Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Politics

A canary in the coal mine? Or a bird pining for the fjords?

Why is it that so many bloggable items tend to pop up right before holidays? Whatever the reason, whether my perception that this is the case is accurate or simply the result of confirmation bias on my part, last Friday a little tidbit of popped up that seriously tempted me to blog about it. But I was good (mostly). I resisted, figuring that, first, readership plummets during holiday weekends anyway and, second, anything worth giving an Orac-style dissection to will still be worth giving an Orac-style dissection to three days later. If it isn’t, then it probably wasn’t worth the full Orac treatment in the first place. Besides, a highly amusing (and revealing) story popped up over the weekend when the autism quackfest known as Autism One once again expelled infidels. Even better, the two infidels expelled posted detailed accounts of their experiences, which meant that it took me very little time to cook up a bit of Insolence about it. It was, after all, a holiday weekend, and I was trying to write a grant.

But now the weekend’s over, and I had to come back and look at what I first saw on Friday and see if it’s worth analyzing. Fortunately (or, depending upon your point of view, unfortunately), it is. I’m referring, of course, to the announcement of the Canary Party, which has been touted by–who else?–Age of Autism and the aforementioned quackfest known as Autism One. Heck it’s even on Facebook. Let’s take a look, as this looks to be a new tact taken by opponents of science-based medicine in general and the anti-vaccine movement in general.

First, where did the term “the Canary Party” come from? As best I can tell, it derives from a post by everyone’s favorite therapist, Ginger Taylor, who three weeks ago, in the wake of Mary Holland and company’s attempt to convince that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had data demonstrating a lot of children with autism in its population of compensated children, labeled these 83 children 83 canaries in the vaccine/autism coal mine. Never mind that they had to intentionally conflate “autism-like” symptoms with autism itself and that they inadvertently demonstrated that the prevalence of autism among compensated children appears not to be outside the range one would expect in the general population, accounting for the enrichment for children with neurological injury. As a result, they succeeded in doing nothing of the sort while at the same time using some rather dubious research ethics to do it. It turns out, though, that under the selective pressures of the withering criticism that fell upon Holland et al’s misbegotten attempt at epidemiology co-opted in the service of a legal argument, coupled with an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up in the form of a recent study (more in a moment), the Canary Party appears to have–shall we say–evolved before it was ever officially born. Rather than hew strictly to vaccines, the Canary Party widens its focus to encompass what it apparently perceives as all manner of environmental, pharmaceutical, and public health depredations.

Using the rather trite and obvious metaphor of the canary in a coal mine, not to mention a background color on their website that reminds me far less of canary feathers and far more of piss, the Canary Party states:

Back then, miners whose lives depended on the absence of poisons paid close attention to the absence of the canary’s song. Today, as the rising power and spread of the medical industrial complex are taking an increasing toll on human health, we need to recognize the silenced canaries all around us.

What is this toll? Nothing less than a generation of sick, injured and dying children, children who are increasingly becoming young adults. American children are over vaccinated and over medicated, over fed, undernourished and have record levels of chronic illness and developmental delay.

And what does the Canary Party base its claim that this is the sickest generation of children in American history? In part, this claim appears to be based on study that was published in Academic Pediatrics by Bethell et al few weeks ago that I actually had meant to blog about, given that John Stone used it as a reason to write an open letter to NIH Director Francis Collins “demanding answers,” but that somehow managed to slip past me. The objectives of the study were “to evaluate national and state prevalence of health problems and special health care needs in US children; to estimate health care quality related to adequacy and consistency of insurance coverage, access to specialist, mental health and preventive medical and dental care, developmental screening, and whether children meet criteria for having a medical home, including care coordination and family centeredness; and to assess differences in health and health care quality for children by insurance type, special health care needs status, race/ethnicity, and/or state of residence.”

Sounds pretty benign, right? The results, however, were admittedly disturbing, although not for the reasons that the Canary Party is trying to sell to the alternative medicine and anti-vaccine set. Basically, the investigators derived national and state level estimates from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health (N = 91 642; children aged 0-17 years). In particular, they were trying to quantify variations between children with public versus private sector health insurance, special health care needs, specific conditions, race/ethnicity, and across states. Basically, what Bethell et al found was:

An estimated 43% of US children (32 million) currently have at least 1 of 20 chronic health conditions assessed, increasing to 54.1% when overweight, obesity, or being at risk for developmental delays are included; 19.2% (14.2 million) have conditions resulting in a special health care need, a 1.6 point increase since 2003. Compared with privately insured children, the prevalence, complexity, and severity of health problems were systematically greater for the 29.1% of all children who are publicly insured children after adjusting for variations in demographic and socioeconomic factors.

One thing that this study suggests is that obesity is indeed a major problem among our children, with a whopping 43% of children whose health insurance is publicly funded being reported as obese. It also suggests that the prevalence of chronic health problems tends to be significantly higher among children who do not have private health insurance. Interestingly, when it comes to developmental delays, more parents whose children had publicly funded insurance reported screening for development, social or behavioral delays using standardized parent-completed tools than parents with private insurance, which might account for the higher prevalence of developmental delays observed among publicly insured children. Also reported were rather wide variations in prevalence of various conditions by state and that 5.7 million (23.5%) “had parents who reported their [health insurance] coverage was never or only sometimes adequate in terms of coverage, access to, and costs of needed health care for their child,” with reports of insurance inadequacy ranging from 16.2% in Hawaii to 31.3% in Minnesota.

Obviously, this study has a number of limitations, the most important of which being that all the results are self-reported and that there was no verification by medical records. To put it into context, here is one of the graphs from the paper; this one shows the prevalence of health conditions reported broken out to compare children with private health insurance and children with publicly funded health insurance:


Taking the results at face value, what I see is a nation of sedentary, obese children and that obesity risks future health problems associated with obesity. I also see huge disparities in childhood health care that depend on which state that child lives in, what kind of insurance that child has, and that only around 50% of children in the U.S. receive, as the authors put it, “health care that meets a basic level of quality of care.” Given that, I see a lot of room for improvement, including improving childhood access to care, finding ways to get kids to exercise more and eat healthier diets, and more services for children at risk for developmental delay. What, do you think, does the Canary Party see? Guess?

Yep, it’s the vaccines and those evil pharmaceutical companies:

In simplest terms, the medical industrial complex has launched a massive and uncontrolled experiment on a generation of Americans. In an unprecedented intervention in human immune development, this complex has succeeded in promoting an explosion in medical industry revenues and profits; this explosion has been accompanied, however, by an epidemic of death, disability and chronic disease, much of which can be traced directly to these medical and chemical exposures.

Oh, no! It’s the toxins! Actually, it’s the vaccines and the pharmaceuticals, which to these loons are more or less exactly the same thing. Or it’s the pollutants! Or it’s all of them. They just can’t seem to make up their mind which. I will give them credit for aping Dwight Eisenhower. Well, no I won’t. They clearly think it’s clever, but it’s about as obvious as the canary metaphor, although I will admit that at least using Eisenhower doesn’t require that piss-yellow background. Now there’s a visual pollutant that will make anyone sick!

In reality, though, pollutants aren’t what the Canary Party is about. True, they do mention pollution, but in actuality, as I’ve pointed out before, in the U.S. and developed countries at least, we live in a far less polluted environment than even 50 years ago. Indeed, it was only in 1948 that a killer smog killed 20 residents of Donora, a town with a population of 14,000 about 20 miles from Pittsburgh, and sickened half the population. In 1952, there was what Londoners called “the great smog of ’52” or the “big smoke,” which was estimated to have resulted in 4,000 premature deaths and the sickening of 100,000 people. No, I’m not saying that there is not a problem with pollution and that we’ve succeeded in cleaning up chemical pollutants to the point where we don’t need to worry about them, but stronger environmental laws have definitely led to a decrease in pollution, and this does not go along with an “epidemic” of environmentally-caused health problems. Correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but in this case there isn’t even really a correlation, is there? In reality, when you come right down to it, it’s all about the vaccines. It’s always been all about the vaccines. It always will be all about the vaccines, possibly with some rhetoric about pharmaceuticals and environmental pollutants thrown on top to disguise the true nature of the party as much as possible. Meanwhile, they call upon a mish-mash of the progressive movement, the conservative movement, the Green Party, and the Tea Party all to come together on this one issue

Of course, our friendly neighborhood anti-vaccine zealots at Age of Autism have never let me down before in making it clear it’s all about the vaccines, and they don’t let me down now. Enter John Stone:

It comes as the pharmaceutical industry and its scientists plot to further exploit vaccination mandates and their newly established prosecution immunity ever more widely (HERE ), with US children already expected to receive over one hundred vaccines in combination by the time they become adult (HERE ) – and without any studies which investigate their cumulative impact on a child’s immune system (HERE ), even if they were individually adequately tested (which they are not HERE ). I do not know when it was scientifically established that it was safe to modify a child’s immune system in this way, even before we consider all the adjuvants and excipients that are a concomitant exposure of the programme: substances which enter a child’s body through their muscles and blood stream, and not through their digestive tract.

