Friday, November 26, 2010

Censored on Why Was this PSA Rated X?

If you have made comments on the Age of Autism article Why Was this PSA Rated X?, please copy your comment here, including the date and time you posted at AoA.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Autism in Certain Minnesota Populations

Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes (quite a misnomer, as there are significantly more than 10K lakes), the land of sky-blue waters. Many people have the idea that Minnesota is a frozen wasteland, where people wear parkas year round and say "Ya, sure" a lot. The movie Fargo went rather far in perpetuating these myths. Well, I guess I can't argue with the "Ya, sure" bit, but the weather in Minnesota can be downright brutally hot in the summer. Overall, though, the seasons are pleasant and bearable if you know how to dress for them. It has a thriving music and theatre scene, as well.

The people are generally nice, too. But there is something about the population that most out-of-staters (and possibly even some Minnesotans) might not know. Minnesota is home to a rather significant Somali community.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I am Bonnie Offit!! - Followup

There has been quite a response to JB Handley's ill-conceived rant over at AoA, titled Is Paul Offit's Wife Internet Troll/Autism Father "Sullivan"?. Quite a number of bloggers have taken up the "I am Bonnie Offit" mantel. A list of them can be found over at I Speak of Dreams.

Almost all of the responses have mentioned many of the same points, as summarized by this comment that, amazingly, made it past the editors at AoA:

I am Bonnie Offit!!

Yes, It's true. I am, in reality, the wife of Dr. Paul Offit. JB Handley, one of the heads of Generation Rescue and Age of Autism, has put forth a challenge to blogger Sullivan, accusing him of actually being me in a post titled "Is Paul Offit's Wife Internet Troll/Autism Father 'Sullivan'?" In response, other bloggers, like Orac and Kev Leitch have tried to claim that they are me, but don't be fooled. I've finally decided to come clean, to keep Sullivan from unwarranted attacks.

How did this all start, though?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Toward an Historical Understanding of Autism

After researching a bit for my last post on a statement by Dan Olmsted that autism didn't exist before 1931, my curiosity was piqued regarding DeSanctis' and Heller's descriptions of progressive dementia in children, which they termed dementia praecocissima and dementia infantilis, respectively. They came up with these terms in 1906 (DeSanctis) and 1908 (Heller), well before the development of Merthiolate (a.k.a. thimerosal or thiomersal) by Eli Lilly around 1927 and its later use in vaccines in 1931.

Why the interest in these disorders?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dan Olmsted: No Autism Before 1931...Historical Illiteracy in Action at AoA

Dan Olmsted, at Age of Autism, is apparently upset that his book isn't selling too well or that rationally minded individuals who lean left on the political spectrum don't buy the "vaccines cause autism" myth. Why do I say this? Because he has a verbose spewage of blather over at AoA titled "Why Progressives Don't Get Autism" in which he complains about how it's only the conservatives (e.g., those found at Fox News) who buy the lie. Apparently, he hasn't read the Huffington Post and seen their anti-vaccine articles. Or maybe he doesn't think they're progressives.

Whatever. My interest isn't really in his political maunderings. Rather, it is in a brief statement he makes a bit over halfway through:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why Do We Do This?

Last night, I received an e-mail from Liz Ditz at I Speak of Dreams, letting me know that a fellow blogger and anti-quackery champion had died unexpectedly. That man was Free Speaker, at the Age of Ignorance blog.

I can't say that I knew him, really. I'd seen some of his posts around various blogs and read a few of the posts on his blog. But I cannot say that I knew him or that he was a friend. Sadly, I did not take the opportunity to forge that. About all I know is that he and I had some similarities, such as our reasons for starting our blogs.

And as I thought of his passing, and others' responses to it, I wondered, "Why do we do this?"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vaccine Awareness Week: If Vaccines Work...

"If vaccines work, then it shouldn't matter if I don't vaccinate my kid."

That argument, or some variation thereon, is fairly common among anti-vaccine folks and the parents who fall for their propaganda. The thinking is something like this: vaccine proponents claim that vaccines work; if they work, they must be 100% effective; if they are 100% effective, then my kid getting sick won't affect anyone that's been immunized; therefore, why should it matter to anyone else what I choose for my child?

There's a couple problems with this line of reasoning.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vaccine Awareness Week: I'm not Anti-vax, I'm Pro-Safe Vaccine

This whole Vaccine Awareness Week has got me to thinking a bit about some of the arguments that anti-vaxers make. I wonder just how they reason things out. What is it that resonates so strongly in their minds that they don’t simply question vaccines, but go so far beyond reason and rational thought? They can look at the very same things that those of us who accept vaccines view as amazing advancements of medical science and instead see all manner of bogeymen. Every last thing to do with vaccines, if you believe many of them, is the epitome of all that is vile and evil. The really incredible thing, though, is that even while they have a knee-jerk reaction to reject any and every vaccine, they insist that they are not anti-vaccine. Rather, they say that they are “pro-safe vaccine.”

As I thought about this, I realized something: I, myself, am not anti-vaccine; I’m pro-safe vaccine.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vaccine Awareness Week: Getting the Word Out

Thanks to the efforts of Joe Mercola and Barbara Loe Fisher, today, November 1, 2010, marks the beginning of Vaccine Awareness Week! In case you missed National Immunization Awareness Month back in August, our lovely anti-vaccine pro-safe vaccine crusaders have given us another week!

I am joining a number of bloggers, including Orac at Respectful Insolence, the lovely folks at Science-Based Medicine, Dr. Steven Novella of NeuroLogica and The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe fame, among others, to get the word out about vaccines.