Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine

The “I told you so” fantasy, or: The fallacy of future vindication

Cranks love to fantasize that their ideas will be vindicated in the future. The fantasy almost never becomes reality.

Last week, I noted a particularly loathsome trend (even for antivaccinationists) to invoke Holocaust analogies for what they view as the “vaccine-induced autism epidemic holocaust.” Now, loathsome analogies are not uncommon among antivaccinationists, who routinely refer to their children as “damaged” or “toxic” and view them as somehow not their “real” children, but this time around, former reporter turned hack editor for the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism fantasized about dragging his former colleagues through the “evidence” for a vaccine Holocaust the same way that Allied troops forced German civilians to view the piles of bodies in concentration camps like Dachau after the liberation of Nazi Germany to show them what was going on right under their noses so that they could not deny that they knew anything about it.

It occurred to me, however, that Olmsted’s fantasy is only a particularly disgusting version of the same fantasy that you hear time and time again from people who continue to believe that vaccines cause autism despite the mountains of evidence that have failed to find even a whiff of a hint of a link. It’s what I like to call the “I’ll show them!” fallacy or maybe the fallacy of future vindication. Basically, it’s the idea that someday, in some fantastical future, the medical and scientific community will realize that antivaccine cranks are not cranks at all, that they were right all along and that vaccines are the horrible thing that vaccine-autism conspiracy theorists claim them to be. It’s the fantasy that antivaccine quacks like Andrew Wakefield will cease to be viewed as quacks and cranks and be recognized for the forward-thinking geniuses that the antivaccine movement believe them to be. Yes, this fantasy says, these doctors today are shunned, viewed as pseudoscientists and quacks, but someday their brilliance will be undeniable, and then we’ll rub the noses of the medical community in it much the same way Olmsted fantasizes about rubbing the noses of his former journalist colleagues in it, just like the way the Allies rubbed the noses of German civilians in the atrocities committed in their name during the Holocaust that they claimed they knew nothing about even though it was happening literally “right up the road” from where they lived.

An example of this sort of “thinking” is on display over at the most inaptly named blog of all time, The Thinking Moms’ Revolution, in a post entitled Autism Doctors: Hope For Our Children. It might better be called: Antivaccine quacks. Yet, these brave maverick doctors, these “geniuses” in the eyes of the not-so-Thinking Mom who goes by the ‘nym Cupcake are unjustly attacked by unimaginative and uncaring doctors:

In this day and age, where doctors are subjected to witch hunts and the mainstream medical system is poisoning our kids, I want to take the opportunity to thank those doctors who fight for our children’s health every day. Like Rhazes (806-932AD), these doctors strive for the truth in spite of false allegations against them and in spite of society calling them charlatans and governments taking their licenses away. Our autism doctors of today are treated much in the same way Vesalius and Servetus were treated during the inquisition. They will be vindicated. I have faith that the truth will come out and those individuals helping our children will prevail.

So, not only is the “persecution” of cranks like Wakefield akin to the Holocaust, apparently, but it’s also like the Inquisition. Of course, one can’t help but note that Servetus was not condemned to death for his medical practices, but rather for religious reasons, specifically denying the Trinity and criticizing the practice of infant baptism. In other words, it was not for his medical work, and there is considerable doubt that Vesalius was ever actually a target of the Inquisition. Be that as it may, to Cupcake apparently Vesalius’ history of having corrected the work of Galen, whose anatomic descriptions of humans famously had been based on dissections of apes, is akin to the refutation of much of Galen’s work. Cupcake’s lionization of “brave maverick doctors” continues to hilarious extremes. For instance:

There are stories like this all across America and beyond our borders. Our children are sick and need people like our good doctors sticking their necks out to heal them. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has helped countless children regain speech, heal the gut, increase cognition, decrease hyperactivity and a host of other gains. However, doctors like Dan Rossignol are thought to endanger the lives of children that use mHBOT and are discredited in much the same way as Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier when he theorized that oxygen exchanged with carbon dioxide in the lungs. People thought he was a fool, and yet, we know this to be true today. I have yet to meet a family negatively affected by mHBOT. You hear about ONE family of a friend of a friend of a friend, but honestly, no one ever gives a name. Let’s just say I know far more people that benefitted than had a negative experience. A geneticist we saw for suspected mitochondrial dysfunction lectured us ad naseum about the dangers of mHBOT for anyone and anything other than wound healing. Clearly, he was uneducated about other illnesses or conditions benefitting from mHBOT such as brain injuries, CO poisoning, MS and others.

Yes, that’s right. Brave maverick doctor “visionaries” who subject autistic children to HBOT are akin to Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier. Of course. Lavoisier was not killed for his scientific discoveries, nor was he “discredited” for them. He went to the guillotine during the Reign of Terror after the French Revolution because he had been a powerful figure in the deeply unpopular Ferme Générale, 28 feudal tax collectors for the king. In fact, Lavoisier’s supporters tried to argue for clemency for him because of his scientific achievements, arguing that he should be spared so that he could continue his researches. The judge’s famous retort to this plea was, “The Republic needs neither scientists nor chemists; the course of justice cannot be delayed.” Joseph Louis Lagrange lamented Lavoisier’s execution thusly, “It took them only an instant to cut off his head, but France may not produce another such head in a century.” One also notes that Lavoisier is listed among eminent Roman Catholic scientists who defended their faith against those who would use science to attack it. In other words, Lavoisier was indeed a great scientist. It is also true that he did encounter resistance to some of his ideas from other scientists, but, whatever scientific disagreements there were, he was highly respected and hardly considered a “fool” for his discovery of how respiration functioned similarly to burning to produce carbon dioxide.