Now, enter An American Teacher & Parent guest blogging on AoA in a post entitled Why Do We Need The Canary Party for our Health? Portrait of an American Classroom & Family:

In our family, it’s been really obvious. My least vaccinated child is by far my healthiest…rarely sick, strong, healthy, coordinated, friendly, loving, and extremely intelligent. This child has no skin issues, no gastrointestinal distress, and no allergies of any kind. My nieces, nephews and cousins who are selectively or unvaccinated are the same.

The fact of the matter is, if you lined up those children in my family of the same generation who were born and vaccinated per the CDC schedule before our child’s Autism diagnosis in 2004 and compared them to those who were born and selectively or not vaccinated after (as a result of watching the demise of our child and wanting to avoid it at all costs), the differences in their health conditions are stark, startling, and undeniable.

This teacher then lists the 17 children in his or her family and does a completely useless exercise in trying to correlate vaccination status with chronic health problems in an utterly uninformative exercise that this teacher apparently finds quite convincing.

I despair for our youth, if they’re being taught by someone with so little in the way of scientific knowledge and critical thinking skills.

Of course, given that the anti-vaccine movement has decided to name its latest political project after a bird, it’s hard not to come back to one of my favorite schticks, which, given that I’ve long been a Monty Python fan, is obvious. Yes, I’ve done it before, but I think it bears repeating that what the Canary Party is doing is the equivalent to claiming that its link between vaccines and so many chronic health problems is pining for the fjords. In actuality, the science has been done over and over and over again. The link between vaccines and autism does not exist. It is a dead link. Or, as John Cleese would put it, it’s not pinin’! ‘It’s passed on! This link is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed this canary to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-LINK!!

Not that any of this will stop the Canary Party from nailing the poor bird to its perch to convince its followers that the link really is pining for the fjords.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

108 replies on “A canary in the coal mine? Or a bird pining for the fjords?”

How do they disentangle relative wealth/poverty from their data? Isn’t it likely that the “publicly-insured” group automatically contains all the poorer people (i.e. those who can’t afford private insurance)? And we already know that (relative) poverty is a good predictor of things like obesity.

Who We Are
You have probably never heard of any of us.
We are a group of citizens who are disturbed by the increasingly failing health of those in our society. Among us are those who have been injured by the medical industry, those who have children or loved ones who have been harmed and killed by the medical industry, medical professionals upset with what is happening in their chosen fields and those who endeavor to preserve human health in spite of increasingly corrupt and failing medical establishment.

This is a section from the Canary Party website. Made me laugh, it did. This “movement” is being driven by the antivaccine-autism movement, and of course we all have heard of them. It’s most likely Ginger Taylor, Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted. But this faux-modesty and pretense of just being a part of something huge, is comical. A waste of time, all of this.

If the study is evidence that the “medical industrial complex” is responsible for the prevalence of risk of developmental delay, wouldn’t it also be evidence that it’s responsible for the prevalence of obesity? If wonder how vaccines lead to children eating too much and not exercising enough…

The popularity of the Dead Parrot skit is no excuse for ignoring the rest of the Monty Python oeuvre:

Mrs. Premise: Ohh…How do they put budgies down?

Mrs. Conclusion: It’s funny you should ask that. I’ve been
reading a great big book on how to put your budgie down, and evidently, you can either hit them with the book or you can shoot them there, just above the beak.

Or of course, this:

Tourist: Good afternoon.
Shepherd: Ar’noon
Tourist: Ah, lovely day isn’t it?
Shepherd: Ar, ’tis that.
Tourist: You here on holiday?
Shepherd: Nope, I live ‘ere.
Tourist: Oh, good for you. Uh…those ARE sheep aren’t they?
Shepherd: Aye.
Tourist: Hmm, thought they were. Only, what are they doing up in the trees?
Shepherd: A fair question and one that in recent weeks ‘as been much on my mind. It’s my considered opinion that they’re nestin’.
Tourist: Nesting?
Shepherd: Aye.
Tourist: Like birds?
Shepherd: Exactly. It’s my belief that these sheep are laborin’ under the misapprehension that they’re birds. Observe their be’avior. Take for a start the sheeps’ tendency to ‘op about the field on their ‘ind legs. Now witness their attmpts to fly from tree to tree. Notice that they do not so much fly, as plummet.

Here’s what I don’t understand: why were the 83 the canaries and not the 2500 who had been paid out? Why would the smaller number have more resonance for them? I know, they’re not acting out of logic and reason, but still.

Also, I found this completely fascinating: “8. Compassion
Aid, assistance & resources to provide an acceptable quality of life standard for those injured. Concern for the global promotion of human health through ethical models of medical practice. Compassionate support of disabled. Benevolent collective consciousness.”

Really? From the AoAers?

Benevolent collective consciousness

What? As in “resistance is futile”?

One thing I will never understand as an epidemiologist… How the hell am I supposed to investigate cases that are “unreported, uninvestigated and suppressed”. If these folks know about something, they should bring it to our (Public Health) attention, then watch us like a hawk while we investigate. I have no problem getting my bag together and driving out to interview a suspect case. Case-control studies are not something foreign to me.

Ah, but if we (Public Health) would do that, we would be taking away the one weapon the anti-vaxers have, wouldn’t we. I mean, they can’t complain about “reported, well-investigated, publicized” cases, could they? No wonder they hide these so-called cases from us.

Sticking with the mercury theme, I will now rename this “party” as the “Cannery Party”. See what I did there?

Important correction: the stats are for both overweight and obesity, not obesity only. And the BMI for kids is scaled to what kids weighed back in the 1960s, set so that anything over the 85th percentile (for age and gender) counts as overweight and anything 95th and over counts as obese. Again, that’s what the 85th percentile was back in the 1960s, not today. Another important fact for perspective is that child weight gains plateaued back around 2000 for all but one subgroup (the very largest boys). Daniel Engber at Slate has a good series of articles on this with links:

My point is that we should not join in on overstating things here without understanding what the measurements actually measure, where they come from, and what their course over recent time looks like. We should treat BMI like infant mortality and other ways of capturing and representing the world. I’m all for kids getting better food and more moving around, but to avoid doing more harm than good on this we need to be really careful.

I wonder how much the increase in chronic health conditions is due to people surviving acute episodes. Are there more kids with asthma and diabetes alive today because of better management of the conditions, allowing more of them to survive to be counted? Of course, it cannot be ignored that obesity and inactivity correlate very strongly to many chronic conditions (including, of course, asthma and diabetes), which is probably the main factor.

And lord only knows how these people tie obesity and inactivity (which are synergistic conditions — a downward health spiral) to vaccines. Vaccines don’t make people fat and out of shape.

From my perspective, I see another phenomenon- what I call “spread” in several directions:

1. The Canaries ( like Stone and Imus previously) are calling attention to illnesses other than autism ( see the Canary site’s moving script: “ALS, Alzheimers, ADD, Anaphalaxis, Arthritis, Asthma, Allergies- to everything- cancer,’Chrones'”(sic), et al), in people of all ages, and by causes including ( but not limited to) vaccines. They’re escaping the narrow confines of vax-autism to a wider outlook. Wonder why?

2. Their platform includes a call to political action as well as legal action and “restitution” ( like LKH & CO., Krakow). There is mention of “scientific integrity” ( pardon me, I’m sorry but I’m laughing uproariously and need to collect myself… OK, better now)
The rallying cry shall be “Give me health freedom or give me…”( well, they can’t use that one because they *already* say that the lack of health freedom *is* causing their death).

Since 2008-9, the woo-meisters I follow have become increasing focused on politics and the economy: they want to catch the wave of anger and fear sweeping across all levels of society in the wake of the economic tsunami of Fall 2008- Spring 2009. These fellows masterfully invoke fear of cancer, CV, and other health woes which stalk the junk food consumer on a daily basis so why not apply their skills to diverse realms of fear? If you scan NaturalNews or the ProgressiveRadioNetwork ( prn: the Null Channel) you’ll see what I mean): less about health more about the economy and politics. There is talk of a new political party: Health Freedom or Progressive Libertarian, respectively. They plan to implement their ideas into school systems. And colleges and med schools. Let’s sue the FDA, AMA, CDC; let’s change the law! Null is creating a think tank ( sorry, I need to contain my laughter..)Right.

3. I often describe woo as an unseemly oily substance( it’s so hard to clean off of your hands): it’s only natural that small puddles of pseudo-scientific nonsense should eventually spread : indeed, anti-vax has been taking cue cards from woo-meisters forever, so why not just merge? They trade the same ideas incestuously, they share “data” and “studies”, why not just tie the knot? They’re all charlatans anyway.

