• Fri, Apr 25 2008

Politicking, Pandering, and Paranoia

Considering how many pressing issues there are to talk regarding children and adults—education, employment, housing, to name a very few—-why do we keep getting stuck talking about the hypothetical claim of a link between vaccines and autism?

Here’s some thoughts towards why the whole issue seems to have devolved into something approaching paranoia, not to mention pander for politicians (and all the more after what two of the presidential candidates have said about autism, vaccines, and the “autism epidemic”).

In a recent essay entitled The Paranoid Style in American Science, Daniel Engbar, associate editor at Slate, writes about critics of mainstream science “whose skepticism has taken on the trappings of conspiracy theory.” Engbar is specifically writing in reference to the just-released Ben Stein documentary entitled Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed which claims that American educators and scientists who believe that there is evidence of intelligent design in nature are being persecuted for their beliefs. (The National Center for Science Education has created Expelled Exposed, which explains why the movie is “not a documentary at all, but anti-science propaganda aimed at creating the appearance of controversy where there is none.”)

Other examples of the “rise in conspirational thinking in science” include a controversy overly familiar in discussions about autism, the alleged link between vaccines and autism. Writes Engbar:

The proponents of intelligent design are far from the only critics of mainstream science whose skepticism has taken on the trappings of conspiracy theory. In a 2005 article for Salon and Rolling Stone, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. reported on a top-secret meeting in rural Georgia where high-level government officials and pharmaceutical executives worked to cover up the link between children’s vaccines and autism. (No such link has been found.) The public utilities are still accused, as they have been for more than 50 years, of conspiring against America’s youth by fluoridating the water supply. And skeptics of the obesity epidemic point out that the media collude with pharmaceutical companies to feed a booming weight-loss industry. Paranoid science reveals nonmedical conspiracies, too—impenetrable ballistics data form the basis for a theory of the assassination of JFK, and the calculations of structural engineering cast doubt on the official story of 9/11.

Healthy skepticism and thoughtful critique of science have turned into paranoia and an adherence to pseudoscience which looks like science, sounds authoritative, and tends to quack (as in quackery). In the meantime, the hypothesis that vaccines (like the MMR) or something in vaccines (such as mercury) are a causative factor autism has lodged itself deeply in the public’s consciousness, and the carefully reasoned protests of scientists about vaccines saving lives and the threats to herd immunity have so far fallen on some very deaf ears.

To explain this turn to paranoia and unreasonable, accusatory suspicion, Engbar quotes historian Richard Hofstadter‘s 1964 essay on the “paranoid style in American politics“:

The paranoid style, Hofstadter wrote, “is nothing if not scholarly in its technique.” In his mainstream enemies, the conspiratorial thinker sees “a projection of the self”—he’s just like them but more discerning and more rational. Indeed, for the paranoid skeptics, it’s not that science is wrong but that the scientists aren’t scientific enough……..

Proponents of a hypothetical vaccine-autism link are indeed “nothing if not scholarly” in their technique. From the 2001 article Autism: a novel form of mercury poisoning to the writings of David Kirby, to the “Lupron protocol” of Mark Geier and David Geier, those who believe that vaccines directly contribute to autism make constant reference to “science” and “research” and “studies.” Proponents of a vaccine-autism link offer themselves as maverick citizen-scientists who, uninfluenced by Big Pharma and driven by a parents’ need to know “what happened to my child,” are not afraid to stand up to the CDC, government science agencies, and research scientists. They are what Hofstadter terms a “scholarly paranoid.” And, as Engbar notes:

The scholarly paranoid, says Hofstadter, is also an apocalyptic thinker, “always manning the barricades of civilization.” At least one-third of Expelled is given over to the idea that evolutionary theory caused the Holocaust, via government-sponsored social Darwinism. (In pondering this terrible legacy, Ben Stein weeps at Dachau.) If the paranoid style in politics worried over the end of democracy, the paranoid style in science sees evolution as the end of values, antidepressants as the end of emotion, and genetically modified crops as the end of biodiversity.

These catastrophic fantasies may be an inevitable result of skepticism run amok.

