• Thu, Jan 17 2008

Elementary, My Dear Mr. Handley

The Age of Autism is, its editor Dan Olmsted proclaims, “the first daily Web newspaper for the environmental-biomedical community—-those who believe autism is an environmentally induced illness, that it is treatable, and that children can recover.” Those who write for The Age of Autism do not follow “journalistic group-think” and “believe whatever ‘the experts’ tell them”—-The Age of Autism, it is promised, is going to make a “difference.”

So what kind of news do we get from The Age of Autism folks? Pathbreaking discussions of new theories about the causes of autism, or treatments for autistic kids? New suggestions about how to help autistic children learn not to engage in self-injurious behavior without electroshock treatment? Honest accounts of the lack of adequate housing and employment opportunities for autistic adults who will need such supports for their whole lives, and careful explanations of how support staff need to be trained?

Alas!—no.

There are plenty of posts about vaccines, “vaccine safety,” thimerosal, biomedical treatments requiring cabinets and cocktails of supplements with pseudo-Greek names, what Boyd Haley thinks about the study by Schechter and Grether, etc., etc., etc., etc.. It’s more like the Age of Anything But Autism, unless you, like Generation Rescue founder J.B. Handley, think that autism is really mercury poisoning, that autism is a raging epidemic, and that the government via the CDC is fostering a plot to poison American’s children, etc.., etc., etc., etc..

Anyways—-this is what The Age of Autism considers really big and breaking news that we all need to know:

Roy Richard Grinker is married to Joyce Chung.

Yes, that was the shocking news over at The Age of Autism on January 15th, written up by the above-mentioned J.B. Handley. Handley portrays himself as hot on the trail of a conspiracy and, he tells us, he has the documents to prove it!!!!!!!. These would be a series of emails between Grinker, a professor of anthropology at George Washington University, and Marshalyn Yeargin-Alsopp of the CDC. The emails, obtained (as Handley makes sure we know) by the FOIA, have some mysterious white spaces which most likely contained personal information or mention of others, since third party information and names are not included on FOIA requests—–and Handley is quite tantalized by them. In the grip of his fervid imagination, those white spaces signal that a conspiracy is afoot and Sherlock Handley is here to unmask it. And the January 15th post explains the big secret that our sleuth has uncovered:

In an ARTICLE I wrote last week about Roy Grinker, an autism epidemic-denier funded by Autism Speaks, I included THIS set of emails between Roy Grinker and the CDC which were obtained through a FOIA filing.

One email from Grinker in particular caught the eye of several of our readers where Grinker writes the following to a CDC employee:

“p.s. Did I tell you that ___________ just started working at NIMH as the Autism coordinator (Director’s office) and exec. secretary of IACC?”

Now, the “blank” in the above email where a name should be, was redacted by the CDC, apparently because, according to the CDC’s cover letter, “the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

The blank is Grinker’s wife, Joyce Chung.

Is it private for us to know that Joyce Chung, now the Autism Coordinator at NIMH, is married to Roy Grinker?

Should it matter who Joyce Chung is married to, even if her husband wrote a book stating unequivocally that there is no autism epidemic?

Does Joyce Chung agree with her husband? Did they ask her this question before she took the job?

I hope when the IACC meets tomorrow, someone asks her.

I must say, Handley has a nice way with his rhetoric here. Like some modern-day Cicero, he piles on the rhetorical questions and builds to a climax, then—at a moment of resounding tension—-inserts a sentence starting with the first-person pronoun to remind you, dear reader, that this is J.B. Handley, the concerned parent and citizen, out to uproot something secret.

O tempora! O mores! What is this world coming to! (Asks another parent of an autistic child.)

What is it coming to indeed—–why spill so much digital ink fretting about who is married to whom in this “age of autism”? I kind of thought there were more “urgent” things to consider—you know, like getting speech services spelled out in the IEP or figuring out how to make Medicaid pay for housing for autistic adults. But maybe when you spend so much time thinking about mercury instead of dealing with actual autistic persons in the here and now, you start to see things—you start to imagine conspiracies—-as you cobble together a plot for the Great Autism Whodunnit. This makes for (semi-) amusing reading, but I’m afraid it does not really help too much in addressing the really pressing problems that many of us face in getting the school placements our kids need to thrive in, in finding a babysitter so we can attend a school meeting about transitions, in teaching my son Charlie to write “s” so he can write his last name, Fisher. These are topics that I find need to be addressed in this “age of autism.”