Elsewhere, another not-so-Thinking Mom going by the ‘nym Mama Mac envisions a Museum of Autism:

A beginning glimmer of hope emerges in the exhibit with a discussion of Lovaas’s ABA method and the brand new idea that Autistic children could improve. Then the numbers of children diagnosed with Autism begins to surge around 1984 and we start to see that spark of hope ignite as the first ‘Mercury Parents’ outlined in David Kirby’s book Evidence of Harm start the parent led activism that has brought us out of this despicable nightmare. We see the dawn of DAN medicine when physician Autism parents, like Bernard Rimland, refute the ridiculous party line because their experience of autism is a sick child, a child that needs medical care. The history continues with the saga of Dr. Andrew Wakefield who dares to question the safety of the MMR vaccine and is vilified for it. Autism Speaks steps into the fray and Jenny McCarthy picks up the mantle of hope. The numbers become staggering and parents become educated. As parents function as wise consumers of medical care for their children the pharmaceutical hold on pediatric care begins to crumble. This is where I think we are today. Daily greater numbers of parents are refusing to support ‘one-size-fits-all’ vaccination programs insisting on pediatric care based on real science and a hearty dose of common sense.

I had a really hard time not laughing out loud when Mama Mac described herself and other parents chasing quackery as “wise consumers.” Moreover, as I pointed out, common sense is not so common and often not even sense. Funny, but I even used a TMR post to illustrate the principle, just as I’ll finish up by quoting one last TMR post by Mama Mac to come to the conclusion that perhaps this should be called the “I told you so” gambit. I’ll quote generously, because Mama Mac brings home the stupid quite well:

I would never say, “I told you so” to a parent; however, I feel differently about my conversations with medical providers. I’ve talked with many of Nick’s doctors about my concerns involving vaccine and antibiotic safety. I’ve also talked with lots of friends who are doctors and scientists. With the exception of a rare few, their usual reaction is polite disdain.

Medical providers of small children have tremendous power and responsibility in the Autism/vaccine debate. They do have the time to critically analyze the studies on this subject for flawed design, author bias, and affiliation of practice, pharmaceutical ties and relationship to the vaccine industry. Autism mothers find time to do this and we are the busiest people on earth. Pediatricians must demand better leadership from their professional organizations in the area of vaccination safety practices and get help standing up to pharmaceutical interests that infiltrate the way they practice medicine.

When the Autism/Vaccine shit hits the fan, which is inevitable, I will shout, “I told you so” to every one of these arrogant S.O.B’s. because it has been on their watch that more children have been harmed. Whether through their denial, passivity or stubborn adherence to medical orthodoxy, they have ignored innumerable attempts to raise their awareness of the risks of the current vaccine schedule. They will have more blood on their hands if they do not acknowledge this crisis in children’s health now and make adjustments to the way they practice. How will they justify their actions ten years from now? “We just didn’t know” might have been acceptable in the early ‘90’s. In 2012 we know. How will they live with the shame? Will they be able to forgive themselves for the damage they are inflicting today?

Notice how much better Mama Mac thinks that she and her fellow un-Thinking Moms are. Those horrible doctors just don’t care. They don’t have the time to read studies critically or they don’t have any interest! Only Mama Mac and her brave band of mavericks understand enough to recognize design flaws in research studies and to ferret out all those horrible conflicts of interest. Never mind that they are the personification of the arrogance of ignorance, thinking that their University of Google-won pseudoknowledge trumps the knowledge of scientists and doctors who have devoted their entire careers to studying vaccines and/or autism. It would be one thing if all their “study” actually produced evidence that they understand the basic concepts involved, but it doesn’t and they don’t. Instead of focusing on the totality of evidence, they focus in like a laser beam only on evidence that supports their preconceived notions that vaccines are an evil threat to their children and the cause of autism and pretty much every other chronic health problem suffered by children these days.

And, of course, Mama Mac concludes with the fantasy of vindication, the “I told you so” fantasy. Like the mad scientist in a horror movie, she’s basically saying, “They thought me mad—mad, I tell you!—but I’ll show them! I’ll show them all! Just you wait and see!”

Now imagine that ranting and apply it to every quack, crank, and pseudoscientist pushing the antivaccine myth, and you’ll have an idea of how these cranks think of themselves: As persecuted visionaries who will ultimately be vindicated. Never once does the thought enter their mind that they might be wrong, that the reason they are viewed as cranks or treated with “polite disdain” is because they are so obviously wrong. That’s what separates them from real scientists. Sure, real scientists who believe unpopular things also believe that some day they will be vindicated, but they also carefully consider the possibility that they might be wrong and are prepared to change course if the evidence demands it.

So unlike the un-Thinking Moms and the brave maverick doctors they lionize.

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]

98 replies on “The “I told you so” fantasy, or: The fallacy of future vindication”

I like the idea of adding an autism treatment wing to the Museu of Medical Quackery.