Eventually it will become difficult to tell who is who without a score card. Without science as a framework and system of definitions and methodologies what we have is akin to James’ “buzzing, blooming chaos” fortunately human beings have selective attention in order to deal with it, woo doesn’t.

Do I understand correctly that the study speaks primarily of present incidence rather than change over time, and as such is of limited relevance to the question if the present generation of American kids are sicker or healthier than previous ones?

From the Age of Autism website: “Join the Canary Party – your political affiliation, Republican, Democrat, Consersative, Progressive, Libertarian does not matter – it’s a big, big, well – nest”.

To that they should add… logical thinking, rational thinking, and a need for evidence based medicine does not matter, just close your eyes and believe what you hear.

Dr Sam Girgis

It’s funny that they should use an antique reference like the canary in the coal mine: many who advocate for anti-vax and natural health often
cherish the romantic notion that our near ancestors lived lives of robust health, longevity, and pristine purity sans vaccines and pharma because of their nature-based diets and exposure to clean air and water…in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

They fail to mention that this Edenic Victorian era was rife with pollution and diseases like TB. People, including children, worked in factories. Sherlock Holmes wasn’t walking around a “foggy” city; the many heroines of novels didn’t die of leukaemia; patent medicines included natural substances that would be banned today. Ever read de Quincey or O’Neill’s “The Long Day’s Journey into Night”? Paradise.

Back then, miners whose lives depended on the absence of poisons paid close attention to the absence of the canary’s song.

Because the canaries died!

They are comparing their children to dead canaries, which personally I find abhorrent. The children may have developmental issues that cover a wide range, but they are not dead.

Plus, if the children are figuratively dead to these parents because of vaccines: How would those same sensitive children have survived the actual diseases?

Are they seriously trying to equate the 83 children that received compensation from the vaccine injury compensation program over the past several years to the hundreds who literally died annually from measles(468), diphtheria(410), polio(1,904), pertussis (1,118), etc in 1950?

1. The Canaries ( like Stone and Imus previously) are calling attention to illnesses other than autism ( see the Canary site’s moving script: “ALS, Alzheimers, ADD, Anaphalaxis, Arthritis, Asthma, Allergies- to everything- cancer,’Chrones'”(sic), et al), in people of all ages, and by causes including ( but not limited to) vaccines. They’re escaping the narrow confines of vax-autism to a wider outlook. Wonder why?

I don’t wonder why. The bottom line is that all of these disorders that are mentioned have a major immunological component and potentially important developmental components. The fact that vaccines affect the immune system and are administered during the neonatal and infant timeframes means that they fit the bill for both of these. It doesn’t mean that they are responsible for all of these or any of these disorders, just that scientific enquiry is justified. The problem is that this discussion is dominated by diametrically opposed viewpoints. One camp believes that vaccines are primarily responsible for the rise in chronic disorders/diseases, etc. The other camp believes that vaccines are responsible for adverse events, but only those that are listed on the label. It seems both may be resting on a foundation of ignorance (the latter, maybe not).

From an SBM pov we should be a bit more inquisitive into the immunological mechanisms of vaccines and adjuvants from a developmental perspective. Rigorous study and understanding of these mechanisms should be the prerequisite for designing epidemiological studies that could inform us to the potential harm or benefit (beyond protective immunity) of the current vaccine program. One thing is for sure (IMHO), the current SBM approach to the anti-vaccine movement is not working.

Actually it comes from the Canarii, A tribe of fierce cannibals who used large dogs to hunt human prey when it strayed upon the island.

The are the Cannibal Party. Not some yellow bird!

Whatever is the truth, cannabis is the remedy.

Denice — and let’s not forget “The Velveteen Rabbit”, a major childhood tear-jerker in which, though the boy does not perish due to scarlet fever, the rabbit does — dread of the disease is so severe, that all of the bedding, clothing, and toys that he used while ill are burned. (This, of course, does nothing to protect anyone else from scarlet fever, but they didn’t know that then. They just did what they could against a peril they didn’t yet understand.)

You make a very good point about the canary. Do they forget *why* canaries were used? They perish very quickly in the presence of toxic gasses. Occupational exposure to such gasses was extreme by modern standards; they just hoped to avoid *lethal* concentrations, since avoiding toxic concentrations would require quitting the job and dying of starvation instead. And children were often working in these conditions.

My great-grandmother puzzled at how people doted on children. They’re just children, after all. She was the seventh child out of eight, most of whom did not reach adulthood.

But…but…It’s teh GMOz!!1!1

“foods made from genetically modified organisms”

Is this the Dr. Oz party too?

It was distinctly disturbing, as a child, reading “The Velveteen Rabbit” (a major tear-jerker) and then finding out from my mother that I had had scarlet fever myself. Of course, by the time I had it, we had antibiotics.
My mother-in-law had a brother or cousin – I think it was a brother – who died due to having a “weak heart” after rheumatic fever. He died while she was watching him; if I remember correctly, she said that a truck backed up onto the sidewalk where he was. He wasn’t injured, just horribly frightened, but that was enough.
Back when, people didn’t count on their children surviving. Go to any older graveyard and see all the stones for children who died in their first year, sometimes with the same name over and over. It kind of disabuses you of the notion that we were all hale and robust before the 20th century.

It seems like one of our posters is “all over the lot” in theories about autism causes (nutrition?), treatments (ABA) and ethics (the ethic’s of ABA?). Now the poster feels free to express his theory about the usefulness of cannabis for treatment. IMO this theory would not hold up to critical review and ethicists would deem the use of cannabis as a chemical restraint visited on these disabled children. Doctors have had their medical licenses suspended for chemical restraint (Mark Geier), others who are pretend doctors and who have diagnosed and provided treatment for precocious puberty have been charged with practicing medicine without a license (Junior Geier).

I’m just waiting for the poster to give his “expert” opinion about cannabis use in lieu of/or as adjuvants with anti-convulsant medications.

@ Ledasmom:
“It kind of disabuses you of the notion that we were all hale and robust before the 20th century.”

Oh, but the ones who *survived* were all hale and robust. The “natural” diseases helped weed out the weaklings. Nowadays, we’re not weeding them out and they have all kinds of health issues, see? I think some of the anti-vaxers believe this and somehow imagine that they and their children would not, of course, have been among the weaklings.

As a mother of two with congenital heart defects (easily fixable thanks to modern science), I’ll take modern medicine, including vaccines, and thankfully keep my children here with me instead of weeding them out.

@ Herr Doktor Bimler & Scottynuke,
It’s always puzzled me that no-one has done an anti-vaxx smackdown based on the black knight sketch from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. To me, that would be the most appropriate.

I had thought of this too. Probably a year ago I linked to the video in the comments but I don’t remember the conversation and am too lazy to look it up.

Orac also has made reference to the Black Knight in recent months IIRC. It’s my favorite, I think it describes the anti-vax position quite well.


The fact that vaccines affect the immune system and are administered during the neonatal and infant timeframes means that they fit the bill for both of these. It doesn’t mean that they are responsible for all of these or any of these disorders, just that scientific enquiry is justified.

It’s been done. Repeatedly. There is no link. There’s a list of 58 of the disconfirmatory studies I keep on my desktop, copied from a comment Chris made here on January 27, 2010. Feel free to click “archives” and search for Jan 27, 2010 so I don’t clog the comments with the whole list again. Also feel free to search PubMed for stidies on vaccines and autism. Last year I made a list of 212 citations for negative results before getting bored. I’m still a little unclear based on conflicting past diagnoses whether I have Asperger’s syndrome and some diagnosis denial, or not, with some genuine coincidences.

From an SBM pov we should be a bit more inquisitive into the immunological mechanisms of vaccines and adjuvants from a developmental perspective… One thing is for sure (IMHO), the current SBM approach to the anti-vaccine movement is not working.

Studies are out there. Studies of real vaccine safety concerns are routine and ongoing. Trouble is, the anti-vax movement cherry-picks the evidence they admit into their heads. We’re in good company. Astronomers still haven’t convinced the dedicated hold-outs of the Geocentric model, either. Frankly, it’s not entirely the astronomers’ faults.

Lilady, if you think that cannabis is a ‘chemical restraint’, then you need to remember that it is all about dose, and composition of cannabinoids in the specific strain or strains you are using, and careful titration in the first instance to reduce risk of idiosyncratic or dangerous reactions.

Just because I don’t legally have any access to the equipment to titrate an intravenous dose, doesn’t mean that smoking is not auto-titration 😉

How many autistic adults would you have to spend your days with, on and off cannabis, in order to be able to answer the question for yourself?

This is something that has to be tested in vivo in an outpatient setting.
I invite you to have me and my organisation hook you up with an autistic medical cannabis user in a town or city where you live (if it is legal to do so), and you can see for yourself.

