Et tu, Anthony Edwards and Dustin Hoffman?

It looks as though the Jenny McCarthy woo factor has claimed two more celebrity victims' brains. If a recently viewed press release is any indication, it appears that Anthony Edwards and Dustin Hoffman are getting into the autism quackery business:

Internet Marketing Company joins Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Edwards and others in fight to help children with Autism.

GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 4, 2008) -- Market America announced today that it is in the development and testing stages of a new line of nutraceutical products that will support the health of children with Autism and related neurodevelopmental challenges. Specialized laboratory testing often demonstrates sub-optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids in people with Autism, which can be addressed with nutritional supplements. Despite these findings, Market America found in its research that parents and health professionals alike are frustrated with the limited nutritional products available in the marketplace.

Nutritional supplementation has also been addressed by parents of children with Autism, including actors Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey. In a recent article McCarthy and Carrey authored on cnn.com, they state that one of the factors believed to have helped their son recover was vitamin supplementation, along with a gluten and caffeine free diet, detox of metals, and anti-fungals for yeast overgrowth that plagued his intestines. To read the article click on the following link: cnn.com.

Market America's announcement follows a conference held with prominent doctors who specialize in areas related to Autism at Market America's Greensboro headquarters. The doctors in attendance were Dr. Emi Hosada; an Internist in Washington State, Dr. Jim Sensenig; prominent naturopathic physician and founding president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Dr. Susan Beltz; a neuroscientist and clinical scientist and founder of the Mont Black Academy in Hook Set, NH which specializes in educating and treating children with ADHD, Metabolic Disorders and Learning Disabilities, and Dr. Anne Hines; a family and Defeat Autism Now (DAN) physician in Winston-Salem, NC.

I hope this isn't true, as I've always liked Edwards and Hoffman.

The reason I wonder if they really are involved with this pseudoscientific naturopathic quackery is because the only place their names are mentioned is in the title of the press release, and I've been unable to find any other information on the web linking them to this effort other than--you guessed it--copies of this press release.

However, I did easily discover that Anthony Edwards, at least, has been heavily invested in raising money for Cure Autism Now, which recently merged with Autism Speaks. So maybe it is true and that he's fallen prey to the dark side. On the other hand, the version of the press release that I found on Medical News Today dates back to June and has no mention of either Edwards or Hoffman.

Here's hoping that neither of them are actually involved in what looks like an obvious scheme to suck more money out of the pockets of parents with autistic children.

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I wonder if the people buying this stuff ever thought what's actually in them? Do a Google scholar search on spices and heavy metals, or an equivalent search for foods and heavy metals. OMG!!!! There's lead...and cadmium...and nickel....and OMG! Mercury in spices and plant extracts!

But these are good heavy metals because it is natural, where other sources are not natural, they are artificial.

They know it's the mercury in the vaccines...but, hey, pump them up with some unknown concoction sold on a web page (even though it's filled with nasty stuff too). Funny how that works.

True, RJ. For instance, the Curcumin being sold on the Age of Altism by Lee Silsby Labs comes from a root that is probably grown in Asia somewhere. Who knows where, really, but Silsby claims it is completely free of heavy metals. I'd like to see how they pulled that off.

By notmercury (not verified) on 19 Nov 2008 #permalink

I suspect there's a kernel of truth here, in that I find it credible that children with autism are deficient in certain nutrients, simply because extreme food pickiness is such a common symptom of autism-spectrum disorders (there was a time when my daughter would accept a total of 4-5 different foods on any given week, with milk and grapes as more-or-less-constants), and that supplementing them with those nutrients might contribute to better overall health (if they'll take pills or chewables; my daughter won't). But, I'd want to see some real grown-up research on this, and paragraphs 2 and 3 are weapons-grade stupid.

" Silsby claims it is completely free of heavy metals."

Sure! And they claim it will help cure their damaged kids.

So sad.

I've wondered why musicians, artists and others seem to be more subject to woo and new agey stuff; and my hypothesis is that people in the arts live by listening to their instincts, if they over-analyze they lose the focus. I guess that approach makes for good art but bad science.

Jayh, some of that might be a selection effect. We are more likely to hear about the opinions of musicians, artists, actors and similar versus other non-experts because many of these people are known by a wide audience, so someone assumes the general public cares what Jenny McCarthy has to say about autism, rather than, say, my mother the office worker, despite the fact both have an autistic son.

By Becca Stareyes (not verified) on 19 Nov 2008 #permalink

I'm confused. I don't see any mention of the actors.

By Zoo Knudsen (not verified) on 19 Nov 2008 #permalink

Jenny McCarthy certainly has targeted a great need.

Who can argue that there aren't enough companies manufacturing and selling supplements for kids with autism?

Sarcasm aside--really, what is the need for yet another autism-targeted vitamin company? There's Kirkman, BrainChild...heck, when I put autism and vitamin into google, I get three pages of advertisements. I wonder how this will affect the advertisers for GR and AoA.

Hey jayh, coming from a fine artsy painterly background myself, I confess I have to agree with your assessment.

Much of my schooling was filled with new agey-holistic approaches to painting. Many people who want to get serious about art are into art therapy, which can quickly descend into healing colours and other mind rot.

But not everyone. Some artists are inspired by rationality, and knowingly bending the rules.