True, eye-catching devices are relatively scarce among autism quacks compared to other charlatans, but there could be a bleach enema setup, chelation machinery and of course a giant display of all the pills and supplements peddled to parents as false autism cures.

…are discredited in much the same way as Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier when he theorized that oxygen exchanged with carbon dioxide in the lungs.

What the ?

*Picking up dropped jaw from floor.*

I won’t deny there was more than a bit of anti-intellectualism in the decision to kill Lavoisier. Revolutions tend to be like that. However, as Orac perfectly explained, he was certainly not “discredited’ by the scientific establishment, but killed for being a tax collector (a shill for the aristocrats, if you like).

Actually, if I was to draw a parallel between the mob mentality of my “sans culottes” forebears and of one of the side on the vaccination debate, it’s not today’s scientific establishment I would be looking at…

@Heliantus: Lavoisier wasn’t just a shill for the aristocrats, he was an aristocrat himself. In those days, if you weren’t already an aristocrat when you joined what was basically a privatized version of the Internal Revenue Service, you quickly became one. Lavoisier compounded that by marrying, IIRC, his boss’s daughter. There are some good reasons why the IRS is one of the more hated agencies of the US government. Imagine how much more widespread (and justified) that anger would be if the IRS’s functions were contracted out to, e.g., Goldman Sachs. Not that Lavoisier should have gone to the guillotine, but during the French Revolution many people were executed for much less.

And yes, I definitely get a “sentence first, verdict later” vibe from the anti-vax crowd.

Even if by some miracle people like the antivaccinationists or Burzynski turn out to be right in the end, they should still be vilified. The scientific community has a system for bringing the truth to light. It may be inefficient sometimes, but in the end it works. By trying to bypass the system, these people would be poisoning the well for any truth they might have. Ultimately, that makes the process even less efficient. Of course, it is more likely they don’t have any truth to begin with.

@ Eric Lund

I knew, or learned again recently 🙂
I just couldn’t resist putting the word “shill” to emphasize which side Lavoisier’s bread was buttered.
He was killed because he was a noted member of the distrusted old order, and a tax collector to boot (or maybe the other way round), not because he was some scientific rebel.

Actually, I attended last month a French historian’s lecture on the 17th-century wealthy families in the region around my little village. Tax collector was indeed a quick way to climb the social ladder, both in term of cash and titles. Including the little lordling of my village, who suddenly got the cash to build himself a castle with a lavishly ornamented facade.
Let’s say it, the system was rotten to the core.

OK, I should stop with the OT now.

“Mama Mac” (“I told you so”) is Alison MacNeil who has been using her dad Jim MacNeil’s media contacts to promote the TMR’s new book.

Take a look at this video from Fox TV News (at 40 seconds into the 4:26 minute video). She mentions vaccines, the prospective vaccinated-vs-unvaccinated study, the “vested interests” of researchers who conduct vaccine safety studies antibiotics, pay-outs from the Vaccine Court and older parents at time of conception being *more toxic*

When asked for her opinion about the DeStefano case control study, she replies, she’s not satisfied with the study; the study is “more smoke and mirrors” and, “I don’t think that any study that’s worth its salt is put out on Good Friday”

Cranks and denialists of all stripes just love their revenge fantastasies – Marg the reiki troll was always making declarations of future vindication before her many flounces. I’ve noticed global warming denialists love to cackle about how “stupid” all we silly tree-huggers are going to look when we turn out to be wrong about AGW. My response is that I would be delighted (and relieved) to be proven wrong, but the evidence says otherwise.

As for the (Not) TMR hive mind, their desire for vindication also performs an important protective function by insulating them from any doubts or culpability for the useless/dangerous quackery they’ve been inflicting on their unfortunate children. They don’t do self-examination very well – they’re too busy, busy, busy after all!

” fantastasies” was supposed to be “fantasies” – or did I just invent a new word?

Actually, over @ PRN, the quack-in-charge continuously proclaims how he has always “been ahead of the curve” on virtually everything in medicine, as well as in other areas ( usually documented by self-aggrandising video bios *et autre* claptrap). He’s already declared victory. However, he claims many coups which are only vaguely related to realworld advances. It’s called- “stretching the truth” and re-defining terminology to suit yourself.

Which brings me directly into my own issue- when I read and listen to the various purveyors of mindless drivel disguised as ‘cutting-edge science’, I get the distinct feeling that I have left my own world and entered into a brave new one where the rules are different, the language can be incomprehensible and logic is of an entirely inverse nature. Fortunately, I had steeped myself in cross-cultural research.

About 20 years ago, I worked for a non-profit, amongst my many duties ( including counselling and creating propaganda), I had to interview people from a ( possible) subculture that often had been neglected and find ways to ‘get through’ to them. It was no easy task.

I feel even more out of synch when I read AoA, TMR, PRN etc. Like a ‘stranger in a strange land’. But years of immersion had enabled me to perhaps have some insight into this *Ausland* of reason.

I have to start with an analogy: when people first begin study the history of European pictorial art, usually the uninitiated may gravitate to certain periods because they enjoy the realistic portrayal of people and nature- the Renaissance, Dutch masters and Impressionists- and shy away from more abstract, modern experimentalism as well as earlier Christian iconography. Moderns are inured with photography and influenced by accurate protrayal of nature.