The bottom line is, it is so unbelievably obvious that it works, if you don’t know this already, you haven’t looked.

What we really want to know is:

Since you, me, big farmer, world + dog have all known about ‘Cannabis for Autism’ at least as far back as 2002, more likely 1994…

Why so slow? GW Pharma started on Sativex for MS 13 years ago. Why have they got nothing in their public product pipeline for autism?

WE suspect that big farmer would like to test it’s new drugs on our autistic children. You know that cannabis works, but it doesn’t fit in with big pharmas agenda.

Just a question?

As for using it in lieu of, or as adjuvants with, anti-convulsive medications.

I’d suggest you reduce one slowly and replace it with the other. Pay attention. Stop if it gets worse, carry on until it’s better.

You’ll probably need to look at manipulating the levels of D9-THCA, CBD, D9-THCV and CBC as well as the THC for the autism, if indeed you are talking about convulsions in autistic populations?

For non-autistic people I suspect you won’t need the THC to treat this. I’m not an expert, well spotted!

I think Joey was on 11 medications, now is down to 2 daily and 1 as and when needed, and he has a cannabis cookie every 2-3 days now.

That is why knight is spelt with a K, to distinguish them from nits.

Medieval information technology solutions were no less of a hack than they are nowadays.

Monty Python also picked up on the inability of ancient people to actually pronounce words like high, nigh, and knight.

Most had to make do with ‘he’ or ‘hih’, nih, and ‘nit’!


The bottom line is, it is so unbelievably obvious that it works, if you don’t know this already, you haven’t looked.

Translation: I think it works, but haven’t gone to the trouble of demonstrating it. Of course, Jacob, if you HAVE in fact done so, just show the evidence (i.e. PMIDs). That’ll get you a lot further than “it’s obvious.”

Anna: Another factor is that with the redefinition of childhood overweight/obesity as a chronic illness, a kid who’s ever had a BMI reading in that range is considered chronically ill, even if a subsequent growth spurt results in a lower reading.

Have you seen this?

I’d say that’s good. We are still waiting for the UCI study with 11 families (number of children unknown).

We know that a Canadian company did a blind trial of THC in Montana over 19 months. Which company? Can anyone here shed some light on it please?

Shall I bother taking you through my 12 month amateur attempt to find out whether or not ‘my medicine’ is also ‘other autistic peoples medicine’.

I found plenty of them. You can too if you look for them.

How do I know my medicine is my medicine and not my drug of abuse? Please? Credit me with the ability to know whether or not my disability is clinically significant. Credit me with the ability to notice that the autism is missing when the cannabis is present. Credit my friends and family and my psychiatrist with the ability to notice the same.

When there is an embargo on research, anecdote is all you have. When all your patients are autistic, anecdotes are rare as hens teeth.

Still we find over 9000 of them?

Jacob, since nothing you’ve said makes any sense whatsoever (your attempts at etymology are downright insane), maybe you need to tell us which is talking, your disability or your medicine? Because if it’s the latter, I think we have a classic case here of the cure being worse than the disease.

“a generation of sick, injured and dying children, children who are increasingly becoming young adults” – Funny, that, how children will become young adults. But, hold on, now!!! How is it that these children are becoming young adults…if…they’re…dying? Color me confuzzled.

Serious question: how do you do a blinded trial on the mental effects of cannabis? That is, how do you effectively blind the patients to whether they are getting the drug or a placebo?


Use an extract-containing pill, rather than delivery via inhalation, perhaps. IIRC, there is medical research looking into one specific compound in cannabis, which does not possess the high-giving quality of “natural” cannabis.

If you’re looking at the smoked version, though, blinding would be quite hard. Need to have both taste and smell in the placebo. Then there’s the whole pupil dilation thing to account for, as well.

Vicki, psychoactives are difficult ideally, triple intent double blind:

10 Groups, 9 receive a pill in the post:


And told it is:


3×3 = 9 plus the 1 group that receives nothing as a control group.

Enjoy the data!

Advocates who who have been able to compare THC pill, Eating cannabis, and smoking cannabis, usually say they can get a better outcome with smoked cannabis.

Different pharmacology when smoked, and also much finer dose control.

I’m insulted, Beaumap, that you dismiss the Kurz study as my guess. What do you make of the Kurz study?

Here it is copy and pasted if you don’t trust my link:

Cannabinoids 2010;5(4):4-6
4 © International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines
Case report
Use of dronabinol (delta-9-THC) in autism: A
prospective single-case-study with an early
infantile autistic child
René Kurz, Kurt Blaas
Lindengasse 27/10, 1070 Wien, Vienna/Austria
Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of dronabinol (delta-9-THC) as supplementary therapy in
a child with autistic disorder.
Methods: A child who met the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
criteria for a diagnosis of autistic disorder and who took no other medication during the observation time was included in an open and uncontrolled study. Symptom assessment was performed
using the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) before and after six months of medical treatment.
Result: Compared to baseline, significant improvements were observed for hyperactivity, lethargy, irritability, stereotypy and inappropriate speech at follow-up (p=0.043).
Conclusion: This study showed that the use of dronabinol may be able to reduce the symptoms of
Keywords: early infantile autism, autistic disorder, dronabinol, cannabinoid
This article can be downloaded, printed and distributed freely for any non-commercial purposes, provided the original work is properly cited (see copyright info below). Available online at
Author’s address: René Kurz, [email protected]
Autistic Disorder (also referred to as early infantile
autism, childhood autism, Kanner-Syndrome) is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by marked
impairment in social interaction, delayed language, and
restricted repertoire of activity and interests (DSM-IV
criteria for diagnosis of autistic disorder, 2007) [8][14].
Beside these core symptoms autistic children often
show aggression against others and self-injurious behaviour, also have sleep problems and eating disorders.
Early infant autism affects 1 of 2000 children, with
boys affected three times more often than girls. Autism
does not equate with mental retardation, but intelligence is frequently limited (intelligence quotient (IQ)
below 70). One quarter of autistic children achieve
good results on IQ tests, termed ‘high functional autism’. The cause of autism is still not fully explored,
but seems to be multifactorial (including genetic, environmental and neurobiochemical disorders) [19]. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the gold standard in
treating children with early infant autism and is supported by occupational therapy, physical therapy and
pharmacological intervention (e.g. antipsychotic drugs)
Dronabinol, or tetrahydrocannabinol / ∆-9-THC, is a
purified cannabinoid. The main accepted field of use is
in oncology to reduce nausea and in AIDS to increase
appetite, but has also been used in chronic pain patients, inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn´s disease,
ulcerative colitis) and multiple sclerosis for muscle
relaxation and neuropathic pain [9]. It may also be used
for major depression and Tourette’s syndrome
To date there have been no reports of the use of cannabinoids in autism. However, in internet blogs and
discussion forums there are many reports of parents
who have tried THC for their autistic children, but
without medical monitoring and inappropriate administration. Kurz & Blaas
Cannabinoids ΠVol 5, No 4 ΠNovember 21, 2010 5
Table 1. Wilcoxon Rank Sum Test for samples / pre- &
Subscales Before
(May 2009)
Irritability 38 13
Lethargy 23 11
Stereotype 16 9
Hyperactivity 47 20
Inappropriate speech 6 0
P-value for Wilcoxon
rank sum test
There are well known alterations of neurotransmitters
in autistic people especially in the cerebral cannabinoid
receptor system [5]. We therefore asked whether dronabinol could safely be used in autism and what outcomes can be achieved within an observation period of
six months.
This study involved a six year old boy with early infant
autism (F84.0), who was diagnosed in the Pediatric
Clinic Graz at the age of three. The diagnosis had been
made using DSM-IV criteria (American Psychiatric
Association, Diagnostic Manuel of Mental Disorders,
4th Edition) and confirmed by ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and ADI (Autism Diagnostic Interview) [2][3]. During the six months of follow-up the child did not start any new therapies or
change existing assistance measures.
At beginning and end of this study symptom severity
was determined by using the ABC (Aberrant Behavior
Checklist) [7]. This is a questionnaire consisting of 52
questions with a rating scale from zero to three (0 … no
problem, 3 … severe problem) filled out by an examiner together with the parents. Results are stratified in
five subscales “hyperactivity” (min.0/max.48), “lethargy”(min.0/max.48), “stereotype”(min.0/max.21),
“irritability”(min.0/max.45) and “inappropriate
speech”(min.0/max.12). Analysis was done with SPSS
(SPSS 2002-10) by using the Wilcoxon Rank Sum
Test. Statistical significance was set with p≤ 0.05.
The therapy used was dronabinol drops (dronabinol
solved in sesame oil). Initial dosage was one drop
(0.62mg) in the morning which was gradually increased from day to day.
During the six months follow-up the subject received
only dronabinol therapy. The maximum tolerated dose
effect was reached at 2-1-3 (two drops in the morning,
Figure 1. Change of ABC subscales within six months.
one drop midday, three drops in the evening), total
daily dose of 3,62 mg dronabinol. No adverse effects
were reported during treatment.
The ABC subscales significantly changed over six
month (p= 0.04) (see Table 1). Hyperactivity decreased
by 27 points, lethargy was reduced by 25 points and
irritability by 12 points. Stereotypic behaviour decreased by 7 points and inappropriate speech improved
by 6 points (see Figure 1).
This uncontrolled single case study suggests that dronabinol may reduce symptoms in early infant autism. Case report
6 Cannabinoids ΠVol 5, No 4 ΠNovember 21, 2010
This may have been achieved by modifying cannabinoid levels in the central nervous system. Larger controlled studies are needed to explore this effect. Dronabinol will likely not replace cognitive behavioural
therapy with early intervention, but we believe that as
an additional support it may be effective and better
tolerated than many existing antipsychotic drugs.
1. Bisogno T, Di Marzo V. Cannabinoid Receptors
and Endocannabinoids: Role in Neuroinflammatory and Neurodegenerative Disorders. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2010 [in press]
2. Bölte S, Poustka F. Diagnostic Observation Scale
for Autistic Disorders: initial results of reliability
and validity. Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother 2004;32(1):45-50.
3. Bölte S, Poustka F. Psychodiagnostic instruments
for the assessment of autism spectrum disorders.
Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother 2005;
4. Campbell JM. Efficacy of behavioral interventions for reducing problem behavior in persons
with autism: a quantitative synthesis of singlesubject research. Res Dev Disabil 2003;24(2):
5. Chakrabarti B, Kent L, Suckling J, Bullmore E,
Baron-Cohen S. Variations in the human cannabinoid receptor (CNR1) gene modulate striatal
responses to happy faces. Eur J Neurosci 2006;
6. Crippa JA, Zuardi AW, Hallak JE. Therapeutical
use of the cannabinoids in psychiatry. Rev Bras
Psiquiatr 2010;32 Suppl 1:S56-66.
7. Demb HB, Brier N, Huron R, Tomor E. The
Adolescent Behavior Checklist: normative data
and sensitivity and specificity of a screening tool
for diagnosable psychiatric disorders in adolescents with mental retardation and other development disabilities. Res Dev Disabil 1994;15(2):
8. Dover CJ, Le Couteur A. How to diagnose autism. Arch Dis Child 2007;92(6):540-5.
9. Eikeseth S, Smith T, Jahr E, Eldevik S. Outcome
for children with autism who began intensive behavioral treatment between ages 4 and 7: a comparison controlled study. Behav Modif 2007;
10. Grotenhermen F. Cannabinoids in cancer pain.
Cannabinoids 2010;5(1):1-3
11. Hasan A, Rothenberger A, Münchau A, Wobrock
T, Falkai P, Roessner V. Oral Delta 9-
tetrahydrocannabinol improved refractory Gilles
de la Tourette syndrome in an adolescent by increasing intracortical inhibition: a case report. J
Clin Psychopharmacol 2010;30(2):190-2.
12. Kurz R, Muchitsch E, Feucht M. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Children with Autistic Disorder A Prospective Long-time Observational
Study. 2010, [in press]
13. Myers SM, Johnson CP; American Academy of
Pediatrics Council on Children With Disabilities.
Management of children with autism spectrum
disorders. Pediatrics 2008;121(4):828-30.
14. Pardo CA, Eberhart CG. The neurobiology of
autism. Brain Pathol 2007;17(4):434-47.
15. Patterson SY, Smith V, Jelen M. Behavioural
intervention practices for stereotypic and repetitive behaviour in individuals with autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review. Dev Med
Child Neurol 2010;52(4):318-27.
16. Posey DJ, McDougle CJ. Pharmacotherapeutic
management of autism. Expert Opin Pharmacother 2001;2(4):587-600.
17. Remington B, Hastings RP, Kovshoff H, degli
Espinosa F, Jahr E, Brown T, Alsford P, Lemaic
M, Ward N. Early intensive behavioral intervention: outcomes for children with autism and their
parents after two years. Am J Ment Retard
18. Sallows GO, Graupner TD. Intensive behavioral
treatment for children with autism: four-year outcome and predictors. Am J Ment Retard 2005;
19. Trottier G, Srivastava L, Walker CD. Etiology of
infantile autism: a review of recent advances in
genetic and neurobiological research. J Psychiatry
Neurosci 1999;24(2):103-15.Di Marzo V, De Petrocellis L. Plant, synthetic, and endogenous cannabinoids in medicine. Annu Rev Med 2006;

