If you ever get tired of sanity, Huffington Post is still there

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!


9 responses to “If you ever get tired of sanity, Huffington Post is still there”

  1. Thanks for the beam of light..I hope it gets noticed amid the snapping flash bulbs, blinding strobe lights and dazzling glitter that defines high profile politics these days.
    Speaking of stupid, and please don’t take me as someone who doesn’t believe in climate change (I do, but remain steadfastly heretical as to the causes, remedies and degree of concern it warrants in comparison to other serious environmental assaults currently being given little if any attention)but Al Gore recently typified those who don’t believe in the IPCC’s interpretation of climate change as being like the people who don’t believe the Earth circles the Sun. You know of course, ironically, that the Earth doesn NOT circle the Sun. Of course, you know it follows an eliptical, not circular, path which includes numerous perturbations, AND it doesn’t even do that around the Sun but around a commond center of gravity shared by all the bodies in the gravitational system. So there is no end of stupidity on which very smart people can agree for all sorts of reasons. To look closely means we can’t devote enough time to televised professional sports and the congressmen who chastise them while the corruption is served like soup in a trough.

  2. T. Bruce McNeely

    1/150 kids “…who can’t say words but can’t stop screaming — people whose inability to communicate causes a frustration level that leads to violence.” – Huh?
    I expect that figure is for Autism Spectrum Disorder, which also includes those with Asperger’s and other high-functioning autism. Hardly non-stop screamers.
    Also, consider the possibility that 50 years ago, most of these full-blown autistic kids would have been labelled “retarded” and dumped in an institution. I wonder what the incidence of “mental retardation” is now, compared with then?

  3. And, of course, Charlie Manson didn’t ACTUALLY kill anyone, he just worked those kids into a frenzy and THEY killed people. Jeffy Dahmer didn’t REALLY eat people, everyone knows that bones are too hard for human teeth to chew!

    It’s amazing the stupid things people will believe to rationalize away facts they don’t like!


    Deliberately obtuse much?

  4. Wow. One doctor editorialized in a news magazine rather than a peer-reviewed journal. I guess we’ve all been wrong.

  5. Hey Doug, I think your attack an Gore is a little silly. For one, the Earth’s orbital eccentricity is about 0.0167, meaning it’s virtually a circle. Second, if you only consider the Earth and the Sun, the center of mass is about 448 km from the center of the Sun. Add into account the other planets, basically, all the planets orbit the Sun. If Gore did use the word “circle”, he’s 99% right. Don’t quibble about 1%.

  6. Sadly, the stupid appears to win because hyperbole, alleged quick fixes, easy culprits, and visions of speechless children in a state of constant scream are, yea verily, far more colorful and memorable and effective than the reality, which is plodding, quotidian, subdued, and, dare I say it, devoid of mercury in any of the vaccines my children have received. It’s sort of like trying to compete with American Idol by counterprogramming with Nova.

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