Were the earlier – and later- artists unable to mimic external reality OR did they have entirely different aims? Perhaps they were interested in spiritual qualiifies portrayed graphically or in design problems, respectively, not in protraying external reality as seen visually.

We, like the novice art historians, may be biased towards reason and may not be able to understand those who shun it or find it secondary to other ruling ideals- emotionality, romanticism,spirituality and perhaps even design qualities.

As for the (Not) TMR hive mind, their desire for vindication also performs an important protective function by insulating them from any doubts or culpability for the useless/dangerous quackery they’ve been inflicting on their unfortunate children. They don’t do self-examination very well – they’re too busy, busy, busy after all!

It’s certainly an effective way to immunize themselves from evidence. Any evidence that runs counter to their expectations is dismissed as part of the grand conspiracy.

Any evidence that has the remotest resemblance to confirming their belief is cherrypicked, quote mined, or otherwise distorted to inflate their confidence. Fraudulent evidence in their favor is accepted at face value. The act of pointing out the deception is deemed persecution and evidence that they’re succeeding by way of the Gadfly Corollary just because someone attempted to talk about it. Studies that fail to reproduce the fraudulent results are treated as evidence of conspiracy.

In short, everything in their black-and-white world is evaluated by which “side” it’s on (or which side it can be spun toward), rather than by its methodology.

@ Edith Prickly:

I think you touch on an important point:
their ‘reality’ revolves around internal personal needs not external reality.
Self-criticism would have to include the views of others as well as effects outside oneself.

So many things were supposed to justify the anti-vax position. The Autism Omnibus cases, the Wakefield defamation suit in Texas, the chelation study done by James Adams, etc. JB Handley’s son was supposed to be cured.

All of these things have not gone their way, but since they are not rational people, instead of convincing them to change their minds, these events only make them more entrenched in their position, and so their fantasy vindication becomes more and more graphic.

I feel very sorry for them, but even more sorry for their children.

I came across this announcement in a local blog, listing under “social events” what is apparently a fundraiser for Generation Rescue and featuring Jenny McCarthy. It’s called Rock Now for Autism, and is scheduled to take place at some trendy nightspot in Hollywood.

I wonder what kind of turnout they will have.

A comment about Lavoisier: One time I was teaching the introductory chemistry class, and we got to the part about conservation of mass in chemical reactions. Something about the textbook’s treatment bothered me, and I finally figured out what it was. I then explained the following to the class: The introductory textbooks often present conservation of mass as if it were the most obvious thing imaginable, and offhandedly mention Lavoisier setting the rest of the world straight. In fact, if you look at the history a little more closely, you will find arguments pointing out that the phlogiston model, popular at the time, had a certain amount of experimental evidence behind it, and was not at all easy to refute. Lavoisier spent the better part of a lifetime developing not only the theoretical model, but the experimental tools to support the conservation of mass theory. Along the way he postulated the existence of oxygen as an invisible gas that participated in the reaction. In other words, I told the students, Lavoisier was a genius who revolutionized science, and nobody else would have been able to do what he did.

The point that is relevant to this discussion is that Lavoisier engaged in experimental science, developed not only the methodology but convincing data, and made his findings known to the world. By the time he was done, proponents of the earlier view were forced by compelling logic to accept conservation of mass, and those who didn’t are not remembered kindly by scientific history.

While Mama Mac’s fantasy of vindication includes brave ‘thinking moms’ and ‘brave maverick doctors’, it’s very telling how it completely leaves out all the autistic children who have been cured by HBOT, chelations, bleach enemas, diets and supplements.

David, why this incredible obsession with vaccines and autism?

When it suits you, feel free to move on to a discussion of other possibilities for the increase in the incidence of ASD like flame retardants and plastics.

Does this endless series of vaccine/autism columns never get boring to the rest of you?


Does this endless series of vaccine/autism columns never get boring to the rest of you?


You know, there IS something you could do to help. It involves changing your mind. Not holding my breath, though.

Ouch. My irony lobe just blew out, and my egregiometer’s needle is spinning like a dervish.

@Dr. Jay

Interesting. Are you admitting that vaccines don’t cause autism and that it’s time to move on? That seems to be the implication. Otherwise, why tell me that the “obsession” is “boring.” Also, if you did mean that vaccines don’t cause autism and it’s time to move on, please tell your admirers!

Of course, as long as antivaccinationists promote the vaccine–autism link, I’ll be there to blog about it. Sorry if it “bores” you, but remember this: You yourself contributed to the myth in a big way. Having second thoughts, are you?

Dr. Gordon,

It’s not so much that Orac is obsessed with vaccines and autism, it’s that the people at AoA and TMR are obsessed. Why don’t you try going over there to argue that it’s not vaccines, it is actually flame retardants and plastics? See how long you last before you are shouted down.

Quoth the Jayven:

” We also have combined six different vaccines with more than 20 separate antigens to be given at the two-, four-, and six-month check ups. The science behind these combinations is lacking and the challenge ‘You can’t prove it’s dangerous to give these shots at the same time,’ completely reverses the real obligation of the manufacturers and vaccine researchers to prove that the vaccines and combinations are safe.”
Jay N. Gordon, MD, FAAP


“Does this endless series of vaccine/autism columns never get boring to the rest of you?”