Advocates who who have been able to compare THC pill, Eating cannabis, and smoking cannabis, usually say they can get a better outcome with smoked cannabis.

Different pharmacology when smoked, and also much finer dose control.

I’m insulted, Beaumap, that you dismiss the Kurz study as my guess. What do you make of the Kurz study?

Wow! Jacob sounds just like the “chronic stoners” I knew in college – a lot of meanders and oxbow lakes in the “stream of consciousness”. This is not a good advertisement for cannabis.

I looked at the “study” he cited – a single subject, not blinded, not placebo-controlled. And the results were at the bleeding edge of statistical significance, even as reported by the authors.

Then Jacob asks:

“We know that a Canadian company did a blind trial of THC in Montana over 19 months. Which company? Can anyone here shed some light on it please?”

If “we” know it, why doesn’t Jacob ask one of the “we”? Or is he using the term “we” because of the other voices in his head? I did a search using the information Jacob provided (which he could have just as easily done, were he not stoned out of his mind) and found nothing.

I think it is significant that THC is noted to have hallucinogenic properties. Was Jacob using his “medicine” when he heard about this “Canadian company” researching THC in Montana?

BTW, Jacob, “receiving nothing” isn’t a valid control in the “study” you elliptically referred to in comment #37.


@ Vicki: Did you read the “study” that Jacob provided? It was “an uncontrolled single case study” One Kid!

Jacob, you better stop the cannabis immediately; it is having a profound effect on your thinking processes. Why not go back to your original psychiatric diagnosis, instead of the de jour autism diagnosis?

Jacob stop claiming credentials as a dietician, developmental psychologist and medical ethicist. What was that word salad about seizure control?

I’ve never bought the idea that smoking an herb produces better dose control; chemical levels in plants vary naturally, and burning of plant matter is inconsistent because of the inconsistent nature of the fuel. It’s a bit like the argument that a tea is preferable to an elixir, when the tea has far more variables existing purely in how it is actually used. And it’s not like you can’t rig a nebulizer to deliver controlled doses (which, incidentally, might be easier to fake as a placebo).

It certainly doesn’t mean we should accept anecdotes on the nature of “I am certain I have condition X and that condition X goes away when I use treatment Y.” If we did, we’d also have to accept that tinfoil hats are effective at discouraging government mind control rays. (I’m not saying cannabis absolutely cannot be effective, or is as absurd as tinfoil hats; just that anecdotes fail to persuade me, and that I am unimpressed by the question “How many autistic adults would you have to spend your days with, on and off cannabis, in order to be able to answer the question for yourself?” Answer: it’s irrelevant. I’d need more than just observation. I’d need proper study, ideally with some objective endpoints.)

Of course, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the Canary Party, as far as I can tell. Except, of course, for the fact that they use rather similar language to Jacob — saying that it’s undeniable that vaccines are correlated with autism because in their small experience, the ones with more vaccines are more likely to be autistic (when it’s far more likely they simply saw regression to the mean in their tiny and completely uncontrolled sample).

@lilady Stop the cannabis immediately? Why would I go against the direction of my psychiatrist? Isn’t it a bit silly trying to diagnose the difference between asperger, substance abuser, cult member, and troll, when you only have my posts (and a rough idea of sleep patterns from posting times) to go on?


It’s a good thing this is about medicine and not labels isn’t it?

I’m insulted, Beaumap, that you dismiss the Kurz study as my guess. What do you make of the Kurz study?

Well, my first reaction was that you hadn’t posted a study, since no actual citation was ever given. Then I guessed that your website link was meant to be that and took a look. (You really ought to provide proper citations so that it doesn’t give the appearance of just being some random website.)

A one-subject case report is not evidence which could possibly justify the claims you’re making. Not by several orders of magnitude. At best it suggests that a real study might be appropriate. Even THAT is generous, really.

@Todd W
Minor niggle – I believe it’s a myth that cannabis causes pupil dilation. Hallucinogens like LSD and psilocybin do, but not cannabis.

Vaccines do not cause autism.
Tin foil hats do not protect against anything but STDs

Agreed. Proper study is needed. I am happy with my aspergers and my cannabis. All the other adults I have spoken to are happy with theirs.

Why should we care about proper studies? We’ve all got wdgaffayss disease*, why would I risk my ass to tell the world?