As far as the secrets contained in those white spaces in the emails between Roy Richard Grinker and Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp: Why did Dan Olmsted, in his capacity as editor of The Age of Autism and as a journalist, not call Grinker for an interview? Why is a “daily Web newspaper” publishing speculative accounts of real people, and giving the impression that what Handley’s imagination has so, well, imaginatively, cooked up is fact, and not the fiction (of a rather potboiler sort) that it is? And why, in the case of a comment by Katie Wright on Handley’s post, is The Age of Autism seemingly not honoring its own policy about comments? Back in November 2007, I wrote a comment on an Age of Autism post referencing my son and the son of a friend, DJ Savarese. Kim Stagliano wrote:

Note to readers. We’d prefer if you do not bring other people’s children into the conversation in an effort to make your points. It’s not fair play to discuss a child who is not your own. That’s across the board for all readers and comments. You’re welcome to discuss adults of age who can respond for themselves. Not kids.[my emphasis]

This is to protect the children and their parents, from being drawn into discussions without their knowledge.

Thank you.

KIM

Posted by: Managing Editor | 11/26/2007 at 08:47 AM

Katie Wright, NAA board member, specifically mentions one of Grinker’s and Chung’s daughters in her comment on Handley’s post.

Joyce and Roy are married co-parents of their only child, a daughter with autism. Roy has publicly stated, and written a book and toured the country saying he and his wife believe their daughter is “different” and “quirky”, in essence, autism is not such a bad thing and certainly not a growing problem. I think it is more than fair to assume they are of similar beliefs about autism unless Joyce says otherwise……………………….

Posted by: Katie Wright | 01/16/2008 at 02:23 PM

Well, maybe the comment policies on The Age of Autism have changed since last November or maybe there is a different policy for those who write for The Age of Autism or maybe there’s a double standard or maybe it would be best to see The Age of Autism more as a kind of webzine that offers something of a mix of fact, fiction, various opinions, conspiracy-mongering (with a lot of mention of mercury), with (excuse the expression) kind of quirky graphics (how about The Chelation Kid sometime), instead of a newspaper.

But I really can’t say. Here is a fine mystery, and I am just speculating about the goings-on in this “age of autism.” If I may say so: Elementary, my dear Mr. Handley!

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  • stopautismquackery

    Most excellent and thank you Kristina.

  • Matt

    Mr Handley (and his friends) certainly must have done some serious web-searches trying to come up with dirt on Dr. Chung. The problem is (for them at least) she is a very competent researcher who studies (from the Georgetown U website):

    “Her research interests include the study of sociocultural barriers to mental health care, treatment interventions for mental health problems in minority populations, ethnographic/qualitative research methods, and patient-provider discourse and communication”

    There’s more information on the web that paints the picture of Dr. Chung as someone who appears to be a very competent clinician and researcher.

    Mr Handley also seemed to miss the point that Thomas Insel is the chair of the IACC, not Dr. Chung.

    Somehow none of this didn’t end up in the blog post at RescuePost. Is it because besides not doing any actual interviews they also didn’t do even basic web-research?

  • http://www.bipolarblog.co.uk Kev

    I liked Katie Wright’s little rant. I wonder how Chung and Grinker’s other daughter feels about suddenly ceasing to exist?

    Truth is, these guys love nothing better than a silly little conspiracy theory. It makes them feel important and gives them something to fret about now MMR and thiomersal are out the picture.

  • http://www.jonathans-stories.com jonathan

    I find it interesting that the appointment of Grinker’s wife presents such an impropiety. Yet it is okay with these people that Rick Rollens started the MIND institute in my state (california) for 28 million bucks largely at taxpayer expense. Has funded mady horning’s mouse model studies trying to show a thimerosal connection. Funded a one million dollar study all at California taxpayer’s expense claiming there was no autism epidemic. Also the fact that Rollens is allied with SAFEMINDS and others who are litigating against vaccine companies. Rollen’s blatant conflicts of interest don’t seem to represent an impropiety. I wonder why the double standard?

  • http://www.jonathans-stories.com jonathan

    correction to last post, funded a study claiming there was an autism epidemic.

  • http://www.neurodiversity.com/weblog Kathleen Seidel

    Kristina, my thoughts exactly. Thank you.

