, which does indeed describe how autism prevalance is much lower in areas where Orthodox Jews and Arabs live, but anyone who’s paid attention to autism prevalence would know that this could well be due to less screening, fewer services, and less awareness, plus, perhaps, diagnostic substitution. In other words, it’s the same ol’, same ol’.

In any case, to Olmsted, the pushback against antivaccine pseudoscience couldn’t possibly be because antivaccine pseudoscience has contributed to declining vaccine uptake in pockets of the country where vaccination rates have fallen low enough to degrade herd immunity sufficiently to lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases like the measles. It has to be a “hate speech.” As I’ve pointed out before, this seems to be a new trend that I’ve noticed among antivaccinationists, to label criticism as “hate speech” or to hysterically liken it to things like the hysteria over 9/11, to Nazis, or to bullying. Poor Olmsted. He views himself as persecuted and the pro-vaccine, pro-science bloggers and writers as the “persecutors,” but doesn’t seem to realize that freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences due to that speech.

Comments

  1. #1 Alain
    July 28, 2014

    There was a time for which I haven’t updated my blog in a f*cking long while but I did so. Enjoy:

    http://www.securivm.ca/2014/07/another-psychopath.html

  2. #2 herr doktor bimler
    July 28, 2014

    “In Israel, a lower percentage of ultra-Orthodox and Arabic children are diagnosed with autism compared with the general population — and no one is quite sure why.

    Evidently whatever the reason, it’s not absence of vaccinations:

    Ha’aretz reports:
    The report found that 94 percent of Arab families vaccinate their children against hepatitis A, compared to 80 percent of Jewish families. The immunization rate against polio is 88 percent for Arabs and 78 percent for Jews.

    But vaccination against certain diseases, such as meningitis and the combined DPT inoculation against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, is virtually universal in both communities. And despite the disparities between Arabs and Jews with respect to some vaccinations, the overall childhood vaccination rate here is high.

    Olmstead is not even bothering to try making up the missing half of his syllogism. He is relying on his readers to fill in the gaps with their own stereotypes. “Oh, Ultraorthodox Jews, Arabs, hurr hurr hurr”.

  3. #3 Brian Deer
    July 28, 2014

    No. You are quite wrong, Orac. Dan Olmsted is a great man. Not only has he discovered the cause of autism – a far more intractable riddle even than the cause of Crohn’s disease, which, of course, was discovered by Andrew Wakefield some 20 years ago – but he has also discovered the cause of schizophrenia and polio as well. No small achievement for someone with no medical or scientific training.

    You may think that he was only ever a fourth-rate journalist, holding one of the lowliest desk jobs in second-rank media outlets but, since being let go by the Rev Moon’s agency, he has blossomed into a titan among pygmies.

    Mr Olmsted need only drive through a town to ascertain its prevalence of autism, or read an article to establish the genesis of baffling clusters of neurological and behavioural challenges. Poor saps like me who toil away for years with doctors, scientists, editors, lawyers and vexatious litigants, gathering thousands of documents to prove, say, wholesale fraud, can only look with awe at such achievement.

    Surely you’ve read some of his wry little homilies, easily dispensing with the pitiful efforts, feeble intellects and venal morality, of tens of thousands of biomedical researchers and hundreds of thousands of clinicians. When research gets tough, call for Dan Olmsted. He knows already, don’t you know?

    Of course, data suggests that a clear majority of his blog’s visitors go there with much the light spirit of mystified hilarity that England’s Victorian middle class once visited the great lunatic asylums. But do not underestimate this man.

    Even now, I would think that the Andrew Wakefield Award for Living off the Parents of Disabled Children must surely have his name on it. And he’s got plenty of empty sideboard to display it.

  4. #4 Dorit
    July 28, 2014

    @herr doktor bimler: and generally, there might be other reasons that two populations that are known to have some suspicion towards state authorities and often less access to and connection with the social state series – for different reasons – have less diagnosed cases of ASD.

  5. #5 Dorit
    July 28, 2014

    And yes, Orac highlighted the lack of access; but one thing that may not be visible to outsiders is the socially-supported resistance of these populations to government intervention, and the hesitation, sometimes, to turn to authorities.

  6. #6 Yerushalmi
    July 28, 2014

    I live in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem, Israel, and you would not believe the prevalence of woo around here. One of our weekly neighborhood potato peel holders runs two dedicated woo columns: one from Dr. Mercola and another from a neighborhood homeopath who does an impressive job of writing seriously about a different pseudoscience every week. When polio was detected in Israel last year, the letters page collectively seemed to have decided that the government’s call to be vaccinated was actually an X-files-style experiment being conducted on the Israeli population. They also joined the good fight for Dr. Brzezinsky, which led to a long argument by email between me and the editor (none of which, of course, she ever agreed to publish).

    Our neighborhood pharmacy suggests homeopathy first and real drugs second, which is why I go outside the neighborhood to fill my prescriptions (I don’t want to give them my money).

    But the surprising thing is that, despite the woo, the ultra-Orthodox get vaccinated at probably the highest rates in the country, and (contrary to the stereotypes of religious Christians) that rate actually gets higher as they get more religious, with the exception of one lunatic sect that is beyond the scope of this comment.

    The reason for this is that, when it comes to vaccines, the government of Israel makes a deliberate effort to meet with the rabbis who are known as the Gdolei Hador (the “greatest of the generation”). The government presents these rabbis with the facts regarding the vaccines, and the rabbis issue a ruling to their communities – this is a matter of life and death, you must get vaccinated No Matter What. These rulings are then posted in every doctor’s office and health clinic frequented by the ultra-Orthodox, and they are taken seriously.

    As a result, the groups that march most closely in lockstep with the Gdolei Hador are those that get vaccinated at the highest rates. The particular magazine I mentioned above is part of the American immigrant subgroup of the ultra-Orthodox community, and they tend to be more independent thinkers, for good and for bad (in this case for bad).

    But for issues that aren’t as clear-cut as vaccines, and for which there aren’t explicit rulings issued by rabbis, the ultra-Orthodox tend to harbor a deep suspicion of the secular authorities. (Hence the belief in homeopathy, naturopathy, etc.) It is therefore very clear that there is going to be virtually no screening for autism in the ultra-Orthodox community.

    The Arab populations have their own dynamics with which I am less familiar, and in which politics and religion and corruption of local authorities all mix; my wife did her national service in the Health Ministry and said that they were always having problems with the shipments of vaccines to Arab schools getting stolen and sold on the black market.

  7. #7 M ikeMa
    July 28, 2014

    @Brian Deer,
    I fancy that sarcasm isn’t your first choice but well done with that snark @3.

    @Yerushalmi,
    Thanks for the perspective. We might find it more difficult to find church (or synagogue or mosque) leaders here so willing to toe the government line. As many are clearly NOT the greatest at anything, this is not a surprise.

  8. #8 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    “That pattern, which is mirrored in Aboriginal populations in Canada…”

    Likely refers to Eric Fombonne’s unpublished work with the Canadian Inuit
    http://63.131.128.66/sites/default/files/imfar/abstracts/IMFAR2006_Program.pdf

    Conclusion: Autism appears to not exist amongst Inuits from Northern Quebec. If confirmed, it would have significant implications for the genetic understanding of
    autism. In addition, as Inuits are exposed through their
    fish-eating practices to high pre- and post-natal levels of
    mercury, it would also suggest that high mercury exposure in itself does not increase the risk of autism.”

    Seems odd that Mr. Olmsted never picked up on that. Being so interested in populations without autism and all.

  9. #9 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    sorry for not closing blockquote.

  10. #10 Chris Hickie
    July 28, 2014

    When AoA keeps allowing a poster in recent “article” (I use that term generously) comments to write “Death to MMR”, well, they are anti-vaccine to the core.

    And this AM, they have a trifecta of anti-vaccine idiocy: (1) they assert they are like the recently passed actor James Garner (who helped to organize the historic March on Washington in 1963) when they speak up about “what vaccines did to our kids”, (2) vaccine-preventable diseases are trivialized to the level of dandruff, and, (3) a sibling of a young adult with autism claims medical professionals have no compassion and routinely shame parents who ask questions of treatments, including of course, vaccines.

    All three pieces of dreck again alarmingly show how dangerously warped and utterly intractable their view of reality truly is.

  11. #11 Yerushalmi
    July 28, 2014

    What’s wrong with saying “Death to MMR”? Isn’t that what the vaccine is trying to do? ;)

  12. #12 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    Chris Hickie–

    I just stopped reading AoA regularly. Every once in a while I’ll check in, but it’s just not worth the time anymore. Then again, I come at it from an autism perspective, not a public health perspective. AoA lost what little relevance they had to the autism communities long ago. And they are very repetitive. Not worth the time. For example–how exactly is the “we are like the lord of the rings” different from Kent H.’s “There’s a giant black tower that’s going to fall and we are taking it down” story of years gone by (he was talking about his optimism for winning the Omnibus Autism Proceeding).

    And Dan Olmsted resurrecting his glory days when people listened to his Amish stories? Really? In his book he was reduced to quoting Ken Reibel as a source for information about the Amish. Pretty humorous given that Ken got into this to show how poorly Olmsted had handled the Amish story.

    I’m pretty sure Olmsted didn’t originate that idea, by the way. I seem to recall the Amish and autism being brought up in a hearing or some such years before Mr. Olmsted decided to make Autism his bread and butter. And, yes, with sponsors paying $15-20k/year and advertisements pulling in more money, it really is bread and butter.

    Has anyone ever read a contributor to AoA saying they were paid for their efforts? Or do they volunteer to help the editors get paid? I do recall Kim Stagliano writing about JB Handley “hiring” her for that gig. But other than her, no one has mentioned payment?