Indeed. Proponents of a vaccine-autism speak frequently of autism in apocalyptic language that suggests there’s a lot of catastrophic thinking going on. The language of disaster is often referred to: Autism is a “tsunami“; autism is an “epidemic”; autism is a “national health emergency.” The very advances of modern science have, some proponents of a vaccine-autism link contend, created some new and awful scourge that threatens our children.

In an earlier post, Elementary, My Dear Mr. Handley—-Mr. Handley being J.B. Handley, the founder of Generation Rescue, which alleges that autism and other neurological disorders are caused by an “overload of heavy metals, live viruses, and bacteria”—-I wrote:

…..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.”

What’s the purpose ultimately of tracking down a conspiracy about autism and vaccines? The more reports of “evidence” “confirming” the autism-vaccine hypothesis that I read, the less these seem to be about autism. Tracking down the truth about an alleged conspiracy involving the government, vaccines and autism has become an end itself and somehow I don’t think this is in the best interest of preparing education, supports, and services for autistic children growing up to be autistic adults. The recent subpoenas of blogger Kathleen Seidel, who has carefully documented vaccine injury litagation, and Dr. Maria McCormick, who has spoken publicly and straightforwardly about there being no link between vaccines and autism, are examples of this (potentially fruitless) tendency towards conspirational thinking in proponents of a vaccine-autism link. (The subpoena against Seidel was recently quashed; a concise analysis is offered by Ars Technica.)

Conspiracy theories and controversy—especially a medical controversy involving children— attract attention, and all the more when wrapped in scholarly references and scientific-looking theories. Who doesn’t want to be proven smarter than the scientists, especially those who work for the government?

Rather than pander to the theory- and the conspiracy-mongers, I’m keeping my thoughts on those pressing issues of education, employment, housing, training and support for staff and emergency personnel and medical professionals and I don’t know who else. As of his annual check-up last Monday, my not-yet-11-year-old son if 7/8 inch taller than me. He’s muscular and shocked another boy at the pool by how fast he can swim: If things were different, I wager that Charlie would have been recruited to play defense on the high school football team. Things being as they are, he is not (okay by me). Things being as they are, pandering and paranoia aren’t going to get me too far in helping him. But being practical, pragmatic, and political-minded: These are a necessary style of thinking to foster the kinds of changes in our society that will most help  Charlie and many autistic children and adult; that will make a real difference in their and our lives.

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  • stopautismquackery

    Superb post!

  • Ms. Clark

    Very well said.

  • Pingback: DeafPulse.com - the one-stop pulse for all Deaf-related news and blogs.

  • It won’t matter

    The rabid scramble to get on board with every “new” fad-(false)cure trumps just living life to its fullest. The mirage of miracle cure lures many desperate parents into the downward spiral of expensive snake oil club. The problem is that the cost isn’t just measured in dollars.

    Nice post, brace for the haters.

  • brian

    Hi –

    Haha! I was thinking about being considered a conspiracy theorist last night. What I came up with is that both sides of the vaccine / autism issue seem to be willing to believe some pretty absurd things.

    On one side, we have the argument made that it would take a massive conspiracy; doctors and the pharmaceutical companies know vaccines cause autism, but they all keep their mouths shut about it to keep the secret. The keepers of the secret go so far as to put their own children in danger in order to preserve the conspiracy.

    On the other, we have the argument made that even though we know very little about autism, can’t tell you what causes it, have no idea what might help it, or even if it is increasing or not, that there is one undisputable fact about autism; vaccines can’t cause it. This one thing is so certain, it is the singular area of autism that requires no additional research.

    Both seem pretty far reaching to me. (?) Flame away.

    Anyways, I heard that thing re: Ben Stein and got really depressed. He is a very, very smart guy and it just goes to show you that being smart in one area, or even a great number of them, doesn’t make you immune from believing what you want to in some circumstances.

    - brian

  • http://autism.gbrettmiller.com Brett

    This quote from Max Planck comes to mind:

    “A … scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

  • http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com Joseph

    On the other, we have the argument made that even though we know very little about autism, can’t tell you what causes it, have no idea what might help it, or even if it is increasing or not, that there is one undisputable fact about autism; vaccines can’t cause it. This one thing is so certain, it is the singular area of autism that requires no additional research.

    In other words, believing in an irrational conspiracy theory is pretty much equivalent to accepting scientific evidence?