  • Marcie

    >I wonder how Chung and Grinker’s other >daughter feels about suddenly ceasing to exist?

    Apparently, Katie Wright hasn’t even bothered to read the book she’s talking about. She also would have realized that though Grinker does talk about autism as a difference that should be recognized as such, he also takes it very seriously as disability.

  • http://autism.about.com Lisa Rudy

    Kristina, you crack me up!!

  • http://www.tismylife.com ange

    Kristina, this post made me giggle just because I appreciate the tone here. I am saddened however by the existence of such a website existing. I noticed an extra white space in your post. What did you delete? Just kidding…

  • http://www.tismylife.com ange

    Kristina, this post made me giggle just because I appreciate the tone here. I am saddened however by the existence of such a website. I noticed an extra white space in your post. What did you delete? Just kidding…

  • Joel B.

    The answer to the question of why a “journalist” like Olmsted wouldn’t contact Grinker is because conspiracies are fueled by lack of knowledge. If Grinker said, “Oh, the redacted portion is about x,y, and z, and I’d be glad to send it to you, there’d be no story.” By the way, I noticed that all the emails are AFTER the publication of Grinker’s book. So he had no contact with the CDC before he published the book? That doesn’t support the conspiracy theory.

    And as for the wife thing. She’s a central part of Grinker’s book. And I read all about her in some news stories. Why is this considered secret? Isn’t the question whether the IACC thinks she is doing a good job not what that website thinks about her husband? I can understand how some people who understand nothing about the process of federal government research priorities and grants can blog ridiculous stuff. But Olmsted? He worked for UPI for years! He’s a journalist, isn’t he? What’s up with that? He really owes Grinker or Grinker’s wife an apology. It’s quite shameful and unprofessional of him to put this in as managing editor. He’s not worthy of being called a journalist anymore if he does this kind of stuff. He could be called a blogger, maybe. But not a journalist.

  • Bink

    What Marcie said. Obviously these people have not even bothered to read Grinker’s book. It makes one question what other things they haven’t bothered to read. It’s all so ridiculous. It reminds me of extreme right-wing radio hosts ranting about Barack Obama or something.

  • http://parents.com/autismville Autismville

    Glad to year your take on it Dr. Chew. I’ve been pondering this since I read it yesterday. I think your point about them actually talking to Dr. Grinker or Dr. Chung is really an excellent one I hadn’t thought of. I’m sure they could shed some light on the situation.

    I do have mixed feelings about this. With all of the endless “contreversy” in the autism community, it would have been nice to not have to deal with another one. It will be interesting to observe Dr. Chung and the direction that her work takes. I don’t know exactly how the burearacracy works, but I assume it’s not a dictatorship.

    Another thing I thought about as I mulled all this over is how I’ve been married to a wonderful man for going on ten years now. We are devoted to each other and our marriage. However, some of our most bitter disagreements (and let’s face it — we all have them…) have been on autism-related issues. I would dare say that if I wrote a book about autism (which I have absolutely no aspiration to do) that my dear husband would cringe at some of the things I wrote. He sees things in a very black and white matter. I’m more in the shades of gray …

    Another point about independence, marriage, etc. is the supposed 80% divorce rate espoused by the NAA (of which Katie is a board member). Seems if those numbers are accurate, that many spouses don’t see eye to eye on everything autism… Hmmm…

    At the end of the day though, I just hate to see yet another contreversy brewing. You’re correct. There are far more pressing matters at hand.

  • http://parents.com/autismville Autismville

    Can’t spell! I meant contrOversy…. :)

  • HCN

    “Why did Dan Olmsted, in his capacity as editor of The Age of Autism and as a journalist, not call Grinker for an interview?”

    For the same reason he never went to the Clinic for Special Children in Lancaster, PA when he was “researching” the Amish: He does not do interviews or research to get answers that go counter with his preconceived conclusions.

    He would rather on on speculations and wild guesses instead of real information.

    This is must be the primary reason that UPI dropped him, and he now works for a blog.

  • Leila

    Academia is a small world, and it’s rather common that scholars with autistic offspring or siblings may pursue autism-related research. Washington, D.C. is also smaller than people think. It doesn’t strike me as odd or wrong that Joyce Chung is working for the NIMH. I bet she has all the credentials to do a great job.

  • Regan

    HCN said,
    He would rather on on speculations and wild guesses instead of real information.