Sorry, doc. You must have written in the wrong URL, thinking you were at your alt-alma mater, Age of Autism. A quick perusal of the blog posts here will show that Orac wrote about cancer, about people who equate autism with the systematic torture and murder of Jews and others in Nazi-controlled Europe, about quacks, about people who can’t tell what “dihydrogen monoxide” is, about a PhD in biochemistry who can’t properly read and interpret a case-control study, about a properly done case-control study, and about libelous claims from a quack’s PR person… All since April 1st.

A quick perusal of your friends’ blog, AoA, shows nothing but “vaccines cause autism and we’ll be god-damned if we’re going to claim otherwise” on every single post.

And then there’s your new book… “Preventing Autism”. How do you think people with autism feel about your thoughts? One autistic young man with a bright future in public health* said he felt like he was a mistake and like his parents were careless in his upbringing when they bent over backwards with the limited resources they had to get him where he is… Is that what you were aiming for with your book?

*No, not that guy. (And, speaking of “that guy”, I was just watching the IACC committee meeting. He made quite a spectacle of himself. They should post the video soon.)

Thanks to Sullivan LeftBrainRightBrain for pointing out that Professor Stephen Bustin has just made freely available his analysis of the fractally-wrong Wakefield PCR findings.

“The Wakefield MMR hypothesis is already failed, so this does not really change the conversation. What this report by Prof. Bustin does is document his own observations, measurements and analyses for the historical record so we can see just how bad the science was that promoted the Wakefield hypothesis.”

For those of you who would like to go straight to Professor Bustin’s article, the link is

Dr Gordon:

Since there is an astonisingly and alarmingly large contingent of American parents who continue to insist, despite the evidence, that vaccines are a causal factor in autism spectrum disorders, I fail to see how it is inappropriate for anyone to continue to comment on how inaccurate their view is, particularly in light of the problems that anti-vaccine activism, insofar as it results in reduced vaccine uptake (and hence increased incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases), presents to modern societies comprising tens or hundreds of millions of people.

@Broken Link – can’t see him taking up that challenge, somehow!

@Krebiozen – checked in with a former NHS workmate last night. Our local hospital PICU full of measles, all other issues such as extreme premature birth, RSV etc are being sent to the next city over.

Only a few months ago the paeds ward was full of little’uns with mumps, and summer the PICU was in the same situation re: pertussis.

So, triple threat:

Sick and dying kids.
Staff potentially carrying viruses out with them, despite precautionary measures.
Loss of productivity/income for those with sick kids.

Apparently some of the very senior staff (50+) are horrorstruck. They’d hoped these VPDs were long gone. The younger staff members had never seen anything but mumps, with the exception of a nurse who’d been on an MSF trip to somewhere like Eritrea.

They’re scrabbling to vaccinate younger staff members and their kids, the siblings of patients with VPDs, giving boosters to ward staff.

So Doctor Jay, tom much too soon? Looks like too little too f*cking late from where I’m lying. The NHS has enough trouble as it is without this. You and your playmate buddy have blood on your hands.

Offtopic (didn’t even get to read the blog post or the message but will do after posting):

Someone have a clue as to what Strathmore Worldwide is ( They called me 20 minutes ago to tell me I’m their selected personality of the month (which month? Don’t know) and I will have an article dedicated to me along with lot of interesting gizmo which I’ll receive in 10 days.


@Composer99 – parents from the UK and continental Europe have been indoctrinated too.

The UK is currently riddled with VPDs. We’re a densely populated island, not spread out like most of the US, and measles, in particular, is ripping through my region and Wales.

Emergency vaccine clinics in south Wales gave out 1200 MMR jabs on Saturday alone between 09:00-18:00. People had been queueing since 8am.

Wankfield, The ~Warrior Mommies~ and Dr “Orac is obsessed with vaccines” Gordon have, thanks to the global reach of the internet, continued to terrify parents look after the MMR=autism claim was debunked.

From Dr Jay:
David, why this incredible obsession with vaccines and autism?

When it suits you, feel free to move on to a discussion of other possibilities for the increase in the incidence of ASD like flame retardants and plastics.

Does this endless series of vaccine/autism columns never get boring to the rest of you?


That’s rich, considering your latest book, “Preventing Autism: What You Can Do to Protect Your Children Before and After Birth?

To which, one of your talking points in your book is: Dr.
Gordon’s sensible approach to decisions about vaccinations.

I’m sorry, I think my irony meter just imploded under the staggering weight of your hypocrisy.

Dr. Gordon — You are in a position to do *so much* to correct much of the misinformation that exists around vaccines. If you want parents to stop believing that there is a link between vaccines and autism, then shout it from the rooftops. These parents don’t listen to their own doctors or other experts, but they would listen to you.

A couple of days ago Jamie Lynn Grumet’s facebook page shared an article from you (, using as the basis to tell parents that there was no public health risk if they chose not to vaccinate their children. That is simply untrue, and it would be really fantastic if you would say so.

@Jay Gordon:

Does this endless series of vaccine/autism columns never get boring to the rest of you?

Considering that I’m on the spectrum, vaccinated, a pro vaccine and autism self advocacy blogger, and fearful of a backlash against autistics when the bodies start to pile up (and they will, thanks to liars like Wakefield), I’d say “definitely not”.