  • http://wskrz.wordpress.com wskrz

    Kristina, this was -fabulous!- Very well said.

    And you’re 100% correct – the focus should be on what we can do for our kids today and in the future, not lingering over what may (or may not) have happened in the past. That does nothing to help our kids with the needs that they face.

  • http://www.photoninthedarkness.com Prometheus

    Brian brings up a fairly standard canard used by a number of autism conspiracy theorists: that since we don’t know what causes autism, we can’t know what DOESN’T cause autism.

    This sort of “reasoning” makes for a good “sound bite”, but doesn’t stand up to even cursory examination.

    Imagine a police detective using that same sort of “reasoning” – “If we don’t know who murdered Mr. Smith, then we can’t eliminate ANYBODY. You’re ALL suspects – all 6 billion of you! Even me!”

    It’s just plain silly.

    I will be the first to say that the available data doesn’t COMPLETELY exonerate ANY cause bacause science doesn’t deal in absolute “truth” (if you want to discuss absolute “truths”, go to church). Science is RARELY able to say that something CANNOT happen, just that the chance of it happening is very remote.

    [Note to potential quibblers: it IS possible - on occasion - to scientifically assert that something DIDN'T happen, but not that it CANNOT happen.]

    What science CAN say – given the available data – is that vaccines and mercury are not associated with autism. And while I’ve ALSO repeatedly said that association does not equal causation, it is EXTREMELY unlikely that something that CAUSES autism wouldn’t be ASSOCIATED with it.

    Finally, about Max Planck’s statement”

    “A … scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    I sincerely hope that we will not have to wait until all of the conspiracy theorists and pseudoscience “believers” die to put the vaccines-cause-autism fad behind us.

    Prometheus

  • ebohlman

    Brian: It’s possible to rule out a specific proposed cause for a phenomenon without knowing the actual cause. You just look at the predictions that the specific causal hypothesis makes and see whether they can be sustained. That’s usually the way science progresses: you have a bunch of specific hypotheses and you test each of them. Most of them will fail the test, so the list gradually gets smaller.

  • Chuck

    Just want to recap,

    You spend a great deal of space discussing a topic you do not really want to talk about anymore and offer little space to discuss topics you do want to discuss. Why pander to it?

    Let’s discuss what does need to be addressed.

    1) IDEA has never been fully funded, so our children will not receive a proper education.

    2) Social Security is a house of cards that will not be able to support our children who cannot take care of themselves and are not educated.

    3) Combating Autism Act sends a great deal of money to NIH and none of these efforts will have any real material effects on our children. A poor allocation of resources.

    4) You are expecting the Federal government to pony up and help with employment opportunities. I recently worked at DOL ETA (http://www.doleta.gov/). Good luck with that.

    5) None of the major “organizations” are addressing these issues that I am aware of.

    6) None of the wannabe presidents made any kind of statements addressing these issues or how their administration would resolve them.

    7) If the issues are not addressed at a federal level, then we each have to scramble at a state level. This eliminates any collective negotiating benefits that a national “organization” might have.

    This is just a “off the top of my head” list of problems for individuals and doesn’t address supporting families.

    Some sort of respectable guidance would be deeply appreciated.

  • HCN

    Chuck said “2) Social Security is a house of cards that will not be able to support our children who cannot take care of themselves and are not educated.”

    AAARGH!

    I have a now adult severely learning disabled son who can be on our health insurance until he is 25. He has several health issues, not the least of which is his genetic heart condition.

    We’ve been told multiple times to sign him up for SSI, and we would really like to. But as good parents we created a savings account for him. We also put in the checks his grandparents (and lately his uncle for his high school graduation) gave him… so it was way above the $2000 maximum allowed.

    I have used a good chunk to pay his community college tuition and buy books. But it keeps creeping up above that arbitrary level that has not changed since the 1960s!

    He is in line to get supervised employment through an agency that helps get the disabled gainful employment. He plans to save his money!

    More AARGH!

    I hope he can get employed with a company with good health insurance, since he may be too “rich” to get Medicaid through SSI.

  • Chuck

    Those regs are in place to hold the house of cards up. I am working closely with a non-profit that has an “in-house” program. It is rare for them to find anything else. Is you agency a national or regional organization?

