In this morning’s post, Mark mentions an article from the alternative medical universe that is the Huffington Post. One of the latest bits of idiocy to come out of HuffPo is from Barbara Fischkin. I have no idea who this person is, but her writing shows a few things: she is willing to go against scientific consensus without any evidence, and while the rest of the country sits agape at the anti-scientific pandering of all of our presidential candidates, she applauds their senseless bloviations.
The candidates are all talking about it, but when Hillary Clinton said it, I cried. (So did I. –ed)
“We will tackle everything from autism to Alzheimer’s, cancer to diabetes, and make a real difference,” she said, in her Pennsylvania primary victory speech. Later, looking at that one sentence in the light of day, I understood why it stopped me in my tracks. Hillary Clinton put autism first on her list of dreaded diseases. First, even though it wasn’t in alphabetical order.
Well, actually, it was roughly in alphabetical order.
More below the fold…
But putting that aside, autism is certainly a field of active research. It isn’t, statistically, one of the biggest health problems in the U.S., but still, it’s quite important. Like schizophrenia and other life-long diseases that limit interpersonal interaction it may not or may not have a large effect on mortality, but it limits a person’s ability to fully participate in life forever.
The cynical voice inside of me says it means nothing, McCain mentioned it, Obama mentioned it and Clinton’s speech writers probably put it in to keep up.
The mother in me ignores the cynic and says: Who cares why she mentioned it. All that matters is that she did. She did it with great clarity. And in the midst of what was, for her, a pivotal moment.
And she was right.
Right about what?
Autism is decimating a generation of children.
Autism is a serious syndrome, but it isn’t “decimating” anything. First, “decimation” literally means the destruction of one in ten. Still, colloquially, it means detruction of large numbers or, even most, lives in a group. This is clearly not the case with autism. She continues in this hyperbolic vein:
One in 150 children, at the least, is now being diagnosed. It is an epidemic and in comparison it is making polio look like a sore throat. In the years to come our homes, schools, recreational facilities, restaurants, doctors’ offices — our entire world — will be packed with young adults with all kinds of serious and deep communication and behavioral difficulties. To be a bit more graphic: people who can’t say words but can’t stop screaming — people whose inability to communicate causes a frustration level that leads to violence.
Autism is not an epidemic by any definition. It does not have the impact that pre-vaccine polio did. And our world is not in danger of being “packed” with autistic individuals. The 1/150 figure is a bastardization of autism prevelance, the number of people with the disorder at any point in time. In the U.S., that number is about 6.6/1000. Mathematically, this looks a lot like 1/150, but it is simply a snapshot. And for the sake of comparison, the yearly prevalence for heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S. is 53/1000 with an avarage yearly death rate from heart disease is 241/100,000. Autism doesn’t even come within an order of magnitude of our most common diseases.
As wrong as these statements are, the stupid burns even brighter.
These people were poisoned. One of the culprits is, no doubt, the mercury preservative that was put willy-nilly into so many vaccines. Probably it was also something else in the air or water, in preservatives or cleaning solvents or in the plastics that are turning baby bottles into killers. Whatever the substance that caused the mass poison, the epidemic is going to continue to grow until we get some answers about what causes autism.
Say what you like about Hillary Clinton, but when it comes to priorities, she got one right by putting autism up there with the other crucial concerns of our society: war, economics and dependence on oil. (emphasis mine. –PalMD)
Please, don’t believe the stupid. It is very attractive to believe simple explanations, but they happen to be long-disproved. There is not, nor has there ever been any evidence that the mercury that was once present in vaccines contributed to autism in any way. Period. For the candidates to give lip service to it sets us back years. Writers with no scientific knowledge of the topic who parrot the same old lies aren’t much help either. The studies have been done. Over and over. Time to move on to real autism research. Huffington Post, get out of the way!