A related anecdote:

This weekend, I had the privilege of meeting my new baby cousin for the first time. I was shocked, however, to find that his parents had decided to use the ‘alternative schedule.’ Although they are new parents, these are otherwise reasonable people, both with advanced (but not scientific) degrees and fully capable of rational thinking. They were quite surprised at my shock, saying that they chose this alternative schedule because of ‘what they were hearing on the playground about vaccines.’ This decision was apparently not questioned by their pediatrician. I promptly sent them Dr. Offit’s article in Pediatrics about the alternative schedule, and needless to say they were quite shocked. They forwarded it on to their pediatrician, who had also never read the article; I’ll be interested to hear what his reaction is. This whole scenario definitely shook my aunt and uncle, who never even felt they had reason to question this ‘playground wisdom,’ given the amount of advice they have received from fellow parents that turned out to be useful. I don’t think they’ll be so trusting in the future.

My point in all this, Dr. Jay, is that while you may be ‘bored’ of the vaccine/autism discussion — although I’m sure you’re not bored of those royalty checks — what you engage in is the worst kind of scaremongering: abusing a position of authority to take advantage of those who don’t know any better.

From Liz Ditz’ link:
Stephen Bustin listed four failures in Wakefield’s studies:
1. The key publication shows no data
2. Unreliable technique and protocols
3. Disregard for controls
4. Lack of reproducibility
Huh, it sounds just like Burzynski. These guys are scary, and thankfully Orac blogs.

@AdamG – congrats on the tiny new relative. A future RIer I hope, who’ll one day tell of cousin Adam’s intervention.

It’s desperately sad that educated, scientifically literate parents (and apparently their paediatrician) are still falling for this surge of boiling arsegravy.

On your cousin’s behalf, thank you. Hopefully your aunt and uncle will start a new playground rumour that *gasp* as much as various promoters of “alternative schedules” bleat about the standard schedule being untested and unsafe (which… no),, they’re making money from fear, by selling people on totally untested “alternatives”!

Jay had the unmitigated gall….

Well, here’s Emily Willingham’s introduction to his PR pitch.

The hatefulness of releasing a book called Preventing Autism on World Autism Awareness Day and what some of us call Autism Acceptance Day surpasses my ability to comprehend. No, I haven’t read the book. No, I won’t be purchasing a book called Preventing Autism and have that in my house where my autistic son can see it.

She goes on to annotate her responses to Jay’s bilge:

Jay left the following comment on the above post:


Autism is a medical condition with genetic predisposition and environmental triggers. I do not want to “prevent [your] son” and you know that.

Children and families affected by autism have harder lives because they they don’t get adequate respect from the medical community, the government or the insurance industry. Nonetheless, acceptance of a medical condition does not mean that you have to be thrilled to have it. Most parents would choose to know how to avoid autism in their families. They might be right, wrong or judgmental about ASD but they deserve access to information about chemical exposure which may change the incidence of ADHD, ASD and other neurological conditions. Your disdain for this book was expected. I respect what you do but have trouble with your blind spots.


I never tire of or get bored with the diverse and often highly creative schemes alt med folk use in order to sell books or products as well as get hits on websites- amongst them fomenting fear and mistrust of vaccines, medical interventions and other aspects of modern living that veer away from so-called ‘natural living’…
‘Living as our ancestors did’ is one of the myths used to sell products and ideas by those I survey.

I have no desire to live ‘closer ot nature’ as my forebears did- most of them probably didn’t survive long or very well.

When it suits you, feel free to move on to a discussion of other possibilities for the increase in the incidence of ASD like flame retardants and plastics.

Gee, Jay, BPA was ubiquitous before the “epidemic” and was being phased out from baby bottles and cups well before the FDA officially halted it in 2012. Halogenated flame retardants have been around for 40 years, so they don’t exactly explain the “epidemic” either, now do they? Don’t baby mattresses usually have ticking? So what are you proposing, a prospective analysis of house dust with ASD as an endpoint?

Dr. Jay,

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability, not a medical condition and it’s you who have your blinders on. The body of knowledge in autism doesn’t support brain injury based research (and not even gut injury regardless of what your pals say).

Pubmed list 17383 carefully sourced publications for which the types are listed in this query:

“Child Development Disorders, Pervasive”[Mesh] AND (Clinical Trial[ptyp] OR Journal Article[ptyp] OR Letter[ptyp] OR Meta-Analysis[ptyp] OR Multicenter Study[ptyp] OR Practice Guideline[ptyp] OR Randomized Controlled Trial[ptyp] OR Review[ptyp] OR systematic[sb] OR Twin Study[ptyp] OR Validation Studies[ptyp])

Among these type, the precious few brain injury based autism studies have been superseded by neuroimaging studies for which some studies show more total activations as compared to neurotypical, some less activation but all of this is murky in light of the finding that the minicolumns’ size in autism is slightly smaller (25.4­­~um as opposed to 27.2~um IIRC) because even in case of less total activation, there may be the same number of minicolumns activated as neurotypicals control.

the Wakefield et al. body of knowledge pale in comparison to the total body of knowledge on autism.

So tell me, what are you going to do with that? Are you going to be part of the problem by favoring an eugenic of autistics individuals or else, you’ll be part of the solution by updating your body of knowledge to more current standard?



Halogenated flame retardants have been around for 40 years, so they don’t exactly explain the “epidemic” either, now do they?