It’s not as if people haven’t offered to supply me with cannabis for free, just to make me tolerable. That’s a given. Why would I be screaming for the medical world to wake up and STUDY cannabis for autism MOAR?

*wedontgiveaflying1aboutyourstupidshit disease

My apologies to all readers:

I believe that by my invocation of the hallowed names of Mssrs De Quincey and O’Neill** I have inadvertently summoned forth the autism/cannabis crew who have been lurking around these parts for quite a while. I didn’t mean to do so: it was purely my intention to illustrate that prior to SBM many who suffered from depression and other chronic ills sought comfort in presently controlled substances that were then easier to acquire. Great art is often the product of suffering and alkaloids can help ease the pain( or so I’m told). O’Neill, primarily a drinker, narrates an opiate’s effect on his mother while De Quincey chronicles his own experiences.

** Imagine if I had included Coleridge! Oops!

Krebiozen said,

I believe it’s a myth that cannabis causes pupil dilation. Hallucinogens like LSD and psilocybin do, but not cannabis.

You’re kind of right. THC does make your pupils dilate – and contract. It goes back and forth, rhythmically. I don’t have any sources on hand (and I’m about to leave, so I’ll have to look it up later); I only know from experience as a forensics person (not from doing it, mind you, but observing others).

@ Jacob: If you really have been diagnosed with autism…a very big IF…we only have your word for that. For the sake of argument, we believe you, but Asperger diagnosis comes with concrete, analytical thinking processes, not the rambling incoherence that you have displayed in all your postings.

On the other hand, people who smoke or ingest pot tend to have disordered thinking processes. Your postings here do nothing to advance your cause or advance your theory/use of cannabis for autism/autism spectrum treatments.

Did you even read the “uncontrolled single case (6 month) study”? The authors of the study state unequivocally that “cognitive behavioral therapy is the gold standard in treating children with early infantile autism”. I suspect you cherry picked the study for your “theory” about the use of cannabis.

Yes Jacob, children with classic autism cannot provide consent to be drugged up with cannabis…it is unethical and it is chemical restraint.

children who are increasingly becoming young adults

They bring this up almost like it’s a bad thing that more children are surviving to young adulthood.

Damn those vaccines! They’re keeping kids alive! It’s all part of Big Pharma’s conspiracy!

Unfortunately, Jacob is perpetuating the negative stereotype that all pot smokers have problems with cognition and communication. While this tends to be true with people who brag about smoking pot or who are obviously baked all the time, there are plenty of intelligent, functioning adults who like to unwind with a toke here and there. Jacob is not representative of all cannabis users.

Am I understanding correctly that these people, the “Canary Party,” are offering to go into the metaphorical mines for us and perish for our safety? How very selfless of them.

Won’t the quiet, after, be nice?

@lilady, Yes diagnosed in 2002, in my early thirties, Dr Tom Harrison.

Concrete thinking can generate rambling incoherence. Haven’t you ever heard of a Turing machine? Surely you have heard of modelling a piece of software using an analytical tool before it is coded into existence?

Surely you have heard of autistic people who can perform complex calculations?

Maybe you have heard about an asperger who is running several personality simulations at once? Who knows what you’ve really got until you’ve really tested it?

Yes I read the case study, and I enjoyed it so much I read:
Chakrabarti B, Kent L, Suckling J, Bullmore E,
Baron-Cohen S. Variations in the human cannabinoid receptor (CNR1) gene modulate striatal
responses to happy faces. Eur J Neurosci 2006;

Too! There’s a clue in there somewhere.

“children with classic autism cannot provide consent to be drugged up with cannabis…it is unethical and it is chemical restraint.”

Again, dose. Please do not use the words ‘Drug’, ‘Druggie’, ‘Drugged up’ etc any more.

If you want to say ‘experiencing the mild psychomimetic effects of the THC, attenuated by the anxyolitic effect of the CBD’ that’s fine by me.

Please don’t use those words. In 20 years time, you will realise that they are not very nice words when they are aimed at people who are forced to medicate illegally. Please have some compassion madam!

As for ‘who can say whether or not these children should be given cannabis’?

When that decision is made, it will have to be made, ultimately, by people with aspergers who use cannabis, together with scientists, parents, maybe a lawyer or two, and an awful lot of media attention.

Given that you become satisfied with the new emerging studies, that cannabis is safe and effective for verbal autistic people (where do draw the line anyway)?

You all had Carly Fleishman down as a non-verbal until she learnt to type, now she’s telling you all how it is. Maybe you should ask her who should choose?

Withholding cannabis medicine from non-verbal autistic people could be considered to be abuse. Get used to hearing that a lot.

I would have thought Jacob’s anecdotal-positive usage of cannabis and excitability were indicators of bi-polar disorder, just as long as cannabis usage is halted during downswings.

Cannabis studies will most likely be on the upswing and synthetics developed by “Big Pharma” over the next few years. I would imagine that inhalation is the better way to administer many drugs, yet because of the potential for bronchial damage, probably isn’t a long term solution. Just because one pot-head thinks it is his magic elixir would make me think that removal of the euphoric effects would also end the “positive” effects that he is imagining.

It’s not a theory its a set of conjectures.

I thought we’d done with the etymology lectures or have you got scriptolalia too?

@Jarred C
Interesting – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time I discovered here that something I believed wasn’t true! I am pretty sure, from experience in my misspent youth, that pupil dilation does not reliably correlate with cannabis intoxication, not like it does with other drugs of abuse. I don’t think it would be a problem with blinding in a study anyway, which was Todd’s point.

So is Autism the ‘almost opposite’ of Schizophrenia or not?

That’s certainly how it looks to me?

Canarys? What about EMFs and Teh Cell Fonze™? The WHO has put out a sketchy recommendation to call cell phones “carcinogens” based on a studies that predominantly say there’s no correlation between non-ionizing radiation and brain cancer. So why the announcement? I’m sure our blinking, transparent host will chime in on this turn of events.


Concrete thinking can generate rambling incoherence. Haven’t you ever heard of a Turing machine? Surely you have heard of modelling a piece of software using an analytical tool before it is coded into existence?

I’ll take rambling incoherence for $200, Alex.

What does the relationship between concrete thinking and rambling incoherence have to do with a Turing machine? You keep referencing Turing, but I don’t think you have a clue about what a Turing machine does or what the Turing Test is.

Surely you have heard of autistic people who can perform complex calculations?

Another non-sequitur. Complex calculations have nothing to do with rambling incoherence.

The point stands that your writings are far more typical of a cannabis user than of a high-functioning autistic. I’m sure what you’re saying seems brilliant and coherent to you, but to the rest of us — not so much.

Whether or not cannabis is useful in helping people with ASDs is a reasonable question. One that can be researched. Citing the single-case study that you did doesn’t forward the discussion at all.

children who are increasingly becoming young adults.

Funny, that, how children will become young adults.

I’m pretty sure they mean something like “children who, due to the suffering they experienced, are being forced to mentally grow up sooner/faster than in past generations”. Of course, they didn’t phrase it in the best way.

@ Jacob: Just as I thought; a 41 years old troll diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome nine years ago. You know nothing, zilch, nada, bupkes about classic autism, dietetics, neurology or medical ethics. I suspect you are having untoward psychiatric reactions to your prescribed cannabis.

I think the cannabis troll is done…stick a fork in him.

Done with etymology, stop eating my language and try to chew the message properly!

The single study was positive. the 11 study is rumoured to be 11 positive. the montana study, is rumoured to be 1 positive. My own personal ‘fact of opinion’ counts as one more to me, and none to you, so that’s one half.

13.5 successful case studies.

Find me 14 that went wrong while we wait for the real results for the other two studies or you’re just not doing science at me.

What does the “Variations in the human cannabinoid receptor (CNR1) gene modulate striatal responses to happy faces” study say to you? Has anyone got an opinion on it, or wants to highlight any of it’s findings?

Or would none of it support the conjecture that ‘cannabis should not be used to treat autism’?

It is a conjecture, right? Certainly not an opinion, fact, hypothesis or theory?

” I suspect you are having untoward psychiatric reactions to your prescribed cannabis.

I think the cannabis troll is done…stick a fork in him.”

Why would I have spoken to parents of autistic people, on behalf of this particular country’s largest autism charity, if I had no expertise?

Why would I be invited to universities to take part in autism research on 3 separate occasions if I wasn’t autistic and interested in treatment of autism?

I think it’s very naive to try to shrink somebody you don’t know anything about – online. My psychiatrist will laugh when I tell him for sure!

I’m an autism rights witch*, not a cannabis troll. Always check the label.

*grey hat

Oh, just in case we all got it wrong, and I’m not autistic, don’t you think SBC or someone like him might have noticed something was amiss when he measured my brain waves? Sorry but I really am laughing at you now!

13.5 successful case studies.

So? That’s a minuscule data set.