    But wait, that can’t be true! I read this right here on the Editor’s statement…

    “…The Age of Autism will be wide-open and transparent in its reporting and commentary on causes and treatments; I am beholden to no individual, organization or fixed point of view. My commitment is to in-depth reporting…”

    Seems like they are making a big deal that Joyce Chung is married to Roy Grinker, and that they have…(cue the scary music)…children. Must have been a very slow news day.

  • http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2008/01/inspirational-w.html Liz D.

    A wonderful piece, my dear. Ridicule with a light hand.

    Conspiracy theorists are always a bit pathetic, it seems to me.

    And I liked this one from the Ginger:


    A year or so before I became a mom, me and 4 of my friends started a prayer group/bible study type thing. Two of the five of us now have autistic sons. Another has a daughter with severe autoimmune disorder.

    See! Prayer & bible study cause autism!

  • http://club166.blogspot.com/ Club 166

    Thanks for writing this, Kristina.

    I seem to avoid many sites, so as not to upset my stomach more than it needs to be. But I think it necessary that someone monitor what the lunatic fringe are up to, and reading your posts about them make me laugh instead of cry.

    Joe

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Regan said,
    “Seems like they are making a big deal that Joyce Chung is married to Roy Grinker, and that they have…(cue the scary music)…children. Must have been a very slow news day.”
    I might imagine they’re going to have many more very slow news days, trying to uncover the conspiracy that really doesn’t exist (tomorrow will be that Roy Grinker met someone from the CDC while at line for groceries, I’ll bet). Apparently, the fact that they are married says something to someone else, but really it doesn’t say anything important to me, like others here.

  • Bink

    Can anyone imagine the incredible incentive anyone at the CDC would have to be a whistleblower, if there were anything being covered up? Anyone who showed proof of this conspiracy would be a national hero, would go down in history books, would command millions in speaking fees. But these conspiracy theorists believe that thousands and thousands of people are keeping this supposed secret. Right. That makes sense.

  • Leila

    “tomorrow will be that Roy Grinker met someone from the CDC while at line for groceries, I’ll bet”

    LOL!!!!

  • Chuck

    Bink,

    You don’t understand politics. Whistleblower protection laws don’t work for political agencies. Anyone who does bow the whistle will never advance in their career, if they are able to keep it at all. If they can’t keep their job, they will not be hired as a consultant or a contractor. Any “speaking fees” they may be able to generate will not replace their original salary and are short term at best.

    There are many whistleblowers that exposed government fraud and waste from DOD, NASA, and other agencies. Can you name any? Name the whistleblower that exposed the WorldCom fiasco? She isn’t in telecom anymore if that is a hint.

  • Matt

    On whistleblowers, the following rhetorical question was posted to an autism yahoo group:

    “This is another important missing element in support of the mercury hypothesis: where are the whistle blowers? Even amongst the worst thieves and scoundrels, there are a few who eventually seek to tell the truth and find atonement for their sins. Where are they? ”

    Was this posted by a Hub blogger? One of the “neurodiverse”? Nope, it was posted by Lenny Shafer, the guy who runs the Evidence of Harm yahoo group.

    Tell me that the CDC pays so well that no one is going to come forward. The way people talk about agencies like the CDC sometimes I’d expect to find all the people working for them to have tatoos and missing finger joints (OK, that was an obscure Yakuza reference).

  • Bink

    Hee hee, that the CDC pays so well that no one would come forward. Ha ha, to the idea that the person could not earn speaking fees. And how about the book contract that person would sign? It would be HUGE. If it were possible.

    Signed, I may “not understand politics” but at least I took high school science classes

  • http://www.bipolarblog.co.uk Kev

    Good reasons Joyce Chung should have this appointment:

    1) She’s damn good at her job
    2) She’s professionally autism-neutral
    3) She’s educated to an extent she can understand the science (and ignore the quackery – which is really what annoys Bradders et al)
    4) From what I can see she has no pharma funding anywhere, ever.

  • Chuck

    It is not statistically unlikely that Grinker wouldn’t meet someone from the CDC while standing in line for groceries since he lives and works in the metro DC area.

    Given the quality of news reporting, it might be a good article for someone at The Post.

  • MJ

    I may be the only one but I am concerned about appointing someone to run the IACC who has a strong bias coming into the job. And in absence of evidence to the contrary, I am inclined to believe Joyce Chung’s opinions are going to be similar to her husband’s.