    Age of Autism is a limited liability corporation registered to Dan Olmsted, by the way http://www.bizapedia.com/va/AGE-OF-AUTISM-LLC.html. Do they still ask for “donations”? Really? For what? To pay Olmsted to write a 20 word pseudo-column once in a while? He’s like the Linda Richmond of autism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Richman)

    “We’ve been criticized by the mainstream press. I’m very verklempt. Here’s a topic: Public health is neither public, nor health. Discuss. -O-”

    They have 8 sponsors right now. If they are all paying $15k a year (which is what SafeMinds appears to be paying), that’s $120k right there (If I recall correctly, Focus Autism paid $20k for at least one year). Then there’s ads. And do they still have Lee Silsby doing in-line ads sponsoring specific articles? That may not be making anyone rich, but if you are an ex-journalist with a book that sold a few hundred copies, it’s significant.

    I bring this up because didn’t Ms. Attkisson say that Olmsted is “independent”? But that journals like Pediatrics are not because they accept advertising?

    AoA may not be big business, but someone is making a lot more money than ever have off autism and writing. Which is to say, more than losing money.

  13. #13 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    Linda Richman, not Richmond…

  14. #14 Dorothy
    July 28, 2014

    @Yerulshami

    Thank you for your inside perspective. These comments get a bit predictable after a while and it’s nice to see something new and informative. Not to disparage regular commenters at all–just nice to see something different.

  15. #15 Dorothy
    Oz--the other one
    July 28, 2014

    I forgot “location” I wish the system would hang onto that!

  16. #16 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    “Mr Olmsted need only drive through a town to ascertain its prevalence of autism, or read an article to establish the genesis of baffling clusters of neurological and behavioural challenges.”

    For example of their efforts to discern the “genesis of baffling clusters…”

    http://www.ageofautism.com/tics-toxins-series/

    Mr. Olmsted and Mark Blaxill followed he story of a group of high school softball players who developed tics. Caused, as you can see by Mr. Olmsted’s title for the series, by toxins.

    They stopped updating the series 2 years ago. But others didn’t.
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/girl-tics-bucks-doctors-blames-lyme-disease/story?id=19128125

    While one of the students blames Lyme disease, the others were treated for conversion disorder and recovered. Yes, the diagnosis that Mr Olmsted mocked was accurate. Ironically, the focus he was giving to the topic was part of the problem. When the press went away, the therapy was able to help the students.

    But Mr. Olmsted has not seen fit to update his readers. Nor correct his mistakes. Nor apologize.

  17. #17 sadmar
    July 28, 2014

    Matt bubbalah:

    This is Linda Richman, and I have to tell you, please, enough with the Dan-is-like-Linda-already. At “Coffee Talk” those sponsors, we do not accept that. Ad-shmad, we pay for own coffee. And never in my life have I stopped at 20 words on important subjects like the genius that is Prince of Tides! I checked on this Olmstead with my docter, a miracle-worker that boy, and a ringer for a young Eliott Gould, I mean who should he look like working at Cedars-Sinai, which is where Barbra has her Women’s Cardiovascular Research program, to which I have personally donated in support of the science, because I worry how much my heart can take sometimes, like now, with this joke you make, I’m like to get the shpilkis in my venacacagazoink! Anway, my Dr. Aaron, he says where this Olmsted gets his bread, there’s no butter. And he should know, because his eyes are like butter, that boy. So I’m all verklempt you put me with this Luunification person who runs around with that tramp Jenny McCarthy, who is no Joy Behar, let me tell you. This sandwich is not Kosher, Matt! **cries into hanky**
    **looks up** No big whoop. Give a call. We’ll talk. The rest of your comment: Like Butter!

    News World Communication might be communicable, but it’s not new and The Moon is not technically a world. Discuss.

  18. #18 Denice Walter
    July 28, 2014

    I sometimes ask myself which particular personality characteristics and cognitive abilities ( or lack thereof) must be present in order for a person to truly believe that they themselves- without benefit of an appropriate education and experience in relevant areas- can DISAGREE entirely with scientific consensus on a subject.

    Seriously. Those who populat AoA and TMR as well as our alt media honchos @ NN and PRN all appear to fit this descripton perfectly.

    Of course, I’m not speaking *clinically* but more informally: if you were at a cocktail party and a person you just met stated that they totallly opposed the consensus concerning certain topics in medicine, psychology, biology or physics, what would you think CAUSED that aberrant view?
    I mean, AFTER you excused yourself and walked away.

    -btw- it should be noted that most of these purveyors of nonsense have university degrees. Believe it or not.

  19. #19 Politicalguineapig
    July 28, 2014

    Sadmar: Thanks for expanding my knowledge of trivia!

    DW: Yeah, I know they have degrees, but what mail-order institutions did they go to? Or did becoming a parent lead to the drop in apparent intelligence? (I’m sure everyone’s had that *one friend* who, after the first baby, just became insufferable if not downright dim.)

  20. #20 Politicalguineapig
    July 28, 2014

    Actually, now that I think about it, they remind me of this guy in high school. Bright guy, but vegan, oblivious to social cues, and occasionally jumping to the most insane conclusions. Like driving his dad’s garguantuan car, but not bathing for days to ‘save the planet.’

  21. #21 palindrom
    July 28, 2014

    Denice — I’ve often wondered the same thing, and in particular, about the (probably unanswerable) question of where one should draw the line between unconventional thinking and mental disorders.

  22. #22 Denice Walter
    July 28, 2014

    @ PGP:

    True but SOME of them do have real degrees- from relatively normal places- although perhaps in subjects wherein there is little need for studying science and mathematics –

    amongst those @ AoA, TMR and related sites: Heckenlively is a lawyer/ teacher, Kuo Habakus has business related degrees, MacNeil has social work degrees, Kennedy is a lawyer, Blaxill and Larson have business related degrees- Taylor and Wright have degrees as well. I’m sure that Stagliano and Olmsted have something or other.

    These people aren’t 25 or 30** years old, so we can’t bemoan the current sate of higher education.

    Right. I know. Frightening, isn’t it?

    ** except for Jake

  23. #23 Denice Walter
    July 28, 2014

    the current STATE… *pardonnez moi*

    @ palindrom:

    That’s a difficult question that many have pondered:
    I’d have to consider how well a person functions in day-to-day life as part of the equation, not just the delusional aspects of odd belief.

    Many of these people seem to live somewhat normal lives – they have homes, partners, drive cars, a few work, they aren’t being locked up for behaving oddly.
    I imagine that many of them ‘have help’ from compliant family members and spouses/ partners.

  24. #24 Eric Lund
    July 28, 2014

    Yeah, I know they have degrees, but what mail-order institutions did they go to?

    It is frighteningly easy, and has been for some decades, to get a four-year degree from many reputable universities without actually learning anything useful. As Denice says, many majors do not have any significant mathematics or science requirements. Furthermore, some that do (*cough* economics *cough*) have a reputation for favoring elegant theories that do not stand up to real-world scrutiny.

    Of course, there are some non-reputable universities out there (e.g., Liberty University), and while it is less common (because more easily detected) than it once was, some people claim degrees they never earned (e.g., this is why one former MIT admissions dean is a former dean). And of course there are some people with degrees from the likes of Nocturnal Aviation University. But AFAICT most of the prominent anti-vaxers have degrees from reputable universities.

  25. #25 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    sadmar/Linda,

    Sorry to liken you to that man. You are like a big stick of buttah. Him? He’s…well, we won’t say.

  26. #26 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    Denice Walter,

    I believe Ms. Wright and Ms. Taylor both have degrees in social work, Ms. Taylor a masters. Mr. Olmsted has a journalism degree from Yale. Ms. Stagliano I don’t know or don’t recall.

    Educated and/or highly intelligent people make mistakes all the time. Sometimes they make the mistake of thinking that being intelligent and/or educated is somehow protective against making mistakes.

    If I were to jump into social work, get my University of Google degree and start making proclamations, I bet I’d make some mistakes. I’ve made enough mistakes in the areas where I have a high level of expertise.

    I think people here often make the mistake of assuming that because someone is wrong, that person’s education was not excellent or they are not intelligent.

    Not only is it a mistake, it plays right into their narrative. “Here I stand before you, telling you the truth. Do I sound like I’m uneducated? Unintelligent? “Crazy”? No, I’m a thoughtful person who has researched the information. The people on the other side attack us, with these terms…”

    With the whole implication that since their critics are wrong about this, this must be wrong about other things. And “you too can be smarter than the ‘skeptics’ with all their degrees and science.”

  27. #27 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    Consider an extreme case–my kid.

    There is no way in hell that someone could convince my kid that vaccines cause autism Just impossible. Get out the full court press of all the science they have. Not going to work. Get the charming Andrew Wakefield to work his magic. No dice.

    My kid just doesn’t get it. Plain and simple.

    These people have gifts. As do we. Many people look on the term “gifted” as a complement. It isn’t. One doesn’t earn intelligence. One doesn’t earn intelligence just as intellectual disability isn’t something to be disdained. It just is.

    As the parent of a very disabled kid, it pains me to see people throwing away gifts. Andrew Wakefield could still do something valuable in this world, for example. And, let’s face it, someone else should have been given his spot in school and his position at the Royal Free. He took society’s resources as well as his own and squandered them.

    I have far more respect and admiration for the intellectually disabled person who is a good person than the highly intelligent person who is wasting his/her life.

  28. #28 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    by “these people” I mean those promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism.