The MMR vaccine has also been around for over 40 years.

The irony here is that because science is a perpetual state of uncertainty converging on consensus, the antivaxers and their ilk can exploit the balanced terminology of scientific work (“not consistent with”, “no compelling evidence”) as leaving wiggle room for them; they consider that science’s refusal to state absolute revealed truth is a concession to their view, rather than an accurate reflection of the impossibility of proving a negative. Naturally they also demand that no vaccine be released until the negative has been proven.

One thing remains constant: it’s always the vaccines – autism this week, something else next week, always the vaccines.

Well, here’s Emily Willingham’s introduction to his PR pitch.

Ah, now it’s all clear. He popped in to pimp his new shtick.

“How will they justify their actions ten years from now?” Oh thank frak dos that mean if in 10years time every credible study and researcher still shows that vaccines don’t cause autism the anti-vac movement will stop claiming it does?

Just curious, did all of this vaccines-cause-autism activism exist before the Wakefield study, or is it just a consequence of his research? (I don’t know whether to put ironic quotes around “research” or not.)

Dr Jay Gordon @ #19:
David, why this incredible obsession with vaccines and autism?
When it suits you, feel free to move on to a discussion of other possibilities for the increase in the incidence of ASD like flame retardants and plastics.

I’m kinda puzzled here.
(1) Dr Gordon is promoting a theory on the causes of autism and how to avoid them (plastics!!).

(2) Obviously his cause is hindered by the network of websites of obsessive loons who promote the vaccination theory of autism etiology, in all its goalpost-shifting variants (as collateral damage to their goal of hindering the cause of public health in general).

(3) Orac sometimes writes posts attacking those obsessive loons, their word-salad rhetoric, and their rectally-sourced misinformation. He is therefore helping Dr Gordon already.

I would have expected more gratitude.

Liz, I think he was a catalyst for the “vaccines cause autism.”

There had been an anti-vaccine movement, but it was not terribly focused. I believe many of the claims before 2000 were for vaccines causing SIDS, and other things. There was the hold over from the claims that the DTP vaccine caused seizures. Here is an article showing some of the arguments:

I kind of remember it starting to pop up before the turn of the century on the listserv I was on for my son’s disability. It was also about the time that some lawyers were trying to sue about ADHD medications (they lost). I was told on the listserv that some big research was going to show that vaccines were dangerous, and it turned out to be this:
Med Hypotheses. 2001 Apr;56(4):462-71.
Autism: a novel form of mercury poisoning.

And the lawyers who were trying to cash in on ADHD medication with a website called “ritalinfraud” created a new website called “autismfraud” where they threw around that paper. They were associated with SafeMinds, which you can see from the Wayback Machine:

Sometime, it is really irritating to see all the autism charlatan getting a tribune and making money on top of autism but I guess that is an example of the dark side of peoples.

I keep getting torn on the issue of dedicating my career to do autism research (and see if there would be a positive impact) or doing something else. I hate being in that situation.


Dr. Jay Gordon,

Edith Prickly in comment number 12 mistyped ”fantastasies” when she was talking about the fantasies rampant in the antivaccination movement. “Fantastasies” = “fantasies” + “metastases” is what the word puts me in mind of, and this is in fact an excellent word-coinage relating to why we do what we do.

We will NEVER get bored of refuting antivax arguments, not while there is a chance that these antivax fantasies held by a few might metastasize into the public health crisis that it has become. We on this blog will fight those fantastasies wherever we find them, so that others who read about it will stand that much less of a chance of falling prey to it. We care about people. We care about children. We care about minimizing human suffering. So we fight for vaccination with our words.

Frankly, as a doctor, as a human being, you should be ashamed that you are not doing the same.

To which, one of your talking points in your book is: Dr. Gordon’s sensible approach to decisions about vaccinations.

@ Darwy, Dr. Jay also claims in his book that he can show us how to make sperm “healthy”. It is painful to think what he suggests to avoid de novo mutations.

@Edith Prickly – “fantastasies” is an excellent word to describe the way the anti-vax crew have co-opted so many things to fit their broken perception.

My son has severe cerebral palsy due to a brain injury at birth and we were told that HBOT would build new pathways in the brain so that his brain injury wouldn’t be as severe.

We went through with the treatments and 2 months and about $10,000 (between the treatments themselves and rent/living costs as my son and I had to move to another city in order to do the treatments) later, surprise surprise NOTHING HAPPENED. It wasn’t until months later that I realized how much we were LIED TO by the so-called expert who had no problem taking our money even though he too has a child with CP. I can only blame myself, of course. Sigh.

TL:DR…..I had a bad HBOT experience, do I get a cookie?

Another vote for “fantastasies” here!

What you got Dr Jay, nothing? Another hit’n’run? Bless your heart, it’s almost as if you breathe sycophancy instead of oxygen, and gasp and struggle without it.

All gobsh¡te and no trousers.


Like they say, haters gonna hate.

And you are definitely are a hater.

And considering the people that comment on your webpage, I’d say you are a hypocrite in your comments.


Actually, I’m generally quite cheerful.

And what does that make you?

And considering the people that comment on your webpage, I’d say you are a hypocrite in your comments.

Yah, looking at Bob’s FB page, it appears to be a low-rent version of MDC.