    IMHO Ditch the savings and set up a well defined trust that doesn’t infringe on SSI regs.

  • brian

    Hi everyone!

    The problem is that the studies supporting no association between vaccines and autism are frequently very weak; this fuels conpiracism. (sp?) If I put up a chart of autism rates over time and say there is an epidemic, I’m told that prevalance rates are not realistic measures over time. Superimpose vaccination rates without a particular preservative on top, however, and suddenly we have top rate science we can use to prove something isn’t causing autism. Such studies are the foundation of the scientific evidence I am accused of ignoring.

    Promotheus – You have mistated my position. It isn’t just that we don’t know what causes autism; we know precious little else about the disorder. (A position I believe I’ve seen you take) It is not as if we have everything but the cause identified; but rather, we have nearly nothing identified either. The causes, and effect, of the vast array of physiological differences in a child with autism and one without are confusing everyone. How can we safely assume a particular series of agents and immune reactions are not responsible by studying them individually? Stating this question does not make me anti vaccine, or spouting canards.

    In any case, a study of children who have been vaccinated and those that have not would go a long way; the fact that such a study has yet to be commissioned leads people to believe in conspiracy theories more than any internet postings might.

    Ebholman – I agree with you completely. Unfortunately, the tests we do have available all involve the presence or absence of a particular vaccine, or preservative. We have no studies involving vaccinated and unvaccinated cohorts that have failed this test. This would also be a good way to eliminate the moving goalpost problem; it can’t be the glutamate, the aluminum, the use of antibiotics, the having a fever during vaccination, age at time of vaccination, and any other sub theories. We have no such study.

    Everyone: The evidence for a vaccine autism link is primarily annectodal. I fully admit this. What I don’t see many others admitting, however, is that the evidence vindicating vaccines is largely faulty, and entirely comprised of testing individual components of an increasingly complicated, and often times compressed schedule. The fact that we do not understand a mechanism by which vaccines might cause autism is irrelevant; we know very, very little about autism!

    I am actually of the opinion that any number of environmental insults could cause neurological impariments; our children are swimming in a sea of chemicals unknown to our predecssors; including vaccines. The combination of these chemicals on developing fetuses is largely unknown. The long term effects of BPA, or endocrine disrupters, will not be known to us for a long time; but the way that some of the effects were identified have nothing to do with how vaccinations have been studied thus far. Imagine a study exhonerating BPA from ill effects where one group got twenty doses of BPA, and the other got eighteen; science then proclaims that BPA does not cause significant problems. If someone questions the validity of such a study; they are told that they are ignoring scientific evidence.

    Does this make me a conspiracy theorist?

    Anyways, have a great weekend!

    Brian

  • http://www.liquidzeoliteplus.com Mike

    Slate magazine is an arm of the “establishment” for the past 40 years. The editor, Jacob Weisberg, who used to write for “New Republic”, (neo-con rag) wrote the neo-con book “In Defense of Government” . So what you say? So I say they have an agenda. Is it that hard to phantom the idea that people have agenda’s, biases, world views, financial objectives, which are transparent? We don’t require a disclosure when we write something or post our opinion. Thus, any intelligent person can see right through any statement and know the authors agenda. In this case, the author of that conspiracy theory piece wants to call anyone who questions “the machine” a conspiracy theorist, i.e, a nut. WOW! Is that amazing or what? Now we’re asked to believe whatever the governement says without question? Is this China or America folks? As for the “conspiracies” he lists as somehow “crazy”, most are not black and white subjects. This isn’t the kind of forum where you can prove anything and as such, stating that our governement lies to us is an exercise in futility. The bottom line is this. I don’t care that the governement lies to us, that’s what governments and politicians do, they lie lie lie lie LIE to archive their objectives. All I care is that I am allowed to do my own research, have my own opinion, be able to freely express my opinion, and then have the freedom to implement what I choose as far as healing and health on me and my family. Sadly, the drug companies don’t see things the same way and want to take away my choices and force their poison upon me and my children. That’s where I draw the line! It’s okay to kill an 8 month old baby in the womb but it’s not okay to treat your child with alternative medicine if they have a medical condition? If you do, expect to go to jail if the doctor calls protective services. Here’s one of many examples to ruminate over, Laurie Jessop. Google: Laurie Jessop CPS jail This mother was thrown in jail for curing her son of skin cancer instead of using traditional medicine. In other words, you as a parent DO NOT have freedom to choice in this country! If your doctor wants to financially ruin you and have you tossed in jail, they can if you refuse their poisons in lieu of non toxic natural treatments.