  29. #29 Opus
    Early 20th century USA
    July 28, 2014

    Denise asked: “. . . which particular personality characteristics and cognitive abilities ( or lack thereof) must be present in order for a person to truly believe that they themselves- without benefit of an appropriate education and experience in relevant areas- can DISAGREE entirely with scientific consensus on a subject.”

    My brother-in-law certainly falls into that category. He works part-time for a hyperbaric treatment center run by a doctor whose name would be familiar to many long-time readers of this blog. He BELIEVES all that crap about HBOT curing autism, cancer etc. In his case I think the root cause is need to feel that he is not a failure: if he can see through the pharma conspiracy to which the rest of the world is oblivious then he is much smarter than all the rest of us. By learning the complexities of a scam treatment he has mastered a body of knowledge that has eluded the rest of us. In real life he has a two-year degree from a public college, hasn’t had a full-time job in a few years and depends on his wife to support the family.

    Just my two cents worth. . .

  30. #30 Dangerous Bacon
    July 28, 2014

    I keep on writing antivaccine screeds
    Hoping that the world will see
    But journalism’s passed me by
    Poor, poor pitiful me

    Poor, poor pitiful me
    Poor, poor pitiful me
    That Orac won’t let me be
    Lord have mercy on me
    Woe is me

    I met an Amish girl in Ohio
    I ain’t naming names
    But it turned out she’d had all her shots
    Now ain’t that a shame
    Them pro-vaxers worked me over good
    They were a credit to their species
    They put me through some changes, Lord
    Showing that my work was feces

    Poor, poor pitiful me
    Poor, poor pitiful me
    Lord Draconis won’t let me be
    Lord have mercy on me
    Woe is me

    (apologies to Warren Zevon)

  31. #31 Narad
    July 28, 2014

    When polio was detected in Israel last year, the letters page collectively seemed to have decided that the government’s call to be vaccinated was actually an X-files-style experiment being conducted on the Israeli population.

    The upshot here may be that IPV alone won’t cut it for eradication. Israel has reinstated two doses of OPV to the childhood schedule.

  32. #32 Denice Walter
    July 28, 2014

    @ Matt Carey:

    My point exactly: even the best education is not an innoculation against accepting bad science ™. Although studying science may help somewhat, quite a few woo-meisters have medical degrees or doctorates in chemistry or biology.

    So education is wasted as well as gifts. I would tend to guess that emotional issues cloud their vision when their beloved child has serious problems and they are not able to accept it – therapists talk about conflict-free zones of functioning, which this most decidely is not. Perhaps they have longstanding emotional conflicts that pre-dispose them to this track or they are overwhelmed by the current situation of intense caretaking, dealing with schools and being disappointed by what cards life as dealt them.

    I often compare these coffee klatsch websites to group therapy gone wrong. Instead of assisting each other with realistic problem solving and being guided by rationalism, they instead enable each others’ un-realistic beliefs and plans of action. The writers serve as role models for readers. Unfortunately, TMR, Safeminds and the Canary Party ALL number psychologists and social workers amongst their principal contributors and it doesn’t seem to help them.

  33. #33 Narad
    July 28, 2014

    Apparently, Stagliano felt the need to get in on the hero-complex routine today:

    What have you done in your life – to go against the grain for RFK Thimerosal Book what is right? For me? It’s talking about vaccine injury and autism. That has meant being called “Anti-vaccine” and an “American Loon” and derided in the media (anyone remember my name splashed across the front page of the Chicago Trib for feeding my girls “toxic waste products” courtesy of Trine Tsouderos? Miss cupcake reviewer turned “science” beat writer?) I am proud to make people uncomfortable.

    Front page, page 10, whatever.

  34. #34 Narad
    July 28, 2014

    ^ “grain for RFK Thimerosal Book what”

  35. #35 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    I didn’t find the phrase “toxic waste products” in that article. Perhaps she misunderstands the use of quotation marks.

  36. #36 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    As long as OSR#1 is back in the discussion: Mr Haley got a fluff piece promoting it in an industry magazine. He’s still working on getting it approved, this time as a chelator not as a “nutritional supplement” (what is my expected intake of this chemical that never existed before? Why do I need my intake supplemented?)

    Mr. Haley claims that in the short time OSR#1 was on the market, there were $1.5M in sales.

    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2014/07/22/is-boyd-haley-resurrecting-osr1-as-a-chelator/

  37. #37 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    Just a hint–

    someone shouldn’t mention feeding their children “toxic waste products” and state that they are “proud to make others uncomfortable in the same paragraph.

  38. #38 Politicalguineapig
    July 28, 2014

    DW: True but SOME of them do have real degrees- from relatively normal places- although perhaps in subjects wherein there is little need for studying science and mathematics –

    amongst those @ AoA, TMR and related sites: Heckenlively is a lawyer/ teacher, Kuo Habakus has business related degrees, MacNeil has social work degrees, Kennedy is a lawyer, Blaxill and Larson have business related degrees- Taylor and Wright have degrees as well. I’m sure that Stagliano and Olmsted have something or other.

    Hmm. Well, at my little college, everyone, but everyone had to take at least one science course and a math course just to graduate. Didn’t matter if it wasn’t your field. I came out a little bit ahead-took two semesters of biology + labwork before changing my major. I thought most liberal arts schools did it that way.

    I’m surprised that of the above list, no one was required to sit through at least one college science course. Heck, no one seems to have taken high school biology.

    Opus: You may be onto something here, especially considering that the ‘typical anti-vaxxer’ is a middle-class woman and likely had her child late in life, sacrificing a probably very good career for a kid they see as sub-standard.

    DB: I think you owe Mary Chapin Carpenter an apology too.

  39. #39 Narad
    July 28, 2014

    I didn’t find the phrase “toxic waste products” in that article. Perhaps she misunderstands the use of quotation marks.

    Being an editorial, it’s also not bylined by “Miss cupcake reviewer.” Perhaps she was too lazy to find this, which also doesn’t include the phrase.

  40. #40 Denice Walter
    July 28, 2014

    @ PGP:

    Sure, most of them probably were forced to take a few courses in science/ mathematics- not to mention having needed them as well on a secondary school level- but it doesn’t mean that they really knew how to apply the scientiific method and understood statistical analyses/ research design.

  41. #41 Matt Carey
    July 28, 2014

    So it’s sorta like doing “air quotes”? Not a quote but a way of saying the opposite of what you are typing?

    Like, when OSR#1 was sold?
    ‘OSR#1 is a “nutritional supplement” that is “proven safe”….’

  42. #42 Narad
    July 28, 2014

    It was at least on the first page.

  43. #43 lilady
    July 28, 2014

    Need I remind you about one of the newer advertisers on AoA? and their national convention where Stagmom was the featured speaker?

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/02/vor-advocates-for-disability-rights-including-autism-specific-.html

    VOR (Voices of the Retarded) is a front for the unionized workers in the State-operated institutions for the developmentally disabled.

    Recently Marc Brandt, President of the NYS ARC commented on the closure of the four remaining institutions in NYS. Who would ever dream that anyone would be against those closures, in favor of community-based group homes which are “Right at home, right in the neighborhood”?

    http://blog.nysarc.org/2013/07/29/politics-as-it-happens-state-to-close-4-remaining-developmental-centers/

    “Tamie Hopp • a year ago

    What about the families of the affected residents who will be displaced from their homes? Doesn’t their opinion matter more than self-advocates and parents of individuals whose choices have been honored and are not, as individuals, directly impacted by these closures. I’d like to hear what affected residents and their families think and find it perplexing, frankly, that their voices were not featured as part of this announcement. http://www.vor.net

  44. #44 lilady
    July 28, 2014

    Does anyone remember (Brian Deer?), Jennifer Van Der Horst Larson? She’s the founder and owner of The Holland Center in Minnetonka Minnesota, which buys ad space on AoA:

    http://www.hollandcenter.com/home/biomedical-intervention-model-services.php

    Good grief. You have to have insurance coverage or cash to receive therapies at this “treatment center”:

    http://www.hollandcenter.com/enroll.php

  45. #45 Eric Lund
    July 28, 2014

    DB@30: <golf clap>

    PGP@38: Warren Zevon is the proper credit for that parody. YouTube’s autocompletion feature suggests that Linda Ronstadt and Terri Clark have covered this song, but I didn’t see anything about Mary Chapin Carpenter.

  46. #46 herr doktor bimler
    July 28, 2014

    Going slightly off-topic — is there any prospect of some Respectful Insolence on Ruggiero’s panaceal GcMAF cancer-curing / AIDS-curing / CFS-curing / autism-curing grift, as recently featured at Beall’s Open-Access blog and at Retractionwatch? Despite the previous coverage, it is a target-rich environment.

    Ruggiero has previously featured at RI for his AIDS-denialism. And I see that he’s collaborating with antivax loon Jeff Bradstreet — a familiar sight at RI for offering chelation and then stem-cells and now GcMAF as the one and only effective autism treatment.

  47. #47 Yerushalmi
    July 28, 2014

    @Narad: I was referring specifically to the reinstatement of the OPV. The argument in the letters page was over the government’s call for everyone to get the OPV immediately; the decision to permanently restore OPV to the vaccine schedule was made later.

  48. #48 sadmar
    July 29, 2014

    DW wrote: “I sometimes ask myself which particular personality characteristics and cognitive abilities ( or lack thereof) must be present for a person to truly believe that they – without benefit of an appropriate education and experience – can DISAGREE entirely with scientific consensus on a subject.”