There is an autistic child in my family - a great-nephew - and his grandparents have now divorced over disagreements about treatment (and over their daughter's lack of acceptance of and inability to deal with her son's needs) and I feel great sympathy for those dealing with autism.

OTOH, I have no sympathy at all for those trying to make a quick buck off these distraught relatives of autistic children. If disagreement over treatments contributed to the divorce of grandparents, who in this case were the primary caregivers, how much of this crap is contributing to the breakdown of the primary families of autistic children?

Market America appears to be invoking the name of celebrities in its press release to promote its dubious products; although there is no indication that any of the named celebrities (including McCarthy and Carey) actually endorse their products. The company's merely implying endorsement by association. It's bottom-feeding marketing.

Is it possible that this ad/release is in the nature of, "these celebrities have something to do with autism, and...so do we!"?

About the only connection to autism that I could find for Dustin Hoffman is that he played Raymond Babbitt in "Rainman", and made a donation at one time to the Autism Society of America.

I have a hard time believing that someone of his stature would be associated with this kind of marketing scheme. I'm guessing that the suggestion of endorsement is bogus.

nutraceutical products
Along with all their other crimes, they're murdering the English language.....

I've wondered why musicians, artists and others seem to be more subject to woo and new agey stuff; and my hypothesis is that people in the arts live by listening to their instincts, if they over-analyze they lose the focus. I guess that approach makes for good art but bad science.

I don't know... Myself and many other scientists I know dab heavily in one art form or another... For me, it's painting/drawing (I'm not in a gallery or anything, but some people think I'm good enough to occasionally buy from me). Even my computer-scientist brother in law, who will tell you he's crappy in all arts and has no such thing as an instinct, is actually a quite good photograph and has won a few amateur prizes. One physicist friend dances and plays music. 2 other friends, a chemist and a molecular biologist, sing well enough to be able to make a career of it if they want to.

Myself and many other scientists I know dab heavily in one art form or another...

I am NOT suggesting that an artist cannot be a good scientist (many great scientists played music or dabbled in art), but it's a matter of understanding turning on or off the appropriate mental processes. People who think primarily in the intuitive world may never have learned the discipline of the scientific mindset.

I think it's purely a selection bias that makes artistic types seem more prone to woo. Most celebrities are artistic types, after all. They also tend to move in a world where they get way too much positive feedback, which certainly can diminish a person's critical thinking skills, far more so than an artistic education.

Regarding the term "nutraceutical", it makes my gutter-mind think about about Neuticles. :-P

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 20 Nov 2008 #permalink

jayh -

Oh, I think you have a very good point there. I am an artistic type and am what I like to call pathologically credulous (something I have to work hard to compensate for). I am prone to look more at articulation and use of language - as well as whether a claim seems facially logical, than I am to concern myself with the evidence presented. Even now, I quite often have a knee-jerk acceptance response - the difference being, I will usually look into the veracity of a claim before I integrate it and accept it. But it is hard sometimes.

There is a lot more to it, but ultimately, that is mostly what it boils down to. Most of the time, most of my brain is focused on designing my next structure, whether it be words, music, a remodeling job, how I am going to go about a home repair or (and most of my attention) how I am going to deal with the next crisis with my oldest son. And I'm a sucker for articulation, words being my favorite medium.

That is not how you spell Hooksett, NH.

By Douglas McClean (not verified) on 22 Nov 2008 #permalink

Augustus; of Emperor Argentine: 1210: 09, 31;

Dear, Mr. Hoffman;

I, have, been a member, of the Soviet United,
Imperial (I.S.M); and I, truly, enjoy, you;
and Ms Bancroft's style; and with, a flaming;
as outlined: 1. Mr. Dustin Hoffman; Mr. Benjamin Braddock
Ms. Anne Bancroft; Mrs. Robinson; Ms Katharine Ross;
Ms Elaine Robinson; Ms William Daniels; Mr. Braddock
Ms Elizabeth Wilson; Mrs. Braddock
Mr. Buck Henry; "The Graduat;"

This movie is of true American lore.!

Your, fine Acting talent;
is fierce, American talent,
again.!

Why, Ms Bancroft; has sexy legs;
is she is true Russian legged;
and, sir; her, mighty, smile;
is true Russian, kill-for-a-man;
I, like; your, smile; mam'('e);
and man; does a Mr. Hoffman;
srtike, me, as a great, killer;
of women; in-the-nude!!

Now; a man of, other; great, caliber;
runs; none!! He is the renowned;
a, another; American; a, Mr. Benjamin Braddock;
well, old, never, in-his-bride's time;
old, again; never; our, terrific; pal;
"Big-Pal-Madder;"
is, a, great; Budd!!

Well Lliz Wil'; has, a Premier, in all, the-true-life; her, example®; is; of all, true; love; her; true; name is Ms Ellen Burstyn; (in, early; Hindu© ; the flower-of-care®); and with a ll; know; the, lady®; is, all Amerik®; her, hair; is marrow; and like; her, mom; eyes; are; all-a-glow!!

While; I, never; graduated®; a Yale-®-of-Edmonton; I, never; left; the,
(Mr. Simon®; and, this; Mr. Garfunkel©; and 'April'; and 'The Sounds of Silence;'
is my; reason; my daughter; (Ms, Julie, Ann, Simon®; has, been delivered!!

XX,

-30-

Wow. Are you lost?