    I would prefer a neutral party coming into the job without any preconceived notions rather than someone who has made up their mind about what is happening with autism.

    I hope that I am wrong and that she will dedicate resources to following all of the relevant leads and not just the ones that fit her existing ideas.

  • http://www.bipolarblog.co.uk Kev

    She has been appointed for her scientific reputation in part. That means she will almost certainly ignore quackery. Bad news for epidemic fantasists.

  • http://theasman.blogspot.comq The AS Man

    ========
    If you walk for Autism Speaks, ask for your money back
    ==========

    see even he can have a good idea!

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    Joyce Chung is not “running” the IACC. She is the “coordinator” and is overseeing the writing of the report for the Strategic Plan.

    Some of the members appointed to the IACC—like Lyn Redwood, the president of Safe Minds—-also have a “strong bias” regarding issues in autism research.

  • Regan

    Joyce Chung, M.D. is the Executive Secretary

    IACC members
    CHAIR
    Insel, Thomas R., M.D.
    (who IS NOT married to Roy Grinker)

    FEDERAL MEMBERS
    (I don’t think any of them are either).
    Alexander, Duane F., M.D
    Battey, James F., M.D., Ph.D.
    Blackwell, Ellen W., MSW
    Giannini, Margaret, M.D., F.A.A.P
    Houle, Gail R., Ph.D.
    Huang, Larke N., Ph.D.
    Landis, Story C., Ph.D.
    Lawler, Cindy, Ph.D.
    Morrissey, Patricia A., Ph.D.
    Trevathan, Edwin, M.D., MPH
    van Dyck, Peter, M.D., MPH
    Zerhouni, Elias, M.D.

    PUBLIC MEMBERS
    (ditto).
    Grossman, Lee
    Janvier, Yvette M., M.D.
    McKee, Christine M., JD
    Redwood, Lyn, RN, MSN
    Singer, Alison Tepper, MBA
    Shore, Stephen M., Ed.D.

    Here’s the website to make it easier for “Scoop” Handley or whoever to find hot news from the previous meeting minutes.
    http://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-funding/scientific-meetings/recurring-meetings/iacc/events/

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

    I teach my students about pseudoscience as part of our exercises in critical thinking. The hallmarks of pseudoscience include promises of cure where that has been unlikely even with most recent developments; mutterings about conspiracies on the part of the “establishment”; promises that the therapy will have global effects, often on unrelated systems; an unwillingness to rely on standardized testing and research approaches or a refusal to accept data from the “establishment”; involvement of an obvious agenda or bias; a lack of application of ALL the steps of the scientific method; reliance of anecdote for claims of success; and reliance on confirmation rather than refutation. Guess what I get to use these days as an example of pseudoscience for my students?

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

    And there’s a nice old saw about what people do when they can’t find a way to address the message: it’s called attacking the messenger.

  • Matt

    I may be the only one but I am concerned about appointing someone to run the IACC who has a strong bias coming into the job.

    The job of the coordinator, to my limited understanding, is not to decide what research is to be done, or even what the strategic plan should be. Her job appears to be to coordinate the meetings where others will discuss the strategic plan.

    Thus, it is not whether she has any bias or not (and nothing has been publically stated about this). It is whether she can, bias or no, run a fair meeting and write a fair report for the strategic plan based on the information presented.

    If you assume that she has a bias and then assume that she will act on that presumed bias, you are two steps away from any facts.

    Frankly, people who assume the worst about Dr. Chung are telling us more about themselves than her.

  • Joel B.

    My opinion is that it is better NOT to have someone organize the meetings who is an autism expert/researcher. Someone in the autism research community would have a lot at stake, not wanting to take a stand against people in power, etc. Better to have someone with a little distance, and thus few conflicts of interest. So it seems to me that Chung has fewer conflicts of interest than anyone who is in the research community. And remember: the goal of the IACC is produce a strategic plan for autism RESEARCH that is scientifically rigorous and do-able. Would you want someone who is an autism genetics researcher in charge of coordinating the plan to shape research priorities? No. Because the person would have a strong interest in advocating their own line of work. No one is without biases and opinions. But like judges and juries, who have to set aside their biases for the sake of fairness, we should assume that the autism coordinator will be a fair-minded person. Presumed innocent, perhaps? Trusted? Evaluated on the content of their work rather than one’s person opinion about her husband’s book (which, at any rate, is by all accounts an outstanding work)?