    Now, while I want to salute Denise for asking just the sort of questions I think skeptics should be exploring, IMHO, there are problems with the way this question is framed. First, the issue at hand is not scientific consensus in general, but certain specific consensual findings in medical science. Second, I don’t think “disagreement” identifies the concern. ‘Lack of acceptance’ is a broader terrain than ‘disagreement’, and the public-health issue with measles may be more related to folks who don’t get their kids vaccinated because they just have ‘doubts’ etc.

    So i don’t think the issue is one of cognitive ability or personality characteristics* directly, but of frame of reference, and it’s no accident the follow-up discussion quickly turned to education. But I don’t think “bad education” is the issue either.

    I submit you won’t find an answer by looking just at the people you consider to be doing something stupid, and especially not if you frame that in terms of (however figurative) individual pathology.

    So, I submit a more productive question would be: “What conditions (not in the medical sense) contribute to the phenomena of the the refusal by significant segments of the population to fail to accept and act upon the consensual findings of researchers in SBM?”

    I have hypotheses, but do not have the time to set them forth here. Actually, I think they mostly NOT specific to findings in SBM, but some may be and it’s better to be precise.

    I’ll be back with my thoughts when I can. In the meantime, I hope some of you might find this a productive way to frame your concerns, and offer your thoughts either here or in the RI thread du jour.

    • My guess would be that most people who fail to get their children vaccinated — not the quacks or the messianic crusaders, but the folks who have been influenced by them, largely indirectly — would rate closer to ‘normal’ on a personality index than the average skeptic ‘activist defender of science.’

  49. #49 Denice Walter
    July 29, 2014

    @ sadmar:

    Let’s see if I can present what I mean more clearly:
    certain people reject/ fail to accept/ disagree with SB medical consensus on a topic/s despite being relatively un-schooled in medicine/ psychology. They *know* better.

    I venture that these people may be somewhat different from the average
    – there have been studies looking at pseudo-science acceptance and (lack of) cognitive complexity and ‘suspiciousness’- btw-
    – I wouldn’t be surprised if executive function was involved ( also see Dunning-Kruger/ self-evaluation)

    There’s an additional factor- the situation:
    many of those who reject/ disagree with SBM on vaccines have children with ( usually severe) autism. HOWEVER many other parents don’t jump aboard HMS Woo despite the severity of their children’s condition.

    THUS, *certain* people may be subject to this condition. It seems that 2 elite woo-meisters ( Adams and Null) both say that family members suffered and died because of SBM ( cancer deaths and heart attack after HRT, respectively). In addition, Adams claims to have cured himself of obesity and type 2 diabetes ( see Healthranger.com bio).

    If you read some of the TMs or AoA, you’ll find that many of these parents feel betrayed by SBM because of vaccines.
    I’d venture that this might illustrate a tendency to assign negative outcomes to the outside ( others, environment, etc) not to the self or chance. In fact, many of these advocates are incensed even by the IDEA of genetic influence, referring to it as ‘blaming parents’ ( see Ann Dachel esp).

    And I wouldn’t directly compare sceptics and anti-vax parents but think that comparing vaccinating parents and anti-vaxxers would be more informative:
    how does this group differ from other parents of kids who have ASDs?

    AND whicb people go woo if diagnosed with cancer and which don’t.

    There is a lot more but I have other tasks to finish.

  50. #50 lilady
    July 30, 2014

    I’m going to jump in here.

    My personal “belief” is that I, as a skeptic, don’t have to be an expert in the full panoply of skeptics’ subjects that are discussed on this blog or any other science blogs. My knowledge about genetically modified foods/seeds and global warming is not superb, but I’m willing to learn from bloggers and other posters. I’m smart enough to not comment too frequently on those topics.

    I have a good deal of knowledge about developmental disabilities, vaccines, infectious diseases and the anti-vaccine movement…but I also learn from others.

    I’m an amateur psychologist…because I like to know what motivates me and others. To be perfectly honest, if you have lived a long life with vast life experiences, you acquire some strictly amateur skills.

    My experiences with my developmentally disabled child are quite different from most of the other parents who blog and who post. From birth, we knew he had some major problems as opposed to other children/other parents where the diagnoses came later.

    IMO, their are some commonalities, whenever you learn that your child has special needs. There are stages of the grieving process and eventually, there should be an acceptance. For some reason, there are pieces of that process missing for some parents…which to me is very sad. It makes me angry that parents are manipulated/allow themselves to be manipulated, about the geneses of their children’s disabilities.

    Those parents, those bloggers and those posters who we have encountered are the hard core anti-vaxxers whose minds are shut and sealed in concrete vaults. I don’t expect we will ever reach them, but we can mitigate the damage they do when they attempt to recruit new followers.

    Some of the best science bloggers I know, are parents of autistic children. There’s Emily Willingham at Forbes, Matt Carey at Left Brain/Right Brain and the bloggers on The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.

  51. #51 Politicalguineapig
    July 30, 2014

    DW: I’d venture that this might illustrate a tendency to assign negative outcomes to the outside ( others, environment, etc) not to the self or chance. In fact, many of these advocates are incensed even by the IDEA of genetic influence, referring to it as ‘blaming parents’ ( see Ann Dachel esp).

    My personal guess is that it boils down to either narcissism or perfectionism. As I mentioned the ‘typical’ anti-vaxxer’ is a white suburban woman, usually a stay-at-home parent and previously had a fairly high-paying career. Such people tend to want perfection and are subject to the Marina-trench level of pressure that is modern day parenting. I think part of the blame belongs to parenting culture, as parents are pressured to make sure that their offspring take advantage of everything from piano lessons to Baby Einstein, and there’s no sympathy or love for anyone who falls behind. The parenting world belongs to the type-As.

    lilady: It makes me angry that parents are manipulated/allow themselves to be manipulated, about the geneses of their children’s disabilities.

    I feel sad for the kids, but frankly anyone who relies on feeeeliings and the non-existent ”women’s intuition’ (completely made out of whole cloth to keep women housebound) deserves what they get. Emotions are fundamentally a trap. Emily Willingham, Matt Carey and the TPGA bloggers are good examples of people who have evaded the trap and not shut off their brains when they had kids.

  52. #52 Shay
    July 30, 2014

    The parenting world belongs to the type-As.

    Says someone who doesn’t work in public health.

  53. #53 lilady
    July 30, 2014

    Shay…did you see me reply to that comment? :-)

  54. #54 Denice Walter
    July 30, 2014

    We have to remember that the TMs, JABS creatures and AoA literary raptors are an extremely select group – there’s nothing representative about them:
    -if you look at US/ UK figures very few parents don’t vaccinate ( Seth Mnookin last year: 1% and 10% selective vaccination),
    – people with strong enough anti-vax beliefs to centre their lives upon them and and proselytise their follies and fallacious arguments through posts or comments are an even smaller number.
    – they write for an audience- which means that they competitively exaggerate, try to stick out from amongst the herd and develop a recognisable persona.
    ( although sometimes their personae sound ridiculously similar- after all how easy is it to differentiate all of the Warriors and Hot MaMas from each other?)**
    Some of them even write books about it (( shudder)) See Skyhorse.

    But they really are rather loony and proud of it.

    About parents in general : we can look at trends concerning parental pushiness and perhaps more tellingly, what purchases are made and businesses founded to cater to this mindset. I currently have no figures but I’d guess that it is significant in certain middle class enclaves. Is it the norm over all, I don’t know, but I’m sure some slackers exist.

    ** -btw- there’s a new TM from the latest crop, ‘Spartan’.

  55. #55 Denice Walter
    July 30, 2014

    @ lilady:

    All people are amater psychologists: it’s part of our makeup. We need to assess and understand others’ motives in order to survive in groups- be it during the Ice Age or in the Economic Meltdown.

    I think Kelley called us “naive scientists”. It’s part of what we call social cognition, person perception and executive fx. Most people get somewhat proficient at this by adulthood HOWEVER there are quite a few who never are good at it and it can relate to problems in communication and social interaction that are lifelong as well as other issues.

    This may help explain the current rash of conspiratorial motivation analyses so prevalent on the net.

  56. #56 Interrobang
    July 30, 2014

    Just FYI I’m going to mention to contextualise what Yerushalmi said upthread — in Jewish law, it’s a positive commandment, as in a religious duty, to protect your health by pretty much any means necessary, so I’m absolutely not surprised that ultra-Orthodox rabbis would issue poskim (rulings) to the effect that their followers must be vaccinated, or that the more religious sectors would have higher vaccine uptake. (Part of that might also be that they may have less exposure to the secular world, so not quite as much chance to pick up antivaccine tropes???)

    IMNSHO, Yerushalmi is a lucky guy. (Can I ask which neighbourhood you live in? I have friends in Ramot and just on the border of Talpiot.)

  57. #57 Politicalguineapig
    July 30, 2014

    DW: if you look at US/ UK figures very few parents don’t vaccinate ( Seth Mnookin last year: 1% and 10% selective vaccination),

    That can’t be right. I assume the 10% is in the states,but even so, the number must be higher. Are there a lot of people who just didn’t get counted?

  58. #58 Denice Walter
    July 30, 2014

    @ PGP:

    Seth’s article was in Parade magazine: 1% means NO vaccines at all and 10% means some vaccines / selective vaccination ( US).

    It’s really a small number who don’t vaccinate: when we talk about areas with large numbers of un-vaccinated children even those are in single digits (e.g.Marin County).
    The numbers of in-completely vaccinated are much more.

  59. #59 Politicalguineapig
    July 30, 2014

    DW: That still seems off to me. Far too low.

  60. #60 Denice Walter
    July 30, 2014

    @ PGP:
    Take a look at the CDC’s graphs at places like:
    CDC Vaccine Coverage in the US / Imz Managers or
    CDC NIS Child 1994-2912 Figure of Percentage Vaccinated
    by age group. Doesn’t seem that terrible.