    To sum up, I give a rats arse if the government lies about poisoning us. You folks can go ahead and believe the “party line” and go on with your merry selves and feed your children fluoride water and pump them full of health promoting vaccinations and mercury, go head, knock yourselves out. Just don’t don’t force me to follow suit!

  • Morgan

    From Wikipedia: “Slate is an English-language online current-affairs and culture magazine created in 1996 by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley, initially under the ownership of Microsoft, as part of MSN.”
    Apparently an “arm of the establishment” for just 12 years.
    Also from Wikipedia: “The New Republic (TNR) is an American magazine published twice per month (published weekly before March 2007) and with a circulation between 40,000 and 65,000. . . . Politically, the magazine generally supports center-left, liberal policies.”
    Its recent transformation into a “neo-con rag” will come as quite a shock, I’m sure.

  • grenouille

    Mike, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the Laurie/Chad Jessop story is a simple internet scam. It’s right up there with Nigerian banks.

    You seriously need to spend more time checking your facts and your sources.

  • Synesthesia

    I must I agree with this article. I think more emphasis should be placed on how to help autistic people live in a world that can sometimes be hostile towards them.
    Really I’d like to see society’s attitudes change to that of understanding and compassion.
    I’d like to see more help go to autistic people in terms of jobs and education resources, but it seems to me like the Cure Autism Now concept gets in the way of that.
    Like there’s no need to make a building accessable for people in wheelchairs if a cure for paralysis is found…
    I don’t know.
    It frustrates me.

  • brian

    Hi Morgan -

    I think you might want to take a look at the new republic website before you tell anyone else you think that it ‘generally supports center-left, liberal policies’! This speaks more towards the ability of anyone to enter something into Wikipedia than anything else.

    Some headlines from the current New Republic:

    “Cover Story
    Voices in Her Head
    by Michelle Cottle
    Inside Hillaryland’s fatal psychodrama”

    “Manufacturing Plant
    by Dayo Olopade
    When hard hats go granola.”

    “Plouffe Piece
    by Noam Scheiber
    The commander of Obama’s nerd army.”

    From the front page of their Politics page:
    “Is Obama Really A Marxist?”

    This is your definition of center left, liberal? How fitting you’d post something like this on a thread about believing crazy stuff! The new republic, if nothing else, is a neo-con rag. Sorry.

    brian

  • http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com Joseph

    It seems that Mike has found a method by which he can continue to believe whatever he wants. If some data is presented that contradicts his beliefs, he just imagines there’s an agenda behind it. Problem solved.

    That’s how he can continue to believe things such as fluoride being the second most toxic substance, or “data” from a press release even though the original source of the data cannot be produced. California autism rates not dropping after removal of thimerosal? Maybe autistic kids in California don’t exist. DDS is just fabricating the numbers.

  • Chuck

    “California autism rates not dropping after removal of thimerosal?”

    A statistic cannot prove or disprove any theory for causation. Using this argument is a correlation=causation approach.

  • http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com Joseph

    Superimpose vaccination rates without a particular preservative on top, however, and suddenly we have top rate science we can use to prove something isn’t causing autism.

    Here’s how this works. There’s a hypothesis that says roughly the following: There exists an autism epidemic caused by an increase in the thimerosal dose per child from about 70mcg to about 180mcg (total exposure) in the early and mid 1990s. This correlation can be noticed in California prevalence by birth year cohort. I’m expressing the hypothesis pretty much as presented by Mark Blaxill to the IOM in 2001.

    That is the hypothesis that needs to be tested. Agreed? It doesn’t matter if independently we find that California autism ascertainment has improved with time, and that there are high levels of non-recognition of autism. We leave these other hypotheses aside for the time being.

    Basically, in order to test the hypothesis, we assume the hypothesis is true. That is, we assume California rates are fairly accurate. We assume there really has been an epidemic.