Coined words, even apparently accidentally, are often fabulously appropo. I give fantastasies a 5 stars review. Language is supposed to be dynamic. And it’s in the service of a much better purpose than “sexting”

When it suits you, feel free to move on to a discussion of other possibilities for the increase in the incidence of ASD like flame retardants and plastics.

Dr. Jay, what evidence is there supporting the premise that flame retardants and/or plastics are causally linked to the devfelopment of autism? Be specific.

Unless there is actual evidence to support such an association, after all, your suggestion is functionally indistinguishable from “When it suits you feel free to move to a discussion of other possibilities for the increase in the incidence of ASD like the evil eye and demonic possession”.

What’s this cookie stuff? Some sort of internet putdown? I got it on a recent Orac post.

#58 Common misconception, actually! I may have depression but I’m pretty happy most of the time. Good try, though!

What’s this cookie stuff? Some sort of internet putdown?

‘Cookie’ in the interlattice browser sense of tokens placed on your computer by the website to keep track of which pages you recently viewed.
The recent comments in the “Recent Insolence returned” side-bar don’t show up if the cookie is out-of-date (as seems to happen frequently for Scienceblog sites such as RI), whereupon the only way to update it is to make a comment.

Dr. Jay wants to go after flame retardant chemicals now?

Tell me, Dr. Gordon – are you specifically targeting Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs), or just tri and polybrominated diphenyls?

I’d like to know which bandwagon to watch.

@hdb – Thanks. The question was re whether “cookie please”, cookie cookie, etc. is some sort of response to a previous posted comment in new-fangled internet hip language that eludes us backwoods types if we are offline for 12 hours or 12 days…

#73 I still vote for dihydrogen monoxide. It’s such a scary chemical flame retardant, and they use it in nuclear reactors too!

I will note that the cookie issue with respect to Insolence Returned was solved for me when I told Firefox to not delete cookies upon closing. (On mine, Preferences -> Privacy -> “Settings” under “Clear history when Firefox closes” -> uncheck “Cookies” under “History.”)

Re: parents who think something is “broken” with their autistic child, or how that kid is somehow not “theirs”…

Every time I look at my son, I don’t doubt his autism. Nor do I think there is something wrong or broken with him. Nor do I wonder where it “came from,” or what the “cause” is.

No, all I do is look at his mom and dad. I look at my idiosyncrasies, oddities, social inabilities, the entire damn list, and I say, “Autistic? My kid? Yep, that totally makes sense.”

I feel little sympathy for parents of autistic children who think their kids need to be “fixed,” or turn to pseudoscience or quackery in a bid to feel important or righteous. A little sadness toward them; a strong sense of being offended; but little sympathy, and surprisingly no empathy, because while our parental experiences may be the same, our attitudes and responses could not possibly be more different.

Dr Jay is right. The parents of autistic children don’t get the same respect as other parents from doctors. I have experienced this myself. As soon as a doctor learns my son is autistic he/she assumes I’m antivax, anti-science and treat me like a fool.

I’m trying to find a fix for Chromium-based browsers, but I’m currently baffled. Deleting all scienceblogs cookies fixes ‘Recent Insolence delivered’ but sends ‘Recent Insolence returned’ back to February 14th. I’ll see what posting this comment does.

My ‘Recent Insolence returned’ is now up to date, but the most recent ‘Recent Insolence delivered’ is March 14th.
I’m confused.

I get complete and total respect from doctors. No one assumes I’m anti-Vax (we actually do have an anti-Vaxxer in the building – which is shocking, considering my line of work).

I get plenty of misunderstanding from random people (pity, too), but the medical community has been great. I could see it not being that way, but I personally have never experienced it.

Dr. Gordon – I can understand your viewpoint on the choice of blogging material Orac picks, though I don’t share it. However all it takes for falsehood to win out is for people with facts to remain silent.

Roger, I had pretty much the whole of the GP surgery staff on stand by to talk me into getting my son the 2nd MMR because I insisted on an appointment outside of baby clinic hours. They thought I’d come at a quiet time to “discuss my fears.” Told them the only thing I’m afraid of is butterflies and Rod Stewart when I was little.

Roger, I had pretty much the whole of the GP surgery staff on stand by to talk me into getting my son the 2nd MMR because I insisted on an appointment outside of baby clinic hours. They thought I’d come at a quiet time to “discuss my fears.” Told them the only thing I’m afraid of is butterflies and Rod Stewart when I was little.

@ Autismum:

Rod Stewart I can understand but butterflies?
They’re pretty and fragile.. like we’re supposed to be-

I’m trying to find a fix for Chromium-based browsers, but I’m currently baffled.

See if you have the “Continue where I left off” preference enabled. I can’t use Chrome (old hardware), so I can’t test it.

Dr. Jay wants to go after flame retardant chemicals now?
Tell me, Dr. Gordon – are you specifically targeting Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs), or just tri and polybrominated diphenyls?

I am waiting for Dr Gordon to announce that “There are no autistic Amish!”.

“Rhazes (806-932AD)”

*coughs* I’ll have whatever he was having!

William Hyde

Late to this, but Autismum – I was terrified of Adam Ant when I was a kid. Screaming nightmares, panic attacks, the whole nine yards. I can totally understand your aversion to Rod.

I’m very afraid of moths. And to me, butterflies are just moths who have put makeup on to fool us into thinking they’re not months.

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