What does the “Variations in the human cannabinoid receptor (CNR1) gene modulate striatal responses to happy faces” study say to you? Has anyone got an opinion on it, or wants to highlight any of it’s findings?

I only have access to the abstract, but any connection to autism does seem to be a conjecture. “This has implications for medical conditions involving hypo-responsivity to emotional and social stimuli, such as autism.” You could make the same claim for anything that affects responsivity to stimuli. Going from “variations in CNR1 modulate responses to happy faces” to “cannabis is useful in treating autism” is an unassisted leap across the Grand Canyon.

Why would I have spoken to parents of autistic people, on behalf of this particular country’s largest autism charity, if I had no expertise?

Evidence, please?

I can make all sorts of claims in the anonymity of the ‘net. That doesn’t make them true.

Besides, even if your claim of having spoken on behalf of this charity were true, it still isn’t evidence of expertise. I hear speakers talk on behalf of organizations all the time that are experts only in their own minds. Andrew Wakefield comes to mind here, since he’s now claiming to be an expert on MBPS.

What evidence do you want? I can probably dig up the bank statement with the payment on it and I might still have the lunch receipt.

I will have to wait until a certain embargo is past before I can reveal my real identity. Even Orac had that going for him at one point 😉

I could go and pester my contact for a reference but why disturb her in her new life and her new job in another country just because you have become as paranoid as the ‘cult’ your cult is fighting.

Remember that snideways reference to borderline personality disorder?

Tell me, how many therapy sessions per week is a therapist for unstable mood disorder allowed to conduct, maximum?

Does the therapist himself have a therapist to make sure that the therapist is not turning borderline (it does that to people).

If a corporation is a ‘sociopath’, a cult can be described as having ‘unstable mood disorder’.

Ipsos custodioh whatchit pro page on wikipaedia has a reference to the black canary.

Google it SBM’ers.

And prey, tell me, what is my gender? Don’t forget the other two… x

“Ipsos custodioh whatchit pro page on wikipaedia has a reference to the black canary.”

Res ipsa loquitur.

Res ip..!

Where is the victim? Show me the injury to the injured party? Who makes the claim?

Seriously, if anyone gives you any trouble for ‘liking’ cannabis medicine, let us know who and we will help you to defend your most honourable positions.

What does the “Variations in the human cannabinoid receptor (CNR1) gene modulate striatal responses to happy faces” study say to you? Has anyone got an opinion on it, or wants to highlight any of it’s findings?
Or would none of it support the conjecture that ‘cannabis should not be used to treat autism’?

I read the paper. I have my doubts about the quality of the science… the authors say very little facial-expression stimuli they’re using, but they don’t seem to come any of the standardised sets and the example given looks a grotesque grimace to me rather than a ‘smile’.

The main point, though, is nothing in the paper has anything to do with autism.

Thank you herr doktor, I was hoping someone on here would have free access. Any chance of seeing it? It like to understand why Kurz cited it?

Dude, we’ve all got huge doubts about the quality of all autism science. At least we can agree on that much.

When you consider that the human endocannabinoid system and aspergers have been part of the english language for less than 20 years, is it any wonder that we are a little behind?

Did you know that the runners high isn’t down to endorphins?

It’s down to endocannabinoids. Scientists just assumed it was endorphins because they didn’t know about the HECS.

So when I dance hard for 5 hours, I produce enough of my own endocannabinoids to make me less aspergers.

Simply cannot dance for 5 hours each day. Have tried, cannot. Now fixing knees with yoga! Can yoga cause psychosis?

I will have to wait until a certain embargo is past before I can reveal my real identity. Even Orac had that going for him at one point 😉

Ooh! It’s the “I have evidence, but it’s secret” ploy. Good one.

You made a claim (that you have spoken on behalf of the “largest autism charity”), you need to back that up with evidence or shut up. Orac never made an argument from authority so his pseudonymity never had an impact on the truthfulness of his statements. You, on the other hand, have made several arguments from authority and are now refusing to allow us to evaluate your credentials.

Here’s a hint for getting along on Respectful Insolence: Don’t make claims, of any kind, if you aren’t willing to back them up with evidence. Don’t claim to be an expert in something if there’s an “embargo” on the proof of that. Don’t claim that there’s solid research supporting the use of cannabis in the treatment of autism unless you can provide proof of that.

Doctor Bimler: I wonder if they stuck “autism” into the abstract to make the paper seem more interesting or significant.

“Res ipsa loquitur” is a term generally used by lawyers in negligence cases, as you suggest, but it literally means, “the thing speaks for itself”. I thought the statement I quoted did, indeed, speak for itself.

I appreciate the offer of help, but I don’t actually use any illegal substances.

Oh yes I can prove it all. With relish we will. SBC did look rather disappointed when I couldn’t join his research institute due to lack of formality :/

Yes proof is coming. I’ll start as soon as the framework is in place!

Let me tell you a story, about a woman I know, she had a whole lot of responsibility and I had had enough so when we were on the balcony outside her office having a cigarette, talking about how to support me in my workplace as an asperger, she just said, out of the blue:

“Thank god it’s you!”

“What”? I replied, naturally

“I mean thank god it’s you and not every other one I’ve had to work with. You’re really cool, the others are really miserable.”

That got me wondering in the first place. Do I have anything to offer?


Embargo lifted 5pm UK time June 2nd.

LW, you fell for the ‘illegal substance’ error. That’s a schoolboy error in any cannabis campaigners book.

A Fact can give rise to a Law, and a Law can give rise to a legal fiction (an example of which is the UN Single convention on Narcotics).

If a Law was passed because a policemen lied to a politician about what a doctor had entrusted him to say, then is it really a law at all?

You’ll find knot.

Unless you google Ainslinger Lied Congress Cannabis.

I’d be pretty angry about a liar and a cheat getting involved in medicine just so they can further their own ends.

Ainslinger = Wakefield

Silento Animo, Abest Timor x

@ Adelady: Oh, that link you provided cannot be good news for the Anti-vax part of the Canary Party. In addition, the rest of the ragtag bunch that the Party hopes to attract who think that American health care is a failure, cannot dispute the figures that indicate chronic diseases such as hypertension, strokes and heart diseases are being treated quite successfully by medical advances.

Vaccines that have been licensed and in use just these past ten years have resulted in healthier children and adults. Too bad for them that the report came out this week just after the “debut” of the Canary Party.

Yes proof is coming. I’ll start as soon as the framework is in place!

We’ve never had people coming here and making claims like that before.


@Composer99 – I obviously haven’t trolled here as long and hard as you have. I thought I was being original. Embargo now moved to

Ooh look they just recently made medical ‘marijuana’ (cannabis) legal in NJ, that’s the Home State of this Blog so does that mean we can find out how many people with ASD are cueing up to get a script?

People with ASD don’t queue. They cue. Thank you.

How many AIDS patients did it take to persuade Bush to shut down the INDP? 3000 was it? That’s medicine prevention at it’s most dark. *shudder*

I said bi-polar, not borderline personality disorder. Quite a bit different.

And can you please tell everyone exactly what “brainwaves” test determined autism/Aspergers? There really are no definitive tests, as far as I know, that will give a detection of ASD, unless you are suggesting that the limited linguistics testing that has been done is 100% accurate and results in no false positives?

Perhaps you are talking of the study released late last year from Boston Medical that indicated an 80% positive rate for autism detection in 9 month old infants that was rebutted later in the same journal: doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-61

In short, Jacob, you’re running off at the mouth and promising far more than you can ever provide. You’re spamming these threads with pseudoscience in an apparent attempt to be nothing more than a lying attention whore.

spamming these threads with pseudoscience in an apparent attempt to be nothing more than a lying attention whore.

JayK, stop raging, stop splitting us good and bad.

And enough of the projective identification already?

We know you’re Bi-polar, now take your mania elsewhere and stop thread-jacking.

(read my 2 comments about UMD again, and google for your own peace of mind. SWAT have been called, for no reason, time and time again, because you thought the blood on my hands and your dress was mine.*)

Embargo Margo?

Oh K, I was a research subject in this study:

I think SBC would have told me if my brain had looked more like the control groups brains that the autism group (of which I was one of the 10 boys or 9 girls). Can Orac please confirm? Would SBC have a duty to inform me if the experimental data did not support an hesitant aspergers diagnosis?

One thing bothers me? Subjects were supposed to not have a current drug abuse problem. At the time I wasn’t taking illegal drugs but I was most certainly an alcoholic. Would my alcoholism have made my brain appear to be autistic in this experiment, (even though my original diagnosis is probably wrong, according to you)?

You make assumptions about me which are false, and it makes you look silly.

@ Jay K: Yup Jacob is a lying attention whore. There was no control group. The “nineteen Caucasian students were recruited by advertisement” and no one cares if Jacob was/is a female or male. “But I was most certainly an alcoholic” (Possibly suffering from Korsakoff Syndrome or maybe now Wernicke-Kosakoff Encephalopathy?)

