Re: [asa] Research Reaffirms: No Vaccine-Autism Link

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Tue Jan 08 2008 - 15:05:46 EST

On Jan 8, 2008 12:02 PM, Douglas Hayworth <> wrote:

> I think that all these issues have a couple things in common besides being
> anti-science. First, I think that in some ways, they are a form of a
> "elementary-science culture" -- a culture that expects there to be ready
> scientific explanations for everything. (Pre-science cultures don't expect
> there to be easy answers -- or any answers, for that matter). The problem is
> that most people cannot appreciate the fact that the real world is much more
> complex than our scientific methods to date have been able to discern. It's
> mentally and morally simpler to think that autism is caused by mercury than
> that it is a genetic condition with possibly any number of subtle
> contributing factors. (As an aside, one of Polkinghorne's arguments for
> critical realism is that there is no one scientific method that works for
> everything; historically, our methods have had to conform to the
> peculiarities of nature, not the other way around).

In addition to that there are a number of other factors:

1. A desire to "blame" someone or something. Sometimes you need to accept
that all you can do is love your child and appreciate the personality that
God has given them (even if society deems this as deficient).

2. Post hoc ergo prompter hoc. Autistic symptoms show up at the same time as
the first vaccination. We tend to infer causality when it doesn't exist.
The scientific method culls out false hypotheses. These are very hard to
drop so we see that AGW is not true every time there is a cold snap in one
location or where Fred Hoyle held on to the Steady State Theory to his

3. The power of anecdotal thinking. This is very powerful. I was invited to
a very illegal conference call for a nutritional supplement where mothers
made illegal medical claims in how the supplement in question "cured"
autism. This is something I highly resent where companies prey on the
hopelessness of the situation and set up pyramid marketing schemes often
involving evangelical Christians. The relationship between Christians often
get strained where a brother or sister in Christ becomes yet another client.

4. The placebo effect. This is related to 3 and why we need double blind
studies with a large enough sample. Many of the "studies" that prove these
bogus therapies violate either or both of the double blind and statistical
sample requirements.

> Second, I think these views exist because we are selfish (our concern for
> things goes only as far as our immediate circle of family and experience)
> and wealthy. As a culture, the evangelical community has too much time and
> money at its disposal. Instead of being concerned about the millions of
> unseen people who don't have enough food or clean water to live, we spend
> all of our anguish and resources addressing our less basic ailments. Not
> that cancers, chronic fatigue and other syndromes, genetic disorders, and
> the like are not important, but these seem disproportionately aggravating
> and devastating to our psyches in our culture than they are in the
> developing world. It's a matter of perspective. GW doesn't seem like a big
> deal to wealthy inland Americans because we feel like we'll be able to
> adjust somehow (we'll manage to obtain enough food, etc.); if we thought
> about the millions (billions) of people throughout the rest of the world
> whose subsistence way of life will be devastated by erratic weather and
> climate patterns, we might have a greater interest in trying to wrap our
> minds around the complex problem.
> Again, there's nothing wrong with concern for our loved ones, but
> when #1 and #2 occur together as they do in our culture, the combination has
> some negative results on our worldview.

One of the reasons why I have dissuaded my wife from being involved with
so-called autism support groups is quite frankly we can be a bunch of
whiners. The school system is not giving us our "rights" under IDEA and not
getting everything we want in our IEP. The Berthoud school system near us
got hit with a quarter of a million dollar law suit because they didn't live
up to their "reasonable accommodation" of educating an autistic student. The
lawsuit paid for a special school in the Boston area. Of course, what
happens then is all the rest of the special ed students in Berthoud suffer.

On a more positive note, our church has a ministry to parents of disabled
kids called Pit Stop. We can drop off both our son and his younger sister
(who is more of a handful than he is!) and allow us a respite from the
responsibilities. As you can imagine, dealing with disabled kids and the
dynamics with normal siblings can take a toll on a marriage and this is a
welcome break. Another thing that works well for my son is music. The high
point of Samuel's year is being in the "top row" with me in the Father's Day
choir (that and he annihilates me in Guitar Hero.) If you know of any
friends or family with autistic kids see if they are taking advantage of
this special way of reaching their kids.


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Received on Tue Jan 8 15:06:59 2008

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