On Sensationalism and Irresponsible Journalism (part 1)
[RANT ALERT] So, I found this thing (in the link above) on my facebook feed. I don’t have the time or the patience to write a comprehensive response at this point, but I could not simply “let it pass.” Therefore, I’m releasing my little rant to the four winds! Comments below are most welcome. For starters, increased vaccine safety is a most lofty goal. So far, so good. But, in the case of autism, self reporting of non-quantified cases is almost meaningless. Even more so with the risk of strong bias from those reporting, and the classic mistake everyone keeps falling for (it made for great money making for the statin folks): CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION! It could suggest the need to “check into this further.” Add to that that autism occurs in the absence of vaccines too. And that this potentially facilitates a major, even catastrophic, public health crisis as the percentage of kids not vaccinated keeps increasing.
This is a very irresponsible article, sensationalist and plain dumb, with logical loopholes the size of craters, and simply innaccurate even by some of the material they provide. Autism has ALWAYS being around, most of it undiagnosed or diagnosed as something else. For those of us a bit older, remember how mental retardation used to be tossed around? It’s not that common any more. Well, many of these kids were either just autistic or both. They would now come under the ASD umbrella. Remember that weird, nerdy classmate that was wicked start but somehow was very socially ackward, maybe a loner, and maybe struggled to keep a job and live up to his supposed “potential.” There’s a good chance that individual would have been diagnosed as having Asperger Syndrome later on and by today’s diagnostic criteria simply autistic. There has been a massive change in terms of diagnostic criteria, expertise and screening that accounts for these numbers. The concept of the spectrum has also allowed the addition of Asperger’s Syndrome as part of the spectrum, a variant that was complete “invisible” to the mental health establishment a few decades ago. This also increases the numbers of diagnosed individuals, including adults that are recognizing their autistic traits and been diagnosed after having kids diagnosed on the spectrum themselves. Which brings us to the issue of genetics. It takes some serious suspension of disbelief to play a blind eye to the strong link of genetics in the incidence of autism. But as they say, denial is not a river in Egypt. Most importantly, the lives of thousands and thousands of kids are at risk of diseases that are almost a faint memory of times when survival of children into adulthood was not to be taken for granted. I, for one, am grateful for my kids, neurodiverse challenges and all and would not conceive of putting them at risk of life endangering diseases. Giving the benefit of the doubt to those who sincerely believe these kind of claims without question, may I advice caution and quote one of my favorite pearls of wisdom: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”