  • Regan

    When I read the Age of Autism article, my reaction was “piffle”, but then I know who is on the IACC and why it might be piffle.

    But reflecting on it, I am a irked, because folks who might not fact check it ARE going to be worried or have a false impression. That’s that internet misinformation that I was commenting on yesterday…and in this case malicious and distracting troublemaking. As Kristina noted, here’s more than enough real issues to address.

  • Julie Woods

    Also: Why would these people want to alienate someone involved with the IACC? Isn’t that counterproductive?

  • MJ

    “Joyce Chung is not “running” the IACC. She is the “coordinator” and is overseeing the writing of the report for the Strategic Plan.”

    Then I apologize, I must have missed where the role of the executive secretary was defined. I looked at the web site here :
    http://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-funding/scientific-meetings/recurring-meetings/iacc/index.shtml

    but I didn’t see any explicit definition of what the role entails. Do you have a source for your statement?

    “But like judges and juries, who have to set aside their biases for the sake of fairness, we should assume that the autism coordinator will be a fair-minded person.”

    Ever serve on a jury or talk to a judge?

    “If you assume that she has a bias and then assume that she will act on that presumed bias, you are two steps away from any facts.”

    Hmm, I assume that the accounts of who she is married to are correct. That would be a fact. I assume that spouses who work in the same field talk about said field. That isn’t a certainty but I would argue that for the overwhelming majority of cases that statement would hold true.

    Therefore it is reasonable to assume that at the very least her husband has discussed his ideas with her and it is also reasonable to assume that she would agree with some part of them.

    Furthermore most people will act out of their beliefs, even (and especially) medial professionals and scientists.

    But again, I hope to be proven wrong.

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    @MJ, I was at the November IACC meeting and that was how Dr. Chung’s role was explained.

  • Regan

    Even in her role as Executive Secretary/Coordinator–
    she is 1 out of 20 people associated with the IACC, who I also assume have spouses, and may discuss matters, and if you read their bios, have some connection to autism, disability services or mental health in one way or another. I have no doubt that at least some of the public members have distinct points of view, and possibly even some preexisting opinion, which is why they were appointed to this committee.
    This just seems like a real non-issue.

  • Matt

    but I didn’t see any explicit definition of what the role entails. Do you have a source for your statement?

    Besides the statements on the IACC website about how Dr. Insel is the chair?

  • Matt

    Let’s make one thing clear–I wouldn’t mind if Grinker himself were the actual chair of the IACC if there was evidence he would act fairly. Likewise, I woudn’t mind if Handely were chair, if he met the same requirements.

    It isn’t what they believe, but how they act.

    The very fact that there is apparantly no public comment from Dr. Chung on her views is a good sign, don’t you think?

    This whole little outburst by Mr. Handley is what we used to call the “third down punt”. Rather than wait to see if the IACC is run fairly, he is complaining ahead of time.

    He wants people to ask Dr. Chung some supposedly “hard” questions at the IACC meetings. My guess is that if anyone did, most of the members would answer with:

    JB Who?

  • Joel B.

    Joyce Chung is just the autism coordinator, and not the Executive Secretary of the IACC. That would be someone named else. Her name is Ann Wagner.

  • Regan

    Thanks for the correction.

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    In light of the discussion here and noting, once again, that Dan Olmsted is the editor of Age of Autism, which has published those posts with Handley’s conspiratorial imaginings—– I thought it might be pertinent to share a comment that Dan Olmsted made about Richard Grinker’s book (it was sent to me a while back).

    From: Dan Olmsted
    Sent: Monday, January 29, 2007 7:49 am
    To: Roy Grinker
    Subject: RE: Thanks

    I strongly feel people need to take different positions without getting vilified. And as I said, [Unstrange Minds is] a wonderfully written book that was a pleasure to read. Best, Dan

  • Joel B.

    A google search turned up a really positive review of UnstrangeMinds written by Olmstead. He says it is a great book even though he disagrees with the conclusions. Weird.

  • http://www.bipolarblog.co.uk Kev

    Dan Olmsted co-opted himself when he allowed Brad and his band of antivax kooks to utilise his name and status.

    Lesson learnt Mr Olmsted? Maybe take your blog and domain name back under your own control?