  61. #61 Shay
    July 30, 2014

    Perhaps the reason it seems like a higher number is because their kind travel in packs.

  62. #62 Denice Walter
    July 31, 2014

    Shay is correct:
    but they DO want others to believe that their numbers are higher and they constantly talk about how their followers’ numbers are growing. If you look at recent outbreaks ( e.g. in Wales) you’ll note that they occured in places with lower vaccination rates and amongst certain populations who have lower rates- it didn’t just sweep across Wales or California or Ohio or wherever.
    If rates were lower across the board, it WOULD spread.

  63. #63 Yerushalmi
    July 31, 2014

    @Interrobang:

    I live in the worst neighborhood in Jerusalem: Har Nof. I hate living here and cannot *wait* to leave.

  64. #64 Politicalguineapig
    July 31, 2014

    DW: If the rates of unvaccinated or under vaccinated people are that low, it’s good- great, even. I just said the CDC’s stats seemed a little low. (of course, statistics is the Vaccine Court of Math, 50% and a feather.)

    Shay: That’s true, and it could be throwing my perception off.

  65. #65 Denice Walter
    July 31, 2014

    Here’s another website of interest:
    Highest MMR vaccine coverage in 25 years GOV.UK

    92.3% in September 2013;
    The low was 79.9% in 2003-4.

    I suppose something must have happened that it rose.

  66. #66 Sarah A
    July 31, 2014

    Interesting – I would have thought the low would have been in 1998, right after Wakefield’s fraudulent study. Perhaps it took a few years for the hysteria to percolate through the population. Interestingly, Brian Deer’s article revealing Wakefield’s undisclosed conflicts of interest was published in 2004, so maybe that’s why rates started to rise after that year.

  67. #67 Denice Walter
    July 31, 2014

    @ Sarah A:

    If you look at the graphs and figures I quote @ # 60 ( 1993-2012) there’s a slight dip of MMR but nothing quite so clear as the pattern in the UK.

    DESPITE what anti-vaxxers tell you. Most people vaccinate.

    The low was 86% in 1998 but the rest are 90% and above.

  68. #68 Denice Walter
    July 31, 2014

    Oooops! That’s 1994/

  69. #69 Chris,
    July 31, 2014

    Sarah A, in 2003 the UK got to watch a truly horrible docudamra called “Hear the Silence” (I have tried to watch it on YouTube, but is over dramatic dreck).

    There is a pretty good explanation of the media coverage about science, and one of the subjects was on MMR: Towards a better map:Science, the public and the media. According to Dr. Ben Goldacre the media is mostly to blame. The 1998 was an unspectacular case series, which was quickly proven wrong by someone else at the Royal Free Hospital (Dr. Brent Taylor, who did the follow-ups when Wakefield refused). So it was some terribly deadly muckraking.

  70. #70 Brian Deer
    August 1, 2014

    The English MMR uptake figures exactly track media coverage. The downswing began in 1996, after Wakefield and his publicists got coverage for his untrue claim that measles in MMR caused Crohn’s disease. This arose in a truly appalling 1995 paper in the Lancet comparing two incomparable databases. He published this after essentially writing blackmail letters to the Department of Health implying that if they did not give him money to fund his Crohn’s research he would allege that MMR caused Crohn’s disease. I have the letters.

    The faster fall followed his 1998 paper which was contrived to launch speculative litigation from which he derived huge sums of money and had spin-off business ventures from which he hoped to make his fortune. His supporters then caused Tony Blair to be ambushed in parliament over whether his son was vaccinated. That whole saga was a set-up by Wakefield supporters, with Blair refusing to U-turn over a misjudged refusal to comment.

    Contrary to anti-vaxxers claims these days, UK media was entirely bought into Wakefield’s claims, with only a few paragraphs here and there in which contrary views were expressed. From the outset, Wakefield hired public relations consultants to force his allegations into the media., and they got him thousands of supportive reports.

    The first consequential negative coverage was in February 2004, when The Sunday Times exposed his relationship with lawyers and that subjects in his research were litigation clients. This was entirely unknown and led to firestorm media coverage.

    Media support for Wakefield in the UK then became equivocal and finally collapsed entirely when in 2009 The Sunday Times revealed the 1998 Lancet paper to have been rigged. Other journalists, including many who had written uncritically about him, realized that they had been duped.

    It is actually possible to track the MMR uptake figures directly against The Sunday Times investigation. After that, the favoured scary media story about vaccines switched from autism to measles outbreaks, and coverage of those accelerated the effect of the fall of Wakefield.

  71. #71 brewandferment
    in post vacation catchup mode
    August 1, 2014

    Saw the Jul 17 episode of Black Box (ABC) in which a kid has SSPE from a completely (non)-TM variant of crunchy non-vax mom’s MMR refusal. Looking for the episode date landed me on one of the anti-vax parenting sites in which they get all indignant about the portrayal of the mom and try to play logic games about scarlet fever, rabies, and medical shows that offend their sensibilities. Yergh.

  72. #72 lilady
    August 1, 2014

    Well there’s good news for out team. Remember how that hastily formed “Autism Policy Reform Coalition” (APRC), composed of crank anti-vaccine groups, including Wakefield’s very own fundraising-for-his-legal-expenses group DAIR, tried to stop the funding for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee and the passage of the the Autism CARES reauthorization Act? Their efforts failed…spectacularly.. The Senate passed the Bill for the Autism CARES Act, late last night.

    It’s really odd that Age of Autism, which continually posted articles urging their readership to contact Representatives and Senators to defeat the Autism CARES Act, has not notified their readership about the Bill’s passage.

    Fortunately, Matt Carey at Left Brain/Right Brain has posted about the Bill’s passage, here:

    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2014/08/01/autism-cares-act-passes-the-senate/

  73. #73 Matt Carey
    August 1, 2014

    I would have expected them to have a piece prepared for the passage of Autism CARES.

    I’m glad the Senate passed this before the recess. I hope they can put together a new IACC quickly as next year should be very important in planning.

  74. #74 Matt Carey
    August 1, 2014

    Well, at least AoA has a retread article about the supposed dangers of the nasal flu vaccine. Because that’s what matters to the autism community…

  75. #75 lilady
    August 1, 2014

    I read that nasal flu vaccine article…strictly amateur and unnecessarily alarming.

    Ms. Dachel has CNN’s interview with RFK, Jr. discussing his book, up:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/08/dachel-media-update-rfk-jr-on-cnn-thimerosal-not-policy-but-politics.html

  76. #76 Denice Walter
    August 1, 2014

    Matt said:
    ” Because that’s what matters” to them..

    What’s most important to these groups is discouraging other people from vaccinating their children.

    They’ve got hold of the bizarre belief that vaccines cause autism therefore they themselves assisted the perpetrator ( dr/ nurse) in this ‘crime’ by complying
    SO they need to assuage their guilt by “saving” other people’s children from vacine-induced autism: it’s a public service. They think.

    They also remind me a bit of militant vegans/ vegetarians who actually form a small portion of western culture ( 1%- 10% -ooops! those same old numbers again, See wikip-) but forever proselytise and predict that soon they’ll become the norm- the tide is turning their way. It sure is.Any day now.

    I’ve been hearing this for at least 40 years now.
    It ain’t gonna happen. Not wherever chicken and cheese** are affordable to the average person.

    ** but not eaten together.

  77. #77 herr doktor bimler
    August 1, 2014

    Well, at least AoA has a retread article about the supposed dangers of the nasal flu vaccine.

    Isn’t that kinda admitting that it’s not about thimerosal?

  78. #78 lilady
    August 1, 2014

    That nasal flu vaccine article on AoA is just fill…to avoid notifying their readership that their efforts to defeat the Bill is an utter failure.

    Matt Carey has a new post up about that “Autism Policy Reform Coalition”. Make certain to open the links in the post to the APRC website and the Super PAC’s paid lobbyist…they’re gems:

    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2014/08/01/why-the-autism-policy-reform-coalition-was-wrong/

  79. #79 Krebiozen
    August 2, 2014

    HDB,

    Isn’t that kinda admitting that it’s not about thimerosal?

    Presumably it causes autism by sympathetic magic through its similarity to the non-nasal thimerosal-containing variety.

  80. #80 Denice Walter
    August 2, 2014

    At any rate, I enjoy having my Saturday Scoff after reading Dan Olmsted’s weekly column:

    he writes about that gosh-dang germ-theory-promoting NYT** which quotes Murray ( @ UCLA) who speculates that perhaps there is a relationship between the amount of Nobels awarded by country and the amount of disease-causing germs: in Denmark, there are many Nobel prizes and fewer germs. Perhaps vaccination may ‘serve to promote a cultural zeitgeist that is more encouraging and rewarding of innovation’.

    Now Dan, honest journalist that he is, reveals that he first became interested in vaccination after a friend was “damaged” by SBM*** ( though not vaccines): that friend now vaccinates his own children following the Norwegian schedule despite living in the US. It has fewer vaccines, you see.

    Interestingly enough, Denmark follows the same schedule as Norway. And both countries have lower rates of autism.

    I’m sure that that’s the reason why.

    -btw- *Olmsted* – is that Swedish, Norwegian or Danish?

    ** NYT, Times of London, Sunday TImes, LA Times: Dan disapproves of them all.
    *** is woo accepted by those who feel harmed by SBM? I’ve speculated about a few of my prime suspects’ tales of injury and woe.