    So what’s a good way to test the thimerosal hypothesis? You remove thimerosal from pediatric vaccines. You don’t have to remove all. It would be sufficient to leave total exposure at 70mcg.

    Clearly, the test failed, notwithstanding various rationalizations that have been subsequently provided.

    This, of course, does not *prove* the hypothesis is false. Science works by induction, not deduction.

    One interesting conclusion of all this is that anyone who believes there has been a huge autism epidemic by implication believes a total exposure of 70mcg of thimerosal is quite safe.

  • http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com Joseph

    A statistic cannot prove or disprove any theory for causation. Using this argument is a correlation=causation approach.

    Coincidental trends and the failure of an expected effect are quite different things.

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

    @brian,

    what makes the studies disputing a connection between autism and vaccines “frequently very weak”?

  • brian

    Joseph –

    So what’s a good way to test the thimerosal hypothesis? You remove thimerosal from pediatric vaccines. You don’t have to remove all. It would be sufficient to leave total exposure at 70mcg.

    Aren’t we still left with a situation wherein we have taken a series of products with a vareity of ingredients and effects, removed one of the ingredients, and made conclusions about the series of products as a whole? Maybe not. (?)

    brian

  • Chuck

    The only thing that the rising numbers of DDS application proves is that there is a rising number of DDS applications.

  • brian

    Hi Kristina –

    Have you read my posts? Precisely what I have stated. For starters, they only take into consideration a single ingredient, or a single vaccine. I am willing to accept that I am incorrect in stating this. (?)

    Several of the “flagship” studies, such as those from Denmark, included wild changes in diagnosis criteria from start to finish. Autism at the beginning of the study came from hospital admissions only; to anyone diagnosed with autism anywhere in the country at the end of the study. It would literally be impossible for autism rates to decline during the timeframes of the study. The authors admit that this change could have artificially increased rates of autism. (How couldn’t it have?)

    But the real fodder for the conspiracy theorists is that these studies, exactly these studies, are trumpeted as being high quality by regulatory agencies. As far as the Denmark studies, we’ve been told, ‘It is difficult to conceive of a larger, betterconstructed, more definitive study than that performed in Denmark.’. No it isn’t. How about one where we don’t change the definition of autism for inclusion in the middle of the study?

    The multi million dollar study by the US government involves a situation wherein a full third of the data was ‘misplaced’ by government employees. Without this data, the relationship between vaccines and autism was linear and signficant; all we have left is finely massaged results. The first phases of this study have been aquired through freedom of information act requests and show precisely this. The author of the study went on to work at a vaccine manufacturer. Could you write a better script for a film about a conspiracy theory?

    Does it bother you, at all that the government happened to lose 1/3 of the data from a multi million dollar, several year study that exhonnerated preservatives? There was only a single copy of the data, and somehow, it got corrupted. Oops! If it was an honest mistake, then we must face the fact that people involved with the study were utterly incompetent.

    I’d bet you have backups of every test you give; but somehow, there were zero backups of the data in the Verasteen study. For the conspiracy theorist, I believe this is what might be termed a ‘target rich environment’.

    Anyways, I was supposed to be enjoying my weekend!

    Brian!

  • http://www.liquidzeoliteplus.com Mike

    grenouille, the Jessop case is not a scam, it’s a great example of our current system. The “pro gov” bloggers say it’s a scam, but they’re blissfully ignorant.

