‘Tis September and, it seems, the season for autism books: Started off the month with Dr. Paul Offit’s Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search for a Cure and now here comes Jenny McCarthy‘s autism book #2, Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds , and accompanying appearances on Oprah, video clips, and the like.
So there you have it. The Vaccine Doctor and the Autism Mom Heroine. In this script, Jenny and her following of David(a)s are poised, too-good non-toxicness products in their hands, to take on the evil Goliath of the Medical Establishment, Big Pharma, the dreaded CDC. I guess we should look out for flying stilettos (or maybe Crocs; warrior moms have to take their kids to the pool for sensory relief) while hearing refrains of “Just Say No to Jabs,” “Vaccines Can Take a Vacation,” and “For Shame, Bad Doctors!”. Moms in distress fighting to their last, giving it their all, to save their child: You need look no further than Bambi for this plot, and the doctors with their shots get equated with the guys with the munitions. (Get it, they shoot.)
It’s an emotional topic, this vaccine-autism business. But the problem is, developing vaccines and treatments, conducting studies to figure out what causes autism, whether thimerosal has anything to do with it (it doesn’t)—these are the stuff of scientific study, and emotions cloud things up. But how parents feel—about what “made” their child autistic, about who listens when they’re hurting—-plays at least some part in the choices parents make. So in responding to Dr. Rahul Parikh’s review of Autism’s False Prophets does journalist David Kirby appeal to emotions, entitling a post Dr. Rahul K. Parikh, I Am Becoming Embarrassed For You. Kev at Left Brain/Right Brain responds with David, I am not embarrassed but puzzled. Dr. Parikh responds by listing the rhetorical, but not science-based, tactics used by Kirby:
attacking the messenger, citing irrelevant science, moving the target, demanding that alternative views to theirs be squelched, or relying on slick slogans and celebrity endorsements
Thrust and parry.
Dr. Parikh notes that he has been smacked down by Kirby: Fighting words, via a metaphor from the wrestling ring, if there ever was one.
And now that we’re gonna have all these warrior mothers jumping into the fray, looks like this latest round of the vaccine-autism “war/controversy/not a controversy/debate/not a debate because they science says that vaccines don’t cause autism”—-looks like it could get at least a little ugly-toxic-heated.
Me, being the mother of an autistic son, and a mother who knows vaccine didn’t cause him to be autistic, I’ll be trying to side-step way through the midst of the fray, and see who floats, and whether or not there’ll be a surprise plot twist.