  81. #81 Politicalguineapig
    August 2, 2014

    Matt Carey: They do have a piece up now, and they are predictably outraged. There’s some speculation that it’ll lead to a revival of eugenics, which makes no sense to me. I remember one author assuming that her daughter would never get married and panicking when her husband called her on it. (Odd, since most of the husbands of the AOA crowd are either enablers, doormats or gone)
    Also, they’re fine with autistic kids getting murdered, but god forbid that prenatal testing be developed? Holy cognitive dissonance.

  82. #82 LW
    August 2, 2014

    “god forbid that prenatal testing be developed? ”

    If prenatal testing showed that autism is diagnosable prenatally, that would destroy the whole mythology of the “perfect child” that was stolen away by the evil Establishment. Of course they’re against it.

  83. #83 Brian Deer
    August 2, 2014

    “Poor Dan Olmsted” is right. Notwithstanding him discovering the cause of autism, schizophrenia and polio, I believe it to be derivable from his world view that most of the universe did not exist prior to the launch of the Hubble telescope.

    Come to think of it, that might go down well with his financial backers.

  84. #84 Politicalguineapig
    August 2, 2014

    LW: If prenatal testing showed that autism is diagnosable prenatally, that would destroy the whole mythology of the “perfect child” that was stolen away by the evil Establishment. Of course they’re against it.

    Well, yeah. But they’re pretending that they’re horrified because of the spectre of selective abortion. Which is really odd because 1) they’re mostly independents on the liberal spectrum, though there are a few Tea Partiers mixed in, 2) they don’t have a problem with actual living kids dying, either through murder or medical misfortune. Also, they seem to be against anything that will possibly make things better for autistic people. What the heck do these people want?

  85. #85 Narad
    August 2, 2014

    It must take a profound lack of introspection (or some truly impressive repression) for D’Ohlmsted to turn on a dime to go from

    Are you thinking what I’m thinking? CDC/NIH leave smallpox vials laying around, expose workers to anthrax, freak out about the flu in China, then import Ebola via Americans who tragically came down with it. Something wrong with this picture. -0-

    to

    The July 20 New York Times, which never tires of promoting the germ theory of disease….

  86. #86 Denice Walter
    August 2, 2014

    It appears we must suffer an embarassment of riches today as Jake ( Autism Investigated)** delves into the mechanations of the pharma wh… um…GHOSTWRITER involved in Mr Kennedy’s latest tome concerning mercury madness.

    ** he really should have called it:
    ‘People I don’t like investigated’

  87. #87 Narad
    August 2, 2014

    It appears we must suffer an embarassment of riches today as Jake ( Autism Investigated)** delves into the mechanations of the pharma wh… um…GHOSTWRITER involved in Mr Kennedy’s latest tome concerning mercury madness.

    Jeezums, that took long enough.

    And I’m still getting blank comment fields.

  88. #88 Narad
    August 2, 2014

    ^ Oh, wait, they autofilled this time.

  89. #89 herr doktor bimler
    August 2, 2014

    a relationship between the amount of Nobels awarded by country and the amount of disease-causing germs: in Denmark, there are many Nobel prizes and fewer germs

    There are also strong cultural links, personal friendships, etc. to the Nobel committee.

    Jake ( Autism Investigated)** delves into the mechanations of the pharma wh… um…GHOSTWRITER involved in Mr Kennedy’s latest tome concerning mercury madness.

    Sooner or later, people will realise that if you cooperate with one of the Mercurial mavens — even in a paid professional capacity — some other maven will try to destroy your reputation.

  90. #90 Politicalguineapig
    August 2, 2014

    DW: he writes about that gosh-dang germ-theory-promoting NYT** which quotes Murray ( @ UCLA) who speculates that perhaps there is a relationship between the amount of Nobels awarded by country and the amount of disease-causing germs: in Denmark, there are many Nobel prizes and fewer germs. Perhaps vaccination may ‘serve to promote a cultural zeitgeist that is more encouraging and rewarding of innovation’.

    I think higher vaccination rates are more likely to indicate a better-educated population- or at least, a population that’s more familiar with accepted scientific theories. Italy, England, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the States won’t be producing any Nobel winners any time soon. I doubt any American will be learning real biology, real geology or physics in the next fifty years, because this country becomes more conservative and more religious every day. Same with England unfortunately, and Italy never had a chance.

  91. #91 Narad
    August 2, 2014

    There are also strong cultural links, personal friendships, etc. to the Nobel committee.

    What’s that watermelon doing there?*

    * This would have been much better with video of the intended referent, but I’m going to roll with it all the same.

  92. #92 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    August 2, 2014

    …and the States won’t be producing any Nobel winners any time soon.

    Yah, the US has only won 19 times in the last 4 years, and only 10 of those were in hard science.

    We really are a bunch of pitiful slackers, eh?

    Richard F. Heck, USA, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2010
    Dale T. Mortensen, USA, Prize in Economic Sciences 2010
    Peter A. Diamond, USA, Prize in Economic Sciences 2010
    Saul Perlmutter, USA, Nobel Prize in Physics 2011
    Bruce A. Beutler, USA, Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology 2011
    Brian P. Schmidt, USA, Nobel Prize in Physics 2011
    Adam G. Riess, USA, Nobel Prize in Physics 2011
    Thomas J. Sargent, USA, Prize in Economic Sciences 2011
    Christopher A. Sims, USA, Prize in Economic Sciences 2011
    Alvin E. Roth, USA, Prize in Economic Sciences 2012
    Robert J. Lefkowitz, USA, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012
    David J. Wineland, USA, Nobel Prize in Physics 2012
    Brian K. Kobilka, USA, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012
    Lloyd S. Shapley, USA, Prize in Economic Sciences 2012
    James E. Rothman, USA, Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology 2013
    Randy W. Schekman, USA, Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology 2013
    Eugene F. Fama, USA, Prize in Economic Sciences 2013
    Lars Peter Hansen, USA, Prize in Economic Sciences 2013
    Robert J. Shiller, USA, Prize in Economic Sciences 2013

  93. #93 Politicalguineapig
    August 3, 2014

    Yes, but I’m willing to bet they all were educated pre-Reagan and before the rise of the right. People my own age or younger won’t get any Nobels because they never got taught real science unless they went to a private school- and sometimes not even then.

  94. #94 Narad
    August 3, 2014

    Yah, the US has only won 19 times in the last 4 years, and only 10 of those were in hard science.

    The Sveriges Risbank scratch-off ticket doesn’t count, OK?

  95. #95 Krebiozen
    August 3, 2014

    PGP,

    Italy, England, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the States won’t be producing any Nobel winners any time soon. I doubt any American will be learning real biology, real geology or physics in the next fifty years, because this country becomes more conservative and more religious every day. Same with England unfortunately, and Italy never had a chance.

    I can’t speak for other countries, but where did you get the idea that England is becoming more conservative and religious every day? Or that educational standards in England are falling?

    As I have pointed out to you at least once before, England is one of the least conservative countries in the world, with low (and falling) church attendance, liberal attitudes to sex, and free access to contraception and abortion. Perhaps the fact that the Conservative Party is part of the government has confused you.

    We have won five Nobel prizes for science in the past four years, which is pretty good going for a country with a population a fifth of the size of the US. Do have some weird vision that Oxford, Cambridge, London and other excellent universities have been overrun by religious zealots? They haven’t. England has such a good reputation for education over 300,000 students come here every year.

    Don’t you ever learn that your ill-judged and breathtakingly ignorant blanket statements like this make you look like a bigoted idiot?

  96. #96 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    August 3, 2014

    Yes, but I’m willing to bet they all were educated pre-Reagan and before the rise of the right.

    2011 Physics prize, split between –

    Saul Perlmutter
    Born: 1959, Champaign-Urbana, IL, USA

    Adam G. Riess
    Born: 16 December 1969, Washington, DC, USA

    Brian P. Schmidt
    Born: 24 February 1967, Missoula, MT, USA

    That would have made them 21, 11, and 9 years old when Reagan took office.

    Damn kids these days don’t know how to look things up on the inter-web. This country is going to hell in a bucket. You buy them books, send them to school, give them easiest access to information that mankind has ever known, and they just won’t use it. How can you educate somebody that will not take the time to do a simple look up on a list on names.

    As we’re ‘making bets’, I’ll make one. Somebody in the USA, born the same year as PGP, plus/minus 3, will win a Nobel in a hard science, but it won’t be her.

  97. #97 Matt Carey
    August 3, 2014

    “Now Dan, honest journalist that he is, reveals that he first became interested in vaccination after a friend was “damaged” by SBM”

    Not a new reveal. He got interested in medicine while doing a series of stories on, if I recall correctly, malaria medicine given to soldiers and suicides.

    In a strange twist, his partner in that series went on to do a major story that involved hiding his identity during interviews. But when Brian Deer did that (as Brian Lawrence) it was bad.

    Mr. Olmsted cites a Generation Rescue report that countries with fewer vaccines have lower autism rates. That was junk when it was written, it’s even more junk now. The author (who didn’t sign the report. My best guess is JB Handley) compares autism rates in the US to autism rates in other countries…using old studies for non US countries. Older studies (some with both cohorts going back to the 1970’s) will of course give lower autism rates.

    It was a sham and whoever wrote it knows its a sham.

    And if Olmsted can’t see it for the sham it is, he needs to stop writing about science.

    And that’s before many studies have come out showing comparable autism prevalences in the US, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden (key countries in the GR report)

    Shaw used the same method in his “alumni mum cases autism” paper.

  98. #98 lilady
    August 3, 2014

    There’s a new post up on Skeptoid, written by science blogger Stephen Propatier, which discusses recent lawsuits for defamation against Dr. Novella, Rhys Morgan and Simon Singh.