    I know Laurie. I’ve followed this case closely from the beginning. I attended parts of the court proceeding as well. The reason she’s not as vocal at this time as she was before she was dragged into court is that she’s suing 22 people involved with her arrest and incarceration in a civil suit. The reason why you can’t find any info on her court case is simple. A minor was involved and the case was sealed. The actual case # FWIW was DP015394-001. It was dismissed on October 4th. The legal reason cited was freedom of religion. Lauri’s Indian doctor friend Chief Cloudpiler offered the legal reasons why she had a right to practice her religion and allow her son Chad to practice his religious views. The scum bag judge Carolyn Kirkwood had no choice but to dismiss the case. This all went down in OC not SD. Her current lawyers have asked her to keep a low profile for now as she has a VERY strong case against all involved. Part of the windfall she received for her damages will be used to set-up the Chad Foundation in California which will give kids the right to choose for themselves if they want to use alt medicine. You will be hearing about this case in the future and all will come out in the wash, so no need to prove anything to anyone right now. Also, fwiw, laurie bought the 30 second sound bite from the radio station KPFK who covered her Sept 6, 2007 press conference live on the steps of the courthouse. (Why would a radio station cover a PC if there wasn’t a case?) That press conference is why Lauri was given a gag order during the trial. The trial has ended, and she can now come forward, but they’re in the process of suing these people and she’s going to respect her lawyers desire to have her keep a low profile and not make any statements at this time. I will be very happy to come back to this blog and say “TOLD YOU SO” within 6 months when the new trial starts to get national attention (unless they settle out of court) In that case, I’ll holler back at ya when the CHAD FOUNDATION in California starts to make national news. It will all come out in the wash, so I’m not worried and I have nothing to prove at this time on a blog forum.

    P.S. The neo-cons have been in power for the last 40 years, not the Slate. Excuse me for my poorly written sentence.

  • http://www.liquidzeoliteplus.com Mike

    Someone else who sees the New Republic as a neocon rag (btw, anyone who supports going to war to protect the interests of Israel when the USA’s national security is not being threatened is a neocon ie commie)

    Top neoconservative periodicals
    Commentary
    Describing itself as “America’s premier monthly journal of opinion,” Commentary magazine is widely regarded as the leading outlet for neoconservative writing. Founded in 1945, this American Jewish Committee publication steadily gained ideological influence under the editorships of Iriving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, two of neoconservatism’s founding fathers. Today, Commentary advocates passionate support for Israel, and regime change in at least half a dozen countries deemed hostile to US and Israeli security and interests.
    National Review
    Founded in 1955 by precocious conservative William F. Buckley, National Review promised to stand “athwart the path of history, yelling Stop!” AntiCommunist in stance, Catholic in judgment, Republican in preference, the magazine has weaned generations of conservative leaders. Its continued emphasis on traditional moral values and limited government put it outside the neoconservative camp, but in recent years, the magazine has increasingly adopted neocon attitudes.
    The Weekly Standard
    Weekly Standard editors comprise a “who’s who” of neoconservative figures. Currently led by William Kristol and Fred Barnes, the magazine has, since its founding in 1995, encouraged the cultivation of an American empire.
    The New Republic
    Like neoconservatism’s own founding, The New Republic’s roots tap into an unlikely intellectual resevoir. Begun as a progressive oriented journal in 1914, the magazine initially supported the Soviet Union and opposed the Vietnam war, but later supported President Reagan’s foreign policy and both Gulf Wars. Today, its advocacy of a muscular, pro-Israel, pro-interventionist US foreign policy -coupled with its embrace of Democratic centrist domestic policies -make it a leading neocon voice.
    The National Interest
    The National Interest claims “it’s where the great debates begin.” Founded in 1985 by Irving Kristol, the quarterly journal examines international relations from a broad perspective that embraces social issues, religion, and history. Though it does not always promote neocon causes, the journal’s editorial board is dominated by some of the movement’s most influential voices, including Midge Decter, Samuel P. Huntington, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Perle, and Daniel Pipes.
    The Public Interest
    When he founded the magazine in 1965, Irving Kristol defined the aim of The Public Interest: “to help all of us when we discuss issues of public policy, to know a little better what we are talking about – and preferably in time to make such knowledge effective.” The Public Interest focuses more on American domestic culture and politics rather than international affairs. As a result, its contributors reflect a wide diversity of ideological perspectives.

  • http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com Joseph

    Aren’t we still left with a situation wherein we have taken a series of products with a vareity of ingredients and effects, removed one of the ingredients, and made conclusions about the series of products as a whole? Maybe not. (?)

    Well, what I discussed is how to test the specific thimerosal hypothesis as stated by Blaxill in 2001. That has only to do with thimerosal in pediatric vaccines causing a real autism epidemic as recored by an accurate CDDS child count. That particular hypothesis failed its test.

    Of course, there are Johnny-come-lately hypotheses (crematoriums, Rhogam, etc.) which admittedly have not been tested in reality in the same manner because the goalpost-shifting is recent. I guess the question is, how much longer should the goalpost-shifting be taken seriously?