  • TheProbe

    “I find it interesting that the appointment of Grinker’s wife presents such an impropiety. Yet it is okay with these people that Rick Rollens started the MIND institute in my state (california) for 28 million bucks largely at taxpayer expense. Has funded mady horning’s mouse model studies trying to show a thimerosal connection. Funded a one million dollar study all at California taxpayer’s expense claiming there was no autism epidemic. Also the fact that Rollens is allied with SAFEMINDS and others who are litigating against vaccine companies. Rollen’s blatant conflicts of interest don’t seem to represent an impropiety. I wonder why the double standard?”

    Simple. If the anti-vac liar sociopaths did not have double standards, they would not have any standards.

    Humor aside, the more I read of their antics, the more Orwellian they seem to me.

  • http://www.photoninthedarkness.com Prometheus

    Even if Dr. Chung shared her husband’s relatively moderate views about autism causation and the “autism epidemic” and even if she allowed them to influence her actions, what about the other members of the IACC, who very clearly hold strong views about the causation and treatment of autism?

    Lee Grossman, President and CEO of the Autistic Society of America

    Lynn Redwood, founder of NAA and President of SafeMinds

    Alison Singer, Executive Vice President of Autism Speaks

    Again, even if Dr. Chung used her position to try to counter the “strongly held views” (i.e. “biases”) of these three (and there may be more that I don’t recognize), she’s still outnumbered 3 to 1.

    Maybe we should ask to have more people who don’t buy in to the “autism epidemic” on the IACC, just for balance.

    Prometheus

  • Joel B.

    So do you think Olmsted will apologize to Chung? He certainly ought to. The author of the post cannot be blamed. He is who he is. But the editor, Olmsted, has a reputation at stake, doesn’t he?

  • http://www.bipolarblog.co.uk Kev

    To be honest Joel I think any ‘writer’ who’s gone from being a proper journalist to blogging part time for a group of people widely regarded as kooks hasn’t got much of a reputation left.

  • Joel B.

    I know, but I just think that Dan, with his experience in journalism, wouldn’t want to be considered on the same level as Brad.

    J.B.

  • Regan

    “The author of the post cannot be blamed. He is who he is.”

    So, then what defines the role of the Editor? Apologist?

  • thinkolmstedisaloon

    I started thinking of DAN Olmsted as just as bad as Brad when he **stalked** that poor man who was one of Kanner’s original patients and tried to talk to him and did talk to his brother. Then Olmsted whipped up a cure for autism (neurotoxic gold salts) I still think what dippy DAN did was illegal, and I’d like to know how he found out the real names of these original Kanner patients. Does DAN have my childhood health records? Yours? Will he blog them? Will he show up on your doorstep one day to ask you more questions about them?

  • Joel B.

    The editor should never have to be an apologist, but that is what an editor has to do if an apology is called for. The editor’s job is supervise the writing process and then make the decision about whether something should be published.

    So I guess what I mean is that the editor should have never published that stuff. An author writes something, the editor should make a judgment about whether it is good, ethical, well-written, makes an important contribution, etc. That’s why I think the author isn’t to blame here in my view as much as the editor. The editor is ultimately the one responsible for what is published.

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    Handley’s piece could, I suppose, be said to have “sources”—the information that various commenters on Age of Autism found about Dr. Chung online. But the speculations and inferences that Handley and a number of commenters then made exemplify what many college students write in a freshman composition class. They insert quotations from a source and then—-in an attempt to follow the directions to “analyze”—-they riff on whatever comes to mind. This makes for some (sometimes) interesting papers but more than a few elements are lacking.

    Perhaps one might say that the Age of Autism is a digital blogpaper.

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  • Robin Bailey

    Ahhhh, spoken like an armchair expert, Dr.Chew. Way back in the dark ages of autism (1996), my son had been diagnosed as severly autistic with mental retardation. He was 18 months old. I was given a list of all the things he would never do….never talk, never imitate, never socialize, never, never, never….. we had him go through two rounds of DMSA to release heavy metals from his system (which he tested “high” for) and within two weeks of the first dose, he said his first sentence. He began to make better eye contact…. He has not been totally healed of autism, but next week he stars in a lead part of the High School’s “Little Shop of Horrors” play, in which he sings, dances and has major lines. He mainstreamed into Kindergarten on schedule and has never been in special ed. Oh, wait, I know – maybe he never had autism to begin with – yeah right.