    I posted a comment about one of the harassing lawsuits omitted in Propatier’s blog…that harassing lawsuit instituted by Andrew Wakefield against Brian Deer, Fiona Godlee and the BMJ:

    http://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/08/03/if-you-dont-like-the-truth-litigate-it-away/

  99. #99 Denice Walter
    August 3, 2014

    Oh PGP!
    You really need to see places like London and NY**- you truly do. They are not conservative and have a long history of being in the forefront of social change, scientific advance, political thought, activism, fashion, culture, trade and finance since forever.

    And they will remain as such even if the seas rise – in which case they’ll probably just put everything on stilts until they wall off the waters*** or channel them elsewhere and believe me, they both have the money to do it

    There’s an interesting idea that liberalism flourishes alongside water: the ocean, bays, large rivers and lakes ( see wikip- red and blue states) as these are areas of trade, immigration and diversity: these were port cities in the old days when ships were the major mode of transport. Conversely rural areas and farmland away from the coast/ rivers were more traditional and conservative. AND with much lower population density which is very significant when you’re speaking about social mores and diversity.

    Because large international cities like these are usually where the media originates their influence is felt far beyond their borders. Universities abound and their infuence is not walled off within city limits as well.

    They don’t call it the People’s Republic of Brooklyn for nothing.

    ** and SF
    *** don’t laugh, they’re already talking about it.

  100. #100 Vicki
    August 3, 2014

    I’m not laughing, but the expense of the necessary infrastructure would be huge (even assuming New York is prepared to give up on beaches, and possibly evacuate Rockaway and Coney Island). Though the appropriate comparison there is to what the MTA is spending on post-Sandy rebuilding and “fortifying.”

    Slightly less tangential, no, New York isn’t conservative, but there are certainly conservatives there. (With 8.25 million people, you’ll get some of *everything*.)

  101. #101 Denice Walter
    August 3, 2014

    @ Vicki:

    re; Hyperbole in the service of jest

    The point is that the types of developments that PGP fears ( the end of legal birth control/ abortion and liberal, secular education,etc) are highly unlikely in places like NY.

  102. #102 Politicalguineapig
    August 3, 2014

    Kreb: Perhaps the fact that the Conservative Party is part of the government has confused you.

    Well, if the Conservative Party got into government- I believe the Prime Minister is a conservative- they obviously have voters that believe the same things they do, yes? Unless there’s massive voter fraud. And conservatives in the government tend to want to wreck everything, that’s how things got so bad in the US.

    Johnny: I had other things to do yesterday, and my computer can’t be taken outside. I don’t do hard science, though I like science articles and work at a museum.

    DW: You really need to see places like London and NY**- you truly do.

    I’d like to, but unless I win the lottery, it ain’t gonna happen.

  103. #103 Denice Walter
    August 3, 2014

    @ PGP:

    ( looks at map) How about Chicago? It’s a larger city, less isolated than where you are now, perhaps more liberal, certainly more diverse … it’s not very far away therefore no outlandish air fares or needing to stay for a week at hotels. Maybe for a weekend- just a train ride away.
    .
    I know little about it as my only encounter was a 2 am, cold weather stopover that left me alone in the airport for several hours looking forlornly out the windows into the empty, still blackness of night as the wind swirled demonically.

    But someone I know lived there for a year and thought it was a great place for all the right reasons and she was rather a hippy.

    Perhaps someone @ RI can give you some pointers about what to see and do there.
    PGP, the world awaits you.

  104. #104 Politicalguineapig
    August 3, 2014

    DW: The world will have to wait until I get spare cash.

  105. #105 Narad
    August 3, 2014

    The world will have to wait until I get spare cash.

    As, I imagine, your threatened emigration will. Am I correct that you’re in the area of MSP? If so, Megabus does that route. One. Dollar. If you plan ahead.

  106. #106 Krebiozen
    August 4, 2014

    PGP,

    Well, if the Conservative Party got into government- I believe the Prime Minister is a conservative- they obviously have voters that believe the same things they do, yes?

    The Prime Minister is a Conservative (he has described himself as a “liberal Conservative”), not really a conservative in the American sense of the word; this is, after all, the man whose government brought in same-sex marriage. His deputy, Nick Clegg, is an atheist. You might find Cameron’s political views interesting. Here’s a cherry-picked selection:

    Capital punishment: Cameron opposes the death penalty, saying that while “There are MPs who think we should restore the death penalty… I don’t happen to take that view.”
    Abortion: David Cameron is pro choice but would wish to see the current time limit cut from 24 weeks after conception to 20 weeks. [...]
    Gay marriage: Cameron voted in favor of civil partnerships for gay men and lesbians in 2004. (just to show this is a long-term view, K) [...]
    In his speech at the 2011 Conservative Party Conference, Cameron said he supported same-sex marriage and his government would begin a consultation to legalize it. [...]
    On crime: Cameron has criticised ASBOs as “reacting” to crime, rather than reducing it, and argued that they should be replaced with “challenging community punishments.” In the same speech he also argued that young offenders should be shown “a lot more love” and more understanding into why youths commit crime, specifically calling for more youth counselling, education and training. [...]

    I would never vote for Cameron or his party, but if I were to judge by the above opinions in terms of social conservatism Cameron would seem to be somewhere to the left of Barack Obama ;-) [ducks]

    Unless there’s massive voter fraud.

    We use pencils, paper, crosses in boxes and manual counting, which makes fraud difficult.

    And conservatives in the government tend to want to wreck everything, that’s how things got so bad in the US.

    I don’t think wrecking everything is their intention. I think they honestly believe that their policies would make everything better.

  107. #107 Renate
    The Netherlands
    August 4, 2014

    @ PGP
    I think you forget, there are big differences between political parties in Europe and the US, even if their names sound simular. I don’t know the exact views of all parties in each country, but the political system in The Netherlands is pretty varied.
    We have 2 small Christian parties. One of them is quite conservative, the other one is a bit more leftish, but of cause against abortion and euthanesia. We have a big Christian party, which is a bit less outspoken Christian and unites all kinds of Christian denominations and even some Muslims. They are considered conservative.
    We have a Liberal party, which is considered right-wing, wanting less government and lower taxes.
    There is another Liberal party, wich is considered a bit more to the left, but not really much, and which is a bit smaller, than the other Liberal party.
    Then there is a Socialist party, which is pretty moderate and forms a government with the biggest Liberal party.
    There is another Socialist party, which is more to the left.
    There is a Green party, which is also left wing and a liberal.
    Then there is an Animal party, which is also considered a bit left wing
    There is an Old people party, I don’t know where they stand.
    And to top things of, we have the PVV of Geert Wilders, which could perhaps be considered the dutch equivalent of the Tea Party, but they have some socialist views, which has causes some split-ups of members, who want to be more to the right and sometimes less anti -Islam.

  108. #108 Renate
    August 4, 2014

    And the PVV and the split-ups are quite liberal if it comes to gay-rights and they are not really religious.
    And there are always parties that aren’t in the parlement.

  109. #109 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    August 4, 2014

    I don’t do hard science…

    That’s only one reason you will never win a prize in any science, hard or otherwise. The main reason is that you have formed your view of the world around you, and anything that that supports that view is good and correct, and anything contrary to your view is not worth thinking about. You are as closed minded as The Kid, a charge I do not make lightly.

    How about Chicago? … certainly more diverse …

    What makes you think PGP values diversity? Seriously, I’d like to know. What has she said that makes you think she’d like to share a country with anyone who disagreed with her on any point. This is the person who said she couldn’t go to Ohio, because there was one guy in the state caught with 3 sex slaves, and he was already in jail. If that is grounds to write off an entire state, she won’t find anywhere on this planet that agrees with her, or more than one person worth associating with.

  110. #110 Politicalguineapig
    August 4, 2014

    Johnny:You are as closed minded as The Kid, a charge I do not make lightly.

    Shut up. I am much different online than I am in real life. You know nothing about me.

    This is the person who said she couldn’t go to Ohio, because there was one guy in the state caught with 3 sex slaves, and he was already in jail.

    The authorities wouldn’t have prosecuted him if the state wasn’t trying to ward off the feds and he happened to be a nobody that no one cared about. They let a bunch of rapists go free in a small town, just because the rapists played football.

    And really, what is there in Ohio? No theater, no writing, no music, no tasty food. Chicago has all of the above.

  111. #111 Denice Walter
    August 4, 2014

    @ Johnny:

    On occasion, she’s said that her town is rather too white and that she’s not as white. In the Fitzpatrick scale sense.

    So I thought perhaps Chicago is more diverse in that aspect as well as being more tolerant of cultural diversity – it seems politically left in its voting records over the years ( altho’ her area is rather left). It might be less insular.

    You see, i’m trying to open a door for her so that she might visit other places and have new experiences. The ultimate destination would of course be either London or NY ( or SF or Sydney) but she has financial limits that put those places out of the question. Thus I’m attempting to find another city that has museums, universities, cultural opportunities, interestng food and drink. music etc. within easy reach for her based on her location and lack of funds.

    Sometimes a person needs to encounter how others live on a day-to-day basis and to see new horizons.What they enjoy, how they get around town, what they buy, what they see as important, what businesses prevail, what their history tells us. Travel can allow new insights to develop naturally as a reaction and those can useful in changing attitudes about other people as well as in self-perception.

    She’s young enough to still have a chance to see other ways of being and not stay stuck. In the olden days, people took the Grand Tour.

  112. #112 Denice Walter
    August 4, 2014

    @ PGP:

    You should really try: it might help to you feel better. BUT you have to go alone.