    An additional problem is that it’s pretty clear that thimerosal in pediatric vaccines would have to be an exceedingly marginal cause, regardless of whether you think there are other causes. This does not bode well for parents who wish to argue that children were made autistic by thimerosal at age 2 or so.

  • http://www.liquidzeoliteplus.com Mike

    My other post proving the Jessop case was not a hoax (I provided the case number, judge, lots of info I couldn’t know if it was a fraud) has been under review for 1 hr so I’m thinking it’s history. Let me recap. That case was dismissed Oct 4 in favor of the Jessops on the grounds of freedom of religion. She’s currently in the process of filing suit against 22 defendants who violated her civil rights and this will soon make national news. I know Laurie, she has no desire to prove her case on the Internet and every intention of passing Chads Law in California giving kids the right to choose their type of healthcare, alternative or toxic. Once her litigation gets public attention, you can tell everyone Mike on Autismvox.com told you first, lol.

  • http://storkdok-nos.blogspot.com/ Storkdok

    Brava! A wonderful post! Superbly written!

    Karen :0)

  • http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com Joseph

    The only thing that the rising numbers of DDS application proves is that there is a rising number of DDS applications.

    And I agree with that, but again, to test a hypothesis that states otherwise, you set that aside, and assume the hypothesis is true.

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

    @Brian,

    It does bother me that, when the subject is autism, there’s so much attention here (as in this thread) being devoted to the political position of Slate and to government conspiracies—–perseveration of a certain sort………and it seems hard to keep attention on what and who’s in front of us.

    As for what’s in front of me where I work in Jersey City—-it meant a lot when Obama came to my college campus, Saint Peter’s College, back in January.

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

    @Chuck,

    You wrote:

    You spend a great deal of space discussing a topic you do not really want to talk about anymore and offer little space to discuss topics you do want to discuss. Why pander to it?

    Indeed yes I do, and I thank you for the “good luck” wish regarding concerns about employment. Hopefully we can all work together at whatever levels we are at to move forward to create change—-a very general statement, but one that colors my various other efforts (and various other postings on education, funding, autism organizations, and so forth), and my scrambling.

  • http://mayfly mayfly

    Wow, quite a few themes. The intelligent design advocates have set back judeo-christian apologetics years. I say this as a person who has acquired a strong faith, that has made my life fuller, my marriage happier, and has helped greatly in my struggles to relate to other people. Most people of faith are not dependent on the world being only a few thousand years old. Right now light sources are being built to help us better understand how proteins work together in cells, i.e., howlife is built from its constituent parts. We are a ways from understanding these molecular machines. Once we gain that knowledge, it won’t hurt my faith at all. I’ve seen adulterous marriages happily reconciled, men familiar with the cells of San Quentin become upstanding members of the community. Alcoholics and and drug addicts gain sobriety. But what I found at first as the most unbelievable was the number of doctors, engineers, scientists in the congregation. Highly successful people who find time for God in their daily lives and share their faith.

    It is also a very diverse congregation in terms of race, ethnicity, and wealth. Most support Barack Obama which shows even God’s children can be wrong.

    I am disturbed by the absolute hatred that some have for anyone who has faith, leaving aside the attempts by some to introduce religion into the classroom.

    The rules about gaining acquiring monetary assistance for our children past a certain age are indeed strange. Everyone who has a child incapable of supporting itself needs to look into a special needs trust.

    One learns something new everyday. Today, I learned that supporters of Israel are commies. I suggest reading any of Robert Conquest’s books before making such an absurd stipulation. Neocons support Israel because they think it is in America’s best interest to do so. One can argue whether they are right or wrong, but to suggest they do it for other reasons suggests they are a fifth column and smacks of antisemitism.

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

    @mayfly,

    what a powerful response, thank you. not to go off-topic but there’s a lot of talk about faith and spirituality swirling around me at the moment (though I’m not a religious person)—-I do think that belief and something about, faith, perhaps are part of the emotions and feelings in these discussions.

    • http://fanmeetr.com/index.php?do=/yfjis5442ivh/blog/160that-magister-exclamation-cried-staggering/ Virgil Israelsen

      As they sow, so let them reap.

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