Truly a trolling scam artist, diagnosed (or maybe not diagnosed) with Asperger Syndrome, with ambiguous gender and an addict. Go away we’ve had our fun with you and you bore us.

Yes Jacob, we get it – you like weed, you feel it helps with whatever problems you have (which seem like many).

You’ve made numerous posts, both here & on off-topic posts to that effect as well. Okay, again, you like that weed. Fine, now run along please.


I don’t tell other people what their gender is: that would be presumptuous. If you know what your gender is, that’s fine. If not, you may want to think, explore, even talk to experts. It’s not something random people on the internet can tell you. (I have been assuming you’re male because “Jacob” is usually a male name, and people here get to choose their nyms: a woman who was mistakenly assigned male at birth, or an intersexed person with a male name on their birth certificate, could go by any handle they wanted here.)

Actually Lawrence, I like people.

That plant, which is a collection of chemicals, is just my medicine. It’s like saying you like your statins or your ventolin or any of the other things people are advised to take regularly and in the right dose.

Don’t be silly about medicine on scienceblogs.

Hi Vickie, yes I have an exourethra. Brain claims to be both genders at once but I can’t even prove that to myself, let alone anyone else. Even the male half of my brain doesn’t believe it!

@Lying attentionwhore biglady
Really? You think I may be suffering from a dangerous side effect of discontinuing alcohol? Should I start drinking again so I can talk more on your level? Did you get so big from alcohol or cake?

A few commenters here have pointed out the key words in the abstract to that study:

This has implications for medical conditions involving hypo-responsivity to emotional and social stimuli, such as autism.

The study was an initial study, small group and poorly controlled. The discussion has a similar statement about autism:

As viewing happy faces is also a specific
case of emotion processing, the results may also have implications for neurodevelopmental conditions with a genetic basis in which socialemotional responsivity is under-active or atypical in function, such as autism (Hobson, 1986; Baron-Cohen, Ring et al., 1999; C. Ashwin, …, unbublished results)

This study didn’t measure if you have autism or aspergers, it was just a simple measurement of CNR1 in response to observed emotional cues.

Let me repeat what I said before: There is no single definitive test for the existence or diagnosis of ASDs. So everything you’ve blathered on here about cannabis is an excuse mechanism for your addictive personality. First alcohol (yes, you screwed the study) and now cannabis. I’m sure there are other behaviors or chemicals that you haven’t told us about.

I think it is quite telling that you really don’t understand what the study actually meant.


Chakrabarti, B., Kent, L., Suckling, J., Bullmore, E., & Baron-Cohen, S. (April 01, 2006). SHORT COMMUNICATION: Variations in the human cannabinoid receptor (CNR1) gene modulate striatal responses to happy faces. European Journal of Neuroscience, 23, 7, 1944-1948.

I also find it interesting that Jacob claims to have every documented behavior associated with Aspergers down perfectly. Almost as if he/she/it has studied the DVM diagnostic repeatedly and convinced him/herself that display of each documented behavior is necessary to convince others of the existence of such a diagnosis.

Just more casual evidence that Jacob is a fake.

Further research into the activity of CNR1 indicates that alterations in the gene result in higher levels of anxiety and depression, as well as temporary obsessive behaviors.

Anecdotally I have to think this explains a lot about our pot-troll.


My husband has Asperger Syndrome. He reads several blogs, but never looks at the comments. He has replied to specific questions asked by the author, but it is always a short and direct answer, and only in his field of expertise. Most of the time I can’t understand what he writes on his field (computer programming) because I don’t know the lingo and he doesn’t have any idea how to dumb-it-down. In short, he isn’t the best communicator but he makes sense.

I can’t follow Jacob. There is a loose theme to his comments but they have somewhat of a panicked feel (someone mentioned Bipolar disorder). Living with three people with an ASD (and having read books by Temple Grandin and Kenneth Hall) I don’t recognize this style of disjointed writing. I am not an expert, just an observer with some experience but this Jacob needs help IMHO.

My son’s behaviors are very challenging and there are times I feel desperate to help him calm down. But there would have to be some seriously convincing evidence of effectiveness and safety before I would even consider THC. Even then there would have to be a better way of administering it than smoking an herb (with all the associated health risks). It is reckless to start using a powerful drug in a raw form without any testing on a vulnerable population.

Sorry Kristen, Orac has asked me kindly to discontinue discussion of cannabis as an autism treatment.

There is some very strong autism expertise on these boards, not enough input from autists themselves, too much poring over the messenger and not enough chewing the actual message.

I came here for simple feedback. I got a strange game instead? I wish you people could meet me, to see who I really am, but sadly not possible. UMD, I’m out of here for my own safety.

You got lost because I began to mirror the behaviour that I observe on these boards. Lost in a maze of your own making.

There is certainly a rather skewed perception of things here. I won’t be sending people here to ask about autism treatments ever again.

Thank you Orac and everyone for the good work with the vaccines.

Please try to understand the autism itself a little more. There is a lot more physical autism science around than you guys seem to know about.

Just one last thing? Did anyone ever find an Autistic Yoruba? Full, not half or quarter, but full. Yoruba have no autism. Why is this? Same goes for San Bushmen. No autism. Why is this? Every other race on earth including the Amish, autism. Why the glaring omission?

Nobody has come back on that simple question.

So that settles it. The scientific community does actually believe in the possibility that autism = neanderthal mulattos and so will not even dare to discuss it lest someone actually does go ahead and, oops, it’s true!

Is it or isn’t it? I’m not a neandertal steakholder, we just really want to know.

Or at least can a proper geneticist explain why it is impossible, like the way it’s impossible for vaccines to cause twins, separate up until 18 months, to conjoin and share a single colon, before they left the nurses office after receiving 20 in one shot? How?

Neanderthals -> autism. Discuss.

Oh, wow. Has Wakefield gone off the deep-end, or is this an attempt to get more customers/followers?

Nobody has come back on that simple question.
So that settles it.

Do not exclude the possibility that the members of Orac’s commentariat have no particular expertise about the range of neurological variation within the Yoruba or San language communities, and so do not feel qualified to offer an opinion.

@ Omri & Matthew Cline: It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation for Wakefield. He’s off the deep end and attempting to build up his “base” of customers/followers, conspiracy theorists and every other loon.

Did I miss the step of carny barker?

Herr doktor, I actually arrived with that assumption, rather than not realizing it was a possibility!

Just what expertise is here? A lot of pediculosis nit-picking, wetymology and ‘my opinion trumps your personal facts,’.

Errm, hats off to a bit of autism expertise floating around here.

Sativa, Ruderalis and Indica? Until you know the difference between a drug, a alcohol, and a medicine, your judge meant simba-rah-singh for us!

There is very little knowledge of pre-history amongst this commentariat, although most will acknowledge that it does exits (bounces up and down for potbelly hill – more funding for this archaeology plz..!).

snipper meet chase..

We remember the last million years rather well, we sung down through the generations until such time as somebody could figure out how to scrawl it in the ground with a stick – that’s when your stories started to mutate and conflate. This is your babal. The length of your threads is a sign of coping, not of discourse.

We remember it, we just need to find a Caucasian who is brave enough to pass the story onto his brothers and sisters. We know when and how the hue-man got his name.

without-without-lack of rule,
Oreesha Kwee

Neither do you, since your claimed reason for it is patently false.


It’s a rhetorical. Anyone reading this knows that the cause of SZ is not currently known, just like the cause of autism.

What I mean is, Do you have a hypothesis for ‘Word Salad’?

Not that it really matters because whatever I’m doing doesn’t fit the description of word salad. It may be extra wrong, but it’s not meaningless.

Quote me a single sentence I’ve written that you don’t understand. I’ll be surprised, to say the least.

Where is the ‘word salad’?

I remember in first grade, my teacher telling the class that sharks were the cousins of dolphins, that they were mammals too. This same teacher also told us the reason the moon was always shining is because there is a star that hangs over it and lights it up. I remember her ‘proving’ it by saying the next time we are out at night and the moon is up, look above it and you’ll be able to see the star that makes the moon shine.

I don’t know if she was being silly, but as a teacher should have refrained from telling us things like this because for the longest time I believed she was actually telling me scientific fact. Thinking back on that experience later, I wonder how she was allowed to teach. She was also verbally and physically abusive to certain students in the class (I had the misfortune to be one of them) and my parents always thought the reason I remembered her was because she was one of my favorite teachers.

I bring this up because of the comment made by Orac, “I despair for our youth, if they’re being taught by someone with so little in the way of scientific knowledge and critical thinking skills.” I’ve been taught by people who have lost the ability for rational thought. Fortunately, I wasn’t seriously or permanently damaged by her failings as a teacher. Hopefully the youth she teaches will remember her, not because she was their favorite teacher, but because she was the crack pot of the school?

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