  113. #113 Politicalguineapig
    August 4, 2014

    DW: Well, the Grand Tour is one of my dreams- that or working abroad, though I haven’t found a job yet that isnt’ teaching. No disrespect to teachers, but kids drive me nuts.

    I am, however, enrolled in a birding tour in Texas. I wish there were a manners book on how to deal with Texans. I don’t think native Texans go birding.

    I’ll also need to get a new passport, since I’ll probably have to deal with police/immigration/ customs. I mean, seriously, if I went to Arizona, I might get deported, despite being born here and having a noticeably Anglic surname.

  114. #114 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    August 4, 2014

    I’ll also need to get a new passport, since I’ll probably have to deal with police/immigration/ customs. I mean, seriously, if I went to Arizona, I might get deported, despite being born here and having a noticeably Anglic [sic] surname.

    Actually a better reason to stay away from Arizona, that chip on your shoulder may be mistaken for the Grand Canyon.

  115. #115 squirrelelite
    August 4, 2014

    @Politicalguineapig,

    You’re welcome to choose where you like to live. But, it would be better if you didn’t painting people and locations with such a broad brush.

    I like the Chicago Symphony, but Cincinnatti and Cleveland also have excellent orchestras.

    A quick check of Wikipedia turned up 10 Pulitzer Prize winners who graduated from OSU, although Mary Oliver has moved to New England and Jim Schaeffer got his award working for the Detroit Free Press.

    I’m not sure why you would need a passport unless you’re planning to cross the border. I went through the Border Patrol checkpoint in southern New Mexico a few times recently with just my driver’s license.

    But Texas does seem to be an excellent place to go bird watching. Enjoy your visit.

  116. #116 Politicalguineapig
    August 4, 2014

    ScienceMom: Actually a better reason to stay away from Arizona, that chip on your shoulder may be mistaken for the Grand Canyon.

    No, it just didn’t have as many birds. In both states, I do run a risk without a passport, as the locals aren’t really friendly to strangers or people they think are immigrants.

  117. #117 Politicalguineapig
    August 4, 2014

    I do plan to go to Arizona and New Mexico; lots of unusual birds, and elf owls around the streetlamps.

  118. #118 Narad
    August 4, 2014

    I’ll also need to get a new passport, since I’ll probably have to deal with police/immigration/ customs. I mean, seriously, if I went to Arizona, I might get deported….

    To where? This “prison” is neither more nor less than your own fantasy, viz., self-fulfilling wish.

    You won’t spend $1 to get on a bus to Chicago, but you think you need $100+ for a passport to travel to freaking Texas.

    Here (with acknowledgment to HDB for being the first to bring it up here).

  119. #119 Narad
    August 4, 2014

    that or working abroad, though I haven’t found a job yet that isnt’ teaching. No disrespect to teachers, but kids drive me nuts

    You’re not looking very hard, then. There are plenty of places to teach EFL to adults and teens. Go get credentialed, and then make excuses.

  120. #120 Brook
    August 4, 2014

    @pgp I certainly hope you are different IRL, because online you are incredibly tedious. One of my kiddos is a very serious birder, so last February while visiting relatives in Houston TX (liberal, off grid, atheist, relatives who, even in Houston, have found an amazing community of like minded folk) we drove to a couple of different inland refuges. The local UPS driver not only gave us a recommendation for a barbecue joint, but also whipped out her bird journal so she and my kiddo could compare notes.

    You get out of life what you put into it. Money is an obstacle, but not an insurmountable one. A different kiddo sucked it up worked a ton of waitressing shifts, finished her nursing degree and leaves next week to drive her beat up car to AK for a year’s adventure and a job in a rural clinic.

  121. #121 Denice Walter
    August 4, 2014

    This thread illustrates the difference between RI and Dan’s place – what has happened here would never occur @ AoA, TMR or any other altie hangout.

    – first of all, Orac examines what anti-vaxxers think
    – a guest appearance by Brian Deer
    – a serious talk about Nobel prizes
    – more experienced people giving a younger person advice
    – Narad links to ‘Marat/ Sade’

    I wish to express my appreciation of all participants’ input- most esp PGP for being game.
    It’s not an echo chamber or an enablement gallery but a discussion of topics relevant to both science and human relations. It shows that smart people can and do talk about reality in everyday life. Scepticism doesn’t end at Dan’s or at Mikey’s door but is something that can enrich our lives and interactions with others.

    Woo hoo!

    -btw- someone saw me watching the film and asked innocently what it was about- I was going to day it was about the Irish Revolution – but I was honest and then had to explain the wbole entire thing. So much for honesty.

  122. #122 Brook
    August 4, 2014

    @DW well said.

    @pgp, again, if you’re into birding and going to TX the web is your friend. I don’t remember the site, probably Audubon maybe ebird, but we found a site where locals gave their birding availability and contact info. We talked to some great folks, didn’t end up going out with any of them but only because of time constraints. Believe me – there are birdbrains everywhere.

  123. #123 Narad
    August 4, 2014

    if you’re into birding and going to TX the web is your friend.

    Megabus also does the Minneapolis*–Madison route, BTW. Yes, it’s a jumping-off point, but come the f*ck on, already.

    * I haven’t been corrected on this as far as I’ve seen.

  124. #124 Politicalguineapig
    August 4, 2014

    It costs that little? I was factoring in hotel expenses, etc. As for the passport, yes, it is necessary. Both states have locals and police departments which are twitchy, to say the least, about people who look Hispanic.

    Brook: Thanks, I’ll look into that. I’m going on a tour, so it’ll probably be pretty tightly scheduled, but if I want to do a wander on my own, that’ll be handy.

    Narad: I’m in Madison practically every other weekend. It’s not like I don’t travel.

  125. #125 Narad
    August 5, 2014

    Shut up. I am much different online than I am in real life. You know nothing about me.

    Enough, already. If you’re “much different” “in real life,” maybe you should give it try here.

  126. #126 Denice Walter
    August 5, 2014

    @ PGP:

    Do you really think that you can be mistaken for an Hispanic, illegal immigrant when:
    – your native language is English ( which shows -btw-)
    – you have a university degree
    – you work at a museum and probably have a photo ID
    – you (probably) drive ( more ID)
    – you (probably) have a credit card ( even more ID)
    – you dress like a Norte Americana
    – you’re hanging out with an organised group of _bird watchers_ on a tour- which has tickets/ name tags
    ( not working in miserable, shamefully unfair conditions in the back of a cheap restaurant for practically nothing)
    – you just stepped off of a plane or train and can show your printed ticket etc.
    – you’re probably a lot taller than most poor, Central American immigrant women your age

    I’m sure that there is rampant prejudice in these places but that doesn’t necessarily mean that bigots will pick you out of a crowd and drag you off.

    Seriously though, right after the 9/11 attacks, despite being lilywhite and very obviously not fitting the hackneyed terrorist profile, I was pulled out of a security stop at an airport and had to display contents of my purse, papers et al and answer questions which wasted approximately 45 minutes . And nothing happened.

    Any way, I can’t help but wonder about bird watching- I know that it is an activity people enjoy and it celebrates nature and observation but…..
    do you think that it is likely to attract the sort of people you might want most to meet?
    I mean, I can see the science part but perhaps also people who are more settled and POSSIBLY more conservative than you are. At any rate, possibl older and couples, maybe some with kids.

    Maybe that’s a stereotype as well, I really don’t know.

  127. #127 Denice Walter
    August 5, 2014

    -btw- I should mention that I often run into bird watchers because I go to natural areas to take photographs.
    Thus I have seen a great variety of bird species even though I wasnt really looking- esp sea/ shore birds all over the North Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific coast. Frequently, there is information about them for visitors.

  128. #128 Narad
    August 5, 2014

    Anyway, since the new brain-dead cannabis troll has grown dull, this seems as good a place as anywhere else to point out that AoA is letting its freak flag fly, with Laura Hayes disgorging a full-blown antivaccine crankery screed. (I’m off to a slow start today. Must put aside the Incredible String Band videos.)

  129. #129 Politicalguineapig
    August 5, 2014

    DW:I mean, I can see the science part but perhaps also people who are more settled and POSSIBLY more conservative than you are. At any rate, possibl older and couples, maybe some with kids.

    They are going to be older, I can tell you that. I dunno about conservative, though. Republicans don’t have much use for wilderness. The type of people you get on those tours would be conservatives only in the European sense. Meeting someone my age would be nice, but I’m there for the birds, not the people.

  130. #130 Politicalguineapig
    August 5, 2014

    Narad: Jeez, that piece is a thing of beauty. I mean, it really puts the selfishness, banality and obliviousness of AOA right out there.

  131. #131 Shay
    August 5, 2014

    I wish there were a manners book on how to deal with Texans.

    Consider investing in one on how to deal with the rest of the human race, while you’re at it.

  132. #132 LW
    August 5, 2014

    PGP, may I suggest that you take a look at census.gov and examine the stats for Texas. The Hispanic or Latino percentage in Texas is 38.4%. The White, not Hispanic or Latino, population is 44%.

    In other words, if the authorities in Texas made a practice of arresting and deporting anyone who looked Hispanic, they would be trying to deport over ten million people. Do you really think you’re going stand out among all those millions? If Texas is the hateful white racist hellhole of your paranoid fantasies, why do you think over ten million Hispanic or Latino people choose to live there? You might also note that the evil white racists of your fevered imaginings are *outnumbered* by everyone else.

  133. #133 Narad
    August 5, 2014

    Consider investing in one on how to deal with the rest of the human race, while you’re at it.

    I think Kinky Friedman might manage to cover all of the bases, in a multimedia sesne.

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